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News Talk Should Open the Door to Some Sports Content

However, there are ratings and revenue reasons to open the door to some sports content in our format and it should not be overlooked or underappreciated.

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Have you listened to sports radio lately? Does it sound to you like every other commercial is somehow tied to the booming industry of sports betting and daily fantasy? Well, it’s not quite that often, but it sure is a huge part of sports radio sales, and as state legislatures continue to legalize it around the country, there is a lot of revenue for stations and their sales team to go after.

For news talk, I understand that we often get caught up in making sure we aren’t “doing sports”, as that isn’t why most of our audience is there. They usually have two or three other places to find that content on the dial, and thousands of other options on podcasts. 

However, there are ratings and revenue reasons to open the door to some sports content in our format and it should not be overlooked or underappreciated. 

First, the content side: While not every town is a “sports town”, many are. And if you’re a news talk station, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with talking about the Chiefs game in Kansas City, the Cowboys game in Dallas or the Steelers game in Pittsburgh, the Friday leading up to the game or the Monday after a big win or big loss. 

No, the audience doesn’t need our X’s and O’s breakdowns, as we likely aren’t going to do a better job than the sports talk hosts, but talking about the game, your experience, are relevant to your audience. Maybe you went to the game, or took it in at a special location in your community, those are stories to tell that relate to your audience.

Coming in on a Monday morning after a huge win for your local NFL team in a sports town and just going into the latest rant about Joe Biden isn’t what your audience was doing over the weekend, at least not the majority. They were watching the game. They were cheering and booing with the big plays and big mistakes. They were around friends and family enjoying food and drinks as well. It’s relatable and it’s talking about what was going on around town and directly discussing what your audience was doing as well. 

This doesn’t require three or four hours of your show on your team, but picking a dedicated segment or two, weaving it into your discussion or making analogies relevant to the game (“Joe Biden looks as confused as Derek Carr did yesterday against the Chiefs defense!”), is fun and engaging.

Then, there’s the revenue side. If you are able to tap into your local sports teams from a content side, whether it’s a game preview segment on Fridays and recap on Mondays with a guest who knows the team inside and out, a picks segment, or whatever it might be that fits your market, there is easy money to be made. This allows news talk stations to tap into the huge revenues that are coming to stations from sports betting outlets and daily fantasy companies. It won’t be the same as the sports talk money, but a small piece of the pie is better than no piece of the pie. 

So at a time when programmers and hosts can be at odds with sales (although this has been going on forever), this is a no-brainer for all involved. If there’s a chance to provide great, local, relatable content for your audience, and tap into a revenue stream that is getting gobbled up by the sports stations, go for it.

Your audience will thank you and so will your sales manager. Is there anything better than that? 

BNM Writers

A Great Broadcaster Isn’t One You Grew up Listening To

When it comes to broadcasting, the voices of your youth remain the best, the purest.

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When it comes to broadcasting, the voices of your youth remain the best, the purest. Anytime I hear a clip of Lindsey Nelson or Curt Gowdy, I am transported back to 1973 and a big glass of Ovaltine. Bob Murphy, Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, even Howard Cosell. Regardless of what they said or how they said it, those voices are burned into my memory.

Now that I’m in the broadcasting world, I’ve learned the mark of a great broadcaster isn’t someone you grew up listening to; it’s how easy they make it all seem. For those that know, most criticism of broadcasters is either based on jealousy or ignorance.

For every play, there are basically two reactions by the audience. 1. S*%&, my team just gave up the game-winning home run. Or 2. Sweet, my team just hit the game-winning home run. For every call, half the audience is mad. A national broadcaster can never win. That’s how they are judged by a biased, one-sided fan and a Twitter handle. But we know that is the wrong standard to use when comparing the voices of today.

The national greats, Jim Nance, Al Michaels, Joe Buck, or the local greats, Charly Steiner of the Dodgers, Gary Cohen of the Mets, Dan McLaughlin of the Cards, to name just a few, all different, all so good. Their true talent? They make it look and sound so easy.

We know it’s hard, really hard, the names, pronunciations, stats, camera shots, commercials, talk, don’t talk, six voices in their heads, replay, slow motion, obscure rules, fourth-string defensive backs, recently called up relievers, sit in St Louis and call a game in Arizona, and yet these broadcasters, night after night, deliver a flawless performance of the games they work.

