For more than three decades, Scott Paulsen was one of the most well-known radio voices in all of Pittsburgh. His show, Paulsen and Krenn, killed it in the ratings during morning drive on WDVE and became synonymous with early commutes in the Steel City. His talents, both comedically and musically, were off the charts, but one day at a family picnic, he proved he also possessed an eye for talent.
His nephew, Grant Paulsen, was a 9-year-old sports nut that seemingly knew every single stat that existed. Seeing as Scott was a huge public figure in Pittsburgh, he rooted for the Steelers. Grant, however, rooted for Washington. So during the picnic, the two were arguing about a scrimmage that had just taken place between the two teams. It wasn’t an actual preseason game, it was just a scrimmage during training camp, yet, somehow, Grant kept rattling off everything that happened that day. It blew Scott’s mind. It also gave him a brilliant idea.
“I was making fun of the Steelers because Washington won like 9 to 7,” said the younger Paulsen. ”I was rattling off some of the stats and he just thought it was crazy. I now get it as a person that does a radio show, but at that time in his life, he was always thinking about how he could play something up on the air. So he asked me to call in to do football picks on his radio show and called me his 10-year-old sports bookie. I would call in with the betting line and then give my picks.”
It was the late 90’s and the segment was getting very good feedback. A weekly newspaper in the tiny town of King George County, Virginia took notice and wrote a story on it. Once again, the feedback was positive and the King George Journal decided to ask Grant to write a short column every week on sports. Of course, the young sports nut was thrilled for the opportunity. Soon after, it was the local TV station that wanted to do a story on Grant Paulsen. Once again, the response was great and the station wanted him on every Friday at 5:40 to do football picks. It was a stroke of luck, but he was suddenly getting breaks most could only dream of. The thing was, he was getting all the breaks before he was even a teenager. But the biggest one was still yet to come.
The phone rang randomly at the Paulsen household. On the other end was an employee from the Late Show with David Letterman. They had taken notice of what the young sports whiz had been doing and wanted to feature it. Soon after, Grant was making a trip to the set to be on the show. In all, he went to the set in New York City seven times. Six times he actually was on the show. But the most memorable moment was easily the time he was asked by the Late Show to cover Super Bowl 36 in New Orleans. Along with his father and an entire team of joke writers, camera personnel, and others, Paulsen cruised around Media Day at the Super Bowl and delivered funny questions to both players and coaches. You can still find the video on YouTube.
“There were 7 or 8 of us, it was like an entourage,” Paulsen said. “There were some really funny skits. I think people just thought I was some jerk little kid but I was just executing the jokes. It was funny and really a neat thing.”
He had already been on a popular radio show. He was writing for a weekly newspaper and even doing television. Now, he was featured on one of the most popular late-night shows of all time. And it all happened because his uncle saw what an entertaining radio bit he could be.
It’s been a surprise to no one that Paulsen has risen to heights he has in sports media. With a start like that, he was well on his way to stardom at a young age. Today, he’s the co-host of Grant and Danny on 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. Recently, the show moved into the afternoon drive spot at the station, one of the most coveted time slots in all of the city.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Paulsen said. “It’s pretty much the same show with a couple of new wrinkles. But it’s been exciting and a really cool thing because the history of our station in that time slot is pretty incredible. As someone who listened to the station growing up, there’s a really rich history with the station. It’s a really humbling experience.”
Seeing as he grew up listening to the station, it really means something to Grant Paulsen that he could be one of the voices that remind people of their own childhood.
“It’s something that I think about a lot, honestly,” Paulsen said. “I don’t take it lightly and it’s a really neat experience for me that means a ton. The station is an institution and if you’re from this area, you rode around and listened to it at some point. Everyone has. It’s a really cool thing going to work every day and knowing that. It’s obviously a different station now, being sports talk, which, works for me, because that’s always been, since I was a kid, my aspirations, but you have a great time slot at a legendary station that you’re trying to uphold. There’s pressure in that. You don’t overthink it, but it’s certainly important. It makes the opportunity that much more exciting.”
As much as he loves doing his daily radio show, there’s a passion for play-by-play that’s unmatched. He’s done it all, from high school state championships to collegiate games to Arena Football League, even an opportunity to be the voice of the DC Defenders of the XFL during the short existence of the league.
“Being the voice of the DC Defenders was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had, even though it only lasted a few games,” Paulsen said. “And then this year, I was actually in the booth for a couple of games for the Nationals. That was a fill-in opportunity that came at the last second and I was doing color commentary, which I’ve never done before and I’m probably pretty unqualified to do. I just tried to bring an analytical and a talk radio background to it. Play-by-play is my ultimate goal.”
Grant Paulsen wouldn’t mind the Michael Kay lifestyle. He’d love the ability to do his show in the afternoon and lead right into the baseball or football game he was doing that evening. Granted, that’s a heavy workload, but he’s still the kid that wants to be around the game as much as possible.
“I don’t want to get rid of the things that I have, but since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to call games,” Paulsen said. “I’ve loved all the roles I’ve had. I was on the beat for four years in the NFL. I enjoy writing and have done it many years, most recently with The Athletic. I’ve been a TV analyst for the Caps and Wizards, all those things are things I could see myself doing for a long time. If I never get to call games again and I’m doing my daily talk radio show, I’m going to be pretty happy. I enjoy my job. What I told people many years ago is that Mike Tirico had a radio show and he would do games at night on the weekend. That, to me, is a dream scenario.”
Seeing where Grant Paulsen has been, there’s no chance I’d bet against him being the voice of an MLB or NFL team in the future. That’s certainly in the cards. But for now, he’s not taking any opportunity for granted. He’s living his dream and he’s damn good at it.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!
“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”
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!
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.”
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?
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?
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.
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.
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