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Ryan Hatch Is Competing With Your Wife

“We know our mission. We are Arizona Sports, and our mission is to super serve the local sports fan with entertaining and interesting conversations about the biggest local stories of the day.”

Demetri Ravanos

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I like Ryan Hatch and was really bummed that our schedules didn’t allow us to catch up more at the BSM Summit in LA last month. The program director of Arizona Sports 98.7 was part of a panel featuring both local and national programmers discussing the idea of approaching their jobs from an outside perspective. How do we improve the product by thinking about radio from a listener’s perspective?

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“It was fun, and listen, if we are not having these conversations, and not just having these conversations and then going back to our own work and old routines. We need to really be exchanging and listening to these ideas, otherwise we’re screwed,” Ryan told me over the phone.

We first got to know each other in the spring of 2017 when I applied for an opening on his mid-day show. He liked my creativity. I liked how much he and Bonneville emphasized a multi-platform approach to content creation. In the end, I am guessing the fact that I have never even been to Arizona is what hurt my chances of landing the job.

Either way, if you’re a content creator, it is hard not to be impressed by what Arizona Sports 98.7 is. It’s on the air, online, and dominant on social media. It may have started off as a way to create more advertising opportunities in the Phoenix market, but Ryan says that being everywhere is a necessity for any radio brand in 2019.

Our conversation included thoughts on Phoenix’s transplant community, Kliff Kingsbury, and why he doesn’t want his listeners to answer the phone when their wives call. We started out by talking about that panel from the BSM Summit and why programmers need to rethink how they approach competition.

RYAN HATCH: Where it all starts is understanding that we’re all in this fierce battle for attention. The first big thought that I think everyone can rally around is quit thinking you’re competing with the station across the street. You’re not. You’re competing with any other form of content or distraction. I’m competing against whether or not the guy listening in his car on the way home is going to take the phone call from his wife.

DEMETRI RAVANOS: On stage at the Summit you talked about trying to think beyond Nielsen ratings when we are trying to determine what success is for a show and a station. Is it easier to get talent to think beyond those numbers or to get sales staff to think beyond the numbers when you talk about what the reach of the Arizona Sports brand is?

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RH: That’s a good question. I would say…boy, that’s tough.

DR: Well, like with your staff, to be at Arizona Sports, you have to be good at a lot of things. You have to be a good host. You have to be a good writer. So, I think those guys get the same ego boost when you see either ratings or click numbers.

At the same time though, the sales staff is always looking for new opportunities to sell their product. I can’t imagine they are reluctant to look beyond just ratings numbers when showing a client what Arizona Sports can offer them.

RH: I want to be completely honest and accurate. I don’t know that there is a really big difference. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Number one, from the content side, we’re lucky to have unbelievable talent. We have consistently high, strong ratings. We’re lucky to be in a dominant position in a major market. That is a credit to our talent – hosts, producers, board ops, promotions team, I mean everybody does that.

At the same time, one of the big changes I have seen is in behavior. We share regular, in-the-moment data, whether it be streams, clicks, or engagement statistics across multiple digital platforms. We share those regularly with our team and are constantly analyzing those. We spend a hell of a lot more time looking at our digital metrics than we do at Nielsen because Nielsen numbers only come out once-per-month.

The digital numbers are better numbers anyway. They are more representative of the larger market than boiling it down to a couple hundred male 25-54 meters that are available, so in our building, our content guys take so much pride in the overall success of the brand and the astronomical growth we have seen of ArizonaSports.com, the Arizona Sports app, our podcasts and other digital pieces. Our staff is all in, and all we want is growth.

On the other side, I’ll tell you that the majority of the business on our sales side is local. It’s local direct.

To go into a local business, wherever it might be and say “Look, we’re in a strong position in ratings, but let me tell you, ratings come and go. That’s not what you’re buying here. You’re buying a strong brand association, association to incredible talent, and a very qualified, hard to reach audience. Now, let me give you our total audience story!”

