Red Sox/Yankees, Bears/Packers, Alabama/Auburn, or choose one of your own, rivalries make sports great. There’s nothing like a fan base getting riled up, ready to watch their team “own” their rival. These games are a television network’s dream, tons of promotion, storylines, and best of all, viewers. While it may be easy on a network executive when one of these games is on the air, it isn’t always easy on the network broadcast team.
Unlike a local telecast or radio broadcast, national television has it a little tougher. Locally, you have pretty much a die-hard audience built in. They know the broadcasters and they know the history of the teams. A fan will come to the telecast or radio waiting to hear what they’ve come to expect, a game call that’s geared toward them. There won’t be a lot of, “yeah, I already know that. What else you got?” moments.
I think the die-hard base already knows what it may get if they are forced to tune into a network telecast of a game against their big rival. They know there will be some stuff that makes them roll their eyes. But what are you supposed to do as a network broadcaster? It’s not a local audience, it’s the entire country that’s tuned into your broadcast. You have a responsibility to not only tell both sides of the story, but to make it relatable to those that aren’t true fans of either team.
To me, the national telecast needs a steady dose of “duh”, because you can’t assume everyone is a fan. It’s not just another game and to me, it’s ok to revisit some of the stories they’ve probably already heard. It’s supplemental but useful in setting the scene. But it will also need some new and fresh stories regarding the rivalry. This is where you rely on talented producers. They are usually able to uncover some new aspect of the rivalry. Whether it be a story about a new player, a new head coach or a new role for someone already involved in the rivalry. Are there players on opposing teams that went to high school together and so on. Teamwork on the production side will make this telecast ‘watchable’ for all.
Look, there are things about this rivalry that are unmistakable. There have been obviously been some great and memorable games. Yes, there have been some blowouts and there have been some upsets. You have to recap them to the viewing audience. For the big fans, it will be a cool reminder (or a sad one depending on the result) and for those just tuning in to watch a game, it will give them a little pretext on what to expect. In other words, it will introduce those that don’t have a particular rooting interest to what this matchup is all about. The hype machine likely has been working overtime in promoting the game, making everyone realize just how big the game is for the teams and the fan bases.
Preparing for one of these games in a network capacity can be a bit challenging. You’re serving basically three audiences. Team A’s fans, Team B’s fans, and those that are just tuned in because they like the sport. How do you serve all three masters?
You really can’t, so you do the best you can. This shouldn’t be looked at as a burden, you may just need to take your normal prep up a notch. I mean, do what you would always do, like talking to the coaches and players to give you that leg up. Knowing ahead of time that you’ll be doing a game with two heated rivals, will give you the chance to talk with former players and former coaches for that extra bit of flavor. Plus, there is plenty of information out there these days for you to use during the broadcast.
If it’s your first time or thousandth time broadcasting a big game, there is that tendency to try and do too much. The game itself is already big, so there’s no need to make it any bigger in your mind. It’s a chore because there’s already extra hype that preceded the game. There’s a buzz in the crowd. If the game has extra meaning, like moving on in the playoffs, or securing a conference title, that adds even more to the equation. Being up for the moment is one thing, but getting too geared up for a broadcast is just as bad as a player being too keyed up for the game. You get outside of yourself and usually you get sped up.
I can recall two instances pretty clearly from my career, where the game was big and I needed to calm myself down. Now, these weren’t rivalry games, but they were big none the less. When I was doing play-by-play for the Padres, the team faced Colorado in a game 163 (where Matt Holliday still hasn’t touched home plate), for the right to go to the playoffs. It was more than just a game. It had a playoff feel. I remember walking up and down the stairs from the broadcast level to the main press box, just to waste some energy.
The other happened while in San Diego as well, preparing for the University of San Diego basketball team playing in the NCAA Tournament. The Toreros were set to face UCONN and I couldn’t wait for the game to start. When we got to the arena in Tampa, I couldn’t sit down. I was too pumped up. Knowing this, all I could think to do was walk around the arena. I walked up into the stands and watched the game that was on the floor before ours. Mentally, I called that game and it seemed to get me back into a good head space.
