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Mike Monaco Remains Grounded While His Star Rises

“There’s no substitute for the hard work component…Just bring a thirst and a great unparalleled work ethic to it.”

Derek Futterman




Baseball in the calendar year 2023 looks and feels drastically different with history being made in ways never before perceived as possible. The pitch clock has had a dual effect in that it has correlated to a shorter average game duration of two hours and 38 minutes – down from last year’s figure of three hours and eight minutes), but has also caused batters to accumulate balls or strikes through a timer violation of some kind. As a play-by-play announcer, Mike Monaco precipitously felt the effect of the rule changes when calling a Boston Red Sox spring training game against the Atlanta Braves. The score was tied at 6, and the Braves had the bases loaded with a chance to win the game.

On a 3-2 count with two outs in the ninth inning, Red Sox pitcher Robert Kwiatkowski prepared to deliver a potential game-altering pitch; however, the umpire quickly gestured to stop play and mark a seminal moment in baseball history. Atlanta Braves shortstop Cal Conley was called out without a pitch being thrown since he was not set in the batter’s box with at least eight seconds to go.

The crowd at JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, spring training home of the Boston Red Sox, had just witnessed something new: the first professional baseball game to end on a pitch clock violation, and in a tie nonetheless. “America’s Pastime” has officially been altered, and now there is no turning back.

“I said to Lou Merloni – who had just finished calling his first Red Sox TV game because his experience in the past had been on radio for Red Sox broadcasts – I said, ‘Did you think you’d go viral in your first game in the booth?,’” Monaco recalls. “It was a crazy ending, and at that point, we were still sifting through the mechanics of the call.”

Just as the new rule alters pitchers in terms of their usual sequence, it has changed the way hitters approach a plate appearance. Because they are only allowed to call for a timeout once per at bat, along with the fact that they need to be ready at the plate by the point in the countdown where at least eight seconds are remaining, batters must remain focused and locked in at all times.

Moreover, the institution of the pitch clock has, in essence, altered the sound of a game broadcast and forced commentators to render their points more compendious and succinct in nature.

“It’s made me rethink about how I set up stories and how quickly I try to get into something,” Monaco expressed. “In the past, you might be able to meander into something and then kind of get your story started and your point across in a more ‘folksy’ way that we always think of with baseball broadcasting. It’s definitely changed how I view it from a broadcast perspective.”

In listening back to the call, Monaco’s reaction is obviously one of shock and mesmerization, and it can be discerned that most viewers felt the same way. As a broadcaster, he portrayed the feelings of the audience at that moment, demonstrating his adept versatility and instincts.

Make no mistake about it – Monaco is familiar with the history of the Boston Red Sox. He has been watching the team both at Fenway Park and at home since he was young, and he considers their play to have been a vehicle that fueled his love of sports. Reflecting on his time as a young Boston sports fan, he realizes that he was spoiled with success, highlighted by the Red Sox breaking the infamous, 86-year “Curse of the Bambino” when the team won the 2004 World Series.

Since the turn of the century, the New England Patriots, led by head coach Bill Belicheck and quarterback Tom Brady, formed a dynasty and won six Super Bowl championships. The Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins have had formidable chances to win multiple titles over the last 20 years as well, with the teams securing glory in 2008 and 2011, respectively.

Aside from being an avid fan of the teams, Monaco was an athlete himself, yet inherently aware that he had no chance of completing the path to competing professionally. As a student at Cohasset High School, Monaco played baseball and basketball and, in his senior year, was named captain of the soccer team. When it was time to think about applying to college, Monaco decided to try and study to become a general manager of a Major League Baseball team, an occupation with only, at most, 30 potential job openings.

During his formative years as an undergraduate student attending the University of Notre Dame, Monaco remained focused on his classwork but joined various campus organizations including the school’s newspaper and radio station.

Through opportunities to write and broadcast on these platforms, he recognized that he wanted to pursue a career in sports media, leading him to major in journalism and learn the trade. From Notre Dame softball games, fencing events and even football contests between different dorms, Monaco covered all different types of sports at a high level, and also worked to develop hosting skills in the campus radio studios.

