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The G-Double-O-D-S

Brian Noe

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In case you’ve been living under a rock or haven’t watched much TV the past few days, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch danced on Sunday. He danced a lot. It was basically the BeastMode of sideline celebrations. The home crowd went crazy and joined in the amusement. Multiple Jets players were ticked off. The standard “if you don’t like it, stop ‘em” comments ensued. You know the drill.

Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins shared an interesting thought about Lynch’s frolicking during the Raiders 45-20 demolition: “It irks my ever-living nerves.” Wow, nicely done. It sounds like the 3rd-round pick out of Georgia should’ve been wearing an ascot and speaking in a British accent while delivering that line. “Ever-living nerves.” You don’t hear that every day.

When you get past all of the details of Lynch’s dance party — the fact that he was dancing to “Oakland” by Vell featuring DJ Mustard — wondering if anybody goes by DJ Ketchup — thinking that Marshawn looks like he was psyched to hear “I whip my hair back and forth” while the 2010 Willow Smith hit single blared throughout the stadium — all of these thoughts point to something interesting: being different catches our attention.

It’s always interesting to find out which stories gain the most attention following an NFL weekend. Two of the biggest headlines from Week 2 were Ezekiel Elliott not exactly being eager to hustle following an interception, and Marshawn Lynch dancing. Why? Both stories are unique. When is the last time you remember Elliott giving up on a play? You don’t. When is the last time you remember Marshawn this jolly? 2006 when he was ghost riding an injury cart in college. It’s rare.

Sure, Marshawn Lynch is an NFL star. That helps make a sideline celebration become a bigger story, but he scored a touchdown against the Jets. That didn’t get much attention. He gained 92 yards from scrimmage against the Titans in Week 1. That didn’t get as much attention as his dancing. Michael Crabtree scored three touchdowns on Sunday. Even that fell short of Lynch’s dance moves.

It shows the power of being unique.

This is a vital concept to consider in sports talk radio. The hosts that catch our attention and cut through the clutter are able to differentiate themselves from others. Think of how important this is now more than ever. There are thousands of choices. You can stream local radio anywhere. You can access national radio everywhere. You can watch radio shows on TV.

On Monday, ESPN Radio’s Ryen Russillo shared a story about his mother. She told him it was so weird that she heard his show on the radio while driving. She asked if his show was now on radio too. He said, “Ahh yeah, it’s more of a radio show than a TV show.” When a host’s own mother doesn’t know that her son’s show has been on radio for the past decade, you know there are tons of choices out there.

The things that actually get attention can be maddening. I can remember writing stories for our station’s website while working at 104.5 The Team in Albany, NY. A story about the New York Giants complete with insight, quotes, stats, and other useful information got a few clicks. A video of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim picking his nose got thousands of clicks. That’s the way it goes. There are plenty of stories about the Giants. There aren’t many videos of Jimmy B digging for gold. Different gets noticed.

It’s like Showtime at the Apollo. You’ll be greeted by an impatient crowd yelling “womp womp” as a random dude ushers you offstage if you’re standard. Be different. The “been there, done that” consumer mentality exists with sports media. The last thing you want someone to think when you crack the mic is, “I’ve heard this thought a hundred times before.” With so many options available, you can’t blend in with all of the other talking heads. You have to stand out.

Of course trying too hard to stand out can also get you into trouble. Radio host Clay Travis pushed the envelope during a TV appearance on CNN last Friday. He gained a lot of attention for saying, “I believe in only two things completely. The First Amendment and boobs.” There was plenty of buzz as the clicks and retweets went through the roof. However, there was a downside.

CNN host Brooke Baldwin wasn’t exactly delighted to hear these comments. She kicked Clay off the show and apologized for his remarks. It created a firestorm at FOX Sports Radio. Let’s just say a few suits were doing the opposite of laughing hysterically following the appearance.

A line from the movie Dead Presidents comes to mind where Cutty the Pimp says, “Don’t you ever, in your (expletive) life, bite the hand that feeds you.”

It’s mandatory for a sports talk radio host to create content that hasn’t been shared before — to look for angles that haven’t been explored. You can’t do this with everything you say, but if you have a thought that isn’t incredibly unique, look for an example or a personal story that is. Explain your point in a unique way instead of blending in with similar comments made by others. There is always a way to deliver fresh goods.

How can I get attention? How can I say something that’s different? How can I stand out? These are all questions that you should be asking yourself constantly. Just avoid coming up with answers that put you directly in the line of fire. Don’t irk your employer’s ever-living nerves. Unlike the New York Jets, they can actually do something about it.

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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