Don Martin Values The Opportunity To Learn and Network at The BSM Summit
“Jason was the first one to bring all of us together. It wasn’t so much what somebody said, it’s what somebody did.”
Sports talk radio is the people business. Connecting with an audience. (People.) Connecting with managers that might hire you one day. (People.) Understanding and utilizing new technology is a bridge that helps strengthen connections. That’s great, but if you stink at forming relationships to begin with, that bridge really does you no good. I don’t think I’ve met anybody in the sports radio world that preaches the value of connecting with people more than Don Martin.
As the Executive Vice President of Programming at iHeartRadio, and the General Manager of AM 570 in Los Angeles, Don has connected with many, many people throughout his career. That’s why he’s such an advocate for the upcoming BSM Summit in L.A. from March 21st-22nd. If forming and strengthening relationships is a priority, which it should be, that’s a great place to do it.
You can feel Don’s signature enthusiasm through his words below. He talks about his reaction to crosstown rivals sharing the same stage at the Summit. Don gives an interesting response to what’s next in sports radio. He has a great message for people that are on the fence about attending the Summit, and as an added bonus, Don works Wilt Chamberlain, Shawn Michaels and Phil Jackson into the discussion. Enjoy!
Brian Noe: Can you think of a specific example of something you heard at one of the previous Summits, where you thought ‘Man, that’s a great idea’, and you put it into practice yourself?
Don Martin: It’s an interesting question because I go into the Summit probably a little different than most others because of where I am at this stage of my career. I think more for me the thing that stuck out is Jason [Barrett] was the first one to bring all of us together. It wasn’t so much what somebody said, it’s what somebody did.
Before that, there was always news talk, and they would kind of throw in the sports guys here and there, but no one ever pulled off the sports conference, and brought out the best of the best, and had everybody on stage talking about certain aspects of this game and where we came from, and how we got here, and what the future looks like. I think that’s the biggest thing for me is that the guy decided to pull off something that hadn’t been done.
I just take my hat off to him for pulling it together and having it live. He pulled it off, and then you had it live through a pandemic. And it’s still going. I think that the biggest thing I got out of the Summit is watching Jason Barrett and his folks — because it’s not him, it’s a village, and you’re one of them — that come together and do just a spectacular job of bringing all of us together.
We’ve never done that before and then we all sit around saying, okay, what are we doing well? What can we do better? And let’s sit around and share some crazy stories of all the years that we’ve been doing this.
That’s probably the best part of it for me, the camaraderie. It’s the getting together with everybody. We see each other at the Super Bowl, or certain events, but dollars are tight and people don’t get to travel as much. When we went back to New York last year, there’s only a handful of us from the West that were able to go because a lot of the companies didn’t allow people to travel. Now everybody is coming this way, you’re going to get a lot of these people and flavors of the West.
He does a great job of that, getting the talk show hosts and everybody in. I just think it’s a lifting up of a format more than it is necessarily what did you garner from that. It’s a coming together and lifting up as a format and understanding that we get more out of this business and this format together than we do as individuals.
BN: If it’s more about the people for you, would you also look at it as a shot in the arm? You’re doing a job day in, day out. When you get to see everybody, do you feel more invigorated about the industry as a whole after a conference like this?
DM: You can get that, but I want to tell you, most of the folks that you’re going to see up on stage better be doing that within their own ecosystems every day, giving that shot in the arm. We’re the guys, the ladies, that need to be the folks that are doing that. I think what’s refreshing is to see that, like I said, there’s definitely a lot more to gain in numbers than there is individually.
We’re all feeling the same things. We’re all playing the same game. If you’re not into this game, if it’s a struggle, and if you’re pulling through each day, it’s probably not the right game to be in. This game here, it better be 90% what beats in your chest and 10% what beats in your head. It has to. I can teach folks all day long formatics. I can teach folks the business. I can teach folks all day long how to come together as a team. You can’t teach passion, and you can’t teach grit, want-to and fight.
The goal is helping each other find people who want to get into this game that have that fire burning in their belly. That’s what you get out of this is how do we come together and find more young people, find more diversity of voices, find more diversity of people, teach, coach, pull it together. That’s our responsibility because we were able to get that from somebody along the way. I had wonderful mentors. For us, it’s our responsibility right now to give back and make this thing sing.
BN: Is there anybody in particular that you’re looking forward to hear speak?
DM: I want to hear from everybody. There’s not a guest that I want to hear speak as far as go out and find a Phil Jackson. Who I want to hear speak is all of the voices. The one thing that Jason has done so well is get this diversity of voices together. It’s from folks that are starting out, all the way through folks at the end of their career. I want to hear from those people, not any one celebrity. I want to hear from the diversity of voices because it gives you a look into this business from all aspects.
