VSiN (Vegas Stats & Information Network), the first network dedicated to delivering daily information about sports gambling, and Sports USA, the nation’s largest independent syndicator of live radio play-by-play, have announced a strategic content partnership. The two companies are joining forces to create a sports gambling pre-game show which will air ahead of Sports USA’s coverage of its NFL doubleheader, presently carried by nearly 500 stations across the country.
“There’s no more credible voice in sports gambling than VSiN and we’re glad to be able to provide listeners of our NFL broadcasts with the information they need when it’s most relevant,” said Larry Kahn, founder and CEO, Sports USA.
“As expanding legalization introduces more Americans to sports gambling, those fans need credible, actionable news and exclusive insights to help inform their betting decisions,” said VSiN CEO, Brian Musburger. “We’re thrilled to partner with Sports USA to get that credible information to millions of NFL fans just ahead of kick-off. ”
Starting this weekend, the VSiN Sunday Preview will air at 11:30 AM ET, 8:30 AM PT on Sports USA stations leading into coverage of its early NFL Game. The 60-minute show will provide Sports USA’s millions of listeners with the sports gambling information and analysis they need just ahead of the week’s biggest game.
VSiN already provides Action Updates — one-minute news reports with the latest odds — to more than 40 radio stations throughout the United States, including 670 The Score in Chicago, 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and KNBR the Sports Leader in San Francisco.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Shams Charania Wants to Work With People Who Are As Hungry As He Is
“There’s not really an offseason for the NBA, and I think that’s what makes the league fun…that’s what makes it so exciting and makes you want to get up every day in the morning.”
The NBA has year-round appeal with its fans craving coverage of the sport regardless if there are games on the calendar. Once the offseason arrives – specifically the free agent signing period – fans often turn on Twitter notifications for the accounts of select NBA insiders so they find out the news as soon as it is reported. Just how to become one of those insiders, like Shams Charania, who possess a rolodex of sources and the ability to break news is difficult though, as it requires mastering a combination of writing, networking and reporting differentiable from others.
Shams Charania was breaking news in the Association from the time he was a college student at Loyola University in Chicago. Oftentimes, he would be glued to his phone, calling sources or tweeting out new information in the midst of classes or shuttle rides. His college life was eccentric, as he sought to build off of his nascent love for basketball and penchant for writing fostered in his sophomore year at New Trier Township High School.
“I wanted to work and be around the game of basketball and be around the NBA for as long as I possibly could because I loved it,” Charania said, “and at one point, I obviously wished I could play but that’s obviously not the calling for everyone.”
At the age of 17, Charania spoke to Jimmy Greenfield, who operated ChicagoNow, a subsidiary of The Chicago Tribune, as he was looking to start a Chicago Bulls blog. Working unpaid, Charania developed his journalism skills and utilized his intrinsic work ethic to become conspicuously known as an adequate, intelligent reporter – accumulating the repetitions necessary in the industry to develop a portfolio and relevant previous experience.
“I was writing multiple times per day [at] multiple thousands of words – literally religiously a day – so that I could be covering a game; I could be covering an analysis story off of a transaction that happened,” Charania said. “It’s as if I was a beat writer for the Bulls when I was writing on that ChicagoNow blog, and at least I was trying to put in the hours and really the time in my writing which allowed me to find my voice.”
While he was in school though, Charania was working as a nursing unit concierge at Skokie Hospital on the same floor as his mother. Charania’s parents both immigrated to the United States from Pakistan in the 1980s, and originally wanted him to work as a doctor or a lawyer instead of reporting on professional basketball. Through his time at the hospital, Charania developed skills related to interacting with people and staying organized while balancing his duties as a reporter.
As a freshman in college, Charania had moved to writing for RealGM where he primarily wrote stories based on one-on-one interviews or was contextualizing game results. While he was in high school, Charania had shared his work with Chris Reina, the executive editor and chief marketing officer of RealGM, along with other basketball-focused websites.
Through persistent communication and maintaining a professional demeanor, Charania stood out from other aspiring reporters and ran with the opportunity he had been afforded. Additionally, he continued to reach out to decision makers in the basketball world to build contacts and a network to attain information, intensifying his efforts as he observed that people were willing to talk to him.
