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Does Sports Radio Value Its Black Audience?

Listening to the radio is FREE. There is no reason why the sports radio format shouldn’t have a higher Black listenership…and more Black hosts. Period.

Rob Taylor

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Congratulations, sports radio! (not really)

You’re so unique! You’re in a lane by yourself! You just so happen to be one of the only mediums in life where the dominating topics involve African Americans, but its hosts and audience are dominated by Whites.

Black folk are NFL fans too'

Seriously….how did this happen?

In urban radio, the format is dominated by Black hip-hop artists and Black on-air personalities like Funkmaster Flex of HOT 97 (New York City) and Big Boy of Real 92.3 (Los Angeles). And a majority of its listening audience is also Black. The same goes with urban adult contemporary radio.

Cable network VH1 got rid of all that “Behind the Music” stuff and went all “Love and Hip Hop,” “Flavor of Love,” “For the Love of Ray J,” and “Basketball Wives,” and not surprisingly, VH1’s audience also went majority-Black.

Place Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take, add rapper Wale to do the show intro, bring Black celebrities onto the show regularly, and whaddya know? The viewership of the two-hour daily First Take was at 53 percent Black, according to 2017 ESPN data, by far the largest Black viewership on ESPN during any part of the day.

One can understand The Golf Channel having a majority-White audience. Same with the NHL Network. But…from LeBron, to Zeke, to Deshaun Watson, to Kevin Durant, how in the world did the sports radio format, which endlessly discusses the actions of athletes that are mainly Black, sustain such a large percentage of White on-air hosts and listeners? African Americans are very engaged in radio; and surely we love sports, so what’s the issue here? And don’t you dare say, “Well, the NFL and NBA are majority-Black but the people who attend the games are majority-White…” That is an economic issue, a lesson in generational wealth, so we won’t even go there in this column…

Listening to the radio is FREE. There is no reason why the sports radio format shouldn’t have a higher Black listenership…and more Black hosts. Period.

I believe that the sports radio format, in general, cannot attract an increasingly Black audience because there are not enough sports radio program directors who “have been” Black. Notice I said, “have been.” As in, sports radio PDs “have always” been White for decades, and just like hockey, NASCAR and golf (with the exception of Tiger Woods), if young African Americans never see people that look like them in certain positions, a lot of them will believe it’s not a viable career choice. So, this goes back decades. 

More African American PDs would eventually equal more Black on-air hosts. More Black PDs would eventually equal more Black producers, executive producers and assistant PDs. The way people snap photos at work with their phones today, word would spread visually on social media and word-of-mouth to other Black individuals that this is a career for you. But you don’t see it, so you just move on to something else.

Terry Foxx is the program director at WFNZ in Charlotte. As outstanding as he is, shouldn’t have to carry the mantle as the only Black sports radio PD in the nation’s top 60 markets. He can’t move these mountains by himself.

I’m not the only one giving an opinion here. Some people in the sports radio format also wanted to weigh in on this column’s polarizing topic: “Does Sports Radio value its Black audience?” Below are the conversations I had with a few of them.

Emmett Golden, on-air host, ESPN Cleveland

Golden, Emmett | Good Karma Brands

Rob: Emmett, do you believe that in general, sports radio is specifically tailored for White men? Or do you think that the Black male audience is also thought about when making programming decisions on hosts, music selections, producer selections, etc?

Emmett: Generally speaking, I would say sports talk radio is tailored to White men because most of the people running radio stations are White men. I believe there are exceptions, but if you look at the lack of Black hosts, especially those that weren’t former pro/college athletes, you can’t help but feel like African Americans aren’t top of mind when people are programming radio stations. Now, over the past year with all of the social unrest going on in our country, I do believe there is a shift happening. I think there is more thought put behind having a diverse line up now than there has ever been before. 

Rob: Why do you believe there aren’t more Black sports radio hosts on the air these days?

Emmett: There are a variety of reasons. One of them is that I don’t think the decision-makers understand the spending power of the African American community. We know that “Cash Rules” and I believe that some people think that there’s more disposable income available from the middle age White man, so let’s hire middle age White men and they can sell to that same audience. Another reason is with the lack of minorities running radio stations there’s a relationship issue. Most people are likely to hire someone they know or someone that gets a referral from a person they know. I understand that’s just how things work but without the representation at the top, it’s tough for minorities to get the, “Hey I know the perfect person for the job” type of opportunity. 

