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The Talent Vote: Sports Talk Afternoon Shows

Everyday a new Top 20 is released, I will turn to a few talents in those same categories with a simple question: If you had a vote, who would be #1 on your ballot?

Demetri Ravanos

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The BSM Top 20s are generators. They generate clicks, comments, and conversation in our industry. Every year, JB reaches out to dozens of PDs and executives to generate those lists.

I thought it might be fun this year to add a new twist and let talent get in on the conversation. Everyday a new Top 20 is released, I will turn to a few talents in those same categories with a simple question: If you had a vote, who would be #1 on your ballot?

Afternoon drive is as prime time a spot as a local sports talk station can offer, so today we are looking at some of the format’s biggest stars. The executives put ESPN New York’s The Michael Kay Show and 93.7 the Fan’s Poni & Mueller at the top of the Top 20 Major Market and Mid Market lists respectively. Now it is time to see what the men that do the job everyday think.


CARL DUKES – 92.9 THE GAME (ATLANTA)

I listen to my peers from all over the country, and I’m always looking to be entertained as much as I am trying to find out what’s going on in any particular market. In what might be the most competitive markets, Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti along with my old friend Big Jim Murray (who was in Atlanta when we started the station here) kill it on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

The biggest thing that gets the audience engaged in the show, I believe, is the entertainment value. They are laughing and having fun! These guys get their audience to respond. This show connects with that passion in Boston. 

They drive the audience with great content, opinions, and  entertainment. The show is interactive.We live in a fast-paced society and as host you get about 2 mins (and sometimes less than that) to grab their attention and get the audience engaged. Once that happens, if you are talking about the right things, people will give you a chance.

Listeners want to hear what you have to say about the biggest topics in sports, and more importantly those in their hometown. Most successful sports shows are either driven by a host’s dynamic personality or by exceedingly strong sports content. I think they have both. These guys put up numbers and they are fun! That’s a win for me! 

Felger & Mazz finished #2 in the BSM Top 20 of Major Market Sports Afternoon Shows

ANDREW FILLIPPONI – 93.7 THE FAN (PITTSBURGH)

My favorite show on this list is Schopp and the Bulldog. Here’s why:

I started working with them in 2008. Straight out of college. There are still radio techniques from working on that show that I apply today. I think both hosts have top 10 market and national talent. But are from Buffalo and at this point are institutions in that town.

Mike is creatively one of the best hosts in the business. He came up with original benchmark segments. He used callers better than any host I had been around. He could be combative, but would also use them when the show organically went off the rails on non-sports topics too.

Bulldog plays the common man, Buffalo sports fan character well. Because that’s who he probably is at his core. However, he’s one of the best hosts I’ve heard at giving opinions or reacting on his feet. And he’s extremely intelligent but can communicate his thoughts without trying to sound smart. 

Schopp & The Bulldog finished #7 in the BSM Top 20 of Mid Market Sports Afternoon Shows

JAY RECHER – 95.3 WDAE (TAMPA)

To me, the conversation starts and ends with The Michael Kay Show. 

I don’t get to hear them as often as I’d like, but every single time I go to visit my family in NY, I flip the dial to 98.7 ESPN NY to hear what Michael, Don and Peter are talking about. 

Michael was a voice of my childhood, growing up as a Yankee fan on Long Island. He’s seen it all and when he puts his stamp of approval on something, you know he means it. It’s no BS. 

Don’s passion for this business bursts through the speakers like the water out of the hoses we used to drink out of as little kids. It’s must-listen radio when he’s spitting that hot fire. 

And whether it’s taking a completely different perspective, discussing pop culture or talking about something like WWE, Peter’s the perfect complement to a show that I think is tops on-air on the ride home. 

Never a dull moment listening to these guys. 

The Michael Kay Show finished #1 in the BSM Top 20 of Major Market Sports Afternoon Shows

CARRINGTON HARRISON – 610 SPORTS (KANSAS CITY)

Few people in this business are truly creative in terms of topic development, infusing new ideas and unique points of view. Nick Wilson is one of those guys. I have a lot of respect for the high level of content Nick creates and his consistency.

Nick Wilson finished #13 in the BSM Top 20 of Mid Market Sports Afternoon Shows

As the week rolls on, we will dive into every single list that JB puts out. That means next up is Program Directors. Stay tuned!

By the way, just because I didn’t reach out to you to contribute doesn’t mean you can’t have a say. Who do you think the best afternoon show on sports talk radio is? Feel free to add your comment below.

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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