With so much attention paid today on social media, podcasts and streaming, it’s still very important not to neglect your station’s on-site events. Whether it’s a drive-time live remote broadcast from the Super Bowl or a station appearance at a local car dealership, every event is crucial to building and maintaining your station brand. Today I’ll breakdown the five keys to a successful on-site event: Location, Branding, Staffing, Draw, and Promotion.
Location for a station event means more than where the event is. An event could be downtown, in the suburbs, on the north side, south side of the city or it could be halfway across the country. The location also refers to the venue. Is it a sports bar, car dealership, at a sporting event, a tailgate, a wireless store, a media day or convention?
Every potential venue has its pros and cons: foot traffic, access to guests, high/low visibility, acoustics, seating, lighting, food, even wifi. The key is to completely understand the venue well before the station event. If it’s local and you haven’t been there before, go do a site visit. If you’re at a stadium, how long is the walk from the locker room or dugout to your spot? Can you use wireless mics for interviews?
Having done a million (not an exact count) shows at restaurants or sports bars, here are the exact things you need at the location for these very common sports radio shows:
- Broadcast site: A central broadcast location with high visibility. A stage or riser and lights.
- Connectivity: Doing the show with an internet connection? Can you use the restaurant’s internet or do you need to install your own line? Also, how is the wifi in the venue for communication between the studio and the remote.
- Seating: There has to be good seating for the fans who come to the remote. Somewhere in the restaurant where they can sit and hear the show.
- Restaurant staff: Get the restaurant staff excited about the remote. Give them shirts and encourage your fans to tip well.
- Restaurant promotion: Have the restaurant promote on their marquee and any advertising and social media posts.
Yes, the station is making money on most remotes, but regardless of the size of the broadcast or appearance every on-site event is an extension of your brand. What branding opportunities do you have inside and outside of the location?
Through the years I have seen great upgrades in broadcast desks, step and repeats, and other forms of signage. Anyone entering the venue that day should know outside and inside the venue that your station is there and in a BIG way. Mics should have mic flags, waiters and waitresses should have your station t-shirts on. Your station should be visible all over that location.
Who is staffing the event? They are your representatives to your fans. Do they know your station, your brand? Do they know why you are at that location and everything that is going on? Do they look and act professionally?
Far too many times you see promotions interns or part-timers staffing events and they don’t know anything about the station, the show, or the event. Anyone can hang banners, but whoever you put out in public wearing your station name or call letters becomes an ambassador for your station. You have to make sure you have the right people with the right type of personality and that they are fully prepared before they arrive on-site.
What will draw fans to your remote? If you’re at a sporting event, people are already coming, but if you’re at a sports bar or car dealership you really have to create a draw. You can’t assume that station listeners will drop everything just to see your hosts, but you can create a draw if you plan for it. One great way to get fans out is with on-site guests. Typically a former player or coach of some note who fans would love to come meet, get their autograph, and hear them on the radio.
Other ways to draw fans to your broadcast is a big contest or giveaway. At a car dealership? Give someone who shows up to your broadcast a chance to win a car. Think big. People are busy and you need to find something unique to that location, time of year, or sporting event as an incentive to get people to come out to see you.
Rule #1–if the host(s) of the show are not excited about the event, the promotion of the event will suffer. No one is better at promoting an on-site event than the on-air hosts who will be there. If they are talking it up on air and on their social media feeds and are truly excited about it, people will show up. Use every tool you have in addition to the hosts promoting it. Live reads, social media, push alerts, recorded promos, homepage of the station website. You get it. Give it everything you have and let people know why this event is unique. Who they get to meet. What they can win. Make it big. Promote it bigger.
All of the areas above come down to planning, communication and execution. Look at these on-site opportunities at least a few weeks out and start talking about ideas for the remote. I remember in 1994 seeing the great rock morning show host at WXRT/Chicago, Lin Brehmer, prepping with his team coming up with ideas a few weeks before a remote. I was so impressed by everyone’s input and different thoughts about the broadcast. No stone was left unturned. It definitely left a mark that I remember to this day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
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.