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Willie Colon Fits Into Media Roles He Never Expected

“Evan and Babs already had a fanbase. They were already established in the radio world. People know them. A lot of celebrities and entertainers are well aware of who they are.”

Derek Futterman



The careers of professional athletes are finite in that there is only so much the human body can withstand until time eventually expires. Some athletes are given the fortune of being able to choose when to retire, but for others, injuries and other internal and external factors often play a hand in the decision. For former offensive guard Willie Colon, his career ended after his age-32 season due to a sprained MCL that landed him on injured reserve, limiting him to just six games.

Before suffering the knee injury as a member of the New York Jets, Colon was playing for the team that drafted him – the Pittsburgh Steelers – where he put together productive seasons but battled through other ailments. Those included a torn Achilles prior to the start of the 2010 season and a torn triceps muscle in his first game returning to action in 2011, meaning he only played one game in two years.

Colon, who was born in the Bronx, N.Y., experienced various highs and lows throughout his decade-long stint in the National Football League. Broadcasting was not initially in the playbook for Colon, as he had never collected experience in the field nor did he think he would be forced to officially hang up his spikes in 2017.

As an interdisciplinary studies major at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Colon split his time between attending classes and playing on a scholarship on the school’s now-defunct football team. During his final injury as a professional athlete, Colon contributed to local sports coverage on SportsNet New York, a regional sports network in the New York metropolitan area. While he was not earnest about working in sports media, his wife persuaded him to take broadcasting more seriously once retirement became a legitimate possibility.

“I was still very bitter about how I left the field. If it was up to me, I’d still be playing but my knees had other plans if you will so I was forced to walk away from the game,” Colon said. “Nevertheless, I was meeting a lot of important and successful people in media who… kind of put that battery in my back and it was like ‘Hey man, if you just start working at it, start doing things, be willing to do spots, be willing to dive into the business, you can make a career out of this.’”

Colon got his start in the business in San Francisco, when he and Julie Stewart-Binks auditioned to appear on Fox Sports’ network programming alongside Jason Whitlock. Neither Colon nor Stewart-Binks received the role and both returned to New York City to progress in their careers and pursue other opportunities. During his early days in sports media, Colon appeared on 98.7 ESPN New York, a traditional sports talk radio station, to discuss football and other sports throughout the day, and also did live hits for other west coast stations.

After some time had passed, Stewart-Binks called Colon to tell him about her new job with Barstool Sports, a digital media company with content spanning both the worlds of sports and entertainment, and persuaded him to audition to join. While he had no prior knowledge about the company, he felt joining a digital media platform would give him the ability to be more authentic with his audience.

“I had never heard of it,” Colon said. “For me, it just sounded like an opportunity for me to kind of be more ‘me,’ because when you’re doing ESPN, you’re doing more traditional radio [and are] kind of boxed in. Yeah, you can have a personality, but there’s only so far you can go with your commentary or what you want to say or how you want to go about things.”

Following an audition that took place with Stewart-Binks and Francis Ellis, Barstool Sports President Dave Portnoy extended an offer to Colon to join the brand. By mid-January 2018, Colon was officially added on a brand new morning show called Barstool Breakfast, airing across Barstool Media’s broadcast platforms and SiriusXM Channel 85.

Colon took a leap of faith joining Barstool Sports and was a fixture on the morning show during the three years it was on the air, along with show producer Kevin Rafferty (“Wayne Jetski”) and newer co-hosts Patrick McAuliffe (“Pat”), Michael McCarthy (“Large”) and Peterson Zaha (“Zah”). In fact, signing on with the brand was something that people around him were not completely sold on, questioning its premise and the overall prudence of the decision.

“I just jumped at the chance,” Colon said. “It came with a warning label. A lot of people who knew Barstool and how Barstool went about its business were telling me to approach with caution…. We had a really, really good nucleus of fun, in-your-face [and] opinionated [talk] – and it was just great all-around and I loved it.”

While he was a member of Barstool Sports, Colon and McCarthy shared a close relationship based on the similarities in their backgrounds. They are both natives of New York City born in the Bronx who went to Catholic high schools and consider family among their core values. The chemistry Colon was able to kindle with McCarthy on the air enhanced the sound of the show and made it more relatable and casual for listeners, especially those aligned with the company’s target demographics.

