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Andy Lindahl Will Find What Is Interesting And Do That

“As you well know, there are plenty of guys out there that just want you to shut up and do what I’m telling you to do. Well I’m the creative entity here. I need you to give me a little more leeway than that.”

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Andy Lindahl was born and raised in a Bronco household. His mom was a TV yeller, which eventually trickled down to him. As a general rule of thumb, those who raise their voice at the TV don’t lack passion. Andy is no exception. He went on to cover Denver sports for more than two decades including a 10-year stint as the Broncos sideline reporter. I find it interesting that Andy views the process of divorcing his fandom as a blessing and a curse. He tells people that he loves the Broncos, but when the team sucks like they have for the last five years, he’s going to say they suck.

Lindahl Exits KDSP &

Two of Andy’s biggest influences include a pair of his former radio partners Mark Schlereth and Scott Hastings. Andy has worked at KOA, Orange & Blue 760, and now at his current home Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM. He hosts afternoon drive with his partner Nate Kreckman. As you will gather while reading this piece, Andy can definitely tell a story. He has a knack for connecting with people and finding things that are memorable. I enjoyed my chat with Andy and my money is on you enjoying our conversation as well.

Brian Noe: What were some of the toughest situations you encountered when you were the Broncos’ sideline reporter?

Andy Lindahl: Super Bowl XLVIII sucked for a lot of reasons. It sucked doing the job because I walked into that locking room and I had developed relationships with guys — Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Knowshon (Moreno) a little bit, Pot Roast (defensive tackle Terrance Knighton) was one of them. All of those guys except for Pot Roast gave me a look like don’t you dare come over here and ask me anything. Nobody wanted to talk in that locker room. As I approached the tunnel, I’m like man this is going to suck. I don’t even know what to ask these guys. That was such an ass kicking. It was so surprising that they lost that badly to the Seahawks.

Eli and Archie were in front of me as I was approaching the locker room because I always gave my headset and mic to Peyton so he could talk to Dave Logan in the booth. I was following Eli and Archie. One of the security guards gave me the look of like hey give him a minute. Eli walked in and not 30 seconds later flew out of there walking three times the speed as what he walked in there. I was like oh God this is going to be bad. Then when I got in there, nobody talked except for Pot Roast. He was always good to me I think in part because he wanted to be in the media. He was like ‘Andy I’ll talk to you. Just come here.’ I remember Dave throws down to me and I started to ask a question and everybody in that room surrounded us to the point where I was getting crushed because he was the only guy that would talk.

Reuben Droughns, I’ll never forget, Reuben Droughns was a guy I was quote-unquote friendly with for a while. He had a block in Jacksonville. This was my first time officially on a regular season game on the sideline. I’m in Jacksonville and it’s 2006 or 2007. Reuben Droughns tripped and fell into John Henderson and broke his leg. Matt Lepsis had already engaged him. It looked like a chop block. The Jacksonville Jaguars thought he did it on purpose. Marcus Stroud comes over to our sideline and starts screaming. That was one of the biggest dudes I had ever seen in pads. I’m kind of peeing down my leg, this guy is so angry.

John Lynch starts screaming back at him. Al Wilson is wanting to fight him. I’m like oh my God, what is going on? The Jaguars were convinced it was a cheap block and from what I was told later, he tripped on the play and fell into the leg of Henderson when Lepsis already had him up. After the game I had to go in there and I looked at Reuben and I asked him what happened on that play, man? He was like what are you talking about? He came back at me in the angriest tone I’ve dealt with in a while. I had to re-ask the question. I was like I’m talking about the play that Henderson got hurt on. From your point of view what happened there? This was the first time I wasn’t used to a guy like that getting upset with me.

I had to get Ronnie Hillman after the 2012 game where Rahim Moore — the Fail Mary as we call it in town — Rahim Moore misjudged that thing. What do you ask him? “Man, you guys had that thing won.” When there’s no next week, how many times do you ask a guy how bad does this suck? The sudden death losses like that are bad.

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BN: A lot of the sports radio model in Denver is the broadcaster asking the ex-jock a question and then getting out of the way. When you’re allowed to do more and show your personality, what is that like for you as a broadcaster? 

