Between TV and radio, the New York Mets have two of the best local broadcast teams in sports. On Friday, September 6th, I spent time with Mets radio announcers, Howie Rose and Wayne Randazzo to watch them call a game. Over the air, the broadcast sounds effortless, but behind the scenes there are plenty of moving parts, with Rose and Randazzo arriving more than four hours before first pitch.
By 3pm the Mets radio duo, is already in the stadium for a 7:10pm start, individually filling out their scorebooks before heading to the manager’s press conference. Rose and Randazzo separately arrive in the press room where Mets manager Mickey Callaway responds to his first question promptly at 4pm. Howie and Wayne are mostly quiet, taking a few notes as beat reporters search for a tweet-worthy quote during the 10-minute presser.
Right outside the room, General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen sits like the Godfather in a large armchair, welcoming reporters to approach him for one-on-one questions. Today, rain leads to the sound of indoor batting practice as players shuffle from the clubhouse to the cage. While players are readily available for questions, Rose and Randazzo aren’t searching for an inside scoop or anyone to chat with, instead leaving that up to the beat reporters.
“If I need to” Rose said when I asked if he ever looks to talk with players prior to the game. “They have enough reporters hanging out around them, they don’t need me to clog it up anymore. Seriously, I don’t need to be hanging around there unless I have something to say to somebody. There’s probably 15 people for three players in there. When I have a question for a player, I’ll find them.”
At 4:20, Callaway heads into the interview room to speak exclusively with Mets broadcast partners SNY and Entercom’s WCBS 880. Rose, Randazzo and SNY’s announceing crew are behind closed doors with Callaway for five-minutes. While exiting the interview room, Callaway notices a new face and politely walks over to introduce himself to me.
“Mickey’s been great, easy to deal with,” said Randazzo, who hosted the Mets radio pregame show for four years before being named Howie’s full-time broadcast partner this season. “[Terry Collins] before Mickey was a guy that would light up the pregame show, he was always so colorful, but Mickey still has been good, he’s always open and accessible.”
By 5 o’clock Howie and Wayne are back in the booth organizing their pregame notes. Howie sits on the left and both announcers have the lineup taped to a nearby wall with one TV monitor available to Wayne’s right. After their prep, Howie and Wayne head to record videos for the in-stadium scoreboard. Rose can later be seen on the big screen offering fans a “Game Notes” segment, with Wayne providing the “Randazzo Report.”
At 6:30, Brad Heller begins the WCBS Mets Radio Network pregame show. September 6th is one of 40 games that Heller worked this season, the rest are conducted by longtime Mets reporter Ed Coleman. The 30-minute pregame show features Heller’s exclusive chat with the Mets manager and almost takes the broadcast up to first pitch.
At 7:01, Rose welcomes listeners and provides the setting for tonight’s game against the Phillies as the Mets play meaningful baseball in September for the first time since 2016. Randazzo gives his detailed description of both teams’ uniforms, painting a picture for the listener before sending the call back to Howie for first pitch. After starting the game with a 1-0 count, Mets lefty Steven Matz retires the leadoff hitter with a strikeout as both announcers simultaneously mark a straight “K” in their scorebook.
Howie has a highlighter, black and red ink to fill out his scorebook, Wayne adds extra color with blue, pink, green and purple fine point markers. Randazzo also keeps his laptop in front of him, showing Twitter, MLB Gameday and Baseball Reference on the screen, noting that he doesn’t mind looking up information while calling a game. Randazzo even starts mapping out the postgame show before the game is over.
On a cool and rainy night that has the feel of October, Howie and Wayne keep the windows open allowing the opportunity to hear the crowd. The fans filed in slowly, but by the 3rd inning more than half the seats were full, garnering more than expected on a night that many thought would be a rain out.
A good crowd can absolutely enhance a broadcast, as the energy from a raucous fan base is felt through the radio. Both Howie and Wayne expressed how much fun games in August and September are with the Mets making a playoff push that seemed impossible a few weeks earlier.
“It makes it!” Howie said of calling meaningful baseball with an energetic crowd in the building. “Go back to when Washington was here in early August, things were pretty quiet most of the season until then and now all of a sudden they were relevant and this place was ELECTRIC for that three game series, it felt like 2015 again.”
