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Listeners Know Everything About Jay Phillips

“I really feel like it’s important that you know where I’m coming from, you know what I’m about and why I feel about things the way that I do.”

Tyler McComas

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When’s the last time you shared a personal story on the air? Maybe it was something good that happened, maybe it was something bad, heck, maybe it was even something super embarrassing that everyone made fun of you for. Regardless, I’ve found that I’m drawn to the hosts who do an exceptional job of living their life on the show. 

To me, there’s something special about being more than just a talking head that rattles off sports opinions. Let me know who you are and what you’re about that. Tell me humbling or embarrassing stories that humanize you. Connect with me on a personal level. That’s what will keep me coming back to the show every day. 

Jay Phillips of 107.5 The Game in Columbia, South Carolina is of a similar mindset. He wants you to know his favorite band of all-time is Phish. He wants you to know what it’s like raising four daughters as the only man in the house. He even wants you know what he had at his tailgate before the South Carolina game on Saturday. He likes to share his world with the audience. 

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“I feel like there’s some people in the business that just take a certain position or be a thing because it’s expedient from a money perspective or something like that,” said Phillips. “I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t think I could do that, because I am who I am. I’m local and you’re going to know me. I really feel like it’s important that you know where I’m coming from, you know what I’m about and why I feel about things the way that I do.”

For me, there’s some reliability here. Life alert, but I told a girl last Friday night, who I’m newly dating, that I’m going to marry her someday. Maybe it was the White Claws talking, but it was a pretty damn bold move on my part. As embarrassing as it might have been to admit I said that, and trust me it was, I instantly realized I had to share the story on my show. No matter how much crap I got from my co-host, other co-workers or the listeners, I knew it was best for the show.

So I told the whole story Monday during the first hour. Maybe I was naïve, but I never imagined the response it would end up getting. That segment generated more calls, texts and tweets than maybe any other we’ve ever had on the show. 

Now, we have a personal story our listeners have become extremely interested in that we’ll use frequently on the show. I’m even letting my co-host interview her live Thursday afternoon to get more info on just how I completely went overboard over the weekend. All for good content, right…?

The good news is that you don’t have to completely embarrass yourself like me to live your life on the show and make it entertaining. Phillips is a prime example of that. 

11 and a half years ago, he and his wife found out they were pregnant with their fourth child. About a month after that in the early spring of 2008, Jay’s wife found out she had Stage 1B Cervical Cancer. Soon after, the Phillips family was making routine trips to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which meant doing radio shows from the conference room of a hospital. 

The Phillips’ fourth child was born six weeks early and suffered complications. Not even 90 minutes after the delivery happened, his wife had surgery for her cancer to be fully removed. 

“That story I shared a lot,” said Phillips. “Even now on the anniversary of my wife being cancer free, which is obviously also our daughter’s birthday, too, I’ll mention that on the air. I don’t want to say I commiserate with other people who’ve been through it, but a lot of people have been touched by something like that. So from that perspective, I don’t want to say I enjoyed sharing, but I think it’s important to reach out to people and give them a sense that, oh hey, I’ve been through that and so has that guy. That was rather personal and I don’t want to say I went out of my way on it but it was a pretty big deal, you know? I have appreciated the opportunity to share that from time to time.”

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As great as living your life on the show can be, it’s like everything else, in the sense that there needs to be balance. There’s a fine line on how much sharing is too much, but it does exists. 

A couple of people have told Phillips, “Okay dude, you have four daughters. We get it.” 

“That’s people that just want to stick to sports,” Phillips said. “Those are the types that want to hear about the next offensive line recruit. I know that’s a small percentage of a listener base but I’m just going to tell you where I’m coming from and I’m also going to operate on the mindset that you may have never listened to my show before. I can’t assume that everyone listening to me every day is always there three hours a day and five days a week. I also want to relate that because it’s not like I’m the only dad out there who is going with the family to take the kids on college visits. I want people to know that that’s part of who I am. You know, things like what I’m going to make for a tailgate meal, what I had at the Super Bowl, something like that.”

You’ll periodically hear Phillips mention his love for Phish. Whether it’s hearing the band being used as bumper music for the show or mentioning how many times he’s seen them in concert, it’s become just another way he shares with the audience what he’s passionate about. It may be subtle, but it could go a long way in building personal relationships with the listener. 

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“I don’t want to say I model off of it, but how Dan Patrick and his guys run their show with a nice mix of sports, food, beer, music, movies and TV shows, that’s who I am,” said Phillips. “I like to cook and I like good beer. I enjoy being out with people, I enjoy live music and we talk about those things a lot. I don’t want to say we do it too much, that’s more of a subjective feeling, anyway, but when I can bring them up, I like to bring them up.”

What are you passionate about? How is it being single? How is it being married? There’s so many ways to show your audience just what kind of person you really are. Whichever you choose, it’s important to remember to let the audience know you on a more personal level. 

Sure, I’ll come for your sports takes, but I’ll stay if I feel connected to you as a host. 

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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