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Meet The Market Managers: Sarah Frazier, Audacy Houston

“It’s almost to the point where everybody can sell everything. I like that because what that means is the best sellers will win. The best marketers will win. The people that work hardest will win, and put me in that game any day.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Audacy’s Sarah Frazier didn’t originally want to be here. Yes, she always wanted to work in the media in some aspect, but in college at the University of Kansas, Frazier thought she would be a broadcaster. Then, a very blunt professor named Tom Hedrick came into her life.

She was in a sports broadcasting class and Hedrick told her in no uncertain terms that she did not belong on a microphone. He thought Frazier should try sales if she wanted to work in the media business.

“It’s the best thing anybody ever did for me because I wasn’t good,” she told me. “And while I do love the reporting side and I do still love to fancy myself as a journalist, the truth is I’m much better on the business side. So he did me a favor.

Texas Association of Broadcasters

Fast forward to today and Sarah Frazier is entering her tenth year as market manager of Audacy’s Houston cluster. The city has a crowded sports radio landscape and she credits not only her sales team, but the energy that PD Armen Williams brings to the job for helping Sports Radio 610 stand out above the competition in town.

In this week’s Meet The Market Managers conversation, Sarah and I discuss a leader’s role in a crisis, what she would have done differently during the deepfreeze of two months ago, her relationship with the Houston Texans, and why seeing her PD dressed as Richard Simmons reaffirmed her faith in him.


Demetri Ravanos: Entercom recently rebranded to Audacy, and on our side of the business, it was done very well. Everybody knew what was coming and there were no hiccups. Just one day the brand new logo was revealed. But on the ground, what was that process like? Were there any challenges on the local level in terms of getting clients to understand these are the same people you’ve been dealing with all along? 

Sarah Frazier: Well, first of all, our team did an amazing job. I think everybody who had worked behind the scenes for so long, I think that it was just so well put together on the back end. Then from the consumer customer facing side, I think everybody expected this. I mean, this is the natural evolution of it. We were so much more than radio.com.

When you look into the future and at all of the podcasts and everything that we’re doing, there’s just so much content. Radio.com just didn’t make sense. I think everybody immediately got it. The coolest thing for me was my 15 year old daughter, when the logo changed, she was like, “oh, hey mom, that’s really cool”. And all of a sudden what I did wasn’t outdated to her. It was now. And that, I think, is the epitome of everything that we’re trying to do. 

DR: It’s interesting to hear you talk about the digital side and the idea of radio.com not fitting the future make up of the company. It can be perceived, certainly by people in the industry that I’ve talked to, that Entercom/Audacy is very much planting its flag in the sand that the emphasis moving forward is now on digital, and it’s moving away from broadcast radio. Does it feel that way to you or is there more to it? 

SF: Well see, here’s the thing. I don’t think those two things are necessarily intertwined, I think we can play with the distribution for what we deem important. What I mean by that, it doesn’t matter how people are getting their content. It doesn’t matter to us. We’re going to be on those platforms.

What we do realize is that to make sure we’re everywhere, we have to be in the digital space, but that doesn’t make our over-the-air signals any less important. At least that’s what I believe. When you think about everybody that listens to us in Houston every day, most people are listening over the air. I really don’t think that’s ever going to go away. I’m passionate about free local press and I believe that is something that may even become more important as all of this diversification happens. You know you can trust us, and that’s what we’re finding. We’re seeing it in the research that people really trust local media and that’s becoming more and more important as we go. 

DR: So as you look back on your whole time leading not just an entire building, but a sales staff as well, you’ve obviously seen digital products grow and grow in terms of their importance within the sales mix. I wonder, have you seen or are we past the point of those challenges impacting sellers? By that I mean, they understand better that they need to be skilled now at selling multimedia platforms not just radio?

SF: To your point, when we started, I was selling spots and maybe sometimes the live broadcast, right? And now, I couldn’t even tell you, Demetri, how many actual things we have to sell. I don’t think the question is, “do they understand they need to sell digital?”. I think the question is “how can we keep them up to speed on all of the different products, the specific uses of each one, and how to package that for their clients?”. When I sit down and try to think about a marketing campaign, which I still do, because I do love to make sure I’m doing the same thing as our sales people are doing so that I understand the challenges of it. But when I put together a campaign and I’m creating and thinking about what different tools I want to use in that media mix for the client, there’s so many that we have that it gets confusing for even me to remember all the things we have and what products do what. There’s just so many. I think that’s the biggest challenge.                

Why Don't We Just Ban Targeted Advertising? | WIRED

I mean, there’s nothing that we can’t do. The level of data that we can get on on a target consumer is creepy. I mean, I could tell you right now who went for a run in my neighborhood and put a mobile message in front of them. Now, that is really trippy when you think about it. 

