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Tyrone Johnson Striving For The Best Show Ever on 97.5 The Fanatic

Over the years, Johnson was encouraged by his colleagues to do more in the industry while his bosses discouraged him from trying new things. In fact, in 2004, both a boss and a co-worker told him that he would scare white people if he started hosting, as there were no Black radio hosts that were not former athletes at that time.

Derek Futterman




When you name a brand new afternoon show The Best Show Ever?, it raises questions about the ceiling of the program and, quite frankly, just how realistic it is. For Tyrone Johnson and his co-hosts at 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, the title represents the objective of the show — to routinely finish at the top of the ratings book. Moreover, it embodies what he believes the impassioned, zealous base of Philadelphia sports fans deserve to consume daily.

“It’s an aspirational title,” Johnson said. “Have we hit the mark already? Absolutely not. We are not currently the best show ever. But the goal every single day is to truly be that, and that’s every segment, every minute – and if we fall short, we fall short. That’s truly the goal, and it reminds each and every one of us why we’re doing this.”

Johnson, who has been working in sports media for nearly two decades, first recalls becoming interested in the industry by chance on a frigid winter day in “The City of Brotherly Love.” On snow days, children were expected to earn money by shoveling snow around their neighborhoods, clearing it to help expedite its melting, and ensure residents would stay safe. One day after shoveling, Johnson, who was 12 years old at the time, returned home and saw an old radio left by the previous homeowners. Curious to see if the device still worked, he turned it on and, as if it was by fate, was greeted by new sounds that engrossed and instantly mesmerized him: those of sports talk radio programming.

“I remember thinking from that moment – because my parents would only listen to music – [that] I wanted to do this,” Johnson said. “I never really wanted to do anything else since.”

Johnson attended Rutgers University in Camden, N.J., and studied communications; however, he never utilized the radio station on campus to learn the craft and hone his skills. Instead, he was already working professionally in the industry as a producer at SportsRadio 94WIP, which was an AM-exclusive radio station at the time. Landing that role as a college student took shrewd observation and unyielding persistence, and it paid off when he was hired at 20 years old.

“I had learned that [WIP] had to be short people because there were bosses setting up remote broadcasts and I knew that wasn’t right so I knew they had to be hiring,” Johnson said. “I faxed in my résumé like 100 times [and] they ended up calling me and saying: ‘I got it. I got it.’ I was like: ‘You know on this end, the confirmation sheet is saying that I didn’t go through,’ so I kind of told a lie there.”

Rather than utilizing Rutgers University to land a job, Johnson was working and attending classes simultaneously, indicative of a work ethic and versatile set of skills that continue to carry him in the industry today. Johnson went from producing to engineering when he landed a job at New Jersey 101.5 as its assistant chief engineer in the spring of 2004 and worked in a similar role for Millennium Radio Group as well. Additionally, he had an opportunity to be an on-air host at 97.3 ESPN-FM in Millville, N.J. hosting a Saturday show discussing sports and current events called The Weekend Sports Guide.

Working in all of these different roles early in his radio career gave him exposure to many facets of the industry, and while that may seem daunting to some, it is exactly what Johnson wanted from the start.

“I love radio – period,” Johnson affirmed. “I actually get personally offended when people say anything bad about it…. There’s not a single thing involved with radio I didn’t like doing, but I was sort of thankful that I was working and making a living doing something that I really, really liked.”

Over the years, Johnson was encouraged by his colleagues to do more in the industry while his bosses discouraged him from trying new things. In fact, in 2004, both a boss and a co-worker told him that he would scare white people if he started hosting, as there were no Black radio hosts that were not former athletes at that time. Motivated to break that stereotype, Johnson moved to then-94.5 The Hawk in Manahawkin, N.J. where he hosted a sports and rock show, but was let go one year later when the station was sold.

From there, he took a role outside of sports an hour north in Monmouth Junction, N.J. with The Wall Street Journal in its radio department. At this business-focused media outlet, Johnson was not only engineering but also served as a tape desk editor occasionally reporting on business news. He attributes being hired to his capability to demonstrate his versatility and espouse an edurite approach towards his work.

