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Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Somers, And The Death Of Appointment Listening

“As I saw that post, both last night and again the next morning, I immediately realized that the audio of this appearance would shortly be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the Audacy app, and a podcast that I subscribe to already.”

Seth Everett

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For a radio station with the iconic history as WFAN possesses, comedian Jerry Seinfeld calling into the radio station isn’t a huge moment. But it’s not a small one either. On social media, people posted that Seinfeld was calling host Steve Somers.

I did not move a muscle.

Don’t get me wrong. Seinfeld is an icon. I am a massive fan of it all: the show about nothing, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Heck, I’ve even seen the Bee Movie.

I had just finished a live show Monday night when I saw the post. “Seinfeld is on with Somers right now on WFAN!!!!!,” Joan Chin of Sirius/XM Radio wrote. As I saw that post, both last night and again the next morning, I immediately realized the audio of this appearance would shortly be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the Audacy app, and a podcast that I subscribe to already.

Instantly, it became apparent that appointment listening was no longer a thing. If someone was in their car, they might have already been listening to the FAN. Forget the words demographic, rating, or share. Did a person find out Seinfeld was calling in, and go to a radio to listen?

If so, how old was that person?

Appointment listening has long been a staple of sports radio. I can remember when George Steinbrenner was a guest on Mike and Mad Dog in 1990. The station wasn’t clear on my radio in my room (I was 16 years old), so I borrowed the keys to my dad’s car to sit on the driveway (I only had a driver’s permit) to hear the Boss be grilled by Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. I distinctly recall my mother calling to me from the front door to come in for dinner, but I could not leave until Steinbrenner did.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” said former radio programmer Don Kollins who now works with Twitch. “That appointment radio is gone or going the way of the dinosaur. Digital is taking over and everything happens in digital-first and radio is playing catch up. Radio’s not going to be the platform to break things down the road. They are going to be a place where people react.”

This is not just on WFAN by any stretch. Their parent company, newly renamed Audacy, makes clips and podcasts all the time. They promote digital. While I wasn’t checking their app when I saw Joan’s post, they were promoting clips shortly after Jerry’s appearance concluded.

That sufficed for any Seinfeld fan.

Speaking of podcasts, that’s what I listen to more than anything else. I have my lists (future column on my must-listen podcasts coming to BSM soon). On my lists are many sports radio stations. However, there is a new trend where these stations are posting full hours on a podcast.

A podcast can be many things. Regurgitating whole hours seems to lack any creativity. Take the medium and bring something new to the table. Most stations have a staff of people. Someone must have an idea to make some of the station’s content appear unique.

I should note that KJR in Seattle does something really smart. They feature two separate feeds for Dave “Softy” Mahler and Dick Fain. One feed handles specific interview segments while a separate feed highlights whole hours. I check out their great segments, while those with more time might enjoy the latter.

Still, the new normal may be that people will turn to digital. It is not a bad thing in the slightest. The only issue is the transition. As companies that run radio stations turn their focus, the older generation still clings to a medium that doesn’t resonate like it used to. Of the magic 25-54 demographic, the emphasis seems to be more like 45-54, while the 25-44 are leaning towards finding digital-first.

“I feel where the switch is on between radio ratings, Nielsen and PPM, carrying a meter and finding out weeks, if not months later, how you did in the ratings is so archaic that it’s gone,” said Kollins. “It’s gone the way of the dinosaur already.

“In a platform like Twitch, you can do a show and find out what your ratings are within an hour of that show. You know, how you did. I think that’s the basic switch where radio has lost that ability to cash in on the advertising. It’s going digital, and it’s going to digital very, very quickly. Radio is suffering.”

Still, if corporations that are owning radio stations continue to change their focus, perhaps they can adapt from radio to digital like people moved on from AM to FM. 8-Tracks to cassettes to CDs to iPods to what we have now.

Just, if Jerry Seinfeld calls in, I’ll catch when I catch it. It’s not like that time when he answered his phone shouting “If you know what happened in the Met game don’t tell me I taped it! Hello!” 

Told you I was a fan.

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

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

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WRONG BAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WORTH EVERY PENNY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BSM Writers

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

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

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

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

But is that why you sell sports radio?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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

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