“One of the greatest compliments I got working with ‘Large’ on Barstool Breakfast was ‘Every time we listen to you guys, we feel like we’re tapping into a conversation between two best friends,’” Colon said, “and it felt like that, honestly. We had our ups and downs, and we went through things together, but I honestly believe we had each other’s backs.”

Joining Barstool was indicative of a liberating feeling for Colon in terms of topic selection, as he escaped to a form of aural content creation and dissemination free of Federal Communications Commission regulation. During the time he was on traditional radio, Colon was cognizant of the effects his words could have on the station and made sure to carefully express his opinions on certain topics.

“You can have a personality, you just can’t piss off the sponsors,” Colon expressed. “There’s people who are paying the bills. Disney… owns ESPN, so you have to walk a fine line. They want you to cut onions, but they also don’t want you to go to the point where you’ll jeopardize any sponsorships or say anything that’s really going to stir up some stuff.”

While with Barstool Sports, Colon participated in a variety of podcasts, some of which were focused on football and sports while others were more centered around commentary centered around larger cultural issues. He left the company in 2021 and eventually signed on with SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio to join a bonafide duo in Evan Cohen and Mike Babchik on Morning Men. Since his start on the show in September 2021, Colon has sought to seamlessly slot in as a co-host without disrupting the previous chemistry between veterans Cohen and Babchik.

“Evan and Babs already had a fanbase. They were already established in the radio world. People know them. A lot of celebrities and entertainers are well aware of who they are,” Colon said. “Me getting the nod to be a part of their show, I was only apprehensive because it wasn’t a matter of ‘How do I fit in?’, it was a matter of ‘Do I fit in to where I don’t want to hold these guys back?’ because they had so many things going on for themselves.”

Cohen is a traditionalist who is more erudite in nature with profound sports knowledge and the ability to rapidly perform calculated analyses to formulate a cohesive opinion. Conversely, Babchik is, according to Colon, a “sex, drums, rock ‘n’ roll” type of personality with a great sense of humor and high level of showmanship he brings to the air each show. Finding the medium to which Colon could slot in and avoid disrupting the engrossing divergence imbued within the show was essential for his assimilation and the program’s sustained success.

“If anything, my mindset was like, ‘Alright, I’m the jock/dude. I’m a man’s man, I’m a guy’s guy,’” Colon said. “That’s pretty much my angle. I’m obviously a former Super Bowl champion [who] played for two great organizations, but I’m a man’s man… and I’m a family man. I have two children now and I’m married. I’m the all-American male, if you will, on top of being a guy who had a hell of a career in the NFL.”

A common criticism of some former athletes beginning careers in sports media is in their inability to relate to the average fan, sometimes disclosing esoteric knowledge not understandable to consumers. Having played professional sports and expressing one’s opinions on such topics usually heightens the credibility of a program or media outlet though, and it is an asset Colon brought to Morning Men that was previously absent from the show.

The challenge for a preponderance of newer sports media personalities is in being able to relate to an audience composed of a broad range of listeners with varying levels of investment in the program. For Colon though, playing professional sports has given him the confidence and determination to adapt under pressure in the number one media market in the country.

“I think what sports has done for me is [being able] to be fearless in the moment,” he said. “When you’re on-air and when you’re in front of the camera, there’s a big sense of vulnerability because once you open your mouth, you’re telling people who you are. I try to be conscious of that and not try to be somewhat bullish in my approach.”

One particular criticism that has come from some sectors of listeners of the show is Colon’s sporadic use of foul language. Although it bothers certain listeners, he believes that talking in this manner sometimes is the most optimal means to get his point across, something he would not be able to do if he were broadcasting on federally-regulated airwaves.

“I’ve always been told [that] people who are honest curse,” Colon explained. “They tell you exactly what it is and they tell you exactly how they feel. However, you have to be mindful that there are people who are listening to you who may have loved ones in the car and they don’t want their four-year-old to develop a curse word. If they don’t want to digest that, then they’re turning you off – so now, they’re not listening to you.”

