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If Ion Television and The CW Are Options For Sports Rights, Why Not Reelz?

It may be difficult to find, but once a sports fan is determined to watch their team by any means necessary, they’ll find a way to find that channel.

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The impending sports bubble is here and some of the biggest sports entities of our time are facing its wrath. The Pac-12 is currently still in negotiations with various media companies — reportedly testing the waters with Ion — for its television home. Unfortunately, it has struggled to find a permanent home.

The bubble has arisen because it is getting more and more expensive for TV networks to keep the rights to major sports entities that draw big ratings, major attention, and millions in ad dollars like the NFL, the SEC, the Big Ten, and even the MLB, NHL, and NBA. As cable subscribers leave the cord and media companies develop more intimate relationships with their consumers, it is becoming more difficult to keep a bunch of sports properties under one roof. It was just too expensive.

And unfortunately for conferences like the PAC-12, it’s hard to even find a home at all because media companies want to save any coins they have to keep their high-attaining assets that are becoming more expensive to own rights to.

Because of this shift, many unknown networks are beginning to rise as potential new homes for live sports. Ion Television was even rumored at some point to be in talks with the PAC-12 for rights, a report that was later disputed. One place sports properties should consider if their old partners don’t want them anymore is Reelz Channel. Believe it or not, I honestly just suggested the Reelz Channel.

The network acquired On Patrol Live out of the ashes in July of 2022. The show originally aired on A&E and was known as Live PD. But it was canceled due to the nation’s uproar about police abusing power after video of George Floyd’s death was released. Once the national water cooler talk about police violence settled down, Reelz started airing a new version of the show, and its ratings shot up a reported 274%.

It is the 19th highest-rated cable network year-to-year among the key demo adults 25-54, according to IndieWire. Just last year, it ranked #51. The rise in rankings shows the force and power On Patrol Live has on television. As one of the highest-rated shows on TV, imagine the exposure a college conference or sports league could get by marketing itself during the broadcast.

The network, which leans into crime programming, has also recently widened its distribution. A live linear feed of the network is not only available through cable television but it will live on Peacock. Big Ten fans who will be relying on Peacock for the bulk of their games next season will instantly also be exposed to Reelz.

Fans of other sports such as the Premier League, the NFL, Notre Dame football, Olympic sports, PGA Golf, and other leagues which NBC owns the rights will also be more inclined to watch Reelz if it has sports programming airing on the network which will keep users on the Peacock app even longer. Ironically, if more people are watching Reelz on Peacock, it could raise the question of a potential fee that Reelz charges Peacock to stay on the app – a throwback of the cable bundle in internet format.

Speaking of the cable side, having live sports will probably help Reelz stay on the bundle as cable carriers attempt to get rid of as many channels as possible and move subscribers from the cord to streaming. Most networks on the bundle that are still able to exist there are only able to do so because they are tied to the owner of a more lucrative cable network like ESPN, Fox News, the broadcast networks, or TNT.

It is hard for independently owned networks like Reelz, owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, to stay widely distributed unless they allow the cable company to carry them without a fee. With live sports, they would be able to stay on the bundle and might be able to request a retransmission fee.

Finally, Reelz has experience airing sports and live events already. They air Major League Wrestling every week for one hour. The network used to be the home of TMZ Sports before it moved to Fox Sports. They’ve aired pageants in the past and their parent company has had relationships with sports teams and leagues through their radio division. Leagues and/or conferences that partnered with Reelz wouldn’t be starting a relationship with a company that has absolutely no idea what it is doing.

There are still two major weaknesses Reelz faces. The biggest issue is that their Friday and Saturday nights are booked all year. This is when On Patrol Live airs live on Reelz. The network would be crazy to move the time slot of their highest-rated programming unless it was getting the opportunity to air a prime-time NFL game. With the way sports is structured today though, there are many other day parts and nights in prime time that a league could easily takeover on Reelz.

The other big problem is name recognition. Not many people know what Reelz is. They may have watched it by accident through their smart TV, on YouTube, or even on the bundle because it had a movie or rerun they recognized or was airing a documentary about a dead celebrity they wanted to watch. The likelihood that viewers have heard of the channel is slim to none. The good thing about having an unrecognizable channel is that sports fans will always figure out a way to find it.

