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Intentional Talk Is Intentionally Different

“There could be something that is brought up about Mike Trout, and then all of a sudden we’re talking about windsurfing.”

Derek Futterman



Courtesy: MLB Network, Getty Images

As residents of Phoenix, Ariz. enjoyed a summer filled with swimming, sports and sunscreen, Siera Santos was grounded. She had dropped out of high school and received her general education diploma while in a treatment center in Utah, and upon her return, was essentially confined to her home. One of the sole digressions from the mundane nature of everyday life was watching the Arizona Diamondbacks play baseball, and she subsequently became invested in the team and an avid reader of the sports section of the newspaper.

When summer turned to autumn, her heightened love of sports led her to ask her father for Phoenix Suns season tickets. Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amar’e Stoudemire positioned the Suns to compete for an NBA championship, and Santos felt compelled to become a fan. While her father declined to purchase the tickets because they were too expensive, he acquiesced before the start of the next season.

“We went to a bunch of playoff games, but it was in the first half of that season that I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to go to games for the rest of my life,’” Santos said. “I enrolled in community college [and] had a 4.0 GPA; that got me into the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. I graduated as the most outstanding undergraduate student and with honors, and the rest is history.”

When she was out of school, Santos looked for ways to penetrate the industry, serving as a multimedia journalist during high school football season and a production assistant at FOX Sports Arizona among other roles. Yet she had difficulty finding a full-time job in sports media, sending her reel all across the United States and did not receive any calls back.

Santos moved to Colorado Springs. where she worked as a news multimedia journalist for KOAA-TV – writing, shooting and editing news stories for air and the web. While she had landed a coveted full-time role, she was crestfallen. It caused her to question whether reaching her end goal would be realistic, and if what she was doing was worth continuing.

“I wanted to quit so bad because I did not want to do news,” Santos said. “I [had] a hard time compartmentalizing all the horrible things that I would report on during the day and then not taking that home at night. My dad was just like, ‘Hang in there; hang in there.’”

Just over a year into the job, Santos departed to become a sports reporter, producer and photographer at KWTV in Oklahoma City. Although her dad gave her the option to return home to Phoenix to find a job there, she stayed persistent and gained invaluable experience in covering different sporting events. Her work ethic and passion for sports a chance to try out for a job in Los Angeles. Following an audition process where she was convinced she did not get the job, Santos received a big break and quickly worked to learn how to cover sports in the area for KCAL.

Three years earlier, MLB Network had debuted its new afternoon talk show titled Intentional Talk, and it quickly became a staple of the network’s daily lineup. Co-hosts Chris Rose and Kevin Millar had an undisputable chemistry. The show also featured entertaining segments incorporating the personalities of players and temperament of fans, some of which were tilted “Kevin’s Highlights,” “Got Heeem” and “How Pro Is That?”

While Millar hosted the show from his home studio in Austin, Texas, Rose did the same in Los Angeles, but the dynamic duo worked through the challenge to become must-watch television. Then in a stunning turn of events amid the onset of a devastating global pandemic, Rose received a call from MLB Network president Rob McGlarry informing him that his contract would not be renewed. It was an unforeseen conclusion to a 10-year run, and the start of a new era for a show centered around the synergy of its hosts.

“He taught me everything in television,” Millar said, who played 12 years in the major leagues. “He had done a lot of stuff from The Best Damn Sports Show Period and national college football championships to obviously being on the Super Bowl and World Series, but he was an ultimate pro and taught me a lot – so I learned a lot. Chris – when that happened, it was devastating.”

Millar had played 12 seasons in the major leagues and helped the Boston Red Sox break an 86-year championship drought in 2004. Throughout his career, he had the reputation of being affable and convivial while maintaining a championship mindset. From the time he started working in sports media, Millar maintained those characteristics and brought them to audiences both locally in Boston on NESN and nationally with FOX Sports and MLB Network.

