Connect with us
BSM Summit
blank

BSM Writers

Keith McPherson Is Just A Fan at WFAN Living His Dream

“The biggest thing I tell people is that there’s no gatekeepers. If you’re dope, people will find you. Make videos; make content; write your thoughts out and put them on Twitter.”

Derek Futterman

Published

on

Keith McPherson

As a high school junior, Keith McPherson announced Pop Warner football games in New Jersey, and was approached by a spectator who told him that he had a good voice and should consider studying communications in college. Initially, McPherson was confused, as he was unaware that communications was a college major, nor did he know what exactly it encompassed.

As time went on though, he realized that it was the career path he desired, and worked hard to find the avenues to create content and leverage his sports knowledge and digital expertise, learning on the fly and discovering unique opportunities to differentiate himself from others.

Throughout high school, McPherson was not only an avid fan of the New York Yankees and then-New Jersey Nets, but also an athlete himself, playing football at Ocean Township High School. During his college search, he was recruited to play football at Rutgers University, but ultimately departed his home state to attend James Madison University as an undeclared major. For two years, he played Division I college football as a quarterback, and after not taking the field as a sophomore, came to the realization that brought him back home to Monmouth County.

“Something clicked where I was like, ‘Okay, I’m not going to the NFL, and I need to focus on a career; I need to choose a career path. I’m a wild sports fan obsessed with all sports, and talking all sports radio and television, maybe I can do that,’” McPherson recalls thinking. “When I transferred, I literally transferred without football in mind.”

McPherson spent the next four years at Monmouth University as a member of WMCX radio and HawkTV, and graduated at the age of 23 eager to apply to his first job in media. The only problem was that each job he was looking for required three to five years of professional experience.

Unsure of where to turn next, McPherson began making income as a DJ at local clubs and bars, something that he started doing in high school, and eventually began working at his local Guitar Center store selling audio equipment to customers. Looking for an opportunity to work in media, everything changed when he saw a casting application for the MLB Fan Cave in New York City.

“That was the turning point,” said McPherson. “That was when I kind of knew, ‘Okay, everyone wants 3-5 years of experience. This is going to be the first thing I can put on my résumé.”

For the duration of the 2014 Major League Baseball season, McPherson, along with several other “cave dwellers” from around the United States watched all 2,430 regular season games at 692 Broadway for 14 hours a day, while creating digital content in the process. He affirms that while the days were exhausting, the experience taught him about the ways in which other people follow baseball – a lesson in cultural diffusion occurring within the “melting pot” of New York City.

After the baseball season ended, McPherson spent the next five-and-a-half months applying for media jobs, but heard nothing back. Preparing to take a job at The Home Depot, he then received his only call back for an interview from MTV, largely because the network had filmed its show Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave every Tuesday during the regular season. After two rounds of interviews, McPherson was hired, and for the next two-and-a-half years, he worked on the company’s social media team. Once he reached the three years of experience necessary to pursue most other media jobs, he took a risk and left his job to look elsewhere.

“I could look for a job and match my passion with my profession,” said McPherson, “and I quit MTV, [and] applied to jobs [while driving for] Lyft and Uber for a month.”

McPherson joined a startup company, for the first time, when he was hired in August 2017 as fuboTV’s first-ever social media manager, helping construct a strategy to help expand the streaming service’s reach and growth potential. Ten months later, he took a role as a digital marketing and strategy manager at Roc Nation, collaborating with athletes to help proliferate the company’s reach. Three months into this role though, McPherson made a broad observation that changed the course of his career.

“I was just noticing people rise in the podcast world and in the social media world, and that’s when people started using the term ‘influencer,’” said McPherson. “I’m looking at people that are using Twitter and Instagram, podcasting and YouTube to build their own brand; build their own name; talk about what they like and what they want to be about.”

One purchase of a new Mac computer and a video camera later, McPherson was liberated from any corporate ties. He began recording sports content that he distributed over multiple platforms in an effort to find his voice among others in the media.