Someone at the Summit talked about total line reporting and I said on stage we need to talk less about total line reporting and talk more about total audience impact.

What we’re sharing is our ratings story, our online story, our database story, our social story. We’re even sharing SMS/text and app notification story. That’s six of about nine different buckets you can pull from. They certainly aren’t mutually exclusive, but they show the overall strength and the strength of the brand story.

So if you’re a seller you can go into a business and say “You get access to radio to tell a great story, which is effective to driving sales. You also get access to a large, targeted, local online audience. You also have access to put a pre-roll spot on a podcast if that is what is right for you. We’ve got like six or seven other channels to access on our platforms for you to access.”

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That is a heck of a stronger story for the sales staff than “Hey, here are our ratings for the last three months.”

DR: You are one of the first stations I can remember taking a multi-platform approach to content seriously. What was the evolution from being just an AM signal, a traditional sports station to the full Arizona Sports brand?

RH: Up until January 1, 2007, KTAR was this massive, full-service news/talk/sports station. It was on AM on a huge signal covering all of Maricopa County and a huge chunk of the Southwest.

What research and audience analysis said was that the news audience was never fully satisfied, because so often when they were driving home at 5 o’clock or 4:30, they want their traffic and want to be up to date on the day’s biggest news story. But what happens? The Diamondbacks are at the Marlins or the Suns are in New York and that game is on in the middle of the day out here. It just wasn’t a complete experience for them.

On the other side you had the sports fans. They wanted more of this. We had an evening show that was outside of the traditional “news all day” format. It was play-by-play and this evening show at night. The sports audience said “We need more of this! We have major teams in every sport. This is Phoenix, Arizona!”

So our company made an aggressive play. Bonneville was one of the first to move news/talk to FM, so we made the decision an investment to fully serve both audiences – news/talk on FM and sports on AM. It became News Talk 92.3 KTAR FM and Sports 620 KTAR AM.

When PPM came in, we realized sports talk was doing very well, but we were hitting a ceiling. AM is a very limited, aging audience. It was almost exclusively a male audience.

We had a decision to make. Can we move this thing to FM? If so, I knew I didn’t want a website that just looked like an advertisement for the radio station.

There was an opportunity to take a strong, almost category-closing position on ArizonaSports.com. It gave us global reach. So, we actually launched that before the station moved. We went through the process of debating “do we want to lose the equity of almost 90 years of KTAR?” and “how do we build a brand that is separate and can stand on its own?”.

We changed the name in November 2011. It was Arizona Sports 620 AM. Then it was 2014 we felt the ceiling again. It was an incredibly difficult decision to move to FM, because we had to flip an incredibly successful Adult Hits station, 98.7 the Peak. They had a great staff. But at that point we believed the future was in unique, great local content both on radio and online. Bonneville believed the Peak’s future in a hyper-competitive music side of the industry didn’t compare to the potential for Arizona Sports and its growth.

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After nine months of a simulcast, 620 became a full-time ESPN affiliate. That gave us a great flanking station to cover all local sports and take full advantage of all of our play-by-play relationships.

DR: So 620 is a full ESPN feed, but it has its own PD in Rodney Lakin. What are his duties, and what does your relationship entail in terms of how Arizona Sports’ programming needs effect 620?

RH: In addition to being PD of ESPN 620, Rod is also the APD of Arizona Sports. ESPN is a full ESPN, but we air over 400 local play-by-play broadcasts and obviously have a ton of spillover games that fall onto ESPN along with some ancillary team based local programming. And that doesn’t include any of the ESPN national offerings.

While ESPN duties keep him busy, the majority of his time and energy is Arizona Sports focused handling a lot of the day to day work with hosts and producers. With my responsibilities with the KTAR News brand and oversight of all of our digital and social content, Rod is an unbelievable wingman. 

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DR: Since ArizonaSports.com launched before the change over, was there any selling of the staff that had to be done to determine who was on board, or was the idea that we are not just doing traditional AM sports talk always baked into the concept even in the Sports 620 days?

