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Making What You Learned In New York Work Back Home

“Like everyone else, I have a long list of notes, but I almost don’t even know where to start in terms of implementing all the new ideas.”

Tyler McComas

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It was a fascinating sight to see as I looked in the audience during the first panel of the BSM Summit last week. Granted, the backs of about 200 heads were in full-view from my position in the very back row of the theatre, but also in sight, were computers, notepads, notebooks and anything else that could be used to take notes. 

Judging by the sounds of pounding keyboards, pens going furiously to paper and notebook pages quickly turning, people showed up serious about learning. I was even shown by a couple of attendees the amount of notes they took during the two-day event. It looked like they were studying for a chemistry final in college. 

How much each attendee learned was shared even more during the numerous backstage interviews I conducted throughout the two-day event. Armen Williams of 610 Sports in Houston really took away Pat McAfee’s ability to share locker room stories but still make himself the butt of the joke. Williams noted that’s helpful when trying to talent coach ex-athletes into new radio roles. 

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Rodney Lakin of 98.7 FM Arizona Sports took away the future of the business with podcasting and younger audiences. He even added, “I think that’s the question moving forward.”

Other notable takeaways were:

“At Sirius XM we don’t play the PPM game, but the listening principles that go along with the PPM game apply to us as well. Just because they have a satellite button in their car doesn’t mean our commute is 25 minutes longer. They don’t have all these other options. So to hear the best practices from some of the smartest people in the biz, that’s stuff I take back with me.” – Jason Dixon of SiriusXM Sports

“Just being able to be out there and talk about the virtues of what we’re trying to do and how it is a relationship between us and the local markets. That’s really what it’s all about.” – Justin Craig of ESPN Radio

“It’s a lot of dynamic and interesting content. The most important thing that happens or doesn’t happen at a conference is taking notes. I was taking notes this morning, so that’s a win.”- Steven Goldstein of Amplifi Media

“I just like to hear the programmers talk about how it fits and all the different challenges they have. We’re knuckleheads. We just go the games, do our jobs and go home, but everything that goes into making it fit in a radio station make it interesting to hear.” – Bob Wischusen of ESPN

“I think we’re all aligned in disruption and growth of our business moving forward.” – Susan Larkin of Entercom.

“I think the most important thing is the passion.” – Erica Farber of Radio Advertising Bureau.

“I heard a lot of passion. I heard a lot of interesting stories. And I heard very unique ways on how we got to this point. That’s great to hear.” – Brandon Tierney

The great thing about those responses is that just about everyone had a different main takeaway from the event. That can only mean the information given was relevant from the beginning of the summit all the way to the end. Which, goes back to why so many attendees left with pages full of notes. 

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But that also brings us to the next conversation. 

So you’re back from New York City and trying to settle in the routine of your daily grind. You arrived at your office Monday morning with pages full of ideas on how to make your station better. That’s great, it’s why you came to the BSM Summit. But the ultimate question is simple: Now what? 

I had that prevailing thought on Monday, when I told the owner of the station I’m employed at, that I wanted to sit down this week and discuss the ideas that came out of the BSM Summit. Like everyone else, I have a long list of notes, but I almost don’t even know where to start in terms of implementing all the new ideas. 

So instead of trying to figure that out by myself, I asked various industry professionals such as Scott Shapiro of Fox Sports Radio

“It’s all about content,” Shapiro said. “There’s no question about it. At the end of the day, It doesn’t matter if you’re local or national, big market, small market, it’s about premium content and creating the best content possible.” 

My best advice would be to sit down and prioritize what’s most important to your station. Maybe, if you haven’t already, that could lead to some self-evaluation of the strengths and weakness of your station. If the imaging could stand to be vastly improved, look at your notes from Jim Cutler’s panel. If you want your station to explore more podcasting or alter the way it’s creating them, take a peek on what you wrote down during Steven Goldstein’s time on stage. 

The beauty of the information given at the BSM Summit is that it’s not one size fits all. A nugget of information on sales may hit differently with Jim Graci’s station in Pittsburgh than it does with Mitch Rosen’s station in Chicago. Don’t try and implement everything in one day. Figure out what’s most important and start your checklist to achieve more sales and better content. 

Every panel had relevant information on how to improve. It’s just up to you to figure out the right strategy to implement it. 

