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Alex Faust Is Ready For Friday Night Baseball

“The opportunity to get back into baseball was just one that I couldn’t pass up…I really admire what Apple is trying to do with a new product.”

Derek Futterman




In order to craft a career in a field as competitive and desirable as sports media, it takes a willingness to learn, talent, networking and surrounding oneself with the right people and having an appropriate level of self-confidence. Much like the slim chance a baseball player makes it to the major leagues, let alone exactly according to their plan, the odds everything goes unabated and as outlined are minuscule. The road to the show for Alex Faust has been atypical, but through persistence and determination, he has forged a portfolio spanning local and national broadcasts with a world of possibility lying ahead.

Faust will begin the next phase of his broadcast career this Friday at 7:00 PM ET as the San Diego Padres face the Atlanta Braves to kick off the second season of Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+. Prior to the start of the 2022 season, Major League Baseball and its national media rights holders – The Walt Disney Company (ESPN); FOX Sports; and Turner Sports (TBS) – had negotiated new agreements through 2028 worth a reported $12.24 billion.

Additionally, the league agreed to streaming deals with Peacock for MLB Sunday Leadoff and Apple TV+ for Friday Night Baseball, reportedly worth a combined $115 million annually. Namely, Major League Baseball receives a sum of about $1.8 billion in annual revenue from national media deals, along with more postseason games due to the addition of two wild card teams and a restructured playoff format.

Baseball was the first professional sport Faust ever called and a game he was enthralled to consume early in his youth. Although he has previously called national baseball games for FOX Sports and NESN on a fill-in basis, it was never on a regular schedule nor with a fixed color commentator.

In fact, Faust has not regularly worked in baseball since his time working as a radio play-by-play announcer for the Staten Island Yankees, a defunct minor league team and former affiliate of the New York Yankees.

“The opportunity to get back into baseball was just one that I couldn’t pass up,” Faust said. “….I really admire what Apple is trying to do with a new product. It’s hard with the transition from traditional cable to go into streaming, but especially after meeting with some folks there [over] the last couple of weeks, they view it as an opportunity to try different things while at the same time being traditional in the way we go about our business.”

Apple TV+ is subscription-based, requiring users to pay $6.99 a month to access the library of movies, television shows, and live programming. While its broadcasts of Major League Baseball games were free last season, users will have to subscribe in order to watch Friday night matchups, which are produced by MLB Network and feature top-tier cameras and spatial audio in 5.1 surround sound. The OTT streaming platform aims to give fans an immersive experience by using the other sectors of its business to effectuate the aggregate output – in a way, horizontal integration.

Fans can receive the latest information about their favorite teams and players with Apple News; listen to team walk-up songs and other curated playlists on Apple Music; and watch additional MLB content, including the nightly MLB Big Inning whip-around show, on Apple TV+.

“This is a dynamic, new property that I know a lot of resources are being poured into,” Faust said. “[I saw] all the chatter about the picture quality and the graphics and the way the game was directed and all the different tools they have with the super slow-mos and these high-resolution cameras. The broadcast itself might be the cleanest looking in all of sports; it might be the sharpest picture in all of sports, and that’s not by mistake.”

Aside from watching baseball games and listening to commentators call the action, Faust played baseball, along with tennis, when he was younger. He quickly recognized that sports media was the path he wanted to take; however, he knew the likelihood of striking out was more likely than hitting a walk-off home run.

As a result, he majored in economics and political science as an undergraduate student at Northeastern University, balancing his studies with his participation at WRBB 104.9 FM broadcasting games, operating radio consoles, and hosting studio programming. In addition to his own work, Faust was a keen observer of announcers from afar and picked up on their various proclivities to apply in forming his own, distinctive broadcast style. Having the ability to hypothesize, experiment, fail and try again is a privilege not always afforded to those in the professional world, rendering college and other pre-professional ventures ideal for industry neophytes.

“I don’t think you have to have a degree in broadcasting to be on-air,” Faust opined. “You have to be a good public speaker [and] you have to be confident in your ability to present an idea or a story, but that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to exclusively being a student of broadcasting.”

Broadcasting was a side gig for Faust during his first three years of college, but that sentiment changed when he realized the proximity of his graduation. Because of this, he made a concentrated effort to find ways to gain more repetitions so he could continue to have a voice in the profession.

On a whim, Faust submitted his demo reel to the Staten Island Yankees for their open radio play-by-play announcer job while continuing to look for other chances to remain involved in sports media. After all, he had received a prestigious national honor when he was named the 2011 recipient of the Jim Nantz Award from the National Sports Media Association as the country’s top college sportscaster.

In the span of 48 hours, Faust received a job offer from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a well-regarded accounting firm, along with the chance to broadcast home games at night and on weekends for the Staten Island Yankees. This auspicious outcome afforded Faust peace of mind as he completed his degree, knowing he would have a steady job paired with the ability to announce live baseball games on the side. Little did he know his hobby would eventually become his full-time gig.

