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Cassidy Hubbarth is Focused on Engaging NBA Fans on ESPN

“When I look back on my career and I think, ‘What is the time when I was feeling at my best?,’ it was on the NBA Tonight desk.”

Derek Futterman



As a midfielder, Cassidy Hubbarth was responsible for contributing on offense and defense for the Evanston Wildkits soccer team – and she had to maintain her stamina in order to perform at a high level. Thanks to her play and that of her teammates, the group won the Illinois High School Association Class AA State Championship for the 2001-02 season. Throughout her time in high school, Hubbarth played more than just soccer, as she also developed her skills on the hardwood and followed the Chicago Bulls at the height of their dynasty led by Hall of Fame guard Michael Jordan.

Even though she enjoyed playing sports, Hubbarth knew from her time in middle school that she wanted to pursue a career in sports media. One day when she and her family were watching Fox NFL Sunday, Hubbarth found herself captivated by sideline reporter Pam Oliver and her role on the broadcast.

“I remember seeing her do a talkback interview with one of the players and it just kind of finally opened my eyes to, ‘I’m not just watching the game but I’m actually enjoying coverage about the game,’” Hubbarth recalled. “That’s the moment I decided that this is what I want to do. I honestly don’t think I thought of any other career after that point.”

Although she was an athlete, Hubbarth made sure she maximized the opportunities available to her at Evanston Township High School to hone her broadcasting skills. She was a member of the radio, television and film club in the school and also did play-by-play for boys basketball home games when she had time in her schedule.

Hubbarth had always looked to attend Northwestern University located in her hometown of Evanston, Ill.; however, her family did not have the necessary means to send her there. Because of this, she went to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as a freshman on several grants and worked at both the school’s radio and television stations. That year was especially difficult though because of her father’s diagnosis with throat cancer – and Hubbarth prioritized being there for her family through the arduous circumstance.

Fortunately, her father recovered from the disease and is a cancer survivor, but the hardship motivated Hubbarth and her family to find a way to afford tuition at Northwestern University. Once she was accepted, Hubbarth officially transferred as a sophomore to study within its acclaimed Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

During her time at the university, Hubbarth was a member of the Northwestern News Network and volunteered her time in the athletic department helping stream football press conferences. It was her earliest experience in digital media, an expansive niche in the industry that has been prominent throughout her career.

She received her first two jobs out of school from the university’s job fair – one as a traffic reporter and producer at WMAQ NBC5 Network in Chicago; the other as a producer and host for Intersport, a sports production company that created short content for Sprint Exclusive Entertainment on flip phones. Immediately working in both news and sports media, she gained unique perspectives and recognized the lack of dichotomy between these two ostensibly contrasting sectors of the industry.

“I think they kind of learn from each other [about] how to collect the right information and what question to ask [while] trying to capture the right emotions of certain stories,” Hubbarth said. “When it comes to that early part of my career, it was just kind of a grind doing traffic and really not knowing where the hell I was going but trying to tell people places to avoid. Then also working [in] sports media at Intersport, [I was] trying to figure out how sports media was changing digitally.”

Cassidy Hubbarth has been with ESPN since 2010 working on several signature properties most notably the NBA Photo ESPN Press Room

Hubbarth joined Comcast SportsNet Chicago in 2008 working as an associate producer with wide ranging tasks and responsibilities. The movement from optimizing sports stories and information for nonlinear digital platforms to contributing to live television broadcasts gave her a new perspective on the ferocity and efficiency required when working on a deadline.

Additionally, it helped her develop aplomb in these types of situations, burgeoning her overall versatility. She describes it as her “grad. school,” expanding on what she learned and experienced as an undergraduate student at Northwestern University.

“Cutting voiceovers; writing shot sheets; making sure I was on deadline and making sure there were no typos in the scripts for the anchors; these were things that I learned in school,” Hubbarth said. “As far as having the intensity and the pressure of live shows happening, that experience taught me a lot about live TV essentially and all the work that goes into putting together a live broadcast.”

Starting in fall 2009 though, she only worked at the outlet four days of each week, ending each Wednesday by taking a flight from Chicago to Atlanta This was to work her other job overseeing social media for SEC Gridiron Live on Fox Sports South, a studio show previewing the upcoming college football action in the Southeastern Conference. Then she would travel to an SEC school to be among the fans and film “Cassidy on Campus,” a digital segment for the show giving viewers an inside look at the game atmosphere.

“To be exposed to SEC football was a different beast and understanding that fandom and being able to capture that fandom on social media which is really what social media has done for sports fans – it’s allowed them to have a voice and a say basically in the coverage of their teams,” Hubbarth said. “….I created comment sections on our Facebook pages and I was trying to engage with viewers and break down that wall between viewers and our show.”