BSM Writers

Jason Barrett Podcast: Rich Eisen, NFL Network

Jason Barrett

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Rich Eisen reveals how he ended up partnering with Stuart Scott, the moment he knew he made the right move joining the NFL Network, and the influence standup comedy had on his broadcast career.

iTunes: https://buff.ly/3nTJC5K 

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3z9hErM

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3oyi0U0

Google: https://buff.ly/3vh7Tqu

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3w9hqAh

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Does FOX Need West Coast College Football Success?

“I think we are all looking forward to the twelve team playoff and I don’t know if it matters as much as it did in the last eight years.”

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Don’t believe them. Don’t believe those people that try to sell you on the idea that a given sport is better if a given team in said sport is good. You know, college football is better when Notre Dame is good. Maybe they tell you college basketball is better when UCLA is good. Might they say the NFL is better when the Dallas Cowboys are good? Let me tell you, whoever the they is saying those things, they are wrong. FOX isn’t living or dying on it?

I am not here to tell you college football is better when USC is good. The Trojans are ninth all-time in FBS wins with 866 victories, they claim 11 National Championships and 39 conference championships. There is zero doubt they are among the elite, blue blooded programs of the college football world. With all of that said, USC hasn’t contributed to college football’s national championship discussion in more than 15 years. But, now Southern California is back and in College Football Playoff contention.

With only Notre Dame and a PAC 12 Conference Championship left to play, 10-1 USC is in excellent position to earn the first College Football Playoff bid in school history. The Trojans would be the third west coast team in the playoffs, 2014 Oregon played in the inaugural edition and 2016 Washington was the only other PAC 12 participant. It has now been five playoffs since a PAC 12 team has been in the top four.

That brings up the obvious question, how important is it for the health of the College Football Playoff to have west coast teams involved, especially one based in Los Angeles? L.A is, of course, the second largest media market in the nation. College football is well down the list of priorities in the City of Angels but having a team in the mix might help the overall national rating.

College Football has long been criticized for becoming too regional of a sport. The results thus far do lend themselves to that belief, the only team from outside the South to win a national championship was 2014 Ohio State. The SEC has twice had two teams among the four playoff teams and two of eight championship games matched Alabama and Georgia from the SEC. 

So, does the College Football Playoff need West Coast teams for long term health? FOX is one of the rights holders for PAC 12 football and the main FOX college analyst, Joel Klatt, doesn’t think it is necessary. “I don’t know if it matters this year. This is like the last two years in an eight year term for a president,” Klatt told me on my show, The Next Round, “I think we are all looking forward to the twelve team playoff and I don’t know if it matters as much as it did in the last eight years.”

To Klatt’s point, the College Football Playoff seems to be screeching towards that twelve team format and a bigger media rights deal. That deal will almost certainly include multiple networks, not just ESPN/ABC, and will be worth significantly more money than the current deal. So, it is not as if the lack of a presence west of the Rockies has hurt the attractiveness of the College Football Playoff to the networks.

On the other hand, the playoffs have never reached the lofty ratings they had year one. Was the 2014 edition just ratings lightning in a bottle or has the regional nature of the product hurt those ratings? The 2014 semi finals did fall on New Year’s Day which meant the games were played in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl which has proven to be the most successful schedule in terms of ratings success.

The college football lover in me couldn’t get enough of FOX’s Saturday night USC-UCLA telecast. There’s something about both teams wearing those classic home colors and playing in that historic stadium under the lights. They put on a great show, the show also would go on without them.

I want as many people as possible exposed to college football; it only makes the sport healthier. If that means more West Coast teams need to be in the playoffs, I hope they earn their way in. An expanded playoff will only make it easier. Until then, just keep telling people college football is better when your team is good

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BSM Writers

HBO’s ‘Shaq’ Docuseries Tells Shaquille O’Neal’s Story With Style, Personality

What ‘Shaq’ wants the audience to know is that success wasn’t easy for the man, despite his physical gifts.

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From the very beginning of HBO’s Shaq docuseries, Shaquille O’Neal tells us how important storytelling is to him. Just recapping a sequence of events isn’t enough for the Hall of Famer. As the man puts it himself, “sometimes when you tell a story, you wanna add a little barbecue sauce.”

