Jason McIntyre Always Wants Forward Momentum
“I’m in no rush. I’m having fun. I’m learning practically every day from some of the best in the business.”
Some people are scared to say something unpopular. FOX Sports Radio and FS1 host Jason McIntyre is not one of these people. His style doesn’t resemble a conservative play-caller in football. It’s more like the rapper Bone Crusher repeating, “I ain’t never scared,” from his 2003 hit song. Jason doesn’t operate a dink-and-dunk offense on the sports radio airwaves. He slings it, takes chances, and is aggressive. He’s a fearless host that will gladly face the listeners he riles up.
There is often a misperception that a strongly opinionated and unapologetic host has to be a bit of a wild card — a loose cannon comparable to a rabid dog. This definitely isn’t the case with Jason. He’s a very nice guy who is also incredibly smart. It isn’t a requirement to be a jerk in order to produce strong stances. Jason is like a pitcher delivering some sweet chin music to a hitter only to then tip his cap and wish his competition a nice day.
As the previous owner of The Big Lead, Jason points out some interesting parallels between the sports blog and sports radio. He also talks about his days of owning the site anonymously. As a guy who has already accomplished a lot and loves to challenge himself to reach new heights, it’ll be fun to keep track of what Jason accomplishes next. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: What gives you the most enjoyment as a sports broadcaster?
Jason McIntyre: One of the big things in our industry, you know this, you have to be fearless. You can’t care what people are going to say about your take or your opinion. It does feel good when you’re out on a limb, out on the ledge saying something like, listen, I don’t want to be in the Odell Beckham business. If I were the Giants I would trade him. And all these Giants fans — “You’re an idiot! He’s so good.”
What happens like two months later? They trade him. Now the Browns after one year, “I don’t know we might move on.” Now the recent Odell Beckham mishap. It’s like come on; you couldn’t see these things coming from a mile away? But people are kind of nervous and scared to go out and say something unpopular.
I had the same thing with Baker Mayfield. His rookie year, I’ll never forget they were playing the Jets and they win the game. Baker was tremendous, he comes off the field and what’s he doing? He’s looking at his cell phone. Huge win. That’s the first thing you’re doing before you do any interviews? You’re looking at your cell phone.
I had been saying this guy’s out there. He likes to read social media and favorite comments by people. He’s favorited stuff I’ve said on FOX Sports Radio. He uses that as ammunition. You’ve got to have that inner drive to be better, not I want to get back at Joe in Milwaukee who said this about me. I just think that’s the wrong attitude. He’s so into the social media, it kind of scares me. What happened to Baker Mayfield this year? He was atrocious. I’m not picking on the Cleveland Browns here or anything. I’m just saying the idea of being fearless and going out there on the ledge all alone on an island and turning out to be right, it feels like you’re in a good place, like you’re not afraid of anything.
BN: What’s the biggest challenge for you as a broadcaster?
JM: One of the issues that I’ve found — and again I’m pretty new to this stuff. I’ve only been in radio for I think four years. I did one year at Yahoo! Sports Radio and then my agent parlayed that into FOX. Then I came out to do the TV stuff for FS1. I would say the one thing is just being consistent across the board. If one day I’ve got to do a video for FOX on NFL picks, the next day I’m going on Lock It In, then I’m going on the radio, you kind of change your mind. It’s tough to be like, yes, I think this is going to be the score on Tuesday. Then new information comes out like injuries. Oh, I kind of changed my mind a little bit. Then you see by Saturday morning, hey, all the money is on one side. Whoa, maybe I need to change my mind.
I guess it’s a good thing because I’m not afraid to admit I was wrong. You’re going to be wrong a lot. I’m on the wrong side of this. There’s new information presented to me. You know that as a host. You might do your Portland show and talk about breaking news and then boom within the next five days a whole new narrative emerges and you go on your radio show on FOX and you say, listen, I got it wrong the first time. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think the biggest challenge is being consistent. A lot of guys, they don’t want to admit when they’re wrong. Me? I have no problem.
BN: Which is better — to come right out with honesty and say, I really don’t know how this game is going to play out, or just pick a side and almost make yourself believe that’s the way it’s going to go?
