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Anatomy of a Broadcaster: Adam Amin

“Whether you are watching him on a national stage or locally, the enthusiasm he brings to the broadcast is incredible. Fun seems to surround his broadcasts, no matter who he is working with or what sport he’s calling.”

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Adam Amin

There aren’t many broadcasters that have made a quicker rise to network status than Adam Amin. In eleven short years, the 35-year-old Amin has already worked at ESPN and is now coming into his own at Fox. 

Within the last two years, Amin added to his already impressive resume by being named the television voice of the Chicago Bulls. He works alongside former Bulls center Stacy King and the two have teamed up for some fun calls over the last couple of seasons. In that job, Amin was tasked with replacing the legendary Neil Funk on the broadcast. He’s passed that test with flying colors. Amin was named the NSMA Illinois Sportscaster of the Year for 2021, becoming the first Chicago Bulls announcer to win since Jim Durham in 1990.

At Fox, Amin is currently working in two high profile booths. He calls the NFL on Fox and also worked the playoffs for Fox’s MLB coverage. The Illinois native Amin will also continue as the preseason television voice of the Chicago Bears.

He graduated from Valparaiso University, where Amin started his broadcasting career on WVUR-FM, the student run college station at the school. He told The Oklahoman several years ago that he wasn’t sure he’d even get into broadcasting until he got to college. 

“I was like 18 when I started. I worked at the college radio station, WVUR, and really loved it and felt passionate about it and thought this is what I wanted to end up doing,” Amin said. 

ROAD TO FOX/BULLS

There were many jobs along the way for Amin, who started like many, in a small town, and doing a number of broadcasts every year. While still a student he called minor league games for the Gary SouthShore RailCats and Joliet Jackhammers. 

The next few years were busy ones. Between 2007 and 2011, Amin worked several jobs. He was a part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Digital Network, Fox Sports Wisconsin, the Horizon League Network, the Illinois High School Association Network and served as the Sports Director of KUOO in Sprit Lake, Iowa. 

Amin’s big break came in 2011, when he was hired by ESPN to call college football and basketball for the network. After his first deal was coming to an end, he signed a new one with ESPN and his exposure rose exponentially. In 2018 he called the Final Four of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament. He was also named the lead announcer for the NFL on ESPN Radio. Part of his deal with ESPN also had him calling the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Amin’s time at ESPN came to an end, when he left for Fox in May of 2020. He made his debut for Fox Sports in July of that year working a Cubs/Brewers game with Eric Karros. A month later, Fox announced that Amin would be part of the network’s NFL coverage, as a play-by-play announcer alongside Mark Schlereth. It was the first time he called a regular season NFL game on television.  He made his debut at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when the Seahawks beat the Falcons.  Later in 2020 he made his MLB on Fox debut in the playoffs calling the NLDS between the Braves and Marlins. 

WHY IS HE SO GOOD?

For a relatively young guy, Amin grasps the concepts of play-by-play better than some that are much older than he is. Understanding the times to get excited, and the times to be quiet is learned behavior over years of practice. 

There is one call in particular that displays both of these abilities. It’s the 2018 NCAA Women’s Championship Game. Notre Dame is facing Mississippi State for the title. A buzzer beater sent Notre Dame to a win over powerhouse UCONN providing a great broadcasting moment. But an even better one presented itself in the title game.

Here’s the call: “Ogunbowale, for the win…GOOD! Arike Ogunbowale wins the National Championship for Notre Dame! (He then lays out for 30 seconds as ESPN shows the celebration on the court) Arike does it again and the Irish do it again, for the first time in 17 years.”

Nailed it. He encapsulated every part of the story in just over fifty seconds and that includes the time where the crowd and pictures took over. That is just one example of many excellent calls from Amin over the years. His platform has grown, by adding the local Bulls broadcasts and now his expanded role at Fox, giving him more and more opportunity to impress. 

Whether you are watching him on a national stage or locally, the enthusiasm he brings to the broadcast is incredible. Fun seems to surround his broadcasts, no matter who he is working with or what sport he’s calling. It shines through when broadcasting Bulls games with his partner Stacey King. For example. 

