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Pat Hughes Knows the Feeling of Game 7

“I was very pleased the year before to be inducted into the Cubs Hall of Fame – that was a great thrill – but the capper was Cooperstown.”

Derek Futterman



Pat Hughes
Courtesy: Jon Greenberg, The Athletic

On a cold November night in Cleveland, a packed house of 38,104 spectators looked on as the grounds crew rushed to pull the tarp over the diamond at Progressive Field. While the rain delay turned out to be just 17 minutes, it came at a pivotal moment in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. Cleveland had not won the World Series in 84 years, while the Chicago Cubs had a longer streak at 108 years. Chicago Cubs radio play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes felt the same tension and excitement as the fans, but in being tasked with delivering the action to listeners, he could not stay silent.

If he decided to forgo his announcing responsibilities, the consumers would not know what was happening. As an innumerable number of listeners tuned in, he set the scene as the game approached extra innings. Once the Cubs took the lead in the top half of the 10th frame, the feasibility of a world championship became more palpable, and Hughes reminded himself to remain calm and keep his intonation and diction under control.

With the tying run on first base, Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery delivered an 0-1 breaking ball that was chopped on the ground to third baseman Kris Bryant. As he scooped the roller and fired the ball to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to make the final out, Cubs fans and the city of Chicago breezed into a euphoric state. Once Hughes saw the umpire signal an out, he extemporaneously dispatched a message of a century and change in the making – the Cubs, being declared World Series champions.

“The Cubs come pouring out of the dugout, jumping up and down like a bunch of delirious 10-year-olds,” Hughes exclaimed. “The Cubs have done it!”

Hughes had been with the Cubs for two decades and waiting for that moment, something many of his predecessors in the role had never been afforded a chance to see. At the same time, he had to be cognizant to keep his call within a short window because of something he discovered the morning of the game.

While working out at a local gym, Hughes received a text message from Audacy executive and Chicago Cubs radio executive producer Mitch Rosen to immediately call him to discuss an urgent matter. Once they connected, Rosen informed Hughes that State Farm Insurance had made the network a lucrative offer to interpolate an advertising spot within 30 seconds of the final out.

“Mitch said, ‘Pat, are you okay with that?,’” Hughes recalled. “I said, ‘Well, do you have a choice? I know you want the sponsorship dollars, so yeah, I can do that.’ So whatever I said, I had to be done and leave about two to three seconds of dead air before I read the commercial.”

As Hughes drives to the ballpark through the neighborhoods surrounding “Wrigleyville,” he frequently observes construction workers on the side of the road. Equipped with jackhammers ramming into concrete and battling the ornery, pugnacious trajectory of dust and particles, they engage in strenuous physical labor to earn their keep. Hughes knows that play-by-play announcing is not easy and has its own challenges, but still considers himself extremely fortunate and is humbled by his position.

“Being a baseball announcer for a great American franchise like the Chicago Cubs – are you kidding me?,” Hughes said. “I get up for every single game.”

Hughes immersed himself in the idiosyncrasies of the English language as the son of two educators, both of whom stressed the importance of literacy through reading. Today, reading is an essential part of his game preparation, extrapolating storylines, correlations and new ways to compose phraseology within the broadcast. He does this each morning for no less than one hour, sipping coffee as he completes this part of his homework assignment.

Akin to many broadcasters, Hughes originally desired to be a professional athlete. One year of occupying the bench on the San Jose State University basketball team confirmed to him that he was not skilled enough. Play-by-play announcing, he perceived, was the next best thing, compelling him to join the student-run radio station – KSJS – to try and attain opportunities. Luckily for Hughes, his older brother was working as its sports director and helped immerse him in football broadcasts as a sideline reporter.

“I was aggressive and I probably was not very good,” Hughes remembered. “I certainly wasn’t as good as I thought it was, but that was my start.”

Throughout his college years, Hughes actively sought chances to hone his craft and called football, baseball, and basketball games. On the side, he would file sports reports, host interview shows, and harshly critique himself after reviewing recordings of his work. By the time he graduated, Hughes estimates he called nearly 200 play-by-play events, and his hard work earned him a fortuitous break before he accepted his diploma.