Additionally, he was promoted to sports editor of the school newspaper and had the ability to cover events and write a variety of stories disseminated to the local community. The athletic department’s decision to begin streaming games engendered additional chances for him to take the microphone, providing him with a litany of repetitions and the credentials needed to land an internship.

“For two years in college in the summers, I interned in the Cape Cod Baseball League calling baseball games,” Monaco said. “It was 44 games in a little less than two months, so basically a game every day. I knew that I loved it; I loved hanging out at the batting cages during batting practice in the afternoons and talking to players and coaches, and it’s really cool how many guys I know from there.”

The Wareham Gatemen, the team for whom he called these games, exposed him to the quotidian nature of the sport and how to prepare and execute broadcasts. Before that though in the summer after his freshman year, Monaco had interned with New England Sports Network (NESN), specifically on its Boston Red Sox broadcasts.

For select games, his role was to sit in an edit bay throughout the duration of the Red Sox game and help produce a 30-second commercial for the next contest. By being present, he discerned the conversations happening in the broadcast truck between producers, directors, broadcasters, and other personnel. It allowed him to develop a cognizance of industry jargon, invaluable to cultivating a fastidious approach in his preparation that continues to pay dividends today.

“There’s no shortcut for it,” Monaco said of preparation, “and it’s the baseline expectation of a fanbase tuning into your game, whether that’s a national broadcast or a local broadcast. They are watching because they care so much about the team – or maybe about a family member or a friend on the team – or just fandom. You can’t cheat that, and you can’t shortcut it.”

By the time he was a senior at the university, Monaco became a media assistant with the South Bend Cubs in its first year as a minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. The roster featured future major league players to go with an environment where development was at the top of mind.

By that fall, he was off to Western Michigan University, not to attain another degree, but to broadcast its basketball games, marking his first job out of college with some pressure to prove the people that took a chance on him sagacious in doing so. The games were televised on ESPN3, granting the production team the capability to establish its own identity and make the broadcasts unique and compelling to watch.

“It gave me a chance on air to try different things and to make mistakes and to learn,” Monaco said. “….Through the basketball season, [I found] ways to tell stories about the same team and [not only covered] them each time I had their game, but [tried] to bring something new to it. It was an amazing experience.”

The next spring, Monaco resumed his baseball duties – this time with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, a minor league affiliate of the San Diego Padres. In broadcasting a sport with an average of less than 20 minutes of action, a fundamental aspect of the job is in attracting and maintaining an audience, something that is often done by being invested in the game while having synergy with on-air partners.

“To really be a good partner and a good teammate, even with the production crew as well, and to accentuate the other people that are a part of the broadcast and to bring out their strengths and be a good point guard so to speak,” Monaco described as part of his role. “That’s a lot of what I think being a play-by-play [announcer] is – to have that role and to hopefully put others in a position to be successful and make them feel comfortable and bring out their best characteristics.”

Over the time Monaco assimilated into working professionally in sports media, he sought out and received advice from many prominent broadcasters in the field, such as Sean McDonough, Adam Amin, and Len Kasper. As time has gone on, he has established relationships with Brian Anderson and Jason Benetti, receiving insight and expertise into what it takes to succeed in the industry and how to best position himself moving forward. One method anyone pursuing a career in most professions could take is by aligning oneself with a proven commodity, something that has been refined and established with the proper ethos.

By joining the Pawtucket Red Sox as an intern in broadcast and media relations in the spring of 2017, Monaco was doing just that. The organization has a long list of alumni who have made the transition from the minors to the majors over the years, including Cincinnati Bengals radio play-by-play voice Dan Hoard; San Francisco Giants broadcaster Dave Flemming; and New York Mets television play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen. Yet when he joined the organization, regularly going on air was no guarantee, and the situation became more unpredictable when the team landed a local television deal.

In the end, Monaco was assigned to broadcast Saturday home games in the first season and performed other tasks under Josh Maurer and Will Flemming, both of whom now broadcast Major League Baseball games on the radio. When Flemming received a chance to broadcast Boston Red Sox games, Monaco was paired in the booth with Maurer, forming a duo that called games throughout the course of the 2019 season.

