Grease those light poles! For the second time in two months the city of Philadelphia has a championship to celebrate and utility poles to grease up to discourage fans from climbing them. It started with the Eagles winning Super Bowl LII in early February. Up next were the Villanova Wildcats who smacked around Michigan 79-62 to win a national title on Monday night. Maybe the Philadelphia 76ers can convince Crisco to sponsor those 2.5-inch jersey ads to bring them championship luck too.
Donte DiVincenzo was magnificent against Michigan. “The Michael Jordan of Delaware” became the new-school version of Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson. His 31 points marked the highest total scored by a bench player in National Championship Game history. DiVincenzo was also named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
Charles Barkley made an interesting point after the game that Villanova’s defense is often undersold because they’re such an offensive juggernaut. It really is true. There is a Warriors quality to Villanova — they both play excellent defense, but that isn’t the primary strength either team is known for. They’re known for their offensive dominance before anything else. It got me thinking about sports radio hosts — what they’re primarily known for, and what control they have over those perceptions.
I believe that a strength often makes a weakness appear even weaker. Take Carmelo Anthony for instance. Melo was a great offensive player in his prime. He was never close to a great defender, but his great scoring ability made his defensive skills appear even worse than they actually were. It works the same way with radio hosts. A host that is a deep thinker might appear to be stiff. A host that is hilarious might appear to lack the ability of saying anything thought-provoking.
It’s a shame that a host’s secondary strength might appear weaker than it actually is. That’s the way the sports talk cookie crumbles though. There is only so much that can be done about certain perceptions lining up with reality. However, hosts are far from powerless. A host has absolute control over a much more important category — avoiding a bad reputation.
San Diego host Kevin Klein was set to launch a new show on “97.3 The Machine.” Klein tweeted a picture of the Coronado Bridge that included the words, “JUMP to a new morning show.” Sadly that’s the same bridge where hundreds of people have “jumped” to their death while committing suicide. The tweet ticked off the San Diego Padres while several San Diegans voiced their displeasure as well.
Kevin Klein’s show was supposed to debut last Thursday (3/29). His status remains uncertain as the new show still hasn’t hit the airwaves. Look, I don’t know this guy. I would hate for his career to go sideways because of one tweet, but it shows how easily a reputation can be impacted. It’s scary to think that one mistake can undo all of the hard work that goes into building a solid reputation. A host can battle everyday — put in the hard work and generate great content only to wipe it all away with one dumb move.
Klein isn’t the first host to fail at thinking things through and he won’t be the last. The question in my mind becomes — what’s an easy way to think things through so mistakes are avoided before they even happen? Where is the line between coming up with edgy content that’s permissible and risky content that’ll either get you fired or completely jack up your reputation?
Anything related to death and disease are very sensitive subjects. Thin ice, baby. You should hear alarms in your head and see danger signs while thinking about making fun of either. Of course that hasn’t stopped everybody from doing so. There’s the infamous Atlanta bit gone horribly wrong when local hosts made fun of the battle former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason has with ALS.
Think of it this way — imagine if someone you love dearly was in the same position as the person you’re about to make light of. If your parents, wife, siblings, kids, nieces or nephews had a disease or died in a tragic way, would you make fun of it? If the answer is no, or an even more forceful hell no, then it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to make light of somebody else’s horrible situation. It’s much easier to talk trash or make light of someone you don’t really know. The game changes if you substitute your loved ones and imagine them being in the same terrible position.
I bought a new car yesterday. After my previous car got totaled following a bad wreck, I finally have some new wheels — a Nissan Altima Midnight Edition. I don’t know what my deal is with black cars and clothing, but that’s how I roll. I told my wife that it sure is easier to spend money quickly than it is to earn money fast. She laughed as if to playfully say, “In other news, water is wet.” Although this isn’t a great discovery either, it definitely is worth emphasizing — it’s way easier to ruin a reputation quicker than it is to build one quickly.
