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Kyle Bailey Is Ready For The Challenge In Every Opportunity

“My parents told me early, ‘If you want to do this, do it, but you’ve got to go at it [with] full force; you can’t be lazy; you’ve got to take every opportunity that comes.'”

Derek Futterman

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Kyle Bailey

In June 2014, Kyle Bailey was at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil amid a crowd of 200,000 people who had traveled to the city to be present for the FIFA World Cup Finals between Germany and Argentina.

Not only was Bailey there to take in the scene surrounding the international football tournament, but he was also conducting research for his master’s thesis in geography as a student at Virginia Tech. The thesis was focused on Rio de Janeiro’s tendency to host large events and use them as catalysts to effectuate political agendas, multifaceted journalism and social activism.

Fast-forward to the present moment when Argentina just captured its first FIFA World Cup tournament title since 1986, and Bailey’s research has somewhat been confirmed in seeing the indelible impact of the accolades earned by superstar Lionel Messi and the country’s national football team. Evidently, it is indicative of the power sports continues to garner in all aspects of modern society.

“When you take a look at what’s going on internationally as opposed to our often-myopic view of U.S. sports, it is eye-opening; there’s no doubt about that,” Bailey said. “….It just kind of transported me back to that [time] and it really does give you a much broader perspective on how the world views sports relative to how we look at things here in the U.S.”

Bailey was raised within a blue-collar working family in Virginia, and the importance of developing and sustaining a stellar work ethic was communicated to him in his formative years. While wanting to work in sports media as a baseball play-by-play announcer differs from his blue-collar background, he had the support of his family so long as he put himself in the best position to succeed in his endeavors.

“The idea of not working hard is a foreign concept to me,” he said. “…[My parents] told me early, ‘If you want to do this, do it, but you’ve got to go at it [with] full force; you can’t be lazy; you’ve got to take every opportunity that comes,’ and I’ve tried to live by that.”

Bailey attended Virginia Tech as an undergraduate student majoring in both geospatial and environmental analysis and with communications. During his time at the school, he participated in various student-run organizations and gained professional experience by interning at ESPN Radio AM 1430 in Blacksburg. While at the station, he did his best to stand out among others to demonstrate his skills and abilities and position himself for a career in sports media.

“Being from the area growing up 10 minutes from Virginia Tech, it wasn’t hard for me to start inserting myself into opportunities because I knew everybody,” Bailey explained. “I just leveraged my familiarity with the place and the people [and] started calling games and hosting shows…. I took a full-load of classes but I was as focused on broadcasting opportunities as I was school.”

After earning his undergraduate degree in 2009, Bailey began his career as an account executive with Clear Channel Media where he worked on the business side of media and contributed to marketing endeavors related to the conglomerate. A few years later, he began hosting The Clubhouse with Kyle Bailey in afternoon drive on Super Sports 101.7 FM in Blacksburg, bringing his conversational hosting style to the air to discuss collegiate and professional sports.

As a radio host in a smaller market, he aimed to go “beyond the box score” in his programming by localizing national stories and including relevant guests who could speak to the locale.

“My approach… is either getting A-list guests or local guests; I don’t really care for much in-between,” he said. “….I want the local TV guy who’s always covering these stories because that’s truly what people come in for and not necessarily the opinions or views of a somewhat obscure… columnist if you know what I mean.”

At the same time, he was hosting studio coverage for Virginia Tech Hokies football and basketball with Dwight Vick and Bimbo Coles, respectively. Hosting pregame shows is about setting the stage for the upcoming matchup, making fans aware of key storylines, breaking news and other information pertaining to the team so they are informed and ready to take in the action.

“It’s all about building up to the moment; building the anticipation and telling those stories in doing so,” Bailey expressed. “That’s what it’s really about, especially on the pregame front.”

Bailey desired to work in sports media to become a play-by-play announcer, but he has been open to any opportunities that have become available throughout his career. In 2013, he was given a chance to do play-by-play with the Virginia High School League Network for which he provided play-by-play for various sports including baseball, basketball and football.

He has worked as a freelance play-by-play announcer as well, being the soundtrack for viewers of events such as Dixie World Series Baseball, NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball and the Division III College Football All-Star Game among others.

