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Keep The Losses Entertaining Too

“Don’t become the “profit of doom” during the bad times. You may not be around to call the good times.”

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Here we are in August and a few of the Major League Baseball teams and Minor League clubs are fighting for the playoffs and post season berths.

Then there are the rest of them. Some have been playing out the string since May. Some are looking for positive results even in losses. Others are going backwards and searching for answers.

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In any event, you as the broadcaster for the teams in the latter few categories have to keep the show going on. Your listeners are depending on you. It’s not as easy as it may sound but it’s your job to entertain, win or lose. I’m going to suggest a few things, but remember just because it worked for me or those I’ve worked with, doesn’t guarantee it will do the same for you. 

I’ve been in your shoes. Working for a few teams that have underachieved and lost a lot of games in tough seasons. Yes, it affects you. You’re around the team a lot and they more than likely aren’t happy about their current situation. Still, you can’t let that affect your broadcast.

A legendary broadcaster once told me, “you don’t only sign up to broadcast the wins”. How true. Even the best of the best lose upwards of 60 games every season. Even the worst teams will win 50-60 games during a season. Plus, if you’re involved in a rebuild situation, the future may be bright, so don’t become the “profit of doom” during the bad times. You may not be around to call the good times.

Ok, so how do you survive the bad game and bad season? 

In one instance for me, the broadcast became more of a “show” than a call of a game. The two broadcasters made sure that the audience was entertained and kept up on the game at the same time. It was an art form.

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They played their roles perfectly. The straight man and the funny man. They interacted beautifully. The two sometimes relied on fan interaction in the form of email questions that led to hilarity. Most importantly, while their “show” was going on, they did an excellent job of making sure the game was called accurately and informatively. 

The reason I say it was an artform is because sometimes we have a tendency to not know when enough is enough. When a “bit” or story has run its course. Sometimes you can’t help it, but these guys knew when to move on. It was such a successful run that radio station billed the game as the broadcasters’ show. Took on a life of its own, but really kept an audience entertained during some lean years of baseball. One other big league broadcast I know of, read the media guide out loud to find out facts about players on their team and the other team. TV broadcasts have an advantage in these cases because you can visually show fans or other things going on in the ballpark and still make the game visible. It’s a little more challenging on radio. 

So, you’re probably saying to yourself, “I do the game by myself, how does this apply to me?”. Excellent question. You don’t have to do a show per se, the main thing to take away is keep your audience entertained. As a solo act, you control the broadcast. If you want to do a “this day in history” during a certain inning, go for it. If you are a minor league broadcaster and want to go through your organization’s Top 30 prospect list, have at it.

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Taking twitter questions, emails and other fan interaction makes them feel a part of the broadcast and also allows you to take a step back if the game is going south that night.  Again, pick your moments and understand your audience and what they want to hear as well. Don’t go into full “show” mode, because people do turn on your broadcast to hear the game. Don’t lose sight of that. These are merely suggestions to think about when the game stinks. Be creative! 

Make sure in the seasons that don’t go that well, that you make time to take care of yourself. This may sound funny, but its important. Get your sleep, get your exercise and eat well. Easier said than done, trust me, I know, but do what you can. That physical well-being will help the mind stay clear and focused too. 

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Need more motivation to do the job even if the team isn’t?  Remember that you are one of a chosen few lucky enough to be doing this for a living. That alone should spur you on to be your best no matter what the score of the game is or what your team’s record is. What we get to do is fun after all is said and done. We are calling baseball games for goodness sake. Enjoy it. 

Remember this other piece of great advice I received. “Never let the score of the game affect your enjoyment of the game itself.” 

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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