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Broadcaster Review: The SEC on CBS

“Sometimes broadcasters fall victim to over enthusiasm when it comes to calling huge games. These guys seemed relaxed and ready for what was to come that afternoon.”

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Rarely do hyped match ups live up to the advanced billing. Most of the time they wind up in a blowout which ruins everything for the network covering it and its announcers. That wasn’t the case last Saturday when LSU faced Alabama in Tuscaloosa. CBS had its “A-Team” on the call, Brad Nessler on play-by-play and Gary Danielson handling color commentary.

Image result for alabama lsu

I went back and watched the game, to focus on the actual broadcast and not the outcome. Here are my thoughts. 

GAME OPEN

The broadcast open concentrated on the 2011 meeting between the two teams billed as “The Game of the Century”, which wound up in a 9-6 overtime win for LSU. CBS created good drama, using music and graphics to set the stage for this big moment, billed as “The Game of the Year”. 

It was good to see that both Nessler and Danielson seemed be loose for calling such a big game in their on camera open. Sometimes broadcasters fall victim to over enthusiasm when it comes to calling huge games. These guys seemed relaxed and ready for what was to come that afternoon. 

The open featured most of the obvious angles, concentrating on the two QBs and of course mentioning the injury to Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. They went deeper to include an injury on defense to LSU’s safety Grant Delpit. Both were dealing with ankle injuries.   

Nessler brought in Jamie Erdahl, the sideline reporter for the game, first with an interview of Alabama coach Nick Saban who confirmed what we already knew that Tagovailoa would start the game. After a brief toss back to the booth, Erdahl caught up with LSU coach Ed Orgeron who mentions that he told his team all week, “you are the better team”. Pretty good stuff here. 

Back to the booth now and Nessler is going over a graphic illustrating that Alabama has an 8-game win streak in the series vs. LSU. It’s followed by a good graphic showing what these two teams have done over the course of the rivalry. Good illustration for those that may be new to the game. 

The open segment wraps up with something that I had to rewind to make sure I heard correctly. Nessler exclaimed, “football fans around the world have circled November 9TH”, really? The world? Seems a bit much to me here. I get what he’s trying to say but that seemed a bit over the top. 

1ST QUARTER

There is good energy in the stadium for the opening kick. LSU won the toss and deferred. I liked the energy from the guys in the booth too as Alabama gained two first downs on its first two plays from scrimmage. The announcing crew didn’t get caught up in the crowd noise from the over 102-thousand fans in attendance. 

Image result for alabama lsu bryant denny stadium

To me, Danielson was very sharp early. He noticed six offensive lineman in game for Alabama on one offensive set, then four wides (receivers) on the next. I liked how he explained why Alabama had to call a timeout in the red zone on the first Tide drive. It all made sense and was easy to understand, even for the uninformed casual fan. 

Danielson continued to shine as Tagovailoa fumbled trying to scramble. The crew showed the replay and it was obvious there was some rust on the QB who had ankle surgery 21 days earlier and missed some game time. “You can’t simulate game action. You can test it (the ankle) all you want, now you have to instinctively make moves. Can’t blame that one (fumble) on a bad ankle”. 

LSU would take over and a lot of the focus turned to Joe Burrow the QB for the Tigers. He led the team right down the field for a score following the fumble to give LSU a lead. I thought Nessler did a great job of “laying out” after LSU touchdown. Even though the game was in Tuscaloosa, there were a lot of Tigers fans in the crowd, they were heard from after the score. 

Coming back from a break CBS posted a great graphic illustrating it was LSU’s first lead over Alabama since the 2017 game in the 3rd quarter. Nessler acknowledges it after the graphic is gone because he let Danielson make a point, which a good play-by-play guy should do. 

Now with Alabama on offense a poignant graphic popped up, stating that the 7-0 deficit was tied for the largest of the season for the Tide. 

In an effort to show both sides, the producer popped up a graphic, a comparison of the two team’s wide receiver corps. Nessler leads to it, showing how eerily similar the numbers are – Nessler pays it off saying, “despite all that ask if there’s a better group (of receivers) than Alabama, here you go.” 

