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Michael Collins Is Hopefully Pesimistic

“Imagine having the sports world to yourself and you’re the only game in town. We know how starved everyone is for some live sporting event to go on.”

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The PGA Tour recently announced their revised schedule for the 2020 season which includes their first event being held June 11 to 14 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Forth Worth, TX at Colonial. The PGA Tour will be the first of the major sports leagues to return to action since the outbreak of COVID-19 and there are many in the golf world who are still uncertain if these events will move ahead as scheduled.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was one of the major sports leaders involved in a recent conference call with President Donald Trump which was then followed by the announcement of their revised schedule for 2020 which included The Masters being moved to November. 

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan warns players in email about ...

Chris McKee with Barrett Sports Media spoke with ESPN golf analyst Michael Collins about the return of golf and what this could mean for the PGA Tour. Collins has been in contact with the PGA Tour as well as city officials who are hosting upcoming events. 

Chris McKee: The Charles Schwab is scheduled to return June 11, how hopeful are you this actually goes ahead as planned?

Michael Collins: I would say I’m hopefully pessimistic. I’ve spoken to the mayor of Fort Worth (Betsy Price) and I was on the teleconference with the PGA Tour when they made the schedule announcement and there are so many things that are still up in the air. One of them is that the tour knows of 25 players and 35 caddies that still aren’t in the country so what happens if they can’t get back in because of the travel ban in certain places. 

Are you going to tell members who are eligible and want to play in the tournament that they can’t and what does that look like legally? 

Lets say the tournament happens, what are you going to do with the players that say, “I’m really not comfortable with coming back and doing this”?Their answer to this was “talk to the players because they’re independent contractors.” So basically, the tour is saying, “If you don’t show up, thats on you.” So its almost forcing players to risk their health and travel.

We’re still in the middle of this pandemic but who knows where we will be in six weeks. I asked the mayor if infrastructure was going to be up and running by June 8th which means hotels and restaurants and how is all of that going to work. The mayor said that was still being worked on which means they don’t know. The mayor said she was hopeful that they (the players) were going to be able to stay in one or two hotels but (uncertain) how restaurants were going to work and how you will staff those hotels. It’s a gargantuan task.

CM: With golf being the first of the major sports to return, do you think this is an opportunity to grow the game and create more fans?

MC: Oh yeah. Thats one of the reasons why everyone is standing on one side of the river. Its like a giant herd of wildebeest waiting to cross to the other side where it looks like the green grass is.

Imagine having the sports world to yourself and you’re the only game in town. We know how starved everyone is for some live sporting event to go on.

CM: As a guy who covers golf daily, how excited are you that come June, there are going to be a 1000 new broadcasters claiming to be a golf experts?

MC: We’re going to have golf before that if the Tiger and Phil (Mickelson) thing happens. That one will be much easier to put on and thats a great test case and I think thats why the tour is going to be ok with it.

Lets get Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning on the golf course together. Its four people out on the course and you can social distance and it would be funny if all four of them didn’t have caddies and we’re watching them push carts. That would be hilarious. It’s a great test case if they can pull this off on Memorial Day weekend. 

CM: The PGA Tour switched their schedule around last year to avoid competing with the NFL but now we’re going to have The Masters in November which means it will go up against the NFL.

MC: But is it really though? If the full sports scenario is in place by then, on Saturday you watch The Masters and college football and then Sunday you watch The Masters and the NFL, like who is losing in this scenario? It would be phenomenal to have The Masters and the NFL on the same Sunday.

I also love the optimism of Augusta National not only saying we’re playing The Masters in November but also in their statement putting out that if you have a ticket you’re welcome. So they’re basically saying that by November, fans and patrons, lets go! The roars are going to be here. 

Follow Michael Collins on Twitter @ESPNCaddie.

Chris McKee is a Toronto based broadcaster and writer. He does play-by-play for CBC Sports & TSN radio with the CEBL as well as PXP for One Volleyball, OSBA & Orangeville Prep, the premier high school program in Canada. He also works as a traffic reporter for TSN 1050, News Talk 1010 & Jewel 88.5 and was recently the Social Media Director for Golf Talk Canada on TSN. Prior to working in sports, he was an award winning music agent and concert promoter for 20 years producing tours for the likes of Rihanna, The Black Eyed Peas, Wu-Tang Clan, 50 Cent, The Roots and many more. He is the author of the book “Life on the road with the Wu-Tang Clan.” He can be reached on Twitter @MrMcKee.

BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 44

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This week’s episode is all about the NFL. Demetri explains why the league embracing kids is long overdue, Andy Masur stops by to breakdown the first Manningcast, and Ryan Maguire explains why some sports radio stations are missing a golden opportunity to shine on Sundays.

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BSM Writers

Interviews Thrive On Podcasts In A Way They Can’t On Radio

“Opportunities that a podcast creates open doors to audio that is simply superior to live radio.”

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Live radio vs. podcasts seems to be a heavyweight fight that isn’t ending anytime soon.  Podcasts are growing so much that companies that do radio are also now offering podcasts. This column is hardly about that fight. 

Instead, this is about how a podcast interview is a better way to get the best out of the guest than anything live on a radio station. This is not about downloads or clicks or sponsors. Solely about the content that is being produced.

A podcast makes the guest more comfortable and is more intimate than a live radio show.  Especially in sports.

Since 2015, I have hosted and produced 656 podcasts (yes it was fun to count them) and hosted many radio shows. My current shows are called Sports with Friends, Hall of Justice, and Techstream. That last one I host with tech expert Shelly Palmer.

On radio, there is a myriad of things the host has to do besides focus on the guest.

First, there are the IDs. Program directors have always told me ID the guest every chance I get. “We are talking with Eli Manning on WFAN,” is heard 7 times during an eight-minute segment.

On a podcast, the name of the guest is on the player or app that is playing the podcast. “Episode 1. Eli Manning, New York Giants” scrolls across smartphones, car radios, or other devices constantly.  Never interrupt the guest with an ID.

Then, there’s the fact that it is recorded and not live. I have a standard preamble that I say to any guest before any record light turns on.

“I will push,” I explain. “I will see where the conversation takes us, but I do tend to push. However, I’m on your side. This isn’t some expose’. If something comes up that you don’t like your answer, tell me. I’ll take it out. If there’s something that I say that is bad or wrong, tell me, I’ll take it out. This is a conversation, not an interview.”

In 656 podcasts, only one player, Bryce Harper (then of the Washington Nationals) asked me to take something out of a podcast.

We were doing Episode 54 of Sports with Friends when the subject of Dusty Baker came up.  He had just been hired to manage the Nationals. I mentioned in passing that Dusty had given the eulogy at my best friend Darryl Hamilton’s funeral.

Bryce was so intrigued that he recalled the comments I had made and asked if we could pause. We then spoke for a good 10 minutes about the kind of person Dusty was. Why Darryl held him in such regard.  It was a really inciteful chat.  Never was on the podcast.

Still, guests do relax when told that the editing option exists. They let their guard down. The host of a podcast can ask deeper questions.

“Who was the first person you called when you found out you were traded?”

“Have you seen a life for you after football?”

“How much do you hate a certain player?”

All questions, that if asked live, could seriously backfire. So not only does the guest have a guard up, but the interviewer also has to play it relatively safe, when they are not IDing the guest for the umpteenth time.

Time constraints also don’t exist in a podcast where they are beholden on live radio. The guest is just about to tell you they did cocaine during the World Series, and you are up against the clock.

ShinStation - Game Over - #017 - Wrap it Up - YouTube
Courtesy: Comedy Central

I have hosted shows over the years where the guest was phenomenal, but I screwed up the PPM clock. That was the takeaway.  The clock is important on a live medium that needs to get that quarter-hour.

I try to keep my podcasts short. You wouldn’t see it from looking at the lengths of my episodes. Still, I feel that if someone wants to talk and dive into a topic and it goes a little long, I will never cut the guy off.

Ken Griffey Jr. spoke for 45 minutes with a cigar and his feet up on the phone by his pool. He was telling jokes and stories. I wouldn’t have stopped that if a train was coming. When I hosted Mariner content at KJR in Seattle, our interviews usually last 5 minutes.

Jon Morosi broke down the future of clubhouse access and how he traveled during Covid. Then he told an amazing story of his wife working in the medical field and how that impacted all of his family. Shannon Drayer of 710 KIRO got so in-depth in her arduous journey from being a coffee barista to the Mariners on-field reporter. It was split into two episodes.