Being able to relax ahead of any game is important, but for a big game like we’re talking about it’s critical. Get that prep done early. It’s very likely that you’ll know a lot about the teams anyway, so getting the framework done ahead of time will allow you more time to just chill. If you have to, write yourself a note or two on your spotting board. I used to write, “SLOW DOWN” and “BREATHE”, ok, the second one I probably shouldn’t have had to remind myself to do, but you get the idea.
Remember, at the end of the day, this big rivalry or big game is the star. Don’t try to upstage it. You don’t have to.
JMV Isn’t Faking Anything
“It takes a little bit of time to realize that it’s not somebody else that people want; it’s you that people want.”
John Michael Vincent, better known as JMV, has developed quite the following as a sports radio host in Indianapolis. As I see it, there are three main reasons for his success; talent, connections, and time. The first part is obvious; the guy has the chops. JMV is skilled and gets radio. As far as connections, I don’t mean that he knows big wigs in high places; I’m talking about connecting with his audience. The Fan’s afternoon guy isn’t hiding in the dressing room before he performs. He’s practically in the parking lot doing keg stands with his listeners before he hits the stage. He’s one of them.
Time is also important. JMV, who’s actual name is John Michael Gliva, simply has time for people. If you bump into someone who is short with you, I doubt you’ll walk away feeling valued. JMV has a welcoming charm and makes you feel like he has all day for you if needed. That type of vibe can’t be forced or faked. It’s just who JMV is. A lot of hosts enjoy speaking to people through a microphone. Many aren’t as eager to speak in person. JMV enjoys doing both a great deal.
Owensburg, Indiana — a town of only 300 people — is where JMV is originally from. He told me that listening to the few radio stations they had when he was young made a connection with him and that he always wants to make a connection with people because of that. It shows. JMV talks about the origin of his nickname and a unique future goal. He also tells great stories about royally ticking off Adam Schefter, being blackballed from ESPN, and hilariously missing out on a big scoop. Enjoy!
Brian Noe: How did the nickname JMV come about?
John Michael Vincent: I was on with a guy named Mark Patrick who actually for a long period of time did both FOX Sports Radio in the morning nationally and MLB Network nationally. He was big time in this market doing local TV. I started with two other guys and then I think within six months I was their producer at Sports Radio 1260 WNDE back in 2000. I was going by John Michael, which is my first and middle name. Mark tagged me with John Michael Vincent. My role on the show was to play the illegitimate son of the former, now deceased actor Jan-Michael Vincent. In the mid-‘70s Jan-Michael Vincent was huge as an actor and then he resurfaced in the ‘80s on the show Airwolf. That was my name, John Michael Vincent. Then it ultimately got shortened to JMV. A lot of people bristle in radio — I want to go by my own name blah, blah, blah — but when you’re with a guy like Mark, you just kind of take it. I have to give him credit, man, because we rode that out and now JMV is my name. That’s how it all started. I was the illegitimate son as his producer of the actor Jan-Michael Vincent.
BN: What’s the most important asset for a host to have in Indianapolis?
JMV: Ultimately it’s relatability. Especially in Indianapolis — I’m assuming you get this all over the map, probably even in the larger markets like New York, Boston, Philly — around here it is relatability. It’s like I walk among the folks. I’m one of them. I’ve never wanted to do national radio probably because I understand my limitations. But also because around here it’s important to folks. If we didn’t communicate with them, if we didn’t have our shows here, nobody else would really give a crap about them around here. When Andrew Luck quits on the team they do, but for the most part no one really cares about the Colts. And we do. That’s why love local radio is so important.
I always try to explain to folks who wanted me to be more like hey, listen to these national shows, and listen to this great tease, and listen to what they do, and I say bullshit. Because people around here, I’ve got to talk with them. I’ve got to have them on. I’m out with them. I can’t disappear behind the curtain like you do nationally. Then you just kind of restart your three hours the next day.