JM: Yeah, that’s a tough one because you can’t do a segment on TV where you just come on and say I have no idea. You can’t. They’ll just be like, all right, well we’ll find someone who can. That’s the reality. You have to have an opinion. That’s why you’re here. You got to this place because you are fearless. You’re not worried about being wrong and you have interesting opinions that are going to make people think.
BN: What’s something that you’ve carried over to sports radio from your days of owning The Big Lead?
JM: The best part of owning a website was you could see every 10 minutes, every 30 minutes, every hour what posts work and what doesn’t. You pretty quickly realize that, hey man, the NFL is super popular. It’s number one. The NBA is number two and then there is a huge drop off. There’s just not as much interest in terms of debatability or topics in baseball. There just isn’t. Now obviously the Houston Astros are a phenomenal story right now. I think that has potential, but I’m curious to see whether or not it drives traffic or if it’s a social media story.
I’m sure you’ve seen, Brian, there’s a colossal difference between what works on TV, what works on radio, what works on the internet, and then there’s social media. Because you know social media skews very left. People are easily outraged at anything. All these people would get worked up on social media, but then when it came to clicking on these stories, they didn’t. We saw a disconnect between stories that you have to read and social media where you can be flippant and have comments. I thought that was fascinating.
BN: How did you get your start in the beginning of your career?
JM: So I got out of college — this was of course before social media had popped — I get out of college and I wanted to work at a newspaper. My dream all along had been I want to cover the Lakers for a newspaper. I would have season tickets also, which made no sense, but that’s when you’re a little kid and you think, oh, Magic Johnson’s awesome and you want to be there. I got into newspapers and then about three years in I was on the staff with Adrian Wojnarowski and a couple other guys at the Bergen Record. It was just like wait a sec; this newspaper thing is starting to hit some walls here. The internet is starting to pop.
I’ll never forget I had a moment where I decided — let me buy my URL JasonMcIntyre.com. I’ll put my resume on there and my clips so I can get noticed around the country. I put that out there and one of my colleagues on staff sees it and reports me to the top guy. I get called into a glass office at the Bergen Record, “Jason, I don’t know if this is legal. You’re republishing our stories.”
I said how different is this than clipping out my stories from the newspaper and sending it to somebody? I’m not making any money off of this. What are you talking about? I realized at that point these are some old folks in the newspaper industry. They don’t get the internet. I need to get out of here.
I had left for a better job at Us Weekly magazine and lived in New York City. Within two years I started The Big Lead. It’s hard work. It’s luck. It’s a combination of a lot of factors. Everything lined up perfectly. My girlfriend at the time, who’s now my wife, had a good job so I was able to not make any money off the website for a good year after quitting my job. It was just like “This is where I want to be. This is perfect.” Then the next thing you know the website leads to TV and FS1 and the radio. It was a springboard to me being in sports and all this fun stuff.
BN: What were your big breaks while you were still running The Big Lead
JM: The big one was when Colin Cowherd was at ESPN. I don’t necessarily remember what was written, but it was something on The Big Lead. This was when it was anonymous by the way. Nobody knew I was running it. He read something and he’s like, wouldn’t it be great if we could just blow this website up? It just so happens that it was his first day replacing Tony Kornheiser and he had a lot of new listeners. All of these listeners went to the website and it was like a mom-and-pop shop back then. Our server was like in Romania for $27 a month. Super cheap, because I’m not spending tons of money. I didn’t really spend anything out of pocket to start the website. The website basically blew up. It was knocked offline.
NPR reached out to me and was like, hey, we want to interview you. “I’m like can I do it anonymously?” They’re like “No, you have to put your name on it.” I was like, “All right, I can’t talk to you guys.” But they still wrote about it. Then the ESPN ombudsman wrote about it and Cowherd got reprimanded. That was the one big one that kind of put me on the map.
The one after that was Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, who I’m sure you know him, does a lot in the media. He did the unmasking of me when I was ready to put my name on it. Once I started making money I was like, okay, I’ll put my name on it. I revealed that I was the guy behind it. Sports Illustrated wrote about it, which was very cool. Then I guess the third one would be when it sold. It was written about in The New York Times. My parents clipped it and framed it and all that fun stuff. That I think got the eyeballs of TV. I met with FOX, which turned into FS1 and then it went from there.
BN: Why were you so careful about not revealing that you were the guy running it?
