Over the course of 20 plus years in morning radio I was fired three times, faked suicidal depression once to get out of a long term no cut deal, and finally at the end I walked away on my own terms. Somewhere along the journey I read that you’re not truly considered a professional until you’ve been fired 3 times. So apparently I am now an expert at what to do once it’s happened.
Now before you ask yourself ‘why should I listen to this guy who got fired so many times’ let me qualify it by pointing out that all three times I was “dislocated” while in the top 5 of the ratings. Twice I was dismissed because they thought syndication would answer their money woes. Ironically both of those heritage stations no longer exist. The third time I was fired I can only shorten the story enough to say that management didn’t have the balls to clean up the bloody mess they created and although my annual reviews were glowing I got axed.
So there I was again wondering what the hell am I going to do next? Staying positive through a “dislocation” is not a silly overused cliche but instead an absolute necessity for a successful outcome. Our human nature is to be hateful and to lash out and be angry and vindictive but that type of behavior does you no good in the process of trying to figure out how to pay the bills and not lose your entire life savings. So give yourself a weekend or a week to mourn and go through the emotions with a reminder in your calendar that on said day at said time those feelings are no longer allowed or accepted out of your mouth or in your head.
It’s important to implement a way to channel that energy out of your body. Go for walks twice a day. Hit the gym. Go for a bike ride. Do some yoga or meditation. Read some fiction. Whatever it is that you consider ‘your thing’, make sure you do it everyday from this point forward, because you finally have the time to put yourself first.
Next you need to assess the financial damage. How much is in the bank and how many more paychecks will you get? What are your monthly bills and what frivolous shit can you immediately cancel? Car lease? Cable? Subscriptions? Then log on to your states unemployment website and immediately find out the requirements and what you can expect to receive so that you can start creating a budget to see what you can actually afford.
For those of you that own homes, how long can you safely afford to keep it? The longest I was ever unemployed was a year and a half. Think about that. During that time I paid out almost $50,000 in mortgage payments on a house I ended up having to short sell. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve put it up for sale immediately and downsized into something that would’ve lightened the financial burden. The problem is this thing we all have called the ego. It will tell you that you’re going to find work quickly and that you’ve worked too hard to give it all up.
Well, the ego is like a mirage in the desert. You better learn to control it now before you end up filing for bankruptcy. Point is to put together a plan that will keep your lights on and food on the table for a year minimum.
The next thing you need to do is look for two different jobs. One in the industry you want to be in, in this case radio. The second is the one that you can land right away to keep the money coming in. This is where the battle of ego comes into play because never in a million years did you see yourself working at Home Depot or Kohl’s but guess what? You’re an adult with adult responsibilities like kids and pets and health insurance.
My suggestion is to use your former radio station to help you land a job. Hopefully you cultivated relationships with your station’s clients who you’re now going to reach out to and share your story with. That manager at the Harley Dealership or the Irish bar where you did you last remote could be happy to help you out. Heck put it on social media that you’re looking for a gig. If you established a connection with any of the stations fans, they too could step up to help. The bigger question is ‘will you be able to get past your ego?’ Please do because it’s important to keep money coming in but equally important to keep yourself busy.
Next it’s time to start networking and marketing yourself to the world. You know what they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression. The first thing you need to do is create a “branding package” filled with your best audio, pictures, resume and references. This is going to cost both time and money but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to showcase your talent and experience. It has to be better than good and it has to be creative, different and memorable. There are a lot of people out there competing for the few jobs that are left. One way to not waste your time and money is to bring a few friends or former co-workers into the creative process and get their input on what your best stuff is and what makes you special.
Now that the brand package is done it’s time to get it out both digitally and tangibly. Yes that means actually licking envelopes and sending things out via snail mail. Why? Because with the USPS there is no spam or junk mail folder for your stuff to end up in. You should be sending your stuff to consultants, brand managers, program directors, general managers, format captains and agents but don’t rely on that to get you a job. You should be looking for any and all opportunities to meet these people first hand and there are many industry conventions that happen where you can. The BSM Summit, Conclave, CRS, and WWRS are just a few that come to mind. It is truly an investment in your future and if you’re not doing it just know that somebody else is and they will most likely get looked at first.
