JMV Isn’t Faking Anything
“It takes a little bit of time to realize that it’s not somebody else that people want; it’s you that people want.”
John Michael Vincent, better known as JMV, has developed quite the following as a sports radio host in Indianapolis. As I see it, there are three main reasons for his success; talent, connections, and time. The first part is obvious; the guy has the chops. JMV is skilled and gets radio. As far as connections, I don’t mean that he knows big wigs in high places; I’m talking about connecting with his audience. The Fan’s afternoon guy isn’t hiding in the dressing room before he performs. He’s practically in the parking lot doing keg stands with his listeners before he hits the stage. He’s one of them.
Time is also important. JMV, who’s actual name is John Michael Gliva, simply has time for people. If you bump into someone who is short with you, I doubt you’ll walk away feeling valued. JMV has a welcoming charm and makes you feel like he has all day for you if needed. That type of vibe can’t be forced or faked. It’s just who JMV is. A lot of hosts enjoy speaking to people through a microphone. Many aren’t as eager to speak in person. JMV enjoys doing both a great deal.
Owensburg, Indiana — a town of only 300 people — is where JMV is originally from. He told me that listening to the few radio stations they had when he was young made a connection with him and that he always wants to make a connection with people because of that. It shows. JMV talks about the origin of his nickname and a unique future goal. He also tells great stories about royally ticking off Adam Schefter, being blackballed from ESPN, and hilariously missing out on a big scoop. Enjoy!
Brian Noe: How did the nickname JMV come about?
John Michael Vincent: I was on with a guy named Mark Patrick who actually for a long period of time did both FOX Sports Radio in the morning nationally and MLB Network nationally. He was big time in this market doing local TV. I started with two other guys and then I think within six months I was their producer at Sports Radio 1260 WNDE back in 2000. I was going by John Michael, which is my first and middle name. Mark tagged me with John Michael Vincent. My role on the show was to play the illegitimate son of the former, now deceased actor Jan-Michael Vincent. In the mid-‘70s Jan-Michael Vincent was huge as an actor and then he resurfaced in the ‘80s on the show Airwolf. That was my name, John Michael Vincent. Then it ultimately got shortened to JMV. A lot of people bristle in radio — I want to go by my own name blah, blah, blah — but when you’re with a guy like Mark, you just kind of take it. I have to give him credit, man, because we rode that out and now JMV is my name. That’s how it all started. I was the illegitimate son as his producer of the actor Jan-Michael Vincent.
BN: What’s the most important asset for a host to have in Indianapolis?
JMV: Ultimately it’s relatability. Especially in Indianapolis — I’m assuming you get this all over the map, probably even in the larger markets like New York, Boston, Philly — around here it is relatability. It’s like I walk among the folks. I’m one of them. I’ve never wanted to do national radio probably because I understand my limitations. But also because around here it’s important to folks. If we didn’t communicate with them, if we didn’t have our shows here, nobody else would really give a crap about them around here. When Andrew Luck quits on the team they do, but for the most part no one really cares about the Colts. And we do. That’s why love local radio is so important.
I always try to explain to folks who wanted me to be more like hey, listen to these national shows, and listen to this great tease, and listen to what they do, and I say bullshit. Because people around here, I’ve got to talk with them. I’ve got to have them on. I’m out with them. I can’t disappear behind the curtain like you do nationally. Then you just kind of restart your three hours the next day.
I see these people out and I embrace when they go hey, what you said about Frank Reich was accurate or inaccurate, and what you said about Chris Ballard I don’t really believe, or I’m with you on that. You can’t disappear behind a curtain on a daily basis as you do nationally. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for that. I guess that’s just because I love where I am and I love what I do. I think that’s what people around here really do embrace overall; it’s just you being yourself and this kind of is me. I don’t change to go on the radio. It’s just me all the time. I think people especially around here embrace that.
BN: I think sometimes for younger broadcasters, it takes a bit to just be yourself. You feel like you’re on stage or need to be a souped-up version, then you realize, I just need to be me. Were you always yourself, or did there come a time where you’re like man, I need to stop being a version of what I think people want and just be me?
JMV: Yeah, you know what, it’s funny. This is what I found out; it’s nothing about anybody else that hosts a show, but I think listening to other shows and their content is detrimental to you and yours. Especially when I come on around three o’clock, and before me you’ve got two local shows on our station, or you can listen to a lot of stuff nationally, Brian. I think what it does is it will interfere in your dome with your content and your thought. It enters into your psyche and because you might be talking, it may be something that you say. I don’t want to use or plagiarize anybody else’s take. I want everything to be as completely original in thought from my head as possible. I’ve always tried to do it that way.