JM: A couple things. Number one was I had the magazine job at Us Weekly. I didn’t think it would be a good look if posts were going up on the site as I’m sitting there in the office at Us Weekly or wherever I was reporting. I wasn’t really doing stuff while on the job. I would just wake up at 6am, listen to Howard Stern, and then set up like two or three posts. I would set them to post throughout the day. I was able to do both at the same time, which was nice.
The other aspect was I didn’t know where this was going. I think the fact that it was anonymous — there was like an air of mystery. Who the hell is this guy? Where is this guy getting his information? Of course you know how the media works, once you start writing about the media, they definitely want to be on your side because they’re afraid of you. I had all of these media guys reaching out to me trying to become friendly. I got to be friendly with some of them obviously. They would give tips and they would be like, oh, I heard this is happening at ESPN or at Sports Illustrated. Then that would become a story. Next thing you know it wasn’t just sports fans reading, it was the important people, the decision makers at magazines and TV and radio. I guess once you get the media and the fans it’s a big win.
BN: How did you become friends with Cowherd?
JM: Well it’s funny. After he did that whole blow-up thing, I guess maybe six months later was the Sports Illustrated reveal. Then six months later I had started doing interviews with media people, but more in-depth. I spent the day at the Big East Tournament with Jay Bilas and hung out with him. I was showing that I’m not just a guy who would do hot takes and media gossip, so I would do these longer form pieces.
I emailed ESPN for one of them. I was like, hey, can I come up and interview Cowherd? They reached out to Cowherd and Cowherd was like, “Oh yeah, that’s great.” Next thing you know I went up to Bristol for a night and hung out with Cowherd for the day. It was pretty incredible. I guess in a way he kind of liked or respected what I had built and that I was a normal guy.
Listen man, Brian you’re in radio, you meet some of these guys, and there are some strange individuals to say the least. I like to think of myself as a normal dude. I have a wife, kids, regular guy, and I guess he liked that and we just kind of got to be friendly.
BN: That’s cool, man. What would you consider to be your biggest strength and your biggest weakness as a sports radio host?
JM: I would say the strength we kind of covered a little bit, just a fearless mentality. I’m not afraid of anybody. If somebody’s going to come after me, whatever. Hey, you want to talk sports? That’s fine. Discuss other stuff? There’s no reason to be afraid of anyone. I’ve always had that mentality.
I play a lot of pickup basketball. I always want to guard the best guard on the other team. I want to challenge myself. I don’t want to guard some scrub. I’m not going to get better. Being fearless I think would be my biggest strength.
My weakness I guess I get too into sports sometimes if that’s possible. I know that’s kind of nerdy to say. I don’t like to focus on weaknesses. There are a lot of guys in the TV industry who basically are like, hey, this person can’t do this. My thought is who cares what they’re not good at? Focus on what they’re good at. It applies to sports. All these teams were like “I don’t want Lamar Jackson. He can’t do this.” The Baltimore Ravens said “No, no he can do this.” Then they basically built their franchise, their offense, around him and he’s the MVP of the league putting up historic stuff. I know they had a playoff stinker there, but he had like 500 yards of offense. I think that’s a mentality — don’t focus on the negatives, focus on what you do best and really hammer that and build off of it.
BN: What are some of your goals that you would really like to accomplish?
JM: Well we always want forward momentum in anything we do. I’ve been doing weekend radio for three or four years on FOX. I would love to have a five day a week show. I’ve been doing TV now at FS1 for three years. I’d love to have a daily show, but I’ve become a lot more patient. It could be living out here in L.A. I grew up in the Northeast. You may or may not know this, but in the Northeast you better be 15 minutes early if you want to be on time. Out here in L.A. it’s like you’re 30 minutes late, oh well, glad you showed up. You’re on time. It’s just totally different and a different speed.
I’ve gotten a lot better I think with just being patient and letting things come to you. You never want to force anything whether it’s a radio show you’re not ready for, or a TV show you’re not ready for because you’ve seen a lot of people really want things badly. They get it and what happens? It doesn’t end well for them quickly. I’m in no rush. I’m having fun. I’m learning practically every day from some of the best in the business. I’ll see Skip Bayless in the building and chat him up and learn something. I’ll see Cowherd. FOX has great executives. I love talking to Scott [Shapiro]. I had breakfast with Scott and Don [Martin] last year and learned a lot of stuff. I like those guys a lot. I’m just a sponge out here in the industry trying to get better every day as cheesy as that sounds.
