The NBA Bubble: Again, Why Are They Doing This?
“It will take a Disney miracle for the NBA’s Orlando plan to succeed amid pandemic fears, soaring positive tests in Florida, the Black Lives Matter crusade and players filled with anxiety.”
Vegas is laying the wrong odds. Rather than establishing the Lakers, Bucks and Clippers as NBA title favorites, sportsbooks should emphasize the real action: What is the likelihood that the league’s military lockdown camp — er, bubble — will collapse in a shambles of coronavirus outbreaks, Black Lives Matter concerns and star defections that leads to a shutdown of the Adam Silver Salvation Tour and exposes this Disney World fairy tale as an all-time disaster?
Again, why are they doing this?
The NBA is moving forward, of course, because its very future depends on it. Silver is trying to recoup more than $1 billion in potential losses and keep the league on an unsteady track toward the 2020-21 season, which presumably would be played without spectators and a 40 percent windfall of game-night revenues. Broadcast partner Disney is trying to resuscitate ESPN, which is suffering from abysmal ratings not seen since its tractor-pull days of the early ‘80s. And players want to make money, especially if owners eventually use the force majeure clause — the most painful sports phrase since androstenedione — to terminate the collective bargaining agreement and impose … deep breaths … a lockout.
The sports world could deal with baseball going away for a long time. The NBA, across key demographics, would be a devastating loss. “Either way, I think it’s going to happen, whether the players play or not,’’ said NBA great Paul Pierce, dropping the L-word on ESPN, not exactly the media synergy that Silver and Disney boss Bob Iger want. Thus, there is the frenzied urgency to send 22 teams of up to 374 players to Florida and resume the season late next month, so everyone can get theirs.
Yet even after the league released a 113-page manual, detailing health and safety protocols on its “campus,’’ the chances of the bubble bursting appear far greater than any awarding of the Larry O’Brien trophy in mid-October. You want me to be positive, upbeat, stop wearing a mask. Sorry, when lives are at risk, realism is the operative mission. And the world is much too complex and fraught now to think a vast majority of players — including the big names necessary to maintain competitive credibility — will remain committed to quarantined living for weeks and months.
As a pandemic continues to wreak deadly consequences, Black Lives Matter is a massive, historic crusade that only has swelled since George Floyd’s murder. Together, the elements are planting doubts among players who’ve been preparing to play in the bubble, muffling Silver’s hopes for a Hoops Kumbaya. “We have an obligation to the NBA community to try. The alternative is staying on the sidelines, and that is giving in to this virus,’’ the commissioner said. “For us, we feel this is what we do. We put on NBA basketball. For the country, it will be a respite from enormous difficulties people are dealing with. And for social justice issues, it’s an opportunity for NBA players to draw attention to these issues because the world’s attention will be on the NBA and Orlando. if we can pull this off. It’s a unique opportunity to respond to George Floyd’s death.’’
Or another reason to stay home, keep your loved ones safe and not let basketball distract America from Black Lives Matter activism.
Do not understate the importance of next Wednesday. That’s when the entirety of NBA players must inform teams if they intend to participate. In and of itself, covid-19 remains enough of a threat, for the players and their families, to scare everyone away regardless of uncollected salaries. They see reports that the rate of positive tests is rising in central Florida. No matter how elaborate the testing procedures, the league acknowledges that a relentlessly contagious virus will lead to positive tests, actually putting it in writing: “the occurrence of a small or otherwise expected number of covid-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the resumption” of the season. So what this becomes is a virus watch first and a basketball season second, not a comforting thought when playing a close-contact, sweat-dripping indoor activity. Remember, at least 10 NBA players and one head coach, Denver’s Michael Malone, have been infected.
How many more will test positive — as numerous athletes have in other leagues, including the NFL’s Zeke Elliott — upon reporting to the bubble? When they arrive, players must self-isolate in hotel rooms, for as long as 48 hours, until two negative tests are delivered. If a superstar is on the first list of positives, another asterisk immediately will be affixed to an already tainted season. Vegas wouldn’t be so cruel to set odds on which players are infected, would it? Hey, the casinos are desperate, too. Even Michele Roberts, paid to protect a membership as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, is bent on accepting the risks. “No one is suggesting that this is going to be an infection-free, guaranteed environment,” Roberts told the Associated Press. “I guess, unless we go to … well, where would we go? What state has the lowest rate? There’s just no way of finding a sterile environment probably on this planet, but certainly, not in this country.”