“I was always sort of producing even when I wasn’t producing, so when The Wall Street Journal opportunity came out, that was an opportunity to break the stereotypes that people had kind of said about me,” Johnson explained. “….Producing helped me keep on growing and keep on learning and proving people wrong.”

After leaving The Wall Street Journal when the radio department closed in early 2015, Johnson relocated to New York City — the home of some of Philadelphia’s biggest sports rivals such as the New York Giants and New York Mets — to produce for The Blaze Radio Network. During his time in “The Big Apple,” Johnson saw the passion exuded by New York sports fans for their teams; however, there was one major difference evident between the two cities – that being the commitment fans make to their teams.

“We build our lives around sports in Philadelphia,” Johnson said. “There’s no: ‘Oh, well we’ll see the next game if we miss this game.’ No, no, no – that doesn’t really exist on a grand scale with Philadelphia fans…. New York is a great sports city and a tough sports city, but Philadelphia is a greater sports city. It just is. They’re the best of the best; one of one.”

The innate fanaticism and passion displayed on game days in Philadelphia has cultivated a penchant for sports content, ultimately bringing him back home two years later to join 97.5 The Fanatic. Throughout his time at the station, Johnson worked as a producer and joined The Mike Missanelli Show in that role in 2016. Missanelli, the show’s primary host, taught Johnson several invaluable lessons in the industry, including how to effectively connect with an audience.

“It was about being genuine [and] about being my true self,” Johnson said. “There have been times throughout my career where different bosses have told me not to be myself. Mike made it very clear that’s the only way you can have that real relationship with the audience – by being your authentic self – because they’ll know [if] you’re not being authentic.”

This past May, Mike Missanelli abruptly exited from 97.5 The Fanatic upon the expiration of his contract, opening up the afternoon slot. In the period between Missanelli’s departure and the announcement of The Best Show Ever?, Johnson filled in as the interim afternoon host. Once the programming changes were made official by Beasley Media Group Philadelphia in mid-July, Johnson was officially joined by sports media influencer Hunter Brody and former Major League Baseball reliever Ricky Bottalico to form the new broadcast team.

“It was sad, scary and happy at the same time,” Johnson said regarding his new drive-time show. “….It’s elation because I get to live my dream. I’m at home; this is where I’m from [and] this is what I always wanted to do.”

The combination of Johnson, Brody, and Bottalico as the co-hosts of the show presented a challenge to quickly build chemistry to ensure the show can begin its quest to live up to its name. Sometimes, it can take time to familiarize oneself with new colleagues and build a working rapport that generates compelling conversation and informative talk. Johnson though, a radio veteran in his own right and the most experienced among his co-hosts, feels it is his responsibility to ensure a smooth transition by making the program as facile as possible and adapting his style to complement the others.

“I’m trying to make it to where they can just be themselves and just push on as naturally as possible, and then I adjust to them rather than [them adjusting] to me,” Johnson explained. “….Those guys early on don’t have to focus on some of the things that they don’t need to focus on this early. A year from now – [as] radio veterans – who knows how great this could get?”

As a former producer himself, Johnson knows the importance of the job and has confidence in Jennifer Scordo taking on the role. Aside from her vast experience in the industry in multiple formats and across multiple forms of content dissemination, Scordo does not bring an ego into her role, keeping those around her grounded. Instead, she serves as an intermediary between those in different roles so they can effectively discern what is being communicated and keeps her focus on the task at hand: producing the best show ever.

“A lot of times, she can be the translator for both sides,” Johnson said. “If I’m saying something that’s not understood, it’s Jenn who can explain it. If they’re explaining something to me and I don’t understand, Jenn usually can explain it. She’s a great translator to really make sure everything works.”

Johnson took on another role as a co-host of Sixers Outsiders on NBC Sports Philadelphia in October 2018, a show in which he and Krystle Rich-Bell discuss the latest on the team led by center Joel Embiid and guard James Harden. For the first time, Johnson was working in a visual broadcast medium, an opportunity he worked hard to attain and is grateful to have.

“I never knew I would ever do TV,” Johnson said. “I was asked to audition for TV [and] auditioned five times. To get Sixers Outsiders, I was so blessed for that to happen.”

