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October Belongs To Joe Buck

“By my unofficial count, math was never a strong point for me, Joe Buck will call 17 different events in 24 days and visit 9 cities this month.”

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October should be renamed ‘Bucktober,’ as in veteran Fox broadcaster Joe Buck. He owns this month more than any other play-by-play announcer in America. Chances are pretty good that if you are watching a sporting event in the 10th month of the year, you’ll hear Buck on the call. The travel and transitioning from one sport to another, sometimes in a day is not easy. 

Here’s a rough outline of what Buck will call in the next few weeks. He will have weeks where he’ll call two football games in the same week, a Thursday night and a Sunday afternoon game. This is a grueling schedule for anyone. 

10/07/21 – Seattle (Seahawks/Rams)

10/10/21 – Dallas (Cowboys/Giants)

10/14/21 – Philadelphia (Eagles/Buccaneers)

10/15/21 – Houston (Astros/Red Sox) Game 1 ALCS

10/16/21 – Houston (Astros/Red Sox) Game 2 ALCS

10/18/21 – Boston (Red Sox/Astros) Game 3 ALCS

10/19/21 – Boston (Red Sox/Astros) Game 4 ALCS

10/20/21 – Boston (Red Sox/Astros) Game 5 ALCS (if necessary) 

10/21/21 – Cleveland (Browns/Broncos)

10/22/21 – Houston (Astros/Red Sox) Game 6 ALCS (if necessary)

10/23/21 – Houston (Astros/Red Sox) Game 7 ALCS (if necessary)

10/26, 27, 29, 30, 31/21 – World Series Games 1-5 

10/31/21 – NFL Week 8 Assignment

By my unofficial count, math was never a strong point for me, Joe Buck will call 17 different events in 24 days and visit 9 cities this month. How do you pack for a trip, or trips like these? Sometimes you wake up and aren’t sure what city you’re even in after all of that flying.

It’s happened to me on much shorter trips. 3 city trips in baseball done in 11 days had some going to the hotel room number they left in Cincinnati instead of the one they need in Pittsburgh. The road can do that to your brain at times. Again, that doesn’t compare to what Buck is doing.

Protecting one’s voice is paramount for play-by-play broadcasters. Your voice is your instrument and it must be cared for properly. A schedule like Buck’s is going to put a ton of stress on his voice. How will he handle it? Buck recently spoke to InsideHook to answer that question. 

“I try not to drink as much or at all during October because it feels like I’m flying every night,” the 52-year-old Buck said. “I’m going pretty much nonstop so I’ve got to try to get as much sleep and rest as I can. Drinking and staying up late and the like is kind of out of the window. I have to be smart about it, especially the older I get.”

Joe Buck says he inherited a gene from his late father, Jack. The soup gene as he calls it. 

“I remember my dad always ordering soup, and I would say I’m a soup connoisseur at this point of my career. That warmth is comforting to me, especially in the month of October,” he told InsideHook. “You can usually get back to whatever hotel you’re staying in and they’ll have soup left to scrape off the bottom of the pot they have down in the kitchen. If it’s hot, I’ll eat cream of anything. I’ll take whatever the hell I can get. Even if involves a vegetable I don’t like. I don’t even care how it tastes. Sometimes you’re just at the mercy of what they have.”

IKEA 365+ HJÄLTE Soup ladle, stainless steel/black - IKEA

The hectic schedule can sometimes cause him to be away from his broadcast partners for longer periods of time than he’d like. Troy Aikman and John Smoltz though make it easy on him. He told the Just Getting Started with Rich Eisen podcast last month, just how that works and how the guys treat him when he gets back. 

“I know that if I’ve been gone from Troy and I walk in and I do a Thursday game and I’ve been doing Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday baseball, he’s ready to go and he knows I’m ready to go. I can lean on him a little bit that week. Then, I come back to baseball, and either I’m tired leading into the game. If I’m trying to scramble and get ready, I can lean on John on the baseball side. That personal relationship that I have with both guys is what makes that month not only work, but fun.”

Handling multiple sports in a short period of time can really cut into your prep time. This would cause some broadcasters a little anxiety. I include myself in this category. Prep is what we have to make us feel confident about the broadcast we’re about to do. If I had to go into a game with less prep than I felt I needed, it could be a struggle to make that game sound good in my ears. So, Buck has a plan of attack to combat the fears of not being ready. He recently told Forbes about his routine. 

He told the magazine that he carries an Excel sheet of his October schedule with him. He’ll create sheets for his NFL broadcasts ahead of time with basic information on each team’s players: name, number, height, weight, college, years in the NFL, and how they were acquired. According to Forbes, Joe Buck reads as much as he can and will constantly jot down relevant notes and tidbits as game day approaches.

Baseball presents some different issues. It’s much more of an immediate sport and the need for lineups, which usually aren’t ready until you get to the park, can hamper pre-arrival prep. Buck comes prepared with his scorebook filled out as best as he can, but with more games in a shorter time period, especially compared to football, “it’s kind of a mad dash to first pitch for me.” Buck told Forbes. 

“I plan ahead on football, but baseball is a little bit more day to day, almost like cramming for a test in high school or college—and I was pretty good at doing that and then having the information just poof out of my head,” Buck said. “I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing and that’s how I go about tackling the month.”

Love him or not, there are two things Buck always is: professional and prepared. It’s illustrated in how he attacks this month. He knows that nobody feels sorry for him. In fact, there are a lot of us that would line up to do it if he wanted to let go of some responsibilities. The point is not to illustrate that Joe Buck is some kind of superhero of broadcasting. The point is to let fellow broadcasters and fans alike understand how unusual this situation is and how well Buck handles things. 

Buck to have unprecedented baseball-football broadcast run in October |  Sports | stltoday.com

The challenge could be too enormous for some, but not for Buck. He’s learned how to approach the schedule over the years and has a very practical outlook on October. 

“It gets a little crazy, but it’s just that one month that kind of defines my year.”

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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