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Bruce Beck Still Wants to Outwork His Competition

“I certainly wasn’t more talented but I just believed you could build relationships and you could outwork people.”

Derek Futterman

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Bruce Beck has been to the Olympic Games – but not as an athlete. For 10 different iterations of the heralded worldwide sporting competition and display of cultural diffusion, Beck has been a reporter bringing viewers local and national stories.

Now in his 26th year as the lead sports anchor at NBC 4 New York (WNBC-TV), he has many stories to tell of those experiences, including watching Michael Phelps win eight gold medals in Beijing in 2008, Usain Bolt being victorious in three consecutive 100-meter Olympic dashes, and Sarah Hughes pulling off a shocking gold medal victory in Salt Lake City in 2002. Beck, like these athletes, had a passion for what he was doing and worked hard to refine his talents into an award-winning career in sports media.

“My story’s not a perfect story,” Beck said. “I’m not as talented as many of these guys in the industry, but I guess I’m a survivor.”

Beck’s official workplace is 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the acclaimed New York City landmark which headquarters NBCUniversal and the iconic Christmas Tree during the holiday season. Yet Beck often finds himself working remotely, whether that be locally from Citi Field in Queens; Yankee Stadium in the Bronx; or across the Hudson River at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ or at national events such as the Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby.

On a day where he is not scheduled to be on-site – well, that can change at a moment’s notice because of the unique fluidity of the New York marketplace. “The Big Apple” is home to over a dozen professional teams, many hallmark events and famed college and high school athletics programs.

“Once in a while there’s a boring day for the broadcast, but rarely,” Beck said. “Something always happens; something always comes up. One of the hardest jobs for me is prioritizing, ‘What is the story today?’”

Beck grew up near the New York metropolitan area in Livingston, N.J. and was enamored with sports, along with perfecting his impressions of the local broadcasters. At the age of 8, he began imitating Marv Albert; in fact, he can still recite six commercials he did. When he and his family would play basketball in the driveway, Beck would announce the games in the style of Albert, along with other commentators such as Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and Marty Glickman.

When there were no sports to consume, he would grab a utensil from the kitchen and commentate his mother’s cooking routine, doing anything he could to use his voice and practice the trade.

“She thought maybe I was a little crazy,” Beck said, “but maybe she thought I was on to something because she never criticized me; she just laughed.”

Beck’s first bonafide broadcasting experience was in junior high school when he was responsible for delivering the morning announcements. By the time he was in high school, he was working with the school basketball team, still imitating Albert, and hosting game shows for the team on their bus rides to and from games.

In 1974, Beck matriculated at Ithaca College where he studied accounting and forayed into media-related endeavors on the side. He initially applied undecided though but still found a way on WICB, the school’s radio station, for early morning broadcasts and compiled local reports to air on station programming.

Over his time as an undergraduate student, he anchored Sunday night broadcasts and did play-by-play announcing for sporting events on campus while also working as the television sports director in his senior year. He cemented a legacy at the school by being the first nonmajor to win the National Honor Society AERho Award for Outstanding Broadcaster; however, Ithaca College was not his first choice. Beck had hoped to attend Northwestern University but his request for admission was turned down in a letter that remains preserved at his desk.

“When I was the keynote speaker about eight years ago for St. John’s University Staten Island Campus… I held it up,” Beck said of the letter. “I read from it. I use it as the power of rejection.”

Upon his graduation from the school four years later, Beck did not waste any time entering into the professional world in a job with Suburban Cablevision TV3 in East Orange, N.J. The broadcast outlet gave viewers the ability to watch local athletics programming, taping high school and collegiate sporting events and subsequently airing them, utilizing remote production trucks and commentators.

In addition to live games, the channel broadcast talk shows, one of which was titled Time In that was hosted by Beck and another he co-hosted called Scorecard. Eventually, he was working as the assistant sports director alongside Bob Ley, who was the outlet’s sports director and the person who initially hired Beck.

Ley, however, departed Suburban Cablevision TV3 in 1979 to be one of the first employees for a new all-sports network called ESPN. It turned out to be the place where Ley primarily worked for the majority of his career, hosting national shows such as SportsCenter and Outside the Lines to millions of viewers around the world.