While she enjoyed the early part of her career working both in front of and behind the camera, Hubbarth always coveted covering basketball and bringing viewers stories to enhance broadcast coverage. It is what enthralled her to sports media in the first place – and she knew ESPN would be just the place to do it. Out of college, Hubbarth had considered applying to join the production assistant program at the network and moving to Bristol, Conn., but instead decided to take opportunities closer to home that allowed her to get on the air.

During her time working at both Comcast SportsNet Chicago and Fox Sports South, Hubbarth felt she had the momentum necessary to move upwards in the industry, perhaps at a national level. Her feelings were validated when she received a call from ESPN inquiring about her interest to join the network as an independent contractor to help develop its digital platforms. Once she auditioned and subsequently landed the job, she moved to Bristol, Conn. within a month and put the wheels in motion to excel in the next chapter of her career.

“It happened quick; it happened fast,” Hubbarth said. “….[I was] basically hosting the simulcast of our college football games and college basketball games on ESPN3 before we had the app. As ESPN was launching their digital streaming network, I was essentially the face of it.”

From her early days at ESPN, Hubbarth established professional relationships with her colleagues and found mentors to help ease the transition in leaving her home market to join a distinctive, national brand. When Hubbarth was young, she found inspiration for watching Erin Andrews and Michele Tafoya work as sideline reporters on NFL broadcasts, reporting on what would otherwise perhaps be concealed storylines.

At ESPN, Stuart Scott, a longtime SportsCenter anchor who passed away from appendiceal cancer in 2015, had a profound impact on Hubbarth and encouraged her through his work ethic and dedication to the craft to endure and chase her dreams.

“I think so many times when I would be talking to him in the hallways at ESPN and he would not be feeling well and dealing with just all the emotions going in his head with his daughters and his health,” Hubbarth said. “He would step on to that studio floor, the light would go on and he would absolutely give it his all until the light went off.

“You could see that it was taking so much out of him, but it was also giving him so much that he took so much pride and so much joy into this business – which is such a gift to be able to do. I try to remind myself of that in times where I’m dragging or not feeling grateful for the opportunity I have.”

After hosting various shows across the network including Highlight Express with Jorge Andres; SportsNation with Christian Fauria and Jarrett Payton; The Word with Jemele Hill and Sarah Spain; and various digital series including This Day in Sports History, College Football 411 and NBA 411, Hubbarth made the move to covering the Association on a full-time basis.

In 2013, then-ESPN NBA coordinating producer Bruce Bernstein gave her the chance to host NBA studio coverage on both NBA Tonight and NBA Coast to Coast. At this stage of her career, Hubbarth was living out her dream – covering basketball nationally and serving as a vital part of the network to guide discussion and debate, informing and entertaining viewers.

ESPN NBA host and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth has grown into her role with the networks coverage Photo ESPN Images

Over the years, she has worked with various analysts on these programs including P.J. Carlesimo, Chauncey Billups and Ohm Youngmisuk, and helped broaden her skill set on linear programming.

“The NBA is my favorite sport and it’s always been my favorite sport,” Hubbarth said. “….When I look back on my career and I think, ‘What is the time when I was feeling at my best?,’ it was on the NBA Tonight desk.”

Although both shows taped their final episodes in 2016, Hubbarth has continued to find opportunities to appear on the linear side of programming. Over the years, Hubbarth has served as a guest host across ESPN’s programming portfolio on shows including Get Up, First Take and SportsCenter, and has also contributed to Mike & Mike, a discontinued sports talk radio show that featured Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg and was simulcast on ESPN2.

“I’ve hosted basically every single show at ESPN except for NFL Countdown and College GameDay,” Hubbarth said. “I feel confident I can host anything in terms of seriousness or as formal as it needs to be…. I like to have a little bit more fun; have it be a little bit more loose; have it be more casual; more conversational. That’s typically my style.”

Part of that confidence was fostered in 2015 when Hubbarth was assigned to host Baseball Tonight. While she possessed knowledge about the game of baseball growing up as a fan of the Chicago Cubs, it was not her strength. As a result, the initial days hosting the show engendered anxiety resulting in her experiencing eye twitches because she never felt prepared enough for the show, which operated without a rundown.

Thanks to the team of analysts, producers and other ESPN personnel, Hubbarth assimilated into the role and consequently, started to feel increased sanguinity with each repetition.

“It got to a point at the end of the summer where I felt really, really confident that I could handle that desk. I was no Karl Ravech out there – I’m not saying I was good at it – but I think I did a decent job and I think I served the viewers, and I walked away from that experience very proud of myself. If I just work hard, put my mind to it and respect the role, I can do any job they put in front of me.”

Following that summer, in which she simultaneously hosted NFL Insiders and NFL Live, Hubbarth began hosting college football coverage on ESPN and ABC. She also explored the aural space, appearing on the NBA Lockdown podcast with Jorge Sedano and Amin Elhassan and on the first all-female ESPN podcast, The Hoop Collective, on Mondays with Ramona Shelburne and Chiney Ogwumike.

