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The Joys And Challenges Of Talking Sports At Night

“. The topics that we’re discussing have already been brushed through 5 to 6 times by the previous shows.”

Tyler McComas

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I’ve always had a fascination of wanting to try and host a show during the late evening hours. There’s just a different feel behind the mic compared to the other shifts during the day. It’s more relaxed, you can be a little bit more aggressive with your topics and how you present them, the callers are a complete wildcard, anything and everything can happen during those hours which really creates a unique and fun environment.

You should have a deep appreciation for the guys that are able to entertain so many people in the late hours of the night. It’s no easy task to sit with no co-host, talk about the same topics that have been discussed for the past 12 hours, bring an energy that will keep the listener both engaged and awake, while still delivering an entertaining show with few guests. 

But as Mike North told Jonas Knox when he was set to host his first ever weekend overnight show: “Jonas, stay focused and f*cking fire away, baby.” 

That’s about as solid of advice as you can get. 

Jonas Knox – Fox Sports Radio – Friday: 11pm-3am – Saturday 1-5pm – Sunday 5-8 pm – Pacific Time

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Tyler McComas: You always want to bring energy to the show, but seeing as you’re on late Friday nights, do you want to bring even more energy during that time slot? 

Knox: Oh I think about it every single time the light goes on. I learned a long time ago from Andy Furman and Mike North that it’s all about energy. Guys like that, who have been around for as long as they have, you’d be hard-pressed to find two hosts who bring more energy. Energy can deliver your point of view in a manner that has a greater impact than if you said the same thing but in a quieter tone.

If you emphasize what your thoughts and philosophies are with a certain tone and a certain energy that can be somewhat infectious, regardless if you disagree with somebody, you appreciate the fact they’re bringing it and it doesn’t sound like they’re mailing it in.

One the most frustrating things to me is when you hear a host that sounds like they’re tired. If I’m up in the middle the night and I’m driving around, whether I’m working the graveyard shift as a security guard or I’m throwing papers as a third job or I’m driving a truck across the country, I’m working, I’m really working. I’ve got to be there, because I’ve got to make ends meet. If you can’t find it within you to muster up a little bit of energy and a little bit of excitement to talk sports for four hours, then you shouldn’t be doing this job. We are so blessed and lucky to have what we do and I hear more complaints and more frustration than I do appreciation. That part gets to me a little bit.

TM: So how do you handle the biggest story of the day or what you think is going to be your biggest segment? Do you have a designated time or just lead with your best? 

JK: I think you always open up the show with the biggest story. That’s always been my thought. If there’s a 1A and 1B story then you can maybe split up that first segment.

What I try and do is find the biggest stories, so I’m not repeating exactly what my thought is, I don’t have just one take on a story, that story has legs. The topic tree philosophy, to where you have an overarching story and you have branch off segments from each of those. I try to layer those in throughout. Just because it’s the first segment for me doesn’t mean it’s the first segment for somebody else. The first segment for somebody else could be 1:15 or 1:45.

I don’t want to be pigeonholed as just, oh he’s only built for weekend overnights. So what I’ve done and I’ve talked to my boss Scott Shapiro about it, and just said I want my show to be able to play at any time slot, but also to recognize it’s the middle the night and that you can get a little bit edgy with certain things, but still be cognizant of what the ultimate goal is, which is to place it anywhere on the network at any time.

TM: How do you approach the fact the biggest story of the day has likely been talked about for 12 hours before you go on?

JK: One of the things I think is a mistake, when you work on the weekends, people will sometimes go back to something that happened on Monday or Tuesday because it’s been their first opportunity to get a crack at it. I never do that. If there’s not a new element to that story by the time my show comes around, then I’m doing outdated stuff. Unless I have a thought on it that’s unique and a different perspective. So you do have to be a little bit open minded. But for the most part I try not to do stories that are old.

If something comes up like, oh hey, this happened on Thursday, I can say the most interesting part about this is this to me. If it’s unique and a different approach then I think I’m more open minded to it then.

Colby Powell – 107.7 The Franchise – 6-8pm – Central Time

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TM: What’s the biggest challenge of hosting a show from 6-8? 

