Former Los Angeles Raiders defensive end Howie Long once gave a memorable description of his distinctively uncommon teammate Todd Christensen. Long said on NFL Network’s America’s Game, “Well, Noah takes them all on the boat. We’ll take two of them, two of them, but we only got one of him.” Christensen’s personality stood out. A similar description would fittingly apply to the uniquely talented Petros Papadakis — a broadcaster that is easily identifiable and truly one of a kind.
As a successful football commentator and sports radio host, Petros brings a different flavor to the table. His style is outgoing and energetic, but it’s much more distinctive than that. It’s a signature concoction of random and unpredictable, immature yet intelligent. Petros is similar to a band that doesn’t quite fit into one specific musical category. He’s his own genre.
Petros and Matt “Money” Smith showcase their unconventional form each weekday starting at 3pm PT on AM 570 LA Sports. For as loud as “stick-to-sports” guy is, the successful run of The Petros and Money Show is proof that there are many sports talk listeners that prefer more than just hardcore sports talk. Petros details the moment he realized there are people that respond to radio that isn’t conventional. He also uses an intriguing word to describe the relationship he has with his radio show. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: What do you enjoy most about being behind a microphone — either as a sports radio host or as a football commentator?
Petros Papadakis: I guess I enjoy certain things about both. Calling a game is really different from doing the show in a lot of regards. A lot of the show is about me being me — my interpretation of things and stupid stuff about my life.
That’s not what a game is for, at least in my estimation. Some broadcasts might treat it differently, but when we have a game on the air it’s a good time to celebrate the young guys that are playing, the area, the schools, and the whole spectacle that goes into putting on a college football game.
You’ve got the announcers — we have these self-important guys that we send cars for. They send cars for us; you should send a car for the camera guy. (Laughs) It’s funny to me. You always hear all these stories about these diva announcers and how this guy needs his pillow fluffed and this guy needs his private jet gassed up and ready. It’s like my God. I watch the game on mute. I can’t stand most of these guys. (Laughs) I can’t stand hearing myself.
I enjoy being more economical doing the games because the radio is obviously not that way. We’ve got to pedal that bike and if you stop pedaling it just falls over. I guess that’s the difference. I enjoy both. I enjoy getting it all out on the radio. When you’ve done it as long as we have it becomes part of what your life is. I know maybe that sounds really entitled, but you feel like that afternoon is your time to be that guy. It gets very hard to live without the radio show. It’s really hard for me to let go of it, which is why I take very little vacation because it’s like an obsession I guess.
BN: If you had to pick one and not do the other, which do you think you would miss more: sports radio or commentating?
PP: Oh, radio because it’s a daily thing. When you do college games, you do 14 events a year. That’s it. It really is 14 weeks because you live the week. You do conference calls. You’re in touch with people. You’re in touch with production. You travel and you meet and do all that stuff. Nobody sees that. The radio, it just plays out every day. It’s a really personal relationship. It’s always amazed me in a way — and I don’t consider myself to be a celebrity or famous even locally — but people that recognize you from the radio, especially, they just feel connected to you, like you’re part of their lives. They know you. The truth is they do and you are a part of their life. Even though you don’t know them, they know you. That’s a really kind of cool, personal relationship that I’ve always been amazed by.
The intimate level of relationship with somebody that you don’t know, I almost liken it to — and this is another thing that amazed me — it’s been a long time since I played football. I kind of impersonate an ex-football player when I call football games. If I see a guy that I played against at some point when we were in college, there’s this weird camaraderie where you hug each other. I don’t even know the guy, but you come across each other after having played football and trying to kill each other back in the late ‘90s, and you have this weird kind of strange connection. The only other time I’ve experienced that in my life is with radio listeners. It’s interesting having all these weird, unknown friends around the city.
BN: I love that word you used where you said doing radio is like an obsession. When do you think it became that way for you?
