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Tim Hall Brings Emotion to Game Day Broadcasts

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On Saturday, Tim Hall will be like many other hosts across the country, as he takes his place behind the mic for pregame coverage of a college football game. The only difference between Hall and everyone else, is that he’ll be covering the Ohio State vs. Penn State game, which is easily the biggest matchup of the weekend. At 97.1 The Fan in Columbus, Ohio, pregame coverage starts 5 and a half hours before kickoff. The show is designed to set the scene of the game and provide a final breakdown that takes listeners to the action just moments before kickoff. 

During home games, many stations take the opportunity to host their shows in areas where fans are known to mingle before the game, providing the priceless opportunity to be seen by many potential listeners. The great thing about pregame and postgame shows, is that they’re so different from your weekday programming. During a postgame show, it’s all raw emotion from a huge win or tough loss that the team just suffered. Callers want the head coach fired, the referee punished or the starting quarterback benched after things didn’t work out as according to plan. No matter what your weekday structure is, if real emotion is what you’re looking for, a postgame show is always the best bet to provide it. Hall is a host that’s not afraid to show emotion on the pregame show. In fact, he thinks it sounds best for the listener, considering over 90 percent of people tuning in are diehard Ohio State fans.

With such a big game coming on Saturday, you can bet he’ll try to capture the emotions that Buckeye fans are feeling before kickoff. Along with Hall, is his co-host, Jerry Rudzinski, a former linebacker at Ohio State. The duo make up the first two hours of pregame show on 97.1 The Fan, with a show simply called The Fan Pregame Show.

Easy enough, right?

For two hours of the five and a half hours of pregame coverage, Hall and Rudzinksi will breakdown what the Buckeyes have coming up that day, as well as the bigger matchups in the Big 10 and the rest of the country, before handing it over to the next pregame show on the station. 

The Fan has a unique way of hosting its postgame show, as the duties are divvied up between the weekday lineup hosts, instead of just one or two consistent personalities for each game. Due to The Fan carrying the network broadcast for Ohio State football, the station isn’t able to provide its own postgame coverage until an hour or hour and a half after the conclusion of the game. That means if a late kickoff is on the schedule, there’s no postgame coverage that The Fan will provide, seeing it will be late at night before they can even get on the air. 

Like everything else in the industry, there’s a right and wrong way to handle pre and postgame coverage. Location is critical, emotion is necessary and caller interaction is warranted. But what’s the most important aspect of putting out a quality product on gameday? Tim Hall helped answer that question and many more in the pursuit of hosting an ideal pre and postgame show. 

TM: When you do a two hour pregame show, after doing a regular weekday show, how do you keep it fresh and come up with new information on Saturday?

TH: Good question. I would say that’s not a conscious goal of mine. I don’t go into the two hours thinking that I have to say brand new things or that I have to hold something back during the week to save it for game day. If it’s an important story line, you have to hit it.

If there’s a major injury, like Nick Bosa, just because you talked about it on your show during the week, doesn’t mean you can leave it to the side on a two-hour pregame show. It’s just a different sound, I think it’s totally different. I’m with a different host, so the person I’m with working with is different. Jerry Rudzinksi will always bring me a fresh perspective for something that I haven’t seen or thought about.

We have a couple of different features on our pregame show. We have a whip around segment that I think sounds cool, I’ll get a couple of stringers from Big 10 teams or someone covering a big national game for a 2-3 minute quick-hitter interview that highlights all the big storylines for a particular game. 

TM: You just mentioned something interesting that I hadn’t thought about. Do you think it’s best for a pregame show to pair up hosts that don’t do a normal show together during the week?

TH: I do think it works really well. I actually got to do a show with another guy for the TCU game, because my guy Jerry takes one road trip a year to the most fun road game the Buckeyes have. The guy I was able to work with was another former Buckeye football player by the name of Anthony Schlegel. He was a linebacker, he’s got the video on the internet where he tackles a streaker during a game.

He is so energetic, it’s hard to describe. Imagine Nick Swisher doing a football pregame show, that’s what it’s like. He’s like BROhio, deer hunter guy, let’s attack and dominate, ready to go, he stands in the studio and it’s just awesome. Game days are a big money making day for the station and it’s just fun to shake things up a bit and provide a different sound to the listener.

TM: What about phone calls from listeners? Is there any room in a pregame show for that?

TH: I don’t have a strong belief about it, but we haven’t done it. I can’t tell you that there’s a hardcore feeling that I don’t think it sounds good, because, I think for postgame shows, it sounds better.

