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Steve Cofield Watched Las Vegas Go From Outlaw to Center of the Sports World

“Vegas people, it’s a small town but you better give them a really good reason to go down anywhere near the strip, or they ain’t goin’. You need to win.”

Brian Noe

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Steve Cofield in Las Vegas
Vegas Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

The path for many sports radio hosts is not a straight line. It sometimes resembles the Telestrator scribblings of former NFL broadcaster John Madden. Although the journey for Steve Cofield isn’t as jagged as a Madden drawing, it certainly hasn’t been a beeline either.

Cofield has been a radio host at ESPN Las Vegas since 2007. He’s originally from New Jersey. Before landing in Vegas, Cofield covered prep and college sports for a local newspaper. When one of his friends from Rutgers, Ryan Williams, got a gig at Sports Fan Radio Network in Vegas back in ’96, Cofield drove out to Sin City with him.

After meeting with the PD, Cofield was offered a job at the same network three months later. He worked there until the company folded in 2001. Cofield had a cup of coffee at WBT in Charlotte and then made his way back to Vegas where he bought a two-hour block to broadcast his show from 2004-07.

That’s dedication in my book. Cofield was able to make a lot more money than he was spending while also building his brand and refining his chops. It led to an opportunity at ESPN Las Vegas, a place he’s called home for the past 16 years.

That’s a cool story.

In our chat below, Cofield talks about how the perception of Vegas has done a complete 180 in multiple ways. He also describes the town’s interest level regarding the potential relocation of the Oakland A’s, adding to the Strip, and being featured next to a stripper pole in Sports Illustrated

Vegas, baby. Enjoy!

BN: It’s obvious how much it’s changed, but how would you put it into words what sports radio was like when you started in the ‘90s, to what it is now in Vegas?

SC: Yeah, it’s completely changed. Obviously, the professional sports teams coming here changes what we do on a daily basis. I think it’s also changed the image of the market. When I first got here in ‘96, and I was doing that national network, we were absolutely a pariah, outlaws out here. I’m not saying the shows were, but anything based here sports-wise was just thought to be all gambling talk. And obviously, the Sin City moniker – like what’s wrong with people who are doing radio in Vegas and live in Vegas? 

Vegas is totally different now. Slowly but surely things changed.

The funny thing is, there was actually an SI writer named Ian Thomsen, who came out to Vegas and wanted to do a piece on the future of major league professional sports in Vegas, like when were we going to get it. Myself and my co-host at the time were partly featured in the story. They actually did a little photo shoot. That guy got a kick out of the fact that back in the day we were doing brokered, and even the station, did a lot of business with strip clubs. We would take their money. We actually did a photo shoot at a strip club. It was so weird because my partner and I were onstage leaning against the stripper pole. He just thought that was the greatest thing ever.

The topic at the time was like, hey, is this a pro sports market? We were very in favor of Vegas and tried to explain to him like, hey, there’s people here from a population standpoint. It’s growing, people will support the teams, everyone doesn’t live on the Strip. There’s lots of normal people here. 

Vegas is very transient. We’re up to a population of 2.3 or 2.4 million, so the city has grown. From a show standpoint, the show I did in 2014, I’m not going to say it’s completely different, it’s 90% different than it is now.

BN: What percentage of your show is devoted to local talk? 

SC: Well, it depends on the year. Right now, since we don’t have the Raiders in training camp yet, I’d say at the peak, we’re probably 70% local. Maybe at worst, like 55% local. I think we can do Raiders 11 months a year. 

I’ve been joking the last couple weeks about where baseball is right now especially for younger listeners. I’ve been joking that this is kind of like the three week sweet spot for us to talk baseball and then that’s it. We’re probably done except for a topic here or there.

I think our audience is so into the NFL with the Raiders here and with gambling and with transplants that if an A’s related story came down, I might talk about the Falcons and Bijan Robinson before I would talk about the A’s.