The San Jose Missions, former Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, fired their play-by-play announcer after the first month of the 1978 season, which would turn out to be their last in the locale. Needing to expediently bring someone new on board, the team publicized the job search, and Hughes made sure to apply.

Even though he was a senior in college, his skillset and acumen ended up being sufficient enough for him to land the job. As he was earning his final credits, Hughes suddenly found himself one step away from making it to the major leagues and knew just how lucky he had been. Yet he positioned himself to be in line for these types of situations and maximized the opportunity by compiling calls for a new demo reel.

The portfolio of work, conspicuous attention to detail, and passion imbued therein landed him a role with a local sports channel where he called a wide range of different offerings. For three to four nights every week, Hughes would bring viewers action from a plethora of different events, including gymnastics, bowling, and sumo wrestling.

While he was with the station, Hughes had met John Petri, an employee who left shortly thereafter to work on a new media venture in Columbus, Ohio. Warner-Amex QUBE, an interactive and immersive television viewing experience, revolutionized the industry and granted people the ability to communicate with their entertainment systems. With up to 30 channels, including pay-per-view events and other services, the project introduced technology that advanced future developments in television.

Looking for a sports commentator, the outlet hired Hughes, who called high school and collegiate football and basketball games each week. The station also covered approximately 10 baseball games for the Columbus Clippers, the then-Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, granting him additional repetitions in that setting.

“I put together an audition tape from that work,” Hughes said, “and that led directly to me going to the big leagues in 1983 with the Minnesota Twins.”

In being hired by the Twins at the age of 27, Hughes was one of the youngest play-by-play announcers in all of the major leagues. Working alongside Dick Bremer, who still serves as the voice of the Twins today, the duo called games on Spectrum Sports and KMSP-TV in what turned out to be a disappointing 92-loss season for the team.

While the Twins went on to win the World Series four years later in a seven-game battle against the St. Louis Cardinals, Hughes had already departed Minneapolis, Minn. to take a radio job with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Deviating from the common path many broadcasters take to try to succeed in television, Hughes knew that his broadcasting style and the way he communicated with the audience was most conducive for the aural medium. In reviewing the sports media landscape at the time, he felt that radio jobs were more stable, leading him to ink a two-year contract with the Brewers that paid him better money.

Inspired by the voices of his childhood including Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons, and Bill King, along with other voices of the game such as Ernie Harwell and Harry Caray, he sought to forge a strong affinity with his audience. He saw the power of the medium firsthand in working alongside Bob Uecker, who has his name in the rafters at American Family Field and continues to call games for “The Crew.”

“I think radio sells the game of baseball better because you are there every day and you become part of the family,” Hughes said. “I’m not bragging or anything, but people invite me to graduations and bar mitzvahs, and they invite me to birthdays and special events in their family. I don’t know if TV guys get invited too, but I sure do, and it’s because of that intimate feeling that they have with the radio guys.”

Hughes expounds on his thinking by outlining a typical ninth-inning scenario – the bases loaded with one out. As the hitter grinds through a consequential at-bat, fouling off pitches to stay alive, a television announcer, he affirms, says, “Another foul.”

Conversely, radio announcers are filling a blank canvas with the soundscape of the crowd in the perimeter, splattering the mural with parlance evoking both timbre and ambience. In describing an invigorating and unnerving scene, Hughes is able to capture the scope of the occurrence and subsequently let it guide him to the finish line.

“‘Here’s the windup, and another foul. It remains 2-2. The drama continues to build; the fans turning inside-out in their seats,’ or whatever it is you say,” Hughes said as he narrated a hypothetical call. “But you’ve got a steady – like a companionship dialogue going with your listening audience that the television guys do not.”

Shortly after the ratification of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which deregulated facets of the business that allowed entities to compete against one another, Hughes prepared to broadcast his first game on WGN Radio with the Chicago Cubs. The city has been delineated as the No. 3 market in the United States since Nielsen began tracking designated market areas (DMAs) and garners almost 3% of the total American marketplace share. Before his first game on the job, radio color commentator and Hall-of-Fame third baseman Ron Santo called Hughes to alleviate his angst and express confidence in the broadcast.