PP: There was a producer at 1540 The Ticket when I had my first show. I had no idea how to fill the time. It was hard for me. I’m not naturally a guy that wants to sit down and talk about sports — the kind of sports that people talked about on sports talk radio back then. Like so-and-so is injured and somebody would call and ask you about the Kansas City Royals lineup and you’d be like uhhh. (Laughs) What everybody was doing in sports talk radio, I did not know how to do sincerely.
I was struggling, or at least it felt like I was struggling. One day I came to work — this guy’s name was Craig Larson — and he said we’re going to sing a song. We produced a parody song. We obviously aren’t the first people ever to do that in radio, but we did a parody song about Lamar Odom to “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. Instead of you got to know when to hold them, it was you got to know Lamar Odom, he rolls blunts and smokes ‘em. In third grade he was 11.
People called in and reacted to the song. Once we started doing that I realized that I could make it whenever I wanted. People responded to stuff that just wasn’t super conventional. That station was a little too small to stop me. (Laughs) I felt like I had something going creatively. Then Don Martin just let me do it. Don has always been hands off and let us do the show.
The only weird part about it is — I started doing daily radio in my early 20s and there’s still a lot of me that acts like I’m in my early 20s on the air now. I don’t act like that in my real life, but there’s a certain lack of maturity that people expect from me on the air. It’s like a place where I’ve never really grown up in some senses. It’s like my never-never land. I feel like it’s that way for Matt too. I mean my God, Matt’s 46, I’m 42, and we’re still there doing rap lyrics and jumping around like idiots, throwing stuff at each other, and taking shots.
BN: You guys have such a good mix where it can be off the rails, or you can have regular sports conversations at times. What’s your general approach to mapping out a show when you bring those two very different elements to the table?
PP: Well, we’ve done it for so long that it’s kind of an unspoken thing I’d have to say. We make space for each other to do what the other guy wants to do in a certain spot every day. The rest of it we fill in the blanks. A lot of those blanks I fill in just acting stupid. I think both of us know when to steer it back to whatever the middle is. The one thing I think I really try to avoid is that I don’t ever want to be seen as taking myself too seriously doing this work.
I guess the older I get, the more disillusioned I kind of am with what passes off as entertainment on the radio. (Laughs) I’m not much of a fan of the genre I guess is a good way to put it. There are a lot of people I respect that do the job, it’s just not for me the way they do it. I don’t ever like detaching myself from how hard it is to play sports at a high level. The way people talk about it like, “That guy sucks.” It’s like, dude, most of the time that guy’s pretty f***ing good. Trust me, that guy can f***ing play.
I did 10 years in the booth with Barry Tompkins. Barry was 50 years older than me and still is. Actually we’re going to reunite and do the state championships on Spectrum in a couple of weeks.
BN: Oh, that’s cool.
PP: Yeah, it’ll be fun. God, Barry’s got to be 80 now. We worked together a long time, but he was older and he’d been through the wars. He wasn’t as attached to the game in some ways. After 10 years they put me on the sideline. I got back down on the field and saw the players and smelled all the smells and listened to the sport. I did sidelines for Joel Klatt and Craig Bolerjack, championship games, and Gus Johnson’s crew. I did that for a few years and it really pulled me back into how hard it is to play the sport. I try not to detach myself from that as a commentator. It helps me be a little bit more balanced doing the job.
BN: What area do you think that you and Money have grown the most in over the years?
PP: That’s a good question. I feel like such an immature idiot on the radio. I think we just understand each other better. It’s a little easier to have perspective day-to-day. I used to be bothered about things that happened, or didn’t happen, or what we should have done, or this or that. It’d keep me up at night. I think both of us, probably him a lot earlier than me — because he’s got a daughter in college now while I’m still fighting with two-year-olds here — I think just letting the show be whatever it is and moving on to the next day. I think we’ve gotten a lot better at that. And just more polished too.
Our producer is really special. It enables us to do a lot of different things and a lot of in-the-moment things that we probably wouldn’t normally be able to do. It requires a great deal of attention in the moment because there’s a lot of the show that’s just improvisational. You really do have to be able to move and shake and be creative in your own way; take some chances. Tim Cates does a great job of that.
