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Pauly Howard Does Gambling Content Right

“I think people are sick and tired of when they turn on these ESPN shows, it’s the same thing. It’s fluff pieces. Every pregame show is unwatchable. It’s terrible. They’re still afraid to get into gambling.”

Brian Noe

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The phrase “only in Vegas” gets thrown around too often. It shouldn’t be used to describe common occurrences like a $50 win at the craps table or a kiss from a stranger at a club. “Only in Vegas” should be saved for huge events like a future fiancée winning 12 million bucks or a Vegas sports betting show picking up major steam while adding popular TV affiliates around the country. Mammoth occurrences like this are part of the reason why Pauly Howard says he’s living the dream.

Pauly teams up with Mitch Moss to broadcast the sports betting show Follow the Money on VSiN. The show airs weekdays from 7am-10am ET (replayed 9am-noon PT) on SiriusXM channel 204. VSiN has established itself as the sports betting authority — the first network ever dedicated to sports gambling — and Pauly Howard is a big part of that success. He’s a great storyteller and very relatable. Well, except for the $12 million part.

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Pauly touches on several interesting stories and stances in the interview below. He isn’t shy about voicing his displeasure with several major networks that are falling short with their sports betting coverage. Pauly also talks about the sports radio host that has helped him the most. His views on the sports talk industry are strong, his career path is interesting, and Pauly’s stories are outstanding.

Enjoy.

Brian Noe: Can you start off by telling the epic story of being late to work and winning thousands of dollars on a machine?

Pauly Howard: We work crazy hours. We get up at 1:30. We were saying it’s amazing that no one has been late or overslept. Then the next day for whatever reason the alarm didn’t go off and I woke up at like 3:30 and we’re on the air at 4. Mitch locked me out of the studio for the first segment. It goes 15 minutes so I figure well, okay I’ve got 15 minutes to kill.

There was a machine that had been pretty lucky in the past. I went and got a Mountain Dew at the gift shop and like on the third hand I got a royal flush for $4,000. Then I hit a straight flush after that. In less than five minutes I had won $5,000. So then I go in after the commercial break is over. Mitch thought I was joking. We had the pictures all ready to go and the graphics. I flashed the money in front of him and he was so pissed. He wanted a percentage too for kicking me out or at least buy him dinner.

Noe: How many times have you thrown that in his face since it happened?

Pauly: He brings it up more than I do. (laughs) I think he wanted a couple of dinners out of it. I don’t blame him, but it worked out for everybody. That’s one that he brings up more than I do.

Noe: Who’s the person that taught you the most about being a sports radio host?

Pauly: I would say JT The Brick. Other than that I really didn’t get a whole lot of advice. I think I was in a bad situation at ESPN Las Vegas where I got my start. I didn’t think I had much of a chance to succeed early on with who I was working with. There wasn’t really anyone in the building who could tell you what you’re doing wrong and what you should do. It was baptism by fire, which was strange. I came in contact with JT The Brick later when he moved to Vegas. I think he really helped.

Noe: What were some of the valuable things that JT taught you?

Pauly: Interviewing techniques, how the business works, how to market yourself, people to know, things to avoid, pointing out bad habits, ways to get better, and don’t be lazy.

Noe: How did you feel as a broadcaster before JT told you all of those things?

Pauly: I think I was above average, but I was getting into bad habits. I was frustrated because I didn’t think I was utilized properly. I find the whole thing ironic that once I quit where I was at and went on my own and got in touch with JT, I was then doing national fill-ins on FOX. It was fill-ins, but still I was by myself for four hours on the overnight, which is tough to do so at least somebody thought I was good.

Noe: What do you enjoy most about being a radio host?

Pauly: I’ve never worked a day in my life. I think this is the toy department especially now that we’re at VSiN. I think 95% of the country would change places with us. We work three hours a day and even though we have crazy hours your job is basically to watch games and research games, game previews, and betting trends. I guess it’s a cliché but it’s living the dream.

Noe: Do you think you’ve learned more over the years about sports broadcasting or sports betting?

