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Jay Williams Learned To Be Himself By Watching Mike Golic

“My parents always made sure that it resonated with me that I was way more than the sports I played. I think that went to even another stratosphere when I went to Duke.”



Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski has a saying. “You never are. You’re always becoming.” I’ve heard him say it in the one time I’ve ever had the chance to interview him. JJ Reddick, who played for Coach K at Duke, has talked about what that quote means to him on an episode of his podcast. 

It’s a quote I couldn’t help but think about last week as I logged on to Zoom to chat with Jay Williams. This is a guy that went from promising NBA rookie to wasted talent to budding broadcaster to perhaps ESPN’s marquee name for basketball coverage. 

Starting August 17, he becomes something else – morning radio host. 

Jay Williams Inks Multiyear Extension With ESPN/ABC | Hollywood Reporter

“My parents always made sure that it resonated with me that I was way more than the sports I played. I think that went to even another stratosphere when I went to Duke,” he tells me. “You wouldn’t think that would occur. You would think basketball would be such a primary focus, but when I got there, one of the things that really lured me to the program was Coach K saying ‘I promise you, by the time you leave here, you’re going to be a better man.’”

Being a better man has served Jay Williams well. This is a guy that would have been the top pick of the 2002 NBA Draft if not for the availability of a freak of nature and unrivaled marketing opportunity named Yao Ming. He was immediately put on the US National Team for the 2002 FIBA World Championships. Jay Williams was supposed to be the guy the Chicago Bulls built their future around.

That was all before his motorcycle accident.

Enough has been written about the 2003 crash that derailed Jay Williams’s playing career. There isn’t anything new I can add to the story here. Williams points out that when his life plan changed so drastically, he had to lean into to Coach K’s wisdom. It didn’t matter what his shooting percentage was or that he was a prolific scorer for the Blue Devils. The only ability he needed was the ability to evolve.

“I almost died. I have a limp when I walk. I separated my pubic symphysis by 13 and a half inches. I didn’t have the proper functionality in that area for a long time. So, for me, people go through things in life. Life happens if you’re lucky enough to experience life.”

It wasn’t a quick path, but to go from where he was the morning after his accident to where he his today should answer any question about whether or not he is ready to meet the challenges that come along with a daily radio show.

The new morning show will also feature Keyshawn Johnson, who comes to the East Coast from ESPN 710 Los Angeles, and SportsCenter anchor Zubin Mehenti. 

Whatever it is Williams is in the process of becoming, he knows there will be a hill to climb. It’s hard to find someone that will tell you they don’t like Jay. It’s even harder to find someone that doesn’t sing the praises of Mike Golic, the ESPN Radio icon who’s 22 year run in mornings on the network had to come to an end for Williams to get his shot. 

After a month of tributes, Golic finally said goodbye to the ESPN Radio audience on Friday morning. It was an emotional affair, born of a decades long relationship with his audience. Williams says he had a similar connection to Golic. It was Mike Golic’s influence that Williams says was a turning point in his media career.

“I’ve been with ESPN for a long time. Mike Golic was the first person I saw on there for an extended period of time doing that show. I remember sitting there thinking to myself ‘Wow, that is really cool. Mike Golic Sr. is Mike Golic Sr.’ He’s very comfortable with who he is and he is very comfortable being that person on camera.

“It was the first time in my career that I ever thought ‘I’ve gotta figure out who I am, so I can be who I want to be on air.’ I never thought about who I was. I was too busy running. I was too busy giving my opinions about other things to ever have an opinion about myself.”

Williams is quick to tell me this isn’t a role he campaigned for. He described hearing that Golic would no long be a part of ESPN Radio everyday like going through the death of a loved one and experiencing the stages of grief.

“I called him and I said ‘look Mike, I don’t know how this all happened, but I am in this position right now and I want to be great at this. I want to be a different version of you. And all your fans, I want them to listen to us. I don’t want to alienate anybody.’ Mike is so great. He said ‘Look, I have had an incredible run. Just be who you are, Jay. I’ve always had incredible times talking to you and relating to you. Just be the person that is relatable.’”

