Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City has become one of my favorite ballparks in America. The fountains in the outfield, the fact it’s easy to navigate and the accessibility of a 24 oz. Summer Shandy, make it a routine summertime destination. Two weeks ago was no different, as a friend and I took the 5-hour trip north to catch a weekend series with the Yankees. I had a feeling I’d be impressed by something, but I thought it would be in the form of a 500 foot home run by Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton. That wasn’t the case. Instead, the sports radio nerd came out in me as I noticed how much of a footprint 610 Sports has inside the ballpark.
It pays to be the home of Royals baseball. I say that, because 610 Sports was in my face at every turn. As I walked in, there’s 610 Sports’ logo on the ribbon boards across the stadium. As I walked down the left field line, there’s a 610 Sports trailer that houses all the pre and postgame talk during home games. As I looked up in the giant scoreboard in center field to see Brett Gardner’s batting average, you guessed it, 610 Sports’ logo was there for everyone in the crowd to see.
As a show host, I found myself incredibly impressed as well a tad envious. Here’s a station that’s reaping the benefits of having major signage across Kauffman Stadium. If I’m any sort of a Royals fan at all, I’m tuning into 610 Sports because I know they’re going to talk about my favorite team and air their games.
In our business, not every station has this advantage. I wanted to learn how it has benefited 610 Sports to partner with the Royals so I reached out to PD John Hanson who was gracious with his time and happy to answer a few questions.
TM: What exactly is 610 Saturday’s at Kauffman Stadium? It’s always listed next to the promotions on the Royals’ website.
JH: We partner with the Royals on that. Each Monday morning, we have a code word that fans can use on the Royals website to get tickets to that week’s Saturday’s game for $6.10. I think there’s a limit of a hundred. This is my sixth baseball season at the station and we’ve been doing it since before I got there.
TM: OK, so you have 610 Saturday’s, but what was the trailer in the left field portion of the stadium for on Friday night?
JH: That’s actually for our pregame show. The title of it is “Vern’s Pregame Show.” The Royals pregame show picks up 30 minutes prior to the game, so we pick up our local pregame show, just in Kansas City, 30 minutes prior to that. On 610 Saturday’s we actually extend our pregame show by another 30 minutes, so essentially, we have 90 minutes of pregame coverage on Saturday home games.
TM: I saw the 610 Sports logo on the ribbon boards of the stadium and on the scoreboard. Where else is there signage inside the ballpark?
JH: Right by the broadcast booth, as well. Then we, have some down the both the first and third base lines. And then occasionally, if they’re not sold out, we have some behind home plate, which is nice.
TM: Besides the obvious of more people seeing your brand, where have you seen the biggest benefits of all that signage? Especially since, before this season, the Royals have been really good.
JH: Any kind of branding is not super tangible, in terms of the results you see. But Kansas City clearly knows that we’re the baseball station and having that signage in the ballpark really helps emphasize that for us. The addition of the mobile studio we have that houses our pregame show, has enhanced that perception as well, because it’s not only signage, but it’s also live programming to go along with it. We also have games that are incorporated in our pregame show that includes listeners live on the air from the site. It just helps our overall perception in town that people know when baseball season comes around, if they weren’t already with us, they’re now going to be.
TM: So, the idea is, if you like the Royals then 610 Sports is the place for you?
JH: Absolutely. You have no choice (laughs). And we like to make the choice even easier, because aside from providing the actual game, we have the pregame show and the postgame show. When the Royals were in the post season, we went absolutely crazy with our coverage, we were doing all-night coverage. Literally, we were on the air until the morning show came on.
On top of that, some of the broadcasters from the Royals are exclusive to us. We also have former Royals players that do hits with us, as well as beat writers. We kind of have it all covered.
TM: You do get access to big-name guests from the Royals that others in the market don’t. Which of those guests have you seem the most reaction from with listeners?
JH: Well, I would say that (TV color guy) Rex Hudler has been a huge boost to us. He’s real fan favorite and a very entertaining personality. You never know what you’re going to get with Rex. Often times, he brings on some of his baseball buddies that are big names in their own right. He’s just a guy with an incredible amount of energy that never, ever stops. We love having him on the air and he’s with us twice a week. (Manager) Ned Yost is a guy who has really developed a great relationship with our morning show. The thing we get out of it is the chance to show who Ned is as a person, which is a pretty funny guy. Sometimes, we talk very little baseball with Ned, at least very little Royals baseball. Sometimes we talk about his famous friends or funny things that have happened on a road trip. Those are a couple of standouts for us in terms of our coverage.
TM: Maybe ‘all-in’ is the wrong way to say it, but how did 610 Sports decide to go all-in on the Royals?
