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Mike Tirico Believes Sports Television Has Never Been Better

“I don’t think many broadcasts overindulge in analytics and stats but find the key ones. I think the fans are served pretty well in terms of entertainment and options, too.”

Derek Futterman

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Following a tumultuous offseason in sports media that resulted in the movement of several established National Football League broadcasters, Mike Tirico found himself promoted to become the lead play-by-play announcer for Sunday Night Football on NBC.

Tirico entered this role following Al Michaels, who called Sunday Night Football for 16 seasons with Cris Collinsworth and the late-John Madden before signing with Amazon Prime Video this offseason. The broadcast, which also features Collinsworth as a color commentator and Melissa Stark reporting from the sidelines, has been the number one show in primetime television for a record 11 consecutive seasons.

As a native of Queens, N.Y., Tirico attended Bayside High School where he realized that his dream of playing sports professionally was impractical and began thinking of ways to remain involved in the industry. Tirico considers himself to have been an avid sports fan when he was younger and always enjoyed listening to game broadcasts. He identified that by announcing the games, he would be able to build a viable career for himself and remain involved in sports as a media member.

Consequently, he began conducting research on how to achieve his goal of becoming a professional in a highly-competitive field.

“[I] found out at the time that some of my favorites – Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Len Berman – very popular and widely-respected broadcasters in New York were all Syracuse alums,” Tirico said. “I did some more digging and found out that Dick Stockton and Marty Glickman – and even Dick Clark in the American Bandstand-days and Ted Koppel are all Syracuse alums. I got very focused on trying to [go] to school there and was lucky enough to do that.”

While attending Syracuse University, Tirico made it a point to gain as much experience as he could, starting by broadcasting basketball, football, lacrosse, volleyball and other sports on WAER, the university’s student-run radio station. It was important for Tirico to attend a university with prominent alumni and a history of success – but sports broadcasting is not the only thing he studied as a student.

In addition to his broadcast journalism major within the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Tirico also studied political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Although he has a penchant for sports broadcasting, having previous experience and an understanding of news and current events serves to make media professionals more versatile.

“I think the collection of talented people there at the station gave you a good idea of who the best in your generation or class were going to be because a lot of the best were right there with you,” Tirico said. “I think we all made each other better along the way. That was a real influence for me – and a lot of the individuals there were an influence [on] me.”

At the end of his junior year, Tirico was hired by WTVH-5, a local CBS-affiliated television station in Syracuse, to deliver the weekend 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. sportscasts, effectively beginning his television career. Once he graduated Syracuse University in 1988, he remained in the area with WTVH-5 and was subsequently promoted as the outlet’s sports director, giving him early professional management experience outside the walls of the university.

“The experience and peers at Syracuse gave me the opportunity to test myself early on amongst the best in the industry,” Tirico said. “At that point, [it also] allowed me a chance to get on-air far earlier than I would have if I had gone to school somewhere else.”

In 1991, Tirico joined ESPN as a studio anchor where he contributed across its coverage of professional and collegiate sports. Additionally, he hosted an edition of SportsCenter with Jimmy Roberts where the duo updated viewers on the latest scores and news around the world of sports.

ESPN was the first national television station Tirico was ever employed by, and making the jump from working at a local station in Syracuse was initially challenging and brought him awareness of what skills he needed to improve on to ensure he would last and make a name for himself in the industry.

“There’s a lot of getting yourself up to speed for that and fortunately it was a great time at ESPN where we had the rights to so many different sports,” Tirico said. “[During the time I was there, SportsCenter] went from three half-hour shows a day to a constant presence [being] almost the wallpaper of the network; it was always around. That, I’m sure, was a big onus for me to be around that time of growth for ESPN and the SportsCenter franchise specifically.”

Two years later, Tirico hosted NFL Prime Monday, a new pregame show leading up to the network’s broadcast of Monday Night Football. Due to space limitations at ESPN’s studios, the show was broadcast out of a garage yet it transformed studio coverage of professional sports.

By introducing elements such as interviews with star players (conducted by former MTV VJ and SiriusXM DJ “Downtown” Julie Brown), utilizing an on-site field reporter for live stadium coverage and implementing debates between on-air talent and guests regarding the game, the way studio coverage leading up to live game broadcasts was forever changed. Additionally, the show had regular analysts including Craig James, Phil Simms and Joe Theissman, along with writers Mitch Albom, Skip Bayless and Michael Wilbon, all of whom would contribute their opinion and expertise to viewers.

