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Andrew Patterson Jumped At Chance To Join Jomboy Media

“I think the idea of taking the communities we have and bringing them to their content [creates] a mutually-beneficial relationship,” Patterson said.

Derek Futterman

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Until June 2022, Jomboy Media operated without a chief executive officer, but as time went on, it was determined that the company needed to add someone to help lead planning, operations, strategy and development across multiple media platforms. Andrew Patterson was selected to help lead Jomboy Media into the future and now three months into the job, he recognizes the power of the company in its ability to innovate within the world of sports media.

Jomboy Media is a digital sports media brand that has experienced exponential growth over the last several years. The company was started by Jimmy O’Brien and his friend Jake Storiale, and it initially became widely known due to video breakdowns O’Brien created of prominent moments in baseball, such as ejections and evidence of sign-stealing following initial reports of the Houston Astros illicitly engaging in the practice during the organization’s 2017 championship season.

First centered around the Talkin’ Yanks podcast started by avid New York Yankees fans O’Brien and Storiale in 2017, Jomboy Media eventually reached a point where it was beginning to grow so quickly that it required a larger time commitment. That growth has hardly slowed with the brand attaining $5 million in a recent funding round led by Connect Ventures featuring athletes such as Dwayne Wade, C.C. Sabathia and Karl-Anthony Towns, along with other renowned celebrities.

Major League Baseball is the oldest professional sports league in the world and while it has been criticized for being behind the curve in various facets of its game ranging from pace of play to the promotion of its athletes, it was at the forefront of the proliferation in social media usage at the start of the last decade. Patterson was hired by MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), the league’s interactive division, as the senior director of new media.

In fact, he was the first employee hired with a focus on social media altogether. Now working as a manager for the first time in his professional career, Patterson built the new media division with the addition of 85 employees and enlarged the league’s social media following by over 4300%.

“I think it’s better to be lucky than to be smart, but even better to be smart not knowing you’re getting lucky,” Patterson said. “It was just the right timing and the right place there. I found myself at MLBAM and that kind of started my career in sports at this point.”

Following a stint of over eight years with MLBAM, Patterson joined Greenfly, a digital media asset management and distribution platform co-founded by former Major League Baseball all-star outfielder Shawn Green. Patterson initially served as its vice president of partnerships and strategy before being promoted to senior vice president and, eventually, chief strategy officer.

Coinciding with Patterson’s time at Greenfly was the rapid evolution of Jomboy Media from an independent start-up cultivated out of a passion for baseball and love for the Yankees to a brand at the forefront of the growing digital sector in sports media. As a Yankees fan himself, Patterson noticed what O’Brien was building and once it was announced that the company was looking to hire its first CEO, was excited to explore the opportunity.

“There was a tangential kind of familitary there and then being a Yankees fan, you see [the] content,” Patterson said. “It was one of those interesting things where there’s a lot more under the hood when you start to get into it.”

An important value ingrained within the culture of Jomboy Media is its people-first mentality, and it is one of the reasons the brand has attracted fans of baseball and sports as a whole to its various pieces of multiplatform content, such as podcasts, tournaments and YouTube breakdown videos. It is a facet of the company that impressed Patterson during the interview process and has given him further motivation to help the brand soar to new heights as one of its newest members.

“As you kind of start to unpack understanding a little bit more about me [and] quite frankly understanding about the business and them and where they’re going and where they’re headed and how they think – there’s kind of an alignment [in] vision and direction,” Patterson expressed, “and that’s why I was excited to come on…. It’s definitely been eye-opening just kind of the pendulum the business has and all the places that they’re going and the opportunities that fit there.”

The world has undoubtedly been forever changed by the events of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the business world, that means the diminishing practice of reporting to work in an office for five days a week. Jomboy Media recently moved its headquarters from the Bronx to Manhattan, which was announced in the form of a YouTube video, and features various podcasting studios and workspaces to ensure maximum comfort and productivity.