Pauly: I would say broadcasting. I interned at KFAN when I was a senior in college. I had no idea what I was doing. They threw me on the air; I was 24, 25. I had no idea what I was really doing. There was a lot of room to grow and improve. Basic stuff I didn’t really know. I would say it’d be broadcasting.

Some of the stuff with sports betting is pretty straightforward. You know the spread. You know what the over/under is. You know what a moneyline is. You know what a teaser is. I think most people can understand that the minuses and the pluses and all that.

Noe: What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned over the years about being a good sports bettor?

Pauly: I’m only good at college football and college basketball. I think this other stuff is very difficult. I’ve been a coin flip in the NFL my whole life. I don’t think that will ever change. The numbers are too good. We had the historic run in hockey with first period overs. It was great for the show and got national attention. That was a dream scenario and hopefully it’ll continue. It hit like 82% for a season. It was crazy with these teams we were highlighting.

I would just say you have to learn from your mistakes. You can’t chase. I also would say formulate your own opinion. Don’t ask people what they think because you’re going to get 10 different answers. If you like a game don’t talk yourself off of it. The more people you talk to I think the worse off you’ll be.

Noe: There are a couple of Twitter accounts — Pauly Howard’s Thoughts and Pauly Howard Paulyism’s — have you ever checked out either of those accounts?

Pauly: Yeah, I met the one guy that runs Pauly Howard’s Thoughts. He’s a nice guy.

Noe: Do you take those accounts as a compliment?

Pauly: Yeah. They have that and they have a drinking game. I know during NBA if I said Luka a certain amount of times it was take a drink, or if I said lunacy or buffoon. They have all the stuff — drinking games and Paulyisms and other stuff. I can’t believe there are parody accounts for both of us. People show up wearing our t-shirts and merchandise.

I was just some dumb kid from Minnesota. When people tell you they stopped listening to Howard Stern and they listen to you every day, I can’t believe it.

Noe: Is what you said about Howard Stern the best compliment you’ve gotten?

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Pauly: That or people come in from all over the country. They say they listen every day. It gets them through their commute. They’ll be staying on the strip, but they’ll still get in the cab or Uber and go 20 minutes just to come down at 6 in the morning to get a picture and say hello. That’s the stuff I can’t believe.

Noe: What was the biggest bet you won and what was the worst beat of your betting career?

Pauly: Well I wanted to bet $100,000 on Mayweather against Canelo Álvarez, but the guy from Morgan Stanley wouldn’t wire the money because he said I like the other side. He liked Alvarez. I couldn’t believe it.

My ex had a lot of money. We were going to put $100,000 on the bet. He wouldn’t wire the money and he talked her out of it. It was two against one. She goes okay you’re on your own, so I put $30,000 on it.

Dan Rafael had it 12-0, a shutout for Mayweather and the female judge had it a draw. They’re reading the scores; I’m like what the hell’s going on? He won but the female judge had it a draw. I couldn’t believe it. I just felt that you were never going to see him at that price again. I think I laid 220 or something on that fight. The worst beat is the live-in girlfriend of five years asking to get married and three months later she won 12 million dollars.

Noe: What happened from that point on?

Pauly: Well we gave it the college try. No one was going to tell me what to do. I don’t blame her for resenting me and saying, “I asked you to get married. You said no and now I have all this money.” Then she was the boss. Then she was doing her own thing. She was making all of the decisions and wouldn’t even run stuff by me.

I still proposed. I was in a tough spot after that too. I’m like well I can’t propose right away. I’ll look like a total idiot. It’s like so I have to wait. To my surprise she actually got mad that I took so long about proposing and everything. She said yes, but we never got there. I think once that happens I was drawing dead.

Noe: I didn’t know that story. So she won all that money after asking you to marry her?

Pauly: She asked me to get married and I said no. Then three months later she went to the casino. She went to go gamble. There’s a machine she liked there. I like the chicken fingers that they have. So she was going to get me lunch. She had some free food and some free comps. I fell asleep on the couch. It was a Friday. I woke up and had like a hundred missed calls. It was her saying she had just won 12 million dollars. I told her, I go, “Quit f***in’ around. You’re wasting my time.”

