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Meet The Market Managers: Vinny DiMarco, Good Karma Brands New York

“I think radio is still the great medium that it’s always been. You know, there’s a lot more challenges now as there are a lot more competitors, not just from the radio side of things, but we’re dealing with really any medium.”

Demetri Ravanos

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If you read these columns regularly, it is hard not to notice how happy and bought in everyone that works for Good Karma Brands seems. Vinny DiMarco certainly noticed. That is why when he had the chance to lead the company’s recent acquisition in New York, he jumped at it.

ESPN New York has one of the toughest jobs in the country. The station has to serve the hard-core New York sports fan and also giving clearance to ESPN Radio’s top shows in the biggest media market in the country. Threading that needle perfectly and turning into revenue isn’t a task you can just step into.

That is why Vinny DiMarco is uniquely qualified for the position. Before overseeing national sales for ESPN Radio, he was the GSM at ESPN New York. Back then it was owned and operated by Disney. He says that has given the building a real advantage in the culture department.

In the final Meet the Market Managers column of the season, Vinny and I talk about media coverage, recruiting people at the low end of the business in a time when rents and inflation are at record levels and so much more.

Enjoy this conversation courtesy of Point-to-Point Marketing.


Demetri Ravanos: After years of selling the ESPN Radio product nationally, what appealed to you about making the move back to local radio and leading a major market station? 

Vinny DiMarco: You know, it kind of put me back to my roots, Demetri. I started out my career, after a short stint at the national rep firm, I moved into local radio years ago at 1010 WINS and spent a number of years working for CBS, a little bit of time working for Cox Radio before I came to ESPN. So local radio was really in my roots. It felt pretty natural to make the transition back. 

DR: Good Karma has a great relationship with ESPN Radio and has for years. So what did you know about the company and about what their goals were for the New York station when you first started discussing this job with Craig Karmazin and his team? 

VD: I’ve had a long history with Good Karma in my previous role on the network side. I was developing business for our affiliate stations across multiple markets, including the Good Karma stations.               

One of the hats that I was wearing for about the last six or seven years at ESPN and Disney is that I was the liaison for Good Karma Brands inside of ESPN and Disney for the digital side of their business.               

I had exposure to these guys for a number of years and got to know them pretty well prior to accepting this role and moving into this role. So I had a lot of experience with them and knew what kind of company it was and knew what the people were all about and the culture. So it was really a pretty easy decision for me to move over when they acquired New York. 

DR: Are there moments where you are still leaning on some of the guys that have been in the culture for a while to understand the way things are done or had you had so much exposure that it was literally like walking from one door into the next one for you? 

VD: Oh, well, I had experience with the culture and the people from the outside. Certainly now I’m completely entrenched in it. So I certainly lean on some of the veterans inside the company, from Craig Karmazin to Steve Politziner to Steve Wexler and Sam Pines and Keith Williams and some of the senior leadership, including my boss now Debbie Brown. That really helped transition this New York team who have all been ESPN and Disney employees for the last number of years into the GKB culture. 

DR: So you mentioned the fact that all of these folks used to be direct employees of ESPN. You were that yourself when you were the general sales manager of the same station until 2011. I wonder as you come back into the building, what are some things that you’ve realized are very different, both about going from sales manager to market manager and also just about how much local radio has changed in the last decade-plus. 

VD: Yeah, well, great to come back to so many of the same people that I hired or worked alongside when I was here that long ago. They are still here. So it’s kind of returning to some of my friends and colleagues in the building and, you know, certainly making a coming back.    

I was a general sales manager and coming back as the market manager, you know, you have to take a little bit more holistic approach. Actually, forget that. You have to have a much more holistic approach to the business overall.                  

Sales managers, for the most part, care about one thing which is driving sales. All decisions are made based on getting to a number. As a market manager, you have to be more cognizant of what’s happening on the content side of the business as well as on the marketing side and in the community. It’s been a great transition for me quite honestly.                        