RH: Well, we knew we couldn’t have two KTARs. KTAR is news. We needed a stand alone brand to own the sports position. As we explained it to anyone, internally and externally, everyone embraced it.

Once we got to FM and had access to the larger audiences, our digital growth exploded right along with it. We put more resources into the digital space.

Back in 2007 we had one person on the Arizona Sports staff dedicated to the website alone. Now we have three digital-focused employees plus additional shared employees that cross over driving sports content for both websites.

DR: So when you talk about Phoenix’s sports hierarchy now, what is it? All of those teams are old enough to have established fanbases at this point, but it is a city that people move to from all over the country. So, what is the hierarchy of what you are covering on air from day to day?

RH: It is a fascinating market. When 73% of the population was born elsewhere and most of the teams are relatively new in the last 30 years it can be a bit of an immature sports market. But it’s an event town. There are so many competitive options.

The NFL, like most places, is king, but I will say that this is a Suns town. When there is a story, like last year with the Suns getting the number one pick, this town turned orange very quickly.

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The Diamondbacks are having success and people care about them. I don’t want to make it sound like it is a bandwagon town, because it’s not. Between the weather and so many entertainment options, you really have to be special to stand out and get people’s attention.

You don’t have those multi-generational fanbases. I call us the home of everyone’s second favorite team. What you get is a Chicago Bears fan, an Atlanta Braves fan, and a New York Knicks fan. They’ve all moved here. They’ve all retained their loyalties to their favorite teams, but their second favorite team in that sport is the local team.

What are they going to go to work and talk about or what are they going to talk about at their kid’s soccer game on the weekend? They want to follow the local team so they can engage the people around them.

I think Phoenix is on the verge in the next five to ten years to becoming a more passionate sports market. The Cardinals came here in 1986, but just moved into their own stadium 12 years ago. That fanbase and its identity is just starting to emerge. The Suns do have multi-generational fans. The Diamondbacks, people here love baseball. I mean, jeez, there’s another distraction, Demetri. We have Spring Training here. Half of baseball is here.

There’s just so much going on in the market. But on FM, the brand speaks for itself. We don’t need some catchy positioning statement. We’re Arizona Sports.

Right now our listeners aren’t wrapped up in Tournament talk. They care about the Arizona Cardinals having the number one pick. They’re talking about the Kyler Murray vs. Josh Rosen discussion. They want to talk about the chances the Cardinals trade out or if they go with someone else entirely.

The listeners care a heck of a lot about the Suns and if they blow up the coaching staff again. They care about how the Diamondbacks are going to replace Paul Goldschmidt’s production.

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There’s a bubbling of energy around the Coyotes. If they make the playoffs we will look like one of the greatest hockey towns in the world. It is a team that has been on the verge of moving how many times?

We know our mission. We are Arizona Sports, and our mission is to super serve the local sports fan with entertaining and interesting conversations about the biggest local stories of the day.

DR: I grew up a Buccaneers fan, so I have experienced this myself. Is the fanbase more fired up now for the first pick in the draft or were you getting more interest from the Cardinals’ Super Bowl run?

RH: It’s the number one pick by far. Here’s why: there’s so much speculation and everyday that story changes. It’s not even close.

The lead up to the Super Bowl, there was so much passion and so much excitement, but that story is really week-to-week for about a month.

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When we knew the Cardinals had the top pick, and then the combine officially kicked things off, we had the cleanest lane to control the market place. It cannot get enough of this conversation. It’s not just everyday the story changes. It’s every hour. There’s always a new rumor.

Anecdotally we’re hearing it. We’re seeing it through our digital properties. We felt it a little bit last year with the Suns, because they had the number one pick. There was some discussion about DeAndre Ayton versus Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley, but we’re talking about a franchise quarterback here.

