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Mark Tauscher Doesn’t Blink Anymore

“I don’t think I would’ve been confident enough in my radio career to do that when I first got into it, and now I didn’t even blink.”

Brian Noe

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Mark Tauscher has a really cool story. He went from a walk-on at Wisconsin and a Green Bay Packers seventh-round draft pick, to an 11-year NFL career and earning his way into the Packers Hall of Fame.

But wait, there’s more. Tauscher continues his successful run as a sports radio host at 94.5 ESPN Milwaukee. He has teamed up with co-host, Jason Wilde, for six and a half years. In addition to his 9:00 AM-Noon show, Tauscher broadcasts home Wisconsin football games and does a daily morning hit on WTMJ.

Farming was a big part of Tauscher’s childhood. He talks about how doing chores and having a strong work ethic has helped him in life and broadcasting. Tauscher also talks about his funniest Packers teammate, and the former teammate he used to crush on the tennis court. As a former offensive lineman, Tauscher describes his surprising love for all racket sports.

Speaking of surprising, Tauscher explains his rendition of an Eminem rap song. Spoiler alert: he might not be mistaken for Slim Shady 2.0, but it’s the effort that counts. Enjoy!

Brian Noe: How did you initially get into broadcasting?

Mark Tauscher: It’s interesting because growing up in Wisconsin and playing at Wisconsin, I was always a backup. I didn’t do a bunch of media. Even when it was my fifth year at Wisconsin, I played, I still didn’t do a bunch of media. But then when Green Bay drafted me in the seventh round, I started doing more and more.

My dad, after he retired from being a farmer, he got into more media stuff. One of the moments that kind of got me into that, I didn’t think a ton about how it mattered what I sound like, but I got done doing one of my first interviews as a draft pick. I went home a couple of weeks later and my dad had kind of went through and said ‘Hey, some of this stuff, you need to work at this’. I was saying umm a lot, and just a lot of those filler things that you shouldn’t say when you’re doing media stuff.

Then I started getting better. I started doing more stuff. I would do a weekly hit on the Packers season in Wausau, Wisconsin. Then I started doing more stuff like Murphy in the Morning, which is a popular morning show up in Green Bay. Then I started doing some TV stuff. I just kind of naturally got a lot of opportunities I think because obviously I was a Green Bay Packer, but also that I lived in the state. I got more and more comfortable.

Then as my career was winding down, I got some opportunities from some different radio stations to see if this was something that I enjoyed doing, and fortunately I did.

BN: Were you both a Wisconsin and a Packers fan growing up?

MT: Yeah, I was really a Packers fan. When we were on the farm, it was listening on WTMJ to Jim Irwin and Max McGee. When we’d be doing chores, we’d have the Packer game on. We’d go out and get the neighbors, we played football and we’d kind of recreate stuff. The Packers weren’t very good when we were on the farm, but that was always a staple. It was noon, you get back from church, and we were going to listen or watch the Packers game and then go about our day. We’d center stuff around that. I was a huge Packer fan.

As far as the Badgers, not really. But as Barry Alvarez got in, and obviously once they got to the Rose Bowl and played in the game over in Tokyo, that was really when my interest piqued in understanding that this was someplace that people would want to go. That’s when I started following Wisconsin. I think it would’ve been the ‘92 season, ‘93 Rose Bowl. That’s the year that I really started getting into it.

BN: You hear about a lot of Wisconsin football players, how they’ve got that farm strength. Listening to you talk about farming and chores, is there anything related to your childhood and working on a farm that has helped your broadcasting career?

MT: You know, I think for me, getting that foundation and having to work was, as my dad used to always say, cows don’t care about vacations and days off, you have to work every day. One of the things I noticed when I went out to the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp right after I got done playing was, you had a lot on your schedule, but it was easy and it was fun. I think that’s where it was just get me more. I would be willing to take on more and more opportunities.

One of the things that I left with from that boot camp from all of the guys, whether it was Kurt Menefee, or James Brown, or whoever was out there, they always said if you really want to do this, get reps. I don’t care if it’s high school football. I think that was the thing that really set with me; if this is something I want to do, you have to go work just like you’re doing chores on a farm or training to play an NFL season.

