The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “With Stugotz” is always written in a smaller, less noticeable font, like it’s there to give credit, but not attract an audience.
If you listen to The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz for just 15 minutes, you quickly realize Jon Weiner (Stugotz) is not just a sidekick, he’s vital to their success. And if you listen to the show for only 15 minutes, you’re also likely to realize you don’t get the show.
No show is better at creating a community, no show is better at making their listeners feel like they’re part of something special, and no show is better at creating organized chaos. In the last 15 years, they’ve been one of the most successful shows on radio, and Stugotz knows he’s just as important as his co-host of bigger font.
BC: How’d you get your start in radio?
STU: It’s something I always knew I wanted. Growing up with WFAN, Mike and the Mad Dog, I remember driving with my dad and hearing two guys talking sports who sounded like me and you. I asked my dad if they were getting paid for this. And when he told me ‘yes, a lot,’ I said that’s what I want to do.
It was more difficult to break into market one than it is Fort Lauderdale. I moved down here without a plan and stumbled on it, which basically summarizes my entire life. I was working for the Dolphins and Marlins in their sales office. I became good friends with Boog Sciambi who was the Marlins radio voice at the time, and when he started doing middays on WQAM, he helped me get an internship.
BC: And how did you end up helping launch 790 The Ticket without much experience managing a station?
STU: WQAM had no job for me after my internship, so I went back to New York and started working for the Knicks and Rangers making pretty good money. After a year, I got a call about producing for Hank Goldberg on WQAM. It was afternoon drive, major market, that was my foot in the door. I quit my job in New York getting paid six figures to take the job offering me about $4 an hour. But it was executive producer of a big show, if you want to be in this business that’s the type of risk you need to take.
While I was working on Hank’s show, sports radio really started to take off and most major markets were sprouting a second station. I saw an opening in Miami for something younger and hipper, so I put a group together and we leased 790. Paid a hefty price for programming rights and marketing, but we turned it into 790 The Ticket and I’m proud to say it’s still going.
BC: How’d you get Dan to be part of the new station?
STU: Toward the end of Hank’s show, it became a daily ripping of Le Batard and I didn’t even really know who Dan was! I read him in the Herald, but we never met. I figured if he could agitate Hank this much in print, he would be pretty damn good on-air.
We knew Boog Sciambi mutually, so he helped connect us and I told Dan I was starting a new sports radio station, but I’m not doing it unless you’re in afternoon drive. Dan loves being part of an underdog and he was certainly eager to take on Hank and WQAM, a station that hadn’t been very nice to him.
BC: Was the plan for you to be Dan’s co-host from the beginning?
STU: I was going to do the midday show and about a week before we launched, Dan said he didn’t want to do afternoons by himself. He originally wanted Boog as his co-host, but he was doing Marlins games and couldn’t leave QAM. But Boog told Dan I’d be a perfect co-host for him. I ditched the dream of doing my own show and it was the best call I ever made.
BC: Was there instant chemistry when you guys launched?
STU: It was awful. It started off with me interviewing Dan for three hours a day, we had no chemistry. We realized quickly Dan needed to drive the show because I was just guessing what he wanted to talk about.
BC: [Laughs] Were you treating him like he was a guest columnist?
STU: Dan will tell you stories of sleepless nights, riding around his neighborhood on a bicycle trying to figure out how to do the show. We had two different philosophies, I wanted to be Mike and the Mad Dog, Dan wanted to be everything but that. Eventually, we decided rather than me guessing what Dan wants to talk about, he’ll drive the show. That subtle change was huge. The other element that helped came a few months in, when Dan wanted to hire Marc Hochman. He had radio experience, a great sense of humor and was Dan’s best friend.
“I definitely knew the show could have a massive, wide appeal,” said Hochman, who’s in the midst of his own successful tenure hosting afternoons alongside Channing Crowder on WQAM and The Ticket. “We went in for three or four hours every day and just had a great time – and that translated to listeners having a great time. The majority of talk shows when we started, sports specifically, were super serious, even sour. There was no sports show that just felt like a party you wanted to be at. When we were having so many laughs every show, that’s when I knew the show could be a huge hit nationally.”
