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Noah Eagle Brings a Hardcore Attitude Everywhere

“It wasn’t necessarily the glitz and glamor. It was the relationships; it was the preparation; it was the craft.”

Derek Futterman



If you have ever been on a job interview, the thought of having to field questions from a hiring manager or executive can be intimidating – especially if it is in your first search for a job, internship or some professional occupation. At the end of his interview for a broadcast position with the Los Angeles Clippers, Noah Eagle was given the opportunity to ask questions in return. He asked what qualities the team was looking for in a broadcaster. His interviewer looked him dead-on in the eyes and replied, “Someone who’s hardcore.”

His interviewer happened to be former Microsoft CEO, business mogul, and Clippers Owner and Chairman Steve Ballmer. Eagle had taken a business trip across the country to partake in this interview as one of the finalists to join the Clippers’ broadcast team out of college.

Eagle, 25, had prepared for this moment from the time he was young growing up around his father: sportscaster Ian Eagle. Whether it was through osmosis or inquisitiveness, Noah became infatuated with sports media at the age of 13 and knew he would find a way to work in the field. On top of that, he knew he had limited athletic ability and yearned to find a way to remain involved in the world of sports.

“I saw him every morning wake up and be excited to go to work; to be excited to do the prep; to be excited to interact with people,” Eagle said of his father. “That’s what drew me to it. It wasn’t necessarily the glitz and glamor. It was the relationships; it was the preparation; it was the craft.”

Eagle was ambitious and adopted a growth mindset, looking to parlay his early experience accompanying his father at games and knowledge regarding how to conduct himself in a professional environment to move ahead in the industry.

On top of that, he began to study his father and other broadcasters to try and determine what made them stand out from others. He would then identify unique parts of their styles and incorporate them into his own. Moreover, he asked his father to provide his opinion on certain aspects of his findings, accessibility to a professional that helped him immensely in his development.

“I was fortunate with him that then I had somebody to bounce that off to now share my findings with and say, ‘Is this how you see it? How do you think that this could work?,’ and he’s always there,” Eagle said of his father. “I know that’s not just for me. He’s that way with a lot of people; a lot of young broadcasters [and] he’s very gracious with his time. I was very fortunate for so many reasons and him being probably the number one reason on that list.”

As a high school student, Eagle recognized his abilities as a public speaker and sought to develop them by serving on the school’s student council and writing the sports column in its newspaper. Yet Eagle did not genuinely immerse himself in sports media until he reached college, but the process of selecting Syracuse University, a place where both of his parents matriculated, was not a foregone conclusion from the start of his college search.

After his first visit to Syracuse, on a day where it was 75 degrees Fahrenheit, he did not believe he could go there simply because it did not feel right to him. His parents were determined in helping him find a place where he would be comfortable and that had a robust sports media program; therefore, they traveled to several schools throughout the country including UCLA, Indiana, and Miami.

Yet Syracuse was always in the back of his mind as a potential landing spot and he gave the school a second chance by visiting before the start of his senior year of high school. During that visit though, his mother gave him an experience deviating from the standard recruitment proceedings during which she took him on a personalized tour of the school from her perspective as a former student.

“About 15 minutes into our drive home… she said, ‘Well, what do you think this time?,’” Eagle remembered. “I said I would apply early decision. It was just that extra viewing of some of the other spots…. [and] that feeling [that] you know it’s the right spot for you.”

From the moment he began at Syracuse University, Eagle’s goal was to join the campus radio station, WAER-FM, as soon as he possibly could. He arrived early to the information session, adding his name on a list with an indefatigable mindset of doing whatever it would take to quickly establish himself and gain experience. Syracuse University is well-known for its alumni network in sports media, attracting many students to its campus each year. As a result, it is a competitive environment in which students gain real-world experience and are required to go the extra mile to earn air time.

“I think the competitive nature pushes you to be the best version of yourself every day just because you know the man or woman next to you is doing the same thing,” Eagle said. “It is also very supportive. Everybody, at least in my experience, is supportive and wants to see everybody succeed. That’s a healthy competition; a healthy drive to be the best.”

Part of joining WAER-FM was having to wake up at the crack of dawn once per week to go to the station to record a sportscast that would not hit the airwaves. He knew from his father, who initially decided not to join the station because of it, that it was a necessary inconvenience to embrace and make the most of.

From there, he called Syracuse Orangemen basketball, football and lacrosse games on the station and became involved with other student media outlets such as CitrusTV and Z89 (WJPZ-FM). Eagle not only sought to develop his skills in sports broadcasting, but also in performing other types of roles in media – including anchoring news coverage and in-arena hosting for events ranging from new student welcomes to midnight madness.

