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Josh Pate Bet On Himself And Built College Football’s Hottest Podcast

“Then I said ‘I’ve never done TV before, does that matter?’ He said ‘probably, but we’re going to do it anyway.’”

Tyler McComas




The Paul Bunyan Trophy was lifted high in the air on Saturday afternoon, as the entire Michigan State football team celebrated an improbable comeback victory over its bitter rival, the Michigan Wolverines. The scene, both on the field and in the stands, was arguably unlike anything that had been witnessed before at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. 

FOX College Football on Twitter: "The Paul Bunyan Trophy trophy belongs to  @MSU_Football 👏👏🏆… "
Courtesy: CFB on FOX

Smack dab in the middle of all the madness, stood Josh Pate. As he watched the four-foot high wooden statue of Paul Bunyan being hoisted with a Michigan State helmet on top of its head, he pinched himself. He couldn’t believe this was part of his job.

To understand the feeling Pate had in that moment, you first need to know how his start in sports media happened. 

After graduating high school in 2004, Pate went to college without a clear vision on what he wanted to do professionally. There was no purpose or drive to find what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, so, instead of wasting money, he left school until he figured out what he wanted to do. That meant dropping out and working for a fabric warehouse in Columbus, GA. There was no air conditioning and the job requirement meant full-on manual labor in the Georgia heat. Each passing day required the same simple task of unloading a truck. 

To pass the time, Pate and his co-workers would listen to sports talk radio. His love for sports had fully blossomed at a young age, but his affinity for sports talk was really beginning to take shape. It wasn’t just about the endless opinions he heard every day. He was truly appreciating the art form of the industry. 

“I loved more than just the content,” said Pate. “I loved the production aspect and I loved listening to guys like Colin Cowherd, who was just getting his start at ESPN Radio. I paid attention to the way he would bring in a segment, or how he would tee up a guest, how he would toss to a break, I was fascinated by all of it.”

Pate would grind it out at the fabric warehouse for a few years, before putting himself back into school. Those years of listening to sports talk radio ignited a passion he wanted to chase. The problem was that he didn’t know how to go about finding a way into the industry. He had no contacts, no friends or family in the business, just a burning desire to try his hand at the first professional thing he was ever passionate about. 

That’s when he thought of WIOL, the ESPN radio affiliate in Columbus. It was one of the stations Pate had listened to a lot during endless days of unloading trucks, so he decided to take his chance at a place he was familiar with.

“They had an afternoon drive show and I started badgering one of the hosts on Facebook Messenger,” Pate said. “I asked him if I could just meet him or come in and do anything. He said yes and let me come in to observe the show.”

Pate kept coming in and observing. Subsequently, he knew he needed to practice. The station wasn’t giving him that opportunity, so he would turn the radio down in his truck and pretend to be on the air. It was the only way he knew how to get better. 

His determination paid off, because, one random day, one of the co-hosts of the afternoon drive show called in sick five minutes before the open. With no prep, and right in the middle of football season, Pate was asked to pinch hit at the last second. He knew it was his time to shine.

“We did an afternoon, caller-based show and I loved it,” Pate said. “They never took me off the air.”

For the next two years, Pate was living a new-found dream of being a sports radio host. He quickly excelled. Then he got a call from the general manager of the ABC television affiliate in Columbus. His next big break was about to come.

“He said, you’ve never met me, and you don’t know me, but I’ve been listening to you on my drive home every day,” Pate said. “He said the station wanted to start a college football TV show and wanted to know if I wanted to be in the driver’s seat. I thought about it for a fraction of a second and said yes. Then I said ‘I’ve never done TV before, does that matter?’ He said ‘probably, but we’re going to do it anyway.’”

Josh Pate - ID - YouTube

It was a far cry from unloading trucks every day. He was now a TV anchor talking about his favorite sport. Soon after, he was promoted to sports director and even a news anchor. He was incredible story of determination. But he saw the capability of even bigger things.

“When I saw streaming on Facebook Live and Youtube Live, I knew that was my gateway,” Pate said. “That took down the barrier of overhead and distribution. The industry was revolutionized.” 

The issue Pate had with all the TV shows he was doing was that he didn’t own any of the content. So when it came time to renegotiate his contract, the station offered him more money than he had ever been offered. But he wasn’t going to be able to independently produce anything on his own.

