It’s almost time for this year’s BSM Summit (February 21-22). While looking at the impressive list of guests that will be taking part in the event, I wondered what I didn’t know about these people. What are some of the things that make them tick? What are they passionate about? What’s something unique about them?
I asked a number of people associated with the event to provide some unique facts about themselves that might not be commonly known. My thought is that although we recognize these names based on job titles, we might not know something interesting about who they are as people. It’s safe to say the results did not disappoint.
The unique assortment of fun facts range from scholarly and profound, to eclectic and hilarious. Both ends of the spectrum are enjoyable and very memorable. What stands out to me is that there is much more to these people than what happens inside the four walls at work. I hope you enjoy this piece and learn some fun details about this talented group.
Joe Fortenbaugh – 95.7 The Game, San Francisco
I’m a huge nerd. I focus on process rather than result, which is one of the reasons why I love to do research. And I’m not just talking about sports and sports betting research, I’m talking about whatever strikes me as interesting. Right now, I’m knees deep in researching the Cuban Missile Crisis and French wines.
Don’t ask me why my brain functions the way that it does, because I don’t have a good answer. I just so happen to stumble into something that I find interesting and then I relentlessly immerse myself in that subject matter. Recent research projects include stoicism and the decision-making process. Like I alluded to, I have no idea why my brain chooses to function in the manner in which it does.
Ramona Shelburne – ESPN
One thing that most people don’t know about me was that I was very political growing up. When most kids dressed up as princesses or their favorite movie character for Halloween, I dressed up as George Bush or Gorbachev! I wanted nothing more than to be CJ Cregg from the West Wing. I was a funny little kid.
Clay Travis – FOX Sports Radio
I went to Civil War sleepaway camp at Gettysburg College in high school. Yes, I really am a big history nerd.
Ryan Hatch – Arizona Sports 98.7
When I was 16 years old, I put together an interview reel with famous coaches and players on a cheap tape recorder from Radio Shack and used it to get my foot in the door for an internship at the first sports radio station in Salt Lake City. It took more than three months to get the interviews scheduled and another three months to eventually convince them to break their intern policy and give a high school kid a chance. I’m also a golf junky and an avid reader. My favorite book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.
Colin Cowherd – FOX Sports Radio / FOX Sports 1
I’ve lived in six states (Nevada, California, Oregon, Connecticut, Florida, Washington). I’m one of the very few sportscasters to have lived in all four corners of the country. I’ve also been to 49 of the 50 US states. The only state I haven’t visited is South Carolina. I don’t have plans as of now to see it.
Don Martin – FOX Sports Radio
I am an avid international traveler and history buff. I have traveled to six of the seven continents of the world (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America). The only one left is Antarctica. As Program Director of 850 KOA in Denver we won five consecutive Station of the Year Awards and two Marconi Awards!
Jim Graci – 93.7 The Fan, Pittsburgh
Radio has afforded me many ancillary opportunities. I was thrilled to have done public address announcing in the NBA for 14 seasons, four with the Atlanta Hawks and two stints with the Seattle SuperSonics totaling 10 seasons.
It was during that first stint with the Sonics that I was asked to be in an episode of the television show “Frasier”. I played both the public address and broadcast announcer for an episode in season three, “Head Games”. I had multiple lines of dialogue, received guest star status, but in typical radio fashion, was not on camera. It was just my voice.
Jeff Rickard – 1070 / 107.5 The Fan, Indianapolis
I have either raced or ridden my bike over seven of the 10 highest, paved mountain peaks in the United States including Trail Ridge Road, Mt. Evans and Mt. Haleakalā.
I don’t like hot dogs or mustard and I’m allergic to shellfish, but I could eat great Italian or Mexican food forever (specifically fettuccine Alfredo). Lucky Charms is a frequent middle of the night meal, but Captain Crunch will do in a pinch.