“I was unemployed and I kept building my online brand, but you need to survive, and I wasn’t making money off my online brand,” said McPherson. “I was getting followers and views, so I was driving [for] Lyft and Uber [and] I was working at a restaurant for a little bit. I couldn’t work anywhere full-time because it would have taken time away from me editing or me creating.”

Throughout his journey working as a cave dweller and then in various roles pertaining to social media, McPherson always remained an active member of Twitter, specifically among the cohort of Yankees fans. One of the connections he made on the platform happened to be with Jimmy O’Brien, who was in the process of building a startup multimedia company called “Jomboy Media.” After nearly a year working independently, McPherson catalyzed an opportunity to join the growing company as an intern. It is safe to say he wasted no time making it known that he would be more than just a short-term addition.

“I understood what Jomboy was building, and I crushed it right away,” said McPherson. “Through crushing it right away, one of the more senior advisers was like, ‘Hey, if we want to keep this guy, we’ve got to pay him full-time because he’s already had full-time social media jobs and he’s out in front of the camera now building his own personal brand.’”

Two months after starting as an intern, McPherson became a salaried employee, and worked with those at the company to prepare for the start of baseball season. Then everything stopped as the COVID-19 pandemic became an immediate matter of public concern across the United States, forcing McPherson and those at Jomboy Media to work remotely.

“We had just launched the Bronx office down the street from Yankee Stadium,” said McPherson. “We were all excited about working in the Bronx together and going to the games at night…We were so excited for that season and then the pandemic hit and stopped everything.”

Despite the disappointment that arose from being unable to work in person, McPherson was used to doing things remotely from his time operating independently. Each day while fully remote, he focused on building both Pinstripe Strong and Talkin’ Nets, his Yankees and Nets podcasts, respectively, to the point where they gained massive followings on social media, rising levels of listenership and high-profile guests.

Come 2021, McPherson and New York sports fans were finally able to attend games in-person again, albeit with health and safety protocols in place. While the atmosphere was different, McPherson was finally able to record new content on-site, and distinguish himself from others in sports media by being among the fans.

“I’m the fan in the stadium,” said McPherson. “…I’m the guy that’s turning the camera on when we hit a home run. I’m the guy that’s turning the camera on when [Kevin Durant] shoots a three and the crowd goes wild.”

One day, McPherson noticed that new WFAN Program Director Spike Eskin had begun following both of his podcasts on Twitter, and soon after, members of Jomboy Media filled-in to host a midday show at WFAN. Aside from being verified on Twitter, McPherson had no idea who Eskin was, that he had replaced one of the format’s pioneers in Mark Chernoff, nor that Eskin was considering trying to add him at WFAN. Then about one week later, the new P.D. messaged McPherson to go to lunch for an interview about joining the team at WFAN.

“I literally had a WFAN keychain on my keys since I met Marc Malusis in 2014 at the MLB Fan Cave,” said McPherson. “I feel like I manifested it.”

Less than two weeks later, McPherson was on the air for a tryout, and eagerly planned how his radio show would go. Yet when then-New York Mets manager Luis Rojas made a questionable decision removing starting pitcher Taijuan Walker from the game, McPherson had to be quick on his feet and adapt his plans to fit what his audience wanted to talk about.

“I had this whole plan for what I was going to do, and that went out of the window,” said McPherson. “….[After the show,] I found out from Tom Izzo, the head of digital, that [they] definitely noticed a huge bump in interactions the night [I] was on.”

Encouraged by his first-show on-air, McPherson sought to get back behind the microphone as soon as possible talking sports with New York fans on a nightly basis. From the time he auditioned though, he had heard nothing from WFAN, and he tried to figure out what was going on by checking in with Eskin.

“He really couldn’t tell me much,” said McPherson. “I was kind of like, ‘Damn, I just want another spot. I want another night. I’ll do 2-5; it doesn’t have to be 11-2…,’ but little did I know they were working on stuff.”

When the news came out this past October that longtime WFAN nighttime host Steve Somers was set to retire, sports radio fans across the New York-Metropolitan area pondered who would supply the talk and entertainment they had grown accustomed to for over three decades. For Eskin, replacing Somers represented one of the first major decisions he had to make on the job, and it was essential that the station chose a voice that embodied the passion and fervor that exists among New York sports fans – a voice like Keith McPherson’s.

