Connect with us
Jim Cutler Demos

BSM Writers

Daryle Johnson Became Guru And Guru Became A Star

“Then I realized I represent the fans, I won the competition because I know how to relate to the fans. I’m not ashamed of that.”

Jack Ferris

Published

on

Daryle "The Guru" Johnson

It doesn’t take long to get comfortable with Rodney Lofton.  The 58-year-old is quick to chat about all sorts of topics, most notably SEC football, his playing days at Murray State, and his 32 year career as a firefighter.  His voice is filled with life, love and pride – but he takes it to a whole different level when you bring up his younger brother Daryle.

Image result for daryle guru johnson

“Daryle?  He’s been an argumentative loud-mouth kid his whole life,” Rodney proclaims affectionately, as only an older brother could.

Today, Rodney is remembering the night that would change his brother’s life forever.  It took place on a cool February 2012 evening at the Englander in San Leandro, not far from Union City where Daryle grew up. 

That night the sports bar was hosting auditions for “Lucky Break” – a competition developed by 95.7 The Game to find hidden talent in the Bay Area.  To say that Daryle loved sports radio would be a severe understatement – but he wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about getting involved.  He was once on the cusp of a potential career in the business once before, and it only ended in heartbreak.  

“We were just having fun watching people audition,” Daryle remembers fondly. “I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go up there, but my brother,” he pauses, shaking his head slightly as if he still can’t believe how the night worked out.  “My brother looked me in the eye and asked ‘are you really gonna just let your dreams die?'”

Daryle’s dream of a career in sports was born 33 earlier in 1979 thanks in no small part to his grandmother and a paper route.

“My grandma gave me a transistor radio and I remember listening to the Pirates/Orioles World Series,” recalled Johnson, an excitement in his voice that would rival his 9 year old counterpart.  “The day after each game I would always check the paper for the box score, and I saw Willie Stargell was from the East Bay just like me.  He had an afro – just like me.”

To this day Daryle remains a Pirates fan, but his appreciation of Pittsburgh ends there.  In the NBA it’s always been the Warriors, and he’s a diehard Cowboys fan as a direct result of his father’s annual road trips through Dallas on their way to see family in Mississippi.  His fanhood might have been spread across the country, but it was as passionate as it was diverse.

“Growing up he would never shut about about his Cowboys crap, his Barry Bonds Pirate crap,” explained Rodney, his tone a healthy blend of nostalgia and real irritation.  “He always had something to say.”

Outside of Rodney, no one was more familiar with Daryle’s unwavering opinions than KNBR’s Pete Franklin.  Throughout the 90’s and his 20s, Daryle was working as a driver for Ikon Office Solutions.  Spending the vast majority of his day delivering copiers and printers to clients all over the Bay Area, Daryle listened religiously to Franklin’s afternoon drive show, eventually calling in.  In a matter of weeks, those calls became more and more frequent.  

Image result for pete franklin knbr

“I would come on to defend the Cowboys, but then he would just let me go on and on with all kinds of topics.  Any time he disagreed with me, he’d flush me – play the toilet sounder and I’d be gone.  My friends used to eat that up.” 

The cadence of Johnson’s voice picks up when he discusses his call-in days, and gets especially warm when recalling Franklin.  Through the countless calls, the loud disagreements and the abrupt flushes – Daryle and Franklin developed an unlikely bond, an accidental friendship forged over 50,000 watts.  The kind of friendship in which neither party uses a first name.  

“One time I was on a roll talking about something, tossing around a lot of facts and P just stopped me right in middle of the sentence and asked; ‘How do you know all this, are you some kind of Guru?'”

In that moment – Guru was born.  Daryle Johnson’s alter ego.  A man with no shortage of opinion, ready and willing to breakdown and discard any argument that stood in his way.  Guru quickly became a favorite among other KNBR hosts and remained a consistent caller even after Franklin left the station in 1997.  In fact, Guru became so popular over the years, it eventually lead to Daryl receiving a voicemail from KNBR General Manager Tony Salvatore, asking for a call back on his personal line.