DR: Right. That is a level of data mining that almost seems like it wasn’t meant for radio and television. Who could have foreseen that coming as part of our business?

SF: Yeah. It’s almost to the point where everybody can sell everything. I like that because what that means is the best sellers will win. The best marketers will win. The people that work hardest will win, and put me in that game any day. 

DR: So it’s interesting you say that everyone can sell everything because that goes right to a note that I wrote down for one of these interviews a while back, but I’ve just never used. So I’ll ask you, because there is more and more every day that we can sell, do you see a place where your cluster or the industry as a whole can create new revenue? Are there potential products that we just haven’t tapped into yet? 

SF: Well sure, I mean, we get something new all the time. The new stuff that we’re doing in the Amazon marketplace and how we can put clients products in that space, I don’t even quite understand that yet. One thing that I’m starting to do because we have so many products is ask myself some questions. What are the right ones that work for clients the best? What are the ones where we can really be competitive? Because I’m not going to use my credibility and sell a client something if that’s not the best thing that we do or that’s not the best fit for them. There’s enough for us to sell and find our way with among the things that we do best. That’s almost always rooted in the core of radio advertising. I mean, that’s our giant megaphone.              

But yeah, is something coming down the pike? I’m sure. It’ll probably be here tomorrow. 

DR: I often wonder if it’s going to be something that feels like, “Well, Jesus, we thought of that like forever ago.” Like if it becomes something such as putting stickers on local garbage cans. At this point it feels like we’re so far advanced in terms of what we can sell that the next big thing is something we are going to feel so dumb for not having thought of was still an option. 

SF: Well, we do forget stuff like that. One thing that’s that’s funny and I’ve been thinking a lot about is that we for so long would just give away tickets over the air, and how we got to thinking that was kind of trite and old. We wondered, ‘how could we reinvent that’? And then here we are getting ready to launch into a bacchanalia of events and people going out, and the one thing they’re going to want more than anything are tickets to events. So yeah, what goes around comes around.

DR: Let’s talk about that for a minute. Texas and Florida have been operating differently, maybe a little more loosely during the pandemic than other states. Now we’re at this point though where nationwide everyone is opening up more and more a little each week. Is there a threshold you are waiting for before you guys are back at the point where live events come back into the sales mix? 

SF: I am working through this as we speak. We have been working with Karbach, it’s a brewery here in town. They have this great outdoor space and one of their cornerstones is live music. That’s true for one of our country stations too, 100.3 The Bull. So we’ve been working together on how we can safely get people back out. And we’re going to start in May. We’re going to go on the air a week from yesterday with giveaways for a pod of either four or six tickets. We’re still looking at how they can safely do it the best, but under a pod for you and your friends. And then it’s going to start. We’re going to have a spring concert series. And I think the passion surrounding that is going to be off the charts. 

DR: So from the sales standpoint, let’s move giving tickets away to listeners to its own category. You’ve got this opportunity, that is coming really soon, to hand out tickets to a game or to a concert to your most loyal clients again. What do you think that’s going to bring back that you’ve been missing for the past year? 

SF: Our cornerstone is definitely the Texans, and I think for our clients, I foresee this Texans season as being a reunion of sorts. There are clients that we have gone through this together with. It’s almost like going to war with somebody. How is your business doing? What can we do to help? How is ours doing?                

Former Texans All-Pro J.J. Watt to join Cardinals - The Athletic

It just went crazy this time last year, and so our relationships are a lot deeper with those people. I can’t wait to see so many of those people. Our Texans games have always been the time where I get to see our key clients on a bi-weekly basis in the fall. I think that’s going to take on a whole new meaning this year, as I haven’t seen many of them in a long time instead of over Zoom. I just think the relationships that we’ve forged through this period, it’s different than anything I’ve ever experience before. I know these people. I know their families. I know if they had Covid. I know if their kid had to move their wedding three times. I mean, I know so much more about our clients, and I thought I knew him well before. 

DR: Speaking of bringing everyone together to rally for the best interest of everyone. Texas just went through a major winter storm. We aren’t used to seeing a deep freeze like that in your state. What were the directives like from you to your programmers at that time in finding the balance of keeping your own people safe, but at the same time, fulfilling your obligation as local broadcasters to keep the community informed during important moments?

SF: Yeah, this one was really tough for me. I’m going to Monday morning quarterback myself in a not so pleasant light. I think that this one just, it completely blew our mind. I’m prepared for a hurricane. I’m prepared for tropical storms. I’m prepared for a zombie apocalypse. I was not prepared for a freeze in Houston, Texas. I have my family here. My parents moved down a few years ago to live two streets away from me, so I have elderly parents. Then we have all of these people and I go immediately into taking care of the human mode.

