Its 7:15 on an average weekday morning in Oklahoma City as cars pile on the highway for the day’s commute. The peak time for morning rush hour has hit. Matthew Meyer is one of the many faces on the road as he sits behind the wheel of his Buick Sedan.
While others on the road have spent the past hour trying to wake up and prepare themselves for the upcoming day, Meyer has already completed an 8-hour shift at Tinker Air Force Base. Now that it’s a quarter after 7:00, Meyer is heading back to his home for a quick breakfast. But there’s no opportunity for him to unwind or catch a few hours of sleep, because at 9:00 a.m., he’ll be on the air at The Sports Animal in Oklahoma City.
Meyer has one of the most unique schedules you’ll find in sports radio. While most people are settling down in the evening and prepping for bed at 9:00, Meyer is just waking up in preparation for the start of his night shift. It begins at 11:00.
He wakes up, eats, visits with his family and catches up on various sporting events that have already concluded from earlier in the evening. When his shift ends at 7:00 a.m., it’s over to the Cumulus Studios in Oklahoma City around 8:00 a.m. in preparation for his shift as an on-air producer from 9 to noon. It’s a demanding schedule, but it’s a necessary one for him and his family.
In the fall of 2011, Meyer started a position at Tinker Air Force Base as a shot peener. Essentially, he’s responsible for removing paint from planes as well as other maintenance jobs inside the base. Even though the hours were tough, the job was needed so Meyer’s wife, Kristin, could spend more time with their son Landry.
Landry Meyer was placed on the autism spectrum in late 2013. A few years later, in August of 2017, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Landry obviously required a lot of attention. Two parents working during the day wouldn’t garner the necessary care the now 2nd grader would need, especially if Landry had any sort of set-back during the afternoon hours. Meyer took action and found his way on to Tinker for a full-time position, leaving his wife Kristin the opportunity to care for their son during the day.
On average, Meyer gets around 6-7 hours of sleep per day. Sometimes, it’s less, depending on the sports calendar. According to Meyer, this is the busiest time of the year for him, as he has to find a way to watch and to keep up with both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State basketball, as well as the Oklahoma City Thunder. His current employer is the flagship station for the team. Free time is hard to come by, but the few hours he gets are reserved to catching up on sports and spending time with his family.
Since January of 2004, Meyer has been involved in some capacity with The Sports Animal. From producing, to hosting Saturday shows and even quarterbacking pre and postgame coverage of OU and OSU football in studio, Meyer is what every successful station needs: a Swiss Army knife.
No, it may not be a perfect schedule, but Meyer does it because he loves his family and wants the best possible situation for his son. He loves sports and being around sports radio too. In a lot of ways, it may be his escape from the demanding day he’s already had. For three hours a day, he gets to do what he’s always wanted: talk sports.
TM: Why are you doing this after so many years?
MM: So my wife can be at home with our son. It’s been a blessing, because my wife Kristin can really focus on him and help him out in areas that he needs.
The main reason I do it is because my wife can be home with my son, but man, I also really enjoy it, I love sports and love working in radio.
TM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten in radio?
MM: The harder you work and the more you prepare for something, the better you’re going to be. Working in radio, you just can’t be prepared enough. You can’t read enough, you can’t watch enough, and you can never be prepared too much.
There’s nothing worse than being on the air and not knowing what you’re talking about. If you open up the phone lines and make it to where anyone can call and ask you about anything, you need to have a pretty decent idea of everything going on. I’ve been up at the station for more than 15 years and there’s nobody that works harder than Craig Humphreys in preparing for a show. There’s nobody that reads more newspapers, columns, just the research he does has taught me so much on how to prepare for a show. Bob Barry Jr. was the same way. It’s really just been learning by example.
TM: What about your Saturday show? It increases your workload, but how proud are you for having it?
MM: I’ve been absolutely thrilled to do it. We were trying to figure out ways to have more local programming on the weekends and this is what we came up with.
I love doing it and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity. I just try to do my best to think about what people really want to hear. It would be easy for me, or anybody else, to turn the mic on and talk about my favorite teams. But that’s not the right way to do things and I don’t think that’s really doing the best job you can for the listener. The idea is to get listeners and get them to keep listening. If you’re talking about only what you want to talk about, that may not necessarily be what people want to hear.
I really try to focus on what’s local, but I also want to hit on the big national stories. I’m thrilled to do it and really happy with it.
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.