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Marcellus Wiley Is Swinging For The Fences After ‘Speak For Yourself’

“I’ve been broadcasting for 25 years, and I’ve never swung for the fences… I think that was starting to starve me. Some of my muscles were atrophying in terms of what I really want to do globally.”

Brian Noe

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There’s a new commercial for FTX featuring Tom Brady. The concept is that Brady is always looking for ways to be better. He’s striving to be an improved version of himself with smarter ways to practice, recover and diet. If things can be better, why would you be satisfied with anything that’s second-rate? I don’t know if Marcellus Wiley will be the next pitchman for FTX, but he has the same mindset and approach while viewing his professional career.

Wiley, a former 10-year NFL defensive end, has been a great broadcaster for over two decades. The Compton, California native is a dynamic blend of intelligence and entertainment. In ways, he’s like a modern-day Todd Christensen. Wiley is a former player-turned-broadcaster, a scholar who graduated from Columbia that also possesses the ability to joke around on a locker-room level. I’m convinced that if Wiley sat down for five minutes with pretty much anybody, he’d be able to connect with them. Not everybody has that ability, but a smart person with personality and widespread interests does.

Dat Dude, a nickname affectionately given to Wiley by his former San Diego Charger teammates, talks about his professional goals and visions. He reveals why he’s no longer doing Speak For Yourself with former co-host Emmanuel Acho. Wiley also talks about big things that are brewing for him at FOX Sports, no longer wanting to sell cotton candy, and some great advice he received from Mike Golic. Enjoy!

Brian Noe: When and why did you decide that broadcasting was something that you wanted to pursue as a career?

Marcellus Wiley: The when was probably my fourth or fifth year. I actually had a show in Buffalo my rookie year. I’ve been broadcasting since I was in the NFL, day one. They would come to my house. We would do interviews, I would show them my life. I would cook, I would rap, I would DJ, I would do everything that I was normally doing, but a camera was there. I guess I was the first Kardashian because I had a reality show back in the ‘90s.

I didn’t make a decision to do it. I didn’t even think that was broadcasting. I thought it was just like, all right, y’all filming me live. It was about San Diego, second year, we didn’t make the playoffs again. They were starting the NFL Network. Like starting it, and I remember being a correspondent. It was the weirdest feeling ever. I’m not in the playoffs, but I’m still an active player. I’m doing this San Diego Chargers game. The Chargers lost and I’m interviewing LT (LaDainian Tomlinson). I remember when the game was over, the scrum of everyone running and trying to get an interview. I was so nervous. I didn’t run, I was like, I feel weird, like I should be playing. I should have on pads, but here I am with a microphone and a suit on. I’m like what happened to me?

I remember walking slower than everybody being over cool, really in fear, and LT finding me. I got the LT interview, and I want to say Peyton Manning somehow, some way, was like my second interview. That was easy. Everyone else bum-rushing him, bum-rushing him, and they’re giving me eye contact in the fifth quarter as they’re walking to the locker room, and just talking to me for real. I was like, whatever that feeling was in that moment, that was as close as I felt to being on the field running out the tunnel making plays. I think just because of that closeness in terms of energy, and translating to sport, probably planted the first seed in my head like yeah, when this is over, this is what I’m going to do.

BN: What’s the most fun you’ve had either in radio or TV along the way?

MW: Man, I am really trying to narrow down from a thousand and one different moments. I will start it off like this: I got in broadcasting and then I worked at ESPN. NFL Network didn’t want me because I wasn’t a Hall of Famer; I was like forget y’all. I’ll pay y’all back. Here I am at ESPN and I’m doing the car wash as they call it, all the shows, NFL Live. I remember Mike Golic came up to me the first day after doing Mike & Mike. Now I’m an active player just retired. I don’t know how big Mike & Mike is. I just think it’s a normal radio show. I’m like, why are y’all filming? It’s a radio show. Find out after I do that show — I co-hosted it with him — how big it was. Everyone was blowing me up like, dog, you did Mike & Mike and you just got there?

Mike Golic told me he said, man, keep your personality and keep telling stories. He says that’s your secret sauce. I was able to navigate a career where I was able to have personality in all of my broadcasting more than just analytics or just X’s and O’s. I was more I’s and you’s from day one. So I’m doing NFL Live and we’re talking about third-and-goal and fourth-and-goal, and I’m sitting here talking about the club, and stories, and I know that guy, and we hung out.

Seth Markman at the time, the boss of the show, came to me and he was like, Marcellus, you’re not long for this show, and that’s a good thing. What happened from there is SportsNation. I started doing SportsNation, which was so personality driven. It started to snowball from there. I carved out a lane before it was really carved for us in the industry.