JH: Well, Kansas City is a baseball town. It’s also a football town, really, it’s just a great sports town. Honestly, our partnership with the Royals has just been super strong and only getting stronger. There’s a love affair in this city with the Royals that we have not just capitalized on, but have helped to connect the fans and players. Our Royals insider, Josh Vernier, has been unbelievable. He’s called “The Voice of the Fans” because he’s connected so well with them. He’s brought the stories and the personalities, such as (General Manager) Dayton Moore, the players and coaches to the fans. It’s been really special over the last several years. Maybe even the kind of special you don’t get in other markets, where the connection between the player and the fan is so personal. A great example, is we’ve been involved with charity events and connected players to certain charities. Some of the players have connected with us, in return for the charity’s benefit. It’s really paid off and been really cool.
TM: The Royals have been good in recent years, so it’s a no-brainer to cover them as much as possible. But what about in a year like this when they’re really struggling? Do you change your strategy at all?
JH: We want to talk about what Kansas City sports fans are talking about, regardless of what that may be. We have a strong commitment to the Royals with some of the features we do and we certainly maintain those commitments, but we find a way to make them entertaining if the play on the field isn’t great. For instance, when you hear Ned Yost, when you hear Rex Hudler, you’re going to hear a lot more story telling than you would about last night’s game. We just cover it a little bit differently but certainly, whether the Royals have been good or not so good, we’ve always have the philosophy that we talk about what Kansas City sports fans are talking about.
TM: If you could just point to one specific area where the partnership with the Royals has benefitted 610 Sports, where would it be?
JH: They bring a lot of listeners to our station. We get an opportunity to showcase ourselves to a lot of people that may have not had an interest in us before. They can find out about the prizes we give away or the talent we have on the air, or the Royals coverage we provide that isn’t the actual game. It’s brought a lot of people our way and been a great benefit to our station.
Tyler McComas is a columnist for BSM and a sports radio talk show host in Norman, OK where he hosts afternoon drive for SportsTalk 1400. You can find him on Twitter @Tyler_McComas or you can email him at TylerMcComas08@yahoo.com.
First Take Wasn’t Built To Discuss Ime Udoka’s Suspension
“It was the biggest sports story on Friday morning. It warranted the amount of coverage that it got but giving it the “embrace debate” treatment was foolish.”
Stephen A. Smith is the franchise at ESPN. First Take has probably eclipsed SportsCenter as the network’s signature show. Those are opinions made without any judgment. They are neither good things nor are they bad things. They are merely ESPN’s business model in 2022.
On Friday, social media exploded like an elementary school class breaking out in a simultaneous “uh-woo-woo” when the teacher calls out a single student. It didn’t matter who you thought was in the wrong, everyone was talking about the verbal sparring match Smith got into with Malika Andrews while discussing the Boston Celtics’ suspension of head coach Ime Udoka.
I don’t want to dwell on who is right and who is wrong between Smith and Andrews. I don’t think that matters. The answer to that question is less important than the fact that we are asking it at all.
First Take was not built to handle the nuances and delicacy of a situation like Udoka’s suspension. Clearly, the coach was involved in something that is not as cut and dry as two adults choosing to have sex with each other. We don’t have all the facts and there is no version of a responsible discussion of the situation that involves speculation.
It was the biggest sports story on Friday morning. It warranted the amount of coverage that it got but giving it the “embrace debate” treatment was foolish. I don’t know who that is on.
Stephen A. Smith did not come out looking great in the exchange, but it seems too simplistic to point the finger at him. Malika Andrews came in ready for a confrontation, but again, to say just one person is responsible for making this feel icky is not addressing the issue at hand.
Matt Barnes of ESPN and All the Smoke posted an interesting message as an Instagram Reel on Friday. He said that his initial reaction to the news of Udoka’s suspension was to post a message on social media defending the coach. After someone that knew the details of the suspension spoke with him, he pulled the message down because he could not defend the things he was told happened.
We all speak with emotion on social media. That whole industry is fueled by users confusing their opinions and feelings as some sort of unimpeachable moral authority. It is a pretend space. It does not matter.
ESPN is very real. What is said on the network has consequences for the people talking and the people being talked about.
First Take is the centerpiece of a billion-dollar network. It is built to be a very specific thing. In a perfect world for ESPN, the show is the spark that starts the fire of every debate in sports.
We have been having way too many conversations in sports lately that aren’t appropriate for that kind of platform.
First Take isn’t, and frankly shouldn’t be, a show that deals in nuance. It is loud, passionate and fun. It’s supposed to sound like a bar or a barbershop. Surely Ime Udoka and what he did or didn’t do with female employees of the Boston Celtics will be discussed in those venues, just like sexual misconduct accusations against DeShaun Watson and evidence that Brett Favre helped orchestrate a welfare fraud scheme in Mississippi likely were. But barbershop discussions don’t play out on the biggest brand on cable TV. They have no consequences.
