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Steven Spector Goes Digital

“I think nowadays you have to make it as easy as possible for people to listen to you. One of the best ways to do that is social media.”

Tyler McComas

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So you put together a good segment this week. Really good, in fact. The delivery was perfect, the take was solid, tons of reaction came in, everything about it just flowed nicely and made for a great segment of radio. But does anyone that wasn’t listening at that particular time know about it? If I didn’t hear it live, did you or your station make sure I could hear it on demand? 

Now more than ever, it’s critical that stations find ways to make their content more accessible. Why? Because content is more readily available than it ever has been. Think about it. Go on Twitter right now, scroll down and see how many links you can find on someone promoting a podcast, on-demand interview or a video. More than likely you’re going to see a bunch. That’s because everyone has the tools to make and create content that’s readily available to anyone that has something as simple as an iPhone. 

Fortunately, radio stations across the country are doing a better job of realizing the need for on-demand content and making it listener friendly. One station that’s really taken an initiative, is 610 Sports in Kansas City. Scroll down their profile page on Twitter and you’ll see links from relevant interviews during the day, as well as short audio clips that a host or guest said that were particularly intriguing. 

Image result for 610 kansas city

“It’s done very well for us,” said 610 Sports PD Steven Spector. “Sometimes people just don’t have 10 minutes to listen to a segment so we want to give them a little bit of both. If you only have two minutes, there’s the video for you, you can click it and its right there with easy access. If you’re intrigued and want to listen to the whole thing, boom, it’s right there as well. It’s really just a good way for us to get our content out there, because social media is the biggest marketing tool that most sports radio stations have. And frankly I think it just looks really good. I think it just looks better than writing a tease and saying, hey, click here.”

But as important as it is to get your content in front of the listener via social media, you’re also now seeing the growing demand for stations to produce content outside of their regular programming. Most notably, this is happening through podcasts. It’s not enough anymore to be good from 6 am to 6 pm over the air, you better be providing entertaining on-demand content the listener can consume to their liking. Some stations use the podcasts to better evaluate talent. Some are using it as another source of income for the station. But at 610 Sports, it’s all about creating content-specific podcasts to better suit the listener. 

“I look at it as a way to bring Kansas City under the roof of 610 Sports Radio,” said Spector. “We live in such a unique market with, not just a professional sports teams, but with three college teams and some other minor league stuff. For example, we may not talk a ton about an upcoming Kansas State game because the biggest population may not want to hear about it. That’s what the podcast network is all about, it’s trying to bring as many people as we can into the radio station and cover a bunch of different sports. While we may not be able to do it on air from 6 am to 6 pm we still want to be the station that provides you the best content for the teams that you care about the most.”

From the Mizzou Tigers, to fantasy football, to a gambling podcast done by Spector himself, in all, 610 Sports has 16 different podcasts under the station’s umbrella. You really have to appreciate the station’s commitment to fulfill the content of what the listener desires. Ideally, all those podcasts would be sponsored and sold. In due time, that will happen for 610 Sports, but it isn’t necessarily the immediate goal. 

“I think everyone in radio is still trying to figure out how to sell the podcast world in some sense,” said Spector. “When we started this back in April it was really about content. The way that I’ve looked at it is we want to focus on the content first and make sure we have the best content out there. Then, we’ll worry about the sales side of it. It’s something I’m in contact with our sales department about, but for the most part, and it’s our first year, it’s about creating the best content for listeners.”

Earlier this week I was listening to a couple of the new Barrett Sports Media podcasts that JB just put out (you should do that too). Near the open during one particular episode, he made a comment on how there’s no rules in podcasting. He can talk about whatever he wants, or what the consumers of the podcast wants him to talk about it. No rules also means you can say every swear word in the book without being fined. That’s how some go about hosting their podcast. But even if there’s technically no FCC rules, what about if you’re doing a podcast that has a station’s name attached to it? 

“I sit down with each of my hosts and weight out that cursing, and that type of stuff, is not the brand and the style I want out there,” Spector said. “That being said, if you slip up during a passionate take and say something like an S word, I’m not going to crush you for it. I want the best content out there and I don’t think that necessarily involves cursing.”

Above all, Spector wants good content. That’s clear. But in no way is he using the station podcasts as a Minor League system. Still, it doesn’t hurt, if you’re one of the hosts, to showcase your abilities behind the mic. That’s why most of us got into this business, right? Reps only make you better, regardless if they come via a podcast or an afternoon drive show. Plus, it’s a great way to build a following and get your voice out to the listeners. Simply put, if you’re someone striving for more air-time at your station, presenting the idea of hosting a podcast to your PD might be the most constructive thing you can do. 

“It’s also another avenue for, hopefully down the line, at being sponsored, where you get a talent fee.  It’s not only another revenue stream for the station but the talent, as well. It’s great for guys who aren’t getting as much air time as they want, they can get behind a mic and get more comfortable, which will only help for that day when they do need to fill-in on the air. Plus, down the line when they’re looking for other jobs, they can point to it and say, hey, I’ve been doing this for a while.”

Spector himself has even got into the fun by hosting the Pray for the Push podcast that centers on sports gambling. Sure, he’s now a PD of a successful station, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t get into the business with the aspiration of being on the air.

“From just a personal perspective, I love sports gambling content,” said Spector. “It just gives me an outlet to stay behind the mic and have a little bit of fun. I think people are enjoying the content and the more the sports gambling becomes mainstream I think the more and more you’re going to see stuff like I’m doing pop up. Sports gambling is just becoming a totally different market in the sports radio space.”

Image result for steven spector 610

Expect to see more of a concentrated effort by stations to take note and follow what brands such as 610 Sports is doing, Spector and his team are not only exceling at creating additional content, but putting it in front of the listener to make it the most accessible. 

“I want content out there,” Spector said. “I think nowadays you have to make it as easy as possible for people to listen to you. One of the best ways to do that is social media. Here’s the link, click it if you want to and listen to what we’re doing. I found that if you put out the link of segments that have already been done, that seems to get better traction as opposed to, coming up in 15 minutes we’ll have on guest X.”

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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