Steve Czaban Will Go Until They Take His Guitar Away
“It’s tough to just be there breaking balls, backslapping, doing what is the normal course of sports radio when the whole world has gone sideways.”
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson once said on Howard Beck’s podcast that experience is the best teacher. Amen to that. The next best thing to gaining experience on your own is to pick the brain of someone else who’s experienced. Enter Steve Czaban — a sports radio veteran that has accumulated a few terabytes of knowledge throughout his career.
Czabe has been featured on Milwaukee radio for nearly 25 years, and has hosted in Washington D.C. for over two decades. His resume also includes stops in Charlotte and Chicago as well as national experience at FOX Sports Radio and SB Nation Radio. The man knows what he’s talking about when he offers opinions on the sports radio industry. Thankfully he doesn’t share his knowledge with the feel of someone who is being fanned while fed grapes. He offers his insight like a guy drinking a beer while watching a ball game at the bar.
Like most great hosts, Steve has the ability to shift gears. He can have you cracking up one minute while describing his water polo broadcasting background; the next minute he can offer a thoughtful view about doing radio during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. His mantra for anyone who wants to get in the business is outstanding. The advice is so excellent that seasoned hosts can all benefit from it as well. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: How difficult is it right now to do a show without actual sports being played due to the pandemic?
Steve Czaban: At first I thought it was going to be about fun months of just going off the grid sports topic wise and just doing guy talk, movies, hanging out and beers to occupy us while this was dealt with. But as the severity ramps up, personally I have a hard time striking the right tone. Even though our job is to provide a diversion, we are real people with families and concerns and we live in the real world. It’s tough to just be there breaking balls, backslapping, doing what is the normal course of sports radio when the whole world has gone sideways.
BN: So how do you find that middle ground?
SC: I don’t know. It’s a day-by-day, hour-by-hour thing. I don’t have a replacement content problem. I have a tone problem because I’m trying to figure out what is the appropriate tone.
BN: Does the tone that you try to strike differ at all between your shows in Milwaukee and D.C.?
SC: No, I think the tone is the same in both places. It’s more blue collar in Milwaukee and more white collar, professional, government in D.C. But people are people and the tone I don’t think changes because of it.
BN: This isn’t an easy time to be a radio host. With that in mind what has been your toughest, most challenging gig?
SC: I think the one thing that frustrated me was when I was on nationally with FOX Sports Radio. It didn’t matter if I was doing well in the kind of mid-markets that you want to thrive in like Richmond or Indianapolis. We were losing affiliates even though I was doing great numbers in those markets because they would change their syndicator affiliation. Then they would be required to carry the other company’s product so to speak.
I would get calls from PDs going, man, I am so mad about this. I tried to argue saying but this show works for us, it’s a national show but we get numbers, we can actually sell off of it, and they just tell me sorry the company line is you’ve got to carry this instead. That happened a lot. When you’re up every morning putting everything you’ve got into a show and that’s the case you’re like damn.
BN: Remember those old Army-Navy games where the broadcast would highlight a kid and just go through his daily — at 0700 he wakes up, at 0800 he does this — if you did that based on your radio schedule, what does your day-to-day routine look like?
SC: I get up at 6 Eastern; 7am start time for the Milwaukee show. I do it from my home studio so I don’t have to go anywhere. I do the show from 7 to 10, which is 6 to 9 Milwaukee time. Then there is usually an hour of mopping up and other coordination work, emails, and blah blah blah until about 11 ET. Then if the weather is nice I go out and play nine holes or chip and putt. Get some lunch. Come back home and get back in the cockpit about 3 o’clock in the afternoon to get ready for the show on 980 from 4 to 7pm. Then once that’s over from 7 to 8pm is when I record my podcast, which is a supplemental, additional 35 to 45 minutes called The CzabeCast. I call somebody up and shoot the shit with them and post it. By that time it’s about 9 o’clock and I’m ready to go to bed.
BN: Are you a good golfer?