“I played that voicemail for everyone,” chuckled Johnson.  “I couldn’t believe it – like there was actually going to be some gold for me at the end of the rainbow.”

When he worked up the nerve to call back, Daryle couldn’t believe the conversation he was having with the top decision maker of his beloved radio station.

“He was asking me questions like if I thought I could do a show with Tom Tolbert and Ralph Barbieri – and I was like ‘Yes!  Yes, I think I can!'”

Daryle’s eyes still light up as he thinks back to that conversation. Unfortunately for Guru – that particular rainbow yielded no gold.  Despite waiting by the phone and following up several times, nothing ever materialized from that promising phone call that filled him with such optimism.  The days turned to weeks and the weeks melted into months, and Johnson knew his dream of making a living on a microphone had just about died.  Guru’s shot had come and gone.

“I gave up man,” Daryle sighs, allowing his shoulder to drop for just a moment before picking himself back up. “So I focused on my job, I focused on work.”

At this point in Daryle’s career, he had ascended from a driver to a sales role for Ikon.  He was spending less time delivering product and more time dealing directly with clients.

“I figured if I wasn’t going to see my name on a radio show, at least I could see my name in bright lights high on the sales board.”

Daryle channeled the same charm and conviction that made him a part time celebrity on the air and focused on being the best salesman he could be.  As the years passed he found himself making a nice salary working as an Admissions Rep for Devry University in Sacramento with his wife Mia and their three children.  Daryle Johnson had found success in life, and Guru had become a memory.

“My job all day was hearing different stories from people, where they were coming from, where they wanted to be – and I would help them on their way.  It was great, I loved meeting new people – but I couldn’t stop thinking about the Giants game the night before.  I couldn’t shake sports from my head.”

It was that last ember of sports passion still burning in Daryle that lead him to the Englander that February evening.  95.7 The Game was the new station in town.  It appeared to be an avenue for the blue collar sports fan, the passionate sports fan.  A station seemingly made for Guru.  A quick word of encouragement from Rodney was all Daryle needed to muster up the courage to compete.  

Image result for the new englander san leandro

“He walked up straight up there and they asked for his name,” explains Rodney, the pride rising in his voice.  “He says ‘it’s Guru,’ and everyone there goes ‘WHO?  Guru!?”

Present at the auditions that night was 95.7 PD Jason Barrett, the architect of the competition, who has no problem remembering his first impression of Daryle.

“When he got on the mic he started dropping opinion after opinion, and a number of clever lines and analogies on the Warriors and Hue Jackson.  He was loud, colorful, passionate, knowledgeable and had the gift of gab.”

In a matter of minutes, Daryle had resurrected Guru.

“He went up there and he was just on,” Rodney laughs.  “I wasn’t surprised.”

After the audition, Guru had punched his ticket as one of the final 16 contestants set to compete over a five week span on the airwaves in San Francisco.  He was beside himself with excitement, but was faced with a significant logistical issue – one that he found a way to turn into his advantage.  

“I was still working full time at Devry in Sacramento, so I would leave work a little early and drive straight to San Francisco.  I didn’t have any time to change so I’d walk in wearing my work suit, and everyone else is wearing jeans and jerseys.  Immediately I stood out as someone who was taking the role very seriously,” he smiles.  “It was a total accident, but I just rolled with it.  I played into the suit.  I felt like Denzel or Puff Daddy.”

Ask Daryle about that phase of the competition and he’s not lost for words.  

“I would walk in there pretty nervous.  There’s maybe 100 people watching along with a camera, but I just used all of those nerves and turned it into confidence.  Why not me?  I would talk directly into the camera, I’d play to the crowd, I just did what I could to control the room.  Quickly I realized how much my experience in sales was helping me.  I knew people, I knew hot to connect with people. It clicked with me that working in sales I was hosting 6 different radio shows every day.”

In April, Guru received the news he had been hoping to hear since he was a kid.  He had won Lucky Break.  He would be paid to showcase his personality on a microphone.  

