Brandon Tierney Joins The Bears
“It would be a disservice to not keep an open mind, as a person, a broadcaster, father who’s trying to show my children that anything’s possible and my wife who believes more in me than I believe in myself.”
Humans are competing with grizzly bears and sports radio host Brandon Tierney is at the center of it all.
No, Tierney isn’t actually taking on a grizzly himself, but he’s hosting a new show for Discovery Channel featuring people that will, titled Man vs Bear.
The concept – each week three human competitors will engage in challenges of strength, speed and stamina against three grizzlies. The bears receive home field advantage, using their Utah sanctuary for the show’s location. Each episode includes five challenges, with the top two competitors advancing to the final round against the largest bear, Bart standing 8’ 6” tall and weighing in at 1,400 pounds. Points are earned during each challenge and used to determine a champion. For the season’s final episode, the top three point-getters return for one last competition against the bears.
The series premieres on Discovery Channel Wednesday, December 4th at 9pm, featuring commentary from Brandon Tierney and co-host Casey Anderson. With 25-years of experience, Anderson is a wildlife expert on animal biology and behavior, a filmmaker, having also rescued seven bears from inhumane captivity situations. Tierney, co-host of the nationally syndicated Tiki and Tierney on CBS Sports Radio, brings more than two decades of sportscasting to Man vs Bear.
If Tierney seems like an interesting selection for this greenlit show on Discovery Channel, there were times he had the same thought. Trying something new in front of 40 cameras, 20 associate producers and three grizzly bears, is not an easy task. The opportunity was challenging, but equally rewarding.
Maybe the biggest challenge was finding a way to mix his current TV and radio gigs with the time requirements it would take to host Man vs Bear on Discovery. With his daily show on CBS Sports Radio, also simulcast on CBS Sports Network, stepping away for five weeks to work for an entirely separate entity in Discovery seemed like a tall ask. But Tierney credits his employers, bosses and agency for their willingness to work symbiotically and help him get this new opportunity.
Although the platform is new for Tierney, the expectations are the same as his other media responsibilities – create, entertain and deliver content. The ability to step outside the box and prove something to himself, was an opportunity Tierney couldn’t pass up as he continues to embrace the world and new challenges.
BRANDON CONTES: With all of your TV and radio work, Discovery Channel is very different from anything you’ve done, how did this opportunity get to you?
BRANDON TIERNEY: I’m in an Uber heading to Nashville to do Tiki and Tierney from the NFL Draft and I get an email from my agency about a new show Discovery is working on. They were looking for a host and the email said ‘they know you, they like you and they’d like to gauge your interest.’ But as soon as I read the stipulation of a five-week hiatus to shoot the show in Beaver City, Utah I knew there was no way I could do it. I was honored, but logistically I didn’t think it could work.
They still wanted to do a Skype interview and I always think it’s good to network and meet new people. It was supposed to be 15 minutes, we ended up going for over an hour. I put my best foot forward, I had fun, I was happy with it and I honestly didn’t think much about the job beyond that.
Two days later, I get a call – they want to fly me to Los Angeles for a chemistry test. I had a 6am flight out of Newark, flew to Los Angeles for a noon audition, went right back to the airport and was back at Newark 6am the next morning. The chemistry test was with the potential co-host and person they identified as a bear biologist, Casey. It went great and I remember telling him, I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again, but if we get a chance to do this show I can’t wait to have a scotch with you because I think we’ll do great work. [Laughs] It just felt natural.
BC: I remember you doing your show from Utah a couple of times over the summer, I didn’t realize you were out there for five weeks though!
BT: If I didn’t have the synergy between Entercom, CBS Sports Network and Tiki [Barber] as a great partner, I wouldn’t be able to do this. I took all my remaining vacation and applied it to this. During dark days, which was once, sometimes twice a week, I drove 45 miles to Salt Lake City for Tiki and Tierney. CBS Sports Net got a mobile TV studio for me to do the show and everyone made concessions for this. When I first learned about the opportunity, I didn’t think there was a chance it would come together as serendipitously as is it did. Herculean effort by all involved that I work with and for.
