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Gonzaga Paints A Masterpiece Amid So Much Graffiti

In a sign of what’s ahead for the diluted college game, artistry is suffering and shots are clanking in the NCAA tournament, with the favorite on a seemingly impenetrable path to a perfect season.

Jay Mariotti

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We shouldn’t be too hard on the kids when they can’t see their loved ones, slaving away as unpaid, Covid-era laborers in the $1 billion sweatshop known as March Madness. But why is it so damned difficult to shoot a basketball through a rim with a circumference of 56.5 inches? And does it amplify the unspoken truth about a sacred event in sporting Americana: That this year’s NCAA tournament, beyond the history-seekers at Gonzaga and two glimmers from Los Angeles, hasn’t been easy on the eyes?

Heavens to Naismith, thank goodness for the Zags, creating artwork amid the cat scratches and ambling toward the first perfect championship season in 45 years. If they arrived in Indianapolis as chalk favorites, now it would be shocking if anyone gave them a game. “We’re not hung up on the undefeated thing at all,” said coach Mark Few, in the Elite Eight without a visible sweat bead. “As you get farther and farther along, the pressure comes from a lot of places. I think the biggest place it comes from is, you don’t want it to end. I bet if you asked them, they wish they could play 25 more games together. So you just don’t want it to end.”

Gonzaga men face quick turnaround to prepare for Oklahoma with Sweet 16  spot on the line | The Seattle Times

It should end predictably, with a large trophy in their grasp, because the competition generally is inferior. Guess which team made only 3 of 19 three-point tries and wouldn’t have survived the Sweet 16 if the coach didn’t order his clankers to drive headlong to the hole? That would be Baylor, a supposed contender, whose best player was invisible offensively. Maybe it’s because Jared Butler had no appreciation for the moment. Asked what the movie “Hoosiers” meant to him after playing inside venerable Hinkle Fieldhouse, where the concluding scenes were filmed, Butler killed the retro buzz, saying coldly, “I haven’t seen all of `Hoosiers.’ I’ve seen maybe, like, 20 minutes of it. It wasn’t that interesting at first, so that’s why I didn’t finish it.”

The barn was good enough for John Wooden, Oscar Robertson and Jimmy Chitwood, but not for Jared Butler. Apparently, the ghosts took note.

Alabama made the shot of the tournament, sparking end-to-end memories of Christian Laettner and Tate George when Alex Reese drained a three-point buzzer beater to force overtime. “WOW!!!!!!” tweeted LeBron James, whose injured ankle suddenly didn’t hurt as much. The Crimson Tide followed by missing its next five shots and losing to UCLA, which is joined by crosstown L.A. rival USC in the Elite Eight for the first time EV-ERRR, as a Gen-Zer on either campus would put it.

“We knew that we had nothing to worry about it,” UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez said of Reese’s turnaround 28-footer. “This is March. It happens all the time.”

Then there was Arkansas, which made a Pig Sooey mess in reaching the Elite Eight by hitting just 29 of 77 shots from the field, 1 of 9 from beyond the arc. And Houston, which missed 19 of 26 treys before finally burying Buddy Boeheim and a Syracuse team that scored 20 points in the first half and shot 28 percent. Oregon State might be the college version of “Hoosiers” — would Hollywood dare make “Beavers” with a straight face? — after sneaking into the brackets as a 12th seed, then becoming the first team in 36 years to win three straight games as an underdog of six points or more. The story keeps getting cooler, with coach Wayne Tinkle relating how he took advice from a stranger he keeps running into during morning walks through the Convention Center labyrinth.

“Coach, do you know what the enemy of great is?” a man named Tim Allen, not the actor, asked Tinkle. “It’s not bad — it’s good enough. Good enough is the enemy of great. Challenge your guys not to be good enough, but continue to be great.”

