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Marc Bertrand Has Fought Like Hell

We’ve had a great run. We’re fully aware of how great this has been and how lucky we’ve been to have this run of success.”

Brian Noe




Laurence Fishburne’s character, Morpheus, once said in The Matrix, “You take the blue pill – the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Marc Bertrand is a successful sports radio host in Boston. Although he can’t dodge bullets and contort his body at lightning speed like Matrix characters, he once faced a similar choice.

Take the blue pill and remain at WEEI, the heritage station he had dreamed of working for as he commuted to college. Take the red pill and work at the Sports Hub, an upstart with potential but lots of unknowns. Marc chose the red pill, and the rabbit hole has been way better than he ever imagined.

For the past 14 years, 98.5 The Sports Hub has been Marc’s radio home. He’s hosted middays with Scott Zolak for eight years now. Marc talks about how much it means to him to be recognized by his peers as the number one midday show in a major market. He also talks about his humble beginnings in the industry and the lengths he went to for real opportunities. Marc is an awesome storyteller. He describes the meaning behind his nickname and shares funny stories about Deion Sanders and Mary Lou Retton. Enjoy!

Brian Noe: How was everything in Phoenix for Super Bowl week?

Marc Bertrand: Well, it was my first time back since the pandemic. The last time we were there was Miami right before this mess began. My impression of it was that it was back in a big way. It’s changed for sure; it’s not all radio anymore. It made me a little bit sad when I came down the escalator at the convention center and saw that a sign said Media Row and not Radio Row. But it’s great. It was lively. There were a ton of big names in the room, which is great to see. It looks healthy, is what it is.

It’s changed a little bit. There’s social media people there. It’s not all radio, like I said, there’s TV in there. I’m just glad that it’s a big deal still, that there are outlets that still want to be there and be a part of it. It is my absolute favorite part of this job is doing radio row. It’s the thing I look forward to every single year in this job is going and doing that week. I was happy to be back and I’m happy to see that it’s still a pretty good event.

BN: Do you have any funny stories from all those times being on Radio Row?

MB: Here’s probably the funniest one. Going back to the Super Bowl in Houston when the Patriots were there to take on the Falcons, we managed to get Deion Sanders on our show. Deion Sanders didn’t do a lot of radio hits, but he came on our show. Zo talked with him about getting picked off by Deion twice in an interview. And in that interview, he decided midway through that he was done with the interview because he saw Antonio Brown walk by. So he just got up and dropped the headset on the table in the middle of the interview and walked away. And that was the end of our interview. [Laughs] There have been weird things like that happen.

I also love, I think it was that same year, Hardy [Rob Poole], who’s on our show, met a childhood idol of his in Mary Lou Retton, which is the last person you’d expect to see on Radio Row. He told her a story about how he went to a shopping mall in suburban Detroit 25, 30 years ago to meet her when he was a kid, and how they were reunited and she just loved the story. They got these great pictures together hugging. It’s just sort of the funny stuff like that happens. Some of the guests, you don’t have to try too hard and their presence can be funny.

BN: That’s funny, man. I love both stories, but you couldn’t script that any better where Deion’s like ‘Oh, it’s AB, I’m outta here’. That is just hilarious to me.

MB: Yeah, and then it ended. It was like there goes Deion Sanders, the greatest cornerback that ever lived.

BN: [Laughs] Thanks for the time, Deion.

MB: And when he was on, he was funny. He was engaging. He was great to talk to and then when he decided it was time to get up and go see a friend, that was it. The interview was over and he left us without even a goodbye.

BN: That’s great, man. What did you think about the way the game played out?

MB: I liked the end result because I was rooting for Patrick Mahomes. I think he’s the most marketable, most likable player in the sport. I like the Chiefs and I like the fact that they’ve got a great quarterback. I believe in quarterbacks. It’s sort of a thing that I have. Having watched Tom Brady for two decades with the Patriots be the reason why they won so many games, I just sort of believe in that way of doing business, having great quarterbacks.

The game itself had a bunch of points. Points scored in different ways, a defensive score, a long punt return, there was a lot to like about that game. I’m not the least bit angry about the holding call at the end of the game. I have no issue with the call. I think the Chiefs took it to the Eagles in the second half and the Eagles couldn’t get a stop. At the end of the night, the better quarterback, you let him hang around, he’s going to win a game. That’s how it played out.

BN: Tom Brady is known as the GOAT. On his Pro Football Reference page, it says he’s also known as the Pharaoh. I’ve never heard one person refer to him as the Pharaoh. Have you guys ever done that?

MB: I’ve never referred to him as the Pharaoh and I have no idea where that started.

BN: [Laughs] I don’t either.

MB: No idea.

BN: None either. I’ve never heard it one time. How about your nickname though? Beetle — how did that come about?

