Enrique Vasquez braced for the first big break of his career. It was Week 1 of the 1992 season for the Houston Oilers and he was sitting in the booth as the color commentator for the Spanish broadcast team. Growing up in Houston, he had routinely listened to the famous broadcasters of the time, such as the legendary Vin Scully. But here he was wearing a headset trying to duplicate all the famous voices he’d heard as a kid, but with his own Spanish flavor to it. The only problem, was that all the broadcasts he had listened to where in English. Though Vasquez is Hispanic, he wasn’t exactly sure what a Spanish-language broadcast was supposed to sound like.
It wasn’t until that very day for the ’92 season opener for the Oilers’, that he heard his first ever Spanish broadcast.
That’s right, Vasquez had never heard a Spanish broadcast in his life until the day he actually did it for an NFL team.
Something must have clicked, because 27 years later, he’s still going at it as hard as ever. Today, Vasquez serves as the play-by-play voice for the Spanish broadcast of both the Houston Texans and Oklahoma Sooners. That means long hours of prep during the week and a rigorous travel schedule on the weekend to catch both games. But still, he’s having the time of his life.
“My prep usually starts on Tuesday,” said Vasquez. “I’ll go over the previous game by listening to our broadcast and seeing how everything went, both technically and on the call, as well. Wednesday is media day for the Texans so I’m attending that. But since I’m away from OU, most of my prep work for them comes online and reading different things. By Thursday I’m working on my charts and spotter boards for the upcoming games of the weekend. I’m usually leaving on Friday to get to the OU game and then turning around quickly to get to the Texans game.”
Trust me when I say the weather Saturday night for the Bedlam Game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State wasn’t pleasant. A frigid wind, that felt more like an arctic blast, made for a pretty brutal evening in Stillwater. But while both the OU and OSU radio crews were huddled in their respective enclosed press boxes, Vasquez and his color analyst, Luis Rendon, were in the open air TV booth where the elements were in full effect.
But that’s life on the road for Vasquez and Rendon. Since most stadiums can only accommodate the main broadcast teams, as well as a national radio crew that may be on hand, odd broadcasting locations is something of a norm.
“Our toughest location was at TCU last year,” said Vasquez. “We were behind the end zone sitting outside near the fans and just below the scoreboard. The photo decks aren’t bad, I’m kind of used to that now. They’re open and at least you have a location. Over the years, even at the NFL level, I started doing this in 1992 and that’s kind of always been the case. But as more broadcasts such as Spanish radio have become more prevalent, stadiums have been more accommodating.”
Not every set up is tough for Vasquez and Rendon. In fact, they’ll have one their best this weekend when Oklahoma takes on Baylor for the Big 12 Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. But no matter where the game is, they do serve as their own on-site engineers. Granted, they do have another team member that helps with social media content on the @LosSooners Twitter page, but it’s essentially a two-man show on the air every Saturday.
Locally, the OU Spanish broadcast can be heard on two signals across the state: El Patron 101.5 FM in Tulsa and Exitos 96.5 FM in Oklahoma City. It can also be heard via the TuneIn Radio app, where more and more listeners around the globe have started to listen to the broadcast.
“We’ve gotten a big following internationally with Mexico,” Vasquez said. “We’ve also gotten messages from people in Spain, really just all over the place. A lot of people have been able to find the broadcast. The OU brand is big, so that obviously helps, as well as having Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield and all the winning they’ve been doing recently. All of that has really helped our broadcast. In terms of the radio numbers in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, to be honest I haven’t seen the numbers of what the audiences is, but I’ve heard we’ve gotten a really good response.”
Though college and NFL teams in the southwest have had Spanish radio broadcasts for years, Oklahoma is in year number three with its new team. Seeing the audience the broadcast team has already created, it seems like a sure thing only more and more Spanish radio crews will find their way on the air.
That’s a good thing, and who knows, maybe Vasquez’s career as the Spanish voice for both an NFL team and college football blue blood could spark a new generation of Hispanic broadcasters.
