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3 Good Reasons You Need a Good Third Mic

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I am a firm believer that every show that is personality driven and either free of music entirely or plays only very little of it needs a good third mic. It goes without saying that a great host is needed to steer the conversation, and of course you need a co-host that is a master at his craft, whether it is adding perspective or fun to the proceedings. But if you can put a third voice on your show, that voice can take the proceedings to a new level.

That third voice can be an on-air producer, like Mike Ryan on the Dan Le Batard Show, or a rotation of regular guests. That is what Sports Radio 610 in Houston has said it will do for its afternoon show, The Triple Threat, after the departure of Ted Johnson. Some stations simply go with a three host show. That is the set up for successful shows like 3HL on 104.5 the Zone in Nashville.

Can you do a good show with fewer than three voices? Sure you can, but I am going to give you three good reasons you need a good third mic. 

1. IT GIVES THE LISTENERS MORE OF THE SHOW

I’m a big fan of Petros and Money on AM 570 in LA. I like the show because I like the hosts. I like the cast. It’s not that I don’t want to hear them take calls or interview guests. Hell, Lance Romance and Friday Night Film Fight are two of my favorite caller-driven bits in sports radio, but I became a fan of the show because I find its cast super entertaining.

More voices makes a show sound bigger, like a party even. Think about sitting at a bar with a buddy after work. it is just the two of you and you’re arguing about sports. That’s an intimate conversation, right? Well, it’s meant to be, let’s say you’re in that situation and another guy at the bar overhears you debating MJ vs LeBron. If he’s a basketball fan chances are he won’t stay silent. He might chime in with the case for Kobe. His argument is stupid because, I mean…come on. But he’s a part of this now.

More voices in a discussion invites more ears. You and your friend debating can stay one-on-one. It can be a very exclusive thing, but add that third voice and suddenly the bartender needs to tell you that rings are all that matters and Jordan has 6 of them! That invites the old barfly that has been sitting on his stool since at least 2 hours before you came in to shout that if rings mean everything, you can all kiss Bill Russell’s ass! And that leads us to point number two.

2. A THIRD MIC FUNCTIONS AS THE VOICE OF THE LISTENERS

Like in our bar scenario, everyone wants their voice heard. A third mic doesn’t need the same credibility or access that the show’s anchor does. A third mic is free to be divisive with his or her opinions. They’re free to be uninformed and shoot from the hip. It doesn’t damage the station or show’s credibility because it can be positioned as the third mic is an outsider.

One of the best third mics I’ve ever heard, regardless of format, is Jim Norton. Now he hosts his own show with Sam Roberts on SiriusXM, but he started in radio as the third mic on the Opie and Anthony Show.

When he was on that show, I once heard Norton talk about his prep routine as none at all. “I might read a few stories in the paper or on my phone, but I just want to come in and react to what those guys are saying.” It may sound frustrating to hear that a guy on a show that big walked in the door five minutes to air time as part of his strategy, but that’s what made Jim a perfect voice for the listeners.

Your listeners aren’t steeped in the details of every story you talk about. They don’t have the connections that can give them inside information. You give your opinion. They likely are hearing it for the first time and want to react to it. Having someone in the room that is thinking the same way is a great way to connect with your audience without turning your show into three hours of you reacting to phone calls about who the Bills should start at quarterback.

3. THERE’S SOMEONE IN THE ROOM ALWAYS THINKING ABOUT THE NEXT STEP

You could read that headline and think it only applies to shows that do bits and take a very silly approach to sports. Maybe you’re right that having someone always thinking about where to go next with a topic is more valuable to that kind of show, but every show can benefit from having someone in the cast that is the designated long-term thinker.

I once interviewed for a third mic position on a show that was still being assembled. The PD asked me why he would want me in that chair. I told him because I’m funny and I’m always thinking about the third day of a topic.

That’s not to say I am the world’s best third mic. I didn’t end up getting the job, after all, but if I were designing a show, I would want at least one person thinking about what angle we can take on a topic when it’s something every sports media outlet has already been talking about for two days.