The booth sends things to Erdahl after returning from a break. She has a very in depth look at the surgery Tagovailoa went through on his ankle complete with animated graphics. Nessler highlighting the detailed look with, “Jamie did so much research on that ankle thing we thought she could perform the surgery on us.”

The first quarter ends after a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown by Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, making the score LSU 10, Alabama 7. 

2ND QUARTER

As the 2nd quarter begins with LSU on offense, I noticed that the CBS crew cut off a few of the replays before they were finished, because of the pace of the LSU offense. I found it really distracting and maybe they should consider waiting until the Tigers go into a huddle? 

LSU continued its offensive prowess with another scoring drive. Nessler with a good call of the Burrow to Marshall touchdown. Danielson points out how the Alabama defense got schooled big time, saying “it’s just embarrassing for the Alabama defense”. 

The criticism wasn’t reserved for just the Tide defense. Danielson, the former NFL QB had a point with the slow start for Tagovailoa and the Alabama offense. “Right now he is not in sync at all in this game. He does not have the feel of complete high level competition so far.” Also so far I’ve noticed that Nessler is having a bit of an issue with the name Tagovailoa. Not that I can blame him, but it’s been coming out a few different ways. 

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Maybe it was just great timing, as Nessler and Danielson had a conversation about the ‘Bama wideouts from Jerry Jeudy’s perspective. He told the crew that Devante Smith just “caught everything”, just then Tagovailoa threw a 64-yard score to…Smith. How did he get so open? The producer showed us on replay, that several LSU defenders looking to the bench for a change in coverages as the touchdown pass developed.

CBS shined during a disputed play in the 2nd quarter. LSU receiver Thaddeus Moss made a catch near the sideline, it was very close, but called a catch on the field. “Pylon cam” showed Moss’ left foot out of bounds then re-established in the field of play to make the catch. This produced some good discussion between Danielson and rules analyst Gene Steratore about the legality of the catch. Was it illegal touching? No flag was thrown for it. Eventually after a lengthy delay, the call is confirmed. More on this situation pops up later in the broadcast. 

Image result for thaddeus moss catch alabama

As the first half ends, Danielson says this about Tua, “he just seems rusty to me, more than just his ankle is bothering him, just seems out of sorts.” Followed by Nessler throwing to a break, “I don’t believe I’m saying this, LSU by 20.”

The first half ends with LSU up 33-13. 

3RD QUARTER

To open things up, Steratore had a terrific follow up of the ruling of the completed pass controversy in the 2nd quarter. He stated that all the information wasn’t initially given about the play. He said that the official near the sideline ruled the receiver was pushed out of bounds and did not go out on his own, that would make it a legal catch rather than illegal touching. It is a strong follow up from one of the best rules analysts in the business. 

The struggles continued for Alabama, with Waddle calling for fair catch inside the 10…Danielson “that’s a mistake, you’re not supposed to back up behind the 10. Usually it’s Alabama forcing their opponent into bad plays like this, today it’s different.” Strong and correct commentary. 

Even after the previous statement the sentiment in the booth is that Tua is going to get hot at some point. Again, lucky or just great timing, Tagovailoa obliges and validates the thought with a touchdown pass to his RB Najee Harris.

Image result for najee harris lsu td catch

As the quarter comes to an end, Nessler says, “If you’ve ever in your life thought about doing something now instead of watching the fourth quarter – reconsider. 33-20 LSU after 3…” 

4TH QUARTER

The game still felt in doubt as the final quarter began. Alabama went right to work with the Tide scoring an early 4th quarter touchdown. Right after the play, again Nessler lays out for crowd reaction, which was a beautiful thing. 

After the Alabama score, the narrative switched to the pressure being on the LSU offense now which hasn’t scored since the 2nd quarter. Of course, more fortuitous timing, because a TD drive would ensue. 

Nessler put on his SEC hat and seemed to go on a rant which based on Twitter reaction wasn’t received all that well. The producer put up the College Football Playoff graphic, with LSU as #2 and Alabama as #3, leading him to say, “I don’t care if Ohio State (the #1 Buckeyes) won by 100 points (73-14 actually over Maryland), if LSU beats Alabama their number one next week.” The Clemson and Oregon fan bases were the most critical of this comment of all. 

The announcing crew shined in some cases as the game’s momentum swung from one side to the other toward the end. 

