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In Any Meritocracy, Maria Taylor Is No Rachel Nichols

“ ESPN’s haste to promote a younger Black host, over an accomplished White host, has again exposed a 21st-century disease in network TV and corporate America: Are optics all that matter anymore?”

Jay Mariotti




I first met Rachel Nichols when she was Rachel Alexander, an intern at the Chicago Sun-Times as I was beginning 17 years of column-writing there. Back in the days when staffers actually met for beers, she’d hang out with us. And it was apparent then that she was a reporter first, not in it for the glamour, while later proving at the Washington Post that she could dominate beat coverage with probing questions and instinctive savvy.

Not surprisingly, her journalism skills drove her to stardom as a front-facing basketball host and sideline reporter at ESPN, where she gained the respect of all — viewers, players, coaches, her network bosses and colleagues — with hard work and source-accrued knowledge. I appreciated she was a journalist at heart, caring much more about the news she was breaking than aesthetic appeal. Anyone who has watched sports television in recent decades knows news isn’t usually the top priority, especially inside network management offices, where a Fox Sports NFL-studio-show director once fired a loaded question at me during a lunchtime job interview.

 “Do you know any blondes you could recommend?’’ he asked.

“Try any sportscast on local L.A. news,’’ I shot back, annoyingly. 

Nichols is not a blonde, becoming a prominent NBA media face based on merit and chops. And she should have been left alone in her dual capacities, as host not only of the daily program “The Jump’’ but the signature “NBA Countdown’’ show that wraps around game telecasts on ESPN and ABC. But inside those management offices, at Disney last year, pressure was mounting from outside influences — politics best ignored by the strongest and smartest bosses — to replace Nichols with Maria Taylor.     

Nichols is White. Taylor is Black.

In any meritocracy, Taylor is no Rachel Nichols. She has shown a robust presence as a sideline interviewer in college football, and she is lively when hosting NBA shows, but if Taylor has broken major news in her time at ESPN, please refresh my memory. A studio-show host must have a rich command of the stories discussed by panelists, and such expertise isn’t gathered by simply showing up and oozing personality. James Brown has broken stories on CBS’ pre-game show, “The NFL Today.’’ Rece Davis has done the same on the ESPN staple, “College GameDay,’’ as has Karl Ravech on ESPN’s coverage of Major League Baseball. Nichols had attained a similar level of authority through years on the job. Such an asset shouldn’t be scrapped because exterior forces want to make a diversity statement. 

But this is how sports TV — hell, corporate America — operates in the social tumult of the 21st century. All that matters are optics, not the wealth of ability or experience, which is why ESPN is dealing with yet another explosive racial story that paints Disney as a bumbling operation incapable of handling sensitive in-house issues. Sunday, the New York Times reported full details of a videotaped phone conversation between Nichols and Adam Mendelsohn — an influential American political operative and a well-known advisor to LeBron James and his powerful agent, Rich Paul — after Nichols learned that Taylor would replace her as “NBA Countdown’’ host during the 2020 Finals. 

Speaking from her hotel room at Walt Disney World last July, Nichols wasn’t aware while seeking advice from Mendelsohn that a remote camera and microphone were picking up the entirety of their conversation. The camera had been installed as it was for other ESPN personalities performing on-air work from non-traditional pandemic locations. It should have been a private chat, but never underestimate the snake quotient at ESPN or inside media companies in general. Any number of employees had access to the dialogue. Someone recorded it, then leaked it — first to the rogue website Deadspin last year, then recently to Deadspin alumnus Kevin Draper, a reporter at the Times. In their discussion, Nichols made the mistake of turning Taylor’s ascent into a racial matter. 

Yet given ESPN’s troubles with diversity scenarios through the years, was Nichols wrong in objecting to being made a corporate scapegoat? I say she had every right to be upset — and let’s remember, as her attorneys surely have emphasized, that she assumed the conversation was private, not recorded by a creep who eventually made certain it was heard by everybody who mattered in Bristol, including ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro.