Brian Noe is a columnist for BSM and an on-air host heard nationwide on FOX Sports Radio’s Countdown To Kickoff. 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.
Meet the Market Managers: David Yadgaroff, Audacy Philadelphia
“It’s hard to replace somebody as iconic as Angelo, who really lived and breathed his role, setting the agenda for the Philadelphia sports fan.”
David Yadgaroff doesn’t talk just to hear himself speak. He gets to the point and he does it quickly, whether he is telling you what he is thinking or he is answering your questions. That fact is evidenced by the length of this week’s entry to the Meet the Market Managers series presented by Point-to-Point Marketing.
It has been a wild ride for WIP over the last 18 months. Yadgaroff had to find a new PD, figure out the best way to send off the station’s iconic morning host, and launch new shows in two different day parts. In the middle of it all were World Series and Super Bowl runs to deal with, too.
Yadgaroff discusses all of it. He also makes time to weigh in on how he addresses Audacy’s stock issues with his staff, the climate of political advertising, and the best practices he has found for making sure advertisers are making the most of digital products.
Demetri Ravanos: Tell me about life since Angelo Cataldi retired. What has changed in terms of the atmosphere in the building?
David Yadgaroff: It’s a great question. It’s hard to replace somebody as iconic as Angelo, who really lived and breathed his role, setting the agenda for the Philadelphia sports fan. But we’re really proud of what Joe (DeCamara), Jon (Ritchie), James (Seltzer), and Rhea (Hughes) have done in the morning to deliver a show that’s fresh and new, but also lives up to the expectation that Angelo set.
The addition of Hugh Douglas to midday with Joe Giglio has been very fun, too, because Hugh is a great character and teammate, and fun around the office, as well as very compelling and entertaining radio.
DR: So I do want to circle back on Jon and Joe here in just a second, but I do wonder, because Angelo had sort of made some hints before he officially announced his retirement. At the time you were looking for a new program director, was his decision about when to call that a career something that ever came up as you were searching for Spike’s successor? Is it something candidates wanted to know about?
DY: Yeah, absolutely. Angelo was a great partner and expressed his interest in retiring. At that time, Spike had got promoted to New York, so we discussed the radio station as a whole. Angelo, obviously his brand was so closely tied to ours and ours so closely tied to his, he said that he’d do whatever we needed at the radio station to make the transition smooth. That is how we ended up with that last year where Angelo took Wednesdays off to give him a little bit of rest and peace as he finished out his agreement. Then, obviously, he wanted to remain on until the Eagles’ season finally ended, so we had the gift of having Angelo with us until February.
DR: Let’s circle back on Joe and Jon. They are obviously known commodities to WIP’s advertisers. The job of getting that particular population on board with those guys moving into mornings, it’s very different than getting listeners on board, right? So many of your advertisers are going to be on in multiple dayparts, whereas the listeners may only come in on their drive to work or on their drive home from work. I would imagine on the business side, this was a pretty smooth transition.
DY: Very smooth. We retained the vast majority of the legacy morning show advertisers, as well as retaining the advertisers that came from middays to mornings. The fresh perspective and excitement about the radio station helped drive more sales as well.
You think about the last 12 months of the radio station, Angelo is talking about his farewell, we’re doing a lot of fun stunts about that time, the Phillies postseason, the Eagles postseason, the farewell event, and officially the beginning of a new show that already was a fan favorite. Really, we are very fortunate to have been at the forefront of the sports media narrative in Philadelphia for quite some time.
DR: The elephant in the room when it comes to Audacy right now is what’s going on with the company’s stock price. I know you cannot give me specific answers, but I do wonder, as somebody that is charged with leading a cluster, you have so many people that you are responsible for. Do you find yourself having conversations where you’re talking to someone that assumes you have more answers than you actually do right now?
DY: Let me give you the general vibe. We have a very robust business with six radio stations creating a lot of multi-platform content, selling a lot of advertising, and doing fun things. So for our staff on this side of the building, it’s business as usual. We’re having success in many metrics and marching right along.
DR: The thing I wonder about that’s different for you than other Audacy stations is you literally share a space with Audacy Corporate.
DY: I run a culture of transparency and when things happen that are newsworthy, I make sure to address them. When things aren’t newsworthy, I try to reinforce our core business here, which is one that is very profitable and healthy.
