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Wayne Randazzo Wants More Monumental Moments

“You have to network but you also have to get good at what you do,” he said. “I think spending the time to get better and make yourself a fundamentally good broadcaster”.

Derek Futterman

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As he stepped up to the plate at Dodger Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman/designated hitter Albert Pujols was two swings away from becoming just the fourth player in league history to reach 700 career home runs. The 42-year-old is in the midst of his final season in Major League Baseball and it is certainly one to remember, especially since the Cardinals will play in October with a legitimate chance to capture a World Series championship. Perched several levels above the field, Wayne Randazzo was behind the microphone for the Apple TV+ Friday Night Baseball broadcast with a near-capacity crowd fixated on the field and many more watching from afar.

Once Pujols crushed his 699th career home run, the palpability of hitting number 700 became much more genuine in scope. As the perennial slugger stepped up to the plate for the third time, Randazzo and the Apple TV+ broadcast team were ready for the chance to deliver an enduring moment in baseball history.

For Randazzo, 36, it represented a milestone in his broadcast career and the realization of a dream of his to be able to call indelible accomplishments in Major League Baseball on a national stage. From the time he was a child in Chicago, the nuance and grandeur associated with baseball served as factors that persuaded him to work in sports media – and the announcers explaining it all helped him effectively learn the game.

One announcer in particular that stood out to Randazzo during his formative years of fandom was Harry Caray, the longtime play-by-play voice of his childhood team, the Chicago Cubs. Caray’s unique style of announcing and ability to entertain baseball fans of all ages impacted Randazzo’s development as a broadcaster and cultivation of a distinctive style.

“His enthusiasm and passion for calling the games was really infectious to me,” Randazzo said of Caray, “so I always wanted to get involved with it and followed different sportscasters that I liked.”

After initially attending Arizona State University to study broadcast communications, Randazzo transferred schools and attended North Central College, a school considerably smaller in size with a robust broadcast program. As a member of the school’s radio station, WONC, Randazzo immediately networked with the sports director at the time who gave him opportunities to call various types of sporting events and eventually ascended to the role himself. His passion and drive to succeed were so great that he was willing to do whatever it took to get him on the air.

“There were just a lot of opportunities there to call football, basketball, and baseball [where I could] really start to hone my skills and the craft and really just kind of be behind the microphone and call those sporting events,” Randazzo said. “It was a lot of fun for me to go to a school that allowed me to be able to do that.”

Throughout his time in college and in conversations with other people within the industry, Randazzo was often told about the highly competitive and cutthroat nature of sports media that has dissuaded some incipient talents from working in it. Unfazed and confident in his own abilities, Randazzo landed a sports internship with WGN Radio in Chicago following his first year in college and was surprised to enter into an environment centered around the principles of congeniality and collaboration.

“It was still the number one station in Chicago – it was the king,” Randazzo said. “…I just remember everyone being really happy there…. It just seems like everybody was on cloud nine just to be there. I thought that was a really cool environment they had at the time there.”

Over his time interning at the station, Randazzo felt immersed as a member of the team and had several mentors including Mike Ferrin and Andy Masur, the latter of whom still works for WGN as a play-by-play announcer and anchor along with serving as a columnist for Barrett Sports Media. As Randazzo’s internship concluded, the people at the station helped him land a job at the Illinois Radio Network as a morning sports anchor and reporter at 21 years of age.

“Everybody just really looked out for me,” Randazzo said of the team at WGN. “I think they thought I was a good intern and they listened to my tapes and they thought my tapes were good. They thought I had a future in the business and they really taught me as much as they could and they set me up on a good path.”

Two years later, Randazzo attended the job fair at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, which in 2007, were taking place at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Equipped with various demo tapes and résumés with the hope of landing a broadcasting job, Randazzo interacted with team representatives and received several offers to work as the number two broadcaster in the booth for minor league teams.

Unexpectedly, Randazzo also received two offers to be the lead play-by-play announcer for minor league baseball from both the Hickory Crawdads (High-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates) and Mobile BayBears (Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks). Randazzo took the job in Mobile, and also worked as the team’s director of media relations meaning he was working as both a broadcaster and public relations practitioner simultaneously.

