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No One Is Out To Get Your Team

“Prepare, tell the fans what you see, and provide them with the facts and correct information. That’s all you can do.”

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With baseball in the national spotlight during the World Series, and the NFL in full swing, lots of sports fans are watching broadcasts on network television. There is something about these national telecasts the evoke ire and consternation with fanbases, calling coverage biased or insisting that the announcer is in some way jinxing their team. Seriously? 

Let’s take the issues separately. National broadcasts are regularly the subjects of criticism amongst local fans. The fans feel like the broadcast crew doesn’t know their team, doesn’t pronounce names correctly and doesn’t ever give their team proper credit.

The strange thing is this applies to BOTH of the teams’ audiences. If it’s a game between the Bears and Saints, Chicago fans will yell “biased coverage” and so will the New Orleans backers. You just can’t win. I’ve mentioned before that doing a national broadcast is tougher than it sounds. As a play-by-play announcer, showing excitement for big plays on either side will naturally be scrutinized by one side. It is a common tale. 

Image result for joe buck troy aikman

What are guys charged with doing a telecast being seen by the entire country supposed to do? Facts are facts. If it doesn’t paint your team in a positive light as a fan, you’re going to be upset. But really, it was your team that made or didn’t make the play that the broadcaster then comments on.

Yeah, that’s the real fact. It’s not the broadcaster’s fault that your team did or didn’t do what it was supposed to at that point. Joe Buck has nothing to do with the play!

Fans are going to see whatever they want and can spin it any way they want. You as a broadcaster can’t serve two masters. All these guys can and should do is their homework. If the play-by-play and color commentator know what they are talking about, that’s a good broadcast no matter what happens in the game. It’s the same on the local level. It’s all about being prepared for the game and knowing what is needed about each club.

Now let’s talk about the absurdity of the announcer jinx. Yes, from time to time during a broadcast, you’ll mention a fact that gets foiled on the next pitch. Jinx or coincidence? I vote the latter.

Play-by-Play, but First Up: Charting Stats, Hour by Hour - The New York  Times

We joke about it, saying, “Oh man we got him with that one.” The keyword there is “joke.” I googled “Announcer Jinx,” and was amazed at what I found. The first page of my search netted headlines like “Pat McAfee had a perfectly timed announcers jinx on blocked punt.” McAfee is a college football analyst on ESPN and praised one team’s special teams and then they gave up a blocked punt. Among the other headlines, “Fans Say TV Sports Announcer Jinxed Baltimore Ravens,” and “Stephen Gostkowski burned by TV announcer, graphics jinx…” Come on. 

Don’t get me wrong. This accusation of jinxing isn’t limited to national television, it applies to local broadcasts as well. I have myself been accused of being a jinx for the team I was covering. No joke. I’m sure if you broadcast at any level, this finger pointing has raised its ugly head. I noticed that Twitter was crushing me after a pitcher on the team I was calling games for gave up his first hit after I mentioned he was throwing a no-hitter. Really? He’s pitching for the team I’m calling games for.

If I really had the power to influence a game, would I use that power for good or evil? I’m thinking good. I’d love to call a no-no for my team. Then there’s the fact it’s radio, and people can’t see the score or know the situation. Yeah, I could have used some other tricks to indicate what he had without saying he had a no-hitter, but I had a responsibility to my audience at that point. I’m the only person at that point that can tell them what is actually going on. 

Should you change your approach? No. Some broadcasters will not use the words no-hitter and that’s fine, it’s your preference, but don’t short change your radio listener. Sometimes you have to be direct and spell it out. You may also hear from your executive producer or station manager saying, “Tell the people what is going on…”  Probably a good idea to follow that order. You have as much control over the game as the fan listening at home – NONE. 

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I know that baseball is a very superstitious sport. It’s taken very seriously inside clubhouses throughout the game, so naturally some players get upset when announcers break superstitions. But, remember, you are a broadcaster, you aren’t a player. It doesn’t matter and the notion that because you say the word and the next guy gets a hit is just laughable. Why in the world do people believe this, tweet about it and protest so vehemently about it? I don’t know. 

The moral of the story is this, understand that when doing a broadcast you aren’t going to make everyone happy. It’s ok. It’s the nature of the job. Stick to your principles and stay true to how you do what you do for a living. Prepare, tell the fans what you see, and provide them with the facts and correct information. That’s all you can do. 

Again, I wish I had the power fans think I do. If I did, I’d be playing the lottery every day and just before I bought my ticket I’d say, “Andy has never won big money in the lottery.” Hmm, I’ll be right back. 

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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