Going to law school changed Amber Wilson’s sports radio career forever. The funny thing, is if you would have told her the first day that would be the case, she would have responded by saying, what sports radio career?
While she was prepping to be an attorney, she never would have guessed her life would take her to sports radio, where, she was a host at 790 The Ticket in Miami for five years and a weekend host on ESPN Radio.
Law school worked out for Wilson. Today, she has a successful law firm with her husband in south Florida. She’s also still doing sports radio, hosting on the weekends on ESPN Radio. Her story is one of those, where, no matter what she did, the universe wouldn’t let her walk away from the microphone.
Wilson is one of the most interesting hosts in the business, because she doubles as an attorney. That benefits her greatly when topics such as Name, Image and Likeness are at the forefront of the conversation, especially since her firm is planning to represent athletes in this new endeavor. It makes her stand out from other hosts. Not just because of her other job title, but because of how law school taught her how to think.
“I think being an attorney ended up helping me tremendously,” said Wilson. “I was in the sports media business for seven years before I decided to go to law school, so I had years without the lawyer experience. When I made the decision to go to law school I wasn’t really expecting it to help me in broadcasting. That wasn’t my goal. My goal was to practice law. But I do think it ended up helping, particularly when it came to sports radio, because they teach you to think differently.
“If you’re a lawyer, you have an ability to see every side of an issue and to take your own emotions and own viewpoints out of it, and sometimes, it can really help you be a lot more interesting in sports radio, where, maybe you can find an angle where people aren’t talking about. It really just gave me a different way of thinking.”
Wilson left 790 The Ticket in June, citing the need to focus more on her law firm. She was initially tasked with filling the vacancy Joy Taylor left behind after her move to Fox Sports. They were big shoes to fill, but she immediately took the reins and showcased her on-air talent.
Wilson did that while battling some of the toughest challenges of her life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to fit the show around her treatments. She even got pregnant, but then learned her mom had brain cancer and her grandmother had lung cancer all in the same week. It felt like an avalanche, but through it all, she was professional and gave it her all every day on the air.
Wilson had an incredible five-year run at the station before stepping down. She still has her weekend show on ESPN Radio, but is more involved with her law firm than ever.
“I feel great about it,” said Wilson. “I loved my time there, like you mentioned, it was the hardest five years of my life on the personal front with my battle with cancer, as well as losing my mother and grandmother and some of the personal stuff I went through. But professionally it was a great five years. It was so much fun. It’s my favorite job I’ve had up to this point. I’ve had a lot of jobs in broadcasting, but we talked about how I was a sports radio nerd, and radio is something I always wanted to do.
“There’s just nothing else like sports radio, where you show up and just shoot the shit with your friends about sports for four hours and joke around and have fun. 790 was great to me, management was great to me through all those personal struggles, as well, and I really enjoyed everyone that I worked with. I really did.”
As an attorney, Wilson mostly deals with professional athletes. Her firm doesn’t release the names of their clients, but she says a lot of people would be surprised by the players they represent. On the air, Wilson takes on the identity of the city she loves the most when it comes to sports radio: Miami
“I’ve been in the Miami area and South Florida for the past 15 years,” said Wilson. “I’ve been really, really influenced, I feel like those are my formative years as an adult, post college. I feel like during those adult years I really tuned into a Miami brand of radio. Certainly, Dan Le Batard and his show. They’re the leaders there with that kind of radio. Generally speaking, that is my favorite type of sports radio, because it mixes entertainment with sports. Sometimes it’s not so sports heavy and I can certainly do a sports heavy type of radio. On other days I want to be entertained like everyone else. I like funny, I like entertainment, I obviously like sports there as well, but I want everything in my sports radio that’s typically the brand that I gravitate towards.”
You can make an argument Miami is one of the most unique sports radio markets in the country. On a sports radio show, it almost seems like the less sports you talk and the more pop culture you infunce, the better. But how did Miami adapt and develop that identity of sports radio?