Finally, remember that it’s not always about who’s the best candidate for the job. The radio industry is small and friends like to work with and help out friends. So touch base with your friends in other markets to poke around and see if something might be opening up or if they can recommend you for something. Plant as many seeds as you can all over the country and eventually one of them will take root as long as you stay positive and patient.
If you’ve had enough of the business and choose to throw in the towel I get it. This career isn’t for everyone. That just means it’s time for a different path and some reflection on how you can use the talents that God gave you in another way.
Rider is now a busy promo and commercial voice working daily with NBC sports NHL and Supercross, CBS sports Monday QB and 4 Sides of the story, Fox Sports North/Wisconsin, the PBR tour, Tampa Bay Lightning & Texas Rangers as well as voicing WAAF Boston, ESPN 630 Washington D.C, the Shark Miami and many others. Listen to his stuff at www.ridervo.com and to book please contact Nate Zeitz at NZeitz@cesdtalent.com
Grant Cohn’s Trolling of Players is Unacceptable
After an altercation between Javon Kinlaw of the San Francisco 49ers and Grant Cohn, it became clear that Kinlaw was being trolled by a member of the media.
Grant Cohn is a media member who writes for the FanNation 49ers blog on SI.com. He also talks about the team on his YouTube channel, which has over 48,000 subscribers as of noon Thursday. His father, Lowell, was a longtime columnist in the Bay Area.
Javon Kinlaw is a defensive lineman, whom the San Francisco 49ers drafted in the first round despite concerns about the durability of his knee. He played four games last season, his second in the league.
The two were involved in two confrontations this week. The first one occurred off to the side of the 49ers’ practice field. Kinlaw apparently cursed at Cohn and knocked his hat from atop his head. Later in the day, Kinlaw again swore at Cohn, this time after joining a live stream on Cohn’s YouTube channel. (Side note: I have never felt so freaking old as I did while typing that previous sentence.)
OK. That’s my attempt at an absolutely straightforward and objective summary of a situation that scares the hell out of me. Not because a player was mad at a member of the media. I’ve had it happen to me and I’ve seen it happen to others. It’s my opinion that this has been happening for as long as human beings have scrutinized the athletic efforts of other human beings.
What scared me was that I was seeing some version of the future of sports media. A future in which media members behaved like YouTube trolls, acting purposely ridiculous or antagonistic to initiate conflicts that could be turned into more conflicts that would could be gleefully recounted as content for the audience. I thought that because that’s pretty much what Cohn did:https://youtu.be/4Hf9sjBttFY
Cohn essentially bragged about the number of different things he said that may have prompted Kinlaw’s reaction, and you know what? It worked. Kinlaw got mad. He confronted Cohn. Twice. TMZ published a story about it. So did SFGate.com.
This is troll behavior. You know, the online pests who say or do something intended to provoke a reaction, and once they get that reaction, they recount and scrutinize that reaction with an eye toward triggering another reaction. Lather, rinse repeat. Increasingly, entire online media ecosystems consist of nothing more than people who don’t like each other talking about how much they don’t like one another.
I’m not going to pretend this is entirely new in sports media. Sports columnists have been known to make reputations with their willingness to be critical of the home team. A huge part of Skip Bayless’ brand is his unwavering insistence on highlighting Lebron James’ perceived flaws. Stephen A. Smith has engaged in public feuds with players, namely Kevin Durant.
I do see a difference between this and what Cohn did, though. The reaction Bayless and Smith are primarily concerned with is from their audience, not their subjects. The subjects may get mad, but that’s not the primary goal. At least I hope it’s not.
What happens if that is the primary goal? What if someone is offering opinions not because it’s what they really think, but because they want to provoke a response from the subject? Media careers have been built on less.
