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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.”

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NBA Basketball Media Continues to Pile On The Boston Celtics

These Celtics have yet to win a ring and that is on them, but the media criticism levied against them has been inane.

John Molori



Logo for the Boston Celtics and screengrabs from ESPN
Screengrabs from ESPN's First Take and Get Up

They are the most unfairly criticized team in the NBA, a team that cruised to 64 victories and earned the number one seed in a very tough Eastern Conference. They have taken two NBA playoff series in five games respectively and lead the Eastern Conference Finals 2-0 versus Indiana.

I speak of the Boston Celtics, and despite these sterling facts, their two superstars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and the team as a whole, continue to garner criticism from the roundball media.

These “experts” say that the Celtics cannot be trusted and that they have not played to their potential. The Celtics have been to the Eastern Conference Finals six times since 2017 and made it to the NBA Finals in 2022, losing to the Golden State Warriors, but to listen to the basketball cognoscenti, you would think they are a bunch of green-clad slugs.

I get it, the Tatum-Brown Celtics have yet to win an NBA Championship, and I agree that if they don’t win it all this year, it will be a failed season for sure. After Boston defeated Cleveland in the Eastern semifinals, TNT analyst Draymond Green stated that no one cares that the Celtics once again made it to the conference finals. He is 100% correct, but that does not mean that the Celtics are utter garbage.

It’s really hard to win an NBA playoff series in five games. The Celtics have already done that twice in these playoffs, but instead of giving the Celtics credit for taking care of business, many commentators have denigrated them for how they are winning and the teams they have faced or did not have to face.

Joel Embiid was hurt. Giannis Antetokounmpo was hurt. The Knicks were banged up and the Cavs lost Donovan Mitchell. Well, too bad. Injuries are a part of the game. Are we forgetting the Celtics have been crushing playoff series without Kristaps Porzingis? When the Celtics get attention from the national media spotlight, it is usually with an air of disappointment and disgust. I’m wondering why.

ESPN and FS1 give endless attention, hope, positivity, and forward-thinking to the Los Angeles Lakers. Simply put, the Lakers are a mediocre to decent basketball team at best. They were dumped in the first round of the playoffs and if not for their history, LeBron James, and the city in which they play, they wouldn’t even be in the discussion. They are the New Orleans Pelicans with Snoop Dogg at courtside.

Still, the Lakers remain in the A block on many network hoops shows. Do you want to talk about a lack of trust, disappointment, and not reaching potential? How about the defending champion Denver Nuggets?

Yes, they have a two-time MVP in Nikola Jokic, but what about his team this year? They fell to a bunch of playoff neophytes called the Minnesota Timberwolves, losing Game 7 at home. Meanwhile, the Celtics took out an always tough Miami Heat team and a highly competitive Cavaliers team, 5 games each. All these Celtics do is win. Does it matter if the wins are pretty? Since when is that the media litmus test?

In a recap of Game 1 of the Eastern finals, a thrilling 133-128 overtime win for Boston, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps said that the Celtics almost “coughed up” another game at home. He went on to say that all the Pacers had to do was inbound the ball and hit a free-throw, and they would have won. Fine Tim, but guess what? They didn’t get it done and the Celtics did. Mistakes and capitalizing on mistakes are a big part of basketball.

Bontemps went on to say that if the Celtics don’t win Game 2 vs. Indiana, the Game 1 win will not matter. This is quite possibly the most foolhardy statement uttered in this year’s NBA playoffs. When four games win a series, every win matters. I understand that the Celtics lost Game 2 at home in their first two series, but so what? They righted the ship and swept both series the rest of the way.

During Game 1 against the Pacers, the Celtics jumped out to an early double-digit lead, but Indy came back to tie the game as good NBA playoff teams are known to do. ESPN’s Lisa Salters asked Boston guard Jrue Holiday how the Celtics lost the early lead. Holiday calmly replied that the Pacers are an NBA team as well. Exactly.

At the end of Game 1, after Boston stormed back in regulation and dominated the OT, ESPN play by play announcer Mike Breen said that the Celtics “survived” Game 1. It was an interesting choice of words that underlined the unfair criticism of Boston.

Coming back in a game, hitting big shots, and winning when it matters is not surviving. It is stepping up, closing the door, and being clutch. Breen is probably unfamiliar with these words because he’s been hanging around the Knicks too long.

On the May 21 edition of ESPN’s First Take, the talented and eloquent Andraya Carter questioned whether the Celtics can be trusted pinpointing Jayson Tatum in the conversation. Austin Rivers vehemently disagreed and the two engaged in a lively debate. The morning after the Celtics won Game 1 vs. the Pacers, ESPN’s Get Up crew still dogged them.

