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Remembering John Tautges

“John covered ten Olympics (eight for Westwood One), The Masters more than a dozen times, PGA Championships, U.S. Open golf tournaments and Wimbledon.”

Matt Fishman

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John Tautges, best known as the national radio voice of major sporting events on Westwood One, passed away on July 2nd at the age of 63. 

He started his career as a TV anchor in South Dakota and later served as the PA announcer for the Detroit Red Wings. He worked for UPI, AP and WTEM in DC before joining Westwood One in 1994. John worked for Westwood One from 1994-2006, then again from 2009-2014. From 2006-2009 he worked as a sports anchor and host for the PGA Tour Channel on SiriusXM.

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John covered ten Olympics (eight for Westwood One), The Masters more than a dozen times, PGA Championships, U.S. Open golf tournaments and Wimbledon. Additionally, he served as Westwood One’s lead College Football play-by-play announcer from 1994-2006 and 2009-2014 for college football and basketball. John served as the studio host of Westwood One’s NCAA Basketball Tournament coverage from 2003-2006 and again from 2009-2013. 

Two people who worked closely with John during his career, Mike Eaby and Earl Forcey, give their thoughts on John Tautges’ life and career:

Mike Eaby, VP Sports Administration/Coordinating Producer, Westwood One

“I know it sounds like a cliché, but John really was the consummate pro. John had a terrific radio voice, one that was distinctive and soothing to listeners. No matter what was happening around him, John was cool and calm under pressure and his delivery was always spot on. The way he juggled the many bouncing balls always amazed me, he was ridiculously easy to work with. Nobody prepared for a broadcast as much as he did. John was a producer’s dream that made all of our jobs a lot easier.

“Personally, I have so many fond memories of travelling around the world with John to various sporting events. John had a great sense of humor, who enjoyed a good laugh and I’m often in situations that remind me of the little inside jokes that we shared. John had a passion for international travel and man did we have some great adventures together. I miss hearing the glee and laughter in his voice as he retold those stories to other colleagues. John was one of the truly good guys in this business.”

Earl Forcey, Sports Anchor and Host, 106.7 The Fan/DC, SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio (Previously at Westwood One and WTEM)

“I was stunned to hear the news that John had passed away. John always had that calm, smooth delivery, and that’s exactly who he was off-the-air too. He was a “Pro’s Pro” and as good a broadcaster as he was, John was an even better person. We were a pretty tight knit group back in the day at Westwood One. I’m sure I speak for those who worked with him over the years in saying we not only lost a great colleague but a good friend as well.”

https://twitter.com/westwood1sports/status/1146443846642855936

I was lucky enough to have John come work with me in the early days of XM Satellite Radio. As a start up, having experienced sports radio pros like John Tautges and Earl Forcey work for us, gave us instant credibility and a big, national sound. 

John is survived by his wife, Lori and his daughter, Jordan. A graveside service will be held on Friday, July 12th at 1 p.m., at Fairfax Memorial Park, 9900 Braddock Road, Fairfax, VA 22032. Memorial contributions in John’s name may be made to James Madison University or to Planned Parenthood.

BSM Writers

3 Tips For Solving Co-Host Conflicts

If there’s a specific, repetitive behavior that is bothersome say something.

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What I wrote last week in this space wasn’t wrong, per se. It wasn’t the whole story, either. And at the risk of dragging out the dead horse of intra-show conflict for another week’s worth of whacks, I’d like to resuscitate the topic because there’s something else to learn here.

First, a cliff notes version of our previous episode: I wrote about how I had learned to work with a particular co-host who from time to time drove me up a wall. While I was careful to state this co-host was funny, and unique and described him as a crucial component to whatever success the show enjoyed, I did this in about as backhanded a manner as possible, mentioned him by name, and effectively labeled him as an asshole.