“You have to master [the fundamentals] first and foremost before you can ever start to inject any sort of style or flair or even storytelling because you’ve got to start with the score; the time; the possession; what’s at stake; who the players are on the court,” Bailey said. “If you haven’t eaten your vegetables so to speak when you’re doing play-by-play, you’re not going to be very effective.”

During the 2015 season, Bailey worked as the director of broadcast and communications for the Pulaski Yankees, who were the Appalachian League affiliate of the New York Yankees until 2020. Aside from following the team as its play-by-play announcer for all regular and postseason home games broadcast to various media outlets, he had a plethora of other responsibilities – including creating audio production, formatting pregame and postgame shows and writing scripts.

“You understand pretty quickly what it takes to pull off a successful broadcast at any level,” he affirmed. “Especially at the minor league level where, much like the organization itself, it’s all hands on deck; everybody’s chipping in and doing something that’s not necessarily a part of their job description – the broadcast is no different.”

A few years earlier, Bailey had helped pioneer Friday Football Early Edition, a high school football pregame show syndicated across the state of Virginia, co-hosting the program with WDBJ7 sports director Travis Wells. Working with Three Daughters Media, he would put together that show while traveling across the state to different college football venues to work in his role with Virginia Tech on Saturdays. It was a stressful period with very little downtime; nonetheless, the relationships and on-air repetitions he gained from those experiences made it worthwhile.

“It was built off kind of an institutional TV show called Friday Football Extra and we decided, ‘Hey, let’s do the early edition with the pregame show,’” he said. “….Unfortunately, that show ended not because it wasn’t popular or successful but for sales reasons and some other business-type reasons that were beyond our control. That was one of those things that I was low-key pretty proud of that we were able to pull that off as well as we did.”

In order to continue his movement into the industry, Bailey realized in early 2016 that it was time to relocate to a larger market within the area, hence why he landed in Charleston, SC. His work ethic and endurance paid dividends during that time when he would often clock in 16 hour days working in three different roles simultaneously.

In the mornings, Bailey would wake up at 4:30 a.m. to get to the studios in time to host a morning drive show titled Bailey & Bradford. The show was initially broadcast on Sports Radio 1450; however in October 2016, it moved to The Zone 98.5 FM/1340 AM. Hosting in the mornings differed from his previous role in afternoon drive since he would often have the first reaction to the events that took place the night before.

“You are expected to be a human alarm clock for your listeners,” Bailey said. “You’ve got to bring energy and you’re quite often simply reacting.”

Once the show concluded at 9 a.m., Bailey would change into a suit and tie where he would meet with executives working in sales and advertising in order to try to sell them on Kirkman Broadcasting. As an account executive, his job was to attract advertisers and collaborate with other departments to increase aggregate revenue.

After he completed those responsibilities, there would be days where he would go to a basketball arena to call Citadel Bulldogs basketball games as a fill-in announcer where he would continue to hone his announcing skills.

All-in-all, it was quite a grind but it was an undertaking that helped propel him to work in Charlotte starting the next year, bringing back The Clubhouse with Kyle Bailey in afternoon drive.

“There’s a lot of repackaging going on by the time you get to the afternoon – and that’s in addition to my own opinions; my own perspectives and guests,” Bailey said. “If you’re able to successfully incorporate all of that, you’ll look up and a three or four hour show is going to be over pretty quickly.”

Today, Bailey is with WFNZ hosting the same show he created from 2011 to 2016, albeit in a much larger marketplace with two professional sports teams and a host of collegiate athletics to cover. Despite switching locations, the show follows a similar style to his previous program; that is, conversational where listeners are invited to call in and pertinent guests are featured to enhance or pose new angles of discussion.

“The idea that I wouldn’t take phone calls from invested Panthers and Hornets fans; Tar Heels fans; NC State fans; [and] NASCAR fans is just such a foreign concept for me,” Bailey said, “and I love not only talking with listeners but getting to know them so well that I know who’s on the line ready to talk to me before I even bring them up or we continue a conversation [from the] last time they called in. WFNZ has been around for a long time before me; it’ll be around for a long time after me. I think it’s important for me to treat this as a community-city platform everybody’s invested in.”

Bailey works with Radio One Regional Vice President Marsha Landess and Program Director Jeff Rickard and is grateful for their leadership in the industry. Over the years, there have been times where Bailey has felt as if he was being guided by less than adequate people in the industry – but in his current role, he understands everything being done is in the station’s best interest.

