A fixture around ESPN and now ABC since the early 1990’s, Mark Jones is still going strong at the “World Wide Leader”. Recently the Toronto native signed a multi-year contract extension, which will keep him calling a variety of sports, including the NBA and College Football, for the network. Jones was named as the Sacramento Kings main television play-by-play announcer in 2020 and calls games on NBC Sports California.
Mark Jones is a former basketball player himself. He attended York University and led the school to three Ontario Universities Athletics Association (OUAA) Championships. York won the title in 1981, 1984 and 1985. During his career, Jones was one of the top players in the OUAA, earning conference second-team all-star honors in 1984 and 1985. In 1986, he finished his career with a first-team all-star nod. Jones still ranks in the program’s top five all-time in total assists and steals. He was inducted into York’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
ROAD TO ESPN AND LIFE AT ESPN
Jones’ broadcasting career began at TSN, which is basically Canada’s ESPN. How he got there had everything to do with his own basketball career. His final collegiate game was televised on TSN and he was interviewed after the game by Peter Watts. Jones tells the story during a chat with The Basketball Writers in 2020.
“I asked Mr. Watts, the guy who interviewed me, “Do you have any jobs for students or soon to be grads? Because I’m pretty well versed in sports, and I’ll do anything you need me to do.”
He said, ‘Young Mr. Jones, call me on Monday morning.’ So, Monday morning at nine o’clock. I called Peter Watts.” Jones recalled.
“He arranged an interview with one of the producers who was doing the hiring, and literally a week later, they told me to show up and I had my first job in television, right after stepping off the basketball court. So, a week after finishing my basketball career at York I was working at TSN as an editorial assistant. That meant watching as many as two or three games at once—whether it was an NBA game, a baseball game or a hockey game—and logging all the crucial points in those respective games. I was then making up a highlight package when the night was done, writing a script to each package and giving it to the anchor.”
After rising from editorial assistant to field reporter to hosting a Blue Jays magazine show to the main anchor, Jones wanted more. He put together a tape, hired an agent and got offers from a few places. After getting a contract offer from the NBC affiliate in Chicago, he flew to the Windy City ready to finalize a deal with WMAQ-TV.
“The next morning my agent calls me and says, ‘Mark, we’re not going to sign with Chicago.’ And I thought, ‘Wow, what happened? Did they pull the deal, Lou, what’s going on?’ And he said, ‘No, ESPN and ABC want to talk to you before you sign anything. They’ve seen your tape too.’ Jones started at ESPN in 1990 and is still there, going strong.
AS A BROADCASTER
My early memory of Jones is when he hosted the weekly NBA show, The NBA Today on ESPN. He would end the show by shooting an imaginary basketball and holding the pose of the follow through as the studio lights went down. It always struck me has hokey, I’m not sure why. But I guess it makes sense now realizing that he was a good basketball player in his college days.
I have to admit, Mark Jones isn’t one of my favorite announcers on ESPN/ABC. There is something about his style that just doesn’t register with me. Sometimes I feel like he tries to be too cool, too smooth, too caught up in catchphrases instead of the game.
“He’s hotter than fish grease”, “He’s deep in his bag” and “put some muscle on the hustle” are just some of the phrases he’ll yell out. Maybe I’m old school (that hurts to even say) and would be fine with just a person that calls the game at a high level.
To be fair to Mark Jones, this is where I tell you to remember that this business we’ve chosen is highly subjective.
Jones, though will come up with a one-liner from time to time that makes everyone smile. Usually the reference is pop-culture related. Case in point during a recent Kings/Spurs game, he witnessed a tremendous layup by Kevin Huerter, faking out two Spurs defenders out of their shorts. Upon seeing the play, he blurted out:
“Oh, Huerter put them on a flight like an IG model. Kevin Huerter with a fake of all fakes.”
Even Huerter himself didn’t really get the reference, judging by his Tweet, he may not have understood, but he liked it.
Look, you don’t last as long as he has at ESPN, if he didn’t have talent. I’m not really debating that. I’m simply saying I would rather hear the game called, with the proper amount of excitement, which he provides, without all the extra. In listening back to a few halves of some NBA games from last season, it’s clear that Jones calls a good game. I know that he knows what he’s doing. Again, the word “solid” comes to mind.
DID YOU KNOW?
Mark Jones is the younger brother of Paul Jones, the radio play-by-play voice of the Toronto Raptors.