I see these people out and I embrace when they go hey, what you said about Frank Reich was accurate or inaccurate, and what you said about Chris Ballard I don’t really believe, or I’m with you on that. You can’t disappear behind a curtain on a daily basis as you do nationally. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for that. I guess that’s just because I love where I am and I love what I do. I think that’s what people around here really do embrace overall; it’s just you being yourself and this kind of is me. I don’t change to go on the radio. It’s just me all the time. I think people especially around here embrace that.
BN: I think sometimes for younger broadcasters, it takes a bit to just be yourself. You feel like you’re on stage or need to be a souped-up version, then you realize, I just need to be me. Were you always yourself, or did there come a time where you’re like man, I need to stop being a version of what I think people want and just be me?
JMV: Yeah, you know what, it’s funny. This is what I found out; it’s nothing about anybody else that hosts a show, but I think listening to other shows and their content is detrimental to you and yours. Especially when I come on around three o’clock, and before me you’ve got two local shows on our station, or you can listen to a lot of stuff nationally, Brian. I think what it does is it will interfere in your dome with your content and your thought. It enters into your psyche and because you might be talking, it may be something that you say. I don’t want to use or plagiarize anybody else’s take. I want everything to be as completely original in thought from my head as possible. I’ve always tried to do it that way.
Back in the day I would sit there and prepare for the show and Jim Rome would be on in the background. I’m not suggesting I wanted to sound like Jim Rome but inevitably your takes kind of have a bit of a Jim Rome feel and you don’t want that, man. I realized it was okay to F up. I realized that it’s okay because people go oh yeah, well that’s JMV, he F’s up all the time. Hashtag JMV SUX. He sucks. I guess that’s part of the overall radio acceptance that you strive for. I think they’re accepting me as I am and that I’m going to be flawed.
I try to go in when I start at three o’clock as fresh as possible without listening to all this other stuff, or listening to the ESPN guys in the morning on TV stirring stuff up with hot takes. I don’t want to be hot-take guy. I want to be me. I want to be me with my own content. This is what I think or this is what I’ve heard. It takes a little bit of time to realize that it’s not somebody else that people want; it’s you that people want. It’s your take that people want. Like it or loathe it, that’s what they’re looking for when they tune in. I’ve always tried to give that.
When you’re early in your career, you’re searching for what makes you confident. You see these guys that are benefiting, that are good, and are loved on the radio especially because of what they’re doing with their content. Thus, you feel that maybe you should add a little bit of a twist of your own to that, but it’s really unnecessary because people are looking for you; your content, your originality, you as a person. There are so many different outlets and avenues that you can soak up stuff and then ultimately end up parroting some of this content on the air and that’s not at all what I ever wanted to do. It takes a little bit of time to realize that.
BN: How did the whole JMV SUX phenomenon come about?
JMV: It’s kind of funny. It just started with social media; hashtag JMV SUX. I had a golf outing last Monday; the JMV SUX But His Larceny Bourbon Golf Outing Doesn’t. Probably it started like this; a lot of people telling me I suck. Once I embraced that I suck, and people tell me that, it almost diffuses them. Like if people out there, Brian, really think I suck, and they go you know what JMV, you’re take about the Colts, it sucks and so do you. Oh yeah, really? Well they make shirts with JMV SUX on the shirt. Come up with something new. It kind of diffuses that a little bit. I can’t lie. It’s fun to play with it. I don’t mind. I’ve never really minded it.
It’s funny; you think you’re not affected by what people say or what people tweet, but it’s impossible in the early stages of your career. Especially with the revolution of social media and the way that it was over the course of my career, it’s impossible not to feel chafed or be thin-skinned at times.
This has helped to relieve a lot of that pressure. It’s helped not to care what people say. In the process it’s something that people have embraced. I’ve got a closet full of JMV SUX t-shirts. The first one that was ever made was a Run DMC Raising Hell type of album cover that said JMV SUX instead. It kind of took off from there. It started with me diffusing anger and crap that was said to me and then just kind of rolled into something that people liked so I just went with it myself.
BN: Is there anything that you haven’t done in your career that you would still like to do?
JMV: I would. Yes, I’m glad you brought that up. I would love to do a show on Sirius to where you can — I don’t mean cuss, I don’t need to cuss or anything — but kind of broaden it just a little bit. I would also love to do a music show on Sirius. I think that would be great.