Bruce Beck is a big believer in trying to outwork his competition Photo provided by Beck

Meanwhile, Beck, who questioned whether or not Ley had made a prudent decision, had been promoted to sports director. For the next three years, he was working to elevate the channel’s sports coverage and manage its team of broadcast professionals as he continued to provide play-by-play commentary for select matchups.

“It built the mechanics and it built kind of the framework for my career today in terms of how much attention to detail I take and how serious I take my preparation,” Beck said. “Bob Ley – can you think of a better mentor? One of ESPN’s greatest ever in terms of integrity, in terms of broadcasting. I was really lucky.”

In his youth, Beck had imagined what it would be like to work with Marv Albert – and those early aspirations turned into a reality when he entered what former New York Knicks public address voice John F. X. Condon referred to as “the magical world of Madison Square Garden.”

Stepping into “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Beck covered games and worked as an in-studio host for MSG Networks, contributing to events including Golden Gloves boxing, the Millrose Games and the National Horse Show. Additionally, Beck was the primary interviewer for the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, the latter for whom he also hosted television studio coverage.

“I was the youngest guy working on the airwaves in New York,” Beck said. “It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I still had a high-pitched voice; I was still far from accomplished but I was able to get reps in a tremendously professional environment and I continued to improve throughout the years.”

As a reporter, Beck had the opportunity to interview prominent figures in the world of professional sports including Patrick Ewing, Mark Messier and Bill Russell. Having the ability to elicit thoughtful and cohesive answers from interviewees was always Beck’s focus, and although he thoroughly prepared for each interview, there are instances where it was best to go with the flow of the conversation.

“I did an interview with Dennis Rodman at the Garden and I said to him, ‘Dennis, this is the best offensive start you’ve ever had to a season. Are you happy with your offense?’,” Beck remembered, “and he said: ‘Man, I won’t be happy until I’m 6 feet underground.’ I took all my notes and I just threw them in the air, kind of, and I just said: ‘Why? How come? What made you feel this way?’”

To this day, Beck follows the three principles of interviewing he learned at a young age; these are: (1) – Asking the question everyone wants to know. (2) – Asking the question nobody else will ask. (3) – Deriving a follow-up question based on a previous response.

Effectively interviewing comes from active listening and comprehending answers in the moment to guide the discourse. Similar principles apply when it comes to live game broadcasts in which one duty of the play-by-play announcer is to ensure the color commentator is properly positioned to offer their esoteric knowledge and informed opinions.

No matter the sport – whether it was filling in for Sam Rosen on the boxing broadcast; to calling college football and basketball games; or covering the Yankees in different capacities – Beck was ready for the challenge and to duly perform his role.

“I was always taught that the color man is the star so if you could do a solid job as a professional play-by-play guy and set up the color man,” Beck said. “If he had a good broadcast, you had a good broadcast. We had a who’s who of announcers that was working for MSG, and I was just fortunate to be around them.”

In 1994 at the age of 38, Beck’s contract with MSG Networks was not renewed in what could have been a significant blow to his career without his inherent persistence and drive to succeed. In what some might call a devastating setback, Beck, who was disappointed, tried to remain optimistic that he would find a way to succeed.

“Jerry Eisenberg once said to me, and this kind of tied into how to treat people too, ‘You better remember us on the way up, because you’re sure as hell going to need us on the way down,’” Beck remembered. “He also said, ‘If you’re always on a high note, when you do come down you’re going to have an uncushioned crash.’”

Beck began announcing Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events as one of the promotion company’s first announcers, starting with UFC 4 held at the Expo Square Pavilion in Tulsa, Okla. His previous background commentating combat sports also helped land him a gig as a commentator for Showtime Championship Boxing, contributing during the network’s fight weeks around the country.

In addition to these jobs, Beck also called harness racing for ESPN, college basketball for Prime Network with Al McGuire and Rollie Massimino and college football and basketball for CBS Sports.

He was often on the move, taking a total of 102 flights in 1997 – some of which he boarded as the jetway was moving away from the terminal – and built what he says was a “mini-empire.” Through all the minutiae and spontaneity of his work schedule, Beck focused on embracing new challenges and building relationships in the process.

“I did anything that was asked upon me because it was just a matter of preparing, having great energy and being able to work with your color guy and knowing your material well enough that you could carry a broadcast,” Beck said. “It was fun; it was invigorating.”