MB: So Tony Mazz (Tony Massarotti), going back to 2009 when we first launched the station, decided that he needed a nickname for me. I wish there was a good story behind it, but Mazz tried out a handful of nicknames over the course of the week. For some reason that one stuck, and I don’t even really know how it started. At one point, we had a producer who said he thought it started from the Beetle Bailey cartoon, going back I don’t know how many decades ago that comic strip was.

It was one of about three or four nicknames that Tony Mazz tried out one week as like a running joke that he needed to establish a nickname for me, and that one was the one that stuck. It took a little bit of time, but he called me that enough times that it lasted. Now it’s become a nickname that almost everybody listener-wise calls me. It just sort of stuck. I don’t know why. I mean, it’s terrible, I wish I had a cool story. I wish it were actually based on something. But it most definitely isn’t.

BN: I actually think it’s better that way. I love that story. Do you remember the two or three other nicknames that were in the running?

MB: I don’t, but they all were B’s. They were all B nicknames to have the alliteration with Bertrand. I wish I could recall; we’re going back 14 years ago now. I don’t remember, but it was so contrived, and so forced that I can’t believe that it stuck. I really can’t.

BN: You just signed a new extension, how does that feel to you?

MB: It feels great. To still be in the same place that I was 14 years ago when we started the station, it’s home, it’s my radio home. It’s where I’ve worked for the overwhelming majority of my adult life. And so, it’s great. It feels great to have the security of a new deal. It’s comfortable, is what it is to come to work every day and know all the people you work with and know who they are and know what they’re about.

Now on middays with Zo and Hardy, we’ve been together for eight years. That’s a really sort of comfortable situation that there’s not working through any newness. We’re still doing it, man. It feels great to still be doing it and still be doing it at a sports station that is still doing so well. We’ve had a great run. We’re fully aware of how great this has been and how lucky we’ve been to have this run of success.

BN: Is Zo any different off the air than he is on the air?

MB: I would say that on the air he’s subdued from what he is in real life. [Laughs] And so yes, he’s slightly different off the air in that he might be just a tad bit crazier, and I say that with all the love in my heart because Zo’s a fun guy to be around at any given moment. It’s sort of funny, because on trips to radio row and trips to the Super Bowl site every year, you spend a lot of time with your co-hosts. You sort of live with them for a week.

We got to the airport last Friday night coming back to town from Phoenix and we all went our separate ways. It’s sort of like, oh, what are you doing tomorrow? They sort of become like members of your family. I spend more time with Zo and talking to Zo than I do my own wife and children. For the most part he is the same guy, but I would say he could be a little bit more wild and a little bit more fun when he’s off the air.

BN: Your show was just named the top major market midday show on the Barrett Sports Media Top 20. When you get recognition like that, being number one in your daypart, what’s your reaction to that?

MB: Oh, it’s awesome. It’s still a thrill, don’t get me wrong. We love it. We watched out for it last week when it dropped that morning to see if we won again. I love that it’s people that we work with in the industry, which I think is the best kind of recognition. People that do this job, people that are managers in this job, people that really understand programming and understand radio.

I think that’s the thing that makes it probably the most rewarding that it’s recognition from within the industry, people who have a clue. It’s not some fan contest or listener contest, it’s people that understand the job. That is why we’re still really happy to get that respect. I can’t thank the people enough that thought we were worthy of their vote. It’s great. I don’t know any other way to put it other than we love the fact that we’re number one again.

BN: Getting recognized by people in the industry, does it cause you to reflect on the beginning of your path and how you initially started out?

MB: I totally agree with that. I do think it’s, for me, really rewarding to say I went from doing updates on weekends, to now having a show that my name is on, and is being recognized not only by people here in Boston but people across the country. To be number one in anything in the country is huge. So yeah, I do, I definitely have reflected on that. Especially with having won it more than once, which is remarkable. If it had happened once, it would have been a big deal. For it to now happen three times, I’m over the moon for it. It’s unbelievable. I think there’s definitely some reflecting.

The other part that I reflect on when something like that happens is all the people that go into that. It’s easy for Zo and me and Hardy to be the faces of the show and to be the guys who sort of get this credit and recognition. But we’ve got so many people that help us do our job. Our producer, Tom Morgan, he took over for Jim Louth two years ago. Jim Louth has now moved on to be our APD. Tom Morgan stepped up and has been fantastic is his first time as an executive producer. I can’t tell you how great he has been over the last couple of years since taking the job, and taking on more responsibility, and how much that guy helps us every day.

Tyler Milliken, who’s also on our show, these guys put in more hours and more work to make us look good. I think about those guys and how much they do to make this show happen every single day. I don’t know that I could do it all myself. Zo couldn’t do it all himself. The support we get from our two producers, just always actively involved, as is Rick Radzik, who I know does get credit. They put his name in the story. We have so much great support behind the scenes across the board that make it possible to be in this position.