His voice is strong and he uses it well. Amin has a presence about him. He has a command over the broadcast. There’s a confidence about him, that comes from that command, knowing he is prepared and ready for big moments. It’s one less thing to worry about. Combine that with his obvious knowledge and preparation and you’ve got quite a broadcast. 

Already Amin has developed a knack for rising to the occasion, to the gravity of the game and situation. There’s a big-game feel to his calls, meaning you know it’s an important game if he’s on the call. That’s quite a reputation to live up to, but Amin handles it well. 

LOVE/HATE WITH TWITTER

Amin has nearly 49-thousand Twitter followers, but has chosen to stop interacting with followers. He shared that information with Mike Golic Jr. and Brandon Newman on an episode of the GoJo with Mike Golic Jr. podcast earlier this year. Amin talked about how he would go on Twitter and search for his name to see what people would say and that had a big effect on how he viewed himself.

“I got tired of leaning on other people for my own self-value and that was a hard thing to come to terms with. Once I figured that out and said let me disconnect from this completely and see if it affects me at all, I think it has. I still get frustrated, I still see tweets and I miss the interactions.” 

Amin said he still checks Twitter, but he only goes there to look at information and does not reply back to anyone. 

“I can’t stop using it. It’s the greatest information curation tool in the history of the planet,” he said. “I can’t stop using this app because it makes my job a hundred times easier. Maybe if I stop interacting with it completely, maybe I’ll see it for what it is. It’s user-sensitive. You get out of it what you put into it.”

DID YOU KNOW?

He is the son of Pakistani immigrants. His father came to the United States in 1978. He settled in Chicago and worked in a factory. His wife, Zubeda, and three sons, remained in Pakistan, until Mohammed made enough money to send for them in 1985. Adam was born the next year in Chicago. His father passed away just before he called the Women’s Final Four in 2018. 

Adam’s brothers are 17, 13 and 9 years older than him. They are influential in his life and the three of them actually came up with Adam’s name. He told the story to The Oklahoman a few years ago.

“My brothers came up with my name. They all have really strong traditional Pakistani names, and they’d been going to school in the States for like a year before I was born.” he told the paper. “My mom wanted to name me after my dad when I was born and they were like, ‘yeah, we’re not doing that. We’ve gone to school in the states and they all make fun of our accents.’ They went to school in the mid-80s in America, so it’s like ‘why don’t we make it a little easier on him?’ So, I take pride in that.”

BSM Writers

Your Football Conversation Has To Be Different

I don’t know why any host would go with B- or C-material just for the sake of providing variety. That’s silly to me.

Brian Noe

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Radio

Rejoice! Ball is back, baby. Life is just better when football season is included; am I right? (That was a rhetorical question because I know I’m right in this case.) Like many people in this country, I’m all about the pigskin. Outside of my family and friends, there aren’t many things in life that I love more than BALL.

With all of that being established, a simple question still exists: is there such a thing as talking too much football on a sports radio show?

I think it isn’t as much what you’re talking about; it’s how you’re talking about it. For instance, it isn’t good enough to lazily say, “Ehh, we’ll start off by talking about the game last night.” Well, how are you going to talk about it? Do you have anything original, interesting or entertaining to say? Or are you just gonna start riffing like you’re in a jam band hoping to accidentally stumble onto something cool after six minutes of nothing?

Talking about football is like opening a new burger joint. Hang with me on this one. There are so many options — Burger King, McDonald’s, Five Guys, Wendy’s, In-N-Out, etc. — that you can’t expect to have great success if you open a run-of-the-mill burger joint of your own. Having an inferior product is going to produce an inferior result.

It comes down to whether a topic or angle will cause the show to stand out or blend in. Going knee-deep on a national show about the competition at left guard between two Buffalo Bills offensive lineman doesn’t stand out. You’ll get lost in the shuffle that way.

A show needs to constantly be entertaining and engaging. One way to check that box is with unique viewpoints. Don’t say what other shows are saying. Your burger joint (aka football conversation) needs to be different than the competition. Otherwise, why are you special?

Another way to stand out is with personality. It’s impossible to have unique angles with every single topic that’s presented. A lot of hosts recently pointed out that the Dallas Cowboys committed 17 penalties in their first preseason game against the Denver Broncos. But Stephen A. Smith said it differently than everybody else. That’s what it comes down to; either say things that other shows aren’t saying, or say them differently.