Earlier that year, The Mike Missanelli Show started to be simulcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia, making Johnson and his colleagues visible while working in their radio roles for the first time. Now despite the programming change, Johnson’s The Best Show Ever? will continue to air across the network’s multiple platforms, giving the new program a chance to differentiate itself and become a staple among Philadelphia sports fans, whether they be listening or viewing the show.

Yet translating an aural radio program to a multiplatform experience can present its challenges and suggest to some that the influence of traditional radio is dwindling as digital content becomes more prioritized industry-wide. While the growth of digital is impossible to ignore, it is merely an option to expand the reach of radio and is not indicative of the death of the enduring medium, according to Johnson.

“TV can provide a platform and a pallet for us to look different and grab people because the show’s on – in addition to people who watch at home – [at] many bars, doctors’ offices, hospitals, gyms, [etc.],” Johnson said. “…We have to be doing entertaining content to provide something for those people not to change channels, pay attention to it and stay on the platform. They want to see what we’re going to do next.”

To keep the audience captivated and engaged during each program, it is fundamental the show remains aware of the topics fans want to hear discussed. During these first few weeks of the show, much of the discussion has centered around the Philadelphia Phillies, who currently hold a wild card spot and are on the verge of breaking a 10-year playoff drought: the second-longest in the major leagues.

Being among the Philadelphia sports fans has helped Johnson and his team, which includes Bottalico, a former Phillies reliever in the late-’90s, shape the program to fit the “pulse of the people.” Since everyone is connected more than ever before with the advent of social media, most topics come up organically throughout the show.

“Ricky’s kids are adults, so all of us currently are childless in terms of dealing with the day-to-day engagements, school and all those things,” Johnson said. “For now, that allows us to be out with the people and hear what the people are talking about and getting direct feedback from people. That’s been very valuable… so far to find out what the people want to talk about, and we’re going to try to make that as entertaining as possible because really, the people are the bosses.”

There is undoubtedly a direct relationship of sorts evident between ratings and revenue, two factors of radio essential for the growth of the platform which serve as performance gauges. While ratings have their limitations, their metrics provide a depiction of the show’s standing in the marketplace and can serve as factors of differentiation when it comes to the allocation of advertising revenue.

“Obviously revenue also matters a great deal; you don’t really spend ratings,” Johnson explained. “Ratings make it easier for you to generate that revenue, but generating revenue is extremely important because you do spend that.”

Competition exists in Philadelphia both on- and off the field and the quarterly battle between SportsRadio 94WIP and 97.5 The Fanatic creates a looming pressure on shows to perform well in each book. Johnson recognizes the importance of these numbers and the impact they could have; however, he is currently focused on building the program to a point where it will experience sustained success. That usually takes time though, so Johnson is enjoying the journey towards that coveted destination.

“Right now, I can’t just focus on the ratings; I just have to focus on making the quality of the program as good as humanly possible,” Johnson stated. “From there, we have to hope that the people agree that we’re putting out the best product humanly possible.”

While Johnson wants the show to be a perennial winner akin to how sports fans aspire for perennial contenders and champions, he wishes the ratings battle was not as intense. As a former employee of SportsRadio 94WIP and longtime listener of Philadelphia sports radio, he is supportive of his competitors and wishes for them to succeed in the marketplace as well.

“There’s room for everybody, and I think at times there’s people that look at two radio stations that both talk sports [and] almost treat it like it’s a [literal] war,” Johnson said. “I wish those guys at the other place a ton of success. There’s room for everybody to succeed, but first things first the goal is to try to win and win consistently. You don’t do this to try to lose; to come in second. You want to come in first place.”

As The Best Show Ever? embarks on its mission to truly become the best show ever, Johnson knows it will take hard work, determination, and alacrity to make changes when necessary. There are more outlets producing sports content because of evolutions in both technology and an augmented fan interest; therefore, it is incumbent radio shows like Johnson’s find new ways to stand out. The first step in being able to do that is having an understanding of what everyone brings to the table and utilizing their strengths as optimally as possible.

“I hope that they have that same love [for radio],” Johnson said of his new colleagues, “and the only way that’ll happen is [if] they’re empowered to be the best that they can be. I hope that they have far more success than I’ve ever had – I truly mean that.”

