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Q&A with Scott Anez

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Scott Anez is a really lucky guy. He has managed to stay on the air in the same town with the same company for nearly three decades. He was one of the most well known voices in the Orlando sports scene long before his show Anez Says helped launch the new ESPN 580 on WDBO-AM back in 2012.

I first met Scott around that time through a mutual friend, who introduced him to me as “one of the good ones.” That’s saying a lot, because that friend of mine doesn’t like anyone. It’s easy to see why Orlando sports fans and co-workers like Scott. No one knows more about the Magic, than the man that has served as the team’s pre and postgame host for the last 17 years. He has a passion for the University of Central Florida, and fans trust him because they see themselves in him. He wants the local teams to succeed, but isn’t afraid to say when things aren’t going well.

I conducted this interview with Scott during the week when Donald Trump called out NFL players for protesting at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama. It also happened to be recorded just after Florida snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at Kentucky. Those two things will come up multiple times during our conversation.

DR: I know you grew up in Orlando, but let’s start from the time that you started covering sports professionally. How have you seen Orlando change as a sports market in that time?

SA: Orlando has changed as a market period. I moved here 37 years ago as a kid and at that time, Orlando was an apathetic, quiet, one-horse, Southern outpost. I think the biggest Orlando sporting event at that time was the UCF/Rollins basketball game twice a year. That’s all we got.

I think the biggest sport back then was certainly college football. We’re a Florida/FSU kind of town. Then along comes Pat Williams in the mid-to-late 80s and said this was a major league sports town. I don’t think there is anyone in history at that time that could have made Orlando believe that it could be a major league town, and nothing has been the same since.

DR: I want to talk more about the Magic in a second, because I see some similarities between them and the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh (where I live). The difference being the Canes have had like two really good years, where the Magic tend to go on these runs and when they are good they sustain it for three or four years in a row. So the guy that has retired to Orlando from the Northeast or moved there to start a business is still loyal to his teams, but they have something exciting to latch on to, so how do you prioritize that guy’s loyalty to his teams when you’re putting together a local show in Orlando?

SA: You must be sitting in on our afternoon meetings, because this is a question that we struggle with everyday. I mentioned this was a Gators and Seminoles town, and back in the day, you’d come in on Monday, open up the phones and you could talk Gators and Seminoles for three hours.

Orlando is a tough sports radio town now, because of what you just said: everyone is from somewhere else and they bring their own allegiances here. We have a lot of Northeasterners here. There are a lot of transplanted Midwesterners here. So you combine that with the fans that have been here for years and it can be hard to figure out the combined allegiances.

So what we try to do is focus on the hot button issues of the day. Like yesterday, everyone is talking about the National Anthem controversy. Even though it can be a controversial topic and a difficult thing to do on sports radio, we have to sometimes try to do a national show on a local level, so we have to dip our toes into those waters. That can be frustrating at times because the market is always like a moving target, but I can assure you there is never a dull day trying to do sports radio in Orlando. That is for sure.

DR: Interesting, but it also has to be a little frustrating, because in the old Orlando, yesterday (September 25th) should have been the kind of day you could crack the mic and say “what the hell is Jim McElwain doing?” and you’ve got yourself a three hour show.

SA: [laughing] Exactly. Those kind of days are really frustrating because yesterday was a great sports day. You had some great NFL games. You have the Gators pulling out that win at Kentucky but they still have so many problems with their offense. You’ve got FSU at 0-2 for the first time since 1989. Heck, you’ve even got UCF pulling off a dominant victory at Maryland, and yet our PD comes into our afternoon meeting and tells us that our TV partner is coming over to grab sound from callers on the National Anthem protests and that is what we’re going to have to do for three hours.

So can that be frustrating? I guess so. Sometimes it feels like I am back in college everyday and I am taking a final exam and I have no idea what is going to be on the exam every single day.

DR: I’m glad you brought up your PD, because it leads into my next question. This isn’t me claiming to know what happens at ESPN 580 in Orlando. I have just talked to a lot of guys in your situation. They are the only local show in a prime daypart on their station, and they all talk about it as one extreme or the other. They either feel like the station as a whole is forgotten about or they feel like they have all the support they could ask for because they are their PD’s only concern. Are you one of those or do you fall somewhere in the middle?

