The location a hockey broadcast is called from can have an effect on the way the game is presented and subsequently understood by viewers. Newer arenas around the NHL have had a focus on creating premium seating options to increase ticket sales and revenue, putting some broadcast teams at a disadvantage. Perched high above the ice on the Chase Bridge at Madison Square Garden, Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti broadcast New York Rangers hockey on MSG Networks to millions of fans around the world.
Their broadcast booth is situated adjacent to other broadcast locations for home and visiting networks on television and radio and is suspended approximately 50 feet above the playing surface. The Chase Bridge, which runs parallel to the upper level, was created as part of a $1 billion transformation of “The World’s Most Famous Arena” completed in 2014. Most of the bridge’s south side is reserved for members of the media, giving them arguably the best view of the game whether it be basketball or hockey and enabling them to do their jobs well.
“We may have, arguably, the best broadcast location in the league,” Rosen said. “….Our location at The Garden has been moved in. It’s at a good level where you can see the game, see plays develop and feel the game.”
Being able to have clear sightlines of the game is important for both Rosen and Micheletti, both of whom prefer to call games in person rather than off of a monitor. Before the creation of the Chase Bridge, MSG Networks’ broadcast location was in the very back of the arena’s upper level, sometimes making it difficult to see the action and identify the players.
“The old position at the Garden used to be one of the worst because we were way back, high [up] and [did] not [have] good sightlines,” Micheletti said. “That was more difficult and even then I still wouldn’t watch [the game] off the monitor.”
Rosen and Micheletti are in the midst of their 17th season calling New York Rangers games together and have not just become one of the most prominent broadcast duos in the National Hockey League, but in all of professional sports. From their first broadcast together in the 2006-07 season to the present day, they have fostered chemistry and enthralled sports fans, helping spread the appeal of hockey to the masses.
That first broadcast, however, was not the first time Rosen and Michletti shared the booth – as the duo had previous experience calling games together as the secondary team for the NHL on FOX, national coverage of the league that lasted five seasons spanning from 1994 to 1999.
Their previous experience eliminated most of the difficulties that may have otherwise presented themselves due to John Davidson’s departure after 20 years working with Rosen. In essence, it allowed Rosen and Micheletti to be able to maintain the high standards that came with broadcasting games in the media capital of the world, doubling down on presenting a network-type product.
“We have always strived to present the highest-quality broadcast,” Rosen said. “Mistakes are not acceptable. Not that anybody is standing there and hitting you over the head if you make a mistake, but you have to strive for perfection. You want to bring the best out of yourself and to the broadcast, and I think that’s always been the case.”
“It’s like being in a top organization where you expect to win,” Micheletti added. “They do things right; they treat people right; and they provide whatever you need to be successful.”
From a young age, Sam Rosen was infatuated with sports and all they had to offer, listening to radio broadcasts and playing on the streets surrounding the Borough Park neighborhood in Brooklyn. Rosen had been born in 1947 in Ulm, Germany and immigrated to the United States with his parents and brother Stephen two years later.
By the time he was attending Stuyvesant High School, he was not only the captain of the baseball team, but also a track and field athlete and intramural basketball player. If you could not find him at school or around his neighborhood, the next best place to look would have been Madison Square Garden – but not the current structure (Madison Square Garden IV) above the metropolitan transportation hub, Pennsylvania Station, that houses the New York Rangers and New York Knicks.
Madison Square Garden III sat within the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in Manhattan and was the home of the Rangers for the team’s first 41 years of existence. As a high school student, Rosen and his friends received general organization cards which allowed them to receive discounts around New York City, including for tickets at the arena.
At the time, hockey was generally played on Wednesdays and Sundays – and Rosen and his friends would make sure to board the subway train to arrive at the venue by 4:30 p.m. They wanted to make sure they would be the first ones inside so they could grab the best general admission seating and devised strategies based on which locations would allow them to see the complete sheet of ice.
“The doors would open and we would race up the stairs at the Garden to try to get to either the first two rows of the side balcony because then you could see the entire ice,” Rosen recalled. “Further up, you missed the near side of the ice. Or we went to the end balcony where you could see the entire game but one side was farther down; the other side away from you was pretty far away.”
Rosen has never been able to ice skate without holding on to another person or an object but even so, he found himself attracted to the game of hockey more so than other sports because of its speed and physicality. The unpredictable nature of athletic competition in particular drew him to want to build a career in sports media and is a motivating factor that eliminates the mundane of the long season and sustains his nascent enthusiasm for each and every game.
“You never know when you’re going to see the next great goal; the next great save in hockey; [or] the next great player,” Rosen said. “….You never know when that next great moment is going to happen and that’s what makes live sports as compelling as they are.”
Once he began matriculating at City College of New York, Rosen’s parents wanted him to study to work in a job typically associated with high stature, such as practicing law or working as a doctor or accountant. Yet he realized the subjects and topics within those professions were not of strong appeal to him in his early college years; therefore, he decided to pursue broadcasting by majoring in speech and minoring in journalism. On the side, he was taking weekly classes focused on television production at Brooklyn College where he would rotate studio roles with other students to learn the fundamentals of the industry.
Following the fall semester of his sophomore year, Rosen landed a part-time job as a desk assistant at the all-news station 1010 WINS where he would work with reporters, edit tape and observe how professionals did their jobs both in and out of the newsroom. It was during this time that Rosen met Jim Gordon, a broadcaster who worked a shift at the station by day and worked as a sportscaster by night for various New York teams, including the Knicks, Rangers – and as one of the original television voices of the Islanders on WOR.
Gordon, who Rosen affirms helped him the most throughout the early stages of his career, listened to his tapes and, through inculcation, offered feedback and pointers so he could improve at the craft. Eventually, Gordon hired Rosen to work as his statistician for New York Knicks radio broadcasts beginning in the 1969-70 season and helped him learn more about the industry. Rosen also continued to work in news for WNAB-AM in Bridgeport, giving him additional exposure into media and simultaneously expanding his skillset across different formats.
By 1971, Rosen was continuing working in both radio and television as a news broadcaster on WICC-AM in Bridgeport and weekend sports anchor on WTNH-TV in nearby New Haven. Two years later, he joined the United Press International Radio Network as an on-site reporter, covering sporting events from the venues at which they occurred. Most of Rosen’s responsibilities in that job took place before and after the event leaving him a large gap of time just to watch the game.
Since he aspired to be a sportscaster though, Rosen would use that time to practice his broadcasting skills and effectively compiled a demo reel. In fact, he was promoted to work as the radio network’s sports director in 1979 and reported with his colleague and future ESPN SportsCenter anchor Keith Olbermann from the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY at the iconic “Miracle on Ice” game where the U.S. Olympic ice hockey team defeated the Soviet Union en route to a gold medal finish.
“I would just go off to a quiet area; a lowly area in the press box, and I would do play-by-play for a period – whether it was hockey that I was covering or basketball,” Rosen said. “Whatever that was going on at the Garden, I would do that and use that. Jim Gordon being my mentor – he was a guy that would listen to my tapes and give me tips on what I needed to do to improve. That was basically my practice work – by being around professional sports, that was a positive.”
Early in his career, Rosen was trying to make connections around sports media and was doing so through his time covering games at Madison Square Garden. Similarly, he was remaining open to external opportunities, including learning about new sports for which he could provide commentary. One of the media executives Rosen had been trying to connect with during his formative years in the industry was Scotty Connell, who had been with NBC Sports. As if it were by chance, Rosen received a call from him one day after covering the U.S. Open Tennis tournament and they spoke about him joining a new all-sports network known as ESPN.
ESPN acquired the rights to NCAA college football games on tape delay and Rosen contributed to the broadcast as its play-by-play announcer. One of his earliest memories working in this capacity was in calling the Whitney Young benefit game between the Grambling State Tigers and Morgan State Bears from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Over his time at ESPN, Rosen went on to call a variety of different sports, including women’s field hockey, Australian rules football and table tennis despite not being familiar with some of them from the onset.
“One day, [Connell] asked me, ‘Is there anything you can’t do?,’ and I said, ‘Maybe, but if there is, I’ll find out how to do it,’” Rosen said. “Basically what I said to him was, ‘You know what? I’ll find out the nuts and bolts; the basics; the fundamentals; and I’ll be able to do the broadcast for you.’ That’s always been my philosophy and I think that helped me because you never know what comes along.”