When COVID first started, I started a live call-in music show on our sister station B105.7 that I do every Saturday night. It’s called the JMV Takeover. Literally, I do this every Saturday night live from six until midnight. I have zero playlist. They just turn it over to me to play either what I want or whatever the callers want to hear. That kind of scratches the itch that I had because I love music radio a great deal. I thought it was fun. Any interaction at all with fans and listeners is always pretty cool.
I would love to bring back nationwide, more of what I discovered on Saturday around here being able to utilize the live listener and the caller and putting that together. Even though I know that’s not how that works on SiriusXM on any of their music formats. But to me I think it would be fun to do. With my knowledge of the ‘80s and ‘90s, I could do that. So maybe SiriusXM for sports, SiriusXM for music, maybe sometime how about a SiriusXM sports and music mixture too. I just don’t know if any of that crap would ever work to be honest with you.
I really have done all that I ever wanted to do, man. People always say, well you know what, you’re not good enough to be national, which I’m sure is the case. But legitimately this was my goal. Coming from the town where I came from there is not a lot of opportunity to ever be able to reach a goal like this so I always look back on that and feel good about it certainly. I made a lot of friends. I love going out and hanging out with people. I love doing live remotes. I do about two or three of those a week. I love trying to produce live, local radio and keep that alive because I think in a lot of ways we see that across the radio landscape disappearing.
BN: Why were you blackballed from ESPN on radio row because of a mistake you made with Adam Schefter?
JMV: Well, it’s twofold. When Schefter was back on the NFL Network, they would reach out to WNDE and he would come on. He wasn’t the best interview. Maybe it was because I wasn’t the best interviewer when I first started. I don’t know. But we never really liked one another except they always kept pushing him.
I was at the combine when it was still at Lucas Oil Stadium. The whole radio row was set up inside the concourse. It was in February, cold, late, about six o’clock, and I was kind of sick. I had a promotions guy come over and go hey, Adam Schefter’s over there, you want me to go ask him to come on? I go man, I just don’t feel like dealing with this right now. Nah, he’s always giving me short answers and I just didn’t think it was going to be worth the time or the effort. I said don’t worry about it. I go to the can. I walk out of the bathroom and Schefter is sitting in the seat right across from where I’m sitting. I went ahh, dang it. So I come over there and I go okay, it’s all good.
As I was asking questions, he just answered in really short form; like five words or less. Then it got even lower than that and I could tell the dude didn’t want to be here. The fact that he didn’t want to be here, and I didn’t want him there, resonated to me at the moment. So I said I’m going to make him sit here as long as possible. I started asking some of the most ridiculous questions ever to kind of be a jerk. It was wrong of me, but I was sick and I was pissy and that was my reaction. I think literally at the end of the conversation I asked him his favorite color. That’s how bad it got. It absolutely devolved into that. He didn’t like that and that’s fine.
I think afterwards Jim Irsay had tweeted something and then Schefter had sent a barb back to him, retweeted it. I sent out a tweet that said hey, you’re great at what you do, but this is yet another reason why a lot of people think you’re a smarmy ass or something like that. I shouldn’t have done it. I regretted it. He got pissed; went up the chain at ESPN and they got pissed. They called my bosses. They got pissed.
So fast forward to the Super Bowl when it was here. I’m on radio row and all of these ESPN guys are telling my producer who’s now the voice of the Colts, Matt Taylor, that they weren’t allowed to come on with me because I was a dick to Schefter. [Laughs] So I got blackballed. Nobody from ESPN during the Super Bowl week came on with me.
To close the story out, a friend of mine here works for the FOX affiliate. This was another combine. He had to take Adam from downtown to the FOX studios. I guess the entire way — this was like two years later — ripped me nonstop. Talked about how big of a jerk I was and how I was the worst interviewer ever. They really like him around here? He’s awful. Stuff like that. He ripped me for 30 minutes, I mean a new ass, which I absolutely deserved. He didn’t realize this guy was a really good friend of mine. [Laughs]
There was a long time I never talked about it, but I think we’re pretty much down the road now to where I can bring it up. It’s one of the best stories ever because it was two years later and I would have thought that guy wouldn’t have given a damn about anything I would have said. But clearly he did. I will stand by the fact that the guy in an interview situation was a jerk to me and that’s fine. But that was a moment of truth for me in social media going hey, you got to handle this better than that. It was all me. You’ve got to take the blame and move on a little bit, so I owned it.
