When Justin Kinner sits in the host seat today for his daily show at ESPN WING 1410 in Dayton, he’ll be approximately 79 miles from Ohio Stadium in Columbus, the home of the Buckeyes, and 57 miles from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, the home of the Bengals. Literally, he’s smack dab in the middle of one of the most popular college football programs in the country, as well as an NFL franchise with a large following.
In many ways, Dayton is a melting pot for various sports fans throughout the state of Ohio. The Buckeyes will always be the biggest news in the state, but the Browns, Bengals, Reds, Indians, Cavs and even Steelers all have a loyal following where Kinner calls home. Sure, that’s a blessing when considering you’re never short of topics, but also a challenge for a host, seeing as you have to be knowledgeable on several teams across the state.
Not only has Kinner accepted that challenge, he relishes the opportunity to do so. The once shy and quiet kid in high school that wasn’t outgoing, has now blossomed into an afternoon drive host, as well as the program director for ESPN WING 1410. The funny thing, is none of Kinner’s high school classmates foresaw him becoming a sports radio personality. At the time, it was a fair assumption, seeing as the business is normally reserved for more outgoing personalities. Kinner was anything but. But as a student at Wright State, he caught the sports radio fever while doing a show with the student radio station. It didn’t take him long to realize this was the career path he wanted to choose.
Anyone that’s ever went to college has skipped at least one class. We’re all human, right? Some of us did it because Thirsty Thursday at the local bar was too great of a time to reach that 8 a.m. class the next day. Some of us overslept from time to time, while others just woke up and realized they had better options that day than to attend class.
Whatever and how many of those excuses you used, skipping class one day ended up being one of the most important days of Kinner’s life. A big final was approaching and Kinner felt he needed more time to study for an exam in another class. So, he skipped one class to study for another. A really responsible excuse for not going, if you ask me. However, while sitting in his student radio office, an employee of the local ESPN radio affiliate in town walked in and asked if anyone was interested in doing fill in work for the station. Like a miracle happening right before his eyes, this was the opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Without any hesitation, Kinner jumped at the opportunity.
If it wasn’t for skipping class, Kinner would have never been in the situation to accept an offer from ESPN WING 1410. Conversely, he admits that he probably wouldn’t be in sports radio if that situation didn’t occur. Anyone believe things happen for a reason?
Shortly after, Kinner’s radio career began by doing part-time work at the station, which got him into sales. His workload consisted of hosting a Sunday morning show, high school football games and being the No. 1 fill-in for shows during the week. He was doing it all at the station and proving his worth as a valuable commodity to the company. His first break had already come, the second, was to come shortly after.
As such things happen in the business, the PD job at ESPN 1410 came open right when Kinner was starting to make a name for himself at the station. Maybe it was because he was already doing on-air work, maybe it was because he proved his worth early on. Maybe it was several reasons, regardless, Kinner was ultimately named program director at ESPN 1410. The once shy kid in high school had shocked everyone. Not only was he doing on-air work, he was now also making major decisions that influenced a radio station.
Today, you can hear Kinner on his show ‘Kinner and Schlemmer’ from 3-6 p.m. on ESPN 1410. The balance of covering several teams in the area is a challenge, but Kinner discusses how to appease the masses and still stay relevant, when you’re jammed in between two larger markets.
TM: How does the dynamic of being smack in the middle of Columbus and Cincinnati work? Do the Buckeyes or Bengals get more of your attention?
JK: Let’s not forget the Browns, because somehow, the Browns sneaked their way into this conversation. The one thing I love about doing a show in Dayton is the fact we’re Cincinnati Reds affiliate, we’re a Buckeye affiliate, so we get to talk about more than just one city full of teams.
But Ohio State rules everything around here. We’re in the heart of Buckeye Country. But with that being said, it’s the flavor of the day, whatever the big topic is, obviously with the Ohio State and Urban Meyer investigation, that’s just dominated sports talk around here. But on Monday, we did a show that the Browns and Bengals carried for three hours.
TM: I think most people recognize the Dayton Flyers as a good hoops program that are always in the mix for the NCAA Tournament. Is their football team though ever a big topic of conversation, seeing as you have the NFL and a major college football program so close?
