George Wrighster Is Trying To Open A Lot of Doors
“As you know, it’s easy to just pump out hot takes. But when it’s actually something that you believe and you can support it with some stats and data or personal experience that makes it believable.”
I’d describe George Wrighster as a man that has controlled strength. He’s motivated by obstacles and driven by naysayers, but it isn’t written all over his face.
It’s a bit like Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers’ quarterback wasn’t visibly emotional when he slid to the 24th overall pick in 2005, or when his team drafted Jordan Love to possibly take his spot. Best believe Rodgers hasn’t forgotten about being slighted though. I think George is similar. The former NFL tight end is a competitor, but he might not let you see that your doubts ticked him off. He’ll just get back to work and grind so that one day you are eating your words.
George has achieved a lot in sports radio within a relatively short period of time. He can be heard on two national platforms — FOX Sports Radio and SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio. His brand new show on Sirius began two short months ago. The Oregon grad shares some interesting thoughts about not being pigeonholed as a former athlete and also what it’s like to help change the landscape in a mostly white dominated industry.
I’ve known plenty of things about George, like how he rages against heavy metal music and trashes Velveeta cheese. Hey, we can’t all be perfect. But the Oregon grad touches on many things that aren’t common knowledge. George shares a wise thought about building a community. He unveils what got him listening to sports radio in the first place when he never listened during his playing days. George talks about the show that freaked him out the most and also shares a list of his strong goals. Makes sense though. It’s his controlled strength at work again. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: How’s everything going with the new gig at Sirius?
George Wrighster: It’s going really good. I got a chance to do a couple of special projects too. I did an MLK special with Kirk Morrison and some stuff with the college football national championship. I hosted some other shows on the network. It’s cool getting more opportunities and more reps, trying to get better.
BN: What’s the main goal you try to accomplish when doing shows, especially your new one?
GW: I want people to feel educated and entertained when they listen to the show. It’s important to me that people also feel like this is a place where they can get the truth and honesty and not just shtick. As you know, it’s easy to just pump out hot takes. But when it’s actually something that you believe and you can support it with some stats and data or personal experience that makes it believable. I think that’s the best thing that you can do. We all see sometimes where people say things and you’re like there’s no way this dude believes that. He’s just saying it because it’s going to get people riled up.
I try to talk about stories in a different way that people normally may not. I try to approach it from the human side of things and not get too far deep in the weeds on the X’s and O’s, but kind of how athletes are real people; how these things impact their sport and their decisions. We also talk a little politics on the show — how politics and business intersect sports in certain aspects too. We’re not debating propositions. No, we’re not doing all that, but we are at that intersection where sports does intersect with politics and business. We do go there.
BN: What do you remember most about your first show on Sirius?
GW: It’s funny because as many shows as I’ve done — solo, with other people, all of that — I remember the first night that the light came on and it was just me. I was nervous that entire day, dude. I went walking around the neighborhood because I would take the baby on a walk every day. I was nervous that whole day. I was like oh my God, what if when the light comes on, I can’t say anything? Nothing comes out?
It’s funny to think about because you’ve done it so many times, but the fact that it was all on me, it was my show, solo, it just hit me like, dude, I’m responsible for this whole ship. But the good part is, I was like if the ship sinks, if the car crashes, it’s going to be because I gave it everything that I had and it just didn’t work. It’s not going to be because I let somebody else control my future.
BN: What happened once you cracked the mic that first night?
GW: Every show has different clocks, how long each segment is and all of that. Our first segment for the opening monologue is between 15 and 22 minutes max. It was funny because that first 20 minutes, or however long I went, it felt like it was two hours long. It was crazy to me because I record my podcast sometimes for 30 minutes straight with nobody talking to me. It’s just me talking to the camera because I do it on a live stream, nobody responding, not taking comments, so it was just funny that it felt so long when I had to do it all by myself. But now it breezes by.
BN: How did that opportunity come about for you at Sirius?