At the same time, Beck was the host of Sports Images and Comcast Sportstalk for CN8 with its studios located in Union, N.J. Working other freelance jobs during the day, he found himself having to race to the studios four nights per week for the latter program and would sometimes arrive two minutes before the show was set to hit the air.

“I believed in outworking people,” Beck said. “I certainly wasn’t more talented but I just believed you could build relationships and you could outwork people and you could be up at 2 or 3 in the morning and you could study and you could do any assignment.”

By the fall of 1997, he received an audition with Dennis Swanson, the president and general manager of WNBC-TV New York, for the role of weekend sports anchor with the network. Shortly thereafter, Beck’s “three hard years” ended when he was officially hired by the network. He remains there nearly 26 years later.

“Local reporting [has] changed over the years but the secret sauce really hasn’t changed,” Beck explained. “The trust of your audience; relationships with those people you cover; and good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting. Being in the trenches; in the locker room; on the ballfields.”

Beck’s approach to local reporting is in identifying the key story and finding unique ways in which to present them, doing so in longform on the Sunday night sports show Sports Final. As an employee of a local news affiliate, he seeks to find aspects of sports bridging news in his reporting as well, telling stories to viewers such as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft obtaining and delivering masks to New York City at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stories like that, which were told in the months without live sporting events, helped NBC 4 New York win the prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for its reporting during the early stage of the pandemic and continues to make the local network a trusted voice in the marketplace.

“You’re still covering a multitude of things on a Sunday night,” Beck explained, “but you get two, usually, longform stories with a guest that you’re going to cover – and that’s the way I usually approach it. We’ve had a lot of athletes; a lot of coaches [and] some of the premier guests around. Other times, I’ll get a writer who’s covering the team who might have the better inside scoop. We’re trying to show depth and we’re trying to give [viewers] a behind-the-scenes look.”

Bruce Beck has worked at NBC 4 in New York in addition to several other roles during his storied career Photo provided by Beck

Over the years with NBC 4 New York, Beck has covered events both near and far with the mission of accentuating local perspectives and giving viewers unique access. The ability to do this, though, comes through establishing and maintaining mutually-beneficial relationships.

For example, Beck visited the home of former St. John’s University and NBA head coach Lou Carnesecca where he conducted an exclusive interview with him reflecting on his career. They had fostered a relationship when Beck was hosting Carnesecca’s eponymously-titled show on MSG Network.

Although the industry has considerably shifted in terms of the creation and distribution of content, motivated reporters like Beck are resolute in their mission to uncover and present compelling stories – all while being cognizant of their audience.

“You have to be innovative; you have to be creative,” Beck said. “I think you have to reimagine, and that’s what I’ve tried to do and that’s what I’ve encouraged younger people to do. You’ve got to reimagine in today’s day and age, but there’s still a place in my mind for local news although it’s redefined.”

As a reporter, Beck’s use of social media is an imperative aspect of his job, especially in being able to connect with viewers at a moment’s notice. When he is not promoting upcoming broadcasts or breaking news in the field, he uses the platform to break the metaphorical third wall between followers and professional media members. By giving them an inside look as to just where and how he does his job, he communicates and displays the story within the story; a sort of metadrama encompassing the craft.

“Take them to places they can’t go, and tell them things about you that they don’t know,” Beck said. “That’s what people want from me on social media. ‘Where am I? Am I [in] the Yankee locker room? Is this a cool spot at Dodger Stadium? Let me show them something they can’t normally get to.’”

In addition to working with NBC 4 New York, Beck’s versatility has allowed him to take on other roles over the years, including an eight-year stint hosting programming on NBA-TV. He currently works with Rutgers University on its digital athletics programming, along with freelancing as a commentator for Top Rank boxing coverage airing on ESPN+. Beck’s work ethic and ability to adapt helped him in his quest to succeed in the New York marketplace, interacting with players, coaches and other team personnel to create meaningful, impactful connections.

“I never feel like I can cover everything but I love to be in the field; that’s what I’m known for,” he said. “I’m known for outhustling people and being at every possible event I can get to, and yet I know I still don’t do a good enough job because it’s impossible.”

Beck has covered several Olympic Games during his career Photo provided by Beck

Six years ago, Beck pioneered the Bruce Beck Broadcasting Camp, a place for aspiring sportscasters to learn from industry professionals, gain experience in various different roles, and become inspired by the craft.

