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The Value Of Valuing Those Around You

“One of the main reasons many listeners are there in the first place is to escape reality. It doesn’t make sense to disrupt that escape by pouring a bucket of ice water on them with an angry response.”

Brian Noe

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A scary scene took place at Minute Maid Park last Wednesday. Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. hit a sharp line drive down the left-field line against the Houston Astros. The foul ball struck a four-year-old girl who was taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary reasons. Almora actually cried during the game and was visibly shaken while talking to reporters afterward as he feared for the well-being of the young child.

Image result for albert almora little girl

At first I thought that Almora had a job to do and needed to pull it together in spite of the ugly situation. Although that’s true, it goes much deeper than that. I later thought about how much better off we’d be as a country if we all cared as deeply about people we don’t even know. Almora talked about wanting to have a relationship with the girl and her family. The compassion he showed is admirable. Cubs manager Joe Maddon described Almora by saying, “He’s a wonderful young man, emotional, sensitive. What’s wrong with that? He cares.”

I agree. What’s wrong with that?

It reminds me of another story that recently took place in Portland, Oregon. On May 17, former Oregon Ducks wide receiver Keanon Lowe disarmed a student at Parkrose High School. After Lowe wrestled a shotgun away from a 19-year-old, he shared some compassionate words with the young man.

“He broke down and I just wanted to let him know that I was there for him,” Lowe said. “I told him I was there to save him. I was there for a reason and that this is a life worth living.”

Image result for keanon lowe parkrose

I have a hunch that if the gunman felt he was valued that much beforehand, the incident at Parkrose probably never takes place. To me, two of the main causes of major crimes are that the wrongdoers don’t value others, or don’t feel valued themselves.

It is so important in life to show other people that they are valued and have worth. Although it might be easy to forget at times, this concept absolutely applies to the sports radio world as well.

Many listeners flock to sports radio, not only due to their love of sports, but because it’s an escape from reality. Life causes plenty of stress — getting stuck in traffic, raising kids, having to pay the bills on time, a boss that’s yelling at you. Sports radio can serve as a safe zone to help forget about those pressures for a little while. The last thing a listener needs is to get beaten over the head one more time by a host that’s lashing out at them. 

While thinking about this idea it dawned on me that one of my biggest strengths as a host is also one of my biggest weaknesses; I’m incredibly competitive. While that drive to compete fuels my work ethic and other beneficial qualities, it can also cause me to be overly aggressive while stressing a point to a caller or co-host. It’s as if we’re on a football field or the ancient Colosseum doing battle in those moments of debate.

We’re not. We’re just talking sports. It shouldn’t be that serious.

Winning a sports argument should never come at the expense of belittling someone else. One of the main reasons many listeners are there in the first place is to escape reality. It doesn’t make sense to disrupt that escape by pouring a bucket of ice water on them with an angry response. It’d be like going to Burger King for some food and being offered a muffler. That’s not why you went in the first place. We need to provide listeners with what they’re looking for — entertainment and thought-provoking opinions without contentious arguments. 

Image result for burger king drive thru

Look, sports radio will never be as cuddly as those old Snuggle TV commercials. If Jim on a cell calls in to say, “Hey, I just think that Kirk Cousins is the greatest quarterback in NFL history.” The response doesn’t need to be obnoxiously gentle. Just don’t yell at the caller while saying he’s the biggest bozo in the history of bozos.

Be mindful that one of your main goals as a host is to make people feel like they matter. Going full lambast mode on them in front of their friends and loved ones won’t accomplish this goal.

I’ll never forget a time when I was talking to a manager in his office. A sales guy and friend of mine, Alex, was dropping by to tell me something. Just then the manager literally shooed him away. I went up to Alex afterward to apologize on the manager’s behalf. It was completely unnecessary and made me feel bad for Alex because he wasn’t treated right. Listeners will view hosts the same way if they mistreat the people around them.

It’s easy to admire a person who treats others with respect. Take recently retired NBA star Dwyane Wade for instance. He made a surprise commencement speech to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Sunday. A school shooting last March claimed the lives of 14 students and three staff members. Wade visited the school when it reopened last year and circled back during the commencement ceremony on Sunday.

Wade talked about the challenges the students still face following the mass shooting. He mentioned Joaquin Oliver who was a victim and a huge D-Wade fan that was buried in a Wade jersey. He offered motivational words, but most importantly Wade showed that he cared. He showed compassion and made people feel like they are valued.

Image result for dwyane wade marjory stoneman douglas graduation

Gestures on a much smaller scale are still worth making. We can’t pump our own gas here in Portland. The state law requires a gas station attendant to do it. I get plenty of things wrong and start to turn green like the Hulk if somebody tailgates me in traffic. (Man, I hate tailgaters.) One small thing I’m proud of is that I always tip the attendants. They all look at me and genuinely feel good after receiving a small payment.

One time I was out of singles and handed an attendant a $10 bill. His exact words were, “Are you sure?” I laughed and said, “Yeah man, that’s all you.” The purpose is that I want those people to feel like they’re valued. I don’t want them to feel like they’re unneeded and taken for granted.

If Keanon Lowe can show compassion to a kid intending to do harm with a shotgun, it isn’t too much to ask hosts to remain calm with listeners who bash them on Twitter. If Albert Almora Jr. and Dwyane Wade can show sympathy to people they don’t even know, it should serve as a great example that we all should strive to do the same.

Showing patience and compassion to people that are disrespectful isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. Why? It’s the right thing to do, and like the title of a song by the great guitarist Steve Vai — “The Audience Is Listening.”

Image result for steve vai the audience is listening

The last place listeners want to experience drama is the place that’s supposed to serve as an escape from it. Make your listeners and co-workers feel like they matter by treating them respectfully. There is always great value in valuing others.

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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