I don’t know if that’s the case with Cohn. I’ve never talked to him in my life, and even if I had, it’s impossible to know someone’s true intent. But in listening to everything he said AFTER the initial confrontation with Kinlaw, I’m not willing to assume that Cohn was operating in good faith. Here’s how Cohn described the initial confrontation with Kinlaw, which occurred as practice was beginning.
“In the training room, I saw Javon Kinlaw, who is the king of the training room,” Cohn said. “He’s usually in the training room.”
Cohn said the two locked eyes, but were separated by about 70 yards at the time. Kinlaw then walked across the field to where the reporters were gathered. He stood directly behind Cohn.
“So I turn, and I say, ‘Wassup, Mook Dawg?’ “ Cohn said, referencing the nickname on Kinlaw’s Instagram account. “And he doesn’t say anything. And I say, ‘Why are you looking at me like that, Javon?’ “
“And then he said, ‘What are you going to do about it you bitch-ass,’ and then he said one more word that I can’t say,” Cohn said. “And then I turned to face him, and I said, ‘Oh, it’s like that?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, it’s like that.’ And then he knocked the hat off my head.”
OK. Pause. In my experience, when your job is to publicly describe and critique the performance and attitudes of professional athletes, there will be times in which the athletes do not care for your description or your critique. Some of those who are displeased will make their objections known to you.
However, there are two things that are unusual here: First, the fact Kinlaw knocked the hat off Cohn’s head, which is unacceptable. Second, Cohn then posted a video on YouTube to not only talk about what had happened, but state he had been so critical of Kinlaw for so long he wasn’t sure what specifically sparked Kinlaw’s anger.
“Javon, what are you upset about?” Cohn asked toward the end of his video. “Is it the fact that I said you have an 80-year-old knee? Is it the fact that I said that you’re a terrible pass rusher and you’re just a two-down player? Is it the fact that I said the Niners shouldn’t have drafted you and should have taken Tristan Wirfs instead. Is it the fact that I said that you’re unprofessional and immature.
“It escapes me, which of the hundred negative things I’ve said about Javon Kinlaw the last couple of years, moved him to approach me in such a way, but you know what, I applaud Javon Kinlaw for coming to speak to me directly, and I ask you, what do you think Javon Kinlaw is mad about.”
Cohn was trolling Kinlaw. No other word for it.
That night, Cohn was conducting a live stream on YouTube, which Kinlaw joined, while apparently eating dinner, to make declarative statements about the size of Cohn’s genitalia — among other things.
Neither one looked particularly impressive. Not Kinlaw, who was profane and combative with a member of the media, at one point making a not-so-subtle threat. Not Cohn, who asked Kinlaw, “Do you think I’m scared of you, Javon?” He also said, “I don’t even know why you’re mad, Javon.”
I think Kinlaw would have been better off ignoring Cohn. If I was Kinlaw’s employer, I would probably prefer he not log into video livestreams to make testicular comparisons. But honestly, I don’t care about what Kinlaw did. At all. He’s not on a team I root for. He didn’t physically harm anyone. He used some bad words in public.
I am bothered not just by Cohn’s actions, but by some of the reactions to them because of what I think this type of behavior will do to an industry I have worked in for 25 years. Credentialed media members who behave like Cohn did this week make it harder for other media members who are acting in good faith. Preserving access for people like him diminishes what that access will provide for those who aren’t trying to use criticism to create conflict that will become content.
I think Cohn knew what he was doing. In his livestream, before Kinlaw joined, Cohn stated he was not scared because he knew — by virtue of his father’s history in the business — that if Kinlaw had touched him he would potentially be entitled monetary compensation.
By now, it should be pretty apparent how problematic this whole thing is and yet on Thursday, a number of 49ers fans online were sticking up for Cohn as just doing his job. Dieter Kurtenbach, a Bay Area columnist, Tweeted: “Javon Kinlaw does not know that @GrantCohn was built for this.” Built for what? Winning Internet fights? Kurtenbach also deleted a Tweet in which he called Kinlaw “soft.”
