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Independent Content Creators Capture Essence of the Game

Most of these personalities got their start working independently and either continue to do so or are in partnership with larger brands amid growth.

Derek Futterman



Digital Media 2023
Courtesy: Meta

As the world of media content creation and consumption pervades the digital sector, outlets are invariably evaluating the optimization of resources. Whether it is funding, personnel, or timing, a litany of factors within the greater ecosystem fall under constant scrutiny in an attempt to diminish aggregate opportunity cost. While many large media companies remain profitable, executives have the shrewd intellect and foresight to take heed of research divulging permutations in such trends. The metamorphosis of the business, expedited by the global pandemic and temporary cessation of sporting events, leans towards putting more control and oversight in the purview of the customer.

There is a greater demand for niche content and presentations, hence the creation of alternate viewing experiences concomitant with live game broadcasts. Moreover, various athletes and media professionals have created their own content factories, producing and promulgating original podcasts, series, and documentaries.

Central to all of this innovation, however, are social media outlets, labyrinthic confluences of ideas, experiences, and compositions. Recent studies estimate that 4.9 billion people are using these applications worldwide, with a daily average usage time at two hours and 25 minutes. In a culture predicated on productivity coupled with a widespread lack of free moments, people seem to find ways to interpolate these digital plazas into their quotidian routines.

Many social media users consider influencers and creators to be firmly embedded in today’s cultural zeitgeist. Most of these personalities got their start working independently and either continue to do so or are in partnership with larger brands amid growth. The occupation, some of whom consider it their full-time job, is very much a 24/7 endeavor with lucrative contracts and a marked transition to becoming a recognizable public figure.

“I was posting three to five videos a day on TikTok,” Lacey Jane Brown said, who has north of 700,000 followers across various social media platforms. “From there, I was also trying to go to sporting events. A lot of different out-of-pocket expenses, but kind of how I viewed it was, ‘Hey, this is going to pay in the long run. You have to make some expenses now.’”

Brown eventually signed with a management team who helped establish her brand and position her for continued growth. Over the course of the calendar year, she consistently travels to explore sporting venues and creates unique, short-form content based on news and rumors. With each new piece of content, Brown and many other personalities effectively have to give an “elevator pitch” and keep people interested. After all, the average human attention span is 8.25 seconds, and studies corroborate that people prefer visual content now more than ever.

Lacey Jane Brown
Courtesy Lacey Jane Brown

As she traverses the United States and beyond, Brown makes it a point to highlight distinctive parts of the stadium experience conducive for fans to enjoy the game. This year, she discovered a lazy river at Riders Field, the home of the Frisco RoughRiders, Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Additionally, Brown attended the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and made a TikTok video highlighting how T-Mobile Park, the home of the Seattle Mariners, is the only ballpark with a Starbucks inside.

“I think what I’m trying my hardest to do is really just show the fun side of baseball, show the fun amenities in the ballpark [and] show how unique ballparks really are,” Brown said. “….I’ll even ask people at the ballpark when I’m working with their social media team; I’ll [say], ‘Hey, what’s the one thing this ballpark has that no other ballpark has?’”

During the 2022 National Football League season, Brown broke a Guinness World Record by attending 32 NFL games – one home game per team – in 73 days. She documented her journey throughout the entire trip, which was to support her 12-year-old nephew who has been battling cancer throughout his entire life.

“That was my main drive behind this that many people didn’t know,” Brown said. “I think a lot of people just thought that it was just a more selfish thing for me to do because I didn’t really share the reason why I did this because I wanted to protect my nephew – I didn’t want hate comments and all this stuff.”

John Whitaker is no stranger to animosity, receiving a fair amount of objection to the lists he posts on his “Big Game Boomer” brand of social media accounts. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, he began working in finance and accounting but always had a love for college sports. One day in late 2020, Whitaker found himself on Twitter debating Oklahoma and Michigan football with ESPN College GameDay analyst Desmond Howard. After the college football season concluded, he began making lists ranking players and aspects of the sport, and they quickly took off.

Initially beginning with 50 followers, the account rapidly grew and routinely has millions of impressions on every post. Almost 90,000 people follow the X page today, along with an additional 82,000 people on Instagram, resulting in the creation of a content calendar and finding ways to engage with the fans. These lists are derived from the synthesis of qualitative and quantitative metrics in addition to other types of research.