At one point, ESPN and TNT were unrecognizable. FS1 used to be the SPEED channel. TruTV used to be Court TV and never aired sports programming. It may be difficult to find, but once a sports fan is determined to watch their team by any means necessary, they’ll find a way to find that channel.

If I was a sports league that wasn’t as desirable as the NFL or the Big Ten, I would keep some presence on the major sports networks of the world like ESPN, Fox, NBC, Turner, etc. while also spreading my real estate to a company that needs me and would cater to me and has a decent amount of distribution like Reelz. Give it a shot. See what happens.

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BSM Writers

4 Takeaways From The 2023 BSM Summit

The opportunity to grow in knowledge, soak in the information presented, and see the thought processes of our industry’s leaders was an inspiring time.

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Before I began working for Barrett Sports Media, I longed for the opportunity to attend the BSM Summit. It just simply never worked out for me to attend, but I desperately wanted to be in the room.

I’m a learner. I truly enjoy the opportunity to take in new information, digest it, and put it into practice. I adored the Country Radio Seminar before I moved to sports radio, and I adored — from afar — the BSM Summit while working as a sports program director. And while there are differences, the opportunity to grow in knowledge, information, and see the thought processes of our industry’s leaders was an inspiring time.

So, after attending and returning from my first BSM Summit, I’ve compiled four takeaways from the event.

Radio might be dying, but audio is thriving

The conference began with Edison Research’s Larry Rosin giving a presentation on the latest information compiled by the venerable organization.

Forgive me, Mr. Rosin, for putting words in your mouth, but the presentation essentially boiled down to: AM/FM radio use is going to slowly fade out as Boomers, Gen Xers, and to a lesser extent Millennials begin to decline. Gen Z just flat out isn’t listening to AM/FM radio. They’re not watching linear television, either, but that’s a different discussion for a different day.

It makes sense that Gen Z is living on their phones. They’ve grown up in a world where everything they’ve ever wanted was featured in an all-encompassing handheld device. For those young people, listening to tradition AM/FM radio is hard. It takes more than two taps of their screen. That’s not a critique of the generation, it’s simply a statement of fact.

If you consider listening to a podcast takes tapping the podcast app, tapping the podcast you want, and pressing the play button, that’s insanely easy. And more often than not, people will choose the easy option.

56% of boomers shared that they spend the majority of their audio consumption with AM/FM radio. 23% of Gen Zers responded the same. That’s a gigantic gap. And yet, spoken word listening is rising rapidly.

People aren’t avoiding sports talk. They’re simply consuming it differently the younger you are. There are opportunities to command the space. How many radio companies wish they had put resources toward developing a podcast strategy pre-2020?

Learning from your mistakes is paramount. Something is going to come along to revolutionize the digital audio space. I wouldn’t suggest being left behind when that time comes.

Personality driven audio will only continue to grow

I found the panel helmed by Jack Rose, alongside Dirty Mo Media’s Mike Davis, The Volume’s Logan Swaim, and Omaha Productions’ Richelle Markazene fascinating. Those companies — started by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Colin Cowherd, and Peyton Manning, respectively — truly showcase how different the sports media landscape has become in the last decade.

Before the mid-2010s, the only way for a professional athlete or large sports media personality to control their own content factory was to essentially buy into a conglomerate with the hopes of someday ascending to the top.

That world has been flipped on its head and these disruptors were paramount in doing just that. And that space is only going to continue to grow.

Take an athlete like Kyrie Irving, for example. Large name recognition, large social following, and darn near everything he says creates headlines. While it might be a little more difficult for someone like that to create a company that large advertisers will want to spend money with, Irving, in my estimation, is much more likely to create a podcast — similarly to Draymond Green with The Volume — to get his message across rather than answer questions from a suite of media members he’s never been shy about being skeptical of.

Athlete-driven media is only going to continue to grow. The world is rapidly changing, and people want to cut out the middleman as often as possible. Direct-to-consumer is a trend that isn’t going to fade away anytime soon. From a consumer standpoint, why would I wait for a media company package the comments of my favorite athlete’s thoughts on a pivotal play in a big game, the play called by their head coach, or whatever the case may be, when I can listen to their podcast that will drop the next morning that will explain everything I want to hear, in a much more consumable method?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think — in some cases — that situation sucks. It’s going to insulate athletes, who are already looking for ways to avoid accountability and criticism, from accepting accountability and criticism. But, athletes are becoming increasingly aware of the power of their brands, and the power they wield.

