Looking forward can be easier said than done. It’s easy to dwell on a divorce instead of focusing on the next relationship. It’s tempting to dwell on a previous job instead of directing your energy toward the next opportunity.
For Mike Golic, he’s shifting his focus to the next challenge, not the previous gig. It does his future no good to replay the end of his ESPN days over and over again. It’s a smart approach. If you drive down the road while only looking through the rear-view mirror, you won’t get anywhere; unless you consider a ditch or T-boning another vehicle to be somewhere. Life works the same way.
This is an exciting time for Golic. The next chapter of his career can go in many different directions. Plus, he doesn’t have to take a job he’s lukewarm about just to keep the cable on. He can pick and choose the projects he wants to dedicate himself toward fully. Golic talks about his passion for calling games and his reluctance to dive back into the local radio scene. He also has some great thoughts about weaving in fun, getting used to hard work, and not letting ego get the best of you. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: I’ve read a couple of interviews you’ve done since leaving ESPN. I’m curious if it’s gotten to a point where you’re like, I’d just rather look forward now.
Mike Golic: Oh yeah, I’ve definitely done my bit of explaining on how it all ended. It’s weird; we just posted the last show on July 31, which is just over a year ago. It was kind of a thing to look back on. But for the most part, yeah, it does me no good to look back. I explained myself a ton out there for people who asked. I have no problem speaking about it but yeah, at this point it’s like okay, what’s next?
The first thing was don’t do anything for a while. Basically have my agent say, don’t want you to hear from me for about six months. That was nice to just sleep in. Now it’s move forward, what’s next? What can I still enjoy? I’m not ready to retire just yet even though I have the gray in the hair and gray in the beard. I’m not ready to just be at home every day.
BN: If it’s sports radio full-time or only play-by-play, do you have a preference if it’s one or the other?
MG: Oh, I can do both. The analyst stuff is always on the weekend. When I first got to ESPN in ‘95, I called games right away and then we started doing NFL 2Night. It’s NFL Live now, but it was NFL 2Night. I was doing that three times a week, and doing a game on the weekend, and I was doing radio out in Phoenix with our mutual buddy Bruce Jacobs. I was actually doing five times a week on the morning show, but I would fly to Connecticut and do some morning shows from there, do three nights a week of NFL 2Night and then travel on weekends to do games. That’s when I was just starting out and doing everything under the sun. I stopped calling games for a while. I stopped because I told ESPN right when my kids got to high school, I was done calling games because I didn’t want to miss any of their stuff. That was my own hiatus on that, which I just picked up the last year. I did it for 10 years before I took a break on games. But I could do both without question. In fact that’s all I’m used to. It’s usually been both together. Whenever I’ve had to call games, I’ve usually had a show that was during all week. I’d have no problem doing that again.
BN: It’s a lot of work, right? Do you think that your playing career helped you move into working seven days a week, and flying here, flying there?
MG: A thousand percent. I told my kids that. I told any young kid I coached really in any sport. Then obviously it pyramided to football especially with my kids. My daughter was a swimmer. Forgetting how hard you work in football, it’s multiplied many times by a swimmer. Swims in the morning, goes to school, works out after school, and then swims again. I mean it’s crazy what they do. I said no matter how far this takes you, you’re going to learn how to budget your time. You’re going to learn sacrifices. You’re going to learn hard work and it’s going to help you.
I think what helped me as well, I was a 10th rounder. This is back when the draft was 12 rounds. Tenth rounders weren’t supposed to make it. I was fortunate enough to play for nine years. Mike was an undrafted free agent. He was on a couple of teams for a couple of training camps, but had to work extra hard. My son Jake and his wife, they own a couple of businesses now. They had to work hard and they had to work obviously through the pandemic. She was an athlete as well. My daughter Sydney, the same way. Hard work doesn’t affect them because they were used to doing it. Without question that helps you later in life.
BN: Would doing local radio be appealing to you at all?
MG: Umm, I don’t know. I’ve done national for so long, I don’t know because having a place here in South Bend and having a place in Scottsdale and knowing we like both places, I’m one of those guys, I like to be where work is. When I played football in the offseason I stayed in that city. Obviously at ESPN I lived in Connecticut where ESPN is. If I’m splitting time around the country in a couple of different spots and doing local but not living local, I wouldn’t like that. If I did local, I would need to stay in that area to get the feel of that area, to go to the games in that area and be part of it. Quite honestly you’ve got to dive a lot deeper.
