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What Can Radio Learn From The Lack Of Leadership In Jacksonville?

“I don’t think it was hard to see that Urban Meyer was going to fail in the NFL, and instead of doing any sort of due diligence or homework on the guy’s shortcomings, Kahn zeroed in on Meyer and winning headlines instead of football games.”

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Urban Meyer is a bad person. It’s not just that he is a hypocrite. It is that he is a hypocrite that does not want do the job he was hired to. The Jacksonville Jaguars are undeniably suffering from a failure of leadership, but being fair to Urb, he is only half of the reason.

Columbus electrician sparks social media storm after posting Urban Meyer  video | WSYX

The other half is Shad Kahn. The Jaguars’ owner doesn’t seem to care about his football team. Shad Kahn is a weirdo. I like weirdos and want to root for him, so I wish this wasn’t the case. And look, maybe he does care to a certain degree, but he certainly didn’t put much effort into finding a coach to turn around the fortunes of a team that ended 2020 by losing 15 straight games. I don’t think it was hard to see that Urban Meyer was going to fail in the NFL, and instead of doing any sort of due diligence or homework on the guy’s shortcomings, Kahn zeroed in on Meyer and winning headlines instead of football games.

Watching Urban Meyer fart his way from one misstep of his own making to the next, I couldn’t help but think about our industry. Like coaching, the media is also awash with egos. For every person looking for an answer, there is someone else looking for a problem that they can shout they know how solve. Sometimes, the right problem matches with the right solution. Other times, the problem is completely ignored in favor of getting handshakes and high fives.

How many of us know or maybe even have worked for a PD with a resume that you can instantly recognize did not result in a lot of knowledge? That long resume is filled with multiple stops in top 30 markets before the PD landed the job he or she is currently in and after knowing that person for a bit, it becomes clear that the past jobs are what is making them attractive for the next job. A hiring manager in say St. Louis can be underwhelmed by a candidate and still justify hiring that candidate to themselves because the resume lists stops at stations in Baltimore, Houston, Las Vegas, and Miami. They can then go to their manager and their staff and say “look at this guy!” and on paper, those people will be impressed.

The hiring manager gets the handshake from his/her boss. He or she gets the high fives from the airstaff. Best of all? The hiring manager didn’t have waste too much time or work too hard to look like a genius!

It’s a win in the moment. It’s only a win for one person though. And if that new PD comes in and either doesn’t know how to deal with his or her new staff or simply doesn’t have the knowledge to garner the staff’s respect, the win is short-lived and ultimately meaningless.

We see this happen on air too. A station either lets an older talent walk or lays them off. The station across the street senses an opportunity and swoops in. That talent goes from being out of a job to in the spotlight with a competitor. The PD gets to stick it to the competition. The market manager gets to tell the sales staff that they have a new voice with established market familiarity to take to clients. In the moment, everyone feels good.

But what if the PD and market manager were blinded by the potential for a short dopamine burst that they didn’t consider why this talent was suddenly available. Are their ratings in free fall? Did they make everyone else in the building miserable? Do they want a paycheck that the station cannot justify?

These are all going to be problems sooner rather than later. All it took was a little bit of research and maybe one or two conversations to see that. Instead, the thrill of a short-term win has the potential to turn into shooting yourself in the foot and creating long-term problems.

The Daily Sweat: Jaguars look for better results vs. Saints
Courtesy: AP Photo

Right now, off the top of my head, I can tell you that Urban Meyer looked the other way on a number of guys that were regularly in trouble with the law when he was at Florida, he hired Kevin Wilson to his staff at Ohio State even after multiple Indiana players accused the former Hoosiers coach of physically and verbally mistreating them, he did not intervene when his former assistant Zach Smith’s wife came to him complaining that Smith was abusing her. Then when the allegations became public and Meyer was forced to address them at a press conference, he apologized to “Buckeye Nation” but not to Zach Smith’s then-ex-wife.

Again, THAT IS OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD!

If I knew all of that, chances are Shad Kahn knew at least some of it and the people he pays to help him make the best decisions for the Jaguars undoubtedly knew all of it. Maybe Shad Kahn overruled everyone raising objections. Maybe no one cared. The Jaguars have a long history of being very bad and this was a chance to get Jacksonville back on their side. Hell, the city is full of Florida fans that will tell you the Gators ain’t been the same since Urban left.

When Urban Meyer hired Chris Doyle to be his assistant strength coach and no one said boo, despite the fact that Doyle was a pretty open and unapologetic racist to his players when he was at Iowa, that should have been the moment everyone in teal said “Oh shit. This isn’t going to last very long.” The moment Urban Meyer complained that he didn’t like free agency because it’s not like recruiting, someone in the Jaguars front office should have said “Oh shit. That is exactly what Nick Saban said when he was in Miami.” The second news got out that Meyer refused to meet with his whole team after video leaked of a lady dancing on his crotch inside of his Columbus restaurant, everyone covering this team should have said “Oh shit. That sounds an awful lot like how Bobby Petrino treated his players on the way out of Atlanta.”

It isn’t hard to find warning signs. People can change, but it takes hard work and a desire to get and do better. If all of the warning signs are there that a potential hire is going to be a problem and you make the hire anyway, anything bad that happens is on the person that gave their stamp of approval.

Long ago, a very good college football reporter told me that Nick Saban was more respected amongst his peers than Meyer was because smart people in that profession recognize that Nick Saban doesn’t care if you think he is an asshole whereas Urban Meyer was, at that point anyway, obsessed with his reputation. That was back at the beginning of the last decade when the two were going back and forth for SEC and national championships.

By the time Shad Kahn made Urban Meyer his head coach, Meyer had a very different reputation. The only people that believed the guy valued the leadership and accountability he has been peddaling as his brand for nearly a decade now are the ones that call it “THE Ohio State University.” The rest of us knew he was full of shit.

If Shad Kahn didn’t, Shad Kahn needs to call it a day, sell the team, divest himself of any other business interests and just enjoy being rich, because that guy shouldn’t be running anything!

Jags owner Shad Khan calls Trump 'the great divider' in interview, defends  position on anthem | firstcoastnews.com

True leadership and accountability is necessary in football and in radio. Somebody has to be the one that gets others to buy into the vision and pull in the same direction. The day you cannot get a staff or a team to do that or you hire someone that cannot get a staff to do that, you are no longer fit to be a leader.

BSM Writers

Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content

Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.

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USA Today

When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.

“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.

Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:

1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”

2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.

The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.

I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.

Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”

There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.

First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.

The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.

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BSM Writers

The Client Just Said YES, Now What?

We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.

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One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!

We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.

When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.

They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.

A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 74

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This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.

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