Are Guests A Good Use Of Your Listeners’ Time?
“Far too often, interviews feel more like I’m eavesdropping on a private conversation between two friends. Often, they are filled with inside jokes, personal stories, and pointless punchlines. Very rarely can they keep my interest.”
I was fortunate enough to get my first job producing a sports-talk show at the tender age of eighteen. How did I get the gig? I was able to show the Program Director at the time that I was an ace at hustling to book guests. I remember carrying a pager with me 24/7 (this was long before the era of smartphones). It would commonly go off when I was in the middle of a class at college. I’d duck out of the lecture hall, find the nearest payphone, and call back to make sure that we had our show booked for the following day.
No other show in town, in ANY format, drew the kind of guests that we did. It’s something that we hung our hat on. In fact, our General Manager once took out a full-page ad in the local paper that LISTED all the different sports celebs that were heard on our program.
Looking back on this a quarter century later, I realized just how folly this approach was.
Why did we trumpet our guest list so loudly? Because who we had on our show was the ONLY THING GOOD ABOUT OUR SHOW. Almost every other aspect of it was terrible. The lead host was lazy, unfunny, and routinely unprepared.
Even a quarter-century later, the overreliance on guests continues to plague sports sports-talk media. Interviews, with a few rare exceptions, are not great content.
MOST INTERVIEWS ARE SELF-INDULGENT
Oh, if I had a dime for every time I tuned into a sports-talk show where “Host A” spent the first 3-5 minutes of an interview talking about irrelevant blather with “Guest B”. If I did, I’d be able to single-handedly bring Dogecoin up to $1.
Far too often, interviews feel more like I’m eavesdropping on a private conversation between two friends. Often, they are filled with inside jokes, personal stories, and pointless punchlines. Very rarely can they keep my interest.
Time and time again, I feel that the host(s) seem to take delight into amusing themselves instead of entertaining and informing the listener.
I remember once hearing a guest who was brought on a show to talk about a MAJOR local sports story. He spent close to 5 minutes of the interview rambling on about the new book he was writing before even discussing what was important. AND THE HOST LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT.
MOST GUESTS GIVE YOU NOTHING
What is the point of getting a writer on to talk about a story they broke? Odds are this person has written, blogged, and tweeted about most of the relevant points already. What more can they bring to the table by appearing on a show to talk about it? Odds are, not much.
Coaches and athletes…with a RARE exception, give you platitudes of nothing. Most of them have been coached by public relations professionals on what to say, when to say it and how to control a conversation or narrative.
Before a guest is booked for a show, the question needs to be posed, “What will this person GIVE us?” Hosts, producers, and content managers need to answer that question honestly before they bring someone on.
LISTENERS WANT TO HEAR WHAT THE HOST HAS TO SAY
One of my favorite shows to listen to is The Valenti Show with Rico on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit. Yes, I’m a lifelong Lions fan and Monday shows after the typical Sunday loss are always a MUST listen. But even beyond that, the show is excellent. Mike Valenti and Rico Beard are A-level talents who have amazing chemistry and the cast they surround themselves with always bring great contributions to the table. Even on a slow day, they can create memorable content. It’s no wonder it frequently sits atop most (if not all) of the money demos in Detroit’s Neilson Ratings.
One other thing that stands out about this show…they RARELY have guests. They don’t need to. What they have to say about an issue or story is far more intriguing that what a guest could say. On the rare occasion when they do have a guest, it’s because of something very relevant and they waste no time getting to the heart of the matter.
The onus is ALWAYS on the host(s) to create good content. If the best part about a show is the guests that they bring on, you have a major problem on your hands. REAL talent doesn’t need guests. They can create good content with the tools they have at their disposal.
IF YOU MUST BOOK A GUEST, FOLLOW THESE STEPS.
- Get to the point.
No one cares that you know Celeb A, Athlete B or Journalist C. Start off talking about why you are having them on, get the info and insight you need and then hang up. It shouldn’t take longer than three minutes. If you want to have a more long-form conversation with someone, save it for a podcast…where tune-ins and time spent listening don’t matter.
- Get a good connection.
Stop getting guests on cell phones. We live in an age of 5G enabled devices with apps like Skype, Zoom, etc. that are free and provide studio quality audio. Use them so you can give the listener a better experience. There are few things that kill the momentum of a conversation than having to ask a guest to “call back so we can get a better connection.”
- Remember that there are exceptions.
Every now and again a guest will give you gold. I’ve heard it. Creating good content is an art, not a science. There have been interviews that have gone on for twenty, thirty, forty minutes or more and provided exclusive content that would become the talk of the town that day. Remember, these are the exceptions and not the rule. Hosts should always be given a degree of leeway in some situations when it comes to interviews. Leeway, however, should never become the norm.