Tinkle, a basketball lifer whose wife and three children also have played on the Division I level, decided to use the suggestion during his pre-game speech. Considering Oregon State was voted last in the Pac-12 Conference preseason poll, why not keep embracing the crazy? “It’s our time. Dare to be great,” he told his players.

Still, was the subsequent victory over Loyola-Chicago more a byproduct of the Ramblers missing 18 of 23 three-pointers — bricks that not even Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt could pray toward makeability? “We just couldn’t find it,” said Cameron Krutwig, referring to the basket.

Maybe Michigan, a possible Final Four opponent for Gonzaga, has the right idea in pounding the ball down low, successful against Florida State with 7-1 Hunter Dickinson and 6-9 Franz Wagner. And next comes USC — what is this, the Rose Bowl? — riding the Mobley brothers — 7-foot lottery pick Evan and 6-10 Isaiah — and guards who actually can make threes. Do I honestly think any of them, or anyone else, can beat Gonzaga? No, as I’ve said all season.

The Mobley Brothers Turned Backyard Brawls Into Basketball Stardom - The  New York Times

I’ve always loved the tournament for its joy, its youth, its fun, its refreshing story lines. But what’s happening here, amid the Misfires of March, isn’t merely a quirk of a pandemic year. College basketball is facing an existential crisis that won’t end well. You’d think the evolution of the sport — an unprecedented flurry of talented players coming out of high school — would be good for the college game. In fact, it’s backfiring.

The very best teenagers, such as LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman, no longer need even a year of the tournament. They just circumvented college ball and found their way to the NBA, which will become the norm when the league waives the one-and-done rule and allows players to enter the league directly from high school. Those who aren’t ready can prepare in the NBA’s G League, where players prefer to be compensated in a holding pattern rather than go unpaid while making fortunes for universities. This only serves to dilute the quality of college play — and render traditional bluebloods Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Louisville, etc., as ordinary programs that either didn’t make the tournament or were bounced early.

You might not like John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Bill Self. But it isn’t good for college basketball when they’re at home while, bless them, Oregon State and Arkansas are playing for Final Four berths. And when the Pac-12 is 12-2 in the tournament, with three teams in the final eight. Those of us who live on the West Coast love the new tilt our way, with Gonzaga the heaviest, but face it: College basketball needs to thrive in the East, Midwest and South, not after midnight on ESPN.

One player who detoured to the G League, guard Daishen Nix, opted out of his UCLA letter of intent to take a reported $300,000. This prompted coach Mick Cronin, who nonetheless has steered the Bruins from the First Four to the Elite Eight, to slam the NBA for poaching teenagers. “All I would say is, let’s not act like we’re all on the same team,” Cronin said. “College basketball has been a free farm system for 40 years for the NBA, and it is and will always be the best place for a young player to develop. The experience is second to none and I believe it’s the best basketball development that somebody’s going to get. That’s just my belief; it doesn’t mean that I’m right. I’m well aware that in midtown Manhattan (in the NBA office), they’re not real concerned with my opinion and that’s OK. … I don’t think Adam Silver is concerned; he works for 30 owners and they’re all capitalists, as they should be.” Later, on Dan Patrick’s radio program, Cronin pumped up the volume, accusing the NBA of “two-faced lies and acting like we didn’t recruit the kid.”

It didn’t stop Cronin from making an NBA analogy, with Michigan waiting in the next round. “Somebody said, ‘Well, now you’ve been to an Elite Eight.’ That’s not why I came to UCLA,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of friends in the NBA, they make fun of people that have rings that say conference champion. There’s only one. Whoever wins the NBA title is the world champion. So for me, we’ve got to win three more games.”

