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Craig Carton Tells Critics ‘Figure Out How To Deal’ With Return

“Those of you that don’t want me to come back – I’m back,” said a defiant Carton before signing his first show back to WFAN. “That’s on you to figure out how to deal with it.”

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Craig Carton

Craig Carton felt plenty of love from fans and colleagues as he began  his comeback tour on Thursday. But it wasn’t all bouquets and well-wishes for WFAN’s new afternoon host, who had plenty of shade thrown his way too. 

Not just listeners, who joked on social media about Carton’s criminal history, but also from others in the industry who aren’t keen on the idea of WFAN returning to a host who already had his golden opportunity and threw it away. Carton had a message for those people during his first hour back on WFAN Thursday evening. Get better.

“There’s also people I noticed in the business, people who are talk show hosts, and radio guys and gals who don’t like the fact that I got this chance and maybe they didn’t. And they wanted the chance,” Carton said. “What I would say to every one of you, whomever you may be – I was away for three years, I have not been on the radio in three years. I think Boomer said today, 1,150 days. You have had plenty of time to get better at what you do. You didn’t. That’s on you. That’s not on me. Got it? Good.”

There are people in sports radio who have pushed for the industry to move past recycled talent. Pushed for the industry to exemplify equality and fairness in its hires, by highlighting sports radio’s failure to display an inclusive roster of talent throughout the country. 

Despite the faults of the sports radio industry in welcoming women and minorities into what is sometimes perceived as a white-male dominated fraternity, Carton was going to get an opportunity. He was one of the elite hosts in the country when he threw it away more than three years ago, and brands weren’t going to ignore that. 

“Those of you that don’t want me to come back – I’m back,” said a defiant Carton before signing his first show back to WFAN. “That’s on you to figure out how to deal with it.”

Sports Radio News

Sports Betting Rise Making Impact on Fans’ Viewing Experience

“You can’t watch a sporting event without a commercial break being PointsBet, MGM, Caesars SportsBook, whatever it is.”

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With sports betting becoming legal in more states such as New York, it has the potential to affect how people view sporting events. However, that may not exactly be the case.

Peter Kafka addresses the sports betting rise on his Recode Media podcast with the latest edition titled “Game on: Behind the sports betting boom.” His guests on the show were Action Network CEO Patrick Keane and Sports Illustrated writer Richard Johnson.

While sports gambling ads for Caesars SportsBook, DraftKings, and FanDuel keep popping up during games, it might be only something that happens in bulk when states start to allow legalized sports betting. As Keane notes, the NFL can only show so many ads in a game:

“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be for the rest of your life,” he said. “What you see is massive infusion of investment when a state goes mobile legal. When the state is mobile, that’s when you start to see the Caesars SportsBook, DraftKings, FanDuel that you see a lot on television. The NFL has a mandate that you can only show six of those ads during a game.”

Johnson agreed with that sentiment and thinks it is largely because, as of right now, broadcasters are going to be nervous about eliminating the casual viewer:

“I think what you are seeing and where you always are going to see it more than during the regular game telecast is going to be on the commercials,” said Johnson. “You can’t watch a sporting event without a commercial break being PointsBet, MGM, Caesars SportsBook, whatever it is. Those commercials are going to be more and more insipid.

I think broadcasters are terrified of alienating the casual viewer. They have always been terrified of alienating the casual viewer, whether it is putting a score bug on the screen because they thought the viewer would turn off because they know the score. When John Madden was first calling games, they wouldn’t let him do actual football scheme stuff when he first started out because they said, well, that’s going to be too high level for the viewer.”

In fact, Johnson believe that sports gambling has become more mainstream thanks to Scott Van Pelt and his “Bad Beats segment on SportsCenter:

“He [Van Pelt] has really helped to make it mainstream in the sports watching and sports viewing and sports television vernacular,” Johnson said. “Increasingly, it’s becoming part of the common speak of the sports journalist and the sports fan if you are into it and if you can talk the talk.”

For Johnson, being able to write about gambling has allowed him to have another tool in his arsenal when he writes about college football because he is able to relate to more people:

“As someone who does a little bit of gambling writing but as someone who does a lot of college football writing in general,” he said, “gambling is really a thing to put in my tool kit that becomes very interesting.

“There are two ways you can go about writing about gambling. You can sort of write about the social aspect of people’s bad picks or funny picks or crazy parlays or… you can have your own numbers or own systems. I sort of dabble in both, but what it really helps me to do is sort of speak the language, especially in college football as a big sport. It helps me speak the language of using spreads and gambling projections to give predictions and set the table of what a game is going to be.”

