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A Conversation with Terry Boers (Part 2)

Matt Fishman



In January of 2017, Terry Boers retired after 25 years as a host for The Score in Chicago. As part of his retirement he has written a book detailing his career at the Score entitled “The Score of a Lifetime.” In part two of our discussion we talked about his then “new” show with Dan Bernstein which began in 1999.

Matt:  The lineup change happened in 1999 and you were paired with Dan Bernstein for a show from 8am-Noon. What was it like starting a new show in a new time slot with a new partner?

Terry: It was turning your life upside down. It was getting up at 4am and fighting traffic and I didn’t know Dan Bernstein that well. He was our Bears reporter and he did some nice stuff. I looked at it like no matter what I think and even though I don’t know him, it was time to find out if this would work. I wasn’t about to give up radio. So you had to make it work. I was humbled by the move. I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way. This show was not going to fail. So I put everything into making it work and so did Bernsy. And I think it did work. I renewed everything in my mind. Erased everything and started a new chapter. There’s no other way to do it. I had to recalibrate and start everything over again without sounding bitter and I think we did that. I’ve learned not to be (bitter). I think it’s how you handle it.

Matt: From being close to that whole situation I feel like you went through a period of mourning for about a week maybe two weeks for the old show. Then you just let it go and focused on the new show.

Terry: It wasn’t entire conscious. Sometimes your subconscious can be stronger than your actual consciousness. I think that was definitely in play. You would hear it from people that they missed the old show. I felt well, “If you fucking missed the show so much and were really out there, we wouldn’t be in this situation.” Yeah it takes you a second to get your balance back and forget some of that stuff and go ahead and push forward. I had made up my mind to do it, doesn’t mean that I did it right away. Just do the new show the best I can but let the chips fall where they may and not be bitter or stupid about it.

Matt: At what point did you feel good about “Boers and Bernstein” and feel like the new show would be successful?

Terry:  It probably took about six months, at least. I think there’s a rating period for everything. We felt like we were in a decent pattern. The idea of the show, at least in my mind, was to come up with something either one time a week or one time a month to add something fun to the show. So we kept adding to the Friday Fung segment. People are stuck in traffic and we wanted to have fun with it. We covered the serious stuff when it needed to be covered, but on a day-to-day basis we could have fun with it. Bernstein had a reputation for being very serious and smart and all that. We needed to balance that out. Sports isn’t always interesting so I think there’s a time to balance it off and talk about the world—but in a fun way, not a serious way. We set a tone and the show was very successful but like everything else it took a long time.

Matt: In 2006 The Score became the flagship to the White Sox, the first MLB team to join the station. What affect did that have on your show and the station?

Terry: When the White Sox were on we did zeros. Nobody was listening. They cost me thousands of dollars in bonuses. Even five people listening would’ve helped. It seemed like a good idea (to pick them up) as it was right after the Sox World Series year but they would kill us with those afternoon games. If you saw five or six of them on the schedule for the month, you knew you weren’t going to be in the top five. Some of those months, ‘Oh my god! We’re in trouble!” but I learned how to ignore it.

Matt: There’s been a recent major line-up change at the Score bringing Dan McNeil back. Were you surprised by the changes?

Terry: Jimmy DeCastro (Entercom/Chicago Market Manager) loves Danny. If Danny wanted to work it was going to be for DeCastro. He’s liked Danny for 30 years. This was not a great shock. DeCastro’s not a guy who likes long-form talk, beating up one topic for a four or five hour show. It’s not what he likes. Danny’s more bang-bang-bang a here, there and everywhere. Where Bernstein and Jason (Goff) were more on a topic for the whole show—like the Michigan State stuff. It isn’t DeCastro’s cup of tea. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just not his cup of tea. It was not surprising. When you get a new toy you’re going to do something with it. You knew something was gonna happen when DeCastro came into power again. The guy he loves is Danny. It’s nothing deeper than that. Not surprising!

Matt: Every talent I’ve talked to at the Score absolutely LOVES working for Mitch Rosen (Score Ops Director/PD). What is it that he does that may be different from other PDs?

