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Through Several Changes, Dan Bernstein Remains Chicago Radio Royalty

“I think there are artistic merits about whether or not a show is good. that is different [from] whether or not a show is making money.”

Derek Futterman




From the moment Dan Bernstein arrived at Duke University in the fall of 1987, his intent was to become a lawyer. By the spring of 1987, he recognized that his goal had changed, aligning with his nascent love for sports and media. Hardly negligent in exploring opportunities on campus, Bernstein inquired about joining Cable 13, which was the first student-run and student-owned college television station in the United States. Once he was added to the talent roster, he formed a group of friends and was eager to have opportunities to cover events on and around campus as a journalist.

With its robust basketball program, Duke University attracted the attention of more than just college media outlets though, as there were, and remain, plenty of local and national writers and broadcasters on-site to cover Blue Devils basketball, lead at the time by its famed head coach Mike Krzyzewski (“Coach K”). Bernstein was quickly enamored with sports media and decided to dismiss his case of becoming a lawyer to build a career in it, preferably as a play-by-play announcer.

When he was young, Bernstein grew up as a sports fan and was familiar with sports broadcasting. However, sports talk radio as a format had not yet evolved into what it is today.

As a result, he never seriously considered it as a viable career profession, instead intending to study law. Yet once Bernstein discovered play-by-play, he began investing his time into improving his craft as an announcer and served in that role for both the basketball and football team during his time at the school.

Moreover, he had his first chance to participate in studio coverage as the Duke University Sports Center host, filling in for then-host and Duke basketball player Billy King (who would go on to be an NBA assistant coach and general manager). Working alongside the show’s producer, Bernstein honed his skills by contributing to the broadcast wherever he could in roles varying from voicing highlights to booking interviews.

“We had so much fun and so much access – starting to get press passes for the first time and being in and around professionals doing it – that it made me think about pursuing it more and pursuing some internships in the ensuing years and building out my work in the summers,” Bernstein said. “….[I] eventually [decided] that I would give it a shot when all was said and done with college because it seemed a hell of a lot more fun than being a lawyer.”

Throughout his time as an undergraduate student majoring in English, Bernstein looked for external opportunities to enhance his involvement with the on-campus television station and eventual foray into sports media. The first of those roles was public address announcing for the Madison Muskies, the then-Class A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, giving him access to the press box and the ability to make observations about working in professional sports.

The next summer though, Bernstein shifted his focus when he accepted an internship at WBBM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Chicago: his first time working in a major market.

Working in news media rather than sports media differs in the subject matter being covered. However, many of the roles within that sector of the industry are quite analogous to those in the other. While he ultimately ended up in sports media, Bernstein always tried to stay informed on what was going on in the world and still does to this day, possessing a cognizance of its profound importance.

Having experience in both news and sports makes him a well-rounded and versatile broadcaster who, when the moment calls for it, is able to seamlessly make the transition from talking about sports to delivering and analyzing breaking news.

“There’s no such thing as sports writing; there’s no such thing as sports broadcasting,” Bernstein said. “There’s writing [and] there is broadcasting. The same skills one would use to cover a local school board meeting and ask questions to the people involved [are] the same skills one would use to have opinions or do analysis of government for the very same skills…. The idea of coverage in media and all of what we do – anybody who is good at it should be able to cover any aspect of it no matter what it is.”

Bernstein occasionally makes guest appearances on national news networks such as CNN and MSNBC to offer his opinion on topics unrelated to sports. Although he has not worked in news media since his internship with WBBM-TV, the experience it provided him was invaluable in shaping him into a multi-faceted broadcaster and commentator.

“In polarized times, the danger of segmenting the audience is always present,” expressed Bernstein, “but I still think that smart people can have discussions where larger contexts are understood if not necessarily addressed directly.”

Over his remaining years in school, Bernstein landed a sports internship at WTVD-TV, an ABC affiliate in Durham, N.C. where he had the opportunity to work behind the scenes for much of its sports coverage, such as broadcast-style writing, gathering and editing highlights and sometimes being able to conduct interviews. The station covered various college sports in the area, along with the Durham Bulls.

Prior to interning with WTVD-TV, Bernstein had taken it upon himself to find a way to get experience in a broadcast booth, whether that be as a play-by-play announcer or color commentator. Working alongside Craig Wallin, the radio voice of the then-Class A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox known as the South Bend White Sox, Bernstein was able to go behind the microphone and be on the radio call.

