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Good Ole Fashioned Hard Work Helps Kellner Climb The Ladder

Tyler McComas

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Being young in the sports radio industry isn’t always easy. More times than not, young people are asked and required to do the jobs nobody else wants to do, all for the opportunity to gain invaluable experience. Nights and weekends may be spent alone in a studio with the non-glamorous job of running the board for a high school football game or Minor League Baseball game. It’s in those times where you may ask yourself, is this really worth it?

Hard work and determination really do pay off. That’s what Brad Kellner kept telling himself as he woke up every morning as an unpaid intern to be a board op for a morning drive show in Austin, Texas. While his friends were routinely questioning his life choice over drinks on Sixth Street, Kellner never wavered on chasing his dream of becoming a sports radio host.

That relentless attitude is what helped ‘BK’ land in the host chair at the ripe age of 22. Just months removed from graduating college at The University of Texas, he was hosting weeknights and weekends at 104.9 The Horn in Austin. But just because he caught his first big break, didn’t mean the hustle was about to stop for Kellner. By making himself available for any and all duties at the station, he made himself a big asset to his employer and proved he was capable of any position. Once he proved his talents as a skilled show host, The Horn moved him to a mid-day slot with co-host Trey Elling.

Today, Kellner is only 24 years old, but is celebrating the one year anniversary of “Middays with Trey and BK” at 104.9 The Horn. BK is a prime example of someone that started from the bottom, did everything he could along the way to help himself, and earned the rewards that come from hard work. Though this business is cutthroat, tough times don’t always last, but tough people do.

Though better days are surely to come. Happy one year anniversary to Trey and BK.

TM: You started out as a host at 22 years old. How difficult was it to gain respect with listeners or co-workers because of your age?

BK: I was really fortunate, because I was able to intern at four different radio stations in college, including the two I worked for in Austin. So I had some connections at The Horn, the station I work at now. I’m lucky, because people here were really supportive and receptive of me. Obviously, I was just doing weekend stuff in the morning, so it wasn’t like I was going to screw anyone over if I had a bad show. I worked hard to prove myself and had everyone at The Horn in my corner which gave me confidence and meant a lot.

TM: Did you have a chip on your shoulder at that age? Especially when you first started hosting?

BK: Oh man, I’ll always have a chip on my shoulder. That’s what motivates me. I’ve been lucky in life and had a lot handed to me, sure, but I just live by the motto to never be satisfied. I think the people who get content, whether it’s in sports radio or any other line of work, that’s when you start losing at life. You become too satisfied and content with what you have and it causes you to stop working. I want to be better every day and continue to move up in this business.

TM: You interned at four different stations. Did you find that starting off at a smaller station where they give you more opportunities is better? Or at a bigger station where more people get accustomed to your name and who you are?

BK: Two of the stations I worked at were in Austin and the other two were in Dallas. I got put on the air at least once or twice at each station. For the most part, it was behind the scenes work. I knew the main purpose of doing these internships was to make connections. That was important to me. I knew it was a case of who you know versus what you know. I put all my eggs in the internship basket and tried to meet as many people as I could. In terms of what’s better, bigger station or smaller? It was all pretty similar, I just wanted to learn from as many people as possible, so when it was time to get a job, I actually had a couple contacts I could go to.

TM: I’m sure you probably ended up working alongside a lot of the hosts you grew up listening to. Who were some of the guys you found yourself wanting to pattern after?

BK: The station I grew up listening to was Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket in Dallas. I got the opportunity to intern there in college and I’d say any of the hosts they have. That’s a self-made, self-grown station that started in the 90’s and it’s pretty much the same hosts from when they started. They just won the Marconi Award for best sports radio station for the third time. I’ve always been fond of those dudes and try to listen to them every day. I try to hone my craft off of what those guys do. Nationally, I’d say Colin Cowherd does a pretty solid job. I know he irks people sometimes, but he’s incredibly good at his craft and he’s one of the most successful guys in our business. He’s someone I listen to and take pointers from. But I’m pretty receptive, if anyone has words or tips, I’m always willing to listen. I try to study as many sports radio hosts as I can across the country to pick up things and learn.

TM: What about frustrating times in the beginning? Did you ever have any as an unpaid intern?

BK: Sure it’s frustrating, but you have to remember that you’re getting a chance to talk about sports or push buttons as a producer and listen to sports for a living. Before I got this job at The Horn, I was just out of college and looking to get away from The Zone. Not because I didn’t like it there, I loved it there, I just wasn’t making enough money and I didn’t want to pick up a second job, because I was just producing at that time. When it came to applying for jobs, that’s the frustrating thing. You feel like you’re talented enough to be in one spot, but because of a lack of experience and a lack of age, you don’t always get the respect outside your station that you deserve.