The NFL, I can’t even quantify. What is it 50 times bigger than Major League Baseball? Almost every NFL team is more interesting than an average Major League Baseball story. Maybe that’s going to change in five years. I don’t know. I don’t know how it’s going to work out with the A’s. And I like baseball. I play fantasy and I gamble. But baseball has its place and football is king. We could do national college football stuff over most sports almost every day.

But yeah, we try to do local; we talk a lot about the Raiders. Obviously, the Vegas Golden Knights got on the show a lot this year. I’m actually part of the broadcast team for UNLV men’s basketball and football and a little bit of women’s basketball. If UNLV was like the sixth most popular topic in 2014, it might be the 12th now because there’s so much going on here. The market has just changed. 

The Raiders dominate, Vegas Golden Knights dominate. We have a good WNBA person on the show. We do a good amount of the Aces and WNBA. So yeah, the show has changed a lot. 

BN: Is there any buzz at all about the A’s coming to town?

SC: The buzz that I hear is negative because it’s another one of these state and county funded deals. So most of what you’re going to get on social media is negative. Our show, it’s me every day and I have a rotation of four or five other dudes who are with the company. Our show was, I’ll say 90% against it. I don’t know if there’s buzz because we don’t really talk about it positively.

I don’t want to say like, hey, there’s no buzz and it’s all negative because that’s what we’re putting out. I think there’s a little bit of buzz, but there’s apprehension too because people are annoyed that they pushed us through from a money standpoint. People are smart here. 

I actually think this is one of the more savvy sports markets because we didn’t have it. We didn’t have major league sports before and we were fine. We have all these transplants here so they know sports. They know who the A’s are. They know what they’ve done over the years. We have a lot of Northern Californians so they know what the A’s have been doing.

I think it’s a bizarro vibe. We definitely want Major League Baseball here. I think people are enthused to get a stadium here. But most people I talk to want an expansion team. I’ve been saying a bunch of times, I’d rather have the Rays. I want a good organization. Bill Foley and VGK have raised the standard here, they’ve raised the bar. That dude got the arena done without almost any public money. All he does is spend to win and if that means making tough changes, he makes the changes. He’s a model owner. That’s the standard he set. They just won a Cup in six years. If the A’s come in limping and are like, ahh, give us five years to build, people here are going to be like, I don’t think so.

BN: That’s what I was thinking. If this was like a Golden Knights expansion type thing, do you think there’d be way more buzz than there is with it specifically being the A’s?

SC: Yep, billion percent. Yeah, because people have already seen it. What they did is virtually impossible. It is crazy. The league gave them a little bit of a head start by softening some of the expansion rules, but the bar they set is almost impossible to reach. 

Now people are like, oh, all our new teams better be as good as the Knights. It’s like, well, the A’s right now, I don’t know what they are this year, a 45- or 50-win franchise that’s still rebuilding. When they come here, there’ll be all that excitement the first two, three years about the stadium, and then we’ll see from there. Vegas people, it’s a small town but you better give them a really good reason to go down anywhere near the strip, or they ain’t goin’. You need to win.

BN: Is Vegas the one market in America that actually does less gambling talk now than before it became legalized on a state-by-state basis?

SC: We don’t do less now. We do about the same. Do we do as much as other markets? We might not. [Laughs] Which is weird because gambling is part of our show every day and I have one block where we try to bring on an insider and do some picks and stuff. But I mean, we make bets all the time within the show. A lot of stories are framed by whatever event is going on with the odds.

But here’s the thing, we have deals with books, but the way deals are made right now where programming is kind of forced to do sportsbook talk based on behalf of whoever, FanDuel or BetMGM or DraftKings or whoever else, we don’t have anything like that where they force us to do gambling. But we do it. We’ve always done it. We’ve done a live Sunday preview show from the Westgate for, I don’t know what it is, probably 17 years now. It’s always part of the program. I think most of the audience understands it. It’s still a pretty big part.

