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Jim Lampley Thought He Had Come To The End Of The Road

“I was surprised that anybody could arrive at that business position, looking at the history of HBO as a network and what boxing had meant to the development of its identity and its relationship to the audience and decide that that was something that they didn’t want to do.”



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Jim Lampley has been synonymous with big-time boxing for over 30 years as the preeminent play-by-play voice at HBO Sports. After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, Lampley is back calling prizefights. This time, it is not on cable or even the standard pay-per-view.  Like 35% of US households, he’s joined a streaming service.

Enter Triller.  Not Thriller.  (Yes, I made that mistake a couple of times already this week.)  

Triller Fight Club - TFC | Boxing Promoter | Tapology

Triller is a short-form video app used by musicians, celebrities, athletes, and overall culture setters—has more than 300 million users worldwide.

“HBO was the top of the pyramid in terms of the prestige of the fighters and the fights that we were bringing to the public,” Lampley said in an upcoming appearance on my Sports with Friends podcast. “So, it was a privilege to have that particular ringside position. If you were calling fights in the 80s, 90s, 00s, the teens as I was, and you wanted to be in the best possible place to call the fights. That was HBO.”

When Time Warner was sold to AT&T in 2018, HBO Boxing was not a priority anymore.  The program was shuttered on December 8, 2018.

Time Warner has since been sold again in a merger with Discovery Media.

“I didn’t have a, a television sports commentary job anymore,” Lampley noted. “And I did not know at that moment, whether I would, at some point in the future ever have a television sports commentary job, it was quite possible to me that that was the end of the road.”

After more than three decades in network television, and nearly 30 of them as host of HBO’s flagship World Championship Boxing franchise, Lampley is one of America’s most renowned and respected broadcasters and journalists.

Courtesy: German Villasenor

He called ALL the big fights from March 1988 until December 2018.  He called Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas in 1990, and the :91 second Tyson victory over Michael Spinks. 

It wasn’t just Tyson.  Lampley called the bouts between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe and Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, the remarkable 45-year-old George Foreman’s victory over Michael Moorer in 1994, to the long-awaited showdown between Lennox Lewis and Tyson in 2002. 

After all that success, Lampley was surprised that HBO did not continue with boxing in 2018.

“I was surprised that anybody could arrive at that business position, looking at the history of HBO as a network and what boxing had meant to the development of its identity and its relationship to the audience and decide that that was something that they didn’t want to do,” Lampley explained. “They didn’t, it was kind of shocking to me, but on the other hand, at that moment, I had been lucky enough. It’s all luck.”

“It is an honor and a privilege to welcome the preeminent voice in boxing, Jim Lampley, to Triller Fight Club,” Triller creator Ryan Kavanaugh said. “We will blend all the best elements of music, entertainment, and sports, and there is no one better to help lead our broadcasts for fans of all ages than Jim.”

Before hiring Lampley, Triller has been compared favorably to other short-form apps like Snapchat and TikTok. Having long-form programming vaults Triller into a different stratosphere.

Since Lampley started with HBO in 1988, combat sports have seen a change as boxing now shares the entertainment stage with Mixed Martial Arts and Ultimate Fighting.  Lampley stressed that his deal with Triller will be to call traditional boxing matches.

“It doesn’t mean that I have any antagonism for the popularity or the rise of those other sports,” he mentioned. “Most of the people I have encountered who are fans of NMA are also fans of boxing. I do understand that there’s some segregation and there are some people who just like MMA and don’t want to see boxing. So that’s going to go on for quite a while. “

Still, Lampley sees no place for fights with YouTube stars.

Triller Fight Club: Jake Paul v Ben Askren
Courtesy: Al Bello/Getty Images for Triller

As 35% of the US householders have cut the cord and use streaming services over cable and broadcast television, Lampley is quite willing to embrace new technology.  He does think the toxicity of social media has gotten out of hand.

“Will social media destroy civilization?” he asked. “I don’t think I have seen a more perverse societal influence in my lifetime than social media. I can’t begin to tell you how abhorrent I find social media and its effects on everything from social relationships to race relations, to gender relations, to politics, etc. 

He said Floyd Mayweather’s recent exhibition with YouTube’s Jake Paul crossed a line. “This was yet another example of the degree to which social media can destroy conventional boundaries, cheapened values, and pretty much obliterate the conventional meaning of a lot of things in the society. Everybody with a brain knows that Floyd Mayweather had no chance to prove anything against this YouTube guy with no boxing background. Why did people pay anything to see it?”