That space isn’t going to collapse upon itself anytime soon. Expect to watch it grow in the coming months and years.

“Ecosystem” is the new buzz word

I can’t tell you how many times I heard the word “ecosystem” last week. Again, not a criticism, just an observation, but it was the brand new buzz word.

I heard programmers talk about creating an ecosystem around their best shows to simplify things for their sellers, I heard television executives talk about ecosystems in regards to the individual brands they manage and how it allows for easier and differing brands to stand out, and I heard a digital company founder talk about how creating an ecosystem created a “scarcity” around him that previously didn’t exist.

It sounds cool, right? The word evokes a bigger identity, it makes the brands, shows, and people utilizing it sound more important. “That station might have a few good shows, but you’re going to want to be a part of our ecosystem” sounds cool as hell.

I don’t know that it really means a whole lot at the end of the day, but over and over again, the same word kept popping up: “ecosystem”.

Our industry is in good hands

I have an affinity for people who “get it”. Truthfully, I don’t even know what “it” is, but when someone gets it, you know it, and they know it. The amount of times I would be conversing with a program director, host, or someone else during the Summit that included someone making a statement and the other person saying “Yes!” and nodding in approval and understanding was immeasurable.

I think — for the most part — we’re all trying to accomplish the same thing. Once, a very wise former co-worker told me “If you and someone else are both trying to get the kitchen inside your house, what the hell does it matter if one of you goes in the front door and the other person comes in from the patio? You’re both trying to accomplish something, and just because you’re doing something one way and the other person is doing it another makes either of you right or wrong. It just makes you different.” And hearing, and discussing different topics, issues, situations, and content ideas with some of the best and brightest in sports radio game me conviction that the sports media industry is truly in great hands. There are so many people who “get it”, and it was encouraging to see up close.

Finally, not necessarily a takeaway, but a kudos. Thursday Night Football television announcer Al Michaels was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the event. It was a very cool moment to see a living legend accept an award.

But what was also insanely cool was seeing the co-workers who joined Michaels at the event. Kaylee Hartung, Andrew Whitworth, Marie Donoghue, and more Amazon co-horts came to the event to support, honor, and recognize Michaels.

It showcased the impact the legendary announcer has had on those he’s worked with for just a single season, but also highlighted the culture Amazon has built in such a short amount of time. I would be remiss if I didn’t point that out.

If you’ve never attended the BSM Summit, I encourage you to really explore the possibility in 2024. Truthfully, I hadn’t really missed being a sports radio program director since departing the format to come work for Jason Barrett in July of last year. However, as I shared with someone at the conference, listening to hearing some of the leaders in our industry talk and share their passionate opinions on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going made me itching to wake up and put together a promo for Opening Day.

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BSM Writers

Jason McIntyre Could Talk Sports All Day

“I’ve always thought of myself as an alpha. I’m going to be the guy setting the agenda, leading the way.”

Derek Futterman




Throughout the last decade, the methods and means through which people consume content disseminated across different forms of media have undoubtedly changed. Jason McIntyre knows this pattern well, but like most others in the industry, is still trying to determine how to best utilize the power of evolution to facilitate effective cross-platform integration, likening it to a “million-dollar question” of sorts.

The paradigmatic shift was evident to him during his formative years in the industry when he worked as a writer for various newspapers and magazines. As the internet began to grow in the early 2000s, he distinctly recalls buying a domain with his name in it so he could ensure its ownership and began using it as a place to share his stories.

Essentially, he was looking to find new ways to market himself and built an online professional curriculum vitae, including his work with these outlets. As he began to rise in the industry, one of his colleagues with whom he was competing noticed what McIntyre was doing and decided to inform management.

McIntyre was subsequently called into a meeting with executives from the outlet and duly questioned regarding the practice. Once McIntyre told them the intent behind posting some of his stories on a personal website, they regarded how the internet was fairly new and that the legality of the practice was largely unknown.

“It was at this point when it hit me – ‘What am I doing here?,’” McIntyre remembers thinking. “‘These guys are archaic dinosaurs; this is the stone age. The internet is next.’”