“You’re right in the Boston market basically, and there’s coverage from Red Sox media of the PawSox, [so] that was a great learning experience too [in] being a step closer to the major leagues and seeing how things operate. It was three amazing years there, and I’m still really close with all those people and wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

In the midst of his final season with the Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien was unable to broadcast two late-season home games against the Baltimore Orioles. As a result, Monaco was paired with Jerry Remy and Dennis Eckersely, officially receiving his call to the show and a new vantage point from which to watch the game at historic Fenway Park.

“Two of the biggest days of my career to that point and two days that I still hold really closely to my heart,” Monaco said of the occurrence. “I was incredibly excited. I couldn’t believe [it] when they called me to tell me that they were going to have me fill in for Dave. It was an honor then to fill in, and it’s an honor any time I fill in now.”

Broadcasting his childhood team alongside Remy and Eckersley was somewhat intimidating for Monaco, but an opportunity he knew he would never pass up. Feeling excitement, nerves and disbelief as he entered the NESN broadcast booth, he remembers both color commentators making him feel comfortable and affirming the value his intellect and impressions garnered. They offered to adjust to him and try to make the broadcast as enjoyable as possible, helping make that stretch even more memorable.

“I’ll never forget [that], and I hope to pass that on to any new partner that I work with at whatever level down the road,” Monaco expressed. “They really did go out of their way to make me feel like I was supposed to be there and that my opinions, thoughts and words were as valuable as theirs. Certainly, the experience factor says otherwise.”

Since that time, Monaco has had several chances to broadcast Red Sox games on NESN, requiring somewhat of an adjustment from his days in the minor leagues. Additionally, he has been given the chance to fill in for Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox games in parts of the last few years.

For starters, Major League Baseball teams, especially in large markets, receive what may seem like an interminable amount of press. As a result, there is an unimpeded circulation of news, analysis, statistics and other information that factors into the broadcast. Furthermore, a large proportion of fans are recurring viewers of content related to their favorite teams, indicating that they comprehensively and instantaneously know the ins and outs of what is happening.

“There’s just a baseline understanding between announcers and [the] audience of who guys are that I [do not] necessarily need to rehash a player’s backstory when I’m doing a game on NESN,” Monaco said, “whereas there’s maybe a little bit more introduction of who someone is in the minor leagues to a listener in a town where the fanbase isn’t as big.”

Around the time when he began working with the Pawtucket Red Sox, Monaco signed a deal to broadcast games for FOX Sports and the Big Ten Network including football, soccer, volleyball, and lacrosse. Calling myriad sports with varying rules and rosters without a fixed, recurring role took an adjustment period, but fostered an even greater sense of versatility and value in his craft.

“There have been times in the fall or even in the spring where I might have five games in five days and they might be three different sports,” Monaco said. “Trying to keep everything straight is a challenge, but it’s also the joy in this and it’s why you get into it in the first place. It doesn’t feel like work.”

Although he continues to keep in touch with lead NHL on ESPN play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough, Monaco says that their relationship had no direct influence on his joining the network in 2019. It took considerable effort for Monaco to learn the game well enough to be considered for professional broadcasting roles, and surely his time calling college hockey at Notre Dame gave him somewhat of a background in the nuances of a sport predicated on dynamic action.

Last March, he made his debut and today calls a variety of national contests throughout the course of the regular season; in fact, he estimates that, at this point, he has worked with nearly every one of the property’s analysts.

“I’ve learned a ton just from sitting next to them at a morning skate [and] over the course of a two-and-a-half hour broadcast as well,” Monaco said. “It’s an incredibly challenging sport to call, but it’s incredibly rewarding.”

The skill and abilities of the athletes to play with finesse and physicality on the ice make the sport somewhat of an outlier in that no matter the situation, fans are always at the edge of their seats. In an era with interminable amounts of distraction and other activities to engross oneself in, hockey shines through and holds its broadcasters to a high standard to keep up and cohesively describe the game.

“It’s the fastest sport there is,” Monaco said. “That’s a reason why I think from a sheer fan entertainment perspective, I think it’s the most enjoyable sport. If you plop down at a sporting event, it’s the most enjoyable sport to watch in person because of how fast it moves paired with the incredible skill in the game.”

