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Content Grab Bag: Brady Farkas Is A Local Man

“While you want to be the best FOX, ESPN or CBS affiliate you can be, what you want most of all is to be the best station in YOUR market.”

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Good hosts and shows aren’t struggling for content right now, but who knows how long it will be before we get live sports again? Hell, we’ll have been without sports for nearly a month and a half at that point.

We’re all in this together, right? That’s why Barrett Sports Media has created a content grab bag and we’re asking everyone to pitch in.

Got an idea that can help someone else? Do you have a perfect bit in mind, but maybe your situation has changed and now you have nowhere to pull it off? Don’t let it go to waste! If you want to contribute, reach out to Demetri Ravanos on Twitter.

Today’s Content Grab Bag piece comes from Brady Farkas of 101.3 the Game in Burlington, VT. In addition to co-hosting The Huddle with Arnie Spanier and Rich Haskell, Farkas also serves as the station’s PD. He writes that putting a spotlight on your community can be a win both immediately and in the long-term for your station in any number of ways.


Radio stations always say they want to be “Live and Local,” but what does that even mean? 

It’s all about finding a delicate balance that makes you relatable to your listeners, but doesn’t completely tune-out large portions of your audience.

Constant conversation about one traffic light in one small part of your listening area is an almost immediate tune-out because 85 percent of your audience doesn’t ever see that light, and so is 14 minutes on the high school volleyball pre-season rankings, but if you NEVER mention that stuff, your listeners may feel like you’re not really from the area.

Thus, the balance. How does local really work for your radio station?

Remember these two things. Everyone who is in your listening area is there for a reason. They either grew up there and loved it and stayed, or they moved there for opportunity and likely love it too. And remember that while you want to be the best FOX, ESPN or CBS affiliate you can be, what you want most of all is to be the best station in YOUR market. It’s not about Fox Sports Radio, it’s about being Fox Sports Radio (Insert City Here).

Your listeners LOVE to hear when people who are big names have experienced the same things they have, remember the same things they do, and they love to hear about success stories of people who moved on but didn’t forget where they came from.

When I was at ESPN Radio in Albany, that meant interviewing hometown hero and NBA lottery pick Jimmer Fredette. It also meant finding any small connection we could to localize an interview. For instance, when Fredette was playing in the G-League for the Knicks affiliate? That netted us an interview with former Knicks great Allan Houston, the GM of the G-League team, who would have had no reason to come on otherwise with us.

Here at 101.3 The Game in Burlington, VT, it means finding former UVM men’s hockey players who have gone to great things and bringing them on our station (NHL Stanley Cup Champions John LeClair and Patrick Sharp, Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis, US Olympian Aaron Miller).

It also means finding media members who went to college in the area like Ryen Russillo of the Ringer, or local celebrities who grew up here like Phil Wills, master bartender on the popular show “Bar Rescue.”

And it means a chance to have on legendary broadcasters Gus Johnson and Len Elmore, who were on the call the night that Vermont men’s hoops beat Syracuse in the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

From the parking lot: A history of the 2005 UVM-Syracuse game ...

These are all huge names for Burlington, Vermont, that are on our station, talking to our local audience, about their unique experiences with our local teams and communities. You can’t measure how important that is.

Those people are universally appealing to your audience because they’ve been to the same bars and restaurants you have, played in a game your audience still talks about, and helps normalize someone we never felt we could relate to, but now can.

And don’t ever ignore the chance to truly hyper-localize things. Maybe the 14 minutes straight on high school volleyball isn’t good for the air, but it’s something that plays DIGITALLY!

Maybe you take two minutes of the 14 and put it on the air and put the rest online, and when the high school coach ends up producing a player that wins a college title or goes to the Olympics or does something amazing you already have the relationship with them to help tell another great story or book another great guest. 

And your network keeps growing.

When Koby Altman took over as General Manager of the Cavs and immediately was trying to figure out whether or not to trade Kyrie Irving? Our station was the first in the country to have him on.

Why? 

He went to nearby Middlebury College, and we had a relationship with the coaching staff there, who we didn’t say no to for a digital interview just a few months prior. Don’t underestimate how much your local network can help you.

Local matters. It helps the listeners. It helps you book guests. It helps digital numbers. It shows you care.

Also, your audience loves to show you how much they know. So when you’re looking for a new golf course to play, or a new restaurant to try, or a new route to get some place, they are all quick to chime in and share some great stories and give some great insight and content.

And those new places you go? They could just net you more new networking relationships – and more new clients. 

BSM Writers

Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content

Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.

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USA Today

When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.

“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.

Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:

1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”

2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.

The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.

I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.

Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”

There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.

First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.

The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.

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BSM Writers

The Client Just Said YES, Now What?

We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.

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One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!

We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.

When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.

They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.

A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 74

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This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.

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