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Kinard, Spittle, Tepper and Williams Excited To Learn From & Teach One Another In NYC

“4 PD’s weigh in on what they hope to take away from the 2020 BSM Summit.”

Demetri Ravanos

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The 3rd annual Barrett Sports Media Summit is fast approaching. Each week we announce another group of speakers. Each time we do, another few tickets are sold.

What are people most looking forward to at the event? I asked four programmers who will split their time in New York between the gallery and the stage.

Armen Williams is an accomplished and respected programmer. He started his programming journey in Albany, NY at 104.3 The Team, and cemented his reputation with a successful run in Denver at 104.3 the Fan. Just over a year ago, he took on a new challenge, overseeing Sports Radio 610 in Houston. He won’t be new to attending BSM Summit’s. He already knows the value is in who you meet.

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Last year, Armen was only a month and a half into working with Entercom in Houston. He made time to network with other PDs from within the company during the 2019 BSM Summit in Los Angeles.

“I wanted to pick their brains on the company,” he said. “I wanted to hear their stories and understand what their learning curves were.”

In New York, Armen will be picking brains again. This time though, he expects several questions to be fired back at him. He welcomes the questions, because those PDs’ motivations are his motivations.

“We’re all trying to develop what sports radio will and should sound like. There are a few PDs where I’ll want to pick their brains. You know, you just go in with open eyes and open ears. I’ll pay attention to the sessions and what lessons I can bring back to my market.”

Altitude Sports Radio PD Dave Tepper knows Armen well. The two were competitors during Armen’s time in Denver and remain friends. For Tepper, the appeal of the BSM Summit is in the people. It isn’t just about networking. It is about hearing the stories from the stage.

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At last year’s BSM Summit, Jim Rome sat down for a 40 minute Q&A with Jason Barrett. The two talked about his career history, his philosophies, and his work ethic. It was the highlight of the two day event for a lifelong fan like Tepper.

“The guy was just such an influence on me,” Tepper told me. “He was one of my top 5 radio influences. Rome, Stern, and Phil Hendry. Those were my guys. To see him up there and hear his story of truly what a grind is was impressive.”

This year when Dave looks at the speakers on stage, there is one that will stand out to him more than the others. He handpicked Carl Dukes to be his partner when the two were in Houston.

“I’m as proud of Carl as I am of anybody,” Dave says with audible affection in his voice.

Since their partnership ended, Dave has gone on to programming success first in Omaha and now in Denver. Carl has become one of the biggest names in sports radio in Atlanta. Dave tells me that the journey from arriving in Atlanta to having the notoriety to be invited to speak at the BSM Summit was not a straight line for Carl and that will make seeing a room hang on his old partner’s every word even sweeter.

“I know that guy’s story. I know where he came from. I know the hustle. I know the risk he took,” Tepper says. “We had a successful show, he and I did and Julia Takahashi was a part of that. We had the top afternoon drive show in Houston. He left all of that to go take his shot in Atlanta.

“I know the story everybody will look to tell is that now he and [Mike] Bell have as big a show in that market as there is anywhere. I know it wasn’t easy. I know he went through various co-hosts to find the right one. It was just meant to be for that guy.”

Chris Kinard of 106.7 the Fan in Washington, DC will be on stage for the third consecutive year. At last year’s event in Los Angeles, he shared the stage with Bonneville’s VP of Programming in Phoenix, Ryan Hatch, as well as Justin Craig of ESPN Radio and Scott Shapiro of Fox Sports Radio.

Kinard deemed their discussion of inside versus outside thinking in programming a success. “I thought it was thought provoking,” he tells me. He hopes that he inspired attendees to take as many notes as he did during other sessions.

This year, Kinard told me that he expects the event to be packed with big names and influential voices.

“As soon as Jason put out the poll for where we should go in 2020, I knew I was voting for New York,” he says. “There so much high level talent there from across every aspect of the business. I’ve walked out of the Summit each of the last 2 years with pages of notes. I know this year I won’t be able to wait to get back to the station and put some of this wisdom to use.”

Williams, Tepper, and Kinard will share the stage with Gavin Spittle, PD of Entercom’s 105.3 the Fan in Dallas. Spittle told me that the idea of being on stage isn’t intimidating at all. In fact, he expects a warm reception.

“It’s a room full of PDs and other radio people. I assume in front of colleagues it will be friendly,” he laughs.

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As for the value of being in that room, Gavin says there is just as much to be gained from shaking hands as there is from sitting in your seat and listening to who is on stage. In fact, “I’m always looking to meet people,” he tells me.

“Look, if I can pluck any idea from those two days, even if it is just one, it is a success for me,” Gavin tells me when I ask about what specifically he is hoping to hear discussed. “This is a competitive landscape. Not just radio. Media. It’s competitive, so you have to listen and keep learning new ways to compete. If you stop learning, you start failing.”

There are plenty of good reasons to be in the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York on February 26 and 27. Whether it is trying to fill up a notebook or hand out business cards, these four programmers are proof that everyone there is trying to get better.

You will be obliged. You will be embraced. There will be no shortage of great opportunities to network and form new relationships. So, if you don’t already have your tickets, click here and get them!

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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