Do you remember growing up with the kid in school that would talk trash about the other kids? That boy who would try to make himself look better on the playground by making the kids around him look worse? Well, those same little meanies eventually become adults. Even worse, some of those adults turn out to be your co-workers.
Most people have a story about someone that is difficult to get along with at work. Chris Rock pointed this out in his stand-up comedy routine “Bigger & Blacker.” Rock said, “Every woman’s got another woman at her job that she can’t stand. And women, y’all exaggerated everything. You always turn it into some Dynasty [stuff] like, ‘She’s trying to destroy me.’ What are you talking about? You wrap up bags at JC Penney.”
Sure, we’re all capable of making drama out to be bigger than it actually is, but we don’t exaggerate everything. Some people are just flat-out difficult to deal with. You may find yourself in some tense situations during your professional career. It gets a lot trickier when the person that’s tough to deal with happens to be your on-air partner. Then what?
I’ve been in situations before and have heard many other shows where one host is trying to outperform the other. I don’t mean the times a host is trying to make a better argument. That’s totally fine. I mean when one host is taking cheap shots while attempting to discredit the other person. Intentionally trying to sabotage a teammate is one of the worst sins a host can commit.
Make no mistake, two people that do a show together are teammates. Do you think a football team would be successful if the left tackle tried to sabotage the quarterback by letting his man go free for an easy sack? Of course not. All that would do is make the left tackle look bad and the team look worse, yet there are plenty of hosts that choose this exact path thinking it’ll somehow pay off. It never does.
Former Los Angeles Raiders linebacker Matt Millen made a few comments years ago that relate to this topic. On NFL Network’s “America’s Game,” Millen said, “If somebody holds you, how do you make him stop? You need to talk to the official? Fine. If you need to grab him by the throat, great. If you need to punch him in the throat — whatever you need to do, get that done.”
Although it might be deserved, we aren’t on a football field so grabbing or punching your co-host’s throat is not an option. Instead, dropkick your partner in the throat. Just kidding. The entire throat area is off limits. So how can you deal with a selfish co-host without having the HR police after you? Don’t get personal. Get creative. Here are a few strategies to make the situation better.
The first thing you have to do is be the bigger person. It’s very tempting to fight fire with fire. It won’t help anything and you will look equally as silly. It’s bad enough that one host is belittling the other. The audience will feel like they’re listening to their parents argue if both hosts do the same thing. It’s just uncomfortable. First things first, don’t get sucked in by retaliating and also getting personal.
The next part is letting the producer produce. Bill Belichick preaches to “do your job.” That obviously means to focus solely on taking care of your responsibilities. What’s hidden is actually letting others do what they’re required to do. “Do their job” if you will. It’s the producer’s job to keep the on-air talent in check, not the co-host’s responsibility. Instead of the quarterback telling the wide receiver how to run his routes, a coach should be stepping in. Allow them to.
What if you don’t have a strong producer? I guess you’re back to the throat-dropkick tactic. No, just simply communicate. Believe it or not, many people are actually unaware that they’re behaving like idiots. It needs to be brought to their attention. Calmly say that it’s important to attack the argument, not the person — especially if that person happens to be your partner for crying out loud.
Everybody in sports radio wants to shine. The problem is that there are way more Carmelo Anthony hosts than Steve Nash personalities — many look for ways to assist themselves instead of setting up their teammates. It’s vitally important to get hosts to focus on putting on a good show, not just being the star. It’s the worst formula possible when a host is willing to do absolutely anything to outshine the other.
Did you see Scottie Pippen constantly refusing to share the ball with Michael Jordan? Ever see Robin intentionally sabotage Batman? How about Shaggy trying to lead Scooby Doo down a harmful path? No, no, and are you crazy? Shaggy was a man of principle! Think of how ridiculous and damaging it would’ve been for each to try to outclass the other at any cost. It just doesn’t work.
Matt Damon’s character in Rounders perfectly describes professional poker players competing against amateurs at the same table — “It’s like the Nature Channel. You don’t see piranhas eating each other, do you?” The same should always apply to sports talk radio. Unfortunately, there are many piranhas that love nothing more than to feast on their fellow fish. Don’t bite back by stooping to the same level.
One of the toughest things in life is to show respect to someone who doesn’t deserve it. At times it’s a job requirement in sports radio when you have a self-centered partner. Just don’t bully the bully. It only leads to added tension and the situation becoming more awkward. Think long-term. You have to lead by example instead of getting sucked into the drama. The ultimate test is to have your partner’s back even when they don’t have yours.
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.