TM: With that being said, what advice would you give to someone young who hasn’t caught their big break yet?

BK: You just have to put in work. You’ve got to grind and do whatever is asked of you. Go around the station and talk to as many people as you can. See if you can help out in other ways, because people think fondly of that. If you can make yourself multi-faceted in terms of talent…if you’re good at producing, find ways to be better on air. Work on making promos for the station. You can even go beyond radio and see if you can write stories for the station’s website. Get some video, do some TV stuff, whatever you can do is always going to help. The more time you put in, you’re going to catch some breaks. A couple of my internships were at 5am. I was doing morning drive shows and making no money to be an intern at the station. My friends were calling me crazy and an idiot, they didn’t understand why I’d wake up so early while I was still in college. I’d be up at 4:30 in the morning on a Friday after a night out on Sixth Street. I just told them it was going to pay off down the line and I knew at some point it would. Just keep grinding and doing everything you can to make a difference with people at the station and good things will come.

TM: Waking up that early, still in college and not getting paid. While you were gaining a lot of experience, do you think you also gained a lot of respect from fellow show hosts for doing that?

BK: Yeah, I think so. I just put my head down and did whatever I could to make the shows successful. To quote the great LaVar Ball, I stayed in my lane. I did what was asked of me and tried to please the hosts and make their jobs easier. But yeah, I think I was able to gain their respect by working hard.

TM: Your co-host Trey Elling seems like a really good dude and a talented guy. Seeing as he’s your partner for your first-ever weekday show, how important has he been to your growth?

BK: It’s been great. Trey and I are great friends and we even hangout off the air from time to time. I know his two kids, they call me Uncle Brad which is pretty cool. He’s been in the business for a while and worked in places like Chicago and Portland before coming to Austin. He’s got a good grasp on how things work in this industry. I think we’re doing extremely well, and have a strong connection on air and great chemistry off air. That has helped us create a quality show and I’m fortunate to have a guy like Trey as my first co-host.

For more on Brad Kellner and 104.9 The Horn click here.

BSM Writers

Who Handled the Tua Concussion Discussion Best?

Rex Ryan, Rodney Harrison, and Boomer Esiason stood out with their commentary on the Tagovailoa story.

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The major story going into the bulk of Week 4’s NFL action on Sunday was the concussion suffered by Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Thursday’s game versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Amazon’s Thursday Night Football telecast, particularly its halftime show, faced heavy criticism for neglecting to mention that Tagovailoa had been tested for a concussion in his previous game just four days earlier. Additionally, the NFL Players Association called for an investigation into whether or not the league’s concussion protocols were followed properly in evaluating Tagovailoa.

In light of that, how would the Sunday NFL pregame shows address the Tagovailoa concussion situation? Would they better inform viewers by covering the full story, including the Week 3 controversy over whether or not proper protocols were followed?

We watched each of the four prominent pregame shows — ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Fox NFL Sunday, CBS’s The NFL Today, and NBC’s Football Night in America — to compare how the Tagovailoa story was covered. With the benefit of two extra days to research and report, did the Sunday shows do a better job of informing and engaging viewers?

Here’s how the pregame studio crews performed with what could be the most important NFL story of the year:

Sunday NFL Countdown – ESPN

ESPN’s pregame show is the first to hit the air each Sunday, broadcasting at 10 a.m. ET. So the Sunday NFL Countdown crew had the opportunity to lead the conversation for the day. With a longer, three-hour show and more resources to utilize in covering a story like this, ESPN took full advantage of its position.

The show did not lead off with the Tagovailoa story, opting to lay out Sunday’s schedule, which included an early game in London between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. But the Countdown crew eventually got to issue on everyone’s minds approximately 28 minutes into the program.

Insider Adam Schefter provided the latest on the NFL and NFLPA’s investigation into the matter, particularly the “gross motor instability” Tagovailoa displayed in stumbling on the field and how the Dolphins initially announced that the quarterback had suffered a head injury, but later changed his condition to a back injury.

Schefter added that the NFL and NFLPA were expected to interview Tagovailoa and pass new guidelines for concussion protocols, including that no player displaying “gross motor instability” will be allowed to play. Those new rules could go into effect as early as Week 5.

“This is an epic fail by the NFL,” said Matt Hasselbeck to begin the commentary. “This is an epic fail by the medical staff, epic fail by everybody! Let’s learn from it!”

Perhaps the strongest remarks came from Rex Ryan, who said coaches sometimes need to protect players from themselves.

