When you love what you do, it shows. When you love the people you work with, it shows even more. Sports radio host Marc Hochman loves his job at Audacy Miami. He also enjoys being around his on-air partner so much, that he considers him to be family. Marc hosts afternoons on 560 The Joe and 790 The Ticket with former Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder. When I tell you that Marc speaks highly of Channing, it doesn’t do it justice. Marc says the radio pairing is a match made in heaven and the greatest experience he’s ever had. That’s quite the statement considering Marc’s resume.
Originally from the suburbs of Chicago in Highland Park, Illinois, Marc made his way to Florida in 1987 when he first attended the University of Miami. The town grew on him like a new variety of cottage cheese. (That’s foreshadowing.) He became buddies with Dan Le Batard while at school. The friendship helped pull Marc away from music radio and into the world of sports talk.
Marc talks about the most impactful rule that Le Batard broke, the mantra of his show, and the biggest reason why he’s bummed when he misses a day of work. Marc is highly entertaining and a great dude. The conversation below showcases both. Enjoy.
BN: Who are the teams you grew up rooting for and still root for?
MH: I grew up rooting for all the Chicago teams, not the Cubs though, the White Sox. I was a White Sox fan. I was the rare north suburbs White Sox fan. But Bears, Bulls; we had season tickets to the Bears, season tickets to the Bulls. My dad gave up the season tickets to the Bulls the year before MJ got there because he was tired of watching them lose. I was a Blackhawks fan.
After I’d been in Miami a while, I went to see the White Sox play the Marlins and I found myself rooting for the Marlins. I kind of realized like whoa, it just kind of happened. Over the course of time, I do not root for any Chicago teams. I’ve been in Miami so much longer than I was ever in Chicago that I am a Miami fan through and through — Heat, Dolphins, Hurricanes obviously, Panthers, Marlins.
BN: Did your dad ever complain through the years about ‘I never should’ve given up those season tickets’ before MJ got there?
MH: [Laughs] Yeah, we used to ride him pretty hard on that. Everybody has got some sports mistakes; leaving a game early before a miraculous comeback, skipping a game that they could have gone to that turned out to be a memorable game. Yeah, old Papa Hochman had a memorable sports mistake giving up his Bulls season tickets just before MJ was there.
Brian Noe: After you graduated college, how did you get your start in sports radio?
Marc Hochman: I worked at the University of Miami radio station all four years that I went to school there. I was a music DJ for the most part. That’s what I planned on going into. After I graduated in 1991, I sent out cassette tapes because that’s what we did back in 1991. I sent them to all the different radio stations that I could find in phone books and the library. I got a job offer at a tiny, little radio station in a tiny, little town on Lake Okeechobee. I went to be a music DJ from 6 to midnight at WBGF in Belle Glade, Florida. Gradually I made my way to the West Palm Beach radio market as a CHR DJ. I loved playing music and doing the nightclub appearances. That was my dream gig.
I didn’t get into sports radio until 2004 when one of my best friends from college, Dan Le Batard, took this afternoon drive job at a startup radio station in Miami. He called me and said I need an executive producer. I was a music DJ. I said to him I don’t do sports radio. I don’t do talk radio. I do music. He said I’m not going to do the typical sports show. I’m going to do the conversations you and I have been having on our phones since college. This is not going to be anything you’ll ever recognize. That was 17 years ago and I have worked in Miami sports radio for 17 years straight.
BN: Isn’t it funny how that idea is pretty simplistic, but it was groundbreaking to be like, I’m going to talk like a dude and talk how I normally talk on the air, instead of being the typical radio guy.
MH: What Dan did on the air in Miami changed all of sports radio forevermore. Sports radio in Miami was Hank Goldberg. Hank Goldberg was “I give you my opinion, and if you disagree with my opinion, you’re a jagoff”. He used to say that on the air all the time. If you’d call into Hank’s show — it was just callers — and you didn’t agree with him, you were a jagoff. Half the time he’d hang up on you. That’s where you got your information. You trusted the expert who was Hank Goldberg or Eddie K in Miami sports radio. Dan was so completely different. It was jarring to me when we started doing the show.
He would say on the air, wow sorry, listeners, that was a terrible interview. Off the air, I would say to him, you don’t acknowledge that you did a bad interview. He would say well why not? And I didn’t have an answer. I don’t know. You just don’t. And he said but do you think the interview went poorly? And I’d say yeah. And he goes, I think the interview went poorly too, and you know the listeners know that it went poorly. They’re listening. So why should we pretend that we’re great at everything? Why don’t we embrace just having fun and being human? It was so revelatory to me.