Let’s use Jalen Hurts’s recent comments about the Alabama coaching staff not talking much with him about the team’s quarterback situation during training camp as an example. If I’m a PD in Alabama and I have already heard my morning show talk about how Nick Saban will react, what it means for Jalen’s future with the team, does this divide the locker room, and what does the school owe a player like Jalen Hurts, it feels like the topic is pretty exhausted right? But this is still the biggest local story three days later.

If people are still talking about it, I guess you could rehash some of those same conversations. Personally, I would want to have someone on the show that can say “You know what we haven’t talked about yet? This is the same thing Blake Barnett said in 2016 when he left and the same thing Cooper Bateman said last year when he left. Does a third quarterback saying this about Nick Saban send up red flags with high school coaches? Is this the kind of thing they might pay attention to and a reason they might tell their top quarterback prospects to steer clear of Alabama?”.

That is the kind of role that a strong third mic can fill. His or her only roll is to ask the question. It’s up to the producer (who may be the same guy) to find the guest that can answer it. It’s up to the host to provide the knowledge to answer it. It’s up to the co-host to provide the perspective that gives the answer some weight.

I fully subscribe to the idea that when it comes to radio, bigger is better. A show is always more entertaining when there are more voices. Two hosts are usually better than one and some PDs are content to settle there, but adding that third voice cuts down on the need for callers and guests and gives listeners more of what they tuned in for: THE SHOW!

BSM Writers

Keeping Premier League Games Shouldn’t Be A Hard Call For NBC

“Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans.”

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NBC Sports is facing some tough, costly decisions that will define its sports brand for the rest of this decade.  A chance to connect with viewers in a changing climate and grow Peacock’s audience as well.  However, making the right choice is paramount to not losing to apps like Paramount+ (pun intended).

NBC is currently in the business of negotiating to continue airing the Premier League as their current deal ends after this 2021-2022 season.  NASCAR is contracted to NBC (and FOX) through the 2024 season.

NBC’s tentpole sports are the NFL and the Olympics.  

Negotiations for the EPL are expected to go down to the wire. Rather than re-up with NBC, the league is meeting with other networks to drive up the price. NBC has to then make a decision if the rights go north of $2 billion.

Should NBC spend that much on a sport that is not played in the United States? It’s not my money, but that sport continues to grow in the US.

If NBC re-ups with the Premier League, will that leave any coins in the cupboard to re-up with NASCAR? Comcast CEO Brian Roberts hinted that there might be some penny pinching as the prices continue to soar. This may have been one of the reasons that NBC did not fight to keep the National Hockey League, whose rights will be with Disney and WarnerMedia through ESPN and TNT, respectively.

“These are really hard calls,” Roberts said. “You don’t always want to prevail, and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong, but I think the sustainability of sports is a critical part of what our company does well.”

Roberts was speaking virtually at the recent Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference. He told the audience that between NBC and European network Sky, that Comcast has allocated approximately $20 billion towards these sports properties.

Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh spoke virtually at the Bank of America Securities 2021 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference and echoed that the company is in a good position to make some strong choices in the sports realm. 

“The bar is really high for us to pursue outright acquisitions of any material size,” Cavanagh added. “We got a great hand to play with what we have.”

While the European investments involve a partnership with American rival Viacom, the US market seems to have apparent limits.

Last Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway was seen by around 2.19 million people. It was the most-watched motorsports event of the weekend. That same week eight different Premier League matches saw over 1 million viewers. More than half of those matches were on subscription-based Peacock. 

Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans. A game of typical soccer fan is used to a sport that is less than two hours long. The investment in a team is one or two games a week. 

My connection to the Premier League began before the pandemic.  When I cut the cord in late 2017, I purchase Apple TV.  Setting it up, it asks you to name your favorite teams.  After clicking on the Syracuse Orange and the New Jersey Devils, I recalled that my wife has family based in London, England.  They are season ticket holders for Arsenal, and that family redefined the word “die-hard” fans.

I’ve long been a believer that sports allegiances are best when handed down by family. I love hearing stories of people loving the New York Giants because their parents liked them, and they pass it down to their children.

