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Stugotz Wants You To Understand Something No One Else Does

“Even some people at ESPN don’t get what we do!”

Brandon Contes




The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “With Stugotz” is always written in a smaller, less noticeable font, like it’s there to give credit, but not attract an audience.

If you listen to The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz for just 15 minutes, you quickly realize Jon Weiner (Stugotz) is not just a sidekick, he’s vital to their success. And if you listen to the show for only 15 minutes, you’re also likely to realize you don’t get the show.

Stugotz's 0-14 streak gets the 30 for 30 treatment | The Dan Le Batard Show  - YouTube

No show is better at creating a community, no show is better at making their listeners feel like they’re part of something special, and no show is better at creating organized chaos. In the last 15 years, they’ve been one of the most successful shows on radio, and Stugotz knows he’s just as important as his co-host of bigger font.

BC: How’d you get your start in radio?

STU: It’s something I always knew I wanted. Growing up with WFAN, Mike and the Mad Dog, I remember driving with my dad and hearing two guys talking sports who sounded like me and you. I asked my dad if they were getting paid for this. And when he told me ‘yes, a lot,’ I said that’s what I want to do.

It was more difficult to break into market one than it is Fort Lauderdale. I moved down here without a plan and stumbled on it, which basically summarizes my entire life. I was working for the Dolphins and Marlins in their sales office. I became good friends with Boog Sciambi who was the Marlins radio voice at the time, and when he started doing middays on WQAM, he helped me get an internship.

BC: And how did you end up helping launch 790 The Ticket without much experience managing a station?

STU: WQAM had no job for me after my internship, so I went back to New York and started working for the Knicks and Rangers making pretty good money. After a year, I got a call about producing for Hank Goldberg on WQAM. It was afternoon drive, major market, that was my foot in the door. I quit my job in New York getting paid six figures to take the job offering me about $4 an hour. But it was executive producer of a big show, if you want to be in this business that’s the type of risk you need to take.

While I was working on Hank’s show, sports radio really started to take off and most major markets were sprouting a second station. I saw an opening in Miami for something younger and hipper, so I put a group together and we leased 790. Paid a hefty price for programming rights and marketing, but we turned it into 790 The Ticket and I’m proud to say it’s still going.

BC: How’d you get Dan to be part of the new station?

STU: Toward the end of Hank’s show, it became a daily ripping of Le Batard and I didn’t even really know who Dan was! I read him in the Herald, but we never met. I figured if he could agitate Hank this much in print, he would be pretty damn good on-air.

We knew Boog Sciambi mutually, so he helped connect us and I told Dan I was starting a new sports radio station, but I’m not doing it unless you’re in afternoon drive. Dan loves being part of an underdog and he was certainly eager to take on Hank and WQAM, a station that hadn’t been very nice to him.

BC: Was the plan for you to be Dan’s co-host from the beginning?

STU: I was going to do the midday show and about a week before we launched, Dan said he didn’t want to do afternoons by himself. He originally wanted Boog as his co-host, but he was doing Marlins games and couldn’t leave QAM. But Boog told Dan I’d be a perfect co-host for him. I ditched the dream of doing my own show and it was the best call I ever made.

BC: Was there instant chemistry when you guys launched?

STU: It was awful. It started off with me interviewing Dan for three hours a day, we had no chemistry. We realized quickly Dan needed to drive the show because I was just guessing what he wanted to talk about.

BC: [Laughs] Were you treating him like he was a guest columnist?

STU: Dan will tell you stories of sleepless nights, riding around his neighborhood on a bicycle trying to figure out how to do the show. We had two different philosophies, I wanted to be Mike and the Mad Dog, Dan wanted to be everything but that. Eventually, we decided rather than me guessing what Dan wants to talk about, he’ll drive the show. That subtle change was huge. The other element that helped came a few months in, when Dan wanted to hire Marc Hochman. He had radio experience, a great sense of humor and was Dan’s best friend.

