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Mike and Mike’s Differences Helped Make Them Great

Jason Barrett

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Mike and Mike

In 1998, I was just learning how the radio business worked. I was at a small station that powered down at night, making $200 per week, and had no idea if this industry was one I wanted to build a career in. My son Dylan hadn’t even been born yet and I had a full head of hair, although the early signs of scalp evacuations had just begun.

During that same year, Bill Clinton became president. John Elway won his first Super Bowl, defeating Brett Favre’s Green Bay Packers 31-24. The New York Yankees won the World Series, sweeping the San Diego Padres, and Michael Jordan was knocking down a jumper after moving Byron Russell aside to lead the Chicago Bulls to another NBA Title at the expense of the Utah Jazz.

All of that happened just as Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic were crossing paths and preparing to embark on a radio adventure together, one which has lasted for nineteen years. Greeny and Golic became a true staple of sports radio and television and it’s hard to believe that we’ve reached the end of the line when each still has plenty to offer. Golic will continue soon on the radio with Trey Wingo and his son Mike Jr. and Greeny will move over to television to launch a new show “Get Up” in 2018 on ESPN.

Before Mike and Mike were born, there was Bruno and Golic. Tony Bruno and Mike Golic owned the morning drive real estate on ESPN Radio from 1995 to 1998 and had Tony not left, who knows if the past 19 years of sports radio and television history would’ve gone the way they have. But so much in life is about timing, and the way this story has evolved had everything to do with it.

When ESPN began looking for a replacement for Bruno, the idea of Greenberg becoming the permanent host wasn’t high on anyone’s list. It wasn’t even a job that was attractive to Greenberg. He considered the opportunity because he thought it would help him earn more recognition from network executives, paving the way to a higher profile position on television. In fact, Greeny insisted on remaining involved as a host on SportsCenter, doing more than 100 shows per year for 11 years.

At that time, Greenberg was seen as a SportsCenter anchor with a future in television. Golic had little familiarity with him. Complicating things further was the perception of the radio network. Clearance of ESPN Radio’s programming was minimal, and although the network’s lineup featured some great hosts such as Golic, Dan Patrick, Tony Kornheiser and Chuck Wilson, it hadn’t yet become the national powerhouse that it is today.

But then something happened.

Five minutes before the first audition together in 1998, the two men began chatting. Greenberg began busting Golic’s balls over his weight, and being the self-deprecating guy that he is, Golic had fun with it. Greeny has told the story numerous times of how he referred to the pair as a number 10, Golic being the burger and himself being the bun, and their immediate chemistry, humor and differences opened the door for the two to become a permanent team. Even Golic’s wife took notice during the audition process, telling her husband “he’s the one.”

ESPN worked the two Mikes together for a number of additional shows and began talking to Greeny about becoming part of the mix in 99, finally making them the network’s morning show in 2000. They haven’t looked back since. Mike and Mike became the national sports radio soundtrack for hundreds of stations across the country and along the way earned an induction into the NAB Radio Hall of Fame in 2016.

If ever there was a slogan that perfectly described a show, it was the one that Mike and Mike embraced. “What makes them different, makes them great” was how the network described the program, and everything from their on-air content execution to their radio promos, TV commercials and appearances on TV shows, sitcoms and movies, all captured that branding. They were radio’s version of Felix and Oscar (The Odd Couple), a louder and heavier alpha-male former jock sharing the same space with the thin, bright, dorky, metrosexual sports fan turned broadcaster. Individually and collectively they had a firm grasp on who they were and understood what made their combination appealing to the audience.

It was Greeny and Golic’s success that sparked stations across the country to further explore on-air combinations featuring broadcasters and athletes. The growth of their program on television led to the network gaining confidence to introduce additional radio-television simulcasts. Plus those who made an impact on the show behind the scenes, often found themselves advancing in their careers. As a result of working with Mike and Mike, Pete Gianesini, Justin Craig, Scott Shapiro, Ray Necci, Jason Romano, Amanda Gifford and Liam Chapman all moved up the ladder. A number of others in our industry have gained bigger roles too after working with Greeny and Golic.

I was fortunate to be at the network between 2004-2006 when the show started to gain traction and a bigger focus from network executives. Bruce Gilbert was a big proponent of Mike and Mike. He believed in the pair being given stronger exposure. Given that they were on the air during morning drive, it made a lot of sense. Prior to that, the network had placed a bigger emphasis on middays with Dan Patrick and Tony Kornheiser.

Although they did a lot right, Mike and Mike weren’t without faults. Earlier in his career Greeny would shy away from accepting guests on the show who he had been previously critical of. The Mike and Mike wedding in 2006 was an event which left many in the building confused by, even though some executives liked how it produced additional publicity for the show outside of sports circles. Golic had his share of times on the air where it was clear he wasn’t dialed in on what happened the night before, and the show’s conservative approach in delivering opinions and confronting guests drew frustration from fellow media members and led executives to constantly tinker with the show in search of more opinion, even installing rotating third hosts at one point.