Terry: Mitch genuinely cares. There’s a part of him that takes everything home with him. He doesn’t want to let anything slide. He doesn’t want anything left unsaid. He doesn’t want to make you miserable. He wants everyone to be happy and productive in what they do. Mitch went out of his way to make sure everyone was good. He would constantly ask for input. I still think it’s a people business and nobody’s better at dealing with people than Mitch. This was a guy who drove out to Indiana five or six times when Danny (McNeil) wouldn’t show up for work in 2014. Most Program Directors would say “Fuck him I’m not going out there!” I think most executives worth their salt have a really cold blooded side to them that forget sometimes that it’s a people business. I don’t think Mitch has ever forgotten that. He would always try no matter how bad the situation was to make a valiant effort to make it better. He genuinely cares about people.

Matt: Mitch apparently helped convince you to write this book about your radio career. Explain how the book “The Score of a Lifetime” came about?

Terry: I was a little hesitant at first, but I had promised it to people. Mitch had a lot better memory of some of these things than I did. I mean I knew (former Score host Rick) Telander was an asshole but I didn’t really think about it that much. So I needed his help with it. I told Mitch “It isn’t going to be a flattering portrayal of a lot of people.” Mitch was OK with that. He really helped promote the book and would do anything within reason that the publisher asked. He really helped with the background stuff –what was said, what happened, stuff that I wasn’t paying attention to at the time. Once you promise something to people, they want it. My advice to everyone: From now on, save every note and everything that’s said when it happens. It’s much easier than going back and trying to track things down. I wanted to make sure everything was right. Mitch’s help was essential to make this book happen.

In Part Three of our Q&A with Terry Boers, Terry talks about his illness and cancer diagnosis, the future of radio, and what projects he is working on in 2018.

BSM Writers

Your Football Conversation Has To Be Different

I don’t know why any host would go with B- or C-material just for the sake of providing variety. That’s silly to me.

Brian Noe




Rejoice! Ball is back, baby. Life is just better when football season is included; am I right? (That was a rhetorical question because I know I’m right in this case.) Like many people in this country, I’m all about the pigskin. Outside of my family and friends, there aren’t many things in life that I love more than BALL.

With all of that being established, a simple question still exists: is there such a thing as talking too much football on a sports radio show?

I think it isn’t as much what you’re talking about; it’s how you’re talking about it. For instance, it isn’t good enough to lazily say, “Ehh, we’ll start off by talking about the game last night.” Well, how are you going to talk about it? Do you have anything original, interesting or entertaining to say? Or are you just gonna start riffing like you’re in a jam band hoping to accidentally stumble onto something cool after six minutes of nothing?

Talking about football is like opening a new burger joint. Hang with me on this one. There are so many options — Burger King, McDonald’s, Five Guys, Wendy’s, In-N-Out, etc. — that you can’t expect to have great success if you open a run-of-the-mill burger joint of your own. Having an inferior product is going to produce an inferior result.

It comes down to whether a topic or angle will cause the show to stand out or blend in. Going knee-deep on a national show about the competition at left guard between two Buffalo Bills offensive lineman doesn’t stand out. You’ll get lost in the shuffle that way.

A show needs to constantly be entertaining and engaging. One way to check that box is with unique viewpoints. Don’t say what other shows are saying. Your burger joint (aka football conversation) needs to be different than the competition. Otherwise, why are you special?

Another way to stand out is with personality. It’s impossible to have unique angles with every single topic that’s presented. A lot of hosts recently pointed out that the Dallas Cowboys committed 17 penalties in their first preseason game against the Denver Broncos. But Stephen A. Smith said it differently than everybody else. That’s what it comes down to; either say things that other shows aren’t saying, or say them differently.

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh made a comment recently that too much of anything is a bad thing. So back to the original question, is there such a thing as too much football talk on a sports radio show?

