Last week, we ran a story on the site about Bomani Jones criticizing an age old criticism. He said that Alejandro Villanueva was destined for sports radio greatness after the newest Baltimore Raven took a shot at former teammate Juju Smith-Schuster. Villanueva said receivers were divas. Jones said that criticism is lazy and outdated.
That got our wheels turning here at BSM. What are the topics and gimmicks that really, truly showcase just how lazy a radio show is in terms of topic selection and content execution?
This draft is staying in house. Jason Barrett, Jeff Caves, Ryan Maguire, Tyler McComas, Brian Noe, and Demetri Ravanos took turns drafting to each create a team of three insanely lazy examples of sports radio. Enjoy the results!
1. Demetri Ravanos – Locks
You HAVE to have some kind of gambling presence on your show these days, but there is nothing lazier than just telling me who you like against the spread. That is what the internet is for. When you talk gambling, you need to be creative and compelling so that even the guy that will never place a bet is still interested in what you have to say.
2. Jason Barrett – Mount Rushmore
How many times must hosts go to the well to execute a bit that has no payoff, no right answer, and little entertainment value? Anytime I hear this teased on a show, I know to tune out. It may have been cool in 2010-2015, but it’s a tired act in 2021. Great talent can find much better ways to entertain, inform and draw a reaction from their audience than busting out the Mount Rushmore of _____ bit.
3. Tyler McComas – GOAT Debates
We’re all guilty of this one, but if you’re still having segments debating who’s better between Jordan and Lebron, STOP! This argument has went on for so long, there’s nothing new to be added that we haven’t heard 10,000 times before. And plus, this whole conversation just screams of someone calling in and taking up 8 minutes of air time.
4. Brian Noe – Does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame?
It could be the most drawn out debate in the history of sports talk — brace yourself — should Pete Rose be in the Baseball Hall of Fame? There is no meat left on that bone. And it’s been that way for the past decade.
5. Jeff Caves – Asking listeners to respond to someone else’s column
When the local columnist does a hit piece , we don’t need to just ride that wave of controversy. Especially when we start reading from the article and defending it as if we wrote it. It is better to carve out our own conclusions and have a few points to back up our own opinion especially if it is different than the columnist.
6. Ryan Maguire – Ask me anything
Whenever I hear a host say this, it tells me that they have NOTHING to talk about. Listeners tune into a show because they want to listen and react to what a host has to say. Telling an audience that you have “open lines” is the epitome of mailing it in. Any host who thinks this is a good idea should probably go do something else for a living.
7. Ryan Maguire – Best sports movies
Caddyshack or Happy Gilmore? Field of Dreams or Moneyball? Rocky or Raging Bull? This was a great sports topic on a slow day 20 years ago. Now, it’s a major eye-roller as it’s been overdone more than a prison meatloaf. No one needs to listen to a radio show to get movie recommendations. Netflix and Amazon Prime do that for me every time I go online.
8. Jeff Caves – Favorite sports memory with Dad
When we troll for personal experiences from our audience it feels like we are one step removed from just turning over the show to the caller. I don’t think we would promo our show “coming up, your memories of your father, next! “ Would anybody really care about that? How will you interact with them? Gee wow that’s cool. That’s great. Etc, etc. Survey radio is so superficial. Stop it!
9. Brian Noe – Teasing phone calls
“Your calls next,” is easily the laziest tease in sports radio. It doesn’t even qualify as an actual tease. It’s a tease’s delinquent cousin that wasn’t invited to the party but somehow still showed up.
10. Tyler McComas – What’s on your Super Bowl plate?
This inevitably will take over some shows on Friday before the Super Bowl and the answers are ALWAYS the same. I’ve even heard some hosts use this same question for the National Championship in college football. What? Why? Look, chicken wings are great, but let’s use a little more originality than this topic the week of the biggest sporting event of the year, please.
11. Jason Barrett – MJ vs. LeBron
Why is it necessary to compare LeBron James to Michael Jordan every time he’s in the news? Are we that unwilling to dig deeper to create content involving the NBA’s most popular star? I get that it’s an easy way out. Mention this silly debate which has no right answer and watch the phone lines light up. But is that the goal of your show? If your measure of success is counting how many people lit the lines up, do this. If you’d rather keep the other 99% in your market listening to your show, steer clear of introducing the same tired debate and discussion.
