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Chris Tannehill Makes Everyone And Everything At 670 The Score Better

“He’s just always thinking out of the box and you hear audio on a show and you’re like ‘wow I didn’t know that existed’ or ‘how the heck did he do that,’” said Rosen.

Kate Constable

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As the “Laurence Holmes Show” was wrapping up, Chris Tannehill (Tanney) stepped into the control room to take his seat at the soundboard in preparation for the “Parkins & Spiegel Show” to begin at the top of the hour.

He reached over to the right of the board and grabbed what looked to be an old Folgers coffee container plastered with stickers from musical artists. With COVID-19 still very prevalent, Tannehill pulled out his own set of headphones and foam mic cover to place over the microphone as midday audio producer Herb Lawrence removed his and the two swapped positions.

Chris Tannehill on Twitter: "If you missed my appearance on  @LaurenceWHolmes show, here it is! @670TheScore https://t.co/SpkD26M5JK… "

Hosts Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel joined Holmes live on the air as the trio transitioned out of the midday show and into the afternoon drive time.

“When we come back, we’ll have Tanney’s open,” Parkins said as he sent the show to commercial break.  

Approximately four minutes later, the “Parkins and Spiegel Show” officially began, the same way it does every day, drawing listeners in with an open only Tannehill could produce.

A Chicago native, Tannehill grew up listening to The Score as a kid, so when the opportunity to intern with his favorite local radio station presented itself, he jumped on it. Tannehill began as an intern in May of 2007 before earning a part-time position doing White Sox baseball five months later.

In 2012, Tannehill was hired to replace Jason Goff as the audio producer on “Boers and Bernstein.” He worked with Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein until 2017 when Goff took over for Boers after he retired. He ran the board for “Bernstein and Goff” from 2017-18, for “McNeil and Parkins” from 2018-20, and now for “Parkins and Spiegel.”

“Maybe I’m the reason why there’s so many changing faces on the afternoons now that I think about it,” Tannehill said sarcastically with a chuckle.

But at a station with an unusual amount of turnover over the last few years, Tannehill has been the constant of afternoons at The Score for the better part of the last decade.

“Hosts have their choice of what executive producer they want and what sound guy they want,” said Shane Riordan who has been the executive producer of the “Parkins and Spiegel Show” in an official capacity for the last two months. “Every host that’s come into that timeslot has said ‘Chris Tannehill is obviously my choice, of course I don’t want to make a change, there’s no one else better.’”

Ask around at The Score and you’ll quickly get a sense of why Tannehill is so coveted.

“He’s the audio overlord,” said Riordan.

“Chris is an artist, a producer, a storyteller,” said Mitch Rosen, longtime program director at The Score. “I would purely consider him a radio production creative genius.”

“His talents and skillset and timing and feel is undeniable,” said Spiegel.

“This guy could work for Howard Stern, he could work for Dan Patrick,” said Parkins. “I’ve literally never heard a better audio producer in radio.”

Tannehill is quiet, yet witty. Confident, yet humble. He’s not someone you’ll ever hear boasting about his skills or accomplishments but instead will let his work do the talking.

It’s common for audio producers to put together a montage or open for special guests they have on their shows. What’s uncommon, is putting together an open for the start of every single show, something that Tannehill does daily for the “Parkins and Spiegel Show.”

“The open, he’s just a savant at it,” said Parkins. “People tune in at 2 p.m. to the afternoon on The Score to hear Tanney’s opens, like it’s a thing.”

According to Tannehill, putting together an open is pretty routine at this point and typically only takes him 20 minutes. He then spends the morning finding good content for the show and topics he can build off of.

While Tannehill’s opens have become a staple, his work goes far beyond that. When someone retires, is traded away or gets fired, he’s ready with a career retrospective package, often set to the theme song from “Goodfellas.” For any guest that is brought onto the show, Tannehill has an extremely well-thought-out production package ready to roll.

“The ultimate compliments are when there’s a guest on, whether it’s a celebrity or a journalist, and the first thing you hear from them when they are welcomed on the air is ‘man that was a hell of an open,’ or ‘holy cow, what I just heard, that’s incredible,’” said Rosen. “And that’s Chris Tannehill.”

“There have been many times where a guest will notice something that’s been played and it will immediately make them feel more comfortable,” said Spiegel. “It does some of the work that the host is usually supposed to do which is to get the guests comfortable and feeling like we care right away.”