When you add it all up, the highs certainly outweigh the lows. If you execute a show under the nation’s eyes and ears for over 19 years, you’re going to have some ups and downs. Nonetheless, there was no better national program in recognizing which topics mattered most to sports fans each morning. If a major story broke, you knew Mike and Mike would be on it. When newsmakers needed to be heard from, Mike and Mike had them. You could drive your kid to school, watch the show with your wife or girlfriend, or listen at your office desk and know that it’d be topical, informative, entertaining and comfortable. More importantly, you knew they’d be themselves.

The criticisms that have been directed at Greeny and Golic throughout the years have often been due to not relating to their personalities or style. That’s understandable. No show strikes a perfect chord with every listener. But as people, Mike and Mike were comfortable in their skin and they executed that way on the air. They were proud of the fact that they presented a sports show which a family could listen to. They were OK with not diving into discussions that divided a room. They accepted that some people wouldn’t tune them in because they weren’t edgy enough or willing to embrace men’s room humor.

Some shows relied on aggressive language, colorful humor and hot takes to make their points. Mike and Mike took a different path. They trusted their smarts, chemistry, love for sports and the best sports guest list in morning drive to help them win. They weren’t afraid to have fun either. Whether it meant Greeny milking a cow, professing his love for Chad Pennington in song or dressing up as Justin Bieber, Mike Golic being waxed, recreating the Kim Kardashian nude photo or stuffing his face with donuts, bits being created with Joaquin (Curt Kaplan), Liam’s mom and Frank Caliendo, or the two men joining forces to execute longtime benchmarks like the “Just Shut Up” award and “Stone Cold Lead Pipe Locks”, Greeny and Golic delivered a good blend of laughter and learning in a way that made sense to them.

That may not sit well with everyone, especially some local media members, but what I appreciate about it is that they understood who they were, what they wanted to be, and why it was important to stick to their principles. Authenticity is vital to any show’s success and Mike and Mike found their own way to succeed for 19 years. Their run together produced healthy ratings for a number of markets including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Pittsburgh, Columbus, St. Louis and New York. I’m likely leaving out a few others but you get the point.

Too many times in our business we look to find faults in individuals and shows rather than understanding and appreciating their styles and strengths. Mike and Mike became the morning sports page for fans across the nation on a network as large as ESPN for close to two decades because they were dependable, topical, informative and entertaining. Their chemistry was off the charts but above all else, they were genuine and honest.

On this final day of their show, I thought it was worth highlighting how they left us with one final memory and lesson.

If you follow Mike and Mike on Twitter, you’ve likely noticed over the past month how Greeny, Golic, and their production staff have engaged with listeners via tweets and videos. Huge credit to Megan Judge on leading the charge to implement the way these guys have closed out their show on social media. The Mike and Mike twitter account has over 1.6 million followers and responding to the flood of activity they’ve been hit with must’ve been daunting yet they’ve made it a point to be consistent. They’ve used the hashtag #MMSayThanks and have gone above and beyond to thank listeners individually for their support, many times personalizing their commentaries.

By utilizing this strategy, Mike and Mike showed their audience that they pay attention and appreciate their support. Since introducing the approach to wind down the show, a number of high profile sports figures and organizations have gotten involved, passing along tweets, photos and videos thanking the duo for an amazing run. That type of publicity is invaluable.

I’ve been critical of our industry in the past for its lack of social engagement. Too often I see brands push content at people yet fail to acknowledge or respond when listeners try to interact. However, this was a great example of acknowledging, respecting, and personally connecting with the audience. Each time Mike and Mike and their crew weighed in on social media, their fans told others about it. Listeners and viewers were made to feel special which in return gives those fans reason to root for both men’s future success.

As I wrap this up, I want to thank Greeny and Golic for being great peers, partners, and professionals. They made the morning commute for millions of people a lot less stressful and more enjoyable, and their place in the history of the sports media business can never be taken away. Everything we do in sports broadcasting circles back to connecting with an audience. Little differences help make us unique and worth spending time with. For Mike and Mike, it was enough to earn them nineteen wonderful years on the air, a hall of fame honor, and a lifetime of memories, connections and friendships. If that isn’t the definition of success, then I’m not really sure what is.

Barrett Blogs

Jeff Catlin, John Mamola, Gordy Rush & Maggie Clifton Join The 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

Jason Barrett

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We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on BSMSummit.com.

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit BSMSummit.com.

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Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett

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As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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California College Students Earn Chance to Win 10 Free Tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit Thanks to Steve Kamer Voiceovers

“In order to win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event.”

Jason Barrett

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With a new year comes renewed energy and optimism for the sports media business. Yours truly is looking forward to showcasing the best our business has to offer when we gather the industry in Los Angeles, CA at the 2023 BSM Summit at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California on March 21-22, 2023. Our conference is returning to the west coast for the first time since 2019. We’ve announced some super talented speakers. We’ve got additional things in the works and I plan to make additional announcements in the next few weeks.

People often ask me what the biggest challenge is putting this event together. My answer is always the same, it’s getting people to leave the comfort of their office and spend two days in a room together learning and discussing ways to grow the business. We have great sponsorship support and exceptional people on stage and are fortunate to have a lot of folks already set to attend. Our venue this year has extra space though, so I’m hoping a few more of you make time to join us. If you haven’t bought a ticket or reserved your hotel room, visit BSMSummit.com to make sure you’re all set.