Nonetheless, the company is operating in a hybrid format, meaning that people are not required to come to the office every day of the work week, but still maintains a tight-knit, congenial atmosphere.

“People are happy,” Patterson said. “They’re excited about it. I think it pervades… the work that they do and the relationship they have…. It’s just a fun place to be, and having worked in a lot of places that I really enjoyed; even when I’ve left places… one of the biggest parts that I missed was the people, and that’s one of the parts I’m most excited about here.”

While emerging technologies have made the effectuation of stellar and engaging content more facile than ever, it can be argued that the synergy and chemistry between people lacks when working in separate locations. A massive adaptation in lifestyle due to changing global conditions evinced feelings of dis-ease experienced through difficult times, nor did the adaptation represent one of permanence to some company leaders. Patterson believes it is ultimately the decision of each individual company to determine the future of working in-person among colleagues – and subsequently establish means of collaboration.

“I think there’s a balance to it,” Patterson said. “….Given the first two years of the pandemic where remote work in some way, shape or form is here to stay, I think that what we’ve also found from the office is that there’s a gravity and a reason people come together. When we are filming and we have talent working from one place or another or just kind of cross-sharing ideas; just the small things. People walking to lunch together, bumping into each other and having conversations. I think that aspect of it – just the community aspect of it – is a real piece of it.”

Consumers value authenticity in today’s media world and it is embedded in the fabric of Jomboy Media, a company with a podcast network consisting of over 20 shows and a YouTube subscriber count of nearly 1.7 million people. The authenticity comes from an amalgamation of perspectives garnering unparalleled ethos including directly from fans, established commentators and professional athletes. The company values people who possess a good work ethic and are driven to find new ways to grow the platform, along with having a presence behind the microphone and/or in front of the camera and being sincere in their opinions.

“I think the business is not about takes; it’s about storytelling [and] I think that’s the difference,” Patterson said regarding Jomboy Media’s approach towards its content. “[Our talent] is not looking for shocking and aweing; they’re having an authentic and probably more than authentic I’d say a genuine experience in how they enjoy the game and how they talk about that.”

Storytelling is the foundation of journalism in all contexts, as its premise is one’s ability to gather information, ensure its accuracy and communicate a message to an audience both clearly and concisely. In evaluating talent both internally and externally, Patterson looks for a sustained level of curiosity, willingness to improve each day and, as O’Brien puts it, people who are able to be “fun, not funny” and assimilate into the culture.

“You can find very talented people, but for a team I think even more special than [it] is the kind of atmosphere and environment that people have here,” Patterson said. “It’s something that’s very special and it’s a hard thing to kind of keep over time. I quite frankly think it comes through in the content that we produce which is why people very much enjoy it.”

Being able to place oneself into a conversation with content creators and fans encompasses consumers within a brand, and Jomboy Media leverages that effect of social media to its advantage. When he worked at MLBAM, Twitter was the primary platform for interaction and while it remains prevalent today, other competitors such as Instagram, Snapchat and BeReal are competing for people’s attention and engagement.

The congested landscape of social media platforms requires employees accruing new knowledge or companies bringing on new people with relevant knowledge and, when applicable, experience, in order to safeguard that it does not fall behind. For example, Lorenzo DeMalia and Jack Doyle – co-hosts of the We Got Ice Show and content creators at Jomboy Media – are trying to help the company expand its reach on TikTok.

“Technology creates a new way to have a new spin on existing conversations, and then it’s just finding new ways to leverage that,” Patterson explained. “We’re constantly looking at what our fans are doing, how we can tell our stories in different ways and how we can push those and in some cases where we can find people who can do an even better job.”

One thing that is not always instantaneous is the cultivation of new ideas since the creative process varies in duration for different people. There is often an incessant need to produce new content – especially in today’s day and age –  but ensuring the quality of that content meets and/or exceeds standards has a considerable impact on long-term growth. Putting out meager content that fails to adequately tell a story can sometimes be counterintuitive to brands akin to Jomboy Media, but being willing to fail and try new things often facilitates improvement and eventual success.