No matter the broadcast, commentators have set a standard since the advent of sports media in acting as acquiring information and delivering it on the broadcast, instantiated in an objective manner. Although there is opinion imbued in sports broadcasting, stellar broadcasts utilize it to contribute to the game story rather than attack individuals personally. In having a platform with the capability of reaching a large number of people, Monaco and his broadcast team, whether it is on NESN, ESPN, or the ACC Network for college football, has a responsibility to precisely depict the game and, if the situation calls for it, accompany it with mirthful moments.

“If someone has a career game, that might be the biggest moment of their life at that point,” Monaco said. “I feel a duty to be prepared to hopefully tell that story accurately for how that person got to this point and what this moment means for them.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the time thereafter, a question about sending broadcasters to road games has been posed throughout the industry – and it made gathering stories to tell considerably more difficult. Those opposing broadcasts on the road usually cite how it hurts teams financially and that a comparable product can be generated from a remote site, while those in favor talk about the importance of being able to discern the whole game and gain intangibles through their observations.

In Major League Baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Angels are the only franchises that do not send their English radio announcers on the road for games – and they have received a fair amount of backlash for their decisions.

Monaco is of the belief that broadcasts sound better when announcers travel with the team and call the games in person, but also understands the other side of the quandary. There were occasions when he flew back home to Chicago just to call a game remotely, and he still continues to do so in special circumstances. He knows the stretch of time doing it regularly was a challenge for him and adjusted his means of preparation. The relationships with those around the industry made the time easier in keeping an open line of communication and remaining in the subconscious of decision-makers.

“I think in any industry that’s probably the name of the game,” Monaco said of relationship building. “In any walk of life, it’s great. What you’ve done and what you’re capable of, but also who you know is really important.”

While he tries to resist thinking about future goals and instead remain grounded in everything he is presently doing, Monaco knows he wants to continue broadcasting meaningful games and telling stories to an audience. There are many people with this same desire, making sports media a particularly competitive and sometimes cutthroat industry in which to work wherefore establishing a work ethic is of the utmost importance. In addition, astutely watching other broadcasters and reaching out to get feedback demonstrates humility and a yearning to enhance one’s skills and adapt.

Quite simply, staying ahead of the curve is crucial in staying in the industry, and while there is a certain allure to tradition, the industry continues to look forward and find new ways to implement its talent and showcase the best the games have to offer.

“There’s no substitute for the hard work component,” Monaco said. “….Just bring a thirst and a great unparalleled work ethic to it.”

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Vic Lombardi Turns Nuggets Disrespect into Great Content

“I keep telling people they’re going to go where the money is. The money is the Lakers and the big city teams. The Nuggets don’t sell.” 

Tyler McComas



courtesy of Vic Lombardi

There was a feeling of Denver vs. Everyone during the 10 days that separated the end of the Western Conference Finals and Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The word “boring” was being used to describe what it was going to be like watching the Nuggets play for an NBA title. It didn’t sit well with Denver media and sports fans, as the unfair tag was being consistently referenced by certain members of the national sports media.

Vic Lombardi of Altitude Sports Radio in Denver, along with several of his co-workers, decided to fight against a narrative they found uneducated and unfair. In their eyes, all you had to do this season was to actually watch the Nuggets to find them interesting.  

“We assume everyone else knows what we know,” said Lombardi. “We assume that the rest of the country is watching. And all this has done, to be honest with you, has proven that a lot of national folks don’t watch as carefully as they say they do. Because if they watched they wouldn’t be as surprised as they are right now.”

There was even an on-air spat with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated on the Altitude Sports Radio airwaves. During an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, Mannix said there weren’t any compelling or interesting storylines surrounding the Nuggets first-ever NBA Finals appearance.

Lombardi, along with other hosts at Altitude Sports Radio took exception to the comment and fired back with their thoughts. A few days later, Mannix appeared on the station to defend his position and stick up for what he thought was accurate. Though the tensions were high during the back-and-forth it was incredible content for the station. 

But Lombardi says he doesn’t take the spats, whether they’re public or private, all that seriously when other fellow media members. 

