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Tyler’s Take: Herbstreit & Fitzsimmons

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Title: Herbstreit & Fitzsimmons
Date: 9-20-17
Length: 50 minutes and 9 seconds
Cast: Kirk Herbstreit and Ian Fitzsimmons
Sponsors: Seat Geek
Extra: Powered by ESPN, the podcast can be found on ITunes or the ESPN app.

Analysis:

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit and ESPN Radio host Ian Fitzsimmons team up for a weekly podcast that centers entirely on the college football season. To be honest, before I gave this podcast a listen, I expected it to be very similar to the College Gameday or studio show format that has been so popular with ESPN. However, I didn’t find that to be the case. Instead of 50 minutes of hard-hitting college football talk, Herbstreit and Fitzsimmons showed a lot of their personality, which made the opening minutes of the show very entertaining. I especially liked Fitzsimmons’s role of driving the podcast, which kept the show on-track with good flow. As any great host can do, Ian does a great job of setting up topics and discussions for Herbstreit to analyze.

After a few minutes of banter between the hosts, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield joined the show to talk about his start to the season. This is where Herbstreit and Fitzsimmons set their podcast apart from the rest. It may help having the backing of a major brand like ESPN, but featuring, quite possibly, the most polarizing player in college football is something that most other podcasts can’t provide. Mayfield is a big draw, and I was anxious to see if Herbstreit and Fitzsimmons would be able to bring out his personality and ask original questions. Much to my enjoyment, that was certainly the case.

As a media member that covers Oklahoma, I’ve heard just about every question that Mayfield can be asked. However, Herbstreit threw in several questions that I had never considered or heard of. The originality of the questions from both hosts, kept me thoroughly entertained throughout the entire interview with Mayfield.

Following the interview, Fitzsimmons does a marvelous job of re-setting things and teasing an upcoming conversation with Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen. From there, he goes into a Seat Geek read. I liked the fact that he teased the interview before the read. By doing so, he gave me a reason to stick around through the ad because of the relevance of the next interview.

Once again, Herbstreit and Fitzsimmons do a fantastic job with another guest (Mullen). These days, we’re accustomed to ‘coach speak’ in media settings, where everything that’s said is taken with a grain of salt. That’s why I love hearing coaches on a podcast, because, more times than not, it seems you’ll get better answers and lot more truth. Such was the case with Mullen, as he laid out the reasons for last year’s disappointment and what he truly expects from this season. Mullen is one of the more well-spoken head coaches you’ll hear from, and when informative questions are thrown his way from Herbstreit and Fitzsimmons, the segment really shines.

After Mullen exits the show, both Herbstreit and Fitzsimmons spent time breaking down the big games for the upcoming weekend. This is a staple of any podcast that’s centered on football, but the roles of the two hosts are clearly defined, which makes the flow a lot sharper. Herbstreit provides excellent insight to all six games mentioned, while Fitzsimmons sets everything up and includes key points from each game.

Closing comments:

The two interviews with Mayfield and Mullen are what set this podcast apart from the rest. Sure, anytime you can get big-name guests, it’s impressive, but the timing couldn’t be more perfect. With Mayfield being the Heisman front-runner and Mullen potentially being the hottest head coaching commodity this offseason, it brings relevance along with the big names. That’s key. I love to hear from big names, but I love it more when they’re the big story. All in all, I would definitely recommend this podcast to any college football fan. It has great info along with good humor and quality guests.

Give props to ESPN for pairing Herbstreit and Fitzsimmons together as a duo. With Fitz’ extensive radio background and Herbie’s expertise on the sport, it’s really a great blend of personalities.

Also, the production value with opens and closes is very well done. That’s to be expected with a product that’s made by ESPN, but it can’t be stressed enough how good production can greatly benefit a podcast.

To hear the episode click here.

BSM Writers

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.

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USA Today

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.

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BSM Writers

The Client Just Said YES, Now What?

We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.

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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.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 74

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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.

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