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No One Wants To Work Or No One Wants To Work For You?

We don’t have to watch quality people turn to digital media or leave the business to sell real estate or open a bar and say “well, I guess nobody believes in radio anymore.”

Demetri Ravanos




You have seen the stories popping up online. Every week some fast food franchisee posts a sign on their door or on their drive through speaker with a message to the effect that the establishment is short staffed because no one wants to work anymore. It’s hard to find people to squirt sour cream out of a caulk gun onto your Doritos Locos Taco for $8 per hour when they’re getting a sweet $300 per week from the government! Weird how all of these signs, which pop up at different businesses in different parts of the country, all have the exact same message written in the exact same font…but I digress.

Four different companies. Exact same wording. They must use the same  Anti-wage propaganda website. : antiwork

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the narrative being pushed is that it has to be the fault of lazy workers and not the fault of shitty employers that don’t offer higher wages or meaningful benefits. The fact is that people want to work, they just don’t see the point in working multiple minimum wage jobs just to get their nose above the poverty line. That’s a failure of the system, not individuals that are fed up.

When I was just starting in the business, I was told that you really had to love radio. This business would never make you rich. As I got older, I heard that was Clear Channel’s fault. Then I worked with people that had come from Clear Channel and I was told that it was fine there. Really it was Cumulus’s fault. Then I got to know folks at the Cumulus building across the street and heard from them that Entercom was the real problem in the industry. You get it. The road keeps winding just like this.

The reality is that regardless of company, the radio industry has the exact same problem as any other business struggling to find good people. From the outside looking in, the problem is obvious. When you’re in the forest though, it can be tough to see that the individual trees say things like “low pay” and “shitty benefits”.

About two weeks ago, Rob Taylor wrote about the overwhelming desire of young people to work in the sports media and the absolute lack of interest in radio from those exact same young people. If we want to understand why new talents aren’t interested in our business and why established talents keep leaving for different fields and platforms, we have to first acknowledge there is a problem and make an effort to understand what it is.

People of all ages don’t look at sports radio as a realistic career path in the media. Why? Because while there are plenty of people in the industry that are doing just fine, the majority of people working in radio will tell you that it offers no realistic path to a comfortable living. So, let’s see what we can do better.

First, let’s acknowledge the paycheck. Way too many positions in radio pay way too little. That is true in major markets. It is true in unrated markets. It is true of full-time positions. It is true of the positions that used to be full-time and are now filled by two part-timers.

How many producers have you worked with that are getting paid somewhere in there area of $10 per hour? How many of those producers have a strict cap of 29 hours per week? Where is the motivation to get better with those restrictions? There is absolutely no message from corporate that starting at the bottom is a path to eventually being at the top.

Clinging to the idea that this business will never make anyone rich is not working for us. I am not advocating that every single producer position start with a $60,000 per year base. What I am suggesting is that exploring an opportunity that clearly will require a candidate to have a roommate or live with their parents and maybe take on a second job just to scrape by isn’t really a recipe for finding diamonds. There may be a few, but really, you’re just gonna be stuck with a lot of rocks.

Producers aren’t the only ones that suffer from this. Do you know how many hosts I have talked to that have turned down jobs in bigger markets because they weren’t even being offered the same money they are currently making?

There are some companies in this business that do pay their people well for their work, and those companies can be hard to move on from, but that isn’t the norm. What is way more common is that corporate or management has determined that their afternoon drive opening is a $40,000 per year position and they have no money for moving expenses. The offers are presented as “take it or leave it”.

Is no one at the top stopping to think how much this severely limits the pond where they can fish for talent? Is no one thinking about the message this sends about the company to the rest of the industry and the way your next help wanted ad will be received? Let me answer that. The message is you don’t care about quality and no matter how good of a job an employee does, it isn’t valued.

That brings us to the next thing we need to acknowledge. It can be hard to feel valued in this business.

1,980 Unhappy Group Of Employees Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free  Images

How many of us started out as part-timers? How many of us got to the point where we demonstrated some level of competency and were told that we were so important to the station that the company was going to use us as often as possible, but that we would have to be cool with not being paid for our efforts?

