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Michael Grady Has Proved The Doubters Wrong

“I’m excited about it because this whole situation and this team and their makeup reminds me of the teams that I grew up rooting for in Indiana where it felt like it’s us against the world,” Grady said.

Derek Futterman




The Chicago Bulls defeat of the Utah Jazz in 1998 has gone down as one of the best NBA Finals of all time. The image of Michael Jordan dropping in the winning basket during Game 6 is engrained in the minds of millions of sports fans, including new Minnesota Timberwolves television play-by-play announcer Michael Grady.

“I remember being in awe of what Michael Jordan was doing to win the game for the Bulls,” Grady recalled, “but also the way that [Bob] Costas called it and… just how beautifully he put everything into context.”

To this day, Grady affirms that it was in ’98 at the age of 15 when he began thinking about pursuing a career in sports media. It has taken him on twists and turns that have helped him evolve through augmenting his versatility and connecting with athletes and other media members.

During his days at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Ind., Grady joined student-run 91.1 WEDM and worked as a play-by-play announcer for the school’s football and basketball teams. From there, he attended Vincennes University, a place he utilized to refine his skills to be ready to work in the professional world; however, he was able to attain some of that experience early through a news partnership with a local PBS affiliate.

Upon his graduation, Grady started his career as a part-time board operator at WIBC, and while the job may not have seemed the most glamorous to some, it was imperative for him to get his foot in the door. Having a singular mindset about a potential career, according to Grady, is quite perilous when working in media, as it is essential to be able to step into opportunities and excel in them as they become available.

“If you’re stepping into broadcast media and your mindset is ‘I’m only going to be interested and enthusiastic about this one aspect of this career field,’ I don’t believe that you’re destined to make it,” Grady stated. “One thing that I encourage a lot of people when they’re coming up is to embrace everything. It wasn’t my goal to be a board op., but I knew that [it] was a stepping stone towards what was next for me.”

Being enthusiastic about taking on a job is something that is noticeable to colleagues and managers, especially when starting in the field. Throughout his time growing up, WIBC was a part of the soundtrack in that it would always be playing in his mother’s car when he was waiting with her for the school bus. Over the years working there, his role evolved into becoming a producer – first for a pet show before producing Indiana Sports Talk, a weekend sports talk show that starred Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Lovell.

“For me fresh out of school to get a board-opping job at WIBC; it was a huge deal for me,” Grady said. “What I took away from it was [that] it was a learning experience for me and I had such enthusiasm and pride in doing that job and trying to do a good job and then utilizing that as a springboard towards other opportunities.”

Grady did not need to move far for his next opportunity, staying on the 1070 AM frequency when it changed to an all-sports format in late 2007 after WIBC moved to 93.1 FM. In its place came ESPN 1070 The Fan, and Grady was quickly named an executive producer by program director Kent Sterling. The management team essentially had to build the station from the ground-up, hiring on-air hosts, some of whom had never hosted a radio show before, and training them to effectively perform the job. As he coached new talent and learned additional aspects of hosting from others though, Grady began to think that he could do it as well and began thinking how he could move from producing to hosting.

“I started putting the bug in the ear of my superiors, and it was in 2011 [after] a managerial change [when] they finally took it seriously,” Grady said. “In 2011, they brought me in as the co-host of the Grady and Big Joe Show, and those were some great years for me.”

Growing up and working in Indianapolis, Grady was a fan of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and closely followed and spoke about the teams. Having the ability to connect with a local audience differentiated the program from others, eventually making the show “appointment radio” for some listeners. Together, he and former Colts offensive lineman Joe Staysniak established a chemistry on-air and brought Indianapolis sports fans entertaining coverage and discussion on their favorite teams.

“When people hear me talk about the teams, they can sense the passion in my voice; I had great dialogue with the listeners,” Grady said. “You kind of create a culture right there on the airwaves. The show [was] only two hours, but still in that time, you were able to develop a strong bond with the listening audience.”

But that wasn’t all he was doing. Fueled by his innate competitive drive and work ethic he attributes to his mother Mavis, Michael Grady began working directly with the Indiana Pacers – briefly as an in-arena host and then as the team’s public address announcer prior to the 2010-11 season. Just over three years later, he landed a job working in television as a sports reporter for the ABC-affiliated WRTV-6 reporting on stories related to all sports in the area. Having the ability to create relationships with personnel in the NBA, along with continuing to grow more adept in different areas of television, were invaluable experiences that helped Grady progress into the next stage of his career. Yet it was also a lot to balance at once, especially on days where the Pacers were playing a home game.

