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 Jones said that criticism is lazy and outdated.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.
Media Noise – Episode 44
This week’s episode is all about the NFL. Demetri explains why the league embracing kids is long overdue, Andy Masur stops by to breakdown the first Manningcast, and Ryan Maguire explains why some sports radio stations are missing a golden opportunity to shine on Sundays.
Interviews Thrive On Podcasts In A Way They Can’t On Radio
“Opportunities that a podcast creates open doors to audio that is simply superior to live radio.”
Live radio vs. podcasts seems to be a heavyweight fight that isn’t ending anytime soon. Podcasts are growing so much that companies that do radio are also now offering podcasts. This column is hardly about that fight.
Instead, this is about how a podcast interview is a better way to get the best out of the guest than anything live on a radio station. This is not about downloads or clicks or sponsors. Solely about the content that is being produced.
A podcast makes the guest more comfortable and is more intimate than a live radio show. Especially in sports.
Since 2015, I have hosted and produced 656 podcasts (yes it was fun to count them) and hosted many radio shows. My current shows are called Sports with Friends, Hall of Justice, and Techstream. That last one I host with tech expert Shelly Palmer.
On radio, there is a myriad of things the host has to do besides focus on the guest.
First, there are the IDs. Program directors have always told me ID the guest every chance I get. “We are talking with Eli Manning on WFAN,” is heard 7 times during an eight-minute segment.
On a podcast, the name of the guest is on the player or app that is playing the podcast. “Episode 1. Eli Manning, New York Giants” scrolls across smartphones, car radios, or other devices constantly. Never interrupt the guest with an ID.
Then, there’s the fact that it is recorded and not live. I have a standard preamble that I say to any guest before any record light turns on.
“I will push,” I explain. “I will see where the conversation takes us, but I do tend to push. However, I’m on your side. This isn’t some expose’. If something comes up that you don’t like your answer, tell me. I’ll take it out. If there’s something that I say that is bad or wrong, tell me, I’ll take it out. This is a conversation, not an interview.”
In 656 podcasts, only one player, Bryce Harper (then of the Washington Nationals) asked me to take something out of a podcast.
We were doing Episode 54 of Sports with Friends when the subject of Dusty Baker came up. He had just been hired to manage the Nationals. I mentioned in passing that Dusty had given the eulogy at my best friend Darryl Hamilton’s funeral.
Bryce was so intrigued that he recalled the comments I had made and asked if we could pause. We then spoke for a good 10 minutes about the kind of person Dusty was. Why Darryl held him in such regard. It was a really inciteful chat. Never was on the podcast.
Still, guests do relax when told that the editing option exists. They let their guard down. The host of a podcast can ask deeper questions.
“Who was the first person you called when you found out you were traded?”
“Have you seen a life for you after football?”
“How much do you hate a certain player?”
All questions, that if asked live, could seriously backfire. So not only does the guest have a guard up, but the interviewer also has to play it relatively safe, when they are not IDing the guest for the umpteenth time.
Time constraints also don’t exist in a podcast where they are beholden on live radio. The guest is just about to tell you they did cocaine during the World Series, and you are up against the clock.
I have hosted shows over the years where the guest was phenomenal, but I screwed up the PPM clock. That was the takeaway. The clock is important on a live medium that needs to get that quarter-hour.
I try to keep my podcasts short. You wouldn’t see it from looking at the lengths of my episodes. Still, I feel that if someone wants to talk and dive into a topic and it goes a little long, I will never cut the guy off.
Ken Griffey Jr. spoke for 45 minutes with a cigar and his feet up on the phone by his pool. He was telling jokes and stories. I wouldn’t have stopped that if a train was coming. When I hosted Mariner content at KJR in Seattle, our interviews usually last 5 minutes.
Jon Morosi broke down the future of clubhouse access and how he traveled during Covid. Then he told an amazing story of his wife working in the medical field and how that impacted all of his family. Shannon Drayer of 710 KIRO got so in-depth in her arduous journey from being a coffee barista to the Mariners on-field reporter. It was split into two episodes.
Former porn star Lisa Ann talked about her decision to quit the business. Even Jason Barrett himself was Episode 173 of Sports with Friends.
