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Damon Amendolara is Supercharging His Show on Mad Dog Sports Radio

“The way that I described it on the air was it’s not sad, it’s just hard. There’s a part of me that is just beaming about all of this, but I’m a loyal guy.”

Brian Noe



A photo of Damon Amendolara and the Mad Dog Sports Radio logo

I might root for the bad guy in a movie. I sometimes root for the heel in pro wrestling. But in sports radio, I’ll only root for the good people. No exceptions. Damon Amendolara is one of the best humans you will find in the industry. He makes it easy to root for him.

D.A. has begun a brand new opportunity at SiriusXM this week. The D.A. Show with Babchik now airs in morning drive on Mad Dog Sports Radio. While D.A. is incredibly happy to begin this new journey, he was deeply torn about leaving his audience and co-workers at CBS Sports Radio.

You can’t fake being a good person. It’s eventually going to show whether you’re legit or not. D.A. has genuine feelings for his listeners and the people he’s worked with. He didn’t just shrug his shoulders and say, “ehh, on to the next one”.

Some hosts are about themselves; D.A. is about other people and the industry itself. Couple that with a great work ethic, obvious talent and a sincere caring for others, how do you not root for a guy like that?

Damon Amendolara made time to talk about the emotional closing of one chapter, and the uncontained excitement of teaming up with Mike Babchik and Sirius. He also talks about getting called out by a big name and hoping he’s not Terry Glenn. Enjoy!

Brian Noe: What went into your decision to move on from CBS to go to SiriusXM?

Damon Amendolara: Well, CBS Sports Radio was an amazing place to work for 11 years because they really trusted me and my vision of the show. I don’t ever take that for granted. They really believed in what my vision was, which was sometimes eccentric, sometimes a little off-the-wall, sometimes absurdist, but they believed in it. I never really wanted to leave necessarily, but SiriusXM came to me and they knew the show.

Eric Spitz had been my old boss at CBS. He had launched CBS Sports Radio, so I had the connection with him. He knew my show, he liked my show, and he kind of came to me and said, “We want what you do there, over here. And we want to take what you do and kind of put a rocket booster on it”.

We talked about some details about what that could mean, what that looks like, but really, I just loved the idea of taking what I’ve done for so long, and kind of jumping into the resources and the assets and the support system that SiriusXM gives you. You’re just talking about a wealth of guests, of branding, of event planning, marketing, social media push, PR. These are all things that I was just dazzled by.

The other thing was they really cared about my listeners. I care deeply about my listeners. They said, “We want all of them to come over, what can we do for them?” I listed off some of the things that I thought we needed to take it to the next level and they said, “Let’s do it”. They’re starting by giving them three months for free, a D.A. Show listener special. And saying let’s plan events, and let’s do this for them, and let’s think about them. That meant a lot because it would take a lot for me to have left CBS.

BN: When the press release came out, Eric Spitz said, “D.A. is one of the brightest stars in sports radio today.” When you read those words, what does something like that mean to you coming from him?

DA: That’s funny that you picked that out. You’ve got a good nose for this stuff because that was really impactful for me. Eric and I have had a lot of honest conversations, but he can be a tough coach. When I worked for him at CBS Sports Radio, I knew that he respected me, but you rarely get that type of gloss. So to come through the battles that we’ve had together, and then he left for Sirius five years ago, and for us to reconnect, and for him to say that publicly was really quite the, wow, he’s talking about me?

When it’s said about you, you rarely think of yourself in those terms, you kind of put your head down every day and you try to do a good show. You try to connect to the listeners and you hope that it’s recognized on the outside. But as you know, it’s rare to feel accolades or to see those things said in print about you or said out loud by decision-makers. I read that and I said, wow, I guess he really does like me. [Laughs]

BN: [Laughs] I’m in the cool club, man. I made it.

DA: Yeah, it’s like after you retire, the head coach who coached you hard for all those years finally said, “You know what? You were one of my favorite players”. And you’re like, “Wow, I never heard that before”. That’s nice.

BN: So is this like you’re Phil Simms and he’s Parcells or something like that?

DA: [Laughs] It certainly feels that way. I hope I’m not Terry Glenn. Maybe it was more like Belichick who coached these guys really hard and then brought them over to the Patriots like Pepper Johnson or something like that.

