Connect with us

BSM Writers

Is Anyone Concerned About The Athletes?

“Through wildfire smoke, protest backlash, Covid uncertainty, collegiate mind-changing and in-game silence, the players deserve praise — salaries and all — for how they’re handling the heavy challenges of 2020.”

Published

on

We should worry about firefighters, Covid-19 frontliners, the homeless, the maskless. We should worry about police encounters on the streets and what could happen next. We should worry about the long-term economy, climate change, the air that has me dry-heaving in California. We should worry about young people, parents, teachers and what kind of life a 20-year-old is looking at in America The Pitiful no matter who is president.

Athletes? We’re not supposed to worry about them, especially those who’ve resumed making one-percenter salaries. Clippers fans might argue that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are worthy of voodoo pins after their Game 7 washout, but, please, this is much bigger than outcomes and so-called curses. I cover sports, have for a long time. And I’m stunned by what the players are dealing with as leagues across the landscape, hellbent to complete seasons, begin to recoup the ample revenues once thought lost.

Imagine being a Black athlete and thinking 2020 finally has brought measures of truth and justice to social inequality — only to hear the White face of Old Man Football, Mike Ditka, ordering you to leave the country if you protest racism and police brutality during the national anthem. “You don’t like the game, get out of it. It’s not for protesting one way or the other. What color you are, what you think, this or that. You play football. That’s it. You’re privileged,’’ said Ditka, who turns 81 next month and has lost touch. “I would tell those players: Go to another country and play football there. You don’t have to come out if you go to another country. You can’t! Because the game’s only played in this country. And if you can’t respect this country, get the hell out of it.”

Sigh.

Imagine being on a baseball team forced to play a doubleheader in the city with the world’s worst air, Seattle, where it’s surprising none of the Mariners or A’s didn’t suffocate in the smoky haze hanging over the field. Check back to see how many suffered lung damage. “I’m a healthy 22-year-old. I shouldn’t be gasping for air or missing oxygen when I’m getting to the line. I’ll leave it at that,’’ said A’s pitcher Jesus Luzardo, among many asking why the games proceeded, under the retractable sort-of-roof of an outdoor/indoor ballpark, when air quality was measured at a “very unhealthy’’ 233. Why is Major League Baseball unfazed by the historic wildfires that left a freakish orange glaze over both Bay Area ballparks and impacted all teams based on the West Coast? Oh, because commissioner Rob Manfred is a madman who will risk the health of others — but not his — to bum-rush a regular season that leads to a nearly $1-billion TV payout in October. Never mind that the postseason would include a Bubble in southern California and possibly four of the state’s five teams.

Cough, hack, wheeze.

Imagine being a professional athlete tested regularly for the coronavirus yet wondering if the leagues have been transparent and forthright about the results. The NFL is swabbing daily and insists the players are Covid-free, but with teams operating outside a single isolated Bubble and traveling to road games, isn’t an MLB-like outbreak inevitable? How serious is the NFL when Rams coach Sean McVay is allowed to work the sideline most of a game with a mask worn under his chin? Why did the league wait until the next day to admonish him? And when Manfred mentions having fans at postseason games and a World Series in Texas, isn’t he, uh, defeating the purpose of finally placing players in a Bubble setting starting next week, when playoff contenders are quarantined in hotels for seven days? In the sport in which players have most often flouted protocols, you’re inviting fans who might not obey protocols themselves, some after traveling long distances from other places? And mixing them all together?

WTF?

Imagine being a college football player, unpaid and impressionable, having to trust power freaks who run the biggest programs and university presidents thirsting to reap the financial bonanzas. Ed Orgeron, coach of defending national champion LSU, isn’t considering the long-range health dangers that accompany Covid. Sounding uninformed and almost diabolical, he actually hopes his team achieves herd immunity — though he clearly doesn’t understand what that may or may not mean. “Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it. I think that hopefully they won’t catch it again, and hopefully they’re not out for games,’’ he said. “Hopefully that once you catch it, you don’t get it again. I’m not a doctor.’’ Then why is he trying to play one? Know how many college football coaches are playing hocus-pocus with players’ lives? And their loved ones? And the students they associate with — and party with — on Covid-ravaged campuses? The Big Ten had been one of the two wise conferences not playing, yet there were those presidents, voting to return in October, kids be damned.

Help.

