There are a lot of radio hosts that say they have great passion for sports and the broadcasting industry. There aren’t as many of those same hosts who actually show it. David Weiglein — better known as Carmichael Dave – isn’t one of these fake smooth talkers. The guy oozes passion for the Sacramento Kings and his sports radio gig. He doesn’t prove his enthusiasm solely through words. Carmichael Dave proves it through his many actions.
Carmichael is a suburb in Sacramento where Dave grew up. His stage name originates from the many times he called Sports 1140 KHTK as a kid. Dave was so fired up to participate as a teenager that he recorded his calls on a boombox. It was a drug to him. He now hosts a weekday show from 6-9am on the same station he grew up adoring — KHTK.
Dave details the highs and lows of getting fired and re-hired by his current employer. While out of work, he didn’t sit around twiddling his thumbs feeling sorry for himself. Not only did he start a podcast back then, Carmichael Dave raised money and commandeered a 27-foot RV. This dude ended up in New York City during a Board of Governors meeting as he fought for the Kings to remain in Sacramento. If that isn’t real, authentic, genuine passion, I don’t know what is. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: With you being a former caller, does that impact the way you engage with callers now because you understand what it’s like to be on the other end?
Carmichael Dave: One trillion percent. But radio is going away from calls in a lot of ways because of texting and emails. I think the lifeblood of sports radio is trying to create passion. You throw out as a host that bait and you’re trying to hook passion. Every single blinking hold light to me was like a biting fish. As somebody who had gone through it as a kid and as a young adult, I’m taking it very seriously. The radio is off, nobody can talk to me, and I’m shut in a room somewhere because I’m afraid the host is going to come to me at any point. I have taken the time to completely shut my life down so that I can call in unpaid on a radio show and contribute free content.
Sometimes that content sucks, we all know there are crappy callers, but it doesn’t matter. These people are taking time to contribute to your show. You better respect what they’re doing. When they get on the air, we may yell, we may scream, I may think the person’s a moron, but you’re damn straight I’m going to respect their time. You’re taking the time out of your life to participate in my show, I’m going to respect that and I’m going to talk to you.
BN: What helps you connect with your audience the most?
CD: My brand is like an anti-brand. I’m a kid from Carmichael that lucked his way into being able to work at the station he grew up listening to and covering the team that he adores more than anything, the Sacramento Kings. My name is local. Carmichael Dave doesn’t work in Houston. It doesn’t work in New York or L.A. It works in Sacramento and that’s it. I am bonded to this city.
Sacramento is not the first prize in the Price Is Right Showcase Showdown for the vacation. That’s not what we’re known for. It’s a stepping stone.
Think about some of the shittiest cities in the country like Detroit. Everybody thinks Detroit is shitty, right? Like you do not want to go to Detroit. That is a terrible city. But talk to people from Detroit. They’re like yeah D-Town what’s up? They are the most loyal people in the world. Same thing with Stockton here, which is like the Detroit of California. That’s their reputation. But they’re so loyal to where they’re from. That’s my brand.
This isn’t a cultivated character. I’m going to go at it with you. I’m very active on Twitter. I won’t say your mother’s a whore or anything, but in the end I’m a native Sacramentan. I’m born here, raised here, going to die here. We’re all kind of an extended dysfunctional family. If you want to say a brand, that’s my brand. It’s local.
BN: How did things unfold for you going from a caller to being on the air?
CD: The program director at the time was a guy named Mike Remy. He’s one of my big-time mentors. I had an internship when I was 17. The guy who was running the board, who was kind of in charge of everything, he opens the door and he goes “Alright, step into my office. I’ll give you the rundown.” His name was Steve Goss. He’s still there today. He’s our traffic director.
Well, his office was the bathroom. He just starts taking a leak while I’m sitting there at the sink. He says all right here’s what you do, here’s what you don’t do. He’s like turning around from the urinal talking to me. That was my first indoctrination into the inside of a radio building.
