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Dawn Davenport Is Here For The Positivity & Renewed Passion

“I think that starts with management, internships, and making sure the young women realize that there are opportunities for them in this business.”

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Everyone has someone they look up to in sports media. Maybe it’s because of their style, the way they prep, or even the way they live their lives. Whatever the case may be, even the most successful hosts have patterned themselves and learned from another great in the industry.

Dawn Davenport is one of the lucky ones, because she has inspirational talent all around her. It surrounds her during the week as a co-host of 3HL on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville. Even amidst recent changes to the show, she has two co-hosts that have turned a situation of uncertainty into one that has remained incredibly strong. 

Dawn Davenport (@DawnDavenportTN) | Twitter

“The one constant has been Brent Dougherty,” said Davenport, “He’s been on 3HL since the beginning. I think that helps because you have that voice and that lead, that has been on that show since the beginning. He knows what works, he knows this city, and he knows what people want to hear.”

There’s also Ron Slay, who is the newest addition but is already becoming one of the most lovable hosts in all of Tennessee sports radio. His passion is contagious, and it leaves not only a positive effect on his audience, but on Davenport, as well. 

“He is amazing,” Davenport said. “So full of energy, completely true to himself, so likeable. His energy is contagious and people gravitate towards him, and not Just Tennessee fans. He’s a former SEC Player of the Year, and I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and say, ‘Man, I really hate Tennessee, but I really love Ron Slay’. He’s knowledgeable, he brings a different energy and an authentic voice to our show, which has been really refreshing.”

Finally, there is Beth Mowins on the weekends, one of the few women that do play-by-play for college football in the entire industry. Davenport is a true professional in her craft, but she’s not above trying to learn from Mowins or Kirk Morrison, both partners on her broadcast team. 

“I look at her and I’m constantly learning from her on the play-by-play side,” said Davenport. “Because there’s not a whole lot of women in that role to model yourself after. That’s where we’ll kind of get better over the years.”

CBS Sports' Beth Mowins Is In A League Of Her Own
Courtesy: CBS

Everywhere she turns, Davenport is surrounded by great talent. But that tends to happen when you are a great talent, yourself. For Dawn Davenport, that’s backed up by her extensive television career, which spanned several years as a morning news anchor. During that time, she was also working at ESPN on the weekends, as well as doing guest appearances and fill-in work at The Zone. The constant 2 a.m. wake-up calls for morning TV were getting to her and she needed a lifestyle change. Sports radio was that path.

“The ability to give an opinion and get to enjoy what sports radio is all about was really appealing to me,” Davenport said. “I had a taste of it through my entire career; covering the Titans, SEC football and jumping on for guest appearances on radio. The transition happened when I was looking for different hours and a different schedule than the morning show. That 2 a.m. wake-up was getting to me. At the time, 104.5 The Zone 3HL had just shifted some things and I met with the PD at the time, Brad Willis, and it just ended up being a great fit. I was able to step in and join 3HL in the afternoons.”

Davenport now plays an integral role in the success of The Zone. That was important when the station saw Midday 180 move to Outkick.com. The station, however, continues to thrive and Davenport credits the environment for the way The Zone has responded

“I think it’s employees are there making sure they are on the same page. There’s positivity there and almost kind of a renewed passion in what we’re doing and what we’re providing to people. I think some of that, with what we’ve gone through in the global pandemic, we’ve always felt or thought that sports are important, but I think going through the global pandemic really shows how many people out there need an escape. We’re able to provide that. I think that’s really helped reinvigorate the station as a whole.”

Sports has always been Davenport’s passion. She was even an athlete in college at Auburn. Now she’s on the sidelines every weekend living her passion. She’s one of the many that are ecstatic to see fans back in the stands, but she didn’t know how much it really meant until just last week.

“It’s interesting because I actually worked football season last year, mostly in the SEC, where there were a limited number of fans. My football season last year was kind of different than a lot across the country. Then week zero I worked Hawaii and UCLA and the Friday night Northwestern game. I didn’t realize how excited these kids were to have the fans back in the stands. I didn’t realize until I started talking about how important it was to them. It was an amazing feeling.”

Defensive miscues, all-around sloppiness ravage Northwestern in opening  loss to Michigan State - Inside NU
Courtesy: USA Today Sports

Davenport is extremely passionate about women in sports media. The opportunity to work with Mowins every week inspires her, and she’s committed to helping the industry think forward when it comes to giving women more opportunities in sports.