By the time the calendar turned to October, McPherson learned that he would be replacing Steve Somers in the 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. nighttime slot on WFAN, an outcome he was surprised to learn, but a challenge he was elated to face.

“I was like, ‘Woah, slow down. I’ve never done this before. I only have radio experience from college. I don’t want to be the guy that’s tagged as Steve Somers’ replacement. The Shmooze is iconic; he’s huge; he’s a one-of-a-kind voice and presence on the radio,’” said McPherson. “I didn’t know what to do, but I wasn’t going to turn it down.”

The news was formally announced in November on Carton and Roberts while McPherson and his wife were on their honeymoon in Puerto Rico, leading to him receiving congratulatory texts and messages on social media. Later that month, McPherson made his WFAN debut, becoming the first Black host to be a part of the weekday lineup since Tony Paige left the station in 2019.

“I just wanted people to give me a shot,” said McPherson. “I wanted the chance to learn on the fly. I wanted the chance to fail – and put my energy into WFAN and not be anyone else… I wanted to be Keith McPherson, but through this platform; through this historic radio station.”

blank

Six months working in his new role, McPherson has been able to foster a connection with his audience and is creating engaging multiplatform content that appeals to New York sports fans. His philosophy on how to do that is simple, but seldom found and sometimes frowned upon in the industry.

“My style is just to let people talk,” explained McPherson. “You’re calling into my show; you’re calling into WFAN. If you have a take or a thought that some of you want to get off on air, go for it – we can have a conversation. It doesn’t have to be ‘Alright, I’m going to be short with you – hang up the phone on you.’ I’m no better than you. I’m a fan just like you are. I just happen to be on this side of the mic; this side of the phone. Call me up, and we can talk about any sports topic; any conversation.”

While his hosting style is his own, he has had the opportunity to speak with his predecessor Somers, and gain valuable advice as how to host an entertaining and informative radio program in the number one media market in the world. Before they spoke about the art of taking calls, being able to approach shows differently on slower versus faster sports nights and being able to discuss larger issues outside of sports, McPherson was excited just to meet Somers to gauge how he felt about the transition.

“I didn’t know how he would feel because if you read Facebook or Twitter, which I don’t do as much anymore, people were acting like I pushed him out, and WFAN forced him to leave for me,” McPherson stated. “I was like, ‘Damn, that’s not the case at all.’”

Throughout his time on the air, McPherson has enjoyed connecting with callers from younger demographics in an effort to broaden his listening audience and help grow the games he is talking about. It is one of the reasons why he was recently brought on as a co-host of Off Base, a studio television show on MLB Network geared towards millennials and looking at “America’s Pastime” through a different lens. Yet as radio and other platforms continue to move towards becoming more digital, being available and willing to interact with sports fans outside of the time on-air is essential to cultivating an engaged audience.

“When I’m on air, I tell people, ‘Hey, tweet at me,’” said McPherson. “Not everybody is bold enough to call in, but they’ll send a tweet… I feel like if you’re a radio host in sports, you need to have Twitter open while you’re on air; you need to be paying attention to what’s trending on Twitter – you’re live on air – that can help your show; that can help your broadcast.”

As radio continues moving into the 21st-century, finding the next generation of talent can seem like a daunting task – that is, if program directors fail to adapt their selection processes. McPherson’s being a sports radio host in a major media market with his only radio experience prior to it being in college is something that deviates from the norm in the industry; however, his hiring and early success may be indicative of a change in the way radio finds its talent. After all, stations are always looking to continue to find ways to improve their ratings and earn more revenue in today’s congested media landscape.

“The next great radio host and the next great people to invest in or to put on a mic – they’re already there,” said McPherson. “The biggest thing I tell people is that there’s no gatekeepers. If you’re dope, people will find you. Make videos; make content; write your thoughts out and put them on Twitter. Radio’s got to learn that it’s not always the people who have worked 10 years inside your station [that] become your next guys.”

BSM Writers

Beyond The Mask: Henrik Lundqvist Embraced 2nd Career in Sports Media

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal.”