Rob: Last, did you personally find any obstacles getting on air in your sports radio career because of your ethnicity? Or did it maybe help you get on air faster to increase diversity on the station?

Emmett: I feel like I was lucky. I got an opportunity to intern at ESPN Cleveland and after getting that opportunity I was able to show them my value. My ability to build relationships, my willingness to do ANYTHING that was asked of me, and my overall attitude is what separated me from others in my intern class. I got the opportunity and many minorities don’t get the chance. Where I am in my career now being Black (I’m biracial, Black and White, but I know the world sees me as a Black man and I embrace that) could benefit me as more people look to add diversity. The responsibility is on me to open as many doors for young Black men and women so they can get the opportunity that they deserve. I was a part of Good Karma Brands’ launch of 101.7 The Truth in Milwaukee and we need more stations/opportunities like those in the radio business.

Matt Fishman, Program Director, ESPN Cleveland

Matt Fishman Named Dir./Content At WKNR (850 ESPN Cleveland) | AllAccess.com

Rob: Overall, do you believe the sports radio format values its Black audience? For clarification, to those (usually) small percentage of Black listeners who are listening to a particular show, are those listeners valued in say, the show’s music selection, topics, hosts?

Matt Fishman: The great thing about sports is that it creates a place of connection across different races, genders, ages, backgrounds, etc. Ensuring your team is made up of talent from diverse backgrounds allows for unique perspective on various topics and subjects, helps to avoid “blind spots” and reaches and relates to the audience.

Rob: Matt, can you explain, as a program director, how you believe having hosts such as Emmett Golden and Je’rod Cherry impacts, maybe, the diversity of ESPN Cleveland and, maybe, the relatability factor of those hosts to Cleveland’s sizable African American audience?

Matt Fishman: Emmett and Je’rod are amazing. Their show The Next Level is very welcoming to fans of all backgrounds. When last summer’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations were taking place in Cleveland and across the country, Emmett’s perspective as a life-long Clevelander and an African American allowed him to talk about the injustices in a way that only he could.

Jimmy Powers, Brand Manager, 97.1 The Ticket, Detroit

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Rob: Do you believe that in general, sports radio values the Black audience?

Jimmy: Absolutely. Radio as a whole, is a very competitive business and every listener in the DMA is important to the success of our radio stations. Sports radio is no different. Since we have a very niche audience because of the format, all of our listeners are extremely valuable.”

Rob: What do you think can be done to increase, improve Black listenership in sports radio?

Jimmy: Creating content that is relevant and reflective to the listening audience is key. This means discussing major news stories that has an impact on the entire city; regardless if it’s a big local story or a national story, it should resonate to all listener demographics and shouldn’t be avoided. In addition, we need to continue to do our part to find more talent that reflects the market listeners as a whole.”

Scott Shapiro, Vice President, Fox Sports Radio

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Rob: Do you believe that in general, sports radio values the Black audience?

Scott: Every listener is important, no matter their demographic, race or identity. Representation plays a large role in showing the audience that they are valued. It’s no secret that the industry as a whole can do better to have more voices from people of color.  At FOX Sports Radio, it’s important to us and a priority to continue growing and fostering diversity on the network.  When looking across our seven-day-a-week lineup, we’re proud to have eight Black hosts making up 30 hours of weekly airtime. And we’re excited about our most recent launch, Up on Game, which airs Saturdays from 1-3pm ET, headlined by three former NFL players – LaVar Arrington, TJ Houshmandzadeh & Plaxico Burress.

Rob: Were there any reservations or concerns from yourself or anyone associated with FSR/Premiere about having two Black hosts (Rob Parker and Chris Broussard of The Odd Couple) host a daily three-hour program on a syndicated national network?

Scott: There were zero concerns or reservations. It was our idea to put Chris & Rob together, and they are a tremendous pairing that America loves! They host a wonderful show and we are extremely happy with it three years in as it continues to grow.

Rob: Last, how do you think sports radio could begin to cultivate more Black program directors?

