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Radio Is Petros Papadakis’s Never Never Land

” started doing daily radio in my early 20s and there’s still a lot of me that acts like I’m in my early 20s on the air now. I don’t act like that in my real life, but there’s a certain lack of maturity that people expect from me on the air.”

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Former Los Angeles Raiders defensive end Howie Long once gave a memorable description of his distinctively uncommon teammate Todd Christensen. Long said on NFL Network’s America’s Game, “Well, Noah takes them all on the boat. We’ll take two of them, two of them, but we only got one of him.” Christensen’s personality stood out. A similar description would fittingly apply to the uniquely talented Petros Papadakis — a broadcaster that is easily identifiable and truly one of a kind. 

Image result for petros papadakis

As a successful football commentator and sports radio host, Petros brings a different flavor to the table. His style is outgoing and energetic, but it’s much more distinctive than that. It’s a signature concoction of random and unpredictable, immature yet intelligent. Petros is similar to a band that doesn’t quite fit into one specific musical category. He’s his own genre.

Petros and Matt “Money” Smith showcase their unconventional form each weekday starting at 3pm PT on AM 570 LA Sports. For as loud as “stick-to-sports” guy is, the successful run of The Petros and Money Show is proof that there are many sports talk listeners that prefer more than just hardcore sports talk. Petros details the moment he realized there are people that respond to radio that isn’t conventional. He also uses an intriguing word to describe the relationship he has with his radio show. Enjoy.

Brian Noe: What do you enjoy most about being behind a microphone — either as a sports radio host or as a football commentator?

Petros Papadakis: I guess I enjoy certain things about both. Calling a game is really different from doing the show in a lot of regards. A lot of the show is about me being me — my interpretation of things and stupid stuff about my life.

That’s not what a game is for, at least in my estimation. Some broadcasts might treat it differently, but when we have a game on the air it’s a good time to celebrate the young guys that are playing, the area, the schools, and the whole spectacle that goes into putting on a college football game.

You’ve got the announcers — we have these self-important guys that we send cars for. They send cars for us; you should send a car for the camera guy. (Laughs) It’s funny to me. You always hear all these stories about these diva announcers and how this guy needs his pillow fluffed and this guy needs his private jet gassed up and ready. It’s like my God. I watch the game on mute. I can’t stand most of these guys. (Laughs) I can’t stand hearing myself.

I enjoy being more economical doing the games because the radio is obviously not that way. We’ve got to pedal that bike and if you stop pedaling it just falls over. I guess that’s the difference. I enjoy both. I enjoy getting it all out on the radio. When you’ve done it as long as we have it becomes part of what your life is. I know maybe that sounds really entitled, but you feel like that afternoon is your time to be that guy. It gets very hard to live without the radio show. It’s really hard for me to let go of it, which is why I take very little vacation because it’s like an obsession I guess.

BN: If you had to pick one and not do the other, which do you think you would miss more: sports radio or commentating?

PP: Oh, radio because it’s a daily thing. When you do college games, you do 14 events a year. That’s it. It really is 14 weeks because you live the week. You do conference calls. You’re in touch with people. You’re in touch with production. You travel and you meet and do all that stuff. Nobody sees that. The radio, it just plays out every day. It’s a really personal relationship. It’s always amazed me in a way — and I don’t consider myself to be a celebrity or famous even locally — but people that recognize you from the radio, especially, they just feel connected to you, like you’re part of their lives. They know you. The truth is they do and you are a part of their life. Even though you don’t know them, they know you. That’s a really kind of cool, personal relationship that I’ve always been amazed by.

The intimate level of relationship with somebody that you don’t know, I almost liken it to — and this is another thing that amazed me — it’s been a long time since I played football. I kind of impersonate an ex-football player when I call football games. If I see a guy that I played against at some point when we were in college, there’s this weird camaraderie where you hug each other. I don’t even know the guy, but you come across each other after having played football and trying to kill each other back in the late ‘90s, and you have this weird kind of strange connection. The only other time I’ve experienced that in my life is with radio listeners. It’s interesting having all these weird, unknown friends around the city.

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BN: I love that word you used where you said doing radio is like an obsession. When do you think it became that way for you?

