These are unprecedented times.
These are scary times.
These are times that we must find ways to cope with the potential loss of jobs and income.
Unfortunately Covid-19 has impacted many of our brethren in the media industry. We have seen many jobs being furloughed, many others being asked to take pay cuts, and even more flat out losing their jobs and sources of income. This is a time where we need to use our resources to rally and continue in the career that we love.
Here are 5 steps to get through the CoronaVirus and continue in the media field.
1 Don’t Vent on Social Media: One of the biggest issues for most people right now is the urge to run to social media and tell every piece of their life so the world can see. It is perfectly ok to go on your Twitter page and let your audience know that you will no longer be hosting your show, or no longer writing for their favorite outlet, but what you want to avoid is conjecture about the place that let you go.
Our industry is a very close knit community, where most PDs and hiring entities know and talk to each other. DO NOT be the person who alienates themselves by typing something that you will regret for years to come. I was let go from 92.9 The Game over a year ago, and unfortunately put a post that I didn’t deem rude, but others didn’t like that I gave out information that was meant to be private. The last thing you want to do right now is be seen as a malcontent, because you may not be hireable again in many people’s eyes.
2 Invest in Yourself: This is the best piece of advice that anyone has ever given me. Many radio outlets are going remote. We have seen Sirius XM, TuneIn Radio, SB Nation Radio and during the pandemic just about every local radio station broadcast from home. How do they do it? It is by purchasing a Comrex Box, and having some pretty decent internet. Many stations supply the talent with these boxes for remote broadcasts, and they are not cheap, but if your money allows it, having this setup can lead to many additional broadcasting jobs that you may not have been able to get. Shop used models on the internet, or check with your engineers who may have them. If a Comrex is out of your budget, at minimum buy some podcasting equipment where you will have the ability to record audio for demos, or voiceover work.
The second part to investing in yourself is to put your demos, writing samples etc on places like Barrett Sports Media which has a great directory that is affordable and can get your stuff in front of the right eyes. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, but avoiding investing in yourself could limit your future opportunities.
3 Branch Out – My career path was to be a sports radio host, and for the last 16 years that is how I made my living. Those jobs are limited, so to enhance the opportunity to stay working in sports media branching out was the only way to go. Don’t be afraid to take chances and do things outside of your scope.
I began writing about a year ago(for free) just to have a different outlet to get my name out there. Writing has so many remote jobs available, and is an easy revenue stream if you give it a chance. Podcasting also brings the same scenario if you do it the right way. Going back to point #2, invest in some podcast equipment, and get your voice out there, because you never know who might be paying attention.
4 Use Your Resources and Connections – If you’ve been in the media game long enough, you should have an iphone full of media connections across the country. USE THEM. After multiple radio rows, final 4s, media days, or guest spots the best way to stay connected is through relationships that you should’ve already built over the years. While at any of these events, I would purposely either appear on other stations as a guest, or just make my way around to different tables to talk with hosts, PDs or other media members to make that connection.
Now is the time to call on them, and see if they have any available work, or if they can point you in the right direction of someone who does. You never know what avenue one simple phone call or email could open.
5 Be Patient – This is the toughest time for media members that I can remember in my life. We are in the middle of a pandemic with no clear idea of when things will go back to normal. Sports have been gone for over 2 months, and the hope is now early July will give us the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS, with the NFL and College Football to follow in August and September. Maybe by then advertisers will return, and companies will begin to reassemble the staffs that have been previously let go.
For now, you must be patient, as the hiring managers are inundated with trying to keep their businesses afloat, and with many people trying to get their attention. Take this time to strengthen your pitch, broaden your horizon, and find ways to make money to survive.
I hurt for my media brethren who are going through all of this right now, but as the old saying goes, this too shall pass.
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.