Variety is the spice of life, but quality is the spice of sports radio. If a show provides quality, listeners will keep coming back. It’s really that simple. Sure, hosts will hear “talk more this, talk more that” from time to time, but you know what’s funny about that? It means the listeners haven’t left. The show is providing enough quality for them to stick around. If the quality goes away, so will the audience.

It’s smart for hosts and programmers to think, “What’s our strongest stuff?” If that happens to be a bunch of football topics, great, roll with it. I don’t know why any host would go with B- or C-material just for the sake of providing variety. That’s silly to me.

Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick said something interesting last week while visiting Atlanta’s training camp. Vick was asked which team’s offense he’d like to run if he was still playing today. “The offense Tom Brady is running in Tampa,” Vick said. “Pass first.”

The answer stood out to me because throwing the ball isn’t what made Vick special with the Falcons. He was a decent passer and a dynamic runner. The run/pass blend made Vick a problem. I totally understand wanting to prove doubters wrong, but there are a lot of athletes that get away from what they do best while relying on something else that isn’t their specialty.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is not an outside shooter. He’s brutal in that area. Yet Russ will keep firing threes at a 30% clip. Why? Attacking the rim and working the midrange is his game. You don’t see Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul bombing threes if they aren’t going in. He kills opponents with his midrange skills all day.

It’ll be interesting to see how Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa approaches this season. He’s received a steady diet of “can’t throw the deep ball.” Will he try to a fault to prove doubters wrong, or will he rely on what he does best? Beating defenders with timing and accuracy on shorter throws is where he finds the most success.

Working to improve your weaknesses makes sense, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of going away from your strengths. How is it any different in sports radio? If a host isn’t strong when it comes to talking basketball or baseball, it definitely makes sense to improve in those areas. But if that same host stands out by talking football, at some point it becomes like Westbrook jacking up threes if the host gets too far away from a bread-and-butter strength.

Former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is the only player in the Baseball Hall of Fame that was unanimously elected. He relied on his cutter — a fastball that moved, a lot — about 85% of the time. Mo didn’t say, “Man, my four-seam fastball and changeup aren’t getting enough respect.” He rode that cutter all the way to Cooperstown and legendary status.

Rivera is a great example of how playing to your strengths is the best approach. He also shows that quality trumps variety every time. Let’s put it this way: if 85% of a sports radio show is football content, and the quality of that show is anywhere near Mo caliber, it’s destined to be a hit.

One of my buddies, Mike Zanchelli, has always been a hit with the ladies. I think he came out of the womb with at least 10 girls in the nursery showing interest in him. He had a simple dating philosophy: “Always. Leave them. Wanting. More.” That might work in dating, but I think it’s the opposite in sports radio. Most listeners don’t hear the entire show. If they’re in and out, wouldn’t you want them to hear your best stuff when they are tuned in?

That’s why I say screw variety. That’s why I wouldn’t worry about overserving your audience an all-you-can-eat BALL buffet. I think it’s much wiser to focus on producing a quality product regardless if it’s well rounded or not.

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BSM Writers

ESPN Has Gone From Playing Checkers to Chess In Two Years

Those decisions make the future ones with the Pac-12, the Big 12, NBA and UFC fascinating to watch but what’s clear is that this ESPN strategy is different.



In the days after the Big Ten news leaked regarding some of the details of their upcoming media deals, I was hankering for more information. I wanted more insight as to the “why”. Why did the Big Ten leave such a long-lasting and prosperous relationship with ESPN. I just couldn’t imagine it and it’s why I wrote about it last week.

It was in that pursuit of knowledge that I tuned into a podcast favorite of mine, The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast. The show’s hosts are deep into the weeds of sports media with John Ourand at the Sports Business Journal and Andrew Marchand at the New York Post. It was Ourand who was dropping dimes of news on the Big Ten deal last week. I wanted to hear him dive deeper, and he did on the podcast. But it was a throwaway line that got my wheels churning.

“This is about the third or fourth deal in a row that ESPN, the free-spending ESPN, to me has shown some financial discipline” Ourand said. “They are showing a bit of financial discipline that I hadn’t seen certainly when John Skipper was there and pre-dating John Skipper.”