And imagine being a player in the NBA or NHL, sequestered in restrictive environments since July. Covid has been kept out of the Bubbles and Igloos, infection-free so far as family members visit the (Adam) Silverdome, but it will take a grounded soul to survive isolation and lead a team to a title. Is it any wonder LeBron James is best equipped mentally to hoist a trophy with the Lakers next month? “Meditating helps a lot for me personally with taking a lot of deep breaths, closing my eyes and just centering myself and listening to my inner self,’’ he said. “That definitely is something that keeps me sane in the Bubble.” As opposed to George, who lost himself inside the Bubble, as have others not as willing to discuss it.

Aummmmm.

Through it all, the athletes are expected to perform at optimum levels and entertain us as we sit in the relative safety of our homes. And they’re doing so in front of only smatterings of spectators, if any, in stadiums and Bubbles. We shouldn’t feel sorry for them because they work in silence; consider the daunting plights of the aforementioned. But it’s another stark departure from normalcy that requires them to find inspiration from within in spooky surroundings. Sports Business Journal provided a rundown of comments after Week 1.

“There’s just no excitement. There’s just no energy from an outside source,’’ Vikings receiver Adam Thielen said.

“ “You definitely could hear the defense and hear what they’re calling,’’ Ravens receiver Marquise Brown said.

“It felt like a scrimmage out there,’’ said Tom Brady, who wished the game hadn’t mattered.

“Even that little buzz in the stadium that they create in between plays, it just feels like a whisper compared to what it normally is,’’ said Drew Brees, who had enough Superdome familiarity to beat Brady and Tompa Bay.

The eerie stillness was best captured by Bill Belichick, who said of the fan-less atmosphere in New England: “Practice. It’s like scrimmaging the Titans, or scrimmaging Detroit, or scrimmaging the teams we scrimmage. I mean there were a few fans there, but basically there are no fans there and it’s just competition. There’s some energy from your teammates and your own energy. It is what is. That’s what it’s like out there in practice.’’

The game-day experience is formidable, starting with the pre-game decisions about protests. Who’s kneeling? Who’s standing? Who’s staying back in the locker room? What is Colin Kaepernick going to tweet next? What other advocate of President Trump will lash out like DItka? What are they saying on TV? Kaepernick’s latest tweet condemning commissioner Roger Goodell — “… the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black life …’’ — was followed by a tweet from his former kneeling partner, Eric Reid, who wrote this about the league’s treatment of Kaepernick: “What the @NFL is doing is half-hearted at best. @nflcommish has gotten comfortable saying he “was wrong” as if his mere acknowledgement reconciles his admitted wrongdoing. He hasn’t even called Colin to apologize, let alone reconcile, proving this is only PR for the current business climate. As such, Roger Goodell uses video of Colin courageously kneeling to legitimize their disingenuous PR while simultaneously perpetuating systemic oppression, that the video he’s using fights against, by continuing to rob Colin of his career. It’s diabolical.’’

Thus, the protests remain front and center on the NFL stage, as the first presidential debate nears. On the day Ditka’s tirade went viral, another fixture of Old Man Chicago culture, Dan McNeil, was fired for a noxious tweet. He compared the outfit of ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor, who is Black, to that of a host for an adult film awards show. Proud day for Chicago, Chicago, that doddering town. How would you like to be a Black athlete in that racially polarized, kid-murdering city?

At least the games are being watched by home viewers. But other than the Brees-Brady game, ratings are down in the NFL, where prime-time metrics from the initial Sunday and Thursday nights — featuring Patrick Mahomes, the Cowboys and the vast Los Angeles market — is causing anxiety at NBC. At ESPN, the “Monday Night Football’’ doubleheader was a ratings disaster. This follows lower numbers for NBA games and staples such as U.S. Open tennis and the Kentucky Derby. Is Trump right when he says most Americans are weary of pre-game protests? Are the games just too ragged and sloppy? It’s too early to make sweeping judgments, but two weeks into Sportsapalooza — the 10-week cornucopia of championship events and meaningful games unlike any stretch in American history — our national depression clearly has seeped into sports.

Something is lost when the Heat win a thriller — Jimmy Butler hits a shot, followed by Bam Adebayo’s soaring rejection of Jayson Tatum’s flying dunk attempt — and there is no visceral reaction from spectators. It was Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, but it felt like a Summer League thing, players walking off the floor to a minimum of sound. To quote two troubadours from the past, silence like a cancer grows.

You don’t have to feel sorry for athletes. But I do.

BSM Writers

Adam The Bull Is Giving Cleveland Something It’s Never Had Before

“It was only more recently that I was like why do I have to only be a radio guy?”