As a former professional athlete, Colon has friends still playing in the NFL and those who are retired, along with relationships with other coaches and team personnel. In his role now though, it occasionally becomes necessary to criticize someone with whom he has a connection, and it was an aspect of the industry that initially dismayed him from pursuing a post-playing career in the industry.

Jerome Bettis, a former member of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back currently hosting an eponymously-named television show on WPXI in Pittsburgh was asked for advice by Colon on discussing situations with some players and personnel. It changed Colon’s outlook and espoused to him a new way of thinking about this type of commentary.

“One of the things [he said] that I thought was very true and trite was… ‘You never talk about the player. You talk about the situation and you talk about how you would respond in that situation or how they should have handled the situation,’” Colon said of Bettis’ advice to him. “Any time you directly talk about a player – especially when somebody’s close to you who you know is going to get back to it and they may have some hard feelings about it – you don’t want to necessarily dig at them about their character or anything about them.”

Some media programs today, whether they be in television or radio, remain focused on discussing players individually and it has led certain athletes still actively playing to strive for their own voices to be heard. In response, they have launched podcasts and other multimedia content that allows them to rewrite the narratives being propagated about them, whether they are true or false. This “new media” movement, especially popularized among athletes within the National Basketball Association, gives fans primary sources regarding certain information and demonstrates the revolution technology and frequent intersociality has instantiated among consumers.

“Now [there are] a lot of programs [that] kind of want you to say, ‘Hey Player A, this is how I directly feel about them.’ You have to be careful or you can just be bold,” Colon articulated. “….It’s all about what you’re comfortable with at the end of the day. I try to do both – I have no problems talking about a player individually. However, I understand that sometimes it’s more about the situation and context that has to be explained rather than who he is as a person.”

Colon had a positive relationship with the media throughout his NFL career, understanding their job and his own role in supplying them answers. Now being on the other side of the microphone, he knows of the difficulties professional athletes face when being faced with questions, some of which they are hesitant to answer. Yet just because the media may be undertaking a task with which one may not be comfortable, it does not mean they should behave towards them in an adverse way.

“I tried to tell a lot of young ball players that you shouldn’t treat the media like the enemy,” Colon said. “If anything, when you treat anyone like the enemy, you give them the power. I feel especially in the New York market even with my own team in the New York Jets, we put so much attention [on] what the media is going to say and how they’re going to react to certain things that happened within or around the building or even on the field.”

Nonetheless, there are occasions where interactions with the media can have the opposite effect they are intended to by the players, making the unintentional creation of embellished and superficial headlines all the more feasible. Colon was aware of the consequences his words could have on him and his team during his playing days and avoided falling into those traps. Instead, he opted to focus more on his play on the field, as he thought if it was exceeding expectations, there would be little if any negative commentary towards him overall.

“Too many times young athletes, because they’re asked a question or if they’re confronted with a trap question that could become a nugget or something viral for them to say… feel like they need to say something,” Colon said. “The player always has the power because the person trying to get the report is literally asking for you to say something, and you can say ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’”

Colon’s sports media career quickly took him beyond the radio studio when he joined SportsNet New York in 2017, the regional sports network he contributed to towards the end of his playing career and official television home of the New York Jets. He is a frequent analyst appearing across studio programming such as Jets Game Plan and Jets Post Game Live, providing his insight on upcoming matchups and completed games. Radio and television, while they are both traditional platforms of content creation and subsequent dissemination, possess stark differences in terms of the workflow of hosts, analysts and on-air talent in general.

“[In] TV… you talk in sound bites. You just have to deliver the meat and potatoes of whatever you’re trying to say – and it has to be quick because there’s obviously commercial breaks and segments that cut up everything,” Colon said. “You have to know what you’re trying to say and get it out as real and clearly as possible.”

Radio is more difficult than working in television, Colon affirms, because on-air hosts rely on their voices as the primary form of entertainment they transmit to the audience. As a result, it is essential one has a certain aural presence about them in order to captivate listeners and keep them coming back for more.