All of that said my favorite moment? I don’t really have a favorite moment. I know when I feel the best. I feel the best when I’m with a co-host or a guest and we came here to talk one thing and we end up talking that, but we take it to so many different levels and peel back so many layers. We all do it, even if we’re in disagreement, with respect. That’s my favorite place to go is to bring all four corners of the room together, and talk through it and smile about it.

BN: What has been the most challenging show you’ve worked on?

MW: The most challenging. Ahh, man. Probably Speak For Yourself the last two years. Let me preface it by saying it’s because it switched from the first two years. I left ESPN with Jason Whitlock being a recruiter, coming to my back yard it felt like every day. It wasn’t that often, but he made me feel like a 5-star player. [Laughs] Recruiting me to come to FOX. He had this show structure and he had this show element and design and heart to do a show he wanted to do.

It was right up my alley because for the longest I’ve always been this balancing act. I’ve never been the football. I’ve never wrapped my entire identity around sports. It’s something that I did, but it wasn’t who I was. When the offer came to do a show that was deeper than sports or more than sports, oh, I was all-in. Then that shifted because Jason left. And he didn’t even tell me he was leaving too so you know, he’s still my boy, but hey, Jason, you already know how you got your boy. But that wasn’t a death blow.

Nick Khan, my super agent, friend, co-CEO of WWE, he also left. So I’m not even talking about the show; I’m talking about what’s going on while I’m doing this show. The reason I went to FOX to do a show is now gone, and my conductor, navigator of it all was now gone. But he planted the seed in me that really has blossomed of late. He was like, look man, at this point in my life, I’ve done amazing at what I’m doing, but there’s a certain point you got to stop swinging for singles and doubles and try to hit one over the fence. I was listening to that because he was really saying, I gotta get deeper into my passion, but also swing for it.

I’ve been broadcasting for 25 years, and I’ve never swung for the fences. Okay, you got this base hit. Okay, now I’m doing a show with Golic. All right, another base hit, I’m with Beadle. Then a base hit, I’m with Max. I’ve always kind of just been with great co-hosts who, at times, they swung for the fences in their respects. I always just sat there taking my base hits just rounding the bases.

When Acho came, one, the show completely switches in dynamic because they’re two different people. Duh. I’m doing the same show a different way and then it’s all of a sudden not the same show. I love doing it with Acho because I knew Acho from before. That’s my friend. He used to be quote-unquote, maybe a mentee, if you could call it that. He came to SportsNation one day and we just exchanged numbers and we used to talk all the time. I used to tell him how I was and he was telling me how it’s going. We just broke bread like that and became like my little bro, big bro, just because I’m way older than him. He was my boy. We had fun doing the show, but it was a different show.

I think that was starting to starve me. Some of my muscles were atrophying in terms of what I really want to do globally. I like it real. I like it raw. I like it deep. I want to bring the sociology of sports out. Our show was going in a direction and format that was going to be lighter. I have done fluffy long enough and I had done SportsNation. I’ve done fluff. I know how to sell cotton candy, but it was time to get to the meat and potatoes. No slight to my boy, Acho, but I was looking different at what I was doing than what he was doing. So, got to a point where the bosses and us, we started to talk through it. They gave me a great plan. They gave me a great consolation if you would.

I still have that muscle that needs to go back to the gym and get his reps in and doing that show wasn’t going to allow me to get those reps. Now the show has rebranded, has shifted to those places. I wish all those dudes luck, and Joy, my girl. I’ve known Joy since she was itty-bitty. I knew Joy before she could even drive, like back in the Miami Dolphin parking lots, Jason Taylor my homie days. I love them all. But I want to tap into my greatest passion and I haven’t been able to do that just yet.

BN: What does swinging for the fences look like for you? What do you want to do next?

MW: Well one, it’s not just commentating sports, it’s connecting with the people. I was going to be a school teacher, or a Dean of Students. That was like my life goal. But I just kept getting bigger, faster, stronger, so I ended up playing football. I wanted to just return home and be a teacher. That’s carved into me. I look at people in this world, all walks of life, and we all meet that moment where it’s a fork in the road. I just kind of want to be a life coach. I want to be a grander voice for those who are confronted with those forks in the road and help them go right, not left, go the right way and not the wrong way. That’s where I need to tap into.

Those are the opportunities that are being presented to me right now in terms of still being who I am in my sport thread. I’m still an athlete, I get it. I’m still a commentator, I love it. I’m still going to do a show on FOX Sports and it’s going to be sports based. It’s going to be football focused..

Swinging for the fences is me taking off the suit, getting from behind the desk, not talking about sports in a binary fashion, not being argumentative, not constantly trying to pit things against each other because it is a competition. But really weave through those nuances that we all sit back when we’re sipping a brew or we’re around our friends or we’re in the bar. There’s a different energy and spirit and there’s a different way that we consume the game than what is happening largely in broadcasting right now.