Danielson reacted to a pass that was batted down at the line, with a possibility of him running in the picture. Danielson thought that for the first time in the game, Tagovailoa may have been affected by his ankle injury in his decision making. The analyst still wasn’t off the bandwagon, thinking there would be a moment for the Tide quarterback. The payoff came after a huge 4th down conversion resulting in a touchdown throw by Tagovailoa. It’s a 5-point game, LSU 39, Alabama 34. 

Now it was Burrow’s time to shine. He led a 7 play, 75-yard drive and in the process picked up a huge first down late in the drive and quarter. Nessler pointed out, “might be a Heisman moment there.” The drive continued and wound up in a 7-yard score for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. 

Image result for clyde edwards-helaire bama touchdown

As quickly as the crew commented on the LSU score after the kickoff, the Tide would strike on its first play from scrimmage. The game would come to an end after a failed on-sides kick to give LSU the win in Tuscaloosa. 

OVERALL

It didn’t seem like the moment was too big for a veteran broadcast crew, and I never really suspected it would be. I felt like Danielson was very pointed in his commentary and on both sides. He had criticisms for each of the teams and all seemed extremely warranted at the time of the commentary. 

Nessler did his normal solid job with a couple of exceptions. The pronunciation of Tagovailoa’s name changed a few times and he didn’t seem to see some of the things that looked obvious on screen, especially when plays would be called back by penalty. Just a little nitpicking on my part here. 

Image result for brad nessler gary danielson alabama lsu

The broadcast never seemed too over the top which can be a tendency when some networks cover big games. CBS stuck to the script and to the storylines of the game itself. Nice job all around. 

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Meet the Bettors: Todd Fuhrman, CBS Sports HQ and Bet the Board

“To say that every sports bettor, even inside the audience that we’ve cultivated over the years, is looking for the exact same thing, I think would be a little bit foolish from my perspective.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Even before sports gambling was everywhere, the people that watched FOX and ESPN and listened to their local sports radio station probably had heard the name Todd Fuhrman. He has been one of the constants in the gaming space, making time for anyone that wanted to talk about it with him.

You can find his content all over the place. His podcast has been going strong for a decade, he’s on CBS Sports HQ and is a prolific user of X. That availability is valuable, because Todd has a perspective and an expertise not many can offer.

In our conversation for the Meet the Bettors series presented by Point to Point Marketing, we touch on what that experience can mean for the people trying to protect their sport, how the digital video audience compares to the digital audio audience, and the growing value of soccer. Enjoy!

Demetri Ravanos: How have you seen your audience change since PASPA? Do you have to do a little more educating now? I mean, there was a time when you were talking to just the hard cores, and now the practice of sports gambling is way more accessible. 

Todd Fuhrman: I think our audience has kind of grown with us. I mean, we’ve been doing Bet The Board since around 2014, and we kind of dipped our toes into the water, not sure what the appetite was going to be for that particular audience. The biggest thing for us is we kind of treat it like a field position game. We may have started in the shadow of our own end zone and gradually had to move the ball down the field. Not to the point that we wanted to intimidate our listeners or make them feel uncomfortable, but as our handicapping has become a little bit more transparent in some of our methodologies, it’s passing some of those things along to a listenership group and an audience in general. I’m not overly religious, but we just don’t want to feed. We want to teach them to fish more than what you’re seeing and a lot of the content space.           

I think that’s where the biggest challenge has come in. What can we do differently from our side? As an individual that has been in and around this space for a lot longer, how do I kind of differentiate the perspective that I bring to sports gambling content than an Instagram influencer who is just making picks, spending thirty seconds trying to offer up a seven-team single game parlay on a Tuesday in the middle of July for Getaway Day in Major League Baseball?

DR: So, I’m glad you brought up Bet the Board, because one of the things that I think is interesting about sports gambling content in the podcast space is your listeners have chosen to seek this out and make the effort to come back over and over again. I wonder if that is the same as your audience at CBS Sports HQ, because it’s not a traditional TV network where people are going to just stumble on it. Do you find the audience is people that are choosing and seeking out Todd Fuhrman’s content on there? 

