We hear about the value of versatility each year during the NFL draft. Former Clemson defensive stud Isaiah Simmons has the athleticism to play safety, linebacker, and slot corner. Versatility isn’t confined to skill set alone. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is versatile with his game plans. One week he might run the ball down your throat. The following week’s approach might be completely different. It’s all about adapting and finding a formula that leads to winning.
The same concept applies to sports radio. Rodney Peete is a former quarterback that is now a sports radio host at AM 570 in Los Angeles. During his standout years at USC and 16 years in the NFL, Peete was most comfortable being overprepared for games. He has found that a different approach works better for him in sports radio. Peete still prepares hard, but ad-libbing and being less scripted is his preferred approach.
Versatility, my friends.
It’s interesting to see how successful people find ways of remaining successful. Peete has had success on the football field, in marriage, as a father of four kids, and even with a reality show Meet The Peetes on the Hallmark Channel for crying out loud. He is now successful in sports radio from noon-3pm each weekday.
Peete details how co-host Fred Roggin and SVP of Sports Don Martin have helped contribute to his on-air success. Make no mistake, Peete isn’t perfect as we find out about his pandemic-induced Oreo sweet tooth, but perfection isn’t necessary when you possess charisma and versatility. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: I have to start off with an apology, Rodney, because I am literally from South Bend, Indiana. I feel like I just need to apologize for that up front.
Rodney Peete: [Laughs] Oh yeah, yeah, you should apologize.
BN: [Laughs] Going back to your playing days — biggest rival seems too simplistic — who was the team that you wanted to beat the most?
RP: Oh, it was Notre Dame. We didn’t during my time there. We lost to them. It was during that 10-year run that Notre Dame had on us. I was a part of that. UCLA was a big rivalry because you had to live and hear about it if you lost all year long. You interacted with those guys and you interacted with people from UCLA. It was big, but I think just from more of a national standpoint and just more of a nasty type of rivalry was with Notre Dame. UCLA felt more like a competitive, brotherly rivalry, whereas Notre Dame was an enemy rivalry.
BN: Based on the pandemic whether it’s professionally or personally what has been the toughest part of it for you?
RP: The toughest part about it for me to be honest with you is staying out of the kitchen. [Laughs] That’s been the toughest part. Every break, every time you look up I’m running to the kitchen thinking about things to put in my mouth to eat or drink when normally I’m out, I’m busy, I’m active. I’m not thinking about it when I’m on a regular schedule. Now it’s just like you’re walking around the house and you can only watch so much TV or read so many articles. It’s 25, 30 times a day walking in the kitchen and grabbing something. That has been the toughest thing to stay away from that.
BN: That’s funny, man. What’s the unhealthiest thing you’ve grabbed the most?
RP: Oh man, the Oreo cookies are killing me. They really are. I wasn’t really a big Oreo cookie guy before but for whatever reason I just gravitated toward those. My youngest son loves Oreo cookies so I started kind of chilling with him and eating some. Then it just got to be a thing.
I’m the guy in the household making all of the runs. All of my four kids are here, my wife’s here, and we’ve got two dogs. I make all the runs to the grocery store or to the drug store to get dog food or whatever. I’m the guy going out so I’ll always get stuff for the kids but I sneak my Oreos for me.
BN: What have you enjoyed the most about doing sports radio?
RP: I didn’t know I would enjoy it. I really didn’t. I had a couple of stints doing some TV gigs. I did some work for FOX and then landed a gig on Best Damn Sports Show. I was with them for four years. I did some other local stuff for FOX, so I was more in tuned to the TV thing.
I always thought of radio as a long gig because you’ve got to continuously find things to talk about. My first few months into it, it was a struggle just to keep the conversation going. Thank God I had Fred Roggin to work with me because he’s such a pro. He started in radio. Radio is where he has the most fun even though he’s been on TV for 30 years. He enjoys radio more.
What I found is that the more I did it, you’re able to have more of a voice. You’re able to have your opinions and really dive into a topic more so than you are on TV. TV has so many sound bites. You’ve got to get in and out in 30 seconds and things like that whereas radio if you have a point that you want to make, you can elaborate on it. People get to know you more on radio. Even though they may not see your face they get to know who you are more on radio. That part I started to really enjoy. I enjoy that I’m connecting with the audience and being able to hear what they have to say.