Soon enough, the idea of Zion Williamson spending a year in college will be a distant memory. And the five-star players who do want the NCAA experience, if only for a year, might not be so quick to choose a blueblood anymore. Twenty years ago, remember, Gonzaga was a “mid-major Cinderella.” Might the likes of Creighton and Loyola take the quantum leap next? These days, Few can snap his fingers in Spokane for five-star talents — such as star guard Jalen Suggs or incoming sensation Hunter Sallis, who chose Gonzaga over Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Oregon and UCLA. The nation’s No. 1 prep prospect, Chet Holmgren, also is expected to sign with the Zags, in part because Suggs was his high school teammate. In two years, though, players on their level won’t bother with college choices. They’ll be NBA-bound.

Which explains why the games are ragged and many of the teams can’t shoot. I am not the only one who thinks the best showdown thus far involved no testicles. Two phenomenal teens, Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, converged in a women’s matchup that interested me more than anything I’ve observed in Indiana. It only magnified the shame piled on NCAA president Mark Emmert, who should have been fired years ago and now faces an almost certain dismissal after lopsided inequities were exposed at the men’s and women’s tournaments. When the women’s weight facilities in San Antonio were found to be worse than those at a two-bit apartment complex, Emmert said, “We dropped the ball.”

Seems he can’t shoot straight, either.

NCAA's Mark Emmert: Need 'Better Handle' on Pandemic to Have Fall College  Sports | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

By no coincidence, Gonzaga hit 59.6 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three range in a rout of Creighton. Even on a below-par day for Suggs, the dominant rhythms were unaffected. “We play best when we’re moving the ball because we have so many pieces and so much versatility,” point guard Andrew Nembhard said. “It’s just like playing in a park with a bunch of guys that click so well.”

That easy, huh? It’s why the Zags are three victories from a season of perfection not seen since the Indiana Hoosiers in 1976. “These guys,” said Creighton coach Greg McDermott, “are on a mission.”

While too many others are just missing.

BSM Writers

Mike Silver Has An NFL Backstage Pass

“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships.”

Derek Futterman

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It was the 2010 NFL Draft and standout wide receiver Dez Bryant was eligible to be selected by a professional football team. As a journalist, Mike Silver has always looked to enterprise stories and wanted to be with Bryant when the moment he had been waiting for finally arrived.

Through a preexisting relationship with Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, he got in touch with Bryant and received permission to attend his draft celebration. Before being selected in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant revealed to him that then-Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland had asked him during the pre-draft process if his mother was a prostitute.

Once that information was published in Silver’s column, Ireland had to publicly apologize and was subsequently put under investigation by the team’s majority owner Stephen Ross.

“People were like, ‘How did you get that?,’ but I was very proud because really the way I got it was because Deion Sanders respected me enough based on things that had happened decades earlier and the way that I conducted myself that I was able to ultimately get to Dez,” Silver expressed. “That to me is a validation. I’ve nurtured relationships for years and years that have led to zero reporting and thought, ‘It’s okay; it’s just part of the process. It is what it is.’”

From the start, Silver was a believer in journalism and the power the profession had in divulging stories in pursuit of the truth. Born in San Francisco, Calif. and raised in Los Angeles, he would read The Los Angeles Times sports section for a half hour per day, observing the proclivities and vernacular of other writers. As a high school student, he co-authored a sports column in the Palisades Charter High School Tideline with current Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, gaining practical experience in journalism and cultivating professional relationships.

“I was the only Warriors fan in our school because I was born in San Francisco so he used to clown me for being a Warriors and 49ers fan like everyone else in our school – so I ended up having the last laugh,” Silver said. “By old standards, you’d say, ‘You can’t cover Steve Kerr. That’s your friend.’ I think in 2022 if I have to cover Steve Kerr, I’ll just be like, ‘You know what? Everyone knows we’re friends. I’m just going to be up front about it.’”

Silver attended the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communication and media studies. The school was not known for profound levels of success within its football and basketball programs, according to Silver; however, the student newspaper was a place to gain repetitions in covering sports and having finished work published, printed and distributed.

Towards the end of his time in college, Silver wrote stories that were published in The Los Angeles Times, the newspaper he grew up reading and from which he drew inspiration to become a journalist.