“I think it’s Dan Le Batard,” Wilson said. “I also think it is a consequence of the market. I think most markets are honestly more like Miami than New York. I think most markets are not necessarily as diehard as like New York and Boston. I think most places you have to be entertaining on sports radio. Miami is an event town and they certainly want entertainment. You’re not going to reel them in if you’re too stiff or too bored. Dan Le Batard recognized that and obviously he is Miami. He really led the way and influenced the rest of us.”
It’s been quite a ride the past 15 years for Wilson, both personally and professionally. What the next 15 years holds is uncertain, but she’s ready to handle anything that comes her way.
“It’s been a heck of a ride so far,” Wilson said. “Certainly not the ride I would’ve predicted, when I was 23 years old entering this business. I’m 38 now and I’ve been in it for quite some time and I would say that I’ve never really gone according to some sort of plan. People always ask me that, like, what do you ultimately want to do? I’ve learned to kind of go with the flow a little more than that over the years. I went to law school and I had the thought of getting out, and then I got sucked back in, and I’m so glad I did.”
“At the end of the day I love it and being a sports broadcaster was always my goal from the time I was a little girl. I do see myself staying on the radio. I have my concerns about the direction of radio in the future, such as, will we all be streaming and podcasting or will radio cease to exist one day? Obviously, everyone has those concerns in the business but I love the format so much it would be awesome if I can continue on this path. I just want to do more and get more opportunities. I want to do it.”
Keeping Premier League Games Shouldn’t Be A Hard Call For NBC
“Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans.”
NBC Sports is facing some tough, costly decisions that will define its sports brand for the rest of this decade. A chance to connect with viewers in a changing climate and grow Peacock’s audience as well. However, making the right choice is paramount to not losing to apps like Paramount+ (pun intended).
NBC is currently in the business of negotiating to continue airing the Premier League as their current deal ends after this 2021-2022 season. NASCAR is contracted to NBC (and FOX) through the 2024 season.
NBC’s tentpole sports are the NFL and the Olympics.
Negotiations for the EPL are expected to go down to the wire. Rather than re-up with NBC, the league is meeting with other networks to drive up the price. NBC has to then make a decision if the rights go north of $2 billion.
Should NBC spend that much on a sport that is not played in the United States? It’s not my money, but that sport continues to grow in the US.
If NBC re-ups with the Premier League, will that leave any coins in the cupboard to re-up with NASCAR? Comcast CEO Brian Roberts hinted that there might be some penny pinching as the prices continue to soar. This may have been one of the reasons that NBC did not fight to keep the National Hockey League, whose rights will be with Disney and WarnerMedia through ESPN and TNT, respectively.
“These are really hard calls,” Roberts said. “You don’t always want to prevail, and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong, but I think the sustainability of sports is a critical part of what our company does well.”
Roberts was speaking virtually at the recent Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference. He told the audience that between NBC and European network Sky, that Comcast has allocated approximately $20 billion towards these sports properties.
Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh spoke virtually at the Bank of America Securities 2021 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference and echoed that the company is in a good position to make some strong choices in the sports realm.
“The bar is really high for us to pursue outright acquisitions of any material size,” Cavanagh added. “We got a great hand to play with what we have.”
While the European investments involve a partnership with American rival Viacom, the US market seems to have apparent limits.
Last Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway was seen by around 2.19 million people. It was the most-watched motorsports event of the weekend. That same week eight different Premier League matches saw over 1 million viewers. More than half of those matches were on subscription-based Peacock.
Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans. A game of typical soccer fan is used to a sport that is less than two hours long. The investment in a team is one or two games a week.
My connection to the Premier League began before the pandemic. When I cut the cord in late 2017, I purchase Apple TV. Setting it up, it asks you to name your favorite teams. After clicking on the Syracuse Orange and the New Jersey Devils, I recalled that my wife has family based in London, England. They are season ticket holders for Arsenal, and that family redefined the word “die-hard” fans.
