Sports Radio News
Lance Zierlein – SportsTalk 790
In the city of Houston there certainly isn’t a problem when it comes to finding an entertaining sports morning show to listen to. “The Proper Gentlemen of Sports” features Lance Zierlein and Adam Clanton and together they’ve been patrolling the airwaves of SportsTalk 790 since August 2013. In less than 1 year the show has experienced strong ratings growth including holding the #1 spot during the February 2014 book. For Zierlein it was the 4th time in his career that he’s had the highest rated morning show in the Houston market, a feat even more impressive when you take into account that he’s done it at 3 different stations.
When I’ve listened to Lance in the past there were a number of things that stood out that I believe make him successful at what he does. First and foremost, he’s got a passion and understanding of the NFL that’s impossible to ignore. Having grown up in a football family with a father who’s coached for over 30 seasons in college and the NFL, it’s easy to see why football is a big part of his life and a strong focus on his show. Read his website The Sideline View and you’ll see just how much time and effort he puts into studying the pro and college game. Now combine that football obsession with a fan base which cares deeply about the Houston Texans and you’ve got a winning combination.
Secondly, his quick wit and ability to be a natural smart ass makes listeners react both positively and negatively and that shows an ability to stir emotions and connect with an audience. On one particular day I listened in as Lance and Adam presented what they titled “The PGS Programming Survey” where listeners could call up and discuss what they loved or hated about the show and sports talk radio and after hearing one caller explain how he wanted less entertainment on the show and more “hot takes”, Lance and Adam instantly flipped the switch and turned into wide world of sports-like anchors delivering a very old-school style presentation that would bore today’s audience to tears. It was laugh out loud funny and it’s that type of quick thinking and ability to have fun on the air that keeps Lance’s audience engaged and curious. To hear it click here.
Last but not least, Lance is not afraid to take a stand and deliver some riveting rants (click here for his passionate rant last season on the Texans) yet he’s also quick to feed off the energy of the room and break into one of his many known characters and leave the room in stitches. His impressions of Jon Gruden, Wade Phillips and Phillip Rivers are outstanding and he’s also a master at creating characters such as the SEC guy and Communist News Network Spokesperson among others. Check out this video and you’ll get a better idea of how Lance brings his Wade Phillips impersonation into the on-air discussion.
I had the pleasure recently of reconnecting with Lance and we discussed his approach to entertaining, how he determines what’s most important to his audience and some areas of his game that he believes can still get better. Enjoy!
Q: If I asked a Houston sports radio listener to sum up the “Proper Gentlemen of Sports” by using 3 buzz words what would they be?
A: Entertaining, Energetic and Unique
Q: How do you determine which content gets featured the most on the show? Is there any research you use that supports why you go in a certain direction?
A: We visit with our PD and he’s able to monitor which show topics hit nerves with listeners through our PPM trends. By tracking individual shows – especially the ones that have seen spikes – we’re able to trust in the data and have a greater understanding of what hits with listeners in terms of “A” topics. As for the “B” topics – which are often the differentiators in ratings success if you do those topics well, they come from show prep on a variety of non-mainstream sites (Deadspin, Big Lead, etc.) and they’ll make their way onto the show when things start slowing down.
Q: When you listen to other local or national sports radio shows what draws you in and what sends you away?
A: What draws me in is spirited debate between the hosts or topics/angles that are unique. What drives me away is mindless topics that make me feel like the hosts are putting it on cruise control or when hosts have bad chemistry. If what I hear on the radio doesn’t sound like a conversation or banter I might hear between two or three people in a sports bar or sitting on a couch in someone’s living room, then I probably won’t stay for very long.
Q: What is the most difficult part of your job?
A: I think one of the most difficult issues that I deal with is remembering that topics aren’t old to listeners just because I’m getting bored with them. Listeners are joining my show for the first time that day throughout the morning so staying disciplined and making sure to continue to hit the primary topics is something that can still be difficult. If I’m getting bored with a topic, I have to be able to either find a new angle to the topic, or come up with a segment that allows me to have fun and be creative before getting back to headliners. It’s like having my own recess but in the middle of a segment.
Q: How often do aircheck yourself or listen to audio with your PD or show unit?