Aspiring professionals looking to work in sports media should take notice of Johnson’s story and how he prioritized being versatile to find a role in the industry. After over two decades working in multiple roles, Johnson is now a critical part of an afternoon show in the fourth-largest media market in the United States. With workforce reductions occurring across the industry – most recently within Audacy – those who can perform multiple roles well are assets for their companies. It is what has kept Johnson working since his days as a college student, and what figures to lead to new opportunities and chances to evolve in the future.

“Do whatever you can to get into the business, and then learn as much as humanly can about it,” Johnson said. “There are limited opportunities, but not limited opportunities for people who know how to do everything. The more you know how to do, the more valuable you’ll be.”

Whether it is Bryce Harper hitting majestic walk-off home runs; Joel Embiid making another run at a most valuable player award; the Flyers looking to remodel their team around new head coach John Tortorella; or the Eagles looking to make a deep playoff run again, Johnson and his team will surely be talking about it on the air with hopes of becoming a staple of drive-time programming in Philadelphia.

“We’re not doing this just to try to get by,” Johnson affirmed. “We’re not doing this just to try to win because you can’t really control that part. The only thing that we can control is trying to be our best selves each and every day, and that’s what we’re going to try to do. We’re going to try to be the best show ever.”

BSM Writers

Amanda Brown Has Embraced The Bright Lights of Hollywood

“My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”

Derek Futterman




The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and eight others aboard a helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, sent shockwaves around the world of sports, entertainment, and culture. People traveled to Los Angeles following the devastating news and left flowers outside the then-named STAPLES Center, the arena which Bryant called home for much of his career, demonstrating the magnitude of the loss. Just across the street from the arena, Amanda Brown and the staff at ESPN Los Angeles 710 had embarked in ongoing breaking news coverage, lamentation, and reflection.

It included coverage of a sellout celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter and teams around the NBA opting to take 8-second and 24-second violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers throughout his 20-year NBA career. They currently hang in the rafters at Arena, making Bryant the only player in franchise history to have two numbers retired.

During this tumultuous time, Bryant’s philosophy served as a viable guiding force, something that Brown quickly ascertained in her first month as the station’s new program director.

“I had people that were in Northern California hopping on planes to get here,” Brown said. “You didn’t even have to ask people [to] go to the station; people were like, ‘I’m on my way.’ It was the way that everybody really came together to do really great radio, and we did it that day and we did it the next day and we did it for several days.”

The 2023 BSM Summit is quickly approaching, and Brown will be attending the event for the first time since 2020. During her first experience at the BSM Summit in New York, Brown had just become a program director and was trying to assimilate into her role. Because of this, she prioritized networking, building contacts, and expressing her ideas to others in the space. This year, she looks forward to connecting with other program directors and media professionals around the country while also seeking to learn more about the nuances of the industry.

“The Summit is kind of like a meeting of the minds,” Brown said. “It’s people throughout the country and the business…. More than anything, [the first time] wasn’t so much about the panels as it was about the people.”

Growing up in Orange County, Brown had an interest in the Los Angeles Lakers from a young age, being drawn to play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn. Brown refers to Hearn as inspiration to explore a career in broadcasting. After studying communications at California State University in Fullerton, she was afforded an opportunity to work as a producer at ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM by program director Scott Masteller, who she still speaks to on a regular basis. It was through Masteller’s confidence in her, in addition to support from operations manager Dave Schorr, that helped make Brown feel more comfortable working in sports media.

“I never felt like I was a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Brown said. “I always just felt like I was a part of the industry. For me, I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I deserve to be here; I deserve a seat at the table.’”

Brown quickly rose up the ranks when she began working on ESPN Radio in Bristol, Conn., working as a producer for a national radio show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt, along with The Sports Bash with Erik Kuselias. Following five-and-a-half years in Bristol, Brown requested a move back to California and has worked at ESPN Los Angeles 710 ever since. She began her tenure at the station serving as a producer for shows such as Max and Marcellus and Mason and Ireland.