What’s helped make this process so turnkey over the years is Tannehill’s unique process for logging sound in which he saves every show he’s ever worked on in its entirety. Unbeknownst to many, Tannehill has a keen ability to recall specific moments and bring them back at just the right time.

“He’s able to turn things that nobody else would think to turn something into, into magic,” said Riordan. “He’s unreal.”

While he’s constantly pulling original audio clips to use throughout various shows, this process has allowed him to create longer montages for larger events that no one in the business can replicate.

Frank Thomas’ Hall of Fame induction, Vin Scully’s retirement and the Cubs’ World Series highlight just a few of the more in-depth pieces he’s put together. Depending on the project, Tannehill could spend up to a year working on it, adding bits and pieces every step of the way throughout a team’s season or playoff run.

“The Cubs one was very important to me even though I’m a White Sox fan,” said Tannehill. “I wanted to serve the base of Cubs fans as best as I could and sort of give them something to hold on to and to make that moment for them even better, something that would just be there forever for them to go back and listen to and remember when times were at their best as a Cubs fan.”

When it comes to the day-to-day, producing afternoon radio can be a challenge because each show prior has likely already talked about what you plan on discussing for the next four hours. Hosts have had time to voice their opinion on the day’s biggest topics and the best sound has already been used. However, according to Riordan, this isn’t an issue when working with Tannehill.

“He’s got audio somehow that nobody else has and he has an ear for what no one else here has,” said Riordan. “So, the fact that we can differentiate ourselves from all the other shows and put new spins on the audio that they’ve already played and talked about is largely due in part to his ability to find it, and to hear things in audio that other sound producers can’t hear.”

“He’s just always thinking out of the box and you hear audio on a show and you’re like ‘wow I didn’t know that existed’ or ‘how the heck did he do that,’” said Rosen.

Tannehill’s skills are unique in that, working on four different afternoon shows throughout the course of his career, he’s had to go through the process of building out a sound library for each show and catering the sound to the hosts and their specific tastes.

According to Parkins, Tannehill has been flawless when it comes to developing that rapport with his hosts while also making important journalistic decisions in terms of which pieces of sound he uses.

“I’m pretty Type-A when it comes to the show, a little overbearing at times, a little demanding at times, but not with him,” said Parkins. “He absolutely has a reason for cutting it where he cut it. There’s a purpose to it.”

“With Tannehill nothing is left to chance,” said Spiegel. “If it doesn’t have direct relevance, then the lyric has direct relevance, you know? He’ll use something lyrically that fits exactly what we’re talking about, nothing is by chance.”

There’s no doubt his attention to detail on the board elevates his show, but he’s also had a positive affect on other shows at The Score.

“I say this all the time, ‘Tanney is better at his job than any of us are at ours,’” said Parkins. “Like there’s no question about that.”

“Having somebody great on a team will make all the rest of the people great because they see that and are like ‘ok that’s something to shoot for,’” said Lawrence. “And even if you come up short, you’re still going to be exhausting your potential to the highest levels and that’s what I think Tanney does well for all the rest of us.”

Part of what has contributed to his success is his love for hip hop. He began producing hip hop during high school and college and spent time as a DJ, better known as Cosm Roks. Because of this, when he got to The Score, one of the people he tried to emulate his work off of was Jason Goff who ran the board for “Boers and Bernstein” at the time.

Goff, who is currently the Bulls pre- and postgame show host on NBC Sports Chicago, made an effort to work more of a hip hop influence into the bumpers he played, and Tannehill took notice. He eventually took over Goff’s position on the board and continued incorporating that style of music into his work.

“The idea is taking that to the next level, everything they learned, and building on that,” said Tannehill.

When Goff began getting part-time hosting shifts, Tannehill put together the first open for him as a host, integrating a song Goff was fond of at the time, Exhibit C by Jay Electronica.

“Now anytime I hear it I think of a bad show getting ready to start, which is what I was doing back in the early days,” Goff said with a laugh. “Or I think of Chris. We’ve got that special bond because of that Exhibit C and Jay Electronica song.”

Hip-Hop Nostalgia: Jay Electronica "Exhibit C" (December 22, 2009)

Coupling his use of hip hop with his vast knowledge and feel for not just sports, but pop culture, movies and TV, Tannehill has learned to use his artistic side to build a relationship with his audience.

