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TexAgs Lives In A Different World Than Traditional Media

“What better way to show fellow Texas A&M fans that this site aligns with their values than by putting a little cash in the pockets of two of the team’s best players?”

Demetri Ravanos

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TexAgs

Admittedly, my initial reaction to the news that TexAgs.com was going to pay two Aggie football players $10,000 each for interviews was purely emotional. “This is beyond the pale! How can they ever be taken seriously as a media outlet? This is boosterism disguised as journalism and it is gross!” These are all things I shouted to no one/my computer screen over the weekend when I first read the news.

Courtesy: TexAgs

Now, with some time between the news breaking and me writing this, my view hasn’t changed at all, but I have calmed down a bit.

Is paying college athletes for interviews a great precedent to set for the media? No, not really. Can TexAgs.com ever be taken seriously as a media outlet again? Maybe not, but it was always kinda the Jimbo Fisher Propaganda Network anyway, so does this really change anything?

Look, I am a big advocate for college athletes taking every penny that is offered to them whether through marketing deals or anything else really. These kids got cut out of the billions that they generated for their universities for so long that it seems unfair to tell them how they should and shouldn’t go about playing catch up now that the NCAA is allowing players to benefit from their name, image, and likeness.

The thing we are going to have to be conscious of moving forward is how this is all going to work. This isn’t 1993. Companies have very tangible ways to determine an athlete’s reach and influence now. You’ve got to think about these kids less in the mold of the “I wanna be like Mike” campaign we grew up with and more in line with Kylie Jenner charging $1.2 million to promote a product in a single Instagram post. That’s why the college athlete that stands to make the most money in NIL deals is a gymnast from LSU named Olivia Dunne. Her social media following is huge. She knows how to play the game and work an audience.

So what does this have to do with TexAgs and their payments to Isiah Spiller and Demari Richardson? It is largely a reminder for everyone to calm down and take a breath.

Undeniably, this is a major change from what we are used to. ESPN pays billions to be in business with all of the Power 5 conferences. That means they get to do the interviews with players and coaches after the game. There is no opening the checkbook over and over again. If they want to do a feature on a player for College GameDay, that is worked out with the school’s sports information director. No money is supposed to change hands.

Name, image, and likeness legislation has opened up a world where these kids are going to make money based less on what they do on the field or court. Instead, it will be driven by how attractive they are to an audience. For TexAgs’s audience of dedicated Aggies, Spiller and Richardson talking about the football season and giving their coach-approved platitudes is attractive content.

It’s not The Athletic telling someone’s story. It’s People magazine paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for exclusive photos of a celebrity couple’s baby.

Look at Barstool. It started out as a fan blog and is now a multi-million dollar business. Dave Portnoy is offering sponsorship deals to any college athlete that reaches out to Barstool and expresses interest.

Those deals are about one thing: paying college athletes fits Barstool’s brand of giving the middle finger to the people that want to dictate the rules. It’s marketing! That was the whole point of passing NIL legislation in the first place: let these kids participate in marketing and be compensated for it.

I don’t know that I necessarily believe that TexAgs or any other fan blog paying for a player interview will change the way FOX, ESPN, CBS and other networks approach college sports rights deals. Those networks are within their rights to be miffed by the practice, but networks and fan blogs aren’t even playing the same game.

Billy Liucci and his staff at TexAgs have built a tremendously successful business. It is what so many fan blogs start out believing they can be but rarely actually become. Liucci should be commended for that, but in reality boosterism disguised as journalism is nothing new for TexAgs and sites like it. They have always been set up to use NIL rules to further their business in ways traditional media outlets have not. Just like Barstool, they are using players in a way that best fits their brand and creates buzz amongst potential customers. These interviews with Spiller and Richardson were more of a marketing exercise than actual journalism. What better way to show fellow Texas A&M fans that this site aligns with their values than by putting a little cash in the pockets of two of the team’s best players?

Texas A&M RB Isaiah Spiller and DB Demani Richardson Each Receive $10k via  sponsored TexAgs Interview: CFB
Courtesy: reddit

Should traditional outlets and journalists be annoyed by this? They have a right to be. Should they be threatened by it? If they are, someone needs to make it clear that fan blogs and the traditional media have two very different roles and operate in two very different ways. There are things TexAgs and other fan blogs can get away with that traditional media just never could and that is okay.

BSM Writers

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.

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WRONG BAD

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.

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BSM Writers

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.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

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.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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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.

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