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh made a comment recently that too much of anything is a bad thing. So back to the original question, is there such a thing as too much football talk on a sports radio show?

Variety is the spice of life, but quality is the spice of sports radio. If a show provides quality, listeners will keep coming back. It’s really that simple. Sure, hosts will hear “talk more this, talk more that” from time to time, but you know what’s funny about that? It means the listeners haven’t left. The show is providing enough quality for them to stick around. If the quality goes away, so will the audience.

It’s smart for hosts and programmers to think, “What’s our strongest stuff?” If that happens to be a bunch of football topics, great, roll with it. I don’t know why any host would go with B- or C-material just for the sake of providing variety. That’s silly to me.

Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick said something interesting last week while visiting Atlanta’s training camp. Vick was asked which team’s offense he’d like to run if he was still playing today. “The offense Tom Brady is running in Tampa,” Vick said. “Pass first.”

The answer stood out to me because throwing the ball isn’t what made Vick special with the Falcons. He was a decent passer and a dynamic runner. The run/pass blend made Vick a problem. I totally understand wanting to prove doubters wrong, but there are a lot of athletes that get away from what they do best while relying on something else that isn’t their specialty.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is not an outside shooter. He’s brutal in that area. Yet Russ will keep firing threes at a 30% clip. Why? Attacking the rim and working the midrange is his game. You don’t see Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul bombing threes if they aren’t going in. He kills opponents with his midrange skills all day.

It’ll be interesting to see how Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa approaches this season. He’s received a steady diet of “can’t throw the deep ball.” Will he try to a fault to prove doubters wrong, or will he rely on what he does best? Beating defenders with timing and accuracy on shorter throws is where he finds the most success.

Working to improve your weaknesses makes sense, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of going away from your strengths. How is it any different in sports radio? If a host isn’t strong when it comes to talking basketball or baseball, it definitely makes sense to improve in those areas. But if that same host stands out by talking football, at some point it becomes like Westbrook jacking up threes if the host gets too far away from a bread-and-butter strength.

Former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is the only player in the Baseball Hall of Fame that was unanimously elected. He relied on his cutter — a fastball that moved, a lot — about 85% of the time. Mo didn’t say, “Man, my four-seam fastball and changeup aren’t getting enough respect.” He rode that cutter all the way to Cooperstown and legendary status.

Rivera is a great example of how playing to your strengths is the best approach. He also shows that quality trumps variety every time. Let’s put it this way: if 85% of a sports radio show is football content, and the quality of that show is anywhere near Mo caliber, it’s destined to be a hit.

One of my buddies, Mike Zanchelli, has always been a hit with the ladies. I think he came out of the womb with at least 10 girls in the nursery showing interest in him. He had a simple dating philosophy: “Always. Leave them. Wanting. More.” That might work in dating, but I think it’s the opposite in sports radio. Most listeners don’t hear the entire show. If they’re in and out, wouldn’t you want them to hear your best stuff when they are tuned in?

That’s why I say screw variety. That’s why I wouldn’t worry about overserving your audience an all-you-can-eat BALL buffet. I think it’s much wiser to focus on producing a quality product regardless if it’s well rounded or not.

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BSM Writers

ESPN Has Gone From Playing Checkers to Chess In Two Years

Those decisions make the future ones with the Pac-12, the Big 12, NBA and UFC fascinating to watch but what’s clear is that this ESPN strategy is different.

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In the days after the Big Ten news leaked regarding some of the details of their upcoming media deals, I was hankering for more information. I wanted more insight as to the “why”. Why did the Big Ten leave such a long-lasting and prosperous relationship with ESPN. I just couldn’t imagine it and it’s why I wrote about it last week.

It was in that pursuit of knowledge that I tuned into a podcast favorite of mine, The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast. The show’s hosts are deep into the weeds of sports media with John Ourand at the Sports Business Journal and Andrew Marchand at the New York Post. It was Ourand who was dropping dimes of news on the Big Ten deal last week. I wanted to hear him dive deeper, and he did on the podcast. But it was a throwaway line that got my wheels churning.

“This is about the third or fourth deal in a row that ESPN, the free-spending ESPN, to me has shown some financial discipline” Ourand said. “They are showing a bit of financial discipline that I hadn’t seen certainly when John Skipper was there and pre-dating John Skipper.”