“He says, ‘I know you’re nervous. Don’t be –you’re going to be fine. You do your job; I’ll do the color. We’re going to laugh; we’re going to have fun [and] the audience is going to love it,’” Hughes remembers Santo telling him. “As he is saying that, I can actually feel the tension draining out of my body. It sounds corny, but it’s true. I hung up the phone and I was ready to go to work the next day on Cubs radio, and we clicked immediately.”

The contrasting lives of Hughes and Santo made for an informative and entertaining on-air product referred to as the “Pat and Ron Show” over the ensuing 15 years. The duo dominated in the ratings and presented broadcasts of games filled with undisputable chemistry and discussion about the team. At the same time, Hughes was working with another venerable analyst who made the broadcasts enjoyable and distinguished them from other programming.

Hughes had been the announcer for Marquette University basketball games since 1988, but he did not have Hall-of-Fame basketball coach Al McGuire joining him until the 1996 campaign. McGuire had served as head coach of Marquette for 13 years and led the team to an NCAA championship in his final year with the team. One day after having done a game from historic Freedom Hall in Louisville, Hughes told McGuire that they would get a cab to go to the airport and fly home. While they needed to catch flights back to Chicago and Milwaukee, respectively, McGuire had other plans in mind.

“He says, ‘Pat, we don’t need a cab. We’re going to hitchhike – somebody’s going to recognize me; they’ll pull over; they’ll give us a ride and we’ll save the cab cash,’” Hughes remembered McGuire explaining. “I said, ‘Okay Al, but I’ve got to say I’ve never hitchhiked.’ He says, ‘Well listen, it’s real complicated. You stick out your thumb and start shaking.’”

On a cold winter day in Louisville, Hughes and McGuire hitchhiked on the side of the road, and just as McGuire had hypothesized, he was quickly recognized by a driver. Agreeing to take them to the airport, McGuire regaled the driver and his passengers with stories about coaching and basketball in general for the entirety of the journey.

By the time they reached the airport, Hughes was stunned at what had just happened, and he asked his partner if he would turn in what it would have cost to reach the airport on his expenses. “No Pat, I don’t cheat the small stuff – I’ve got enough big scams going,” McGuire replied. The duo called an estimated 50 ballgames together as part of a local television package, and Hughes does not remember having a single bad moment with him.

“He was so much fun, so knowledgeable, so crazy and so Irish,” Hughes said of McGuire. “I’m Irish myself, and we had many, many laughs and shared many beers and had so much fun.”

Today, Hughes works on the Cubs broadcasts with color commentator Ron Coomer and host Zach Zaidman, both of whom he considers to be superb at their craft. For each broadcast, Hughes has the goal of being accurate, prepared and detailed in his descriptions. Additionally, he does not try to suggest to others how to do their job or take “cheap shots” at anyone involved. While he prefers the Cubs to always be winning and competitive, he seeks to be objective and knows everyone around him shares the same goal.

“We always laugh,” Hughes expressed. “I think that’s important because going back to when I was 10 years old, I think that was something I just enjoyed. Being at the ballpark, playing ball and laughing. Having fun – batting practice was fun; infield practice was fun; winning was fun, always. I played to win, but I enjoyed it.”

Baseball is a game filled with numbers that penetrate beyond the basic hitting and pitching statistics. The advent of sabermetrics and technological evolutions have refined methodologies to better project individual and team performance with a strong correlation coefficient. Broadcasts around the league reacted by adopting differentiating approaches as to how often these metrics are integrated into the call.

While Hughes understands many of the numbers, he knows that various members of the listening audience are casual fans who do not have time or interest to delve into the specifics of how they are calculated. As a result, it is difficult to contextualize and have an understanding of the science behind these data. Rather than inculcating these phenomena by prosody, he simplifies and renders qualitative figures naturally into the flow of a game.

“It makes me angry almost when I hear some of these announcers throw out these WAR statistics or OPS statistics,” Hughes conveyed. “I feel like saying, ‘What are you trying to do? Are you trying to show us how smart you are or are you trying to actually educate and entertain the audience, which is really what your job is, so which one are you doing?’”