As an aspiring broadcaster, he looked up to former Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play announcer Vin Scully and used him as inspiration to attempt to develop an on-air style, but doing that was more difficult than he originally surmised.

Once he was able to establish a distinctive style and continued to get more opportunities to practice calling games, Bernstein worked with multiple sports franchises over the ensuing years. His initial play-by-play career began as a baseball broadcaster for both minor league affiliates of the Kansas City Royals and Chicago Cubs.

Additionally, he served as the play-by-play voice of the Raleigh Bullfrogs of the Global Basketball Association, along with the Rockford Lightning in the Continental Basketball Association. These experiences calling different sports allowed Bernstein to get a broader view of play-by-play announcing and enhanced his ability to be a storyteller, especially within the parameters of aural mediums such as radio. Later in his career, he served as the voice of DePaul Blue Demons men’s basketball and the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League.

“Play-by-play is the ultimate form of journalism in that you are describing what you see as you see it and then providing context,” Bernstein said. “It depends if you are working with a partner or working with a two-person booth if the job is different. There is an immediacy to an encapsulated event that is different [from] showing up and talking about anything and everything.”

In 1995, Bernstein joined WSCR (“670 The Score”) as a reporter and anchor, but he had noticed the station long before that when it first launched on the 820 AM signal. At the time, Bernstein was working in nearby Rockford, Ill. and recognized the launch of a radio station broadcasting in the sports talk format akin to WFAN in New York – both of which were owned by the Infinity Broadcasting Corporation.

Once he joined the station, he was immediately thrust into action covering the Chicago Bulls’ three consecutive league championships from 1996 to 1998, the second time the franchise achieved this feat in the decade. Today, he still writes about sports as 670 The Score’s senior columnist

“I just thought ‘Wow, how cool is this? They talk [about] Chicago sports all day, every day,’ and it was just kind of a novelty,” Bernstein said. “Falling in there to that reporters’ opportunity having a foot in the door and being able to move back to my hometown – I would like to say that there was some grand plan to want to be a sports talk host but I never really had the opportunity to want to do it until I was doing it.”

Four years after joining 670 The Score, Bernstein became a full-time on-air host and was paired with Chicago Sun-Times columnist Terry Boers on the eponymous radio program Boers and Bernstein. The show was centered around various recurring segments, some of which involved callers, and the frequent disagreements the hosts would have both internally and externally.

Additionally, the hosts did impersonations of figures in Chicago sports, including broadcasters Steve Stone and Len Kasper.

The show lasted for nearly 17 years before Boers’ departure from the station and was the longest-running sports talk radio show in the city of Chicago, achieving success in the ratings over the years across multiple dayparts. Both hosts closely followed Chicago sports teams and came to the studio each day with topics they believed would be entertaining and engaging for the listening audience to hear about.

“I think if anything we tried to balance the inherent absurdity of sports talk with, at times, the seriousness of sports talk on its merits,” Bernstein said. “It’s something that I think our partnership was forged in a way that we both felt strongly on where that line was and when it was time to be serious and when it was time to be ridiculous, understanding the very nature of the enterprise could in and of itself be ridiculous.”

Bernstein was aware of his role as a host to focus on the on-air content and what would keep people coming back to listen to the show again as regular consumers. His hosting style, as he puts it, is something he is not able to accurately delineate; instead, he simply speaks when the on-air light turns red and stops when it turns off.

Instead, it is ultimately the role of producers and programmers to closely follow the ratings to ensure the profitability of the show and the listeners to define his hosting style.

“I think there are artistic merits about whether or not a show is good. that is different [from] whether or not a show is making money,” Bernstein explained. “Ultimately our success or failure, especially at a publicly-traded company, is going to be judged by that. Whether or not I think a show was entertaining or good or funny or important or clever will often be entirely independent of any of the objective metrics that would measure it.”

Authenticity is an essential trait for radio broadcasters to have in today’s era and it is something Bernstein unequivocally demonstrates as a sports talk radio show host. Part of that comes in his preparation for shows, nearly all of which are done without writing down notes or key points beforehand, and reacting in the moment to dialogue being had or relevant and topical events.

“The only notes I’ve ever started a show with would be a general one-word or two-word phrase for a segment just so I know what to tease going into the segment,” Bernstein revealed. “Everything else just comes right out.”

Mitch Rosen has been a consistent presence, colleague and friend of Bernstein’s who was central in making programming decisions as program director of 670 The Score. Rosen remains with the station as its PD but has since added director of operations duties for the BetQL Network.

