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Alexa Landestoy Has Become A Mainstay At NBC Sports Washington

“I’m coming in with this knowledge and I can take it or follow my analysts wherever they’re going. I have that photographic memory and know where maybe I want to go with my ideas.”

Derek Futterman

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As the niece of a high school football coach, being present at a sporting event was quite ordinary for Alexa Landestoy. Originally from Valencia, CA, she played competitive soccer in the Elite Clubs National League until she tore both ACLs in a span of 10 months and transitioned to finding a career off the field.

One day while attending a high school football game, one of the coaches recommended to Landestoy’s uncle to let her interview the team’s star quarterback Malik Henry. With one of her parents serving as a cameraperson on an iPad, Landestoy jumped at the opportunity, using that initial interview as a springboard to conduct others at the high school level on Friday nights.

She subsequently disseminated her work on YouTube and across other social media platforms, displaying her precocious talents in broadcasting to viewers worldwide. After a short time had passed, Landestoy discovered that her interviews were being reposted by Sports Recruits on YouTube and was receiving emails from media executives inquiring about her work.

While she was still a student at Valencia High School, Landestoy worked with CollegeAthletes.com on its #D1 Bound digital series where she interviewed athletes at several sporting events, some of which included the Elite 11 Finals, Pac-5 Baseball Championship and Army All-American Bowl.

Aside from interviewing, Landestoy also learned how to edit her own clips and assisted with their distribution on social media. Gaining that industry experience early afforded her the chance to hone her craft prior to college and hasten her professional development.

“It’s getting those reps, you watch the tape, everyone learns [and] you get better,” Landestoy said. “I think having that experience at a young age and being able to build off of that kind of gave me a jump start.”

Once she graduated from high school, Landestoy began attending Texas Christian University in Fort Worth where she majored in sports broadcasting and minored in journalism. From day one, she immediately prioritized finding chances to continue building the foundation necessary to succeed in sports media.

As a freshman in college, Landestoy contacted the athletic department to try to work with the nationally-ranked TCU Horned Frogs football team and got in touch with head coach Gary Patterson. Some of her ideas were declined early because of deficiencies in resources to execute them, but she took advantage of the chance to interview high school recruits who were on-campus, potentially the next stars of the university.

As she continued to matriculate at the university, Landestoy sought opportunities to continue to broaden her skill set, one of which was by serving as the football team’s in-stadium host. During home games, she would appear on the jumbotron and also host the Big 12 Look-In, taking fans around the rest of the conference to catch up on the day’s action.

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Alexa Landestoy got a jump start in her television career, working with the TCU show Horned Frogs Nation while still attending the university.

In Landestoy’s sophomore year, one of her professors posted media internships for students to review. While the common practice was for juniors and seniors to apply and work as interns, Landestoy wasted no time and applied to Fox Sports Southwest.

Before she applied though, she had co-hosted Horned Frogs Nation, a program on which she would deliver the sports report segment that aired on the network. Following the interview process, she was selected as one of three interns, but was underwhelmed when her tasks centered around logging Texas Rangers baseball games, sometimes working until 2:00 AM.

“I remember my mom just telling me: ‘Alexa, they give you an assignment. Be the best logger you can be; be the best person; go meet as many people as you can,’” Landestoy recalled. “Looking back then, we had interns on their phones or not focused and because my logs were up to date and the editors appreciated that, people started to take notice.”

Making the most of the situation, Landestoy kept in touch with executives and producers at Fox Sports Southwest, occasionally sharing work she was doing on the side. When the network decided to experiment with a new system centered around the use of a cellular device to transmit a feed back to the studio, she received a call asking if she could contribute high school football reports. As a college junior, Landestoy was working as a sideline reporter for the regional sports network, continuing her professional development and exposure in the industry.

“It turned out I was working the entire football season,” Landestoy said. “They were flying me across the state of Texas doing full reports and the Friday football coverage. Not saying no to any opportunity is just kind of how it all started and then [took] off for more and more.”