Back in the day I would sit there and prepare for the show and Jim Rome would be on in the background. I’m not suggesting I wanted to sound like Jim Rome but inevitably your takes kind of have a bit of a Jim Rome feel and you don’t want that, man. I realized it was okay to F up. I realized that it’s okay because people go oh yeah, well that’s JMV, he F’s up all the time. Hashtag JMV SUX. He sucks. I guess that’s part of the overall radio acceptance that you strive for. I think they’re accepting me as I am and that I’m going to be flawed.
I try to go in when I start at three o’clock as fresh as possible without listening to all this other stuff, or listening to the ESPN guys in the morning on TV stirring stuff up with hot takes. I don’t want to be hot-take guy. I want to be me. I want to be me with my own content. This is what I think or this is what I’ve heard. It takes a little bit of time to realize that it’s not somebody else that people want; it’s you that people want. It’s your take that people want. Like it or loathe it, that’s what they’re looking for when they tune in. I’ve always tried to give that.
When you’re early in your career, you’re searching for what makes you confident. You see these guys that are benefiting, that are good, and are loved on the radio especially because of what they’re doing with their content. Thus, you feel that maybe you should add a little bit of a twist of your own to that, but it’s really unnecessary because people are looking for you; your content, your originality, you as a person. There are so many different outlets and avenues that you can soak up stuff and then ultimately end up parroting some of this content on the air and that’s not at all what I ever wanted to do. It takes a little bit of time to realize that.
BN: How did the whole JMV SUX phenomenon come about?
JMV: It’s kind of funny. It just started with social media; hashtag JMV SUX. I had a golf outing last Monday; the JMV SUX But His Larceny Bourbon Golf Outing Doesn’t. Probably it started like this; a lot of people telling me I suck. Once I embraced that I suck, and people tell me that, it almost diffuses them. Like if people out there, Brian, really think I suck, and they go you know what JMV, you’re take about the Colts, it sucks and so do you. Oh yeah, really? Well they make shirts with JMV SUX on the shirt. Come up with something new. It kind of diffuses that a little bit. I can’t lie. It’s fun to play with it. I don’t mind. I’ve never really minded it.
It’s funny; you think you’re not affected by what people say or what people tweet, but it’s impossible in the early stages of your career. Especially with the revolution of social media and the way that it was over the course of my career, it’s impossible not to feel chafed or be thin-skinned at times.
This has helped to relieve a lot of that pressure. It’s helped not to care what people say. In the process it’s something that people have embraced. I’ve got a closet full of JMV SUX t-shirts. The first one that was ever made was a Run DMC Raising Hell type of album cover that said JMV SUX instead. It kind of took off from there. It started with me diffusing anger and crap that was said to me and then just kind of rolled into something that people liked so I just went with it myself.
BN: Is there anything that you haven’t done in your career that you would still like to do?
JMV: I would. Yes, I’m glad you brought that up. I would love to do a show on Sirius to where you can — I don’t mean cuss, I don’t need to cuss or anything — but kind of broaden it just a little bit. I would also love to do a music show on Sirius. I think that would be great.
When COVID first started, I started a live call-in music show on our sister station B105.7 that I do every Saturday night. It’s called the JMV Takeover. Literally, I do this every Saturday night live from six until midnight. I have zero playlist. They just turn it over to me to play either what I want or whatever the callers want to hear. That kind of scratches the itch that I had because I love music radio a great deal. I thought it was fun. Any interaction at all with fans and listeners is always pretty cool.
I would love to bring back nationwide, more of what I discovered on Saturday around here being able to utilize the live listener and the caller and putting that together. Even though I know that’s not how that works on SiriusXM on any of their music formats. But to me I think it would be fun to do. With my knowledge of the ‘80s and ‘90s, I could do that. So maybe SiriusXM for sports, SiriusXM for music, maybe sometime how about a SiriusXM sports and music mixture too. I just don’t know if any of that crap would ever work to be honest with you.
I really have done all that I ever wanted to do, man. People always say, well you know what, you’re not good enough to be national, which I’m sure is the case. But legitimately this was my goal. Coming from the town where I came from there is not a lot of opportunity to ever be able to reach a goal like this so I always look back on that and feel good about it certainly. I made a lot of friends. I love going out and hanging out with people. I love doing live remotes. I do about two or three of those a week. I love trying to produce live, local radio and keep that alive because I think in a lot of ways we see that across the radio landscape disappearing.
BN: Why were you blackballed from ESPN on radio row because of a mistake you made with Adam Schefter?
