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Guber Bets On NextVR’s Future

Jason Barrett

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Warriors owner Joe Lacob gets most of the ink when it comes to telling the story behind his team’s amazing success. He’s the principal stakeholder. The guy who put the group together.

But Peter Guber — Lacob’s co-owner — is the mad scientist behind the scenes. He’s the Hollywood schmoozer who can mesmerize a room with his fast-talking shtick. The guy you want to have a martini with.

He also happens to be a guy who can see the future.

That much was evident Friday night at Oracle Arena, where an innovative group of tech types came out to show off what could be a true game-changer in broadcasting. A company called NextVR, based in Laguna Beach (Orange County), has come up with a broadcasting platform that allows you to put on a funky pair of goggles, plug in your smartphone and suddenly, magically, be standing courtside at an NBA game.

Players run past you as though you were at the scorer’s table, waiting to check in. You can follow the ball, or look up at the scoreboard. Shoot, you can watch the vendors walking up and down the aisles if you want. Bottom line is that the world of three-dimensional virtual reality is upon us. And it’s no surprise that Guber is one of the leading voices evangelizing the technology’s merits.

Keep innovating

“Innovation,” he says, in a gravelly voice that still has a hint of New York in it somewhere. “If you don’t have that, you have stagnation. Then eradication.”

It’s a classic Guber line, delivered with pure sincerity and belief. The former head of Sony Pictures made a fortune with movies like “Rain Man” and “Batman.” He knows how to pitch a product. But after all these years and all that money, he still gets excited by the latest shiny dime. He’s a true believer in change.

“If you can think of the conceit,” Guber says excitedly, urgently, “you are in charge. You are a participant instead of a passenger. This is a game-changer of location-based entertainment.”

It’s hard to argue.

NextVR is one of a handful of companies trying to capitalize on emerging virtual reality technology, both in the gaming and broadcasting space. This particular company has partnered its software and broadcast expertise with Facebook’s Oculus gaming technology, along with the muscle of Samsung’s hardware developers, to produce a device that’s truly remarkable.

While there are market ready versions of the NextVR available right now, the technology is still probably a year or two from mass-market adoption. But if these virtual reality companies can make the right deals with pro sports … and gaming companies … and retailers … the possibilities are truly endless. One NextVR executive estimated a market of 200,000 units. Within a few years, the company envisions a market of 200 million units.

The future of broadcasting?

I looked into a pair of virtual reality glasses at Friday night’s Warriors game and saw the future of broadcasting.

A software company called NextVR from Laguna Beach was on hand to demonstrate the latest technology used to broadcast something like an NBA game. And the Warriors-Mavericks game was a perfect test.

The device, made by Samsung in concert with Facebook’s Oculus and NextVR, works by snapping a Samsung 6 phone into the viewfinder of a device that looks like a pair of fancy ski goggles. The results are stunning. The game is shot using a 3-D courtside camera (shooting 60,000 frames per second) and beamed to the phone’s screen. Then the headgear translates it into a virtual reality, with very realistic depth.

“It’s intended to make you feel like you’re there,” said NextVR co-founder Dave Cole, who started the company in 2009 with business partner D.J. Roller.

Once the game action starts and you put the goggles on, the results are remarkable. You feel as if you’re standing courtside, and you can see the players running past you. You also have the ability to control the field of vision. You can look left, right, up or down. And you don’t have to follow the ball.

It’s like being there … virtually. And that’s the whole point.

NextVR and its partners have a version of this technology available for sale already, although on a limited basis. They hope to make it a mass-market product in the next year or two.

To read the full story visit the SF Chronicle where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Brent Dougherty Signs New Deal At 104.5 The Zone

“I am so excited to have the opportunity to commit long term, again, to continue to help make 104.5 The Zone the best radio station in the country.”

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Things are going very well for 104.5 The Zone. The Cumulus station is coming off of a strong Fall ratings book, and now it has secured the future of its signature show Brent Dougherty has a new deal that will keep the 3HL host on the station for the foreseeable future.

“I am blessed to be able to work with the most talented people in radio, both on and off the air,” Dougherty told BSM. “I am so excited to have the opportunity to commit long term, again, to continue to help make 104.5 The Zone the best radio station in the country.”