For the first time in his broadcast career, Hughes called the games to the cadence of a pitch clock, part of rules adopted by Major League Baseball to hasten the pace of play and augment offensive output. These rules helped catalyze a 9.6% rise in attendance and 24-minute decline in game time year-over-year, a triumph for a sport balancing tradition and innovation while fighting irrelevancy. Hughes noticed that the game at a more swift pace, and around the league at large, ballparks were more full in the latter innings than in previous years.

The challenging part of the job comes through travel and being away from family for nearly 100 days per year, something he found especially strenuous as his kids were growing up. Constant bus rides, flights, and hotel stays can be taxing over the course of a 162-game season, but Hughes has always tried to keep it all in perspective and remember just how felicitous his situation is.

“Easy doesn’t even enter into the equation – it’s not supposed to – but I’ve learned how to handle it, I think, to the best of my ability, and I like the product that we turn out every day,” Hughes said. “We have fun; we try to get the proper information disseminated to the audience.”

While Hughes just completed his 40th season working in Major League Baseball, he has been a fan of the sport for as long as he can remember. The innate love of the game and appreciation for its past, present and future galvanizes him to continue working, and while other jobs have appealed to him in the past, he does not wish to go anywhere else in his career. Hughes has found a home at the corner of Addison and Clark and is genuinely fond of his profession.

“I have no interest in being a voice for any other team at this stage,” Hughes said. “I don’t think that’s even possible, so I have the job that I want.”

Over the past season, Hughes made road trips to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles; Citi Field in New York City; and Fenway Park in Boston in addition to several other venues to document Cubs baseball. He had one additional stop on his schedule this year when the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum informed him that he had been named the winner of the Ford C. Frick Award.

The prestigious honor is bestowed on a broadcaster who has made major contributions to the sport, and when Hughes found out he had won, he was in a state of disbelief. Within 30 seconds of the announcement, he saw a text message from Bob Costas, who had won the award himself back in 2018. Moreover, he received congratulations from his broadcast partners and industry executives, many of whom were in his living room with him as he learned of the news.

Hughes accepted the award in a ceremony during Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y., where he was joined by his broadcast partners, friends and family. Even after being in the booth for Game 7 of the World Series and punctuating a final call fans had waited over a century to hear, he still felt nerves in making the speech. Before arriving, he deliberated whether or not he wanted to memorize the address but decided against it to ensure he would be prepared and focused in the 15 minutes he was allocated.

“It was the best thing that can ever happen to a baseball announcer; there’s nothing even close,” Hughes said. “I was very pleased the year before to be inducted into the Cubs Hall of Fame – that was a great thrill – but the capper was Cooperstown.”

Even though his voice was already etched in posterity, Hughes can now officially say that he is a part of baseball immortality. Making it to Cooperstown, however, does not mean he has reached the conclusion of his career. Instead, he wants to stay engaged in the sport and hopefully return behind the microphone for another seventh game of the World Series.

“I’ve been the voice of the Cubs now for 28 years,” Hughes said, “and when a franchise that special puts you in charge, I still consider it an awesome responsibility day in and day out.”

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Brian Murphy is Preparing to Write His Next Chapter at KNBR After Layoffs Ended ‘Murph and Mac’

“I don’t want to say, ‘This too shall pass,’ or, ‘Time heals all wounds,’ but you’re only as good as your next ratings book.”

Derek Futterman



Brian Murphy
Courtesy: Brian Murphy on Instagram

After the morning show signed off at KNBR last Wednesday, co-host Brian Murphy was called into a meeting with Cumulus Media market manager Larry Blumhagen. Although there had been signs of potential changes, Murphy had partnered with Paul McCaffrey for nearly 18 years and survived all of the turmoil.

A simple look around the building represented proof of an alteration, evinced by reductions in the number of stations under its roof. A once powerful news station, KGO-AM, underwent a sudden format flip last year after nearly a century on the air. A few years earlier, alternative rock station KFOG was eliminated from the company’s portfolio as well. KNBR has weathered the storms, but not without alterations to the station’s programming department.

“I would say everything has shrunk,” Murphy expressed, “and that includes sending us on road trips or to Super Bowls, etc.”

Layoffs have reemphasized the importance of the quantitative bottom line, sometimes overshadowing the qualitative utility and widespread impact derived from talent and popular shows. It is partially why the deluge of palpable support after Murphy learned in a short meeting that McCaffrey was being laid off was surprising and reinvigorating. But first came an immediate, jarring feeling surrounding the decision.