The full interview will be released on Sports with Friends on Wednesday, June 16th. Lampley makes his Triller debut Saturday, June 19th at Miami’s loanDepot park, which will feature both men’s and women’s undisputed world title fights for the first time. Headlining the event, ‘The Takeover’ Teófimo López, will defend his Undisputed Lightweight World Titles (IBF, WBC, WBO, WBC, RING) for the first time against ‘Ferocious’ George Kambosos Jr.

We covered a lot of ground in our conversation. Lampley was the first host on the first day for the first 24-hour all-sports radio station, when he hosted WFAN’s first show in 1987.  He also called 14 separate Olympic Games for multiple networks.  We discussed his thoughts on the upcoming Tokyo games as well.

Jim Lampley , 1984 Summer Olympics | 1984 summer olympics, Summer olympics,  Olympics
Courtesy: Spa

Lampley is planning to bring his countless stories to his own podcast soon.  It was incredibly fun to ask him about his various movie roles, where he played himself.  While I marveled at Creed, he says Ocean’s Eleven was his favorite film.

BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 44



This week’s episode is all about the NFL. Demetri explains why the league embracing kids is long overdue, Andy Masur stops by to breakdown the first Manningcast, and Ryan Maguire explains why some sports radio stations are missing a golden opportunity to shine on Sundays.

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BSM Writers

Interviews Thrive On Podcasts In A Way They Can’t On Radio

“Opportunities that a podcast creates open doors to audio that is simply superior to live radio.”



Live radio vs. podcasts seems to be a heavyweight fight that isn’t ending anytime soon.  Podcasts are growing so much that companies that do radio are also now offering podcasts. This column is hardly about that fight. 

Instead, this is about how a podcast interview is a better way to get the best out of the guest than anything live on a radio station. This is not about downloads or clicks or sponsors. Solely about the content that is being produced.

A podcast makes the guest more comfortable and is more intimate than a live radio show.  Especially in sports.

Since 2015, I have hosted and produced 656 podcasts (yes it was fun to count them) and hosted many radio shows. My current shows are called Sports with Friends, Hall of Justice, and Techstream. That last one I host with tech expert Shelly Palmer.

On radio, there is a myriad of things the host has to do besides focus on the guest.

First, there are the IDs. Program directors have always told me ID the guest every chance I get. “We are talking with Eli Manning on WFAN,” is heard 7 times during an eight-minute segment.

On a podcast, the name of the guest is on the player or app that is playing the podcast. “Episode 1. Eli Manning, New York Giants” scrolls across smartphones, car radios, or other devices constantly.  Never interrupt the guest with an ID.

Then, there’s the fact that it is recorded and not live. I have a standard preamble that I say to any guest before any record light turns on.

“I will push,” I explain. “I will see where the conversation takes us, but I do tend to push. However, I’m on your side. This isn’t some expose’. If something comes up that you don’t like your answer, tell me. I’ll take it out. If there’s something that I say that is bad or wrong, tell me, I’ll take it out. This is a conversation, not an interview.”

In 656 podcasts, only one player, Bryce Harper (then of the Washington Nationals) asked me to take something out of a podcast.

We were doing Episode 54 of Sports with Friends when the subject of Dusty Baker came up.  He had just been hired to manage the Nationals. I mentioned in passing that Dusty had given the eulogy at my best friend Darryl Hamilton’s funeral.

Bryce was so intrigued that he recalled the comments I had made and asked if we could pause. We then spoke for a good 10 minutes about the kind of person Dusty was. Why Darryl held him in such regard.  It was a really inciteful chat.  Never was on the podcast.

Still, guests do relax when told that the editing option exists. They let their guard down. The host of a podcast can ask deeper questions.

“Who was the first person you called when you found out you were traded?”

“Have you seen a life for you after football?”

“How much do you hate a certain player?”

All questions, that if asked live, could seriously backfire. So not only does the guest have a guard up, but the interviewer also has to play it relatively safe, when they are not IDing the guest for the umpteenth time.

Time constraints also don’t exist in a podcast where they are beholden on live radio. The guest is just about to tell you they did cocaine during the World Series, and you are up against the clock.

ShinStation - Game Over - #017 - Wrap it Up - YouTube
Courtesy: Comedy Central

I have hosted shows over the years where the guest was phenomenal, but I screwed up the PPM clock. That was the takeaway.  The clock is important on a live medium that needs to get that quarter-hour.

I try to keep my podcasts short. You wouldn’t see it from looking at the lengths of my episodes. Still, I feel that if someone wants to talk and dive into a topic and it goes a little long, I will never cut the guy off.

Ken Griffey Jr. spoke for 45 minutes with a cigar and his feet up on the phone by his pool. He was telling jokes and stories. I wouldn’t have stopped that if a train was coming. When I hosted Mariner content at KJR in Seattle, our interviews usually last 5 minutes.