Scott: It all starts from the bottom up. Bringing in more diverse voices in the hiring process is the place to start. That way a deeper pool of candidates learn the business from entry level to the managerial stages.

Matt Edgar, Program Director, 680 The Fan, Atlanta

90+ "Matt Edgar" profiles | LinkedIn

Rob: Overall, do you believe the sports radio format values its Black audience? For clarification, to those (usually) small percentage of Black listeners who are listening to a particular show, are those listeners valued in say, the show’s music selection, topics, hosts?

Matt Edgar: I don’t think the Black audience was always valued but I truly believe they are now.  Though I’ve mostly felt sports radio is color blind, more needed to be done to cater to the African American listener by way of hosts.      

Rob: Matt, is Atlanta a market that has a higher than usual Black listenership to The Fan? Or would people be surprised to know that it’s considerably smaller than the market’s percentage of African Americans?

Matt Edgar: The ratings don’t always show a higher than usual Black listenership for us and I honestly believe that’s a Nielson issue.  Whether it’s the make-up of the crowd at one of our events, our callers, feedback, etc., I feel very strong about our African American listener representation.    

Rob: You were the PD of the 2 Live Stews, when they were on the old 790 the Zone. Was the White audience, in general, a fan of the show? And what made it resonate so much with Black listeners?

Matt Edgar: The White audience was a fan of the show for the most part.  It had an originality that sports radio hadn’t heard much of yet…..two brothers, who disagreed & fought like brothers….they were African American, which was very unique to the sports radio landscape back then….they were pure fun! 

I thank those in the sports radio realm who opted to respond with comments for this important topic. If you would like to give your opinion, feel free to email me at rtaylor@newpittsburghcourier.com, and if you’re an African American in this world of sports radio who may have aspirations to become a PD or other commentary, let me know that as well.

Sports Radio leaders, take a look at the daytime programming on ESPN and Fox Sports 1. There’s more African American hosts/contributors on these two national networks from sunup to sundown, you’d think they were broadcasting from the Barber Shop. Mike Greenberg is surrounded by Black contributors, First Take is, well, engrained in African American culture, then Sage Steele anchors Sportscenter, followed by Jalen Rose’s platform, plenty of Black NBAers on The Jump, and you can’t miss Bomani Jones and Dominique Foxworth on Highly Questionable.

On the competition (FS1), there’s Brandon Marshall on First Things First, Shannon Sharpe on Undisputed, Joy Taylor on The Herd, and Marcellus Wiley and Emmanuel Acho on Speak For Yourself. It seems like the national TV sports conversation has a sizable percentage of African American hosts/contributors, unlike local sports radio.

Which brings me to national radio. As Scott Shapiro referenced earlier in this column, Chris Broussard and Rob Parker are making an impact in their daily Fox Sports Radio program as an African American tandem. Unfortunately, it’s very seldom to find two Black hosts with their own local sports radio show.  
And props go out to JR, of the JR Sport Brief Show on CBS Sports Radio, each weeknight from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET. For those who thought he was just filling in during the pandemic…no no…he showed the audience that he was the real deal, as he’s nearly a year and two months into the national program. I had a chance to speak with JR about this column’s topic. He gave me that “look” that I could even see through the email, and he then referred me to a Tweet he posted on Aug. 26, 2020:

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Mike Silver Has An NFL Backstage Pass

“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships.”

Derek Futterman

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It was the 2010 NFL Draft and standout wide receiver Dez Bryant was eligible to be selected by a professional football team. As a journalist, Mike Silver has always looked to enterprise stories and wanted to be with Bryant when the moment he had been waiting for finally arrived.

Through a preexisting relationship with Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, he got in touch with Bryant and received permission to attend his draft celebration. Before being selected in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant revealed to him that then-Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland had asked him during the pre-draft process if his mother was a prostitute.

Once that information was published in Silver’s column, Ireland had to publicly apologize and was subsequently put under investigation by the team’s majority owner Stephen Ross.

“People were like, ‘How did you get that?,’ but I was very proud because really the way I got it was because Deion Sanders respected me enough based on things that had happened decades earlier and the way that I conducted myself that I was able to ultimately get to Dez,” Silver expressed. “That to me is a validation. I’ve nurtured relationships for years and years that have led to zero reporting and thought, ‘It’s okay; it’s just part of the process. It is what it is.’”

