Sports Radio News
Don Martin: Pandemic Brought The Best Out Of Petros & Money
“While other fish were out there flipping and flopping not knowing what to do for content, the two of you shone like a north star in our business.”
It was incontrovertibly an unparalleled four-and-a-half months devoid of live sporting events at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, one that left sports fans fervently searching for something new to follow on a day-to-day basis. Sports networks, including ESPN, had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to reconstruct their programming to continue bringing in ratings and revenue. Most notably for “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” the 10-part documentary chronicling Michael Jordan’s career and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, “The Last Dance,” was moved up from June to April, and, partly due to the abeyance of new content, was the number one program in television since mid-March. Additionally, it averaged approximately 5.6 million viewers per episode, making it the most watched ESPN documentary of all time.
Aside from the odyssey sports fans found refuge in the early stages of the pandemic, they also sojourned in international and niche sports, such as the Korean Baseball League and Formula One Racing. Many networks also showed replays of iconic contests from over the years in baseball, basketball and hockey, engendering a nostalgic catharsis on a mission to make satiable the unquenchable thirst sports fans had.
Tuesday afternoon, The Petros and Money Show on AM 570 LA Sports in Los Angeles harkened back to these uncertain, melancholic times, and how their show, centered on sports talk, was able to withstand these hardships and have a successful stretch on the air in their segment, “Top Story of the Day.”
“Today’s top story is reminiscent of something that we did at the beginning of that stretch of what our boss Don Martin called ‘Maybe the best two months of The Petros and Money Show I have ever had the great honor of listening to,’” divulged Matt “Money” Smith, co-host of the afternoon program and current play-by-play announcer for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers on KFI AM 640. Speaking from the perspective of the Senior Vice President of Premier Radio Network, Fox Sports Radio, and LA iHeartMedia Don Martin, Smith continued: “While other fish were out there flipping and flopping not knowing what to do for content, the two of you shone like a north star in our business.”
Indeed, AM 570 LA Sports ratings’ improved in June 2020, with the station gaining a tenth-of-a-point in Nielsen PPM numbers in a time where live sports had come to a halt. Utilizing the aspects of showmanship and entertainment embedded within the nascent being of sports radio, The Petros and Money Show finished ninth in the 2020 Barrett Sports Media list of Top 20 Major Market sports radio afternoon shows presented by Steve Stone Voiceovers.
“We asked the question — as baseball and basketball and hockey was all shut down [sic] — would you watch NASCAR?; Would you watch the truck series?; Would you watch golf?,” said Smith. “Would you watch these sports that you were never interested in your sporting fandom life before because it was the only thing that was on?”
Fast-forward to October 26, 2021 — Matt “Money” Smith began to ponder over that same question the sports world answered for itself last year in his monologue, contextualizing it in the terms of the current state of sports in Los Angeles.
“I’m trying to figure out if the Dodgers, who were overwhelming favorites to win the World Series at the start of the year, [have caused too much emotional distress for] Los Angeles sporting fans… to immediately shift their sporting focus to what is now available,” said Smith. “Will they support the 1-4-1 Kings? Will they support the old-ass Lakers, who seemingly lose a player a day? Will they get into NFL football; the Rams are 6-1, a game back [of] the best record in the NFC; the Chargers are 4-2, a game back [of] the best record in the AFC.”
In a city full of sports and entertainment stars, such as LeBron James, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Kawhi Leonard, Aaron Donald, Anthony Davis, Drew Doughty and an innumerable amount of others, everyone has begun to wonder who is satisfying the craving for live sports in Los Angeles. As a play-by-play announcer and radio broadcaster, Smith knows that those in his field can become quite emotionally invested in the teams they cover, much like a fan, to try to propagate the conversation, and ultimately the focus of Los Angeles sports fans, to their specific team.
“We get excited about our assignments — we get involved,” explained Smith. “We want you to watch; we want you to be entertained; we hope we’re a part of a product that you find to be to your liking.”
Smith’s fascination with the inherent fandom of those who cover the team, such as LA Clippers studio host and co-host of “UCLA Health Zone” Adam Auslund, whose Twitter feed during games contains many creative pseudonyms for Clippers players, including forward Isaiah Hartenstein and guard Luke Kennard.
“I envision him with a number two pencil and a yellow legal pad,” divulged Smith, “and he has each player’s name and [is] working through these nicknames he’s going to put out in the Twitterverse.”
Long story short — having live sports back as a constant in everyday life has stimulated new modes of thought for broadcasters, fans, reporters and others about which sports they consume and how much they support each team. On a “Tu Hermano Tuesday,” Matt “Money” Smith, in conversation with co-host Petros Papadakis, assuredly renewed a conversation that will endure for many months and years to come as the sports media world enters a “new normal” in all aspects of the industry.
Derek Futterman is a contributing editor and sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Sports Radio News
Jay Williams Calls Listener, Forces Him To Pay Their $1000 Lakers Bet
“Don’t get me on national TV and radio and then not pick up the phone when I call.”
If you owe Jay Williams money, he is going to find you. Just ask Rob, a listener in Orlando who bet the ESPN Radio morning man that the Lakers would advance to the NBA Finals.
Last week, Rob called Keyshawn, JWill and Max and bet Williams $1000 the Lakers would eliminate the Denver Nuggets. Williams said if that happened, he would pay Rob $1500.
Obviously, that is not the way things played out. On Tuesday morning, Jay Williams called Rob demanding payment.
“He owes me my money,” he said. “So you know what we do? We got Detective Pat on the call today. Pat, let’s give this man a call. See if this guy picks up, trying to run away from giving me my money.”