BC: The goal of any show is to build a community with your listeners. If you ask people which shows do it best, you start with Stern, Dan Patrick gets mentioned for sports radio and then you guys are in that category equally. At what point did you realize you had that level of show?
STU: Making everyone feel invested and part of the show, building that community was super important to Dan and ultimately became important to me. We wanted the audience to participate and contribute to the content of the show.
About three years in is when I knew we were building this community right. I got the ratings book and looked down toward the mid-teens, which is where we usually ranked for men 25-54. I didn’t see us there. Rather than look up, I scrolled down into the 20’s and still didn’t see us anywhere and thought, ‘shit we didn’t rate, our show sucks.’ I start scrolling back up and finally found us at a strange place – number one. I fell out of my chair.
It was validation, it felt really good to get that number one, and from there, we always stayed in the top-three.
“There isn’t a sports radio show in the country that has more of a loyal following than the Le Batard Show,” said The Ticket’s former morning host Jorge Sedano, who now hosts afternoons for ESPN Los Angeles. “I’ve been to their events and they are unmatched in the industry. Heck, their fans are so into the show – they’ve spawned off their own podcasts that get traction within the community of the Le Batard universe. Many of the people associated with the show, myself included, have made appearances on these off shoot podcasts. It’s truly a unique connection between the audience and that show. Nothing like it.”
BC: How important is The Shipping Container and the ability to integrate different people, different personalities to the show, was that something you both wanted from the start?
STU: Invaluable. We always wanted as many voices as we could bring to the show, especially to lend to the funniness, wackiness and craziness. But even more importantly, to provide perspective and expertise.
The executive producer was always a major part of our show. But as we grow older, we realize it’s super important for the show to stay younger. The demo we go for is 25-54 and the closer you get to that 54, the more you realize you need to be closer to 25. Dan’s 51, I’m 47, we started incorporating Billy, Chris, Mike, The Shipping Container and other young voices because we love our crew, they help keep us young and keep the audience young.
BC: What about the ‘you don’t get the show’ approach and the ability to make the show something that is inclusive in terms of anyone is welcome to listen, but the content is exclusive to the people that do listen?
STU: It’s the most important thing we do, and it goes back to that community. One of the ways you create a community is by making them feel like they understand something that no one else does. We make the ‘you don’t get the show’ club seem like it’s really small, but it’s massive.
It can be frustrating because the traditional sports radio listener might only tune in for 15 minutes and they’re probably wondering ‘what the hell is this?!’ But (executive producer) Mike Ryan reminds us about the younger generation and the way they consume content because that’s who we’re going after. My kids listen to podcasts, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, not FM radio.
Even some people at ESPN don’t get what we do! They just took the SportsCenter updates away from me because they said it wasn’t professional enough. But that’s what we were going for! I’ve done everything in sports radio, I promise I can do traditional SportsCenter updates – we were trying to make those funny and the audience loved it. But some of the people at ESPN didn’t realize we were doing it on purpose and that’s frustrating.
BC: Knowing the future of radio is digital and where a lot of your audience already is, did it bother you when ESPN took away a terrestrial hour?
STU: Dan looked at it as a demotion. I’m not going to say it felt good. I was upset and our audience was upset, but what happens is the more you push us down, the more emboldened our audience becomes. I know the future is digital. I’m in my car right now, all my apps are on my dashboard, what I don’t see is a radio.
I always wonder how Dan and I would do if we were digital only. The big three in terms of sports and rec podcasts are us, Simmons and Pardon My Take. We’re competing simply by repurposing our radio show into a podcast. How big would our show be if we weren’t already broadcasting it nationally on the radio? So now we’re doing one or two hours a day where it’s digital only and I’m excited to explore that space and see how big it can be.
BC: Do you want the terrestrial and digital hours to sound like different shows? Or do you want the terrestrial listeners to feel like they didn’t get a complete show if they don’t hear the podcast?