“The arguments, if they’re anything, they’re all in fun,” said Lombardi. “I don’t take this stuff personally. We had a little back and forth with Chris Mannix. That was fun. I actually saw him in Denver when he came out for media. I respect anyone who’s willing to make their point on the air. It’s not the media’s job, it’s not your job as a host or a writer to tell me what I find compelling or interesting. We’re all from different parts with different needs and you can’t tell me what I desire. Let me pick that. Chase a story because the public may learn something. We’re curious by nature, that’s why we got into this business. All I ask is be more curious.”

The entire team at Altitude Sports Radio did an incredible job of sticking up for their own market and creating memorable content out of it. That should be celebrated inside the station’s walls. None of the outrage was forced; it was all genuine. But what’s the lesson to learn here from media folks, both local and national with this story? 

“I think the takeaway is number one, it’s a business,” said Lombardi. “I keep telling people they’re going to go where the money is. The money is the Lakers and the big city teams. The Nuggets don’t sell. 

“Well, you start selling when you start winning. They’ve got to sort of earn their way into that club. I think with what the Nuggets have done recently, and hopefully with what they’re about to do, they’re at the adult table. The media business is not unlike anything else. The biggest common denominator is what sells. I get that. I just don’t understand why a team like this, with the most unique player most people have ever seen, why wouldn’t that sell?”

Maybe it’s still not selling nationally, but locally in Denver, Nuggets talk is on fire. For years, the Denver market has been seen as one where the Broncos and NFL rule. The Nuggets have not been close to the top of Denver sports fans’ interests and have probably fallen routinely behind the Avalanche. 

But there’s been a real craving for Nuggets talk during this historic run. Granted, it didn’t just start two weeks ago, there’s been momentum building for the team ever since Nikola Jokic started asserting himself as one of the best players in the NBA. But there’s more than just an appetite for the Broncos in the city and the past few years have shown it. 

“I think it’s just proven to people in the city that the town is much different than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago,” said Lombardi. “The Broncos continue to rule this town and will do so because the NFL is the NFL. But I can tell you this. There are sports fans outside the NFL. I’m born and raised in Denver and I always believed, what’s so wrong about being an ardent fan of every sport? If you’re a fan, you’re a fan. There’s nothing I hate more than territorializing sports. Like, ‘oh I’m just a football fan’. Or, ‘oh I’m just a hockey fan’. Why? Sports crosses all borders and boundaries.”

Lombardi and Altitude Sports Radio have settled into local coverage of the NBA Finals, rather than fighting with a national narrative. The payoff for the entire ride has been very rewarding for the station. It included what Lombardi called the “highest of highs” when the Nuggets beat the Lakers on their own floor. It even included one of the biggest events the city has seen in the last five years, when the Nuggets hosted its first-ever NBA Finals game last week. 

The last few weeks could even be considered one of the most rewarding times in station history for Altitude Sports Radio. 

“Our ratings have never been higher,” said Lombardi. “It’s a great display of, sometimes in the media, we think we know what the listener wants. We think we do and we try to force feed them. I think the national folks do that, but so do the local folks. You think they know, but if you give them a nice diet, they’ll choose what they want. And that’s what we’ve done.”

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The Top 5 Bangs of Mike Breen’s Career

“Whether it comes in the playoffs or the regular season, it’s an unmistakable, yet simple way to convey the message that something extraordinary has just happened.”

Avatar photo



Courtesy: AP Photo

Even though he isn’t thrilled by the moniker, Mike Breen has become the voice of the NBA. The veteran play-by-play announcer is too modest to brag about the name. He’s very respectful of those that have come before him. Whether or not he likes the title, for a certain generation of NBA fans, he’s the only television voice they’ve known. 

Breen has occupied the big chair for ABC/ESPN since 2006 and is in the midst of calling his record 18th consecutive NBA Finals. Breen is professionalism personified, but the thing that separates him from most is his ability to infuse wit into his broadcasts. He’s not stuffy, and always seems to enjoy the moment. 

“Bang!” is the word Breen has used for pretty much his entire career. He started using it as a student at Fordham. When he wasn’t calling games there, he’d watch from the stands and yell “Bang!” every time a Fordham player hit a shot. Then he took it to air. It’s taken off from there. 