Former porn star Lisa Ann talked about her decision to quit the business. Even Jason Barrett himself was Episode 173 of Sports with Friends.

(When in the past has Jason Barrett been in the same paragraph as a porn star? Note to Demetri: please leave it in.)

The radio industry is seen to be cutting costs wherever it can. Mid-market stations are not doing night shows anymore, instead offering nationally syndicated programming. 

Weekends are another avenue that perplexes me. Talent that is not deemed good enough to be on during the week is often given weekend shifts. Also, some Monday-Friday hosts add a weekend shift to their duties. Here’s a theory: play podcasts. Format them to hit your PPM time marks. 

They don’t have to be my podcasts, but in the crowded podcast space, surely there are sports talk podcasts that are intimate, deep, and fun. Since we live in a data-driven age, let’s see how a radio station fares playing high-quality podcasts or portions of them, vs. weekend hosts.

Program directors often worry about the outdated nature of a podcast. That sells the podcaster short. As someone who has been in the podcast space since 2003, I know how to make them timeless, and companies make shows often enough, that rarely would they be outdated.  

Quality shines through the speakers.  The spoken-word audio format is continually evolving. Opportunities that a podcast creates open doors to audio that is simply superior to live radio.

How to Start a Podcast: Podcasting for Beginners - RSS.com Podcasting

The podcast industry is continually evolving.  Radio needs to evolve as well.  Then, it can be a fair fight.

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BSM Writers

National Voices Can Work For Local Clients

“Distance, like absence, can make the heart grow fonder.”

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Selling personalities is one of the hottest trends in media today. Sure, most of the buzz is around social media influencers, but radio has long had a relationship with its audience based on personal connections between host and listener. And nobody has a better relationship with their audience than a sports radio host.

I am sure you are leveraging your local hosts by now. Live spots, testimonials, remotes, and promotions are all great tricks of the trade, as well as sponsored social media posts. But does your station carry syndicated shows? I am sure you do either from 7 pm-12 am Monday-Friday or on weekends.

In 2018, The Ticket in Boise, Idaho brought CBS Sports Radio host Damon Amendolara and his co-host, Shaun Morash, to town for a Boise State football game. Damon had just switched to mornings from evenings, and his show aired in Boise from 4 am-8 am Monday – Friday. His ratings were decent, but nothing that stood out considering the daypart. It was thought to be risky to sell him into sandwich shops, pizza places, appearances at local legend hangouts, and so forth.

Boise State head football coach and QB Bryan Harsin and Brett Rypien did a live shot on the show from the on-campus bookstore. At dark thirty. It all worked. DA and Morash were hits! Everywhere they went, lines and crowds awaited them and they hit spots in a two-county area.  The few days of appearances worked so well that DA is back in Boise three years later, this time for a week. Now, DA is doing his show from resort hotels 2.5 hours away, taking riverboat adventure fishing trips in Hell’s Canyon, craft beer tours for his sidekick Andrew Bogusch and hosting college football viewing parties at brewpubs. Every station that carries syndicated shows probably has a DA success story waiting to happen. 

Start by listening to the shows, know the benchmarks and quirks of the national personalities or call the affiliate rep and ask. Does the talent discuss their love of beer, BBQ, pizza, whatever? If they do, then go ahead and sell them to a local client. The national talent can do the spot and endorse your client. If it’s a product, send one to them. Figure out how to get them a pizza. If it’s a service, do a zoom call with the client and let them start a relationship. Include some social media elements with video. The video can be used in social media and can sit on the client’s website. Yours too!

If you want to bring the talent to town, do it for a big game, local event, or 4th of July parade, and the sponsors will follow. Run a promo during the talent’s daypart asking local sponsors to text in to reserve their promotional spot. Have the talent cut liners asking the same thing. Take the NFL Sunday morning host and sell a promo to a sports bar where the host zooms in to a table or room full of listeners, and they watch a portion of a game together. Or sell the same idea to a national chain and do an on-air contest for a listener to have a home watch party with the zoomed-in host complete with food and beverages from your sponsors sent to both locations. How about sending your #1 BBQ joint that handles mail orders and sends some food for the talent? They can videotape themselves reheating the BBQ and make some great Facebook and Instagram videos.  

Distance, like absence, can make the heart grow fonder. Try selling a nationally syndicated host inside your market. I promise you’ll like it. 

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