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What Was The Media’s Goal In Covering The Tiger Woods Crash?

“Yet as I flipped from station to station, along with social media, I began to see an early similar pattern to the Kobe coverage, as several outlets rushed to disseminate misinformation.”

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On Tuesday morning we nearly lost Tiger Woods, a global icon who’s allure is rivaled by very few people on earth. However, it wasn’t the conditions of his unfortunate and near fatal car accident which made me uncomfortable. More so, it was the media coverage, which confused me and left me feeling “some type of way.”

Obviously, circumstances like this are relatively unpredictable, yet, I felt an overall lack of direction and detail while consuming live content from various sports and hard news media outlets alike. Was the goal to report the facts pertaining to the current incident in question, or was the true motivation to take advantage of this frightful occurrence by revisiting previous chapters of Tiger’s life, for contents sake? I’m still unsure.

Like all of you, I rejoiced at the fact that Tiger was alive, although severely injured. That said, my mind did not immediately connect to the images from the tragic helicopter crash which took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, seven others. This is likely due to the initial tweet from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department informing us that Tiger had been “…extricated from the wreck…” and “…transported to a local hospital by ambulance for his injuries.”

Yet as I flipped from station to station, along with social media, I began to see an early similar pattern to the Kobe coverage, as several outlets rushed to disseminate misinformation. Albeit, the inaccurate “…jaws of life…” reference from the LACSD didn’t help. I began to ask myself if our industry had learned a damn thing from the helicopter incident last year. Sometimes there’s nothing else to report in that moment. Why tug unnecessarily at public heart-strings and the human imagination?

I also found it interesting to contrast the timing, manner, and duration of the Tiger coverage between sports media and hard news media. As best I could tell, hard news went to live coverage and reaction quicker and more aggressively than sports did. Although many of the sports outlets interrupted live programming to present the breaking news; it took a few hours to match the intensity of our other media contemporaries. That in itself, didn’t bother me.

Again, how many times can we say Tiger is alive and currently in surgery for severe lower extremity injuries? Given the lack of new information, it was appropriate from my view to proceed with the previously scheduled sports programming. As was later seemingly determined by the hard news sector, whose loyal base began to inquire about their traditional broadcast.

What I did find peculiar, was the prevailing presence of a somber tone from many of our sports anchors, analysts, and commentators as it got later into the day. Although we all are within our right to handle the avoidance of a fearful situation however we’d like; I wondered if this was the best course of action for the viewers’ experience. I certainly do not aim to be insensitive here, however, perhaps the viewer would be calmed or encouraged regarding Tiger’s situation if they saw and felt more optimism and positive energy from us, as we celebrate the blessing of his survival. All due respect to producers and programmers alike. It’s just a thought, and perhaps I am mistaken.

Where things got really murky for me, was witnessing the ill-timed commentary by various media outlets utilizing this opportunity to re-litigate Tiger given his polarizing, controversial, and complicated personal history. Certainly, I too am aware of his prior incidents involving vehicles. That said, I find it mostly inappropriate to draw some connection given what had been reported and the lack of evidence at the time.

Let’s just call it what it is! Controversy sells, and several of our professional contemporaries wanted to exploit that content…AGAIN…or at the very least, play off of the proverbial elephant in the room. Why the need to sensationalize coverage of a really bad auto accident, because of who’s driving? Shameful!

That said, I was also miffed at how media talent could believe it was warranted to even begin speculating as to how this might impact Tiger’s golf career. The man was literally having a significant surgery at that very moment! Who gives a damn about a green jacket right now? What about his future interactions with his family? His overall quality of life? Way too soon! The thirst must find its limits at some point.

Why Tiger Woods didn't actually win a Masters green jacket on Sunday

Thankfully, Tiger survived, as God has spared us another iconic tragedy. Look, I get it; we’re all mining for fresh content to offer. The election, along with football season, has come and gone. We’re also exhausted with COVID-19 coverage. Everyone in our business obviously understands the gravity and scale of a figure of Tiger Wood’s caliber. That said, I believe it to be an obligation in honor of our craft and respect to our audience, to not simply provide information and entertainment, but also to be simultaneously mindful of the tone and timing of its delivery.