We’re also talking about a guy they traded up for last year in Josh Rosen. The stories and the drama that come along with having the number one pick run multiple months before the draft. Then you have the halo afterwards. How does this person fit into the team? What other trades can they make? I have been here for most of the last 13 years. I have never seen an energy around the Cardinals like we’re seeing now with the number one pick.

I’ll put a cap on it like this. I was golfing in North Carolina last week. I was at the bar enjoying a beverage after the round and the NFL Network is on, and what is their lead story? The Cardinals and Kyler Murray and Josh Rosen. The table next to us? They were talking about the Cardinals. How often is it that Phoenix teams are part of the most discussed story in the country?

This story impacts the Cardinals, but every Giants fan wants to know what is going to happen. Same with Redskins fans. They need a quarterback. This story effects every team in the league and we are going to do everything we can to maximize that opportunity.

DR: Keep in mind I am coming at this one as a college football fanatic. I am not sure Kliff Kingsburry proved anything as a head coach at the college level. So is any of the excitement felt by having the first pick and a new era for the Cardinals on the horizon dampened by him being the head coach, or is Phoenix buying into the “he knows Sean McVay, so he’ll be great” narrative?

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RH: The excitement comes because of the incredible intrigue. It probably goes one of two ways; either he becomes the next great, young quarterback whisperer who can develop either Rosen or potentially Murray into a great player and build a high powered offensive attack, or he’s not the right guy and it was a stretch hire that didn’t pan out.

No matter what happens it’s going to be an amazing ride with super compelling storylines. We’ll know in a few years and obviously are hoping it’s the former and not the latter.

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Mike Silver Has An NFL Backstage Pass

“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships.”

Derek Futterman

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It was the 2010 NFL Draft and standout wide receiver Dez Bryant was eligible to be selected by a professional football team. As a journalist, Mike Silver has always looked to enterprise stories and wanted to be with Bryant when the moment he had been waiting for finally arrived.

Through a preexisting relationship with Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, he got in touch with Bryant and received permission to attend his draft celebration. Before being selected in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant revealed to him that then-Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland had asked him during the pre-draft process if his mother was a prostitute.

Once that information was published in Silver’s column, Ireland had to publicly apologize and was subsequently put under investigation by the team’s majority owner Stephen Ross.

“People were like, ‘How did you get that?,’ but I was very proud because really the way I got it was because Deion Sanders respected me enough based on things that had happened decades earlier and the way that I conducted myself that I was able to ultimately get to Dez,” Silver expressed. “That to me is a validation. I’ve nurtured relationships for years and years that have led to zero reporting and thought, ‘It’s okay; it’s just part of the process. It is what it is.’”

From the start, Silver was a believer in journalism and the power the profession had in divulging stories in pursuit of the truth. Born in San Francisco, Calif. and raised in Los Angeles, he would read The Los Angeles Times sports section for a half hour per day, observing the proclivities and vernacular of other writers. As a high school student, he co-authored a sports column in the Palisades Charter High School Tideline with current Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, gaining practical experience in journalism and cultivating professional relationships.

“I was the only Warriors fan in our school because I was born in San Francisco so he used to clown me for being a Warriors and 49ers fan like everyone else in our school – so I ended up having the last laugh,” Silver said. “By old standards, you’d say, ‘You can’t cover Steve Kerr. That’s your friend.’ I think in 2022 if I have to cover Steve Kerr, I’ll just be like, ‘You know what? Everyone knows we’re friends. I’m just going to be up front about it.’”

Silver attended the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communication and media studies. The school was not known for profound levels of success within its football and basketball programs, according to Silver; however, the student newspaper was a place to gain repetitions in covering sports and having finished work published, printed and distributed.

Towards the end of his time in college, Silver wrote stories that were published in The Los Angeles Times, the newspaper he grew up reading and from which he drew inspiration to become a journalist.

“We would tell the players we covered, ‘Hey, we’re trying to go to the pros too, and we’re not going to get jobs in this industry if we don’t write the truth,’” Silver said. “We were trying to break in as legitimate journalists and we definitely ruffled some feathers along the way.”

