It was during the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans that I gained a new level of respect for Chris Broussard. He flew to The Big Easy for the NBA weekend, but we had a show to do for FOX Sports Radio on the same Saturday evening as the Slam Dunk Contest and 3-Point Shootout. Instead of attending the events in person, Chris made arrangements to use a studio in town to knock out the show. I mentioned to Chris that he has clout and could’ve easily blown off the show by taking the night off. He responded, “Hey, you gotta go to work, right?”
Amen to that. Although Chris had firmly established himself in the sports media world, he didn’t forget about the ingredients that made him successful in the first place. His determination and work ethic have always been apparent. Beyond that, Chris is genuinely a great dude. He is easy to get along with and has many other great attributes: smart, funny, talented, and a winning attitude. That combination is rare. Overvaluing Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is one of the only things I can actually call out Chris for. Other than that, he checks every box you could want. Hear him on FSR’s The Odd Couple with Rob Parker weekdays from 4-7pm PT. Read about his career path and astute sports radio views below. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: What do you enjoy most about being in sports radio now that you’re a full-time host?
Chris Broussard: Unlike television you get more room to express your views. I’ve been doing TV for almost 20 years on a national level. TV is great. I love it, but you’re limited in how long you get to speak, particularly in my case when I’m typically a guest or an analyst. I don’t have my own television show so I’m not on for hours at a time.
When I’m on as a guest on shows, you only have so long to speak. Whereas on radio having my own show — our show now is three hours, when you and I did it, it was four hours — you get a lot longer to share what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling. You can really get out all of the points you want to. That’s what I really appreciate about radio.
BN: When you went full-time as a sports radio host did you find yourself listening to more sports radio, not to copy people, but to get a feel for other styles?
CB: I had listened before I even started doing sports radio. I would listen to Colin a lot. I would listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning a lot, Stephen A Smith, just some of the better shows out there. You do pick up things when you’re in the business, but I haven’t consciously said I like that Colin Cowherd does this, so let me try to incorporate that. I’ve just been myself and I think that’s important.
Obviously you can learn things from different people. When I was a writer, I would read some of my favorite writers and study how they did different things and maybe try to incorporate it into my style and put my particular flavor on it. I’m not against that, but I have seen people try to copy something Colin does or something someone else does and it doesn’t work because it’s not natural.
I think the key to radio and television in the position that I’m in is being natural, being yourself, letting your own personality shine forth. Because you know, Brian, in this business there is a very big you-either-have-it-or-you-don’t factor. It’s not just technical. There are guys who are great technically; coming in and out of breaks they never make mistakes. All of that is perfect, but they may not have that it factor, that chemistry with the co-host, that energy on the air, that charisma, just something about their personality that people really are drawn to. I just try to be myself. Obviously Rob Parker and I have great chemistry. That really carries the day more so than trying to copy this guy or that guy.
BN: What do you love most about Rob and what drives you the crazy about him?
CB: (Laughs) Rob really is a great guy. You know him. He is the epitome of a people person. He’s very unselfish. At Christmas he bought just about everybody at FOX Sports Radio a gift. He bought me a really nice gift, a painting of the two of us for our show. He’s just a really great guy. I love that he’s a mentor to so many people in the business and he’s really helped a lot of people get into the business. Just him as a person, he’s just a great guy overall.
There’s nothing I don’t like about him. His takes are crazy a lot of times. Sometimes they’re on point. He’s actually had a really good year in terms of his predictions. As with anybody — I’ve debated Skip Bayless, Nick Wright, Shannon Sharpe, Stephen A. Smith — and sometimes, which I’m sure is the case with me as well, you’re critical of a guy for various reasons, but then when there’s a guy that you support, you overlook those same criticisms. If Rob is critical of Tom Brady and he’ll say well Brady didn’t throw a touchdown in the Super Bowl last year so he doesn’t get credit. He got carried, but yet he’s very supportive of Aaron Rodgers. So when the Packers win without Aaron Rodgers throwing a touchdown, he praises Aaron. I point out those contradictions and we have fun with it. You can always find little things like that in different guys when they debate. It’s my job to point that out and I do.