I had to keep digging and folks, it’s true. ESPN is essentially Jimmy Pitaro in the above quote, the Chairman of ESPN. Since taking the role in 2018, he was put into an interesting position of being in the middle of a lot of big money media rights deals that would be coming due for renegotiation soon. The rights fees for EVERYTHING were going to balloon wildly. But in the last two years, he has comfortably kept the astronomical rates somewhat within shouting distance.

The big one, the NFL media rights deal agreed to last March, saw ESPN pay a very strong 30% increase for the rights. However, other networks involved had to pay “double” as Ourand so succinctly put it. He also personally negotiated with FOX to bring in Troy Aikman and Joe Buck to make their Monday Night Football booth easily more recognizable and the best in the sport. ESPN in that deal, that did NOT include doubled rates, got more games, better games, and more schedule flexibility. ABC gets two Super Bowls in the deal too. Simply put, Jimmy Pitaro set up ESPN to get a Super Bowl itself, but for now his network will take full advantage of the ABC network broadcast when the time comes (2026, 2030).

The recent Big Ten deal was massive because the conference spent forty years with ESPN and decided to reward that loyalty with a massively overpriced mid-tier package. ESPN balked at the idea. In their back pocket lies a lot of college football media rights deals with a lot of conferences including one that will be a massively profitable venture, the SEC package. ESPN takes over the CBS package of the “top” conference game. Yes, it paid $3 billion for it, but it’s a scant $300 million annually. Sure, that’s over 5X what CBS was paying annually but CBS signed that deal in 1996! I need not tell you all of the advancements in our world since Bob Dole was a presidential nominee. ESPN now gets to cherry-pick the best game from the best conference and put the game anywhere they damn well please to maximize exposure.

The F1 media rights extension is massive because of two things: one, they got it cheap before the sport littered your timeline on weekend mornings and two, when they re-signed with F1 this summer they paid way less than other streaming networks were reportedly willing to pay. The brand, the savvy worked again. ESPN takes a small risk for a potentially exploding sport and much like CBS did with the SEC for 25 years, can make massive margins.

I can keep going, and I will with one more. Sports betting. The niche is growing like my lawn minutes after the summer rainstorm. Pitaro has said publicly that sports betting “has become a must-have” and he’s full-frontal correct. ESPN is in an odd spot with their clear lineage to Disney, but it’s obvious something massive is going to come soon with ESPN reportedly looking for a deal in the $3 billion neighborhood.

Pitaro has been positioning this company from a position of strength. He pays big money for big properties, but knows when he’s getting taken advantage of and most importantly, isn’t afraid to pull his brand’s name out of the deep end.

ESPN may have an issue with dwindling subscribers, but that’s an everyone problem. The difference is ESPN is constantly trying to get you from one network ship you think is sinking into another network life raft. If you want to leave cable or satellite and go streaming, you can. ESPN+ is there to pick up the pieces. Or Sling (with an ESPN bundle). Or YouTube TV (ESPN is there too). Or a myriad of other ways. They are positioned so well right now to be where you think you want to go. Jimmy Pitaro and ESPN have been amazing at doing whatever they can to keep you paying them monthly.

The network has been aggressive with media rights deals but these newer ones have been diligently maneuvered by Pitaro. It was a choice to essentially back the SEC for the next decade, and to put more money into the potential of F1. The effort was a conscious one to keep a tight-lipped mission to bolster Monday Night Football’s booth. It was an understated strategy to reinvest in the NHL. Those decisions make the future ones with the Pac-12, the Big 12, NBA and UFC fascinating to watch but what’s clear is that this ESPN strategy is different. The old adage of “pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered” may have applied to the network under different leadership, but these aren’t eating pigs. These are boars.

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BSM Writers

The Producers Podcast – Big Baby Dave, Jomboy Media

Brady Farkas

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Big Baby Dave has his hands in everything for Jomboy Media. He joins Brady Farkas to talk about how he brings a unique sound to each show he works with.

iTunes: https://buff.ly/3A7FJ4a

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3bZ7NgG

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3dB4FrO

Google: https://buff.ly/3JVC5NG

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3STupzF

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