Published

on

After spending 22 years on the radio, Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber was ready for a new adventure.  In fact, the former co-host of Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland did not have a new job lined up when he signed off from his 11-year radio home last month.

“I was already leaving without having a new project,” admitted Gerstenhaber during a recent phone interview with BSM.  “I left before I knew for sure I had a ‘next project’.”

Gerstenhaber was preparing for his final show with co-host Dustin Fox on April 1st when he was contacted by an executive producer for TEGNA, a company that was developing a Cleveland sports television show on YouTube.  The executive producer, who had just found out that Bull was a free agent, made it clear that he wanted Bull to be a part of the new project.

It all came together very quickly. 

“Let’s talk on Monday,” Gerstenhaber told the executive producer. “And within a week they signed me up.”

The Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show on YouTube featuring Gerstenhaber, former ESPN personality Jay Crawford, 92.3 The Fan’s Garrett Bush, and rotating hosts to make up a four-person round-table show, made its debut last Monday.  The show, which airs weekdays from 11am to 1pm, features passionate Cleveland sports talk, live guests, either in-studio or via Zoom, as well as interaction from the audience through social media.

“I’m very excited,” said Gerstenhaber.  “It’s a definite adjustment for me after 22 years on radio doing television.  For the last 11 years, I’ve been doing a radio show with just one other host and I was the lead guy doing most of the talking and now I’m on a show with three other people and it’s such an adjustment.  So far, I’m having a ball.”  

And so far, the reaction to the show has been very positive.

A big reason why is that it’s something that Cleveland didn’t have and really never had, unlike a city like New York, where there are local radio shows that are simulcast on regional sports channels. 

“There’s nothing like that in Cleveland,” said Gerstenhaber.  “And there was certainly nothing like this with a panel.  Cleveland is such a massive sports town and now people that don’t live in Cleveland that are maybe retired in Florida or Arizona, now they actually have a TV show that they can watch that’s Cleveland-centric.”

The new venture certainly represents a big change in what Bull has been used to in his radio career.  He’s enjoying the freedom of not having to follow a hard clock for this show. In fact, there have already been some occasions where the show has been able to go a little longer than scheduled because they have the flexibility to do that on YouTube.

Doing a show on YouTube gives the panel a great opportunity to go deep into topics and spend some quality time with guests.  And while there is no cursing on the show at the moment, there could be the potential for that down the road.

Don’t expect the show is going to become X-rated or anything like that, but the objective is to be able to capture the spirit and emotion of being a sports fan and host.

“It’s something we may do in the future,” said Gerstenhaber.  “Not curse just to curse but it gives us the option if we get fired up.  It is allowed because there’s no restrictions there.  The company doesn’t want us to do it at the moment.”  

There’s also been the shift for Gerstenhaber from being the “point guard” on his old radio show, driving the conversation and doing most of the talking, to now taking a step back and having Crawford distributing the ball on the television show.

For a guy called “The Bull”, that will take some getting used to. 

“Jay is a pro’s pro,” said Gerstenhaber.  “He’s the point guard for this but he’s also part of the conversation.  I’m not used to not being the point guard so I have to adjust to that.  I think it’s gone pretty well and the chemistry is pretty good and with time we’ll get used to the flow of it.”  

Gerstenhaber’s move from sports radio to an internet television show is a perfect example of how the industry is changing.  A good portion of the listening and viewing audience these days, especially those in the younger demographic, are not necessarily watching traditional television or listening to terrestrial radio.  For a lot of sports fans, watching and listening on a mobile device or a computer has become a very important way of life.

The desire to adapt, along with a shorter workday, was very enticing to him.

“It was only more recently that I was like why do I have to only be a radio guy?” wondered Gerstenhaber.  “There were things about my job that I was unhappy about.  I was doing a five-hour radio show.  It’s too long. That’s crazy.  Nobody should be doing a five-hour radio show at this point.” 

Broadcasting on the internet has arrived and it’s not just a couple of sports fans doing a show from their garage anymore.  The business has evolved to the point where the technology has provided more opportunities for those who have already enjoyed success in the industry and are looking for new challenges.

Kind of like Adam The Bull!

“I think years ago, probably like many people in the radio business, we looked at internet and podcasts as like whatever…those guys aren’t professionals…they’re amateurs,” said Gerstenhaber.  “But the game has changed.”