By remaining versatile and staying ready for each new opportunity, Rosen became even more indispensable to his employers. In February 1977, Jim Gordon was supposed to fill in for Marv Albert to call a New York Knicks game against the rival New York Nets on the radio. However, Gordon fell ill. As a result, Gordon was asked by management if he could recommend another broadcaster to do the game, helping Sam Rosen land the opportunity. From that day on, Rosen officially became a part-time broadcaster for MSG Networks and took a similar approach to what he brought to ESPN.
“I did tennis at the Garden; I did volleyball at the Garden; [I did] boxing for the Garden for over 10 years,” Rosen said. “Whatever it is, I made sure that I could do it, do it well [and] know the sport – and whatever I didn’t know, I tried to learn from the people who did know.”
In 1982, Rosen was hired full-time by MSG Networks as the studio host for New York Rangers telecasts, providing pregame, intermission and postgame coverage with Mike Eruizione and, during the 1983-84 season, John Davidson. Today, John Giannone works in that role and he is regularly joined by analyst and former NHL goaltender Steven Valiquette.
Furthermore, New York Rangers legend and winningest goaltender in franchise history Henrik Lundqvist contributes to the broadcast as a studio analyst during select games while also working in a business operations role at MSG Sports and MSG Entertainment.
“I think they try to get… more expertise involved [and] different viewpoints involved, whether it’s former players who are a little older; some who are a little younger and recently retired; some coaches,” Rosen said. “I think you’re seeing more people to open up discussion [and] have more viewpoints during the course of the broadcast.”
While Rosen was working in the studio and filling in as a play-by-play announcer on the radio as needed, his mentor Jim Gordon was the voice of the Rangers on MSG Network. Gordon worked alongside color commentator and Hockey Hall of Fame member Phil Esposito beginning in the 1981-82 season after a previous stint with former NHL referee Bill Chadwick.
By the end of the 1983-84 season though, MSG Networks wanted to make a change and decided to give Rosen the opportunity to step into the lead play-by-play role. It was the realization of a lifelong dream for him, but the decision to accept the job was genuinely complicated because of his relationship and respect for Gordon.
“You look at it and realize it’s a difficult position to be in,” Rosen explained, “yet the decision was out of my hands and certainly for me and for my future, this was the best thing that had happened for me and the opportunity was the greatest thing that had come my way.”
From the time he landed the job, Rosen aimed to hone his craft and develop chemistry with Esposito, his on-air partner for the first two seasons. During those years, the Rangers were looking to sustain its championship-caliber organization after the team was defeated in the 1979 Stanley Cup Finals by the Montréal Canadiens. Throughout many games, players and fans alike were subjected to chants of “1940” by visiting fanbases, referring to the last time the Rangers had won a Stanley Cup championship.
For seven of Rosen’s first nine seasons as the lead play-by-play announcer, the team made the playoffs but failed to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. An essential piece of the 1979-80 Rangers was its goaltender John Davidson and he went on to retire from the sport three years later at the age of 30 due to a variety of injuries he sustained over his career.
When Esposito left the Rangers broadcast booth to become the general manager of the team, Davidson was selected to take over the role. Rosen has a profound amount of respect for Davidson, calling him the “gold standard” of color commentators in sports history, as he pushed him to expand his knowledge about the game of hockey and strive for excellence.
“I used to think that I had a strong work ethic,” Rosen said. “When I watched John’s work ethic, I realized I had to raise mine by at least 50%, if not more, just to keep up with him.”
Over his broadcast career, Davidson worked as a color commentator for games both locally and nationally; in fact, he and Mike “Doc” Emrick were the lead broadcast team for the NHL on FOX, calling various Stanley Cup Finals together. Once FOX lost the NHL rights in 1999, Davidson continued working nationally for the NHL on ABC and later the NHL on NBC before he was hired as president of the St. Louis Blues in June 2006.
“You hired John Davidson because he was a great combination of personality, fun to be around, able to laugh and have enjoyment – yet he was able to relate what was going on on the ice at any level to the fan who didn’t know much about hockey to the experts of the game,” Rosen said. “He had a great rapport with the executives in the sport; the players in the sport; management – at all levels, he had this brilliant rapport and was able to transmit that over the air.”
Before the Stanley Cup Finals were broadcast nationally by FOX starting in 1995, hockey’s championship series had not been televised on network television since 1975. Because of this, it was difficult for hockey fans to watch these crucial games – and the impetus for the creation of NHL Network in 1976, which presented the Finals for the next four seasons.
From 1981 to 1994, Stanley Cup Finals games were broadcast on cable television on channels including USA Network, ESPN, and SportsChannel America. Despite the invigorating, fast-paced action though, hockey was struggling to compete with other sports at the national level, leading local networks to carry the Stanley Cup Finals to serve its psychographic sects of the marketplace.
Rosen and Davidson worked on MSG Networks as the local television broadcast team during the 1993-94 Stanley Cup Finals between the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers, a back-and-forth battle that went to the brink. As the seconds ticked off the clock in Game 7, it became apparent that the Blueshirts would snap their championship drought, which had reached 53 seasons (54 years) – and do it on home ice no less.
The sellout crowd at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” began to celebrate and burst in elation when the final horn sounded, leading Rosen to exclaim to millions watching in the New York metropolitan area: “The waiting is over! The New York Rangers are the Stanley Cup Champions – and this one will last a lifetime!”
Rosen did not compose the words in advance; rather, they came out in the moment amid a pressure-filled Game 7 environment at Madison Square Garden. The fact that he was able to encapsulate and put a script to an indelible moment in New York sports history speaks to his ability to thrive in pressure-filled situations.
Most New York Rangers fans can recite his words by memory, underscoring the power the moment still garners to this day and the moment when, perhaps, Rosen became the poet laureate of the team making arguably the most eminent call in franchise history.
“It had taken so long for the Rangers and there [had] been so many heartbreaks but here it was – this moment where they reached the pinnacle of success and it was perfect,” Rosen said. “….Just to see that [and] to feel it, it just is a moment that at times is unbelievable. It was great and just the singular greatest moment that I’ve had.”
In the years following the Stanley Cup Championship, Rosen continued calling Rangers games with Davidson as the team welcomed new players in its quest to capture another championship. In 1996, Rosen added a role as a play-by-play announcer for the NFL on FOX, demonstrating his versatility in balancing hockey and football roles – although he had previously called preseason football for the New York Jets and New York Giants in the early 1980s.
In that same year, Rosen began calling Stanley Cup Finals nationally for the NHL Radio Network distributed by Westwood One until the operation temporarily ceased in 2008. He worked with various color commentators over that time including Gary Green, Bill Clement and Eddie Olczyk, and his announcing style effectively carried over from television to radio.
Today, Rosen remains dedicated to his job, preparing for each game several days in advance and amassing as much information as possible to be able to convey the story taking place on the ice. He does it all for the benefit of Rangers fans, who hold high expectations for the athletes that call “The Big Apple” home from the moment they arrive on the scene. In this sense, Rosen is not only tasked with putting words to the action, but also serving as a journalist and enterprising stories he can reference or tell on the air.
“For me to help fans understand who these players are, where they’ve come from, how they’ve reached this point and what they’re trying to accomplish is part of my job and part of my role as a play-by-play announcer because I’m around the team most every day,” he said. “I’m able to see these guys and see them off the ice and on the ice. Whatever I can transmit to the fans, I think, is helpful and humanizes these players.”
His longtime partner John Davidson, though, has worked as a hockey executive since leaving the broadcast booth following the 2005-06 season, currently serving as the President of Hockey Operations and alternate governor of the Columbus Blue Jackets. As a result of his departure, MSG Networks needed to add a new color commentator who was capable of maintaining the standard set by Rosen and Davidson. Joe Micheletti has turned out to be the perfect fit.
“It wasn’t a matter of, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get to know this guy’ and ‘What is he like?,’” Rosen explained. “No – we already knew each other; we worked together in big games on FOX – playoff games – [so] it was an easy transition from John to Joe.”