GW: This was years in the making. This is where you say relationships matter and keep banging on the door and then one day it might open. Back in 2014 I finally got into the NFL’s broadcast boot camp. That’s where former and current NFL players can go get media training and get in front of executives. There are executives and actual decision makers from FOX, from ESPN, CBS, a bunch of places, and former athletes who have made it. You get a lot of workshops and they teach you how to interview. They expose you to TV and radio because a lot of times people don’t know which lane they want to be in or if they truly want to be in it. So you get big exposure.
When I got back from it one of the people that I met there was Steve Cohen. Not the Mets’ Steve Cohen, but the Steve Cohen who, at that point in time he may have been the program director or Senior Vice President over at Sirius. I just followed up with him. Every six months, four months I’d shoot him an email telling him what I was doing, letting him know I was available if anything came up.
Fast forward about four months ago, I got an email from Steve Cohen. He was like yo, we may have an opening over at Sirius. What are you doing now? That was weird because I hadn’t emailed Steve in a few months, but I was going to email him soon. I keep these reminders to email all of these people. All of these times he was always like yo George, I’ll keep you on the radar if anything comes up. He sent that e-mail, followed up, and then I tested. Apparently I did pretty well. They offered me the job and here we are.
BN: Was the test a demo or a fill-in show?
GW: It was a demo because they do things a little bit different over at Sirius. If you’re not under contract with them or don’t have an agreement with them, doing an on-air demo there doesn’t happen, I don’t believe. We did it just like an actual show. We produced an actual show except for it was only an hour and a half long. We took breaks; so I had to talk to commercial break and interview guests. And yeah, we did it like a mock show.
BN: What was it about sports radio where you said you know what, this is the road I want to go down?
GW: I’ve done TV, and I do want to do more TV as well, but radio allows you to communicate with people in a different way. In TV you’re speaking in sound bites a lot more. You don’t get a chance to expound, not as much storytelling. With radio you get a chance to build an audience and communicate with them. They become part of your family, part of building a community.
I saw that with a guy out here in LA named Fred Roggin. Fred just builds a community with his family. It’s the same thing with Petros Papadakis on his show Petros and Money. They build a community and the people are so invested. I like that. The idea that you don’t just build a community for that station; you build your community. So when you do move locations or you do change because it’s business — sometimes contract disputes happen, sometimes companies are bought and sold or whatever — then your audience is portable because that’s your family.
BN: When you talk about community, it makes me think about race. Sports radio is a very white dominated industry. As a black host, do you have that at the forefront of your mind that if you do a good job, it might open the door for others?
GW: Absolutely. I look at this as a two-fold thing. Yes there is a racial element and I’ll talk about that next, but the first thing is as a former athlete, they will pigeonhole you as just the sport that you played. That’s the first thing. I started writing to make sure that didn’t happen. Writing on other sports, commenting on other sports and all of that.
As an athlete I didn’t want to be pigeonholed into just football, and also pigeonholed just as an analyst. When you can host the show and be an analyst it opens up more doors for you. So now I don’t have to sit in the two chair. I can sit in the one chair also. It just gives you more diversity. As a former athlete, opening up doors as being a solo host, that’s hard to do.
But as far as a host of color, especially those who sit in a single chair, that’s tough. There aren’t a lot. There are a lot more who do two-man shows, and mind you they do a great job, but I think there is something to be said about the lack of diversity. Colin Cowherd obviously is one of the best to ever do it. So are Dan Patrick and Jim Rome. My goal is to ascend to that level the way some little kid can look at me and say oh wow; I can do this if I want to.
BN: I interviewed LaVar Arrington. He called it having a babysitter when the radio guy is in the one seat and the former athlete is in the two seat. His thought was hey man; two athletes can have a good show too. What are your thoughts on how the former athlete is typically paired with the radio guy?
GW: Yeah, he’s right. LaVar is right when he says that it’s like the babysitter, or the hall monitor where that person has to be the quote-unquote adult in the room. Truthfully it’s literally about the mechanics — tossing to break, watching the clock, understanding how to progress a story, how to manage callers — all the mechanics. That was something that I always pressed. Even when we started doing the show on FOX, I was like yo, I want to have more responsibility on the show. I think that once people see that you want that responsibility, and that you actually will take it seriously, and that you’ll go practice it when nobody’s listening, and then when you get the opportunity you do a good job at it, then they say oh okay, let’s throw him a bone.