The movie Rounders is one of my favorites. Matt Damon’s character Mike McDermott faces off against Teddy KGB in high-stakes games of poker. The stakes for a sports talk host are actually even higher. It isn’t just thousands of dollars that are on the line — it’s also a career. Make the wrong move and you’ll “end up humping crappy jobs on graveyard shifts, trying to figure out how [you] came up short.”
I’m not trying to make a host shake like the principle on Beavis & Butthead in fear of saying or doing something wrong. Just use a little common sense relating to the misfortune of others and things should be perfectly fine. My dad used to tell me when I was younger, “Just keep your wits about you.” That meant to be aware of everything that’s going on. Sometimes the thing you need to be looking out for the most, is actually yourself.
Brian Noe is a columnist for BSM and an on-air host heard nationwide on FOX Sports Radio’s Countdown To Kickoff. Previous roles include stops in Portland, OR, Albany, NY and Fresno, CA. You can follow him on Twitter @TheNoeShow or email him at email@example.com.
Unfortunately For Jim Trotter, The Truth Set Him Free
Holding those in power accountable will always give you a clear conscious and eventually his truth will set Jim Trotter free to even bigger and better opportunities…
Your parents probably grew up telling you to always tell the truth because it’ll set you free from the bondage of secrets, lies, and the mishaps that come from those secrets and lies. What your parents didn’t tell you is that sometimes those truths will also set you free in the worst ways possible, as Jim Trotter recently learned.
The football insider was allegedly the victim of layoffs happening at NFL Media after revealing he was told by higher ups that his contract — that expires today — would not be renewed.
Trotter believes his role in questioning NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about the lack of diversity at NFL Media two years in a row played a role in his removal from the league’s network.
In a league where the majority of players are African-American (56.4 %, via Statista), Trotter doesn’t understand why NFL Network and its parent company have no black person in senior management and no full-time black people on the news desk. Trotter’s concern is that this could affect how players are covered because non-black journalists wouldn’t understand cultural cornerstones and experiences that players face while in the limelights. He’s right.
We have seen what happens to athletes and their reputations when a certain narrative doesn’t get enough pushback. It doesn’t necessarily always mean that the narrative is invalid but there’s definitely not enough questioning and that within itself has consequences. Look at how it has affected Terrell Owens.
During his playing time, Owens was one of the biggest divas sports has ever seen. He craved the spotlight, adored attention, and was mean to members of the media at times. He created drama that was unnecessary. But he was still a badass on the field. He is second all-time in receiving yards and had the third most touchdown receptions ever by the time of his retirement.
Owens never committed a crime. He was dedicated to the game and showed up when it mattered. Coaches may have complained about his behavior but they could never complain about his commitment to the game. Despite that, it still took years for him to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
Reporters with votes couldn’t get over their antiquated, foolish grudges with Owens. They didn’t look at his situation from an objective point of view based on his stats. They judged what they perceived was his character. One reporter, Vic Carucci, said he didn’t vote for Owens because he was a “divisive force.”
As much as his character was fair game to be questioned, could they have understood the things that happened in his life that shaped him into the man he became? They didn’t take into account that Owens was raised without his father and the toll that put on him, didn’t take into account that he discovered who his father was after almost dating the biological sister he never knew, and didn’t understand the chip on his shoulder.
They didn’t take that into account because it wasn’t a cultural connection that could possibly have been in their purview. It wasn’t something they could relate to or that they have seen in their lives or the lives of others around them. It doesn’t make them racist. In fact, it makes them human that this was their natural thought process. But it shows why inclusivity matters. It shows why it is so important to avoid groupthink because it can literally change the lives of folks who are more deserving that what they are receiving.
While Owens is doing well and luckily took care of himself financially while he was playing in the league, we’ll never know how many opportunities were robbed from him in his post-playing career because he wasn’t a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. We’ll never know what bigger role he could’ve played in the football world if there were journalists in the room who could speak to what Owens’ life experiences do to a person mentally and how it affected his plight as a black man trying to make it in the world out of a need for survival.