Having known each other for an extended period of time, there are several factors that remain critical in Rosen and Bernstein maintaining a productive and professional relationship.

“Communication – I think on a friendship level – and on a professional level of being able to speak frankly and being able to be aware of everything that’s going on and never having too much of an ego, being able to take criticism and always knowing that our dialogue can go in both directions,” Bernstein said. “That’s not just for me, I think that’s for all the hosts. I can’t individually speak for everybody, but I know that his style is one that is very talent-friendly and is aware of some of the unique idiosyncrasies that the people who do what we do can tend to have.”

Boers’ departure from 670 The Score in late 2016 resulted in Bernstein having to pair with a new co-host for the first time during his tenure at the station. Jason Goff, who was the longtime producer of Boers and Bernstein, took over as the co-host of the program, resulting in a change in the dynamic of the show. After all, the goal of the new program was not to replicate Boers and Bernstein; rather it was to craft its own sound and type of coaction that would generate informative and entertaining sports talk radio.

“Every show has its own feel [and] its own characteristic, and I don’t think any partnership should ever try to chase what any other show did – especially because all of these creative endeavors are so specific to a time and a place,” Bernstein said. “You couldn’t do the Boers and Bernstein show now; it would be canceled after the first segment. Any individual show that we did would be a scandal because the rules are different now.”

In November 2017, 670 The Score – which was under ownership by CBS Radio – along with several other stations under that umbrella were purchased by Entercom (renamed “Audacy”) in a merger deal worth approximately $1.7 billion. Experienced radio executive Jimmy de Castro was subsequently announced as the new market manager and senior vice president of Entercom Chicago, meaning that he would oversee the company’s seven Chicago-based radio stations.

De Castro sought to consolidate operations by making more efficient use of office space and the advertising workforce, along with revamping programming on 670 The Score to ensure it would continue to both innovate and sustain its success. Part of that decision involved overhauling Bernstein’s program by terminating Goff and having Bernstein briefly host shows solo until Goff’s replacement was found.

Connor McKnight, a sports broadcaster who also received his undergraduate degree majoring in English, albeit at the University of Wisconsin, was chosen to be Bernstein’s new co-host, officially forming Bernstein and McKnight. McKnight had a previous stint working at 670 The Score after he won a talent search competition but left to work with WLS-AM as the host of Chicago White Sox pregame and postgame coverage. The duo worked together for just over two years before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in layoffs of several Entercom employees including McKnight.

During the nine months in which Bernstein was without a co-host, the world grappled with the reality of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic and did everything possible to try to quickly cease its spread. Sports leagues initially came to a halt as basketball and hockey were on the cusp of their playoffs and baseball was nearly set to break spring training and begin the season. For nearly a month beginning in mid-April 2020, Michael Jordan reemerged into the spotlight with the premiere of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “The Last Dance.” During the summer months, many sports leagues finally returned to finish their respective seasons in bubble formats without fans in attendance.

Sports talk radio had changed as well, superficially in terms of topic selection but also regarding how it would reach listeners, many of whom were not traveling nearly as much as before. As the industry innovated and redoubled its efforts to prioritize the evolution of digital platforms, 670 The Score announced the addition of Leila Rahimi, the first time the station named a woman as a weekday daytime host.

Rahimi, who joined the station in January 2021 after being laid off by NBC Sports Chicago, worked with Bernstein on the Bernstein and Rahimi show. Rahimi was known on the program due to her previous weekly appearances on Wednesdays and the new duo experienced success in the ratings, achieving a 5.9 share among the men aged 25-54 listener demographic in the Nielsen summer 2021 ratings book.

Despite the success, though, she always had a desire to return to working in television. In April 2022, Rahimi broke another boundary by becoming the lead sports anchor on NBC5 Chicago, the first time a woman would hold that role. While she no longer hosts on the station full-time, she does make weekly appearances on the new Bernstein and Holmes show for “Leila Wednesdays.”

“Her contribution to the show remains very, very strong and her importance to the brand of the Bernstein and Holmes show is still tremendously important,” Bernstein expressed. “….I want what is absolutely best for her and it turns out that we were able to have our cake and eat it too to be able to continue doing a dynamic radio show with her involved in it.”

Over their careers, both Dan Bernstein and Laurence Holmes have experienced sustained levels of success as sports talk radio hosts. His fourth partner in seven years since the departure of Boers, Holmes was hosting nighttime shows solo on 670 The Score before being added to middays, initially a source of stress for him.