BC: It is pretty interesting that Discovery has no affiliation with CBS or Entercom, but they were willing to help make this happen for you.
BT: Absolutely and I was also juggling the BIG3 at the time so there was a lot going on. If one person didn’t acquiesce, then it doesn’t happen. I’m so thankful to everyone.
I’m a huge Discovery fan, but my expectations about the possibility of this working out were tempered. After I auditioned, about 4 or 5 days later, the phone rings and they think I’m a great fit. From that point it became a dance of the business aspect, which my agency works out, but now we have to tell CBS Sports and Entercom that I have this opportunity. We need to find a way to make this work logistically, which still felt unrealistic even though I was offered the role.
My agency was in constant communication with everyone involved and multiple companies, multiple people were so flexible and accommodating to make this work. It was humbling to see the work my employers put in, just so I could host this show.
BC: Were you nervous to try something so different? You’re flying out there to host a show and I’m sure you didn’t have lines memorized at the time and you didn’t have exact details as to how everything was going to work on the show.
BT: I remember sitting in my trailer, which was extravagant and hysterical in itself, but I’m looking around, I have my script, I’m mic’d up and now my hearts pounding. But its go time, you have to sink or swim, this is different, this is going to be tough, you have to make it work. You have to dig down deep and crush it.
When you do what I do every day, you have a database of thoughts and historical occurrences that you can tap into and bridge from one thought to the next if you’re ever stuck. You have an excess of verbal ammunition.
But I’m not ashamed to admit this, right before we shoot, I’m standing there with my co-host Casey. The show doesn’t start until I speak and I’m looking around and there are 40 cameras, 40 lighting technicians, this monstrosity of a set, 20 AP’s and it’s a different world! In that second, I’m a little overwhelmed and questioning can I do this? Well you better find a way because the show is about to start.
BC: You’ve done plenty of TV in your career, but did you have an interest in branching away from sports? I’m sure the challenge was exciting, but have you been targeting opportunities like this?
BT: I’ve always had an interest in being challenged and I’ve always had a natural curiosity and again, I’ve always been an ardent fan of the Discovery Channel. I do think it’s important to have hobbies and places to check out of the sports world a little bit, to infuse normalcy into your life. I’ve attacked my career with an open mind and I’m always prepared to give different things a try.
The core of what I do is, and always will be sports, but it’s a big world and I’m not afraid to embrace and explore it. I proved something to myself, that I wasn’t 100% sure I could do. I left Utah with a different understanding of my skill set and a deep level of confidence in the ability to challenge myself.
BC: There were nerves and moments wondering if this was something you could do. If you look back on your career, radio/television, local/national, is there one job or even one moment you could reflect on and take something from that you feel helped you?
BT: You just tap into your broadcasting instincts and understand that conversation is paramount. You find what messages need to pop and resonate. One of the jobs that definitely helped, because there was a lot of standup work, was the Red Storm Report which I’ve done for a long time with MSG and St. Johns. I learned how to have a presence, because camera presence is vastly different from verbal presence.
Anytime you do something new, you tap into that vulnerability and if you channel that properly, it really goes from a possible detriment to a true asset. The first time I was ever on TV in Detroit, or on Cold Pizza with ESPN, when I auditioned for First Take, when I helped launch a national radio network, those are moments where there’s not necessarily a net if you fall and we all fall because nobody does every segment and is fully enthralled in what you do. You have to be self-critical, you also have to appreciate when you do something well and find that balance.
BC: Did you interact with the grizzlies?
BT: We were close to them. They’re tame, they’ve been out of the wildlife since birth, but they’re still animals. There’s a whole protocol with the wildlife team and with their trainers, but Bart – the biggest bear is almost 9-feet tall and 1400 pounds. There were times when we’re shooting promos and Bart is only 11 or 12 feet away from us and my back is to him. I’m trying to deliver these lines, but I’m human! You realize, if something, God forbid happens, you’ll be squashed like a gnat and ripped apart like a salmon! It puts a charge through your body that you can’t replicate because we’re not faced with those innate dangers day to day.