“It felt like destiny.  It felt like everything had happened for a reason leading up to that.  Maybe I wasn’t ready to host a show when I was in my late 20s or early 30s, but now I had my chance.”

Following the competition, Guru’s boss knew he had the talent, but he needed to see something else.
“The questions I had were; was he coachable?'” remembers Barrett.  “‘How would he respond to adversity and being challenged?  Can he handle having his ego bruised by being seen as the ‘contest winner?'”

Walking into the office as the ‘contest winner,’ is a feeling Daryle remembers all to well.

“It was in my head for a while.  I didn’t go to Syracuse to study broadcasting, I just won a contest and now I’m working here,” Daryle pauses as if Guru’s had enough of his humility and wants to steer the conversation.

“Then I realized I represent the fans, I won the competition because I know how to relate to the fans.  I’m not ashamed of that.”

With that attitude, and the will to improve everyday, Guru began his grind.  He started with a 2 hour slot every Sunday night by himself, gaining confidence week by week.

“I don’t know how good those early shows were,” Guru’s smile widens as he thinks back to the hours he spent cutting his teeth.  “But Jason Barrett stuck with me, and for that I’ll always be loyal to him.”

“He was very green,” Barrett admits today.  “I knew it’d take time for him to gain confidence.”  

It was the small things Daryle was doing off the air that earned his boss’ trust over time.

“He was very invested in trying to be good at this, and genuinely cared about getting better.  I saw him in the door early for shows and he wasn’t afraid to say ‘JB, be real with me, what did you think of the show?’ When I gave him tough love, he took it in stride and understood it was only to get him better.”

Perhaps most importantly, Daryle only worried about what he could control.  A change in management can be stressful for anyone, let alone to the guy who got a show because he won a contest.  So, when Don Kollins took over as Program Director in June of 2015, the Guru kept his head down and proved his value to the station.  Soon, his role in the building began to grow.

So, when Don Kollins took over as Program Director in June of 2015, the Guru kept his head down and proved his value to the station.  Armed with nothing more than his will to succeed and the unconditional support of his wife Mia, Guru made his impression.  Soon, his role in the building began to grow.  

“I was filling in for guys on the morning show, midday, and afternoon drive.  It was great, but naturally – once I started doing that, all I wanted was more.”

Eventually, in addition to working Saturdays and Sundays, Guru found a consistent home opposite Matt Steinmetz Monday through Friday from 10 am to Noon.  He was thrilled with his trajectory, but after years of building his reputation – one thing that eluded him was a contract.  A full time agreement between himself and the station with which he had developed so much.  

When Matt Nahigian came aboard as the station’s newest PD in late 2017, Daryle thought he might have to start all over again.  Once more he would have to shed the “contest winner” stigma and prove he was more than just a fan on a free ride.  He was wrong.

Image result for matt nahigian the game

“When I got the job the first thing I did was call all the hosts,” recalls Nahigian today.  “I spoke with Daryle for about an hour, and honestly – I realized I had a goldmine.”

As Nahigian saw it, Guru’s path via a contest wasn’t a blemish – it was an attribute.

“All I did was listen to the shows for two months and knew that Guru was exactly who we’re trying connect with – he can relate to the listeners.  Yes, his path was unorthodox and out of the box, but I loved it.”

In October of 2018, Nahigian presented Daryle “Guru” Johnson with a contract.  The young, brash, funny caller from the 90s had turned himself into a brand with which a major market radio station wanted to invest.  In his own backyard.  It was a humbling moment Guru still has a hard time finding the words to describe.  Instead, he’s quick to rattle off the names of colleagues and mentors who credits with putting him in that position.

“Chris Townsend, Dan Dibley, Damon Bruce, Rick Tittle, Matt Steinmetz, Mychael Urban, Zakariah Slenderbrook.  These guys taught me different things at different times – even if I didn’t want to hear them.  They helped me tremendously.”