I made a couple of calls and the guy says it checks out. It actually bothered me because she was calm, cool, and collected over the phone. She’s like, “Hey, I just won $12 million. They might interview me on the news. Bring my makeup. We have the biggest suite they have. Go to valet. The host will meet you.” So I show up and it was all true.

Noe: Only in Vegas, right? That’s amazing.

Pauly: Yeah, she put like $20 in. I think it happened in like five minutes — the third hand or something. Ridiculous. I can’t believe it.

Noe: With that in mind — only in Vegas — how would you describe the Vegas market? Is it much different than anywhere else?

Pauly: Well it was, yeah. Doing local stuff we could talk about whatever we wanted because we didn’t have a pro team. We would do more of a national show, but we could joke around. There was always something weird happening with celebrities. Someone was at the club and there were always things going on.

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Now I would say it’s becoming just like every other place. We’re going to get the Raiders. We have the Knights. We have pro sports. Now we’re becoming a big-time sports city. The game changer is the new $2 billion stadium.

We’re going to get the Super Bowl. We’re going to get Pac-12 football. You’re going to get all these big events that are going to come to town now. I can’t believe that. I moved here in 2000. They always said wait another five years, we’ll get a team. Then we thought our big break was when we got All-Star Weekend for the NBA. That turned out to be a disaster. Pacman Jones — they had the shooting and a bunch of shady characters came to town. There was bad behavior. People weren’t coming out to gamble. They were causing trouble. People that work there all over the strip had horrible experiences.

I just can’t believe the NFL has decided to build a $2 billion stadium and it’s the Raiders. If you’d asked somebody for the small chance it would happen, you’d say Jacksonville or somebody like that would move. You wouldn’t say it’d be the Raiders and that brand.

Noe: Is Vegas a good sports town?

Pauly: I would say yeah. I think it’s unbelievable. They always used to say on the air that UNLV basketball didn’t draw unless they won. People would always call in and say you give us major leagues, we’ll go. I would laugh at that because you don’t even go to UNLV. But they were right.

It certainly helped they went to the Stanley Cup. The Golden Knights are selling out preseason hockey games. Tickets are expensive. I can’t believe how much the tickets are and people go every night and it’s the hottest thing. That surprised me. I didn’t think it was going to work because I thought the team would struggle for a while. Then it would go away and maybe hurt our chances of getting an NBA team. For an expansion team to almost win the whole thing is nuts.

Noe: Do you think the Raiders will work in Vegas?

Pauly: Yeah. That’s where you’re going to get people coming in from all over the country. People might be concerned about the population here and then people already have their team. I guess that’s different because the Golden Knights, it’s your team and it’s an expansion team. You already have, “I’m from Pittsburgh,” or someone’s from Chicago and they like the Bears. They’re not going to support the Raiders. But it’s only eight games. Plus with Raider Nation traveling — I’m sure everyone will just fly Southwest coming in all the time.

Then you just have to look at who the opponents are going to be too. I just think this will be like it is now with hockey. When the Red Wings are in town, when the Edmonton Oilers are in town, when the Blackhawks come here — that’s a lot of opposing fans. So I don’t think they’ll have any problems selling out.

Noe: If you look at your show with Mitch over these last two years what has been the biggest area that you guys have gotten better in?

Pauly: I think showing more personality and joking around and having a good time. People can get trends and stats anywhere. I also think it’s how you present it and if you also keep it loose. I would say we’ve done a good job of keeping it loose and being very entertaining. We’re entertaining and informative, but we’ve always had success there. We were highly recommended. We tried out. We got on. We were doing weekends. In no time we were doing afternoons. In two months they put us on morning drive after that. It was rapid fire. Everything happened so fast.

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Noe: Did you know Mitch before you guys teamed up?

