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Chris Broussard Is In The Moment & Focused On Sports

“You can really get out all of the points you want to. That’s what I really appreciate about radio.”

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It was during the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans that I gained a new level of respect for Chris Broussard. He flew to The Big Easy for the NBA weekend, but we had a show to do for FOX Sports Radio on the same Saturday evening as the Slam Dunk Contest and 3-Point Shootout. Instead of attending the events in person, Chris made arrangements to use a studio in town to knock out the show. I mentioned to Chris that he has clout and could’ve easily blown off the show by taking the night off. He responded, “Hey, you gotta go to work, right?”

Amen to that. Although Chris had firmly established himself in the sports media world, he didn’t forget about the ingredients that made him successful in the first place. His determination and work ethic have always been apparent. Beyond that, Chris is genuinely a great dude. He is easy to get along with and has many other great attributes: smart, funny, talented, and a winning attitude. That combination is rare. Overvaluing Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is one of the only things I can actually call out Chris for. Other than that, he checks every box you could want. Hear him on FSR’s The Odd Couple with Rob Parker weekdays from 4-7pm PT. Read about his career path and astute sports radio views below. Enjoy.

NBAPA All-Star Youth Summit: Real Talk

Brian Noe: What do you enjoy most about being in sports radio now that you’re a full-time host?

Chris Broussard: Unlike television you get more room to express your views. I’ve been doing TV for almost 20 years on a national level. TV is great. I love it, but you’re limited in how long you get to speak, particularly in my case when I’m typically a guest or an analyst. I don’t have my own television show so I’m not on for hours at a time.

When I’m on as a guest on shows, you only have so long to speak. Whereas on radio having my own show — our show now is three hours, when you and I did it, it was four hours — you get a lot longer to share what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling. You can really get out all of the points you want to. That’s what I really appreciate about radio.

BN: When you went full-time as a sports radio host did you find yourself listening to more sports radio, not to copy people, but to get a feel for other styles?  

CB: I had listened before I even started doing sports radio. I would listen to Colin a lot. I would listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning a lot, Stephen A Smith, just some of the better shows out there. You do pick up things when you’re in the business, but I haven’t consciously said I like that Colin Cowherd does this, so let me try to incorporate that. I’ve just been myself and I think that’s important.

Obviously you can learn things from different people. When I was a writer, I would read some of my favorite writers and study how they did different things and maybe try to incorporate it into my style and put my particular flavor on it. I’m not against that, but I have seen people try to copy something Colin does or something someone else does and it doesn’t work because it’s not natural.

I think the key to radio and television in the position that I’m in is being natural, being yourself, letting your own personality shine forth. Because you know, Brian, in this business there is a very big you-either-have-it-or-you-don’t factor. It’s not just technical. There are guys who are great technically; coming in and out of breaks they never make mistakes. All of that is perfect, but they may not have that it factor, that chemistry with the co-host, that energy on the air, that charisma, just something about their personality that people really are drawn to. I just try to be myself. Obviously Rob Parker and I have great chemistry. That really carries the day more so than trying to copy this guy or that guy.

BN: What do you love most about Rob and what drives you the crazy about him?  

CB: (Laughs) Rob really is a great guy. You know him. He is the epitome of a people person. He’s very unselfish. At Christmas he bought just about everybody at FOX Sports Radio a gift. He bought me a really nice gift, a painting of the two of us for our show. He’s just a really great guy. I love that he’s a mentor to so many people in the business and he’s really helped a lot of people get into the business. Just him as a person, he’s just a great guy overall.

Image result for chris broussard rob parker

There’s nothing I don’t like about him. His takes are crazy a lot of times. Sometimes they’re on point. He’s actually had a really good year in terms of his predictions. As with anybody — I’ve debated Skip Bayless, Nick Wright, Shannon Sharpe, Stephen A. Smith — and sometimes, which I’m sure is the case with me as well, you’re critical of a guy for various reasons, but then when there’s a guy that you support, you overlook those same criticisms. If Rob is critical of Tom Brady and he’ll say well Brady didn’t throw a touchdown in the Super Bowl last year so he doesn’t get credit. He got carried, but yet he’s very supportive of Aaron Rodgers. So when the Packers win without Aaron Rodgers throwing a touchdown, he praises Aaron. I point out those contradictions and we have fun with it. You can always find little things like that in different guys when they debate. It’s my job to point that out and I do.

