There are a lot of radio hosts that say they have great passion for sports and the broadcasting industry. There aren’t as many of those same hosts who actually show it. David Weiglein — better known as Carmichael Dave – isn’t one of these fake smooth talkers. The guy oozes passion for the Sacramento Kings and his sports radio gig. He doesn’t prove his enthusiasm solely through words. Carmichael Dave proves it through his many actions.
Carmichael is a suburb in Sacramento where Dave grew up. His stage name originates from the many times he called Sports 1140 KHTK as a kid. Dave was so fired up to participate as a teenager that he recorded his calls on a boombox. It was a drug to him. He now hosts a weekday show from 6-9am on the same station he grew up adoring — KHTK.
Dave details the highs and lows of getting fired and re-hired by his current employer. While out of work, he didn’t sit around twiddling his thumbs feeling sorry for himself. Not only did he start a podcast back then, Carmichael Dave raised money and commandeered a 27-foot RV. This dude ended up in New York City during a Board of Governors meeting as he fought for the Kings to remain in Sacramento. If that isn’t real, authentic, genuine passion, I don’t know what is. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: With you being a former caller, does that impact the way you engage with callers now because you understand what it’s like to be on the other end?
Carmichael Dave: One trillion percent. But radio is going away from calls in a lot of ways because of texting and emails. I think the lifeblood of sports radio is trying to create passion. You throw out as a host that bait and you’re trying to hook passion. Every single blinking hold light to me was like a biting fish. As somebody who had gone through it as a kid and as a young adult, I’m taking it very seriously. The radio is off, nobody can talk to me, and I’m shut in a room somewhere because I’m afraid the host is going to come to me at any point. I have taken the time to completely shut my life down so that I can call in unpaid on a radio show and contribute free content.
Sometimes that content sucks, we all know there are crappy callers, but it doesn’t matter. These people are taking time to contribute to your show. You better respect what they’re doing. When they get on the air, we may yell, we may scream, I may think the person’s a moron, but you’re damn straight I’m going to respect their time. You’re taking the time out of your life to participate in my show, I’m going to respect that and I’m going to talk to you.
BN: What helps you connect with your audience the most?
CD: My brand is like an anti-brand. I’m a kid from Carmichael that lucked his way into being able to work at the station he grew up listening to and covering the team that he adores more than anything, the Sacramento Kings. My name is local. Carmichael Dave doesn’t work in Houston. It doesn’t work in New York or L.A. It works in Sacramento and that’s it. I am bonded to this city.
Sacramento is not the first prize in the Price Is Right Showcase Showdown for the vacation. That’s not what we’re known for. It’s a stepping stone.
Think about some of the shittiest cities in the country like Detroit. Everybody thinks Detroit is shitty, right? Like you do not want to go to Detroit. That is a terrible city. But talk to people from Detroit. They’re like yeah D-Town what’s up? They are the most loyal people in the world. Same thing with Stockton here, which is like the Detroit of California. That’s their reputation. But they’re so loyal to where they’re from. That’s my brand.
This isn’t a cultivated character. I’m going to go at it with you. I’m very active on Twitter. I won’t say your mother’s a whore or anything, but in the end I’m a native Sacramentan. I’m born here, raised here, going to die here. We’re all kind of an extended dysfunctional family. If you want to say a brand, that’s my brand. It’s local.
BN: How did things unfold for you going from a caller to being on the air?
CD: The program director at the time was a guy named Mike Remy. He’s one of my big-time mentors. I had an internship when I was 17. The guy who was running the board, who was kind of in charge of everything, he opens the door and he goes “Alright, step into my office. I’ll give you the rundown.” His name was Steve Goss. He’s still there today. He’s our traffic director.
Well, his office was the bathroom. He just starts taking a leak while I’m sitting there at the sink. He says all right here’s what you do, here’s what you don’t do. He’s like turning around from the urinal talking to me. That was my first indoctrination into the inside of a radio building.
From there I did everything I could working for free. Mike Remy said hey dude check it out, you got to learn how to be on the air and you’re not going to get the time you need here right now. There’s a bunch of music stations in town. Go work at a music station, come back to me in a few months and we’ll see what we can do. So I went to this alternative rock station in town. I worked there about a year.