“It showed me there are a lot of great people in this industry… because when I think back, I was this teenage kid that was reaching out and cold-calling and cold-texting and cold-emailing people,” Charania said. “There really wasn’t much rhyme or reason for people to reach out to me. In some ways, you’re fortunate; you’re lucky and I’m grateful every day I’m able to do something I love.”
Before Charania started at Loyola University Chicago, he interviewed former Miami Heat shooting guard and three-time NBA champion Dwayne Wade at a charity event. A few months later, he attended his first press conference in Milwaukee when the Bucks introduced new draft selections Doron Lamb and John Henson. This helped Charania develop experience being present around the team, and it inspired him to want to start enterprising stories through original reporting. Moreover, he left his job at the hospital, much to the chagrin of his parents, so he could allocate more time to expanding his journalistic skills.
“It definitely was a balancing act,” Charania said of his college career. “There wasn’t really much time for me to spend socially. I was either going to classes or I was writing or I was trying to travel to Indiana or Milwaukee to go cover games…. I tried to put myself in as many experiences as possible when it came to covering regular season games; playoff games; [and] doing as many interviews as I could.”
Although he attended school in Chicago, Charania had to travel to either Milwaukee or Indianapolis to cover NBA games since the Bulls would not give him a media credential because of his age. In spite of the geographic inconvenience, he realized the importance of being present at professional basketball games to foster genuine relationships with players, coaches, executives and other team personnel – hence why he made frequent trips to both locales.
Networking has been an invaluable aspect of Charania’s professional development and the fact that he was comfortable reaching out to people and garnered professionalism in his approach rendered him a rarity compared to most other young reporters.
“A lot of the communication and the dialogue that I have can span hundreds and hundreds of text messages; emails; phone calls,” Charania expressed. “It’s just that constant back-and-forth – that dialogue – [and] really being there at any moment…. I value the relationships that I’ve made in this industry and I’ve been able to have since I started off.”
Charania joined Twitter in August 2010 and worked at fostering professional working relationships with sources in the world of basketball, setting him up to start breaking transactional-related news. In March 2013, Charania reported that forward Shavlik Randolph was returning to the NBA to sign a 10-day contract with the Boston Celtics – indicative of his first news break on the medium.
From there, he broke other contracts, including another 10-day deal for Malcolm Thomas with the Chicago Bulls, along with trades, most notably a blockbuster deal that sent forward Luol Deng from the Bulls to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“That was a rush of excitement and that rush of excitement still exists which lets me know that I still really, really love what I do,” Charania said. “I think it was definitely fun at that point.”
The Deng trade was a scoop many veteran NBA journalists were looking to get first and engendered even more of an augmentation in his credibility and stature in the reporting landscape. It caught the attention of Wojnarowski, who at the time was working for Yahoo Sports, and proceeded to tweet that Charania was “the best young reporter in the business.”
From his formative days as a reporter though, Charania recognized the threat of sources fabricating information to supplement their own agendas or those of their employers, hence why he has always triangulated his external reporting to ensure accuracy and precision.
“It’s something, even now, where you have a strong, strong pit in your stomach,” Charania said. “….I would rather miss a story than put something out and be even 99.9% about it. I always want to be 100% with everything that I put out.”
Charania tries to focus on the parts of his job in which he has oversight, such as his interactions, accountability and communications with sources. While he competes with other writers, he is equally competing with himself to try to expand his potential to be a multi-faceted journalist and trying to attain his goals on a daily basis.
“I’ve always felt like I’ve had tunnel vision and I kind of have blinders on in the sense of I just try to focus [on] what I can control because there’s a lot that’s out of my control,” Charania said. “….I think just like in any field whether it’s the players; whether it’s the executives; whether it’s the training staffs – in any field you go to in life in business or the workforce, there’s going to be some level of competition even when it is within yourself.”
One year after he broke the Deng trade, Charania joined Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports – while he was still a junior earning his undergraduate degree in communications. Charania had the opportunity to work alongside many accomplished reporters in the world of basketball with the launch of the company’s basketball platform The Vertical, including Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks, Chris Mannix, and Michael Lee.
“That group was super, super, super talented,” Charania said. “Just think about the collection of people that were there. You look now – it’s second to none…. It was definitely just a moment that I’ll always remember and cherish and definitely that was my first moment being on camera.”
