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Brandon Tierney Has Unfinished Business In New York

“My roots run deep in this city. I’m one of you. I just happen to be blessed with a microphone every day. I can promise you we will not always agree and we will most definitely battle, but you will get my absolute best.”

Demetri Ravanos



Brandon Tierney is a star. Just ask anyone that has worked with him or that has been entertained by him. He has had success in markets large and small. Most recently, he said farewell to his CBS Sports Radio audience after a nine-year run on the national network. Now, it is time to get some professional wins that won’t just represent career goals. They will be the culmination of lifelong dreams as well.

If you were a New York sports fan in the 1980s, there are four iconic letters that have shaped the way you think and talk about sports. Brandon was just 14 years old when WFAN signed on at 1050 AM. Getting there was a goal of his as soon as he realized he was going to be a broadcaster.

While he eventually made it to 1050 AM, it was long after WFAN moved down the dial to 660 AM. That changes this week. Brandon Tienery and his partner of the last nine years, Tiki Barber, officially join the WFAN lineup.

Before the duo takes over the mid day slot, I had the chance to chat with Brandon about what the opportunity and the history of the station mean to him. We also talked about what Tiki & Tierney could change about the station and what the station will change about the show.

Demetri Ravanos: What does it mean to you to finally get that call and to now host a daytime show on WFAN? 

Brandon Tierney: Surreal. The realization of my earliest industry dream. I never knew exactly how I would get there, or when, but I always believed that I would.

That aspiration was fuel early in my career. It balanced me, centered me no matter what part of the country I was living in or how far away from home I was. I always had an eye on working at WFAN.

In 1997, as an intern in the Promotions Department at the station, I used to recruit other interns and sneak into a small production studio at the back of the station in Queens and do mock shows. Every day. Sat behind a mic, and actually rolled thru topic after topic. We weren’t even recording, but the allure of that microphone and those topics. It was potent, like a drug. I was creating a template for how I would eventually host. Finding my style, my voice, what worked, what didn’t.

I remember being so disappointed when I was kicked out of that studio and forced to actually do something pertaining to promotions. All I wanted to do was talk. Promotions? Nahhh man, I just want to let it rip. And I’ve always dreamt of doing it on WFAN from Day 1.

DR: How did this radio station influence your entry to the business? Who did you listen to?  

BT: WFAN is in my DNA. It’s a huge part of who I am, even though I’ve yet to launch the new show, It was just always there, engrained in my soul. The sound. The energy. The jingles. How big it felt when I was a kid.

My Dad always had it on in the car, starting with Imus. I fell asleep to the Schmooze. I was captivated by the back and forth of Mike and Chris, the combative nature of some for their debates. They made it sound so important because it was so important – to them, to us as a city. Our teams, Knicks vs Bulls, Knicks vs Pacers, Knicks vs Heat, Yankees vs Red Sox, Bobby V.  You cannot fake that. You’re either all in or you’re out. We sniff out the posers right away, we know when a host truly cares and we definitely know when someone is just wasting a few hours a day on the radio collecting a paycheck.  

I view that as a personal affront to New York fans. They deserve the best. They’ve had the best. They demand the best.  And it is my mission to continue that lineage, to make it even better with my slant and my style. But it’s not going to happen overnight.

I’m not naive. I have to earn the trust and respect of a new audience. I’m entering this phase of my career almost as if no one knows who I am. I don’t assume that listeners will remember me from my days at 1050 ESPN Radio or SNY or St. John’s. It’s a blank slate. And I can’t wait to begin creating something meaningful and God willing, something lasting and palpable.

DR: When Spike Eskin and Chris Oliviero raised the idea of moving over with Tiki to the local side, were there any reservations on your end or Tiki’s? 

BT: Zero. The timing is right. I’ve always leaned on my instincts in this business and trusted my gut, and thankfully those instincts have always led me to a better place. To leave New York for San Francisco in 2011, of course there were real doubts, but deep down I was confident that was the right move, and it was.