It’s obviously a lot easier physically, but I think that mindset from farming allowed me to take that on as a football player, and now as a broadcaster because I think I have that foundation of let’s get to work.

BN: How are you feeling physically after all the wear and tear from 11 years in the NFL?

MT: As you get older, especially when you live in the cold like Wisconsin, there’s stuff that flares up. You knew when you’re playing, you’re going to pay a price. You just hope that that price is more oh, my knee is stiff and arthritic, which mine is, or my shoulder doesn’t feel quite as good as maybe I wished it did.

But as long as I can stay of sound, mind and body, for the most part I feel pretty good. There’s limitations to some things that I can do, but as far as physically for what I went through with a couple of ACLs and a shoulder and everything else, I feel pretty fortunate at 45 to be where I’m at.

BN: What areas do you think you’ve grown the most as a sports radio host?

MT: I think being able to just speak freely. I think when you first get into it — for me at least it was — it’s hard to criticize guys I’ve played a ton of football with. I’m never going to criticize the person, unless you know who that person is, it’s more about just criticizing the player.

I think I’ve gotten a lot better and more comfortable with speaking openly, not being a jerk about it, but just saying exactly what I think, and understanding that that sometimes isn’t going to be viewed upon in a positive way with some certain people. You just hope everybody understands. I feel a lot more comfortable doing that.

I feel more comfortable just being — this sound crazy — just being silly and trying to get outside of the comfort zone. Whether it’s singing or doing a jingle or trying different things and not being afraid to say, you know what, that sucked. I’d rather have something that was completely terrible than something that’s not interesting, or is just blah. I’d rather go on the far end of it and say, you know what, I tried to do an Eminem rap, and maybe some people thought it was god-awful. I felt great after I got done doing it.

BN: [Laughs] Was there a certain Eminem song that you did a rendition of?

MT: Yeah, we did it when the Packers were playing the Lions. The Packers were really struggling. “Lose Yourself” was the song that I went to. I don’t think I would’ve been confident enough in my radio career to do that when I first got into it, and now I didn’t even blink. I was like let’s knock it out, let’s do it.

BN: How would you describe the way listeners and Packer fans react when you are critical?

MT: Well, this is really the first year — other than playoff games, obviously — that you had to really be critical. Especially in the Matt LeFleur era, things have been so good that you didn’t need to really do that. I think Packer fans are very realistic as far as where their team is. There’s almost a little bit of looking around the corner because we haven’t gotten to the ultimate prize over this last decade.

Packer fans are loyal. They’re the best fans out there because they are loyal. But I don’t think there’s any preconceived notions that we’re always going to win every game and everything else. They’re very critical, but then you kind of move on, just like you did when you’re a player, you move on quickly to what’s next.

It really emphasized to me that week-to-week business that the NFL is. Doing this job, you really see the ebbs and flows of emotions from fans. One week, we’re Super Bowl champs, we’re the best team out there. Then you have a bad performance and everybody kind of is like, well, we stink. I actually thoroughly enjoy being that calming voice of saying, this is how the NFL works, it’s not easy to win.

That’s kind of where I feel like I fit into that landscape of being realistic, understanding where the team’s at, and still having that optimism that I have because I always believe in Aaron Rodgers, that he’s going to find a way. It’s finally coming around. It’s taken a lot longer this season than normal, but it is finally starting to come back around.

BN: Especially as a former player of that organization, how surprising is it to you that the Packers are just scratching for a playoff spot right now?

MT: Very surprising, because I think losing Davante [Adams], we all kind of thought that there was going to be a little bit of a drop off. I don’t think anybody anticipated the amount of struggles that the offense was going to have until Christian Watson emerged as that guy. But really it’s the other side of it, and that’s the defensive side of the football.

I was really surprised with how inconsistent that side of the football has been. That’s a big reason. You can look at both sides of it, but I did not think that you’d have a team struggle to score as much as we did early in the season and then struggle as much defensively. But it does feel like things are turning around and hopefully it’s not too late.

