Two solid sources had confirmed the story. But that wasn’t enough for news of this magnitude. Jeff Goodman needed at least one more solid source before he broke the biggest story college basketball had ever seen.
He received the first tip on the same day Brad Stevens announced he was moving from the bench to the GM box with the Celtics. Living in Boston, Goodman was getting all kinds of requests for his analysis on the news that had just rocked the NBA. Just when the news was starting to hit its peak, that’s when it happened. Jeff Goodman was told Mike Mike Krzyzewski was going to announce his retirement from Duke in the very near future.
Around 30 minutes later, he got another tip from a source that confirmed Coach K’s impending retirement announcement. He had two strong sources. Most times, that would be good enough to run a story, but not in this situation.
“I was 99.9 percent sure,” said Goodman. “But even 99.9 percent is hard to go with on a story like this. If you’re wrong on that story, you’re forever known, everything you’ve done up to that point is irrelevant.”
So he waited for another source to confirm, knowing too much was on the line to be wrong. After calling a third source, the person gave him the time and the date. That’s when he finally felt confident to run with it.
“I typed up the tweet and my finger was literally shaking,” Jeff Goodman said.
He hit send. The biggest story in college hoops had been broken.
“It’s crazy when you say it like that, because you don’t think about it that way. There’s so many other stories that I’ve spent so much more time on than that one.”
Goodman covers basketball at every level, but he’s easily one of the best in the business when it comes to college hoops. If that’s not proven by his current work at Stadium or his previous stops at ESPN, Fox and CBS, he’s proving it with a new podcast venture that’s quickly taking the college basketball world by storm.
The Field of 68 Media Network was founded almost totally by accident. Goodman’s friend, Rob Dauster, had been a Covid casualty and saw his position cut last year. Goodman didn’t want to just help Dasuter, he wanted to find something new and innovative they could do together.
“At that point it was, ok, what can we do?” Goodman said. “We were in the middle of a pandemic and we thought of this on a whim. We threw out the idea of starting a podcast network and really centering it around former players hosting podcasts of their alum school.”
There were challenges behind this new venture, most notably the task of trying to find the right former players that would be a good fit. Luckily, with Goodman’s background covering recruiting, he had a strong connection with several former high-profile college basketball players. Those players also trusted him.
“We wanted to find the right people that either, one, wanted to do it because they want to do a pod for their school, or, two, and I sold them on this, we’ll help you get a platform and your name out there, so people will see you and it will turn into something,” Goodman said.
The pitch was perfect. Soon after, former players were all over the Field of 68 hosting podcasts for their respective alma maters. Hosts such as Patrick Young with Florida, Dan Dickau of Gonzaga and Eric Devendorf of Syracuse, just to name a few, we’re headline shows across the network.
The idea behind Field of 68 is heavily built on the opinions of former players. Much bigger plans are in the works though for the coming season. It’s those ideas that could vault the network into the go-to hub for college basketball fans in the future.
“I absolutely think it can be the place to go,” Goodman said. “As we’re seeing, people are consuming their information through streaming. Fewer people are watching ESPN on their TV’s. We have a plan in place for this year and we’re going to add something big. Every night. That’s Rob’s brainchild and I think it could change the way people get their college basketball information this year.”
“Frankly, if you’re a big college basketball fan, other than the games, those halftime and postgame segments on ESPN, there’s nothing to them. What do they do? They look at the highlights, talk for 20 seconds but it’s never about the big topics. They don’t have time. We’re going to do something way different.”
Jeff Goodman is involved with podcasting on Field of 68, as he hosts the national show with Robbie Hummel. But he’s the first to admit his role is to come up with content. Everything else centers on the brains of the operation, which always falls to Dauster.
“Rob has been the driver of this thing, not me,” Goodman said. “I’ve helped put it together, but he’s so talented. I know the content, but he knows everything. The fact someone hasn’t hired him and paid him a bunch of money is crazy to me. He’s done all that with two young kids.”
Other hosts under the Field of 68 umbrella include Wayne Turner with Kentucky, Jeff Hawkins with Kansas, Shammond Williams of North Carolina and Christy Winters-Scott who hosts podcasts on women’s hoops. Many more are with the network and others are still to come.
That includes producers the network has incorporated that are either still in college or just freshly out.
“We’re paying them a little bit of money,” Goodman said. “But a lot of it is about giving them experience and the opportunity to be involved. A lot of them are producers, they’re producing the podcast but we allow them to also be on the show. Austin Render is a terrific example. He just graduated from Indiana and he’s terrific. Like, phenomenal. He produces A.J Guyton’s podcast and he also goes on and throws questions at him about Indiana basketball.”
Regardless if Field of 68 works out (my bet is that it does) Goodman is going to be fine. He’s a great basketball mind with an incredible writing talent. But he’s going to do everything in his power to ensure the network becomes a success. Maybe it will never be his main gig, but that won’t stop him from trying to make this the main stop for college hoops fans.
It all started because he wanted to have a friend’s back. That loyalty may get repaid in a big way. But if you ask Jeff Goodman, he’s only doing the things that others did for him when he was making his move in the business.
“I had people like Greg Doyle, who was a big help for me when I broke through. I’ll never forget that. Ever. You just remember the people that helped you and the people that didn’t.”
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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