Although she had never followed the WNBA, Landestoy made a commitment to management at the Dallas Wings that she would take the time to learn about the team and the league, helping land her the job as the courtside reporter. Remaining in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the summer, she continued to work her way upwards and eventually was given the opportunity to report at both the Cheez-It Bowl and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

She affirms that she never felt intimidated starting at a young age and knew that embracing feeling uncomfortable and cultivating professional relationships was fundamental to experiencing sustained success and progression.

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In addition to her work at TCU, Landestoy worked as a reporter at FOX Sports Southwest before making the jump to NBC Sports Washington.

“I think I was blessed to have the best people around me who were so supportive and wanted the best in me,” Landestoy said. “I always say, ‘I want the job because I’m the hardest worker and I will do the best,’ but I will say people took a chance on me too. I think they saw the potential; they loved the go-getter spirit; the age that I was; the initiative; and seeing that high school tape that I made.”

In part because of her previous experience producing content for digital platforms, Landestoy recognized the need for the TCU football program to promote itself in places where millennials were consuming multimedia content. Through persistence and motivation, she worked to create two social media-based shows – called Rookie Roll Call and The 817, respectively – in which she essentially acted as her own production team to broadcast them en masse.

“I just kind of would run through [ideas] in my dorm room [and] write down pitches for ideas of shows and also where it could be targeted, [along with] who would watch this type of content,” Landestoy said. “….You fast-forward a year or two later and [in] every athletic department now, social media is the biggest deal and the biggest way to recruit guys.”

Working freelance gigs in Texas, Landestoy figured she would remain in the area for the time being; that is, until she saw a job opening at NBC Sports Washington. Traveling to “The Nation’s Capital” for her first professional audition, Landestoy endured what she called a “grueling” two days filled with networking and on-camera work.

In the end, she was offered the job and relocated to Washington, D.C. as the host of the nightly sports talk show DC Sports Live, along with analysts Wes Hall and Nick Ashooh. Covering all of the sports teams in the city, including the Washington Nationals during the organization’s championship season, allowed her to become familiar with the passion of the fanbase and the multiplatform sports coverage they expected.

“This is a fanbase that loves winning [and] loves supporting their teams, but it also is a very transplant type of city,” Landestoy described. “People are from everywhere; [there are] a lot of government workers; a lot of diplomats [and] different people coming from different places. You just want to have a variety of content.”

Once the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world, sports took a pause and innovation lent itself to shifts in consumption habits, coercing networks to reevaluate their content strategies. Upon the resumption of hockey outside of a bubble format, Landestoy was named the new host of Washington Capitals pregame and postgame coverage on NBC Sports Washington.

She came into the role with previous hockey knowledge from growing up as a fan of the Los Angeles Kings and says the role is “the best thing” for her. The show prioritizes producing and airing content that can be easily consumed on both linear television and digital platforms, and figures to have more access with the recent purchase of the regional sports network by Monumental Sports and Entertainment.

“It’s important to engage the casual fan but also the diehard fan – especially with our panelists,” Landestoy said. “They’re diving in the film room, trying to bring the fans in and understand the game more in a way that they would and make them feel super knowledgeable.”

Working as a host, Landestoy knows that a primary aspect of her job is to set up the analysts so they can proffer their esoteric knowledge of the game and translate it in a vernacular easily discernible to all types of fans. She is able to express her opinion throughout the show as well and conducts interviews with players and executives to further enhance the broadcast – all centered around the trait of authenticity – just as she learned from her mentors in the industry.

“I always pride myself on being the same person on- and off-camera,” Landestoy said. “If you see me on the street, I’m acting the same way I am on camera. I always want to be inviting and I also always want to be the voice of the fan. Anything they’re thinking, I’m the one who’s facilitating that conversation to make sure my answers are heard.”

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Alexa Landestoy has become a mainstay on NBC Sports Washington’s coverage of the Washington Capitals.