TYLER MCCOMAS: How aware of college football is Hispanic community?
ENRIQUE VASQUEZ: I really think it’s growing. Football in general, the NFL has always been big, I think the Dallas Cowboys even had Spanish radio back in the late 1970s. They have been fans of football for a while now but getting used to the college thing, I think that’s a little bit new. I think the Texas Longhorns have been around for 25 years doing their Spanish radio. But I really think there’s a good following in northern Mexico for college football. It’s been that way for a long time.
TM: How passionate are they?
EV: I really think they’re getting there. Unless you get immersed in the traditions of it, and now that we’ve been going on for three years, I think that’s obviously going to help. Following the NFL and following football in general, the fans are there and now it’s just getting them acclimated to the OU brand.
TM: What play-by-play experience led to you being able to do this?
EV: I started in 1992 with the Houston Oilers. At the time I was a color commentator. In 1993 I did the play-by-play. From there I went to Fox Sports International and we broadcasted the NFL games to Mexico and Latin America. I got to do the Game of the Week for the NFL as well as Super Bowl 31 and 32. I did the Dallas Cowboys for a couple of years and then I joined the Houston Texans in 2002, where I still am today. When the opportunity came with OU, everything worked out with our schedules, seeing as I also do the Texans.
TM: Tell me about your color commentator.
EV: Luis Rendón is his name. He’s a graduate student at OU and he’s been working for Sooner Vision for a while. He’s from Venezuela. He’s become a big OU fan, so for him this is become relatively new. He wasn’t really a broadcaster but he was bilingual and worked at Sooner Vision, so this is new to him. But he works really hard at it and I think we make a really good team. It’s been a lot of fun working with them.
TM: Since it’s just you and Luis, how long of a pre and postgame show are you doing?
LV: Pregame show is 30 minutes and the postgame show is about 15 minutes. Plus, we’ll do stuff for social media after the game.
TM: How would you describe your broadcast style? What should someone that’s never listened to a Spanish broadcast before expect?
LV: I think my style is different from the typical Spanish football guy because I grew up here in the United States. The first broadcast in Spanish that I ever listened to was one that I was on. I grew up listening to the same guys as you did. The Vin Scully‘s, all the big names that called games when I was a kid, that’s what I listened to grown-up. But you do have to add in a Hispanic flavor to it. It’s just different. It’s not better or worse it’s just different. But we have fun with it. My style is more the American style with a little Hispanic flavor to it.
Dallas Cowboys: Proof That Marketing Works
“Good marketers can convince you their products are anything they want you to believe those products are.”
Why do people still hate the Dallas Cowboys? Give me a good football reason that the Cowboys are worth your time. I get that there was an era where if the NFL was Mortal Kombat, the Cowboys were Shang Tsung, but those days ended three decades ago.
It’s 2022. There are adults in their late 20s that have never seen a Cowboys’ championship. Since 2000, the franchise has been to the playoffs fewer times than the Falcons. They have won as many playoff games in that time as the Jaguars. At this point, hating the Cowboys is about as useless as hating Luxembourg.
So why do people still have such a deep-seated disdain for the star and the players that wear it? Why was a national celebration set of on Sunday when the Cowboys lost in the stupidest way imaginable?
The answer is pretty simple really: marketing.
Good marketers can convince you their products are anything they want you to believe those products are. Great marketers can get you to behave like those products are what they say they are even when you know that isn’t true.
Jerry Jones is a great marketer.
People tune in when the Cowboys play. Maybe a good chunk of those people are hate-watching, but they’re watching. That is why the team was on in primetime six times this season. Of those other eleven games, seven of them were called by either FOX’s or CBS’s top broadcast team.
ESPN completely rebuild and rebranded First Take around the idea that Stephen A. Smith doesn’t like the Dallas Cowboys. That is it. The whole promo package for the show was just Smith wearing a cowboy hat and chomping on a cigar and laughing.