I didn’t know it then, but it was preparing me for a 9-year national run. It added depth to my on-air game. It enabled me to do a four-hour Sunday morning NFL show (TOPS) for seven years, to mix it up with Coach Cowher and Boomer and eventually Nate. It diversified my game. And most importantly, it brought me back home, to the company that owns the FAN. That part definitely put me in position to make the jump back into local waters.

There were two levels to this move: the emotional level, which I was fully on board with from minute one. And of course the business side, which we were able to hammer out fairly quick. Once the two meshed, it was a no-brainer. 

DR: After spending a decade on CBS Sports Radio, which is right next door to WFAN, how many times did you walk past the studio & think to yourself ‘that’s where I belong!’? 

BT: I think I did a good job of balancing what I can control versus what I cannot and really just living in the moment. I appreciated what we were building on the national level. and investing all of my energies into that. Every year our profile and reach grew, especially when we launched the TV simulcast five years ago. Growth was my singular focus.

Candidly, of course, my mind occasionally wandered. I missed the energy and juice of local, but I did not live looking backwards. There were really no “what ifs,” just a desire to create something compelling, something memorable, and something lasting with Tiki.

If you squeeze too hard, things tend to fall out of your grasp. Personal maturity and a confidence in my place in the business allowed me to just be immersed in the show, to be present in the show, without constantly hoping for change.

Yes, without elaborating, there were a few times the past few years where it seemed as if my platform was poised to change. But for a multitude of reasons, it never happened, and I always took solace in the fact that it simply was not meant to be. Not yet. You can’t speed up fate. You can try, but it’s almost always more damaging than rewarding and beneficial.

DR: One interesting thing I think is that you have been in the building, just not at WFAN, as legends like Mike, Chernoff, and Steve said goodbye. You’ve been influenced by them as a listener, they have been co-workers. Chernoff was even your boss at CBSSR. But you represent a new era for the station without those names. How do you process that and what was it like to see and interact with that history in the way that you did? 

BT: I do not take that responsibility lightly, I embrace it. And as much as we rightly romanticize what WFAN used to be, to me, I’m very impressed with our current lineup and looking forward to joining my new teammates. We have a ton of talent with diverse deliveries, different personalities and styles.

For me, Boomer represents the quintessential player-turned-broadcaster: big presence, great playing resume, ability to expand on all sports, a true fan, which a lot of former athletes are not. When he speaks, it carries weight, but he’s also very comfortable laughing at himself and with others. And he better be, because sitting next to Gio every morning is a ride in itself. I think Gregg’s comedic timing and unpredictability are outstanding. He’s another talent willing to laugh at himself. He is legitimately funny and truly a good dude.

As for Craig and Evan, like any new show, naturally, they are still finding their ultimate footing together. But their individual talents are so obvious. Evan is a true fan. The dude knows his stuff as well as anyone in the city. He’s a walking sports search engine. And being wired like that myself, I truly appreciate that. Now, our deliveries are very different and we are two completely different personalties, but the work required to be that in tune with so many different things, I get it and I really respect it.

As for Craig, I view him as a radio genius, and I’ve told him that. New York radio is simply better when Carton has a mic. His ability to keep things moving, to piss people off, to hit areas most people are unwilling or unable to effectively hit, he was born for this job.

So again…the history and roots of WFAN are what pulled me, but adding to that unmatched legacy, that drives me. As for my partner, I simply love the guy. At the top of the list in terms of intelligence. Just a naturally curious person. Adaptable. We play off each other well. He knows when I’m getting ready to enter my zone, when the voice raises, the hands start flying and the beads of sweat build…and he allows me the space needed to be me. To do what I do.

It’s such an underrated aspect of a partnership. Mike was great with that with Chris. When it was time to explode, Mike surrendered the stage, so to speak. And long ago, l learned what drives him, and I surrender the space as well. But segment to segment, day to day, we are just in sync. We see the world in a very similar manner. We both subscribe to hard work, accountability, and common sense. We both come from relatively humble beginnings. But we also disagree on enough things inherently where there is an equal give and take. Nothing is contrived. Our deliveries are polar opposites. 

