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New Year’s Solutions

Brian Noe

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While watching the College Football Playoff semifinal games on Monday, I noticed the new commercials from Allstate. Mayhem — the guy who represents your blind spot, lucky team flag, and a hot babe out jogging — has made a New Year’s resolution: no more mayhem. That’s right, instead of causing accidents, Mayhem intends to prevent them.

You might roll your eyes and think that resolutions are cliché. They are, but there is never a wrong time to consider ways to improve. I didn’t know when setting goals became a bad thing either. If Mayhem of all people/things can make a New Year’s resolution, it’s smart to consider how you can make improvements in 2018 also.

Outside of working out more and eating faster — yes, I’m easily the slowest eater on the planet — here are three things I need to improve upon in sports talk radio:

Utilizing Anger

Although it sounds odd, this is an actual resolution of mine. I’m not exactly giddy when someone else gets an opportunity that I’m seeking. I’m not envious. I just want to know when it’ll be my turn. Sports talk hosts are like NASCAR teammates — we’re sort of happy when a teammate wins, but when it comes right down to it, WE want to win the race. I want that fill-in shift. I want that full-time opportunity. I can’t help getting angry or frustrated when I’m bypassed. What I can control is how I utilize that anger and frustration. It’s like the song “Freedom” from Rage Against The Machine. Zack de la Rocha says “anger is a gift.” It absolutely is if you apply it the right way.

When someone else gets an opportunity instead of myself, I can try to channel my inner Ned Flanders by saying, “Gee willikers, that’s awesome,” but that’s just not me. You can call it a flaw of mine if you’d like. Even so, I believe that flaws can actually be assets if applied correctly. It’s all about how that inner fire is utilized.

I can attack the shifts that I do have more fiercely. Maybe adding a podcast is a good way to go. I’ll continue to build relationships while battling to get my name out there even more. Instead of looking at what I don’t have, I need to look at the additional things I should be doing that might explain why I’m not where I want to be yet. Being unsatisfied doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful. It just means that I have goals that are currently unchecked. Instead of being that bitter ex-athlete that only complains about not making it because of someone else, I’m going to use my anger to fuel the hunt for a big break.

Don’t Get Sucked In

The reaction of listeners can easily turn into a cesspool of negativity. Freddie Coleman once told me about seeing comments directed at a female sports host that were revolting. I was accused on Tuesday of giving a listener terminal ear cancer while filling in around the holidays. Sadly, it just comes with the territory.

Now, occasionally a Twitter egg will write something that makes me wish that their exact whereabouts were included. Not for any crazy reason — just in case they needed me to demonstrate the Figure-Four Leglock while transitioning smoothly to the Five-Point-Palm Exploding-Heart Technique.

My friend and former co-worker, Bruce Jacobs, was totally fine with negative responses. I honestly believe Bruce actually enjoyed them. I’ll never quite have the same reaction, but Bruce once told me something that made a lot of sense. He said that he’d rather have a listener call him every name in the book instead of being unfamiliar with his show. I agree. If it’s between those two options, I’d rather have someone call me a moron than have zero idea of who I am or what I do. If you look at it that way, criticism is a lot easier to shrug off.

Organizing Better

I spend a lot of time developing my angles and topics, but leave a small amount of time to organize a layout of those topics. General show organization is something that I got worse at last year if I’m being honest with myself. But that was then, baby! This is a new 2018 day and age!

My Uncle Jerry is a car guy. He’s had some beautiful muscle cars over the years that he worked hard to restore. He used to display his cool rides at car shows. It wouldn’t make much sense if he spent all of his time buying cleaning products (Armor All, tire shine, wax, Windex) without leaving enough time to actually clean the car. Imagine if he left just enough time to clean half of the car, then had to clean the rest while the car show was already underway. It’s the same concept with organizing show topics.

It isn’t good enough to only focus on developing topics. You need to organize a loose roadmap of the show at the very least. It’s better to react to breaking news before your pre-planned thoughts on Bret Bielema sounding exactly like Dr. Pepper’s Larry Culpepper on ESPN’s MegaCast playoff coverage. You’ll tweak and adjust the show layout, but you need a loose layout to begin with. The general flow is better and you’ll likely avoid running out of time to discuss the topics you worked hard to develop.

It cracks me up when people oppose New Year’s resolutions. Do they also oppose goals? If you hate resolutions yet support goals, think of New Year’s resolutions as goals that just so happen to coincide with early January. Sheesh, whatever works, right? There is never a bad time to look critically at yourself. Finding solutions to fine-tune your value at work is very important. Simply ask yourself, what can you do a better job of this 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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