Since they began working together in June, the show has been well-received by listeners, being voted as the best daytime sports radio show in a recent survey by The Athletic. The fit has been “natural from the very start,” according to Bernstein, who described the dynamic of two hosts with vast experience hosting programs solo akin to the sport he covered on the hardwood early in his reporting days

“It’s the equivalent of having a backcourt with two guards who can play on-the-ball or off-the-ball and are equally comfortable understanding when someone else is better off with the ball or when you’re better off with the ball and initiating the offense,” he said. “I’ve worked with Laurence for years in so many different capacities and we have such a long and shared history that it has come naturally in a way that doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Being able to gauge the interest level regarding certain topics among Chicago sports fans has changed in the sense that there is more synergy between people taking place on social media platforms. Even though social media was not yet developed when Bernstein began hosting in 1999, he has been able to adapt and use the platform to his advantage; in fact, he was voted in the aforementioned survey by The Athletic as the top sports-related Twitter user to follow regarding Chicago sports. Not everything on one’s social media feed, though, should be solely related to sports as it fails to put larger events into context.

“Follow accounts that are funny, informative and interesting,” Bernstein suggested, “and I think importantly – and I think this has been a significant thread to all the shows that we’ve done – where we may not be talking about the world outside of sports [but] it is critical to be aware of everything else that matters so much more. Without a larger context regarding everything that’s happening in the world, the sports become elevated to a level of significance it doesn’t really deserve.”

For aspiring broadcasters looking to work within sports media, Bernstein reminds them not to limit their options to just that; instead, it is better to be versatile and have the ability to work in different areas of media altogether. From the moment you begin in the industry at any level though, it is essential one holds themself to a standard by recognizing their own ability and areas in which they can make improvements by emulating strong broadcasters and frequently critiquing oneself. Aside from the craft though, there is a piece of advice Bernstein gives to those beginning in an industry where it can be difficult to build and maintain a steady career.

“Take care of your parents, especially in the early stages of this business,” he said. “Without supportive, loving parents – and sometimes without supportive, loving parents with enough disposable income to get you through some of the lean times – you’re already at a major disadvantage. The best thing you can have are people who are helping you and rooting for you as well.”

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Ian Rapoport Is Competing Against Everyone

“When I’m working, when I’m not working – my brain is still going on overdrive.”

Derek Futterman




The 2023 NFL Draft was a weekend filled with speculation, intrigue and musing among football fans and experts alike. After two quarterbacks were selected with the first two picks – C.J. Stroud by the Jacksonville Jaguars; and Bryce Young by the Houston Texans – Ian Rapoport had the inclination that something was about to break at the event in Kansas City.

The third pick of the night was held by the Arizona Cardinals, but through previous intel, Rapoport knew there was a chance the team would trade it. His phone then lit up with a text message from a source that simply read, “Texans trading.” Receiving a message of this magnitude takes years of networking, credibility and immense trust from the people you cover. Rapoport has worked hard to attain all of them. 

He replied by asking, “Did the Texans trade up to three?,” as the team was not set to pick again until No. 12 overall. Once he got confirmation of the scenario, he began to visibly shake in excitement and captured the attention of the NFL Network team.

“I sit there with a camera in front of me that’s not always on air – this is during the Draft – and the producer gets in my ear and he goes, ‘Can you go on air with whatever you have?,’ and I just say, ‘Yes.’” Rapoport recalled. “And then I hear Rich Eisen go, ‘Ian, you have news,’ and I was able to break that the Texans have traded up to three to go get Will Anderson.”

This is the craft through which Rapoport has cultivated a successful journalism career, ultimately distinguishing him as NFL Network’s goto insider. He hardly ever separates himself from the job, equipped with an unparalleled work ethic to ensure he can communicate messages accurately and in a timely manner. While some people may argue that he is in direct competition with others in his position, such as Adam Schefter of ESPN, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports, the reality of the situation is that it is Rapoport vs. the world.

“It’s such a small world now and everyone is interconnected – and with Twitter, literally anyone could break a story and have it go viral,” Rapoport said. “Obviously, you want everything first, but really you’re competing against everyone that exists because anyone could get the story at any moment.”

Work-life balance in such a role is usually quite insurmountable in today’s dynamic, interminable breaking news environment. Rapoport strives to find some level of normalcy in his life by playing golf and attending his sons’ sporting events. In the end though, he knows the world of football never sleeps, and it is up to him to remain in the know at all hours of the day, essentially always on standby to break the next big story.

