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Andy Lindahl Will Find What Is Interesting And Do That

“As you well know, there are plenty of guys out there that just want you to shut up and do what I’m telling you to do. Well I’m the creative entity here. I need you to give me a little more leeway than that.”

Brian Noe

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Andy Lindahl was born and raised in a Bronco household. His mom was a TV yeller, which eventually trickled down to him. As a general rule of thumb, those who raise their voice at the TV don’t lack passion. Andy is no exception. He went on to cover Denver sports for more than two decades including a 10-year stint as the Broncos sideline reporter. I find it interesting that Andy views the process of divorcing his fandom as a blessing and a curse. He tells people that he loves the Broncos, but when the team sucks like they have for the last five years, he’s going to say they suck.

Lindahl Exits KDSP &

Two of Andy’s biggest influences include a pair of his former radio partners Mark Schlereth and Scott Hastings. Andy has worked at KOA, Orange & Blue 760, and now at his current home Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM. He hosts afternoon drive with his partner Nate Kreckman. As you will gather while reading this piece, Andy can definitely tell a story. He has a knack for connecting with people and finding things that are memorable. I enjoyed my chat with Andy and my money is on you enjoying our conversation as well.

Brian Noe: What were some of the toughest situations you encountered when you were the Broncos’ sideline reporter?

Andy Lindahl: Super Bowl XLVIII sucked for a lot of reasons. It sucked doing the job because I walked into that locking room and I had developed relationships with guys — Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Knowshon (Moreno) a little bit, Pot Roast (defensive tackle Terrance Knighton) was one of them. All of those guys except for Pot Roast gave me a look like don’t you dare come over here and ask me anything. Nobody wanted to talk in that locker room. As I approached the tunnel, I’m like man this is going to suck. I don’t even know what to ask these guys. That was such an ass kicking. It was so surprising that they lost that badly to the Seahawks.

Eli and Archie were in front of me as I was approaching the locker room because I always gave my headset and mic to Peyton so he could talk to Dave Logan in the booth. I was following Eli and Archie. One of the security guards gave me the look of like hey give him a minute. Eli walked in and not 30 seconds later flew out of there walking three times the speed as what he walked in there. I was like oh God this is going to be bad. Then when I got in there, nobody talked except for Pot Roast. He was always good to me I think in part because he wanted to be in the media. He was like ‘Andy I’ll talk to you. Just come here.’ I remember Dave throws down to me and I started to ask a question and everybody in that room surrounded us to the point where I was getting crushed because he was the only guy that would talk.

Reuben Droughns, I’ll never forget, Reuben Droughns was a guy I was quote-unquote friendly with for a while. He had a block in Jacksonville. This was my first time officially on a regular season game on the sideline. I’m in Jacksonville and it’s 2006 or 2007. Reuben Droughns tripped and fell into John Henderson and broke his leg. Matt Lepsis had already engaged him. It looked like a chop block. The Jacksonville Jaguars thought he did it on purpose. Marcus Stroud comes over to our sideline and starts screaming. That was one of the biggest dudes I had ever seen in pads. I’m kind of peeing down my leg, this guy is so angry.

John Lynch starts screaming back at him. Al Wilson is wanting to fight him. I’m like oh my God, what is going on? The Jaguars were convinced it was a cheap block and from what I was told later, he tripped on the play and fell into the leg of Henderson when Lepsis already had him up. After the game I had to go in there and I looked at Reuben and I asked him what happened on that play, man? He was like what are you talking about? He came back at me in the angriest tone I’ve dealt with in a while. I had to re-ask the question. I was like I’m talking about the play that Henderson got hurt on. From your point of view what happened there? This was the first time I wasn’t used to a guy like that getting upset with me.

I had to get Ronnie Hillman after the 2012 game where Rahim Moore — the Fail Mary as we call it in town — Rahim Moore misjudged that thing. What do you ask him? “Man, you guys had that thing won.” When there’s no next week, how many times do you ask a guy how bad does this suck? The sudden death losses like that are bad.