In broadcasting, we’re going Cowboys, we’re going Dak, we’re going NFC East and then we’re going LeBron and he sneezed. Then it’s going oh, Westbrook’s not happy. And it’s like, I know all these dudes. I know all these scenarios. I lived through this. How dare we now undermine them? How dare we now antagonize everything to kind of bring it to a lower common denominator instead of the love for this? I coach youth football. Every single parent would switch places with every single guy we demonize right now. It’s like you’re on a road to nowhere if we can’t start at the top and properly articulate it, and let people properly consume it. I’m ambitious, but since I’ve been through it, it’s not too far gone.

BN: I’m divorced. For a long time people would ask what happened. It’s like, ahh man, I get why you’re asking, but I’ve been asked that so many times and I just don’t want to talk about it. Is that how you feel with Speak For Yourself when people ask you what happened?

MW: Not completely. But everyone wants to know what happened and I do want to set this straight. FOX loved me. FOX loved Acho. FOX didn’t love what we were doing because that’s not what we were supposed to be doing. Y’all remember that. So FOX said let’s figure out the best alternatives for both. Speak was changing its format. I didn’t want it (to be) Speak. I didn’t want it (to be) Speak For Yourself because Whitlock was Speak For Yourself, as Colin Cowherd was Speak For Yourself with Whitlock. Let’s go all the way back. I wanted to do what I wanted to do.

Now the best version of that was an opportunity and offer to do First Things First. And I wanted to do First Things First, but first, there was conversation of it coming to L.A. Ultimately, it stayed in New York. I still had that opportunity, but as you’re divorced, I’m married with three little ones and a fourth one in New York, which got me on the edge. Boy, I was running that ball, open field, five, four, three, goal, and then no, I didn’t want to cross the goal line.

But my heart is with those guys on that show. I love that show. I love what that could have been and what may come. But I couldn’t do it. We then tried to, all right, land the plane differently, different versions, hybrid New York and L.A. Then I started to feel half pregnant as they say. I’m robbing myself, I’m robbing you, I’m not all-in. This is a trial, this is all new.

Now if they would’ve moved the show to L,A., done deal, I would’ve been the guy. That’s why they don’t have the football guy there constantly right now. It was going to be me. But we’re not there, so I’m going to do my show, which I need a name for — so anybody, everybody something with Dat Dude — I’m going to start it off twice a week and just ramp it up. It’s going to happen that way and meanwhile all these other opportunities — we’re going to have to do a Part 2 interview after everything settles over there because of legalities — I’ll have those other entities land and then I’ll be doing my show on FOX Sports. Then you’ll start to see a fuller expression of me and hopefully it’s going to be a better conversation around sports and life for you.

BN: Awesome, man. I’ll start brainstorming. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. Dem Dudes? [Laughs]

MW: I’ve heard worse. I’ve heard better, but I’ve certainly heard worse. Hey look, if I’m stuck, I’m not judging anybody.

BN: I want to do a couple of rapid fire questions with you; just a couple of quick thoughts on each of these. Who’s the smartest host you’ve worked with in radio or TV?

MW: Oh, Max Kellerman. Not even close. I don’t know how his brain fits in that little head of his, but goodness, he’s like an almanac. He’s like a dictionary. He’s corrected me so many times on air as well. That’s how you know that’s my boy. He’s like, that’s not it. [Laughs] I love that. We went to the same school. It took him way longer to graduate than me. I don’t know how. Maybe he wanted to get like nine degrees, but he’s a genius.

BN: Which school did you both go to?

MW: Columbia. Yeah, we went to Columbia together. He was there before me and after me, but Max at that time was a rapper and in them streets. Different dude.

BN: Who’s the funniest host you’ve worked with?

MW: Oh, man. Oh, that’s so close. Kelvin Washington comes to mind. Kelvin Washington, I call him Wayne Brady light. Like he’s Wayne Brady, a different version. This dude is like the most talented cat I’ve ever seen. Impressions, comedy, it’s almost like he should be on every game show as the host. This dude is next-level hilarious. Every time I see K Dub, I’m cracking up.

BN: Who’s the host you enjoyed working with the most?

MW: Beadle’s so close, but man, she’s a firecracker too. One day Beadle coming in and you’re, aww, look out, mama mad. We used to always say mama mad, and then that wasn’t the day. Most fun? A lot of these are going to get Max. I don’t want to keep Max-ing it out, but let me think, most fun. Charissa is like the best hang. Charissa Thompson, it’s like, oh, we’re working? You forgot. I’ll probably go Charissa because your shoulders are always down with Charissa. She works the room and she just keeps it light.

BN: Last one, not so much rapid fire, but just the script for your next five, 10 years professionally. If you could write it, what would you want that script to look like?

