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How A’s Cast Made Oakland The Digital Gem Of MLB

“I get thanked every day from fans. People are thrilled there’s finally A’s content out there”

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Catch an A’s highlight in 2019 and you’re quickly reminded the club still shares the Coliseum with the Raiders.  The final intersection of Major League Baseball and the NFL.  The last link between America’s past time and America’s game.  

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The faded sideline and hash marks streaking the outfield serve as a metaphor for the unique challenges the A’s face year in and year out.  These challenges would be viewed as problems to most sports franchises, excuses to underachieve.  

The A’s don’t see problems.  They see opportunities.

In 2003 Micheal Lewis provided an explanation to the question baseball fans had been asking themselves for years; how are the A’s consistently at the top of the standings and the bottom of the league’s payroll?  At the time, the Moneyball outline of Billy Beane’s philosophy towards building a team was viewed somewhere between radical and sacrilegious by baseball purists.  The franchise didn’t have the checking account to compete with their counterparts, so they relied on numbers.  They leaned on data.  They reassigned value from things like batting average to on-base percentage and did little else but win in the process.  The rest of the league took notice.  Within a couple years, “Sabermetrics,” went from an obscure term coined by Bill James in the 70’s to common sports vernacular.  

Billy Beane changed Major League Baseball – but he did it out of necessity, by playing the hand he was dealt.  16 years after Moneyball, history could be repeating itself in Oakland – this time in the broadcast booth.

It’s the 9th inning of Game 153 on a Wednesday afternoon in Oakland, but Chris Townsend’s energy level would make you think it’s Opening Day.

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“Are we going to have a scoreless game go into extra innings?  How often do you see that in the American League?  This hasn’t happened here all year,” he asks from his familiar corner of the Coliseum Press Box.

Townsend’s love for the game is infectious.  His interest in obscure stats (like the A’s MLB-best 19-5 record on Tuesdays) is beyond genuine.  He’s also the first to admit his enthusiasm has a lot to do with his new role as the voice of A’s Cast Live, the flagship program of the A’s Cast streaming station.  If this sounds foreign, that’s because it is.  It’s a somewhat unprecedented digital radio network conceived by the A’s, run by the A’s, and consumed by more than just A’s fans.

“The development of A’s Cast was driven out of necessity,” explains Matt Perl – the team’s Director of Performance Marketing and Broadcasting.

Perl is eluding to another challenge unique to the Oakland A’s – their lopsided share of the Bay Area market.  A’s fans don’t lack passion, and there’s always been frustration with the Giants being an above-the-fold favorite to most of Northern California’s media outlets.  

“We listened to the fans,” Perl continued.  “They kept saying they wanted more coverage, so A’s Cast is a direct result of that Fan Feedback.  There’s incredible digital streaming technology, we knew we could do it, we just needed the right people to help us grow.”

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Enter Chris Townsend, a Bay Area sports veteran who’s hosted morning shows, evening shows, pregame shows, post game shows, and everything in between.  As a personality who came up through terrestrial radio, Townsend was leaving his comfort zone by committing to a digital format, but it was a gamble he was happy to make.

“I love this franchise,” declared the 47-year-old.  “I’ve also always thought streaming radio was the future.”

Townsend’s job description wasn’t well defined when A’s Cast launched at the start of the season.  He would host a couple podcasts, and maybe a few live stream pre and posts a week.  All he had to start was a table, some equipment – and unprecedented access to the team.

“I went out there Opening Day and started talking, and they just kept bringing me people,” Townsend shrugged.  “I talked for four hours and after we found out fans were listening, so we just went from there.” 

And like that – A’s Cast was born. A streaming network with a handful of A’s related podcasts under it’s umbrella.  On paper, it all appears modest – until you look at the numbers. 

Since the debut on March 28, a staggering 181,000 hours of programming has been live streamed – and that’s just the beginning.  Perl’s department has counted nearly 500,000 individual downloads of the network’s podcasts – a 1500% increase over the previous 12 months.  It’s hard to wrap your mind around that kind of growth – but what’s more attractive is the team’s instant access to information no one’s ever had.