“What people remember about the show is benchmark bits, funny moments, and if you keep those in rotation enough then people feel like they have this relationship with the show,” said Tannehill.

“His ability to retain and speak in show references is unparalleled,” said Riordan. “There are tens of thousands of Chicago radio listeners, or just Chicagoans who don’t even listen to the radio, that speak in references that Chris Tannehill created.”

The next step in Tannehill’s career came in February 2020 when he joined Lawrence as a co-host on the “Locked on Sox” podcast. Lawrence initially began the venture solo, but since Tannehill joined, the two have hosted nearly 200 episodes together and have seen a steady climb in the number of listeners.

“He’s too modest to say those things and I’ve said it in shows, like, the show has gone from good to great, because of Chris Tannehill, not because of me,” said Lawrence. “I’m Good. Chris Tannehill and myself makes it great because Chris Tannehill takes me up to those levels.”

What started as a fun side project for the two best friends and lifelong Sox fans, has quickly grown into something that’s benefitted both in their work at The Score.

“I’m not always comfortable with the on-air part of it, but I wanted to do something that would sort of make me uncomfortable,” said Tannehill. “And I was like okay, I want to get better at that element because that’s going to immediately translate to being better with Parkins and Spiegel.

“[Parkins] and [Spiegel] have kind of empowered me to be more of a voice, so the podcast has helped in that regard to just be a little more articulate.”

Beyond the voice Tannehill continues working to develop on-air, the one he’s already established within the walls of The Score has had a profound impact on those he’s worked directly with.

“When you look across that glass or through that glass you want to make sure that you feel like you got teammates and he was always the dude who made sure I was in the right place for whatever the segment or whatever the show needed,” said Goff. “He always made sure I was cool. So, on top of being technically proficient, he was also always a calming force for me.”

“He’s a guy that you want on your team, and you know that what he does on an everyday basis is just incredible and I respect the hell out of him,” said Rosen.

Each day, at the end of every show, Parkins signs off by thanking guests, producers, Spiegel and, of course, Tannehill, uttering a statement that he believes couldn’t be truer.

Spiegel & Parkins "Christmas at Halas" Song Review w/ Chris Tannehill (670  The Score) - YouTube

“Chris Tannehill makes us sound better than we really are each and every day.”

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Ryan Clark is Ready for ‘The Pivot’ to Grow with Channing Crowder, Fred Taylor and Fanatics

“We want to be a place where you can just be yourself and you can love yourself and truly tell your story and show people who you are.”

Derek Futterman

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Ryan Clark
Courtesy: The Pivot

Answering a call from Emmy Award-winning producer Alicia Zubikowsi, Ryan Clark learned of a potential new media venture in a niche space. Zubikowski had produced the I Am Athlete podcast for nearly two years, which rapidly proliferated in size, scope and prominence. A financial dispute among the colleagues, however, led to the departures of Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor from the roster, along with Zubikowski, and they branched out on their own to actualize a new vision. After speaking with Zubikowski, Clark met with Crowder virtually and evinced compatibility that compelled him to become involved in the project.

Less than two years later, The Pivot Podcast has quickly amassed notoriety and prestige within sports media. The athlete-driven podcast contains weekly conversations with contemporaries and luminaries alike, to talk sports, music and entertainment. Clark, Crowder and Taylor possess an evident rapport and retains the audience while encouraging prospective listeners to hear the genuine endeavor.

“We felt like there was some synergy there, we thought we could do some good things and we decided to give it a try,” Clark said. “I had already been doing my own podcast that I was funding myself, editing myself and cutting promos myself just because I understood what the space was and I knew that that’s where a lot of media was going, and at the time I didn’t have a partnership or anyone kind of showing me the way, but I was like, ‘These people have already been successful.’”

Since its launch in the winter of 2022, The Pivot Podcast has amassed over 158 million views and 870,000 subscribers on YouTube alone. The show has welcomed guests across a variety of professions, some of whom have included Caleb Williams, Snoop Dogg, Gayle King and Travis Kelce. During its time in circulation, it has made an indelible impact on the landscape and recently agreed to a multi-year partnership with Fanatics.

Through the deal, The Pivot Podcast will feature Fanatics’ verticals surrounding commerce, betting, collectibles and events, and the Fanatics Sportsbook garnering the title of the “official sportsbook” of the show. Additionally, the program will be part of company events such as Fanatics Fest NYC and its annual Super Bowl party.