I’ll go back to 2010, our pro sports at the time with local interests were sports gambling, different boxing promotions, we were very big into the UFC for about 13 years. We would travel to boxing and UFC on the road and do the home events with special shows on Fridays and whatever days. That was kind of our pro sports back then. Now it’s Raiders first, then the rest of the NFL, then college football. Where UFC and boxing and sports gambling used to be, they had a higher status on our show, they’ve been dropped down a little bit.

BN: You guys didn’t go from zero to 60 with professional sports teams, you’re like zero to 150 or something like that. For you, who’s been there this long, that’s gotta be a trip, right?

SC: Oh, it’s amazing. What’s going on right now, we have F1 coming up in November. They’re still finishing an $80 million construction project on the Las Vegas Strip and the adjacent roads. The world’s richest sport is coming here. 

We have the best team in the WNBA. We’ve got NFL here, which who knows how many thousands of people that’s bringing to the market every week. This new thing the Sphere is amazing. I think that’s probably going to host some sporting events, more like UFC and boxing down the road and might be a big video game haven. Then to your point, the A’s, we’re the number one destination to move or expand in Major League Baseball. 

The funny thing is I speak about it like it happened quickly. It didn’t. In the early 2000s, there was still nonsense. The NFL had, I think it was like a 52-inch TV rule. For some reason, they tried to crack down in 2003 or ‘04 on Super Bowl parties. They said they were going to have people on the ground measuring the TVs. They actually did scare a bunch of casinos into making their Super Bowl party smaller.

There was stuff like that. There was advertising. Vegas the TV show wasn’t allowed to be pushed in commercials on an NBC Super Bowl. Within the last, what, seven years Tony Romo had his fantasy football thing cancelled. That’s pretty recent history. So to come this far this quickly, and obviously, a lot of it is the legalization of sports gambling in whatever it is now, 30+ states, that normalizes what we do here, so people aren’t as afraid.

Actually, I think other markets are now more aggressive than we are because there’s no sportsbook at Allegiant, there’s no sportsbook inside of T-Mobile Arena. And there are sportsbooks popping up in arenas and stadiums and for the Super Bowl. I was sitting outside of Talking Stick for the Suns. They have a big FanDuel sportsbook like adjacent to the building. We don’t do that yet. That’s how far and fast it’s come.

It’s funny, people are now cocky. They’re like, oh, we’re getting an NBA team. Of course we’re going to get one, LeBron wants one. There’s a group that’s got a building plan down at the south end of the strip about five miles down from Mandalay Bay. They’re going to build a separate arena, so the NBA team might not have to use Foley’s building, and we’re going to have another 20,000 seat arena five miles down from the Strip.

BN: How about going forward, is there anything specifically that you would like to do in your broadcasting career?

SC: That’s a funny one because I always say this, radio is so tumultuous, and the company I work for Lotus Broadcasting is actually really loyal, really loyal, so the fact that I’ve been on here in some form since 2004 is pretty amazing because that doesn’t happen in a lot of markets.

I want to see our show grow. I think if the A’s come here and NBA comes here, I’m going to look at all of the opportunities to further build a brand, and do cool shows and cover all these cool athletes. This place has worked out way beyond any expectation. I think we’ve made enough connections around town being here for whatever it is 27 years and 19 local, that’s hard to walk away from. I don’t know how people jump from market to market every four and five years because so much of what you get in terms of inside information, that takes a while to build connections.

Dude, I’m a weirdo. I want to live somewhere where I’m comfortable. I’m not stressed. I don’t have to drive a whole bunch. The audience is chill. There really are no rules here, so you can kind of do whatever you want within reason. It’s a great place to live, the weather’s great for most of the year. At this point, I’m old enough where I’m just completely averse to cold weather. I travel to cold weather markets, but it’s for like three days and I’m like, yeah, back to Vegas where a bad day is 56 degrees.

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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

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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

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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

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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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