“It was an unbelievable learning experience,” Randazzo said. “I was doing all the games by myself and traveling with the team. I didn’t know what I was doing at all [but] it was a great chance to spend three hours a night broadcasting these games and just learning how to do it.”

Randazzo returned home to Chicago after three seasons with the Mobile BayBears to join 670 The Score as an update anchor and part-time talk show host. Once baseball season came around, he joined the Kane County Cougars, then-Single A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, to work both in sales and as the play-by-play announcer. The experience of working in a major market while continuing to refine his skills as a broadcaster was a unique blend that set Randazzo up for sustained future success.

“When I went to Chicago, it was really a big deal to get on 670 The Score and to do updates,” Randazzo said. “It was really my first taste of being known in a market [and…] it was great to have that experience to really work in front of an audience for the first time.”

Aside from those roles, Randazzo also joined the Big Ten Network as a play-by-play announcer for its sporting events and signed on with ESPN to announce games on ESPN3 and ESPNU, which over the years have included basketball, college football, and ultimate frisbee. Setting himself up as a professional with stellar versatility and adaptability, he felt he would be able to easily fit with the New York Mets broadcasting team once a position opened prior to the 2015 season to host pregame and postgame coverage on the radio.

“They wanted someone who could host, do interviews, and also do play-by-play,” Randazzo recalled of the job opening. “They were kind of looking for a jack-of-all-trades and I was one. I really put myself in a position to do everything so that if something like that opened, I could slide over and do it.”

In his first year with the New York Mets Radio Network with its flagship station, WOR-AM at the time, the Mets advanced to the World Series, meaning that Randazzo was able to provide coverage deep into the postseason. It was a special opportunity for him in his first year and one he hopes to have again as the team looks to make a championship run this year.

At the same time though, being able to be around professional broadcasters including Howie Rose, Josh Lewin, and Gary Cohen allowed Randazzo to receive advice and work on improving his skills and get them to the point where he could eventually earn a promotion as a play-by-play announcer.

“I got better at play-by-play and I think I grew so much as a play-by-play announcer in that role, even compared to seven years doing Minor League Baseball, because the stakes were different,” Randazzo said. “The highlights were put out into the universe [and] you heard your calls back on different networks or different stations. I felt like I had to step up my game and I did to a point that when Josh [Lewin] left, I was really kind of right there; I was the only target really to replace him.”

Randazzo was promoted to work alongside Howie Rose on the radio broadcasts, a distinctive pairing of two professional broadcasters bereft of a former athlete doing color commentary such as Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling, who work with Cohen on the Mets’ television broadcasts on SNY. Yet his promotion, which coincided with the transition to WCBS Newsradio 880 as its flagship station, was conditional in that he was signed to a one-year contract, meaning that he had to prove that he belonged.

“I thought there might be some pressure but there really wasn’t,” Randazzo said regarding his first year in the booth. “I was getting used to the role and developing chemistry with Howie…. I never really thought about it; I thought things would take care of themselves if I did what I was capable of, and that’s all I focused on.”

Howie Rose, an accomplished broadcaster with experience calling games in multiple sports on both television and radio, has served as a mentor to Randazzo who seeks to continue to grow in the industry. Rose was mentored by his childhood idol, Marv Albert, and enjoys passing it forward by mentoring younger broadcasters himself and serving as a resource throughout their journeys in sports media. For Randazzo, having the opportunity to work with Rose on a regular basis and be the recipient of his broadcasting expertise has significantly catalyzed his growth as an announcer, giving him the skills for success no matter the situation.

“When you’re a young announcer in his orbit and you reach out to him for something, he is there right away,” Randazzo said. “He’s there to give good, thoughtful advice every single time. If there was a call I wasn’t sure about or if there was an opportunity coming up that I wanted to get and wanted some thoughts from him on how to get it, he’s always right there to tell you something that maybe you haven’t thought of or an angle you could look at differently.”