Every single panel at this conference is filled with wonderful, diverse voices. I just like to see the magic in their eye when they talk. I want to see the passion in what they bring to the table because I can’t feel what they feel. I need to feel that from them. I don’t care whether it’s Shawn Michaels that he’s bringing in now, whether it’s talk show hosts from local to national. I also want to know what some of the younger programmers are feeling. I’d like to know what they’re feeling and why.
I want to hear from everybody over the course of two days, so you glean something from folks that are young, that are in the middle part of their career, and those at the end of their career. I want to hear from everybody in the space, a diversity of voices. If you’re thinking of coming to this event, this is the one event of the year that you should come to because that’s what you’re going to get.
You’re going to listen to a lot of different topics, which is awesome. I want people to come to his event. Yes, you should go buy a ticket, show up, park yourself in this coliseum, and listen to what these people have to say if you want to be in this game.
BN: At a conference like this, if you’re looking at the pamphlet and see the rundown of the panels and which subjects will be talked about, what do you circle and say, oh, man, I’m really looking forward to this panel?
DM: Anything that’s new within the game. Last year, it was the gambling. This year, I’ll stay with that a little bit too. I will always listen to those changing pieces of the puzzle. I love the understanding of social, and how we’re utilizing social. We’re no longer building quote-unquote radio stations; we’re now building talent ecosystems. You need to understand all these new technologies.
We create the product, all of our guys, now how are you delivering that product because we need to be wherever the audience is. What’s interesting to me is any panel that allows us to stretch our imagination beyond where we’re at.
We’ve done that over the last three years. I don’t want to act like this is going to be a unique one this year. We’ve all had to stretch now because we had to stretch into digital, we had to stretch into on-demand podcasts, original podcasting, video casts, we’ve had to stretch into all of the 360. Anybody that can help me understand it better, something new, something fast. The world is always changing for us. Every single day more technology comes out. As long as I can always know what the new technology, what the new button is.
Then I like to challenge our folks to create it themselves. I want us to come up with the never-been-done. We’re always learning. There’s something to get out of every single panel. You just have to be open-minded and sit there and absorb it. But don’t go in critical. Go in with an open mind saying I’m here to just be a sponge and have a good time. If you’re not constantly learning, get out.
BN: As far as the never-been-done-before, remote broadcasts were once unheard of, now it seems like small potatoes compared to what might happen next. Is there anything you’ve got your eye on, or anything that you’re hearing about that hasn’t been done before, but could happen in the relative near future?
DM: You don’t know what is the next one. Someone’s out there inventing that right now. You better just have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on, be open to it, give it a shot and let’s go. We are no longer radio guys, we’re audio. In any way you’re going to put it out; some of the audio has video. Some of the audio is just straight audio cut up in a different way. When we first started this, podcasts were one, two, three, four hours. Now they’re doing them in 20 minutes. You have to be open to change. How is the new group going to consume what we put out?
With the constant changing landscape of social, it’s the short content that seems to be winning. It’s also understanding that we need to be wherever the audience is. The audience is ever changing. Now you have this young Gen Z group that all they want is TikTok. They want those quick bursts of things.
Then I find out this last year, AM 570 here in Los Angeles, we started our TikTok in March. Next thing you know, we had one of the highest increases in TikTok of all of the eight iHeart stations in the market. And we have big stations, KIIS, KOST, MYfm, KFI. What I found out was our sports audience absolutely — from 18 to 75 — love TikTok. Who would’ve thunk it?
Now the other interesting thing, Bri, is that we’re living in a time where you have the two biggest generations in the history of the country living simultaneously, which makes it really interesting. Now you’ve got to be able to take care of the young and the old. It’s difficult for a talk show host.
But you know what? It’s also what makes it fun. It’s like when football puts in a new rule or basketball puts in a new rule, that’s our new rule. How do you keep both sides of that entertained? I love the way you do it because you have a passion for it. You did it with two brand new shows for us. You kept both sides going. It’s a tough thing to do.
I was watching a little video of Wilt Chamberlain the other day and he was talking about how none of these basketball players can cross decades and generations. It’s unfair to ask them to. He even said he didn’t think Michael Jordan could have played with him because he would’ve hurt him. Now he’s saying the same thing about LeBron.
In the world we’re living in, we’ve got to continue to progress while glorifying what was behind us. You still have that generation listening. How do you keep them both cool? That’s what’s fun. That’s what I’m looking for. That’s the next. The next is the balancing act. We’re going to all start doing a lot more video too. It’s fun. It’s so vibrant and crazy.
BN: You’ve been on panels before. Is it like sports radio where in this segment we’re supposed to be talking about Lamar Jackson, but the update guy just said something about Ja Morant, and I want to talk about Ja Morant. Is it ever like that, where you’ve got to make sure you’re coloring within the lines although you might want to talk about a different subject?
