For the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sports media industry came together at the 2022 Barrett Sports Media Summit, an opportunity not only to learn about the evolution of the industry, but also to catch up with former colleagues and make valuable connections for the future.
The two-day event welcomed executives such as ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro and Meadowlark Media CEO John Skipper; program directors including 670 The Score/105.7 The Fan’s Mitch Rosen and 98.7 ESPN New York’s Ryan Hurley; and on-air hosts, among them Mike Francesa and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, WFAN’s Craig Carton, and 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Fred Toucher.
The 2022 BSM Summit was the topic of discussion Thursday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich in Boston. Toucher was joined by his colleague and afternoon drive co-host Mike Felger on the “Kings of Content” panel presented by Beasley Media Group at the event and, upon returning to Boston, spoke about his experience in New York City both inside and outside of the Anne Bernstein Theater.
“Me and Felger were up there for an hour, but the thing is Felger is a real businessman,” said Toucher. “Felger flew in, did his thing [at the BSM Summit], then drove over to the ESPN Studios and did a show and flew home.”
Felger and his co-host Tony Massarotti were honored as the recipients of the first-ever Mike & the Mad Dog Award Thursday as the best local sports radio show in the United States. Additionally, 98.5 The Sports Hub Program Director Rick Radzik won the 2022 Mark Chernoff Award as sports radio’s top programmer Wednesday, for which Toucher was on-hand to witness.
“It went well,” said Toucher. “Felger’s ratings are better so every time they put up the ratings, Felger seemed vastly superior to me.”
Toucher and his wife flew in for the event the night before and kicked off their time in New York City going out to dinner with friends. They also made the time to check out some of the destinations around Times Square, including the M&M’s Store and MLB New York City Flagship Retail Store. Being that the BSM Summit was within the Broadway Theatre District, Toucher noticed that many of the classic plays are still in theatres.
“They have the same plays: Chicago and The Book of Mormon; those are all still playing out there,” said Toucher. “It’s exhausting, though, walking around there trying to find out where you are.”
While specifically discussing the BSM Summit, Toucher called the Anne Bernstein Theater a “perfect” venue for the event and was impressed by the list of names assembled for sports media’s premier conference.
“I’m not positive who was there when I was there,” said Toucher. “I talked to [SVP/Market Manager for Audacy Boston] Mike Thomas for a while.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
Pat McAfee: ‘No One Will Disrespect Jim Rome On My Show’
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle.”
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.”