MW: It would have to be full expression of who I am and all of my experiences and perspective. I am creating a structure, a machinery that I can now be in connection with the masses, with the people. What does that look like? I want to be Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, my version. Kevin Samuel, rest in peace, just these people who have these perspectives that enlighten, unify, even sometimes disrupt, but they’re in pursuit of the universal truth, and really trying to just display who they are for all in fullness. 

So for me, no more just athlete because I used to hate that growing up and I forgot it for the last 20 years. I became now just broadcaster. You’re getting fluffy off the cotton candy. You’re doing the same thing and it’s amazing, I’m not trying to slight it, but then there’s a part of you that’s starting to grow a little hungry, starving itself as I said before, starting to atrophy. I just want to feed that muscle as well.

The players, before they put the helmet on or after they take it off, I want to talk about that. The times that my family would drive to my games and tailgate in my living room before I left for the stadium. Those experiences where people would be like, what the hell? Yeah, my mama and my grandmama was drunk before kickoff at my house and offered me beer. Never took it. Should’ve, probably would have played better. But the point is, there’s a trillion different ways we can talk about sports, and I just felt that I had done a lot, if not all I could do in just that one vein. Now it’s time to expand it.

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Missing ‘The Little Things’ Can Make Your Station Look Really Bad

Some folks really need to take a good hard look at their site and ask themselves if it represents what they want their station to be.

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Photo of a sports radio studio

I hate that this is a topic in 2024, but it seems the more I look at different sports stations online, the more I see a problem across the industry. Some stations, or companies as a whole, are not represented well at all online. Whether it be the look or feel of their website, the information available on it, the ease or lack thereof of streaming and podcasting or connecting with the talent. All of these are ‘the little things’ that can go a long way with your audience.

It all starts with your station website. And the fact that I have to take time to write about what a sports radio station should have on its website in 2024 is not good. Some folks really need to take a good hard look at their site and ask themselves if it represents what they want their station to be.

Anyone should be able to log on to a radio station website and immediately be able to get certain information. What shows air on the station, what time and give me some information about and ways to connect with your hosts. I should also be able to easily access the ‘podcast’ or replay of a show and there should be titles and descriptions which give me information so that I can choose what segments or topics I want to listen to.

Putting a so-called podcast up, which is the full three or four hours of a show, and not telling users what is in it they might want to listen to is a huge miss. It shows people in our business do not understand how people consume content these days. They want it quick, they want to be sold on what they will get out of it if they listen. It needs to be, you know, easy.

Kudos to Audacy in this regard. They do the best job of having their stations set up so that a person can truly listen on demand. You can go to any of their stations and pick a show and most of the time you will have information about every segment that has been done. Want to hear what the hosts had to say but don’t care about the guests they have on? Perfect, listen to the segments where the hosts gave strong opinions. Don’t care about football but want all the baseball that you can get? Just choose the baseball segments. It’s how it is supposed to be.

On the flip side you have several stations where you can log on to their website and not find what you are looking for.

Take, for example, today when I wanted to listen to a station’s morning show, but I wasn’t able to listen while it was live. I typed the station name into my Google machine and got the link to their webpage.

There was a drop-down menu and I clicked ‘Podcasts.’ This took me to a page which is dated November 5, 2015.

I looked at the social media channels for the station and I found a Linktree. One of the links to click said ‘Podcast’ and so I clicked that, and it takes me to a page with a completely different URL from the radio station.

I scrolled down and found the show I was looking for and took a deep breath as it loaded as I was glad to have finally figured out how to listen to the show on-demand. Then the page loads and I saw a bunch of episodes to listen to but unfortunately, they were from February.

Not having the podcasts easily accessible, not having them posted by segment, not having host bios and not having links to their social media are unacceptable in 2024. If your goal is to get new listeners to your station, you are making it incredibly difficult for people who might want to know more about your station and talent or who want to listen to your programming.

As for the rest of the content on the website, I am going to save that for another column, but if what you’re showing your audience is aggregated content from a national source with your local tags, that is another completely missed opportunity to connect with your audience.

While I am on the subject of things that are not the main programming, some stations really need to take a listen to their sports updates. From the intros to the music to the voices being used to what they are saying should be examined. I am a huge update fan, mostly because I believe they are great for sales but also because people still want that quick info, so they are more knowledgeable around the water cooler. How did the local teams do yesterday, what is happening today I need to know about, remind me to tune in to something later, hit the sponsor and get back to the hosts. No matter how good X and the internet are, you still can’t get all your local sports news in 60-90 seconds like you can on a sports update.