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BN: A lot of the sports radio model in Denver is the broadcaster asking the ex-jock a question and then getting out of the way. When you’re allowed to do more and show your personality, what is that like for you as a broadcaster? 

AL: Some of the listeners — as you laid out — are programmed in this market to listen to the jock’s opinion and that’s all that matters. Well, the way I try to attack things is I’m going to tell you that it’s not just one man’s opinion; it’s multiple people’s opinions. Whether it’s Jeff Legwold who has been offered scouting jobs in this league and works for ESPN or any of the number of players that I’ve worked with or been around. I used to stand on the sideline and pick Rod Smith’s brain all the time. He would tell me all the time how something was going to play out and it was amazing how often he was right. Mark Schlereth has taken me to his house and he’s run back tape. He’s taught me about the blocking schemes. He’s shown me when things have been blocked right and when they haven’t been, the techniques they should have used. Do I get frustrated that people want to hear from the ex-jock a lot? I do, but I just keep trying it. Nate and I are just going to try to show everybody that two radio guys can get together and have fun doing radio and there’s still a place for it in this world and in this market.

I got lucky because I learned under Scott Hastings. My first job was his producer. We did a show called The Zoo. It was on KOA. Scott had always taught me let’s not focus on just sports stories, let’s focus on guy content. What are the guys talking about? What would you be talking about at the bar or the water cooler? Sometimes that’s not sports. 

There was one time we were doing a show in the offseason. We weren’t sure what we were going to talk about and FOX ran a show about whether the moon landing was fake or not. We talked for three days about that. People wouldn’t quit calling about whether they thought one thing or another as if the moon landing was faked. Scott taught me how to just find what is interesting and do that. Be yourself and don’t be fake. Don’t think you’ve got all the answers. Just be a guy you want to hang out with. That’s what I’ve tried to do.

BN: As you’ve shifted from being a part of the Broncos broadcast to more of a general part of the Denver media, has that affected your approach to covering the team at all?

AL: Man, I’d be lying to you to say that it didn’t. I’m a little more honest about things at times. It’s going to be the master we all serve the way the trends are going. We’re all going to work for state-run media in some ways, right? The Avs and Nuggets are great about things but there are times where I wonder if I’m going to upset someone with my opinion. Now that doesn’t stop me from giving it but I often wonder if I’m going to get called to the office. It hasn’t happened. 

Brian, it’s tough because since I left they’ve gotten worse. I didn’t have to do a lot of criticizing during my run. I did a Broncos talk show every Thursday night for a while. Then I think in 2012 when I got my talk show, they were pretty good in the Manning era by then so there wasn’t too much to criticize.

It was tough being at the Bronco owned station. It was tough talking to Case Keenum every week when you know he might be getting benched for Trevor Simeon. It’s been nothing but fighting about quarterbacks on the airwaves for four or five years. I’m a little more critical of things now. To be honest with you I’m a little more critical of ownership than I probably would have been if I was still there. But I also feel like the last few years watching these kids fight and sue each other in court, that wasn’t going on when I was at the other station. When Tyler Polumbus and I were at Orange & Blue 760, we prided ourselves on still trying to do real radio. We obviously knew that when Chad Kelly got arrested and acted a fool at a Halloween party, we weren’t going to dive heavy into that even though he was kind of the quarterback that everybody wanted to talk about at the time. So yes it does affect some of the on-air decisions. I try to be fair about things but unfortunately what we’ve seen the last couple of years with this team, there’s just not a ton of positive spin you can put out there.

BN: What’s your biggest passion outside of sports radio and family?

AL: Honestly it’s lacrosse. If I were ever to leave radio, I wish I could coach a college lacrosse team. I coached high school. When Tyler Polumbus and I started doing our thing, it allowed me to go coach a high school team here. I coached the lower levels. 

