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Maggie Gray Didn’t Know She’d Be Here

“The biggest challenge is the limited amount of time, because there is so much to cover and so much that we want say.”

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13 months ago, sports radio in New York underwent its biggest change in 30 years as Mike Francesa departed WFAN’s afternoon drive.  Three voices were tabbed to take over, Chris Carlin, Bart Scott and Maggie Gray.

From WFAN’s new trio, Gray was considered by many to be the most surprising selection.  While her credentials were strong, Gray’s resume didn’t contain Carlin’s WFAN history or Bart’s signature New York sports moment.  In an industry where not enough women have prominent weekday hosting positions, Gray is doing it at the top station in the biggest market.

It wasn’t long before Francesa canceled his retirement and returned to WFAN, chopping CMB’s show in half and squeezing them into the midday.  After dealing with plenty of criticism and turmoil early, CMB is starting to hit its stride and the two-hour show leaves listeners wanting more.

As she continues to grow in the country’s toughest media market, Maggie Gray’s unfinished story is already an interesting one.

Brandon Contes: Sports Illustrated was your first full-time sports media job?

Maggie Gray: Yeah, it was, which is both funny and telling about the business that I basically got my very first sports internship when I was a senior in high school, but it took going through college and basically the next five years after college before I got a full-time job.

That’s the nitty-gritty nature of the business, because if you start off as freelance – you’re never sure what’s going to happen, season-to-season you’re just trying to make connections, get better and keep moving.  I call them lily pads, you’re trying to get across, navigate this lake and you’re going from one lily pad to the next trying to get across. Now that I’m a little bit older and wiser, I realize you actually never make it across, the lily pads just hopefully keep getting bigger.

But getting SI was a huge deal for me because it was the first time I had a full-time gig and it was the first time where I thought, this is something that is a possibility to really grow, because they hired me for a position that I had never heard of, that a lot of people had never heard of, to be a digital anchor – What does that even mean?

It’s not a job that was around when I was in college, I didn’t even know I could aspire to a job like that, but to get it in a place that had the name recognition and prestige of SI, while also doing something that’s cutting edge and totally new, and have the feeling like you created it from scratch, was one of the most unbelievable opportunities, and the people there were so incredible.

BC: That was a digital show and you were on camera, was it daily?

MG: It didn’t start as a daily show, it started as just one-off videos.  We would call SI writers and they would say, “Who are you, who is this, why are you calling, what is SI video?” [Laughs]

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It was establishing relationships and we would do these one-off things that started to grow.  It would become a live March Madness Selection Show and we had a relationship at CNN for the first couple of years where we would use their studios to shoot these sort of roundtable discussions.  It started to grow and then finally I had some really smart people around me and they said, ‘We think we can sell a daily variety show, that’s digital.’  The show was built as a half hour show that streamed and it was some news of the day, interviews, crazy stuff, serious stuff. It was just a fun show and it was sponsored from the first day to the very last day, and it’s actually still going on now.

BC: Were you there with Robin Lundberg?

MG:  That’s an interesting story because the show started five years ago, I was the host and we had nobody to fill in for me.  Even when I got married and went on my honeymoon it was a big deal. One time we were out in L.A. doing the show from Angel Stadium and I got horribly sick on the red-eye home, I went in and did the show the next day and then went home and died.  For the next four days it was a mad scramble because there were no backup hosts. They didn’t have a lot of video people at SI because it’s a magazine company.

Years later, after ESPN had their big layoffs, I had been listening to Robin for a while and I sent him an email to see if he wanted to come help with the show and he’s still there now.  I’m grateful to him because it made us not so reliant on needing a guest for everything, Robin and I could just talk about it, have that banter and be a little more sports radio-like.

BC: Was radio the goal at that point or was it just to work in any sports media platform?

MG: My first ever sports internship, where I realized I was bit by the sports broadcasting bug, was my senior year in high school.  I grew up in Binghamton, there was a minor league hockey team and I asked if I could be an intern even though they only gave internships to college kids, but they said the radio broadcaster needs someone to help out with stats on home games.  I sat next to the radio play-by-play guy for an entire season helping him with whatever he needed. The last game of the season, he let me come on-air and read the out-of-town scoreboard, which was probably only a minute, but I got a huge adrenaline rush from it.  I don’t know how many people were listening, it didn’t matter, I loved that rush. So when I went to George Washington University, I walked into the radio station my first day on campus and said, ‘Can I be a part of what you guys are doing?’, so I was always interested in radio.