“Truthfully numb,” Murphy said regarding his sentiment after learning what happened. “I guess it’s a cliché to say that people go into shock, but to know that Paulie and I wouldn’t be together was something that didn’t register. I mean, it registered, but it didn’t register until fully; the next 48 hours is when it really started to really hit.”

McCaffrey was one of seven laid off at KNBR that day. Morning show producer Erik Engle, former programmer Lee Hammer, host F.P. Santangelo and members of the outlet’s digital department lost their jobs as well. Even the long-running KNBR Tonight evening show, which aired for decades was canceled, and replaced with CBS Sports Radio programming. While Murphy always hoped that the morning show would continue in the iteration before the end of his contract, he is now facing a new reality without his longtime colleagues.

“I think what we were disappointed by was sort of an abrupt and premature end, particularly to our partnership, which I think we’ve learned from an incredible outpouring of social media is way more than we knew,” Murphy said. “We learned our partnership for whatever reason connected to a lot of people for a long time. It’s funny they say radio is dying, but radio sure is personal and effective in many ways baked on what we’re hearing from our listeners.”

During the next two days, Murphy was off the air and contemplating his future. There were moments where he thought about leaving KNBR. However, he knew that he had a contract to fulfill and a family to support. Additionally, the person that he was set to work with on Monday and beyond – Markus Boucher – had contributed to the morning show for nearly four years, rendering familiarity and comfortability.

“There’s a chance that Markus and I could do this for a long time; we’ll see how it goes,” Murphy said. “Maybe things go great and that would be awesome, and I’m definitely leaving that door open. For whatever reason, we recover from the pain of losing my partner for almost two decades and the next chapter works out.”

In 2023, KNBR has experienced two subpar quarterly ratings books. The decrease in performance has affected all dayparts on the outlet. Murphy knows that when the San Francisco Giants do well, it generally leads to KNBR succeeding. The station did improve in its summer and fall books for 2023, but there already were repercussions being felt.

“I just know that that happened and it damaged people’s perception of the station, but I don’t think it was an accurate reflection of all of our listenership at all; I just don’t,” Murphy said. “I know for a fact that we still had a huge audience, and it’s evident by what happened after the news; just so many people reacted and people in the demo too.”

Even though he knows it does not directly relate to his role as an on-air host, Murphy believes that the local advertising market was damaged because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the city. San Francisco was one of several major metroplexes that instituted strict health and safety protocols in an effort to slow the spread of the disease, which had an effect on sports talk radio consumption. With more people working remotely and fewer people commuting to the office, the transition to digital content and audio on-demand offerings has hastened in order to realize previous levels of engagement and keep the format alive.

“KNBR is going to have to weather this storm,” Murphy said, “and there’s this feeling of, I don’t want to say, ‘This too shall pass,’ or, ‘Time heals all wounds,’ but you’re only as good as your next ratings book.”

The station recently held an all-staff meeting to discuss its direction, which has been somewhat complicated by three program directors at the outlet over the last five years. Following the departures of Jeremiah Crowe and Kevin Graham, Adam Copeland took over the responsibilities last month. The layoffs took place two weeks into his tenure, causing some people to question how involved he was in the decisions and whether or not he advocated for the morning show.

“I think these things come from beyond San Francisco,” Murphy said. “Our headquarters are in Atlanta, and I think something this big – like I said, it wasn’t just Paulie Mac; it was seven people. Paulie Mac is personal for me, but that to me says, ‘Well, that’s obviously a big budget decision that’s being made at a level far above the San Francisco program director.’”

Although Copeland has minimal previous experience as a program director, Murphy is confident that he will be able to effectively lead the station through his energy, youth and passion for the medium. Copeland grew up listening to KNBR and worked at the station over the last several years as a producer and host, eventually earning a spot in afternoons alongside Tom Tolbert. Copeland remains in that time slot, pulling double duty for the radio station. His relatability and familiarity with the craft is something that Murphy views as an advantage.

“I think people are pretty excited that we have somebody who cares as much as Adam Copeland does about KNBR,” Murphy said, “I think if there’s anything to be optimistic about in 2024 that despite this ending to 2023, it’s that we have a program director who’s all-in on the station.”

