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Content Grab Bag: Who Does Nick Kayal Want To Talk To?

“Life and death, medical supplies, the stock market, and small businesses. Everything seems to be on the table and fair game during this global pandemic.”

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Good hosts and shows aren’t struggling for content right now, but who knows how long it will be before we get live sports again? Sure, the NFL Draft is coming up, but do you know what you’re going to do once the stories generated by that event have run their course? Hell, we’ll have been without sports for nearly a month and a half at that point.

We’re all in this together, right? That’s why Barrett Sports Media is creating a content grab bag and we’re asking everyone to pitch in.

Got an idea that can help someone else? Do you have a perfect bit in mind, but maybe your situation has changed and now you have nowhere to pull it off? Don’t let it go to waste! If you want to contribute, reach out to Demetri Ravanos on Twitter.

The latest contribution comes from Nick Kayal, the former morning man at 102.5 the Game in Nashville. He isn’t sharing a new, groundbreaking bit today. Nick is making sure you’re thinking about all the different avenues you can go down for interviews now that there is nothing pressing that has to be talked about.

Nick Kayal's 2018 College Football Predictions | The Game Nashville

It is April 17, 2020 and sports talk radio hosts around the country don’t have the option to “stick to sports.” As the sports world has come to a screeching halt, due to Covid-19, sports talk radio personalities are forced to provide compelling content almost any way they can.

Sure, you can still talk NFL. You can give your takes on the upcoming NFL Draft, talk about prospects, positions of need or read countless mock drafts, but that only fills your show with so much content. 

Now, more than ever, sports hosts are not only delving into entertainment to get through a program, but they are talking about social and political issues that stem from the Corona virus and the impact it is having globally.

Life and death, medical supplies, the stock market, and small businesses. Everything seems to be on the table and fair game during this global pandemic. 

But what if you could talk sports with non-sports people? Or what if you could talk politics and social issues with sports people? Specifically, what if I told you that you had your choice of selecting 3 figures from the sporting world, and you could gather together (6-feet apart, of course) and talk about the implications of Covid-19 on the world as we know it but not address the sports impact? Who would you find to be the most compelling and engaging speakers? And how about sitting down with 3 non-sports figures and talking nothing but sports? Who would you choose? 

I’ll start the conversation for Barrett Sports Media and let you guys & gals react off of my list and create your own as well. 

3-sports figures to talk non-sports with

1. Charles Barkley

I find Chuck to be one of the most authentic, raw and real sports figures of all-time. Forget his playing days, I’m speaking specifically on his ability to talk about anything in life. Sir Charles, at times, couldn’t care less about talking hoops, but is never shy or short of an opinion on things going on with society.

Charles Barkley self-quarantining while awaiting coronavirus test ...

Barkley would be a fantastic guy to sit down with and talk about race relations, politics, finances and almost anything else. You may not agree with him, you may think he’s uneducated on certain topics and just shoots from the hip but that’s what would make it so interesting. Charles is easily number 1 on my list.

2. Nick Saban

I think Saban would be compelling from the standpoint of how things materalize and go from it’s infancy to the best of the best. It’s what he calls “The Process.” Nick Saban has always been a guy who takes on a challenge, elevates a team, and then moves on to another task (for the most part.) He did it at Michigan State, LSU and now Alabama.

Alabama's Nick Saban 'going back to the well' with latest coaching ...

I’d love to pick his brain on how he would go about handling different life issues. Not necessarily the specifics, even though he’s uber-detail oriented, but how the the process would play out. Where do you begin? How do you get the end result you’re seeking? How do you stay in the moment? I’m pretty sure Saban could give you a blueprint on how to create a gameplan for almost any avenue of life.

3. Clay Travis

I think the thing that seperates Clay from the rest of the national sports talkers is his ability to talk about politics, business and media and be bold without having to yell and scream and be brash by going overboard. Clay uses his legal background, logic and data to draw conclusions that ruffle peoples feathers but reamins authentic and entertainting in his presentation.

Clay Travis | Fox Sports PressPass

To be honest, when I think of Clay I think of his battle vs ESPN, his opinions on the POTUS, Kaepernick and gambling more than I do anything sports specific related. And that’s not a shot at him, that’s a compliment. He could clearly branch away from sports someday and go full steam ahead in news or political talk and be just as successful. It’s these reasons listed above as to why he’s on my list of 3. 

3-non sports figures to talk sports with

1. Donald Trump

I’m not here to judge the President on his political career, nor am I here to discuss his personal life. Here is what I know about Donald Trump: he loves sports, he loves to play golf and he’s been involved with casinos and gambling. Those 3 are right up my alley.

Donald Trump's Campaign Sues Local TV Station Over Super PAC's ...

POTUS is very opinionated and love him or hate him he will tell you what’s on his mind whether or not you agree with what comes out of his mouth or if what is coming out of his mouth is factually incorrect. He would make a great sports talk radio host because he would illict reaction. Easily a guy I’d love to spend 30-minutes with doing a show on sports talk topics. 

2. The Rock

The Rock is certainly a sports figure and entertainer but he’s so much more. He has become a global brand and Hollywood’s top earner. The Rock started out as a football player (fun fact: He lost his starting job on the University of Miami’s defensive line to Warren Sapp!), who transitioned to WWE(F) and has now gone full-steam ahead as a movie star. In recent years he’s even shown up on a list of odds to one day run for President.

Dwayne Johnson

Talking sports with Dwayne Johnson would absolutely be a compelling conversation. And he’d probably lay the smack down on a lot of people and their awful sports takes. 

3. Larry David

He’s one of the funniest guys of all-time, and a man who has had enough of the failing New York professional sports franchises. Recently, on the Michael Kay Show he brought up a story on how he tried to tell then-Jets GM Mike Maccagnan to draft Lamar Jackson. Maccagnan apparently laughed at Larry, but who’s laughing now? Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.

Larry David | Biography, TV Shows, & Facts | Britannica

From everything I’ve gathered, Larry is more than a comedic genius, he’s pretty bright about the NYC sports teams he follows so closely.

Those are my two three-somes. What are yours? Let’s keep the conversation going! 

BSM Writers

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.

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grant cohn

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.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 75

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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.

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BSM Writers

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.

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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.

Bron Heussenstamm, CEO Bleav Podcast Network

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.

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