BN: (Laughs) You don’t have a problem doing that, right?

CB: (Laughs) Right, but we have a lot of fun. I’ll tell you the thing is that some of Rob’s takes are so out there, or I disagree with them so adamantly, that it makes for really great radio. You just go back and forth over a topic and you really debate with each other. It’s a lot of fun.

BN: Yeah, and it fits the name of the show and how you promote it and all of that.

CB: Very much so. 

BN: If you start from the beginning — not just sports radio — how did you initially break into sports media and then work your way up?  

CB: Well, like a lot of people I grew up as a humongous sports fan. Sports were essentially my life. I played football, basketball, and baseball throughout high school. I played basketball in college and was always a gifted writer. As an elementary school student I was able to write really well. I enjoyed English class. I used to even write rhymes, like raps and stuff like that. I just really tried to combine something I enjoyed, which was sports, with something that I was gifted at, which was writing. That’s really how I decided that I wanted to try to be a sports writer.

I had a summer internship at the Cleveland Plain Dealer after my junior year of college, which really was my breakthrough. They hired me the following year after I graduated from college. For the first nine months to a year, I was just sitting in the office answering telephones. Then they taught me how to work the computers. Every newspaper has a record page where it has all the transactions, statistics, and the standings. I learned how to do that. I was in the office for nine months to a year just doing that stuff every day from 3pm to 12 midnight.

Then I got promoted. I was writing virtually every day covering high school sports. I covered high school sports for three or four years. I left the Cleveland Plain Dealer and went to the Akron Beacon Journal. It was a smaller paper. It was there that I got my break and started covering the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers. From there my career kind of took off.

About three years after going to the Beacon Journal, I went to the New York Times and I started covering the Nets and the Knicks. Being in New York I got exposure to television. I did a little local television. Then I started doing some ESPN TV while I was still with the New York Times. I started doing television more and more.

When I went to ESPN I went to write for ESPN: The Magazine. It was a magazine contract with the understanding that I would do some television. I did more and more television and less writing to the point that when I left ESPN, I was hardly doing any writing. I was basically all television. Now at FOX Sports, I’m all television and radio. I don’t do any writing whatsoever.

Image result for chris broussard 2019

BN: Do you miss the writing part of it?

CB: I think the best part about writing stories for ESPN: The Magazine was the time you got to spend with the athletes. When you write a magazine story on a player or a coach or whoever, you really spend a lot of time with them. Unlike newspapers, I would go and I would be with a guy for three days or longer. I went to Italy to do a story on Brandon Jennings when he was playing over there. I spent two weeks there and I was with him virtually every day, him and his family, eating dinner, hanging out. That time when you really get to know the athletes, that’s the best thing about it and that’s what I miss.

Also great trips, I got to go to Africa because of ESPN: The Magazine. I got to go to Europe. That travel and those experiences were great. That’s what you miss, but sitting down and actually writing a story, I don’t miss that. I was a perfectionist. Like a lot of writers I labored over every word. One of my colleagues, Tom Friend, at ESPN: The Magazine, I thought he put it perfectly. One time we were in a meeting and he said writing is painful. When you really take it seriously, writing is painful for a lot of us. That’s how I was. I really wanted to make everything great.

BN: Do you think the lack of diversity in sports radio is a problem?

CB: Yeah, I do think television has a solid amount of diversity though. You’ve got Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman with Molly Qerim as the host. So there is diversity there. You’ve got Shannon Sharpe, Skip Bayless, and Jenny Taft as the host. Wilbon and Kornheiser. Most of the sports talk television shows that we can think of — Speak For Yourself with Jason Whitlock and Marcellus Wiley, you’ve got Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre on High Noon — you can point to diversity on sports television. I think in front of the camera, television wise, the diversity is pretty good based on what I see on the national level.