BC: Has branching out inspired you to set other TV goals? Stephen A. Smith talks about wanting a late night show. Do you now have new goals that you previously never thought were attainable?
BT: You’re always looking to evolve. My personal evolution as a broadcaster has gone from local radio, moving to larger markets, incorporating TV and not being very good at first, going national. All of the different auditions and different jobs have reinforced that I’m incredibly lucky, but also that I’ve been talented enough, smart and blessed to take advantage of those opportunities. You don’t jump at every project, you get to a point where you can turn things down, but anything is possible. I’m at the point now, in my 40s, I’m a dad, I’ve traveled the country, I’m in tune and curious about the world. It would be a disservice to not keep an open mind, as a person, a broadcaster, father who’s trying to show my children that anything’s possible and my wife who believes more in me than I believe in myself. There are no limitations.
BC: You have this big platform with your national radio show, could it be easy to ever get complacent and say I’m just going to focus on this and not look for new opportunities?
BT: This is going to sound contrived, but I don’t look passed today in terms of my profession and I can say this with 100% conviction, I don’t take a segment off. There’s no such thing as this show’s been good, I can mail the rest of it in. There’s always some young buck ready to come take your job and eventually somebody will. We all get older, but I’ve always viewed myself as an underdog.
I’m from a middle-class family in Brooklyn where these jobs didn’t seem attainable. I didn’t have one connection in this business so I’ve fought and scrapped for everything I’ve earned. There are people who have given me the chance to prove them right and if I didn’t have those platforms, I absolutely wouldn’t be here today, but I wake up every morning and my mission is to slay it on the radio. To put out the most thought-provoking, passionate, energetic show of anybody. I’m probably insecure in my place in the industry. There are a lot of things I’m proud of on my resume, but it doesn’t feel that way. I’m not Stephen A. Smith. I’m in a good space, but there are still several rungs to climb. Complacency? Not a chance.
BC: What’s next for your radio show? I get the need to slay it and the underdog mentality when you’re young and you’re in small markets, climbing and chasing something. But you did local, you did major market, you’ve done morning, midday, now you’re in the afternoons on a national stage – What’s the next step for your radio career? What are you chasing exactly? Would you ever go back to local?
BT: My focus is on this show. To gain more affiliates and more markets, to convince people to say ‘Tiki and Tierney, that’s a show that we need.’ Three hours is great, I want four hours, five hours, I want more real estate, I want a larger platform, I want to connect with more people and continue to solidify the Tiki and Tierney, the CBS Sports Radio brand into the sporting realm every day.
I’m up for juggling some local, there’s a part of my heart that is local. Local radio is imbedded in my soul and I’d be dishonest if I said I wouldn’t be open to being able to do both. I also use Twitter for that local connection. But the Tiki and Tierney brand has grown and Tiki has really grown. He’s smart, curious and passionate for being great.
We’re motivated by the same things, but we’re very different and I think that’s why our balance is great. He knows when to let me go nuts for a few minutes and conversely, I can see when it’s time to give him 30 carries and let him roll. I want this show to get bigger.
The thing about national radio that I never thought I would say when we launched and certainly wouldn’t have said 10, 12 years ago when I was immersed in local, is that national has enabled me to branch into a different space. The way sports radio has changed and the way people talk about societal topics has opened up the opportunity for new conversations.
BC: Right, if something important outside of sports happens on the west coast, the conversation in New York remains Mets and Yankees, national lets you talk about happenings around the country.
BT: Sports will remain the commonality for our show, but we can morph into important, real-life, sometimes uncomfortable discussions. That is something I cherish and would never want to lose. In my mind, if you really don’t carry any bias or any hatred toward any person, then you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about this stuff. If you’re open-minded and embrace the exchange of ideas, there are no boundaries for what you can create and that’s very satisfying and appealing, especially as a dad.
BC: Is it frustrating, you are a New Yorker, Tiki has obvious ties to New York, but the show isn’t available in New York terrestrially.