“You can be as animated as you want to, but if you can’t necessarily get that out via words coming out of your mouth, then it makes for bad radio,” Colon said. “There’s a lot of tricks to the trade that you have to learn and there’s a lot of things that come with radio other than just picking up a mic and just talking about what you’re willing to talk about.”

Outside of sports media, Colon is involved in numerous other projects that are keeping him busy since he exited the playing field for the final time. For example, Colon is the owner and operator of the Bricks & Hops beer garden in the Bronx, N.Y. and also enjoys golfing and fishing in his free time.

Moreover, he hopes to become fluent in Spanish, learn a form of martial arts, lose weight and focus on being both a good father and good husband. On top of that, he wants to continue to work in both radio and television and is looking to become a gameshow host similar to Michael Strahan, who currently hosts The $100,000 Pyramid on ABC, or Steve Harvey, longtime host of the syndicated program Family Feud.

“When you talk to people about how they evolve, they can only address their bank account,” Colon said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean you changed, that means you earned a lot more money. I want to evolve.”

Former athletes entering into the world of sports media garner credibility to large sectors of the viewing audience because they have firsthand experience playing professional sports. However, that ethos can quickly diminish if they are not able to effectively express their knowledge to an audience.

Colon often thinks about Tedy Bruschi, a three-time Super Bowl champion and current NFL analyst on ESPN and how he was able to assimilate himself into the industry. Reflecting back on his first year on the air, Bruschi was not satisfied with his performance and decided to act more resolutely towards the profession so he would be able to deliver viewers the best product possible.

“He said, ‘You know what? If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this,’” Colon said of Bruschi. “He showed up with a briefcase. He showed up with a suit and tie and he took on the craft and he attacked it. That’s why he’s good on-air and that’s why he’s good at what he does right now – because he took the role seriously.”

Willie Colon is willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to make a name for himself in sports media and he has no plans of slowing down. Improving on a daily basis in both television and radio is on the front page of his playbook, and he knows that operating off of his résumé will only take him so far. Instead, it takes establishing legitimacy within the sports media industry itself to genuinely succeed in a post-playing career no matter the medium.

“If you’ve been blessed enough to wear a gold jacket, meaning the Hall of Fame, they love you in the beginning,” Colon said regarding large sports media networks. “After a while, you’ve got to understand that you… probably [have] a two to three-year period where you can ride off your name and then it becomes: ‘Okay, what else do you have?’ They’re kind of over the allure and over the mystique of you [and] you’ve got to put in the work.”

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Brian Murphy is Preparing to Write His Next Chapter at KNBR After Layoffs Ended ‘Murph and Mac’

“I don’t want to say, ‘This too shall pass,’ or, ‘Time heals all wounds,’ but you’re only as good as your next ratings book.”

Derek Futterman



Brian Murphy
Courtesy: Brian Murphy on Instagram

After the morning show signed off at KNBR last Wednesday, co-host Brian Murphy was called into a meeting with Cumulus Media market manager Larry Blumhagen. Although there had been signs of potential changes, Murphy had partnered with Paul McCaffrey for nearly 18 years and survived all of the turmoil.

A simple look around the building represented proof of an alteration, evinced by reductions in the number of stations under its roof. A once powerful news station, KGO-AM, underwent a sudden format flip last year after nearly a century on the air. A few years earlier, alternative rock station KFOG was eliminated from the company’s portfolio as well. KNBR has weathered the storms, but not without alterations to the station’s programming department.

“I would say everything has shrunk,” Murphy expressed, “and that includes sending us on road trips or to Super Bowls, etc.”

Layoffs have reemphasized the importance of the quantitative bottom line, sometimes overshadowing the qualitative utility and widespread impact derived from talent and popular shows. It is partially why the deluge of palpable support after Murphy learned in a short meeting that McCaffrey was being laid off was surprising and reinvigorating. But first came an immediate, jarring feeling surrounding the decision.

“Truthfully numb,” Murphy said regarding his sentiment after learning what happened. “I guess it’s a cliché to say that people go into shock, but to know that Paulie and I wouldn’t be together was something that didn’t register. I mean, it registered, but it didn’t register until fully; the next 48 hours is when it really started to really hit.”

