When it comes to sports talk radio a host must wield many talents daily; address the topics of the day in a passionate manner, be funny and entertaining, possess a vast amount of knowledge, know how to interview your guests but perhaps most importantly – don’t be afraid to share your opinion despite what the majority of your audience may think. Today is my first “Now Hear This” for SportsRadioPD.com and I decided to focus on a fairly recent story that I’m familiar with but from the perspective of hosts from the opposite coast.
In this case, I came across the thoughts and opinions of Scott Garceau and Jeremy Conn in Baltimore at 105.7 The Fan. You can hear the segment I’m sharing my feedback on at the bottom of this column.
Let’s go back a few weeks ago to when we learned that Ravens QB Joe Flacco suffered an injury to his back, causing him to likely miss the preseason, and possibly be out even longer. Very quickly word spread of Colin Kaepernick potentially being a good fit to backup Flacco. Like most stories involving Kaepernick over the last year, this became a heated and controversial topic across the country.
For Scott and Jeremy, they are living and working in the market in question. They had the responsibility of informing their listeners of the latest developments in the story, but more importantly, they had to deliver their opinions without fear of their listeners disagreeing with them. The good news is that the guys did EXACTLY that.
Jeremy Conn comes out firing telling the listeners to STOP sending him emails about Kap and the military. He follows it up by pointing out that Kap never said anything disparaging about the military. He explains that he didn’t agree with the pig socks that Kap wore (both hosts agree) and the only issue is that the former 49ers QB took a knee.
The guys have a great back and forth, with Scott disagreeing with Kap taking a knee because he feels it disrespects our country and military. Jeremy adds that he’s never walked a mile in Kap’s shoes so it’s hard for him to fully understand where Colin is coming from. There’s laughs to be had when Jeremy gives out Scott’s email (as his own) in the event the audience wants to continue the conversation off-air. Both guys agree on one thing in particular, Kaepernick is an interesting option considering the Ravens current back up is Ryan Mallett.
Additionally, Jeremy mentions that Joe Flacco spoke at camp on the topic and said that he’s rooting for Kaepernick to return to football but just not with the Ravens. Props to the producer as the audio was pulled and played back which helped end the segment nicely. It shows they were thinking along with the show and adding to the on-air presentation.
Whether you agree with Scott and Jeremy on the topic or not isn’t important. What does matter is that the guys checked all of the necessary boxes.
Deliver the latest news – Check
Passionate – Check
Funny and Humorous – Check
No Fear – Chceck
I applaud both Scott and Jeremy because they clearly have a chemistry that enables them to take on a difficult topic like this while remaining true to who they are at heart. They present themselves as two guys who are passionate about what they do but still find a way to keep things light and entertaining.
Kaepernick, as we all know, did not end up signing with the Ravens and still remains a free agent. If Flacco’s back heals up and he remains relatively injury free this year, that will likely be the end of this story in Baltimore. On the other hand, if Joe isn’t right and Mallett stinks up the joint, this story will likely revive itself in some way shape or form. If it does, it will be interesting to see how much Scott and Jeremy revisit the idea of adding a certain QB with Super Bowl experience on the roster…assuming of course that he’s still available
Kevin Sherrets has served as Program Director of Sports Radio 1140 KHTK in Sacramento, Assistant Program Director and Executive Producer of 104.3 The Fan in Sacramento, and Executive Producer of Sacramento Kings radio broadcasts. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinSherrets. To reach him by email click here.
Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content
Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.
When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.
“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.
Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:
1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”
2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.
The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.
I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.
Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”
There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.
First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.
The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.
The Client Just Said YES, Now What?
We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.
One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!
We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.
When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.
They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.
A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.
Media Noise – Episode 74
This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.