BC: When was the first time you were on WFAN? You did updates early on?

MG: I did do updates which is a small part of having a connection with FAN that goes back really far.  I was still putting together a freelance life. I was working at MSG – Ironically – MSG was actually the first to put me on air in New York and I’m forever grateful for my opportunity to work for them.  I was at MSG and MLB.com, but I wanted the FAN.

In Binghamton we didn’t get FAN, so I didn’t grow up with it, but when I got an internship at Westwood One in DC, I got to realize what a huge deal WFAN is.  The other funny connection is one of my jobs as an intern in DC was to cut and edit this thing called Sports Time with Mike Francesa.  It was almost like what the CBS Sports Minute is now and it went out to all the Westwood One radio stations throughout the country.

After college, I decided to come to New York and work behind the scenes for the NBA, but when I realized I wanted to be on camera and I wasn’t going to let the dream die, I knew I had to get the Fan.  How do you say you want to be a sports broadcaster in New York and not take a turn at WFAN?

I did an update audition when WFAN was still in Astoria.  Actually, I did about five auditions. It wasn’t an easy job to get, I didn’t walk through the door and get a job, it took a while, but I finally got midnight – 6am working Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s eve, the trifecta.

BC: How was the transition of doing a half hour daily show with SI and jumping to four hours a day on radio?

MG: Well I had done radio shows before getting this job.  CBS Sports Radio launched in 2013 and I auditioned for Dana Jacobson’s role with Tiki and Tierney when they did the morning show.  Dana got it, which she’s amazing so I totally understood that, but then they had a Saturday morning spot open and the Moose and Maggie Show was born, me and Marc Malusis.

I didn’t know Moose very well, we met maybe once or twice, but we had instant chemistry.  I was still working at SI during the week where I was asking other people for their opinions and just facilitating conversations about sports with all these really smart people.  But then on Saturday morning, it was people asking me what I thought about topics and that was the biggest thrill.

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There’s no way I could have this job if I didn’t do that show with Moose for five years.  He’s so great at radio and he taught me that you need to bring strong opinions, formulate an argument and back it up.  In the beginning, we would argue and I would sometimes back down, but I started to find my voice and realize as long as I’m prepared, have facts and can defend my argument, it’s valid.  I was so grateful to him for that. I also started to learn to get thick skin.

At SI, you wouldn’t get huge amounts of criticism, it wasn’t that kind of job. Radio is the intimate medium with callers, listeners and people on social media, so it helped me get thicker skin and realize there are some things you should ignore.

BC: This is obviously a very white male dominated industry, Suzyn Waldman was here hosting middays in the early 2000’s, so there was precedent, but you look around the country and go from sports radio station to sports radio station – there are female reporters and update anchors, but there are very, very few women that are part of a daily radio show.  Did you find those opportunities hard to come by?

MG: I don’t know if I can say.  I wasn’t looking for the opportunity, the Moose and Maggie Show came to me and this opportunity came to me.  I got an email from Mark Chernoff that said I need to talk to you today.  My entire life changed within a couple of weeks and it’s been unreal. I think there is a part of you when you’re trying to break into a portion of the industry that you don’t see a lot of people who look like you, there is one part about getting the job and then the other part about keeping the job.

Everyone says you got the dream job, but now what’s the reality of that dream job, what’s the work like and what does it really look like to have your dream job?  And for me, it’s better than I could have ever imagined.

Now, I just hope that, not just here, but all around the country the people who are doing the hiring are willing to step out and take the risk, take the risk of hiring someone who is bringing a different point of view because ultimately, there are great women out there doing this, they just need to get a chance, just like Mark Chernoff gave me a chance.

BC: Not only a chance, but you grew up in Binghamton, you didn’t look at sports radio as a viable career option.  I’m sure there are other women growing up that see the industry as male dominated and the thought of hosting a sports radio show never even crossed their mind.  But now they see you with this prominent job in sports radio and maybe it will inspire others and they can now look at the industry as one that could have job opportunities for them.