The most impactful rule that Dan broke was acknowledging on-air when something wasn’t very good. No host would every admit a segment, an interview, or a bit was bad because they thought that would chip away at their standing of being the expert voice on the radio who listeners went to for the correct opinion. Dan broke that rule from the first show. He let the audience in on what we were doing. The audience became an active participant in the show. Instead of, “I’m the expert host, and you’re the lowly listener,” it became, “I’m the guy with the mic, but we’re all gonna do this show together.”
Thank God the original owners of the station had patience because it was jarring for listeners. It was jarring for salespeople and anyone who had anything to do with talk radio. But because they had the patience to let us work the show out and find its footing, it literally launched him into superstardom and changed I think the course of sports talk radio.
BN: What is the most impactful rule that you break on your show?
MH: The most impactful rule we break on our show is we believe in fun first, then sports. Our four hours on the air are meant to be fun. So many people in radio love to throw the term “wacky morning show” around as if it’s an insult. We embrace that. Crowder and I love being your “wacky morning show in the afternoon.” I’d much prefer to make you laugh so hard that you cry, over breaking news about who the Dolphins are going to draft with their first pick. Entertain first is our mantra.
BN: I don’t know how I became a die-hard Dolphins fan, but I have been since I was a kid. So I’ve listened to you and Channing. You guys do a very entertaining show. It makes me think of Le Batard. What do you think your show might sound like if not for Dan?
MH: Oh my God, I wouldn’t be doing a sports talk show if it wasn’t for him. I really wouldn’t. I’d be playing Rihanna, or I guess at 51 years old I wouldn’t. I’d be on an oldies station playing the Eagles. But I really wouldn’t be doing it because I didn’t like sports radio. It didn’t appeal to me until he started doing it. I absolutely would not have been doing it. My show with Channing is very similar to the original incarnation of the Le Batard show because that was the show that he and I had done on our phones and in our off-campus apartment. He’s Cheesecake Factory and I’m Grand Lux. It’s very similar. You go in and you see a lot of the same entrees.
BN: What’s your reaction to a show that’s constructed to be serious?
MH: I don’t have a problem necessarily with people that do a serious sports talk show or a serious talk show in general because that’s their style. I don’t listen to it because I don’t like that. Channing and I, we always laugh when texts come in and they say, “I can’t listen to you guys anymore, all you do is laugh.” Channing and I will look at each other and we go, is that supposed to be an insult? Who doesn’t love laughing? I love laughing. I love cutting up for four hours a day. I love hanging out with people and insults fly, and stories are told, and laughs are constantly being had. I don’t understand the people that tune in to hear a radio show and want to hear serious takes and opinions that are hard-nosed — like no. That’s not what I want to do.
The show is not for everyone. Dan’s show isn’t for everyone. Howard Stern’s show is not for everyone. Pat McAfee’s show is not for everyone. I don’t listen to serious sports talkers. I don’t mind anyone who does a show — if you’re paid to do a show, you do the show that you want to do. If it works, you’ll do it for a long time. If it doesn’t work, you’ll have to figure out a new route. But I could never do a show like that. It’s just not my personality. I wouldn’t talk that way with my friends. I like to laugh. I like to be around people that like to laugh and so those are the people that we try to attract to the show.
BN: Sometimes athletes that get into sports radio are pretty serious. They’ve been serious about their sport and now they’re serious about their new job. Did Channing not have that vibe from the get-go?
MH: Channing loves trash talking, laughing, finding an offbeat route to take with a story. What I love about radio and what I love about our show, is taking up for something in a very serious fashion that doesn’t deserve serious talk. I love talking seriously about the Mount Rushmore of cheese. The passion that we bring to the Mount Rushmore of cheese is the passion that many sports talkers bring to Marino or Montana, Brady or Mahomes. That’s the fun part of our show. But Channing is like that. That’s his personality.
Our radio pairing was a match made in heaven. I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky I feel every day that Crowder is my radio partner. I don’t know how much you listen to the show but Alejandro Solana, who’s our executive producer, this is the greatest experience that I’ve ever had. And again I worked on Dan’s show. We had a lot of fun and great cast members; I’ve never had a better radio experience than me, Crowder and Solana. If I take a day off, I kind of feel bummed. I love spending the four hours with those guys.
BN: That’s awesome, man. I’m happy for you. Did you know it was going to be special like that from the beginning?
MH: No, I was a little trepidatious because Channing is a big dude, and he’s used to knocking people’s heads off. I am super sarcastic, and I get under people’s skin, and I can’t control my mouth. If he had reacted poorly in the first few weeks of the show and exerted his dominance over me, it would have been a disaster. But he let me know early on, you say whatever you want, insult me, joke about me, joke about my career, joke about anything. I’m going to do the same to you, but we’re going to be laughing the whole way through it. Over the five years, a genuine friendship has developed. He was at my son’s bar mitzvah. He’s just a big part of my life. He’s family.