Once he graduated from school, Silver began his professional career writing for The Sacramento Union where he covered the San Francisco 49ers. Silver grew up as a football fan and was familiar with the team but always tried to find original, untold angles to differentiate his stories from others. Shortly thereafter, he transitioned to join The Santa Clara Press Democrat as a beat writer and used the time to further develop his writing and reporting skills. Five years later, he was in talks to land his dream job as a writer in Sports Illustrated, a prolific sports magazine focused on producing original content.

Sports Illustrated was released on Wednesdays and operated under the belief of trying to omit any stories that may have been reported in the days prior. The goal was to tell stories that were under the radar and would be impactful and memorable for its readers.

During a typical week, Silver would visit both the home and road teams in their own cities with the hopes of connecting with players and team personnel. After a game, he would go to the locker room, yet he would try to avoid doing one-on-one interviews since the content would likely be published elsewhere before the magazine was released.

Then, his writing process commenced and often went through the night, as Sports Illustrated had a 9 a.m. EST deadline the following morning. By taking the approach of enterprising stories, Silver quickly became one of the most venerated and trusted sportswriters in the country, composing over 70 cover stories for the publication.

With the advent of the internet though, journalism and communication was forever changed allowing for the free flow of information and ideas in a timely manner.

“Now I can arrogantly write to whatever length I want and every precious word of mine could be broadcast to the masses, but [back then] you better have it the exact length because it’s going on a page,” Silver said. “You’re maybe reading over a story 15 times or more to get it just right before the seven layers of editing kick in. You’re also leaving theoretically half of your great stuff on the cutting room table never to surface again or seldom.”

Nurturing a relationship built on trust and professionalism is hardly facile in nature, and it required enduring persistence and resolute determination to achieve for Silver. Through these relationships, he has been able to create both distinctive and original types of content. As innovations in technology engendered shifts in consumption patterns though, he decided to do what he originally perceived as being unthinkable and left Sports Illustrated after nearly 13 years.

“When I went there, I felt like we had 30 of the 35 best sportswriters in America and it was murderer’s row,” Silver said of Sports Illustrated. “I had a great, great experience there the whole time so I never thought I’d leave.”

After meeting with Yahoo Sports Executive Editor Dave Morgan and being given an offer with flexibility in the job and a promise of a lucrative salary, Silver knew it was simply too good to pass up. He opted to still write a column on Sundays to counterprogram Peter King at Sports Illustrated, who authored his own weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column.

Additionally, Silver agreed to write two additional branded columns per week in a quest to adapt to the digital age of media.

“I was trying to stay current and connect to an internet generation and keep up with the way that people were consuming their content at that time,” Silver said. “….We just had a spirit at Yahoo that we weren’t owned by anyone, we didn’t have a deal with the league and we were going to report the news in a very unfiltered way.”

An advent of the digital age in media has been the practice of writers appearing on television to present their information en masse, requiring changes in their delivery. Unlike in a written piece, reporting on television requires efficiently making key points and speaking in shorter phrases to allow the viewer to easily follow the discussion. Moreover, writers are sometimes presented with questions that may provoke deeper thought or analysis, and occasionally challenge their lines of reporting.

Silver never thought he would work in television, but as a part of his contract with NFL Media, he was writing columns and serving as an analyst on select NFL Network programming. In working on television on a league-owned entity, it forced him to step out of his comfort zone and pursue mastery of a new skill set.

“I never wanted to do TV voice and be cheesy and look like someone who was trained for the medium so my strategy was more to try to be myself on camera and see how that translated,” Silver articulated. “It seemed to work to some degree – and then obviously I picked up a lot of tricks of the trade and techniques and got better reps. Essentially, I think reporting is reporting [and] information is information.”

