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Dave Portnoy…The Silver Lining

The opportunities for reaching new heights and setting new goals is a Barstool reality as the company has continued to flourish with the Barstool Fund and helping small business after small business, with their team rallying to spread the word about their efforts.

Chrissy Paradis

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Photo "Dave Portnoy" by Zach Catanzareti Photo CC BY 2.0.

Among a year of chaos, division and political unrest there has been an unsung hero that emerged from the most unlikely of places. Dave Portnoy, Founder of BarStool Sports, has given hope to many small businesses who have lost so much during the past year’s Covid lockdowns.

Taking a moment to analyze the foundation of the company itself, Barstool Sports was founded by Dave Portnoy who still remains the Chief Content Officer and his Chief Executive Officer, Erika Nardini, who happens to be an incredibly accomplished executive with a track record of building, developing and growing businesses on a grand scale. Erika Nardini’s background and the foundation that makes up the Barstool that I have always loved—is an authentic and unapologetic space to discuss sports, comedy, current events and more. Since Nardini’s hiring in 2016, the dynamic between her and Portnoy seemingly became an effortless symbiotic relationship, which in and of itself speaks volumes but also lends credence to the facts Kayce Smith shared with me last year about Barstool’s culture.

Portnoy and Nardini’s commitment to content creation as upper level managers, in a hands-on fashion, has separated BarStool from others, as it is unique from any competition. Making way for the idyllic duo with the shared vision of not pandering to, cowering to or straying from their core beliefs as to what Barstool means to them, Nardini and Portnoy are continuing to dominate despite the haters and trolls who don’t seemingly consume the content Barstool is known for.

Rather than focusing on the abysmal behavior and incredulous accusations being made across social media and news media sites in a smear campaign against Barstool and Portnoy, I want to highlight the good work and empowering messages from Barstool’s employees, who’ve promoted the efforts to help small businesses stay afloat.

The opportunities for reaching new heights and setting new goals is a Barstool reality as the company has continued to flourish with the Barstool Fund and helping small business after small business, with their team rallying to spread the word about their efforts.

If you are a small business that needs help staying in business because of the Covid lockdowns email us your story to [email protected]. We will try to help as many people as we can.

3:51 PM · Dec 17, 2020

In a video that now has close to 3 million views, posted by Barstool founder and Chief content Officer Dave Portnoy just a month ago, he explains the hopes for the Barstool Fund and outlines their goal.

“We’re going to donate a half a million dollars- half a million dollars. We’ve come up with a plan; is it the best plan? No. The best plan is the government getting off their ass and issuing relief, billions of dollars, to these small business owners who are losing their livelihood and have no recourse, no way to save it through no fault of their own.”

The criteria for being included in the fund?

To qualify you have to still be paying your employees.

And you need to disclose: what do you need money for? How much do you need to get to the next month—as a rental leave tax relief? What can we do to make sure you stay in business until this pandemic is over?

“We’re going to help as many as we humanly can and try to keep all the small businesses alive. So, that’s the plan. Is it perfect? Probably not, but it’s better than nothing. [email protected] – If you’re a small business owner and you need help: reach out. Hopefully, we can help you.”

It’s been modeled around Frankie Borrelli, who’s been the longtime cameraman for Dave’s “one bite everybody knows the rules” pizza reviews, that have certainly become my guilty pleasure over the years.

Frankie’s father, owner of a restaurant in Long Island is the perfect example of the type of business they wanted to save.

“Dave, I really want to thank you for starting this fund. Do you know what it means to us? This started in April, we had our doors closed, and we made it through the summer. We built an outdoor patio, we’re breaking even through the end of the summer. I’ve got my staff; they’re all being paid. I said, ‘we’ll make it through Christmas.’ January, February, March I was planning on closing. I didn’t say anything to my staff. This is going to help so much. You don’t know. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And my staff, with their mortgages, families. You don’t know how many people you’re helping. Thank you.” Coming from the most heartwarming video Frankie posted of a video reaction of Dave’s announcement of the Barstool Fund.