“I had a great experience at PwC, and I’d be remiss without thanking my bosses there for allowing me to pursue not only that gig, but others that popped up once I started getting a little bit of television work,” Faust said. “They were flexible in letting me have my day job [and] do that. I think from their standpoint, it was the belief that ‘If you’re working on this passion project, you’re going to be a better employee.’”

Throughout his early years in the industry, Faust looked to several accomplished play-by-play announcers for inspiration and advice, including Dave O’Brien, Sean McDonough, and Ian Eagle. In conversing with these and other broadcast professionals, Faust became inspired to continue to make sense of the business and earn chances to augment his versatility and knowledge of sports and media as a whole. In juggling multiple tasks as a management consultant at PwC, he was unfazed by the prospect of regularly calling different sports to become more fixated in the industry.

“It’s no different than going back to working at PwC,” he said. “To advance in a highly competitive industry like that, you have to have a diverse skill set; you have to show continuous improvement; and you have to have an aptitude for what you’re doing and build good relationships. It’s no different in broadcasting…. I have to put on a good show every day to show that I’m still up to this.”

Following his first year broadcasting games for the Staten Island Yankees, Faust added radio play-by-play announcing for the Utica Comets, the former American Hockey League affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. It was his first foray calling hockey since his time in Northeastern University, a sport predicated on speed, skill, and a flair for the dramatic, and he was doing it for a franchise in its inaugural season.

As Faust’s profile grew, he received more opportunities to provide the soundtrack to signature sporting events. His decision to remain in Boston after graduating from Northeastern University was for the purpose of landing television jobs, one of which came with the regional sports network NESN on broadcasts of college basketball and Hockey East games. Some of his memorable moments with NESN include calling his alma mater’s win of the Hockey East championship and calling three consecutive college basketball games on the same day at TD Garden.

Through it all, he was establishing pivotal relationships and fostering a greater sense of professionalism in collaborating with colleagues, especially those tasked with consummating a flawless television broadcast.

“Treat your production crew with the utmost respect because they are there to make you look good,” Faust said. “There’s no reason to have any sort of bad rapport when, at the end of the day, they’re there for you…. I don’t want to say that from the standpoint of having an inflated ego, but it’s the reality.”

College sports were a fundamental part of Faust’s early years in the industry, freelancing to call both college basketball and college football for select matchups on ESPN and FOX Sports with the hopes of eventually landing a full-time broadcasting job.

Moreover, he called the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four on Westwood One, but never saw himself making it to the National Hockey League, let alone before the age of 30. In fact, Faust had previously declined a chance to work an NHL game with NBC Sports, an entity he had called college hockey for in the past because he was calling games for the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) on ESPN.

Luckily for Faust, NBC Sports gave him another chance to call an NHL game – a matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning – which happened to coincide with his hunt for a full-time role. Faust had a background in tennis and was auditioning with the Tennis Channel and had also applied to become the new television voice of the Los Angeles Kings on Bally Sports West. Bob Miller, a legendary play-by-play announcer who has a statue outside of Arena, retired from the job following the 2017 season after 44 years, as he had been hospitalized earlier in the season after feeling discomfort following quadruple bypass surgery.

“I just wanted a job interview; that was my goal,” Faust said of the Los Angeles Kings broadcasting job. “I just wanted to be considered for the role; I never thought I’d be a finalist or even land it.”

That matchup between the Blackhawks and the Lightning turned out to be one of, if not the most important assignment of Faust’s broadcasting career to date. After an eventful first two periods containing eight total goals, the game remained scoreless through the end of regulation resulting in overtime. Just over four minutes into the extra period, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman stole the puck from then-Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin, dishing it to his teammate Yanni Gourde dashing on a breakaway. In front of a sold-out Amalie Arena, Gourde snapped a wrist shot from the high slot past goaltender Scott Darling to win the game 5-4.

“I knew then and there as I’m calling the game, ‘Oh boy, this is my audition here for the Kings,’” Faust remembered. “It was a dramatic finish. I knew right at that moment, ‘Okay, this is my tape; this is my reel. I’m going to send this in.’”

Faust ascertains that the organization was looking for a younger broadcaster to take the reins from Miller and grow with the organization, and he was invited in to call a mock broadcast with longtime analyst and former Kings winger Jim Fox. It was evident during the audition that Faust and Fox were able to instantly cultivate natural synergy, effectively closing the deal. Faust had made it to the NHL at the age of 28, making him the youngest play-by-play announcer in the sport. As everything transpired, Faust was cognizant about trying to differentiate himself from Miller while maintaining the high standard he had set and received myriad support from older counterparts around the league.

“I always felt like the pressure I put on my own shoulders was that I just wanted to live up to expectation [and] not let anyone down,” Faust said. “….I carried my own style coming into the job, and that’s something that the Kings actually encouraged me [to do] from the very beginning.”