Again, why are they doing this?
Players will be tested “regularly,’’ not daily, and the games will go on regardless of positive tests. But if a prominent player is determined to be infected, say, during the postseason, his team is effectively screwed as he quarantines in “isolation housing’’ and sits out at least 14 days. I’ve found Silver to be much more trustworthy than the Major League Baseball dopes, but transparency is of the essence. Will the NBA report all positive tests — or, in the interest of preventing hysteria, not be as forthcoming in the cases of elite players? It’s a fair question, given the financial stakes.
All of which is complicated by the possibility — no, probability — that certain young millionaires unaccustomed to hearing “no’’ will defy the league’s wishes and leave campus. “The expectation is that players and team staff will not leave,’’ reads the protocol, but “expectation’’ is code for sneaking away for a night on the town, which, in otherwise sleepy Orlando, might mean strip clubs. Face it, the league can ramp up all the campus amenities imaginable — luxury hotels, golf courses, swimming pools, players-only lounges, DJ sets, 24-hour room service, yoga, biking trails, bowling, fishing — and not stop some players from bucking the system and going out. The league seems serious about enforcement, asking players and team personnel to be watchdogs and snitches, even supplying an anonymous hotline to blow whistles. If someone is caught leaving the bubble without prior approval (such as for a family emergency), he’ll face 10 days in quarantine and undergo the hellish procedure of deep-swab nasal testing. There also could be “a warning, fine, suspension and/or removal from campus’’ by the league.
But at that point, if a player is rebellious enough, will he care about a fine or sabotaging his team? Throughout America, people in their 20s believe the pandemic is over and a fun summer has begun. Think NBA guys are any different? Perhaps LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo would reel in their teammates and remind them of the championship mission. But most bubble teams have only minimal title chances and might have antsy players who want to party. Or, players who decide to bail and go home, which would further bastardize the season. As it is, they’ll be living apart from family members, playing without fans in the stands, required to dress and take showers in their rooms and invited to wear “a proximity alarm’’ that will sound for those not following social distancing guidelines. At what point does a player crack in this isolated environment? And when the final eight teams, after the first playoff round, are allowed to reserve one separate hotel room for each player’s “guests,’’ how will that perilize the quest to sterilize? It’s no wonder the league is suggesting each team have a mental health professional on site if “any player experiences feelings of anxiety and stress upon transitioning to the campus and being away from household family members.’’
This might explain why the league, curiously, has abandoned policy and won’t be testing for recreational drugs the rest of the season. The manual reminds players that marijuana is illegal in Florida and banned at Disney World, but apparently, no one officially will be monitoring use. Was that an intentional perk? Might weed save the NBA? In this league, weed trumps any assurance, straight from the bubble manual, that Disney World will be cleaning “spaces and surfaces before and after use by different teams with Ecolab Peroxide Multi-Surface Cleaner & Disinfectant and Oxivir Tb disinfectant and wipes.’’
Still, not even the ability to get high will influence players who’ve seen progress in a purpose far beyond basketball — racial injustice — and don’t want games deterring from Black Lives Matter protests. Kyrie Irving, an elected vice president in the National Basketball Players Association, has been the loudest voice opposing a restart, but it’s uncertain whether his strong statements of last week have gained momentum in numbers. “I’m not with the systemic racism and the bull(bleep),’’ said Irving, per The Athletic. “Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.’’
To which ESPN analyst and ex-NBA center Kendrick Perkins replied: “No one is listening to Kyrie. The NBA is going to continue. All he’s doing is causing unnecessary drama between the NBA brothers that we don’t need right now.’’
A player who prioritizes Black Lives Matter and declines to play will not be seen as violating his contract, Silver said. Given the league’s healthy social conscience, the commissioner would prefer players use the bubble as a platform, allowing that network telecasts might include “a series of speakers in police reform and why covid-19 has a disparate impact on people of color.’’ He never stops thinking, Adam Silver, who might want to rescue MLB and help the NFL if he somehow pulls off this miracle.