Upon the exit of Rose, Millar was paired with MLB Network host Stephen Nelson for the second iteration of Intentional Talk. Nelson had previously co-hosted the show on a fill-in basis and had chemistry with Millar, but the consensus was that it did not feel the same without Rose. 

“It was definitely a learning experience,” Millar said. “Stephen Nelson was able to transition, and it was just kind of a little odd because we were coming off COVID and the inconsistencies of what was going on with the world.”

As Millar hosted the program with Stephen Nelson, one of the show’s recurring guests was former starting pitcher Ryan Dempster. Millar had been teammates with Dempster for parts of five seasons with the Florida Marlins. In fact, he remembers how devastating it felt when Dempster was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, especially since they meshed and became close friends.

When Dempster retired from the sport after the 2013 season, he joined MLB Network as a studio analyst and primarily contributed to MLB Tonight. Once Marquee Sports Network launched in February 2020, Dempster signed on to serve as a game analyst and studio host. At the same time, he also started hosting a talk show, Off the Mound, which is modeled after late-night programming and features interviews with baseball players and personnel. Naturally so, Dempster and Millar remained in touch with one another and were finally given the chance to collaborate when Nelson was hired by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a play-by-play announcer.

“We’re family – I’ve watched his kids grow up. He’s watched my kids grow up,” Dempster said of Millar. “To be able to talk about the game we love so much – it’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Courtesy Ryan Dempster Barry Taylor Photography Kevin Millar Getty Images

Dempster, who remains with Marquee Sports Network, made sense to tab as the new co-host of Intentional Talk; however, there was somewhat of a quandary in that the show had never solely contained two former players as the tandem. Adding an experienced television host to the fold though would create a hosting trio, something that would surely require experimentation before officially taking the air.

Meanwhile, Siera Santos was hired by NBC Sports Chicago. She held multiple roles for the network, but it was her studio work with Luke Stuckmeyer on In The Loop that made her more comfortable and self-referential in front of the camera.

From NBC Sports Chicago, she went to FOX 32 across town. From there it was back to Phoenix. Sure, it was home, but continuing to bounce around local marketplaces brought back some of that despondence and left her reevaluating her path altogether.

“I wasn’t really sure that this is what I wanted to keep doing,” Santos said. “I was like, ‘I’m not even sure if I’m ever going to get to a national network.’ And that’s when my agents more so pushed me and were saying, ‘You’re going to get to a national network. You’re talented enough to get there.’”

Prior to the first pitch of the 2022 Major League Baseball season, Santos flew across the country to Secaucus, N.J. to take an audition with MLB Network. Following a second audition, she was offered a job as a studio host and reporter. Accepting the role was a no-brainer.

From the beginning, she was eager to make a good impression on those at the network and its viewers. Throughout the year, she could frequently be seen hosting Quick Pitch, MLB Tonight and a variety of additional programming while also interviewing players and reporting on MLB Network Showcase games. Amid the 162-game season and ensuing postseason matchups, Santos found a bonafide home – but she did not interact with Kevin Millar, perhaps its most spirited tenet, until the World Series.

“We were all taking one of those black [Suburbans] back to the hotel,” Santos described following a World Series game. “I get in the car with him, and I forget what he was going off about but I’m like, ‘Yo, this guy’s crazy.’ A 12-minute car ride was one of the wildest conversations that you would ever hear in your life, [and] I realized that was a very small sample size.”

When the network was revamping its programming lineup during the offseason, executives tabbed Santos to join Millar and Dempster as a co-host of Intentional Talk. When Santos was told of the idea, she immediately asked if Millar was okay with it, skeptical whether or not it was a legitimate possibility. Once she was officially on board, the network scheduled rehearsal episodes for the show, something that had never been done in the program’s history. All three members of the show described it as a shrewd decision and a critical aspect in becoming familiar with each other’s proclivities, strengths and shortcomings.

“We probably did four or five shows on the rehearsal side of it and really got a chance to see each other’s mechanics and laughs and when to stop talking,” Millar said. “You’re doing this from three locations and it’s pretty amazing how everybody behind the scenes makes this go because they do such a great job.”