“I definitely knew the show could have a massive, wide appeal,” said Hochman, who’s in the midst of his own successful tenure hosting afternoons alongside Channing Crowder on WQAM and The Ticket. “We went in for three or four hours every day and just had a great time – and that translated to listeners having a great time. The majority of talk shows when we started, sports specifically, were super serious, even sour. There was no sports show that just felt like a party you wanted to be at. When we were having so many laughs every show, that’s when I knew the show could be a huge hit nationally.” 

BC: The goal of any show is to build a community with your listeners. If you ask people which shows do it best, you start with Stern, Dan Patrick gets mentioned for sports radio and then you guys are in that category equally. At what point did you realize you had that level of show?

ESPN Keeping Le Batard, Stugotz On Air With New Multiyear Deals

STU: Making everyone feel invested and part of the show, building that community was super important to Dan and ultimately became important to me. We wanted the audience to participate and contribute to the content of the show.

About three years in is when I knew we were building this community right. I got the ratings book and looked down toward the mid-teens, which is where we usually ranked for men 25-54. I didn’t see us there. Rather than look up, I scrolled down into the 20’s and still didn’t see us anywhere and thought, ‘shit we didn’t rate, our show sucks.’ I start scrolling back up and finally found us at a strange place – number one. I fell out of my chair.

It was validation, it felt really good to get that number one, and from there, we always stayed in the top-three.

“There isn’t a sports radio show in the country that has more of a loyal following than the Le Batard Show,” said The Ticket’s former morning host Jorge Sedano, who now hosts afternoons for ESPN Los Angeles. “I’ve been to their events and they are unmatched in the industry. Heck, their fans are so into the show – they’ve spawned off their own podcasts that get traction within the community of the Le Batard universe. Many of the people associated with the show, myself included, have made appearances on these off shoot podcasts. It’s truly a unique connection between the audience and that show. Nothing like it.” 

BC: How important is The Shipping Container and the ability to integrate different people, different personalities to the show, was that something you both wanted from the start?

STU: Invaluable. We always wanted as many voices as we could bring to the show, especially to lend to the funniness, wackiness and craziness. But even more importantly, to provide perspective and expertise.

The executive producer was always a major part of our show. But as we grow older, we realize it’s super important for the show to stay younger. The demo we go for is 25-54 and the closer you get to that 54, the more you realize you need to be closer to 25. Dan’s 51, I’m 47, we started incorporating Billy, Chris, Mike, The Shipping Container and other young voices because we love our crew, they help keep us young and keep the audience young.

BC: What about the ‘you don’t get the show’ approach and the ability to make the show something that is inclusive in terms of anyone is welcome to listen, but the content is exclusive to the people that do listen?

STU: It’s the most important thing we do, and it goes back to that community. One of the ways you create a community is by making them feel like they understand something that no one else does. We make the ‘you don’t get the show’ club seem like it’s really small, but it’s massive. 

It can be frustrating because the traditional sports radio listener might only tune in for 15 minutes and they’re probably wondering ‘what the hell is this?!’ But (executive producer) Mike Ryan reminds us about the younger generation and the way they consume content because that’s who we’re going after. My kids listen to podcasts, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, not FM radio.

Even some people at ESPN don’t get what we do! They just took the SportsCenter updates away from me because they said it wasn’t professional enough. But that’s what we were going for! I’ve done everything in sports radio, I promise I can do traditional SportsCenter updates – we were trying to make those funny and the audience loved it. But some of the people at ESPN didn’t realize we were doing it on purpose and that’s frustrating.

You Don't Get the Show | The Official Dan Le Batard Show Merch Store

BC: Knowing the future of radio is digital and where a lot of your audience already is, did it bother you when ESPN took away a terrestrial hour?

STU: Dan looked at it as a demotion. I’m not going to say it felt good. I was upset and our audience was upset, but what happens is the more you push us down, the more emboldened our audience becomes. I know the future is digital. I’m in my car right now, all my apps are on my dashboard, what I don’t see is a radio.