“There’s a different tone based on what’s happening in August and September,” Randazzo added. “If they’re losing and McNeil or Rosario are up to bat, you’re talking about projecting the future, but when the team is in the playoff race, you’re talking about what’s happening right now and how important each game is.”
Wayne takes over the play-by-play to start the third inning as Robbie Cano’s friend and former teammate, Jean Segura leads off for the Phillies. The next inning, Wayne gets to call the first homerun of the game, a 425-foot blast off the bat of Michael Conforto setting a new career high for the Mets outfielder.
Had this WCBS 880 Mets radio broadcast occurred on a weeknight, Randazzo’s call may have been used by the morning show on their sister station WFAN. Earlier in the summer, Gregg Giannotti of Boomer and Gio came to the realization that Randazzo’s voice takes on a 1940’s tone when the broadcaster is behind the mic for an exciting call. Gio’s characterization of Randazzo became a regular bit on WFAN’s morning radio show throughout the season and Wayne has no problem with that.
“No, I don’t mind it,” Randazzo said with a chuckle. “I can actually do a really good impression of that if Gio wants to hear it, I’d be happy to do it.”
“I just think it’s cool that Boomer Esiason knows who I am,” Randazzo added.
At the start of the 5th inning, Randazzo gets set to throw the play-by-play back over to Rose, but not before he calls one more pitch from Steven Matz. Matz’s pitch sailed to the backstop, reminding Randazzo of the lefty’s first Major League pitch in June, 2015. Rose jumps right in, adding that Brandon Phillips hit a homerun after that 2015 wild pitch. It’s a simple exchange between Randazzo and Rose, but the type of back and forth that comes natural for two radio partners working their first season together. Rose spent the last seven years with Josh Lewin in the booth, but the adjustment of sitting next to Wayne Randazzo has been an easy one.
“It’s been wonderful, there’s been no learning curve,” Rose said of his new broadcast partner. “I was just part of the process of sifting through tapes, when we hired Wayne going back five or six years, I wasn’t making the decision. I could give advice or opinion, but I wasn’t doing the hiring. When you hire somebody in this role (pre and postgame host), you know you might be hiring your future partner and that’s one of the things I looked for when we were canvassing the applicants, ‘is this a person who can do this job on a regular basis versus just 10 or 12 times as a fill-in?’ Howie asked.
“The thing that impressed me most about the tape Wayne submitted was his work in a no-hit bid by Jake Arrieta when he was with the Cubs. It didn’t even dawn on me until much later, that Pat Hughes (Chicago Cubs radio voice) does every inning of every game!” Rose added. “That was just a practice tape from Wayne, he went into a booth and recorded that on his own, it wasn’t an audition and that blew me away! I knew right there we had a real serious and aspiring broadcaster, not someone just going through the motions. Also, the fact that Josh would miss between six, eight or ten games during the season in recent years – Wayne would fill in, so it was sort of an icebreaker that helped give us the ability to hit the ground running this year.”
“I get to sit here with someone who’s seen every game this team has ever played and is truly one of the best baseball announcers in the business,” Randazzo said of his iconic radio partner, Howie Rose. “As someone that’s trying to one day be that, it’s like a masters’ or doctorate level course in how to do this that not everyone is allowed to have. Even in our meetings with the manager, just watching how Howie and [Gary Cohen] approach the daily questions to see what’s on their mind and what they’re seeing has always been something I’ve learned a lot from, not to mention how they are on-air. Howie has brought out the best in me as a broadcaster and play-by-play person and whether he wants to admit it or not, I’ve learned six million things from him this season and over the last few years when I was doing the pregame show that will stay with me forever.”
Rose’s Mets coverage dates back to the 1980s, when from 1987 – 1995, the broadcaster hosted Mets Extra on WFAN. Since 2004, Rose has been a full-time radio play-by-play voice for the New York Mets, following a tenure calling their games on TV for Fox Sports New York and MSG. Randazzo, a Chicago native is finishing up his first year as Rose’s full-time play-by-play partner, following four seasons as the Mets pregame show host.
“I’ve always wanted to be doing what I’m doing now. Everything I’ve done in my career was done with this in mind,” Randazzo said. “I’ve done updates on 670 The Score, I filled in on White Sox pre and post, did pre and post [on the Mets Radio Network], went to the minor leagues for seven seasons. All of that was to hone my skills, all I’ve ever wanted to be was a baseball announcer so it was building to get to this point and I’m lucky to be here.”