We’re on the air so far before the game starts, I could envision a caller segment at some point in the pregame show. I don’t know, I would say less of that, I’m not completely opposed to it, but I can’t even remember the last time we did take a call. There’s been times where I’ve had an open segment during a more mundane game day, where it just wasn’t a whole lot going on, much like Tulane last week. So, on game days like that, I could possibly see a segment where you open up the phone lines for people to answer what they hoped to get out of a game such as that.

But I think postgame shows are more for phone calls. That’s way more fun to hear caller reactions with raw emotion to what just happened. 

TM: What do you think about a host tweeting their opinions during a game when they have to do a postgame show? Is that bad? Or does each host have the obligation to provide their followers with thoughts during the action?

TH: The guys that do the postgame show for our station don’t go Twitter silent during the game. I certainly haven’t seen anything to where the postgame shows numbers aren’t doing well because of that. I really don’t think that much into it.

I think you do owe it to your followers on social media to tweet as you would any other game that you’re watching, because you still can’t put that much into it, you know? You can put out a main thought, but there’s always more to layer on top of what you’re going to talk about. The fun thing about Twitter is that you can put out a big, bold statement without backing up and leave it there. For example, I could tweet that Dwayne Haskins is the best quarterback in Ohio State history. You can send that out and reference why you said it on the postgame show. 

TM: Do you think it’s important for the broadcast to be on location and around the fans on game day? 

TH: I love it. I really do. I know when you talk to PD’s and people in management at sports radio stations across the country, there’s mixed opinions on the value of remote broadcasts, but my goodness, we’re here in Columbus where Ohio State football is king. This is the second year where we’re doing our pregame show, the one that I’m a part of, on Lane Avenue just one block north of Ohio Stadium. We’re right in the thick of the foot traffic, where the basketball arena is close by and people are passing by like crazy and stopping by.

We have six or seven tents of sponsors that pay to be a part of the action, there’s a bar about to open up close by, and it’s just really cool. Like I said earlier, it’s just a different feel than during the week. You turn on your radio and you can tell your guys are live and location with a set somewhere, it’s just the old ESPN Gameday mentality, you know? It’s just about setting the scene.

We’re in studio for the road games, but I do think it’s really cool to have the pregame shows out at the stadium. Like, the show that comes on after ours, you get to hear the Ohio State band come marching and playing right up the sidewalk on their way to the sidewalk. You can always hear it and they always pause as they walk by. It’s really cool. 

TM: You always have to be fair, especially on a postgame show, but is it good to have a host that can capture the excitement and almost be a fan after a big win or a loss?

TH: I always just go for a lot of emotion. I really don’t think we need to be afraid of being homers, when you’re in the middle of your Ohio State Network coverage. I kind of like it from Buckeye broadcasters, when you hear Jim Lachey yelling over Paul Keels when a long touchdown happens.

Let’s be honest. 95 percent of the people tuning are Buckeye fans and after a big game, everyone is emotional and that’s okay. If something crazy happened and you hate it, or if you’re upset about how the game plan went or even a call from the referee, chances are that people are going to be emotional, and a lot like you, will be listening saying ‘yeah!’ or ‘damn right he should have gotten the ball more!’ Whatever your true and honest thoughts are, go with them and you can amplify it. Local postgame shows, you know who your audience is, I think it’s perfectly okay to show a lot of emotion. 

BSM Writers

Adam The Bull Is Giving Cleveland Something It’s Never Had Before

“It was only more recently that I was like why do I have to only be a radio guy?”

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After spending 22 years on the radio, Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber was ready for a new adventure.  In fact, the former co-host of Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland did not have a new job lined up when he signed off from his 11-year radio home last month.

“I was already leaving without having a new project,” admitted Gerstenhaber during a recent phone interview with BSM.  “I left before I knew for sure I had a ‘next project’.”

Gerstenhaber was preparing for his final show with co-host Dustin Fox on April 1st when he was contacted by an executive producer for TEGNA, a company that was developing a Cleveland sports television show on YouTube.  The executive producer, who had just found out that Bull was a free agent, made it clear that he wanted Bull to be a part of the new project.

It all came together very quickly. 

“Let’s talk on Monday,” Gerstenhaber told the executive producer. “And within a week they signed me up.”

The Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show on YouTube featuring Gerstenhaber, former ESPN personality Jay Crawford, 92.3 The Fan’s Garrett Bush, and rotating hosts to make up a four-person round-table show, made its debut last Monday.  The show, which airs weekdays from 11am to 1pm, features passionate Cleveland sports talk, live guests, either in-studio or via Zoom, as well as interaction from the audience through social media.

“I’m very excited,” said Gerstenhaber.  “It’s a definite adjustment for me after 22 years on radio doing television.  For the last 11 years, I’ve been doing a radio show with just one other host and I was the lead guy doing most of the talking and now I’m on a show with three other people and it’s such an adjustment.  So far, I’m having a ball.”  

And so far, the reaction to the show has been very positive.

A big reason why is that it’s something that Cleveland didn’t have and really never had, unlike a city like New York, where there are local radio shows that are simulcast on regional sports channels. 

“There’s nothing like that in Cleveland,” said Gerstenhaber.  “And there was certainly nothing like this with a panel.  Cleveland is such a massive sports town and now people that don’t live in Cleveland that are maybe retired in Florida or Arizona, now they actually have a TV show that they can watch that’s Cleveland-centric.”

The new venture certainly represents a big change in what Bull has been used to in his radio career.  He’s enjoying the freedom of not having to follow a hard clock for this show. In fact, there have already been some occasions where the show has been able to go a little longer than scheduled because they have the flexibility to do that on YouTube.

Doing a show on YouTube gives the panel a great opportunity to go deep into topics and spend some quality time with guests.  And while there is no cursing on the show at the moment, there could be the potential for that down the road.

Don’t expect the show is going to become X-rated or anything like that, but the objective is to be able to capture the spirit and emotion of being a sports fan and host.

“It’s something we may do in the future,” said Gerstenhaber.  “Not curse just to curse but it gives us the option if we get fired up.  It is allowed because there’s no restrictions there.  The company doesn’t want us to do it at the moment.”  

There’s also been the shift for Gerstenhaber from being the “point guard” on his old radio show, driving the conversation and doing most of the talking, to now taking a step back and having Crawford distributing the ball on the television show.

For a guy called “The Bull”, that will take some getting used to. 

“Jay is a pro’s pro,” said Gerstenhaber.  “He’s the point guard for this but he’s also part of the conversation.  I’m not used to not being the point guard so I have to adjust to that.  I think it’s gone pretty well and the chemistry is pretty good and with time we’ll get used to the flow of it.”  

Gerstenhaber’s move from sports radio to an internet television show is a perfect example of how the industry is changing.  A good portion of the listening and viewing audience these days, especially those in the younger demographic, are not necessarily watching traditional television or listening to terrestrial radio.  For a lot of sports fans, watching and listening on a mobile device or a computer has become a very important way of life.

The desire to adapt, along with a shorter workday, was very enticing to him.

“It was only more recently that I was like why do I have to only be a radio guy?” wondered Gerstenhaber.  “There were things about my job that I was unhappy about.  I was doing a five-hour radio show.  It’s too long. That’s crazy.  Nobody should be doing a five-hour radio show at this point.” 

Broadcasting on the internet has arrived and it’s not just a couple of sports fans doing a show from their garage anymore.  The business has evolved to the point where the technology has provided more opportunities for those who have already enjoyed success in the industry and are looking for new challenges.

Kind of like Adam The Bull!

“I think years ago, probably like many people in the radio business, we looked at internet and podcasts as like whatever…those guys aren’t professionals…they’re amateurs,” said Gerstenhaber.  “But the game has changed.”

Gerstenhaber, Crawford and everyone associated with the “Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show” should not have much of a problem attracting the younger audience. That demographic is already accustomed to watching shows on YouTube and other streaming platforms.  The challenge now is to get the more mature audience on board. There are certainly some obstacles there.

I know this from experience with trying to explain to my mother in Florida how she can hear me on the radio and watch me on television simply by using her tablet.

Bull can certainly relate to that.

“My mother is still trying to figure out how to watch the show live,” said Gerstenhaber with a chuckle.  “The older fans struggle with that. A lot of my older fans here in Cleveland are like how do I watch it? For people that are under 40 and certainly people that under 30, watching a YouTube show is like okay I watch everything on my phone or device.  It’s such a divide and obviously as the years go by, that group will increase.” 

With the television show off and running, Gerstenhaber still has a passion for his roots and that’s the radio side of the business.  In the next couple of weeks, “The Bull” is set to announce the launch of two podcasts, one daily and one weekly, that will begin next month.  But he also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to terrestrial radio at some point.