“The data is unbelievable,” exclaims Townsend.  “We could tell you how many people are listening in Hayward, how many people are listening in Fremont, and we get a crazy number of downloads out of Sacramento.”

The lifelong AM/FM radio veteran is giddy when discussing the information made available to him – as he should.  His team is making history, and it’s turning some heads.  

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Several weeks ago, MLB announced that the A’s surpassed every other franchise as the league’s most popular and downloaded property.  With the full support of baseball, the humble digital network started booking guests that would headline any national syndicated show. 

Scott Boras, Matt Vasgersian, Tim Kirkjian, Tom Verducci, Bert Blyleven, John Smoltz and Rickey Henderson are just a few examples of the laundry list of A-listers A’s Cast Live has featured.

“When we got Jim Palmer – I knew we were onto something,” Townsend paused and looks around the room before determining he was the only one who remembered the Hall of Famer’s career as a Jockey underwear model.  

“You guys don’t understand!  Palmer was more than a pitcher!  Everyone knew Jim Palmer!”

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“Jim Palmer was definitely before my time,” admits Cody Elias, A’s Cast Live producer.  

Elias, better known as “Commander Cody,” to A’s fans, joined the operation in May, when it was clear the A’s Cast experiment was here to stay.  Since Memorial Day, the franchise has committed to a 3 hour A’s Cast Live broadcast Monday through Friday.  They set up on the field during home games and at Townsend’s San Jose home during road trips.  Listen to an episode, and it becomes clear A’s Cast Live isn’t just for Oakland homers – it’s a baseball podcast that happens to specialize in the A’s, making it relatable to just about any baseball fan.

When Townsend and the Commander aren’t chatting with Hall of Famers on air, they’re talking with PR representatives from visiting clubs off air.  The Red Sox, Cardinals, Mariners and Angels are just a few clubs that have expressed interest in the operation.  While the data and the national attention is great, it pales in comparison to the feedback Townsend receives from the fans.

“I get thanked every day from fans.  People are thrilled there’s finally A’s content out there – and as I talk to one person, another may ask, ‘hey, what’s A’s Cast?’ If it’s an older fan I’ll set them up on their phone right there.  The whole thing has been pretty cool.”

Pretty cool is probably an understatement.  In less than 6 months, the A’s shifted from the younger brother in the Bay Area to MLB’s digital leader, all because they chose to listen to their fans.

So stand the A’s.  One foot planted in America’s final MLB/NFL venue, the other on the doorstep of the digital frontier.  A franchise that refuses to make excuses on the field or in the booth.

“It’s like Brad Pitt’s line in Moneyball when he’s talking to the scouts,” Townsend offered as he was setting up for the A’s Cast Live postgame show, minutes after Mark Canha’s walk off RBI single.  “Adapt or Die!”

BSM Writers

Jonas Knox Has Unique Chemistry With His New Partners

“The fact Brady and LaVar have accomplished as much as they have and can still laugh at themselves, and want to do that type of radio and have fun, that excites me.”

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Andrea Knox was so excited she could hardly stand it. If you understood the special mother-son bond she shared with her son Jonas, you’d better understand the magnitude of the situation. 

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Listening to the radio with his mom was a huge part of Jonas Knox’s childhood. The two routinely spent long hours in the car together, meaning the radio was always playing. Most of the time it was on sports radio, which is where Knox’s passion for the business was ignited at a young age. He even called sports radio stations as a kid. The thought of being on the radio was cool, but the added element of sports talk blew his mind. He was hooked. 

So when Andrea came to Jonas and claimed she had just heard his name on the radio, it was a huge deal to both of them. Shortly after, they were both back in their nearly-daily routine of listening to radio in the car together when she heard the familiar sound. 