From there I did everything I could working for free. Mike Remy said hey dude check it out, you got to learn how to be on the air and you’re not going to get the time you need here right now. There’s a bunch of music stations in town. Go work at a music station, come back to me in a few months and we’ll see what we can do. So I went to this alternative rock station in town. I worked there about a year.
Then eventually I went back to KHTK in ‘01. I got my first break doing backup sports updates for Jason Ross. Jason was doing updates for our afternoon drive host Grant Napear who is also the play-by-play TV voice for the Kings. I grew up absolutely idolizing this dude. He was the alpha and the omega to me. I’m 23 or 24. I called him Mr. Napear. I don’t know what that first update sounded like, but I know Grant will often say that I was like this scared little bunny. He actually told me at one point hey speak up. I did backup updates for four years.
Then one day Mike Remy hired somebody else to do a show from 9 to midnight. That dude lasted a year. His name was Tim Montemayor. He got a job at KMOX in St. Louis and quit that day. I get a call at 4pm. I had a 104-degree temperature. I had strep throat. I was lying in bed but I recognized Mike Remy’s phone number. He said hey I need you to fill in for Tim. He’s no longer with us. The show starts in five hours. It’s at a Hooters for a live remote. So with strep throat and a 104-degree fever and Hooters girls being shoveled in and out of my broadcast, that was the first time I ever hosted a show. Two weeks later they let me keep the spot. I did 9 to midnight for the next six years.
BN: Man, only a few hours to prepare — you’re on location so that’s a whole different animal — what do you remember most about that first show?
CD: I just shit my pants in front of Hooters girls because I was scared to death. I was on right after a Kings-Timberwolves game and thank God it was a win. But I didn’t know enough to know anything. I had never hosted a show. I had never, ever done anything but a sports update on the station and here I am soloing for three hours.
During that broadcast, after I got through all the schematics and phone numbers and stuff, all of a sudden I heard that telltale white noise in my ear again and I was a caller. I was on the air and it was time to dance. All the times that I had spent calling in on Grant Napear’s show or Scott Ferrall’s show or any of these radio shows I called as a kid, instead of having a five-minute phone call it was now a three-hour phone call with commercial breaks. It just kicks in. You’re either able to do it or you’re not. I certainly wasn’t great. I was far from perfect, but I did it well enough to get called back the next day.
It’s always been like that. I’ve always had that attitude that I’m really on a day-to-day contract. What I did today doesn’t matter now. It’s what I do tomorrow that matters. I don’t think I’m ever going to get rid of that attitude. That’s the attitude I had from the very first day I did a show.
BN: What led to you being fired and how tough of a situation was that for you?
CD: The Sacramento Kings had announced that the ownership had come to a deal and they were going to sell the team and move to Seattle. You’ve got to understand again I’m a native Sacramentan. There’s nothing else here, at least at the time. It was the only professional team. I became very vocal as a fan and used my platform as much as I could to speak out against ownership and against the move.
I’ll never forget it; it was a meeting with the bosses in our corporate office. I remember the market manager at the time saying we no longer need you and thank you for your service basically. I was just unbelievably crushed. I just got fired. I didn’t do anything wrong, but ultimately what I did is the powers that be within and outside of the station thought I was being a little bit too noisy and a little bit too much of a nuisance.
At the time I had my brand new wife and I had a two- and a one-year-old child. My wife had not yet gone back to work. I was the sole breadwinner and I got fired in part for speaking out about the Kings.
I started a podcast in my garage. The local magazine here did a cool little front-page cover photo with me in a Kings jersey, wearing handcuffs that were broken to symbolize being free to speak freely. I did a podcast in my garage for a few months where I was basically bringing in a thousand bucks a month in sponsorships, which just barely kept the roof over our head while I was getting unemployment.
In a sense me getting fired from KHTK took me from the idea I always had that I was a caller who was lucky to be there who had a seat at the kids’ table at Thanksgiving and not the adults’ table. When I came back I had kind of proven to myself that even without this station I was able to make some waves and had a voice. The people in Sacramento had my back. They saved my life. They saved my job. When I came back it was like I grew up. I was an adult now. I knew I belonged here and I’ve never looked back. That was almost eight years ago.
