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The D.A. Show Hits Home at CBS Sports Radio

“We do a show from New York and I’m from New York but I desperately want this show to be for everyone and I think that comes from dotting the map in my career,” said Amendolara.  “I care that somebody in Omaha or somebody in Little Rock or somebody in Columbus listens and gets the show as well.”

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Damon Amendolara

It’s not that uncommon for a large group of people to gather in the backyard of a Long Island home in suburban New York.  Those gatherings could be for any number of reasons like a birthday party, a just-like-this thrown together barbeque for family and friends, or even just to have folks come over to watch a sporting event if that said backyard was equipped with a bar and a television.

But what about a national sports radio show doing a remote from a backyard bar in someone’s home?

Well, that, in a nutshell, is what The D.A. Show on CBS Sports Radio is all about weekday mornings from 6 to 10 eastern time.

“We just held that “Bob’s Bar” show two weeks ago and strategically that was about connecting with an audience that felt isolated over the last two and a half years,” said host Damon Amendolara.  

Bob’s Bar is the West Babylon, New York childhood home of D.A. Show producer/co-host/instigator Shaun Morash whose parents Bob and Nancy welcomed the show’s staff to their home for the second straight year.  But, for this year for the first time, there was also some of the show’s most passionate listeners onto the premises for a morning, afternoon, and, believe it or not, evening full of fun watching the New York Rangers playoff game on the television screen at Bob’s Bar.

The local and national sports radio landscape is filled with remote broadcasts from sporting events and some in areas filled with fans.

But not like this one. 

“We’ll do a show from one of our parents’ houses and invite an audience of just the most hardcore listeners,” said Amendolara.  “If they want to make the drive, come and we’ll spend all day with you.  I want them to feel like they’re one with all of us and if that means showing up at Mraz’s childhood home to have a burger and a few beers and hang out with us then that’s a really deep connection that I care tremendously about.”  

The D.A. Show is one of only two remaining full-time shows from day one of CBS Sports Radio.  When the network launched on January 2nd, 2012, Amendolara guided his listeners through the overnights and eventually the show “graduated” to early evenings, late mornings and then eventually to where it is now in morning drive.

Why has the show been so successful?

Because it’s unlike any other sports talk show in the industry because the host and the staff don’t really take themselves too seriously.

Sports is supposed to be fun and that’s what The D.A. Show is all about.

“I’m really happy with that part of it,” said Amendolara.  “The sports media landscape and specifically sports talk is kind of littered with debate and arguing, winning arguments and I’ve never, ever related to that.”  

Make no mistake about it… The D.A. Show covers all of the bases when it comes to national sports news and even at times sports items that pertain to the New York based crew. But the discussion is always organic and never has any manufactured animosity.  It’s a show that truly is all about appealing to an audience of sports fans who want to be entertained but also to hear voices that they can relate to. 

“I never followed sports so I could win an argument,” said Amendolara.  “I feel like in today’s day and age where the media, both sports and otherwise, are all lecturing or arguing or pointing fingers at the other side or people that disagree that an audience really doesn’t necessarily always want that…that there’s an exhaustion to that.  So, the fact that we have a lot of fun on a morning-to-morning basis is really important to me and it’s really important for my crew to wake up and want to come to work.”

Let’s talk about that crew.

Shaun “Mraz” Morash has been The D.A. Show producer/sidekick from day one on the overnights and he has blossomed into one of the most intriguing personalities in sports talk radio.  As Amendolara was getting set to move his show from local radio in Boston to a national stage based in New York, he needed to find a producer.  One of the candidates was Morash, already an employee of the company working part-time for WFAN Radio in New York.

“We started out as complete strangers,” said Amendolara.  “The bosses asked me to interview him and there was something about him.  I said boy this guy is interesting.  He’s just an interesting guy to talk to. Look where that’s gone nearly a decade later. I really believe that Mraz is one of the most interesting personalities in sports radio.  He just is all emotion.  He’s completely transparent, honest to a fault, flawed as well, sometimes completely relatable and sometimes completely insane but he’s always compelling.  It’s been a huge part of the show.”