“Every sport; every category; anything else in-between – I just said, ‘Give it to me. I’ll try the challenge. I’ll see if I can make it work,’” Eagle said. “That was the best thing I did because it allowed me to learn what I really like; what I really don’t like; what I want to do long term and then I went from there.”

During his early days at Syracuse University though, Eagle decided not to use his last name, introducing himself to colleagues and friends simply as ‘Noah.’ Once his father heard this, he had a conversation with his son that changed his perspective, saying he had nothing to be ashamed of and that he should embrace his roots. On top of that, it was and remains best practice to divulge your surname in professional environments.

“I should be very proud not just of him but of my mom and my sister and where I come from and the people [who] came before us and the generation before us,” Eagle said. “I shouldn’t run away from that.  He’s well known as a really good person, first and foremost, and that’s what I care about more than anything else. I am proud to be attached to that and I am proud to continue that legacy the best I can.”

In his junior year, Eagle had the opportunity to host his own radio show on SiriusXM’s ESPNU and ACC channels. Moreover, he covered events for NBA Entertainment, such as the NBA Summer League, NBA Draft Lottery, and the G-League Winter Showcase – and worked at the U.S. Open for the Tennis Channel. Gaining this professional experience helped further enhance his portfolio and made him a multi-faceted, skilled broadcaster on the marketplace – although he did not remain there very long if at all.

Eagle became just the second Syracuse University graduate to start broadcasting in the NBA immediately after his graduation (Greg Papa joined the Indiana Pacers’ broadcast team out of college in 1984). Just how this all came together was a combination of extraordinary talent and timing, the latter which was simply out of his control.

As an undergraduate senior, Eagle was told to send his résumé and demo reel to Olivia Stomski, the director of the Newhouse Sports Media Center at Syracuse University. He was not aware that the opening was to broadcast games for the Clippers, but nonetheless provided the materials requested from him. 

Approximately a month-and-a-half later, Eagle received a call from a Los Angeles area code on his cell phone. After some initial hesitation regarding answering the call, he decided to accept and heard Nick Davis, vice president of production for FOX Sports West and Prime Ticket, on the other end. He told him that the network was looking to compile a new broadcast team for the Clippers and that they were interested in flying him in to Los Angeles to audition for the television play-by-play job.

Following calling a pre-recorded Clippers game against the Boston Celtics, he flew back to Syracuse, unclear of how he had done – but if anything, had just gained invaluable real-world experience in landing a job. It turns out he did well enough to make it to the next round of interviews, which would be with team owner Steve Ballmer, and possessed the same mindset that even if he did not land the job, he at least was becoming familiar with the process of a job search.

“I went in with this mentality and I think it helped me because the nerves were just gone,” Eagle said. “I didn’t have any nerves. I walked in there and just said, ‘I’m going to be me and whatever happens happens.’ I got very fortunate in that point just because whatever I did worked. Once I realized that whatever I did worked, I just kept doing it.”

Once he concluded his interview with Ballmer, Eagle remembered calling his parents and saying that he was unsure if he would land the job, but at least he was completely honest rather than telling the team owner what he wanted to hear. Speaking with candor and probity kept Eagle grounded, refusing to abandon his moral principles throughout the process of trying to land a coveted role in the country’s second-largest media marketplace.

“Steve is probably the smartest guy in every room that he’s in, but you would never know it,” Eagle said. “He’s very normal [and] just down-to-earth. He wants knowledge; he’s naturally curious [and] genuine. He was asking me questions and actually wanted to know the answers, [such as,] ‘What do you think of the future of broadcasting? Where do you think this is going? Do you take classes on this? How do you feel about this?’”

In addition to his work with the Clippers Noah Eagle has served as the preseason voice of the Los Angeles Chargers Photo provided by Eagle

In the end, the organization decided to move radio play-by-play announcer Brian Sieman to the television broadcast, replacing Ralph Lawler. That created an opening on the radio side, distributed to multiple broadcast outlets on terrestrial and digital platforms, and one the organization decided Noah Eagle was best suited to fill. As soon as he received the formal job offer, Eagle emphatically accepted and prepared to make the move across the country to the “City of Angels.”

As is in the case in most new jobs, there is a lot to quickly grasp and learn to effectively perform your role. Having his father as a resource was especially helpful in determining how to best prepare, conduct himself and adjust to his new lifestyle. Whenever he did not know what to do, he fell back on Ballmer’s answer of being “hardcore,” and that state of being uncomfortable began from the onset – as Eagle was hired to do the games solo.