“We would tell the players we covered, ‘Hey, we’re trying to go to the pros too, and we’re not going to get jobs in this industry if we don’t write the truth,’” Silver said. “We were trying to break in as legitimate journalists and we definitely ruffled some feathers along the way.”

Once he graduated from school, Silver began his professional career writing for The Sacramento Union where he covered the San Francisco 49ers. Silver grew up as a football fan and was familiar with the team but always tried to find original, untold angles to differentiate his stories from others. Shortly thereafter, he transitioned to join The Santa Clara Press Democrat as a beat writer and used the time to further develop his writing and reporting skills. Five years later, he was in talks to land his dream job as a writer in Sports Illustrated, a prolific sports magazine focused on producing original content.

Sports Illustrated was released on Wednesdays and operated under the belief of trying to omit any stories that may have been reported in the days prior. The goal was to tell stories that were under the radar and would be impactful and memorable for its readers.

During a typical week, Silver would visit both the home and road teams in their own cities with the hopes of connecting with players and team personnel. After a game, he would go to the locker room, yet he would try to avoid doing one-on-one interviews since the content would likely be published elsewhere before the magazine was released.

Then, his writing process commenced and often went through the night, as Sports Illustrated had a 9 a.m. EST deadline the following morning. By taking the approach of enterprising stories, Silver quickly became one of the most venerated and trusted sportswriters in the country, composing over 70 cover stories for the publication.

With the advent of the internet though, journalism and communication was forever changed allowing for the free flow of information and ideas in a timely manner.

“Now I can arrogantly write to whatever length I want and every precious word of mine could be broadcast to the masses, but [back then] you better have it the exact length because it’s going on a page,” Silver said. “You’re maybe reading over a story 15 times or more to get it just right before the seven layers of editing kick in. You’re also leaving theoretically half of your great stuff on the cutting room table never to surface again or seldom.”

Nurturing a relationship built on trust and professionalism is hardly facile in nature, and it required enduring persistence and resolute determination to achieve for Silver. Through these relationships, he has been able to create both distinctive and original types of content. As innovations in technology engendered shifts in consumption patterns though, he decided to do what he originally perceived as being unthinkable and left Sports Illustrated after nearly 13 years.

“When I went there, I felt like we had 30 of the 35 best sportswriters in America and it was murderer’s row,” Silver said of Sports Illustrated. “I had a great, great experience there the whole time so I never thought I’d leave.”

After meeting with Yahoo Sports Executive Editor Dave Morgan and being given an offer with flexibility in the job and a promise of a lucrative salary, Silver knew it was simply too good to pass up. He opted to still write a column on Sundays to counterprogram Peter King at Sports Illustrated, who authored his own weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column.

Additionally, Silver agreed to write two additional branded columns per week in a quest to adapt to the digital age of media.

“I was trying to stay current and connect to an internet generation and keep up with the way that people were consuming their content at that time,” Silver said. “….We just had a spirit at Yahoo that we weren’t owned by anyone, we didn’t have a deal with the league and we were going to report the news in a very unfiltered way.”

An advent of the digital age in media has been the practice of writers appearing on television to present their information en masse, requiring changes in their delivery. Unlike in a written piece, reporting on television requires efficiently making key points and speaking in shorter phrases to allow the viewer to easily follow the discussion. Moreover, writers are sometimes presented with questions that may provoke deeper thought or analysis, and occasionally challenge their lines of reporting.

Silver never thought he would work in television, but as a part of his contract with NFL Media, he was writing columns and serving as an analyst on select NFL Network programming. In working on television on a league-owned entity, it forced him to step out of his comfort zone and pursue mastery of a new skill set.

“I never wanted to do TV voice and be cheesy and look like someone who was trained for the medium so my strategy was more to try to be myself on camera and see how that translated,” Silver articulated. “It seemed to work to some degree – and then obviously I picked up a lot of tricks of the trade and techniques and got better reps. Essentially, I think reporting is reporting [and] information is information.”

