Matt Moscona’s Show Has To Look As Good As It Sounds
“I always have to be conscious of how I look as well as how the visual elements are going to accompany everything I talk about.”
Lights, camera, action!
Now there’s a phrase that’s never been synonymous with sports radio. It may never be, but you can’t ignore just how much video is making its way into the world of sports radio. Some stations are constantly streaming on Twitch, while others are using short video clips on social media to promote their content. But if there’s one thing that shows just how much the medium has grown over the years, it’s the ability and willingness to put radio shows on live television.
Every weekday from 3-6 p.m. CST in Baton Rouge, Matt Moscona is in front of a camera while doing a sports radio show. That’s because Cox Sports Television made the commitment to air all three hours of his show After Further Review on its live programing.
There’s obvious advantages to having your radio show on live TV. Most importantly, it means Moscona’s face is in living rooms all across Louisiana each day. That’s priceless advertisement. But even as appealing as that sounds, the logistics of doing a show that works well on both TV and radio can be challenging.
“It does completely change the approach in studio,” said Moscona. “I always have to be conscious of how I look as well as how the visual elements are going to accompany everything I talk about. Our company, when they made the capital investment into building the TV studio, they spent a lot of money on a graphics deal and we basically contracted with the same company that provides graphics for ESPN. When you look at the visual elements that we have, it looks like something you’d see on a major network. That helps tremendously.
“The other part is for every topic I’m prepping, I have to consider what visual elements might accompany it. Sometimes, it’s a tweet we can grab and put on the screen. Sometimes it’s images or videos that we can use. We have a partnership with a local television company, WBRZ, and they offer us their video, as well. But it’s definitely different.”
Though the graphics aspect of the show really sets everything off and presents a unique feature, it requires a lot of time. Not only does Moscona have to prep his entire three-hour show, but he also has to plan which graphics are going to look best with the segments he has planned. Plus, instead of just one radio producer, he also has a video producer that he always has to be in-sync with.
“My video producer manages the graphics and handles everything you see,” said Moscona. “The one component I control, which is interesting and takes some multi-tasking, I have a tablet where the video producer can take my screen and go live with it. Sometimes it’s easier, I’ll pull up a tweet and he can put it up.
“In some respects, I’m hosting and directing, which is odd. It’s something I’ve gotten better at, but that relationship with me and my video producer, Paul, that’s just something where he has to anticipate what I’m going to do before I do it. Similarly, I have to do the same with him, in terms of anticipating where he’s going to go with the camera.
“The studio is built as an OTT platform and when we launched it, Cox came to us and said they loved it and wanted to carry it. It makes sense, right? That’s 15 hours of programming a week for them that’s live and unique content”
The TV deal with Cox Sports Televisions is an awesome one for Moscona. That much is certain. But how beneficial is it to his station ESPN Baton Rouge?
Sure, some revenue comes in from Cox, but with such a difficult setup, that means Moscona can never be on remote. If the show can’t make money selling live broadcasts, then another source of income has to be created. That requires some out of the box thinking.
“Whenever we built out the TV studio, we cancelled remotes for my show,” said Moscona. “100 percent. So one challenge was to make up the revenue of remote money. The way we counter-balanced that was that we sold title sponsors for every day of the week.
“I have an independent insurance agency that’s a client of mine and I was doing a remote there. They said it was great and they were getting all these calls and walk-ins and I was just sitting in a conference room of their office. They said, man, you almost didn’t even need to be here, the mentions were plenty.
“That gave me a light bulb moment, it was like ding! Essentially, the way we sell our title sponsors is I say the exact same things I would say if I was on remote, but instead, I’ll just be in studio. Then we’ll have panels and graphics on the screen, so they get plenty of run out of that. Everybody has been super receptive to it.”
Granted, it’s not impossible to take After Further Review out of the studio, but it’s really difficult and only been done once. It was to cover an event that almost seems mandatory to attend if you’re any kind of sports media member in the Southeast.
“Last year at SEC Media Days was the first time we took the show on the road,” said Moscona. “So I had an on-site video producer that was handling the cameras and switching. Essentially, we shot that feed back to Baton Rouge where I had a video producer in studio that handled the graphics and all the other elements. It was a pretty significant undertaking, and the fact that only two people were handling it is equal parts crazy and impressive. We pulled it off and the plan is to do it again this year.”
So think of yourself, as a show host, with a camera in your face for the entire show. Would you be entertaining to a television audience? How would you supplement those viewers instead of just sitting behind the microphone and talking for three hours? Just like there’s an entertainment aspect on radio, there’s certainly one on TV. Moscona has to find a way to make it entertaining for everyone on both formats.