SA: Oh, I get what I need. Cox Media Group is a great company to work for, and even though they’re dipping their toe into these waters for the first time with a sports station, I have worked for Cox for 28 or 29 years and I have always been supported. Sports radio is never going to be high on the company’s totem pole, but I have terrific support and quite frankly, they’ve kinda let us have free reign.

I went up to Bristol a few weeks ago for a sports talk bootcamp and they taught us two things. First, always be who you are because listeners can spot a phony, and also if you’re not talking NFL, you’re losing. Cox Media’s thing is that you better be talking on air about what people are talking about, so you see, they are on the same track. Yesterday that was the protests and talking about it is a bridge for fringe sports fans to find the show.

DR: Do you like talking about stuff like that? The National Anthem protests and topics like the North Carolina bathroom bill that had the NCAA and the NBA pulling events out of the state, those things mix it up and make sports radio fun and interesting in my opinion. Do you feel the same or do you have #StickToSports guy in the back of your head?

SA: I come from a news background. I wouldn’t say topics like that, for me, are easy by any means, but they’re kinda right in my wheelhouse. Even though one slip of the tongue can have protesters showing up at your radio station, that kind of adrenaline drives me. Now, I certainly take copious notes before that show starts, so I’m not talking off the cuff the whole time. Shows like that are difficult to do and that’s what really drives me.

We just had Hurricane Irma come through Central Florida, and on ESPN 580 we shunned our local programming for a week and did nothing but talk Irma day after day after day. I love sports, but I think I love broadcasting even more, and if you can have an impact on someone day to day, that is success to me. So talking about those big issues that invite everyone to listen but don’t drive off the P1s is fun for me and that is how you get the biggest piece of the pie, at least in Orlando.

DR: I’m going to use LeBatard as an example because he is national, but I’m sure it happens a lot at the local level too. He’s a guy that has never been afraid to delve into sports’ big social issues but he also isn’t afraid to acknowledge the internet theory that it was Florida football coach Jim McElwain in that photo with a shark. It’s absurd to think that may have been the case, but it is even more absurd that there are people that actually thought it might be possible. It seems like sports radio as a format is more willing to have fun and go to interesting and maybe even uncomfortable places more often than it used to.

SA: Sure. If you want sports, LeBatard’s show may be the worst place to go to for that, but look, I think he is a great journalist. He’s a great writer. Above all, what you hear on the radio is that he is a great entertainer. So do you risk running off those P1s when you do that and risk that guy calling to tell you to stick to sports or stay in your lane? Yeah, but we know our format and that includes the listeners. If you can get those casual fans to stick with you with a topic like protesting or something more frivolous, you’ll bring those P1s along.

DR: You talked about the week leading up to Hurricane Irma abandoning sports talk to focus on hurricane preparedness. Certainly weather like that is nothing new for you guys. Tell me about your philosophy as a broadcaster the day after that hurricane comes through.

SA: We actually slept at the radio station. I stayed there a couple of nights. With Cox, when an event happens like this in your community, you’re expected to be there. I grew up here. I raised a family here. I am here for the community. So, when that community is in need, that drives your adrenaline.

The afternoon before the hurricane I was on the air for about six hours, then as the hurricane was moving through, I was on all of our six stations from about 9 o’clock until 3 the next morning just talking to listeners. It was amazing. People called in and what we wanted to do was stay connected with the Central Florida community. A lot of people had power out so for some we were the only game in town, but what we learned is no matter how much we warned and begged beforehand, so many people still don’t have battery powered radios in their house.

It was an amazing night talking to people who had just seen trees fall on their houses. I talked to a woman that was talking to me from her couch, because it was the only way to stay dry in her flooded house. Another man called when a tool shed had blown through his front window.

I love sports, but first I am a Central Floridian. I am a part of this community. I love this community and for me what it is all about is supporting and preparing people and afterwards you have to be positive and let people know we are going to get through it – especially the people that are alone. It was a really unforgettable night.