Shouldn’t we be doing this to the Patriots? Afterall, in the time since the Cowboy’s last Super Bowl appearance, New England has gone to the game an astounding ten times and won six titles.
It’s easy to read that sentence and say “Well, Tom Brady isn’t there anymore. The Patriots aren’t what they used to be. It isn’t as much fun to hate them.”
Uh, dawg, who in Dallas has been worth hating since Troy Aikman retired? You know, like 22 years ago!
Jerry Jones isn’t the man that coined the phrase “America’s Team, ” so he didn’t set its initial meaning. What it became, by virtue of him leaning into the branding is something that forces you to react. Either you buy into the blue and the silver and the star and you’re with America’s team or you recoil at the branding and the goofiness of the whole aesthetic and want to watch it burn.
Notre Dame football could be doing this too. The problem is they do not have the great markerter out front pushing that slogan over and over again.
Even “how bout them Cowboys?” is a solid positioning statement. It’s easily repeatable in good times or bad. The genius of Jerry Jones embracing that statement and that clip of Jimmy Johnson shouting those four now-iconic words is that it is a question that always has an answer.
Fans can celebrate with “how bout them cowboys” when the team wins. Haters can say it facetiously when they are on a losing streak. Either way, you are saying it and the Dallas Cowboys are occupying a part of your brain.
Positioning statements work. That is why so many stations tag their imaging with the same phrase or sentence every single time. That is why so many stations are called The Fan or The Game or The Ticket.
Admittedly, sometimes we need to rethink how our listeners are receiving the message. If we are all going for homogeny, nothing can stand out. Maybe that is a reason to rethink what I jokingly call “sports radio’s magic hat of five acceptable station names”, but the larger point is that you want every message you put out to point to the brand image you are trying to portray.
Jerry Jones’s message to the NFL and the media is no matter who they root for, fans care about my team. His positioning statements reflect that. Whether you think they are great marketing or goofy corporate branding, they work. The proof is everywhere.
Three Sports Marketing Trends You Need To Know
“Sports marketing is evolving at an extremely rapid pace and you’d best know where your competition lies or where opportunity exists.”
#1 OTT’s RAPID EXPANSION
Pay TV lost more than 5 million customers in 2020 and that trend is going to continue and the number is going to increase. With nearly 30% more Americans cutting the cord in 2021 and almost 87% of adults 18-24 preferring the OTT option, you’d better dive in and understand just how fast video consumption is changing; especially in sports. Platforms like ESPN+, Amazon, Peacock, Paramount+ and Facebook are diving head first into the sports rights market so that they can deliver LIVE sports where Americans are consuming video. OTT provides that sniper riffle approach advertisers are looking for as they try to increase ROI and minimize waste.
#2 AI … DATA-DATA-DATA
Without a doubt artificial intelligence is changing the way marketers are deciding how to go to market with their messaging and their products and/or services. More data is available now than ever before and you’d better understand how your client is using it to help them make their buying decisions. Most large advertisers are not only using one, but multiple vendors and are trying to obtain as much data as they possibly can so they can better recognize trends and understand their consumers behaviors and buying patterns
#3 eSports is BOOMING
Video games aren’t just for fun and entertainment at home anymore. Gamers are now creating leagues, generating 6-figure endorsements and have multiple contests where they compete for HUGE cash and prizes. Marketers are actively looking for ways to take advantage of this meteoric rise in popularity of eSports and that includes product placement, team sponsorships, individual gamer(s) sponsorships and tournament sponsorships. If your station isn’t trying to create a sellable feature around eSports then you’re missing out on a huge and very sellable feature. There are over 234 million eSports enthusiasts world wide and that number is only going to continue to climb.
OTT, AI and eSports are rapidly changing the sports marketing landscape and these are trends that will only continue and grow over the next 5 years. Digitalization of just about everything is changing how, where, when and on what kind of devices sports fans are consuming content. Sports marketing is evolving at an extremely rapid pace and you’d best know where your competition lies or where opportunity exists.