“I had a simple philosophy as a coach: I treated every player like my son,” Ryan said. “Would you put your son back in that game after you saw that?

“Forget this ‘back and ankle’ BS that we heard about! This is clearly from head trauma! That’s it. I know what it looks like. We all know what it looks like.”

Where Sunday NFL Countdown‘s coverage may have stood out the most was by bringing injury analyst Stephania Bell into the discussion. Bell took a wider view of the story, explaining that concussions had to be treated in the long-term and short-term. Science needs to advance; a definitive diagnostic tool for brain injury doesn’t currently exist. Until then, a more conservative approach has to be taken, holding players out of action more often.

Grade: A. Countdown covered the story thoroughly. But to be fair, it had the most time.

The NFL Today – CBS

CBS’s pregame show led off with the Tagovailoa story, going right to insider Jonathan Jones to report. He cited the key phrase “gross motor instability” as a significant indication of a concussion.

Jones also clarified that the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who helped evaluate Tagovailoa made “several mistakes” in consulting with the Dolphins’ team doctor, leading to his dismissal by the NFL and NFLPA.

The most pointed remarks came from Boomer Esiason, who said any insinuation that the Dolphins, head coach Mike McDaniel, or the team medical staff put Tagovailoa back in the game in order to win was “off-base.” Phil Simms added that the concussion experts he spoke with indicated that Tagovailoa could miss four to six weeks with this injury.

Grade: B-. The opinions from the analysts were largely bland. Jones’s reporting stood out.

Fox NFL Sunday

The Fox NFL pregame show also led off with the Tagovailoa story, reviewing the questions surrounding how the quarterback was treated in Week 3 before recapping his injury during Week 4’s game.

Jay Glazer reported on the NFL’s investigation, focusing on whether or not Tagovailoa suffered a concussion in Week 3. And if he did, why was he allowed to play in Week 4? Glazer noted that Tagovailoa could seek a second, maybe a third medical opinion on his injury.

Jimmy Johnson provided the most compelling commentary, sharing his perspective from the coaching side of the situation. He pointed out that when an injured player comes off the field, the coach has no contact with him. The medical team provides an update on whether or not the player can return. In Johnson’s view, Mike McDaniel did nothing wrong in his handling of the matter. He has to trust his medical staff.

Grade: B. Each of the analysts shared stronger opinions, particularly in saying a player failing “the eyeball test” with concussion symptoms should be treated seriously.

Football Night in America – NBC

Sunday Night Football was in a different setting than the other pregame shows, with Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, and Rodney Harrison broadcasting on-site from Tampa Bay. With that, the show led off by covering the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, its effects on the Tampa area, and how the Buccaneers dealt with the situation during the week.

But after 20 minutes, the show got into the Tagovailoa story with Mike Florio reporting what his peers told viewers earlier in the day regarding pending changes to the NFL’s concussion protocol and “gross motor instability” being used as a major indicator.

Florio emphasized that the NFLPA would ask how Tagovailoa was examined and treated. Was he actually examined for a back injury in Week 3? And if he indeed suffered a back injury, why was he still allowed to play?

When the conversation went back to the on-site crew, Dungy admitted that playing Thursday night games always concerned him when he was a coach. He disclosed that teams playing a Thursday game needed to have a bye the previous week so they didn’t have to deal with a quick, four-day turnaround. That scheduling needs to be addressed for player safety.

But Harrison had the most engaging reaction to the story, coming from his experience as a player. He admitted telling doctors that he was fine when suffering concussion symptoms because he wanted to get back in the game. Knowing that was wrong, Harrison pleaded with current players to stay on the sidelines when hurt because “CTE takes you to a dark place.”

“It’s not worth it. Please take care of yourself,” said Harrison. “Don’t depend on the NFL. Don’t depend on anybody. If something’s wrong with your head, report it.”

Grade: B+. Dungy and Harrison’s views of the matter from their perspective as a coach and player were very compelling.

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BSM Writers

Jason Barrett Podcast – Terry Dugan & Adam Delevitt, BetRivers

Jason Barrett

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Sportsbooks are creating their own media now, and no company is doing that using more guys that have made their names on sports radio than BetRivers. Terry Dugan & Adam Delevitt talk about the strategy behind that decision for today and for the future.

iTunes: https://buff.ly/3nTJC5K 

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3z9hErM

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3oyi0U0

Google: https://buff.ly/3vh7Tqu

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3w9hqAh

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Joe Rogan Betting Admission Reveals Gray Area

Rogan’s admission raises a question as to just how ethical it is to place bets with insider information, and whether it should be legal or not.