Eventually something bad happens. I remember one day on FOX during the Sunday show I do now with Dan Beyer, something happened to Dan’s mic or it was a power issue or something, and he was out. I had to do it for a couple of segments and it was like, oh okay, cool, so now we know that he can do this. The more and more that you do it, then people can believe and trust because the thing that they want the most is to know that you’re not going to burn the house down. That it’s not like Home Alone where you’re going to come back and the house is ransacked or Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead where you’re going to have a party. No, you’re just going to go in there, live life like normal, put out a good show that’s entertaining, and everything will be fine.
BN: Did you listen to sports radio much during your playing days?
GW: Absolutely not. No. Not at all. The thing that started getting me to listen to sports radio was Marcellus Wiley because I had played with him. We were friends, and I just wanted to support him. Then I realized, good God, I love sports radio.
My kids sometimes get annoyed, they’re like dad, do we have to listen to talk radio today? They already know that if it’s 12 o’clock here at home, I’m probably listening to Finebaum. I don’t know why I like Finebaum so much especially during college football season. Schein On Sports. I watch Colin. I like Skip and Shannon. I tune in to Steven A. sometimes. I appreciate how much work they really put in. Yeah it’s easier when you have an army of writers and staff and researchers, but you still have to go out there and deliver it.
BN: Is there anything else about sports radio in general beyond hot takes that turns you off for you when you listen?
GW: I usually only listen to people that I like. The only thing that makes me change the dial now is if it’s a topic that I don’t want to hear about, or I’ve felt like I’ve heard too many times. I’ll turn the dial, but I like this person, so I’ll be back. It’s just I’m tired of you today. I love my kids but some days I want to go to dinner all by myself, or with my wife and leave them at home. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them, but I need a break.
BN: Who have you learned the most from in sports radio?
GW: Dude, easy answer, this guy named Brett Winterble who I hosted my first show with on The Beast 980 here in LA. Brett had been a producer for conservative talk radio but he was a huge sports fan. He was the adult in the room.
Brett actually now has a huge talk show in North Carolina. He just filled in for Rush Limbaugh and had like the highest ratings for any fill-in there. Brett literally had been through the grinder of ascending in this business. We had a producer that was absentee at best. Brett taught me how to produce a show, how to cut sound, how to come up with content. He taught me things that if I were in a normal situation with a producer and all that stuff, they would have done a lot of that work already, so I wouldn’t have learned how to do it as quickly. It would have taken me years to learn something I learned in eight months because it was a crash course. It was either fail or do it.
Brett was just the consummate professional, freaking hard working, just a grinder. He’s just a smart guy too. He showed me the ropes in this business. He gave me a lot of valuable tools and experiences from his life that I wouldn’t have ordinarily gotten. I owe a lot of credit to Brett.
BN: You’ve had a number of partners. Have you taken elements that you think work from those other hosts and molded it to your own style at all?
GW: I would say yes. From Brett I learned that this was his livelihood. He was always the adult in the room. He was always going to make the right decision for the show. To make sure that things did not go off the rails. I took that from Brett.
Oh, I forgot somebody else I learned a lot from was Petros. Petros is just Petros. I think that a lot of times when people get into this business — and I fell victim to it too — of I have to be radio guy. I have to be TV guy when the thing that people really connect with the most is you being you. That’s what Petros showed me was just be you. You don’t have to be anybody else; just be the best George that you can possibly be. I don’t know if there’s anybody more themselves than Petros.
BN: Goals. Is there anything specifically that you want to accomplish in sports radio or beyond?
GW: Yes. I would like to have a simulcast like Colin does. Be number one on the Talkers 100. What that would mean for me, it would be a sense of accomplishment in my second career doing something that wasn’t so physical like sports. Doing something that was foreign, working at it, and then reaching that goal.
I do want to have a simulcast with radio and TV at the same time. But my ultimate goal, if I could be doing either my radio show or a podcast version of it like Joe Rogan does, while hosting a show on the Food Network and College GameDay on the weekends, I would be the happiest person in the whole world.
