Connect with us
Register for the BSM Summit Now

BSM Writers

Wes Blankenship Is Taking Us All To Coffeetown

“I don’t know in the short term what that reality is but I do know I’m trying to bring a community together that rallies around this fictional team, this universe and one day, whatever shape or form that takes, whatever the medium is, I do have a bigger dream and bigger goal for the distribution that it’s not just me putting it on.”

Published

on

Each and every Friday night in the fall, radio magic happens on various AM and FM stations throughout small towns across the country. If you grew up in an area where high school football is king, you know exactly what that crackling magic sounds like. 

Wes Blankenship used to drive around rural Georgia on Friday nights and listen to the various play-by-play broadcasts of high school games in the area. At the time, he was covering high school football for WMAZ, a CBS affiliate in Macon, about 80 miles south of Atlanta. 

Courtesy: WMAZ

Blankenship couldn’t help but to be drawn to the unique characters that were behind the mic’s of each game he listened to. In an odd but humorous way, they all sounded the same with their quirky mannerisms and unique ability to make every three-yard gain sound like the biggest play of the game. Sure, he had grown up and played high school football in Georgia before, but the new exposure to programs such as Warner Robbins and others in the central part of the state was eye-opening and something he couldn’t get enough of.

The play-by-play voice of a high school football team is a central part of the culture that is Friday night football. Most of the time, the guy calling a game just did his normal 9-5 shift at the body shop or even selling cars at the local dealership. They’re almost always working class guys that wait all week for Friday night to have their fun behind the mic. 

While sitting in the parking lot of an LA Fitness, Blankenship had the idea to bring this character to life. Thus, Coffeetown was born. 

“I just worked out one night and I was in a parking lot of an LA fitness and I recorded the first Coffeetown,” Blankenship said, “I don’t know where the name Coffeetown came from, obviously there’s a Coffee County in Georgia, but it has nothing to do with that. I’m really not making fun of Coffee County, it was just a coincidence.”

One of the great things about the idea behind Coffeetown is the fact it came during the most difficult time of Blankenship’s professional life. In November of 2019, his contract with 11Alive News in Atlanta wasn’t renewed. Along with that, he and his wife had a baby on the way and the pandemic, unbeknownst to everyone, was right around the corner. Nobody was hiring a sports anchor in November, since it was so late in the football season, so Blakenship’s options were limited. 

But with that setback, came opportunity. Not many people usually see it that way, but Blankenship did. 

“Now that I was laid off I was like, well, I finally feel like I have some creative freedom to just let it rip,” Blankenship said. “I had nothing to lose at that point. I just worked out one night and I was in a parking lot of an LA fitness and I recorded the first Coffeetown.”

So in the driver’s seat of his car, Blakenship used the microphone on his Apple headset to record the first ever Coffeetown, having no idea what a sensation it would soon become. 

“I actually did it on TikTok and I knew nothing about it,” Blankenship said. “But I did discover I could edit videos on the fly. I could do a little one-liner, make a joke and if I didn’t like the delivery I could delete it and re-record it. I felt like it was a perfect sandbox to play with.”

One of the things that instantly made the video a success, was the tin can sound he was making as the play-by-play announcer. It sounded like he was using broadcasting equipment from the 70’s, which, fit perfectly with the caricature he was trying to create. It was an idea he had for a while and to finally cut, edit and produce it felt extremely rewarding, even if his professional life wasn’t going the way he wanted. 

It was a retweet by ESPN’s Ryan McGee that arguably got the entire thing kick started. Soon after, one of Blankenship’s Coffeetown videos even made it on Marty and McGee, which was met by incredible reviews by both hosts. 

“The next one I made I think it dropped the day before Marty and McGee were on SEC Nation and on campus for Georgia vs. Texas A&M in 2019,” Blankenship said. “Marty re-tweeted and said, man, we gotta get this guy on the show. I didn’t assume he was serious, I’m not saying he was making anything up, but I was like, OK, I’ll believe it when I get a real invite. Then we traded some DM’s and he said, hey, man, if you’re actually here, get your ass up here tomorrow morning.”

So Blankenship did. Even though he hadn’t received a formal invite to be on the show, he headed to the set on a rainy morning in Athens. 

“There was about five minutes left in the show and Johnny Jones of Fox Nation goes on and I think they’re going to wrap up,” Blakenship said. “And then Marty and Ryan, they’re like, here’s a guy that we have to have on too. Mind you, at this point I can do the Coffeytown voice in my sleep, but at that point I was still so surprised that I was actually on their show, I didn’t totally nail the voice. But I didn’t care.”