BN: Yeah, there you go. It’s funny, man, I had a flashback just a couple of minutes ago. I was doing radio in Fresno. There was an offensive coordinator at the time at Fresno State, Jim McElwain. He got a new job at Alabama. He was going to be their offensive coordinator over there. So there’s a press conference announcing this, and I go up to him and I said, what was this decision like for you? I expected him to give me this, “Oh yeah, it was difficult, but you’d know that it was a no-brainer”; he’s going to Alabama, right?

He looked at me and he had tears in his eyes, and he goes, “Gut-wrenching”. It was just an eye-opener of like, holy cow, it’s not just about going to a bigger school or a bigger platform. You’ve got relationships, you’ve got history, that’s not easy to walk away from. So as that relates to you and CBS, how would you describe that whole part of this decision?

DA: That right there, what you just said is really good insight into a decision like this. SiriusXM has these beautiful studios. Howard Stern is in the building, or at least his studios are. You’ve got concerts in there, and musicians and actors in there. You’re filled with these creative juices, these celebrities, the popular people. You would think, “Man, of course, it’s a slam dunk”. And yes, those things are so attractive to be around and be part of, but when you’re at a place for 11 years you develop really close bonds with your team and with your listeners.

My team that I had at CBS, unfortunately, couldn’t come with me; they’re too valuable over there. I can’t wait to work with the crew over at Sirius, but you leave those guys behind that you’ve built something so dearly with. So yeah, it’s much like a sports team, where you ask this of your guys, and you’ve got to block for me here, you’ve got to trust me on this, we’ve got to run it this way. Then they do and you have success, and then you have to leave them. That’s a hard thing.

The way that I described it on the air was it’s not sad, it’s just hard. I’m super excited. I’m really excited, really thrilled, and really happy. There’s a part of me that is just beaming about all of this, but I’m a loyal guy. I ask my guys to be loyal to the show and to each other. I ask the listeners to be loyal to the show as well. And then you feel like you’re breaking that bond, your word with them.

You ask everybody to believe in your vision to follow me, this is how it’s going to work, and I believe it’s going to work, and now I’m the one that breaks that bond. That is the hardest part of this to feel like you’re turning your back on people that you asked to follow you. It’s like every day, come follow, the show is good, come listen, this is great, you’re gonna love it. And then you go, oh, and now I’m leaving.

I just hate breaking that bond, but it’s one of those things where in this industry you’re builders and destroyers when you move on to different shows. It’s just part of it and I hope people can come along.

BN: How do you envision working with Babs now?

DA: He is such a wild card. There’s so many stories of Babchik around the industry. They’re all positive, but they all kind of end with, yeah, he’s a lunatic. But he’s a great guy. I didn’t come in with any preconceived notions, I just kind of knew that high-energy, funny dude, people really like him. I sat down with him for lunch a couple of times and then we talked on the phone. What I realized was, he’s so sharp and so fast, his wit and his brain works at like 1.5 speed. And it’s brilliant.

He always has a one-liner, his comedic timing is so good. He’s always at the front of a conversation with the line that he can then leave the conversation with. And it’s like, wow, how did you just do that? I feel like I walk into a room and I can have a conversation with anybody, but he leads, and then he drops the mic and everybody laughs and he walks away. It’s very much like a Costanza thing. It’s amazing to watch.

I get such a kick out of him. I’m so excited to just see what it’s like to work with him every day. I love it because it’s going to keep me engaged every minute. Because he’s so quick, I’ve got to make sure that I stay on his wavelength.

Maybe sometimes I’ll follow it. Maybe sometimes I won’t because it’ll be like, wow, dude, you just got to do that on your own right now. [Laughs] But I’m super excited just to combine the two energies. I think it’s going to be wild.

BN: It’s almost like music in a way. Van Halen had their sound with David Lee Roth and now you come in and you’re the new singer. How do you approach a show when Babs worked with Evan Cohen for so long? Do you keep that in mind at all, or do you just start fresh?

DA: I need to be very respectful of the team that they have and the dynamic that they’ve created because they’ve been very successful themselves, whether it’s Babchik, Louie Gold is the producer, Britt is the board op, they have done it together. And I’m coming in.