It was hard to communicate. Our phones were down. I was completely out of communication for a full day, which I have never been before. During Harvey, I got to the studios and I lived there. That’s eventually what happened in this situation, but I was a day late because I couldn’t go anywhere and I was trying to take care of family and and my parents.

The radio became really important because it was like what you talked about before, we pulled out our hurricane radios and cranked them up. People all over the city were in their cars charging phones. We have all of this crazy Texans news going on. So, on the FMs we are talking about the deep freeze, but what we also were hearing from the listeners during this point was. ” just keep the music coming, because it’s all we’ve got.” It was a real struggle. What content do you put on? Do you go into all news and weather or do you keep trying to entertain? What I decided in that minute was that the best thing for us was to keep doing what we’re doing. We kept trying to entertain on the FMs and talk sports on the AM, and still mention it occasionally so listeners know we’re aware of what’s going on. But it wasn’t something that was our focus.

I think in retrospect, I would have taken one of our sticks and went to news and traffic and weather consistently, maybe even just simulcasting our TV partner, just so people had somewhere on the dial to turn for it. A lot of people felt out of the loop and were desperately wanting that information. I wish I would have put one channel dedicated to it. I think I made a mistake there and I won’t make that mistake again.

It’s really hard to know sometimes. I can tell you that I hope we don’t have another ice storm. Then I won’t have to worry about that. But I’m sure there’s going to be a hurricane this year because, I mean, why wouldn’t there be? So we’ll be ready for that. 

DR: Let’s go back to the Texans. You mentioned they’re your major play-by-play partner. Obviously, you want to do all you can to keep a good relationship with the team. If they win, more people listen, more clients buy ad time, everyone wins. But things change frequently in sports, and your audience is smart. With all of the news going on around the GM search and Deshaun Watson situation, I would guess there are some negative feelings among even the most diehard fans right now. How do you and Armen Williams discuss where the line is in terms of allowing talent and the audience to be realistic, frustrated, and critical versus worrying about might create friction with your partner?

SF: I think this is probably one of the most underestimated or underrated parts of the job for me, managing that play-by-play relationship and how delicate it is. When I got here in 2009, the team absolutely hated us. They wanted out. They weren’t going to sign the contract. They told us that. And it has been a work in progress ever since.

Texans Radio Live on Sports Radio 610

It’s really hard in my chair because I sit between the listeners who think that we’re being homers and our on air team who wants to go full bore toward whatever and be authentic. And they should be. I want them to be! But they get mad because, the perception is that they’re sometimes being homers when the perception from the team side is that we’re way too hard on them. It is a real balance between those two things.

I think it just comes down to the relationship with the team. I was really thankful that I built a strong relationship with the president of the team, Jamey Rootes, and I was very thankful that they named Greg Grissom his successor. Those were relationships that I had worked on for a long time and there’s a lot of trust there. We can call each other and immediately say, “hey, today is going to be a tough day”. We’ve found a really good balance, which is an understanding that it’s not always going to be great, but it can’t be personal. There’s a big line between “this is terrible” or “he’s an idiot”. That’s a pretty clear line and that’s what we try to walk. Let’s talk about things and be objective and fair, but let’s not get personal. 

DR: That relationship being one where you feel comfortable enough to pick up a phone and call the office and say, “hey, it’s going to be a tough day”, I would guess eliminates the opposite direction of them calling you at the end of the day and saying, “what the hell was that?”. 

SF: Oh, don’t get it twisted, it happens. It is inevitably on a day that I’m not listening. So we have five seasons. There’s five days in a week. I try to listen to a different station every day, which means that four days out of the week, I’m not listening to sports. If I see that call come up, it’s “Oh, God. What is it?” because I don’t know. I’m not prepared.

Armen has been really great. He will text me and say, “The twenty second person just accused DeShaun. Heads up. This just happened”. And so that’s been helpful in making sure I know what’s going on and there’s no blindsides coming. 

DR: Houston as a sports radio market I’ve always found interesting because if you count your CBS sports affiliated station, and David Gow’s SportsMap brand, we’re talking about five stations in the format in your market. That means all of those stations are offering sports content and battling for a share of the ratings which isn’t as large as some other places. So for you, what does major success look like for 610? Whether you’re talking about it right now under Armen or previously under Ryan McCredden, what is something that you believe someone coming in to lead the station has to understand in order to compete in Houston? 

SF: That’s a really tough question. I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about the sports landscape. I spend a lot of time thinking about the Houston landscape, because to me, our competitors are The Buzz (iHeart’s Alternative station in the market), and The Eagle (Cox’s Classic rock station in the market). I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about KBME, because their position is so different from us. They’re very focused on the Astros and Rockets, and quite frankly, I think our guys just put on better programing. Of course I do, right? I’m a tad biased.