Gerstenhaber, Crawford and everyone associated with the “Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show” should not have much of a problem attracting the younger audience. That demographic is already accustomed to watching shows on YouTube and other streaming platforms.  The challenge now is to get the more mature audience on board. There are certainly some obstacles there.

I know this from experience with trying to explain to my mother in Florida how she can hear me on the radio and watch me on television simply by using her tablet.

Bull can certainly relate to that.

“My mother is still trying to figure out how to watch the show live,” said Gerstenhaber with a chuckle.  “The older fans struggle with that. A lot of my older fans here in Cleveland are like how do I watch it? For people that are under 40 and certainly people that under 30, watching a YouTube show is like okay I watch everything on my phone or device.  It’s such a divide and obviously as the years go by, that group will increase.” 

With the television show off and running, Gerstenhaber still has a passion for his roots and that’s the radio side of the business.  In the next couple of weeks, “The Bull” is set to announce the launch of two podcasts, one daily and one weekly, that will begin next month.  But he also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to terrestrial radio at some point.

“I have not closed the door to radio,” said Gerstenhaber.  “I still love radio.  I would still, in the right set of circumstances, consider going back to radio but it would have to really be the perfect situation.  I’m excited about (the television show) and right now I don’t want to do anything else but I’m certainly going to remain open-minded to radio if a really excellent opportunity came up.”

The landscape of the broadcasting industry, particularly when it comes to sports, has certainly changed over the years and continues to evolve.  Adam Gerstenhaber certainly enjoyed a tremendous amount of success on the radio side, both in New York and in Cleveland, but now he has made the transition to something new with the YouTube television show and he’s committed to making it a success.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

I Heard A Lot of Boring, Uncreative Sports Radio On Friday

“Sometimes your first idea is your best one. You don’t know that though if you stop thinking after one idea. That is what it feels like happens a lot the day after NFL schedules are released”

Published

on

Maybe this one is on me for expecting better. Maybe I need to take my own advice and accept that there are times the sports radio audience just wants a little comfort food. Still, this is my column and I am going to complain because I listened to probably six different stations on Friday and all of them were doing the exact same thing.

The NFL schedule was released on Thursday night, so on Friday, regardless of daypart, every show seemingly felt obligated to have the same three conversations.

  1. How many games will the home team win?
  2. What does the number of primetime games we got mean for how much respect we have nationally?
  3. Why do the Lions still get to play on Thanksgiving?

Football is king. I get that. Concrete NFL news is always going to take priority. That is understandable. But where was even an ounce of creativity? Where was the desire to do better – not just better than the competition, but better than the other shows in your own building?

I listened to shows in markets from across the league. The conversations were the same regardless of size or history of success. Everyone that picked in the top 5 in last month’s draft is going to go 10-7. Every team that got less than 5 primetime games feels disrespected. It was all so boring.

Those of us in the industry don’t consume content the way listeners do. We all know that. Perhaps I am harping on something that is only a problem to me because I listen to sports talk radio for a living. If you don’t ever want to put more than the bare minimum of effort into your show, decide that is the reason for my reaction and go click on another article here.

Consider this though, maybe the fact that I listen to so much sports radio means I know how much quality there is in this industry. Maybe it means that I can spot someone talented that is phoning it in.

I want to be clear in my point. There is value in giving your record prediction for the home team. Listeners look at the people on the radio as experts. I will bet some futures bets in a lot of markets were made on Friday based on what the gambler heard coming through their speakers. All I want to get across is there is a way to have that conversation that isn’t taking two segments to go through each week one by one. I heard no less than three stations do that on Friday.

Sometimes your first idea is your best one. You don’t know that though if you stop thinking after one idea. That is what it feels like happens a lot the day after NFL schedules are released. It’s a very familiar rhythm: pick the wins, get a guest on to preview the week 1 opponent, take calls, texts and tweets with the listeners’ predictions.

I didn’t hear anyone ask their listeners to sell them on the over for wins. I didn’t hear anyone give me weeks that you could skip Red Zone because one matchup is just too damn good. I didn’t hear anyone go through the Sunday Night Football schedule and pick out the weeks to schedule dates because the matchup isn’t worth it.

Maybe none of those ideas are winners, and that is fine. They are literally three dumb ideas I pulled out of the air. But they are all ways to review the schedule that could potentially leave a smile on your listener’s face.

Show prep is so important, especially in a group setting. It is your chance to tell your partner, producer, or host that you know you can do better than the idea that has just been thrown out. Quit nodding in agreement and challenge each other! It may mean a little more work for you, but it means more reward for the listeners. And if the listeners know they can rely on you for quality, creative content, that leads to more reward for you.