Los Angeles is the second-largest media market in the United States, and the home of legendary sportscasters over the years – including Chick Hearn, Vin Scully, Bob Miller, and Ralph Lawler. The marketplace of late has shifted to younger talent over the last decade, welcoming in new voices such as Joe Davis, Noah Eagle, and Stephen Nelson, along with Faust.

He affirms that rooting interests in the locale are “fragmented” wherefore the litany of activities and excursions available to residents due to the abundance of sunshine and clear skies. There was an adjustment period when Faust, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., made the move to Los Angeles, but he was able to quickly assimilate and become part of the soundtrack of sports.

“There’s a hustle in this market that you have to be able to understand,” Faust said. “It’s very different from an East Coast market like New York,” Faust said. “In a lot of ways, LA has opened itself up to younger broadcasters and [is] trying to keep the broadcast as current as possible…. I think teams are looking for a broadcast that connects with a younger audience, especially with the evolution away from traditional viewing models and having folks that can connect and relate.”

Since its television debut in 1964, it can be argued that Jeopardy has been America’s most popular quiz show, welcoming erudite contestants to put questions to answers for a chance to win a lucrative cash prize. Alex Trebek was the show’s host from 1984 until his passing in 2020, bringing an unmistakable style and presence to the stage while informing and entertaining viewers.

The show is filmed at Sony Pictures Studios’ Stage 10 in Culver City, Calif. just outside of Los Angeles, and he lived in the area as well. When asked in 2018 who should succeed him as the next host of the show in an interview with TMZ, Trebek gave two possibilities – CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates and Faust himself, with Trebek stating that he had spoken to show producers about him.

Faust had never conversed with Trebek at the time and regrets not having the chance to do so before he passed away. He also never received a phone call from Sony Pictures about auditioning for the show, nor did he actively try to land the job. After all, he was content in his role and had never thought about hosting a game show before that point. Even so, people who had not heard of Faust suddenly began to take interest in what he did, and he maintains a philosophy to never close doors because of the spontaneity with which new roles can sometimes present themselves.

“I think [I was] flattered just [by] somebody who looks at our show and says, ‘Okay, you do a good enough job with an on-air presence that you could handle this role,’” Faust said. “I think that’s a tremendous compliment, and I took it as such.”

Perhaps part of the allure that led Trebek, an avid hockey fan, to name Faust as a potential successor was being acquainted with his objective announcing style. As a play-by-play announcer, Faust has tried to imbue his personality into every broadcast, many of which have recurring viewers, but always making sure he is giving a complete picture of the matchup rather than calling it from just one perspective.

Moreover, he has utilized his background in data analytics to implement advanced stats into broadcasts, something Apple TV+ has made available to its consumers across its baseball coverage. He gives credit to his analyst, Fox, for being adaptable and using his wherewithal and intellect to decipher the labyrinth of data, blending the metrics and his own thoughts on the game in order to propound cohesive and logical points.

“I think you still have to take a step back and realize not everyone who’s watching your broadcast is a fan of the team, [and] not everyone wants to hear a homer,” Faust said. “They actually want to hear about the game and learn about both teams. There’s a respect to be given to the opponent and to the game in calling it fairly a lot of ways.”

The differences that exist between preparing for a hockey game and a baseball game are massive, especially in the contrasting pace of play and parlances of the sports. He calls hockey and baseball locally and nationally – the former with Bally Sports West and Turner Sports; the latter on Apple TV+ and FOX Sports.

Within the fabric of working on national games is upholding meticulous objectivity and providing relevant insights into both teams. The challenge comes in appealing to local audiences, which are largely accustomed to the sound of their broadcasts and the team itself wherefore commentators stay up to date with news, transactions, and other league information.

“Know what you need to know, but also be aware of what you don’t know and try not to reach for something you don’t know,” Faust said. “That’s kind of my guiding principle going into this season because I haven’t done a full season of baseball ever at the major league level.”

From calling a game from The Palestra in Philadelphia, Penn. to an outdoor game at the Air Force Academy; packed arenas to caliginous remote broadcast studios; North America to Australia and everywhere in-between, Faust’s broadcast career has, in a way, been of tergiversation in terms of adapting to fluid and precarious circumstances.

As other aspiring professionals begin their journeys in the industry with the hope of landing a full-time job, Faust urges them to ensure they are flexible to safeguard from missing out on chances to go on the air and hone their crafts. Effectively doing so comes by trying new things, staying ready, actively working to build relationships, and always looking to improve and expand one’s abilities.

Just what can come of putting in the effort is perhaps the great unknown knows. Sometimes, all roads lead home akin to what has happened for Alex Faust. He is eager to hear the home plate umpire shout, “Play ball!” and to engender a deeper understanding of the game based on asking questions and arriving at their answers.

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BSM Writers

As Media Changes, Bob Costas Hopes Standards Remain

“Some people are cynics, and they confuse cynicism alone with insight. That’s not me.”