Then eventually I went back to KHTK in ‘01. I got my first break doing backup sports updates for Jason Ross. Jason was doing updates for our afternoon drive host Grant Napear who is also the play-by-play TV voice for the Kings. I grew up absolutely idolizing this dude. He was the alpha and the omega to me. I’m 23 or 24. I called him Mr. Napear. I don’t know what that first update sounded like, but I know Grant will often say that I was like this scared little bunny. He actually told me at one point hey speak up. I did backup updates for four years.
Then one day Mike Remy hired somebody else to do a show from 9 to midnight. That dude lasted a year. His name was Tim Montemayor. He got a job at KMOX in St. Louis and quit that day. I get a call at 4pm. I had a 104-degree temperature. I had strep throat. I was lying in bed but I recognized Mike Remy’s phone number. He said hey I need you to fill in for Tim. He’s no longer with us. The show starts in five hours. It’s at a Hooters for a live remote. So with strep throat and a 104-degree fever and Hooters girls being shoveled in and out of my broadcast, that was the first time I ever hosted a show. Two weeks later they let me keep the spot. I did 9 to midnight for the next six years.
BN: Man, only a few hours to prepare — you’re on location so that’s a whole different animal — what do you remember most about that first show?
CD: I just shit my pants in front of Hooters girls because I was scared to death. I was on right after a Kings-Timberwolves game and thank God it was a win. But I didn’t know enough to know anything. I had never hosted a show. I had never, ever done anything but a sports update on the station and here I am soloing for three hours.
During that broadcast, after I got through all the schematics and phone numbers and stuff, all of a sudden I heard that telltale white noise in my ear again and I was a caller. I was on the air and it was time to dance. All the times that I had spent calling in on Grant Napear’s show or Scott Ferrall’s show or any of these radio shows I called as a kid, instead of having a five-minute phone call it was now a three-hour phone call with commercial breaks. It just kicks in. You’re either able to do it or you’re not. I certainly wasn’t great. I was far from perfect, but I did it well enough to get called back the next day.
It’s always been like that. I’ve always had that attitude that I’m really on a day-to-day contract. What I did today doesn’t matter now. It’s what I do tomorrow that matters. I don’t think I’m ever going to get rid of that attitude. That’s the attitude I had from the very first day I did a show.
BN: What led to you being fired and how tough of a situation was that for you?
CD: The Sacramento Kings had announced that the ownership had come to a deal and they were going to sell the team and move to Seattle. You’ve got to understand again I’m a native Sacramentan. There’s nothing else here, at least at the time. It was the only professional team. I became very vocal as a fan and used my platform as much as I could to speak out against ownership and against the move.
I’ll never forget it; it was a meeting with the bosses in our corporate office. I remember the market manager at the time saying we no longer need you and thank you for your service basically. I was just unbelievably crushed. I just got fired. I didn’t do anything wrong, but ultimately what I did is the powers that be within and outside of the station thought I was being a little bit too noisy and a little bit too much of a nuisance.
At the time I had my brand new wife and I had a two- and a one-year-old child. My wife had not yet gone back to work. I was the sole breadwinner and I got fired in part for speaking out about the Kings.
I started a podcast in my garage. The local magazine here did a cool little front-page cover photo with me in a Kings jersey, wearing handcuffs that were broken to symbolize being free to speak freely. I did a podcast in my garage for a few months where I was basically bringing in a thousand bucks a month in sponsorships, which just barely kept the roof over our head while I was getting unemployment.
In a sense me getting fired from KHTK took me from the idea I always had that I was a caller who was lucky to be there who had a seat at the kids’ table at Thanksgiving and not the adults’ table. When I came back I had kind of proven to myself that even without this station I was able to make some waves and had a voice. The people in Sacramento had my back. They saved my life. They saved my job. When I came back it was like I grew up. I was an adult now. I knew I belonged here and I’ve never looked back. That was almost eight years ago.
BN: The day you got fired compared to the day you returned — how did those completely different experiences impact the way you look at the business?