The show led to the development of Monday Night Countdown which still airs on the network before Monday Night Football broadcasts featuring Buck and Troy Aikman, along with Peyton and Eli Manning in select weeks.

“We had in that show – 30 years ago – a variety of elements that were not in all the other pregame shows,” Tirico said. “….I’m really proud of the way that show got on the air. That was kind of a template for where pregame shows have evolved today.”

The evolution of technology and media consumption have engendered changes to the ways in which sports broadcasters prepare for a typical day at work. For example, when Mike Tirico and Sunday Night Football are covering the Green Bay Packers, Tirico recognizes the value in watching Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show.

Additionally when Tirico covered the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles matchup in late October, Tirico listened to New Heights, a podcast featuring Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and his brother, Eagles center Jason Kelce.

“There’s so much out there right now that by the time you get to Sunday – really that hour before the games [during] those pregame shows, I want to know, ‘What have you learned from the broadcasters who are on-site there?,’” Tirico said.

“What are the opinions from the guys in the studio who over the years you’ve come to appreciate their views on what’s going to happen. It’s really become a preview [of] the games that are about to come up as opposed to, ‘Here are some stories from around the league from during the week.’”

As a host at ESPN, Tirico was given various opportunities to display his versatility as a play-by-play announcer across multiple sports calling games on both the professional and, when applicable, collegiate level on various platforms of dissemination. This included working as a play-by-play announcer for the NBA Finals on ESPN Radio with color commentators Hubie Brown and Dr. Jack Ramsey; hosting professional golf coverage on ABC Sports with analyst Curtis Strange; and anchoring College Football Scoreboard starting in 1993.

“The only things I really call now are football and golf,” Tirico said. “I miss the days when I called a variety of sports. I loved jumping into new sports and getting a chance to do them.”

Whether it be the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, FIFA World Cup, Daytona 500, Rose Bowl, NCAA Final Four, or U.S. Open Golf Championship, Tirico has had the chance to anchor coverage of long-established and historic sports traditions. Having worked in many different areas of professional sports demonstrates the chance he has been afforded to reach new audiences and bring viewers insightful and fascinating converge of these and other heralded realms of competition.

“Tiger Woods winning the career Grand Slam at St. Andrews,” Tirico said when asked of one of his most memorable moments working in sports media. “That had not happened but once before on live television and hasn’t happened since 2000. That was a remarkable moment to be there and see the fifth golfer win all four golf majors and to do it at the home of golf.”

In 2006 when Monday Night Football moved from being broadcast to ABC to being exclusively on ESPN, he became the fourth person to serve as the voice of the weekly program. Just as Tirico did leading up to this football season, he succeeded Al Michaels in the play-by-play role, as Michaels joined NBC Sports to call the inaugural season Sunday Night Football with Madden.

From the first Monday night broadcast on ESPN, Tirico was joined by Jon Gruden for live primetime NFL games and broke cable television viewership records in the process. It was during this time when Tirico experienced a powerful moment on the football field that transformed his view on sports broadcasting and remains carved in his memory.

“Our third regular season game was the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons,” Tirico recalled. “That was the return to the Superdome post-Hurricane Katrina for the Saints and it was the day that reminds me forever that sports is not just a game; it’s not just a toy shop. It has incredible meaning and connection to the cities that host these teams over the years.”

After he anchored the 2016 UEFA European Football Championship, Tirico made the decision to leave ESPN and join NBC Sports. He first appeared on the NBC Golf Channel calling play-by-play during the 2016 U.S. Open Golf Championship and concluded the tournament by hosting studio coverage.

A few months later, he was behind the desk working as a daytime host for coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a worldwide sporting tournament and cultural phenomenon that takes place once every four years.

Tirico always looked up to NBC primetime Olympics host Bob Costas throughout his journey in sports broadcasting. As a venerable graduate of Syracuse University, Costas worked with NBC Sports beginning in 1980 as a host and play-by-play announcer for football, basketball and baseball coverage.

In 1988, he was selected as the primetime host for the broadcast of the Olympic Games, a job he performed for 12 iterations of the event before retiring from the role in 2017. Tirico was chosen to step into the position – something he affirms is one of the most significant roles in his career.

Ironically enough, he had previously received the inaugural “Bob Costas Scholarship” at Syracuse University in 1987 which continues to be awarded annually to one of its acclaimed broadcast journalism students.