DR: So last year was extraordinary sports-wise in Philadelphia. Tell me a bit about the new opportunities that were created for WIP, whether we’re talking about interest from new potential clients or an influx of new listeners.
DY: So WIP has the benefit of being the voice of the fan for decades. We talk a lot about the Eagles. Fans want to talk Eagles 52 weeks a year, and when the Eagles perform, there’s such enthusiasm and excitement. So, yes, I think we pick up new listeners and I know we pick up new advertisers to be part of that fun.
The Phillies’ season sort of picked up suddenly at the end. It was a much more concentrated and exciting time that everybody just got into from an advertising standpoint, analyst standpoint, and fan standpoint. It was a lot of excitement in a very short period of time.
DR: Given how much Audacy has embraced digital products and where we are in terms of consumption these days, everybody is so used to on-demand content. Nobody works on a station or network’s timetable anymore. Have you found any advertisers that are more interested in the on-demand product than the traditional radio broadcast?
DY: I don’t think there’s a general statement that describes everyone’s appetite. We focus our salespeople on trying to sell multi-platform campaigns through re-marketing. We find that the more things advertisers are invested in, the more connected they are with our business and the more success they have. All of our salespeople are cross-trained. Ultimately, we try to focus on what an advertiser needs and then make successful recommendations for them. There’s a lot of attention on WIP, so obviously they’re doing a nice job of that.
DR: Let’s talk about that cross-training as it relates to the stations in the cluster. I recently read this piece that said we are already on pace to see political advertising for the 2024 election cycle surpass what we spent in 2020. Last year, you guys have these two contentious elections inside of Pennsylvania. When it comes to revenue generation, has the fracture between the two parties been relatively good for business in radio? I mean, do you find that people that candidates are advertising further and further out from election day now?
DY: I think there’s two folds to that question. One is the TV advertising environment gets so toxic and nasty with political ads. It forces out transactional advertisers. That gives us the opportunity to put those advertisers on the radio. So that’s one part. The second part of it is, yes, candidates for PACs are spending more and they’re spending more frequently.
DR: I would imagine that KYW and WPHT see most of those buys in your cluster, but what about WIP? How much are those PACs and candidates and those campaigns looking to a format to spread their message where maybe the listener is not engaged in the political conversation 24 hours a day?
DY: I think the first thought is that stations like KYW and PHT do the best, but it really depends on the campaign and the issue and what their strategy is. I mean, there are some issues and campaigns that come down that they can only want to buy. WBEB And WOGL because they are looking for a suburban mom. So it really depends. I think political advertisers are a lot more strategic than they were years ago where they just bought news and news talk.
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.
5 Candidates For Saudi Sports Investment After LIV Golf, PGA Merger
“Don’t get me wrong. I am not rooting for any of this.”
The term sports washing gets thrown around a lot. It’s usually used accurately, but honestly, I think we give the practice more credit than it deserves. Was there ever a moment where you thought to yourself “The Saudi government can’t be all bad. Just look at LIV Golf!”?
LIV Golf was kind of a failure in the sports-washing realm. The organization had plenty of money, but the ratings and rhetoric all told the same story: that shit was a joke.
Then came Tuesday. Money changed hands. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan got his sweet deal and cushy new title and forgot his moral objections to Saudi blood money. Mike Francesa put it best: Saudi money is the future of golf.
Let’s play make-believe. Pretend you control the Saudi Public Investment Fund. You have just seen the narrative go from greedy, amoral golfers taking your blood money to now controlling everything about the sport on the professional level.
Why would you stop? Wouldn’t it make sense to see where else you could inject your influence into American popular culture using sports?
Make-believe over. Did that thought make you uncomfortable? Me too, but I think it is a reality we have to prepare for. Here are five sports investments the SPIF could make next.
1. COLLEGE SPORTS
That second A in NCAA stands for association. In reality, college sports are a confederacy. It is a group of schools and conferences that are only willing to work as a collective because they see individual benefits.
Rumors of the most powerful college football programs breaking away from the NCAA to govern themselves have existed for years. You can understand why Ohio State might be salty that it makes the same amount from the Big Ten’s massive TV deals that Iowa does. Saudi money could expedite the process.