For the 15 years prior, Beck held a similar broadcasting camp with sportscaster Ian Eagle with attendees including MLB Network host Scott Braun, ESPN NHL reporter Emily Kaplan and NBC News correspondent Jesse Kirsch.

Some of the guests who have attended the program in recent years include MSG Networks/ESPN basketball commentator Mike Breen, NFL on FOX play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt and YES Network reporter Meredith Marakovits. This year’s program begins on July 17 and takes months of planning and coordinating for Beck, who is assisted by his wife Janet.

Whether it is mentoring students at the camp or on late-night phone calls on his way home from work; or volunteering with different charities to help those less fortunate, Beck recognizes the value and importance in being a source of goodwill. Even if other people see it as being naïve, Beck continues to find a way to exude a sense of optimism while working in “The City That Never Sleeps” for over 40 years.

“You can’t change the world but you can impact lives,” Beck said. “….My father and mother taught me [that] receiving is nice, giving is nicer [and] giving back is nicest of all. My parents, who are the foundation for everything that I’ve ever accomplished; they taught me that and I’ve tried to pass that on to my two kids and my five grandkids.”

In March 2017, Beck was the winner of the Jessica Savitch Award of Distinction for Excellence in Journalism from Ithaca College – his alma-mater. The honor was not only for his career as a multimedia journalist, but also as a source of support and mentorship for aspiring professionals looking to work in sports media. Even though studying in upstate New York was not his first choice, the foundation he built in college and has extended throughout his ongoing professional career is surely deserving of a gold medal.

“It’s easy to get up when there’s a storyline that changes every day in New York and there are these teams that are striving for excellence that [don’t] always achieve it,” Beck said. “That drive; there’s dreams of success and fears of failure for all of us every day, and I think that drives me and it drives the athletes and it drives the coaches and I think it even drives the fans. I haven’t lost it yet; I haven’t lost my desire to generate good news, good stories and cover the people that are worthy of it.”

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Sports TV’s Star Era is Over, So What is Stephen A. Smith Worth Now at ESPN?

“The future is about meeting your audience’s needs on demand and putting a focus on what it is audiences will pay a premium to see. I don’t think that describes studio debate shows.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Stephen A. Smith
Courtesy: Evan Angelastro, GQ

What is ESPN paying Pat McAfee? The exact figure is disputed, but it’s believed that he signed a contract for $85 million last year. The network writes a $17 million check to Troy Aikman every year and another $10 million check for his Monday Night Football partner Joe Buck.

That is a lot of money already tied up in talent. It seems like ESPN is about to agree to another staggering dollar figure to keep Stephen A. Smith on the payroll. But I have a question.

Why are we doing this? Why is an eight-figure annual salary for any single person a good investment? 

ESPN’s corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company, has said over and over again that they are trying to build a media company for the future. It’s why Star Wars is a streaming-only property for the time being and why Hulu is being folded into Disney+. 

The future is about meeting your audience’s needs on demand and putting a focus on what it is audiences will pay a premium to see. I don’t think that describes studio debate shows.

Jimmy Pitaro had an idea when he took over ESPN. He wanted to give more money to fewer people and put the network’s biggest stars everywhere he could fit them. It’s why Smith was on First Take and NBA Countdown and had a show on ESPN+. It’s why Mike Greenberg had Get Up, NBA Countdown and a radio show. When Pitaro was first laying the foundations for his tenure atop ESPN, the idea made a lot of sense. 

Now though, it’s time for the strategy to be re-thought, particularly as Pitaro and his boss Bob Iger lay out the reasons why it makes sense for the network to offer its audience so many different approaches to its digital future.

The star era of sports television is over. Just ask FS1 and Skip Bayless

When the biggest names and most recognizable faces at ESPN were Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, and Stuart Scott, we turned on ESPN to see what they would do and hear what they would say. To hear those talents tell it though, that was a time when ESPN was afraid to lean into its stars and instead tried to hammer home that no SportsCenter anchor was bigger than the show itself. There were a lot of steps that got us from that reality to this one, but each one made the talking heads matter a little less. Now, the only things that move the needle for the audience in a way that matters to the people at the top of Disney are games.

It started with the rapid growth of cable, then came the internet. That gave birth first to blogs, then YouTube and then to podcasting. We didn’t have to wait for Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon at 5:30 anymore. We could get access to whatever opinion we wanted any time we wanted it.