Program directors, I need you to be honest with yourself here. How often have you told a part-time producer that you need him or her to work 40 hours this week but only write down that he/she worked 29? “I’ll hook you up with some gift cards” is usually how it is sold. KNOCK THAT OFF! JESUS CHRIST! You’re telling people that they need to be cool with a barter system, when employment law clearly states that isn’t how this thing works.

Stations all over America run syndicated programming except for in a single weekday day part. That’s not uncommon. It also isn’t uncommon for a station to have the host of that day part be the one and only full-time employee on the payroll.

No full-time producer. No program director. These stations just rely on a host with no real, reliable support staff and no one to tell them what is and isn’t working. How do we expect talented people to want to take on a job like that? How do we expect people that have talent and just need room to grow to see a future in a job like that?

Also, and I have written about this before, talent and programmers are not given the chance to work with people that are actually qualified. Someone who’s lone qualification is that they press buttons on the board during a minor league baseball game is turned into the morning show’s executive producer not because they showed any other competency. It is because we keep taking full-time jobs and turning them into part-time positions.

It’s not just producers. It is hosts too, and I am talking about hosts in weekday prime slots. It takes a lot to create a unique two, three, or four hour show and as an industry, we are telling the people we are trusting to do that that any effort they put into their show beyond the time they are in the studio is not valuable to us.

Finally, we need to acknowledge where we can do better and ask ourselves if we are giving every employee an opportunity to grow? Are we investing in our own success by investing in theirs?

How do you respond when an employee wants to talk about their career? Does the idea of them valuing their career over the company’s needs make you uncomfortable? Does it feel like that is something that is even okay to talk about?

Very few people get into sports talk radio because they want to be a producer forever. In fact, most only think about the possibility of becoming a producer when they realize that is the first step to becoming a host.

It can be scary to ask your boss what you need to do to get to the next level. Meeting that vulnerability with “You’re a producer. I need you to focus on that right now,” is a surefire way to kill any drive to get better and to do it in a way that could benefit the station.

What about working with hosts? Do programmers and GMs evaluate what they are hearing from a quality standpoint or does the evaluation stop with “is this making money”? A show that isn’t challenged to do more doesn’t help a station and it can lead to complacency. It can also lead to hosts wondering how much the people up top even care about or know what is going on on his or her show.

Employee growth also means helping to grow their own wealth. As a programmer, are you taking the time to get to know your people on a personal level so that you can go into sales meetings and say that you know your morning co-host loves his dog or cat. Let’s go get him an endorsement from a local animal hospital? Are you encouraging your talent to attend and advocate for themselves? As a sales manager, have you done the work to learn what all of the benchmarks on your station are so that you can help your staff explain to clients why each one is worth sponsoring?

Face-to-face meetings still preferable despite pandemic – Business Traveller

Nothing in this article is meant to dump on radio. I love this business. Everything I wrote about here is fixable. We don’t have to watch quality people turn to digital media or leave the business to sell real estate or open a bar and say “well, I guess nobody believes in radio anymore.”

Saying “no one wants to work anymore” is lazy and you know it is untrue. Asking “why does no one want to work for me?” or “why does no one have faith in this business?” forces you to come up with answers and take action. If you have a problem, that is how it gets solved.

BSM Writers

Is There Still a Place for Baseball Talk on National Sports Shows?

“Its struggle has been the same since the beginning of television. There is too much baseball for any regular season baseball game or story to have national significance.”

Demetri Ravanos




Last week at the BSM Summit, I hosted a panel focused on air checks. I wish I could say we covered the topic thoroughly, but we got derailed a lot, and you know what? That is okay. It felt like real air checks that I have been on both sides of in my career. 

Rob Parker of The Odd Couple on FOX Sports Radio was the talent. He heard thoughts on his show from his boss, Scott Shapiro, and from his former boss, legendary WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff. 

Baseball was the topic that caused one of our derailments on the panel. If you know Rob, you know he is passionate about Major League Baseball. He cited download numbers that show The Odd Couple’s time-shifted audience responds to baseball talk. To him, that proves there is not just room for it on nationally syndicated shows, but that there is a sizable audience that wants it.

Chernoff disagrees. He says baseball is a regional sport. Sure, there are regions that love it and local sports talk stations will dedicate full hours to discussing their home team’s games and roster. National shows need to cast a wide net though, and baseball doesn’t do that.