Not my proudest moment. For one, it was unnecessarily hurtful. I could have made the very same points without turning my co-host into a punching bag or even mentioning his name. Second, I do like this particular co-host even if he can make me madder than anyone I’ve ever worked with. He’s an all-time great dad and at his core a kind-hearted man. And finally, even if I didn’t like him, he didn’t deserve that after we worked together successfully for 5 years. So to Jim Moore, I am truly sorry for writing last week’s column the way that I did.

But I’d like to go a little bit deeper here because while last week’s column was an accurate – albeit harsh – reflection of my experiences on the show, it didn’t reflect the full reality of what occurred. This was pointed out to me by several helpful folks in the Seattle area where we worked together, and I’m going to include two examples here, one from a Twitter comment that was deleted and another from an email I received.

The Tweet to me: “As a co-worker, you always seemed to be a management suck-up. My co-workers would make bets on how many times you would whine or berate Jim Moore during a show. You always exceeded their expectations.”

The email: “Do you know how many times I heard you disparage him on the air? … Yours weren’t of the petty variety that you chronicled about him. Yours were biting, relating to his age or supposed lack of work ethic — things that could plant in management’s mind that he — and not you — was dispensable.”

In other words: Jim certainly was not the only person on the show who could be described as an asshole from time to time, and he may not have been the biggest. I did make jokes about my co-host’s age and his work ethic among plenty of other things, including my insistence on bringing up the fact that Jim once invested $10,000 in a so-called “Gold Machine” which was supposedly capable of refining what was previously unprocessable ore. I saw all of this as playing along with the character my co-host had developed, the Beta male. That’s my perspective, though. I don’t know how he felt though, given the reaction to last week’s piece, I think I have a pretty good idea that for him it wasn’t the harmless ribbing that I felt it was.

If this were a normal sad-sack apology, I would now apologize if he was offended. But I try to avoid sad-sack apologies. I make them with my entire chest, and I’m sorry that I acted in a way that could have left my co-host feeling diminished, demeaned, and belittled. I also know that anyone who has spent any amount of time working on a live program has been guilty of these sorts of transgressions and has also been on the receiving end. It’s pretty much endemic to the format especially if you’re looking for subjects that will evoke an emotional reaction. The key to sustaining a show is not avoiding conflict but learning how to manage it.

I also think there are a couple of lessons to be learned here, too.

1)    Set some ground rules

If there’s a specific, repetitive behavior that is bothersome say something. I spelled out last week how I stated that the time to declare a segment as being stupid or unworthy was before the show and not during it. Jokes about my co-host’s age and work ethic should have faced a similar prohibition. Making someone the butt of the same joke without their consent is the recipe for resentment.

2)    Develop a procedure for resolving conflict

It can be a one-on-one meeting. Perhaps there’s a designated mediator like the producer or program director. One tip: Don’t do it over email. That’s a one-way medium that’s prone to venting because you’re not able to see or read the reaction of the recipient as they’re working their way through your list of grievances.

3)    Remember we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, but others by their actions

I think this is a natural tendency we all have. We seek to minimize any harm we cause by focusing on what we meant. We seek to explain the harm we suffer by focusing on how it felt. Understanding this underlying bias can help us see that the actions of others aren’t always malicious and our reactions aren’t always virtuous.

I’m going to close with a line from NYPD Blue, a cop show where Andy Sipowicz played a quick-tempered detective who wore short-sleeved shirts with ties and exhibited a penchant for violence came off as (troublingly) admirable. He also had an aquarium with saltwater fish, which he used as a metaphor for a younger detective he was paired with.

“You have to keep a clean tank,” he said. “Not too cool, not too warm, keep it all in balance.”

It’s true for a show, too. Too tranquil, it gets boring. Too antagonistic, it becomes volatile. Everyone involved has to be willing to make adjustments when necessary because everyone – from time to time – is going to run a little too hot or feel a little cold.

In the five years I worked with Jim, Dave Wyman, and Jessamyn McIntyre, we kept our tank balanced well enough to sustain an afternoon drive show that many people in Seattle remember fondly. It was some of the most fun that I’ve had working in sports media. Anyone who knows Jim and me knows how much I love his writing. I’m able to quote directly from columns he doesn’t remember writing. I’m laughing right now thinking of the time he described Rick Neuheisel’s sister flipping Hugh Millen the “double Dick Bennett” during Neuheisel’s lawsuit against the NCAA and the University of Washington. If you know, you know.