The eminent host Mike Greenberg asked the panel how Jaylen Brown could get open for the “easiest” three-point shot of the game to tie the game with just seconds left in regulation.

If you watch video of the shot, however, it was hardly easy. Brown was in the far corner with the 6-10 Pascal Siakam in his face and the Indiana bench just a couple of feet away most likely yelling Dicemanesque obscenities his way. These are the types of unmerited insults tossed at the Celtics. Brown hits an amazing shot with everything on the line and it is somehow considered the easiest shot of the game. Really?

Much of the rancor toward the Celtics is based on their stacked roster and the perceived lack of talent in their opponents, but let me get all historical on you for a minute. The nearly unanimously coronated greatest player in the history of the game, Michael Jordan, did not play all-time great teams in winning his six NBA Championship series.

In 1991, it was an old Lakers team. In 1992, it was the utterly forgettable Portland Trailblazers. In 1993, it was an aging Phoenix Suns team with Charles Barkley trying to get a

ring. In 1996, it was a good, but not great Seattle Sonics club, and in 1997 and 1998, it was the Utah Jazz. I’ll give the Jazz Karl Malone and John Stockton, but the rest of the team did double duty in a men’s weeknight league at the Northern Utah YMCA.

In fact, a team’s competition is trivial. If you win, you win. It doesn’t matter who is on the opposite side of the court. The Celtics have yet to win a ring and that is on them, but the media criticism levied against them has been inane.

Even the legendary Michael Wilbon piled on saying that if the Knicks were completely healthy, he would have picked them to beat the Celtics. All due respect to Mr. Wilbon, but a fully healthy Knicks team still may not have beaten the Pacers, sharpshooting like Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon.

On Get Up this past week, ESPN’s Alan Hahn said that Jayson Tatum is not in the same league as LeBron James. No kidding, Alan. LeBron James is the leading scorer in NBA history, a man who has defined the sport for two decades. Hahn doubled down however, stating that Tatum is not in the same league as Luka Doncic.

Doncic is an immensely skillful player, but that’s about it. His Mavericks are in the conference finals for only the second time in his career. He has taken his team absolutely nowhere. Doncic is the is the Josh Allen of the NBA. Super stats, but not a sniff of a conference championship to his credit. His name is Luca, and he lives on the second bill to Tatum.

On the May 22 edition of First Take, Stephen A. Smith noted that Jayson Tatum scored 12 points in the Game 1 overtime period, but also added that Tatum shot 2-10 in the fourth quarter and early in overtime.

Fair enough, but he then stated, “You’re looking for him, and he was nowhere to be found when it really counted.” Huh? So, it didn’t really count in overtime? Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Celtics and the Pacers was a tremendous NBA playoff game, one that should go down in history as a classic.

Instead, it became a springboard for continued unfounded Celtics trashing. Not every competitive NBA game is perfect. Teams make mistakes and miss shots. That’s basketball.

Game 2 saw the Celtics drub the Pacers 126-110 making them 10-2 in the playoffs with multiple trustworthy players delivering in the clutch. This series might end in 4 or 5 games, or could go 7, but to once again paraphrase Draymond Green, nobody cares as long as you win. Despite the baseless media negativity, that is exactly what the Celtics have been doing.

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Ken LaVicka Looks Ahead Following ESPN West Palm Exit

“The last thing I wanted to do was bus throw.”

Derek Futterman



Ken LaVicka
Courtesy: ESPN West Palm

Although April Fool’s Day had recently taken place, the message Ken LaVicka was delivering on the air early in the month was hardly a joking matter. In an announcement that came as a shock to listeners and LaVicka himself, he revealed that he was leaving ESPN West Palm after 17 years with the outlet. For the last three years, he was the co-host of the popular LaVicka, Theo and Stone midday program, which provided local listeners with discussion and revelry surrounding sports in South Florida and in the United States as a whole.

While it was insinuated to LaVicka that there were financial reasons for the exit, the entire move left him uneasy and uncomfortable, suddenly finding himself out of regular hosting work and looking for a new job. After all, he had been appearing on the air for the Good Karma Brands-owned radio station since 2007, one year after he completed college at Valparaiso University. Over the years at the outlet, he augmented his standing through shifts as an update anchor and fill-in host to eventually being granted his own full-time hosting slot.

