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UPCOMING EVENTS

Who is Next if Charles Barkley Leaves NBA Television?

Say it ain’t so Charles! TNT’s shaky future with the NBA has pushed Charles Barkley to the brink of exiting television. Though it’s possible his remarks on Friday night were voiced to put pressure on the league to do business with TNT or to increase offers from other networks, if he is being truthful, next season will be the last hurrah for Sir Charles on Inside The NBA. With no Barkley on the show, it likely creates additional changes as well.

Should Barkley depart, many will be sad and disappointed. However, once time passes, the love and appreciation for what Inside The NBA delivered will be remembered forever. Simply put, it’s one of the best shows ever created on sports television.

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The NBA’s move away from TNT opens the door for NBC and Amazon to build their own NBA programs. ESPN meanwhile will likely fine tune their roster and approach to try and seize the opening created by TNT’s best show going away.

But subtraction doesn’t always lead to addition for networks. There still needs to be something special to entice viewers to watch. A perfect example is this year’s NBA crew on ESPN. Mike Breen is still exceptional but the chemistry with Doris Burke and JJ Redick isn’t close to what existed with Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. When people know each other, like each other, and understand what each brings to the table, chemistry is produced. That is the special ingredient that has made Inside The NBA a hit for decades.

Many entertaining and interesting analysts grace the television airwaves today, but none are Barkley. His exit would create a massive issue for the NBA as it would take away its top TV star, and the league’s best program outside of games. Increased rights fees can be celebrated all day long, but being talked about before and after the games is vital. That’s what Inside The NBA delivers unlike any other NBA program.

So that raises an important question, if Chuck leaves, who’s next?

Draymond Green is an obvious choice, and the odds on favorite. TNT has been including him on shows for a while now so he can blend in with Shaq, Kenny, and Ernie. He’s a champion, well spoken, unafraid to speak his mind, and is an accomplished host at The Volume. His familiarity with younger viewers is another advantage. The only issues, he’s not as funny as Barkley, and he may wish to continue playing. If he does, that creates a problem. Should he choose to retire after the 2024-2025 season, and if the Warriors part ways with Steve Kerr, could Green’s coach join him on set? Kerr did work for TNT before heading to Golden State.

LeBron James will likely be pursued too, likely even more than Green given his star power. But are networks going to want to pay the game’s most popular player Tom Brady money to work on a pre/post game show? Is that really what LeBron wants to do? If the cast involved LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh or a mixture of LeBron’s friends, maybe that gets his attention. But James can create his own content and make millions off of it. There’s also no guarantee he leaves after next year especially if his son doesn’t get drafted.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are two other talented stars with strong chemistry who could sit opposite Shaq and command the viewers attention. They’re not Barkley, but they’re stars with chemistry who alongside Shaq could speak the same language. Pierce especially has shown he’s unafraid to speak his mind. Plus networks do like personalities with ties to popular teams such as the Lakers and Celtics. I personally can’t see the network turning to Paul and Kevin to fill Barkley’s spot. If LeBron and Draymond are still playing though, and nobody can fill Chuck’s shoes, adding championship players with chemistry isn’t a bad Plan B.

Vince Carter, Jamaal Crawford and Steve Smith were mentioned by Barkley as guys he could potentially pass the baton to. I can’t see that happening. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Robin Lopez, Kevin Love, and Andre Iguodala may also be options if they desire to work in TV. Each offers insight, personality and an ability to speak and present themselves well on camera. Most are accomplished and familiar to NBA fans too. Steph Curry will also be courted by networks when he stops playing. I just can’t see him leaving in a year. He’s more reserved, though his dad has excelled as a television analyst in Charlotte.

Barring something out of the box being done such as a network luring Michael Jordan to television, Bill Simmons being hired or the next crew featuring coaches such as Kerr, Erik Spoelstra, and Doc Rivers or the Van Gundy Brothers and Mark Jackson, replacing Barkley is a tall order. His exit likely means Kenny and Ernie go too. Shaq is the one of the four who could transition to a new cast. He has more years ahead if he wishes to stay involved.

All good things do eventually come to an end but there’s plenty of gas left in the tank for Barkley and Inside The NBA. Holding on to the show for a few more years makes the most sense right now. The league is in even stronger financial shape following new rights deals with networks. As big as those wins are though, they’ll feel much less special if its flagship program and top television star are gone after next season.

Barrett Media Music Update:

Last week I revealed that Ron Harrell, Robby Bridges, and Kevin Robinson were joining our Music Radio writing team starting July 15th. Today, we have two more additions to announce. I’m thrilled to share that Bob Lawrence and Keith Berman will join Barrett Media as weekly columnists when we launch on July 15th.