Andy Masur is a columnist for BSM and works for WGN Radio as an anchor and play-by-play announcer. He also teaches broadcasting at the Illinois Media School. During his career he has called games for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox. He can be found on Twitter @Andy_Masur1 or you can reach him by email at Andy@Andy-Masur.com.
Hall of Fame Voters Are Still Wrapped Up In a Crusade Fans Aren’t Interested In
“Put in the monsters genetically engineered to hit nothing but dingers!”
Scandal, like taste in music or film, is subjective. Tolerances change based on generations, geography, and any number of other cultural factors. Every year at this time, we are reminded that there is a group of people dead set on defining scandal for sports fans everywhere. That group is the baseball writers casting their ballots each year for who gets into the sport’s Hall of Fame.
The 2023 class is solidified after Tuesday’s announcement. MLB Network devoted nine hours of live television to read one name – Scott Rolen, a perfectly fine and unobjectionable, although uninteresting choice. He is the only modern player that will join Fred McGriff for induction this summer in Cooperstown.
It’s not that there weren’t other, more qualified candidates on the ballot. It is that the majority of voters are operating under the delusion that they are protecting baseball by punishing cheaters.
Every year when the voting results are revealed the same debate rages – do some of the most accomplished players of the steroid era warrant inclusion?
How many more times do these voters have to hear that the majority of sports fans have not thought about Barry Bonds’s head size in a decade? What will it take to get them to realize that most of us do not care what Alex Rodriguez or Roger Clemens were putting in their bodies?
We came for the dingers. All we cared about (for the most part) were the dingers. Put in the monsters genetically engineered to hit nothing but dingers!
As a sport, baseball has a problem with time. The people that cover it revere its past and complain openly about the present state of the game. When the people that the general public relies on to follow the game are married to the idea that we will never see anything as good as what happened 75 to 100 years ago again, you’ve created a real problem for your future.
I am not going to argue that steroid users have been punished enough. I am here to tell you that punishing them in the first place is another example of baseball’s misguided priorities. Steroid use, while illegal, was only ever a scandal because baseball insisted it was.
Let’s cut the bullshit. Steroids saved baseball. Pretending to abhor them and the numbers they created is hypocritical and childish.
I was a huge baseball fan in my youth. I lived through all of the steroid era. I remember being on the phone with my high school girlfriend the night that Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run. As he and Sammy Sosa embraced, I wasn’t thinking about all of the horse hormones coursing through their veins. I was thinking “this is f***ing awesome!”.
Now at 41, I couldn’t give less of a rat’s ass about baseball. Why? Because the people that hold the game sacred have bent over backward to tell me that I should be ashamed of the era that made me fall in love with the game.
The day the newest Hall of Fame class is revealed should be a celebration for any sport. For baseball, it always ends up turning into a day where we wonder if the voters, the media that tell the sport’s story to the public, are living in the same reality we are.
They are married to a scandal that time hasn’t forgotten. Time has decided it was incredibly stupid. Barry Bonds was good for baseball. Roger Clemens was good for baseball. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were Godsends for baseball. In 2023, most sports fans acknowledge that is true.
I genuinely feel bad for Fred McGriff and Scott Rolen. Baseball writers (not all of them, but enough of them) have wielded their power and influence in a way that has turned what should be one of the best days of their professional lives into a day when plenty of us Gen Xers and elder millennials are wondering why we are supposed to ashamed of the stars we grew up watching.
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.
John Kincade Enters His Third Act
“Put down your phone and listen instead of constantly trying to get feedback from a bunch of faceless people on social media.”
It is exceedingly rare in sports media to host a radio show that lasts for over two decades, bringing listeners compelling talk and opinion about their favorite teams. John Kincade achieved that feat with his co-host Buck Belue in Atlanta on 680 The Fan and viewed himself as part of a family. The station, owned by Dickie Broadcasting, embraced Kincade and the skillset he brought on to the airwaves – and he viewed himself as a trusted voice in the city’s sports media landscape. Then in December 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the radio station droped him in a cost-cutting move that suddenly put his livelihood in flux.
“It was one of the greatest shocks of my career, but it also taught me something,” Kincade said. “It taught me to prepare myself because no matter who you are or what you are in this industry, there could be a reason at some point that your employer says, ‘We can’t afford you anymore,’ or, ‘We don’t want you anymore’ and you’ve got to go.”