I hear several stations daily that air updates, but it is clear the station does not value what is being presented or they would find people better prepared to do them. If you cannot afford to have someone who knows what to present and can do it in a manner that is listenable and provides the service to the listeners that it should, figure out some other way to do them. Perhaps one of your hosts needs to do them or work them into the programming of the show. Whatever it is, don’t just let it be a throw-away piece of content.

I jokingly refer to these items as ‘the little things,’ but these are important. Especially your websites and social interaction with your listeners. If we cannot do the very basics of having a website with easy to access live audio, easy to find podcasts and easy to locate information about the hosts and ways to connect with them, what are we doing?

I encourage all managers to take some time, as soon as possible, and go through your station sites. See if these things can be done easily, see if the information is up to date. Look at it from the standpoint of the users or someone new coming to your site.

It’s time to clean up ‘the little things.’ Everyone is busy, but we can’t be too busy when it comes to making stations sound better and making them more user friendly.

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The Best Thing I Heard/Watched Recently

I am locked in on FX’s Clipped: The Scandalous Story of LA’s Other Basketball Team which is being shown on Hulu. The first two episodes came out together and now they are being dropped weekly on Tuesdays. It’s not nearly as good as the Lakers shows, but that is only fitting I suppose.

As I have said before, give me all of these behind-the-scenes shows. I realize you are generally only getting one side of a story and things are changed up for television, but I will watch every one of these kinds of shows they want to make. Sports. Nostalgia. Drama. Inject it into my veins!

You can learn more about the show and see a trailer by clicking here.

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In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week, Peter Schwartz profiled Marc Ryan, who just recently started at 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit. Ryan had been at WYRD in Greenville, South Carolina. What is unique about this story is that as Schartz wrote, “For each of the last 14 years of his career, [Ryan] carried with him a Post-it note as a reminder of where he ultimately wanted to land. On that note were three all-sports radio stations that were his dream situations and those were 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, WFAN in New York and 670 The Score in Chicago.” 

Congratulations to Marc for making his dream a reality and best of luck in Detroit.

You can read the full feature by clicking here.

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Meet the Bettors: Ben Mintz, Barstool Sports

“The thing I always say about Barstool is take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Meet The Bettors - Ben Mintz

One of the toughest things to do when you create gambling content is to get others invested in your wins and losses. If I don’t know you, why would I root for or against you? Somehow though, Ben Mintz has broken through.

He’s one of the many gamblers on the Barstool Sports payroll. Maybe it’s being introduced amidst a losing streak. Maybe it’s his comeback story. I would guess what makes most people take an interest in Mintz’s money is Mintz himself. He’s just genuinely likable and easy to talk to.

Mintz, as he is known to Barstool fans, is the focus of the latest Meet the Bettors column presented by Point to Point Marketing. We talk about that aforementioned losing streak, the past and future of America’s interest in poker, and why the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will someday be a thing of the past.

Demetri Ravanos: We’re both SEC guys. Probably around the same time too. I graduated from Alabama in 03. Around that time, we all knew people who were finding ways to make bets. They probably thought they had an advantage over the bookmakers because they were in the heart of college action and living and breathing it.          

Do you think those advantages still exist for college sports fans? There are so many games across so many sports. Is there anywhere a dedicated fan has an advantage over the books?

Ben Mintz: Well, I’m not like the biggest college basketball guy, but the early part of college basketball season. It’s especially in the smaller schools. If people really focus on it, I’ve heard that there are big edges. There’s just so much information for the oddsmakers to keep up with from the transfer portal especially. It’s just so hard to handicap that stuff being in season with 300-and-something teams.          

I think there’s a little bit of an edge in the college baseball stuff still, just because they’ve only been doing these lines for a few years. The oddsmakers are still just trying to figure out how to properly handicap it, so I think there’s a little bit of edge there.         

DR: When you were on local sports radio in Louisiana, how much of this were you able to talk about, even if you were just using it as context for how much of a favorite a team might be? 

BM: All the time. I’ve been betting on sports for a long time now. I’m in my 40s, and this was always a big part of my brand, even when it was a little taboo. I was doing line segments, breaking down games, making picks. That was always a big part of what I did.           

I mean, it’s a fascinating part of the industry. And as long as you do it responsibly, I think it just makes everything more interesting.           

I love college baseball stuff and I’ve been firing the NCAA Tournament. I’ve got a big futures bet on NC State at 35/1 right now that I’m loving. I’m going to Omaha. I’m super into it. I always have been and it’s always been a big part of my brand. 

DR: So as a gambler, obviously you always want to win, but when it comes to creating content, especially for a brand like Barstool, is it better if you lose? 

BM: Well, I think the thing with me is, I was a professional poker player from 2006 to 14, and I played a lot of high stakes poker and in some of the biggest tournaments in the US and did really well. I mean, I made a living at poker for eight years. Sports gambling stuff is really fun to me.           

