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Independent Nation: Union Broadcasting

“If there’s a big decision to be made on policy or logistics – a small group gets together to discuss and we’re putting a plan in place. It takes almost no time.”

Jack Ferris

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It’s a time zone and roughly 500 hundred miles that separate Kansas City and Louisville.  That and more than a couple cultural differences.

“Kansas City has a little bit of everything,” explains Sandy Cohen, Union Broadcasting Director of Sales. “NFL, MLB, MLS, roughly half a dozen BIG XII schools within 2 and a half hours, not to mention an SEC presence with Missouri.”

As a result, tune into SportsRadio 810 WHB at any time and you’re likely to hear anything from a Chiefs Xs and Os discussion to Royals bullpen depth to Coach Klieman’s recruiting class in Manhattan.

Sandy Cohen

“As far as Louisville’s culture,” Cohen continues, “that’s a town made up of two types of sports fans – Cardinals and Wildcats.”

Naturally, the types of businesses that partner up with Union and ESPN 680 in Louisville are a little bit different than those that work with WHB.

“In Louisville we work with a lot of bars and restaurants,” explained Cohen before educating me on the illustrious history of pizza in Derby City. “In Kansas City there’s more car dealerships, mortgage companies and investment firms working with us.”

Two stations in two cities with two different kinds of clients.  From a dealership in western Kansas to a pizzeria in northern Kentucky – one thing all Union Broadcasting clients have in common during these uncertain times is the unwavering support of Sandy Cohen and his team.

With just two stations to preside over, those who work in sales for Union Broadcasting view their accounts as much more than monthly revenue makers.  

“There’s friendships everywhere.  Real friendships.  We’ve been to weddings, they’ve been to our weddings.  Kids birthday parties, you name it.”

Cohen points to those bonds as paramount during this time.

Looking back to March 11, the evening the NBA shut down, which led to roughly 72 hours of postponements, suspensions and cancellations – Union sprung into action.

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“That’s really the best part of being a small company,” claims the Union Vice President. “If there’s a big decision to be made on policy or logistics –  a small group gets together to discuss and we’re putting a plan in place.  It takes almost no time.”

Concerned first with the health of their staff, that week the decision makers put a plan into place to make sure everyone was able to work from home.  Once that hurdle was cleared, all attention was focused on the clients.

“That following Monday, no one wanted to immediately withdraw their business, no one really knew what this was at that point,” remembers Cohen. “The big word that week was ‘Pause.’  So, we hit the pause button with whoever wanted to just wait until we all knew more.”

Generally, the handbook of account management says when a client wants to cancel you do whatever you can to convince them to stay on.  If that’s the rule, COVID is, without question, the exception.  If partners wanted to take a step back, Union wasn’t getting in their way.

“This is unlike anything any of us have ever seen.  No one was prepared for something like this, how could anyone be?”

Cohen audibly reaches for a file on his desk.

“I’ll tell you what though, I’ve been taking detailed notes.  If and when this happens again we’ll be ready,” he promises.

So what seems to be working?  In Union’s case it seems to be flexibility.  Two different markets with two vastly different books calls for different accommodations.

“In Louisville, every morning we’re highlighting a different local business as part of the show.  We’re telling people what they need to do to support that particular bar or restaurant- whatever the case may be.  We seem to be getting a good response there.”

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Head west for 7 and a half hours (switching from I-64 to I-70 around St Louis) and you’ll find things to be working a little differently for Union in Kansas City.

“We have a strong social media presence with WHB so we’re offering a lot of digital messaging for clients out here – curbside pick up information, anything they want.”

With a quarter down and 3 to play, 2020 has already proven to be a brutal year – unless of course you’re a Chiefs fan.  If that’s the case, things were looking pretty bright just two months ago, and Cohen and his production team are doing their best to call upon those happy experiences that already seem so old.

“What we’re doing is encouraging business owners to record their favorite sports memories – obviously a lot revolve around the Super Bowl.  We have them email it in, our guys in production clean it up, maybe add a music bed and in less than 24 hours we’ve turned around a personalized ad ready for air.  It’s actually been a pretty good time for little innovations like that.”

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Another bright spot Cohen points to is the implementation of facetime and zoom for client calls that would otherwise just be on the phone.

“There’s something about being face to face with our partners that is comforting for us and them.  Even when we have sales meetings, it’s so much better seeing human faces.  That’s definitely been a bright spot.”

Cohen wouldn’t say that navigating these uncharted waters has been easy, especially without land on the horizon.  There is, however, an immense comfort in knowing we’re all in the ship together.  Louisville, Kansas City, and beyond.

“We’re gonna make it through this.  I have no doubt.”

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

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Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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