When I was doing local in Phoenix, you’ve got to dive deep into the local teams in the community, where national you’re hitting more of the bigger stories and not diving as deep. Local is a lot more in-depth. If I were ever to do local, I would need to live there. I couldn’t imagine living somewhere else and doing local in the city I wasn’t in to sort of feel that city. So I doubt it.
BN: What’s something besides not having to wake up at the crack of dawn that you haven’t missed with this down time right now?
MG: That I haven’t missed. That’s a good question. Really it would probably just be the timeframe because I love doing it. Think about it, I got to talk sports. Now sometimes in the offseason the tougher times in June and July once basketball ended, you had a lot of that down time before football started up, those were always tough. Then it was who’s the Mount Rushmore of the NBA, who’s the Mount Rushmore of the NHL, who’s your top-10 list? It’s a great list time or let’s reminisce about old jingles. That’s kind of wacky radio stuff. But for the most part, I do miss it. I loved it.
Getting up sucked, but once you start going and getting to the studio and everybody is there, I loved it. There wasn’t much I haven’t missed outside of that 4:15 alarm, which I swore every single morning. Every time 4:15 hit, I had a bad word come out of my mouth.
BN: I bet. It probably wasn’t “goodie, 4:15!” [Laughs] I’m sure you’re supporting your son while he’s doing his show on ESPN. Is it awkward at all when you listen to the network knowing you were there for so long?
MG: No, I’m past that. I equate a lot of things to sports. My first two and a half years in the league, I was with the Oilers. I got cut and I went to the Eagles. I didn’t sit around watching the Oilers play going oh God, I was there. And then when I left the Eagles to go to the Dolphins, I didn’t sit around and reminisce about my Eagle days. I played with the Dolphins. You just move on.
Obviously it was a little weird at first knowing I did a show there for so long and then all of a sudden there’s other people doing that show. But my son had been there already for a few years before me, him, and Trey were doing that morning show. I had been used to seeing him on air and calling games and doing all the digital work. So it was no different.
BN: When you look back on your time on air, what’s something you either learned from someone else or learned on your own along the way that helped you get to another level?
MG: I think the biggest thing that I needed to work on was — because I was a professional athlete, and you know this, when you’re going to ask somebody a question a lot of times you kind of know what the answer is going to be. For me it was as I asked the question, I gave my opinion about the subject. I learned and I was told and I really tried to do this is the interview is not about you. I have four hours to do a show. I can explain my opinion many times. Let the guest say what they’re going to say. Then if you have a back and forth with them, fine. To drill this down is keep your questions short. Who, what, where, when, why. Keep it short; give them their time to answer. Instead of me asking a question, and then I make a statement, and then I asked the question again, and then I continue to make a statement — they’re sitting there going, is there a question in there? What are we doing? That took me a while because I would catch myself doing it. I just needed to shut the hell up, ask the question I wanted to ask, and give them their time to answer.
BN: Who told you that?
MG: There was a guy that came through ESPN that went over questions, what to ask, how to ask them, and I could only make it for one day. He would have seminars and I remember making it to one day, but that was the one day he really talked about it. It really kind of stuck with me. I would put a card in front of me at times that said short questions. Who, what, where, when, why. Then I would just try and remember that.
There were times I failed and went back the other way especially early on. We’d have listening sessions. You listen to a segment and you’d hear yourself. Man when you hear it, it’s like watching tape of me playing football and I see the mistake and go oh my God, how did I do that? You hear yourself and you sit there and time it and go, hey great job, 48-second question. You don’t need a 48-second question because I’m giving my own opinion. Just get the question out there and let them answer.
BN: What’s the most fun that you’ve had in your radio career?
MG: The most fun I ever had on radio was when it was there organically. You can set up things in a segment where you’re going to go that could lead to fun. You have a plan. But quite honestly the best radio is when you go off that plan organically. You just go to something else and the next thing you know you’re laughing your ass off, you’re having a ball, and it’s coming out of the speakers that way.