Personally, I think Tiki is going to love local. He’s never experienced radio quite like this. You strap in every day. Bring a hard hat, exhale, and do it all again the next day and the day after. It’s like being back in the trenches, back on a field. 

DR: Looking at WFAN, Gregg Giannotti, Craig Carton & yourself have hosted in other cities. Spike Eskin has programmed in other cities, yet others have moved up the ladder within the building to earn their shot. There’s no one way to be successful there anymore. How do you feel the experience of working in other major markets has made you capable of handling the big stage in NYC? 

Brandon Tierney: The Sixers Have to Trade Ben Simmons

BT: I would not change a thing, quite frankly. As a young broadcaster with no family commitments at that time, traveling the country, chasing my dreams, it added a layer of depth that I believe is very much an asset for me on-air: toughness. Nothing was easy and nothing was handed to me.

I always felt natural behind a mic, but my actual broadcasting ascent was an arduous one. Lots of tough decisions and blind faith, an empty bank account until the age of almost 30. Granted, some people’s paths are more linear than mine. It’s a straight shot. Graduate from college, hook up with a local radio or TV station before slowly ascending to a more visible position. There are many examples of that in our field and in our market, highly successful talents who never left the city.

But for me, it was an amazing, galvanizing experience. The different traditions of each fan base, the politics of each city…I embraced it all. But even throughout all of my travels deep down, my focus was always on working and thriving in New York. It was my magnet.

Mentally, I never wavered from that New York sensibility, with the belief that I would eventually return home one day better than ever. When? Where? With whom? I wasn’t sure, but I always had conviction I would be back. I always felt as if I had unfinished business in New York. 

DR: Aside from the obvious content selection, how will Tiki & Tierney on WFAN be different from the nationally syndicated version of Tiki & Tierney

BT: Callers. On the national level, it’s all about topic development. It’s paramount to see things and present them in an interesting, non-obvious way. So there was the constant inner battle of talking about Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers but doing so in a way that was different from say, Colin Cowherd or Dan Patrick. That is a lot tougher than you think.

Locally, it’s about tapping into the vein of informed, passionate fans. The presentation is different. It’s a quicker pace. The tone is different. Still authentic, still intelligent…but a bit more raw, which I love. It’s natural. From the moment you open that mic locally, there is a rush and surge of adrenaline that is hard to describe and for me, nearly impossible to replicate in any other facet of my life. That pure, unfiltered mix of every possible emotion wrapped up into one memorable rant or take? It’s the best. It’s what drives me professionally, still to this day. It’s almost like chasing the perfect golf shot. When everything clicks, when it all meshes, you feel like your flying.

DR: Is there anything about national radio you will miss when the show goes local?

BT: I had the great fortune of having a very large platform during a very pivotal, volatile time in American history. The world was changing and we had a lot of important conversations that I will always cherish. They were uncomfortable conversations that we brought an element of comfort to, conversations and topics that transcended sport. Real depth. That’s probably the best part of doing a national show. The reach.

Generally there is more surface stuff in national. More macro and less micro, less in the weeds.

But I like the weeds and have always enjoyed the nuance of local. I love the intimacy, but national gives you a chance to branch out in a way that that local does not. It was a nice weapon, one I took very seriously. 

DR: Any concerns about interacting with a vocal Giants fan base that has a love/hate relationship with Tiki? 

Tom Coughlin, ex-Giants coach, was 'very upset' when he heard Eli Manning  was benched - New York Daily News

BT: We relish it. I know Tiki does. Listen, there’s no way around it, people are going to test Tiki early. Some are going to come to the table with a gripe or preconceived perception of who he is or what he did. A gripe that he retired early, resentment about what he said about Eli and Coughlin.

The irony is that during the time in which he said what said, we were ALL saying the same exact thing on the local airwaves. There was no real evidence early that Eli was absolutely going to elevate the Giants to prominence and there was little evidence Coughlin was going to do the same despite success in Jacksonville. He was inflexible. Some thought his style was antiquated, that it would no longer work with the modern athlete. It was not seamless for either with the Giants.