In the sixth inning, Rose openly questions a decision by Mickey Callaway to make a pitching change and remove the left-handed Matz against Phillies pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin, triggering a chess match of decisions. Mets broadcasters are never short on honesty even if it means being critical, something ownership deserves credit for allowing.
Growing up a Mets fan, I was trained by their broadcasters to think critically. Team announcers could take the approach of finding reasons to defend every managerial decision, but instead, they never hold back on presenting an opposing view. As a fan and a listener, I enjoy playing devil’s advocate to see if there is a better in-game decision to be made and Mets broadcasters promote that way of thinking.
Critique and honesty from the Mets radio crew was never more exemplified than in a game against the Phillies on June 26th earlier this year.
“The shortstop is behind second base, he’s got it and he throws to first, you know why? Because Robinson Cano was jogging – he was jogging,” Rose said after a lethargic Cano was thrown out by Phillies infielder Jean Segura during the June 26th broadcast.
“Segura treated him like Wilson Ramos. A lot of times infielders pick the ball up and take that second step because they realize they don’t need to hurry, well in that instance, that’s what Segura did,” Randazzo explained.
“I say unbelievable, but it’s something we’ve talked about all year, if he thinks he’s protecting his quad at this point – oh who cares anymore, what’s the sense of getting on a soap box, it is what it is,” a frustrated Rose continued. “You have to figure he’s going to rest tomorrow right? A day game after night game?”
“I don’t know – maybe McNeil’s the one that’s going to rest tomorrow,” Wayne said sarcastically, noting the Mets tendency to rest one of their young All-Stars.
Even after getting back to the play-by-play, the Cano critique still filtered in, with Rose saying the Mets high-priced second baseman “…chose to jog – fill in whatever blanks you want, we’ve already used them.”
“Segura, who I mentioned before is very good friends with Robinson Cano, it took him by surprise,” Randazzo said.
“It shouldn’t,” Rose added defiantly.
“If the quad continues to be an issue, let’s give Cano the benefit of the doubt for the sake of this point, if that’s going to continue to be an issue, then why is he still hitting third?” Rose asked regarding the Mets decision to place Cano in a premium batting order spot.
I revisited this specific exchange between Rose and Randazzo from June 26th, noting that they didn’t hold back in their criticisms of both Cano and the team.
“That’s my job,” Rose told me.
Every Mets fan listening to the broadcast has similar conversations regarding questionable on-field play or in-game decisions. It can be refreshing to hear professional announcers share the sentiment and not be afraid to broadcast their frustrations publicly. When I asked if management ever told them to be less critical, the Mets longtime broadcaster responded, “not a word.”
“Our owners have never been given the proper credit for allowing the broadcasters to do their job and that goes for TV and radio. You won’t find a more opinionated television crew than we have and that’s pretty well established. They’re given the latitude to call it as they see it,” Rose said regarding the Mets broadcast booth on SNY.
“You’re working with a hall-of-fame caliber play-by-play guy (Gary Cohen) who’s been here 30 years so he’s built up some points on his resume and you’ve got two world champion players (Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez) sitting next to him. They have credibility and nobody is going out of their way to take hot shots, all we do is like they say in football, read and react. We read the game and react to it.”
“To criticize somebody is not personal,” Rose Continued. “If I had an issue with a player years ago when I was doing pre and postgame shows in a more opinion driven role than I am now, even though we give opinions now, it seemed like I had someone pissed off at me every other day. But most of that didn’t last long because I would make it a point to be right in the middle of the clubhouse the next day and if a player wanted to find me, they could and once in a while they did. We would talk, and once or twice what they were being told was said, wasn’t actually said and I even gave them tapes just so they can understand. It’s never personal and 99.9% of the players don’t take it personal. The only obligation you have is to be fair. If you make it personal or it becomes personal, you’re not doing your job.”
Howie’s credit of the Mets television booth speaks to the respect both crews have for each other. Prior to the game, SNY’s Gary, Keith and Ron can be seen in the media lounge sharing a table with Howie and Wayne. The two groups of broadcasters huddle to discuss the game and almost certainly a multitude of other topics considering their dynamic personalities.
“At that point with Cano, we were also aware that he was trying to save himself for the season,” Randazzo said. “He lost a month for a hamstring injury and was dealing with quad problems, so it’s fair to say that Robbie’s trying to conserve himself, but at that time it was getting kind of egregious. I get that Cano is trying to save himself, but on the other hand you have to show more effort than he had been at that time.”