TR: That’s a great question. I think you’re exactly right that you get gamblers coming in with different aptitude and appetites for what they’re looking to accomplish in this space. You know, on some platforms, whether it’s CBS or some of the radio shows that I’ll do across the country, it’s more “okay, you know, we kind of had a lead on this particular game. Let’s hear what Todd’s perspective is,” and “Can you push us right or left in terms of how we want to try and go about investing in a particular game?” Whereas Bet the Board in the podcast space is a little bit more longform. It’s more about trying to teach our listenership there the perspective on it, kind of peel back the curtain on some of those underlying analytics and insinuate, “Hey, here’s where we think this game is going to go from projecting the betting market. Here’s where we’ve actually bet some of these games, and here’s what we’re looking for.”           

So for me, selfishly, as a content creator, it’s given me an opportunity and an avenue to try and have a voice to get to a variety of different sports bettors that are looking for very different things, whether it’s picks on one end of the spectrum, or it’s learning how to handicap and trying to get an eagle-eye view on the perspective that it takes for folks that may want to get into this in a little bit more serious capacity. 

DR: You mentioned those influencers that are just posting their thirty-second “here is every pick in my parlay today” for your audience. Do you think there’s any value in that? I mean, are there people that just want the picks, or do you find your audience really want to understand why it is you’re on the side that you are? 

TR: No, I think there’s always people that want to kind of have their fast-food drive thru experience. When it comes to sports betting, they don’t want to necessarily know how the meal is made. They just hope that it tastes good. It’s, “You know, if I can get a quick pick in and three hours later, I can have more money in my account than I started with, that’s a successful endeavor.”           

The challenge, continuing along that fast food parallel, is that over time, that’s not going to be a meal that sustains you or keeps you in a good spot from a nutrition standpoint. You have to be able to kind of see through the trees and get a better perspective on the forest in terms of what you’re learning.            

To say that every sports bettor, even inside the audience that we’ve cultivated over the years, is looking for the exact same thing, I think would be a little bit foolish from my perspective. It’s always about trying to find that balancing act, to be able to not intimidate some of the newer bettors that are there, but at the same time provide a conduit for folks that have a passing interest in sports betting that may want to take it a little bit more seriously. Who can they lean from in a space where, unfortunately, as you know all too well, there are a lot of voices that are given a lot bigger platforms that I wouldn’t necessarily say should be trusted voices in the space? 

DR: Let’s talk about the traditional broadcaster’s relationship with gambling. You were part of FOX Bet Live. Not only is the show gone now, FOX Bet is gone. ESPN shuttered its studio on the Las Vegas Strip. Barstool sort of rethought its relationship with a gambling partner. Do you think some media companies may have bet too big or bet too foolishly on gambling content initially? 

TR: No, I wouldn’t say foolishly. Credit to ESPN and when they started working with Caesars and had an opportunity to build this set right there on Las Vegas Boulevard. They had a vision for what their brand was going to become. I’m not sure that they anticipated there was going to be an opportunity years down the road to be able to partner with Penn and be able to skin their own sportsbook that’s forged some opportunities. And as we’ve seen, they’re having their own challenges from a branding standpoint, playing catch up with the DraftKings and FanDuels of the world. At the same time, it just made a lot more sense to bring their production in-house to Bristol, more so than keeping something out here on an island, especially with a competing property, rather than moving to potentially what would have been the M Resort as the Penn stronghold out here in Las Vegas.          

It’s the same thing for FOX.  I gave my bosses there, Charlie Dixon, Eric Shanks and everybody else, a ton of credit that they believed in this space. They were probably ahead of its time trying to be able to get sports betting in the national discourse, being able to take advantage on FOX Sports Live, even with the launch of FS1, when we did some of our College Football Friday segments, Clay Travis, myself, Andy Roddick, and Charissa Thompson. I think given everything that’s going on at FOX, it lost its way in their ecosystem.           

Who knows? If they didn’t have the major litigation with the Flutter Group, there’s a very good chance that our daily TV show would have still been doing extremely well and thriving.

DR: Okay, so along those lines on that show, when it launched, Clay was beginning his, hard lean into politics, Cousin Sal was better known as a comedian. Both of those guys were well-educated gamblers, but I wonder what sort of responsibility you had or was conveyed to you in terms of being the gambling gravitas on the show. 

