It’s not that uncommon for a large group of people to gather in the backyard of a Long Island home in suburban New York. Those gatherings could be for any number of reasons like a birthday party, a just-like-this thrown together barbeque for family and friends, or even just to have folks come over to watch a sporting event if that said backyard was equipped with a bar and a television.
But what about a national sports radio show doing a remote from a backyard bar in someone’s home?
Well, that, in a nutshell, is what The D.A. Show on CBS Sports Radio is all about weekday mornings from 6 to 10 eastern time.
“We just held that “Bob’s Bar” show two weeks ago and strategically that was about connecting with an audience that felt isolated over the last two and a half years,” said host Damon Amendolara.
Bob’s Bar is the West Babylon, New York childhood home of D.A. Show producer/co-host/instigator Shaun Morash whose parents Bob and Nancy welcomed the show’s staff to their home for the second straight year. But, for this year for the first time, there was also some of the show’s most passionate listeners onto the premises for a morning, afternoon, and, believe it or not, evening full of fun watching the New York Rangers playoff game on the television screen at Bob’s Bar.
The local and national sports radio landscape is filled with remote broadcasts from sporting events and some in areas filled with fans.
But not like this one.
“We’ll do a show from one of our parents’ houses and invite an audience of just the most hardcore listeners,” said Amendolara. “If they want to make the drive, come and we’ll spend all day with you. I want them to feel like they’re one with all of us and if that means showing up at Mraz’s childhood home to have a burger and a few beers and hang out with us then that’s a really deep connection that I care tremendously about.”
The D.A. Show is one of only two remaining full-time shows from day one of CBS Sports Radio. When the network launched on January 2nd, 2012, Amendolara guided his listeners through the overnights and eventually the show “graduated” to early evenings, late mornings and then eventually to where it is now in morning drive.
Why has the show been so successful?
Because it’s unlike any other sports talk show in the industry because the host and the staff don’t really take themselves too seriously.
Sports is supposed to be fun and that’s what The D.A. Show is all about.
“I’m really happy with that part of it,” said Amendolara. “The sports media landscape and specifically sports talk is kind of littered with debate and arguing, winning arguments and I’ve never, ever related to that.”
Make no mistake about it… The D.A. Show covers all of the bases when it comes to national sports news and even at times sports items that pertain to the New York based crew. But the discussion is always organic and never has any manufactured animosity. It’s a show that truly is all about appealing to an audience of sports fans who want to be entertained but also to hear voices that they can relate to.
“I never followed sports so I could win an argument,” said Amendolara. “I feel like in today’s day and age where the media, both sports and otherwise, are all lecturing or arguing or pointing fingers at the other side or people that disagree that an audience really doesn’t necessarily always want that…that there’s an exhaustion to that. So, the fact that we have a lot of fun on a morning-to-morning basis is really important to me and it’s really important for my crew to wake up and want to come to work.”
Let’s talk about that crew.
Shaun “Mraz” Morash has been The D.A. Show producer/sidekick from day one on the overnights and he has blossomed into one of the most intriguing personalities in sports talk radio. As Amendolara was getting set to move his show from local radio in Boston to a national stage based in New York, he needed to find a producer. One of the candidates was Morash, already an employee of the company working part-time for WFAN Radio in New York.
“We started out as complete strangers,” said Amendolara. “The bosses asked me to interview him and there was something about him. I said boy this guy is interesting. He’s just an interesting guy to talk to. Look where that’s gone nearly a decade later. I really believe that Mraz is one of the most interesting personalities in sports radio. He just is all emotion. He’s completely transparent, honest to a fault, flawed as well, sometimes completely relatable and sometimes completely insane but he’s always compelling. It’s been a huge part of the show.”
I’m honored to have been part of that first crew overnights as the update anchor. Kenny Brock was the board operator/technical magician but he departed before the show moved to the evenings.
It was, without question, some of the best times that I’ve ever had in this business.
Now in morning drive, Amendolara and Morash are joined by social media and digital guru Andrew Caplan, producer Pete Bellotti, and update anchor Andrew Bogusch.
“I feel really lucky that we have the guys that we do on the show,” said Amendolara.
“I think Andrew Bogusch is the best update guy doing this in the country. He’s got a really clever wit and he gets the sense of humor that I go for, a little off-beat.”
“Pete ‘The Body’ is so good on the board. He’s the best guy in terms of drops in the country.”
“Andrew Caplan is the best digital guy in the country doing our stream and doing our social clips.”
“I’ve just been blessed with a lot of really talented people. You need everybody. Great shows…you need more than one voice and more than one opinion and more than one person with the control over everything and I’m really lucky that I have this incredibly talented crew.”
Amendolara, a New York native, has enjoyed a sports talk radio journey that has taken him to Fort Meyers and Miami in Florida, Kansas City, Boston and now home to New York for his national show. Sometimes, a national radio show can have a bit of a bias towards the city it originates from, but not The D.A. Show. Sure, Morash cries about his beloved Yankees, Giants, and Rangers and that can be very entertaining, but the show is designed to appeal to sports fans in all parts of the country.
Having worked in several markets, Amendolara knew exactly what he wanted this show to be all about.
“We do a show from New York and I’m from New York but I desperately want this show to be for everyone and I think that comes from dotting the map in my career,” said Amendolara. “I care that somebody in Omaha or somebody in Little Rock or somebody in Columbus listens and gets the show as well. I’ve always felt like that has to be a priority that you don’t alienate anybody by talking about just the things you want to talk about. You care that they want to listen because they relate to it.”
Not only have the listeners related to the show but a good chunk of them have been able to follow D.A. and the crew through all of the moves through the dayparts. Thanks to technology, including podcasts, the Audacy app and YouTube, fans can follow the show even if they can’t listen live. That has allowed the show to grow into the masterpiece that it is today.
“That’s been really cool and that can’t happen without technology today,” said Amendolara. My career can’t be tracked by listeners in all of those dayparts or listeners that used to listen to me in Kansas City or Boston or Miami if we don’t have modern technology where you can stream the show every day on the website or you can listen to the podcasts.”
There’s a part of sports that we all take seriously because we want our teams to win, but there’s also a lighter side of sports and considering the world we live in now, having a platform like The D.A. Show is something that’s very important to the sports world.
“Sports has become so super important to people’s lives,” said Amendolara. “We heard this so much during the pandemic…normalcy…return to normalcy. You see with television ratings going up, interest in all of these sports skyrocketing…people need sports more than ever and that’s why I want to provide a space for people to really joyously love sports and have fun.”
The D.A. Show is truly a show for the people because it’s a place where fans can go to think, for information, a little comedy and to feel like they are really part of the show. Damon Amendolara and his staff are committed to making sure that’s on the menu every day.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.