BT: I crave a New York affiliate, this show absolutely deserves and has earned a New York affiliate! But I have Twitter and other outlets, I’m at the Garden for St. John’s games and seeing people on the street to fill that local desire.
I love baseball and can talk about it as well as anyone, but with this show, we don’t need to spend three hours in the middle of the summer breaking down Mickey Callaway’s use of the bullpen. At this stage of my life, I like conversations with depth and layers. With a national platform, you can create interesting and unique discussions.
BC: You mentioned sitting in your trailer and then standing in front of the 40 cameras on set. Your heart is pounding. At this point in your career, after doing this for decades, how often do you get that heart pounding feeling when you’re on the radio.
BT: Every day. My fear of underachieving and not attempting to reach greatness is my fuel. It’s what keeps me sharp. You can ask Tiki, two or three minutes before we go on-air I feel like I’m going into the ring for a heavyweight fight. It’s go-time. Everybody’s pregame routine is different, but this is what works for me. I don’t deviate from it because without that urgency, I don’t feel as if I’m delivering what I want to deliver to my audience.
Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Amanda Brown Has Embraced The Bright Lights of Hollywood
“My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and eight others aboard a helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, sent shockwaves around the world of sports, entertainment, and culture. People traveled to Los Angeles following the devastating news and left flowers outside the then-named STAPLES Center, the arena which Bryant called home for much of his career, demonstrating the magnitude of the loss. Just across the street from the arena, Amanda Brown and the staff at ESPN Los Angeles 710 had embarked in ongoing breaking news coverage, lamentation, and reflection.
It included coverage of a sellout celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter and teams around the NBA opting to take 8-second and 24-second violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers throughout his 20-year NBA career. They currently hang in the rafters at Crypto.com Arena, making Bryant the only player in franchise history to have two numbers retired.
During this tumultuous time, Bryant’s philosophy served as a viable guiding force, something that Brown quickly ascertained in her first month as the station’s new program director.
“I had people that were in Northern California hopping on planes to get here,” Brown said. “You didn’t even have to ask people [to] go to the station; people were like, ‘I’m on my way.’ It was the way that everybody really came together to do really great radio, and we did it that day and we did it the next day and we did it for several days.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is quickly approaching, and Brown will be attending the event for the first time since 2020. During her first experience at the BSM Summit in New York, Brown had just become a program director and was trying to assimilate into her role. Because of this, she prioritized networking, building contacts, and expressing her ideas to others in the space. This year, she looks forward to connecting with other program directors and media professionals around the country while also seeking to learn more about the nuances of the industry.
“The Summit is kind of like a meeting of the minds,” Brown said. “It’s people throughout the country and the business…. More than anything, [the first time] wasn’t so much about the panels as it was about the people.”
Growing up in Orange County, Brown had an interest in the Los Angeles Lakers from a young age, being drawn to play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn. Brown refers to Hearn as inspiration to explore a career in broadcasting. After studying communications at California State University in Fullerton, she was afforded an opportunity to work as a producer at ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM by program director Scott Masteller, who she still speaks to on a regular basis. It was through Masteller’s confidence in her, in addition to support from operations manager Dave Schorr, that helped make Brown feel more comfortable working in sports media.
“I never felt like I was a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Brown said. “I always just felt like I was a part of the industry. For me, I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I deserve to be here; I deserve a seat at the table.’”
Brown quickly rose up the ranks when she began working on ESPN Radio in Bristol, Conn., working as a producer for a national radio show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt, along with The Sports Bash with Erik Kuselias. Following five-and-a-half years in Bristol, Brown requested a move back to California and has worked at ESPN Los Angeles 710 ever since. She began her tenure at the station serving as a producer for shows such as Max and Marcellus and Mason and Ireland.
Through her persistence, work ethic and congeniality, Brown was promoted to assistant program director in July 2016. In this role, she helped oversee the station’s content while helping the entity maintain live game broadcast rights and explore new opportunities to augment its foothold, including becoming the flagship radio home of the Los Angeles Rams.
