Weak People Can’t Hurt Joy Taylor’s Feelings
“I just want whatever I do to have an impact on the next generation of broadcasters and sports broadcasters that come after me. I don’t want to leave the business the same way that I came in.”
Sports radio hosts encounter Twitter trolls constantly. It’s common to receive messages like, “You suck, I hate you,” or my personal favorite, “Your an idiot.” Being the target of anger comes with the territory. Many hosts don’t have to deal with feedback that is racist or sexist in nature though.
Sadly this is not a luxury that FS1 superstar Joy Taylor enjoys. The brilliant co-host of The Herd with Colin Cowherd talks about a method she has developed for dealing with these lowlifes. Hopefully her technique will discourage others from lashing out so Joy can be treated with the respect she deserves.
There is much more wisdom from Joy in the conversation below. The biggest improvement she has made as a broadcaster traces back to her early days in the industry. Joy carries what she developed in Miami to the national radio and TV airwaves. Her views on how the prodominantly white media is handling topics that deal with the current social unrest is a must-read. Joy also says that she doesn’t want to be normal and embraces being a little off. Many people — aka the smart ones — love her just the way she is. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: Which FaceApp picture do you think is better; you as a man or Colin as a woman?
Joy Taylor: [Laughs] Colin actually was more impressive. I obviously spend a lot of time on social media and I have Snapchat. It sounds weird but I’ve seen myself as a man before, at least according to what the apps would say.
I think this was Colin’s first experience with FaceApp. He looked great — high cheekbones, really great hair. It was fun. It was very unexpected. I saw Jason had tweeted that. I look exactly like my nephew, [former Miami Dolphin and Joy’ brother] Jason [Taylor]’s older son Isaiah. He looks like Jason with hair, so it was funny.
BN: What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from Colin?
JT: Colin is a very thorough prepper. I think prepping is the number one thing you have to learn as a broadcaster. How do you prep the right way to let you do a good job? What kind of materials do you need during the show to do a good show? It’s really different for each person.
Every talent has a completely different routine for how they like to do it. With Colin we do a two-hour prep call before every three-hour show. So essentially Colin does a show before the show, which is remarkable. Now he would say it’s not that big of a deal, but it is a big deal. That’s a lot of prep.
I’ve worked with a ton of different talent in the industry, not that there’s any right or wrong way to do it, but that’s a lot of energy to talk through every single topic that thoroughly. He has his own system of notes, which I kind of tease him about because no one else on Earth could possibly understand his note system. I’m very OCD so I like my notes to be super organized, highlighted, this part bold, underlined. I have a completely different formula for how I do it but I have learned a lot about how and what preparation works best for a show of our length — especially being a TV/radio simulcast, which is different from doing just a radio only show. He’s very thorough and likes to be very, very prepared. I’ve been learning a lot from him when it comes to that.
BN: What was your first break in sports radio?
JT: I started interning at 560 QAM in Miami when I was in college at Barry University on the Joe Rose morning show. That was my first entrance of any official kind into the business. I did an internship with him. I believe it was my junior year of college. At that time those stations were owned by Beasley Broadcasting and they also had Power 96 in the building.
After I finished my internship with Joe Rose, I had developed a relationship with DJ Laz and the morning show over at Power 96 so they gave me an opportunity to intern there in a completely different capacity. It’s a music morning show, entertainment, a little bit of sports, and I would do sports updates for him, but also learning a completely different side of the business and implementing a lot of entertainment into the show. I did some internships in college that prepared me. I also worked at the radio station at our university as well. I really tried to get a lot of hands-on experience.
I eventually got my first job at QAM where I had interned a few years later on The Sid Rosenberg Show as a part-time producer. Anyone who knows radio knows that that is not a very high-paying gig, but I was very happy to have it because it’s very hard to get a job in the business. That’s the first step.
Nobody wants to hire you if you don’t have any experience. You can’t get any experience if you don’t get hired. That was really my first break; my first paying job in the business was being a part-time producer at QAM for Sid Rosenberg’s show. I freelanced at a few other places while doing that show but that was the first break.
BN: When do you first remember thinking, man, I really want to be on the air as a sports radio host?
JT: I’ve always loved sports. I grew up in Pittsburgh so that’s not an option whether you’re going to like sports or not when you grew up in Pittsburgh. I played sports growing up and obviously had the opportunity to watch my brother’s career, which taught me a lot about the business and the personal side of sports. I think I just always was meant to be a personality.