The last thing I want to do is be like, trash everything you’ve done before, this is the way we’re going to do it. I have to respect the fact that they’ve done it and they’ve done it together and they have something there as well.

I want to be respectful of what they’ve already done, but then also say this is what my strength is and this is what I can provide to add to this and, hopefully, build it up. What I’ve found is that they’re really open to that. The meetings that we’ve had, the lunches that we’ve had, they’ve been like, yeah, bring it, let’s combine the forces.

That’s an exciting proposition when everybody in the room is like, “Yeah, we want everybody to collaborate on this”. But you’re right, it is like creating music. Everybody’s got to understand the rhythm, and once you get the rhythm down, if you have good people and talented people around you, it’ll be great, and I know that they’re super talented.

BN: What do you make of the irony that one minute you’re getting blasted by Mike Francesa for using your initials on the air…

DA: [Laughs]

BN: …and now you’re on his former partner’s channel, you’re on Mad Dog now?

DA: It’s amazing how this industry tends to just go full circle all of the time. You’re kind of like jammed into this one little room of the party with the same people and you just keep bumping into them all the time. It’s why I’ve tried to never leave on a bad note, blast somebody, make enemies. That thing with Francesa was so innocuous. I had no intent to create a battle or a war and it led to that.

I appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog 30 for 30 as one of the talking heads that grew up listening to them. There’s a video that circulates on YouTube of me interviewing those guys back in high school for my high school project, my communications class 25 years ago. And now to work with Russo, to be the morning show to his afternoon show is so freaking wild.

I don’t know if Francesa still hates that I use my initials, but I would just tell him, it’s not even been my choice. Program directors just said your last name is hard to pronounce, you just gotta go by your initials. I said, all right, fine. [Laughs] And for the rest of my career, it’s just going to be how it’s branded.

So it’s actually worked well and I hope Mike understands that it’s worked well. I just hope he’s not sitting at home, gritting his teeth that the kid in his mid-40s with the initials is still doing it, and is now doing it with Russo. [Laughs]

BN: What are your short-term and long-term goals for your new show?

DA: Short term, I want to bring my audience as much as I can to Sirius and show them that we can supercharge the show with all of the resources we get at Sirius. And for the SiriusXM Mad Dog listeners, I want them to be introduced to a brand of sports radio that I think is really unique.

I like to pride us on being the place where you can come for really thoughtful sports analysis, that has to be our foundation, but willing to be self-deferential, self-deprecating, and a place where you’re going to get an element of zany, an element of ridiculous, an element of let’s push the envelope for an eccentric sense of humor.

It has to sound different or else nobody’s going to really care. I think it’s going to sound different in a really cool way because that’s how my mind works and because Babs is such a unique personality. I just want to tap into that.

Then the long-term goal is I want to push every button and pull every lever at Sirius XM to see what we can supercharge. I look at it almost like you’re in the Death Star, and you’ve got this massive panel of buttons and computers going.

And you’re just like, “If I press this, what happens? If I pull this lever, what happens? What does this computer do?” I’ve never worked at a place that had this many assets and this many people looking to help shows, to help channels. That’s the job, to help the channel supercharge.

I walked into the building the other day and you’re just like, there’s so many creative people in here and so many verticals. If you can just tap into some of the talent and knowledge, if you can tap into some of the branding, the resources, the event planning, what more could I ask for?

It’s kind of overwhelming. It’s a little bit like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. You go in there and you’re like, there’s all of these flavors? And I can taste any of them? So long-term, I want to know everybody in that building in every department and go, what’s the strength here? And how can we utilize this to put the rocket boosters on?

BN: Yeah, man. I hear you. Well, I’m excited for you. I hope you enjoy it. I hope it’s a great opportunity for you.

DA: Thanks, bro. Thank you, I appreciate that.

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Julian Edelman Has Been FOX’s NFL Breakout Star

Edelman has an easy-going and free-wheeling nature about him. He’s a joy to watch, and he seldom wastes airtime with cliches and empty comments.

John Molori



A photo of Julian Edelman
(Photo: Julian Edelman)

He was a key member of the NFL’s last true dynasty, a children’s book author, a regular talking head on NFL Network’s America’s Game anthology, an actor in the film 80 for Brady, and a multimedia favorite. And oh yeah, he is third all-time in the NFL for postseason receptions and was the MVP of Super Bowl LIII. He is Julian Edelman.