Before the official premiere of the third rendition of the show, a group chat was created with Millar, Dempster, Santos and their two producers. To this day, the text messages range from the sublime to the ridiculous while also serving as a fundamental component to keep one another informed and brainstorm ideas. For Santos, it also represented a place where she felt part of the family.

“They really accepted me, which I have to give credit to them, and they brought me into the fold,” Santos said. “They aren’t filtered in what they say just because I’m in there or anything like that.”

Through their conversations, Millar and Dempster discovered that Santos was a fan of the Florida Panthers amid the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. During commercial breaks, Millar implores his co-hosts not to look at their phones but rather use the time to converse to get to know each other. After all, Millar has had to establish chemistry with co-hosts in the past, but was now looking to refine he and Dempster’s relationship to give Santos room to interject and display why she was selected to join the show.

“Kevin’s done an amazing job of really harvesting that within our group, and I think that’s really important because we’re working together every day,” Dempster said. “My hat’s off to him for really making that effort to bring her in and accept her and know she’s doing a great job – and challenge her. She’s young in this game, and she has a chance to do some really special things.”

Millar, Dempster and Santos have all participated in shows based on a script and utilized a teleprompter to make sure they stay on script. Most of Intentional Talk, aside from sponsored material, is an unscripted program and relies on background knowledge and effective conversation skills. The show does not solely focus on baseball, sometimes garrulous towards other parts of sports and pop culture. 

“There could be something that is brought up about Mike Trout, and then all of a sudden we’re talking about windsurfing,” Santos said. “That’s the nice thing is that it’s built to allow those tangents to kind of unfurl organically.”

“We have a tremendous edit crew behind the scenes that [is] able to clean stuff up, but that’s really the only battle when you’ve got an earpiece in that if it’s not caught up,” Millar said. “I think that’s when you learn, and you learn that nothing’s perfect, and I think that’s the great part about the show. Even the mistakes – they’re viewed and you can laugh at it.”

The principle is the backbone behind the “Best Interview in Baseball,” an eight to 12-minute conversation with a major league player about more than just their own on-field performance. Questions are more focused on personality and provide a bit of levity. Millar and Dempster know its importance, and Santos can understand it from her time as a beat reporter.

Courtesy MLB Network

“Fans want to hear something different than talk about their delivery or their mechanics or how many home runs they have,” Millar explained. “We know that – I want to know who’s cheap [or] who’s the worst dressed. I want to know, ‘Would you rather be a massage therapist, toll booth attendant or a manicurist?’ You’ve got to put them on the spot; you’ve got to challenge these players and it brings out a lot of personality.”

Although one of the greatest compliments Santos ever received was in being called “the poor man’s Molly Qerim,” referring to the host of First Take on ESPN, she does not see most shows as comparable to Intentional Talk. In today’s generation of instant gratification, comparing the show to a podcast is most applicable, especially since it is entrenched in the camaraderie of the hosts. 

“Millar has a fantastic way of when we’re doing our little intro and saying ‘Hi’ and getting them all mixed up and everything; of making a guy feel really relaxed right before he goes on,” Santos said. “That’s just because he is so personable. No one at the Network has a bad thing to say about Kevin Millar because he’s got a genuinely good heart – and he’s funny as hell.”

In order to continue growing the game, Millar feels the show needs to broadcast on the road at select collegiate stadiums. College baseball is growing in popularity across the United States, and Millar feels that other sports work to showcase the next generation of players much better than baseball does. Last year, Intentional Talk broadcast from the University of Texas and welcomed former all-star shortstop and current Longhorns assistant coach Troy Tulowitzki as a guest. As time progresses, Millar continuously looks to grow the show while also staying cognizant about what the audience wants and centering coverage around the player.

In fact, Major League Baseball has made strides to better promulgate its superstars and young players. MLB Network programming such as Intentional Talk facilitates this goal through driving the conversation beyond the perplexing sabermetrics and trivial financial details. 