Joe Micheletti retired from hockey after representing the United States in the 1982 Ice Hockey World Championship tournament in Helsinki, Finland. Originally from Hibbing, Minn., Micheletti grew up around the game and attended the University of Minnesota where he played under Herb Brooks, the head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team during its gold medal run in 1980.
Although he was drafted by the Montréal Canadiens in the 1974 NHL Entry Draft, Micheletti opted to play in the World Hockey Association. Beginning in 1979, he moved to the National Hockey League where he played for the St. Louis Blues and ended his career with a brief stint on the Colorado Rockies in 1982 – who would subsequently become the New Jersey Devils at the start of the next season.
Once Micheletti retired, he began working in the investment business and one day, received a call from St. Louis Blues broadcaster Dan Kelly. While Kelly opened an account with Micheletti, he also implored him to join him as a color commentator for games on KMOX-AM for the upcoming season, telling him it would be a good way to get back in the game and help his business.
In the 1980s, St. Louis, Mo. had many broadcasters who reached national prominence, including Jack Buck, Bob Costas, Dan Dierdorf and Jay Randolph Jr. Dan Kelly was in this category as well, as he also broadcast hockey games nationally for outlets such as USA Network, CBS and NHL Network – and the fact that he was asking Micheletti to join the radio broadcasts was completely unexpected. After taking some time to think about the opportunity, he agreed to take the job and began his broadcasting career “by accident.”
“At that time, and I didn’t have any experience nor did I necessarily have a want to get in that business, we were fortunate to have these great broadcasters and people,” Micheletti said. “They always made it sound like they show up and have a conversation with you which was the biggest mistake I made thinking that’s all they did.”
Kelly was a pundit when it came to sports broadcasting and sought to help Micheletti learn the industry, which sometimes came from being a tough critic. All of his assessments of Micheletti’s work, though, were intended to help grow the broadcast and help his partner improve as a color commentator so he could display his esoteric knowledge of the sport.
“‘Be a pro and remember there’s always two teams on the ice,’” Micheletti recalls Kelly telling him. “‘There’s always another team and other teams have great players and other teams make great plays. Keep that in mind and be fair.’ I learned that early from Dan and I think even though… fans just want you to be focused on their team, I think that I’ve always felt – and that’s through Dan who was one of the great broadcasters this sport has ever had and seen – to be professional.”
After two seasons working on radio with Kelly, Micheletti moved behind the bench to serve as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues – and helped guide the team during its run of 25 straight playoff appearances. He then signed on work as a color commentator for the Minnesota North Stars in 1991 on television, pairing with play-by-play announcer Dave Hodge – the longtime lead announcer of Hockey Night in Canada from 1971 to 1987. They were joined by former Hockey Night in Canada executive producer and sportscaster John Shannon, who ran the nearly 55 televised broadcasts.
“This was something new in broadcasting that I hadn’t done much of – which was television [and it] was totally different than radio,” Micheletti said. “I was looking at this as, ‘Boy, this is all brand new and now I’ve got a chance to learn from one of the great producers in hockey and I get to… learn it from Dave Hodge.’ It was so new to me and I was trying to learn how to be accepted in the business.”
Micheletti returned to the St. Louis Blues as a color commentator for its television broadcasts, pairing with JP Dellacamera beginning in 1993. At the same time, he continued working for the regional firm A.G. Edwards and received a call one day during work from someone claiming to work at Turner Network Television (TNT). Thinking that he was being deceived, Micheletti hung up the phone – but shortly thereafter, the person called back and immediately urged him to stay on the line.
It turned out that Micheletti’s work had been noticed from afar, leading him to be asked to broadcast the 1994 Winter Olympics from Lillehammer, Norway. Joining Micheletti as the play-by-play announcer was Jiggs McDonald, who was primarily broadcasting New York Islanders games locally on SportsChannel New York. The experience of landing the job was memorable for Micheletti, but determining how to prepare for an assignment of this magnitude initially confounded him.
In an effort to learn about the international players, Micheletti used his connections to compile a list of hockey contacts from countries including Norway, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. He would then set his alarm on the road to wake up at 2 a.m. in order to make calls to gather information and insight about the international game.
“I looked at it as the biggest challenge that I’ve ever had and it turned out to be that way but it turned out to be the most satisfying,” Micheletti expressed. “….I always thought the Olympics was the biggest challenge because of the restrictions you have in talking to people.”
Once he concluded that assignment, Micheletti began receiving calls from other national networks and went on to work four additional Olympic Games with CBS (1998) and NBC Sports (2002, 2006, 2010). Additionally, he worked as a color commentator with Sam Rosen on the NHL on FOX and was both in the booth and in-between the benches for the NHL on NBC. For the last seven seasons, he has been the color commentator for NHL Radio’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals, currently syndicated by Sports USA Media.
Prior to the 1998-99 season, Micheletti made a difficult decision to move from St. Louis to New York to work with Howie Rose as the color commentator for New York Islanders games on Fox Sports Net New York. Micheletti took over duties for Ed Westfall, the first team captain in franchise history who had been broadcasting Islanders games for 19 seasons – largely with Jiggs McDonald. Three years earlier, Rose entered the play-by-play role for the team due to McDonald’s departure to call games for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It really was great because I’ve always viewed this as no different than playing for a team [in] that I’m only just a part of it,” Micheletti said. Everybody’s got a job and everybody should try to get along and work hard and support each other. We really had that with the Islanders.”
In the early years of Micheletti’s tenure with the Islanders, the team was consistently finishing last in the Atlantic Division, making it difficult for some people to stay engaged with the game and the team at large. By the 2001-02 season, the Islanders, led by Alexei Yashin, Mark Parrish and Rick DiPietro, began to qualify for the playoffs but lost in the quarterfinals for three consecutive seasons.
Through these years, Micheletti and Rose worked with producer Kevin Meininger and director Larry Roth, both of whom are involved with New York Rangers broadcasts on the network today. Together with the rest of the broadcast team, they were able to present a product they could be proud of.
“It was tough because they were going through a lot of growing pains,” Micheletti said. “We had to really work to try and make the broadcast interesting and worthwhile while the team was going through their transition. I look back on those days very fondly working with Howie and that group.”
Once John Davidson left sports media to work for the St. Louis Blues in 2006, Micheletti transitioned from calling games on Long Island to doing so in Manhattan. He recalls being eager for the chance to work with Rosen on a local basis when the offer was made to him and was confident in his own knowledge and expertise to engender a seamless transition.
“I always had great respect for J.D. and what he did and I knew that he was such a staple with Sam and with the Rangers and that he had played there [along with] his status in the industry [and] how beloved he was in New York,” Micheletti said. “You either had to ask yourself, ‘No I don’t want to take that challenge because it’s hard to win,’ or you just… said, ‘Absolutely, I’ll do that.’”
Micheletti was familiar with the marketplace since he had been broadcasting Islanders games – but the situation differed from his last move in that he was stepping into a broadcast booth that had been together for 19 seasons (20 years). Nonetheless, he sought to be himself and take stock in what made him unique and appealing to viewers both locally and nationally.
“I know there’s always comparisons,” Micheletti explained. “I just said to myself, ‘You know what? I’m going to be myself. I’m not going to try to be him. I’m not going to try and fill shoes. I’ll leave the shoes over there and go to work and figure it out and deal with whatever I have to deal with.’”
The landscape of sports media has experienced seismic changes since Rosen and Micheletti began working together, specifically in the means of distribution. Today, Rangers fans can watch the game over cable television, by streaming on various platforms or by watching through the MSG App, and there are surely more innovations to come as technology and consumption habits continue to shift. Yet the broadcast itself has stayed relatively consistent sans cosmetic changes, such as alterations in production music and graphics packages, and the addition of content related to sports betting and “wagertainment.”
“I think our approach to the game has been pretty similar and the same for a long time,” Micheletti said. “We’re not tired of doing what we’re doing and we try to have some fun and try to be prepared to do it.”
“From a personal standpoint, I don’t think that I’ve changed much at all,” Rosen added. “My personal approach has always been to try to transmit the excitement of being at the game; of seeing the greatest players in the world; and just some of them, the best that ever lived.”