Nearly twenty years after he thought his dream had passed him by, and seven years after his 2 hour slot on Sunday nights, Guru finally has his name in lights.

Bonta, Steinmetz & Guru own 95.7’s midday slot from 10 am to 2 pm.
Nearly a decade after “Lucky Break,” Jason Barrett has nothing but praise for his contest winner.

Image result for Bonta, Steinmetz & Guru

“Guru’s earning a midday slot at The Game is a testament to his talent, personality, and presence.  But it doesn’t happen without preparation, patience, sacrifice and continued improvement.”

As for Rodney?  He’s far from shocked at his baby brother’s success.

“It’s incredible.  He’s just a dude that got his shot in San Francisco of all places.  But if it was going to happen to anyone, it should’ve happened to him,” Rodney pauses.  It’s clear he couldn’t be prouder of his brother, but every kind thought seems incomplete without a slight dig.  

“I’m glad everyone has a chance to hear his voice.  I’ve had to listen to that voice his whole life.”

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

BSM Writers

Meet The Bettors: Jeremy Stein, SportsGrid

“You know, when we first started SportsGrid, a lot of the opportunity that we’ve seen in the past year, are opportunities that we never would have dreamed about.”

Demetri Ravanos

Published

on

Meet the Bettors - Jeremy Stein

Remember when America was debating whether or not daily fantasy sports was a form of gambling? There was never much of a question for Jeremy Stein. He knew it was gambling, because he was playing all the time.

It’s hard to say whether or not he knew that his employer, Metamorphic Ventures, investing in one of these companies would lead him down a new career path. All he knew is that there was something to this business.

Stein was more than just kind of successful in the daily fantasy world. He became the first person to ever win a million-dollar prize twice in the same calendar year back in 2016. But that was in the early days. Soon, the DFS sites would become more popular, and the games would get a lot harder. 

Like many sharp players during that time, Stein leaned into data to set his lineups. It was something that he and his partner Lee Maione quickly recognized as an opportunity. If you had strong data and took it to a host that was entertaining, it would create a product every sports fan in the country might value.

And that is how SportsGrid was born.

Today, Stein is the company’s CEO. In our conversation, presented by Point to Point Marketing, we touch on the opportunities embracing FAST TV has created for the brand, what opportunities will arise from the growth of women’s sports, and so much more.

Demetri Ravanos: What is the hole that would exist in the market if SportsGrid went away tomorrow? What segment of bettors do you look at and say, “no one can serve them like we do”?

Jeremy Stein: That’s a really interesting question because, we had a few tailwinds at SportsGrid. The first was sports gambling, where the government flipped the switch and said, “go grow in ways that you never thought were imaginable,” right?           

The second tailwind that we have is connected TV. SportsGrid is on 95% of all connected TVs. We have over thirty different distribution partners throughout the United States. So, we have very considerable scale within our category, and what we kind of discovered very early on on TV is the bulk of content on connected TVs is playback. If you look at FAST channels, there’s probably 2000 or more of them at this point, a lot of them are single IP channels, meaning there’s been a very successful sitcom and that IP owner just has a 24/7 channel of that IP going.          

The real niche that we got early on is that we are the only live sports network on a lot of these platforms. So, while we do cater to gambling enthusiasts, if you will, we really have a viewership body that encompasses all sports fans. That’s part of how we have evolved over time, because we were able to pick up on that observation that our opportunity is just a little bit bigger than focusing on, you know, I’m not going to call it a narrow vertical, but sports betting in many respects is a little bit narrow. 

DR: It’s a niche vertical. I think all sports talk kind of is in that way. I was going to ask you about the appeal of FAST TV, but it seems like you laid it out perfectly there. So instead, let’s talk about the technology and future opportunities. I wonder if you look at what Roku has just done with Major League Baseball and think that opens up possibilities for SportsGrid that maybe you hadn’t considered before. 

JS: The simple answer to that is yes. You know, when we first started SportsGrid, a lot of the opportunity that we’ve seen in the past year, are opportunities that we never would have dreamed about. We have looked at live rights. We have looked at tier one live rights in the past year.           