A: I don’t aircheck myself as often as I used to. When my PD airchecks us after the show, it is usually not a good thing because that means he’s getting ready to make a point. I think airchecks are essential in the formative years for a host and they were very helpful for me at that time. To be honest, I should probably do it more often than I do right now.
Q: Over the years you’ve developed a ton of characters and included them in your show and they seem to have connected well with your audience. What is the hardest part about creating a character and what advice would you give to someone who’s trying to add that type of creativity and fun into their show?
A: The hardest part about creating a character is finding the right voice and personality for the character that will allow the character to become memorable for listeners. I also feel like it is important to create quirky characters with over-the-top personality traits so that layers can be added to the character and storylines can be fleshed out. When listeners feel like they are “in on” the bits, they become more loyal listeners. These characters become something they can share with their friends either over the phone (‘hey did you hear what happened on the show today?’) or via podcast links.
Q: How often do you involve characters in your show and how do you decide what’s enough, not enough and/or too much on the show?
A: I like to let the character involvement happen organically. I don’t like to be forced into doing the characters or I feel like it becomes more forced than fun. I will be doing SEC Guy or Gruden or Philip Rivers during the football season but will only bring them out on rare occasions outside of football. Often, I will just see an opening for a character to call in and I will literally dial the hotline on my cell phone as I’m leaving the studio towards the hall. I’ll conduct my call from the hall and then hang up and jump back onto the show. Program directors and other hosts have wanted me to do these character much more frequently but I try to be cognizant of not doing them to death and over-saturating the listener.
Q: Having ascended to #1 in the ratings in your time slot, what are you doing different today then you were doing 5 years earlier that’s helped you have success?
A: I was #1 in my time slot five years earlier at another station so I will change the question. What am I doing differently now than two years ago? I would say the key to my ratings re-emergence has been getting back to doing unpredictable, entertaining radio. There is an artificial ceiling on shows that follow the same script and formula each day. Once I decided to take the lead and trust my own instincts and talent rather than trying to just blend in and do what others were doing, it all clicked for me once again. Your advice to take the lead played a big role in the way I started approaching the show. I’ve always done fun, memorable shows that rated well but I got into a funk for about 3 years and was being bounced from show to show and I’m finally locking in on doing what I do best once again.
Q: Having established a strong brand in your market, which area of your game do you believe still needs improvement and how can your PD, Producer and Co-Host help you in the process?
A: There is no question that my interviewing skills need so much more work despite the time I’ve put in on the radio. I can ask good questions and I can transition from topic to topic effectively with a guest but I take entirely too long to ask the questions sometimes. The best way a PD could help me is to simply pull an aircheck of when he hears me going long with questions.
To learn more about Lance’s morning show on SportsTalk 790 in Houston click here. You can also discover more information about Lance himself by checking out his website The Sideline View or by reading up on his wikipedia page.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports Radio News
Doug Gottlieb Details Interviewing For College Basketball Head Coaching Vacancy
“I’ve told people that for the radio element to — for the right thing — I’d give it up. The (podcast), I’m not giving it up.”
Fox Sports Radio host Doug Gottlieb recently interviewed for the vacant head coaching job at Wisconsin-Green Bay and detailed the experience on his podcast.
“I got a chance to talk to (Wisconsin-Green Bay AD) Josh Moon several times during the year after they had made their coaching job available and my approach to how I’ve done these things — and this is not the first time I’ve gone down this path, but this was a different path,” Gottlieb said on his All Ball podcast.
“This is a low-major, mid-major job, and there’s no connection there. I’ve told people that for the radio element to — for the right thing — I’d give it up. The (podcast), I’m not giving it up. I love doing it and I think there’s a very smart world where if I’m coaching I can still do this podcast and still do it with basketball people all over the country and the world, and it’s kind of like a cheat code.”
He continued by saying that seeing Shaka Smart be successful at Marquette has motivated him to continue to search for the right fit as a college basketball coach.
“That’s what I want to do. And last year when I was coaching in Israel, that also continued to invigorate me…this is something that I would really like to do. It has to be the right thing. It has to be the right AD who hits the right message.”
He continued by saying that a sticking point of negotiations was he wasn’t willing to give up his nationally syndicated radio program for the job. He was willing to take less money for his assistants pool, but also to continue doing his radio show.