Through her persistence, work ethic and congeniality, Brown was promoted to assistant program director in July 2016. In this role, she helped oversee the station’s content while helping the entity maintain live game broadcast rights and explore new opportunities to augment its foothold, including becoming the flagship radio home of the Los Angeles Rams.

“Don’t sit back and wait for your managers or your bosses to come to you and ask what you want to do,” Brown advised. “Go after what you want, and that’s what I’ve always done. I always went to my managers and was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this. Give me a chance; let me do that.’ For the most part, my managers have been receptive and given me those opportunities.”

When executive producer Dan Zampillo left the station to join Spotify to work as a sports producer, Brown was subsequently promoted to program director where she has helped shape the future direction of the entity. From helping lead the brand amid its sale to Good Karma Brands in the first quarter of 2022; to revamping the daily lineup with compelling local programs, Brown has gained invaluable experience and remains keenly aware of the challenges the industry faces down the road. For sports media outlets in Los Angeles, some of the challenge is merely by virtue of its geography.

“We’re in sunny Southern California where there’s a lot of things happening,” Brown said. “We’re in the middle of Hollywood. People have a lot of opportunities – you can go to the mountains; you can go to the beach. I think [our market] is more about entertainment than it is about actual hard-core sports. Yes, obviously you have hard-core Lakers fans; you have hard-core Dodgers fans, but a majority of the fans are pretty average sports fans.”

Because of favorable weather conditions and an endless supply of distractions, Brown knows that the way to attract people to sports talk radio is through its entertainment value. With this principle in mind, she has advised her hosts not to worry so much about the specific topics they are discussing, but rather to ensure they are entertaining listeners throughout the process.

“People know the four letters E-S-P-N mean sports, but really our focus is more on entertainment more than anything,” Brown said. “I think the [talent] that stick out the most are the ones that are the most entertaining.”

Entertaining listeners, however, comes through determining what they are discussing and thinking about and providing relevant coverage about those topics. Even though it has not yet been legalized in the state of California, sports gambling content has been steadily on the rise since the Supreme Court made a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act established in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018). Nonetheless, Brown and ESPN Los Angeles 710 have remained proactive, launching a sports gambling show on Thursday nights to try to adjust to the growing niche of the industry.

Even though she has worked in producing and programming for most of her career, Brown is eager to learn about the effect sports gambling has on audio sales departments. At the same time, she hopes to be able to more clearly determine how the station can effectuate its coverage if and when it becomes legal in their locale.

“I know that a lot of other markets have that,” Brown said regarding the legalization of sports gambling. “For me, I’m interested to hear from people who have that in their markets and how they’ve monetized that and the opportunity.”

No matter the content, though, dedicated sports radio listeners are genuinely consuming shows largely to hear certain talent. Brown recalls receiving a compliment on Twitter earlier this quarter where a listener commented that he listens to ESPN Los Angeles 710 specifically for Sedano and Kap. Evidently, it acted as a tangible sign that her philosophy centered around keeping people engrossed in the content is working, and that providing the audience what it wants to hear is conducive to success.

At this year’s BSM Summit, Brown will be participating on The Wheel of Content panel, presented by Core Image Studio, featuring ESPN analyst Mina Kimes and FOX Sports host Joy Taylor. Through their discussion, she intends to showcase a different perspective of what goes into content creation and the interaction that takes place between involved parties.

“A lot of times in the past, all the talent were on one panel; all the programmers were on one panel,” Brown said. “To put talent and a programmer together, I think it’s an opportunity for people to hear both sides on certain issues.”

According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM (terrestrial) radio among persons 18-34 has a greater average audience than television. The statistical anomaly, which was forecast several years earlier, came to fruition most likely due to emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.

Simultaneously, good content is required to captivate consumers, and radio, through quantifiable and qualifiable metrics, has been able to tailor its content to the listening audience and integrate it across multiple platforms of dissemination. The panel will give Brown a chance to speak in front of her peers and other industry professionals about changes in audio consumption, effectuated by emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.

Yet when it comes to radio as a whole, the patterns clearly point towards the proliferation of digital content – whether those be traditional radio programs or modernized podcasts. Moreover, utilizing various elements of presentation provides consumers a greater opportunity of finding and potentially engaging with the content.