Ryan Maguire is a columnist for BSM, and a longtime sports and news radio program director. He has managed KIRO-FM in Seattle, WQAM in Miami, 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, 610 Sports in Kansas City, and 105.7/1250 The Fan in Milwaukee. Presently, Ryan serves as the Executive Producer of Chicago White Sox baseball on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. Originally from Michigan, Ryan still holds out hope that the Detroit Lions will one day deliver a Super Bowl title. He can be reached on Twitter @RMaguire1701.
Jack Rose Wants to Create Sports Media’s Next Stars
“I thought there were a lot of untapped opportunities for personalities in the sports space to really go out on their own and build media businesses.”
While there are a plethora of people working in sports media, it is only a select few that have genuinely identified and attracted a bonafide target audience and proceeded to adopt them as their own. Yet what viewers often do not ponder over is how these personalities are able to amass a platform to allow them to stand out with agents, managers and consultants acting as decongestants to clear the fog surrounding talent. Jack Rose, who works for Silver Tribe Media, is one of those people behind the curtain that has helped those in the industry advance their careers, including Mina Kimes, Bomani Jones, PFT Commenter, and many more.
Silver Tribe Media is a talent management firm founded by Michael Klein, formerly a sports media agent at Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Klein started the company in June 2021 after several years in sports agency with MAXX Sports & Entertainment Group and CAA.
Based in Los Angeles, the company’s primary goal is to assist its clients in finding and making the most of opportunities in the industry to grow their audience. Later that year, Rose departed his job as manager of global platform and revenue innovation at DAZN to join Klein as Silver Tribe Media’s head of strategy and operations.
Klein and Rose previously worked together at CAA, where Rose began as an intern and worked as a sports media assistant. He remained situated there until March 2019 when he started working as a project coordinator with DAZN.
“I left CAA to join DAZN because I saw a great opportunity there to get really rich exposure of building a media network,” Rose explained, “but when Michael started to bring this idea to life in 2021, I was thrilled for the opportunity to join him…. I think we complement each other really well – he’s excellent at identifying talent; bringing in business; and sharing the story of what we do.”
In working at a startup company, Rose has a wide array of responsibilities to ensure the firm provides its clients with stellar service and support for their careers. An aspect within operations that has helped the company is he and Klein’s relationships that they previously built and maintained in the industry, effectively giving Silver Tribe Media a headstart in its network compared to other companies. As the axiom goes, “Your network is your net worth,” and Rose is always cognizant about finding ways to expand his for the good of the company.
Aside from working directly with clients, Rose oversees the expansion of Silver Tribe Media as a whole, working to manage the team so they can execute the mission of assisting clients in constructing their own brand and a concomitant, consistent and expanding audience. Returning on investment and legitimizing the trust their clients place in them is a fundamental aspect of cultivating means for proliferation.
“Every day is different, as I’m sure everyone’s job is, and it’s individualized with each client,” Rose said. “I try to spend my day thinking about our clients, what they need and executing on delivering all of our resources for those clients so we can help them grow most efficiently.”
Nick Khan, who Rose worked with in the sports media department at CAA, was someone who helped Rose become immersed and set a foundation in the industry. Through his mentorship and expertise, Rose became interested in entrepreneurship and discovered more about the nuance of sports media as a whole. Today, Khan serves as the CEO of WWE and responsible for making critical decisions as it pertains to the industry.
“I was lucky to watch him and learn from him while I was [at CAA], and since then I’ve been lucky to be in his orbit as well,” Rose said of Khan. “He understands the landscape of anything, but with sports media in particular, better than anyone else. His leaving CAA was really an inspiration to branch out and start something in this world.”
Before moving into sports media, Rose began working in entertainment through internships he completed while matriculating at the renowned S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, including with Conan and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Despite having an early interest in sports, he never worked in the industry itself until landing at CAA as an intern in the summer before his senior year of college. The experience effectively changed his mindset, serving as an epiphany of sorts, and compelled him to attempt building a career in sports media.
“I thought there were a lot of untapped opportunities for personalities in the sports space to really go out on their own and build media businesses,” Rose said. “I’ve always been a sports fan and curious about the business. It became clear to me that it was a path that I wanted to follow.”
Rose will be an attendee at the 2023 BSM Summit, with sessions beginning tomorrow morning from The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at USC. He attended last year’s BSM Summit held in New York where he was exposed to many key figures across the industry and is excited to rekindle, nurture and begin new relationships this year in his home marketplace.
“It was clear to me that if you work in sports media or in any of the businesses from radio, gambling, digital media; any of those spaces – it was clearly a must-attend event,” Rose said. “The people in that room last year were aspirational. Jason and his team have done a great job assembling big names and big executives and decision makers across our business.”
