With the legendary Marv Albert no longer calling NBA games for TNT, that means there is an opening on the lead NBA broadcast crew for the 2021-22 season. One of the people that would be in line to take that position is Ian Eagle, who has called games at Turner Sports since 2010. He even was a sideline reporter for a game back in 1996.
This week, Eagle was on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina. Eagle was asked if the open position is one he wants. He admitted that he thinks about it, but isn’t jumping to any conclusions.
“I think the way these jobs work is they don’t come around all that often. When something opens up and you think you might be a good fit, of course it crosses your mind. But, you also recognize there’s other people that feel the same way,” Eagle told Traina. “With Turner, they’re in a really advantageous position. They have a lot of great broadcasters in their stable. How it all plays out, what the pairings look like, I’m not even sure they’re necessarily going to say this is our A crew, this is our B crew. My goal is to continue and keep working for them and do big NBA games when those are available to me.”
Of course, Eagle is known for being the play-by-play voice for the Brooklyn Nets and calling NFL games for CBS as the voice of the number two crew. If the lead TNT gig were to come up, Eagle looks at balancing all of those jobs as a “jigsaw puzzle”.
“How do you get the pieces to fit together especially when you are juggling a number of balls in the air? For me, I’ve been incredibly fortunate that I’ve had all these opportunities, but I’ve also been able to maintain them because I figure out how to make it work scheduling-wise and I don’t make it a problem for any of those companies. I try to make myself available.”
Eagle has always been grateful for the bosses that he has worked with that have allowed him to do so many things. He cited Michael McCarthy, the then President of MSG Network, being open to Eagle taking a week away from the Nets to call the NCAA Tournament in 1998 on CBS.
McCarthy gave him the green light. In fact, it was due to CBS having most of their announcers at the Winter Olympics and NBA All-Star weekend that Eagle was able to call a college basketball game in February of that year, which led to the opportunity.
“Relationships are really important and fostering them and maintaining them and not taking them for granted. I think for me on a personal level, that’s been a big part of success. It’s not ass kissing. It’s actually finding a commonality and a common bond and doing the work that’s required to maintain the relationship. Staying in touch and checking in and finding where that fine line is of feedback and input and developing a back-and-forth.
“I can’t tell you how many times in the course of my career somebody that was in a position to make a decision that would affect my life fortunately made the decision that benefitted me based on the fact that they trusted me or they believed in me or I had built enough equity in the relationship for them to believe in me. It does take an understanding boss somewhere along the line to see the big picture. Sometimes you do get a boss that doesn’t see it that way and you have to accept that too.”
The old saying in the sports media business is it’s not what you know, but who you know. Due to Eagle being able to maintain those relationships, he has been able to be a part of so many great sporting events.
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at [email protected].
iHeartMedia Ending WEEI Simulcast in Cape Cod
A job opening for a sports talk co-host/producer/programming assistant that says its salary will “be funded by the savings that the market is acquiring from the expiring Audacy/WEEI & Red Sox contracts”.
iHeartMedia is preparing to drop its simulcast of WEEI on its 96.3 WEII-FM signal in Hyannis/Cape Cod.
According to a report from Radio Insight, iHeartMedia has posted a job opening for a sports talk co-host/producer/programming assistant that says its salary will “be funded by the savings that the market is acquiring from the expiring Audacy/WEEI & Red Sox contracts”.
It goes on to state that the contract between the company and Audacy was $300,000 annually and it paid the Red Sox $65,000 annually.
The job posting alleges 96.3 FM will continue to carry sports programming with a local show.
WEEI is currently simulcast on stations in Springfield and Worcester, MA; Providence; and on stations in New Hampshire and Vermont, as well. Earlier this year, the station’s offices in Warwick, Rhode Island closed as part of a cost-cutting measure.
WEII-FM is licensed to Dennis, MA and features a 25,000-watt Class B signal.
97.1 The Fan’s Mike Ricordati Threatened with Removal, Suspension After Refusing to Take Commercial Breaks
“I’m not supposed to talk about what just happened in there, but I will. There’s a chance that I may get a ‘rest’ tomorrow.”
On Saturday, Ohio State suffered its third consecutive defeat to Michigan in one of college football’s biggest rivalry games. The mental effect the loss had has trickled down to local radio hosts, as Mike Ricordati and Jonathan “T-Bone” Smith were nearly pulled off the air Monday.
While discussing the Buckeyes’ loss Monday, Ricordati noted that it was time for the station to take a break, but he was refusing to allow the show to enter commercials.
“I don’t want to take a break. As a matter of fact, I’m not going to take a break,” Ricordati said. “How much are all the ads in this commercial break? If we tallied them all up. I just bought ’em. I’ll buy ’em. I don’t want to play any more commercials today.”
When T-Bone followed up by asking if he was on the hook for paying for half the commercials, Ricordati said the responsibility was his and his alone.
“I’m sorry to put you in this position, but I’m not going to break,” continued Ricoradti. “I’m doing three hours of sitting here, drinking my bourbon, talking to my buddy about how bad I feel. They may take me off the air.”
97.1 The Fan Program Director Matt Fishman — who joined the station in September — then entered the producer’s studio and questioned why Ricordati was taking the stance he was.
“What’s happening?,” Fishman pondered.
“I just don’t want to take the break,” replied Ricordati.