It just goes back to the trend. Last year was the first year where homes that do not subscribe to cable outnumbered those that do. You know, now we don’t just have a term called cord cutters. We also have a term that’s called cord-nevers. I think that it is just the natural evolution of where the leagues are going to go.           

I mean, we just saw Netflix do a deal with the NFL. While I understand that that is not FAST. I do think that over time and, you know, this could be a decade in the future, but I do think that you will see, a lot more sports pop up on these platforms. 

DR: Yeah, I could totally see that, myself. What did Scott Ferrall bring to SportsGrid when he came in? Certainly name recognition, but what else, in a business sense, did he bring? 

JS: Scott is great and his show right now is sponsored by Bet MGM, and Bet MGM is a very important commercial partner for SportsGrid. Both sides are very happy with the way that that relationship is blossoming. So he’s very important in that respect.           

You know, SportsGrid is not just 18 hours of live video content on a daily basis. We’re 21 hours of live original audio. We have channel 159 on Sirius XM. And of course, Scott is by far and away our biggest talent in the audio category. He does have the Sirius XM audience. You know, he came from Howard Stern way back in the day. So, he’s a pretty dynamic talent, if you will, for SportsGrid. We’ve been very happy to leverage him in various ways. 

DR: Yeah. I sort of have a two-part question here, because doing what I do, when I go to SportsGrid.com, one of the first landing spots for me is industry news. How much do you think the average user of SportsGrid is interested in things like when states go legal, something like the pushback going on in Florida right now, and will that get to the Supreme Court from a media standpoint?           

I tell sports radio hosts all the time that people care far less about us than we think they do. What about in the gambling world? 

JS: News is a very big category, and obviously it’s broad, right? It’s not just general sports news. It is what is happening in the gambling industry. We are fortunate enough to have a lot of data on every show that we produce, and we have seen a lot of positive momentum uncovering specific industry news. So, a lot of what you actually see, on the web, for example, we believe that is largely a gap in the market based on our viewership.           

One thing you’re going to start to see on SportsGrid, you know, more and more is we launched a college transfer portal show. There is no major media outlet on broadcast television that is doing a dedicated show, relating specifically to the college transfer portal. It makes college football and college basketball year-round sports. We believe that that’s a big gap in the market. So, you’ll also see a lot of that content flowing through our website too, and not just on our website, but also a lot of our syndication partners like MSN.           

Everything we do here has a data driven focus. So if you’re seeing a lot of a specific vertical, there’s a reason for it. It’s largely because that’s what our viewers demand. 

DR: Interesting. So, from the standpoint of what is going on in the gambling industry, the idea of the Supreme Court taking up a case related to Florida is interesting because it is such a complicated issue there, as it involves the Indian Gaming Act. Do you think we’re going to see that go in front of the Supreme Court? 

JS: Look, I’m certainly not in a position to comment on a legal matter that, you know, I’m not really close to it, to be perfectly honest with you. But Florida is a very populous state, and that is, you know, another reason, to your point, why there is so much interest in it, right?           

I think it does speak to the fact that there is a real demand for sports wagering within the state of Florida. But look, the complexities and nuances behind all of the lobbying and a lot of the legal cases that are happening there are certainly beyond our scope. 

DR: Yeah. I was reading an article in the Miami Herald earlier this week that was talking about the effect Lionel Messi has had in betting markets around the world, because even if MLS isn’t on a country’s soccer radar, he certainly is. Can you think of any other athlete that has had that sort of effect on bettors or on his league, where he can get bettors to pay attention to something they usually would not? 

JS: I think the examples of that are probably few and far between. You know, soccer is one of the true international sports, and with that comes a very large betting market. I think it is certainly kind of unique in that sense, right? You’re not going to see that with an NBA player moving into the Chinese basketball league. You might see the media attention that kind of happens there. It’s certainly not going to drive the amount of betting handle that we have seen in soccer. 