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I love coaching. I love helping kids. I feel like if it wasn’t for guys like Hastings and Logan giving me my shot and helping a young guy, there are a lot of people that just kind of taught me how to do things that didn’t have to, so I always try to pass it on. 

Lacrosse is my passion. I love being around kids. I love seeing the light go on. But I want to be competitive. I’m not here to be your dad coach that’s going to tell everybody they’re doing great. We work in a competitive business. We have to take honesty. You have to look at what the scoreboard truly is. I want to teach kids you’ve got to attack the world that way. Because guys like you and me aren’t making it in what we do if we don’t view the world the way that it is. I always trusted Scotty and Dave because I thought even when they were hard on me I know it came from a place of love so I try to be that kind of influence there too. If I could coach a college team I would but it’s not going to happen.

BN: Football players get asked if they want their kids to play football. I was thinking about that with sports radio. Would you want your kids to choose sports radio as a profession?

AL: Yeah, if they love it like I do. I love what I do and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know that I love that you publish this but we are on the record, I’ve got a second job at Starbucks right now. Everybody raises their eyes, what do you mean, you’re a radio host? Yeah, you know what, radio doesn’t pay what it used to. I took a little bit of a haircut when I switched jobs. I didn’t get all my salary back. I hope that I will next contract negotiation but I want to be in it so bad. I used to bartend so serving people coffee and interacting with people is not really that hard a thing for me and it’s not as awful as some people react like I can’t believe you’re working there. Well, it’s not really that bad. I want to be in radio bad enough that I will work two jobs right now. But I’ll tell you when I was transitioning a year ago, I wondered should I still do this?

I almost went and sold insurance. People think I’m kidding. Bobby Pesavento is one of the CU players that I got to know covering him. I helped him get hooked up with the Crush and he was like I’ll return the favor. I will hire you and you can sell corporate insurance if you want to. I thought it was time to quit being Peter Pan and go get a big boy job. But I love what I do and it’s not hard for me to do it. I’m never upset I’ve got to go to work. Nate and I have been frustrated when the Avs or Nuggets have a game and we don’t get to do a show. If you love something that much then I’d encourage any child of mine to do it. I was in a bad depressed place when I wasn’t doing radio shows and I guess it’s obvious that’s why I decided I’d stay in it. I love what I do.

BN: Could you ever see yourself covering teams that you aren’t as passionate about in another market?

AL: I’ve always wondered that. I don’t know if I have a desire to prove it. I tried to go to Tampa Bay and I tried to move to Austin one time earlier in my career. Here’s the weird thing about me; I’ll do radio anywhere. I’ve become friends with Judson Richards and Nick Hardwick out in San Diego. I’d go to San Diego because I dig the town’s vibe. I dig the weather. I’m a Colorado kid so I don’t do well with humidity. I don’t do well with gray all the time. Going any further east than where I am would probably be a little tricky. I’ve got family in Houston. I was offered a sports director job down there. To me Houston is the Seventh Ring of Hell with its humidity so I want no part of living there full time. I’ve heard Austin was cool, which is why I would go there. If it’s a football town I think I could do it.

Here’s what sucks, Brian, I don’t think I’d move because I just don’t know financially. When I was going to go to Austin, they shut that station down. It was the home of the Longhorns and they flipped it from sports to news six months after I would have moved there. I just don’t know. I’m 46. I’ve got two kids. I own a house. I just don’t know that I need to chase the dream necessarily anymore but I don’t want to quit doing talk shows. If you let me live here, I’ll do radio anywhere. We’ve been doing shows from our basement since March.

I guess I just get worried about people’s commitment to things. Kroenke has shown great commitment to us. I love working for Dave Tepper. I’ve had a lot of great bosses, but Dave has a game plan and Dave has explained the game plan to me. I just really believe what Dave Tepper is doing. I think a lot of the people I’ve worked for and yet Dave is still the best because I’ve never had a guy give me the plan so that you can buy in. I need to work for a guy like Dave Tepper. As you well know, there are plenty of guys out there that just want you to shut up and do what I’m telling you to do. Well I’m the creative entity here. I need you to give me a little more leeway than that.

