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Andy Sweeney Manages A Clock Better Than Andy Reid

“If you get caught up in being right or wrong I just don’t think that’s what people listen for. They listen for you.”

Tyler McComas

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Sports radio is flying high as we enter the year 2020. At least that’s the opinion of Andy Sweeney, PD and afternoon drive co-host at ESPN 680/105.7 in Louisville. It’s hard to disagree with the points he makes, such as the fact that newspaper and magazine writers, bloggers and anyone else who calls themselves a writer, are trying to get involved in some sort of audio, whether its radio or podcasts. 

Sweeney calls sports radio an addiction. An attachment that keeps hosts on an everyday edge and listeners scrambling to their radios to hear the biggest stories of the day. 

“Radio and its ability to attach to people is something that’s made it so successful,” said Sweeney. “When your favorite show goes on a two-week vacation, for instance, for me when Dan Le Batard went away, that’s like a huge three or four hours of my day. When Craig Carton went to jail I was like legit depressed, because that was a show that I legit listened to for 10 years. I remodeled a house listening to the podcasts.”

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When you catch the addiction of sports radio, it’s likely to never leave you. To my knowledge, a cure doesn’t exist to remedy the cravings of quality sports radio content. But those who have it all catch it at different times. For Sweeney, it happened during an internship after college. During school he thought he wanted to do sports television, but there was something about lugging around a giant camera and only getting 2 and a half minutes of air-time on late-night TV that didn’t satisfy him. Instead, he found an immediate craving for sports radio. 

“I knew sports radio was different and going to be way more popular than it already is,” said Sweeney. “I also knew that it had a lot of room to grow in the city. I just became addicted to the ability to give an opinion and let my personality shine through. It really is an addiction.”

But like so many in the business, Sweeney suffered an early setback in his career. What’s now 93.9 The Ville used to be owned by Cumulus and 93.9 The Ticket. Even though the lineup on the station was solid, management suddenly decided to flip the format to classic hits. Out of nowhere, even after a promising start, Sweeney was a young kid in his 20’s that was completely out of sports radio. 

“At that point I was out of sports Radio and not knowing what I was going to do.” Sweeney said. “I actually taught myself about insurance. I passed the insurance exam. I got the booklets and I taught myself, then went and passed it.”

Maybe working at a major insurance company is what he thought he would do for the rest of his life. Maybe he was like most kids in their early 20’s and figured something would just pop up. Whatever the case, it’s hard to argue that fate didn’t flop into Sweeney’s lap when transitioning into a new career field. 

Around lunchtime on one particular day, he found his co-workers huddled around a clock radio in the corner of an office. What was coming through the speakers absolutely blew Sweeney’s mind. It was the all-too-familiar sounds of local sports radio in Louisville. ESPN had struggled for some time to launch a station in the market, but had a plan they thought would work and a PD they felt confident in. Seeing as Sweeney had lived in the area since moving from Buffalo at 10 years old, he had contacts working with the new station. Two days after hearing the news sport station on a clock radio during lunch, he was told to contact PD Jason Anderson. A month later, Sweeney was back in sports radio. 

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It’s funny how things in sports radio can come, all too often, full circle. Several years after Anderson got Sweeney back into sports radio, it was Sweeney that replaced Anderson as program director after he took the same position at Sports Radio 810 in Kansas City late last year. 

Now, Sweeney is combining his super popular show ‘The Take’ from 3-6 pm with daily programming duties. But through all the long hours, the sports radio addiction is as strong as ever. And that’s what keeps him as one of the best Louisville has to offer. 

“I think sports radio in major markets is the authority and in the Louisville market it is the authority.” Sweeney said. 

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Tyler McComas: Where do you find time throughout the day to host a three-hour show and be a PD? It has to be all about knowing how to spend your time, right? 

Andy Sweeney: You have to be able to manage the clock better than Andy Reid has in the playoffs (laughs). That’s the best way to say it. I took over for Jason Anderson, who left for 810 in Kansas City, our mother ship, I was next in command, if you will, so I kind of knew what I was getting into. But when I took over in September we were right in the middle of our football season. But yeah it’s time consuming and you can’t waste a lot of time. Some days you have to set hours aside where you know you’re going to have to do programming stuff.

