Al Dukes and Jerry Recco Examine State of Sports Radio
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.
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.
Dave Portnoy: I Trust Penn Entertainment as Much as Ever
“Dave Portnoy is still an employee of Penn Entertainment. However, he has said publicly that he is unsure if the arrangement will continue after his contract expires in 2025.”
Dave Portnoy may have had some public disagreements with Penn Entertainment, but he says that he still trusts the company to run Barstool. He took to Twitter earlier this week to dispel the myth that he is in a feud with the company.
“By the way everything I say or do nowadays is construed as me having beef with @PENNEntertain I 100% do not. Most of my net worth is still tied to $penn. The corporate woke overlord narrative is bullshit. They woulda never bought us in 1st place if that was true. I trust them now as much as when they bought us.”
Portnoy has not been shy about criticizing the company’s decision to fire Ben Mintz after Mintz said the n-word while reading rap lyrics. Several supporters, including Dana White, noted that it is the kind of decision that only happens when corporations take over creative enterprises.
Earlier this week, Dave Portnoy announced that he had hired Ben Mintz as the first employee of Brick Watch Company. Mintz was emotional in making the announcement. The decision was not made to stick it to Penn Entertainment according to Portnoy.
Penn first acquired a stake in Barstool in 2020. It invested $163 million at that time for a 36% stake. Earlier this year, it completed its acquisition, investing an addition $388 million for the remaining 62% of the company.
Dave Portnoy is still an employee of Penn Entertainment. However, he has said publicly that he is unsure if the arrangement will continue after his contract expires in 2025.
Multiple State Regulators Push Back on Effort to Legalize Gambling on WWE
“In March, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported that WWE had meetings with regulators in Colorado and Michigan.”
Despite speculation over allowing sports bettors to wager on WWE, there doesn’t appear to be much support at the state level to add it to sportsbook offerings.
Earlier this year, WWE officials had discussions with accounting firm Ernst and Young to secure pre-determined match outcomes in order to allow betting on events. But many states where sports betting is legal have restrictions on wagering on scripted events.
In March, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported that WWE had meetings with regulators in Colorado and Michigan.
“The Colorado Division of Gaming is not currently and has not considered allowing sports betting wagers on WWE matches. By statute, wagers on events with fixed or predicted outcomes or purely by chance are strictly prohibited in Colorado; this includes wagers on the Academy Awards,” Shannon Gray of the Colorado Division of Gaming told Sports Betting Dime.
In Ohio, the same rules apply. The Ohio Casino Control Commission has not fielded any requests to add WWE. Officials in Kansas haven’t received requests either by their residents.
Elsewhere, Maryland sees keeping WWE out of betting offerings as a way to keep the integrity of legal sports betting.
“Maryland’s sports wagering law and regulations prohibit forms of wagering that are contrary to public interest or unfair to bettors,” Seth Elkin of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency added. “We’ve determined that it is unfair to bettors and therefore not in the public’s interest to accept wagers on sports entertainment events that have scripted or predetermined outcomes, like professional wrestling.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Former Twitter Sports Boss TJ Adeshola Joins Arctos Partners
“We’ve been fortunate to have TJ as an Operating Advisor for the past three years, and we are thrilled to have him play a larger role as an Operating Partner.”
Less than two months after TJ Adeshola announced his exit from Twitter, he has resurfaced. Arctos Partners, a firm that he had been advising, named Adeshola an operating partner on Thursday.
In the new role, Adeshola will be much more hands-on with the firm, a private investment company that focuses its investments in the sports world. The firm says it focuses on unlocking “non-obvious opportunities long before others have noticed the market need or opportunity”.
TJ Adeshola’s digital sports marketing expertise will certainly come in handy with that.
“We believe TJ is an innovator in emerging digital and sports media trends, and his wealth of knowledge is a tremendous resource for our Arctos Operating Platform, the value-added capabilities we provide to our franchise partners,” Arctos’s Jordan Solomon said in a press release. “We’ve been fortunate to have TJ as an Operating Advisor for the past three years, and we are thrilled to have him play a larger role as an Operating Partner.”
During his decade with Twitter, Adeshola served as the Head of U.S. Sports Partnerships. His title was Head of Global Content Partnerships at the time of his exit.
He is credited with securing broad strategic partnerships with the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and MLS as well as NASCAR, esports, college, and high school sports. He helped the platform grow the engagement and audience for those entities.
“I’m thrilled to expand my role with Arctos as an Operating Partner,” Adeshola added. “As the first investment firm to invest across multiple North American sports leagues, Arctos is an innovator and disruptor in the sports landscape. And true to form, the Arctos team recognizes the power of digital media as a tool for growth and an opportunity to drive value for its franchise partners.”