As a native of Broomall, Penn., Kincade was always captivated by Philadelphia sports media personalities, including Howard Eskin who he would later have a chance to learn from as an intern at WIP 610. After doing sports at the television station at Cardinal O’Hara High School and broadcasting local events on community television, he decided to matriculate at Temple University: one of the top broadcasting schools in the country.
Working in radio was never a given for Kincade, though. Although he always had a passion for sports media, finding a full-time job in the industry was hardly facile and part of the reason why he chased internship opportunities to complement his participation in student media outlets on campus.
As an undergraduate student majoring in radio, television and film, Kincade worked with the Philadelphia Flyers’ coaching staff compiling statistics and video, meaning he was often around the team. As a result, when he was offered a chance to be a Flyers correspondent with Tony Bruno on WCAU, he had to receive permission to work in the role from head coach Mike Keenan. While Keenan granted Kincade’s request, it came with the caveat that if he ever divulged team secrets or sensitive information, he would immediately be fired by the organization.
“I would have strong opinions but I had to be very, very careful not to give away any information and I always had to make sure that I was well-versed in what I was saying,” Kincade explained. “It always had me a little bit on eggshells but it also had me… prepared.”
From there, Kincade worked at WIP where he was afforded the chance to go on the air by then-program director Tom Bigby. Additionally, Kincade contributed to Angelo Cataldi’s program and developed a relationship with the host – little did he know they would become competitors in Philadelphia morning drive years later. Cataldi had a profound influence on Kincade’s career, serving as an example of how to express himself and tirelessly improve at his craft in an industry predicated on sustained success.
“I got to see him and work with him when he was building the brand; not this juggernaut corporation that he’s built that has been this incredibly successful venture,” Kincade said. “I watched him put in the hard work when he was still a young radio guy.”
Working in radio was only a part-time gig for Kincade, as he landed a job in regional sales and marketing for Shared Medical Systems (SMS) [currently “Siemens”] two years out of college. His expertise in the field led to a quick ascension to the point where he was making a six-figure salary in his latter years. On the side, he was a high school hockey coach, maintaining his passion for the sport while still contributing to WIP 610 and, in the process, receiving minimal amounts of sleep each day.
Then in 1995, he was told by SMS of an opportunity to work in Atlanta and relocated, picking up part-time radio work on the weekends at 680 The Fan. Kincade was operating at a pace bereft of considerable time to recuperate and thrived until it all came to a screeching halt.
Less than a year into his time in Atlanta, Kincade was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Fortunately, the cancer was detected early enough to where it could be treated with chemotherapy and radiation, and he was able to continue to work at his unremitting pace. Two years later though, Kincade was told he had testicular cancer, causing him to undergo more treatment and surgery. By this time, he had taken a new job as director of new business development at First Consulting Group, but internally he thought his days on earth were numbered.
“I didn’t have confidence that I was ever going to get to be a guy like I am now with some gray hair,” Kincade said. “I believed my life wasn’t going to be that long.”
Kincade had a powerful realization during his second bout with cancer that he needed to expend his efforts into chasing his passion of sports radio. It catalyzed him to give up his lucrative sales job to work in sports radio in an attempt to fulfill his childhood dream.
“Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Kincade said. “People will roll their eyes and go, ‘What are you talking about?’ Without it, I wouldn’t have had the guts to change careers and I think I may have missed out on one of the greatest rides of my life.”
Since that moment, Kincade experienced a precipitous rise as a sports media personality and began refining his style to best appeal to the audience. In 1999 following a two-year stint at 790 The Zone, Kincade was signed on as an afternoon host with 680 The Fan (where he worked part-time in 1995) to form a duo with former University of Georgia quarterback Buck Belue. The new program, titled Buck and Kincade, quickly became a staple of sports coverage in Atlanta. The locale was a melting pot – an amalgamation of sports fans and rooting interests – that, at the time, Kincade says was a “fledgling sports radio market.”
The show endured changes in media and a growing sect of sports fans solely invested in the local teams, lasting for over two decades before the station decided to move on in December 2020. Over that stint in Atlanta, though, Kincade had been involved in a variety of other projects, including hosting a nationally-syndicated Sunday morning show on the weekends called The John Kincade Show on ESPN Radio. Nine years later, his show moved to CBS Sports Radio and gave him a chance to connect with a national audience and discuss the world of sports and, of course, the football games that would kick off a few hours later.