CD: When I left I thought I’d never work in radio again. I thought that was over. I was going to have to go wear a suit and tie. What happened was…necessity is the mother of invention. It allowed me to spend time on the Kings saga that I couldn’t have before. It allowed me to free myself from the politics that were attached to me — because the Kings and KHTK were partners — and really be an independent voice. It allowed me to rally with the city itself.
What leaving also showed me again, when I returned it was because the people here supported what I did. They supported me and they let their voices be heard. We banded together and it created this bond between myself and this base of listeners and fans where I’m forever indebted to them. I am merely one of them who happens to have a platform and a microphone. When I go to ball games I don’t dress in a suit and tie, dude. I wear a Kings jersey. I’m not a journalist. I’m a fan with a microphone. I’m here to represent the fans. I’m not here for any political bullshit. It’s always, always, always listeners first, Kings fans first.
When I came back it gave me humility. It gave me, not paranoia, but it gave me an understanding that this is a fleeting business. The moment that you sell out, the moment that you stop respecting the people that listen to your station, the moment that you take for granted the fact that you have an audience — with Spotify and Apple Music and streaming services and everything else — for someone to tune in to terrestrial radio and listen to you whether live or on-demand, that is such an insane compliment and an amazing responsibility.
BN: However many more years you have left in radio, what do you want it to look like?
CD: I think the first thing I’d say is that I don’t think I’m much longer for this business. I’ve done what I want to do. Radio is changing. I don’t want this to sound like an old guy fighting the new wave, but what works now are quick-hitter, minute-half sound bits and little video bits. What works now is having two guys at a microphone screaming at each other and throwing out these outlandish takes that they don’t believe. Then you put the video clip of them on Twitter yelling at each other. Then everybody on Twitter yells at each other. Meanwhile you throw in a 30-second commercial for Purina dog food and that’s how you make your money. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be a part of argue radio.
I expect I’ll have another two, three, four years in the business at most doing what I do. I’d like to be able to broadcast on my last day. I don’t want to do one of those things where I was fired on a Thursday, there was no show on Friday, and then my replacement is there on a Monday. I’d actually like to go on the air and be trusted enough by my radio station to thank the station and thank the listeners and actually say goodbye. Then I want to go do some real stuff.
BN: Do you have something specific in mind that you want to do whenever you hang up your headphones?
CD: Yeah, I’m going to be the mayor of Sacramento when I get out. I’ve spent years watching and studying people on all levels. When the whole fight for the Kings thing happened I got to know a lot of people here locally, politically. Whether it’s our current mayor Darrell Steinberg, I was very close to Kevin Johnson before him, a lot of our city council members — I see what they do.
What I want to do is take the love and energy I have for Sacramento and the insane growth pattern it has shown since that turning point in 2013 where we have a new arena, Major League Soccer, businesses are coming out here, the Bay Area silicon sector is beginning to expand out here, things are happening in my city that we couldn’t have even dreamt about 20 years ago.
I want to be a part of taking that into the next generation. To spend my life selling the city, getting new business to come here, making it affordable for our current residents, and being able to literally go out there and speak to people each and every day that have problems in this city. Instead of it being a problem with our starting lineup, it’s a problem with the bus system or a library or their school — and really be able to make a solid impact.
I know it sounds silly, but someone’s going to pull this article in some weird Google search in 10 years and you’re going to see me saying I’ll be the mayor of Sacramento at some point in my life. Not out of a sense of ego, but simply out of a sense of duty and out of a sense of wanting to give every part of my being back to the city that gave me so much.
Julian Edelman Has Been FOX’s NFL Breakout Star
Edelman has an easy-going and free-wheeling nature about him. He’s a joy to watch, and he seldom wastes airtime with cliches and empty comments.
He was a key member of the NFL’s last true dynasty, a children’s book author, a regular talking head on NFL Network’s America’s Game anthology, an actor in the film 80 for Brady, and a multimedia favorite. And oh yeah, he is third all-time in the NFL for postseason receptions and was the MVP of Super Bowl LIII. He is Julian Edelman.
These days he answers to a new calling – a rising star on FOX’s excellent NFL commentator roster. Edelman, who retired in 2020 after 12 seasons as a wide receiver with the New England Patriots, has logged impressive recent stints on FS1’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd.