“I’ve been working college football and dabbling in play-by-play for ESPN, for two to three years. And then college football, I think this is my eighth or ninth season with them. I will say they do, especially of late, a great job of giving women an opportunity. I think that’s what’s missing. I talk to your boss, Jason Barrett, all the time about the lack of women in sports talk radio. I think part of it is the ability to get that experience so that you’re ready for that next step. It’s hard to find that and to find the opportunity to step in and get that experience when you’re ready for a big change, and I think that’s really where the shift has been. There are a lot more options nowadays, such as podcasts to get experience and step into that space. I like how it’s moving and the direction it’s going.”

It’s refreshing to hear from Davenport that the industry is doing a better job of hiring women. It’s also naive to think we don’t have any room to grow. So what can we do better?

Obviously, The Zone in Nashville took the hint and made an incredible hire with Davenport in the afternoon, but how can we find more talent like her, like Mowins, and so many others that just need the opportunity to shine?

May be an image of 3 people and people standing
Courtesy: 104.5 The Zone

“Yeah, I mentioned the opportunities. I think that starts with management, internships, and making sure the young women realize that there are opportunities for them in this business.  That includes talking about it, and celebrating those that do it well and work their tails off. As well as making sure the young women know that this is something you can do. Never thought about doing sports talk radio back in the day growing up. Never even thought about it because there weren’t a whole lot of female voices to listen to where you thought, ‘Oh, I can do that’. That’s changing, obviously. Beth Mowins, on my football crew, is my play-by-play announcer. I look at her and I’m constantly learning from her on the play-by-play side, Because there aren’t many women in that role to model yourself after. “

BSM Writers

Ronnie Lane’s Career Evolved Right Along With His Market

“I was going to apply for the Kentucky State Police Academy and a buddy of mine came to me and said, ‘Hey, how would you like to make more money and not get shot at?’. I said, ‘OK, I’m listening.’”

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WDAE

Before it was Champa Bay, it was the punchline to a joke.

Before Tom Brady, before Jon Gruden and before both the Lightning and the Rays, it was a one-sport town that was only identifiable by the orange creamsicle uniforms the Bucs used to wear during seemingly endless losing seasons. Coincidently, that’s also the time Ronnie “Night Train” Lane arrived in the city.

Tampa looks a lot different today than it did when Lane arrived in the mid-80’s. There’s a passion for the local teams that didn’t exist until recently. That’s to be expected when the city just enjoyed three championships in a 10-month span, after the Lightning went back-to-back with the Stanley Cup and the Bucs took down the Chiefs in last year’s Super Bowl. But when locals think about sports talk in the city, Lane is one of the first hosts that come to mind. He’s seen the bad times, the good times and everything in between.

“The city was nothing like it looks like today,” said Lane. “It was primarily all about the Buccaneers, because the Rays and Lightning weren’t here yet.”

Lane isn’t a lifetime Floridian. He’s from a small town in Tennessee near his alma mater of Murray State University. In fact, even though he’s the co-host of Ronnie and TKras at 95.3 WDAE in morning drive, some locals would be surprised to hear his career in radio actually started on the music side. 

That’s where the infamous nickname of “Night Train” came from. Mason Dixon, a Tampa staple for decades at Q105, decided that Lane needed a nickname. When Lane was on the air at stations in Evansville, Indiana and Henderson, Kentucky, he had a nickname that sounded similar to Ronnie “The Dean of Rock N Roll” Lane. He can’t remember exactly what the nickname was, but “Night Train” stuck as soon as Dixon gave it to him. The thought behind the name was as simple as the fact Lane was doing the night shift at Q105 in Tampa. The nickname has stuck ever since. 

“Q105 was a monster station that did 12-plus shares,” Lane said. “That’s where things really started to take off for me.”

Lane stayed at the station through both an ownership and a format change. CBS bought the station and switched the format from Top 40 to country. A lot of transformation was about to take place in Lane’s career.

“When CBS bought Q105, they already had a country station, so they asked if I wanted to stay in music or try something else,” Lane said. “I said, well, I’ve always been a crazy sports fan, so I’d love to try sports.”

Fortunately, the company had a very similar idea. The broadcast rights to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were owned by the same company, so they made him a nighttime DJ and gave him a job on the weekends with the Buccaneers Radio Network. Since then, he’s become synonymous with sports radio in Tampa, alongside his long-time co-host Tom Krasniqi. 