Aspiring broadcasters in sports media have more resources than ever before to utilize in their quest to build careers with the advent of social media and advancement of technology. Whether it is in doing play-by-play, reporting or hosting, the ability for a multitude of voices to be disseminated in the marketplace is there and the chances to receive feedback are plentiful. Nonetheless, an essential part of working in media of any kind is networking and fostering professional relationships with those inside and outside of the industry to enhance one’s work and career trajectory.

Doing that networking while risking the development of your own skills and building a broadcast portfolio though is an issue, according to Randazzo, with many young broadcasters and a focus he cautions taking.

“You have to network but you also have to get good at what you do,” he said. “I think spending the time to get better and make yourself a fundamentally good broadcaster; I think that will be much more helpful as you go along to pair it with the networking instead of just networking and maybe not paying as much attention to what you’re doing.”

Akin to Rose, Randazzo is no stranger to the big moment. In his first season working directly with Rose, it was Randazzo on the call when Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso broke the Mets’ single-season home run record. Following his call of the home run, he went to Rose for feedback on how to better approach a big moment with the hope of being able to improve on it if another opportunity arose.

“I asked Howie what he thought,” Randazzo said. “He said: ‘Next time you get a call like that, don’t worry as much about the historical stuff; focus on the reaction on the field.’”

One month later, the Mets were playing a Saturday night matchup against the Atlanta Braves with Alonso on the cusp of breaking the major league single-season rookie home run record set two years earlier by New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. The game was being televised nationally by Fox, meaning that it would be Don Orsillo delivering the call rather than SNY’s Cohen if the record was broken that night.

On the radio though, Rose and Randazzo were the ones occupying the radio booth at Citi Field – named after former Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy – and when Alonso stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the third inning, he delivered a blast to right-center field.

“When Alonso hit his 53rd home run, I gave the call and then focused on Alonso rounding the bases and his approach towards his teammates,” Randazzo explained. “It’s radio; you’ve got to do a little more describing. I focused on the things that Howie said to focus on more. [I thought] it was a more satisfying call… [and] I was able to fill in the historical component of it after that.”

Fast-forward to this past Friday. Randazzo was in Los Angeles, Calif. at Dodger Stadium on the call for an Apple TV+ exclusive broadcast of the St. Louis Cardinals’ matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He did not start working with Apple TV+ until there was a last-minute opening to do play-by-play for its broadcast of a Mets game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., which turned out to be an exciting win for the Amazins’.

“They liked what they heard and they asked me if there were some possibilities to do a few games later in the season because they felt there would be a couple more openings as we went along,” Randazzo said. “One of them was Cardinals-Dodgers and I had that circled on my calendar.”

Apple TV+’s coverage of Major League Baseball has received its fair share of criticism in its inaugural season as the media landscape gradually shifts towards digitally-based streaming platforms and OTT providers for television consumption. With broadcast crews that only work together once per week, it can be difficult to immediately foster chemistry and appeal to national audiences, especially when part of that audience is staunch in their ways of watching games on network television and steadfast to those commentators. This seismic shift in media consumption and programming is necessary though for content providers to continue to reach various demographics and encourage widespread contribution to content creation.

“I think people will eventually embrace those kinds of games, and I think that for baseball especially, they need to be on the ground floor of this stuff,” Randazzo stated. “They’re the ones who feel like they’re losing an audience to some degree or have lost part of their audience and they try to make sure they’re gaining younger viewers. Putting these games on Apple TV+ I think is smart [and] I think that it will help them grow.”

Randazzo, who has had previous experience announcing games on television for Fox and as a backup to Cohen on SNY, knows the medium differs in terms of the loquaciousness in diction and evocation of imagery in the vernacular of a play-by-play announcer. His versatility and thorough understanding of working in different areas of media paid off on Friday when he delivered the national call of Albert Pujols’ 700th career home run. His preparation for the moment was minimal; he once again spoke to his radio partner Rose and reviewed key points to make in the midst of the moment.

“I think saying the number in the live call as soon as you can is an important thing to do,” Randazzo said. “I wanted to say that Albert had joined the 700 home run club, which I did. Other than that, I didn’t want to prepare too much for anything; I didn’t want to be ready to say something because you never know what kind of home run that it’s going to be.”