By no means is McIntyre considered a scofflaw, nor did he look to take readership away from the outlet. Posting the stories was simply representative of self-promotion, marketing himself and cementing a repository of demo material for prospective employers to view. Looking back on the moment, it can be considered a turning point in his career, perhaps as the impetus of a focus on audiovisual content and its widespread promulgation.

Today, McIntyre is in his first year as co-host of the daily, national midday talk show The Herd featuring sports media personality Colin Cowherd. The program has been simulcast on FS1 after it had aired on select ancillary ESPN networks and consistently receives high levels of engagement across multiple platforms.

“Cowherd does three hours live on TV [and] you can also hear the show on the radio as it’s happening,” McIntyre said. “Oh by the way, his podcast is still a massive juggernaut – I think it’s top-five [or] top-10; I don’t even check the iTunes rankings. Then, oh, by the way, go look at YouTube – he’s still getting videos at 50-; 100-; 200-; 500,000 views…. People are consuming this at an incredible rate.”

McIntyre moved into the role after FOX Sports altered its programming lineup, resulting in Joy Taylor shifting to work alongside Emmanuel Acho and LeSean McCoy on a new program titled Speak. Before he had made the decision, McIntyre took a variety of factors into account – including his family, future aspirations, and the geography. When he and his wife visited Cowherd in Los Angeles, Calif. to have dinner, they quickly realized the area was right for them and a place McIntyre could continue to flourish as a bonafide industry professional.

Cowherd and McIntyre were not unfamiliar with one another though, as they previously worked together as commentators on Speak for Yourself, a talk show Cowherd formerly hosted with Jason Whitlock. Furthermore, when he was still with ESPN Radio in 2007, Cowherd urged his listeners to crash The Big Lead, a sports and media blog McIntyre started the previous year with David Lessa. In the end, the mission was successful and caused the website to go dark for nearly 48 hours.

At the time when the website was famously flooded with traffic, McIntyre was operating the venture anonymously – writing and editing stories in an attempt to craft his voice and grow the platform. It came when McIntyre affirms that the “www” preceding a URL stood for “wild, wild west” instead of “world wide web,” and amid a period where people could proffer content in exchange for ethos, rather than selecting content to consume based on ethos alone.

“To grow up and mature as anyone would do with social media, it’s fun to run an anonymous social media account – but ultimately if you want to make that next step and take the jump to lightspeed, you’ve got to put your name on it,” McIntyre said. “That’s when Richard Deitsch at Sports Illustrated said, ‘Hey, do you want to reveal yourself?,’ and I said, ‘Alright, sure.’ Obviously, the site gained way more credibility once that happened.”

Growing up, McIntyre was an athlete, playing everything from travel soccer to basketball, but he had a realization as an adolescent that he would not play professionally. This feeling was accentuated when he was the second person cut from his high school freshman basketball team despite having knowledge and passion for the sport. When he was in middle school, he would play a game with his friends in which they identified where NBA players went to college, testing their ostensibly boundless knowledge of the association.

At the suggestion of his parents, McIntyre called a local newspaper to ask to help out but ended up being told that he had to wait until he was 16 years old so he could legally operate a motor vehicle. Once he came of age, he began contributing to the outlet, doing whatever was asked of him including answering phones and assisting others.

Eventually, he had the chance to write stories and saw his name on bylines, leading him to conjecture working at The Washington Post and eventually, the Los Angeles Times covering the Los Angeles Lakers, right out of college.

Upon matriculating at James Madison University though, things began to change. Although he was studying to attain a journalism degree, he quickly realized that media was on the verge of enduring significant innovation across the board, prioritizing interactive elements, engagement and dynamic content.

“I got into a fantasy college basketball league through some random dudes from a chatroom I was in talking about sports,” McIntyre said. “You kept your stats [and] I was all-in. The internet just changed so much, and the idea that I would want to work for a newspaper started to slowly fade.”

Nonetheless, McIntyre interned at the Greensboro News and Record, and then received an offer from The Washington Post to cover high school sports on a part-time basis. Despite talking about working for the national outlet years prior, he declined and opted to stay local by working in Passaic County, N.J. at The Herald News. One year into that role, its sports section merged with The Bergen Record to reduce operating costs, and McIntyre eventually began to freelance for ESPN and CBS Sports’ websites.