“We were in the car that day and the commercial came on and she said, it’s this commercial!” Knox said.  “When I’m listening to it, what they said was, join us, it was like a teaser for a show and she thought they said Jonas. What always stuck out to me about that moment was I wasn’t upset they didn’t say my name, it was the fact that she was so excited about the possibility of them saying my name on the radio. It just meant so much to her.”

It brings Knox to tears when he thinks about how he recently got to call his mother and tell her he was hired as a permanent co-host of the new morning show on Fox Sports Radio. It was one of the best moments of his life. While on the phone with his mother, Knox kept using the word ‘we’ because his mother was his inspiration in radio. 

“My mom is my hero,” said Knox. “I get emotional talking about her, because she’s my best friend and she’s had a really, really tough go of it. She’s had the type of life where she didn’t really get to do what she wanted to do. She got dealt really bad luck and really bad cards. Getting to spend every single day with her and the opportunity to tell her that, hey, we did it, it was really special and it just meant a lot to me.”

Being the co-host of 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe with Brady Quinn and LaVar Arrington is a far cry from being the rat mascot at Chuck E Cheese, a telemarketer, working security, or any of the other odd jobs he’s had in his life. This is exactly the opportunity he’s been waiting for. It’s why he initially joined Fox Sports Radio as a weekend overnight editor, even though he had on-air experience and Annie Zidarevich told him the job meant he was at the end of the bench. It’s why he did overnight shows on the network for six years. It’s why he’s never called in sick or turned down any shift. He wanted to make himself available to any potential opportunity that opened. 

It’s also why he took the fill-in shifts for the morning show while Fox Sports Radio looked for Clay Travis’ replacement. For him it was a no-brainer to enter himself into the same chair he wanted as a full-time role. He had been doing a fantastic job for weeks, but there was never a time when he got his hopes up. In fact, he had the perspective that even if it didn’t work out, he still had the opportunity to do a dream job.

“I never had any expectations,” Knox said. “I never got my hopes up. With radio, right when you think you have everything figured out, something happens and you go, wow, I didn’t see that coming. I just learned a long time ago, don’t worry whether or not you’re going to get kicked in the nuts, just try to cover up as well as you can, and then when it happens, just hope it doesn’t hurt as much as the last time. That’s the way I look at it.”

When Don Martin and Scott Shapiro called him to tell him the news, he had a similar outlook. In fact, he expected the worst news possible. 

“I was waiting for the worst possible news,” Knox said. “I’ve been laid off in radio before, where you think, hey, they want to talk to me after the show must be about a raise, or it must be about our ratings and then they tell you something completely different.

“But when they told me the news I was just floored. I was very emotional. I broke down and cried. I just sobbed. It’s just been such an effed up journey and just kept thinking about all the crap I had to go through, both personally and professionally. You kind of get to a point where you think, maybe you’re just never going to get your shot. I was OK with it because I’ve always been very grateful for anything, whether it’s getting to fill-in, doing a show on the weekends, whatever it was I was really thankful. But you always wonder if you’re going to get your chance at that level and to finally hear you got it was really, really emotional.”

2 Pros and a Cup of Joe | iHeartRadio

2 Pros and a Cup of Joe is on the air every weekday morning from 6am to 9am EST on Fox Sports Radio and the reviews are already incredible. A big reason why is the chemistry Knox, Quinn and Arrington had already developed before the new show made its debut. Martin and Shapiro didn’t just throw a show together and hoped it would work, they took their time and made sure there was going to be the chemistry to make it work. 

“Brady and I have been doing a show on Sunday nights for years,” Knox said. “I don’t even know whose idea it was to put us together, because we had never met or even talked before. Once we started I think Brady realized I don’t like to do the X’s and O’s, I know everything, type of radio. I just think there’s too many people that try to do that. Once he saw that, wow, you can really let loose on the radio and sound like a couple of guys playing grab ass at a bar, that’s when we really started to take off and it’s been a blast to work with him.