These days he answers to a new calling – a rising star on FOX’s excellent NFL commentator roster. Edelman, who retired in 2020 after 12 seasons as a wide receiver with the New England Patriots, has logged impressive recent stints on FS1’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd.

Edelman has been an unexpected jewel in FOX’s football crown, providing behind-the-scenes, players-only insight in a casual and humorous style. On a recent edition of The Herd, Edelman’s talent was on full display.

In a discussion about Patriots’ signal caller Mac Jones, Cowherd implied that it would have been easier for the Alabama QB if he had gone to a less intense environment with an offensive-minded head coach.

Edelman countered by referencing Josh Dobbs, who played great in his first start for the Vikings after being with the team for just a couple of days. Edelman stated, “If you’re a guy, you’re a guy,” meaning that good players adapt to any situation. He added, “This is the National Football League. If you don’t win, the quarterback and the head coach get the blame. This is a production business.”

One of the refreshing aspects of Edelman’s TV game is his candor. He was deeply rooted in the Patriot Way and benefitted from all it offered him, but he pulls no punches in talking about his former team.

He does not buy into the excuse that Mac Jones has had three different offensive coordinators in his three NFL seasons. Edelman stated that ex-Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels’ and current OC Bill O’Brien’s offensive schemes are essentially identical.  

Edelman has an easy-going and free-wheeling nature about him. He’s a joy to watch, and he seldom wastes airtime with cliches and empty comments. He uses his strong connections to Tom Brady and other members of the NFL’s glitterati to his advantage, but he is not violating these friendships with kiss-and-tell BS.

In his young broadcasting career, Edelman has also embraced a rare quality among media personalities, namely, the courage to admit when he is wrong. He recently stated that he thought Texans’ quarterback CJ Stroud was going to be just another failed Ohio State quarterback joining the likes of Cardale Jones, Terrell Pryor, Troy Smith, and the late Dwayne Haskins.

Julian Edelman acknowledged his error and lauded Stroud for his performance and the Houston offensive staff for keeping it simple and allowing Stroud to flourish. He then made an accurate comparison between Stroud and Dak Prescott who had a similarly amazing rookie season in 2016. He also revealed that he and Tom Brady would sit and watch Prescott play during that season and marveled at his performance.

Such neat revelations have become commonplace for Edelman who also told Cowherd that Bill Belichick had different rules for different players. This goes against the accepted theory that Belichick coached all his players the same.

When asked about good and bad locker rooms, Edelman revealed that the 2009 Patriots had some “a-holes” on the team, “guys who had a lot of money and acted like they had a lot of money.”

He also regaled Cowherd with a funny story about former teammate and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi. During his rookie season, Edelman made repeated contact with Bruschi during a team drill. After the play, Bruschi got in Edelman’s face and said, “If you ever touch me again, I’ll cut your arm off, Rook!”

In a subsequent discussion, Edelman was asked about how NFL players view Thursday night games. He said that the goal for players is to just get through the game and try to get the win. He called having a Thursday night game a “baby bye week” because of the extra prep time gained for the next week. Baby bye week – new lingo from a new age analyst.

Speaking of language, Julian Edelman may have created another new football term. He called the NFL games after Thanksgiving “cream season,” when the cream rises to the top and when football season truly starts. Edelman told Cowherd that this is when coaches raise the intensity in the building.

A week later, Edelman was a panelist on FOX’s NFL Kickoff. It was clear that the show’s producers and host Charissa Thompson were tuned into Edelman’s Herd appearance as they made his cream season line a theme of discussion.

Edelman picked the Ravens and Niners as his current cream teams and entertained Thompson and his fellow panelists with a few dairy-related puns. He was funny, saying that both these teams could end up becoming butter teams – even better than cream.

Edelman is unafraid to ruffle feathers, even if those feathers reside in Foxboro, MA. In discussing last week’s Patriots-Giants game, he boldly tweeted and stated on NFL Kickoff that the Patriots would be better off losing that game in order to get a better 2024 draft position.

If Julian Edelman has any flaws, it is that at times his analysis RPMs run into the red. In his discussion of last week’s crucial Jaguars-Texans game, he was visibly pumped up and spoke far too quickly even stumbling on some commentary. He recovered well and simply needs to slow down, trust his knowledge, and calculate his pace.