In the seventh inning, Rose and Randazzo both share a laugh at their producer, Chris Majkowski for the sponsored in-game trivia question he selected. “Maj” hands Howie and Wayne a trivia question that begins with, “which nine Mets…” but neither broadcaster had time to come up with nine answers.
As a producer for more than a quarter-century, Maj has played a vital role in helping the Mets radio broadcast become one the best in the country. During the game, Maj fact checks as needed, noting there are specific words Howie uses when he wants the longtime producer to find or confirm a statistic.
Maj offers an additional set of eyes for the broadcast, letting Howie and Wayne know if there’s movement in the bullpen, or catches something that was shown on TV. As someone who’s seen nearly every inning of every Mets game in franchise history, Rose is already a team encyclopedia, so Maj doesn’t need to be in the announcer’s ear continuously.
Being at the stadium every day for six months, local baseball broadcasters know the pulse of the team as well as anyone, so producers may not need to offer as much information as with national announcers that don’t see the team daily. Maj’s job is less about offering statistical help and more about being able to offer feedback, while also making sure the technical side runs smoothly and the very long list of sponsorships are satisfied.
“I don’t know much about other booths, but whatever we are, good, bad or otherwise, we would be way less without him,” Rose said about Majkowski. “An extra set of eyes. Someone to bounce things off of.”
In the eighth inning of a close game, Mets pinch hitter, Luis Guillorme drops a hard bunt and hustles down the line, leading Randazzo to jump up hoping for a safe call. While radio listeners don’t hear Wayne signaling safe, the announcers’ enthusiasm in rooting for the Mets to win bleeds through a broadcast, especially from Howie, a life-long New Yorker and fan of the team.
“When you have a lifetime invested in being around a team, it’s pure and organic,” Rose said regarding openly rooting for the Mets. “The enthusiasm comes naturally, it’s hard to fake it on the air. When the team is doing well, especially at home and you have more people here than you might otherwise, you don’t think about this pumping you up, but it naturally happens. One of the games against Washington, Marcus Stroman was great, he struck out six or seven in a row, he’s very emotional and animated. The crowd was just eating out of the hand. You ride that wave because it reminds you how different it is to call meaningful games as opposed to not being in the race in August and September. You live for this.”
On this night the wave of Mets fans’ emotions were in full swing. With a two-run lead in the ninth-inning, the Mets highly touted closer, Edwin Diaz entered the game in the midst of a disastrous season. Diaz blew the save.
“It is almost incomprehensible that Edwin Diaz has given up yet another huge homerun,” Rose said as the Phillies tied the game with a two-run blast by JT Realmuto.
Even with a defeating top of the ninth, this story will end exactly how I hoped. In the bottom of the inning, the Mets young slugging superstar, Pete Alonso draws a bases-loaded walk to break the tie and allow Howie Rose to close the broadcast with the phrase that signals victory, “Put it in the books!”
Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.
Brian Murphy is Preparing to Write His Next Chapter at KNBR After Layoffs Ended ‘Murph and Mac’
“I don’t want to say, ‘This too shall pass,’ or, ‘Time heals all wounds,’ but you’re only as good as your next ratings book.”
After the morning show signed off at KNBR last Wednesday, co-host Brian Murphy was called into a meeting with Cumulus Media market manager Larry Blumhagen. Although there had been signs of potential changes, Murphy had partnered with Paul McCaffrey for nearly 18 years and survived all of the turmoil.
A simple look around the building represented proof of an alteration, evinced by reductions in the number of stations under its roof. A once powerful news station, KGO-AM, underwent a sudden format flip last year after nearly a century on the air. A few years earlier, alternative rock station KFOG was eliminated from the company’s portfolio as well. KNBR has weathered the storms, but not without alterations to the station’s programming department.
“I would say everything has shrunk,” Murphy expressed, “and that includes sending us on road trips or to Super Bowls, etc.”
Layoffs have reemphasized the importance of the quantitative bottom line, sometimes overshadowing the qualitative utility and widespread impact derived from talent and popular shows. It is partially why the deluge of palpable support after Murphy learned in a short meeting that McCaffrey was being laid off was surprising and reinvigorating. But first came an immediate, jarring feeling surrounding the decision.
