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Murph & Mac Act Like There’s No Tomorrow

“You’re definitely aware of your own mortality,” shrugs Paulie. “We just try to have fun with it. Even on the air, that’s just how it is.”

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It’s 10:01 am on a Wednesday in KNBR’s North Beach studios.  The sun splashed the Cumulus building and the rest of San Francisco just about 3 hours earlier.

Generally this marks quitting time for Brian Murphy and Paulie McCaffrey but today they have one promo read that stands between them and the door.  The day’s 4 hour Murph and Mac show was pretty typical for the longest running sports radio tandem in the Bay Area.  Brian discussed the turbulent nature of his recent colonoscopy and Paulie asked earnest questions about the process.  All live on 50,000 watts.

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Preparing for their 30 second spot, the two radio vets are a shining example of the idea that opposites attract.  Brian, in a quarter zip and khakis, is looking over the copy tossing out ideas about how they should attack the read.  Paulie, in his hoodie and jeans, answers with Good Will Hunting quotes, all while tapping his black converse-adorned foot to a tune he’s humming to himself.  This dance between the San Francisco icons lasts for about 3 minutes before they ultimately decide on nothing, other than just to try it.

They nail it on the first take.

The shorthand between Murph and Mac is tough to describe.  They have the kind of connection you can only forge over nearly 14 years of live radio.  They can have full conversations with a moment of eye contact.  Theirs is a relationship beyond coworkers or even friendship.  It almost feels like a marriage.

“I only see one problem with the marriage comparison,” admits Bonnie-Jill Laflin, owner of the show’s third microphone for the last year.  

“Married people fight way more.”

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Like any tale worth telling, the origin story of Murph and Mac starts with two young men who had no aspirations of becoming what they are today.

Brian Murphy graduated Mount Tamalpais just north of San Francisco in 1985 and headed off to UCLA to pursue a career in sports writing.

“The dream was to write for Sports Illustrated,” Murphy recounts. 

“Back then, there was a traditional route.  You’d find a job out of college working for any paper that would have you, then work your way up from there.  That was my plan.”

His plan eventually earned him a position with the San Francisco Chronicle covering golf in the early 2000s and catching the attention of the market’s sports radio giant.

“My first interaction with KNBR came as a guest, actually.  They’d have me on to talk golf leading up to a major or some big tournament.  It was a lot of fun.”

What the sports writer viewed as “fun,” the powers that be at KNBR viewed as potential.  In the spring of ’04, Murphy was recruited to fill in opposite Ralph Barbieri on The Razor and Mr. T while Tom Tolbert was traveling for NBA duties.

“You can definitely say my radio career is owed to Tom’s television career,” Murphy offers with a slight chuckle.

In less than a year, Murphy was offered a full time position on the station’s morning drive – one he cautiously accepted.

“I always thought, ‘OK, if this doesn’t work out, I’ll just go back to writing.'”

In November of 2004, KNBR had one half of what would become their cornerstone morning show.  Unknown to the station and Murphy at the time, the co-host they were looking for had already worked at the station for nearly a decade…as a copywriter.

Paul McCaffrey grew up “bicoastal” well before it was cool, which could not be more Paul McCaffrey.  

After spending time in a handful of cities, his college years found him in Boston where he attended Curry College.

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“They had a great college radio station, so I would hang out there and eventually they had me DJ jazz at like 7 am on Tuesdays and from there I did every genre up to hip hop.”

McCaffrey pauses.

“Late 80s hip hop, man – think of all those great artists!”

Upon graduation, McCaffrey did what he always thought he would do and returned to the City by the Bay.

“The time I spent in San Francisco as a kid, I always knew this place was special.  I always knew I would be back here.  I love this city.” 

By the mid 90s McCaffrey found himself in that copywriter position.  He wasn’t a DJ, but he was just fine with that.

“I was working in radio in a great city.  I wasn’t on air, but I had pretty much let the dream go by then.”

Perhaps Paul was ready to let his on air dream die, but KNBR General Manager Tony Salvatore had no such intention.

“I remember I used to argue with coworkers getting coffee, or in the hallway or something, always about sports – and Tony used to hear me, point and say; ‘I wanna hear more from you.'”

Almost to McCaffrey’s shock, Salvatore gave the copywriter a shot on the station’s newly acquired Ticket 1050.  He didn’t spend years in small to medium markets climbing the ladder to big market radio, and he didn’t grind through print media – but he was a passionate fan.  His voice was that of the listeners and that perspective was cherished by Salvatore.  In a few years, the Curry College grad made a name for himself not only on 1050, but the company’s rock station 107.7 The Bone.  A passion for sports and music along with an infectious sense of humor had made McCaffrey’s dreams come true.  But things were about to get even better.

By Christmas of 2005 Brian Murphy had been handling KNBR’s morning drive for a year – but the station was still searching for his co-pilot.  It was at this point they decided to try Paul McCaffrey opposite Murphy for a handful of shows.  You couldn’t pinpoint the reason why or how, but somehow the sports writer and the college jazz DJ complimented each other perfectly.  The left side of the brain and the right. They fit together as well as their surnames – Murphy and McCaffrey – or as Tony Salvatore first exclaimed after their first few shows: “Murph and Mac!”

