Originally Posted by Rick Young on ScoreGolf.comhttp://scoregolf.com/blog/rick-young/a-sirius-saga/
Back live on the air in their traditional 7 a.m. ET timeslot were Matt Adams and Dominic Scarano, the amiable host and producer respectively of FoL, the syndicated radio network’s longest running show (10 years) and a staple of many a golfers’ morning commute.
Returning after the traditional holiday break, Adams did what he always does. He put the focus on what lies in prospect. He teed up the forthcoming 2017 golf season; talked about Rory McIlroy’s gear changes; Jason Day’s shiny new Nike contract; the various equipment free agents on the market; and he offered analysis on Tiger Woods’s comeback.
Most importantly, Adams put the priority on listener opinion. That’s the bread and butter of Fairways of Life. Fine for host and producer to weigh in now and then but Adams and Scarano are far more interested in what Joe Public thinks. This past Monday, just like every day, callers lit up the producer’s board hoping to get in the FoL morning queue.
That said, to the casual listener or viewer (FoL is simulcast on GolfChannel.com) it appeared to be business as usual for Adams and Fairways of Life. Not quite. Behind the scenes something had happened, something that sent shockwaves through the golf broadcast community while breaking the hearts of longtime listeners: On December 14 Adams announced the end of Fairways of Life on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio. He did so on the air and on social media.
“Friends: about to announce the end of FoL on Sirius XM. I’m full of gratitude for the passion/support past 10 years.”
This was not Adams’ call. SiriusXM executives informed him right before U.S. Thanksgiving that they felt the time had come to move in a different direction. No hard feelings, no issues with his body of work, simply a change for the sake of change. “A fresh voice” they tend to call it in programming. Handshakes all around.
Others in his situation might have thrown SiriusXM under the bus. A pound of flesh, as they say. Not Adams. He respected the network’s decision. He was grateful for the opportunity from the network and thankful for the platform he’d been given. Instead he delivered this message, “This has been an incredible 10 years. I never thought I would build the relationship base and listener base I have. I’m thankful. I’ve been blessed. At the same time perhaps the time has come to focus elsewhere.”
His approach was totally professional. Adams spent the next two to three days after the announcement on air thanking, as he calls them, “the greatest listeners in the world.” Classic FoL interviews from the past aired, celebrating the show’s many guests while those final days offered Adams and Scarano time to reminisce about FoL’s superb 10-year run. They had accomplished a lot. They even put together a final hurrah, one last “Listeners Trip” to Florida’s Streamsong Resort scheduled for next month.
But amid the bittersweet goodbye there was a growing backlash. Unhappy customers voiced their displeasure on-air and across social media channels with SiriusXM’s decision to cancel Adams and Fairways of Life. Some went so far as to say they planned to call and cancel their subscription.
Adams was overwhelmed by the support, but his professionalism and loyalty to the network would not allow him to be in any way supportive of listeners cancelling SiriusXM. On air he was saying; “Guys, don’t do that (cancel). SiriusXM is great. I listen to PGA Tour Radio all the time, listen to the great coverage of PGA Tour events we have and all the other fantastic programming on here. I’m not cancelling my subscription.”
It’s not like he was riding off into a Bandon Dunes sunset either. Since a deal was struck to have Fairways of Life simulcast on GolfChannel.com over a year ago, Adams’ role with the NBC-affiliated golf television network has expanded rapidly. He’s now a regular on Golf Central as well as Morning Drive. Add to that his renaissance abilities as a best-selling author, keynote speaker and a busy dad and husband (Adams’ movie-star son, C.J. Adams, is probably even more famous than his father) perhaps it was a fitting time to say so long to Fairways of Life.
Suddenly, SiriusXM executives weren’t so sure. The backlash and strong response of support for Adams, Scarano and the show took the company hierarchy behind closed doors to, according to a source, “re-visit the decision that was made on FoL.”
Factoring into the decision to do that, at least in part, was the affinity several of the executives had for Adams personally. They had come to know him well. He was well liked. The show was popular. It was positioned in the vitally important 7 a.m.-9 a.m. timeslot when people travel to work. Suddenly losing subscribers would certainly hit where it hurts most: the bottom line.
In play too was another network. It reached out with the intention of wanting to take on Fairways of Life as part of its 2017 programming. Since he owns the show, brand and its applicable rights, Adams was in a position to negotiate it on the open market.
On December 17, Adams’ agent Drew Carr of Fidelity Sports Group received a call from SiriusXM. The network requested a meeting to discuss the situation and to see what common ground existed to get Adams back on the air.
“We huddled with them (SiriusXM) over the course of a few days,” Carr said in an interview. “We figured it out. Certainly the strong and immediate response from the listener base played a huge part. Credit to SiriusXM for making it happen.”
On December 21, Adams posted the following on Twitter:
“Friends, delighted to inform: #YourVoiceWasHeard & SiriusXM has asked me to say on air w/FoL. #LifeIsLikeARollerCoaster”
For now this deal is for the short term. Fairways of Life will air on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio through 2017. After that, both sides will sit down to see what the future holds going forward. Being a leading face and voice on two platforms, as much as he loves both genres, has to be difficult. It offers significant challenges. On his Facebook page December 24, Adams posted the following as part of a year-end message.
“Mass media can definitely be an odd beast and sometimes the more success you have in one area, the more of a detriment it can be in another. The world of media is so fractured and competitive these days that media entities need to package their talent and I will admit that I’m hard to fit into a particular box.”
In that same post he also nicely encapsulated the situation between he and SiriusXM.
“I thought this past year would be my last doing radio and yet one week ago we were approached by a huge national network about bringing the show (or a new show) to their network! Again, I was amazed. We ultimately decided to stay with SiriusXM when they asked us as that is where it all began. I’m taking it on a year-by-year basis now and intend to fully enjoy each day as the radio is now a labour of love. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
For fans of Matt Adams and Fairways of Life on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, seems it already is.