Edelman has made such an immediate impact that NFL Kickoff has even given him his own segment. It is called “The Nest” and his based on his children’s book Flying High, the story of Jules, a football-playing squirrel who is small in stature but big on heart and enthusiasm. Sound familiar?

Julian Edelman was joined in the nest by panelists Charles Woodson and Peter Schrager and provided a pretty cool analysis of current NFL wide receivers. He based his opinions on four attributes: sociability, aggressiveness, activity level, and boldness. Along the way, Edelman provide some unique commentary on the likes of Davante Adams, Travis Kelce, A.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs.

There is a rhythm to Edelman’s conversation. He is comfortable with his career, comfortable with himself, and comfortable on air.  As a player, Julian Edelman was an unexpected star, a guy who parlayed personality, hard work, and hustle into a fantastic career. He is doing the same in media dishing out knowledge his way – brash, all-out, and with total abandon.

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Mike Breen is Ready For Whatever The NBA Season Brings

“I’ve had an amazing set of teammates my entire life.”

Derek Futterman



Mike Breen
Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

Every time a new basketball season is on the precipice, there is a certain kind of enigma that permeates the landscape. Although he has been on basketball broadcasts for nearly three decades, Mike Breen still feels added nerves before donning the headset to call the NBA Finals. Last season, ESPN’s lead play-by-play voice called the 100th NBA Finals game of his broadcast career. In doing so, Breen became just the third basketball announcer on radio or television to attain such a feat.

When he first joined the broadcasts on ABC in 2006, Breen was stepping into the play-by-play role previously held by Al Michaels, working alongside color commentator Hubie Brown. He never could have imagined that the conclusion of the 2023-24 season would mark his 19th time calling the best-of-seven championship series and attributes his success to the people around him.

“There’s not a stage anywhere in the world big enough to hold that many people because that’s how many people have really been there for me and supported me and guided me and at times chastised me because you need people to always tell you the truth,” Breen said. “I’ve had an amazing set of teammates my entire life.”

For the last 18 NBA Finals broadcasts, Breen has worked alongside color commentator Jeff Van Gundy, a former head coach of the New York Knicks. Mark Jackson served as a color commentator as well for 15 of these series, taking a three-year detour to work as head coach of the Golden State Warriors. The broadcast trio was widely regarded as one of the best in basketball and frequently lauded for the strong chemistry they possessed on the air. Over the offseason though, Van Gundy and Jackson were laid off by ESPN as a part of cost-cutting measures by The Walt Disney Company. The decision disappointed Breen because of the bond he and his colleagues fostered and shared.

“We spent so much time together and we felt we had something special, and we were hoping that it was going to last longer, but nothing in this business lasts forever and that’s part of the business, and you have to figure that out and you move on,” Breen said. “Now the way I look at it is I’m just so grateful and honored that I had all that time sitting next to those two for so many big games over the years, but it’s hard when it ends.”

Breen is currently working with Doris Burke and Doc Rivers on ESPN’s lead NBA broadcast team. Broadcasting the NBA Finals, let alone sporting events as a whole, was never in his mind though; that is, until he was told by family friend and former New York Tech radio staffer Tony Minecola to consider going into the industry as a sportscaster.

Recognizing that he would not succeed as a professional athlete because of a lack of skill or as a doctor because of a lack of passion, Breen chose to major in broadcast journalism at Fordham University, immediately joining the campus radio station. Over his four years matriculating at the institution, he prioritized versatility and contributed to sports, news, talk and music programming.

“When you leave college and you have tape résumés and experience of being on the air on a live 50,000-watt station, it really gives you a great perspective of what it’s like to be in the business,” Breen said. “It’s kind of a great way to figure out, ‘Okay, is this something you like? Is this something you have a chance to be good at?’”

Ed Ingles, the former sports director of WCBS 880, helped instantiate that mindset for Breen when he interned with him during his days in college. Aside from his delivery, Breen took notice of how he interacted with his colleagues and other people in the industry, always demonstrating professionalism and kindness. Ingles advised Breen to get out of his comfort zone, which proved to be invaluable when Breen started his first job out of school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. at WEOK-AM/WPDH-FM.