And lay off the Lions. It’s Thanksgiving. You’re stuck at home. The NFL could give you Lions vs Jaguars and you’d watch.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Why You Should Be Making Great TikTok Content

“We’re specially trained in the world of TSL (time spent listening), and the longer people view your content on TikTok, the more the app rewards you by shoving your content into more and more feeds.”

Published

on

It feels like there’s a new social media platform to pay attention to every other week. That makes it easy to overlook when one of them actually presents value to your brand. It wasn’t long ago that TikTok was primarily used by teenagers with the focus being silly dance trends filmed for video consumption with their friends and followers alike. Now, as the general public has become in tune with how this complicated app works, it’s grown far beyond that.

TikTok is now an app used by all types of demographics and unlike TikTok’s closely related cousins Instagram and Facebook, this app provides a certain type of nuance that I think people in our line of work can really excel in. 

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of how you can use TikTok to your advantage and how to make your videos catch on, I think it’s important to first mention why this matters for you. Now, if I’m being realistic, I’m sure there are some that have already stopped reading this or those that could scroll away fast enough when they saw the words TikTok. You might be thinking that this doesn’t fit your demo, or maybe that it’s a waste of time because productivity here won’t directly lead to an uptick in Nielsen ratings. But I’m not sure any social network directly leads to what we ultimately get judged on, and we aren’t always pumping out content directly to our core audience.

TikTok, like any other app you may use, is marketing. This is another free tool to let people out there know who you are and what you offer in this endless sea of content. And the beauty of TikTok is that it directly caters its algorithm to content creators just like us. Bottom line, if you are a personality in sports talk, there’s no reason you can’t be crushing it on TikTok right now. All it takes is a little direction, focus, consistency, and a plan. 

Unlike Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where you can throw a photo up with a caption and be done for the day, TikTok’s whole model is built on creative videos that keep users engaged for longer periods of time. This approach works. According to Oberlo, a social media stat tracking site, people spend more time per day on TikTok than any other popular social media application. 38 minutes per day!

This is where this is good news for us in talk radio. We’re specially trained in the world of TSL (time spent listening), and the longer people view your content on TikTok, the more the app rewards you by shoving your content into more and more feeds. TikTok’s algorithm doesn’t care how many followers you have, your level of credibility, or the production on your video. All ir cares about is 1) Is your content good. and 2) Are people watching it. 3) How long are they watching it. The more people watch and the longer they watch creates a snowball effect. Your videos views will skyrocket, sometimes within hours. 

So, how do you create content that will catch on? It’s really not all that different than what you do every day. Create thought-provoking commentary that makes people think, argue, or stay till the end to get the info you teased up for them. I’ve found through my own trial and error that it’s best if you stay away from time-sensitive material, I’ve had more success the more evergreen my content is. That way, the shelf life expands beyond just that day or week. This is different for everyone and there’s no one-size-fits-all, but this is where I’ve seen the most success. 

Also, put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to say something that people are going to vehemently disagree with. Again, it’s not unlike what we do every day. It’s one thing to get someone to listen, it’s another to get them to engage. Once they hit you in the comment section, you’ve got them hooked. Comments breed more views and on and on. But don’t just let those sit there, even the smallest interaction back like a shoulder shrug emoji can go a long way in creating more play for your video. 

If you want to grow quickly, create a niche for yourself. The best content creators that I follow on TikTok all put out very similar content for most of their videos. This means, unlike Instagram where it’s great to show what a wildly interesting and eclectic person you are, TikTok users want to know what they’re getting the second your face pops up on that screen. So if you are the sports history guy, be the sports history guy all the time. If you are the top 5 list guy, be the top 5 list guy all the time, and on and on, you get the point. 

Other simple tricks

  • Splice small videos together. Don’t shoot one long video. 
  • 90 seconds to 2 minutes is a sweet spot amount of time. 
  • Add a soft layer of background instrumental music (this feature is found in the app when you are putting the finishing touches on your video) 
  • Label your video across the screen at the start and time it out so that it disappears seconds later. This way a user gets an idea of what the content is immediately and then can focus on you delivering your message thereafter.  
  • Research trending hashtags, they are far more important than whatever you caption your video. 
  • Use closed captions so that people can follow your video without sound. 

Finally, don’t be intimidated by it or snub your nose at it. Anything that helps your brand is worth doing and anything worth doing is worth doing well. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.