I think at the end of the day, Tiki was only guilty of one thing: bad timing. When he said what he said, it came across as malicious, but that was never the intent. He was transitioning to the media, and I think the tone was unintentionally lost. Do I think Tiki could have communicated his thoughts on Eli better? I do. It was a bit awkward.

Forget about this business for one second though. Let’s just talk character. I’ve always taken immense pride in reading people, being able to decipher good intentions versus malicious ones. I’ve sat in the same studio with Tiki every day for nearly a decade. I know his character. I know the type of father he is. I know how well-intentioned and selfless he is with all of his charitable endeavors. Some fans will come with venom initially. I fully expect that and so does he. But I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t win them over quickly.

If you truly know Tiki Barber the person, the man, the father and husband, the concerned citizen, you can’t help but like the guy. And oh yeah, by the way, he’s one of the greatest players in the history of New York football, so there’s always that. 

DR: When you consider how WFAN was built over the past three decades and compare it to the new lineup and direction entering 2022 and beyond, what final message do you have for New York sports fans who’ve made this brand a huge part of their lives? 

BT: I do not take this responsibility lightly. I view it as if I am finally putting on the pinstripes, the absolute best brand in all of sports radio. This has always been a dream of mine. I’m from here. Grew up in Brooklyn and high school in Manhattan. My parents still live in the same home I grew up in. Sister lives in Manhattan. Both sets of grandparents lived in Brooklyn.  

My roots run deep in this city. I’m one of you. I just happen to be blessed with a microphone every day. I can promise you we will not always agree and we will most definitely battle, but you will get my absolute best. Every fiber in my body will be fixated on doing this job to the absolute best of my capability. If you’re thinking it, I can promise you I will have the balls to say it. And back it up. When I’m wrong, I will own it. I don’t hide and I won’t duck. I will be accountable and I will demand accountability and transparency from every team in this market. Fans deserve that. Every morning at 10 AM, a little piece of Mike and Chris and Joe B and the Schmooze and all of the other great pioneers of this amazing network of voices and personalities will be with me in spirit.

I’ll do it my way, the only way I know how. I will be true to who I am and what I believe in. And I hope that before long, people will say, “You know, that BT, I really like that dude. He’s a little nuts, a little loud, but he knows his shit. Would love to have a beer with that guy.”

I’ve been fueled by this crazy dream I conjured up all those years ago. I’m ready. That’s my message for New York and New Jersey. Now, it’s time to stop telling you what I’m going to do. It’s time to simply start doing it. 

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Tricia Whitaker Will Find The Story That Matters

“My role is to really bring the viewers down to that level of the dugout and into the clubhouse.”

Derek Futterman



Tricia Whitaker FNB
Courtesy: Apple

When St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run in his final season in the majors last September, the baseball world erupted in mass jubilation. Although the milestone achievement occurred during a road game, the fans still showered one of the sport’s quintessential athletes with praise as they witnessed the fourth player enter this exclusive pinnacle of power hitters. For fans watching from afar, they were treated with crisp, vivid footage of the moment since the matchup was exclusive to Apple TV+ as a part of its Friday Night Baseball slate of games.

The game broadcast featured field reporter Tricia Whitaker, who had just joined the Apple TV+ presentations to begin the second half of the season. Being there as one of the voices tasked with keeping viewers informed and captivated by the action was a special experience that she will never forget. 

“You’re talking about the best cameras in the entire world capturing one of the most iconic players ever,” Whitaker said. “I thought the call was amazing; I thought the quality of the shots was amazing [and] I’l never forget that broadcast, ever, because it was so cool.”

Whitaker grew up in Bloomington, Ind. and would journey to Wrigley Field with her father once per summer to watch the Chicago Cubs. Through those games, she realized that a ballpark was her ideal future workplace.