As for what’s changed in the business, I think radio is still the great medium that it’s always been. You know, there’s a lot more challenges now as there are a lot more competitors, not just from the radio side of things, but we’re dealing with really any medium. Everyone’s fighting for the same piece of the pie, and you know what’s interesting also, Demetri, is when I was here as the GSM, the New York market was a $750 million a year market. It’s probably less than half of that now. So it really has become more competitive. Dollars are shifting around. That’s why it’s so critical that GKB has been able to expand and really become a leader in the digital marketing space and really be able to take advantage of the shift in investment from our partners. 

DR: So speaking of that, I was thinking a lot before we jumped on today about that sort of, I guess, razor’s edge feeling that there is when it comes to gambling money in New York right now. On the outside we hear a lot about sportsbooks rethinking how they advertise, how much they are going to advertise, given the tax commitments there. What are you actually seeing on the ground? 

VD: At this point, we still continue to drive some great results for our sportsbook partners. We know that their strategy moving forward is probably going to have to change and shift. What we have to stay focused on is driving results for them, and we feel confident that will continue to be a part of their media investment.               

We’ll see where that industry kind of goes as we move towards the future. I think it’s going to change. You know, that customer acquisition period is no longer in the honeymoon stage. Their business starts to change and morph and we just have to be creative and work alongside them as partners to make sure that we’re helping them with their new strategy and continue to drive results for them. 

DR: So New York is one of the great ratings battles in all of sports media. Certainly, it’s one of the markets where sports radio gets the most attention. Whether it is Andrew Marchand, Neil Best, or whoever, you’ve got a lot of guys writing about what Michael Kay is doing versus Carton & Roberts each book. I wonder, just as an observer, how much do you think the listeners actually care about that? Is the amount of coverage justified? 

VD: I think that the average listener knows what they like and they know where to find great content and when to seek out that content. I think that the media likes to make more out of that ratings battle because it helps them sell papers, quite frankly. From time to time, there’s some misinformation as it relates to audience numbers that gets reported.                     

What I go back to, Demetri, is that we continue with our shows, to drive results for our advertising partners and serve our sports fans.               

Competition is good and healthy. Most big markets have, you know, two sports stations. I do think that the media likes to make more than it is because, again, it helps them sell papers. 

DR: So, Dave and Rick in the mornings and obviously Michael and his crew in the afternoons are  the local identity of the station. Then there is a lot of network commitment on 98.7. I can go to any of those same people I talked about and hear all about the disadvantages of that. But what have been the advantages inside the building? What have been the advantages of not only the national identity on air, but also the close association in that way with ESPN? 

VD: Look, we are ESPN. We’re the local arm in New York of ESPN. Those four letters come along with some tremendous credibility and resources and access. We’re able to get a perspective. I think most fans, while they certainly want to hear about their local teams, they also want to hear what’s happening right now. You know, people want to hear about what happens in the NBA Draft. It’s a big story, right? We also have a Stanley Cup Final going on.    

People want to hear about national sports stories and the coverage from ESPN is second to none and that translates across the radio side.                     

So again, we are the ESPN local arm and it’s been tremendous. There are some really talented hosts on the network side. Again, going back to what you asked before about fans, when a fan is listening to our station, they don’t know where that talent sits or where it originates from. They just know if it’s good content, they’ll find it. 

DR: Right now, as you look at where not only radio, but the media itself stands and all the diversification and all the different options out there, what is your sales pitch when you are recruiting non-air talent, whether it’s sellers, promotions, whatever? What is the sales pitch for coming to join Good Karma Brands and ESPN New York right now? 

VD: Look, it starts with the culture. Good Karma has an incredible track record of attracting great people and retaining them. That’s because of the culture and the people that are the foundation of the company.           

It’s a people-first company. They really do care about all their teammates and care that people have an opportunity to exceed expectations and grow their careers. It’s something that you can talk about and you can write about, but until you’re actually in the company and you’re actually feeling that and seeing it first-hand, it’s kind of hard to process because it’s a little bit different.                

We actually have the best of both worlds here with ESPN and Disney influence on our culture for the last couple of decades. Now we’re merging it with an incredible Good Karma culture. For people that we recruit, those are the things that we talk about that we want them to see, that we care about our people. We care about seeing them succeed and grow. And we prove that when we bring people on board because good karma has very little turnover. It is such a wonderful place to work. 