Derek Futterman



Courtesy: Bob Costas

Growing up in New York, Bob Costas frequently listened to broadcasters such as Red Barber, Mel Allen and Marv Albert call games on the radio. To him, their voices were inseparable from the players. Although he idolized Mickey Mantle, Costas knew the only way he would pass through the Yankee Stadium gates without charge would be by working in the press box. Recognizing that many national broadcasters began their careers by working in radio, he searched for an esteemed college program to accentuate his pursuit of a media career. Once Costas picked up a New York Knicks yearbook and learned that Glickman and Albert had both attended Syracuse University, his mind was, somewhat consequentially, made up.

“When I got there, I didn’t know for sure if I wanted to be a writer or a broadcaster,” Costas said. “Almost as soon as I got there as a freshman, I started getting airshifts doing sports reports and whatnot on the campus radio station. I felt like this was something that I enjoyed and I might have a knack for.”

Costas on the Air

Costas was fond of a specific type of sports broadcasting early in his career, one promulgated by Jim McKay and Jack Whitaker wherein an announcer is more than just someone who documents the game. It led Costas to espouse a multifaceted approach with shades of humor, journalistic elements and some historical references.

“[They] were essayists and at times journalists,” Costas said. “Not just announcers, but journalists with a respect for and a command of language with the occasional literate touch [and] I admired those people. I think I was influenced by them in that they showed me that was an avenue [and] that not every good broadcaster had to be generic.”

When Costas graduated from college, he was hired at KMOX radio by general manager Rob Hyland. He was assigned to be the new play-by-play announcer for the American Basketball Association’s (ABA) Spirit of St. Louis, and later called Missouri Tigers college basketball. 

In 1976, Al Michaels was slated to be a regional football play-by-play announcer for CBS Sports, but ended up signing a contract with ABC less than one week before the regular season. It left the network with no one to call an opening week game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers from historic Lambeau Field, resulting in CBS Sports calling Hyland to inquire about a potential replacement.

“Mr. Hyland said, ‘We’ve got a young guy here. We think he’s pretty good. He’s 24 and looks like he’s 15,’” Costas recalled. “They said, ‘Send him to Green Bay,’ and I signed a one-game contract for $500 to go to Green Bay.”

Costas continued calling regional games for CBS Sports while working at KMOX, being used every so often on football and basketball coverage. It gave him additional exposure in various marketplaces around the United States, and ultimately prepared him to join NBC Sports. By the end of 1981 though, Bryant Gumbel departed the sports division to join Jane Pauley and Chris Wallace as a co-host on TODAY. As a result, Costas was elevated to become a more visible part of NBC’s football coverage. He eventually started hosting the pregame show for the NFL on NBC, and had to learn the mechanics of the studio and how to read from a teleprompter.

“For the first several years that I did it, I didn’t use a teleprompter at all,” Costas said. “I just had notes and ad-libbed around those notes, but then as the production became more sophisticated, they’d want a specific cue to roll in B-roll or whatever, and I began using the prompter for that. I still ad-libbed in and around it because I felt more comfortable doing that.”

Costas on America’s Pastime

Costas continued hosting studio coverage for football, but had also impressed network executives when hosting NBC’s coverage of the 1983 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Earlier that season, he had started broadcasting games with Tony Kubek on Game of the Week, a partner to which he credits accentuating his development. Kubek introduced Costas to key figures around the sport, such as players, general managers and scouts, implicitly communicating the trust he garnered in his abilities.

Throughout his career, the composition and expectations of the audience have altered, requiring Costas to adapt the way in which he calls a game. Research departments compile tedious amounts of information for broadcasters to consider, and it is in their purview to determine what deserves emphasis. When sabermetrics first began to pervade into the everyday vernacular of the sport, Costas had Bill James on KMOX to discuss his theories and baseball abstract, and he considers himself an early adopter of the metrics.

Costas is familiar with postseason baseball as a fan and broadcaster, appearing on World Series broadcasts five different times either as a host or play-by-play announcer. Through his lifetime, he has seen and embraced the evolution of the sport. Yet he is frequently labeled as a “traditionalist.” That led to extensive criticism regarding how he called last year’s American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Guardians on TBS.

“If it ever gets to the point in a broadcast where the statistician eclipses the storyteller, then some of the elements of romance and legend that are part of baseball are lost,” Costas expressed. “What you’re looking to do is strike a balance between those two things. They all have their purpose, but it’s a matter of balance.”

In addition to baseball, Costas also covered basketball with NBC, helping further cement the Association into the collective awareness of the viewing public. He was elevated to lead play-by-play announcer for the 1997-98 season and called three NBA Finals, including one of the most consequential shots in the history of the game. Costas, who announced games locally for the Bulls on WGN-TV during the 1979-80 season, punctuated Michael Jordan’s championship-winning basket in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. Although he no longer calls basketball, Costas is a fan of the game and regularly tunes into the NBA Finals while staying aware of ratings.