“We just didn’t have a ton of money, [so] I would sit in the nosebleeds with him once a summer and that was the biggest treat in the world,” Whitaker said. “I just realized that I loved telling stories and I loved sports, so I decided to do that.”

Whitaker’s journey in the industry genuinely began as an undergraduate student at Indiana University Bloomington where she adopted a mindset to seize any opportunities offered to her. Despite having no knowledge or previous reporting experience, she accepted a role to cover a tennis match and quickly started preparing. After one of her professors saw her nascent media acumen, they recommended she audition for the university’s student television station to hone her skills. Whitaker earned a spot and began covering Indiana Hoosiers basketball and football for the show Hoosier Sports Night. From there, she simply kept on accepting anything in her purview.

“Your best asset is your availability, so I basically just said ‘Yes’ to everything,” Whitaker articulated.

Once it became time to search for a full-time position, her experience and tenacity helped her land a role at WBAY-TV in Green Bay as a sports reporter and anchor. After two football seasons working there, Whitaker relocated closer to home to report for WTTV-TV Channel 4 in Indianapolis. The time was valuable for her to cultivate new relationships with those around the industry while strengthening existing ones, serving as a foundational aspect of her reporting. 

“If they don’t trust you to tell their stories, they’re not going to talk to you,” Whitaker said. “You have to be able to have a good relationship with the players; with the coaches and everybody involved.”

At the same time, Whitaker felt compelled to make a lasting contribution to Indiana University through teaching and inspiring the next generation of journalists. She is now an adjunct professor for the IU Media School and wants her students to know how integral it is to make themselves available while being open and willing to try new things to make inroads into the profession. 

“There’s always a story to be told, so even if it’s a random event that you don’t think anyone’s paying attention to, there’s people there; there’s human stories and their stories matter,” Whitaker said. “That’s what I always try to tell my students is [to] just find that story that makes people interested in it and find that story that matters.”

Over the years working in these dual roles, Whitaker became more skilled in her position and proceeded to audition to join the Tampa Bay Rays’ broadcast crew on Bally Sports Sun as a field reporter. When she received news that she had landed the coveted job, she remembers starting to cry in her closet while trying to organize her clothes. After all, Whitaker had just learned that she would get to perform the role she idolized when she was young. The access her role gives her to the players and coaches on the field is not taken for granted.

“I’ll interview hitting coaches about a guy’s hands and where they’ve moved and about his stance,” Whitaker said. “….In the next hit, I’ll tell a story about a guy who drinks a smoothie every day before the game and he feels [that] putting spinach in it has really made a difference or something like that. My reporting style is pretty much all of it, but I do like to do the human interest stories more than I like to do anything else because I think that’s unique.”

After each Rays win, Whitaker takes the field and interviews one of the players on the team. Earlier in the season, she remembers speaking with Rays outfielder Jose Siri after he drove in three runs against the Detroit Tigers; however, the broadcast was not on Bally Sports Sun. Instead, she was doing the interview for Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+, a national broadcast property the company pays MLB an estimated $85 million annually to carry. Going into the interview, Whitaker knew that she would need to appeal to more than just Rays fans and appropriately started the conversation by asking about the game.

Yet she also knew that it was “Salsa Night” at Comerica Park in Detroit and thanks to her work with the regional network, was cognizant of the fact that Siri likes to dance in the dugout. As a result, she concluded the interview with a request for Siri to demonstrate his salsa dancing skills, something that made an ordinary conversation stand out.

“I tried to personalize it a little bit to help people get to know Jose Siri a little bit better because I think that’s important,” Whitaker said. “….You make sure you talk about baseball, but then you add a little flair to it; add a little personality to it. Everybody loves salsa, right?”

The Apple broadcasts require Whitaker to prepare as she executes her role with the Rays, keeping her wholly invested and consumed by baseball. There are occasions where she is afforded the luxury of reporting on Rays games for her Friday night assignment, but they are rare. Therefore, she needs to become familiar with two teams by reviewing statistics, reading local reporting and conversing with those involved. She keeps her notes on her cell phone and makes lists of what she is going to do during the day to keep herself organized and focused.