I’m hoping this works because I don’t want to make any more tough decisions. I know I’m a Denver guy. I know for some people they’ve said maybe you need to get out and test yourself elsewhere. Why? I know this town. I know this community. I know what they want. I’ve been on Patriots radio where I’ve tried to break down why I thought the Broncos were going to win. “Oh you’re a homer, you suck. You’re not negative enough.” All right man, that’s cool. But that’s not how we do it out here. We help each other out here. It’s a competitive situation but people are polite. 

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It’s a different vibe out here than the East Coast. And the LA guys; it’s all about getting seen and getting heard. I respect it. I’m not knocking the way anybody does it but I do think there’s an advantage for me to understand how it operates here, and to your point, I’d have to go to some place that vibes like Denver for it to work. I am not everybody’s cup of tea and I know it.

BSM Writers

The Future Is Now, Embrace Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible.

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This week has been a reckoning for sports and its streaming future on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, ESPN+, and more.

Amazon announced that Thursday Night Football, which averaged 13 million viewers, generated the highest number of U.S. sign ups over a three hour period in the app’s history. More people in the United States subscribed to Prime during the September 15th broadcast than they did during Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday. It was also “the most watched night of primetime in Prime Video’s history,” according to Amazon executive Jay Marine. The NFL and sports in general have the power to move mountains even for some of the nation’s biggest and most successful brands.

This leads us to the conversation happening surrounding Aaron Judge’s chase for history. Judge has been in pursuit of former major leaguer Roger Maris’ record for the most home runs hit during one season in American League history.

The sports world has turned its attention to the Yankees causing national rights holders such as ESPN, Fox, and TBS to pick up extra games in hopes that they capture the moment history is made. Apple TV+ also happened to have a Yankees game scheduled for Friday night against the Red Sox right in the middle of this chase for glory.

Baseball fans have been wildin’ out at the prospects of missing the grand moment when Judge passes Maris or even the moments afterwards as Judge chases home run number 70 and tries to truly create monumental history of his own. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand has even reported there were talks between YES, MLB, and Apple to bring Michael Kay into Apple’s broadcast to call the game, allow YES Network to air its own production of the game, or allow YES Network to simulcast Apple TV+’s broadcast. In my opinion, all of this hysteria is extremely bogus.

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible. Amazon brought in NBC to help with production of TNF and if you watch the flow of the broadcast, the graphics of the broadcast, NBC personalities like Michael Smith, Al Michaels, and Terry McAuliffe make appearances on the telecast – it is very clear that the network’s imprint is all over the show.

NBC’s experience in conducting the broadcast has made the viewing experience much more seamless. Apple has also used MLB Network and its personalities for assistance in ensuring there’s no major difference between what you see on air vs. what you’re streaming.

Amazon and Apple have also decided to not hide their games behind a paywall. Since the beginning of the season, all of Apple’s games have been available free of charge. No subscription has ever been required. As long as you have an Apple device and can download Apple TV+, you can watch their MLB package this season.

Guess what? Friday’s game against the Red Sox is also available for free on your iPhone, your laptop, or your TV simply by downloading the AppleTV app. Amazon will also simulcast all Thursday Night Football games on Twitch for free. It may be a little harder or confusing to find the free options, but they are out there and they are legal and, once again, they are free.

Apple has invested $85 million into baseball, money that will go towards your team becoming better hypothetically. They’ve invested money towards creating a new kind of streaming experience. Why in the hell would they offer YES Network this game for free? There’s no better way for them to drive subscriptions to their product than by offering fans a chance at watching history on their platform.

A moment like this are the main reason Apple paid for rights in the first place. When Apple sees what the NFL has done for Amazon in just one week and coincidentally has the ability to broadcast one of the biggest moments in baseball history – it would be a terrible business decision to let viewers watch it outside of the Apple ecosystem and lose the ability to gain new fans.