MG: I know that seeing other women do it before me, inspired me and I do think it’s really important because as soon as you see someone doing it, you can start to envision the path for yourself.

What I would say for anyone who is a young woman or even a young man and anyone trying to get into the business, this landscape is changing so much.  Sports talk radio is this solid rock, it’s going to be here through thick and thin, but think of how the industry is changing. There are just so many more outlets to break into sports broadcasting now, it’s fantastic.  

When I was coming out of college in 2005 – and this is 2005, I’m not talking about the 80s and 90s – the 6 o’clock SportsCenter and the 11 o’clock SportsCenter was still the ultimate goal for a lot of people.  Now look at all of the outlets and other ways you can be around the sports industry, it’s incredible.  

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You can start your own YouTube channel and have your own brand by the time you get out of college. It’s really freeing and I think that will help get a lot more women, hopefully people of color and get more diversity into this industry.

BC: It’s similar to the NFL right now where there are so few people of color with head coaching positions.  It’s white male dominated and a lot of that is because for the last 30 or 40 years, it was white males that had opportunities to make connections.

That’s not to say Sean McVay was not qualified to be a head coach at the age of 30, but when for 30, 40 years, it was the same demographic working in the industry, he had more built-in connections to move through the ranks quickly.  So even though those opportunities that are now available for anyone to break into sports media exist, you still need to create pipelines to help non-white males move up and climb within the industry at an equal pace.

MG: And that’s why I’ll go back to –  It shouldn’t be looked at as taking this massive risk to hire a woman, or to hire a person of color, it should be looked at as can the person do the job and especially in this particular industry is the person going to bring a different point of view, that maybe listeners haven’t heard in a while.  Is it going to be thought-provoking, is it going to stir conversation? And I’m not saying it has to be controversial, just saying it has to be a different point of view and I think it actually opens up the scope of listeners.

With the NFL, everyone is a fan.  From an eight year old to an eighty year old, everyone has a fantasy team.  Men, women, every race, and what are they always trying to do? Find new markets.  This is why they play in Mexico City and London. You’re always trying to find new audiences, I don’t think you can ever be complacent, even if you’re number one.

You’re always trying to broaden your horizons and that’s something, especially for our show that we have really tried to do.  Be loyal and serve the listener of the FAN who has been there for 30 years, but also open up the door for someone who never thought FAN could be for them and welcome them into the conversation as well.

BC: You said early on with Moose, you would back down with your opinions at times, did you ever find yourself needing to have a stronger opinion about something to fit in and seem more credible, especially at WFAN with the local audience?

MG: No…

If it’s not genuine, it’s going to come through as not genuine.  I can’t fake that.

One of the big things I learned when I came over from SI, going from a national outlet to a local one is, with national, it’s about the issues because you need someone who’s in Baltimore, Arkansas, Las Vegas, L.A. to all be connected and have an opinion.  Here, it’s about the X’s and O’s, it’s about the minutia. It’s about the Adam Gase press conference. You can’t get too specific or granular here and I found that I love that more than I ever thought I would.

But if I don’t think that something is a big deal, or if I think that it’s getting taken to a place that is absurd, I’ll say that too. You have to be honest.  Radio is the most honest of the mediums. One piece of advice that I got early on and something I’ve been really grateful for, was Mike Quick who was my boss at MSG and he said, ‘We need more Maggie.’  I thought, really? Are you sure you don’t want more Andrea Kremer? But that was really freeing. You can bring your personality and this is such a subjective business, you’re either someone’s taste, or you’re not.  I think the more you let people in on who you actually are, the deeper the connection becomes, and I’m okay sharing a lot with our listeners because I like that having that connection with them.

BC: And that’s how you end up on the floor eating an entire pizza…

MG: [Laughs] On the floor…puking in the Mike Francesa studios…

BC: [Laughs] I was locked into that show because I thought there was no chance you were finishing that pizza.

MG: So many people doubted me that day.  I’ll be honest, the doubters did put a big chip on my shoulder.  There was a moment where Bart was showing me inspirational videos on his laptop and it was working – we actually crossed that threshold where he’s showing me old Nike commercials, and it was helping me get the pizza down.