DM: How about every time.
DM: How about every time because you’re only there for 30 minutes. And most of us — like you just saw me right now — could talk 30 minutes without a problem. Now you’re going to share it with three different people. If I break it down mentally, and I sit there and say, okay, Jason, so you want three people that have a whole lot to say each to have 10 minutes? How the heck do you get in everything you want to say in 10 minutes? [Laughs]
So yeah, you really do need to listen to the narrative as far as the direction that’s going to be given from the person that’s going to be the lead of the group. And be succinct, it’s almost like being in a deposition; you have to just stick to the answer, please, don’t come off the rails. How do you get it all out in 10 minutes? Hell, you and I just talked for 20.
BN: I know it. What would you say to someone that says well, I gotta get on a plane, and I gotta make hotel reservations, I don’t know, man. What would you say to a person that’s thinking about going to the Summit but hasn’t said, I’m all-in, I’ll be there?
DM: Life is about investing in yourself. You have a lot of decisions to make as you invest in yourself, whether you invest in yourself in a college education, you invest in yourself in a business school, whatever you decide. Okay, this is an investment in yourself. Jason does a tremendous job of stacking all these panels with people that have a ridiculous amount of knowledge based on just living this business. When you talk about the experience that the people up on that stage are going to have and bring to the table, there’s a tremendous amount of knowledge that is being handed out. And the camaraderie.
Remember, 50% of this game is who you know, so you want to go and know these people. Go up and shake Eric Shanks’ hand. Go say hi to Julie Talbott. Walk up there and tell Colin Cowherd you listen. You have Mason and Ireland, and Petros and Money for the first time on a stage together, it’s going to be comedic genius.
Just go and figure out if this is what you want to do for your career, invest in yourself. Be there, bring a notebook, listen, take in that information. My only advice is, take little nuggets from everybody. Don’t take a whole lot from any one person, take little nuggets from everybody, and make your own world. Everybody can be a success in this. If you put in the work, you have the passion, and you’re willing and able to go to things like this.
BN: I just think it’s so cool, Petros and Money on the same stage as Mason and Ireland, two different shows on competing stations in the same town. As the man heading AM 570, what do you think about that panel being put together?
DM: I love it. Now I consider both Mason and Ireland friends. Ireland has worked with me in the past. He was with us at 570, and he was with us with UCLA. Mychal Thompson, remember, we were the home of the Lakers for many, many years. I’ve got a tremendous amount of friends that work in that building, and vice versa. When you’re in this game long enough, everybody crosses over because there are only so many chess spaces on a board at each one of these stations. You do a lot of that.
That’s what makes this conference so unique and so fun. You’ll see me with my arm around Bruce Gilbert who’s across the street running Westwood One while I’m over here at FOX. You’re going to have ESPN guys, you’re going to have Good Karma guys. We transcend the business during this conference. It’s not about individual companies. We all work for companies, but we’re all in this game together. There’s so much more strength in numbers.
We need to one day be aiming outside of the sports vertical, into the talk and music verticals, and getting our new listeners. We don’t need to be beating each other up. We need to go outside of this vertical and bring in new listeners from those other formats. This is what brings that together. That’s how we win. Grow this format, not from beating each other up but from going and getting new people.
I’m the Executive Vice President of Programming for iHeart, including Premiere, which is FOX Sports Radio. On the other side of the coin, I am the general manager of AM 570 here in Los Angeles. I’m wearing multiple hats. When I’m sitting here, I go up against 710 every day. And then in my other job with Scott [Shapiro], I go up against ESPN, Westwood One, and anybody else that’s out there, CBS, NBC, it doesn’t matter. At this conference, we drop our uniforms at the lobby and we all go in together. We’re one team, we’re sports broadcasting.
BN: How long does it take for you to put the uniform back on after the conference?
DM: You know what, it’s kind of like being in the NFL or in the NBA. You show up together at the stadium in your suit. You go into the locker room, put on your uniform, and you want to go and beat the shit out of that person across the hall in that other locker room. Then when the game’s over, you meet in the middle of the floor or the middle of the field, everybody takes a knee and you hold hands, then you go put your suit on and you go out and party with them. It’s the business. It’s the world.
That’s the thing, our business is no different than their business. It’s not. And everything in this game, as you know better than anybody, is networking. What happens when your job goes away? Well, you better know the guy across the street. The answer to your question is we’re all in it together.
Brian Noe is a columnist for BSM and an on-air host heard nationwide on FOX Sports Radio’s Countdown To Kickoff. Previous roles include stops in Portland, OR, Albany, NY and Fresno, CA. You can follow him on Twitter @TheNoeShow or email him at email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
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