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Ian Eagle Is Still a Student At Heart

“I try to be a student of this so whatever my assignment is I immersed myself in it.”

Derek Futterman




The Catskills is a serene, halcyon mountain range and popular vacation destination because of the preservation and picturesque nature of the landscape. Oftentimes, the luxurious resorts and hotels located along the Borscht Belt attract a preponderance of the area’s approximately 2.7 million visitors per year coming from all corners of the United States and the world to relax and unwind. Not for Ian Eagle though.

His mother, Monica, was a singer and an actress while his father Jack was a standup comedian, musician, and actor who portrayed Brother Dominic in Xerox commercials in the late-70s. For the first several years of his life, Eagle would be their travel companion watching his parents work hard along the Borscht Belt to make a living by performing their act in front of large audiences on weekends. Additionally, at the end of each act, Eagle himself would make an appearance in a suit complete with a bowtie to perform impressions of famous public figures to the crowd – including comedian W.C. Fields, boxer Muhammad Ali and sportscaster Howard Cosell.

After several years of traveling to the Catskills to perform, Eagle remembers his father asking him what he wanted to do when he grew up. With his roots ingrained in live performance, Eagle enjoyed watching athletes perform their craft at sporting events, most notably the New York Mets who were just a drive away from his hometown of Forest Hills, N.Y. at Shea Stadium. Yet while there, he would not only watch the game but also observe the announcers from afar while they were at work in the press box, noticing their mannerisms and countenances from which he was taken aback. At the age of 8, Eagle realized his dream to become a professional sportscaster and was given encouragement and motivation by his parents to fully pursue it.

“A career that was outside the box was very much encouraged and the reasons behind it were pretty simple,” Eagle said. “I love sports and I started to get fascinated by the announcers. Play-by-play, anchors, radio, television…. As a young kid, something about it resonated with me and the idea that I could do it for a living was beyond my wildest dreams.”

Albert graduated from Syracuse University and is one of the school’s many alumni to successfully work in sports media. It inspired Eagle to attend the school to study journalism. Bearing the hallway walls around the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications while Eagle was an undergraduate student were photos of some of them, including Bob Costas, Dick Stockton, and Marty Glickman.

While the reputation of the school and its powerful alumni network can seem polarizing to some students, it served as a source of inspiration for Eagle to elevate his craft and take advantage of opportunities to make a name for himself in the industry. It is in part thanks to successful broadcasters such as Eagle, along with Mike Tirico, Beth Mowins, and Sean McDonough that the school remains a coveted destination for those looking to foster a career in sports media, and was recently ranked as the top sports broadcasting school in the country by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America.

“At the time in the mid-80s when I was looking for a school that I could pursue broadcasting, one university kept popping up and it was Syracuse,” Eagle said. “….I think more than anything else the fact that there were going to be others like me that had an aptitude for this and a passion for it; I wanted to be pushed. I wanted to be amongst other people that were interested in doing this.”

Eagle was a member of WAER, the school’s student-run radio station, and served as the play-by-play announcer for Syracuse Orangemen lacrosse, football and basketball games. While there, he continued to gain a more complete understanding of what it took to succeed in the field, beginning to truly become invested in it by his sophomore year. By the end of his senior year, he won the Bob Costas Award for Outstanding Sportscasting – for which he received a $1,000 cash prize from Costas himself – and in 2013, was inducted as the fourth member of the WAER Hall of Fame.

Broadcasting live sporting events was the primary part of the field Eagle was looking to work in – until the year 1987 when he began to hear of WFAN, the first-ever radio station solely broadcasting the sports talk format 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By the summer of 1989, Eagle was an intern at the station at the same time when plans for Mike and the Mad Dog were being finalized by then-program director Mark Mason. Upon completing his internship, Eagle felt as if he gained esoteric knowledge of what it took to work in sports media, and was eager to return to his home market upon his graduation.

“Pre-internet – there was no substitution for actually getting the experience,” Eagle stated. “You couldn’t just look it up and google it and watch a video. You had to actually go in and do it. It’s not as if the responsibilities were necessarily putting me in a position to now do more. It had more to do with observing and being around it and being in the environment watching the sports anchor work.”

Despite being told he would likely not be able to get on the air out of college working at WFAN, he took the station’s job offer as a producer over two hosting jobs in West Virginia and nearby Buffalo, N.Y. after graduating from Syracuse University in 1990. Working alongside Howie Rose during his 7 p.m. to midnight radio show, Eagle continued to observe the professionals around him and what it took to do an entertaining radio show conducive to attaining favorable ratings and revenue.

