Connect with us

BSM Writers

Q&A with Bo Mattingly

Tyler McComas



Success is never an accident. It requires a ton of hard work, skill and most of all, patience. Bo Mattingly found all of this out when he started in the radio business at the young age of 19. There’s nothing glamorous about starting from the bottom when you get your first opportunity. For Mattingly, it meant waking up at 4am to call a transmitter, thus turning on an AM religious station on the air near his home in West Palm Beach, FL.

Soon after, at the age of 20, he was riding in an airplane, giving traffic updates for a number of stations in the market. He would move on to other roles such as country music DJ, providing morning sports reports, and interning at a local TV station. Mattingly was the guy that never said no to any job. And that attitude helped him eventually catch his first break.

It’s been 20 years since Mattingly arrived in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Though he’d start his journey in the Natural State on the TV side, he eventually moved into sports radio. For the past decade, SportsTalk with Bo Mattingly has been the dominant show throughout the state. His show is syndicated by 10 stations, including ESPN 99.5 FM in Northwest Arkansas, KARN 920 AM The Sports Animal in Little Rock and 105.5 FM in Nashville, just to name a few.

Not bad for a kid from Florida with big dreams, huh?

Truth be told, I could have picked anyone to do my first Q&A on. That’s one of the many reasons I love writing for BSM. Jason gives us the freedom to write about whatever and whoever we want. So, for me, the choice was easy. I’d never met Mattingly before, but I already respected him. Having no affiliation to Arkansas or the Razorbacks, I found myself listening to his show on a nightly basis, via Podomatic where a one-hour podcast is compiled with his best segments of the day. When I spoke to him for the first time I had my list of questions ready, eager to find a couple of things I could use to help my own career. Boy, did he ever deliver on that.

Have you ever heard the phrase “nice guys finish last?” Of course you have. Well, Mattingly disproves it when referencing sports radio. In his mind, it’s all about how you treat people. A big ego can cause many problems. Having too big of a chip on your shoulder can also get in the way of success. However, it’s the ones who treat people the right way and work hard, that seem to be the eventual success stories in our industry.

At 27, I’m young in the sports radio business. With that, comes occasional frustration. But when you come across people like Mattingly, who add great insight and perspective, it leaves you with a lot to look forward to.

TM: The Razorbacks are struggling and fans are unhappy. Head Coach Bret Bielema is a guy who you’ve established a relationship with. How do you separate the line between being close to the head coach and giving your honest assessments on his performance?

BM: You just have to be fair. Anyone that’s your friend and asks you to do your job a certain way is probably not the kind of friend you think you had. I don’t ask Bret Bielema to do his job a certain way and he doesn’t ask me to do mine a certain way. I don’t get on the air and try to protect or change what the story is, I just try to really understand what it is. I want to be right, but I’m more concerned with getting it right. I want as much information as I can get so that I can give you an educated opinion. The more educated I can be, then the better I’m going to be able to do my job. If you like someone, you don’t like having to say they’re not doing a good job, but you have to aim for the story that’s true. You can’t change the narrative of what’s true.

TM: From listening to your show, I love your crew. Bart (Pohlman) has a huge role, as does Sawyer (Radler) and I think Pete the Intern is hilarious. What benefits are there to having a show where everyone has a clear and defined on-air role?

BM: One thing we decided on was that we were going to spend more money on staff than most people would, especially in this market. It’s important to us to have a content driven show. Tell me something I don’t know, give me something I can use, make me laugh, make me cry, make me feel. That’s what we’re aiming for. To do that, you’re going to need great help, and Bart has been with me for almost seven years. Sawyer has been with us for six and they’ve both proven that good people are invaluable. You just can’t do it all by yourself, especially if you plan on growing.

Those guys have been huge and a big part of the show. Sawyer has done an incredible job with production, which gives our show a national feel. I think Bart is a professional. He understands journalism and is a great writer. He’s got some quirkiness to him that works and adds a different dimension. Those guys are here all day every day. They get in at 8am and don’t leave until after 6:30. They’re committed, loyal and I love them. The work they do makes me look a lot better than I really am.

