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Let’s Go To Sports Radio Minicamp

“Programmers from around the country weighed in with their ideas on what may make up a sports radio minicamp.”



Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Teams across the NFL have broken from OTAs and are now either in or about to be in minicamp. This is the time to reinforce the basic good habits anyone in the business needs to master in order to thrive. It is the time to observe your talent and think about what new things you can do with them.

Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 rookie minicamp: So far so good
Courtesy: Photo Pool

We are hearing a lot about young quarterbacks across the league. Some look great. Some…well, don’t. There are plenty of reports about highly drafted rookies at other positions and how they are fitting into teams’ defensive schemes. Then of course, there’s Aaron Rodgers, the story that isn’t going to die until it does.

Minicamp is never short on storylines and objects of intrigue. Very rarely do you see reports about the nitty-gritty. There aren’t a lot of SportsCenter segments about exactly what Bruce Arians is doing in his golf cart or what Arthur Smith’s daily schedule is like for Kyle Pitts.

That is what I want to talk about today…kinda. I want to talk about how we would design a minicamp if we had them in the sports radio business.

What would be the best way to use the time? Do you focus on the basics and improve everyone from the ground up? Do you put the onus squarely on your stars and challenge them to get better? Are you looking at the “bottom of your roster” with a keen eye on who actually makes you better and how you can best use them?

This is all an exercise in imagination, so I asked the industry how they would do it. Programmers from around the country weighed in with their ideas on what may make up a sports radio minicamp. Enjoy.


It’s minicamp so we’re sticking to the fundamentals, blocking and tackling type stuff. We’ll get deep into install when Training Camp rolls around.

For now, we’re focusing on our foundation: show prep, sticking to the clock, and executing teases. I’m expecting full participation with no veteran holdouts. We can’t have that on this team, too destructive to our culture. 


NFL teams use minicamp to re-instill the basics and fundamentals of football into their players: blocking, tackling, etc. If a sports radio PD ran a minicamp for talk show hosts, it should be used in the same way. Two of the biggest fundamentals that a radio host should have top of mind at all times, but are often taken for granted, are: knowing your audience and effective teasing.

A host should always know who they are broadcasting to, and actually broadcast to that audience. Too often a local host, or even a network host, is interested in a topic or a team or a sports league that their audience has no interest in, or for a network host, for a market their show is not cleared in. Your first job is to entertain your audience, so discuss topics they are interested in.

What Tennessee Titans coaches are saying on eve of mandatory minicamp
Courtesy: George Walker IV /

Teasing is also extremely important, and can be done in various ways, yet is often taken for granted.  A tease at the end of a segment should not be telling the listener what is coming up after the break; it should be giving a reason why the listener should stick through the break! Teasing within a segment can also be effective, by giving the listener a reason to listen to the entire segment. Not broadcasting to your audience’s interests and lazy teases are issues many hosts have, because they believe their audience will listen no matter what, but in today’s world that offers so many choices, that just isn’t the case. 


The point of any football mini camp is to look at your roster, and see what traits or skills each player has and where they fit on your roster moving into the season.  Most radio stations know their starting lineup or have had it for a number of years, but refining or building up some skill sets of the younger and up and coming athletes/talent already have that your current roster can shape into their own is vital to the success and staying power of your roster and brand. 

So how well does each talent know how to reach a digital audience, and when’s the last time they tried anything specifically digital?  Does your talent have a grasp that their audience may be tuning in the same, more, less outside their daypart than when they’re actually live?  Are they using social media to enhance their on air and on demand content?  Are they thinking outside the box with content and interviews?   And more importantly than ever, how well do they network with your sales department on driving revenue utilizing the entire on air and digital picture? 

There’s no real playbook at this mini camp, but a ton of drills (questions) to work towards finding those answers moving into finding ways to be better each and every day.


I would focus on the “Blocking and Tackling” of Spoken Word Radio.  Always good to have a refresh on the fundamentals that help drive quarter-hours.

May 10: Texans rookie minicamp
Courtesy: Brett Coomer
  • Topic selection is everything. Much like the plays a football teams has in their playbook. It all comes down to execution. 
  • Do not waste time; get right to the core of the topic you are talking about. 
  • Never Assume the audience knows what you know.
  • Make sure you take care of the basics.
  • Tease-tease-tease. Tell the story to the consumer and make sure every segment delivers a payoff. 
  • Be specific and give the listener a reason to hang around for the next segment. 
  • Make sure you re-set the guest and/or conversation as the audience is constantly changing. 
  • Keep interviews interesting with short open-ended questions. 
  • Know how long to go with a caller and also know when to not take a call. 

Always ask yourself if the content you are presenting plays to the broadest set of the audience that is consuming your content!


