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Adam Amin Will Broadcast Whatever is in Front of Him

“That’s always kind of the goal eventually – to have one of those positions and maybe get a chance to be the voice of a sport in America.”

Derek Futterman

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Adam Amin
Courtesy: FOX Sports

Adam Amin had never watched a game of water polo in his life, nor did he have any background information on how the sport was broadcast, let alone played. During his formative years in the industry though, eschewing opportunities to go on the air was simply not in his psyche. Amin wanted to stand out, and was willing to do anything it took to become familiar with a sport well enough to call it.

Three weeks after being asked about calling water polo, Amin was at Princeton University on the assignment. It came after considerable time spent reading about the sport, watching previous matches and having conversations with players, coaches and personnel. By the time he arrived, Amin felt like people could rely on him to deliver objective, factual coverage of the match.

“It forced me to expand my horizons and get out of a comfort zone and not just do football and basketball and baseball – the three sports I was most connected to,” Amin said. “You’ve got to learn how to do a lot of stuff because you want to show that you have those abilities, and you want to show that you can handle a lot of stuff not just to your employer, but to yourself.”

Through his years penetrating into sports media, Amin was watching others in the industry rapidly ascend. He put an immense amount of pressure on himself to avoid reaching a presumed nadir, especially one that proved insurmountable. Amin knew that he would need to prove himself with quality reps and a relentless work ethic.

Throughout his time at Valparaiso University, Amin became one of the country’s premier college broadcasters, and was duly named as a finalist for the prestigious Jim Nantz Award in 2009. With 250 games and two Indiana Collegiate Sportscaster of the Year honors in tow, Amin was ready to make the leap to the big leagues.

Amin’s dedication to college mediums and pre-professional endeavors cemented his career path. In his early years, he received additional repetitions calling Minor League Baseball games for the Gary SouthShore RailCats and Joliet JackHammers, along with high school volleyball championships on FOX Sports Wisconsin. Amin also worked with Turner Sports on its broadcast of the Division II National Championship in basketball with Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich. Amin was industrious and steadfast in striving to attain success in sports media – traits he retains today – and is willing to embrace being uncomfortable.

“I kind of tried to approach everything like that and tried to approach it meticulously… even though I was a scared 23-year-old kid working with Hall of Fame-type people. It felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, but we approached it as meticulously as possible and as professionally as possible.”

Amin relocated to Spirit Lake, Iowa to be the sports director of KUOO Radio. The area contains an assortment of high school sports, and family members often turned to the station to listen to their childrens’ events. It required an adjustment to the way Amin called games, focusing more on documenting the action and less on implementing analysis or critical points of view.

Aside from learning about the managerial niche of the industry, Amin learned how to cover wrestling matches, setting him up to call the NCAA wrestling championships on ESPN once he joined the network in 2011. The move to a national outlet was a seminal career milestone, but one that may not have happened without the help of a mentor and trusted friend, Ian Eagle.

Eagle was running a sports broadcasting camp with NBC 4 New York reporter Bruce Beck at the time, and they took their campers to a Somerset Patriots Minor League Baseball game. Amin was the voice of the Patriots for two seasons, and he was asked by Eagle to speak to the campers about his job and sports media as a whole. He was eager for the chance, but felt apprehensive in determining what to discuss and how it was going to go. After embracing the discomfort though, Amin felt good about himself and shadowed Eagle at an NFL game, providing him with invaluable insight and understanding into the world of television. Eagle has also listened to Adam Amin’s tapes and provided feedback, acting as a bonafide resource and sounding board.

“There was just so much sound, real, applicable advice that you only get from people that have that type of experience, and I carried a lot of that for a long time,” Amin said. “Any time I needed something, I would call him and he would answer a question.”

In joining ESPN, Amin was prescient that being willing to strive for versatility would aggrandize the level of his future assignments. Through calling water polo, wrestling and volleyball, Amin was asked to broadcast sports leagues with larger profiles.

“I look at my colleagues and my contemporaries – for the most part, they’re all multi-sport people,” Amin said. “That’s kind of how I came up in this business. I imagine that’s how they came up in this business before me. They were just taught that you should do everything. Your job as a broadcaster is to broadcast whatever’s in front of you.”