I’m honored to have been part of that first crew overnights as the update anchor.  Kenny Brock was the board operator/technical magician but he departed before the show moved to the evenings.

It was, without question, some of the best times that I’ve ever had in this business.

Now in morning drive, Amendolara and Morash are joined by social media and digital guru Andrew Caplan, producer Pete Bellotti, and update anchor Andrew Bogusch.

“I feel really lucky that we have the guys that we do on the show,” said Amendolara.

“I think Andrew Bogusch is the best update guy doing this in the country.  He’s got a really clever wit and he gets the sense of humor that I go for, a little off-beat.”

“Pete ‘The Body’ is so good on the board.  He’s the best guy in terms of drops in the country.”  

“Andrew Caplan is the best digital guy in the country doing our stream and doing our social clips.”

“I’ve just been blessed with a lot of really talented people. You need everybody.  Great shows…you need more than one voice and more than one opinion and more than one person with the control over everything and I’m really lucky that I have this incredibly talented crew.”

Amendolara, a New York native, has enjoyed a sports talk radio journey that has taken him to Fort Meyers and Miami in Florida, Kansas City, Boston and now home to New York for his national show.  Sometimes, a national radio show can have a bit of a bias towards the city it originates from, but not The D.A. Show.  Sure, Morash cries about his beloved Yankees, Giants, and Rangers and that can be very entertaining, but the show is designed to appeal to sports fans in all parts of the country.

Having worked in several markets, Amendolara knew exactly what he wanted this show to be all about.

“We do a show from New York and I’m from New York but I desperately want this show to be for everyone and I think that comes from dotting the map in my career,” said Amendolara.  “I care that somebody in Omaha or somebody in Little Rock or somebody in Columbus listens and gets the show as well.  I’ve always felt like that has to be a priority that you don’t alienate anybody by talking about just the things you want to talk about.  You care that they want to listen because they relate to it.”

Not only have the listeners related to the show but a good chunk of them have been able to follow D.A. and the crew through all of the moves through the dayparts.  Thanks to technology, including podcasts, the Audacy app and YouTube, fans can follow the show even if they can’t listen live.  That has allowed the show to grow into the masterpiece that it is today.

“That’s been really cool and that can’t happen without technology today,” said Amendolara.  My career can’t be tracked by listeners in all of those dayparts or listeners that used to listen to me in Kansas City or Boston or Miami if we don’t have modern technology where you can stream the show every day on the website or you can listen to the podcasts.”

There’s a part of sports that we all take seriously because we want our teams to win, but there’s also a lighter side of sports and considering the world we live in now, having a platform like The D.A. Show is something that’s very important to the sports world.

“Sports has become so super important to people’s lives,” said Amendolara.  “We heard this so much during the pandemic…normalcy…return to normalcy.  You see with television ratings going up, interest in all of these sports skyrocketing…people need sports more than ever and that’s why I want to provide a space for people to really joyously love sports and have fun.”

The D.A. Show is truly a show for the people because it’s a place where fans can go to think, for information, a little comedy and to feel like they are really part of the show. Damon Amendolara and his staff are committed to making sure that’s on the menu every day.

BSM Writers

NBC Must Develop a Real No. 2 NFL Crew for Playoffs

Is the network’s only other option Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett?

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Several years ago, the NFL objected to NBC wanting to employ Mike Tirico as the lead play-by-play voice for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts. The league preferred Al Michaels because he was NBC’s No. 1 NFL play-by-play announcer and wanted the TNF telecasts to carry the same prestige as Sunday Night Football.

Following the network’s heavily-criticized broadcast of Saturday’s Wild Card playoff game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL may want to impose its authority again and insist that a top-tier broadcast team call the action of an important postseason game.

The consensus among fans and media watching Saturday’s broadcast was that Michaels and analyst Tony Dungy were surprisingly low-energy for an NFL playoff game, let alone one that became so exciting with Jacksonville rallying from a 27-0 deficit for a 31-30 victory on a last-second field goal.