“I’m a guru with Microsoft Excel, so I’ve got just all these spreadsheets of data and players and coaches and recruiting,” Whitaker explained. “I would say that finance skill set has made me very savvy with just accumulating data and tracking it and putting it in a nice form to present it to the audience on social media.”

John Whitaker/Big Game Boomer
Courtesy Big Game Boomer

When Whitaker travels to college football games around the country, he posts photos and videos throughout the day, highlighting the unparalleled tradition and customs particular to each school. In addition to the lists, he is trying to build his podcast and aims to create a new episode on a daily basis, eyeing a commentator job in the future on any outlet. The lists have always been primary to his content strategy – and Whitaker shows no signs of slowing down – but he has been able to expand the scope of what he does as the page has matured.

“It gives people a name [and] a figure instead of just some guy posting lists on Twitter,” Whitaker said regarding his podcast. “I think it really helps build the ‘Big Game Boomer’ brand from instead of just posting lists to having other content where people can agree or disagree.”

Navigating through negativity is an immediate drawback of various social media platforms, consistently being exposed to disheartening comments and direct messages. There is a deluge of criticism on these outlets; however, there are plenty of people who genuinely enjoy the content and missions. Nonetheless, Brown tries to serve as a role model for other women in the space by encouraging them to remain persistent and offering her support.

“Whoever is sending hate; whoever is sending criticism, it shows more about who they are, and it’s usually the people that have private accounts that aren’t really active on social media,” Brown said. “It’s just all about ignoring it [while] taking in the good criticism – because there is good criticism out there – but I think as a female, you get a majority of the bad criticism.”

Emily Austin was direct messaging professional basketball players from the time she was young, trying to craft her journalism and hosting skills through one-on-one interviews. She would then post the interviews on social media and started reaching out to agents and managers for help to continue making inroads in the space. At the same time, Austin was also modeling for various brands, making it on a Times Square billboard and magazine covers at the age of 18. Combining modeling with her media endeavors, however, led to various agents and managers dissuading her from forging ahead.

“They were so nasty,” Austin conveyed. “‘Stick to modeling sweetheart; you’re going to get eaten alive out here,’ and just discouraging me from doing what I want to do. My broadcasting coach told me, ‘Stick to modeling,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m paying you to help me with broadcasting.’”

Emily Austin
Courtesy Emily Austin

With minimal assistance, Austin continued interviewing NBA players and built relationships around the industry. She remembers meeting ESPN basketball analyst Michael Wilbon at an event and having a conversation about her endeavors, and he became a mentor for her from whom to seek guidance. Over the last several years, Austin has hosted marquee events, traveled to the Super Bowl to work as a freelancer with SiriusXM, and served as a judge for the Miss Universe beauty pageant.

At the same time, she acquired her own skincare line, People’s Beauty, and revamped her NBA interview show as The Hoop Chat, upping its production and structure. Using her business acumen, Austin surmises that monetizing the show can take place either by collaborating with a network or by incorporating sponsorships or other advertising. Austin has over 1.2 million Instagram followers and another half-million on TikTok, and she is working to further broaden her engagement with her future goals in mind.

“I think it’s important to master multiple things, and I know it’s going to take a lot of time,” Austin said. “I don’t really have much of a social life at all which is something I’m okay with because career-wise, I do have options. Just being versatile means you have options and it’s really, really good to have options.”

Versatility and adaptability have proven to be essential characteristics of employees working in sports media, especially due to widespread industry layoffs throughout the year. The Walt Disney Company cut 7,000 jobs to slash $5.5 billion in operating costs following its strategic restructuring, highlighted by numerous ESPN staffers both on camera and behind the scenes losing their jobs. On top of that, The New York Times revealed plans to eliminate its sports section, instead relying on The Athletic vertical, which the newspaper purchased in early 2022, to produce effective local content. One month earlier, The Athletic cut 4% of its newsroom, concerning many professionals in sports journalism and beyond.

Additional cuts are taking place in all sectors of the industry, combined with the ongoing strikes in Hollywood amid concerns pertaining to residual pay, working conditions, and artificial intelligence. Average job security in media is arguably more ephemeral than ever before, encouraging young professionals to branch out on their own and take an entrepreneurial path. Aliyah Funschelle has collaborated with regional sports networks and teams to create and produce engaging content but operates with a sense of autonomy because of the creative freedom it allows.

