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Creating A, B, And C Block Content At The Super Bowl

“We actually added a 4 o’clock hour solely devoted to the Niners this week,” exclaims Kate. “I’m sure Dr. Phil understands.”

Jack Ferris

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“No, honestly I have plenty of time,” KRON4’s Kate Rooney reassures me.

Time is precious for any multimedia journalist on assignment – it’s especially valuable for Rooney this week as she’s covering her market’s beloved 49ers in Miami.

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“I just got in my Uber so I’m looking at an hour,” she pauses to glance at her phone.

“Actually more than an hour.  I might miss my first live shot.”

Hotel.  Traffic.  Press conference.  Traffic.  Live shot.  Traffic.  Repeat.

Such has been the South Beach routine for Kate and so many others in her position.  12-14 hour days of shooting, writing, editing and car sitting.  During this particular Thursday evening conversation, the Bay Area native was just embarking on the roughly 15 mile journey from Miami’s Hyatt Regency to Hard Rock Stadium.  

Like cars congesting I-95, 195 and 395 – Super Bowl content has flooded rundowns in Kansas City and Bay Area newsrooms for nearly 14 days.  News directors in both markets are stretching budgets and doing whatever else they can to get a leg up on the competition.  

“We actually added a 4 o’clock hour solely devoted to the Niners this week,” exclaims Kate.  “I’m sure Dr. Phil understands.”

“Hold on – I’d say just run through that,” suggests KDVR’s Lindsay Joy.  The Denver-based Southern California-raised sports reporter is also en route to the site of Super Bowl 54 for live shots, occasionally breaking up our conversation to fulfill her co-piloting duties.

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Joy is in Miami representing, not just her station, but Nexstar as a whole.  Each night, she’ll do roughly 34 hits for stations from Honolulu to Albany.  Every hit, a new anchor tossing and a new mic flag above her fist.  Outside of San Francisco and Kansas City – it doesn’t make a lot of financial sense for local television stations to invest in a presence in Miami.  That said, it’s never a bad thing to have a Super Bowl live shot no matter your market.  Enter Lindsay Joy.  The catch?  Her reports have to appeal to the common man – as opposed to a Chiefs or Niners specific fan base.

“I’m not going to practices, I’m not going to press conferences, I’m turning common interest stories.  ‘B and C block material,’ for sure,” she jokes.

Rooney, on the other hand, is featured in the A block of just about every newscast KRON4 is producing this week – and it doesn’t end there

“I would guess every show is 30-40% 49ers or Super Bowl related,” the USC alum estimates.

Outside of the temporarily installed “Red and Gold Zone” in the 4 o’clock hour, KRON’s traditional newscast is packed with Niner content – just like every other station from San Francisco to Reno.  Merchandise sales, watch party locations, lifelong fan stories – anything with the red and gold involved.

The appetite of the Bay Area viewer for Super Bowl coverage is insatiable – as is that of every Chiefs fan in Kansas City and the surrounding markets.  Once your team makes the Super Bowl, it’s no longer a sports story – it’s the lead.  As a result, sports reporters like Kate – usually relegated to look-lives in the sportscast – are headlining broadcasts all week long.

The rest of the country is interested in the big game – just on a much smaller scale, a “B or C block” level of interest.  For that, Nexstar affiliates outside of Northern California and the greater Kansas City region have Lindsay Joy to serve them up some general content.

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Tuesday she cut together a package on the FOX broadcast team and their preparation for Sunday.  Wednesday she profiled San Francisco’s Katie Sowers – the first female coach in Super Bowl history.  Then one by one, market by market, she’s welcomed into living rooms via Nexstar stations from Bakersfield to toss and tag her package.

“I’m thrilled to be here, I mean it’s the Super Bowl,” explains Joy.  

“It’s just a different experience not being here covering a specific team.”

Working for KDVR, Joy travelled with the Broncos this season.  Along the way she naturally developed a trust with the players and media personnel – the same familiarity Kate Rooney is happy to have with the 49ers in Miami.

“That has been very nice,” Kate admits, still bumper to bumper on Northbound I-95.  

“When I’m in the back of a little media scrum for a specific player, they’ll usually recognize me and let me get my question in.  Same thing with the PR staff at a press conference.  They definitely make sure the Bay Area media members get what we need.”

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On the surface – the Super Bowl weeks of Kate Rooney and Lindsay Joy look identical.  12-24 hour days of shooting, writing, editing and car sitting.  The difference in their work may seem subtle – even trivial to those not in the industry.  A closer look reveal’s Rooney’s responsibility to her market and her station to find compelling 49er content day in and day out – a stark contrast to Joy’s task of turning stories with coast to coast appeal.  That difference, as anyone who’s done the job knows, is as significant as both women’s January Uber bill.  

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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