Brent Dougherty has been part of The Zone since 2008. He was well-known to Nashville sports fans long before that, having previously served as the Sports Director at 1510 WLAC.

Dougherty announced his new deal last week on Twitter. On Monday, he told Barrett Sports Media that re-signing was a no-brainer, given his teammates.

“I’m so fortunate to be able to work with Dawn Davenport, Ron Slay, and Joe Hunk on a day-to-day basis. We know that there is always room to grow. We’ve worked hard to get where we are and will continue to do that every day. Win every day – always and always.”

While all of the teams currently in Nashville were already there when 3HL launched in 2010, Dougherty knows the landscape is so much different now with a population boom and the changing options for sports media. He says that he is optimistic that both the show and 104.5 The Zone will play a prominent role in shaping sports fans’ conversations in Middle Tennessee for years to come.

“We as a radio station have tried to grow with Nashville hand-in-hand. 104.5 The Zone is the voice of Nashville sports. It was that way when I came to work at this radio station in 2008. We are blessed to have such loyal and passionate listeners and are so thankful for their participation and their desire to take ownership over what we do.”

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Sports Radio News

David Schultz Out At 105.5 WNSP

“I had a blast covering the Jaguars, Tide & Tigers, Saints, and high school sports and then sharing my opinions.”

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WNSP is looking for a new afternoon show. A source tells Barrett Sports Media that David Schultz has been let go.

Schultz served as the Program Director as well as the host of The Game Plan in afternoon drive. Michael Brauner has been his co-host since last April.

David Schultz came to Mobile in August of 2019, replacing Creg Stephenson and Randy Kennedy, who is now heard on crosstown rival Sports Talk 99.5. Before coming to Alabama, Schultz hosted mornings on 103.7 The Game in Lafayette, Louisiana. He is also a former contributor to WQAM in Miami.

“To the listeners of WNSP, it has been my honor and pleasure driving you home from work since August of 2019,” he wrote on Twitter. “I had a blast covering the Jaguars, Tide & Tigers, Saints, and high school sports and then sharing my opinions. I appreciated your patience as it took this ‘yankee’ a bit to get used to his surroundings. Thank you very much for bringing me into your homes, cars, and phones.”

The station’s permanent afternoon plans are far from solidified. BSM has learned that Mark Heim — who currently hosts The Opening Kickoff on the station — will cover the shift in the interim.

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Sports Radio News

Audacy, New York Mets Announce Addition of Keith Raad, Pat McCarthy

“The Mets are excited to have Keith and Pat join WCBS 880 as part of the Mets broadcast.”

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As has been previously speculated, the New York Mets and WCBS have officially announced the additions of Keith Raad and Pat McCarthy to its radio broadcast team.

Raad joins the crew after spending last season announcing games for the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets single-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League. He has also been the voice of Wagner University football and women’s basketball since 2017.

McCarthy — the son of Philadelphia Phillies television voice Tom McCarthy — has served as the voice of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the AAA-affiliate of the Phillies. He has filled in on Phillies broadcasts during the past two seasons, in addition to working as a football, and men’s/women’s basketball announcer for Princeton and St. Joseph’s Universities.

“The Mets are excited to have Keith and Pat join WCBS 880 as part of the Mets broadcast,” said Andy Goldberg, Executive Vice President, and Chief Marketing Officer, New York Mets. “Having Keith called up from Brooklyn, and being a local New Yorker to keep it in the family is what the Mets are all about.”

Raad will serve as the play-by-play and color commentator on the club’s broadcasts, while McCarthy will host the pregame and postgame shows, and step into the play-by-play role held by Howie Rose during select broadcasts.

“As we round the bases towards Spring Training, we’re proud to officially welcome Keith Raad and Pat McCarthy to our popular coverage of Mets baseball alongside Mets Hall of Famer Howie Rose,” said Chris Oliviero, Market President, Audacy New York. “Once again, the Mets offseason has created anticipation and optimism for the 2023 Amazins’ and we’re looking forward to being the audio home for every moment on-air and digitally.”

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