“I think working independently, my values come across so much easier because I cover the things I want and I don’t have to worry about getting a ton of approval to talk about things,” Funschelle said. “I’m pretty outspoken when it comes to different issues or different oppressed groups of people.”

Funschelle, like Brown, grew up in Kansas and quickly made a name for herself in the smaller locale. She attended her dream school, Columbia University, and ended up moving to New York City, a place where she found mentors and opportunities to expand her skill set. Through college, she continued to amass a sizable social media following. In her youth, Funschelle would always watch linear sports networks and read newspapers and magazines, but consistent with shifts in technology, she is cognizant that additional entertaining content is elsewhere.

Aliyah Funschelle
Courtesy Aliyah Funschelle

“I’ve kind of had to adjust my content because I personally love sitting down with someone for 30 minutes and recording a whole interview and posting that, but I realize that people consume it differently,” Funschelle said. “That’s when I would have to chop it up into more bite-size pieces. It’s evolved like crazy though.”

Funschelle can frequently be seen in the “Big Apple” attending and covering sporting events, including New York Knicks and Liberty basketball games, the Army-Navy football game, and other basketball tournaments. She has been reposted by LeBron James, played pickleball with Eli Manning, and reported on the sidelines for ESPN+, taking steps to become an even more versatile media personality. If there is a big event in New York, it is likely you will run into Funschelle at some point living out her dream – and through it all, she wants to inspire women to pursue careers in sports media.

“I think it’s super important that women go where they’re celebrated, not just where they’re tolerated, and [that they] can really be set up for success,” Funschelle said. “I think that’s a big thing because a lot of people think about women in sports [as] just dealing with internet trolls, but really it’s making room for them at the table and where it really matters, which is in jobs and different opportunities.”

From independent content creators to linear and digital content from sports media outlets, consumers have a plethora of content and potent sovereignty. In a comprehensive snapshot of the space, a wide array of appealing programming is geared toward different factions of sports fans. It accentuates the importance of localized content, more of which is being created and shared by creators. Additionally, there are so many people trying to discover a paradigmatic means to operate that has rendered originality and authenticity essential traits.

“I think Pat McAfee was a big inspiration for me,” said Brown, who eventually wants to build her own program. “…His show does so well because it is unfiltered; it is authentic; there is nothing about reading a script. Yeah, you may cover specific points, but you’re not reading word-for-word. It’s very [non-]traditional media, which I really like and enjoy.”

“I just feel like because it is so saturated nowadays that the most important thing people want is just you,” Gabi Fuller, a Miami-based influencer, added. “I always say that I feel like sometimes my videos are so boring if I’m just vlogging a day where I’m not doing anything, and then I always get reminded whether it’s in comments or from people I meet – and they’re like, ‘We just want to see you.’”

Fuller is a former competitive cheerleader who was a member of the Top Gun All Stars in Miami, Fla. through which she gained a social media following. Over the ensuing years, she has found ways to expand the scope of her content to include other areas of lifestyle. Through her burgeoning popularity and high levels of engagement, Fuller has been able to promote the sport and other topics she has a passion to share with others.

She has over 300,000 followers on Instagram and an additional 172,000 on TikTok, but these two platforms only encompass part of her content strategy. Fuller prioritizes filming and editing YouTube videos, all of which she does herself, to take people into her life and allow them to get to know her as a person.

“My videos are way longer than they used to be before, and I kind of want it to be more of just like a comfort show to put on in the background,” Fuller said. “It doesn’t need to be full-blown entertaining every second of the video.”

Gabi Fuller
Courtesy Gabi Fuller

In serving as her own production team, Fuller knows she can quickly discern things and envision a distinct final product. She can also interweave sponsorships throughout her content and set her own schedule to ensure she can maintain her responsibilities as a cheerleading instructor. Throughout the course of the week, fulfilling her tasks and continuing to grow as a professional is at the top of Fuller’s mindset. Since she is doing what she loves, maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be a difficult task.

“Whenever I’m home and done for the day – as much as I can – I just try not to even be around my phone just so I’m not tempted or get distracted and even go into work mode,” Fuller said. “The line is definitely blurred with this job because you do sometimes feel like they’ll be days where I feel like I work from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep for sure.”