BN: (Laughs) You don’t have a problem doing that, right?
CB: (Laughs) Right, but we have a lot of fun. I’ll tell you the thing is that some of Rob’s takes are so out there, or I disagree with them so adamantly, that it makes for really great radio. You just go back and forth over a topic and you really debate with each other. It’s a lot of fun.
BN: Yeah, and it fits the name of the show and how you promote it and all of that.
CB: Very much so.
BN: If you start from the beginning — not just sports radio — how did you initially break into sports media and then work your way up?
CB: Well, like a lot of people I grew up as a humongous sports fan. Sports were essentially my life. I played football, basketball, and baseball throughout high school. I played basketball in college and was always a gifted writer. As an elementary school student I was able to write really well. I enjoyed English class. I used to even write rhymes, like raps and stuff like that. I just really tried to combine something I enjoyed, which was sports, with something that I was gifted at, which was writing. That’s really how I decided that I wanted to try to be a sports writer.
I had a summer internship at the Cleveland Plain Dealer after my junior year of college, which really was my breakthrough. They hired me the following year after I graduated from college. For the first nine months to a year, I was just sitting in the office answering telephones. Then they taught me how to work the computers. Every newspaper has a record page where it has all the transactions, statistics, and the standings. I learned how to do that. I was in the office for nine months to a year just doing that stuff every day from 3pm to 12 midnight.
Then I got promoted. I was writing virtually every day covering high school sports. I covered high school sports for three or four years. I left the Cleveland Plain Dealer and went to the Akron Beacon Journal. It was a smaller paper. It was there that I got my break and started covering the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers. From there my career kind of took off.
About three years after going to the Beacon Journal, I went to the New York Times and I started covering the Nets and the Knicks. Being in New York I got exposure to television. I did a little local television. Then I started doing some ESPN TV while I was still with the New York Times. I started doing television more and more.
When I went to ESPN I went to write for ESPN: The Magazine. It was a magazine contract with the understanding that I would do some television. I did more and more television and less writing to the point that when I left ESPN, I was hardly doing any writing. I was basically all television. Now at FOX Sports, I’m all television and radio. I don’t do any writing whatsoever.
BN: Do you miss the writing part of it?
CB: I think the best part about writing stories for ESPN: The Magazine was the time you got to spend with the athletes. When you write a magazine story on a player or a coach or whoever, you really spend a lot of time with them. Unlike newspapers, I would go and I would be with a guy for three days or longer. I went to Italy to do a story on Brandon Jennings when he was playing over there. I spent two weeks there and I was with him virtually every day, him and his family, eating dinner, hanging out. That time when you really get to know the athletes, that’s the best thing about it and that’s what I miss.
Also great trips, I got to go to Africa because of ESPN: The Magazine. I got to go to Europe. That travel and those experiences were great. That’s what you miss, but sitting down and actually writing a story, I don’t miss that. I was a perfectionist. Like a lot of writers I labored over every word. One of my colleagues, Tom Friend, at ESPN: The Magazine, I thought he put it perfectly. One time we were in a meeting and he said writing is painful. When you really take it seriously, writing is painful for a lot of us. That’s how I was. I really wanted to make everything great.
BN: Do you think the lack of diversity in sports radio is a problem?
CB: Yeah, I do think television has a solid amount of diversity though. You’ve got Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman with Molly Qerim as the host. So there is diversity there. You’ve got Shannon Sharpe, Skip Bayless, and Jenny Taft as the host. Wilbon and Kornheiser. Most of the sports talk television shows that we can think of — Speak For Yourself with Jason Whitlock and Marcellus Wiley, you’ve got Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre on High Noon — you can point to diversity on sports television. I think in front of the camera, television wise, the diversity is pretty good based on what I see on the national level.
Now locally it may not be where it needs to be. I’m not sure of that. I think behind the scenes you need to get more diversity. The people making some of the decisions, producers and things like that. I think television just from what I see is far ahead of radio. I don’t think there is nearly enough diversity in sports radio. Rob and I — and I may be wrong so I’m not going to say this definitively — but we may be the only two African-American hosts to have a national radio show.