It’s time for sports fans to grow up and face reality. Streaming is here to stay. 

MLB Network is another option

If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of watching the Yankees take on the Red Sox for free on Apple TV+, MLB Network will also air all of Judge’s at bats live as they are happening. In case the moment doesn’t happen on Apple TV+ on Friday night, Judge’s next games will air in full on MLB Network (Saturday), ESPN (Sunday), MLB Network again (Monday), TBS (Tuesday) and MLB Network for a third time on Wednesday. All of MLB Network’s games will be simulcast of YES Network’s local New York broadcast. It wouldn’t shock me to see Fox pick up another game next Thursday if the pursuit still maintains national interest.

Quick bites

  • One of the weirdest things about the experience of streaming sports is that you lose the desire to channel surf. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Brandon Ross of LightShed Ventures wonders if the difficulty that comes with going from app to app will help Amazon keep viewers on TNF the entire time no matter what the score of the game is. If it does, Amazon needs to work on developing programming to surround the games or start replaying the games, pre and post shows so that when you fall asleep and wake up you’re still on the same stream on Prime Video or so that coming to Prime Video for sports becomes just as much of a habit for fans as tuning in to ESPN is.
  • CNN has announced the launch of a new morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. Variety reports, “Two people familiar with plans for the show say it is likely to use big Warner Bros. properties — a visit from the cast of HBO’s Succession or sports analysis from TNT’s NBA crew — to lure eyeballs.” It’ll be interesting to see if Turner Sports becomes a cornerstone of this broadcast. Will the NBA start doing schedule releases during the show? Will a big Taylor Rooks interview debut on this show before it appears on B/R? Will the Stanley Cup or Final Four MVP do an interview on CNN’s show the morning after winning the title? Does the show do remote broadcasts from Turner’s biggest sports events throughout the year?
  • The Clippers are back on over the air television. They announced a deal with Nexstar to broadcast games on KTLA and other Nexstar owned affiliates in California. The team hasn’t reached a deal to air games on Bally Sports SoCal or Bally Sports Plus for the upcoming season. Could the Clippers pursue a solo route and start their own OTT service in time for the season? Are they talking to Apple, Amazon, or ESPN about a local streaming deal? Is Spectrum a possible destination? I think these are all possibilities but its likely that the Clippers end up back on Bally Sports since its the status quo. I just find it interesting that it has taken so long to solidify an agreement and that it wasn’t announced in conjunction with the KTLA deal. The Clippers are finally healthy this season, moving into a new arena soon, have the technology via Second Spectrum to produce immersive game casts. Maybe something is brewing?
  • ESPN’s Monday Night Football double box was a great concept. The execution sucked. Kudos to ESPN for adjusting on the fly once complaints began to lodge across social media. I think the double box works as a separate feed. ESPN2 should’ve been the home to the double box. SVP and Stanford Steve could’ve held a watch party from ESPN’s DC studio with special guests. The double box watch party on ESPN2 could’ve been interrupted whenever SVP was giving an update on games for ESPN and ABC. It would give ESPN2 a bit of a behind the scenes look at how the magic happens similarly to what MLB Tonight did last week. Credit to ESPN and the NFL for experimenting and continuing to try and give fans unique experiences.

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BSM Writers

ESPN Shows Foresight With Monday Night Football Doubleheader Timing

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7 and then 10 on their primary channel.

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The Monday Night Football doubleheader was a little bit different this time around for ESPN.

First, it came in Week 2 instead of Week 1. And then, the games were staggered 75 minutes apart on two different channels, the Titans and Bills beginning on ESPN at 7:15 PM ET and the Vikings at the Eagles starting at 8:30 PM on ABC and ESPN+. This was a departure from the usual schedule in which the games kicked off at 7:00 PM ET and then 10:00 PM ET with the latter game on the West Coast.

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7:00 PM and then 10:00 PM ET on their primary channel. That’s the typical approach, right? The NFL is the most valuable offering in all of sports and ESPN would have at least six consecutive hours of live programming without any other game to switch to.