BN: If you go back to the beginning, how did you break into sports radio?
PP: A guy named Mark Huska hired me at FOX to do the SoCal Sports Report opposite Matt Stevens. USC was a pretty big story in town. They just fired my coach Paul Hackett. I didn’t really have any plans to do media, but I had done a good deal of interviews when I was the captain at SC. Somehow they got USC to hire me as one of those — like what Max Browne is doing now — pre and post radio.
The first year I did TV two or three times a week in the studio at FOX with Todd Donoho. I did radio from the studio or from the Coliseum on Saturdays. I had no idea what I was doing. USC had a contract with this very small radio station that Mike Garrett negotiated called 1540 The Ticket. It was a third radio station launching in town. They didn’t have a lot of structure or anything.
Very soon I had my own show. I had a show with Mark Willard. I didn’t get along with him very well. I just did not enjoy being his radio partner and I think it really set me back because it made me very combative early in my career. I got really protective and really closed off to some things. I hate to blame Mark for that, but he was a very difficult personality for me. Some people I get along with very well, you know? (Laughs) Let’s just put it like this, he was the opposite of who I wanted to be on the radio.
I was able to wrestle myself away from him and I just had my own show. It kind of went from there. With the USC stuff, I went from doing pre and post to the next year I became their sideline guy. I did that job till 2003. The Leinart Rose Bowl beating Michigan was my last SC game. Then I started doing the Pac-10 Game of the Week in ‘04, which was FOX’s national package at that time. It was on all their regionals. I was in the booth with Barry by the time I was like 26, 27. Then I did that for 10 years. I had no idea what was happening in any of those jobs. I feel like just now I’m starting to really grasp doing color on TV. I don’t know how I pulled it off since ‘04.
BN: With everything you’ve been able to accomplish, is there anything that stands out the most to you?
PP: I consider it a privilege to be able to do the games and tell those stories on TV. I’m grateful to FOX for allowing me to do it for this long — same with the radio. We have a lot of fun on the radio and whatever the line is that’s drawn in the sand, we still really enjoy doing it. So I’m really just grateful for those things. The one thing that kind of surprises me is just how long I’ve been able to fool everybody. I’ve worked bigger games, but I kind of like doing the level of game that I do. (Laughs)
I’m not one of those guys that was like I’m going to be the number one analyst. I’ve never really been that guy. I guess that’s one of my bigger flaws is I’m not the most ambitious guy out there. The guy that hired me at FOX way back in the day still acts as my kind of manager. I never went with any agency or anything like that. Now he’s an executive producer on the Tennis Channel and he still has to negotiate my contracts and stuff. I guess that’s probably one of the things that’s a little bit more unique about me — sometimes people try to hire me for work and they’re like “I could not get ahold of you.” I’m like “don’t you have the secret textoso line?” (Laughs)
BN: What do you think has been really helpful for you as a sports radio host or a commentator that you figured out on your own?
PP: On my own? Gosh, I’m a slow learner. I guess just a certain level of excitement is one of those things. You have to kind of be your own blocker. You have to act like you care about what you’re talking about almost to a level where you sound absurd, but not in an insincere way, just kind of a fun way. That’s one thing I’ve always figured out.
The other thing — and this applies to a football game or any kind of game on TV, or really any kind of show, and certainly on a radio show — is whether people listen for five minutes or they listen to the whole three hours, it’s got to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s got to be like a story. Whether you do that with music, or in the beginning you introduce everybody, in the middle you let it play out, in the end you go more big picture.
People used to say that to me — not that I really figured it out on my own — production people used to say that to me and I didn’t really understand what it meant. Now I sort of do. It’s really just more of a feel. The better feel you have for that as a broadcaster or somebody who’s shaping a show, somebody in production, the more naturally things just come to you.
BN: What other good advice have you gotten that helps you?
PP: Less is more. That’s written on the wall at FOX. (Laugh)
BN: Do you have that tattooed yet?