Thinking about what comes beyond the immediate future though is not within Murphy’s mindset. At the moment, he feels it is too soon to determine if there will be a potential Murph & Mac reunion on a digital platform. Instead, he is focused on being able to continue to serve San Francisco sports fans without his longtime on-air partner. Murphy realizes how fortunate he was to have someone like McCaffrey by his side and valued both his consistency and dependability on a daily basis.

“Every single segment he was the same energetic, relentless, hilarious partner who only wanted what was good for the show – not what was good for him; not what was good for me – he only wanted what was good for the show,” Murphy said, “and it was such a lesson for this newspaper guy to learn, for lack of a better word, showbusiness.”

When Murphy entered the studio Monday to host his first show without McCaffrey, everything felt surreal to him on the air. There was ostensible tension in the room and from listeners about how he would address the news, and share his feelings with the audience. The program ended with a monologue from Murphy regarding McCaffrey, something that he is grateful Boucher did not raise objection to and that he was able to make his statement on the air.

“The 49ers had just destroyed the Philadelphia Eagles, which actually was a huge positive break for us because it allowed everything to happen Monday with the backdrop of great positivity because that was a huge game for the Niners and people were pretty jacked up about that game,” Murphy said. “So I opened the show by saying, ‘I know it’s corny, but that one was for Paulie.’”

The shock and surprise from McCaffrey being laid off is hardly evanescent, but Murphy is now thinking about how to optimize the morning program with Boucher. Predicting what may come next is an arduous task. Murphy considers himself fortunate to have had nearly 18 years hosting with McCaffrey, and he is now thinking about the next chapter of his time at KNBR while having reference for the enduring legacy of Murph & Mac.

“For whatever reason, I’ve never lost my absolute joy and passion for the sports world – sports content; sports stories; sports history; sports media – everything about it,” Murphy said. “And so every morning when my alarm goes off and my feet hit the floor, I’m like, ‘Let’s go! I’m stealing money. This isn’t work.’”

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How Big Noon Kickoff Turned Into a Legitimate College GameDay Challenger

Big Noon Kickoff is like a college football tailgate on TV. Panelists good-naturedly rip each other, toss the football around on a makeshift field, and talk smack whenever possible.

John Molori



A photo of the Big Noon Kickoff crew
(Photo: FOX Sports)

The best college football pregame show on television emanates every Saturday from a different college campus. It features close-up shots of a boisterous crowd flashing banners and signs and is hosted by an excellent mix of TV pros, former players, and coaches, but it’s not the show you might think. To use college football vernacular, ESPN’s College GameDay is the Granddaddy of them all in collegiate gridiron pregame fare, but FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff is College GameDay on amphetamines.

It has taken the genre to new heights of volume, vigor, and vivacity. The camera shots are more intense, smoke and flashing lights are the order of the day, and the panelists are vociferous, rowdy, and sky-high-pumped.

Veteran host and reporter Rob Stone is the ringleader of this pigskin circus. Brady Quinn, Mark Ingram II, Matt Leinart, and Urban Meyer fill out a crowded anchor desk. In Week 13 of the college football season, both Big Noon Kickoff and College GameDay were live at the University of Michigan in anticipation of the gargantuan matchup between the Buckeyes of Ohio State and the Wolverines.

FOX’s coverage was on point. Unlike on ESPN, where the mad throng of students and fans are set off a bit by the talents, the crowd on Big Noon Kickoff was right on top of the FOX panelists, and they certainly let Meyer, the former Buckeye head coach, know how they felt about him. He was booed roundly and consistently. Every time he spoke, the jeers would rise to new decibels. It was fun to watch.

On the flip side, Big Noon Kickoff analyst and ex-Wolverine Charles Woodson was greeted by a thunderous ovation. Woodson actually got up close with the crowd and high-fived the fans.

On ESPN, only Pat McAfee elicits such closeness and raucousness from the faithful in attendance. In fact, in my opinion, the emergence of Big Noon Kickoff as real competition is the reason why McAfee was added to the College GameDay roster.

