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Are You What Leadership Looks Like?

“You will never earn respect from the people you treat disrespectfully. That’s as simple as it gets.”

Brian Noe

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Add some more gas to the fire in the saga between the NBA and China. Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is the latest to comment on the turmoil that a tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has caused. James said on Monday that Morey was misinformed and uneducated when sending a tweet that read, “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” James also said that Morey didn’t consider the ramifications of his comments. Here’s a brief recap of the NBA-China beef so we’re all on the same page:

Morey tweets in support of anti-government protesters.

China is royally ticked.

Morey walks back his initial stance by tweeting, “I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.”

Morey’s explanation doesn’t even register with China.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver basically says sorry that Morey ticked you off, China, but freedom of speech is one of the NBA’s core beliefs.

China progresses from royally ticked to I-wanna-claw-your-eyes-out irate. China Central Television (CCTV) said in a statement, “We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression.” NBA Cares events, a G League game, and NBA media sessions were canceled in China due to one tweet. Rockets games and other NBA contests are in jeopardy of not being broadcasted in China because of this disagreement. Millions of dollars are at stake.

President Donald Trump and NBA head coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr trade verbal cheap shots. LeBron throws in his two cents when things seemed to be cooling down slightly. Whew.

There are two lessons to take out of this NBA-China situation that relate to sports talk radio. The first is pretty obvious — your tweets can come back to bite you. A tweet isn’t just for the people in your inner circle; it’s for the world. Sports radio host Dan Sileo was let go by FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix last month after one week on the job. The Phoenix Coyotes pressured 910 to get rid of Sileo due to his past comments on Twitter. The Coyotes told The Athletic, “When we became aware that FOX Sports 910 had hired Dan Sileo, we immediately reached out to the station’s management to express our deep concern regarding Mr. Sileo’s abhorrent comments.” Twitter isn’t just a playground. It’s part of your job resume.

The second lesson reaches far beyond social media; it’s so important to be a leader instead of a follower. When you look at the comments by President Trump, Kerr, and Popovich, they all share one thing in common — a lack of respect. The President called Kerr a little boy who was scared to answer a question about China. Kerr said the Oval Office has sunken low. Popovich called the President cowardly.

You might agree with some of those statements, but that doesn’t make the comments respectful. If you point out that your boss is a gigantic bozo, you might be correct, but that doesn’t exactly mean you’re sharing a respectful view. 

You will never earn respect from the people you treat disrespectfully. That’s as simple as it gets. We all want to be respected, yet we often don’t show others the proper respect. That’s so backwards. If you unleash a barrage of negativity on people, don’t expect them to think fondly of you.

One other thing I find odd — if somebody is disrespectful toward you, there is a tendency to think it’s justified to fire right back at them — like it’s a license to be just as ugly. If you respond like that, you’re a follower, not a leader.

I’ll never forget an exercise a speech teacher gave our class one day in college. She had us walk to one side of the classroom if we were in favor of something or the opposite end if we opposed it. She would say things like “pickles” or “football” and you would walk to one end or the other. I’ll never forget her saying “euthanasia.” Everybody walked to the side of the classroom in favor of it. Without thinking about it I took a step toward that end while following everyone else. Then I stopped and asked her, “What is that?” She said, “Basically the killing of old people.” Not knowing anything more about it than that, I was the only one who stayed on the other end while opposing it.

The point is that we sometimes follow the lead of others instead of thinking and behaving on our own. The scary thing is that we might not even be aware that we’re doing it. It would be easy to imitate two of the most successful coaches in NBA history and the leader of the free world. The ones who are supposed to be leaders are behaving vindictively and immaturely. It can still be easy to get sucked into that world when prominent figures who are supposed to set the right example are actually setting the wrong one.

One of the things I loved so much about playing football is that it tested you. It’s 100 degrees out and you have nothing left, are you going to fold? You’re banged up, how are you going to respond? You want the attention, but are you going to be selfish and throw a fit when you don’t get what you desire or are you going to be a team-first player? It prepares you for life. Sports radio does the same thing at times. You just had some disrespectful listener come off the top rope and say some nasty things to you. Do you follow that person’s lead and retaliate, or do you lead by example and take the high road? It sure is inviting to punch back, but you typically end up just punching yourself. Very rarely does the high road come back to bite you. 

There was a great piece by ESPN’s Zach Lowe about the Portland Trail Blazers last year. He told a story about a disgruntled player that was complaining about his lack of playing time to point guard Damian Lillard. Instead of joining in and following that crabby player’s lead, Dame basically told his teammate to stop whining and to put the team first. That’s leadership right there.

Being a leader involves resisting a lot of temptation. It’s easy to join in a gripe session. I could easily carve up that umm, nice young man who had some unflattering comments for me on Twitter. It would be easy to call him names and make him feel small. But where would that get me? Nowhere. Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards used to say, “Don’t press send!” In other words if you can’t say (or tweet) something nice, don’t say anything at all. There is so much negativity in the world. Don’t add to it, separate from it. Don’t be a follower. Be a leader.

