I was at a party with my wife on New Year’s Eve. It was hosted by friends of hers. It was attended entirely by friends of hers. I was polite and friendly. I introduced myself to people, shook a few hands, made some small talk, and then found a comfortable spot on the couch for a while.
While my wife mingled and shared jokes with friends, I scrolled through Twitter. It was the last day of the decade and I am sure, just like you, I was bombarded by all the people sharing stories of how they progressed professionally from the last day of 2009 until now. Everyone followed a similar format: things were uncertain, it was scary, now things are great, the end!
Did your decade go like that? Mine definitely did not. Reading one performative bullshit post after another was really triggering my depression. I know I wasn’t the only one that struggled this decade, so I wrote a little Twitter thread of my own.
Maybe your struggles came near the end of the decade. Maybe you ended the decade staring uncertainty or unemployment in the face and 2020 is the year you want that to change. That’s good. Let me help you.
There are a few things I have learned in my time working with Barrett Sports Media about job searches. I have participated in them on both sides, and I want to share with you three tips that can help. These won’t guarantee you a new job, but I have found they can open a few more doors and save your sanity a little bit.
1. HAVE A GOAL AND A PLAN
We have all been in that spot in a job search. Any job in the sports radio industry that pops up on this site, All Access, or anywhere else seems like a dream job. After all, we just want to be back in the industry. We don’t care how.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that makes you more attractive. This is a small business. People? It’s a decision you have to make before you start sending out audio and résumés.
Maybe you also need to think about geography and living situations. Are their places you or a spouse know you absolutely do not want to be? You need to have those conversations and make those decisions. It will save your sanity.
Finally, make a decision about how you are going to market yourself. Talk to your circle and figure out who would make the best references. Do you need letters of recommendation? How many? Think about what your packet (digital or physical) should look like before it is time to start sending emails.
2. WORK YOUR NETWORK
Let friends and allies know you’re looking for work. Again, this is a small business and people talk. You never know who your friends know. There are two things you need to remember though to keep the folks on your side on your side.
First, be respectful of people’s time. Don’t make a phone call when a text or an email would suffice. No one is going to advocate for you like you will, so it makes sense that you want to keep your foot on the gas. Just be careful that your persistence doesn’t crossover into annoyance.
Next, understand the situations of the people you are reaching out to for help. Maybe they aren’t unemployed, but maybe they are searching for a new opportunity themselves. Are those people really going to be the best asset for you? Maybe they are willing to invest in good karma and make a phone call or send an email on your behalf in hopes that you can do the same for them, but just know that isn’t going to be their top priority right now, so have a backup plan for pursuing whatever job opening it is you think they can help you with.
3. BE WILLING TO INVEST IN YOURSELF
It can be a shitty reality in this country that when you are unemployed and have no money coming in, you need to spend some money to get on hiring managers’ radars. That isn’t always true, but in the cases that it is , you need to prioritize and be smart.
Do you have the money to invest in a Comrex or some other piece of mobile broadcasting equipment? They are expensive (around $5000), but used units can be found on eBay and various industry marketplaces online. If I have learned anything about fill-in work over the last few years, it is that a lot of PDs prioritize availability over ideal fit. If you can make yourself always available, it is worth it.
Can you pay to travel a little bit? Expand what fill-in and networking opportunities exist for you by being willing to drive. It gets you in front of more eyes and ears than just the ones in your market that already know your voice and name.
Finally, and this is where we tie tip 1 into tip 3, have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. If this industry requires you to invest in yourself for a job search, save some money by knowing what types of positions wouldn’t be fulfilling and avoid investing both funds and time in them.
I hope this is the year we all find that dream situation we’re seeking. Job searches are a nerve-wracking process. Again, following these tips don’t guarantee you will find new, more fulfilling work in the new year. They are meant to manage your mental health and put you in a better position to succeed.
Happy new year and good luck to us all!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
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.