STU: Right now, because of Dan’s TV schedule, we’re taping the third hour later in the day. But ultimately, we want the third hour to be an extension of the two-hour radio show. So if you’re listening live, you feel like you have to be part of that third hour.
BC: Do you like the freedom offered with digital? Maybe the Le Batard Show brand is able to distance itself from Mickey Mouse a bit in those hours?
STU: 100 percent. For starters, there are no commercials to interrupt us, we appreciate the sponsors, but they’re placed, not forced in. The time is flexible, we can just keep going. It’s not a big deal, but we can curse. The digital space is more liberating and it definitely gives us more freedom. And Dan likes freedom. [Laughs]
BC: Does ESPN give you guys the freedom to address every issue you want?
STU: ESPN has been great. I know our listeners are upset about us losing an hour because it feels like a shot at us. But ESPN has a digital monster on their hands with our show and that’s the future.
They haven’t just been good bosses, they’ve been great. When Dan and I joined ESPN, we were worried about the concept and them controlling us. They promised us that they wouldn’t and they really haven’t interfered since we joined. If they haven’t interfered on terrestrial, they certainly won’t on digital.
BC: Do you think the pandemic advanced the decision to give you guys a bigger digital platform? I think about my own listening habits, and they’ve changed in recent months. I was always in the camp of wanting a traditional five-hour local radio show, but now I listen to a lot more podcasts and a lot less terrestrial radio.
STU: A lot of industries have learned a lot from these past few months, so it’s possible, but we were likely headed toward this move anyway because our podcast numbers were so strong.
In the last few months, people ask ‘how do you do a show without sports?’ We were waiting for this moment our entire lives [Laughs]. The harder part was getting used to doing the show from different locations. I know our show seems like an unscripted mess, but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, a lot of producing on the fly, a lot of eye contact.
Nobody does more research on this than ESPN and I think they’ve stumbled on the idea that a two-hour show has a better chance of getting terrestrial ratings than four hours. Combine it all – the pandemic, shorter shows, the future being digital, it all contributes to what we’re doing.
BC: What’s your show prep? Most shows build a show sheet with segment topics, some bullet points and use that. But how do you create what sounds like organized chaos?
STU: Organized chaos, I like that. A lot of our content is produced, a lot of it also comes from conversations that spill out of commercial breaks.
I’m not sure anyone consumes more ESPN than I do. I love games, I love sports, so Dan can always rely on me to bring that. And when serious topics get put on our desk, there is no one better than Dan at discussing social issues, racial inequality, the president. It gives us credibility to play around with everything else.
We equate Dan to a dad at home trying to get serious work done and we’re the kids trying to prevent that. That’s where I think the organized chaos you mentioned comes from, me just reacting to Dan.
“Stugotz is the on-air glue that holds everything together on the show,” said ESPN Radio program director Liam Chapman. “He can play whatever role he needs to at any moment, he’s obviously more than willing to be the butt of the joke, and he’s shown his ability to give strong opinions, book guests and be much more. It’s a testament to the longevity of the show that Stugotz is willing to play all these roles and keep the chemistry flowing between Dan and the rest of the Shipping Container.”
BC: It’s unrealistic to expect someone can talk on the radio three hours a day for 15 years and not say something that comes out wrong, but has your approach to radio changed as society becomes more politically correct? The interview with Martina Navratilova in 2010, I don’t know if that goes over as well in 2020.
(In 2010, Stugotz referred to Navratilova as a “bitch” after she ended an interview with Le Batard on 790 The Ticket)
STU: Well that interview didn’t go over well then either and I certainly didn’t feel good about it when it happened. I was a father of twin daughters ten years ago, I’m still a father of twin daughters ten years later, I wasn’t proud of that interview then and I wouldn’t be proud of it now. What we’re talking about is have ramifications changed, because sometimes an apology isn’t enough.
I think any host in America would say the same thing, you constantly need to reprogram because if you want to just remain a caveman your entire life, shame on you. And it’s not just society changing, with age comes perspective. I know my character, I know my role on the show, but I do try to be more mature, more thoughtful of peoples’ feelings than I used to be.