Brian Noe is a columnist for BSM and an on-air host heard nationwide on FOX Sports Radio’s Countdown To Kickoff. Previous roles include stops in Portland, OR, Albany, NY and Fresno, CA. You can follow him on Twitter @TheNoeShow or email him at email@example.com.
Ian Rapoport Is Competing Against Everyone
“When I’m working, when I’m not working – my brain is still going on overdrive.”
The 2023 NFL Draft was a weekend filled with speculation, intrigue and musing among football fans and experts alike. After two quarterbacks were selected with the first two picks – C.J. Stroud by the Jacksonville Jaguars; and Bryce Young by the Houston Texans – Ian Rapoport had the inclination that something was about to break at the event in Kansas City.
The third pick of the night was held by the Arizona Cardinals, but through previous intel, Rapoport knew there was a chance the team would trade it. His phone then lit up with a text message from a source that simply read, “Texans trading.” Receiving a message of this magnitude takes years of networking, credibility and immense trust from the people you cover. Rapoport has worked hard to attain all of them.
He replied by asking, “Did the Texans trade up to three?,” as the team was not set to pick again until No. 12 overall. Once he got confirmation of the scenario, he began to visibly shake in excitement and captured the attention of the NFL Network team.
“I sit there with a camera in front of me that’s not always on air – this is during the Draft – and the producer gets in my ear and he goes, ‘Can you go on air with whatever you have?,’ and I just say, ‘Yes.’” Rapoport recalled. “And then I hear Rich Eisen go, ‘Ian, you have news,’ and I was able to break that the Texans have traded up to three to go get Will Anderson.”
This is the craft through which Rapoport has cultivated a successful journalism career, ultimately distinguishing him as NFL Network’s goto insider. He hardly ever separates himself from the job, equipped with an unparalleled work ethic to ensure he can communicate messages accurately and in a timely manner. While some people may argue that he is in direct competition with others in his position, such as Adam Schefter of ESPN, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports, the reality of the situation is that it is Rapoport vs. the world.
“It’s such a small world now and everyone is interconnected – and with Twitter, literally anyone could break a story and have it go viral,” Rapoport said. “Obviously, you want everything first, but really you’re competing against everyone that exists because anyone could get the story at any moment.”
Work-life balance in such a role is usually quite insurmountable in today’s dynamic, interminable breaking news environment. Rapoport strives to find some level of normalcy in his life by playing golf and attending his sons’ sporting events. In the end though, he knows the world of football never sleeps, and it is up to him to remain in the know at all hours of the day, essentially always on standby to break the next big story.
“I do not turn my phone off because that’s actually way more stressful,” Rapoport said. “At least now when my phone’s on and near me, if something crazy happens, I can react rather than having a fake relaxation moment and then being caught off guard with something.”
Rapoport recognized that journalism was the field for him almost immediately after stepping onto the Columbia University campus. He worked his way up at The Dial to ultimately become its associate sports editor. In the summer preceding his senior year, he landed a coveted internship with ESPN where he gained invaluable experience in the world of television production.
By the time he graduated, Rapoport envisioned himself becoming a nationally acclaimed sportswriter, but he knew it was going to require he start small. Three hundred eleven job applications and two interviews later, he landed a part-time role with The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y. covering high school sports. It gave him a start in the highly-competitive business – and kept him close to home while trying many new things.
Two years later, he found himself moving from the bright lights of New York City to the quaint town of Starkville, Mississippi for a notable opportunity. He had landed a job covering the Mississippi State Bulldogs for The Clarion-Ledger in the nearby capital city of Jackson and was under the direction of sports editor Rusty Hampton.
“I knew how to write, but I really didn’t know how to report,” Rapoport said. “He was probably the best [at] showing me, ‘This is all about reporting. It’s all about telling people something they don’t know rather than how well you can pen a sentence.’ To be really valuable to society or your newspaper, you really need to inform rather than entertain. I think he was probably the first and best person to teach me that.”
After spending two years in Mississippi, Rapoport became a beat reporter for The Birmingham News tasked with following the Alabama Crimson Tide. Just months into his new role, the program made a coaching change and hired Nick Saban, who has since led the program to six national titles.
