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Phil Inzinga Didn’t Think Any Of This Would Work

“I clearly have to know who’s playing who on what day, but as far as the meat and potatoes and intricacies of sports, that’s what the fellas do.”

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Phil Inzinga didn’t think it would work, but he really needed it to. The idea of hosting a sports radio show seemed crazy, maybe even borderline insane, but there was no way he could turn down the opportunity. Inzinga wasn’t a sports radio listener, nor did he have an extensive knowledge about sports. To be frank, he was limited in both of those areas when Larry Bastida, former GM of WWLS The Sports Animal in Oklahoma City, approached him about being a co-host in morning drive. 

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Inzinga’s radio credentials weren’t a question, he had been on the air in multiple markets across the country. But all of those stops were doing either country, contemporary hits or rock radio. Not a single minute of his career had been spent doing sports. 

“To me, at the time, sports radio wasn’t good or bad, I was kind of indifferent to it,” said Inzinga. “But did I ever think in a million years I would be working in sports radio? The answer is no.”

Aside from his talent behind the mic, one thing that was very attractive to the Sports Animal was the special chemistry Inzinga had with his co-host Ron Benton, who goes by Spinozi on the radio. The duo had the type of chemistry each show strives for. Within minutes of listening to their show on Bob FM, a classic rock station, you knew their connection was different. Not only did they click, but they actually got along. Now that The Sports Animal had an opening in its morning drive slot, the station wanted a piece of it. 

The initial plan was simple. Spinozi was brought over first to co-host with Carey Murdock and Curtis Fitzpatrick, to make sure the trio clicked. 

“All the while, every morning, Curtis would come over and say, you know you’re next,” Inzinga said. “You’re coming with Spinozi. I said, Curtis, that’s a horrible idea.”

Unlike Inzinga, Spinozi had a background in sports radio, during his time in Baltimore. Talking sports was second nature to him. 

“Once they brought Spinozi over I think the plan had always been to bring me with him but they wanted to make sure the chemistry was right between those three guys first,” Inzinga said. “I think they knew I was going to be fine, as far as chemistry and radio stuff.”

Though he was unsure on how he was going to adapt to talking sports every morning, Inzinga knew the path to success was to continue to be who he is and not try to be the sports guy he wasn’t. It was a new format, but his goal was to be the same funny, entertaining host he had always been. 

“We kind of had a deal where we said, ok, we’ll give this a try, because I really didn’t think it would work,” Inzinga said. “We’re going to give it a try but we’re not going to change who we are or try to fill the roles of the previous two members of the show. We were going to do what we do on a sports radio show.”

Now, the challenging part was about to begin. Sure, Inzinga and Spinozi had an undeniably great chemistry, but they had to figure out how to mesh and connect with Murdock and Fitzpatrick on a similar level. Finding chemistry with two hosts can be tough enough, but a four-man show, where half of the hosts have limited sports radio experience? This was a huge gamble. 

“The funny thing is, I’d say within 25 minutes of the first show, we just knew it was going to work,” Inzinga said. “We just knew it. Everybody got along and that’s really rare.”

There were two major factors that contributed to the seamless transition of Inzinga and Spinozi joining The Morning Animals. One, was the fact that everyone involved with the show was all-in on making it work. Nobody disagreed with bringing on two guys that were doing classic rock radio, nor did anyone disagree with retaining Murdock and Fitzpatrick. It was truly a team effort to make this bold decision work.

The Morning Animals on Twitter: ".@Savastanos thanks to @billhaisten we got  to enjoy some of your awesome Chicago style deep dish pizza!  http://t.co/BFFlv5OOvr"

“But sometimes that’s not enough,” Inzinga said. “We got very lucky with the chemistry and it was one of those things where we all hit it off right away. The cool thing about our show is we’ll fight and argue on the air but it’s never personal. It’s always about the show and we’ve always been able to work things out. But chemistry is the biggest part of that show.”

The second biggest factor, and the most important one, is the fact that each host knows his role and never has a big enough ego to disrupt the flow of the show. As rare as that is, it’s what makes The Morning Animals as successful as it is. Inzinga plays that role perfectly. He may not have the extensive sports knowledge Murdock or Fitzpatrick has, but he also doesn’t pretend that he does. His role is to be funny and bring the entertainment aspect to the show, which he does perfectly. He never thought in a million years he’d do sports radio, but now, you can’t have The Morning Animals without Inzinga. 

“Everybody knows their role on our show and that’s incredibly important,” Inzinga said. “ It’s very established characters, I use the term character, they’re not really characters, it’s us being ourselves, but the personalities are very defined. You know which guys are talking. There’s no ego involved, literally, our thought is we just want the show to sound great, because if that happens, then we all will be good.”

