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.”
Derek Futterman is a contributing editor and sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Barrett Media Names Dave Greene Chief Media Officer, Adds Perry Simon, And Reveals 2024 Plans
“I’ve spent most of the past 8 years reinvesting in content, staff, events, etc. and with Dave Greene on board, I’m confident we’ll take bigger steps in the right direction.”
Apologies in advance for the length of this column. Today is both exciting and important for yours truly. I’ve spent months analyzing every part of our business, interviewing candidates, and I’m anxious to share with our partners and readers what’s on the horizon for BSM and BNM as we get ready to enter 2024 and look ahead to 2025.
When I wrote my eight year anniversary column in September, I alluded to 2023 being a tough year. Business wise we’ve been strong but managing staff, content, and workload has been harder. Just yesterday I had to deal with a writer bolting without notice. It’s a pain in the ass. Creating and installing a content plan is easy, but if the algorithms change and your team isn’t passionate about the work or in the right roles, growth stalls. You either make changes or accept not being able to reach your goals. For me, the latter is not an option. I’m far too driven, invested and excited by what I do to accept the status quo. I expect us to grow, work hard, make a difference, and enjoy it. If it means having to rattle a few cages to get to where we need to be, then that’s what I’ll do.
The hardest part of 2023 has been knowing we had to move through the present to get to the future. I’ve had to be more protective of my time this year, saving it for clients, partners, staff, Summit planning, content analysis, creating advertising packages, and meeting with potential partners, attending business functions, recruiting staff, and taking a greater role in day-to-day content management. I’ve missed out on calls with friends who wanted to chat about the business, and reduced my writing and podcast involvement because it was necessary. BSM and BNM are both healthy, and as others vacated the space or slowed down, we’ve ramped up and continue to invest in strengthening our coverage.
Before I get into the specifics of what lies ahead, I want to recognize Garrett Searight, Alex Reynolds, Andy Drake, and Stephanie Eads for helping to keep the brand on track during the past few months. I also want to thank all of our writers for continuing to create great content. After the BNM Summit concluded in Nashville, there was so much to do and not enough time. Though it forced many of us to take on more than we wanted to, we got through it, and grew our traffic and impact. That’s a credit to our team, and the trust we’ve built with our audience.
Having set the table now, let me share what’s on the horizon, what’s ending, and where we’re hoping to go in 2024.
Chief Media Officer: I’ve gone through a long, extensive process to identify the right leader to help us grow Barrett Media. The conversations started in May and ran through November, and I had a chance to meet a lot of smart, talented people, and learn a lot about the way our brands are viewed by professional candidates. To everyone I had a chance to interact with along the way, thank you for the interest. It was a pleasure connecting with all of you.
But in the end, there was only one job to offer, and I’m excited to announce that we found exactly what we were looking for. It is my great pleasure to introduce Dave Greene as Barrett Media’s new Chief Media Officer.
The experience Dave brings with him to this position is extensive. He’s been an integral part of building the Podcast Heat Network alongside talented pro wrestling podcaster Conrad Thompson. The company has created, distributed, and monetized podcasts featuring star talents such as Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Eric Bischoff, Jim Ross, Mick Foley, Jeff Jarrett and others. Before joining the Podcast Heat Network with Conrad, Dave spent two decades in the radio business, working as a VP/GM, GSM, PD, Owner, and and On-Air talent. He has worked for Audacy, Townsquare Media, Cumulus Media, and Flinn Broadcasting. Among the sports and news brands he’s had the pleasure of helping include KMOX and 590 The Fan in St. Louis, 610 Sports in Kansas City, The Ump and WVNN in Huntsville, and KHMO in Quincy. He’s also served as co-owner and publisher of St. Louis Sports magazine, and was one of our first weekly columnists when we started adding writers in 2017.
When I made the decision to add someone to help me manage the content and grow the company, I knew I’d be looking for a unicorn. I initially sought an Executive Editor but as this process moved along, I realized I needed a leader who provided more than just writing and broadcasting skills. They needed to be adept at content and sales, have a passion and ability to write, connected across the industry, experienced in event creation, and equally as important, they had to know our brands and see growth potential in our business the way that I do.