BN: There was an episode of the Pardon My Take podcast where Big Cat told Aaron Rodgers that the highlight of the NFL year for him was listening to your show after the Packers lost in the playoffs. What do you remember most about that show?

MT: Well, I think for me, I was shocked because we’re a home team, got the one seed, had a bye, everything was in place for Green Bay to get back to a Super Bowl. Then when that didn’t happen, fans were distraught. I was texting with Big Cat a little bit after that. I think where he really enjoyed it was the amount of just outrageous ideas that Packer fans had. The thing that I think really got him, and what I remember most about taking calls that night, was put a dome over Lambeau, they can’t win in the cold anymore with Aaron Rodgers.

It was the idea that we needed monster changes because we lost this game. He loved the fact listening to Packer fans talk like we had not won anything in quite a while. I think he enjoyed that piece of it. For me, I’m just gonna sit back and let fans vent how they feel because it was a painful night for Packer Nation.

BN: I like that it says racket sport enthusiast on your Twitter bio. I have to know the background of that, what’s that about?

MT: I love playing tennis and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved on to pickleball. I love badminton; I really do love all racket sports. A lot of times you kind of enhance your bio a little bit, put more stuff in, that is 100% legit. I play pickleball three or four days a week. Tennis, I just played. I used to whoop up on Ahmad Green. I would say when I was playing, I was probably the best tennis player on the team.

As a lineman, I know a lot of people don’t play tennis, but I’ve whooped Ahmad Green. Whoever I would play, I would beat. Now, I just was down to visit an old teammate. I’m not going to say his name, but he beat me, so I may have to tinker with my bio a little bit. But I still love playing tennis. I still love trying to play pickleball. Any racket sport, if it’s available, I’ll pick it up and go play.

BN: Of your ex-teammates, who was really, really good at a non-football sport?

MT: Ooo, that’s a really good question. Chad Clifton is a really good horseshoe pitcher. He was good at pitching horseshoes, and I don’t know if that’s just because he was from the South or whatever the case may be, but that was something that I always was amazed by. Korey Hall, one of our old fullbacks, was a fantastic billiards player. He was convinced that he could have been a professional billiards player back when he played. I don’t know if that’s still the case, but those are two that kind of pop out in my head.

BN: I like what you were saying about bringing the fun, bringing the goofy and the zany to a sports radio show. Is there any room for that when you’re doing a Wisconsin game? Can you find a little bit of fun while you’re being mostly serious?

MT: Oh, absolutely. I know our fans come to us to hear about the Badgers and what news is going on. I respect that, but I thoroughly enjoy the other side of it as much if not more. From a broadcasting standpoint, doing a game you obviously have to get the formations and all that stuff, but one of the things I love about working with Matt Lepay is he loves having fun.

Whether it’s making fun of how old Mike Lucas is, or Matt Lepay gets this big lifetime contract, we’ll get after him a little bit, anytime you can just try and infuse something personal and something fun while you’re not taking away from what your job actually is, I always try to do it. It’s funny, people will say I want you to talk about this, this and this.

Well, a lot of times you see from an engagement standpoint, it’s that other stuff that people almost always remember more, and the stuff that I think they enjoy participating in because it’s almost more relative to their life.

BN: While you’re talking about finding the fun in broadcasting, who was the funniest teammate that you had with the Packers?

MT: Oh, man, I’d say it’s always a lineman. I don’t know if anybody will tell you differently. I would say Marco Rivera was really funny. Korey Hall is another guy that I think is incredibly funny, but I’m gonna go with Chad Clifton, man. I don’t know if there’s anybody that makes me laugh more than what Chad does.

BN: Would Chad Clifton make you laugh while he was crushing people in horseshoes?

MT: Chad Clifton makes me laugh at pretty much anything he does. He doesn’t even try to be funny, and he’s funny.

BN: When you look back at your football career and also your broadcasting career, with as many opportunities and achievements that you’ve had, what’s at the top of the list where you say, man, that was the number one moment of my career?