“There are a lot of people who host shows; there are a lot of people who do… play-by-play. There’s only been one person that has hosted the Olympics in primetime since the 90s and it’s Bob,” Tirico said. “I’ve had plenty of experience in this and I think it becomes easier as you go along because I have an established style.”

Hosting the Olympics expands upon the traditional role of a sports broadcaster since it involves many of the countries across the globe. Tirico’s previous experience at WTVH-5 in Syracuse in addition to his steady consumption of news media and college major of political science keeps him prepared for the event and able to cover it on a global scale for the viewing audience, primarily based in the United States.

“It’s far closer in the host role to news than sports because there’s so much geopolitics involved in the entire process of the Olympics no matter how much we continue to hope that it’s about competition,” Tirico said. “That’s the root and that’s the foundation, but politics always seems to find a way to come into play with the different organizing committees, national governing bodies and, of course, each nation’s delegation.”

Tirico is grateful for the leadership of both NBC Olympics Executive Producer and President Molly Solomon and Primetime Producer Rob Hyland in how they have elevated the coverage of the event. Moreover, he is excited to cover the games taking place in Paris, France starting in July 2024 and continue being part of the evolution of the broadcast in the years to follow.

“There’s not a better studio hosting job in our industry than being able to host the Olympics in primetime,” Tirico expressed. “It requires a lot of talented people behind the scenes [and] a lot of help in preparation, but that opening ceremony when more nations and delegations come [in]… than you have when the U.N. General Assembly gathers every fall shows you that nothing, nothing, nothing brings the world together like the Olympic games.

“To be the person who has this unique role of 17 straight nights hosting multiple hours of primetime TV to present the competition of the athletes of the world – it’s pretty cool.”

In the latter half of 2016, NBC announced that Tirico had been added as a play-by-play announcer for some of its professional football broadcasts, including three Sunday Night Football games and one Thursday Night Football game when the network had the rights.

One year later, Tirico was named the play-by-play voice of the Thursday Night Football franchise where he worked with analyst Cris Collinsworth on live game broadcasts. Now working regularly with Collinsworth on a week-by-week basis doing Sunday Night Football, the familiarity has lent itself to a broadcast where the commentators play off of each other’s strengths to bring viewers the best coverage possible.

“The good part was there was no real adjustment,” Tirico said on acclimating himself to the broadcasts this season. “….We were lucky enough to do about 20 games together – preseason and regular season… from Thursday nights to Sundays; different games along the way. Getting to know Cris and his family and all of that made it so easy to start from the beginning here this year.”

While the network lost the Thursday night rights to Fox the following season, Tirico was still busy as the play-by-play announcer for Notre Dame college football games, host of Triple Crown horse racing coverage along with the Indianapolis 500, a brief stint doing play-by-play for National Hockey League games, and the studio host for Football Night in America, which is the most-watched studio show in sports.

In an era where studio coverage is changing amid consumers being afforded more control over the content with which they engage, progression with the dynamism of the current time is fundamental for sustained growth. In some cases, the coverage is being eliminated entirely due to a lack of consumer interest concerning those working in that environment.

“I think there’s always going to be a future for shoulder programming before and after a game,” Tirico expressed. “I personally would like to see more of an emphasis on quality postgame programming. I think we spend so much time talking about what’s going to happen in a game and not an equal amount of time talking about why things happen within a game.”

Following Al Michaels as the full-time play-by-play announcer on Sunday Night Football was always the plan since he joined NBC Sports, according to a statement made to Deadline by NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua.

Developing his own style on the show was not something he was preoccupied with though, as his previous experience in other play-by-play roles had already given him the chance he needed to hone his craft.

While he respects the previous work Michaels did on the broadcasts, he seeks to make it his own and bring his own style to the broadcast. An example of such is the elimination of the infamous “Collinsworth Slide” at the start of broadcasts, which resulted from an opening visual containing solely then-play-by-play announcer Michaels talking to the audience about the game and the shot zooming out shortly thereafter when it was time to include the analyst.

Now, the broadcast begins with both the play-by-play announcer and color commentator on-screen, resulting in more air time for Collinsworth and the ability to quickly have a back-and-forth discussion.