Breen’s “Bang!” is synonymous with a big moment. Whether it comes in the playoffs or the regular season, it’s an unmistakable, yet simple way to convey the message that something extraordinary has just happened. 

With that in mind, I have compiled a list of the five best “BANG!” calls including a couple of Honorable Mentions. There really were no criteria, so the call could have come in the playoffs, or in a few cases the regular season. 


The Bulls were playing in front of a packed house at the United Center. They were trying to ride native son Derrick Rose to a series win over the Cavaliers. Game 3 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinal v. Cleveland came down to the wire. 

“Dunleavy, looking, finds Rose, Rose trying to get open, fires away….BANG! It’s over! The Bulls win at the buzzer! It still is a Madhouse on Madison as Derrick Rose nails the three. And the Bulls take a 2-1 lead in this Eastern Conference semifinal.”


This was a pretty simple, yet very effective call. After a key turnover by Steve Nash, the resulting jump ball finally got into the hands of Bryant. 

“A one-point game…final seconds Bryant for the win….BANG!!” 

There was a lot of silence after the call and the pictures were allowed to tell the incredible story. 


During the height of “Linsanity” Jeremy Lin hit a game winning three pointer at the buzzer on February 14, 2012.  This was a regular season game in Toronto and the crowd was into it like it was game 7 of a playoff series. The call shows you that Breen succeeds when the game is intense and close late whether in the playoffs or a regular season game. 

“Mike D’Antoni won’t call timeout and let the Raptors set up their D. The crowd on its feet here at the Air Canada Centre. Lin puts it up. Bang! Jeremy Lin from downtown and the Knicks take the lead! Amazing here at the Air Canada Centre. Five tenths of a second remaining. Lin-sanity continues.” 


Eric Gordon hit a tough double-clutch three-pointer to send this regular season game in 2019 against the Lakers into overtime. This one led Breen to pull out the rare double bang!

“They find Gordon. Gordon puts up a three. Bang! Bang! He ties the game!”

It wasn’t a playoff game or even a very memorable game overall. Perhaps Breen got caught up in the moment? It happens. 


Dallas was already down 2 games to 1 in the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs in the Walt Disney World bubble. The Mavericks didn’t want their own bubble to burst, so they turned to Doncic. The Mavs were down 1 in OT with 3.7 seconds left to go. Luka Doncic took a dribble, created some space and let it fly. 

“Doncic pulls up, three-pointer, BANG, BANG! IT’S GOOD, DONCIC WINS THE GAME AT THE BUZZER!” After a little time and some replays, Breen astutely added, “We are witnessing the next great star in the NBA, in his first playoff series.”

The rare double bang rears its head again. Kudos to Breen for generating this much excitement without any fans in the building. It’s pretty impressive and hard to do, just shows that he can rise to the moment without any help from the vibes in a building during a game.


This shot was one of the biggest in the career of Ray Allen. Playing for the Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals, he hit a crucial shot to send Game 6 into overtime. Breen made the moment iconic.  “James catches, puts up a three, won’t go, rebound Bosh, back out to Allen, his three-pointer, BANG. TIE GAME WITH 5 SECONDS REMAINING!”

Breen’s voice captured the emotion of the moment, without being out of control. He recalled to the Athletic in 2020 what went into that call. 

“I remember looking over at the Spurs’ bench. They were, I don’t want to trash them and say they were celebrating, but they were ready to celebrate. It was that giddiness, the hopping up and down, we’re about to win a championship.” Breen said. “It seemed like it was a foregone conclusion. And then, the thing about it, there had to be about six or seven things to fall into place for that to happen, over the last 30 seconds and every single one of them fell into place.”


The original “double bang” game, came in 2016 as Steph Curry and the Warriors faced Oklahoma City in February. The Warriors entered 53-4 and Curry had already hit 11, 3-point field goals on the night. Who could blame Breen for getting caught up in this play? The game-winning and record-tying basket came from a spot on the floor that almost nobody hits from. 

“They do have a timeout. Decide not to use it. Curry, way downtown. Bang! Bang! Oh, what a shot from Curry! With six tenths of a second remaining! The brilliant shooting of Stephen Curry continues. he ties the NBA record with his 12th three-pointer of the game.”