AL: Some of the listeners — as you laid out — are programmed in this market to listen to the jock’s opinion and that’s all that matters. Well, the way I try to attack things is I’m going to tell you that it’s not just one man’s opinion; it’s multiple people’s opinions. Whether it’s Jeff Legwold who has been offered scouting jobs in this league and works for ESPN or any of the number of players that I’ve worked with or been around. I used to stand on the sideline and pick Rod Smith’s brain all the time. He would tell me all the time how something was going to play out and it was amazing how often he was right. Mark Schlereth has taken me to his house and he’s run back tape. He’s taught me about the blocking schemes. He’s shown me when things have been blocked right and when they haven’t been, the techniques they should have used. Do I get frustrated that people want to hear from the ex-jock a lot? I do, but I just keep trying it. Nate and I are just going to try to show everybody that two radio guys can get together and have fun doing radio and there’s still a place for it in this world and in this market.

I got lucky because I learned under Scott Hastings. My first job was his producer. We did a show called The Zoo. It was on KOA. Scott had always taught me let’s not focus on just sports stories, let’s focus on guy content. What are the guys talking about? What would you be talking about at the bar or the water cooler? Sometimes that’s not sports. 

There was one time we were doing a show in the offseason. We weren’t sure what we were going to talk about and FOX ran a show about whether the moon landing was fake or not. We talked for three days about that. People wouldn’t quit calling about whether they thought one thing or another as if the moon landing was faked. Scott taught me how to just find what is interesting and do that. Be yourself and don’t be fake. Don’t think you’ve got all the answers. Just be a guy you want to hang out with. That’s what I’ve tried to do.

BN: As you’ve shifted from being a part of the Broncos broadcast to more of a general part of the Denver media, has that affected your approach to covering the team at all?

AL: Man, I’d be lying to you to say that it didn’t. I’m a little more honest about things at times. It’s going to be the master we all serve the way the trends are going. We’re all going to work for state-run media in some ways, right? The Avs and Nuggets are great about things but there are times where I wonder if I’m going to upset someone with my opinion. Now that doesn’t stop me from giving it but I often wonder if I’m going to get called to the office. It hasn’t happened. 

Brian, it’s tough because since I left they’ve gotten worse. I didn’t have to do a lot of criticizing during my run. I did a Broncos talk show every Thursday night for a while. Then I think in 2012 when I got my talk show, they were pretty good in the Manning era by then so there wasn’t too much to criticize.

It was tough being at the Bronco owned station. It was tough talking to Case Keenum every week when you know he might be getting benched for Trevor Simeon. It’s been nothing but fighting about quarterbacks on the airwaves for four or five years. I’m a little more critical of things now. To be honest with you I’m a little more critical of ownership than I probably would have been if I was still there. But I also feel like the last few years watching these kids fight and sue each other in court, that wasn’t going on when I was at the other station. When Tyler Polumbus and I were at Orange & Blue 760, we prided ourselves on still trying to do real radio. We obviously knew that when Chad Kelly got arrested and acted a fool at a Halloween party, we weren’t going to dive heavy into that even though he was kind of the quarterback that everybody wanted to talk about at the time. So yes it does affect some of the on-air decisions. I try to be fair about things but unfortunately what we’ve seen the last couple of years with this team, there’s just not a ton of positive spin you can put out there.

BN: What’s your biggest passion outside of sports radio and family?

AL: Honestly it’s lacrosse. If I were ever to leave radio, I wish I could coach a college lacrosse team. I coached high school. When Tyler Polumbus and I started doing our thing, it allowed me to go coach a high school team here. I coached the lower levels. 

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I love coaching. I love helping kids. I feel like if it wasn’t for guys like Hastings and Logan giving me my shot and helping a young guy, there are a lot of people that just kind of taught me how to do things that didn’t have to, so I always try to pass it on. 

Lacrosse is my passion. I love being around kids. I love seeing the light go on. But I want to be competitive. I’m not here to be your dad coach that’s going to tell everybody they’re doing great. We work in a competitive business. We have to take honesty. You have to look at what the scoreboard truly is. I want to teach kids you’ve got to attack the world that way. Because guys like you and me aren’t making it in what we do if we don’t view the world the way that it is. I always trusted Scotty and Dave because I thought even when they were hard on me I know it came from a place of love so I try to be that kind of influence there too. If I could coach a college team I would but it’s not going to happen.

BN: Football players get asked if they want their kids to play football. I was thinking about that with sports radio. Would you want your kids to choose sports radio as a profession?

