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Fred Toucher is Determined to Live to Tell His Story

“It was a necessity; I didn’t have any other options. I couldn’t lie [because] I was going to get found out.”

Derek Futterman



Fred Toucher
Courtesy: Beasley Media Group

Sustainability was never in the mind of Fred Toucher. When he arrived in Boston. in 2006 to start a new afternoon drive program with his former colleague Rich Shertenlieb, they never envisioned it rising to such monumental heights.

Seventeen years later, the morning show continues to attain double-digit listening shares in the city, but its path to sustained success has been anything but prototypical. Although the show currently airs on 98.5 The Sports Hub and duly focuses its conversation around sports, the origins of the program can be traced back to WBCN, a CBS-owned station that broadcast in the free-form rock format.

There was an ostensible stigma in the Boston metropolitan area about listening to WBCN, especially as people began to move out of adolescence and into full-fledged adulthood. During his three years with the station, Toucher remembers encountering several people in their 30s who divulged that their consumption of the programming was of yore because of their age. Incredulous upon learning of such perspectives, he reflects back on the realization and understands that had the platform the show stayed resolute, there is a strong chance the program would have ended.

“I did not think that I would be in Boston for a very long time because I just didn’t think that radio shows lasted that long, and especially at that time, everyone was getting fired and everyone else,” Toucher said. “I can tell you [that] our longevity [is from] moving to the sports format.”

The most recent ratings book is a testament to why executives Mark Hannon and Mike Thomas decided to retain the program despite the transformed genre in 2009. Once the process of reformatting to sports talk was complete – which included a stunting period filled with Boston sports highlights – Toucher conjectured that listeners would no longer need permission per se to consume the program. Even though Shertenlieb vehemently opposed the move to the sports format, Toucher recognized that it was a prime opportunity to broaden the listening audience.

Yet he was in the minority, even during a time when means of disseminating information were significantly attenuated by circumstances of emergent, novel technologies. With all of the negative publicity and lackluster reviews from listeners amid this transitional phase, Toucher and Shertenlieb remained poised to craft an informative and entertaining on-air product that upheld their collective identity and was pertinent for the outlet.

“We had to meet with Mike Thomas every day after the show and kind of formulate with him what the appropriate mix of sports and non-sports [was] and what was going to be our voice in terms of sports because we were never going to be a show that took a lot of calls or said, ‘These are take-driven shows,’ or things like that,” Toucher explained. “That’s not the way that we learned to do radio, and I don’t think I could do that successfully.”

Toucher is a creative luminary who became infatuated by radio from the time he was in middle school. In considering the reason for his preference, he surmised that the unscripted nature and freedom of expression the medium garnered would render it the most enjoyable. Despite being a history major at Rollins College – a liberal arts school – he made it a point to work at the college radio station and try to make a name for himself. Yet the station incorporated various community elements, and those on the staff did not take a liking to Toucher, nor did they encourage him to do anything.

“I realized that when I got out of college,” Toucher said. “I kind of panicked because I couldn’t get a job in radio and I had no idea of how to get a job in radio.”

In an effort to change his scenery, Toucher moved to Atlanta and landed a job at AM 1170, a local country music station where he was able to hone his craft. He hosted an afternoon program and was responsible for signing the station off every night at 7 p.m., doing whatever it took to gain viable experience. The content of these programs were centered on bluegrass, and he would even moderate transactions between listeners swapping their farm animals.

After a year-and-a-half, Toucher was hired by Leslie Fram and Sean Demery to work as a secretary at 99X, a station broadcasting in the alternative rock format. As he paired his receptionist work with fill-in hosting, he brought his unabashed audacity to openly convey his opinions and perspectives, even if they were critical or discerned as presumptuous.

As it stands, Toucher was accustomed to the “shock jock” brand of hosting predicated on candidness and occasional insolence. He blatantly mocked southerners and refused to play specific nu-metal music, stating how he disliked the music on the air. By the time he was promoted to the morning show to work with Jimmy Baron and the aforementioned Fram, he was completely unrestrained and pugnacious when the microphone was live. In fact, Toucher once famously spoiled the ending of a book in the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling.

“They never really committed,” Toucher said of the entity. “It was kind of a hybrid show [where] they never really committed to me, but I was way too out of control at that time; it was for my own good.”