“These are two people who not only care about our success, but have shown a genuine care factor in not just me but in our staff as people and they treat us accordingly,” Bailey said. “They’re invested in our success [and] they’ve shown us that.”

The modern media landscape can be presented in stark contrast to what it looked like one decade ago when Bailey was just starting as an afternoon drive host in Blacksburg, Va. The growth of digital platforms have provided consumers new ways to find and listen to content and significantly expanded its reach. Additionally, it has rendered the Nielsen ratings less reliable in terms of determining the success of a radio show, making the jobs of those inside the building more comprehensive in terms of extrapolating best practices to appeal to a broad audience.

“We got [data] back last month… that [said] our podcast [downloads] had jumped 26% which is a massive number,” Bailey said. “I think we had a little over 100,000 unique tap-ins to the stream which was really, really encouraging and great news to get, but it also just reminded me that whatever the cume number says; whatever the traditional Nielsen ratings number says – as important as that still is to traditional radio – our digital presence is more important than ever.”

Although there is 730 The Game ESPN Charlotte located just down the street and WBCN Fox Sports Radio Charlotte in the area as well, WFNZ is the only fully-staffed sports radio station in the city and it has traditionally dominated in the ratings. Being in a market where there is ostensibly a lack of competition, at least in the sports radio format, does not foster complacency in the mindset of Bailey though, as the actions of those entities have no effect on what he is trying to do. Instead, he focuses on himself and his own job so he can serve his listeners.

“I’m here to entertain the people who tune in every day; to be informative; to be entertaining; and to give them a reason to listen to me,” Bailey said. “….My obligation is to the people who tune in and listen to me every day to give them the best of what we possibly can and I pay absolutely no attention to what’s going on down the street.”

On the side, Bailey is hosting a podcast with Roman Harper called Bailey & Harper in which they delve into topics beyond sports, effectively creating a portal through which consumers can get a look into quotidian conversations between friends. They created the podcast after developing a following when working in radio together and seek to cultivate a product they look back on fondly when their careers end.

“Roman and I entered into this little venture of ours understanding that we were likely never going to pull Joe Rogan-types of numbers,” Bailey said, “but we had a loyal group of people who discovered us together on the radio a couple of years ago and were willing to follow us to a podcast so we do it for them.”

Akin to what he did in Blacksburg, Bailey is hosting game day studio coverage for the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets, the latter for which the station is the flagship home. Pregame coverage centers around telling the story of the matchup and what is to come and while there is certainly an element of analyzing the game within postgame shows, part of the program that simply cannot be overlooked is implementing fans into the show and hearing their reactions to wins, losses and events associated with them, such as decisions, injuries or narratives.

“You’re taking live phone calls from elated fans or disappointed fans or angry fans right after a game is over,” Bailey said of postgame shows. “It’s very different but in some ways postgame is just as much fun [as pregame].”

Aside from hosting studio coverage, Bailey has also had the opportunity to fill-in as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Charlotte Hornets. His first instance being placed in that role took place last season when the team flew him in to Washington, D.C. to announce a game against the Washington Wizards.

“I just went into it going back and focusing on some old broadcasts and listening to some of my favorite guys in the week leading up [to] just refresh myself,” Bailey said. “My only focus in the game was to make sure I did the fundamentals and let the other stuff happen as it happens. For not having done a game in five years, I walked away from it pretty pleased.”

Bailey compared his start in the industry to Colin Cowherd since they both began in the business looking to become play-by-play announcers in baseball but found chances to start working in talk radio and decided to take the opportunity. He hopes more moments of being able to contribute his voice to live sporting events and depict the action for viewers and listeners alike are ahead in his future as he looks to assimilate into a larger role in play-by-play announcing; however, he wants to do it in tandem as a sports talk radio host.

“I’ve always wanted to do both,” Bailey expressed. “One without the other would be boring to me. I want to call games and host a show because they both scratch an itch that I want to scratch…. Doing some fill-in work for the Hornets and things like that has been just confirmation that that’s really where I want to be.”