I know there were the 2 Live Stews in Atlanta years ago, but they weren’t really a national show. It was more so local in Atlanta. I don’t know, again I may be missing someone, but I don’t know that there’s been two African-American co-hosts on a national radio show other than myself and Rob. I don’t think there are two that weren’t athletes. There may be one who was a broadcaster and one who is an ex-athlete. It shows you that there is not nearly enough diversity in radio.
I think in radio you do need more diversity because obviously the sports themselves are very diverse. Beyond that though the audiences are diverse. If you only have one group represented in radio or television, then you’re really only getting that one group’s perspective. For those reasons and even more I think it’s definitely important to have diversity.
BN: Do you approach your show thinking, hey man I’ve got to do a good job and bring it because I want the door to be open for the next black broadcaster? Is that ever on your mind?
CB: I wouldn’t say it’s on your mind like that. Obviously you recognize as an African American that if you do well that opens up the door for other African Americans to follow you. In that regard you’re conscious of it. It could be also some motivation that unfortunately people may be judging black people as a whole on how well Rob and I do. That can lead you to be a little extra motivated to do well, but certainly when you’re on the air you’re not thinking about that because you just have be in the moment and be focused on the sports.
To be honest you’re going to do your best when you’re just focused on what’s going on right then and there. We obviously appreciate and certainly want to reach the African American audience, but we want to reach everybody. We seem to have a very wide range of diverse listeners from white, to black, to Hispanic, various races and ethnicities. Even sometimes we get calls from women so I’m sure we have a decent number of women listening. While we are cognizant of that we certainly want to reach everybody and not just one racial group.
BN: If you were able to map out what you’ll be involved in professionally over the next five or 10 years, what do you think would make you the happiest?
CB: I would want a television show whether it was like The Odd Couple being simulcast or being put on television, or it was another show that I became a host of or a co-host of. It’s not going to kill me if I don’t get it. I’ve had a successful career. I’m doing well now. I’m happy and content with where I’m at. As far as the next step that I would like to get to, that would be it.
I would love for The Odd Couple to be treated like The Herd where it was a radio show on television. I would prefer that to doing The Odd Couple as a TV show and still doing it as a radio show. I would take that, don’t get me wrong, but I would prefer it be all in one kind of like The Herd is. Whether or not that happens who knows? But that would be ideal as the next step.
BN: When you wake up, what motivates you to do a great show? Is it that you just simply want to do a great show, or are you a competitive person where you want to prove people wrong who look at you only as a reporter or writer? How are you wired in terms of why you prepare to do good work?
CB: That’s a good question. You have your personal pride where you just want to do well. Doing well is obviously having the right information, having strong points and opinions that you can back up, and being entertaining. When you’re doing what you’re meant to do, I don’t believe you think about it too much. I think you just do it because if you’re thinking too much about it, it may not be what you’re meant to do.
Think about the great athletes, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Drew Brees or whoever it may be and how they can perform at their best when millions of people are watching and ready criticize them if they don’t do well. Just how you can keep your cool, how you can treat it like every other game in that situation. I think it’s because they’re meant to do that. You and I are looking at it like this is the biggest game of the year, and they’re looking at it like, man this is what I do. That’s kind of how it is with me.
I used to say this when I’d go speak to kids at colleges or wherever, when I wrote for the New York Times my average game story was about 900 words. If you had told me in college that this is what I was going to be doing, and it’s for the New York Times, and it’s going to be all over the country — because at that time before the internet was big, seeing your story in the airports all over the country was a huge deal — if you had told me I was going to do that, I may have said wow, there’s no way I’m doing that.
The pressure and the big games — I wrote about Michael Jordan’s last game. I was there at his first game as a Washington Wizard. I was at LeBron’s first game in the NBA. I wrote about that. If you had told me those things, I might have been like man, I don’t know that I can do that. But when I got in those situations you just do it. Fortunately I was able to do it well. I think when you’re doing what you’re meant to do; you don’t have to overthink it.
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.