From the start, Silver was a believer in journalism and the power the profession had in divulging stories in pursuit of the truth. Born in San Francisco, Calif. and raised in Los Angeles, he would read The Los Angeles Times sports section for a half hour per day, observing the proclivities and vernacular of other writers. As a high school student, he co-authored a sports column in the Palisades Charter High School Tideline with current Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, gaining practical experience in journalism and cultivating professional relationships.

“I was the only Warriors fan in our school because I was born in San Francisco so he used to clown me for being a Warriors and 49ers fan like everyone else in our school – so I ended up having the last laugh,” Silver said. “By old standards, you’d say, ‘You can’t cover Steve Kerr. That’s your friend.’ I think in 2022 if I have to cover Steve Kerr, I’ll just be like, ‘You know what? Everyone knows we’re friends. I’m just going to be up front about it.’”

Silver attended the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communication and media studies. The school was not known for profound levels of success within its football and basketball programs, according to Silver; however, the student newspaper was a place to gain repetitions in covering sports and having finished work published, printed and distributed.

Towards the end of his time in college, Silver wrote stories that were published in The Los Angeles Times, the newspaper he grew up reading and from which he drew inspiration to become a journalist.

“We would tell the players we covered, ‘Hey, we’re trying to go to the pros too, and we’re not going to get jobs in this industry if we don’t write the truth,’” Silver said. “We were trying to break in as legitimate journalists and we definitely ruffled some feathers along the way.”

Once he graduated from school, Silver began his professional career writing for The Sacramento Union where he covered the San Francisco 49ers. Silver grew up as a football fan and was familiar with the team but always tried to find original, untold angles to differentiate his stories from others. Shortly thereafter, he transitioned to join The Santa Clara Press Democrat as a beat writer and used the time to further develop his writing and reporting skills. Five years later, he was in talks to land his dream job as a writer in Sports Illustrated, a prolific sports magazine focused on producing original content.

Sports Illustrated was released on Wednesdays and operated under the belief of trying to omit any stories that may have been reported in the days prior. The goal was to tell stories that were under the radar and would be impactful and memorable for its readers.

During a typical week, Silver would visit both the home and road teams in their own cities with the hopes of connecting with players and team personnel. After a game, he would go to the locker room, yet he would try to avoid doing one-on-one interviews since the content would likely be published elsewhere before the magazine was released.

Then, his writing process commenced and often went through the night, as Sports Illustrated had a 9 a.m. EST deadline the following morning. By taking the approach of enterprising stories, Silver quickly became one of the most venerated and trusted sportswriters in the country, composing over 70 cover stories for the publication.

With the advent of the internet though, journalism and communication was forever changed allowing for the free flow of information and ideas in a timely manner.

“Now I can arrogantly write to whatever length I want and every precious word of mine could be broadcast to the masses, but [back then] you better have it the exact length because it’s going on a page,” Silver said. “You’re maybe reading over a story 15 times or more to get it just right before the seven layers of editing kick in. You’re also leaving theoretically half of your great stuff on the cutting room table never to surface again or seldom.”

Nurturing a relationship built on trust and professionalism is hardly facile in nature, and it required enduring persistence and resolute determination to achieve for Silver. Through these relationships, he has been able to create both distinctive and original types of content. As innovations in technology engendered shifts in consumption patterns though, he decided to do what he originally perceived as being unthinkable and left Sports Illustrated after nearly 13 years.

“When I went there, I felt like we had 30 of the 35 best sportswriters in America and it was murderer’s row,” Silver said of Sports Illustrated. “I had a great, great experience there the whole time so I never thought I’d leave.”

After meeting with Yahoo Sports Executive Editor Dave Morgan and being given an offer with flexibility in the job and a promise of a lucrative salary, Silver knew it was simply too good to pass up. He opted to still write a column on Sundays to counterprogram Peter King at Sports Illustrated, who authored his own weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column.

Additionally, Silver agreed to write two additional branded columns per week in a quest to adapt to the digital age of media.

“I was trying to stay current and connect to an internet generation and keep up with the way that people were consuming their content at that time,” Silver said. “….We just had a spirit at Yahoo that we weren’t owned by anyone, we didn’t have a deal with the league and we were going to report the news in a very unfiltered way.”

