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Engaging Listeners On New Platforms? Bring Advertisers With You

You create content for the good of the listener. Right now though, everything you do at work has to be done through the prism of “how can this work for the client?”.

Demetri Ravanos

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I’ll be the one to say it. I don’t care who I piss off! This quarantine thing sucks.

Americans aren’t built for isolation. Think about everything you miss being able to do right now. It all involves hanging out or being amongst other people with a shared goal or interest. All this time alone or with the same circle of family or roommates has us craving ways to connect with those we have been cut off from.

How social distancing could ultimately teach us how to be less ...

Look, we’ve all seen Tiger King. Those of us with kids have already burned through Frozen 2 and Onward on Disney+. We’re looking for new things to engage us, and sharp, creative programmers and talent need to step up.

You create content for the good of the listener. Right now though, everything you do at work has to be done through the prism of “how can this work for the client?”.

Do you look around, see layoffs at Entercom, Beasley, Alpha, and other broadcast groups and wonder how you can avoid ending up on that same list at your company? The answer is find ways to benefit the clients sticking with your station in everything you do.

With that in mind, let’s look at how you can connect station sponsors to the digital content you’re churning out to engage the people that have stopped listening because they have no reason to be in their car. Here are four ideas to use as you see fit.

1. Long-Form Content

You have time to be creative and try out some video and audio projects that would have required too much time in the past. Start working on that podcast serial you have an idea for. Roll out the video project you think could turn some heads on social media.

These sort of things are easy to slide commercials into. You’ve heard plenty of ESPN podcasts that feature the same commercials you hear on ESPN Radio. You can do the same. You can also add the same ads to your videos with a company logo in front.

The need to make the most of every dollar the station has coming in right now should give you the green light to get creative. All you have to do is create inventory for the sales staff to use and you’ve infinitely become more valuable to your employer.

2. AMAs

For those not fluent in reddit, that stands for Ask Me Anything. There are so many ways to do these. I think the very best one on the internet right now is Banner Society’s “Insta for Olds,” where Steven Godfrey takes questions about college football and parenting and responds in an Instagram story.

These can also be done on Twitter or Facebook. The video element creates a more fun and immediate place to give an advertiser some presence.

Lawyers and insurance agents are staying on the air in a lot of markets right now. That makes sense because those businesses exist to answer customer questions. Brand your AMA with a tag line regarding the sponsor’s ability to answer their clients questions any time.

If you’re going to use the video element, ask the sponsor to give you a .png file of their logo. Even a video editing program as simple as iMovie has an ability to put a bug on the screen. If you’re doing the video in Instagram, use this guide to help you learn how to build stickers to put on all of your answer videos.

3. VIDEO GAMES

If you haven’t picked up a video game in a while, the days of playing NHL 94 alone in your room on the Genesis are over. Video games have surpassed movies as the most profitable communal entertainment experience. Whether you’re playing on the Playstation Network or Xbox Live or streaming on Twitch, there are all kinds of ways to play video games in front of an audience.

Treat the casts of your gaming just like a radio show or game broadcast. Give commentary and work in sponsors. There’s probably a ton of grocery stores on air right now, right? Tell the people watching you what you picked up from the sponsoring store last time you went out. Tell them how much toilet paper you saw on hand.

Watching other people play video games sounds boring as hell to those of us in our 30s and 40s, but as anyone with kids can tell you, people do it for hours on end. Check out what 680 the Fan in Atlanta and WDAE in Tampa are doing with their virtual baseball seasons. They are already making the most of video game content on their social platforms.

4. NETFLIX PARTY

Everyone is looking for a show to stream and something to talk about right now. Netflix Party is an awesome platform that allows you to synchronize Netflix viewings with friends and create your own private chatroom. Think of it as a sort of show/station book club.

This is the perfect thing to tie a restaurant sponsor into. It may even be an item that becomes added value for a long time advertiser that can’t afford to stay on but is important to future business. Offer a coupon for their take out or delivery service exclusively inside the Netflix Party chat room.

There’s also so much to watch and draw people into. We’re all jonesing for some kind of competition, right? Nailed It just came back. The CW’s high school football drama, All-American, is gaining popularity. This is what many are doing right now. We might as well do it together.

Karimah Westbrook - Catch ALL AMERICAN on NETFLIX! | Facebook

As you look to create content to stay in front of your regular audience, the only way to win right now is by bringing sponsors with you. The world is in “all hands on deck” mode. The radio industry is trying to slow the bleeding.

You can’t afford to think the same way you always have, and just do the same things you’ve always done. Keep finding ways to engage your audience on multiple platforms. That should always be part of your plan. But if you are not thinking of ways to bring advertisers with you on to those platforms, you aren’t doing enough.

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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