Dave, who’s been a champion of the small business owner, receives criticism from others in the broadcasting, sports and journalism industries, not to mention the relentless social media trolls.  The false narratives involving the culture for women employed by Barstool or the content involving females on Barstool’s platforms has been dispelled by Kayce Smith in a one-on-one Q&A she graciously allowed me in 2020 about her experience with the company. This unfortunate and shameful narrative has not been called out by others in the media world, especially as Barstool Sports has expanded their role in broadcasting to encompass finance, current events and news. I think it’s essential to point out a few of the significant facts that conveniently get cut from stories about Portnoy and Barstool Sports because the facts simply don’t align with the narrative they want to perpetuate.

Some talking points for the people who refuse to consume any of the content Barstool produces on a daily basis has been condensed below to cancel the “cancel Barstool culture” and instead, focus on the incredible work they have done and continue to do, particularly in the vein of small business assistance.

Stuart Varney of FOX Nation and FOX Business, as well as Tucker Carlson of FOX News, have hosted Dave Portnoy to discuss his work to breathe life back into the small business owners and encourage the hard working individuals who want to continue to come to work every day and earn a check for the work they’ve done rather than be handed a check from the government to tide them over.

“Kid Rock, reached out unsolicited, Guy Fieri‘s been a big help, Tom Brady, we’ve had Dana White donate one hundred grand, so we’ve had a lot of big celebrities but we have over 160,000 individuals, so they’re just everyday people. The people who like Barstool, the people who care about what’s going on, and that may be the most moving part of it.” Portnoy shared on FOX Nation.

“I keep saying it: no amount of money will ever be enough. This is a government issue if the money is involved but they’re not getting involved.”  Said Portnoy.

“So how about coming back for a Townhall on Fox Business to talk about all the businesses you’ve saved, maybe surprise a few people, live during the special and just tell him, ‘hey, we rescued you.’ Do you want to do it?” Varney proposed to Portnoy earlier this month.

“I’m aiming for the moon.” Portnoy replied.

Stuart Varney concluded the interview saying, “Portnoy, I think you’re doing great work. I really mean that. You’re a good man.”

“You’re calling out CNN because they promoted Beyoncé’s efforts to help businesses but they just left you completely out of it. They stayed silent about you.” Tucker Carlson said to Portnoy on his show.

Portnoy replied, “Yeah, so I mean I have no problem with Beyoncé. Any charity is good. I don’t care if you’re political, not political; everyone should care about this. And I’m beating the drum: I’ll go on any network anytime anywhere because the more publicity we get, the more donations we get, the more businesses we can help. So, I don’t know why CNN would not mention it, at least to help people, help small businesses. I have nothing against Beyoncé, mention Beyoncé, she’s famous and she’s doing good work, but we’re doing something too and I think it would help everybody the more publicity that we get.” 

A fair point that has been avoided at all costs by network news media with the exception of FOX and a piece done by the Today Show. Just two weeks ago, Portnoy joined Carlson again to discuss the progress made and what the latest response from the news media has been.

Tucker Carlson pointed out the elephant in the room and how Portnoy just decided ‘I’m going to do it myself, I’m going to raise the money and give it some people who need it.’ Kind of an amazing story and you’d think it would be everywhere: it isn’t. It’s been pretty much ignored, the Barstool Sports Fund by the media, but this week some of the press start taking different approach—they’re angry and they’re trying to destroy Barstool Sports.”

Airing one of the lovely success stories and video reactions, “My whole body is numb right now,” says the recipient crying through her gratitude to Portnoy. “You guys are angels, we’ve been feeling so abandoned and so scared about the future. Thank you so much for taking care of the people that have seemed to be forgotten.” she finished.

Tucker Carlson isn’t here for it. He airs the video and then says, “The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, is a garbage paper, wrote that the woman you just saw was ‘not aware of Portnoy‘s history of making racist and misogynist remarks or the accusations of sexual harassment against him.’ because no good deed goes unpunished, apparently.” 

The claims of misogyny, sexual harassment continue despite the fact the female CEO of Barstool Sports  Erika Nardini, the female employees of Barstool and former interns have shared experiences that couldn’t differ more from the unsubstantiated claims expressed in The SF Chronicle.