An advent of the digital age in media has been the practice of writers appearing on television to present their information en masse, requiring changes in their delivery. Unlike in a written piece, reporting on television requires efficiently making key points and speaking in shorter phrases to allow the viewer to easily follow the discussion. Moreover, writers are sometimes presented with questions that may provoke deeper thought or analysis, and occasionally challenge their lines of reporting.

Silver never thought he would work in television, but as a part of his contract with NFL Media, he was writing columns and serving as an analyst on select NFL Network programming. In working on television on a league-owned entity, it forced him to step out of his comfort zone and pursue mastery of a new skill set.

“I never wanted to do TV voice and be cheesy and look like someone who was trained for the medium so my strategy was more to try to be myself on camera and see how that translated,” Silver articulated. “It seemed to work to some degree – and then obviously I picked up a lot of tricks of the trade and techniques and got better reps. Essentially, I think reporting is reporting [and] information is information.”

Moving into television, a medium with sports coverage that is, at its core, nonlinear due to the potential for breaking news and unexpected occurrences, changed the manner in which the information was presented and/or prioritized on the air. In a column, Silver’s goal was to find original angles and obtain anecdotes and quotes to implement into the storytelling. Now on television, sources were still used largely on the condition of deep background, meaning no individual or group could be attributed to the information in any way.

“With TV, there was an element of, ‘Hey man, I’m just trying to sound smart when I talk about you guys,’ which is code for, ‘I don’t have to use your name when I say this stuff, but when I’m weighing on why you just traded for Trent Richardson, help me understand what’s really going on with the Indianapolis Colts at this moment,’” Silver explained. “That’s just a random example. I liked [television] more than I thought I would.”

Silver’s contract was not renewed at NFL Network in 2021, providing a stark change in his lifestyle and leaving him looking for a job in the midst of trying economic times. Through a relationship he had with sports radio host Colin Cowherd, he was given the opportunity to join his upstart podcast platform The Volume as a host. Cowherd eagerly recruited Silver to the platform following a lunch in which the topic came up naturally in conversation about future endeavors.

“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships and I have a lot of them from players, coaches, owners and GMs to media people and friends in other industries, etc.,” he explained. “Colin Cowherd is someone I’ll never, ever, ever forget or stop being grateful to…. We were kind of talking some stuff out and he was like, ‘Why don’t we do a show on my network?,’ and we started talking about what that would be. We left lunch… and about 10 minutes later he called me and said, ‘Okay, here’s what I think,’ and kind of continued it.”

Today, Silver is hosting an interview-based program called Open Mike featuring guests from the world of professional football. Recent guests on the program have included Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones. Prior to joining The Volume, Silver had hosted a podcast with his daughter called Pass It Down, which ultimately ran for over 50 episodes and gave him experience working within the medium.

“I’m sitting there spending an hour with [Las Vegas] Raiders GM Dave Ziegler or [Buffalo Bills] linebacker Von Miller or whoever we have on,” Silver said. “You’re not only getting to know that person; you’re watching the way I connect with that person and usually have a body of work with that person, and there’s a comfort level there too.”

John Marvel was Silver’s direct boss at NFL Media and a friend he kept in touch with for many years. Through various correspondences and the dynamic media landscape, they decided to start their own media venture called Backstage Media. The company has a first-look deal with Meadowlark Media – a company co-founded by John Skipper, who also serves as its chief executive officer. Skipper was formerly the president of ESPN and someone Silver wished he had worked for earlier in his career.

“I did not know John Skipper before I left NFL Network,” he said. “I didn’t particularly have a dream to [ever] work at ESPN. We’ve had conversations over the years – ESPN and I – and it never seemed like the perfect fit for me. Now that I know John Skipper, it’s like ‘I would have worked for that guy any time.’ He’s fantastic, [and] I’m just so pumped to be in business with him.”

The company, which focuses on producing documentaries and other unscripted programming through the intersection of sports, music and entertainment, has various projects in development. The idea was derived out of both of their penchants for storytelling and an attempt to utilize new platforms built for engagement within the modern-day media marketplace.