PP: There was a producer at 1540 The Ticket when I had my first show. I had no idea how to fill the time. It was hard for me. I’m not naturally a guy that wants to sit down and talk about sports — the kind of sports that people talked about on sports talk radio back then. Like so-and-so is injured and somebody would call and ask you about the Kansas City Royals lineup and you’d be like uhhh. (Laughs) What everybody was doing in sports talk radio, I did not know how to do sincerely.

I was struggling, or at least it felt like I was struggling. One day I came to work — this guy’s name was Craig Larson — and he said we’re going to sing a song. We produced a parody song. We obviously aren’t the first people ever to do that in radio, but we did a parody song about Lamar Odom to “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. Instead of you got to know when to hold them, it was you got to know Lamar Odom, he rolls blunts and smokes ‘em. In third grade he was 11.

People called in and reacted to the song. Once we started doing that I realized that I could make it whenever I wanted. People responded to stuff that just wasn’t super conventional. That station was a little too small to stop me. (Laughs) I felt like I had something going creatively. Then Don Martin just let me do it. Don has always been hands off and let us do the show.

The only weird part about it is — I started doing daily radio in my early 20s and there’s still a lot of me that acts like I’m in my early 20s on the air now. I don’t act like that in my real life, but there’s a certain lack of maturity that people expect from me on the air. It’s like a place where I’ve never really grown up in some senses. It’s like my never-never land. I feel like it’s that way for Matt too. I mean my God, Matt’s 46, I’m 42, and we’re still there doing rap lyrics and jumping around like idiots, throwing stuff at each other, and taking shots.

BN: You guys have such a good mix where it can be off the rails, or you can have regular sports conversations at times. What’s your general approach to mapping out a show when you bring those two very different elements to the table? 

Image result for petros and money

PP: Well, we’ve done it for so long that it’s kind of an unspoken thing I’d have to say. We make space for each other to do what the other guy wants to do in a certain spot every day. The rest of it we fill in the blanks. A lot of those blanks I fill in just acting stupid. I think both of us know when to steer it back to whatever the middle is. The one thing I think I really try to avoid is that I don’t ever want to be seen as taking myself too seriously doing this work. 

I guess the older I get, the more disillusioned I kind of am with what passes off as entertainment on the radio. (Laughs) I’m not much of a fan of the genre I guess is a good way to put it. There are a lot of people I respect that do the job, it’s just not for me the way they do it. I don’t ever like detaching myself from how hard it is to play sports at a high level. The way people talk about it like, “That guy sucks.” It’s like, dude, most of the time that guy’s pretty f***ing good. Trust me, that guy can f***ing play.

I did 10 years in the booth with Barry Tompkins. Barry was 50 years older than me and still is. Actually we’re going to reunite and do the state championships on Spectrum in a couple of weeks.

BN: Oh, that’s cool.

PP: Yeah, it’ll be fun. God, Barry’s got to be 80 now. We worked together a long time, but he was older and he’d been through the wars. He wasn’t as attached to the game in some ways. After 10 years they put me on the sideline. I got back down on the field and saw the players and smelled all the smells and listened to the sport. I did sidelines for Joel Klatt and Craig Bolerjack, championship games, and Gus Johnson’s crew. I did that for a few years and it really pulled me back into how hard it is to play the sport. I try not to detach myself from that as a commentator. It helps me be a little bit more balanced doing the job.

BN: What area do you think that you and Money have grown the most in over the years?

PP: That’s a good question. I feel like such an immature idiot on the radio. I think we just understand each other better. It’s a little easier to have perspective day-to-day. I used to be bothered about things that happened, or didn’t happen, or what we should have done, or this or that. It’d keep me up at night. I think both of us, probably him a lot earlier than me — because he’s got a daughter in college now while I’m still fighting with two-year-olds here — I think just letting the show be whatever it is and moving on to the next day. I think we’ve gotten a lot better at that. And just more polished too.

Our producer is really special. It enables us to do a lot of different things and a lot of in-the-moment things that we probably wouldn’t normally be able to do. It requires a great deal of attention in the moment because there’s a lot of the show that’s just improvisational. You really do have to be able to move and shake and be creative in your own way; take some chances. Tim Cates does a great job of that.

BN: If you go back to the beginning, how did you break into sports radio?