BN: What part of your athletic background — the preparation aspect, the way you competed — do you apply the most to sports radio?
RP: It’s funny because when I was playing I did love to prepare. I wanted to make sure I could tell how the game was going to go because I felt really comfortable about my preparation. If I was a little off or I didn’t watch certain aspects of the film and the defense enough, then I was always a little uncomfortable. The thing for me going into a game was to be overprepared.
It’s weird because now I’m prepared, but what I bring to the table in our show is more like a two-minute drill. It’s on the fly, ad-libbing during a situation. Fred keeps us on schedule, but there are things that — and we’ve found a really good groove to this — that Fred will throw out there that I’m able to react to and bring it into a realm and identify it from my sports background and relate it to what we’re talking about. That has worked well for us.
I have the outline, but I don’t like to overthink something because during the conversation on radio your thought process might change in a second. Just by the way Fred answers a question or poses a question, my answer might change in that moment. If I have this ready-made answer for some of these topics that we want to do, then I don’t feel like I have the freedom to ad-lib it. I treat it like a two-minute drill when we’re doing the show.
BN: Were listeners ever standoffish because, ‘Hey man, you went to SC. You’re the rival.’ Did you have to win some people over who rooted against you back in the day?
RP: Oh yeah! I think the good part, whether it’s me, my family, whomever, I do call it like I see it. I think the people from UCLA or even Notre Dame respect that. If UCLA is doing well and they’re playing well and they’ve got good players, I give them credit. Also, we’re not the USC station; we’re the UCLA station. I’ve gotten called a homer, accused of having a USC bias, and all that kind of thing, but I go in on USC too.
I think that gives me a level of respect when I criticize USC and not just sugarcoat it when they’re struggling. I’ve been hard on Clay Helton during the last couple of years and what they’ve been doing and where USC stands right now in the football realm. I’ve been very difficult on them. I think the UCLA fans have kind of come over and understand that I’m not that biased even though I did go to USC; I call it as I see them.
BN: How did you get into sports radio at 570?
RP: That’s a good question. I had been doing a little bit of TV work off an on. Me and my wife did a reality show, so I’ve been on TV. Then the Dodgers got heavily involved and had a big part of AM 570. The noon slot for the station hadn’t been doing well. They had run like 15 different hosts in and out of that timeslot from noon to 3. They were really building it up as they were building up the partnership with the Dodgers. My name got thrown out there by a friend of mine who said think about Rodney Peete. He turned to Don Martin.
Don and I developed a relationship. He called me in and said would you be interested in doing it. At first I was a little lukewarm. Then he told me Fred was going to come on board and do it as well. I went in and did a few trials. I actually was a little bit nervous, but again Fred made me feel comfortable. The more I did it, it was pretty cool to be able to sit there for three hours. Then I realized that the three hours went fast. But yeah, Don Martin and I had a mutual friend that suggested me. He brought me in. I went and did a little testing and audition process and it worked out. Here we are four years later.
BN: Don is well known in the business, as you’re aware of. How would you describe him?
RP: Don is a guy that knows — I mean you talk about someone who knows the business from every aspect — he knows the business. He’s someone that you can rely on.
I’m sure we’ve all been in places where the guy that you work for, you know more than the guy you work for. It’s not always a good situation. Don has been in every aspect of the business. He’s been on the mic. He’s worked as a disc jockey. He’s worked in sports. He’s done the sales part. Now he’s an executive, so he can speak to all different levels.
The thing about Don that we love is that he doesn’t micromanage. He lets us be us. He doesn’t try to interfere with the show. If there’s an issue or we start to cross the line he’ll chime in, but for the most part he lets us do our show. We poke fun at him all the time and he doesn’t take it seriously and allows us to do that. He gives us the freedom to show our personalities and express ourselves. That’s the best part about it.
BN: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from Don so far?
RP: The biggest thing I think, and I had to learn this early on is, I don’t like to toot my own horn or pound my chest and talk about it. He had to really force me to let that out because that’s what listeners really want to hear. They want to hear from inside the locker room. They want to hear those stories that the average fan can’t normally get.
I always felt a little uncomfortable talking about personal relationships, my time playing and all that kind of stuff, but I had to step out of myself and think about it as a regular fan. Don really helped me do that by saying that’s what is unique about you and Fred, in LA sports talk radio no one else has the perspective of a quarterback in the NFL that played at SC like I do. You’ve got to use that as much as you can because that is what the listeners really want to hear.