Now locally it may not be where it needs to be. I’m not sure of that. I think behind the scenes you need to get more diversity. The people making some of the decisions, producers and things like that. I think television just from what I see is far ahead of radio. I don’t think there is nearly enough diversity in sports radio. Rob and I — and I may be wrong so I’m not going to say this definitively — but we may be the only two African-American hosts to have a national radio show.

I know there were the 2 Live Stews in Atlanta years ago, but they weren’t really a national show. It was more so local in Atlanta. I don’t know, again I may be missing someone, but I don’t know that there’s been two African-American co-hosts on a national radio show other than myself and Rob. I don’t think there are two that weren’t athletes. There may be one who was a broadcaster and one who is an ex-athlete. It shows you that there is not nearly enough diversity in radio.

I think in radio you do need more diversity because obviously the sports themselves are very diverse. Beyond that though the audiences are diverse. If you only have one group represented in radio or television, then you’re really only getting that one group’s perspective. For those reasons and even more I think it’s definitely important to have diversity.

BN: Do you approach your show thinking, hey man I’ve got to do a good job and bring it because I want the door to be open for the next black broadcaster? Is that ever on your mind? 

CB: I wouldn’t say it’s on your mind like that. Obviously you recognize as an African American that if you do well that opens up the door for other African Americans to follow you. In that regard you’re conscious of it. It could be also some motivation that unfortunately people may be judging black people as a whole on how well Rob and I do. That can lead you to be a little extra motivated to do well, but certainly when you’re on the air you’re not thinking about that because you just have be in the moment and be focused on the sports.

To be honest you’re going to do your best when you’re just focused on what’s going on right then and there. We obviously appreciate and certainly want to reach the African American audience, but we want to reach everybody. We seem to have a very wide range of diverse listeners from white, to black, to Hispanic, various races and ethnicities. Even sometimes we get calls from women so I’m sure we have a decent number of women listening. While we are cognizant of that we certainly want to reach everybody and not just one racial group.

BN: If you were able to map out what you’ll be involved in professionally over the next five or 10 years, what do you think would make you the happiest? 

CB: I would want a television show whether it was like The Odd Couple being simulcast or being put on television, or it was another show that I became a host of or a co-host of. It’s not going to kill me if I don’t get it. I’ve had a successful career. I’m doing well now. I’m happy and content with where I’m at. As far as the next step that I would like to get to, that would be it.

I would love for The Odd Couple to be treated like The Herd where it was a radio show on television. I would prefer that to doing The Odd Couple as a TV show and still doing it as a radio show. I would take that, don’t get me wrong, but I would prefer it be all in one kind of like The Herd is. Whether or not that happens who knows? But that would be ideal as the next step.

BN: When you wake up, what motivates you to do a great show? Is it that you just simply want to do a great show, or are you a competitive person where you want to prove people wrong who look at you only as a reporter or writer? How are you wired in terms of why you prepare to do good work?

CB: That’s a good question. You have your personal pride where you just want to do well. Doing well is obviously having the right information, having strong points and opinions that you can back up, and being entertaining. When you’re doing what you’re meant to do, I don’t believe you think about it too much. I think you just do it because if you’re thinking too much about it, it may not be what you’re meant to do.

Think about the great athletes, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Drew Brees or whoever it may be and how they can perform at their best when millions of people are watching and ready criticize them if they don’t do well. Just how you can keep your cool, how you can treat it like every other game in that situation. I think it’s because they’re meant to do that. You and I are looking at it like this is the biggest game of the year, and they’re looking at it like, man this is what I do. That’s kind of how it is with me.

I used to say this when I’d go speak to kids at colleges or wherever, when I wrote for the New York Times my average game story was about 900 words. If you had told me in college that this is what I was going to be doing, and it’s for the New York Times, and it’s going to be all over the country — because at that time before the internet was big, seeing your story in the airports all over the country was a huge deal — if you had told me I was going to do that, I may have said wow, there’s no way I’m doing that.

The pressure and the big games — I wrote about Michael Jordan’s last game. I was there at his first game as a Washington Wizard. I was at LeBron’s first game in the NBA. I wrote about that. If you had told me those things, I might have been like man, I don’t know that I can do that. But when I got in those situations you just do it. Fortunately I was able to do it well. I think when you’re doing what you’re meant to do; you don’t have to overthink it.

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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