BC: Did you know Chris or Bart before getting paired up with them?

MG: Chris and I did a couple episodes of LoudMouths together on SNY, but we didn’t know each other that well.  I knew of him and what a great reputation he had, I didn’t know Bart at all.  I didn’t really have a relationship with either of them, but now I feel like they’re my best friends.

We just had the one year anniversary of the show this month.  It doesn’t feel like a long amount of time, but I feel closer to Bart and Chris than anybody.  We’ve really developed a great bond over this last year.

BC: How was the pressure of stepping in for Mike? Obviously it’s an incredible opportunity that couldn’t be passed up, but was there ever that moment of, I’d rather replace the replacement of the icon than replace the icon himself?

MG: You’d be surprised how many people, unsolicited, said, ‘Boy, you don’t wanna be the person to follow the guy.’  That was encouraging! [Laughs]  The pressure is what you make of it.  If you want to feel that pressure, that insane amount of pressure of following up someone, then it will destroy you.

It’s almost like being mentally tough.  You have to take it for what it is, but then realize what the main goal is – to build a new show from scratch and to find your audience.  There’s nothing I can do about who I’m following, or when I’m getting the opportunity. The opportunity is presenting itself and there was no way that I was going to pass it up just because of that.  The fear of that, like many things, the fear and anticipation is much worse than the reality.

BC: It was interesting from the start because you have three very different personalities getting paired up and thrown into the fire and you guys didn’t really do many practice shows.

MG: No, they didn’t want to do a lot of practice shows and I agreed with that, there’s something different about when it’s for real and when it’s taped so I understood why they wanted to do that.

BC: It almost would have been easier with the transition to just focus on being a call-oriented show, a similar sound to what listeners are used to, but you guys added a lot of creative segments as well.

MG: Yeah, we do still take a lot of calls.  The calls are part of the FAN. The interaction with the listeners is one of the backbones of what makes this place go and there was never a thought that we didn’t want to include them in the conversation.  They’re always welcome and we always want to know what they have to say because they’re part of the radio station.

The creative segments are more of a natural thing.  We thought, what kind of show do we want to do, what makes us, us?  We were just figuring that out with trial and error and now I think we’re maybe starting to find our grove a little bit in terms of how much of that creative style to do, the silly stuff, the BS translator and those things.  It’s about sensing what the audience really wants and balancing that with what we want to do.

BC: Is it hard now that the show is compressed to two hours that you have the three different personalities, three different opinions and you have those radio bits that you want to try, but you need to squeeze it into two hours and make it a cohesive sounding show?

MG: The biggest challenge is the limited amount of time, because there is so much to cover and so much that we want say.  The show now is just a sprint from beginning to end, it’s really fast moving and also the news cycle is so fast moving that if we don’t get to something on Monday or Tuesday, by the time it’s Wednesday, forget it because it might not make sense with what people are actually talking about anymore.  It’s been a challenge, but it’s not insurmountable. I hate when athletes say this phrase – but it is what it is, so we just make the best of it.

BC: Cross talk segments are becoming very popular on radio stations around the country, you can do 12:30 to 1:00 with Benigno and Roberts and then 3:00 to 3:30 with Mike and now you have three hours.

MG: [Laughs] That would be something, pitch it to Chernoff.

BC: Do you ever go back and listen to old shows?

MG: Oh yeah, definitely, it’s hard because self-evaluation is one of the toughest things to do.

It can be brutal especially when you make mistakes, or things don’t come out the way that you want to, but it’s also necessary.  You have to go back and listen because you could be making the same small mistake over and over and over again when there’s no reason to because things can get nipped in the bud so easily.  But you have to go back and listen.

BC: I’m sure if you go back and listen to a year ago and then you hear what you’re putting on the radio now –

MG: Oh I don’t go back that far. [Laughs]

BC: But that comfort level between the three of you has increased significantly?

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MG: Without a doubt.  We didn’t know each other very well and a few months into getting the job, we got thrown a pretty big curveball and you can learn more about people when you go through a little bit of adversity and you get to find out what people’s true colors are.  With Carlin, Bart and I, we seem like we have all these very different opinions or that we wouldn’t be three friends who would meet up at a bar and watch a game together, but once we went through that adversity, we realized that we gained strength from each other, we can lean on each other and we saw each other’s true colors.  That was incredible because when people get peeled away you see their true self and we all really liked what we saw in each other during that time. It made us trust each other a lot and it brought us really close.

