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Bensinger’s In-Depth Rolls On

Jason Barrett

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St. Louisan Graham Bensinger has begun the fifth season of his nationally syndicated sports interview TV show, and for now can put his monetary worries to rest.

He said “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” has stabilized financially after some rough times last year, when he greatly expanded the operation by adding staff and affiliates. That came after he was a one-man show in the early days, when he not only was conducting the interviews but also was selling advertising and lining up outlets to carry the program plus booking travel and guests. Now he has nine full-time staffers.

“Everything’s going in the right direction,’’ he said Thursday. “It’s been a bit of a battle. There’s been financial pressure in growing it.”

That sounds like an understatement. Bensinger, 28, said after making a small profit the first three seasons when the show was on a smaller scale, last year was a loser. That’s when he syndicated the show, which had been on cable and the internet, to over-the-air stations across the country.

It was a big risk.

Last year he said he funded the expanded business with “the money I had made to that point plus my life savings. I said, ‘What the hell, I want to give this a shot.’’’

A long shot?

“Without a doubt this past year has been the toughest of my life,’’ he said. “I don’t think I ever realized how much the financial pressure would impact me. I’d go to bed thinking about it, get up thinking about it. That was pretty much the life I lived the last year.

“It was entirely self induced. I made the decision to invest every last dollar I could into the show, whether it be in production quality or hiring additional people. I believe that was necessary to grow it. If I had reined it in slightly, there wouldn’t have been the financial pressure. But looking back, I’m glad I made the decisions I made. But it definitely taught me a valuable lesson in that I never want to have to go through that again.”

He was on vacation with his parents this summer when he finalized a sponsorship deal that would not only put him into the black for the coming season, but assure that he also would cover last season’s losses. It was an emotional experience.

“Never in a million years would I have expected this reaction, but I just went down to tell my mom and burst out crying because it’s just been a long path to get to this place,’’ Bensinger said.

He is in a more prominent time slot locally this season, at 10:35 p.m. Sundays on KTVI (Channel 2) after being on at 6:30 a.m. Saturdays last year.

Basketball personality Charles Barkley was the subject last week in the season debut of the half-hour program, with tennis’ Caroline Wozniacki the focus this week. Among topics she discusses is golfer Rory McIIroy recently breaking off their engagement. Football’s Emmitt Smith and Ray Lewis follow next.

It’s been a prominent — albeit different — path for Bensinger, who at one time seemed to be gliding on the fast track to a network reporter’s role. At age 19, he scored a big interview for ESPN with receiver Terrell Owens, who in the conversation talked his way out of a job with the Philadelphia Eagles. He also did other reports for the network.

But he always had wanted to try to make his mark on his own, not by working for someone else.

“Had I looked for an opportunity where I would have been employed by a media outlet, it would have been more financially lucrative the past several years,’’ he said. “So it has been exciting to get (the show) to the place where it is now.

“It’s still far and away the most satisfying work I’ve ever done. In prior roles, I’d only conduct an interview or book an interview. Now I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in every facet of building this.”

And there is a key bottom line.

“It’s exciting that there’s no longer the day-to-day financial pressure that there has been in the past,’’ he said. “It’s been a long five years.”

For more, read Dan Caesar’s column at STL Today where this was originally published

Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee Announces Partnership With NFL Films

“You’re going to make our show better and hopefully we make NFL Films a little bit better as well.”

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Pat McAfee Show

The Pat McAfee Show is breaking another barrier with his program. Today he revealed that his show will be teaming up with NFL Films to feature league footage on the show. They will also team up for at least one feature element between the two.

On the show, McAfee was discussing the debut of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Detroit Lions with two of the coordinating producers of the show, Keith Cossrow and Ken Rodgers. After talking about the first episode, McAfee made the announcement.

“We will have NFL footage rights for the show every single day,” McAfee began. “We will also be creating, probably an Emmy-winning Mic’d Up type thing on the side with NFL Films. I don’t think this has ever happened before. I think this is one of the first times that something like we run has teamed up with NFL Films and the NFL.”

McAfee then told the two how happy he was to be partners with the group. “You’re going to make our show better and hopefully we make NFL Films a little bit better as well. We are very lucky and pumped to be a part of it, Keith.”

