Do you remember grade school teachers telling you to check your work? I can recall some of my math teachers reminding the class to test each answer to make sure it’s correct. That piece of advice applies to much more than math class these days. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death while in police custody on May 25 — officially ruled a homicide — the stakes have been raised exponentially when it comes to public comments landing properly.
This is the time for us to ask ourselves, “Does this help?” Does my comment, action, lack of comment, or lack of action actually help in the fight for social justice and racial equality? If your answer is no, then your math problem needs to be reworked. Anybody with a functional brain and without racist bones in their body can acknowledge that black people need to be treated a whole lot better in this country. The police brutality and racial mistreatment needs to end. This should be our primary focus and goal.
President Trump tweeted on Sunday, “Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?”
Be completely honest with yourself and ask the question, “Does this help?” Is this a step in the right direction toward racial harmony, or is President Trump focused on a secondary issue? You should know the answer.
One of the images stuck in my mind is George Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, laying flowers at the site of George’s death. I don’t have a brother, but I can’t imagine feeling the anger of watching one of my nephews — who I adore — being murdered by an officer who had his knee on my nephew’s neck for nearly nine minutes. I can’t imagine the pain my sister would feel if she watched me die the way George Floyd did. Oh, and then instead of my death being the main focus with ideas of how to make the country a better place, the takeaway is, “Yeah, but what about this issue of kneeling during the anthem?”
Sports radio hosts have the power to make listeners feel emotions. We have a platform that involves a certain trust, and the consequences of betraying that trust can be damaging to both hosts and listeners. Which emotions do you want the audience to feel? I’m not going to prioritize potential ratings at the expense of black people feeling like their vital message is being overlooked or disregarded. I’ll figure out another way to get numbers.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees recently told Yahoo Finance, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman made an interesting point. “You have to come out and address what’s going on right here before you say anything else,” Merriman told FOX Sports Radio’s The Jason Smith Show. “It’s not what he said was all wrong, it’s just you didn’t even talk about the problem and that’s why people are so pissed off and frustrated.”
FOX Sports Radio’s Clay Travis expressed a different point of view. “I believe many of you out there feel stifled because of the conversations that you see on Facebook and Twitter and social media and maybe at your jobs as well, where you feel like, ‘I can’t say what I would like to say, because I am afraid if I say it, I’ll lose my job, or I’ll create larger issues,’” Travis said on Outkick the Coverage. “I think that goes to the fundamental heart of the cancel culture and why I was disappointed that Drew Brees apologized. There’s a difference between disagreement and a disagreement that requires an apology. We’re not all going to have the same opinions on all different sorts of issues. Just because you disagree with my opinion and become upset by it, doesn’t mean that your feelings trump mine. Why should I be required to say something I don’t agree with in order to avoid hurting your feelings?”
I understand what Travis said, but timing matters. Having the freedom to tell a dirty joke in church doesn’t mean it’s also appropriate to do so.
Consider this — I once worked with a great guy named Bob Mulheren in Albany, New York. My friend had a rare form of cancer. I went to visit Bob in the hospital the day he died. I was in the same room minutes before he passed away. It was an incredibly heavy scene as family and friends said their final goodbyes to Bob while he was suffering greatly. I headed back to work and did a radio show. You can imagine how fried I was by the end of the day, but I had a meeting scheduled with a manager before I could leave.
After talking about Bob for a few minutes with that manager, he went on to conduct an hour-long meeting while giving me a number of tasks to complete. I’ll never forget thinking, “This dude doesn’t get it.”
I normally don’t have a problem with meetings — well actually, meetings are horrid if I’m being honest — but it’s fine for managers to give me a checklist. Just don’t give me a giant to-do list in an hour-long meeting immediately after I watched a friend die. Timing is important. Black people just watched another member of their race suffer and die and the focus is on kneeling and the freedom to openly express opinions? Like former NBA player Stephen Jackson said, “Bad timing, Drew Brees. Bad timing, bruh.”
I’m a diehard Miami Dolphins fan. Growing up in South Bend, Indiana I have no idea how this happened, but it did. Like many fans in general, I’ve disagreed with plenty of things the team has done over the years including trades, draft picks, contracts, and play calls among roughly 19 other things. Just because I openly disagree with the team doesn’t mean I no longer support the Dolphins. I want the best for them. I hope we can one day get to the same place as a country — where we can diagree with each other, but still be on the same team. I hope we can understand that a disagreement doesn’t automatically mean we’re on opposite sides.
I can’t blame black people for thinking the country doesn’t have their back because far too often it hasn’t. Having an anthem debate must feel like another chapter in the book of, “I’m Still Fighting Against You.” It isn’t true in some cases, but I can understand that feeling.
Michael Jordan made a powerful statement, “We [African Americans] have been beaten down for so many years. It sucks your soul. You can’t accept it anymore.”
Man, what a description — it sucks your soul. George Floyd was laid to rest on Tuesday in Houston. If a friend of yours watched someone close to them die, would you start a debate with that friend or show support? Of course you would be there to try to comfort your friend. This isn’t the time for a debate or another disagreement. That doesn’t help. This is the time for support and unity.
To the black people in this country, I’m not here to debate you. I’m here to say that I love you. I care for you. I want the best for you. You matter.
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.