 “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols told Mendelsohn. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”

It wasn’t Nichols’ place to be spilling her troubles to Mendelsohn when the reason for the call was a professional request: She wanted an interview with James and Lakers teammate Anthony Davis, also represented by Paul. But she elaborated anyway. “I just want them to go somewhere else,’’ she said. “It’s in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing.”

The NBA, of course, is a predominantly Black league overseen by a White commissioner, Adam Silver, and lorded over by mostly White owners. When Nichols complained to Mendelsohn — who helped James coordinate increased Black voting initiatives before a 2020 U.S. Presidential election that ousted Donald Trump — and he responded regrettably on the tape, the ramifications are high-reaching and not good for anyone, including ESPN and the NBA.

“I don’t. I’m exhausted,’’ Mendelsohn told Nichols. “Between Me Too and Black Lives Matter, I got nothing left.’’

If I view his comment as disingenuous, imagine how James, Paul, Silver, Taylor and a whole lot of people feel today. Especially when the 2021 Finals are starting Tuesday — as Taylor’s contract is expiring. Before the pandemic, she reportedly rejected an ESPN offer of more than $5 million annually, wanting a deal in line with network provocateur Stephen A. Smith, who reportedly makes $8 million a year. But now in a post-pandemic salary chop mode, the network made a recent offer to Taylor that reportedly is half the amount of its previous bid, as rivals such as Fox sniff blood. Will she get up from her studio seat in the middle of the Finals and leave? And how will her colleagues on “NBA Countdown’’ respond when, according to the Times, Jalen Rose, Jay Williams and Adrian Wojnarowski were among those on a recent call with Taylor that turned “acrimonious’’ — and nearly prompted a storm-off-the-set revolt — before Pitaro pacified the anger by phone at a family outing? 

The racial tension at ESPN reflects that of a divided America. And it only has been exacerbated by this story. How will America look at Nichols when it sees her? And Taylor? Will people take sides? Might it actually help ratings for a Finals matchup, between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, that is among the least appealing in memory? Or will the drama turn off viewers?

Welcome to the sports media business, kids. If you wonder why so many ESPN people have glum looks, you’re seeing why. And if you wonder why I’m a smiling, healthy guy in my accompanying photo — after working at ESPN for eight years — you’re seeing why. I’ve told an important personal story before, and today, because it’s relevant within the Nichols-Taylor context, I’ll bring it back as I did last month and on other appropriate occasions.

In February of 2011, Howard Bryant was arrested by Massachusetts State Police. A talented senior writer and commentator at ESPN, he was accused of violently attacking his wife — charged with domestic assault and battery, assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest, according to a Boston Herald report. Witnesses told police that Bryant “grabbed his wife’s neck, pushed her into a parked vehicle and pinned her against it’’ outside a pizza shop. His wife didn’t press charges, saying she wasn’t abused, and ESPN president John Skipper — though a vocal champion of women’s rights — joined other ESPN executives in welcoming Bryant back to the fold. He continued to work in Bristol as a columnist and TV panelist for years.

Months earlier, while about to enter my ninth year as a regular panelist during the peak ratings period of ESPN’s “Around The Horn,’’ I was accused in a similar case. Bryant had told police that the network was “1,000 percent supportive’’ of him, which ended up being true, but the network was barely responsive to me. ESPN influenced the legal case and public perception by immediately separating from me and allowing fellow panelists to disparage me on air — before a charge had been filed or a lawyer had been hired. I prevailed in a civil case, and the entire matter was expunged years ago, but the network decision was final.

I am White. Bryant is Black.     

How do I know this was racial in nature? Because Skipper, during a future dinner session with me in Malibu, said “Around The Horn’’ desperately needed diversity among the panelists. I happened to agree — and in subsequent years, the show would be filled with diverse faces — but the transformation was conveniently done at my expense. I relate this story not out of bitterness. I want people to know how this business works.