“I would always have a show with a bunch of different segments in it and little things that became sort of unique benchmarks of what I did,” Kincade said. “I enjoyed making it my own and getting to do mornings.”
In these roles spanning over 15 years, Kincade not only hosted his own program but also filled in for other radio personalities on their shows as needed. Some of the hosts he sat in for include Colin Cowherd, Dan Patrick, Scott Van Pelt and Mike Greenberg, fortuitous occurrences that engendered him heightened exposure and reach towards their embedded audiences.
Additionally, Kincade launched The Big Podcast with Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal where they would discuss basketball, sports and the world of pop culture at large. It was a memorable experience for Kincade. The show was produced by Rob Jenners who also worked at 680 The Fan and found creative ways to keep listeners entertained within every episode.
“He was an amazing, amazing partner,” Kincade said. “[We had] so much fun; I had so many laughs…. On my deathbed, I will be remembering some of the fun and stupid things we used to do on the Shaq podcast.”
Kincade joined 97.5 The Fanatic in January 2021 as the host of The John Kincade Show airing weekday mornings from 6 to 10 a.m. Moving back to work in Philadelphia for the first time in over two decades was not an insurmountable task for him since he had been closely following the teams in the area and making biweekly appearances on Cataldi’s show. Today, he likes to think of himself as a collaborator who aims to create original content and a distinct sound consumers will not be able to find anywhere else.
“I don’t like the sort of 1990s/early 2000s of sports talk radio where it’s one person on a mic just taking a bunch of phone calls,” Kincade said. “I enjoy interaction; I enjoy creating unique and compelling segments that don’t require throwing out the phone number and literally just saying to my callers, ‘Here, you provide me the content.’ I like creating content and then being able to deliver that content and having listeners that will interact [with] what I’m talking about.”
The importance of being cognizant of both the marketplace and in what consumers want to hear is paramount to drive ratings and revenue; however, he does not want his show to be solely caller-driven. Instead, he tries to engage the listeners by presenting thought-provoking topics, giving his opinion on them and then opening it up to callers to join the conversation. It is a philosophy many sports radio hosts do not agree with Kincade on – doing anything different though, he says, likens the callers to aspects of show preparation.
“You’re letting the plumber; the electrician; the doctor; the lawyer make the decisions about what the content of your show is,” Kincade said regarding caller-driven programs. “I think that’s crazy because they’re not going to be there to pay your bills someday if the station decides to let someone else do the show. You’ve got to be a strong content creator and you’ve got to run your show first. You can’t just toss someone the keys and say, ‘Yeah, wherever you want to drive me today, you drive me there.’ I think that’s nuts.”
Philadelphia sports have been passed down through the progeny of local residents, requiring a hyperlocal focus to maintain interest. Otherwise, there are plenty of other options out there for consumers to explore more closely related to their niche sports interests.
“You have to be much more focused because honestly – I’m not using myopic in a bad way – but in Philadelphia, if you’re not talking about what Philadelphians want to talk about, they’re turning the dial,” Kincade said. “They’re not going to pay attention to you.”
SportsRadio 94WIP host Angelo Cataldi is set to retire either the week after the Philadelphia Eagles are eliminated from the playoffs or following the parade if they win the Super Bowl. Over the years, there have been morning drive ratings battles between Cataldi on SportsRadio 94WIP and Kincade on 97.5 The Fanatic, a challenge Kincade described as “like going 15 rounds in a prize fight.” The impending shift from Cataldi to the duo of Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie gives Kincade and his team a chance to expand their audience and appeal to new segments of the marketplace.
“The younger listeners in Philadelphia have been finding us and have been paying a lot of attention to our show since the day we took to the airwaves because we sound different; we’re a different show,” Kincade said. “We’ll expand on that; we’ll continue to work with that…. Angelo may have a departure week and a goodbye week, but we have our own things planned to have our own sort of welcome party to the people who may be looking to say, ‘Hey, I’d like to try something different in the mornings in Philadelphia.’”
In addition to his radio show, Kincade is teaching a talk radio course as an adjunct professor at Temple University, his alma mater.. He is developing an original curriculum to help foster the next generation of broadcasters, giving them expertise and advice on how to build a career in the uber-competitive industry. The new job is indicative of his “third act,” something he was asked about from his former agent Norman Schrutt.
Schrutt, a renowned radio executive known as the “Radio Rabbi,” was a tactician when it came to negotiating favorable terms of employment, according to Kincade, and would tell his clients upon signing a contract to “just shut up and go to work.” He always challenged Kincade to pursue another act in his career, though, and Kincade has found his chance in teaching the craft for which he gave up a steady career to pursue.