BC: Can it be difficult to navigate the line between terrestrial and digital? There are things that can get you in trouble if you’re a play-by-play announcer, but a talk radio host might be able to make the same comment. Similarly, there are things you can’t say on talk radio that you can say on a podcast. There are different levels of what’s accepted, based on your platform.
STU: What you’re saying is fair, there is more leeway in a podcast right now, but that’s not going to last long. For us, we won’t approach it differently from a topic standpoint, it really just allows us to have more time. Dan and I are very aware of how and what we talk about. We don’t set out to upset anyone because we’re always going for funny, but when you miss on funny it comes off as mean. It’s a fine line regardless of where you do the show.
BC: 20-year radio partnerships are really rare and you’re getting closer to that number with Dan. I’m sure you have an ego, you’re competitive, you don’t get to this level if you’re not. Have you had the desire to do something solo?
STU: This isn’t anything Dan doesn’t know, but I think about it all the time. Constantly. But I also know anything I do away from this will never be as good as this at its best. I’m fully aware how important Dan is to me, and Dan’s fully aware of how important I am to him. When you have chemistry in this business, latch on because it’s hard to come by. But to say I never think about what it would have been like 20 years ago to do my own show is crazy.
I don’t know if I’ll ever scratch that itch, but the beauty of digital is, I have my own podcast and there’s no one stopping me from flipping the mic on and doing five episodes a week.
“Stugotz is the secret sauce,” Sedano added. “Dan is brilliant. However, every great radio host needs a foil and Stugotz plays that role to perfection. Stu is also way more relatable. Hence, why he has his own personal fan club named, “The Stugotz Army.” Dan readily admits on-air that the show isn’t the same when any of the components are missing. Their personalities are a perfect combination of discerning versus perfunctory. Hands down, Stu is as important to the show as anyone or anything.”
BC: You might never be able to create something where the product is as good as the show you have right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something equally fulfilling. Chris Russo’s product is not as good as Mike and the Mad Dog, but having Mad Dog Radio might be more fulfilling.
STU: That’s a great point. There is some ego involved. With the Le Batard & Friends network, Mike Ryan told me STUpodity is the highest rated podcast. I got great satisfaction out of that.
Even that six-week hiatus Dan took last year, I knew what we were doing wasn’t as good as what me and Dan do, but we were getting to a place where it started to feel pretty good. And I think digitally, that was the biggest month we ever had, [Laughs] that selfishly felt great! I have enough confidence in myself and I’ve learned enough from Dan that I could create something pretty unique and special.
Even still, I don’t know how long it takes to get into the radio Hall of Fame, but f**k it if I’m not going to the Hall of Fame with Dan Le Batard. 17-18 years of being a pinata, I better be getting a Hall of Fame jacket.
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.
Twitter Blue Debacle Showcases Company’s Ongoing Concerns
“If you start giving away blue badges to everyone, then it has no value. It’s the equivalent of a currency. if you start printing more, it gets devalued. Same for verified badges.”
For years, a blue “verified” check mark on Twitter has long been considered a symbol of status. Anyone — entrepreneurs, journalists, business executives — could potentially end up in the same exclusive space as celebrities like Taylor Swift and Tom Brady.
Perhaps the one quality that the blue check mark represented that had been overlooked was its authenticity stamp. The badge has been used all across social media platforms to signal an account’s authenticity — a verification that recently has proven to be of significant importance to not only people, but brands as well.
Shortly after Elon Musk’s $44-billion takeover of Twitter, the billionaire swiftly made his mark which, among many things, included a democratization of the app’s verification system. With a $7.99 monthly subscription to Twitter Blue, which launched last year as the company’s first subscription service, users could now possess what had long evaded them: a blue check mark.
“Theoretically, this would have made it easier for some brands or influencers to get verified than it has been in the past,” Galen Clavio, director of undergraduate studies for the Media School at Indiana University Bloomington, wrote in an email about the possible benefits of Twitter Blue’s verification accessibility.
“From an algorithmic perspective, that would have made sense to pursue under the Twitter setup that everyone had come to know,” he added.