“I do not turn my phone off because that’s actually way more stressful,” Rapoport said. “At least now when my phone’s on and near me, if something crazy happens, I can react rather than having a fake relaxation moment and then being caught off guard with something.”

Rapoport recognized that journalism was the field for him almost immediately after stepping onto the Columbia University campus. He worked his way up at The Dial to ultimately become its associate sports editor. In the summer preceding his senior year, he landed a coveted internship with ESPN where he gained invaluable experience in the world of television production. 

By the time he graduated, Rapoport envisioned himself becoming a nationally acclaimed sportswriter, but he knew it was going to require he start small. Three hundred eleven job applications and two interviews later, he landed a part-time role with The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y. covering high school sports. It gave him a start in the highly-competitive business – and kept him close to home while trying many new things.

Two years later, he found himself moving from the bright lights of New York City to the quaint town of Starkville, Mississippi for a notable opportunity. He had landed a job covering the Mississippi State Bulldogs for The Clarion-Ledger in the nearby capital city of Jackson and was under the direction of sports editor Rusty Hampton.

“I knew how to write, but I really didn’t know how to report,” Rapoport said. “He was probably the best [at] showing me, ‘This is all about reporting. It’s all about telling people something they don’t know rather than how well you can pen a sentence.’ To be really valuable to society or your newspaper, you really need to inform rather than entertain. I think he was probably the first and best person to teach me that.”

After spending two years in Mississippi, Rapoport became a beat reporter for The Birmingham News tasked with following the Alabama Crimson Tide. Just months into his new role, the program made a coaching change and hired Nick Saban, who has since led the program to six national titles. 

Rapoport learned the thoroughness necessary to cover the Southeastern Conference as he rapidly watched the program become a perennial contender. In turn, he became an eminent college football reporter and his work began to be consumed nationally.

Simultaneously, Bill Belichick, another accomplished football head coach in his own right, was in the process of trying to lead the New England Patriots back to championship glory. Known to be stoic and restrained in his press conferences, reporters asking him questions knew extrapolating answers was not the easiest of tasks. 

When Rapoport saw a job opening to cover the team with the Boston Herald that required NFL experience, he knew that he was not qualified verbatim per se. Yet he figured the experience he had in covering Saban and Alabama would serve him well in the role, and articulated such in a protracted email to the newspaper’s editors. His strategy worked, proving why Rapoport is considered one of the industry’s best communicators at the micro and macro levels.

“You don’t see a lot of sources within the Patriots or sources within Alabama – there’s not a lot of that,” Rapoport said. “So I learned to report despite that and kind of work the edges and get the information I needed, despite head coaches who weren’t always the most forthcoming with information.”

NFL Network oftentimes has local beat reporters on the air to interact with studio talent and give their perspectives about teams, and it was something Rapoport did while at the Boston Herald. He had no television experience outside of other appearances he made on Comcast New England and certainly no intention to pursue the medium as a career. 

In Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants overcame the New England Patriots, who were undefeated for the year entering the game. Rapoport was on hand for the proceedings, and shortly afterwards was called into a meeting with NFL Network executives. 

He didn’t know he was interviewing for a job until he asked just why he had been summoned. He expressed his lack of television experience to the executives, who said the network would teach him everything he needed to know. 

Once the meeting concluded, Rapoport called his wife, who he had met while living in Starkville, Mississippi, and told her what had just happened. She tempered his expectations, warning him not to get his hopes up as he remained optimistic. One month later, Rapoport received a job offer and found himself moving once again – this time to the Lone Star State.

“I hired an agent and moved to Dallas and basically spent the next year reporting on the Cowboys and some other things being very, very bad at TV, but learning and eventually figuring it out,” Rapoport said. “At the time, this guy, Eric Weinberger, who was our boss, kind of mentioned to me the possibility of transitioning [me] from reporter to insider.”

Rapoport acknowledged that he did not have the contacts necessary to effectively work as a league insider for a national outlet, but through his years of experience, he knew how to network and he was ready and willing to take the challenge. 

Once he began the new position, Rapoport, along with reporter Michael Silver, was on the road for Thursday Night Football and contributed to its pregame and halftime coverage. While his television skills improved, Rapoport was hard at work bolstering his contacts and took somewhat of a geographical approach. 

Every time he arrived in a new city, he would contact anyone and everyone he could conjure up, including general managers, scouts and head coaches. If he could not schedule a meeting time with them, he would introduce himself by roaming the sidelines at practices and before games. He engaged in a similar practice before the NFL Draft Combine, training camps and the Super Bowl along with other premier events, always staying focused on the task at hand.