“We have a unique chemistry and when LaVar started doing shows with us I didn’t know how it was going to go and I was worried for LaVar, because Brady and I are psychos and some of the things we want to talk about are crazy. We always needle each other and it’s one inside joke after another on the air, but it didn’t take very long for us to find out that LaVar was one of us too. We had gotten these practice shows together and by the time Scott and Don called me and I knew the show was going to be with those guys I knew it would be fine. Just based on the shows we had done, I just thought the opportunity to work with those guys was incredible. I love both of those guys.” 

In an industry full of egos, Knox doesn’t have one. All he cares about is being genuine and relatable, while having fun. That’s why he’s so excited about his new show. Even with two former NFL players it won’t be an X’s and O’s show where everyone cares about who’s right. It’s going to be loose and fun. 

“Just having fun, honestly,” Knox said regarding what he’s most excited about. “And I know that sounds like a pretty bland answer but I think sometimes people in our business take themselves a little too seriously. I always use the analogy of working weekend overnights. I have heard all the jokes for years, oh, that’s why you’re working weekends, or, that’s why you work with the drunks. I hear all that stuff all the time and I tell people I have no ego. In the backyard of life, I’m the pile of dog crap in the corner of the yard. That’s the way I look at it. We’re doing sports radio. Let’s have fun. The fact Brady and LaVar have accomplished as much as they have and can still laugh at themselves, and want to do that type of radio and have fun, that excites me.”

There’s so many things Knox is grateful and excited for with the new opportunity. But the chance to do morning radio is another that he’s excited about. It’s always been his favorite time slot, because of the opportunity it gives to help start someone’s day. Knox has had plenty of jobs he dreaded going to, just like many people on their morning commute, so the opportunity to give them just a little bit of laughter, entertainment and joy is fulfilling. 

Jonas Knox: Wiki, Bio, Height, Family, Girlfriend, Career, Net Worth

If you can’t root for Knox in this role, you probably can’t root for anyone in sports radio. He’s done everything he’s been asked, he’s done the shifts nobody else wanted and he’s worked his butt off at every opportunity. And through it all, he’s been an incredible person that wants to help other people. He’s a radio success story. 

“We have the best behind the scenes crew anywhere,” Knox said.”The people behind the scenes that don’t get any of the attention, any of the love or any of the shine, I know for me personally, if not for them, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to the position I am right now. That goes from up top to Don and Scott to the technical producers, the editors, the anchors, I just think it’s important to mention that those people are the best in the business. I hope they get the respect they deserve.”

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5 Sports TV Minds Explain Why We Love The Manningcast

“Yes, it’s an in-motion experiment but it’s working because the production team at ESPN is being allowed to create a live studio show, something ESPN does very very well.”

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Here at Barrett Sports Media, we clearly have Manningcast fever. And look, we aren’t the only news outlet covering the media industry that has mined Peyton and Eli Manning for all the content we can. We have looked at the show from a broadcaster’s perspective. We have looked at it from a fan’s perspective. We have gawked at the ratings growth. We have asked how fair this whole endeavor is to Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick.

One thing we have not done yet is ask accomplished television professionals for their thoughts. Why has this broadcast, which can be hard to follow at times, captured the imagination of football fans? How has it gone from something we were unsure about to truly must-see TV for the sports audience?

Peyton Manning takes hilarious shot at New England Patriots during 'Monday  Night Football'
Courtesy: ESPN

I asked five TV pro’s what it is that they see when they watch Peyton, Eli and their cavalcade of guests. Is the Manningcast connecting with hardcore football fans that crave the Xs and Os or is it connecting with more casual fans that enjoy the comedy of Peyton wearing a helmet three sizes too small and Eli shooting the camera the double bird? This is wildly different from a traditional TV booth.

Allan Flowers is a coordinating producer for NFL Network. He’s spent three decades in the industry, and works for a network that lives and breathes football 24/7. Perhaps even more importantly, Allan has the benefit of working on one of the most well received shows in recent memory, one that football fans can’t get enough of, NFL Redzone.