When I think about the program director, I think it’s about telling a great story. I mean understanding how to keep the listener interested, telling them what they need to know, having a little bit of fun with it. Any station, whether it’s FM or AM, tends to take on a little of the personality of the program director. Armen’s got a terrific personality. He’s fun to be around. He’s energizing. He’s innovative. He comes up with great ideas. He’s passionate. He pushes me and that’s what I like. I like a partner who’s going to be like “this has to happen if we’re going to win” and he is constantly fighting and thinking.

That’s what I think I look for. I want somebody who’s going to want to compete and want to win, and that’s going to push me to do that and not do things the same way. I think that’s what comes across on the air. I think that’s why we’ve grown so much under Armen’s leadership because he’s relentless. He’s got a ton of energy. Holy God!

DR: Have you ever seen the photo of him from college painted head to toe in red and black? 

Image

SF: Oh, you bet I have. Well, you know, it’s that passion. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. That! !t’s a lot of fun. I think he’s won our Halloween costume contest twice. He is super competitive. I need to get you a picture of him as Richard Simmons. 

DR: Please do send me the picture just so I can text it to him in the middle of the night to let him know that I do have it and it could go up on the site at any moment. 

SF: You got it!

DR: So in recent years, Audacy and Entercom have made a real commitment to put women in market leadership positions, even in some of the biggest markets that they own. And it’s really interesting when this happens in a cluster that oversees a sports station, because Jason and I talk all the time about the lack of females in programming roles. If you look across the country, there are a few women in programming positions at national networks, but on the local level I can only think of Amanda Brown in Los Angeles who has that position. In your opinion, is there anything a company whether it’s Audacy or someone else, can do to change that, or is it a matter of starting even lower than that and developing the interest in being in this field and building those women up? 

SF: We have a problem with female program directors, period. That’s on the music side and sports side. It’s going to take people developing that talent. I’m going through it right now. I would love to hire a woman, but there’s not one that is available for another position that I have that is ready and I don’t have a bench spot. And that is the problem. We’re so thin on the programing side, that there’s not much room for a bench. I think we’re trying to find those spots. 

We’ve got a great APD on Mega in Liz, who is learning the ropes right now, and we’ve just promoted Mo to APD for 100.3 The Bull so that she can learn those ropes. I don’t know what’s being done everywhere else. Personally, I’m really trying to find those spaces. In sports, I think it’s really hard. We haven’t even had anyone on the air that would go into that role. So I think we’re going to have to really work toward it. But it’s tough.

To your question, there’s women overseeing clusters in a lot of our markets, and hats off to David Field, Susan Larkin, and Weezie Kramer, because they made a focused effort on making sure that the market manager position was much more equitable. I spent my first year at CBS being one of three female market managers. It was too few. It wasn’t right. Putting women in leadership positions like this, we will figure out how to fix that problem. But you’re right, it’s a problem and it does need to be fixed.

DR: I know there is no right answer to this question. I’m just genuinely curious how you approach it. I want to talk about the part of your job that involves managing up. What is your process or approach when you have to discuss bad news or maybe ask for a budget increase? In those conversations, is there a consistent thing you find yourself feeling you need to do or know before you’re ready to have that talk? 

SF: I would say I’m like a lot of women in the fact that I really lean on evidence based data. I look at the numbers consistently and I know my numbers and I understand what’s causing things and I get data to support me because numbers don’t lie.

I guess the question really is, “when am I not managing up?”, because my job is to manage up and to manage down. It’s that critical link between corporate and the market. Without somebody constantly following information both ways, I think it’s really easy for a market to feel isolated, and for corporate to not know what’s going on in that market.

TAB Names Brian Purdy Broadcaster of the Year

My relationship with Brian Purdy, it’s very unusual. I’ve been working with him for 19 years. There isn’t anything I can say that I think would change his opinion on who I am as a human being. He knows who I am. So I can be angry. I can be frustrated. I can be supremely candid. And it’s OK. I’m real lucky to have that relationship with him, and I understand that. It does give me the opportunity to say some things that some of my colleagues can’t. So often things will come through me up through Brian, that maybe it’s not safe for that message to be sent somewhere else.

Brian probably hates that. I love it because people can reach out to me and say, hey, will you send this message. You bet I will.

Then I have to sell my people up too, because everybody here does a terrific job and it’s really important for corporate to know who is doing what. I’ve been here long enough that I don’t need that credit. The credit can all go to them and I think it’s great to be able to shine a light on a great director of sales in Elena or a great programmer in Armen. I could talk about them all day. It’s the best. It’s the best group of people, and I’m just so lucky to work with them. 