Moving into television, a medium with sports coverage that is, at its core, nonlinear due to the potential for breaking news and unexpected occurrences, changed the manner in which the information was presented and/or prioritized on the air. In a column, Silver’s goal was to find original angles and obtain anecdotes and quotes to implement into the storytelling. Now on television, sources were still used largely on the condition of deep background, meaning no individual or group could be attributed to the information in any way.

“With TV, there was an element of, ‘Hey man, I’m just trying to sound smart when I talk about you guys,’ which is code for, ‘I don’t have to use your name when I say this stuff, but when I’m weighing on why you just traded for Trent Richardson, help me understand what’s really going on with the Indianapolis Colts at this moment,’” Silver explained. “That’s just a random example. I liked [television] more than I thought I would.”

Silver’s contract was not renewed at NFL Network in 2021, providing a stark change in his lifestyle and leaving him looking for a job in the midst of trying economic times. Through a relationship he had with sports radio host Colin Cowherd, he was given the opportunity to join his upstart podcast platform The Volume as a host. Cowherd eagerly recruited Silver to the platform following a lunch in which the topic came up naturally in conversation about future endeavors.

“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships and I have a lot of them from players, coaches, owners and GMs to media people and friends in other industries, etc.,” he explained. “Colin Cowherd is someone I’ll never, ever, ever forget or stop being grateful to…. We were kind of talking some stuff out and he was like, ‘Why don’t we do a show on my network?,’ and we started talking about what that would be. We left lunch… and about 10 minutes later he called me and said, ‘Okay, here’s what I think,’ and kind of continued it.”

Today, Silver is hosting an interview-based program called Open Mike featuring guests from the world of professional football. Recent guests on the program have included Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones. Prior to joining The Volume, Silver had hosted a podcast with his daughter called Pass It Down, which ultimately ran for over 50 episodes and gave him experience working within the medium.

“I’m sitting there spending an hour with [Las Vegas] Raiders GM Dave Ziegler or [Buffalo Bills] linebacker Von Miller or whoever we have on,” Silver said. “You’re not only getting to know that person; you’re watching the way I connect with that person and usually have a body of work with that person, and there’s a comfort level there too.”

John Marvel was Silver’s direct boss at NFL Media and a friend he kept in touch with for many years. Through various correspondences and the dynamic media landscape, they decided to start their own media venture called Backstage Media. The company has a first-look deal with Meadowlark Media – a company co-founded by John Skipper, who also serves as its chief executive officer. Skipper was formerly the president of ESPN and someone Silver wished he had worked for earlier in his career.

“I did not know John Skipper before I left NFL Network,” he said. “I didn’t particularly have a dream to [ever] work at ESPN. We’ve had conversations over the years – ESPN and I – and it never seemed like the perfect fit for me. Now that I know John Skipper, it’s like ‘I would have worked for that guy any time.’ He’s fantastic, [and] I’m just so pumped to be in business with him.”

The company, which focuses on producing documentaries and other unscripted programming through the intersection of sports, music and entertainment, has various projects in development. The idea was derived out of both of their penchants for storytelling and an attempt to utilize new platforms built for engagement within the modern-day media marketplace.

“We’re hoping that documentaries, docuseries [and] episodic podcasts – mostly unscripted – …will be kind of our wheelhouse,” Silver said. “….There’s about four big things that are [hopefully] close to being announced. One’s football; one’s boxing; one is basketball; and one is kind of a blend of some things. I feel like we have a pretty diverse set of interests.”

Joining The San Francisco Chronicle as a football reporter has been indicative of a full-circle moment for Silver, as he is once again around the San Francisco 49ers and writing columns about the team and other sports around the Bay Area at large. Today, he is working with Scott Ostler and Ann Kllion, and directly with Eric Branch on the outlet’s 49ers coverage. Through it all, he seeks to continue gaining access to places that the ordinary person would only be able to dream about in order to tell compelling and informative stories, no matter how they may be delivered or on what platform(s) to which it may be distributed.