If there’s one thing our industry could get better at it’s opening our minds to new ideas and information. There’s more than one path to success. Just because you’re in good shape today doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. Building brands, growing audiences, increasing revenue, and examining new opportunities is an ongoing process. There are many shifts along the way. We may not solve every business challenge during our two-days together but you’ll leave the room more connected and informed than when you entered it.

Each year I’ll get two or three emails from folks sharing that they learned more about the industry in two-days at the Summit than they have in ___ years inside of their building. That’s truly gratifying and what I strive to achieve when I put this event together. I remember when conferences like this didn’t exist for format folks and I take the risk and invest the time and resources to create it because I love the sports media industry and believe I can help it thrive. I see great value in gathering professionals to share ideas, information, and meet others who can help them grow their business, and if we do our part, I’m confident some will want to work with us too. That’s how we benefit over the long haul.

But as much as I focus on serving the professional crowd, I also think we have a responsibility to educate young people who are interested, passionate, and taking steps to be a part of our business in the future. The BSM website is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each month and it’s become a valuable resource for folks who enjoy sports radio and television. I think it’s vital to use our platform, influence and two-day event to connect generations and I’m happy to announce that we will once again welcome college students at this year’s Summit.

Most of us who’ve been in this line of work for two or three decades learned the business without podcasts, YouTube, social media, the web or conferences delivering two full days of sessions that taught you more about the business than what’s available inside of a class room. We learned by doing, and hoping we were right. Then we copied others who had success. Some of that still exists, and that’s not a bad thing. But where our business goes in the future is going to be drastically different.

I’d like to see the difference makers in our format remembered for years to come, and practices that have stood the test of time remain valued down the line. Change is inevitable in every business and I’m excited about the road that lies ahead especially some of the technological advancements that are now available or will soon become a bigger part of our industry. I think we can embrace the future while enjoying the present and celebrating the past. The best way to do that is by bringing together everyone who is and is hoping to be a part of the sports media universe.

So here’s two things we’re doing to make sure future broadcasters have an opportunity to learn with us.

First, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Steve Kamer Voiceovers. Thanks to Steve’s generosity, TEN (10) college students will be given FREE tickets to attend the 2023 BSM Summit in March. Steve is a USC graduate (Class of 1985) and he bought the ten tickets to help young people learn about the industry, save money and make valuable connections. When I first received his order, I thought he hit the wrong button. I reached out to tell him a mistake was made and I needed to refund him. That’s when he told me what he wanted to do for students who were pursuing their broadcasting dreams just as we both did years ago. A very classy gesture on his part.

As it pertains to the contest, here’s how it’s going to work.

To win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event. Included in your email should be a list of steps that you’ve taken or are pursuing to explore opportunities in the media industry. If you want to pass along a resume and audio or video clips too to showcase your work and experience, that’s fine as well. BSM will accept submissions until February 17th. The winners will be announced on Friday February 24th.

Helping me select the winners will be an exceptional panel of media executives. Each of these folks below will choose one person to attend our L.A. event. The final two will be picked by Steve Kamer and myself.

  • Scott Shapiro – Senior Vice President, FOX Sports Radio
  • Justin Craig – Senior Program Director, ESPN Radio
  • Jeff Sottolano – Executive Vice President, Programming, Audacy
  • Bruce Gilbert – Senior Vice President of Sports, Cumulus Media & Westwood One
  • Amanda Gifford – Vice President, Content Strategy & Audio, ESPN
  • Jacob Ullman – Senior Vice President, Production and Talent Development, FOX Sports
  • Greg Strassell – Senior Vice President, Programming, Hubbard Radio
  • Scott Sutherland – Executive Vice President, Bonneville International

To qualify for the BSM Summit College Contest, students must be enrolled in college in the state of California, pursuing a degree that involves course work either in radio, television, print or the digital business. Those attending local trade schools with a focus on broadcasting are also welcome to participate. You must be able to take care of your own transportation and/or lodging.

This is a contest I enjoy running. We’ve had great participation during our prior two shows in New York City but haven’t done it before on the west coast. I’m hoping it’s helpful to California students and look forward to hearing from many of them during the next month.

For students who live out of state and wish to attend or those enrolled at local universities who enter the contest but aren’t lucky enough to win one of the ten free tickets from Steve Kamer Voiceovers, we are introducing a special two-day college ticket for just $124.99. You must provide proof that you’re currently in school to take advantage of the offer. This ticket gives you access to all of our sessions inside the Founders Club. College tickets will be limited to forty (40) seats so take advantage of the opportunity before it expires.

The 2023 BSM Summit will feature award ceremonies with Emmis Communication CEO Jeff Smulyan and legendary WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, sessions with influential on-air talent such as Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, and Mina Kimes, big picture business conversations with executives from groups such as Audacy, iHeart, Bonneville, Good Karma Brands, Barstool, The Volume, Omaha Productions and more. For details on tickets and hotel rooms visit BSMsummit.com.

I look forward to seeing you in March in Los Angeles!

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