5TH ranked Oklahoma hosted West Virginia last weekend in the Big Noon Saturday game on Fox. Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt had the call on the network as they do most Saturday afternoons. The lopsided game made for an interesting and uncharacteristic broadcast from the team in the booth.
As I watched the early parts of the game, Johnson didn’t seem like himself. He seemed rather reserved for what I’m used to hearing from him. Normally, Johnson has to be belted to his seat for even an average play, no matter when it happens. It almost seemed like he felt this was predestined to be an Oklahoma rout and it was.
The mismatch it looked like came to fruition and it makes for a tough broadcast because of what’s going on. Johnson stayed on point though and truthfully, I appreciated his more toned-down demeanor. He was solid on all of his calls and would slip in a few of his exaggerations when appropriate.
Johnson would do his best to drop in some of his, for lack of a better term, Johnson-isms. “Oklahoma, moving, grooving, up 14 zip.” On a touchdown pass from Jalen Hurts to Charleston Rambo, elicited a “Rrrrrambo” from Gus. But, perhaps the moment of the game was an accident. The Sooner Schooner, the covered wagon, driven by two horses, tipped over, spilling the two passengers on the schooner. A male and a female. The female rider stuck the landing according to Johnson, when Fox showed the replay of the tilt. “Watch her ability to roll when she hit the ground… Nice roll! They teach you that in ju-jitsu Joel.” Vintage Johnson. Thankfully all involved (horses included) were okay.
You could say that Johnson is a polarizing figure in the announcing world. Seems like people either like him or dislike him, there are no in between feelings. Now, he’s not usually my cup of tea, don’t get me wrong, as an announcer myself, it’s not my style of calling a game.
I’m not ripping his style at all. I give him credit, because he’s developed this style over many years of broadcasting, whether it be basketball or football. He’s true to his way and can pull it off. Johnson has had a very successful career too, so just because it’s not the way I’d do it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I respect the fact he is himself, no matter the game. He is a professional and understands the role of the play-by-play man.
Johnson all game did a great job of leading Klatt into some of the main focuses of the game, to set the stage for what we may or may not see later in the game. This broadcast team works well together, when Klatt makes a point on Oklahoma’s QB Jalen Hurts being dangerous outside the pocket as a runner, Johnson says “over 600 yards on the ground for him already this season”. Set ‘em up and knock ‘em down. I like to hear that cohesiveness.
Klatt is a solid analyst. The former Colorado Buffalo quarterback clearly knows the game of football. Knowing football and being able to relate it to the fans, is not mutually exclusive. Klatt has a very relatable style and doesn’t really talk down to the casual fan. There’s not a lot of fanfare in his analysis, no crazy sound effects or catch phrases, just solid explanations. Working with Johnson, anything resembling more than just the facts would be a difficult thing to sell on a viewer. It would be overload.
Klatt has a good grip on the entire scope of the college game. He can talk intelligently about all aspects surrounding the game. He has a unique ability to relay the information in a very natural way. It seems like his early work as a studio host has served him well, having to prepare for all eventualities and learning how to work alongside other personalities.
You can tell Klatt did his homework for this game. He made a point early on about the DB’s for Oklahoma being told to be more physical and not afraid of getting penalized. Klatt said that the coaching staff said it would live with a few holding or pass interference calls if the backs would continue to play with physicality. Klatt added that the coaches wanted the secondary to force the officials to make calls. Interesting information especially after two terrific coverage plays by the Sooners.
From a production standpoint the big stories were covered and pretty well. Austin Kendall returned to Oklahoma as a member of the West Virginia team after transferring. A good story from sideline reporter Jenny Taft on one of Kendall’s former teammates leaving the QB a surprise in his locker, a Kendall bobblehead. Good stuff.
I mentioned Twitter before and there’s another mini-controversy brewing regarding Johnson. Ok, maybe controversy is too strong a word for what is actually happening.
So, Fox calls its main Saturday broadcast Big Noon Saturday. Some claim to hear Johnson calling it, “Big Nude Saturday’ instead. I thought, there is no way this could actually be the case.
I think I’m wrong. Coming out of one of the early breaks, Johnson, to me, clearly said nude, not noon. I stopped the DVR, rolled it back, pushed play, listened again and yup, nude. Is he doing this on purpose? Could he be? The world may never know.
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.