DR: Okay, so now it’s time to make you uncomfortable a little bit and mess with your money. What is your motto when it comes to covering the Orlando Magic? You kinda have to walk that tightrope of cheerleader vs. truth-teller.

SA: Absolutely. It can definitely be a balancing act, but I would hope that I have built up enough in the bank that Magic fans will tell you that I tell it like it is. I will say that in all the years of covering the organization or now working for the organization, they have never once told me to lighten up on them or come to me and said ‘you need to spin this this way.’ I respect the heck out of them for that. I have been covering them for 29 years and have been working for the organization since 2000, and I think the Magic know that if they ever came to me and told me what to say it would come through on the air. And it helps them to keep my credibility intact. It can definitely be a balancing act, but the Magic make it very very easy to do my job.

DR: Right after the NBA season ended, Dan Patrick said he talked to a number of different people around the league and there is a consensus that the Magic are the team furthest away from being competitive. Tell me why he is wrong.

SA: (Laughing) I don’t know if I can argue with that. There may be a couple of teams that might be behind us, but that is a really good point. I think a lot of that goes back to the last five year under a general manager that came in with what looked like a sound plan. Let’s go ahead and dump Dwight Howard if he doesn’t want to be here and let’s try to get a lot of pieces for him and then we’ll rebuild through the draft.

Well, that’s easier said than done when you’re always a pick or two after the best players in the draft are gone. You have to make your own luck as well and Rob Hannigan never made his own luck here in Orlando. So now we restart rebuild 2.0 with a couple of guys that have great experience in the league with our new GM and president of basketball operations. It’s gonna take time though to dig out of where this team is.

Dan Patrick is probably right. Even Philadelphia looks like they are moving forward. Hmmm…maybe Brooklyn. There are some people excited about Brooklyn’s future I’m not sure why, but it is a close argument.

BSM Writers

Adam The Bull Is Giving Cleveland Something It’s Never Had Before

“It was only more recently that I was like why do I have to only be a radio guy?”

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After spending 22 years on the radio, Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber was ready for a new adventure.  In fact, the former co-host of Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland did not have a new job lined up when he signed off from his 11-year radio home last month.

“I was already leaving without having a new project,” admitted Gerstenhaber during a recent phone interview with BSM.  “I left before I knew for sure I had a ‘next project’.”

Gerstenhaber was preparing for his final show with co-host Dustin Fox on April 1st when he was contacted by an executive producer for TEGNA, a company that was developing a Cleveland sports television show on YouTube.  The executive producer, who had just found out that Bull was a free agent, made it clear that he wanted Bull to be a part of the new project.

It all came together very quickly. 

“Let’s talk on Monday,” Gerstenhaber told the executive producer. “And within a week they signed me up.”

The Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show on YouTube featuring Gerstenhaber, former ESPN personality Jay Crawford, 92.3 The Fan’s Garrett Bush, and rotating hosts to make up a four-person round-table show, made its debut last Monday.  The show, which airs weekdays from 11am to 1pm, features passionate Cleveland sports talk, live guests, either in-studio or via Zoom, as well as interaction from the audience through social media.

“I’m very excited,” said Gerstenhaber.  “It’s a definite adjustment for me after 22 years on radio doing television.  For the last 11 years, I’ve been doing a radio show with just one other host and I was the lead guy doing most of the talking and now I’m on a show with three other people and it’s such an adjustment.  So far, I’m having a ball.”  

And so far, the reaction to the show has been very positive.

A big reason why is that it’s something that Cleveland didn’t have and really never had, unlike a city like New York, where there are local radio shows that are simulcast on regional sports channels. 

“There’s nothing like that in Cleveland,” said Gerstenhaber.  “And there was certainly nothing like this with a panel.  Cleveland is such a massive sports town and now people that don’t live in Cleveland that are maybe retired in Florida or Arizona, now they actually have a TV show that they can watch that’s Cleveland-centric.”