“Don’t ask me why or how it came out,” Mike Breen was quoted of saying after the game. “It was like an out-of-body experience.” 

Breen’s effect on the players has been noted on a few occasions in recent months. 7 years after the call of Curry’s 40-footer, and the birth of the double-bang, Curry honored the call with a pair of his new shoes. They’re called the Curry 2 Bang Bang PE Retros. Curry delivered the shoes to Breen in person and included this video message: 

“I realize there’s no way we can drop these without the involvement of the man who gave these shoes a nickname seven years ago. You’re the first person to get these in hand. We got a double bang and call in 2016, before it’s all said and done, I think I need a triple bang call from Mr. Mike Breen himself.”

Breen saw the shoes, then embraced Curry. He also shared a message of gratitude, saying “It’s an honor calling his games. And to have him say I have a small part of it means more than he knows and more than you can imagine. Thank you.”

Other players seem to really enjoy being immortalized with a “Bang!” Just the other day, Jamal Murray hit a three-pointer for Denver. Breen called the play, “back to Murray, another three-pointer. It’s good! Jamal Murray red hot.” Mark Jackson jumped in after noticing something after the shot.  “Hey Mike, you didn’t see this, but Jamal Murray just looked over here and said BANG.” That’s pretty cool. 

Breen continues to shine on the biggest stage of basketball, surely he’s setting up for another terrific run in this year’s finals. 

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Meet the Market Managers: David Yadgaroff, Audacy Philadelphia

“It’s hard to replace somebody as iconic as Angelo, who really lived and breathed his role, setting the agenda for the Philadelphia sports fan.”

Demetri Ravanos




David Yadgaroff doesn’t talk just to hear himself speak. He gets to the point and he does it quickly, whether he is telling you what he is thinking or he is answering your questions. That fact is evidenced by the length of this week’s entry to the Meet the Market Managers series presented by Point-to-Point Marketing.

It has been a wild ride for WIP over the last 18 months. Yadgaroff had to find a new PD, figure out the best way to send off the station’s iconic morning host, and launch new shows in two different day parts. In the middle of it all were World Series and Super Bowl runs to deal with, too.

Yadgaroff discusses all of it. He also makes time to weigh in on how he addresses Audacy’s stock issues with his staff, the climate of political advertising, and the best practices he has found for making sure advertisers are making the most of digital products.

Demetri Ravanos: Tell me about life since Angelo Cataldi retired. What has changed in terms of the atmosphere in the building? 

David Yadgaroff: It’s a great question. It’s hard to replace somebody as iconic as Angelo, who really lived and breathed his role, setting the agenda for the Philadelphia sports fan. But we’re really proud of what Joe (DeCamara), Jon (Ritchie), James (Seltzer), and Rhea (Hughes) have done in the morning to deliver a show that’s fresh and new, but also lives up to the expectation that Angelo set.              

The addition of Hugh Douglas to midday with Joe Giglio has been very fun, too, because Hugh is a great character and teammate, and fun around the office, as well as very compelling and entertaining radio. 

DR: So I do want to circle back on Jon and Joe here in just a second, but I do wonder, because Angelo had sort of made some hints before he officially announced his retirement. At the time you were looking for a new program director, was his decision about when to call that a career something that ever came up as you were searching for Spike’s successor? Is it something candidates wanted to know about? 

DY: Yeah, absolutely. Angelo was a great partner and expressed his interest in retiring. At that time, Spike had got promoted to New York, so we discussed the radio station as a whole. Angelo, obviously his brand was so closely tied to ours and ours so closely tied to his, he said that he’d do whatever we needed at the radio station to make the transition smooth. That is how we ended up with that last year where Angelo took Wednesdays off to give him a little bit of rest and peace as he finished out his agreement. Then, obviously, he wanted to remain on until the Eagles’ season finally ended, so we had the gift of having Angelo with us until February. 

DR: Let’s circle back on Joe and Jon. They are obviously known commodities to WIP’s advertisers. The job of getting that particular population on board with those guys moving into mornings, it’s very different than getting listeners on board, right? So many of your advertisers are going to be on in multiple dayparts, whereas the listeners may only come in on their drive to work or on their drive home from work. I would imagine on the business side, this was a pretty smooth transition. 