“I’m old school in a lot of my mentality in terms of journalism and storytelling and all of that,” Silver said. “I think those things don’t go away. I think it’s journalism first; relationship first; access first; storytelling first; and you figure out the rest.”

As for the future of the profession which has ostensibly become less defined because of the evolution of social media and communication, relationships and storytelling have truly become the differentiators. Silver aims to continue practicing what has allowed him to gain exclusive scoops in the industry and tell stories that would otherwise, perhaps, fly under the radar, but do so in a way that does not jeopardize his sources.

“I’m going to try to develop relationships and cultivate relationships where people trust me and give me a sense of what’s going on,” he said. “I’m going to try to get into places that you, as the consumer, couldn’t otherwise go and take you there, and I’m going to err on the side of the relationship as opposed to finding out one thing that could cause a splash that day on Twitter.”

Some athletes are hosting podcasts or writing columns to directly communicate with their fans, including Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green on The Volume, intensifying the quest for engagement and attraction. Yet Silver advises journalists looking to break into the industry not to get distracted in meeting certain metrics, instead adhering to best practices and reporting truthful information without ambiguity.

“Just don’t get undone by the noise,” Silver said. “Put your head down; hyperfocus; grind; tell good stories; do journalism and hopefully over the course of time, that will stand out. I’d still like to believe that.”

Covering professional sports, specifically football, generates a large amount of potential storylines on which journalists can report – and today, digital platforms give them the ability to cover them in different ways. While some scoops may requit a large article, others may be able to be told in 280 characters or less, such as a trade rumor or injury. The amount of information Silver and his colleagues uncovered working for a print publication and then had to omit because of space limitations underscores a key journalistic principle of efficient and truthful storytelling. In today’s media landscape, he hopes to be able to do that regardless of its means of dissemination.

“If you went back and just looked at our normal… feature or story off a game [and] the level we reported on a Wednesday and translated that to a Twitter generation, people would lose their minds about how much we found out and how much we reported with on-the-record quotes usually, and they’d be like, ‘He said what!?,” Silver said. “That’s all we knew and that’s [how] we did it…. I don’t think people understand how much the threshold has changed. It’s all good. The most important things hopefully haven’t changed.”

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BSM Writers

Video Simulcasts Are Now A Must Have For Sports Radio

All of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way. 

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Video simulcasts of sports talk radio and podcasts have gone up extraordinarily in quality as of late. The craft started as a novelty that very few participated in. ESPN and YES Network dominated the genre with their simulcasts of Mike and Mike in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog respectively. Slowly but surely other sports networks and RSN’s picked up the genre over time and it has now become a major component within sports coverage in the streaming world.

The most popular and prominent shows in the medium right now include The Dan Patrick Show, The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, The Pat McAfee Show, and The Rich Eisen Show. These four shows in particular have done an excellent job of independently producing and building out their video content to look visually appealing while also engage with the audience through graphics, pictures, stats on screen. In McAfee’s case, his company even entered into a rights agreement with the NFL for highlights.

Finding their shows can be difficult at times. Eisen’s show has moved from television to Peacock and to Roku Channel all within the span of a couple years. When LeBatard’s shipping container first began their live video voyage they didn’t have a consistent schedule. Patrick’s show has also leapt between RSNs, national networks, YouTube and its current home on Peacock. But all of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way. 

The video simulcasts have become so lucrative for these shows that they’ve found sponsors to advertise against what they’re offering and they ensure that they pay attention to the look of the show. Commercials that feel like television play during Patrick and Eisen’s shows. Logos are displayed during LeBatard’s broadcast and NFL Films vignettes that you would find on NFL Network air in the middle of McAfee’s broadcast.