I still struggle to definitively encapsulate the immediate coverage of Tiger’s accident. What I know for certain is that parts of it were convoluted and made me uncomfortable. I highly doubt I am alone in this perspective. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll have defined an overall better process for coverage when, not if, the next unfortunate and unexpected incident occurs. The execution of that refined process I leave to you. 

BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 44

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This week’s episode is all about the NFL. Demetri explains why the league embracing kids is long overdue, Andy Masur stops by to breakdown the first Manningcast, and Ryan Maguire explains why some sports radio stations are missing a golden opportunity to shine on Sundays.

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BSM Writers

Interviews Thrive On Podcasts In A Way They Can’t On Radio

“Opportunities that a podcast creates open doors to audio that is simply superior to live radio.”

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Live radio vs. podcasts seems to be a heavyweight fight that isn’t ending anytime soon.  Podcasts are growing so much that companies that do radio are also now offering podcasts. This column is hardly about that fight. 

Instead, this is about how a podcast interview is a better way to get the best out of the guest than anything live on a radio station. This is not about downloads or clicks or sponsors. Solely about the content that is being produced.

A podcast makes the guest more comfortable and is more intimate than a live radio show.  Especially in sports.

Since 2015, I have hosted and produced 656 podcasts (yes it was fun to count them) and hosted many radio shows. My current shows are called Sports with Friends, Hall of Justice, and Techstream. That last one I host with tech expert Shelly Palmer.

On radio, there is a myriad of things the host has to do besides focus on the guest.

First, there are the IDs. Program directors have always told me ID the guest every chance I get. “We are talking with Eli Manning on WFAN,” is heard 7 times during an eight-minute segment.

On a podcast, the name of the guest is on the player or app that is playing the podcast. “Episode 1. Eli Manning, New York Giants” scrolls across smartphones, car radios, or other devices constantly.  Never interrupt the guest with an ID.

Then, there’s the fact that it is recorded and not live. I have a standard preamble that I say to any guest before any record light turns on.

“I will push,” I explain. “I will see where the conversation takes us, but I do tend to push. However, I’m on your side. This isn’t some expose’. If something comes up that you don’t like your answer, tell me. I’ll take it out. If there’s something that I say that is bad or wrong, tell me, I’ll take it out. This is a conversation, not an interview.”

In 656 podcasts, only one player, Bryce Harper (then of the Washington Nationals) asked me to take something out of a podcast.

We were doing Episode 54 of Sports with Friends when the subject of Dusty Baker came up.  He had just been hired to manage the Nationals. I mentioned in passing that Dusty had given the eulogy at my best friend Darryl Hamilton’s funeral.

Bryce was so intrigued that he recalled the comments I had made and asked if we could pause. We then spoke for a good 10 minutes about the kind of person Dusty was. Why Darryl held him in such regard.  It was a really inciteful chat.  Never was on the podcast.

Still, guests do relax when told that the editing option exists. They let their guard down. The host of a podcast can ask deeper questions.

“Who was the first person you called when you found out you were traded?”

“Have you seen a life for you after football?”

“How much do you hate a certain player?”

All questions, that if asked live, could seriously backfire. So not only does the guest have a guard up, but the interviewer also has to play it relatively safe, when they are not IDing the guest for the umpteenth time.

Time constraints also don’t exist in a podcast where they are beholden on live radio. The guest is just about to tell you they did cocaine during the World Series, and you are up against the clock.

ShinStation - Game Over - #017 - Wrap it Up - YouTube
Courtesy: Comedy Central

I have hosted shows over the years where the guest was phenomenal, but I screwed up the PPM clock. That was the takeaway.  The clock is important on a live medium that needs to get that quarter-hour.

I try to keep my podcasts short. You wouldn’t see it from looking at the lengths of my episodes. Still, I feel that if someone wants to talk and dive into a topic and it goes a little long, I will never cut the guy off.

Ken Griffey Jr. spoke for 45 minutes with a cigar and his feet up on the phone by his pool. He was telling jokes and stories. I wouldn’t have stopped that if a train was coming. When I hosted Mariner content at KJR in Seattle, our interviews usually last 5 minutes.

Jon Morosi broke down the future of clubhouse access and how he traveled during Covid. Then he told an amazing story of his wife working in the medical field and how that impacted all of his family. Shannon Drayer of 710 KIRO got so in-depth in her arduous journey from being a coffee barista to the Mariners on-field reporter. It was split into two episodes.