McCaffrey was one of seven laid off at KNBR that day. Morning show producer Erik Engle, former programmer Lee Hammer, host F.P. Santangelo and members of the outlet’s digital department lost their jobs as well. Even the long-running KNBR Tonight evening show, which aired for decades was canceled, and replaced with CBS Sports Radio programming. While Murphy always hoped that the morning show would continue in the iteration before the end of his contract, he is now facing a new reality without his longtime colleagues.

“I think what we were disappointed by was sort of an abrupt and premature end, particularly to our partnership, which I think we’ve learned from an incredible outpouring of social media is way more than we knew,” Murphy said. “We learned our partnership for whatever reason connected to a lot of people for a long time. It’s funny they say radio is dying, but radio sure is personal and effective in many ways baked on what we’re hearing from our listeners.”

During the next two days, Murphy was off the air and contemplating his future. There were moments where he thought about leaving KNBR. However, he knew that he had a contract to fulfill and a family to support. Additionally, the person that he was set to work with on Monday and beyond – Markus Boucher – had contributed to the morning show for nearly four years, rendering familiarity and comfortability.

“There’s a chance that Markus and I could do this for a long time; we’ll see how it goes,” Murphy said. “Maybe things go great and that would be awesome, and I’m definitely leaving that door open. For whatever reason, we recover from the pain of losing my partner for almost two decades and the next chapter works out.”

In 2023, KNBR has experienced two subpar quarterly ratings books. The decrease in performance has affected all dayparts on the outlet. Murphy knows that when the San Francisco Giants do well, it generally leads to KNBR succeeding. The station did improve in its summer and fall books for 2023, but there already were repercussions being felt.

“I just know that that happened and it damaged people’s perception of the station, but I don’t think it was an accurate reflection of all of our listenership at all; I just don’t,” Murphy said. “I know for a fact that we still had a huge audience, and it’s evident by what happened after the news; just so many people reacted and people in the demo too.”

Even though he knows it does not directly relate to his role as an on-air host, Murphy believes that the local advertising market was damaged because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the city. San Francisco was one of several major metroplexes that instituted strict health and safety protocols in an effort to slow the spread of the disease, which had an effect on sports talk radio consumption. With more people working remotely and fewer people commuting to the office, the transition to digital content and audio on-demand offerings has hastened in order to realize previous levels of engagement and keep the format alive.

“KNBR is going to have to weather this storm,” Murphy said, “and there’s this feeling of, I don’t want to say, ‘This too shall pass,’ or, ‘Time heals all wounds,’ but you’re only as good as your next ratings book.”

The station recently held an all-staff meeting to discuss its direction, which has been somewhat complicated by three program directors at the outlet over the last five years. Following the departures of Jeremiah Crowe and Kevin Graham, Adam Copeland took over the responsibilities last month. The layoffs took place two weeks into his tenure, causing some people to question how involved he was in the decisions and whether or not he advocated for the morning show.

“I think these things come from beyond San Francisco,” Murphy said. “Our headquarters are in Atlanta, and I think something this big – like I said, it wasn’t just Paulie Mac; it was seven people. Paulie Mac is personal for me, but that to me says, ‘Well, that’s obviously a big budget decision that’s being made at a level far above the San Francisco program director.’”

Although Copeland has minimal previous experience as a program director, Murphy is confident that he will be able to effectively lead the station through his energy, youth and passion for the medium. Copeland grew up listening to KNBR and worked at the station over the last several years as a producer and host, eventually earning a spot in afternoons alongside Tom Tolbert. Copeland remains in that time slot, pulling double duty for the radio station. His relatability and familiarity with the craft is something that Murphy views as an advantage.

“I think people are pretty excited that we have somebody who cares as much as Adam Copeland does about KNBR,” Murphy said, “I think if there’s anything to be optimistic about in 2024 that despite this ending to 2023, it’s that we have a program director who’s all-in on the station.”