While she does not consume much sports media content on her own, Fuller appreciates programming that can give people different perspectives of athletes. She referenced the aforementioned Netflix docuseries, Quarterback, in discussing deeper storytelling and her future goals. Because she is split between the athletic and content creation spaces and blends both with one another, defining her occupation is somewhat of a challenge.

“[Cheerleading] literally probably takes up 50% of my life, where the other 50% is more the lifestyle; the influencing; more of the social media business work,” Fuller said. “I truly feel like both labels kind of explain exactly who I am because that’s just how my life is truly divided and split up.”

Fuller studied mechanical engineering while she attended Florida International University, an experience through which she balanced her studies with cheerleading and content creation. While she rose in the ranks at this time, Dylan Sadiq took a different journey after his biomedical engineering classes were put on hold due to a global pandemic. After growing frustrated with not being able to learn in a laboratory, he worked to find ways to further his education. Sadiq graduated in the top echelons of his class, and he used his analytical sagacity to find a new hobby that has since turned into a job.

“Images are just made up of pixels, and pixels are just colored squares,” Sadiq said. “In theory, if you have enough pixels – very detailed images have tens of thousands of pixels – you can make a crystal clear image; however, a Rubik’s Cube is literally nine colored squares on one side. In theory, if I had enough colored squares or pixels, or even in this case if I had enough Rubik’s cubes, I’d be able to make an image.”

With no background in content creation, Sadiq set up a camera as he took 10 hours to craft a mural of Dallas Mavericks superstar guard Luka Dončić and then posted his video to TikTok as “The College Cuber.” The post gained traction and was noticed by the Mavericks organization, who then asked his permission to share it across their social media platforms. Almost like a domino effect, other teams began reaching out to Sadiq to create images, and he was suddenly taking requests. The more he practiced, the faster he was completing the mosaics – and chances to perform his work live began to surface.

Dylan Sadiq
Courtesy Rutgers University

“If it wasn’t for social media, especially TikTok, I would just be some kid playing with cubes in his basement honestly,” Sadiq said. “Social [media] is not only a great way to share what you’re creating with your fans, but at the same time, it’s definitely your marketing as a business.”

Sadiq does not view himself as a bonafide content creator, instead utilizing his art as a vehicle to drive success – which he conveys is a duality between recognition and compensation. Much of his business remains independent, but he does have some employees who assist him with different aspects of the operation amid an effort to expand the scope of his work.

In the future, he does not want to solely rely on the multicolored cubes to craft these pieces, holding an innate desire to broaden his artistic horizons. No matter what he ends up doing though, the central focus of his social media usage comes down to publishing his work and presenting other aspects of his lifestyle.

“Whether it’s the everyday person or the diehard sports fan, I’m trying to educate people [on] what’s going on in sports,” Sadiq said. “I do research and I try to really just put that out there and use my art as a secondary visual for that, but at the end of the day, I feel like I’m really just trying to share my journey as a person and as an artist.”

The dynamic nature of sports media within the vacillating content ecosystem has been preferential towards individuals and personalities. Building rapport with consumers is essential to establishing oneself as a brand, rendering engagement with fans tantamount to distributing content.

“I look at them as real people and people I could be friends with,” Funschelle said of her followers, “and it does show because I actually meet so many people from the internet in real life and become friends with them.”

“A Virginia Tech fan may hate me one day because I said, ‘Blacksburg isn’t that great of a college town,’ but he may love me the next day when I say that Virginia Tech’s stadium entrance – when the players come in the stadium – is the best in the country,” Whitaker added. “It’s a love-hate relationship.”

The tenacity to create opportunities and a resolute commitment to innovating and refining the craft are shared characteristics between these six flourishing creators. All of them, along with many others, are leveraging the power of digital media and revamping the way sports media and lifestyle content is being created and subsequently disseminated. Traditional media outlets have their own digital media divisions, and while it may be easier to obtain access to events or collaborate with celebrities, independent creators continue to immerse themselves in the domain. They are here to stay and are making an impact that goes far beyond the final score.

“I forget sometimes when I’m uploading [videos] and I just post it that there’s real people sitting down watching this and taking something from it,” Fuller said. “All I kind of see is the numbers or a name on the screen, and getting to feel that more, whether it’s in person or just a long message from someone – it is the most rewarding thing ever [in] this job.”