The petty infighting between journalists has also continued due to a perplexing inability to focus on the sheer magnitude of the charitable contribution Dave has taken on. Dismissing the chance to report on the incredible and historic efforts made by Portnoy and his team to help provide relief for business owners who have lived in fear of making payroll or next month’s rent since the shutdown started.

The opportunities for reaching new heights and setting new goals is a Barstool reality as the company has continued to flourish—with The Barstool Fund and helping small businesses, the team has rallied to support these efforts.

One of his supporters and teammates Liz Gonzalez, Portnoy spoke of just yesterday on his podcast. “Liz is one of the purest people we have at Barstool and that’s a high compliment for me to give somebody.” Portnoy said on Tuesday’s episode of The Dave Portnoy Show with Eddie & Co.

“Liz is uniquely Liz and I respect her for that. There’s nothing fake about Liz, ever. Liz is Liz. She doesn’t care what people think.”

Liz Gonzales, blogger and host alongside PFT Commenter (Eric Sollenberger) can be heard on SiriusXM Channel 85 weekdays from 11-2.

I wrote a profile on Kayce Smith and the culture at Barstool, stemming from the years of the same inaccurate, asinine narrative about the foundation of the company.

Kayce Smith held nothing back in speaking with me about the freedom, safety and support she has around her at Barstool: “as a woman in this company, I feel very safe and have never been treated better. So that whole ‘Barstool treats their women employees poorly’ narrative is just flat out incorrect.”  The entire article can be found here: https://barrettsportsmedia.com/2020/08/04/kayce-smith-has-never-had-more-freedom/ I know the last thing that Dave Portnoy needs is me as his bodyguard, but I think it’s time to put the petty and unnecessary hit pieces aside and acknowledge the great work Dave continues to do with Barstool Sports and most recently, his philanthropic efforts for The Barstool Fund.

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How KDKA Transformed Overnights to Grow Its Future and Reach Younger Audiences

“The overwhelming feedback has been positive. It makes us local, it gives us a bench … it makes the radio station’s brand bigger and connects us in different areas.”

Garrett Searight

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A photo of the cast of KDKA Next Take and the KDKA logo
(Photo: KDKA)

In February, venerable Pittsburgh news/talk station KDKA announced a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh that would see students from the college host a weekday overnight program.

The program — KDKA Next Take — is heard from 1-5 AM and replaced the nationally syndicated Red Eye Radio in the Audacy-owned station’s lineup.

A product of the imagination of Audacy Pittsburgh Senior Vice President and Market Manager Michael Spacciapolli, he believes the show has been a success in its early run.

“The show certainly offers a different perspective on the way that this generation looks at the world and from their viewpoint as opposed to other hosts who are in a different time in their life than them,” Spacciapolli said. “So we certainly are able to share a different point of view from them, while at the same time utilizing those points of view on social and getting them to really engage the radio station from a social perspective and hopefully engaging in and not just speaking to, but engaging people in that demographic, as well.”

Needing to attract younger audiences has been at the forefront of the news/talk radio industry for quite some time. Another issue discussed by leaders of the format are often centered around where stations will find the next crop of young talent.

With the partnership with Pitt, KDKA took the initiative to seek out those who might be interested in a radio career, rather than hope those potential employees found them.

“I’m always looking for great talent. Everything I do and in every aspect of the radio station, I’m looking for the most talented people. I’m always looking for where is the next great talent in everything we do,” said Spacciapolli. “This gives me the opportunity to have them working with us on an everyday basis and learning everything they do — from their work ethic, to their thought process, to their ideas. It gives me an opportunity to have our own ‘bench’ and have an opportunity to see where talent could come from in the future.

“There’s going to be talent there that we are potentially going to take a look at in different roles. Do they leave Next Take when their time is up on the show and do they immediately become full-time hosts? Probably not. But can they become part-time hosts? Sure,” he added. “Can they become producers? Absolutely. Can they become reporters? Can they become part-time reporters? Absolutely. Working with us gives us the opportunity to certainly move in that direction much more quickly and confidently than we would have previously.”