I took my time with this hire because it was too important to make a rushed or bad choice. Since launching BSM in 2015 and BNM in 2020, I’ve seen other comparable media outlets earn seven to eight figure valuations. We’re not at that level and may never be but I believe we’re on the right track to larger success. Though I have zero interest in selling BSM and BNM, and plan on running this company for 15 more years, it only makes sense to make our brands the best they can be, and elevate our value with each passing year. I’ve spent most of the past eight years reinvesting in content, staff, events, etc. and with Dave on board, I’m confident we’ll take bigger steps in the right direction.
Dave’s immediate focus will be to learn the staff, manage the day-to-day workflow, find and write news stories, add a weekly column, contribute on special projects, and execute our editorial calendar. Additionally he’ll work with Stephanie to improve our sales operation, and collaborate with me on new ways to grow events, traffic, newsletters, and audience data. After previously competing against each other in St. Louis, I’m looking forward to being on the side and working together to maximize the full potential of Barrett Media.
Internal Promotions: In addition to strengthening our team with Dave’s addition, I am equally excited to announce three internal promotions. First, I’m thrilled to elevate Alex Reynolds to the role of Digital Director of Barrett Media. Alex has served as our social media coordinator since August 2022, playing a key role in executing our social media strategy. Moving forward, he will continue overseeing our social media plan, while getting further involved in affiliate marketing, website/content partnerships, newsletter creation, podcast/video production, data analysis, and audience growth strategies for our social channels and newsletters. He will also write a brand new original series, ‘Social Studies‘, which debuts in January on BSM.
The second internal promotion I’m pleased to share involves Derek Futterman. Derek is being officially promoted to the role of Sports Media Reporter. Since joining BSM in May 2021, Derek has learned a ton as a Contributing Editor and News Writer. He started by occasionally writing stories, got further involved with daily news, and in the past few months, has taken on the challenge of writing features on executives and broadcasters. He’s covered industry events, the BSM Summit, established relationships, and continues to grow. I’m eager to help him take another step by having him produce three features per week, contribute to special projects, involving him as our backstage interviewer at the BSM Summit, and having him contribute to daily news, while additionally managing BSM’s Jobs section.
The final internal promotion involves Garrett Searight. Garrett joined us in August 2022 as an Editor, and worked his tail off but learned quickly, this is different from working inside of a radio station. Over the past few months he’s raised his game, and I’m pleased to promote him to Managing Editor of BNM starting January 1st. Garrett will report to myself and our Chief Media Officer while writing daily news, and two weekly features for BNM. He’ll also become the point person for our BNM columnists and features writers. We’ve seen BNM make major strides over the past year despite not having a dedicated leader. I can only imagine how much better the brand will be with Garrett fully focused on it. One thing that isn’t changing, he’ll continue to write his weekly sports media column for BSM, and manage BNM’s Jobs section.
Website Redesigns: You’ve likely noticed that BSM and BNM look different today. We have modified both websites to make it easier to find content. Our main pages are often filled with news stories, making it hard to find things. These new layouts allow us to feature six stories in the main sections, and nine in each of the key lower sections, sports/news radio, sports/news TV, and sports digital/media business. The site will also display better on mobile, and we’ve added a sports betting bar on BSM, conference calendars to the lower right of articles on both sites, and we’ve retained the media stock ticker on BNM. All are available for sponsorship. We’re also turning on the comments to allow readers to chime in on our stories.
BSM Writers: To help us elevate BSM in 2024, we’re adding a few new writers, adjusting roles of a few of our contributors, and saying goodbye to a few of our teammates.
Starting with the additions, I’m excited to welcome Moses Massena as a weekly columnist. Moses is a sports television veteran, who spent 14 years at MLB Network, working as a researcher, segment producer, and producer, winning 7 Sports Emmys for his contributions to “MLB Tonight”. He has also worked a producer at MSG Network, and served as a researcher for FOX & ESPN. His professional television career began with SNY from 2007-2009.
Next, I’m pleased to welcome Jeff Kotuby to BSM as a daily sports television writer. Jeff has written content for many broadcasting and pop culture sites, including The Streamable, eBaum’s World, Twin Galaxies, and more. He has already begun diving in on BSM, and I’m looking forward to our readers becoming more familiar with his contributions in the future.