Our first day of training camp starts with the word passion.  If you don’t have a passion for what you do the blocking, tackling and fundamentals don’t matter.  Every day you crack that microphone, the listener should know right away what topic is touching you and means something to you.  It could be something local, but it might not be.  If it isn’t, it’s important to find a way to bring it back or tie it in to your local audience.  

After we establish how important the passion part is, we move on to the blocking and tackling.  It sounds cliche, but under the current system we are in, playing the hits and hitting the breaks are fundamentals that have to perfect each and every day if you want to win.  Passion first, fundamentals a close second.  We are ready for the Week 1!


In a short amount of time, I’d want to focus on just a few things with hosts: quality over quantity, if you will.

One of the most important things in sports radio is topic development; a crash-course on improving topic development, what works and what doesn’t, would be at the top of the list for mini-camp. You can win or lose quarter hours based on topic selection, but proper development of those topics is a winning recipe.

Another item to discuss in mini-camp would be teasing; there’s value in a good tease to keep your audience hooked to the other side of a break. In today’s world where stations could still be playing catch up from financial losses due to the pandemic, it’d also be important to spend time on how hosts can interact with the sales team to benefit both the individual and the station.


I would drill staying on the clock, working on great teases and having a plan. 

Giants Minicamp: Barkley continues knee out of sight. |
Courtesy: Adam Hunger | Credit: AP

At the beginning of the day I would have everyone write down the three biggest, most interesting topics of the day; they should focus on those to the exclusion of almost anything else. Later in camp, we’ll introduce how to constantly spin those topics and keep them entertaining.  I already know they have great talent, now I want to show them how to get the most out of what they do best.

BSM Writers

The Best Defense Against An Ornery Subject Is A Good Question

With the right question, a reporter never has to assume an antagonistic stance or role.



Screen cap from @timandfriends on Twitter

A question should be constructed to get the best answer possible.

This was the guideline I learned as a newspaper reporter, which makes sense. You don’t hear the questions in a story. You don’t usually read them. The questions operate off-stage, the unseen lever that pries out the good stuff from the subject.

The dynamic changes when the interview is conducted in public, though. I learned this first-hand when I transitioned from reporter to radio host in 2013. Suddenly, my questions were part of the content being consumed. This is increasingly becoming the reality for anyone covering pro sports now. Not only have the press conferences themselves become a part of actual sports programming, but those press conferences are increasingly the only access to professional athletes, given post-pandemic locker-room restrictions.

But any time I start to think that it’s important to consider how a question sounds to the audience, instead of focusing on the answer it gets from the subject, I will inevitably be reminded of where that thinking leads. This week, it was Jim Matheson, a veteran Canadian hockey reporter in Canada, confronting the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl over being non-cooperative. 

On the one hand, this kind of tension has existed for decades in pro sports. It’s inevitable, really, that the people paid to play the games will at times be at odds with the people paid to critique their performance. The difference now, as Ian Casselberry pointed out here at BSM yesterday, is that the tension is increasingly visible. 

Personally, I love these moments. Seeing someone get sensitive in public is catnip to my shallow sensibilities. But professionally, there is something to be learned here by going back to the question that started each impasse. Let’s start with Matheson.

“Lots of reasons for why the Oilers are playing the way they are, in terms of winning and losing,” Matheson said. “What do you think is the number one reason for the losses now? Is there one thing, in your own mind, that you’re saying, ‘We’ve got to get better at that’?”

It’s a bad question for two reasons, the first being that it is actually two questions. “Double-barreled” is the term used by John Sawatsky, a Canadian journalist, an absolute prince of a man, and an unrivaled expert in improving interview skills. In two days, John taught me more about good interview tactics than I’ve learned in 20 years of weekend workshops and workday brownbags. This won’t be the last time I mention him in my posts here at BSM.

The best piece of advice John offers is also the easiest to institute and provides the most immediate results: Ask one question. Just one. If you add a second question — either out of nervousness or because you try to phrase it better — it will confuse even a cooperative subject. If you have an uncooperative subject, it provides an out. An opportunity to answer the less difficult question and then stare right back at you to indicate it’s your turn.

That is exactly what happened to Matheson. Here was Draisaitl’s response: “Yeah, we have to get better at everything.”

Matheson asked if Draisaitl was willing to expand; Draisaitl was not, adding a sarcastic aside that Matheson could add to it because he knew everything. Jameson then asked Draisaitl why he was so “pissy.”

“Hmmmm,” Draisaitl said, raising his eyebrows as if he hadn’t heard.

“Why are you so pissy?”

“I’m not,” Draisaitl said. “I’m just answering your–” at which point he was cut off by Matheson.