The Denver Broncos are my favorite team in all of sports but I hate the “new” helmets and logo. John Elway the general manager makes me miss John Elway the quarterback.
Dan Zampillo – ESPN LA 710
I love hockey! I know it’s not the biggest radio sport in most markets, but I think it is an incredible sport. Plus, I’ve gotten to hold the Stanley Cup multiple times.
I really enjoy American history, especially the Civil War and presidential elections. My favorite food is deep-dish pizza (I know, cliché Chicago, but it is the best). I have kids, so I have no hobbies anymore. My favorite movie is The Bridge in the River Kwai. My favorite TV shows are The Americans, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, and Atlanta.
My first sports memory was watching Italy winning the 1982 World Cup with my Italian grandfather. I have watched the final out of the Cubs World Series win no less than 168 times on YouTube. One of my sports goals is to witness a no-hitter in person. The night of Justin Verlander’s first no-hitter, I gave away tickets so I could go on a date with a girl. Needless to say, I missed my best chance, and the date was awful. Double whammy.
Eric Johnson – 97.5 The Fanatic, Philadelphia
I like to do a lot of running and have participated in 10-mile runs and 1/2 marathons. I’m currently training for “The Seneca7,” which is a 77-mile, seven-person relay race around Seneca Lake in New York.
Steve Mason – ESPN LA 710
I’m known for my broadcasting career, but for 25 years, I owned movie theaters in Southern California. I owned theaters in Hawthorne, Azusa and at USC. My most recent theater was Cinemas Palme d’Or in Palm Desert, CA.
While operating in Palm Desert, partner Bryan Cranston and I were victims of a practice known as circuit dealing by Cinemark Theaters. Essentially, Cinemark “blocked” the Palme d’Or from playing first run film. After 13 years of litigation, in April of 2017, the company won a major antitrust lawsuit in a jury trial against Cinemark. That marked the end of my movie theater operator days.
Scott Shapiro – FOX Sports Radio
One big interest of mine, which is very rare for folks as into sports as I am, is my interest in Broadway. And when I see shows I like, I can’t get enough. I’ve seen Hamilton let’s just say north of five times. I really shouldn’t share the actual number of times I’ve seen it since my credibility and level of sanity will be significantly questioned. I’ve also seen shows such as Les Mis, Phantom, Rent, and Jersey Boys more than four times each as well.
Steve Wyche – NFL Network
I’m a big wine enthusiast. Wine is not made to be tasted. It is made be enjoyed. Also, a huge interest of mine is to one day possibly write a book about airport and airplane behavior. Why do some people use speaker mode to have a conversation in the seating area, then berate the gate agent for not being upgraded despite having platinum status, then put their bare feet on the bulkhead wall before clipping their nails at 30,000 feet?
Julie Stewart-Binks – ESPN LA 710
I was in a unique situation this year, which afforded me an opportunity to explore other interests outside of sports. I decided to pursue stand-up comedy. It’s not something I ever thought I would do, but having been immersed in improv comedy at Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York this year, and having experience in performance through TV and radio, I thought this might be a fun extra curricular. I’m also somewhat of an adrenaline junkie.
I’ve become extremely interested in the different ways of writing and performing to elicit and evoke emotions — in some ways it’s a formula, in others it’s completely random. I’ve never been challenged both mentally and physically like I have been doing stand-up. It’s really the most vulnerable thing you could possibly do. But there is no greater high than making a room of strangers laugh. You feel like the Incredible Hulk, and all you want is the next laugh. It’s addictive.
Demetri Ravanos – Barrett Sports Media
I have a film degree from the University of Alabama, which is like having a degree in tropical studies from the University of Alaska. My only two true sports loves are ‘Bama and the Boston Celtics. I was a freshman when Shaun Alexander was a senior, so he will always be my favorite player. Before I made the switch to sports, I worked exclusively in rock radio for 18 years. I used to write and host a podcast about the Disney theme parks.