Moving to the internal adjustments, starting in January, Jordan Bondurant will take on a more defined role writing news stories each night on sports digital matters. Garrett Searight will add local and national sports radio content until Dave has a handle on the daily content, and Peter Schwartz and Demetri Ravanos will continue writing weekly features and helping with original projects. Peter will also add a new monthly feature, ‘Where Are They Now?’, which will run the last week of each month starting in January.
Though most of the news is good, we do have to unfortunately share some bad. Brian Noe and Ricky Keeler will be leaving us at the end of December. Both have been with BSM for a long time and have done a great job for us. In Brian’s case, he was one of the first writers to join BSM in August 2017. We wish both of them well, and appreciate all of the contributions they’ve made to our coverage along the way.
I am still looking to add another weekly sports media columnist to BSM. The ideal candidate will have industry experience, a track record of success, and a passion to write about the business. If you or someone you know fits the bill, send a resume and writing sample to [email protected].
BNM Writers: BSM has earned a strong reputation in sports media circles, and we’re determined to make sure BNM is highly regarded as well. To help us continue making progress, we’re excited to announce a few additions. First, please join me in welcoming Perry Michael Simon to BNM as a weekly columnist. Perry’s column will be published every Thursday on the site starting on December 7th.
Perry served as VP and Editor/News-Talk-Sports/Podcast for AllAccess.com after previously working as a Program Director and Operations Manager for KLSX and KLYY in Los Angeles and New Jersey 101.5 in Trenton. His contributions to All Access were excellent, and his knowledge of the industry, and his willingness to challenge it helped many broadcasters learn, adjust, defend, and grow to appreciate his point of view. After a well deserved break following the shutdown of All Access, Perry is refreshed, refocused, and ready to offer his smart, snarky, and strong opinions on the media business. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for our readers.
In addition, BNM is pleased to announce the arrival of Krystina Alarcon Carroll. Krystina joins us in a hybrid role, writing two weekly features and adding a weekly column. She freelances currently for WPIX in New York and previously worked on live, streamed, and syndicated TV programs at NY1, Fox News Digital, Law & Crime Network, and Newsmax. We’re excited to add her to our team, and you can read her first story today on BNM.
As our readers recently learned, we’ve unfortunately had to say goodbye to Jim Avila. Jim did an excellent job for BNM but a great television opportunity came his way, and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward. Ryan Hedrick has also exited. I’m accepting resumes and writing samples from industry pros who have a passion to write daily news TV stories and weekly features. If interested, click here. We have more evaluations to make in the next month to make sure we’re built for success entering 2024. One thing for certain, we are going to keep building BNM and make sure news/talk media professionals have a daily destination to visit and enjoy reading about their format and business.
Two New Newsletters: Another exciting addition coming in 2024 will be the introduction of two new daily newsletters, the BSM Press Pass, and the BNM Wrap Up. We will distribute both starting on January 2nd. The BSM Press Pass will be delivered daily at 5pm ET. The BNM Wrap Up will go out at 6pm ET. We’ll have a different look and approach for both, which I think media folks will enjoy and find useful at the end of the work day.
With the arrival of the Press Pass and Wrap Up, we will continue sending out the BSM 8@8 at 8am ET. The BNM Rundown though will move to an earlier time, going out each morning at 9am ET. The same look, structure and valuable content will be available in both. If you haven’t signed up for BSM’s newsletters, go here. If you wish to receive BNM’s newsletters, go here.
Editorial Calendar: When BSM was born, I wrote and created a lot of features and original stories. From 5 Podcasts in 5 Days to the Sports Radio Draft, the Greatest SportsCenter Anchor Tournament, and a full-day spent with Mad Dog Sports Radio, creative pieces performed well for us. But as day-to-day news grew and our staff expanded, we got away from some of that. We’ve still done things like Meet The Podcasters and Countdown to Coverage, and they too have been well received, so in 2024, we’re going to put more focus on original projects on both BSM and BNM. We have an editorial calendar ready for 2024, and will begin reviewing plans on Tuesday during a zoom call with some of our staff. We’ve got some great things planned for BSM and BNM, so keep an eye out for it.