SC: [Laughs] Depends on who I’m playing. I only negotiate strokes on the first tee. I’m an avid golfer let’s put it that way. I’m a weak 8 handicap, which some people go, oh you’re really good. I’m like yeah not as good as I want to be and not compared to the players I like to play with.
BN: How many years have you been at 980?
SC: Shoot, 20 years now. I came back in the late fall of ‘99. It’s been 20 years in D.C.
BN: How many years in Milwaukee?
SC: Well I was on a morning show on another station from ‘94 until a year and a half ago. So that was 24 years. Then this new station started up and they wanted me to be the centerpiece and to be the morning show. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up and so I said okay let’s do this.
BN: It’s really unique, man. When they first approached you to do two shows in two different markets what were your thoughts about it?
SC: I was all about it. Milwaukee has lagged behind the rest of the country when it comes to sports radio. They didn’t really have a full-time sports radio station I don’t think in town until like maybe 2000. So now obviously they’ve caught up and there are three stations, which I think is a bit excessive, but we’re really not trying to be a sports station. We’re trying to be a station for men who know sports, like sports, but they’re not going to get in knock-down, drag-out arguments with you about reliever numbers unless it’s something appropriate. We want it to be a lifestyle, guy station as much as it is a sports station.
BN: Sometimes bands forget which city they’re performing in. Have you ever forgotten which audience you’re doing a show for?
SC: [Laughs] That hasn’t happened yet. As I get older I forget more and more things but that is one that I’ve yet to encounter. My biggest check swing nowadays is — because I’ll use occasional profanity on my podcast I have to sometimes really check swing when I’m on the air because I’m talking into the same microphone for both the podcast and my shows.
BN: [Laughs] Oh, man. You haven’t slipped up yet?
SC: Nothing really bad has happened yet. It’s probably just a matter of time.
BN: Is it liberating to cuss compared to being buttoned up on terrestrial radio?
SC: It’s liberating but I’m always mindful of being gratuitous about it. It’s like the kid whose parents are gone and he can eat ice cream for breakfast. You don’t want to go hog-wild with it because it doesn’t add to the content. The content still has to be interesting and something people are going to want to come back for. You can’t just get on there and cuss.
BN: If you could choose the Packers or the Redskins to win a Super Bowl, who would you pick?
SC: Oh, the Redskins. It’s easy because my people have suffered the longest. My people have suffered greatly. The whole thing with fandom is interesting. When I started this new show I said for years when I was on this other FM morning show I was a friend of the Packers. I rooted for you guys on the side but I never considered myself a true fan. But now that I am doing a show every day that’s my own show, I feel like I have earned the right to apply for “probationary dual citizenship” I call it. I am not going to have to renounce my fandom of the Redskins while also being a Packer fan because it’s special circumstances.
People’s opinions on this vary greatly. Some say that’s impossible, you can’t do that. Others are like of course you can and that it’s okay to have two different teams depending on your circumstance. Maybe you grew up and your dad was a Cowboy fan and he raised you as a Cowboy fan. But now you live in Denver and so you go to Broncos games and you’re a huge Broncos fan. I don’t think that’s in conflict. I only think that you can’t be a fan of two teams that are traditional bitter rivals, and you certainly can’t be a fan of two teams that are in the same division.
BN: What is it about being a sports radio host that gets you up in the morning and fires you up to do more shows?
SC: Well it beats working for a living that’s for sure.
SC: No, the world of sports is fascinating and interesting. There are more great, dumb, hilarious, fascinating stories all the time. When they started sports radio in ‘87 at WFAN, the common reply was, ‘Sports all day? What are they going to talk about?’ Now look at the landscape and you say to yourself I don’t have enough hours in the day for the stories that are coming across my desk.
BN: Going back to the very beginning of your sports radio career, how did it start for you?