BC: I don’t know if you felt this at all, but I’m sure with three people trying to get to know each other, it can be harder than when it’s just two people. The show went through Mike coming back and then the summer was right around the corner, so now you’re filling in for Mike, but you’re also taking vacations yourselves.  So it’s two at a time; it’s Maggie and Bart for four hours, Bart and Chris for four hours, Maggie and Chris for four hours.

As a listener, I felt that when the three of you would come back together over the summer as a full show, each time it was noticeably improved, so you were able to build chemistry by each getting that one on one time together.

MG: That’s a really good point that I hadn’t thought about, but it’s true, the three of us have a relationship, and then I feel like I have a friendship with Bart and I have a friendship with Carlin and they are both different relationships.  Even when Carlin is out, I’m kind of driving the bus versus when I’m not so that changes your role a little bit, but you’re right, I didn’t really think about that, but we did have a chance to build relationships, one-on-one, but I do think that our show is at its best, no matter what, hands down, when it’s the three of us.

I think that that might be surprising to a lot of people, inside and outside the building, that the show sounds better with the three of us because that was one of the big question marks about the show when we first got it – Does three people work?  And I think our show has proven that it can.

BC: There were also times early on that any kind of debate segments would sound like a roundtable discussion.  It’s Carlin setting up the topic and saying, ‘Maggie what do you think’ and ‘Bart what do you think’, followed by ‘here’s what I think’, next topic.

MG: We don’t take turns as much anymore

BC: Right.  Last Wednesday, I was listening to the open when Carlin was going all in on Mike McCarthy as the Jets head coach while you and Bart were pushing back, but I thought that was the best segment of radio I heard all week on any show or station.  

So how about the ability to improve so much with debate where it doesn’t sound like you’re each trying to avoid stepping on anyone? You’re able to have a more genuine conversation and sometimes know when to step back if two of the hosts are hotter on a topic than the other is.

MG: Thank you, that’s something also that goes on in the pre-production.  Because we’re in New York, there are some days where the show writes itself.  The topic is exactly what the topic is, it’s what everyone’s talking about and the obvious thing that needs to be addressed because people are tuning into the radio station for that discussion.

But then there are times when there are multiple options and you’re not sure what your lead is going to be.  That’s why we sit here for an hour and we talk it out. The things that we naturally seem to have different opinions on or sparks the most conversation in this room, with our producer, board-op and the three of us, that’s what we go with and that’s what should break the tie every single time.  Don’t outthink yourself. If we all have different opinions on something, let’s start with that because it’s going be genuine.

BC: What about the producer change, going from Brian Monzo the first couple of months to now Shaun Morash.

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MG: Yeah, those kinds of things happen and you just have to roll with the punches. We’re so happy that it worked out the way that it did and I think Mike is happy and Monzo is happy it worked out the way it did.  It’s like a good trade in baseball or football, where both sides actually won here. That was seamless and very easy to navigate.

BC: Morash seems to fit the show so well with his contributions.

MG: One thing that we really appreciate with Morash is that he is our listener.  It’s like we have a focus group in the room. I mean, he’s got a giant tattoo, he’s on the message boards, he’s a die-hard Yankee fan.  We needed that person who not only is professional in this business, but someone who could make himself a little bit removed from that and say I’m the FAN listener in the car today, what do I want?  And we needed that, because I’m coming from a journalism background, Bart’s coming in as the athlete and Carlin’s coming from doing this for a long time, being a host and everything that he’s done, it’s great to have that person who is just like you know what, all things being equal, I want to talk Yankees today and we take that into consideration heavily.

BC: What radio shows did you listen to growing up?

MG: I didn’t grow up with a lot of radio being in Binghamton the days before Satellite, but when I got to New York, I actually listened to a lot of Jim Rome.  He used to be on in New York and I still listen to Rome. We’re on at the same time, which is crazy, the fact that I’ve gotten to meet Jim Rome a couple of times is a thrill for me.  I listened to a lot of FAN, I started listening to Shmooze because that’s when I happened to be in the car the most and NO ONE can do what he’s doing, it’s unbelievable. And I would listen to a lot of Boomer and Carton.