DR: What about betting as the popularity of women’s sports and female athletes have increased? What has been the demand for content from you guys, whether it’s Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut, the women’s NCAA tournament, or whatever it might be? 

JS: There’s a ton of demand. We’ve always had an interest in women’s sports. We’ve produced, in the past, shows for the WNBA. And I think that that demand is only going to continue to grow. Women’s sports, from an economic standpoint, is a huge area of growth. Alongside of that comes all of the viewership. So, we’re very excited, about women’s sports. You’ll absolutely see a lot more coverage from SportsGrid going forward. 

DR: So I want to wrap here just sort of with a follow up to that, because the way you guys think about creating content with providing that data to talented people that can command attention, as women’s sports grow in popularity, and it then becomes more and more of a part of what you do, do you foresee the people you have now, because they have the talent, being able to intelligently cover it or would you  have to go out and hire people more versed in and live in that world? 

JS: It’s a little bit of both. You know, you always want to find a talent that resonates with the audience. We’re pretty confident that we have a few of those in our stable. But of course, we will always look to bring in fresh faces. Yeah, it’s a really dynamic market, and it’s something that we are incredibly excited about. 

To learn more about Point-To-Point Marketing’s Podcast and Broadcast Audience Development Marketing strategies, contact Tim Bronsil at [email protected] or 513-702-5072.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BSM Writers

An Easy Way for Sports Radio Stations to Get Publicity for Their Talent and Brands

The truth is, we can do a much better job at our jobs with a little help from you.

Published

on

Stock photo of a person talking into a megaphone
Credit: Pexels.com

Having been in this role with Barrett Sports Media for almost six months, there is one thing that has really surprised me. I am shocked at how little we hear from some sports radio stations. There are some PDs and other executives out there who do a great job keeping us informed of any changes and one or two who send us information when they have something special going on, but the silence from the heavy majority of leaders in sports radio is shocking and confusing to me.

When I was running stations or sales teams, I would often say, “If we aren’t going to tell our story, who the heck else is going to do it for us?”

Well, in this case, we will do it for you if you let us know about it and it’s worthy of coverage. It’s like that other famous line in Jerry Maguire – “Help me, help you.”

Perhaps we just need to let you know what we are looking for. So, let me take this time and space to let you know and maybe we can work together more often moving forward.

Obviously, we will cover your major personnel changes. If you are adding someone to your team or giving someone a promotion for the hard work they have done, let us know about it. There are no stories we would like to tell more than ones about people in our industry advancing. We want to highlight those people and the stations and companies that are taking notice of what someone is doing and rewarding them for it.

Where are the rising stars? We profile many people in the industry and enjoy doing that so others can read about successful people and learn what it is that makes them stand out. This can be a weekday host, someone standing out during off-peak times or producers, digital or promotions staff. Let us know who is performing at a high level and perhaps we can feature them and tell their story so others can see who they are and the work they’ve done.

On the business side, I’d like to feature your top salespeople or sales leaders in one of my ‘Seller to Seller’ features. Let me know someone who is killing it out on the streets and let’s highlight their success. Personally, I’d love to write about some sellers who are fairly new to the industry but are really having success, whether that be a younger person hired or someone who had never been in the space before but has really caught on. Or who is your veteran seller who has done the best job of adapting to the new, digital world?

What is your station doing that is unique? There are a couple of stations, which you can probably figure out if you are paying attention, that are very good about sending us a quick note when they are doing something different or special. We may not always write a story about it, but several times we have, and we would not have known about it had the station management not given us a heads up.

I like to hear about the creative process, and I know other station managers appreciate learning what others are doing to creatively drive audience or revenue. Have someone in your building who is the creative brain behind many of your ideas? Let us know about them, let’s let everyone know about them.

We are here to cover the industry. It would be great if we could listen to all of your stations each and every day, but that would be impossible. Plus, you know what is about to happen so getting the information out to us beforehand can help us plan our coverage. The truth is, we can do a much better job at our jobs with a little help from you. I know everyone is busy but think about what it would mean to a staff member for someone to reach out and say, ‘Your boss told us about the great work you’ve been doing,’ or ‘We heard about the great idea you came up with, we want to tell the story about what you created.’

