Twenty-nineteen concludes in just a few weeks. Thus, lists and awards varying from sports, television, movies, food, music, and memes have surfaced. Now it's time to add sports media into the discussion with the 2019 edition of the Sports Media Awards.
This year's awards were given to the members of sports media who helped make 2019 a compelling, innovative, and statement-making year in the industry.
Best Radio Show - The Dan Patrick Show
There are sports radio shows that create more headlines, attract more resentment, and have more outrageous callers. But in terms of quality, the Dan Patrick Show is the best listen. Dan's chemistry with the Danettes blends right into the conversation and atmosphere you enjoy with your buddies on NFL Sunday afternoons. No radio or television show brings on more high-profile guests either. Patrick doesn't just book names like Adam Sandler, Aaron Rodgers, Bryan Cranston, Brett Favre, and Mike Krzyzewski to make appearances, he gets them to open up in ways they do not do with other hosts. If "Best Sports Interviewer" was an annual category, Patrick would have won for another entire decade.
Report of the Year - Adam Schefter on Andrew Luck's Retirement
The bombshell that was Andrew Luck's retirement on a late, ordinary Saturday evening may have been the best scoop of the Twitter reporting era. When Adam Schefter reported that one of the league's best quarterbacks was finished with football at the age of 29, it took several minutes to make sure you weren't looking at yet another fake troll account. There hasn't been a sports story this shocking, this game-changing, and this eye-opening in a long time. And there likely won't be another of this magnitude for several years at least. Of course it was reported by Schefter, who continues to dominate NFL news year after year in every facet.
Surprise of the Year - Malika Andrews
At just 24, Malika Andrews has already been inserted into ESPN's highly-promoted NBA coverage. In her first full year at ESPN, moving from Chicago to New York, Andrews was featured on the television side on The Jump, SportsCenter, and Jalen & Jacoby. Andrews' impact wasn't limited to television hits as her reporting and NBA features caught attention around the industry as well. Her versatility, knowledge, and inside information sets her up as one of sports media's fastest-rising talents moving forward.
Best Broadcast Booth - Jim Nantz and Tony Romo
The pairings of Joe Buck/Troy Aikman and Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth remain excellent at calling football games. However, the best duo of the year was Jim Nantz and Tony Romo. They gave us a memorable performance in the AFC Championship Game when Romo's grasp of the game was equal to Bill Belichick's, and they were able to overcome a lackluster Super Bowl to keep everyone engaged and entertained. Simply put, they have been the best duo in sports this season. Romo, entering a contract year, is as valuable as any one talent in the business. He has given Nantz, who is back to grade-A game-calling, a second life.
Under-the-Radar Talent of the Year - Colleen Wolfe
Attention on pregame shows and particularly the hosts is high, as they often lead into live sports events. Yet Colleen Wolfe's role as host of NFL Network's Thursday Night Football pregame show remains mostly undiscussed-- despite the fact that Wolfe has again bolstered the show's excitement, flow, and chemistry in her second year on the show. It's a challenge to stand out as a host on a desk featuring the always-fiery Steve Smith and Michael Irvin, but the dynamic Wolfe has managed to do just that. Wolfe, who recently signed a multi-year contract extension with the network, also hosts the Saturday morning edition of Good Morning Football, which is at least on par with the critically acclaimed weekday version of the show.
Best Podcast - Pardon My Take
There seem to be more new podcasts launching in a day than are hours in a day to listen to them. It's especially true in sports, making it increasingly hard for any one show to stand out in the conversation. The exception is Barstool's Pardon My Take, which has been the best and most successful sports podcast since it launched back in 2016. PMT routinely covers the top sporting events in a humorous yet relatable way. The podcast's guest list is always intriguing and often produces highlights across social media. This past year, the duo went without interviews on Mondays to instead dip deeper into the NFL games, and gave the audience chemistry and dialogue reminiscent of Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. And if resembling the PTI duo indicates Pardon My Take 's future, its substantial gap over the field will widen.
Leap of the Year - Mike Coppinger
A year ago, most sports fans, and even boxing fans, would not have known Mike Coppinger. Now he's become boxing's top news-breaker and a must-follow for anyone who consumes the sport. Aside from scoops, he got Canelo Alvarez, boxing's biggest star, to open up about his disgruntled relationship with his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya. Coppinger's year proved that young talent can emerge in a flash with original news that is not found elsewhere -- and that it doesn't have to come from the NFL or NBA.
Best Sports Television Show - Get Up
As Get Up approaches year two of its existence, it's gone from the brink of a disaster to setting the sports conversation daily. Regardless of what ESPN envisioned for the morning show, it's become a news-making instrument. If you first check the web at 10 a.m. ET, you will see several headlines created from Get Up, whether it be news, predictions, statements, stats, or some level of outrage. The current model sees Mike Greenberg in a more comfortable and traditional hosting role -- a la Mike & Mike -- where he tees up just about every personality on ESPN's roster. This includes impressive runs in the analysts' chairs this year from Adam Schefter, Paul Finebaum, Damien Woody, Pat McAfee, Dan Orlovsky, and Marcus Spears.
Host of the Year - Maria Taylor
No host had a better 2019 than Maria Taylor, who is ESPN's top talent under 40, as noted in TBL's 40 Sports Media Talents Under 40 list. After months of rumors, Taylor took over as the new face of NBA Countdown in October of this year. ESPN's NBA pregame show has struggled to find its place for the better part of the past decade, and Taylor has finally given it an identity. As a host, Taylor is an exciting hybrid point guard who makes all around her better. In addition to Countdown, Taylor was one of the hosts of Get Up this fall, which is a role she as always impresses in next to Greenberg. While Taylor's win is solely based on hosting, her year-end resume includes praise for her performances on ESPN's NBA Draft and college football coverage.
Breakout Star of the Year - Pat McAfee
Rumors were buzzing in regards to Pat McAfee's next media move early in the year. Then McAfee's status became equal to the buzz as he shined while sharing his time between ESPN, DAZN, and the WWE. He was disappointed he wasn't added to Monday Night Football, but quickly found his footing just about everywhere else at ESPN. McAfee has been a standout amongst the large pack of Get Up analysts this season, added noticeable energy to the network's Thursday college football broadcast, and fit right in on the historical College GameDay. McAfee hosts a daily radio show on Westwood One , which is simulcasted digitally on DAZN, with unique energy, flavor, style, and topic selection.
Personality of the Year - Stephen A. Smith
Stephen A. Smith takes this award for the second straight year, in the process having his most impactful, talked-about, and newsworthy year of his career. As reported by The Big Lead, he was awarded a long-term extension with ESPN that made him the network's highest-paid talent. The lucrative investment in Smith ensures ESPN's confidence there is no threat to his "Face of ESPN" stature. Smith also began hosting the Wednesday night NBA pregame show as a part of the new five-year deal. All year long, it was his words on First Take, his rants on his radio show, his trolling of the Cowboys, and his insight on the NBA that drew the most attention across the sports media landscape. As was the case a year ago, he is the front-runner for this award next year.