“We do YouTube streaming; obviously, we stream on our app,” Brown said. “We’ve even created, at times, stream-only shows whether it’s stream-only video or stream-only on our app. We all know that people want content on-demand when they want it. I think it’s about giving them what they want.”

As a woman in sports media, Brown is cognizant about having to combat misogyny from those inside and outside of the industry, and is grateful to have had the support of many colleagues. In holding a management position in the second-largest media market in the United States, she strives to set a positive example to aspiring broadcasters. Additionally, she aims to be a trusted and accessible voice to help empower and give other women chances to work in the industry – even if she is not universally lauded.

“I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I’m no different than anyone else – yes, I’m a female – but I’m no different than anyone else,’” Brown expressed. “My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”

Through attending events such as the BSM Summit and remaining immersed in sports media and the conversation at large about the future of sports media, Brown can roughly delineate how she can perform her job at a high level.

Although the genuine future of this business is always subject to change, she and her team at ESPN Los Angeles 710 are trying to come up with new ideas to keep the content timely, accurate, informative, and entertaining. She is content in her role as program director with no aspirations to become a general manager; however, remaining in her current role requires consistent effort and a penchant for learning.

“Relationships are very important overall in this business whether you’re a programmer or not,” Brown said. “Relationships with your talent; relationships with your staff. If you invest in your people, then they’re going to be willing to work hard for you and do what you ask them to do.”

The 2023 BSM Summit is mere days away, and those from Los Angeles and numerous other marketplaces will make the trip to The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC).

Aside from Brown, Kimes and Taylor, there will be other voices from across the industry sharing their thoughts on aspects of the industry and how to best shape it going forward, including Colin Cowherd, Rachel Nichols, Al Michaels and Eric Shanks. More details about the industry’s premiere media conference can be found at

“I’m excited to be a female program director amongst male program directors for the first time and get a seat at the table and represent that there can be diversity in this position,” Brown said. “We don’t see a lot of it, but… there is an opportunity, and I hope I can be an example for other people out there [to show] that it’s possible.”

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BSM Writers

Pat McAfee Has Thrown Our Business Into a Tailspin

Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve, McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.

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When you have one of the hottest talk shows in America, you’re always up to something. That’s the case for the most popular sports talk show host in America – Pat McAfee. 

The former Pro Bowl punter was on top of the world on Wednesday. With over 496,000 concurrent viewers watching at one point, McAfee was able to garner an exclusive interview with frequent guest Aaron Rodgers who announced his intention to play for the Jets.

Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve — a new studio, consistent high viewership, a syndication deal with SportsGrid TV, a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel — McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.

At the end of the day, he is human and he’s admitted that balancing his show, his ESPN gig with “College Gameday,” and his WWE obligations has taken a toll on him.

McAfee and his wife are expecting their first child soon and he recently told The New York Post he might step away from his deal with FanDuel. Operating his own company has come with the responsibility of making sure his studio is up and running, finding people to operate the technology that puts his show on the air, negotiating with huge behemoths like the NFL for game footage rights, booking guests, booking hotels, implementing marketing plans and other tasks that most on-air personalities rarely have to worry about.

McAfee says he’s looking for a network that would be able to take control of those duties while getting more rest and space to spend time with family while focusing strictly on hosting duties. FanDuel has its own network and has the money to fund such endeavors but is just getting started in the content game. McAfee needs a well-known entity to work with who can take his show to the next level while also honoring his wishes of keeping the show free on YouTube.

The question of how he’s going to be able to do it is something everyone in sports media will be watching. As The Post pointed out in their story, McAfee hasn’t frequently stayed with networks he’s been associated with in the past for too long. He’s worked with Westwood One, DAZN, and Barstool but hasn’t stayed for more than a year or two.

There’s an argument to be made that the latter two companies weren’t as experienced as a network when McAfee signed on with them compared to where they are today which could’ve pushed the host to leave. But at the end of the day, networks want to put money into long-term investments and it’s easy to see a network passing on working with McAfee for fear that he’ll leave them astray when he’s bored. 

It’ll also be difficult for McAfee to find a network that doesn’t put him behind a paywall. Amazon and Google are rumored to be potential new homes. But both are trying to increase subscribers for their respective streaming services.