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Tricia Whitaker Will Find The Story That Matters

“My role is to really bring the viewers down to that level of the dugout and into the clubhouse.”

Derek Futterman



Tricia Whitaker FNB
Courtesy: Apple

When St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run in his final season in the majors last September, the baseball world erupted in mass jubilation. Although the milestone achievement occurred during a road game, the fans still showered one of the sport’s quintessential athletes with praise as they witnessed the fourth player enter this exclusive pinnacle of power hitters. For fans watching from afar, they were treated with crisp, vivid footage of the moment since the matchup was exclusive to Apple TV+ as a part of its Friday Night Baseball slate of games.

The game broadcast featured field reporter Tricia Whitaker, who had just joined the Apple TV+ presentations to begin the second half of the season. Being there as one of the voices tasked with keeping viewers informed and captivated by the action was a special experience that she will never forget. 

“You’re talking about the best cameras in the entire world capturing one of the most iconic players ever,” Whitaker said. “I thought the call was amazing; I thought the quality of the shots was amazing [and] I’l never forget that broadcast, ever, because it was so cool.”

Whitaker grew up in Bloomington, Ind. and would journey to Wrigley Field with her father once per summer to watch the Chicago Cubs. Through those games, she realized that a ballpark was her ideal future workplace.

“We just didn’t have a ton of money, [so] I would sit in the nosebleeds with him once a summer and that was the biggest treat in the world,” Whitaker said. “I just realized that I loved telling stories and I loved sports, so I decided to do that.”

Whitaker’s journey in the industry genuinely began as an undergraduate student at Indiana University Bloomington where she adopted a mindset to seize any opportunities offered to her. Despite having no knowledge or previous reporting experience, she accepted a role to cover a tennis match and quickly started preparing. After one of her professors saw her nascent media acumen, they recommended she audition for the university’s student television station to hone her skills. Whitaker earned a spot and began covering Indiana Hoosiers basketball and football for the show Hoosier Sports Night. From there, she simply kept on accepting anything in her purview.

“Your best asset is your availability, so I basically just said ‘Yes’ to everything,” Whitaker articulated.

Once it became time to search for a full-time position, her experience and tenacity helped her land a role at WBAY-TV in Green Bay as a sports reporter and anchor. After two football seasons working there, Whitaker relocated closer to home to report for WTTV-TV Channel 4 in Indianapolis. The time was valuable for her to cultivate new relationships with those around the industry while strengthening existing ones, serving as a foundational aspect of her reporting. 

“If they don’t trust you to tell their stories, they’re not going to talk to you,” Whitaker said. “You have to be able to have a good relationship with the players; with the coaches and everybody involved.”

At the same time, Whitaker felt compelled to make a lasting contribution to Indiana University through teaching and inspiring the next generation of journalists. She is now an adjunct professor for the IU Media School and wants her students to know how integral it is to make themselves available while being open and willing to try new things to make inroads into the profession. 

“There’s always a story to be told, so even if it’s a random event that you don’t think anyone’s paying attention to, there’s people there; there’s human stories and their stories matter,” Whitaker said. “That’s what I always try to tell my students is [to] just find that story that makes people interested in it and find that story that matters.”

Over the years working in these dual roles, Whitaker became more skilled in her position and proceeded to audition to join the Tampa Bay Rays’ broadcast crew on Bally Sports Sun as a field reporter. When she received news that she had landed the coveted job, she remembers starting to cry in her closet while trying to organize her clothes. After all, Whitaker had just learned that she would get to perform the role she idolized when she was young. The access her role gives her to the players and coaches on the field is not taken for granted.

“I’ll interview hitting coaches about a guy’s hands and where they’ve moved and about his stance,” Whitaker said. “….In the next hit, I’ll tell a story about a guy who drinks a smoothie every day before the game and he feels [that] putting spinach in it has really made a difference or something like that. My reporting style is pretty much all of it, but I do like to do the human interest stories more than I like to do anything else because I think that’s unique.”

After each Rays win, Whitaker takes the field and interviews one of the players on the team. Earlier in the season, she remembers speaking with Rays outfielder Jose Siri after he drove in three runs against the Detroit Tigers; however, the broadcast was not on Bally Sports Sun. Instead, she was doing the interview for Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+, a national broadcast property the company pays MLB an estimated $85 million annually to carry. Going into the interview, Whitaker knew that she would need to appeal to more than just Rays fans and appropriately started the conversation by asking about the game.

