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A Conversation With Bernie Miklasz

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The Cardinals are in the midst of a remarkable season. They have the top record in all of baseball, and their pitching staff ranks among the best ever. But a string of injuries has compromised the offense, and the rival Pirates and Cubs are in hot pursuit. The Rams have looked shaky this preseason, perhaps destined for yet another losing year, but each new day brings a fresh round of speculation about whether the team will stay in St. Louis or bolt for Los Angeles. As the cooler weather last week reminded us, hockey season is just around the corner. And did we mention that Mizzou football is in the top 25?

Sports here are hotter than ever, but for the past couple of weeks, Bernie Miklasz hasn’t been around to help us make sense of the latest news, his familiar voice missing from the morning paper, his daily videos absent from the Internet. The venerable columnist, who’s been sharing his opinions in the pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since the 1980s, was busy preparing for a new challenge. He’s left the paper to join 101 ESPN, where he’ll host a three-hour morning radio show. It premieres at 7 a.m. tomorrow.

On Saturday, Miklasz took a few minutes away from plotting segments for the new show to chat with us, explaining the rationale behind his career move and previewing what we can expect from him in the new gig. We’ll jump into the full conversation below, but first, a few major takeaways.

1. Miklasz hasn’t given up writing. Though his focus will certainly be the new radio show, Miklasz still plans to write several pieces each day for the station’s website, keeping up the torrid pace that he’s set over the past few years as a prolific blogger. “I’m as committed to writing as ever, and I’m going to be delivering a ton of written content,” he says.

2. It’s not a done deal just yet, but Miklasz has been talking to Will Leitch—noted author, Deadspin founder, and big-time Cardinals fan—about possibly teaming up on a Cardinals podcast. For a preview of just how fun that could be, listen to this segment of Leitch quizzing Miklasz on trivia over at Sports on Earth.

3. The deciding factor that led Miklasz to make the move was a desire to connect with his audience in more ways—on the airwaves and on the web, through blog posts, videos, and the aforementioned podcast. But he also admits that the decline of newspapers, a trend from which the Post has been far from immune, was a factor.

So, without further ado, here is our (significantly abridged) conversation. One thing about Bernie, he’s never at a loss for words.

Obviously, after decades at the paper, this is a huge change, but you do have a lot of past experience in radio.

I was way ahead of the curve on that. I’ve had a simultaneous radio career in some form since like the early 1980s in Baltimore. I’ve always loved radio, and I’ve been fortunate enough to where people want to put me on the radio. It’s just a matter of being practical. There were times, it was just very difficult to do both jobs well. That frustrated me. I realized at some point I was just going to have to choose one over the other. I kind of put that decision off for as long as I could. This seemed like the ideal time.

What appealed to you about the specific opportunity at 101 ESPN?

It’s been hard for me to emotionally make the decision to leave newspapers, because it is such a huge part of my life for so long, but I’ve had this pull to go where I think the business is headed. I just think the way media is consumed in our culture has changed dramatically and it’s still changing. The notion that everyone is going to go to one place and not go anywhere else for their news and information, that is a hopelessly outdated and naive belief. Well, 101 ESPN offers me multiple platforms, and I think that’s the way you build an audience. I want to be able to present something for everyone. If you want to read, well, I’m going to be blogging like a crazy man at 101Sports.com. If you don’t necessarily want to read, but you want to hear me run my mouth on the radio, well, I got that for you, too. If you want some advanced video, that will be there.

What about podcasting? At the Post, you and beat writer Derrick Goold had a great Cardinals podcast.

I think podcasting is going to be big with 101 ESPN. I don’t want it to sound like it’s a done deal, but I’m hopeful that I’m going to team up with Will Leitch to do a Cardinals podcast.

From a more personal perspective, what made you want to make this move?

This will sound really self-serving. I don’t mean it to be. It’s just really honest. I’m 56 years old, and I’ve been in this business basically since 1980. I’ve never stopped trying to evolve. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten complacent. I’m really hungry. I’m really curious. I was doing radio in the early ’80s, when very few sportswriters in America were doing radio. I was way ahead of the curve on that. When the Internet became a factor, I started hosting a forum. This was maybe 15 years ago, maybe more. I had sportswriters around the country saying, “What the hell are you doing this for?” I said, “I’m investing in my future, because this is where we’re headed.” I say this with great pride, I think I was the first mainstream sports columnist in America to host an online forum. You got to adapt or you are going to fade or die. I really believe that. So for me, the next step for my career, even at age 56, was to put the old model aside and leave to go with what I consider to be the new model, which is multiple platforms, something for everyone, take advantage of technology.

Does changing career paths at age 56, after 26 years as a newspaper columnist, represent a risk?

I’m not an idiot. If I thought there was a distinct possibility or any possibility of failure, I would have never made this jump. To me, the risk is staying put. The risk is being afraid to try to reinvent yourself. I’m sitting at a desk all day, and I’m writing these pieces for STLToday. You’re just kind of in a rut. I enjoyed my work, but you’re just kind of bogged down with writing, writing, writing, writing, writing. After a while, I was wondering how many brain cells I was killing. It wasn’t a matter of getting complacent, because I will never be complacent. It was a matter of maybe wanting to challenge myself. I have had people say, “You could have worked there until you died.” That’s probably true. But am I really at a point in life and in my career where my goal is to run out the clock? No.

It also probably feels nice to have a company come to you and show that they value what you do.

This will sound self-serving, too, and I apologize, but frankly, I think they were intelligent enough to realize that I was a smart investment. They realized, we are going to have to pay this guy a lot of money, but he’s going to do this. He’s going to help grow the audience on the digital side. We’re going to have a local morning drive show, which we’ve never had. That’s new revenue. It just tells me they’re sharp in terms of recognizing the business opportunity. I’m just thrilled. To do this at 56, it’s just amazing. In terms of just optimism, and an extra infusion of energy and just having your creative juices recharged a little bit, it’s just gotten me really, really fired up.