I think kind of the biggest thing with that is you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and say, “am I doing this to make money or am I doing this for entertainment?” And I do it for entertainment, so I’m not like the biggest player. I bet like 50 bucks a unit and I just enjoy it.     

The biggest mistake, and I make this mistake all the time because I’m doing it for entertainment, is you can bet on too many games. If you’re going to do it and you want to do it at the top level, you’re looking at a full college football board on Saturday night, and then you’re betting like 3 to 6 games in the NFL.           

Look at the whole board, but only bet like 2 to 4. It’s all about being selective and then going big on the ones you really like and getting a few on because it’s kind of similar to the casino thing. If you’re betting 20 or 25 games in a day, I don’t care who you are, the juice is gonna catch up to you. The style to win, if you’re really like, “hey, I’m doing this to make money,” it’s about being selective and aggressive. 

DR: Was there ever a change in the way you guys could play with losses?  Did the content you could create around losing picks change when Dave sold to Penn National or change back after he reacquired the company? 

BM: Well, I mean, when I was getting started with Barstool, the first thing that really got me going my first summer was my historic college baseball losing streak. During that time, I went like two-for-eleven in Omaha. I got so cold. There was also an issue in college baseball in its infancy with lines. I didn’t know what I was doing or how to handicap it.           

The biggest mistake I was taking too many favorites. When you look at college baseball’s middle bats being the great equalizer, there’s a ton of underdog value. I think what happens a lot is, Vegas makes the favorites too much of a favorite.  That summer I didn’t know that. My content blew up because I was losing so many bets. As far as the content goes, you know, you’d rather be red hot or ice cold. The worst thing you could be is like 4-5, you know? Nobody cares if you’re in the middle.           

The thing I always say about Barstool is take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. I mean, you’re going to get roasted in the public eye. Deal with it. It’s been happening for four years to me.          

What I’ve noticed with the Barstool thing that’s so interesting to me is like, you look at what happens on Twitter or Reddit. You can’t overanalyze that stuff because in real life, I mean, I’ve gone around the whole country now with Barstool. I’ve had like 3 or 4 negative interactions with people in 3 or 4 years. That’s it, you know? And so, it’s all like super positive in the flesh. These people just get behind the keyboards and you know, they’re just not afraid to let the fur fly. 

DR So you mentioned poker. I want to ask you about a couple of your experiences because you’ve gotten to experience poker in two very different realities. So let’s start with the most recent. During that time between when Penn let you go and before Dave rehired you, I know you were doing some events for PokerGo. That kind of business used to advertise all over ESPN and every other sports broadcast. What is the health of the poker-centric sites and businesses in 2024? 

BM: Well, the online side of it is not doing as well, but for live poker, the numbers have never been bigger. I think a lot of it was, coming out of Covid, people missed it.           

I’m actually heading out to Vegas on June 29th for the World Series of Poker. I’ll be out there and it’s all around you. I’m playing a few warm-up events, and I’m playing my ninth World Series of Poker main event. I’m playing the last day on Saturday, July 6th.          

Live poker, I mean, it’s not just crushing in Vegas. It’s crushing everywhere. The online stuff is still lagging way behind because, there are a few states where it’s legal, like Pennsylvania, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey and Nevada, but that’s not the whole country.           

Online poker was so great from like 2003 or 4 to 2011. You had the whole world playing together, so you got such a massive player pool. Then when the government tried to  crack down on it, it’s never been the same. There are a few sites that operate illegally, that people play on that are pretty big, but honestly, the online thing’s just, you know, I maybe play a couple times a year, but it’s just I’m not really that into it anymore. 

DR: Are a lot of the guys you’re going to be at the table with for the World Series of Poker, will they have action on sports as well? 

BM Yeah, most poker players are down to gamble because you’re kind of doing it for a living and just looking for edges and stuff. You see some, you know, real heavy football and sports betting guys I play poker with, for sure. There’s definitely a ton of that.           

You know, the poker sportsbook thing kind of go hand-in-hand. Poker rooms are always right by the sportsbook. They’re kind of first cousins in a way I would say.

DR: So the catalyst for that big boom, obviously, was how much ESPN invested in the World Series of Poker back in the early 2000s and started airing the main event on ESPN, obviously on delay. Do you think that poker can enjoy something like that again now that gambling in general has become less taboo? 

BM: I think the big thing with poker, you see this big push nationwide for sports betting and poker is just not that big of a business. I’m not saying that the poker world’s still not big, but, you know, there isn’t that much of a push to get it going nationally and, you know, they no longer have the World Series on ESPN. Now they tape it for CBS Sports.           

You mentioned PokerGo. Those guys keep this thing going. I mean, if you like poker, you pay 15 bucks a month and they’re the ones that live broadcast all these World Series of Poker final tables every night. I worked with them for six weeks last summer, and I just can’t say enough about what they do for the poker scene. 