It was a huge moment. Mostly, because it was the realization that following an idea he had was now appealing to several people across the country. It wasn’t just a regional thing. Blakenship knew this was something people all over the country would enjoy. 

“It still doesn’t feel real to me,” Blakenship said. “The response still feels so big, because I can’t wrap my head around it.”

Coffeetown games are a sensation on Twitter. His latest video has over 700 retweets, over 2,500 likes and 135 thousand views. But how does Blankenship do it? How does he come up with such hilarious names like Reptile Henderson and fine funny fake sponsors to enter into the broadcast? 

“If you stare at high school football rosters for almost 10 years, while writing out highlight sheets, you’re going to be able to come up with some funny names on the spot,” Blankenship said. “People have even made up fake Twitter accounts based on the player’s names. It’s crazy.”

Coffeetown got off to a roaring start in 2019 but after the pandemic had set in, he was conflicted on how to handle the 2020 season. There were plenty of people that wanted the season to happen, but he wanted to be respectful of the people that had their season cancelled due to the virus. After a lot of thought, he decided to do the season with Coffeetown. It’s exactly what some people needed. 

“I think it really cemented itself as a unifying source of entertainment for people during Covid,” Blankenship said. “I had so many people reach out to me, who we’re out of jobs, we’re scared of the pandemic and said, man, thank you for making this. I’m tearing up because I heard someone, just the other day, on a radio show I was on, he was like, man, I was scared. I know you were scared too, because you didn’t have a job while you were doing this, but it helped carry me through. That’s all I can hope for is to use the skill that God gives me to help people feel peace and joy. I don’t want to take Coffeetown too seriously and make it a bigger deal than it is or make anyone feel I’m holier than thou, because of the stuff, but I do feel this gratitude and I’m thankful that some good has come out of it. Hopefully that continues.”

Blankenship’s heart has always been in the right place with Coffeetown. His ultimate goal is to use it as a tool to help unify a community and provide a few laughs. But it’s a time consuming project. Cutting each scene, editing video and audio and putting the final touches on things is not a short process. Now that people are so hooked on Coffeetown games, there’s an avenue to make money off it. 

“Someone recently said, hey, why don’t you put these on Patreon? You could charge people to watch them. I’m not shy about it, I don’t know in the short term what that reality is but I do know I’m trying to bring a community together that rallies around this fictional team, this universe and one day, whatever shape or form that takes, whatever the medium is, I do have a bigger dream and bigger goal for the distribution that it’s not just me putting it on.”

The future of Coffeetown is bright. It’s such a relatable bit, that, no matter how many times you hear it, you can’t help but laugh and relive those memories of listening to high school football games on the radio as a kid. 

“I have an idea of what’s going to happen and what the big picture storyline is going to be for the next few episodes,” Blankenship said. ‘I think about that stuff and I make notes and write down character names I think are going to be funny, as well as fake sponsors that are going to be funny and I write that stuff down during the summer and throughout the entire year. It’s finding a way to blend it all together. It’s a process that really takes time. I told you I don’t take it too seriously but I do respect my craft, whether I’m telling funny or serious stories. I don’t read from a paper, because that doesn’t sound authentic.”

BSM Writers

Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call

“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”

Published

on

I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.

The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.

OKC Radio Host Sam Mayes Fired After Racist Audio is Leaked

Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.

Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.

We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.

I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.

You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.

People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.

How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.

All About the Lucky Star Casino in El Reno, Concho
Courtesy: TripAdvisor/Adam Knapp

Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.

If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.

In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.

Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.

May be an image of text

What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!

“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”

Published

on

Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?

Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.

To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:

#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?

#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?

#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?

If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!

Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.

Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:

#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.

#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.

#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.

#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.

#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.

Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas

“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”

Published

on

Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?

Chevy Chase, aka Clark Griswold, to light up stage in Berks | Berks  Regional News | wfmz.com
Courtesy: Warner Bros./National Lampoon

Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!

One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.

Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.

There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.

Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.

I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.

Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.

It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?

25 Best Christmas Inflatables - Top Inflatable Christmas Decorations

Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.

If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.

Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.

A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.

“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.

We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.

Kevin Anderson on Twitter: "Just noticed that I've been blocked by the  international civil aviation authority @icao Have others working on  aviation emissions also been blocked? Appears to be that their commitment

As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.