BN: The day you got fired compared to the day you returned — how did those completely different experiences impact the way you look at the business?
CD: When I left I thought I’d never work in radio again. I thought that was over. I was going to have to go wear a suit and tie. What happened was…necessity is the mother of invention. It allowed me to spend time on the Kings saga that I couldn’t have before. It allowed me to free myself from the politics that were attached to me — because the Kings and KHTK were partners — and really be an independent voice. It allowed me to rally with the city itself.
What leaving also showed me again, when I returned it was because the people here supported what I did. They supported me and they let their voices be heard. We banded together and it created this bond between myself and this base of listeners and fans where I’m forever indebted to them. I am merely one of them who happens to have a platform and a microphone. When I go to ball games I don’t dress in a suit and tie, dude. I wear a Kings jersey. I’m not a journalist. I’m a fan with a microphone. I’m here to represent the fans. I’m not here for any political bullshit. It’s always, always, always listeners first, Kings fans first.
When I came back it gave me humility. It gave me, not paranoia, but it gave me an understanding that this is a fleeting business. The moment that you sell out, the moment that you stop respecting the people that listen to your station, the moment that you take for granted the fact that you have an audience — with Spotify and Apple Music and streaming services and everything else — for someone to tune in to terrestrial radio and listen to you whether live or on-demand, that is such an insane compliment and an amazing responsibility.
BN: However many more years you have left in radio, what do you want it to look like?
CD: I think the first thing I’d say is that I don’t think I’m much longer for this business. I’ve done what I want to do. Radio is changing. I don’t want this to sound like an old guy fighting the new wave, but what works now are quick-hitter, minute-half sound bits and little video bits. What works now is having two guys at a microphone screaming at each other and throwing out these outlandish takes that they don’t believe. Then you put the video clip of them on Twitter yelling at each other. Then everybody on Twitter yells at each other. Meanwhile you throw in a 30-second commercial for Purina dog food and that’s how you make your money. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be a part of argue radio.
I expect I’ll have another two, three, four years in the business at most doing what I do. I’d like to be able to broadcast on my last day. I don’t want to do one of those things where I was fired on a Thursday, there was no show on Friday, and then my replacement is there on a Monday. I’d actually like to go on the air and be trusted enough by my radio station to thank the station and thank the listeners and actually say goodbye. Then I want to go do some real stuff.
BN: Do you have something specific in mind that you want to do whenever you hang up your headphones?
CD: Yeah, I’m going to be the mayor of Sacramento when I get out. I’ve spent years watching and studying people on all levels. When the whole fight for the Kings thing happened I got to know a lot of people here locally, politically. Whether it’s our current mayor Darrell Steinberg, I was very close to Kevin Johnson before him, a lot of our city council members — I see what they do.
What I want to do is take the love and energy I have for Sacramento and the insane growth pattern it has shown since that turning point in 2013 where we have a new arena, Major League Soccer, businesses are coming out here, the Bay Area silicon sector is beginning to expand out here, things are happening in my city that we couldn’t have even dreamt about 20 years ago.
I want to be a part of taking that into the next generation. To spend my life selling the city, getting new business to come here, making it affordable for our current residents, and being able to literally go out there and speak to people each and every day that have problems in this city. Instead of it being a problem with our starting lineup, it’s a problem with the bus system or a library or their school — and really be able to make a solid impact.
I know it sounds silly, but someone’s going to pull this article in some weird Google search in 10 years and you’re going to see me saying I’ll be the mayor of Sacramento at some point in my life. Not out of a sense of ego, but simply out of a sense of duty and out of a sense of wanting to give every part of my being back to the city that gave me so much.
5 Sports TV Minds Explain Why We Love The Manningcast
“Yes, it’s an in-motion experiment but it’s working because the production team at ESPN is being allowed to create a live studio show, something ESPN does very very well.”
Here at Barrett Sports Media, we clearly have Manningcast fever. And look, we aren’t the only news outlet covering the media industry that has mined Peyton and Eli Manning for all the content we can. We have looked at the show from a broadcaster’s perspective. We have looked at it from a fan’s perspective. We have gawked at the ratings growth. We have asked how fair this whole endeavor is to Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick.