For decades, overnights were a proving ground for aspiring hosts. The daypart allowed for opportunities for young hosts and provided a low-pressure timeslot to experiment and hone your craft. But with the rise of automation and syndication, those positions have largely fallen by the wayside.

However, Audacy Pittsburgh looked at the partnership with the college and saw opportunity. The collaboration allows a younger generation access to the station that is largely dominated by older hosts and listeners.

Additionally, it provided even more local coverage to a station that prides itself of being “The Voice of Pittsburgh.” That factor wasn’t lost on Spacciapolli.

“A big part of my vision was it gave us the opportunity to be local, gave us the opportunity to be local overnight, which for me is how we win in this business is being local, staying local, talking to people in Pittsburgh about Pittsburgh, and this gave us the opportunity to do that on a pretty big scale and with fresh content every day.”

It would be natural for a full-time or even part-time employee of the Pittsburgh news/talk station to be jealous that a four-hour program was being given to college students. But that hasn’t been the case, Spacciapolli shared.

“The overwhelming feedback is very positive … Because there’s no expense it’s not like it’s somebody else could have been doing it. It would have continued to be syndicated if we weren’t able to do it through the partnership with the University of Pittsburgh. So it just makes the radio station’s brand bigger. It connects us in different areas and hopefully grows the brand and gets the brand younger.”

The program is recorded live-to-tape earlier in the day before airing in the 1-5 AM timeslot, which allows for some fine-tuning and takes the pressure off the radio novices, while also allowing them to helm a show instead of working in the wee hours of the night while trying to focus on their studies.

Spaccipolli shared that an overnight program hosted by college students interested in one day working in the industry doesn’t have to be proprietary to KDKA. He said there’s one deciding factor in the success of the endeavor.

“It’s about the relationships and the partnerships. And, fortunately, I have a great relationship with the University of Pittsburgh, they’re a great partner. I was able to get deep enough into this relationship with them and find ways to potentially make this work,” he stated.

“This is not easy. It’s not something you can pull off easily because, traditionally, I think, people think about it and they think, ‘Oh, there’s got to be significant expense.’ And in this situation, there’s not because that wouldn’t have fit our model for where it is and what we’re trying to do with it. So there isn’t that expense. You’re not gonna be able to make it work everywhere. Fortunately, we were able to do it here.”

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Jordan Peterson Has a New Model for Higher Education

“We built a social media network into the platform and we hope that it will be the best social media network that there is.”

Rick Schultz

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A photo of Jordan Peterson
(Photo: Jordan Peterson)

Is it time to give higher education a makeover? Yes – according to one of the world’s preeminent thought leaders — Jordan Peterson — who is changing the game for higher levels of learning.

A segment this weekend on Fox News Digital highlighted famed psychologist and author, Jordan Peterson, as he discussed his new mission to educate the masses in a new and innovative way through his new start-up, the Peterson Academy.

“So what have we got with Peterson Academy?” he began. “Well, it’s a University in that we feature the best University professors in the world. And I have the privilege of being able to call on such people and to make them a good offer and to have them participate avidly and to teach only what they really want to teach in the way they want to teach it.”

Peterson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, has written three books that have sold more than seven million copies. A simple online search will turn up many of his most notable philosophical monologues, covering such topics as morality, finances and culture. His massive worldwide following allows him to call on the best of the best to teach through his new venture.

“We bring them down to our studio in Miami or go to their home country to film them and we’ve produced, I think, the best courses that have ever been filmed. Not only in terms of their academic content but also in terms of the production quality. So very high-quality production levels, using animation and background images and all filmed in front of a live audience,” Peterson noted. 

Collaborating with students is old hat for Peterson. Throughout his career, he has taught some of the most highly regarded courses at Harvard and the University of Toronto. In addition, he has published more than a hundred scientific papers with his students and co-authors. And his material will not be the run-of-the-mill brainwashing many think their children receive at typical colleges and universities.

“Very focused courses. No politically correct nonsense,” Peterson said of the course material at Peterson Academy. “The opportunity for people to obtain a bachelor’s degree to begin with. We’re not accredited but we’re working on that, and we have ways of dealing with that that I can talk about.”