“A good portion of it is on cable,” Costas said of league broadcasts. “There are very large rights fees paid, so that explains the league’s willingness to go in that direction, and the quality of the broadcasts are generally very, very high. There’s no criticism of the way the games are presented, but it’s less present in the minds of the casual fan than it was in the ‘80s or ‘90s.”

Costas on Reporting

When Costas was at NBC, he was presented with a proposal from producer Dick Ebersol about starting his own late-night talk show, entering a space where sportscasters had not often frequented. While he looks back at that stage of his career with a sense of appreciation, he turned down the program multiple times. Once he reluctantly agreed to host the show, Costas welcomed guests including Paul McCartney, Don Rickles and Mel Brooks among others for longform, insightful interviews.

“It wasn’t confined to five minutes or a quick soundbite,” Costas said. “I think I was well-suited to that format, and once I got my footing after the first few months of doing it, I realized that even though I hadn’t planned anything in that area, it was something that I was suited to do.”

As a journalist, Costas affirms that it is his responsibility to address uncomfortable subjects with his audience in an objective manner. Through this approach, people feel empowered to formulate their own opinions and contribute to the discourse, especially since they do not have to start the entire conversation. In working as the prime-time host of the Olympic Games on NBC for 24 years, Costas had to balance highlighting the competition with bringing light to international affairs and global issues.

“Some people are cynics, and they confuse cynicism alone with insight. That’s not me,” Costas said. “But I hope that I’ve had a healthy skepticism, and I’ve never thought there was any contradiction between embracing the drama; the theater; the human interest [and] the occasionally and genuinely moving and touching things that can happen in sports… and then turning a journalistic eye towards what’s happening within those same events or those same sports.”

Before Costas took over the hosting role from Jim McKay in 1992, they had a lengthy conversation about the duty of the host and how integral the person is in the network’s coverage. It requires being familiar with notable athletes while also having the dexterity to seamlessly pivot, take a briefing and discuss unexpected occurrences. For example, during Costas’ second Summer Olympics in 1996, he had to cover the Centennial Park bombing. At the same time, he needed to know about the competitions and the significance of certain milestones the athletes achieved.

When Costas inked his final contract with NBC in 2012, he insisted that a stipulation be placed that the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil would be the final time he would host the games on the network. At the time, Costas was also hosting Football Night in America on NBC, which led into Sunday Night Football broadcasts with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. The network suggested he take on an emeritus role similar to what Tom Brokaw did as a newscaster, a proposal to which Costas obliged.

Costas has hosted two different nationally syndicated radio programs during his career – Costas Coast to Coast (1986-1996) and Costas on the Radio (2006-2009) it’s a parallel path to the ones takes by some of the biggest names to follow in his footsteps in sports media.

Stephen A. Smith, for example, is a featured commentator on ESPN’s First Take, broadcasts an alternate telecast for select NBA matchups, appears on NBA Countdown and hosts his own podcast titled The Stephen A. Smith Show. He does all of this while building his own production company, occasionally guest starring on television shows and ensuring he is well-positioned for the future. Smith has not been shy about his desire to expand beyond sports, pondering trying to host a late-night talk show of his own. Costas, it should be noted, is the only person to ever win Emmy awards in news, sports and entertainment. He has amassed a total of 28 throughout his illustrious career, the most wins in the history of sports media. Nonetheless, he believes discussing more than sports takes a specific archetype and is not a route all personalities are inclined to forge.

“You could name a lot of people that do one thing, but they do it extraordinarily well,” Costas said. “They don’t have to check every box…. I just had varied interests, and I guess people identified that I had varying abilities, and so I was able to do that.”

Costas has been on MLB Network since its launch in 2009. This followed an eight-year run with HBO as the host of On the Record, which was later revamped into Costas NOW, but he departed the premium television network when they insisted he grant them “cable exclusivity.” He desperately wanted to join MLB Network because of his passion and interest in the game – and ultimately ended up doing so – but not before making a monumental decision about his future.

“It was a really difficult choice because HBO was the gold standard when it came to sports journalism,” Costas said. “But given my love of baseball and given the fact that NBC hadn’t had it since 2000, I went with the baseball network.”

Costas on the Gridiron

Costas’ infatuation with baseball was contrasted with a perceived indignation towards football, although Costas affirms that was not the case. He had generally been allowed to express his opinions about different topics on radio programs or television shows, but there was a point where it became too much. 

After he went on CNN to discuss the topic of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) following remarks he made at the University of Maryland about football having adverse mental effects, Costas was removed from the NBC’s Super Bowl LII broadcast. The decision did not bother him, as he had been assigned to host the Super Bowl without any prior knowledge before it was publicly announced. In fact, he was somewhat apathetic towards the proceedings.

“What I did suggest was I could make a more significant contribution if, during the course of a six-hour Super Bowl pregame show, you carved out 15 to 20 minutes for a real journalistic interview with Roger Goodell,” Costas shared. “That would be good programming, and it would be solid journalistically, but Goodell declined. So then that left me with no role that I was interested in for the Super Bowl.”