12. Demetri Ravanos – Getting pissed at a player for holding out
If you are ever pro management/ownership in a labor dispute, then you are a bad person. But that’s not really my objection. Nothing screams that you are incapable of critical thought or too lazy to do anything more than pander than phrases like “I’d like to see him go to work at a real job, like we do” or “I could never tell my boss that I am not coming in until I get a raise”. Yeah, you couldn’t. You know why? No one is going to pay $100 to come watch you talk into a microphone, dummy.
13. Demetri Ravanos – Do you want Trent Dilfer’s career or Dan Marino’s?
The classic championship versus individual greatness debate. We only think it is worth debating because lazy hosts won’t stop doing it. If the choices are Dilfer or Marino and you pick Dilfer, you need a hug and for someone to tell you to value yourself. These “classic debates” are already mind-numbingly boring. They are so much worse when we have to bend over backwards to pretend the answer isn’t so obvious.
14. Jason Barrett – Open phones
How many times have you heard a host say this ‘whatever’s on your mind, dial us up and we’ll talk about it’? Open lines without direction makes a host sound reliant on the audience. It can work for talent with longstanding track records because people are so eager to connect with them, they’ll sit thru anything. But if you’re under 40-45 and trying to establish yourself, ‘is this really the path you want to explore when content options are available everywhere else?’ Connecting with people on the air can be entertaining. This isn’t a question of whether or not calls work. I’m in favor of audience involvement. Just lead them somewhere. Tell them what you’re interested in and what you need their input on. Don’t put the fate of your next 10 minutes in their hands and not know where your show is heading. You’re a talk show host, not a telephone operator.
15. Tyler McComas – Interviews with the opponent’s beat writer
I find that most beat writers aren’t very entertaining on the radio. That’s not meant to be a dig, their job is to be a great writer, not a great radio guest. Most of these interviews usually consist of info the hosts and fans already know. I’m not saying you shouldn’t interview someone from the other team, but try to be more unique than depending on the guy from the local newspaper.
16. Brian Noe – Hot takes
A hot take is seen as a tactic to get attention, but it’s more than that; it’s also a lazy way to generate content. Anybody can throw out something outlandish like, “Steph Curry is a system quarterback,” to knock out a few segments.
17. Jeff Caves – What’s your score prediction?
In one topic towns, often on Fridays, this “closest score prediction wins a prize on Monday” segment happens. It can go on for an hour. Each caller struggles to have the depth it takes to make a compelling reason for the outcome. Its like we are expecting 15 handicappers to call us and entertain the audience. Whats worse than too any handicappers on the air? Too many callers acting like handicappers on the air.
18. Ryan Maguire – Trivia
So, who led the American League in on-base percentage in 1978? Oh, the tension as you listen to the caller hem and haw while they try and Google the answer. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY…NO! Sports trivia used to be a popular feature on many shows years ago, now it’s just painful to listen to. If I wanted to play games, there are apps for that.
And there you have it. Hard to believe trivia lasted all the way to being Mr. Irrelevant in this draft! What a steal for Ryan Maguire. To recap, here are our teams.
- Blaming players for holding out
- Would you rather have Trent Dilfer’s career or Dan Marino’s?
- Mount Rushmore
- MJ vs. LeBron
- Open Phones
- GOAT debates
- What’s on your Super Bowl Plate?
- Interviewing the opponent’s beat writer
- Does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame?
- Teasing phone calls
- Hot takes
- Asking listeners to respond to someone else’s column
- Favorite sports memory with dad
- What’s your score prediction?
- Ask me anything
- Best sports movies
Now it is your turn to play Kiper and/or McShay. Who drafted the laziest team? Who lost? What can you believe did not get picked? Let us know in the comments or on social media.
Or if you are too lazy for that, just keep it in your head and know you’re right.
Adam The Bull Is Giving Cleveland Something It’s Never Had Before
“It was only more recently that I was like why do I have to only be a radio guy?”
After spending 22 years on the radio, Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber was ready for a new adventure. In fact, the former co-host of Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland did not have a new job lined up when he signed off from his 11-year radio home last month.
“I was already leaving without having a new project,” admitted Gerstenhaber during a recent phone interview with BSM. “I left before I knew for sure I had a ‘next project’.”
Gerstenhaber was preparing for his final show with co-host Dustin Fox on April 1st when he was contacted by an executive producer for TEGNA, a company that was developing a Cleveland sports television show on YouTube. The executive producer, who had just found out that Bull was a free agent, made it clear that he wanted Bull to be a part of the new project.
It all came together very quickly.