DR: So let me ask you this in relation to something that I talked about with Mike Francesa last week. I asked him about the legalization of sports betting going everywhere and what that has done for horse racing, which he loves. He said that horse racing is a sport that can’t get out of its own way. It does not know how to grow a new fan base. Is that similar to what you’re seeing at these World Series of Poker tables, or are young players coming to it all the time? 

BM: You know, there’s still young blood coming into the game. I think the big thing about poker when you draw the World Series is you still get the international element. The European Poker Tour blew up over the last ten years. A lot of the best players in the world are out of Europe. Those kids, Germany? They’re on a level that I mean, it’s crazy how good they are.        

I think that’s what’s helping drive that growth of poker is just that, you still see kids in the United States get into it, but it’s not like it was during the boom when everybody was playing online and came up. You know, a lot of college kids came up through online poker. Now, I think it’s become such an international thing.           

When you play the World Series, I mean, the amount of Europeans that are around for the WSOP, heck, there’s like Brazilians and Argentineans. You get people from South America coming over, too. So, I think that’s what’s driving the worldwide growth.          

In the United States, it’s kind of interesting. Now, there are some pockets of places that are very random. They get these huge events. Like Cherokee, NC, which is over by Asheville. I mean, they have four World Series of Poker circuit events a year. They get 12 to 15 hundred people for them. I went to Firekeepers Michigan, up in Battle Creek last month, and they got 2800 people at a $1,000 event. You see that also in Grant, Oklahoma, north of Dallas. Those Oklahoma tournaments always pull Texas people. You see numbers like that returning. I mean, it’s still doing extremely well.           

What’s interesting about poker is everybody’s all about that World Series of Poker dream, because that’s what they see on TV. I love the World Series main because it’s got a brand name like Super Bowl or The Masters, but like a lot of the World Series is extremely overrated. There’s no way to hold a field of 7,000 people. It’s a numbers game. I mean, only nine make the final table.

DR: The poker experience makes me wonder about sportsbooks. As poker became harder to play online, people had to go back to casinos, but the opposite is happening for sports bettors. A physical sportsbook is a great experience, but people will choose the ease of betting online nine times out of ten. Do you think we will ever see physical books go away or is the offering unique enough that they will always have some kind of demand?

BM: I think it’s going to keep fading. Obviously when Nevada was the only place you could do it legally, that was always the big thing – going out there. But, you know, a lot of these same companies have the apps, MGM and Caesars. I guess they feel there’s still value, but I think what you’re going to see is them fade more and more because it’s just an online world now. Like you said, just being able to fire on the apps and the convenience of it.           

A lot of these casinos are in random locations and stuff too. You know, people are just trying to fit it in their day-to-day lives with their families and jobs and all that kind of stuff. Having it on your phone, is a game changer. I think it’s going to continue becoming more and more digital, especially as more and more states legalize. 

To learn more about Point-To-Point Marketing’s Podcast and Broadcast Audience Development Marketing strategies, contact Tim Bronsil at [email protected] or 513-702-5072.

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Sports Broadcasting Can Be a Family Affair

Sports are such a generational activity.

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Screengrabs from WTBS and CBS Sports
Screengrabs: WTBS and CBS Sports

It’s Father’s Day this weekend, a time to celebrate and recognize all the dads out there. Growing up it was always my dad taking me and my brother to the park to throw us extra batting practice. He coached our Little League teams and was seemingly always there. It was my dad that took me to my first baseball game. 1972, Wrigley Field, Cubs and Giants. He took me to my first hockey game. 1974, Chicago Stadium, Blackhawks and Bruins. I have special memories of those games and times.

Sports are such a generational activity. Passed on from grandparents to parents and to their kids. Sometimes covering sports is the same. There have been many father/son combinations that have called games, either with the same team or not, either in the same sport or not. It has to be a pretty special thing for all involved, realizing the significance. A few years ago, I featured a few father/sons and in one case grandparent combinations in honor of the day. A lot of those folks are still calling games. Some have moved on to retirement.

The names may have changed in some cases, but the story or stories have not. It can’t be easy to grow up the son of a broadcaster, especially early in life. Parents have to miss birthdays, graduations and a lot of ‘firsts’ that come along with growing up. Strangely enough, what separated them, can bring them together. A better understanding of what dad does for a living. A better understanding of the time away. So, let’s get on to some of these popular combinations. I’m going to highlight some of them, and this time around it’s not limited to only baseball.

Noah and Ian Eagle

Ian Eagle is one of the busiest guys in broadcasting. This past March he called his very first Final Four and NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game. He was excellent in that role, taking over the spot from the legendary Jim Nantz. The elder Eagle also calls NFL on CBS and the NBA on Turner Sports. He is also the television voice of the Brooklyn Nets on the YES Network.