For me, as someone who is engrossed in sports radio as it is, I’m always thinking about my show. Kentucky plays over the weekend and Louisville loses to Florida State on Saturday, you’re thinking about angles and listening to all of our other programming throughout the week. I’m always thinking about my show so it’s not like I sit down at noon and finally start thinking about it.

TM: With football season winding down, so many stations in the country are exiting their biggest time of the year. But since college hoops is heating up, are you just now entering your biggest part of the calendar? 

AS: We’re actually Baltimore Ravens affiliates this year. This is the first year that we’ve done that. Programming wise that’s been awesome for us and we’ve been able to make some money off of it. The busiest time for us is the crossover with basketball and football. That’s my opinion. When we’re in football and just ready for basketball, because people around here talk about basketball the way they talk about Oklahoma football.

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Our second-busiest time would be when we get to March Madness. You’re flying out to different sites for the games and relying on producers to get cuts and sounds for the shows, I’m on the road and our morning shows are on the road. We’ll have four or five different shows all over the place.

TM: So UK and UL basketball are still way more popular than their football teams? 

AS: Absolutely. I would say Lamar Jackson was the one that was able to penetrate through that. But here’s the thing you have to remember with Lamar Jackson: They had some bad ends to their seasons. They got smoked in a couple bowl games and they lost a chance to go to the Orange Bowl with a lost to Kentucky. UK is even more clear-cut. Listen, they care and they like what they’re doing in football, but it’s all about basketball.

TM: Listening to your show it seems pretty obvious you prefer the text line to any other source of communication from the listeners. 

AS: It’s funny, here’s my thing on callers – I’m not anti-caller. In this area, what I have found is, it’s the same guys over and over. The morning show is taking calls, the midday show is taking calls, we just use the text line a lot more. It’s more anonymous, but it’s a larger percentage of people that will use that than calling in. For me, I just get tired of hearing the same 8 to 10 callers over and over again. That’s how I feel about guests as well. I don’t do a lot of beat writers, because I feel like I know just as much as they know. Not to say that’s bad, that’s just my preferred style.

TM: Another thing with the text line: You guys get a ton of them and there seems to be an expectation amongst it. The show’s tone is funny and laid-back so the texters really show that off, too. There’s an expectation to be funny if you text in. Is that fair?

AS: I don’t believe in three hours of sports, sports, sports. I understand that works and people do that. Some of my best friends and people that I look up to do that, but I can’t. I’ve got to throw in my personality along with some nonsense. I have a co-host with me, a producer and the text line is almost like another co-host. It’s continually adding and making someone a character and getting different people involved. It’s just an open avenue for so many people who would never call in, now they can interact with our show and feel a part of it.

TM: This is a little more random: What’s more important as a show host – being right or being entertaining?

AS: The people who take themselves too seriously in this business, and I think sports radio is littered in this, it’s ok to say that you’re wrong. It’s not that big of a deal. I don’t look at other sports radio people that are predicting a game or predicting what’s going to happen with the coaching hire and if it goes the other way or wrong to look down on them. I don’t need that information. Everyone has their lock of the week and if you listen to the next show it’s the opposite, right? There’s so many opinion makers I don’t need another prediction guy. That’s just me. I’m not too worried with being wrong. In fact, sometimes it’s great to be wrong. I was wrong about Kentucky football two years ago, I was wrong about Louisville football this year and we talk about it on the show all the time. Quite frankly I might be wrong about the Louisville basketball team this year. To me it’s about breaking through and being entertaining. I think that’s number one in this business. If you get caught up in being right or wrong I just don’t think that’s what people listen for. They listen for you.

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TM: So now that you’ve taken over as PD, what’s your vision and how do you want to grow the station? 

AS: My vision is to go above and beyond and give the most coverage of the local teams that we can give. We already do that, but I would say if there was one area to continue to grow, would be the Kentucky side of things. Louisville, we have so pegged. What I’m proud of in the last few months, since I’ve taken over, is growing a little bit more on the Kentucky side of things. Kentucky sells in this market. Growing that relationship and getting more people that want to talk about that, that’s been something I’ve focused on. Everyone else in the market is only talking Louisville, I’m going to talk Kentucky, too. 

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

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iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

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