Thinking about what comes beyond the immediate future though is not within Murphy’s mindset. At the moment, he feels it is too soon to determine if there will be a potential Murph & Mac reunion on a digital platform. Instead, he is focused on being able to continue to serve San Francisco sports fans without his longtime on-air partner. Murphy realizes how fortunate he was to have someone like McCaffrey by his side and valued both his consistency and dependability on a daily basis.

“Every single segment he was the same energetic, relentless, hilarious partner who only wanted what was good for the show – not what was good for him; not what was good for me – he only wanted what was good for the show,” Murphy said, “and it was such a lesson for this newspaper guy to learn, for lack of a better word, showbusiness.”

When Murphy entered the studio Monday to host his first show without McCaffrey, everything felt surreal to him on the air. There was ostensible tension in the room and from listeners about how he would address the news, and share his feelings with the audience. The program ended with a monologue from Murphy regarding McCaffrey, something that he is grateful Boucher did not raise objection to and that he was able to make his statement on the air.

“The 49ers had just destroyed the Philadelphia Eagles, which actually was a huge positive break for us because it allowed everything to happen Monday with the backdrop of great positivity because that was a huge game for the Niners and people were pretty jacked up about that game,” Murphy said. “So I opened the show by saying, ‘I know it’s corny, but that one was for Paulie.’”

The shock and surprise from McCaffrey being laid off is hardly evanescent, but Murphy is now thinking about how to optimize the morning program with Boucher. Predicting what may come next is an arduous task. Murphy considers himself fortunate to have had nearly 18 years hosting with McCaffrey, and he is now thinking about the next chapter of his time at KNBR while having reference for the enduring legacy of Murph & Mac.

“For whatever reason, I’ve never lost my absolute joy and passion for the sports world – sports content; sports stories; sports history; sports media – everything about it,” Murphy said. “And so every morning when my alarm goes off and my feet hit the floor, I’m like, ‘Let’s go! I’m stealing money. This isn’t work.’”

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How Big Noon Kickoff Turned Into a Legitimate College GameDay Challenger

Big Noon Kickoff is like a college football tailgate on TV. Panelists good-naturedly rip each other, toss the football around on a makeshift field, and talk smack whenever possible.

John Molori



A photo of the Big Noon Kickoff crew
(Photo: FOX Sports)

The best college football pregame show on television emanates every Saturday from a different college campus. It features close-up shots of a boisterous crowd flashing banners and signs and is hosted by an excellent mix of TV pros, former players, and coaches, but it’s not the show you might think. To use college football vernacular, ESPN’s College GameDay is the Granddaddy of them all in collegiate gridiron pregame fare, but FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff is College GameDay on amphetamines.

It has taken the genre to new heights of volume, vigor, and vivacity. The camera shots are more intense, smoke and flashing lights are the order of the day, and the panelists are vociferous, rowdy, and sky-high-pumped.

Veteran host and reporter Rob Stone is the ringleader of this pigskin circus. Brady Quinn, Mark Ingram II, Matt Leinart, and Urban Meyer fill out a crowded anchor desk. In Week 13 of the college football season, both Big Noon Kickoff and College GameDay were live at the University of Michigan in anticipation of the gargantuan matchup between the Buckeyes of Ohio State and the Wolverines.

FOX’s coverage was on point. Unlike on ESPN, where the mad throng of students and fans are set off a bit by the talents, the crowd on Big Noon Kickoff was right on top of the FOX panelists, and they certainly let Meyer, the former Buckeye head coach, know how they felt about him. He was booed roundly and consistently. Every time he spoke, the jeers would rise to new decibels. It was fun to watch.

On the flip side, Big Noon Kickoff analyst and ex-Wolverine Charles Woodson was greeted by a thunderous ovation. Woodson actually got up close with the crowd and high-fived the fans.

On ESPN, only Pat McAfee elicits such closeness and raucousness from the faithful in attendance. In fact, in my opinion, the emergence of Big Noon Kickoff as real competition is the reason why McAfee was added to the College GameDay roster.

This edition of Big Noon Kickoff featured an electrifying feature story on the fabled Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. Also helping the broadcast is the presence of that eminent reporter Tom Rinaldi.

Rinaldi, a former ESPN’er, talked about Ohio State’s preparation for the big game and revealed that Buckeye players were inspired by constantly viewing social media posts proclaiming Michigan’s dominance.