SC: I went to UC Santa Barbara, the Harvard of the West as I like to call it. I just started going to the student radio station. They had a little set of equipment where you could take two headsets, a mixer and literally a handheld radio antenna — sort of like you broke it off somebody’s roof. Then you would set it up at the baseball diamond, you’d point it back at the tower in the middle of campus, you’d get the connection, and then you would call a baseball game that absolutely nobody listened to. We did that for just about any sport. Me and the guys in college — we called water polo games. Do you know how hard it is to call water polo where all you see are their heads? Do you know how little anyone cares about water polo? But we did it. We did it because why not?
BN: Sports radio hosts are sometimes urged to appeal to a younger audience. Are you mindful of that, or is it like here’s my show, take it or leave it?
SC: I don’t think like ooh, what do the kids want today? It’s like OK, boomer. My one mantra always for anyone who wants to get in the business is simple; to be interesting — and that’s the goal — you have to be interested. You have to always keep an open mind. If you turn your nose up at certain sports whether it’s MMA or hockey or baseball or boxing, you’re not opening yourself up to the possibility of oh hey, this is really interesting. You know? You can’t be a picky eater. Some guys are. You get to a certain stage in your career and a lot of guys are like I just don’t talk hockey. I don’t know it. I don’t care about it. But I always try to stay interested in as many things as I can. I try to skew young even though I know I’m not young because in my mind I feel like I am.
Even if I don’t know anything about Instagram, I will still look at it and be curious about it and ask questions about it to people that might know whatever it is. It took me awhile to get my head around “Okay, Instagram. Why is this different than Twitter?” Then someone put it to me very succinctly; they said millennials don’t like to read. I said holy shit, that’s perfect. 280 characters is too long for them. Just give me a picture.
BN: [Laughs] Oh man, that’s funny. What would you say is your biggest weakness as a sports radio host?
SC: What is this a job interview? I have no weaknesses. I’m impervious. I’m a 24/7 content machine. I’m indestructible. I’ll be doing this until I’m 90.
BN: Just cranking out the hits. I like it.
SC: The biggest weakness, I don’t know. The more laps you take around the sports radio track so to speak, the easier it is to get jaded and cynical — if not jaded, just to be sort of bored. The sports world has a routine and I like that routine. It helps guide me and other sports fans through the seasons. But it’s easy at some point to be like okay here we go again. I’ve watched 41 NFL seasons that I can remember or whatever the number is. I have to constantly remind myself hey for someone who’s 22 years old, they’re in the prime up their sports fanatic life. They are like so into this. They love this shit. I think that’s something that I constantly have to guard against.
BN: I love what you said about being interested. That’s awesome advice. When you break it down to what is most important to you to be a good sports radio host, what else would you have at the top of the list?
SC: When you tell a story, have a point. It makes it so much more interesting to the listener. Everything you say has to have some kind of a point no matter what that is. It can be a big, small point, you always have to think okay so what is the reason for me talking about this? What’s my endpoint of the segment? Whatever you’re talking about, think about it critically and understand okay here’s the point I would like to make about it.
My personal philosophy is I don’t try to force a point if I don’t believe it. I can’t fake it. I’m not a take artist. I know people will say that’s not true, everyone likes to criticize all of us as take artists, but I believe what I say. Unless I’m saying something while doing it with a wink of my eye, like you know I’m kidding you on this.
BN: When you compare the very beginning of your career to later once you gained experience, what was something important you learned about doing good radio?
SC: Preparation is key. Learning how to write even if you’re not going to read your scripts. I don’t read scripts but I do write. I’ll write notes. I’ll write outlines. I’ll write certain riffs maybe. I’ll write bullet points to help guide me through what I’m going to talk about. Writing for your own blog is another good way to sort of focus your content. If you write a well-written blog about something, you’ve really sharpened the points that you want to make and the phrases that you’re using. By the time you go to “read” your own take on your own radio show, you’re not reading it, it’s just coming out of you naturally because you’ve already spent some time writing it.
BN: How important do you think it is to do a podcast in this day and age?
SC: I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do one. The cost to do it is virtually nothing. Especially for people that want to get into the business it’s something that I would do because then you can go show somebody — look at my product. I have product. I think it frees you up to do other things and it gives you another area to sort of hone your craft. It’s another boutique product that you as the host can own entirely. That’s valuable. It may be a little gift shop in terms of whatever revenue or free stuff you can get out of it compared to your regular employer, but you own the gift shop, which I think is a nice thing.
