Think of the people you admire the most in sports media and you’ll notice something similar between almost all of them. Colin Cowherd is known for his radio show on Fox Sports Radio, but he also has his own podcast network. Michael Kay has a drive-time afternoon show in New York City, but he’s also the television play-by-play voice of the Yankees. Dan LeBatard went from a great columnist to a great radio host. You get the idea, several well-known talents have more than one sports media gig.
That realization hit Carrington Harrison around five years ago. It was at that time, he felt the urge to create something outside of his radio show at 610 Sports in Kansas City.
“Nobody who you would deem to be at the height of this profession only does a radio show,” He said. “They either write or have a podcast, they do something else. I think most people in our profession look at Bill Simmons as being the standard, especially in multi-platform kind of stuff. He basically had the idea of 30 For 30. I love movies and I love documentaries. It just felt like something I should try.”
So he did.
During the height of Covid-19 he made the decision to create a documentary about the history of high school basketball in Kansas City. The 93-minute film From Paseo to Pembroke is an authentic retrospective on the golden age of high school basketball in the city. The film covers the years from 1988 to 1998.
“I didn’t think that anybody had compiled the history of high school basketball in Kansas City,” Harrison said. “I did a lot of reading and talking to different people and nobody had tried to do it. When Covid happened I noticed that so many people were trying to learn how to do something new, whether it was video editing or Twitch, whatever it is. I felt like people were trying to make the most of their time. I had a lot of free time because I wasn’t watching sports, all I was doing was watching a lot of movies at home. It just kind of came together.”
The documentary has been showing in select theaters throughout Kansas City and the local reviews have been fantastic. Shawn Edwards of Fox4 News gave it four out of five popcorn bags and said it’s “basically the KC version of ESPN’s The Last Dance.”
The inspiration for the idea to make a documentary came from multiple places, including The Morning Show, a streaming television series on Apple TV. In the show, Steve Carell plays a character named Mitch Kessler, who was fired amidst a sexual misconduct scandal that spanned 15 years during his time as a morning anchor at one of the biggest TV networks in the country. During the first season, Kessler mentions how nothing they do truly matters. Nobody goes back and watches old shows, it’s all about the present. It was something that really stuck with Carrington Harrison when he watched that particular episode.
“I really thought about that with my career. Nobody goes back to listen to old interviews or old tapes, sports news is always moving forward. I tried to think of something that would last and I felt like this was something that could stick. You know, something that people could show their kids. That was a big motivating factor for me. I felt it was our story and I felt like I was the right person to do it.
“I knew enough people in the story, I either knew them personally or I knew the person that knew the person. That made it easy and kind of like anything else, once you tell people what you’re doing, they’re much more inclined to want to help you. Especially something of this magnitude.”
Carrington Harrison was kind enough to share the documentary with me before I wrote this story. I’ve been to Kansas City a handful of times in my life, and have a pretty good understanding of the city, but to say I have any ties to the area would be inaccurate. But that didn’t negatively impact my feelings on the documentary. In fact, I was surprised when I found myself rooting for schools such as Raytown South to win the state title in 1990, even though I had never even heard of the high school.
It’s incredibly well done and I would urge any basketball fan to watch the documentary. That’s coming from someone who has no bias to the area.
In all, 53 people were interviewed for the documentary. That’s where Harrison spent the majority of his time with the documentary. He was also very hands-on in the editing process. What really helped speed up the process was the help of Spectrum Sports. Most of the film is shown through archived footage, so the process of sorting through 10 years of video would have taken an eternity. Luckily, Harrison had help.
“The people at Spectrum Sports were actually really, really helpful,” Harrison said. “There’s a guy named Shawn Beldin, he’s kind of the keeper of all the footage. One day I went up there and they had a sheet of all the games. It was, oh, this game is interesting and this game is interesting, they were super helpful with that. It made it to where the heavy lifting was done already.”
Carrington Harrison is already one of the most popular sports radio hosts in Kansas City, but this will undoubtedly add to the likeability factor he’s already built up with the locals. There’s no denying the effort he’s put in to give back to Kansas City and this venture could turn out to be his most memorable one. Harrison isn’t leaving the radio dial anytime soon, but creating a documentary that’s been this successful may be the start of a new passion.
“I really enjoyed doing it,” Harrison said. “It was a different kind of challenge, where, in my day job, most of the things happen really fast. For example, the Chiefs play the Titans next week. You start on Monday and try to get a big Tennessee Titans guest and you know by Friday whether or not you’re going to get the guest.
“It’s kind of a quick turnaround and you have to replicate that 17 weeks. That’s not really how this works. It was really challenging and it took a lot of patience, which is a personal weakness of mine. It was one of those things where once I decided I wanted to do it, I talked to a lot of people who have done a documentary. They tell you what the experience is going to be like, but you don’t know until it’s done. It’s just exciting. It’s exciting to think you had a part in creating something like this. That part is really rewarding.”
If you’re interested in seeing the documentary, it sounds like you’re probably going to have multiple chances in the next few weeks. Again, coming from someone who has no ties or bias to the area, I would highly recommend this film. It’s informative. It’s entertaining. And it’ll make you feel something for schools and former players you have never heard of before.
“We’re trying to figure out the next step, but if I had to guess, I think it will be available on DVD, probably here in the next 10 days,” Harrison said. “I think it’ll also go on Amazon Prime in the next 21 days.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
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.