The show’s associate producer Patrick Costello called the number Rob left last week. On the first attempt, the listener did not pick up. Williams vowed to keep up the pressure on social media and national radio and television until he got paid.
“Don’t get me on national TV and radio and then not pick up the phone when I call.”
“You know, getting that money is a wrap, Jay,” Keyshawn Johnson said through laughter. “I told you that.”
The show made one more attempt to connect with Rob before having to turn things over to Greeny. This time, the Lakers fan picked up and acknowledged that he had to pay. He offered to make a donation in Williams’s name.
“I’ll send you my bank account here privately, and then I will send it to the charity of my choice,” Williams agreed.
Rob agreed to the arrangement. Williams asked him if he wanted to apologize for doubting the basketball analyst’s prediction of the Lakers’ demise.
“Apologize? I need the Lakers to apologize to me after that performance,” Rob said. “Because Jesus Christ, that was horrible. That was bad.”
Sports Radio News
Stoney & Jansen on LeBron James Retirement Talk: ‘NBA Needs Offseason Stories’
“I think we pick and choose with him. I think I’ve been too hard on him and I’m kind of realizing that.”
As the Los Angeles Lakers exited the court after being swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals on Monday night, a grim reality set in across the basketball world regarding the future of forward LeBron James. Widely regarded as one of the best players to ever suit up, James is the NBA’s all-time scoring leader, a 19-time All Star selection, four-time MVP, and four-time NBA champion.
During his postgame media availability on Monday, he stated that he had to seriously think about his future, undoubtedly referencing retirement. James just completed his 20th season in the Association and continues to play at a high level, but is going to think about walking away from the game after falling short of the NBA Finals this year.
“He’s been a pretty good soldier for the game,” said Tom Milikan, morning show producer and assistant program director at 97.1 The Ticket. “There’s been some things I haven’t agreed with him [on] that he’s liked or tweeted or whatever. I think he’s had some ignorance, but I think that applies to every single athlete out there that’s great.”
Throughout his NBA career, James has been the subject of criticism. The ESPN special he participated in titled The Decision saw him reveal he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat. He is also a frequent subject across the network’s programming, including on Get Up, First Take and NBA Today.
“I think we pick and choose with him,” Millikan said. “I think I’ve been too hard on him and I’m kind of realizing that.”
Show co-host Mike Stone read messages from the 97.1 The Ticket text line during the show, many of which criticized James for being a “flopping” player desperate for any semblance of attention since he will not be in the NBA Finals. One text suggested his revelation of weighing retirement was done intentionally, surmising that he has a film documentary crew around him and coming back stronger than ever would make for a great story.
“The league needs some offseason stories,” Millikan said. “From what I know, the free agency class is not all that great this year – and one of the big names is Kyrie Irving, and that’s toxic. It’s sort of like, ‘Hey, maybe they’re generating buzz or trying to do the whole Brady thing.’ So be it – I’ve seen it 15 times in my life.”
Stone recognized that athletes like James are genuinely once-in-a-generation type talents, and that his time in the NBA has been defined by more than what he has done on the court. James has also been an immense advocate for greater causes, including social issues, youth education and community affairs. Whenever he decides to call it a career though, fans should rest assured that James has truly given the game everything he has.
“I want to see the best that they have for as long as possible,” show co-host Jon Jansen said of star athletes. “If they end up playing too long, so be it. I don’t care. Then I know I’ve [seen] it all.”
Sports Radio News
Danny Parkins: NFL Teams ‘Don’t Really Care About Your In-Stadium Experience’
“In one year of Al Michaels complaining about the games, they’ve changed two huge rules around it.”
On Monday at the NFL Owners’ Meetings, flex scheduling for Amazon Prime Video’s presentation of Thursday Night Football was approved 24-8. Games can only be flexed between Weeks 13 and 17 with 28 days notice required. Additionally, a maximum of two games can be flexed per season, with the entire operation being on “a trial basis.”
“In one year of Al Michaels complaining about the games, they’ve changed two huge rules around it,” said Danny Parkins on 670 The Score as the news broke Monday. “[The] first rule already happened, and the Bears are one of the teams that either benefit or are victimized by the rule depending on your interpretation. You can play on multiple Thursdays this year. You can’t play multiple road Thursdays, but the Bears have two Thursday night games – in Washington and home against Carolina.”
In an effort to broadcast compelling action on a national stage, the National Football League did not give all of its 32 teams at least one game on national television this season. Conversely, the New York Jets, complete with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, will be featured on national television for the maximum of six times, including two matchups on Thursday Night Football. The Jets, along with the Chicago Bears, dissented from voting in favor of flexible scheduling, but Parkins assumes it has nothing to do with the fans.
“My guess is [it is] because they already have two Thursday night games,” Parkins said. “Maybe they’re just altruistic and they care about fans and travel and all that, but I bet you that they said, ‘Well, we’re playing in Week 5 in Washington and Week 10 at home against Carolina. We don’t want to risk Bears-Browns or Bears-Falcons being flexed into Thursday Night Football later in the season and end up with three Thursday night games.’”
Many football fans and media professionals have pushed back on granting the property any type of flex scheduling because of the negative impact it has on injury prevention, something that is not as pronounced with other properties solely because of the day of the week. Sunday Night Football on NBC was previously the only property with flex scheduling ability, and Monday Night Football on ESPN is being granted that ability between Weeks 12 and 17 with at least 12 days notice.
“They don’t really care about your in-stadium experience – they don’t,” Parkins said of the league. “As long as you watch on TV, they’re thrilled because that’s where they make a huge, ungodly percentage of their money – more so than any of the other sports.”