Cumulus Media officially acquired the radio assets of the Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff Company in a transaction worth a reported $1.2 billion in early 2006, leading to widespread change at 99X. Toucher met with John Dickey, who was the co-founder and chief operating officer of Cumulus, and states that he was subject to impudent, rude behavior that ultimately led to the end of his time with the station.

“He was an asshole,” Toucher avowed. “He said, ‘Everyone hates you. We’re going to put you in a stocking at the mall and do some charity thing. You [have] all these stupid ideas,’ so I wanted to leave. I asked permission if I could leave, and they didn’t care so they bought me out of my contract.”

While he was in Atlanta, Toucher had befriended Shertenlieb and kept in touch once they went their separate ways. Two years later, they auditioned to land a show on CBS Radio and garnered a coveted afternoon drive slot on CBS Radio-owned WBCN. When the station stopped syndicating another national program in the second half of 2008, the duo moved to morning drive and have remained a fixture of the time slot ever since. Over the years, there has been occasional friction and tension between the two co-hosts, but no incident has ever genuinely affected them on the air, nor threatened the fiber of their relationship.

“There’s been times that we’ve butted heads, but nothing that’s made working uncomfortable,” Toucher said, “and nothing that’s made me ever question the future of the show or [if] we were going to continue being a show.”

The key to success in morning drive on an all-sports station in one of the country’s most historic and venerated marketplaces, the duo surmised, was to differentiate itself by bringing a comedic element to the conversation. Rather than solely discussing the events of the previous day and the upcoming schedule, the show spoke about more esoteric, niche topics related to the team and stories surrounding the game to assemble an inimitable program. The conversations with Thomas lasted for about a year-and-a-half before Toucher perceived that the program found and established its voice, something that was helped by the forthcoming stretch of dominance from the local teams.

“When the Bruins won in 2011, I think that helped us immensely because we had the Bruins and WEEI never talked about the Bruins, and we had adopted the Bruins,” Toucher said. “WEEI actively made fun of hockey fans, which in 2011, I think helped us a great deal.”

Two championships by the Boston Red Sox and three by the New England Patriots headlined the remainder of the decade, in addition to sustained winning seasons in the marketplace by nearly all of its local teams. Many sports fans were envious of the locale, but the teams were dominating regional and national sports coverage anyway.

During these times, many shows will welcome players or coaches as guests, but it is a practice that Toucher has tried to stay away from. As a zealous consumer of various sports radio stations, he feels that it is more valuable to have reporters or analysts on the program, affirming that they tend to be more cognizant of how to appeal to an audience and succinctly articulate information and opinion.

“I find 99% of athletes to be a tune-out [and] 99% of coaches to be a tune-out,” Toucher expressed. “Jerry Jones is great – I’m sure there are coaches that are really good, but not many; they’re pretty boring. [Bruce] Cassidy, the Bruins coach, was good, but we couldn’t get him on that often. We got him on twice a year; he was great when he was on.”

Toucher is lauded for his straightforward demeanor and genuine reactions to topics on the air, but in reality, that is the very premise of the show. Show producers Mike Lockhart, Dan O’Brien and Nick Gemelli work with Shertenlieb to research and develop content for the air, while Toucher arrives at the studio to react to what he is presented with throughout the program. His job is rooted in improvisation and remaining alert about local and national sports news, which he does periodically on a daily basis to ensure he is prepared to elicit informed responses.

“We have a loose outline of the show, but I think since we’ve been working together for so long, I don’t know what we’re going to do every quarter-hour,” Toucher said. “I know that Rich is going to have a bit generally, and I know if I want to talk about something that I can feel free to do that and he’ll go along with it, or if he wants to talk about something, I’ll go along with it.”

After each show, the hosts and producers meet to discuss how the program went and begin thinking about the next day. Working in as dynamic and capricious an industry as sports, they remain malleable as the show is occurring in order to provide the most pertinent content to the listening audience. The inherent immediacy of the medium keeps him compelled to continue hosting live programming, along with the desire to remain as the No. 1 program in the market.

One aspect of many sports radio programs that Toucher tends to stray away from, however, is taking live phone calls. The show takes very few calls from its listeners, instead opting to highlight those who participate in Paul Finebaum’s eponymous afternoon program on the SEC Network as part of a recurring bit.

“If you tune in to a Finebaum show, it’s like a whole world – he’s got his own universe,” Toucher said. “Callers are yelling at each other – they’re referencing things [that] I have no idea what they’re talking about; inner-show stuff – it’s its own living entity. It’s got its own thing happening.”