Such a lackluster broadcast led to questions of whether or not Michaels was now past his prime after a season of calling subpar TNF games for Amazon and what initially appeared to be another snoozer when the Jaguars fell behind by 27 points. Pairing him with Dungy, who was a studio analyst all season, certainly didn’t help.

Dungy was as basic as a game analyst could be, typically narrating replays viewers could see for themselves while adding little insight. Worst of all, he demonstrated no enthusiasm for the action, leaving Michaels to fill most of the airtime. The veteran broadcaster showed that he can no longer carry a broadcast by himself. He needs the energy and back-and-forth that Cris Collinsworth or Kirk Herbstreit provide.

So how did NBC get here?

Most football fans know that the network’s top broadcast team is Tirico on play-by-play alongside analyst Cris Collinsworth. But they had their own assignment during Super Wild Card Weekend, calling Sunday night’s Ravens-Bengals match-up. With the postseason field expanding from 12 to 14 teams, resulting in six games being played on Wild Card weekend, NBC was awarded one of the additional playoff broadcasts.

Thus, another broadcast team was needed for that second Wild Card game. Fortunately, NBC had a renowned play-by-play man already in place. Michaels finished out his final season as SNF‘s lead voice by calling Super Bowl LVI, part of a powerful one-two combination for NBC Sports coming toward the end of its 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics coverage.

Ending his legendary career with a Super Bowl broadcast would’ve been a wonderful final note for Michaels. That appeared to be a natural path when Tirico moved from ESPN to NBC in 2016. Network executives admitted that a succession plan was in mind for Tirico to take over SNF eventually. At the time, Michaels also likely thought he would retire by then.

But when confronted with the possibility of retirement, Michaels realized he wasn’t interested. He was still enjoying broadcasting the NFL. His skills were still sharp. And perhaps most importantly, he was in demand. Amazon wanted Michaels as the lead voice for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts, bringing instant credibility to a streaming venture that drew some skepticism. ESPN considered him as its Monday Night Football play-by-play man.

As it turned out, ESPN made a bold move for MNF, swiping Fox’s No. 1 NFL crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. That left Amazon for Michaels, and the streaming giant paid him a commensurate salary with the top broadcasters in the industry as part of his three-year contract.

Yet Michaels wasn’t done with NBC either. After his agreement with Amazon became official, NBC announced that its relationship with Michaels would continue in an “emeritus” role allowing him to broadcast the network’s Olympics coverage and that additional Wild Card playoff telecast.

NBC can’t have been happy that most of the social media chatter afterward focused on the broadcast, rather than the game result. Especially when the discussion centered on how poorly Michaels and Dungy performed in what turned out to be a thrilling playoff game. That’s a pairing that the NFL probably doesn’t want to see again.

Michaels will likely call at least one more Wild Card playoff game for NBC since he intends to work on the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. He’s also under contract with Amazon for another two seasons unless he decides to retire before that deal expires. So perhaps the simple solution is keeping Dungy out of the broadcast booth and giving Michaels a better partner.

But can NBC drop in another analyst who hasn’t worked with Michaels all season? Anyone would arguably be an improvement over Dungy. Is it at all possible for Herbstreit to be hired on for a one-off playoff broadcast, thus ensuring that the broadcast team will have some on-air familiarity and chemistry?

Otherwise, NBC’s only other option may be its Notre Dame broadcast team of Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett. (The network tried that last season with Tirico and Drew Brees, only for Brees to wilt under the harsher NFL playoff spotlight.)

The pair also called USFL broadcasts for the network, so at least there would be familiarity rather than trying to figure each other out during a telecast. Yet Collinsworth and Garrett aren’t terribly popular with viewers. And as with Brees, that crew will face intense scrutiny with a larger playoff audience.

Unfortunately, NBC appears to be stuck here. Unless the new Big Ten broadcast team of Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge gets a shot. That might be the best option! Other than Notre Dame or USFL games, where are the other opportunities for NBC to develop a No. 2 NFL broadcast team? No one wants to put Al Michaels through Chris Simms in the broadcast booth, right?