I have the same story that every broadcaster has when you’re a kid you did your newscast with your hair brush in front of the mirror. My mom had gotten us this VHS camera that you put the whole actual tape in. We would record these news broadcasts. I really thought this is what I was supposed to do and what I really felt like I could be great at. After I finished college and went through the little journey you go through after you don’t get your first job that you want out of college, and just realized I love sports and I love talking.
I always wanted to be on air and got the opportunity with Sid. Sid is a very big personality. I learned a lot from him as well just being very unapologetic. I quickly realized from being with those talents — Joe Rose, DJ Laz, and then starting with Sid — that if I was going to be successful in this business I want to be a personality. That’s what best suits me.
I had done some reporting stuff. I had done some news stuff in college. There are so many different areas in the business you can get into but you should really do what you’re passionate about the most. I think all the experiences that I had early on in my career and in college really helped me get into the space that I’m in now.
BN: What is the main improvement you’ve made from when you first started off to where you are now?
JT: I think confidence. That really comes from reps. When you’re a young broadcaster, you feel like you’re getting into a business where you have to be very confident, but you don’t get opportunities, or you’re still a little nervous. There’s a lot that goes into it. It’s not just turning the microphone on and talking. You’ve got to hit breaks. You’ve got to read lives. You have to make sure that you get all the commercials in. Are you taking callers? How do you introduce them? How do you pull them up? Where’s the cough button? There’s a lot that goes on during a show that’s not just talking.
I think in the beginning knowing what kind of personality you want to be — that can be difficult too because maybe there isn’t someone in the business that exists to look up to. Confidence for me has been the biggest thing. Just understanding that you’re going to make mistakes, which is why I think working for a student radio station and doing internships and taking those Saturday night 8 o’clock to 10pm shifts on the local radio station that probably not a lot of people are listening to, but you can make your mistakes there and learn to not be nervous and be confident. I think that’s the biggest change because you know how you feel, right? You know when you’re watching a game and you’re talking to your friends what your opinions are, but how to put it all together, how to be smart and informed and prepped and be entertaining at the same time just comes from reps. I think the biggest change for me is definitely confidence.
BN: What do you think about the way your show has handled subjects like George Floyd and NASCAR banning the Confederate flag?
JT: I think we’ve handled it on the show really well. I’ve had the opportunity to have some really open conversations. I think our network does a really good job about empowering talent to have those conversations and supporting us in that.
I’m exhausted and I’m very sad and frustrated that we still have to have these conversations. But I think it’s an important time in history with everything that’s going on with the election year, COVID obviously, and then now the string of deaths, murders, bringing that to light and having these really open conversations that I hope will bring about some real healing and change. I think it’s important to keep shining the light on it because as soon as it goes quiet that’s when we sink back into what we’ve been doing for many years in this country, which is not giving the true racist scar that this country has the attention it needs to heal and move forward together. I won’t speak for everyone but I talk to a lot of people in the business and it’s been a very exhausting time for everyone, but necessary.
I get a lot of…let’s just call it hate on social media, which I’m used to and I can handle, but normally if someone’s doing too much I’ll just block them. It’s not going to change my life whether or not you see my next social media post, but lately I’ve made a conscious effort not to block people and kind of highlight the terrible things that people are saying.
I’ll see people and they’ll talk to me and be like, “Wow, I’ll read some of this stuff on social media and it’s horrible. How do you deal with that every day?” I’m like well I want you to see that. I want people to see that this stuff does happen. It exists. There are lots of people out there that still feel the way they do and they’re still very racist. They’re very sexist.
BN: When you go on social media after a show and someone sends you something that’s racist or sexist, is it hard not to get dragged down by that?
JT: Yes and no. I feel like I’m fortunately — I don’t know if it’s fortunate or not — but I feel like I’m very callous to it, very used to it.
It’s not something I spend my day complaining about, but I also realize I am not just speaking for me. I represent other people. As a black woman in the business and having a platform, I have a responsibility to use that platform properly. Does it hurt my feelings? No. Me? No, because I know if I saw this person on the street they wouldn’t say anything to me. They would not do that. These are weak people. They’re hiding behind fake accounts. These are internet trolls. They’re too scared to even put their name on what they’re saying.
I do realize other people see that and may feel threatened or afraid or sad or brought down by what’s being said to me. Does it hurt? It hurts that it’s still happening, not that that person is doing something that’s going to change my day. I know who I am and what I’m capable of and what I’m going to do, so that person doesn’t hurt me. It’s more of the fact that I want to continue to show other people who are out there denying that any of this is real and this is all a conspiracy or it’s not that bad or whatever, they need to see that. It’s more for them.