“He was the perfect mentor to sort of guide me and I enjoyed getting a chance to learn from him,” Kincade said of Schrutt. “….When I [went] into my classroom last week for the first time, I thought to myself, ‘Well Norm, I’m following through. This is going to be my third act.’”
Some of the advice he plans to share with his students focuses on how to stay original and generate content conducive to success, focusing on being versatile in your abilities and being yourself on the air.
“If you’re thin-skinned, get out now because you will never survive,” Kincade stated. “Put down your phone and listen instead of constantly trying to get feedback from a bunch of faceless people on social media. The people on social media, whether they’re real or not; they’re not giving you feedback that’s going to help you be more successful. Stay less driven by trying to pander to Twitter or Instagram and be more focused on the radio content that you create each day.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Relationships Matter to Jessamyn McIntyre
“For me, I want to see everyone walk out of that place feeling like they did a good job today. That makes me feel like I did a good job.”
Sometimes, it’s difficult to focus on the present rather than the past. Some people reminisce about yesteryear too much. It might be easy to think about a previous partner rather than focus on your current relationship. I wonder how many times Tom Brady randomly thought about his former New England Patriots team and Bill Belichick during his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He might have outstanding avocado mind control, but the point is that it’s easy to look back instead of looking forward.
This isn’t the case for Jessamyn McIntyre. The new assistant program director at KJR in Seattle isn’t thinking about her previous employer, she’s looking ahead. Although Jessamyn worked in the Pacific Northwest for an upstart ESPN Radio affiliate back in 2009, she isn’t hung up on her current Seattle crosstown rival. Her focus is on KJR, the here and now, and the station’s future. Jessamyn also talks about not having a list, growing up on the East Coast and what’s most important to her. Enjoy!
Brian Noe: What’s the backstory of your first name? Is there one?
Jessamyn McIntyre: It’s not really all that crazy. My mom read an author in college named Jessamyn West. She just liked the name and kept it in her head until she had a baby. It’s funny, she’s like “I don’t know her. She was fine to read, but I just liked the name.”
BN: I like it. How are things going for you right now as the new APD at KJR?
JM: I’m only in my third week, and two of them have had holidays so far. I’m really not too far along in my onboarding there, except that getting back into sports talk radio just shows me how much I love it. I wasn’t sure if that was definitely going to be the rest of my life, and all of a sudden, I’m back doing exactly what I love doing every day and connecting with listeners. It’s something that I didn’t realize how much I missed, and it’s amazing.
I love producing. I love working with the people who are in that business. Now all of a sudden, I’m working with some people who were interns for me back when I was at my previous station. I’m like, wow, look at how far you’ve come. This is amazing. I’m so excited for you. There’s a lot of familiar faces around. I’ve been out here for almost 14 years now. Having been in the sports business for the majority of that time, I am just really glad to be back in it.
BN: Even though it’s very early on for you, what’s a typical day like for you from when you arrive in the morning, to when you go home?
JM: Well, obviously I’m paying attention to everything that’s going on. I like to look for highlights. I like to look for good sound. I like to look for good stories and I like to create good stories. My first week was learning the lay of the land and a new space. Now, I’m up and running and producing and a part of our midday show from 1-3 with Ian Furness. We’re coming up with new angles to talk about things.
There’s a lot of retread in the business and what I try to do is think of how not to re-say the same thing over and over and not let a conversation get stale. I’m always looking for new voices to add to the station who can contribute to that. Looking at how we can be a little more interconnected between our shows as well, and just bringing everyone together. That was my favorite part of my previous role in sports talk was bringing everyone in the building together. That’s something that is still early for me, but I feel like I’m developing good relationships so far.
BN: Where did you live before moving to Seattle?
JM: I grew up in New York. I went to Springfield College to study sports journalism. I double majored in English as well. I played volleyball, which is one of the bigger reasons that I went there because I could start. [Laughs] Then shortly after graduating I got hired at ESPN in Bristol. That’s where I started my career. I got hired at ESPN Radio.
I was more of a writer in college. But I really liked the people in radio, and I really liked the medium for connecting and distributing information because you can be so much faster. You don’t need B-roll. You don’t need pictures. You don’t need any of that. You can just go with news and the voices that you have there. Going all the way back to learning at the age of 23, to now realizing that radio really is something special.
