Sports Radio News
McCown Shares Broadcasting Tips
Bob McCown, the famously cantankerous broadcaster, just marked 25 years as the host of Prime Time Sports. He has interviewed legends, earned his own nickname (“The Bobcat”) and has hung up on more than a couple of notable callers. Lately McCown has been focused on brand expansion, launching his own production company and buying Stoney Ridge Estate Winery in Ontario’s Niagara region. Here he shares some of the secrets to his success, and explains that he’s not really a jerk (he only plays one on the radio).
New passions fuel old projects
Over the past few years, friends were always saying to me that I should be “expanding my brand.” I didn’t really think much of it at first, but then about three years ago I made a list of other sorts of projects that I might be interested in getting involved in. I picked my two favorites, which were to form my own production company and to own a winery. I did both of those things, launching Fadoo Productions and buying Stoney Ridge Winery. Both have been going even better than I could have predicted. The production company recently shot the new Rush concert video which went to No. 1 on Billboard the first week it was out. It’s funny because the whole reason for starting these projects was to see if the value of this brand I had created could translate to ventures outside of broadcasting, but what I didn’t realize was how being part of new projects would contribute to my existing work. It’s not something you can quantify, but there is no question that I was at a point where the broadcasting was feeling a bit like an assembly line. Now I go into the workday feeling so energized and excited. Putting yourself in unfamiliar territory will do that.
They don’t have to love you, as long as they listen
When I started the radio show I was relying on my knowledge of sports. I thought that was what qualified me to be on the air, but I soon figured out that that wasn’t the way this industry works. I remember one night where I finished a tough show and came to this realization that despite my knowledge base, I simply wasn’t an interesting enough person to compel people to listen to me. So instead of focusing on being the authority, I started to think about the job in terms of acting. I thought about Robert De Niro in some great movie – that’s not him, that’s his character. To create my own character I literally sat down with a pen and paper and made a list of characteristics. I decided this guy would be a know-it-all – impatient, arrogant, obnoxious. Of course there was the possibility that he might anger people so much they wouldn’t listen, but they weren’t listening anyway, so it wasn’t a big risk. The very next night “Home Bob” left and “Show Bob” showed up. I would hang up on people, insult people on the air. And you know, success came almost immediately. People didn’t like me, but they listened.
The best preparation is an open ear
I’ve never gone into an interview with a list of questions. I may have a direction that I want to go in, but my philosophy for a long time now has been that an interview is nothing more than a conversation, and a conversation is predicated on reacting, rather than planning. The key is not to be so caught up in your own role that you lose the ability to listen. Same thing with a list of questions – if you have them in front of you then invariably you’re thinking about the next question rather than listening to the answer. The answer will give you the next question and then that answer will give you the question after that. The subject’s response always sets the road map for the interview. After it’s over, someone might ask me, “Did you get what you wanted?” and I’ll say, well I didn’t know what I wanted, but I got something. And it was a real conversation. For me, that’s the goal.
Silence is golden
I never went to broadcast school, but as far as I know they still teach this concept that dead air is a terrible thing and that as a radio host, your most important function is to fill it. I totally disagree. For me a silence in an interview can be a dramatic pause – either an exclamation point or a “dot, dot, dot” like a drumroll. People don’t change the channel. If anything they turn up the volume to see what’s coming. In an interview the willingness to be silent is a great technique for getting your subject to go off script. Let’s say someone has given me an answer and it’s the typical, party line kind of stuff that they always say. When they finish talking I will just wait. The silence makes most people uncomfortable and they will feel like it’s their job to fill the space. That’s when you get the good stuff – when they’re scrambling and saying things that they didn’t prepare. You get that one unexpected nugget and then, as a host, you attack.
It’s not a gimmick!
It’s funny because I’m sure a lot of people think that the sunglasses thing was a planned gimmick or me trying to look Hollywood. In fact they are a totally practical measure. When we started to simulcast the show on television, we began shooting in a room with a bunch of very bright lights. We were doing a week of testing before the TV broadcast actually started and on that first Monday I got the most brutal headache. The same thing happened on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. I honestly thought I might have a tumour and then on Thursday, I was driving into work and it happened to be a really sunny day, so I was wearing my sunglasses and I just forgot to take them off when we were filming and of course – no headache. I’ve been wearing them ever since. Most people who have achieved a level of recognition wear sunglasses to hide their identity. For me, if I want to go unnoticed, I take the glasses off.