“I have not closed the door to radio,” said Gerstenhaber.  “I still love radio.  I would still, in the right set of circumstances, consider going back to radio but it would have to really be the perfect situation.  I’m excited about (the television show) and right now I don’t want to do anything else but I’m certainly going to remain open-minded to radio if a really excellent opportunity came up.”

The landscape of the broadcasting industry, particularly when it comes to sports, has certainly changed over the years and continues to evolve.  Adam Gerstenhaber certainly enjoyed a tremendous amount of success on the radio side, both in New York and in Cleveland, but now he has made the transition to something new with the YouTube television show and he’s committed to making it a success.

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BSM Writers

Why You Should Be Making Great TikTok Content

“We’re specially trained in the world of TSL (time spent listening), and the longer people view your content on TikTok, the more the app rewards you by shoving your content into more and more feeds.”

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It feels like there’s a new social media platform to pay attention to every other week. That makes it easy to overlook when one of them actually presents value to your brand. It wasn’t long ago that TikTok was primarily used by teenagers with the focus being silly dance trends filmed for video consumption with their friends and followers alike. Now, as the general public has become in tune with how this complicated app works, it’s grown far beyond that.

TikTok is now an app used by all types of demographics and unlike TikTok’s closely related cousins Instagram and Facebook, this app provides a certain type of nuance that I think people in our line of work can really excel in. 

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of how you can use TikTok to your advantage and how to make your videos catch on, I think it’s important to first mention why this matters for you. Now, if I’m being realistic, I’m sure there are some that have already stopped reading this or those that could scroll away fast enough when they saw the words TikTok. You might be thinking that this doesn’t fit your demo, or maybe that it’s a waste of time because productivity here won’t directly lead to an uptick in Nielsen ratings. But I’m not sure any social network directly leads to what we ultimately get judged on, and we aren’t always pumping out content directly to our core audience.

TikTok, like any other app you may use, is marketing. This is another free tool to let people out there know who you are and what you offer in this endless sea of content. And the beauty of TikTok is that it directly caters its algorithm to content creators just like us. Bottom line, if you are a personality in sports talk, there’s no reason you can’t be crushing it on TikTok right now. All it takes is a little direction, focus, consistency, and a plan. 

Unlike Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where you can throw a photo up with a caption and be done for the day, TikTok’s whole model is built on creative videos that keep users engaged for longer periods of time. This approach works. According to Oberlo, a social media stat tracking site, people spend more time per day on TikTok than any other popular social media application. 38 minutes per day!

This is where this is good news for us in talk radio. We’re specially trained in the world of TSL (time spent listening), and the longer people view your content on TikTok, the more the app rewards you by shoving your content into more and more feeds. TikTok’s algorithm doesn’t care how many followers you have, your level of credibility, or the production on your video. All ir cares about is 1) Is your content good. and 2) Are people watching it. 3) How long are they watching it. The more people watch and the longer they watch creates a snowball effect. Your videos views will skyrocket, sometimes within hours. 

So, how do you create content that will catch on? It’s really not all that different than what you do every day. Create thought-provoking commentary that makes people think, argue, or stay till the end to get the info you teased up for them. I’ve found through my own trial and error that it’s best if you stay away from time-sensitive material, I’ve had more success the more evergreen my content is. That way, the shelf life expands beyond just that day or week. This is different for everyone and there’s no one-size-fits-all, but this is where I’ve seen the most success. 

Also, put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to say something that people are going to vehemently disagree with. Again, it’s not unlike what we do every day. It’s one thing to get someone to listen, it’s another to get them to engage. Once they hit you in the comment section, you’ve got them hooked. Comments breed more views and on and on. But don’t just let those sit there, even the smallest interaction back like a shoulder shrug emoji can go a long way in creating more play for your video. 

If you want to grow quickly, create a niche for yourself. The best content creators that I follow on TikTok all put out very similar content for most of their videos. This means, unlike Instagram where it’s great to show what a wildly interesting and eclectic person you are, TikTok users want to know what they’re getting the second your face pops up on that screen. So if you are the sports history guy, be the sports history guy all the time. If you are the top 5 list guy, be the top 5 list guy all the time, and on and on, you get the point. 