“Let’s talk on Monday,” Gerstenhaber told the executive producer. “And within a week they signed me up.”
The Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show on YouTube featuring Gerstenhaber, former ESPN personality Jay Crawford, 92.3 The Fan’s Garrett Bush, and rotating hosts to make up a four-person round-table show, made its debut last Monday. The show, which airs weekdays from 11am to 1pm, features passionate Cleveland sports talk, live guests, either in-studio or via Zoom, as well as interaction from the audience through social media.
“I’m very excited,” said Gerstenhaber. “It’s a definite adjustment for me after 22 years on radio doing television. For the last 11 years, I’ve been doing a radio show with just one other host and I was the lead guy doing most of the talking and now I’m on a show with three other people and it’s such an adjustment. So far, I’m having a ball.”
And so far, the reaction to the show has been very positive.
A big reason why is that it’s something that Cleveland didn’t have and really never had, unlike a city like New York, where there are local radio shows that are simulcast on regional sports channels.
“There’s nothing like that in Cleveland,” said Gerstenhaber. “And there was certainly nothing like this with a panel. Cleveland is such a massive sports town and now people that don’t live in Cleveland that are maybe retired in Florida or Arizona, now they actually have a TV show that they can watch that’s Cleveland-centric.”
The new venture certainly represents a big change in what Bull has been used to in his radio career. He’s enjoying the freedom of not having to follow a hard clock for this show. In fact, there have already been some occasions where the show has been able to go a little longer than scheduled because they have the flexibility to do that on YouTube.
Doing a show on YouTube gives the panel a great opportunity to go deep into topics and spend some quality time with guests. And while there is no cursing on the show at the moment, there could be the potential for that down the road.
Don’t expect the show is going to become X-rated or anything like that, but the objective is to be able to capture the spirit and emotion of being a sports fan and host.
“It’s something we may do in the future,” said Gerstenhaber. “Not curse just to curse but it gives us the option if we get fired up. It is allowed because there’s no restrictions there. The company doesn’t want us to do it at the moment.”
There’s also been the shift for Gerstenhaber from being the “point guard” on his old radio show, driving the conversation and doing most of the talking, to now taking a step back and having Crawford distributing the ball on the television show.
For a guy called “The Bull”, that will take some getting used to.
“Jay is a pro’s pro,” said Gerstenhaber. “He’s the point guard for this but he’s also part of the conversation. I’m not used to not being the point guard so I have to adjust to that. I think it’s gone pretty well and the chemistry is pretty good and with time we’ll get used to the flow of it.”
Gerstenhaber’s move from sports radio to an internet television show is a perfect example of how the industry is changing. A good portion of the listening and viewing audience these days, especially those in the younger demographic, are not necessarily watching traditional television or listening to terrestrial radio. For a lot of sports fans, watching and listening on a mobile device or a computer has become a very important way of life.
The desire to adapt, along with a shorter workday, was very enticing to him.
“It was only more recently that I was like why do I have to only be a radio guy?” wondered Gerstenhaber. “There were things about my job that I was unhappy about. I was doing a five-hour radio show. It’s too long. That’s crazy. Nobody should be doing a five-hour radio show at this point.”
Broadcasting on the internet has arrived and it’s not just a couple of sports fans doing a show from their garage anymore. The business has evolved to the point where the technology has provided more opportunities for those who have already enjoyed success in the industry and are looking for new challenges.
Kind of like Adam The Bull!
“I think years ago, probably like many people in the radio business, we looked at internet and podcasts as like whatever…those guys aren’t professionals…they’re amateurs,” said Gerstenhaber. “But the game has changed.”
Gerstenhaber, Crawford and everyone associated with the “Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show” should not have much of a problem attracting the younger audience. That demographic is already accustomed to watching shows on YouTube and other streaming platforms. The challenge now is to get the more mature audience on board. There are certainly some obstacles there.
I know this from experience with trying to explain to my mother in Florida how she can hear me on the radio and watch me on television simply by using her tablet.
Bull can certainly relate to that.
“My mother is still trying to figure out how to watch the show live,” said Gerstenhaber with a chuckle. “The older fans struggle with that. A lot of my older fans here in Cleveland are like how do I watch it? For people that are under 40 and certainly people that under 30, watching a YouTube show is like okay I watch everything on my phone or device. It’s such a divide and obviously as the years go by, that group will increase.”