“Don’t sit back and wait for your managers or your bosses to come to you and ask what you want to do,” Brown advised. “Go after what you want, and that’s what I’ve always done. I always went to my managers and was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this. Give me a chance; let me do that.’ For the most part, my managers have been receptive and given me those opportunities.”
When executive producer Dan Zampillo left the station to join Spotify to work as a sports producer, Brown was subsequently promoted to program director where she has helped shape the future direction of the entity. From helping lead the brand amid its sale to Good Karma Brands in the first quarter of 2022; to revamping the daily lineup with compelling local programs, Brown has gained invaluable experience and remains keenly aware of the challenges the industry faces down the road. For sports media outlets in Los Angeles, some of the challenge is merely by virtue of its geography.
“We’re in sunny Southern California where there’s a lot of things happening,” Brown said. “We’re in the middle of Hollywood. People have a lot of opportunities – you can go to the mountains; you can go to the beach. I think [our market] is more about entertainment than it is about actual hard-core sports. Yes, obviously you have hard-core Lakers fans; you have hard-core Dodgers fans, but a majority of the fans are pretty average sports fans.”
Because of favorable weather conditions and an endless supply of distractions, Brown knows that the way to attract people to sports talk radio is through its entertainment value. With this principle in mind, she has advised her hosts not to worry so much about the specific topics they are discussing, but rather to ensure they are entertaining listeners throughout the process.
“People know the four letters E-S-P-N mean sports, but really our focus is more on entertainment more than anything,” Brown said. “I think the [talent] that stick out the most are the ones that are the most entertaining.”
Entertaining listeners, however, comes through determining what they are discussing and thinking about and providing relevant coverage about those topics. Even though it has not yet been legalized in the state of California, sports gambling content has been steadily on the rise since the Supreme Court made a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act established in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018). Nonetheless, Brown and ESPN Los Angeles 710 have remained proactive, launching a sports gambling show on Thursday nights to try to adjust to the growing niche of the industry.
Even though she has worked in producing and programming for most of her career, Brown is eager to learn about the effect sports gambling has on audio sales departments. At the same time, she hopes to be able to more clearly determine how the station can effectuate its coverage if and when it becomes legal in their locale.
“I know that a lot of other markets have that,” Brown said regarding the legalization of sports gambling. “For me, I’m interested to hear from people who have that in their markets and how they’ve monetized that and the opportunity.”
No matter the content, though, dedicated sports radio listeners are genuinely consuming shows largely to hear certain talent. Brown recalls receiving a compliment on Twitter earlier this quarter where a listener commented that he listens to ESPN Los Angeles 710 specifically for Sedano and Kap. Evidently, it acted as a tangible sign that her philosophy centered around keeping people engrossed in the content is working, and that providing the audience what it wants to hear is conducive to success.
At this year’s BSM Summit, Brown will be participating on The Wheel of Content panel, presented by Core Image Studio, featuring ESPN analyst Mina Kimes and FOX Sports host Joy Taylor. Through their discussion, she intends to showcase a different perspective of what goes into content creation and the interaction that takes place between involved parties.
“A lot of times in the past, all the talent were on one panel; all the programmers were on one panel,” Brown said. “To put talent and a programmer together, I think it’s an opportunity for people to hear both sides on certain issues.”
According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM (terrestrial) radio among persons 18-34 has a greater average audience than television. The statistical anomaly, which was forecast several years earlier, came to fruition most likely due to emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Simultaneously, good content is required to captivate consumers, and radio, through quantifiable and qualifiable metrics, has been able to tailor its content to the listening audience and integrate it across multiple platforms of dissemination. The panel will give Brown a chance to speak in front of her peers and other industry professionals about changes in audio consumption, effectuated by emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Yet when it comes to radio as a whole, the patterns clearly point towards the proliferation of digital content – whether those be traditional radio programs or modernized podcasts. Moreover, utilizing various elements of presentation provides consumers a greater opportunity of finding and potentially engaging with the content.
“We do YouTube streaming; obviously, we stream on our app,” Brown said. “We’ve even created, at times, stream-only shows whether it’s stream-only video or stream-only on our app. We all know that people want content on-demand when they want it. I think it’s about giving them what they want.”