I’d also like to do more stories that relate to things you have to deal with on a day-to-day basis, stories that can be written that others may look at and learn something from, maybe get a tip on how to handle a particular situation or just get your thoughts on a particular media story. I plan to reach out to more of you to get your thoughts on things happening in our industry. You are the leaders who are there to take this format into the future, I want to know what you think, and I believe that is what our readers want as well.

When you take a step back and think about what we get to do for a living, that we all get to be in and around sports coverage in our communities, that’s pretty cool. Let’s work together to help advance the format by keeping people up to date on the great things going on in sports radio.

I am not hard to reach. My email is [email protected] and while I know several of you, the majority I do not know, but I’d like to. Reach out, let me know what’s happening at your station, send over a topic you want to hear what others might think about or let’s just connect and next time I’m looking for someone to give their thoughts and opinions, perhaps I can reach out to you as a thought leader in the space.

The invitation is there to get your station, your people and your successes highlighted. I don’t think I can make it more clear or easier. I hope you take advantage of it.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Best Thing I Heard Recently

I was flipping through SiriusXM last week and caught Mike Florio talking on Pro Football Talk Live about the NFL schedule release and the topic was whether or not it is fair for certain teams to have so many stand-alone games.

Florio’s point was that these games have “an extra layer of stress and strain.” Despite the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl last year with a prime-time heavy schedule, Florio used the Jets early season schedule as the best example of the league making it very tough on a team with quick turnarounds, international travel and several stand-alone games.

The segment really made you think. You can listen to the show by clicking here. Look for Episode 1956.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

In Case You Missed It

Last week, Andy Masur weighed in on what might happen to Inside the NBA now that it appears TNT will lose the NBA media rights. Andy says he is convinced the show only works on TNT and others have agreed saying networks like NBC probably wouldn’t allow the show to have as much freedom as TNT has.

About the current show, Masur wrote, “This show is the envy of all other studio shows. Other networks have tried to copy the formula but have failed. It’s really hard to duplicate what this show brings to the viewer.”

You can read Andy’s article by clicking here.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BSM Writers

One Mistake by a Sports Broadcaster Should Not Define Their Career

Look, it doesn’t mean that these broadcasters are horrible human beings.

Avatar photo

Published

on

Photos of Glen Kuiper, Charissa Thompson and Thom Brennaman

We’ve seen numerous broadcasters lose, his/her job over the years because of slip ups, hot mics and misspeaks. Situations that could have been avoided but happened. Some of these cases are more prominent than others, due to the profile of the job lost and the nature of the words said by the sports broadcaster.

I bring this up because of the dubious anniversary that just passed. It was a year ago, that Glen Kuiper was fired by the Oakland A’s for the use of the “N-word” during the opening of a telecast. The A’s were in Kansas City and Kuiper spoke about his trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with broadcast partner Dallas Braden during a pregame segment on NBC Sports California. Kuiper attempted to say, “We had a phenomenal day today, Negro League Museum and Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque,” but he mispronounced “negro,” in a way that sounded like a racial slur.

“A little bit earlier in the show, I said something that didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it to. I just wanted to apologize if it sounded different than I meant it to be said… I just wanted to apologize for that.” Kuiper said during the game.

After initially being suspended, Kuiper was let go May 22, 2023. This even after Negro League Museum President Bob Kendrick forgave him in a Tweet the night of the incident.

“I’m aware of the unfortunate slur made by Glen Kuiper. I welcomed Glen to the NLBM yesterday and know he was genuinely excited to be here,” Kendrick tweeted Saturday. “The word is painful and has no place in our society. And while I don’t pretend to know Glen’s heart, I do know that my heart is one of forgiveness. I hope all of you will find it in yourselves to do the same.”

