Piper is a 6 year old midsized pitbull. Her grey coat is broken up only by the occasional white strip around her paws and between her eyes. Her right ear tends to flop onto her head pointing the same direction as her left – giving off the impression that she’s constantly either stretching or mid-dance move. She was rescued earlier this year by Kate Scott and her wife Nicole and the three are madly in love.
Kate and Nicole had always liked the idea of getting a dog, but career ambition put the pursuit of a furry friend on the back burner for years. Over the last decade, as Nicole was carving out a career for herself in architecture – Kate was doing the same in the Bay Area sports media scene.
After roughly 15 minutes of Piper talk, Kate reluctantly agrees to talk about herself. That’s the funny think about Kate. Grab anyone affiliated with sports in the Bay Area and they’re thrilled to talk “Kate Scott.” It’s a subject no one is lost for words on. In fact, “Love” almost always precedes her name when it’s brought up.
Right around the time Piper graced Kate and Nicole’s home this Spring – Kate was in talks with The Athletic’s Tim Kawikami about hosting a podcast for the site’s growing network. Just this week, The Update launched. It’s a quick, comprehensive look at Bay Area sports designed to keep subscribers privy to just about every storyline in the market. In a relatively short amount of time, Kate has made herself an ideal candidate for this gig – and she’s done it all by simply staying true to herself.
The path to being one of the Bay Area’s most recognizable public figures started at Clovis High School. By her junior year, Kate wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do – she just knew she loved people. Growing up, she always thought highly of her teachers – so much so that she told Mr. Schmalzel that she wanted to pursue a career in education.
“He pretty much said that’s awesome, but no,” recalls Scott, her voice mixed with equal parts reverence and gratitude when speaking about Ed Schmalzel.
Mr. Schmalzel pushed Kate to follow her charm and love of people into broadcasting in some capacity – something the teenage sports fanatic had never really considered. With the support of a trusted mentor, Scott had a career in mind – then the hard work began.
She chose Cal over UCLA, a decision she’s never thought twice of since. Early on in her Freshman year, she noticed a group of guys leading cheers at different sporting events and thought to herself; “how do I do that?”
Unknown to Kate at the time, the “Mic Men” at Cal was an exclusive boys club. Never in the history of the school had a female been a member of the rabble rousing group.
Unknown to the shirt, tie and khaki wearing dude’s crew, Kate Scott isn’t one to be deterred from barriers. Making history, she joined the group and quickly became one of it’s most popular members – among the student body and beyond.
“I would have older female alums come up to me and just thank me. They told me how much they wanted to join the Mic Men when they were in school – and now they’re cheering louder for me.”
This personal connection with fans would develop into a bit of a theme over the course of Scotts’ career.
When Kate wasn’t losing her voice on the courts and fields of Berkeley, she was writing and building her television reel for the small market sports anchor job she was sure to get as soon as she graduated.
“No one wanted me,” Kate offers with a self deprecating laugh that is as rare as it is endearing.
“I remember sending out VHS tapes, which were all awful, to stations all over the place and never heard from anyone.”
She went to work waiting tables in Berkeley, pouring wine in Napa and keeping a foot squarely in the door of the industry with an internship at Alice 97.3’s Sarah and No Name in San Francisco.
It was during this stretch where she met Nicole on a night out in San Francisco. She had no career to speak of – but she had found her soulmate. Suddenly, the early career struggles so many in Kate’s position face seemed a little easier to handle.
When her 6 month internship with Alice expired, Kate was once again in full on opportunity-hunt mode. Her contacts led her to John Atkinson and a company now called Total Traffic and Weather Network. She was brought on as a reporter/producer and asked to do updates on a number of Bay Area radio stations. They hours were crazy, the shifts were inconsistent – but she was working on air in her dream market.
As she tends to do, Kate created quite a reputation for herself in the San Francisco radio community and eventually earned a position as a fulltime update anchor and personality on KNBR – bantering daily with the market’s biggest names.
When asked about his first impression of Kate, Brian Murphy has no shortage of kind words.
“Prepared, disciplined, diligent, focused. All the adjectives you would want in a coworker,” explains Murphy, half of the KNBR’s Murph and Mac.