“I’m not thinking, ‘Okay, I have to do this [in] this way because the person who was here before did it,’” Tirico said. “I don’t know why NBC hired me but I do know that they hired me for my skill set, not to mimic the person who came before me in any of the other jobs. Once you’re authentic in how you do a job, I think that’s the best way to approach following some of the great people in the history of our business no matter what their roles were.”

The program continues to put up stellar ratings with the new broadcast production team in place, posting season-high numbers in last week’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills. In fact, it was the most watched Week 8 edition of the show since 2015 with a 10.6 rating and viewership of 19.62 million people, according to Nielsen.

Additionally, Tirico made history earlier in the season when he called his 200th NFL game, a notable career milestone and a testament to his hard work and alacrity towards taking chances fostered from the moment he first recalled becoming interested in sports media.

Overall, the entirety of the NFL broadcast landscape is doing well under new media rights agreements and commentary teams, an ideal time for the industry to meet and exceed expectations as football continues to sustain its popularity.

“The industry has never been better,” Tirico said. “There are so many good production people working behind the scenes. The quality of the broadcasts in terms of information has never been higher – I don’t think many broadcasts overindulge in analytics and stats but find the key ones. I think the fans are served pretty well in terms of entertainment and options too, things like a Manningcast or something like that. Those things are good.”

As time progresses, it remains imperative for sports media to remain at the forefront of innovation and continually possess a willingness and ability to change when necessary. In anticipating shifts in media notwithstanding their impact, the industry figures to more effectively serve the fan; that is, rather than reacting to changes after they occur.

“I would say that we continue to all use information technology to push the envelope and I think the result has been some really good television production,” Tirico said. “If you look back 15 years ago and look now, the depth and quality of what you see is really, really good. I think the state of covering football is in great shape and as another generation of announcers and producers and executives and leaders come in here, they’ve grown up around people pushing the envelope for better football broadcasts. I think you’re going to continue to see that going forward.”

In the days leading up to February 13, 2022 – which was dubbed by NBC as “Super Gold Sunday” since the network was broadcasting both the Olympics and the Super Bowl on the same day – Tirico pulled off an unprecedented broadcast feat.

For the two weeks leading up to “The Big Game,” he woke up in Beijing, China where he hosted primetime Winter Olympics coverage. Later in the week, he took a flight from Beijing to Los Angeles to host pregame and postgame coverage of Super Bowl LVI between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams.

On that same day, he hosted primetime Olympics coverage from outside of SoFi Stadium, giving him the feat of contributing to coverage of both major sporting events within the same 24-hour period. Once the Rams hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy, Tirico was on the way to the NBC Sports studios in Stamford, CT to complete his primetime Olympics hosting – meaning he traveled over 12,000 miles in a week and adjusted to a 13-hour time difference.

“That’s never happened before because there’s never been that confluence in the calendar with the Super Bowl and the Olympics on the same network on the same day,” Tirico said. “I don’t know how often it’s going to happen again but the chance to be the host for both of those was [a] once-in-a-lifetime day that I’ll cherish forever.”

As Tirico embarks on the second half of his 17th consecutive season calling primetime NFL games – now as the lead play-by-play announcer for Sunday Night Football – he looks back on his journey throughout sports media, grateful for the opportunities he has had and excited for what to come. One of those future endeavors, he hopes, is another chance to call basketball, the sport he originally began broadcasting while attending Syracuse University.

“I miss doing hoops games and basketball is the one I’ve never done that I’d love to do at some point,” Tirico expressed. “You’re at the point now where my career is so complete… and just to dabble in those and have the opportunity to do them would be cool for me.”

For aspiring professionals looking to work in sports media, Tirico advises them to be well-rounded and find niches in the industry that they are able to grow in and have a passion towards. Throughout his journey, Tirico was flexible and did not limit himself in what he was or was not able to do – a contributing reason as to why he has covered most professional sports in some capacity.

The reason broadcasters are ultimately chosen to be on-air not only pertains to their individual ability behind a microphone, but also in how they collaborate with their colleagues and work as a member of a team. Mastering those latter skills are just as essential to genuinely stand out from others vying for opportunities that can only be bestowed on one person.

“I think one of the most important things is being a good listener,” Tirico articulated. “I think our job is based on talking, but I think some of the most valuable things we need to do are listen. Listen to other broadcasts and hear what works; hear what you deem to be entertaining and informative…. If you’re lucky enough to not just like sports but love it, then this is as great a business as you could ever ask to be a part of.”