From there, it kicked into overdrive. Streaming TV became common in most homes. Sports betting was legalized in states all over the country. The Covid-19 pandemic shut down the sports world. Streaming viewership grew to the point that it overtook traditional television.

Advertisers have been paying attention to all of it and what it all means. Look at FOX News, which has been dominant in primetime on cable. The median age of the audience for those shows is 69. That means half of the people watching are 70 or over. It’s why commercials for catheters and reverse mortgages fill so much of the network’s ad time. That’s not just true for FOX News. It’s a problem for just about every traditional TV network. 

ESPN’s median viewer age is 48 and according to one study, nearly 40% of its audience is over 55. That’s still a valuable audience to advertisers, but remember that linear TV viewership isn’t popular with young people at all. Those people are not going to turn 48 and suddenly get a craving for a cable cord or satellite box. Many of them won’t even look into streaming tv packages like YouTubeTV, HuluTV, or Fubo. 

The one exception is live games. ESPN’s median age isn’t significantly lower than FOX News’s because of Smith or McAfee. It’s because of Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. The future value of ESPN is being able to offer all those leagues and games to viewers without forcing them to pay a cable or satellite bill.

First Take is well-constructed. Stephen A. Smith’s comments and antics on the show get spoofed by Saturday Night Live and draw a reaction from Jon Stewart. He has made the show a cultural touchstone. PTI and Around the Horn have both stood the test of time, in their 23rd and 22nd years on the network respectively. Those shows have performed at or above expectations for multiple decades, but I don’t think that guarantees they will be around forever.

What if ESPN wanted to take those games from smaller college conferences and international leagues that currently air on ESPN+ and put them on the main network instead? As we move to full availability of ESPN without a cable or satellite contract, the network could take advantage of America’s desire to bet by airing games throughout the majority of the day’s 24 hours. Integrate ESPNBet capabilities into the presentation, and you certainly have a more profitable product.

I could see myself watching a game in a league I am unfamiliar with and maybe even putting a little money on it if ESPN utilized the Pat McAfee Show crew. I’m not a huge fan of their college football broadcasts, because that’s my favorite sport and I want to watch the game, but if you’re telling me we’re all watching a soccer game from France’s Serie B and they are telling me what in-game bets they like, I just may participate. Degenerates can convince other degenerates to bet on anything if the vibe is right! The problem is that I don’t know how much of that McAfee can do and I don’t know many other ESPN talents that have that kind of equity with their audience.

Don’t judge Smith solely on recent weeks. It’s a short period when he has come off as really unlikable, but it’s part of a much larger career that has shown you over and over again that he knows how to attract and connect with an audience. Having him is a win for any network. But is it a win that’s worth an annual salary of 15 or 20 million dollars? I don’t think it is.

Stephen A. Smith has goals he wants to accomplish. There are new realities in the media business and ESPN needs to be ready to adapt. If the age of the star pundit on television is over, I’m not sure a long and expensive contract makes sense for either side.

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Seller to Seller: John Goforth, Magellan AI

“I love hiring people to do job A so they are ready to do job B in six months and that’s always been a really successful tactic for me as well.”

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Graphic for a seller to seller feature with John Goforth of Magellan AI

John Goforth is in his fifth year as Chief Revenue Officer at Magellan AI, a podcast advertising analytics platform. In his ‘previous life,’ Goforth spent more than a dozen years selling and managing in radio, with a heavy emphasis in sports.

After stops at KMOX, KFNS and 101 ESPN in St. Louis, Goforth was recruited to ESPN Chicago and later took over as Local Sales Manager for 670 The Score and 93XRT. When he looks back at his time with those stations and companies, he thinks about how much he enjoyed the creativity involved in the business. His success, he believes, came from his work ethic and building great relationships with clients who he would work tirelessly for to create engaging advertising campaigns he knew would drive results.

But Goforth also saw the declining revenue of traditional media and saw the opportunity in the podcast space. So, since 2016, Goforth’s sales life has revolved around podcasting.

Magellan AI has software which continuously monitors 40,000 advertisers across 50,000 podcasts. They work with publishers, ad agencies and brands and some have referred to the company as “the Google of podcasting.”