I wanted to pick his brain on traditional TV booths. When the Manningcast first premiered, so many people wanted to tie it to a traditional broadcast and figure out what it means for the future. It raised questions about ESPN’s longterm plans for Peyton Manning, Monday Night Football, and the pros and cons connected to offering two versions of the same game on different channels.

“I can definitely see Peyton in a traditional booth. He is the one constantly talking football on the ‘Manningcast’. Eli mixes football with jabs at his older brother,” Flowers told me when I asked if what he has seen through the first three weeks makes him think that the brothers could be a future fit in a more traditional broadcast booth. “I think the traditional broadcast needs to change anyway. It’s the same formulaic booth that we have seen for decades. That’s why there is an appetite for something like this. As opportunities continue to open for more diverse people (e.g. younger analysts, female analysts, female and black play by play announcers), I think you will see tone of the traditional broadcast booth change regardless. ABC tried comedian Dennis Miller in the booth decades ago. I would not be surprised to see something like that happen again in the future, only if that person is relatable and appears to know football. As for what Eli & Peyton are doing, I think it’s great. They have a connection which is paramount to a great booth. There is a rawness to it that appears fresh (for now). I think their broadcast is still evolving. I’ve noticed some small changes each week. The guests have been great. Nothing but A list people. Why they are taking a break until Week 7 seems odd, but it’s an interesting watch.”

I spoke with a TV executive with experience at multiple networks that wished to remain anonymous. He told me that the Manningcast is the “perfect combination of personality and authority.”

He also said that there is no sense in thinking about Peyton and Eli’s futures as broadcasters. The deal between ESPN and Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, which produces the broadcast, isn’t about securing Peyton Manning to be the future analyst on the traditional Monday Night Football broadcast.

Disney isn’t looking at Peyton Manning as part of ESPN. They are looking at him as Mickey Mouse or Iron Man or Baby Yoda. He is another of Disney’s mega-brands that is talked about on investor calls and upfront presentations. To that end, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro is smart enough to stay out of the way. He invested in Omaha Productions and is going to let the content it provides grow the way Peyton Manning wants it to.

Patrick Crakes is a former Vice President at FOX Sports and InVivo Media Group. He now runs Crakes Media Consulting. He isn’t sure that ESPN is entirely hands off. Peyton and Eli Manning are important enough that the network wants to keep them happy, but they are also smart enough to know the goal is to put on the best show possible.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that both Peyton and Eli are allowing ESPN to produce them at a very high level. This show clearly has a run-down, producers and directors are speaking live to both of them and the show evolves on-air every week in real time. Yes, it’s an in-motion experiment but it’s working because the production team at ESPN is being allowed to create a live studio show, something ESPN does very very well.”

Flowers agrees. He can’t see ESPN letting the Mannings fly blind. In fact, he had some thoughts on what kind of coaching he would give the brothers to improve on what we have already seen.

“Neither of them know when a commercial timeout is coming, which seems odd since they played the game for so long. It’s very awkward when they have a guest and they ask them to tell a story right before a punt. Then they have to cut the guest off and get to the break. I would also engage the guests in more of their football talk. If it’s a player, see if they all see the same thing. What defense would you call here. If it’s not a player, teach the guest what Peyton/Eli is seeing. There are times when the guest doesn’t know what to do, which seems uncomfortable. It was great when they had LeBron James guess the next play and he was right. More of that will make the booth connectivity better. I think they have the ability to telestrate their own plays. If not, they should. I’m also curious if the button-down collared shirt are the only shirts they own.”

Logan Swaim is the Head of Content for Colin Cowherd’s The Volume podcast network. Prior to diving into the world of audio and social video, Swaim spent decades in TV including serving as an Executive Producer for Good Morning Football on the NFL Network, and also with DAZN, and NBC Sports. Swaim told me that at it’s core, the Manningcast isn’t an original idea. It’s the next evolution in megacasts and second screens. It just happens to be considerably better than anything that has come before it in that realm.

