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Paul Bissonnette Is The NHL’s New Media

“I like to beat to my own drum,” said Bissonnette. “I love the freedom. As much as I love everything network-wise… and getting to experience that side of [the industry], I’ll always want to do my own film projects. I’ll always want to say and be able to kind of bring things in the direction I want to bring them and be silly about it because it’s just sports and I think it should be silly.”

Derek Futterman



Paul Bissonnette

Suffering injuries is an aspect of professional sports that is universally loathed by fans and athletes. It can lead to the diminution of skill and ability, sometimes catalyzing the path to retirement. Although there are several methods to prevent injuries, they are hardly inevitable, a primary reason as to why today’s generation of athletes is preparing for the next phase of their lives while in the midst of playing. Whether it is during the season or the offseason, these athletes, some of whom refer to themselves as “new media”, tell their own stories by leveraging their platforms, creating content and generating levels of engagement they hope are enough to propel them into a second career in sports media.

Paul Bissonnette grew up in Welland, Ontario with his two parents – Yolande, a college professor for 30 years; Cam, a steelworker – and was an avid fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He got his start playing hockey at a young age as a defenseman, and at the age of 16, began what would be a four-year stint in the Ontario Hockey League. While in the OHL, he took the ice for the North Bay Centennials under head coach Mike Kelly – but after his first season, the team relocated and was renamed the Saginaw Spirit. Additionally, Bissonnette had the opportunity to play on Canadian junior national teams, including on the men’s under-18 team that captured the country’s first IIHF World U18 Championship in 2003. Shortly thereafter, he was drafted in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Penguins, making his dream of playing in the NHL closer to becoming a reality.

After two more years in the OHL, Bissonnette transitioned to playing in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) with the Wheeling Nailers, splitting his time with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the American Hockey League (AHL). Known as a tenacious defender and enforcer on the ice, Bissonnette worked to elevate his skillset and earned his nickname “BizNasty”. He then secured a spot on the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins roster, a team that would go on to win the Stanley Cup in a thrilling seven-game series against the Detroit Red Wings that ended on a sprawling series of saves by Marc-André Fleury.

The next season, Bissonnette joined the Phoenix Coyotes on a waiver claim, and spent the next five years with the organization as a role player, meaning that he was usually either in the lineup or listed as a healthy scratch. Nonetheless, he was grateful to be on an NHL team and did whatever he needed to do to stay there by utilizing every opportunity he could to make a name for himself both on and off the ice.

“I went from being a kid in Welland, Ontario… to being a fourth-line plug in the NHL,” said Bissonnette. “Even if it would have ended there – ask anybody who I played with in Arizona – I never took a day on the plane eating steaks and flying private and getting to experience the best league in the world for granted”.

After failing to make NHL rosters for both the St. Louis Blues and newly-renamed Arizona Coyotes, Bissonnette signed with the Manchester Monarchs, the AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings. Following his first season in which he played 48 games and served 167 penalty minutes en route to a Calder Cup championship, the team relocated and was named the Ontario Reign. At the start of the 2016-17 season, Bissonnette tore his first ACL, but opted not to get surgery and quickly rehabbed it so he could get back on the ice. In his first game back though, Bissonnette tore his other ACL, and ended his career in a fight with two torn ligaments.

Throughout this time in professional hockey though, Bissonnette was doing more than just focusing on his abilities on the ice. In his spare time, he would interact with fans on Twitter, talking about the game of hockey from the perspective of a hockey player. Once he knew his playing career was coming to an end, he began having conversations with Rich Nairn, the Arizona Coyotes’ executive vice president of communications and broadcasting, about potentially joining the organization as the color commentator for game broadcasts on 98.7 KMVP-FM, the team’s then-flagship station. While his time on the ice was ending, a door into sports media was gradually opening, setting up Bissonnette’s meteoric rise in the industry as a name synonymous with hockey coverage.

“It kind of really spiraled and really took formation in my last year,” Bissonnette said of his start in sports media. “There wasn’t really a plan as far as vision as to what I was going to do. It was more so was just kind of offered and I said, ‘You know what? That would be a good opportunity to start doing the radio broadcasts.’”

With play-by-play veteran Bob Heethius by his side, Bissonnette spent the next three seasons working on radio broadcasts and also created online content for the team; however, it was not the only role in sports media he held. Shortly after his retirement, Bissonnette began working on a web series for Barstool Sports called BizNasty Does BC, in which he explored the province of British Columbia while joined by hockey players including Shea Weber, Morgan Rielly and Connor McDavid. The web series was released shortly after the conclusion of the 2017-18 Coyotes’ season, and generated immense viewing numbers and rave reviews.

