Danny Burke hasn’t yet had a lot of time to process how his sports radio career has taken off in the past year. But stopping to do just that might only start his head spinning.
It wasn’t all that long ago that the 24-year-old Chicagoland native was contemplating second-stringer injury developments for the University of Nebraska football team to fill summer airtime for an ESPN Radio affiliate in the Cornhusker State.
A move to Las Vegas led to a job at the Vegas Stats and Information Network satellite radio operation, where Burke did everything from working social media to producing for several shows while earning a little bit of on-air hosting clout.
— VSiN (@VSiNLive) September 8, 2020
And now, Burke has emerged from the coronavirus sports shutdown with his most exciting opportunity yet: his own SiriusXM show, five nights a week.
“When these things happen in the moment, they don’t seem as crazy when you’re looking at the next big thing,” Burke said. “But when you look at it from a broad scope, it’s kind of nuts how quickly I progressed.”
Burke has moved back home to steer “Rush Hour,” a collaborative effort between the VSiN brand and Illinois-based Rush Street Interactive that launched Sept. 1 and airs weeknights from 6-7 p.m. Central (4-5 p.m. Pacific). He’s doing so from the sportsbook floor at the Rivers Casino Des Plaines in the Chicago suburbs.
Burke, who also hosts “Bet On, Chicago” for the network, said the show will have its Chicago and Midwest anchors, but the timing of the program and having Rush Street’s data at his fingertips will allow him to focus on late line movements and offer analysis for the coming evening’s action nationwide.
“This is exactly where I want to be doing exactly what I want to do,” he said. “Having a chance to do this so quickly in my career, sometimes it just seems like it’s not real.”
The other side of this reality is Rush Street’s concerted move toward expanding its brand awareness. The BetRivers platform was the first to launch in Illinois in a mobile fashion earlier this summer, and the company is active in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Colorado sports wagering, with plans to launch in at least three more states in the coming months, said Rush Street Interactive president Richard Schwartz.
As its footprint grows — the company is also moving through the process of going public — Schwartz said the “Rush Hour” show is a chance to flex its informational muscle. The company plans to provide proprietary insights to Burke in terms of what’s being bet on, genuinely live odds, or whether there are big individual user payouts at stake depending on the results of the night’s events.
“We know bettors locally in a market care about what other players are betting on and where the sharp money is,” Schwartz told Gaming Today. “Through the show, we can give them an ability to compare and see how people are betting in other cities. If you feel emotions are having you bet too much for the Cubs and Bears, for example, we can look at a matchup through the lens of what folks are thinking in Philadelphia. Is your judgment being clouded by the support of local teams?
“For us, it’s an ability to create content and share information in a way not typically available for that medium.”
Burke plans to take full advantage of that partnership, but he isn’t shying away from those emotions that give sports their near-universal popularity. Plus, there’s still the entertainment side of a radio program to run. He hopes to integrate more audience interaction tools, both live from the sportsbook and through social media channels, in the coming weeks once the show gets its legs.
“No matter the age group, people can be captivated by the theme of the show if we’re smart about it,” Burke said. “From Betting 101 to laying out trends and stats, everyone can relate. Now that it’s legal throughout the Midwest, we can capture both sides of the spectrum by being universal with the information, but making it fun and educational.”
The show launch, from Rush Street’s perspective, coincides with the first National Football League season in its home market where sports wagering is legal. From its $100,000 Illinois-specific pick ’em prize pool, to quick cashouts and an emphasis on customer service, Schwartz is hopeful increasing awareness in this format is the right step at the right time.
“Being on the property, showcasing local talent at a local venue, with a wealth of energy and options for players — we find all that to be a winning combination,” he said.