BN: When you look at your future over the next 5-10 years, how do you think it’ll look and what do you want it to look like?
SC: [Laughs] Glorious, employed, healthy, all those things. I can’t predict the future. I love what I’m doing right now. I’d like to keep doing it. I’d like to grow the Milwaukee show and give the Milwaukee market a really good, interesting, compelling show to come to every day. That’s the way I’ve been here in D.C. as well for the last 20 years too. Keep going, keep going until it becomes unbearable or I’ve got enough money and nobody ever has enough money. I guess you go until they take your guitar away.
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.
Amanda Brown Has Embraced The Bright Lights of Hollywood
“My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and eight others aboard a helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, sent shockwaves around the world of sports, entertainment, and culture. People traveled to Los Angeles following the devastating news and left flowers outside the then-named STAPLES Center, the arena which Bryant called home for much of his career, demonstrating the magnitude of the loss. Just across the street from the arena, Amanda Brown and the staff at ESPN Los Angeles 710 had embarked in ongoing breaking news coverage, lamentation, and reflection.
It included coverage of a sellout celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter and teams around the NBA opting to take 8-second and 24-second violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers throughout his 20-year NBA career. They currently hang in the rafters at Crypto.com Arena, making Bryant the only player in franchise history to have two numbers retired.
During this tumultuous time, Bryant’s philosophy served as a viable guiding force, something that Brown quickly ascertained in her first month as the station’s new program director.
“I had people that were in Northern California hopping on planes to get here,” Brown said. “You didn’t even have to ask people [to] go to the station; people were like, ‘I’m on my way.’ It was the way that everybody really came together to do really great radio, and we did it that day and we did it the next day and we did it for several days.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is quickly approaching, and Brown will be attending the event for the first time since 2020. During her first experience at the BSM Summit in New York, Brown had just become a program director and was trying to assimilate into her role. Because of this, she prioritized networking, building contacts, and expressing her ideas to others in the space. This year, she looks forward to connecting with other program directors and media professionals around the country while also seeking to learn more about the nuances of the industry.
“The Summit is kind of like a meeting of the minds,” Brown said. “It’s people throughout the country and the business…. More than anything, [the first time] wasn’t so much about the panels as it was about the people.”
Growing up in Orange County, Brown had an interest in the Los Angeles Lakers from a young age, being drawn to play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn. Brown refers to Hearn as inspiration to explore a career in broadcasting. After studying communications at California State University in Fullerton, she was afforded an opportunity to work as a producer at ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM by program director Scott Masteller, who she still speaks to on a regular basis. It was through Masteller’s confidence in her, in addition to support from operations manager Dave Schorr, that helped make Brown feel more comfortable working in sports media.
“I never felt like I was a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Brown said. “I always just felt like I was a part of the industry. For me, I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I deserve to be here; I deserve a seat at the table.’”
Brown quickly rose up the ranks when she began working on ESPN Radio in Bristol, Conn., working as a producer for a national radio show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt, along with The Sports Bash with Erik Kuselias. Following five-and-a-half years in Bristol, Brown requested a move back to California and has worked at ESPN Los Angeles 710 ever since. She began her tenure at the station serving as a producer for shows such as Max and Marcellus and Mason and Ireland.
Through her persistence, work ethic and congeniality, Brown was promoted to assistant program director in July 2016. In this role, she helped oversee the station’s content while helping the entity maintain live game broadcast rights and explore new opportunities to augment its foothold, including becoming the flagship radio home of the Los Angeles Rams.
“Don’t sit back and wait for your managers or your bosses to come to you and ask what you want to do,” Brown advised. “Go after what you want, and that’s what I’ve always done. I always went to my managers and was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this. Give me a chance; let me do that.’ For the most part, my managers have been receptive and given me those opportunities.”