TR: You know, that was the big thing. And I think that was a major selling point for me when they pitched me the concept. It was described from Charlie Dixon’s standpoint, that he more or less wanted to create a panel on that show that felt like a blackjack table. He could bring people in with very different perspectives. They could have a healthy dialog, and everybody was more or less typecast in a particular role.           

So you had me on one end of the spectrum, who had come up through the ranks as an oddsmaker, had learned how things worked in a casino with that professional perspective on things. You had Clay on the opposite end of the spectrum. We used to joke with him all the time. “Clay, did you even look at the rundown more than three minutes before you came on air or spend more than 37 seconds making your picks?” And he was able to fill that kind of heel role. Then in the middle, you had Sal that was kind of a combination of both, that took the perspective of a more recreational better, but was still someone who was in this space day in and day out. Then it was throwing us all, more or less, in a blender.           

You know, I couldn’t have been more excited to continue working with Clay, who I’d known for years before, and to create the chemistry not just with Sal, but also Rachel [Bonetta] as a tremendous host. She could take and could dish it out and wear it as well as anybody that I could have imagined in that particular role, trying to corral two rather large personalities. 

DR: As younger generations reshape the way we consume content, could you see those bigger networks in the sports space, FS1, the ESPN channels, could you see them lean more into gambling and carrying international games in the middle of the day, as opposed to studio shows? 

TR: 100%. And I think you’ve seen a number of companies, whether it’s FOX, when we did way back when I want to say it was the Florida State/Auburn national championship, more on a second screen viewing. It was a lot more of the college football personalities they had there. I tried to add a little bit of gambling perspective, but it was in and out. You look at ESPN and the way they’ve gone into betcasts, even Turner, right now, is trying to foray into that. And I think everybody is trying to find that perfect sauce and recipe to be able to maximize some of those live events, like you mentioned, and take advantage of an audience that you know may want to watch as a casual fan or may want to watch with an investment interest. How can you kind of weave those experiences together seamlessly?           

In my opinion, I think it’s easier said than done, because you don’t want to try and be too pedantic and talk down to the audience, but at the same time, you want people to feel like they’re getting a different perspective and value added than they’d be getting from a more traditional viewing of whatever the sporting event may be, should it be international soccer, tennis, or anything else taking place on foreign shores, especially during the day. 

DR: What sport do the ratings or other metrics not do a great job of reflecting how popular it is with gamblers? 

TR: You know what? That’s a great question. When you look at the way things have gone, we know that age old thought processes, the church is more or less built for Easter Sunday, which is the NFL. It will always be the primary driver.           

I’ve sat in meetings countless times with executives that wanted to try and take away some of our sportsbook space. And I guess they’ve done that at Caesars over the years saying, “look, you guys only fill this thing up for 20 Sundays a year” and we go, “yeah, that’s exactly where the energy comes from.” So those 20 Sundays a year, no one is surrounding a blackjack table.         

I think when you look at what’s growing, to your point, hitting on international sports has been huge because of those opportunities and the void the international soccer can fill, throughout the course of a sporting day. It doesn’t just start at 7 eastern like the more traditional stick and ball sports here. So having access to be able to watch La Liga Serie A, and the English Premier League on various streaming platforms, I think soccer continues to be that rising star.           

It’s just a question of which books will feel more and more comfortable, how they’ll gradually ramp up and increase those betting venues? I don’t want to speak for every book, and I don’t have numbers in front of me, but a lot of the operators here from the more traditional side have said that typically you’ll get more of a parlay driven audience that wants to bet the biggest brands in that sport more so than some of the single game betting. I think on that level, anytime you can create those household names, international superstars that are playing at 11:55 in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon in November, it’s going to always be an attractive proposition for network partners and for the sports books as well. 

DR: I think you have a really interesting perspective. You’ve been a college athlete. Now that you’re in the gambling space, I wonder if anyone has asked for your guidance or your thoughts on how you handle Charlie Baker talking about wanting to limit props on NCAA athletes

TR: You know, they haven’t, and it’s an opportunity, quite honestly, that I would be more than happy to embrace and talk to the powers that be if they wanted someone that they could lean on. You know, I have a particular perspective, having been an athlete and knowing some of the trials and tribulations that an athlete can go through if they’re not properly educated on exactly what can transpire in the sports betting space, but to try and figure out the perfect solution for all parties involved from these sportsbook operators to protect their assets, to protect the students, and to protect the universities.           