Personally, I agree with Chernoff. I told Parker on stage that “I hear baseball talk and I am f***ing gone.” The reason for that, I think, is exactly what Chernoff said. I grew up in Alabama (no baseball team). I live in North Carolina (no baseball team). Where baseball is big, it is huge, but it isn’t big in most of the country. 

Now, I will add this. I used to LOVE baseball. It is the sport I played in high school. The Yankees’ logo was on the groom’s cake at my wedding. Then I had kids.

Forget 162 games. Even five games didn’t fit into my lifestyle. Maybe somewhere deep down, I still have feelings for the sport, but they are buried by years of neglect and active shunning.

Its struggle has been the same since the beginning of television. There is too much baseball for any regular season baseball game or story to have national significance. 

Me, and millions of sports talk listeners like me, look at baseball like a toddler looks at broccoli. You probably aren’t lying when you tell us how much you love it, but damn it! WE WANT CHICKEN FINGERS!

A new Major League Baseball season starts Thursday and I thought this topic was worth exploring. I asked three nationally syndicated hosts to weigh in. When is baseball right for their show and how do they use those conversations? Here is what they had to say.

FREDDIE COLEMAN (Freddie & Fitzsimmons on ESPN Radio) – “MLB can still be talked nationally IF there’s that one player like Aaron Judge or Shohei Ohtani can attract the casual fan.  MLB has definitely become more local because of the absence of that SUPER player and/or villainous team.  I wonder if the pace of play will help bring in the younger fans that they need, but the sport NEEDS that defining star that is must-see TV.”

JONAS KNOX (2 Pros & a Cup of Joe on FOX Sports Radio) – “While football is king for me in sports radio, I look at baseball like most other sports. I’m not opposed to talking about it, as long as I have an angle or opinion that I am confident I can deliver in an entertaining manner. A couple of times of any given year, there are stories in baseball that are big picture topics that are obvious national discussions. 

“I think it’s my job to never close the door on any topic/discussion (except politics because I don’t know anything about it).

“But also, if I’m going to discuss a localized story in baseball or any other sport for that matter – I better have an entertaining/informed angle on it. Otherwise, I’ve let down the listener and that is unacceptable. If they give you their time, you better not waste it.”

MAGGIE GRAY (Maggie & Perloff on CBS Sports Radio) – “While I was on WFAN there was almost no amount of minutia that was too small when it came to the Mets and Yankees. On Maggie and Perloff, our baseball topics have to be more centered around issues that can be universal. For example, ’Is Shohei Ohtani the face of the sport? Is Ohtani pitching and hitting more impressive than two sport athletes like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders? Do you consider Aaron Judge the single-season homerun king or Barry Bonds?’ Any baseball fan or sports fan can have an opinion about those topics, so we find they get great engagement from our audience.”

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BSM Writers

Who Can Sports Fans Trust Once Twitter Ditches Legacy Verified Blue Checks?

The potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

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As of April 1, Twitter will finally make a dreaded change that many will view as an April Fools’ prank. Unfortunately, it won’t be a joke to any user who cares about legitimacy and truth.

Last week, Twitter officially announced that verified blue checkmarks will be removed from accounts that have not signed up for a Twitter Blue subscription. Previously, accounts whose identity had been verified were allowed to keep their blue checks when Twitter Blue was implemented.

But shortly after Elon Musk purchased Twitter and became the social media company’s CEO, he stated his intention to use verification as a revenue source. Users would have to pay $8 per month (or $84 annually) for a Twitter Blue subscription and blue checkmark verification. Paying for blue checks immediately set off red flags among users who learned to depend on verified accounts for accredited identities and trusted information.

The entire concept of verification and blue checks was simple and effective. Users and accounts bearing the blue checkmark were legitimate. These people and organizations were who they said they were.

As an example, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has faced criticism for how he framed domestic violence and sexual misconduct involving star NFL players, and deservedly so. But fans and media know Schefter’s tweets are really coming from him because his account is verified.

Furthermore, Twitter took the additional step of clarifying that accounts such as Schefter’s were verified before Twitter Blue was implemented. He didn’t pay eight dollars for that blue checkmark.