“Luckily for us, it’s been such a blessing,” Clark said. “Some of the stories we’ve been able to tell, the people we’ve been able to work with and have as guests on the show, and then obviously now having an opportunity to partner with Fanatics and be a part of Michael Rubin’s team and sort of head their media division, especially when you’re speaking of Alicia and what she’ll be able to do, it just makes so much sense.”

Fanatics itself had inked some deals in the sports media space over the last year, including agreements with Bleacher Report and Overtime, but they were largely under the aegis of merchandising and/or live events. The company also hired Ed Hartman as its chief strategy officer in media, trying to discover content that fits various key business sectors. For The Pivot, retaining creative control and autonomy over the content was essential and being involved in other ventures added more value to the proposition.

“To be a part of those things and bringing those things to the world, but also an opportunity to showcase the athletes and entertainers that are part of the Fanatics family – and I think that’s a different and a bigger opportunity than any podcast has ever had with any partnership, and that is why it was important for us to find the right partnership,” Clark said. “And if I’m being honest, our producer has turned down multiple deals saying that she believed that this was the one before this was ever even a thing that Michael Rubin was talking about.”

Reaching this point required hard work, consistency and confidence that The Pivot would ultimately resonate with audiences and establish a rapport in the space. Luckily for Clark, he had a viable fallback plan in that he was working at ESPN as an NFL analyst, a role he had positioned himself to attain while he was still an active player.

During his career, he had worked on 93.7 The Fan hosting a radio show from a hibachi restaurant in Pittsburgh and also appeared on local television. Clark played 13 years in the NFL as a safety and won a Super Bowl championship as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2008 season.

Although Clark had been told as a player that he had a chance to thrive in sports media, his formative years in the business broadened his understanding of the landscape and how to achieve success. Upon retiring from the NFL, he signed a multi-year agreement with ESPN to appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio shows and additional network programming.

Over the last several years, he has been a consistent part of NFL Live. Clark explained that the show contains underdogs who have crafted chemistry that has coalesced into an on-air product and meaningful friendships. Laura Rutledge, Dan Orlovsky, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes and Adam Schefter work with Clark and blend their football knowledge and expertise with entertainment.

“I could see how much work they all put into their craft, and I respected that, and then once you get that respect and you start to work together, now you get to know the people,” Clark said. “You get to know about their kids, you get to know about their home life, you get to know about what makes them tick and what makes them themselves, and then we care about each other.”

As members of the show watch NFL games every week, they remain in constant communication through a group chat. Additionally, Clark ensures that he is actively listening to what his colleagues say on the air so he can disseminate informed, substantive opinions that play a part in the overall product.

“The smartest of analysts understand what they have to be on each show based on who they’re working with,” Clark said. “I think you just also have to be versatile enough to do that. You have to know when you’re on NFL Live, that show is so heavy X and O; that show is so heavy, ‘Let’s educate – let’s talk about the things that are important in ball, even if they aren’t the most popular things.’”

Starting last season, Clark was added to Monday Night Countdown as a studio analyst as part of a revamped iteration of the program hosted by Scott Van Pelt. Joining Clark as analysts on the show were his NFL Live colleague Marcus Spears and incumbent analyst Robert Griffin III. While there were some memorable moments both in studio and on site throughout the year though, Clark felt that the show struggled to capture an essence on the air.

“I think the show is just hard because it’s sort of like rolled over the entire infrastructure and changed the people, and it happened so late that I don’t think we ever got an opportunity to find our voices on that show, and we tried to work through that throughout the season,” Clark said. “….I think last year was a learning experience where if I’m being really honest, we did bad TV sometimes, which was new for me because I felt like I haven’t done bad TV in a very long time, and it was embarrassing for me because I put so much time into it.”

Former Philadelphia Eagles center and Super Bowl champion Jason Kelce is joining the show and was formally introduced this week. During a charity golf outing this offseason, Clark had a chance to meet Kelce and learn more about him as a person while also answering questions about ESPN and the sports media business.

“I told him to be himself because being himself is what got him here,” Clark said. “He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion, so he has so much knowledge, experience and wisdom that people will crave, and he can give it to them uniquely with his personality, with his honesty [and] with the openness and vulnerability about who he is. Other than that, he’s going to have to learn.”