PP: No, but I should because it’s hard for me obviously. Less is more; you don’t have to drown everybody with everything all the time. Some of the top broadcasters in the world do it. Just because you researched it and wrote it down doesn’t mean it has to fit into the show. You have to discern when and where to use it. People don’t need to feel like you’re exponentially smarter than them. They just need to feel like you’re a little bit more well-informed than them and they’ll listen to you. They don’t need to feel like you are the guy from A Beautiful Mind.
Brian Noe is a columnist for BSM and an on-air host heard nationwide each weekend on FOX Sports Radio. Previous roles include stops in Portland, OR, Albany, NY and Fresno, CA. You can follow him on Twitter @TheNoeShow or email him at email@example.com.
The Future Is Now, Embrace Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+
As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible.
This week has been a reckoning for sports and its streaming future on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, ESPN+, and more.
Amazon announced that Thursday Night Football, which averaged 13 million viewers, generated the highest number of U.S. sign ups over a three hour period in the app’s history. More people in the United States subscribed to Prime during the September 15th broadcast than they did during Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday. It was also “the most watched night of primetime in Prime Video’s history,” according to Amazon executive Jay Marine. The NFL and sports in general have the power to move mountains even for some of the nation’s biggest and most successful brands.
This leads us to the conversation happening surrounding Aaron Judge’s chase for history. Judge has been in pursuit of former major leaguer Roger Maris’ record for the most home runs hit during one season in American League history.
The sports world has turned its attention to the Yankees causing national rights holders such as ESPN, Fox, and TBS to pick up extra games in hopes that they capture the moment history is made. Apple TV+ also happened to have a Yankees game scheduled for Friday night against the Red Sox right in the middle of this chase for glory.
Baseball fans have been wildin’ out at the prospects of missing the grand moment when Judge passes Maris or even the moments afterwards as Judge chases home run number 70 and tries to truly create monumental history of his own. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand has even reported there were talks between YES, MLB, and Apple to bring Michael Kay into Apple’s broadcast to call the game, allow YES Network to air its own production of the game, or allow YES Network to simulcast Apple TV+’s broadcast. In my opinion, all of this hysteria is extremely bogus.
As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible. Amazon brought in NBC to help with production of TNF and if you watch the flow of the broadcast, the graphics of the broadcast, NBC personalities like Michael Smith, Al Michaels, and Terry McAuliffe make appearances on the telecast – it is very clear that the network’s imprint is all over the show.
NBC’s experience in conducting the broadcast has made the viewing experience much more seamless. Apple has also used MLB Network and its personalities for assistance in ensuring there’s no major difference between what you see on air vs. what you’re streaming.
Amazon and Apple have also decided to not hide their games behind a paywall. Since the beginning of the season, all of Apple’s games have been available free of charge. No subscription has ever been required. As long as you have an Apple device and can download Apple TV+, you can watch their MLB package this season.
Guess what? Friday’s game against the Red Sox is also available for free on your iPhone, your laptop, or your TV simply by downloading the AppleTV app. Amazon will also simulcast all Thursday Night Football games on Twitch for free. It may be a little harder or confusing to find the free options, but they are out there and they are legal and, once again, they are free.
Apple has invested $85 million into baseball, money that will go towards your team becoming better hypothetically. They’ve invested money towards creating a new kind of streaming experience. Why in the hell would they offer YES Network this game for free? There’s no better way for them to drive subscriptions to their product than by offering fans a chance at watching history on their platform.
A moment like this are the main reason Apple paid for rights in the first place. When Apple sees what the NFL has done for Amazon in just one week and coincidentally has the ability to broadcast one of the biggest moments in baseball history – it would be a terrible business decision to let viewers watch it outside of the Apple ecosystem and lose the ability to gain new fans.
It’s time for sports fans to grow up and face reality. Streaming is here to stay.
