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For Cousin Sal, It’s Sports, Comedy, Then Gambling

“I thought, ‘You know, what’s funnier than if I lose money while putting together a business during a pandemic that heavily relies on sports, only to see that there’s no sports on the horizon?’. I thought that would be a pretty funny way to go down.”

Tyler McComas

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It’s almost tough to decide whether sinking money into a new sports gambling podcast in 2020 is overly risky or incredibly brilliant.

On one hand, most of the year has been filled with cancelled sports, which means no gambling action to help formulate content. On the flip side, the country has never been more on fire for sports, than it was at the end of July when live action finally returned with the MLS, MLB and NBA.

Coincidentally, the Extra Points podcast, co-founded by “Cousin Sal” Iacono, capitalized on the mass need for live sports by launching right when the sports world came back to life.

Extra Points

“I think it was by design,” said Sal. “I wasn’t even going to do anything like this, but the pandemic gave me a lot of time to think about it, and I said, ‘Alright, this is something that I can get going on my own.’ I thought it through and put it together, then mapped out what kind of podcast I’d want. Things were really sketchy when I decided to go forward with it, in terms of creating a business account and things like that. I thought, ‘You know, what’s funnier than if I lose money while putting together a business during a pandemic that heavily relies on sports, only to see that there’s no sports on the horizon?’. I thought that would be a pretty funny way to go down.”

Before you think Extra Points is just another gambling podcast filled with a ton of numbers, stats and trends, think again. In fact, gambling content can often take a backseat to what Extra Points deems more important: entertainment. Alongside Cousin Sal are the duo of Dave Dameshek and Charlotte Wilder. Together, the trio combines for widely entertaining banter, stories, sports and yes, sometimes even gambling content.

“The idea was for it to be sports, comedy and then gambling,” said Sal. “I was on ESPN for two years and my best bet record was like 78 percent, or something ridiculous like that. I did it with Neil Everett on Thursday nights on SportsCenter and it didn’t get as much press as I thought. I was like, this is crazy, this is all I’ve wanted to do since I was 16 years old and it doesn’t get much notoriety. 

“I think a couple things hurt it, such as sports gambling not being as accepted as it is today. It made me think, it doesn’t matter as much to win as it does to be funny. There’s plenty of podcasts out there, there’s plenty of websites, you don’t even have to listen to a podcast, you can find and dig up trends and everything you need to know. I want to do more of a personality driven podcast.”

The type of podcast you create doesn’t matter. You could be doing sports, gambling, heck, even history, if multiple personalities are involved I just want to know one thing: do the hosts have chemistry? A podcast can’t survive without it. The biggest reason I’ll continue to listen to Extra Points is because the three hosts have the chemistry to flourish. 

“It’s been super fun to get to chat it up with Sal and Dave three times a week,” said Wilder. “I’m a dad at heart, so hanging with two of them and talking about sports feels very natural. I’m biased, but I really feel like we’ve got great chemistry and it’s an honor to be able to argue with them about important things like whether Russell Westbrook’s Iron Maiden shirt is cool or not.”

Sal and Dameshek have been friends for at least 20 years and have worked on various shows together, such as Sports Geniuses on Fox Sports, The Man Show and Crank Yankers on Comedy Central, as well as Jimmy Kimmel Live. Those two were always going to work well together behind the mic, seeing as they’ve been watching and talking about games together for years, even if it was in the parking lot with nobody else listening. 

But Sal and Dameshek’s smartest move to date was probably adding Wilder to Extra Points. If their idea of another voice was one that’s snarky, hilarious and knowledgeable, they found the right fit. Wilder’s star is rapidly rising in sports media and her presence on the podcast will only continue that upward trend. 

“Charlotte is the Rachel Bonnetta of 2020,” Sal says referencing his FOX Bet Live co-star. “Rachel came from the digital side and she’s terrific. Charlotte lights it up and she’s funny on Twitter. Her interviews are great, too. She has a different point of view for sports and I knew she’d work immediately.”

Getting a podcast off the ground with three well-known personalities may seem relatively easy. In theory, you promote, record, post, retweet the link and bam, sponsors come running, right? Not exactly. Though the podcast has seen great numbers in the short time it’s been available, smooth wouldn’t be the right word to describe the simplicity of getting things started. 

“It’s a huge pain in the ass,” said Sal. “Getting everything aligned, and just the logistics of it, if I could just turn on the mic and just talk, that seems to be the easier part, but actually getting these things up and running and in the pipeline is a bit more difficult than I thought. There’s always something to be thinking of, like if I should’ve turned a phrase on the show into a T-shirt. So I’m thinking about merchandising, which is something I never thought I would have to spend time on. The podcast themselves, as long as it doesn’t feel like work to me, I’m excited about it. 

“But another thing I think about is, do I create a persona that doesn’t necessarily believe in a whole lot of things I say but has a strong point of view, that people will latch onto? Or do I say, I want to hear both sides of this before I decide, if kids should go back to school and play? Weighing those pros and cons is going to be a constant dilemma for me. But I really would like to keep it real as much as I can.”

Barstool CEO Erika Nardini predicted recently that, “personality is going to matter. And you’re going to find personality in non-traditional places,” when asked about sports media in the post-coronavirus world.

If a situation arises where college football and the NFL are cancelled, I don’t have to tell you the damage it’s going to do to sports gambling podcasts. Without sports, there’s only one way to make a gambling pod more interesting. You guessed it. Personality. 

Sal would take a hit if football were to be cancelled, sure, but his product is likely to continue flourishing in a non-sports world because the trio of Extra Points is so damn entertaining. 

“I think that’s where we’re different from the stat heads that kind of have to fold their tents immediately,” said Sal. “Obviously, it’s tough, if we relate this back to April and all the talking head shows that stayed alive, if they didn’t have Michael Jordan on the Last Dance for several Sundays, they’d be screwed. We had opposing networks promoting that show, because it was the only thing to talk about.

“If we run out of stuff I don’t want it to be depressing, I want it to be a fun outlet for people to come to laugh. We would have to pivot in that regard. If football goes away AND sports goes away for six or eight months, I think we’d be in a bit of trouble. I have a couple of comedy podcasts on the horizon as part of the Extra Points Podcast Network so hopefully we’ll at least have that running.”

BSM Writers

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.

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WRONG BAD

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.

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BSM Writers

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.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

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.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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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.

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