Women, money, and Tim Tebow — all things in life that cause men to say and do stupid things. To be fair, plenty of women have also gotten caught in the Tebow bear trap. There has never been a sports figure that has generated more stupid comments based on performance than Timothy Richard Tebow. Nobody. He’s at the top of the list. The GOAT.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer has been kicking around the idea of offering Tebow a one-year deal to play tight end. No, seriously. It sounds like a Hollywood movie script gone wrong, but somehow this is a real thing. Just the potential of Tebow landing with the Jags has sparked an onslaught of foolishness.
Of course you have the blind believers; the people that say things like, “He’s a leader. The guy is just a winner.” I list these folks under the heading “crazy.” They’re the same people who were waxing poetic nearly a decade ago about a guy that has a 47.9 career completion percentage, and a 75.3 career passer rating. That isn’t good enough to qualify as rotten, yet somehow Tebow is a major asset in their eyes.
It isn’t just Tebow’s production that some people are wildly inaccurate about. It’s also the speculation as to why he’s supposedly on the brink of an opportunity. “White privilege” has been mentioned. Hmm, let’s think about that for a second. Do you honestly think Urban Meyer looked at the Jags depth chart and said, “Man, we definitely need more white guys on this squad”? Really?
This is a classic case of trying to recreate a winning formula from the past. The Raiders have tried for decades to recreate the Cliff Branch vertical passing attack. Steve Spurrier signed a bunch of former Florida guys when he coached at Washington. Meyer is trying to regenerate the magic of Percy Harvin at Florida by shoehorning running back Travis Etienne into a hybrid role. Meyer is also trying to recreate Tebow’s presence and leadership in Jacksonville. The problem is that Tebow hasn’t played the tight end position to begin with, or an NFL game since 2012. It’s laughable, but it isn’t white privilege. That’s just another wacky theory in a sea of bad Tebow takes.
Maybe you’re reasonable about Tebow. If so, I applaud you. But do you go off the rails elsewhere? Has your rooting interest caused you to be stupid about other athletes?
There are a lot of Tom Brady wackos out there. Last Saturday, NFL Network replayed Tampa’s 34-23 loss to the Saints in Week 1 last year. It was open season after that loss. “Brady’s washed. He doesn’t have the arm strength anymore. He’s a product of the Patriots culture and a system quarterback.” Yeah, he went on to win another Super Bowl. To put the Brady hate in perspective, think if the roles were reversed last year. Can you imagine the comments if Bill Belichick won a Super Bowl in his first season without Brady, while Brady went 7-9 in his first season with the Bucs? Oh. My. Lord.
By the way, it is utterly insane that Brady — a 7-time Super Bowl champ — has gotten criticized way more unjustly than Tim freaking Tebow.
Another athlete many people are unreasonable about is Russell Westbrook. “Just look at Steven Adams boxing out so Westbrook can get the rebound.” I swear that’s my sports radio version of those old “wanna get away” commercials. Adams isn’t the reason Westbrook has averaged a triple-double in four of the past five seasons. Westbrook has averaged those numbers because he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer and a relentless Energizer Bunny. Adams doesn’t play for the Wizards, yet somehow Russ averaged 11.5 rebounds this season. He’s a 6’3” guard. That’s absurd.
What’s crazy is that Brady and Westbrook have produced massively, while Tebow has had a tiny sliver of professional success. And somehow Brady and Westbrook are nitpicked while many put Tebow on a pedestal. It’s pure poppycock with a side of malarkey and rubbish.
If you’re a Tebow realist (aka non crazy person), you’re thought to be a hater. It’s personal. You must have something against him. There’s no way you can legitimately think this guy isn’t destined for greatness. Look, hating Tebow is like hating hugs and happiness. What’s to dislike? He’s a great dude who’s disciplined, committed, and respectful among 73 other admirable qualities. Is it possible that it isn’t personal at all? That in spite of respecting the guy, some people simply think he can’t play?
Yes, it’s possible. It’s also true.
It boils down to this; we know the minute Tebow’s name is mentioned, a tidal wave of stupidity is soon to follow. Is it a good or bad idea to invite that type of nonsense on a sports radio show? Not only is it a good idea, it’s tremendous. People are invested. They care about this subject. We’ve been taught since day one to play the hits. Tebow is a smash hit. The topic might be as annoying as Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe, but it’s popular. You’d be crazy not to ever play it.
Never forget that we are captivated by stupidity. When a contestant on Jeopardy! gives a wildly inaccurate response, we can’t wait to share that video on social media. When Pat Sajak says there are only vowels left in the puzzle, and the Wheel of Fortune contestant guesses W, we belly laugh like Santa Claus. Sometimes stupidity is angering, other times it’s amusing, but stupidity is always an attention getter. It’s the crash on the highway that we can’t help but look at.
It’s smart for hosts to use emotion to their advantage. Sure, emotion is the enemy of logic, but it’s also the engine that drives the sports radio audience machine. You’ll have to put up with a crazy listener or two (or 60) when Tebow is mentioned. Big deal. It’s the cost of doing ratings business. Don’t avoid stupidity. Invite it. It’s the autobahn to success.
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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