“Because I have a live feed, I know what shots are going out and I know when I’m on and how to address the camera,” said Moscona. “Admittedly, I try to be a bit more theatrical with my movements so it’s not me just standing still. I talk with my hands a lot anyway, but I just try to make sure that I’m being even more descriptive with my motions.
“Honestly, I think so much of that is having a great video producer who understands how to keep a radio show on television and how to keep it moving. We’re not re-inventing the wheel, there’s plenty of radio shows on TV, but I don’t do anything differently, as far as, how I approach a topic. I always believe that if you’re not passionate about the topic, why would you expect your audience to care? That’s something that’s always in the back of my mind.”
Interviews sound so much better when both parties are in the same room. I don’t think anyone would fight me on that. If not all, just about every single guest Colin Cowherd has is in-studio. That’s the power of Fox Sports Radio and being in Los Angeles, but it only elevates the quality of the show.
Having an in-studio guest plays so much better on TV, but obviously, it’s not always feasible. Though Moscona would love all his guests to be sitting across the table from him, he knows the logistics don’t always work.
“I would love to have every guest in studio,” said Moscona. “You can have a much more personable conversation with somebody face-to-face when you can read body language and non-verbal cues. It’s much easier to carry more natural sounding conversation as opposed to a question-answer, question-answer format. But the reality is just logistics, a lot of the guests I have on are either aren’t in Baton Rouge or can’t make it in the studio that afternoon. Probably 90 percent of our guests are on the phone, but I would welcome any guest to come in studio.”
Tyler McComas is a columnist for BSM and a sports radio talk show host in Norman, OK where he hosts afternoon drive for SportsTalk 1400. You can find him on Twitter @Tyler_McComas or you can email him at TylerMcComas08@yahoo.com.
Disney Has One Logical Choice For The Future – Jimmy Pitaro
“If Bob Iger wants his next successor to come from the sports world, that is his guy. Hell, forget sports. Pitaro may be the best person available no matter how far and wide the search goes.”
Bob Iger’s latest tenure atop the Walt Disney Company fascinates me. The company begged him to come back to clean up the mess made by his handpicked successor, but it was made clear from the get-go that he has a very limited window to get this right and then go home. That is why, less than six months after Iger returned to Burbank, we are already hearing about who will be the next CEO of Disney.
There is reportedly a shortlist of candidates for the job and it is sports-heavy. Two of the four spots are occupied by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. I see the value both men could bring to the job, but I think there is a clear frontrunner and obvious choice.
Jimmy Pitaro is already inside the Disney walls. He has already learned to operate within the Disney hierarchy. He has had to answer investors’ tough questions about budget and direction. If Bob Iger wants his next successor to come from the sports world, that is his guy. Hell, forget sports. Pitaro may be the best person available no matter how far and wide the search goes.
Adam Silver’s tenure as NBA Commissioner is the target of all sorts of criticism, mostly from people that don’t watch the NBA anyway. For all of the pissing and moaning about load management and player empowerment, people are still watching and the league is still as profitable as ever. By the metrics that matter to the people that matter (team owners), he is doing an excellent job.
On a recent episode of Meadowlark Media’s Sports Business, John Skipper made it clear that he loves Silver and thinks he would make an excellent CEO for the Walt Disney Company, but that is a totally different world from the one Silver is currently thriving in.
“My advice would be to stay at the NBA,” the Meadowlark Media boss said. “It’s not a public company. You don’t have to face shareholders. You do have to face 30 NBA owners, but you don’t have activist shareholders. And I think Adam is a committed NBA commissioner. He’s been for a long time.”
The public posturing of Ron DeSantis will always get attention, but it doesn’t always have to be taken seriously. The moment he threatened to dissolve the special district in Central Florida that Walt Disney World operates out of, legal scholars were quick to point out that the proposal would create a major burden on the state and its citizens that no politician wants to be responsible for.
DeSantis wanted his culture war. Disney wanted the problem to go away. The two sides quietly found a compromise that made it look like the governor didn’t lose while Disney got to go on basically with business as usual. That is the kind of corporate policy war whoever takes over for Bob Iger will have to be ready to wage.
Disney needs a salvager in that chair, someone who knows how to diagnose the problems of business relationships and find fixes that hurt each side just enough that both can say the other really took it on the chin. Pitaro is that guy.
Look at ESPN’s relationship with the NFL when he arrived versus where it is now. The company needs someone that makes stars and creators feel like this company is one that it can trust and one that they want to be in business with. Look at what Pitaro has done to bring the Manning Brothers, Pat McAfee, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman under the Disney umbrella while simultaneously finding ways to keep stars like Stephen A. Smith and Bomani Jones happy with non-exclusive deals that allow them to grow their profile with new opportunities outside of the company walls.