Inzinga has been a part of The Morning Animals since 2013 and has seen his show near the top of the BSM Top 20 for best morning show multiple times. He doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon, but he also doesn’t ever envision himself turning into a hot-take sports guy. There’s really no need to when he’s surrounded by the co-hosts he currently has. 

“I’ve got three guys, three alpha males, who are incredibly knowledgeable about sports,” Inzinga said. “That’s why it’s so great for me because I don’t have to be as knowledgeable as they are. I clearly have to know who’s playing who on what day, but as far as the meat and potatoes and intricacies of sports, that’s what the fellas do. What I do is kind of the showbiz aspect to it to make sure we transition in and out of breaks cleanly. There’s comedic elements to most of what we do. We want to make a show where you may not be the most sports savvy person, but you can certainly tune in and understand what we’re talking about.”

What listeners may not know is Inzinga is way more involved with the show than just being the funny co-host who talks about whether it’s ok to eat rotisserie chicken in the car. Essentially, he’s the maestro of the show, doubling as the executive producer. It seems to be a trend in radio that one of the co-hosts is also the producer and running the board. It works, yes, but it’s a cost-cutting measure that many hosts aren’t necessarily a fan of. Inzinga enjoys being the executive producer and co-host of his show, but doesn’t necessarily want every show to move in that direction. 

“We have a really lucky situation with four co-hosts and a producer on top of me producing,” Inzinga said. “When I’m driving the show I have a guy to cut up audio while I’m on the air. That’s our guy Q-tip. We love him and we’ve gotten lucky two times in a row with producers, before him we had Michael Doughty, who’s just amazing. Do I think it’s in the future, yeah, it probably is. The more they can cut costs the happier corporate radio is. Once you lose something you barely get it back. Yeah I think it unfortunately might be the future, and it’s something you can definitely do, but I don’t like it. I like shows that sound big and fun and funny.”

I couldn’t agree more with Inzinga. Make me laugh, be relatable and don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s like these guys have that painted on a wall in the studio, because they seem to achieve those three things every show. That’s what makes them such an easily likeable show. Also, it’s easy to like a show when you can tell all of the hosts like each other. 

“Spinozi, I love that he’s been living a beer commercial since I’ve known him,” laughed Inzinga. “He’s literally living the life and that’s not an exaggeration. He’s living the life of a 90’s beer commercial and it hasn’t stopped.

The Morning Animals bring sports and levity to listeners during the work  commute | Community & Lifestyle | Oklahoma City | Oklahoma Gazette
Courtesy: Oklahoma Gazette

“I love Carey’s vinyl collecting,” continued Inzinga. “I love all the stuff he does that’s not sports related. He’s such a quirky guy and I love the quirks. He’s a single guy with a disposable income like you would not believe. He’s living a very fun life.”

“Curtis keeps the show honest and professional,” added Spinozi. “He’s like an encyclopedia or a walking, talking sports almanac. And Curtis can be surprisingly funny when he wants to be.”

BSM Writers

Keeping Premier League Games Shouldn’t Be A Hard Call For NBC

“Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans.”

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NBC Sports is facing some tough, costly decisions that will define its sports brand for the rest of this decade.  A chance to connect with viewers in a changing climate and grow Peacock’s audience as well.  However, making the right choice is paramount to not losing to apps like Paramount+ (pun intended).

NBC is currently in the business of negotiating to continue airing the Premier League as their current deal ends after this 2021-2022 season.  NASCAR is contracted to NBC (and FOX) through the 2024 season.

NBC’s tentpole sports are the NFL and the Olympics.  

Negotiations for the EPL are expected to go down to the wire. Rather than re-up with NBC, the league is meeting with other networks to drive up the price. NBC has to then make a decision if the rights go north of $2 billion.

Should NBC spend that much on a sport that is not played in the United States? It’s not my money, but that sport continues to grow in the US.

If NBC re-ups with the Premier League, will that leave any coins in the cupboard to re-up with NASCAR? Comcast CEO Brian Roberts hinted that there might be some penny pinching as the prices continue to soar. This may have been one of the reasons that NBC did not fight to keep the National Hockey League, whose rights will be with Disney and WarnerMedia through ESPN and TNT, respectively.

“These are really hard calls,” Roberts said. “You don’t always want to prevail, and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong, but I think the sustainability of sports is a critical part of what our company does well.”

Roberts was speaking virtually at the recent Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference. He told the audience that between NBC and European network Sky, that Comcast has allocated approximately $20 billion towards these sports properties.

Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh spoke virtually at the Bank of America Securities 2021 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference and echoed that the company is in a good position to make some strong choices in the sports realm. 

“The bar is really high for us to pursue outright acquisitions of any material size,” Cavanagh added. “We got a great hand to play with what we have.”

While the European investments involve a partnership with American rival Viacom, the US market seems to have apparent limits.