Goforth had previously worked with Magellan AI as Senior Vice President of Sales at HowStuffWorks, he was their first subscriber. “It’s so much easier to sell an advertiser who is already engaged in the podcast ecosystem than someone who isn’t,” Goforth told BSM in 2022. “I always wanted it to be someone else’s job to convince them that podcasts were the right channel. I just want to find the people that have already embraced the channel and convince them my content was good content to try.

“Sellers use us to understand the marketplace – who’s spending, what genres are they accelerating in, where are they pulling back, how much money are they spending and what their competitive field and industries look like.”

For example, Magellan AI data can tell you that in the month of April, Better Help spent nearly $7.7 million in podcast advertising, Amazon spent nearly $5.5 million. It can also tell you that Toyota was the top spending auto dealer in podcasting for the month and that 7 of the top 15 spenders in the month of April spent the most in sports.

When asked about the current state of the podcast industry and the knowledge people have of the industry, Goforth said, “The industry is evolving…the big learning curve for everyone is getting past the idea that Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) is bad, that DAI is equal to programmatic. DAI is the way in which an ad is served, it has nothing to do with the ad style. Programmatic is a way in which to buy ads.

“So, we’re past downloads and impressions and what is a pre-roll a mid-roll and a post-roll and now it’s on to what type of inventory are we selling and who’s selling it.”

Goforth said if 2020 and 2021 were the years of the content acquisition wars, right now is the era of inventory acquisition wars for podcasting. “I don’t think companies care so much about being able to say ‘we are the exclusive provider of this podcast, and we are the only ones with access to this inventory.’ That still exists…but as more brand awareness gets involved, it’s really important to be able to offer scale.”

Sports has been a big part of Goforth’s career from his days selling St. Louis Cardinals Radio on KMOX to being part of a brand-new FM sports station in St. Louis at 101 ESPN, to managing sports sales in one of the top markets in the country. He said for podcasting, there are a couple reasons why sports content does so well.

“Sports is a great gateway drug,” he said. “A lot of brands that are newer to podcasts are comfortable with sports and sports content. If they have to go explain something to their bosses, they’re never going to get in trouble for saying they bought sports…By and large, sports feels safe to traditional marketers. The other thing that goes along with that is the proliferation of sports gambling. Sports gambling is, in some ways, funding sports media.”

One area that is no different for Goforth in the software business from the media business is having to recruit and train salespeople if you are going to be successful. He said he has used different strategies in the past but has come back to one of the simpler strategies when it comes to hiring sellers.

“It’s one of the most challenging pieces of running a monetization business, finding the people that can actually go do it. I’ve evolved over the years, I’ve had lots of different philosophies and theories…and ultimately, I’ve circled around to the philosophy of Malcolm Gladwell…the concept is, recruiting is hard enough and no matter what you do, you are going to get it wrong 50% of the time. So, don’t overthink it, follow your gut. Thats been the most successful path for me. Do I like this person? Would I want to have a beer with this person? Do they seem intelligent?

“I don’t subscribe to the ‘check the box’ theory…If I am hiring a podcast seller, it’s less interesting to me if you have sold podcasts. If everything else is great, I can teach you that part. Are you smart? Do you have that motor, that drive? Thats the one thing that is non-negotiable, the internal motor. I want to hire adults to be adults. I don’t want to have to check in on them and micromanage. I just want them to tell me when they need something and be supportive of them. I want to hire smart, competent people to do their job and if they need training, I give it to them. Thats been the most successful thing for me.”

Much like Brian Schneekloth from Beasley Media Group Boston talked about in this space previously, Goforth is a big believer in growing your sales bench internally. “I love hiring people to do job A, so they are ready to do job B in six months and that’s always been a really successful tactic for me as well.”

Whether it has been driving revenue selling sports media or driving revenue selling software to help others build podcast revenue, John Goforth is finding success and staying at the top of his game.

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Gary Myers Continues His Storied Career Covering the NFL

“If I knew I was going to be this happy writing books and working as a consultant on other projects, I would have gotten out of the newspaper business a long time before then.”

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Screengrab of author Gary Myers
Screengrab: Big Blue View

In the world of sports media, things are certainly a lot different today than they were five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago and thirty years ago.  For Gary Myers, a veteran of 8 years covering the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News and 29 years as an NFL columnist for the New York Daily News, staying involved with covering football these days meant transitioning into something different.

Myers has been working on various projects including writing books and consulting on a documentary about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

“It was a pretty long newspaper career,” said Myers who left the Daily News in 2018.  “It was a really good time to get out of there because unfortunately the Daily News is just not what it used to be.”