“We see people who have ideas coming to the table consistently just bringing new things and pushing it,” Patterson said. “[Try] one idea and if that doesn’t work, let’s try another remix or let’s try a derivative of that and keep on going there. I think when we find something that works, we’re patient enough to kind of keep on trying until we find a way to [make it] work and then we can build on what we’ve done.”

There are a myriad of similarities between traditional radio and podcasts, primarily their bases in aural communication; however, the growing prevalence of podcasts in the marketplace is depictive of shortcomings traditional radio as a medium has yet to significantly overcome. For one thing, podcasts are designed to be consumed from wherever and at whenever consumers see best fit rather than scheduled radio shows, some of which are posted in full or in smaller segments in an on-demand format soon after their initial debuts over the airwaves.

“The accessibility of podcasting as a format and just kind of how it’s ubiquitous and no matter where you’re listening you probably have an opportunity there,” Patterson said. “That’s the biggest difference, I think, between podcasts and radio – where you can do appointment viewing, but in addition to appointment viewing, on the platform of your choosing.”

Jomboy Media, while it is a digital company at its core, also works with traditional sports media outlets including regional sports networks. The company struck a deal with YES Network prior to the start of the baseball season to produce exclusive content for the television home of the Yankees, including podcasts and digital series.

A few months later, the company partnered with NESN, which serves as the television home of the rival Boston Red Sox, similarly producing original content for the NESN 360 direct-to-consumer subscription-based streaming service.

“I think the idea of taking the communities we have and bringing them to their content [creates] a mutually-beneficial relationship,” Patterson said. “To be able to work with YES and NESN and learn from all that’s worked well with traditional media but also being able to bring our spin, our distribution [and] our approach to content is something different. I think that those two things are where you get one plus one equals five, which I think has been really different.”

Another aspect of the YES Network deal specifically is the production of an alternate broadcast available exclusively on the network’s app. Tilted the Watchin’ Yanks Jomboy-Cast, the broadcast follows a similar model to ESPN’s production of Sunday Night Baseball with Kay-Rod, except it is built on a partnership between a regional sports network and digital sports media brand. The alternate show features longtime hosts O’Brien and Storiale and gives fans a new way to watch the game and exposure to perspectives rooted in zealous fandom.

“As we find new partnerships and new ways to innovate, I think that’s just part of the nature of the business,” Patterson said. “You can’t sit still; you have to be always looking at what the next frontier is and how we can push forward.”

In fact, the alternate broadcast was featured for several nights during the final games of Aaron Judge’s quest to break the American League single-season home run record (61) set in 1961 by former Yankees outfielder Roger Maris.

Judge blasted his 62nd home run earlier this week, 61 years later in Arlington against the Texas Rangers, prompting jubilation from baseball fans around the world including those at Jomboy Media. The next day, O’Brien put out a video breakdown of the historic moment on the company’s YouTube channel, and it has already received over 500,000 views.

“He has a very unique perspective and interesting way of approaching content because at his core and [in] his heart, he’s a storyteller,” Patterson said of O’Brien. “He finds stories in ways of thinking and seeing things in ways that I think are extremely unique…. There’s an ingenuity in what he does that is extremely interesting, and I’m excited to learn from him.”

The average age of a baseball fan in a recent survey by Sports Business Journal was found to be 57, the oldest among all professional sports. As a result, Major League Baseball has prioritized growing its game among younger demographics – and content coming from digital brands such as Jomboy Media certainly help further its mission.

Patterson does not believe Jomboy Media as a company facilitates the growth of baseball though; instead, he attributes the somewhat-contrived role of a catalyst for the expansion of the game to an understanding of the audience and what kind of content people are interested in consuming.

“The constant is that we’re fans and we enjoy the game,” he said, “and when you’re having fun, people are often having fun with you. If what we do is highlighting the fun parts that we love about the game and that lets other folks that are baseball fans or new fans or otherwise also see what we see and they love the game, then that’s the purpose that we serve. I don’t think that it’s an intentional one on our part. It really is just to enjoy and to show people what we love and what we’re passionate about.”

