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Independent Nation: 99.9 The Fan

“It’s hardly a “small” company, but you can’t deny it’s connection and devotion to the communities CBC calls home.”

Jack Ferris

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“This is going to sound weird,” offers up Adam Gold, as if he’s about to share an industry secret.  His voice calm and direct.  “I’m not entirely sure all of this has changed anything I do on the air all that much.”

You have no choice but to believe the midday host of 99.9 The Fan when he speaks.  The man is a straight shooter in every sense of the word.  

Adam Gold Celebrates 20 Years of Sports Talk in The Triangle ...

“Off the air I’m 100% available for anything they need in Sales.  Private calls, social media videos, anything at all,” he explains. “As far as content is concerned, I haven’t had any trouble when it comes to material.  In North Carolina, we hardly talk baseball.  Once the Final Four is over, we basically just talk about the personalities in sports, the storylines in sports.  I’ve always been much more interested in issues than breaking down the games.”

It’s that interest in storylines that has made Gold a fixture of sports talk radio in Raleigh and Durham over the last two decades.  Interestingly enough, his company is responsible for producing perhaps the biggest storyline of this Independent Nation series.

Including The Fan, Capitol Broadcasting Company owns 9 radio and 3 TV stations between the Raleigh/Durham and Wilmington markets.  It’s hardly a “small” company, but you can’t deny it’s connection and devotion to the communities CBC calls home.

Like just about every other privately owned media company, CBC immediately used their platforms to share whatever information they could pertaining to their advertising partners.  Giving small business owners air time, producing new ads on the fly, and hammering home any and all details as they changed on social media.

Feeling the need to do more, the brainstorming continued.  It was late March when Brian Maloney, CBC VP of Radio, cooked up an idea that has proven to be immensely valuable.

Here to Help: Local Business Virtual Conference Series

It’s a weekly webinar – free to anyone – featuring community business leaders and administration professionals simply sharing ideas on how to navigate the troubled waters.  

“In true CBC fashion, when I mentioned it the team jumped on it and made it happen by that Thursday,” recalls Maloney.

CBC Announces Promotion of Brian Maloney, Streamlining Leadership ...

From Bank Presidents to HR Directors – anyone who could offer any insight on how to keep the lights on throughout the Spring has participated on the weekly Thursday webinars.  Well over a month in, Here to Help draws a digital audience of 100-170 viewers every week.

“It’s not a sales pitch,” stresses Maloney. “We’re not there to push any kind of service on anyone.  We’re just there to share information and it’s proven to be really helpful for a lot of people.”

Starting at 2 pm EST, the 60 minute meetings start with an introduction of the week’s presenters and is generally followed by power point presentations with a little Q & A session as the clock reaches the end of the hour.

This week’s theme was the pandemic’s impact on local non-profits and featured three local CEOs and the VP of Corporate Affairs for Coastal Federal Credit Union. While the presentations are, for the most part, geared towards North Carolina, the information is useful for small business owners and executives coast to coast.

Along with reliable and useful information, attitude and perspective has proven to be especially valuable over the last month, and Maloney is choosing positivity.

“As tragic as it’s been at times, I think there’s gonna be a lot of good that comes out of this.  This is creating opportunities for us to improve and we have to be sure we take advantage.”

For more than a decade, Adam Gold and Joe Ovies were partners in afternoon drive on 99.9 the Fan. That changed in March when the station decided to shuffle its lineup. Now, when Gold wraps up his show at 3 pm, Joe Ovies takes over The Fan alongside his new partner Joe Giglio.

“It’s tough to call it ‘Afternoon Drive,’ when no one is driving,” jokes Ovies. “This is a commuter town and no one is commuting, which is fine. We just need to give people a reason to listen digitally.  It’s our job to put out a product that our listeners will choose as they walk their dog, do their yard work, any day to day task where we can entertain them.”  

As fate would have it, Ovies and Giglio kicked off their partnerships earlier this year just as everything began turning sideways.

“I do the show from my wife’s home office and Joe broadcasts from his bathroom,” laughs Ovies. “I told him if we can weather this storm, it’ll be smooth sailing the rest of the way.”

Like Gold on the midday show, Ovies believes there’s value in giving people some sense of normal sports talk radio without completely losing track of where we are globally.

“First couple of weeks we did a lot of news as we were just processing information.  We had our TV anchors on to chat about policies on the state and federal level.  That was important and that’s what listeners wanted. Since we’ve been able to adapt nicely and we’re doing, what I believe to be, really good radio.”

Toward the end of our conversation, Adam Gold backtracked ever so slightly on the idea that his show hasn’t changed much through it all.

Downtown Raleigh Alliance | Raleigh, NC

“I’m really good friends with a lot of our partners.  One in particular is Gordon Miller of Miller Lending.  He’s a mortgage lender,” Gold details slowly and carefully, as if he’s outlining his theory on the future of Cam Newton. “I’ve been reading ads for Miller Lending for 21 years.  Since this started, I haven’t mentioned the word ‘mortgage’ in any of his ads.  Instead, it’s been about buying gift cards to local restaurants.  He wants his air time to be about investing in the community.”

Gold pauses on the edge of full sentimental mode to lighten the mood.

“It’s also an investment in yourself.  I mean, you’re gonna eat the food.”

BSM Writers

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.

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WRONG BAD

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.

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BSM Writers

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.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

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.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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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.

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