“I took it… with the idea that it was going to be like graduate school that I was going to be at a place where I eventually wanted to one day work in an on-air capacity,” Eagle said of accepting a job at WFAN, “but I would take the experience that I had from the previous summer and expand it to really understand all aspects of the radio station and what it made it tick. It was a risk; there were no guarantees given to me.”

Just 15 months later, Eagle sat behind the microphone and delivered his first on-air sports update and from there began hosting his own talk show shortly thereafter called Bagels and Baseball. In 1993, he added to his responsibilities by hosting the pregame and postgame shows for the station’s broadcasts of New York Jets football. Part of being a well-informed broadcaster comes with reading sports coverage from both local and national journalism outlets, one of which is The New York Post.

Phil Mushnick, the publication’s television and radio columnist since 1982, broke the story that the New Jersey Nets’ radio announcer Howard David would not return for the 1994-95 season, instead relocating to Milwaukee to work in the same role for the Bucks. While sitting in an editing suite at WFAN’s Kaufman Astoria studios, Eagle, who was 25 years old at the time, vividly remembers reading the article and quickly recognizing the opportunity that had just opened up in front of him and the potential it had to change his career.

“I submitted a tape from a Syracuse-Seton Hall game I did in my senior year at the Meadowlands,” Eagle said of the initial reel he submitted with his job application. “They liked it enough to call me and ask me for more play-by-play – which I did not have. That was it; that was the extent of the play-by-play.”

Eagle had to be innovative and remembered he had a friend working for NBA Entertainment in Secaucus, N.J. who helped him create a tape complete with ambient sound and high-quality audio of Eagle calling one half of a playoff game between the Nets and the New York Knicks off of a monitor. He was then quickly scheduled for an interview with Jon Spoelstra, the president of the Nets, as part of the final phase of the search. Once he conversed with him, Eagle was off to the airport for a planned trip to San Francisco with his wife to celebrate their first wedding anniversary and eagerly awaiting the outcome of a monumental decision.

“I had to call into my home answering machine to see if there were any messages,” Eagle recalls. “There was a message from Amy Scheer – [the Nets’ director of broadcasting] – to give her a call. I did from a payphone and I was told that I was being hired as the radio voice of the Nets.”

Paired with Mike O’Koren, Eagle broadcast games on the radio for the 1994-95 season, an opportunity that gave him his first professional sports broadcasting experience. Little did he realize in the beginning though that it would only last for one year, as he was replaced by Steve Albert, Marv’s younger brother, the very next season. But it was not for poor performance; rather, Eagle joined SportsChannel to call Nets games on television, a change in platforms and thus announcing style. Despite the differences between the two platforms though, Eagle was easily able to adapt his style to fit the needs of the audience, however, it may be consuming the game.

“I think part of the reason why I transitioned so easily to television is that I hadn’t been doing radio play-by-play for that long,” Eagle said. “I was not stuck in my ways [and] I didn’t have any habits that I had to break. It really was just an adjustment of how you approach the game.”

Eagle, through his meticulous preparation, promptly showcased his talent on the new medium and ability to heighten the quality of the production at large. He holds a television play-by-play role with the team to this day, following the organization during its move to the YES Network in 2002 and Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. one decade later.

“I try to be a student of this so whatever my assignment is I immersed myself in it and I did everything in my power to prepare for what the season on television would feel like,” said Eagle, who partner Charles Davis recently called “so brilliant”. “….On television, it’s all about setting up your partner, being a very good traffic cop, and delivering in the moment. On radio, you’ve got a blank canvas [and] it’s up to you to fill it in the way that you see fit.”

Two years into his new role with the Nets, WFAN named him the play-by-play announcer for the New York Jets, meaning he would be balancing calling different sports on different broadcast mediums for the first time in his career. Once again one year into this job, Eagle moved from radio to television, this time shifting from regional to national broadcasts with CBS Sports (and was ironically replaced by the aforementioned Howard David). Additionally, he also added NCAA basketball to his responsibilities, meaning he was closely following and calling college basketball, the NBA, and the NFL all at once. As a result, getting and staying ahead in terms of preparation was crucial, and making sure he was ready to execute for every game – just as he saw his parents do in the days and weeks leading up to their weekend performances.

“This job is a marriage of preparation and performance,” Eagle affirmed. “If your preparation is not up to par, it will affect your performance. If your performance is not at the level that it’s supposed to be when the game starts, then all your preparation means very little. You have to get to a point when doing play-by-play that you consistently produce at a certain level and a certain standard. Every person sets that bar for themselves.”

The games themselves are different in the sense that the pace and flow of the broadcast are often dictated by the action in which there are usually more pauses in the action in football than in basketball. As a result, it is incumbent on Eagle and the rest of the broadcast team to be aware of what is going on in the game and to prioritize highlighting and covering it. What not to do is to render it a platform in which an individual seeks to gain notoriety by frequently talking about themselves.