“It’s not just by yourself for a game or two; it’s 82 games plus preseason plus playoffs,” Eagle said. “That part was the most daunting where I looked at it and it’s like, ‘How am I going to fill an entire game alone?’ Now I look at it and laugh that I was even ever questioning it because it’s just become second nature.”

Keeping an audience interested and focused on the game throughout the duration of a radio broadcast can be difficult with the amount of external distractions and sources of entertainment available to consumers today.

For Eagle, broadcasting in a city with regular congestion and standstill traffic jams certainly works to his benefit. However, sports are far from the only format on terrestrial and satellite radio – plus there are audiobooks, podcasts and other forms of aural entertainment with which to compete. As a result, Eagle does his best to make the broadcast sound as if there are multiple voices behind the microphone telling the story of the game, almost maintaining different characters.

“Most people that talk to [themselves] get labeled as insane; I get paid to do it,” Eagle remarked. “It’s a pretty good gig [and] I’m lucky [that] I’ve got good people around me. I’ve got a lot of help from engineers and our host Adam Auslund does great work.”

When Eagle was broadcasting within the auspices of a college radio station, the broadcasters were often relegated to locations with vantage points that were not always the easiest to work with. A part of Eagle’s development, therefore, was to find other ways to see the game and depict what was going on to the audience.

Although the vantage points for NBA broadcasts are usually better than those at the college level, they do not all have an unimpeded view of the game. Oddly enough, it gives Eagle somewhat of an advantage over more seasoned broadcasters placed in a similar situation – as he is not too far removed from participating in college broadcasts.

“[In] my first year, I was still so conditioned in that it was like second nature,” Eagle said. “Now I’ve only gotten better with it because I know…. you have to rely on all those tricks that you had learned for yourself over the years.”

Attempting to humanize the game on the court is part of how Eagle has contributed to the rapid and sustained growth of the game of basketball, helping the sport dominate the conversation whether or not games are on the slate. He has also helped foster lifelong connections between the players and the fans both as a radio broadcaster and host of several events for the team.

“Basketball has been a passion of mine since I was a kid,” Eagle said. “Being around the NBA and my dad from a very young age helped spark that love for the game. I played it as long as I could through high school and I was around it as much as I could be.”

Social media permits the real-time transmission of the game through highlights, which generally get posted right away. It is the broadcasters, though, who provide the soundtrack to the moments on the screen mixed with the mellifluous tones of a zealous crowd. Eagle remembers the excitement of his first regular season broadcast with the Clippers in a matchup against the rival Los Angeles Lakers; in fact, he took his headset off to look around and take in the atmosphere at Arena, simultaneously adjusting to his new home court.

“The one good thing… of me starting when I was so young is they’re used to that in L.A. They’ve had a lot of people do that,” Eagle said. “….I think people were just looking forward to what my career was going to turn into – whether that was staying in one spot or doing all these other things. I think people just were there to root [for my] success.”

Now in his fourth season with the team, Eagle has had the chance to call various memorable moments both in the regular season and in the playoffs. With a robust roster including superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, along with a new arena in the Intuit Dome projected to be just a couple of years away from opening, Eagle will provide the dialogue and effectively write the words to all of the action surrounding the team.

It is crucial, though, that Eagle dictates the action rather than letting the action dictate him. Sure, Eagle cannot impact what happens on the court in real time – but what he can do is stay on top of each play, give the location of the ball and try to anticipate what may happen in advance to be ready to make an appropriate call. All of that occurs while being ready to adjust to unforeseen action at a moment’s notice and being authentic in his love of the game and the craft.

“You can sense when someone has control of the action or control or command of the broadcast,” Eagle said. “That’s crucial and it comes with just more and more reps. It comes with practicing and doing it and having a better understanding of, ‘Oh, I need to push it here. I need to pull it back here.’”

Those traits of a play-by-play announcer carry over to announcing gigs outside of the Clippers, although the preparation process differs by sport. Eagle closely follows the Clippers throughout the regular season, making it easier to stay informed about the latest going on with the team down to the minute details.

Conversely when he is broadcasting NFL on FOX games, Los Angeles Chargers preseason games, or college football matchups on FS1, he has to learn the players on the roster, read about the current events of the team, watch press conferences and speak to the coaches to get a broad picture of the team itself.