It’s a twisted industry, sports media. I’m not even sure how much I trust Draper, the Times reporter. In 2016, I agreed to part amicably with the San Francisco Examiner when the ailing newspaper, owned by Canada interests, didn’t have the resources to fund my sports-coverage ambitions as an editor and columnist. We determined I would stay through the Super Bowl, hosted that year in the Bay Area, and I’d leave a few weeks after. I decided one day to air my feelings about a rival editor-in-chief, Audrey Cooper, who’d recklessly tweeted about my legal case when I arrived in town. I bit my lip for about a year, but having not been impressed by her leadership at the San Francisco Chronicle, I asserted that she had overly feminist leanings toward me and was driving her paper into the ground.

Still at Deadspin, Draper emailed me and assumed I’d been fired because of the tweet, which wasn’t true. He was a disciple of editor A.J. Daulerio, a drug-addled loon who was sued to smithereens by Hulk Hogan — the sex tape, remember? — and actually had contacted Examiner staffers when I was hired, offering money if they produced dirt on me. The publisher reacted properly, saying anyone who dealt with Daulerio would be fired. I warned Draper that if he lied about the timeline of my departure, I would “Hulk Hogan’’ him. He didn’t care, and next thing you knew, the Times was hiring him. Meanwhile, Cooper abruptly left the Chronicle and took an editor’s gig at New York public radio station WNYC, where she is being sued by a veteran healthcare reporter who says he was wrongfully fired and defamed.

His name: Fred Mogul, a 52-year-old White male.

In good conscience, I cannot encourage young people to enter this racket amid so many swirling, treacherous winds and so many shady people. I’m just thrilled to have had my successes and made my money starting when Rachel Alexander was hungry and diligent … and not when Rachel Nichols has to watch her back at all times, realizing no one has it.

BSM Writers

Mike Silver Has An NFL Backstage Pass

“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships.”

Derek Futterman




It was the 2010 NFL Draft and standout wide receiver Dez Bryant was eligible to be selected by a professional football team. As a journalist, Mike Silver has always looked to enterprise stories and wanted to be with Bryant when the moment he had been waiting for finally arrived.

Through a preexisting relationship with Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, he got in touch with Bryant and received permission to attend his draft celebration. Before being selected in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant revealed to him that then-Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland had asked him during the pre-draft process if his mother was a prostitute.

Once that information was published in Silver’s column, Ireland had to publicly apologize and was subsequently put under investigation by the team’s majority owner Stephen Ross.

“People were like, ‘How did you get that?,’ but I was very proud because really the way I got it was because Deion Sanders respected me enough based on things that had happened decades earlier and the way that I conducted myself that I was able to ultimately get to Dez,” Silver expressed. “That to me is a validation. I’ve nurtured relationships for years and years that have led to zero reporting and thought, ‘It’s okay; it’s just part of the process. It is what it is.’”

From the start, Silver was a believer in journalism and the power the profession had in divulging stories in pursuit of the truth. Born in San Francisco, Calif. and raised in Los Angeles, he would read The Los Angeles Times sports section for a half hour per day, observing the proclivities and vernacular of other writers. As a high school student, he co-authored a sports column in the Palisades Charter High School Tideline with current Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, gaining practical experience in journalism and cultivating professional relationships.

“I was the only Warriors fan in our school because I was born in San Francisco so he used to clown me for being a Warriors and 49ers fan like everyone else in our school – so I ended up having the last laugh,” Silver said. “By old standards, you’d say, ‘You can’t cover Steve Kerr. That’s your friend.’ I think in 2022 if I have to cover Steve Kerr, I’ll just be like, ‘You know what? Everyone knows we’re friends. I’m just going to be up front about it.’”

Silver attended the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communication and media studies. The school was not known for profound levels of success within its football and basketball programs, according to Silver; however, the student newspaper was a place to gain repetitions in covering sports and having finished work published, printed and distributed.