One thing we have not done yet is ask accomplished television professionals for their thoughts. Why has this broadcast, which can be hard to follow at times, captured the imagination of football fans? How has it gone from something we were unsure about to truly must-see TV for the sports audience?
I asked five TV pro’s what it is that they see when they watch Peyton, Eli and their cavalcade of guests. Is the Manningcast connecting with hardcore football fans that crave the Xs and Os or is it connecting with more casual fans that enjoy the comedy of Peyton wearing a helmet three sizes too small and Eli shooting the camera the double bird? This is wildly different from a traditional TV booth.
Allan Flowers is a coordinating producer for NFL Network. He’s spent three decades in the industry, and works for a network that lives and breathes football 24/7. Perhaps even more importantly, Allan has the benefit of working on one of the most well received shows in recent memory, one that football fans can’t get enough of, NFL Redzone.
I wanted to pick his brain on traditional TV booths. When the Manningcast first premiered, so many people wanted to tie it to a traditional broadcast and figure out what it means for the future. It raised questions about ESPN’s longterm plans for Peyton Manning, Monday Night Football, and the pros and cons connected to offering two versions of the same game on different channels.
“I can definitely see Peyton in a traditional booth. He is the one constantly talking football on the ‘Manningcast’. Eli mixes football with jabs at his older brother,” Flowers told me when I asked if what he has seen through the first three weeks makes him think that the brothers could be a future fit in a more traditional broadcast booth. “I think the traditional broadcast needs to change anyway. It’s the same formulaic booth that we have seen for decades. That’s why there is an appetite for something like this. As opportunities continue to open for more diverse people (e.g. younger analysts, female analysts, female and black play by play announcers), I think you will see tone of the traditional broadcast booth change regardless. ABC tried comedian Dennis Miller in the booth decades ago. I would not be surprised to see something like that happen again in the future, only if that person is relatable and appears to know football. As for what Eli & Peyton are doing, I think it’s great. They have a connection which is paramount to a great booth. There is a rawness to it that appears fresh (for now). I think their broadcast is still evolving. I’ve noticed some small changes each week. The guests have been great. Nothing but A list people. Why they are taking a break until Week 7 seems odd, but it’s an interesting watch.”
I spoke with a TV executive with experience at multiple networks that wished to remain anonymous. He told me that the Manningcast is the “perfect combination of personality and authority.”
He also said that there is no sense in thinking about Peyton and Eli’s futures as broadcasters. The deal between ESPN and Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, which produces the broadcast, isn’t about securing Peyton Manning to be the future analyst on the traditional Monday Night Football broadcast.
Disney isn’t looking at Peyton Manning as part of ESPN. They are looking at him as Mickey Mouse or Iron Man or Baby Yoda. He is another of Disney’s mega-brands that is talked about on investor calls and upfront presentations. To that end, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro is smart enough to stay out of the way. He invested in Omaha Productions and is going to let the content it provides grow the way Peyton Manning wants it to.
Patrick Crakes is a former Vice President at FOX Sports and InVivo Media Group. He now runs Crakes Media Consulting. He isn’t sure that ESPN is entirely hands off. Peyton and Eli Manning are important enough that the network wants to keep them happy, but they are also smart enough to know the goal is to put on the best show possible.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that both Peyton and Eli are allowing ESPN to produce them at a very high level. This show clearly has a run-down, producers and directors are speaking live to both of them and the show evolves on-air every week in real time. Yes, it’s an in-motion experiment but it’s working because the production team at ESPN is being allowed to create a live studio show, something ESPN does very very well.”
Flowers agrees. He can’t see ESPN letting the Mannings fly blind. In fact, he had some thoughts on what kind of coaching he would give the brothers to improve on what we have already seen.