MLB Network is another option
If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of watching the Yankees take on the Red Sox for free on Apple TV+, MLB Network will also air all of Judge’s at bats live as they are happening. In case the moment doesn’t happen on Apple TV+ on Friday night, Judge’s next games will air in full on MLB Network (Saturday), ESPN (Sunday), MLB Network again (Monday), TBS (Tuesday) and MLB Network for a third time on Wednesday. All of MLB Network’s games will be simulcast of YES Network’s local New York broadcast. It wouldn’t shock me to see Fox pick up another game next Thursday if the pursuit still maintains national interest.
- One of the weirdest things about the experience of streaming sports is that you lose the desire to channel surf. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Brandon Ross of LightShed Ventures wonders if the difficulty that comes with going from app to app will help Amazon keep viewers on TNF the entire time no matter what the score of the game is. If it does, Amazon needs to work on developing programming to surround the games or start replaying the games, pre and post shows so that when you fall asleep and wake up you’re still on the same stream on Prime Video or so that coming to Prime Video for sports becomes just as much of a habit for fans as tuning in to ESPN is.
- CNN has announced the launch of a new morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. Variety reports, “Two people familiar with plans for the show say it is likely to use big Warner Bros. properties — a visit from the cast of HBO’s Succession or sports analysis from TNT’s NBA crew — to lure eyeballs.” It’ll be interesting to see if Turner Sports becomes a cornerstone of this broadcast. Will the NBA start doing schedule releases during the show? Will a big Taylor Rooks interview debut on this show before it appears on B/R? Will the Stanley Cup or Final Four MVP do an interview on CNN’s show the morning after winning the title? Does the show do remote broadcasts from Turner’s biggest sports events throughout the year?
- The Clippers are back on over the air television. They announced a deal with Nexstar to broadcast games on KTLA and other Nexstar owned affiliates in California. The team hasn’t reached a deal to air games on Bally Sports SoCal or Bally Sports Plus for the upcoming season. Could the Clippers pursue a solo route and start their own OTT service in time for the season? Are they talking to Apple, Amazon, or ESPN about a local streaming deal? Is Spectrum a possible destination? I think these are all possibilities but its likely that the Clippers end up back on Bally Sports since its the status quo. I just find it interesting that it has taken so long to solidify an agreement and that it wasn’t announced in conjunction with the KTLA deal. The Clippers are finally healthy this season, moving into a new arena soon, have the technology via Second Spectrum to produce immersive game casts. Maybe something is brewing?
- ESPN’s Monday Night Football double box was a great concept. The execution sucked. Kudos to ESPN for adjusting on the fly once complaints began to lodge across social media. I think the double box works as a separate feed. ESPN2 should’ve been the home to the double box. SVP and Stanford Steve could’ve held a watch party from ESPN’s DC studio with special guests. The double box watch party on ESPN2 could’ve been interrupted whenever SVP was giving an update on games for ESPN and ABC. It would give ESPN2 a bit of a behind the scenes look at how the magic happens similarly to what MLB Tonight did last week. Credit to ESPN and the NFL for experimenting and continuing to try and give fans unique experiences.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
ESPN Shows Foresight With Monday Night Football Doubleheader Timing
ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7 and then 10 on their primary channel.
The Monday Night Football doubleheader was a little bit different this time around for ESPN.
First, it came in Week 2 instead of Week 1. And then, the games were staggered 75 minutes apart on two different channels, the Titans and Bills beginning on ESPN at 7:15 PM ET and the Vikings at the Eagles starting at 8:30 PM on ABC and ESPN+. This was a departure from the usual schedule in which the games kicked off at 7:00 PM ET and then 10:00 PM ET with the latter game on the West Coast.
ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7:00 PM and then 10:00 PM ET on their primary channel. That’s the typical approach, right? The NFL is the most valuable offering in all of sports and ESPN would have at least six consecutive hours of live programming without any other game to switch to.