Towards the end of his time in college, Silver wrote stories that were published in The Los Angeles Times, the newspaper he grew up reading and from which he drew inspiration to become a journalist.

“We would tell the players we covered, ‘Hey, we’re trying to go to the pros too, and we’re not going to get jobs in this industry if we don’t write the truth,’” Silver said. “We were trying to break in as legitimate journalists and we definitely ruffled some feathers along the way.”

Once he graduated from school, Silver began his professional career writing for The Sacramento Union where he covered the San Francisco 49ers. Silver grew up as a football fan and was familiar with the team but always tried to find original, untold angles to differentiate his stories from others. Shortly thereafter, he transitioned to join The Santa Clara Press Democrat as a beat writer and used the time to further develop his writing and reporting skills. Five years later, he was in talks to land his dream job as a writer in Sports Illustrated, a prolific sports magazine focused on producing original content.

Sports Illustrated was released on Wednesdays and operated under the belief of trying to omit any stories that may have been reported in the days prior. The goal was to tell stories that were under the radar and would be impactful and memorable for its readers.

During a typical week, Silver would visit both the home and road teams in their own cities with the hopes of connecting with players and team personnel. After a game, he would go to the locker room, yet he would try to avoid doing one-on-one interviews since the content would likely be published elsewhere before the magazine was released.

Then, his writing process commenced and often went through the night, as Sports Illustrated had a 9 a.m. EST deadline the following morning. By taking the approach of enterprising stories, Silver quickly became one of the most venerated and trusted sportswriters in the country, composing over 70 cover stories for the publication.

With the advent of the internet though, journalism and communication was forever changed allowing for the free flow of information and ideas in a timely manner.

“Now I can arrogantly write to whatever length I want and every precious word of mine could be broadcast to the masses, but [back then] you better have it the exact length because it’s going on a page,” Silver said. “You’re maybe reading over a story 15 times or more to get it just right before the seven layers of editing kick in. You’re also leaving theoretically half of your great stuff on the cutting room table never to surface again or seldom.”

Nurturing a relationship built on trust and professionalism is hardly facile in nature, and it required enduring persistence and resolute determination to achieve for Silver. Through these relationships, he has been able to create both distinctive and original types of content. As innovations in technology engendered shifts in consumption patterns though, he decided to do what he originally perceived as being unthinkable and left Sports Illustrated after nearly 13 years.

“When I went there, I felt like we had 30 of the 35 best sportswriters in America and it was murderer’s row,” Silver said of Sports Illustrated. “I had a great, great experience there the whole time so I never thought I’d leave.”

After meeting with Yahoo Sports Executive Editor Dave Morgan and being given an offer with flexibility in the job and a promise of a lucrative salary, Silver knew it was simply too good to pass up. He opted to still write a column on Sundays to counterprogram Peter King at Sports Illustrated, who authored his own weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column.

Additionally, Silver agreed to write two additional branded columns per week in a quest to adapt to the digital age of media.

“I was trying to stay current and connect to an internet generation and keep up with the way that people were consuming their content at that time,” Silver said. “….We just had a spirit at Yahoo that we weren’t owned by anyone, we didn’t have a deal with the league and we were going to report the news in a very unfiltered way.”

An advent of the digital age in media has been the practice of writers appearing on television to present their information en masse, requiring changes in their delivery. Unlike in a written piece, reporting on television requires efficiently making key points and speaking in shorter phrases to allow the viewer to easily follow the discussion. Moreover, writers are sometimes presented with questions that may provoke deeper thought or analysis, and occasionally challenge their lines of reporting.

Silver never thought he would work in television, but as a part of his contract with NFL Media, he was writing columns and serving as an analyst on select NFL Network programming. In working on television on a league-owned entity, it forced him to step out of his comfort zone and pursue mastery of a new skill set.

“I never wanted to do TV voice and be cheesy and look like someone who was trained for the medium so my strategy was more to try to be myself on camera and see how that translated,” Silver articulated. “It seemed to work to some degree – and then obviously I picked up a lot of tricks of the trade and techniques and got better reps. Essentially, I think reporting is reporting [and] information is information.”