Akin to Clark hosting The Pivot and working at ESPN, Kelce hosts the New Heights podcast with his brother, and will now be joining Monday Night Countdown on ESPN. Clark anticipates that Kelce will be a huge addition, referring to him as the “hottest free agent ever,” and hopes to grant him longform chances to express himself on the air. Being on the show for a second season, however, nearly was not a reality for Clark amid an expiring contract at ESPN.

“I was gone,” Clark said. “I wasn’t considering – I was done. Normally they extend your contract until it gets done most times. I was out – my contract had ended.”

Clark took part in discussions with other people in the business, some of which included having his own show and organizations starting networks around him. Throughout the process, he was cognizant about the relationships and memories he had built at ESPN and was appreciative for various personalities speaking up for him, including Mike Greenberg and Stephen A. Smith. In the end, Clark signed a multi-year extension with the network that implemented a raise and additional responsibility while also continuing his other projects.

“Obviously my family is the NFL Live crew,” Clark said. “Scott Van Pelt and I probably share one of the most memorable nights in television when Damar Hamlin went down. And so those relationships were things that I didn’t want to leave unless there was a good enough reason to leave, and I don’t think that’s just money.”

Clark started hosting Inside the NFL last season on The CW, a storied sports franchise that presents highlights, analysis and interviews every week during the NFL season. After spending approximately four decades on HBO and subsequent years on Showtime and Paramount+, the program moved to broadcast television for the first time. Clark conceptualizes his role as a point guard who is able to score when necessary and successfully facilitate his colleagues Jay Cutler, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Chris Long and The Pivot co-host Channing Crowder.

“I think that was the hardest adjustment with Inside the NFL initially was like, ‘Okay, how do I set these guys up for success while still doing something I’m really good at, which is analyzing football?,’” Clark said, “and it’s taken some time to really sort of find a space for it, but I think I did find that on Inside the NFL.”

In working on The Pivot, Clark built relationships organically through conversations surrounding strategy, content creation and lifestyle. One episode in particular that stands out to him is when the show interviewed former NBA forward Michael Beasley where he opened up about his mental health struggles and hardships he has endured throughout his life. Furthermore, he talked about struggling to find the right people and explained that everyone stole from him except his kids. Clark, Crowder and Taylor sympathized with Beasley and offered him assistance, underscoring the unscripted, genuine nature of the show.

“Everybody wants The Rock to be able to come on their show and talk about his battles with depression, but we also want Kevin Hart to be able to come on the show and invite him to nudist camp too,” Clark said. “We want to be a place where you can just be yourself and you can love yourself and truly tell your story and show people who you are. And I don’t necessarily know if it’s distinctive in effort or goal; I think it’s been distinctive in execution, which, in the end, is what we deliver to people.”

Through the new partnership with Fanatics, Clark looks forward to continuing to take part in candid conversations and storytelling on The Pivot while continuing to thrive in his work with ESPN and The CW. As someone who attained a successful NFL career after signing as an undrafted free agent, he maintains a mentality built on an indefatigable work ethic and resolute dedication towards his professional endeavors. Once the show signed the partnership with Fanatics, it had an opportunity to interview Tom Brady, who discussed topics including his experience being the subject of a Netflix roast and the lessons he learned playing in the NFL.

“Not everybody understands Tom Brady, right?,” Clark said. “Who knows that story? Who has ever lived that, ‘I’m the greatest to ever do something’? But everybody has understood what it’s like to struggle; what it’s like to doubt yourself, right? And so we bring them that story, and in bringing them that story, we talk about the things that Fanatics is doing and the ways that they are now moving in the sports world.”

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Christopher ‘Mad Dog’ Russo Making the Most of His Resurgence with the Help of ESPN

Far from a close-minded fuddy-duddy. He is an open-minded observer of sports, one of the greatest of all time.

John Molori

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Screengrab of First Take on ESPN with Chris Russo
Screengrab from ESPN/First Take

The true essence of Christopher ‘Mad Dog’ Russo, Version 2024 can be found in the open to the May 15 edition of First Take on ESPN.

In the aftermath of the Knicks defeating the Pacers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, superstar showstopper Stephen A. Smith opened the program with an emotionally joyous soliloquy lauding his favorite New York basketball team. Smith was jubilant, ebullient, and thrilled.