DR: Have you had to think about or change your approach to bringing in people at the lower end of the industry? I mean, the cost of living has always been very high in New York, but now we’re dealing with some record inflation. Does it concern you at all, as someone that’s over an entire building, that those people that will one day be your leaders are driven away before they even start just because of the nature of where we are right now? 

VD: Look, I don’t think that’s a problem that’s specific to sports media or any business in particular right now. I think it’s it’s just a fact of life right now.               

What we try to do is be competitive, especially with entry-level positions, and offer people the opportunity, as I just said, to grow their careers. I think if you show people who are coming in that there’s an opportunity for them to advance and grow their incomes and get to the next level, then I’m not concerned about it. This is really on top of it being a business where you can do pretty well in your career. It’s also a fun business to be in.                  

There’s a lot of other businesses that you can be in where you may have the same challenges with cost of living and things like that, but you’re not having as much fun, right? So it’s not always about the money, but certainly, money is a factor and you need money to live. But, you know, people want to feel good about what they’re doing. They want to like the people that they work with and again, have the opportunity to grow. That’s what we’ve been able to show people here. I’m really not concerned about the inflation and cost of living. It Is just a factor no matter what business you work in. 

DR: Compare the two sides of the business a little bit for me. For programing talent, New York City is like a beacon, right? Everybody wants to be able to prove that they belong in the biggest market. What about for sellers? Do you get interest from sellers that want to climb the ladder in market size the way hosts do. 

VD: We have seen that. In fact, we’ve seen interest from people across Good Karma who have expressed interest in coming to work here now that Good Karma is operational in New York City.               

It really depends on people’s situations. Younger people tend to be more able to relocate. Their roots aren’t so deep yet in the markets they’re in.               

But, you know, you can be really successful in this business without being in New York City or any major market. It’s really about the person.                

But we welcome that interest. If people are successful in one market, they can be successful in any market. You know, a good salesperson is going to be good no matter where you put them. 

BSM Writers

What Tom Brady Needs To Know Before His First Fox Broadcast

“Our panel includes a fellow player-turned-analyst, a legendary play-by-play man, and a broadcasting coach.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Tom Brady announced he is retiring from the NFL today. It happened literally a year to the day since the last time he retired.

The last retirement lasted just 40 days. Before the end of March of last year, Tom Brady had decided he was done pretending to be happy about embracing life off of the field and announced he was returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a third season.

I guess we cannot rule out that that will happen again. The difference this time around, at least for Tom Brady’s professional life, is that he has a plan for his future. Now that his playing days are over, it is time for him to start his ten-year deal with FOX to be the analyst in the network’s top NFL booth.

Audiences do not know what to expect. No one can deny that Brady brings star power. He is the GOAT after all, but we cannot say for sure if he will be any good.

The pressure is tremendous too. Not only is Tom Brady embarking on a new career, but football fans seem to have taken a liking to the guy he is about to unseat. Whether Greg Olsen gets kicked back down to the number two booth or he is forced to share the spotlight in a three-man booth, plenty of people will look at Brady as the reason we hear less from the guy regarded by many as the best analyst on TV right now.

Brady does not have much room for error here. Since that is the case, I thought I would get some perspectives from people that can help him out. I asked three people to give me their best advice for Tom Brady.

Our panel includes a fellow player-turned-analyst, a legendary play-by-play man, and a broadcasting coach.

THE PLAYER TURNED ANALYST: ANTHONY BECHT

In 2000, the New York Jets used the 27th pick of the NFL Draft to select Anthony Becht. He played for five different teams during his twelve NFL seasons.

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Courtesy USA Today

His broadcasting career began in 2013. Becht worked on ESPN for eight years as an analyst on the network’s college football games. He has since abandoned the booth to return to the sidelines. He will be the head coach of the St. Louis Battlehawks when the XFL starts its third first season this month.

I texted and asked him to look back on his broadcasting career. What does he wish he knew before he started? Here are the three pieces of advice that he had for Tom Brady.

1. Less is more. Folks want to watch the game and just know the “why”. Providing tangible information in a five or six second window is key.