“Neither of them know when a commercial timeout is coming, which seems odd since they played the game for so long. It’s very awkward when they have a guest and they ask them to tell a story right before a punt. Then they have to cut the guest off and get to the break. I would also engage the guests in more of their football talk. If it’s a player, see if they all see the same thing. What defense would you call here. If it’s not a player, teach the guest what Peyton/Eli is seeing. There are times when the guest doesn’t know what to do, which seems uncomfortable. It was great when they had LeBron James guess the next play and he was right. More of that will make the booth connectivity better. I think they have the ability to telestrate their own plays. If not, they should. I’m also curious if the button-down collared shirt are the only shirts they own.”
Logan Swaim is the Head of Content for Colin Cowherd’s The Volume podcast network. Prior to diving into the world of audio and social video, Swaim spent decades in TV including serving as an Executive Producer for Good Morning Football on the NFL Network, and also with DAZN, and NBC Sports. Swaim told me that at it’s core, the Manningcast isn’t an original idea. It’s the next evolution in megacasts and second screens. It just happens to be considerably better than anything that has come before it in that realm.
“They have the cheat code with Peyton and Eli – two likable, entertaining, and authentic personalities. But they’ve smartly created a show where all the bells and whistles are made only to accentuate what makes the talent interesting. The pre-planned segments are all intended to make fun of the hosts, like Peyton reading a list of all the stuff they messed up last week. It feels partly like watching a game at a bar and partly like Inside the NBA.”
Eric Weinberger is a former sports media executive and executive producer at the NFL Network now running his own company. He described the Manningcast to me as “part Ted Lasso, part Beavis & Butthead“. I love a good Beavis and Butthead reference, so I asked him to explain a little more. He said “the broadcast comes with some rough edges that make it more charming,” although he did have additional suggestions of what he might add.
“You want it to feel ‘clunky,’ seem less polished. That is what is appealing about this production.” Weinberger told me. “Maybe I would try a little local radio game play-by-play every once in a while to break up the Mannings ever present voices and give them a breather.”
We have to wait three weeks for another Manningcast. The brothers will not return until Week 7, when the Saints play in Seattle. That has to be a bummer for ESPN executives, who have watched the audience for Peyton and Eli grow each of the three weeks it has been on air, even when games seem irrelevant. I asked that TV executive that didn’t want to be identified what he would do to keep the momentum going both on TV and on social media.
He said nothing was off the table. You have Peyton and Eli film vignettes that can be used to lead into the traditional ESPN broadcast, you have them breakdown a series or play for SportsCenter, and anything else you can think of. Right now, you put as much of the Mannings as you can on TV.
“Pay them more money and have them do more games,” he said was the lesson for the next contract.
Any good idea will have its imitators. Like every major pro sport, television is a copycat league. Allan Flowers had a series of suggestions for what he could see this spawning in terms of alternate broadcasts. He suggested tight end Zach Ertz and his wife Julie, a member of the US Women’s National Soccer Team, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, even Charles Barkley and Phil Mickelson.
Weinberger also expects to see copycats. He just doesn’t expect them to be as good as the Manningcast.
“Secondary screen viewing can work for all sports. Football really lends itself to multiple opportunities, as there are so many complexities with specialty positions and moving parts. The dynamic the two brothers have though is unique and special, always has been.”
Swaim says at the end of the day, what makes the Manningcast special is the broad appeal. There is no right answer to “who is the target audience?” and that means everyone can find something to like about it.
“It seems like it’s found a way to appeal to two different audiences – hardcore football fans and the social media audience. There is plenty of ‘ball’ talk where they nerd out and talk about Football Film Room terms. And then there are hilarious conversations where Gronk is talking about his dog and McAfee is telling amazing stories about roulette. They have pulled off the delicate balance of serving two distinct audiences.”
Remember the 2000 Presidential Election? There were polls leading up to November that asked people that planned to vote for George W. Bush how they arrived at their decision. A significant number of those that responded said that Al Gore seemed more qualified to be President of the United States, but Bush was more relatable – the kind of guy you want to have a beer with.
Crakes says the same logic can be used to explain the mass appeal of the Manningcast. Sure Peyton and Eli are smart, but it is their appeal as people, as characters, that draw audiences looking for different things out of an NFL broadcast.
