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Al Dukes and Jerry Recco Examine State of Sports Radio

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Al Dukes and Jerry Recco from WFAN’s morning show used their Wednesday postgame podcast to analyze the sports radio format and what the audience wants from it. They didn’t have an answer, because there is no verified answer, but Dukes and Recco offered interesting insight.  

The concept of talking sports for a living sounds easy, but being tasked with holding people’s attention in a world that demands fast and immediate content is challenging. Recco and Dukes suggested shorter shows throughout the format, including the 6 – 10am morning show they contribute to daily. It was said tongue-in-cheek, but they posed changing WFAN’s lineup to feature Boomer and Gio from 6 – 9a, Dukes and Recco 9a – noon, Moose and Maggie noon – 3p, followed by Carton and Roberts 3 – 6p.  

They also discussed the balance of straying from sports during a sports radio show. I believe social media and podcasts have given sports radio the ability to be less informative than it once was, opening the door for less sports talk. If a listener wants immediate sports news, they’ll check Twitter. If they want in-depth statistical breakdowns featuring analytics, they’ll likely get it from a niche podcast. 

So where does that leave sports radio? Recco said relatable life-talk always connects with the audience and generates reaction, but noted, “you can’t force it.” 

As much as I’m a die-hard sports fan, I prefer when the truly entertaining hosts keep sports to a macro level, soliciting those unique and relatable discussions about 7-Eleven or finding squirrels in your pool. Sticking to the nuts and bolts of sports might not always be the more entertaining route, but it’s usually the safer route because not every host has the ability to navigate away from it. The deeper a show gets into a sports conversation, the harder it is to branch off into those real-life topics. 

Recco also mentioned he gets tired of resetting the same conversation when he fills in for Boomer or Gio. Covering repetitive topics about DeShaun Watson to the Jets for the tenth consecutive day can get monotonous for the host, and that energy resonates with the audience. If the host is bored talking about a topic, the audience is probably going to be bored listening. 

Listeners generate predisposed expectations of hosts and shows. Last week, Recco harshly told Boomer and Gio, he doesn’t want to hear them talk about the Nets. Recco’s a Nets fan, he enjoys Nets commentary, but he goes elsewhere for it. A listener’s predisposed opinion of Boomer and Gio might be that the hosts’ biases prevent them from having an honest conversation about the Nets.   

That rationale is also true for the balance of sports vs non-sports topics. Listeners expect to laugh when Craig Carton is behind the mic, they trust him to take the show in different directions. But if another host attempts a bit that’s deemed out of character, the audience won’t have enough trust to give it a chance the first time. 

Knowing you can’t please everybody while trying to entertain the majority is a difficult task. Even for longtime industry personnel like Dukes and Recco, there might not be a definitive answer on the best way to construct a sports radio show. But that’s not a bad thing, varying approaches to creating a show encourages diverse content.

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New York Mobile Sports Bets Likely to Pass New Jersey for No. 1 in U.S.

“The data tell us that New Yorkers are dumping illegal sportsbooks for the new legal options, and operators are also excelling at attracting first-time bettors.”

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New York looks well on its way to become the new No. 1 in mobile sports betting. Bets from the state blasted off in the first two weekends they were available.

This could put New York in position to overtake its neighbor, New Jersey, for the top spot.

According to the Associated Press, Vancouver, Canada-based tech company GeoComply Solutions recorded 17.9 million transactions last weekend in New York. That’s up from 17.2 million the weekend before, when betting went live in the state. 

The transaction numbers are related to sports betting activity from a specific location of a customer. Bettors are required to make bets within state lines where it is legal.

The company says 1.2 million new accounts were created in New York since mobile sports betting began on Jan. 8. Nearly 88% of those customers are new to legal sports betting, never having been verified before by GeoComply.

“The momentum of New York’s sports betting launch has continued and it is mostly home-grown,” GeoComply managing director of gaming Lindsay Slader told the AP. “The data tell us that New Yorkers are dumping illegal sportsbooks for the new legal options, and operators are also excelling at attracting first-time bettors.”

These numbers imply that the New Jersey market might be hurting as a result of New York surging. However, while the transactions show New York probably took more bets, they also indicate that New Jersey hasn’t lost any business to New York so far.