In his first year with the outlet, he would frequently attend school board meetings and county legislative sessions in order to collect 45 seconds of sound for the morning anchor to use on their program. Whereas at a sporting event, the game is oftentimes the primary story, Breen had to review the agenda and listen to the meeting to have an understanding of what is essential to the story.

“If you can cover a school board meeting that you know nothing about and do a good job on it, then you can certainly cover an NBA basketball game and figure out the storylines and the narratives and all those types of things,” Breen said. “It really made me a better sportscaster. I wasn’t just a sportscaster; I was a broadcaster.”

Breen eventually began calling Dutchess County High School basketball games and serving as an analyst on Marist College basketball broadcasts, all while working as the morning news anchor for the radio outlet. In balancing various different roles at once, Breen found himself on the air for six days a week for an entire year. The strenuous workload allowed him to enhance his skillset and ingenuity and have the confidence that he could make a career in the profession.

Through a connection he had with a classmate at Fordham University, Breen landed a part-time producing job on Jack Spector’s sports talk program, SportsNight, on WNBC. The commitment was initially for one day per week, but as Breen’s workload at the outlet increased, he was able to leave Poughkeepsie and focus on working in New York City. There was a dearth of sports talk programming at the time; that is until the summer of 1987 when WFAN launched on 1050 AM and introduced a new format to the medium.

“We were all sitting around the radio at WNBC thinking, ‘Okay, here comes our competition on the air,’” Breen remembered. “We were laughing, saying, ‘Oh, this is never going to make it. There’s no way this is going to make it,’ and it turns out that it was just the start of something that would completely change the radio industry.”

Ironically enough, WFAN moved to WNBC’s 660 AM frequency when General Electric sold several of its stations to Emmis Communications as part of a multi-station deal. Even though the station had transitioned to a new format, Don Imus kept his morning show on the airwaves, which Breen had been a part of starting a year earlier. His segments were filled with sound effects and jokes, giving him exposure within the marketplace and allowing him to penetrate beyond his comfort zone of traditional sports broadcasting and reporting.

“It wasn’t just your normal sports update,” Breen said. “It was something where you had to use your personality; you had to use your sense of humor [and] you had to use your writing skills, and it showed a little versatility and that was important.”

MSG Networks hired Breen in 1992 as the New York Knicks radio play-by-play announcer, and he assimilated into the role while keeping his spot on Imus in the Morning. In addition to adjusting to the pace of the NBA, he also refined his approach to calling games on the radio as opposed to television. Throughout this process, Breen thought about Marist play-by-play announcer Dean Darling and how he had called the games when they worked together.

“There are very few people – and there certainly are exceptions – but there are very few people who are instantly really good on the air,” Breen said. “It takes a while to hone your skills to figure out how you want to broadcast things if you have a certain style, and that’s the No. 1 thing is to get repetitions.”

When Marv Albert pleaded guilty to assault and battery in 1997, Breen was suddenly promoted to fill the role as the television play-by-play announcer for the team. Having listened to Albert call games for many years growing up, Breen knew the importance of appealing to the local audience in the New York metropolitan area. Many of the local play-by-play announcers in the locale grew up around the city, and he affirms that the knowledge and passion is discernible to consumers. Breen met New York Yankees television play-by-play announcer and ESPN New York radio host Michael Kay, who was a fellow student at Fordham University at the time, and discussed sports and broadcasting with him.

“He would tell me, ‘Oh, I’d love to be the Yankees announcer,’ and I’d say, ‘I’d love to be the Knicks announcer,’ and we would laugh at each other [like] two fools,” Breen said. “But I think because we were both New Yorkers and we both understood the New York fan because we were and still are New York fans, I think perhaps it gave us an edge because we knew what it’s like to live in New York and root for the teams in New York, and I think, or at least I hope, the fans can feel that.”

Albert returned to the Knicks telecast in 2000, prompting Breen to move back to radio broadcasts and work with John Andariese. At the same time, he began doing work for NBC Sports, including calling NBA games with Bill Walton and announcing ski jumping at the Olympic Games. When Albert was removed from the television broadcasts for being too critical of the team, Breen returned to the position and has held the role ever since.

“I tend to be old-school in that my job is to accurately describe what’s going on and also set up my partners and give them space and the lead-ins to make them excel,” Breen said. “The personality stuff, I think that comes – I hate to use the cliché – but it comes organically in terms of you’re doing the game. If something calls for you to react that involves more personality than actually broadcasting, then you do it and you have to find that balance.”