Derek Futterman

Published

on

blank

Plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, Henrik Lundqvist found himself beneath the bright lights once again, poised to put on a worthy performance. Just as he aimed to stop pucks from going in the net as the star goaltender of the New York Rangers for 15 seasons, Lundqvist sought to captivate viewers as half of a musical duo featuring former NHL forward Paul Bissonnette.

Their performance of “Good Riddance” by Green Day was in tribute to Rick Tocchet, a former NHL on TNT studio analyst who recently departed the network to serve as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Lundqvist serves as a studio analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NHL, breaking down players and teams throughout the broadcast and bringing his own unique style to the set. His pursuit of a post-playing career in sports media was no guarantee from the moment he retired in August 2021; in fact, he never intended to stop playing the game and competing for a Stanley Cup championship at that time.

During the 2019-20 season, Lundqvist had lost playing time to young goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, and by the year’s end, his deal was bought out by the team. In an effort to continue playing, Lundqvist signed a contract with the Washington Capitals – marking the first time in his NHL career that he would not step between the pipes for the Rangers.

Lundqvist never played a game for the team though, as it was discovered in a medical exam that he would need open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve while also having an aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. Less than two months after the successful five-hour operation, he was back on the ice rehabbing and attempting to make a full recovery – but a few months in, he began to feel unexpected chest pain. Following a medical checkup, Lundqvist was told he had inflammation around his heart. It was a significant setback that required him to step off the ice, take off his goaltender equipment and rest for several months.

After discussions with his family and friends, Lundqvist determined that the risk of taking the ice outweighed the rewards and officially stepped away from the game. Rather than conjuring hypothetical scenarios wherein he did not experience the misfortune and played for the Capitals, Lundqvist looked to the future amid the ongoing global pandemic and thought about how he could best enjoy his retirement.

“I was just mentally in a very good place,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a choice; I guess that makes it easier sometimes when the decision is made because you can’t go back-and-forth – ‘Should I?’ ‘Should I not?’ Yeah, I wanted to play but it was just not meant to be for me.”

Before any definitive resolution on his future endeavors was made though, the Rangers announced that the team would retire Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony during the 2021-22 season, making him just the 11th player bestowed that honor in franchise history. As a five-time NHL All-Star selection, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, and holder of numerous franchise records, Lundqvist had the accolades to merit this profound distinction.

Moreover, he was an important component in growing the game of hockey and contributing to the greater community, serving as the official spokesperson for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. He also was a two-time recipient of the organization’s prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, honoring the player “who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Throughout the night, attendees regaled Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-rik!” and were treated to flashbacks of some of his memorable career moments. The night was of monumental importance for Lundqvist, during which he expressed his gratitude to the Rangers’ organization, former teammates and fans. Then, Lundqvist — referred to as “The King” — promptly took his place among team legends beneath the concave ceiling of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

“When I look back at my career, I know, to me, it was all about preparation; how I practiced and how I prepared for each game at practice,” Lundqvist said. “There’s no regrets, and I hope people, when they think about how I played, [know] that it was 100% heart and commitment to the game.”

Before this ceremony though, Lundqvist and Rangers owner James Dolan had held several meetings with one another. The purpose of these conversations was to determine the best way for Lundqvist to remain involved with the team, its fans, and the community. In the end, he was named as a lead studio analyst on MSG Networks’ broadcasts of New York Rangers hockey before the start of the 2021-22 season: the start of his foray in sports media.

This past summer, Lundqvist negotiated a new deal with Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment in which he maintained his in-studio responsibilities while increasing involvement in other areas of its sports and entertainment ventures. In this new role, Lundqvist supports the business operations for both companies, assisting in digital content development, alumni relations, and partner and sponsor activities.

When Lundqvist is not in the studio or the office, he can often be found at Madison Square Garden taking in New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, or one of the arena’s renowned musical performances. Usually, when he is in attendance, he is shown on the arena’s center-hung video board as an “NYC Celebrity” and receives a thunderous ovation from the crowd.