“I had already done stuff in front of the camera,” said Bissonnette. “It was more about being able to test the creative side, and also with the social media stuff and the original content tending to do pretty [well] just overall from the broad scale – [so] I did that.”

Before joining the radio, Bissonnette had appeared on the Spittin’ Chiclets hockey podcast various times, hosted by his former Penguins teammate Ryan Whitney, along with Barstool Sports writer Rear Admiral and show producer Mike Grinnell. The show, released periodically whether or not there is hockey being played, focuses on the NHL while also talking about other aspects of sports and pop culture at large. Halfway through his first season on the radio, Bissonnette was asked to join as a co-host of the podcast, and while he was excited for the opportunity, he decided to wait until he concluded his first season as a color commentator to make it official.

“It was something that started as a tweet many years prior with Whit reaching out to myself and Colby Armstrong,” said Bissonnette. “After being a guest on the show [and] seeing the positivity from the fanbase, they figured it would be wise to add another guy. I did that at the end of that first season with the Coyotes [because I] just really wanted to make sure I got my feet wet and was comfortable doing the media thing. Then, [I] took the plunge into the podcast.”

After three seasons working as a color commentator on the radio, Bissonnette transitioned to become a studio analyst with the Arizona Coyotes, providing his insight during pregame, intermission and postgame shows. He worked in that role throughout the 2020-21 season before the National Hockey League agreed to a new multiplatform media rights deal with ESPN and Turner Sports reportedly worth in excess of a combined $625 million per year. Both networks made it a point to bring on a wide array of commentators and analysts with the intention of garnering ratings and revenue on linear and direct-to-consumer platforms while helping to grow the game of hockey on a global scale.

ESPN’s primary broadcast team was announced as Sean McDonough on the play-by-play, Ray Ferraro as the lead analyst and Emily Kaplan as the network reporter. In the studio, coverage was hosted by Steve Levy, who was joined by Hockey Hall of Fame members Mark Messier and Chris Chelios as studio analysts. The network broadcast the 2021-22 Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, and held the rights to this year’s Stanley Cup Finals between the Lightning and Colorado Avalanche.

Conversely, Turner Sports announced its primary broadcast team as Kenny Albert on the play-by-play and Eddie Olczyk as the lead analyst, with a rotation of ice-level analysts and reporters throughout the season. The studio coverage was anchored by Liam McHugh, and featured analysts and former players Rick Tocchet, Anson Carter, Wayne Gretzky and, of course, Bissonnette.

“It’s different, and I think from never really saying ‘no’ to anything, it taught me how to adapt and try to learn on the fly,” Bissonnette said of his first season on national television. “….With TNT and all of the guys involved, that helped for the transition and really helped get my feet wet even more so on the broadcasting side… It evolved, and I was really able to get my reps with the Coyotes and learn from my mistakes, and then that’s what helped me transition to the broadcast.”

Bissonnette is regularly in Turner’s Atlanta-based studios during national game coverage, the same facility where Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal broadcast the award-winning Inside the NBA. Building the chemistry and rapport akin to the crew on that show is something that was quickly established from the day of Bissonnette’s tryout at Turner Sports. In fact, it was an easy transition for him since the Inside the NBA staff ran the tryout and Barkley helped commence the network’s NHL studio coverage.

“Having Charles [Barkley] on that show that we did just to kick things off took a lot of the pressure [off] and added a lot of levity to the group,” reflected Bissonnette. “It was such a special moment for us to start the season, and it kicked us off in the right way.”

While Bissonnette and his colleagues knew how to interact with one another on the show, the challenge was keeping the momentum going throughout the lengthy 82-game season. Hockey is often regarded as being inferior to football, basketball and baseball in terms of its popularity within the American sports landscape; however, Bissonnette believes the game is in the midst of sustained growth, especially because of the excitement derived from the playoffs. That requires a shift in thinking from covering the game from a team perspective to covering players, both from their games on the ice to their personalities and lifestyles off of it.

“I think there is a fine balance in still keeping the integrity of the tradition of hockey and how it is more team-oriented, but ultimately what we know is that the individuals and the stars drive the sport; people want to know about the individuals – that’s how they get more drawn-in,” remarked Bissonnette. “I feel like the league is doing a better job – teams are allowing more access, even doing their own.”