Edelman has been an unexpected jewel in FOX’s football crown, providing behind-the-scenes, players-only insight in a casual and humorous style. On a recent edition of The Herd, Edelman’s talent was on full display.
In a discussion about Patriots’ signal caller Mac Jones, Cowherd implied that it would have been easier for the Alabama QB if he had gone to a less intense environment with an offensive-minded head coach.
Edelman countered by referencing Josh Dobbs, who played great in his first start for the Vikings after being with the team for just a couple of days. Edelman stated, “If you’re a guy, you’re a guy,” meaning that good players adapt to any situation. He added, “This is the National Football League. If you don’t win, the quarterback and the head coach get the blame. This is a production business.”
One of the refreshing aspects of Edelman’s TV game is his candor. He was deeply rooted in the Patriot Way and benefitted from all it offered him, but he pulls no punches in talking about his former team.
He does not buy into the excuse that Mac Jones has had three different offensive coordinators in his three NFL seasons. Edelman stated that ex-Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels’ and current OC Bill O’Brien’s offensive schemes are essentially identical.
Edelman has an easy-going and free-wheeling nature about him. He’s a joy to watch, and he seldom wastes airtime with cliches and empty comments. He uses his strong connections to Tom Brady and other members of the NFL’s glitterati to his advantage, but he is not violating these friendships with kiss-and-tell BS.
In his young broadcasting career, Edelman has also embraced a rare quality among media personalities, namely, the courage to admit when he is wrong. He recently stated that he thought Texans’ quarterback CJ Stroud was going to be just another failed Ohio State quarterback joining the likes of Cardale Jones, Terrell Pryor, Troy Smith, and the late Dwayne Haskins.
Julian Edelman acknowledged his error and lauded Stroud for his performance and the Houston offensive staff for keeping it simple and allowing Stroud to flourish. He then made an accurate comparison between Stroud and Dak Prescott who had a similarly amazing rookie season in 2016. He also revealed that he and Tom Brady would sit and watch Prescott play during that season and marveled at his performance.
Such neat revelations have become commonplace for Edelman who also told Cowherd that Bill Belichick had different rules for different players. This goes against the accepted theory that Belichick coached all his players the same.
When asked about good and bad locker rooms, Edelman revealed that the 2009 Patriots had some “a-holes” on the team, “guys who had a lot of money and acted like they had a lot of money.”
He also regaled Cowherd with a funny story about former teammate and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi. During his rookie season, Edelman made repeated contact with Bruschi during a team drill. After the play, Bruschi got in Edelman’s face and said, “If you ever touch me again, I’ll cut your arm off, Rook!”
In a subsequent discussion, Edelman was asked about how NFL players view Thursday night games. He said that the goal for players is to just get through the game and try to get the win. He called having a Thursday night game a “baby bye week” because of the extra prep time gained for the next week. Baby bye week – new lingo from a new age analyst.
Speaking of language, Julian Edelman may have created another new football term. He called the NFL games after Thanksgiving “cream season,” when the cream rises to the top and when football season truly starts. Edelman told Cowherd that this is when coaches raise the intensity in the building.
A week later, Edelman was a panelist on FOX’s NFL Kickoff. It was clear that the show’s producers and host Charissa Thompson were tuned into Edelman’s Herd appearance as they made his cream season line a theme of discussion.
Edelman picked the Ravens and Niners as his current cream teams and entertained Thompson and his fellow panelists with a few dairy-related puns. He was funny, saying that both these teams could end up becoming butter teams – even better than cream.
Edelman is unafraid to ruffle feathers, even if those feathers reside in Foxboro, MA. In discussing last week’s Patriots-Giants game, he boldly tweeted and stated on NFL Kickoff that the Patriots would be better off losing that game in order to get a better 2024 draft position.
If Julian Edelman has any flaws, it is that at times his analysis RPMs run into the red. In his discussion of last week’s crucial Jaguars-Texans game, he was visibly pumped up and spoke far too quickly even stumbling on some commentary. He recovered well and simply needs to slow down, trust his knowledge, and calculate his pace.
Edelman has made such an immediate impact that NFL Kickoff has even given him his own segment. It is called “The Nest” and his based on his children’s book Flying High, the story of Jules, a football-playing squirrel who is small in stature but big on heart and enthusiasm. Sound familiar?
