Layoffs have permeated throughout the media industry over the past few months that will have a ripple effect in our business for years to come. There are many innovators who have already started a trend that will have long lasting effects on print and radio stations alike. Big corporations need to take notice that by laying off employees, they have allowed a lot of talent to move freely. Consumers have taken notice and are now getting more of their content in non-traditional formats.
The wave of non traditional outlets started years ago with the internet, which allowed media outlets to grow remotely without the need for brick and mortar buildings. This allowed companies, as startups, to recruit talent and use the resources normally set aside for fixed costs to be put into the pockets of the people who were doing the work. As the internet expanded, smart phones came about and the ability to broadcast from anywhere became more prevalent. Advertisers have taken notice, and traditional media buys have now been spread over multiple locations. It’s simple, advertisers can get more bang for their buck.
2020 has put more of us out of work, in what was already a limited market for employment. With this weeks news that The Athletic was laying off 46 more writers, the market has become more saturated with talented people who now don’t have a place to work. Who will hire them in a soft economy when a lot of the bigger companies have indefinite hiring freezes? How long can most people afford to sit at home with little or no income? I wrote a few weeks ago here that this is a time to try everything to keep a stream of income coming in.
Is the time now to start your own media group?
It’s a question I’ve pondered for well over a year now, and as months turned into a year, the question still lingers and builds in my head.
What does it take to make this happen? Honestly, a small bit of research, a few clicks on the internet, and the potential for putting your content out there is right at your finger tips.
The second, and most important part is how do you monetize your content?
This becomes a little more tricky, but with patience and the right ideas, there are plenty of ways to make money without working for your local radio station or your local news paper. Multiple startups have become very profitable in a very short amount of time, and the goal of making money is very attainable.
The third part is how do you want the site to be run? Do you want solo content or use the model that Bleacher Report or SB Nation have used, and that is saturate the market with as much content as possible. These 2 recruit up and coming writers and podcasters and get a lot of content produced for a relatively cheap cost, but are able to get a lot of clicks on a daily basis.
There are advantages to both. With the solo opportunity, you can give exclusive content that people can only get from you, but the drawback is advertisers want to see numbers before they spend dollars.
Do you have enough stroke to make this happen? Do you have the previous relationships to make this a reality?
If you go with a more inclusive approach, the key is getting the right content out there. You don’t want just any content, although this will get more eyes on your product and can open many other streams of revenue. These are all questions that you need to answer before getting started.
There are many success stories around the country from individuals who have branched out on their own. Obviously Barrett Sports Media is a shining example of this, and what Jason has done to corner the market is amazing.
“Big O” Orlando Alzugaray hosts The Big O Show daily on his own network, and in a few short months has generated over 1 million downloads of his podcast. You may be wondering how did he do it? Big O is a long time radio host in South Florida, who unfortunately was let go from WQAM about a year and a half ago. He had a short stint with 1210 The Man, and then branched out on his own.
To monetize, Orlando used his long time relationships with sponsors, who came on board with his solo venture. He’s been able to keep these relationships going by doing live shows at his sponsors place of business and because he produces the numbers he does, Big O continues to rock the airwaves of Miami and beyond without a traditional radio outlet.
Ethan Skolnick is another great case study. He was a long time beat writer for the Sun Sentinel, who also hosted a radio show on 790 the Ticket. After moving on from both he started the 5 Reasons Sports Network which has a ton of Miami sports coverage from multiple writers and podcasters. In a short amount of time, the network has become a go to source for unfiltered Miami coverage. Everywhere you turn there’s an article or opinion from his group, and advertisers and fans alike have taken notice. Ethan also incorporated merchandise into the site, and his Tua/Miami 2020 shirts are selling like hot cakes. The writers and podcasters have an outlet that’s getting tons of clicks, which in turn gets there name and content out there, and advertisers are taking notice.
I did a Twitter poll asking how people consume their media coverage and the results were just what I expected. People listen to the radio, download podcasts, pay subscriptions and take it all on the go. If your content is good, they will find it.
The industry has pushed a lot of talented people out the door, but the talent is fighting back and taking their own piece of the pie. The time is now to start something on your own and get on board before the train passes you by.
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.