The former Eagles and 49ers wide receiver was demoralized for so many years, sometimes deservedly so but many times at a peak that was over the top.
On the other hand, another Hall-of-Fame athlete who was prominent during Owens’ playing time was praised like the second coming of Jesus. He also had a flair for dramatics. He could never decide whether he wanted to retire or not and he put up mediocre numbers on the football field (most career interceptions record).
He allegedly sexually harassed a content creator who worked for one of his former teams and now he allegedly could actually be a criminal after stealing government funds meant for poor people.
Brett Favre didn’t face the same judgement as Terrell Owens, though. He was a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. It is very fair to point out once again that his potential transgressions are still allegations but it shows the disparity of how some athletes are covered vs. others because of a lack of understanding each other from a cultural perspective.
According to a 2021 report from the Associated Press Sports Editors, 79.2% of sports editors were while at 83.3% of them were men. 72% of assistant sports editors were white while 75.8% were men. 77.1% of columnists were while while 82.2% were men. 77.1% of reporters were white and 85.6% were men.
It is difficult for stories of inclusivity to ever make to print or to air with so many people in the way who may not think the same way but haven’t experienced the same life as black and brown people in America. There’s just not many white people who wake up and have to remind themselves that they are white before they start their day, face microaggressions, are extra careful with their decision making and how they communicate in order to avoid being stereotyped.
NFL Media had the opportunity to rectify the mistakes which the league made with Colin Kaepernick. They had the chance to actually hire black senior managers and black news desk reporters. At the very least, even if they didn’t make hires right away, they had the opportunity to create a transparent pipeline for these kind of opportunities to be possible for all types of minorities and subgroups that work at their company. Instead, they chose to do nothing.
To top it all off, they took advantage of a downswing in the advertising market to get rid of an employee who wasn’t toeing the company line. Instead of acknowledging that there was a valid point made via the questions over the past couple of years, NFL owners and commissioner Goodell chose to live up to the role they’ve continuously stepped up to lately – cowards.
Because the world is unfair, being a coward sometimes earns you a multi-year contract extension, as it recently did for Goodell. And letting the truth set you free sometimes earns you a spot on the unemployment line. But holding those in power accountable will always give you a clear conscious and eventually his truth will set Jim Trotter free to even bigger and better opportunities than what he could’ve ever had at the NFL Network.
Don’t believe me, just watch.
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.
Jomboy’s Jake Storiale Puts Baseball on the Clock
“If you’re not having fun around it, you’re kind of doing it wrong.”
Just when sports critics said baseball was on the verge of dying, the sport perennially known as “America’s Pastime” found a way to reinvent itself. With a new collective bargaining agreement came the institution of rule changes – including a pitch clock, limits on defensive shifts, and larger bases. An Opening Day interleague battle between the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees finished in a crisp two hours and 33 minutes, down from last season’s average game length of three hours and three minutes. Despite being an avid Yankees fan and enjoying baseball, Jake Storiale knows these rule changes allow the game a greater chance of staying relevant in generations to come.
What may be more potent than any rule change, however, is in developing and embracing superstars. Over the last several years, Major League Baseball and its entities have been criticized for inadequately marketing emerging talents and veteran mainstays. Yet the World Baseball Classic, an international showcase of talent in the form of a preseason tournament, displayed the best the sport has to offer on a global scale.
It helped Major League Baseball players well-known in their home markets, such as St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar, gain 549,000 Instagram followers throughout the event. His WBC teammate and two-time American League Most Valuable Player Shohei Ohtani became the first major leaguer to reach 4 million Instagram followers, gaining approximately 2 million during the tournament alone.