Pujols had not hit a home run in a week entering Friday’s matchup, but hit a majestic blast for number 699 early in the game, meaning that the possibility of his hitting the milestone home run became all the more probable. Randazzo and the Apple TV+ broadcast team had prepared for just the scenario in their production meeting earlier in the day, strategizing on how they would approach his forthcoming at-bats and overall game presentation with a potential marker in baseball history looming large.

“My thoughts were to call it quickly; just call the pitches during the at-bat [and] not really even say much during the at-bat,” Randazzo said. “Call the pitches and then cap the home run call and then get out of the way and let the pictures tell the story…. I think that was really important to let the moment and the pictures and the crowd and Albert’s reaction carry the broadcast.”

Randazzo received much praise for his call on social media and from other announcers and colleagues across the industry. For him, the moment was indicative of something that was “beyond a dream come true”; however, he believes Cardinals play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin deserved to be on the microphone instead of him. It was the subject of conversation regarding the other Apple TV+ broadcast that night as the Yankees faced the Boston Red Sox with Aaron Judge one home run away from tying the American League single-season record previously set by Roger Maris in 1961.

Stephen Nelson, a broadcaster for Apple TV+ and host on MLB Network, was in the broadcast booth that night joined by Katie Nolan and Hunter Pence, and he would be the one recording history rather than Yankees play-by-play announcer Michael Kay if it happened. It was reported by The New York Post that the Yankees organization was negotiating with Apple TV+ to air the game on YES Network featuring their broadcast team, but the deal never went through and was criticized by Kay who felt Nelson deserved the moment if it happened during the game on Friday.

“When you’re making that leap to television, you know it comes with sacrifices; you know it going in,” Randazzo said. “If your team is good, you’re going to lose games because they’ll be on national TV. If they get to the playoffs, you’re not doing them because the playoffs are on national TV…. It’s a sacrifice that I think you make for all the good things that come with doing TV.”

Making calls at moments of profound meaning and impact are what most broadcasters aspire to do throughout their careers, and Randazzo hopes Friday night was the continuation of an evolving career containing many more chances to narrate those stories to viewers worldwide. Perhaps Randazzo will be in the booth for more special moments as the Mets try to embark on a postseason run that they hope ends in the organization’s first World Series title since 1986.

“I want to be a part of telling the stories every day to a fanbase that cares [and] that is hoping that their team wins and is there with you every day,” Randazzo said. “On the other hand, I’d like to do more games on a national scale and be a part of big moments and deliver calls like the one I did on Friday…. I hope I get a chance to call games at the highest level. Whatever that looks like and whatever network that is, I hope I get those opportunities.”

BSM Writers

Twitter Blue Debacle Showcases Company’s Ongoing Concerns

“If you start giving away blue badges to everyone, then it has no value. It’s the equivalent of a currency. if you start printing more, it gets devalued. Same for verified badges.”

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For years, a blue “verified” check mark on Twitter has long been considered a symbol of status. Anyone — entrepreneurs, journalists, business executives — could potentially end up in the same exclusive space as celebrities like Taylor Swift and Tom Brady. 

Perhaps the one quality that the blue check mark represented that had been overlooked was its authenticity stamp. The badge has been used all across social media platforms to signal an account’s authenticity — a verification that recently has proven to be of significant importance to not only people, but brands as well. 

Shortly after Elon Musk’s $44-billion takeover of Twitter, the billionaire swiftly made his mark which, among many things, included a democratization of the app’s verification system. With a $7.99 monthly subscription to Twitter Blue, which launched last year as the company’s first subscription service, users could now possess what had long evaded them: a blue check mark.

“Theoretically, this would have made it easier for some brands or influencers to get verified than it has been in the past,” Galen Clavio, director of undergraduate studies for the Media School at Indiana University Bloomington, wrote in an email about the possible benefits of Twitter Blue’s verification accessibility. 