“They have the cheat code with Peyton and Eli – two likable, entertaining, and authentic personalities. But they’ve smartly created a show where all the bells and whistles are made only to accentuate what makes the talent interesting. The pre-planned segments are all intended to make fun of the hosts, like Peyton reading a list of all the stuff they messed up last week. It feels partly like watching a game at a bar and partly like Inside the NBA.”

Eli Manning Hilariously Tried To Do Dak Prescott's Hip-Thrust During Manning -Cast on MNF (VIDEO) | Total Pro Sports
Courtesy: ESPN

Eric Weinberger is a former sports media executive and executive producer at the NFL Network now running his own company. He described the Manningcast to me as “part Ted Lasso, part Beavis & Butthead“. I love a good Beavis and Butthead reference, so I asked him to explain a little more. He said “the broadcast comes with some rough edges that make it more charming,” although he did have additional suggestions of what he might add.

“You want it to feel ‘clunky,’ seem less polished. That is what is appealing about this production.” Weinberger told me. “Maybe I would try a little local radio game play-by-play every once in a while to break up the Mannings ever present voices and give them a breather.”

We have to wait three weeks for another Manningcast. The brothers will not return until Week 7, when the Saints play in Seattle. That has to be a bummer for ESPN executives, who have watched the audience for Peyton and Eli grow each of the three weeks it has been on air, even when games seem irrelevant. I asked that TV executive that didn’t want to be identified what he would do to keep the momentum going both on TV and on social media.

He said nothing was off the table. You have Peyton and Eli film vignettes that can be used to lead into the traditional ESPN broadcast, you have them breakdown a series or play for SportsCenter, and anything else you can think of. Right now, you put as much of the Mannings as you can on TV.

“Pay them more money and have them do more games,” he said was the lesson for the next contract.

Any good idea will have its imitators. Like every major pro sport, television is a copycat league. Allan Flowers had a series of suggestions for what he could see this spawning in terms of alternate broadcasts. He suggested tight end Zach Ertz and his wife Julie, a member of the US Women’s National Soccer Team, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, even Charles Barkley and Phil Mickelson.

Weinberger also expects to see copycats. He just doesn’t expect them to be as good as the Manningcast.

“Secondary screen viewing can work for all sports. Football really lends itself to multiple opportunities, as there are so many complexities with specialty positions and moving parts. The dynamic the two brothers have though is unique and special, always has been.”

Swaim says at the end of the day, what makes the Manningcast special is the broad appeal. There is no right answer to “who is the target audience?” and that means everyone can find something to like about it.

“It seems like it’s found a way to appeal to two different audiences – hardcore football fans and the social media audience. There is plenty of ‘ball’ talk where they nerd out and talk about Football Film Room terms. And then there are hilarious conversations where Gronk is talking about his dog and McAfee is telling amazing stories about roulette. They have pulled off the delicate balance of serving two distinct audiences.”

Remember the 2000 Presidential Election? There were polls leading up to November that asked people that planned to vote for George W. Bush how they arrived at their decision. A significant number of those that responded said that Al Gore seemed more qualified to be President of the United States, but Bush was more relatable – the kind of guy you want to have a beer with.

Letters: Responding to Sen. Lieberman on 2000 and 2020 - WSJ
Courtesy: Gary Hershorn/Rueters

Crakes says the same logic can be used to explain the mass appeal of the Manningcast. Sure Peyton and Eli are smart, but it is their appeal as people, as characters, that draw audiences looking for different things out of an NFL broadcast.

“They don’t take themselves seriously and their genuine competitive love for the sport of football comes through via the dynamic of two brothers who respect and like each other. It’s for pretty much the entire audience. Everyone would like to have a beer and watch the game with them. That’s the key ingredinent.”

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Chris Carlin Doesn’t Want Any Caller To Be That Guy

” There are some calls that you get that don’t enrich the show and sometimes, it’s more fun to kind of make fun of it a little bit and try to entertain that way. It’s not a knock on the people personally.”