Moving into television, a medium with sports coverage that is, at its core, nonlinear due to the potential for breaking news and unexpected occurrences, changed the manner in which the information was presented and/or prioritized on the air. In a column, Silver’s goal was to find original angles and obtain anecdotes and quotes to implement into the storytelling. Now on television, sources were still used largely on the condition of deep background, meaning no individual or group could be attributed to the information in any way.

“With TV, there was an element of, ‘Hey man, I’m just trying to sound smart when I talk about you guys,’ which is code for, ‘I don’t have to use your name when I say this stuff, but when I’m weighing on why you just traded for Trent Richardson, help me understand what’s really going on with the Indianapolis Colts at this moment,’” Silver explained. “That’s just a random example. I liked [television] more than I thought I would.”

Silver’s contract was not renewed at NFL Network in 2021, providing a stark change in his lifestyle and leaving him looking for a job in the midst of trying economic times. Through a relationship he had with sports radio host Colin Cowherd, he was given the opportunity to join his upstart podcast platform The Volume as a host. Cowherd eagerly recruited Silver to the platform following a lunch in which the topic came up naturally in conversation about future endeavors.

“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships and I have a lot of them from players, coaches, owners and GMs to media people and friends in other industries, etc.,” he explained. “Colin Cowherd is someone I’ll never, ever, ever forget or stop being grateful to…. We were kind of talking some stuff out and he was like, ‘Why don’t we do a show on my network?,’ and we started talking about what that would be. We left lunch… and about 10 minutes later he called me and said, ‘Okay, here’s what I think,’ and kind of continued it.”

Today, Silver is hosting an interview-based program called Open Mike featuring guests from the world of professional football. Recent guests on the program have included Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones. Prior to joining The Volume, Silver had hosted a podcast with his daughter called Pass It Down, which ultimately ran for over 50 episodes and gave him experience working within the medium.

“I’m sitting there spending an hour with [Las Vegas] Raiders GM Dave Ziegler or [Buffalo Bills] linebacker Von Miller or whoever we have on,” Silver said. “You’re not only getting to know that person; you’re watching the way I connect with that person and usually have a body of work with that person, and there’s a comfort level there too.”

John Marvel was Silver’s direct boss at NFL Media and a friend he kept in touch with for many years. Through various correspondences and the dynamic media landscape, they decided to start their own media venture called Backstage Media. The company has a first-look deal with Meadowlark Media – a company co-founded by John Skipper, who also serves as its chief executive officer. Skipper was formerly the president of ESPN and someone Silver wished he had worked for earlier in his career.

“I did not know John Skipper before I left NFL Network,” he said. “I didn’t particularly have a dream to [ever] work at ESPN. We’ve had conversations over the years – ESPN and I – and it never seemed like the perfect fit for me. Now that I know John Skipper, it’s like ‘I would have worked for that guy any time.’ He’s fantastic, [and] I’m just so pumped to be in business with him.”

The company, which focuses on producing documentaries and other unscripted programming through the intersection of sports, music and entertainment, has various projects in development. The idea was derived out of both of their penchants for storytelling and an attempt to utilize new platforms built for engagement within the modern-day media marketplace.

“We’re hoping that documentaries, docuseries [and] episodic podcasts – mostly unscripted – …will be kind of our wheelhouse,” Silver said. “….There’s about four big things that are [hopefully] close to being announced. One’s football; one’s boxing; one is basketball; and one is kind of a blend of some things. I feel like we have a pretty diverse set of interests.”

Joining The San Francisco Chronicle as a football reporter has been indicative of a full-circle moment for Silver, as he is once again around the San Francisco 49ers and writing columns about the team and other sports around the Bay Area at large. Today, he is working with Scott Ostler and Ann Kllion, and directly with Eric Branch on the outlet’s 49ers coverage. Through it all, he seeks to continue gaining access to places that the ordinary person would only be able to dream about in order to tell compelling and informative stories, no matter how they may be delivered or on what platform(s) to which it may be distributed.