I always wonder how Dan and I would do if we were digital only. The big three in terms of sports and rec podcasts are us, Simmons and Pardon My Take. We’re competing simply by repurposing our radio show into a podcast. How big would our show be if we weren’t already broadcasting it nationally on the radio? So now we’re doing one or two hours a day where it’s digital only and I’m excited to explore that space and see how big it can be.

BC: Do you want the terrestrial and digital hours to sound like different shows? Or do you want the terrestrial listeners to feel like they didn’t get a complete show if they don’t hear the podcast?

STU: Right now, because of Dan’s TV schedule, we’re taping the third hour later in the day. But ultimately, we want the third hour to be an extension of the two-hour radio show. So if you’re listening live, you feel like you have to be part of that third hour.

BC: Do you like the freedom offered with digital? Maybe the Le Batard Show brand is able to distance itself from Mickey Mouse a bit in those hours?

STU: 100 percent. For starters, there are no commercials to interrupt us, we appreciate the sponsors, but they’re placed, not forced in. The time is flexible, we can just keep going. It’s not a big deal, but we can curse. The digital space is more liberating and it definitely gives us more freedom. And Dan likes freedom. [Laughs]

BC: Does ESPN give you guys the freedom to address every issue you want?

STU: ESPN has been great. I know our listeners are upset about us losing an hour because it feels like a shot at us. But ESPN has a digital monster on their hands with our show and that’s the future.

They haven’t just been good bosses, they’ve been great. When Dan and I joined ESPN, we were worried about the concept and them controlling us. They promised us that they wouldn’t and they really haven’t interfered since we joined. If they haven’t interfered on terrestrial, they certainly won’t on digital.

BC: Do you think the pandemic advanced the decision to give you guys a bigger digital platform? I think about my own listening habits, and they’ve changed in recent months. I was always in the camp of wanting a traditional five-hour local radio show, but now I listen to a lot more podcasts and a lot less terrestrial radio.

STU: A lot of industries have learned a lot from these past few months, so it’s possible, but we were likely headed toward this move anyway because our podcast numbers were so strong.

In the last few months, people ask ‘how do you do a show without sports?’ We were waiting for this moment our entire lives [Laughs]. The harder part was getting used to doing the show from different locations. I know our show seems like an unscripted mess, but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, a lot of producing on the fly, a lot of eye contact.

Nobody does more research on this than ESPN and I think they’ve stumbled on the idea that a two-hour show has a better chance of getting terrestrial ratings than four hours. Combine it all – the pandemic, shorter shows, the future being digital, it all contributes to what we’re doing.

BC: What’s your show prep? Most shows build a show sheet with segment topics, some bullet points and use that. But how do you create what sounds like organized chaos?

STU: Organized chaos, I like that. A lot of our content is produced, a lot of it also comes from conversations that spill out of commercial breaks.

I’m not sure anyone consumes more ESPN than I do. I love games, I love sports, so Dan can always rely on me to bring that. And when serious topics get put on our desk, there is no one better than Dan at discussing social issues, racial inequality, the president. It gives us credibility to play around with everything else.

We equate Dan to a dad at home trying to get serious work done and we’re the kids trying to prevent that. That’s where I think the organized chaos you mentioned comes from, me just reacting to Dan.

“Stugotz is the on-air glue that holds everything together on the show,” said ESPN Radio program director Liam Chapman. “He can play whatever role he needs to at any moment, he’s obviously more than willing to be the butt of the joke, and he’s shown his ability to give strong opinions, book guests and be much more. It’s a testament to the longevity of the show that Stugotz is willing to play all these roles and keep the chemistry flowing between Dan and the rest of the Shipping Container.”

BC: It’s unrealistic to expect someone can talk on the radio three hours a day for 15 years and not say something that comes out wrong, but has your approach to radio changed as society becomes more politically correct? The interview with Martina Navratilova in 2010, I don’t know if that goes over as well in 2020.