While many people are apprehensive towards taking on new opportunities, Kyle Bailey normalized saying ‘Yes’ from a young age. He recognizes how any chance – even a small one – could manifest into something larger down the road within a competitive industry. Being versatile and informed in subject matters other than sports also lends itself to the ability to expand in areas outside of sports media, augmenting the amount of openings available.

“Be well-rounded,” Bailey said. “It’s not about how many box scores you memorize; it’s not how many rosters you memorize. Do you understand politics? Do you understand news? Do you read things that aren’t sports-related? Some of the most compelling conversations that you’ll have on air may very well have nothing to do with sports…. Have a broad spectrum of interests and things that you know and understand.”

BSM Writers

Beyond The Mask: Henrik Lundqvist Embraced 2nd Career in Sports Media

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal.”

Derek Futterman

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Plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, Henrik Lundqvist found himself beneath the bright lights once again, poised to put on a worthy performance. Just as he aimed to stop pucks from going in the net as the star goaltender of the New York Rangers for 15 seasons, Lundqvist sought to captivate viewers as half of a musical duo featuring former NHL forward Paul Bissonnette.

Their performance of “Good Riddance” by Green Day was in tribute to Rick Tocchet, a former NHL on TNT studio analyst who recently departed the network to serve as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Lundqvist serves as a studio analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NHL, breaking down players and teams throughout the broadcast and bringing his own unique style to the set. His pursuit of a post-playing career in sports media was no guarantee from the moment he retired in August 2021; in fact, he never intended to stop playing the game and competing for a Stanley Cup championship at that time.

During the 2019-20 season, Lundqvist had lost playing time to young goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, and by the year’s end, his deal was bought out by the team. In an effort to continue playing, Lundqvist signed a contract with the Washington Capitals – marking the first time in his NHL career that he would not step between the pipes for the Rangers.

Lundqvist never played a game for the team though, as it was discovered in a medical exam that he would need open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve while also having an aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. Less than two months after the successful five-hour operation, he was back on the ice rehabbing and attempting to make a full recovery – but a few months in, he began to feel unexpected chest pain. Following a medical checkup, Lundqvist was told he had inflammation around his heart. It was a significant setback that required him to step off the ice, take off his goaltender equipment and rest for several months.

After discussions with his family and friends, Lundqvist determined that the risk of taking the ice outweighed the rewards and officially stepped away from the game. Rather than conjuring hypothetical scenarios wherein he did not experience the misfortune and played for the Capitals, Lundqvist looked to the future amid the ongoing global pandemic and thought about how he could best enjoy his retirement.

“I was just mentally in a very good place,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a choice; I guess that makes it easier sometimes when the decision is made because you can’t go back-and-forth – ‘Should I?’ ‘Should I not?’ Yeah, I wanted to play but it was just not meant to be for me.”

Before any definitive resolution on his future endeavors was made though, the Rangers announced that the team would retire Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony during the 2021-22 season, making him just the 11th player bestowed that honor in franchise history. As a five-time NHL All-Star selection, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, and holder of numerous franchise records, Lundqvist had the accolades to merit this profound distinction.

Moreover, he was an important component in growing the game of hockey and contributing to the greater community, serving as the official spokesperson for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. He also was a two-time recipient of the organization’s prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, honoring the player “who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Throughout the night, attendees regaled Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-rik!” and were treated to flashbacks of some of his memorable career moments. The night was of monumental importance for Lundqvist, during which he expressed his gratitude to the Rangers’ organization, former teammates and fans. Then, Lundqvist — referred to as “The King” — promptly took his place among team legends beneath the concave ceiling of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

“When I look back at my career, I know, to me, it was all about preparation; how I practiced and how I prepared for each game at practice,” Lundqvist said. “There’s no regrets, and I hope people, when they think about how I played, [know] that it was 100% heart and commitment to the game.”

Before this ceremony though, Lundqvist and Rangers owner James Dolan had held several meetings with one another. The purpose of these conversations was to determine the best way for Lundqvist to remain involved with the team, its fans, and the community. In the end, he was named as a lead studio analyst on MSG Networks’ broadcasts of New York Rangers hockey before the start of the 2021-22 season: the start of his foray in sports media.

This past summer, Lundqvist negotiated a new deal with Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment in which he maintained his in-studio responsibilities while increasing involvement in other areas of its sports and entertainment ventures. In this new role, Lundqvist supports the business operations for both companies, assisting in digital content development, alumni relations, and partner and sponsor activities.