The platform implemented on-camera appearances by talent, giving Charania the chance to gain exposure to transitioning his reporting skills to being on screen, and as a result bolstered his versatility. It also helped him realize the genuine year-round appeal of the NBA as compared to other sports leagues and his role in helping to facilitate interest in the sport itself.
“There’s not really an offseason for the NBA, and I think that’s what makes the league fun and also my job and my task and my goal on a daily basis to inform and share and shed light to the audience,” Charania said. “That’s what makes it so exciting and makes you want to get up every day in the morning.”
Through his time with Yahoo Sports, Charania broke several stories, including DeMar DeRozan inking a new contract to remain with the Toronto Raptors, Dwight Howard signing with the Atlanta Hawks and Luol Deng joining the Los Angeles Lakers. In the process, he gained a robust social media following and further cemented himself as an adequate sports reporter.
Now as Twitter transitions under new owner Elon Musk, Charania recognizes the role of social media platforms as a whole and their role in expediting the promulgation of news.
“I don’t know if someone at my age when I was first starting off would have been able to get the eyes and ears of the audience without social media,” Charania posited. “Whether that’s Twitter or Instagram, those definitely played roles in that.”
For many years, Adrian Wojnarowski had been the de facto NBA insider with fans declaring his news breaks as “Woj Bombs” due to the impact the announcements garnered. Yet over the last decade, Wojnarowski has had more visible competition on the platform, including with younger journalists such as Charania. Today, many basketball fans keep track of which one of them gets the news first and while there is evidently competition between all insiders, being first is something Charania will always sacrifice in terms of ensuring accuracy.
“It’s 100% more important and most important to be correct,” Charania said. “The goal is, for sure, to be correct and first. It would be great to have both all the time, but more than anything, it’s definitely much, much more important to be accurate.”
Charania left Yahoo Sports in 2018 to join Paul Fichtenbaum at The Athletic, a job that came to him because of a previously-established relationship. Prior to working as the chief content officer at the sports journalism outlet, Fichtenbaum was the editor-in-chief of Sports Illustrated and was cognizant of Charania’s potential not just in journalism, but in sports media as a whole.
After meeting with Fichtenbaum both in-person and over the phone, an agreement was reached – and Charania was officially a senior NBA insider and writer with The Athletic.
At the same time, Charania sought to continue crafting his on-camera skills, specifically those related to interviewing, prompting him to explore an opportunity with Stadium, a digital sports network under the auspices of Sinclair Broadcast Group.
A deal to join the outlet was reached after several meetings with CEO Jason Coyle and current Senior Vice President and General Manager Adam Anshell thanks to a provision that allowed writers with The Athletic to appear on other media platforms.
“I wanted to align myself with people who were equally as hungry [and] as driven to be the best versions of themselves as possible and I saw that from the jump,” Charania said of both media outlets. “I think that natural attraction was there from the beginning.”
While Charania breaks news for both outlets, he is primarily writing with The Athletic and doing on-camera work with Stadium. In both roles, he seeks to be accurate in his reporting rather than being first to a story.
An example of a situation Charania looks to avoid occurred earlier this week at the Baseball Winter Meetings when baseball columnist at The New York Post and insider at MLB Network Jon Heyman publicized that Aaron Judge was close to reaching a deal with the San Francisco Giants. Minutes later, Heyman deleted his gaffe from Twitter, which contained Judge’s name misspelled as “Arson,” and proceeded to apologize for “jumping the gun;” however, he had already drawn the ire of baseball fans for the false report.
“I think I’ve built a level of comfort and I’ve built a foundation of… sources and contacts from the people that I feel very comfortable trying to get to the truth at the end of the day,” Charania said. “I think what we do, especially what I do and what my colleagues do at The Athletic and what we do at Stadium [is] about being accurate and first for sure, but also understanding that we’re here for the audience; we’re here for the fans; we’re here for the people that want to know what’s going on in the league from every vantage point.”
Throughout his time with The Athletic and Stadium, Charania has reported on a countless number of blockbuster transactions, injuries and other league news. Some of his most recent news breaks include forward Zion Williamson’s contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans; a physical altercation at a practice involving Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green; and the return of Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving from his team suspension.
No reports, however, compared to the moment he broke the news that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020, leading to the indefinite suspension of the NBA season minutes later.