Throughout the week, Whitaker actively prepares for the Friday night matchup and meets with her producer to contribute her ideas and learn about the macro vision of the broadcast. The Apple broadcast, aside from using high-caliber technology, also regularly equips microphones to place on players that allow viewers to hear what is transpiring on the field. Whitaker, along with play-by-play announcer Alex Faust and color commentator Ryan Spilborghs, coordinate with the production team throughout the game to present an insightful and compelling final product.

There was criticism of the Apple TV+ live game baseball broadcasts during its inaugural season, but the noise continues to diminish in its sophomore campaign. Whitaker views her role as accruing a confluence of stories about the game and more insightful looks at the personalities on the field. Before each contest, she interviews a player in the dugout and asks questions that put the season in context, granting a comprehensive understanding about a subset of their journey.

“We try to get their thoughts on the season so far at the plate, but also try to get to know them on a personal level,” Whitaker said. “My role is to really bring the viewers down to that level of the dugout and into the clubhouse.”

It is considerably more facile to execute such a task before the game than it is during gameplay because of the introduction of the pitch clock. While it has undoubtedly sped up the game and made the product more appealing for fans of all ages, its actualization threatened the viability of unique aspects of baseball broadcasts. The Apple TV+ crew may work together once per week, but over a 162-game season spanning parts of seven months, there is a perdurable bond and unyielding chemistry evident therein.

“Everybody on that crew – and I seriously mean this – is so supportive no matter who you are as long as you do your job well,” Whitaker said. “They don’t even think about the fact that I’m a female in sports [and] they just support me. They help me take constructive criticism because they care and because they truly see me as an equal.”

Whitaker has had the chance to report from Wrigley Field with Apple TV+ and vividly remembers her experience of stepping inside as a media member for the first time. It was a surreal full-circle moment that has been the result of years of determination and persistence to make it to the major leagues.

“I walked into Wrigley and I started to tear up because I remember when my dad and I used to go there and I was 12 years old,” Whitaker stated. “If you would have told me at 12 years old [that] I would be doing a national game at Wrigley, I would have told you [that] you were lying because I just wouldn’t have thought that was a possibility.”

Although Whitaker is receptive to potentially hosting regular sports programming in the future, she has found the joy in her roles with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Apple TV+. Being able to experience historic moments, including Pujols’ milestone home run, and then diving deeper into the situation makes the countless flights, hotel stays and lack of a genuine respite worthwhile. She hopes to continue seamlessly fulfilling her responsibility this Friday night when the New York Mets face the Philadelphia Phillies at 6:30 p.m. EST/3:30 p.m. PST, exclusively on Apple TV+.

“There’s always a story to be told, and if you’re good at your job, you’re going to find that story even on a day where you’re like, ‘Oh gosh, there’s nothing going on,’” Whitaker said. “I take that pretty seriously.”

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Radio Advertising Can be the Secret Weapon For In-House Digital Marketers

“The trend of businesses gaining digital marketing proficiency presents a unique opportunity for YOU.”

Jeff Caves



Courtesy: ETSY

Remember when in-house marketers were primarily focused on traditional media and needed help navigating the digital and social media landscape? Well, the tables are turning! 

The rise of digital-savvy in-house marketers is opening up exciting opportunities for radio ad salespeople. As local businesses increasingly invest in digital marketing, some are finding they need your expertise in radio advertising.

Borrell Associates has released their latest Business Barometer, and included in the findings was a slight but noticeable shift favoring traditional forms of broadcast media. Let’s dive into how sports and news radio ad salespeople can leverage this shift to target businesses with proficient digital marketing people on board who may need to know more about the potential of radio advertising.

1. Digital-Marketing Trending UP!

Borrell Associates’ recent findings indicate that businesses are increasingly proficient in digital marketing. They are adeptly managing their websites and social media channels, driving results through online campaigns. However, this digital surge doesn’t necessarily translate to expertise in traditional media, such as radio. Hey, do you know a business like that? And make sure you know of an outsourced digital agency you can refer who can handle your clients’ digital and social media for very few dollars. You can help manage the rest of the budget! 