MT: I think from a football standpoint, just getting that first start at Lambeau Field is probably something because I didn’t ever think that was going to be possible. And when that was able to happen, I had my family and friends there. Then getting inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame was a huge deal for me and for my family.

From a broadcasting standpoint, man, we’ve been so fortunate whether it’s to have our quarterbacks that I played with jump on air with us. We’ve had Cindy Crawford jump on. It’s been really fun to be able to sit down and do stuff that’s more outside of football with some of those cats that I’ve really enjoyed from a broadcasting standpoint.

BN: When you look at the future of your broadcasting career, what are some things that you would like to accomplish as you look forward over the next five years?

MT: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think about that a lot, and especially with the new year here. Yeah, I think when I got into it, I was always hoping to just make sure I was having fun. But I think you always want to look at what is out there from a national perspective and you’re always kind of looking at that. I’ve done some stuff with ESPN on a national standpoint, whether it’s filling in for Ian Fitzsimmons or Freddie Coleman. I don’t know where that would take me other than do I want to do more game day stuff. I think the answer to that is yes.

I want to do more stuff that involves being at the stadium, doing it and feeling that energy. You’re never going to replace playing, but being at the stadium and being there doing it on site, that’s the closest thing you can get in this industry.

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BSM Writers

Meet The Bettors: Jeremy Stein, SportsGrid

“You know, when we first started SportsGrid, a lot of the opportunity that we’ve seen in the past year, are opportunities that we never would have dreamed about.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Meet the Bettors - Jeremy Stein

Remember when America was debating whether or not daily fantasy sports was a form of gambling? There was never much of a question for Jeremy Stein. He knew it was gambling, because he was playing all the time.

It’s hard to say whether or not he knew that his employer, Metamorphic Ventures, investing in one of these companies would lead him down a new career path. All he knew is that there was something to this business.

Stein was more than just kind of successful in the daily fantasy world. He became the first person to ever win a million-dollar prize twice in the same calendar year back in 2016. But that was in the early days. Soon, the DFS sites would become more popular, and the games would get a lot harder. 

Like many sharp players during that time, Stein leaned into data to set his lineups. It was something that he and his partner Lou Maione quickly recognized as an opportunity. If you had strong data and took it to a host that was entertaining, it would create a product every sports fan in the country might value.

And that is how SportsGrid was born.

Today, Stein is the company’s CEO. In our conversation, presented by Point to Point Marketing, we touch on the opportunities embracing FAST TV has created for the brand, what opportunities will arise from the growth of women’s sports, and so much more.

Demetri Ravanos: What is the hole that would exist in the market if SportsGrid went away tomorrow? What segment of bettors do you look at and say, “no one can serve them like we do”?

Jeremy Stein: That’s a really interesting question because, we had a few tailwinds at SportsGrid. The first was sports gambling, where the government flipped the switch and said, “go grow in ways that you never thought were imaginable,” right?           

The second tailwind that we have is connected TV. SportsGrid is on 95% of all connected TVs. We have over thirty different distribution partners throughout the United States. So, we have very considerable scale within our category, and what we kind of discovered very early on on TV is the bulk of content on connected TVs is playback. If you look at FAST channels, there’s probably 2000 or more of them at this point, a lot of them are single IP channels, meaning there’s been a very successful sitcom and that IP owner just has a 24/7 channel of that IP going.          

The real niche that we got in on early on is that we are the only live sports network on a lot of these platforms. So, while we do cater to gambling enthusiasts, if you will, we really have a viewership body that encompasses all sports fans. That’s part of how we have evolved over time, because we were able to pick up on that observation that our opportunity is just a little bit bigger than focusing on, I’m not going to call it a narrow vertical, but sports betting in many respects is a little bit narrow. 

DR: It’s a niche vertical. I think all sports talk kind of is in that way. I was going to ask you about the appeal of FAST TV, but it seems like you laid it out perfectly there. So instead, let’s talk about the technology and future opportunities. I wonder if you look at what Roku has just done with Major League Baseball and think that opens up possibilities for SportsGrid that maybe you hadn’t considered before. 