“I got down to the last day of my contract and said I wasn’t going to renew,” Pate said. “The general manager called me in with the news director and said, we don’t get it, what is your plan?”

Pate’s plan was to start a new YouTube channel. He was told by management he couldn’t make any money off it. But Pate believed in himself and his vision. Finally, the two sides reached an agreement. He would independently contract for the TV station, but for a fraction of what his previous offer was for. However, the station agreed to give Pate three nights a week of exclusive access to the TV studio to build his own YouTube channel that he independently owned. Thus, The Late Kick with Josh Pate was born. 

“It took about two years to get it off the ground and running,” Pate said. “Then I got a call from Shannon Terry of 247Sports and CBS. He said he wanted me to come work for him. He wanted me to do something they didn’t have.”

Pate had heavily bet on himself and won the jackpot. In January of 2020, he joined 247Sports with Late Kick as the main feature. 

“They essentially gave me the keys to the car and then they shut the door and told me to go do my thing,” Pate said. “I’ve been able to do a show here and executive produce it. I’ve essentially charted my own course here and I’m able to do it on one of the bigger media platforms in the world.”

So as he stood on the field of Spartan Stadium last Saturday in the middle of all the pandemonium, it was hard not to think of the journey that got him to that very moment. Now, The Late Kick with Josh Pate is one of the most popular college football podcasts on the internet, with a YouTube feature that has taken the show over the top. 

Nobody thought the kid working at the fabric warehouse would someday be hosting a college football show with a huge audience. But that’s what determination did for Pate. The funny thing is that even though those years are in his rearview mirror, the impact it had is still felt on today’s podcast. 

“Back in Columbus, there’s a place called Clearview Barbecue,” Pate said. “They accept cash only and me and two or three buddies would go there every weekday for lunch. We would obviously talk about college football, that’s what 22-year-old guys did in the south. We talked about it every single day and when I started to get an inkling of an idea that I could do this for a living, I remember thinking to myself, this is the format of my show. I always wanted to do a solo show, because I think it’s one of the hardest things in our business to do. If you can perfect it I think it can make you infinitely harder to replace. That was my strategy at my time and it still is.”

Pate grew up watching SEC football and the 247Sports office are located in the Nashville area, but that doesn’t mean he limits his content to strictly what happens in the Southeast. He wants to follow, attend and cover what the major game and storyline is every single week. 

“Michigan and Michigan State is a perfect example,” Pate said. “There may not be a ton of people in Wetumpka, Alabama that woke up on Saturday morning caring about that outcome. I just view my job to go there and tell the story in a way that lets them know there is a lot to care about. I go to these games to show why these people get so worked up about a wooden statue of Paul Bunyan. But I also want to tell people in Wetumpka, Alabama how they feel about the Iron Bowl, is how these people feel about Michigan and Michigan State. It’s pure hatred in the most beautiful of ways.”

Saturday was a pinch me moment for Pate, but it was just one of many that he’s had. Among the list, was the many Late Kick signs that appeared in the crowd of ESPN College Gameday this year. For the college football nut that’s been watching the show his entire life, it meant a lot. 

“I’m a part of what I grew up idolizing,” Pate said. “To be a part of it is beyond incredible. When I walk around a stadium in a state I’ve never visited and people know me by name, that’s a surreal thing I’ll never get used to.”

That passion is shown during every episode of Late Kick. To me, it’s what separates the podcast from all the others. But I also love that Pate isn’t another button-downed media member that can’t see the fun and the beauty of the sport they cover.

Late Kick: Josh Pate on OU and Texas heading to the SEC
Courtesy: 24/7Sports

“When I look back, I count it as such a blessing that I did not come straight form high school to a four-year journalism school, straight off the assembly line into this business,” Pate said. “I meet people that took that route, and more power to them, they are a lot more buttoned down than I am.”

BSM Writers

Is There Still a Place for Baseball Talk on National Sports Shows?

“Its struggle has been the same since the beginning of television. There is too much baseball for any regular season baseball game or story to have national significance.”

Demetri Ravanos




Last week at the BSM Summit, I hosted a panel focused on air checks. I wish I could say we covered the topic thoroughly, but we got derailed a lot, and you know what? That is okay. It felt like real air checks that I have been on both sides of in my career. 

Rob Parker of The Odd Couple on FOX Sports Radio was the talent. He heard thoughts on his show from his boss, Scott Shapiro, and from his former boss, legendary WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff. 