Julian Edelman was joined in the nest by panelists Charles Woodson and Peter Schrager and provided a pretty cool analysis of current NFL wide receivers. He based his opinions on four attributes: sociability, aggressiveness, activity level, and boldness. Along the way, Edelman provide some unique commentary on the likes of Davante Adams, Travis Kelce, A.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs.
There is a rhythm to Edelman’s conversation. He is comfortable with his career, comfortable with himself, and comfortable on air. As a player, Julian Edelman was an unexpected star, a guy who parlayed personality, hard work, and hustle into a fantastic career. He is doing the same in media dishing out knowledge his way – brash, all-out, and with total abandon.
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.
Mike Breen is Ready For Whatever The NBA Season Brings
“I’ve had an amazing set of teammates my entire life.”
Every time a new basketball season is on the precipice, there is a certain kind of enigma that permeates the landscape. Although he has been on basketball broadcasts for nearly three decades, Mike Breen still feels added nerves before donning the headset to call the NBA Finals. Last season, ESPN’s lead play-by-play voice called the 100th NBA Finals game of his broadcast career. In doing so, Breen became just the third basketball announcer on radio or television to attain such a feat.
When he first joined the broadcasts on ABC in 2006, Breen was stepping into the play-by-play role previously held by Al Michaels, working alongside color commentator Hubie Brown. He never could have imagined that the conclusion of the 2023-24 season would mark his 19th time calling the best-of-seven championship series and attributes his success to the people around him.
“There’s not a stage anywhere in the world big enough to hold that many people because that’s how many people have really been there for me and supported me and guided me and at times chastised me because you need people to always tell you the truth,” Breen said. “I’ve had an amazing set of teammates my entire life.”
For the last 18 NBA Finals broadcasts, Breen has worked alongside color commentator Jeff Van Gundy, a former head coach of the New York Knicks. Mark Jackson served as a color commentator as well for 15 of these series, taking a three-year detour to work as head coach of the Golden State Warriors. The broadcast trio was widely regarded as one of the best in basketball and frequently lauded for the strong chemistry they possessed on the air. Over the offseason though, Van Gundy and Jackson were laid off by ESPN as a part of cost-cutting measures by The Walt Disney Company. The decision disappointed Breen because of the bond he and his colleagues fostered and shared.
“We spent so much time together and we felt we had something special, and we were hoping that it was going to last longer, but nothing in this business lasts forever and that’s part of the business, and you have to figure that out and you move on,” Breen said. “Now the way I look at it is I’m just so grateful and honored that I had all that time sitting next to those two for so many big games over the years, but it’s hard when it ends.”
Breen is currently working with Doris Burke and Doc Rivers on ESPN’s lead NBA broadcast team. Broadcasting the NBA Finals, let alone sporting events as a whole, was never in his mind though; that is, until he was told by family friend and former New York Tech radio staffer Tony Minecola to consider going into the industry as a sportscaster.
Recognizing that he would not succeed as a professional athlete because of a lack of skill or as a doctor because of a lack of passion, Breen chose to major in broadcast journalism at Fordham University, immediately joining the campus radio station. Over his four years matriculating at the institution, he prioritized versatility and contributed to sports, news, talk and music programming.
“When you leave college and you have tape résumés and experience of being on the air on a live 50,000-watt station, it really gives you a great perspective of what it’s like to be in the business,” Breen said. “It’s kind of a great way to figure out, ‘Okay, is this something you like? Is this something you have a chance to be good at?’”
Ed Ingles, the former sports director of WCBS 880, helped instantiate that mindset for Breen when he interned with him during his days in college. Aside from his delivery, Breen took notice of how he interacted with his colleagues and other people in the industry, always demonstrating professionalism and kindness. Ingles advised Breen to get out of his comfort zone, which proved to be invaluable when Breen started his first job out of school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. at WEOK-AM/WPDH-FM.
In his first year with the outlet, he would frequently attend school board meetings and county legislative sessions in order to collect 45 seconds of sound for the morning anchor to use on their program. Whereas at a sporting event, the game is oftentimes the primary story, Breen had to review the agenda and listen to the meeting to have an understanding of what is essential to the story.