When I was 11, I was at a basketball camp at the University of South Alabama where Charles Barkley showed up for a day and did a Q&A. I saw him tell another 11-year-old to “quit being a pain in the ass.” I own as many shirts with the Golden Girls on them as I do the Alabama logo. My favorite episode of the Golden Girls is the one where Blanche dreams her husband faked his death.
Amanda Gifford – ESPN
I am a proud graduate of Penn State where I have a bachelor’s of journalism degree and also a bachelor’s of science in elementary education. I started working in radio when I was 16 years old at a very small station in upstate NY where I did everything — morning news in the summer, commercial voice overs, ran the board for NASCAR races…everything…but when I went to college I thought I wanted a “normal” schedule for my career.
Always having a love for working with kids, I started in college as an education major. About halfway through my sophomore year I got some sense in my head and decided I really wanted to work in sports. I was too far in to my education classes to just change majors, so I added the journalism major and graduated with both degrees in 4 ½ years. I have never used my teaching degree because I came to ESPN right after college, but it is always a good backup plan!
Brian Long – XTRA Sports 1360, San Diego
I am originally from Kansas City so I am cursed with being a long-suffering Chiefs fan. As a teenager I began playing the drums and ultimately dreamed of being a professional musician. However, I figured out rather quickly there are “real musicians,” then there was me. I moved to Palm Springs in 1997 and took up playing golf. Today, I play the drums like a golfer and golf like a drummer.
Traug Keller – ESPN
I have another job — been chairman of Mustard Seed for over a decade now. It’s near and dear to my heart, started by a priest friend of mine from Boston College. You can get a sense of the org at mustardseed.com.
John Ireland – ESPN LA 710
I can sing any song from The Sound of Music (either the male or female part). I can name at least one dive restaurant in any US major city, from Boston to San Diego. I’m convinced that the all-time Lakers team could beat any All-Star team you could assemble from all of the other 29 teams combined. Magic and Kobe at guards, Kareem at center, Elgin Baylor and LeBron at forwards. The bench would include Wilt Chamberlin, Shaq, Jerry West, James Worthy, Karl Malone, Gail Goodrich, Jamaal Wilkes and Bob McAdoo.
Brian Musburger – VSiN
I have been the Underwater Camera Assistant for the Ironman World Championships for the last 12 years. I scuba dive beneath the starting line for the greatest endurance race in sports every year in Kona, Hawaii.
Bruce Gilbert – Cumulus Media / Westwood One
It is becoming more and more common that people know that Mike Thomas is my real blood brother, but what a lot of people don’t know is that we both have an older sister, Becky, that has been an on-air talent for over 20 years on small market stations in Central Illinois.
Becky did mornings on 101 Country, WHPO for over 20 years. She then took some time off before becoming the PM Drive talent at Classic Hits 95.9 WIQI in Watseka, IL, which is her current position. Becky is the oldest sibling in our family and she completes the trifecta for my father. My dad was in the radio business and all three of his kids have made it their career.
Becky is a true entertainer in every sense of the word. She has a HUGE personality, a tremendous sense of humor and — most importantly — she gives a damn about EVERY listener that has ever tuned into her show. She really cares about people and has raised millions of dollars through her show for St. Jude and other great charitable organizations.
Our Thanksgiving dinners have often been spent talking promotions and sales packages, much to our mother’s chagrin.
Phil Mackey – SKOR North, Minneapolis
Back in 2009, I co-founded what’s now the Mid-States Poker Tour, and remain a major supporter and fan of the poker industry. My favorite starting hand in Texas Hold ‘Em is Jack-10 suited.
Tony Bruno – The Tony Bruno Show
When I’m not watching sports, my guilty pleasure shows are on Science Channel and watching people build cabins in rain and snow in Alaska while complaining about how much the weather sucks in Alaska. Home improvement is my strength, but only on my home, not busting up kitchen cabinets in some stranger’s joint.