JMV: Well, it’s twofold. When Schefter was back on the NFL Network, they would reach out to WNDE and he would come on. He wasn’t the best interview. Maybe it was because I wasn’t the best interviewer when I first started. I don’t know. But we never really liked one another except they always kept pushing him.
I was at the combine when it was still at Lucas Oil Stadium. The whole radio row was set up inside the concourse. It was in February, cold, late, about six o’clock, and I was kind of sick. I had a promotions guy come over and go hey, Adam Schefter’s over there, you want me to go ask him to come on? I go man, I just don’t feel like dealing with this right now. Nah, he’s always giving me short answers and I just didn’t think it was going to be worth the time or the effort. I said don’t worry about it. I go to the can. I walk out of the bathroom and Schefter is sitting in the seat right across from where I’m sitting. I went ahh, dang it. So I come over there and I go okay, it’s all good.
As I was asking questions, he just answered in really short form; like five words or less. Then it got even lower than that and I could tell the dude didn’t want to be here. The fact that he didn’t want to be here, and I didn’t want him there, resonated to me at the moment. So I said I’m going to make him sit here as long as possible. I started asking some of the most ridiculous questions ever to kind of be a jerk. It was wrong of me, but I was sick and I was pissy and that was my reaction. I think literally at the end of the conversation I asked him his favorite color. That’s how bad it got. It absolutely devolved into that. He didn’t like that and that’s fine.
I think afterwards Jim Irsay had tweeted something and then Schefter had sent a barb back to him, retweeted it. I sent out a tweet that said hey, you’re great at what you do, but this is yet another reason why a lot of people think you’re a smarmy ass or something like that. I shouldn’t have done it. I regretted it. He got pissed; went up the chain at ESPN and they got pissed. They called my bosses. They got pissed.
So fast forward to the Super Bowl when it was here. I’m on radio row and all of these ESPN guys are telling my producer who’s now the voice of the Colts, Matt Taylor, that they weren’t allowed to come on with me because I was a dick to Schefter. [Laughs] So I got blackballed. Nobody from ESPN during the Super Bowl week came on with me.
To close the story out, a friend of mine here works for the FOX affiliate. This was another combine. He had to take Adam from downtown to the FOX studios. I guess the entire way — this was like two years later — ripped me nonstop. Talked about how big of a jerk I was and how I was the worst interviewer ever. They really like him around here? He’s awful. Stuff like that. He ripped me for 30 minutes, I mean a new ass, which I absolutely deserved. He didn’t realize this guy was a really good friend of mine. [Laughs]
There was a long time I never talked about it, but I think we’re pretty much down the road now to where I can bring it up. It’s one of the best stories ever because it was two years later and I would have thought that guy wouldn’t have given a damn about anything I would have said. But clearly he did. I will stand by the fact that the guy in an interview situation was a jerk to me and that’s fine. But that was a moment of truth for me in social media going hey, you got to handle this better than that. It was all me. You’ve got to take the blame and move on a little bit, so I owned it.
BN: What’s the story with you not breaking the news that the Colts would be featured on Hard Knocks?
JMV: Yeah, social media is overwhelming for me. I’m getting messages in 19 different directions. Sometimes I go man, I’m not looking at that. I’ve got two different Facebook pages and Twitter, I’m doing YouTube Live and all this. I missed it. A friend of mine, he’s a good friend named Sean Patrick Turley, had sent me a message on Facebook back in early September and said hey, I’ve got a cameraman friend of mine that says Hard Knocks is coming to the Colts in midseason. I didn’t even see it. Then when the news broke, I was surprised. Sean sent a tweet like hey numbnuts, I told you this two weeks ago. I go where? I don’t see it. Then I looked through and of course it was devoured by other messages that I had not opened and there it was right there. So yeah, it was my breaking story and I completely screwed the pooch on it right there.
I love the write-up that you guys had. I mean really it does fit the persona because if somebody is going to miss a massive scoop like that, it’s going to be my dumbass. Seriously. Much like the Schefter thing, I own it. I take the blame and I move on from it. I retweeted that every time. I loved the headline. We got a big laugh out of it around here too. I don’t know if my bosses laughed or not, but whatever. It was funny and it was absolutely me. It could not be more me than that was right there.
This whole thing is kind of me. There’s no faking. I couldn’t fake this level of hillbillish ineptitude. Instead of faking it, I just kind of roll with it. You play with the team that you have. You use the tools that you have and if you only have one or two tools, you use those. That’s essentially been the focus of my career to this point right now; using my lack of tools.
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.