Noah is starting to make a name for himself in the industry. After brief stints at Fox and CBS, he joined NBC last February to become the play-by-play announcer for the newly acquired Big Ten Saturday Night package, as well as the Big Ten Basketball package on Peacock. The younger Eagle was also tabbed to call US Men’s and Women’s basketball games during the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Noah also just debuted as the lead voice for NBC Sports/Peacock at the 2024 French Open tennis championships.

The natural question would be, how tough it is to live up to expectations, considering that his father has reached the pinnacle of the profession.  Noah seems to have a pretty good attitude about things and is trying to be his own person even with the pressure.

“I think it’s there, I think it’s true of any profession if you follow a parent — if you’re in the limelight, if you’re not in the limelight — there are people that are going to be around you within that profession more than anything else that are going to look at you and say, ‘Well you better be successful,” or, “You better do it this way, you better do it that way.’” Eagle told The New York Post in December 2023. “My philosophy has always been I’m going to put in 100 percent effort, maybe even in my thought process, 150 percent, whatever that looks like, maximum effort into my preparation, maximum effort into my relationships that I build, and then just focus on what I can do — which is go out there and perform at a high level.” he added.

“I know it sounds cliché, but to me if you can control what you can control, and that is doing the job at your highest level, whatever that is, then you’ll live up to your own expectations.”

The Eagle’s both succeed in bringing a little personality and humor into their respective broadcasts.

Both have called Brooklyn Nets games.

Marv and Kenny Albert

One of the more versatile duos on the list, Marv and Kenny Albert have called a multitude of sports, sometimes in the span of a single week. They’ve both done radio and television and have styles that are unique to each.

Marv got started at the age of 19. Working his way up, starting as a young ball boy for the Knicks. He managed to strike up a friendship with the legendary New York sportscaster Marty Glickman, who took a liking to Albert and his passion for sports. Albert would get a chance to fill in for Glickman on several Knicks and Rangers games on WCBS Radio before he was 20.

“That was kind of ridiculous, especially when I go back and listen to the tapes.” Albert told the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Marv is best known for his work at NBC, on their NFL and of course NBA coverage.

Kenny is also a multi-sport play-by-play man. The younger Albert does baseball, football, basketball, hockey and the Olympics. He’s seemingly on the air all the time. Albert works for FOX, TNT and used to call hockey on NBC. He also works on the New York Rangers radio network.

Now as far as growing up with one of the most popular sportscasters of his time?  “I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher,” Kenny said of his father. “I tagged along as often as he would allow and I picked up a lot by osmosis.” he writes in his book, A Mic For All Seasons.

“I also received a tape recorder from my parents for my birthday when I was about five or six years old. I would set up my room like a radio or TV studio. I would start calling games into the recorder.”

Harry, Skip, Chip and Chris Caray

The family with the longest lineage, now spanning 4 generations, the Caray’s. Harry started it all. His radio work in St. Louis (with Jack Buck) led him to television stints with the White Sox and Cubs in Chicago. Harry’s son Skip was next to be on the air. Skip joined the Atlanta Braves broadcasts in 1976 and stayed there until his death in 2008. Skip, like Harry, became popular outside his ‘home market’ because the games were broadcast on Superstation WTBS.

Now a second father/son duo has emerged from the Caray family tree. Chip Caray and his son Chris Caray are both major league broadcasters. Chip has been around for a little while, starting with the Cubs in 1998. He was supposed to work with his grandfather, but unfortunately Harry passed away during spring training of that year. Chip has done work for the Atlanta Braves and now is with the St. Louis Cardinals.

This year, Chris was hired by the A’s to do some of their television games. He just so happened to be working a game, when the Cardinals (and Chip) came to Oakland in mid-April. Chip and Chris met on the field before the game and spoke to the Associated Press that night.

“I’m the old guy now and I remember when I was 24 and I got my first chance to do this and my dad was in the other booth on the radio side in Atlanta,” said Chip. “And it’s very different having the torch being passed instead of being passed to you. I’m really excited and humbled and honored that Chris is here. He’s doing a great job already and I’m really excited about where he’s going to take this family business as we call it.”

Only a couple of weeks into his new job, Chris was calling a game with his dad sitting a couple of booths away. “I’m grateful and fortunate enough that they picked this series to be my fourth game. I can’t really even put it into words to tell you the truth.” he told the AP.

The Caray’s “family business” could grow by one soon. Chris’ twin brother Stefan is also calling games. In fact, Chris and Stefan both called games for the Amarillo Sod Poodles the past two years calling the games of the Diamondbacks’ Double-A affiliate.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, enjoy yourself, you deserve it.

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