Jay Bilas said earlier this year that he has heard a lot of grousing about the top schools in the top conferences wanting an alternative to the NCAA basketball tournament. If the SPIF could convince the likes of Kentucky, Duke, UConn and other bluebloods to bolt the NCAA, which tournament do you think broadcasters would be more interested in?
Is Disney really interested in spinning off ESPN? If so, the Saudi government may not have a better opportunity to do a little sports washing. Say whatever you want about the quality of the programming or the future of traditional cable subscriptions, wherever sports fans go, ESPN establishes a presence and leads the conversation.
Buying ESPN would give Saudi Arabia influence over all of its partners. It would have prime advertising space to hock tourism and investment opportunities.
Forget leagues or promotions. The biggest name in sports media makes for the biggest opportunity in sports washing.
Whether you have ever placed a bet or not, the US is a nation that bets on sports now. Individual states get to make that call for themselves, and that is why buying the market leader amongst mobile sportsbooks offers the SPIF a serious opportunity for influence.
Fanduel is going to be involved in discussions to legalize sports gambling in every single state. If the Saudis bought a controlling share of the book and its parent company Flutter, it could feasibly lobby politicians and set policy. It’s something the Saudis know how to do. Just ask the Trump Administration and Jared Kushner.
4. THE OLYMPICS
The International Olympic Committee is struggling to find countries and cities interested in hosting the games these days. The Internet has made everyone hip to the game. There is no way to justify the investment required to win an Olympic bid.
If Saudi Arabia wants to really use sports to reshape its age, why not buy the Olympics? Put the Winter Games in the same indoor facilities filled with synthetic snow and ice every four years. Put the Summer Games in the same sports village every four years. Make the whole endeavor an advertisement for Saudi Arabia.
This is the one that worries me the most, not because I am a soccer fan, but because there are so many different ways to do this. What if the SPIF poured billions into the MLS? Forget an aging Zlatan Ibrahimović or David Beckham. The SPIF could put enough money into the league to attract the likes of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé to come to the US right now while they are in their prime.
The Saudis could revive the idea of a European Super League. NBC has proven that Americans are genuinely interested in international leagues so long as they are easy and free to access.
The SPIF could also follow the same model I suggested for the Olympics and just buy the World Cup. Let FIFA keep their name on it and reap all the other benefits and it is one hell of an investment.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not rooting for any of this. There are plenty of objectionable characters involved in sports already. It just seems like an inevitability.
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.
Adam Amin Will Broadcast Whatever is in Front of Him
“That’s always kind of the goal eventually – to have one of those positions and maybe get a chance to be the voice of a sport in America.”
Adam Amin had never watched a game of water polo in his life, nor did he have any background information on how the sport was broadcast, let alone played. During his formative years in the industry though, eschewing opportunities to go on the air was simply not in his psyche. Amin wanted to stand out, and was willing to do anything it took to become familiar with a sport well enough to call it.
Three weeks after being asked about calling water polo, Amin was at Princeton University on the assignment. It came after considerable time spent reading about the sport, watching previous matches and having conversations with players, coaches and personnel. By the time he arrived, Amin felt like people could rely on him to deliver objective, factual coverage of the match.
“It forced me to expand my horizons and get out of a comfort zone and not just do football and basketball and baseball – the three sports I was most connected to,” Amin said. “You’ve got to learn how to do a lot of stuff because you want to show that you have those abilities, and you want to show that you can handle a lot of stuff not just to your employer, but to yourself.”
Through his years penetrating into sports media, Amin was watching others in the industry rapidly ascend. He put an immense amount of pressure on himself to avoid reaching a presumed nadir, especially one that proved insurmountable. Amin knew that he would need to prove himself with quality reps and a relentless work ethic.
Throughout his time at Valparaiso University, Amin became one of the country’s premier college broadcasters, and was duly named as a finalist for the prestigious Jim Nantz Award in 2009. With 250 games and two Indiana Collegiate Sportscaster of the Year honors in tow, Amin was ready to make the leap to the big leagues.
Amin’s dedication to college mediums and pre-professional endeavors cemented his career path. In his early years, he received additional repetitions calling Minor League Baseball games for the Gary SouthShore RailCats and Joliet JackHammers, along with high school volleyball championships on FOX Sports Wisconsin. Amin also worked with Turner Sports on its broadcast of the Division II National Championship in basketball with Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich. Amin was industrious and steadfast in striving to attain success in sports media – traits he retains today – and is willing to embrace being uncomfortable.