Justin Craig – ESPN
So in thinking about what makes me, me would be my recent infatuation with running. In the past few years I’ve racked up almost a dozen half marathons and completed my first NY marathon. Why? Great question. Although since I’ve been doing them, I’ve fallen in love with pushing myself to train for something, see it through, aiming to increase my personal bests and more importantly…to live longer.
Selfishly, I look better in pictures actually having a neck back again. Even more rewarding is being able to run with two of my best friends, even though we aren’t in the same cities, we continue to plan on runs that we can see each other at, therefore pushing the training to a different level. Throw in the added benefit of just this past fall when my son and nephew asked me if I would run a 5K with them, and the reward is through the roof.
(Oh yeah, and it’s a great chance to catch up on listening to shows and podcasts. Seriously, I listened to a live stream of the network when I was running the full marathon! Who knew cursing out bad transitions and sloppy teases could be so motivating!)
Adam Klug – 97.3 The Fan, San Diego
In the last 9 years, I’ve lived and worked in five different states: Georgia, Connecticut, California, New Jersey and New York. I have made four long-distance moves since 2010: from Georgia to Connecticut in 2010. From Connecticut to California in 2012. From California to New Jersey (lived in New Jersey, worked in New York) in 2014. From New Jersey to California in 2018. My wife has made each move with me. Both of my kids were born in New Jersey and made the most recent move to San Diego.
Mike Thomas – 98.5 The Sports Hub, Boston
At a Mötley Crüe after party in Dayton, Ohio…I noticed Tommy Lee was being very affectionate with Carmen Electra (who is from Cincinnati). Tommy was still with Pamela Anderson at the time. It wasn’t long after the sex tape came out. I went on our rock morning show in Dayton the next day and talked about what was happening. It went national — (not viral, that wasn’t a thing back then). Rick Dees called me and had me come on his show for “Dees Sleaze”. I ended up in the National Enquirer the next week!
Jorge Sedano – ESPN LA 710
At least 3-4 times a week, I take an hour to just walk on the beach — just good quiet time. After 40, I’ve realized I can no longer play pick-up basketball. I feel like an old loser. My favorite shows are The Daily Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Beyond the entertainment, I marvel at the formats and execution of the shows. My favorite sports movie is Major League. I’m forever a sucker for good pizza and a bottle of wine. It’s why I’ll never achieve my goal of a two-pack. (I’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell at a four- or six-pack.)
Mitch Rosen – 670 The Score, Chicago
My first full-time job was an overnight producer at WGN Radio in Chicago for a legendary host, Eddie Schwartz. I worked 12am-5am. Best job I ever had as I learned how to book, manage high-ego talent, and work with all departments. I was traded with Eddie from WGN to the legendary LOOP. It was the best career move I ever made. I have been a self-proclaimed radio geek since 7th grade and followed my dream since then. A lot of people are not aware that I worked at WTKU for its launch and was part of the team that hired RuPaul to do mornings. The station went from worst to first in one book. I’m also very involved with Special Olympics Chicago and serve on the board of directors.
Brian Noe – NBC Sports Northwest, Rip City Radio, Portland / FOX Sports Radio
Might as well include myself, right? I’ve played guitar for half of my life. I used to play in a heavy metal band in LA and have performed at the Whiskey. Although metal is my favorite, my minor in college was classical guitar. I played a handful of classical pieces during my sister’s wedding. When a classical piece ended too soon while playing in my good friend J’s wedding, I played the middle part of “To Live Is To Die” by Metallica. It worked well in a pinch.
One of the most random facts about me is that I keep a stuffed animal in my computer bag when doing radio shows. It’s a little bear wearing a karate outfit that was a family gift named Tae-Kwon-Noe. I tossed him in my bag many years ago so I didn’t feel alone while performing away from home. That sound you hear is my street cred grinding to a screeching halt, but I really don’t care. That’s my little homie and he reminds me of my family who I love dearly.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.