Instead, they staggered the starts so the second game kicked off just before the first game reached halftime. They placed the games on two different channels, which risked cannibalizing their audience. Why? Well, it’s the same reason that ESPN was so excited about the last year’s Manningcast that it’s bringing it back for 10 weeks this season. ESPN is not just recognizing the reality of how their customers behave, but they’re embracing it.

Instead of hoping with everything they have that the customer stays in one place for the duration of the game, they’re recognizing the reality that they will leave and providing another product within their portfolio to be a destination when they do.

It’s the kind of experiment everyone in broadcasting should be investigating because, for all the talk about meeting the customer where they are, we still tend to be a little bit stubborn about adapting to what they do. 

Customers have more choices than ever when it comes to media consumption. First, cable networks softened the distribution advantages of broadcast networks, and now digital offerings have eroded the distribution advantages of cable networks. It’s not quite a free-for-all, but the battle for viewership is more intense, more wide open than ever because that viewer has so many options of not just when and where but how they will consume media.

Programmers have a choice in how to react to this. On the one hand, they can hold on tighter to the existing model and try to squeeze as much out of it as they can. If ESPN was thinking this way it would stack those two Monday night games one after the other just like it always has and hope like hell for a couple of close games to juice the ratings. Why would you make it impossible for your customer to watch both of these products you’ve paid so much to televise?

I’ve heard radio programmers and hosts recite take this same approach for more than 10 years now when it comes to making shows available on-demand. Why would you give your customers the option of consuming the product in a way that’s not as remunerative or in a way that is not measured?

That thinking is outdated and it is dangerous from an economic perspective because it means you’re trying to make the customer behave in your best interest by restricting their choices. And maybe that will work. Maybe they like that program enough that they’ll consume it in the way you’d prefer or maybe they decide that’s inconvenient or annoying or they decide to try something else and now this customer who would have listened to your product in an on-demand format is choosing to listen to someone else’s product entirely.

After all, you’re the only one that is restricting that customer’s choices because you’re the only one with a desire to keep your customer where he is. Everyone else is more than happy to give your customer something else. 

There’s a danger in holding on too tightly to the existing model because the tighter you squeeze, the more customers will slip through your fingers, and if you need a physical demonstration to complete this metaphor go grab a handful of sand and squeeze it hard.

Your business model is only as good as its ability to predict the behavior of your customers, and as soon as it stops doing that, you need to adjust that business model. Don’t just recognize the reality that customers today will exercise the freedom that all these media choices provide, embrace it.

Offer more products. Experiment with more ways to deliver those products. The more you attempt to dictate the terms of your customer’s engagement with your product, the more customers you’ll lose, and by accepting this you’ll open yourself to the reality that if your customer is going to leave your main offering, it’s better to have them hopping to another one of your products as opposed to leaving your network entirely.

Think in terms of depth of engagement, and breadth of experience. That’s clearly what ESPN is doing because conventional thinking would see the Manningcast as a program that competes with the main Monday Night Football broadcast, that cannibalizes it. ESPN sees it as a complimentary experience. An addition to the main broadcast, but it also has the benefit that if the customer feels compelled to jump away from the main broadcast – for whatever reason – it has another ESPN offering that they may land on.

I’ll be watching to see what ESPN decides going forward. The network will have three Monday Night Football doubleheaders beginning next year, and the game times have not been set. Will they line them up back-to-back as they had up until this year? If they do it will be a vote of confidence that its traditional programming approach that evening is still viable. But if they overlap those games going forward, it’s another sign that less is not more when it comes to giving your customers a choice in products.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: Sunday Ticket Has Problems, Marcellus Wiley Does Not

Demetri Ravanos

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On this episode of Media Noise, Demetri is joined by Brian Noe to talk about the wild year FS1’s Marcellus Wiley has had and by Garrett Searight to discuss the tumultuous present and bright future of NFL Sunday Ticket.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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