Toucher used to welcome callers onto his nighttime program on 99X in Atlanta, citing that it was the best time to implement listeners because they are oftentimes “coming out of the woodwork.” He remembers doing comedy based on what the people had to say, many of whom he states were drunk, high, and stupid, and thoroughly enjoyed hearing their perspectives. Morning drive evokes a different approach to broadcasting for Toucher, one that is not as conducive to caller-driven discussion and subsequent conversation.

“Mornings [are] a terrible time to take phone calls,” Toucher said. “People aren’t in the mood.”

The Toucher & Rich show continues to garner double-digit shares over the last several quarters, catalyzing sports talk radio to become a staple of the marketplace. Toucher’s goal is to remain in the No. 1 ranking in the marketplace, including among the coveted demographic of men ages 25 to 54, and does not scrutinize over the size of the share as much as he used to. In reality, the number has become so large that Toucher estimates removing a few portable people meters (PPMs) could have a large influence on the breadth of the share.

“I can’t sit down and guarantee, ‘Hey everyone, we’re going to have a 24-share every time we crack the mics,’ so that doesn’t bother me,” Toucher said. “Right now, and since our station has been on the air, sports talk radio has dominated in Boston, but that was not always the case. There’s a lot of shows in non-sports formats that dominated this market, so it’s a fairly recent thing that WEEI and us have been getting this much of a chunk.”

While WEEI may be the most conspicuous source of competition, there are a deluge of other platforms on which to disseminate content that threaten the viability of the program. Boston has various regional sports networks, such as NESN and NBC Sports Boston, along with regional podcasts and live programs on social media. Moreover, there is national sports talk radio and television to contend with, the latter of which is a frequent point of discussion on their program. Toucher has never truly considered working in television as opposed to radio, and over the years, he has adopted a staunch belief that personalities are more effective on audio platforms.

“I think that radio is just a better product,” Toucher opined. “For talking about sports, I think radio is a tremendously better product because you’re not bogged down with graphics and scripts and all that; you have more freedom.”

While Toucher works to consume several different sources of sports media coverage, he understands the trials and tribulations required to reach such a point. When he had to take a five-week leave of absence from his program earlier in the year to receive treatment for leukoplakia, a throat condition that was affecting his vocal cords, he was worried and feared a future where he would be unable to express himself on the air. Toucher has yet to undergo surgery to try and treat the issue and is still trying to get over the resentment he feels from enduring that difficult stretch.

“I was scared for my career,” Toucher said. “I was told there was a good possibility that I had cancer, [and] I still don’t know; there’s still a chance that I have cancer.”

One month later, Toucher wrote an alarming series of posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, the first of which asked his followers if they ever wished to die. A later post read, “I want to die baby,” which occurred as he had a relapse after working to overcome an alcohol addiction that forced him to miss time on the air in 2020.

As Toucher was facing uncertainty with his vocal cords, he was also facing divorce and thus lived alone without his children, hardships that engendered a sense of foreboding. Upon his relapse, he quickly admitted himself to a detoxification facility where he spent five days to ensure he was stable, and addressed his absence once he returned on the air.

“It wasn’t something that I was like, ‘You know what? If I’m open with this, it’s going to be so good for people,’” Toucher explained. “It was a necessity; I didn’t have any other options. I couldn’t lie [because] I was going to get found out. All my shit is out there, so I was going to get found out.”

Toucher infrequently discusses the matter on the air because he does not know if anyone truly cares to be informed on his personal issues. He does feel comfortable talking about the recovery process when prompted and would be open to starting a podcast to discuss his struggles if granted the opportunity in the future. Craig Carton, FS1 morning show host and former WFAN personality, hosts a weekly podcast with Audacy titled Hello, My Name is Craig that discusses matters related to compulsive gambling, something that previously landed him in prison.

“I need to get there personally before I can start telling anyone else what to do,” Toucher said. “But that’s what’s great about the recovery community is that the way people stay sober is [by] helping those who are struggling or helping those that are new to sobriety. That’s kind of how the whole thing works. If I ever got to a place where I could share and help people on a broad basis, that’s the dream; quite frankly, that would be a dream. That means I’ve stayed sober and stuck with it long enough.”