Former porn star Lisa Ann talked about her decision to quit the business. Even Jason Barrett himself was Episode 173 of Sports with Friends.

(When in the past has Jason Barrett been in the same paragraph as a porn star? Note to Demetri: please leave it in.)

The radio industry is seen to be cutting costs wherever it can. Mid-market stations are not doing night shows anymore, instead offering nationally syndicated programming. 

Weekends are another avenue that perplexes me. Talent that is not deemed good enough to be on during the week is often given weekend shifts. Also, some Monday-Friday hosts add a weekend shift to their duties. Here’s a theory: play podcasts. Format them to hit your PPM time marks. 

They don’t have to be my podcasts, but in the crowded podcast space, surely there are sports talk podcasts that are intimate, deep, and fun. Since we live in a data-driven age, let’s see how a radio station fares playing high-quality podcasts or portions of them, vs. weekend hosts.

Program directors often worry about the outdated nature of a podcast. That sells the podcaster short. As someone who has been in the podcast space since 2003, I know how to make them timeless, and companies make shows often enough, that rarely would they be outdated.  

Quality shines through the speakers.  The spoken-word audio format is continually evolving. Opportunities that a podcast creates open doors to audio that is simply superior to live radio.

How to Start a Podcast: Podcasting for Beginners - RSS.com Podcasting

The podcast industry is continually evolving.  Radio needs to evolve as well.  Then, it can be a fair fight.

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BSM Writers

National Voices Can Work For Local Clients

“Distance, like absence, can make the heart grow fonder.”

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Selling personalities is one of the hottest trends in media today. Sure, most of the buzz is around social media influencers, but radio has long had a relationship with its audience based on personal connections between host and listener. And nobody has a better relationship with their audience than a sports radio host.

I am sure you are leveraging your local hosts by now. Live spots, testimonials, remotes, and promotions are all great tricks of the trade, as well as sponsored social media posts. But does your station carry syndicated shows? I am sure you do either from 7 pm-12 am Monday-Friday or on weekends.

In 2018, The Ticket in Boise, Idaho brought CBS Sports Radio host Damon Amendolara and his co-host, Shaun Morash, to town for a Boise State football game. Damon had just switched to mornings from evenings, and his show aired in Boise from 4 am-8 am Monday – Friday. His ratings were decent, but nothing that stood out considering the daypart. It was thought to be risky to sell him into sandwich shops, pizza places, appearances at local legend hangouts, and so forth.

Boise State head football coach and QB Bryan Harsin and Brett Rypien did a live shot on the show from the on-campus bookstore. At dark thirty. It all worked. DA and Morash were hits! Everywhere they went, lines and crowds awaited them and they hit spots in a two-county area.  The few days of appearances worked so well that DA is back in Boise three years later, this time for a week. Now, DA is doing his show from resort hotels 2.5 hours away, taking riverboat adventure fishing trips in Hell’s Canyon, craft beer tours for his sidekick Andrew Bogusch and hosting college football viewing parties at brewpubs. Every station that carries syndicated shows probably has a DA success story waiting to happen. 

Start by listening to the shows, know the benchmarks and quirks of the national personalities or call the affiliate rep and ask. Does the talent discuss their love of beer, BBQ, pizza, whatever? If they do, then go ahead and sell them to a local client. The national talent can do the spot and endorse your client. If it’s a product, send one to them. Figure out how to get them a pizza. If it’s a service, do a zoom call with the client and let them start a relationship. Include some social media elements with video. The video can be used in social media and can sit on the client’s website. Yours too!

If you want to bring the talent to town, do it for a big game, local event, or 4th of July parade, and the sponsors will follow. Run a promo during the talent’s daypart asking local sponsors to text in to reserve their promotional spot. Have the talent cut liners asking the same thing. Take the NFL Sunday morning host and sell a promo to a sports bar where the host zooms in to a table or room full of listeners, and they watch a portion of a game together. Or sell the same idea to a national chain and do an on-air contest for a listener to have a home watch party with the zoomed-in host complete with food and beverages from your sponsors sent to both locations. How about sending your #1 BBQ joint that handles mail orders and sends some food for the talent? They can videotape themselves reheating the BBQ and make some great Facebook and Instagram videos.  

Distance, like absence, can make the heart grow fonder. Try selling a nationally syndicated host inside your market. I promise you’ll like it. 

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