The audience within the West Palm Beach and Treasure Coast marketplace had become accustomed to his voice and opinions for more than a decade, making the move difficult for both parties involved. In fact, as LaVicka was divulging the news in the last 20 minutes of what was his final show on the station, he articulated that it was not only he and his partners losing the midday show, but those listeners that encompass the audience as well.

“It was ultimately a corporate decision,” LaVicka said. “It was definitely not mutual. I would prefer to still be at ESPN West Palm. I am unhappy that I’m not at ESPN West Palm, but hey, we’ve been in the business a long time. I’ve seen a lot of friends end up losing jobs over decisions that come from a much higher paygrade, and so I think that ultimately that’s what happened to me.”

When reflecting back on the circumstances that led to his departure from the station, LaVicka believes that he was seen as expendable. Outside of his hosting work, LaVicka is a play-by-play announcer for Florida Atlantic University and calls NWSL soccer matches on various digital platforms. Although LaVicka is appreciative of the company’s belief for him to find his footing again, he is crestfallen to be off the air but conducted himself with professionalism throughout his egress.

“The last thing I wanted to do was bus throw,” LaVicka said. “Was I disappointed? Absolutely. Was I bitter? For sure, and I still feel bitterness towards the situation that unfolded. But I also think that the positives of the opportunities afforded to me by Good Karma Brands for almost 20 years, and also at the end them trying to, while making a tough decision that was going to have an adverse effect on me, try and do it in the most professional and classy way possible that you could in that spot, it kind of allowed me this freedom.”

There exists a dichotomy between LaVicka’s time at ESPN West Palm ending and that of the midday program itself. Upon discovering that he would not be retained, he made this distinction and felt despondency towards having to leave his co-hosts Theo Dorsey and Stone Labanowitz. The broad age cohort on the program and varying perspectives on sports was an aspect that LaVicka believes engendered a unique offering on the air. LaVica has been at the station the longest among the trio, and his partners understood the importance of having the ability to say goodbye to the listeners through the platform.

LaVicka remembers starting at the outlet and describes the first office he worked out of as an “absolute closet,” but it proved to be a place where the business continued to flourish. Originally being from Chicago, Ill., he adjusted to living in southern Florida while also having an ability to focus on growing his career.

The perception that he had of sports talk radio when he was studying in college and participating in the student-run radio station differed from what he ultimately experienced working at ESPN West Palm. It was preceded by a year working at then-FOX Sports 100.5 FM in Madison, Wisc., also owned by Good Karma Brands. LaVicka accepted the role three days before he was supposed to move to Dickinson, N.D. to work as a sportswriter for The Dickinson Press, deciding to pursue his passion in radio.

Nearly two decades later, he evinces an ongoing, axiomatic shift pertaining to multimedia consumption and content creation. LaVicka believes it has become more difficult for terrestrial radio outlets to find businesses who want to associate with their work and delivery methods, although it is dependent on the marketplace. The apprehension he possesses in this regard, however, is in whether talented young people will be able to secure and subsequently capitalize off opportunities.

“Local radio will not die,” LaVicka prognosticated. “It’s still too much of a bonding entity for it to go away completely, but the expectations of how much money a local station can bring in just using traditional means as its way of bringing in income – there’s going to have to be some forward thinkers in that local radio space because you can’t just go, ‘The person goes on air – sell sponsorships’ It doesn’t work like that anymore.”

LaVicka himself is currently looking for a new role in the industry and is not opposed to moving out of south Florida if the opportunity is right for him and his family. Since losing his job at ESPN West Palm, he has endured many sleepless nights and pondered over the amount of fortitude and patience he has within the process.

Even though he is not ruling out an eventual return to ESPN West Palm, he views the outcome as unlikely. The value working there, however, comes in being able to relate and appeal to a diverse, transient audience residing within the locale. Good Karma Brands is assisting him with the process by promoting his work and providing him with financial assistance as he prepares for his next career move.

“I don’t want to come off as cocky, but I’m very confident in myself that given an opportunity; given a role – a sizable role that is something that’s going to be consumed by a lot of people – I get that opportunity, I’m going to excel in it,” LaVicka said. “There hasn’t been any point in my career on air where I haven’t been given an opportunity and then it didn’t completely expand past I think what the initial expectation was, and this includes my time at Florida Atlantic.”

While LaVicka is open to opportunities in terrestrial radio, he is also exploring working in the digital realm and recently started a YouTube show with WQAM digital content producer Zach Krantz titled By All Accounts. LaVicka first met Krantz at Miami Dolphins practices and training camps when he was working on The Joe Rose Show, and they shared several laughs and memorable moments.