“I’m old school in a lot of my mentality in terms of journalism and storytelling and all of that,” Silver said. “I think those things don’t go away. I think it’s journalism first; relationship first; access first; storytelling first; and you figure out the rest.”

As for the future of the profession which has ostensibly become less defined because of the evolution of social media and communication, relationships and storytelling have truly become the differentiators. Silver aims to continue practicing what has allowed him to gain exclusive scoops in the industry and tell stories that would otherwise, perhaps, fly under the radar, but do so in a way that does not jeopardize his sources.

“I’m going to try to develop relationships and cultivate relationships where people trust me and give me a sense of what’s going on,” he said. “I’m going to try to get into places that you, as the consumer, couldn’t otherwise go and take you there, and I’m going to err on the side of the relationship as opposed to finding out one thing that could cause a splash that day on Twitter.”

Some athletes are hosting podcasts or writing columns to directly communicate with their fans, including Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green on The Volume, intensifying the quest for engagement and attraction. Yet Silver advises journalists looking to break into the industry not to get distracted in meeting certain metrics, instead adhering to best practices and reporting truthful information without ambiguity.

“Just don’t get undone by the noise,” Silver said. “Put your head down; hyperfocus; grind; tell good stories; do journalism and hopefully over the course of time, that will stand out. I’d still like to believe that.”

Covering professional sports, specifically football, generates a large amount of potential storylines on which journalists can report – and today, digital platforms give them the ability to cover them in different ways. While some scoops may requit a large article, others may be able to be told in 280 characters or less, such as a trade rumor or injury. The amount of information Silver and his colleagues uncovered working for a print publication and then had to omit because of space limitations underscores a key journalistic principle of efficient and truthful storytelling. In today’s media landscape, he hopes to be able to do that regardless of its means of dissemination.

“If you went back and just looked at our normal… feature or story off a game [and] the level we reported on a Wednesday and translated that to a Twitter generation, people would lose their minds about how much we found out and how much we reported with on-the-record quotes usually, and they’d be like, ‘He said what!?,” Silver said. “That’s all we knew and that’s [how] we did it…. I don’t think people understand how much the threshold has changed. It’s all good. The most important things hopefully haven’t changed.”

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BSM Writers

Video Simulcasts Are Now A Must Have For Sports Radio

All of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way. 

Avatar photo




Video simulcasts of sports talk radio and podcasts have gone up extraordinarily in quality as of late. The craft started as a novelty that very few participated in. ESPN and YES Network dominated the genre with their simulcasts of Mike and Mike in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog respectively. Slowly but surely other sports networks and RSN’s picked up the genre over time and it has now become a major component within sports coverage in the streaming world.

The most popular and prominent shows in the medium right now include The Dan Patrick Show, The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, The Pat McAfee Show, and The Rich Eisen Show. These four shows in particular have done an excellent job of independently producing and building out their video content to look visually appealing while also engage with the audience through graphics, pictures, stats on screen. In McAfee’s case, his company even entered into a rights agreement with the NFL for highlights.

Finding their shows can be difficult at times. Eisen’s show has moved from television to Peacock and to Roku Channel all within the span of a couple years. When LeBatard’s shipping container first began their live video voyage they didn’t have a consistent schedule. Patrick’s show has also leapt between RSNs, national networks, YouTube and its current home on Peacock. But all of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way. 

The video simulcasts have become so lucrative for these shows that they’ve found sponsors to advertise against what they’re offering and they ensure that they pay attention to the look of the show. Commercials that feel like television play during Patrick and Eisen’s shows. Logos are displayed during LeBatard’s broadcast and NFL Films vignettes that you would find on NFL Network air in the middle of McAfee’s broadcast.

