When I set out to do a profile on the #1 sports radio salesperson in the USA, I started to look for the top dog at WFAN radio in New York. Through the years, WFAN has been the top billing sports station, and a Top 10 overall billing station in the country.
I contacted Sean Argaman, the WFAN General Sales Manager. Sean explained that while Entercom encourages their sellers to market any of the Entercom cluster stations, he knew of one salesperson who sold the most WFAN. He recommended I speak to Danny C.
“Passion & Supreme Confidence,” Argaman answers when I ask him what makes Dan Chozahinoff, or “Danny C” so special. “Danny possesses an important & underrated skillset which is his ability to make conversation with anyone. I’ve never worked with anyone who exudes more passion for selling audio, especially sports radio.”
Dan Chozahinoff is the self-proclaimed Director of Strategic Marketing for Entercom New York. He is also a master storyteller. Danny C not only tells great stories to inform you but he also makes you feel good about yourself. He is just that kind of guy.
You want him selling for you and, if you are a client, you want to be sold by him. He is gregarious, has great gratitude for his job and stations all in the face of COVID-19 breathing down his Long Island neck. He also has a 2 hour commute each way to Entercom from his Melville, New York home.
“The majority of Danny’s billing is developmental, but he also is well versed & skillful in servicing transactional business,” Argaman says. “While a large percentage of his clients are local in nature, he does handle several accounts on a national level through multi-market programs. He is consistently ranked in the top tier in our company amongst sales people when it comes to overall billing & one of our top performing sellers of our sports audio properties. He sells multi million dollars annually.”
I wanted to talk about rates, ratings, copy, promotions, digital advertising and other typical radio sales things with Danny.
Danny C? He wanted to be creative, fill my needs and tell a story. Here’s what I found out.
First, HE NEVER STOPS PROSPECTING!
When he watches tv, drives around, listens to other stations, reads or breathes, he is always thinking about how he can sell somebody something. When he gets the idea, he just contacts them.
“70% in prime time, little less in am drive right now because of COVID-19, the rest nights and weekends,” Danny C says when I ask him about the schedule he recommends to clients. “I also believe in 10-20% in digital with a custom idea.”
If you ask Danny why he loves direct business, he will tell you about one particular client. A large, national company put their trust in Danny and he made it pay off not just for himself, but for Entercom as a whole.
“I represent this large direct client and started with them running on one station when they had about $2 million in revenue, I now have them on 25 Entercom stations across the country and they do $47 million in revenue. When we went from CBS to Entercom, they wrote a letter to my bosses telling them I was the reason their business grew and do not mess with me. I get about 80% of their radio budget and bless the other 20% to competitors because I care about them. That is why I love direct business, I take pride in it, you help people, make them money and they know it.”
Danny says that kind of performance has allowed him to do business the way he wants. Entercom trusts him to deliver results.
“Entercom is big on letting me handle business outside of New York. I do a lot of my business outside of New York. It fits well with what I wanna do and what I have done all along. I’m most proud of the back of my baseball card, the consistency, 30 HR 100 RBI year after year for the last 16 because every year you start from scratch.”
If you ask Danny C what he likes about sports radio, chances are his answer will sound familiar. He loves the sports radio audience for the same reason people on the programming side of the business do. Fans are used to dedicating themselves to something fully.
“I sell sports most importantly because the listener listens with their heart. They are actively listening and on top of that with their heart. And listeners will buy from advertisers in sports. Make sure your clients understand that.”
If a young sales man asks for Danny’s advice for getting on an ad buy, he doesn’t offer any profound words of wisdom. His advice shouldn’t be a surprise since you already know that this is a guy that can carry on a conversation with anyone.
“People will not buy from you if they don’t like you. They won’t do it!” he says. He adds though that if an ad rep is doing their job right, it isn’t hard for a business owner to like them and want to work with them.
“What happens when you make a client money? THEY LOVE YOU. You made him money. Everybody who walks into his office costs him money, not you, cause if they know you made them money, he loves you.”
Another good way to get clients and potential clients to form a bond with you, Danny says, is by being a part of their lives. If you buy advertising from Dan Chozahinoff, you aren’t just going to talk business with him.
“I believe in good karma. I wanna be healthy, help people in the same way, I want good things to happen. I’ve lost 25 pounds because I am not at all the baseball and football games drinking. I love to schmooze. I do not give tickets to clients; I go with them. I wanna go drink beer and have dinner with them. It’s why I form relationships and direct business, if you make them money, they love you, you are fun to hang out with…WOW!”
“Never be satisfied and always be hunting,” is the first thing Sean Argaman says when I ask what he wants other sellers to learn from Danny C. Then, the list just keeps going on.
- Lean on your existing relationships for referrals.
- Invest time in developing relationships with your on-air talent and know your station inside & out.
- Become a great storyteller and take tremendous care of your clients. Clients appreciate it when they feel like they have access to information about our stations/on-air talent that the public does not.
- Try to always have fun!
Wow! It all sounds so easy when Danny C is involved!
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.