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The marriage of Murph and Mac officially began just weeks later.  For better or for worse – in sickness and in health.  Unfortunately for Paulie and Brian, the San Francisco sports landscape during their first couple years was beyond sick – it was on life support.

“It was awful,” Brian remembers, laughing as if to keep from crying.

“Think about it – the Giants were terrible, the Warriors were terrible, the Niners were terrible.  We had nothing!”

From the jump – their partnership was tested.  They were forced to make 4 hours of content everyday out of franchises that weren’t giving them much to chat about.  It was a challenge they overcame by a little old fashioned creativity.

“We tried a lot of stuff,” Paulie recalls through a nostalgic smile.

The two developed a fake auction in which they would push items associated with losing that no one would want, a “grievance game,” and of course – Paulie Mac’s now signature parody songs.

After a year of making lemonade out of lemons – Murph and Mac had established themselves with Bay Area commuters, just in time for the sports scene to turn around.  The “We Believe” Warriors in the Spring of 2007 galvanized the Bay Area in a way that was relatively unprecedented, certainly in the previous ten years.  After the ’07 Golden State run, the Giants rose to relevance with Tim Lincecum’s ascension in ’08 and the team’s playoff push in ’09.  By the summer of 2010, there was a momentum with the San Francisco Giants that no one could really put a word on – no one but Paulie Mac.

“That summer, the Giants would keep winning these close games, and we were the first ones on the next day to talk about it – and Paulie would always say ‘this feels different, everyone, there’s magic in the air!  There’s particles!'”

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It was during that run 9 years ago that Murph and Mac rose to a different level of fame among Bay Area sports fans.  They would soon be stopped on the street by construction workers only to hear jackhammer operators yell “PARTICLES!”

The subsequent 3 World Series titles by the Giants, the renaissance of the 49ers and the Warriors developing into one of the best teams in the history of the NBA put the Bay Area at the center of the sports world, and Murph and Mac were there for the fans every morning.  They became synonymous with success, and fans grew closer and closer to their favorite morning show. 

Ask Brian and Paulie for a specific example of a moment they realized how important their show is to certain listeners and they’re overwhelmed.  They’ve had people reach out to express how their show got them through personal tragedy.  How they offered up a daily distraction from pain and loss.  Neither expected to have such an intimate connection with their fan base, but it’s one they refuse to take lightly.

The secret to their success?  It might be the “act like there’s no tomorrow attitude” they bring to every show.  In an industry that can be as ruthless as any in the world, in a market and a station where they’ve seen a number of coworkers lose their positions without much warning, Brian and Paulie have little delusions about job security.  

“You’re definitely aware of your own mortality,” shrugs Paulie.  “We just try to have fun with it.  Even on the air, that’s just how it is.”

“Yeah we’ve seen Bay Area legends walk out the door – so why not us tomorrow you know?  It’s kind of like gallows humor,” declares Brian.

That humility and subtle vulnerability of Murph and Mac is more than just part of their appeal.  They’re approachable and it comes through on the airwaves. Their bond is built on being next to each other for countless highs and lows in their personal lives. 

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“This guy is the best,” Brian sighs while glancing at this partner.  His voice as genuine as it was while discussing the unpleasant nature of his colonoscopy.

“There’s absolutely days when you don’t feel like telling jokes for four hours – but it’s on those days when you really have to bring it,” describes Paulie.  “You never see David Lee Roth or Mick Jagger come out and cancel a show ’cause they’re having a bad day – why should we?”

In nearly 14 years Murph and Mac has gone from the new show to THE show in the Bay Area.  They’re not looking for your adoration, they’re not looking to be celebrated – they’re just happy listeners continue to make them a part of their commute.

Not bad for a golf beat writer and a copy writing jazz DJ.  

BSM Writers

Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call

“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”

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I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.

The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.

OKC Radio Host Sam Mayes Fired After Racist Audio is Leaked

Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.

Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.

We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.

I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.

You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.

People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.

How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.

All About the Lucky Star Casino in El Reno, Concho
Courtesy: TripAdvisor/Adam Knapp

Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.

If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.

In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.

Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.

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What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.

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BSM Writers

Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!

“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”

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Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?

Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.

To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:

#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?

#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?

#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?

If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!

Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.

Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:

#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.

#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.

#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.

#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.

#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.

Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!

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BSM Writers

Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas

“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”

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Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?

Chevy Chase, aka Clark Griswold, to light up stage in Berks | Berks  Regional News | wfmz.com
Courtesy: Warner Bros./National Lampoon

Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!

One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.

Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.

There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.

Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.

I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.

Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.

It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?

25 Best Christmas Inflatables - Top Inflatable Christmas Decorations

Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.

If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.

Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.

A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.

“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.

We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.

Kevin Anderson on Twitter: "Just noticed that I've been blocked by the  international civil aviation authority @icao Have others working on  aviation emissions also been blocked? Appears to be that their commitment

As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.

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