There is a positive growth trajectory for the company as it looks to continue to produce multiplatform content about baseball and professional sports as a whole, and Patterson looks to ensure its sustained success. As long as everyone involved looks to keep creating and discovering new ideas for content, the future of the business is bright.

“There’s a lot of directions that we can go; how we decide where our core strengths are and where the business’ core strengths are and how we leverage and double-down on those; that’s the challenge,” Patterson said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity out there and remaining kind of focused on what we do special and what works for us particularly I think is the important part and that’s challenging and fun.”

It is essential to innovate and remain at the forefront of changes in the industry, and being adaptable and versatile are commodities many employers look for in today’s job market. For Andrew Patterson and Jomboy Media, staying tenacious in content creation and continuing to push boundaries is what they hope will allow for the company to soar to new heights.

“A lot of this is just working and doubling down on it; being dedicated to kind of pushing it,” Patterson said. “I don’t really know if I have a secret per se. It really is just kind of finding something you’re passionate about and then just being curious about expanding that, learning and growing.”

BSM Writers

Steve Levy Has Asked The Right Questions During Nearly 30 Year ESPN Career

“Whatever sport it is, I’m sitting next to experts on the subject. I think better than me giving my explanation of why something might have happened, why not ask the Hall of Famer who’s lived it?”

Derek Futterman

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In the summer of 1993, the price of a movie ticket was a mere $6. Over the preceding half a decade, Steve Levy lived in a high-rise apartment in New York, working in television and radio, launching his career in sports media.

In the “city that doesn’t sleep,” seeing a movie at 11 p.m. and grabbing a meal afterwards was not uncommon; it was the distinct culture of the area, and still is today. Native New Yorkers, while they are characterized by some outsiders as insolent, combative and egocentric, have their own unique ways of demonstrating the innate affability and tenderness.

It was a Tuesday night and Levy had just been honored with a goodbye party held by his family, friends and colleagues. He had recently left New York, something unimaginable for many young 27-year-old broadcasters looking to move up in the business, and relocated to Bristol, Conn.

Six months earlier, Levy’s agent Steve Lefkowitz received a call from the “Kingmaker” and then-soon to be ESPN Vice President of Talent Al Jaffe looking to recruit Levy to join ESPN, located nearly two-and-a-half hours north. While the network had made Levy a substantial offer, he declined, opting to remain at home working with WCBS-TV as a sports reporter and WFAN doing updates on Mike and the Mad Dog and hosting its Sunday NFL whiparound coverage. Today, Levy is on the verge of celebrating his third decade working at ESPN.

The second time around, ESPN had significantly increased their offer to Levy, and he was told by his agent that the network would not likely give him a third opportunity to join. Feeling an attachment to the New York marketplace, Levy pleaded with television executives at WCBS-TV to promote him to the lead sports anchor; however, he was told that having a 27-year-old in that role would never work in the marketplace.

As he weighed his future and what would be a prudential decision for his career, Levy decided to officially put pen to paper and became a national broadcaster with ESPN, ending his time in New York, N.Y.

During his first week in Bristol, Levy was living in long-term housing provided by the network as he sought to become acclimated with the area and adopt a new lifestyle. On that particular Tuesday night, Levy was feeling apprehensive and lonely and decided to go out to see a movie at 9 p.m. Much to his surprise, he was the only one in the entire theater and thought the show would be canceled because of the meager turnout.

Instead, an employee of the theater knocked on the projection glass behind Levy and asked him if he was ready for the movie, to which Levy replied ‘“Yeah, alright, game on.’” Although he cannot remember the title of the movie he saw, that kind gesture began his assimilation to covering sports nationally, a role that has substantially expanded since his debut on Saturday, Aug. 7, 1993.