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BSM Writers

Twitter Blue Debacle Showcases Company’s Ongoing Concerns

“If you start giving away blue badges to everyone, then it has no value. It’s the equivalent of a currency. if you start printing more, it gets devalued. Same for verified badges.”

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For years, a blue “verified” check mark on Twitter has long been considered a symbol of status. Anyone — entrepreneurs, journalists, business executives — could potentially end up in the same exclusive space as celebrities like Taylor Swift and Tom Brady. 

Perhaps the one quality that the blue check mark represented that had been overlooked was its authenticity stamp. The badge has been used all across social media platforms to signal an account’s authenticity — a verification that recently has proven to be of significant importance to not only people, but brands as well. 

Shortly after Elon Musk’s $44-billion takeover of Twitter, the billionaire swiftly made his mark which, among many things, included a democratization of the app’s verification system. With a $7.99 monthly subscription to Twitter Blue, which launched last year as the company’s first subscription service, users could now possess what had long evaded them: a blue check mark.

“Theoretically, this would have made it easier for some brands or influencers to get verified than it has been in the past,” Galen Clavio, director of undergraduate studies for the Media School at Indiana University Bloomington, wrote in an email about the possible benefits of Twitter Blue’s verification accessibility. 

“From an algorithmic perspective, that would have made sense to pursue under the Twitter setup that everyone had come to know,” he added. 

While perhaps not a surprise to Musk or Twitter executives, everyday people were paying for the newly revamped Twitter Blue to boast their social media clout. Whether Twitter leadership knew it or not, though, those same subscribers took the opportunity to verify themselves using the alias of actual people. 

Very quickly, Twitter Blue created an abundance of impersonators masquerading as verified celebrities and companies. Misinformation was hard to identify, making it tougher to find information in an era already plagued by discrepancies between fact and fiction.

“If you start giving away blue badges to everyone, then it has no value,” Alessandro Bogliari, CEO of the Influencer Marketing Factory, an influencer marketing agency, wrote in an email. “It’s the equivalent of a currency. if you start printing more, it gets devalued. Same for verified badges.”

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A screenshot of a fake account created to appear as pharmaceutical company Eli Lily shows the dangers of allowing anyone to be verified on Twitter.

Shortly after the Twitter Blue re-launch, a tweet was sent from an account using the same logo and name of Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company. It read, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.” The tweet seemed legit — the branding seemed real, as did the company name. It also boasted a blue-check mark, so it had to be true. 

As just one of many misrepresentations that succeeded it, the Eli Lilly tweet was a fake. Even when Twitter finally removed the tweet, more than six hours later, the fraudulent account had more than 1,500 retweets and 10,000 likes. The pharma company’s stock also plummeted $368 a share to $346 a share, reportedly erasing billions in market cap, according to several economic reports. Eli Lilly’s stock price currently sits at roughly $352 as of Nov. 16th.

“I can only imagine the damage a tweet like that made for the company, its employees, stakeholders, shareholders and anyone really related to their offering,” Bogliari said. “Some were able to tweet from their official accounts and restore it a bit. Others, I imagine, used PR and reputation firms to get to a solution fast. But it’s not that easy for all of them… for others it could be potentially a damage so big they won’t be able to survive, not just in terms of market cap/stock value, but also in terms of reputation and customers love.”

The verification mishap affected not only Eli Lilly’s reputability and profitability, but could also spell trouble for Twitter’s revenue stream.

“It’s making it really easy for advertisers to say: ‘You know what, I don’t need to be here anymore,’ and walk away,” Jenna Golden, who previously ran Twitter’s political and advocacy ad sales team, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “People are not just providing inaccurate information but damaging information, with the ability to look legitimate. That is just not a stable place for a brand to invest.”

Sports personalities were also hurt by the preponderance of fake users across Twitter. Basketball star LeBron James trended on the platform after a tweet from someone with the user handle, @KINGJamez, claimed that the 37-year-old was leaving the Los Angeles Lakers to join his former club, the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Adam Schefter, a notable football analyst at ESPN, also trended after someone with the user handle, @AdamSchefterNOT, revealed that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels lost his job. While the user handle clearly indicates that it didn’t come from the actual Adam Schefter, the fact that it was quote tweeted could have led many people to assume it was really Schefter, since many were unlikely to take the time to click and confirm the tweet — and tweeter’s — validity.

These are just a few specific instances where, while a more open verification system could have helped Twitter users, the idea did not lead to a successful implementation.

