Remote broadcasting is not ideal. It’s not easy for the broadcasters and it’s not fair to the fans. With the Country coming out of the COVID pandemic, it’s time for the announcing teams to get back on the road where they belong. For a number of reasons, some not based solely on health and safety, many local broadcast teams are stuck at home. Shortchanging their viewers and listeners.
I know why we had to call games from one location last year. There was a virus infecting and killing people all over the world. So, while it wasn’t ideal, it was necessary. I always felt like the listeners weren’t getting the complete feel when the game was in one location and I was in another. We all chalked it up to “Well, at least we’re playing and working.”
Truth. No complaints. Now?
It’s time to get back on the road.
It was reported this week that the national broadcasters, like Joe Buck, will be on site for some games in the weeks to come. Fox, ESPN and Turner are all planning to have their people on-site for at least some broadcasts, per the report. But the same accommodations are not being made for many of the local television broadcasts. The decision on the local TV folks is being made by the individual RSN’s.
What makes no sense, is that only some radio broadcasts are traveling. Why radio and not TV? I’m sure some of it is money. Many of the RSN’s took it on the chin last season with a shortened schedule and uncertainty with advertising money coming in. It’s not a great look for any of these companies, especially since baseball is allowing more and more fans to attend games. Now just some of the broadcast booths will be empty.
How is this logical or allowed? Is there a plan in place? Are the players or teams holding up the process? Dodgers TV broadcaster Joe Davis spoke to the Athletic, saying he’s heard many things about why some broadcast teams aren’t traveling.
“I’ve heard, ‘Well, the players don’t want the rights holders back on the plane,’” he said. “Of course, they don’t, I wouldn’t either. But is that their decision? Or is it team by team? Or is it Major League Baseball? I don’t know the answers to those things. So honestly, it’s been so up and down and all over the place on what has to happen for us to travel, I’ve just kind of stopped thinking about it because it feels like wasted energy at this point.”
There is a lot to digest here. Can teams or radio/tv stations say no? For some the answer is yes. One radio company that has many play-by-play rights across the league has a travel ban in place. Audacy stations are preventing their radio broadcasters from traveling. It’s to the point where the company won’t reimburse announcers if they want to travel on their own. Very interesting. There’s no word on how long this “ban” will be in effect, leaving broadcasters to wonder if they’ll get to a road game this season.
As far as the teams, I wouldn’t think an individual club would say no to their broadcasters traveling if the organization meets the 85 percent vaccination threshold. More and more teams are meeting the criteria, once again eliminating another excuse for not sending the announcers along with the team to road games. Especially if the announcer himself/herself is fully vaccinated.
Now in conjunction with that point, the opposing team, the home team in this case may object to visiting broadcasters being in their park. With social distancing, some organizations reconfigured their broadcast booths to allow for the use of multiple monitors in the space. So actual room could be a problem. I say, if the opposing team fit in your press box before the pandemic, they’ll fit in there now.
Baseball broadcasting is not as easy as the folks doing it right now make it look or sound. Trust me, there is a lot that goes into it. The job done last year by these announcing crews should be commended and lauded. It’s hard enough to do the job when the game is front of you, let alone many miles away.
The RSN’s and radio stations not allowing travel are only doing a disservice to themselves, their own product and their audiences. As much as broadcasters try to call a seamless game from half a country away in some cases, it’s not the same as being there. It is just not and you can’t tell me it is. If it’s safe for ballparks to be opened to full capacity there should be no reason not to travel announcers. With most seats in ballparks being filled, empty seats in the broadcast booth are unacceptable.
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.