Cohn’s father, Lowell, is a former columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle and Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. He promoted the first video his son made on Tuesday:
Sorry, I don’t find it funny because it’s another step down a path in which media members seek reactions at the expense of information. Where they look to make fun of players instead of learning about them. They’ll stop acting like journalists and start acting like the trolls who make their money by instigating a conflict, which they then film: “Jake Paul, reporting live from 49ers practice …”
If that’s the case, thank God I’m about to age out of this business, entirely. I’m 47 years old and I can’t believe there’s anyone in our industry who thinks what Cohn did this week is acceptable.
Media Noise – Episode 75
A new episode of Media Noise is all about reaction. Demetri reacts to the ManningCast’s big win at the Sports Emmys. Danny O’Neil reacts to people reacting to Colin Kaepernick’s workout in Las Vegas and Andy Masur reacts to John Skipper’s comments about Charles Barkley.
Bron Heussenstamm Blends Bleav Podcasts Advertising with SiriusXM
Bron Heussenstamm, the CEO of the Bleav Podcast Network says blending podcasting advertising with satellite radio’s reach is a victory for both sides.
Last week, the Bleav (pronounced believe) Podcast Network announced a deal with SiriusXM to make all 32 NFL team-specific Bleav pods available on the SXM app. SXM can also air Bleav content on any of its sports channels. Each NFL Bleav show pairs a former player with a host to discuss team issues. Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, and Pac-Man Jones are amongst the former players Bleav has signed as talent.
I have hosted a Bleav podcast about Boise State football -the Kingdom of POD. I am usually provided 1-3 advertisers per episode by the network and get paid by the download. My subject matter is regional, so my take-home pay is usually under four figures. I have enjoyed the technical assistance and cross-promotion I receive and I enjoyed meeting Bleav CEO Bron Heussenstamm. Bron is Los Angeles-based, a USC graduate, and founded Bleav in 2018. We discussed the SXM deal, podcast advertising, and the future.
Will the podcast advertisers be carried on the SXM distribution platform?
Yes, Bleav baked-in advertisements and hosts read ads are distributed across all platforms. This enables the host to do their show once through, making it as easy as possible for the hosts and consistent for the advertisers.
How is advertising on Bleav different?
We want to be more than a ‘host read ad’ or a ‘digital insert’ with our advertising partners. When companies work with Bleav shows and talent, those companies can receive our omnichannel of distribution points—podcast platforms, YouTube, socials, streamers, TV, radio, and more. This allows for consistent branding across all platforms: great talent presenting great companies to fans and consumers no matter where they consume content.
What is the growth pattern for podcasts that you see?
The industry trades have presented 400%-800% percent growth over the next ten years. Once the COVID fog lifted, we really saw these gains. Sports are always going to be at the forefront of culture. The increases in all sports sectors have certainly carried into the digital space.
SXM has started with NFL shows but can also air more Bleav content – what does that look like?
We’ve started with our NFL network of 32 team shows hosted by a former player. We’ve kept the door open for our NCAAB, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, Basketball, and Soccer networks. We’re happy for our hosts to be part of such a tremendous company and platform. SiriusXM can continue to amplify its voice and give fans the access and insight only a player can provide.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau-IAB- says podcast revenue grew 72% last year to $1.4B and is expected to grow to $2B this year and double to $4B by 2024. Have you seen similar growth? What is driving the industry now, and what will be the primary cause of growth by 2024?
There is a myriad of reasons for the growth. I‘ll lean into a couple.
At Bleav, we launch and maximize the digital arm of industry leaders. The technology upgrades to allow hosts to have a world-class show — simulcast in both audio and video – from their home has led to an explosion of content. With this, the level of content creators has risen. Having a YouTube, RSS feed, podcast, and more is now part of the brand, right alongside Twitter and Instagram.
If a company wants to advertise on Bleav in Chargers, we know exactly how many people heard Lorenzo Neal endorse their product. We can also safely assume they like the Chargers. The tracking of demo specifics for companies is huge. It’s a fantastic medium to present products to the right fans and consumers.