Every time Breen takes the air, he hopes that the consumers are able to see that he is prepared, enamored with the sport and enjoys working alongside his colleagues. From his days on the Knicks’ radio broadcasts, Breen has been paired with Walt “Clyde” Frazier for 25 seasons and understands how venerated the two-time NBA champion is within the city.

As the only member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and a broadcaster, Frazier strikes a chord with basketball fans and brings his credibility and proficiency to the airwaves every season. In addition, he always arrives in his signature flamboyant outfits and intersperses astute rhymes to the cadence on the hardwood.

“He’s managed to stay true to who he is, yet develop this unique on-air style that very few people have had, but the bottom line is yeah, there’s style, but there’s so much substance to what he says,” Breen explained,” and I think Knick fans love him because he tells it like it is, but at the same time, you can feel his love for the franchise.”

Since joining the NBA on ESPN broadcast team in 2003, Breen has balanced his local responsibilities with calling games at the national level. Throughout the season, he logs a considerable number of traveling miles and always puts his family first when he is not working. In fact, the reason he stopped calling other sports was not only to recharge over the summer, but also to spend time with his children.

By being absorbed in the NBA during the year, the preparation for the different types of broadcasts often overlaps. One thing he cannot prepare for, however, is the occurrence of a buzzer-beater or game-saving block.

“For me, I’ve always felt at a big moment, less is more for a broadcaster because your voice is not made [for] those high-intensity calls to go for 20 seconds,” Breen said. “Your voice can crack; who knows what else could happen, but when you make a good, strong concise call at a big moment and then let the crowd take over, I think that’s always been, for me, the best way to go.”

Although he derived his signature three-point call of “Bang!” while sitting in the stands at Fordham Rams games as a student, he did not think it worked on the air. But by the time he was calling a weekly high school basketball game for SportsChannel America, he noticed that the maelstrom of amplified sound within the gyms drowned out his voice during consequential moments. As a result, he resorted back to the monosyllabic exclamation and has stuck with it ever since.

“I’ve just been very careful about not overusing it,” Breen said. “I try to save it for big moments because if I was yelling, ‘Bang!,’ on every three-pointer, it would lose its luster, I believe.”

Breen will call NBA games from a new venue next week in Las Vegas, Nevada – T-Mobile Arena – when the league’s inaugural In-Season Tournament reaches its conclusion and a champion is crowned. The Association introduced the single-elimination endeavor this year in an effort to further incentivize regular-season play and establish a new tradition.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that these In-Season Tournament games bring out a little extra in the players [and] in the fans, and we’re not even at the knockout round yet and this is only the first year,” Breen said. “….To have this kind of excitement in November and then early December, it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Despite the NBA still being in its first half of the season, Breen feels encouraged by the broadcasts he has participated in thus far with Doris Burke and Doc Rivers. After all, he had worked with Burke on the first NBA game she ever broadcast and could tell how talented she was. Moreover, he has been friends with Rivers for over 30 years and speculated that he would be a broadcaster when he was finished playing and coaching.

The network’s lead broadcasting team will embark on a new challenge ahead of their first NBA Playoffs working together next Saturday, Dec. 9 when they broadcast the championship game of the NBA In-Season Tournament on ABC at 8:30 p.m. EST/5:30 p.m. PST.

“It takes a while to get the on-air chemistry, and the three-person booth is not easy for the analyst because they have to figure out a way to still get all their points across with less time, and same thing for me and that’s part of it,” Breen said. “Everybody has to just find their niche, and so far they’ve been great. They’re not only great friends; they’re really talented broadcasters, and I’m really excited about the potential.”

Breen recently signed a four-year contract extension with ESPN that will keep him on the airwaves past the expiration of the network’s current media rights deal with the National Basketball Association. The rationale behind staying with the network had to do with the people at the company, avouching that it is a great place to work and how he is thrilled he will be allowed to stay longer.

“Clearly I’m hoping that they work out a deal and I’m fairly confident they will,” Breen said. “ESPN loves the NBA; the relationship between the league and ESPN has always been wonderful. So I’m rooting hard for them to say ‘Yes’ and sign on the dotted line.”