Merrick, N.Y. is just a short train ride away from “The Big Apple,” the number one media market in the world, and is where Levy was raised. From the time he was young, he was conscious of the sports landscape of the area, closely following the NFL and NHL with hopes of one day playing professionally.

Just as many aspiring athletes eventually discover, Levy recognized he was “remarkably average” at everything, and while he was enamored with playing the game, knew it was not a viable career path for him. By instead pursuing a career in sports media, he could remain around the games with which he was enamored while significantly diminishing the risk of suffering formidable physical injuries.

“I had a chance for a long career without getting beaten up on a regular basis and it’s really worked out,” Levy said. “Honestly, I still sort of can’t believe it. I know my parents can’t believe it.”

From the time he was 17 years old and approaching his graduation from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, N.Y., Levy aimed to position himself to attain a sustainable career in sports media. When he was applying for college, he desired to attend Syracuse University, as it was known for its excellence in media studies and vast alumni network.

However, his parents only had enough money to send one of their two children to a private college. Since his sister was a better student than he, the State University of New York Oswego was where he would earn his degree in communications, concentrated in broadcasting. It ended up being the second-best professional decision he ever made, coming after joining ESPN; yet the latter may not have been as feasible without the former.

“Because they have all this great equipment and all these things for broadcasters to do, it was my understanding that freshmen, sophomores [and] sometimes even juniors don’t get to do any of that because they’re in such demand for all their great opportunities at Syracuse; you had to be maybe a senior even to be able to get near any of that stuff,” Levy recalled. “At Oswego with lesser studios and lesser equipment, there were more opportunities to do it right away.”

Indeed in his freshman year, Levy became a member of various student-run media outlets, including WTOP-TV, WOCR Radio, and The Oswegonian newspaper (where he began writing his own weekly column called “Levy’s Lines”). By the time he was a junior, he was named the sports director of the television station and became sports editor of the newspaper in his senior year. Simultaneously, Levy worked with WABC-AM as a part-time reporter while in college, giving him early professional experience and exposure in the industry.

Once he graduated, Levy went to Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. – not as a student, but to work in his first professional job compiling the “Jets Report” for WNBC-AM. Beginning in 1968, Levy’s childhood team, the New York Jets, practiced on the school’s north campus – sometimes in front of fans – until 2008. In this role, he worked at the radio station behind current Seattle Mariners play-by-play announcer Dave Sims and New York Knicks and NBA on ESPN play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, primarily assembling the “Jets Report” and filling in for them on the SportsNight program.

A couple of years later, Levy joined WFAN during its first year on the air as the host of The NFL in Action and a contributor on some of the station’s radio shows, including Imus in the Morning and the aforementioned Mike and the Mad Dog. Rather than solely working in radio, Levy also joined the Madison Square Garden Network as a host of MSG SportsDesk and intermission updates for both the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers.

Being on the air professionally in New York City is no easy task for most broadcasters, especially recent college graduates; therefore it helps to have a keen awareness of industry trends and a wide array of connections to effectively get started. Luckily for Levy, his father was friends with a prominent broadcast agent who agreed to look at Levy’s demo reel coming out of college. It was through this connection that Levy was introduced to Lefkowitz, and ultimately how he landed his first professional job with WNBC-AM.

Starting in 1992, Levy joined WCBS-TV, the local New York station, as a sports anchor and reporter, giving him the chance to cover the sports teams he grew up watching. Levy primarily worked on weekends, doing sports on Friday and Saturday nights alongside lead news anchor Brian Williams. At the same time, Levy remained at WFAN working four days a week on radio and was satisfied with his career. In short, ESPN was never the goal.

“I was not one of those people watching ESPN growing up and in college,” Levy said. “I was strictly a local guy; I wanted nothing more than New York City.”

Nonetheless, Levy signed a deal with the national network and found himself anchoring the 2 a.m. edition of SportsCenter with now-Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play announcer Karl Ravech – which was subsequently replayed 12 times through the morning hours. The half-hour program brought fans all of the scores and news around sports both at the professional and collegiate levels, covering every game despite there being commercial breaks.