The typical preparation for a Capitals live game broadcast entails having a production meeting the day before to share ideas for segments and what to discuss on the show, but of course this can change with the dynamic sports news cycle.

On game days, she accesses the show rundown and adds her thoughts and ideas of what she may say, writing down what she intends to deliver on camera. Something Landestoy possesses over other studio hosts is a photographic memory, a reason why she is able to effectively host without the use of a teleprompter.

“I pride myself on covering this team for the three years that I have,” she said. “I’m coming in with this knowledge and I can take it or follow my analysts wherever they’re going. I have that photographic memory and know where maybe I want to go with my ideas, but I’m always open and you’ve got to think on your feet to wherever the conversation is going to and don’t try to force the story if it’s not there.”

Landestoy and the Capitals’ studio analysts, including Alan May, Al Koken and Bruce Boudreau, aim to prepare viewers for each game and analyze it upon its conclusion. Having a local connection to Capitals fans gives NBC Sports Washington the insight it needs to focus its content on areas that will impact the experience of the live game broadcast.

For example, Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin recently scored his 787th career goal, marking the most goals scored with one franchise in league history.

“I’ve really loved being a host and being able to have more to say and have my opinion be heard but also to use my skills to weave the conversation in and out to wherever they’re going,” Landestoy said. “I definitely think there’s a joy and also the fans really appreciate that, ‘Hey, we are your Capitals crew. We have you covered for the ins and outs of what this team is doing. We’re your home for Capitals hockey,’ and we really try to encompass that.”

Staying informed about everything going on not just with the Capitals, but in the world of sports at large requires Landestoy to be aware of the sports news cycle. When the Capitals are not on the ice, Landestoy contributes in other areas at NBC Sports Washington and sometimes works in other hosting jobs both inside and outside of the network.

One of those hosting jobs involved working out of NBC Sports’ headquarters in Stamford, Conn. as the digital desk host for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, compiling the day’s events in concise segments distributed to multiple outlets. The role required Landestoy to work late at night; therefore, she adjusted her routine to sleep during the day to ensure she would be energized and ready to work throughout the 19-day stretch.

“These videos would get millions and millions of viewers because people would want to get a snapshot of the two minutes of what happened that night in the Olympics,” Landestoy said. “It was just a cool experience that, looking back, is definitely a career achievement that I’m definitely very proud of.”

Although she would be content with working as a studio host on Washington Capitals live game broadcasts for the remainder of her career, she recognizes the importance of continuing to improve and working to be the best media personality possible. Having that mindset could premise potential future movement to a national platform but for now, she is thrilled with working at NBC Sports Washington.

“I’ve learned that I love doing a variety of roles,” Landestoy said. “It’s not just sideline reporting, but I love hosting. I love the Good Morning Football-type vibes or NFL Live where you can show personality and bring the sports content. That’s where I think I can shine in those areas so probably a role like that is something that I would love to do.”

Alexa Landestoy had a precipitous rise in sports media because of her work ethic and drive to create opportunities and succeed. She grew up around high school football and the professional teams in southern California, using her knowledge and desire to tell stories to find new opportunities to refine her skills and cultivate new ones as necessary. The key is in getting started and seeing the value in every and any chance to immerse oneself in sports media.

“Just go for it if you have a passion for this,” Landestoy emphasized. “I got my start with my parents filming me on an iPad out on a high school field. It turned out all those high school players are now in college or in the NFL. Yeah, maybe it’s high school, but you’ll grow together.”

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    Carrie Cherise

    November 24, 2022 at 5:22 pm

    It’s unfortunate that women have fought for decades to be treated equally and we all know why she was hired. She adds nothing of significance to the show and her machine gun delivery is impossible to follow. It makes me sad for all young women and girls aspiring to be taken seriously.

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BSM Writers

Jac Collinsworth Has Learned From The Best

“The way he would take all of the young people, myself included, under his wings. You couldn’t get this anywhere else.”