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BSM Writers

Meet The Bettors: Jeremy Stein, SportsGrid

“You know, when we first started SportsGrid, a lot of the opportunity that we’ve seen in the past year, are opportunities that we never would have dreamed about.”

Demetri Ravanos

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on

Meet the Bettors - Jeremy Stein

Remember when America was debating whether or not daily fantasy sports was a form of gambling? There was never much of a question for Jeremy Stein. He knew it was gambling, because he was playing all the time.

It’s hard to say whether or not he knew that his employer, Metamorphic Ventures, investing in one of these companies would lead him down a new career path. All he knew is that there was something to this business.

Stein was more than just kind of successful in the daily fantasy world. He became the first person to ever win a million-dollar prize twice in the same calendar year back in 2016. But that was in the early days. Soon, the DFS sites would become more popular, and the games would get a lot harder. 

Like many sharp players during that time, Stein leaned into data to set his lineups. It was something that he and his partner Lou Maione quickly recognized as an opportunity. If you had strong data and took it to a host that was entertaining, it would create a product every sports fan in the country might value.

And that is how SportsGrid was born.

Today, Stein is the company’s CEO. In our conversation, presented by Point to Point Marketing, we touch on the opportunities embracing FAST TV has created for the brand, what opportunities will arise from the growth of women’s sports, and so much more.

Demetri Ravanos: What is the hole that would exist in the market if SportsGrid went away tomorrow? What segment of bettors do you look at and say, “no one can serve them like we do”?

Jeremy Stein: That’s a really interesting question because, we had a few tailwinds at SportsGrid. The first was sports gambling, where the government flipped the switch and said, “go grow in ways that you never thought were imaginable,” right?           

The second tailwind that we have is connected TV. SportsGrid is on 95% of all connected TVs. We have over thirty different distribution partners throughout the United States. So, we have very considerable scale within our category, and what we kind of discovered very early on on TV is the bulk of content on connected TVs is playback. If you look at FAST channels, there’s probably 2000 or more of them at this point, a lot of them are single IP channels, meaning there’s been a very successful sitcom and that IP owner just has a 24/7 channel of that IP going.          

The real niche that we got in on early on is that we are the only live sports network on a lot of these platforms. So, while we do cater to gambling enthusiasts, if you will, we really have a viewership body that encompasses all sports fans. That’s part of how we have evolved over time, because we were able to pick up on that observation that our opportunity is just a little bit bigger than focusing on, I’m not going to call it a narrow vertical, but sports betting in many respects is a little bit narrow. 

DR: It’s a niche vertical. I think all sports talk kind of is in that way. I was going to ask you about the appeal of FAST TV, but it seems like you laid it out perfectly there. So instead, let’s talk about the technology and future opportunities. I wonder if you look at what Roku has just done with Major League Baseball and think that opens up possibilities for SportsGrid that maybe you hadn’t considered before. 

JS: The simple answer to that is yes. When we first started SportsGrid, a lot of the opportunity that we’ve seen in the past year, are opportunities that we never would have dreamed about. We have looked at live rights. We have looked at tier one live rights in the past year.           

It just goes back to the trend. Last year was the first year where homes that do not subscribe to cable outnumbered those that do. You know, now we don’t just have a term called cord cutters. We also have a term that’s called cord-nevers. I think that it is just the natural evolution of where the leagues are going to go.           

I mean, we just saw Netflix do a deal with the NFL. While I understand that that is not FAST. I do think that over time and, this could be a decade in the future, but I do think that you will see, a lot more sports pop up on these platforms. 

DR: Yeah, I can see that myself. What did Scott Ferrall bring to SportsGrid when he came in? Certainly name recognition, but what else, in a business sense, did he add? 

JS: Scott is great and his show right now is sponsored by Bet MGM, and Bet MGM is a very important commercial partner for SportsGrid. Both sides are very happy with the way that relationship is blossoming. So he’s very important in that respect.           

You know, SportsGrid is not just 18 hours of live video content on a daily basis. We’re 21 hours of live original audio. We have channel 159 on Sirius XM. And of course, Scott is by far and away our biggest talent in the audio category. He does have the Sirius XM audience. You know, he came from Howard Stern way back in the day. So, he’s a pretty dynamic talent, if you will, for SportsGrid. We’ve been very happy to leverage him in various ways. 

DR: I sort of have a two-part question here, because doing what I do, when I go to SportsGrid.com, one of the first landing spots for me is industry news. How much do you think the average user of SportsGrid is interested in things like when states go legal, something like the pushback going on in Florida right now, and will that get to the Supreme Court from a media standpoint?           