JS: The simple answer to that is yes. When we first started SportsGrid, a lot of the opportunity that we’ve seen in the past year, are opportunities that we never would have dreamed about. We have looked at live rights. We have looked at tier one live rights in the past year.           

It just goes back to the trend. Last year was the first year where homes that do not subscribe to cable outnumbered those that do. You know, now we don’t just have a term called cord cutters. We also have a term that’s called cord-nevers. I think that it is just the natural evolution of where the leagues are going to go.           

I mean, we just saw Netflix do a deal with the NFL. While I understand that that is not FAST. I do think that over time and, this could be a decade in the future, but I do think that you will see, a lot more sports pop up on these platforms. 

DR: Yeah, I can see that myself. What did Scott Ferrall bring to SportsGrid when he came in? Certainly name recognition, but what else, in a business sense, did he add? 

JS: Scott is great and his show right now is sponsored by Bet MGM, and Bet MGM is a very important commercial partner for SportsGrid. Both sides are very happy with the way that relationship is blossoming. So he’s very important in that respect.           

You know, SportsGrid is not just 18 hours of live video content on a daily basis. We’re 21 hours of live original audio. We have channel 159 on Sirius XM. And of course, Scott is by far and away our biggest talent in the audio category. He does have the Sirius XM audience. You know, he came from Howard Stern way back in the day. So, he’s a pretty dynamic talent, if you will, for SportsGrid. We’ve been very happy to leverage him in various ways. 

DR: I sort of have a two-part question here, because doing what I do, when I go to SportsGrid.com, one of the first landing spots for me is industry news. How much do you think the average user of SportsGrid is interested in things like when states go legal, something like the pushback going on in Florida right now, and will that get to the Supreme Court from a media standpoint?           

I tell sports radio hosts all the time that people care far less about us than we think they do. What about in the gambling world? 

JS: News is a very big category, and obviously it’s broad, right? It’s not just general sports news. It is what is happening in the gambling industry. We are fortunate enough to have a lot of data on every show that we produce, and we have seen a lot of positive momentum uncovering specific industry news. So, a lot of what you actually see, on the web, for example, we believe that is largely a gap in the market based on our viewership.           

One thing you’re going to start to see on SportsGrid, more and more is we launched a college transfer portal show. There is no major media outlet on broadcast television that is doing a dedicated show, relating specifically to the college transfer portal. It makes college football and college basketball year-round sports. We believe that that’s a big gap in the market. So, you’ll also see a lot of that content flowing through our website too, and not just on our website, but also a lot of our syndication partners like MSN.           

Everything we do here has a data driven focus. So if you’re seeing a lot of a specific vertical, there’s a reason for it. It’s largely because that’s what our viewers demand. 

DR: Interesting. So, from the standpoint of what is going on in the gambling industry, the idea of the Supreme Court taking up a case related to Florida is interesting because it is such a complicated issue there, as it involves the Indian Gaming Act. Do you think we’re going to see that go in front of the Supreme Court? 

JS: Look, I’m certainly not in a position to comment on a legal matter that I’m not really close to, to be perfectly honest with you. But Florida is a very populous state, and that is another reason, to your point, why there is so much interest in it, right?           

I think it does speak to the fact that there is a real demand for sports wagering within the state of Florida. But look, the complexities and nuances behind all of the lobbying and a lot of the legal cases that are happening there are certainly beyond our scope. 

DR: I was reading an article in the Miami Herald earlier this week that was talking about the effect Lionel Messi has had in betting markets around the world, because even if MLS isn’t on a country’s soccer radar, he certainly is. Can you think of any other athlete that has had that sort of effect on bettors or on his league, where he can get bettors to pay attention to something they usually would not? 

JS: I think the examples of that are probably few and far between. You know, soccer is one of the true international sports, and with that comes a very large betting market. I think it is certainly kind of unique in that sense, right? You’re not going to see that with an NBA player moving into the Chinese basketball league. You might see the media attention that kind of happens there. It’s certainly not going to drive the amount of betting handle that we have seen in soccer. 