“Not surprisingly, there’s not a uniformed view among those players,’’ he said. “(The campus) may not be for everyone. It will entail enormous sacrifice on behalf of those players and for everyone involved. Listen, it’s not an ideal situation. We’re trying to find a way to our normal in the middle of a pandemic and recession, or worse, with 40 million unemployed and now with enormous social unrest in the country. As we work through these issues, I understand that for some players, this is not for them. It may be for family reasons, health reasons, or it may be that they feel their time is best spent elsewhere.’’
If enough players enter the bubble and stay the course, the new NBA normal would no doubt fascinate viewers. The strangest postseason in sports history will be contested in three boxy gyms with a smattering of spectators, one public-address announcer, time-out music bouncing off empty walls and assorted TV cameras trying to be innovative.
I do want to believe in the uplifting Disney ending, I really do. I want the trademark Happily Ever After, the When You Wish Upon A Star vibe.
But this being 2020, I fear we’re about to get the scene where Mickey Mouse goes to the hospital.
Jay Mariotti, called “the most impacting Chicago sportswriter of the past quarter-century,’’ writes a weekly media column for Barrett Sports Media and regular sports columns for Substack while appearing on some of the 1,678,498 podcasts in production today. He’s an accomplished columnist, TV panelist and radio talk host. Living in Los Angeles, he gravitated by osmosis to film projects. Compensation for this column is donated to the Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust.
Amanda Brown Has Embraced The Bright Lights of Hollywood
“My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and eight others aboard a helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, sent shockwaves around the world of sports, entertainment, and culture. People traveled to Los Angeles following the devastating news and left flowers outside the then-named STAPLES Center, the arena which Bryant called home for much of his career, demonstrating the magnitude of the loss. Just across the street from the arena, Amanda Brown and the staff at ESPN Los Angeles 710 had embarked in ongoing breaking news coverage, lamentation, and reflection.
It included coverage of a sellout celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter and teams around the NBA opting to take 8-second and 24-second violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers throughout his 20-year NBA career. They currently hang in the rafters at Crypto.com Arena, making Bryant the only player in franchise history to have two numbers retired.
During this tumultuous time, Bryant’s philosophy served as a viable guiding force, something that Brown quickly ascertained in her first month as the station’s new program director.
“I had people that were in Northern California hopping on planes to get here,” Brown said. “You didn’t even have to ask people [to] go to the station; people were like, ‘I’m on my way.’ It was the way that everybody really came together to do really great radio, and we did it that day and we did it the next day and we did it for several days.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is quickly approaching, and Brown will be attending the event for the first time since 2020. During her first experience at the BSM Summit in New York, Brown had just become a program director and was trying to assimilate into her role. Because of this, she prioritized networking, building contacts, and expressing her ideas to others in the space. This year, she looks forward to connecting with other program directors and media professionals around the country while also seeking to learn more about the nuances of the industry.
“The Summit is kind of like a meeting of the minds,” Brown said. “It’s people throughout the country and the business…. More than anything, [the first time] wasn’t so much about the panels as it was about the people.”
Growing up in Orange County, Brown had an interest in the Los Angeles Lakers from a young age, being drawn to play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn. Brown refers to Hearn as inspiration to explore a career in broadcasting. After studying communications at California State University in Fullerton, she was afforded an opportunity to work as a producer at ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM by program director Scott Masteller, who she still speaks to on a regular basis. It was through Masteller’s confidence in her, in addition to support from operations manager Dave Schorr, that helped make Brown feel more comfortable working in sports media.
“I never felt like I was a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Brown said. “I always just felt like I was a part of the industry. For me, I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I deserve to be here; I deserve a seat at the table.’”
Brown quickly rose up the ranks when she began working on ESPN Radio in Bristol, Conn., working as a producer for a national radio show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt, along with The Sports Bash with Erik Kuselias. Following five-and-a-half years in Bristol, Brown requested a move back to California and has worked at ESPN Los Angeles 710 ever since. She began her tenure at the station serving as a producer for shows such as Max and Marcellus and Mason and Ireland.
