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Wizards Delivering Radio Party

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“In some ways I feel like a bartender,” Dave Johnson mused before a recent Wizards game. “I used to always wonder how bartenders could remember what somebody’s drink is, what everybody’s story is. Now I’m starting to get it.”

Johnson, the play-by-place voice for Washington’s wackiest sports broadcast, then launched into a play-by-play of a different sort, one about the lives of his regulars. David from Las Vegas was traveling that week, and would be in the upper Midwest. Noah was in Hawaii. Donald Paul Raymond was observing Lent. Stef in Virginia Beach was with her kids, Brandon and Lauren. Jen would be doing a puzzle. Tracy and Michael were over in section 203. Mathew M. had gotten his cousin Chico involved. Dan and Tony were in Austin.

“I can tell you when somebody’s been away, how old they are,” Johnson continued. “If you want to spend the next three hours I can keep going down the list, tell you everybody’s life story.”

Such a claim might be normal for a talk-show host; it’s probably less typical for an NBA play-by-play man. But Johnson’s broadcast has transformed in recent years from a mere description of the action to what he and color analyst Glenn Consor now call the “Radio Party,” a frenetic, interactive bit of madness that sometimes feels more like a family reunion than a basketball game.

Johnson greets individual listeners by name coming in and out of commercial breaks, dozens and dozens of regulars. They send tweets to Johnson before and during games, apologizing if they’re “checking in” late and telling him where they’re tuning in from. Listeners inside the arena grab Johnson’s co-host, Glenn Consor, during his halftime bathroom breaks to talk about what they’ve just witnessed. Johnson and Consor turn in their section 216 perch and wave to farflung sections of Verizon Center, where individual listeners have tweeted their greetings. Listeners mail them cookies and alcohol, coasters and cufflinks. And Johnson recognizes the whole absurd gang, one by one, during his broadcast.

“Johnny, checking in from the UPS truck,” Johnson said during a recent game. “We promise to try to deliver a win.”

“You know where David is tonight: listening from Colby, Kansas,” he said later.

“Fred’s listening in Miami, is heading to Jamaica in the morning,” he said still later.

“Tyrone wants to wish his son a happy 21st birthday,” Consor added.

“Timothy Lawson is back with us, El Capitan,” Johnson said, and on and on it goes. Last spring, an intern counted nearly a thousand Twitter users who tweeted into the “Radio Party” during a playoff game.

“They turned a totally passive activity into something that’s really interactive, and kind of created a community of Wizards fans and listeners,” said Chris Kinard, the sports director for WNEW, which airs Wizards broadcasts. “Everyone wants to hear their name on the radio. It’s a pretty simple concept. That’s been the case since radio started. The audience usually has no role in play-by-play activity other than just listening to it, and now they’re getting shouted out on the radio.”

That’s what led Kinard to tweet to Johnson, getting a kick out of hearing his own name during a game. That’s what makes my daughter listen to Wizards broadcasts, gawking in amazement when family members are mentioned. That’s why Gloria Mamaed, a 48-year old from Reston, wore earbuds to her office holiday party, and again during her family’s Christmas brunch, so she could still be a part of the Radio Party. (“It’s like we’re there. we’re all watching together,” she said.) That’s why Rob Embrey, a 46-year old from McLean, now listens to the vast majority of Wizards broadcasts from his new home in Southern California.

“It’s a weird phenomenon,” said Embrey, who appeared on air with Johnson and Consor during a road game against the Lakers. “It’s a personal touch. It makes you feel more involved, and it’s gotten us involved with each other. We all follow each other on Twitter, we interact with each other. There’s a camaraderie that comes out of it, a family-ness, as corny as that sounds.”

Johnson is careful not to mix the Radio Party with his play-by-play call; he talks to his listeners before the game and during halftime, going to commercial and coming out of timeouts. He keeps Twitter open on his laptop during the game, glancing at it during breaks, replying to some listeners and retweeting others. He reads their comments and advice, and consoles them when things go poorly — “We’ll get through this,” he said, during a recent blowout. “Hang in there gang.” And because of all that, he doesn’t rest for a single second during a broadcast.