Baseball was the topic that caused one of our derailments on the panel. If you know Rob, you know he is passionate about Major League Baseball. He cited download numbers that show The Odd Couple’s time-shifted audience responds to baseball talk. To him, that proves there is not just room for it on nationally syndicated shows, but that there is a sizable audience that wants it.

Chernoff disagrees. He says baseball is a regional sport. Sure, there are regions that love it and local sports talk stations will dedicate full hours to discussing their home team’s games and roster. National shows need to cast a wide net though, and baseball doesn’t do that.

Personally, I agree with Chernoff. I told Parker on stage that “I hear baseball talk and I am f***ing gone.” The reason for that, I think, is exactly what Chernoff said. I grew up in Alabama (no baseball team). I live in North Carolina (no baseball team). Where baseball is big, it is huge, but it isn’t big in most of the country. 

Now, I will add this. I used to LOVE baseball. It is the sport I played in high school. The Yankees’ logo was on the groom’s cake at my wedding. Then I had kids.

Forget 162 games. Even five games didn’t fit into my lifestyle. Maybe somewhere deep down, I still have feelings for the sport, but they are buried by years of neglect and active shunning.

Its struggle has been the same since the beginning of television. There is too much baseball for any regular season baseball game or story to have national significance. 

Me, and millions of sports talk listeners like me, look at baseball like a toddler looks at broccoli. You probably aren’t lying when you tell us how much you love it, but damn it! WE WANT CHICKEN FINGERS!

A new Major League Baseball season starts Thursday and I thought this topic was worth exploring. I asked three nationally syndicated hosts to weigh in. When is baseball right for their show and how do they use those conversations? Here is what they had to say.

FREDDIE COLEMAN (Freddie & Fitzsimmons on ESPN Radio) – “MLB can still be talked nationally IF there’s that one player like Aaron Judge or Shohei Ohtani can attract the casual fan.  MLB has definitely become more local because of the absence of that SUPER player and/or villainous team.  I wonder if the pace of play will help bring in the younger fans that they need, but the sport NEEDS that defining star that is must-see TV.”

JONAS KNOX (2 Pros & a Cup of Joe on FOX Sports Radio) – “While football is king for me in sports radio, I look at baseball like most other sports. I’m not opposed to talking about it, as long as I have an angle or opinion that I am confident I can deliver in an entertaining manner. A couple of times of any given year, there are stories in baseball that are big picture topics that are obvious national discussions. 

“I think it’s my job to never close the door on any topic/discussion (except politics because I don’t know anything about it).

“But also, if I’m going to discuss a localized story in baseball or any other sport for that matter – I better have an entertaining/informed angle on it. Otherwise, I’ve let down the listener and that is unacceptable. If they give you their time, you better not waste it.”

MAGGIE GRAY (Maggie & Perloff on CBS Sports Radio) – “While I was on WFAN there was almost no amount of minutia that was too small when it came to the Mets and Yankees. On Maggie and Perloff, our baseball topics have to be more centered around issues that can be universal. For example, ’Is Shohei Ohtani the face of the sport? Is Ohtani pitching and hitting more impressive than two sport athletes like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders? Do you consider Aaron Judge the single-season homerun king or Barry Bonds?’ Any baseball fan or sports fan can have an opinion about those topics, so we find they get great engagement from our audience.”

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BSM Writers

Who Can Sports Fans Trust Once Twitter Ditches Legacy Verified Blue Checks?

The potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

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As of April 1, Twitter will finally make a dreaded change that many will view as an April Fools’ prank. Unfortunately, it won’t be a joke to any user who cares about legitimacy and truth.

Last week, Twitter officially announced that verified blue checkmarks will be removed from accounts that have not signed up for a Twitter Blue subscription. Previously, accounts whose identity had been verified were allowed to keep their blue checks when Twitter Blue was implemented.

But shortly after Elon Musk purchased Twitter and became the social media company’s CEO, he stated his intention to use verification as a revenue source. Users would have to pay $8 per month (or $84 annually) for a Twitter Blue subscription and blue checkmark verification. Paying for blue checks immediately set off red flags among users who learned to depend on verified accounts for accredited identities and trusted information.

The entire concept of verification and blue checks was simple and effective. Users and accounts bearing the blue checkmark were legitimate. These people and organizations were who they said they were.

As an example, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has faced criticism for how he framed domestic violence and sexual misconduct involving star NFL players, and deservedly so. But fans and media know Schefter’s tweets are really coming from him because his account is verified.