My thought process in the morning because people are driving to work, was maybe I can take you where you can’t go, I can take you into a pro athletes’ head, I can take you into their locker room, I can take you onto the field of any sport because as pro athletes you have that mentality, and can I make you laugh a little bit. If I can make you smile and chuckle a little bit on your way to work, I feel like I did my job. So to me the best part of radio is when you went off course and that turned out to be the most fun.
BN: I call it grown-up stuff in radio that you have to execute — keep it moving, reset, don’t stray off topic too much. Do those things sometimes get in the way of having fun?
MG: No, once you learn how to incorporate it, like anything else you knew you had to do things and sometimes you were like oh hell, I’ve got to do this and it took you off course of what you wanted to do. In doing the show for 20-some years I got used to understanding that you’ve got to do those things. Weave them into the show while still maintaining the fun, while still not slamming on the proverbial brakes so I can do this and then getting back to what we were talking about. You’ve got to be able to weave it.
A lot of that just came with time. Time, experience, doing it, and quite honestly at the end not giving a shit if I got it wrong.
I’m not perfect. I’ll never have a perfect show. I think there’s a lot of that where you just do your thing and if you make a mistake, you make it. Laugh at yourself while other people laugh at you, laugh with them and move on.
BN: The Notre Dame football telecast hasn’t had many ND grads on there. Is that strange to you at all?
MG: It’s something that they do. For whatever reason they don’t want an ND grad in the booth. They probably feel they’ll be a homer. Maybe. I guess. I’ve done Notre Dame games in the past for ESPN and I would have no problem not being a homer.
Listen I love Notre Dame. I want Notre Dame to win all of their games, but I called one last year when they played at Georgia Tech. I called one when they played Air Force years ago. I had no problem doing that. But it’s not my rule. I don’t know how much of a hard, fast rule it is for them, but I know that has been something they have somewhat lived by.
We’ve had Boston College guys in there in Flutie, and Tony Dungy in there, and now a Purdue guy in Drew Brees. I’m like wait a minute, man, I’m a Domer. Let’s get a Domer in there a little bit. But I don’t get to make those decisions because I would love to do that, sure.
BN: If you were able to write out the next five years of what you were doing, what would that look like for you ideally?
MG: When I say calling games, I don’t care if it’s radio, TV, college, pro, I just love calling games. For this year at least some of it’s going to be with Learfield. It’s going to be college games. I did a thing for them last year, The Fan Exam, kind of a sports trivia for college. I’ve gotten to know those people. They’re getting a Saturday night game of the week and it worked out where I’m going to do that. I look forward to it. A full slate of college games hopefully, fingers crossed, we’re all traveling and going back out to colleges again. The script for me for the next five years would at the very least, at the very least, do college games and pro games. It would be calling games for sure.
Other than that, like I said if an opportunity arises for an everyday radio show, we’ll see. Podcast situations have come about. I’m still talking to people. We’ll see what goes on with that. I may have a fun little thing that I don’t have inked yet that has nothing to do with a sport; it’s more of a travel type of a thing that’s fun. It would be a lot of fun, which now that I’m not tied to one place like I was at ESPN I can do. Something like that. We’ll see if that turns out. That’s the beauty of it is I can kind of pick and choose now. But the constant for me would be calling games.
BN: This just randomly popped into my head; Tom Brady recently mentioned that a couple of teams were interested in him last year, and then they weren’t. He said if you had a chance to get Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky, I’m kind of scratching my head why you wouldn’t do that. If you apply that thought to you, you’re a big deal in radio. Have you ever had a moment where you’re like okay random company, I’m available and you’re not interested in me?
MG: Going in the 10th round, and basically there were maybe three years of my nine-year career where I felt very comfortable going into the season that I was going to be on the team and playing. Other than that I was kind of fighting and scratching to be on the team. Does your ego think about that and you say boy I wish this person or this network would contact me? What am I going to do? I’m not one of those that lives in the past about it. If they don’t, then I just move on to somebody who does. I’m fine with that.
Does everybody have an ego and would love the networks to give you their top spot? Well sure, but that’s unrealistic as well. My career has gone pretty well but that certainly doesn’t give me any expectation that the network is going to say, oh we’re plugging you for our number one guy, here you go, we’re bumping whoever. You know what? It’s not going to work that way for me. I know that. So I never expect 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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