I also listened to Mike and Mike.  It helped me with doing the national show at SI to understand what the national conversation is.  Dan Le Batard, I think everyone can agree he is probably doing it as best as it can be done right now, and then podcasts.  

I listen to a lot of podcasts; SI’s podcasts, Peter King’s podcast, I listen to the Lowe Post Podcast and Bill Simmons.  Also a lot of NPR, Fresh Air, Wait…Wait Don’t Tell Me!  I listen to all of those shows because it’s as important to me to understand the front pages, as the back pages.  You have to be a well-rounded person and aware of what goes on in the world because you never know when it’s going to intersect and it can happen in any moment.  

I was reading the quote from Adam Gase where he said, ‘I’m not on Twitter, I’m not on Instagram, I don’t use the internet.’ [Laughs]

That’s impressive!  You don’t even use the internet, how did you find out what the weather was going to be today?  A football coach mentality is not a good mentality for someone in the media business. You have to understand the world around you.

BC: How did you end up working with Artie Lange?  Were you a Stern fan?

MG: Oh my gosh – Artie – I loved doing that.

I wasn’t a big Stern fan, we didn’t really get him on the radio up in Binghamton, but I would actually watch him when he was on the E! Network, while I was probably in middle school, so I knew his show, but I didn’t grow up a huge fan.  

I met Artie because he was doing a book tour and he came in to SI.  Peter King happened to be there that day and I asked Peter to sit in on SI Now.  So it was the three of us and we had this fun conversation and a good rapport, so Artie started to invite me on his show.  It was amazing that no matter what state Artie was in, because obviously he’s had his battles and I hope he’s well, I follow him on Twitter and send him notes to wish him well, but he was always the funniest guy in the room no matter what.  Literally – at one point we were on air, he fell asleep, woke up and said the funniest thing of the entire three hour show. He’s absolutely hilarious and everyone on that show was great to work with. Just getting to know him was great and I appreciated Artie because he said to me, ‘I see what you are, you don’t feel like you have to be this macho person who’s in the frat house to do this.’

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BC: I’m a big Stern fan, I go back and listen to older shows of his and content from the cast.  I stumbled on you with Artie and I did think it brought a lot of great balance and was really entertaining.

MG: Thank you, they decided to end the show, otherwise I would’ve kept doing it because he is hilarious and a really kind-hearted person, but it was a lot of fun and now I do LoudMouths with Jon Hein on SNY.  Jon is a great guy and it’s fun to do the show with him.  SNY has been a nice little side thing to do.

BC: Do you expect CMB to be a long-lasting show and relationship or do you take it day by day and not even look towards the future right now, especially with the curveballs that you guys have already been thrown.

MG: I hope it’s a long lasting show. This is the best job I’ve ever had, I love this job, and Carlin and Bart have been the best part about it.

I think there’s even so much more that we have to do.  Our end goal of what we want the show to sound like, we’re still trying to get there.  I love it and I hope I can do it forever. I understand why this is a dream job, because it is that good.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

BSM Writers

Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call

“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”

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I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.

The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.

OKC Radio Host Sam Mayes Fired After Racist Audio is Leaked

Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.

Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.

We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.

I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.

You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.

People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.

How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.

All About the Lucky Star Casino in El Reno, Concho
Courtesy: TripAdvisor/Adam Knapp

Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.

If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.

In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.

Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.

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What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.

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BSM Writers

Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!

“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”

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Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?

Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.

To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:

#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?

#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?

#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?

If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!

Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.

Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:

#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.

#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.

#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.

#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.

#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.

Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!

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Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas

“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”

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Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?

Chevy Chase, aka Clark Griswold, to light up stage in Berks | Berks  Regional News | wfmz.com
Courtesy: Warner Bros./National Lampoon

Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!

One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.

Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.

There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.

Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.

I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.

Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.

It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?

25 Best Christmas Inflatables - Top Inflatable Christmas Decorations

Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.

If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.

Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.

A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.

“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.

We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.

Kevin Anderson on Twitter: "Just noticed that I've been blocked by the  international civil aviation authority @icao Have others working on  aviation emissions also been blocked? Appears to be that their commitment

As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.

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