“We’re hoping that documentaries, docuseries [and] episodic podcasts – mostly unscripted – …will be kind of our wheelhouse,” Silver said. “….There’s about four big things that are [hopefully] close to being announced. One’s football; one’s boxing; one is basketball; and one is kind of a blend of some things. I feel like we have a pretty diverse set of interests.”

Joining The San Francisco Chronicle as a football reporter has been indicative of a full-circle moment for Silver, as he is once again around the San Francisco 49ers and writing columns about the team and other sports around the Bay Area at large. Today, he is working with Scott Ostler and Ann Kllion, and directly with Eric Branch on the outlet’s 49ers coverage. Through it all, he seeks to continue gaining access to places that the ordinary person would only be able to dream about in order to tell compelling and informative stories, no matter how they may be delivered or on what platform(s) to which it may be distributed.

“I’m old school in a lot of my mentality in terms of journalism and storytelling and all of that,” Silver said. “I think those things don’t go away. I think it’s journalism first; relationship first; access first; storytelling first; and you figure out the rest.”

As for the future of the profession which has ostensibly become less defined because of the evolution of social media and communication, relationships and storytelling have truly become the differentiators. Silver aims to continue practicing what has allowed him to gain exclusive scoops in the industry and tell stories that would otherwise, perhaps, fly under the radar, but do so in a way that does not jeopardize his sources.

“I’m going to try to develop relationships and cultivate relationships where people trust me and give me a sense of what’s going on,” he said. “I’m going to try to get into places that you, as the consumer, couldn’t otherwise go and take you there, and I’m going to err on the side of the relationship as opposed to finding out one thing that could cause a splash that day on Twitter.”

Some athletes are hosting podcasts or writing columns to directly communicate with their fans, including Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green on The Volume, intensifying the quest for engagement and attraction. Yet Silver advises journalists looking to break into the industry not to get distracted in meeting certain metrics, instead adhering to best practices and reporting truthful information without ambiguity.

“Just don’t get undone by the noise,” Silver said. “Put your head down; hyperfocus; grind; tell good stories; do journalism and hopefully over the course of time, that will stand out. I’d still like to believe that.”

Covering professional sports, specifically football, generates a large amount of potential storylines on which journalists can report – and today, digital platforms give them the ability to cover them in different ways. While some scoops may requit a large article, others may be able to be told in 280 characters or less, such as a trade rumor or injury. The amount of information Silver and his colleagues uncovered working for a print publication and then had to omit because of space limitations underscores a key journalistic principle of efficient and truthful storytelling. In today’s media landscape, he hopes to be able to do that regardless of its means of dissemination.

“If you went back and just looked at our normal… feature or story off a game [and] the level we reported on a Wednesday and translated that to a Twitter generation, people would lose their minds about how much we found out and how much we reported with on-the-record quotes usually, and they’d be like, ‘He said what!?,” Silver said. “That’s all we knew and that’s [how] we did it…. I don’t think people understand how much the threshold has changed. It’s all good. The most important things hopefully haven’t changed.”

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BSM Writers

Video Simulcasts Are Now A Must Have For Sports Radio

All of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way. 

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Video simulcasts of sports talk radio and podcasts have gone up extraordinarily in quality as of late. The craft started as a novelty that very few participated in. ESPN and YES Network dominated the genre with their simulcasts of Mike and Mike in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog respectively. Slowly but surely other sports networks and RSN’s picked up the genre over time and it has now become a major component within sports coverage in the streaming world.

The most popular and prominent shows in the medium right now include The Dan Patrick Show, The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, The Pat McAfee Show, and The Rich Eisen Show. These four shows in particular have done an excellent job of independently producing and building out their video content to look visually appealing while also engage with the audience through graphics, pictures, stats on screen. In McAfee’s case, his company even entered into a rights agreement with the NFL for highlights.

Finding their shows can be difficult at times. Eisen’s show has moved from television to Peacock and to Roku Channel all within the span of a couple years. When LeBatard’s shipping container first began their live video voyage they didn’t have a consistent schedule. Patrick’s show has also leapt between RSNs, national networks, YouTube and its current home on Peacock. But all of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way. 