The need for verification is never more vital than when fake accounts are created to deceive users. Such accounts will put “Adam Schefter” as their Twitter name, even if their handle is something like “@TuaNeedsHelp.” Or worse, some fake accounts will create a handle with letters that look similar. So “@AdarnSchefter” with an “rn” in place of the “m,” fools some people, especially at a quick glance when people are trying to push news out as fast as possible.

Plenty of baseball fans have been duped over the years by fake accounts using a zero instead of an “o” or a capital “I” instead of a lowercase “l” to resemble Fox Sports and The Athletic reporter Ken Rosenthal. That trick didn’t get me. But when I covered Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report 10 years ago, I did fall for a fake Jim Salisbury account that reported the Philadelphia Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants. Capital “I,” not lowercase “l” in “Salisbury.” Pence was, in fact, traded to the Giants two days later, but that didn’t make my goof any less embarrassing. I should’ve looked for the blue checkmark!

But after April 1, that signifier won’t matter. Legacy blue checkmarks will be removed from accounts that haven’t paid for Twitter Blue. Some accounts that were previously verified might purchase a subscription to maintain that blue check. But those that were deemed legitimate prior to Musk taking over Twitter likely won’t. (There are also rumors that Twitter is considering a feature that would allow Twitter Blue subscribers to hide their blue check and avoid revealing that purchase.)

That could be even more true for media organizations, which are being told to pay $1000 per month for verification. Do you think ESPN, the New York Times, or the Washington Post will pay $12,000 for a blue check?

We’ve already seen the problems that paying for verification can cause. Shortly after Twitter Blue launched, accounts pretending to be legacy verified users could be created. A fake Adam Schefter account tweeted that the Las Vegas Raiders had fired head coach Josh McDaniels. Users who saw the “Adam Schefter” Twitter name went with the news without looking more closely at the “@AdamSchefterNOT” handle. But there was a blue checkmark next to the name this time!

The same thing occurred with a fake LeBron James account tweeting that the NBA superstar had requested a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers. There was a “@KINGJamez” handle, but a “LeBron James” Twitter name with a blue check next to it.

Whether it’s because fans and media have become more discerning or Twitter has done good work cracking down on such fake accounts, there haven’t been many outrageous examples of deliberate deception since last November. But the potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

If that seems like an overstatement, it’s a very real possibility that there will be an erosion of trust among Twitter users. Media and fans may have to take a breath before quickly tweeting and retweeting news from accounts that may or may not be credible. False news and phony statements could spread quickly and go viral across social media.

Even worse, Musk has announced that only verified Twitter Blue accounts will be seen in your “For You” timeline as of April 15. (He can’t claim it’s an April Fools’ Day joke on that date.)

Obviously, that carries far more serious real-world implications beyond sports. Forget about a fake Shams Charania account tweeting that Luka Dončić wants to be traded to the Lakers. It’s not difficult to imagine a fake Joe Biden account declaring war on Russia and some people believing it’s true because of the blue checkmark.

We may be nearing the end of Twitter being a reliable news-gathering tool. If the accounts tweeting out news can’t be trusted, where’s the value? Reporters and newsmakers may end up going to other social media platforms to break stories and carry the viability of verification.

When Fox Sports’ website infamously pivoted to video in 2017, Ken Rosenthal posted his MLB reporting on Facebook prior to joining The Athletic. Hello, Instagram. Will someone take their following and reputation to a fledgling platform like Mastodon, Post, Spoutible, or BlueSky, even if it means a lesser outlet?

If and when that happens, Twitter could still be a community but not nearly as much fun. Not when it becomes a matter of trust that breaks up the party.

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BSM Writers

There’s a Lesson For Us All in Florida Atlantic’s Elite 8 Broadcast Struggle

“It is a ton of faith our industry has been forced to place in a single mode of delivery.”

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Ken LaVicka and Kevin Harlan probably don’t have a ton in common. Both of them were announcing an Elite Eight game over the weekend, that is one thing tying them together, but their experiences were wildly different. Harlan is on CBS with a production crew numbering in the dozens making certain all goes smoothly. LaVicka, the voice of the Florida Atlantic Owls, is a production crew himself, making certain those listening in South Florida heard the Owls punch their Final Four ticket. At least, that was LaVicka’s plan.