Pauly: Yeah, I worked with him at ESPN Vegas. The funny thing is they never would put us together. They made us try out and it goes back to what kind of operation they were running over there. Whether it was you guys sound alike, you’re the same person, we can’t do it — they wouldn’t do it. They refused to do it. They wouldn’t put us on the same show just the two of us. Now we’re on TV in New York and Boston and hopefully adding some other markets here soon. I know the VSiN management laughs at that. You can tell right away how good the chemistry is. How couldn’t they see that? They would never put you two together? Several people in management have commented on that.

Noe: How does being on TV change your approach to doing a sports talk show?

Pauly: The only thing that changes is I can’t swear. We used to swear a lot and that’s the only thing. We’re on live television so that’s one of the stipulations.

I guess I have to look at the camera once in a while. I don’t think that’s a big deal anyway. I’m not doing the nightly news here. We’re doing a sports show. Once in a while I’ll put a sportcoat on.

The biggest thing is just watch the language. Other than that nothing’s changed. They always considered it that too. They’re on all over now, fubo, Sling, and there are a lot of radio stations that carry it. But from day one it was VSiN.com and watch online and all that. There are three or four cameras in the studio so nothing has changed for me.

Noe: How do you guys measure success at VSiN?

Pauly: For the show I think it’s just adding affiliates and getting on in other places. Getting on all over the country, which I can’t believe. We’re grateful for what NESN did as they reach I think five million homes. It’s great that Rick Jaffe believed in the show so strongly and put us on TV there and MSG followed. I think that was the first sign of this becoming big. Other than that you’d have to ask management. I don’t know what they would say.

I just think it’s people want something else. I think people are sick and tired of when they turn on these ESPN shows, it’s the same thing. It’s fluff pieces. Every pregame show is unwatchable. It’s terrible. They’re still afraid to get into gambling. You’ve got six guys that are laughing at their own stupid jokes. They do a quick thing where they make picks. They always take favorites. They’ll go with the dog of the week and they’ll always take somebody that’s catching two or three. It’s the same stuff. I just think people want something new.

Now that you see 13, 14 states, whatever it is, where it’s legal and continues to grow and who knows how many that will be, it’s just people want good information and they want to make money. They don’t care about Erin Andrews sitting down with somebody and asking mindless chitchat. The one thing they actually did that was good was they had Jillian Barberie on doing the weather. They even got rid of that. Stuff like that. I don’t know what they’re trying.

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Noe: Do you think that it’s just outdated thinking with these national outlets where they still treat gambling like it’s taboo?

Pauly: Yeah, that’s stupid. The one pregame show that’s good and it’s been that way for a long time is College GameDay. They have fun. They do picks. The Bear is on there giving picks. They discuss the point spread. It’s a good atmosphere and good energy. They like to have a good time with it.

The others, I don’t know what they’re doing, if they’re afraid of Goodell or what. The person who came up with this idea where we need six guys on there all ex jocks who speak in clichés and it’s all coach speak is laughable. I don’t know who came up with that. They all continue to do it. It’s a joke.

I think that’s why these fantasy shows are doing so well and why there’s potential for that. I don’t want to give them any ideas, but I just think if you would come on to talk point spreads and give good information right before kickoff on that type of platform — I think they’re wasting the platform. I don’t know anybody who watches that shit. It’s terrible. I don’t understand these guys who come in and like give me Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, Tony Gonzalez, or who’s on CBS? Nate Burleson, Bill Cowher, Boomer Esiason — I mean you’ve got five guys in there and they can say something for 10 seconds and they’ve got to move on. It’s all clichés and it’s all the same stuff. I don’t understand it.

That’s where you just got to give Goodell the middle finger and say you can’t say you’re opposed to gambling when you gave Las Vegas a pro team. Where would you really be without fantasy football which is gambling, fantasy sports, or sports betting? Where would you be? Would you be the NBA? I mean how popular really would you be if you eliminated that? That’s the reason you’re so successful, because of bettors! People love this.

Noe: Do the Johnny-come-latelies who are now all of a sudden embracing sports gambling annoy you, or is it the people that are still reluctant to embrace it?

Pauly: I would say the latter. There’s nothing wrong with trying. It’s a huge demographic. This is very important. More people bet sports than play the stock market. You have what — four networks whatever it is — devoted to the stock market. Think about that; that more people bet sports than play the stock market. The numbers are just staggering about how many Americans placed a bet last year.