As a woman in sports media, Brown is cognizant about having to combat misogyny from those inside and outside of the industry, and is grateful to have had the support of many colleagues. In holding a management position in the second-largest media market in the United States, she strives to set a positive example to aspiring broadcasters. Additionally, she aims to be a trusted and accessible voice to help empower and give other women chances to work in the industry – even if she is not universally lauded.
“I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I’m no different than anyone else – yes, I’m a female – but I’m no different than anyone else,’” Brown expressed. “My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
Through attending events such as the BSM Summit and remaining immersed in sports media and the conversation at large about the future of sports media, Brown can roughly delineate how she can perform her job at a high level.
Although the genuine future of this business is always subject to change, she and her team at ESPN Los Angeles 710 are trying to come up with new ideas to keep the content timely, accurate, informative, and entertaining. She is content in her role as program director with no aspirations to become a general manager; however, remaining in her current role requires consistent effort and a penchant for learning.
“Relationships are very important overall in this business whether you’re a programmer or not,” Brown said. “Relationships with your talent; relationships with your staff. If you invest in your people, then they’re going to be willing to work hard for you and do what you ask them to do.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is mere days away, and those from Los Angeles and numerous other marketplaces will make the trip to The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC).
Aside from Brown, Kimes and Taylor, there will be other voices from across the industry sharing their thoughts on aspects of the industry and how to best shape it going forward, including Colin Cowherd, Rachel Nichols, Al Michaels and Eric Shanks. More details about the industry’s premiere media conference can be found at bsmsummit.com.
“I’m excited to be a female program director amongst male program directors for the first time and get a seat at the table and represent that there can be diversity in this position,” Brown said. “We don’t see a lot of it, but… there is an opportunity, and I hope I can be an example for other people out there [to show] that it’s possible.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he interns in video production with the New York Islanders and formerly worked as production manager for the team’s radio broadcasts. 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.
Pat McAfee Has Thrown Our Business Into a Tailspin
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve, McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
When you have one of the hottest talk shows in America, you’re always up to something. That’s the case for the most popular sports talk show host in America – Pat McAfee.
The former Pro Bowl punter was on top of the world on Wednesday. With over 496,000 concurrent viewers watching at one point, McAfee was able to garner an exclusive interview with frequent guest Aaron Rodgers who announced his intention to play for the Jets.
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve — a new studio, consistent high viewership, a syndication deal with SportsGrid TV, a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel — McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
At the end of the day, he is human and he’s admitted that balancing his show, his ESPN gig with “College Gameday,” and his WWE obligations has taken a toll on him.
McAfee and his wife are expecting their first child soon and he recently told The New York Post he might step away from his deal with FanDuel. Operating his own company has come with the responsibility of making sure his studio is up and running, finding people to operate the technology that puts his show on the air, negotiating with huge behemoths like the NFL for game footage rights, booking guests, booking hotels, implementing marketing plans and other tasks that most on-air personalities rarely have to worry about.
McAfee says he’s looking for a network that would be able to take control of those duties while getting more rest and space to spend time with family while focusing strictly on hosting duties. FanDuel has its own network and has the money to fund such endeavors but is just getting started in the content game. McAfee needs a well-known entity to work with who can take his show to the next level while also honoring his wishes of keeping the show free on YouTube.
The question of how he’s going to be able to do it is something everyone in sports media will be watching. As The Post pointed out in their story, McAfee hasn’t frequently stayed with networks he’s been associated with in the past for too long. He’s worked with Westwood One, DAZN, and Barstool but hasn’t stayed for more than a year or two.
There’s an argument to be made that the latter two companies weren’t as experienced as a network when McAfee signed on with them compared to where they are today which could’ve pushed the host to leave. But at the end of the day, networks want to put money into long-term investments and it’s easy to see a network passing on working with McAfee for fear that he’ll leave them astray when he’s bored.
It’ll also be difficult for McAfee to find a network that doesn’t put him behind a paywall. Amazon and Google are rumored to be potential new homes. But both are trying to increase subscribers for their respective streaming services.