When executive producer Dan Zampillo left the station to join Spotify to work as a sports producer, Brown was subsequently promoted to program director where she has helped shape the future direction of the entity. From helping lead the brand amid its sale to Good Karma Brands in the first quarter of 2022; to revamping the daily lineup with compelling local programs, Brown has gained invaluable experience and remains keenly aware of the challenges the industry faces down the road. For sports media outlets in Los Angeles, some of the challenge is merely by virtue of its geography.
“We’re in sunny Southern California where there’s a lot of things happening,” Brown said. “We’re in the middle of Hollywood. People have a lot of opportunities – you can go to the mountains; you can go to the beach. I think [our market] is more about entertainment than it is about actual hard-core sports. Yes, obviously you have hard-core Lakers fans; you have hard-core Dodgers fans, but a majority of the fans are pretty average sports fans.”
Because of favorable weather conditions and an endless supply of distractions, Brown knows that the way to attract people to sports talk radio is through its entertainment value. With this principle in mind, she has advised her hosts not to worry so much about the specific topics they are discussing, but rather to ensure they are entertaining listeners throughout the process.
“People know the four letters E-S-P-N mean sports, but really our focus is more on entertainment more than anything,” Brown said. “I think the [talent] that stick out the most are the ones that are the most entertaining.”
Entertaining listeners, however, comes through determining what they are discussing and thinking about and providing relevant coverage about those topics. Even though it has not yet been legalized in the state of California, sports gambling content has been steadily on the rise since the Supreme Court made a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act established in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018). Nonetheless, Brown and ESPN Los Angeles 710 have remained proactive, launching a sports gambling show on Thursday nights to try to adjust to the growing niche of the industry.
Even though she has worked in producing and programming for most of her career, Brown is eager to learn about the effect sports gambling has on audio sales departments. At the same time, she hopes to be able to more clearly determine how the station can effectuate its coverage if and when it becomes legal in their locale.
“I know that a lot of other markets have that,” Brown said regarding the legalization of sports gambling. “For me, I’m interested to hear from people who have that in their markets and how they’ve monetized that and the opportunity.”
No matter the content, though, dedicated sports radio listeners are genuinely consuming shows largely to hear certain talent. Brown recalls receiving a compliment on Twitter earlier this quarter where a listener commented that he listens to ESPN Los Angeles 710 specifically for Sedano and Kap. Evidently, it acted as a tangible sign that her philosophy centered around keeping people engrossed in the content is working, and that providing the audience what it wants to hear is conducive to success.
At this year’s BSM Summit, Brown will be participating on The Wheel of Content panel, presented by Core Image Studio, featuring ESPN analyst Mina Kimes and FOX Sports host Joy Taylor. Through their discussion, she intends to showcase a different perspective of what goes into content creation and the interaction that takes place between involved parties.
“A lot of times in the past, all the talent were on one panel; all the programmers were on one panel,” Brown said. “To put talent and a programmer together, I think it’s an opportunity for people to hear both sides on certain issues.”
According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM (terrestrial) radio among persons 18-34 has a greater average audience than television. The statistical anomaly, which was forecast several years earlier, came to fruition most likely due to emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Simultaneously, good content is required to captivate consumers, and radio, through quantifiable and qualifiable metrics, has been able to tailor its content to the listening audience and integrate it across multiple platforms of dissemination. The panel will give Brown a chance to speak in front of her peers and other industry professionals about changes in audio consumption, effectuated by emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Yet when it comes to radio as a whole, the patterns clearly point towards the proliferation of digital content – whether those be traditional radio programs or modernized podcasts. Moreover, utilizing various elements of presentation provides consumers a greater opportunity of finding and potentially engaging with the content.
“We do YouTube streaming; obviously, we stream on our app,” Brown said. “We’ve even created, at times, stream-only shows whether it’s stream-only video or stream-only on our app. We all know that people want content on-demand when they want it. I think it’s about giving them what they want.”