“I was around the Syracuse football team all the time,” Eagle said. “I knew those guys inside and out; I knew about those guys inside and out. Now you’re preparing for two teams altogether and you’ve got 100 kids essentially on a football roster in college. It’s a lot; there’s a lot more work and just a lot more to learn.”

NFL football, according to Eagle, is the sport most optimal for television broadcasts because of its regular cadence established from the opening kickoff. On the other hand, college football teams often play a hurry-up offense, requiring broadcasters to be set for a play to commence at any moment.

It is something Eagle will have to adjust to, as he is reportedly set to become the primary play-by-play announcer for Big Ten football on NBC, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, in which he will work with analyst Todd Blackledge. While Eagle declined comment regarding this news, he did elaborate on the nature of a typical college football broadcast.

“I worked with Mark Helfrich this year and when he was at Oregon…. They were getting right back to the line,” he said. “They were going to just keep going; they were as conditioned as they possibly could be, and they were going to score on you and they were going to go for two [points] and that was that. It can be really, really exciting but you have to be ready.”

Noah Eagle has called each of the NFL broadcasts that have aired on Nickelodeon Photo provided by Eagle

Aside from standard football broadcasts, Eagle has been the voice of the NFL on Nickelodeon alternate broadcasts produced by CBS Sports. He recently broadcast the Christmas Day matchup between the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. – and he was joined in the booth by Nate Burleson and various Nickelodeon sitcom stars.

By following the shrewd advice of Syracuse alumnus and sportscaster Marty Glickman regarding considering the audience, he prepares for this alternate broadcast and others like it by thinking about what a typical viewer may want to hear.

“I just think you can now create a different audience,” Eagle said. “Isn’t that we want at the end of the day for sports or any of the stuff that we cover? We want as large or as vast of an audience as possible. If that can create this at all, it’s all good. It’s fun; you just have to approach it [in] the right way.”

Broadcasting sports is considered a “dream job” for many sports fans; yet if you are afforded an opportunity to do that on a regular basis, the law of diminishing marginal utility may start to take effect. Keeping Eagle motivated, outside of loving sports, is finding ways to improve.

“My goal, and it remains the same from when I first got the job [to] today and all the way through the rest of my career, is ‘Can the next broadcast be better than the previous one?,’” Eagle shared. “As long as I’m doing that whether it be with the Clippers or other jobs that I have right now, then that’s all I care about.”

Being a well-rounded person with interests outside of sports and media help Eagle on these broadcasts as well, and it is sagacious advice for young broadcasters. While he had the chance to see broadcasting from a different perspective as the son of an accomplished sportscaster, Noah Eagle enjoys his work and is excited to embark on his career.

At the same time, he treats everyone with dignity and respect, modeling after his father and displaying professionalism in whatever job he may be working.

“If you’re going to do this, do this for the love of it,” Eagle expressed. “Don’t do this for the prestige or whatever else comes with it. Do it because you thoroughly enjoy it because that’s the only way you’re going to reach that height that you eventually want to…. If you’re excited about it and you’re ready to have fun with it, then a lot will take care of itself.”

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Michelle Smallmon Didn’t Stumble Into Mornings on ESPN Radio

“The humanity and the relatability is what’s going to really bring people in.”

Derek Futterman



Michelle Smallmon
Courtesy: Missouri Athletic Club Connections

It all started with an accident. While vacuuming her apartment just two days before the first episode of her new national ESPN Radio program, Michelle Smallmon tripped over an air purifier cord. As a result of the maladroit blunder, she fell face first into her coffee table and hit the inside of her eye on a drinking glass.

When Smallmon looked into the mirror, she immediately saw that her eye was bleeding and swelling up and was in a state of disbelief, although she was not surprised that this happened to her because of her inherent clumsiness. The black eye that came out of all of this turned out to be an advantageous opportunity for the program, which opened its first hour on the air with this circumstance.

Smallmon works alongside Evan Cohen and Chris Canty weekday mornings on UnSportsmanLike, the new ESPN Radio morning show that leads off a refreshed national programming lineup. Since the program is also simulcast on ESPN2, there are cameras on inside the radio studio at the Seaport District-based radio studio, granting viewers of the premiere episode an opportunity to see Smallmon’s black eye for themselves. The incident, however, provided a means for the new hosting trio to introduce themselves and showcase their personalities in an atypical fashion by recalling a calamitous occurrence from the onset.

“We have to be ourselves,” Smallmon said. “People are coming for the sports, and hopefully with our opinions and our information and the knowledge that we provide, they’ll stick around, but they’re going to remember us for who we are. The humanity and the relatability is what’s going to really bring people in.”