Yet she also knew that it was “Salsa Night” at Comerica Park in Detroit and thanks to her work with the regional network, was cognizant of the fact that Siri likes to dance in the dugout. As a result, she concluded the interview with a request for Siri to demonstrate his salsa dancing skills, something that made an ordinary conversation stand out.

“I tried to personalize it a little bit to help people get to know Jose Siri a little bit better because I think that’s important,” Whitaker said. “….You make sure you talk about baseball, but then you add a little flair to it; add a little personality to it. Everybody loves salsa, right?”

The Apple broadcasts require Whitaker to prepare as she executes her role with the Rays, keeping her wholly invested and consumed by baseball. There are occasions where she is afforded the luxury of reporting on Rays games for her Friday night assignment, but they are rare. Therefore, she needs to become familiar with two teams by reviewing statistics, reading local reporting and conversing with those involved. She keeps her notes on her cell phone and makes lists of what she is going to do during the day to keep herself organized and focused.

Throughout the week, Whitaker actively prepares for the Friday night matchup and meets with her producer to contribute her ideas and learn about the macro vision of the broadcast. The Apple broadcast, aside from using high-caliber technology, also regularly equips microphones to place on players that allow viewers to hear what is transpiring on the field. Whitaker, along with play-by-play announcer Alex Faust and color commentator Ryan Spilborghs, coordinate with the production team throughout the game to present an insightful and compelling final product.

There was criticism of the Apple TV+ live game baseball broadcasts during its inaugural season, but the noise continues to diminish in its sophomore campaign. Whitaker views her role as accruing a confluence of stories about the game and more insightful looks at the personalities on the field. Before each contest, she interviews a player in the dugout and asks questions that put the season in context, granting a comprehensive understanding about a subset of their journey.

“We try to get their thoughts on the season so far at the plate, but also try to get to know them on a personal level,” Whitaker said. “My role is to really bring the viewers down to that level of the dugout and into the clubhouse.”

It is considerably more facile to execute such a task before the game than it is during gameplay because of the introduction of the pitch clock. While it has undoubtedly sped up the game and made the product more appealing for fans of all ages, its actualization threatened the viability of unique aspects of baseball broadcasts. The Apple TV+ crew may work together once per week, but over a 162-game season spanning parts of seven months, there is a perdurable bond and unyielding chemistry evident therein.

“Everybody on that crew – and I seriously mean this – is so supportive no matter who you are as long as you do your job well,” Whitaker said. “They don’t even think about the fact that I’m a female in sports [and] they just support me. They help me take constructive criticism because they care and because they truly see me as an equal.”

Whitaker has had the chance to report from Wrigley Field with Apple TV+ and vividly remembers her experience of stepping inside as a media member for the first time. It was a surreal full-circle moment that has been the result of years of determination and persistence to make it to the major leagues.

“I walked into Wrigley and I started to tear up because I remember when my dad and I used to go there and I was 12 years old,” Whitaker stated. “If you would have told me at 12 years old [that] I would be doing a national game at Wrigley, I would have told you [that] you were lying because I just wouldn’t have thought that was a possibility.”

Although Whitaker is receptive to potentially hosting regular sports programming in the future, she has found the joy in her roles with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Apple TV+. Being able to experience historic moments, including Pujols’ milestone home run, and then diving deeper into the situation makes the countless flights, hotel stays and lack of a genuine respite worthwhile. She hopes to continue seamlessly fulfilling her responsibility this Friday night when the New York Mets face the Philadelphia Phillies at 6:30 p.m. EST/3:30 p.m. PST, exclusively on Apple TV+.

“There’s always a story to be told, and if you’re good at your job, you’re going to find that story even on a day where you’re like, ‘Oh gosh, there’s nothing going on,’” Whitaker said. “I take that pretty seriously.”

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Radio Advertising Can be the Secret Weapon For In-House Digital Marketers

“The trend of businesses gaining digital marketing proficiency presents a unique opportunity for YOU.”

Jeff Caves



Courtesy: ETSY

Remember when in-house marketers were primarily focused on traditional media and needed help navigating the digital and social media landscape? Well, the tables are turning! 

The rise of digital-savvy in-house marketers is opening up exciting opportunities for radio ad salespeople. As local businesses increasingly invest in digital marketing, some are finding they need your expertise in radio advertising.