“I recognize the power of that show and being national,” Levy said. “I still love to go to games and I found myself still going to games as a fan. I’d go around and I’d see Charles Barkley at a game and he knew my name. Ken Griffey Jr. knew my name – and that was really weird to me…. That really made me think about the power of the show [and] the real responsibility of the show to get [it] right.”

Levy, along with all of the network’s young anchors, came in trying to emulate the styles of Keith Olbermann or Dan Patrick, the two lead hosts of SportsCenter at the time. That is, all but one.

“We all came in trying to be Dan or Keith and then you realize you can’t be either of them because that’s how great they are and then you eventually settle into who you are,” Levy said. “Stuart Scott was special. He immediately knew who he was [and] he wasn’t trying to be anybody else.”

Over the years, Levy has gained a deep understanding of what players go through on a daily basis through his research and interactions with them. He is cognizant of the reach of the platform and how it has shifted, requiring the flagship show of the network to do more than just read scores to attract and enthrall audiences on a daily basis.

“It’s real easy at 2 in the morning [when] you’re wearing makeup sitting in Bristol to do bloopers [and] to make wise cracks,” Levy said. “‘Look at this guy. He can’t catch that! Come on, man.’ That kind of thing and then you go into the locker room and you see these guys the next day and all of a sudden, [it’s] ‘Wait a second, this is real.’ If I make that same joke in New York about Ken Griffey Jr., there’s no way he’s seeing it but if I say that on ESPN; he, his family, the manager, the coaches, the general manager [and] all the fans [are] seeing it.”

Beginning in 1994, Levy started his foray into national play-by-play announcing across many different sports. At the time, ESPN held national broadcast rights for the National Hockey League and found himself working with Bill Clement at a sold-out Madison Square Garden for a Wednesday night matchup between the New York Rangers and the Calgary Flames.

Once the Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks, he worked with former NHL defenseman and head coach Barry Melrose bringing fans unparalleled coverage of the action.

Once ESPN reacquired part of the NHL’s national broadcast rights in a seven-year agreement, the iconic theme song was re-recorded and the coverage was revamped in an effort to grow the game of hockey and reimagine the ways in which it is covered.

Before the start of last season, ESPN named Levy as the lead studio host for its NHL coverage and was tabbed to work with new analysts and members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.

“I knew both of them personally prior to working with them,” Levy said of his new colleagues. “I’ve really enjoyed the relationship we’ve had; I just wish we were able to do it on a regular basis…. In the second half, we’ll get into a regular rhythm. I thought we were really clicking on all cylinders last year in the postseason and in the Stanley Cup Finals when I got to work with those guys on a regular basis.”

Messier and Chelios had some previous experience entering their new roles as studio analysts, working with local and national sports networks and occasionally appearing as guest commentators.

In spite of that, Levy treated them like rookies last season, as it was their first substantial experience working regularly with a national platform, and is excited to continue their partnership and enhance the coverage of the sport.

“I can’t throw them a curveball; they know everything,” Levy expressed. “It’s just [if you] can say it in 20 seconds and make it informative and be entertaining at the same time. That’s kind of the trick. They’ve made great strides and I think come this postseason, we’ll be really excellent, entertaining and a fun show to watch.”

Levy continues to work as a play-by-play announcer on NHL coverage, and holds the distinction of calling two of the three longest overtime games in Stanley Cup Playoffs history – both of which took five extra periods to decide.

Additionally, he has been behind the microphone for the network’s football coverage working with Brian Griese and Todd McShay calling weekly college football games on ESPN and ABC beginning in 2016. It is a role he worked earlier in his career on Friday nights from 1999 until 2002, and something that prepared him when he was named as the new voice of Monday Night Football in 2019.

As both a host and a play-by-play announcer, Levy describes his style as minimalistic, trying to make sure to read sponsorships and set his analyst up to effectively translate esoteric knowledge into concise, comprehensible points.