Moving into television, a medium with sports coverage that is, at its core, nonlinear due to the potential for breaking news and unexpected occurrences, changed the manner in which the information was presented and/or prioritized on the air. In a column, Silver’s goal was to find original angles and obtain anecdotes and quotes to implement into the storytelling. Now on television, sources were still used largely on the condition of deep background, meaning no individual or group could be attributed to the information in any way.

“With TV, there was an element of, ‘Hey man, I’m just trying to sound smart when I talk about you guys,’ which is code for, ‘I don’t have to use your name when I say this stuff, but when I’m weighing on why you just traded for Trent Richardson, help me understand what’s really going on with the Indianapolis Colts at this moment,’” Silver explained. “That’s just a random example. I liked [television] more than I thought I would.”

Silver’s contract was not renewed at NFL Network in 2021, providing a stark change in his lifestyle and leaving him looking for a job in the midst of trying economic times. Through a relationship he had with sports radio host Colin Cowherd, he was given the opportunity to join his upstart podcast platform The Volume as a host. Cowherd eagerly recruited Silver to the platform following a lunch in which the topic came up naturally in conversation about future endeavors.

“When you go through a career transition like that, let alone during a pandemic, you find out a referendum on all your relationships and I have a lot of them from players, coaches, owners and GMs to media people and friends in other industries, etc.,” he explained. “Colin Cowherd is someone I’ll never, ever, ever forget or stop being grateful to…. We were kind of talking some stuff out and he was like, ‘Why don’t we do a show on my network?,’ and we started talking about what that would be. We left lunch… and about 10 minutes later he called me and said, ‘Okay, here’s what I think,’ and kind of continued it.”

Today, Silver is hosting an interview-based program called Open Mike featuring guests from the world of professional football. Recent guests on the program have included Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones. Prior to joining The Volume, Silver had hosted a podcast with his daughter called Pass It Down, which ultimately ran for over 50 episodes and gave him experience working within the medium.

“I’m sitting there spending an hour with [Las Vegas] Raiders GM Dave Ziegler or [Buffalo Bills] linebacker Von Miller or whoever we have on,” Silver said. “You’re not only getting to know that person; you’re watching the way I connect with that person and usually have a body of work with that person, and there’s a comfort level there too.”

John Marvel was Silver’s direct boss at NFL Media and a friend he kept in touch with for many years. Through various correspondences and the dynamic media landscape, they decided to start their own media venture called Backstage Media. The company has a first-look deal with Meadowlark Media – a company co-founded by John Skipper, who also serves as its chief executive officer. Skipper was formerly the president of ESPN and someone Silver wished he had worked for earlier in his career.

“I did not know John Skipper before I left NFL Network,” he said. “I didn’t particularly have a dream to [ever] work at ESPN. We’ve had conversations over the years – ESPN and I – and it never seemed like the perfect fit for me. Now that I know John Skipper, it’s like ‘I would have worked for that guy any time.’ He’s fantastic, [and] I’m just so pumped to be in business with him.”

The company, which focuses on producing documentaries and other unscripted programming through the intersection of sports, music and entertainment, has various projects in development. The idea was derived out of both of their penchants for storytelling and an attempt to utilize new platforms built for engagement within the modern-day media marketplace.

“We’re hoping that documentaries, docuseries [and] episodic podcasts – mostly unscripted – …will be kind of our wheelhouse,” Silver said. “….There’s about four big things that are [hopefully] close to being announced. One’s football; one’s boxing; one is basketball; and one is kind of a blend of some things. I feel like we have a pretty diverse set of interests.”

Joining The San Francisco Chronicle as a football reporter has been indicative of a full-circle moment for Silver, as he is once again around the San Francisco 49ers and writing columns about the team and other sports around the Bay Area at large. Today, he is working with Scott Ostler and Ann Kllion, and directly with Eric Branch on the outlet’s 49ers coverage. Through it all, he seeks to continue gaining access to places that the ordinary person would only be able to dream about in order to tell compelling and informative stories, no matter how they may be delivered or on what platform(s) to which it may be distributed.

