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Making Great Rain Delay Theater

“When you do a game on radio and it rains, more than likely the “fill” will fall on you. The worst part about it, you have no idea when it will stop raining or how long you’ll have to fill.”

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Sometimes to broadcast baseball you need a degree in meteorology. Looking at the radar, reading forecasts and undoubtedly having someone pop into the booth and say “what do you think, we gonna get this one in?”. Producers from other shows will ask “when do you think the rain will stop?”.

Hmm, if I knew the answer to that, I would play the lottery.

Image result for baseball rain delay

They can’t expect you to be a weatherman. When it rains your listeners aren’t interested in the forecast, they want and need to be entertained. Thus, you go into “Rain Delay Theater” mode. 

When you do a game on radio and it rains, more than likely the “fill” will fall on you. The worst part about it, you have no idea when it will stop raining or how long you’ll have to fill. We’ve all been there and we all handle it in different ways. 

Unfortunately for those of us on radio, we can’t magically cue up the video of the 1977 MLB All-Star game. Nope. We have to figure out ways to keep our audience informed and entertained for the duration of the delay. So how do you go about preparing for such an event? 

You’ve heard me say this before, there is no one correct way to do this, but I’ll share a few of the things I do to get ready. 

My prep for rain begins weeks before the rain actually starts. Living and working in Chicago it’s not a matter of it will rain it’s a matter of when.

In the early part of the season, myself and our executive producer plan out interviews with people of interest around the ballpark. We make sure that the story they can tell is a good one first of all, but also one that is not time sensitive. Last season I recorded a 28-minute interview with our radio analyst. He played in the big leagues and we chronicled his evolution as a baseball player, the people that were influential in his life and things of that nature. We used chunks of that interview not only for rain delay but also in the pregame show when needed. Evergreen interviews and soundbites can definitely be your friend during times of precipitation. 

Among my other interview targets for long form conversations; opposing broadcasters, players and even the very popular public address announcer at the ballpark. I try to ask questions that they wouldn’t normally be asked.

Image result for baseball player dugout interview

I don’t want to ask a player about last night’s game, because obviously that won’t stand the test of time. I try to focus on a story, like their college experiences if they went to one, why they wear a certain number. For broadcasters, I focus on some of the great games they’ve done, people they’ve worked with and their paths to the booth. It gives all of these people a chance to tell their story without time constraints. 

In many cases at higher levels of the minor leagues and the Majors, someone will eventually get to the radio station to ease your burden. Then you become the eyes and ears of the listener by basically doing play-by-play of what’s going on at the park. From there the topics may go from baseball to other strange things.

For example, last week the White Sox and Royals played a game in a monsoon in Chicago. The first rain delay was nearly 3 hours. We had someone at the radio station, but they wanted me to be a part of things. The host asked me what the rule was regarding a possible suspension of the game. He wasn’t expecting me to have the rule book on my computer. I began to read the rule. From there, he started to quiz me on hypothetical situations in games. I came up with ruling after ruling.

This spurred a lot of activity on our station’s text lines. Listeners were challenging me as well. It was organic, fun and grabbed listener interest. A total accident turned into a fun way to kill time during a delay. I should point out that the first ten minutes were spent on our “network” so the rules quiz didn’t come until after we’d let the network stations go back to programming. 

That game produced another lengthy delay. The host still didn’t really have a show planned, since he didn’t know when the game would be over or called off.

He asked me to take him “inside the game” so to speak. Somehow, we got on the subject of food in the press box. I told him the team takes care of us here for home games. He made me read the menu on air.

Image result for food in the press box

The talk turned to the best press dining rooms on the road. I related a story of just visiting Houston and the price to eat was a bit high. I remember when the Astros charged only 6 bucks to eat there and now the price had doubled. The thing is, it would be worth the price if they still had the fried chicken option. I proceeded to tell him how delicious the chicken was at Minute Maid Park. I mean it was REALLY good. I was operating on little sleep and had seen far too many rain drops to hold in my feelings on it. The bit went on for a few minutes. Then the host was giving away tickets for something and the 7th caller who could tell him what food I missed from Houston got the giveaway. Another organic and entertaining moment that also spurred on some funny text messages. 

The moral here is, planning for rain is a pretty good idea no matter where you’re working. It’s pretty simple to do. The interviews not only provide you time to just relax during a rain delay, they also give you the opportunity to really get to know your subject and provide some interesting conversations for your listening audience to hear. 

Let preparation be your umbrella when it rains! 

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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