Bob currently serves as Market Manager for Seven Mountains Media overseeing the company’s Parkersburg, WV/Marietta, OH markets. His radio resume includes previously serving as GM of the RAB’s National Radio Talent System, Corporate VP of Programming/Content at Saga Communications, CEO of Pinnacle Media Worldwide, and Market Manager for New South Radio in Jackson, MS. Adding Bob’s experience and perspective will help folks in management, programming, content, and sales.

Keith meanwhile has great history writing in this arena. He spent 7 years at Radio and Records working as a format editor, news reporter and features writer. After R&R shut down, he teamed with Kevin Carter to launch RAMP (Radio and Music Pros), spending 3 years co-writing daily issues until leaving the site in 2012. His passion, knowledge, and love for the industry remains high, and I’m excited to have him on board as we make our move into the music radio space.

In addition to adding Bob and Keith, I’ll have an announcement soon later this week regarding our editor. It’s been an extensive process, that’s involved a lot of phone conversations. I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone the past few weeks, but have made my decision. With the launch less than 30 days away, there’s plenty to do and the right leader is important.

Lastly, I’m hiring a few features reporters and have interviewed some excellent people. Our job post on the website and LinkedIn produced nearly 200 applications in one week. I’ve got a specific plan for how I want to lay this out, so I’m hoping to nail things down with interested writers this week, and have a final announcement next week. We’re almost there.

Thumbs Up:

Sports Radio 610: I loved the creativity from Sports Radio 610 in Houston last week. The station took June 10th and turned it into 610 Day. Shows welcomed back former hosts Nick Wright, Rich Lord, and Josh Innes for conversations, which included stories and behind the scenes details about specific issues. Innes in particular hadn’t been on the station in more than 10 years, so it was a very cool moment. The buzz even led to Houston’s Mayor John Whitmire declaring June 10th, Sports Radio 610 Day. Great work by Parker Hills and his team.

X: Social media platforms have their fair share of warts but X made an improvement this week. Elon Musk’s company made Likes private. After doing so, an increase of activity followed. I’ve never liked seeing high profile people torn to shreds based on what they clicked like on. Assumptions get made and they’re often overblown. Individuals deserve to use their accounts how they wish. The only ones hurt by this move are the media outlets looking to generate traffic over it. If you think losing an opportunity to play Peeping Tom on people’s activity is still an issue, remember, the thought still lives in their head, even if you saw it on X.

Steve Stone: Simplicity can make a big difference in branding when used right. This 30 second video promo from Steve Stone is a great example. I saw it on LinkedIn last week, and thought it was easy to follow, highlighted what’s provided, and the tag line at the end (More Than a Voice, An Advantage) was excellent. Steve’s attention to detail for marketing himself always stands out in a strong way. A great lesson for today and tomorrow’s leaders.

Pablo Torre’s ‘The Sporting Class’: The conversations between Pablo Torre, John Skipper and David Samson are always must-listen/watch if you enjoy sports media business content. The past week’s discussion on WNBA rights was smart, interesting, and the type of insight you look for if trying to learn and understand what’s going on in the industry. Just a fantastic show that should be on your radar each week if you work in the media business.

Thumbs Down:

Tim Cato: When coaches or athletes take the media to task, many like to rip them for it. But sometimes it’s justified. That was the case last week when Dallas Mavericks Head Coach Jason Kidd put The Athletic reporter under a heat lamp for a ‘long ass question’. Too often writers and hosts use questions to show how much they know or they’ll tiptoe around sensitive issues or combine 3-4 questions at once trying to get everything in. The problem with that, it rarely results in good answers. Less is always more. It may not feel as deep but better responses come from short questions built around Who, What, Where, Why, When and How.

KC Morning Sports Radio: Kansas City listeners have had the luxury of waking up, driving to work, knowing that Nate Bukaty would be alongside Steven St. John on WHB, and Josh Klingler would be mixing it up with Bob Fescoe in 610 Sports. Yet in the span of two weeks, Bukaty and Klinger each announced they’re stepping away from FT hosting. That leaves Fescoe and St. John either operating solo, utilizing contributors or working with new partners.

It’s strange to see both shows change at the same time. However, if there’s one advantage, it’s June, and football season is still nearly three months away. Hopefully each show gets stronger, but for today, KC radio listeners have lost something from the shows they’ve consistently depended on.

Jason Barrett
Jason Barretthttps://barrettmedia.com
Jason Barrett is the President and Founder of Barrett Media since the company was created in September 2015. Prior to its arrival, JB served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He also spent time programming SportsTalk 950 in Philadelphia, 590 The Fan KFNS in St. Louis, and ESPN 1340/1390 in Poughkeepsie, NY. Jason also worked on-air and behind the scenes in local radio at 101.5 WPDH, WTBQ 1110AM, and WPYX 106.5. He also spent two years on the national stage, producing radio shows for ESPN Radio in Bristol, CT. Among them included the Dan Patrick Show, and GameNight. You can find JB on Twitter @SportsRadioPD. He's also reachable by email at [email protected].

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