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We all know those sports radio callers – someone with a hot take that makes you want to flip the dial even for a split second. However, they do have the tendency to make us laugh every once-in-a-while. In his new series on Tik Tok called Sports Radio Callers: Don’t Be That Guy, ESPN Radio New York host and Rutgers football play-by-play broadcaster, Chris Carlin, tends to make light of some of the calls he receives on a daily basis.

He wants you to know that he isn’t making fun of anyone in particular. He has been in the business long enough to have plenty of inspiration to draw from.

It is very clear that Carlin values his listeners and while he may have a little fun with some calls, he is never afraid to make fun of himself and that is what makes any show he does an entertaining listen. Of course, we could also all probably relate to maybe being one of those callers when we started out calling into shows too, which he wasn’t shy about reliving when we spoke last week.

Ricky Keeler: Where did you come up with the idea to do these Tik Tok videos? Was there a particular call on your show that led to this? 

Chris Carlin: I wouldn’t say there was a particular call. There have been plenty over the years.  There is a genre of calls. It’s not just about the host, but it’s about the listener as well. There are some calls that you get that don’t enrich the show and sometimes, it’s more fun to kind of make fun of it a little bit and try to entertain that way. It’s not a knock on the people personally.

The way I look at it is nobody makes more fun of themselves than me. It’s just some types of calls are ones that I just think are entertaining in a not so informative way. 

I got the idea from watching a guy on Tik Tok named Scott Seiss, who is a stand-up comedian. He apparently used to work at IKEA and he talked about all the complaints of people at IKEA in that same way. He’d say what the complaint of the person is and then say his response in a very straightforward funny way and using that same kind of music. It just kind of struck me when I heard that, yeah, I can do that for sports radio callers, there’s no doubt.

RK: Is there a particular call or caller that the minute you hear them, you just know that’s a perfect Tik Tok video? 

CC: I wouldn’t say that. For instance, I did one where the caller is going to call up and say, it’s the same old Jets. You know, it’s lazy and it’s kind of like really? Where it came to I get it, you’ve been through all the pain in the world. We all understand. But, it is silly to come out and say something like that, but you know it’s going to come.

I started jotting down ideas a few weeks ago, putting them on Tik Tok about a month ago. I just completely made up names, so there’s not a direct one. So, it’d be like “Is it the same old Jets or is it the same old Tony from Freehold? It feels like you called and said the same thing before because you did last week. Here’s an idea for your next phone call. Have a point.”

Callers know, listeners know when they hear a call or make a point like that, we’re all rolling our eyes and it’s okay, listen, it’s part of the gig. It’s what you sign up for when you dial the phone that if you don’t bring a good, informed take or you don’t want to go after something I said, you could be fodder for the show. This was just something that I did separately to have some fun.

I actually had a caller bring it up to me like should you really be doing that? It is not a knock on our listeners at all. What it is is just kind of a parody and at the same time, nobody makes more fun of themselves than me.

RK: How would you describe to someone not from New York, what New York sports radio callers are like? 

CC: I think New York sports radio callers are very similar to callers all over the country. In every town, sports radio callers kind of have a knock against them and I think it’s unfair. As much as we are seen, not just callers, but hosts, like you just take the laziest take and you just do all that stuff. I think the majority of callers and the majority of hosts that are really bringing up good points and trying to illuminate in addition to bringing some heat to it. I think every market has their funny callers, their guys that you know what you’re going to get when they call.

RK: What has the reaction to this series been like from other people in the business? Are people able to enjoy it or do you hear feedback that you’re being too mean? 

CC: It’s been pretty positive because everybody knows who I am. People kind of know my personality and my personality is yeah, I’m going to deliver you some good takes and stuff like that, but I’m also not going to act like we’re splitting the atom here. It’s not a personal attack in any way. It’s just kind of a generic piece of advice. That’s why I titled it Don’t Be That Guy.

