It cracks me up when the NFL introduces a new “experimental” rule aimed at making the game safer. There is nothing experimental about it. The league isn’t going to reverse course and change a rule back to its original, more violent past. They’ll never say, “Ehh, screw it. The original way, which led to more mayhem and injuries, is actually better.”
The toothpaste isn’t going back in the tube.
The same holds true in the workplace. Our standards are becoming higher. The list of things that won’t be tolerated any longer by co-workers is growing. We aren’t going to revert back to the way it once was. Like Denzel said in Training Day, “That day’s dead, dogg. We don’t roll like that no more.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, free passes for inappropriate behavior are no longer being given away. Allegations of misconduct have been aimed at well-known men including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and Matt Lauer to name a few. The broad allegations have been directed at members in the sports world as well.
Back in July of this year, FOX Sports National president Jamie Horowitz was fired during a sexual harassment investigation. Seven men from NFL Network, including Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, were implicated in a sexual harassment complaint last week. On Sunday, news broke that Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson will be selling the team following allegations of workplace misconduct. Goodness.
On a lighter note, Sean “Diddy” Combs announced that he wants to be the new owner of the “North Carolina Panthers.” I will either refer to the team as the North Carolina Panthers, or have a sound bite of Diddy saying “North Carolina Panthers” each time the team is discussed because, well, that’s just plain hilarious. Okay, back to business.
There is a great piece on SI.com written by L. Jon Wertheim and Viv Bernstein which reveals new details about the Jerry Richardson fiasco. A part that jumps out to me are his comments on Jeans Day. Many employees at the team office would wear jeans on Friday. Richardson would use a few common lines such as: Show me how you wiggle to get those jeans up. Did you step into those jeans or did you have to jump into them?
After reading these comments by Richardson, my mind immediately went to sports talk radio. The standards are becoming higher for workplace behavior and treatment toward women. The standards for on-air conduct will soon be higher too. We aren’t far away from comments being out of bounds like Charles Barkley saying San Antonio women are overweight due to eating churros. That day is coming.
Look, I love to laugh as much as the next person, but you don’t have to be a valedictorian to see where things are headed. Inappropriate behavior will continue to be punished. I love a good sports radio topic with edge. I also love a good sports radio bit that makes me roar in laughter. However, edgy and humorous comments can’t come at the expense of appropriate conduct.
I’ll be honest, I initially didn’t think Jerry Richardson’s comment about stepping in jeans or jumping into them was that bad. Then, I considered what my reaction would be if he made the same comment to my mom, sister, or fiancé. I’d be making a half circle with a sword like Wesley Snipes in Blade. There is absolutely no way I would tolerate a question like that toward a loved one.
If you’re a sports talk host who’s about to make a comment you consider to be harmless, this is a great way to double-check the remark before opening your mouth: How would you feel if someone else made the same comment about a female that you love dearly? Would you be okay with it? Or would you look like Michael Jackson turning into a monster in the “Thriller” video?
If you’d take offense to the same comment, you shouldn’t be making the remark yourself.
Something else that’s very important to get in your head — there is no such thing as “off the record” anymore. It appears the seven men named in the NFL Network complaint forgot that their alleged comments were very much on the record. It wasn’t a private conversation with a co-worker. It was a conversation that the world knows about now.
It’s no different in sports radio. Sometimes it’s easy to get so comfortable on the air, that you actually forget people other than the crew are listening. Comfort is fine as long as listeners aren’t made uncomfortable. Understand that every remark made in private or on the airwaves is for the entire world. Instead of those signs that say “On The Air,” they should be replaced with “On The Record.” That’s exactly where each comment ends up.
I hate to sound like one of those uncomfortably stiff videos on sexual harassment, but this stuff is important. No company wants to lose money and see its reputation suffer. No employee wants to lose everything they’ve worked for due to bad behavior. Just treat women and your co-workers with respect. It really isn’t that much to ask. A little common sense goes a long way.
My dad will sometimes end our phone calls by saying, “…and look out for the knuckleheads out there.” The last thing you want to do is become one of those knuckleheads yourself.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
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.