“From an algorithmic perspective, that would have made sense to pursue under the Twitter setup that everyone had come to know,” he added. 

While perhaps not a surprise to Musk or Twitter executives, everyday people were paying for the newly revamped Twitter Blue to boast their social media clout. Whether Twitter leadership knew it or not, though, those same subscribers took the opportunity to verify themselves using the alias of actual people. 

Very quickly, Twitter Blue created an abundance of impersonators masquerading as verified celebrities and companies. Misinformation was hard to identify, making it tougher to find information in an era already plagued by discrepancies between fact and fiction.

“If you start giving away blue badges to everyone, then it has no value,” Alessandro Bogliari, CEO of the Influencer Marketing Factory, an influencer marketing agency, wrote in an email. “It’s the equivalent of a currency. if you start printing more, it gets devalued. Same for verified badges.”

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A screenshot of a fake account created to appear as pharmaceutical company Eli Lily shows the dangers of allowing anyone to be verified on Twitter.

Shortly after the Twitter Blue re-launch, a tweet was sent from an account using the same logo and name of Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company. It read, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.” The tweet seemed legit — the branding seemed real, as did the company name. It also boasted a blue-check mark, so it had to be true. 

As just one of many misrepresentations that succeeded it, the Eli Lilly tweet was a fake. Even when Twitter finally removed the tweet, more than six hours later, the fraudulent account had more than 1,500 retweets and 10,000 likes. The pharma company’s stock also plummeted $368 a share to $346 a share, reportedly erasing billions in market cap, according to several economic reports. Eli Lilly’s stock price currently sits at roughly $352 as of Nov. 16th.

“I can only imagine the damage a tweet like that made for the company, its employees, stakeholders, shareholders and anyone really related to their offering,” Bogliari said. “Some were able to tweet from their official accounts and restore it a bit. Others, I imagine, used PR and reputation firms to get to a solution fast. But it’s not that easy for all of them… for others it could be potentially a damage so big they won’t be able to survive, not just in terms of market cap/stock value, but also in terms of reputation and customers love.”

The verification mishap affected not only Eli Lilly’s reputability and profitability, but could also spell trouble for Twitter’s revenue stream.

“It’s making it really easy for advertisers to say: ‘You know what, I don’t need to be here anymore,’ and walk away,” Jenna Golden, who previously ran Twitter’s political and advocacy ad sales team, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “People are not just providing inaccurate information but damaging information, with the ability to look legitimate. That is just not a stable place for a brand to invest.”

Sports personalities were also hurt by the preponderance of fake users across Twitter. Basketball star LeBron James trended on the platform after a tweet from someone with the user handle, @KINGJamez, claimed that the 37-year-old was leaving the Los Angeles Lakers to join his former club, the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Adam Schefter, a notable football analyst at ESPN, also trended after someone with the user handle, @AdamSchefterNOT, revealed that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels lost his job. While the user handle clearly indicates that it didn’t come from the actual Adam Schefter, the fact that it was quote tweeted could have led many people to assume it was really Schefter, since many were unlikely to take the time to click and confirm the tweet — and tweeter’s — validity.

These are just a few specific instances where, while a more open verification system could have helped Twitter users, the idea did not lead to a successful implementation.

“Being verified would have given those brands more credibility and be marked as the official brand — impersonation happens also for smaller brands and not just for Fortune 100 companies,” Bogliari said. “So the idea was theoretically good — I would say only for brands and certain individuals and not just for everyone… documents and proof (are still) required but the execution showed us all the flaws.”

Verification issues aside, Twitter faces an uncertain future under Musk’s leadership. As much as 50% of the company’s 7,500 employees predating Musk’s ownership have been laid off under his tenure. The billionaire also revealed that Twitter’s cost-cutting methods are a result of the company losing upwards of $4 million daily. He’s even announced potential bankruptcy if Twitter doesn’t correct its financial woes. 

“I see the Twitter Blue controversy as one of several items that are likely to just make brands and creators look elsewhere in the social media landscape,” Clavio said. “Twitter offers minimal exposure for creators and brands to the public when compared to other networks, and a much higher risk of doing or saying something that can cause a crisis.”

