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ESPN Launching Digital Betting Show Ahead Of UFC Events

“When Brett and I break down each matchup, the goal is to educate the audience and provide information that is easily understood.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Elizabeth Bucheit/ESPN

The UFC and betting are deeply intertwined, and ESPN is ready to capitalize on that relationship with a new show. Brett Okamoto and Ian Parker are the hosts of Best Bets on the ESPN MMA YouTube channel, airing before every pay-per-view UFC card.

“The UFC fan base continues to grow, and we need to keep raising our game to best serve them,” ESPN vice president of production Glenn Jacobs said in the announcement. “These three new shows give fans a lot of unique content to enjoy across a variety of ESPN’s platforms. Our MMA team is excited to add a betting show to the mix, with the addition of Ian Parker, which will give fans the latest information they need to get ready for Fight Nights and PPVs on ESPN+.”

Parker is joining ESPN in a more defined role after appearing on multiple Professional Fighters League broadcasts this year. Previously part of the Florida Panthers sales team in the NHL, Parker has busted down obstacles for 12 years, waiting for this chance.

“When Brett and I break down each matchup, the goal is to educate the audience and provide information that is easily understood,” Parker said. “We don’t just say who will win, but how. Also, we explain how to find value based on the odds of the various prop bets that are based on how the fight will be decided and when…It’s been years of hard work. Sometimes, you have to keep grinding until you get your shot. This is the opportunity I’ve been working for.”

Fans shouldn’t expect to hear Parker rip any fighter too much if they don’t cash a ticket for him and the viewers.

“I never call any fighter a loser or a bum,” he continued. “I have too much respect for the blood, sweat, and tears behind their journey to get in there.”

The first live version of the show airs next week.

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John Jastremski Fires Back After Craig Carton Criticism

“I’m not listening to a crook. So you know what? Go take a f—ing hike. How about that.”

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Earlier this week, WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton said John Jastremski — a former WFAN host now hosting a podcast for The Ringer — “shunned” his radio career advice.

During his New York New York podcast Thursday, Jastremski strongly condemned Carton’s remarks.

“I don’t like going here with this stuff, ’cause I know this plays right into what this guy likes to do,” Jastremski said. “This is his M.O. This is what he’s done his entire career. It’s what he’s done for his entire career and he’s had success doing it. He lives for this stuff. But it really set me off. It set me off because I gotta see it on Barrett Sports Media while I’m on vacation. Like I wanna be bothered with this shit, number one. Number two, it’s just tone-deaf, insulting, and flat-out rude every which way.

“Number one: going after people who work at McDonald’s? Who the hell are you to do that? Number two: You’re insulting a multi-billion dollar company where I work. I have a great job, a great platform, a great producer. I have two great jobs, I might add. And you’re insulting both of them. By the way, you’re on that network. Five days a week. And you’re insulting that network. How stupid are you? Taking shots at people of the network you’re on, I’m on. And I could tell you, it pays well. I do ok.

“As for career advice? Guess what? I listen to legends. Bill Simmons, you ever hear of him? Worth a lot more than you. Mike Francesa? My boy Adam Schein? I listen to those guys. I’m not listening to a crook. So you know what? Go take a f—ing hike. How about that.”

Calling Carton a crook harkens back to the WFAN afternoon host’s stint in federal prison for participating in a ponzi scheme that scammed investors out of $5.6 million that he in turn used to pay off gambling debts. Carton was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison before serving just over a year in prison before being released in 2020.

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The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz Moving To New Studio

The show continued to be recorded inside the studio at the Clevelander after it departed ESPN Radio’s national lineup in 2021.

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Dan Le Batard Show

The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz is leaving its home at the Clevelander hotel on South Beach in Miami and moving into a new studio next year, according to a report from The Big Lead.

The show continued to be recorded inside the studio at the Clevelander after it departed ESPN Radio’s national lineup in 2021. It has remained the home for the show since Le Batard and John Skipper formed Meadowlark Media.

After a $50 million distribution deal with DraftKings was secured, the Meadowlark podcast network has grown in both reach and talent, allowing for an expanded studio space.

No immediate details were given on where the new studio space would be located.

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NSMA Announces Finalists for Awards, Hall of Fame

Final voting for the statewide and national awards, as well as for the Hall of Fame, will take place throughout this month, and the winners and inductees will be announced on January 9.

Jordan Bondurant

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The National Sports Media Association revealed its finalists for its national sportscaster of the year and national sportswriter of the year, and there are plenty of heavy hitters in the industry up for consideration for the NSMA awards.

Among the nominees for National Sportscaster of the Year include Al Michaels, Ian Eagle, Jim Nantz, Joe Buck, Kevin Harlan, and Mike Tirico. The full list includes Adam Amin, Jason Benetti, Joe Davis, and Mina Kimes.

For National Sportswriter of the Year, Adrian Wojnarowski, Ken Rosenthal, Nicole Auerbach, Pete Thamel, Pat Forde and Tom Verducci are among the biggest names. Candace Buckner, Katie Strang, Marc Spears and Wright Thomson round out the list of nominees.

The NMSA also revealed its finalists for the sportscaster and sportswriter Hall of Fame. James Brown, Joe Buck, Lee Corso and Tim McCarver are part of the sportscaster list, while Bill Plaschke and Ray Didinger appear among the names for the sportswriter hall of fame.

Final voting for the statewide and national awards, as well as for the Hall of Fame, will take place throughout this month, and the winners and inductees will be announced on January 9.

Winners and Hall of Famers will be honored at the NSMA Awards Weekend & National Convention held in Winston-Salem, N.C. June 24-26.

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