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The Lessons We Learned In Those Game 7s

“Just like Lillard and Leonard showed us last weekend — know when to dominate and when to defer. Hosts that have a feel for this are valuable.”



Many people watch sports for the entertainment value. Heck, I watch sports mainly to be entertained. I haven’t gone into work and said, “Did you see that buzzer-beater? Awww, man! It taught me something valuable that I can apply not only to my personal life but also my professional life!” I’d be known as the weird guy forevermore. Although it’s rare to discuss the lessons we learn from sports with great excitement, it would be silly to overlook examples that can actually benefit us.

There were a pair of Game 7s in the NBA Playoffs on Sunday. Two players in particular — Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard — provided memorable performances as well as some useful lessons. Lillard struggled as the Blazers beat the Nuggets 100-96. Leonard had a monstrous performance scoring 41 points in Toronto’s 92-90 win over the 76ers. Leonard also became the first player to hit a Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA history. 

Image result for kawhi leonard joel embiid

Both games provided plenty of drama and excitement. Leonard’s game-winning shot touched the rim multiple times before dropping. It was like basketball’s version of the famous chip shot by Tiger Woods in the 2005 Masters where his golf ball just sat on the lip of the cup before finally falling in. To me, the excitement went beyond the games. Lillard and Leonard conducted themselves in ways on Sunday that are great examples for sports radio hosts. There are two lessons to remember.

Know When To Be The Go-To Guy (Or Gal)

Lillard is a star player, but doesn’t feel the need to always have a starring role. He had a rough game while only making three of his 17 shots from the field against Denver. Lillard deferred to his teammate, CJ McCollum, who had the hot hand. McCollum scored 37 points and hit a number of huge shots down the stretch. There were possessions in the closing minutes where Lillard didn’t even touch the ball. He has a great feel for what will benefit his team most, even if it involves him taking a backseat.

Meanwhile, Leonard was a monster for the Raptors against Philadelphia. He hit enormous shots and was clearly Toronto’s biggest star. Leonard knew the best chance his team had to win was for him to be a dominant player. He took 39 shots during the game, which accounted for 43.8% of the Raptors total shots. That’s a heavy workload. Lillard’s 17 shots only accounted for 18.2% of Portland’s overall shots against the Nuggets.

What’s the point here among this sea of numbers? Knowing when to have a starring role and when to defer is very important. Sports radio hosts need to have a feel for this just like athletes. 

There are times to assert your dominance, and times to support others. It isn’t only about you. It’s about the show as a whole. Many hosts think they have to constantly shine the brightest for the show to be at its best. This is completely untrue.

There are instances when deferring to a co-host, guest, or piece of audio is the best approach. Maybe someone (gasp) is more knowledgeable than you on a certain topic. Maybe someone (deeper gasp) has an opinion that is more interesting than yours. Instead of trying to outdo everybody and everything around you, it’s smarter to highlight others and lend support even if you don’t stand out the most.

Commentators showcase this skill often. Vin Scully didn’t speak for over a minute after Kirk Gibson hit a dramatic walk-off home run for the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series. Jim Nantz didn’t speak for nearly three minutes after Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters. It wasn’t about the men calling the action. Scully and Nantz knew the true story wasn’t about them; they were just a part of it. It’s similar in sports radio. A necessary skill is to know when to shine and when to support.

The Rock used to say in his WWE wrestling days, “Know your role and shut your mouth.” The truth is being great is more about knowing your roles (plural). You aren’t just one thing constantly. Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, once handed the ball to running back Jonas Gray 37 times in a single game. Gray rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a 2014 Patriots win against the Colts. Did that mean Brady wasn’t a star because he had a supporting role that game? Nope.

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Leonard had a starring role scoring 41 points. Lillard had a supporting role scoring 13 points. They both had a feel for what would benefit their team most. It would have been a bad approach for Lillard to try to force more shots when he was struggling, and for Leonard to defer to his teammates when he clearly had the hottesthand.

As a sports radio host, the same feel needs to exist for what will benefit the show most. It doesn’t stay constant. The roles for radio hosts can vary just like the roles for athletes.

Be yourself

Lillard and Leonard are comfortable being the people they are instead of the people others want them to be. Lillard has stated numerous times that he isn’t planning on leaving the Blazers to join a team that might have a better chance to win a championship. Many people think winning a ring is the only thing that truly matters. Lillard doesn’t subscribe to that theory. He values his teammates to the point that he considers the position they’d be in if he left Portland. Lillard also doesn’t believe that the star player has to always shine. He has a team-first attitude and trusts his teammates in key spots like he did on Sunday.

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Leonard doesn’t have a dynamic personality. He’s okay with that. It didn’t sound like he hit a dramatic series-winning shot when he spoke with TNT’s Ros Gold-Onwude after the game. Instead it sounded like he either woke up from a nap or maybe was doing a halftime interview at a Summer League game. A New Balance commercial summarizes Leonard perfectly — “Kawhi doesn’t need to get your attention. He already has it. Game speaks for itself.”

Being yourself in sports radio is a key factor that many hosts overlook. The business requires hosts to stand out. We need to be different. We need to be noticeable. We need to be this. We need to be that. The most important “thing” you need to be is often the least emphasized — you need to be yourself. If you aren’t, the audience won’t ever know the real you. If they don’t know the real you, then you’re just another host giving another opinion.

I’ve been asked for dating advice on a few occasions. I’m very far from the authority on all things dating. I don’t start off by saying, “If there’s one think I’ve learned about women…” The main thing I stress is to be yourself. Find someone that loves you for you.

I think it’s similar to sports radio. There are ways to improve yourself — pay off your teases right away, play the hits, etc. There are ways to improve yourself in dating — open doors, don’t talk with food falling out of your mouth, listen. Improve yourself in both areas, but not at the expense of simply being yourself. 

Dan Patrick shared a thought last week that hosts don’t need to have a hot take about everything. Patrick described a hot take by saying, “I’m going to go with something outlandish, something wild, and then you’re going to notice me.” 

He’s right. A hot take about everything is overkill. A host that delivers nonstop hot takes is trying too hard to stand out. Do you know what happens when you seek a date by trying too hard? You end up in an exclusive relationship with yourself. Don’t force it.

I’m a very competitive person. I realized over the last week that my goal to stand out and succeed can come at an expense — you might start to stray away from who you truly are. Even if it’s the slightest difference, it can still be a dangerous game.

I wrote at the top of my notes, “Relax and be yourself. Stop trying to be more. Realize you’re already enough.” Cue “Kumbaya” to accentuate this point. It’s the truth though — trying too hard can be one of the worst moves you make.

It all comes down to knowing yourself and knowing the situation. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored the most points and John Stockton recorded the most assists in NBA history. Stockton is also 45th in career points. Abdul-Jabbar is 43rd in career assists ahead of some guy named Michael Jordan. Not too shabby. Neither player was just one thing. They both had a feel for when it was time to score and when it was time to set somebody else up to score.

Image result for kareem abdul-jabbar pass

This is sports radio in a nutshell. Hosts should look to score (by delivering opinions) and assist others (by bringing attention to their stances). A good mixture of both is necessary. 

Just like Lillard and Leonard showed us last weekend — know when to dominate and when to defer. Hosts that have a feel for this are valuable. Hosts that are also comfortable in their own skin will do some damage in this business.

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?”



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.”



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.”



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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