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It’s Time For TV To Evolve On Storms, Gambling

“If a programming executive truly believes that having Al Roker nearly knocked over leads to higher ratings and better ad sales, I would need to see the data firsthand.”

Seth Everett

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I hope anyone who is reading this is safe from Hurricane Ida or its remnants.  After days of watching dear friends and colleagues struggling in New Orleans, there were floods to contend within Northern New Jersey from the massive rain minus the wicked wind.

If you are currently struggling with this, bookmark this column and return when you are dry, air-conditioned, and reminiscing about this horrific experience.

We do discuss media here, so the premise is simple: STOP putting meteorologists and reporters in harm’s way to cover a dangerous weather event.  It is pointless. People who are watching want to see the storm. But with HD cameras the poor sap standing in the midst pelted with rain, snow, or whatever debris is not needed to properly detail a storm’s ferrocenes.

Explaining why this is unsafe is like trying to explain why a seat belt is useful, or a helmet might be good to wear in a football game.

These poor saps are standing there do not make me want to see anything.  It makes me reach for my iPhone and see the weather app.  Local news and even national news puts these people in the eye of a storm 

Does Al Roker need this in his life?

Roker should have enough clout to refuse this assignment. 

By the way, I reached out to three different reporters/meteorologists who all refused to comment for fear of their jobs.  Still, one reporter offered this unattributed comment.

“Many reporters don’t mind this,” one source noted. “They want to be in the center of the action. The pressure local news stations are under to produce ratings has never been greater, and this is a big enough story.”

This really does not need to be a big challenge.  Set up stationary cameras, work them remotely.  If the camera is loosened by the velocity of the wind, show that. 

Drones would be great to use in this circumstance. The technology exists to show satellite radar from space, and some reporter who went to journalism school now has to try and stand up straight while hurling winds are coming at them. 

“This is how it’s always been done,” the source added. “They wouldn’t stop now.”

That line of reasoning isn’t good enough.  Just doing things because “that’s how it’s always been done” always shows more short-sightedness than insight.

This week, CBS announced that they will not include gambling information on its broadcast. Even though it is legal in more than two dozen states, it will not be a part of the play-by-play from any CBS announcer.

Why?  Because that is how it has always been done. It makes no more sense to not talk about gambling in 2021 than it does to have a weather person standing in 100+ MPH winds.

One colleague of mine who asked not to be identified but works on NFL telecasts suggested one theory that may play into this one.

“FOX Bet is going to make Rupert Murdoch a fortune,” the source said. “If Viacom had done that deal, CBS announcers would be discussing gambling during NFL games.”

One person’s theory does not make it true, but it still doesn’t make sense for CBS to not evolve with the times and greenlight its broadcasts to talk about something many of their viewers are engaging in.

Still, gambling is not comparable to human safety. Every time we have a weather element that involves wind, the smart money is that a TV network is sending someone into the storm.

If a programming executive truly believes that having Al Roker nearly knocked over leads to higher ratings and better ad sales, I would need to see the data firsthand. I will not accept the reward outweighs the risk.

During the rainstorm Wednesday night, my kids were getting all of their updates from group texts and TikTok. One rumor about the Turtle Back Zoo in Northern New Jersey turned out to teach my children that everything on TikTok is not accurate.

TikTok reported that animals had gotten loose amidst the flooding.  Penguins, tigers, and monkeys were roaming West Orange, New Jersey.

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The next morning, the Zoo put out a statement that the animals were never in danger.

The lesson is that reliable sources of information in a storm are not TikTok, Snapchat, or even Twitter.  The focus should be on the information at hand.  That’s enough to carry an audience.  Reporters in the storm do not add to the coverage.

Technology allows for imagination and creativity. Next time (unfortunately there will always be a next time) do better and keep reporters OUT of harm’s way.  It is that simple.

BSM Writers

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.

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WRONG BAD

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.

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BSM Writers

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.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

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.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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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.

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