When Lundqvist is not in the studio or the office, he can often be found at Madison Square Garden taking in New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, or one of the arena’s renowned musical performances. Usually, when he is in attendance, he is shown on the arena’s center-hung video board as an “NYC Celebrity” and receives a thunderous ovation from the crowd.

“The network is just part of it, but it feels great to come there,” Lundqvist said of Madison Square Garden. “Every time I go there – to see the people that I’ve known for so long – but also I love that place; I love The Garden. I think the energy [and] the variety of things that happen there is something I really appreciate. It feels really good to be a part of that.”

Sitting alongside former teammate and studio analyst Steve Valiqutte and sportscaster John Giannone, Lundqvist appears in the MSG Networks studios, located across the street from the arena, for select New York Rangers games. From the onset, he brought his allure and expertise to the set and appealed to viewers – so much so that national networks quickly began to take notice.

“I enjoy watching hockey [and] talking hockey, but the main thing to me is the team; the people that you work with,” Lundqvist said. “The guys on the panel [and the] crew behind. I really enjoy that part of it and having a lot of fun off-camera.”

One month later, Lundqvist was on his first national broadcast for the NHL on TNT where he and Bissonnette famously performed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica that went viral on social media. It had been known that Lundqvist was a musician, famously performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in his Rangers uniform to celebrate the end of the 2012-13 NHL lockout.

In fact, during his retirement ceremony, the Rangers gifted him with a custom-made guitar painted by David Gunnarsson, the same artist who used to paint Lundqvist’s goalie masks.

Aside from occasional music performances, Lundqvist brings an esoteric base of knowledge to the NHL on TNT panel as its only goaltender. Whether it be through player breakdowns, interviews, or dialogue with other analysts, Lundqvist has a perspective to which few professional hockey players can relate. There are various goaltenders among local studio panels surrounding live hockey game broadcasts, and Lundqvist is in a unique situation with MSG Networks in that he and Valiquette are both former goaltenders. Yet on Turner Sports’ national coverage, he is the only voice speaking to this different part of the game.

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal,” Lundqvist explained. “Yes, you need to stop the puck, but a huge part of being a goalie is analyzing what’s going on. We can never really dictate the play so you need to analyze what’s happening right in front of you.”

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In broadcasting at both the local and national level, Lundqvist is cognizant of the differences in each network’s studio programs. Lundqvist says appearing on the MSG Networks studio panel is more about being direct with the viewer, whereas the NHL on TNT views its panel as being conversational in nature. With Turner Sports, Lundqvist also asks his colleagues about the different teams around the league since he is most familiar with the Rangers both as a former player and studio analyst.

“I’m closer to the Rangers; I see more of what’s going on,” Lundqvist stated. “When you work [national] games, maybe you focus in on teams on the West Coast or [part] of the league you don’t see as often. You try to talk to the other guys on the panel and the crew and figure out things that are interesting about those teams.”

Hockey is a team sport, and Lundqvist felt grateful to play with his teammates and face his competitors over the years. Now as an analyst though, it is his job to analyze their games and critique them when necessary; however, he does not try to be excessively critical.

Lundqvist knows the trials and tribulations associated with the sport and can relate to scenarios many players face on a nightly basis. Therefore, he thinks about his own experience before giving an opinion, especially a critique, instantiating it with comprehensible, recondite knowledge and/or by recounting a similar situation.

“I’d much rather give them positive feedback obviously because I know it is a tough game,” Lundqvist said, “and sometimes it might look like an easy mistake, but if you can give the viewer a better explanation of why he did that, they might have a different view of that mistake.”

Now metaphorically being beyond the goalie mask, Lundqvist’s vision of the game has evidently shifted. He discerns just how intense the schedule is and the rapid pace of the game, axioms he was aware of while playing but inherently avoided thinking about. He has implemented his refined viewpoint of the game accordingly into his analysis, simultaneously utilizing the mindset and savvy he cultivated on the ice. It is, quite simply, a balancing act.

“I think people can be pretty quick to jump on guys and critique them,” Lundqvist said. “That’s where maybe you take an extra look and try to understand why it happened and give those reasons. I think that’s where it helps if you played the game [for] a long time and just love the game [because] you have a pretty good understanding of why guys react a certain way.”