TM: Some hosts refuse to take phone calls. However, you take them and they’re very entertaining. What’s your philosophy on using the phone lines?

BM: I look at phone calls as content. You just have to take the content where you want to go. If you feel like it’s getting boring then you have to move on. But if you get a crazy caller with a wild opinion or they’re half drunk and it’s entertaining, then we’ll leave them on a while longer. If not, then we’ll, politely as possible, move them along as quick as we can.

I look at the show, segment by segment, as what’s the best thing we can possibly do? If it’s a caller, great. If not, then let’s unveil this research that indicates something interesting. Mishandling a phone call or a bad phone call can kill a radio show. But I feel like people are listening, because they also want to hear what other people are saying. If you can blend that in while giving them stuff they don’t already know, then that’s the idea. I like to give a mix of interviews, callers and our own content that we create. When you get a good topic that gives you callers with different flavors, it helps you give a good show.

TM: What do you think we, as sports radio hosts, can do a better job of?

BM: For me, it’s about trying to make sure I know what I’m talking about. Granted, I don’t know what I’m always talking about but I try to. I think we can all do a better job of taking it one step further. A lot of us stop on the surface of something, instead of digging down three steps below it. For instance, we know the offensive line isn’t good, but why? Is it recruiting, the coaches they hired, where’s the why in it? If that means getting a guest that knows more about the subject, then we’ll get them on. Instead of just ranting or raving, have an opinion that comes from a point of education. I think we can do a better job of that. It also drives me nuts when people guess on the air. If you don’t know, just say you don’t and that you’ll come back to it after you find out. Instead of having three guys comment about something they don’t know, let’s look it up and find the answer.

TM: At any point in your career, did you find yourself frustrated?

BM: Yeah, all the time. One of the things that’s tough about this business, is that people are always looking for more. You want more. If you’re a self-motivated person you’re always looking for that. From a frustration standpoint, looking back at my younger years, knowing that I had some talent probably hurt me more in some ways than it helped me. When you’re young in the business, the older people are worried the younger person is coming to take their job for less money. Because you start to have a chip on your shoulder and it makes you have a bit of a cocky attitude. Looking at others in the business that remind me of myself, that can really hurt you.

TM: What do you consider more enjoyable about working in a smaller market compared to a bigger one?

BM: I think that it’s really noisy in big markets and more difficult to make your mark. There’s so many other guys, and that makes it harder to develop relationships with coaches and administrators. I’ve never really dealt with life in a big market, but it’s not all different than what we have in Arkansas. It’s a one-horse state with the Razorbacks so every media outlet of consequence is at every game, practice and press conference. It’s still competitive with a lot of people wanting to do a lot of different things. In big markets, you probably get crushed more for every mistake. And if you have a good job, everyone is out to get you.

BSM Writers

Is There Still a Place for Baseball Talk on National Sports Shows?

“Its struggle has been the same since the beginning of television. There is too much baseball for any regular season baseball game or story to have national significance.”

Demetri Ravanos




Last week at the BSM Summit, I hosted a panel focused on air checks. I wish I could say we covered the topic thoroughly, but we got derailed a lot, and you know what? That is okay. It felt like real air checks that I have been on both sides of in my career. 

Rob Parker of The Odd Couple on FOX Sports Radio was the talent. He heard thoughts on his show from his boss, Scott Shapiro, and from his former boss, legendary WFAN boss Mark Chernoff. 

Baseball was the topic that caused one of our derailments on the panel. If you know Rob, you know he is passionate about Major League Baseball. He cited download numbers that show The Odd Couple’s time-shifted audience responds to baseball talk. To him, that proves there is not just room for it on nationally syndicated shows, but that there is a sizable audience that wants it.

Chernoff disagrees. He says baseball is a regional sport. Sure, there are regions that love it and local sports talk stations will dedicate full hours to discussing their home team’s games and roster. National shows need to cast a wide net though, and baseball doesn’t do that.

Personally, I agree with Chernoff. I told Parker on stage that “I hear baseball talk and I am f***ing gone.” The reason for that, I think, is exactly what Chernoff said. I grew up in Alabama (no baseball team). I live in North Carolina (no baseball team). Where baseball is big, it is huge, but it isn’t big in most of the country. 