As Grady recalls, on Pacers home game days he would host his sports talk radio show from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and then have a small break before heading to the television station. While there, he would prepare his sportscast, which he would then deliver from the floor of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers’ home arena. Then, he would head behind the scorer’s table to P.A. announce the game, and no sooner than he announced the final score, would drive back to the television studio to deliver another sportscast.

“It wasn’t easy, but hearing people say ‘Man, I don’t think he can do that; that’s too much’ kind of fueled me from a competitive standpoint,” Grady said. “….I just wanted to prove to everybody that I can do it and I can do it well.”

Working in television, as compared to working in radio, was different in the sense that he was entering people’s homes through a different medium; however, it taught him the importance of adaptability. For a while, Grady thought he would work in radio for the rest of his career, but saw the value in trying new things and being open to change.

“You learn editing for sure in terms of content and scriptwriting, and I got a real education into television,” Grady said of his time at WRTV-6. “We didn’t have a ton of resources. There were times where I was my own cameraman; I was editing videos once done; I’m writing my one script; I’m loading things in a system.”

After several years covering sports on a news television station and being the voice of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Grady hired an agent who originally approached him about working together. While he felt a tie to Indianapolis, he knew that in order to expand his own potential, he would likely have to relocate to a new market. Grady was undoubtedly enjoying what he was doing, but he felt that there was the capability for more and a chance to continue to elevate.

“I feel like I was blessed with a gift and I felt like I owed it to myself and those who love me to see how far I [could] push this thing and see if I could inspire people in my family [and] people in my community,” Grady said.

After flying around the country to attend meetings, mock broadcasts and interviews, Grady did not feel attracted to any particular gig – until he made a visit to Brooklyn, N.Y. As a music fan, Brooklyn was representative of the epicenter of hip-hop as the birthplace of The Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z. Furthermore, having interests in both art and fashion had previously exposed Grady to the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, an artist known for his enigmatic and distinctive style.

Despite being from Indianapolis, Grady had always felt a connection to Brooklyn and the community there, and saw the potential in the Brooklyn Nets to grow into a prominent basketball franchise and brand after initially struggling following the move from Newark, N.J.

“Even though they were a 21-win team at the time, I felt like it wouldn’t take much time before that franchise really popped,” Grady said. “To me, it felt like a leap of faith.”

Working as the sideline reporter for the Brooklyn Nets on YES Network, Michael Grady entered the position planning just to be himself and tell stories that would help humanize and give context to the game on the court. Obviously, that requires building relationships with interviewees and by building a reputation based on trust and professionalism, Grady quickly became a well-respected figure among media members at Barclays Center.

“I think the biggest thing for someone in [that] position – and really in any position – is stepping in with no ego,” Grady said. “There’s a balance because you have to take pride in your ability… and all those things, but you can’t let ego get in the way of what you’re trying to accomplish, especially when it’s about establishing relationships.”

Throughout his five seasons on YES Network, Grady would prepare for each interview by researching and contextualizing scenarios beforehand so he could formulate relevant questions that would elicit thoughtful and comprehensive responses. Inspired by Costas’ knowledge and the vivacious personality of sports reporter Ahmad Rashad, Grady contributed to game coverage and saw his job become easier once the team began to win. The mood around the team was more positive and, in turn, people were more willing to share their stories, further enhancing the potential of his work and reputation as a reporter.

“Before new guys even walk into the locker room, people are telling them: ‘Michael’s a good guy. You can trust him, etc., etc.,’” Grady said. “Now, I’m already set up well when I sit down with a player for the first time who was just acquired. I still have to prove myself and make it evident that the things that they heard are true, but at least I’m stepping in [already] in a good spot with the guys feeling like: ‘Okay, I can trust this guy right out of the gate.’”

Throughout his time in Brooklyn, Grady established relationships with all-stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and previously with D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen earlier in their careers before they departed Brooklyn. Additionally, he worked alongside Ian Eagle and Sarah Kustok, the primary broadcast duo that has continuously helped elevate the network’s television ratings in the New York-Metropolitan area. Nets on YES telecasts are still second to New York Knicks basketball on MSG Networks in terms of regional performance, but the separation between the numbers has lessened and the Nets have seen high performance when it comes to national ratings.

Eagle commentates a majority of the Nets games, but his commitments with the NFL on CBS and Turner Sports’ national NBA coverage do not allow him to make all of the games. Still, working alongside Eagle has taught Grady aspects of play-by-play and demonstrated just what makes a versatile broadcaster able to balance local and national games across different leagues.