While perhaps not a surprise to Musk or Twitter executives, everyday people were paying for the newly revamped Twitter Blue to boast their social media clout. Whether Twitter leadership knew it or not, though, those same subscribers took the opportunity to verify themselves using the alias of actual people.
Very quickly, Twitter Blue created an abundance of impersonators masquerading as verified celebrities and companies. Misinformation was hard to identify, making it tougher to find information in an era already plagued by discrepancies between fact and fiction.
“If you start giving away blue badges to everyone, then it has no value,” Alessandro Bogliari, CEO of the Influencer Marketing Factory, an influencer marketing agency, wrote in an email. “It’s the equivalent of a currency. if you start printing more, it gets devalued. Same for verified badges.”
Shortly after the Twitter Blue re-launch, a tweet was sent from an account using the same logo and name of Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company. It read, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.” The tweet seemed legit — the branding seemed real, as did the company name. It also boasted a blue-check mark, so it had to be true.
As just one of many misrepresentations that succeeded it, the Eli Lilly tweet was a fake. Even when Twitter finally removed the tweet, more than six hours later, the fraudulent account had more than 1,500 retweets and 10,000 likes. The pharma company’s stock also plummeted $368 a share to $346 a share, reportedly erasing billions in market cap, according to several economic reports. Eli Lilly’s stock price currently sits at roughly $352 as of Nov. 16th.
“I can only imagine the damage a tweet like that made for the company, its employees, stakeholders, shareholders and anyone really related to their offering,” Bogliari said. “Some were able to tweet from their official accounts and restore it a bit. Others, I imagine, used PR and reputation firms to get to a solution fast. But it’s not that easy for all of them… for others it could be potentially a damage so big they won’t be able to survive, not just in terms of market cap/stock value, but also in terms of reputation and customers love.”
The verification mishap affected not only Eli Lilly’s reputability and profitability, but could also spell trouble for Twitter’s revenue stream.
“It’s making it really easy for advertisers to say: ‘You know what, I don’t need to be here anymore,’ and walk away,” Jenna Golden, who previously ran Twitter’s political and advocacy ad sales team, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “People are not just providing inaccurate information but damaging information, with the ability to look legitimate. That is just not a stable place for a brand to invest.”
Sports personalities were also hurt by the preponderance of fake users across Twitter. Basketball star LeBron James trended on the platform after a tweet from someone with the user handle, @KINGJamez, claimed that the 37-year-old was leaving the Los Angeles Lakers to join his former club, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Adam Schefter, a notable football analyst at ESPN, also trended after someone with the user handle, @AdamSchefterNOT, revealed that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels lost his job. While the user handle clearly indicates that it didn’t come from the actual Adam Schefter, the fact that it was quote tweeted could have led many people to assume it was really Schefter, since many were unlikely to take the time to click and confirm the tweet — and tweeter’s — validity.
These are just a few specific instances where, while a more open verification system could have helped Twitter users, the idea did not lead to a successful implementation.
“Being verified would have given those brands more credibility and be marked as the official brand — impersonation happens also for smaller brands and not just for Fortune 100 companies,” Bogliari said. “So the idea was theoretically good — I would say only for brands and certain individuals and not just for everyone… documents and proof (are still) required but the execution showed us all the flaws.”
Verification issues aside, Twitter faces an uncertain future under Musk’s leadership. As much as 50% of the company’s 7,500 employees predating Musk’s ownership have been laid off under his tenure. The billionaire also revealed that Twitter’s cost-cutting methods are a result of the company losing upwards of $4 million daily. He’s even announced potential bankruptcy if Twitter doesn’t correct its financial woes.
“I see the Twitter Blue controversy as one of several items that are likely to just make brands and creators look elsewhere in the social media landscape,” Clavio said. “Twitter offers minimal exposure for creators and brands to the public when compared to other networks, and a much higher risk of doing or saying something that can cause a crisis.”
As more people grow skeptical about Twitter, alternatives have started to emerge. More people are visiting platforms like Discord, Reddit, even Tumblr. Others are joining Mastodon, a free and open-source microblogging site that has drawn comparisons to Twitter for its timeline of short updates arranged chronologically rather than algorithmically.