“Truthfully numb,” Murphy said regarding his sentiment after learning what happened. “I guess it’s a cliché to say that people go into shock, but to know that Paulie and I wouldn’t be together was something that didn’t register. I mean, it registered, but it didn’t register until fully; the next 48 hours is when it really started to really hit.”
McCaffrey was one of seven laid off at KNBR that day. Morning show producer Erik Engle, former programmer Lee Hammer, host F.P. Santangelo and members of the outlet’s digital department lost their jobs as well. Even the long-running KNBR Tonight evening show, which aired for decades was canceled, and replaced with CBS Sports Radio programming. While Murphy always hoped that the morning show would continue in the iteration before the end of his contract, he is now facing a new reality without his longtime colleagues.
“I think what we were disappointed by was sort of an abrupt and premature end, particularly to our partnership, which I think we’ve learned from an incredible outpouring of social media is way more than we knew,” Murphy said. “We learned our partnership for whatever reason connected to a lot of people for a long time. It’s funny they say radio is dying, but radio sure is personal and effective in many ways baked on what we’re hearing from our listeners.”
During the next two days, Murphy was off the air and contemplating his future. There were moments where he thought about leaving KNBR. However, he knew that he had a contract to fulfill and a family to support. Additionally, the person that he was set to work with on Monday and beyond – Markus Boucher – had contributed to the morning show for nearly four years, rendering familiarity and comfortability.
“There’s a chance that Markus and I could do this for a long time; we’ll see how it goes,” Murphy said. “Maybe things go great and that would be awesome, and I’m definitely leaving that door open. For whatever reason, we recover from the pain of losing my partner for almost two decades and the next chapter works out.”
In 2023, KNBR has experienced two subpar quarterly ratings books. The decrease in performance has affected all dayparts on the outlet. Murphy knows that when the San Francisco Giants do well, it generally leads to KNBR succeeding. The station did improve in its summer and fall books for 2023, but there already were repercussions being felt.
“I just know that that happened and it damaged people’s perception of the station, but I don’t think it was an accurate reflection of all of our listenership at all; I just don’t,” Murphy said. “I know for a fact that we still had a huge audience, and it’s evident by what happened after the news; just so many people reacted and people in the demo too.”
Even though he knows it does not directly relate to his role as an on-air host, Murphy believes that the local advertising market was damaged because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the city. San Francisco was one of several major metroplexes that instituted strict health and safety protocols in an effort to slow the spread of the disease, which had an effect on sports talk radio consumption. With more people working remotely and fewer people commuting to the office, the transition to digital content and audio on-demand offerings has hastened in order to realize previous levels of engagement and keep the format alive.
“KNBR is going to have to weather this storm,” Murphy said, “and there’s this feeling of, I don’t want to say, ‘This too shall pass,’ or, ‘Time heals all wounds,’ but you’re only as good as your next ratings book.”
The station recently held an all-staff meeting to discuss its direction, which has been somewhat complicated by three program directors at the outlet over the last five years. Following the departures of Jeremiah Crowe and Kevin Graham, Adam Copeland took over the responsibilities last month. The layoffs took place two weeks into his tenure, causing some people to question how involved he was in the decisions and whether or not he advocated for the morning show.
“I think these things come from beyond San Francisco,” Murphy said. “Our headquarters are in Atlanta, and I think something this big – like I said, it wasn’t just Paulie Mac; it was seven people. Paulie Mac is personal for me, but that to me says, ‘Well, that’s obviously a big budget decision that’s being made at a level far above the San Francisco program director.’”
Although Copeland has minimal previous experience as a program director, Murphy is confident that he will be able to effectively lead the station through his energy, youth and passion for the medium. Copeland grew up listening to KNBR and worked at the station over the last several years as a producer and host, eventually earning a spot in afternoons alongside Tom Tolbert. Copeland remains in that time slot, pulling double duty for the radio station. His relatability and familiarity with the craft is something that Murphy views as an advantage.
“I think people are pretty excited that we have somebody who cares as much as Adam Copeland does about KNBR,” Murphy said, “I think if there’s anything to be optimistic about in 2024 that despite this ending to 2023, it’s that we have a program director who’s all-in on the station.”
Thinking about what comes beyond the immediate future though is not within Murphy’s mindset. At the moment, he feels it is too soon to determine if there will be a potential Murph & Mac reunion on a digital platform. Instead, he is focused on being able to continue to serve San Francisco sports fans without his longtime on-air partner. Murphy realizes how fortunate he was to have someone like McCaffrey by his side and valued both his consistency and dependability on a daily basis.