Interview with Ronnie Lane from Tampa Bay Sports Radio 620 – St. Petersburg  Foodies Podcast Episode 35

Today, he’s living his best life. WDAE is seeing its best years as a station, the local interest is as high as it’s ever been and the three local teams are all having success. Lane says it’s, without a doubt, the best time he’s ever had on sports radio.

“Oh it’s at the top of the list and it’s not close,” Lane said. “When I was doing music radio, I rarely listened to sports talk radio. I think we had some stations and they had a hard time because none of the clubs were consistently good. It was mainly just people griping and bitching about how awful the teams were.”

If you’re looking for a city that’s evolved as a sports town over the past decade, Tampa would be a strong contender. The doom and gloom that used to surround the sports fans in the city has been replaced with optimism and pride for the city, as well as the catchy nickname of Champa Bay.

“It’s a completely different sports town and it’s galvanized the community,” Lane said. “There’s a lot of support for the Lightning, tons of support for the Buccaneers and that’s important. 

When a city evolves as a sports town, that often means there’s more attention placed on the sports talk radio stations. Lane says there’s a mixture of feelings on if the listeners in Tampa have evolved over the years. 

“Some would say they’ve evolved quite well and others would say, like my partner Tom Krasniqi, he’s from the New York area, and he still thinks the fans here have a long way to go,” Lane said. “He’s probably correct in that assessment, as far as educating themselves about the particular sports. There are others that feel the fans are becoming more educated and more savvy when it comes to sports radio, because we’re trying to educate them on our show and I think we do a good job on our show of giving people information but also being entertaining.”

There’s so much interest in the Bucs, both locally and nationally, that the team always seems to be in the headlines. That’s great for Lane and his show on WDAE, seeing as the Bucs have been a constant stream of content that everyone is interested in. That was very evident when Antonio Brown walked off the field in the Bucs’ Week 16 game at the New York Jets. It consumed all of the major networks and Lane’s show was no different.

“Every moment of the show was Antonio Brown and how the Bucs were going to get through this, so much so to the point where some listeners were like, are you guys forgetting we also have a hockey and baseball team? But it was just because the football team has gotten so popular that everyone was fixated on how they were going to get past the Antonio Brown saga.

“We all gave our opinions because none of us on the show thought they should’ve signed Antonio Brown in the first place. We took a lot of heat from fans saying, ‘well, do you not like the Bucs?’. How could someone even say that? Our company carries the Bucs games and the station supports the Bucs as much as we possibly can. We can’t agree with everything they do.”

Champa Bay is riding a sports heater that the city has never seen, and quite possibly, may never see again. Lane is enjoying the ride as much as he possibly can. 

“I still run into people who are big sports fans that still remember me as a Top 40 DJ at Q105,” laughed Lane. “I guess I credit my education at Murray State University and also the guy that really got me into radio, because I was thinking about going into law enforcement. I was going to apply for the Kentucky State Police Academy and a buddy of mine came to me and said, ‘Hey, how would you like to make more money and not get shot at?’. I said, ‘OK, I’m listening.’”

There’s a lot to be proud of when Lane looks back at his career. He was successful in Top 40, he was successful in country music and now he’s a huge success at sports radio. It takes a certain talent to thrive over multiple formats. Few have done it to the level of Lane.

“I’m proud of what I did on the music side, particularly with country,” Lane said. “I’m just proud to be a communicator and someone that’s a voice for the fans.”

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BSM Writers

Sunday Night Baseball Is In The Right Hands With Karl Ravech

“In making the announcement of Ravech taking over, ESPN is saying that it trusts him to carry one of the network’s flagship broadcasts.”

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Thank you, ESPN, for the revamp of the Sunday Night Baseball booth. The change excites me in a few ways. First, I’m a fan of whatever will get Alex Rodriguez off my television on Sunday nights. But truly that statement does a disservice to Karl Ravech. He was named the new play-by-play guy and is certainly not the lesser of the two evils. Ravech is a solid pro that’s getting a great opportunity at the network he’s served for almost 30 years. 

Ravech is the primary host of ESPN’s MLB studio and pre-game show, Baseball Tonight and has been a regular part of the Monday Night Baseball team since the 2016 season. He has also been the voice of ESPN’s Home Run Derby telecast since 2017. He even did play-by-play for the KBO coverage during the 2020 season, while Major League Baseball was shut down. 