Once the hosts of UnSportsmanLike were finalized, Smallmon met with Canty and Cohen to determine their collective philosophy for the program. At the crux of their conversation was how sports is supposed to be an enjoyable part of people’s days, making it important to be genuine with the audience and celebrate the festivities.

“I just think that audio provides a really great way for people to weave us throughout their day and it’s something that they can come back to, and I just feel like the audio space continues to grow,” Smallmon said. “So that is really exciting to me that there are so many different avenues for us to explore in the audio space.”

Smallmon and her colleagues understand that their program that was once anchored by Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg in the mornings for 18 years, who created a show that proved to be an enduring facet to sports radio as a whole. Today, UnSportsmanLike is competing for mindshare and attention span in a dynamic media ecosystem where people can consume various types of content by equipping myriad methodologies. The mission to serve the sports fan anytime, anywhere requires the hosts engage in deft preparation and fealty towards the audio vertical, never taking their positions for granted and understanding the privilege in being able to communicate en masse on the air.

“Any time anybody elects to listen to you, they are giving you a vote,” Smallmon said. “They’re choosing you [and] they are saying, ‘I want to spend a part of my precious time with you,’ and particularly in the mornings because we’re the first people that get the opportunity to talk about the games from the night before or to give our opinion on certain things.”

While Smallmon may have stumbled into an enthralling storyline to open the program and captivate the audience, she did just the opposite in landing a spot within the coveted morning drive daypart. Through years of indefatigable persistence and calculated risk-taking, she positioned herself to garner such a chance when the network was in the midst of developing a new lineup.

Despite having a successful morning show in St. Louis, Mo. on 101 ESPN that was finishing with high ratings and bolstering streams of revenue, Smallmon found herself yearning to live in a sprawling metropolis. Because of this, she started visiting her friends in New York City once per month and gradually became enamored with the locale, prompting her to meet with co-host Randy Karraker, program director Tommy Mattern and Hubbard Radio market manager John Kijowski to express her intent to leave the station.

“They have always been my biggest champions [and] they encouraged me every step of the way,” Smallmon said. “They were like, ‘This is going to be a tough transition for us because the show’s going so well, but we care about you as a person more than we do an employee, and if this is your dream and something you think you have to do, we’ve got your back.’ I will always and forever be indebted to them for not only finding a way to help me do that, but for supporting me and checking in with me every step of the way.”

When she was young, Smallmon frequently traveled to St. Louis with her father to attend sporting events, cherishing every chance she could to see a live game. Throughout her childhood, she watched football on television and remembers seeing sideline reporter Melissa Stark interview the players, prompting her to think about working in sports. Quotidian tasks were transformed into beacons of flourishing sports knowledge, catalyzed by her father’s creativity with abecedarian activities such as sorting and folding laundry.

Yet Smallmon concentrated in premedical studies at the University of Illinois, matriculating to try and become a dermatologist. Early on, she realized that she was not dedicated enough to pursue a profession in the field, resulting in a meeting with her advisor about her future plans. Upon being asked her ideal career path, Smallmon demonstrated interest in covering the basketball team with the goal of appearing on College GameDay as a features reporter in the future.

Amid an economic crash, Smallmon was able to land a job as a production assistant at KSDK, a local television station with which she had interned as a college student. Smallmon worked on the outlet’s morning show, Today in St. Louis, arriving at the studios around 3:30 a.m. every day to prepare and execute the broadcast.

Although her shift ended at 2 p.m., she would put in extra effort to stay later and interact with sportscaster Frank Cusamano and sports director Rene Knott, volunteering her time and trying to be productive. In displaying her aspiration to work in sports, she was eventually offered a position in the department, which first started with shooting and editing high school events.

“Most of the work that was done in sports was leading up to the 5 and 6 o’clock newscast until they took a big break before 10 p.m.,” Smallmon said. “I would use that time to just absorb as much as I could, watch the guys at work and try to make myself useful.”

Drawing inspiration from the aforementioned Stark, Smallmon had seen various women working and thriving in sports television; however, this was not the case in the sports radio format. Despite being familiar with the medium, she had never considered going on the air until Knott asked her to be a co-host of his new weekend show on 101 ESPN.

After some time, she received a note from an executive inquiring if she would be interested in applying for an open producer position available at the outlet. Even though she applied thinking she would not receive the job – a thought compounded when she discovered the producer role was for the program hosted by Bernie Miklasz – Smallmon made it to the final round of interviews. Speaking with Miklasz directly, he articulated that while he thought she was a good fit for the role, the other candidate had more qualifications and previous experience.

