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There’s No Such Thing As Too Polite For Jamie Bradford

“We had somebody call in to my show one time and tell me that we were too polite. I took that as a compliment.”

Tyler McComas

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If you haven’t already, you need to take some time and listen to the Barrett Sports Media podcasts that JB has recently put out. Actually, while you’re at it, go ahead and check out all the podcasts under the BSM umbrella, which includes both Demetri Ravanos and Brandon Contes. 

Last week, I was listening to the BSM podcast with Nick Cattles of ESPN Radio 94.1 in Virginia Beach. The episode was informative and entertaining, but it sparked a story idea I wanted to explore. Cattles mentioned that with the military personnel stationed in Virginia Beach, he carries his show with more national topics, seeing as the interest from his listeners span from teams all over the country. So exactly what would it be like to host a show in a market that has a large military presence? 

To get that answer, I spoke with Jamie Bradford of the JB Show on ESPN Radio 98.9 in Charleston, South Carolina. Though I got some fascinating feedback on how his station caters to the military, I also learned how unique of a sports radio market the area is. It’s a passionate city but also extremely well-mannered and nice. How about that? 

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Tyler McComas: So Charleston has a lot of military personnel living in the city. Do you cater much to them? 

Jamie Bradford: We absolutely do. We’re huge supporters of the United States Military. Our group here in Charleston, Kirkman Broadcasting, that owns ESPN radio, we’re also home of The Citadel Bulldogs, so we certainly have a presence with those guys downtown. During my show every day at noon, we play the National Anthem. We do it every show and it’s a tip of the cap to our military, as well as to the police, first responders and really just to America.

We acknowledge the military in a major way. Every year I do a Veterans Day show for the US Military. We turn the show back over to the listener. We ask people to call in and acknowledge veterans and their family. Maybe they themselves are a veteran or they may even have a story about a veteran. They call in and share it and we do that for three-straight hours. It’s an amazing show. Then the Friday before Army vs. Navy we open the show up to both Army and Navy fans. A lot of them are alumni in this area and they may call in just to say Go Army beat Navy or Go Navy beat Army. It’s pretty fun. You get a lot of trash talk and people don’t turn the dial on those days. We do everything we possibly can for our military, every day. 

TM: Are there any station events you’ll do throughout the year for military?

JB: We used to have a contract with Patriots Point. If you’re unfamiliar with that it’s the home of the USS Yorktown. We used to do some things with those guys, but they cut back this year. They also used to sponsor the halftime of Military Day at Clemson and South Carolina.

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We’ve been looking to re-engage and in 2020 we’re looking at a couple of different things where we could be more on-site in certain situations, rather than just on air. We want to try to do more community-based events. We haven’t finalized all those plans but they’re certainly in the works.

TM: Charleston is also a really great city for food. How much does that come up on the show?

JB: Yeah, a pretty good amount. You’re talking a whole lot of football during this time of the year so people always let you know what their tailgate spread looks like. But we certainly have some clients that we cater to a lot.

My show specifically, The JB Show, is very guest driven. We have 14 or 15 weekly guests, which is a lot. We have a bunch of coaches, players and media members from all of the country. When we have somebody on that we don’t talk to a whole lot, we always ask them what their favorite restaurant in Charleston is. They can always rattle one right off their tongue. But yeah we don’t base the show around food, but we do talk a lot about it. 

TM: So Clemson has had an unbelievable decade and is one of the powers in the sport. Do they generate most of the conversation or does South Carolina still demand the most attention?  

JB: Well, I’m on the home of the Gamecocks and I also host their pregame show on ESPN Radio so it makes it pretty easy on me. You always have to cater to the home team, certainly. But in this market right now you certainly have to acknowledge what the Tigers have done.

You know, it’s interesting, the talk of the town has been South Carolina because of everything that’s been going on with Will Muschamp, the president, and the athletic director Ray Tanner and all the statements that have been made. That’s been much more the conversation. Clemson is kind of coasting along behind the scenes undefeated, and it’s like everyone looked up and it’s time to play the rivalry game this weekend. It’s been pretty balanced, but for vastly different reasons. 

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TM: This seems like an instance where more of your conversation on the show is more off field relative than what’s actually going on in the games. 

JB: Yeah, unfortunately so. It depends where you are obviously. In our market of Charleston, South Carolina people really like to focus on their teams and what happens on the field for the most part but you can’t ignore big things like that. But I think we’re in a day and age of dramatics, especially with social media and things like that. Everyone has an opinion and they want to tell you how much they know. I certainly think what happens off the field, and what drama comes with it, gets more attention than what comes on the field.

TM: Well, there’s so many things to do in Charleston that don’t involve sports. Is it a very passionate sports town? 

JB: It’s amazing. It’s an amazing sports community. I’m born and bred in Charleston and I have my finger on the pulse of this town, as much as anyone else and it really is an amazing sports town. There’s no doubt it’s a Clemson and South Carolina town. I still say that it leans a little bit more towards the Gamecocks, probably 60-40.

Between both of those programs, as well as the College of Charleston and The Citadel, it’s certainly a college town but it’s also a melting pot. Charleston has grown so much in the last decade. Major companies have come in to town, there’s even a lot of Seattle Seahawks fans here because of Boeing. It is a melting pot of sports fans from all over the country. You can go across town and find different sports bars that’s the home of various NFL, MLB and even NHL teams. There’s a Phillies bar in town, A Patriots bar, Seahawks bar, there’s even a bar where Ohio State fans meet.

TM: It feels like there’s just a community feel to the area, which probably means you’re phone call friendly, right? 

JB: Yeah, absolutely. We had somebody call in to my show one time and tell me that we were too polite. I took that as a compliment. I said, well, I appreciate that. Our job in this town isn’t to try and ruffle a bunch of feathers.

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This is a neighborhood community. We all live in neighborhoods and we know each other. If you don’t know somebody, then you know someone who does know them. Even as big as Charleston has gotten, it’s still a close-knit community where everyone likes everyone. This is just one of the best places in the country and I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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