Last Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway was seen by around 2.19 million people. It was the most-watched motorsports event of the weekend. That same week eight different Premier League matches saw over 1 million viewers. More than half of those matches were on subscription-based Peacock. 

Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans. A game of typical soccer fan is used to a sport that is less than two hours long. The investment in a team is one or two games a week. 

My connection to the Premier League began before the pandemic.  When I cut the cord in late 2017, I purchase Apple TV.  Setting it up, it asks you to name your favorite teams.  After clicking on the Syracuse Orange and the New Jersey Devils, I recalled that my wife has family based in London, England.  They are season ticket holders for Arsenal, and that family redefined the word “die-hard” fans.

I’ve long been a believer that sports allegiances are best when handed down by family. I love hearing stories of people loving the New York Giants because their parents liked them, and they pass it down to their children.

I’ve successfully given my allegiance to the Devils to my young daughters. 

By telling Apple TV that I liked Arsenal, I get alerts from three different apps when the “Gunners” are playing. The $4.99 is totally worth it to see Arsenal.

Whenever I told this story, I was amazed to see how many other American sports fans had a Premier League team. Students of mine at Seton Hall University rooted for Tottenham Hotspurs, while an old colleague cheers on Chelsea.

Global Is Cool': The Growing Appeal of Premier League Soccer in America
Courtesy: Morning Consult

This is not meant to say that NBC should sign the EPL on my account. The key for any US-based soccer fan is that between Bundesliga, Serie A, and other leagues, there will be no shortage of soccer available on both linear television and streaming services.

Besides, Dani Rojas did say that “Football is life.”  NBC, originator of the Ted Lasso character, should make keeping its Premier League US connection a priority.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 45

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Today, Demetri is joined by Tyler McComas and Russ Heltman. Tyler pops on to talk about the big start to the college football season on TV. Russ talks about Barstool’s upfront presentation and how the business community may not see any problems in working with the brand. Plus, Demetri is optimistic about FOX Sports Radio’s new morning show.

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BSM Writers

6 Ad Categories Hotter Than Gambling For Sports Radio

“Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life.”

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For years sports radio stations pushed sports gambling advertisers to early Saturday and Sunday morning. The 1-800 ads, shouting, and false claims were seedy, and some stations wouldn’t even accept the business at 5 am on Sunday.

Now, with all but ten states ready to go all in on sports gambling, sports radio stations can’t get enough of that green. Demetri Ravanos wrote about the money cannon that sports gambling has become for stations. Well, what if you are in one of those ten states where it isn’t likely to ever be legal like California or Texas? Where is your pot of gold?

A Pot of Gold Articles - Analyzing Metals
Courtesy: iStockphoto

Or, let’s face it, the more gambling ads you run, the more risk you take on that the ads will not all work as you cannibalize the audience and chase other listeners away who ARE NOT online gambling service users and never will be. So, what about you? Where is your pot of gold?

Well, let’s go Digging for Gold. 

The RAB produces the MRI-Simmons Gold Digger PROSPECTING REPORT for several radio formats. In it, they index sports radio listeners’ habits against an average of 18+ Adult. The Gold Digger report looks at areas where the index is higher than the norm – meaning the sports radio audience is more likely to use the product or service than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. The report, generated in 2020, indicates that sports radio listeners are 106% more likely to have used an online gambling site in the last thirty days. That’s impressive because the report only lists 32 activities or purchases a sports radio listener indexes higher than an average adult. I looked at those 32 higher indexes, and I think we can start looking for some gold.

Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life. The gambling companies who commit significant money to get results will continue advertising and chase the others away. So, the future of sports radio needs to include other cash cows.

If it is evident to online sports gambling services that sports radio stations are a must-buy, who else should feel that way?  I looked at the Top 32 and eliminated the media companies. ESPN, MLB/NHL/NFL networks, and others aren’t spending cash on sports radio stations they don’t own in general. But Joseph A Bank clothing, Fidelity, and Hotwire should! Here’s your PICK-6 list I pulled together that’s hotter than sports gambling:

  • Sportscard collectors, Dapper Labs, Open Sea- read about Sports NFT $.
  • Online brokerage firms-Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, Webull, TD Ameritrade
  • Golf courses, resorts, equipment, etc.- we play golf at home and vacation
  • Hotwire.com, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Carnival Corporation, and Priceline.com- we’ve used Hotwire in the last year.
  • FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle-we wired or overnighted $ 
  • Jos. A. Bank, shein.com, macys.com, nordstroms.com- we went to Jos. A. Bank in last three months

The sports card/NFT market is 32% hotter than the sports betting market for sports radio listeners. Everything on the PICK-6 is at least 100% more likely to purchase than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. All listed are at or above indexing strength compared to sports betting. The individual companies I added are industry leaders. Bet on it! Email me for details. 

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