“The network is just part of it, but it feels great to come there,” Lundqvist said of Madison Square Garden. “Every time I go there – to see the people that I’ve known for so long – but also I love that place; I love The Garden. I think the energy [and] the variety of things that happen there is something I really appreciate. It feels really good to be a part of that.”

Sitting alongside former teammate and studio analyst Steve Valiqutte and sportscaster John Giannone, Lundqvist appears in the MSG Networks studios, located across the street from the arena, for select New York Rangers games. From the onset, he brought his allure and expertise to the set and appealed to viewers – so much so that national networks quickly began to take notice.

“I enjoy watching hockey [and] talking hockey, but the main thing to me is the team; the people that you work with,” Lundqvist said. “The guys on the panel [and the] crew behind. I really enjoy that part of it and having a lot of fun off-camera.”

One month later, Lundqvist was on his first national broadcast for the NHL on TNT where he and Bissonnette famously performed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica that went viral on social media. It had been known that Lundqvist was a musician, famously performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in his Rangers uniform to celebrate the end of the 2012-13 NHL lockout.

In fact, during his retirement ceremony, the Rangers gifted him with a custom-made guitar painted by David Gunnarsson, the same artist who used to paint Lundqvist’s goalie masks.

Aside from occasional music performances, Lundqvist brings an esoteric base of knowledge to the NHL on TNT panel as its only goaltender. Whether it be through player breakdowns, interviews, or dialogue with other analysts, Lundqvist has a perspective to which few professional hockey players can relate. There are various goaltenders among local studio panels surrounding live hockey game broadcasts, and Lundqvist is in a unique situation with MSG Networks in that he and Valiquette are both former goaltenders. Yet on Turner Sports’ national coverage, he is the only voice speaking to this different part of the game.

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal,” Lundqvist explained. “Yes, you need to stop the puck, but a huge part of being a goalie is analyzing what’s going on. We can never really dictate the play so you need to analyze what’s happening right in front of you.”

blank

In broadcasting at both the local and national level, Lundqvist is cognizant of the differences in each network’s studio programs. Lundqvist says appearing on the MSG Networks studio panel is more about being direct with the viewer, whereas the NHL on TNT views its panel as being conversational in nature. With Turner Sports, Lundqvist also asks his colleagues about the different teams around the league since he is most familiar with the Rangers both as a former player and studio analyst.

“I’m closer to the Rangers; I see more of what’s going on,” Lundqvist stated. “When you work [national] games, maybe you focus in on teams on the West Coast or [part] of the league you don’t see as often. You try to talk to the other guys on the panel and the crew and figure out things that are interesting about those teams.”

Hockey is a team sport, and Lundqvist felt grateful to play with his teammates and face his competitors over the years. Now as an analyst though, it is his job to analyze their games and critique them when necessary; however, he does not try to be excessively critical.

Lundqvist knows the trials and tribulations associated with the sport and can relate to scenarios many players face on a nightly basis. Therefore, he thinks about his own experience before giving an opinion, especially a critique, instantiating it with comprehensible, recondite knowledge and/or by recounting a similar situation.

“I’d much rather give them positive feedback obviously because I know it is a tough game,” Lundqvist said, “and sometimes it might look like an easy mistake, but if you can give the viewer a better explanation of why he did that, they might have a different view of that mistake.”

Now metaphorically being beyond the goalie mask, Lundqvist’s vision of the game has evidently shifted. He discerns just how intense the schedule is and the rapid pace of the game, axioms he was aware of while playing but inherently avoided thinking about. He has implemented his refined viewpoint of the game accordingly into his analysis, simultaneously utilizing the mindset and savvy he cultivated on the ice. It is, quite simply, a balancing act.

“I think people can be pretty quick to jump on guys and critique them,” Lundqvist said. “That’s where maybe you take an extra look and try to understand why it happened and give those reasons. I think that’s where it helps if you played the game [for] a long time and just love the game [because] you have a pretty good understanding of why guys react a certain way.”

The challenge tacitly embedded in the jobs of most studio analysts – Lundqvist’s included – is in presenting the information to the audience in a manner through which it learns without being confused. It is a delicate craft that takes time and genuine understanding to master, especially related to promulgating hockey analytics as Valiquette does on MSG Networks and within his company, Clear Sight Analytics.