The challenge tacitly embedded in the jobs of most studio analysts – Lundqvist’s included – is in presenting the information to the audience in a manner through which it learns without being confused. It is a delicate craft that takes time and genuine understanding to master, especially related to promulgating hockey analytics as Valiquette does on MSG Networks and within his company, Clear Sight Analytics.

“There’s a lot of educated viewers out there, but there’s also a lot of people that maybe don’t watch as much hockey,” Lundqvist said, “so you want to find that middle ground where you kind of educate both sides.”

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By broadcasting both locally and nationally in addition to working in a specially-designed business operations role, Lundqvist is staying around the rink in his retirement while facilitating the growth of hockey. Despite the profusion of young talent, dynamic action and jaw-dropping plays, viewership of the sport on ESPN and TNT’s linear channels has dropped 22% from last season, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.

For Lundqvist though, he does not feel much has changed from playing regarding his responsibility to advance the reach and appeal of the sport. He played professionally for 20 years, beginning his career in his home country of Sweden, primarily in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In the 2004-05 season, his final campaign before arriving in New York City, Lundqvist had won the award for most valuable player. Furthermore, he was recognized as the best goalie and best player, leading Frölunda HC to its second Elitserien championship in three seasons.

His NHL debut came five years after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers but unlike many rookies over the years, he came polished and prepared to embrace the lights of Broadway. Following an injury to starting goaltender Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was inserted into the starting lineup and, from that moment on, virtually never came out.

By the end of his first year, he had been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goaltender. Additionally, he remains the only goaltender to begin his NHL career with seven consecutive 30-plus win seasons.

“I think the league is doing a great job of growing the game,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to the product and right now, it’s a great product. I feel really good about, the best way I can, to promote the game [by] talking about it, but… it feels like I’ve been doing that for 20 years.”

One means through which Lundqvist attempts to grow the game is within the studio demos he performs with the NHL on TNT, displaying different facets of the game in a technical manner. The show also embraces the characteristics of their analysts and implements them in lighthearted segments, such as zamboni races, putting competitions, Swedish lessons and, of course, musical performances.

“I’m huge on mindset and the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “I love to talk about that type of stuff and give the viewer a better understanding of what goes through their heads. In terms of personality, I don’t know if I can say [that] I’m a serious guy because I love to have fun and laugh and do fun things.”

Lundqvist thoroughly enjoys what he is doing both locally and nationally, and he ensures he surrounds himself with people he wants to be around. There are plenty of other broadcast opportunities for former hockey players, such as moving into the booth as a color commentator or between the benches as a rinkside reporter. At this moment though, he is more focused on being immersed in his current roles, performing them to the best of his ability while ensuring he allocates time to spend with friends and family.

“I see myself more as an analyst in the studio more than traveling around and being in the rink,” he said. “I think that’s another thing with the schedule; it works really well with my schedule to have one or two commitments with the networks, but then I have other things going on in my life that I commit to.”

Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between playing professional hockey and covering the sport from the studio in terms of preparation and synergy. Yet the end result is not as clearly defined since “winning” in television is quantifiably defined as generating ratings and revenue. Undoubtedly, Lundqvist is focused on doing what he can to bolster hockey’s popularity; however, he also wants to enjoy this new phase of his career being around the game he loves.

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“In sports, you win or you lose,” Lundqvist explained. “With TV, you want to be yourself [and] you want to get your point out – but at the same time, if you do it at the same time you’re having a good time, I feel like that’s good TV.”

Once their careers conclude, many athletes think about pursuing a post-playing career and oftentimes end up taking on a role in sports broadcasting. On MSG Networks alone, there are plenty of former players who take part in studio coverage on live game broadcasts, such as Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils, and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders. At the national level, Turner Sports employs Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Wayne Gretzky for its studio broadcasts, while ESPN’s top studio crew includes Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.

All of these former professional hockey players had an obligation to regularly speak with media members, answering questions about games and the season at large. Lundqvist maintained a professional relationship with journalists and beat reporters, and he most enjoyed taking questions when the team was doing well. Regardless of what the end result of a game was though, he had a responsibility to divulge his thoughts and, in turn, be subject to criticism and/or negative feedback.