Rapoport learned the thoroughness necessary to cover the Southeastern Conference as he rapidly watched the program become a perennial contender. In turn, he became an eminent college football reporter and his work began to be consumed nationally.
Simultaneously, Bill Belichick, another accomplished football head coach in his own right, was in the process of trying to lead the New England Patriots back to championship glory. Known to be stoic and restrained in his press conferences, reporters asking him questions knew extrapolating answers was not the easiest of tasks.
When Rapoport saw a job opening to cover the team with the Boston Herald that required NFL experience, he knew that he was not qualified verbatim per se. Yet he figured the experience he had in covering Saban and Alabama would serve him well in the role, and articulated such in a protracted email to the newspaper’s editors. His strategy worked, proving why Rapoport is considered one of the industry’s best communicators at the micro and macro levels.
“You don’t see a lot of sources within the Patriots or sources within Alabama – there’s not a lot of that,” Rapoport said. “So I learned to report despite that and kind of work the edges and get the information I needed, despite head coaches who weren’t always the most forthcoming with information.”
NFL Network oftentimes has local beat reporters on the air to interact with studio talent and give their perspectives about teams, and it was something Rapoport did while at the Boston Herald. He had no television experience outside of other appearances he made on Comcast New England and certainly no intention to pursue the medium as a career.
In Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants overcame the New England Patriots, who were undefeated for the year entering the game. Rapoport was on hand for the proceedings, and shortly afterwards was called into a meeting with NFL Network executives.
He didn’t know he was interviewing for a job until he asked just why he had been summoned. He expressed his lack of television experience to the executives, who said the network would teach him everything he needed to know.
Once the meeting concluded, Rapoport called his wife, who he had met while living in Starkville, Mississippi, and told her what had just happened. She tempered his expectations, warning him not to get his hopes up as he remained optimistic. One month later, Rapoport received a job offer and found himself moving once again – this time to the Lone Star State.
“I hired an agent and moved to Dallas and basically spent the next year reporting on the Cowboys and some other things being very, very bad at TV, but learning and eventually figuring it out,” Rapoport said. “At the time, this guy, Eric Weinberger, who was our boss, kind of mentioned to me the possibility of transitioning [me] from reporter to insider.”
Rapoport acknowledged that he did not have the contacts necessary to effectively work as a league insider for a national outlet, but through his years of experience, he knew how to network and he was ready and willing to take the challenge.
Once he began the new position, Rapoport, along with reporter Michael Silver, was on the road for Thursday Night Football and contributed to its pregame and halftime coverage. While his television skills improved, Rapoport was hard at work bolstering his contacts and took somewhat of a geographical approach.
Every time he arrived in a new city, he would contact anyone and everyone he could conjure up, including general managers, scouts and head coaches. If he could not schedule a meeting time with them, he would introduce himself by roaming the sidelines at practices and before games. He engaged in a similar practice before the NFL Draft Combine, training camps and the Super Bowl along with other premier events, always staying focused on the task at hand.
“It probably took me five or six years to get a baseline of sources where if something happened, I had someone to call,” Rapoport said. “And then it took me a couple more years to get to the point where I would know before a lot of people when something was about to happen. It’s all a multi-step process, and just [the] layering and layering and layering of sources is really the sort of engine that drives this thing.”
Ian Rapoport always attempts to triangulate his sources to verify information before he releases it publicly. There is no guarantee sources are always truthful or acting in a professional manner. Therefore, it is incumbent on a journalist to ensure the validity of content before publishing it themselves.
“If you’re only right some of the time, then none of it is really worth it,” Rapoport expressed, “because then you say something and they’re like, ‘Well, wow, that’s a big story if this is true.’ The whole point of doing this is when I pop up on TV or when people see my Twitter alerts or whatever, they have to know that it’s true – they have to know.”
One day, Rapoport was having a conversation with a source and discovered through their conversation that Rob Gronkowski had informed the New England Patriots that he would return to the game of football under the stipulation he be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reunite with quarterback Tom Brady. There had been much speculation pertaining to Gronkowski’s future after he had worked as an NFL analyst with FOX Sports, and now Rapoport realized he had a monumental scoop – that is, if it was true. Within six minutes, Rapoport verified the story with three sources, contacted his editor and reported to the world Gronkowski’s intentions. The story was picked up virtually everywhere.