Most importantly, no segment of the Walt Disney Company and arguably, no network on basic cable, has had to answer as many questions about the future of distribution as often as ESPN. Jimmy Pitaro has been asked about a future where entertainment is driven solely by the needs of the audience so many times that he has undoubtedly thought about the ups and downs of the streaming landscape more than just about anyone else on Earth.
Bob Iger will be atop Disney through the end of the year and into 2024. This isn’t a decision that is being made tomorrow. Even when it is made, Iger doesn’t just get to write a name down on a piece of paper, slam down an “APPROVED” stamp and go home.
Everyone on that reported shortlist will be vetted by Iger, his confidants, members of the Disney board, and shareholders. Some may wince at the fact they have no idea how Jimmy Pitaro envisions running theme parks and a cruise line, but the reality is that no one checks all the boxes for any job as big as this one until they have been in it for a while.
When you know the perfect fit for a job doesn’t exist, you go looking for the person that is the best fit. I think Bob Iger and Disney have already found him in Bristol, CT.
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.
Michael Kay Couldn’t Leave 98.7 ESPN New York Just Yet
“I wouldn’t want to leave it the way it is right now.”
When a New York Post report back in January suggested that Michael Kay was “seriously contemplating retiring from his 98.7 ESPN New York show”, maybe he was in a dark room in his home thinking about his future.
In his mind, his days of hosting sports talk shows were pretty much over.
“When that story came out, I thought I was definitely not going to come back,” said Kay during a phone interview with Barrett Sports Media. “I almost appreciated it a little bit when Aaron Rodgers said when he went on the dark retreat that he was 90% retired. Well, I’d say I was even more than that. I was probably 95% certain that I was going to walk away in September when my contract was up.”
But between then and now, Kay had a chance of heart and he announced this past Thursday on his show that he had signed a new contract with 98.7 ESPN New York and that his show would continue for “a good long while”.
The decision to stay was not an easy one and, as it turned out, it was his family that played a big role in staying at 98.7 ESPN New York.
“It was really difficult,” said Kay who is also the television play-play-play voice of the New York Yankees on YES Network.
“The most difficult part of it is that my kids are 8 and 10 so you want to see important things in their life. Even during the winter when I’m off from the Yankees, I’m out of connection from 3:00 to 7:00, so I had to reconcile with that. I talked with my wife and I actually talked with my kids about it, too, and they like me doing it so I decided to keep doing it.”
After initially feeling like it was time to step away after hosting The Michael Kay Show for 21 years, Kay began to reconsider but he also knew that he had to decide with his current contract expiring this September. The sales staff at the radio station needed to know because they had to inform potential advertisers who was going to host the show. Kay also owed it to his co-hosts Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg to let them know what his plans were.
Everyone at 98.7 ESPN New York needed a decision.
“The radio station has to make contingency plans,” said Kay. “What’s going to happen if I, in fact, do leave? All of those people are impacted.”
Speaking of La Greca and Rosenberg, Kay’s sidekicks played a huge part in his decision to continue doing the show. There’s a tremendous amount of chemistry on the program and Kay wasn’t about to walk away from his radio family.
“Don and I have been together 21 years,” said Kay. “That’s a longer relationship than my wife and I have. We’re really special friends. Peter is for about 8 years and I feel the same way about him.”
Kay also acknowledged the people behind the scenes like Program Director Ryan Hurley, as well as executives from both ESPN and Good Karma Brands.
“They certainly tried to appeal to me to stay and after a while, it got to me,” said Kay. “I said you know what I’m not done yet so I decided to re-up. The pull to stay was stronger than the pull to just kick back and relax.”
These are certainly interesting times to talk about sports in New York.
Baseball season is about to get underway and both the Yankees and Mets are expected to be playoff contenders.
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers could be on his way to the Jets while the Giants are coming off of a trip to the playoffs last season.
The Knicks and Nets are heading toward the NBA Playoffs while the Rangers, Devils, and Islanders could all be going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But all of the local teams’ success wasn’t a factor in Kay deciding to continue talking sports.
“To be honest, it didn’t play any role because sometimes when teams are bad it makes for better talk radio,” said Kay. “The fact that they’re good and they could be playing in postseason, all of them, is intriguing but that didn’t play a role.”
And now that Kay has signed his new contract, he can continue his quest to regain the top spot in the afternoon drive war with WFAN. The show has been losing the ratings battle with Carton & Roberts and it would have been difficult to retire with his show in second place.
It’s not the reason why Kay decided to sign a new deal, but he does now have some more time to become number one again.
“Obviously, I wouldn’t want to leave it the way it is right now,” said Kay. “We had beaten everybody that they put in front of us. We beat Mike (Francesa), and we beat Joe and Evan. People conveniently forget that we also beat Carton & Roberts. Carlin, Maggie, and Bart…we beat them all. Our ratings, for some reason, have not been comparable to what they were before the pandemic hit.”
