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What Can Radio Learn From The Lack Of Leadership In Jacksonville?

“I don’t think it was hard to see that Urban Meyer was going to fail in the NFL, and instead of doing any sort of due diligence or homework on the guy’s shortcomings, Kahn zeroed in on Meyer and winning headlines instead of football games.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Urban Meyer is a bad person. It’s not just that he is a hypocrite. It is that he is a hypocrite that does not want do the job he was hired to. The Jacksonville Jaguars are undeniably suffering from a failure of leadership, but being fair to Urb, he is only half of the reason.

Columbus electrician sparks social media storm after posting Urban Meyer  video | WSYX

The other half is Shad Kahn. The Jaguars’ owner doesn’t seem to care about his football team. Shad Kahn is a weirdo. I like weirdos and want to root for him, so I wish this wasn’t the case. And look, maybe he does care to a certain degree, but he certainly didn’t put much effort into finding a coach to turn around the fortunes of a team that ended 2020 by losing 15 straight games. I don’t think it was hard to see that Urban Meyer was going to fail in the NFL, and instead of doing any sort of due diligence or homework on the guy’s shortcomings, Kahn zeroed in on Meyer and winning headlines instead of football games.

Watching Urban Meyer fart his way from one misstep of his own making to the next, I couldn’t help but think about our industry. Like coaching, the media is also awash with egos. For every person looking for an answer, there is someone else looking for a problem that they can shout they know how solve. Sometimes, the right problem matches with the right solution. Other times, the problem is completely ignored in favor of getting handshakes and high fives.

How many of us know or maybe even have worked for a PD with a resume that you can instantly recognize did not result in a lot of knowledge? That long resume is filled with multiple stops in top 30 markets before the PD landed the job he or she is currently in and after knowing that person for a bit, it becomes clear that the past jobs are what is making them attractive for the next job. A hiring manager in say St. Louis can be underwhelmed by a candidate and still justify hiring that candidate to themselves because the resume lists stops at stations in Baltimore, Houston, Las Vegas, and Miami. They can then go to their manager and their staff and say “look at this guy!” and on paper, those people will be impressed.

The hiring manager gets the handshake from his/her boss. He or she gets the high fives from the airstaff. Best of all? The hiring manager didn’t have waste too much time or work too hard to look like a genius!

It’s a win in the moment. It’s only a win for one person though. And if that new PD comes in and either doesn’t know how to deal with his or her new staff or simply doesn’t have the knowledge to garner the staff’s respect, the win is short-lived and ultimately meaningless.

We see this happen on air too. A station either lets an older talent walk or lays them off. The station across the street senses an opportunity and swoops in. That talent goes from being out of a job to in the spotlight with a competitor. The PD gets to stick it to the competition. The market manager gets to tell the sales staff that they have a new voice with established market familiarity to take to clients. In the moment, everyone feels good.

But what if the PD and market manager were blinded by the potential for a short dopamine burst that they didn’t consider why this talent was suddenly available. Are their ratings in free fall? Did they make everyone else in the building miserable? Do they want a paycheck that the station cannot justify?

These are all going to be problems sooner rather than later. All it took was a little bit of research and maybe one or two conversations to see that. Instead, the thrill of a short-term win has the potential to turn into shooting yourself in the foot and creating long-term problems.

The Daily Sweat: Jaguars look for better results vs. Saints
Courtesy: AP Photo

Right now, off the top of my head, I can tell you that Urban Meyer looked the other way on a number of guys that were regularly in trouble with the law when he was at Florida, he hired Kevin Wilson to his staff at Ohio State even after multiple Indiana players accused the former Hoosiers coach of physically and verbally mistreating them, he did not intervene when his former assistant Zach Smith’s wife came to him complaining that Smith was abusing her. Then when the allegations became public and Meyer was forced to address them at a press conference, he apologized to “Buckeye Nation” but not to Zach Smith’s then-ex-wife.

Again, THAT IS OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD!

If I knew all of that, chances are Shad Kahn knew at least some of it and the people he pays to help him make the best decisions for the Jaguars undoubtedly knew all of it. Maybe Shad Kahn overruled everyone raising objections. Maybe no one cared. The Jaguars have a long history of being very bad and this was a chance to get Jacksonville back on their side. Hell, the city is full of Florida fans that will tell you the Gators ain’t been the same since Urban left.

When Urban Meyer hired Chris Doyle to be his assistant strength coach and no one said boo, despite the fact that Doyle was a pretty open and unapologetic racist to his players when he was at Iowa, that should have been the moment everyone in teal said “Oh shit. This isn’t going to last very long.” The moment Urban Meyer complained that he didn’t like free agency because it’s not like recruiting, someone in the Jaguars front office should have said “Oh shit. That is exactly what Nick Saban said when he was in Miami.” The second news got out that Meyer refused to meet with his whole team after video leaked of a lady dancing on his crotch inside of his Columbus restaurant, everyone covering this team should have said “Oh shit. That sounds an awful lot like how Bobby Petrino treated his players on the way out of Atlanta.”

It isn’t hard to find warning signs. People can change, but it takes hard work and a desire to get and do better. If all of the warning signs are there that a potential hire is going to be a problem and you make the hire anyway, anything bad that happens is on the person that gave their stamp of approval.

Long ago, a very good college football reporter told me that Nick Saban was more respected amongst his peers than Meyer was because smart people in that profession recognize that Nick Saban doesn’t care if you think he is an asshole whereas Urban Meyer was, at that point anyway, obsessed with his reputation. That was back at the beginning of the last decade when the two were going back and forth for SEC and national championships.

By the time Shad Kahn made Urban Meyer his head coach, Meyer had a very different reputation. The only people that believed the guy valued the leadership and accountability he has been peddaling as his brand for nearly a decade now are the ones that call it “THE Ohio State University.” The rest of us knew he was full of shit.

If Shad Kahn didn’t, Shad Kahn needs to call it a day, sell the team, divest himself of any other business interests and just enjoy being rich, because that guy shouldn’t be running anything!

Jags owner Shad Khan calls Trump 'the great divider' in interview, defends  position on anthem | firstcoastnews.com

True leadership and accountability is necessary in football and in radio. Somebody has to be the one that gets others to buy into the vision and pull in the same direction. The day you cannot get a staff or a team to do that or you hire someone that cannot get a staff to do that, you are no longer fit to be a leader.

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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