When LaVicka and his wife welcomed their second child into the world, it required a stint in the neonatal intensive care unit at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. Their newborn daughter ended up spending 72 hours there where her health improved. Krantz discovered the circumstance shortly after it began and reached out to LaVicka to offer his support, understanding the stress with the situation after his son was in the NICU for several months.

“[He] made sure to come find me at the hospital and put me at ease [and] talked me through the process,” LaVicka said, “and that was massively important to me, had a major effect on me and also gave me an idea of the type of person Zach Krantz is.”

Krantz came up with the idea to start a program with LaVicka, reaching out to him shortly after his exit from ESPN West Palm. Within his proposition, he explained that they already possessed strong chemistry and rapport and would work together to begin a show from phase one. Despite the program still being in its early stages, LaVicka can sense palpable growth potential that could perhaps turn into its own sustainable entity if it continues to grow. The venture is not evanescent, but rather something he is committed to growing in the long run as he discovers the media landscape and searches for the most optimal long-term solution.

“I want this thing to be broad,” LaVicka said. “I want it to be fun, but I think that I also want to make sure that it at least plays to our strengths, which is being petty sports fans; which is showing favor to South Florida sports, making sure that we’re being extremely relatable in the grand scheme of things.”

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How Advertisers Can Protect Their Digital Ad Spend

Invalid website traffic from automated scripts and “bad bots” will waste $71 billion this year.

Jeff Caves



Graphic for digital advertising

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) partnering with digital marketing companies for their ad spend can enjoy significant advantages. Digital companies, such as many radio stations’ digital departments, often have more expertise than SMBs in spending money wisely to generate website traffic and, crucially, in avoiding the waste of ad dollars on fake traffic. Fake website traffic has increased by 33% in just two years. Invalid website traffic (IVT) from automated scripts and “bad bots” will waste $71 billion this year. Here are some questions advertisers can ask their digital partner to help eliminate fake ad engagement:

Make Data and Machines Work

Ask your digital partner if they use advanced data analytics and machine learning to optimize your ad spend. By employing predictive analytics—predicting future outcomes—savvy digital marketers can identify audiences most likely to engage genuinely with your ads. Inquire if they use Google Analytics and how it can help flag potential fraud and protect your investment.

Blockchain Technology for Ad Verification

To ensure transparency and security in your ad campaigns, some digital marketers leverage blockchain technology. This technology records every click and impression, guaranteeing that each interaction is genuine and that payments are made only for verified interactions. Blockchain makes it more difficult to change, hack, or manipulate data.

Advanced Attribution Models

Check if your partner uses multi-touch attribution models, which consider all touchpoints in the customer’s journey to your website. This approach provides a comprehensive view of how each ad contributes to conversions. Algorithmic attribution models apply sophisticated algorithms to improve ROI measurement.

Partnerships with Anti-Fraud Organizations

Ask if they collaborate with anti-fraud organizations to reduce fraud in digital advertising. Some digital companies ensure that campaigns and partners are certified by organizations like TAG, guaranteeing that ad placements are genuine and not plagued with fake engagements.

Private Marketplaces

Ensure that ad placements are with trusted publishers, reducing the risk of fraud. Some digital companies use private marketplaces, where a limited number of advertisers can buy and access premium inventory that is less susceptible to fraud, ensuring higher-quality ad placements for your business.

Real-Time Bidding (RTB) and Enhanced Filters

Your digital partner should set criteria for real-time bidding to ensure only high-quality, vetted traffic is considered. Real-Time Bidding is an auction setting where ad impressions are sold and bought. And transactions occur within seconds. Once an advertiser’s bid wins the auction, their digital ad is instantaneously shown on the website or property of the publisher.

Dynamic bidding strategies can adjust in real time based on the quality and performance of the inventory, maximizing the efficiency of your ad spend. Attempting this on your own can be challenging and less effective.

Focus on User Engagement Metrics

Ensure that deeper engagement metrics are employed, such as time spent on a page, scroll depth, and interaction rates, to provide a clearer picture of ad effectiveness. Analyzing post-click behavior helps determine the quality of engagements, ensuring that clicks result in meaningful interactions.

By partnering with well-established digital marketing companies, SMBs can access advanced technologies and strategies to ensure that digital marketing efforts are practical and efficient. Make sure your website conversions are as high as possible. YouTube and Google Search are leading the way in combating bot traffic, while LinkedIn, Google Video Partners, and X are less effective at blocking “bad bots.” Finding a reliable digital partner is crucial to protecting your ad spend and maximizing your returns. Beware of the bad bot and ensure your advertising efforts drive genuine value.

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