(In 2010, Stugotz referred to Navratilova as a “bitch” after she ended an interview with Le Batard on 790 The Ticket)

STU: Well that interview didn’t go over well then either and I certainly didn’t feel good about it when it happened. I was a father of twin daughters ten years ago, I’m still a father of twin daughters ten years later, I wasn’t proud of that interview then and I wouldn’t be proud of it now. What we’re talking about is have ramifications changed, because sometimes an apology isn’t enough.

I think any host in America would say the same thing, you constantly need to reprogram because if you want to just remain a caveman your entire life, shame on you. And it’s not just society changing, with age comes perspective. I know my character, I know my role on the show, but I do try to be more mature, more thoughtful of peoples’ feelings than I used to be.

Close shaves: ESPN's Stugotz reflects on enduring a "Finebaum," live lie  detector test - ESPN Front Row

BC: Can it be difficult to navigate the line between terrestrial and digital? There are things that can get you in trouble if you’re a play-by-play announcer, but a talk radio host might be able to make the same comment. Similarly, there are things you can’t say on talk radio that you can say on a podcast. There are different levels of what’s accepted, based on your platform.

STU: What you’re saying is fair, there is more leeway in a podcast right now, but that’s not going to last long. For us, we won’t approach it differently from a topic standpoint, it really just allows us to have more time. Dan and I are very aware of how and what we talk about. We don’t set out to upset anyone because we’re always going for funny, but when you miss on funny it comes off as mean. It’s a fine line regardless of where you do the show.

BC: 20-year radio partnerships are really rare and you’re getting closer to that number with Dan. I’m sure you have an ego, you’re competitive, you don’t get to this level if you’re not. Have you had the desire to do something solo?

STU: This isn’t anything Dan doesn’t know, but I think about it all the time. Constantly. But I also know anything I do away from this will never be as good as this at its best. I’m fully aware how important Dan is to me, and Dan’s fully aware of how important I am to him. When you have chemistry in this business, latch on because it’s hard to come by. But to say I never think about what it would have been like 20 years ago to do my own show is crazy.

I don’t know if I’ll ever scratch that itch, but the beauty of digital is, I have my own podcast and there’s no one stopping me from flipping the mic on and doing five episodes a week.

“Stugotz is the secret sauce,” Sedano added. “Dan is brilliant. However, every great radio host needs a foil and Stugotz plays that role to perfection. Stu is also way more relatable. Hence, why he has his own personal fan club named, “The Stugotz Army.” Dan readily admits on-air that the show isn’t the same when any of the components are missing. Their personalities are a perfect combination of discerning versus perfunctory. Hands down, Stu is as important to the show as anyone or anything.”

BC: You might never be able to create something where the product is as good as the show you have right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something equally fulfilling. Chris Russo’s product is not as good as Mike and the Mad Dog, but having Mad Dog Radio might be more fulfilling.

STU: That’s a great point. There is some ego involved. With the Le Batard & Friends network, Mike Ryan told me STUpodity is the highest rated podcast. I got great satisfaction out of that.


Even that six-week hiatus Dan took last year, I knew what we were doing wasn’t as good as what me and Dan do, but we were getting to a place where it started to feel pretty good. And I think digitally, that was the biggest month we ever had, [Laughs] that selfishly felt great! I have enough confidence in myself and I’ve learned enough from Dan that I could create something pretty unique and special.

Even still, I don’t know how long it takes to get into the radio Hall of Fame, but f**k it if I’m not going to the Hall of Fame with Dan Le Batard. 17-18 years of being a pinata, I better be getting a Hall of Fame jacket.

BSM Writers

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.”

Derek Futterman




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 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

“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.”

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BSM Writers

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.

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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.

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BSM Writers

5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit

“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”

Jeff Caves




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:

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 

You’re welcome. 

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Barrett Media Writers

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