Member Directory: Since April 2020, we’ve featured the BSM Member Directory to help industry professionals and aspiring broadcasters display their work to PDs, agents, executives, etc.. All members receive jobs listings by email a few times per month, get featured in the BSM 8@8 newsletter, are promoted in content when they have career news to share, and our annual subscribers get a 20% discount on BSM Summit tickets. Memberships are $14.99 per month or $149.99 per year. For 2024, we’re going to explore new ways to deliver more value and grow our member base. Dave, Alex and I will be brainstorming ideas this month in hopes of introducing new benefits to existing and future members during Q1.
Jobs Listings: We’re often asked to post Jobs for companies due to our ability to reach the right people. Knowing how hard it is to find good help, and having used LinkedIn, Indeed and other sites myself, I know it’s not cheap. Other trades charge a few hundred dollars per month to promote openings, and starting today, we’re going to do the same except we’re keeping costs low. For $99 per month companies can now promote open positions through our websites. If you click on the Jobs tab on BSM or BNM, you’ll see the latest listings. If you use the dropdown menu and select ‘Place An Ad on BSM/BNM‘ it allows you to submit an ad and get it posted on the site within 24-hours. I’m hoping it’s helpful.
Ratings Reports: I know the ratings matter to PDs, hosts, and executives. Yet many get upset with the ups and downs of measurement. Maybe it’s not perfect, but this is your report card, and whenever we highlight the industry, it benefits broadcasters, advertisers and listeners. We’re going to write quarterly ratings reports next year for both sports and news/talk radio. We will not do monthlies. All I ask is that we receive the PPM Data reports for each quarter so we can be fair and accurate to all. We write these reports to showcase the strength of two valuable formats, and to recognize all who contributed to each brand’s success. Nielsen is still the king when it comes to measurement, and our stations don’t benefit if they don’t promote their wins to the rest of the business world. My thanks to Harker Bos Group for supporting these stories. I look forward to digging into the data to highlight those who are making an impact in 2024.
JB Column and Podcast: I acknowledged earlier that writing columns and hosting podcasts became harder in 2023. That said, I realize I have a voice that matters. Starting in January, I will begin writing a weekly column on BSM. I will also be bringing back The Jason Barrett Podcast for 26 episodes next year. Half of those episodes will focus on sports media. The other half will explore the news/talk space. We will also video the shows and make them available through the Barrett Media YouTube page. If I was going to do the podcast, I wanted to add a new layer to it. I think this will help us do that and I look forward to hosting it in April 2024. It’s possible that we’ll add other podcasts and video shows in the future, but for now, we’re going to take it one show at a time.
Return of Guest Columns: BSM and BNM have featured guest columns before from Craig Carton, Erick Erickson, Dan Zampillo, Mo Egger, and Bo Thompson just to name a few. I’d like see more media people use our platforms to highlight issues or causes that are important to them. Whether you’re an owner, executive, PD, salesperson, media buyer, host, agent, imager, producer, podcaster or social media director, if you have knowledge to share, and interest in writing a one-time guest piece for BSM or BNM, email [email protected].
BNM Top 20/BSM Top 20: Our two biggest traffic drivers of the year, the BSM Top 20 and the BNM Top 20 will continue to serve the sports and news/talk radio industries. A huge thanks to Steve Stone Voiceovers for signing on as the exclusive sponsor of the BSM Top 20, and JJ Surma Voiceovers for coming on board as the exclusive partner of the BNM Top 20. The BNM Top 20 of 2023 drops December 11-15 and December 18. Voting for industry executives expires later today. The BSM Top 20 of 2023 will be released February 5-9 and February 12. Voting for that series will start in late December, early January. We’re also looking at a few additional projects to recognize the best in the industry. More to come on that in 2024.
BSM/BNM Summits: The BSM Summit returns to NYC on March 13-14, 2024. We’ll be live at the Ailey Theater both days, and have announced 16 top speakers so far and have more still to come. You can purchase tickets to the show here. For those in the news/talk world, we’re going to host our second BNM Summit in September 2024. We’ve chosen the host city and venue and hope to announce our plans after wrapping up this year’s BNM Top 20. Running our next show two months before the election is going to be excited. Stay tuned!