Be the expert in the room when meeting with agencies and/or clients, it will set you apart from the pack. Understanding these rapidly evolving trends will help you have better and deeper dialog with your advertisers.
What Should Radio Be Thinking About On Martin Luther King Day?
“Shouldn’t we be doing more than just waiting for resumes with “black-sounding names” on top of them to come across our desks?”
Monday, January 17 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A lot of you will get the day off of work. Some of you will attend prayer services or civic events to honor the civil rights leader and his legacy.
Dr. King, like all humans, had his flaws but is undeniably a man worth celebrating. In a world where the divide between the powerful and the rest of us seems to be growing out of control, it is good to take a day to celebrate and think about a man that made a career out of speaking up for the little guy – whether that means black and brown people during the Civil Rights Era or it means workers in times of labor unrest.
Across the media landscape, we will see stations and networks running promos touting their “commitment to Dr. King’s dream!”. The sentiment is great, but I do wonder what it means to the people making those promos and the stations and networks airing them.
Look at the archives of this site. Think about the BSM Summits you have attended. How often have we been willing to shine a spotlight on the amount sports radio talks about embracing diversity versus actually putting plans into action? Jason has written and talked about it a lot. Every time, the message seems to circle back to him saying “I am giving you the data. You are telling me you recognize that this is a problem. Now do something about it.”
It’s something I found myself starting to think about a lot last year when Juneteenth became recognized as a federal holiday. Suddenly every brand was airing ads telling me how they have known how special this day is all along. And look, I hope that is true. It seems like if it was though, I would have been seeing those ads in plenty of Junes before 2021.
I am going to put my focus on the media because that is what we do here, but this can be said about a lot of companies. So many brands have done a great job of rolling out the yellow, black, red, and green promo package to acknowledge that it is Martin Luther King Jr Day or Black History Month or Juneteenth. I worry though that for so many, especially on the local level, that is where the acknowledgment ends.
That isn’t to say that those stations or brands actively do not want more minority representation inside their company. It just isn’t a subject for which they can say they have taken a lot of action.
Look, I am not here to debate the merits of affirmative action. I am saying in an industry like sports radio, where we thrive on fans being able to relate to the voices coming through their speakers, shouldn’t we be doing a better job of making sure minority personalities know that there is a place for them in this industry? Shouldn’t we be doing more than just waiting for resumes with “black-sounding names” on top of them to come across our desks?
WFAN went out and found Keith McPherson in the podcasting world to fill its opening at night after Steve Somers’s retirement. FOX Sports added RJ Young, who first made a name for himself on YouTube and writing books, to its college football coverage. 95.7 The Game found Daryle “Guru” Johnson in a contest. JR Jackson got on CBS Sports Radio’s radar thanks to his YouTube videos and when it came time for the network to find a late-night host, it plucked him from Atlanta’s V103, one of the best-known urban stations in America.
That’s two guys in major markets, another on national radio, and a third on national television. In all four cases, the companies that hired them didn’t just sit back and wait for a resume to come in.
Some of you will read this and dismiss me. After all, I am a fat, white Southern man. If I were a hacky comedian, I would say “the only four groups you are allowed to make fun of” and then yell “Gitterdone!”.
In reality, I point those things out because I know there is a large chunk of you that will call this whole column “white guilt” or “woke” or whatever your talking point is now.
Whether or not we are about the be a majority minority nation is up for debate, but here is a fact. America is getting darker. I look at the radio industry, one that is constantly worried about how it will be affected by new innovations in digital audio, and wonder how anyone can think doing things like we always have is going to work forever.
I’m not damning anyone or saying anybody should be losing their jobs. I don’t know most of you reading this well enough to make that judgment. What I am saying is that our industry has lived on the idea that this business is always changing and we have to be adaptable. I think it is time we do that, not just with the content we present on air, but in how we go about finding the right people to present it.
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