“It probably took me five or six years to get a baseline of sources where if something happened, I had someone to call,” Rapoport said. “And then it took me a couple more years to get to the point where I would know before a lot of people when something was about to happen. It’s all a multi-step process, and just [the] layering and layering and layering of sources is really the sort of engine that drives this thing.”

Ian Rapoport always attempts to triangulate his sources to verify information before he releases it publicly. There is no guarantee sources are always truthful or acting in a professional manner. Therefore, it is incumbent on a journalist to ensure the validity of content before publishing it themselves. 

“If you’re only right some of the time, then none of it is really worth it,” Rapoport expressed, “because then you say something and they’re like, ‘Well, wow, that’s a big story if this is true.’ The whole point of doing this is when I pop up on TV or when people see my Twitter alerts or whatever, they have to know that it’s true – they have to know.”

One day, Rapoport was having a conversation with a source and discovered through their conversation that Rob Gronkowski had informed the New England Patriots that he would return to the game of football under the stipulation he be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reunite with quarterback Tom Brady. There had been much speculation pertaining to Gronkowski’s future after he had worked as an NFL analyst with FOX Sports, and now Rapoport realized he had a monumental scoop – that is, if it was true. Within six minutes, Rapoport verified the story with three sources, contacted his editor and reported to the world Gronkowski’s intentions. The story was picked up virtually everywhere.

“I just think about the job all the time, and I make little lists for myself of things that I need to track down, and I just make a lot of phone calls for it,” Rapoport said. “When I’m working, when I’m not working – my brain is still going on overdrive. It ends up just a brain full of football thoughts, and then I spend the rest of the time trying to figure out what I can learn from it.”

Working for a league-owned entity can sometimes epitomize an inherent conflict of interest. For Rapoport however, he has found working at NFL Network to be hassle-free. He knows, however, the nature of his job means he will not be universally liked.

“Whatever you do, you’re going to report and the people you report on are going to be happy or upset or neutral – or whatever it is,” Rapoport said. “I’m never going to criticize a referee, for instance, because that’s a nuanced thing and people might say, ‘NFL criticizes referees.’ I’m never going to do that, but I wouldn’t do that anyway.”

Rapoport continues to appear on a variety of external media outlets, perhaps most notably The Pat McAfee Show, which recently concluded its “Up to Something Season.” The grand conclusion of the proceedings was McAfee announcing he would be bringing his show to ESPN’s linear and digital platforms starting in the fall. 

While McAfee is retaining creative control and has expressed on multiple occasions that his show will not be changing, many have wondered whether insiders employed by other networks will be able to continue making appearances. It is an answer Rapoport himself does not know, nor has he asked about.

“When the news broke, my phone blew up with all sorts of people saying all sorts of different things,” Rapoport said. “I have no idea. I really don’t.”

Even so, Rapoport is elated for McAfee and his team taking the next step in their show’s journey and is genuinely glad to see them succeed. He does not think McAfee’s goal was to reshape sports media, but rather to cultivate a distinctive sports talk program built for fans and today’s generation of consumers.

“You get to know someone and you think they’re a good person and you respect the way they work. Some people have success and some people have a little success and some people don’t. It’s really rare to see someone who has every bit of success that’s essentially possible and deserves every bit of it, and that’s kind of how I thought about Pat. It’s really cool, honestly. He’s built it himself.”

It was on McAfee’s show where another prominent football insider – Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports – said it would be a matter of “when,” not “if” the NFL would have games seven days per week. While devoted football fans like Rapoport are open to such a proposition, he is not sure the league would ever go that far. 

“I don’t even know that it would affect my schedule that much,” he said. “It sort of doesn’t matter. I’ll report all year round anyway.”

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Face-to-Face Sales Meetings Have Never Been More Valuable

“With the increase in virtual meetings, new buyer preferences, limited time, and better tech, we have our work cut out to get the F2F.”

Jeff Caves




When did you last attend a face-to-face (F2F) in-person sales call? Let’s imagine for a second.

In New York, Sarah, a determined sports radio salesperson, got tired of chasing a major client for months. Despite her calls, emails, and text, she couldn’t break through to get a meeting. 

Throwing caution to the wind, Sarah decided to go for it. She loaded her deck and took her burning desire via airplane to Florida to make the pitch. She showed up unannounced at the client’s office and startled the decision-maker. She was given the meeting and won over the client, getting a substantial annual contract and a movie deal in Hollywood. 