As recently as Nov. 12th, Mastodon boasted approximately 6.63 million accounts, a 17% increase from the 5.65 million users it had on October 28th.
From internal struggles to increased competition, Musk inherited a Twitter that, for better or worse, might be on a continual spiral to irrelevancy.
“It’s clear that the Twitter platform is pretty fractured right now,” Clavio said. “At the end of it all, I think a lot of brands will just opt out of having a presence on Twitter, paid or otherwise. It’s just not big enough of a platform to justify the potential negative exposure.”
Eddie Moran is a sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He is a graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication, and has previously written for Front Office Sports, The Basketball Tournament, the USGA, and BU’s independent student newspaper, The Daily Free Press. He can be reached on Twitter @EddieMorannn.
Christian Arcand Returns To Where It All Started At WEEI
“Going to WEEI was a no-brainer for me. I started there. That’s my radio home.”
Since the turn of the century alone, Boston has hosted 12 ticker tape parades to celebrate championships. Christian Arcand has had the opportunity to experience that success firsthand, initially as a diehard Boston sports fan and then as a voice of the fan. Now as he begins his second stint at the WEEI — this time as a producer and weekend host — he aims to ensure a seamless transition for both the Merloni, Fauria, & Mego afternoon drive show and his career in sports media.
Returning to a station where his Boston radio career began, Arcand enters the same building where he started his last sports media job with 98.5 The Sports Hub. Once the station moved to Dorchester, Massachusetts, WEEI moved its studios to the location – and it is where its shows are broadcast from today. Arcand’s time at 98.5 The Sports Hub ended in being laid off last month; despite that though, going to work evokes feelings of nostalgia and déjà vu.
“Walking back in there for the first time was pretty wild,” Arcand said, who returned to WEEI earlier this week. “I was laid off from The Sports Hub and it was a big surprise to me and to, I think, everybody that [it] happened.”
After graduating from the University of Colorado, Arcand moved back east to work for WDIS AM 1170 in Norfolk, Massachusetts, which he says isn’t really an option for those entering the business today.
“These little stations are all gone,” Arcand expressed. “Those were pipelines to places like WEEI and WFAN and other places in the area. You’d work in Connecticut or you’d work in Rhode Island or whatever and these places all just disappeared.”
Just over a year later, Arcand made the move to ESPN New Hampshire, initially co-hosting Christian and King with Tom King, a sportswriter for the Nashua Telegraph covering the New England Patriots, Boston Bruins and other college and high school sports. The show was broadcast during the midday time slot from noon to 3 p.m. and sought to entertain the audience while informing them about the day’s action.
After nearly four years on the air, Arcand transitioned to work with Pete Sheppard, a former member of the heralded WEEI program The Big Show hosted by Glenn Ordway, on Arcand and Sheppard. Additionally, Arcand was named as the show’s executive producer, meaning that while the show was going on, he was often focused on many different tasks. Once Christian and King was brought back, he continued working in this dual role before the show ended in January 2017, six months before the format flipped from ESPN-branded sports to oldies.
“It was a lot – cutting up all the audio you want to play, then playing it during the show, then cutting the commercial [and] trying to answer the phone,” Arcand said. “It was this whole thing, but I really loved it; we had a lot of fun up there.”
While Arcand currently works at WEEI, it is his second stint with the station – and this time, he is working in a brand new role. He initially joined the station in 2013 as a sports anchor and co-host of the evening program Planet Mikey featuring Mike Adams. Shortly thereafter, he helped launch WEEI Late Night, airing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. where he became known in the Boston marketplace going on the air after the conclusion of Boston Red Sox live game broadcasts.
Unlike his time in New Hampshire though, he was solely hosting and not producing – requiring him to adjust to not having as much oversight regarding the inner workings of each program.
“I’m not a control freak, but I remember [thinking], ‘Wow, this is different. I’m not running the board anymore. I’m not playing my own stuff,’” Arcand said. “….That was kind of jarring at first [but] I ended up working with a lot of great producers and I still am today.”