2. Fans want to know about your personal experiences as a player – information and stories they can’t get or wouldn’t even know about because they never did it at the level we did. Share those when the time comes in a game.

3. Have a strong opinion about what you agree or disagree with, but be able to voice it without being demeaning towards players and coaches. It’s an art form and takes time to articulate that in a way that’s done right. I never bash any player or coach because a lot of work goes into be a professional athlete and coach. That needs to be respected but critiqued appropriately.

Anthony Becht via text message

THE PLAY-BY-PLAY LEGEND: TIM BRANDO

Tim Brando has worked with a lot of people. That happens when you have been calling football and basketball action on TV for as long as he has. When I called him on Wednesday to discuss what is ahead for Tom Brady, he drew on his experience with another Brady.

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Courtesy FOX Sports

Brando was working with Jole Klatt in his early days at FOX, but he and Klatt were not going to be an exclusive team. He remembers Brady Quinn coming in to their booth shortly after his NFL career had eneded. Quinn was about to make his debut for FOX. Before they were ready to turn him loose, the network wanted the former quarterback to get a feel for the pace and atmosphere of a broadcast booth.

I do think it’s important that you have a new talent understand what that workplace is like in the booth – the choreography that takes place, because there is choreography. If the ball is deflected, your spotter’s hands are coming together like a bad clap. If there’s a hit, who caused the hit? Who stripped it? So there’s a hand signal for stripping the ball and then recovering the ball with the arms closing together. So who got the recovery? Who caused the fumble? Those things are always helpful.

There are things that are going on frantically in the booth, but you as a broadcaster have to remain calm, understand it, and sound succinct and confident. That just takes time and it takes reps. 

That’s one of the great things I think that Greg (Olsen) probably had an advantage in, as do a lot of analysts that get better over time. They do games of lesser importance that maybe the whole world is not watching. 

Tim Brando via Telephone

Tom Brady won’t have the luxury of time or of reps under the radar. He may get to do a few practice games, but the first time he will be calling a game on live television, it will be one of the biggest of the week.

Brando says in that case, it is really important that Brady use his instincts to his advantage in the booth the way he did on the field.

I don’t know Tom well, but I know him well enough to know that he prides himself on preparation. I don’t doubt for one minute that he will be prepared. He’s obviously an incredible competitor. You know, this is a this is a business of competition too. 

If you’re a great player, just like a coach, you love the ecstasy of victory. You don’t want to admit it, but you love the agony of the defeat as well. That feeling of defeat is something we feed on to motivate you for your next performance. In television and sports television, you don’t get that in terms of winning and losing, but you do get it if you look at it as a great performance, 

I believe that all great broadcasters are performers at heart. It takes a certain level of of a theater. It’s live. It’s not scripted. 

I think some players that get in the booth that are looking to have that same, you know, euphoria that they have after playing and winning a game. Some of them get that and understand that in broadcasting and get out of that the same thing and others don’t.

Tim Brando via Telephone

THE BROADCASTING COACH: GUS RAMSEY

Plenty of broadcasters turn to Gus Ramsey for critiques and advice. The Program Director for the Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting at Full Sail University is also a broadcasting coach working with clients at all levels of the business. They trust his opinion because of his professional experience.

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Courtesy Full Sail University

In a prior life, Ramsey was the producer of SportsCenter on ESPN. He has worked with a number of incredibly talented people and been tasked with taking newbies to new heights, so I asked him what he would be thinking if it were his job to get Tom Brady ready for his first FOX broadcast.

Sometimes great athletes forget that most humans don’t know what the athletes know. Things that are basic or simple or even mundane to the athlete are incredible pieces of wisdom or insight to the average fan.

When I was at ESPN we had Tony Gwynn in for an episode of Baseball Tonight. In our show meeting, Tony was explaining why a hitter was slumping because we was cupping his wrist. He went on explaining it for 30 seconds or so. The room was in total silence, eating up every word. The greatest hitter of our generation was doing a deep-dive on hitting. It was amazing.

Tony suddenly got a little self-conscious, stopped explaining and apologized for “going on too long” and we were all like “No!! Keep going!” Tony thought is was boring. It was just the opposite.

