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Joe Ovies Drinks Beer And Talks About It

“When I see Baker Mayfield eating a beer at a game or Aaron Rodgers unable to crush a beer at a basketball game, I immediately identify those types of stories and I turn them into topics we can talk about on the air”

Tyler McComas

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You’ve probably noticed by now, but your favorite NFL quarterback chugged a beer on camera this offseason. Whether it was Aaron Rogers failing miserably at a Bucks game, Matt Stafford chugging from inside a restaurant or Baker Mayfield biting into a beer at an Indians game, it seems like every starter in the league showcased their beer drinking skills at one point or another this summer. 

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What’s been beneficial for each guy that’s chugged a beer, or in Rodgers’ case, attempted to chug a beer, is the relatability that’s come along with it. In most cases, an enjoyment of beer at a sporting event is only way the regular fan can relate to a franchise quarterback. Athletes that attempt to humanize themselves often benefit greatly from it.

But the same can be true with sports talk radio hosts. Whereas some people may view a host as a faceless name that only spouts off sports opinions, being more relatable to the listener will almost always make you more likeable to the audience. Not to break any news, but beer and sports go together. They always have. Any host who ignores that fact is likely doing themselves a disservice. 

Joe Ovies of 99.9 the Fan in Raleigh has taken the initiative to bring beer talk to a sports talk format. Along with Adam Eshbaugh, the 919 Beer podcast has weekly episodes that focus solely on locally brewed beer in the area. The podcast features interviews with brewers, reviews and news on local beers as well as anything else a beer drinker in The Triangle would want to know. Since anything, especially if it can be sold, can be used by a station in the podcast space, it’s a mystery as to why more haven’t duplicated Ovies idea to bring sports fan more content to something they enjoy – beer.  

TM: So how did this all get started with the 919 Beer podcast?

JO: We’ve been doing this now coming up on six years. That gave way to our radio station partnering up with the guys who are on the beer podcast with me, into their annual beer festival, which takes place in October. If I understand the arrangement correctly, we essentially handle all of the sales and they run the festival itself. We’ve taken over all the title sponsorships, selling and all that stuff. Recently, with NC State having their deal with New Belgium and introducing their own beer, that’s been a topic of conversation with our area, too.

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Where are you are does matter in the sense that North Carolina has a pretty robust craft beer community. I forget the exact numbers of craft breweries, I think it’s over 300 right now, but there are a lot of reasons why it makes a lot of sense for us in the grand scheme of things.

TM: How is the station handing the content you’re putting out each week? Is it simply in podcast form or does it get played over the air, too?

JO: We’re at the radio station and we record the beer podcast there, it’s all cleared by the station.  We take anywhere between 50-55 minutes that we do on the podcast and broadcast it. So it typically comes out on podcast form on Fridays and we also air it on one of our radio stations on Saturday mornings. 

TM: Is there any way doing a beer podcast makes you more relatable and likeable to your regular listener? 

JO: Yes, but the one thing that I can say is that it has to be organic. If you’re not a beer drinker don’t be a beer drinker. My co-host on the Fan in the afternoons, Adam is not exactly a robust beer drinker. We usually tease him about, like, it takes him a week to finish a beer, that sort of thing. When we talked about in the past like Aaron Rodgers is trying to chug a beer badly at a Bucks game, well that’s relatable to my co-host, in that, I can’t do that. It’s like the one thing Aaron Rodgers and I have in common, he may have a Super Bowl but he and I chug beer at the same rate.

Image result for aaron rodgers chug

One thing I will say about beer in general is that if you’re in a heavily college area like we are, with NC State, North Carolina and Duke, and we talk a whole lot about college football and college basketball, and throw in the tailgate culture that exists in the area with NC State and during the NHL Playoffs with the Carolina Hurricanes, the area matters and makes you more relatable in the sense that, much like sports is a common denominator for people, what you drink can also be a common denominator. Are you an IPA guy? OK, if you’re an IPA guy you might have that in common with some other people.

One thing I’ve been railing on, both on the podcast and occasionally on the air, is that sometimes people just want beer flavored beer. They don’t want some crazy desert beer or some double IPA. They just want something that’s crisp and refreshing and a drink they can have multiple of, whether they’re watching football or at a tailgate. Those topics, every so often, get spun into the on-air conversation during my show from 3-7 in the afternoon.