For eight years, we’ve grown traffic, influence, events, consulting clients, and our writing team by following a simple philosophy, focus on serving the right audience, not the largest. When you commit to quality over quantity and refuse to chase clicks at the expense of relationships, you land in a much better spot. We are where we are today because of our consulting clients, advertising partners, and earned trust and respect with our readers and industry professionals.
That said, while we have proven our value to top talent, executives, agents, and media buyers, some marketing folks have been harder to reach. Stephanie Eads and I have attended many zoom calls and in-person meetings to share our story, and we’ve created packages large and small to accommodate all budgets. I’m hoping that as we enter 2024, those who have been slow to respond or who have stuck to doing the same things repeatedly, take a chance to discover why BSM or BNM should be part of their media mix.
In closing, I am ecstatic about adding Dave Greene to help us grow BSM and BNM. We have a lot of work ahead of us but I’m confident progress will be made. I appreciate everyone who visits our websites, receives our newsletters, attends our Summits, follows and shares our content on social media, and let’s others know about of our existence. Most importantly, I’m grateful to our consulting clients and advertising partners who give us the support we need to be able to continue doing this. We can’t raise the bar without you, and I’m fortunate to be in this position serving an industry I love, respect, believe in, and root for.
Here’s to Barrett Media’s future. 2024 is going to be awesome, and I’m glad to have you along for the ride!
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at [email protected].
The SEC and CBS Had a Great Run, But it Was Time to Say Goodbye
“CBS created a valuable brand by investing in something that was small, but distinct and marketing it each week as an can’t miss event. That just wasn’t happening in the same way by 2023.”
After 27 years, we have seen the last SEC football game on CBS. The network did a marvelous job Saturday night paying tribute to what the two entities did together, but as Brad Nessler said goodbye to the audience for himself, Gary Danielson, their colleagues and predecessors, I couldn’t help but think that it was good for SEC fans that this chapter is over.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey took the mic from Jenny Dell, and before presenting the conference championship trophy to Nick Saban and the University of Alabama, said “Let me ask you first to join me in thanking CBS for 26 incredible years of presenting SEC football”. The response was mixed, but the boos were audible.
Before we explore why though, let’s talk about all that CBS did right. Perhaps what it did best was nothing at all. Verne Lundquist was a master of laying out and letting the pictures and the crowd tell the stories of moments like the Kick Six. A variety of directors, producers and other staffers worked in video of tailgates to give those thousands of miles away from I-22 a sense of what The Grove in Oxford was like or documented the excitement inside the stadium before kickoff so that people everywhere understood the effect that running through the Power T has on a crowd in Knoxville or how “Sandstorm” brings the Willy B to life in Columbia.
At it’s very best, CBS made our Saturday culture in the South look cool as hell and Verne Lundquist didn’t need to say more than “oh my gracious” to convey just how extraordinary the environment and moments really were.
Since the retirement of Lundquist at the end of the 2016 college football season however, there is very little about CBS’s broadcast that feels authentically SEC. Brad Nessler is a fine broadcaster. Gary Danielson is polarizing for many fans, but he is as synonymous with that game as anyone. Overall though, vibe has felt flat.
The fact that Tim Brando bolted after the 2013 season has a little something to do with that too. It was the beginning of CBS replacing the college football diehards and legends on its studio show with a who’s who of “who’s available?”. I mean, Rick Neuheisal previewing Alabama versus LSU? Why?
But the problem was never as simple as me wanting to hear more people that speak the way I do on the CBS broadcast. CBS’s biggest problem is that as college football changes, the network’s presentation doesn’t.
There was a sequence Saturday in the first half of Alabama’s win over Georgia that went commercial, one play, commercial, Bama lets the play clock run down before calling timeout, commercial. That kind of thing was not at all uncommon for CBS. In an era of shortened attention spans, the network’s 3:30 game was running until 7:30 and later with regularity. It always felt openly disrespectful to the audience.
Those commercial breaks being stacked with ads for Survivor (Holy shit! Still?) and various NCIS destinations didn’t help. They aren’t convincing anyone under the age of 60 to watch those shows. They are annoying filler – literally in the way of you seeing what you are actually came here to watch.
