If someone would have told Jason Anderson how hard the first two years were going to be for him in Louisville, he probably would have just stayed put in Kansas City. If he would have been told about the constant stress, the continuous feeling of being overwhelmed or even the tower problems that led him to being a part-time engineer, there’s no way he would have agreed to take the job to get ESPN Louisville off the ground.
But as fate goes, Anderson left Sports Radio 810 WHB in Kansas City, his dream station, because the company was approached by ESPN to start an affiliate outside the market in Louisville. The start-up station needed a utility man. Someone who could serve as a show host, PD, sales staff, engineer, or anything else a station needs to get started off the ground. So, in 2010, Anderson left Kansas City to head to Louisville for a situation he had no idea he was getting himself in to.
“The challenge was both overwhelming and energizing at the same time,” said Anderson. “I had grown up to listening to WHB my whole life and it was like, if I get hired there, now you’re sort of playing center field for the Yankees. The franchise had already been established. But here, it’s something that can grow and you’re a big part in growing that. There’s a lot of skin in the game.”
Fast forward to present day and Anderson is still serving as both an afternoon show host and PD at ESPN Louisville. Nearly nine years have passed since he took a leap of faith, but he’s forever thankful he did. Even amidst all the stress he endured, he can now smile and say it was all worth it. His work day may not be a strenuous as it was during the first year, but solo hosting a three-hour show and programming an extremely successful signal definitely comes with its daily challenges. Most notably, how are you supposed to show prep an afternoon drive show from 3-6 p.m. when you’re consumed with other tasks all day?
“When I get to the office, the first thing I do is go through the entire list of things that need to get done that day,” said Anderson. “So on one side of my planner will be all the things as a PD that I have to get done. While I’m doing those things, just like others in radio, my mind is always thinking about the show. If I’m looking or reading something, I’m always trying to think how I can relate that back to a local topic. On the right side of my planner with be show topics, show ideas, or even things I hear on the air at our station that I think are interesting points, but one that I might disagree with.
“As the day goes on, the list keeps growing and growing. As most PD’s know you can write 10 things you have to get done during the day, but by the time noon rolls around you probably have four other things you weren’t planning on. It’s trying to do two things at once. I’m doing all my PD stuff while always thinking about the show. Around 12:30-1:00 is when I really start to hone in on the show.”
There’s a lot of people in the business that, just like Anderson, have the duties of both a show host and a PD. Not only is it challenging, but you really have to understand how to balance your time throughout the day. That includes finding ways to sharpen your craft. As show hosts, we probably take for granted the opportunities we have with our PD’s for regular air checks as well as tips to improve ourselves. If you’re like Anderson, or the many other people that serve both the host and PD role, improving may have to come through a more unconventional way.
“We do a thing from 6-7 p.m. every weekday called The Bonus Hour,” said Anderson. “We take some of the best content of the day and throw it into one hour. While I’m done at 6:00, others might work a little bit later but can still hear our best stuff from the day while they’re driving home. Sometimes that might mean there’s something in there from my first hour. That gives me an opportunity to listen, therefore I don’t have go and listen that night to something else. A couple of times a week I’ll even just go back and listen to a certain hour.
“I’ll just listen back to things to see what I’m sounding like. I want to see if it’s something I would want to listen to if I’m driving around in my car. Is it entertaining? Did I stretch out a topic too far? Have I tried to make a topic out of something that was just a note or a nugget? For me, it’s just all about listening back. I’ll even listen to interviews to see if I talked too much or even interrupted the guest. Or maybe even if I missed a follow up that should have been asked. Those are the things I really try to pay attention to and critique myself with.”
Though he’s paid to make adjustments and decisions based on what he’s hearing on the air, Anderson still realizes his own opinion of his show can’t be enough. That is, not if he wants to continue to grow as a 39 year-old show host. So there have to be people in the business he trusts to lend an ear to his work.
“You know, I don’t do that enough, I’ll be honest with you,” said Anderson. “I need to do that a lot more. Scott Masteller is a guy that’s been in town a couple of times and certainly somebody that’s always available. I know there’s people at the station that had a relationship with Scott.
“Soren Petro, the mid-day host at our parent company, Sports Radio 810 in Kansas City, I’ll reach out to him and talk radio, life, the company, just general conversation. I try to reach out to him as much as I can. Not nearly enough of ‘hey man, let me send this your way and tell me what you think.’ I’m always cognizant of that because he’s busy and has a family. But I do need to do that more, rather than just say, here’s what I hear and this is what I would think if I was a radio listener, therefore, this is what I can improve on, as supposed to someone else who does it for a living.”
Just like everyone else who’s pulling the show host/PD responsibility, Anderson has his daily routine that works. But it’s interesting to debate which time slot would be easiest for someone filling both roles. Each have their own draws and setbacks, but which would work best?
“I’ve actually thought about that and gone back-and-forth,” said Anderson. “Right now I’m able to get a lot of stuff done in the mornings and be at meetings. I think for me, being a show host, I like the fact it’s in the afternoon because it requires me to continue to pay attention to things that are going on while doing the PD side of it. I feel like if I did the morning show, I’d get off the air and focus on the PD side while not really being engaged with show topics throughout the day. I could do all that at night, but by the time I get home, it’s time to eat, then it’s bedtime for the kids, all that stuff, then I’m going to bed for the morning show. So when would I find time to show prep? I would worry I’d be winging it too much if I did a morning show compared to an afternoon show.”
Though we’ve mainly laid out the challenges that come with being both a host and PD, believe it or not, but there’s actually advantages that come with the territory. For one, you get to be in a management position while still realizing your dream of being on the air. Plus, let’s not kid ourselves, it probably helps out the wallet, too. In terms of daily activity at the station, it can really make things easier for the sales staff. Instead of having to diffuse a situation between a host and a member of the sales staff, odds are more likely things are going to happen without conflict.
“I think it makes it a little easier on both sides,” said Anderson. “If the on-air staff comes to me with a complaint, I’m in the sales meetings, I’m interacting with them and I know what’s going on with the issue. Then, I can try to solve whatever the issue is. I’m at the front of station a lot so I think it makes it easier for the sales staff to come to me if they have an issue with something that’s not getting done.”
Anderson has been in this role for nearly nine years. He’s seen just about everything that can be thrown his way as a host/PD. So naturally, he has some pretty good advice on how to deal with the tense situations that often rise. And that’s exactly his message to the person that has just become both a host and a PD at a station.
“I got discouraged early on and it felt like I was running at times,” said Anderson. “If it’s at the beginning and you’re feeling overwhelmed, what I try to do is just focus on what I have to get done today. Just stay the course and trust in your abilities. I just had to keep telling myself there was a reason they had me come down here. They’re not going to send me down here just to let things fail. I keep reminding myself of that. Just be confident, trust your abilities and know you’re the right person for the job.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!
“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”
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!
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.”
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?
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?
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.
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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