Aside from having to replace the name most associated with the network, Keyshawn, Jay, and Zubin are launching their show during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Now look, we have written plenty here about how a lack of live sports is no excuse to produce bad content, and these three certainly have more sports to work with than anyone that was on air in March.

Things do look a little less like a sure thing now though than they did even just two weeks ago. The Miami Marlins and Major League Baseball are serving as a cautionary tale for what can happen when you rush a season to fruition with no bubble and no real plan in place for what happens in the event of a breakout.

Williams has plenty to say about Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball. He’ll be able to say everything he wants about the NBA during ESPN’s TV broadcasts. As it relates to the start of his new radio show, he has his eyes squarely on football.

He sees the mountains that had to be moved just to get the NFL to workout testing and reporting protocols and it worries Williams. Just how prepared is the NFL?

“The fact that the league has these stiff reprimands for players that don’t show up to training camp, and yet these things aren’t in place, it puts them in a weird situation as well,” he says of NFL players. “So, with travel and with playing in frigid conditions, and seeing this whole thing, it’s not trending in the right direction.”

ESPN Analyst And Businessman Jay Williams Adapts During Coronavirus,  Discusses NBA Cruise Ship Plan

Williams is even more steadfast in his thoughts on college football in the fall. He says that the coaches and the schools have so much responsibility to get this right. They owe it to their players to make smart decisions about when to play and when to shut things down.

“I think that the responsibility for the collegiate universe is so imperative, and it is so challenging, because we all now recognize that this is about money,” he says of college sports. “This is about sustaining schools and issues of what these schools’ overhead is.”

Of course Covid-19 will be a major topic of conversation, particularly in the early days of Keyshawn, Jay & Zubin. We’ll all be counting down while simultaneously praying, bargaining with the universe, or simply crossing our fingers and hoping that football happens.

Jay Williams says he doesn’t want to be debating morals and ethics every morning, but he is clear in where he stands on this. He wants to understand how people with opposing views justify where they stand.

“I’m not a politician. I’m not a scientist. But for anyone that says ‘well, the cases are so slim’ I would say ‘I don’t know what the long term effects of Covid are. I don’t know what those data points or what those metrics are.’ It would be hard for me to tell somebody to go out and perform when I don’t know if it will have long term effects on you, or maybe it won’t. I don’t know.”

As my time with Jay began to wind down, and I sensed we were becoming friends, I asked him to be honest. Yes, the morning drive slot on ESPN Radio is one of the most valuable positions in all of nationally syndicated sports radio. I know he is excited, but how about put out? Is there anything at all he is dreading about August 17?

“I wake up early all the time anyway,” Williams says. He then acknowledges that waking up early and waking up and being ready to have involved conversations by 6 AM are two very different things. “Mike Greenberg told me what you’re doing is not your job. It’s your lifestyle. It will become your lifestyle.”

When morning radio becomes his lifestyle, Williams acknowledges that one of his favorite morning routines will have to change.

“My daughter comes in my bed every morning and we read and we play and that will be no longer. I’ll have to find other ways to do that.”

Jay Williams Talks 'Serendipitous' Life as a Working Dad After Almost Dying  in an Accident at 21 - World Medicine Report

Positivity is the name of the game for Jay Williams though. You can still have the same kind of quality time with family at a different time of day. Morning radio, he says, is an opportunity to professionally grow in a way that he is prepared and excited for.

“In the big scheme of things, this is my job. I love my job. This platform is going to allow me to build connective tissue to people. That ultimately is my purpose.”

BSM Writers

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.

OKC Radio Host Sam Mayes Fired After Racist Audio is Leaked

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.

All About the Lucky Star Casino in El Reno, Concho
Courtesy: TripAdvisor/Adam Knapp

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.

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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.

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BSM Writers

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!

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BSM Writers

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?

Chevy Chase, aka Clark Griswold, to light up stage in Berks | Berks  Regional News |
Courtesy: Warner Bros./National Lampoon

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?

25 Best Christmas Inflatables - Top Inflatable Christmas Decorations

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.

Kevin Anderson on Twitter: "Just noticed that I've been blocked by the  international civil aviation authority @icao Have others working on  aviation emissions also been blocked? Appears to be that their commitment

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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