The video simulcasts have become so lucrative for these shows that they’ve found sponsors to advertise against what they’re offering and they ensure that they pay attention to the look of the show. Commercials that feel like television play during Patrick and Eisen’s shows. Logos are displayed during LeBatard’s broadcast and NFL Films vignettes that you would find on NFL Network air in the middle of McAfee’s broadcast.

McAfee’s show recently moved into a new studio in Indianapolis specifically built for them by FanDuel and just yesterday LeBatard announced they would be moving into their own state of the art studio in Miami that will help expand their creativity. Patrick’s show doesn’t even have guests call into their show anymore – most join via Zoom. Eisen’s guests are more often than not in studio. All of these shows also upload highlights relatively quickly to YouTube. They’re still audio-first but video is no longer secondary. It is 1A in terms of importance.

As much as these simulcasts feel close to real TV, there are still some hijinks that fans have to get used to that aren’t the same as a regular TV broadcast. During LeBatard’s broadcast, a rolling loop of their own self produced album plays during breaks. While the songs are hilarious in nature, if you’re a weekly viewer of their simulcast it might get tiresome to hear every time there is a break.

A loop of some of the show’s greatest moments and some of the side projects Meadowlark Media produces might be more engaging and help reduce drop off rate. McAfee’s show also struggles with white balancing their cameras almost every telecast. At times in the middle of a conversation during the show, discoloration occurs before changing back to normal skin tones.

Patrick’s show has used the same set of graphics since it began simulcasting on NBC’s linear sports network years ago which could be a turnoff for younger viewers of the internet era who always want change in order to grab their attention. Eisen’s show has awkward interruptions happen in the middle of conversations because commercial breaks are different in length on terrestrial radio vs. streaming.

At the end of the day though, these shows are the epitome of what it means to have grit and guts to achieve your American dream. Although their productions are subsidized and/or licensed by big media platforms and sports books, their social media presence and the actual production of these shows was built on their own. During the first couple of weeks after LeBatard’s show left ESPN, the former columnist could often be heard teasing listeners that they were working on building a video enterprise and how difficult it was.

It’s hard to stand on your own in sports talk media without the backing of superpowers like ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and Turner who have been producing live broadcasts for decades. But these shows have found a way to do so in a new world that is tailored towards doing everything on your own. 

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BSM Writers

5 Ideas For December Sales Success

How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea?

Jeff Caves

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Now is the time to put your foot on the gas for a great start to 2023-not waiting til January. With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day all falling on weekends, you can’t count on who will be at work the Friday or Monday around those holidays in December.

So, looking forward from here, you only have 15 or so days that you can count on your clients and prospects to be at work before the end of 2022. And, if they are at work, consider their motivation or lack of it before approaching them. But here are five ways to attack December.

Cutting a year-end deal

Make sure you go back from the potential start date of the schedule and allow for production, proposal, and acceptance. That usually means you need a week from when you present a year-end idea to when the schedule starts. So, aim to have all appointments booked by 12/9, so you can sell 2-week packages that begin Monday, 12/19. That will give you a sense of urgency and gives you five solid business days to sell your ass off starting Monday.

5-day sale

Make all your pricing and payment terms expire by Friday, 12/9. You can always extend if need be once they give a partial commitment. You want anybody involved in the decision to sign off and let you cut this deal! The idea here is to create urgency and work ahead.

Beat the bushes

Do you want to wake up on 1/2/23 with an empty pipeline? How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea? Don’t try to qualify these prospects over the phone. Do it in January when both of you are fresh but get that commitment NOW. Look for your new client avatar.

Be gracious

From now til the end of the year is also an excellent time to meet with your sales assistant, traffic manager, production person, or anybody who helps you at the station. Sit down with them face to face and see what you can do better to make their job easier. Give them some ideas on how they can help you as well. Mend some fences or make new friends; the reason tis the season. Surprise them with a Cheetos popcorn tin for less than $10. Please do it. You will be surprised by what you hear because this is a popular time of year for layoffs, transfers, and people taking new jobs.

Practice a new pitch

December is also a great time to record yourself doing a webinar and start planning to let your content do the talking. Wouldn’t it be nice if your 10-minute talk on how to make live reads work, how to buy radio, or why your audience buys the most widgets produced some warm leads? Practice and get going!

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