DR: What about betting as the popularity of women’s sports and female athletes have increased? What has been the demand for content from you guys, whether it’s Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut, the women’s NCAA tournament, or whatever it might be? 

JS: There’s a ton of demand. We’ve always had an interest in women’s sports. We’ve produced, in the past, shows for the WNBA. And I think that that demand is only going to continue to grow. Women’s sports, from an economic standpoint, is a huge area of growth. Alongside of that comes all of the viewership. So, we’re very excited, about women’s sports. You’ll absolutely see a lot more coverage from SportsGrid going forward. 

DR: So I want to wrap with a follow up to that, because the way you guys think about creating content with providing that data to talented people that can command attention, as women’s sports grow in popularity, and it then becomes more and more of a part of what you do. Do you foresee the people you have now, because they have the talent, being able to intelligently cover it or would you  have to go out and hire people more versed in and live in that world? 

JS: It’s a little bit of both. You know, you always want to find a talent that resonates with the audience. We’re pretty confident that we have a few of those in our stable. But of course, we will always look to bring in fresh faces. Yeah, it’s a really dynamic market, and it’s something that we are incredibly excited about. 

To learn more about Point-To-Point Marketing’s Podcast and Broadcast Audience Development Marketing strategies, contact Tim Bronsil at [email protected] or 513-702-5072.

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BSM Writers

An Easy Way for Sports Radio Stations to Get Publicity for Their Talent and Brands

The truth is, we can do a much better job at our jobs with a little help from you.

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Stock photo of a person talking into a megaphone
Credit: Pexels.com

Having been in this role with Barrett Sports Media for almost six months, there is one thing that has really surprised me. I am shocked at how little we hear from some sports radio stations. There are some PDs and other executives out there who do a great job keeping us informed of any changes and one or two who send us information when they have something special going on, but the silence from the heavy majority of leaders in sports radio is shocking and confusing to me.

When I was running stations or sales teams, I would often say, “If we aren’t going to tell our story, who the heck else is going to do it for us?”

Well, in this case, we will do it for you if you let us know about it and it’s worthy of coverage. It’s like that other famous line in Jerry Maguire – “Help me, help you.”

Perhaps we just need to let you know what we are looking for. So, let me take this time and space to let you know and maybe we can work together more often moving forward.

Obviously, we will cover your major personnel changes. If you are adding someone to your team or giving someone a promotion for the hard work they have done, let us know about it. There are no stories we would like to tell more than ones about people in our industry advancing. We want to highlight those people and the stations and companies that are taking notice of what someone is doing and rewarding them for it.

Where are the rising stars? We profile many people in the industry and enjoy doing that so others can read about successful people and learn what it is that makes them stand out. This can be a weekday host, someone standing out during off-peak times or producers, digital or promotions staff. Let us know who is performing at a high level and perhaps we can feature them and tell their story so others can see who they are and the work they’ve done.

On the business side, I’d like to feature your top salespeople or sales leaders in one of my ‘Seller to Seller’ features. Let me know someone who is killing it out on the streets and let’s highlight their success. Personally, I’d love to write about some sellers who are fairly new to the industry but are really having success, whether that be a younger person hired or someone who had never been in the space before but has really caught on. Or who is your veteran seller who has done the best job of adapting to the new, digital world?

What is your station doing that is unique? There are a couple of stations, which you can probably figure out if you are paying attention, that are very good about sending us a quick note when they are doing something different or special. We may not always write a story about it, but several times we have, and we would not have known about it had the station management not given us a heads up.

I like to hear about the creative process, and I know other station managers appreciate learning what others are doing to creatively drive audience or revenue. Have someone in your building who is the creative brain behind many of your ideas? Let us know about them, let’s let everyone know about them.