The new venture certainly represents a big change in what Bull has been used to in his radio career.  He’s enjoying the freedom of not having to follow a hard clock for this show. In fact, there have already been some occasions where the show has been able to go a little longer than scheduled because they have the flexibility to do that on YouTube.

Doing a show on YouTube gives the panel a great opportunity to go deep into topics and spend some quality time with guests.  And while there is no cursing on the show at the moment, there could be the potential for that down the road.

Don’t expect the show is going to become X-rated or anything like that, but the objective is to be able to capture the spirit and emotion of being a sports fan and host.

“It’s something we may do in the future,” said Gerstenhaber.  “Not curse just to curse but it gives us the option if we get fired up.  It is allowed because there’s no restrictions there.  The company doesn’t want us to do it at the moment.”  

There’s also been the shift for Gerstenhaber from being the “point guard” on his old radio show, driving the conversation and doing most of the talking, to now taking a step back and having Crawford distributing the ball on the television show.

For a guy called “The Bull”, that will take some getting used to. 

“Jay is a pro’s pro,” said Gerstenhaber.  “He’s the point guard for this but he’s also part of the conversation.  I’m not used to not being the point guard so I have to adjust to that.  I think it’s gone pretty well and the chemistry is pretty good and with time we’ll get used to the flow of it.”  

Gerstenhaber’s move from sports radio to an internet television show is a perfect example of how the industry is changing.  A good portion of the listening and viewing audience these days, especially those in the younger demographic, are not necessarily watching traditional television or listening to terrestrial radio.  For a lot of sports fans, watching and listening on a mobile device or a computer has become a very important way of life.

The desire to adapt, along with a shorter workday, was very enticing to him.

“It was only more recently that I was like why do I have to only be a radio guy?” wondered Gerstenhaber.  “There were things about my job that I was unhappy about.  I was doing a five-hour radio show.  It’s too long. That’s crazy.  Nobody should be doing a five-hour radio show at this point.” 

Broadcasting on the internet has arrived and it’s not just a couple of sports fans doing a show from their garage anymore.  The business has evolved to the point where the technology has provided more opportunities for those who have already enjoyed success in the industry and are looking for new challenges.

Kind of like Adam The Bull!

“I think years ago, probably like many people in the radio business, we looked at internet and podcasts as like whatever…those guys aren’t professionals…they’re amateurs,” said Gerstenhaber.  “But the game has changed.”

Gerstenhaber, Crawford and everyone associated with the “Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show” should not have much of a problem attracting the younger audience. That demographic is already accustomed to watching shows on YouTube and other streaming platforms.  The challenge now is to get the more mature audience on board. There are certainly some obstacles there.

I know this from experience with trying to explain to my mother in Florida how she can hear me on the radio and watch me on television simply by using her tablet.

Bull can certainly relate to that.

“My mother is still trying to figure out how to watch the show live,” said Gerstenhaber with a chuckle.  “The older fans struggle with that. A lot of my older fans here in Cleveland are like how do I watch it? For people that are under 40 and certainly people that under 30, watching a YouTube show is like okay I watch everything on my phone or device.  It’s such a divide and obviously as the years go by, that group will increase.” 

With the television show off and running, Gerstenhaber still has a passion for his roots and that’s the radio side of the business.  In the next couple of weeks, “The Bull” is set to announce the launch of two podcasts, one daily and one weekly, that will begin next month.  But he also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to terrestrial radio at some point.

“I have not closed the door to radio,” said Gerstenhaber.  “I still love radio.  I would still, in the right set of circumstances, consider going back to radio but it would have to really be the perfect situation.  I’m excited about (the television show) and right now I don’t want to do anything else but I’m certainly going to remain open-minded to radio if a really excellent opportunity came up.”

The landscape of the broadcasting industry, particularly when it comes to sports, has certainly changed over the years and continues to evolve.  Adam Gerstenhaber certainly enjoyed a tremendous amount of success on the radio side, both in New York and in Cleveland, but now he has made the transition to something new with the YouTube television show and he’s committed to making it a success.

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BSM Writers

Why You Should Be Making Great TikTok Content

“We’re specially trained in the world of TSL (time spent listening), and the longer people view your content on TikTok, the more the app rewards you by shoving your content into more and more feeds.”

