Although I did write weeks ago that sports media, out of necessity, would likely cling to the Quarterback Carousel up until the NFL Draft; no one could’ve anticipated the bombshell that has dropped regarding one of the league’s superstars. Three-time Pro Bowl signal caller, Deshaun Watson, is being sued by at least three different masseuses for alleged sexual assault. Yeah, all of this developing in the midst of a demand by Deshaun to be traded from the Houston Texans. I’ve never seen anything quite like this! The hard part? How are we “supposed” to address this publicly, without providing a disservice to our audience, nor the parties involved in this lawsuit, given its troubling nature?
Upon researching the limited amount of material originally made available on the matter; I immediately began to scour the national airwaves to gauge reaction, in preparation for our local afternoon drive show. After all, I do live and work in Charlotte, which happens to host a franchise that is hell-bent on getting D-Wat back to Carolinas. No tiptoeing around this one was going to be permitted by our listenership.
My first stop was to Undisputed to hear what Skip & Shannon had to say. I ultimately found the greatest value in Shannon speaking from his experience as a former pro athlete regarding regular interaction with masseuses. As is usually the case, I thought Unc did a masterful job highlighting best practices when engaging in activities of this nature as to protect the athlete, and the therapist, from any potential issues or misunderstandings. Shannon possess a rare talent to be authentic and insightful, while also being respectful, especially when it pertains to delicate circumstances such as this. You got skills Brotha Sharpe!
Next, I flipped over to peep the First Take crew. I needed to hear Stephen A. specifically articulate the gravity of the situation Deshaun has now found himself in. Different from Shannon’s perspective, I correctly anticipated Stephen A. would approach this from a seasoned journalistic point of view. That said, I definitely appreciated the sensitivity in tone and delivery he utilized in evaluating the information that had been presented involving the plaintiffs and Watson thus far. Real talk, I marvel at the man’s impeccable timing and ability to add just the right amount of entertainment value or humor to contrast the seriousness of certain topics.
I also noted the fair and objective positions all three people at the desk maintained throughout the segment. Obviously, and rightfully so, topics involving the wellbeing or disrespect of women can impassion Molly. I genuinely value her input, especially on these kinds of topics, as to make sure I am considering all of the necessary vantage points for objective discussion. I love their show! It’s can’t miss for me.
Lastly, given the legal component of these sexual assault allegations surrounding D-Wat, I desired a unique insight from someone with legal experience, but also an understanding of NFL culture. Pro Football Talk’s, Mike Florio, did not disappoint! I appreciate the simplicity in which Mike navigated the intricacies of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, the precedent for civil law suits involving players, the uniqueness of this particular case, and ultimately what he’d do were he in Mr. Watson’s shoes. I doubt there is anywhere better to rival this caliber of content. Florio is the real deal!
Now that I had heard various qualified takes on the alarming matter, from people I respect in the industry, it was time for me to make a determination as to how I would address this with our audience. What would be my public stance here? I can’t be Shannon, Stephen A., nor Florio. It was necessary I offer up my own observations, though admittedly, moderately influenced by their expertise. How would my commentary land for our fan base? For a variety of reasons, I anticipated it would be received with mixed emotions, and thus needed to prepare accordingly.
In the end, I came to the conclusion that in America, we all are afforded the presumption of innocence until proven guilty under the law. Knowing full-well that the NFL Personal Conduct Policy is not bound explicitly to that law. Although I too find the allegations against Deshaun Watson disturbing, now is not the time, and I am not the arbiter, to convict or exonerate him within the court of afternoon drive. As I routinely remind our listenership, my responsibility is not to tell them what to think. I simply share with them what I think, while providing an inviting climate for concurring or differing thought. I’ll leave that propaganda radio for somebody else.
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.