Today, she contributes to both NBA Countdown and NBA Today while covering the Association as a sideline reporter on-site during NBA on ESPN broadcasts.

Whether it has been LeBron James, Luka Dončić or Damian Lillard, Hubbarth has interviewed a countless number of NBA players, coaches and team personnel before, after and sometimes during games. In having this type of access, she strives to enrich viewers with contextual information through enterprising stories and using her journalistic instincts to identify focal points, applying her vast preparation to the specific nature of her job.

“It’s understanding what teams are dealing with and making sure as the game’s going on, how those stories can best be told that compliments the viewing experience and doesn’t distract from it,” Hubbarth said. “That’s always a delicate dance of doing sideline because you can prepare a million stories, but if it’s not in the natural flow of the game, then you’re not really helping the broadcast; you’re just helping yourself.”

The NBA is genuinely a year-round league, piquing interest from consumers whether or not games are happening. Social media is a new content avenue that has given fans unprecedented levels of freedom to curate the content they are exposed to and consume on a daily basis.

Moreover, it has afforded them the chance to consume content related to basketball culture, something that was, for a long time, principally covered through magazines and other sports lifestyle media outlets. Today, the culture of the game has become just as prominent as the games themselves; therefore, consumers are hungry for content pursuant to their interests.

ESPN+ is the company’s direct-to-consumer subscription-based streaming platform, and Hubbarth is a regular part of its NBA coverage hosting various digital shows related to the Association.

Before its launch in the second quarter of 2018, she was hosting shows designed for social media platforms, including SportsCenter on Snapchat and Buckets on Twitter, the latter which was co-hosted by Rob Perez. She also hosted SneakerCenter, a seven-part mini-series on ESPN+ underscoring the influence of sneaker culture in basketball at large.

“There’s so much content outside the lines of the game that it just continues to snowball for NBA fans who just can’t get enough,” Hubbarth said. “I think that’s at the heart of the success and then also the clips that you see on Twitter are easily digestible.”

Starting in 2018, ESPN+ launched Hoop Streams, a live, digital pregame show that takes place on-site supplementing its linear, national broadcast coverage before select matchups. Hubbarth has been the host of the show since its inception and is joined by a rotating cast of the network’s personalities, some of whom include Chiney Ogwumike, Kendrick Perkins, Gary Striewski and Jorge Sedano.

Before the suspension of the 2019-20 NBA season, the show was averaging 1.6 million streams per episode, reaching an all-time high of 2.4 million streams in February 2020.

Cassidy Hubbarth has hosted virtually every show at ESPN during her run with the company Photo ESPN Images

This season, Hubbarth has helped launch her third digital show with ESPN/ESPN+ in the last five years; this one is called NBA Crosscourt. Co-hosted by Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, the production is pre-recorded and streams on ESPN+ on Wednesdays and Fridays, bringing fans focused digital coverage of the league.

Moreover, the program utilizes ESPN’s coast-to-coast network of NBA contributors to provide viewers with a genuine panorama across the league featuring compendious local and national perspectives tailored to the wide array of fan interests.

“We are following the trends and culture of the NBA – and the culture of talking about the NBA,” Hubbarth said. “….Our main goal is not to inform; it’s to engage. That’s what this show is; it’s just to engage the NBA fan in you who is informed and taking [very] informed viewership to engage with just your excitement about the league.”

Last season, Hubbarth continued working on ESPN’s coverage of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, an exhibition contest featuring former NBA stars and personalities from the worlds of pop culture, sports and entertainment. She had worked as the event’s sideline reporter and host for many years, but largely interviewed event participants throughout the broadcast. This year, she continued to host coverage but, unlike in years past, provided play-by-play amid conversation with analysts Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson.

“Us having fun on the air watching, I think, kind of breeds hopefully [the] viewers having fun watching it,” Hubbarth said. “That’s the whole point; the whole weekend is just the celebration of the league; a celebration of basketball, and…. I think not taking it [too] seriously is part of the way of being professional about it.”

As Cassidy Hubbarth continues hosting and reporting for ESPN, she looks forward to continuing to pioneer the growing emphasis on digital, direct-to-consumer content taking place throughout the sports media landscape. Launching her career working primarily behind-the-scenes amplified her viewpoint of the industry, and she makes it a point to understand everyone’s roles and the way sports media is changing at large.

“Take a professional approach just to how this business continues to grow because that will give you a leg up as employers are trying to figure out how they can continue to gain new viewers because that’s what everyone is looking for,” Hubbarth said. “….I had a genuine interest in how media was changing digitally. It allowed me to not just ride a wave, but to be a part of the wave.”

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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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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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