One of the catalysts to help grow the game is in its media coverage, something Bissonnette finds himself within more so than ever before as a color commentator, studio analyst and podcaster. While there is some element of competition between NHL coverage from ESPN as opposed to Turner Sports, Bissonnette knows that having the league shown nationally across two large networks gives the sport a better chance to permeate into the psyche of sports fans in general, and even potentially attract those not interested in sports.

“I think we’re just happy that the game is growing,” said Bissonnette. “We’re happy that both networks were able to get in. I just think that we’re professional and we want to do our best every show. We make sure that we’re brainstorming and putting in opinions and really doing a lot of the due diligence and brainstorming before we ever get there.”

From the inaugural pregame show in-studio to the outdoor game between the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators from Nissan Stadium in Nashville to a lost bet that resulted in his head being shaved on national television, Bissonnette’s first year on national NHL coverage was certainly a memorable one. He has been able to successfully appeal to various demographics across multiple platforms, and has helped bring out the personalities of his other colleagues as well throughout the course of the season. As he looks ahead to another busy season with Turner Sports set to broadcast the Stanley Cup Finals, Bissonnette is excited to create more memorable moments on the air – but that comes with first improving the existing product.

Paul Bissonnette shaven head.
Paul Bissonnette had to shave his head after losing a bet

“Knowing that we have the Finals — it’s awesome!,” Bissonnette exclaimed. “[Not having it this year] was almost a blessing in disguise because this was the first time that I’ve ever done network, and then being on throughout the whole playoffs the way that we were, I probably would have been gassed for the Finals. Getting to learn that stamina was a blessing in disguise, so I’m just really looking forward to everybody getting back in the saddle, learning from our mistakes, getting better and trying to amplify the product for next year.”

Despite being a studio analyst for Turner Sports’ coverage of the National Hockey League, Bissonnette still enjoys podcasting because of the freedom it gives him to talk about topics in the ways he desires to discuss them. He and his colleagues look at their podcast, which is associated with Barstool Sports, as a business, trying to maximize opportunities for innovation and reach.

“I like to beat to my own drum,” said Bissonnette. “I love the freedom. As much as I love everything network-wise… and getting to experience that side of [the industry], I’ll always want to do my own film projects. I’ll always want to say and be able to kind of bring things in the direction I want to bring them and be silly about it because it’s just sports and I think it should be silly.”

The “new media” movement, exemplified in the NBA with the endeavors of Draymond Green joining Turner Sports as a contributor and hosting a podcast on The Volume, shows no signs of slowing down. Yet there seems to be a smaller cohort of NHL players willing to express their opinions or show their personalities off the ice than in leagues like the NBA, potentially stymying the acceleration of growth in that regard.

“Hockey players are a little bit less likely to stand out,” Bissonnette said. “I think that’s why P.K. Subban is so embraced and has such a big following – because hockey fans are starving to see guys allow them access into their life… I definitely think more players will start doing that and opening up themselves more and more to fans.”

The sport of hockey definitively remains on an upward trajectory, with both regional and national networks displaying the nascent pace, perseverance and proficiency of its players on a near-daily basis over nearly seven months – preseason and playoff games notwithstanding. The excitement engendered by the sport, along with its growing appeal to those within younger demographics, is reason to be optimistic about the future of the game.

“In my personal opinion, I think that the trajectory that hockey is on could maybe someday potentially compete with the NBA – maybe be a little bit behind it – but I think it’s past baseball,” Bissonnette said. “I think that hockey is on a rocket ship and there’s more development and more skill, so overall, there is room for improvement, but I am very impressed with the way they are evolving and allowing these guys to show more personality and putting these guys on a pedestal.”

Indeed, Bissonnette has effectuated a robust second career for himself after a devastating injury ended his playing career. He hopes to continue to bring his light-hearted, convivial spirit to his current media jobs, along with opportunities that may arise in the future.

“The biggest compliment we can get as a podcast when we’re on the road is, ‘Hey, I wasn’t even a big hockey fan, but since I started following your guys’ podcast, I started paying attention more and I became the biggest hockey fan,’” Bissonnette said. “For what the game has done for me personally and the life it’s led me and the path it’s led me down, now it’s all about trying to grow the game and give back to this amazing sport.”

BSM Writers

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

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

Demetri Ravanos




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

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

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

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

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

Now, I will add this. I used to LOVE baseball. It is the sport I played in high school. The Yankees’ logo was on the groom’s cake at my wedding. Then I had kids. Forget 162 games. Even five games didn’t fit into my lifestyle. Maybe somewhere deep down, I still have feelings for the sport, but they are buried by years of neglect and actively shunning the sport.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BSM Writers

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

The potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BSM Writers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrett Media Writers

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