Now, I will add this. I used to LOVE baseball. It is the sport I played in high school. The Yankees’ logo was on the groom’s cake at my wedding. Then I had kids. Forget 162 games. Even five games didn’t fit into my lifestyle. Maybe somewhere deep down, I still have feelings for the sport, but they are buried by years of neglect and actively shunning the sport.

Its struggle has been the same since the beginning of television. There is too much baseball for any regular season baseball game or story to have national significance. 

Me, and millions of sports talk listeners like me, look at baseball like a toddler looks at broccoli. You probably aren’t lying when you tell us how much you love it, but damn it! WE WANT CHICKEN FINGERS!

A new Major League Baseball season starts Thursday and I thought this topic was worth exploring. I asked three nationally syndicated hosts to weigh in. When is baseball right for their show and how do they use those conversations? Here is what they had to say.

FREDDIE COLEMAN (Freddie & Fitzsimmons on ESPN Radio) – “MLB can still be talked nationally IF there’s that one player like Aaron Judge or Shohei Ohtani can attract the casual fan.  MLB has definitely become more local because of the absence of that SUPER player and/or villainous team.  I wonder if the pace of play will help bring in the younger fans that they need, but the sport NEEDS that defining star that is must-see TV.”

JONAS KNOX (2 Pros & a Cup of Joe on FOX Sports Radio) – “While football is king for me in sports radio, I look at baseball like most other sports. I’m not opposed to talking about it, as long as I have an angle or opinion that I am confident I can deliver in an entertaining manner. A couple of times of any given year, there are stories in baseball that are big picture topics that are obvious national discussions. 

“I think it’s my job to never close the door on any topic/discussion (except politics because I don’t know anything about it).

“But also, if I’m going to discuss a localized story in baseball or any other sport for that matter – I better have an entertaining/informed angle on it. Otherwise, I’ve let down the listener and that is unacceptable. If they give you their time, you better not waste it.”

MAGGIE GRAY (Maggie & Perloff on CBS Sports Radio) – “While I was on WFAN there was almost no amount of minutia that was too small when it came to the Mets and Yankees. On Maggie and Perloff, our baseball topics have to be more centered around issues that can be universal. For example, ’Is Shohei Ohtani the face of the sport? Is Ohtani pitching and hitting more impressive than two sport athletes like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders? Do you consider Aaron Judge the single-season homerun king or Barry Bonds?’ Any baseball fan or sports fan can have an opinion about those topics, so we find they get great engagement from our audience.”

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Who Can Sports Fans Trust Once Twitter Ditches Legacy Verified Blue Checks?

The potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

Avatar photo




As of April 1, Twitter will finally make a dreaded change that many will view as an April Fools’ prank. Unfortunately, it won’t be a joke to any user who cares about legitimacy and truth.

Last week, Twitter officially announced that verified blue checkmarks will be removed from accounts that have not signed up for a Twitter Blue subscription. Previously, accounts whose identity had been verified were allowed to keep their blue checks when Twitter Blue was implemented.

But shortly after Elon Musk purchased Twitter and became the social media company’s CEO, he stated his intention to use verification as a revenue source. Users would have to pay $8 per month (or $84 annually) for a Twitter Blue subscription and blue checkmark verification. Paying for blue checks immediately set off red flags among users who learned to depend on verified accounts for accredited identities and trusted information.

The entire concept of verification and blue checks was simple and effective. Users and accounts bearing the blue checkmark were legitimate. These people and organizations were who they said they were.

As an example, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has faced criticism for how he framed domestic violence and sexual misconduct involving star NFL players, and deservedly so. But fans and media know Schefter’s tweets are really coming from him because his account is verified.

Furthermore, Twitter took the additional step of clarifying that accounts such as Schefter’s were verified before Twitter Blue was implemented. He didn’t pay eight dollars for that blue checkmark.


The need for verification is never more vital than when fake accounts are created to deceive users. Such accounts will put “Adam Schefter” as their Twitter name, even if their handle is something like “@TuaNeedsHelp.” Or worse, some fake accounts will create a handle with letters that look similar. So “@AdarnSchefter” with an “rn” in place of the “m,” fools some people, especially at a quick glance when people are trying to push news out as fast as possible.