BN: What’s the story with you not breaking the news that the Colts would be featured on Hard Knocks?
JMV: Yeah, social media is overwhelming for me. I’m getting messages in 19 different directions. Sometimes I go man, I’m not looking at that. I’ve got two different Facebook pages and Twitter, I’m doing YouTube Live and all this. I missed it. A friend of mine, he’s a good friend named Sean Patrick Turley, had sent me a message on Facebook back in early September and said hey, I’ve got a cameraman friend of mine that says Hard Knocks is coming to the Colts in midseason. I didn’t even see it. Then when the news broke, I was surprised. Sean sent a tweet like hey numbnuts, I told you this two weeks ago. I go where? I don’t see it. Then I looked through and of course it was devoured by other messages that I had not opened and there it was right there. So yeah, it was my breaking story and I completely screwed the pooch on it right there.
I love the write-up that you guys had. I mean really it does fit the persona because if somebody is going to miss a massive scoop like that, it’s going to be my dumbass. Seriously. Much like the Schefter thing, I own it. I take the blame and I move on from it. I retweeted that every time. I loved the headline. We got a big laugh out of it around here too. I don’t know if my bosses laughed or not, but whatever. It was funny and it was absolutely me. It could not be more me than that was right there.
This whole thing is kind of me. There’s no faking. I couldn’t fake this level of hillbillish ineptitude. Instead of faking it, I just kind of roll with it. You play with the team that you have. You use the tools that you have and if you only have one or two tools, you use those. That’s essentially been the focus of my career to this point right now; using my lack of tools.
WDAE Was Right In The Middle Of The Rays’ ‘Split City’ Controversy
“ When Mamola called to tell me the story last week, he framed it as a story of how easy it can be to work through controversy when there isn’t an adversarial relationship between the team and its flagship.”
If you don’t live in Tampa, St. Petersburg or the surrounding area, chances are that you don’t have a particularly positive view of the Rays. Well, maybe you respect how much the organization has done with considerably fewer resources than division rivals in Boston and New York, but the stadium and its plethora of empty seats have almost certainly been the butt of your jokes before.
The Rays will open postseason play on Thursday. While the day will be filled with discussion of whether or not 2021 will be the year the team is more than just a feel good, “Little Engine That Could” story, that wasn’t what had Rays fans talking last week.
On September 25, the second-to-last Saturday of Major League Baseball’s regular season, the team’s president, Matt Silverman, went on WDAE and dropped a bomb on the fans. They already knew team ownership saw value in splitting the team’s home games between St. Petersburg and Montreal. Now, when the team may have the best shot to win a World Series that it ever has, they were going to rub the fans’ faces in it.
“We’re going to add a sign in the rightfield foul territory with a very simple Tampa Bay Montreal graphic,” Silverman said on his radio show This Week in Rays Baseball. “Especially with the eyes of baseball on us this October, we want that visible symbol of our plan and our excitement for it. It will mark the effort subtly and keep the focus on winning.”
Remember, this is on the day the University of Florida beat rival Tennessee and Florida State lost to Louisville to fall to 0-4 for the first time in 47 years. The next day, the Buccaneers lost a game for the first time since Thanksgiving weekend. Still, on Monday morning, all Tampa Bay sports fans wanted to talk about was the disrespect shown to them by their own baseball team.
John Mamola is the program director of WDAE. He told me that the conversation started with his morning show and lasted all day long. The city was pissed. Frankly, I needed him to tell me why. I’m not a baseball fan at all, and even I know that attendance at Rays games is sparse to say the least.
