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.”
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 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 Crypto.com 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.”
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.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he interns in video production with the New York Islanders and formerly worked as production manager for the team’s radio broadcasts. 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.
Amanda Brown Has Embraced The Bright Lights of Hollywood
“My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and eight others aboard a helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, sent shockwaves around the world of sports, entertainment, and culture. People traveled to Los Angeles following the devastating news and left flowers outside the then-named STAPLES Center, the arena which Bryant called home for much of his career, demonstrating the magnitude of the loss. Just across the street from the arena, Amanda Brown and the staff at ESPN Los Angeles 710 had embarked in ongoing breaking news coverage, lamentation, and reflection.
It included coverage of a sellout celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter and teams around the NBA opting to take 8-second and 24-second violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers throughout his 20-year NBA career. They currently hang in the rafters at Crypto.com Arena, making Bryant the only player in franchise history to have two numbers retired.
During this tumultuous time, Bryant’s philosophy served as a viable guiding force, something that Brown quickly ascertained in her first month as the station’s new program director.
“I had people that were in Northern California hopping on planes to get here,” Brown said. “You didn’t even have to ask people [to] go to the station; people were like, ‘I’m on my way.’ It was the way that everybody really came together to do really great radio, and we did it that day and we did it the next day and we did it for several days.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is quickly approaching, and Brown will be attending the event for the first time since 2020. During her first experience at the BSM Summit in New York, Brown had just become a program director and was trying to assimilate into her role. Because of this, she prioritized networking, building contacts, and expressing her ideas to others in the space. This year, she looks forward to connecting with other program directors and media professionals around the country while also seeking to learn more about the nuances of the industry.
“The Summit is kind of like a meeting of the minds,” Brown said. “It’s people throughout the country and the business…. More than anything, [the first time] wasn’t so much about the panels as it was about the people.”
Growing up in Orange County, Brown had an interest in the Los Angeles Lakers from a young age, being drawn to play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn. Brown refers to Hearn as inspiration to explore a career in broadcasting. After studying communications at California State University in Fullerton, she was afforded an opportunity to work as a producer at ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM by program director Scott Masteller, who she still speaks to on a regular basis. It was through Masteller’s confidence in her, in addition to support from operations manager Dave Schorr, that helped make Brown feel more comfortable working in sports media.
“I never felt like I was a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Brown said. “I always just felt like I was a part of the industry. For me, I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I deserve to be here; I deserve a seat at the table.’”
Brown quickly rose up the ranks when she began working on ESPN Radio in Bristol, Conn., working as a producer for a national radio show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt, along with The Sports Bash with Erik Kuselias. Following five-and-a-half years in Bristol, Brown requested a move back to California and has worked at ESPN Los Angeles 710 ever since. She began her tenure at the station serving as a producer for shows such as Max and Marcellus and Mason and Ireland.
Through her persistence, work ethic and congeniality, Brown was promoted to assistant program director in July 2016. In this role, she helped oversee the station’s content while helping the entity maintain live game broadcast rights and explore new opportunities to augment its foothold, including becoming the flagship radio home of the Los Angeles Rams.
“Don’t sit back and wait for your managers or your bosses to come to you and ask what you want to do,” Brown advised. “Go after what you want, and that’s what I’ve always done. I always went to my managers and was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this. Give me a chance; let me do that.’ For the most part, my managers have been receptive and given me those opportunities.”
When executive producer Dan Zampillo left the station to join Spotify to work as a sports producer, Brown was subsequently promoted to program director where she has helped shape the future direction of the entity. From helping lead the brand amid its sale to Good Karma Brands in the first quarter of 2022; to revamping the daily lineup with compelling local programs, Brown has gained invaluable experience and remains keenly aware of the challenges the industry faces down the road. For sports media outlets in Los Angeles, some of the challenge is merely by virtue of its geography.
“We’re in sunny Southern California where there’s a lot of things happening,” Brown said. “We’re in the middle of Hollywood. People have a lot of opportunities – you can go to the mountains; you can go to the beach. I think [our market] is more about entertainment than it is about actual hard-core sports. Yes, obviously you have hard-core Lakers fans; you have hard-core Dodgers fans, but a majority of the fans are pretty average sports fans.”
Because of favorable weather conditions and an endless supply of distractions, Brown knows that the way to attract people to sports talk radio is through its entertainment value. With this principle in mind, she has advised her hosts not to worry so much about the specific topics they are discussing, but rather to ensure they are entertaining listeners throughout the process.
“People know the four letters E-S-P-N mean sports, but really our focus is more on entertainment more than anything,” Brown said. “I think the [talent] that stick out the most are the ones that are the most entertaining.”
Entertaining listeners, however, comes through determining what they are discussing and thinking about and providing relevant coverage about those topics. Even though it has not yet been legalized in the state of California, sports gambling content has been steadily on the rise since the Supreme Court made a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act established in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018). Nonetheless, Brown and ESPN Los Angeles 710 have remained proactive, launching a sports gambling show on Thursday nights to try to adjust to the growing niche of the industry.
