Connect with us

BSM Writers

Radio Cannot Make The Same Mistake Newspapers Did

“I’m resisting a very deep urge to quote Winston Churchill about how those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Published

on

For years, newspapers posted their stories on the Internet, believing that making their print product available in a digital format was innovative.

And it was to a certain extent. It took one piece of content — a story or column — and turned it into two products. One was published in newsprint, essentially the packaging used to deliver the advertising that provided the newspaper’s real revenue. The other story was posted online, which is where everyone knew that daily journalism would be consumed at some point in the future once all the readers who preferred newspapers literally died off.

Sorry, that was a bit grim.

This was an understandable decision: The newspaper was the core business, and while everyone knew the Internet was the future, the print product was providing almost all the revenue. So newspapers trudged on, hoping that they’d have a functioning business model for the Internet by the time they really needed it all the while continuing to churn out content for the legacy business they knew had an expiration date.

Sound familiar? It should. Substitute “terrestrial radio” for newspaper, and “podcast” for Internet.

We all know where the industry is headed, right? It would require willful ignorance not to at this point.

Sports podcast downloads doubled year-over-year” read the story last from Jordan Bondurant right here at BarrettSportsMedia.com. “Here’s why talk radio needs to embrace podcasting” implored the headline at InsideRadio.com earlier this month. That story cited a study showing that of the spoken-word content consumed by individuals ages 13 to 24, 35 percent came via podcast and 16 percent over AM/FM radio.

The question isn’t whether podcasts are going to become the dominant medium, but when. The problem that the talk radio industry is currently grappling with is what to do in the meantime while terrestrial radio is still paying the freight. I’m sorry to tell you this, but the fight’s only going to get tougher.

I speak from experience here. I worked as a newspaper reporter in Seattle from 1999 to 2013, and as a history major, I’m resisting a very deep urge to quote Winston Churchill about how those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Crap. Too late.

Now, these are different businesses, radio and newspapers, but there are some similarities, too. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to offer a series of observations that I believe will help both programmers and hosts avoid some of the detours and mistakes that newspapers made over the past 20 years. I’ll start today with a very simple fact: Podcasts and radio shows are two very different products.

Now, if I may, an equally simple suggestion: Don’t do what newspapers did. More specifically, don’t continue to emphasize your legacy product (terrestrial radio) to the point that you fail to understand and engineer the new product (podcasts).

You might think you’re already developing your podcasts. However, just because you can post your three-hour radio show on a website for listeners to download does not make it a podcast. These are different products, and while they may sound similar and contain similar content, they function very differently for the listener for one very simple reason: All podcast listeners start at the same point and move in a straight line through your program. On a radio show: You have people joining and exiting all the time. It’s like a freeway. In contrast, a podcast is more like a tunnel where teases and summaries are wasted time, breaking news is an oxymoron. You start at the beginning and continue until you decide to stop.

Currently, radio stations bridge this gap by posting the radio show as a podcast, which provides a certain amount of efficiency. You get two products to sell from one show. Sound familiar? It’s how newspapers saw their articles when they started posting them online. And it works. To a certain extent.

But what the experience of newspapers should teach us is that this is a Band-aid, though, not a viable long-term arrangement.

The most important pieces of content in a printed newspaper — the columns, the more thoughtful, nuanced and longer stories — are not the most important pieces of content for an online news publication. The most important type of content for an online news publication — thorough, almost obsessive content, frequent updates — are not the most important pieces of content for the daily newspaper.

You end up with two businesses, in effect, one whose audience is effectively shrinking, the other whose audience is growing, and in the case of newspapers, many of the resources remained aimed at the audience that was declining. It should be fairly obvious why this does not make a ton of sense.

The moral of this story is not to slash-and-burn the legacy product be it newspapers or terrestrial radio. These are not just profitable businesses, they are the backbone of the current revenue stream. They should not be abandoned or undercut until you KNOW the financial model you’re moving, too.

What I am saying is that you should recognize the way your product is going to change though and start to not just adapt but increasingly incorporate it into your daily business. We post radio shows as podcasts even as we know the limitations, but why can’t you conceive and build a podcast that you then modify so it can also air as a show on terrestrial radio?

It will take some tweaks. You’ll need the teases and summaries that are necessary to keep listeners or catch them up. You’ll need news updates to keep it current. You’ll need to break up a 45-minute deep dive into one subject into four, maybe even five segments.

There are downsides to this. You’re building a product whose primary use is oriented toward the future instead of the present. The upside is that you’re adjusting your business to the format we all know is coming, and in the meantime, maximizing the return by incorporating it into the legacy product.

But more than anything, podcasts are where the growth in this industry will be. It would be stupid not to start developing content that is designed to work in that format. 

BSM Writers

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.

Published

on

WRONG BAD

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.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

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.

Jeff Caves

Published

on

Radio Sales

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.  

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.