“While the Tampa Bay Rays haven’t been a great example as far as attendance in the last decade-plus, their radio and television numbers continue to be some of the best in all of MLB,” he explained. “The residents of this entire community care, and they understand the challenges of the current ballpark situation. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium discussion for many years now has overtaken the conversation of the actual team and the high level of play they’ve shown over the last 13 years, and I think that frustration from the fan base for the situation shows how much their fan base does care about the organization in the landscape of ‘Champa Bay.'”
When Silverman made his statement on Saturday, he didn’t have anything to show or post pictures of on the team’s social media accounts. He wasn’t even able to describe what the banner would look like. Maybe Silverman had a plan, but that is all it was.
The area’s sports fans didn’t care. To even bring up the Rays playing home games in Montreal on WDAE, the market’s only sports station and the team’s flagship station, was a slap in the face.
John Mamola was proud of his staff. “Our guys were insanely honest. They were not shy with their opinions,” he said. I asked him what messages he gave them going into Monday morning. He told me that he kept those conversations pretty straight forward. “It’s as simple as listen to what was said and understand the context before discussing, and then walk through it together.”
Plenty of stations brace themselves for a fight with a team partner. Some of those team partners can be very sensitive to criticism. After all, there is a written contract. The relationship is supposed to be mutually beneficial. Where is the benefit in letting hosts on the station where your games air rip you?
I mean, come on. The timing isn’t an accident. The announcement was made on a Saturday with the following week being Tom Brady’s return to New England.
Mamola says that is not the Rays he knows. As long as he has been at WDAE, the team has been pretty easy to work with. Monday’s shows were probably filled with a lot of criticism the Rays were hoping wouldn’t exist but he wasn’t driving to work planning to spend the day on the phone fighting with the team or even with his bosses at iHeartMedia.
“Our job is to spark opinion and conversation, their job is to win baseball games. Both sides want success for each other, and both sides work well with each other,” he said of the Rays. “We’ve been blessed to have great access within the organization to have some face to face meetings with as much transparency as possible with the upper management of the organization to get a better grasp on where they’re headed and take our questions and feedback. That’s the mark of a great partnership. With that, the organization knows that our talent will not make this a personal attack on anyone or anything within the organization but they also have an understanding that they are as open to criticism as anyone in Tampa Bay when it comes to our passionate hosts on WDAE which speak directly to the Tampa Bay sports fan and Tampa Bay Rays fan/consumer.”
That great partnership played a role in the conflict’s resolution. When Mamola called to tell me the story last week, he framed it as a story of how easy it can be to work through controversy when there isn’t an adversarial relationship between the team and its flagship.
By Tuesday night, Stu Sternberg was on the WDAE airwaves saying he was wrong. The team’s principle owner was on the pregame show ahead of what would eventually be a loss to the Houston Astros to address the plans to hang the “split city” banner and the reaction to the announcement.
“I absolutely should have known better and I’m sorry for that,” he said of Matt Silverman’s announcement. “I’m here to tell the fans that the sign is not going to go up.”
Now, this isn’t a movie. Sternberg didn’t announce that he had been wrong all along and finally understands the true meaning of Champa Bay. He still is planning to pursue that Split City plan when the Rays’ current lease runs out at Tropicana Field in 2028.
John Mamola is fine with that. Forty games in Tampa is better than zero games in Tampa.
“I can imagine that the Rays were preparing on their end for backlash to this plan, but we also have to have an open mind with this plan and not only read the headline. The Rays have made it very clear after many proposals simply have not worked out, that this split-city proposal (they feel) is their last shot at keeping baseball in Tampa Bay long term although on a short term per baseball season.”
So what about the games left in front of this team in 2021? The playoffs start later this week and for as long as they are alive, the Rays will have home field advantage against American League opponents.
WDAE is always invested in the team and rooting for their success. After being in the middle of a story about fandom and civic pride with the Rays, will Mamola put an added spotlight on their success this postseason?
He says no, because the station doesn’t need to. WDAE is the home of Rays and Lightning games and studio coverage of the Buccaneers. That gives them a powerful place in the minds and hearts of Tampa Bay sports fans. Ultimately, he says that is why he and his staff were the ones trusted to make a difference.