“I never thought that I would be reporting in a year and a time when we’re not only talking about on-court basketball news, but you’re talking about health in a pandemic; you’re talking about social justice,” Charania reflected. “Everything that happened in 2020; it was such a learning experience [and]… I was fortunate to have the group that I had around me at The Athletic and Stadium.”
Charania, 28, recently signed multi-year contract extensions to remain with both media outlets and also joined FanDuel TV to provide viewers with the latest NBA-related news and information on Run it Back. The show is hosted by former ESPN host Michelle Beadle and former NBA forward Chandler Parsons and brings viewers the latest happenings from around the NBA, along with discussion of sports betting trends.
“I’m in a position where I have a partnership with FanDuel and I think [with] them, similarly to when I first signed with The Athletic and Stadium, there’s a level of passion, hunger and desire; eyes wide openness to FanDuel TV to grow in this industry,” Charania said. “I think that’s what definitely drew me to them and made them appealing for me to partner with.”
Being able to determine the best means of dissemination for news and other content is the challenge for Charania in working with three different media outlets at once. Today, many writers are appearing on broadcast communication outlets, including television, radio and podcasts, requiring them to alter content presentation to appeal to different types of audiences. Through it all, the predilection for basketball is strong and a driving force for interest and consumption.
“There are times when I tweet news out in the moment and we’re able to get a headline up on The Athletic, and on Stadium and FanDuel I’m able to speak on it from a video perspective,” Charania explained. “Those are some of the different avenues and decision-makings that go in on a daily basis to figure out when and where makes the most sense. I think, for the most part, I’ve been able to manage it and handle it well.”
As his career continues to progress, Charania looks to improve his on-air presence and work to sustain his growth in numerous areas of the industry. While he knows nothing will ever be completely perfect, he hopes to attain as close of a level to it as possible and heavily critiques his writing and television work.
“I think everything I just need to do at a higher level,” he said. “I feel like I have a long way to go on everything and that keeps me motivated. Other than that, I just stay day-to-day… and just try to do the best that I can on a daily basis.”
Charania also looks to inspire the next generation of aspiring sports media professionals to discover their interests and subsequently pursue them. His determination and relentless pursuit in building a career has led him to become one of the most eminent and versatile sports reporters in the world at a young age, always staying ready for his next story whatever that may turn out to be. It would never have happened without his infatuation towards the game of basketball and the thousands of words he wrote per day from the time he was in high school.
“I think all those moments [and] those years of repetitions… definitely allowed me to find a voice,” Charania said. “Whether that’s through articles, video, on camera, podcasts, radio; just finding a voice [is essential] because that’s what will help and allow you to really see what it is your passion is.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Steve Mason: All I’ve Ever Wanted Is To Be in the B Chair
“Like it would be fun to just show up and goof around, and that’s what we’re doing now.”
Steve Mason is entering uncharted territory over the next couple days on 710 ESPN in Los Angeles.
Mason was filling in for Travis Rodgers during the final hour of Travis and Sliwa on Thursday, and Mason hadn’t had many chances to serve as the “B” host of a show.
“So people know, the guy who talks first is generally the A, and then the reactor is the B,” Mason explained. Rodgers left the show ahead of the program’s third hour to head to SoFi Stadium so he could host the pregame show ahead of the L.A. Rams game on Thursday Night Football “And I longed to be the B. Like it would be fun to just show up and goof around, and that’s what we’re doing now.”
Mason typically serves as the “A” host on his own show, Mason and Ireland, alongside John Ireland. On Friday from 1-3 Pacific, Mason will be hosting along with Scott Kaplan, who hosts Sedano & Kap with Jorge Sedano.
Allen Silwa said he anticipates that show to be all over the place, but Mason said “A” and “B” host roles probably didn’t matter in terms of what he was doing with Kaplan on Friday.
But Mason joked that whatever comes of it will be fun to check out.
“Me, Kap, I mean send in the clowns,” he said. “Geez.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Media Noise: What Impact Do Bob Iger & Coach Prime Have On Sports Media?
Angelo Cataldi, Bob Iger and Deion Sanders are in the spotlight this week. Demetri Ravanos welcomes Ian Casselberry and Eddie Moran to Media Noise.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at DemetriTheGreek@gmail.com.