“I just think about the job all the time, and I make little lists for myself of things that I need to track down, and I just make a lot of phone calls for it,” Rapoport said. “When I’m working, when I’m not working – my brain is still going on overdrive. It ends up just a brain full of football thoughts, and then I spend the rest of the time trying to figure out what I can learn from it.”
Working for a league-owned entity can sometimes epitomize an inherent conflict of interest. For Rapoport however, he has found working at NFL Network to be hassle-free. He knows, however, the nature of his job means he will not be universally liked.
“Whatever you do, you’re going to report and the people you report on are going to be happy or upset or neutral – or whatever it is,” Rapoport said. “I’m never going to criticize a referee, for instance, because that’s a nuanced thing and people might say, ‘NFL criticizes referees.’ I’m never going to do that, but I wouldn’t do that anyway.”
Rapoport continues to appear on a variety of external media outlets, perhaps most notably The Pat McAfee Show, which recently concluded its “Up to Something Season.” The grand conclusion of the proceedings was McAfee announcing he would be bringing his show to ESPN’s linear and digital platforms starting in the fall.
While McAfee is retaining creative control and has expressed on multiple occasions that his show will not be changing, many have wondered whether insiders employed by other networks will be able to continue making appearances. It is an answer Rapoport himself does not know, nor has he asked about.
“When the news broke, my phone blew up with all sorts of people saying all sorts of different things,” Rapoport said. “I have no idea. I really don’t.”
Even so, Rapoport is elated for McAfee and his team taking the next step in their show’s journey and is genuinely glad to see them succeed. He does not think McAfee’s goal was to reshape sports media, but rather to cultivate a distinctive sports talk program built for fans and today’s generation of consumers.
“You get to know someone and you think they’re a good person and you respect the way they work. Some people have success and some people have a little success and some people don’t. It’s really rare to see someone who has every bit of success that’s essentially possible and deserves every bit of it, and that’s kind of how I thought about Pat. It’s really cool, honestly. He’s built it himself.”
It was on McAfee’s show where another prominent football insider – Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports – said it would be a matter of “when,” not “if” the NFL would have games seven days per week. While devoted football fans like Rapoport are open to such a proposition, he is not sure the league would ever go that far.
“I don’t even know that it would affect my schedule that much,” he said. “It sort of doesn’t matter. I’ll report all year round anyway.”
Derek Futterman is a contributing editor and sports media reporter for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Face-to-Face Sales Meetings Have Never Been More Valuable
“With the increase in virtual meetings, new buyer preferences, limited time, and better tech, we have our work cut out to get the F2F.”
When did you last attend a face-to-face (F2F) in-person sales call? Let’s imagine for a second.
In New York, Sarah, a determined sports radio salesperson, got tired of chasing a major client for months. Despite her calls, emails, and text, she couldn’t break through to get a meeting.
Throwing caution to the wind, Sarah decided to go for it. She loaded her deck and took her burning desire via airplane to Florida to make the pitch. She showed up unannounced at the client’s office and startled the decision-maker. She was given the meeting and won over the client, getting a substantial annual contract and a movie deal in Hollywood.
We have all seen that storyline. F2F meetings used to be the obvious choice over a phone call, and most buyers were open to that idea. We even conducted market trips to meet our buyers in person and create better relationships.
With the increase in virtual meetings, new buyer preferences, limited time, and better tech, we have our work cut out to get the F2F. Lots of us work and listen from home.
Gartner Research points out that live, in person selling is superior to virtual selling in financial services or, as I think, in radio sales. Now, prospecting new clients F2F is much more difficult. You have never met them, you don’t know who you are looking for, and gatekeepers and remote decision-makers make walk-ins more challenging.
How about getting out and seeing your current or former clients F2F? 65% of outside account executives attain quota, 10% more often than inside reps. Here are some simple strategies to get outside and F2F:
STAY IN TOUCH
Turn the sales faucet on ‘drip’ and contact your current clients with whatever works: phone calls, emails, or texts. Tell them you are checking in to see if anything has changed, give them a local business lead, or share your latest insight on their favorite team. When doing so, tell them you want to meet F2F and go deep into the next quarter’s ad plan or a new idea to get them back on the air. They may start looking forward to your communication.