Athletes can think things they’ve learned and repeated their whole lives are common knowledge so sometimes they don’t share that info because they think “everyone knows this.”

I want to walk away from a broadcast feeling like I learned something. Sometimes the ex-athlete doesn’t realize how much educating they can do in a broadcast.

The other thing I always encourage former athletes or coaches to do is to take the viewer where they’ve never been; on the field, in the locker room, in a contract negotiation, etc. If you can get that viewer to fully appreciate the feelings and emotions of what goes on in those places, you enhance the experience for us.

Terrell Davis was an analyst on NFL Network for a bit after his career. He once described Champ Bailey running back an interception 100 yards by saying as Bailey got to the 50 yard line “right here it feels like someone put sandbags on your ankles.” I’ve never run 100 yards in a football uniform in Denver’s altitude, but Terrell’s line helped me better understand what it feels like.

Gus ramsey via text message

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BSM Writers

Mark Packer Loves Reading Your Memories & Tributes to Billy Packer

“I’ve heard from all kinds of coaches. I’ve been blown away. It’s just another reminder of the impact Billy had on so many different people, not just the world of sports.”

Tyler McComas

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It still stands today as one of the most iconic moments in the storied history of Arizona basketball. Three simple words said it all as the Wildcats celebrated an overtime win over Duke to win the 1997 national championship. “Simon says championship.” Those were the words of legendary broadcaster Billy Packer as Miles Simon fell to the floor with the ball in his hands. It’s one of many lines his son, Mark Packer, has been reminded of recently.

It was the perfect three words after the country just watched Simon carry Arizona to college basketball glory. Packer captured the moment perfectly, just like he did during every Final Four for 34 years.

Packer passed away last Thursday at the age of 82 but his legacy and impact in sports broadcasting will never perish. He was heard during every NCAA Tournament from 1975 to 2008 and was on the call for some of college basketball’s most iconic moments, including Michael Jordan’s shot to win the 1982 National Championship, Bird vs Magic in 1979, and even Kansas completing an improbable comeback to win the 2008 championship in his last broadcast. And the best part of it all was that Packer did it his own way, with his own unique style.

“It has really been remarkable,” said Mark Packer. “When Billy passed Thursday night we put it out on Twitter and it took off but I didn’t really know what to expect on Friday and Saturday as far as reaction. But the tributes have been fantastic and our family has loved it.

“I have heard from just about everybody and their brother. Folks I never thought I’d hear from, I’ve heard from them, such as commissioners, whether it be the NBA, whether it be other Power 5 leagues, I’ve heard from all kinds of coaches. I’ve been blown away. It’s just another reminder of the impact Billy had on so many different people, not just the world of sports. To me, that’s been comforting to all of us. It just reinforced all the stuff we knew he was about and brings back special memories.”

Packer’s style of broadcasting has been well-documented over the years. He was honest about what he saw and always spoke his mind. Granted, that didn’t always sit well with college basketball fans, but Packer wasn’t concerned about that. He was honest because he cared. 

“He wanted the game of college basketball to be the best it possibly could be,” said Mark.  “When he saw things he did not like, the one thing he always did was speak his mind. He ruffled feathers and he didn’t care. His intent was to make the game the No. 1 priority. You realize now he didn’t have it out for your team, he was just speaking his mind.”

That style meant fans would often yell at games, ‘You hate Duke! You hate North Carolina!’ Packer’s honesty was often taken by fans as he hated their favorite team. He used to laugh at that, just as Mark does know when he thinks about those moments. That’s because Mark can remember feeling the same way as other fanbases as a kid growing up rooting for NC State. 

“When he was calling an NC State game I thought he was always out to get my team,” laughed Mark. “He’d be doing a game in Raleigh — we grew up in Winston-Salem — and the next morning after the game I would be eating breakfast before school and I would say ‘Man, Billy, you really got on so-and-so last night, what’s your problem with NC State?’

“He used to just laugh, because I thought he had an agenda against my team. Of course the funny thing is, we’d go on trips with him to other games and you’d hear fans say, ‘Billy Packer hates my team!’ It almost became a laughing joke, even amongst the family members, that Billy Packer was out to ruin your team’s day when he does a ballgame.”