“I really feel that I know what I don’t know and I’m never trying to fool anyone with all of my knowledge,” Levy said. “I think that’s a strength of mine because in whatever sport it is, I’m sitting next to experts on the subject. I think better than me giving my explanation of why something might have happened, why not ask the Hall of Famer who’s lived it?”

Levy worked on Monday nights with Griese and Louis Riddick before the network reassigned him in a multiplatform role prior to this season, coinciding with the additions of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to the lead television broadcast booth.

Throughout this NFL season, Levy called a Week 2 matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills and a Week 8 international game from Wembley Stadium in London, England between the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars. Additionally, he has called multiple NFL games on ESPN Radio, a challenge that has elevated his skills as an all-around broadcaster.

“All this stuff that I don’t have to say on television where most of my career has been spent – I have to say all of that so that’s really hard on the radio analyst,” Levy said. “….The radio analyst has very, very little time to get in a story, an anecdote and be funny – all those kinds of things – and analyze the play. I really find radio difficult, [but it] it is really enjoyable.”

Calling NFL games nationally requires a shift in preparation, as the broadcasters are not usually around the teams every week and, once on the air, are speaking to a broader audience. It demands extensive research, notetaking and interviewing in advance of each matchup to bring consumers a product they use to effectively follow the game and return to later for future matchups.

“You spend the majority of that week really drilling down – it’s a ton of reading; it’s a ton of talking to people; it’s a lot of meetings but it’s really enjoyable,” Levy said. “I enjoy the process of preparing for an NFL game the way the week breaks down.”

From the start of his career, Levy’s talent as a broadcaster, combined with knowing the right people and taking chances on new opportunities, has propelled him into a stellar national television personality. Over the years, he has made cameos in various movies, including Million Dollar Arm, Tooth Fairy and Fever Pitch, and also hosts the annual U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Celebration.

At his alma mater, Levy was the recipient of the inaugural G.O.L.D. Award honoring distinguished graduates who have achieved success in their careers and also had the press box at the Marano Campus Center Arena named in his honor. He also maintains the Steve Levy ‘87 Broadcasting Summer Internship Fund which is given to a broadcasting student looking to gain professional experience and compensates their cost of tuition and housing expenses that may otherwise prevent them from doing so.

As he gives back to his community and makes time for aspiring professionals looking to enter the field, he compels them to seize any opportunity given to them and build relationships.

When he was working with WABC-AM, the station provided him a chance to cover the PGA Tour Westchester Classic in Rye, N.Y., and although he was not interested in golf, he learned about it and served as a stringer from the tournament. It helped him broaden his skill set and move up in the industry, as he knew that if he turned it down, somebody else would be ready to take the chance and therefore have a leg up on him.

Opportunities to stand out extend far beyond what one may see media professionals doing on the silver screen – and in such a competitive industry, they have the power to rapidly determine a career trajectory and overall potential.

“When you’re coming out of college, nothing is beneath you in the business within reason,” Levy expressed. “What I mean by that is if you’re interning someplace and somebody asks you, ‘Hey, can you get me a cup of coffee?,’ go get the cup of coffee for that person…. Don’t come in with an attitude. Don’t come in with, ‘I have a degree. This is beyond me; this is beneath me. I didn’t go to Syracuse to go get people coffee.’ Just go get the cup of coffee; I promise you it will work out.”

Without doing the small things to advance his career, it would have been much more difficult, if not near impossible, for Steve Levy to establish himself as a versatile broadcaster at ESPN. By staying ready to take on anything thrown in his direction and carrying himself with alacrity and enthusiasm for the profession, he has become a venerable staple of sports coverage who has had the chance to cover many enduring moments over the last three decades.

“It’s a relationship business, and all those things of ‘Have your eyes open’; ‘Have your ears open’; ‘Listen more than you talk’; all those things you’ve heard; all the clichés,” Levy said. “They’re all very true and have all been very successful and really helped me out to achieve whatever success I have to this point.”