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BSM Writers

Al Michaels Has Options But He Has To Make a Choice

“It does all of us in the sports industry well to remember 99% of our audience would gladly trade places with us.”

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I don’t ask much out of game announcers; get excited when appropriate, get the simple information correct, don’t get so caught up in your shtick you put yourself above the game. Al Michaels has been doing all those things well for the better part of half a century and few would argue that he’s not one of the best to ever do it. That doesn’t mean he can’t lose his fastball.

Before you read any longer, I am not here to say Al Michaels has lost his fastball. What I am here to say is Michaels has all too often this season seemed upset with and disinterested in the game he is calling. That isn’t entirely surprising when you consider some of the Thursday night action he called on Amazon Prime where the average margin of victory was almost nine points per game.

On top of that, the Amazon schedule had a dreadful two week stretch with Colts 12-9 win over the Broncos in Week Five and the Commanders 12-7 win over the Bears the next Thursday. It was in that Broncos-Colts game Michaels asked Herbstreit if a game “can be so bad it is good?” Herbstreit’s answer was “No”, by the way. It was the full 15 game schedule that Michaels told The Athletic’s media critic Richard Deitsch was like trying to sell a used car.

All of that is fine, the inaugural Amazon Prime season was not a smashing success. The streaming giant missed audience projections and will lose advertising revenue because of it. The lackluster schedule did not help that. But Michaels was given a second life; he was the NBC play-by-play announcer for the Saturday Night Wildcard Playoff game between the Chargers and Jaguars. It initially looked like Michaels might be the problem as five first half Jags turnovers had them in a 27-0 hole. But the home team staged a nearly unprecedented comeback for the win.

It was the performance by Michaels and, to a lesser degree, his analyst Tony Dungy that has led to criticism. Criticism might be too soft of a word, Michaels was roundly dragged for his lack of enthusiasm during the comeback and specifically on his call of the Jacksonville game winning field goal. The enthusiasm of the call of the game winner had a mid-3rd quarter of week four feel to it.

Me telling Al Michaels how to do play-by-play of an NFL game would be the equivalent of me telling a physicist how to split an atom. So, this isn’t just a Michaels criticism, few things bother me more than hearing a game announcer complain about the length or quality of a game as if he’d rather be anywhere else. It does all of us in the sports industry well to remember 99% of our audience would gladly trade places with us.

How many NFL viewers would sit in the seat Michaels, or any NFL announcer occupies, for free? They’d feel like they won the lottery if they also were getting the money those announcers are getting paid to be there. The guy that works a 12-hour Thursday construction shift just to get home and crack a beer for the NFL game probably doesn’t want to hear how tough that game is to announce.

On top of all of that, Michaels was given the gift of one of the wildest NFL Playoff comebacks you’ll ever see and, at times, sounded as if he was completely disinterested in being there. Pro tip: the best NFL announcer in those moments is Kevin Harlan (see: Miami at Baltimore from earlier this season. That has nothing to do with my lifelong Dolphins fandom). Michaels’ lack of enthusiasm was compounded by the exact opposite from Mike Tirico on the very same network for the Bengals-Ravens Wildcard game Sunday night. 

Tirico, like Michaels, has a sterling resume of play-by-play accomplishments. The difference is Tirico sounded like he was having the time of his life on Sunday night. 

To be fair, their two styles are different. Michaels has a very old school, Pat Summerall approach. Summerall, Vin Scully and Dick Enberg came along at a time when announcers were far more likely to let the pictures tell the story. More new school guys like Harlan and Tirico approach it differently.

Look, Al Michaels helped us believe in miracles. His place in the Sports Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame has long since been cemented. Being a hall of fame inductee doesn’t mean your style will forever be accepted by the masses. That leaves you with a few options; you can continue your style and accept or ignore the criticism or you can ride off into the sunset and enjoy the fruits of your decades of labor.