I think oftentimes when we look at the NCAA, they kind of want to say that everything is done in black and white. There are so many shades of gray that pertain to this particular aspect. When you see more and more players, not just at the collegiate level, but also at the professional level, that are engaging in sports betting in various capacity, the biggest question that I have is are the players associations or university educating the teams accordingly? I can tell you flat out, when I was a college athlete, Division III and there were never numbers set on our games, one of the first team meetings we had, you had to sign a waiver that said you weren’t going to bet. As a Division III athlete, you look at it and go, no one’s coming to us. I mean, they’re not setting the lines on NESCAC football or hockey games where people want information from me, but it’s a very different discussion to be having with these power conferences, especially on the football side. If you happen to be in and around a college campus and you’re getting information, there are things that are a little bit different. It’s one of the areas that I’ve kind of pushed for, at least in my circles. I think you need a much more uniform injury report across collegiate sports and for the institutions and coaches that are hiding behind HIPAA. You know, that’s great in theory to sit in your ivory tower and say all that about athlete privacy, but in reality, my opinion is that if you make that information transparent, much like you have in the NFL, it keeps the wrong people from nosing around campuses, and spending time on social media feeds of 17 and 18 year olds trying to glean a little bit of an edge.           

Sports bettors are going to do everything they possibly can to get an edge. More often than not, there’s nothing wrong with it. But if you make that information readily available, it can take one potential element out of the equation entirely. 

DR I don’t know that I agree with you that people are not waiting with bated breath to find out the lines on Trinity Bantams hockey games, but I understand where you’re going. 

TR: [laughing] Hey, look, it was funny. I talked to one of the broadcasting crews back then, and one of the guys kind of joking, not knowing my background at all, asked “what would you think that a number would be on this kind of game?” And I go, “Look, you can’t figure out what’s going on with some of these games.” But yeah, that Trinity Bantams at Wesleyan as a travel partner game on a Tuesday night in Hartford, was not drawing a ton of money on the side or total at any particular juncture, other than, us betting a couple of beers on Wesleyan.           

It’s definitely wild, honestly, to see the evolution of the sports betting space over the years and how much has changed. We’d just like to see some of the decision makers be more open to comprehensive dialog and discussion to bring on independent parties and to get some perspective on how some of these things work, rather than pretending that they have all the answers when it’s still very much in the infancy of its development. 

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

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Charles Barkley Is Simply Irreplaceable

Needed: One former NBA Hall of Fame player. Need to have a personality that is larger than life. Can’t be afraid to laugh at himself or have fun with his fellow panelists.

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Screengrab of Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA
Screengrab: Inside the NBA/TNT

Hopefully we find out it’s not true. Maybe it’s a business decision or an attempt to get a better deal elsewhere. Let’s hope that’s the case, because there will be an emptiness on my television screen if there’s no Charles Barkley to entertain. The “Round Mound of Rebound” shocked us all last week by saying after next season, “No matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television.” It can’t be real.

Barkley hinted at this a couple of years ago at the All-Star Game, when he spoke on a conference call. Via the Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend, Barkley said he has 2 years left on his contract “and that’s probably going to be it for me.” Barkley continued, “It’s been a great, great thing. I love Ernie, Kenny, Shaq and everybody we work with. But I just don’t feel the need to work until the day I die. I don’t, man. I’ll be 61 years old if I finish out my contract. And I don’t want to die on TV. I want to die on the golf course or somewhere fishing. I don’t want to be sitting inside over [by] fat-ass Shaq [waiting] to drop dead.”

After signing a 10-year contract extension, that included an opt-out if TV lost the NBA, Barkley seemed ready to continue to work. He told SiriusXM NBA Radio last month, “I don’t know what’s going to happen with Amazon, ESPN or if we lose it to NBC, so I’m not sure how to answer that question,” Barley said. “I just don’t know. Ernie would not go to another network – I’m damn sure about that. But I would listen; I would listen before I made any decisions.”