Just before March Madness commenced in 2006, McIntyre launched The Big Lead and was operating it on the side of other jobs, including working as an editor at Us Weekly. As time went on and the website began to amass a legion of followers, McIntyre added staff members to ensure it was able to produce enough content to keep pace with demand.

Additionally, he ceded his anonymity once it became evident to him that he would need to do so for the website to continue to grow, and then went on to sell the operation to Fantasy Sports Venture in 2010, reportedly for seven figures. Two years later, that company sold the website to Gannett with McIntyre remaining critical to the platform amid both transactions.

“Selling the website was pretty cool,” McIntyre remarked. “It was written about in The New York Times. My parents have it framed. Hell, I have it framed in my house; it’s pretty exciting.”

The move to radio started upon filling in on NBC Sports Radio on Independence Day, leading someone from Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to reach out and ask if he had representation. McIntyre did not at the time, and was subsequently contacted by two other agents in a three-week span. He ultimately settled on the agent who reached out to him first, and felt that operating in this sense gave him more opportunities.

McIntyre was shocked to learn that Yahoo! Sports was interested in the content he produced and asked him to host a national internet radio show to be distributed to SiriusXM and other radio stations eponymously-named The Jason McIntyre Show. He had launched a podcast through The Big Lead by the same name in 2013, welcoming guests including Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, then-CBS Sports host Doug Gottlieb and NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. Beginning in early 2015, the radio show began and was broadcast on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST, bringing listeners the latest news and opinions.

“I love sports,” McIntyre explained. “I could easily talk about sports for three hours. Once that started, it essentially kind of took off.”

Nine months later, McIntyre joined FOX Sports Radio where he hosted a Saturday sports talk show titled The Big Lead, largely functioning as a way to preview weekend action and interview guests in the industry. Moreover, he filled in for various high-profile hosts, including Gottlieb, Dan Patrick, and Chris Broussard, and began to establish a unique and distinctive hosting style.

“I’ve always thought of myself as an alpha,” McIntyre said. “I’m going to be the guy setting the agenda, leading the way. I’m going to have topics nobody else is going to have. I was never like, ‘I’m going to work with a guy,’ but obviously you have to work well with others.”

In the time between being removed from Speak for Yourself to being named co-host of The Herd, the alteration of the media landscape was hastened amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. Whether it was appearing on select television shows; hosting his Saturday radio show; contributing to gambling content; or helping FOX Sports expand its digital footprint, McIntyre was ostensibly itinerant while continuing his work with The Big Lead website.

Moreover, he worked with TVG Network (today known as FanDuel TV) providing analysis on the studio show More Ways to Win hosted by Lisa Kerney.

“I’m kind of limbo,” McIntyre said of that time. “I’m going on all the shows as a fill-in which is fine [and] I start doing a lot of digital stuff which I had already done because it’s in my contract.”

Producing the gambling content, in particular, helped boost the popularity of sports betting, especially as states gained regulatory power over its legality. Although California has yet to legalize sports betting, its base of sports fans are familiar with related content, which is very much momentary because of the dynamic nature of the niche.

“It is literally there for a day and then nobody cares the day after,” McIntyre said. “Nobody’s going back and looking at what you said about a game that’s now done. That part is difficult; it just doesn’t have a long tail.”

Everything changed, though, when The Big Lead was sold by Gannett to Minute Media in March 2019, which resulted in the bifurcation of the staff including McIntyre. In July 2020, McIntyre pivoted to begin hosting a podcast titled Straight Fire with Jason McIntyre, adopting an approach similar to his radio show except with more freedom to be himself and be completely authentic with his audience free of Federal Communications Commission standards.

The podcast, which has a new episode published on a near-daily basis, has performed well across audio platforms and given consumers another way to find McIntyre amid today’s crowded media environment. The experience of listening to a podcast, he states, differs from other forms of media largely because of the mechanisms fueling consumption.

“A lot of people listen while they’re running [or] walking their dog and the earbud is right in their ear,” McIntyre said of his podcast. “That’s different [from] the TV experience which can be on in the background. [With] the radio, you’re driving; you’re paying attention to a million things. I just feel like the intimacy of podcasts is something you don’t get anywhere else.”