Myers’ most recent book is titled “Once a Giant” and chronicles the 1986 Super Bowl champion New York Giants.  He is also working on a book that examines the same subject as the documentary that he is working on…who was the bigger reason for the New England Patriots’ dynasty?

Bill Belichick or Tom Brady?

“I think people’s opinions have gotten skewed by the fact that Tom went to Tampa and won a Super Bowl in his first year there and Belichick made the playoffs once in four years without Tom,” said Myers.   “I would say my end evaluation is 60-40 Brady but it’s not 80-20 and some people think it’s 90-10.  Somebody had to draft the kid.” 

Speaking of Tom Brady, the future Hall of Fame quarterback is set to take his talents to the Fox NFL broadcast booth this season teaming with Kevin Burkhardt on the network’s top team.  While some are questioning just how committed Brady is to the job and how good he will be on television, Myers is convinced that Brady will be a star on TV.

Myers wrote a book about Brady and Peyton Manning back in 2015 and was able to spend a lot of time with Brady.

“Tom was very cooperative and gracious with me,” said Myers.  “He’s a genuinely good guy who I think is really bright.  He’s very well-spoken and eloquent.  I think he’s going to be great on TV.  People are going to be looking for him to fail and I think they’re going to be disappointed because I think he’s going to be very good at this.” 

In addition to being an NFL writer and columnist during his career, Myers was also the NFL insider for HBO’s “Inside The NFL” from 1989 to 2001.  Today, writers who have been NFL insiders on TV include the likes of Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport.  Back in the day, it was Myers who followed in the footsteps of the legendary Will McDonough.

Even though he has transitioned away from his legendary newspaper career, Myers has been able to stay connected to covering football.  With the way that the newspaper business has changed, the writing was on the wall that it was time to step away and find another way to cover the NFL.

Myers was not ready to call it a career.

“I still have way too much energy to retire,” said Myers.  “I’m taking advantage of what I call my institutional knowledge and put it to another way of using it.  If I knew I was going to be this happy writing books and working as a consultant on other projects, I would have gotten out of the newspaper business a long time before then.”

When Myers was writing books while also working full-time for the Daily News, he had to find a way and the time to juggle both responsibilities.  In the case of “Once A Giant”, he spent two years just working on the book and on a subject that meant a lot to him.

And he was able to put a lot of TLC into it without having to divide any time with a newspaper life.

“It is the best book I’ve ever written,” said Myers.  “I was incredibly passionate about the subject.  It’s all I was working on for two years.  I didn’t take on any other projects.”

While Myers has transitioned into books and other projects, the newspaper scene in New York City, as well as many other markets around the country, continues to descend.  When Myers was with the Daily News, he felt that his employer had the gold standard when it came to covering sports in the Big Apple.

Today, Myers laments what the Daily News now is and gives credit to his once bitter rival, the New York Post, for continuing to do things the right way. 

“They (the New York Post) are the only newspaper, in this area at least, that are still approaching it like it’s 1985 in terms of the resources that they put into covering sports,” said Myers.  “They still send five people to the Super Bowl.  The Daily News is a shell of what it used to be. That’s sad to me.”

The role of NFL beat writers and columnists continue to evolve because the access has changed significantly.  When Myers covered the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News, there was always a plethora of players available for him to talk to and that left him with a good problem to have when he went back to the press room to work.

“The hardest decision I had to make when I left the locker room was which story do I want to write because I had about ten in my notebook,” said Myers. 

Fast forward to today and things have changed for reporters.

Many times, there are only a handful of players in the locker room during media access periods and that restricts the ability of the writers to create relationships with the players and get exclusive stories.

What you have now are the same reporters going up to the same players at the same time.

“I am convinced that if the NFL had its way and the teams had their way, the only people that would be covering the teams now would be the teams’ website, the teams’ video department and they would grant access to the network partners to come in before the games,” said Myers.  “They don’t need newspapers anymore and they don’t need local radio stations.  It’s just different.  The day-to-day media is no longer a priority to the teams.”

And that is a big reason why Gary Myers is enjoying the new chapter of his storied career covering the NFL.  He doesn’t have to worry about the day-to-day grind of covering a team because he’s made the very successful transition to writing books and finding other ways to tell stories about the National Football League.

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