Instead, they staggered the starts so the second game kicked off just before the first game reached halftime. They placed the games on two different channels, which risked cannibalizing their audience. Why? Well, it’s the same reason that ESPN was so excited about the last year’s Manningcast that it’s bringing it back for 10 weeks this season. ESPN is not just recognizing the reality of how their customers behave, but they’re embracing it.
Instead of hoping with everything they have that the customer stays in one place for the duration of the game, they’re recognizing the reality that they will leave and providing another product within their portfolio to be a destination when they do.
It’s the kind of experiment everyone in broadcasting should be investigating because, for all the talk about meeting the customer where they are, we still tend to be a little bit stubborn about adapting to what they do.
Customers have more choices than ever when it comes to media consumption. First, cable networks softened the distribution advantages of broadcast networks, and now digital offerings have eroded the distribution advantages of cable networks. It’s not quite a free-for-all, but the battle for viewership is more intense, more wide open than ever because that viewer has so many options of not just when and where but how they will consume media.
Programmers have a choice in how to react to this. On the one hand, they can hold on tighter to the existing model and try to squeeze as much out of it as they can. If ESPN was thinking this way it would stack those two Monday night games one after the other just like it always has and hope like hell for a couple of close games to juice the ratings. Why would you make it impossible for your customer to watch both of these products you’ve paid so much to televise?
I’ve heard radio programmers and hosts recite take this same approach for more than 10 years now when it comes to making shows available on-demand. Why would you give your customers the option of consuming the product in a way that’s not as remunerative or in a way that is not measured?
That thinking is outdated and it is dangerous from an economic perspective because it means you’re trying to make the customer behave in your best interest by restricting their choices. And maybe that will work. Maybe they like that program enough that they’ll consume it in the way you’d prefer or maybe they decide that’s inconvenient or annoying or they decide to try something else and now this customer who would have listened to your product in an on-demand format is choosing to listen to someone else’s product entirely.
After all, you’re the only one that is restricting that customer’s choices because you’re the only one with a desire to keep your customer where he is. Everyone else is more than happy to give your customer something else.
There’s a danger in holding on too tightly to the existing model because the tighter you squeeze, the more customers will slip through your fingers, and if you need a physical demonstration to complete this metaphor go grab a handful of sand and squeeze it hard.
Your business model is only as good as its ability to predict the behavior of your customers, and as soon as it stops doing that, you need to adjust that business model. Don’t just recognize the reality that customers today will exercise the freedom that all these media choices provide, embrace it.
Offer more products. Experiment with more ways to deliver those products. The more you attempt to dictate the terms of your customer’s engagement with your product, the more customers you’ll lose, and by accepting this you’ll open yourself to the reality that if your customer is going to leave your main offering, it’s better to have them hopping to another one of your products as opposed to leaving your network entirely.
Think in terms of depth of engagement, and breadth of experience. That’s clearly what ESPN is doing because conventional thinking would see the Manningcast as a program that competes with the main Monday Night Football broadcast, that cannibalizes it. ESPN sees it as a complimentary experience. An addition to the main broadcast, but it also has the benefit that if the customer feels compelled to jump away from the main broadcast – for whatever reason – it has another ESPN offering that they may land on.
I’ll be watching to see what ESPN decides going forward. The network will have three Monday Night Football doubleheaders beginning next year, and the game times have not been set. Will they line them up back-to-back as they had up until this year? If they do it will be a vote of confidence that its traditional programming approach that evening is still viable. But if they overlap those games going forward, it’s another sign that less is not more when it comes to giving your customers a choice in products.
Danny O’Neil is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously hosted morning and afternoon drive for 710 ESPN Seattle, and served as a reporter for the Seattle Times. He can be reached on Twitter @DannyOneil or by email at Danny@DannyOneil.com.
Media Noise: Sunday Ticket Has Problems, Marcellus Wiley Does Not
On this episode of Media Noise, Demetri is joined by Brian Noe to talk about the wild year FS1’s Marcellus Wiley has had and by Garrett Searight to discuss the tumultuous present and bright future of NFL Sunday Ticket.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at DemetriTheGreek@gmail.com.