“They don’t take themselves seriously and their genuine competitive love for the sport of football comes through via the dynamic of two brothers who respect and like each other. It’s for pretty much the entire audience. Everyone would like to have a beer and watch the game with them. That’s the key ingredinent.”
Chris Carlin Doesn’t Want Any Caller To Be That Guy
” There are some calls that you get that don’t enrich the show and sometimes, it’s more fun to kind of make fun of it a little bit and try to entertain that way. It’s not a knock on the people personally.”
We all know those sports radio callers – someone with a hot take that makes you want to flip the dial even for a split second. However, they do have the tendency to make us laugh every once-in-a-while. In his new series on Tik Tok called Sports Radio Callers: Don’t Be That Guy, ESPN Radio New York host and Rutgers football play-by-play broadcaster, Chris Carlin, tends to make light of some of the calls he receives on a daily basis.
He wants you to know that he isn’t making fun of anyone in particular. He has been in the business long enough to have plenty of inspiration to draw from.
It is very clear that Carlin values his listeners and while he may have a little fun with some calls, he is never afraid to make fun of himself and that is what makes any show he does an entertaining listen. Of course, we could also all probably relate to maybe being one of those callers when we started out calling into shows too, which he wasn’t shy about reliving when we spoke last week.
Ricky Keeler: Where did you come up with the idea to do these Tik Tok videos? Was there a particular call on your show that led to this?
Chris Carlin: I wouldn’t say there was a particular call. There have been plenty over the years. There is a genre of calls. It’s not just about the host, but it’s about the listener as well. There are some calls that you get that don’t enrich the show and sometimes, it’s more fun to kind of make fun of it a little bit and try to entertain that way. It’s not a knock on the people personally.
The way I look at it is nobody makes more fun of themselves than me. It’s just some types of calls are ones that I just think are entertaining in a not so informative way.
I got the idea from watching a guy on Tik Tok named Scott Seiss, who is a stand-up comedian. He apparently used to work at IKEA and he talked about all the complaints of people at IKEA in that same way. He’d say what the complaint of the person is and then say his response in a very straightforward funny way and using that same kind of music. It just kind of struck me when I heard that, yeah, I can do that for sports radio callers, there’s no doubt.
RK: Is there a particular call or caller that the minute you hear them, you just know that’s a perfect Tik Tok video?
CC: I wouldn’t say that. For instance, I did one where the caller is going to call up and say, it’s the same old Jets. You know, it’s lazy and it’s kind of like really? Where it came to I get it, you’ve been through all the pain in the world. We all understand. But, it is silly to come out and say something like that, but you know it’s going to come.
I started jotting down ideas a few weeks ago, putting them on Tik Tok about a month ago. I just completely made up names, so there’s not a direct one. So, it’d be like “Is it the same old Jets or is it the same old Tony from Freehold? It feels like you called and said the same thing before because you did last week. Here’s an idea for your next phone call. Have a point.”
Callers know, listeners know when they hear a call or make a point like that, we’re all rolling our eyes and it’s okay, listen, it’s part of the gig. It’s what you sign up for when you dial the phone that if you don’t bring a good, informed take or you don’t want to go after something I said, you could be fodder for the show. This was just something that I did separately to have some fun.
I actually had a caller bring it up to me like should you really be doing that? It is not a knock on our listeners at all. What it is is just kind of a parody and at the same time, nobody makes more fun of themselves than me.
RK: How would you describe to someone not from New York, what New York sports radio callers are like?
CC: I think New York sports radio callers are very similar to callers all over the country. In every town, sports radio callers kind of have a knock against them and I think it’s unfair. As much as we are seen, not just callers, but hosts, like you just take the laziest take and you just do all that stuff. I think the majority of callers and the majority of hosts that are really bringing up good points and trying to illuminate in addition to bringing some heat to it. I think every market has their funny callers, their guys that you know what you’re going to get when they call.
RK: What has the reaction to this series been like from other people in the business? Are people able to enjoy it or do you hear feedback that you’re being too mean?