“You know, it probably makes you a little bit more exhausted,” Johnson said. “But I think in some ways it energizes me, because again, it really does feel like you’re throwing a party.”

And he feels like it’s working. WNEW’s ratings on weekday nights among adults ages 25-54 have more than doubled since November, although some of that is surely due to the team’s success. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban caught the spirit during a broadcast last spring: “Listening to wizards radio on nba on Sirius,” Cuban tweeted. “Vintage bananas. Hashtag hashtag! Love it.”

“I know by doing this we’re trending younger, we’re getting more women involved,” Johnson said. “I think we break the stereotypes. People are connecting. But we’re having a blast, that’s the bottom line.”

It’s why Johnson now feels like a bartender, sympathizing with fans who are distraught, keeping up with their vacations, tracking teenage listeners as they go off to college, following his regulars in their careers. He said he’s never experienced anything quite like this during his 30-year broadcasting career, and he said the interaction has brought a new energy to his play-by-play.

“I really believe strongly that radio is the most personal of mediums,” he said. “We invade your personal space, whether I’m in your car or I’m in your ear phones. I just think it’s amazing — radio is the oldest of the mediums, yet in some ways it’s the most adaptable.”

So Johnson will keep his Radio Party going, greeting Anna on her way home from a fundraiser, and Stephen on his way to Atlanta, and Ryan in Fargo, and Sammy in the 400-level, and everyone else who checks in.

“Remember,” he told his listeners moments before a recent game began. “United we tweet; divided we wind up on Myspace.”

Credit to the Washington Post who originally published this article

Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee Defends His Intellectual Property on Show

A YouTube user had been using videos from McAfee’s show on his own channel and monetizing them.

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Intellectual property is the most important asset a content creator has in the digital space. That’s why it should not come as a surprise when Pat McAfee took to his show today to defend his.

A YouTube user named AntSlant had been acquiring video from Pat McAfee’s daily show for a while and putting it on his YouTube channel as his own content for months. McAfee has been a hot commodity and it seems that the personality may have been alerted to this activity thru potential future partners and their social searches. McAfee apparently reached out and sent a warning and today he addressed the account in what he called a little “house cleaning.”

“I have funded everything that you see (referencing his studio),” McAfee began. “Whenever you talk about stealing people’s footage, stealing people’s content and putting it up on the internet – so you can benefit from it – I don’t know how you think that the person that created, funded and paid for the content, worked their dick off, and their ass off amongst their peers and did everything – how they are the scam artists in this entire thing and not the account.”

Pat McAfee started referencing the offending account’s ability to monetize the videos. “We looked it up because we have this ability, [they] probably made $150,000 off of our content – not remixing the content, not getting in there and speaking and being a content creator – ripping content from us. Putting it together putting it up as their own videos and marketing it as if they work for us. And never reaching out to us one time. Not one time.”

The value of this content is immeasurable especially considering the account using McAfee’s IP is on the same platform (YouTube) as he is. McAfee add, “no network would just let you take their shit and profit off it. Nobody on Earth would let you do that.”

McAfee then revealed that he would partner with another YouTube account Toxic Table Edits. That account, which was doing the same thing as AntSlant, created a community around the Pat McAfee Show image. Things went differently for Toxic because when contacted by McAfee, the owner of that account responded “like a human”. Now the two will partner on future projects.

A Twitter account with the name @AntSlant did tweet shortly thereafter saying that the videos McAfee discussed had been deleted from his YouTube channel.

Upon an inspection of a YouTube account named AntSlant, the videos are no longer.

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Sports Radio News

Parker Hillis Named Brand Manager of Sports Radio 610

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Goodbye snow and hello heat! Parker Hillis is headed to Houston. Audacy has announced that he will be the new brand manager for Sports Radio 610.