Still teams don’t have a lot of choice but to suspend and/or fire the broadcaster in those cases. Slurs aren’t acceptable. Teams serve their entire fanbase, not just one specific race or gender. Offensive language about one is handled as offensive language about all. It’s a tough thing for teams to deal with for sure.

About 4 years ago, the Cincinnati Reds and their television flagship were put in a similar situation after an unfortunate on-air slip by broadcaster Thom Brennaman. The veteran announcer issued an on-air apology after he was caught uttering a gay slur on a mic he didn’t realize was on. Like with Kuiper, Brennaman was at first suspended and then fired. It also cost him his national job with Fox Sports.

Brennaman tried to grow from the experience and soon after he was pulled from the air, he heard from some folks in the LGBTQ+ community. From all over the country. Brennaman met with leaders of the community in Cincinnati. In one of those meetings, he encountered some who thought he was a fraud, just trying to get his job back. Brennaman was not. He has spent the last four years continuing to move forward.

He told me in 2022, “I don’t want the rest of my life or career to be defined by a lot of people as being a homophobe. That’s what I’ve tried to explain to my kids”. “There are going to be people and I’ve had a hard time coming to grips with this, because I know I am not a homophobe. I know I’m not. But I used a word that can put me in that category and some people are never going to let me out of that category. I wish they didn’t feel that way, and I know I’m not a homophobe, but you got to move on and keep doing the best you can, that’s all you can do.”

This is not a recent phenomenon either. Broadcasters in the 80’s, 90’s and into the 2000’s have also been let go for unsavory comments.

Many remember Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, who appeared as the ‘gambling expert’ on the early days of The NFL Today on CBS. He was let go in 1988 after making a racially insensitive comment to a reporter.

Steve Lyons, then of MLB on Fox was fired for a making a racially insensitive comment during Game 3 of the 2006 ALCS.

Danyelle Sargent dropped an F-bomb on national television after ESPNEWS experienced technical difficulties during her segment in 2006.

Emily Austen was a Fox Sports Reporter that was fired in 2016 for making insensitive remarks about Mexican, Jewish and Chinese people. She appeared on a Barstool sports podcast where she made the comments.

The list goes on and on.

Interestingly enough, Charissa Thompson wasn’t fired for admitting that she made up stories as part of her halftime reporting duties. She also appeared on a Barstool podcast and flippantly remarked how she did this early in her career. I know she didn’t insult a racial, religious or gender related group, but she certainly upset many in the industry. Especially those that cover the sidelines for various networks right now. Should ethics count the same as the other slip ups?

Some can get carried away when appearing on shows other than their own, like the example above with Austen and Thompson. There’s a callousness that pops up in the brain, saying, “this isn’t a network show, I can swear and be myself”. Dangerous thoughts to say the least. You are still representing your organization/network and yourself when appearing on these other shows and podcasts.  

Look, it doesn’t mean that these broadcasters are horrible human beings. Everybody makes a slip up. Broadcasters though are looked at in a different manner. They are the voices of our favorite sports and are supposed to be like a member of the family, right? We spend a lot of time with them during the season and feel like we get to know them.  So, it becomes that much more shocking when that person says something inappropriate.

The initial shock and awe of the situation causes many to rush to a certain judgement. There’s no getting around what was said, everybody heard it. Should a ‘slip up’ be a career death sentence though? I think that each should be taken into consideration separately. It also depends, to me, on the apology and what that broadcaster does to go beyond words to understand why the comments were hurtful.

I’m not sure what the correct answer is to all of this.

There are some that feel, instead of firing the broadcaster, suspend them and make them work to regain the trust of the team and network. They feel like there is a missed opportunity to maybe use these situations as an educational platform.

Broadcasters need to watch themselves much more closely these days. The second you say something incorrect, ridiculous or hurtful, it’s on social media. There is no escape. You are presumed guilty in the court of public opinion before you can even blink an eye.

In these moments, context and apology is everything. One slip up, mistake, misspeak or whatever you want to call them, is one too many. But, at the same time, long illustrious careers should not be defined by one incident.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement

Upcoming Events

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2024 Barrett Media.