BN: Sports radio in general is very white dominated. Does it ever make you uncomfortable if you flip on a show and they’re talking about George Floyd or a social issue?
JT: Yeah, it makes me uncomfortable depending on how the conversation is going. I wish there was more diversity in the business. I wish there was more diversity behind the scenes in the business. I wish they would hire more black producers, more black women in executive positions, more black people behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. I just wish the business was more diverse overall. Some of the conversations definitely make me uncomfortable.
I think the George Floyd conversation is directly related to George Floyd. I think for the most part what I’ve seen and heard has been very straightforward and mostly everyone has hit the tone of what it should be correctly, which is that he was murdered and deserves justice. I do think with the broader conversations there can be a tone of ignorance and more importantly a lack of empathy from non-diverse talent. That’s what’s more hurtful to me.
When I’m hearing some of the conversations that I don’t agree with, it’s not so much that I feel like they don’t know what’s going on, it’s more just a lack of empathy for an entire community that’s been saying this is a problem for a long time. Now it’s become very undeniable because we have camera phones to prove what’s happening.
To answer your question there’s definitely been times where I’ve been extremely uncomfortable, but the broader conversations are more of the ones that start to put me in that space because the George Floyd conversation is very straightforward.
BN: Is having your podcast a good outlet in terms of the conversations you want to have and the topics you want to hit on that might differ from The Herd?
JT: Yeah, absolutely. I started the podcast when I started on Undisputed because I did come from Miami doing a four-hour morning drive radio show. Being a moderator, your space is quite limited. Obviously I was very happy to have the opportunity but I still wanted to be able to get my opinions out there and stay sharp as a talent. That’s why I started the podcast a little over two years ago now.
I definitely still use it in that space. The week that everything started to ramp up with the conversation around George Floyd, I didn’t feel right doing a normal podcast so I just had everyone that’s on the podcast with me just get on a Zoom call. We did that as our podcast instead. We just had a conversation about how all of us were feeling and what this really means. I think it was very therapeutic.
I feel like the podcast is a space that I try to use to focus on things that I really want to talk about. I want the podcast to be a good blend of youth, culture, sports, entertainment, conversations that I have with my friends and things that we talk about pertaining to sports, people that I think will be interesting to talk about sports with. That’s the thing that I’ve tried to keep the podcast in since we launched it.
BN: How did you settle on the name for your podcast? What’s the backstory with Maybe I’m Crazy?
JT: [Laughs] Crazy has a lot of implications. I’ve always been a little off but I embrace it. I don’t want to be normal. That’s sort of where the name came from. I’m saying these off-the-wall things that people get really irritated or excited about. That’s just kind of where it came from.
BN: You have so much ahead of you in the industry, is there anything in particular that you would like to do along the way?
JT: It’s really important to me to be able to have an impact on the industry outside of just myself. Obviously I have goals and things that I want to accomplish in the business in the near future and further down the road, but I just want whatever I do to have an impact on the next generation of broadcasters and sports broadcasters that come after me. I don’t want to leave the business the same way that I came in. Does that make sense?
JT: It’s important to me to see a more diverse culture when it comes to sports media and sports entertainment on camera and behind the scenes. Anytime I have an opportunity to make decisions as a talent, which isn’t always obviously, we all have bosses and work for networks, but when I do have those opportunities I want to take advantage of them as far as making sure that I have a diverse staff on any project that I work on and just encouraging young people to think in that same way and hopefully use whatever influence that I gain in the business to keep pushing that forward because I think it’s very important.
Being able to see yourself on television or see people that look like you or come from where you come from in those positions, it’s really seeing is believing. Representation really matters. I just want to continue to be a mentor and help push that forward however I can. Whatever I do in the business — which we’ll see, we’ve got to get sports back [laughs] — I have a lot of aspirations and different things I want to do in the business for sure short-term and long-term, but that’s just the most important thing to me.
Brian Noe is a columnist for BSM and an on-air host heard nationwide on FOX Sports Radio’s Countdown To Kickoff. Previous roles include stops in Portland, OR, Albany, NY and Fresno, CA. You can follow him on Twitter @TheNoeShow or email him at email@example.com.
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.”
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 programmer 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 active shunning.
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.”
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.
Who Can Sports Fans Trust Once Twitter Ditches Legacy Verified Blue Checks?
The potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.
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.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.”
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.
Ryan Brown is a columnist for Barrett Sports Media, and a co-host of the popular sports audio/video show ‘The Next Round’ formerly known as JOX Roundtable, which previously aired on WJOX in Birmingham. You can find him on Twitter @RyanBrownLive and follow his show @NextRoundLive.