A particularly revealing moment in the tournament was the reaction to the manifestation of a dream scenario – Los Angeles Angels teammates and top players in the sport facing off with a championship on the line. Even better was that the showdown took place in the ninth inning with two outs in a one-run game, rendering the result of Mike Trout’s at-bat against Ohtani pivotal for Team USA and Team Japan.
“I know we were talking with Trevor Plouffe, who we host Talkin’ Baseball with, [and] he coaches a Little League team and he said that all of his kids were talking about the Trout-Ohtani at-bat,” Storiale said. “They were all bummed out on Mike Trout because he lost one at-bat. He was trying to tell the kids, ‘Hey, baseball doesn’t really work like that.’”
Baseball, like many other popular sports, has an emphasis on the team and many local fans primarily focus on the groups to whom they have an allegiance. Storiale, for example, grew up in Connecticut and was always following the New York Yankees. Throughout his life, he has lived in Dallas and Denver and keenly noticed the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies being discussed the most as it pertains to professional baseball. The World Baseball Classic shattered those walls
While he has always had an allegiance towards the Yankees and has experienced five World Series championships during his time as a fan thus far, he aims to utilize the platform he and his friend from Central Connecticut State University, Jimmy O’Brien, essentially created from scratch. Jomboy Media is prominent among baseball fans and has quickly cemented itself into one of the fastest-growing digital sports media outlets in the world.
The hard work and consistent pressure they felt to reach this point could perhaps be equated to New York Yankees outfielder and team captain Aaron Judge standing at the plate with the bases loaded in a full count with the game on the line.
“After a certain point, we treated it like a full-time job; it was kind of that fight or flight,” Storiale said. “I wasn’t working another gig. We were doing our Yankees stuff – it was either, ‘Make it work in a year or two,’ or it was going to be like, ‘Alright, we gave it a try and it didn’t work.’
Consistency and an indefatigable yearning to succeed kept O’Brien and Storiale going in their quest to build a company employing genuine fans and cultivating a voice that places “fun over funny.” Storiale’s path to sports media though was unusual in that he began working in energy solutions out of college – first with Consolidated Electrical Distributors in Chicago and then with Rexel Energy Solutions, where he worked his way to become a marketing manager in Denver.
Amid a crowded media ecosystem that projects to soon contain 500 million podcast listeners, being a distinct entity and generating unique, compelling content is a monumental task in and of itself. The chemistry between O’Brien and Storiale on their podcast, titled Talkin’ Yanks, is evident from the onset, and the duo informs and entertains their audience through their innate knowledge and expertise.
Most importantly though, they exhibit an ostensible passion for their work and the future of the company – which raised $5 million in a funding round led by Connect Ventures.
“Whenever we’re talking about anything, we’re talking about it passionately as a fan instead of where it’s different than a reporter getting hired [and going], ‘Okay, I covered Clemson football for one year. Oh, a job with the Timberwolves opened; I’m going to take that,’” Storiale hypothesized. “We talk about stuff that we’re passionate about.”
When he was growing up, Storiale was introduced to Yankees baseball through his father and watched the careers of all-time greats unfold, including Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite and Jorge Posada, better known as “The Core Four.”
Although it helps that the team widely regarded as the most accomplished and storied franchise in professional sports has not posted a losing season since 1992 – an unprecedented stretch of 30 years – Storiale’s interests went beyond the pinstripes. He is a proponent of the new schedule, which calls for all teams to play one another for at least one series during each regular season, and hopes it catalyzes the growth of baseball into more of a national sport while retaining its local appeal.
“I think baseball is a very regional sport,” Storiale said, “and I think baseball kind of fought that for a little bit.”
The new schedule comes at a time when a preponderance of sports talk radio stations are creating and refining digital content, emphasizing its expansion over the next year. Proof of quantifiable success in this regard can be found in its 1.72 YouTube subscribers and 319,000 Twitter followers and consistently high levels of engagement. Jomboy Media has been in the digital space early in its development through unparalleled video breakdowns and a wide variety of sports-based podcasts.
