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Avoiding Mistakes Takes A Team Effort

“Trust me, in this day and age of social media, you find out very quickly when something that is said is untrue or unintentionally hurtful.”

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We don’t ever set out to make mistakes, but sometimes they do happen. Little misspeaks, large misspeaks. Tiny factual errors, huge factual errors. Let’s face it, we’re all human beings and not robots, we will make a boo boo every now and then. Like a shortstop that lets a ball go through his legs, we don’t intentionally make errors, we try the best we can and sometimes things just happen. Now, our mistakes are certainly avoidable and we should do our absolute best to make sure that all of our I’s are dotted and T’s crossed before we crack the mic. But sometimes it takes a team effort to accomplish that goal. 

A lot of issues can be taken care of well before a game begins. In television this is more evident than in radio. Why? Well usually there is a pre-production meeting. The producer, director, camera operators, sideline reporter and announcing crew meet to go over the broadcast. What does that entail? Usually, they’ll go over what graphics they have with important statistical information, what promotional reads need to be done, when the sideline reporter will do a hit on something that has been preproduced or if there is anything special going on at the ballpark or field. It’s also to make sure that everyone involved in the broadcast is up to date on information that may (or may not) come up in the telecast. This is critically important so there are no surprises in the production or misunderstandings when it comes to flow of information. 

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Generally, in a tv broadcast the producer is “in the ear” of the talent in the booth. If the producer wants to steer the broadcast to a certain topic, he/she will let the talent know. This way the broadcaster isn’t talking about something completely different than the viewer is seeing on the screen. It’s also a failsafe so that if the broadcaster misspeaks, they know it right away and won’t dig themselves a hole. That’s why the producer in the television realm is so important. When a broadcaster goes down a wrong path, he/she needs to nip it in the bud right then and there to avoid a bad situation.

It’s a two-way street because the producer needs to know if when talking about a player or coach the camera is focused on the wrong person. Everyone is supposed to take care of each other in that setting and 9 times out of every ten, it is the case. 

When this system breaks down, things can get out of hand. A producer assumes a broadcaster has a piece of information that he/she doesn’t actually have. Awkward situations become Twitter fodder, or unintentional causes of angst for a fan base or individual. This tends to happen when that chain of “command” breaks down. Trust me, in this day and age of social media, you find out very quickly when something that is said is untrue or unintentionally hurtful.

Sometimes the mistake is a miscommunication from a producer to the broadcaster, if this is the case and your producer has failed you, it makes no sense or does no good to throw him/her under the bus on the air. Nobody knows who they are. The audience heard you. You are going to be the one to wear it. None of us ever sets out to be hurtful, untruthful or just plain wrong. Things happen from time to time. So what do you do about it after the slip up or gaffe has been made? 

The sooner you can correct yourself the better. Now, I’m not talking about little miniscule things, like misidentifying a fastball or curveball, no, I’m talking about egregious factual errors or other major things that could be considered insensitive. Once in a while a mistake will require an apology. 

In the rare occasion you find yourself in this boat, think about what you are going to say and make sure you are sincere. There is no reason to make things worse with what is perceived as an insincere apology. That’s almost doubling down on the mistake. Take some time during a commercial break or halftime or when you have a second to think and measure your words. Talk it over with your broadcast partner. Run it by the producer first if you need to do so. Don’t think of this as a punishment, think of this as being big enough to admit your error.

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It’s never an enviable position to be in, but it’s one that will say a lot about your character and professionalism when an apology is delivered in a heartfelt and sincere manner. You will be remembered more for how you recover from the mistake than actually making the mistake itself. But you have to do it right. It has to come from the heart. 

Avoiding mistakes and sticky situations is why we as broadcasters prep and prep and prep. In all cases communication and teamwork are key to the success or failure in this quest. Sometimes we criticize players and teams for not playing well together and leaving a player out to dry or making someone look bad. It’s the same for us really when you think about it.

Everyone pulling on the same end of the rope is so critical for a good, clean, solid broadcast. Those of us in the communications industry seem to be the ones that have trouble communicating. Never assume your broadcaster, analyst or producer has all the information you think they should. There are ways to ask without insulting the other person. “Hey did you see that Christian Yellich is out for the year?”, or “I just saw that the Twins re-set the home run record, that’s pretty impressive.” Maybe even “should we talk about the Pineda suspension at some point during the show?” This way it’s a conversation and if the person didn’t know, he/she does now. 

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I mentioned at the beginning, mistakes are going to happen. During the course of a live broadcast your mouth will get ahead of your brain, or the other way around. Why? Because we are human beings and we are not perfect. All we can ask is that we are prepared and ready for the game.

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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