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How Do Small Market Hosts Get Attention For Big Market Jobs?

“Broadcasting in a market with a triple-digit Nielsen ranking that begins with a 2, 3 or 4 comes with some very specific challenges.”

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Upward mobility is the name of the game for guys of a certain age in sports radio. Young guys go wherever they get their first opportunity and then proceed to work their way up until they eventually land their dream job in a much larger market.

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Having goals isn’t a phenomenon limited to any particular age group. There are always obstacles to overcome when trying to move from point A to point B. Broadcasting in a market with a triple-digit Nielsen ranking that begins with a 2, 3 or 4 comes with some very specific challenges.

Brady Farkas and Ed Lane are two guys that are not currently looking for new jobs, but they have done their share of poking around in the past. Those experiences have given them the chance to learn what they can do better and how their work and success are perceived.

I asked both of them the same three questions. Whether the day comes again that they are looking for a bigger opportunity, or whether it is just knowing they can impart to help someone else, I appreciate their candor and willingness to participate.

AS YOU APPLY AND INTERVIEW FOR BIGGER GIGS, WHAT MISPERCEPTIONS OR BIASES DO YOU HAVE TO OVERCOME BEING IN SUCH A SMALL MARKET?

Brady Farkas (WDEV – Montpelier, VT): Ironically enough, I think one of the things you have to overcome is your relatively small social media following. When you come from a smaller market, you just don’t have as much ability to generate a social media following, so you have to fight the notion that that’s because your content is not relevant or impactful. You have to find a way to show that what you are doing in the community is impactful and you are reaching the people that you should be reaching. It’s nice to hit and make an impact across a region, but if you have a small following, you want to show that you are still impacting the community you are serving.

Furthermore, you have to show that you still have a robust network. Just because you don’t get to go to the game like big market guys do or you don’t have guests coming in studio like they do, it’s still possible to have a very strong network. I’ve still come across very influential sports figures and covered big games and met a lot of people, and a lot of those people have come on my show, and that network can continue to serve you as you move up the chain in terms of market size.

Ed Lane (CBS Sports Radio Lynchburg – Lynchburg, VA): There’s a miss perception that you will struggle to adapt to a PPM market when you come from a smaller market that is either using the antiquated diary system or is not rated at all. The reality is with over a decade of coaching, including constant dialogue with program directors in larger markets, there are certain skills they’ve been gracious enough to help me hone that frankly, anyone can practice.

These include getting to the point early in segments, polished live messages (heck I’m selling the messages, shouldn’t I care about the client getting results?), effective use of soundbites, and strong, well-researched opinions. Just because Nielsen chooses not to invest in PPM in the smaller market doesn’t mean that I don’t have the skill set to adapt.

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Another misperception is that I can’t learn about or may not even have working knowledge about topics of interest in a different market.  As you research for a broad number of teams like I do in my market, you inherently come across info that is pertinent to other fan bases as well as your own. A lot of that comes from just having a growth mindset and constantly wanting to learn so that you both educate and inform your listener wherever you are.

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT MAKING SURE THE PEOPLE YOU WOULD LIKE TO EVENTUALLY WORK FOR KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO?

Farkas: I make sure that influential people with connections know who I am, and I reach out to them to check-in or keep a relationship strong. This is going to sound like a line solely for this piece, but it’s not: I make sure that the people at BSM are aware of what I’m up to and I like to check in with Jason and Demetri. I may not have a direct link to a company or a PD, but I know they likely do, and that’s a good first step.

I’ve also come across several influential PDs in my career and I like to maintain a relationship with them so there’s always the ability for them to recall you should they be talking to a person in power. And then, you also have the ability to use your guest list and network. These people all work for places too, and they may be able to help you when it comes time at their place of business or at a place where they know someone.

Lastly, I just try to use social media to my advantage. If I put out a piece of content that I think is relevant, or if I have a guest that is relevant, I make sure to tag the appropriate parties that may be interested. And maybe it helps generate a following for me or a topic of conversation on my show, but it could also lead to my profile being clicked on by someone in power somewhere as well.

Lane: A lot of it is about establishing connections and then maintaining connections with people who genuinely have an interest in helping others. Once you establish that connection I try to utilize multiple forms of networking sites including LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to keep them abreast of what I am doing daily, and of course continue to learn more about what they are doing and who they are as people. Some of this goes to just establishing your “brand“ but a lot of it is also giving them some insight into who you are and helping build up that level of familiarity. Additionally, it’s helpful to understand how they preferred that you contact them and how often they are open to dialogue.

WHEN YOU’RE IN A MARKET LIKE THE ONE YOU ARE NOW, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT YOU NETWORK WITH PDS AND GMS IN LARGER MARKETS?

Farkas: I think it’s important to network with the right people, not necessarily a certain number of people, or even just only PDs and GMs. I don’t just reach out to everyone in the country and drop a resume, but there are people and stations around the country that I really like, and I like to pick their brains about how they’ve done what they’ve done or how they’ve built what they’ve built. And that information and those tips can help me grow both now and in the future. And as those relationships get built and conversations get had, a hiring person can draw on that more intimate relationship, rather than just a one-time email.

News and sportscaster Brady Farkas joins WDEV AM/FM — Waterbury Roundabout

Lane: For the record, the term “network“ is not necessarily my favorite if only because there’s some truth to the idea that the term is more about what you can gain as opposed to a reciprocated mutually beneficial relationship.  It’s absolutely true that when you are a smaller market host reaching out to decision-makers in larger markets there is an implied positioning that you want to be in consideration if an opportunity opens up in their market or if they know of one they can fit for you. That said, it’s also wise to try to make sure there is a level of dialogue and genuine caring about that individual by coming prepared with ideas on how you can help them & their business.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Demetri Ravanos reached out to Brady and Ed on his own. These conversations were not the result of those gentlemen asking to be featured in this way.

BSM Writers

Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content

Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.

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USA Today

When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.

“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.

Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:

1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”

2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.

The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.

I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.

Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”

There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.

First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.

The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.

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BSM Writers

The Client Just Said YES, Now What?

We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.

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One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!

We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.

When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.

They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.

A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 74

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This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.

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