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Brandon Tierney Is Passionate & Loud

“I have never been a guy that just rolls in unprepared, opens the mic and just f***s around.”

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Going back to January 2nd, 2013, aside from the more than a year of working from home during the pandemic, Brooklyn native Brandon Tierney walked through the glass doors of the WFAN studios in New York City every day to do his show.  But while the doors read “WFAN”, Tierney entered the studios to do his national show on CBS Sports Radio.  He was home in the New York area after spending some time in San Francisco, but he wasn’t truly home in terms of talking New York sports like he had done at a previous stop on his journey.

But Tierney’s homecoming was completed in January of this year when Audacy brought him and his partner Tiki Barber over from CBS Sports Radio and moved Tiki and Tierney down the hall to be the new 10am to 2pm midday show on WFAN.

“I missed the energy,” admitted Tierney. “You can’t replicate that.  There’s no way around it.  The beat is stronger.  It’s an injection of energy for me.  My style is very consistent with who I am off-air.  I’m very much a communicator.  I’m passionate.  I’m loud.  I like to debate.  Some of those qualities, just by the nature of the genre, were a little suppressed on national radio.”  

“BT” enjoyed his time doing national radio as it allowed him to grow as both a talk-show host and also as a broadcaster.  Tierney, who is also part of the St. John’s University radio broadcast team, brought his passion and energy to work with him each and every day at CBS Sports Radio but also had an eye on moving down the hall on the 10th floor at 345 Hudson Street.

In Tierney’s mind, getting back to New York radio was inevitable.    

“I was able to expand in certain areas and, I think, get better as a broadcaster,” said Tierney of his time on national radio. “But I was always driving in and keeping my ear on the FAN and the other local station and wondering when I would get back into the game…not if…when I would get back into the local game.  It seems like the timing is right and it was meant to be.”

Tierney’s first foray into New York sports radio came in April 2003 when he left Sports Radio 1130 “The Fan” in Detroit to come home to work in New York.  He began a run at what was then 1050 ESPN Radio (now 98.7 FM ESPN New York) and was there until May of 2011.  In addition to his hosting duties at the station, Tierney was also involved in New York Knicks broadcasts hosting pre-game, halftime and post-game while also filling in on play-by-play from time to time.       

During Tierney’s run at ESPN Radio, he experienced a spectrum of emotions.

“There were times when it felt like a really small station…not quite the major leagues,” recalled Tierney.  “And other times, it absolutely did.  I think it was a good window where I can make some mistakes and maybe not feel the heat if I made those same mistakes on WFAN.  I could experiment a little bit.  What that did for me was it really forced me, trained me and taught me how to really craft a conversation and not just be overly reliant on phone calls because there were some nights when they weren’t there.”

And that is something that is not a problem at his new prime real estate during middays at WFAN.  Tierney is “galvanized” to be back on the New York airwaves and has rediscovered a certain “energy” to start the show every day.   He only knows one way of hosting a show and that is, as I steal a line from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to “Just Bring It” each and every day on the air.

To not have that feeling is something that just doesn’t resonate with him.

“I get uncomfortable if I feel like the show doesn’t have an energy, a pop or a sizzle, and maybe sometimes I’ll try to force it and maybe that’s not the best thing,” said Tierney.  “I have never been a guy that just rolls in unprepared, opens the mic and just f***s around.   I’m not saying every show is an A+ but my motivation is to make it an A+.  I never lost that drive nationally, but it’s a renewed vigor being back home.”

While Tierney is finally back “home” in New York radio on WFAN, he’s along for the ride with his longtime partner and former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber.  It’s been a partnership that began in 2013 and has grown into a radio team that exhibits a tremendous amount of chemistry.  Both Brandon and Tiki bring their own skillset to the table and what makes them unique individually has helped them evolve into a wonderful tag team on the air.

“We have a great relationship,” said Tierney.  “What I bring to the table, he needed and I think what he brings to the table, I needed.”  

As Tierney and Barber continued to work with each other over the years, they grew stronger as a team because they learned a lot from each other.  Brandon was the “radio” guy while Tiki was the “ex-jock” and with those qualities came the evolution of a show where the hosts developed the strong ability to play off each other and to take advantage of their strengths.  

“When we first started, Tiki was a little stiff on the air and he needed to learn to be vulnerable,” said Tierney.  “He was reluctant to let it fly early on.  I think being with me and seeing how I comport myself on the air just having a conversation and understanding that sometimes you’re going to piss people off and sometimes you’re going to be wrong…that’s benefited him.”

And how has Barber helped Tierney?

“What’s benefited me is that I really had to learn to not be the guy that thinks he knows everything on the air,” said Tierney.  “Working with somebody that is very different in terms of temperament and just everything about him.  I just think we complement each other very well.”  

Tierney joined WFAN as part of the country’s first all-sports radio station’s revamped lineup that kicked off back in January.  The very successful “Boomer and Gio” morning show was joined by “Tiki and Tierney” middays, “Carton and Roberts” as the new afternoon drive-time show, Keith McPherson at night and Sal Licata overnights.  

With new Vice-President of Programming Spike Eskin now in charge, WFAN has entered a new era and Tierney is not only a big part of it but relishes the opportunity in front of him.

“It’s an honor to be in the middle of that change and that new wave of voices because the station has always meant so much to me,” said Tierney. “When you put it partially in the hands of somebody who has always revered WFAN and what it represents and always wanted to be a part of the fabric of WFAN, you know that I’m going to protect it and give it every ounce of energy and everything that I can possibly conjure up to make sure that it not only works but to elevate it from what it was.”  

With a storied history that included iconic shows like “Imus in the Morning”, “Mike and the Mad Dog” and Steve Somers, WFAN has now turned the reigns over to the next generation of on-air personalities and while the bar has already been set very high, Tierney figures why just settle for the same success of the past.

“You don’t want it to be as good as it was,” said Tierney.  “You want to take it to the next step.  As corny as it sounds, that’s what I strive to do every day.”

Brandon Tierney may have returned “home” from San Francisco in 2013, but he is now truly “home” talking New York sports on WFAN and bringing his trademark passion and energy to the audience he missed talking to for many years.  

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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