AL: Yeah, if they love it like I do. I love what I do and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know that I love that you publish this but we are on the record, I’ve got a second job at Starbucks right now. Everybody raises their eyes, what do you mean, you’re a radio host? Yeah, you know what, radio doesn’t pay what it used to. I took a little bit of a haircut when I switched jobs. I didn’t get all my salary back. I hope that I will next contract negotiation but I want to be in it so bad. I used to bartend so serving people coffee and interacting with people is not really that hard a thing for me and it’s not as awful as some people react like I can’t believe you’re working there. Well, it’s not really that bad. I want to be in radio bad enough that I will work two jobs right now. But I’ll tell you when I was transitioning a year ago, I wondered should I still do this?

I almost went and sold insurance. People think I’m kidding. Bobby Pesavento is one of the CU players that I got to know covering him. I helped him get hooked up with the Crush and he was like I’ll return the favor. I will hire you and you can sell corporate insurance if you want to. I thought it was time to quit being Peter Pan and go get a big boy job. But I love what I do and it’s not hard for me to do it. I’m never upset I’ve got to go to work. Nate and I have been frustrated when the Avs or Nuggets have a game and we don’t get to do a show. If you love something that much then I’d encourage any child of mine to do it. I was in a bad depressed place when I wasn’t doing radio shows and I guess it’s obvious that’s why I decided I’d stay in it. I love what I do.

BN: Could you ever see yourself covering teams that you aren’t as passionate about in another market?

AL: I’ve always wondered that. I don’t know if I have a desire to prove it. I tried to go to Tampa Bay and I tried to move to Austin one time earlier in my career. Here’s the weird thing about me; I’ll do radio anywhere. I’ve become friends with Judson Richards and Nick Hardwick out in San Diego. I’d go to San Diego because I dig the town’s vibe. I dig the weather. I’m a Colorado kid so I don’t do well with humidity. I don’t do well with gray all the time. Going any further east than where I am would probably be a little tricky. I’ve got family in Houston. I was offered a sports director job down there. To me Houston is the Seventh Ring of Hell with its humidity so I want no part of living there full time. I’ve heard Austin was cool, which is why I would go there. If it’s a football town I think I could do it.

Here’s what sucks, Brian, I don’t think I’d move because I just don’t know financially. When I was going to go to Austin, they shut that station down. It was the home of the Longhorns and they flipped it from sports to news six months after I would have moved there. I just don’t know. I’m 46. I’ve got two kids. I own a house. I just don’t know that I need to chase the dream necessarily anymore but I don’t want to quit doing talk shows. If you let me live here, I’ll do radio anywhere. We’ve been doing shows from our basement since March.

I guess I just get worried about people’s commitment to things. Kroenke has shown great commitment to us. I love working for Dave Tepper. I’ve had a lot of great bosses, but Dave has a game plan and Dave has explained the game plan to me. I just really believe what Dave Tepper is doing. I think a lot of the people I’ve worked for and yet Dave is still the best because I’ve never had a guy give me the plan so that you can buy in. I need to work for a guy like Dave Tepper. As you well know, there are plenty of guys out there that just want you to shut up and do what I’m telling you to do. Well I’m the creative entity here. I need you to give me a little more leeway than that.

I’m hoping this works because I don’t want to make any more tough decisions. I know I’m a Denver guy. I know for some people they’ve said maybe you need to get out and test yourself elsewhere. Why? I know this town. I know this community. I know what they want. I’ve been on Patriots radio where I’ve tried to break down why I thought the Broncos were going to win. “Oh you’re a homer, you suck. You’re not negative enough.” All right man, that’s cool. But that’s not how we do it out here. We help each other out here. It’s a competitive situation but people are polite. 

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It’s a different vibe out here than the East Coast. And the LA guys; it’s all about getting seen and getting heard. I respect it. I’m not knocking the way anybody does it but I do think there’s an advantage for me to understand how it operates here, and to your point, I’d have to go to some place that vibes like Denver for it to work. I am not everybody’s cup of tea and I know it.

BSM Writers

Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content

Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.

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USA Today

When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.

“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.

Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:

1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”

2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.

The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.

I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.

Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”

There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.

First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.

The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.

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BSM Writers

The Client Just Said YES, Now What?

We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.

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One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!

We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.

When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.

They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.

A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 74

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This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.

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