2. Target In-House Buyers

Make a list of businesses you know that have in-house people who are digital-oriented or younger owners who handle mostly digital advertising independently. Or, how about the in-house marketing person who only takes on marketing initiatives like events or sales promotion and knows nothing about advertising? Get ’em! 

3. We create demand

One of the unique selling points of radio is its ability to generate demand and send more customers to Google or your client’s website. Digital marketing can often direct buyers seeking a specific purchase but can’t create lasting impressions and build demand and loyalty like your station. Use this advantage to demonstrate how radio can reinforce the brand story and enhance the effectiveness of digital campaigns.

4. Surround the listener

Recognize that businesses with digital marketing expertise may want holistic solutions. Sell packages that combine digital and radio advertising. Include your streaming endorsements with social media and geo-fencing. They get it and will be impressed with reaching their target audience across multiple touchpoints.

5. Be the Teacher

Your prospects may be experts in digital marketing, but they might not fully understand the potential of radio advertising. Take on the role of an educator. Provide resources, case studies, and success stories that showcase how your station and radio have boosted digital-savvy businesses’ results.

6. 1+1=3 for Creativity

Collaboration is key when working with clients with a digital marketing team. Involve them in the creative process of writing and producing radio ads. Creativity could be their strength, and they will bring fresh perspectives to your production.

The trend of businesses gaining digital marketing proficiency presents a unique opportunity for YOU. Maybe your client is struggling with their digital strategy. Imagine that now they may be seeking you out to help them understand what they have already read about buying radio advertising. It’s time to adapt your approach and position radio as a complementary and powerful tool in the digital marketing person toolkit.

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Bill Parcells Shaped The Media By Giving Them Hell

“Parcells doesn’t belong in a studio chatting with a quarterback. He belongs in a temper tantrum screaming at a sportswriter.”

John Molori



Bill Parcells
Courtesy: AP Photo

Two of the most talked about media stories of the past couple of weeks intersect in the form of one legendary NFL head coach – Bill Parcells. 

In the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ potentially season-ending Achilles injury in Week 1 of the NFL season, many media pundits harkened back to 1999 when then-Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde suffered a similar injury in the first game of the season. Like Rodgers, Testaverde was a veteran signal-caller looking to bring the long-suffering Jets to a Super Bowl. 

One week after Rodgers’ injury, Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley was in the media mechanism for an exchange with a reporter after his club fell to 0-2. Staley took issue with a query about whether the team’s monumental playoff collapse last season versus Jacksonville has carried over to their slow start this season. 

ESPN’s First Take included video of Staley’s comment on their September 19 show building it up as some rash, heated interaction between coach and press. It was not. In fact, Staley merely directly answered the question asserting this season has nothing to do with last season. 

Both of these headlines find common ground in the person of Bill Parcells. Parcells was the head coach of the Jets in 1999 when Testaverde’s season ended in that fateful game vs. New England. In addition, he was notorious for some truly vitriolic run-ins with post-game reporters. 

Forget about Staley or even the infamous press conference rants of Jim Mora (“Playoffs!?”), Herm Edwards (“You play to win the game!”), and Dennis Green (“Crown ‘em!”). To the media, Parcells was Armageddon, Three Mile Island, and Hurricane Katrina rolled into one. Never has there been a football character so inexplicably loved and despised. 

In New England, Parcells’s arrival as head coach of the Patriots in 1993 signaled the turnaround of the franchise, but fans refuse to vote him into the team’s Hall of Fame because of his unceremonious jump from to the Jets after the 1996 season. 

When that happened, Parcells again grasped the media spotlight stating, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.” He was referring to new owner Bob Kraft taking final say personnel decisions away from Parcells.

Like him or not, Parcells, known as The Tuna, rejuvenated five NFL franchises. The New York Giants were a mishmash of Joe Pisarciks and Earnest Grays before Parcells turned them into two-time champions.