The Boston Celtics are coming off of a season that saw their young core finally start to look like the championship team we have been told they were for the last five years. They made their first Finals appearance since 2010. As a lifelong fan of this team, trust me when I tell you that if a suspension weren’t absolutely warranted, the front office would not be trying to scapegoat the head coach responsible for all of that.
Stephen A. Smith has to take a side. He has to have an adversary to every opinion he offers. It is his brand and it is what he does well. Like the rest of us, he is welcome to have an opinion on Udoke and the suspension.
First Take does what it is supposed to very well, but it is never going to be the right forum for conversation that has to be more fact and almost no opinion.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at DemetriTheGreek@gmail.com.
Seller to Seller – Yaman Coskun, Yamanair Creative
Why don’t more sellers hit the street armed with spec spots? Yaman Coskun says it is one of the most effective tools that radio uses far too rarely.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
The Difference Between Sports Media Nepotism and Following In Your Father’s Footsteps
Just because you’re hired simply because of your last name and obvious connections built within the business, it doesn’t mean you can’t be fantastic.
Growing up, I often felt envious of friends who had a family business. It sounded perfect. You didn’t have to decide what you were going to do in life, what your interests were, or how you were going to make a living. Your destiny was decided. I didn’t know nepotism was really a thing.
Later in life, I changed my tune. I can only imagine the stress of having to follow in someone’s footsteps, or be questioned “that’s not the way your old man did it”. It would bother me greatly.
As a new generation of sports media talents ascend to higher profiles, I can’t help but notice familiar names rising the ranks. Collinsworth. Eagle. Golic. Just to name a few. And while there are charges of nepotism, it isn’t anything new. But to me, there’s a difference between sports media nepotism and following in your father’s footsteps.
For instance, I was fairly critical of NBC after they named Jac Collinsworth their lead play-by-play voice for Notre Dame football coverage. I still feel justified in my criticism, mostly because network television isn’t the place for on-the-job training. Collinsworth has been roundly criticized for his work during NBC’s first two broadcasts of Notre Dame football. He lacks the command and pacing of a polished play-by-play announcer, and it’s apparent throughout the broadcast.
I’m certain had I been a sports media pundit in 1994, I would have roundly criticized Joe Buck for being hired as a play-by-play announcer for FOX’s NFL coverage at the ripe age of 25. Because, like Collinsworth, Buck’s hiring reeked of nepotism.
However, just because you’re hired simply because of your last name and obvious connections built within the business, it doesn’t mean you can’t be fantastic. While a divisive presence on broadcasts, I would venture to guess the majority of viewers believe Buck to be one of the best announcers in sports. Being great takes time. That’s a fact for basket weaving just as much as it is for sports announcers.
My personal favorite broadcaster is Ian Eagle. He’s the cream of the crop, in my eyes, and he and his son, Noah, are in the same boat that Jack and Joe Buck and Marv and Kenny Albert were in the 1990s. Noah Eagle has risen to prominence as the radio announcer for the Los Angeles Clippers, but I’ve recently heard more of his work as a college football announcer for FOX Sports. Truth be told, I find Noah Eagle’s work fantastic. First of all, he sounds just like his father. Not in his vernacular, which is close, but his actual voice is incredibly similar to Ian’s.
But the handle that Noah Eagle has on broadcasts at such a young age is incredibly impressive. His talent is obvious, and I think it’s probably why you didn’t hear many charges of nepotism when he became the Clippers radio voice at age 22.
Doing quality work is the easiest way to quell nepotism accusations. To be completely transparent, as a sports radio program director, the station I ran switched from CBS Sports Radio to ESPN Radio in 2018. The first voice heard on my station when we flipped on Labor Day? Mike Golic Jr. and I immediately hated him. In my close-minded view, the only reason he was on the show, or had any presence on ESPN Radio in the first place was because of his last name.
But Golic Jr., maybe better than anyone I’ve ever heard, didn’t defend himself from claims of nepotism. He embraced them. And in retrospect, it’s such a fantastic way to deal with those accusations. Because anyone who doesn’t like you is going to immediately tell you “the only reason you have that job is because of your dad”. And, in all likelihood, those critics would be right! So why run from it? Why hide from it? Why defend your talent when you’re not going to win those people over immediately in the first place?
It was a brilliant maneuver by GoJo. One that started to win me over. But like his father, Mike Golic Jr. is a fantastic radio, now podcast, host. His ability to relate to both younger and older audiences is one of his best qualities. He quickly became one of, if not the best, ESPN Radio hosts to deal with serious subject matters. I couldn’t have been more wrong about him during my early days working with ESPN Radio.
I think that’s the difference between nepotism and following in your father’s footsteps. You’re going to be faced with the accusations. You might as well embrace them, and if you’re talented enough — like Buck, Albert, Eagle, and Golic have shown — they’ll fade away in due time.
Garrett Searight is the Editor of Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media. He previously was the Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH. He is also a play-by-play announcer for TV and Radio broadcasts in Western Ohio.