Both Rosen and Micheletti make it a point to attend morning skate and attempt to talk to the coaches of both teams so they can ask questions about the current state of events. Before this though, they read as much as they can about the opponent and create notes to use during the game – even though much of their commentary comes from naturally reacting to gameplay on the ice.
“Sometimes you don’t need any of the notes that you’re taking because the game is so interesting and there’s things going on [that are] maybe the unexpected events of the game,” Micheletti said. “I’ve always felt [to] make sure you let the game breathe and don’t try to use your briefcase and your notes [to] dictate what you say. Let the game dictate that.”
In order to remind himself of the key components of his job as a color commentator, Micheletti carries a sheet of paper with him in the booth for each broadcast containing reminders. One of the points at the top of his list simply reads, ‘Why?,’ prompting him to consider the reasons for something happening. Another point on his list says ‘Behind the play’ to alert him to watch the action off the puck, as it can be a determinant for concurrent occurrences and supplements Rosen’s description of the game. He has been doing it for the last 17 years as the color commentator for Rangers games and does not figure to stop the practice any time soon.
“When the puck is at the point, I try to watch in front of the net; see who’s doing what and watch the benches,” Micheletti said. “I keep the puck off to the side and I’m trying to watch everything else that’s going on [down] on the ice which the play-by-play guy can’t do. He’s got to focus on where the puck is and who’s doing what. Part of my job is to find things that happen in just watching a game that maybe people don’t see that I can point out.”
As a former assistant coach and professional player, Micheletti knows the importance of being adaptable and collaborative within a team setting. Rosen and Micheletti are parts of the broadcast paradigm, and it takes a cohesive synergy and respect for everyone’s role to steadily augment the end result and consistently raise the bar.
“When you’re with really qualified people that know the business, then to me it’s easy to have a discussion about being better; improving; helping somebody; whatever it might be,” MIcheletti said. “….It’s just like anything else – when you’re with somebody that thinks they have all the answers for everything, that generally doesn’t work. It doesn’t work with me; it doesn’t work with most people that want the team and the group to have success.”
Rosen is in his 38th season and 39th year as the play-by-play voice of the New York Rangers, and continues to bring fans countless numbers of memorable moments including power play goals by Artemi Panarin; highlight-reel saves by Igor Shesterkin; and shrewd defensive plays made by Adam Fox.
“I think that I’ve been able to show the people at Madison Square Garden and the people who I’ve worked alongside with and certainly the fans that I’ve been able to serve and work for and bring my style to how important this job was to me and how important it was to treat it as significant as it was,” Rosen said. “Sometimes words can’t adequately describe how much this job has meant to me and how much I value its importance in entertainment; in television; and to the people who are out there watching and listening.”
Rosen was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as the recipient of the 2016 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding achievements as a hockey broadcaster. Traveling to Toronto, Ontario with his family to see the plaque was an emotional moment for Rosen – indicative of his journey and the strong expectations he placed onto himself.
“The Hall of Fame to me was always about the players,” Rosen articulated. “You think about players – the greatest players of the game – watching them play and then being honored and inducted into the Hall of Fame. For the people in this sport – in hockey – to say you are going to be remembered for all time as one of the best is just an honor that is hard to describe.”
While there has been some speculation over the years regarding when Rosen may retire, he feels he is in a good place and looks to continue calling Rangers games for the years ahead. He cannot pinpoint an exact date as to when his career may end; however, he has advised his family to watch his broadcasts and make him aware if it looks like he is hanging on or losing his ability to be informative and entertaining to the viewers.
“I love what I do and I think as long as I’m healthy and as long as I still can bring that same enthusiasm to the broadcast, I would like to keep doing it,” Rosen said. “Certainly there will reach a point where it’s time to step aside and let the next person take over, [but] I love what I do and that doesn’t change whatsoever.”
Micheletti did not receive a formal education in broadcasting; rather, he learned by working in the business after playing and coaching. Fortunately, he has worked alongside adept broadcasters over the years, including Dan Kelly, Ken Wilson, John Forslund, Mike “Doc” Emrick, Jiggs McDonald, Kenny Albert, Howie Rose and, of course, Sam Rosen.
“With Sam, I want to make sure that I don’t interrupt his call because it’s been so good for so many years and still is,” Micheletti said. “….When you get a chance to work with somebody like Sam, you pinch yourself and I still do. I’ve been so fortunate in my career because I got to start with a Hall of Famer and I’m hoping I finish with a Hall of Famer.”
Younger broadcasters, including Brendan Burke and Bill Spaulding with the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils on MSG Networks, respectively, exude a passion for the game that pervades itself towards the viewing audience. Sports, in essence, are a form of entertainment and excitement – characteristics of which Rosen remains keenly aware – and his portrayal of the event has led him to be thanked on the street by fans. It keeps him cognizant of the impact the broadcasts have in the New York marketplace, penetrating beyond the bounds of the “Rangerstown” community, and further motivates him to be his best each day.
“The fans are passionate,” Rosen said. “You hear it every night at the Garden [and] you see it wherever we go around the league…. I hope that any young broadcaster coming along understands that and appreciates the good fortune that they have to be at these games and to see these great athletes that they’re seeing on a game-by-game basis.”
Even though he has been involved in media for nearly six decades, Rosen keeps up with industry trends and tries to tailor the broadcast to the fans. With the advent of social media and the instant dissemination of information, presenting unrealized perspectives and storylines evinces the responsibilities associated with a beat reporter. Rosen is regularly around the team; the difference in his role from that of a beat reporter is that he publishes his “story” during the game and reports before and after to enrich it in the moment.
During the game, rinkside reporter Michelle Gingras contributes her storylines to the broadcast and interviews players in-between periods and after the game, affording Rosen and Micheletti a chance to see what is going on five floors below them on the event level.
“There’s a constant flow; a constant stream of information out there,” Rosen explained. “[In] my role, what’s changed is not only do I need to provide information that some people may not have known, but also to relate to the players’ approach to things.”
One aspect of broadcasting hockey that he hopes is prioritized though is accommodating the networks and broadcasters to give them the ability to effectively call the game. Part of that comes from the location in each arena from which they are working and Rosen considers himself lucky to have a great sightline at Madison Square Garden.
Moreover, he enjoys broadcasting games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto; Rogers Arena in Vancouver; and especially from the press gondola at Bell Centre in Montréal. Conversely, the broadcast locations in other arenas, including Prudential Center in Newark; UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y.; Rogers Place in Edmonton; and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas are high up and pulled back away from the ice, making them less than ideal.
“We are a ticket-driven sport and they build those suites and they make a lot of money for the individual teams – I understand that,” Rosen said. “….The league has always said to the broadcasters, ‘We need you to call a great game; we need you to be enthusiastic about our sport,’” Rosen expressed. “Well, sometimes it would be great if the league could somehow use its influence a little bit to give us help to make it a little bit easier for us to do the job that they would like to see us do.”
Regardless of the location of the broadcast booth, though, the on-air duo of Rosen and Micheletti is unmistakably distinct and audibly representative of a sound associated with New York Rangers hockey. Whether it is Rosen expressing, “It’s a power play goal!” over the custom-made goal song “Slapshot;” welcoming viewers back from the intermission by saying, “New York Rangers hockey on MSG Network is presented by Chase;” Micheletti breaking down the opponent in the broadcast open; or the duo exchanging answers to the Cadillac Trivia Question each game, their broadcasts have become tradition for fans of the “Original Six” franchise.
Jobs broadcasting professional sporting events are hard to come by in general, and there is surely a long list of aspiring announcers who wish to occupy the broadcast booth at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” in the largest media market in the world. For those setting those goals, it is important to stick to them and shoot towards them with full force, or in Rangers’ hockey terms, as hard as a Mika Zibanejad slapshot – having played professionally notwithstanding. Doing so may create memories sure to “last a lifetime.”
“You might love hockey, but if there’s a football opening and you can do football, go for it,” Rosen said. “Never lose sight of your ultimate goals – it’s great to have ultimate goals – but be versatile and have the ability to change course and go for it where that opening presents itself and do that game and do that sport as well as any other sport.”