This edition of Big Noon Kickoff featured an electrifying feature story on the fabled Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. Also helping the broadcast is the presence of that eminent reporter Tom Rinaldi.

Rinaldi, a former ESPN’er, talked about Ohio State’s preparation for the big game and revealed that Buckeye players were inspired by constantly viewing social media posts proclaiming Michigan’s dominance.

Reporter Jenny Taft chimed in as well, providing important Michigan injury updates. I really like the diversity of the Big Noon Kickoff team. You have a solid host in Stone, a coach’s perspective from Meyer, offensive insight from Leinart, Ingram II, and Quinn, and a defensive standpoint from Woodson.

Leinart stood out from the pack making the point that the game was about more than just a rivalry. It was really about winning a Big 10 title and gaining positioning for the college football playoff and a shot at a National Championship.

Ingram II added that the most physical team would win the game, while Quinn, a Columbus, Ohio native, gave some insight on what this game means to both states and fan bases. It’s a challenge to pass around the airtime when you have six bodies at the desk, but Stone does a good job of laying back in the weeds and letting the analysts analyze.

Perhaps the brightest light on Big Noon Kickoff is the presence of Chris “The Bear” Fallica. Plucked from ESPN, Fallica has been a tremendous addition. He brings serious college football chops and really puts things in perspective.

I always felt that this guy was underutilized on College GameDay. The dude does more than just pick game results. In this episode, he provided a lucid explanation of how 2023 is a watershed year for college football with realignment coming. In addition, he wrote an excellent script for the Leinart feature on the demise of the Pac-12 conference.

Big Noon Kickoff moves at a furious and frenzied pace, and viewers are enthralled to be along for the ride. I actually found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what feature or analysis would come next.

Coming back from a break, the show does not cut right back to the panelists. Cameras pan the crowd and audio goes up so viewers can hear the crowd cheer and sing team songs. This style really brings home the atmosphere of a major college football game.

While the show is mostly about the game being played at the broadcast site, Big Noon Kickoff offers a deep dive into highlights, previews, and analysis of games around the country.

One of the best parts of Big Noon Kickoff is the contribution of FOX’s Joel Klatt a model of excellence and versatility. Klatt excels in numerous venues: live game coverage, interviews, studio shows, guest shots on other programs, and more. His knowledge is unmatched and he always asks the right questions.

This was evident on the December 6 edition of The Joel Klatt Show: Big Noon Conversations where Klatt presented a terrific one-on-one interview with Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark. Klatt is always prepared and even-tempered. He listens to his subject and offers pinpoint follow-up questions.

Big Noon Kickoff is like a college football tailgate on TV. Panelists good-naturedly rip each other, toss the football around on a makeshift field, and talk smack whenever possible – pretty much everything short of beer pong.

Stone further added to the fury by encouraging Meyer to flash his Ohio State National Championship ring to the Michigan crowd. And Meyer did it, risking a damn near riot.

Having two former quarterbacks on set is a plus, especially when it comes to analyzing the game’s most important position. You can make the point that both Quinn and Leinart fizzled out in the NFL, but you cannot deny their fine college quarterbacking pedigree. They offered real talk on QB’s Kyle McCord and J.J. McCarthy.

Fallica once again showed his singular insight and was absolutely prophetic stating that without quarterback Travis Jordan, Florida State would not be looked upon as a top 4 team even if they finished undefeated.

In true FOX style, there is never a lack of star power on Big Noon Kickoff. The panel welcomed none other than Michigan native and Wolverines fan Derek Jeter as a guest. Jeter revealed that he actually signed to play baseball at Michigan and took some classes there before joining the Yankees organization.

He also added some humor saying that all ballplayers want to get out of the minors as soon as possible, but he did even more so because he was playing for the Yankees Triple-A team in Columbus, home of the Buckeyes.

Amid all the fanfare, you know if Tom Rinaldi is around, there is going to be a heart-wrenching feature story. His piece on McCarthy and boyhood teammate Ryan Keeler was top-notch.

Keeler would go on to play at UNLV and was scheduled to play at Michigan against McCarthy this past September. Tragically, Keeler passed away from a heart condition in February 2023.

Big Noon Kickoff is always moving, literally. Later in this show, the anchor desk moved from outside the stadium to down on the field in the Big House. The different settings bring variety and an intimate feel to the production.