“We don’t care if you’re hitting .130 or .430 – there’s no insecurities here,” Millar said. “You have fun – bring up any foundation; whatever you’ve got to do – your kids; your dog; your wife; say hello to your uncle. That’s what it’s about.”

There is a production meeting held in the morning before the show airs at 5 p.m. EST/2 p.m. PST, and everyone has free reign to talk about compelling topics or divulge pejoratives about the show rundown. Being former players themselves, Millar and Dempster have an idea of the vernacular in clubhouses and often identify what will resonate or move the metaphorical needle. 

Santos never played sports professionally, but she brings the perspective of a seasoned journalist and producer with a knack for adequately presenting topics and guiding discussion. Her bilingual abilities are a much appreciated bonus. A host that speaks Spanish fluently gives Latin-born players the comfort to authentically express themselves. 

All parties involved believe the show is on the right path, and legitimately enjoy the work they are doing. Santos described hosting the show with Millar and Dempster as her “dream job,” and aims to constantly improve while staying true to herself. Additionally, Millar and Dempster seem to have picked up right where they left off as teammates, but the reality of the situation is that they never were not working together.

“Sometimes I have this protective cover of the positive-everything. I am a positive thinker, and it’s not talking about the negative; it’s just the real side of things and he brings that out in me,” Dempster said of Millar. “I just enjoy that and I think that’s because he’s my teammate in life.”

“There’s no place I’d rather be, and the network is wonderful,” Millar added. “I’m not just saying that; I am telling you they have created just a network that, for the baseball fan, you have it all.”

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NBA Basketball Media Continues to Pile On The Boston Celtics

These Celtics have yet to win a ring and that is on them, but the media criticism levied against them has been inane.

John Molori



Logo for the Boston Celtics and screengrabs from ESPN
Screengrabs from ESPN's First Take and Get Up

They are the most unfairly criticized team in the NBA, a team that cruised to 64 victories and earned the number one seed in a very tough Eastern Conference. They have taken two NBA playoff series in five games respectively and lead the Eastern Conference Finals 2-0 versus Indiana.

I speak of the Boston Celtics, and despite these sterling facts, their two superstars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and the team as a whole, continue to garner criticism from the roundball media.

These “experts” say that the Celtics cannot be trusted and that they have not played to their potential. The Celtics have been to the Eastern Conference Finals six times since 2017 and made it to the NBA Finals in 2022, losing to the Golden State Warriors, but to listen to the basketball cognoscenti, you would think they are a bunch of green-clad slugs.

I get it, the Tatum-Brown Celtics have yet to win an NBA Championship, and I agree that if they don’t win it all this year, it will be a failed season for sure. After Boston defeated Cleveland in the Eastern semifinals, TNT analyst Draymond Green stated that no one cares that the Celtics once again made it to the conference finals. He is 100% correct, but that does not mean that the Celtics are utter garbage.

It’s really hard to win an NBA playoff series in five games. The Celtics have already done that twice in these playoffs, but instead of giving the Celtics credit for taking care of business, many commentators have denigrated them for how they are winning and the teams they have faced or did not have to face.

Joel Embiid was hurt. Giannis Antetokounmpo was hurt. The Knicks were banged up and the Cavs lost Donovan Mitchell. Well, too bad. Injuries are a part of the game. Are we forgetting the Celtics have been crushing playoff series without Kristaps Porzingis? When the Celtics get attention from the national media spotlight, it is usually with an air of disappointment and disgust. I’m wondering why.

ESPN and FS1 give endless attention, hope, positivity, and forward-thinking to the Los Angeles Lakers. Simply put, the Lakers are a mediocre to decent basketball team at best. They were dumped in the first round of the playoffs and if not for their history, LeBron James, and the city in which they play, they wouldn’t even be in the discussion. They are the New Orleans Pelicans with Snoop Dogg at courtside.