As a woman in sports media, Brown is cognizant about having to combat misogyny from those inside and outside of the industry, and is grateful to have had the support of many colleagues. In holding a management position in the second-largest media market in the United States, she strives to set a positive example to aspiring broadcasters. Additionally, she aims to be a trusted and accessible voice to help empower and give other women chances to work in the industry – even if she is not universally lauded.
“I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I’m no different than anyone else – yes, I’m a female – but I’m no different than anyone else,’” Brown expressed. “My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
Through attending events such as the BSM Summit and remaining immersed in sports media and the conversation at large about the future of sports media, Brown can roughly delineate how she can perform her job at a high level.
Although the genuine future of this business is always subject to change, she and her team at ESPN Los Angeles 710 are trying to come up with new ideas to keep the content timely, accurate, informative, and entertaining. She is content in her role as program director with no aspirations to become a general manager; however, remaining in her current role requires consistent effort and a penchant for learning.
“Relationships are very important overall in this business whether you’re a programmer or not,” Brown said. “Relationships with your talent; relationships with your staff. If you invest in your people, then they’re going to be willing to work hard for you and do what you ask them to do.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is mere days away, and those from Los Angeles and numerous other marketplaces will make the trip to The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC).
Aside from Brown, Kimes and Taylor, there will be other voices from across the industry sharing their thoughts on aspects of the industry and how to best shape it going forward, including Colin Cowherd, Rachel Nichols, Al Michaels and Eric Shanks. More details about the industry’s premiere media conference can be found at bsmsummit.com.
“I’m excited to be a female program director amongst male program directors for the first time and get a seat at the table and represent that there can be diversity in this position,” Brown said. “We don’t see a lot of it, but… there is an opportunity, and I hope I can be an example for other people out there [to show] that it’s possible.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he interns in video production with the New York Islanders and formerly worked as production manager for the team’s radio broadcasts. 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.
Pat McAfee Has Thrown Our Business Into a Tailspin
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve, McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
When you have one of the hottest talk shows in America, you’re always up to something. That’s the case for the most popular sports talk show host in America – Pat McAfee.
The former Pro Bowl punter was on top of the world on Wednesday. With over 496,000 concurrent viewers watching at one point, McAfee was able to garner an exclusive interview with frequent guest Aaron Rodgers who announced his intention to play for the Jets.
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve — a new studio, consistent high viewership, a syndication deal with SportsGrid TV, a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel — McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
At the end of the day, he is human and he’s admitted that balancing his show, his ESPN gig with “College Gameday,” and his WWE obligations has taken a toll on him.
McAfee and his wife are expecting their first child soon and he recently told The New York Post he might step away from his deal with FanDuel. Operating his own company has come with the responsibility of making sure his studio is up and running, finding people to operate the technology that puts his show on the air, negotiating with huge behemoths like the NFL for game footage rights, booking guests, booking hotels, implementing marketing plans and other tasks that most on-air personalities rarely have to worry about.
McAfee says he’s looking for a network that would be able to take control of those duties while getting more rest and space to spend time with family while focusing strictly on hosting duties. FanDuel has its own network and has the money to fund such endeavors but is just getting started in the content game. McAfee needs a well-known entity to work with who can take his show to the next level while also honoring his wishes of keeping the show free on YouTube.
The question of how he’s going to be able to do it is something everyone in sports media will be watching. As The Post pointed out in their story, McAfee hasn’t frequently stayed with networks he’s been associated with in the past for too long. He’s worked with Westwood One, DAZN, and Barstool but hasn’t stayed for more than a year or two.
There’s an argument to be made that the latter two companies weren’t as experienced as a network when McAfee signed on with them compared to where they are today which could’ve pushed the host to leave. But at the end of the day, networks want to put money into long-term investments and it’s easy to see a network passing on working with McAfee for fear that he’ll leave them astray when he’s bored.
It’ll also be difficult for McAfee to find a network that doesn’t put him behind a paywall. Amazon and Google are rumored to be potential new homes. But both are trying to increase subscribers for their respective streaming services.
