Over the course of 20 plus years in morning radio I was fired three times, faked suicidal depression once to get out of a long term no cut deal, and finally at the end I walked away on my own terms. Somewhere along the journey I read that you’re not truly considered a professional until you’ve been fired 3 times. So apparently I am now an expert at what to do once it’s happened.
Now before you ask yourself ‘why should I listen to this guy who got fired so many times’ let me qualify it by pointing out that all three times I was “dislocated” while in the top 5 of the ratings. Twice I was dismissed because they thought syndication would answer their money woes. Ironically both of those heritage stations no longer exist. The third time I was fired I can only shorten the story enough to say that management didn’t have the balls to clean up the bloody mess they created and although my annual reviews were glowing I got axed.
So there I was again wondering what the hell am I going to do next? Staying positive through a “dislocation” is not a silly overused cliche but instead an absolute necessity for a successful outcome. Our human nature is to be hateful and to lash out and be angry and vindictive but that type of behavior does you no good in the process of trying to figure out how to pay the bills and not lose your entire life savings. So give yourself a weekend or a week to mourn and go through the emotions with a reminder in your calendar that on said day at said time those feelings are no longer allowed or accepted out of your mouth or in your head.
It’s important to implement a way to channel that energy out of your body. Go for walks twice a day. Hit the gym. Go for a bike ride. Do some yoga or meditation. Read some fiction. Whatever it is that you consider ‘your thing’, make sure you do it everyday from this point forward, because you finally have the time to put yourself first.
Next you need to assess the financial damage. How much is in the bank and how many more paychecks will you get? What are your monthly bills and what frivolous shit can you immediately cancel? Car lease? Cable? Subscriptions? Then log on to your states unemployment website and immediately find out the requirements and what you can expect to receive so that you can start creating a budget to see what you can actually afford.
For those of you that own homes, how long can you safely afford to keep it? The longest I was ever unemployed was a year and a half. Think about that. During that time I paid out almost $50,000 in mortgage payments on a house I ended up having to short sell. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve put it up for sale immediately and downsized into something that would’ve lightened the financial burden. The problem is this thing we all have called the ego. It will tell you that you’re going to find work quickly and that you’ve worked too hard to give it all up.
Well, the ego is like a mirage in the desert. You better learn to control it now before you end up filing for bankruptcy. Point is to put together a plan that will keep your lights on and food on the table for a year minimum.
The next thing you need to do is look for two different jobs. One in the industry you want to be in, in this case radio. The second is the one that you can land right away to keep the money coming in. This is where the battle of ego comes into play because never in a million years did you see yourself working at Home Depot or Kohl’s but guess what? You’re an adult with adult responsibilities like kids and pets and health insurance.
My suggestion is to use your former radio station to help you land a job. Hopefully you cultivated relationships with your station’s clients who you’re now going to reach out to and share your story with. That manager at the Harley Dealership or the Irish bar where you did you last remote could be happy to help you out. Heck put it on social media that you’re looking for a gig. If you established a connection with any of the stations fans, they too could step up to help. The bigger question is ‘will you be able to get past your ego?’ Please do because it’s important to keep money coming in but equally important to keep yourself busy.
Next it’s time to start networking and marketing yourself to the world. You know what they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression. The first thing you need to do is create a “branding package” filled with your best audio, pictures, resume and references. This is going to cost both time and money but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to showcase your talent and experience. It has to be better than good and it has to be creative, different and memorable. There are a lot of people out there competing for the few jobs that are left. One way to not waste your time and money is to bring a few friends or former co-workers into the creative process and get their input on what your best stuff is and what makes you special.
Now that the brand package is done it’s time to get it out both digitally and tangibly. Yes that means actually licking envelopes and sending things out via snail mail. Why? Because with the USPS there is no spam or junk mail folder for your stuff to end up in. You should be sending your stuff to consultants, brand managers, program directors, general managers, format captains and agents but don’t rely on that to get you a job. You should be looking for any and all opportunities to meet these people first hand and there are many industry conventions that happen where you can. The BSM Summit, Conclave, CRS, and WWRS are just a few that come to mind. It is truly an investment in your future and if you’re not doing it just know that somebody else is and they will most likely get looked at first.
Finally, remember that it’s not always about who’s the best candidate for the job. The radio industry is small and friends like to work with and help out friends. So touch base with your friends in other markets to poke around and see if something might be opening up or if they can recommend you for something. Plant as many seeds as you can all over the country and eventually one of them will take root as long as you stay positive and patient.
If you’ve had enough of the business and choose to throw in the towel I get it. This career isn’t for everyone. That just means it’s time for a different path and some reflection on how you can use the talents that God gave you in another way.
Rider is now a busy promo and commercial voice working daily with NBC sports NHL and Supercross, CBS sports Monday QB and 4 Sides of the story, Fox Sports North/Wisconsin, the PBR tour, Tampa Bay Lightning & Texas Rangers as well as voicing WAAF Boston, ESPN 630 Washington D.C, the Shark Miami and many others. Listen to his stuff at www.ridervo.com and to book please contact Nate Zeitz at NZeitz@cesdtalent.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
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.