Last week, we ran a story on the site about Bomani Jones criticizing an age old criticism. He said that Alejandro Villanueva was destined for sports radio greatness after the newest Baltimore Raven took a shot at former teammate Juju Smith-Schuster. Villanueva said receivers were divas. Jones said that criticism is lazy and outdated.
That got our wheels turning here at BSM. What are the topics and gimmicks that really, truly showcase just how lazy a radio show is in terms of topic selection and content execution?
This draft is staying in house. Jason Barrett, Jeff Caves, Ryan Maguire, Tyler McComas, Brian Noe, and Demetri Ravanos took turns drafting to each create a team of three insanely lazy examples of sports radio. Enjoy the results!
1. Demetri Ravanos – Locks
You HAVE to have some kind of gambling presence on your show these days, but there is nothing lazier than just telling me who you like against the spread. That is what the internet is for. When you talk gambling, you need to be creative and compelling so that even the guy that will never place a bet is still interested in what you have to say.
2. Jason Barrett – Mount Rushmore
How many times must hosts go to the well to execute a bit that has no payoff, no right answer, and little entertainment value? Anytime I hear this teased on a show, I know to tune out. It may have been cool in 2010-2015, but it’s a tired act in 2021. Great talent can find much better ways to entertain, inform and draw a reaction from their audience than busting out the Mount Rushmore of _____ bit.
3. Tyler McComas – GOAT Debates
We’re all guilty of this one, but if you’re still having segments debating who’s better between Jordan and Lebron, STOP! This argument has went on for so long, there’s nothing new to be added that we haven’t heard 10,000 times before. And plus, this whole conversation just screams of someone calling in and taking up 8 minutes of air time.
4. Brian Noe – Does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame?
It could be the most drawn out debate in the history of sports talk — brace yourself — should Pete Rose be in the Baseball Hall of Fame? There is no meat left on that bone. And it’s been that way for the past decade.
5. Jeff Caves – Asking listeners to respond to someone else’s column
When the local columnist does a hit piece , we don’t need to just ride that wave of controversy. Especially when we start reading from the article and defending it as if we wrote it. It is better to carve out our own conclusions and have a few points to back up our own opinion especially if it is different than the columnist.
6. Ryan Maguire – Ask me anything
Whenever I hear a host say this, it tells me that they have NOTHING to talk about. Listeners tune into a show because they want to listen and react to what a host has to say. Telling an audience that you have “open lines” is the epitome of mailing it in. Any host who thinks this is a good idea should probably go do something else for a living.
7. Ryan Maguire – Best sports movies
Caddyshack or Happy Gilmore? Field of Dreams or Moneyball? Rocky or Raging Bull? This was a great sports topic on a slow day 20 years ago. Now, it’s a major eye-roller as it’s been overdone more than a prison meatloaf. No one needs to listen to a radio show to get movie recommendations. Netflix and Amazon Prime do that for me every time I go online.
8. Jeff Caves – Favorite sports memory with Dad
When we troll for personal experiences from our audience it feels like we are one step removed from just turning over the show to the caller. I don’t think we would promo our show “coming up, your memories of your father, next! “ Would anybody really care about that? How will you interact with them? Gee wow that’s cool. That’s great. Etc, etc. Survey radio is so superficial. Stop it!
9. Brian Noe – Teasing phone calls
“Your calls next,” is easily the laziest tease in sports radio. It doesn’t even qualify as an actual tease. It’s a tease’s delinquent cousin that wasn’t invited to the party but somehow still showed up.
10. Tyler McComas – What’s on your Super Bowl plate?
This inevitably will take over some shows on Friday before the Super Bowl and the answers are ALWAYS the same. I’ve even heard some hosts use this same question for the National Championship in college football. What? Why? Look, chicken wings are great, but let’s use a little more originality than this topic the week of the biggest sporting event of the year, please.
