What Kevin Harlan Has Reminded Us About Radio


By Adam R Jacobson
Editor-In-Chief, RBR + TVBR

Vox Media’s SBNation calls it “a brilliant masterpiece.”

“Pure gold,” says Bristol, Conn.-based “sports guy” and author Jason Romano.

Pittsburgh Steelers star running back DeAngelo Williams said, “It is without a doubt one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard …”

Dieter Kurtenbach, Senior Writer at Fox Sports, tweets that a “national treasure” is responsible for this.

Can the NAB just give an honorary Marconi Radio Award to this guy for reminding the world that, no matter how viral or buzzworthy social media can be, it’s Radio that is the Penicillin and stinging force that delivers relevant, topical content to consumers day-in and day-out.

The man we are talking about is Kevin Harlan.

By 7am Pacific on Sept. 13, 2016, Harlan was The Talk of Twitter. Facebook, sports geek message boards and blogs and just about every legitimate sports news organization with a social media platform lit up with discussion about what Harlan did the night before, during one of the dullest, most lackluster Monday Night Football games in recent memory.

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With less than 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the lead anchor for Westwood One‘s Monday Night Football coverage syndicated to roughly 500 affiliates across the U.S. suddenly became far more entertaining, and honest, than ESPN’s televised coverage of the event.

On a third-and four call with the Rams seeking a first down, the crowd suddenly cheers, and Harlan reacts by announcing the following:

“Hey somebody has run out on the field. Some goofball in a hat and a red shirt. Now he takes off the shirt! He’s running down the middle by the 50, he’s at the 30! He’s bare-chested and banging his chest. Now, he runs the opposite way. He runs to the 50! He runs to the 40! The guy is drunk, but there he goes! The 20 — they’re chasing him, but they’re not going to get him. Waving his arms, bare-chested; somebody stop that man! Oh they got him, they’re coming from the left — oh and they tackle him at the 40-yard line! …. Ugh … That was the most exciting thing to happen tonight!”

It was a hilarious moment.

It painted a picture, with vivid description and keen analysis of what was going on.

Too bad ESPN couldn’t do that.

With cameras fixated on the coaches and the players, ESPN ignored the drunk fan’s antics.

Was this to protect the integrity of the NFL, and to discourage other idiots around the country from mimicking this moron?

Perhaps, but it is disingenuous as it simply amounts to censorship.

But that’s not what this column is about. Simply put, it’s about how a voice and a microphone can trump all of those fancy UHD, ATSC 3.0 gadgets and electronics by pulling in an audience with the most important ingredients in the mix: emotion, passion, and elucidation.

“The story has gone remarkably viral,” says Jana Polsky, the New York-based Director of Communications and Marketing for Westwood One, which is owned by Cumulus Media. “It was a pure organic moment that shows the power of radio.”

harlan-kevinAs the industry gathers in Nashville on Sept. 20 for the 2016 Radio Show produced by RAB and NAB, let’s certainly “Reach Beyond” and remind the world about the medium everyone in the Twitterverse is typing about today.

That medium is Radio.

Thank you, Kevin Harlan, for reinforcing this.



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