“Yeah, you are,” Matheson said. “Every time I ask a question.”

Now, it’s likely that Draisaitl’s issue has nothing to do with the question Matheson asked. It’s possible that no question Matheson asked was going to get a good answer. But because that question was poorly constructed, it left Matheson cornered into the choice of accepting Draisaitl’s terrible answer to his poor question or creating a confrontation. He chose the latter, and while I don’t think it was wrong, per se, or crossed any lines, Matheson looked like the aggressor. And I suspect that will be the last piece of useful content he ever receives from Draisaitl.

This is the point where my column was initially going to end. Then I saw Ian’s post, which included an exchange between Gary Washburn, a reporter at the Boston Globe, and Celtics guard Dennis Schroder, who was every bit as uncooperative as Draisaitl. It provides the perfect example to see how a better question changed the nature of the impasse.

Let’s go to Washburn’s first question: “Dennis, in Philly, you had one point, but the game before in Indiana, you had 23. It seems like you’ve been up-and-down a little bit. Are you starting to feel comfortable? You had the COVID protocol, you had a lot of things happen this week, are you starting to feel a little bit of comfort in the offense?”

Washburn’s question wasn’t perfect. There are technically two queries, though I’d argue he really just restated his question about being comfortable. It was also a yes-no question, which doesn’t tend to be as powerful as a question that seeks an answer about how or why something has occurred. I’m nitpicking, though. The strength of this question was revealed when Schroeder bristled.

Schroeder: You with us or you with Philly?

Washburn: No, I’m just asking.

Schroeder: You with Boston? You work for us?

Washburn: I cover the Celtics. I’m just asking if you’re feeling any more comfortable over the last couple games.

Schroeder: It’s just a stupid question.

Washburn: My fault. Are you feeling any more comfortable? How did you feel like you played today?

Schroeder: Not good enough for you, huh?

Washburn: No. I’m asking about the bounce back.

Schroeder: We won, so that’s all that matters. I’m a team player, so end of the day if I’ve got 40 points or one point and win the game, I’m going to be happy with it. So end of the day, I’m a team player, trying to win some games. And in Philly, we didn’t come out right, we played right, and that’s it.

Washburn: Thank you.

At no point in that back-and-forth does Washburn have to do anything other than restate his question: Are you feeling more comfortable? Schroeder has the choice whether to answer it, and ultimately talks around the quesrion without addressing it.

Washburn never has to say he was dissatisfied with the answer or call out Schroeder for being uncooperative. He never has to assume an antagonistic stance or role. He’s courteous and even accepts responsibility for a question Schroeder doesn’t like. In the end, Schroeder’s defensiveness speaks for itself. And that is important given how many people are now watching not just the answers that athletes provide, but the hearing and in some cases seeing the questions that provoke them

When Ian wrote about these situations on Thursday, he concluded with a very poignant observation: “Tensions are now out in the open, when they might have previously happened in a corner, away from everyone’s attention. And when these dialogues become public, people feel the need to take sides with the reporter or the athlete. Which side you’re on as a fan likely depends on your perception of the media.”

He’s absolutely right, but I would provide one addition to that. A well-constructed question is your best defense against not only an ornery subject, but also those audience members predisposed to blaming you for antagonizing the athlete. 

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BSM Writers

What is The Next Evolution For Nickelodeon And The NFL?

“The NFL and Nickelodeon are a perfect marriage. An expanded package of games is the ideal next step.”



No matter how you look at the results, the NFL has hit a home run with a playoff game getting kid friendly packaging on Nickelodeon each of the last two seasons. Parents are watching with their kids, it’s driving an online conversation, and the league is letting a creative group of people have fun.

The NFL Playoffs on Nickelodeon work! So what do you do when something works?

You start to think about what the next step is. Those are conversations both the NFL and CBS/Viacom, Nickelodeon’s parent company, should be having.

To me, the next step for the NFL is pretty obvious. Give us a package of kid-friendly games during the season.

It doesn’t have to be a full 18-weeks, but think of it like ET with Reese’s Pieces. If the idea is that you are using the caché of Nickelodeon characters and graphics to get kids to watch football, doesn’t it benefit you to do that, or something like it, five or six more times during the season? Isn’t that the trail of Reese’s Pieces that could get the little ETs watching football more regularly?

It could be a revenue generator too. Something like the kid-friendly NFL package really does seem tailor-made for a bidding war. After all, every streaming service needs content. You could absolutely see the NFL going to Disney to see if they wanted to counter with something Marvel or Star Wars themed, right?

