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Never Stop Straining

Brian Noe

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NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

I certainly don’t get all of my NFL predictions right. However, when I get a bold prediction correct, I do enjoy slowly strutting like a proud peacock for all to marvel at my pick prowess. The funny thing is that I haven’t even gotten my bold prediction correct yet that the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles will miss the playoffs this year. I’m certainly on track after the Eagles fell to 4-5 on the season after losing at home to Dallas on Sunday night.

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Let’s just say I encountered a good amount of backlash for my Eagles prediction. “You’re out of your mind, Noe. Do you even watch football? You’re just trying to get some attention, Skip Bayless Jr.” It’s nice to look at those people now and say, “Hey, how ‘bout them Eagles this year, huh?!” Getting a prediction correct is nice, but it doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. What can be applied to your job and life based on the 2018 Eagles matters a whole lot more.

Following the loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz said, “It’s really hard to put your finger on why it is the way it is this year.”

No it isn’t.

Yeah, there are football-centric reasons like the Eagles losing offensive coordinator Frank Reich — now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo — now the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles also didn’t have Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Lane Johnson, or Jalen Mills available against the Cowboys.

That matters, but the Eagles lost many key players last season — most notably Carson Wentz — and still won the Super Bowl. I can also remember Bill Belichick hugging coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel after winning Super Bowl XXXIX, then winning more championships with new assistant coaches. The reasons for Philly’s slide go beyond injured players and the loss of assistants. The Eagles simply don’t have the same hunger to win a championship while going from the hunters to the hunted.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson shared a brilliant observation following his team’s loss on Sunday night. His words can be applied to every sports radio station ever launched. “Starting with myself — all of us — we need to just look at ourselves in the mirror,” Pederson said. “Are we doing enough? Are we giving enough? Each week, it’s a strain. You have to strain yourself to make plays. That’s just the way this game is. We didn’t do enough of that today and that’s the disappointing thing.”

You have to strain yourself to deliver a quality product in sports radio too. There is no limit to the bells and whistles that can be added to a show — a sound bite to spruce up a segment, a unique thought that hasn’t been delivered by anyone before, a general show layout to prevent topics from lingering too long, a great guest that delivers excellent content or entertainment. On and on and on. It all takes effort. It takes drive and “strain” — as Pederson put it — to maintain success.

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There are many people within the business world that reach a certain level of success and think that strain is one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words. Pederson knows that the Cowboys rushing for 171 yards on Sunday while the Eagles only rushed for 71 has a lot to do with effort — doing the dirty work. The Eagles don’t have the same fire and hunger to do the unpleasant things following their success from last season. In business and life, success will be short-lived if you give less effort.

It’s funny. I told my wife, the lovely Christina, about my general idea for this week’s column — that you need to have the same hunger to do great work when you have a job, as you did when you were chasing the gig. Just then she said, “It’s the same thing with relationships.” I thought, “Okay, I definitely should watch some Sex & The City with her, go on a hike together, and let her paint my toenails if that’s ever what she wants to do.” She said it so quickly that I had to do a diagnostic check on my husband-ing.

She’s absolutely right though. We can get comfortable to a fault and go through the motions once we’ve won someone’s heart instead of putting in the same effort that contributed to them feeling that way in the first place. If we show the same effort and passion, it’s less likely that your partner will run like Ezekiel Elliott did against the Eagles into someone else’s arms.

The Eagles are also the team that everybody else is gunning for this year. They’re the hunted instead of the hunters. Former NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth appeared on NFL Network’s “America’s Game.” He talked about the burden the Denver Broncos felt of trying to repeat as champions in the late ‘90s. “I remember after Super Bowl XXXII staying up all night at the party goofing around. I remember going to the party — Super Bowl XXXIII afterwards — having something to eat and going up to my room and going to bed. Exhausted. Absolutely exhausted. That was the difference — defending the crown versus chasing the crown. It’s a task. It’s a monumental task.”

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Think about these two factors for the Eagles this year — the task of remaining on top is even more demanding than getting there in the first place, and the Eagles don’t have the same hunger to strain themselves after winning it all last season. That’s a horrible combination. It’s hard to behave as if you’re starving when you’ve just eaten a seven-course meal, but that’s exactly what needs to happen.

The same idea exists within the business world — especially in sports radio. The person seeking a shift/meal is likely hungrier than the person who currently has one. If you’ve got the gig, you’re eating while the competition is starving. It’s important to figure out a way to stay hungry while you’re eating — to keep grinding as if you don’t have the gig when in actuality, you do.

Van Halen once sang, “Standin’ on top of the world for a little while.” I’ve always thought, “Why just a little while?” It can be a lot longer if you maintain the same hunger to succeed while succeeding. The Philadelphia Eagles are finding out that their competition is hungrier than they are this year. In spite of having all of their talent and potential, they’re a 4-5 football team. The same thing will happen to you if you don’t maintain the same hunger and drive. Strain or wane.

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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