JK: Rick Chamberlain is the Flyers’ head football coach, we have him on every Tuesday. He comes on, but it’s not like it’s a hot button topic. We just like to make sure we massage a lot of the local teams, whether they have a big following or not. But as far as college basketball, UD is as big in this town, basketball wise, as Ohio State football. The Buckeyes still get the nod, but UD basketball is a very close second.
TM: How much does your show change from football to basketball season? Are you full tilt UD hoops as well as everyone else in the conference?
JK: Oh yeah. There’s two D1 teams here in the city. It’s the greatest rivalry never played, at least here for a local topic, Wright State and UD. It’s the biggest rivalry that never comes to fruition on the court, because the argument of, oh, UD is too good to play Wright State, what would be the advantage of even playing them?
We do talk a lot of college basketball, just about how UD is doing, we look at the Atlantic 10, we look at Wright State, but a lot of times, we’re still talking heavy NFL during that time.
TM: What makes the Dayton market unique and something other sports talk radio personalities would be surprised to find out?
JK: To start, the most unique thing about the Dayton market is the fact that we have a lot of strong fan bases from various teams. You could even argue there’s a heavy Steelers fan base in this area, which is crazy. It’s just cool to not be handicapped on talking about one city full of teams. To me, I think that’s helped me as a host, because I’ve been able to rub by elbows with a lot of various topics and different teams. Whereas, if I just had a show in Cincinnati, it would just be about the Reds and Bengals.
Most people would look at a city with no pro sports team or high level power 5 program and think, wow, how boring is that? Dayton does not fit that narrative. I would put Dayton’s basketball fans up against any basketball (Pro or college) fan base in the country. Dayton is the host city for the NCAA First Four tournament, the host city for the ‘Flyin’ To The Hoop’ HS basketball showcase (2nd largest National HS Basketball showcase in the country), & two D1 college basketball programs. Dayton is a very passionate sports city.
TM: If you ever were to leave Dayton, how much do you think it would help you down the road having worked in a city where you’ve had to talk just about every single sport?
JK: I’m not going to say it’s hard to do a show here, it’s definitely not. I think the more topics you have make it easier. But, at the same time, I can’t be a pretend Browns analyst, because if I don’t know my stuff, there’s a heavy fan base that’s listening and going to call me out.
The main teams we talk about are the Bengals, Reds and Buckeyes, but there’s a lot of other fans that trickle in with other teams. If you try to pretend you know the other teams when you don’t, you don’t come across as credible to your listeners. But it does help me. If I sit down in an interview in another city or market, I can say I was able to balance a lot of teams in other various cities, as well as being able to deliver the local teams in the market. I think it’s definitely prepared me for whatever my next job would be.
TM: What do game day weekends look like for your station, seeing as you’re so keyed in on the Buckeyes and Bengals? Do you go to either of the two cities to do pregame shows?
JK: In my mind, just because we talk Buckeyes, Reds and Bengals, that doesn’t mean we have to go to Cincinnati, Columbus or Cleveland for the Browns to make it happen. As many that are in our city, that’s very important to me, in realizing that, okay, they’re not the Dayton Browns or the Dayton Buckeyes but there’s a ton of Ohio State and NFL fans here.
A lot of people that live in Dayton, rather than them having to go to Columbus or Cincinnati to enjoy those experiences, I make sure we do local Buckeye pregame shows at a sports bar. We do watch parties. Former Ohio State Buckeye Keith Byars, who nearly won a Heisman in the 80’s, he does a show with us and we do watch parties with him. The diehard Ohio State fan that lives in Dayton can now experience the thrill of game day, right here.
TM: Tell me about your show.
JK: My co-host has been called an ancient curmudgeon and I’ve been called a clueless millennial. The gap in age has brought two different generations of sports fans together and it definitely provides you with a very entertaining 3 hour show with screaming, laughter, happiness and at times anger.
As a member of the local media always says when calling into the show. “The Knuckle Head factor has just got taken to another level.” It’s a very interactive call in show. Some of our callers have been tagged with nicknames over the years. You will hear names such as “Back Porch”, “Porkchop”, “The Comrade”, “Wrestling Guru”, “The SEC Commissioner” & so on. At times, they are almost like part time characters that add to the fun of the show.
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?”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.