“I looked at him and I said, ‘Well, if that person is as great as you say that they are and have this much experience, they will have no problem finding another job when you hire me to be your producer,’” Smallmon averred. “I left there and I was like, ‘Man, I blew that.’”

Much to her surprise, Smallmon was hired and ended up working with Miklasz in the role for three years. In speaking with him and observing how he interacted with other people, she learned industry nuances and esoterica that made her even more adept at the role. Smallmon was eventually moved to The Fast Lane in the afternoons with Randy Karraker, D’Marco Farr and Brad Thompson, possessing a mentality of how to best position the show for sustained growth and success.

Smallmon took her skills to ESPN Radio in 2015 when she moved to Bristol, Conn. to work as a producer. The first stint with the network prepared her to excel on UnSportsmanLike, collaborating with hosts such as Ryen Russillo, Danny Kannel and Jorge Sedano, but she always felt a magnetic pull back towards St. Louis. Once Russillo was officially slated to leave ESPN, Smallmon was in talks with the company about different paths she could take and weighing her options. In the eleventh hour, Smallmon received a fortuitous call from Miklasz, who conveyed that he was thinking about changing up his show and wanted to know if she had any interest in co-hosting the program.

“It just felt like all of the cards were falling into place at the right time for me to make that move, and I’m a person that likes to take chances and challenge myself, and I don’t ever want to live with regrets,” Smallmon said. “I thought, ‘Maybe hosting and being on the air is not going to be for me; maybe it’s always going to be production, but I’d like to know.’”

Once she returned, Miklasz offered to change the name of the program to incorporate Smallmon, an entreaty that she declined because of fear that it would disrupt what was a known entity to listeners in the locale. Upon his exit from the station two years later, Smallmon started hosting with Randy Karraker, who implored her to add her name. Even though she never sought out to find the spotlight, she capitulated to the request once her co-host explained why it was important as not only an identifying factor, but also as the first female to be a full-time host on the station.

“I would hear from so many female sports fans across the area and parents whose daughters listened to the show and whose daughters paid attention to the show because someone who looked like them occupied that seat,” Smallmon said. “I really realized how important it was for me to establish myself in that way.”

As Smallmon made the move from St. Louis to New York City, her parents surmised she was recklessly upending her life. Subletting an apartment from a mutual friend in the city, she was working under a usages deal at ESPN Radio where she would deliver overnight updates and host SportsCenter All Night. Smallmon was grateful for the support of her parents and asked them to give her a year, during which she would work hard to land a full-time job in the city. Three hundred and sixty-six days later, Smallmon took to the air with a black eye to commence UnSportsmanLike, officially meeting her end of the bargain.

“It’s hard to explain to people how strange our job is,” Smallmon said. “The three of us sit in a windowless room and talk to one another for four-plus hours a day, so just by nature of spending that much intimate time with someone, you get to know them really well really fast.”

The workday for the morning episode begins the day prior several hours after the conclusion of the previous broadcast, independently reading articles, following sports news and reviewing games. In the preceding afternoon, the program holds a content call where everyone pitches ideas before an early rundown is sent out and added to throughout the day.

While the game of the night is on, Smallmon is in constant communication with her thoughts before getting sleep and preparing for an early wake-up call. There is a pre-show meeting to review the rundown before the four-hour morning show begins at 6 a.m. As soon as the on-air light is extinguished, the process starts again so the hosts are ready for it to illuminate again in 20 hours.

“It’s really a full-time commitment, especially during football season, to do a job like this,” Smallmon said, “but when you’re lucky enough to get the opportunity to host a show of this magnitude, you’ve kind of got to make it your life in a lot of ways.”

When she takes her seat behind the microphone in the morning, Smallmon believes that two of the most talented people she has ever worked with are sitting by her side. In her view, she needs to be at the same level as them on the program and effectuates that through her preparation and by bringing different perspectives to the air.

“I have zigged and zagged and occupied different roles throughout my time,” Smallmon said. “It’s really just been surprising opportunities that I have emerged and that I’ve really been grateful to have and that I want to take advantage of, but I don’t really think about the future and my motivation is not really driven by what’s next; it’s driven by the present.

For now, Smallmon is focused on attaining success in New York City and hopes to participate in the program for as long as possible. Down the road though, she knows that her career will entail a second return to St. Louis when she wants to be back in the community she loves and closer to her family. The gratitude she has in being able to regard the city as home is conspicuous and authentic, and those in the locale continue to listen to her on 101 ESPN for two hours each morning ahead of the station’s local morning program.