Mike Thomas, who currently serves as the senior vice president and market manager for Audacy Boston, was integral in building 98.5 The Sports Hub from its launch in August 2009. He was responsible for signing Arcand away from WEEI to join the brand as co-host of The Adam Jones Show airing weeknights.
Working alongside show producer Jeremy Conley, he gained an in-depth understanding of what it entails to produce a sports talk radio show in a major market, helping broaden his knowledge of the craft and position him for his current job with WEEI.
“I really had a good opportunity to learn from some of, I think, the best [producers] in the business,” Arcand said. “….It’s cool being a fan of these guys and then getting to work with them and learn from them and all that other stuff…. It’s really a job that requires a lot, and the guys who are really good at it, I think, are just top-notch.”
Over the last several years, 98.5 The Sports Hub has earned massive wins across the Nielsen ratings, recently finishing number one in the summer book across all dayparts in the men 25-54 demographic. Days later though, the station’s parent company Beasley Media Group made budget cuts, resulting in Arcand and Toucher and Rich producer Mike Lockhart’s employment being terminated.
While Lockhart has since been re-hired after Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb lobbied for the decision to be reversed, Arcand was in the job market quickly mulling over his future in the industry. In fact, it was reported that Arcand was on the verge of signing a three-year contract that would have kept him at the station before the termination of his employment.
“I was so shocked that it had happened and it was sort of hard to deal with it,” Arcand expressed. “Then I was angry about it and then I sort of channeled that into, ‘Okay, what am I going to do next here?’ You start thinking, ‘Is this it? Is this the end of the career? Are you going to even continue doing this?,’ and that was a thought I had a couple of times.”
Arcand’s abrupt departure from 98.5 The Sports Hub and Boston sports radio was short-lived though, as there was a substantial market for his services. In the end, he communicated with Thomas and WEEI operations manager Ken Laird, utilizing industry connections and his own versatility to return to the place where he began working professionally in Boston.
“Seeing that WEEI was in the market for someone on-air and to produce [the afternoon] show, I was right there and willing to try out something I hadn’t done in a while,” Arcand said. “It was a no-brainer, really. Going to WEEI was a no-brainer for me. I started there. That’s my radio home.”
As someone once again “new” to the station, Arcand is looking to foster a working chemistry with afternoon hosts Lou Merloni, Christian Fauria and Meghan Ottolini, along with radio producer Ryan Garvin. Arcand enters the role replacing show executive producer Tyler Devitte who left the station to pursue other opportunities and feels that the composition of the show is unique in the sports radio landscape. In short, it gives them an opportunity to further differentiate themselves from other afternoon programs across multiple platforms of dissemination.
“It’s an interesting show because Lou and Christian are both ex-jocks,” Arcand explained. “It’s rare that you sort of see shows where it’s just two guys like that and it was just them for a while but then with [Glenn] Ordway and then they brought in Meghan [Ottolini].”
Arcand had been listening to the afternoon drive program long before the offer to return to WEEI was made to him and now looks to offer his insight and expertise when necessary. He does not want to enter his new role with insolence or by coming off as dogmatic when expressing his opinions about the show.
“I’m sort of taking the approach of observing more than maybe I would in a couple of weeks from now or something,” he said. “I want to sort of make sure I get the rhythm of the show and the clock and everything like that. Those are all things that you have to be more aware of when you’re behind the glass as opposed to on the air.”
Arcand will be hosting a solo radio program on WEEI every Saturday afternoon, reminiscent of Sunday Service, a weekend show he used to host on 98.5 The Sports Hub. He is excited to be able to return to the Boston airwaves and connect with his audience once a week to bring them the latest sports news and entertaining talk – all while bringing his trademarks of sarcasm and congeniality.
“I’m really comfortable just sitting in the room, cracking the mic and talking with the callers or putting out my points and getting to certain things that I want to touch on,” Arcand said. “….I think my style is one that you just sort of tune in and you’re hanging out with me for a couple of hours.”