Through the years, Amin was on the call for the Women’s Final Four, college football games and the NBA Playoffs, but much of his initial prime time experience came on ESPN Radio. Amin called NFL games on the platform, as well as on Sports USA Radio, over the span of eight years and familiarized himself with the flow of a broadcast. 

“Getting into that world of professional sports through radio, establishing contacts and then learning the sports themselves – the pacing and the speed of pro sports on the radio. You don’t really have a grasp of [that] until you get a chance to do it,” Amin expressed. “Radio, for me, was such an incredible training ground. It was where I learned how to fine-tune, and now all those lessons that I learned are still applicable even just doing, for the most part, TV today.”

Throughout his time at ESPN though, Amin felt extensive internal pressure regarding meeting his own goals. There was a metaphorical ticking clock in the back of his mind relating to the arc of his career, and he established checkpoints abound to ensure he was on the right track, at least how he defined it. 

Yet there are circumstances and situations outside of one’s control, and a part of sports media involves simply being in the right place at the right time. While he regrets adopting this mindset, he ponders whether or not he should have assuaged it and focused more on the fundamentals rather than the specific chances themselves. 

“Perfection is a good thing to strive for, but it’s a bad thing to hold in high regard because it’s not achievable,” Amin said. “That still bothers me to this day if I make those little mistakes, and I’m motivated to not make those little mistakes, but I also know that at some point, you have to have confidence in yourself and what you’re doing and the work that you put in.”

Amin ultimately exited ESPN at the conclusion of his contract in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and signed on to become the television voice of the Chicago Bulls. He grew up watching those great Bulls in the 1990s with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Now, he would be replacing the man who called five of the six championships during that era, Neil Funk, heightening expectations and only adding to the duress of being part of the soundtrack of his hometown team.

“There’s a lot of kids who grew up like me who loved the team and grew up rooting for them and would do anything to have this type of position,” Amin said. 

Amin quickly resumed broadcasting games nationally as well when he signed on with FOX Sports. There, he has had more of a fixated broadcast crew, allowing him to become familiar with his colleagues and establish an on-air chemistry. In continuing to broadcast games locally at the same time, he takes precedence after a majority of accomplished play-by-play announcers. The difference, in his opinion, is that he is still trying to find the ideal, winning formula in adjusting for each specific broadcast.

“The challenging part of it is still trying to balance a certain level of ‘homerism’ with still toeing this line of not neutrality,” Amin said. “I don’t think you’re ever truly neutral no matter what if you work for a team because you’re just connected and you want ‘your team’ to win. That’s a challenge, but I think it’s more of a challenge because not every fan is going to be in lockstep with how I call a game.”

Although he is the television voice of the Bulls, Amin does not hesitate to praise the opponents for outstanding feats or achievements on the court. He describes himself as someone who is easily impressed and excitable, but does his best to control the urge to exclaim and does so in moderation. In the end, Amin’s goal is to give viewers and listeners a vivid and accurate description that enables them to live vicariously and feel the highs and lows of a given contest.

At the same time, Amin wants to be an “easy listen,” which means recognizing his role in the broadcast and the charisma of his colleague, Bulls color commentator Stacey King. 

Aside from bringing the perspective of a former player, King has several sagacious and witty catchphrases used to enhance the broadcast and emphasize different aspects of the game. He is a voice Bulls fans have come to know and trust. Amin knows not to, nor does he desire to, overstep his bounds and take the spotlight. Neither man is the center of attraction, instead directing the viewers to recognize and celebrate the talent of the players on the court.

The same goes for when Amin is in the broadcast booth for FOX Sports calling the action on the gridiron. Amin, who is joined by color commentator Mark Schlereth and reporter Kristina Pink, has worked on NFL on FOX broadcasts for the last three seasons, and gradually became more comfortable in the role. 

While most sports fans and personalities were loathing the absence of fans at games during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amin used the unprecedented occurrence to his advantage. Because of this, he felt an alleviated sense of pressure and more freedom to experiment.

“It was so awkward – the silence; this weird, eerie silence at times,” Amin disclosed. “It helped us get closer – all the people I worked with – we became closer because of it because we were [all] in this kind of strange circumstance.”

Once fans were able to attend games again, Amin and his colleagues felt they had cultivated a strong chemistry that gave them the ability to broadcast the games in the way they best see fit. For instance, Amin tries to let Schlereth expound on points of analysis pertaining to the offensive line since he played there professionally.