11. Jason Barrett – MJ vs. LeBron
Why is it necessary to compare LeBron James to Michael Jordan every time he’s in the news? Are we that unwilling to dig deeper to create content involving the NBA’s most popular star? I get that it’s an easy way out. Mention this silly debate which has no right answer and watch the phone lines light up. But is that the goal of your show? If your measure of success is counting how many people lit the lines up, do this. If you’d rather keep the other 99% in your market listening to your show, steer clear of introducing the same tired debate and discussion.
12. Demetri Ravanos – Getting pissed at a player for holding out
If you are ever pro management/ownership in a labor dispute, then you are a bad person. But that’s not really my objection. Nothing screams that you are incapable of critical thought or too lazy to do anything more than pander than phrases like “I’d like to see him go to work at a real job, like we do” or “I could never tell my boss that I am not coming in until I get a raise”. Yeah, you couldn’t. You know why? No one is going to pay $100 to come watch you talk into a microphone, dummy.
13. Demetri Ravanos – Do you want Trent Dilfer’s career or Dan Marino’s?
The classic championship versus individual greatness debate. We only think it is worth debating because lazy hosts won’t stop doing it. If the choices are Dilfer or Marino and you pick Dilfer, you need a hug and for someone to tell you to value yourself. These “classic debates” are already mind-numbingly boring. They are so much worse when we have to bend over backwards to pretend the answer isn’t so obvious.
14. Jason Barrett – Open phones
How many times have you heard a host say this ‘whatever’s on your mind, dial us up and we’ll talk about it’? Open lines without direction makes a host sound reliant on the audience. It can work for talent with longstanding track records because people are so eager to connect with them, they’ll sit thru anything. But if you’re under 40-45 and trying to establish yourself, ‘is this really the path you want to explore when content options are available everywhere else?’ Connecting with people on the air can be entertaining. This isn’t a question of whether or not calls work. I’m in favor of audience involvement. Just lead them somewhere. Tell them what you’re interested in and what you need their input on. Don’t put the fate of your next 10 minutes in their hands and not know where your show is heading. You’re a talk show host, not a telephone operator.
15. Tyler McComas – Interviews with the opponent’s beat writer
I find that most beat writers aren’t very entertaining on the radio. That’s not meant to be a dig, their job is to be a great writer, not a great radio guest. Most of these interviews usually consist of info the hosts and fans already know. I’m not saying you shouldn’t interview someone from the other team, but try to be more unique than depending on the guy from the local newspaper.
16. Brian Noe – Hot takes
A hot take is seen as a tactic to get attention, but it’s more than that; it’s also a lazy way to generate content. Anybody can throw out something outlandish like, “Steph Curry is a system quarterback,” to knock out a few segments.
17. Jeff Caves – What’s your score prediction?
In one topic towns, often on Fridays, this “closest score prediction wins a prize on Monday” segment happens. It can go on for an hour. Each caller struggles to have the depth it takes to make a compelling reason for the outcome. Its like we are expecting 15 handicappers to call us and entertain the audience. Whats worse than too any handicappers on the air? Too many callers acting like handicappers on the air.
18. Ryan Maguire – Trivia
So, who led the American League in on-base percentage in 1978? Oh, the tension as you listen to the caller hem and haw while they try and Google the answer. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY…NO! Sports trivia used to be a popular feature on many shows years ago, now it’s just painful to listen to. If I wanted to play games, there are apps for that.
And there you have it. Hard to believe trivia lasted all the way to being Mr. Irrelevant in this draft! What a steal for Ryan Maguire. To recap, here are our teams.
- Blaming players for holding out
- Would you rather have Trent Dilfer’s career or Dan Marino’s?
- Mount Rushmore
- MJ vs. LeBron
- Open Phones
- GOAT debates
- What’s on your Super Bowl Plate?
- Interviewing the opponent’s beat writer
- Does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame?
- Teasing phone calls
- Hot takes
- Asking listeners to respond to someone else’s column
- Favorite sports memory with dad
- What’s your score prediction?
- Ask me anything
- Best sports movies
Now it is your turn to play Kiper and/or McShay. Who drafted the laziest team? Who lost? What can you believe did not get picked? Let us know in the comments or on social media.
Or if you are too lazy for that, just keep it in your head and know you’re right.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
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.