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Legal Betting In Florida Won’t Change Florida Sports Radio

“The aspect of sports betting that helps us the most is the visceral response it creates from the audience.”

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These last couple of years have been game-changers in the conversation of legalized sports betting in the United States of America. Currently, 29 of the 50 US States have some form of legalized sports betting (retail or mobile gaming) that is happening as we speak. In my home state of Florida, where I host an afternoon drive show, sports betting is just now starting to circulate legally and I can already sense the wave of momentum and interest. 

Courtesy: Getty Images

I’ll start by saying that for me, and likely many other hosts around the country, it doesn’t really change much. I was always someone who talked about the betting landscape of sports. I bring on multiple betting “gurus” from various sites throughout the week, and I hand out “locks” during the college football and NFL season. I’ve been doing so for years, long before sports betting was legalized. I know I am far from alone in that category.

The conversation of sports betting can get far in the weeds if you dive into teasers, parlays, line movement, and things of that nature. But one of the reasons sports betting conversation plays well on sports talk radio is simply because it’s another way of discussing the action your audience is interested in watching.

Sports bettors, whether novice or professional, understand granular details of the games they watch in a way that can play well to a sports talk listener, even if that listener doesn’t partake in gambling. Surface-level discussion about favorites or teams primed to pull an upset is the essence of our business anyway. The difference now is that rather than dance around this concept of betting on sports, you can just bluntly say it with no fear of professional reprimand.

The other part of this is the interest it generates from the folks listening to your show. I can’t tell you how many listeners I’ve had reach out to me on various platforms telling me that they are about to place the first wager of their adult lives. I’ve had listeners ping me directly asking advice on random Tuesday night NBA games, participants on our show’s group page on Facebook are debating Jets spreads. Things like this didn’t take place before, at least not at the volume they are taking place now. It is fantastic news for our industry. So not only can we speak more freely about betting lines, we can add more content to our show discussing it, and more listeners are taking an active approach in the day-to-day of sports.

The aspect of sports betting that helps us the most is the visceral response it creates from the audience. They care on a deeper, more personal level, and they care about more than just their specific favorite team. Now a Suns/Pacers game is just as interesting to someone in Orlando as a Magic game. We couldn’t buy this type of interaction and passion. Never mind the fact that if you want to hear up-to-date news, injury reports, or analysis, you need live radio. Yet another feather in our cap. 

I know how I feel about it and it’s a natural for me since this was something I leaned on (sometimes too much) even before it was legalized. But I wondered how other hosts on radio/TV felt about how they will cover sports betting and how it changes their approach, and the answers I got provided some good added perspective.

Mark Moses, sports talk host for 1560 The Fan in Melbourne, FL says “As someone who is not a big sports bettor personally, I find all of this new territory for myself and the listening audience in the state of Florida. I wonder if I will look to create a daily segment moving forward (involving sports betting). It also depends on what revenue might come to the station as sports betting keeps expanding in the State. It will be interesting to see how much listeners in our key demographics want to hear about sports betting compared to more traditional segments moving forward”. 

Mark Moses | WROK-FM

I also spoke to Luke Hetrick, TV sports anchor for Spectrum News 13 in Orlando about how he’ll cover it on the television side of things. He said “I’m going to have to adjust, study, and cover sports betting because it’s going to take off. We’ve had a taste of sports gambling for years but I feel like I’m behind and we, on the TV side of things, have to adjust” said Luke Hetrick. 

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it is something that is going to change our industry in all forms of sports talk and this change feels like an overwhelming positive from all fronts. Legalized sports betting adds content, interest, revenue, and interaction with our audience in a way that we could only dream of in the past. 

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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