The ambivalent feelings Costas had towards the sport precipitated his exit from the network, officially parting ways in January 2019 and moving to the next stage of his career. Upon his exit though, Costas knew his previous roles were in good hands with Mike Tirico at the helm. The plan from the beginning was to have Tirico assume the host role of both prime-time Olympics coverage and Football Night in America. Once Al Michaels left NBC Sports to join the incipient Thursday Night Football property at Amazon Prime Video, Tirico was duly named the new play-by-play announcer on Sunday Night Football. It was one transaction in a deluge of broadcast movement in the final offseason before the start of the NFL’s new national media rights deal, reportedly worth over $110 billion over 11 years.

“The NFL doesn’t just reign over sports TV; it reigns over all of television and over all of American entertainment,” Costas said. “It’s the only thing that consistently aggregates audiences of that size, and therefore it isn’t just valuable to the networks; it’s indispensable to the networks.”

With these sizable media rights agreements comes substantial compensation for on-air talent. ESPN is reportedly paying Joe Buck and Troy Aikman a combined $33 million to serve as the Monday Night Football broadcast tandem, a figure some people would consider overpaying. Costas does not view it that way, instead perceiving broadcasters as harbingers of credibility.

“When you think about a company spending billions and billions of dollars for a property like they do with football, and then add on all the production costs, why should it surprise anybody that they’re willing to pay a very high premium to get Joe Buck or to retain Jim Nantz or to retain Tony Romo?,” Costas articulated. “Not doing so would be the equivalent of, ‘You spend $5,000 on a suit, but now you’re not going to splurge for the tie or the belt.’ These are accessories to a larger investment, and they’re important accessories.”

ESPN announced it was signing Pat McAfee to a multiyear, multi-million dollar contract to bring his eponymous show to its linear and digital platforms. McAfee conducted the negotiations independently and will still retain full creative control over the show in its new phase. The move, however, received considerable backlash from those inside and outside of ESPN since it occurred amid Disney CEO Bob Iger’s directive to lay off 7,000 employees across all divisions of the company. On several occasions, sports media pundits and personalities alike have expressed that ESPN concentrates its attention on a small sector of talent while neglecting everyone else. While FOX Corporation, Paramount Global and various other companies have engaged in layoffs this year, none made a hire with the star appeal,  gravitas, and price tag of McAfee.

“Someone like McAfee; he moves the needle,” Costas said. “He moves it, I guess, [on] various platforms – YouTube, as well as ESPN now, so he can make a difference so that’s what they’re paying for.”

Costas on Modern Media

An existential question those in the media industry are grappling with is how to offset the effects felt by cord-cutting. In the first quarter of 2023, cable, satellite and internet providers experienced a loss of 2.3 million customers, and the latest Nielsen Media Research Total Audience Report says 34% of consumption derives from streaming services. With digital forms of media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms taking precedence in the marketplace, companies must establish alternate revenue streams while continuing to innovate. 

CNN laid off employees last year, and its parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, will reportedly be laying off additional employees during the summer months. Costas joined the company in 2020 as a correspondent for CNN. Earlier this week, Costas appeared on the network to talk about the merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf, which marked a seminal moment in the history of the game.

Warner Bros. Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav recently relieved CNN chief executive officer Chris Licht of his duties as CEO following a pernicious feature in The Atlantic. It only worsened a dwindling company morale predicated by several controversial decisions regarding coverage, casting and the network’s commitment to journalistic integrity.

While Costas expressed that he had a “cordial, but not deep relationship” with Licht and did not have shrewd insight into the decision to part ways with the embattled CEO, he does understand the shifts in news viewership and how its subject matter can penetrate into sports media. 

For years, consumers regarded MSNBC as being biased to left-leaning politics, FOX News having bias towards right-leaning politics and CNN as nonpartisan, although that sentiment has somewhat changed.

“There’s a battle for viewership, and there’s some thought that people only want to go to the places that reinforce what they already believe,” Costas said. “‘Feed me the same meal every time over and over,’ and now CNN is trying to chart a different course more down the middle. Maybe you have to be more partisan in order to attract a larger cable audience; I underline ‘maybe’ because my insight into this is not as valuable as a lot of other people who are closer to it.”

The fractionalized media landscape, whether it be pertaining to news coverage, morning sports debate shows or afternoon drive programs, has, perhaps, engendered more disparate audiences than ever before. People tend to stick with outlets they know will provide them with information and coverage more favorable to their own points of view, and there is somewhat of an implicit chilling effect associated with channel surfing in certain scenarios. Viewers are obstinate towards programs that reinforce their points of view and hesitant to change, sometimes creating misinformation or, worse, disinformation.

“I think one of the most important courses that should be taught beginning fairly early – probably at the junior high school level and certainly continuing through college – is media literacy,” Costas opined, “which is not telling you what to think, but helping you to navigate this crazy jigsaw puzzle that’s out there.”