Confidence trumps knowledge
I don’t watch anywhere near as much sports as I used to and mostly I don’t talk about the things that other sports talk-show hosts address: Who’s going to play left wing? How did the quarterback play last night? I find all of that stuff boring. I’m more interested in the relationship between sports and business, rule changes, societal pressures. When I first started, I felt like I had to watch absolutely everything. Now I have a comfort level where if someone mentions last night’s game, I’ll say, well I didn’t see last night’s game. Why don’t you tell me about it and we can talk about it. I’ve also stopped talking to athletes almost entirely. An athlete only becomes interesting after they retire. They all go to media school – they learn the catchphrases. Go watch Bull Durham and how Crash Davis teaches him what to say in an interview. There are only a few phrases – play hard, give 110 per cent – that’s what you get. It’s a waste of time. For me the big get is the commissioner, owner, head of the television network.
Credit to the Globe and Mail who originally published this article
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports Radio News
Chase McCabe Named Director of Operations & Sports Programming at Cromwell
“Our owner, Bud Walters, opened the door for me almost 12 years ago as an intern and I’m honored to continue to be a key member of the Nashville leadership team.”
Congratulations are in order for Chase McCabe. He is adding a new title to his already full plate at Cromwell Media in Nashville. He has been promoted to Director of Operations & Sports Programming at the company.
“I’m very fortunate to have been to be able to grow into this opportunity under one roof,” McCabe said in a press release. “Our owner, Bud Walters, opened the door for me almost 12 years ago as an intern and I’m honored to continue to be a key member of the Nashville leadership team. I am forever grateful, but none of this could have happened without the great group of people we have here at Cromwell Media.”
McCabe has spent his whole career with 102.5 The Game and its sister station, now called 94.9 The Fan. He was named Program Director and Brand Manager of the stations in January of last year. He has maintained an on-air presence as well. He hosts Chase & Michelle weekdays at 9 AM on The Game.
In his new role, Chase McCabe becomes the number two man in Cromwell’s Nashville building. Shawn Fort was recently named the cluster’s general manager.
“Chase and I have developed a great working relationship in the two and half years since I’ve joined Cromwell Media,” Fort said. “We share similar visions on how to create compelling sports programming all while driving revenue growth. I’m excited to have Chase as my right-hand man as we move forward together with this new chapter of leadership at Cromwell Media Nashville.”
Sports Radio News
Mark Schlereth: People Outside of Denver Aren’t Paying Attention to NBA Finals
“There was not one group of people – they’re all in there together – that was paying attention to the NBA Finals.”
The Denver Nuggets took to the National Basketball Association’s largest stage on Thursday night as they defeated the Miami Heat for the organization’s first-ever NBA Finals victory. Early reports reveal that the game had a 2.21 demographic rating between people ages 18-49, attracting a total of 7.62 million viewers on ABC. The figure is considerably lower than the audience for Game 1 between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors last year – which averaged 11.9 million figures across ABC and ESPN2. Ratings for the alternate NBA in Stephen A’s World broadcast Thursday night on ESPN2 have not yet been released by Nielsen Media Research.
Sports fans in the Denver market have felt as if the play of the Nuggets was largely being neglected by the national media throughout these playoffs. Now that the team is the last one standing in the Western Conference, there is no one else to focus on and their play is beginning to be realized by basketball fans throughout the country. It is a narrative that Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan’s Mark Schlereth and Mike Evans felt was especially obvious by watching the press conferences after the game. The duo was able to deduce as such through the questions posed to Nuggets players and head coach Michael Malone by members of the media cohort.
“The national media – it’s like, ‘Oh, wow. We’re just kind of becoming aware of how these guys play,’ and they keep asking the Nuggets about their unselfishness and how everybody is willing to share the ball,” Evans said. “Nikola Jokić [is] being asked about not taking a lot of shots, and they’re all just kind of shrugging their shoulders like, ‘Yeah, this is who we are. We’ve been doing this for a long time.’
Schlereth was curious to find out the ratings from the game last night because he watched the game from a sports bar in Chicago. He is away from Denver, Colo. to help his son’s family move there for the summer and surmises there were about 50 people in the bar with him. What he noticed was that their interest was fixated elsewhere.
“I’m the only person that was watching the Nuggets,” Schlereth said. “There was not one group of people – they’re all in there together – that was paying attention to the NBA Finals.”
“Their loss,” Evans pithily replied.
Denver ranks 19th on Nielsen Media Research’s metropolitan market size list, but the Nuggets have been a contending team for the last five seasons. Most media analysts expect diminished ratings for the NBA Finals this year because of the lack of a storied franchise, even with the Miami Heat as the team’s opponent.
