There’s a lot of talented multi-platform professionals in our industry. There’s radio hosts who are also writers, writers who are podcast hosts and even television sportscasters that double as radio personalities.
I respect them all because it’s incredibly difficult to balance any of the two at the same time. But when it comes to being both a TV anchor and a radio host, there’s not another combination in sports media that’s more time consuming. They’re up late at night at the TV station, get home in the wee hours of the morning and then back at it after a few hours of sleep to do a radio show. It’s a grinding lifestyle that will leave you in constant search of a nap.
Jon Sokoloff is one of the many that’s pulling double duty with both radio in TV. Currently based out of Lubbock, Texas, he’s a weekend anchor and reporter at FOX 34 as well as a host three days a week from 9-11 a.m. on 100.7 The Score. A graduate of Ithaca College in upstate New York, he made the jaunt to West Texas on the promise that he would have additional opportunities outside out his TV responsibilities.
“When I got hired at Fox 34 almost two years ago, they told me there would be sports talk opportunities along with my sports reporting and anchoring duties,” Sokoloff said. “I host a show three days a week – Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 9-11 a.m. I did sports talk all throughout college and that was a big part of why I came down here, was because of that.”
Though the workload of being a multi-platform talent can be challenging, there’s always ways to benefit. For Sokoloff, shooting video for the TV station at a press conference, means he can use the info he heard the next day on his radio show. Or, if he’s at a Texas Tech football practice getting B roll for that night’s newscast, he can bring insight the following morning on the air as to how the coaching staff handled their players in preparation for that week’s game.
“It’s that type of perspective that I think the listener values and I can bring that to them,” Sokoloff said. “In basketball, I had to shoot all the Texas Tech basketball games and I made sure to sit right next to Chris Beard’s bench to hear everything he was screaming to his players, as well as the refs. I just want to give as much inside access as possible so I try to be as close to the product as I can.”
Though each requires hours of prep work, talking on a sports radio show compared to a newscast couldn’t be more different. On the TV side, virtually everything is scripted and limited to a 5-10 minute window. In radio, nothing is scripted and it’s basically improv the entire time you’re on the air. Executing a successful newscast and being entertaining on the radio requires different skill sets.
“When you anchor on the weekends, you have to worry about your visual performance when it comes to talking” said Sokoloff. “You’ve got to make sure of certain things, such as not looking awkward with your hands. TV is more of a performance on camera, whereas radio is a different kind of performance. Even though it’s on simulcast you don’t need to worry about how you look as much or doing anything awkward. It’s not scripted, you’re just going a lot more off the cuff. The two intertwine because when you do radio, you might remember a stat or two more than normal because you did an in-depth story on something for TV. Then, your radio prep can help out with your TV broadcasts. Both can really compliment the other.”
Sokoloff’s co-host at 100.7 The Score is Chois Woodman, who hosts The End of the Bench every weekday. Woodman understands how demanding it can be to contribute to both TV and radio, but also loves the opportunity his show gets to have a different perspective throughout the week. Woodman describes his three-day a week co-host as one of the hardest workers he’s ever met and a talent that does an amazing job of balancing both news and sports in the Lubbock market.
“One of the things that impressed me the most with Jon his versatility,” said Woodman. “He does a really good job of being opinionated with an entertaining personality, which is a must in sports talk radio. He does all that while still maintaining a journalistic reporting side for television.”
Though 100.7 The Score is where you’ll most often hear Sokoloff on the radio, it’s not a rarity to also hear him filling in on Double T 97.3, another sports radio station in Lubbock that has the same ownership. In fact, Sokoloff does so whenever he can. Not only are the reps behind the mic valuable to him, but the show prep is only adding to his insight as a TV anchor on the weekends.
“You know, all the prep you have to do, all the facts you look at, all the team history research and everything else that goes into prep, that’s huge,” Sokoloff said. “Once you do all that prep and you write it out on a Google doc or a piece of paper, there’s a lot of times where I use my radio prep on my TV broadcasts to really help with talking points. It’s really beneficial.”
Though nobody will ever mistake “Hub City” for a major media market, there’s probably never been a better time to do sports radio in Lubbock. After a magical run in the NCAA Tournament, Texas Tech advanced all the way to the national championship game for the first time in program history. Then, just a few months later, the Red Raiders advanced to the College World Series in Omaha for the third time in four years. Combine that with a new coaching staff for the football team and you have interest as well as a list of storylines unlike the market has ever seen. Sokoloff has been lucky to be in the middle of all it so early on in his career.
“I’ve been very blessed with everything that’s been going on, in that regard,” Sokoloff said. “You know this, when a team is good they’re a lot more fun to cover. Basketball and baseball were both really good and they were fun to cover. They went deep into their season, which was fun to see and be a part of. Then, football, covering a change in staff and figuring out how to approach that type of coverage in both TV and radio, that’s been big and I’m very fortunate to have been down here for that.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
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.