Plenty of baseball fans have been duped over the years by fake accounts using a zero instead of an “o” or a capital “I” instead of a lowercase “l” to resemble Fox Sports and The Athletic reporter Ken Rosenthal. That trick didn’t get me. But when I covered Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report 10 years ago, I did fall for a fake Jim Salisbury account that reported the Philadelphia Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants. Capital “I,” not lowercase “l” in “Salisbury.” Pence was, in fact, traded to the Giants two days later, but that didn’t make my goof any less embarrassing. I should’ve looked for the blue checkmark!

But after April 1, that signifier won’t matter. Legacy blue checkmarks will be removed from accounts that haven’t paid for Twitter Blue. Some accounts that were previously verified might purchase a subscription to maintain that blue check. But those that were deemed legitimate prior to Musk taking over Twitter likely won’t. (There are also rumors that Twitter is considering a feature that would allow Twitter Blue subscribers to hide their blue check and avoid revealing that purchase.)

That could be even more true for media organizations, which are being told to pay $1000 per month for verification. Do you think ESPN, the New York Times, or the Washington Post will pay $12,000 for a blue check?

We’ve already seen the problems that paying for verification can cause. Shortly after Twitter Blue launched, accounts pretending to be legacy verified users could be created. A fake Adam Schefter account tweeted that the Las Vegas Raiders had fired head coach Josh McDaniels. Users who saw the “Adam Schefter” Twitter name went with the news without looking more closely at the “@AdamSchefterNOT” handle. But there was a blue checkmark next to the name this time!

The same thing occurred with a fake LeBron James account tweeting that the NBA superstar had requested a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers. There was a “@KINGJamez” handle, but a “LeBron James” Twitter name with a blue check next to it.

Whether it’s because fans and media have become more discerning or Twitter has done good work cracking down on such fake accounts, there haven’t been many outrageous examples of deliberate deception since last November. But the potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

If that seems like an overstatement, it’s a very real possibility that there will be an erosion of trust among Twitter users. Media and fans may have to take a breath before quickly tweeting and retweeting news from accounts that may or may not be credible. False news and phony statements could spread quickly and go viral across social media.

Even worse, Musk has announced that only verified Twitter Blue accounts will be seen in your “For You” timeline as of April 15. (He can’t claim it’s an April Fools’ Day joke on that date.)

Obviously, that carries far more serious real-world implications beyond sports. Forget about a fake Shams Charania account tweeting that Luka Dončić wants to be traded to the Lakers. It’s not difficult to imagine a fake Joe Biden account declaring war on Russia and some people believing it’s true because of the blue checkmark.

We may be nearing the end of Twitter being a reliable news-gathering tool. If the accounts tweeting out news can’t be trusted, where’s the value? Reporters and newsmakers may end up going to other social media platforms to break stories and carry the viability of verification.

When Fox Sports’ website infamously pivoted to video in 2017, Ken Rosenthal posted his MLB reporting on Facebook prior to joining The Athletic. Hello, Instagram. Will someone take their following and reputation to a fledgling platform like Mastodon, Post, Spoutible, or BlueSky, even if it means a lesser outlet?

If and when that happens, Twitter could still be a community but not nearly as much fun. Not when it becomes a matter of trust that breaks up the party.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

There’s a Lesson For Us All in Florida Atlantic’s Elite 8 Broadcast Struggle

“It is a ton of faith our industry has been forced to place in a single mode of delivery.”

Avatar photo




Ken LaVicka and Kevin Harlan probably don’t have a ton in common. Both of them were announcing an Elite Eight game over the weekend, that is one thing tying them together, but their experiences were wildly different. Harlan is on CBS with a production crew numbering in the dozens making certain all goes smoothly. LaVicka, the voice of the Florida Atlantic Owls, is a production crew himself, making certain those listening in South Florida heard the Owls punch their Final Four ticket. At least, that was LaVicka’s plan.