Gottlieb did not get the position with the Phoenix, noting that he was a finalist but was never offered the job. The position ultimately went to Wyoming assistant coach Sundance Wicks. Wicks had previous head coaching experience and had worked with Green Bay athletic director Josh Moon at Division II Northern State. He admitted he wasn’t necessarily “all-in” on the job due to the current ages of his children and whether the timing was right to uproot his family to move to Northeastern Wisconsin.
The Fox Sports Radio host does have coaching experience. He has worked as a coach for the U.S. men’s basketball team at the Maccabiah Games, sometimes referred to as the Jewish Olympics.
Gottlieb’s father — Bob — was the head men’s basketball coach at Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 1975-1980, compiling a 97-91 record.
Sports Radio News
Waddle & Silvy: Scott Hanson Told Us to Lose His Number
“We didn’t call him back, so he set out what he wanted to do.”
Aaron Rodgers took immense pride in the fact that he told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter to “lose his number” while discussing his future earlier this week on The Pat McAfee Show. ESPN 1000’s Waddle & Silvy said they’ve experienced similar treatment from guests on their radio show.
While discussing the Rodgers interview with McAfee, the pair admitted that NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson once told their producer to stop trying to book him for interviews on the program.
“I believe the presentation was ‘Do me a favor: lose my number after this interview’,” Tom Waddle said. “So he tried to do it politely. Scott Hanson did. Get out of here. That concept is foreign to me. How about ‘Hey, next time you text me, my schedule is full. I can’t do it, but thanks for thinking of me’. ‘Lose my number?’ You ain’t the President, for Christ’s sake. I’m saying that to anyone who would say that. ‘Lose my number?’ We’re all in the communication business. I just don’t know — why be rude like that to people? What does that accomplish? You know what it accomplished? We didn’t call him back, so he set out what he wanted to do.”
Co-host Mark Silverman then mentioned that the show once tried to book Hansen and NFL Red Zone host Andrew Siciliano together in the same block, with the idea of doing a trivia game to see who the supreme Red Zone host was. Siciliano agreed, but Hansen declined.
The pair also confirmed that an NFL Network personality had told them to lose their number, but couldn’t remember if it was Rich Eisen or not.
Silverman later joked that maybe Hanson was getting a new phone with a new number, and was politely sharing with the producer that he could lose the current phone number because he would share his new number in short order.
Sports Radio News
Seth Payne: Aaron Rodgers ‘Makes Gross Inaccuracies’ When Calling Out Media
“This is where Rodgers does this thing where he, in calling out reporters for their inaccuracies, makes gross inaccuracies in his accusations.”
Aaron Rodgers is always mad at the media for the inaccurate things he says they report, but according to Sports Radio 610 morning man Seth Payne, no one is more inaccurate than the quarterback himself.
Friday morning, Payne and his partner Sean Pendergast played audio of Aaron Rodgers responding to a question about a list of players he provided to the Jets demanding they sign. Rodgers called the idea that he would make demands “so stupid” and chastised ESPN reporter Dianna Russini, who was the first to report it.
“Now to be clear, Dianna Russini didn’t say demands in her tweet. She said wishlist,” Pendergast clarified.
They also played a clip of Russini responding to Rodgers on NFL Live saying that she stands by her reporting and it is her job to reach out to confirm that it is true.
“This is where Rodgers does this thing where he, in calling out reporters for their inaccuracies, makes gross inaccuracies in his accusations,” Seth Payne said.
He added that if Rodgers is being serious, he is doing some serious nitpicking. He claims that he didn’t give the Jets a list, but that he spoke glowingly about former teammates and told the Jets executives that he met with who he enjoyed playing with during his career.
Payne joked that maybe he wrote down the names in a circle pattern so that it was not a list. Pendergast added that he could have had Fat Head stickers on his wall that he pointed to instead of writing anything at all.
In Payne’s mind, this is a case of Russini catching stray frustration. Neither in her initial tweet nor in any subsequent media appearance did she use the phrase “demands”.
“What he’s actually responding to in that instance is Pat McAfee is the one that described it as a list of demands,” Seth Payne said.
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