BSM Writers

The NFL Hopes You’re Lazy Enough to Pay Them $5

“This app reportedly doesn’t even have any original content of it’s own. NFL Films produces content for ESPN+, HBO Max, Peacock, Tubi, Epix, Paramount Plus, and Prime Video. It has also reportedly had discussions about producing content for Netflix. Unless they plan to bring all of those shows in-house, what kind of shows could NFL Films produce for NFL Plus that you couldn’t already find on all of those other apps?”

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NFL Streaming

Corporate goodwill is a hard thing to ask for. It’s not something that is a requirement for any entity to engage in. But it can go a long way in establishing a deeper bond for the future. According to Sports Business Journal, NFL owners are contemplating launching a streaming service for the league.

The app would feature podcasts, content created by teams and radio content. It’s unknown where the podcast content will come from but one can assume it’ll include the various podcasts the NFL produces with iHeartRadio. Team content that is expected to be featured could come from videos and audio that is already posted on team websites and social media platforms such as YouTube.

Various organizations across the league have expanded their YouTube efforts over the last couple of years as the Google-owned site has slowly set itself apart as a leading source for viewership. My hometown team, the Baltimore Ravens, for example promotes a talk show with cornerback Marlon Humphrey where he interviews players and other key figures from the team about their lives and careers and how they got to where they are today.

The most important part of this app will be NFL games itself. On Sunday afternoons, whatever games are airing in the specific location you’re in while using the app, those are the games you have access to watch. If you’re in Baltimore and a Ravens game is airing on CBS while the Commanders are on Fox, those are the games the app will offer. If you’re in Boston and a Patriots game is on CBS while a Giants game is on Fox – you won’t have access to the Ravens game airing on CBS in Baltimore or the Commanders game on Fox in Baltimore even if that’s where you normally live. These games used to be a part of a deal with Yahoo Sports and Verizon – who distributed them on their apps for free.

JohnWallStreet of Sportico notes, “longer term, the existence of a league-owned streaming platform should help ensure broadcast rights continue to climb.” But at the end of the day, how does this help the fan? The increase of broadcast rights is going to end up costing viewers in the long run through their cable bill.

ESPN costs almost $10 per cable customer. The app, as of now, isn’t offering anything special and is an aggregation of podcasts, games and videos that fans can already get for free. If you want to listen to an NFL podcast – you can go to Spotify, Apple Podcasts and various other podcast hosting platforms. If you want to watch content from your favorite teams, you can go to their website or their social media platforms. And if you want to watch games, you can authenticate your cable subscriptions and watch them for free through your cable company’s app or CBS’ app or the Fox Sports app.

It’s nothing more than a money grab. Games are already expensive to go to as it is. Gas prices have reached astronomical highs. Watching content has become extremely costly and it’s debatable whether buying streaming services is cheaper or more expensive than the cable bundle. And now the NFL wants to add more stress and more expenses to their viewers who just desire an escape from the hardships of life through their love of a beautiful game? It seems wrong and a bit cruel to me.

The beauty of paying for content apps is that you’re going to gain access to something that is original and unique from everything else in the ecosystem. When House of Cards first premiered on Netflix, it was marketed as a political thriller of the likes we had never seen and it lived up to its expectations for the most part. The critically-acclaimed series led viewers to explore other shows on the app that were similarly a more explicit and unique journey from what had been seen on television before.

This app reportedly doesn’t even have any original content of it’s own. NFL Films produces content for ESPN+, HBO Max, Peacock, Tubi, Epix, Paramount Plus, and Prime Video. It has also reportedly had discussions about producing content for Netflix. Unless they plan to bring all of those shows in-house, what kind of shows could NFL Films produce for NFL Plus that you couldn’t already find on all of those other apps? Even YouTube has partnered with NFL Films to produce behind the scenes footage of games that is available for FREE.

If you’re going to force viewers to pay $5 to watch games on their phone, the least you could do is give fans access to speak with players and analysts before and after the games. Take NFL Network over the top so that we can wake up with Good Morning Football. Offer a way for fans to chat while games are being watched on the app. The ability to watch an All-22 feed of live games. A raw audio options of games. The ability to screencast. Even a live look at the highly paid booths who are calling the games.

Five bucks may seem small in the grand scheme of things but it is a rip-off especially when the content is available for free with a few extra searches. Goodwill and establishing a person to person online relationship with fans could go a long way for the NFL. It’s not going to work using these tactics though. And after facing such a long pandemic, offering it up for free just seems like the right thing to do.

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BSM Writers

Sports Talkers Podcast – Danny Parkins

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Danny Parkins opens up to Stephen Strom about why he is so passionate about defending Chicago. He also gives his best career advice and explains why a best friend is more important sometimes than an agent.

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Marc Hochman is The Lebron James of Miami Sports Radio

The Hochman and Crowder Show with Solana isn’t like anything you’ll hear in most major markets. But they wear that distinction with a badge of honor. They’re not interested in breaking down why the offensive line can’t get a push on short-yardage situations, they want to make you laugh, regardless if it’s sports content or not. They’re perfectly Miami sports radio. 