Sports Radio News
Nielsen Releases List of Markets Where Most People Use AM Radio
“In a recent survey, Nielsen Media Research found that AM radio still reaches over 82.3 million Americans on a monthly basis”
Amid concerns regarding the future of AM radio, Nielsen Media Research has unveiled a list of 141 markets where at least 20% of consumers regularly listen to programming on the medium. The list is reflective of the percentage of monthly total radio listening being funneled to AM as opposed to total radio listening as a whole. The top three markets are all in the Great Lakes region, and Westwood One has found large proportions of these listeners are derived from the upper Midwest.
Buffalo-Niagara Falls leads the list with 56% of its audience tuning into AM radio in a month. It is a figure that makes sense based on the variety of AM stations, including leading news talk outlet WBEN and leading sports outlet WGR. The city of Chicago is ranked second, complete with 670 The Score, WGN and WLS. Nearby Milwaukee, Wis. ranks third on the list, another city with various AM stations such as WTMJ and WISN.
In a recent survey, Nielsen Media Research found that AM radio still reaches over 82.3 million Americans on a monthly basis – a measurement that equates to one-third of AM/FM radio listeners as a whole. Fifty-seven percent of the audience listens to stations in the news and/or talk format, utilizing the public service the outlets provide to learn of breaking news and other concerns.
There is a wide variety in market size represented throughout the list, but a trend of markets with undulating topographies tends to have larger shares of AM listeners because of the challenges the landscape presents to FM signals.
The full list compiled by Nielsen Media Research can be found below:
|Metro market rank||Market name||Percentage of radio audience that listens to AM radio|
|59||Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY||56%|
|3||Chicago, IL [PPM]||48%|
|43||Milwaukee-Racine, WI [PPM]||48%|
|253||Grand Forks, ND-MN||45%|
|39||San Jose, CA [PPM]||43%|
|33||Cincinnati, OH [PPM]||42%|
|11||Seattle-Tacoma, WA [PPM]||42%|
|187||St. Cloud, MN||41%|
|75||Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA||39%|
|4||San Francisco, CA [PPM]||39%|
|244||Sioux City, IA||38%|
|25||San Antonio, TX [PPM]||38%|
|7||Atlanta, GA [PPM]||38%|
|176||Wausau-Stevens Pt (Centrl WI), WI||36%|
|114||Johnson City-Kingspt-Brstl, TN-VA||36%|
|27||Salt Lake City-Ogden-Provo [PPM]||36%|
|202||Cedar Rapids, IA||35%|
|34||Kansas City, KS-MO [PPM]||35%|
|71||Des Moines, IA||34%|
|73||Metro Fairfield County, CT||33%|
|231||Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA||32%|
|13||Phoenix, AZ [PPM]||32%|
|12||Miami-Ft Lauderdale-Hollywood [PPM]||32%|
|9||Philadelphia, PA [PPM]||32%|
|28||Sacramento, CA [PPM]||32%|
|15||Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN [PPM]||31%|
|2||Los Angeles, CA [PPM]||31%|
|5||Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX [PPM]||31%|
|68||Grand Rapids, MI||31%|
|223||Eau Claire, WI||30%|
|20||Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island) [PPM]||30%|
|14||Detroit, MI [PPM]||29%|
|30||Orlando, FL [PPM]||29%|
|10||Boston, MA [PPM]||29%|
|189||Bryan-College Station, TX||29%|
|18||Denver-Boulder, CO [PPM]||28%|
|41||Hudson Valley, NY||28%|
|17||Tampa-St Petersburg-Clearwater [PPM]||28%|
|116||Ft. Wayne, IN||27%|
|35||Cleveland, OH [PPM]||27%|
|22||Portland, OR [PPM]||27%|
|183||Green Bay, WI||27%|
|6||Houston-Galveston, TX [PPM]||26%|
|54||Hartford-New Britain-Middletown [PPM]||26%|
|175||Sioux Falls, SD||25%|
|180||Lima-Van Wert, OH||25%|
|1||New York, NY [PPM]||25%|
|119||Corpus Christi, TX||25%|
|237||Grand Island-Kearney-Hastngs, NE||25%|
|51||Memphis, TN [PPM]||25%|
|151||Ann Arbor, MI||24%|
|208||Las Cruces-Deming, NM||24%|
|178||Traverse City-Petoskey, MI||24%|
|87||Colorado Springs, CO||24%|
|126||New Haven, CT||22%|
|79||Wilkes Barre-Scranton, PA||22%|
|29||Austin, TX [PPM]||22%|
|24||St. Louis, MO [PPM]||22%|
|23||Baltimore, MD [PPM]||22%|
|77||Baton Rouge, LA||21%|
|205||Santa Barbara, CA||21%|
|50||New Orleans, LA||20%|
|19||San Diego, CA [PPM]||20%|
|32||Las Vegas, NV [PPM]||20%|
|37||Raleigh-Durham, NC [PPM]||20%|