I got absolutely nothing accomplished last week and I blame it on 680 The Fan in Atlanta.
Well, I just so happen to be a suffering Braves fan that got overwhelmingly caught up in the playoff run. Every morning, when I woke up, the first thing I did was push the 680 The Fan app on my iPhone to listen to each show’s take on the series against the Dodgers. You would have thought I was in heaven and just figured out I could actually listen to a radio station in Atlanta, while still being a time zone away.
But in the middle of all my blind excitement of not realizing my team was about to blow a 3-1 series lead, I realized that 680 The Fan has one of the most user-friendly apps I’ve experienced.
When I listen to a station online I want simplicity. Make it as easy as possible for me to listen. No ads, no extra clicks, make it easy for me to listen to your radio station. That’s exactly what 680 does. As soon as I click on the app, a LIVE button shines at the top right of the page.
But that’s not even the thing I loved most. The best part was, from the app, I could stream any of the hours from the shows I had already missed. So, even if I was listening to Buck and Hut, during a commercial, I could easily go back and hear what The Front Row had to say earlier that morning about the game. This is not a paid ad. I swear. I legitimately loved the attention to detail 680 The Fan shows to it’s mobile app. I’ll definitely be back, partly because of the great experience I had with the app.
But it also made me realize just about every single sports talk radio station, in some form or fashion, is streaming content throughout the day. That means stations are teaming with iHeartRadio, TuneIn, ESPN and Radio.com to give their listeners more options to listen. So it bears the question, who does it best?
I love this app. I use it frequently, because I think it might be the best streaming app out there. It allows no subscription and an easy listening experience. Plus I can easily stream all of the previous shows I missed. But how about a cool feature I couldnt find on any of the other apps?
On Radio.com, some stations, such as 104.3 The Fan can text or even call the station. So, if Zach Bye has a take on the Broncos I disagree with, I don’t have to Google the text line to the station. I can easily text in or call in to each show I’m listening to.
Radio.com has an alarm feature, which most streaming apps do, but I still don’t see where I’d ever use it. Still, this app is great. Extremely user friendly and easy to navigate.
It feels like you have to have a subscription on this app. If I find the station I want, I have to listen to an ad before it streams. If I want to skip to another station, there’s another ad I have to sit through. Yes, all these problems go away by subscribing to the premium feature, but why would I pay $9.99 a month when I can probably stream what I want in another space? Just out of principle, I wouldn’t give 10 bucks a month for something I can get for free.
TuneIn isn’t a bad app, in fact, there’s a ton of stations that fall under its umbrella, but having to listen to multiple ads gets tiring. Plus, there’s no special feature that sets it apart. It could definitely work on being more user friendly.
iHeart brands itself for ‘Now #1 for podcasting’ and I can see why. IF you open the app, any genre for a podcast can be found. I also like the fact that The Herd with Colin Cowherd runs on loop after the show is over. Plus, there’s even written stories and a direct link to the big topics Cowherd had earlier in the day. Granted, I do have to sit through ads a lot on iHeart, the app gives me a ton of listening options.
To eliminate ads, all I have to pay is $5.99 a month, but like TuneIn, why pay ads when I can consume the shows in other ways for free?
iHeart is definitely making strides to be better and more accessible in the sports radio space, but it’s really thriving right now with streaming music and original podcasts.
There’s rarely, if ever, any drawbacks to being under the ESPN umbrella. Granted, there’s nothing overly special local ESPN affiliates are getting from the network’s app, but they are getting an experience with no ads that cuts straight to the audio. The accessibility is easy and it gives the user what it wants – quick and direct access to the audio.
There’s literally no special features while streaming local stations affiliated with ESPN, but that beats having to listen to ads before listening, any day.
Odds are that your station falls into one of the four corporate apps that were mentioned. In a time where most people are working from home and fewer people are in cars, being accessible is as important as it’s ever been. The focus today should be how you make yourself available to an Amazon Alexa device or an iPhone that puts you and the listener just one tap away.
Sure, maybe you’re a station that has the highest ratings and most name recognition in the market. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be putting more focus into your online app. 680 The Fan has name recognition and heritage in the Atlanta market, yet Dickey Broadcasting sees it fit to have an app that is as user-friendly as possible. Remember, though terrestrial numbers may say you dominate the market, there are other people outside of the area that want to consume your content, too.
Make it easy for them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
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.