CP: Hosting a show from 6:00 to 8:00 is so much different because every take on whatever the big story is has already been taken. It’s 6:00 and our station has been on for 12 1/2 hours. The topics that we’re discussing have already been brushed through 5 to 6 times by the previous shows. For us it’s about trying to have fun and keeping it light for people after their day of work.

We want to talk about sports, but we want to give people a reason to laugh. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’ll make fun of ourselves, get a little self-deprecating, all that good stuff. By the time 7:30 rolls around we’re just trying to have fun with the listener, we’re not trying to hammer OU football down their throat.

A couple of weeks ago Russell Westbrook got traded at 7:20. That’s probably the one exception where you go full sports. But other than that you’re just trying to have fun with the listener at that point of the day.

TM: What about Thunder games that start at 7:00? You’re on from 6-7 with the pregame show and then the final hour is your regular show. How do you handle those nights? 

CP: On those nights, whenever there’s a Thunder game airing on our rival station, at that point, we keep it even lighter and even more off the rails. We’re talking about fun sports stories, non-sports stories, if anything crazy in the game happens we might mention it, but our thing isn’t doing play-by-play for the on-going Thunder game.

We don’t really talk much about the basketball game while it’s going on. Whoever is with you at that point, those are the diehards and the people that listen to you regularly. We get pretty decent engagement at those times when the basketball game is on.

TM: So is the thought, well, whoever wants to watch the Thunder is probably doing so on TV? Is your goal during those times to serve the listener that doesn’t enjoy the NBA? 

CP: I should probably split it up because I was talking only about Thunder season. But let’s say it’s the last week in October and OU has a big game on Saturday but the Thunder play Friday night at 7:00. We’ll do our Thunder pregame from 6:00 to 7:00, but from 7:00-8:00 we now have the advantage of being able to hammer OU football for an hour.

The OU football fan, who hasn’t switched their brain into basketball mode yet, those people aren’t going to be listening to the basketball game, they’re going to be listening to us talk about OU football. Until December 1st that’s a huge advantage, or I should say a week later because OU wins the Heisman every year. When it’s just basketball season, we’ll talk NFL because it extends well into a basketball season. And then, of course, we’ll talk about some general NBA things, as well.

Joe Ostrowski – 670 The Score – 6-10 pm – Central Time Zone 

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TM: You have the transition segment with McNeil and Parkins before your show actually begins. Do you like being able to tease what’s happening for the next four hours on the show, seeing as it’s not during peak hours? How much does it really help?

 JO: I think it’s a good thing. If you don’t have it it’s just kind of weird, when you have that cold ending and you really don’t know what’s going on in the next show. You have this opportunity to pitch your show and you should take advantage of that.

A lot of people probably hear me during those transition segments that don’t normally listen to the show. If they like what they hear they’re going to hang out. There can even be, oh, you have a guest at this particular time that I want to hear. I’m going to make sure I tune in for that segment. It’s important to sell your show doing the few minutes that you have.

TM: Since you’re on from 6-10, have you found it harder to book guests compared to an afternoon show host? 

JO: I don’t think it’s that difficult. Most media members understand that it’s not just a 100 percent favor that they’re doing, they’re getting some publicity themselves when they come on the air. But I did forget how tough it is on Friday night to book a guest. Even if I’m the one that’s reaching out, it was always a struggle as a producer and it’s a struggle now is a show host.

It’s a Friday night so I completely understand it, so I’m not opposed to coming into studio a couple of hours before to do a pre-recorded interview. As long as it still going to be timely by the time I re-air the interview. But that’s really the only time I’ve seen it as a challenge

TM: Let’s say you’re on the air this year during a Bears game on Thursday night. How will you handle it? 

JO: (Laughs) I’ve done those shows before, I’ve gone against playoff games, NFL games, yeah, you’re up against it. This goes back to not treating your audience like they’re a bunch of idiots. They know what’s happening. But I’m not just going to sit around for four hours and focus on it the entire time, we have a sister station that broadcasts all the Bears games. But on nights like those I do have enough counter programming to get through the shows. You just have to except that not a whole lot of people are listening.

TM: What do you enjoy most about your time slot? 

JO: It’s an interesting position being, for the most part, the first show that’s really on after Cubs afternoon games. But how am I going to take a topic that’s been beat to death all day on our station and spend it with a fresh view point by the time I come on the air? That’s a challenge every day and something I certainly appreciate. 

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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