Still, the Lakers remain in the A block on many network hoops shows. Do you want to talk about a lack of trust, disappointment, and not reaching potential? How about the defending champion Denver Nuggets?

Yes, they have a two-time MVP in Nikola Jokic, but what about his team this year? They fell to a bunch of playoff neophytes called the Minnesota Timberwolves, losing Game 7 at home. Meanwhile, the Celtics took out an always tough Miami Heat team and a highly competitive Cavaliers team, 5 games each. All these Celtics do is win. Does it matter if the wins are pretty? Since when is that the media litmus test?

In a recap of Game 1 of the Eastern finals, a thrilling 133-128 overtime win for Boston, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps said that the Celtics almost “coughed up” another game at home. He went on to say that all the Pacers had to do was inbound the ball and hit a free-throw, and they would have won. Fine Tim, but guess what? They didn’t get it done and the Celtics did. Mistakes and capitalizing on mistakes are a big part of basketball.

Bontemps went on to say that if the Celtics don’t win Game 2 vs. Indiana, the Game 1 win will not matter. This is quite possibly the most foolhardy statement uttered in this year’s NBA playoffs. When four games win a series, every win matters. I understand that the Celtics lost Game 2 at home in their first two series, but so what? They righted the ship and swept both series the rest of the way.

During Game 1 against the Pacers, the Celtics jumped out to an early double-digit lead, but Indy came back to tie the game as good NBA playoff teams are known to do. ESPN’s Lisa Salters asked Boston guard Jrue Holiday how the Celtics lost the early lead. Holiday calmly replied that the Pacers are an NBA team as well. Exactly.

At the end of Game 1, after Boston stormed back in regulation and dominated the OT, ESPN play by play announcer Mike Breen said that the Celtics “survived” Game 1. It was an interesting choice of words that underlined the unfair criticism of Boston.

Coming back in a game, hitting big shots, and winning when it matters is not surviving. It is stepping up, closing the door, and being clutch. Breen is probably unfamiliar with these words because he’s been hanging around the Knicks too long.

On the May 21 edition of ESPN’s First Take, the talented and eloquent Andraya Carter questioned whether the Celtics can be trusted pinpointing Jayson Tatum in the conversation. Austin Rivers vehemently disagreed and the two engaged in a lively debate. The morning after the Celtics won Game 1 vs. the Pacers, ESPN’s Get Up crew still dogged them.

The eminent host Mike Greenberg asked the panel how Jaylen Brown could get open for the “easiest” three-point shot of the game to tie the game with just seconds left in regulation.

If you watch video of the shot, however, it was hardly easy. Brown was in the far corner with the 6-10 Pascal Siakam in his face and the Indiana bench just a couple of feet away most likely yelling Dicemanesque obscenities his way. These are the types of unmerited insults tossed at the Celtics. Brown hits an amazing shot with everything on the line and it is somehow considered the easiest shot of the game. Really?

Much of the rancor toward the Celtics is based on their stacked roster and the perceived lack of talent in their opponents, but let me get all historical on you for a minute. The nearly unanimously coronated greatest player in the history of the game, Michael Jordan, did not play all-time great teams in winning his six NBA Championship series.

In 1991, it was an old Lakers team. In 1992, it was the utterly forgettable Portland Trailblazers. In 1993, it was an aging Phoenix Suns team with Charles Barkley trying to get a

ring. In 1996, it was a good, but not great Seattle Sonics club, and in 1997 and 1998, it was the Utah Jazz. I’ll give the Jazz Karl Malone and John Stockton, but the rest of the team did double duty in a men’s weeknight league at the Northern Utah YMCA.

In fact, a team’s competition is trivial. If you win, you win. It doesn’t matter who is on the opposite side of the court. The Celtics have yet to win a ring and that is on them, but the media criticism levied against them has been inane.

Even the legendary Michael Wilbon piled on saying that if the Knicks were completely healthy, he would have picked them to beat the Celtics. All due respect to Mr. Wilbon, but a fully healthy Knicks team still may not have beaten the Pacers, sharpshooting like Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon.