McAfee’s show recently moved into a new studio in Indianapolis specifically built for them by FanDuel and just yesterday LeBatard announced they would be moving into their own state of the art studio in Miami that will help expand their creativity. Patrick’s show doesn’t even have guests call into their show anymore – most join via Zoom. Eisen’s guests are more often than not in studio. All of these shows also upload highlights relatively quickly to YouTube. They’re still audio-first but video is no longer secondary. It is 1A in terms of importance.

As much as these simulcasts feel close to real TV, there are still some hijinks that fans have to get used to that aren’t the same as a regular TV broadcast. During LeBatard’s broadcast, a rolling loop of their own self produced album plays during breaks. While the songs are hilarious in nature, if you’re a weekly viewer of their simulcast it might get tiresome to hear every time there is a break.

A loop of some of the show’s greatest moments and some of the side projects Meadowlark Media produces might be more engaging and help reduce drop off rate. McAfee’s show also struggles with white balancing their cameras almost every telecast. At times in the middle of a conversation during the show, discoloration occurs before changing back to normal skin tones.

Patrick’s show has used the same set of graphics since it began simulcasting on NBC’s linear sports network years ago which could be a turnoff for younger viewers of the internet era who always want change in order to grab their attention. Eisen’s show has awkward interruptions happen in the middle of conversations because commercial breaks are different in length on terrestrial radio vs. streaming.

At the end of the day though, these shows are the epitome of what it means to have grit and guts to achieve your American dream. Although their productions are subsidized and/or licensed by big media platforms and sports books, their social media presence and the actual production of these shows was built on their own. During the first couple of weeks after LeBatard’s show left ESPN, the former columnist could often be heard teasing listeners that they were working on building a video enterprise and how difficult it was.

It’s hard to stand on your own in sports talk media without the backing of superpowers like ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and Turner who have been producing live broadcasts for decades. But these shows have found a way to do so in a new world that is tailored towards doing everything on your own. 

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BSM Writers

5 Ideas For December Sales Success

How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea?

Jeff Caves

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Now is the time to put your foot on the gas for a great start to 2023-not waiting til January. With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day all falling on weekends, you can’t count on who will be at work the Friday or Monday around those holidays in December.

So, looking forward from here, you only have 15 or so days that you can count on your clients and prospects to be at work before the end of 2022. And, if they are at work, consider their motivation or lack of it before approaching them. But here are five ways to attack December.

Cutting a year-end deal

Make sure you go back from the potential start date of the schedule and allow for production, proposal, and acceptance. That usually means you need a week from when you present a year-end idea to when the schedule starts. So, aim to have all appointments booked by 12/9, so you can sell 2-week packages that begin Monday, 12/19. That will give you a sense of urgency and gives you five solid business days to sell your ass off starting Monday.

5-day sale

Make all your pricing and payment terms expire by Friday, 12/9. You can always extend if need be once they give a partial commitment. You want anybody involved in the decision to sign off and let you cut this deal! The idea here is to create urgency and work ahead.

Beat the bushes

Do you want to wake up on 1/2/23 with an empty pipeline? How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea? Don’t try to qualify these prospects over the phone. Do it in January when both of you are fresh but get that commitment NOW. Look for your new client avatar.

Be gracious

From now til the end of the year is also an excellent time to meet with your sales assistant, traffic manager, production person, or anybody who helps you at the station. Sit down with them face to face and see what you can do better to make their job easier. Give them some ideas on how they can help you as well. Mend some fences or make new friends; the reason tis the season. Surprise them with a Cheetos popcorn tin for less than $10. Please do it. You will be surprised by what you hear because this is a popular time of year for layoffs, transfers, and people taking new jobs.

Practice a new pitch

December is also a great time to record yourself doing a webinar and start planning to let your content do the talking. Wouldn’t it be nice if your 10-minute talk on how to make live reads work, how to buy radio, or why your audience buys the most widgets produced some warm leads? Practice and get going!

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