We are here to cover the industry. It would be great if we could listen to all of your stations each and every day, but that would be impossible. Plus, you know what is about to happen so getting the information out to us beforehand can help us plan our coverage. The truth is, we can do a much better job at our jobs with a little help from you. I know everyone is busy but think about what it would mean to a staff member for someone to reach out and say, ‘Your boss told us about the great work you’ve been doing,’ or ‘We heard about the great idea you came up with, we want to tell the story about what you created.’

I’d also like to do more stories that relate to things you have to deal with on a day-to-day basis, stories that can be written that others may look at and learn something from, maybe get a tip on how to handle a particular situation or just get your thoughts on a particular media story. I plan to reach out to more of you to get your thoughts on things happening in our industry. You are the leaders who are there to take this format into the future, I want to know what you think, and I believe that is what our readers want as well.

When you take a step back and think about what we get to do for a living, that we all get to be in and around sports coverage in our communities, that’s pretty cool. Let’s work together to help advance the format by keeping people up to date on the great things going on in sports radio.

I am not hard to reach. My email is [email protected] and while I know several of you, the majority I do not know, but I’d like to. Reach out, let me know what’s happening at your station, send over a topic you want to hear what others might think about or let’s just connect and next time I’m looking for someone to give their thoughts and opinions, perhaps I can reach out to you as a thought leader in the space.

The invitation is there to get your station, your people and your successes highlighted. I don’t think I can make it more clear or easier. I hope you take advantage of it.

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The Best Thing I Heard Recently

I was flipping through SiriusXM last week and caught Mike Florio talking on Pro Football Talk Live about the NFL schedule release and the topic was whether or not it is fair for certain teams to have so many stand-alone games.

Florio’s point was that these games have “an extra layer of stress and strain.” Despite the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl last year with a prime-time heavy schedule, Florio used the Jets early season schedule as the best example of the league making it very tough on a team with quick turnarounds, international travel and several stand-alone games.

The segment really made you think. You can listen to the show by clicking here. Look for Episode 1956.

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In Case You Missed It

Last week, Andy Masur weighed in on what might happen to Inside the NBA now that it appears TNT will lose the NBA media rights. Andy says he is convinced the show only works on TNT and others have agreed saying networks like NBC probably wouldn’t allow the show to have as much freedom as TNT has.

About the current show, Masur wrote, “This show is the envy of all other studio shows. Other networks have tried to copy the formula but have failed. It’s really hard to duplicate what this show brings to the viewer.”

You can read Andy’s article by clicking here.

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One Mistake by a Sports Broadcaster Should Not Define Their Career

Look, it doesn’t mean that these broadcasters are horrible human beings.

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Photos of Glen Kuiper, Charissa Thompson and Thom Brennaman

We’ve seen numerous broadcasters lose, his/her job over the years because of slip ups, hot mics and misspeaks. Situations that could have been avoided but happened. Some of these cases are more prominent than others, due to the profile of the job lost and the nature of the words said by the sports broadcaster.

I bring this up because of the dubious anniversary that just passed. It was a year ago, that Glen Kuiper was fired by the Oakland A’s for the use of the “N-word” during the opening of a telecast. The A’s were in Kansas City and Kuiper spoke about his trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with broadcast partner Dallas Braden during a pregame segment on NBC Sports California. Kuiper attempted to say, “We had a phenomenal day today, Negro League Museum and Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque,” but he mispronounced “negro,” in a way that sounded like a racial slur.

“A little bit earlier in the show, I said something that didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it to. I just wanted to apologize if it sounded different than I meant it to be said… I just wanted to apologize for that.” Kuiper said during the game.

After initially being suspended, Kuiper was let go May 22, 2023. This even after Negro League Museum President Bob Kendrick forgave him in a Tweet the night of the incident.

“I’m aware of the unfortunate slur made by Glen Kuiper. I welcomed Glen to the NLBM yesterday and know he was genuinely excited to be here,” Kendrick tweeted Saturday. “The word is painful and has no place in our society. And while I don’t pretend to know Glen’s heart, I do know that my heart is one of forgiveness. I hope all of you will find it in yourselves to do the same.”