“If fans need a place to share their voice, there is only one choice in the megaphone of WDAE and over the past week or so that has only been re-enforced with the voice of the fan changing the narrative of the majority owner of that said baseball team, and thus receiving an apology from owner Stu Sternberg heard LIVE on WDAE and the Rays Radio Network. That’s the power of the fan, and shows that the fan still has a voice when it comes to their local sports franchises. I couldn’t be more proud of how WDAE helped shape the discussion both digitally and terrestrially and helped deliver the feedback of the fan directly to those within the organization helping alleviate a very difficult and emotional situation, albeit for only till the next time we discuss it.”
Is It Time For Sports Media To Get Out Of The Facebook Business?
“Is a tool that only works 35% of the time a tool worth keeping?”
Facebook has received its fair share of bad press. That comes with the territory when you are one of the most powerful platforms in the world for information distribution and a huge business with billions of dollars. I can’t help but wonder if the last two days are going to end up being something of a “last straw” for some users, both personal and business.
On Sunday night, 60 Minutes presented a story centered on a whistleblower named Frances Haugen. She intends to testify before Congress that Facebook, which also operates Instagram and WhatsApp, has proven over and over again that it has complete disregard for its users’ safety and its effect on the public conscious. Therefore, Haugen believes that Facebook should be subject to strict federal regulations.
According to Statista’s research department, Facebook boasts 2.89 billion users across the globe. Access to an audience like that would certainly be hard to give up, especially considering that more than 57% of Facebook users are in the 25-54 demo and around 56% of them are men.
It is so easy to justify not making any kind of change, but between Sunday’s PR disaster and Monday’s crash, it is time to take a look at whether or not the platform is working for us. Remember, just 35% of your followers were seeing any of your posted content if you weren’t paying for the message to be boosted. That was the data in 2013 and algorithm updates have been made since, so it’s possible that percentage could’ve grown, but if you’ve kept tabs on Facebook’s actions over the past decade, then you know that it’s more likely that percentage has decreased from 35%. Regardless, is a tool that only works 35% of the time a tool worth keeping?
The accusations that Haugen leveled at Facebook are eye-opening. Political parties have told the company that they do not like the algorithm that prioritizes the most absurd stories. Facebook doesn’t respond. An internal study suggested that Instagram leads to depression and suicidal thoughts in teen girls. Facebook decided to build a version of the app targeted specifically at kids because that same study said that the more depressed Instagram made them feel, the more they looked at it. Facebook is sighted over and over again as the most common tool used to spread disinformation about elections and Covid-19. Facebook started a Civic Integrity Unit that it immediately disbanded once the 2020 election was over.
None of these things directly affect sports radio brands or the way they are viewed, but it sure seems like a reckoning is coming for Facebook. Is it a platform still worth prioritizing?
There are so many ways for us to send out snackable-sized content these days. If you are only keeping Facebook because of its sheer volume of users, I would argue that isn’t exactly critical thinking. As a company, it prioritizes a passive user experience. Think about Facebook and Instagram. They are built for mindlessly scrolling and tapping.
Admittedly, scrolling and tapping play equally large roles in Twitter and Tik Tok, but users go to those apps expecting entertainment from creators. They are usually more engaged audiences. Combine those apps with the reach of something like YouTube and the capabilities of a platform like Twitch, and you have much better platforms for engaging your audience online. If a sponsor wants a presence on your social media platforms, doesn’t it make sense to steer them to the ones where your users are more active?
All trends are cyclical, no matter the realm they exist in. It wasn’t that long ago that we talked about MySpace as the social media power. In any normal circumstance, Facebook would have just faded into the background like so many social media sites before it.
This is a completely different beast though. This site amassed considerable power and seemingly abused it at every turn. It has become a pariah so often that at one point, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a feed created on Facebook that just posted positive news about Facebook.
As I write this, your Facebook content is gone. It’s not just inaccessible. It is gone as the result of a hacker attack.
(Editor’s Note: Facebook service was restored after this column was submitted)
Like the monster in any good movie, Facebook will come back. I just wonder if after two days of one PR nightmare after another if there is any reason for us to come back to Facebook.
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