With the television show off and running, Gerstenhaber still has a passion for his roots and that’s the radio side of the business. In the next couple of weeks, “The Bull” is set to announce the launch of two podcasts, one daily and one weekly, that will begin next month. But he also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to terrestrial radio at some point.
“I have not closed the door to radio,” said Gerstenhaber. “I still love radio. I would still, in the right set of circumstances, consider going back to radio but it would have to really be the perfect situation. I’m excited about (the television show) and right now I don’t want to do anything else but I’m certainly going to remain open-minded to radio if a really excellent opportunity came up.”
The landscape of the broadcasting industry, particularly when it comes to sports, has certainly changed over the years and continues to evolve. Adam Gerstenhaber certainly enjoyed a tremendous amount of success on the radio side, both in New York and in Cleveland, but now he has made the transition to something new with the YouTube television show and he’s committed to making it a success.
Why You Should Be Making Great TikTok Content
“We’re specially trained in the world of TSL (time spent listening), and the longer people view your content on TikTok, the more the app rewards you by shoving your content into more and more feeds.”
It feels like there’s a new social media platform to pay attention to every other week. That makes it easy to overlook when one of them actually presents value to your brand. It wasn’t long ago that TikTok was primarily used by teenagers with the focus being silly dance trends filmed for video consumption with their friends and followers alike. Now, as the general public has become in tune with how this complicated app works, it’s grown far beyond that.
TikTok is now an app used by all types of demographics and unlike TikTok’s closely related cousins Instagram and Facebook, this app provides a certain type of nuance that I think people in our line of work can really excel in.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of how you can use TikTok to your advantage and how to make your videos catch on, I think it’s important to first mention why this matters for you. Now, if I’m being realistic, I’m sure there are some that have already stopped reading this or those that could scroll away fast enough when they saw the words TikTok. You might be thinking that this doesn’t fit your demo, or maybe that it’s a waste of time because productivity here won’t directly lead to an uptick in Nielsen ratings. But I’m not sure any social network directly leads to what we ultimately get judged on, and we aren’t always pumping out content directly to our core audience.
TikTok, like any other app you may use, is marketing. This is another free tool to let people out there know who you are and what you offer in this endless sea of content. And the beauty of TikTok is that it directly caters its algorithm to content creators just like us. Bottom line, if you are a personality in sports talk, there’s no reason you can’t be crushing it on TikTok right now. All it takes is a little direction, focus, consistency, and a plan.
Unlike Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where you can throw a photo up with a caption and be done for the day, TikTok’s whole model is built on creative videos that keep users engaged for longer periods of time. This approach works. According to Oberlo, a social media stat tracking site, people spend more time per day on TikTok than any other popular social media application. 38 minutes per day!
This is where this is good news for us in talk radio. We’re specially trained in the world of TSL (time spent listening), and the longer people view your content on TikTok, the more the app rewards you by shoving your content into more and more feeds. TikTok’s algorithm doesn’t care how many followers you have, your level of credibility, or the production on your video. All ir cares about is 1) Is your content good. and 2) Are people watching it. 3) How long are they watching it. The more people watch and the longer they watch creates a snowball effect. Your videos views will skyrocket, sometimes within hours.
So, how do you create content that will catch on? It’s really not all that different than what you do every day. Create thought-provoking commentary that makes people think, argue, or stay till the end to get the info you teased up for them. I’ve found through my own trial and error that it’s best if you stay away from time-sensitive material, I’ve had more success the more evergreen my content is. That way, the shelf life expands beyond just that day or week. This is different for everyone and there’s no one-size-fits-all, but this is where I’ve seen the most success.
Also, put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to say something that people are going to vehemently disagree with. Again, it’s not unlike what we do every day. It’s one thing to get someone to listen, it’s another to get them to engage. Once they hit you in the comment section, you’ve got them hooked. Comments breed more views and on and on. But don’t just let those sit there, even the smallest interaction back like a shoulder shrug emoji can go a long way in creating more play for your video.
If you want to grow quickly, create a niche for yourself. The best content creators that I follow on TikTok all put out very similar content for most of their videos. This means, unlike Instagram where it’s great to show what a wildly interesting and eclectic person you are, TikTok users want to know what they’re getting the second your face pops up on that screen. So if you are the sports history guy, be the sports history guy all the time. If you are the top 5 list guy, be the top 5 list guy all the time, and on and on, you get the point.
Other simple tricks:
- Splice small videos together. Don’t shoot one long video.
- 90 seconds to 2 minutes is a sweet spot amount of time.