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Jac Collinsworth got his first taste of Notre Dame football while watching his brother Austin play for the Fighting Irish. There was his brother playing on special teams and getting a chance to return kicks.

“I remember sitting in the stands for his first football game inside Notre Dame Stadium thinking this is the coolest thing I’ve been a part of,” said Collinsworth. “The history of this building and my brother is out there in a Notre Dame jersey.”

Not only did Jac eventually go to Notre Dame as well, but he just completed his first season as the play-by-play voice for Notre Dame Football on NBC. As a student, Jac was part of the NBC sideline production team during his four-year education at South Bend from 2013 to 2017 and he was the sideline reporter for the NBC broadcast of the Blue/Gold spring game in 2016 and 2017.

“To work on the broadcasts for four years — as an intern really — with Alex Flanagan and then with Kathryn Tappen for three years down there on the sideline and being in all those production meetings, it was such an invaluable piece of the journey for me.”

And now, the 27-year-old is the television voice of the Fighting Irish.

“To see it all come full circle and be up there in the booth, it was really a special experience every single game,” said Collinsworth.

After graduating from Notre Dame, Collinsworth joined ESPN where he was a correspondent for NFL Live and Sunday NFL Countdown while also hosting the ESPN-owned ACC Network’s football show The Huddle.

Jac then returned to NBC in 2020 and was part of the Notre Dame telecasts during the pregame show and halftime show for two seasons. Collinsworth had the opportunity to learn under veteran play-by-play voice Mike Tirico, especially during the production meetings.

Tirico became a mentor to Collinsworth.

“I felt like I was getting a graduate degree watching him handle those meetings,” said Collinsworth. “The way he would take all of the young people, myself included, under his wings. You couldn’t get this anywhere else. To be able to do that for two years and still have him as a close friend and somebody I can text…I text with him before every single game.”

Another huge mentor to Collinsworth has been the legendary Al Michaels, the former play-by-play voice for Sunday Night Football who is now calling the Thursday night package for Amazon.

“I talk to him all the time,” said Collinsworth. “I’ve had dinner with him. He invites me out to play golf. We just get on the phone and spent 45 minutes just breaking down everything.  Every time that phone rings I don’t care what I’m in the middle of, I walk outside and I take that call.”

Collinsworth, the son of former Bengals wide receiver and current NFL Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth, first felt the broadcasting itch growing up in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky.  It goes without saying that his father was a huge influence, but Jac remembers when Highlands High School was being renovated when he was in 7th and 8th grade.

The first part of the renovation was a brand-new broadcast facility.

“It was a studio that had these amazing cameras, a desk, lights and two sets,” recalled Collinsworth. “To this day, I’ve never seen a high school setup…I mean this is better than most college setups…a state of-the-art facility.”

The class was called “Introduction to Filmmaking” and Collinsworth started out wanted to be a cameraman. 

“I became obsessed with running around the school and filming all this stuff whatever students were doing,” said Collinsworth. 

From there, Jac gained experience in editing and producing but deep down inside he thought he wanted to be a cameraman…that was until his first taste of on-air experience.

“They started a rotation where everybody in the class had to try hosting the announcements live right before the final period of the day,” said Collinsworth.

And the rest is history.

An important part of Jac’s growth as a play-by-play announcer came last spring working NBC’s coverage of the United States Football League. Paired with Jason Garrett, Collinsworth was able to continue the learning process before taking over the Notre Dame duties. He appreciated the fact that these were really good football players that were among the best players on their college teams and could very well be in the NFL.

And just like for the players, the USFL was an opportunity for Jac to get better at his craft. 

“Just continuing to learn the art form of calling a game,” said Collinsworth. “The timing and getting out of the way sometimes and letting the broadcast breathe and rising for those big moments.” 

An incredibly big moment for Jack would be if the opportunity to work a game with his father ever presented himself. It’s something that he’s thought about and would love to see come to fruition somewhere down the road.