I tell sports radio hosts all the time that people care far less about us than we think they do. What about in the gambling world? 

JS: News is a very big category, and obviously it’s broad, right? It’s not just general sports news. It is what is happening in the gambling industry. We are fortunate enough to have a lot of data on every show that we produce, and we have seen a lot of positive momentum uncovering specific industry news. So, a lot of what you actually see, on the web, for example, we believe that is largely a gap in the market based on our viewership.           

One thing you’re going to start to see on SportsGrid, more and more is we launched a college transfer portal show. There is no major media outlet on broadcast television that is doing a dedicated show, relating specifically to the college transfer portal. It makes college football and college basketball year-round sports. We believe that that’s a big gap in the market. So, you’ll also see a lot of that content flowing through our website too, and not just on our website, but also a lot of our syndication partners like MSN.           

Everything we do here has a data driven focus. So if you’re seeing a lot of a specific vertical, there’s a reason for it. It’s largely because that’s what our viewers demand. 

DR: Interesting. So, from the standpoint of what is going on in the gambling industry, the idea of the Supreme Court taking up a case related to Florida is interesting because it is such a complicated issue there, as it involves the Indian Gaming Act. Do you think we’re going to see that go in front of the Supreme Court? 

JS: Look, I’m certainly not in a position to comment on a legal matter that I’m not really close to, to be perfectly honest with you. But Florida is a very populous state, and that is another reason, to your point, why there is so much interest in it, right?           

I think it does speak to the fact that there is a real demand for sports wagering within the state of Florida. But look, the complexities and nuances behind all of the lobbying and a lot of the legal cases that are happening there are certainly beyond our scope. 

DR: I was reading an article in the Miami Herald earlier this week that was talking about the effect Lionel Messi has had in betting markets around the world, because even if MLS isn’t on a country’s soccer radar, he certainly is. Can you think of any other athlete that has had that sort of effect on bettors or on his league, where he can get bettors to pay attention to something they usually would not? 

JS: I think the examples of that are probably few and far between. You know, soccer is one of the true international sports, and with that comes a very large betting market. I think it is certainly kind of unique in that sense, right? You’re not going to see that with an NBA player moving into the Chinese basketball league. You might see the media attention that kind of happens there. It’s certainly not going to drive the amount of betting handle that we have seen in soccer. 

DR: What about betting as the popularity of women’s sports and female athletes have increased? What has been the demand for content from you guys, whether it’s Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut, the women’s NCAA tournament, or whatever it might be? 

JS: There’s a ton of demand. We’ve always had an interest in women’s sports. We’ve produced, in the past, shows for the WNBA. And I think that that demand is only going to continue to grow. Women’s sports, from an economic standpoint, is a huge area of growth. Alongside of that comes all of the viewership. So, we’re very excited, about women’s sports. You’ll absolutely see a lot more coverage from SportsGrid going forward. 

DR: So I want to wrap with a follow up to that, because the way you guys think about creating content with providing that data to talented people that can command attention, as women’s sports grow in popularity, and it then becomes more and more of a part of what you do. Do you foresee the people you have now, because they have the talent, being able to intelligently cover it or would you  have to go out and hire people more versed in and live in that world? 

JS: It’s a little bit of both. You know, you always want to find a talent that resonates with the audience. We’re pretty confident that we have a few of those in our stable. But of course, we will always look to bring in fresh faces. Yeah, it’s a really dynamic market, and it’s something that we are incredibly excited about. 

To learn more about Point-To-Point Marketing’s Podcast and Broadcast Audience Development Marketing strategies, contact Tim Bronsil at [email protected] or 513-702-5072.

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An Easy Way for Sports Radio Stations to Get Publicity for Their Talent and Brands

The truth is, we can do a much better job at our jobs with a little help from you.

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Having been in this role with Barrett Sports Media for almost six months, there is one thing that has really surprised me. I am shocked at how little we hear from some sports radio stations. There are some PDs and other executives out there who do a great job keeping us informed of any changes and one or two who send us information when they have something special going on, but the silence from the heavy majority of leaders in sports radio is shocking and confusing to me.

When I was running stations or sales teams, I would often say, “If we aren’t going to tell our story, who the heck else is going to do it for us?”

Well, in this case, we will do it for you if you let us know about it and it’s worthy of coverage. It’s like that other famous line in Jerry Maguire – “Help me, help you.”

Perhaps we just need to let you know what we are looking for. So, let me take this time and space to let you know and maybe we can work together more often moving forward.

Obviously, we will cover your major personnel changes. If you are adding someone to your team or giving someone a promotion for the hard work they have done, let us know about it. There are no stories we would like to tell more than ones about people in our industry advancing. We want to highlight those people and the stations and companies that are taking notice of what someone is doing and rewarding them for it.

