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Ad Copy Is Annoying But It Matters

“Make your call, allow your analyst to break the play down, then, because the pace of the game allows, you can get in that ad. It’s only obtrusive if you allow it to be.”

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“That fly ball out is brought to you by…ACME Pest Control to get the flies out of your house choose ACME.” Ok, maybe that’s extreme, and by the way made up by me, but you’ve heard the “drop-ins” on your favorite sports radio broadcast. Let’s face it, as much of an intrusion as these “reads” can be, they allow the station to afford the broadcast rights fees and allow them to pay, you!

When it comes to baseball, everything seems to be sponsored, from the time and temperature to save opportunities all can be seen as money-making opportunities. They have to be, because the cost of doing business with a professional sports team on radio isn’t cheap. There are those occasions where the team and the station enter into a revenue share, even in these cases revenue has to be generated to be shared. See what I’m saying? 

Image result for baseball radio broadcast

Creativity has to reign supreme when it comes to sponsorships during radio broadcasts of sporting events. Why? You have to keep an audience and why not entertain when you are trying to sell. Sometimes it’s just being innovative.

For a few years Chicago White Sox home games started at 7:11pm, with a sponsorship by who else? 7-11. Makes sense doesn’t it? A team on the West Coast has a “Shake up play of the game”, which is sponsored by the California Earthquake Authority. Seems pretty obvious. As the game evolves so do the sponsorship opportunities. Now that replay challenges are a part of baseball and other sports, one baseball team calls it, “The Barbasol Close Shave Challenge” when a manager requests a replay. Clever and clean. Fun. 

There are obvious tie ins that come along in baseball games. “What’s on Tap” brought to you by a beer advertiser. “Diamond Notes” sponsored by a local jeweler. “Who’s hot and Who’s Cold” coming to you from an HVAC company. Or the “Catch of the Day” served up by a local fish restaurant. Corny, but effective and fun to play off of if you’re doing the game. 

Baseball games allow you a little more time to spend reading these in game commercials. Situations automatically lead to “read” or “card”. Double plays, stolen bases, home runs and strike outs are usually the plays that lend themselves to advertising. If one of those plays happen, you read. It’s simple right?

Not exactly.

Make your call, allow your analyst to break the play down, then, because the pace of the game allows, you can get in that ad. It’s only obtrusive if you allow it to be. Sometimes you can even go back several batters later if the moment doesn’t allow for that ad to run at that particular time. This is the beauty of baseball and its slower rate of play than other sports. Even if it’s the next half inning you can say, “the stolen base by Player X in the top of this inning was sponsored by…”. Just get the copy read. 

Football and basketball broadcasts almost work the same way as baseball. Yes, there are a lot of in game sponsorship cards to read and yes it can seem overwhelming at times. The fact is there is enough down time in these faster moving sports to get plenty of these sponsorships into the broadcast.

Image result for basketball radio broadcasters

In football, the time between plays is 40 seconds, most of the reads (if they’re written well) are between :10-:15 seconds. That’s plenty of time for the call, analysis and a sponsor read. The exception is a hurry up offense, but again, you can use the baseball trick by referring back to a play several moments after it happens. Nothing lost by either the announcer, listener or advertiser. Basketball has its definite moments of availability when it comes to sponsorships. If the starting lineups are sponsored that’s an easy one to get in moments before tip-off. Others can be read during and in between free throws, or going into or coming out of time outs. Plenty of time to take your time and give the advertiser all the value added content to keep them happy. 

Hockey broadcasts do make it a bit tougher to work in these advertisements. The game moves so quickly and especially if a “time in the game” is sponsored (ie, 15-minute mark, sponsored by that insurance company) try to get it in as close to that time as the game allows. You can’t sweat it. No advertiser worth its salt would argue with the timing. They don’t want to be intrusive into the flow of a game, they only want their copy read in a professional manner as close to that time as you can get. 

More and more these days, not only do you have to be good at play-by-play or color commentary, you need to be a salesman. Believe me, after 162 games of baseball, it can get uber repetitive and monotonous but it’s part of the gig these days.

Remember that you are there to call a game, first and foremost, that’s the job you were hired to do. At the same time, announcers have to understand that while it can get frustrating, business has to be conducted. Yes, sponsorships sometimes can ruin the flow of conversation and intrude on the game itself at times, but remember there’d be no broadcast without them. 

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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