“Don’t treat it like just because you played the game that suddenly you’re going to become a good broadcaster and know how to do it because it’s a job,” Micheletti added. “People work awfully hard in the industry to get these jobs so be respectful of it, take advice, ask questions and watch yourself and listen to yourself when you’re doing it because a lot of times I didn’t; I still try to do that. Then rely on people that are really good in the business to help you out.”
Derek Futterman is a contributing editor and sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Don La Greca is Putting His Faith in the Audience to Find ‘The Michael Kay Show’ on ESPN New York
“I can’t stop from just laying it all out there and pouring my heart out in everything that I do.”
When a visitor travels to New York City, the presence of sports is undeniable. There are connections to the games virtually everywhere in the five boroughs, including within Central Park, Times Square and Grand Central Terminal, locations that are synonymous with the effervescent and pulse of the bustling locale. Whenever he is on the air in his home city, Don La Greca pulls no punches. He seeks to convey his passion and appreciation for the metropolis by always being genuine with his audience and seldom timid with what he has to say.
One day when La Greca was in St. Louis to call a matchup between the New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues, he observed the rubicund complexion of the city. Concurrent with the St. Louis Cardinals’ appearance in the World Series, the water in the Kiener Plaza fountain was dyed red. Baseball overshadowed hockey, a regular occurrence in the Gateway to the West, something that La Greca knows would never happen in “The Big Apple” due to the vested rooting interests of different fan bases in one city.
“There’s nine professional sports teams – and that’s not counting the soccer teams and the WNBA and all of that – and it always seems like something’s going on [and] there’s so many different directions to go into,” La Greca said. “That just makes New York so special.”
One of the most difficult parts of preparing for an episode of The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York is trying to determine the best opening topic that will appeal to the audience. On top of that, the program is simulcast to viewers on YES Network and remains a fixture in afternoon drive across multiple platforms. The show has been on the air for over 21 years on ESPN New York, with La Greca’s voice being the first heard on the station when it broadcast on the airwaves on 1050 AM. That has led to a run that he didn’t foresee taking place two decades ago.
Over the last several years, there have been various changes associated with ESPN Radio as a whole. Good Karma Brands purchased the 1050 AM frequency as part of a larger deal with ESPN for some of its local radio properties, and the outlet has been operating 98.7 ESPN under a local marketing agreement (LMA) between ESPN and Emmis Communications. The management structure of the outlet has changed due to these transactions, which was headlined by the departure of longtime station general manager Tim McCarthy.
“We’re not all together like we were before [the pandemic] where I can just walk down the hall and see my boss and see everybody together,” La Greca said, “so there’s that little kind of separation anxiety there, but the connection that I feel – I’ll see them at the suite at [Madison Square] Garden when I stop by – they’re good people; they’re so interested and invested in us doing well.”
Working in afternoon drive grants La Greca, along with co-hosts Michael Kay and Peter Rosenberg, the ability to react to breaking news and preview games that are set to take place that night. La Greca has worked in radio in parts of four decades and does not take his presence in a drive-time slot for granted, cherishing every day he is afforded the opportunity to go on the air.
“It’s where it’s all buzzing,” La Greca said. “I like afternoons better than mornings because I feel like mornings are more recapping the night before and having a little bit more fun; not as serious. I feel like afternoons is when things are happening.”
When the program first took the air in 2002, La Greca affirmed that he was told by ESPN New York management that he was going to be co-hosting with Kay. Conversely, he shared that Kay, the television play-by-play voice of the New York Yankees, was informed that La Greca was back at the ESPN New York studios to take over just in case his line dropped. After the first few days, La Greca became more confused and indignant towards the on-air arrangement before achieving clarity regarding the situation.
“We laughed later about the miscommunication or whatever, and then eventually I started doing updates on his show on a consistent basis,” La Greca said, “and he opened the door for me too because he didn’t have to talk to me; he didn’t have to bring me in. But it was the infancy of the radio station, so the calls weren’t hopping all the time, and he would ask me about this and that.”
As La Greca and Kay became more comfortable with one another, he eventually assumed responsibilities as a permanent co-host on the program. Even so, his name has never been included in the title of the show, something that does not affect his relationship with Kay. It does bother him when guests don’t realize the show includes more than just the eponymous co-host.
“Anybody that listens to the show knows what I do and how important my element is to the show, but it does bother me sometimes,” La Greca said. “We all have some sort of an ego where I wish there was a way that my name could be on the show, but at the end of the day it’s never been anything to make me want to leave or make any demands.”
Despite Kay and La Greca not being pleased with adding a third person to the show in 2015, management at ESPN New York informed them that it was going to happen either way. Early on, both co-hosts came to realize that Peter Rosenberg being included was a shrewd decision because of his versatile abilities and the elements he adds to the conversation. Rosenberg continues to co-host Ebro in the Morning on HOT 97 before appearing on The Michael Kay Show in afternoons, equating to seven-and-a-half hours on the air per day across the music and sports formats.
“We were able to build a nice rapport with each other, and I think Michael sensed that we were getting along and it just kind of came together so that when baseball season was over he was able to mesh,” La Greca said. “Michael works very well with people – you can tell with all the different analysts he has on television that he can work with anybody – so once he saw that we had built the chemistry, it was just easy for him to plug himself in.”
There are plenty of different sports to discuss during the course of the calendar year. Over the last decade though, professional football teams in the New York metropolitan area have largely struggled to compete for Super Bowl championships – let alone qualify for the playoffs.
“We kind of all just come to a common ground of what we think will kind of set the tone for the show and go from there,” La Greca said, “but if you look at it in the grand scheme of things, it just feels like any time you talk football, it’s the right direction to move because the phones light up [since] people just love the sport so much.”
La Greca is often associated with on-air rants; in fact, The Michael Kay Show once kept a counter marking the days without one of his verbal tirades. Whether it’s been comments made by Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal or Ed Kranepool being the “forever player” for the Mets, La Greca exhibits fervor and dedication towards the local teams. The rants serve as a visceral catharsis towards what he is feeling inside, and he is able to create a transformation for these sentiments into zealous vernacular for the topics at hand.
“When I rant, I feel like I’m being me,” La Greca said. “I’m giving my opinion on something, and I’m showing you exactly how I feel at that particular moment and I think the listener appreciates it.”
As a radio host, La Greca knows that he is unable to partake in what he refers to as “the game,” which involves instigating disagreement with his co-hosts related to certain topics. In ruminating on his place on the show, he tries to remain genuine to himself and the way he views sports. Exuding self-confidence and a dedication to honesty on the air, La Greca yearns to never waver from his approach and refrains from holding back.
“When people think that my rants are made-up, it bothers me because I lose control of myself,” La Greca said. “I’m like, ‘Geez, you think I’m making this up?’ I wish I had that kind of control because I can’t stop from just laying it all out there and just pouring my heart out in everything that I do.”
While The Michael Kay Show has a legion of loyal listeners and fans, the program has finished consistently behind WFAN in afternoons in the Nielsen ratings. La Greca and his colleagues currently go head-to-head with Evan Roberts and Tiki Barber, but previously competed against Craig Carton and Evan Roberts, and Mike Francesa prior to that. During his time at WFAN, Carton made it no secret that he took pleasure in beating ESPN New York, referring to the outlet as a joke that never took local radio seriously.
In viewing WFAN from afar, La Greca posits that the programs are being generated by the hosts’ interest in teams rather than discussing all the teams. Moreover, there have been instances in his opinion that reveal a deviation from what ESPN New York looks to accomplish within its programming.
“It feels like they’re going after it with the hanging up on Carl Banks and the morning show going after Gary Myers,” La Greca explained. “It just seems like they’re a little bit more aggressive, and if that works for them, that’s great.”
Before he joined ESPN New York, La Greca worked at WFAN where he provided overnight updates and occasionally contributed within dayparts. Being able to foster the tenacity to discuss sports on the air at such a young age came from always possessing an opinion. Although it bothered a lot of people when he was younger, his friends thought it was cool when he would become enraptured in mini-rants about different topics. For parts of 11 years, La Greca was employed at a pharmacy, which is where he learned of Art Rust Jr. and his sports talk show on ABC.
“I couldn’t believe there was somebody out there with a photographic memory who remembered all these things,” La Greca said. “I was like, ‘I could do that,’ and then the FAN came and it was like a dream come true.”