Reporter Jenny Taft chimed in as well, providing important Michigan injury updates. I really like the diversity of the Big Noon Kickoff team. You have a solid host in Stone, a coach’s perspective from Meyer, offensive insight from Leinart, Ingram II, and Quinn, and a defensive standpoint from Woodson.

Leinart stood out from the pack making the point that the game was about more than just a rivalry. It was really about winning a Big 10 title and gaining positioning for the college football playoff and a shot at a National Championship.

Ingram II added that the most physical team would win the game, while Quinn, a Columbus, Ohio native, gave some insight on what this game means to both states and fan bases. It’s a challenge to pass around the airtime when you have six bodies at the desk, but Stone does a good job of laying back in the weeds and letting the analysts analyze.

Perhaps the brightest light on Big Noon Kickoff is the presence of Chris “The Bear” Fallica. Plucked from ESPN, Fallica has been a tremendous addition. He brings serious college football chops and really puts things in perspective.

I always felt that this guy was underutilized on College GameDay. The dude does more than just pick game results. In this episode, he provided a lucid explanation of how 2023 is a watershed year for college football with realignment coming. In addition, he wrote an excellent script for the Leinart feature on the demise of the Pac-12 conference.

Big Noon Kickoff moves at a furious and frenzied pace, and viewers are enthralled to be along for the ride. I actually found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what feature or analysis would come next.

Coming back from a break, the show does not cut right back to the panelists. Cameras pan the crowd and audio goes up so viewers can hear the crowd cheer and sing team songs. This style really brings home the atmosphere of a major college football game.

While the show is mostly about the game being played at the broadcast site, Big Noon Kickoff offers a deep dive into highlights, previews, and analysis of games around the country.

One of the best parts of Big Noon Kickoff is the contribution of FOX’s Joel Klatt a model of excellence and versatility. Klatt excels in numerous venues: live game coverage, interviews, studio shows, guest shots on other programs, and more. His knowledge is unmatched and he always asks the right questions.

This was evident on the December 6 edition of The Joel Klatt Show: Big Noon Conversations where Klatt presented a terrific one-on-one interview with Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark. Klatt is always prepared and even-tempered. He listens to his subject and offers pinpoint follow-up questions.

Big Noon Kickoff is like a college football tailgate on TV. Panelists good-naturedly rip each other, toss the football around on a makeshift field, and talk smack whenever possible – pretty much everything short of beer pong.

Stone further added to the fury by encouraging Meyer to flash his Ohio State National Championship ring to the Michigan crowd. And Meyer did it, risking a damn near riot.

Having two former quarterbacks on set is a plus, especially when it comes to analyzing the game’s most important position. You can make the point that both Quinn and Leinart fizzled out in the NFL, but you cannot deny their fine college quarterbacking pedigree. They offered real talk on QB’s Kyle McCord and J.J. McCarthy.

Fallica once again showed his singular insight and was absolutely prophetic stating that without quarterback Travis Jordan, Florida State would not be looked upon as a top 4 team even if they finished undefeated.

In true FOX style, there is never a lack of star power on Big Noon Kickoff. The panel welcomed none other than Michigan native and Wolverines fan Derek Jeter as a guest. Jeter revealed that he actually signed to play baseball at Michigan and took some classes there before joining the Yankees organization.

He also added some humor saying that all ballplayers want to get out of the minors as soon as possible, but he did even more so because he was playing for the Yankees Triple-A team in Columbus, home of the Buckeyes.

Amid all the fanfare, you know if Tom Rinaldi is around, there is going to be a heart-wrenching feature story. His piece on McCarthy and boyhood teammate Ryan Keeler was top-notch.

Keeler would go on to play at UNLV and was scheduled to play at Michigan against McCarthy this past September. Tragically, Keeler passed away from a heart condition in February 2023.

Big Noon Kickoff is always moving, literally. Later in this show, the anchor desk moved from outside the stadium to down on the field in the Big House. The different settings bring variety and an intimate feel to the production.