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BSM Writers

How Stephen A. Smith Used Sports Radio to Continue His Pay-Raise Crusade

t Stephen A. knows how to stay relevant, and migrating his influence to radio hits on several stations keeps him relevant, it keeps First Take relevant, and more importantly, it keeps ESPN relevant.

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There’s a saying in the entertainment industry: “The devil works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder”. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is the sports world’s embodiment of Kris Jenner’s “always find a spot in the limelight” approach.

Smith has been adamant for a few weeks now that he is underpaid at ESPN, going as far to claim he takes less money so others can get paid more than they should. There have been many who have taken stances against that insinuation from the First Take panelist, but that’s not what this column is going to be about.

Stephen A. is the king of staying relevant and constantly being in the conversation. ESPN is the king of creating an echo chamber to amplify outlandish opinions. It’s truly a match made in heaven.

And yet, I couldn’t help but notice Stephen A. broadening his hot-take horizons this week by poking the bear of local sports radio hosts. Honestly, it was a brilliant play.

Smith picked a fight with 105.3 The Fan morning hosts Shan Shariff and RJ Choppy this week during his comments centered on the Dallas Cowboys. Shan and RJ played right into Smith’s hands by spending significant portions of their show discussing his comments, and then welcoming him onto their program for more than 20 minutes.

Later in the same day, Smith created headlines by being in a slight contentious interview with Steiny & Guru on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco where he called the hosts “ridiculously clueless” for their opinions that the Warriors dynasty is over.

Give the man credit, he’s not dumb. He knows what does and doesn’t work, what does and doesn’t create content, and what does and doesn’t create ratings. I’ve seen many decry the ratings of First Take as the reason Stephen A. Smith isn’t underpaid. My rebuttal would be what would the show’s ratings be without him. I think we all get into the mindset that ESPN pulls a couple million viewers for each show simply because we turn the TV on, we flip it to ESPN, and it stays there while you scroll through — apparently dying — Twitter. ESPN is constantly on at sports bars and doctors offices, therefore Stephen A. Smith’s influence is exaggerated, is generally the consensus by many.

But Stephen A. knows how to stay relevant, and migrating his influence to radio hits on several stations keeps him relevant, it keeps First Take relevant, and more importantly, it keeps ESPN relevant. It seems to be a sort of sports network playbook to have someone that can go on radio shows and spit a little hot-takery.

Think about it. ESPN has Stephen A. Smith, coupled with Dan Orlovsky for the NFL and Paul Finebaum for college football. FOX has Nick Wright, and NBC has Chris Simms and Mike Florio. These guests appearances all come back around to “listen to my (network produced) podcast” or “watch my (network produced) television show” where they say those same things. It’s promotion plain and simple, but it rarely turns into “because I’m on your show, think about me and how much money I should be paid”, but credit to Stephen A., the man is pulling it off.

Sports radio offers an expanded reach that First Take alone doesn’t provide. I don’t know that that’s an opinion as much as it is a fact. On a recent episode of The Sports Talkers Podcast, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio told Stephen Strom he has never spent one dollar on advertising his website. He did, however, accept any and every opportunity to appear on sports radio shows to serve as a quasi-insider for the show, and push people to his website.

Now, why would Florio do that? Because sports radio works. It’s a great promotion tool. And Stephen A. would know that as well as anyone.

In a crusade to point out you should be paid more, spouting it from the rooftops of your mid-morning television program alone isn’t going to get it done. You have to take your message to the people. And that’s exactly what Stephen A. Smith has done.

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BSM Writers

Seller to Seller: Larry Rosin, Edison Research

Jeff Caves

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What can audience research tell us about the stature of sports radio in the audience’s eyes? Larry Rosin has good news for sellers to take to clients!

iTunes: https://buff.ly/3ysYv3H

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3BhdpNE

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3J24oK9

Google: https://buff.ly/3z9TJIA

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3PBlsJo

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