But if that happens, there could be a problem for the viewers.

“Would anybody be able to tell who is talking?” joked Jac.  

Jac and his father sound so much alike it’s scary. In fact, during our twenty-minute phone conversation, I really had to pay attention to listen for any discernable difference between Jac and his dad and it was very hard to find any.

But it would still be fascinating to hear them work together.

“I think it would be a very cool experience,” said Jac. “We would have so much chemistry that it would be a crazy experience. I would love to do it. I’d be getting out of his way and let him make points and I wouldn’t be afraid to take a couple of shots at him. I think it would be damn entertaining.” 

While their on-air roles are different, Jac has been able to learn a lot about broadcasting from his father. While he does — for the most part — give his son some space when it comes to work, Cris leaves Jac a note prior to each broadcast, mainly has it pertains to a specific aspect of a telecast like coming back from a break or the flow of a telecast.

But there’s one valuable lesson that Jac learned from his dad years ago that he has adopted for himself.

“Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned from him is, he is a worker man,” said Collinsworth.  “He just works at this stuff.” 

Jac would constantly see his father going through film at various hours during the day, but Cris would still pay close attention to his son’s studies at school and would let Jac know about it if he saw something wasn’t right.

Like when Jac would be having some difficulty with a math assignment.

“I’m like ‘Dad, this is calculus, I can’t figure out how to do this equation’,” said Jac. “He would put that clicker down and come up and he would be deep in the math book going through the chapters learning all this calculus that he hasn’t done in 40 years.  I’d come down at six in the morning and he’d still be flipping through the math book while I’m eating breakfast and he’s teaching me the lesson to make sure I got it for the quiz.

“That’s how he was…just the work element is the biggest thing that I still use every day and I definitely got it from him.”

Aside from his football duties, Collinsworth has also been a NASCAR studio analyst for NBC and he’s also been the voice of Atlantic Ten Men’s Basketball and the Atlantic Ten Tournament. There’s something to be said for getting experience in multiple sports because each sport has its own pace and its own flow.

Some play-by-play voices specialize in one sport and some can handle multiple assignments.  In Jac’s case, there’s one sport that stand above all the others.

“The rhythm, feel and flow of a football game is my favorite,” said Collinsworth. “Football has always been my first love and grew up around it. Basketball happens fast not to mention you’re on the court and you’re right there in the middle of it. I’ve called baseball games too and that’s a very slow game.” 

Jac Collinsworth is still very early in his broadcasting career but he has great talent and he’s been rewarded with some amazing opportunities like Notre Dame Football and being part of NBC’s NFL coverage.

But he knows that he’s had some help along the way and he’s very grateful for it.

“I feel like I’m living out a dream and I feel like I’m standing on a lot of people’s shoulders that helped me get there,” said Collinsworth. “I think about a lot of people who didn’t need to but chose to help me when I was a kid. I feel like I have a great responsibility to take that advice and take it as far as I can and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

And it all started with a high school television studio and his willingness to try all different aspects of the business.   

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BSM Writers

Chris Kinard Has 106.7 The Fan, The Team 980 Primed For Continued Success

“Coming right out of the books and beating our direct competitor in the first month will always be something I’m proud of.”

Derek Futterman

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When Jim Riggleman resigned as manager of the Washington Nationals in June 2011, it was the first time Chris Kinard thought the fanbase cared about the team.

Riggleman wanted the Nationals to pick up the option on his contract and effectively remove the “interim” tag from his job description, and once they declined to do so, he essentially packed up and left.

From the time he was young, Chris Kinard was interested in media, and he had early exposure in the industry since his uncle Lee worked as a television news anchor in Greensboro, N.C. The elder Kinard was the pioneer of the Good Morning Show on WFMY News 2 and was honored with the dedication of the main studio in his honor from where he worked since 1956.

