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4 Tips To Make You A Better Team Broadcaster

“It is a fun job, but it is a job and you have some responsibilities to consider. The biggest, of course, is presenting a great broadcast every night”

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You got that first baseball job! Congratulations, you’re working for a team doing play-by-play for every game, home and road. You’ll be traveling with the team on their bus or plane as well. Sounds like all fun and games right?

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It is a fun job, but it is a job and you have some responsibilities to consider. The biggest, of course, is presenting a great broadcast every night. Your other huge task is to establish a relationship and trust with the players, coaches and front office members of the team you’re working for. 

I don’t believe that there is one exact way to go about this, but a few things have worked for me over the years. 

1. Talk to people as a human being, not a media member

There is nothing more frustrating for an athlete or coach than a media member talking to them only when needing an interview. Some players have told me over the years that nobody ever just tries to talk to them as human beings, not as a baseball player. 

To me, one of the worst things you can do, is always approach a player with the microphone extended and recorder ready to go. He’s going to see you as using him for just your benefit. Well he’s right in one respect, you need him to do your job, but you don’t always have to make it a job for him to talk to you for your pregame show. 

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Listen, you should always be talking to the players and you should always be visible to them. It never hurts to just ask a question about a situation in a game without your recorder going. Approach them during good times and bad times for them on the field. Don’t get a reputation of being a “front runner”. 

I had a player I covered while with the Cubs who had a difficult season. I always walked up to him to say hello and would ask him questions so that I could learn about what he was going through. So, after he had a big game, I asked to interview him for the pregame show. He agreed to do it. One of his teammates who had a locker next to this player said, “oh yeah now you want to talk to him,” and shook his head, basically accusing me of being that front runner. The player quickly came to my defense and said, “it’s all good, he talks to me every day no matter what.” Man did I appreciate that. It gave me some good credibility in the clubhouse as well. 

You have access to these players, use that time to learn about them and the game. Players and coaches can be valuable resources for your own knowledge and to make your broadcast sound better. 

2. Do not betray trusts

You are going to find yourself in a unique position. Once you’ve built up the relationships and trust you have to be very careful not to betray the person who gave you the information. If you do, they’ll likely never trust you again. 

In San Diego a front office member would come into the radio booth a day before the trade deadline and tell us all the moves the team was looking to make. He did this so we’d have time to research some of the players and learn about any minor leaguers that may be dealt. We so appreciated the heads up on things because then we sounded knowledgeable once the moves were made. In effect, we could script our ad libs for the next day. 

If we would have blabbed about that information before we got the go-ahead, can you imagine what the repercussions would have been? Since my broadcast partner and I worked for the team, we would have had some trouble on our hands. 

Now my partner had been with the organization for a long time, but I was relatively new.  I made sure I developed the relationship with this front office person early in my tenure, during Spring Training as a matter of fact. 

If there is trust, the information given to you early can make you look/sound like a genius on radio or TV. 

On occasion you’ll have someone that no matter what you do, doesn’t trust you and won’t tell you anything. I had such an experience with a college basketball coach. I was hired to do some TV games and replaced someone that he liked and had known for many years.

Several times I tried to just have a conversation with him to get to know the person. He was uninterested. I finally gave up. There had to be another way to get information and there was. I had developed a good relationship with an assistant coach on his staff. That person knew of me from some previous work and at least gave me a chance. 

You can’t take this personally. You have to remain focused on the job at hand and try to work around your obstacles. 

3. Get out ahead of any issues

I had one such event happen while I was working in San Diego. While in the midst of the broadcast, I had a slip of the tongue and something I said, didn’t come out right. After thinking about it, I concluded that what I said could have been taken badly by the player or his family.

I felt horrible about it. This was a player I’d already established a great relationship with. In this day and age of social media word travels fast. Whether the information conveyed to the player is actually what I said is another story. 

With that in mind, as soon as the game ended, I headed to the clubhouse. I waited out the media that had been gathered around the player for postgame interviews, then I approached. Being straight up with him was my approach. Telling him what I said and what I meant to say was extremely important to me.

He listened and was smiling in appreciation of me being there to talk to him face-to-face. The player knew me and knew that I would never have intentionally gone down that road. He shared with me that his wife had already heard from a few family members via text and of course the information the family shared was not even close to what I inadvertently said.  

Long story short, I’m very glad I went straight to him and avoided any future issues and put out whatever fire was burning. 

4. Be professional 

Bottom line here, be a professional. Use your common sense and trust in your ability to make the right decisions. Oh yeah, have fun too. 

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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