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What Is Twitter’s Role In Breaking News?

“I think that’s something that all radio people are faced with these days, is trying to find the balance of getting the story out there as quickly as possible but also trying do to the radio side, too.”

Tyler McComas

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We’re witnessing the craziest free agency period the NBA has ever seen. KD and Kyrie to Brooklyn, Kawhi and Paul George to the Clippers and we’re still waiting to see if and where Russell Westbrook is going to be traded. The past two weeks have been absolute insanity and, pardon my pun, a slam dunk for the NBA.

To prove that, all you’ve had to do is check Twitter to see the frenzy everyone goes into after a Woj Bomb is dropped. NBA content has been readily available, which has created a dream scenario for hosts trying to come up with quality show material during the summer months. It’s no surprise that so many stations have put a lot of emphasis into NBA free agency coverage. 

“We’ve put a ton into it,” said Ryan Rothstein of 97.3 ESPN FM in Atlantic City. “It’s wrote the entire show for weeks. Especially with us covering the 76ers and the buzz surrounding them. It’s really been driving our four-hour afternoon show. The Phillies talk has taken a back seat from the day free agency started, to even all the speculations before the official day happened. You can tell the demand was there for us to talk it as much as we did.”

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There’s not an argument to dispute the popularity of NBA Free Agency. It’s all over social media, especially from other show hosts across the country I follow, who are constantly giving their opinions on the latest moves. And that brings me to a question I’ve had for a long time: How much of my opinion should I put on Twitter, versus holding it back for my show?

I can see both sides of the equation. For one, it’s nice to have followers and a gaining popularity on Twitter. There’s definitely a ton of ways to benefit from that. But on the other hand, Twitter isn’t paying any of our salaries to share our opinions. The stations we work for are. So where’s the balance? Is there such a thing as revealing too much on Twitter before a show? 

“Absolutely not,” said Rothstein. “No way. We have this great thing right at our fingertips. It’s a positive. Every sports talk radio host should be looking at Twitter as their side or even full-time job. It’s a way to get your name, brand and station out there. It’s a glimpse into your mind.”

Along with being a host at ESPN 102.5 The Game in Nashville, Chase McCabe is also a team reporter for the Predators. He’s been locked into everything NHL free agency has had to offer this summer. But whereas everyone defers to Woj for breaking news in the NBA, McCabe says the NHL has at least four guys that lead the coverage around the league. There’s Darren Drager and Bob McKenzie of TSN, Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic and Elliotte Friedman of Sports Net Canada. All four are considered the best in NHL coverage and he’s had to monitor the feed of each one to stay up to the second with the latest news. But much like every other show host, McCabe had to decide what to put on Twitter and what to hold back for the radio station.  

“It’s hard for someone like me, because I’m a host as well as team reporter,” said McCabe. “I kind of have to battle both. If I get some information, I obviously want to take that to the air first, but Twitter is such an instant source now, that I notice when a lot of people get information they’re going to Twitter and then they go to the air. It’s a balance figuring out exactly how I should handle that.

There’s ratings and revenue, that’s what you’re trying to get from the radio side. Then there’s the responsibility of getting the story right and providing good information for your audience. Twitter is the more instant way to do that, especially if I’m not on the air at the time, but at the same time, my paid gig is talking into a microphone. I think that’s something all radio people are faced with these days, is trying to find the balance of getting the story out as quickly as possible but also trying to make listening on the radio important too.”

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What Woj is doing right now with breaking news is incredible. Rothstein went as far to say that 90 percent of the NBA free agency news he gets is coming from Woj’s Twitter page. That number may still be conservative and I’d argue that his coverage of the NBA has made him into the biggest sports media star in the country. He’s done so by having the most relevant Twitter page out of anyone that covers sports for a living.

Sure, Adrian makes live appearances on ESPN and expands on previous reports, but the guy puts nearly all of his information on Twitter and we’re left refreshing all day to see what bomb is going to drop next. 

But Woj’s success brings me to another social media related question with show hosts: Let’s say you have the scoop on a big story that’s extremely relevant. Do you sit on the news until you’re on the air or break it right away on Twitter? 

“100 percent I’d go to Twitter first,” Rothstein said. “That’s how you’re going to make your money if you’re a host. If you’re in this industry you have to figure how to get the demand and traction on your page. If you have a special piece of information that you think nobody else has, it’s important for you to get it out there with the time stamp underneath the tweet. 

That promotes your show, which is a good thing. Twitter is a great tool for this industry. If you break something big with a tweet, you have people that are saying, well, who’s Ryan from 97.3? Let me look him up, who is this guy? Oh, he’s on the afternoon show with Mike Gill in South Jersey? Oh, I can download the app and listen to him? It’s all positive. Twitter is a huge positive for driving listening to sports talk radio.”

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“It depends,” added McCabe. “If I’m on the air, then yes. But if it’s a time I’m not on, I might try to walk into the studio and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got something big, can we break in with it? If it’s 7:00 at night and I’m not in studio, I’m putting it on Twitter. If it’s in the middle of the day and I’m at the station I can jump in and get on the air and break it.”

Legitimately, I can see both sides of the discussion. In reality, there may not be a wrong answer. It could all depend on the situation you’re in and what you’re trying to accomplish. 

But Rothstein is right in his approach to social media as a host, which is to leave no stone unturned. Especially if you’re at a station that’s working with disadvantages. 

“I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface on how we can fully take advantage of it,” Rothstein said. ”We’re starting to live stream our segments on Twitter. That’s a way to get your show out there, because the signal at our station only goes so far. Literally, you could listen to our show in Hong Kong. That’s a way to drastically grow your station’s brand. 

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I think you need to pursue every single social media outlet that you can. If you’re ranking them, you know we love our power rankings, I would say Twitter is No. 1. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the others. We’re trying to figure out how to really use Twitter, well, times that by two with Instagram. It seems to skew to a younger demographic, but also one that’s important.”

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Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Demetri Ravanos

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ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

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Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

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