Borrell Associates has released their latest Business Barometer, and included in the findings was a slight but noticeable shift favoring traditional forms of broadcast media. Let’s dive into how sports and news radio ad salespeople can leverage this shift to target businesses with proficient digital marketing people on board who may need to know more about the potential of radio advertising.

1. Digital-Marketing Trending UP!

Borrell Associates’ recent findings indicate that businesses are increasingly proficient in digital marketing. They are adeptly managing their websites and social media channels, driving results through online campaigns. However, this digital surge doesn’t necessarily translate to expertise in traditional media, such as radio. Hey, do you know a business like that? And make sure you know of an outsourced digital agency you can refer who can handle your clients’ digital and social media for very few dollars. You can help manage the rest of the budget! 

2. Target In-House Buyers

Make a list of businesses you know that have in-house people who are digital-oriented or younger owners who handle mostly digital advertising independently. Or, how about the in-house marketing person who only takes on marketing initiatives like events or sales promotion and knows nothing about advertising? Get ’em! 

3. We create demand

One of the unique selling points of radio is its ability to generate demand and send more customers to Google or your client’s website. Digital marketing can often direct buyers seeking a specific purchase but can’t create lasting impressions and build demand and loyalty like your station. Use this advantage to demonstrate how radio can reinforce the brand story and enhance the effectiveness of digital campaigns.

4. Surround the listener

Recognize that businesses with digital marketing expertise may want holistic solutions. Sell packages that combine digital and radio advertising. Include your streaming endorsements with social media and geo-fencing. They get it and will be impressed with reaching their target audience across multiple touchpoints.

5. Be the Teacher

Your prospects may be experts in digital marketing, but they might not fully understand the potential of radio advertising. Take on the role of an educator. Provide resources, case studies, and success stories that showcase how your station and radio have boosted digital-savvy businesses’ results.

6. 1+1=3 for Creativity

Collaboration is key when working with clients with a digital marketing team. Involve them in the creative process of writing and producing radio ads. Creativity could be their strength, and they will bring fresh perspectives to your production.

The trend of businesses gaining digital marketing proficiency presents a unique opportunity for YOU. Maybe your client is struggling with their digital strategy. Imagine that now they may be seeking you out to help them understand what they have already read about buying radio advertising. It’s time to adapt your approach and position radio as a complementary and powerful tool in the digital marketing person toolkit.

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Bill Parcells Shaped The Media By Giving Them Hell

“Parcells doesn’t belong in a studio chatting with a quarterback. He belongs in a temper tantrum screaming at a sportswriter.”

John Molori



Bill Parcells
Courtesy: AP Photo

Two of the most talked about media stories of the past couple of weeks intersect in the form of one legendary NFL head coach – Bill Parcells. 

In the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ potentially season-ending Achilles injury in Week 1 of the NFL season, many media pundits harkened back to 1999 when then-Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde suffered a similar injury in the first game of the season. Like Rodgers, Testaverde was a veteran signal-caller looking to bring the long-suffering Jets to a Super Bowl. 

One week after Rodgers’ injury, Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley was in the media mechanism for an exchange with a reporter after his club fell to 0-2. Staley took issue with a query about whether the team’s monumental playoff collapse last season versus Jacksonville has carried over to their slow start this season. 

ESPN’s First Take included video of Staley’s comment on their September 19 show building it up as some rash, heated interaction between coach and press. It was not. In fact, Staley merely directly answered the question asserting this season has nothing to do with last season. 

Both of these headlines find common ground in the person of Bill Parcells. Parcells was the head coach of the Jets in 1999 when Testaverde’s season ended in that fateful game vs. New England. In addition, he was notorious for some truly vitriolic run-ins with post-game reporters. 

Forget about Staley or even the infamous press conference rants of Jim Mora (“Playoffs!?”), Herm Edwards (“You play to win the game!”), and Dennis Green (“Crown ‘em!”). To the media, Parcells was Armageddon, Three Mile Island, and Hurricane Katrina rolled into one. Never has there been a football character so inexplicably loved and despised. 

In New England, Parcells’s arrival as head coach of the Patriots in 1993 signaled the turnaround of the franchise, but fans refuse to vote him into the team’s Hall of Fame because of his unceremonious jump from to the Jets after the 1996 season. 