“There’s a lot of educated viewers out there, but there’s also a lot of people that maybe don’t watch as much hockey,” Lundqvist said, “so you want to find that middle ground where you kind of educate both sides.”

blank

By broadcasting both locally and nationally in addition to working in a specially-designed business operations role, Lundqvist is staying around the rink in his retirement while facilitating the growth of hockey. Despite the profusion of young talent, dynamic action and jaw-dropping plays, viewership of the sport on ESPN and TNT’s linear channels has dropped 22% from last season, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.

For Lundqvist though, he does not feel much has changed from playing regarding his responsibility to advance the reach and appeal of the sport. He played professionally for 20 years, beginning his career in his home country of Sweden, primarily in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In the 2004-05 season, his final campaign before arriving in New York City, Lundqvist had won the award for most valuable player. Furthermore, he was recognized as the best goalie and best player, leading Frölunda HC to its second Elitserien championship in three seasons.

His NHL debut came five years after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers but unlike many rookies over the years, he came polished and prepared to embrace the lights of Broadway. Following an injury to starting goaltender Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was inserted into the starting lineup and, from that moment on, virtually never came out.

By the end of his first year, he had been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goaltender. Additionally, he remains the only goaltender to begin his NHL career with seven consecutive 30-plus win seasons.

“I think the league is doing a great job of growing the game,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to the product and right now, it’s a great product. I feel really good about, the best way I can, to promote the game [by] talking about it, but… it feels like I’ve been doing that for 20 years.”

One means through which Lundqvist attempts to grow the game is within the studio demos he performs with the NHL on TNT, displaying different facets of the game in a technical manner. The show also embraces the characteristics of their analysts and implements them in lighthearted segments, such as zamboni races, putting competitions, Swedish lessons and, of course, musical performances.

“I’m huge on mindset and the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “I love to talk about that type of stuff and give the viewer a better understanding of what goes through their heads. In terms of personality, I don’t know if I can say [that] I’m a serious guy because I love to have fun and laugh and do fun things.”

Lundqvist thoroughly enjoys what he is doing both locally and nationally, and he ensures he surrounds himself with people he wants to be around. There are plenty of other broadcast opportunities for former hockey players, such as moving into the booth as a color commentator or between the benches as a rinkside reporter. At this moment though, he is more focused on being immersed in his current roles, performing them to the best of his ability while ensuring he allocates time to spend with friends and family.

“I see myself more as an analyst in the studio more than traveling around and being in the rink,” he said. “I think that’s another thing with the schedule; it works really well with my schedule to have one or two commitments with the networks, but then I have other things going on in my life that I commit to.”

Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between playing professional hockey and covering the sport from the studio in terms of preparation and synergy. Yet the end result is not as clearly defined since “winning” in television is quantifiably defined as generating ratings and revenue. Undoubtedly, Lundqvist is focused on doing what he can to bolster hockey’s popularity; however, he also wants to enjoy this new phase of his career being around the game he loves.

blank

“In sports, you win or you lose,” Lundqvist explained. “With TV, you want to be yourself [and] you want to get your point out – but at the same time, if you do it at the same time you’re having a good time, I feel like that’s good TV.”

Once their careers conclude, many athletes think about pursuing a post-playing career and oftentimes end up taking on a role in sports broadcasting. On MSG Networks alone, there are plenty of former players who take part in studio coverage on live game broadcasts, such as Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils, and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders. At the national level, Turner Sports employs Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Wayne Gretzky for its studio broadcasts, while ESPN’s top studio crew includes Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.

All of these former professional hockey players had an obligation to regularly speak with media members, answering questions about games and the season at large. Lundqvist maintained a professional relationship with journalists and beat reporters, and he most enjoyed taking questions when the team was doing well. Regardless of what the end result of a game was though, he had a responsibility to divulge his thoughts and, in turn, be subject to criticism and/or negative feedback.