How much did the slow death of newspapers play into this decision? Were you leaving a sinking ship?

My purpose is not at all the disparage the Post-Dispatch. I was very grateful for the vehicle they gave me. They gave me a chance. I’m eternally grateful. But we can’t sit here and pretend that there aren’t problems in the newspaper industry or that there aren’t problems with Lee Enterprises. The financial challenges are pretty extreme. There have been layoffs and more layoffs and more cutbacks. I mean what’s happening with the Post-Dispatch is happening everywhere. All newspapers have cut staff and the newsrooms are down to about as low as you can go. The people who are there who are excellent reporters want to do a great job. But they now have much more work put on their shoulders, and then there is another round of layoffs, and there is even more work put on their shoulders. It’s just really hard to not only maintain your physical and mental stamina to do the job, but also just to keep your morale up. It’s just becoming increasingly difficult. It’s just really sad actually.

To read the rest of the article visit STL Magazine where it was originally published

 

Sports Radio News

Tony Bruno Relives Favorite Moments With Angelo Cataldi on 94 WIP

“I loved every day. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that.”

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Tony Bruno has been a staple of the sports radio business for decades. Bruno is from Philadelphia and was teamed up in the early nineties with a duo still dominating the local airwaves there today, Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti. The three reunited Thursday morning on 94 WIP to remember the glory days of their partnership and friendship.

One of the first moments Cataldi asked Bruno if he remembered was the update he did from a tree outside of their studio and the answer was an emphatic yes.

“Absolutely, it’s one of the highlights of my life – other than interviewing four Presidents and every sports athlete in history – there’s no bigger moment than me climbing up in the tree, which was obstructing our view of William Penn and the city skyline. That’s what I do, I was a man of action. I’m not one of these guys that talks the talk, I climb the tree to do whatever is necessary.”

More frivolity followed when Cataldi harkened back to a segment of ‘Damsels in Distress’ and a time in which Bruno was sent on the street during a snowstorm to help shovel people out of their driveways. Bruno quickly recalled, “Man of the people. I should run for – I should of run for Governor of Pennsylvania or Senate or something.”

Bruno added that his favorite rant (and one that Cataldi loved too) wasn’t about the Cowboys or sports at all. “My favorite was my Infinity Broadcasting rant where I went on one day and even ripped our bosses, all the way up to the top of Infinity Broadcasting.” Cataldi cackled and praised Bruno’s rants more before being interrupted by Bruno saying, “yeah, my only regret is I never really ripped Al (Morganti) the way I should have ripped him. I let him of the hook so many times.”

An insightful moment came at the end of the call when Cataldi asked rhetorically if Bruno ever thought they (Cataldi & Morganti) would still be doing this thirty years later and then asked if Tony ever regretted leaving.

“It was a tough decision, Ang,” Bruno answered. “I was given an ultimatum. When I came to work with you guys, I loved every day. Every day we had fun. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that. It wasn’t one of those, ‘oh I got to go; I’m too big for these guys’. I even turned the ESPN job down a couple of times.

“My kids were still younger then, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have to move. They said just come up here on weekends and that’s how ESPN Radio started. So I was doing weekends and Tom Bigby (Program Director) didn’t like that either, told me it wasn’t going to work. It was a philosophical thing. When he told me, ‘you should go because we are not going to pay you what they’re paying you,’ I said ok.

Cataldi began to sign off with Bruno with genuine thanks: “I got to tell you something Tone, we are indebted to you for the rest of our lives because we both learned so much from you and you are one of the great talents that radio has ever had.”

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Sports Radio News

Dodgers Temporarily Pull Broadcasters Off Road

“If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road.”

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When the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the East Coast later this week, the men that call the action on TV and radio will not be with them. The games will instead be broadcast on AM570 LA Sports and SportsNet LA from their respective studios.

“Due to a few members of the Dodgers’ broadcast team having recently tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, the Dodgers have decided to not travel their broadcasters to upcoming games in Philadelphia and Washington,” the Dodgers announced in a statement. Similar to the 2020 and 2021 MLB seasons, the games will be broadcast from Los Angeles,” reads a statement on the team’s Twitter account.

No further details are available, so the severity and the number of cases remain unknown.

Last September, both members of the Dodgers’ television play-by-play crew were forced into quarantine. Joe Davis was the first to test positive, followed later that month by Orel Hershiser.

On Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts told the media that the Dodgers’ roster and coaching staff are not effected.

“There’s there’s no symptoms in the clubhouse. I think that as far as the upstairs, as an organization, we’re all just trying to be very cautious. But as far as in the clubhouse, coaches, training staff, nothing like that.”

If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road. 2022 was supposed to be a return to normal for the Dodgers and many other teams after not letting broadcasters travel in 2020 and 2021.

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Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee: ‘No One Will Disrespect Jim Rome On My Show’

“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle.”

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Jim Rome is a sports radio icon and Pat McAfee recognizes that.

On The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, McAfee was talking to co-host A.J. Hawk about how Rome trended recently on Twitter.

This happened after news of Tom Brady’s FOX Sports deal surfaced, and a list of the top paid sports media personalities was compiled. Rome came in behind Brady at number two making a reported $30 million a year, and many were surprised by that number. McAfee wasn’t.

“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for Jim Rome.”

McAfee gave props to Rome, 57, saying he’s been doing sports talk probably longer than anyone. He’s one of the most widely distributed hosts in the country. Pat said he won’t tolerate anyone talking smack about the Smack-Off King.

“No disrespect will be said on this show of Jim Rome, ever,” he said. “Love that man.”

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