New Jersey averaged 12.6 million geolocation transactions in the two weekends before New York’s mobile launch, and 13.1 million in the two weekends since.

About 9.3% of bettors have accounts in both states, the company said.

“The growth in New York has been explosive,” said Rush Street Interactive CEO Richard Schwartz, whose company runs the BetRivers online sportsbook. “It is, by far, off to the fastest start of any of our sportsbook markets in terms of handle. Along with having the largest population of any state with legalized sports gambling, New York is one of the few U.S. states with multiple teams across all four major sports. It’s simply a recipe for long term success.”

Sports gambling company FanDuel is “very pleased” with how New York customers have embraced betting.

“While all markets are critical, it was especially important for FanDuel to do well within our home state,” said spokesman Kevin Hennessy.

While New Jersey is still thriving, it should be interesting to keep an eye on the market as more and more business pops up in New York. New Jersey casinos and sports books say at least 20% of their business has come from New Yorkers crossing over into New Jersey to make bets before New York opened up the market.

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NSMA Announces Award Winners, Hall Of Fame Inductees

“The NSMA’s annual awards weekend and national convention is scheduled for June 25-27 in Winston-Salem, N.C.”

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National Sports Media Association

The National Sports Media Association (NSMA) will induct four new members of its hall of fame and honor its three national award winners in June, and the NSMA announced the full list of honorees on Tuesday.

Basketball analyst Hubie Brown and the late Stuart Scott will be inducted as hall of fame sportscasters, while Jackie MacMullan and Curry Kirkpatrick will go in as hall of fame sportswriters.

Scott passed away after a bout with cancer in 2015, but he will always be fondly remembered as one of ESPN’s greatest SportsCenter anchors. His catchphrases “Booyah!” and “Cool as the other side of the pillow” were just some that captivated audiences during his time at ESPN.

Additionally, there was a tie for national sportscaster of the year, as Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson and ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt will share the 2022 award. ESPN baseball insider Jeff Passan was named the national sportswriter of the year.

The NSMA’s annual awards weekend and national convention is scheduled for June 25-27 in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Dan O’Toole Returns To Broadcasting With New Podcast, ‘Boomsies!’

“Talking to some former co-workers — some former bosses — and one of them said, ‘Well, Dan, I think you’re done in the industry.'”

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BetRivers Network

Since being fired by TSN last year, Dan O’Toole has kept a rather low profile. But not by choice.

As the former SportsCentre and Fox Sports Live anchor explained to The Athletic‘s Sean Fitz-Gerald, no other media outlet was offering work. The lack of interest moved O’Toole to the point where he began to consider a different career. And he wasn’t getting encouragement from former colleagues.

“Talking to some former co-workers — some former bosses,” O’Toole told Fitz-Gerald, “and one of them said, ‘Well, Dan, I think you’re done in the industry.'”

It’s a realization that plenty, far too many, in media have faced in recent years as outlets make budget cuts or shut down altogether. Yet for someone as accomplished and popular as O’Toole was in his on-air partnership with Jay Onrait, such a situation must have been even more difficult.

So like many other broadcasters, O’Toole, 46, decided to give himself a platform. He started a podcast. Titled Boomsies!, the show is available where most audio content is found these days, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The podcast is also available on YouTube, in partnership with BetRivers Sportsbook. New shows will be posted every Wednesday.

The “Boomsies!” name came from a producer he previously worked with at FS1. Behind the scenes, the producer would yell “Boomsies!” in response to a big play or notable mistake.

Later in The Athletic‘s article, O’Toole went onto explain that he believes it’s been difficult to find work in Canadian sports television because of his rather public episode in July 2020 when he believed that his infant daughter had been abducted. The child was later found safe with her mother.

“Having a very public — essentially — mental breakdown, with a situation in my life,” O’Toole told Fitz-Gerald. “That probably entered my brain, where people don’t want this guy around.”

Losing his job at TSN provided O’Toole with the opportunity to help himself, which included a month-long stay in a treatment center last year. He’d like to get back on television, but is content with the podcast for the work-life balance it allows. The show also provides a platform to demonstrate to anyone who might be struggling with mental health that it’s possible to put a life back together.

New episodes of Boomsies! are available each Wednesday on most podcast apps including Apple Podcasts and Spotify, in addition to a video version on YouTube with the BetRivers Network.

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