“My only goal right now is to make UnSportsmanLike the best show that it possibly can be, and if that is the case, hopefully we have an amazing run with the show,” Smallmon said. “That’s the goal is to make it as amazing as it possibly can be and ride that wave for as long as we possibly can.”

Smallmon never envisioned herself working in radio but now finds herself as a trusted voice in the mornings on a simulcast program within the network’s on-air lineup. Through it all, she has remained true to herself while exhibiting an evident commitment and passion for the craft, valuing every chance she has to go on the air.

“People will always say things to me like, ‘Oh, are you going to be the next Erin Andrews?,’ or things of that nature,” Smallmon explained. “And I say, ‘No, I’m going to be the first and only Michelle Smallmon,’ because the edge that I have over everybody else is that I’m me. There’s nobody else that’s me, and so if I can just be myself and be authentic every day and do that, anybody else can.”

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Desmond Howard Unnecessarily Threw Pete Thamel Under the Bus on College GameDay

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A photo of Desmond Howard

College football fans can be a crazy bunch, most of them are crazy in the sense they are doing stupid things that give you a good laugh but, every fan base has a lunatic fringe. Each fan base is more than willing to point out the lunatic fringe in the fanbase of their rivals but often are slow to acknowledge their own offenders. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist in any program that has any significant fanbase. The lunatic fringe affected College GameDay Saturday, and Desmond Howard didn’t help the situation.

As a fan, you can accept it as true or bury your head and assume you are the one singular program that has somehow avoided having a fringe lunacy.

Michigan is certainly a significant football program with a massive fanbase. Just the sheer number of Michigan fans tells you there is going to be a larger than normal number of fans that might fall into the category of “fringe lunatic”, it is just how the odds work.

That suggestion was made by ESPN during Saturday’s College GameDay which originated from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Just in case you are completely unaware of the biggest story in college football this season, during Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan game, Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh was serving the final game of an agreed upon Big Ten Conference suspension. The game also happened to be the biggest game of the season so far, a virtual play-in game for the College Football Playoff.

The suspension of Harbaugh was the result of allegations that Michigan staffer Connor Stalions was running an “off the books” sign stealing operation and that Stalions was a little too closely connected with Harbaugh for the Big Ten’s comfort.

Stories like these only become mainstream by reporting and ESPN’s Pete Thamel was on the frontlines of that reporting. It should be said that, just because something is reported by ESPN, FOX, or CBS, doesn’t automatically make it true. Likewise, just because something reported about your team may not paint them in the best possible light, it doesn’t make it untrue. That was the gray area ESPN’s College GameDay found themselves in Saturday; one of their top college football reporters in the very midst of the fans that are upset with his reporting.

Thamel joins GameDay on site every week, normally delivering the breaking news on injuries and coaching changes, fairly normal stuff. He delivers his reports, not on stage, but among the actual team fans who are gathered behind the set for all the cameras to see.

Except Saturday when Thamel was not among the masses but inside the more controlled confines of Michigan Stadium.

Honestly, Thamel being inside the stadium, rather than among the crowd, would not have seemed at all odd to me until Michigan’s Heisman Trophy winner and GameDay analyst Desmond Howard made it awkward in this exchange:

Howard: “We’ve been doing this 12, 13 weeks and Pete’s always been in the crowd giving his reports, I’m like, ‘What the Hell’s Pete in the stadium for?’ That kind of just threw me all off, I’m like, ‘Put your big boy pants on and do it in the crowd like you normally do it.’”

Rece Davis: “He’s got some from the lunatic fringe, some ‘friends’. We’re just taking care of him.”

Howard: “We’ve got security. We’ll be ok. These guys are nice out here. These are nice fans. They’re not going to do anything.”

Davis: “It only takes one. That’s all.”

Howard: “He’ll be ok. Put the big boy pants on.”

I have no idea how many credible threats Thamel has received but there was, apparently, enough concern for ESPN to move him into an area that could be more easily secured.

Desmond Howard, though, seemed upset that ESPN doing that painted the fan base of his old school in a very negative light. I would make the case that even the most ardent GameDay viewers wouldn’t think it odd that Thamel was inside the stadium rather than among the crowd. Howard’s insistence on Pete not wearing his “big boy pants” only drew further attention to the fact Thamel was not in his normal spot.