The segment ended with Smith walking over to panelists Russo and Kendrick Perkins and hugging them in glee. After the show’s open, the Knick rapture continued, that is, until “Mad Dog” was let out of the kennel.

Russo brought things back down to earth, predicting that Indiana would win Game 6 of the series. He then went through a mental historical timeline of the Knicks choking in playoff games at home. This level of historic context is largely lost on modern sports fans, many of whom believe that nothing existed before LeBron James or Tom Brady.

Russo’s beautiful dose of reality ticked off the jovial Smith but set the discourse on a more levelheaded road. Russo is a talking history book, and let’s face it, not everybody likes history class. The difference, however, is that Christopher Russo lived this history, and indeed, made history himself. A 2022 National Radio Hall of Fame inductee, he has uniquely entertained sports fans for more than four decades, becoming one of the most memorable and imitated personalities ever.

He created Mad Dog Sports Radio on SiriusXM in 2008 and headlines the channel with his popular Mad Dog Unleashed show. In addition, he hosts the daily High Heat program on MLB Network. Still, it is one of Russo’s earliest and most recent gigs that set him apart.

Beginning in 1989 and for the next 19 years, Russo and Mike Francesa hosted the landmark Mike and the Mad Dog afternoon driveshow on WFAN radio in New York. It was a ratings mammoth and ensconced Russo as a stone-cold sports media legend.

I am going to make the case that Russo’s latest incarnation as a First Take Wednesday regular is just as significant. It has exposed a whole new audience to the Russo experience. On a more basic level, it is just really special to see a classic radio guy like Russo welcomed into the most progressive and popular sports talk show on the air right now.

Kudos to Stephen A. Smith for making Russo a regular on his program. You can tell that Smith, author of an historically significant media career himself, truly respects those who came before him and blazed the trail. In fact, to a certain extent, Smith is a media offspring of Russo. They both possess riveting personalities, unquestioned bravery, and on-air dominance. Like or dislike, agree or disagree, these are two men who must be listened to and respected.

With Max Kellerman’s 2021 exit from First Take, I was doubtful as to what would happen to the program. My worst thought was that Smith would bring in a bevy of co-hosts who would bow to his greatness – like Jerry Jones’ Cowboys’ coaching hires since Jimmy Johnson. Thankfully, Smith went in the other direction. Russo has the same cache as Smith, so there is no hero worship. He says what he feels and talks straight – real talk in a colorful and exciting manner.

As the Knicks discussion continued, Smith wanted to tap into Russo’s New York sports sensibilities and emotion asking Russo if he felt Madison Square Garden shaking during the Knicks’ Game 5 win. It didn’t work. Russo responded that at 65 years-old, he has been in the Garden for many big games and then cautioned Smith to take it easy with the Knicks.

He again harkened back to New York’s less than sparkling history in big games and menacingly joked that it is his job to “spoil Stephen A’s fun.” Russo then spectacularly took the air out of the building with an ominous What If asking what the Knicks would do if it came down to a Game 7 and the game was tied with the clock winding down.

Russo is also self-deprecating. When host Molly Qerim asked him for a prediction on the Nuggets-Timberwolves series, Russo said that he predicted that the Bills would blow out the Giants in Super Bowl XXV – the famed Scott Norwood missed field goal game. Qerim, who does an excellent job in controlling Hurricane Christopher, acknowledged the obscure reference.

While Russo has a database of past stats and stars, he is not lost in history. In fact, on this edition of First Take, he made a bold statement that the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić has the greatest offensive skill set of any center in the history of the NBA. These are not the words of a stodgy curmudgeon whose mind cannot be changed.

Russo is an astute observer of our games. He sees greatness and gives that greatness credit. Far from a close-minded fuddy-duddy. He is an open-minded observer of sports, one of the greatest of all time. His opinions are not to be chided. They are to be listened to and appreciated.

During First Take’s Quick Takes segment, Russo ably put his encyclopedic knowledge to use. The question posed was whether the Celtics or Lakers are the greatest franchise in NBA history. Russo’s analysis was spot on and long overdue. First, he discounted the Minneapolis Lakers’ five titles as part of the pro-Lakers argument. He also cited the Celtics’ overall dominance when the two franchises have met in the NBA Finals over the decades.