Even though she has worked in producing and programming for most of her career, Brown is eager to learn about the effect sports gambling has on audio sales departments. At the same time, she hopes to be able to more clearly determine how the station can effectuate its coverage if and when it becomes legal in their locale.
“I know that a lot of other markets have that,” Brown said regarding the legalization of sports gambling. “For me, I’m interested to hear from people who have that in their markets and how they’ve monetized that and the opportunity.”
No matter the content, though, dedicated sports radio listeners are genuinely consuming shows largely to hear certain talent. Brown recalls receiving a compliment on Twitter earlier this quarter where a listener commented that he listens to ESPN Los Angeles 710 specifically for Sedano and Kap. Evidently, it acted as a tangible sign that her philosophy centered around keeping people engrossed in the content is working, and that providing the audience what it wants to hear is conducive to success.
At this year’s BSM Summit, Brown will be participating on The Wheel of Content panel, presented by Core Image Studio, featuring ESPN analyst Mina Kimes and FOX Sports host Joy Taylor. Through their discussion, she intends to showcase a different perspective of what goes into content creation and the interaction that takes place between involved parties.
“A lot of times in the past, all the talent were on one panel; all the programmers were on one panel,” Brown said. “To put talent and a programmer together, I think it’s an opportunity for people to hear both sides on certain issues.”
According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM (terrestrial) radio among persons 18-34 has a greater average audience than television. The statistical anomaly, which was forecast several years earlier, came to fruition most likely due to emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Simultaneously, good content is required to captivate consumers, and radio, through quantifiable and qualifiable metrics, has been able to tailor its content to the listening audience and integrate it across multiple platforms of dissemination. The panel will give Brown a chance to speak in front of her peers and other industry professionals about changes in audio consumption, effectuated by emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Yet when it comes to radio as a whole, the patterns clearly point towards the proliferation of digital content – whether those be traditional radio programs or modernized podcasts. Moreover, utilizing various elements of presentation provides consumers a greater opportunity of finding and potentially engaging with the content.
“We do YouTube streaming; obviously, we stream on our app,” Brown said. “We’ve even created, at times, stream-only shows whether it’s stream-only video or stream-only on our app. We all know that people want content on-demand when they want it. I think it’s about giving them what they want.”
As a woman in sports media, Brown is cognizant about having to combat misogyny from those inside and outside of the industry, and is grateful to have had the support of many colleagues. In holding a management position in the second-largest media market in the United States, she strives to set a positive example to aspiring broadcasters. Additionally, she aims to be a trusted and accessible voice to help empower and give other women chances to work in the industry – even if she is not universally lauded.
“I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I’m no different than anyone else – yes, I’m a female – but I’m no different than anyone else,’” Brown expressed. “My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
Through attending events such as the BSM Summit and remaining immersed in sports media and the conversation at large about the future of sports media, Brown can roughly delineate how she can perform her job at a high level.
Although the genuine future of this business is always subject to change, she and her team at ESPN Los Angeles 710 are trying to come up with new ideas to keep the content timely, accurate, informative, and entertaining. She is content in her role as program director with no aspirations to become a general manager; however, remaining in her current role requires consistent effort and a penchant for learning.
“Relationships are very important overall in this business whether you’re a programmer or not,” Brown said. “Relationships with your talent; relationships with your staff. If you invest in your people, then they’re going to be willing to work hard for you and do what you ask them to do.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is mere days away, and those from Los Angeles and numerous other marketplaces will make the trip to The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC).
Aside from Brown, Kimes and Taylor, there will be other voices from across the industry sharing their thoughts on aspects of the industry and how to best shape it going forward, including Colin Cowherd, Rachel Nichols, Al Michaels and Eric Shanks. More details about the industry’s premiere media conference can be found at bsmsummit.com.
“I’m excited to be a female program director amongst male program directors for the first time and get a seat at the table and represent that there can be diversity in this position,” Brown said. “We don’t see a lot of it, but… there is an opportunity, and I hope I can be an example for other people out there [to show] that it’s possible.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he interns in video production with the New York Islanders and formerly worked as production manager for the team’s radio broadcasts. 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.
Pat McAfee Has Thrown Our Business Into a Tailspin
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve, McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
When you have one of the hottest talk shows in America, you’re always up to something. That’s the case for the most popular sports talk show host in America – Pat McAfee.
The former Pro Bowl punter was on top of the world on Wednesday. With over 496,000 concurrent viewers watching at one point, McAfee was able to garner an exclusive interview with frequent guest Aaron Rodgers who announced his intention to play for the Jets.
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve — a new studio, consistent high viewership, a syndication deal with SportsGrid TV, a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel — McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
At the end of the day, he is human and he’s admitted that balancing his show, his ESPN gig with “College Gameday,” and his WWE obligations has taken a toll on him.
McAfee and his wife are expecting their first child soon and he recently told The New York Post he might step away from his deal with FanDuel. Operating his own company has come with the responsibility of making sure his studio is up and running, finding people to operate the technology that puts his show on the air, negotiating with huge behemoths like the NFL for game footage rights, booking guests, booking hotels, implementing marketing plans and other tasks that most on-air personalities rarely have to worry about.