As more people grow skeptical about Twitter, alternatives have started to emerge. More people are visiting platforms like Discord, Reddit, even Tumblr. Others are joining Mastodon, a free and open-source microblogging site that has drawn comparisons to Twitter for its timeline of short updates arranged chronologically rather than algorithmically. 

As recently as Nov. 12th, Mastodon boasted approximately 6.63 million accounts, a 17% increase from the 5.65 million users it had on October 28th. 

From internal struggles to increased competition, Musk inherited a Twitter that, for better or worse, might be on a continual spiral to irrelevancy. 

“It’s clear that the Twitter platform is pretty fractured right now,” Clavio said. “At the end of it all, I think a lot of brands will just opt out of having a presence on Twitter, paid or otherwise. It’s just not big enough of a platform to justify the potential negative exposure.”

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BSM Writers

Christian Arcand Returns To Where It All Started At WEEI

“Going to WEEI was a no-brainer for me. I started there. That’s my radio home.”

Derek Futterman

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Since the turn of the century alone, Boston has hosted 12 ticker tape parades to celebrate championships. Christian Arcand has had the opportunity to experience that success firsthand, initially as a diehard Boston sports fan and then as a voice of the fan. Now as he begins his second stint at the WEEI — this time as a producer and weekend host — he aims to ensure a seamless transition for both the Merloni, Fauria, & Mego afternoon drive show and his career in sports media.

Returning to a station where his Boston radio career began, Arcand enters the same building where he started his last sports media job with 98.5 The Sports Hub. Once the station moved to Dorchester, Massachusetts, WEEI moved its studios to the location – and it is where its shows are broadcast from today. Arcand’s time at 98.5 The Sports Hub ended in being laid off last month; despite that though, going to work evokes feelings of nostalgia and déjà vu.

“Walking back in there for the first time was pretty wild,” Arcand said, who returned to WEEI earlier this week. “I was laid off from The Sports Hub and it was a big surprise to me and to, I think, everybody that [it] happened.”

After graduating from the University of Colorado, Arcand moved back east to work for WDIS AM 1170 in Norfolk, Massachusetts, which he says isn’t really an option for those entering the business today.

“These little stations are all gone,” Arcand expressed. “Those were pipelines to places like WEEI and WFAN and other places in the area. You’d work in Connecticut or you’d work in Rhode Island or whatever and these places all just disappeared.”

Just over a year later, Arcand made the move to ESPN New Hampshire, initially co-hosting Christian and King with Tom King, a sportswriter for the Nashua Telegraph covering the New England Patriots, Boston Bruins and other college and high school sports. The show was broadcast during the midday time slot from noon to 3 p.m. and sought to entertain the audience while informing them about the day’s action.

After nearly four years on the air, Arcand transitioned to work with Pete Sheppard, a former member of the heralded WEEI program The Big Show hosted by Glenn Ordway, on Arcand and Sheppard. Additionally, Arcand was named as the show’s executive producer, meaning that while the show was going on, he was often focused on many different tasks. Once Christian and King was brought back, he continued working in this dual role before the show ended in January 2017, six months before the format flipped from ESPN-branded sports to oldies.

“It was a lot – cutting up all the audio you want to play, then playing it during the show, then cutting the commercial [and] trying to answer the phone,” Arcand said. “It was this whole thing, but I really loved it; we had a lot of fun up there.”

While Arcand currently works at WEEI, it is his second stint with the station – and this time, he is working in a brand new role. He initially joined the station in 2013 as a sports anchor and co-host of the evening program Planet Mikey featuring Mike Adams. Shortly thereafter, he helped launch WEEI Late Night, airing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. where he became known in the Boston marketplace going on the air after the conclusion of Boston Red Sox live game broadcasts.

Unlike his time in New Hampshire though, he was solely hosting and not producing – requiring him to adjust to not having as much oversight regarding the inner workings of each program.

“I’m not a control freak, but I remember [thinking], ‘Wow, this is different. I’m not running the board anymore. I’m not playing my own stuff,’” Arcand said. “….That was kind of jarring at first [but] I ended up working with a lot of great producers and I still am today.”

