PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Sports Business Radio was launched on a local AM radio station in Portland 10 years ago. The idea for the weekly hour-long talk show was to look at sports from the business perspective, which was somewhat of a niche beat at the time.
Then-NBA Commissioner David Stern was the show’s first guest.
In the decade since, interest in the business of sports has grown and Sports Business Radio has evolved into a popular podcast – something that didn’t exist when the program launched.
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Brian Berger, a public relations executive based in Portland, is host of the long-running program.
When it debuted, industry analysts said Sports Business Radio was the first such show devoted entirely to the business of sports. After nine months on Portland’s 750 KXL-AM, the radio show was syndicated by the Sports Byline USA Network, and spread to Sirius Satellite Radio. Eventually it became a podcast, and it has been among the top 100 downloaded on iTunes. It’s also on TuneIn Radio and at sportsbusinessradio.com.
”The thing about radio is that it used to be very localized,” Berger said. ”Now you can listen to anything, anytime, anywhere in the world. It’s interesting to see how it’s evolved over time.”
Berger co-founded the show with partner Keith Forman, an event management consultant who has since moved on. Berger and Forman had backgrounds in radio – both were calling Loyola Marymount’s game against Portland on March 4, 1990, when Hank Gathers collapsed on the court and later died.
Throughout the years, Berger has interviewed many sports industry movers and shakers, ranging from Stern to golfer Jack Nicklaus to Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban and Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, to name a few. Because the show is based in Portland, it also has been able give in-depth attention to Nike and Adidas, which both have a corporate presence in the area.
A favorite interview for Berger was John McEnroe, tennis star turned commentator, who called into the show from Paris where he was covering the French Open.
”He happened to have his guitar in the hotel room and he took us to break playing `Purple Haze,”’ Berger said.
Berger estimates that the show has some 10,000 regular followers across all platforms, but it’s difficult to gauge exact numbers.
”I’ve always been more interested in who is following us rather than how many are following us. I’ve been proud of the fact that many people in the business are loyal listeners,” he said. ”And I’ve heard from professors who are using the show in their sports marketing and business classes for weekly discussions.”
Berger doesn’t make much money off the program. His day job is his boutique public relations agency in Portland, and he’s a partner in the company Everything Is On The Record, which works with a wide range of clients on messaging, branding, and media training.
He also hosts the annual Sports PR Summit in New York, an invitation-only conference that attracts public relations executives from across the sports landscape.
Sports Business Radio has recently expanded to include a live-audience speaker series in partnership with the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has been among the first guests. Berger hopes to grow the series in the future.
”I started Sports Business radio with a germ of an idea,” Berger said. ”It makes you proud when you have this little idea and you make it a reality – and to see it still going after 10 years.”