Furthermore, Twitter took the additional step of clarifying that accounts such as Schefter’s were verified before Twitter Blue was implemented. He didn’t pay eight dollars for that blue checkmark.


The need for verification is never more vital than when fake accounts are created to deceive users. Such accounts will put “Adam Schefter” as their Twitter name, even if their handle is something like “@TuaNeedsHelp.” Or worse, some fake accounts will create a handle with letters that look similar. So “@AdarnSchefter” with an “rn” in place of the “m,” fools some people, especially at a quick glance when people are trying to push news out as fast as possible.

Plenty of baseball fans have been duped over the years by fake accounts using a zero instead of an “o” or a capital “I” instead of a lowercase “l” to resemble Fox Sports and The Athletic reporter Ken Rosenthal. That trick didn’t get me. But when I covered Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report 10 years ago, I did fall for a fake Jim Salisbury account that reported the Philadelphia Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants. Capital “I,” not lowercase “l” in “Salisbury.” Pence was, in fact, traded to the Giants two days later, but that didn’t make my goof any less embarrassing. I should’ve looked for the blue checkmark!

But after April 1, that signifier won’t matter. Legacy blue checkmarks will be removed from accounts that haven’t paid for Twitter Blue. Some accounts that were previously verified might purchase a subscription to maintain that blue check. But those that were deemed legitimate prior to Musk taking over Twitter likely won’t. (There are also rumors that Twitter is considering a feature that would allow Twitter Blue subscribers to hide their blue check and avoid revealing that purchase.)

That could be even more true for media organizations, which are being told to pay $1000 per month for verification. Do you think ESPN, the New York Times, or the Washington Post will pay $12,000 for a blue check?

We’ve already seen the problems that paying for verification can cause. Shortly after Twitter Blue launched, accounts pretending to be legacy verified users could be created. A fake Adam Schefter account tweeted that the Las Vegas Raiders had fired head coach Josh McDaniels. Users who saw the “Adam Schefter” Twitter name went with the news without looking more closely at the “@AdamSchefterNOT” handle. But there was a blue checkmark next to the name this time!

The same thing occurred with a fake LeBron James account tweeting that the NBA superstar had requested a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers. There was a “@KINGJamez” handle, but a “LeBron James” Twitter name with a blue check next to it.

Whether it’s because fans and media have become more discerning or Twitter has done good work cracking down on such fake accounts, there haven’t been many outrageous examples of deliberate deception since last November. But the potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

If that seems like an overstatement, it’s a very real possibility that there will be an erosion of trust among Twitter users. Media and fans may have to take a breath before quickly tweeting and retweeting news from accounts that may or may not be credible. False news and phony statements could spread quickly and go viral across social media.

Even worse, Musk has announced that only verified Twitter Blue accounts will be seen in your “For You” timeline as of April 15. (He can’t claim it’s an April Fools’ Day joke on that date.)

Obviously, that carries far more serious real-world implications beyond sports. Forget about a fake Shams Charania account tweeting that Luka Dončić wants to be traded to the Lakers. It’s not difficult to imagine a fake Joe Biden account declaring war on Russia and some people believing it’s true because of the blue checkmark.

We may be nearing the end of Twitter being a reliable news-gathering tool. If the accounts tweeting out news can’t be trusted, where’s the value? Reporters and newsmakers may end up going to other social media platforms to break stories and carry the viability of verification.

When Fox Sports’ website infamously pivoted to video in 2017, Ken Rosenthal posted his MLB reporting on Facebook prior to joining The Athletic. Hello, Instagram. Will someone take their following and reputation to a fledgling platform like Mastodon, Post, Spoutible, or BlueSky, even if it means a lesser outlet?

If and when that happens, Twitter could still be a community but not nearly as much fun. Not when it becomes a matter of trust that breaks up the party.

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BSM Writers

There’s a Lesson For Us All in Florida Atlantic’s Elite 8 Broadcast Struggle

“It is a ton of faith our industry has been forced to place in a single mode of delivery.”

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Ken LaVicka and Kevin Harlan probably don’t have a ton in common. Both of them were announcing an Elite Eight game over the weekend, that is one thing tying them together, but their experiences were wildly different. Harlan is on CBS with a production crew numbering in the dozens making certain all goes smoothly. LaVicka, the voice of the Florida Atlantic Owls, is a production crew himself, making certain those listening in South Florida heard the Owls punch their Final Four ticket. At least, that was LaVicka’s plan.