Could it be that the other networks involved in NBA coverage made their offers and Barkley wasn’t pleased with any of them? Or as I mentioned at the beginning, is he looking to cash in on ‘low’ offers from the others that may or may not want his services? It’s depressing to think that the boisterous Barkley won’t be part of it all going forward.

We, however, should be prepared if this is the truth and a decision that’s already been made by “Sir Charles”. So let me begin the process of properly saluting Barkley for nearly three decades of a job well done. Let’s coronate the King of the NBA studio shows and give him his due.

Barkley was one hell of a basketball player, he’s a Hall of Famer after all. He won the MVP in 1993. He went to the All-Star Game 11 times and had his #34 retired by the 76’ers and Suns. My point? As good as he was on the court, he’s even better off it. There aren’t many athletes of his caliber that fared as well if not better as an analyst than as a player. I’m sure there’s a young generation of fans who had to be told by a dad, older brother or uncle that Barkley was a great player in his day. It’s actually a compliment, because it means he’s transcending generations with his basketball knowledge and personality.

Let’s pick up on the personality that makes him one of the best to ever analyze. He’s ready, willing and able to be silly, outlandish and outside the box. The man is so confident in all that he does, he doesn’t care what it looks like, he goes with the flow. He can take it but can also dish it out with the best of them.  He has personality and its genuine. That makes him likable whether you agree with him or not. His humor is some of my favorite kind. Unintentional.

Barkley is probably the most honest analyst to ever analyze. He makes a point without tip toeing around things. If a play was bad, he tells you about it. If Charles disagrees with one of his fellow panelists on Inside the NBA, he lets them know about it. Not in the way someone like Stephen A. Smith would, because instead of screaming and carrying on, Barkley just makes his point. He may add some humor to the cause, to lighten the mood, but you know where he’s coming from. His credibility affords him the opportunity to drive something home, in a less combative way than most of the screaming heads on television these days.  

He’s probably one of the best teammates on a television show in history as well. Barkley is likely the most popular and well known of the group, yet he continues to ‘get along’ with everyone. As much as he ‘roasts’ his fellow panelists, you get the sense that there’s a great respect among the former players, who all played different positions in the pros. It’s a rare quality. I think Barkley realizes that the show is greater than the sum of its parts. That’s what makes the show so great. The consistency and respect make it work. 

The problem now is if in fact Barkley follows through on his retirement, his replacements are in a daunting position. It’s hard to be the guy to replace ‘the man’. They can’t be Barkley and if they try, it won’t work out all that well for them. I really haven’t seen anyone out there that can match what Barkley brings to a show or broadcast. Don’t get me wrong there are some very capable former NBA players that show some promise, but not to the extent of replacing Sir Charles. Jamaal Crawford, Vince Carter, Dennis Scott and Richard Jefferson are among the ‘next’ wave of quality analysts, but none are Barkley. JJ Redick is more suited to the game analyst chair than the studio analyst role in my opinion. Basically, what I’m saying here is, Barkley is not replaceable. He brings so much to the table and if anyone tried to copy or tried to be like him, they’d fail. Badly.

What would it take to actually replace him if you don’t believe he’s irreplaceable? Oh, not much. I can just see the ‘want ad’ now:

Needed: One former NBA Hall of Fame player. Need to have a personality that is larger than life. Can’t be afraid to laugh at himself or have fun with his fellow panelists. Must offer ‘takes’ that make people think and have opinions that you will stick with no matter what. Need to have a warm, inviting, non-broadcaster style that will sit well with all audiences, whether they agree with you or not.

Still don’t believe that he’s not replaceable? If you won’t take my word for it, how about that of a well-known and respected broadcaster? In a recent interview on Nothing Personal with David Samson, released earlier in the week, Bob Costas explained why he believes Barkley has the upper hand with TNT management in their ongoing dispute, which was punctuated by Barkley announcing his pending retirement over last weekend.

“Barkley, on a national basis, is as close to indispensable as anyone I can think of. And he knows that if he wants to, wherever basketball ends up, he can go,” Costas said. “Everyone will want him. It might not be the same as Inside the NBA … but he can go wherever he wants to go, and he will be welcome. And if somehow TNT retains the NBA, no one there is going to say, ‘screw him, we don’t like what he said, screw him.’”