PP: A guy named Mark Huska hired me at FOX to do the SoCal Sports Report opposite Matt Stevens. USC was a pretty big story in town. They just fired my coach Paul Hackett. I didn’t really have any plans to do media, but I had done a good deal of interviews when I was the captain at SC. Somehow they got USC to hire me as one of those — like what Max Browne is doing now — pre and post radio.

The first year I did TV two or three times a week in the studio at FOX with Todd Donoho. I did radio from the studio or from the Coliseum on Saturdays. I had no idea what I was doing. USC had a contract with this very small radio station that Mike Garrett negotiated called 1540 The Ticket. It was a third radio station launching in town. They didn’t have a lot of structure or anything.

Image result for 1540 the ticket los angeles

Very soon I had my own show. I had a show with Mark Willard. I didn’t get along with him very well. I just did not enjoy being his radio partner and I think it really set me back because it made me very combative early in my career. I got really protective and really closed off to some things. I hate to blame Mark for that, but he was a very difficult personality for me. Some people I get along with very well, you know? (Laughs) Let’s just put it like this, he was the opposite of who I wanted to be on the radio.

I was able to wrestle myself away from him and I just had my own show. It kind of went from there. With the USC stuff, I went from doing pre and post to the next year I became their sideline guy. I did that job till 2003. The Leinart Rose Bowl beating Michigan was my last SC game. Then I started doing the Pac-10 Game of the Week in ‘04, which was FOX’s national package at that time. It was on all their regionals. I was in the booth with Barry by the time I was like 26, 27. Then I did that for 10 years. I had no idea what was happening in any of those jobs. I feel like just now I’m starting to really grasp doing color on TV. I don’t know how I pulled it off since ‘04.

BN: With everything you’ve been able to accomplish, is there anything that stands out the most to you?

PP: I consider it a privilege to be able to do the games and tell those stories on TV. I’m grateful to FOX for allowing me to do it for this long — same with the radio. We have a lot of fun on the radio and whatever the line is that’s drawn in the sand, we still really enjoy doing it. So I’m really just grateful for those things. The one thing that kind of surprises me is just how long I’ve been able to fool everybody. I’ve worked bigger games, but I kind of like doing the level of game that I do. (Laughs)

I’m not one of those guys that was like I’m going to be the number one analyst. I’ve never really been that guy. I guess that’s one of my bigger flaws is I’m not the most ambitious guy out there. The guy that hired me at FOX way back in the day still acts as my kind of manager. I never went with any agency or anything like that. Now he’s an executive producer on the Tennis Channel and he still has to negotiate my contracts and stuff. I guess that’s probably one of the things that’s a little bit more unique about me — sometimes people try to hire me for work and they’re like “I could not get ahold of you.” I’m like “don’t you have the secret textoso line?” (Laughs)

BN: What do you think has been really helpful for you as a sports radio host or a commentator that you figured out on your own?

PP: On my own? Gosh, I’m a slow learner. I guess just a certain level of excitement is one of those things. You have to kind of be your own blocker. You have to act like you care about what you’re talking about almost to a level where you sound absurd, but not in an insincere way, just kind of a fun way. That’s one thing I’ve always figured out.

The other thing — and this applies to a football game or any kind of game on TV, or really any kind of show, and certainly on a radio show — is whether people listen for five minutes or they listen to the whole three hours, it’s got to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s got to be like a story. Whether you do that with music, or in the beginning you introduce everybody, in the middle you let it play out, in the end you go more big picture.

People used to say that to me — not that I really figured it out on my own — production people used to say that to me and I didn’t really understand what it meant. Now I sort of do. It’s really just more of a feel. The better feel you have for that as a broadcaster or somebody who’s shaping a show, somebody in production, the more naturally things just come to you.

BN: What other good advice have you gotten that helps you?

PP: Less is more. That’s written on the wall at FOX. (Laugh)

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BN: Do you have that tattooed yet?

PP: No, but I should because it’s hard for me obviously. Less is more; you don’t have to drown everybody with everything all the time. Some of the top broadcasters in the world do it. Just because you researched it and wrote it down doesn’t mean it has to fit into the show. You have to discern when and where to use it. People don’t need to feel like you’re exponentially smarter than them. They just need to feel like you’re a little bit more well-informed than them and they’ll listen to you. They don’t need to feel like you are the guy from A Beautiful Mind.

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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