Schedule an annual review ahead of their busiest time of year to review the upcoming messaging in ads. Go over what worked or didn’t last year. Share a success story of a similar advertiser in another market or show them a new opportunity that fits.
Be upfront that with F2F, we can get more specific, work with better feedback, and partner on hitting their goals. Be the person who looks ahead and helps keep your client focused.
Organize workshops for your current clients. Teach that about streaming, OTT, or Google ads. Get your digital person involved. Let them know you are bringing in other local businesspeople they may want to know or network with and meet F2F! A Mortgage broker may want to meet a realtor who wants to meet a wealthy local businessperson interested in meeting the local head coach. Stand out as a leader in the industry and watch clients brag about working with you.
HIT A TRADE SHOW
Attend trade shows where your current clients will be. This will show you are serious about their business and want to stay current so you can learn and earn. Set up a meeting over coffee or a drink. Share what you learned.
Client Appreciation Events held at your town’s most meaningful events or places. Do whatever it takes to get hospitality tents at big games and concert suites to show appreciation and bond with your current clients. Host a luncheon at the hottest new local restaurant. Focus on providing an atmosphere or experience everyone wants, but not many can attend. Be the exclusive person in town.
GET PERSONAL REFERRALS
Leverage your existing client relationships to seek referrals. Do it in person. Tell them you want to see them and ask for help and advice. Ask for introductions to potential new clients they know, and you will be surprised how much they like working with you.
Bring your Digital manager to them and do a free review of their SEO, PPC, whatever. Working off your client’s pc and bringing them an expert at no charge or obligation is much easier. Watch your partnership grow by providing so much expertise at no extra expense.
Don’t forget the value of F2F meetings. It’s a great way to build trust, connect, and unlock new opportunities. We are in a people business doing business with tons of local directs who still make most of their money serving retail customers F2F. Let’s get out and sell!
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
All Jason Timpf Needed Was A Moment of Clarity
“I didn’t know it until after I was hired, but they said they played my video for Colin and he knew right away that I could do this.”
There was once a time when Jason Timpf always included Colin Cowherd in his commute to work. As he made his morning drive to a sales job at Verizon, The Herd was appointment listening each morning for Timpf. The ex-college basketball player would marvel at Cowherd’s ability to make relatable references and break down all of the same basketball games he would watch the night before.
One of the unique things Timpf can remember from listening to The Herd during that time was Cowherd saying if FOX ever put someone in front of him, he could tell in five seconds if that individual had the skills to be a host. It was far from a hot take on the Lakers, but still a distinct moment that stuck with Timpf for many years. Little did he know at the time but Cowherd would soon give a five-second evaluation of Timpf’s career.
Jason Timpf was a late-bloomer in basketball. He played college hoops at an NAIA school in Utah, but not until his third year, after being a regular student the first two. After graduating, he pursued a basketball career overseas in India. However, after the league folded, he left the game for a normal job in the States.
There was a real desire for Timpf to get into the sports media business, but he was having difficulties finding the right fit. He wanted advice on the best way to start, but the tips he received just didn’t feel like the right initial path.
“I’d hear, hey, go bang on a radio station’s door and ask if you can work the soundboard,” said Timpf. “Or, try to go to a journalism school. Another big one that everyone was doing was the SB Nation blogs and FanSided blogs. I briefly tried to do that a little bit. But none of it was materializing the way that I had hoped.”
But then the lightbulb went off for Timpf and it happened during the middle of a podcast interview. In October of 2020, Jason Maples of Blue Wire reached out to Timpf to talk hoops on his podcast. It was in the middle of that interview when it all made sense. It felt exactly like the camaraderie he enjoyed with his old teammates and friends talking basketball. It was relaxed, fun and what he used to do for enjoyment. The perfect fit had just found Timpf organically.
“It was, ‘this is it,’” said Timpf. “‘This is how I want to do it.’ It was like a moment of clarity. Like, this is the way I want to talk about the game. Fortunately, I was working in real estate at the time, so I was super flexible, so I literally was just trying to fake it until I made it.”