It will be difficult to sell Amazon on investing money to build a channel on YouTube – a rival platform. For Google, they may have the tech infrastructure to create television-like programming but they aren’t an experienced producer, they’ve never produced its own live, daily talk show, and investing in McAfee’s show doesn’t necessarily help increase the number of subscribers watching YouTube TV.

Networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox might make sense to partner with. But McAfee faces the possibility of being censored due to corporate interests. Each of these networks also operates its networks or streaming channels that air talk programming of their own. Investing in McAfee could cannibalize the programming they already own.

And if McAfee works with a traditional network that isn’t ESPN, it could jeopardize his ability to host game casts for Omaha or analyze games on Gameday. It’s not impossible but would definitely be awkward on days that McAfee does his show remotely from locations of ESPN games with ESPN banners and signage that is visible in the background.

If SportsGrid has the money to invest in McAfee, they might be his best bet. They have all the attributes McAfee needs and they already have a relationship with him. It is probably unlikely that he’ll be censored and he would even be able to maintain a relationship with FanDuel – a company SportsGrid also works alongside.  

Roku is another option — they already work with Rich Eisen — but they would move his show away from YouTube, something McAfee should resist since the majority of smart TV users use YT more than any other app.

If the NFL gave McAfee editorial independence, they would make the perfect partner but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. NFL Media has independence but it was clear during the night of the Damar Hamlin incident that they will do whatever is necessary to stay away from serious topics that make the league look bad until it’s totally unavoidable. 

It’s hard to think of a partner that matches up perfectly with McAfee’s aspirations. But once again, at the moment, he’s on top of the world so anything is possible. The talk show host’s next move will be even more interesting to watch than the other fascinating moves he’s already made that have put the sports media industry in a swivel.

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BSM Writers

5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit

“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”

Jeff Caves




Bring your game plan if you attend the BSM Summit in LA next Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter your purpose for attending: to learn, get a job, speak, or sell an idea, you must be able to read the room. To do that, it helps to know who will be there and how you can cure their pain. 

Have a plan and don’t leave home without it. If you have time, buy How to Work a Room by Susan Roane. If you don’t, just follow these five tips:

  1. INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Before you arrive at The Summit, figure out what you want, who you want to meet, and what you will say. Once you get there, scout out the room and see if anyone of those people are available. Talk to speakers after they have spoken- don’t worry if you miss what the next speaker says. You are there to meet new people! Most speakers do not stick around for the entire schedule, and you don’t know if they will attend any after-parties, so don’t risk it. Refine your elevator pitch and break the ice with something you have in common. Make sure you introduce yourself to Stephanie, Demetri and Jason from BSM. They know everybody and will help you if they can.  
  2. GET A NAME TAG: Don’t assume that name tags will be provided. Bring your own if you and make your name clear to read. If you are looking to move to LA or want to sell a system to book better guests, put it briefly under your name. Study this to get better at remembering names.
  3. LOSE THE NOTEBOOK: When you meet folks, ensure your hands are free. Have a business card handy and ask for one of theirs. Remember to look people in the eye and notice what they are doing. If they are scanning the room, pause until they realize they are blowing you off. Do whatever it takes to sound upbeat and open. Don’t let their clothes, hair, or piercings distract from your message. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie but do bring your best business casual wear. A blazer isn’t a bad idea either. 
  4. SHUT UP FIRST! The art of knowing when to end the convo is something you will have to practice. You can tell when the other person’s eye starts darting or they are not using body language that tells you the convo will continue. You end it by telling them you appreciate meeting them and want to connect via email. Ask for a business card. Email is more challenging to ignore than a LinkedIn request, and you can be more detailed in what you want via email. 
  5. WORK THE SCHEDULE: Know who speaks when. That is when you will find the speakers hanging around. Plan your lunch outing to include a few fellow attendees. Be open and conversational with those around you. I am a huge USC fan, so I would walk to McKays– a good spot with plenty of USC football memorabilia on the walls. Sometimes you can find the next day’s speakers at the Day 1 after party. Need a bar? Hit the 901 Club for cheap beer, drinks, and food. 

You’re welcome. 

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