McAfee says he’s looking for a network that would be able to take control of those duties while getting more rest and space to spend time with family while focusing strictly on hosting duties. FanDuel has its own network and has the money to fund such endeavors but is just getting started in the content game. McAfee needs a well-known entity to work with who can take his show to the next level while also honoring his wishes of keeping the show free on YouTube.
The question of how he’s going to be able to do it is something everyone in sports media will be watching. As The Post pointed out in their story, McAfee hasn’t frequently stayed with networks he’s been associated with in the past for too long. He’s worked with Westwood One, DAZN, and Barstool but hasn’t stayed for more than a year or two.
There’s an argument to be made that the latter two companies weren’t as experienced as a network when McAfee signed on with them compared to where they are today which could’ve pushed the host to leave. But at the end of the day, networks want to put money into long-term investments and it’s easy to see a network passing on working with McAfee for fear that he’ll leave them astray when he’s bored.
It’ll also be difficult for McAfee to find a network that doesn’t put him behind a paywall. Amazon and Google are rumored to be potential new homes. But both are trying to increase subscribers for their respective streaming services.
It will be difficult to sell Amazon on investing money to build a channel on YouTube – a rival platform. For Google, they may have the tech infrastructure to create television-like programming but they aren’t an experienced producer, they’ve never produced its own live, daily talk show, and investing in McAfee’s show doesn’t necessarily help increase the number of subscribers watching YouTube TV.
Networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox might make sense to partner with. But McAfee faces the possibility of being censored due to corporate interests. Each of these networks also operates its networks or streaming channels that air talk programming of their own. Investing in McAfee could cannibalize the programming they already own.
And if McAfee works with a traditional network that isn’t ESPN, it could jeopardize his ability to host game casts for Omaha or analyze games on Gameday. It’s not impossible but would definitely be awkward on days that McAfee does his show remotely from locations of ESPN games with ESPN banners and signage that is visible in the background.
If SportsGrid has the money to invest in McAfee, they might be his best bet. They have all the attributes McAfee needs and they already have a relationship with him. It is probably unlikely that he’ll be censored and he would even be able to maintain a relationship with FanDuel – a company SportsGrid also works alongside.
Roku is another option — they already work with Rich Eisen — but they would move his show away from YouTube, something McAfee should resist since the majority of smart TV users use YT more than any other app.
If the NFL gave McAfee editorial independence, they would make the perfect partner but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. NFL Media has independence but it was clear during the night of the Damar Hamlin incident that they will do whatever is necessary to stay away from serious topics that make the league look bad until it’s totally unavoidable.
It’s hard to think of a partner that matches up perfectly with McAfee’s aspirations. But once again, at the moment, he’s on top of the world so anything is possible. The talk show host’s next move will be even more interesting to watch than the other fascinating moves he’s already made that have put the sports media industry in a swivel.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit
“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”
Bring your game plan if you attend the BSM Summit in LA next Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter your purpose for attending: to learn, get a job, speak, or sell an idea, you must be able to read the room. To do that, it helps to know who will be there and how you can cure their pain.
Have a plan and don’t leave home without it. If you have time, buy How to Work a Room by Susan Roane. If you don’t, just follow these five tips:
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Before you arrive at The Summit, figure out what you want, who you want to meet, and what you will say. Once you get there, scout out the room and see if anyone of those people are available. Talk to speakers after they have spoken- don’t worry if you miss what the next speaker says. You are there to meet new people! Most speakers do not stick around for the entire schedule, and you don’t know if they will attend any after-parties, so don’t risk it. Refine your elevator pitch and break the ice with something you have in common. Make sure you introduce yourself to Stephanie, Demetri and Jason from BSM. They know everybody and will help you if they can.
- GET A NAME TAG: Don’t assume that name tags will be provided. Bring your own if you and make your name clear to read. If you are looking to move to LA or want to sell a system to book better guests, put it briefly under your name. Study this to get better at remembering names.
- LOSE THE NOTEBOOK: When you meet folks, ensure your hands are free. Have a business card handy and ask for one of theirs. Remember to look people in the eye and notice what they are doing. If they are scanning the room, pause until they realize they are blowing you off. Do whatever it takes to sound upbeat and open. Don’t let their clothes, hair, or piercings distract from your message. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie but do bring your best business casual wear. A blazer isn’t a bad idea either.
- SHUT UP FIRST! The art of knowing when to end the convo is something you will have to practice. You can tell when the other person’s eye starts darting or they are not using body language that tells you the convo will continue. You end it by telling them you appreciate meeting them and want to connect via email. Ask for a business card. Email is more challenging to ignore than a LinkedIn request, and you can be more detailed in what you want via email.
- WORK THE SCHEDULE: Know who speaks when. That is when you will find the speakers hanging around. Plan your lunch outing to include a few fellow attendees. Be open and conversational with those around you. I am a huge USC fan, so I would walk to McKays– a good spot with plenty of USC football memorabilia on the walls. Sometimes you can find the next day’s speakers at the Day 1 after party. Need a bar? Hit the 901 Club for cheap beer, drinks, and food.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at email@example.com or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
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