Tyler McComas

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Marc Hochman

There’s 30 minutes to go until Marc Hochman’s summer vacation and he’s suddenly overcome with emotion. Instead of staring at the clock, he’s staring at an article from The Miami New Times, which has just named him Best Talk Radio Personality in its “Best of 2022” awards issue. It’s an incredible honor in a city that has several worthy candidates, including the man sitting right next to him, Channing Crowder. 

But it’s not just the honor that’s catching Hochman’s eye, it’s also the paragraph where the newspaper compares him to Lebron James. No, seriously. Compliments are nothing new for the Miami radio veteran, but being compared to one of the best basketball players of all-time is new territory. Part of the paragraph reads like this:

“His current domination of the afternoon drive simulcast on both WQAM and 790 The Ticket (WAXY) is akin to Lebron playing for the Lakers and Clippers simultaneously. Could he do it? Probably. Does Hochman do this daily? Yes. Advantage, Hochman.”

Talk about incredibly high praise for a sports radio host. Especially one in Miami where there’s still a lot of hard feelings towards Lebron. But the praise is accurate, because the Hochman and Crowder Show with Solana airs on two different Audacy stations every day. It’s an interesting dynamic, especially for a market the size of Miami/Fort Lauderdale. 

“We have a joke that if you don’t like what you’re hearing on 560, feel free to tune in on 790,” laughed Hochman. “But it’s fun and I think in some strange way it’s increased our audience. As crazy as it is to say in 2022, there are people who listen to a particular radio station and don’t ever change it. I do think being on both stations has expanded our audience. We have fun with it. The show is on for four hours on 560 WQAM and three hours on 790 The Ticket.”

It’s cool to see Hochman get this type of honor during his 10th year of being an afternoon host on 560 WQAM. Especially since he’s originally from Chicago, but has carved out an incredible career in a city he’s called home since the late 80s. It’s funny to think Hochman had no interest in sports radio in 2004 when his college friend Dan Le Batard offered him a job as an executive producer at a startup station in Miami. Now, 18 years later, he’s being voted as the best to do it in the city. 

“Everybody likes to be recognized for what they do,” said Hochman. “We get recognized all the time by the listeners, but when someone out of your orbits writes their opinion of what you’re doing, and it’s that glowing of an opinion, it’s great. I’ve been compared to Lebron before, but it’s always been my hairline. It was nice to be compared to him for another reason. That was super cool.”

The best part about all of this is how Hochman will use this as a funny bit on the show, because, above anything else, he’s instantly identified as someone who’s incredibly gifted at making people laugh on the air. There’s no doubt it will become a theme on the show, both with him and his co-hosts, Crowder and Solana. 

“The award came out about 30 minutes before I was leaving for my summer vacation, so I had about 30 minutes on the air to respond to it,” Hochman said. “So I’m sure it will become a bit on the show, I certainly will refer to myself as the Lebron James of sports talk radio in Miami. Although, there’s still some hard feelings here towards him.

That was the one part that jumped out, obviously, to me, Crowder and to Solana. I don’t think I’m Lebron James but Crowder said on the air that sometimes you have to acknowledge when you’re playing with greatness, and he said “I used to play defense with Jason Taylor and Junior Seau, now I’m doing radio and I will acknowledge greatness.”

With or without this honor, it’s pretty evident Hochman is the happiest he’s ever been in sports radio. He’s surrounded with two talented co-hosts, but the sentiment is that Hochman does an incredible job of putting both Solano and Crowder in situations to be the best versions of themselves on the air. However, Hochman sees it differently. 

“I think that’s more on the people around you,” he said. “If you have great teammates, they’re great. Crowder and Solana, those dudes, if you want to make a basketball comparison, we have ourselves a Big Three.

Solana is the best at what he does, Crowder is the absolute best radio partner I’ve had in my career. He’s so aware of what it takes to entertain but also has broadcast sensibilities at the same time. I actually think he’s the one that makes us sound better than what we really are. He has a really incredible knack for entertaining but also informing.”

The Hochman and Crowder Show with Solana isn’t like anything you’ll hear in most major markets. But they wear that distinction with a badge of honor. They’re not interested in breaking down why the offensive line can’t get a push on short-yardage situations, they want to make you laugh, regardless if it’s sports content or not. They’re perfectly Miami sports radio. 

“I would say Miami is the strangest sports radio market in the country,” said Hochman. “I grew up in Chicago so I’m intimately familiar with Chicago sports talk. Miami sports talk, which is Le Batard, who redefined what works. In Miami, that’s what it needed. It’s more guy talk than sports talk. We certainly can’t break down a third inning in a Marlins game and why a runner should have been running when he wasn’t, the way that New York, Philadelphia or Boston radio could.”

“That doesn’t work here. When Crowder and I go on the air everyday, we’ve always said, our goal is we want to laugh the majority of our four hours on the air. If we’re laughing, we assume the audience is laughing, as well. That’s our personality. We both like to laugh and have fun. I like to do it, no matter what is going on. That translates to the radio. Luckily, Miami is a sports radio market that embraces that, because I don’t think we could do a show any other way.”

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