Mark has always referred to his dad the same his television partners did. That goes for his two other siblings, as well. “Dad” was rarely, if ever, said in the Packer household. Instead, the legendary broadcaster was called by his first name.

“The fact they called him Billy on television, we never called him dad,” said Mark. “We just called him Billy.”

As you can imagine, ‘Billy’ had a lot of stories. That’s normally the case when you’re around the game’s greatest players and broadcast the legendary games we still talk about today. Packer was always quick to share those stories with his family, which made for an entertaining childhood.

Out of the hundreds of messages Mark has received since his dad’s passing, he says he hasn’t heard any stories he’s never heard before. But that doesn’t mean people haven’t been telling him stories about his father.

“We’ve heard them all, quite frankly,” laughed Mark. “Maybe the thing that was so funny about it was that it reinforced some that we thought were total BS when we heard them the first time.”

Packer will always be synonymous with college basketball and the NCAA Tournament. He was the voice of the sport during its golden era and helped bring the magic to TV sets across the world. If Mark had to guess what his dad is most proud of regarding his broadcasting career, he says it would be just that. 

“From a broadcasting standpoint, probably the Final Fours,” said Mark. “When you, I think the number was 34 I heard, and he did so many of them, for us, we kind of took it for granted. It was just something he did. It was March and Billy is about to go do March Madness. It was just fabric for not only him personally, but also the family. He just loved the sport and wanted it to be good.”

Mark has carved out an incredible broadcasting career of his own. He’s hosted both radio and TV shows with outlets such as the ACC Network, WFNZ in Charlotte, and ESPNU. Having a front row seat to one of the most iconic careers in broadcasting, undoubtedly helped shape his career. Mark is very forthcoming as to what lesson he took from his dad the most. 

“Oh, that’s easy,” Mark said. “That’s prep. He always studied. He was always coming up with notes and angles and facts. I have always done that with the radio and TV shows, that you constantly prep, you constantly read and make notes. You may not use but 10 percent of whatever you’ve been studying, but somewhere down the road you’ll use it again.

“When we were cleaning out his closet I ran into an entire box of old notes that he had from games from yesteryear. I kept every one of them and I can’t wait to look at them and relive those games and see his prep work and point of detail for all those games.”

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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of an Analyst: Doris Burke

“Doris Burke has an ease about her. A quiet confidence if you will.”

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Basketball and Doris Burke have been synonymous for many years. At the age of 7, she started to play the game that would eventually get her to the top of her profession. Along the way she’s recorded many firsts for women in this field which I’ll detail later. Burke has also become an inspiration to other women already in broadcasting and those thinking about a career in media. Pretty impressive. 

Burke was raised in Manasquan, New Jersey. She was the youngest of eight children, and started playing basketball in the second grade. She starred at Providence, where she was the team’s point guard all four of her years there and made an impact immediately. 

During her freshman year, Doris Burke led the Big East in assists. She was a second-team All-Big East player once and twice made the all-tourney team of the Big East Women’s basketball tournament. Burke held seven records upon graduation, including finishing her career as the school and conference’s all-time assists leader, a record that has since been broken. She served as an assistant coach for her alma mater for two years from 1988-90.

From there it was time to embark on a Hall of Fame career.

ROAD TO ESPN/ABC

Burke began her broadcasting career in 1990 as an analyst for women’s games for Providence on radio. That same year, she began working in the same role on Big East Women’s games on television, and in 1996 she began working Big East men’s games. 

Doris Burke has been working for ESPN covering basketball in different roles since 1991. It has also allowed her to do other things along the way that were unchartered for women in the business. In 2000, Burke became the first woman to be a commentator for a New York Knicks game on radio and on television; she is also the first woman to be a commentator for a Big East men’s game, and the first woman to be the primary commentator on a men’s college basketball conference package.  In 2017, Burke became a regular NBA game analyst for ESPN, becoming the first woman at the national level to be assigned a full regular-season role. 