Similarly for MLB on FOX national games, Amin pays attention to what his analyst A.J. Pierzynski does outside of the game. This year, Pierzynski began hosting a podcast called Foul Territory with Erik Kratz and Scott Braun. The show recently had a discussion about the race to 60 home runs between New York sluggers Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso, and Amin decided to talk about it, unscripted, on a recent live game broadcast.

“It’s just a nice way to get people comfortable, and that’s when you make your little jokes or you try to bring the personality out,” Amin said. “They’re much more open to that because they know they can trust you. They can trust that you’re not going to put them in a bad position. You’re not trying to make them look foolish or something. They know that you’re trying to make them shine, and that’s really, really, really important to me.”

Adam Amin considers himself fortunate to have compiled a laundry list of unforgettable moments in the industry and has lofty goals, which include calling the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals. He is thoroughly enjoying his current roles at the same time, normalizing his schedule with time to spend with family and friends, but never losing sight of what it took to get here.

“I’ve worked really hard to try to get to a point where I’ll maybe be in a position to call one of these big events down the line one day,” Amin said. “That’s always kind of the goal eventually – to have one of those positions and maybe get a chance to be the voice of a sport in America. That’s still a prestigious thing, and that’s still an important role.”

Some people delineate sports media as a gauntlet, and many parents advise progeny to take up more sustainable professions. There is a misnomer, however, attributed to just what persistence and unrelenting self-efficacy can engender, apropos to new technologies and unforeseen capabilities. Amin has taken full advantage of the landscape, and aims to perpetually redefine the height of his career apex.

“Everybody kind of creates their own path, and I think if you can stay centered in yourself and just try to focus on the things that are going to make the broadcast great and the show great so you and your teammates feel proud of what you do, that really goes a long way,” Amin said. “I know it sounds a little bit hackneyed or a little bit saccharin, but I really have come to believe that in the double-digit years I’ve done this at the national level.”

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Ryan Clark is Ready for ‘The Pivot’ to Grow with Channing Crowder, Fred Taylor and Fanatics

“We want to be a place where you can just be yourself and you can love yourself and truly tell your story and show people who you are.”

Derek Futterman

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Ryan Clark
Courtesy: The Pivot

Answering a call from Emmy Award-winning producer Alicia Zubikowsi, Ryan Clark learned of a potential new media venture in a niche space. Zubikowski had produced the I Am Athlete podcast for nearly two years, which rapidly proliferated in size, scope and prominence. A financial dispute among the colleagues, however, led to the departures of Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor from the roster, along with Zubikowski, and they branched out on their own to actualize a new vision. After speaking with Zubikowski, Clark met with Crowder virtually and evinced compatibility that compelled him to become involved in the project.

Less than two years later, The Pivot Podcast has quickly amassed notoriety and prestige within sports media. The athlete-driven podcast contains weekly conversations with contemporaries and luminaries alike, to talk sports, music and entertainment. Clark, Crowder and Taylor possess an evident rapport and retains the audience while encouraging prospective listeners to hear the genuine endeavor.

“We felt like there was some synergy there, we thought we could do some good things and we decided to give it a try,” Clark said. “I had already been doing my own podcast that I was funding myself, editing myself and cutting promos myself just because I understood what the space was and I knew that that’s where a lot of media was going, and at the time I didn’t have a partnership or anyone kind of showing me the way, but I was like, ‘These people have already been successful.’”

Since its launch in the winter of 2022, The Pivot Podcast has amassed over 158 million views and 870,000 subscribers on YouTube alone. The show has welcomed guests across a variety of professions, some of whom have included Caleb Williams, Snoop Dogg, Gayle King and Travis Kelce. During its time in circulation, it has made an indelible impact on the landscape and recently agreed to a multi-year partnership with Fanatics.

Through the deal, The Pivot Podcast will feature Fanatics’ verticals surrounding commerce, betting, collectibles and events, and the Fanatics Sportsbook garnering the title of the “official sportsbook” of the show. Additionally, the program will be part of company events such as Fanatics Fest NYC and its annual Super Bowl party.