The Florida Atlantic Owls are going to the Men’s Final Four. Even while typing that sentence, it still seems odd to say. Do you know how many college basketball teams are thinking “how can Florida Atlantic make the Final Four and we can’t?” These are the types of stories that make the NCAA Tournament what it is. There is, literally, no barrier stopping any team from this tournament going on the run of their life and making it all the way.

Everyone listening in South Florida almost missed the moment it all became real for the Owls. With :18.6 to go in Florida Atlantic’s Elite Eight game against Kansas State, the Madison Square Garden Ethernet service to the front row of media seating went completely dark. 

It was on that row that Ken LaVicka was painting the picture back to South Florida. Well, he was until the internet died on him.

Nobody does a single show away from their home studio anymore without trying to avoid the nightmare of Ethernet failure. Gone are the days of phone lines and ISDN connections, all the audio and video is now sent back to the studio over the technological miracle that is the internet. It is a ton of faith our industry has been forced to place in a single mode of delivery.

Take that anxiety and multiply it by 1,000 when that Ethernet line is connected to a Comrex unit for the most important moment of your career. LaVicka had the great fortune of a Kansas State timeout to try something, anything, to save the day. In his quick thinking, he spun around and grabbed an ethernet cable from row two which, as it turns out, still had internet access flowing through it’s cables. That cable, though, was the equivalent of an iPhone charging cord; never as long as you need it to be.

One of LaVicka’s co-workers from ESPN West Palm held the Comrex unit close enough to the second row for the cable to make a connection and the day was saved. LaVicka was able to call the last :15 of the Florida Atlantic win and, presumably, get in all the necessary sponsorship mentions.

It was an exciting end to the FAU v. Kansas State game, a great defensive stop by the Owls to seal the victory. LaVicka told the NCAA’s Andy Katz he tried to channel his inner Jim Nantz to relay that excitement. The NCAA Tournament excitement started early this year. In the very first TV window 13 Seed Furman upset 4 Seed Virginia with a late three pointer by JP Pegues, who had been 0-for-15 from beyond the arc leading up to that shot. It is the type of play the NCAA Tournament is built upon.

It was called in the manner Kevin Harlan’s career was built upon. Harlan, alongside Stan Van Gundy and Dan Bonner, called the Virginia turnover leading to the made Furman basket with his trademark excitement before laying out for the crowd reaction. After a few seconds of crowd excitement he asked his analysts, and the world, “Did we just see what I think we saw? Wow!” Vintage Kevin Harlan.

One reason we are so aware of what Harlan said, and that he signaled his analysts to lay out for the crowd reaction, was a CBS Sports tweet with video of Harlan, Van Gundy and Bonner in a split screen over the play. It gave us a rare look at a pro in the middle of his craft. We got to see that Harlan reacts just like he sounds. The video has more than six million views and has been retweeted more than 6,000 times, a lot of people seem to like it.

Kevin Harlan is not in that group. Harlan appeared on Richard Deitsch’s Sports Media podcast after the video went public and said he was embarrassed by it. Harlan added he “begged” CBS not send the tweet out but to no avail. Harlan told Deitsch “I don’t know that I’m glad that they caught our expression, but I’m glad the game was on the air. I think I join a chorus of other announcers who do not like the camera.”

There’s a valuable announcer lesson from Harlan there; the audience is almost always there for the game, not you. Harlan went on to describe the broadcast booth to Deitsch as somewhat of a sacred place. He would prefer to let his words accompany the video of the action to tell the story. Kevin Harlan is as good as they come at his craft, if he thinks that way, there’s probably great value in that line of thought.

We can learn from LaVicka, as well. You work in this business long enough and you come to accept technical difficulties are as much a part of it as anything. They always seem to strike at the worst times, it is just in their nature. Those who can find a way to deal with them without everything melting down are those who can give their audience what they showed up for. Those who lose their mind and spend time complaining about them during the production simply give the audience information they don’t really care about.

The Final Four is an unlikely collection of teams; Miami, San Diego State, Connecticut and Florida Atlantic. You all had that in your brackets, right? Yep, the Florida Atlantic Owls are going to the Final Four and Ken LaVicka will be there for it. Now, if the internet will just hold out.

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Barrett Media Writers

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