Where are the rising stars? We profile many people in the industry and enjoy doing that so others can read about successful people and learn what it is that makes them stand out. This can be a weekday host, someone standing out during off-peak times or producers, digital or promotions staff. Let us know who is performing at a high level and perhaps we can feature them and tell their story so others can see who they are and the work they’ve done.

On the business side, I’d like to feature your top salespeople or sales leaders in one of my ‘Seller to Seller’ features. Let me know someone who is killing it out on the streets and let’s highlight their success. Personally, I’d love to write about some sellers who are fairly new to the industry but are really having success, whether that be a younger person hired or someone who had never been in the space before but has really caught on. Or who is your veteran seller who has done the best job of adapting to the new, digital world?

What is your station doing that is unique? There are a couple of stations, which you can probably figure out if you are paying attention, that are very good about sending us a quick note when they are doing something different or special. We may not always write a story about it, but several times we have, and we would not have known about it had the station management not given us a heads up.

I like to hear about the creative process, and I know other station managers appreciate learning what others are doing to creatively drive audience or revenue. Have someone in your building who is the creative brain behind many of your ideas? Let us know about them, let’s let everyone know about them.

We are here to cover the industry. It would be great if we could listen to all of your stations each and every day, but that would be impossible. Plus, you know what is about to happen so getting the information out to us beforehand can help us plan our coverage. The truth is, we can do a much better job at our jobs with a little help from you. I know everyone is busy but think about what it would mean to a staff member for someone to reach out and say, ‘Your boss told us about the great work you’ve been doing,’ or ‘We heard about the great idea you came up with, we want to tell the story about what you created.’

I’d also like to do more stories that relate to things you have to deal with on a day-to-day basis, stories that can be written that others may look at and learn something from, maybe get a tip on how to handle a particular situation or just get your thoughts on a particular media story. I plan to reach out to more of you to get your thoughts on things happening in our industry. You are the leaders who are there to take this format into the future, I want to know what you think, and I believe that is what our readers want as well.

When you take a step back and think about what we get to do for a living, that we all get to be in and around sports coverage in our communities, that’s pretty cool. Let’s work together to help advance the format by keeping people up to date on the great things going on in sports radio.

I am not hard to reach. My email is [email protected] and while I know several of you, the majority I do not know, but I’d like to. Reach out, let me know what’s happening at your station, send over a topic you want to hear what others might think about or let’s just connect and next time I’m looking for someone to give their thoughts and opinions, perhaps I can reach out to you as a thought leader in the space.

The invitation is there to get your station, your people and your successes highlighted. I don’t think I can make it more clear or easier. I hope you take advantage of it.

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The Best Thing I Heard Recently

I was flipping through SiriusXM last week and caught Mike Florio talking on Pro Football Talk Live about the NFL schedule release and the topic was whether or not it is fair for certain teams to have so many stand-alone games.

Florio’s point was that these games have “an extra layer of stress and strain.” Despite the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl last year with a prime-time heavy schedule, Florio used the Jets early season schedule as the best example of the league making it very tough on a team with quick turnarounds, international travel and several stand-alone games.

The segment really made you think. You can listen to the show by clicking here. Look for Episode 1956.

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In Case You Missed It

Last week, Andy Masur weighed in on what might happen to Inside the NBA now that it appears TNT will lose the NBA media rights. Andy says he is convinced the show only works on TNT and others have agreed saying networks like NBC probably wouldn’t allow the show to have as much freedom as TNT has.

About the current show, Masur wrote, “This show is the envy of all other studio shows. Other networks have tried to copy the formula but have failed. It’s really hard to duplicate what this show brings to the viewer.”

You can read Andy’s article by clicking here.

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One Mistake by a Sports Broadcaster Should Not Define Their Career

Look, it doesn’t mean that these broadcasters are horrible human beings.

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Photos of Glen Kuiper, Charissa Thompson and Thom Brennaman

We’ve seen numerous broadcasters lose, his/her job over the years because of slip ups, hot mics and misspeaks. Situations that could have been avoided but happened. Some of these cases are more prominent than others, due to the profile of the job lost and the nature of the words said by the sports broadcaster.

I bring this up because of the dubious anniversary that just passed. It was a year ago, that Glen Kuiper was fired by the Oakland A’s for the use of the “N-word” during the opening of a telecast. The A’s were in Kansas City and Kuiper spoke about his trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with broadcast partner Dallas Braden during a pregame segment on NBC Sports California. Kuiper attempted to say, “We had a phenomenal day today, Negro League Museum and Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque,” but he mispronounced “negro,” in a way that sounded like a racial slur.