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When I see Baker Mayfield eating a beer at a game or Aaron Rodgers unable to crush a beer at a basketball game, I immediately identify those types of stories and I turn them into topics we can talk about on the air, because they become instantly relatable. Whether they’re instantly relatable to how you consume your alcohol now, or, what’s always fun, is kind of reminiscing back to when you were in college. Baker Mayfield is out here eating a beer and our producer Alec used to be that guy back in college. So we can spend that and ask him things like, hey Alec when’s the last time you bit in to a beer? It becomes a fun conversation that way.

TM: The relationship between beer and sports is pretty easy to see. But what’s the relationship between beer and sports talk? 

JO: The relationship between beer and sports and beer and sports talk, works on a couple of different levels. I don’t think I have to explain the relationship between beer and sports, so that one is easy to figure out. You see it advertised a bunch, it’s served at games, it’s all about tailgating, etc.

I don’t want to sound cliché but if you’re a dude, or even to a certain extent in our case, we have a lot of women that listen to the station as well, because of the market that we’re in. Women like hockey and college basketball. Women do like sports and women do like beer. That can also become a relatable thing as well. It’s a really easy thing to figure out, that it’s all around you, so you might as well incorporate it with how you talk about sports.

TM: I do see some stations around the country that are doing things such as Free Beer Friday and some other creative things that incorporate local beers into shows. But what’s the exact rule of being able to drink on the air, with the FCC? 

JO: My understanding is that you’re actually able to drink as long as you’re not operating the equipment. So if I were a board op or a producer I would not be able to drink. Where we do it in the studio I don’t control my microphone, or I don’t have to control my microphone, I should say. Therefore I can drink and we do so during the podcast. We’ve also had instances, and I can’t remember how long ago it was, but we did the show from a place called World of Beer. It’s a chain and we sold it as a remote.

We picked the entire NFL playoff rounds by sampling beers from the respective cities. Based on the beers we liked, that’s how we ended up picking the playoffs. I actually did a video piece on the web a couple of years ago for the College Football Playoff, where I did a blind taste test on four beers paired up and whichever ones I liked, were basically, oh, that’s the one from the South Carolina area, then Clemson is moving on, that sort of thing. These are things you can do that are within the rules.

TM: Have you had strong reactions with the show? What’s your interaction from listeners been like with the beer podcast? 

JO: There are three components to it. The first component is the one I want to get across the most, which is, here’s this new brewery, or, a brewery you might know, but they have some new stuff. You know, the classic case of, aww man, I haven’t had their beer long time because I’ve been chasing something new. It’s good to catch up with the brewery that you remember that you liked back in the day, and it’s like, oh cool, what are they up to these days? Then you go back and check them out. Then there’s the breweries that are new and you’ve never heard of, and there’s an element of, I want to be on top of it and introduce my friends to this new brewery. That’s the first component, it’s kind of like information, process, story and getting people familiarized with a certain brewery that we’re talking to that day. Sometimes we talk to the marketing person, sometimes we’re talking to the brewer themselves, or even the owner. There’s various ways you can talk to these breweries. 

The second component is to be about the community in general. So much like a sports talk host you want to be out and seen, you don’t want to be the guy that never leaves the studio. When I go travel throughout the state, to the beach or the mountains, I’ll check out a place and I talk about it to say, hey, I’m out there with y’all, too. You might see me at a particular brewery, and this happens to me, someone will come up and say, hey, I heard you talk about this place in the past. It’s funny to see you here, that sort of thing. To be out there front and center is good for you as a host, because that makes you more relatable and approachable to the audience.

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The third component to the beer podcast is just the fact that it’s good business. It is a thing in which you can sell remotes. During April there’s a thing called North Carolina beer month. For us specifically in April we sell a package that will take the podcast on location to your place. It gives you a lot of run, like,  hey, come out to this place and try this beer they’re introducing for North Carolina beer month, which helps raise awareness for your place and it helps sell. It’s a really easy thing for the sales department to grasp, because it’s, hey, beer. You can either sell a brewery, you can sell a bottle shop, you can sell a sports bar, and you can sell any number of things related to that podcast.

I will add this to the sales part of it and what’s tricky about that, and this is why you need to get sales department, it’s easy for a bottle shop or a local brewery to rely on social media and word-of-mouth. So what the podcast or your broadcast sales department have to do together is, hey look, it’s nice that you have this but we can blow it up bigger. Like you may actually be in a bubble and that bubble is good for you, for lack of a better term. You might have that beer bro demo down, right? The beer bros know who you are. But for the casual person, who might not be aware of your stuff, this is where we can bring them in and help spread your brand through radio and through the podcast. 

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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