“I kind of tried to approach everything like that and tried to approach it meticulously… even though I was a scared 23-year-old kid working with Hall of Fame-type people. It felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, but we approached it as meticulously as possible and as professionally as possible.”
Amin relocated to Spirit Lake, Iowa to be the sports director of KUOO Radio. The area contains an assortment of high school sports, and family members often turned to the station to listen to their childrens’ events. It required an adjustment to the way Amin called games, focusing more on documenting the action and less on implementing analysis or critical points of view.
Aside from learning about the managerial niche of the industry, Amin learned how to cover wrestling matches, setting him up to call the NCAA wrestling championships on ESPN once he joined the network in 2011. The move to a national outlet was a seminal career milestone, but one that may not have happened without the help of a mentor and trusted friend, Ian Eagle.
Eagle was running a sports broadcasting camp with NBC 4 New York reporter Bruce Beck at the time, and they took their campers to a Somerset Patriots Minor League Baseball game. Amin was the voice of the Patriots for two seasons, and he was asked by Eagle to speak to the campers about his job and sports media as a whole. He was eager for the chance, but felt apprehensive in determining what to discuss and how it was going to go. After embracing the discomfort though, Amin felt good about himself and shadowed Eagle at an NFL game, providing him with invaluable insight and understanding into the world of television. Eagle has also listened to Adam Amin’s tapes and provided feedback, acting as a bonafide resource and sounding board.
“There was just so much sound, real, applicable advice that you only get from people that have that type of experience, and I carried a lot of that for a long time,” Amin said. “Any time I needed something, I would call him and he would answer a question.”
In joining ESPN, Amin was prescient that being willing to strive for versatility would aggrandize the level of his future assignments. Through calling water polo, wrestling and volleyball, Amin was asked to broadcast sports leagues with larger profiles.
“I look at my colleagues and my contemporaries – for the most part, they’re all multi-sport people,” Amin said. “That’s kind of how I came up in this business. I imagine that’s how they came up in this business before me. They were just taught that you should do everything. Your job as a broadcaster is to broadcast whatever’s in front of you.”
Through the years, Amin was on the call for the Women’s Final Four, college football games and the NBA Playoffs, but much of his initial prime time experience came on ESPN Radio. Amin called NFL games on the platform, as well as on Sports USA Radio, over the span of eight years and familiarized himself with the flow of a broadcast.
“Getting into that world of professional sports through radio, establishing contacts and then learning the sports themselves – the pacing and the speed of pro sports on the radio. You don’t really have a grasp of [that] until you get a chance to do it,” Amin expressed. “Radio, for me, was such an incredible training ground. It was where I learned how to fine-tune, and now all those lessons that I learned are still applicable even just doing, for the most part, TV today.”
Throughout his time at ESPN though, Amin felt extensive internal pressure regarding meeting his own goals. There was a metaphorical ticking clock in the back of his mind relating to the arc of his career, and he established checkpoints abound to ensure he was on the right track, at least how he defined it.
Yet there are circumstances and situations outside of one’s control, and a part of sports media involves simply being in the right place at the right time. While he regrets adopting this mindset, he ponders whether or not he should have assuaged it and focused more on the fundamentals rather than the specific chances themselves.
“Perfection is a good thing to strive for, but it’s a bad thing to hold in high regard because it’s not achievable,” Amin said. “That still bothers me to this day if I make those little mistakes, and I’m motivated to not make those little mistakes, but I also know that at some point, you have to have confidence in yourself and what you’re doing and the work that you put in.”
Amin ultimately exited ESPN at the conclusion of his contract in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and signed on to become the television voice of the Chicago Bulls. He grew up watching those great Bulls in the 1990s with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Now, he would be replacing the man who called five of the six championships during that era, Neil Funk, heightening expectations and only adding to the duress of being part of the soundtrack of his hometown team.
“There’s a lot of kids who grew up like me who loved the team and grew up rooting for them and would do anything to have this type of position,” Amin said.