The ratings aside, Kay is happy with the content he, La Greca, and Rosenberg provide their listeners daily. While they have some catching up to do in the battle with WFAN, Kay is pleased with the product and that his show is good clean sports talk.
In Kay’s mind, business is business but he has his way of doing a show.
“Ratings tell you one thing and that’s how we keep score, but if you listen to what comes out of the speakers, in my opinion, our show is the best sports show in all the country. We not only talk about sports but we treat people with respect. We don’t have to go low-brow. Ratings didn’t have anything to do with (his decision) but it does give you a little more runway now to make up some ground. We have already proven that we can beat them.”
Michael Kay has been a part of 98.7 ESPN New York going back to the launch of the radio station in September of 2001. Just like Aaron Rodgers, he was pretty close to calling it a career…but Kay didn’t want his radio career to fade to black just yet.
Peter Schwartz has been involved in New York sports media for over three decades. Along the way he has worked for notable brands such as WFAN, CBS Sports Radio, WCBS 880, ESPN New York, and FOX News Radio. He has also worked as a play by play announcer for the New Yok Riptide, New York Dragons, New York Hitmen, Varsity Media and the Long Island Sports Network. You can find him on Twitter @SchwartzSports or email him at DragonsRadio@aol.com.
Xperi & Joe D’Angelo Are Ready For Radio’s Future
“I want this audience to see how they can leverage the technology that is nine times out of ten already going to be at their radio station.”
In October 2022, Xperi Senior Vice President of Global Radio and Digital Audio Joe D’Angelo hosted the single most impressive radio presentation I’ve ever seen at the NAB Show in New York.
I wrote about my takeaways from the presentation after returning from New York, which essentially boiled down to: Xperi is looking out for the future of radio like no one else is. I don’t think that’s hyperbole. The company is making sure FM radio is in the best place to succeed as the audio space continues to evolve and see more and more emphasis placed on on-demand digital offerings.
D’Angelo will continue the conversation in a panel at the 2023 BSM Summit titled “How Radio Can Compete and Win in the Connected Car” on Tuesday, which will focus on the company’s DTS AutoStage platform. The offering from Xperi will revolutionize broadcast radio as automobiles become more and more technologically advanced.
“So many other platforms are much more crowded — mobile phones, smart TVs, smart speakers — there’s very low barriers of entry to building a brand, and getting content on those platforms,” D’Angelo said. “But broadcast radio has the unique advantage in the car and it’s incumbent on the publishers — the producers of content — to look for every opportunity to sustain and exploit that branding and that relationship with the car driver.
“We also allow and deliver internet-only radio — so streaming services for broadcasters — as well as catch-up content. So if you wanna make yesterday’s morning show available today, we create all the linkages there, as well as podcasts. If you’re creating podcasts, we create those linkages that aid in the discovery of that content and serve it up on your behalf on the dash of the car.”
DTS AutoStage will allow drivers to continue listening to radio stations even after leaving the broadcast range of a station, utilizing the station’s stream to continue a seamless audio delivery. Additionally, it will provide real-time analytics weekly to stations about the time spent listening, and a “heat map” of where your listeners live, work, and travel.
D’Angelo noted that the sports radio space is ripe with opportunity to promote and utilize the technology Xperi has worked on, adding that music has been co-opted by brands like Apple and Amazon to sell you more products, while sports radio is simply looking to share opinions and content with passionate audiences.
“The real opportunities now are accruing to the talk formats and sports is such a ripe opportunity with a passionate audience, and I’ll tell you from personal experience, finding sports programming on a platform like TuneIn is nearly impossible,” D’Angelo continued. “If you’ve ever used it and tried to search for a live event, you’re going to get a catalog of a hundred different things that might related to the team but have nothing to do with the live event.
“I’m coming here because we’re at a unique opportunity where I want to explain to this audience how what they do can benefit from the technology we’ve deployed…clearly, sports programming — live sports, sports talk, sports betting, local sports — is a really unique category for local radio and I want this audience to see how they can leverage the technology that is nine times out of ten already going to be at their radio station.”
At the BSM Summit, D’Angelo will showcase the real-time analytics available to stations who opt to share data with the platform, and will give attendees a look at a sample of what information is supplied to stations and companies by using data gathered by listeners of Washington D.C.’s 106.7 The Fan. BSM Summit attendees will get a first look at the information, before it’s released worldwide at Radiodays Europe on March 28th.
Garrett Searight is the Editor of Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media. He previously was the Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH. He is also a play-by-play announcer for TV and Radio broadcasts in Western Ohio. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.