In 2021, Breen was honored as the recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Electronic Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his excellence as a broadcaster, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a basketball announcer. Even with various accolades to his name though, Breen’s mission each year is to get better with every broadcast. Complacency and apathy are out of bounds as he lives out a lifelong dream and strives for an outstanding performance no matter the situation.

“You have days where you’re not feeling well; you’ve had a tough travel day; you’ve got issues going on in your life, but then you sit down at half court and they throw the ball up the opening tip,” Breen illustrated. “There’s an adrenaline there that has never gone away.”

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BSM Writers

How Radio Sellers Can Beat the ‘What’s In It For Me’ Question

We often get caught up in showcasing the bells and whistles of our stations—the audience reach, the sophisticated technology, and the awards we’ve earned — that we don’t answer essential questions.

Jeff Caves



A photo of a sales meeting

It’s easy to fall into the trap of talking about technical features and company achievements with radio advertising prospects without considering the essential question: “What’s in it for me?” (WIFM) from the client’s perspective.

We often get caught up in showcasing the bells and whistles of our stations—the audience reach, the sophisticated technology, and the awards we’ve earned.

However, the heartbeat of successful sales isn’t just about these features, it’s about translating them into tangible benefits that directly address the needs and challenges of our potential clients. Here are some common pitfalls in our sales approaches and strategies to get prospects to listen to “WIFM”.

Focusing Solely on Product Features

We all sometimes get caught up in detailing our radio stations’ technical specs and features without translating those features into tangible benefits for the prospect. We love to point out that our all-sports station is on AM and simulcast on digital FM.

We need to connect them directly to the prospect’s needs or problems, which might result in a disconnect.

Instead, we could say that we reach two audiences for the price of one. 45-65-year-olds are on AM, and 25-44-year-olds are on FM. More bang for your buck! 

Talking About Company Achievements

While our station won the “Best radio station in XYZ town” award from the local media, which might be impressive, prospects are often more concerned about how these accolades directly benefit them.

We need to bridge the gap between our survey win and how our listeners are proud of listening to the station and will trust the recommendations we give our listeners when it comes to buying from our prospect.

Generic Pitches

Not tailoring the pitch to suit the prospect’s specific needs or pain points is a huge miss. When we use generic, one-size-fits-all approaches, we miss the opportunity to highlight how their product or service addresses the prospect’s unique challenges or goals.

Don’t tell a car dealer he needs to sell more new cars when he wants more used sales and service business.

Failure to Listen Actively

Sometimes, we focus too much on delivering our deck without actively listening to the prospect’s concerns or desires.

Pay attention to the prospect’s feedback or cues, and maybe even ask them if anything has changed before you start the presentation.

Forget About “Across the Street”

Constantly highlighting how your station is superior to competitors without explaining how it benefits the prospect is counterproductive.

For example, if your station does a limited number of endorsements, tell the prospect they will stand out amongst the other advertisers better cause they are part of a select few live endorsements.

Prospects want to know why your idea is right for them, not just that it’s better than your competition.

What’s the ROI?

A sales pitch that doesn’t explicitly outline the return on investment (ROI) or demonstrate the value the prospect stands to gain falls short.

Running spots can outrun ‘turtle-like’ positive word of mouth or Google reviews, like the Roadrunner. Tell them that.

Too Much TSL or CPM talk

Using industry jargon without explaining its relevance to the prospect’s situation can create confusion or disinterest. Don’t pitch TSL. Tell them they can run fewer spots that have more impact. Your efficient CPM demonstrates that radio can compete with any ad medium and won’t waste money.

Communicate in a language that resonates with the prospect, making the benefits clear and understandable.

No Hit and Run

Our engagement doesn’t end with the initial pitch. Don’t forget to follow up and give them ongoing support and assistance to address any concerns or questions post-sale. By showing them you are in it for them, they will feel valued.

In the sports radio ad sales game, it’s not just about announcing your stats and shoutouts; it’s about hitting a home run with benefits that score with our clients. If our pitch doesn’t answer “What’s in it for me?” (WIFM), we might end up with the L.

So, dive into our clients’ playbook, check their needs, and deliver a play that makes them cheer for you and your station. Tackle the “WIFM” challenge head-on, and don’t worry about targeting so much.

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