I’m going to take it a step further. If they built the Mt. Rushmore of sports analysts, Barkley’s face would be in the George Washington spot. He’s that good. That means he’s a top four guy, keeping some good company. Also on that famous mountain in South Dakota would be Howard Cosell, John Madden and Dick Vitale. All were crucial in growing the sports they covered and becoming more famous in their ‘second’ lives than the first.

Cosell was a lawyer, journalist and radio show host before becoming extremely well known for his ‘hot takes’ on Monday Night Football. Madden of course was an NFL coach for the Raiders, and won a Superbowl title, before becoming an analyst on CBS, NBC and later Fox. He was best known as part of the duo of “Summerall and Madden”, along with Pat Summerall they called national games on CBS and Fox. Vitale was a former NCAA Basketball coach at Detroit-Mercy before hitting it big with his catchphrases and up beat analysis on ESPN.

I’m hoping that Barkley was only speaking out of frustration and that he will not follow through with his threat to retire after next season.  That would be terrible.

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Barrett Media Hires Jeff Lynn to Spearhead Music Radio Coverage

“Adding Jeff to our editorial team to spearhead our music radio coverage is important for building brand identity and trust across the industry.”

Jason Barrett

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Barrett Media is expanding its content focus starting on Monday July 15, 2024. I announced these plans on May 6, 2024. Since then, I’ve had many conversations to identify the right person to bring our vision to life. Music radio will be our first addition. Coverage of tech and podcasting will come next.

Making sure we’ve got our finger on the pulse of the music radio business is the first step. With over 11,000 stations nationwide playing music, and entertaining listeners, there’s no shortage of stories to tell. I maintain that coverage of the music radio industry isn’t sufficient. We’re not going to solve every problem and nail every story but we’re going to work our tails off to try and make things better.

So, how can you help us? Email [email protected] so we’re aware of your success, career related news, and how to reach you for future feature stories. Sharing our content on social media and telling folks about the website once it’s live is another easy way to offer support.

To avoid any confusion, we will not be writing daily news on artists and record label activity. It’s why I’ve continued to mention ‘music radio’ each time I promote this expansion. We’re looking to focus our coverage on broadcasters, brands, companies, ratings, content, etc.. Artists and music labels may become part of our coverage down the road, but that’s not our immediate focus.

Which leads me to today’s announcement regarding our Editor. I spoke with a lot of smart, talented people for this role. Adding someone with management experience, who has a passion to write, a can-do attitude, a love for the industry, and relationships across formats is very important. I’ve found that person, and hope you’ll join me in welcoming Jeff Lynn as Barrett Media’s first ever Music Radio Editor.

Jeff’s experience in the music radio business spans nearly 25 years. He’s been a program director for iHeart, Townsquare Media, NRG Media, and Rubber City Radio Group. Those opportunities led him to Milwaukee/Madison, WI, Cleveland/Akron, OH, Des Moines/Quad Cities, IA and Omaha, NE. All Access then hired him in 2022 to leave the programing world and serve as a Country Format Editor, and manager of the outlet’s Nashville Record promotions. He remained in that role until August 2023 when the outlet shut down.

“I am honored to join the team at Barrett Media to guide the brand’s Music Radio coverage”, said Jeff Lynn. “Radio has been a lifelong passion and pursuit of mine. To be able to tell stories of the great work being done by radio pros and broadcast groups is very exciting. They are stories that need to be told. I can’t wait to get started.”

Jeff Lynn with Jelly Roll

I added Ron Harrell, Robby Bridges, and Kevin Robinson as columnists two weeks ago. Bob Lawrence and Keith Berman then joined us this past Monday. We’re quickly assembling a talented stable of writers, and with Jeff on board as our Editor, we’re almost ready for prime time. The only thing left to do is hire a few features reporters. I’m planning to finalize those decisions next week.

Building this brand and making it a daily destination for music radio professionals will take time. It starts with adding talented people, covering the news, and creating interesting content consistently. If we do things right, I’m confident the industry’s support will follow. Time will tell if my instincts are right or wrong.

Jeff begins his new role with Barrett Media on July 1st. Adding him to our editorial team to spearhead our music radio coverage is important for both building brand identity and trust across the industry. I’m eager to work with him, and hope you’ll take a moment to say hello and offer your congratulations. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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