Due to government collusion through the student loan industry, costs for higher education have skyrocketed in recent decades. As many experts have pointed out, rising tuition costs are caused by the government’s insistence on saddling teenagers with astronomical debt loads. All to the benefit of mostly far-left universities and their personnel, who live off the taxpayer largess.

“We hope to bring down the price of a bachelor’s degree or bachelor’s degree equivalent by, like, 95 percent. And I think we can do that,” Peterson said optimistically. “But more than that, we have stellar lecturers and we have stellar courses. We have accreditation processes, examinations let’s say, that teach while the examinations are occurring.”

In his mind, however, the new organization will add much more value than just nuts and bolts education. 

“More than that, we’ve understood as we’ve assessed what a university does, that you think of a university as professors and lectures and exams. But that’s a small fraction of what a university does. A university provides young people a place to mature and a place to develop a new community of peers. And hypothetically a place to find a mate. And those are very valuable services that people don’t think about as the university,” Peterson said. 

The Peterson Academy is founded by Peterson and Mikhaila Fuller, and students can enter their email address on the website to be notified of the organization’s official launch. The site slates June as the official launch.

“Universities bring bright, young people who are ambitious together and they can meet each other. And so they form social network, they form romantic relationships. That’s part of the reason the universities can get away with charging, like, three hundred thousand dollars for a four-year degree,” Peterson told Fox News Digital. 

As part of his other work, The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast frequently tops the charts in the Education category. Peterson often creates memorable sound bites with his direct, common-sense approach to many of the more complex societal issues. For this, he has garnered a loyal tribe of followers, eager to hear his take on some of the more thorny issues facing the world. He has taken that same networking approach to begin building a following for his new university.

“We built a social media network into the platform and we hope that it will be the best social media network that there is. And for a variety of reasons I think we’ve taken the best features of the social media networks that currently exist,” he said. 

The Peterson Academy is tentatively set to launch this month, targeting a unique audience that seeks thoughtful, truth-based higher learning.

“We’re going to have a very specialized audience, right,” Peterson said. “It’s only going to be people that want to be educated and want to be educated in a manner that isn’t politically correct.”

Peterson told Fox News Digital, his new online university will “help people fulfill their desire to get a true education that they can’t find in today’s ‘demented’ and ‘unsalvageable’ universities, all at a much more affordable price.

As the world lurches back toward freedom of thought and educational choice free of liberal biases, Peterson summed up his organization’s thesis Saturday on a post on X.

“I would like to extend my thanks to the modern university (@Harvard and @Columbia in particular) for doing everything they can to make my endeavours both necessary and successful.”

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BNM Writers

Do News Media Members Need a Copywriting Refresher?

Broadcast news, with very few exceptions, has gone over to the side of the cute and cuddly, the shiny and shocking, the “poke you with a stick to get your attention” society.

Bill Zito

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A photo of a dictionary page

We are in a banner year here already and we are barely halfway done. 2024 has already seen the 96th annual Academy Awards, the 75th Emmy Awards, the 77th Tony Awards but of course none of them can outshine last month’s release of the 57th edition of the Associated Press Stylebook for use of news media members everywhere.

(Yes, kids it’s out there. Buy it, collect it, trade it with your friends.)

I kid because I love. I think somebody has to set some rules so it might as well be the AP. Yes, I realize there’s also the Chicago Style Guide as well as a few others but really, there are Cliff Notes, Spark Notes, and their associates as well but I didn’t read those either.

I think the guides are great references and maybe they are the ultimate authority in a lot of cases but I’m fairly sure a scarce, few platforms outside of the giants in print pay them the mind they once did. I myself, stand in AP’s corner because they still shun the Oxford comma as any fine, upstanding outlet should be doing.

Besides, in TV and radio writing (Yes, TV News uses the written word on occasion) most everything said on air is written in all capitals while all accurate and dignified terminology is exchanged for sayings and slang like, “Creep,” “Accosted” and “Gunned Down.”

It’s the more outlandish words that get the attention of the audience and nobody is really concerned anymore with proper capitalization, tense, or even proper pronunciation.