It will be difficult to sell Amazon on investing money to build a channel on YouTube – a rival platform. For Google, they may have the tech infrastructure to create television-like programming but they aren’t an experienced producer, they’ve never produced its own live, daily talk show, and investing in McAfee’s show doesn’t necessarily help increase the number of subscribers watching YouTube TV.
Networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox might make sense to partner with. But McAfee faces the possibility of being censored due to corporate interests. Each of these networks also operates its networks or streaming channels that air talk programming of their own. Investing in McAfee could cannibalize the programming they already own.
And if McAfee works with a traditional network that isn’t ESPN, it could jeopardize his ability to host game casts for Omaha or analyze games on Gameday. It’s not impossible but would definitely be awkward on days that McAfee does his show remotely from locations of ESPN games with ESPN banners and signage that is visible in the background.
If SportsGrid has the money to invest in McAfee, they might be his best bet. They have all the attributes McAfee needs and they already have a relationship with him. It is probably unlikely that he’ll be censored and he would even be able to maintain a relationship with FanDuel – a company SportsGrid also works alongside.
Roku is another option — they already work with Rich Eisen — but they would move his show away from YouTube, something McAfee should resist since the majority of smart TV users use YT more than any other app.
If the NFL gave McAfee editorial independence, they would make the perfect partner but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. NFL Media has independence but it was clear during the night of the Damar Hamlin incident that they will do whatever is necessary to stay away from serious topics that make the league look bad until it’s totally unavoidable.
It’s hard to think of a partner that matches up perfectly with McAfee’s aspirations. But once again, at the moment, he’s on top of the world so anything is possible. The talk show host’s next move will be even more interesting to watch than the other fascinating moves he’s already made that have put the sports media industry in a swivel.
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.
5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit
“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”
Bring your game plan if you attend the BSM Summit in LA next Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter your purpose for attending: to learn, get a job, speak, or sell an idea, you must be able to read the room. To do that, it helps to know who will be there and how you can cure their pain.
Have a plan and don’t leave home without it. If you have time, buy How to Work a Room by Susan Roane. If you don’t, just follow these five tips:
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Before you arrive at The Summit, figure out what you want, who you want to meet, and what you will say. Once you get there, scout out the room and see if anyone of those people are available. Talk to speakers after they have spoken- don’t worry if you miss what the next speaker says. You are there to meet new people! Most speakers do not stick around for the entire schedule, and you don’t know if they will attend any after-parties, so don’t risk it. Refine your elevator pitch and break the ice with something you have in common. Make sure you introduce yourself to Stephanie, Demetri and Jason from BSM. They know everybody and will help you if they can.
- GET A NAME TAG: Don’t assume that name tags will be provided. Bring your own if you and make your name clear to read. If you are looking to move to LA or want to sell a system to book better guests, put it briefly under your name. Study this to get better at remembering names.
- LOSE THE NOTEBOOK: When you meet folks, ensure your hands are free. Have a business card handy and ask for one of theirs. Remember to look people in the eye and notice what they are doing. If they are scanning the room, pause until they realize they are blowing you off. Do whatever it takes to sound upbeat and open. Don’t let their clothes, hair, or piercings distract from your message. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie but do bring your best business casual wear. A blazer isn’t a bad idea either.
- SHUT UP FIRST! The art of knowing when to end the convo is something you will have to practice. You can tell when the other person’s eye starts darting or they are not using body language that tells you the convo will continue. You end it by telling them you appreciate meeting them and want to connect via email. Ask for a business card. Email is more challenging to ignore than a LinkedIn request, and you can be more detailed in what you want via email.
- WORK THE SCHEDULE: Know who speaks when. That is when you will find the speakers hanging around. Plan your lunch outing to include a few fellow attendees. Be open and conversational with those around you. I am a huge USC fan, so I would walk to McKays– a good spot with plenty of USC football memorabilia on the walls. Sometimes you can find the next day’s speakers at the Day 1 after party. Need a bar? Hit the 901 Club for cheap beer, drinks, and food.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
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