Toucher affirms that even if people do not realize it, they likely know someone that has been in recovery and that there is a need to be transparent about the ordeal for the greater good. At the moment, he does not discern his remarks on the journey as being altruistic in nature; rather, it occurs because of his status as a public figure. Nonetheless, he believes in what he is doing and aspires to be a role model by overcoming encumbrances and concomitant adversity.

“Believe me, you want people in recovery and you want good recovery places because that’s good for everybody,” Toucher said. “People getting off of drugs and alcohol is better for the world, and it’s not a flaw of character to have a problem with drugs or alcohol because they’re designed to cause those problems. That’s why they’re addictive substances.”

Mike Thomas had been the program director of 98.5 The Sports Hub since its inception, but he left the outlet to take a job with ESPN 1000 and currently works for Audacy as its Boston market manager. As a result, longtime assistant program director Rick Radzik was elevated to the lead role, a move which Toucher originally was concerned would lead to meddling with the show. Even though Radzik had never worked in the position before, he expeditiously gained the trust and confidence of Toucher in that he was adept to lead the station forward.

“I think that he’s as good a program director as there is, and he’s not a pushover,” Toucher said of Radzik. “He says what he believes, and I think he handles talent well. The station has thrived under him; in fact, the station has done better than ever with him as the program director.”

Throughout the last several years, many sports media personalities have started podcasts discussing abstruse topics for niche audiences. Unless the podcast is live though, Toucher believes it wouldn’t feel the same as being on the radio. Additionally, consumers can easily tune into an AM or FM signal, whereas podcasts and other digital programming sometimes require strenuous efforts just to discover. Although the basis of the technology may be more than a century old, there is an alluring charm in the tradition that keeps him captivated to come back for more.

Toucher cherishes his spot in the mornings and hopes to be on the air for many years to come. He is working on doing his part in ensuring that the show remains the top-rated morning program in the marketplace and views anything else on the side as a mere windfall. Throughout the five-week stretch that he was off the air, Toucher felt a keen sense of despondency and realized that the show gives him his sense of purpose.

“If I wasn’t on the radio, I’d really miss it,” Toucher said. “I think it would be a hard pill to swallow.”

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Sports TV’s Star Era is Over, So What is Stephen A. Smith Worth Now at ESPN?

“The future is about meeting your audience’s needs on demand and putting a focus on what it is audiences will pay a premium to see. I don’t think that describes studio debate shows.”

Demetri Ravanos



Stephen A. Smith
Courtesy: Evan Angelastro, GQ

What is ESPN paying Pat McAfee? The exact figure is disputed, but it’s believed that he signed a contract for $85 million last year. The network writes a $17 million check to Troy Aikman every year and another $10 million check for his Monday Night Football partner Joe Buck.

That is a lot of money already tied up in talent. It seems like ESPN is about to agree to another staggering dollar figure to keep Stephen A. Smith on the payroll. But I have a question.

Why are we doing this? Why is an eight-figure annual salary for any single person a good investment? 

ESPN’s corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company, has said over and over again that they are trying to build a media company for the future. It’s why Star Wars is a streaming-only property for the time being and why Hulu is being folded into Disney+. 

The future is about meeting your audience’s needs on demand and putting a focus on what it is audiences will pay a premium to see. I don’t think that describes studio debate shows.

Jimmy Pitaro had an idea when he took over ESPN. He wanted to give more money to fewer people and put the network’s biggest stars everywhere he could fit them. It’s why Smith was on First Take and NBA Countdown and had a show on ESPN+. It’s why Mike Greenberg had Get Up, NBA Countdown and a radio show. When Pitaro was first laying the foundations for his tenure atop ESPN, the idea made a lot of sense. 

Now though, it’s time for the strategy to be re-thought, particularly as Pitaro and his boss Bob Iger lay out the reasons why it makes sense for the network to offer its audience so many different approaches to its digital future.

The star era of sports television is over. Just ask FS1 and Skip Bayless

When the biggest names and most recognizable faces at ESPN were Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, and Stuart Scott, we turned on ESPN to see what they would do and hear what they would say. To hear those talents tell it though, that was a time when ESPN was afraid to lean into its stars and instead tried to hammer home that no SportsCenter anchor was bigger than the show itself. There were a lot of steps that got us from that reality to this one, but each one made the talking heads matter a little less. Now, the only things that move the needle for the audience in a way that matters to the people at the top of Disney are games.