I’ve successfully given my allegiance to the Devils to my young daughters. 

By telling Apple TV that I liked Arsenal, I get alerts from three different apps when the “Gunners” are playing. The $4.99 is totally worth it to see Arsenal.

Whenever I told this story, I was amazed to see how many other American sports fans had a Premier League team. Students of mine at Seton Hall University rooted for Tottenham Hotspurs, while an old colleague cheers on Chelsea.

Global Is Cool': The Growing Appeal of Premier League Soccer in America
Courtesy: Morning Consult

This is not meant to say that NBC should sign the EPL on my account. The key for any US-based soccer fan is that between Bundesliga, Serie A, and other leagues, there will be no shortage of soccer available on both linear television and streaming services.

Besides, Dani Rojas did say that “Football is life.”  NBC, originator of the Ted Lasso character, should make keeping its Premier League US connection a priority.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 45

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Today, Demetri is joined by Tyler McComas and Russ Heltman. Tyler pops on to talk about the big start to the college football season on TV. Russ talks about Barstool’s upfront presentation and how the business community may not see any problems in working with the brand. Plus, Demetri is optimistic about FOX Sports Radio’s new morning show.

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BSM Writers

6 Ad Categories Hotter Than Gambling For Sports Radio

“Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life.”

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For years sports radio stations pushed sports gambling advertisers to early Saturday and Sunday morning. The 1-800 ads, shouting, and false claims were seedy, and some stations wouldn’t even accept the business at 5 am on Sunday.

Now, with all but ten states ready to go all in on sports gambling, sports radio stations can’t get enough of that green. Demetri Ravanos wrote about the money cannon that sports gambling has become for stations. Well, what if you are in one of those ten states where it isn’t likely to ever be legal like California or Texas? Where is your pot of gold?

A Pot of Gold Articles - Analyzing Metals
Courtesy: iStockphoto

Or, let’s face it, the more gambling ads you run, the more risk you take on that the ads will not all work as you cannibalize the audience and chase other listeners away who ARE NOT online gambling service users and never will be. So, what about you? Where is your pot of gold?

Well, let’s go Digging for Gold. 

The RAB produces the MRI-Simmons Gold Digger PROSPECTING REPORT for several radio formats. In it, they index sports radio listeners’ habits against an average of 18+ Adult. The Gold Digger report looks at areas where the index is higher than the norm – meaning the sports radio audience is more likely to use the product or service than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. The report, generated in 2020, indicates that sports radio listeners are 106% more likely to have used an online gambling site in the last thirty days. That’s impressive because the report only lists 32 activities or purchases a sports radio listener indexes higher than an average adult. I looked at those 32 higher indexes, and I think we can start looking for some gold.

Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life. The gambling companies who commit significant money to get results will continue advertising and chase the others away. So, the future of sports radio needs to include other cash cows.

If it is evident to online sports gambling services that sports radio stations are a must-buy, who else should feel that way?  I looked at the Top 32 and eliminated the media companies. ESPN, MLB/NHL/NFL networks, and others aren’t spending cash on sports radio stations they don’t own in general. But Joseph A Bank clothing, Fidelity, and Hotwire should! Here’s your PICK-6 list I pulled together that’s hotter than sports gambling:

  • Sportscard collectors, Dapper Labs, Open Sea- read about Sports NFT $.
  • Online brokerage firms-Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, Webull, TD Ameritrade
  • Golf courses, resorts, equipment, etc.- we play golf at home and vacation
  • Hotwire.com, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Carnival Corporation, and Priceline.com- we’ve used Hotwire in the last year.
  • FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle-we wired or overnighted $ 
  • Jos. A. Bank, shein.com, macys.com, nordstroms.com- we went to Jos. A. Bank in last three months

The sports card/NFT market is 32% hotter than the sports betting market for sports radio listeners. Everything on the PICK-6 is at least 100% more likely to purchase than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. All listed are at or above indexing strength compared to sports betting. The individual companies I added are industry leaders. Bet on it! Email me for details. 

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