CC: It’s been pretty positive because everybody knows who I am. People kind of know my personality and my personality is yeah, I’m going to deliver you some good takes and stuff like that, but I’m also not going to act like we’re splitting the atom here. It’s not a personal attack in any way. It’s just kind of a generic piece of advice. That’s why I titled it Don’t Be That Guy.
There are better ways to spend your time waiting on hold. When I would produce for Mike [Francesa] and Chris [“Mad Dog” Russo], I’d get callers who would call up and say “I want to talk about the Mets.” Okay, what do you want to say? “I think they’re pretty good.” Yeah, let me get you right on. It’s that kind of thing. The reaction I’ve gotten, it hasn’t been executives or anything, it’s mostly been colleagues and it’s all very much, they’re entertained by it. Some sports radio hosts are like thank god, somebody’s doing this, but more than anything, it’s just a tongue in cheek thing.
RK: The Yankees, Mets, Giants, and Jets are all struggling. In these situations, are the more ridiculous calls likely to happen or do these people always exist?
CC: They always exist. There are some weeks like this week if you’re calling up and saying Zach Wilson is not the answer, I’m going to hang up on you pretty quickly. That’s what this week has got the potential for. I’m pretty open-minded to a lot of takes, but it’s the takes that callers call up with that are not well-reasoned. Just too much of an emotional reaction right out of the gate that has actually nothing behind it.
RK: Do you prefer to do these types of shows when all the teams are winning or does it give you more content when all the teams are not playing well?
CC: It’s always better for business in general when teams are good. As far as this kind of content, I could do this year round. I just frankly haven’t had enough time. I’ve been working a lot of late hours recently and I just haven’t had enough time to do more of them. I’m going to try, but I also am very cognizant of I don’t want callers to think that I’m not evaluating their inputs to the show because there couldn’t be anything further from the truth. It’s just more of let’s not take ourselves too seriously here.
RK: If you could go back to a younger version of yourself, were you one of those callers?
CC: I’ve been one of those callers. When I was in college, I called Steve Somers once. I was so nervous and I called up and said Hi, Chris, this is Steve and I made some inane points shortly thereafter. Steve had fun with me and I completely understood it because I was the guy that was on the other end of this. Frankly, if Steve was doing Tik Tok videos in the 90’s, I would have fully expected to make an appearance on one.
RK: Would you rather be a Tik Tok video or a drop on a radio show?
CC: I think I’d rather be a Tik Tok video because there’s more opportunity for viral spreading now. I know I’m doing a lot of New York guys, but it’s callers in total. As I do more national stuff as I have been for the last couple of years really, I’ll start to expand it a little bit. I don’t see this going on and on because you don’t want to beat a bit to death. It’s just been something that has been fun to do and something that’s different and something that’s made me think differently. Everybody’s trying to make their own impressions in every kind of space and I am just trying to do my own version of that, but also not beat a joke to death, so to speak.
RK: We’ve seen Twitter and Instagram used to help people in this industry. How do you feel Tik Tok can be a tool that hosts can use to work out content that maybe wouldn’t make the best sense for live radio?
CC: I think it’s interesting. I think things that you don’t get to, you certainly could. We all want to think that we’re funny. I want to think that I’m funny. I don’t believe I am all that funny. I think it is an area where you can expand a little bit more into. Admittedly, I am not a guy who sits here and studies it and understands exactly what all the machinations of it are that different people are doing. This was just something that I was taking a whack at. Absolutely, it’s a genre or an app that people should be more involved in if they’re not. I think every bit now helps.
RK: For someone who is reading this piece and worrying about being one of those callers and they are a first-time caller, what advice would you give them?
CC: I would think out your point in advance. If you’re nervous, I would even jot a couple of things down. Not read it, but I’d jot a couple of things down. If you’re going to try to tell me that the Jets should give up on Zach Wilson already, you better come with plenty of facts to back it up. That’s probably the quickest way to become one right now.
I would say just make sure that what you want to say is adding to the show. For you, that’s giving me your well-thought out take. I don’t think it’s anything too crazy. Chances are I’m not going to call you out personally because this is never going to be a personal thing or anything that’s mean in any way. At least, I hope it doesn’t come across that way. I don’t think it does.”
