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Spence Checketts Learned His Pain Tolerance

“There are still people that will bring it up and I think that will always be a part of my life. Again that’s part of the consequence of making a decision that could be damaging to other people.”

Brian Noe

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To err is human. Not all errors are the same though. Many fall short of threatening to derail a successful career. Spence Checketts made a mistake two years ago that nearly took away the job he loves. However the afternoon drive host on ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City has rebounded strongly from the bad situation.

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He has chosen not to hide from it. Checketts has also done an impressive job of shifting his perspective; he is much more appreciative of the opportunities he enjoys.

Spence’s career path is unique as well. The business isn’t crawling with hosts that were once NBA scouts for three years. One of the most thought-provoking comments below is Spence highlighting a trait in sports talk hosts that is important to succeed. Ironically people in the business rarely mention the same trait as necessary. Spence is an interesting guy with smart views and a redemption story. That’s a recipe for a compelling read. Enjoy.

Brian Noe: Tell me about your career path, Spence. Where did it start for you and how did things unfold to where you are now?

Spence Checketts: I fell into this thing. Growing up my father [Dave Checketts] was an executive in the NBA first with the Jazz and then later he was the CEO at Madison Square Garden for about 12 years. He was the president and GM of the Knicks. Seeing the way the New York media treated my father soured me to the media in general. I was actually raised to believe that the media was the enemy a little bit. I never thought for a second that this would be my career path.

I was working in marketing and advertising for a cluster of radio stations here in Salt Lake City. One of the stations that we sold for — and we did all the branding and marketing for — was the station that had the Jazz as one of their properties. I got pretty friendly with some of the producers and on-air hosts. One of the guys there one day just asked me have you ever thought about a career in radio? I said no, absolutely not. He actually said you have a radio voice and you grew up playing the game and you grew up in the league. I had some relationships from my time — actually I was a scout in the NBA for three years.

I came out here and my plan was to play for Rick Majerus at the U. It’s kind of a left-hand turn, but this will tell you what eventually landed me in radio. Back in the day before you could get online and see who the big time high school players were and who the recruits were — I had no idea before I came out here. Rick’s whole thing with me was come walk on and you can become a scholarship player maybe your sophomore or junior year, but come walk on as a freshman. I came out here and the other freshman point guard was Andre Miller.

BN: Oh gosh.

SC: Yeah, so I joke all the time that Andre Miller made me retire from basketball because that’s when I knew I wasn’t — I thought I was really good up until I played against NBA guys. I had a chance to go to five-star basketball camp for a couple of summers. I remember the first time I played against an NBA guy. Do you remember God Shammgod Wells?

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BN: I do, barely. I remember the name though.

SC: He played for Providence College and in the league. I was matched up with him at basketball camp and I couldn’t get the ball past half court. He picked my pocket three straight times and that was it. I came home from camp all depressed and my dad was like what’s up with you? I said I’m not going to play in the NBA. I realized this as a 16-year-old. Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace were at that camp. I thought I was good enough to play college ball so I came out here to play for Rick and then went up against Andre.

Within a month, I was in Majerus’ office and I said hey you got to shoot me straight. I can’t play with this guy. He’s bigger, stronger; he’s better than I am.

To Rick’s credit he was very honest with me. He said look you can really shoot it and you can really pass it, but Andre Miller is my starting point guard. I left the team and didn’t end up playing for Rick for longer than a couple of months. That’s how I got into scouting. Then I started scouting for the Knicks, which I did for about three years on a regional level, but I wasn’t getting paid.

I had to find a job and I decided to get into the advertising and marketing side on radio and TV — and back to the original point — became pretty friendly with the producers. Then one of them just asked me, hey you should give it a try. Just come on my weekend Saturday show. That’s how I got into it. Within a month it just felt natural. It felt like trying on a pair of pants that fit really well the first time I cracked a microphone. I knew that maybe I had found something. Within a month I went from doing their Saturday shows to doing afternoon drive and the Jazz pre, half, and post. That’s how it all started just kind of randomly. I didn’t take any journalism classes in college. I didn’t have a radio background. I just kind of fell into it like that.

BN: Because of your scouting background — if you were running a station and had to scout radio hosts instead, what are the qualities you would look for that you believe would make a great host?

SC: That’s an interesting question. First of all I’m a big fan of presence — not necessarily voice, but presence. I grew up on Mike and the Mad Dog. I loved Dog and I still love him to this day. He does not have a classic radio voice, but he has great presence. Just the way you command your airwaves with your presence even if you don’t have the classic, deep, play-by-play voice or radio broadcaster voice. That to me is number one. There are so many guys out there who even if the content isn’t great they can fool you into thinking it is because of the way they command their space.

I think all of us have a certain level of knowledge, but as far as your cadence and how you deliver that knowledge to the listener is a big piece of it. Being in this business now — this will be my 16th year coming up — if I travel and find the local sports talk radio station and I fire it up to see what’s going on, I can tell within two minutes if they’re doing the work. If they’re preparing, if they show up and crack the mic and they’re ready to be on air.

I take the work very, very seriously. If I’m not prepared one day I just get tremendous anxiety. It’s almost a selfish thing for me to be a little bit more settled in to do the work. I would say presence, work ethic, knowledge, and then simply entertainment. It’s fun after all. You just want a guy with a fun personality as opposed to somebody who takes themselves way too seriously.

BN: Sometimes showing the audience that you aren’t perfect is a huge thing that helps you connect with listeners. The DUI you got — how have you approached that situation on air and has it helped you connect with your audience?