On Get Up this past week, ESPN’s Alan Hahn said that Jayson Tatum is not in the same league as LeBron James. No kidding, Alan. LeBron James is the leading scorer in NBA history, a man who has defined the sport for two decades. Hahn doubled down however, stating that Tatum is not in the same league as Luka Doncic.

Doncic is an immensely skillful player, but that’s about it. His Mavericks are in the conference finals for only the second time in his career. He has taken his team absolutely nowhere. Doncic is the is the Josh Allen of the NBA. Super stats, but not a sniff of a conference championship to his credit. His name is Luca, and he lives on the second bill to Tatum.

On the May 22 edition of First Take, Stephen A. Smith noted that Jayson Tatum scored 12 points in the Game 1 overtime period, but also added that Tatum shot 2-10 in the fourth quarter and early in overtime.

Fair enough, but he then stated, “You’re looking for him, and he was nowhere to be found when it really counted.” Huh? So, it didn’t really count in overtime? Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Celtics and the Pacers was a tremendous NBA playoff game, one that should go down in history as a classic.

Instead, it became a springboard for continued unfounded Celtics trashing. Not every competitive NBA game is perfect. Teams make mistakes and miss shots. That’s basketball.

Game 2 saw the Celtics drub the Pacers 126-110 making them 10-2 in the playoffs with multiple trustworthy players delivering in the clutch. This series might end in 4 or 5 games, or could go 7, but to once again paraphrase Draymond Green, nobody cares as long as you win. Despite the baseless media negativity, that is exactly what the Celtics have been doing.

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Ken LaVicka Looks Ahead Following ESPN West Palm Exit

“The last thing I wanted to do was bus throw.”

Derek Futterman



Ken LaVicka
Courtesy: ESPN West Palm

Although April Fool’s Day had recently taken place, the message Ken LaVicka was delivering on the air early in the month was hardly a joking matter. In an announcement that came as a shock to listeners and LaVicka himself, he revealed that he was leaving ESPN West Palm after 17 years with the outlet. For the last three years, he was the co-host of the popular LaVicka, Theo and Stone midday program, which provided local listeners with discussion and revelry surrounding sports in South Florida and in the United States as a whole.

While it was insinuated to LaVicka that there were financial reasons for the exit, the entire move left him uneasy and uncomfortable, suddenly finding himself out of regular hosting work and looking for a new job. After all, he had been appearing on the air for the Good Karma Brands-owned radio station since 2007, one year after he completed college at Valparaiso University. Over the years at the outlet, he augmented his standing through shifts as an update anchor and fill-in host to eventually being granted his own full-time hosting slot.

The audience within the West Palm Beach and Treasure Coast marketplace had become accustomed to his voice and opinions for more than a decade, making the move difficult for both parties involved. In fact, as LaVicka was divulging the news in the last 20 minutes of what was his final show on the station, he articulated that it was not only he and his partners losing the midday show, but those listeners that encompass the audience as well.

“It was ultimately a corporate decision,” LaVicka said. “It was definitely not mutual. I would prefer to still be at ESPN West Palm. I am unhappy that I’m not at ESPN West Palm, but hey, we’ve been in the business a long time. I’ve seen a lot of friends end up losing jobs over decisions that come from a much higher paygrade, and so I think that ultimately that’s what happened to me.”

When reflecting back on the circumstances that led to his departure from the station, LaVicka believes that he was seen as expendable. Outside of his hosting work, LaVicka is a play-by-play announcer for Florida Atlantic University and calls NWSL soccer matches on various digital platforms. Although LaVicka is appreciative of the company’s belief for him to find his footing again, he is crestfallen to be off the air but conducted himself with professionalism throughout his egress.

“The last thing I wanted to do was bus throw,” LaVicka said. “Was I disappointed? Absolutely. Was I bitter? For sure, and I still feel bitterness towards the situation that unfolded. But I also think that the positives of the opportunities afforded to me by Good Karma Brands for almost 20 years, and also at the end them trying to, while making a tough decision that was going to have an adverse effect on me, try and do it in the most professional and classy way possible that you could in that spot, it kind of allowed me this freedom.”