Still teams don’t have a lot of choice but to suspend and/or fire the broadcaster in those cases. Slurs aren’t acceptable. Teams serve their entire fanbase, not just one specific race or gender. Offensive language about one is handled as offensive language about all. It’s a tough thing for teams to deal with for sure.

About 4 years ago, the Cincinnati Reds and their television flagship were put in a similar situation after an unfortunate on-air slip by broadcaster Thom Brennaman. The veteran announcer issued an on-air apology after he was caught uttering a gay slur on a mic he didn’t realize was on. Like with Kuiper, Brennaman was at first suspended and then fired. It also cost him his national job with Fox Sports.

Brennaman tried to grow from the experience and soon after he was pulled from the air, he heard from some folks in the LGBTQ+ community. From all over the country. Brennaman met with leaders of the community in Cincinnati. In one of those meetings, he encountered some who thought he was a fraud, just trying to get his job back. Brennaman was not. He has spent the last four years continuing to move forward.

He told me in 2022, “I don’t want the rest of my life or career to be defined by a lot of people as being a homophobe. That’s what I’ve tried to explain to my kids”. “There are going to be people and I’ve had a hard time coming to grips with this, because I know I am not a homophobe. I know I’m not. But I used a word that can put me in that category and some people are never going to let me out of that category. I wish they didn’t feel that way, and I know I’m not a homophobe, but you got to move on and keep doing the best you can, that’s all you can do.”

This is not a recent phenomenon either. Broadcasters in the 80’s, 90’s and into the 2000’s have also been let go for unsavory comments.

Many remember Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, who appeared as the ‘gambling expert’ on the early days of The NFL Today on CBS. He was let go in 1988 after making a racially insensitive comment to a reporter.

Steve Lyons, then of MLB on Fox was fired for a making a racially insensitive comment during Game 3 of the 2006 ALCS.

Danyelle Sargent dropped an F-bomb on national television after ESPNEWS experienced technical difficulties during her segment in 2006.

Emily Austen was a Fox Sports Reporter that was fired in 2016 for making insensitive remarks about Mexican, Jewish and Chinese people. She appeared on a Barstool sports podcast where she made the comments.

The list goes on and on.

Interestingly enough, Charissa Thompson wasn’t fired for admitting that she made up stories as part of her halftime reporting duties. She also appeared on a Barstool podcast and flippantly remarked how she did this early in her career. I know she didn’t insult a racial, religious or gender related group, but she certainly upset many in the industry. Especially those that cover the sidelines for various networks right now. Should ethics count the same as the other slip ups?

Some can get carried away when appearing on shows other than their own, like the example above with Austen and Thompson. There’s a callousness that pops up in the brain, saying, “this isn’t a network show, I can swear and be myself”. Dangerous thoughts to say the least. You are still representing your organization/network and yourself when appearing on these other shows and podcasts.  

Look, it doesn’t mean that these broadcasters are horrible human beings. Everybody makes a slip up. Broadcasters though are looked at in a different manner. They are the voices of our favorite sports and are supposed to be like a member of the family, right? We spend a lot of time with them during the season and feel like we get to know them.  So, it becomes that much more shocking when that person says something inappropriate.

The initial shock and awe of the situation causes many to rush to a certain judgement. There’s no getting around what was said, everybody heard it. Should a ‘slip up’ be a career death sentence though? I think that each should be taken into consideration separately. It also depends, to me, on the apology and what that broadcaster does to go beyond words to understand why the comments were hurtful.

I’m not sure what the correct answer is to all of this.

There are some that feel, instead of firing the broadcaster, suspend them and make them work to regain the trust of the team and network. They feel like there is a missed opportunity to maybe use these situations as an educational platform.

Broadcasters need to watch themselves much more closely these days. The second you say something incorrect, ridiculous or hurtful, it’s on social media. There is no escape. You are presumed guilty in the court of public opinion before you can even blink an eye.

In these moments, context and apology is everything. One slip up, mistake, misspeak or whatever you want to call them, is one too many. But, at the same time, long illustrious careers should not be defined by one incident.

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