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It feels like there’s a new social media platform to pay attention to every other week. That makes it easy to overlook when one of them actually presents value to your brand. It wasn’t long ago that TikTok was primarily used by teenagers with the focus being silly dance trends filmed for video consumption with their friends and followers alike. Now, as the general public has become in tune with how this complicated app works, it’s grown far beyond that.

TikTok is now an app used by all types of demographics and unlike TikTok’s closely related cousins Instagram and Facebook, this app provides a certain type of nuance that I think people in our line of work can really excel in. 

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of how you can use TikTok to your advantage and how to make your videos catch on, I think it’s important to first mention why this matters for you. Now, if I’m being realistic, I’m sure there are some that have already stopped reading this or those that could scroll away fast enough when they saw the words TikTok. You might be thinking that this doesn’t fit your demo, or maybe that it’s a waste of time because productivity here won’t directly lead to an uptick in Nielsen ratings. But I’m not sure any social network directly leads to what we ultimately get judged on, and we aren’t always pumping out content directly to our core audience.

TikTok, like any other app you may use, is marketing. This is another free tool to let people out there know who you are and what you offer in this endless sea of content. And the beauty of TikTok is that it directly caters its algorithm to content creators just like us. Bottom line, if you are a personality in sports talk, there’s no reason you can’t be crushing it on TikTok right now. All it takes is a little direction, focus, consistency, and a plan. 

Unlike Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where you can throw a photo up with a caption and be done for the day, TikTok’s whole model is built on creative videos that keep users engaged for longer periods of time. This approach works. According to Oberlo, a social media stat tracking site, people spend more time per day on TikTok than any other popular social media application. 38 minutes per day!

This is where this is good news for us in talk radio. We’re specially trained in the world of TSL (time spent listening), and the longer people view your content on TikTok, the more the app rewards you by shoving your content into more and more feeds. TikTok’s algorithm doesn’t care how many followers you have, your level of credibility, or the production on your video. All ir cares about is 1) Is your content good. and 2) Are people watching it. 3) How long are they watching it. The more people watch and the longer they watch creates a snowball effect. Your videos views will skyrocket, sometimes within hours. 

So, how do you create content that will catch on? It’s really not all that different than what you do every day. Create thought-provoking commentary that makes people think, argue, or stay till the end to get the info you teased up for them. I’ve found through my own trial and error that it’s best if you stay away from time-sensitive material, I’ve had more success the more evergreen my content is. That way, the shelf life expands beyond just that day or week. This is different for everyone and there’s no one-size-fits-all, but this is where I’ve seen the most success. 

Also, put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to say something that people are going to vehemently disagree with. Again, it’s not unlike what we do every day. It’s one thing to get someone to listen, it’s another to get them to engage. Once they hit you in the comment section, you’ve got them hooked. Comments breed more views and on and on. But don’t just let those sit there, even the smallest interaction back like a shoulder shrug emoji can go a long way in creating more play for your video. 

If you want to grow quickly, create a niche for yourself. The best content creators that I follow on TikTok all put out very similar content for most of their videos. This means, unlike Instagram where it’s great to show what a wildly interesting and eclectic person you are, TikTok users want to know what they’re getting the second your face pops up on that screen. So if you are the sports history guy, be the sports history guy all the time. If you are the top 5 list guy, be the top 5 list guy all the time, and on and on, you get the point. 

Other simple tricks

  • Splice small videos together. Don’t shoot one long video. 
  • 90 seconds to 2 minutes is a sweet spot amount of time. 
  • Add a soft layer of background instrumental music (this feature is found in the app when you are putting the finishing touches on your video) 
  • Label your video across the screen at the start and time it out so that it disappears seconds later. This way a user gets an idea of what the content is immediately and then can focus on you delivering your message thereafter.  
  • Research trending hashtags, they are far more important than whatever you caption your video. 
  • Use closed captions so that people can follow your video without sound. 

Finally, don’t be intimidated by it or snub your nose at it. Anything that helps your brand is worth doing and anything worth doing is worth doing well. 