“Being verified would have given those brands more credibility and be marked as the official brand — impersonation happens also for smaller brands and not just for Fortune 100 companies,” Bogliari said. “So the idea was theoretically good — I would say only for brands and certain individuals and not just for everyone… documents and proof (are still) required but the execution showed us all the flaws.”

Verification issues aside, Twitter faces an uncertain future under Musk’s leadership. As much as 50% of the company’s 7,500 employees predating Musk’s ownership have been laid off under his tenure. The billionaire also revealed that Twitter’s cost-cutting methods are a result of the company losing upwards of $4 million daily. He’s even announced potential bankruptcy if Twitter doesn’t correct its financial woes. 

“I see the Twitter Blue controversy as one of several items that are likely to just make brands and creators look elsewhere in the social media landscape,” Clavio said. “Twitter offers minimal exposure for creators and brands to the public when compared to other networks, and a much higher risk of doing or saying something that can cause a crisis.”

As more people grow skeptical about Twitter, alternatives have started to emerge. More people are visiting platforms like Discord, Reddit, even Tumblr. Others are joining Mastodon, a free and open-source microblogging site that has drawn comparisons to Twitter for its timeline of short updates arranged chronologically rather than algorithmically. 

As recently as Nov. 12th, Mastodon boasted approximately 6.63 million accounts, a 17% increase from the 5.65 million users it had on October 28th. 

From internal struggles to increased competition, Musk inherited a Twitter that, for better or worse, might be on a continual spiral to irrelevancy. 

“It’s clear that the Twitter platform is pretty fractured right now,” Clavio said. “At the end of it all, I think a lot of brands will just opt out of having a presence on Twitter, paid or otherwise. It’s just not big enough of a platform to justify the potential negative exposure.”

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BSM Writers

Christian Arcand Returns To Where It All Started At WEEI

“Going to WEEI was a no-brainer for me. I started there. That’s my radio home.”

Derek Futterman

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Since the turn of the century alone, Boston has hosted 12 ticker tape parades to celebrate championships. Christian Arcand has had the opportunity to experience that success firsthand, initially as a diehard Boston sports fan and then as a voice of the fan. Now as he begins his second stint at the WEEI — this time as a producer and weekend host — he aims to ensure a seamless transition for both the Merloni, Fauria, & Mego afternoon drive show and his career in sports media.

Returning to a station where his Boston radio career began, Arcand enters the same building where he started his last sports media job with 98.5 The Sports Hub. Once the station moved to Dorchester, Massachusetts, WEEI moved its studios to the location – and it is where its shows are broadcast from today. Arcand’s time at 98.5 The Sports Hub ended in being laid off last month; despite that though, going to work evokes feelings of nostalgia and déjà vu.

“Walking back in there for the first time was pretty wild,” Arcand said, who returned to WEEI earlier this week. “I was laid off from The Sports Hub and it was a big surprise to me and to, I think, everybody that [it] happened.”

After graduating from the University of Colorado, Arcand moved back east to work for WDIS AM 1170 in Norfolk, Massachusetts, which he says isn’t really an option for those entering the business today.

“These little stations are all gone,” Arcand expressed. “Those were pipelines to places like WEEI and WFAN and other places in the area. You’d work in Connecticut or you’d work in Rhode Island or whatever and these places all just disappeared.”

Just over a year later, Arcand made the move to ESPN New Hampshire, initially co-hosting Christian and King with Tom King, a sportswriter for the Nashua Telegraph covering the New England Patriots, Boston Bruins and other college and high school sports. The show was broadcast during the midday time slot from noon to 3 p.m. and sought to entertain the audience while informing them about the day’s action.

After nearly four years on the air, Arcand transitioned to work with Pete Sheppard, a former member of the heralded WEEI program The Big Show hosted by Glenn Ordway, on Arcand and Sheppard. Additionally, Arcand was named as the show’s executive producer, meaning that while the show was going on, he was often focused on many different tasks. Once Christian and King was brought back, he continued working in this dual role before the show ended in January 2017, six months before the format flipped from ESPN-branded sports to oldies.

“It was a lot – cutting up all the audio you want to play, then playing it during the show, then cutting the commercial [and] trying to answer the phone,” Arcand said. “It was this whole thing, but I really loved it; we had a lot of fun up there.”