My mom couldn’t tell you who the coach was at Duke, but every March she you would come home with a bracket to fill out for 20 bucks. That’s why it’s the biggest thing in Las Vegas every March. It’s standing room only in ballrooms and you can’t get a room. It’s bedlam. It’s because everyone likes to bet and everyone does an office pool.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying. But the problem with that is you’re going to get found out and exposed right away. If you don’t know the terminology or the jargon, you’ll be found out quick. This is something you have to be around and know it. If you get the terminology wrong they’ll shut you off. I would say it’s the latter. I don’t know what ESPN is doing. That’s strange too because Van Pelt has been talking about it and doing the Bad Beats segment for years. I think they’re missing a huge audience. But that’s good for us because they can watch us then.

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Noe: Can you think of any unknown oddsmakers in Vegas that might become bigger personalities with sports betting becoming more of a national thing?

Pauly: I think Matt Lindeman could have a future. He’s at Circa. That’s going to be a billion dollar casino when it opens next year. I think it’s going to be the Bellagio on steroids. I think it’s going to be a game changer. He might be one because he’s an oddsmaker. He’s young, opinionated, has very good numbers — I think he could come on the scene.

The other one I think is a slam dunk is Mike Palm. Mike Palm is the VP at The D and with Circa Sports. He’s Derek Stevens’s right hand man. Number one he’s the Head of Active Content Management. Derek calls it a travesty in America — you go to a Buffalo Wild Wings, just go to a sports bar on a Saturday, and the bartenders can’t find a game. FOX News is on, the Weather Channel is on, and they’ve got a replay on ESPNU from 1987. When you ask them to put the soccer match on — Liverpool or whatever — they look at you like you have two heads. I can’t believe that the bosses aren’t training them. It totally could be a business.

In any event, he always knows what game is coming down to the wire and what game deserve sound. I know he’s a vice president, but he’s sharp, he’s got a good opinion, he does his homework on all the sports. He’s educated; he gave out the Blues early to win the Stanley Cup. He’s good at hockey, he’s good at baseball, and I think he could become a star. He’s already front and center with his position. If he bets big, he knows what he’s talking about on all these sports and he’s entertaining. I think those two go hand in hand. They’re building a huge broadcasting studio inside the new casino. I just think that thing is going to be a monster that opens late next year.

Noe: What would you say is your proudest achievement thus far as a broadcaster?

Pauly: I don’t think it’s happened yet. Well, I thought the FOX Sports Radio thing was a big deal. You know him; I was filling in for Ben Maller so however many markets he’s on. I also didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t know if I could do four hours by myself in the middle of the night where you can’t have a guest on and sometimes the callers are drunk. I thought it was hard to do. I guess that was a big deal. I just think there are bigger things ahead.

Noe: What’s a major goal of yours or something you want to do before your career is over?

Pauly: I think just keep getting on as many networks and as many TV stations as possible. I think the sky’s the limit because so many other states are now getting sports betting and that just leads to all these people who want to bet, like to bet, and can add you all over the country. Look at all the networks. Look at all these places that carry 24/7 sports. There are some things I don’t want [to divulge] — I’m just throwing names out there like a MASN, whatever the networks are who carry these teams.

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Noe: What do you remember most about the first time you filled in for Ben Maller on a national platform? Did anything unexpected or funny happen?

Pauly: I felt comfortable. It was strange, but I was comfortable because I was doing it from the same studio that I worked at in Las Vegas. It was just me in a room. I was always confident that I could talk college basketball and March Madness was going on. I think Kentucky was going for an undefeated season.

On air they joked that my producer that night was in Liar Liar with Jim Carrey. I’m like are they serious? It was like a 10-minute discussion. That kind of loosened me up and I said okay we can talk about different things and joke around as well. I just couldn’t believe that the guy was one of the main stars as a child actor with Jim Carrey in a big time movie and here he was. I’m talking to him about “Jim’s on in Des Moines; he wants to talk about football.”

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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