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BSM Writers

Does Tom Brady’s Salary Make Sense For FOX In a Changing Media World?

“The risk here doesn’t have to do with Brady specifically, but rather the business of televising football games in general.”

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FOX is playing it too safe when it comes to adding Tom Brady.

That’s going to sound weird given the size of Brady’s broadcasting contract. Even if that deal isn’t worth as much as initially reported, it’s a hell of a lot of loot, especially considering Brady has remained steadfastly uninteresting for a solid 20 years now.

Let’s not pretend that is a detriment in the eyes of a television network, however. There’s a long line of famous athletes companies like FOX have happily paid millions without ever requiring them to be much more than consistently inoffensive and occasionally insightful. Yes, Brady is getting more money than those previous guys, but he’s also the most successful quarterback in NFL history.

The risk here doesn’t have to do with Brady specifically, but rather the business of televising football games in general. More specifically, the fact that the business of televising football games is changing, and while it may not be changing quite as rapidly as the rest of the sports-media industry, but it is changing. There’s an increasing number of choices available to viewers not only in the games that can be watched, but how they are consumed. Everything in the industry points to an increasingly fragmented audience and yet by signing Brady to be in the broadcast booth once he retires, FOX is paying a premium for a single component in a tried-and-true broadcasting formula will be more successful. 

Think of Brady’s hiring as a bet FOX made. A 10-year commitment in which it is doubling down on the status quo at a time of obvious change. FOX saw ESPN introduce the ManningCast last year, and instead of seeing the potential for a network to build different types of products, FOX decided, “Nah, we don’t want to do anything different or new.” Don’t let the price tag fool you. FOX went out and bought a really famous former player to put in a traditional broadcast booth to hope that the center holds..

Maybe it will. Maybe Brady is that interesting or he’s that famous and his presence is powerful enough to defy the trends within the industry. I’m not naive enough to think that value depends on the quality of someone’s content. The memoir of a former U.S. president will fetch a multi-million-dollar advance not because of the literary quality, but because of the size of the potential audience. It’s the same rationale behind FOX’s addition of Brady.

But don’t mistake an expensive addition from an innovative one. The ManningCast was an actual innovation. A totally different way of televising a football game, and while not everyone liked it, some people absolutely loved it. It’s not going to replace the regular Monday Night Football format, but it wasn’t supposed to. It’s an alternative or more likely a complement and ESPN was sufficiently encouraged to extend the ManningCast through 2024. It’s a different product. Another option it is offering its customers. You can choose to watch to the traditional broadcast format with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth or you can watch the Mannings or you can toggle between both. What’s FOX’s option for those audience members who prefer something like the ManningCast to the traditional broadcast?

It’s not just ESPN, either. Amazon offered viewers a choice of broadcasters, too, from a female announcing tandem of Hannah Storm and Andrea Kramer beginning in 2018 to the Scouts Feed with Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks in 2020.

So now, not only do viewers have an increasingly wide array of choices on which NFL games they can watch — thanks to Sunday Ticket — they in some instances have a choice of the announcing crew for that given game. Amid this economic environment, FOX not only decided that it was best to invest in a single product, but it decided to make that investment in a guy who had never done this particular job before nor shown much in the way of an aptitude for it.

Again, maybe Brady is the guy to pull it off. He’s certainly famous enough. His seven Super Bowl victories are unmatched and span two franchises, and while he’s denied most attempts to be anything approaching interesting in public over the past 20 years, perhaps that is changing. His increasingly amusing Twitter posts over the past 2 years could be a hint of the humor he’s going to bring to the broadcast booth. That Tampa Tom is his true personality, which remained under a gag order from the Sith Lord Bill Belichick, and now Brady will suddenly become football’s equivalent of Charles Barkley.

But that’s a hell of a needle to thread for anyone, even someone as famous as Brady, and it’s a really high bar for someone with no broadcasting experience. The upside for FOX is that its traditional approach holds. The downside, however, is that it is not only spending more money on a product with a declining market, but it is ignoring obvious trends within the industry as it does so.

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