“If you can cover a school board meeting that you know nothing about and do a good job on it, then you can certainly cover an NBA basketball game and figure out the storylines and the narratives and all those types of things,” Breen said. “It really made me a better sportscaster. I wasn’t just a sportscaster; I was a broadcaster.”
Breen eventually began calling Dutchess County High School basketball games and serving as an analyst on Marist College basketball broadcasts, all while working as the morning news anchor for the radio outlet. In balancing various different roles at once, Breen found himself on the air for six days a week for an entire year. The strenuous workload allowed him to enhance his skillset and ingenuity and have the confidence that he could make a career in the profession.
Through a connection he had with a classmate at Fordham University, Breen landed a part-time producing job on Jack Spector’s sports talk program, SportsNight, on WNBC. The commitment was initially for one day per week, but as Breen’s workload at the outlet increased, he was able to leave Poughkeepsie and focus on working in New York City. There was a dearth of sports talk programming at the time; that is until the summer of 1987 when WFAN launched on 1050 AM and introduced a new format to the medium.
“We were all sitting around the radio at WNBC thinking, ‘Okay, here comes our competition on the air,’” Breen remembered. “We were laughing, saying, ‘Oh, this is never going to make it. There’s no way this is going to make it,’ and it turns out that it was just the start of something that would completely change the radio industry.”
Ironically enough, WFAN moved to WNBC’s 660 AM frequency when General Electric sold several of its stations to Emmis Communications as part of a multi-station deal. Even though the station had transitioned to a new format, Don Imus kept his morning show on the airwaves, which Breen had been a part of starting a year earlier. His segments were filled with sound effects and jokes, giving him exposure within the marketplace and allowing him to penetrate beyond his comfort zone of traditional sports broadcasting and reporting.
“It wasn’t just your normal sports update,” Breen said. “It was something where you had to use your personality; you had to use your sense of humor [and] you had to use your writing skills, and it showed a little versatility and that was important.”
MSG Networks hired Breen in 1992 as the New York Knicks radio play-by-play announcer, and he assimilated into the role while keeping his spot on Imus in the Morning. In addition to adjusting to the pace of the NBA, he also refined his approach to calling games on the radio as opposed to television. Throughout this process, Breen thought about Marist play-by-play announcer Dean Darling and how he had called the games when they worked together.
“There are very few people – and there certainly are exceptions – but there are very few people who are instantly really good on the air,” Breen said. “It takes a while to hone your skills to figure out how you want to broadcast things if you have a certain style, and that’s the No. 1 thing is to get repetitions.”
When Marv Albert pleaded guilty to assault and battery in 1997, Breen was suddenly promoted to fill the role as the television play-by-play announcer for the team. Having listened to Albert call games for many years growing up, Breen knew the importance of appealing to the local audience in the New York metropolitan area. Many of the local play-by-play announcers in the locale grew up around the city, and he affirms that the knowledge and passion is discernible to consumers. Breen met New York Yankees television play-by-play announcer and ESPN New York radio host Michael Kay, who was a fellow student at Fordham University at the time, and discussed sports and broadcasting with him.
“He would tell me, ‘Oh, I’d love to be the Yankees announcer,’ and I’d say, ‘I’d love to be the Knicks announcer,’ and we would laugh at each other [like] two fools,” Breen said. “But I think because we were both New Yorkers and we both understood the New York fan because we were and still are New York fans, I think perhaps it gave us an edge because we knew what it’s like to live in New York and root for the teams in New York, and I think, or at least I hope, the fans can feel that.”
Albert returned to the Knicks telecast in 2000, prompting Breen to move back to radio broadcasts and work with John Andariese. At the same time, he began doing work for NBC Sports, including calling NBA games with Bill Walton and announcing ski jumping at the Olympic Games. When Albert was removed from the television broadcasts for being too critical of the team, Breen returned to the position and has held the role ever since.
“I tend to be old-school in that my job is to accurately describe what’s going on and also set up my partners and give them space and the lead-ins to make them excel,” Breen said. “The personality stuff, I think that comes – I hate to use the cliché – but it comes organically in terms of you’re doing the game. If something calls for you to react that involves more personality than actually broadcasting, then you do it and you have to find that balance.”