“Luckily for us, it’s been such a blessing,” Clark said. “Some of the stories we’ve been able to tell, the people we’ve been able to work with and have as guests on the show, and then obviously now having an opportunity to partner with Fanatics and be a part of Michael Rubin’s team and sort of head their media division, especially when you’re speaking of Alicia and what she’ll be able to do, it just makes so much sense.”

Fanatics itself had inked some deals in the sports media space over the last year, including agreements with Bleacher Report and Overtime, but they were largely under the aegis of merchandising and/or live events. The company also hired Ed Hartman as its chief strategy officer in media, trying to discover content that fits various key business sectors. For The Pivot, retaining creative control and autonomy over the content was essential and being involved in other ventures added more value to the proposition.

“To be a part of those things and bringing those things to the world, but also an opportunity to showcase the athletes and entertainers that are part of the Fanatics family – and I think that’s a different and a bigger opportunity than any podcast has ever had with any partnership, and that is why it was important for us to find the right partnership,” Clark said. “And if I’m being honest, our producer has turned down multiple deals saying that she believed that this was the one before this was ever even a thing that Michael Rubin was talking about.”

Reaching this point required hard work, consistency and confidence that The Pivot would ultimately resonate with audiences and establish a rapport in the space. Luckily for Clark, he had a viable fallback plan in that he was working at ESPN as an NFL analyst, a role he had positioned himself to attain while he was still an active player.

During his career, he had worked on 93.7 The Fan hosting a radio show from a hibachi restaurant in Pittsburgh and also appeared on local television. Clark played 13 years in the NFL as a safety and won a Super Bowl championship as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2008 season.

Although Clark had been told as a player that he had a chance to thrive in sports media, his formative years in the business broadened his understanding of the landscape and how to achieve success. Upon retiring from the NFL, he signed a multi-year agreement with ESPN to appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio shows and additional network programming.

Over the last several years, he has been a consistent part of NFL Live. Clark explained that the show contains underdogs who have crafted chemistry that has coalesced into an on-air product and meaningful friendships. Laura Rutledge, Dan Orlovsky, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes and Adam Schefter work with Clark and blend their football knowledge and expertise with entertainment.

“I could see how much work they all put into their craft, and I respected that, and then once you get that respect and you start to work together, now you get to know the people,” Clark said. “You get to know about their kids, you get to know about their home life, you get to know about what makes them tick and what makes them themselves, and then we care about each other.”

As members of the show watch NFL games every week, they remain in constant communication through a group chat. Additionally, Clark ensures that he is actively listening to what his colleagues say on the air so he can disseminate informed, substantive opinions that play a part in the overall product.

“The smartest of analysts understand what they have to be on each show based on who they’re working with,” Clark said. “I think you just also have to be versatile enough to do that. You have to know when you’re on NFL Live, that show is so heavy X and O; that show is so heavy, ‘Let’s educate – let’s talk about the things that are important in ball, even if they aren’t the most popular things.’”

Starting last season, Clark was added to Monday Night Countdown as a studio analyst as part of a revamped iteration of the program hosted by Scott Van Pelt. Joining Clark as analysts on the show were his NFL Live colleague Marcus Spears and incumbent analyst Robert Griffin III. While there were some memorable moments both in studio and on site throughout the year though, Clark felt that the show struggled to capture an essence on the air.

“I think the show is just hard because it’s sort of like rolled over the entire infrastructure and changed the people, and it happened so late that I don’t think we ever got an opportunity to find our voices on that show, and we tried to work through that throughout the season,” Clark said. “….I think last year was a learning experience where if I’m being really honest, we did bad TV sometimes, which was new for me because I felt like I haven’t done bad TV in a very long time, and it was embarrassing for me because I put so much time into it.”

Former Philadelphia Eagles center and Super Bowl champion Jason Kelce is joining the show and was formally introduced this week. During a charity golf outing this offseason, Clark had a chance to meet Kelce and learn more about him as a person while also answering questions about ESPN and the sports media business.

“I told him to be himself because being himself is what got him here,” Clark said. “He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion, so he has so much knowledge, experience and wisdom that people will crave, and he can give it to them uniquely with his personality, with his honesty [and] with the openness and vulnerability about who he is. Other than that, he’s going to have to learn.”