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Joe Rogan

For nearly a decade, I’ve been fortunate enough to cover the football and basketball programs for the University of Kentucky in some form or fashion. Whether writing for blogs or working with ESPN Louisville as co-host of the post-game show, I’ve gotten to know people around the program I grew up supporting, and other individuals in the media doing the same. I’ve made some terrific friendships and cultivated quite a few relationships that provide me with “inside information” about the teams.

As an avid sports bettor, that information has sometimes put me into some difficult personal situations. There have been times when I’ve been alerted to player news that wasn’t public, such as a player dealing with an injury or suspension. It’s often been told to me off-the-record, and I’ve never put that information out publicly or given it to others.

I wish I could also say I’ve never placed a wager based on that information, but that would be a lie. While it’s been a long time since I’ve done so, I’ve ventured into that ethical gray area of betting on a team that I’m covering. I’ve long felt uncomfortable doing so, and I’d say it’s been a few years since I last did it.

At least I know I’m not alone. On his latest episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan told guest Bert Kreischer that earlier in his UFC broadcasting career he regularly bet on fights. He claims to have won nearly 85% of the time (which I highly doubt but that’s another discussion for another time), either via bets he made or ones he gave to a business partner to place on his behalf.

From his comments, Rogan doesn’t seem to have been using sensitive information to gain an edge with the books, but he also didn’t state that he didn’t. He indicates that much of his success stemmed from knowing quite a bit more about fighters coming from overseas, and he said he “knew who they were and I would gamble on them.”

But Rogan undoubtedly has long been in a position where he knows which fighters might be dealing with a slight injury, or who are struggling in camp with a specific fighting style. It’s unavoidable for someone whose job puts him into contact with individuals who tell him things off-the-record and divulge details without perhaps even realizing it.

But let’s say Rogan did get that information, and did use it, and was still doing so today. The fact is…there’s nothing illegal about it, not in the United States at least. While it’s against the rules of some entities — the NFL, for example, has stated they could suspend or ban for life individuals who use inside information or provide it to others — it’s not against any established legal doctrine. Unlike playing the stock market, insider betting is not regulated by any central body or by the government.

However, Rogan’s admission raises a question as to just how ethical it is to place bets with insider information, and whether it should be legal or not. Many of the after-the-fact actions that have been taken in the realm of legalized sports betting in this country, or those being discussed currently (such as advertising limitations), fall in line with changes made in Great Britain following their legalization.

One of their big changes was making it illegal to utilize insider information, with very specific definitions about the “misuse of information” and what steps the Gambling Commission may take. It lays out what information can be used, the punishments that may be levied, and at what point it might venture into criminality.

Sportsbooks do have recourse in some instances to recoup money on insider betting, but not many. If they can prove that a wage was influenced, they can cancel the bet or sue for the money. The most well-known instance is the individual who bet $50,000 at +750 odds that someone would streak on the field during Super Bowl LV –which he did– and then was denied the payout when he bragged about his exploits. But unless someone foolishly tells the books that they’ve taken them with information that the public wasn’t privy to, they have little to no chance of doing anything about it.

There are ramifications to insider betting that raise truly ethical dilemmas. Just like stock trading, information can be immeasurably valuable to those with stakes large enough to change prices. If I’m placing a $20 prop bet with the knowledge that a team’s starting running back might be out for a game, or dealing with an ankle injury, I’m not going to harm anybody else playing that line. But if I give that information to a shark, who places a $20,000 wager on that same line, I’ve now enabled someone to move a line and impact other bettors.

Online sports betting in this country continues to grow, and every day we are reminded that there are still aspects of the space that can feel like the wild west. As individuals in the media, we have to decide personally what our ethical stances are in situations like this. We also have to keep in mind the impact that betting can have on our biases–especially if we’ve bet using inside information. A prime example is Kirk Herbstreit, who won’t even make a pick on College Gameday for games he is going to be doing color commentary for lest he possibly appears biased on the call.

At one end of the spectrum, you have someone like Herbstreit, and on the other end, you have folks like Rogan who, while he no longer does so, was more than happy to not only wager on fights himself but gave the information to others. And in the middle, you have hundreds of people in similar situations, who might lean one way or another or who, like me, may have found themselves on either side of that ethical line.

There is no black or white answer here, nor am I saying there’s necessarily a right or wrong stance for anybody in the sports media industry to take. I would say that each person has to take stock of what they’re comfortable doing, and how they feel about insider information being used. Rogan didn’t break any rules or laws by gambling on the UFC, but his admission to doing so might be the catalyst towards it no longer being accepted.

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