Every time Breen takes the air, he hopes that the consumers are able to see that he is prepared, enamored with the sport and enjoys working alongside his colleagues. From his days on the Knicks’ radio broadcasts, Breen has been paired with Walt “Clyde” Frazier for 25 seasons and understands how venerated the two-time NBA champion is within the city.
As the only member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and a broadcaster, Frazier strikes a chord with basketball fans and brings his credibility and proficiency to the airwaves every season. In addition, he always arrives in his signature flamboyant outfits and intersperses astute rhymes to the cadence on the hardwood.
“He’s managed to stay true to who he is, yet develop this unique on-air style that very few people have had, but the bottom line is yeah, there’s style, but there’s so much substance to what he says,” Breen explained,” and I think Knick fans love him because he tells it like it is, but at the same time, you can feel his love for the franchise.”
Since joining the NBA on ESPN broadcast team in 2003, Breen has balanced his local responsibilities with calling games at the national level. Throughout the season, he logs a considerable number of traveling miles and always puts his family first when he is not working. In fact, the reason he stopped calling other sports was not only to recharge over the summer, but also to spend time with his children.
By being absorbed in the NBA during the year, the preparation for the different types of broadcasts often overlaps. One thing he cannot prepare for, however, is the occurrence of a buzzer-beater or game-saving block.
“For me, I’ve always felt at a big moment, less is more for a broadcaster because your voice is not made [for] those high-intensity calls to go for 20 seconds,” Breen said. “Your voice can crack; who knows what else could happen, but when you make a good, strong concise call at a big moment and then let the crowd take over, I think that’s always been, for me, the best way to go.”
Although he derived his signature three-point call of “Bang!” while sitting in the stands at Fordham Rams games as a student, he did not think it worked on the air. But by the time he was calling a weekly high school basketball game for SportsChannel America, he noticed that the maelstrom of amplified sound within the gyms drowned out his voice during consequential moments. As a result, he resorted back to the monosyllabic exclamation and has stuck with it ever since.
“I’ve just been very careful about not overusing it,” Breen said. “I try to save it for big moments because if I was yelling, ‘Bang!,’ on every three-pointer, it would lose its luster, I believe.”
Breen will call NBA games from a new venue next week in Las Vegas, Nevada – T-Mobile Arena – when the league’s inaugural In-Season Tournament reaches its conclusion and a champion is crowned. The Association introduced the single-elimination endeavor this year in an effort to further incentivize regular-season play and establish a new tradition.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that these In-Season Tournament games bring out a little extra in the players [and] in the fans, and we’re not even at the knockout round yet and this is only the first year,” Breen said. “….To have this kind of excitement in November and then early December, it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Despite the NBA still being in its first half of the season, Breen feels encouraged by the broadcasts he has participated in thus far with Doris Burke and Doc Rivers. After all, he had worked with Burke on the first NBA game she ever broadcast and could tell how talented she was. Moreover, he has been friends with Rivers for over 30 years and speculated that he would be a broadcaster when he was finished playing and coaching.
The network’s lead broadcasting team will embark on a new challenge ahead of their first NBA Playoffs working together next Saturday, Dec. 9 when they broadcast the championship game of the NBA In-Season Tournament on ABC at 8:30 p.m. EST/5:30 p.m. PST.
“It takes a while to get the on-air chemistry, and the three-person booth is not easy for the analyst because they have to figure out a way to still get all their points across with less time, and same thing for me and that’s part of it,” Breen said. “Everybody has to just find their niche, and so far they’ve been great. They’re not only great friends; they’re really talented broadcasters, and I’m really excited about the potential.”
Breen recently signed a four-year contract extension with ESPN that will keep him on the airwaves past the expiration of the network’s current media rights deal with the National Basketball Association. The rationale behind staying with the network had to do with the people at the company, avouching that it is a great place to work and how he is thrilled he will be allowed to stay longer.
“Clearly I’m hoping that they work out a deal and I’m fairly confident they will,” Breen said. “ESPN loves the NBA; the relationship between the league and ESPN has always been wonderful. So I’m rooting hard for them to say ‘Yes’ and sign on the dotted line.”
