It was going to take the perfect job opportunity for Jon Goulet to leave Fox Sports Radio. The funny thing is he didn’t exactly know what the perfect job was, until Jason Barrett told him about a new opportunity over the phone.
“It was funny,” said Goulet. “He brought up two different jobs and I didn’t even hear the other one. I was completely focused on the VSiN opportunity. I was all in. It was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.”
Truth be told, Goulet thought he was a longshot for the job. If it didn’t work out, he’d be totally content with continuing his long run as Colin Cowherd’s producer. But despite his doubts, VSiN called with the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I really loved VSiN”s approach and the passion they had for Vegas,” Goulet said. “I loved how much they were willing to have real gambling discussions about things at a deeper level than other places. On a personal level, being a PD was always my goal. I grew up in radio, my dad has been in it since about 1970 and I grew up in radio stations and watched him as a PD when I was kid. I knew that was the path I wanted to take. You combine something I was passionate about, which is sports betting, a city I wanted to live in, and then a job I always wanted, it was the absolute perfect situation for me.”
It’s still almost a surreal feeling for Goulet when he walks into the casino at Circa for work every day. He admits he’s biased, but still swears it’s the best sports book he’s ever seen. For a guy that’s seen a lot of them, that’s quite the ringing endorsement.
But his focus on content has completely shifted since leaving The Herd. Instead of being solely focused on just one show, he has an entire network of shows he’s focused on. His role at Fox Sports Radio was to essentially take a sporting event, news story or anything else that was deemed as good content, and look at it through the lens of Cowherd’s show. That’s not the same at VSiN. It’s been a big adjustment, but one that he’s prepared himself for. Now, Goulet’s focus is less on what the biggest stories are and more of what stories most impact sports betting.
“A perfect example is this,” Goulet explained. “I’m sure Colin’s lead today was Aaron Rodgers because he turned down a contract extension with the Packers. One of our leads was the fact Scott Foster is officiating Game 6 tonight in the NBA Finals. Now, that sounds dumb, but when he officiates Chris Paul’s teams in the playoffs he’s 0-12. That is a huge story in the sports gambling world.
“That Aaron Rodgers story, my face would’ve lit up if I was still with Colin. Now it’s just, ehh, whatever (laughs).”
The future is bright at VSiN. There’s several reasons why that’s the case, but hiring Goulet to steer the ship from his PD position is definitely one of them.
“I think we can grow in a lot of ways,”Goulet said. “I think we’re set up for massive growth on television, through local affiliates such as Marquee in Chicago or NESN in Boston and things like that. I think there’s a huge demand for sports betting content on every platform. I even think from a radio perspective, there’s a lot of syndicated radio programming, but let’s face it, right now is not great from a lot of the major networks and I think a lot of those local stations are going to realize they need sports gambling content that fits their audience. I think you’ll also see growth in our podcasts. We are really set up to grow in every direction available to us. That’s what attracted me to what they’re doing here. We do everything and we do it well.”
VSiN has an impressive lineup of hosts on the network. From a talent perspective, if my new PD was the ex-producer of The Herd, half of me would be really excited and the other half would be completely nervous. On on hand, he knows what great sports radio sounds like and could help every host improve their game. On the other hand, he’s used to listening to the best in the business. How will I sound to him when he first hears me?
“You can’t expect every host here to be Colin,” Goulet said. “But what I try to do is take some of the things he does that we can duplicate and apply them. Listen, nobody is going to rant for three hours the way he does. But what you can do, and I know from behind the scenes, one of the things that makes Colin great is the time he puts in. He goes on the air at 9:00 pacific but he’s in the building at 6:00. Those are things that anyone in this building can do to raise the bar a little bit. When you’re watching games at night, are you looking at it through the lens of your show and thinking about how you can apply it? That’s what Colin does.”
Goulet continued, “We have a lot of hosts here but not all of them necessarily come from a media background. A lot of them are sports gamblers, who we’re teaching how to do media. I’m not expecting them to be as experienced as someone like Colin who’s been in the business for 30 years.”
Sports betting content is unique in the fact that most people compare it to wins and losses. If a guy gives out great picks, it’s great content. If they’re all losers, then, not so much. But Goulet doesn’t look at it that way as a PD.
“The info. I’m now aware of because I’m watching VSiN all day is crazy,” Goulet said. “There’s so much. People are basically telling you what’s going to happen so I’d be crazy if I didn’t wager and try to make a couple bucks off of our content. But from my standpoint, you also have to take a little of a step back. I have to manage the content and sometimes you can get trapped because you’re listening for certain info. and you’re grading the content based on if the picks are right. Sometimes you have to take a step back and say, ‘ok, this is still sports and we want entertaining content’.”
It’s not often you get the chance to work in the same city you used to travel to on vacation. It’s even rarer to be in that same city, doing a job you used to call a hobby. That’s exactly where Goulet is at in his professional life. Cowherd has called him a few times to check in on how things are going, and even though he lost his long-time producer, he’s thrilled about the opportunity Goulet has in Vegas.
“It was odd at first walking into a casino and not looking for a blackjack table,” laughed Goulet. “I used to come to Vegas for fun. Now I get to come here to work. It’s awesome.”
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.