Al Michaels has what we all want; great options. He can choose any of them and be a winner in the game of life. It doesn’t matter if he enthusiastically embraces them, or not. 

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BSM Writers

Bernie Kosar Was the Victim of a Policy That Doesn’t Work Anymore

“The NFL has bigger fish to fry than Bernie Kosar. Hell, it has more pressing issues in Cleveland alone.”

Demetri Ravanos

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One week ago, Bernie Kosar lost his job on the Browns Radio Network for placing the first legal sports bet in the state of Ohio. Kosar, just like Jets coach Miles Austin weeks earlier and Calvin Ridley last year, violated a league policy that forbids team employees from placing a bet on any NFL game.

The integrity of the games still matters. The belief that what we are all seeing is being fairly contested is what gives those of us that like to have a little vested interest in the outcome the desire to lay our money down in the first place. I get the league’s discomfort with a coach on the staff of a team in the middle of the playoff hunt making bets. I get its fear of the message it sends to have players making bets.

Roger Goodell and the 32 team owners are well within their rights to object to men that can potentially control the outcome of a game or postseason seeding doing anything that even appears to jeopardize its fairness. Even perceived impropriety can compromise the league’s tremendous value.

But Bernie Kosar doesn’t have that kind of influence on the outcome of a game. He is just a broadcaster and not even a game analyst. He is part of studio coverage.

I am far from the first to point this out, but in 2023, the NFL has three official sports betting partners. Just last week, it approved the first ever in-stadium sportsbook, which Fanatics is set to open inside of FedEx Field. If the NFL is comfortable enough with the reality that its fans like to bet to make those things a reality, then Kosar losing his gig is absurd. It is the result of nothing other than “well, that’s the way we’ve always done it” thinking.

Maybe Kosar was terrible on the radio and the team was looking for a reason to move on. I don’t live in Cleveland and I am not a Browns fan, so I have no idea.

How many times have we heard that NFL owners hired Goodell to “protect the shield”? I’m not even really sure what it means or when it applies anymore. If I had a vested interest in the public perception of the league, I know that I would want someone to do the PR math on this situation.

Bernie Kosar isn’t an addict that can’t watch a game without the high of winning or the emotional distress of losing everything at stake, at least not as far as we know. This was a bet made through an advertising partner, to benefit charity. He even said on his podcast this week that the purpose of making the bet was to generate some money for former players in need of help.

This is like Disney threatening daycare centers with lawsuits for painting Mickey Mouse on a classroom wall. The NFL has bigger fish to fry than Bernie Kosar. Hell, it has more pressing issues in Cleveland alone.

Surely you have seen Garrett Bush’s impassioned rant on the Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show about the obstacles facing Damar Hamlin because of how many hoops the NFL makes former players jump through in order to get some kind of pension.

On January 2, we were all united in our concern for a guy that hadn’t even completed his second full NFL season. We didn’t know if he was going to live, but if he did, we all knew that the NFL had done everything it needed to in order to protect itself from ever having to pay a dime for his medical care. Less than a week later, Bernie Kosar was fired for what amounted to a charity stunt that was meant to raise money and attention to very similar issues.

At both the league level and the team level, there was incompetence that lead to a man unnecessarily losing a gig and to the Browns and the NFL looking horribly out of touch with reality.

Are we acknowledging that people gamble or not? Are we acknowledging there are responsible ways to bet on football and are interested in generating revenue off of it or not? Because it doesn’t seem to me that the same league that just gave the thumbs up to open a sportsbook inside of a stadium is really that concerned with people that cannot affect the outcome of games betting on those games.

Has the NFL come out and said that it is going to cover every medical bill for everyone that has ever played the game? We know that this is a brutal game that leaves a physical and physiological impact on the men that played it. Why would we make it harder for someone that knows that pain to help others do something about it?

I feel awful for Bernie Kosar. Whether he needs the money or not, it is embarassing to be at the center of a controversy like this, particularly because in the NFL in 2023, there is no reason for a controversy like this to exist.

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