“She combined a sense of humor with a real desire to be her best every day.”
Kate never thought radio would be the medium to launch her career, but she was slowly becoming a key part of the Bay Area’s morning commute. As her brand grew and developed, she found herself in another position to break down a barrier. Although a progressive market, San Francisco did not have many openly gay media members when she joined KNBR fulltime.
“I had such a supportive family, Nicole’s family was supportive, we were in a great position. I know so many families who were not speaking because their son or daughter was gay – I thought if anyone should be out it should be me,” reasons Kate.
With the unconditional support of Murph and Mac, Kate discussed her relationship with Nicole as casually as anyone would share anecdotes about their spouse.
“It was ground-breaking at KNBR to have an openly gay on-air persona, but Kate approached it with such normalcy, the listeners, and her co-workers, went from thinking it was revolutionary and different to … totally normal,” remembers Murphy.
The surging popularity of Twitter at the time of Kate’s move to KNBR was both a blessing and a curse.
“It could not have been easy at all to endure any stone-aged criticism, but true to her professional ways, she never wavered or let on that any critics were getting to her.”
Ask Kate about those early days of being an openly gay media personality and she won’t hesitate to say there were some awful messsages. Her voice dips slightly when trying to recall the tweets verbatim, but it almost feels like discussing the negativity makes her stronger. As if pretending like hatred doesn’t exist in the world does us all a disservice.
In the same breath, she’ll bring up the scores of support she received from listeners as well.
“I had people reach out telling I was a talking point within their family as they struggled with their child coming out. So many people just thanking me in different ways for being out.”
She never sought out to be a symbol of gay rights in the Bay Area – but she refused to back away from the responsibility when it fell upon her.
“I was just being me,” Kate shrugs, as if to deflect any praise.
After a few years of just “being herself” on KNBR, Kate started getting television opportunities. Soon, after helping out with a number of high school football and San Jose Quakes games, Kate began working more and more with the newly launched PAC-12 Network in downtown San Francisco. Her role with the PAC started as a part time halftime host but quickly expanded to play by play duties. As you might expect, it wasn’t long before she captured the hearts of her new co-workers.
“She’s authentic. You feel like you’ve known her for 20 years after hanging out with her for 20 minutes,” describes Ashley Adamson. “She shows up – as a friend and a colleague – better than almost anyone I’ve ever been around in this business.”
Kate’s uncanny ability to impress those around her led to more history in August of 2016. A number of scheduling conflicts left a vacancy in the radio play by play booth for two Niners games – a vacancy Kate got the call to fill. It was then that Cal’s first female member of the “Mic Men” became the first woman to call an NFL game on the radio.
Ever humble, Kate’s response to that milestone is very “Kate.”
“People always omit the fact that they were preseason games.”
After nearly two years, Kate’s expanding role at the PAC-12 and elsewhere put her in a tough position with KNBR.
“I hate it when I’m working with people on a project or a production who aren’t 100% committed, and it wasn’t long before I was looking around and realized I was that person more often than I realized.”
Kate tried to make her morning shift at KNBR work with the new PAC-12 evening demands for 18 months. That meant sleeping in her car in the middle of the day more times than she’d care to admit.
By Christmas 2016, Kate and the station mutually decided to part ways allowing Kate to continue to grow with the PAC-12 and other opportunities. She recognizes she owes a lot to her time with KNBR, and didn’t realize how much she would miss radio.
Enter The Update via The Athletic and Kate has found the perfect avenue to continue her radio career.
At first glance – you can see why Kate and Nicole finally got their Piper in 2019. It’s a time in their lives both women have firmly established themselves professionally and you wouldn’t blame them for getting complacent. Of course, you’d be wrong.
“I’m striving everyday to get better on television and through the podcast,” declares Kate. “I still have dreams to broadcast the Olympics and the World Cup.”
There’s not a lot of people who know Kate who would doubt her ambition.
“Kate has done very single thing she’s ever put her mind to,” adds Ashley Adamson.
“If I were a betting woman (and I had a life savings) I would put my life savings on it. Kate Scott is a star, in every sense of the word, and I’m just grateful to be in the same galaxy.”
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.