In making the announcement of Ravech taking over, ESPN is saying that it trusts him to carry one of the network’s flagship broadcasts. He’s become the face of baseball at ESPN and was really the best choice to replace the outgoing Matt Vasgersian. Ravech has built up the name recognition and the association with the sport at ESPN. 

“Karl Ravech, who has been our ‘Mr. Baseball’ for three decades, will lead the booth with the command and credibility that he’s displayed throughout his career.” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive VP and executive editor of production.

His style is much more laid back than others that have held the role of Sunday Night Baseball’s main play-by-play guy. Listening to Karl Ravech call a game is nice because he isn’t shouting at you, he’s telling you what is going on. He also has the ability to make conversation about the game, which will be key in working with two former players in the same booth. 

Ravech is ready to get started. In a conference call with the media last week, he laid out why the combination of himself, Eduardo Perez and David Cone will work.

“Having watched Cone forever and now listening to him on a podcast, there’s a conversational nature about him,” said Ravech. “I basically have covered both of their careers, certainly Eddie’s in its entirety and Cone for a long, long time, so I got to know them a little bit, but you get to know a different side of them broadcasting.

“To me baseball is a game that takes three hours to play, there’s all sorts of opportunities to dive into topics that may not be related to the game, if it’s 7-1 in the second inning, and these two guys are, in my mind, as good as any that I could have imagined sitting next to, to have that conversation, and whether it’s about history, whether it’s about the future, whether it’s about analytics, sabermetrics, David Cone’s pitching style, why Eduardo was a better hitter than he was a fielder, all these different subjects, these two guys are going to make it very, very easy and very compelling for the viewer to listen to.”

Consider also, that Disney (the parent company of ESPN) and Major League Baseball reached an agreement on a seven-year rights deal. That made it very important for the sports network to get this selection right, and it did. 

That booth needed a fresh coat of paint. Vasgersian did his best to work with Alex Rodriguez, but the results were not always the best. Rodriguez seemed to drag Vasgersian down, along with the entire broadcast at times with some of the nonsense he would spew.

Hopefully Michael Kay will have a better go of it with A-Rod on the “Kay-Rod” Megacast planned for 8 games. I think Kay is a tremendous play-by-play guy. With his background as an accomplished sports talk host, he will be able to more easily reign in A-Rod and direct the flow of the broadcast better in that setting. 

Congrats to Karl Ravech and ESPN, for knocking this new booth out of the park. 

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BSM Writers

Radio Could Be The Backdoor To Sports Sponsorships

Not every business will have unlimited resources to be able to afford sponsorships directly with NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL teams themselves.

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Sporting events have been entertainment for people since Roman times. Sports, especially in the USA, are closely linked to our society and American culture. As a business, sports are booming and growing at a rapid pace every year. 

Now, with the rise of online gambling and sportsbooks popping up in just about every state, sports sponsorships will continue to provide tremendous value for brands moving forward.  Don’t miss out on your chance to affiliate your brand with some of the most passionate, dedicated and loyal consumers you will ever have a chance to earn business from.  Sports fans are also incredibly emotional and love supporting businesses that support the teams they love to cheer for; use that EMOTION to your advantage and help your business thrive!

Sports sponsorships will often include other key critical advantages that can help your business in many many ways: Access to team/station functions for networking, tickets to the game(s) for client and/or employee entertainment, ability to potentially use team logos and last but certainly not least, can often lead to a player or coach endorsement of your business.  

TOP 5 ADVANTAGES Sports Radio & Sports Sponsorships can offer:  

#1 REACH & FREQUENCY – tags in daily/weekly promos

#2 Opportunity to grow the affiliation with a Player or Coach

#3 Little to NO duplication in the market for content and Sponsorships

#4 Endorsements/Brand Ambassadors for product/service 

#5 Team Affiliation  

Yes, many of these things are very hard to quantify or gage performance based on an ROI evaluation.  However, if done correctly, sports sponsorships can give your business a very unique and competitive edge over your competition in the marketplace because most are category-specific.  Find the right affiliation at the right price point for your budget and I promise you won’t regret it.   

Not every business will have unlimited resources to be able to afford sponsorships directly with NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL teams themselves.  Sports radio partnerships with the team can often offer your business similar, if not more impactful, way to affiliate your company with a sports brand at a much better price point.  Take advantage of this unique opportunity, get creative and find something that works for you.  Trust me, if you don’t your competition certainly will!

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