“I’m old school in a lot of my mentality in terms of journalism and storytelling and all of that,” Silver said. “I think those things don’t go away. I think it’s journalism first; relationship first; access first; storytelling first; and you figure out the rest.”

As for the future of the profession which has ostensibly become less defined because of the evolution of social media and communication, relationships and storytelling have truly become the differentiators. Silver aims to continue practicing what has allowed him to gain exclusive scoops in the industry and tell stories that would otherwise, perhaps, fly under the radar, but do so in a way that does not jeopardize his sources.

“I’m going to try to develop relationships and cultivate relationships where people trust me and give me a sense of what’s going on,” he said. “I’m going to try to get into places that you, as the consumer, couldn’t otherwise go and take you there, and I’m going to err on the side of the relationship as opposed to finding out one thing that could cause a splash that day on Twitter.”

Some athletes are hosting podcasts or writing columns to directly communicate with their fans, including Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green on The Volume, intensifying the quest for engagement and attraction. Yet Silver advises journalists looking to break into the industry not to get distracted in meeting certain metrics, instead adhering to best practices and reporting truthful information without ambiguity.

“Just don’t get undone by the noise,” Silver said. “Put your head down; hyperfocus; grind; tell good stories; do journalism and hopefully over the course of time, that will stand out. I’d still like to believe that.”

Covering professional sports, specifically football, generates a large amount of potential storylines on which journalists can report – and today, digital platforms give them the ability to cover them in different ways. While some scoops may requit a large article, others may be able to be told in 280 characters or less, such as a trade rumor or injury. The amount of information Silver and his colleagues uncovered working for a print publication and then had to omit because of space limitations underscores a key journalistic principle of efficient and truthful storytelling. In today’s media landscape, he hopes to be able to do that regardless of its means of dissemination.

“If you went back and just looked at our normal… feature or story off a game [and] the level we reported on a Wednesday and translated that to a Twitter generation, people would lose their minds about how much we found out and how much we reported with on-the-record quotes usually, and they’d be like, ‘He said what!?,” Silver said. “That’s all we knew and that’s [how] we did it…. I don’t think people understand how much the threshold has changed. It’s all good. The most important things hopefully haven’t changed.”

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BSM Writers

Video Simulcasts Are Now A Must Have For Sports Radio

All of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way. 

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Video simulcasts of sports talk radio and podcasts have gone up extraordinarily in quality as of late. The craft started as a novelty that very few participated in. ESPN and YES Network dominated the genre with their simulcasts of Mike and Mike in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog respectively. Slowly but surely other sports networks and RSN’s picked up the genre over time and it has now become a major component within sports coverage in the streaming world.

The most popular and prominent shows in the medium right now include The Dan Patrick Show, The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, The Pat McAfee Show, and The Rich Eisen Show. These four shows in particular have done an excellent job of independently producing and building out their video content to look visually appealing while also engage with the audience through graphics, pictures, stats on screen. In McAfee’s case, his company even entered into a rights agreement with the NFL for highlights.

Finding their shows can be difficult at times. Eisen’s show has moved from television to Peacock and to Roku Channel all within the span of a couple years. When LeBatard’s shipping container first began their live video voyage they didn’t have a consistent schedule. Patrick’s show has also leapt between RSNs, national networks, YouTube and its current home on Peacock. But all of these shows have done an amazing job of constantly communicating with their audiences to make sure they’re aware of changes coming their way. 

The video simulcasts have become so lucrative for these shows that they’ve found sponsors to advertise against what they’re offering and they ensure that they pay attention to the look of the show. Commercials that feel like television play during Patrick and Eisen’s shows. Logos are displayed during LeBatard’s broadcast and NFL Films vignettes that you would find on NFL Network air in the middle of McAfee’s broadcast.