It started with the rapid growth of cable, then came the internet. That gave birth first to blogs, then YouTube and then to podcasting. We didn’t have to wait for Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon at 5:30 anymore. We could get access to whatever opinion we wanted any time we wanted it.

From there, it kicked into overdrive. Streaming TV became common in most homes. Sports betting was legalized in states all over the country. The Covid-19 pandemic shut down the sports world. Streaming viewership grew to the point that it overtook traditional television.

Advertisers have been paying attention to all of it and what it all means. Look at FOX News, which has been dominant in primetime on cable. The median age of the audience for those shows is 69. That means half of the people watching are 70 or over. It’s why commercials for catheters and reverse mortgages fill so much of the network’s ad time. That’s not just true for FOX News. It’s a problem for just about every traditional TV network. 

ESPN’s median viewer age is 48 and according to one study, nearly 40% of its audience is over 55. That’s still a valuable audience to advertisers, but remember that linear TV viewership isn’t popular with young people at all. Those people are not going to turn 48 and suddenly get a craving for a cable cord or satellite box. Many of them won’t even look into streaming tv packages like YouTubeTV, HuluTV, or Fubo. 

The one exception is live games. ESPN’s median age isn’t significantly lower than FOX News’s because of Smith or McAfee. It’s because of Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. The future value of ESPN is being able to offer all those leagues and games to viewers without forcing them to pay a cable or satellite bill.

First Take is well-constructed. Stephen A. Smith’s comments and antics on the show get spoofed by Saturday Night Live and draw a reaction from Jon Stewart. He has made the show a cultural touchstone. PTI and Around the Horn have both stood the test of time, in their 23rd and 22nd years on the network respectively. Those shows have performed at or above expectations for multiple decades, but I don’t think that guarantees they will be around forever.

What if ESPN wanted to take those games from smaller college conferences and international leagues that currently air on ESPN+ and put them on the main network instead? As we move to full availability of ESPN without a cable or satellite contract, the network could take advantage of America’s desire to bet by airing games throughout the majority of the day’s 24 hours. Integrate ESPNBet capabilities into the presentation, and you certainly have a more profitable product.

I could see myself watching a game in a league I am unfamiliar with and maybe even putting a little money on it if ESPN utilized the Pat McAfee Show crew. I’m not a huge fan of their college football broadcasts, because that’s my favorite sport and I want to watch the game, but if you’re telling me we’re all watching a soccer game from France’s Serie B and they are telling me what in-game bets they like, I just may participate. Degenerates can convince other degenerates to bet on anything if the vibe is right! The problem is that I don’t know how much of that McAfee can do and I don’t know many other ESPN talents that have that kind of equity with their audience.

Don’t judge Smith solely on recent weeks. It’s a short period when he has come off as really unlikable, but it’s part of a much larger career that has shown you over and over again that he knows how to attract and connect with an audience. Having him is a win for any network. But is it a win that’s worth an annual salary of 15 or 20 million dollars? I don’t think it is.

Stephen A. Smith has goals he wants to accomplish. There are new realities in the media business and ESPN needs to be ready to adapt. If the age of the star pundit on television is over, I’m not sure a long and expensive contract makes sense for either side.

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Seller to Seller: John Goforth, Magellan AI

“I love hiring people to do job A so they are ready to do job B in six months and that’s always been a really successful tactic for me as well.”



Graphic for a seller to seller feature with John Goforth of Magellan AI

John Goforth is in his fifth year as Chief Revenue Officer at Magellan AI, a podcast advertising analytics platform. In his ‘previous life,’ Goforth spent more than a dozen years selling and managing in radio, with a heavy emphasis in sports.

After stops at KMOX, KFNS and 101 ESPN in St. Louis, Goforth was recruited to ESPN Chicago and later took over as Local Sales Manager for 670 The Score and 93XRT. When he looks back at his time with those stations and companies, he thinks about how much he enjoyed the creativity involved in the business. His success, he believes, came from his work ethic and building great relationships with clients who he would work tirelessly for to create engaging advertising campaigns he knew would drive results.

But Goforth also saw the declining revenue of traditional media and saw the opportunity in the podcast space. So, since 2016, Goforth’s sales life has revolved around podcasting.

Magellan AI has software which continuously monitors 40,000 advertisers across 50,000 podcasts. They work with publishers, ad agencies and brands and some have referred to the company as “the Google of podcasting.”