There are many people following the business of sports media, but a smaller group of people who tend to break news and report on the beat itself. While there are reporters specialized in different niches of the industry, there are others who indolently parse stories and/or spin aspects of it to render it compatible with their platform.

Established reporters and outlets certainly engage in some level of repurposing; however, these entities safeguard what they are disseminating is true and take accountability for their mistakes. Conversely, there are perpetrators who transmogrify things into engrossing headlines designed to attract traffic. It is disheartening for journalists such as Costas.

“Many sites now, and this is true in sports perhaps especially, [are] just aggregators,” Costas said. “They do no reporting; there doesn’t appear to be any editor overseeing any of it. They just look for stuff wherever it might appear, and then they repurpose it, and almost always, the context, the tone [and] the nuance is lost. At best, it’s reduced to primary colors. At worst, it’s totally misrepresented for clicks.”

In the past, Costas remembers genuine local programming which was exclusive to certain geographical areas. Because of the advent of the internet and social media though, nothing is truly local since people from around the world can consume content live or on demand. While this has brought many people together and improved cultural perceptions, ethnocentrism persists and has hindered accurate comprehension.

“If what you say is inevitably going to some extent be distorted where ‘A’ won’t just become ‘B,’ but it might become ‘X,’ ‘Y’ or ‘Z’ by the time it’s gone through all of its iterations, you sort of say to yourself, ‘What’s the point?,’” Costas elucidated. “Sports is not brain surgery – but you can make a more or less thoughtful point when asked a question, but if it’s then going to be seen, heard or read by more people than heard it initially, and if it’s going to be mangled in the process, it’s almost like a fool’s game to be part of that.”

Costas on the Future

The term ‘pretentious’ is wholly inaccurate in describing Costas. He does not view himself as a visionary and knows that he will not be an “active participant” in the industry that much longer, but is reassured regarding the direction of sports broadcasting. He looks at revered announcers such as Jim Nantz and is able to effectively identify similarities with Curt Gowdy. Although the degree of information available to people has certainly shifted, play-by-play announcing, at its core, remains similar to the on-air product people first heard in 1929, although the lexicon and flow of a broadcast are somewhat different.

“The essentials of the craft remain the same,” Costas said. “If you’re talking about sports talk radio; if you’re talking about the internet’s coverage of sports, that in some cases bears no resemblance to the notions that people of my generation had about credibility and quality of presentation. No one’s saying that sports coverage is masterpiece theater or something that should be taught at a Ph.D. class at Princeton [University], but it can be done more or less thoughtfully. It can be done more or less credibly, and we see wide variations now in how it’s done.”

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There is Nothing Old School About a Human Touch in Radio Sales

“Digital buyers are different, and that’s okay. They may not be the right buyer for you to sell to anyway.”

Jeff Caves



Courtesy: Shutterstock

We are not dumb or dumber when it comes to buying radio advertising. Being a radio ad sales rep is old school to some advertising buyers. To others, we write the book on how to get advertising done. Find those clients! 

The digital automated ad buying platform AudioGo described selling radio ads as old school and wrote that automated buying is smarter. I am sure that is true for some buyers who have grown up with tech and automation, namely programmatic buying, and have changed their view of a radio salesperson. They don’t see the unique value radio sales reps bring to the process. 

Digital buyers are different, and that’s okay. They may not be the right buyer for you to sell to anyway. Plenty of other local direct clients are not ready for algorithms to automate ad buys. They want a human touch, a helping hand, and the kind of expertise that no algorithm can replace. YOU. Radio salespeople add value to these types of clients. Here is why we do and how we are not the “dumb and dumber” of media of buying. 


A radio salesperson offers specific solutions to meet a client’s goals with the right target audience and within their budget. We allow real-time interaction to understand the client’s business better, so we can match up the perfect advertising strategy. We are the ultimate live FAQs page. Building strong client relationships is critical. How can trust, collaboration, and a long-term partnership be created based on algorithms?


Most successful Radio salespeople have invaluable expertise and industry knowledge they picked up through years of experience. Twenty percent of the reps do eighty percent of the business. The vets know all about 6a-8a, 4p-6p, and live endorsement spots. 

We get the nuances of radio advertising, like shifting audience demographics, programming trends, and effective messaging strategies. We can advise a client to make a much more informed (and time-saving) decision that can maximize the impact of their ad campaigns. No algorithm can see that.


Automated programmatic buying may offer convenience, but it isn’t too custom of a solution. We tailor advertising campaigns to meet the unique needs of each client. We take in specific target audience preferences, locations, and competitive market trends to produce effective strategies. We listen to real-time feedback and get results. Algorithms rely on predefined parameters and can’t customize. 


Buying advertising can be complex, with regulations, industry standards, and market trends constantly changing. Radio salespeople have the experience to anticipate roadblocks and offer proactive solutions. Additionally, we can provide insight into budgeting, negotiation, and buying other media. Algorithms lack intuition and can’t maneuver fast enough to handle the unknown. 