BN: I see your Twitter header where you’re onstage at an improv night. Do you do stand-up at all?
MH: I did a couple nights of stand up. I used to have a character on the Le Batard show called Marc Hochman Sports Comic. It was just a super hacky comic that Dan and Stugotz would boo. It was just truly awful, awful jokes that really were only punched up by a rimshot. They were rimshot jokes that I would write. They were timely and topical for whatever was going on in sports. A stand-up comedian reached out to me and said I think you would do great on stage. And I’m a ham. I agreed to do a show at the Improv. He said he’d put it together.
I don’t ever like to embarrass myself. I do take a lot of pride in the content that I try to put out. So leading up to the show was so much angst and so many stomachaches and headaches because I really wanted it to go well.
It was the greatest night of my life. I killed on stage. I was supposed to do five minutes; I did 25 minutes. The audience came out, and I was afraid they were coming out to boo me, but they came out to embrace and laugh with me. It was the greatest night. But it had so much angst leading up to it, that I said I can never do this again. I’ve had a zillion offers to and I’ve never done it again.
BN: Going back to your time with Dan and knowing him so well, what are your thoughts on his fallout with ESPN, and what do you expect from him with Meadowlark?
MH: Dan has always marched to his own drum. He’s going to have phenomenal success would be my guess doing what he wants to do. I would say that over the course of the last 17 years has shown that he’s got a pretty good idea for what works and what doesn’t work on radio and in audio. I don’t think he’ll look back at all. I think he’s building a monster.
BN: Do you think this might ultimately be the best thing for him where things are headed?
MH: Oh, without question. His personality is — he wants to make decisions that he thinks are the right decisions creatively. He doesn’t want to worry about business ramifications. When you work for a major company like Disney, you’ve got to worry because they’re worried about ramifications. This is tailor-made for him to be able to create the content that he wants to create, when he wants to create it, with whom he wants to create it. He’s on the road to creating like I said a monster.
BN: Chicago is a hardcore sports town. When you linked up with Dan in Miami to do sports radio, did it feel like he was saying, hey man, I’m going to tell some jokes in church?
MH: Yeah, at the beginning of the show, that’s exactly what it was like because that’s all I knew. Growing up in Chicago, I did listen to some really big Chicago personalities that weren’t really sports talk. Steve Dahl was the guy that I listened to in Chicago. Then they had Kevin Matthews for a while. They liked sports but they were really talk shows more than anything. I didn’t get exposed to much sports talk really until I was in Miami and I listened to some Hank Goldberg and some Jim Mandich. It just wasn’t my cup of tea because it really wasn’t even my personality back then. But I know radio. And I knew what the rules were in radio.
When Dan started breaking every rule that I had ingrained in my head, I had interned at the CBS building in Chicago for B96. So I was around WBBM-AM, the most serious talk station that exists. I knew what the rules were supposed to be. When Dan started breaking every single rule, yeah I would break out into hives practically. I was like “Oh my God, we can’t do this! This is not how radio works!” That’s the story of most successful companies, right? The disruptors. Uber disrupted taxicabs. The disruptors are generally the ones that find the success when everyone has told them no, no, no, you can’t do it this way. Yeah, it was very jarring to me.
BN: What if management came to you guys and said we did all this research, we’ve got to be straight-laced and serious. How would you react to that?
MH: I don’t think I could do it. I just don’t think I could do it because it’s not my personality. If you try to force yourself to be serious on someone else, that’s not really going to work. I’ve had different program directors who have different likes and dislikes. I had a program director when Crowder and I first got together. We were on the topic that everyone has done over the last five years; is a hot dog a sandwich. This program director at the commercial break flung open the door and said are you done with that? Good. And slammed the door. I exploded. I ran down the hall and tore him a new one because first of all, I don’t want to be told that in the middle of a show. If you want to say that to me after the show or in an email, that’s fine. But he obviously had a very different idea of what radio could be or should be than I did. We coexisted for a couple of years. He’s not our program director anymore. But I can’t lose my sense of humor. That’s my personality. It’s just who I am.
BN: Do you have any specific goals going forward that you’d like to accomplish in the next few years?
MH: I marvel at the fun that we’re having on the air right now. We’ve had offers from other places. Bigger opportunities. I don’t think I want to do anything other than what I’m doing, for the rest of my time on radio. It’s been a 17-year run in Miami radio. I’m 51 years old and I love it. I love it every single day. I told you working with Crowder and Solana — I couldn’t have scripted a better radio existence than I have right now. There’s literally nothing that appeals to me other than doing what we’re doing right now.
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.