As far as the future of alternate broadcasts or betcasts, both Keane and Johnson believe that more will pop up as more states are able to have legal sports betting:

“I think it’s not as prevalent today clearly because we are not in as many states,” said Keane. “But I think that’s going to be an experience where people are going to find it inauthentic if it is not referenced when you are at the end of a game. Is it critical mass? No, but I think you are going to see these alternative betcasts continue and start to bleed more into the traditional broadcast experience.”

This podcast is a good one for someone wanting to learn more about sports betting if you are just getting into it, as well as what the future holds for this industry. 

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Sports Radio News

Dan Le Batard Fears Giving Away Hall of Fame Vote Cost Barry Bonds

“They made an overhaul of the voting system and one of the things they did was change it from 15 years of eligbility to 10 years.”

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Did Dan Le Batard giving his Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin eight years ago end up costing Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens election to the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Appearing on 95.7 The Game’s Damon and Ratto in San Francisco, Le Batard said his decision led the Baseball Hall of Fame to reduce players’ eligibility on the ballot from 15 years to 10 years. It’s entirely possible losing those five years cost Bonds and Clemens. Many voters still weren’t ready to elect them to Cooperstown, but those two controversial figures could’ve gained support over five more years.

“I didn’t want my vote to be something that kept people away,” Le Batard said. “But they changed the rules when they banned me. I thought the punishment was just going to be to ban me. I’m banned for life; I can’t vote anymore and that would be the end of it.

“But also because they didn’t want anyone else to do what I did in crowdsourcing the vote ever again. They made an overhaul of the voting system and one of the things they did was change it from 15 years of eligbility to 10 years, and I’m guessing that’s part of why Barry Bonds won’t be in the Hall of Fame by these voters.”

Le Batard expressed the same belief on his show, which is what prompted Damon Bruce and Ray Ratto to invite him on.

“I’m not OK with denying someone their excellence because I’m doing jazz hands on being Performance Troll,” said Le Batard.

In 2014, Le Batard’s ballot was taken away after he revealed that he was the writer who gave his vote to Deadspin. The site filled out Le Batard’s ballot based on reader votes, which ended up voting for the three players who were elected to the 2015 class: Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, and Tom Glavine.

The intention was to make a mockery of Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voters who had used the process to draw attention to themselves, trying to make statements with their ballots. Additionally, Deadspin wanted to show that fans could do just as good a job with Hall of Fame votes as BBWAA members.

But was Le Batard’s “stunt” really that disruptive? Eight years later, the Hall of Fame vote still causes outrage and resentment. It’s one of the most unpleasant periods in sports media, as WFAN’s Gregg Giannotti said this week.

As Ratto said, Le Batard’s move alone didn’t cost Bonds a Hall of Fame election. But the Hall of Fame did change the requirement for BBWAA voters, stating they must be active with an organization for 10 years. Those no longer working in media would eventually lose their eligibility. Maybe that had an effect on a Bonds vote, as well.

Also making the conversation enjoyable was the chemistry, the sexual tension between Le Batard and Ratto. It’s probably a good thing this interview happened over the phone, not with the two of them in the same room.

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Sports Radio News

Blue Jays Fans Want Radio Booth Back

“70% of those that responded to McGrath’s survey said they want to see the Blue Jays return to a two-man radio team.”

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The Toronto Blue Jays’ radio call virtually vanished over the last two seasons. In order to save money while dealing with the fallout from Covid-19, the team replaced its dedicated radio call with a simulcast of Sportsnet’s television call. Fans noticed and they were not happy about it.

A dedicated radio call returned for the final two months of the 2021 season. Even that wasn’t enough for some fans, as the traditional two-man booth was replaced with Ben Wagner working solo.

The Athletic surveyed Blue Jays fans this week to gauge their feelings on the future of the franchise. While most of the questions had to do with what they want and expect to see on the field, Kaitlyn McGrath, the staff writer who put together the survey did ask what fans want from the radio call in the future.

When asked to grade the state of the television broadcast on a scale from 1 to 5, 57.5% of fans chose either a 4 or 5. When asked to rate the radio broadcast the same way, More than 68% graded the radio broadcast a 3 or lower.

It isn’t the broadcasters that fans objected to. McGrath points out that “nearly 29 percent of respondents gave the radio broadcast a 1 or 2 compared to just 12 percent who scored the TV broadcast that low.” That means the problem most fans have is with a broadcast that isn’t designed for radio being on the radio.

As for the future, 70% of those that responded to McGrath’s survey said they want to see the Blue Jays return to a two-man radio team. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.

It also may not be up to Rogers Media, who owns both Sportsnet and a controling interest in the team. In November, The Globe and Mail reported that Rogers is exploring selling of part of all of its interest in the Toronto Blue Jays.

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