BN: I’m curious what you would have been more surprised by, if someone had told you when you were a weekend update anchor that you would have risen to the position that you’re currently in, or if someone had told you when the Sports Hub launched, that it would turn out to be the ratings juggernaut that it is, which would have surprised you more?

MB: Oh, that is a talk radio host question right there; the very difficult either/or. I can tell you this, I dreamed of being a host in this market. They didn’t call it manifesting when I was in college, but I used to drive by on my way from where I grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts, back and forth to college at UMass Amherst. I used to drive by on the Mass Pike, the New Balance building where WEEI used to be when I was in college. I used to drive by it with my girlfriend, now my wife, and I would say I’m going to work there someday. I used to say that. And she was like, okay, fine, whatever, you’re going to work there. I used to say, I’m going to work there someday. That’s where I want to be. I’m going to work there.

Then I got an internship there in college and even did updates on weekends. That’s what I dreamed up. That’s just something that was in my mind was being a host on the best radio station in the market for sports. I did not dream when the Sports Hub started that it was going to be the monster that it turned into. I was going to the Sports Hub if I’m being honest in 2009, because it represented an opportunity, and it represented more hours of work, and a little bit more money. At the time, that was really important, working part time, very little guaranteed money, guaranteed role, guaranteed anything.

There were people in my own family that said, what are you doing? You’re on the air at the station you always wanted to be on, and now after a year and a half you’re gonna walk out the door for the upstart? You must be crazy. Maybe I was a little crazy. Maybe it was a little shortsighted, but I thought it was going to be a good opportunity.

I fought like hell to get the job. They were focused on who their hosts were going to be filling out the dayparts with the major headliners and the names; I was just looking for an update job. I badgered Mike Thomas until he gave me the job, and sat in the lobby at the radio station without an appointment, telling the receptionist that I did have an appointment with Mike Thomas, and sat it out, and waited for hours until he agreed to come out and talk to me.

I look back on it now and say, there’s no way I could’ve predicted this. I could not have predicted that the station was going to be this successful, or that I personally was going to be this successful, but it all worked out in the end. It’s worked out better than I could have ever imagined.

BN: Man, that’s an amazing story. When you initially began at the Sports Hub, maybe you thought more long term, but if I were in those shoes, I would’ve been thinking more about the here and now. Did you make a decision thinking of the next 10, 15 years?

MB: No, absolutely not. I was not thinking about the next five years; I was thinking about the next year or two. What could I do in the next year or two to make myself a better candidate for whatever that next job might be? That to me was the thing I was thinking about was the opportunity to get on the air more, the opportunity to do more. That’s what it represented. That’s what I was most concerned with was having more reps.

That’s one of the things that really was different in the beginning for the Sports Hub, is everybody was on board, everybody was really eager to do well, everybody was eager to sort of have David slay Goliath. That’s what we were in it for, was this massive challenge and how it wasn’t going to happen without people really putting in the work. I was lucky because I got the chance. I got on the air and had the chance and was given an opportunity and got a whole heck of a lot better along the way, which I don’t think I would’ve ever received had I stayed doing the weekend updates on EEI.

BN: When you think about your future, considering the way you had to battle in the beginning to get opportunities and to move up to where you are, do you think that causes you to think more about what’s now instead of what’s next?

MB: I think the job makes you so busy with the here and now that sometimes it’s really hard to think beyond tomorrow’s show, or this week’s shows. That’s a little bit different as you get older because when I started at the Sports Hub, I was 24. I now have the show to take care of every day. That is a lot more time consuming than being an update anchor or a weekend guy.

I have far more responsibility in the job now than I did when I was 24, but I also have way more real life responsibility at 37 than I did then. I’m married now and I have three kids. The time to sit there and ponder anything beyond this week and what time is basketball practice for a nine year old, it’s just a busy life. It’s hard to think about anything beyond what I’m doing in the here and now.

I’m sure as time goes on, there could be chances for more opportunities to do something that is different from the show. Nothing in this job is permanent. Nothing. This is where I want to be. This is the show I want to be on, and when you get a new contract you don’t have to think about the what ifs. What if there is a change? What if they do go in a different direction? Things of that nature.

I often say, I’ll be doing sports radio here or nowhere. That’s what it comes down to. I would not want to work in another market because I just don’t know that I’d be invested enough. I care about the teams here and I care about the people here because it’s my friends, my family, it’s everything. I don’t know that I could do it somewhere else.

BSM Writers

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.”

Derek Futterman




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 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

“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.”

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BSM Writers

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.

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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.

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BSM Writers

5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit

“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”

Jeff Caves




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:

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 

You’re welcome. 

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Barrett Media Writers

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