I had to keep digging and folks, it’s true. ESPN is essentially Jimmy Pitaro in the above quote, the Chairman of ESPN. Since taking the role in 2018, he was put into an interesting position of being in the middle of a lot of big money media rights deals that would be coming due for renegotiation soon. The rights fees for EVERYTHING were going to balloon wildly. But in the last two years, he has comfortably kept the astronomical rates somewhat within shouting distance.

The big one, the NFL media rights deal agreed to last March, saw ESPN pay a very strong 30% increase for the rights. However, other networks involved had to pay “double” as Ourand so succinctly put it. He also personally negotiated with FOX to bring in Troy Aikman and Joe Buck to make their Monday Night Football booth easily more recognizable and the best in the sport. ESPN in that deal, that did NOT include doubled rates, got more games, better games, and more schedule flexibility. ABC gets two Super Bowls in the deal too. Simply put, Jimmy Pitaro set up ESPN to get a Super Bowl itself, but for now his network will take full advantage of the ABC network broadcast when the time comes (2026, 2030).

The recent Big Ten deal was massive because the conference spent forty years with ESPN and decided to reward that loyalty with a massively overpriced mid-tier package. ESPN balked at the idea. In their back pocket lies a lot of college football media rights deals with a lot of conferences including one that will be a massively profitable venture, the SEC package. ESPN takes over the CBS package of the “top” conference game. Yes, it paid $3 billion for it, but it’s a scant $300 million annually. Sure, that’s over 5X what CBS was paying annually but CBS signed that deal in 1996! I need not tell you all of the advancements in our world since Bob Dole was a presidential nominee. ESPN now gets to cherry-pick the best game from the best conference and put the game anywhere they damn well please to maximize exposure.

The F1 media rights extension is massive because of two things: one, they got it cheap before the sport littered your timeline on weekend mornings and two, when they re-signed with F1 this summer they paid way less than other streaming networks were reportedly willing to pay. The brand, the savvy worked again. ESPN takes a small risk for a potentially exploding sport and much like CBS did with the SEC for 25 years, can make massive margins.

I can keep going, and I will with one more. Sports betting. The niche is growing like my lawn minutes after the summer rainstorm. Pitaro has said publicly that sports betting “has become a must-have” and he’s full-frontal correct. ESPN is in an odd spot with their clear lineage to Disney, but it’s obvious something massive is going to come soon with ESPN reportedly looking for a deal in the $3 billion neighborhood.

Pitaro has been positioning this company from a position of strength. He pays big money for big properties, but knows when he’s getting taken advantage of and most importantly, isn’t afraid to pull his brand’s name out of the deep end.

ESPN may have an issue with dwindling subscribers, but that’s an everyone problem. The difference is ESPN is constantly trying to get you from one network ship you think is sinking into another network life raft. If you want to leave cable or satellite and go streaming, you can. ESPN+ is there to pick up the pieces. Or Sling (with an ESPN bundle). Or YouTube TV (ESPN is there too). Or a myriad of other ways. They are positioned so well right now to be where you think you want to go. Jimmy Pitaro and ESPN have been amazing at doing whatever they can to keep you paying them monthly.

The network has been aggressive with media rights deals but these newer ones have been diligently maneuvered by Pitaro. It was a choice to essentially back the SEC for the next decade, and to put more money into the potential of F1. The effort was a conscious one to keep a tight-lipped mission to bolster Monday Night Football’s booth. It was an understated strategy to reinvest in the NHL. Those decisions make the future ones with the Pac-12, the Big 12, NBA and UFC fascinating to watch but what’s clear is that this ESPN strategy is different. The old adage of “pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered” may have applied to the network under different leadership, but these aren’t eating pigs. These are boars.

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BSM Writers

The Producers Podcast – Big Baby Dave, Jomboy Media

Brady Farkas



Big Baby Dave has his hands in everything for Jomboy Media. He joins Brady Farkas to talk about how he brings a unique sound to each show he works with.






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Barrett Media Writers

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