Akin to Clark hosting The Pivot and working at ESPN, Kelce hosts the New Heights podcast with his brother, and will now be joining Monday Night Countdown on ESPN. Clark anticipates that Kelce will be a huge addition, referring to him as the “hottest free agent ever,” and hopes to grant him longform chances to express himself on the air. Being on the show for a second season, however, nearly was not a reality for Clark amid an expiring contract at ESPN.

“I was gone,” Clark said. “I wasn’t considering – I was done. Normally they extend your contract until it gets done most times. I was out – my contract had ended.”

Clark took part in discussions with other people in the business, some of which included having his own show and organizations starting networks around him. Throughout the process, he was cognizant about the relationships and memories he had built at ESPN and was appreciative for various personalities speaking up for him, including Mike Greenberg and Stephen A. Smith. In the end, Clark signed a multi-year extension with the network that implemented a raise and additional responsibility while also continuing his other projects.

“Obviously my family is the NFL Live crew,” Clark said. “Scott Van Pelt and I probably share one of the most memorable nights in television when Damar Hamlin went down. And so those relationships were things that I didn’t want to leave unless there was a good enough reason to leave, and I don’t think that’s just money.”

Clark started hosting Inside the NFL last season on The CW, a storied sports franchise that presents highlights, analysis and interviews every week during the NFL season. After spending approximately four decades on HBO and subsequent years on Showtime and Paramount+, the program moved to broadcast television for the first time. Clark conceptualizes his role as a point guard who is able to score when necessary and successfully facilitate his colleagues Jay Cutler, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Chris Long and The Pivot co-host Channing Crowder.

“I think that was the hardest adjustment with Inside the NFL initially was like, ‘Okay, how do I set these guys up for success while still doing something I’m really good at, which is analyzing football?,’” Clark said, “and it’s taken some time to really sort of find a space for it, but I think I did find that on Inside the NFL.”

In working on The Pivot, Clark built relationships organically through conversations surrounding strategy, content creation and lifestyle. One episode in particular that stands out to him is when the show interviewed former NBA forward Michael Beasley where he opened up about his mental health struggles and hardships he has endured throughout his life. Furthermore, he talked about struggling to find the right people and explained that everyone stole from him except his kids. Clark, Crowder and Taylor sympathized with Beasley and offered him assistance, underscoring the unscripted, genuine nature of the show.

“Everybody wants The Rock to be able to come on their show and talk about his battles with depression, but we also want Kevin Hart to be able to come on the show and invite him to nudist camp too,” Clark said. “We want to be a place where you can just be yourself and you can love yourself and truly tell your story and show people who you are. And I don’t necessarily know if it’s distinctive in effort or goal; I think it’s been distinctive in execution, which, in the end, is what we deliver to people.”

Through the new partnership with Fanatics, Clark looks forward to continuing to take part in candid conversations and storytelling on The Pivot while continuing to thrive in his work with ESPN and The CW. As someone who attained a successful NFL career after signing as an undrafted free agent, he maintains a mentality built on an indefatigable work ethic and resolute dedication towards his professional endeavors. Once the show signed the partnership with Fanatics, it had an opportunity to interview Tom Brady, who discussed topics including his experience being the subject of a Netflix roast and the lessons he learned playing in the NFL.

“Not everybody understands Tom Brady, right?,” Clark said. “Who knows that story? Who has ever lived that, ‘I’m the greatest to ever do something’? But everybody has understood what it’s like to struggle; what it’s like to doubt yourself, right? And so we bring them that story, and in bringing them that story, we talk about the things that Fanatics is doing and the ways that they are now moving in the sports world.”

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Christopher ‘Mad Dog’ Russo Making the Most of His Resurgence with the Help of ESPN

Far from a close-minded fuddy-duddy. He is an open-minded observer of sports, one of the greatest of all time.

John Molori

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Screengrab of First Take on ESPN with Chris Russo
Screengrab from ESPN/First Take

The true essence of Christopher ‘Mad Dog’ Russo, Version 2024 can be found in the open to the May 15 edition of First Take on ESPN.

In the aftermath of the Knicks defeating the Pacers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, superstar showstopper Stephen A. Smith opened the program with an emotionally joyous soliloquy lauding his favorite New York basketball team. Smith was jubilant, ebullient, and thrilled.

The segment ended with Smith walking over to panelists Russo and Kendrick Perkins and hugging them in glee. After the show’s open, the Knick rapture continued, that is, until “Mad Dog” was let out of the kennel.