There exists a dichotomy between LaVicka’s time at ESPN West Palm ending and that of the midday program itself. Upon discovering that he would not be retained, he made this distinction and felt despondency towards having to leave his co-hosts Theo Dorsey and Stone Labanowitz. The broad age cohort on the program and varying perspectives on sports was an aspect that LaVicka believes engendered a unique offering on the air. LaVica has been at the station the longest among the trio, and his partners understood the importance of having the ability to say goodbye to the listeners through the platform.

LaVicka remembers starting at the outlet and describes the first office he worked out of as an “absolute closet,” but it proved to be a place where the business continued to flourish. Originally being from Chicago, Ill., he adjusted to living in southern Florida while also having an ability to focus on growing his career.

The perception that he had of sports talk radio when he was studying in college and participating in the student-run radio station differed from what he ultimately experienced working at ESPN West Palm. It was preceded by a year working at then-FOX Sports 100.5 FM in Madison, Wisc., also owned by Good Karma Brands. LaVicka accepted the role three days before he was supposed to move to Dickinson, N.D. to work as a sportswriter for The Dickinson Press, deciding to pursue his passion in radio.

Nearly two decades later, he evinces an ongoing, axiomatic shift pertaining to multimedia consumption and content creation. LaVicka believes it has become more difficult for terrestrial radio outlets to find businesses who want to associate with their work and delivery methods, although it is dependent on the marketplace. The apprehension he possesses in this regard, however, is in whether talented young people will be able to secure and subsequently capitalize off opportunities.

“Local radio will not die,” LaVicka prognosticated. “It’s still too much of a bonding entity for it to go away completely, but the expectations of how much money a local station can bring in just using traditional means as its way of bringing in income – there’s going to have to be some forward thinkers in that local radio space because you can’t just go, ‘The person goes on air – sell sponsorships’ It doesn’t work like that anymore.”

LaVicka himself is currently looking for a new role in the industry and is not opposed to moving out of south Florida if the opportunity is right for him and his family. Since losing his job at ESPN West Palm, he has endured many sleepless nights and pondered over the amount of fortitude and patience he has within the process.

Even though he is not ruling out an eventual return to ESPN West Palm, he views the outcome as unlikely. The value working there, however, comes in being able to relate and appeal to a diverse, transient audience residing within the locale. Good Karma Brands is assisting him with the process by promoting his work and providing him with financial assistance as he prepares for his next career move.

“I don’t want to come off as cocky, but I’m very confident in myself that given an opportunity; given a role – a sizable role that is something that’s going to be consumed by a lot of people – I get that opportunity, I’m going to excel in it,” LaVicka said. “There hasn’t been any point in my career on air where I haven’t been given an opportunity and then it didn’t completely expand past I think what the initial expectation was, and this includes my time at Florida Atlantic.”

While LaVicka is open to opportunities in terrestrial radio, he is also exploring working in the digital realm and recently started a YouTube show with WQAM digital content producer Zach Krantz titled By All Accounts. LaVicka first met Krantz at Miami Dolphins practices and training camps when he was working on The Joe Rose Show, and they shared several laughs and memorable moments.

When LaVicka and his wife welcomed their second child into the world, it required a stint in the neonatal intensive care unit at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. Their newborn daughter ended up spending 72 hours there where her health improved. Krantz discovered the circumstance shortly after it began and reached out to LaVicka to offer his support, understanding the stress with the situation after his son was in the NICU for several months.

“[He] made sure to come find me at the hospital and put me at ease [and] talked me through the process,” LaVicka said, “and that was massively important to me, had a major effect on me and also gave me an idea of the type of person Zach Krantz is.”

