If you ask Elle Duncan how she feels about her NFL Draft assignment this week, she’ll likely respond with those two words. Sure, she already has her dream job at ESPN, but this week presents an opportunity that could be likened to a bucket list sports media assignment. She gets to co-host Get Up on Thursday and Friday and then co-host live NFL Draft coverage on ESPN Radio.
The best part about it? Duncan gets to anchor and co-host with Kevin Negandhi, who’s not only her partner on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, but also one of her best friends.
“Kevin and I were approached about a geeked out opportunity to host the NFL Draft on the radio, which is so significant,” said Duncan. “Not many people know I did radio for eight years, so it was just a really cool opportunity to do radio with Kevin. We’ve done tons of TV shows together but we’ve only done a couple of radio shows together. It’s really cool and unique to do what we do on television and sort of put it in a radio environment with a great group of people around us.”
Negandhi views this opportunity to discuss and give live updates to the greatest reality show on TV. When you consider all the excitement, twists, turns and great stories that come from the NFL Draft, it’s hard to disagree.
Alongside Duncan and Negandhi will be NFL Front Office Insider Mike Tannenbaum, ESPN Radio’s Bart Scott and reporter Ian Fitzsimmons.
“We’re going to see it basically play out in front of us and Elle and I get a chance to react to it,” said Negandhi. “One of the things Elle and I love to do in the 6:00 pm SportsCenter show is react. We got into the business because we’re passionate fans and when we can, go back and forth providing information and knowledge. We can have our opinion but then we’re backed up with smart people like Mike Tannenbaum, Bart Scott and Ian Fitzsimmons. We’re not like the game managers, but at the same time, we want to make sure everyone jumps in and everything flows well.”
Duncan did radio in Atlanta from age 20 to age 32. She was at 790 The Zone in Atlanta, before transitioning to hip hop at V103, which has previously been voted as the No. 1 Urban Station in the Country. Duncan also did pre, post and halftime shows on the Atlanta Falcons Radio Network.
Negandhi did basketball play-by-play at his college radio station. He was also a sports producer at 610 WIP in Philadelphia, rounetly fielding angry calls from Eagles fans in the late 90’s. During his stint at ESPN, he filled in for Scott Van Pelt with Ryan Russillo.
So it’s not like the decision makers in Bristol are just throwing two SportsCenter anchors on the radio, giving them a former GM, a former player and a reporter and wishing them good luck, both Negandhi and Duncan know how to conduct a sports radio show.
But that’s not the biggest reason why they’ll be a success on Thursday and Friday night. The main reason why it’ll be compelling radio is the same reason that makes any great show – chemistry.
Negandhi and Duncan respect each other. More importantly, they really like each other and know how to feed off one another. Those factors make me strongly believe they’ll provide unbelievable commentary and entertainment during the NFL Draft.
“Oh yeah, especially when we don’t have a script and have no idea what’s going to happen next,” Negandhi said. ”She’s going through heartbreak with her Broncos and I’m going through heartbreak with my Eagles. So as that continues as a storyline entering the conversation in the Top 10, I can rely on Elle when it comes to anything with the Broncos and even her background with the Falcons, because she’s from there and knows the history. I think that’s the great thing about trusting each other, when we pepper each other, we all know the end goal, which is, what’s best for the audience? I think radio is the best of all those worlds coming together for something that’s a live event.”
If the duo were on the live set of SportsCenter, you could go off-cuff a little and complain about your team, but for the most part, it would be kept extremely short due to the structure of a television show. However on radio, Negandhi’s frustrations with the Eagles and Duncan’s frustrations with the Broncos will be on full display.
“Is that a nice way of saying, are you going to show your ass, now?” laughed Duncan. “Yes if we draft another tight end I’m going to lose it. Honestly, in my opinion as someone who’s done both, I think it’s a lot easier to have natural chemistry with someone on radio, because it’s much more conducive to having just a conversation with friends. Everyone that’s involved with this broadcast is just going to sit around and talk about football. You can do cues to each other on radio that you can’t get away with on television. The chemistry we have on television is going to be exponentially greater in a situation like radio, because it’s set up that way.”
It’s really easy to root for these two, because they’re both such likeable people. When you throw in the fact they genuinely care about each other’s success, you can see why so many people in Bristol are rooting for them on both Get Up and ESPN Radio this week. Regardless of what happens, ESPN knows what they have on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter show with Duncan and Negandhi. What they have is a team that could represent a generational TV show for many years to come.
But what exactly is happening to make it work so well?
“Because we’re good friends and we trust each other,” said Negandhi. “We know each other’s space and there’s no ego. The show is always the priority. I think we carry each other with the same respect, that I want to do well and I want you to do well. When you have that type of relationship and you can trust each other, you can take chances and risks because you know your partner has your back.”
“What I enjoy about Kevin is, first, he has my back,” said Duncan. “That’s the most important thing. You have to have each other’s back. I am only interested in what’s best for the show and we’re all like-minded in that we all have the common goal of putting on the best television. I really like Kevin as a person. He’s a great, family man and we’re both in very similar situations in that we’ve reached our dream job. We’ve worked hard to get here, we love what we do but it doesn’t define us as people. I love that we’re both in similar places in our life.”
You can catch Duncan and Negandhi, April 29th and 30th on Get Up, from 8-10 a.m. EST and ESPN Radio during all the action of the NFL Draft.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.