Patriot fans actually cheered for the likes of Hugh Millen and Eugene Chung until Parcells came to town and brought in players like Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri, and Tedy Bruschi, laying the foundation for a dynasty.

And the Jets? They were living off the fumes of Joe Namath’s Brut 33 until Bill Parcells constructed a team that went from 1-15 in 1996 under Rich Kotite to 9-7 and 12-4 in 1997 and 1998 respectively with Parcells. 

The Cowboys were 5-11 under Dave Campo in 2002. The next year, they went 10-6 with Parcells. Miami was 1-15 in 2007. The next year, with Parcells as executive VP of Football ops, they won the AFC East with an 11-5 record.

The Catholic church has its Apostle’s Creed. Those who follow the gospel of The Tuna have A Parcells Creed, and it goes as follows: I believe if a reporter asks Parcells if he outcoached a colleague, that reporter will be called a “dumb ass.” I believe that the media are “commies” and “subversive from within” as Parcells once labeled them.

I believe in using the media to denigrate young players to keep their egos in check. After Jets QB Glenn Foley had a solid preseason performance a few years back, the New York media surrounded the redheaded QB as if he had won the Super Bowl. 

Parcells walked right in front of Foley and sarcastically asked, “Do you mind if I get past Sonny Jurgensen over here,” referring to the similarly redheaded Redskin quarterbacking legend.

In 1995, when all of New England was agog over a rookie running back named Curtis Martin, Parcells slyly commented to the press, “Well, we’re not carving his bust for Canton just yet.” And of course, there was the late Terry Glenn. When asked how the former Patriot wideout was recovering from an injury, the Tuna spouted, “She’s doing just fine.”

Parcells’ stints as a studio analyst on ESPN, although insightful, seemed out of place. He would sit there, dressed in a dark blue suit talking strategy with fellow ESPN gabber Steve Young. Honestly, he looked like a rotund funeral director searching for someone to embalm.

Parcells doesn’t belong in a studio chatting with a quarterback. He belongs in a temper tantrum screaming at a sportswriter. 

I interviewed Boston media personality Steve DeOssie about Parcells. DeOssie was the defensive signal caller for the New York Giants (1989-93) when Parcells was the team’s head coach. He again played for Parcells in New England in 1994.

He told me, “Parcells realizes that the media is the enemy. Let’s face it, the media cannot do anything positive for a team, but they can put stuff out there that could lose a game. The bottom line with Parcells is whether it helps his team win.”

“He loves the camera and the camera loves him. He enjoys that part of the business. The media can spin it any way they want. Parcells does not suffer fools gladly and a lot of media types don’t like being called out in press conferences.”

Another Boston media legend also gave me his reflections of Parcells. Bob Lobel is the most revered sports anchor of all-time in New England. He stated, “I did a one-on-one interview with Parcells awhile back. He is so down to earth yet has this aura. It’s easy to be in awe of him.”

The national perspective is similar. When Troy Aikman was an analyst for FOX Sports, the current Monday Night Football color commentator credited Parcells with restacking the Cowboys’ roster and bringing winning back to Dallas.

When asked about playing for Parcells with the Jets, FS1’s Keyshawn Johnson offered, “He taught me how to do things, how to pay attention.” 

Even people whom Parcells fired maintain a respect for him. Sirius NFL Radio’s Pat Kirwan was the director of player administration for the Jets when Parcells arrived in 1997. 

Kirwan told me, “Parcells rebuilds a franchise from top to bottom. He evaluates everyone from the trainers to the doctors to the equipment guys. In 1997 when Bill came to the Jets, I knew I was qualified, but I also knew that Bill would let me go.”

In a September 12, 2023 story, New York Post reporter Brian Costello interviewed Parcells about the Rodgers injury. 

This master of media mind games famous for the quote, “You don’t get any medal for trying,” revealed his visceral core telling Costello, “You are charged with winning games under any circumstances … They’re not canceling the games. They’re not canceling them. You’re coaching them. It’s your job to get your team ready to play to the best of their ability.”

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