- Add a soft layer of background instrumental music (this feature is found in the app when you are putting the finishing touches on your video)
- Label your video across the screen at the start and time it out so that it disappears seconds later. This way a user gets an idea of what the content is immediately and then can focus on you delivering your message thereafter.
- Research trending hashtags, they are far more important than whatever you caption your video.
- Use closed captions so that people can follow your video without sound.
Finally, don’t be intimidated by it or snub your nose at it. Anything that helps your brand is worth doing and anything worth doing is worth doing well.
Does Tom Brady’s Salary Make Sense For FOX In a Changing Media World?
“The risk here doesn’t have to do with Brady specifically, but rather the business of televising football games in general.”
FOX is playing it too safe when it comes to adding Tom Brady.
That’s going to sound weird given the size of Brady’s broadcasting contract. Even if that deal isn’t worth as much as initially reported, it’s a hell of a lot of loot, especially considering Brady has remained steadfastly uninteresting for a solid 20 years now.
Let’s not pretend that is a detriment in the eyes of a television network, however. There’s a long line of famous athletes companies like FOX have happily paid millions without ever requiring them to be much more than consistently inoffensive and occasionally insightful. Yes, Brady is getting more money than those previous guys, but he’s also the most successful quarterback in NFL history.
The risk here doesn’t have to do with Brady specifically, but rather the business of televising football games in general. More specifically, the fact that the business of televising football games is changing, and while it may not be changing quite as rapidly as the rest of the sports-media industry, but it is changing. There’s an increasing number of choices available to viewers not only in the games that can be watched, but how they are consumed. Everything in the industry points to an increasingly fragmented audience and yet by signing Brady to be in the broadcast booth once he retires, FOX is paying a premium for a single component in a tried-and-true broadcasting formula will be more successful.
Think of Brady’s hiring as a bet FOX made. A 10-year commitment in which it is doubling down on the status quo at a time of obvious change. FOX saw ESPN introduce the ManningCast last year, and instead of seeing the potential for a network to build different types of products, FOX decided, “Nah, we don’t want to do anything different or new.” Don’t let the price tag fool you. FOX went out and bought a really famous former player to put in a traditional broadcast booth to hope that the center holds..
Maybe it will. Maybe Brady is that interesting or he’s that famous and his presence is powerful enough to defy the trends within the industry. I’m not naive enough to think that value depends on the quality of someone’s content. The memoir of a former U.S. president will fetch a multi-million-dollar advance not because of the literary quality, but because of the size of the potential audience. It’s the same rationale behind FOX’s addition of Brady.
But don’t mistake an expensive addition from an innovative one. The ManningCast was an actual innovation. A totally different way of televising a football game, and while not everyone liked it, some people absolutely loved it. It’s not going to replace the regular Monday Night Football format, but it wasn’t supposed to. It’s an alternative or more likely a complement and ESPN was sufficiently encouraged to extend the ManningCast through 2024. It’s a different product. Another option it is offering its customers. You can choose to watch to the traditional broadcast format with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth or you can watch the Mannings or you can toggle between both. What’s FOX’s option for those audience members who prefer something like the ManningCast to the traditional broadcast?
It’s not just ESPN, either. Amazon offered viewers a choice of broadcasters, too, from a female announcing tandem of Hannah Storm and Andrea Kramer beginning in 2018 to the Scouts Feed with Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks in 2020.
So now, not only do viewers have an increasingly wide array of choices on which NFL games they can watch — thanks to Sunday Ticket — they in some instances have a choice of the announcing crew for that given game. Amid this economic environment, FOX not only decided that it was best to invest in a single product, but it decided to make that investment in a guy who had never done this particular job before nor shown much in the way of an aptitude for it.
Again, maybe Brady is the guy to pull it off. He’s certainly famous enough. His seven Super Bowl victories are unmatched and span two franchises, and while he’s denied most attempts to be anything approaching interesting in public over the past 20 years, perhaps that is changing. His increasingly amusing Twitter posts over the past 2 years could be a hint of the humor he’s going to bring to the broadcast booth. That Tampa Tom is his true personality, which remained under a gag order from the Sith Lord Bill Belichick, and now Brady will suddenly become football’s equivalent of Charles Barkley.
But that’s a hell of a needle to thread for anyone, even someone as famous as Brady, and it’s a really high bar for someone with no broadcasting experience. The upside for FOX is that its traditional approach holds. The downside, however, is that it is not only spending more money on a product with a declining market, but it is ignoring obvious trends within the industry as it does so.