“He’s a masterful tactician when it comes to preparation and presentation,” Grady said of Eagle. “He always meets the moment and weaves in a sense of humor, which I feel is a breath of fresh air…. It takes a true master to be able to balance everything that he’s able to balance and to execute the way that he executes and do it in a way that fans watching at home find delightful, engaging, informative and entertaining.”

Eagle’s backup is sports media veteran Ryan Ruocco who, besides working on New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets coverage on YES Network, announces games on ESPN and DAZN and hosts the R2C2 podcast with former Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia. If Ruocco was unable to make a game, Grady would step in as the play-by-play announcer, something he had the chance to do periodically, including Kyrie Irving’s 60-point performance against the Orlando Magic this past season.

“I loved every minute of what I was doing,” Grady expressed. “I loved the sideline reporting aspect and getting to know these guys…. I loved every bit of it and life in New York.”

But that wasn’t all he was doing. Taking advantage of other opportunities that became available to him, Grady polished his play-by-play skills calling WNBA games for the New York Liberty on YES Network and college football and basketball games on CBS Sports. Additionally, he has worked with NBA TV and Turner Sports as a play-by-play announcer. Outside of play-by-play, he hosted studio coverage for Yankees and Nets games, sideline reported select NFL games on CBS and appeared across NBA programming on SiriusXM NBA Radio. With this vast array of experience, Grady began trying to land a full-time play-by-play job once his contract allowed him to explore the job market.

“Minnesota reached out and was very aggressive in showing their interest [and] I wanted to hear them out,” Grady said. “I didn’t step into this going: ‘I’m absolutely taking this no matter what if they want me.’ I stepped in because I’m serious about full-time play-by-play, and I wanted to hear their direction, hear what they envision this role being and just the overall vision for the franchise as a whole.”

Following conversations with the upper management and ownership group of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Grady was officially offered the job calling games on Bally Sports North and made the move to Minneapolis. It is an opportunity he never thought he would have when he was younger even though he claims he was a “pretty confident kid,” and is honored to have been chosen for the job.

“I’m excited about it because this whole situation and this team and their makeup reminds me of the teams that I grew up rooting for in Indiana where it felt like it’s us against the world,” Grady said. “….I’m excited about the opportunity [and] everything about the community and the franchise. I’ve just got to bundle up – but everything else is really just a slam dunk.”

Grady steps into the role after the organization chose to move on from its previous play-by-play announcer Dave Benz after 10 years, a move that was so unpopular with the fan base that a petition was started which has racked up nearly 7,500 signatures. Looking at the connection Benz was able to cultivate with the fanbase excites Grady for the opportunity to become familiar with the community and the team.

“I have a great deal of respect for Dave Benz,” Grady said. “I don’t know him personally, but I love the love affair he was able to have with this fanbase, and that really excites me as this opportunity opens up for me. My focus is really [on] getting to know the fanbase, fanning that flame of excitement and enthusiasm for this team and just having fun watching this game that we all love.”

With a young, contending roster in place that features Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert and former Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell, Grady is reminded of his days in Brooklyn in terms of having talent but being written off. Now as the voice of its television broadcasts, Grady will seek to emulate the passion of the Timberwolves fanbase as the team continues to build and take on stellar competition around the league.

“My mindset, as it’s been over the course of my entire career, is to be me,” Grady said. “Be myself; have fun. There’s only 30 of these jobs and I have incredible gratitude being one of the 30 to be blessed with the opportunity to have a microphone and be a storyteller watching some of the best athletes in the world.”

Grady recently lost his mother after she battled cancer for the last five years and refers to her as his biggest supporter throughout his many career endeavors. Now as he enters a new chapter in his broadcasting career, Michael Grady hopes to continue to make her proud. Moreover, he hopes to serve as a source of inspiration for the next generation of sports media professionals – especially those without anyone or anywhere to turn to get started akin to him after devoting himself to the industry after the 1998 NBA Finals.

“In some ways I look at the things I’ve been able to accomplish and I just shake my head,” Grady remarked. “I’m just incredibly thankful for how blessed I’ve been and the people who have been in my life who have given me opportunities to continue to grow as a broadcaster and a man. I’m going to devote myself to helping others and inspiring them to accomplish their dreams as well.”

BSM Writers

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

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

Demetri Ravanos




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

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

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

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

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

Now, I will add this. I used to LOVE baseball. It is the sport I played in high school. The Yankees’ logo was on the groom’s cake at my wedding. Then I had kids.

Forget 162 games. Even five games didn’t fit into my lifestyle. Maybe somewhere deep down, I still have feelings for the sport, but they are buried by years of neglect and active shunning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BSM Writers

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

The potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BSM Writers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrett Media Writers

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