SC: The biggest thing is just not running from it — being authentic about it and being honest and upfront with it. I know there have been guys in my shoes — whether it’s a DUI or something else — that have done everything they could to bury it as far as they can and then just hope every day that nobody ever finds out about it. That’s not the reality of how our business works now. We have the internet. People are going to be able to find out. Maybe 20 years ago you could try to bury it, but that’s not how it works. I think trying to hide from it is entirely disingenuous. Just acknowledge it, be upfront about it, and be honest about it.

Utah sports radio host Spence Checketts resigns from The Zone after DUI arrest

It was a really tough situation. There are people that will always brand me as the guy who got the DUI. I will never be able to change their mind as far as who I am. That’s my reality. That’s what I have to live with and that’s what happens when you make mistakes. It’s like my mom used to say, consequences are a bitch. But they’re part of it, that was part of the drill.

My whole thing throughout the course of coming back to being an on-air personality, right away in the first meeting I had with my GM, who has become a great friend and a real mentor, we talked about it and he actually said “Well, how do you want to handle this? Should we not even acknowledge it?”

I said no no no, I’m going to address it in my very first segment back on air. I’m going to talk about it. I’m going to be honest and authentic about it and I’m going to be real about it.

The cool thing about it is, I did a piece with the local paper here where we talked all about it. I can’t even tell you how many people have responded and have said ‘Hey just so you know, last weekend I was out and I had some drinks. I had my car with me. Instead of getting behind the wheel, I Ubered home and got my car the next day because I read your story.” That’s been the coolest thing about all of this. Whenever I hear from somebody who elected not to drive drunk or got caught at some point and can relate to the story and is thankful for the fact that I did stick it out and I did decide to come back.

For a minute, dude, I didn’t know that this was going to be my life anymore. I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue to do this because of how many bullets I took publicly as a result of a real unfortunate situation. I think whether it’s me or anybody else when it comes to a slip-up or something that’s happened in life, it shows the audience that you’re human. It hopefully inspires them to be a little bit better if you show that you can bounce back from your mistakes.

I’m a firm believer that things don’t happen to you, they happen for you. That’s how I’ve chosen to approach it. It’s been coming up — it’ll be two years since everything went down. There’s been a good amount of space that has taken place. There are still people that will bring it up and I think that will always be a part of my life. Again that’s part of the consequence of making a decision that could be damaging to other people.

BN: What all was involved in the timeline starting with the DUI and then coming back on the air?

SC: I was upfront with my employer. As soon as it happened I called him just to let him know, like hey here’s the situation. They suspended me initially. I went up to a inpatient rehabilitation facility for 45 days. While I was up there they deliberated and made the decision that it wasn’t in their best interest to bring me back. I can’t comment as to why. That’s a conversation you’d have to have with them.

I was really bummed out but I understood. I get it. No part of me was ever angry at them. It was a station that I really loved and I helped build. They’re all still friends of mine over there. I talked to them quite a bit. 

My whole thing was to own the entire pie and not be upset that I didn’t get my old show back, or my old job back, and understand this is part of the deal. I was left to wonder what was next. There was probably a five- or six-month period where I really thought that it may be over. I heard from a lot of people in the industry. I remember I had a conversation with Ryan Hatch. I don’t know if you know Ryan at all.

BN: Yeah.

SC: So Ryan was a guy here who I worked with a little bit. He was a personality here in the market. I really like Ryan. I really respect Ryan. I consider him a good friend. I spoke to Jason Barrett too. Jason’s been great throughout this entire thing and a real supporter of mine. Ryan’s a guy who saw some talent in me early on. I reached out to him and Ryan said to me, “Look, you have to acknowledge the possibility that this may be over for you.”

BN: Wow!

SC: He was the first person who said that to me. I went, “Oh holy smokes!” I started recalibrating a little bit like what am I going to do here? What’s next for me? Not to sound arrogant, but I feel like I’ve been if not thee guy here, one of the main two or three guys for 13, 14 years. So I just figured if I could put a little time in between the incident and continue to make sure I’m keeping my backyard clean that the phone would start ringing. Eventually it did, Brian, but for a while it didn’t. When that phone is not ringing you go “holy smokes!” It took a year and a half for me to get back on air.

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I thought about moving. I spoke to a station in Denver. I was in advanced talks with a station in Atlanta and really thought that was going to be my next destination before ESPN 700 here called, which ironically enough was my old station before I went and worked with the Jazz station [1280 The Zone] for seven years.

The opportunity presented itself. I wasn’t necessarily looking to move, but I was open to it. It was just a matter of learning about my pain tolerance and kind of waiting it out. Continuing just to make sure that I’m doing the things that I need to be doing so when that phone did ring I can answer the questions that I needed to answer in order to approach this next project with everything I possibly have. But it took a year and a half. It was hard. I’m not going to lie. It was really hard and I thought it could be over.

BN: Man, I know that was tough. Has the whole situation of your career possibly ending made you hungrier each day and made your drive a little bit more intense?

SC: Yeah, and that’s a good question. I’ll tell you what it did is it took away every bit of entitlement that I may have had. Instead of approaching this as “I deserve this job. I worked hard at it and this is something that I deserve,” it’s like no, “I’m extremely lucky to have this job.” I know that every single day, regardless of the real estate you carve out for yourself in a market, it can go away like that. For some people when it goes away, it never comes back. 

I’ve always been a driven person. I’ve never been afraid of work. That’s how I was raised, but I learned that you can have talent, you can be driven, you can work hard, and it can still go away if you don’t keep everything in line. I always said if I get another opportunity there’s definitely some things I’m going to do differently, but the main thing is no entitlement and just realize how blessed I am to be in this spot.

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I probably needed it taken away from me for a while to learn that. As I look back on everything my new favorite word in life is serendipitous. It’s so serendipitous how it all went down. There was obviously a clear reason for why it went down. Again I probably needed it to be taken away for a while to approach it with the fervor and passion that I try to on a daily basis.

BSM Writers

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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