By the time he was in fifth grade, Chris Kinard began listening to radio and realizing it may be a viable career path for him to pursue. He shadowed his uncle in 1996 to learn about news media and television broadcasting; however, he gravitated towards working in radio in part because of WJFK-FM, and had an affinity towards professional sports.

“A local morning show here in D.C. on a top 40 station was kind of my entry point,” Kinard said. “I listened to that show actually when it moved over to WJFK for years in middle school and high school.”

At the time, WJFK-FM was broadcasting in the talk format and was among the network of stations syndicating The Howard Stern Show and other programming targeted towards the male 25-54 demographic. Kinard was an avid listener of the station, tuning in to its programming for several hours a day over the course of many years.

Today, it is known as 106.7 The Fan and it is managed, along with Audacy’s cluster of radio stations by Kinard himself. He was responsible for flipping the station’s format from talk to sports in 2009 and has helped cement the brand as dominant in the ratings.

“Flipping the station to sports will always be a bittersweet thing for me,” Kinard said. “I grew up with the station [in] the previous format and I took a lot of pride in what we were doing at the time, but I think we launched with great success. Coming right out of the books and beating our direct competitor in the first month will always be something I’m proud of.”

During his freshman year at American University, he got word that The Sports Junkies were making a public appearance a few minutes away from his childhood home. Additionally, he found out the show was looking for people to volunteer to serve as interns, an opportunity he knew was simply too good to pass up.

Inherently shy, Kinard introduced himself with the hopes of landing an internship at WJFK-FM. A few weeks later, he received a phone call informing him that he was selected to work as an intern, a surreal opportunity for him to begin working in sports media. Little did he know he would still be working at the station, albeit in a more substantial role, 25 years later.

“When it started and when I was actually in the building and seeing the behind the scenes, I was kind of in awe,” Kinard said. “….I had no idea what I was doing really except that I really wanted to be there and couldn’t believe that I was and wanted to soak it all in.”

Three months later, one of the show’s producers who largely acted as a call screener left the station to pursue another opportunity in media. As a result, there was a gap to be filled, and since Kinard had been diligent and responsible as an intern, he was hired part-time to take over the role. At the conclusion of his sophomore year in college, he was hired full-time as the producer of The Sports Junkies – a development in his career he calls “fortuitous” initially difficult to foresee balancing with two years remaining to earn his undergraduate degree.

“It was a really kind of interesting conversation with my parents about whether to do it or not and how it would impact my schoolwork and that kind of thing,” Kinard said. “I just was determined to take that opportunity; I knew how scarce they were I guess just by seeing people who had been at the station and working part-time [for] several years who had left because they couldn’t get a full-time position.”

By the time he was in his junior and senior years, Kinard had valuable professional experience from working at WJFK-FM and also interning at the local ABC affiliate station. Although he participated in some of the student-run media outlets at the school, his mindset was to prioritize what he was doing off campus.

“I’m not sure that I actually got a lot out of college to be honest with you because I was doing it outside of school already just by kind of virtue of connections,” Kinard said. “Being in Washington, D.C. and all the opportunities that are available here, [that was] really… my focus more than anything else.”

During his first year as show producer, The Sports Junkies became nationally syndicated on Westwood One Radio and was achieving notoriety and high ratings within the marketplace. The show is hosted by four childhood best friends – John Auville, Eric Bickel, Jason Bishop, and John-Paul Flaim – who began the program on public access television in Bowie, Maryland before joining WJFK-FM as evening hosts in 1996. None of them had any formal broadcast training, instead utilizing their indelible chemistry and local background to auspiciously impact sports media.

“They’re very authentic,” Kinard expressed. “I think when people hear them, they can relate to them. They sound like every guy’s group of friends sound when you get together. I think they sound like our city; they sound like sports fans in Washington over the last 30 years.”

All four co-hosts recently inked four-year contract extensions to keep The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan, officially putting pen to paper together in studio earlier this month.