Krantz came up with the idea to start a program with LaVicka, reaching out to him shortly after his exit from ESPN West Palm. Within his proposition, he explained that they already possessed strong chemistry and rapport and would work together to begin a show from phase one. Despite the program still being in its early stages, LaVicka can sense palpable growth potential that could perhaps turn into its own sustainable entity if it continues to grow. The venture is not evanescent, but rather something he is committed to growing in the long run as he discovers the media landscape and searches for the most optimal long-term solution.

“I want this thing to be broad,” LaVicka said. “I want it to be fun, but I think that I also want to make sure that it at least plays to our strengths, which is being petty sports fans; which is showing favor to South Florida sports, making sure that we’re being extremely relatable in the grand scheme of things.”

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How Advertisers Can Protect Their Digital Ad Spend

Invalid website traffic from automated scripts and “bad bots” will waste $71 billion this year.

Jeff Caves



Graphic for digital advertising

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) partnering with digital marketing companies for their ad spend can enjoy significant advantages. Digital companies, such as many radio stations’ digital departments, often have more expertise than SMBs in spending money wisely to generate website traffic and, crucially, in avoiding the waste of ad dollars on fake traffic. Fake website traffic has increased by 33% in just two years. Invalid website traffic (IVT) from automated scripts and “bad bots” will waste $71 billion this year. Here are some questions advertisers can ask their digital partner to help eliminate fake ad engagement:

Make Data and Machines Work

Ask your digital partner if they use advanced data analytics and machine learning to optimize your ad spend. By employing predictive analytics—predicting future outcomes—savvy digital marketers can identify audiences most likely to engage genuinely with your ads. Inquire if they use Google Analytics and how it can help flag potential fraud and protect your investment.

Blockchain Technology for Ad Verification

To ensure transparency and security in your ad campaigns, some digital marketers leverage blockchain technology. This technology records every click and impression, guaranteeing that each interaction is genuine and that payments are made only for verified interactions. Blockchain makes it more difficult to change, hack, or manipulate data.

Advanced Attribution Models

Check if your partner uses multi-touch attribution models, which consider all touchpoints in the customer’s journey to your website. This approach provides a comprehensive view of how each ad contributes to conversions. Algorithmic attribution models apply sophisticated algorithms to improve ROI measurement.

Partnerships with Anti-Fraud Organizations

Ask if they collaborate with anti-fraud organizations to reduce fraud in digital advertising. Some digital companies ensure that campaigns and partners are certified by organizations like TAG, guaranteeing that ad placements are genuine and not plagued with fake engagements.

Private Marketplaces

Ensure that ad placements are with trusted publishers, reducing the risk of fraud. Some digital companies use private marketplaces, where a limited number of advertisers can buy and access premium inventory that is less susceptible to fraud, ensuring higher-quality ad placements for your business.

Real-Time Bidding (RTB) and Enhanced Filters

Your digital partner should set criteria for real-time bidding to ensure only high-quality, vetted traffic is considered. Real-Time Bidding is an auction setting where ad impressions are sold and bought. And transactions occur within seconds. Once an advertiser’s bid wins the auction, their digital ad is instantaneously shown on the website or property of the publisher.

Dynamic bidding strategies can adjust in real time based on the quality and performance of the inventory, maximizing the efficiency of your ad spend. Attempting this on your own can be challenging and less effective.

Focus on User Engagement Metrics

Ensure that deeper engagement metrics are employed, such as time spent on a page, scroll depth, and interaction rates, to provide a clearer picture of ad effectiveness. Analyzing post-click behavior helps determine the quality of engagements, ensuring that clicks result in meaningful interactions.

By partnering with well-established digital marketing companies, SMBs can access advanced technologies and strategies to ensure that digital marketing efforts are practical and efficient. Make sure your website conversions are as high as possible. YouTube and Google Search are leading the way in combating bot traffic, while LinkedIn, Google Video Partners, and X are less effective at blocking “bad bots.” Finding a reliable digital partner is crucial to protecting your ad spend and maximizing your returns. Beware of the bad bot and ensure your advertising efforts drive genuine value.

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