When that happened, Parcells again grasped the media spotlight stating, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.” He was referring to new owner Bob Kraft taking final say personnel decisions away from Parcells.

Like him or not, Parcells, known as The Tuna, rejuvenated five NFL franchises. The New York Giants were a mishmash of Joe Pisarciks and Earnest Grays before Parcells turned them into two-time champions.

Patriot fans actually cheered for the likes of Hugh Millen and Eugene Chung until Parcells came to town and brought in players like Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri, and Tedy Bruschi, laying the foundation for a dynasty.

And the Jets? They were living off the fumes of Joe Namath’s Brut 33 until Bill Parcells constructed a team that went from 1-15 in 1996 under Rich Kotite to 9-7 and 12-4 in 1997 and 1998 respectively with Parcells. 

The Cowboys were 5-11 under Dave Campo in 2002. The next year, they went 10-6 with Parcells. Miami was 1-15 in 2007. The next year, with Parcells as executive VP of Football ops, they won the AFC East with an 11-5 record.

The Catholic church has its Apostle’s Creed. Those who follow the gospel of The Tuna have A Parcells Creed, and it goes as follows: I believe if a reporter asks Parcells if he outcoached a colleague, that reporter will be called a “dumb ass.” I believe that the media are “commies” and “subversive from within” as Parcells once labeled them.

I believe in using the media to denigrate young players to keep their egos in check. After Jets QB Glenn Foley had a solid preseason performance a few years back, the New York media surrounded the redheaded QB as if he had won the Super Bowl. 

Parcells walked right in front of Foley and sarcastically asked, “Do you mind if I get past Sonny Jurgensen over here,” referring to the similarly redheaded Redskin quarterbacking legend.

In 1995, when all of New England was agog over a rookie running back named Curtis Martin, Parcells slyly commented to the press, “Well, we’re not carving his bust for Canton just yet.” And of course, there was the late Terry Glenn. When asked how the former Patriot wideout was recovering from an injury, the Tuna spouted, “She’s doing just fine.”

Parcells’ stints as a studio analyst on ESPN, although insightful, seemed out of place. He would sit there, dressed in a dark blue suit talking strategy with fellow ESPN gabber Steve Young. Honestly, he looked like a rotund funeral director searching for someone to embalm.

Parcells doesn’t belong in a studio chatting with a quarterback. He belongs in a temper tantrum screaming at a sportswriter. 

I interviewed Boston media personality Steve DeOssie about Parcells. DeOssie was the defensive signal caller for the New York Giants (1989-93) when Parcells was the team’s head coach. He again played for Parcells in New England in 1994.

He told me, “Parcells realizes that the media is the enemy. Let’s face it, the media cannot do anything positive for a team, but they can put stuff out there that could lose a game. The bottom line with Parcells is whether it helps his team win.”

“He loves the camera and the camera loves him. He enjoys that part of the business. The media can spin it any way they want. Parcells does not suffer fools gladly and a lot of media types don’t like being called out in press conferences.”

Another Boston media legend also gave me his reflections of Parcells. Bob Lobel is the most revered sports anchor of all-time in New England. He stated, “I did a one-on-one interview with Parcells awhile back. He is so down to earth yet has this aura. It’s easy to be in awe of him.”

The national perspective is similar. When Troy Aikman was an analyst for FOX Sports, the current Monday Night Football color commentator credited Parcells with restacking the Cowboys’ roster and bringing winning back to Dallas.

When asked about playing for Parcells with the Jets, FS1’s Keyshawn Johnson offered, “He taught me how to do things, how to pay attention.” 

Even people whom Parcells fired maintain a respect for him. Sirius NFL Radio’s Pat Kirwan was the director of player administration for the Jets when Parcells arrived in 1997. 

Kirwan told me, “Parcells rebuilds a franchise from top to bottom. He evaluates everyone from the trainers to the doctors to the equipment guys. In 1997 when Bill came to the Jets, I knew I was qualified, but I also knew that Bill would let me go.”

In a September 12, 2023 story, New York Post reporter Brian Costello interviewed Parcells about the Rodgers injury. 

This master of media mind games famous for the quote, “You don’t get any medal for trying,” revealed his visceral core telling Costello, “You are charged with winning games under any circumstances … They’re not canceling the games. They’re not canceling them. You’re coaching them. It’s your job to get your team ready to play to the best of their ability.”

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