The Florida Atlantic Owls are going to the Men’s Final Four. Even while typing that sentence, it still seems odd to say. Do you know how many college basketball teams are thinking “how can Florida Atlantic make the Final Four and we can’t?” These are the types of stories that make the NCAA Tournament what it is. There is, literally, no barrier stopping any team from this tournament going on the run of their life and making it all the way.

Everyone listening in South Florida almost missed the moment it all became real for the Owls. With :18.6 to go in Florida Atlantic’s Elite Eight game against Kansas State, the Madison Square Garden Ethernet service to the front row of media seating went completely dark. 

It was on that row that Ken LaVicka was painting the picture back to South Florida. Well, he was until the internet died on him.

Nobody does a single show away from their home studio anymore without trying to avoid the nightmare of Ethernet failure. Gone are the days of phone lines and ISDN connections, all the audio and video is now sent back to the studio over the technological miracle that is the internet. It is a ton of faith our industry has been forced to place in a single mode of delivery.

Take that anxiety and multiply it by 1,000 when that Ethernet line is connected to a Comrex unit for the most important moment of your career. LaVicka had the great fortune of a Kansas State timeout to try something, anything, to save the day. In his quick thinking, he spun around and grabbed an ethernet cable from row two which, as it turns out, still had internet access flowing through it’s cables. That cable, though, was the equivalent of an iPhone charging cord; never as long as you need it to be.

One of LaVicka’s co-workers from ESPN West Palm held the Comrex unit close enough to the second row for the cable to make a connection and the day was saved. LaVicka was able to call the last :15 of the Florida Atlantic win and, presumably, get in all the necessary sponsorship mentions.

It was an exciting end to the FAU v. Kansas State game, a great defensive stop by the Owls to seal the victory. LaVicka told the NCAA’s Andy Katz he tried to channel his inner Jim Nantz to relay that excitement. The NCAA Tournament excitement started early this year. In the very first TV window 13 Seed Furman upset 4 Seed Virginia with a late three pointer by JP Pegues, who had been 0-for-15 from beyond the arc leading up to that shot. It is the type of play the NCAA Tournament is built upon.

It was called in the manner Kevin Harlan’s career was built upon. Harlan, alongside Stan Van Gundy and Dan Bonner, called the Virginia turnover leading to the made Furman basket with his trademark excitement before laying out for the crowd reaction. After a few seconds of crowd excitement he asked his analysts, and the world, “Did we just see what I think we saw? Wow!” Vintage Kevin Harlan.

One reason we are so aware of what Harlan said, and that he signaled his analysts to lay out for the crowd reaction, was a CBS Sports tweet with video of Harlan, Van Gundy and Bonner in a split screen over the play. It gave us a rare look at a pro in the middle of his craft. We got to see that Harlan reacts just like he sounds. The video has more than six million views and has been retweeted more than 6,000 times, a lot of people seem to like it.

Kevin Harlan is not in that group. Harlan appeared on Richard Deitsch’s Sports Media podcast after the video went public and said he was embarrassed by it. Harlan added he “begged” CBS not send the tweet out but to no avail. Harlan told Deitsch “I don’t know that I’m glad that they caught our expression, but I’m glad the game was on the air. I think I join a chorus of other announcers who do not like the camera.”

There’s a valuable announcer lesson from Harlan there; the audience is almost always there for the game, not you. Harlan went on to describe the broadcast booth to Deitsch as somewhat of a sacred place. He would prefer to let his words accompany the video of the action to tell the story. Kevin Harlan is as good as they come at his craft, if he thinks that way, there’s probably great value in that line of thought.

We can learn from LaVicka, as well. You work in this business long enough and you come to accept technical difficulties are as much a part of it as anything. They always seem to strike at the worst times, it is just in their nature. Those who can find a way to deal with them without everything melting down are those who can give their audience what they showed up for. Those who lose their mind and spend time complaining about them during the production simply give the audience information they don’t really care about.

The Final Four is an unlikely collection of teams; Miami, San Diego State, Connecticut and Florida Atlantic. You all had that in your brackets, right? Yep, the Florida Atlantic Owls are going to the Final Four and Ken LaVicka will be there for it. Now, if the internet will just hold out.

Continue Reading


Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2023 Barrett Media.