BN: What was it like for you to come from the East Coast to Seattle? And not just radio, how different was the vibe and just fitting in there for you?
JM: Well, the East Coast — and I’m sure you know this — is a little bit harsher of a sports media environment. It was a lot more relaxed here. I’m a little bit of a tenacious person, so learning how to relate to people having come from the opposite coasts — and by the way, I moved out here sight unseen — so I didn’t know anything about it. I just knew good market, good teams that I kind of watched from afar, but don’t know as much about immersing myself in the sports environment here was really wonderful. People are more interested in a conversation rather than ragging on teams and talking down about everything. Not everyone on the East Coast does that, but you just hear more of a negative tone. I think it was a smoother transition that you can make going East to West than what I would imagine West to East would be.
BN: Yeah, definitely. What have you been able to either learn the most or figure out that has made the biggest difference when you are producing a show?
JM: I would say that relationships matter quite a bit. I’ve always been a relationship person, but the relationships that you build can truly have an impact on the product that you’re putting out. It’s important to remember that, and that no relationship is worth ruining just because you want to have a hot take one day. Just being understanding, but it’s okay to have an opinion that someone might not like.
Those are things that through the years I have learned that, okay, the first time I made someone mad because of something that one of my hosts said, I felt really awful about it. Then you realize, okay, well, that’s okay as long as you were fair. It’s all right. But now it’s easier to brush off even though I still feel bad sometimes. I think that when you’re working in any environment in any medium, the relationships you have with the people that you work with are at the top of the list. That’s how you build a successful environment and a cohesive environment and that will never change throughout the rest of my career.
BN: What have you been able to take from doing national stuff, that you now apply to a local scene?
JM: That’s actually an interesting question. When I was in a national environment, it was national headlines, right? It didn’t matter what the market was. The transition going local, it was a bit of a challenge for me to be honest because I’m still so in tune with looking at the biggest story of the day, which I viewed as the national story of the day. Then I realized that the people in your market, which has been Seattle for me for this long, they don’t care that much about the national story. They care about the big ones, for sure, but they want to know about their teams.
It’s not so much what translates from national to local, it’s more what the headlines are for this specific city. This was the first time I had worked at any local market. I think that made me more in tune to listening to people, whether you’re sitting at a restaurant or at a party and listening to what they care about, and then really getting in touch with your listeners. That is an immersive experience that you have to take seriously. Like I said, I’m a tenacious person, and I’m like, well, yeah, but LeBron is going to Miami. But that might not be the headline for the people who are actually listening to us.
BN: Is there anything else that you’ve done over the years to fully understand what the listeners in your area value?
JM: Well, you can dig into the ratings any day. You can look at your quarter hours, and you can see what people actually tune into. But I think the biggest thing is connecting with the people who are in the media, who have been here already. I talked to the writers at the time; Seahawks, Mariners were the biggest thing. This was back in 2009 when I came out here, and kind of picking their brains about it.
But then also, really listening to listeners. Whether it be through their communication through social media, and that can always be taken with a grain of salt, but also, when you’re just out and about and you’re listening to people and hearing what they say. You go to a local establishment, what games are on TV? It’s not easy, and it takes a long time. But through communication, through calls, and then you always go back to the ratings. What were people really interested in hearing this day? Previously, ESPN was the big four letters that you would always tune into, but who do you want to hear talk about the stories that you care about?
That’s really what I care about, is what people want to hear. Tapping into that is not that easy because there’s so many mediums that you could pay attention to, and you can’t focus on one tweet, one text, one email, you have to really see what the majority of people care about. But also not forget about that one person that might care about this one high school championship game that’s going on. I really like that KJR focuses on not just one team, they focus on everything that’s going on in the state in the sports world.
BN: What’s the biggest battle you’ve had to fight in your career?
JM: I think that honestly, the pandemic presented the biggest challenge without sports going on. We’ve got to be on air every single day. What do you talk about? What I did not like to bring up were things that were controversial related to the pandemic. People do not tune in to us for that, there’s plenty of other stations that they could listen to if that’s what they wanted. I don’t mean to always call sports an escape. I don’t believe that that’s what they technically are at all times, but sometimes they are. Especially when it got scary, when sports shut down, that was frightening for a lot of people.