The Florida Atlantic Owls are going to the Men’s Final Four. Even while typing that sentence, it still seems odd to say. Do you know how many college basketball teams are thinking “how can Florida Atlantic make the Final Four and we can’t?” These are the types of stories that make the NCAA Tournament what it is. There is, literally, no barrier stopping any team from this tournament going on the run of their life and making it all the way.

Everyone listening in South Florida almost missed the moment it all became real for the Owls. With :18.6 to go in Florida Atlantic’s Elite Eight game against Kansas State, the Madison Square Garden Ethernet service to the front row of media seating went completely dark. 

It was on that row that Ken LaVicka was painting the picture back to South Florida. Well, he was until the internet died on him.

Nobody does a single show away from their home studio anymore without trying to avoid the nightmare of Ethernet failure. Gone are the days of phone lines and ISDN connections, all the audio and video is now sent back to the studio over the technological miracle that is the internet. It is a ton of faith our industry has been forced to place in a single mode of delivery.

Take that anxiety and multiply it by 1,000 when that Ethernet line is connected to a Comrex unit for the most important moment of your career. LaVicka had the great fortune of a Kansas State timeout to try something, anything, to save the day. In his quick thinking, he spun around and grabbed an ethernet cable from row two which, as it turns out, still had internet access flowing through it’s cables. That cable, though, was the equivalent of an iPhone charging cord; never as long as you need it to be.

One of LaVicka’s co-workers from ESPN West Palm held the Comrex unit close enough to the second row for the cable to make a connection and the day was saved. LaVicka was able to call the last :15 of the Florida Atlantic win and, presumably, get in all the necessary sponsorship mentions.

It was an exciting end to the FAU v. Kansas State game, a great defensive stop by the Owls to seal the victory. LaVicka told the NCAA’s Andy Katz he tried to channel his inner Jim Nantz to relay that excitement. The NCAA Tournament excitement started early this year. In the very first TV window 13 Seed Furman upset 4 Seed Virginia with a late three pointer by JP Pegues, who had been 0-for-15 from beyond the arc leading up to that shot. It is the type of play the NCAA Tournament is built upon.

It was called in the manner Kevin Harlan’s career was built upon. Harlan, alongside Stan Van Gundy and Dan Bonner, called the Virginia turnover leading to the made Furman basket with his trademark excitement before laying out for the crowd reaction. After a few seconds of crowd excitement he asked his analysts, and the world, “Did we just see what I think we saw? Wow!” Vintage Kevin Harlan.

One reason we are so aware of what Harlan said, and that he signaled his analysts to lay out for the crowd reaction, was a CBS Sports tweet with video of Harlan, Van Gundy and Bonner in a split screen over the play. It gave us a rare look at a pro in the middle of his craft. We got to see that Harlan reacts just like he sounds. The video has more than six million views and has been retweeted more than 6,000 times, a lot of people seem to like it.

Kevin Harlan is not in that group. Harlan appeared on Richard Deitsch’s Sports Media podcast after the video went public and said he was embarrassed by it. Harlan added he “begged” CBS not send the tweet out but to no avail. Harlan told Deitsch “I don’t know that I’m glad that they caught our expression, but I’m glad the game was on the air. I think I join a chorus of other announcers who do not like the camera.”

There’s a valuable announcer lesson from Harlan there; the audience is almost always there for the game, not you. Harlan went on to describe the broadcast booth to Deitsch as somewhat of a sacred place. He would prefer to let his words accompany the video of the action to tell the story. Kevin Harlan is as good as they come at his craft, if he thinks that way, there’s probably great value in that line of thought.

We can learn from LaVicka, as well. You work in this business long enough and you come to accept technical difficulties are as much a part of it as anything. They always seem to strike at the worst times, it is just in their nature. Those who can find a way to deal with them without everything melting down are those who can give their audience what they showed up for. Those who lose their mind and spend time complaining about them during the production simply give the audience information they don’t really care about.

The Final Four is an unlikely collection of teams; Miami, San Diego State, Connecticut and Florida Atlantic. You all had that in your brackets, right? Yep, the Florida Atlantic Owls are going to the Final Four and Ken LaVicka will be there for it. Now, if the internet will just hold out.

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Barrett Media Writers

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