We have all seen that storyline. F2F meetings used to be the obvious choice over a phone call, and most buyers were open to that idea. We even conducted market trips to meet our buyers in person and create better relationships. 

With the increase in virtual meetings, new buyer preferences, limited time, and better tech, we have our work cut out to get the F2F. Lots of us work and listen from home. 

Gartner Research points out that live, in person selling is superior to virtual selling in financial services or, as I think, in radio sales. Now, prospecting new clients F2F is much more difficult. You have never met them, you don’t know who you are looking for, and gatekeepers and remote decision-makers make walk-ins more challenging. 

How about getting out and seeing your current or former clients F2F? 65% of outside account executives attain quota, 10% more often than inside reps. Here are some simple strategies to get outside and F2F:


Turn the sales faucet on ‘drip’ and contact your current clients with whatever works: phone calls, emails, or texts. Tell them you are checking in to see if anything has changed, give them a local business lead, or share your latest insight on their favorite team. When doing so, tell them you want to meet F2F and go deep into the next quarter’s ad plan or a new idea to get them back on the air. They may start looking forward to your communication. 


Schedule an annual review ahead of their busiest time of year to review the upcoming messaging in ads. Go over what worked or didn’t last year. Share a success story of a similar advertiser in another market or show them a new opportunity that fits. 

Be upfront that with F2F, we can get more specific, work with better feedback, and partner on hitting their goals. Be the person who looks ahead and helps keep your client focused.


Organize workshops for your current clients. Teach that about streaming, OTT, or Google ads. Get your digital person involved. Let them know you are bringing in other local businesspeople they may want to know or network with and meet F2F! A Mortgage broker may want to meet a realtor who wants to meet a wealthy local businessperson interested in meeting the local head coach. Stand out as a leader in the industry and watch clients brag about working with you. 


Attend trade shows where your current clients will be. This will show you are serious about their business and want to stay current so you can learn and earn. Set up a meeting over coffee or a drink. Share what you learned. 


Client Appreciation Events held at your town’s most meaningful events or places. Do whatever it takes to get hospitality tents at big games and concert suites to show appreciation and bond with your current clients. Host a luncheon at the hottest new local restaurant. Focus on providing an atmosphere or experience everyone wants, but not many can attend. Be the exclusive person in town.


Leverage your existing client relationships to seek referrals. Do it in person. Tell them you want to see them and ask for help and advice. Ask for introductions to potential new clients they know, and you will be surprised how much they like working with you. 


Bring your Digital manager to them and do a free review of their SEO, PPC, whatever. Working off your client’s pc and bringing them an expert at no charge or obligation is much easier. Watch your partnership grow by providing so much expertise at no extra expense. 

Don’t forget the value of F2F meetings. It’s a great way to build trust, connect, and unlock new opportunities. We are in a people business doing business with tons of local directs who still make most of their money serving retail customers F2F. Let’s get out and sell! 

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All Jason Timpf Needed Was A Moment of Clarity

“I didn’t know it until after I was hired, but they said they played my video for Colin and he knew right away that I could do this.”

Tyler McComas




There was once a time when Jason Timpf always included Colin Cowherd in his commute to work. As he made his morning drive to a sales job at Verizon, The Herd was appointment listening each morning for Timpf. The ex-college basketball player would marvel at Cowherd’s ability to make relatable references and break down all of the same basketball games he would watch the night before. 

One of the unique things Timpf can remember from listening to The Herd during that time was Cowherd saying if FOX ever put someone in front of him, he could tell in five seconds if that individual had the skills to be a host. It was far from a hot take on the Lakers, but still a distinct moment that stuck with Timpf for many years. Little did he know at the time but Cowherd would soon give a five-second evaluation of Timpf’s career.

Jason Timpf was a late-bloomer in basketball. He played college hoops at an NAIA school in Utah, but not until his third year, after being a regular student the first two. After graduating, he pursued a basketball career overseas in India. However, after the league folded, he left the game for a normal job in the States.

There was a real desire for Timpf to get into the sports media business, but he was having difficulties finding the right fit. He wanted advice on the best way to start, but the tips he received just didn’t feel like the right initial path.

“I’d hear, hey, go bang on a radio station’s door and ask if you can work the soundboard,” said Timpf. “Or, try to go to a journalism school. Another big one that everyone was doing was the SB Nation blogs and FanSided blogs. I briefly tried to do that a little bit. But none of it was materializing the way that I had hoped.”