Jon Morosi broke down the future of clubhouse access and how he traveled during Covid. Then he told an amazing story of his wife working in the medical field and how that impacted all of his family. Shannon Drayer of 710 KIRO got so in-depth in her arduous journey from being a coffee barista to the Mariners on-field reporter. It was split into two episodes.

Former porn star Lisa Ann talked about her decision to quit the business. Even Jason Barrett himself was Episode 173 of Sports with Friends.

(When in the past has Jason Barrett been in the same paragraph as a porn star? Note to Demetri: please leave it in.)

The radio industry is seen to be cutting costs wherever it can. Mid-market stations are not doing night shows anymore, instead offering nationally syndicated programming. 

Weekends are another avenue that perplexes me. Talent that is not deemed good enough to be on during the week is often given weekend shifts. Also, some Monday-Friday hosts add a weekend shift to their duties. Here’s a theory: play podcasts. Format them to hit your PPM time marks. 

They don’t have to be my podcasts, but in the crowded podcast space, surely there are sports talk podcasts that are intimate, deep, and fun. Since we live in a data-driven age, let’s see how a radio station fares playing high-quality podcasts or portions of them, vs. weekend hosts.

Program directors often worry about the outdated nature of a podcast. That sells the podcaster short. As someone who has been in the podcast space since 2003, I know how to make them timeless, and companies make shows often enough, that rarely would they be outdated.  

Quality shines through the speakers.  The spoken-word audio format is continually evolving. Opportunities that a podcast creates open doors to audio that is simply superior to live radio.

How to Start a Podcast: Podcasting for Beginners - Podcasting

The podcast industry is continually evolving.  Radio needs to evolve as well.  Then, it can be a fair fight.

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BSM Writers

National Voices Can Work For Local Clients

“Distance, like absence, can make the heart grow fonder.”



Selling personalities is one of the hottest trends in media today. Sure, most of the buzz is around social media influencers, but radio has long had a relationship with its audience based on personal connections between host and listener. And nobody has a better relationship with their audience than a sports radio host.

I am sure you are leveraging your local hosts by now. Live spots, testimonials, remotes, and promotions are all great tricks of the trade, as well as sponsored social media posts. But does your station carry syndicated shows? I am sure you do either from 7 pm-12 am Monday-Friday or on weekends.

In 2018, The Ticket in Boise, Idaho brought CBS Sports Radio host Damon Amendolara and his co-host, Shaun Morash, to town for a Boise State football game. Damon had just switched to mornings from evenings, and his show aired in Boise from 4 am-8 am Monday – Friday. His ratings were decent, but nothing that stood out considering the daypart. It was thought to be risky to sell him into sandwich shops, pizza places, appearances at local legend hangouts, and so forth.

Boise State head football coach and QB Bryan Harsin and Brett Rypien did a live shot on the show from the on-campus bookstore. At dark thirty. It all worked. DA and Morash were hits! Everywhere they went, lines and crowds awaited them and they hit spots in a two-county area.  The few days of appearances worked so well that DA is back in Boise three years later, this time for a week. Now, DA is doing his show from resort hotels 2.5 hours away, taking riverboat adventure fishing trips in Hell’s Canyon, craft beer tours for his sidekick Andrew Bogusch and hosting college football viewing parties at brewpubs. Every station that carries syndicated shows probably has a DA success story waiting to happen. 

Start by listening to the shows, know the benchmarks and quirks of the national personalities or call the affiliate rep and ask. Does the talent discuss their love of beer, BBQ, pizza, whatever? If they do, then go ahead and sell them to a local client. The national talent can do the spot and endorse your client. If it’s a product, send one to them. Figure out how to get them a pizza. If it’s a service, do a zoom call with the client and let them start a relationship. Include some social media elements with video. The video can be used in social media and can sit on the client’s website. Yours too!

If you want to bring the talent to town, do it for a big game, local event, or 4th of July parade, and the sponsors will follow. Run a promo during the talent’s daypart asking local sponsors to text in to reserve their promotional spot. Have the talent cut liners asking the same thing. Take the NFL Sunday morning host and sell a promo to a sports bar where the host zooms in to a table or room full of listeners, and they watch a portion of a game together. Or sell the same idea to a national chain and do an on-air contest for a listener to have a home watch party with the zoomed-in host complete with food and beverages from your sponsors sent to both locations. How about sending your #1 BBQ joint that handles mail orders and sends some food for the talent? They can videotape themselves reheating the BBQ and make some great Facebook and Instagram videos.  

Distance, like absence, can make the heart grow fonder. Try selling a nationally syndicated host inside your market. I promise you’ll like it. 

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