It has a considerable share of listenership from those in the 18-35 demographic and works to try to find new ways to reach its audience, whether that be through live game broadcasts, watch parties, or new forms of content. Although Storiale believes sports radio was at its finest when Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo were hosting together on ESPN Radio, his hosting style does not necessarily reflect the amicable contentiousness accentuated by WFAN’s Mike and the Mad Dog.
“I just want people to be as comfortable as possible,” Storiale said. “We just started doing our weekly Aaron Boone interview, and I think the more comfortable he is and the more conversational, the better answers you’re going to get in everything we cover.”
In welcoming the Yankees’ manager onto their program once per week, Jomboy Media made a statement to its audio competitors – primarily WFAN and 98.7 ESPN New York – regarding its legitimacy and growing influence in the sports media space. Nonetheless, sports radio remains an essential part of the consumption space, and something Storiale ascertains will continue to remain imbued in the industry vernacular.
The times are changing though, and listeners are valuing timeliness, authenticity, and accessibility perhaps now more than ever before, making the intrinsic synergy between O’Brien and Storiale especially valuable in the podcast niche.
“You’re just getting honest conversation with a lot of silly stuff around it because, at the end of the day, I think where sports are important and there’s so much money tied up in everything, sports in its soul is supposed to be fun,” Storiale expressed. “If you’re not having fun around it, you’re kind of doing it wrong.”
Since his video breakdown of the Houston Astros stealing signs throughout the 2017 regular season went viral, Jomboy Media has steadily developed into a force among baseball fans at the very least. While Talkin’ Yanks recaps every Yankees series over the course of the season, provides breakdown and analysis and guest appearances by enticing personalities, there is an expanding lineup of content offerings sure to engross all sports fans. Podcast hosts include former MLB Network host Chris Rose; Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ; and former major-league third baseman Trevor Plouffe among others.
“We want people to make what they’re passionate about,” said Storiale, who also works in business operations for the company. “….I’m a big believer, even coming from my previous companies, that things are kind of top-down driven. I used to work in different divisions where there’d be great leadership and you could feel it throughout the division. There were other divisions where you were like, ‘Oh my gosh. That person’s leaving the division?,’ and you could see the holes in it.”
In today’s social media era, consumers possess an amplifier to disseminate their perspectives and opine on content offerings, effectively putting them in the driver’s seat. It is through their habits, combined with innovations in technology, that fuel exponential growth and ideation in sports media.
Thinking about the voice of consumers as a consensus rather than meeting the individual needs of each is an effective way to view the landscape when attracting and captivating a larger audience. Many practitioners would argue against regarding an individual as picayune, perhaps regarding it as impudent and contemptuous; however, trying to please everyone in a world with a diverse set of interests and proclivities is near-impossible.
“It’s a balance of juggling comment sections,” he said. “If you read one negative comment but something’s got 100,000 views and everyone seems to like it, you can only do so much with that comment.”
As a company, Jomboy Media is seemingly tight-knit and fosters a congenial atmosphere, making it a place where people want to be and have the urge to perform. Many of the employees at the company consider each other to be family, and they all work in tandem to form and maintain a content powerhouse. O’Brien is enzymatic in demonstrating his commitment and persistence to engender the continued expansion and reach of the brand on its multiple platforms.
“Nobody outworks Jimmy,” Storiale affirmed. “I give him hell on my best weeks. I think that kind of sends a message throughout the company – if you want to do this; if you want to be in the content grind, you’ve got to go for it. At the same time, [go for it] with a little bit of a competitive edge but with a lot of family feel.”
Collaborations with NESN and YES Network, regional sports networks that broadcast games for the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, respectively, have given the brand and its personalities increased exposure to those consumers who operate using traditional media. When he finds himself attending baseball games at Yankee Stadium, he feels he is being recognized more and commended for the job he does as a podcast host and an entrepreneur.