Since 2016, The Sports Junkies has been simulcast on NBC Sports Washington, and although listeners now have the ability to add a visual component to their experience, it did not change how any of the co-hosts approach the job. From the beginning, there was a mutual understanding that the show would still operate in the same way with the cameras serving the purpose of pulling back the metaphorical curtain.

“It is really a fast-paced show in terms of the camera switching and the direction of it because there’s four guys, so I think this show translates really well,” Kinard said. “There’s a lot going on because there are four hosts, not just two talking heads. There’s also two producers that chime in a lot. There’s a lot of movement, I think, within the show because of just how dynamic of a cast it is.”

Since its official shift to the sports talk format in 2009, 106.7 The Fan had primarily competed with The Team 980 to try to win in the ratings. In November 2020, Audacy, officially agreed to acquire various stations across the United States owned by Urban One, including The Team 980, effectively ending that competition. Part of Kinard’s job is to oversee both sports talk stations, which now compete with ESPN 630 DC.

“We have some really talented staff,” Kinard said. “I’m not sure we’ve ever had more talent under one roof than we have now. Having two stations in my market allows me to groom new people and give people opportunities quicker than I could with just one station.”

Moreover, he helped launch 1580 The Bet, a radio station broadcasting in the growing sports gambling format in partnership with the BetQL Audio Network and CBS Sports Radio. Its creation coincided with a nationwide effort by Audacy to better utilize certain signals to their full potential, and with the proliferation and legalization of sports betting in select states across the country, many of them flipped to this format.

“I think it was important to have the BetQL Network represented in Washington at a high level because of the proximity to the MGM National Harbor, which is just kind of 15 minutes away from the radio station,” Kinard said. “[It is] on a signal that, in the past, had not been a big ratings play, so that was a great opportunity to just kind of own sports in Washington – to have 106.7 The Fan; The Team 980; and 1580 The Bet all under one umbrella.”

A compelling draw to sports radio is live game broadcasts, and as brand manager of Audacy DC, Kinard is responsible for maintaining 106.7 The Fan’s relationship with the Washington Capitals and Washington Nationals. When the teams are doing well, it usually results in better metrics for the station.

“There’s a huge correlation between winning and listenership and also advertiser interest,” Kinard said. “There’s a segment of the fanbase, I think, that thinks that local sports radio roots against the teams. It’s not that we root for the teams necessarily, but if you ask any host probably on any radio station in America whether it’s better for their individual show’s success and their overall station success if the teams are successful, I think everyone’s going to say it’s way better.”

Prior to the start of this NFL season, Audacy DC parted ways with the Washington Commanders due to a disagreement regarding “the value of the broadcasts.” The Team 980 was previously owned by the Washington Commanders franchise itself and had been the flagship station of the team for several years through its sale to Urban One in 2019. The Fan had not had the radio broadcast rights to the Commanders since 2006 before it was broadcasting in the sports talk format, hence why The Sports Junkies co-host Eric Bickel stated that the station had had no relationship with the team for two decades.

Since the Commanders officially entered into a new partnership with iHeartRadio, its flagship station has been BIG 100, which airs a classic rock format. Consequently, The Team 980 had the opportunity to change its on-air strategy, airing five hours of pregame coverage every week followed by extensive postgame coverage. During the games themselves, the station has broadcast Burgundy & Gold Gameday Live, a show that has had stellar listenership thus far.

“I think play-by-play rights are really important and do have a ton of value, but only if it’s done in a way where there’s partnership on both sides but also an understanding on both sides that the team has a job to do and the radio station has a job to do,” Kinard expressed. “Our focus is just to continue to provide great talk and coverage of the teams.”

As media continues to evolve with changes in technology and consumption habits, Kinard remains optimistic about the future because of the influx of new talent and the leadership at Audacy.

“We have just a wealth of talent and content, and I think that content will cut through no matter what’s going on with technology,” he said. “I think that we will continue to push to make sure that we are on the platforms that we need to be on and that we own that content and can monetize it for the future. I don’t know how anyone could compete with that, so I’m really excited about it.”