It seems like somewhere along the way, CBS stopped seeing what it had as special. That isn’t just a CBS problem. NBC just extended its deal with Notre Dame and regularly puts out a broadcast that looks and sounds like everyone involved just remembered they had to work today like 20 minutes ago. College football doesn’t seem valuable to those two networks. The attitude seems to be “this is football, but it isn’t the NFL, so the price tag is more important than the quality.”
It is a surprise that it happened at CBS, because of what Danielson said as the broadcast signed off Saturday night.
“The concept by Sean McManus and his team [was] to take, in college football, a regional product and make it a national 3:30 game,” he told Nessler. “His deal was to hire the best people he could find behind the camera, in the truck, producer, director, cameramen. And then start it at 3:30 with that music.”
CBS created a valuable brand by investing in something that was small, but distinct and marketing it each week as a can’t miss event. That just wasn’t happening in the same way by 2023. There were still great games on, but it felt like the network approached it as somehow lesser than a 4:05 Week 8 kickoff between the Patriots and Jets.
Beginning with next football season, the SEC moves all of its games to ESPN and ABC. Will the networks offer something innovative? Will the broadcasts move faster and reflect the speed on the field? I don’t know, but I do know it is time for a change.
As for CBS, its college football offerings will be regulated to the second or third best Big Ten game each week and whenever two of the service academies play each other. Honestly, that may be a better fit. CBS continues to do a great job with Army/Navy every year and the Big Ten’s media strategy suggests that it is content to be treated as minor league NFL…and I don’t know if you tried to watch Iowa and Michigan on Saturday night, but yeesh. If that’s the best it has to offer, maybe it doesn’t deserve to be treated much better.
The SEC is in my soul as a native of the geographic footprint and an alum of its current champion. I am not sad to see the CBS chapter of the conference come to a close. Watching the retrospective that closed out Saturday’s broadcast was a good reminder of how many moments and stars I enjoyed thanks to the network’s investment in the conference. It brought back great memories and filled me with true appreciation for what was, but the two sides have done all they can for each other. It’s time to move on.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at [email protected].
BetQL’s Nick Kostos Wants to Reach More Than Sports Bettors
“I’ve always wanted to feel like Cheers, a place where everyone can go to talk about sports where no one feels left out or like they don’t have a seat at the table.”
To say that sports gambling has become a huge part of the entire sports radio industry would be the understatement of the year. Not to say that sports betting wasn’t discussed on talk shows before it became legal in many states, but the explosion in the last few years has been significant and, in the opinion of Nick Kostos, one of the major players in sports betting content, a long time coming.
“I’m surprised it didn’t become bigger even sooner,” said Kostos, the co-host of You Better You Bet on Audacy’s BetQL Network. “I always felt like it was going to take off. I’m not surprised by how big it’s gotten. My surprise is that it took as long as it did for things to kind of get rolling the way that it has.”
You Better You Bet can be heard on BetQL Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 PM ET. Two hours of the show is now simulcast on the Stadium app while the entire show also airs on Sirius XM. Kostos also does a weekend version of the show on Sundays from 11 AM to 1 PM ET while also hosting a Sunday show on WFAN in New York from 8:30 AM to 9 AM. Additionally, Kostos does a weekly appearance on both Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football with Westwood One.
Nick Kostos owes a huge debt of gratitude to former Audacy Sports President Mike Dee for initially giving a sports betting show and network a chance back in 2019. What started as just a weekend show and network and survived through the COVID-19 pandemic has now grown incredibly into an operation that has garnered credibility throughout the industry.
Last year, You Better You Bet made Barrett Sports Media’s Top 20 list for national sports radio shows.
“Just to have the respect of our peers in that way is really great,” said Kostos. “My vision when the show started — and I think my co-host Ken Barkley and have done a pretty good job of pulling this off — is the concept of ‘Wagertainment’ which the company has kind of branded the entire network around. Wagertainment, to me, is the combination of smart betting content but we’re also going to make it entertaining and fun.”
“I think that was a defining moment being recognized by their peers and by people in management jobs in sports media that they were a sports betting show recognized in the top 20,” said Mitch Rosen, Vice-President of the BetQL Network and Operations Director/Brand Manager for 670 The Score in Chicago.