“There’s a lot of people that still come home and throw on the TV,” Storiale said. “There’s a lot of days where I’m that person; you just kind of want to turn off your brain and watch something good.”
Storiale will undoubtedly be invested in the Yankees this season, a team with a deep roster of superstars including Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, Carlos Rodón, and Giancarlo Stanton. He also finds himself watching other sporting events more often than before though, expanding his scope beyond baseball. The NFL Draft, for example, interests him, along with the upcoming Master’s Tournament and conclusion to March Madness in college basketball.
In the end, the success of the company boils down to its ability to relate to fans and differentiate itself from other content providers. As more companies adopt direct-to-consumer abilities, the chance to narrowcast nonlinear content is becoming more palpable, meaning they are, in a way, trying to catch up to what Jomboy Media and other digital brands have created.
Conversely, traditional media outlets have a fortified consumption base, and the challenge for these digital outlets remains in expanding their reach to new audiences. Storiale is excited to be on this journey and is swinging for the fences akin to No. 99, utilizing his fandom and friendship to generate not just ratings and revenue, but a voice and outlet for love of the game.
“Something we said early on that still lingers is, ‘Grow,’” Storiale articulated. “I know that sounds generic, but… we want to grow into whatever we are ready to grow into.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he has worked in a broad array of roles in multimedia production – including on live game broadcasts and audiovisual platforms – and in digital content development and management. 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.
7 Steps To Build Your Own Sales Brand
“Invest in the best, you, and don’t be like the rest.”
After the BSM Summit ’23, Barrett Media President Jason Barrett wrote about what stood out at the just concluded sports radio convention. JB mentioned that he was disappointed that more GMs and sales managers didn’t attend. He thought they could gain great insight from the Summit and challenged them to start acting and thinking differently.
One idea I had, and others have as well, is personal branding. You gain skills from attending the Summit to improve your personal radio salesperson brand through education, networking, and speaking to others about your ideas.
Here are some tips on how a radio salesperson can invest in personal brand development:
WHO ARE YOU?
Write down what is important to you, your client-facing strengths, and your USP. Why you? Consider what sets you apart from reps in the market and how you can communicate that to prospects so they see the value in YOU.
CREATE A WEBSITE
This should be a no-brainer. There are tons of platforms for you to do this. Here is but one.
This will really build your brand faster. It’s like a LinkedIn profile come to life with graphs and pictures. Make it visually appealing to get around on, and put your info about your experience, client-facing skills, and services. Consider including testimonials from previous clients or business partners. They can google review you!
HIT THE SOCIALS
Make LinkedIn and Instagram your regular spots to share content. Make posts that show you at your best and your personality. Always share content from others, respond to comments, and like others’ work. Publish white papers on LinkedIn.
Do a studio session with a photographer specializing in business. Take headshots that showcase what you are all about on the phone, pc, or networking. Wear different outfits and jerseys of your favorite teams and bring your partner.
MEET AND GREET
Hit the ad fed, chamber of commerce, and any other business-minded group that resonates with you. Go to meetings with college boosters, causes you believe in, and anywhere you may meet small business people. Make it a weekly commitment. Attend BSM Summit 2024, stay current with the latest trends, and connect with other pros.
By writing blogs, video posts, and podcasts, you work on your beliefs and how to shape the pitch for others. The difference is you aren’t just standing and delivering a speech to a Rotary Club. Be a thought leader. Show what you are an expert in. If you aren’t, become one in something. Take the package of the month and make it yours.
Don’t fake it til you make it, man. Being yourself will attract clients who want to be around you. You won’t have to tolerate them; you can partner with them. Let it fly, and you will be surprised at how that resonates. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
I believe that there are four types of clients. One hates you, one loves you, and the other two are up for grabs. If you can get the ones who don’t care about you but like the results you can create, then you can click with 50% of your clients, not just 25%.
Invest in the best, you, and don’t be like the rest. Brand YOU.
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.