While Arcand currently works at WEEI, it is his second stint with the station – and this time, he is working in a brand new role. He initially joined the station in 2013 as a sports anchor and co-host of the evening program Planet Mikey featuring Mike Adams. Shortly thereafter, he helped launch WEEI Late Night, airing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. where he became known in the Boston marketplace going on the air after the conclusion of Boston Red Sox live game broadcasts.

Unlike his time in New Hampshire though, he was solely hosting and not producing – requiring him to adjust to not having as much oversight regarding the inner workings of each program.

“I’m not a control freak, but I remember [thinking], ‘Wow, this is different. I’m not running the board anymore. I’m not playing my own stuff,’” Arcand said. “….That was kind of jarring at first [but] I ended up working with a lot of great producers and I still am today.”

Mike Thomas, who currently serves as the senior vice president and market manager for Audacy Boston, was integral in building 98.5 The Sports Hub from its launch in August 2009. He was responsible for signing Arcand away from WEEI to join the brand as co-host of The Adam Jones Show airing weeknights.

Working alongside show producer Jeremy Conley, he gained an in-depth understanding of what it entails to produce a sports talk radio show in a major market, helping broaden his knowledge of the craft and position him for his current job with WEEI.

“I really had a good opportunity to learn from some of, I think, the best [producers] in the business,” Arcand said. “….It’s cool being a fan of these guys and then getting to work with them and learn from them and all that other stuff…. It’s really a job that requires a lot, and the guys who are really good at it, I think, are just top-notch.”

Over the last several years, 98.5 The Sports Hub has earned massive wins across the Nielsen ratings, recently finishing number one in the summer book across all dayparts in the men 25-54 demographic. Days later though, the station’s parent company Beasley Media Group made budget cuts, resulting in Arcand and Toucher and Rich producer Mike Lockhart’s employment being terminated.

While Lockhart has since been re-hired after Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb lobbied for the decision to be reversed, Arcand was in the job market quickly mulling over his future in the industry. In fact, it was reported that Arcand was on the verge of signing a three-year contract that would have kept him at the station before the termination of his employment.

“I was so shocked that it had happened and it was sort of hard to deal with it,” Arcand expressed. “Then I was angry about it and then I sort of channeled that into, ‘Okay, what am I going to do next here?’ You start thinking, ‘Is this it? Is this the end of the career? Are you going to even continue doing this?,’ and that was a thought I had a couple of times.”

Arcand’s abrupt departure from 98.5 The Sports Hub and Boston sports radio was short-lived though, as there was a substantial market for his services. In the end, he communicated with Thomas and WEEI operations manager Ken Laird, utilizing industry connections and his own versatility to return to the place where he began working professionally in Boston.

“Seeing that WEEI was in the market for someone on-air and to produce [the afternoon] show, I was right there and willing to try out something I hadn’t done in a while,” Arcand said. “It was a no-brainer, really. Going to WEEI was a no-brainer for me. I started there. That’s my radio home.”

As someone once again “new” to the station, Arcand is looking to foster a working chemistry with afternoon hosts Lou Merloni, Christian Fauria and Meghan Ottolini, along with radio producer Ryan Garvin. Arcand enters the role replacing show executive producer Tyler Devitte who left the station to pursue other opportunities and feels that the composition of the show is unique in the sports radio landscape. In short, it gives them an opportunity to further differentiate themselves from other afternoon programs across multiple platforms of dissemination.

“It’s an interesting show because Lou and Christian are both ex-jocks,” Arcand explained. “It’s rare that you sort of see shows where it’s just two guys like that and it was just them for a while but then with [Glenn] Ordway and then they brought in Meghan [Ottolini].”

Arcand had been listening to the afternoon drive program long before the offer to return to WEEI was made to him and now looks to offer his insight and expertise when necessary. He does not want to enter his new role with insolence or by coming off as dogmatic when expressing his opinions about the show.

“I’m sort of taking the approach of observing more than maybe I would in a couple of weeks from now or something,” he said. “I want to sort of make sure I get the rhythm of the show and the clock and everything like that. Those are all things that you have to be more aware of when you’re behind the glass as opposed to on the air.”

Arcand will be hosting a solo radio program on WEEI every Saturday afternoon, reminiscent of Sunday Service, a weekend show he used to host on 98.5 The Sports Hub. He is excited to be able to return to the Boston airwaves and connect with his audience once a week to bring them the latest sports news and entertaining talk – all while bringing his trademarks of sarcasm and congeniality.