Mike Thomas, who currently serves as the senior vice president and market manager for Audacy Boston, was integral in building 98.5 The Sports Hub from its launch in August 2009. He was responsible for signing Arcand away from WEEI to join the brand as co-host of The Adam Jones Show airing weeknights.

Working alongside show producer Jeremy Conley, he gained an in-depth understanding of what it entails to produce a sports talk radio show in a major market, helping broaden his knowledge of the craft and position him for his current job with WEEI.

“I really had a good opportunity to learn from some of, I think, the best [producers] in the business,” Arcand said. “….It’s cool being a fan of these guys and then getting to work with them and learn from them and all that other stuff…. It’s really a job that requires a lot, and the guys who are really good at it, I think, are just top-notch.”

Over the last several years, 98.5 The Sports Hub has earned massive wins across the Nielsen ratings, recently finishing number one in the summer book across all dayparts in the men 25-54 demographic. Days later though, the station’s parent company Beasley Media Group made budget cuts, resulting in Arcand and Toucher and Rich producer Mike Lockhart’s employment being terminated.

While Lockhart has since been re-hired after Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb lobbied for the decision to be reversed, Arcand was in the job market quickly mulling over his future in the industry. In fact, it was reported that Arcand was on the verge of signing a three-year contract that would have kept him at the station before the termination of his employment.

“I was so shocked that it had happened and it was sort of hard to deal with it,” Arcand expressed. “Then I was angry about it and then I sort of channeled that into, ‘Okay, what am I going to do next here?’ You start thinking, ‘Is this it? Is this the end of the career? Are you going to even continue doing this?,’ and that was a thought I had a couple of times.”

Arcand’s abrupt departure from 98.5 The Sports Hub and Boston sports radio was short-lived though, as there was a substantial market for his services. In the end, he communicated with Thomas and WEEI operations manager Ken Laird, utilizing industry connections and his own versatility to return to the place where he began working professionally in Boston.

“Seeing that WEEI was in the market for someone on-air and to produce [the afternoon] show, I was right there and willing to try out something I hadn’t done in a while,” Arcand said. “It was a no-brainer, really. Going to WEEI was a no-brainer for me. I started there. That’s my radio home.”

As someone once again “new” to the station, Arcand is looking to foster a working chemistry with afternoon hosts Lou Merloni, Christian Fauria and Meghan Ottolini, along with radio producer Ryan Garvin. Arcand enters the role replacing show executive producer Tyler Devitte who left the station to pursue other opportunities and feels that the composition of the show is unique in the sports radio landscape. In short, it gives them an opportunity to further differentiate themselves from other afternoon programs across multiple platforms of dissemination.

“It’s an interesting show because Lou and Christian are both ex-jocks,” Arcand explained. “It’s rare that you sort of see shows where it’s just two guys like that and it was just them for a while but then with [Glenn] Ordway and then they brought in Meghan [Ottolini].”

Arcand had been listening to the afternoon drive program long before the offer to return to WEEI was made to him and now looks to offer his insight and expertise when necessary. He does not want to enter his new role with insolence or by coming off as dogmatic when expressing his opinions about the show.

“I’m sort of taking the approach of observing more than maybe I would in a couple of weeks from now or something,” he said. “I want to sort of make sure I get the rhythm of the show and the clock and everything like that. Those are all things that you have to be more aware of when you’re behind the glass as opposed to on the air.”

Arcand will be hosting a solo radio program on WEEI every Saturday afternoon, reminiscent of Sunday Service, a weekend show he used to host on 98.5 The Sports Hub. He is excited to be able to return to the Boston airwaves and connect with his audience once a week to bring them the latest sports news and entertaining talk – all while bringing his trademarks of sarcasm and congeniality.

“I’m really comfortable just sitting in the room, cracking the mic and talking with the callers or putting out my points and getting to certain things that I want to touch on,” Arcand said. “….I think my style is one that you just sort of tune in and you’re hanging out with me for a couple of hours.”