Through her persistence, work ethic and congeniality, Brown was promoted to assistant program director in July 2016. In this role, she helped oversee the station’s content while helping the entity maintain live game broadcast rights and explore new opportunities to augment its foothold, including becoming the flagship radio home of the Los Angeles Rams.
“Don’t sit back and wait for your managers or your bosses to come to you and ask what you want to do,” Brown advised. “Go after what you want, and that’s what I’ve always done. I always went to my managers and was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this. Give me a chance; let me do that.’ For the most part, my managers have been receptive and given me those opportunities.”
When executive producer Dan Zampillo left the station to join Spotify to work as a sports producer, Brown was subsequently promoted to program director where she has helped shape the future direction of the entity. From helping lead the brand amid its sale to Good Karma Brands in the first quarter of 2022; to revamping the daily lineup with compelling local programs, Brown has gained invaluable experience and remains keenly aware of the challenges the industry faces down the road. For sports media outlets in Los Angeles, some of the challenge is merely by virtue of its geography.
“We’re in sunny Southern California where there’s a lot of things happening,” Brown said. “We’re in the middle of Hollywood. People have a lot of opportunities – you can go to the mountains; you can go to the beach. I think [our market] is more about entertainment than it is about actual hard-core sports. Yes, obviously you have hard-core Lakers fans; you have hard-core Dodgers fans, but a majority of the fans are pretty average sports fans.”
Because of favorable weather conditions and an endless supply of distractions, Brown knows that the way to attract people to sports talk radio is through its entertainment value. With this principle in mind, she has advised her hosts not to worry so much about the specific topics they are discussing, but rather to ensure they are entertaining listeners throughout the process.
“People know the four letters E-S-P-N mean sports, but really our focus is more on entertainment more than anything,” Brown said. “I think the [talent] that stick out the most are the ones that are the most entertaining.”
Entertaining listeners, however, comes through determining what they are discussing and thinking about and providing relevant coverage about those topics. Even though it has not yet been legalized in the state of California, sports gambling content has been steadily on the rise since the Supreme Court made a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act established in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018). Nonetheless, Brown and ESPN Los Angeles 710 have remained proactive, launching a sports gambling show on Thursday nights to try to adjust to the growing niche of the industry.
Even though she has worked in producing and programming for most of her career, Brown is eager to learn about the effect sports gambling has on audio sales departments. At the same time, she hopes to be able to more clearly determine how the station can effectuate its coverage if and when it becomes legal in their locale.
“I know that a lot of other markets have that,” Brown said regarding the legalization of sports gambling. “For me, I’m interested to hear from people who have that in their markets and how they’ve monetized that and the opportunity.”
No matter the content, though, dedicated sports radio listeners are genuinely consuming shows largely to hear certain talent. Brown recalls receiving a compliment on Twitter earlier this quarter where a listener commented that he listens to ESPN Los Angeles 710 specifically for Sedano and Kap. Evidently, it acted as a tangible sign that her philosophy centered around keeping people engrossed in the content is working, and that providing the audience what it wants to hear is conducive to success.
At this year’s BSM Summit, Brown will be participating on The Wheel of Content panel, presented by Core Image Studio, featuring ESPN analyst Mina Kimes and FOX Sports host Joy Taylor. Through their discussion, she intends to showcase a different perspective of what goes into content creation and the interaction that takes place between involved parties.
“A lot of times in the past, all the talent were on one panel; all the programmers were on one panel,” Brown said. “To put talent and a programmer together, I think it’s an opportunity for people to hear both sides on certain issues.”
According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM (terrestrial) radio among persons 18-34 has a greater average audience than television. The statistical anomaly, which was forecast several years earlier, came to fruition most likely due to emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Simultaneously, good content is required to captivate consumers, and radio, through quantifiable and qualifiable metrics, has been able to tailor its content to the listening audience and integrate it across multiple platforms of dissemination. The panel will give Brown a chance to speak in front of her peers and other industry professionals about changes in audio consumption, effectuated by emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Yet when it comes to radio as a whole, the patterns clearly point towards the proliferation of digital content – whether those be traditional radio programs or modernized podcasts. Moreover, utilizing various elements of presentation provides consumers a greater opportunity of finding and potentially engaging with the content.
