Last month, Andy Masur started what we really were not intending to be a series. He asked programmers and executive producers from around Major League Baseball what they were looking for on a play-by play demo. I followed that up earlier this month by asking PDs what they wanted to see on a host’s demo.
Today, I thought it was only fair that we give some guidance to the people that are eyeballing jobs that would take them off air and put them in a decision making role. I asked two GMs in very different markets in very different parts of the country what they are looking for when they are reviewing candidates for a program director opening.
My first question was for Michael Spacciapolli, Market Manager for Entercom in Pittsburgh. When I asked how important references are he fired back “very important.” He wants to know how managers and subordinates view the candidate and their experiences with him or her. “Previous relationships and reputation tell you a lot about somebody that you will be working side-by-side with every day,” he shared in an email.
Okay, so references. Check. What about the resume itself? It seems to me that so much about a candidate for any leadership role is something that has to be learned through conversation. How can a resume tell a hiring manager enough to make them say “yes, I need to talk to this person”?
Keith Williams agrees with me that most answers are going to come through conversations, but a resume needs to get the wheels turning in the brain of the people reviewing it. “A resume doesn’t give all the details,” Good Karma’s Vice President in Madison, WI says, “but if laid out well, it can tell a story of a person’s career, goals and accomplishments.”
What specifically does Keith think he should be able to learn from a resume?
“When we’re reviewing resumes, we’re looking for a wide variety of things: relevant experience and length of experience at different organizations, accomplishments within that role – specifically problem-solving or adding value in a tangible way, and evidence that this person is collaborative in working within and across sales and marketing as well as innovative in their ideas and solutions they have brought to the team.”
I asked Michael a similar question, but admittedly got a little more specific and a little more self-serving. See, I have written here before that I am ready to take on my first programming opportunity, but I struggle to figure out how to make it clear to a GM or VP that even though I have never held the title before, I am ready for the challenge.
Surely I can’t be the only one struggling with this, so I asked Michael point blank. What do you want to see from someone applying to be a PD for the first time? What would make you believe that applicant is ready for the challenge of management and leadership?
“I always remember that somebody gave me my first opportunity to grow in our business and feel that if a candidate has the attributes that I am looking for then the fact they have never been a Brand Manager previously does not factor into the decision,” he says. “A first time Brand Manager with great ideas and a tremendous desire to win versus a 10 year veteran who is unwilling to adapt as we evolve is an easy decision for me.”
Finally, I wanted to get both leaders perspectives on ratings. How many ads for PD openings have called for evidence of past ratings success? I wondered why that was and how each viewed it in terms of their hierarchy of needs from a candidate.
Keith’s cluster doesn’t subscribe to Nielsen. He told me that ratings will never be a determining factor in whether or not a candidate lands the job, but it can tell a story of their leadership. It’s the classic “How It Started” vs “How It’s Going” meme.
“Sometimes past ratings success is interesting and it may be something that comes up when interviewing candidates, but it’s more important for us to understand why they made content choices, how they manage and work with people, and how they feel they can best connect with our audience, wherever they listen or consume audio or our content,” Williams says. “We’re looking for innovative, creative thinkers and great managers when hiring a Director of Content or PD and we want someone who aligns with our belief that the three groups of people who matter most are our fans, teammates and advertising partners.”
A focus on past ratings success can be a sign that a hiring manager is relying too much on what has happened in the past. Michael Spacciapolli says that ratings success is secondary to him. He wants to know how a candidate plans to keep winning in the future.
“As listening consumption continues to change I focus on our vision for the future and where we are going in all aspects of our business. A brand manager who has a clear vision on how we can engage listeners now and in the future on multiple platforms is very important to me.”
These suggestions obviously aren’t one size fits all. Different managers will value different things in a PD candidate, but if you are out there trying to find your first or next programming gig, I hope this gives you a guide for how VPs and GMs see the job and what makes someone qualified to hold it.
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.