Combining his podcast with a regular role on The Herd has helped burgeon his career, but present contrasts in terms of the way the shows are produced and distributed. With his podcast produced and distributed by iHeartMedia, he has flexibility to determine topics and welcome on guests as contributors.

Conversely, the visual component of The Herd equals in importance to being compelling and engaging aurally, rendering the show multitiered in terms of its production.

“If you’re walking by the screen, the graphics; the charts; the rankings – it just visually is appealing,” McIntyre said. “I must get at least two to three random people every single day [who say], ‘Dude, I walked by the bar and this show just looks visually-appealing.’”

McIntyre still participates in sports in spite of not playing professionally, including suiting up for pickup basketball at a gym and participating in a tennis league. There have been occurrences where he sporadically begins to talk about sports with other gym members, most recently regarding the New York Jets working to acquire quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers.

The same is applicable to Cowherd, as McIntyre has heard through friends that he will start talking to people about sports at gyms, parks and other public locations. Through their time co-hosting the show, they have been able to foster chemistry and transform it into favorable ratings.

“He’s exactly like you see on air, and I know that sounds crazy,” McIntyre said of Cowherd. “Between commercials, he’ll have a random rant and just come over and we’ll start talking and just fire off 5 minutes and I’m like, ‘This guy’s just nonstop.’”

In cultivating on-air synergy conducive to success, McIntyre feels he and Cowherd are able to discern gray areas and stimulate deeper, comprehensive thinking elicited through their interactions. One reason for listening to sports talk radio is for entertainment; however, appealing to the complete base of listeners requires finding points to display erudition and circuitous pedagogical instruction within their deft communication abilities.

“We can go back-and-forth a little bit at each other without it feeling personal, and we can disagree,” McIntyre said. “Reasonable minds can disagree. On the internet, everybody has to disagree; you’re either right or you’re wrong.”

Don Martin and Scott Shapiro oversee FOX Sports Radio and its programming, and have worked hard to compile a powerful on-air lineup at all hours of the day. McIntyre believes he has heard them joke about how it arguably compares to the 1927 New York Yankees starting lineup nicknamed “Murderers’ Row.”

That compilation of hitters, which went on to sweep consecutive World Series championships, featured impactful hitters such as George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs and Tony Lazzeri among others. Today, the FOX Sports Radio consists of McIntyre and Cowherd, along with Dan Patrick, Doug Gottlieb, Chris Broussard and Rob Parker, all of whom are considered at or near the top of the industry.

“They’ve got home run hitters all day,” McIntyre said. “ESPN seems to have punted on radio which is a little bit of a surprise. They just don’t seem to take it as seriously as they did say five or 10 years ago. CBS: I’m not entirely sure where they are. I don’t know; you tell me. Is FOX dominating now or what?”

Aside from it being his profession, McIntyre considers sports themselves as an outlet for which to find enjoyment. Discussing aspects of the games he is passionate about enhances his ability and motivation to succeed as a host, and he continues to attempt to follow the leagues and its players as closely as possible.

“[If] you tell me that the NCAA tournament is on, I’m hunkering down with multiple televisions in my house and just devouring all of it,” McIntyre said. “[If] the World Cup is on, I’m waking up at whatever time I need to [in order] to watch Saudi Arabia vs. Argentina. It’s one of those things; I really love sports.”

At the moment, McIntyre is not thinking too much about the future, instead trying to enjoy the journey as opposed to solely focusing on his final destination. Yet he acknowledges that he has always been a person thinking about how he can improve and aggrandize his content, underscoring his commitment to the craft. He does enjoy his new job working with Cowherd and finds that they have been able to have compelling discussions.

“I’m always striving for something; always trying to push forward and do more,” McIntyre said. “Now, I’ve been part of TV shows; I’ve filled in; I’ve done all this. I don’t know what’s next for me. Is it having my own show? I don’t know.”

Even though sports radio today is, in some ways, unrecognizable from the programming from just one decade ago, McIntyre maintains a positive outlook on the future of the industry. Streaming services, podcasts and other on-demand content made available through OTT and FAST platforms certainly adjusts listenership, as it creates another area for the audience to invest their time of consumption, meaning that radio programs must pivot to retain and increase visibility.

“Maybe it’s the California air getting to me,” McIntyre said of his feelings towards the future of sports talk radio. “I’m not eating avocado toast regularly, but definitely I’m trying to be a little more positive. I’ve worked with enough negative people in this industry that that’s just not the way I want to live.”