“We do YouTube streaming; obviously, we stream on our app,” Brown said. “We’ve even created, at times, stream-only shows whether it’s stream-only video or stream-only on our app. We all know that people want content on-demand when they want it. I think it’s about giving them what they want.”
As a woman in sports media, Brown is cognizant about having to combat misogyny from those inside and outside of the industry, and is grateful to have had the support of many colleagues. In holding a management position in the second-largest media market in the United States, she strives to set a positive example to aspiring broadcasters. Additionally, she aims to be a trusted and accessible voice to help empower and give other women chances to work in the industry – even if she is not universally lauded.
“I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I’m no different than anyone else – yes, I’m a female – but I’m no different than anyone else,’” Brown expressed. “My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
Through attending events such as the BSM Summit and remaining immersed in sports media and the conversation at large about the future of sports media, Brown can roughly delineate how she can perform her job at a high level.
Although the genuine future of this business is always subject to change, she and her team at ESPN Los Angeles 710 are trying to come up with new ideas to keep the content timely, accurate, informative, and entertaining. She is content in her role as program director with no aspirations to become a general manager; however, remaining in her current role requires consistent effort and a penchant for learning.
“Relationships are very important overall in this business whether you’re a programmer or not,” Brown said. “Relationships with your talent; relationships with your staff. If you invest in your people, then they’re going to be willing to work hard for you and do what you ask them to do.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is mere days away, and those from Los Angeles and numerous other marketplaces will make the trip to The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC).
Aside from Brown, Kimes and Taylor, there will be other voices from across the industry sharing their thoughts on aspects of the industry and how to best shape it going forward, including Colin Cowherd, Rachel Nichols, Al Michaels and Eric Shanks. More details about the industry’s premiere media conference can be found at bsmsummit.com.
“I’m excited to be a female program director amongst male program directors for the first time and get a seat at the table and represent that there can be diversity in this position,” Brown said. “We don’t see a lot of it, but… there is an opportunity, and I hope I can be an example for other people out there [to show] that it’s possible.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he interns in video production with the New York Islanders and formerly worked as production manager for the team’s radio broadcasts. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Pat McAfee Has Thrown Our Business Into a Tailspin
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve, McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
When you have one of the hottest talk shows in America, you’re always up to something. That’s the case for the most popular sports talk show host in America – Pat McAfee.
The former Pro Bowl punter was on top of the world on Wednesday. With over 496,000 concurrent viewers watching at one point, McAfee was able to garner an exclusive interview with frequent guest Aaron Rodgers who announced his intention to play for the Jets.
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve — a new studio, consistent high viewership, a syndication deal with SportsGrid TV, a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel — McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
At the end of the day, he is human and he’s admitted that balancing his show, his ESPN gig with “College Gameday,” and his WWE obligations has taken a toll on him.
McAfee and his wife are expecting their first child soon and he recently told The New York Post he might step away from his deal with FanDuel. Operating his own company has come with the responsibility of making sure his studio is up and running, finding people to operate the technology that puts his show on the air, negotiating with huge behemoths like the NFL for game footage rights, booking guests, booking hotels, implementing marketing plans and other tasks that most on-air personalities rarely have to worry about.
McAfee says he’s looking for a network that would be able to take control of those duties while getting more rest and space to spend time with family while focusing strictly on hosting duties. FanDuel has its own network and has the money to fund such endeavors but is just getting started in the content game. McAfee needs a well-known entity to work with who can take his show to the next level while also honoring his wishes of keeping the show free on YouTube.
The question of how he’s going to be able to do it is something everyone in sports media will be watching. As The Post pointed out in their story, McAfee hasn’t frequently stayed with networks he’s been associated with in the past for too long. He’s worked with Westwood One, DAZN, and Barstool but hasn’t stayed for more than a year or two.
There’s an argument to be made that the latter two companies weren’t as experienced as a network when McAfee signed on with them compared to where they are today which could’ve pushed the host to leave. But at the end of the day, networks want to put money into long-term investments and it’s easy to see a network passing on working with McAfee for fear that he’ll leave them astray when he’s bored.
