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Sweet Emotion

Brian Noe

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Paul George could see himself in purple and gold. “PG-13” told the Indiana Pacers last year that he intended to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent in 2018. George instead agreed to a 4-year, $137 million deal on Sunday to remain with the Oklahoma City Thunder without even granting his hometown Lakers a meeting. That’s like saying you intended to go for a jog but wound up parasailing instead. It was such a major turn of events for George. What changed?

Emotion played the biggest role in George’s decision. He reflected last week on the feeling of having unfinished business after being eliminated in the playoffs by the Jazz. “I felt I didn’t finish as strong as I could have. Just knowing you left something on the table, even to this point now, it weighs on me,” George said in a three-part documentary.

The organization also helped George feel the love. They provided five-star treatment leading up to his decision to remain in OKC. The front office rolled out the red carpet for George after trading for him last summer. They flew the small forward and his family to Oklahoma City in a private jet where hundreds of adoring fans greeted his arrival. Russell Westbrook threw a party in Oklahoma City on the eve of free agency after reportedly boarding an eight-hour flight from Hawaii. George announced his decision to re-sign while at the party, which was attended by members of the team’s front office.

Unfinished business @russwest44

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It simply felt right for Paul George to stay for all of these reasons. Feelings can be very powerful and persuasive emotions. George’s emotions were so strong that they helped influence him not to even take a meeting with the Lakers organization he’s dreamed of playing for. It got me thinking about sports radio and how emotions can have a major impact on the level of success hosts experience.

I’ve heard the statement many times, “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s such a great concept for sports radio. It could easily be the golden rule for the entire format. We’re often so laser-focused on being right while hosting shows that we can completely forget about how we’re making the audience feel. Being right is great, but it can’t come at the expense of making people feel like dirt.

Sports radio will test your patience as a host. There are plenty of fanboys that call in and say ridiculous things. It isn’t rare to hear a caller say, “Even though the Warriors just picked up Boogie Cousins, the Sixers are still gonna sweep ‘em.” I don’t expect hosts to say, “Well, John, you might be completely right and we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.” That’s lame. I do, however, believe that it’s harmful when hosts totally obliterate callers who don’t make any sense.

Instead of being disgusted while telling crazy fans that they are indeed crazy, try to have some fun. Keep it light by challenging a caller to a funny off-the-wall bet if their prediction is wrong. Playfully ask a caller what his favorite beer is and then if he’s had 27 of them today. Find ways to disagree while keeping the vibe loose so you don’t end up making enemies out of listeners you need to be your friends.

Remember what Rosie Perez said in White Men Can’t Jump, “Sometimes when you win, you really lose.” A host can make a winning argument, but if the opinions are made in a demeaning and condescending manner, the host will come out on the losing end. Winning an argument in a way that causes the audience to resent you is actually a loss. On a side note, I swear I’ll quote a movie one of these days that was made in the 2000s.

I was at a Wendy’s drive-thru Sunday night with the lovely Christina. The car in front of us had a huge sticker on the back window saying, “I am a person.” It looked worse than the Cavs roster without LeBron, but it carried an important message. The guy who calls in to say the 49ers are going to win the Super Bowl is a crazy person. But guess what? The key word isn’t crazy, it’s person. That person has family and friends who will object if you lambast him for his wacky opinion. It doesn’t do any good to turn multiple people against you just because you strongly disagree with a single opinion.

The late comedian Ralphie May once said, “As a man in a relationship, you have a simple choice; you can either be right, or you can be happy. You can’t be both.” This is hilarious, but I don’t completely agree. Being right is definitely in the better-tread-lightly-dude category in a relationship and sports talk. It can be done while keeping the peace if you’re savvy though. The sole focus can’t be on being right. It should be on making others feel good, or at the very least not making them feel terrible.

Before speaking, think, “How will my comments make them feel?” If your statements will make them feel horrid, think of something quickly that won’t. I know this sounds like I’m about to hug a tree in my new tie dye shirt, but it’s true. How would you feel toward a host if you were called a moron or an idiot because your point was disagreed with? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be singing the praises of that host while also wondering if you should be a part-time hitman. 

Hosts can correct callers or disagree with opinions, but it’s all about how that’s being done. There’s an art to disagreeing with a caller while still keeping them on your side. Just be constantly aware of how you’re making people feel. Your goal is to make listeners feel sweet emotion. If you trigger sour emotions instead, your ratings will become sour as well.

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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