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Richmond Weaver’s Long Road to Sports Radio

Tyler McComas

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“(Deshaun) Watson takes the snap, rolls right, looks to the end zone…Hunter Renfrow caught it! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! With a second left, Watson hits Renfrow and Clemson grabs a 34-31 lead!” 

That was the infamous call by Don Munson of the Clemson Radio Network as the Tigers clinched the 2016 National Championship over Alabama, it’s second in school history. At that moment, the lives of Dabo Swinney, Deshaun Watson and Hunter Renfrow changed forever. Until eternity, those three names will be synonymous with the greatest moment the Clemson program has ever seen. But what if I told you a father of three in Greenville, SC would also experience a life-altering moment from that play? A story that would change the fate of a medical device salesman into hosting both a podcast and a local sports radio show. 

A proud Clemson grad, Richmond Weaver was frustrated during most of the national championship game. During the tensest moments of the game, he was dealing with a nightmare television scenario at his home. While his daughter had friends over to watch the game in another room, Weaver’s TV was three seconds behind in the action. His daughter and her friends signified the play to come by their loud cheers before he even saw it. Not exactly ideal when your team is playing for a championship, but as Clemson approached the line of scrimmage down three points with six seconds left, Weaver said he only wanted to hear his daughter scream for joy. 

As Watson’s pass entered Renfrow’s arms, Weaver initially reacted the way you’d expect any sports fan that’s been waiting 35 years to see their team win a national title. There was joy, there was jubilation, but there was also one prevailing thought that struck and hit deep: He needed to start a podcast. In Weaver’s mind, the gut-wrenching game he had just watched proved that anything is possible. Though he was in his mid-40’s, it was time to chase the passion that had been on his mind for several months. 

Weaver admits that he gave up on his dream at the first sign of adversity. From his high school days, all the way through college and then into his 20’s, he had the burning desire to be a basketball coach. For a short time, that dream was realized as he spent three years as an assistant at the Division 1 level, one at Fairleigh Dickinson and two at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Through his large list of connections, Weaver thought he finally caught his big break in 1996 at the age of 25 after being promised a job at Auburn as an assistant. 

Turns out, the coach he was replacing decided not to leave the school. As fast as it had come together, Weaver was now out of a coaching job. Sure, other positions were available at the D2 and JUCO ranks, but none of them were the D1 coaching position he thought he deserved. 

His pride and ego got to him. Instead of coaching that season, he accepted an opportunity as a pharmaceutical salesman. He took it and never again realized his dream of coaching. Weaver wondered how he could preach to his kids about following their dreams and passions when he left his behind way too soon. 20 years after walking away, he knew he wanted to get back into sports, somehow, someway. 

A little over a month after the podcast idea hit Weaver hard during Clemson’s national championship win, he realized he never cashed in on something he had won at an auction. The prize, was a visit to the ESPN Upstate studio to see how a functioning sports radio station worked. The description to bidders promised the chance of even sitting in as a co-host for a segment. After being the only bidder, Weaver toured the studio and eventually co-hosted numerous segments with Mark Sturgis. He was instantly hooked and knew it was for him.

Sports podcasting or radio had never been a dream of his, but this was his way of getting back into sports and chasing a passion he left behind. Now, more than ever, the burning desire of starting a podcast was on his mind. Turns out, Sturgis was impressed with his co-host for the day, especially since he’d never done it before. As Weaver walked out the door that day, Sturgis made a remark in passing, “have you ever tried doing a podcast before?” 

Weaver knew it was God speaking to him.

Today, Rich Take on Sports is a podcast centered on how much sports has impacted, built and inspired coaches, players, media personalities and others in today’s world. Now through 68 episodes, the extensive guest list ranges from Mark Schlereth to Dwight Gooden, Digger Phelps and many more, all with different messages on how sports helped shape their life and successes. 

Through out his journey of trying to build a successful podcast, Weaver continually kept in contact with Sturgis. That led to opportunities as an occasional co-host with the two paired on the same show at ESPN Upstate. Sturgis continued to like the duo so much, that he invited Weaver to regularly co-host the show with him for three days a week. The father of three that was just trying to spark a passion was now hosting both a podcast and a sports radio show. 

Though the lucrative payment of 50 dollars a show wasn’t enough to draw Weaver away from his medical sales job, the climb in the sports radio business continued as ESPN Upstate wanted to expand his role by adding him to the 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. slot. He’s there every week day, as a co-host of The Huddle with G-Mack and Lonzo. 

I’ll use a quote from the late Sean Adams: “The dream is free, the hustle is sold separately. Go to work.” There’s probably not a quote that more accurately fits Weaver’s journey from a college basketball coach, to medical salesman to podcast and radio host. 

TM: What if I told the kid that wanted so desperately to be a D1 basketball coach, that he would someday be a podcast and sports radio host? 

RV: That you’re a liar. No way, this would have never been on my radar at all. 

TM: I think when some people start a podcast, they get frustrated because it takes a while to gain momentum and get listeners. Did you experience any of that? 

RV: I still struggle with that, Tyler. Initially, I would get consumed with not having very many downloads and focusing more on numbers, rather than focusing on content. I’ve tried to have a complete mind shift that, just focus on content, have guests sharing their stories and it will build. I do remember getting specific emails at times from people that I didn’t know. They were describing how they enjoyed the podcast and that was just another affirmation to me that I needed to keep on going. That’s the mindset that I have. But I still struggle with wishing the podcast was bigger, but that’s just human nature. 

TM: How do you get so many big names on your podcast? 

RV: I wish I could tell you. Other than perseverance, I’ve been in sales for 20 years, since I got out of coaching. In all reality, I was even selling when I was coaching with recruiting. For whatever reason, I’ve just had this ability to connect with people. For me, it was just all about reaching out. Some of it is having connections, which helps. But I started seeking out opportunities that I could meet some people and establish new ones. I went to the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony and that’s where I met Levon Kirkland. When I approached guys like that, I just told my story. In terms of I had a passion for sports, I was in coaching, got out of coaching, I regret it and now want to share stories that have some type of connection with sports. That’s how I started going about it. I’ve met people on social media, there’s just a myriad of opportunities that have found me since I started the podcast. 

TM: Now that you’re chasing a passion, how has that changed your everyday attitude? 

RV: It’s really allowed me to embrace the simple fact that it’s okay to fail but it’s not okay to not try. You have to try. Let God run you down different pathways and be able to understand that no matter what it is, life is not passive. You have to reject passivity. That’s what it’s showed me each and every day. If you continue to stay active and you continue to have faith and trust in God, then you can half the courage, confidence and conviction to walk into the unknown. One of the things that I love about the podcast and the radio, is the connections that I’m making. Regardless of where they lead, it’s just a connection that’s what energizes me. 

TM: What would you say to someone who was once in your position, in terms of wanting to do podcast, but just can’t get the motivation to try it? 

RV: Just press record and start. That’s the biggest for me, was rejecting the passivity. Life is about activity and being active. You just can’t worry about what the outcome is, instead, worry what the content is. You just have to start. I kept telling myself I wanted to start a podcast, but after I got enough clues, I finally started. Literally, after I pressed record and did the first episode I thought, well, we’re going. It hasn’t stopped since then. 

BSM Writers

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.

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WRONG BAD

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.

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BSM Writers

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.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

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.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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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.

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