La Greca majored in communications at Ramapo College, taking six semesters to graduate because of his interminable commitment to the campus radio station. While he was an intern at KROCK, he met Maria Milito, a disk jockey who was married to Pete Walker, the owner of Phone Programs.
The connection helped him land a job with the company in New York City where he would place cassettes into a Marantz deck and load the program into another machine. After some time, La Greca moved to Sports Phone on Long Island where he worked as a supervisor, barely breaking even because of the funds he had to set aside for gas and tolls as part of his lengthy commute.
One day, he was betting on winning a football pool in order to make extra money but ended up losing, prompting him to go home and express his frustration by throwing things in his house. When his father discovered his son in an incensed state, he offered to help get him into the Public Service Enterprise Group, the company where he worked. That opportunity would start at $60,000 a year. La Greca realized then how hard he had been working to succeed in sports media and knew that he had to see his dream through, even if there were no guarantees.
“It wasn’t about the money,” La Greca said. “It was about just wanting to do what I wanted to do for a living, and so he understood that. He never bothered me again, and it really worked out.”
Following this epiphany, La Greca was introduced to Steve Malzberg, a talk show host at WABC. As it turns out, Malzberg was put in charge of hiring at Shadow Sports and helped catalyze La Greca being hired by 1010 WINS. People at WFAN heard him on the air at 1010 WINS and had him move to the all-sports outlet, but La Greca quickly realized that since the station was a desirable place to work, there was little movement. In the end, La Greca helped institute a new sports talk radio outlet upon Malzberg’s recommendation to ESPN management, and he has remained at ESPN New York ever since.
Come next August, ESPN New York will no longer broadcast on 98.7 FM. The station made a business decision, electing not to renew its lease. The Michael Kay Show, which first aired exclusively on 1050 AM, will return to its original radio home, in addition to being accessible through ESPN New York’s app, the YES Network, and other multimedia options. La Greca realizes that it will be strange, but hopes that people will continue to find the program as long as it provides content to suit people’s interests.
“It’s a different world, and I know AM’s a little different than it was back in the day but I also think streaming and podcasts and the app is way bigger than it was,” La Greca said, “so I have all the confidence in the world the audience will follow us wherever we go.”
While La Greca has cherished his time on the afternoon drive program – along with calling games across different sports on ESPN New York, hosting the Game Misconduct podcast and anchoring in-studio pregame and postgame shows – he desires to be a full-time play-by-play announcer, preferably for an NHL team in the New York metropolitan area. Leaving the city, he said, would not be an option unless the offer was very lucrative, prognosticating that he would spend every moment trying to return in that scenario. If the circumstances were right for him though, he would think about taking on the challenge since he feels he has reached his goal on sports talk radio.
“If I ever got offered a play-by-play gig and they said, ‘Listen, you couldn’t do The Michael Kay Show anymore,’ it’d be a tough decision but I think I would maybe move onto the play-by-play because that’s how much I love it and [would] be motivated by it,” La Greca said. “Hopefully I never have to make that decision.”
Derek Futterman is a contributing editor and sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
3 Tips For Soon-to-Be Radio Free Agents
If you are prepared, you may be able to get through it. If you are not, it will only make matters worse. The following tips aren’t, by any means, a silver bullet but, perhaps they will be more helpful than harmful.
Almost everyone in the media business — whether it’s TV, radio, newspapers or what have you — has either been faced with the loss of a job or has faced the fear of the loss of a job. It isn’t easy, it isn’t pleasant, and it seems that it is a constant threat in our industry. Even if it isn’t you this time, it will likely be someone you know or work with. When it is not you, the gnawing feeling in your gut tells you it could have been, and it may be next time. With that in mind, anyone that works for a media company of any size should always be prepared to hit the reset button on their career.
When I was in corporate media, I saw several waves of layoffs and downsizing. I thank God I was never in the position of being on the receiving end of that difficult conversation but I have heard the fear of litigation has made those conversations cold and short. Your entire world can be turned upside down in one five-minute visit to the corner office and you’ll be left with your head spinning.
If you are prepared, you may be able to get through it. If you are not, it will only make matters worse. The following tips aren’t, by any means, a silver bullet but, perhaps they will be more helpful than harmful.
Get to know people in your industry. They are the most likely people to know where job openings are. It is unlikely someone sees that you have been terminated and a stranger immediately calls to let you know a job is open in another radio market. It is far more likely that someone with whom you have an association tells you where the next move could be. Even people you may never meet in person can be a valuable asset. They likely have been in your spot or fear being there one day.
How will they know you have been let go from your radio gig? Share it with the world. It may take swallowing a little pride to let everyone know your position has been eliminated but people will eventually figure it out anyway, you may as well control the narrative. Make a heartfelt announcement on social media so the world knows you are in the market for a new gig.
Share your contact info, your desire to work, and your level of willingness to move. Share all those things so the people in your network can know in the most efficient way possible and avoid you having to recount the same set of details 50 different times.
This is not meant to suggest you should promote yourself over your organization. I would also say you shouldn’t be shy about sharing your work as much as you can. Remember, a prospective employer will probably search your name before they do anything else. If the first thing they see is your quality work, that is a great first impression.
Tend to your social media feeds so they tell the story you want them to tell. It shouldn’t be just one shared piece of work after another. The work should be a part of it but mix in the personality to show who you really are.
Have you ever taken the time to search your own name online? (I’ve worked in the media long enough to know that answer was a very quick “yes”). Do the search again through the prism of a prospective employer. What does your Google search say about you?
Know Your Contract
It is imperative to have someone in your corner who knows what your contract says about your rights and the company’s rights in termination. In truth, it is imperative to have someone in your corner who knows what your entire contract says. Trust me, the radio company you work for has a very good attorney that knows what your contract says and they are far more interested in protecting their rights than yours.
Your termination may include a severance check and that check may come with a dance partner. In order to receive the severance, it is almost a guarantee you have to sign an accompanying document. Do you have any way of knowing what you are agreeing to with that signature? Of course not. Have someone in your world who can give you sound advice on how to proceed with that piece of your termination. It may mean it is in your best interest to surrender the severance. You will very likely be in no state of mind to clearly make that decision. Find someone who can be removed from the emotion of the moment.
When you see big radio stations like KNBR in San Francisco making deep cuts, it would only be natural to think your company, your station, may be next. It is never going to be an easy thing to deal with but it will be infinitely more difficult if you are completely unprepared.
Ryan Brown is a columnist for Barrett Sports Media, and a co-host of the popular sports audio/video show ‘The Next Round’ formerly known as JOX Roundtable, which previously aired on WJOX in Birmingham. You can find him on Twitter @RyanBrownLive and follow his show @NextRoundLive.
Barrett Media Names Dave Greene Chief Media Officer, Adds Perry Simon, And Reveals 2024 Plans
“I’ve spent most of the past 8 years reinvesting in content, staff, events, etc. and with Dave Greene on board, I’m confident we’ll take bigger steps in the right direction.”
Apologies in advance for the length of this column. Today is both exciting and important for yours truly. I’ve spent months analyzing every part of our business, interviewing candidates, and I’m anxious to share with our partners and readers what’s on the horizon for BSM and BNM as we get ready to enter 2024 and look ahead to 2025.
When I wrote my eight year anniversary column in September, I alluded to 2023 being a tough year. Business wise we’ve been strong but managing staff, content, and workload has been harder. Just yesterday I had to deal with a writer bolting without notice. It’s a pain in the ass. Creating and installing a content plan is easy, but if the algorithms change and your team isn’t passionate about the work or in the right roles, growth stalls. You either make changes or accept not being able to reach your goals. For me, the latter is not an option. I’m far too driven, invested and excited by what I do to accept the status quo. I expect us to grow, work hard, make a difference, and enjoy it. If it means having to rattle a few cages to get to where we need to be, then that’s what I’ll do.
The hardest part of 2023 has been knowing we had to move through the present to get to the future. I’ve had to be more protective of my time this year, saving it for clients, partners, staff, Summit planning, content analysis, creating advertising packages, and meeting with potential partners, attending business functions, recruiting staff, and taking a greater role in day-to-day content management. I’ve missed out on calls with friends who wanted to chat about the business, and reduced my writing and podcast involvement because it was necessary. BSM and BNM are both healthy, and as others vacated the space or slowed down, we’ve ramped up and continue to invest in strengthening our coverage.