I think it would be a mistake to put this package of games on the open market. CBS has assembled the right duo in Noah Eagle and Nate Burleson and Nickelodeon has created the right aesthetic for the game. It is goofy. I enjoy watching Patrick Star’s face go from concerned to elated when a kick goes through the uprights just as much as my kids do. I don’t know that I would be as invested in trying to defeat Thanos with football or whatever the counter would be.

Photos & Memes: Nickelodeon's NFL Broadcast Returns, Hilarity Ensues

Make it worth CBS/Viacom’s to up their spend. Take care of the company’s other TV properties somehow. Give them priority for the next Super Bowl bidding.

I don’t know the exact right answer. What I know is the NFL has a GREAT thing here and it should be focused on cultivating it.

So that brings us to the next obvious question: what is the next evolution of this model for CBS and Nickelodeon?

Oh man, some of y’all are gonna hate this shit!


I am serious! Give me a kid-friendly version of The Final Four. Dump slime on the winner of The Masters. Every week the SEC is on CBS, have Young Sheldon pop up to explain to the audience what a bag man is.

Obviously, I am giving you the extreme version of the plan, but you get the gist, right? We just ran a guest piece from Joe Ovies that discussed how leagues are learning to meet the needs of younger fans. Well, here is a chance to do that with the help of a network partner.

Golf is looking for a way to bring back the fans that used to tune in on Sundays to see Tiger Woods close out a big win. It is a shame The Masters is the least likely to let CBS and Nickelodeon help, because it is the event that could use it the most.

CBS is way more likely to get the cooperation of the NCAA Tournament. You would probably have to limit Nick’s involvement to the Final Four, or even just the Championship game, but it would be worth it. Basketball is popular with kids. Those games are played in cavernous domes with plenty of space for an extra broadcast crew. Plus, the players are young enough to be excited about a project like that.

Broadcasting and sports are both built on innovation. When an idea comes along that can truly change the trajectory of how business is done, you have to embrace it. That is what we are looking at here.

The NFL and Nickelodeon are a perfect marriage. An expanded package of games is the ideal next step. If the NFL isn’t interested though, CBS/Viacom cannot let this thing go to waste. It has created something sports-loving parents can do and watch with their kids that aren’t entertained by competition alone. That describes most kids now.

One side, hopefully both, recognize that this is a chance to invest in their respective futures. Not every kid-targeted game or broadcast can look the same, but you have a proof of concept. You know your formula works.

Now get out there and do more of it!

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BSM Writers

Five Down and Dirty Ideas For Gaining Radio Sales Advantage

Tie into the local team and have two ads ready to go. One if they lose and one if they win.




Sometimes, salespeople need a new twist on an old idea to close the deal with a client. Here are five bold, down and dirty, ideas to beat out the competition and stand out in your market:

1. Sell an endorsement

Make sure you sell the sponsorship in 13, 26, or 52-week increments. There is no way you want to burn your talent on a category because the client didn’t run long enough.

Start selling spring advertisers right now. Patios, pools, and landscaping makeovers. Maybe sell an advertiser on a community makeover for a prominent retired community person and have the on-air person lead the effort. Sell a crypto or NFT sponsorship to a host and let them learn all about it on the air.

Make sure the talent also posts on social for the client.

2. Update your copy!

Sell copy changes as a benefit to the client. Tie into the local team and have two ads ready to go. One if they lose and one if they win. Your traffic person will hate you, but it can happen!

Produce bad weather spots now. Insert them at a moment’s notice. Buy your traffic person dinner because they will have to re-con the logs. So what. Think “in the moment.” Your listeners do that and it’s the best way to relate to them.

3. Do you have several car dealers, heating and cooling, roofing, or restaurants on the air?

Help them stand out on the station by branding them on weather, traffic, or top-of-hour IDs. This is a great way to pound the advertiser into the listener’s consciousness and separate them for the pack. Consider bonusing them the IDs if they committed to an annual.

4. Sell some NIL

If you have a famous college athlete in your market and a local NIL deal, suggest adding a radio campaign. Dr. Pepper did it. Or sell one to a local sports bar and have the player go there after the game and do an appearance on your post-game show on site.

This concept works well when sold with your CHR or New Rock stations. The rules have changed and you can do a lot more now. Schools, in some cities, are even more than willing to help you! They are doing anything to show other recruits how much love they will get in their town.

5. Super Bowl bet

Get two non-competing advertisers to take sides for the big game coming up. Set it up so if one team wins, listeners get a discount and vice versa. A Heating and cooling guy vs. a plumber could work well. You know how to say “Big Game,” “green and gold” for Green Bay, and the “red team” for Kansas City.

Just find the clients who care about the game. See if your shows would let them do a call-in. Let them cut up a bit and give them some promos, make them part of the Super Bowl hype.

If one of these doesn’t work, sell like Tom Brady.

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