His stellar career and persona all came from emanating a passion for the game – and it continues to manifest itself beyond the television screen. Listening to those passionate about the game discuss it usually engenders euphony and lucidity to viewers, analogous to the sound of the puck hitting the pads or entering the glove. It is a timbre Lundqvist created 27,076 times throughout his NHL career (regular season and playoffs) in preventing goals, and one he now aims to explain en masse.

“The reason why I kept going to the rink and put all the hours in was because I really enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “If you decide to go into media or whatever it might be, I think the bottom line is [that] you have to enjoy it and make sure you have good people around you.”

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Should the NBA Nationalize Local TV Rights Like MLS?

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

Diamond Sports has been anything but a diamond in the sports world. As subscribers leave cable and satellite for streaming services, companies are dropping RSNs nationwide because they are too expensive to carry. This has caused an impending bankruptcy for the company, which owns the local rights to dozens of sports teams nationwide. It is also putting the NBA, NHL, and MLB at major financial risk. 

In the short term, it is known that teams will still broadcast on their RSNs even if they aren’t getting the paychecks they were promised in previous rights deals. This will affect teams’ ability to pay players and could even create an unfair advantage among the haves of the sports world like the Yankees and Lakers and the have-nots. The NFL doesn’t face the same problems that the other leagues are facing because its rights have been nationalized.

With the NFL’s continued television dominance, college conferences also bundling up games together for more money, and the MLS guaranteeing themselves television revenue after packaging local and national rights together, could we see the other leagues follow suit? It is an option that is much easier said than done but it seems like we are moving closer to it becoming reality. 

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

The biggest problem the NBA and other leagues would face are that the local rights to all of its teams don’t expire at the same time. If the league were to sign a deal that included giving all local rights to a streamer, the amount which the league was getting paid would be very unique year after year. It would be crazy for a streamer to pay a huge chunk of money to the NBA all at once if the number of teams they have local rights to changes every year.

It would also be insane to pay an astronomical amount if the streamer is only getting the local rights to small-market teams like the Cavs and the Pistons. A major market team like the Lakers doesn’t renew their local rights until 2032. We’re still in 2023. How does that affect the league’s operating costs? 

The NBA would also have to figure out whether teams whose rights don’t expire yet deserve to be included in the pot of money garnered from selling local rights to a streamer. Whether they are or they aren’t, does it put each team at different competitive advantages and/or disadvantages when trying to acquire free agents or front-office personnel?

One of the most interesting puzzles to figure out is what influence a league owner like Washington’s Ted Leonsis has in this potential measure when all is said and done. Leonsis just acquired complete control of the regional sports network — currently named NBC Sports Washington — that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games for millions of dollars, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.

What does Leonsis do with his network if his team’s games can no longer air there? Can his team opt out of participating in a potential league offering? Or if the games continue to air on his network but are simulcasted locally on the streamer that wins local rights on a national scale, does the streamer have the ability to pay less money for rights?

If so, does that make the deal as lucrative for the NBA? And what does that mean for retransmission fees that cable companies like Comcast pay to Leonsis and other RSNs they’re still carrying?

The league will face a similar problem with the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks and other franchises that either wholly own or partially own a part of the RSNs where they broadcast their games. 

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions which is why they are written here in this column. Unfortunately for the leagues, they don’t have the answers either. But if the NBA figures out a way to nationalize their product even more and make streaming games more appealing by ending local blackouts, it’ll benefit the game more than it hurts the game. 

NBA, NHL, and MLB games are still some of the highest-rated programs locally in many markets when you look at how they rate vs. other cable and broadcast offerings. But at this point, the ability to charge everyone for a program that only ten percent of subscribers are watching is a losing business proponent.

The leagues should start from scratch and sell a mass package of games for maximum profit. It gives fans a more centralized location to watch their favorite teams and puts the leagues on a much more steady path than where they could be headed sooner rather than later.

Diamond in the rough to sparkling jewel of light? Only time will tell.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?

“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”

Jeff Caves

Published

on

blank

Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on! 

We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.

“I HAVE A JOB.”

With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon. 

I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”

You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far. 

Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service,  AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker. 

I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”

Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard. 

“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”

In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.  

I HAVE COMPETITION!”

That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.  

Continue Reading
Advertisement

blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2023 Barrett Media.