Russo brought things back down to earth, predicting that Indiana would win Game 6 of the series. He then went through a mental historical timeline of the Knicks choking in playoff games at home. This level of historic context is largely lost on modern sports fans, many of whom believe that nothing existed before LeBron James or Tom Brady.

Russo’s beautiful dose of reality ticked off the jovial Smith but set the discourse on a more levelheaded road. Russo is a talking history book, and let’s face it, not everybody likes history class. The difference, however, is that Christopher Russo lived this history, and indeed, made history himself. A 2022 National Radio Hall of Fame inductee, he has uniquely entertained sports fans for more than four decades, becoming one of the most memorable and imitated personalities ever.

He created Mad Dog Sports Radio on SiriusXM in 2008 and headlines the channel with his popular Mad Dog Unleashed show. In addition, he hosts the daily High Heat program on MLB Network. Still, it is one of Russo’s earliest and most recent gigs that set him apart.

Beginning in 1989 and for the next 19 years, Russo and Mike Francesa hosted the landmark Mike and the Mad Dog afternoon driveshow on WFAN radio in New York. It was a ratings mammoth and ensconced Russo as a stone-cold sports media legend.

I am going to make the case that Russo’s latest incarnation as a First Take Wednesday regular is just as significant. It has exposed a whole new audience to the Russo experience. On a more basic level, it is just really special to see a classic radio guy like Russo welcomed into the most progressive and popular sports talk show on the air right now.

Kudos to Stephen A. Smith for making Russo a regular on his program. You can tell that Smith, author of an historically significant media career himself, truly respects those who came before him and blazed the trail. In fact, to a certain extent, Smith is a media offspring of Russo. They both possess riveting personalities, unquestioned bravery, and on-air dominance. Like or dislike, agree or disagree, these are two men who must be listened to and respected.

With Max Kellerman’s 2021 exit from First Take, I was doubtful as to what would happen to the program. My worst thought was that Smith would bring in a bevy of co-hosts who would bow to his greatness – like Jerry Jones’ Cowboys’ coaching hires since Jimmy Johnson. Thankfully, Smith went in the other direction. Russo has the same cache as Smith, so there is no hero worship. He says what he feels and talks straight – real talk in a colorful and exciting manner.

As the Knicks discussion continued, Smith wanted to tap into Russo’s New York sports sensibilities and emotion asking Russo if he felt Madison Square Garden shaking during the Knicks’ Game 5 win. It didn’t work. Russo responded that at 65 years-old, he has been in the Garden for many big games and then cautioned Smith to take it easy with the Knicks.

He again harkened back to New York’s less than sparkling history in big games and menacingly joked that it is his job to “spoil Stephen A’s fun.” Russo then spectacularly took the air out of the building with an ominous What If asking what the Knicks would do if it came down to a Game 7 and the game was tied with the clock winding down.

Russo is also self-deprecating. When host Molly Qerim asked him for a prediction on the Nuggets-Timberwolves series, Russo said that he predicted that the Bills would blow out the Giants in Super Bowl XXV – the famed Scott Norwood missed field goal game. Qerim, who does an excellent job in controlling Hurricane Christopher, acknowledged the obscure reference.

While Russo has a database of past stats and stars, he is not lost in history. In fact, on this edition of First Take, he made a bold statement that the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić has the greatest offensive skill set of any center in the history of the NBA. These are not the words of a stodgy curmudgeon whose mind cannot be changed.

Russo is an astute observer of our games. He sees greatness and gives that greatness credit. Far from a close-minded fuddy-duddy. He is an open-minded observer of sports, one of the greatest of all time. His opinions are not to be chided. They are to be listened to and appreciated.

During First Take’s Quick Takes segment, Russo ably put his encyclopedic knowledge to use. The question posed was whether the Celtics or Lakers are the greatest franchise in NBA history. Russo’s analysis was spot on and long overdue. First, he discounted the Minneapolis Lakers’ five titles as part of the pro-Lakers argument. He also cited the Celtics’ overall dominance when the two franchises have met in the NBA Finals over the decades.