Before I get into the specifics of what lies ahead, I want to recognize Garrett Searight, Alex Reynolds, Andy Drake, and Stephanie Eads for helping to keep the brand on track during the past few months. I also want to thank all of our writers for continuing to create great content. After the BNM Summit concluded in Nashville, there was so much to do and not enough time. Though it forced many of us to take on more than we wanted to, we got through it, and grew our traffic and impact. That’s a credit to our team, and the trust we’ve built with our audience.
Having set the table now, let me share what’s on the horizon, what’s ending, and where we’re hoping to go in 2024.
Chief Media Officer: I’ve gone through a long, extensive process to identify the right leader to help us grow Barrett Media. The conversations started in May and ran through November, and I had a chance to meet a lot of smart, talented people, and learn a lot about the way our brands are viewed by professional candidates. To everyone I had a chance to interact with along the way, thank you for the interest. It was a pleasure connecting with all of you.
But in the end, there was only one job to offer, and I’m excited to announce that we found exactly what we were looking for. It is my great pleasure to introduce Dave Greene as Barrett Media’s new Chief Media Officer.
The experience Dave brings with him to this position is extensive. He’s been an integral part of building the Podcast Heat Network alongside talented pro wrestling podcaster Conrad Thompson. The company has created, distributed, and monetized podcasts featuring star talents such as Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Eric Bischoff, Jim Ross, Mick Foley, Jeff Jarrett and others. Before joining the Podcast Heat Network with Conrad, Dave spent two decades in the radio business, working as a VP/GM, GSM, PD, Owner, and and On-Air talent. He has worked for Audacy, Townsquare Media, Cumulus Media, and Flinn Broadcasting. Among the sports and news brands he’s had the pleasure of helping include KMOX and 590 The Fan in St. Louis, 610 Sports in Kansas City, The Ump and WVNN in Huntsville, and KHMO in Quincy. He’s also served as co-owner and publisher of St. Louis Sports magazine, and was one of our first weekly columnists when we started adding writers in 2017.
When I made the decision to add someone to help me manage the content and grow the company, I knew I’d be looking for a unicorn. I initially sought an Executive Editor but as this process moved along, I realized I needed a leader who provided more than just writing and broadcasting skills. They needed to be adept at content and sales, have a passion and ability to write, connected across the industry, experienced in event creation, and equally as important, they had to know our brands and see growth potential in our business the way that I do.
I took my time with this hire because it was too important to make a rushed or bad choice. Since launching BSM in 2015 and BNM in 2020, I’ve seen other comparable media outlets earn seven to eight figure valuations. We’re not at that level and may never be but I believe we’re on the right track to larger success. Though I have zero interest in selling BSM and BNM, and plan on running this company for 15 more years, it only makes sense to make our brands the best they can be, and elevate our value with each passing year. I’ve spent most of the past eight years reinvesting in content, staff, events, etc. and with Dave on board, I’m confident we’ll take bigger steps in the right direction.
Dave’s immediate focus will be to learn the staff, manage the day-to-day workflow, find and write news stories, add a weekly column, contribute on special projects, and execute our editorial calendar. Additionally he’ll work with Stephanie to improve our sales operation, and collaborate with me on new ways to grow events, traffic, newsletters, and audience data. After previously competing against each other in St. Louis, I’m looking forward to being on the side and working together to maximize the full potential of Barrett Media.
Internal Promotions: In addition to strengthening our team with Dave’s addition, I am equally excited to announce three internal promotions. First, I’m thrilled to elevate Alex Reynolds to the role of Digital Director of Barrett Media. Alex has served as our social media coordinator since August 2022, playing a key role in executing our social media strategy. Moving forward, he will continue overseeing our social media plan, while getting further involved in affiliate marketing, website/content partnerships, newsletter creation, podcast/video production, data analysis, and audience growth strategies for our social channels and newsletters. He will also write a brand new original series, ‘Social Studies‘, which debuts in January on BSM.
The second internal promotion I’m pleased to share involves Derek Futterman. Derek is being officially promoted to the role of Sports Media Reporter. Since joining BSM in May 2021, Derek has learned a ton as a Contributing Editor and News Writer. He started by occasionally writing stories, got further involved with daily news, and in the past few months, has taken on the challenge of writing features on executives and broadcasters. He’s covered industry events, the BSM Summit, established relationships, and continues to grow. I’m eager to help him take another step by having him produce three features per week, contribute to special projects, involving him as our backstage interviewer at the BSM Summit, and having him contribute to daily news, while additionally managing BSM’s Jobs section.
The final internal promotion involves Garrett Searight. Garrett joined us in August 2022 as an Editor, and worked his tail off but learned quickly, this is different from working inside of a radio station. Over the past few months he’s raised his game, and I’m pleased to promote him to Managing Editor of BNM starting January 1st. Garrett will report to myself and our Chief Media Officer while writing daily news, and two weekly features for BNM. He’ll also become the point person for our BNM columnists and features writers. We’ve seen BNM make major strides over the past year despite not having a dedicated leader. I can only imagine how much better the brand will be with Garrett fully focused on it. One thing that isn’t changing, he’ll continue to write his weekly sports media column for BSM, and manage BNM’s Jobs section.
Website Redesigns: You’ve likely noticed that BSM and BNM look different today. We have modified both websites to make it easier to find content. Our main pages are often filled with news stories, making it hard to find things. These new layouts allow us to feature six stories in the main sections, and nine in each of the key lower sections, sports/news radio, sports/news TV, and sports digital/media business. The site will also display better on mobile, and we’ve added a sports betting bar on BSM, conference calendars to the lower right of articles on both sites, and we’ve retained the media stock ticker on BNM. All are available for sponsorship. We’re also turning on the comments to allow readers to chime in on our stories.
BSM Writers: To help us elevate BSM in 2024, we’re adding a few new writers, adjusting roles of a few of our contributors, and saying goodbye to a few of our teammates.
Starting with the additions, I’m excited to welcome Moses Massena as a weekly columnist. Moses is a sports television veteran, who spent 14 years at MLB Network, working as a researcher, segment producer, and producer, winning 7 Sports Emmys for his contributions to “MLB Tonight”. He has also worked a producer at MSG Network, and served as a researcher for FOX & ESPN. His professional television career began with SNY from 2007-2009.
Next, I’m pleased to welcome Jeff Kotuby to BSM as a daily sports television writer. Jeff has written content for many broadcasting and pop culture sites, including The Streamable, eBaum’s World, Twin Galaxies, and more. He has already begun diving in on BSM, and I’m looking forward to our readers becoming more familiar with his contributions in the future.
Moving to the internal adjustments, starting in January, Jordan Bondurant will take on a more defined role writing news stories each night on sports digital matters. Garrett Searight will add local and national sports radio content until Dave has a handle on the daily content, and Peter Schwartz and Demetri Ravanos will continue writing weekly features and helping with original projects. Peter will also add a new monthly feature, ‘Where Are They Now?’, which will run the last week of each month starting in January.
Though most of the news is good, we do have to unfortunately share some bad. Brian Noe and Ricky Keeler will be leaving us at the end of December. Both have been with BSM for a long time and have done a great job for us. In Brian’s case, he was one of the first writers to join BSM in August 2017. We wish both of them well, and appreciate all of the contributions they’ve made to our coverage along the way.
I am still looking to add another weekly sports media columnist to BSM. The ideal candidate will have industry experience, a track record of success, and a passion to write about the business. If you or someone you know fits the bill, send a resume and writing sample to [email protected].
BNM Writers: BSM has earned a strong reputation in sports media circles, and we’re determined to make sure BNM is highly regarded as well. To help us continue making progress, we’re excited to announce a few additions. First, please join me in welcoming Perry Michael Simon to BNM as a weekly columnist. Perry’s column will be published every Thursday on the site starting on December 7th.