Jim was also capable of making me madder than any other co-worker I’ve ever had. That’s not a criticism. It reflects as much on my level of sensitivity as his behavior. I am glad that I learned to accept who he was as a co-worker throughout our time working together because it made the show more enjoyable for me. I wish I had learned that lesson well enough to have written last week’s column with a smile instead of a snarl.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise Episode 86: The Big Ten Won’t Be The NHL

Demetri Ravanos

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It’s golf, college football and history on Media Noise this week as Demetri talks about the LIV Tour’s media future, Arky Shea wonders if the Big Ten made a mistake exiting ESPN and Peter Schwartz talks about the next legend from WFAN to get the call from the Hall of Fame.

ITunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/media-noise/id1203576506?i=1000569222383

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1meEteEjZbXWt4j9SjoY6A?si=YDFfVLC4Q1Sc-imAztuHLw

iHeart: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-media-noise-99061203?cmp=ios_share&sc=ios_social_share&pr=false&autoplay=true

Google: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9iYXJyZXR0c3BvcnRzbWVkaWEuY29tL2ZlZWQvcG9kY2FzdC8

Amazon: https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/d3c79ba0-e042-4078-b43e-eb4aa6fb60c8/media-noise

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BSM Writers

Are You Sales Material? Take the Sales Quiz

Sports radio needs consistent, motivated, driven people to make the engine run. That’s on the air and that’s making the sales.

Jeff Caves

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Quiz

Sports radio needs consistent, motivated, driven people to make the engine run. That’s on the air and that’s making the sales. However, not everyone in the industry doing sales is cut out for it. Are you? Take this quiz to see if you are qualified to hold your current sales job:

Are you passionate, motivated, and high performing, at goal and above consistently?

Do you develop and maintain deals with clients using all your platforms and, in every market, possible?

Do you sell your station’s social media to a high percentage of your clients?

When was the last time you included OTT or geo fencing in your digital presentation?

Have you sold one of your music stations in the last quarter?

Did you have a sponsor in a station community or sports event in the last quarter?

Are the top three ways your peers describe you as driven, resourceful, and a problem solver? 

Are you considered a champion of diverse cultures, or do you stick with like-minded people?       

Do you always understand your client’s goals, objectives, performance benchmarks, and systems of doing business? 

Do you understand all your client’s customer and market trends?

Do you customize your proposals to meet what the advertiser needs or take proposals off the shelf?

Are most of your presentations featuring digital, social, and over-the-air elements?

Do you have a recognizable negotiation and closing skill set?

Are you known as the person in the office who develops clients from cold calls to annuals and records it all in the CRM?

Is your knowledge of every station in the cluster above a “B”? Can you explain streaming, website, social advertising, and digital audience extension products to clients without help?

Do you do the following weekly: attend networking events, cold call, go door to door, and get client referrals?

Are you on time, submitting accurate orders, sales projections, and new clients list, and analyzing your competitors? 

Do you handle all your client’s billing issues on the same day? 

Do you read company research reports as they come out? 

Are you committed to your manager’s standard for the staff, or do you have your own?

If you didn’t say yes to all these questions, your company likely doesn’t want you working there. Because when your company goes looking to hire new salespeople, they expect them to have all of these qualities. And, when the ad is written to attract those candidates, it is very standard and generalized if they mention compensation.

It is no wonder the industry has such difficulty hiring new people. This type of job description scares most people away. Not often enough or in detail do companies say what THEY offer in support to get you where you need to be. Management support, sales support, presentation support, sales development assistance, digital education, CRM software, or paperwork assistance.

Interviewees should turn the table on the interviewer and start asking THEM questions. And I believe the industry offers support and tools but could do a better job selling it. I hope we start looking at how we recruit new sellers into the industry. There must be a better way. 

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