Desmond Howard came off sounding like he was under some sort of pressure, personally created or applied from Michigan interests, to point out there was no reason Thamel should have any concern about Michigan fans. In doing so, Howard came off as something he’s never been accused of being, a poor teammate. The best way to handle the situation for ESPN would be to completely ignore the fact there was a change in Thamel’s location. In the event ESPN thinks anyone would notice, highly unlikely as it may be, just create a simple cover story.

To Thamel’s credit, he seemed content to not be the focus of this addition to the story, it was only Howard’s awkward interaction that brought it to light. It was completely unnecessary and only made everyone involved look a little worse.

In his NFL career, Desmond Howard averaged only one fumble per season, Saturday in Ann Arbor, he added another.

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Nick Wright, Danny Parkins, Andrew Fillipponi and Omar Raja Join The 2024 BSM Summit Lineup

All four of these men are extremely talented and accomplished, and I’m grateful to each of them for making time to be with us.

Jason Barrett



The buildup to the 2024 BSM Summit continues with our next speakers announcement. Media professionals looking to attend March’s show can secure seats at We’ve already announced Jeff Smulyan, Mark Chernoff, Don Martin, Bruce Gilbert, Scott Sutherland, Chris Oliviero, Scott Shapiro, Spike Eskin, Mitch Rosen, Paul Mason, Bonnie Bernstein and Damon Amendolara will be part of the event. We’ll have additional big names to reveal in the weeks and months ahead too so stay tuned for more.

Before I get into the latest group of speakers, I want to pass along some Barrett Media news.

First, when you log on to BSM and BNM on Monday December 4th, you’ll notice both sites operating with a new, cleaner look. We pump out a lot of daily content on our websites but finding all of it can be intimidating. We’re hoping the modifications make it easier to find and digest our content and look forward to your feedback on what we roll out next week.

Secondly, I’ve spent months going through a process to identify an Executive Editor for Barrett Media. The type of leader I’ve been looking for different from what exists at some online publications. I’ve spoken to a lot of smart, talented people during this process, many who I know could make us better. However, there is only one job available. Fortunately after going through an extensive search, I’ve identified someone who I’m interested in teaming with to help take Barrett Media to the next level. I hope to announce that hire and the addition of a number of new writers next week. I think our readers, partners and clients will like what’s on the horizon.

Third, we have opened up voting on the Barrett News Media Top 20 of 2023. The deadline to cast votes for News/Talk PD’s is next Monday December 4th. We will present the News/Talk radio format’s collective feedback December 11-15 and December 18 on

There’s other stuff on the way as well, but I’ll save the rest for next week. Let’s dive now into the latest additions to the Summit.

It is my pleasure to announce the additions of Nick Wright of FS1, Danny Parkins of 670 The Score in Chicago, Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, and Omar Raja of ESPN to the 2024 BSM Summit speaker lineup. All four of these men are extremely talented and accomplished, and I’m grateful to each of them for making time to be with us.

Starting with Omar Raja, the work he did building House of Highlights into a powerhouse social brand is well documented. He now serves as a commentator for ESPN’s digital and social content, which includes being the leading voice behind ESPN’s SportsCenter Instagram account, and providing strategic social programming across ESPN’s social platforms. It’s not every day industry professionals gain an opportunity to learn from one of the industry’s top social media minds, so I’m hoping to see a lot of folks present when he shares his wisdom at the Summit.

Shifting from digital to on-air talent, one session I know many will be present for will include three personalities who have been highly successful in each of their careers, and share a lifelong bond through the friendships they formed while attending Syracuse University together. Nick Wright, Andrew Fillipponi, and Danny Parkins are three of the best in the business today, and all three will be on stage together to discuss their individual paths, their differing approaches to content creation, measuring and managing success, and much more. Having Damon Amendolara, another Syracuse graduate who’s been highly successful on the air, guide the session should make it even more interesting and entertaining for all in the room.

With these latest four individuals added to the lineup we’ve now secured sixteen top speakers for March’s show. I’m hoping to reveal the next group of participants in a few weeks. Once we get past the holidays I’ll start revealing the awards winners and a few executives who will be part of the conference.

I want to thank Steve Stone Voiceovers, Good Karma Brands, Bonneville International, Silver Tribe Media, Premiere Networks and the Motor Racing Network for returning as sponsors of the 2024 BSM Summit. If your group would like to explore a sponsorship opportunity for the show or review website or newsletter options for 2024, email Stephanie Eads at [email protected] to receive a copy of our advertising decks.

That’s the latest for now. More to come in December.

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