Lastly, he remarked that the Celtics have had four eras of greatness: Russell in the 1960s, Havlicek-Cowens in the 1970s, Bird in the 1980s, and Pierce-Garnett in the late 2000s, while the Lakers have only two: Magic-Abdul-Jabbar in the ‘80s and Shaq-Kobe in the 2000s. It was the best analysis of a longtime debate.

In a debate about Bronny James and his NBA hopes, Russo again was the voice of reason giving a very realistic analysis of why he is not a top pro prospect. It is clear that Russo has nothing to prove, nobody to impress, and no apple to polish. He made his bones years ago, and his takes are refreshing and objective.

The cherry on top of Russo’s First Take sundae was his What Are You Mad About? segment. Viewers tuning into this part of the program are no doubt wondering who the hell, and at times, what the hell they are watching. Russo pushes the limits of his angst, heart rate, blood pressure, and decibel level picking apart several news items from the week in sports. At times, he closes his blurbs screaming to the heavens, “May God strike me down!”

In this particular segment, he went off on late NBA playoff start times, the intrigue surrounding the 2024 NFL schedule release, and his distaste towards the vulgar humor in the Tom Brady roast. Russo gets up close to the camera and goes off in a boisterous way. It is simultaneously fantastic and frightening.

In his last piece on the roast, Russo looked into the camera and yelled to Brady, “How stupid can you be!” This is the same question I will pose to anyone who dismisses Russo as an out of touch old guy. This cat is no curmudgeon. He is a killer. Elderly? No, epic. Bygone? How about straight up bad ass. That is Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, Version 2024.

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How to Renegotiate Your Annual Sports Radio Advertising Contract

Reducing expenses within an annual radio agreement takes a strategic negotiation and budget management approach.

Jeff Caves

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Graphic that shows two people negotiating
Graphic Courtesy: Soject.com

If you are a small to medium-sized business, there is no doubt you are facing rising costs, and making ends meet is a top priority. Sometimes, that means cutting expenses on things you have committed to via contract, like a 2024 annual radio advertising agreement with level monthly payments. You are on the air each month and appreciate the value of advertising consistently. You understand the necessity to maintain a market presence within the budget you laid out last year. You negotiated a win-win contract and are happy with it. However, with your costs spiraling to deliver your services, cost-cutting measures have become critical for financial viability in the long term and better cash flow in the short term. You are now tasked with the need to reduce expenses wherever you can, and your sports radio advertising is next on the list. The station doesn’t want to lessen your committed budget. It’s time for strategic negotiation and decision-making. Here are some effective strategies to accomplish this objective while keeping your annual budget intact:

Pricing and Rates

Initiate negotiations on pricing and rates for ad spots with the radio station. They know where they have more demand than supply and could even make more money by freeing up some of your commercials to be sold to other clients, sometimes at higher rates. This is typically during the weekday drive time periods; you probably got an annual rate for your commitment. If the station is willing, you could move into off-peak nighttime buys or weekends. Off-peak hours typically come at a lower cost and can still reach a substantial audience, enabling you to stretch your budget further. Give the station 30 days to see if they can accomplish this, and if not, go to plan ‘B.’

Longer Commitments

Consider committing to a longer-term contract, like a multi-year agreement, to potentially lower your monthly cash commitment. Maybe you could move off $2,000 per month from July to December and move it to the first six months of 2025. Emphasize your dedication to maintaining a consistent advertising presence over time, which can incentivize the radio station to continue the partnership.

Frequency and Unit Length

If the station allows you to reduce the monthly budget, focus on maximizing frequency by strategically choosing the length of ad units. Instead of running only thirty and sixty-second ads, opt for :15 slots to increase frequency without exceeding your budget. Shorter units are more cost-effective per spot and can deliver well-known messages repeatedly.

Budget Reallocation and Trade

Explore avenues for reallocating funds within your annual budget to optimize expenses. For instance, negotiate a reduction in the monthly budget and allocate the saved funds to months where your cash flow is strongest. Having a payment schedule that matches your cash flow will give you the best chance to meet expenses. Furthermore, explore opportunities for service or trade to offset your monthly bill, leveraging resources you have already paid for that may match up well with what the station needs.

Reducing expenses within an annual radio agreement takes a strategic negotiation and budget management approach. Concentrating on pricing, rates, contract length, frequency, and budget reallocation can keep your station relationship intact, honor your contract, and increase cash flow.

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