Ultimately, Christian Arcand has made the move back to what he refers to as his radio home. As he concludes his first week back at WEEI, he is focused on producing the afternoon drive program and complimenting that with his solo show on Saturdays, the first of which will take place tomorrow from noon to 2 p.m. Through all of his endeavors, he will talk about Boston sports with his listeners no matter the season, giving them a platform to engage with the hyperlocal coverage.
“Being back at WEEI is something that I’m really happy about,” Arcand expressed. “I was excited to get started, [and] now that I’m there, I’m excited to see where we can take this show.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
What Twitter Alternatives Exist For Sports Media?
Sports Twitter is a major vehicle that has helped establish the platform’s reputation for accurate and authentic up to the minute information.
The reality of Twitter dying as a platform was looked at as a bit hyperbolic when Elon Musk first took over the social media network. Now though, it is slowly coming closer and closer to potential reality.
Musk has been on a quest to salvage Twitter’s economic stability but has done so in an irrational and unplanned fashion. The actions he has taken include publicly criticizing his employees and firing them after pushback and firing essential engineers who literally keep the platform from crashing. Developers have even warned Twitter users with two factor authentication to either remove the feature or to remain logged in because the function that handles that process no longer works.
Sports Twitter is a major vehicle that has helped establish the platform’s reputation for accurate and authentic up to the minute information. It has helped establish the careers of insiders such as Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania and Adam Schefter. In case Twitter does actually come to an end, what should reporters who rely so much on the platform do?
Establish an email list through Substack
With permission from their employers, I would suggest starting a newsletter list that they would be able to carry with them in case they decided to leave their employer at some point (all three of the mentioned journos recently signed extensions). Posting on Substack through a mobile device is just as easy as posting on Twitter and it gives users an almost similar experience to what they had with using Twitter in the sense that they could have their email notifications turned on and they could interact with other basketball lovers through Substack’s comments section.
Create a live blog that always exists on your employer’s page
A running page of information that was sponsored and existed on ESPN or Stadium’s page would make digestible, quick hit commentary monetizable for the networks that employ Shams, Woj and Schefter. It brings people back to their employer’s page and establishes even more of a bond between consumers and apps/websites – a connection that has been taken away from many due to the existence of social media.
Establish a Mastodon server
With over a million users, Mastodon has become the closest thing to a Twitter alternative that’s available. Even though signing up for an account is a little confusing and the ability to search for unique users and takes isn’t fully established in comparison to Twitter – Mastodon has a similar look and feel to Elon’s platform and it gives employers more control over who is and isn’t interacting with their employees and what they are able to see. It would make it easier on ESPN or Stadium’s part to constantly promote links to their pages for viewers and readers to consume.
It’s the closest thing that is available to establishing your own social media network without the startup costs, hiring of engineers and figuring out tech issues. An advertising mechanism hasn’t been established yet but ESPN or Stadium could be in the forefront (because of the credibility they bring to the table) of establishing the revenue side of things alongside Mastodon.
Stick it out with Elon
NBC Universal’s advertising head recently told AdAge that NBC is sticking it out with Twitter. Twitter’s ad program has faced setback since Elon’s takeover but it is still much more established and streamlined that anything else available out there that is similar to Twitter. She also said that Twitter is the biggest host of NBC content on the internet (besides NBC owned platforms of course).
If a major company like NBC is standing with Twitter and if most major advertisers haven’t left yet, maybe sports reporters should also stay put for now. Twitter is not a startup. Despite the disarray we read about everyday, it’s still an established company that is up and running. We are all using Twitter itself to talk smack about its mismanagement but the reality is we are all still using Twitter. Even those who have gone away from the platform still come back more often than not to check in on what is happening directly on Twitter.
Maybe the grass will eventually be greener on the other side and Elon will have Twitter on more established ground. Maybe Elon files for bankruptcy and sells it to bankers who create an environment of stability for the company.
The reality is there is no other platform as good at real time reaction than Twitter so maybe sticking it out and keeping status quo is the best thing for everyone to do. See you later on Twitter (follow me @JMKTVShow).
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.