(When in the past has Jason Barrett been in the same paragraph as a porn star? Note to Demetri: please leave it in.)
The radio industry is seen to be cutting costs wherever it can. Mid-market stations are not doing night shows anymore, instead offering nationally syndicated programming.
Weekends are another avenue that perplexes me. Talent that is not deemed good enough to be on during the week is often given weekend shifts. Also, some Monday-Friday hosts add a weekend shift to their duties. Here’s a theory: play podcasts. Format them to hit your PPM time marks.
They don’t have to be my podcasts, but in the crowded podcast space, surely there are sports talk podcasts that are intimate, deep, and fun. Since we live in a data-driven age, let’s see how a radio station fares playing high-quality podcasts or portions of them, vs. weekend hosts.
Program directors often worry about the outdated nature of a podcast. That sells the podcaster short. As someone who has been in the podcast space since 2003, I know how to make them timeless, and companies make shows often enough, that rarely would they be outdated.
Quality shines through the speakers. The spoken-word audio format is continually evolving. Opportunities that a podcast creates open doors to audio that is simply superior to live radio.
The podcast industry is continually evolving. Radio needs to evolve as well. Then, it can be a fair fight.
National Voices Can Work For Local Clients
“Distance, like absence, can make the heart grow fonder.”
Selling personalities is one of the hottest trends in media today. Sure, most of the buzz is around social media influencers, but radio has long had a relationship with its audience based on personal connections between host and listener. And nobody has a better relationship with their audience than a sports radio host.
I am sure you are leveraging your local hosts by now. Live spots, testimonials, remotes, and promotions are all great tricks of the trade, as well as sponsored social media posts. But does your station carry syndicated shows? I am sure you do either from 7 pm-12 am Monday-Friday or on weekends.
In 2018, The Ticket in Boise, Idaho brought CBS Sports Radio host Damon Amendolara and his co-host, Shaun Morash, to town for a Boise State football game. Damon had just switched to mornings from evenings, and his show aired in Boise from 4 am-8 am Monday – Friday. His ratings were decent, but nothing that stood out considering the daypart. It was thought to be risky to sell him into sandwich shops, pizza places, appearances at local legend hangouts, and so forth.
Boise State head football coach and QB Bryan Harsin and Brett Rypien did a live shot on the show from the on-campus bookstore. At dark thirty. It all worked. DA and Morash were hits! Everywhere they went, lines and crowds awaited them and they hit spots in a two-county area. The few days of appearances worked so well that DA is back in Boise three years later, this time for a week. Now, DA is doing his show from resort hotels 2.5 hours away, taking riverboat adventure fishing trips in Hell’s Canyon, craft beer tours for his sidekick Andrew Bogusch and hosting college football viewing parties at brewpubs. Every station that carries syndicated shows probably has a DA success story waiting to happen.
Start by listening to the shows, know the benchmarks and quirks of the national personalities or call the affiliate rep and ask. Does the talent discuss their love of beer, BBQ, pizza, whatever? If they do, then go ahead and sell them to a local client. The national talent can do the spot and endorse your client. If it’s a product, send one to them. Figure out how to get them a pizza. If it’s a service, do a zoom call with the client and let them start a relationship. Include some social media elements with video. The video can be used in social media and can sit on the client’s website. Yours too!
If you want to bring the talent to town, do it for a big game, local event, or 4th of July parade, and the sponsors will follow. Run a promo during the talent’s daypart asking local sponsors to text in to reserve their promotional spot. Have the talent cut liners asking the same thing. Take the NFL Sunday morning host and sell a promo to a sports bar where the host zooms in to a table or room full of listeners, and they watch a portion of a game together. Or sell the same idea to a national chain and do an on-air contest for a listener to have a home watch party with the zoomed-in host complete with food and beverages from your sponsors sent to both locations. How about sending your #1 BBQ joint that handles mail orders and sends some food for the talent? They can videotape themselves reheating the BBQ and make some great Facebook and Instagram videos.
Distance, like absence, can make the heart grow fonder. Try selling a nationally syndicated host inside your market. I promise you’ll like it.
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