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Don’t Tell Jake Marsh He’s Too Professional For Barstool

“There really is one else like me here. And I think that gives me a cool, unique opportunity to be like, alright ‘I’m the only one who’s going to wear the suit on the camera.’”

Brady Farkas

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A square peg isn’t supposed to fit in a round hole. 

But in this case, it does.

On the surface, Jake Marsh doesn’t belong at Barstool Sports. He doesn’t fit the box that you think Barstool employees fit into and he doesn’t act the way that some of you expect Barstool personalities to act.

Even as I write this, I’m not sure why it works. It just does.

Marsh is an aspiring network play-by-play broadcaster who has grown immensely since being hired as an intern on Pardon My Take to simply play a spoof of Darren Rovell. He hosts his own college basketball podcast at the network, has covered the Final Four and traveled to Super Bowl Media Week. And he would have been the play-by-play voice of the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl this past college football season, had it not been canceled because of COVID-19. 

Marsh’s goals are lofty. While he’s very happy at Barstool and told BSM he has no immediate plans to leave the company, he wants to be the voice of a Final Four for a major network like Jim Nantz and he wants to be part of a Super Bowl broadcast like Nantz, and another idol, Mike Tirico. But the route he’s taking to that dream is certainly unconventional.

“It’s not really a secret. It definitely is my goal to one day become a big network, play-by-play broadcaster,” Marsh told BSM. “And they know that here, and they’re very supportive of that dream. But the reason I came here is because I saw a real unique opportunity and a chance to get the best of both worlds.”

Having graduated from Syracuse University in 2018, Marsh spent the 2018-19 college basketball season as the voice of the University of Vermont men’s basketball team, a Catamount team that got to the NCAA Tournament before losing to Florida State in the Round of 64. 

He always intended to go back for year two at UVM, but in the off-season he applied for the internship position with Pardon My Take, landed it, and moved to New York for the summer. But then, something that doesn’t usually happen, happened. Barstool extended his internship through the next basketball season and allowed him to work remotely for the company while spending the 2019-20 season working on the UVM games.

And when the Catamounts season ended abruptly in March 2020 because of the pandemic, Marsh began working at Barstool full-time, and even as professional and college sports were shut down, he got to keep his play-by-play skills strong by broadcasting some of the innovative things Barstool came up with during that time.

“When I came here full-time, they introduced an idea to me called Stool Streams where I would do play-by-play for table tennis, Jenga and cornhole and things like that,” Marsh said. “We don’t do that anymore, but that was a good way to keep the play-by-play groove alive. And also, I saw the way the company was going — the direction it was going in. They say ‘to the moon’ here. And I think part of that means ‘to the moon’ in broadcasting too…I got the nod to call the Arizona Bowl game with Dan (Katz) and Dave (Portnoy), and they, unfortunately, canceled it due to COVID three days prior, but I had all my prep done. We had interviews with Boise State and Central Michigan lined up. So that is the beginning of what I certainly hope is a giant, giant place at this company in terms of live rights.”

Marsh says he hopes to get the opportunity this year to actually call the bowl game and reiterated that he hopes there’s more live broadcasting opportunities to come at the company.

“There’s definitely still an opportunity to chase my dream while I’m here,” he said.

But another part of that dream was reached a month ago as Marsh traveled to the Final Four in New Orleans for the first time as a media member. It turned out to be one the biggest Final Fours in history.

“That was obviously a Final Four that no one will ever forget…That was really cool to spend time with whole PMT crew and the guys on my podcast, Bench Mob,” he said. “That was awesome. Just going to see Coach K’s last game and the Duke-UNC aspect of it. That was really cool.”

But despite all that growth over the last two years, he still has those aspirations of moving into a major network chair like Nantz or Tirico, and in order to get there, Marsh knows it’s a balancing act between fitting in with the Barstool culture, while also maintaining a level of decorum that is expected from a major network personality.

For example, he famously doesn’t curse on the air. 

“Obviously there’s a little more looseness here in terms of how you conduct yourself, but I still keep the professionalism in my mind,” he says. “I still want that to be the main part of my identity here.”

Even 1,000 words in, I can’t help but playfully chuckle to myself as I write this. It just doesn’t seem like Marsh should fit at Barstool. It just doesn’t!

He’s too buttoned up. He’s too professional. He doesn’t embrace some of the chaos that Barstool thrives on. 

But in his mind? That’s exactly why he does fit.

“There really is one else like me here. And I think that gives me a cool, unique opportunity to be like, alright ‘I’m the only one who’s going to wear the suit on the camera.’ I have a different perspective of sports compared to everyone else here and it kind of meshes well, right?” he says. “You look at me, with Big Cat and PFT, obviously we all share the same passion and love for sports, but when I’m watching a game, I’m like, ‘Ooooh, I really liked the way that Mike Tirico described the running back, but when Big Cat is watching that same play he’s like ‘Damn it, I need a first down, I need to win my bet.. So, I think that’s what makes it work.”

Marsh may one day reach his ultimate aspirations of becoming a network broadcaster and he may end up following in the footsteps of his media idol, but for now?  Barstool is a perfect fit.

Even if it doesn’t always seem like it should be on the surface.

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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