If that wasn’t enough, from 2009 to 2019 she served as the sideline reporter for the NBA Finals on ABC. I mentioned it was a Hall of Fame career and it was officially deemed as such in 2018. Burke was selected to enter the Basketball Hall of Fame as the Curt Gowdy Media Award winner.

AS AN ANALYST

“Doris Burke has an ease about her. A quiet confidence if you will.” Relying on her past experiences in the game as a player and coach, the information she brings her audience is relatable. Some analysts struggle to bring home a point in a way that a casual fan will understand. Burke has no trouble with this. Her ability to spell it out, concisely and conversationally sets her apart from most analysts, male or female. 

Burke attacks her job, knowing that some will question her authority when it comes to commentary on the NBA. She doesn’t mind steering into the skid.

“I am mindful of the fact that I have not played or coached in the NBA,” Burke said to Sportscasting.com last year. “It doesn’t mean that I can’t do a very competent job. I think I try to do that every single night, and I’m never afraid to ask questions.” 

It’s all about the information to Burke, and has nothing to do with the fact she’s a woman covering the NBA.

“If you enhance a viewer’s experience, it doesn’t matter what your gender is,” she said. “As long as you are competent and put in the work … you’re going to be accepted.”

Doris Burke learned the ropes so to speak from several women that came before her. In an NBA.com piece from January of last year, she outlined how much she enjoyed watching former ESPN SportsCenter anchor Gayle Gardner. Early on in her career at ESPN, Burke got to work with Robin Roberts on WNBA and women’s college basketball broadcasts along with Ann Meyers Drysdale and Nancy Lieberman. Roberts was Burke’s inspiration as she started her career path. She admired the professionalism that each displayed. 

“Working alongside Robin Roberts … the one thing I would tell you is the most powerful means to change or impact somebody is by your actions,” Burke said. “She was the epitome of professionalism and competency and garnered the respect of the people around her because of the work habits she had. Watching Robin early on let me know that the basis for everything is the work you put into something.”

While Roberts may have been influential to Burke, Burke has been a beacon for other woman that are getting opportunities in broadcasting.  When asked about their role model, YES Network analyst Sarah Kustok, 76ers play-by-play broadcaster Kate Scott and former WNBA player and current Miami Heat studio analyst Ruth Riley Hunter all mentioned Burke by name.

“Burke is the best example for anyone — male or female,” Hunter told NBA.com. “I love the way she describes the game. She adds so much to every broadcast, and when I was playing in the WNBA I was always really inspired by her work.”

Burke is popular amongst her colleagues at ESPN/ABC, thanks to a tireless work ethic an ability to adapt to whichever sport she may be calling that day. Count Jeff Van Gundy among her biggest fans.

“She’s the best, most-versatile analyst and commentator at ESPN,” Van Gundy said of Doris Burke in 2017 via Deadspin. “She does it all—great interviewer, commentator, studio analyst—everything. And she is an expert at it all—women’s and men’s college basketball, the NBA and the WNBA. She’s the LeBron James of sportscasters. There’s no better broadcaster out there right now.”

Burke is equally a big fan of Van Gundy and the top broadcast crew for ESPN/ABC’s NBA coverage. That includes Mike Breen and Mark Jackson as well. 

“We are talking about three of the best to ever do it. Mark, Jeff and Mike have held down the NBA Finals for over a decade with commentary that is the best of the best. Hubie Brown is a living legend. All of those men have been nothing but gracious and supportive of me,” Burke told the Athletic. 

Doris Burke is considered one of the best NBA analysts around.  Her bosses at ESPN made sure to re-sign her to a multi-year deal and promised she will be involved in “high profile” NBA games in both the regular season and playoffs. Burke will also call finals games on ESPN Radio and appear on the NBA Sunday Showcase program on ABC.

Good for her and good for fans of the NBA on ESPN/ABC.

DID YOU KNOW?

In 2010, she was featured as the new sideline reporter for 2K Sports ‘NBA 2K11’ video game. She has appeared in every version since, including the latest ‘NBA 2K23’.   

As a senior at Providence in 1987 she was the school’s Co-Female Athlete of the Year.  

Her basketball idols growing up were Kyle Macy, Kelly Tripucka and Tom Heinsohn.  

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