Attending the conference serves a dual purpose for Rose; not only will he be there to listen to panels and absorb new information, but he will also be interacting with existing and prospective clients. He is cognizant of the importance of being present at these events and is eagerly anticipating having the ability to greet people outside of a virtual setting.
At the same time, he is excited to listen to some of the top names in the industry – including Colin Cowherd, Joy Taylor, Jay Glazer, Jim Rome, Eric Shanks and Al Michaels – discuss the state of the business and what can be done to ensure continued maturation both quantifiably and qualitatively.
“We earn the business of our clients every single day, so it’s that motivating factor to keep doing that and helping build and grow for them,” Rose said. “It’s nice that it’s a measurable thing, whether it’s getting them a deal; landing a new sales client; helping them launch a new show; securing business. Whatever it might be, we try to do things every single day that are deliverable and actionable whether it’s big or small for our clients.”
Audio consumption has drastically changed over the last decade, affording people more opportunity and freedom to disseminate their viewpoints to an audience. The growth is substantiated primarily through digital platforms, even though terrestrial radio listenership in certain areas still remains strong.
In addition, podcasts have augmented in popularity because of their broad distribution and ability to discuss esoteric topics. The crux of the business is in being able to meet consumers where they are; keeping them informed and entertained; and urging them to come back for more. Executives at Silver Tribe Media believe that they can play a pivotal role in this process, expediting it for clients and their agents.
“We thought and continue to see an opportunity for managers to come in and work more closely with clients day-to-day alongside their agents and make sure we’re giving them the care that they need to really grow their business,” Rose expressed. “Our focus is on working alongside agents and agencies to help grow a business and doing other things than just deals and monetization.”
Cross-platform integration has bolstered the promulgation of content, allowing talent a more effective means to be discovered. The roadblock lies in the sheer numbers of people aiming to gain a foothold in the business, rendering the challenge of standing out more difficult even though it is easier to share content.
“In today’s world, you really need to have authority and authenticity,” Rose said. “Those are things that help build a tribe, which is obviously core to us and what we do.”
Working with clients and their agents in a management role is something Rose looks to continue to improve upon, and he enjoys doing it with people he can trust. Rose affirmed that the decision to join Klein at Silver Tribe Media was a “no-brainer” because of his experience and complementary skillset.
While some professionals in the industry have defined future goals, Rose is more focused on being a part of Silver Tribe Media and augmenting the company.
“My growth is entirely tied to Silver Tribe and our clients, as it should be,” Rose said. “If our clients succeed, Silver Tribe will succeed, and we will hopefully have had somewhat of a hand in our own clients’ success.”
Over the years, Rose has had memorable experiences in sports media through his work, including recently attending Super Bowl week in Phoenix, Ariz. When reflecting back on his previous experiences and looking to what will come next, he makes sure to remember the hard work associated with getting to the position he is in.
Simultaneously, he examines ways to maintain a growth mindset in accordance with Silver Tribe Media’s upwards trajectory. One can consider it a professional raison d’être; being part of Silver Tribe Media and helping its clients is where Rose’s future thoughts lie, part of the reason the company has emerged from the crowd.
This Wednesday, Rose will lead The Era of Personality-Led Audio Networks panel at the BSM Summit featuring Logan Swaim, head of content at The Volume; Mike Davis, President and Executive Producer at Dirty Mo Media; and Richelle Markazene, Head of Audio at Omaha Productions. Through their discussion, they will divulge insights and proficiencies into the future of audio networks and how their companies leverage their assets to stay ahead of the pack.
“Those folks and the businesses that they run are content creators who are really in the weeds of sports media, and I’m excited to have a good conversation with them about what’s working; what isn’t working; and where we’re going next,” Rose said. “The panel as a whole – the reason why I’m excited for it – is [that] it really hits on what we believe at Silver Tribe: that there are a handful of cut-through talent in this business who really command a tribe [and] an audience, and can grow businesses around them and the talent that they identify.”
As his time in sports media continues, Rose is optimistic about the future of audio consumption and sports media in its entirety and looks to have a hand in its evolution. He considers himself fortunate to be working in an industry that combines his alacrity for media and fervor for sports, always stopping to remind himself about the honor and privilege he has to be a leading voice in the trade.
His savvy and foresight will be on display at the BSM Summit this week in the “City of Angels,” a leading media marketplace where he turns professional dreams into legitimate possibilities and, hopefully, tangible realities.
“Working in this business is a ton of fun,” Rose said. “I love our clients; I’m lucky that some of them have become friends. I just want to do great work for our clients and [hopefully] that stays fun and… becomes lucrative as well.”
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.