His stellar career and persona all came from emanating a passion for the game – and it continues to manifest itself beyond the television screen. Listening to those passionate about the game discuss it usually engenders euphony and lucidity to viewers, analogous to the sound of the puck hitting the pads or entering the glove. It is a timbre Lundqvist created 27,076 times throughout his NHL career (regular season and playoffs) in preventing goals, and one he now aims to explain en masse.

“The reason why I kept going to the rink and put all the hours in was because I really enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “If you decide to go into media or whatever it might be, I think the bottom line is [that] you have to enjoy it and make sure you have good people around you.”

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BSM Writers

Should the NBA Nationalize Local TV Rights Like MLS?

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

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Diamond Sports has been anything but a diamond in the sports world. As subscribers leave cable and satellite for streaming services, companies are dropping RSNs nationwide because they are too expensive to carry. This has caused an impending bankruptcy for the company, which owns the local rights to dozens of sports teams nationwide. It is also putting the NBA, NHL, and MLB at major financial risk. 

In the short term, it is known that teams will still broadcast on their RSNs even if they aren’t getting the paychecks they were promised in previous rights deals. This will affect teams’ ability to pay players and could even create an unfair advantage among the haves of the sports world like the Yankees and Lakers and the have-nots. The NFL doesn’t face the same problems that the other leagues are facing because its rights have been nationalized.

With the NFL’s continued television dominance, college conferences also bundling up games together for more money, and the MLS guaranteeing themselves television revenue after packaging local and national rights together, could we see the other leagues follow suit? It is an option that is much easier said than done but it seems like we are moving closer to it becoming reality. 

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

The biggest problem the NBA and other leagues would face are that the local rights to all of its teams don’t expire at the same time. If the league were to sign a deal that included giving all local rights to a streamer, the amount which the league was getting paid would be very unique year after year. It would be crazy for a streamer to pay a huge chunk of money to the NBA all at once if the number of teams they have local rights to changes every year.

It would also be insane to pay an astronomical amount if the streamer is only getting the local rights to small-market teams like the Cavs and the Pistons. A major market team like the Lakers doesn’t renew their local rights until 2032. We’re still in 2023. How does that affect the league’s operating costs? 

The NBA would also have to figure out whether teams whose rights don’t expire yet deserve to be included in the pot of money garnered from selling local rights to a streamer. Whether they are or they aren’t, does it put each team at different competitive advantages and/or disadvantages when trying to acquire free agents or front-office personnel?

One of the most interesting puzzles to figure out is what influence a league owner like Washington’s Ted Leonsis has in this potential measure when all is said and done. Leonsis just acquired complete control of the regional sports network — currently named NBC Sports Washington — that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games for millions of dollars, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.

What does Leonsis do with his network if his team’s games can no longer air there? Can his team opt out of participating in a potential league offering? Or if the games continue to air on his network but are simulcasted locally on the streamer that wins local rights on a national scale, does the streamer have the ability to pay less money for rights?

If so, does that make the deal as lucrative for the NBA? And what does that mean for retransmission fees that cable companies like Comcast pay to Leonsis and other RSNs they’re still carrying?

The league will face a similar problem with the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks and other franchises that either wholly own or partially own a part of the RSNs where they broadcast their games. 

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions which is why they are written here in this column. Unfortunately for the leagues, they don’t have the answers either. But if the NBA figures out a way to nationalize their product even more and make streaming games more appealing by ending local blackouts, it’ll benefit the game more than it hurts the game. 

NBA, NHL, and MLB games are still some of the highest-rated programs locally in many markets when you look at how they rate vs. other cable and broadcast offerings. But at this point, the ability to charge everyone for a program that only ten percent of subscribers are watching is a losing business proponent.

The leagues should start from scratch and sell a mass package of games for maximum profit. It gives fans a more centralized location to watch their favorite teams and puts the leagues on a much more steady path than where they could be headed sooner rather than later.

Diamond in the rough to sparkling jewel of light? Only time will tell.

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BSM Writers

Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?

“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”

Jeff Caves

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Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on! 

We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.

“I HAVE A JOB.”

With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon. 

I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”

You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far. 

Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service,  AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker. 

I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”

Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard. 

“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”

In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.  

I HAVE COMPETITION!”

That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.  

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Barrett Media Writers

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