“The pace of basketball doesn’t allow you to share as many stories [or] personal tidbits – you’ve got to be really economical in how you share information,” Eagle said. “Football is set up in a way [where], because of the rhythm of it, there are obvious spots where you can pepper the broadcast with nuggets and factoids and stories.”

Still, moving from being a regionally-focused broadcaster to one who is calling both regional and national games certainly requires a shift in parlance. After all, the national audience is often broader in terms of rooting interest than a regional one, at least when referring to linear distribution rather than viewing on OTT or streaming platforms.

Since joining CBS Sports, Eagle has called numerous NFL and NCAA basketball games, including playoff and tournament battles which can sometimes be decided on the final play. Additionally, he calls Thursday night NFL games and part of the NCAA regional finals tournament on the radio for Westwood One Sports and also calls national NBA and NCAA games for Turner Sports. Yet the divide between regional and national games is becoming more blurred thanks to the evolution in technology that permits the rapid sharing of multimedia-based content across multiple platforms regardless of their streaming capability or lack thereof, sometimes causing a moment to lose its context.

Nonetheless, any broadcaster needs to be able to build a rapport with their audience which usually either comes through previous knowledge of their work or simply by listening to them on-air. It cannot be forced and is not usually instantaneous either.

“The biggest difference in my experience is allowing your personality to come through,” Eagle said. “It took me a while to get to the point where I trusted myself on national games whereas previously on local telecasts, I would probably be a little freer with my commentary. I’m finally getting there on the national side.”

The art of play-by-play announcing, even amid a new generation of sports media, has not considerably shifted; rather, networks and other media providers are trying new approaches to bringing the game to consumers. Whether it be through alternate broadcasts, new camera angles, or user-enabled interactivity during the games, there is always room for innovation, and the same goes for methods of announcing. In the end, though, ratings and revenue will usually be determinants as to whether certain permutations can move out of the experiential stage towards becoming a normal practice; notwithstanding the fundamentals of the job will always somewhat be present.

“I think the principles of doing play-by-play are the same,” Eagle said. “Are you informative? Are you entertaining? Are you a conduit for the fan from the event to the television screen or the car radio? That hasn’t changed and I don’t think that will ever change. There’s something still very pure about that.”

Marv Albert was a sportscaster who Eagle sought to emulate as he worked his way up in the industry, and he fortunately had a chance to work with him when he joined the Nets as an announcer on television in 2005. As a result, Eagle was the secondary announcer beginning that year and lasting until 2010. Being able to be around him while they both worked for the YES Network gave Eagle a firsthand look at his preparation and on-air performance.

“By the time he was working at YES, I had certainly established myself and had a clear idea of what kind of play-by-play announcer I wanted to be,” Eagle said of Albert. “But you’re always learning and you’re a student of this your entire career. You never attain a perfect broadcast – it can’t happen – but you can try. Each game you try to improve.”

Across the country about 2,800 miles away, Ian Eagle’s son Noah is working as the radio play-by-play announcer for the NBA’s LA Clippers. Throughout his youth, Noah Eagle would observe his father at work, sometimes even attending games with him and sitting next to him throughout a broadcast. Like his father, he attended college at Syracuse University and was a member of WAER, and he became just the second Syracuse University graduate to transition from broadcasting in college to doing so right in the NBA – the first being Greg Papa, the radio play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco 49ers and host of Papa and Lund on KNBR. He debuted at just 22 years old at the start of the 2019-20 season and has been in the role ever since.

“The fact that he was even interested in doing this is the ultimate compliment as a father,” Ian Eagle said. “The fact that he has found success; I think he paid attention to detail growing up…. Osmosis definitely played a part in this. The fact that he is passionate about improving and working on his craft and working with others. It’s been a thrill – a true thrill.”

Sometimes, aspiring professionals attend a prominent sports broadcasting college such as Syracuse University expecting that through their enrollment and time at the school, they will be able to instantaneously land a job in the industry. Sure, having a vast alumni network and experienced professors at the helm undoubtedly gives students in these settings an advantage, but the field has become so competitive that it takes working hard and making connections in order to truly get started.

Quite simply, versatility and interpersonal skills are considerably valued in many fields today – sports media included – and everything you need to know cannot be attained simply by listening to lectures and doing class projects. You have to be “the full package” in this industry according to Eagle, which means putting forth a sustained effort in the quest to hone the skills you have while developing new ones along the way.

“You have to go out and do it,” Eagle said. “It’s one thing to dream about being on the air one day; it’s another thing to actually pull the microphone in your hand or put a camera in front of your face and deliver. That takes work; it takes practice; it takes hours upon hours upon hours of polishing your skills.”

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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