Perry served as VP and Editor/News-Talk-Sports/Podcast for AllAccess.com after previously working as a Program Director and Operations Manager for KLSX and KLYY in Los Angeles and New Jersey 101.5 in Trenton. His contributions to All Access were excellent, and his knowledge of the industry, and his willingness to challenge it helped many broadcasters learn, adjust, defend, and grow to appreciate his point of view. After a well deserved break following the shutdown of All Access, Perry is refreshed, refocused, and ready to offer his smart, snarky, and strong opinions on the media business. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for our readers.
In addition, BNM is pleased to announce the arrival of Krystina Alarcon Carroll. Krystina joins us in a hybrid role, writing two weekly features and adding a weekly column. She freelances currently for WPIX in New York and previously worked on live, streamed, and syndicated TV programs at NY1, Fox News Digital, Law & Crime Network, and Newsmax. We’re excited to add her to our team, and you can read her first story today on BNM.
As our readers recently learned, we’ve unfortunately had to say goodbye to Jim Avila. Jim did an excellent job for BNM but a great television opportunity came his way, and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward. Ryan Hedrick has also exited. I’m accepting resumes and writing samples from industry pros who have a passion to write daily news TV stories and weekly features. If interested, click here. We have more evaluations to make in the next month to make sure we’re built for success entering 2024. One thing for certain, we are going to keep building BNM and make sure news/talk media professionals have a daily destination to visit and enjoy reading about their format and business.
Two New Newsletters: Another exciting addition coming in 2024 will be the introduction of two new daily newsletters, the BSM Press Pass, and the BNM Wrap Up. We will distribute both starting on January 2nd. The BSM Press Pass will be delivered daily at 5pm ET. The BNM Wrap Up will go out at 6pm ET. We’ll have a different look and approach for both, which I think media folks will enjoy and find useful at the end of the work day.
With the arrival of the Press Pass and Wrap Up, we will continue sending out the BSM 8@8 at 8am ET. The BNM Rundown though will move to an earlier time, going out each morning at 9am ET. The same look, structure and valuable content will be available in both. If you haven’t signed up for BSM’s newsletters, go here. If you wish to receive BNM’s newsletters, go here.
Editorial Calendar: When BSM was born, I wrote and created a lot of features and original stories. From 5 Podcasts in 5 Days to the Sports Radio Draft, the Greatest SportsCenter Anchor Tournament, and a full-day spent with Mad Dog Sports Radio, creative pieces performed well for us. But as day-to-day news grew and our staff expanded, we got away from some of that. We’ve still done things like Meet The Podcasters and Countdown to Coverage, and they too have been well received, so in 2024, we’re going to put more focus on original projects on both BSM and BNM. We have an editorial calendar ready for 2024, and will begin reviewing plans on Tuesday during a zoom call with some of our staff. We’ve got some great things planned for BSM and BNM, so keep an eye out for it.
Member Directory: Since April 2020, we’ve featured the BSM Member Directory to help industry professionals and aspiring broadcasters display their work to PDs, agents, executives, etc.. All members receive jobs listings by email a few times per month, get featured in the BSM 8@8 newsletter, are promoted in content when they have career news to share, and our annual subscribers get a 20% discount on BSM Summit tickets. Memberships are $14.99 per month or $149.99 per year. For 2024, we’re going to explore new ways to deliver more value and grow our member base. Dave, Alex and I will be brainstorming ideas this month in hopes of introducing new benefits to existing and future members during Q1.
Jobs Listings: We’re often asked to post Jobs for companies due to our ability to reach the right people. Knowing how hard it is to find good help, and having used LinkedIn, Indeed and other sites myself, I know it’s not cheap. Other trades charge a few hundred dollars per month to promote openings, and starting today, we’re going to do the same except we’re keeping costs low. For $99 per month companies can now promote open positions through our websites. If you click on the Jobs tab on BSM or BNM, you’ll see the latest listings. If you use the dropdown menu and select ‘Place An Ad on BSM/BNM‘ it allows you to submit an ad and get it posted on the site within 24-hours. I’m hoping it’s helpful.
Ratings Reports: I know the ratings matter to PDs, hosts, and executives. Yet many get upset with the ups and downs of measurement. Maybe it’s not perfect, but this is your report card, and whenever we highlight the industry, it benefits broadcasters, advertisers and listeners. We’re going to write quarterly ratings reports next year for both sports and news/talk radio. We will not do monthlies. All I ask is that we receive the PPM Data reports for each quarter so we can be fair and accurate to all. We write these reports to showcase the strength of two valuable formats, and to recognize all who contributed to each brand’s success. Nielsen is still the king when it comes to measurement, and our stations don’t benefit if they don’t promote their wins to the rest of the business world. My thanks to Harker Bos Group for supporting these stories. I look forward to digging into the data to highlight those who are making an impact in 2024.
JB Column and Podcast: I acknowledged earlier that writing columns and hosting podcasts became harder in 2023. That said, I realize I have a voice that matters. Starting in January, I will begin writing a weekly column on BSM. I will also be bringing back The Jason Barrett Podcast for 26 episodes next year. Half of those episodes will focus on sports media. The other half will explore the news/talk space. We will also video the shows and make them available through the Barrett Media YouTube page. If I was going to do the podcast, I wanted to add a new layer to it. I think this will help us do that and I look forward to hosting it in April 2024. It’s possible that we’ll add other podcasts and video shows in the future, but for now, we’re going to take it one show at a time.
Return of Guest Columns: BSM and BNM have featured guest columns before from Craig Carton, Erick Erickson, Dan Zampillo, Mo Egger, and Bo Thompson just to name a few. I’d like see more media people use our platforms to highlight issues or causes that are important to them. Whether you’re an owner, executive, PD, salesperson, media buyer, host, agent, imager, producer, podcaster or social media director, if you have knowledge to share, and interest in writing a one-time guest piece for BSM or BNM, email [email protected].
BNM Top 20/BSM Top 20: Our two biggest traffic drivers of the year, the BSM Top 20 and the BNM Top 20 will continue to serve the sports and news/talk radio industries. A huge thanks to Steve Stone Voiceovers for signing on as the exclusive sponsor of the BSM Top 20, and JJ Surma Voiceovers for coming on board as the exclusive partner of the BNM Top 20. The BNM Top 20 of 2023 drops December 11-15 and December 18. Voting for industry executives expires later today. The BSM Top 20 of 2023 will be released February 5-9 and February 12. Voting for that series will start in late December, early January. We’re also looking at a few additional projects to recognize the best in the industry. More to come on that in 2024.
BSM/BNM Summits: The BSM Summit returns to NYC on March 13-14, 2024. We’ll be live at the Ailey Theater both days, and have announced 16 top speakers so far and have more still to come. You can purchase tickets to the show here. For those in the news/talk world, we’re going to host our second BNM Summit in September 2024. We’ve chosen the host city and venue and hope to announce our plans after wrapping up this year’s BNM Top 20. Running our next show two months before the election is going to be excited. Stay tuned!
For eight years, we’ve grown traffic, influence, events, consulting clients, and our writing team by following a simple philosophy, focus on serving the right audience, not the largest. When you commit to quality over quantity and refuse to chase clicks at the expense of relationships, you land in a much better spot. We are where we are today because of our consulting clients, advertising partners, and earned trust and respect with our readers and industry professionals.
That said, while we have proven our value to top talent, executives, agents, and media buyers, some marketing folks have been harder to reach. Stephanie Eads and I have attended many zoom calls and in-person meetings to share our story, and we’ve created packages large and small to accommodate all budgets. I’m hoping that as we enter 2024, those who have been slow to respond or who have stuck to doing the same things repeatedly, take a chance to discover why BSM or BNM should be part of their media mix.
In closing, I am ecstatic about adding Dave Greene to help us grow BSM and BNM. We have a lot of work ahead of us but I’m confident progress will be made. I appreciate everyone who visits our websites, receives our newsletters, attends our Summits, follows and shares our content on social media, and let’s others know about of our existence. Most importantly, I’m grateful to our consulting clients and advertising partners who give us the support we need to be able to continue doing this. We can’t raise the bar without you, and I’m fortunate to be in this position serving an industry I love, respect, believe in, and root for.
Here’s to Barrett Media’s future. 2024 is going to be awesome, and I’m glad to have you along for the ride!
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at [email protected].