Former Wolverine and current Detroit Lion Aidan Hutchinson joined the panelists on the field for some commentary. Keep your eyes on Hutchinson. His NFL career has just begun, but this young man has a future and broadcasting. He was at ease, personable, and insightful.

As for the ratings on this November 25 day in Michigan, well as they say, it depends on whom you ask. FOX public relations tweeted that Big Noon Kickoff averaged 2.34 million viewers adding that it was “Saturday’s most-watched college football pregame show on any network.”

Meanwhile, ESPN PR tweeted that College GameDay averaged 2.4 million viewers and was “the top CFB pregame program of the week.” Beyond the numbers, it is the overall feel of the broadcast that sets Big Noon Kickoff apart.

Whether it is the dramatic shots during pre-produced interviews and feature stories, the rapid-fire edits and cuts to of the crowd and players, or the majestic overhead images of both teams taking a pregame knee in prayer, Big Noon Kickoff brings viewers to the campus, on the field, and into the action in a manner that is fast-paced, frenetic, and just plain fun. 

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BSM Writers

How Radio Sellers Can Be the Solution For Small Business Owners

In the face of these challenges, putting on a positive perspective can become a guiding light for SMBs.

Jeff Caves



Confidence, Sales

The landscape for small business owners is rife with challenges, often leading to a cloud of negativity about their future. Radio sellers can be a ray of light.

The September NFIB Small Business Optimism Index reveals that 57% of these entrepreneurs do not expect improved business conditions in the next six months.

Despite improvement in their outlook from last year, this pessimism is still at recession levels. The majority of small-to-medium businesses are concerned with Top of Form inflation and labor shortages. We must get on The Energy Bus and help turn these negatives into positives.

The survey conducted among small business owners laid down the reasons for their negs:

Economic Uncertainty: A significant percentage expressed concerns about the unpredictable economic landscape, making strategic planning and decision-making difficult.

Inflationary Pressures: The rising costs and inflationary trends have worried them about maintaining profit margins and sustaining operations.

Labor Shortages or Quality of Labor: Finding and retaining quality employees amidst the ongoing labor shortage has emerged as a considerable challenge, affecting business operations and growth prospects.

In the face of these challenges, putting on a positive perspective can become a guiding light for SMBs.

See the Concerns and Offer Support

Address Their Worries: Acknowledge their concerns about the uncertain economic climate, rising costs, and labor challenges. Don’t let them drag on and on about it. But make sure to show some empathy and understanding towards their situation. If appropriate, share experiences of other station clients’ challenges and how your solutions or products have helped them navigate similar situations. Watch their ears perk up when they realize they are not the only business having issues.

Be a Partner: Position yourself as a partner rather than just a salesperson. Offer insights and strategies you have heard or read about that can help them navigate through these challenges. Be well-read and a resource for change.

Present Solutions

Highlighting the Power of Radio Advertising: Showcase how your proposal can boost visibility, reach target audiences cost-effectively, and drive sales. Ensure you have a few different price point proposals that fit their budget. Don’t tell them to spend their way to success, especially on credit cards.

Success Stories: Share success stories of businesses similar to theirs that overcame challenges through effective radio marketing. Demonstrate how strategic advertising helped these businesses thrive despite economic uncertainties. This is your most powerful ally, and you must ask all the salespeople to share any success you can pass along.

Instilling Hope and Encouragement

Inspire Positive Vibes:  Share uplifting anecdotes and stories of resilience to inspire hope and instill optimism in small business owners. Emphasize that challenges are temporary and can be overcome with the right strategies and a positive mindset. Recall how you watched businesses go through the same thing 2007-09. Please read up on those stories and pass them along.

Continued Support and Engagement: Maintain regular communication and send them stories you find. Stay engaged and offer hope by consistently being there for them.

The concerns SMBs have are valid. There is no argument there. However, amidst this negativity, we can play a transformative role. Before you go down this road, make sure you find the things to believe about why this business will succeed.

Focus on those positives. You are the person who is on the street dealing with dozens of local SMBs just like them. You are the voice of reason. Your positivity and support can drive their renewed optimism, and you will forever be seen as part of the Solution, not the problem.

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