In 2021, Breen was honored as the recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Electronic Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his excellence as a broadcaster, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a basketball announcer. Even with various accolades to his name though, Breen’s mission each year is to get better with every broadcast. Complacency and apathy are out of bounds as he lives out a lifelong dream and strives for an outstanding performance no matter the situation.
“You have days where you’re not feeling well; you’ve had a tough travel day; you’ve got issues going on in your life, but then you sit down at half court and they throw the ball up the opening tip,” Breen illustrated. “There’s an adrenaline there that has never gone away.”
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 Radio Sellers Can Beat the ‘What’s In It For Me’ Question
We often get caught up in showcasing the bells and whistles of our stations—the audience reach, the sophisticated technology, and the awards we’ve earned — that we don’t answer essential questions.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of talking about technical features and company achievements with radio advertising prospects without considering the essential question: “What’s in it for me?” (WIFM) from the client’s perspective.
We often get caught up in showcasing the bells and whistles of our stations—the audience reach, the sophisticated technology, and the awards we’ve earned.
However, the heartbeat of successful sales isn’t just about these features, it’s about translating them into tangible benefits that directly address the needs and challenges of our potential clients. Here are some common pitfalls in our sales approaches and strategies to get prospects to listen to “WIFM”.
Focusing Solely on Product Features
We all sometimes get caught up in detailing our radio stations’ technical specs and features without translating those features into tangible benefits for the prospect. We love to point out that our all-sports station is on AM and simulcast on digital FM.
We need to connect them directly to the prospect’s needs or problems, which might result in a disconnect.
Instead, we could say that we reach two audiences for the price of one. 45-65-year-olds are on AM, and 25-44-year-olds are on FM. More bang for your buck!
Talking About Company Achievements
While our station won the “Best radio station in XYZ town” award from the local media, which might be impressive, prospects are often more concerned about how these accolades directly benefit them.
We need to bridge the gap between our survey win and how our listeners are proud of listening to the station and will trust the recommendations we give our listeners when it comes to buying from our prospect.
Not tailoring the pitch to suit the prospect’s specific needs or pain points is a huge miss. When we use generic, one-size-fits-all approaches, we miss the opportunity to highlight how their product or service addresses the prospect’s unique challenges or goals.
Don’t tell a car dealer he needs to sell more new cars when he wants more used sales and service business.
Failure to Listen Actively
Sometimes, we focus too much on delivering our deck without actively listening to the prospect’s concerns or desires.
Pay attention to the prospect’s feedback or cues, and maybe even ask them if anything has changed before you start the presentation.
Forget About “Across the Street”
Constantly highlighting how your station is superior to competitors without explaining how it benefits the prospect is counterproductive.
For example, if your station does a limited number of endorsements, tell the prospect they will stand out amongst the other advertisers better cause they are part of a select few live endorsements.
Prospects want to know why your idea is right for them, not just that it’s better than your competition.
What’s the ROI?
A sales pitch that doesn’t explicitly outline the return on investment (ROI) or demonstrate the value the prospect stands to gain falls short.
Running spots can outrun ‘turtle-like’ positive word of mouth or Google reviews, like the Roadrunner. Tell them that.
Too Much TSL or CPM talk
Using industry jargon without explaining its relevance to the prospect’s situation can create confusion or disinterest. Don’t pitch TSL. Tell them they can run fewer spots that have more impact. Your efficient CPM demonstrates that radio can compete with any ad medium and won’t waste money.
Communicate in a language that resonates with the prospect, making the benefits clear and understandable.
No Hit and Run
Our engagement doesn’t end with the initial pitch. Don’t forget to follow up and give them ongoing support and assistance to address any concerns or questions post-sale. By showing them you are in it for them, they will feel valued.
In the sports radio ad sales game, it’s not just about announcing your stats and shoutouts; it’s about hitting a home run with benefits that score with our clients. If our pitch doesn’t answer “What’s in it for me?” (WIFM), we might end up with the L.
So, dive into our clients’ playbook, check their needs, and deliver a play that makes them cheer for you and your station. Tackle the “WIFM” challenge head-on, and don’t worry about targeting so much.
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.