I’ve long been a believer that sports allegiances are best when handed down by family. I love hearing stories of people loving the New York Giants because their parents liked them, and they pass it down to their children.
I’ve successfully given my allegiance to the Devils to my young daughters.
By telling Apple TV that I liked Arsenal, I get alerts from three different apps when the “Gunners” are playing. The $4.99 is totally worth it to see Arsenal.
Whenever I told this story, I was amazed to see how many other American sports fans had a Premier League team. Students of mine at Seton Hall University rooted for Tottenham Hotspurs, while an old colleague cheers on Chelsea.
This is not meant to say that NBC should sign the EPL on my account. The key for any US-based soccer fan is that between Bundesliga, Serie A, and other leagues, there will be no shortage of soccer available on both linear television and streaming services.
Besides, Dani Rojas did say that “Football is life.” NBC, originator of the Ted Lasso character, should make keeping its Premier League US connection a priority.
Media Noise – Episode 45
Today, Demetri is joined by Tyler McComas and Russ Heltman. Tyler pops on to talk about the big start to the college football season on TV. Russ talks about Barstool’s upfront presentation and how the business community may not see any problems in working with the brand. Plus, Demetri is optimistic about FOX Sports Radio’s new morning show.
6 Ad Categories Hotter Than Gambling For Sports Radio
“Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life.”
For years sports radio stations pushed sports gambling advertisers to early Saturday and Sunday morning. The 1-800 ads, shouting, and false claims were seedy, and some stations wouldn’t even accept the business at 5 am on Sunday.
Now, with all but ten states ready to go all in on sports gambling, sports radio stations can’t get enough of that green. Demetri Ravanos wrote about the money cannon that sports gambling has become for stations. Well, what if you are in one of those ten states where it isn’t likely to ever be legal like California or Texas? Where is your pot of gold?
Or, let’s face it, the more gambling ads you run, the more risk you take on that the ads will not all work as you cannibalize the audience and chase other listeners away who ARE NOT online gambling service users and never will be. So, what about you? Where is your pot of gold?
Well, let’s go Digging for Gold.
The RAB produces the MRI-Simmons Gold Digger PROSPECTING REPORT for several radio formats. In it, they index sports radio listeners’ habits against an average of 18+ Adult. The Gold Digger report looks at areas where the index is higher than the norm – meaning the sports radio audience is more likely to use the product or service than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. The report, generated in 2020, indicates that sports radio listeners are 106% more likely to have used an online gambling site in the last thirty days. That’s impressive because the report only lists 32 activities or purchases a sports radio listener indexes higher than an average adult. I looked at those 32 higher indexes, and I think we can start looking for some gold.
Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life. The gambling companies who commit significant money to get results will continue advertising and chase the others away. So, the future of sports radio needs to include other cash cows.
If it is evident to online sports gambling services that sports radio stations are a must-buy, who else should feel that way? I looked at the Top 32 and eliminated the media companies. ESPN, MLB/NHL/NFL networks, and others aren’t spending cash on sports radio stations they don’t own in general. But Joseph A Bank clothing, Fidelity, and Hotwire should! Here’s your PICK-6 list I pulled together that’s hotter than sports gambling:
- Sportscard collectors, Dapper Labs, Open Sea- read about Sports NFT $.
- Online brokerage firms-Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, Webull, TD Ameritrade
- Golf courses, resorts, equipment, etc.- we play golf at home and vacation
- Hotwire.com, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Carnival Corporation, and Priceline.com- we’ve used Hotwire in the last year.
- FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle-we wired or overnighted $
- Jos. A. Bank, shein.com, macys.com, nordstroms.com- we went to Jos. A. Bank in last three months
The sports card/NFT market is 32% hotter than the sports betting market for sports radio listeners. Everything on the PICK-6 is at least 100% more likely to purchase than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. All listed are at or above indexing strength compared to sports betting. The individual companies I added are industry leaders. Bet on it! Email me for details.
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