“Every single segment he was the same energetic, relentless, hilarious partner who only wanted what was good for the show – not what was good for him; not what was good for me – he only wanted what was good for the show,” Murphy said, “and it was such a lesson for this newspaper guy to learn, for lack of a better word, showbusiness.”
When Murphy entered the studio Monday to host his first show without McCaffrey, everything felt surreal to him on the air. There was ostensible tension in the room and from listeners about how he would address the news, and share his feelings with the audience. The program ended with a monologue from Murphy regarding McCaffrey, something that he is grateful Boucher did not raise objection to and that he was able to make his statement on the air.
“The 49ers had just destroyed the Philadelphia Eagles, which actually was a huge positive break for us because it allowed everything to happen Monday with the backdrop of great positivity because that was a huge game for the Niners and people were pretty jacked up about that game,” Murphy said. “So I opened the show by saying, ‘I know it’s corny, but that one was for Paulie.’”
The shock and surprise from McCaffrey being laid off is hardly evanescent, but Murphy is now thinking about how to optimize the morning program with Boucher. Predicting what may come next is an arduous task. Murphy considers himself fortunate to have had nearly 18 years hosting with McCaffrey, and he is now thinking about the next chapter of his time at KNBR while having reference for the enduring legacy of Murph & Mac.
“For whatever reason, I’ve never lost my absolute joy and passion for the sports world – sports content; sports stories; sports history; sports media – everything about it,” Murphy said. “And so every morning when my alarm goes off and my feet hit the floor, I’m like, ‘Let’s go! I’m stealing money. This isn’t work.’”
Derek Futterman is a contributing editor and sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
How Big Noon Kickoff Turned Into a Legitimate College GameDay Challenger
Big Noon Kickoff is like a college football tailgate on TV. Panelists good-naturedly rip each other, toss the football around on a makeshift field, and talk smack whenever possible.
The best college football pregame show on television emanates every Saturday from a different college campus. It features close-up shots of a boisterous crowd flashing banners and signs and is hosted by an excellent mix of TV pros, former players, and coaches, but it’s not the show you might think. To use college football vernacular, ESPN’s College GameDay is the Granddaddy of them all in collegiate gridiron pregame fare, but FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff is College GameDay on amphetamines.
It has taken the genre to new heights of volume, vigor, and vivacity. The camera shots are more intense, smoke and flashing lights are the order of the day, and the panelists are vociferous, rowdy, and sky-high-pumped.
Veteran host and reporter Rob Stone is the ringleader of this pigskin circus. Brady Quinn, Mark Ingram II, Matt Leinart, and Urban Meyer fill out a crowded anchor desk. In Week 13 of the college football season, both Big Noon Kickoff and College GameDay were live at the University of Michigan in anticipation of the gargantuan matchup between the Buckeyes of Ohio State and the Wolverines.
FOX’s coverage was on point. Unlike on ESPN, where the mad throng of students and fans are set off a bit by the talents, the crowd on Big Noon Kickoff was right on top of the FOX panelists, and they certainly let Meyer, the former Buckeye head coach, know how they felt about him. He was booed roundly and consistently. Every time he spoke, the jeers would rise to new decibels. It was fun to watch.
On the flip side, Big Noon Kickoff analyst and ex-Wolverine Charles Woodson was greeted by a thunderous ovation. Woodson actually got up close with the crowd and high-fived the fans.
On ESPN, only Pat McAfee elicits such closeness and raucousness from the faithful in attendance. In fact, in my opinion, the emergence of Big Noon Kickoff as real competition is the reason why McAfee was added to the College GameDay roster.
This edition of Big Noon Kickoff featured an electrifying feature story on the fabled Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. Also helping the broadcast is the presence of that eminent reporter Tom Rinaldi.
Rinaldi, a former ESPN’er, talked about Ohio State’s preparation for the big game and revealed that Buckeye players were inspired by constantly viewing social media posts proclaiming Michigan’s dominance.
Reporter Jenny Taft chimed in as well, providing important Michigan injury updates. I really like the diversity of the Big Noon Kickoff team. You have a solid host in Stone, a coach’s perspective from Meyer, offensive insight from Leinart, Ingram II, and Quinn, and a defensive standpoint from Woodson.