Kostos and Barkley design each show so that it’s entertainment for ardent sports gamblers, novice sports gamblers who are looking for good information, and sports fans who will hear previews of the games they want to watch.
The brass tacks are that listeners will hear content that gets them ready for the game.
Who is going to win? How many points will they win by? Who is going to play and who is not going to play? How is my fantasy team going to do?
“I think that concept has helped us win a little bit in this space,” said Kostos. “We have made a real emphasis this football season on the guests that we have on the show to try and reach a broader demographic by having studio analysts and play-by-play voices.”
The guest list for You Better You Bet includes names like Rece Davis, Adam Lefkoe, Liam McGugh, Brad Nessler, and Tim Brando.
“We’re really trying to reach basically every single segment of people who would be interested in sports betting content,” said Kostos.
The show, the anchor of the BetQL network, has become the gold standard when it comes to sports betting content and Kostos, an alum of Fordham University’s famous WFUV radio station as well as a former producer at Sirius XM, is a big reason why.
To steal a line from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, he likes to “just bring it” every single day and every single show.
“Nick, arguably, is one of the most energetic, knowledgeable, charismatic on-air personalities in the sports wagering betting entertainment business,” said Rosen. “I’ve been in the business a long time and there are not many people who have that kind of passion and energy and knowledge that Nick has. When a show with a great partnership with BetMGM has 23 million downloads plus in a year, it shows you the interest that the fan base has around the world.”
It takes a village for something to be successful and Nick Kostos is surrounded by some extremely talented people on You Better You Bet. Just like Kostos, co-host Ken Barkley comes from a producer background having worked for Scott Van Pelt at ESPN. Kostos views Barkley as a “godsend” and their partnership on the show has grown and nurtured to the point where the program has become the success that it is today.
“Those backgrounds that both of us have in producing have allowed us with our crew and our current producer Alex Fasano to really be able to craft a show that makes sense,” said Kostos. “There are a lot of good betting content creators and there are a lot of good betting analysts out there. I think that Ken Barkley is as good if not better than anybody else when it comes to breaking down sports betting. Without him, I don’t think You Better You Bet and me are able to get to the point that we’re at right now.”
A big reason for the success of the show is that there is a community feel to it. Many sports radio shows have that office “water cooler” type of feel where two or more people can just enjoy a good sports conversation. You Better You Bet takes it a step further by bringing the discussion to a bigger venue…
Like the one where everybody knows your name.
“I’ve always wanted to feel like Cheers, a place where everyone can go to talk about sports where no one feels left out or like they don’t have a seat at the table,” said Kostos. “You don’t have to show up to listen to You Better You Bet and have a PHD in sports betting. You don’t have to have that knowledge in order to sit down at the bar and talk sports with us.”
Sports betting has just added another layer to the enjoyment of being a sports fan. Some people bet on sports and some people don’t but both groups share the same interests as the game is about to kick off, the puck is about to drop, the opening tip-off is about to take place and the first pitch is about to be thrown.
You root for your team to win, whether it’s your favorite team or it’s the team that you bet on.
“It becomes something that people can consume whether they bet or not because it’s all talking about the games,” said Nick Kostos. “Yes, we’re trying to make money and win our bets but at the heart of it, it’s a sports conversation. Who is going to win the game, by how many points, and what players are going to play well or poorly in the game? That’s something that all sports fans think about on a daily basis.”
Here’s a safe bet: If you tune in to You Better You Bet on BetQL, you’re going to be entertained and educated by Nick Kostos and company. Whether you took the favorite, the underdog, the over or the under or you’re just a huge sports fan, it’s a fun sports community that welcomes everyone who enjoys watching the games.
Peter Schwartz has been involved in New York sports media for over three decades. Along the way he has worked for notable brands such as WFAN, CBS Sports Radio, WCBS 880, ESPN New York, and FOX News Radio. He has also worked as a play by play announcer for the New Yok Riptide, New York Dragons, New York Hitmen, Varsity Media and the Long Island Sports Network. You can find him on Twitter @SchwartzSports or email him at [email protected].