Director Robert Alexander (The Shop, A Man Named Scott) adds plenty of barbecue sauce to O’Neal’s life story, especially in the first two parts of the docuseries. (Shaq runs four episodes, with the opener debuting Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max. Each of the following three episodes will premiere on the subsequent Wednesday.)

Nothing less should be expected from a gigantic personality like O’Neal. This isn’t a dry documentary that simply chronicles a series of events. Alexander mixes in stock, news, and archival sports footage to add embellishment and punctuation to many stories and important points. Music, creative set design, and animation also play key roles in keeping the narrative moving and the audience engaged.

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Each episode has a visual theme to it. Part 1 emulates a music video. Several comic book elements are incorporated into Part 2. Part 3 is meant to invoke a classic stage drama, a Shakespearean tragedy. Unfortunately, Part 4 is less focused in that regard, though some fun video game graphics are produced. Editors Freddie DeLaVega, Lenny Messina, and Ted Feldman deserve significant credit for making all the pieces fit together into a cohesive visual trip that gives the documentary an energy not seen in many projects like this.

Much like The Last Dance did for Michael Jordan, Shaq helps define a basketball icon for newer generations more familiar with the athletic giant from being part of TNT’s Inside the NBA panel and his many, many commercial endorsements.

The documentary begins with an adolescent O’Neal growing faster than his body and mind could handle. He wasn’t a phenom who was a superstar from the very moment he took the court, despite his obvious size advantages. And his path to major college basketball didn’t take the typical route.

Eventually, however, viewers see what those of us old enough to have watched O’Neal play at LSU remember. He looked like an adult among boys. His dunks were ferocious, raising his knees as he bent the rim to his will. And, as you might recall, young Shaq was much thinner than the diesel he became late in his professional career.

The first two episodes of Shaq chronicle O’Neal’s rise to superstardom, from college sensation at LSU to No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick by the Orlando Magic, developing into a force for whom there was no match on the court on the way to NBA championships. O’Neal was so dominant that the game had to adapt to him. Rival teams stocked their rosters with three to four big men that could each spare six fouls roughing O’Neal up and sending him to the free throw line. The NBA’s defensive rules changed to allow more double-teaming.

Parts 3 and 4 of the docuseries are less fun, as the second pair of episodes follow O’Neal’s fall from the ultimate heights of his career and difficulties in his personal life. His relationship with Kobe Bryant deteriorated and took a championship dynasty down with it. A major factor in those tensions developing was O’Neal’s reluctance to stay in shape during the offseason, continuing to put on weight, and eventually having toe surgery right before the 2002-03 season.

This is where O’Neal’s involvement and cooperation probably hurt Shaq the most. Unlike the first two episodes, when everything was going well for him, the big man doesn’t offer as much insight into his shortcomings. Particularly frustrating is his lack of accountability. At one point, O’Neal flat-out says he’s not talking about what went wrong with the Lakers.

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Looking right into the camera and accepting responsibility for his role in the demise of two championship teams (later including the Miami Heat) would have been riveting. Instead, others are left to try and explain O’Neal’s actions, which feels dishonest as teammates like Rick Fox and longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti try to cover for him.

What Shaq wants the audience to know is that success wasn’t easy for the man, despite his physical gifts. Basketball did not come easily to him as a youth, nor did championship success in college or the NBA as he grew up. But like so many great athletes do, O’Neal channeled criticism from the media and slights from opponents including Dikembe Mutombo into major aggression on the court. (His words for the 1999-2000 NBA MVP voter who prevented him from the league’s first unanimous win are profanely hilarious.)

O’Neal makes it clear that strong figures in his life provided discipline and guidance — beginning with the military-influenced upbringing of his stepfather, then coaches who could teach him how to be a great player like Phil Jackson and Pat Riley — made him who he is. He has always been a personality and time has been kinder to some of the behavior that was once considered brash. Now he’s a worldwide brand known even to non-sports fans. Those viewers, along with diehard basketball fans, will enjoy getting to know him better in this docuseries.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Part 1 of Shaq premieres Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Each of the three episodes will premiere on the subsequent Wednesday, through Dec. 14. The docuseries will also stream on HBO Max and be available on-demand, with repeat airings on HBO networks.

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