Leinart stood out from the pack making the point that the game was about more than just a rivalry. It was really about winning a Big 10 title and gaining positioning for the college football playoff and a shot at a National Championship.
Ingram II added that the most physical team would win the game, while Quinn, a Columbus, Ohio native, gave some insight on what this game means to both states and fan bases. It’s a challenge to pass around the airtime when you have six bodies at the desk, but Stone does a good job of laying back in the weeds and letting the analysts analyze.
Perhaps the brightest light on Big Noon Kickoff is the presence of Chris “The Bear” Fallica. Plucked from ESPN, Fallica has been a tremendous addition. He brings serious college football chops and really puts things in perspective.
I always felt that this guy was underutilized on College GameDay. The dude does more than just pick game results. In this episode, he provided a lucid explanation of how 2023 is a watershed year for college football with realignment coming. In addition, he wrote an excellent script for the Leinart feature on the demise of the Pac-12 conference.
Big Noon Kickoff moves at a furious and frenzied pace, and viewers are enthralled to be along for the ride. I actually found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what feature or analysis would come next.
Coming back from a break, the show does not cut right back to the panelists. Cameras pan the crowd and audio goes up so viewers can hear the crowd cheer and sing team songs. This style really brings home the atmosphere of a major college football game.
While the show is mostly about the game being played at the broadcast site, Big Noon Kickoff offers a deep dive into highlights, previews, and analysis of games around the country.
One of the best parts of Big Noon Kickoff is the contribution of FOX’s Joel Klatt a model of excellence and versatility. Klatt excels in numerous venues: live game coverage, interviews, studio shows, guest shots on other programs, and more. His knowledge is unmatched and he always asks the right questions.
This was evident on the December 6 edition of The Joel Klatt Show: Big Noon Conversations where Klatt presented a terrific one-on-one interview with Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark. Klatt is always prepared and even-tempered. He listens to his subject and offers pinpoint follow-up questions.
Big Noon Kickoff is like a college football tailgate on TV. Panelists good-naturedly rip each other, toss the football around on a makeshift field, and talk smack whenever possible – pretty much everything short of beer pong.
Stone further added to the fury by encouraging Meyer to flash his Ohio State National Championship ring to the Michigan crowd. And Meyer did it, risking a damn near riot.
Having two former quarterbacks on set is a plus, especially when it comes to analyzing the game’s most important position. You can make the point that both Quinn and Leinart fizzled out in the NFL, but you cannot deny their fine college quarterbacking pedigree. They offered real talk on QB’s Kyle McCord and J.J. McCarthy.
Fallica once again showed his singular insight and was absolutely prophetic stating that without quarterback Travis Jordan, Florida State would not be looked upon as a top 4 team even if they finished undefeated.
In true FOX style, there is never a lack of star power on Big Noon Kickoff. The panel welcomed none other than Michigan native and Wolverines fan Derek Jeter as a guest. Jeter revealed that he actually signed to play baseball at Michigan and took some classes there before joining the Yankees organization.
He also added some humor saying that all ballplayers want to get out of the minors as soon as possible, but he did even more so because he was playing for the Yankees Triple-A team in Columbus, home of the Buckeyes.
Amid all the fanfare, you know if Tom Rinaldi is around, there is going to be a heart-wrenching feature story. His piece on McCarthy and boyhood teammate Ryan Keeler was top-notch.
Keeler would go on to play at UNLV and was scheduled to play at Michigan against McCarthy this past September. Tragically, Keeler passed away from a heart condition in February 2023.
Big Noon Kickoff is always moving, literally. Later in this show, the anchor desk moved from outside the stadium to down on the field in the Big House. The different settings bring variety and an intimate feel to the production.
Former Wolverine and current Detroit Lion Aidan Hutchinson joined the panelists on the field for some commentary. Keep your eyes on Hutchinson. His NFL career has just begun, but this young man has a future and broadcasting. He was at ease, personable, and insightful.
As for the ratings on this November 25 day in Michigan, well as they say, it depends on whom you ask. FOX public relations tweeted that Big Noon Kickoff averaged 2.34 million viewers adding that it was “Saturday’s most-watched college football pregame show on any network.”
Meanwhile, ESPN PR tweeted that College GameDay averaged 2.4 million viewers and was “the top CFB pregame program of the week.” Beyond the numbers, it is the overall feel of the broadcast that sets Big Noon Kickoff apart.