“Ok. ‘I don’t want to eat my vegetables’? Is that what this is now?,” Fishman asked.
“No, I think we’d have a better show today if we just went the whole way through and didn’t take a break,” Ricordati retorted. “I’ll pay for the spots. Take them out of my check.”
“So, I appreciate what you’re trying to do for the fans. I do,” Fishman reiterated, before Ricordati interrupted by saying it isn’t about the fans, it’s about him. “But we do have a business to run,” Fishman continued. “I hate to be that guy. But I’m now that guy.”
Later in the show, Mike Ricordati noted he had received an email from 97.1 The Fan’s parent company — TEGNA — sent him an email telling him he would be removed from the air if he did not take his regularly scheduled commercial breaks.
“We’ll get back on schedule, then,” Ricordati said. “That’s a first. 20 years on the air here. Here’s what’s happening. I’m gonna take a break, I’m gonna go outside, get chewed out by our boss, and I may or may not see you in the next segment.”
Evening host Tim Hall joined the station after Ricordati didn’t make it back to the studio in time from the end of the commercial break after speaking with management.
“I’m not supposed to talk about what just happened in there, but I will,” Ricordati shared. “There’s a chance that I may get a ‘rest’ tomorrow.”
After the confrontation, Mike Ricordati spent the rest of the show taking his regularly scheduled breaks. He took to X Tuesday morning to tell fans that he was “still alive” and employed by the station, saying “Talk to you at 3pm.”
Fred Toucher: 98.5 The Sports Hub is Responsible for 18% of Beasley Revenue
“If you don’t want to own this station, you don’t want to be in radio.”
On the air, Toucher shared that he has been receiving messages from prospective co-hosts looking to state their case as to why they should be considered to fill the position. However, he is not involved in reviewing résumés and conveyed that there is nothing he can do about it. The conversation started when station anchor and reporter Dan Roche asked Toucher if anyone had contacted him to inquire about the role.
“Not to insult anyone, but there have been people that have no background in radio whatsoever who have reached out to me with the sincere belief that they were qualified for the job due to the fact that they like sports, which makes me really think how little people think of this whole medium now,” Toucher said Tuesday morning. “People are just like, ‘Yeah, I like sports. I’ll just come on and do it. Why not? It’s Boston; I’ll just jump on the old Boston morning show and just do whatever I want.’”
At the moment, Fred Toucher is working with a variety of members at the station as the outlet searches for a new permanent co-host and felt bad for making fun of the prospective employees while on the air.
The aspect of the situation that concerns himr is the sentiment being perpetuated from people that anyone is able to work in radio. After the program yesterday, he revealed that he told station staff members that terrestrial radio had recently grossed around $12 billion annually, a figure that was down from the numbers before the COVID-19 global pandemic. In contrast, Fred Toucher asserted that podcasts generate $2 billion and cannot be monetized because of the deluge of different niche programming in the marketplace.
“So what big radio companies said was, ‘Alright, we’re going to acquire all these stations, and what we’re also going to do is move into podcasting,’” Toucher shared, “but what they realized was they couldn’t monetize podcasting.”
Toucher stated that he listens to the Rich Roll Podcast, a wellness program that implements guests from different industries to engage in conversations designed to inform and empower the listening audience to discover their most authentic selves. Although he enjoys the program, he questions how many people want to listen to a spiritual advisor discuss topics such as mindful meditation for two hours.
Within his commentary, he cited iHeartMedia and elucidated how the company has been unable to make any money based on its podcasts. Maintaining a reverence for terrestrial radio and the impact it continues to have within a dynamic media ecosystem is something Toucher seems to hope his next co-host will possess, propounded by depicting a hypothetical scenario symbolizing the mindset referenced therein.
“It’s kind of like picking up a baseball bat and walking into Fenway [Park] like, ‘Throw me a fastball,’” Toucher suggested. “You’ve got to at least intern somewhere or do something.”
At the beginning of the month, Beasley Broadcast Group – the parent company of Beasley Media Group – recorded quarterly net revenue of $60.1 million, which, in the three quarters of its fiscal year, totals $181.4 million. The company, however, reported an operating income loss of $85.5 million for the quarter, something it attributes to the impact of non-cash impairment losses totaling $88.8 million. Its net income finished at a $67.5 million loss, which equates to $81.5 million through its first three fiscal quarters.
Within its quarterly revenue, digital accounted for 18.6% as the company continues to remain focused on attaining its goal of the sector accounting for between 20% and 30% of total revenue. Toucher shared additional information about the role of 98.5 The Sports Hub within those earnings that had not been previously divulged.
“This station is… responsible for like 18% of the revenue for the whole effing company,” Fred Toucher said. “If you don’t want to own this station, you don’t want to be in radio. That’s kind of the thing. If you own The Sports Hub – you just own The Sports Hub; you bought The Sports Hub and you ran it, you’d get an incredible return on your investment.”
Not only is Fred Toucher unaware of the contents of specific résumés, but he is not interested in negotiating deals, an endeavor he claims is above his head. He knows what it takes to succeed in the marketplace and is excited for the next iteration of the program, which is set to be revealed at the beginning of 2024.
“All I can tell you is that it is what it is,” Toucher said. “If you think you’re coming in here and making a ton of money, you’re not. It’s up to them.”