“A little bit earlier in the show, I said something that didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it to. I just wanted to apologize if it sounded different than I meant it to be said… I just wanted to apologize for that.” Kuiper said during the game.

After initially being suspended, Kuiper was let go May 22, 2023. This even after Negro League Museum President Bob Kendrick forgave him in a Tweet the night of the incident.

“I’m aware of the unfortunate slur made by Glen Kuiper. I welcomed Glen to the NLBM yesterday and know he was genuinely excited to be here,” Kendrick tweeted Saturday. “The word is painful and has no place in our society. And while I don’t pretend to know Glen’s heart, I do know that my heart is one of forgiveness. I hope all of you will find it in yourselves to do the same.”

Still teams don’t have a lot of choice but to suspend and/or fire the broadcaster in those cases. Slurs aren’t acceptable. Teams serve their entire fanbase, not just one specific race or gender. Offensive language about one is handled as offensive language about all. It’s a tough thing for teams to deal with for sure.

About 4 years ago, the Cincinnati Reds and their television flagship were put in a similar situation after an unfortunate on-air slip by broadcaster Thom Brennaman. The veteran announcer issued an on-air apology after he was caught uttering a gay slur on a mic he didn’t realize was on. Like with Kuiper, Brennaman was at first suspended and then fired. It also cost him his national job with Fox Sports.

Brennaman tried to grow from the experience and soon after he was pulled from the air, he heard from some folks in the LGBTQ+ community. From all over the country. Brennaman met with leaders of the community in Cincinnati. In one of those meetings, he encountered some who thought he was a fraud, just trying to get his job back. Brennaman was not. He has spent the last four years continuing to move forward.

He told me in 2022, “I don’t want the rest of my life or career to be defined by a lot of people as being a homophobe. That’s what I’ve tried to explain to my kids”. “There are going to be people and I’ve had a hard time coming to grips with this, because I know I am not a homophobe. I know I’m not. But I used a word that can put me in that category and some people are never going to let me out of that category. I wish they didn’t feel that way, and I know I’m not a homophobe, but you got to move on and keep doing the best you can, that’s all you can do.”

This is not a recent phenomenon either. Broadcasters in the 80’s, 90’s and into the 2000’s have also been let go for unsavory comments.

Many remember Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, who appeared as the ‘gambling expert’ on the early days of The NFL Today on CBS. He was let go in 1988 after making a racially insensitive comment to a reporter.

Steve Lyons, then of MLB on Fox was fired for a making a racially insensitive comment during Game 3 of the 2006 ALCS.

Danyelle Sargent dropped an F-bomb on national television after ESPNEWS experienced technical difficulties during her segment in 2006.

Emily Austen was a Fox Sports Reporter that was fired in 2016 for making insensitive remarks about Mexican, Jewish and Chinese people. She appeared on a Barstool sports podcast where she made the comments.

The list goes on and on.

Interestingly enough, Charissa Thompson wasn’t fired for admitting that she made up stories as part of her halftime reporting duties. She also appeared on a Barstool podcast and flippantly remarked how she did this early in her career. I know she didn’t insult a racial, religious or gender related group, but she certainly upset many in the industry. Especially those that cover the sidelines for various networks right now. Should ethics count the same as the other slip ups?

Some can get carried away when appearing on shows other than their own, like the example above with Austen and Thompson. There’s a callousness that pops up in the brain, saying, “this isn’t a network show, I can swear and be myself”. Dangerous thoughts to say the least. You are still representing your organization/network and yourself when appearing on these other shows and podcasts.  

Look, it doesn’t mean that these broadcasters are horrible human beings. Everybody makes a slip up. Broadcasters though are looked at in a different manner. They are the voices of our favorite sports and are supposed to be like a member of the family, right? We spend a lot of time with them during the season and feel like we get to know them.  So, it becomes that much more shocking when that person says something inappropriate.

The initial shock and awe of the situation causes many to rush to a certain judgement. There’s no getting around what was said, everybody heard it. Should a ‘slip up’ be a career death sentence though? I think that each should be taken into consideration separately. It also depends, to me, on the apology and what that broadcaster does to go beyond words to understand why the comments were hurtful.

I’m not sure what the correct answer is to all of this.

There are some that feel, instead of firing the broadcaster, suspend them and make them work to regain the trust of the team and network. They feel like there is a missed opportunity to maybe use these situations as an educational platform.

Broadcasters need to watch themselves much more closely these days. The second you say something incorrect, ridiculous or hurtful, it’s on social media. There is no escape. You are presumed guilty in the court of public opinion before you can even blink an eye.

In these moments, context and apology is everything. One slip up, mistake, misspeak or whatever you want to call them, is one too many. But, at the same time, long illustrious careers should not be defined by one incident.

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