Whether it is the dramatic shots during pre-produced interviews and feature stories, the rapid-fire edits and cuts to of the crowd and players, or the majestic overhead images of both teams taking a pregame knee in prayer, Big Noon Kickoff brings viewers to the campus, on the field, and into the action in a manner that is fast-paced, frenetic, and just plain fun.
John Molori is a weekly columnist for Barrett Sports Media. He has previously contributed to ESPNW, Patriots Football Weekly, Golf Content Network, Methuen Life Magazine, and wrote a syndicated Media Blitz column in the New England region, which was published by numerous outlets including The Boston Metro, Providence Journal, Lowell Sun, and the Eagle-Tribune. His career also includes fourteen years in television as a News and Sports Reporter, Host, Producer working for Continental Cablevision, MediaOne, and AT&T. He can be reached on Twitter @MoloriMedia.
How Radio Sellers Can Be the Solution For Small Business Owners
In the face of these challenges, putting on a positive perspective can become a guiding light for SMBs.
The landscape for small business owners is rife with challenges, often leading to a cloud of negativity about their future. Radio sellers can be a ray of light.
The September NFIB Small Business Optimism Index reveals that 57% of these entrepreneurs do not expect improved business conditions in the next six months.
Despite improvement in their outlook from last year, this pessimism is still at recession levels. The majority of small-to-medium businesses are concerned with Top of Form inflation and labor shortages. We must get on The Energy Bus and help turn these negatives into positives.
The survey conducted among small business owners laid down the reasons for their negs:
Economic Uncertainty: A significant percentage expressed concerns about the unpredictable economic landscape, making strategic planning and decision-making difficult.
Inflationary Pressures: The rising costs and inflationary trends have worried them about maintaining profit margins and sustaining operations.
Labor Shortages or Quality of Labor: Finding and retaining quality employees amidst the ongoing labor shortage has emerged as a considerable challenge, affecting business operations and growth prospects.
In the face of these challenges, putting on a positive perspective can become a guiding light for SMBs.
See the Concerns and Offer Support
Address Their Worries: Acknowledge their concerns about the uncertain economic climate, rising costs, and labor challenges. Don’t let them drag on and on about it. But make sure to show some empathy and understanding towards their situation. If appropriate, share experiences of other station clients’ challenges and how your solutions or products have helped them navigate similar situations. Watch their ears perk up when they realize they are not the only business having issues.
Be a Partner: Position yourself as a partner rather than just a salesperson. Offer insights and strategies you have heard or read about that can help them navigate through these challenges. Be well-read and a resource for change.
Highlighting the Power of Radio Advertising: Showcase how your proposal can boost visibility, reach target audiences cost-effectively, and drive sales. Ensure you have a few different price point proposals that fit their budget. Don’t tell them to spend their way to success, especially on credit cards.
Success Stories: Share success stories of businesses similar to theirs that overcame challenges through effective radio marketing. Demonstrate how strategic advertising helped these businesses thrive despite economic uncertainties. This is your most powerful ally, and you must ask all the salespeople to share any success you can pass along.
Instilling Hope and Encouragement
Inspire Positive Vibes: Share uplifting anecdotes and stories of resilience to inspire hope and instill optimism in small business owners. Emphasize that challenges are temporary and can be overcome with the right strategies and a positive mindset. Recall how you watched businesses go through the same thing 2007-09. Please read up on those stories and pass them along.
Continued Support and Engagement: Maintain regular communication and send them stories you find. Stay engaged and offer hope by consistently being there for them.
The concerns SMBs have are valid. There is no argument there. However, amidst this negativity, we can play a transformative role. Before you go down this road, make sure you find the things to believe about why this business will succeed.
Focus on those positives. You are the person who is on the street dealing with dozens of local SMBs just like them. You are the voice of reason. Your positivity and support can drive their renewed optimism, and you will forever be seen as part of the Solution, not the problem.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
Barrett Media Writers
- Sports TV News5 days ago
Stephen A. Smith: I Deserve to Be Highest-Paid ESPN Employee
- BSM Writers3 days ago
Jim Boeheim Made a Career Out of Treating Media Poorly, But Now Wants In on the Action
- Sports Radio News4 days ago
Jason Benetti: White Sox Exit Had More To Do With the Tigers Interest in All I Do