One quick story, and yes, I’m guilty of being a bit of a super fan. When a younger Joe Buck called Mark McGwire’s famous 62 home run in 1998 for Fox, he knew the guy who caught the ball. Fifty thousand fans, and he knew the guy’s name? Yes… Who caught the ball in a sea of Cardinal fans? Yes. (Tim Forneris, grounds crew member). Somewhat lucky? Sure, but to be able to pull that off takes a little luck and a whole lot of hard work. That’s the mark of a great broadcaster. “Just Lucky,” some would say, and they would be wrong. The work put in for that level of detail deserves credit. To know the name of a grounds crew member? Be able to recall it when it was needed? It’s not easy, it’s not luck, it’s just great to work, and it just happened to pay off that day.

With all that said, there is a broadcaster today who’s so far ahead of everyone else; he has lapped the field. He’s so good that he goes virtually unnoticed. Nobody outside of the broadcasting world knows his name. He proves, every four years, how simple it looks but how hard it must be. He makes the impossible sound so second nature; any one of us could do it.

He’s great for NBC golf, very good when he was broadcasting Notre Dame football, but when Dan Hicks calls Olympic swimming, he is off the charts. Granted, when a swimmer from Romania wins a gold medal, Australian fans don’t throw things at the television, claiming he is biased. But there is no one better to bring you the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Imagine having these names, Rylov, Kolesnikov, Ceccon, Xu, Glinda, roll off your tongue like Murphy, Larkin, and Gonzalez of Spain in one Men’s 100 backstrokes. They all finished within fractions of seconds of each other. He calls the race, gets the names right, watches the splits, keeps the right swimmer in the right lane, and makes it sound exciting in an empty arena. I’m at home and need someone to use the teleprompter to point out which swimmer is the American.

Not counting all the preliminary heats he calls before the finals, there are 37 men’s and woman’s swimming events. He never gets a name wrong, never flubs a pronunciation, knows all the coaches, parents, friends, and backstories.

Other Broadcasters keep some sort of order knowing the same players year after year. Hicks learns names and stories for one race and might never use that information about that Lithuania swimmer, Rapsys, ever again. It’s a whole new crop every four years. I’m more in awe of his work than some of the swimmers and their performances.

I don’t know if you agree or even give the broadcaster of Olympic swimming events a second thought, but the next time a sports fan in your world is quick to criticize a broadcaster, ask them, “Who calls the Olympic swimming events for NBC?”. I suspect they will have no idea, and that in and of itself proves my point. He’s the best nobody knows because it’s so easy, anyone can do it.

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BNM Writers

End The Shtick: Mispronouncing Last Names Isn’t Funny

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Ah-det-oh-KOON-boh if you’re using the Yoruba pronunciation. Or, you say An-tet-oh-KOON-poh in Greek.

That’s how you properly pronounce the last name of Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s only one of the most popular players in the NBA, a two-time MVP and recently crowned champion.

When you’re preparing for a broadcast, taking the time to learn how to accurately say the name of one of the subjects should be the norm. It’s disrespectful not to. Google and YouTube can be your best friends for phonetic breakdowns.

End the shtick. Be better at your job.

Can you imagine if Mike Tirico and the dozens of other broadcasters working the Olympics for NBC just decided not to learn how to properly pronounce the last names of competing athletes? It would sound foolish.

This is where news anchors, in all size markets, deserve more recognition for properly doing their jobs. Do you know how quickly all credibility of a broadcast would disappear if the anchor refused to learn how to pronounce the names of foreign diplomats?

We need to stop giving sports broadcasters a free pass to sound uneducated.

Early in a broadcast career you’re basically a sponge. Personally, I liked to sit back, take notes, and really learn from those who have done it much longer than I could dream of.

Vividly I recall sitting in a very small, and hot, press box, shadowing a play-by-play broadcast for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League. I doubt I was even cleared to talk on the radio yet, so it really was just a learning experience.

The Northwoods League is a summer baseball league for current college athletes.