Other simple tricks

  • Splice small videos together. Don’t shoot one long video. 
  • 90 seconds to 2 minutes is a sweet spot amount of time. 
  • Add a soft layer of background instrumental music (this feature is found in the app when you are putting the finishing touches on your video) 
  • Label your video across the screen at the start and time it out so that it disappears seconds later. This way a user gets an idea of what the content is immediately and then can focus on you delivering your message thereafter.  
  • Research trending hashtags, they are far more important than whatever you caption your video. 
  • Use closed captions so that people can follow your video without sound. 

Finally, don’t be intimidated by it or snub your nose at it. Anything that helps your brand is worth doing and anything worth doing is worth doing well. 

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BSM Writers

Does Tom Brady’s Salary Make Sense For FOX In a Changing Media World?

“The risk here doesn’t have to do with Brady specifically, but rather the business of televising football games in general.”

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FOX is playing it too safe when it comes to adding Tom Brady.

That’s going to sound weird given the size of Brady’s broadcasting contract. Even if that deal isn’t worth as much as initially reported, it’s a hell of a lot of loot, especially considering Brady has remained steadfastly uninteresting for a solid 20 years now.

Let’s not pretend that is a detriment in the eyes of a television network, however. There’s a long line of famous athletes companies like FOX have happily paid millions without ever requiring them to be much more than consistently inoffensive and occasionally insightful. Yes, Brady is getting more money than those previous guys, but he’s also the most successful quarterback in NFL history.

The risk here doesn’t have to do with Brady specifically, but rather the business of televising football games in general. More specifically, the fact that the business of televising football games is changing, and while it may not be changing quite as rapidly as the rest of the sports-media industry, but it is changing. There’s an increasing number of choices available to viewers not only in the games that can be watched, but how they are consumed. Everything in the industry points to an increasingly fragmented audience and yet by signing Brady to be in the broadcast booth once he retires, FOX is paying a premium for a single component in a tried-and-true broadcasting formula will be more successful. 

Think of Brady’s hiring as a bet FOX made. A 10-year commitment in which it is doubling down on the status quo at a time of obvious change. FOX saw ESPN introduce the ManningCast last year, and instead of seeing the potential for a network to build different types of products, FOX decided, “Nah, we don’t want to do anything different or new.” Don’t let the price tag fool you. FOX went out and bought a really famous former player to put in a traditional broadcast booth to hope that the center holds..

Maybe it will. Maybe Brady is that interesting or he’s that famous and his presence is powerful enough to defy the trends within the industry. I’m not naive enough to think that value depends on the quality of someone’s content. The memoir of a former U.S. president will fetch a multi-million-dollar advance not because of the literary quality, but because of the size of the potential audience. It’s the same rationale behind FOX’s addition of Brady.

But don’t mistake an expensive addition from an innovative one. The ManningCast was an actual innovation. A totally different way of televising a football game, and while not everyone liked it, some people absolutely loved it. It’s not going to replace the regular Monday Night Football format, but it wasn’t supposed to. It’s an alternative or more likely a complement and ESPN was sufficiently encouraged to extend the ManningCast through 2024. It’s a different product. Another option it is offering its customers. You can choose to watch to the traditional broadcast format with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth or you can watch the Mannings or you can toggle between both. What’s FOX’s option for those audience members who prefer something like the ManningCast to the traditional broadcast?

It’s not just ESPN, either. Amazon offered viewers a choice of broadcasters, too, from a female announcing tandem of Hannah Storm and Andrea Kramer beginning in 2018 to the Scouts Feed with Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks in 2020.

So now, not only do viewers have an increasingly wide array of choices on which NFL games they can watch — thanks to Sunday Ticket — they in some instances have a choice of the announcing crew for that given game. Amid this economic environment, FOX not only decided that it was best to invest in a single product, but it decided to make that investment in a guy who had never done this particular job before nor shown much in the way of an aptitude for it.

Again, maybe Brady is the guy to pull it off. He’s certainly famous enough. His seven Super Bowl victories are unmatched and span two franchises, and while he’s denied most attempts to be anything approaching interesting in public over the past 20 years, perhaps that is changing. His increasingly amusing Twitter posts over the past 2 years could be a hint of the humor he’s going to bring to the broadcast booth. That Tampa Tom is his true personality, which remained under a gag order from the Sith Lord Bill Belichick, and now Brady will suddenly become football’s equivalent of Charles Barkley.

But that’s a hell of a needle to thread for anyone, even someone as famous as Brady, and it’s a really high bar for someone with no broadcasting experience. The upside for FOX is that its traditional approach holds. The downside, however, is that it is not only spending more money on a product with a declining market, but it is ignoring obvious trends within the industry as it does so.

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