There are better ways to spend your time waiting on hold. When I would produce for Mike [Francesa] and Chris [“Mad Dog” Russo], I’d get callers who would call up and say “I want to talk about the Mets.” Okay, what do you want to say? “I think they’re pretty good.” Yeah, let me get you right on. It’s that kind of thing. The reaction I’ve gotten, it hasn’t been executives or anything, it’s mostly been colleagues and it’s all very much, they’re entertained by it. Some sports radio hosts are like thank god, somebody’s doing this, but more than anything, it’s just a tongue in cheek thing.

RK: The Yankees, Mets, Giants, and Jets are all struggling. In these situations, are the more ridiculous calls likely to happen or do these people always exist?

CC: They always exist. There are some weeks like this week if you’re calling up and saying Zach Wilson is not the answer, I’m going to hang up on you pretty quickly. That’s what this week has got the potential for. I’m pretty open-minded to a lot of takes, but it’s the takes that callers call up with that are not well-reasoned. Just too much of an emotional reaction right out of the gate that has actually nothing behind it. 

RK: Do you prefer to do these types of shows when all the teams are winning or does it give you more content when all the teams are not playing well? 

CC: It’s always better for business in general when teams are good. As far as this kind of content, I could do this year round. I just frankly haven’t had enough time. I’ve been working a lot of late hours recently and I just haven’t had enough time to do more of them. I’m going to try, but I also am very cognizant of I don’t want callers to think that I’m not evaluating their inputs to the show because there couldn’t be anything further from the truth. It’s just more of let’s not take ourselves too seriously here.

RK: If you could go back to a younger version of yourself, were you one of those callers? 

CC: I’ve been one of those callers. When I was in college, I called Steve Somers once. I was so nervous and I called up and said Hi, Chris, this is Steve and I made some inane points shortly thereafter. Steve had fun with me and I completely understood it because I was the guy that was on the other end of this. Frankly, if Steve was doing Tik Tok videos in the 90’s, I would have fully expected to make an appearance on one.

RK: Would you rather be a Tik Tok video or a drop on a radio show? 

CC: I think I’d rather be a Tik Tok video because there’s more opportunity for viral spreading now. I know I’m doing a lot of New York guys, but it’s callers in total. As I do more national stuff as I have been for the last couple of years really, I’ll start to expand it a little bit. I don’t see this going on and on because you don’t want to beat a bit to death. It’s just been something that has been fun to do and something that’s different and something that’s made me think differently. Everybody’s trying to make their own impressions in every kind of space and I am just trying to do my own version of that, but also not beat a joke to death, so to speak. 

RK: We’ve seen Twitter and Instagram used to help people in this industry. How do you feel Tik Tok can be a tool that hosts can use to work out content that maybe wouldn’t make the best sense for live radio? 

CC: I think it’s interesting. I think things that you don’t get to, you certainly could. We all want to think that we’re funny. I want to think that I’m funny. I don’t believe I am all that funny. I think it is an area where you can expand a little bit more into. Admittedly, I am not a guy who sits here and studies it and understands exactly what all the machinations of it are that different people are doing. This was just something that I was taking a whack at. Absolutely, it’s a genre or an app that people should be more involved in if they’re not. I think every bit now helps.

RK: For someone who is reading this piece and worrying about being one of those callers and they are a first-time caller, what advice would you give them? 

@thatguycarlin

Sports Radio Callers: Don’t Be That Guy Part 1 #sports #mlb #sportsradio #radio

♬ original sound – Chris Carlin601

CC: I would think out your point in advance. If you’re nervous, I would even jot a couple of things down. Not read it, but I’d jot a couple of things down. If you’re going to try to tell me that the Jets should give up on Zach Wilson already, you better come with plenty of facts to back it up. That’s probably the quickest way to become one right now.

I would say just make sure that what you want to say is adding to the show. For you, that’s giving me your well-thought out take. I don’t think it’s anything too crazy. Chances are I’m not going to call you out personally because this is never going to be a personal thing or anything that’s mean in any way. At least, I hope it doesn’t come across that way. I don’t think it does.” 

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