As more people look to ingratiate themselves towards consumers and establish footholds in this competitive industry, it is fundamental for aspiring professionals to find a niche and work to distinguish themselves in that area. For McIntyre, it arguably came through launching The Big Lead, deviating from the outline of a typical path writers took to build their careers, and taking a calculated risk by remaining anonymous for several years.

Being able to talk in detail about a broad array of topics and having vast experience certainly improves the likelihood of succeeding in a marketplace that prioritizes versatility, along with establishing and keeping professional relationships. These factors have helped McIntyre construct a formidable career that took him from newspapers to magazines to web to radio to television, and with more potentially on the horizon as the years go on.

“It’s tough to just jump in as a generalist,” McIntyre said. “You’ve got to really drill down on something. I was able to drill down on media on the website; [I] got the media reading; and then I was able to supplement it with talking about the NBA and the draft and the NFL and all this stuff; controversial stories…. Once you own something, then you can pretty much own everything.”

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BSM Writers

Chuck Sapienza Has 105.7 The Fan on A Roll

“We’re making it work and we’re doing it at such a high level…it’s very rewarding.”

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When you think about the saying “the sum is greater than the parts”, 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore certainly comes to mind.

With a lunch pail attitude and work ethic, the all-sports station continues to deliver great content for sports fans in Baltimore and the station has been rewarded with tremendous ratings and recognition. All of their weekday shows, from morning drive through the evening, are over a ten share among men, while the station is in the top four in persons.

“We’ve just been on this incredible roll,” said Chuck Sapienza, Brand Manager of Sports for Audacy in Baltimore. “To do it here, with the staff that we have is just so rewarding because we don’t have a ton of resources…it’s Baltimore. Everybody works their ass off. We have this incredible group of men and women. We’re making it work and we’re doing it at such a high level…it’s very rewarding.”

The Fan was just starting to peak when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of 2020. Without any sports, the radio station saw a dip but they’ve come out of the pandemic doing very well and that has continued all the way to where things are today.

Even last month, a sort of “dead” month for sports following the NFL and before the start of spring training, The Fan continued to excel.

Whether it was fans talking about if quarterback Lamar Jackson was going to return to the Ravens or the optimism of the upcoming Orioles season with young players like Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, there are no shortage of topics for the hosts to tackle.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Sapienza. “The station has been incredible. In February, the lowest show I had had a 10.9 in men and had a five and a half in persons. The station has done a really good job in coming up with storylines. We work very hard on our content. We spend more time coming up with good solid content, we can’t just say ‘Every day talk about Lamar’, we have to change it up and figure out different angles and different ways to present everything so it doesn’t get stale.”

Last week, The Fan announced the return of Baltimore Baseball Tonight to be hosted by Ryan Ripken, the son of Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr., with the season debut set for March 30th.  The station was the longtime flagship of the Orioles, but last year the team decided to go in another direction.

That didn’t stop The Fan from covering the Orioles, as well as the Ravens, like a blanket even though they don’t carry the games.

“I don’t think you need the games to put on the best coverage,” said Sapienza. “I believe our coverage outdoes the flagship for both the Ravens and the Orioles. We outperform the flagship with our pre and post-game coverage. By not running the Orioles games, we were able to have some flexibility to put on just a tremendous pre-game show.” 

Under Sapienza’s leadership, the station has been very successful in the Baltimore market and people in the industry around the country have noticed.  In fact, The Fan turned up in a number of categories in Barrett Sports Media’s Top 20 for 2022 for mid-market all-sports stations.

Sapienza was 7th among program directors. The Big Bad Morning Show was 11th among morning shows.Vinnie and Haynie was 5th among midday shows. Inside Access was 13th among afternoon shows.

Numbers don’t like in ratings and in rankings.

“The fact that you get it from your peers is amazing,” said Sapienza. “It’s humbling, to be honest with you. We put together a really talented staff and they work hard. People go for splash hires with name recognition and we got guys who work their butts off and they’ve earned it. I want to give credit to everybody, but the morning show has been a monster. I’m so honored to be with these people.”

And the honors — and ratings — keep coming in for Chuck Sapienza and 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore.

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Barrett Media Writers

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