Kinard’s vertical movement in the industry might not have been possible without finding a mentor in Michael Hughes, the station’s general manager. Over the years working in the industry, Kinard grasped that managers are often not thinking about the needs and wants of individuals because of the myriad of responsibilities they are juggling related to the entity as a whole over any given period of time.

As a result, it is essential for subordinates to communicate with their superiors, as they are “at the mercy of the communication [they] receive,” according to Kinard.

“I had a conversation with him about… wanting to be a program director,” Kinard said of Hughes. “I think he took that seriously and took that to heart and he said, ‘Well, let me help you be prepared for that when the time might come.’ It just so happened that it came less than a year later.”

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BSM Writers

Pete Thamel Was ESPN’s College Football Missing Link

His no-frills approach is refreshing in a time when many “insiders” view being as famous as the athletes they cover as a quasi-goal for their futures.

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For a network often accused of “running” college football, it always seemed odd to me that ESPN never had that true news-breaking reporter it had for other sports. That is, until it hired Pete Thamel in January of this year.

ESPN poured resources into “insiders” like Adam Schefter, Adrian Wojnarowski, and Jeff Passan while it poured rights fees into the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, ACC, and the College Football Playoff, but from the outside, it looked as if the network just wasn’t interested in having that same type of reporting for college football, which is truly puzzling.

When the entire postseason of the country’s arguably second favorite sport is centered around what is best for your television channel, you would think supplementing it with high level, national reporting would be a priority.

Maybe the right deals never came to fruition or maybe the value just wasn’t seen by the network until Thamel became available, but his contributions to ESPN’s college football coverage have been immeasurable.

In a day and age where reporters break news on Twitter and get around to eventually writing a story for their outlet’s website, Thamel flexed his reporting chops in a major way on Sunday. While the rest of the college football world was still pondering whether Ohio State should consider firing Ryan Day, Thamel dropped a bomb on the sport’s landscape by revealing Wisconsin had hired Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell to run their program. His initial tweet was accompanied by a link to ESPN’s website with further details about the move.

Pete Thamel was so convinced he was the first and potentially only person working on that ever-changing breaking news story, that he took the time to write the story, submit it through ESPN’s editorial staff, and then release the news before anyone else. In 2022, that’s the equivalent of mailing his story from side of the country to the other in order to break news. And yet, he was so far ahead of the game that he was able to take his time, gather his facts, and report an accurate, succinct story that would be of value to him and his network. What a novel concept.

One of Thamel’s best qualities as an “insider” is he — thus far — hasn’t been plagued by questions that have been a factor in the perception like his ESPN counterparts. Schefter, Wojnarowski, and Passan have each faced their own incidents during their time as the lead reporters for ESPN but Thamel, in my opinion, is unlikely to be pulled into those scenarios. It seems clear Thamel doesn’t release things for the benefit of anyone other than himself and the outlet he works for.

He doesn’t seem to be swayed by agents, athletic directors, coaches, boosters, or anyone else with skin in the game. His no-frills approach is refreshing in a time when many “insiders” view being as famous as the athletes they cover as a quasi-goal for their futures.

Last week, College GameDay host Rece Davis noted on the show’s podcast that Thamel brought “something to GameDay that GameDay’s desperately needed for years”, and he’s right. Not only did ESPN need a news breaker for it’s digital outlets, but it needed that presence on its pregame show.

And when you think about it, nearly ever other pregame show has that role filled. Schefter and Chris Mortensen hold that role for ESPN’s NFL coverage, FOX Sports has Jay Glazer in its NFL pregame show and Bruce Feldman for Big Noon Kickoff. It’s just an area ESPN lacked.

But they made a fantastic hire by bringing Thamel aboard, and his reporting will serve the worldwide leader well over the course of the following weeks as the college coaching carousel heats up.

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Barrett Media Writers

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