“Parker is a rising star,” Sarah Frazier, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of Audacy in Houston, said in a press release. “He has impressed us since day one with his innovative ideas, focus on talent coaching and work ethic. We’re thrilled to have him join our Audacy team.”

Hillis comes to the market from Denver. He has spent the last three years with Bonneville’s 104.3 The Fan. He started as the station’s executive producer before rising to APD earlier this year.

In announcing his exit from The Fan on his Facebook page, Hillis thanked Fan PD Raj Sharan for preparing him for this opportunity.

“His leadership and guidance set the stage for me to continue to grow and develop in this industry, one that I absolutely love,” Hillis wrote. “This is a special place, one that I am honored to have been a part of and so sad to leave.”

Sports Radio 610 began the process to find a new brand manager in February when Armen Williams announced he was leaving the role. Williams also came to Houston from Denver. He started his own business outside the radio industry.

“I’m excited to join the Sports Radio 610 team in Houston,” said Hillis. “The opportunity to direct and grow an already incredible Audacy brand is truly an honor.”

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Sports Radio News

Schopp & Bulldog: NFL Has To Figure Out Pro Bowl Alternative That Draws Same Audience

“The game just could not be less interesting.”

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After years of criticism and declining television ratings, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell publicly stated this week that the Pro Bowl, as it is currently contested, is no longer a viable option for the league and that there would be discussions at the league meetings to find another way to showcase the league’s best players.

Yesterday afternoon, Schopp and Bulldog on WGR in Buffalo discussed the growing possibility of the game being discontinued, and how the NFL could improve on the ratings it generates with new programming.

“The same number of people [who] watched some recent… game 7 between Milwaukee and Boston… had the same audience as the Pro Bowl had last year,” said co-host Chris “The Bulldog” Parker. “….Enough people watch it to make it worth their while; it’s good business. They’ll put something in that place even though the game is a joke.”

One of the potential outcomes of abolishing the Pro Bowl would be replacing it with a skills showdown akin to what the league held last year prior to the game in Las Vegas. Some of the competitions held within this event centered around pass precision, highlight catches and a non-traditional football competition: Dodgeball. Alternatively, the league could revisit the events it held in 2021 due to the cancellation of the Pro Bowl because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included a virtual Madden showdown and highlight battle, appealing to football fans in the digital age.

Stefon Diggs and Dion Dawkins of the Buffalo Bills were selected to the AFC Pro Bowl roster this past season, and while it is a distinct honor, some fans would rather see the game transformed or ceased entirely – largely because of the risks associated with exhibition games.

In 1999, the NFL held a rookie flag football game on a beach in Waikiki, Hawaii before the Pro Bowl in which New England Patriots running back Robert Edwards severely dislocated his knee while trying to catch a pass. He nearly had to have his leg amputated in the hospital, being told that there was a possibility he may never walk again. Upon returning to the league four seasons later with the Miami Dolphins, Edwards was able to play in 12 games, but then lost his roster spot at the end of the season, marking the end of his NFL career.

“You might not want to get too crazy with this stuff, but there’d have to be some actual contests to have it be worth doing at all,” expressed show co-host Mike Schopp. “Do you not have a game? I don’t know.”

The future of the Sunday before the Super Bowl is very much in the air, yet Goodell has hardly been reticent in expressing that there needs to be a change made in the league to better feature and promote the game’s top players. In fact, he’s been saying it since his first days as league commissioner in 2006, evincing a type of sympathy for the players participating in the contest, despite it generating reasonable television ratings and advertising revenue.

“Maybe the time has come for them to really figure out a better idea, and maybe that’s what’s notable [about] Goodell restating that he’s got a problem with it,” said Parker. “If there’s some sort of momentum about a conversation [on] creating a very different event that could still draw your 6.7 million eyeballs, maybe they’ll figure out a way to do something other than the game, because the game just could not be less interesting.”

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