While Timpf was grinding away on his new platform choice, he was constantly putting out his content on social media. For a handful of years, he had used Twitter as an outlet for basketball talk – not because he was trying to build his brand, but because it was his preferred method of sharing his takes during and after basketball games.
“My wife actually played basketball in college but she, like a lot of people, got out of it and was like, ‘actually I’m so sick of basketball, since it’s all I did growing up, that I’d rather not talk about it,’” laughed Timpf.
As Timpf had built up years of basketball takes on Twitter, he also built up followers. Not a crazy amount, but enough to have regular interactions with several basketball fans. He had no idea at the time, though he remembers occasionally interacting with him, but one of his followers in the beginning was Logan Swaim, who just happens to be Head of Content at The Volume.
Being such a huge fan of Cowherd, Timpf was absolutely familiar with The Volume, a company started by the FOX Sports Radio host. In fact, during his first plunge into podcasts, he quickly took note of how much success The Volume was having with instant reaction and video content. He wanted to emulate what they were doing and would host a Twitter Space after each Lakers game.
Swaim kept up with Timpf’s journey and continued to be impressed with what he saw. He was so impressed, in fact, that a video eventually made it in front of Cowherd’s eyes. It was the moment Timpf had always heard about while driving to his job at Verizon. Cowherd was about to make a declaration on Timpf’s abilities.
“I didn’t know it until after I was hired, but they said they played my video for Colin and he knew right away that I could do this,” Timpf said. “That was a huge boost of confidence for me, because it meant somebody I deeply respected believed I could work in this business.”
Timpf made his dream come true. He was offered a job by The Volume hosting Hoops Tonight. As much of a dream as it was when he was initially hired, the experience since has been nothing but ideal for Timpf. He gets to cover his favorite sport the way he wants to cover it.
“When I first started and Logan and I were structuring out the show, he kinda viewed it as my show would be the slower, more methodical pace, where I work through my thought process of a game. And also that I’d be a guest on other Volume shows for more conversational podcasts. I really wanted to break down pick and roll coverage. It’s just going to take me a while, so trying to do that in a debate show format or conversational format can get hard. It’s a place where I can let more of my crazy depth out. And I can also have a side format where it’s more conversational.”
Timpf has learned prep for podcasts is one of the biggest elements to being successful. As Hoops Tonight continues to draw impressive numbers over audio and YouTube, he’s figured out the best method to prepare for a long-form podcast where he’s hosting solo.
“I digest the game from the simple concept of how the game was won,” said Timpf. “Where was it won? There’s 100-something possessions in this game, there’s seven different storylines and several runs and sequences and sways in momentum, but what’s the one? Usually I’ll target that first in the opening segment of the show.
“While I’m watching the game I’ll take ancillary notes. About five minutes before I record, I sift through everything I’ve written down and limit it down to the things I think are most important. But generally the flow of the show is how the game was won.”
The whole experience has been gratifying and a full-circle moment in many ways for Timpf. Not only has it been vindicating to do things his way and see it become a success, but he’s gotten to do it with someone who he considers an idol.
Sure, Timpf always envisioned growing up he would be talking to Cowherd as a pro athlete, but talking to him as a colleague is certainly the next best thing. So when he got the call to talk with Cowherd during last year’s West Conference Finals, he didn’t hesitate.
“I was so incredibly nervous, as you could imagine,” laughed Timpf. “But I immediately remember him making me feel comfortable and confident. It immediately calmed me down.
“This is probably my favorite part of the entire experience, I think a lot of people think that these networks try to shove people in certain directions and The Volume has given me such freedom to cover the game exactly the way I want to and nobody is telling me to say crazy stuff. Nobody is pushing me in certain directions, it’s like total creative freedom. The way that Logan and Colin have been letting me do me, so to speak, has been so cool. To see my version of what I want it to look like makes me feel vindicated for talking about it the way I want to.”
Tyler McComas is a columnist for BSM and a sports radio talk show host in Norman, OK where he hosts afternoon drive for SportsTalk 1400. You can find him on Twitter @Tyler_McComas or you can email him at TylerMcComas08@yahoo.com.