McAfee’s show recently moved into a new studio in Indianapolis specifically built for them by FanDuel and just yesterday LeBatard announced they would be moving into their own state of the art studio in Miami that will help expand their creativity. Patrick’s show doesn’t even have guests call into their show anymore – most join via Zoom. Eisen’s guests are more often than not in studio. All of these shows also upload highlights relatively quickly to YouTube. They’re still audio-first but video is no longer secondary. It is 1A in terms of importance.

As much as these simulcasts feel close to real TV, there are still some hijinks that fans have to get used to that aren’t the same as a regular TV broadcast. During LeBatard’s broadcast, a rolling loop of their own self produced album plays during breaks. While the songs are hilarious in nature, if you’re a weekly viewer of their simulcast it might get tiresome to hear every time there is a break.

A loop of some of the show’s greatest moments and some of the side projects Meadowlark Media produces might be more engaging and help reduce drop off rate. McAfee’s show also struggles with white balancing their cameras almost every telecast. At times in the middle of a conversation during the show, discoloration occurs before changing back to normal skin tones.

Patrick’s show has used the same set of graphics since it began simulcasting on NBC’s linear sports network years ago which could be a turnoff for younger viewers of the internet era who always want change in order to grab their attention. Eisen’s show has awkward interruptions happen in the middle of conversations because commercial breaks are different in length on terrestrial radio vs. streaming.

At the end of the day though, these shows are the epitome of what it means to have grit and guts to achieve your American dream. Although their productions are subsidized and/or licensed by big media platforms and sports books, their social media presence and the actual production of these shows was built on their own. During the first couple of weeks after LeBatard’s show left ESPN, the former columnist could often be heard teasing listeners that they were working on building a video enterprise and how difficult it was.

It’s hard to stand on your own in sports talk media without the backing of superpowers like ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and Turner who have been producing live broadcasts for decades. But these shows have found a way to do so in a new world that is tailored towards doing everything on your own. 

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BSM Writers

5 Ideas For December Sales Success

How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea?

Jeff Caves

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Now is the time to put your foot on the gas for a great start to 2023-not waiting til January. With Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day all falling on weekends, you can’t count on who will be at work the Friday or Monday around those holidays in December.

So, looking forward from here, you only have 15 or so days that you can count on your clients and prospects to be at work before the end of 2022. And, if they are at work, consider their motivation or lack of it before approaching them. But here are five ways to attack December.

Cutting a year-end deal

Make sure you go back from the potential start date of the schedule and allow for production, proposal, and acceptance. That usually means you need a week from when you present a year-end idea to when the schedule starts. So, aim to have all appointments booked by 12/9, so you can sell 2-week packages that begin Monday, 12/19. That will give you a sense of urgency and gives you five solid business days to sell your ass off starting Monday.

5-day sale

Make all your pricing and payment terms expire by Friday, 12/9. You can always extend if need be once they give a partial commitment. You want anybody involved in the decision to sign off and let you cut this deal! The idea here is to create urgency and work ahead.

Beat the bushes

Do you want to wake up on 1/2/23 with an empty pipeline? How much better will you enjoy Christmas and New Year knowing you have some presentations to make to prospects who want to roll into 2023 with a new idea? Don’t try to qualify these prospects over the phone. Do it in January when both of you are fresh but get that commitment NOW. Look for your new client avatar.

Be gracious

From now til the end of the year is also an excellent time to meet with your sales assistant, traffic manager, production person, or anybody who helps you at the station. Sit down with them face to face and see what you can do better to make their job easier. Give them some ideas on how they can help you as well. Mend some fences or make new friends; the reason tis the season. Surprise them with a Cheetos popcorn tin for less than $10. Please do it. You will be surprised by what you hear because this is a popular time of year for layoffs, transfers, and people taking new jobs.

Practice a new pitch

December is also a great time to record yourself doing a webinar and start planning to let your content do the talking. Wouldn’t it be nice if your 10-minute talk on how to make live reads work, how to buy radio, or why your audience buys the most widgets produced some warm leads? Practice and get going!

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Barrett Media Writers

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