Amin quickly resumed broadcasting games nationally as well when he signed on with FOX Sports. There, he has had more of a fixated broadcast crew, allowing him to become familiar with his colleagues and establish an on-air chemistry. In continuing to broadcast games locally at the same time, he takes precedence after a majority of accomplished play-by-play announcers. The difference, in his opinion, is that he is still trying to find the ideal, winning formula in adjusting for each specific broadcast.
“The challenging part of it is still trying to balance a certain level of ‘homerism’ with still toeing this line of not neutrality,” Amin said. “I don’t think you’re ever truly neutral no matter what if you work for a team because you’re just connected and you want ‘your team’ to win. That’s a challenge, but I think it’s more of a challenge because not every fan is going to be in lockstep with how I call a game.”
Although he is the television voice of the Bulls, Amin does not hesitate to praise the opponents for outstanding feats or achievements on the court. He describes himself as someone who is easily impressed and excitable, but does his best to control the urge to exclaim and does so in moderation. In the end, Amin’s goal is to give viewers and listeners a vivid and accurate description that enables them to live vicariously and feel the highs and lows of a given contest.
At the same time, Amin wants to be an “easy listen,” which means recognizing his role in the broadcast and the charisma of his colleague, Bulls color commentator Stacey King.
Aside from bringing the perspective of a former player, King has several sagacious and witty catchphrases used to enhance the broadcast and emphasize different aspects of the game. He is a voice Bulls fans have come to know and trust. Amin knows not to, nor does he desire to, overstep his bounds and take the spotlight. Neither man is the center of attraction, instead directing the viewers to recognize and celebrate the talent of the players on the court.
The same goes for when Amin is in the broadcast booth for FOX Sports calling the action on the gridiron. Amin, who is joined by color commentator Mark Schlereth and reporter Kristina Pink, has worked on NFL on FOX broadcasts for the last three seasons, and gradually became more comfortable in the role.
While most sports fans and personalities were loathing the absence of fans at games during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amin used the unprecedented occurrence to his advantage. Because of this, he felt an alleviated sense of pressure and more freedom to experiment.
“It was so awkward – the silence; this weird, eerie silence at times,” Amin disclosed. “It helped us get closer – all the people I worked with – we became closer because of it because we were [all] in this kind of strange circumstance.”
Once fans were able to attend games again, Amin and his colleagues felt they had cultivated a strong chemistry that gave them the ability to broadcast the games in the way they best see fit. For instance, Amin tries to let Schlereth expound on points of analysis pertaining to the offensive line since he played there professionally.
Similarly for MLB on FOX national games, Amin pays attention to what his analyst A.J. Pierzynski does outside of the game. This year, Pierzynski began hosting a podcast called Foul Territory with Erik Kratz and Scott Braun. The show recently had a discussion about the race to 60 home runs between New York sluggers Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso, and Amin decided to talk about it, unscripted, on a recent live game broadcast.
“It’s just a nice way to get people comfortable, and that’s when you make your little jokes or you try to bring the personality out,” Amin said. “They’re much more open to that because they know they can trust you. They can trust that you’re not going to put them in a bad position. You’re not trying to make them look foolish or something. They know that you’re trying to make them shine, and that’s really, really, really important to me.”
Adam Amin considers himself fortunate to have compiled a laundry list of unforgettable moments in the industry and has lofty goals, which include calling the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals. He is thoroughly enjoying his current roles at the same time, normalizing his schedule with time to spend with family and friends, but never losing sight of what it took to get here.
“I’ve worked really hard to try to get to a point where I’ll maybe be in a position to call one of these big events down the line one day,” Amin said. “That’s always kind of the goal eventually – to have one of those positions and maybe get a chance to be the voice of a sport in America. That’s still a prestigious thing, and that’s still an important role.”
Some people delineate sports media as a gauntlet, and many parents advise progeny to take up more sustainable professions. There is a misnomer, however, attributed to just what persistence and unrelenting self-efficacy can engender, apropos to new technologies and unforeseen capabilities. Amin has taken full advantage of the landscape, and aims to perpetually redefine the height of his career apex.
“Everybody kind of creates their own path, and I think if you can stay centered in yourself and just try to focus on the things that are going to make the broadcast great and the show great so you and your teammates feel proud of what you do, that really goes a long way,” Amin said. “I know it sounds a little bit hackneyed or a little bit saccharin, but I really have come to believe that in the double-digit years I’ve done this at the national level.”
Derek Futterman is a contributing editor and sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.