Goforth had previously worked with Magellan AI as Senior Vice President of Sales at HowStuffWorks, he was their first subscriber. “It’s so much easier to sell an advertiser who is already engaged in the podcast ecosystem than someone who isn’t,” Goforth told BSM in 2022. “I always wanted it to be someone else’s job to convince them that podcasts were the right channel. I just want to find the people that have already embraced the channel and convince them my content was good content to try.

“Sellers use us to understand the marketplace – who’s spending, what genres are they accelerating in, where are they pulling back, how much money are they spending and what their competitive field and industries look like.”

For example, Magellan AI data can tell you that in the month of April, Better Help spent nearly $7.7 million in podcast advertising, Amazon spent nearly $5.5 million. It can also tell you that Toyota was the top spending auto dealer in podcasting for the month and that 7 of the top 15 spenders in the month of April spent the most in sports.

When asked about the current state of the podcast industry and the knowledge people have of the industry, Goforth said, “The industry is evolving…the big learning curve for everyone is getting past the idea that Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) is bad, that DAI is equal to programmatic. DAI is the way in which an ad is served, it has nothing to do with the ad style. Programmatic is a way in which to buy ads.

“So, we’re past downloads and impressions and what is a pre-roll a mid-roll and a post-roll and now it’s on to what type of inventory are we selling and who’s selling it.”

Goforth said if 2020 and 2021 were the years of the content acquisition wars, right now is the era of inventory acquisition wars for podcasting. “I don’t think companies care so much about being able to say ‘we are the exclusive provider of this podcast, and we are the only ones with access to this inventory.’ That still exists…but as more brand awareness gets involved, it’s really important to be able to offer scale.”

Sports has been a big part of Goforth’s career from his days selling St. Louis Cardinals Radio on KMOX to being part of a brand-new FM sports station in St. Louis at 101 ESPN, to managing sports sales in one of the top markets in the country. He said for podcasting, there are a couple reasons why sports content does so well.

“Sports is a great gateway drug,” he said. “A lot of brands that are newer to podcasts are comfortable with sports and sports content. If they have to go explain something to their bosses, they’re never going to get in trouble for saying they bought sports…By and large, sports feels safe to traditional marketers. The other thing that goes along with that is the proliferation of sports gambling. Sports gambling is, in some ways, funding sports media.”

One area that is no different for Goforth in the software business from the media business is having to recruit and train salespeople if you are going to be successful. He said he has used different strategies in the past but has come back to one of the simpler strategies when it comes to hiring sellers.

“It’s one of the most challenging pieces of running a monetization business, finding the people that can actually go do it. I’ve evolved over the years, I’ve had lots of different philosophies and theories…and ultimately, I’ve circled around to the philosophy of Malcolm Gladwell…the concept is, recruiting is hard enough and no matter what you do, you are going to get it wrong 50% of the time. So, don’t overthink it, follow your gut. Thats been the most successful path for me. Do I like this person? Would I want to have a beer with this person? Do they seem intelligent?

“I don’t subscribe to the ‘check the box’ theory…If I am hiring a podcast seller, it’s less interesting to me if you have sold podcasts. If everything else is great, I can teach you that part. Are you smart? Do you have that motor, that drive? Thats the one thing that is non-negotiable, the internal motor. I want to hire adults to be adults. I don’t want to have to check in on them and micromanage. I just want them to tell me when they need something and be supportive of them. I want to hire smart, competent people to do their job and if they need training, I give it to them. Thats been the most successful thing for me.”

Much like Brian Schneekloth from Beasley Media Group Boston talked about in this space previously, Goforth is a big believer in growing your sales bench internally. “I love hiring people to do job A, so they are ready to do job B in six months and that’s always been a really successful tactic for me as well.”

Whether it has been driving revenue selling sports media or driving revenue selling software to help others build podcast revenue, John Goforth is finding success and staying at the top of his game.

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Gary Myers Continues His Storied Career Covering the NFL

“If I knew I was going to be this happy writing books and working as a consultant on other projects, I would have gotten out of the newspaper business a long time before then.”

Avatar photo



Screengrab of author Gary Myers
Screengrab: Big Blue View

In the world of sports media, things are certainly a lot different today than they were five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago and thirty years ago.  For Gary Myers, a veteran of 8 years covering the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News and 29 years as an NFL columnist for the New York Daily News, staying involved with covering football these days meant transitioning into something different.