“I’m really comfortable just sitting in the room, cracking the mic and talking with the callers or putting out my points and getting to certain things that I want to touch on,” Arcand said. “….I think my style is one that you just sort of tune in and you’re hanging out with me for a couple of hours.”

Ultimately, Christian Arcand has made the move back to what he refers to as his radio home. As he concludes his first week back at WEEI, he is focused on producing the afternoon drive program and complimenting that with his solo show on Saturdays, the first of which will take place tomorrow from noon to 2 p.m. Through all of his endeavors, he will talk about Boston sports with his listeners no matter the season, giving them a platform to engage with the hyperlocal coverage.

“Being back at WEEI is something that I’m really happy about,” Arcand expressed. “I was excited to get started, [and] now that I’m there, I’m excited to see where we can take this show.”

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BSM Writers

What Twitter Alternatives Exist For Sports Media?

Sports Twitter is a major vehicle that has helped establish the platform’s reputation for accurate and authentic up to the minute information.

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The reality of Twitter dying as a platform was looked at as a bit hyperbolic when Elon Musk first took over the social media network. Now though, it is slowly coming closer and closer to potential reality.

Musk has been on a quest to salvage Twitter’s economic stability but has done so in an irrational and unplanned fashion. The actions he has taken include publicly criticizing his employees and firing them after pushback and firing essential engineers who literally keep the platform from crashing. Developers have even warned Twitter users with two factor authentication to either remove the feature or to remain logged in because the function that handles that process no longer works.

Sports Twitter is a major vehicle that has helped establish the platform’s reputation for accurate and authentic up to the minute information. It has helped establish the careers of insiders such as Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania and Adam Schefter. In case Twitter does actually come to an end, what should reporters who rely so much on the platform do?

Establish an email list through Substack

With permission from their employers, I would suggest starting a newsletter list that they would be able to carry with them in case they decided to leave their employer at some point (all three of the mentioned journos recently signed extensions). Posting on Substack through a mobile device is just as easy as posting on Twitter and it gives users an almost similar experience to what they had with using Twitter in the sense that they could have their email notifications turned on and they could interact with other basketball lovers through Substack’s comments section.

Create a live blog that always exists on your employer’s page

A running page of information that was sponsored and existed on ESPN or Stadium’s page would make digestible, quick hit commentary monetizable for the networks that employ Shams, Woj and Schefter. It brings people back to their employer’s page and establishes even more of a bond between consumers and apps/websites – a connection that has been taken away from many due to the existence of social media.

Establish a Mastodon server

With over a million users, Mastodon has become the closest thing to a Twitter alternative that’s available. Even though signing up for an account is a little confusing and the ability to search for unique users and takes isn’t fully established in comparison to Twitter – Mastodon has a similar look and feel to Elon’s platform and it gives employers more control over who is and isn’t interacting with their employees and what they are able to see. It would make it easier on ESPN or Stadium’s part to constantly promote links to their pages for viewers and readers to consume.

It’s the closest thing that is available to establishing your own social media network without the startup costs, hiring of engineers and figuring out tech issues. An advertising mechanism hasn’t been established yet but ESPN or Stadium could be in the forefront (because of the credibility they bring to the table) of establishing the revenue side of things alongside Mastodon.

Stick it out with Elon

NBC Universal’s advertising head recently told AdAge that NBC is sticking it out with Twitter. Twitter’s ad program has faced setback since Elon’s takeover but it is still much more established and streamlined that anything else available out there that is similar to Twitter. She also said that Twitter is the biggest host of NBC content on the internet (besides NBC owned platforms of course).

If a major company like NBC is standing with Twitter and if most major advertisers haven’t left yet, maybe sports reporters should also stay put for now. Twitter is not a startup. Despite the disarray we read about everyday, it’s still an established company that is up and running. We are all using Twitter itself to talk smack about its mismanagement but the reality is we are all still using Twitter. Even those who have gone away from the platform still come back more often than not to check in on what is happening directly on Twitter.

Maybe the grass will eventually be greener on the other side and Elon will have Twitter on more established ground. Maybe Elon files for bankruptcy and sells it to bankers who create an environment of stability for the company.

The reality is there is no other platform as good at real time reaction than Twitter so maybe sticking it out and keeping status quo is the best thing for everyone to do. See you later on Twitter (follow me @JMKTVShow).

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