Former Wolverine and current Detroit Lion Aidan Hutchinson joined the panelists on the field for some commentary. Keep your eyes on Hutchinson. His NFL career has just begun, but this young man has a future and broadcasting. He was at ease, personable, and insightful.

As for the ratings on this November 25 day in Michigan, well as they say, it depends on whom you ask. FOX public relations tweeted that Big Noon Kickoff averaged 2.34 million viewers adding that it was “Saturday’s most-watched college football pregame show on any network.”

Meanwhile, ESPN PR tweeted that College GameDay averaged 2.4 million viewers and was “the top CFB pregame program of the week.” Beyond the numbers, it is the overall feel of the broadcast that sets Big Noon Kickoff apart.

Whether it is the dramatic shots during pre-produced interviews and feature stories, the rapid-fire edits and cuts to of the crowd and players, or the majestic overhead images of both teams taking a pregame knee in prayer, Big Noon Kickoff brings viewers to the campus, on the field, and into the action in a manner that is fast-paced, frenetic, and just plain fun. 

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BSM Writers

How Radio Sellers Can Be the Solution For Small Business Owners

In the face of these challenges, putting on a positive perspective can become a guiding light for SMBs.

Jeff Caves



Confidence, Sales

The landscape for small business owners is rife with challenges, often leading to a cloud of negativity about their future. Radio sellers can be a ray of light.

The September NFIB Small Business Optimism Index reveals that 57% of these entrepreneurs do not expect improved business conditions in the next six months.

Despite improvement in their outlook from last year, this pessimism is still at recession levels. The majority of small-to-medium businesses are concerned with Top of Form inflation and labor shortages. We must get on The Energy Bus and help turn these negatives into positives.

The survey conducted among small business owners laid down the reasons for their negs:

Economic Uncertainty: A significant percentage expressed concerns about the unpredictable economic landscape, making strategic planning and decision-making difficult.

Inflationary Pressures: The rising costs and inflationary trends have worried them about maintaining profit margins and sustaining operations.

Labor Shortages or Quality of Labor: Finding and retaining quality employees amidst the ongoing labor shortage has emerged as a considerable challenge, affecting business operations and growth prospects.

In the face of these challenges, putting on a positive perspective can become a guiding light for SMBs.

See the Concerns and Offer Support

Address Their Worries: Acknowledge their concerns about the uncertain economic climate, rising costs, and labor challenges. Don’t let them drag on and on about it. But make sure to show some empathy and understanding towards their situation. If appropriate, share experiences of other station clients’ challenges and how your solutions or products have helped them navigate similar situations. Watch their ears perk up when they realize they are not the only business having issues.

Be a Partner: Position yourself as a partner rather than just a salesperson. Offer insights and strategies you have heard or read about that can help them navigate through these challenges. Be well-read and a resource for change.

Present Solutions

Highlighting the Power of Radio Advertising: Showcase how your proposal can boost visibility, reach target audiences cost-effectively, and drive sales. Ensure you have a few different price point proposals that fit their budget. Don’t tell them to spend their way to success, especially on credit cards.

Success Stories: Share success stories of businesses similar to theirs that overcame challenges through effective radio marketing. Demonstrate how strategic advertising helped these businesses thrive despite economic uncertainties. This is your most powerful ally, and you must ask all the salespeople to share any success you can pass along.

Instilling Hope and Encouragement

Inspire Positive Vibes:  Share uplifting anecdotes and stories of resilience to inspire hope and instill optimism in small business owners. Emphasize that challenges are temporary and can be overcome with the right strategies and a positive mindset. Recall how you watched businesses go through the same thing 2007-09. Please read up on those stories and pass them along.

Continued Support and Engagement: Maintain regular communication and send them stories you find. Stay engaged and offer hope by consistently being there for them.

The concerns SMBs have are valid. There is no argument there. However, amidst this negativity, we can play a transformative role. Before you go down this road, make sure you find the things to believe about why this business will succeed.

Focus on those positives. You are the person who is on the street dealing with dozens of local SMBs just like them. You are the voice of reason. Your positivity and support can drive their renewed optimism, and you will forever be seen as part of the Solution, not the problem.

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