While automation and algorithms have their place with certain buyers, remind yourself of the value you offer clients. You provide personalized consultation, industry expertise, customized solutions, and the ability to navigate. You are indispensable to the right buyers. Now find them! 

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Vic Lombardi Turns Nuggets Disrespect into Great Content

“I keep telling people they’re going to go where the money is. The money is the Lakers and the big city teams. The Nuggets don’t sell.” 

Tyler McComas



courtesy of Vic Lombardi

There was a feeling of Denver vs. Everyone during the 10 days that separated the end of the Western Conference Finals and Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The word “boring” was being used to describe what it was going to be like watching the Nuggets play for an NBA title. It didn’t sit well with Denver media and sports fans, as the unfair tag was being consistently referenced by certain members of the national sports media.

Vic Lombardi of Altitude Sports Radio in Denver, along with several of his co-workers, decided to fight against a narrative they found uneducated and unfair. In their eyes, all you had to do this season was to actually watch the Nuggets to find them interesting.  

“We assume everyone else knows what we know,” said Lombardi. “We assume that the rest of the country is watching. And all this has done, to be honest with you, has proven that a lot of national folks don’t watch as carefully as they say they do. Because if they watched they wouldn’t be as surprised as they are right now.”

There was even an on-air spat with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated on the Altitude Sports Radio airwaves. During an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, Mannix said there weren’t any compelling or interesting storylines surrounding the Nuggets first-ever NBA Finals appearance.

Lombardi, along with other hosts at Altitude Sports Radio took exception to the comment and fired back with their thoughts. A few days later, Mannix appeared on the station to defend his position and stick up for what he thought was accurate. Though the tensions were high during the back-and-forth it was incredible content for the station. 

But Lombardi says he doesn’t take the spats, whether they’re public or private, all that seriously when other fellow media members. 

“The arguments, if they’re anything, they’re all in fun,” said Lombardi. “I don’t take this stuff personally. We had a little back and forth with Chris Mannix. That was fun. I actually saw him in Denver when he came out for media. I respect anyone who’s willing to make their point on the air. It’s not the media’s job, it’s not your job as a host or a writer to tell me what I find compelling or interesting. We’re all from different parts with different needs and you can’t tell me what I desire. Let me pick that. Chase a story because the public may learn something. We’re curious by nature, that’s why we got into this business. All I ask is be more curious.”

The entire team at Altitude Sports Radio did an incredible job of sticking up for their own market and creating memorable content out of it. That should be celebrated inside the station’s walls. None of the outrage was forced; it was all genuine. But what’s the lesson to learn here from media folks, both local and national with this story? 

“I think the takeaway is number one, it’s a business,” said Lombardi. “I keep telling people they’re going to go where the money is. The money is the Lakers and the big city teams. The Nuggets don’t sell. 

“Well, you start selling when you start winning. They’ve got to sort of earn their way into that club. I think with what the Nuggets have done recently, and hopefully with what they’re about to do, they’re at the adult table. The media business is not unlike anything else. The biggest common denominator is what sells. I get that. I just don’t understand why a team like this, with the most unique player most people have ever seen, why wouldn’t that sell?”

Maybe it’s still not selling nationally, but locally in Denver, Nuggets talk is on fire. For years, the Denver market has been seen as one where the Broncos and NFL rule. The Nuggets have not been close to the top of Denver sports fans’ interests and have probably fallen routinely behind the Avalanche. 

But there’s been a real craving for Nuggets talk during this historic run. Granted, it didn’t just start two weeks ago, there’s been momentum building for the team ever since Nikola Jokic started asserting himself as one of the best players in the NBA. But there’s more than just an appetite for the Broncos in the city and the past few years have shown it. 

“I think it’s just proven to people in the city that the town is much different than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago,” said Lombardi. “The Broncos continue to rule this town and will do so because the NFL is the NFL. But I can tell you this. There are sports fans outside the NFL. I’m born and raised in Denver and I always believed, what’s so wrong about being an ardent fan of every sport? If you’re a fan, you’re a fan. There’s nothing I hate more than territorializing sports. Like, ‘oh I’m just a football fan’. Or, ‘oh I’m just a hockey fan’. Why? Sports crosses all borders and boundaries.”

Lombardi and Altitude Sports Radio have settled into local coverage of the NBA Finals, rather than fighting with a national narrative. The payoff for the entire ride has been very rewarding for the station. It included what Lombardi called the “highest of highs” when the Nuggets beat the Lakers on their own floor. It even included one of the biggest events the city has seen in the last five years, when the Nuggets hosted its first-ever NBA Finals game last week. 

The last few weeks could even be considered one of the most rewarding times in station history for Altitude Sports Radio. 

“Our ratings have never been higher,” said Lombardi. “It’s a great display of, sometimes in the media, we think we know what the listener wants. We think we do and we try to force feed them. I think the national folks do that, but so do the local folks. You think they know, but if you give them a nice diet, they’ll choose what they want. And that’s what we’ve done.”

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