But then the lightbulb went off for Timpf and it happened during the middle of a podcast interview. In October of 2020, Jason Maples of Blue Wire reached out to Timpf to talk hoops on his podcast. It was in the middle of that interview when it all made sense. It felt exactly like the camaraderie he enjoyed with his old teammates and friends talking basketball. It was relaxed, fun and what he used to do for enjoyment. The perfect fit had just found Timpf organically. 

“It was, ‘this is it,’” said Timpf. “‘This is how I want to do it.’ It was like a moment of clarity. Like, this is the way I want to talk about the game. Fortunately, I was working in real estate at the time, so I was super flexible, so I literally was just trying to fake it until I made it.”

While Timpf was grinding away on his new platform choice, he was constantly putting out his content on social media. For a handful of years, he had used Twitter as an outlet for basketball talk – not because he was trying to build his brand, but because it was his preferred method of sharing his takes during and after basketball games. 

“My wife actually played basketball in college but she, like a lot of people, got out of it and was like, ‘actually I’m so sick of basketball, since it’s all I did growing up, that I’d rather not talk about it,’” laughed Timpf. 

As Timpf had built up years of basketball takes on Twitter, he also built up followers. Not a crazy amount, but enough to have regular interactions with several basketball fans. He had no idea at the time, though he remembers occasionally interacting with him, but one of his followers in the beginning was Logan Swaim, who just happens to be Head of Content at The Volume.

Being such a huge fan of Cowherd, Timpf was absolutely familiar with The Volume, a company started by the FOX Sports Radio host. In fact, during his first plunge into podcasts, he quickly took note of how much success The Volume was having with instant reaction and video content. He wanted to emulate what they were doing and would host a Twitter Space after each Lakers game.

Swaim kept up with Timpf’s journey and continued to be impressed with what he saw. He was so impressed, in fact, that a video eventually made it in front of Cowherd’s eyes. It was the moment Timpf had always heard about while driving to his job at Verizon. Cowherd was about to make a declaration on Timpf’s abilities. 

“I didn’t know it until after I was hired, but they said they played my video for Colin and he knew right away that I could do this,” Timpf said. “That was a huge boost of confidence for me, because it meant somebody I deeply respected believed I could work in this business.”

Timpf made his dream come true. He was offered a job by The Volume hosting Hoops Tonight. As much of a dream as it was when he was initially hired, the experience since has been nothing but ideal for Timpf. He gets to cover his favorite sport the way he wants to cover it. 

“When I first started and Logan and I were structuring out the show, he kinda viewed it as my show would be the slower, more methodical pace, where I work through my thought process of a game. And also that I’d be a guest on other Volume shows for more conversational podcasts. I really wanted to break down pick and roll coverage. It’s just going to take me a while, so trying to do that in a debate show format or conversational format can get hard. It’s a place where I can let more of my crazy depth out. And I can also have a side format where it’s more conversational.”

Timpf has learned prep for podcasts is one of the biggest elements to being successful. As Hoops Tonight continues to draw impressive numbers over audio and YouTube, he’s figured out the best method to prepare for a long-form podcast where he’s hosting solo. 

“I digest the game from the simple concept of how the game was won,” said Timpf. “Where was it won? There’s 100-something possessions in this game, there’s seven different storylines and several runs and sequences and sways in momentum, but what’s the one? Usually I’ll target that first in the opening segment of the show.

“While I’m watching the game I’ll take ancillary notes. About five minutes before I record, I sift through everything I’ve written down and limit it down to the things I think are most important. But generally the flow of the show is how the game was won.”

The whole experience has been gratifying and a full-circle moment in many ways for Timpf. Not only has it been vindicating to do things his way and see it become a success, but he’s gotten to do it with someone who he considers an idol.

Sure, Timpf always envisioned growing up he would be talking to Cowherd as a pro athlete, but talking to him as a colleague is certainly the next best thing. So when he got the call to talk with Cowherd during last year’s West Conference Finals, he didn’t hesitate.

“I was so incredibly nervous, as you could imagine,” laughed Timpf. “But I immediately remember him making me feel comfortable and confident. It immediately calmed me down.

“This is probably my favorite part of the entire experience, I think a lot of people think that these networks try to shove people in certain directions and The Volume has given me such freedom to cover the game exactly the way I want to and nobody is telling me to say crazy stuff. Nobody is pushing me in certain directions, it’s like total creative freedom. The way that Logan and Colin have been letting me do me, so to speak, has been so cool. To see my version of what I want it to look like makes me feel vindicated for talking about it the way I want to.”

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