Lastly, he remarked that the Celtics have had four eras of greatness: Russell in the 1960s, Havlicek-Cowens in the 1970s, Bird in the 1980s, and Pierce-Garnett in the late 2000s, while the Lakers have only two: Magic-Abdul-Jabbar in the ‘80s and Shaq-Kobe in the 2000s. It was the best analysis of a longtime debate.

In a debate about Bronny James and his NBA hopes, Russo again was the voice of reason giving a very realistic analysis of why he is not a top pro prospect. It is clear that Russo has nothing to prove, nobody to impress, and no apple to polish. He made his bones years ago, and his takes are refreshing and objective.

The cherry on top of Russo’s First Take sundae was his What Are You Mad About? segment. Viewers tuning into this part of the program are no doubt wondering who the hell, and at times, what the hell they are watching. Russo pushes the limits of his angst, heart rate, blood pressure, and decibel level picking apart several news items from the week in sports. At times, he closes his blurbs screaming to the heavens, “May God strike me down!”

In this particular segment, he went off on late NBA playoff start times, the intrigue surrounding the 2024 NFL schedule release, and his distaste towards the vulgar humor in the Tom Brady roast. Russo gets up close to the camera and goes off in a boisterous way. It is simultaneously fantastic and frightening.

In his last piece on the roast, Russo looked into the camera and yelled to Brady, “How stupid can you be!” This is the same question I will pose to anyone who dismisses Russo as an out of touch old guy. This cat is no curmudgeon. He is a killer. Elderly? No, epic. Bygone? How about straight up bad ass. That is Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, Version 2024.

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How to Renegotiate Your Annual Sports Radio Advertising Contract

Reducing expenses within an annual radio agreement takes a strategic negotiation and budget management approach.

Jeff Caves

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Graphic that shows two people negotiating
Graphic Courtesy: Soject.com

If you are a small to medium-sized business, there is no doubt you are facing rising costs, and making ends meet is a top priority. Sometimes, that means cutting expenses on things you have committed to via contract, like a 2024 annual radio advertising agreement with level monthly payments. You are on the air each month and appreciate the value of advertising consistently. You understand the necessity to maintain a market presence within the budget you laid out last year. You negotiated a win-win contract and are happy with it. However, with your costs spiraling to deliver your services, cost-cutting measures have become critical for financial viability in the long term and better cash flow in the short term. You are now tasked with the need to reduce expenses wherever you can, and your sports radio advertising is next on the list. The station doesn’t want to lessen your committed budget. It’s time for strategic negotiation and decision-making. Here are some effective strategies to accomplish this objective while keeping your annual budget intact:

Pricing and Rates

Initiate negotiations on pricing and rates for ad spots with the radio station. They know where they have more demand than supply and could even make more money by freeing up some of your commercials to be sold to other clients, sometimes at higher rates. This is typically during the weekday drive time periods; you probably got an annual rate for your commitment. If the station is willing, you could move into off-peak nighttime buys or weekends. Off-peak hours typically come at a lower cost and can still reach a substantial audience, enabling you to stretch your budget further. Give the station 30 days to see if they can accomplish this, and if not, go to plan ‘B.’

Longer Commitments

Consider committing to a longer-term contract, like a multi-year agreement, to potentially lower your monthly cash commitment. Maybe you could move off $2,000 per month from July to December and move it to the first six months of 2025. Emphasize your dedication to maintaining a consistent advertising presence over time, which can incentivize the radio station to continue the partnership.

Frequency and Unit Length

If the station allows you to reduce the monthly budget, focus on maximizing frequency by strategically choosing the length of ad units. Instead of running only thirty and sixty-second ads, opt for :15 slots to increase frequency without exceeding your budget. Shorter units are more cost-effective per spot and can deliver well-known messages repeatedly.

Budget Reallocation and Trade

Explore avenues for reallocating funds within your annual budget to optimize expenses. For instance, negotiate a reduction in the monthly budget and allocate the saved funds to months where your cash flow is strongest. Having a payment schedule that matches your cash flow will give you the best chance to meet expenses. Furthermore, explore opportunities for service or trade to offset your monthly bill, leveraging resources you have already paid for that may match up well with what the station needs.

Reducing expenses within an annual radio agreement takes a strategic negotiation and budget management approach. Concentrating on pricing, rates, contract length, frequency, and budget reallocation can keep your station relationship intact, honor your contract, and increase cash flow.

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