“Seeing you guys work, seeing how committed you are it reminded me of the way we are back here,” said Keith Cossrow. “What you guys have all built together is really special. What you’ve built Pat, is special. We could not be more excited at NFL Films to help build your show into something bigger. We are going to produce a weekly feature every week all season with you about the brilliance of our players in the NFL.”

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Dave LaGreca: WWE Will Improve Without Vince McMahon

“I don’t think Vince McMahon ever truly loved pro wrestling. He loved that term, ‘sports entertainment.’ He looked at pro wrestling the way a lot of mainstream people look at pro wrestling.”

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Wrestling fans have connected with SiriusXM’s Busted Open, because they trust host Dave LaGreca to be honest with them about what is good and bad in the sport. One target that he has never been afraid to go after is former WWE boss Vince McMahon.

“You can’t think about it,” he said on the latest episode of The Jason Barrett Podcast when asked how the company has responded to his criticism in the past. “You kinda have to block it.”

One of LaGreca’s most famous rants is about the appearance of zombies at a WWE pay-per-view event last year. During that rant, Dave LaGreca shouted over and over that Vince McMahon hates pro wrestling.

He told Barrett that he doesn’t regret the rant and still believes every word of it.

“I stand by that statement. I don’t think Vince McMahon ever truly loved pro wrestling. He loved that term, ‘sports entertainment.’ He looked at pro wrestling the way a lot of mainstream people look at pro wrestling.”

Dave LaGreca is a wrestling fan. He said he and people like him have plenty of reason for optimism with McMahon’s son-in-law Triple H taking creative control of the company’s storylines.

“Triple H looks at pro wrestling as an art form. He’s said it before. He appreciates it. He respects it. He grew up an NWA fan. I am very high on the next 3-6 months with Triple H at the helm of creative.”

Barrett followed that up by asking what could come next for Vince McMahon. Dave LaGreca had a simple answer.

“Watches!”

New episodes of The Jason Barrett Podcast drop every Tuesday morning.

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97.1 The Ticket Creates ‘Hard Knocks’ Drinking Game

“This is the hard liquor, Hard Knocks drinking game,” Kott said. “Or you can use beer if you’d like.”

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Detroit

The Detroit Lions are the featured team on this year’s Hard Knocks series on HBO, and 97.1 The Ticket created an interactive game for listeners to participate in as they watch.

The Valenti Show, guest hosted by Jim Costa Tuesday, created a drinking game for listeners to play at home while watching the first episode of the season, which premiered

“This is the hard liquor, Hard Knocks drinking game,” Kott said. “Or you can use beer if you’d like.”

There were rules for one sip, two sips, three sips, or finish your beverage entirely.

“One sip if you hear ‘Blue collar people. Hard working people’ describing the people of metro-Detroit, or any other Detroitisms,” Kott began. “If there’s a reference to Motown, the music, that’s a sip, for sure. Now if you see these fixtures of Detroit: The Spirit of Detroit, the Joe Louis fist, the Ren Cen (GM Renaissance Center), Henry Ford Museum, the QLine, the Ford plant, any assembly line workers. That’s also at the end of the one sip category.

Costa and the producers began to chuckle, adding they might be drunk by the end of the opening montage.

“Two sips if any former player is brought up,” Kott continued. Barry (Sanders), Calvin (Johnson), (Matthew) Stafford. Any of these guys that you see. Just cliche guys. Last year’s three-win season or record is brought up in any way. If any coach or player does the pep talk, hype up speech, that’s two sips.”

“Two sips for Jamaal Williams and any Jamaal Williams-like presentations,” Costa said, referencing a speech Williams gave that Hard Knocks had already shared on social media.

“Which would have been four sips, because he brought up the three win record last year,” Kott interrupted.

“Let’s go!”, Costa shouted.

“An additional sip if that pep talk/hype up gets you actually a little bit ‘run through a brick wall’ fired up,” Kott added. “And finally, finish your drink if the 0-16 season is brought up? You finish your drink.”

Kott also concluded if any Detroit musical artists were featured, if any 97.1 The Ticket signage or personalities were seen, you were to finish you drink. And also, you were required to finish your drink after Aidan Hutchinson completed his rendition of Michael Jackson’s hit “Billie Jean”.

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