It’ll also be difficult for McAfee to find a network that doesn’t put him behind a paywall. Amazon and Google are rumored to be potential new homes. But both are trying to increase subscribers for their respective streaming services.
It will be difficult to sell Amazon on investing money to build a channel on YouTube – a rival platform. For Google, they may have the tech infrastructure to create television-like programming but they aren’t an experienced producer, they’ve never produced its own live, daily talk show, and investing in McAfee’s show doesn’t necessarily help increase the number of subscribers watching YouTube TV.
Networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox might make sense to partner with. But McAfee faces the possibility of being censored due to corporate interests. Each of these networks also operates its networks or streaming channels that air talk programming of their own. Investing in McAfee could cannibalize the programming they already own.
And if McAfee works with a traditional network that isn’t ESPN, it could jeopardize his ability to host game casts for Omaha or analyze games on Gameday. It’s not impossible but would definitely be awkward on days that McAfee does his show remotely from locations of ESPN games with ESPN banners and signage that is visible in the background.
If SportsGrid has the money to invest in McAfee, they might be his best bet. They have all the attributes McAfee needs and they already have a relationship with him. It is probably unlikely that he’ll be censored and he would even be able to maintain a relationship with FanDuel – a company SportsGrid also works alongside.
Roku is another option — they already work with Rich Eisen — but they would move his show away from YouTube, something McAfee should resist since the majority of smart TV users use YT more than any other app.
If the NFL gave McAfee editorial independence, they would make the perfect partner but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. NFL Media has independence but it was clear during the night of the Damar Hamlin incident that they will do whatever is necessary to stay away from serious topics that make the league look bad until it’s totally unavoidable.
It’s hard to think of a partner that matches up perfectly with McAfee’s aspirations. But once again, at the moment, he’s on top of the world so anything is possible. The talk show host’s next move will be even more interesting to watch than the other fascinating moves he’s already made that have put the sports media industry in a swivel.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit
“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”
Bring your game plan if you attend the BSM Summit in LA next Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter your purpose for attending: to learn, get a job, speak, or sell an idea, you must be able to read the room. To do that, it helps to know who will be there and how you can cure their pain.
Have a plan and don’t leave home without it. If you have time, buy How to Work a Room by Susan Roane. If you don’t, just follow these five tips:
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Before you arrive at The Summit, figure out what you want, who you want to meet, and what you will say. Once you get there, scout out the room and see if anyone of those people are available. Talk to speakers after they have spoken- don’t worry if you miss what the next speaker says. You are there to meet new people! Most speakers do not stick around for the entire schedule, and you don’t know if they will attend any after-parties, so don’t risk it. Refine your elevator pitch and break the ice with something you have in common. Make sure you introduce yourself to Stephanie, Demetri and Jason from BSM. They know everybody and will help you if they can.
- GET A NAME TAG: Don’t assume that name tags will be provided. Bring your own if you and make your name clear to read. If you are looking to move to LA or want to sell a system to book better guests, put it briefly under your name. Study this to get better at remembering names.
- LOSE THE NOTEBOOK: When you meet folks, ensure your hands are free. Have a business card handy and ask for one of theirs. Remember to look people in the eye and notice what they are doing. If they are scanning the room, pause until they realize they are blowing you off. Do whatever it takes to sound upbeat and open. Don’t let their clothes, hair, or piercings distract from your message. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie but do bring your best business casual wear. A blazer isn’t a bad idea either.
- SHUT UP FIRST! The art of knowing when to end the convo is something you will have to practice. You can tell when the other person’s eye starts darting or they are not using body language that tells you the convo will continue. You end it by telling them you appreciate meeting them and want to connect via email. Ask for a business card. Email is more challenging to ignore than a LinkedIn request, and you can be more detailed in what you want via email.
- WORK THE SCHEDULE: Know who speaks when. That is when you will find the speakers hanging around. Plan your lunch outing to include a few fellow attendees. Be open and conversational with those around you. I am a huge USC fan, so I would walk to McKays– a good spot with plenty of USC football memorabilia on the walls. Sometimes you can find the next day’s speakers at the Day 1 after party. Need a bar? Hit the 901 Club for cheap beer, drinks, and food.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
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