It was a challenge for me to come up — I was the producer at the time — come up with things that we could talk about, while we had nothing to talk about. That was the biggest one. It was a personal struggle with me to put my hosts in the best position that they could be in. That was definitely my biggest challenge during that time. I came up with creative ways to at least let us have fun and hopefully our audience did too.
BN: You started at a competing station. Being in that same market, does that have any impact on how you view the entire market now?
JM: No, I have dear friends. I mean, at this point, having been in this market for this long, it doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, a talk show host on my station, a talk show host on another station, if you’re a television host, I pretty much know everyone and you’re going to have a hard time getting me not to make you my friend. I think we are all working for the same thing. I am more focused on what we do where I am, than I am on anything else anyone else is doing.
When I came out here, I was very competitive. But instead it shifted for me to focus on my team and what we’re doing. And that’s really what I care about. I’ll never say a bad thing about the people that you might consider competition. I just think that we’re all trying to do the same thing and entertain people with talking about sports.
BN: You covered Mike Leach at Washington State. What are your thoughts about him passing away recently?
JM: Well, I was heartbroken. I was very close to him. I had talked to him throughout the football season. We texted quite frequently. I think that people who were close to him and the entire sports world lost someone very special.
BN: Yeah, absolutely. As an APD, is there a particular area of the radio operation that you focus on the most, or that you would like to focus on more going forward?
JM: I think that we need to be more cohesive between shows. That’s not saying that it doesn’t exist already. I just think that we can completely work as a whole team together. We have a lot of remote shows. Shows are all over the place all the time. Not everyone’s in the building at the same time and things like that. That’s one focus. I want us all to be a team. I think the team that we have is so strong, and we all do work for each other right now. But being new in the building, I want to be the glue between everyone during all of that. I’m taking that all upon myself because they’re all doing such a great job of it already. I would just like to be the connection point that I don’t know is always there, but it’s a great thing when we’re on site doing things. That’s just a first look.
I will say that everyone there is so kind, and always treats each other with respect, so it’s not a problem. I just want to make sure that we’re all touching points at all times. That’s difficult when you have a morning show that starts at six and an afternoon drive show that starts at three. As an APD, I try to be there in the building to touch points with every show throughout the day, so that I’m at least there seeing all four shows. I would also like to make a point to be present for our newest partner, which happened last year before I was there, but the Seattle Kraken, who are having a fantastic season right now. That is something that I need to focus on as well because they are brand new, and I haven’t worked with them that closely before. That is another thing that I’m going to work on.
BN: It sounds like such a simple thing, just crossing over or acknowledging other shows. What do you think helps put hosts in the habit of doing that?
JM: Honestly, I think producers are the biggest part of that. I think they do such a good job. Let’s think about something that the morning show did. Well, that was a great thing that they did, let’s talk about it in the next show. And, hey, we have this great audio from a guest we had, or let’s say breaking news happens in the middle of a show where the producer is running the board. The hosts are focused on what they’re talking about. Someone else can come in and let them know, hey, just making sure you saw this.
Like you said, it does sound so simple. But having each other all rushing towards this one thing that is a big thing that happened or multiple things that happened. I’ve done simple things like starting to communicate more via email, hey, this is what happened on our show. Here’s some great audio if you want to use it. It’s just the little, simple things that can go a long way. It really is all about communication. It’s not like I’m seeing a lack of that at all. I just want to make sure that I’m infusing myself in it.
BN: What’s important to you? When your workday is done, what gives you a sense of, hey, today was a good day, I did a good job, I provided some value. What is it that gives you that feeling?
JM: For me, I want to see everyone walk out of that place feeling like they did a good job today. That makes me feel like I did a good job. If I see everyone’s happy with their show, this was great, and I try to communicate what I heard that was great on their shows as well. When I see people walk out of that place like, yeah, that was a great show. That’s what I want to see every single day. That’s honestly more of what my focus is, it’s making sure that everyone feels that way when they walk out.
BN: As far as your future goes, what’s something that would personally make you happy, or something that you want to check off your list if there is such a thing?
JM: You know what, I don’t have that kind of list. I always wanted to be a sideline reporter and 11 years later, I’m still sideline reporting for Washington State. I have done that and I absolutely love it. I never had management goals before. I get goals when I get into a place. That’s when I make them, but I’m not a five-year-plan person. I would be really thrilled to watch this place flourish even more than it has after I got there. I want to see people who are happy to work there. As far as I know and can see, everyone really is. I want to help them reach their goals, and that would make me satisfied.