(Yes, an overstatement on my part but with more than a hint of truth to it,)

In the new edition of the AP’s guide, there is much devoted to the use of words relating to law and justice, when and how to refer to those convicted of crimes and suspected of them as well.

Progress is good, right?

When is a criminal not a criminal but instead a person convicted of a crime?

Is it an assault weapon or is it not and does it matter when it comes to the story or the headline?

Is the teen a juvenile or is the child a minor and is using the wrong one hurtful or dehumanizing?

A rose by any other name…yes, yes, we get it.

Consider another identifier or descriptor that style guides might suggest if we followed them without impunity.

Is Mike Tyson a boxer who is also a convicted rapist or is convicted rapist Mike Tyson also a boxer?

I’m okay with growth and development in speech and description if for no other reason that over time it has gotten most of us to stop using words we shouldn’t be using and to start identifying people and circumstances as what they truly are.

Having never been formally schooled on AP style as I was not educated or raised as a journalist I’ve always played fast and loose with my writing and struggle with anything beyond the very standard first and second references and abbreviations.

Don’t get me started again on the Oxford comma as I’m still stopping random people on the street and asking people when and where that pretentious and superfluous bit of claptrap came about.

I offer nothing but praise for the noble newspaper reporters and editors as I largely consider the talented among them to be the last bastion of civilization in journalism.

Broadcast news, with very few exceptions, has gone over to the side of the cute and cuddly, the shiny and shocking, the “poke you with a stick to get your attention” society.

To reiterate, I like when there are rules and guidelines, as long as they are there for the right reasons. If you’re promoting accuracy and clarity, I’m on your team. If you’re latching on to an agenda, public interest pressure or political correctness which muddies the waters of truth, you and I have a problem.

I have often found myself at odds with some writing styles, sayings and/or manners of speech when it comes to reporting in general and it’s not always about grammar or AP stylistics.

Unless you can prove immediate malice or criminality, I take great exception when a journalist tells an audience a police officer gunned down a suspect especially referring to an officer involved shooting. It’s cool NYPD Blue talk but it’s misleading and inflammatory. Let’s wait for the investigation, okay?

Alleged is a great word. Overused, misused, a crutch used by those inexperienced and demanded by jitter news management who have no concept of the parameters of slander, defamation and libel.

Person of Interest and Suspect, both names of TV shows which is why the news media often gets them wrong when reporting about criminal activity. It’s certainly easy enough to check and learn how and when to use these words before you hit the air.

And finally, a personal favorite and one we can all remember and enjoy:  You don’t have to be the New York Post to call the police officer a cop to know that it’s not disrespectful.

Somebody somewhere once told somebody in news that cops don’t like to be called cops.

Of course, there are exceptions. As an ex-cop I can tell you that real cops don’t mind being called cops. Those who insist on being referred to as police officers at all times probably never got their uniforms dirty.

A cop is always a police officer, but a police officer is not always a cop.

Or to put it differently:

A Journalist is always a Member of the Press, but a Member of the Press is not always a Journalist.

Not long ago, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) lobbied hard (and succeeded) to have the media refrain from using the term, committed suicide, when describing a person taking their own life. The argument being that it tainted the act with criminality, contrition, or fault. The AP updated its guide to reflect the terms, completed suicide or the more often used, died by suicide and encouraged journalists to make use of these wordings along with “killed themselves” or “took their own life.”

As the husband of a wife (a retired police officer) who committed suicide, I have no objection to writing, saying, or hearing those words in describing the tragedy. In my viewpoint, it is what happened, and were it to be reported in the news, alternative language would not have made a bit of difference. I also have worked extensively with AFSP and other suicide prevention organizations over the years and I disagree with them on this point. But that’s all it is, a difference of opinion and a matter of perspective.

The idea of an organization, a political lobby, or corporate entity pushing the free press into a viewpoint or a particular way to tell a story does not leave me with feelings of comfort. That’s a larger concern of course when it comes to regulated style, less worrisome are where and when to use capital letters, accents, or quotes, but the ideas are still worthy of scrutiny by any of us who report what’s going on. 

The truth is still the truth and the masthead and byline, or their broadcast equivalent must stand by the story they are telling and the way they are telling it.

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