Gabe Neitzel was calling the game for ESPN Madison, where I interned during school. Late in the broadcast I remember a representative from the opposing team approaching him and letting him know that he had been saying the last name of one of their players wrong.

He was pissed.

Not because someone had corrected him but because someone hadn’t corrected him sooner. There was a misprint in the pronunciation guide. Neitzel quickly fixed his error and continued calling the game.

Afterwards he said that he was a “broadcast diva” and liked to make sure he was saying everything correctly. I thought to myself, that’s not diva-ish at all, you just like to say names the right way. As the athlete probably very much appreciated. I know I did.

Listening to Tirico during the opening ceremonies, I enjoyed the effort he and his team put in to learning how to flawlessly say every single flag bearers name. That’s also why I get so frustrated when I hear Major League Baseball announcers refuse to acknowledge that some letters in Spanish are pronounced much differently than in English. Take a class. Rosetta Stone. Learn the basics.

Once again, Google is a great resource.

During the 2021 NFL Draft the Baltimore Ravens selected Odafe Oweh. Except until draft night he had gone by his middle name “Jayson” because he felt Odafe was too hard for others to pronounce. When he switched back to his real name he said people were just going to have to get used to it.

As they should. Good for you, Odafe. Sorry you felt you had to go by a different name for so long because others refused to adapt.

I don’t want to sound as if I am the most refined broadcaster in the world. Far far far from it. However, there is a certain level of respect, in my opinion, that comes with accurately saying someone’s name. Making up a nickname because you’re uncomfortable with the pronunciation isn’t the move. Purposely sounding ignorant isn’t either.

Side note: Giannis isn’t said with a ‘gee’ to start, it’s ‘yaa.’

Be professional.

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BNM Writers

Media Forced to Cover the News

In the piece, the Fox News talk host opined that Big Media was forced to cover the scourge of the inner-city violence epidemic after a recent shooting outside a baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

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CBS News

They say the key to effective humor is making sure the joke contains at least a little bit of truth. You get right up to the line and then hit the punch line, leaving your audience wondering exactly where the truth ended and the ridicule began.

Of this, Fox’s Greg Gutfeld is a master.

The comedian/television talk show host has a knack for hitting home with real people, by feeling what they feel and expressing those thoughts in a cogent, funny, and often irreverent manner. 

Last week, Gutfeld penned an opinion piece on FoxNews.com, in which he took aim at the mainstream liberal media, specifically CNN. The title of his piece was Greg Gutfeld: The crime problem the media pretends doesn’t exist actually found them at a baseball game.

In the piece, the Fox News talk host opined that Big Media was forced to cover the scourge of the inner-city violence epidemic after a recent shooting outside a baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Many fault the corporate media for downplaying the escalating violence and rioting in Democrat-controlled inner cities in recent years.

Gutfeld, co-host of the networks The Five, and host of Gutfeld!, says the recent incident forced their hand and made them discuss the issue.

“Now obviously CNN covered the shooting, doing live shots outside the center field gate,” Gutfeld wrote on FoxNews.com. “Why is that important? Because it was refreshing to finally see CNN cover a crime story. For once. If you watched their network you were told crime was largely made up of hysteria. Just an idea, but nothing real.”

In reading Gutfield’s comments, one can recall the infamous clip of the reporter standing in front of fire-filled riots last year, telling viewers it was a “largely peaceful protest.” 

Gutfeld had previously commented that the only way big, corporate media would cover crime is if they were impacted. This game, he said, forced them to face the issue and report the facts that have been affecting much of America, outside the media bubble.

“For a brief moment that bubble popped Saturday night at a baseball game – where the true reality of our crime epidemic hit home, or rather home plate,” Gutfeld wrote. “They got a taste of how the rest of DC lives. Where policies the media supports have turned their neighborhoods into a John Wick movie.”

Gutfeld will continue to be irreverent, as he has been since he joined the network in 2007. He’ll surely continue to deride and mock the Left and their establishment media elite, right up to the line.

He summed up his piece, writing, “So will they learn any lessons from this? Will they reexamine their news coverage, especially regarding crime, and how they dropped that ball when it should have been a routine catch? Of course not. They’ll forget about it by tonight. And say the game was postponed due to climate change.”

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