DY: Very smooth. We retained the vast majority of the legacy morning show advertisers, as well as retaining the advertisers that came from middays to mornings. The fresh perspective and excitement about the radio station helped drive more sales as well.                   

You think about the last 12 months of the radio station, Angelo is talking about his farewell, we’re doing a lot of fun stunts about that time, the Phillies postseason, the Eagles postseason, the farewell event, and officially the beginning of a new show that already was a fan favorite. Really, we are very fortunate to have been at the forefront of the sports media narrative in Philadelphia for quite some time. 

DR: The elephant in the room when it comes to Audacy right now is what’s going on with the company’s stock price. I know you cannot give me specific answers, but I do wonder, as somebody that is charged with leading a cluster, you have so many people that you are responsible for. Do you find yourself having conversations where you’re talking to someone that assumes you have more answers than you actually do right now? 

DY: Let me give you the general vibe. We have a very robust business with six radio stations creating a lot of multi-platform content, selling a lot of advertising, and doing fun things. So for our staff on this side of the building, it’s business as usual. We’re having success in many metrics and marching right along. 

DR: The thing I wonder about that’s different for you than other Audacy stations is you literally share a space with Audacy Corporate.

DY: I run a culture of transparency and when things happen that are newsworthy, I make sure to address them. When things aren’t newsworthy, I try to reinforce our core business here, which is one that is very profitable and healthy. 

DR: So last year was extraordinary sports-wise in Philadelphia. Tell me a bit about the new opportunities that were created for WIP, whether we’re talking about interest from new potential clients or an influx of new listeners. 

DY: So WIP has the benefit of being the voice of the fan for decades. We talk a lot about the Eagles. Fans want to talk Eagles 52 weeks a year, and when the Eagles perform, there’s such enthusiasm and excitement. So, yes, I think we pick up new listeners and I know we pick up new advertisers to be part of that fun.               

The Phillies’ season sort of picked up suddenly at the end. It was a much more concentrated and exciting time that everybody just got into from an advertising standpoint, analyst standpoint, and fan standpoint. It was a lot of excitement in a very short period of time.

DR: Given how much Audacy has embraced digital products and where we are in terms of consumption these days, everybody is so used to on-demand content. Nobody works on a station or network’s timetable anymore. Have you found any advertisers that are more interested in the on-demand product than the traditional radio broadcast? 

DY: I don’t think there’s a general statement that describes everyone’s appetite. We focus our salespeople on trying to sell multi-platform campaigns through re-marketing. We find that the more things advertisers are invested in, the more connected they are with our business and the more success they have. All of our salespeople are cross-trained. Ultimately, we try to focus on what an advertiser needs and then make successful recommendations for them. There’s a lot of attention on WIP, so obviously they’re doing a nice job of that. 

DR: Let’s talk about that cross-training as it relates to the stations in the cluster. I recently read this piece that said we are already on pace to see political advertising for the 2024 election cycle surpass what we spent in 2020. Last year, you guys have these two contentious elections inside of Pennsylvania. When it comes to revenue generation, has the fracture between the two parties been relatively good for business in radio? I mean, do you find that people that candidates are advertising further and further out from election day now? 

DY: I think there’s two folds to that question. One is the TV advertising environment gets so toxic and nasty with political ads. It forces out transactional advertisers. That gives us the opportunity to put those advertisers on the radio. So that’s one part. The second part of it is, yes, candidates for PACs are spending more and they’re spending more frequently. 

DR: I would imagine that KYW and WPHT see most of those buys in your cluster, but what about WIP? How much are those PACs and candidates and those campaigns looking to a format to spread their message where maybe the listener is not engaged in the political conversation 24 hours a day? 

DY: I think the first thought is that stations like KYW and PHT do the best, but it really depends on the campaign and the issue and what their strategy is. I mean, there are some issues and campaigns that come down that they can only want to buy. WBEB And WOGL because they are looking for a suburban mom. So it really depends. I think political advertisers are a lot more strategic than they were years ago where they just bought news and news talk. 

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