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The Talent Vote: Original Sports Podcasts

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

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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 was released, I turned to a few talents in those same categories with a simple question: If you had a vote, who would be #1 on your ballot?

The 2020 lists are over after today. The final BSM Top 20 this year is the original sports podcasts. This is probably a situation where we say “shame on you for being surprised” if you were taken aback by the top of the BSM Top 20 looking like the top of the iTunes sports podcast chart. Pardon My Take took home the top spot when we asked PDs and executives to weigh in. Now, let’s see what other podcasters have to say.


RIC BUCHER – BUCHER & FRIENDS

This an easy choice: No. 1 pick for a sports podcast is JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three. That calling it merely a “sports” podcast doesn’t quite do it justice is one reason. Admittedly, landing on a show name that effortlessly synthesizes the title of a Hemingway novel with who Redick is — an NBA vet best known for his long-range shooting — also appeals to my writerly sensibilities, but I started listening long before this latest independent and newly named iteration because of what I get when I hit the play button.

What is that, you ask?

Expert production. A voice with an inviting resonance and a dry wit. An assortment of  intriguing high-profile guests from both inside the NBA (from Dr. J to Zion Williamson) and out (Malcolm Gladwell to Stacey Abrams).

My ideal podcast is what I call “a conversational interview,” where the host finds a way to draw unique insights and funny reminiscences from his or her guests by sharing snippets of his personal experiences; it requires throwing simple yet effective dimes while nailing a few big shots along the way. As a player, Redick’s game is far more versatile than his shooting rep would suggest. The same subtle versatility is what puts his podcast at the top of my list.     

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The Old Man & the Three did not make this year’s BSM Top 20 Original Sports Podcast list.

JASON ROMANOSPORTS SPECTRUM

I think the best sports podcast is The Bill Simmons Podcast. The reason why I think it’s the best is because of Bill’s ability as an interviewer to facilitate a conversation on a variety of topics. He’s engaging, funny and his guests are the kind of people you’d want to hang out with at a party and talk sports with. 

I’ve been most impressed with Bill’s ability as an interviewer to not do the typical cookie-cutter type of interviews you see in many of the mainstream media. His conversation with Tony Romo a few months ago was the perfect example of how great of an interviewer Bill has become. I’ve been a fan of his for many years because of the content he creates, but his show is still the best sports podcast out there right now. 

The Bill Simmons Podcast finished #3 in this year’s BSM Top 20 list of Original Sports Podcasts.

SARAH SPAIN – THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID WITH Sarah Spain, ESPNW

While there’s certainly a temptation to shout out the kingdom over which I reign as The Commish, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, which continues to be brilliant and groundbreaking and hilarious…I’m going to say the show that’s currently blowing my mind on a regular basis is ESPN Daily, with Pablo Torre at the helm.

It’s consistently interesting and informative, whether it’s stat-heavy episodes like Mondays with Bill Barnwell, where he breaks down the weekend’s NFL games better than anyone with a clarity, insight, sense of humor and depth of knowledge that consistently impresses, or one issue episodes like Pablo’s fantastic conversation with Ramona Shelburne about Kelly Loeffler and the Atlanta Dream. The show is built on incredible reporting, concise and carefully edited information, strong point of view, occasional quirky and comedic angles, and a lot of heart. It’s a go-to for me every day. 

ESPN Daily finished #9 in this year’s BSM Top 20 list of Original Sports Podcasts.

ADNAN VIRK – THE GM SHUFFLE

It’s The GM Shuffle with me and Michael Lombardi. Mike is the smartest football mind I’ve ever been around. Plus we have a shared affinity for the greatest show of all time – The Sopranos!

The GM Shuffle finished #17 in this year’s BSM Top 20 list of Original Sports Podcasts.

ANDY STAPLES – THE ANDY STAPLES SHOW

If you pitched Big Cat and PFT Commenter to a traditional sports talk program director, you’d get a hard no. Fortunately, they didn’t need approval from such a person. Instead, they came to us as a podcast at a time when most sports podcasts were either compressed versions of radio shows or something that felt like homework to impress the NPR listeners (who, to be fair, were among the earliest podcast adopters).

The entire gist of the show is that sports are ridiculous and fun, and while the show’s universe has expanded, the prime directive hasn’t changed. A lot of us forget the whole fun part. These guys never do, which is why they regularly kick our asses.

Pardon My Take finished #1 in this year’s BSM Top 20 list of Original Sports Podcasts

And there you have it! I cannot thank the talent that were willing to put their names on their opinions enough for participating in this exercise this year. It certainly added a whole new twist to the BSM Top 20.

Podcasting is a field that is so full of content that it is impossible to make sure every great show got its due. For instance, my favorite podcast, The Shutdown Fullcast, didn’t even crack the BSM Top 20. If you want to sound off on who we may have missed, feel free to do so in the comments below.

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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