Myers has been working on various projects including writing books and consulting on a documentary about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

“It was a pretty long newspaper career,” said Myers who left the Daily News in 2018.  “It was a really good time to get out of there because unfortunately the Daily News is just not what it used to be.”

Myers’ most recent book is titled “Once a Giant” and chronicles the 1986 Super Bowl champion New York Giants.  He is also working on a book that examines the same subject as the documentary that he is working on…who was the bigger reason for the New England Patriots’ dynasty?

Bill Belichick or Tom Brady?

“I think people’s opinions have gotten skewed by the fact that Tom went to Tampa and won a Super Bowl in his first year there and Belichick made the playoffs once in four years without Tom,” said Myers.   “I would say my end evaluation is 60-40 Brady but it’s not 80-20 and some people think it’s 90-10.  Somebody had to draft the kid.” 

Speaking of Tom Brady, the future Hall of Fame quarterback is set to take his talents to the Fox NFL broadcast booth this season teaming with Kevin Burkhardt on the network’s top team.  While some are questioning just how committed Brady is to the job and how good he will be on television, Myers is convinced that Brady will be a star on TV.

Myers wrote a book about Brady and Peyton Manning back in 2015 and was able to spend a lot of time with Brady.

“Tom was very cooperative and gracious with me,” said Myers.  “He’s a genuinely good guy who I think is really bright.  He’s very well-spoken and eloquent.  I think he’s going to be great on TV.  People are going to be looking for him to fail and I think they’re going to be disappointed because I think he’s going to be very good at this.” 

In addition to being an NFL writer and columnist during his career, Myers was also the NFL insider for HBO’s “Inside The NFL” from 1989 to 2001.  Today, writers who have been NFL insiders on TV include the likes of Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport.  Back in the day, it was Myers who followed in the footsteps of the legendary Will McDonough.

Even though he has transitioned away from his legendary newspaper career, Myers has been able to stay connected to covering football.  With the way that the newspaper business has changed, the writing was on the wall that it was time to step away and find another way to cover the NFL.

Myers was not ready to call it a career.

“I still have way too much energy to retire,” said Myers.  “I’m taking advantage of what I call my institutional knowledge and put it to another way of using it.  If I knew I was going to be this happy writing books and working as a consultant on other projects, I would have gotten out of the newspaper business a long time before then.”

When Myers was writing books while also working full-time for the Daily News, he had to find a way and the time to juggle both responsibilities.  In the case of “Once A Giant”, he spent two years just working on the book and on a subject that meant a lot to him.

And he was able to put a lot of TLC into it without having to divide any time with a newspaper life.

“It is the best book I’ve ever written,” said Myers.  “I was incredibly passionate about the subject.  It’s all I was working on for two years.  I didn’t take on any other projects.”

While Myers has transitioned into books and other projects, the newspaper scene in New York City, as well as many other markets around the country, continues to descend.  When Myers was with the Daily News, he felt that his employer had the gold standard when it came to covering sports in the Big Apple.

Today, Myers laments what the Daily News now is and gives credit to his once bitter rival, the New York Post, for continuing to do things the right way. 

“They (the New York Post) are the only newspaper, in this area at least, that are still approaching it like it’s 1985 in terms of the resources that they put into covering sports,” said Myers.  “They still send five people to the Super Bowl.  The Daily News is a shell of what it used to be. That’s sad to me.”

The role of NFL beat writers and columnists continue to evolve because the access has changed significantly.  When Myers covered the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News, there was always a plethora of players available for him to talk to and that left him with a good problem to have when he went back to the press room to work.

“The hardest decision I had to make when I left the locker room was which story do I want to write because I had about ten in my notebook,” said Myers. 

Fast forward to today and things have changed for reporters.

Many times, there are only a handful of players in the locker room during media access periods and that restricts the ability of the writers to create relationships with the players and get exclusive stories.

What you have now are the same reporters going up to the same players at the same time.

“I am convinced that if the NFL had its way and the teams had their way, the only people that would be covering the teams now would be the teams’ website, the teams’ video department and they would grant access to the network partners to come in before the games,” said Myers.  “They don’t need newspapers anymore and they don’t need local radio stations.  It’s just different.  The day-to-day media is no longer a priority to the teams.”

And that is a big reason why Gary Myers is enjoying the new chapter of his storied career covering the NFL.  He doesn’t have to worry about the day-to-day grind of covering a team because he’s made the very successful transition to writing books and finding other ways to tell stories about the National Football League.

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