Keyshawn’s on in the morning so he’s similar but he’s a receiver. I’m the quarterback so that is a different thing. But he said don’t be afraid to go back and take people into the locker room. Take them behind the scenes. That’s what they want to hear. That was a big thing for me. I had to get out of my comfort zone and be able to really share those types of stories.
BN: What’s it like to have a famous wife, a reality show, and to be in the public eye?
RP: I would say there are tiers. If I had my choice I’m glad I’m in this tier because if I’m in the LeBron James or Magic Johnson tier, it’s hard to go anywhere. It’s hard to go out to a restaurant and just chill and eat with the family. We can do that. There may be two or five people recognize you and come say hello, but the restaurant doesn’t stop as we walk in like it would for those guys.
We’re able to live a pretty casual, normal life and you get to take advantage of the perks — getting reservations, getting invited to certain things, and exposing your kids to certain things that are pretty cool. I don’t shy away from that. I enjoy it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. I’m glad that I’m not too recognizable that I couldn’t just live my life because that would drive me crazy.
BN: What did you think about the virtual draft and how the NFL was able to pull it off?
RP: I thought it was fantastic. I really did. I thought they did a great job. It made the big 800-pound gorilla NFL seem more human to me. The way they set up the kids and the families and the homes and had multiple shots of that.
I think it made Rodger Goodell more personable. Seeing the coaches and the GM’s and their families at home with their kids and wives and the different setups they had, I thought that it went off great. I think they did a fantastic job and interesting enough I think some of those aspects they might keep going in the future because I think it went off very well.
BN: If the NFL has a shortened offseason due to the pandemic, what will that do to the development of rookie and second-year quarterbacks?
RP: It puts it to an immediate halt. You almost wish you could redshirt. Of all of the positions in sports, quarterback is the toughest position to play. It’s the most preparation that you need. The jump from college to pro is so dramatic at quarterback than it is in any other profession or any other position. The speed of the game is different. What you see — the infamous “I see ghosts” from Sam Darnold last year is true. It’s true. It’s more sophisticated.
Guys that you think are open are not open. The guys that are running wide open in college; you’ve got a small window to hit him in the NFL because everybody can play. I don’t care if you’re on the best team in the league or the worst team in the league they all have players that can play. For a quarterback it’s about accuracy and anticipation. You don’t get that unless you have the repetitions. These guys are not getting it.
You can almost go make a bet that if we do have football on time without minicamps and OTAs and the shortened training camp, guys like Joe Burrow are going to struggle, especially in Cincinnati. The teams that have veteran quarterbacks are the ones that have the advantage right now. If you’re relying on a young quarterback without that time to develop it’s going to be very, very difficult.
I know for me even playing in what was the Pac-10 back then, it was very good competition. Playing against UCLAs and Notre Dames and Oklahomas, many of the guys went to the NFL and were stars. The competition was good, but it’s nothing like making that jump from college to the NFL. It’s going to be difficult on the young quarterbacks especially the young rookies in general.
BN: When you think about your future whether it’s sports broadcasting or beyond, is there anything that you want to experience or accomplish before you retire?
RP: When I retire I’m going to go travel the world. I’m going to walk the earth like Caine in Kung Fu.
BN: [Laughs] You decided to be a bum, Rodney.
RP: [Laughs] Yes, I am. No, I have serious aspirations of being involved with a sports franchise. That is something I would like to do. A couple of years ago Ronnie Lott and I made a run to try to keep the Raiders in Oakland. We had a group that was going to help finance the stadium. We were in it. We were in the fight, but Las Vegas won out. It was an exciting time.
I have a good relationship with the NFL and Goodell and everybody over there in the executive staff. At some point I would love to be a part of a franchise. I don’t want to coach though. I spent enough time playing 16 years being away from family.
Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call
“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”
I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.
The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.
Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.
Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.
We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.
I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.
You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.
People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.
How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.
Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.
If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.
In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.
Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.
What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.
Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!
“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”
Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?
Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.
To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:
#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?
#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?
#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?
If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!
Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.
Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:
#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.
#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.
#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.
#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.
#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.
Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!
Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas
“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”
Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?
Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!
One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.
Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.
There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.
Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.
I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.
Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.
It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?
Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.
If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.
Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.
A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.
“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.
We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.
As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.
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