The Craig Carton/FanDuel Deal Is Undeniably A Good Thing
“Since returning to WFAN, Carton has been very upfront about who he is, what he has done and how he is trying to do better.”
Craig Carton is destined to forever be a polarizing figure in the world of sports media. Long before he was arrested, he had plenty of detractors that considered him less of a talk show host and more of a shock jock. Add to it a conviction for his role in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors in order to pay back gambling debts, and it is clear that the guy’s approval rating will never hit 100.
There are understandable reasons not to like a guy and then there are grudges. Grudges don’t have to be personal. They don’t have to spring from some sort of affront. They can easily be born out of feeling like someone has figured out a way to live a life above the rules and free of consequence for their awful actions.
Grudges can (and often do) blind us to reality. I think that is a big part of what is happening when people point to Craig Carton’s new deal with FanDuel and say that there is something wrong with it.
If you missed the announcement last week, Carton is joining FanDuel as the company’s first “responsible gaming ambassador.” He will create content about gambling responsibly and also work with FanDuel engineers to create AI to spot problem gambling patterns. The deal gives Craig Carton a seat at the table with one of the biggest mobile sportsbooks in shaping their responsible gaming policy. Isn’t that a good thing?
I probably cannot convince you to view the guy in any particular light. When it comes to former inmates being rehabilitated and getting a second chance, we tend to be very dug in with our opinions, whatever may influence them.
Undeniably, Carton did a bad thing. Swindling people out of huge chunks of money is always bad. In America, it somehow seems worse. As costs of living increase and wages remain flat, every dollar is accounted for and allotted to something for most of us. The guy should be ashamed of himself. And here’s the thing: he clearly is.
Since returning to WFAN, Carton has been very upfront about who he is, what he has done and how he is trying to do better. Hell, what other station in America dedicates any time at all, even just a half hour on the weekend, to issues of addiction and recognizing problem habits? This deal with FanDuel seems perfectly in line with his previous attempts to atone.
You don’t have to like Craig Carton, but you do need to acknowledge that everything he has done in terms of highlighting his problem with gambling and offering help to those that he sees a little bit of his own struggles in has been sincere. There is no reason to believe it isn’t.
Under the terms of the deal, not only will Carton advise and create content for FanDuel, but the company will also make sure Hello, My Name is Craig finds a bigger platform. You can be cynical and say that this is just part of a bigger deal between FanDuel and WFAN parent company Audacy, but FanDuel’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mike Raffensperger explained that it is good for the gaming industry to promote betting responsibly.
“I think what we recognize we needed is to add some humanity as to how we get this message across,” he said when explaining why Carton was the perfect face for this campaign.
We see it every time we post a story about sports betting. Someone will comment that it is an evil practice and that the advertising has made sports radio disgusting. The reality is that it is no different from alcohol. For most people, it is harmless. Plenty though, cannot handle it. Still, you tell me the first time you hear an ad break on sports radio or see a commercial break during a game without a beer commercial.
If you really believe sports gambling is evil and want people to stay away from mobile or physical sportsbooks, who do you think the ideal person to be delivering that message is?
You can go with the puritan approach of tisk-tisking strangers and telling them they are flawed people that are going to Hell or you can have a guy that has literally lost it all because of his addiction out front telling you “I know I cannot place a bet and here is why. If that sounds familiar, maybe it is time for you to seek help.” It seems pretty obvious to me that the latter approach is exactly what Raffensperger is talking about – using humanity to reach the people they need to.
Craig Carton committed a crime. A court of law said he had to pay for that both with restitution to his victims and with jail time. He served his time. Deals like this one with FanDuel make it possible for him to stay on schedule with the restitution payments. Even if you think he is unforgivable, that should make you happy, right?
It is admittedly strange to see a mobile sportsbook hire a “responsible gaming ambassador.” I would argue though that it is only strange because it isn’t something we have seen before. Be skeptical if you are the “I’ll believe it when I see it” type, but I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to congratulate and celebrate both Craig Carton and FanDuel.
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