McAfee’s show recently moved into a new studio in Indianapolis specifically built for them by FanDuel and just yesterday LeBatard announced they would be moving into their own state of the art studio in Miami that will help expand their creativity. Patrick’s show doesn’t even have guests call into their show anymore – most join via Zoom. Eisen’s guests are more often than not in studio. All of these shows also upload highlights relatively quickly to YouTube. They’re still audio-first but video is no longer secondary. It is 1A in terms of importance.

As much as these simulcasts feel close to real TV, there are still some hijinks that fans have to get used to that aren’t the same as a regular TV broadcast. During LeBatard’s broadcast, a rolling loop of their own self produced album plays during breaks. While the songs are hilarious in nature, if you’re a weekly viewer of their simulcast it might get tiresome to hear every time there is a break.

A loop of some of the show’s greatest moments and some of the side projects Meadowlark Media produces might be more engaging and help reduce drop off rate. McAfee’s show also struggles with white balancing their cameras almost every telecast. At times in the middle of a conversation during the show, discoloration occurs before changing back to normal skin tones.

Patrick’s show has used the same set of graphics since it began simulcasting on NBC’s linear sports network years ago which could be a turnoff for younger viewers of the internet era who always want change in order to grab their attention. Eisen’s show has awkward interruptions happen in the middle of conversations because commercial breaks are different in length on terrestrial radio vs. streaming.

At the end of the day though, these shows are the epitome of what it means to have grit and guts to achieve your American dream. Although their productions are subsidized and/or licensed by big media platforms and sports books, their social media presence and the actual production of these shows was built on their own. During the first couple of weeks after LeBatard’s show left ESPN, the former columnist could often be heard teasing listeners that they were working on building a video enterprise and how difficult it was.

It’s hard to stand on your own in sports talk media without the backing of superpowers like ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and Turner who have been producing live broadcasts for decades. But these shows have found a way to do so in a new world that is tailored towards doing everything on your own. 

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BSM Writers

5 Ideas For December Sales Success

How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea?

Jeff Caves




Now is the time to put your foot on the gas for a great start to 2023-not waiting til January. With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day all falling on weekends, you can’t count on who will be at work the Friday or Monday around those holidays in December.

So, looking forward from here, you only have 15 or so days that you can count on your clients and prospects to be at work before the end of 2022. And, if they are at work, consider their motivation or lack of it before approaching them. But here are five ways to attack December.

Cutting a year-end deal

Make sure you go back from the potential start date of the schedule and allow for production, proposal, and acceptance. That usually means you need a week from when you present a year-end idea to when the schedule starts. So, aim to have all appointments booked by 12/9, so you can sell 2-week packages that begin Monday, 12/19. That will give you a sense of urgency and gives you five solid business days to sell your ass off starting Monday.

5-day sale

Make all your pricing and payment terms expire by Friday, 12/9. You can always extend if need be once they give a partial commitment. You want anybody involved in the decision to sign off and let you cut this deal! The idea here is to create urgency and work ahead.

Beat the bushes

Do you want to wake up on 1/2/23 with an empty pipeline? How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea? Don’t try to qualify these prospects over the phone. Do it in January when both of you are fresh but get that commitment NOW. Look for your new client avatar.

Be gracious

From now til the end of the year is also an excellent time to meet with your sales assistant, traffic manager, production person, or anybody who helps you at the station. Sit down with them face to face and see what you can do better to make their job easier. Give them some ideas on how they can help you as well. Mend some fences or make new friends; the reason tis the season. Surprise them with a Cheetos popcorn tin for less than $10. Please do it. You will be surprised by what you hear because this is a popular time of year for layoffs, transfers, and people taking new jobs.

Practice a new pitch

December is also a great time to record yourself doing a webinar and start planning to let your content do the talking. Wouldn’t it be nice if your 10-minute talk on how to make live reads work, how to buy radio, or why your audience buys the most widgets produced some warm leads? Practice and get going!

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Barrett Media Writers

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