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Tye Richardson Is Ready For National Signing Day

“For player comparisons and analysis, we’ll defer to those people who actually cover recruiting. I’d rather use their words and tell people what they think, rather than me, who’s only watched one of their games.”

Tyler McComas

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Every host in a college football market is taking a deep breath today. Yeah, that’s right, for one day and one day only, you’re probably about to fill an entire show with coverage of National Signing Day. 

If you’re a host that doesn’t regularly follow college football recruiting, this is probably one of your least favorite shows of the year. However, it’s still a necessary evil, seeing as the true diehard fans absolutely eat up coverage such as this. But whether you love or hate this day, here’s five helpful tips to ensure you provide an entertaining National Signing Day show. Let’s discuss with Tye Richardson, co-host of Halftime on ESPN Arkansas. 

Should you have recruits on the show? 

“Typically, one out of every 10 is a good interview,” said Richardson. “They’re just not used to it, they’re not adequate on air and they’re just not used to being under the microscope and being under the pressure to do an on-air interview. Even if it’s only like 10 minutes, we’ve had to cut some kids off at that point. That’s not just Arkansas commits, that’s across-the-board with high school kids trying to interview on the first or second radio spot. It just doesn’t usually make for great radio, having a high school kid on, even though the listener wants to hear what they have to say.”

I have to agree on all those points. Plus, if you’re interviewing several kids throughout your show, your questions will probably sound repetitive. There’s nothing wrong with letting your listeners hear from the newest signees, but instead of having a kid on for 8-10 minutes, what about a pre-recorded interview where you can pick the best 1-2 minutes? 

“I know Jason Barrett always talks about, if the interview is bad, cut it off,” said Richardson. “The mindset you’re taking, which I kind of like, you pre-record it and if there’s a good bit or two you use it on the air. If not, you just put it on SoundCloud and let people listen to it that way. The last thing you want is to force someone to turn you off because of how bad an interview is or how boring the segment is. Unfortunately for some of these high school kids during the first interview, it tends to go that way.”

How honest can you be about a recruiting class?

Every coach in America will approach the podium and say, “we absolutely love our class. It’s one of the most complete we’ve had. We filled every position need we have this offseason.” That quote is undefeated when it comes to coaches on National Signing Day. But in reality, that’s rarely true when you’re evaluating how good a class actually is. So how honest should you be if the team you’re covering had a sub-par recruiting effort?

“I try to be as honest as possible,” said Richardson. “I got a lot of flak for questioning the Sam Pittman hire and being skeptical about it. You just can’t gloss over this, man. You’re trying to rebuild a program that’s gone 2-10 in the last two years and 8-28 in the last 36 ball games. Plus, your recruiting class is going to end up as the worst in the SEC. That doesn’t bode well. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I’m going to be honest. That’s going to tick some people off, because they want to be positive, because there’s a new coach. But I’m just going to be upfront.”

Honesty is still appreciated by the listener. If it’s a bad class, it’s perfectly ok to say that. Being critical of college athletes can rub some people the wrong way, especially ones that haven’t even stepped on campus, but if you feel like you have to be critical, be creative in the way you do it. Don’t single out the individual player, he’s not the one who offered himself a scholarship. 

So you really don’t know much about recruiting. Do you fake it? 

It really is ok if you don’t religiously follow recruiting. It’s not an easy thing to do. Granted, if you’re covering a college football team, you should at least have enough baseline knowledge to do a show. But if you’re not the expert, find someone who is. 

“We’ll have Nikki Chavanelle on today, she does recruiting for the Rivals Arkansas site and we’ll have her on to go more in-depth with this class,” said Richardson. Phil Elson (Richardson’s co-host) and I aren’t as in-depth on recruiting because it’s a 24-7 job. I really don’t want to sound like an idiot and try to project someone that I’ve either never seen or only seen one time. For player comparisons and analysis, we’ll defer to those people who actually cover recruiting. I’d rather use their words and tell people what they think, rather than me, who’s only watched one of their games.”

Should your recruiting coverage extend to local kids in the area?

If you’re hosting in a college football market, it’s likely there’s an appetite in the area for high school football, too. Sure, spend the majority of your time hammering down on the recruiting class for the team you cover, but it’s also ok to spend a few moments to discuss area kids and who they signed with. 

“We’ll touch on some of the kids that are planning on going elsewhere but not necessarily the ones who are headed to the FCS level or lower. For example, Jacolby Criswell is currently a North Carolina commit and all signs point to him signing with the Tar Heels. He grew up an Arkansas Fan and his half-brother was Dre Greenlaw, who played linebacker for the Hogs. But Chad Morris and his staff didn’t make Jacolby a priority and Mack Brown did. So he’s going out of state. Robert Scott is an offensive lineman at Conway that Arkansas is probably going to lose to Ole Miss, which is a big loss. So there are a couple of big-time recruits that are potentially leaving the state. We’ll focus more on them than other kids that might be going to smaller schools.”

Can National Signing Day be entertaining on the air? 

It’s not going to be a hit with all of your listeners, but as previously stated, the diehard fans will come for recruiting info. In fact, they’ll expect it. Give them the info they crave. 

Be creative in the way you cover National Signing Day. If the team’s biggest rival is having a great day, talk about it. If the team’s biggest rival is having a terrible day, talk about it. Have the head coach on the show and use NSD as an excuse to ask about some of the more pressing issues going on with the team. 

*Why can’t the Big 12 sign high-level defensive talent?

*Are Clemson and Alabama only going to widen their gap on the rest of the field with the classes they put together?

*Should Clay Helton have been fired solely for having one of the worst recruiting classes in USC history?

There’s actually a lot of ways to cover and make National Signing Day interesting without discussing the height, weight and 40-yard dash time of a kid you’ve never seen play.

“I mean I like it,” said Richardson. “I don’t know if you’ve ever had a chance to interview Bill King out of Nashville, but this is what he used to do on the regular. He had a show dedicated to just recruiting. People used to pay just to listen to his voicemails, I mean people love this. Arkansas fans are like every other passionate fan base, they eat this stuff up. There’s always going to be the average fan that doesn’t care as much, but the diehard is always going to pay a little bit more attention. I enjoy it but this recruiting class is just not exciting. If this was a similar class to last year, where it was Top 25 and people are blown away by how Arkansas got these kids in, then I think there’d be a little bit more excitement surrounding it.”

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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