Ultimately, Christian Arcand has made the move back to what he refers to as his radio home. As he concludes his first week back at WEEI, he is focused on producing the afternoon drive program and complimenting that with his solo show on Saturdays, the first of which will take place tomorrow from noon to 2 p.m. Through all of his endeavors, he will talk about Boston sports with his listeners no matter the season, giving them a platform to engage with the hyperlocal coverage.

“Being back at WEEI is something that I’m really happy about,” Arcand expressed. “I was excited to get started, [and] now that I’m there, I’m excited to see where we can take this show.”

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What Twitter Alternatives Exist For Sports Media?

Sports Twitter is a major vehicle that has helped establish the platform’s reputation for accurate and authentic up to the minute information.

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The reality of Twitter dying as a platform was looked at as a bit hyperbolic when Elon Musk first took over the social media network. Now though, it is slowly coming closer and closer to potential reality.

Musk has been on a quest to salvage Twitter’s economic stability but has done so in an irrational and unplanned fashion. The actions he has taken include publicly criticizing his employees and firing them after pushback and firing essential engineers who literally keep the platform from crashing. Developers have even warned Twitter users with two factor authentication to either remove the feature or to remain logged in because the function that handles that process no longer works.

Sports Twitter is a major vehicle that has helped establish the platform’s reputation for accurate and authentic up to the minute information. It has helped establish the careers of insiders such as Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania and Adam Schefter. In case Twitter does actually come to an end, what should reporters who rely so much on the platform do?

Establish an email list through Substack

With permission from their employers, I would suggest starting a newsletter list that they would be able to carry with them in case they decided to leave their employer at some point (all three of the mentioned journos recently signed extensions). Posting on Substack through a mobile device is just as easy as posting on Twitter and it gives users an almost similar experience to what they had with using Twitter in the sense that they could have their email notifications turned on and they could interact with other basketball lovers through Substack’s comments section.

Create a live blog that always exists on your employer’s page

A running page of information that was sponsored and existed on ESPN or Stadium’s page would make digestible, quick hit commentary monetizable for the networks that employ Shams, Woj and Schefter. It brings people back to their employer’s page and establishes even more of a bond between consumers and apps/websites – a connection that has been taken away from many due to the existence of social media.

Establish a Mastodon server

With over a million users, Mastodon has become the closest thing to a Twitter alternative that’s available. Even though signing up for an account is a little confusing and the ability to search for unique users and takes isn’t fully established in comparison to Twitter – Mastodon has a similar look and feel to Elon’s platform and it gives employers more control over who is and isn’t interacting with their employees and what they are able to see. It would make it easier on ESPN or Stadium’s part to constantly promote links to their pages for viewers and readers to consume.

It’s the closest thing that is available to establishing your own social media network without the startup costs, hiring of engineers and figuring out tech issues. An advertising mechanism hasn’t been established yet but ESPN or Stadium could be in the forefront (because of the credibility they bring to the table) of establishing the revenue side of things alongside Mastodon.

Stick it out with Elon

NBC Universal’s advertising head recently told AdAge that NBC is sticking it out with Twitter. Twitter’s ad program has faced setback since Elon’s takeover but it is still much more established and streamlined that anything else available out there that is similar to Twitter. She also said that Twitter is the biggest host of NBC content on the internet (besides NBC owned platforms of course).

If a major company like NBC is standing with Twitter and if most major advertisers haven’t left yet, maybe sports reporters should also stay put for now. Twitter is not a startup. Despite the disarray we read about everyday, it’s still an established company that is up and running. We are all using Twitter itself to talk smack about its mismanagement but the reality is we are all still using Twitter. Even those who have gone away from the platform still come back more often than not to check in on what is happening directly on Twitter.

Maybe the grass will eventually be greener on the other side and Elon will have Twitter on more established ground. Maybe Elon files for bankruptcy and sells it to bankers who create an environment of stability for the company.

The reality is there is no other platform as good at real time reaction than Twitter so maybe sticking it out and keeping status quo is the best thing for everyone to do. See you later on Twitter (follow me @JMKTVShow).

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