It will be difficult to sell Amazon on investing money to build a channel on YouTube – a rival platform. For Google, they may have the tech infrastructure to create television-like programming but they aren’t an experienced producer, they’ve never produced its own live, daily talk show, and investing in McAfee’s show doesn’t necessarily help increase the number of subscribers watching YouTube TV.
Networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox might make sense to partner with. But McAfee faces the possibility of being censored due to corporate interests. Each of these networks also operates its networks or streaming channels that air talk programming of their own. Investing in McAfee could cannibalize the programming they already own.
And if McAfee works with a traditional network that isn’t ESPN, it could jeopardize his ability to host game casts for Omaha or analyze games on Gameday. It’s not impossible but would definitely be awkward on days that McAfee does his show remotely from locations of ESPN games with ESPN banners and signage that is visible in the background.
If SportsGrid has the money to invest in McAfee, they might be his best bet. They have all the attributes McAfee needs and they already have a relationship with him. It is probably unlikely that he’ll be censored and he would even be able to maintain a relationship with FanDuel – a company SportsGrid also works alongside.
Roku is another option — they already work with Rich Eisen — but they would move his show away from YouTube, something McAfee should resist since the majority of smart TV users use YT more than any other app.
If the NFL gave McAfee editorial independence, they would make the perfect partner but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. NFL Media has independence but it was clear during the night of the Damar Hamlin incident that they will do whatever is necessary to stay away from serious topics that make the league look bad until it’s totally unavoidable.
It’s hard to think of a partner that matches up perfectly with McAfee’s aspirations. But once again, at the moment, he’s on top of the world so anything is possible. The talk show host’s next move will be even more interesting to watch than the other fascinating moves he’s already made that have put the sports media industry in a swivel.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit
“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”
Bring your game plan if you attend the BSM Summit in LA next Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter your purpose for attending: to learn, get a job, speak, or sell an idea, you must be able to read the room. To do that, it helps to know who will be there and how you can cure their pain.
Have a plan and don’t leave home without it. If you have time, buy How to Work a Room by Susan Roane. If you don’t, just follow these five tips:
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Before you arrive at The Summit, figure out what you want, who you want to meet, and what you will say. Once you get there, scout out the room and see if anyone of those people are available. Talk to speakers after they have spoken- don’t worry if you miss what the next speaker says. You are there to meet new people! Most speakers do not stick around for the entire schedule, and you don’t know if they will attend any after-parties, so don’t risk it. Refine your elevator pitch and break the ice with something you have in common. Make sure you introduce yourself to Stephanie, Demetri and Jason from BSM. They know everybody and will help you if they can.
- GET A NAME TAG: Don’t assume that name tags will be provided. Bring your own if you and make your name clear to read. If you are looking to move to LA or want to sell a system to book better guests, put it briefly under your name. Study this to get better at remembering names.
- LOSE THE NOTEBOOK: When you meet folks, ensure your hands are free. Have a business card handy and ask for one of theirs. Remember to look people in the eye and notice what they are doing. If they are scanning the room, pause until they realize they are blowing you off. Do whatever it takes to sound upbeat and open. Don’t let their clothes, hair, or piercings distract from your message. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie but do bring your best business casual wear. A blazer isn’t a bad idea either.
- SHUT UP FIRST! The art of knowing when to end the convo is something you will have to practice. You can tell when the other person’s eye starts darting or they are not using body language that tells you the convo will continue. You end it by telling them you appreciate meeting them and want to connect via email. Ask for a business card. Email is more challenging to ignore than a LinkedIn request, and you can be more detailed in what you want via email.
- WORK THE SCHEDULE: Know who speaks when. That is when you will find the speakers hanging around. Plan your lunch outing to include a few fellow attendees. Be open and conversational with those around you. I am a huge USC fan, so I would walk to McKays– a good spot with plenty of USC football memorabilia on the walls. Sometimes you can find the next day’s speakers at the Day 1 after party. Need a bar? Hit the 901 Club for cheap beer, drinks, and food.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
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