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A Conversation with Terry Boers (Part 2)

Matt Fishman

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In January of 2017, Terry Boers retired after 25 years as a host for The Score in Chicago. As part of his retirement he has written a book detailing his career at the Score entitled “The Score of a Lifetime.” In part two of our discussion we talked about his then “new” show with Dan Bernstein which began in 1999.

Matt:  The lineup change happened in 1999 and you were paired with Dan Bernstein for a show from 8am-Noon. What was it like starting a new show in a new time slot with a new partner?

Terry: It was turning your life upside down. It was getting up at 4am and fighting traffic and I didn’t know Dan Bernstein that well. He was our Bears reporter and he did some nice stuff. I looked at it like no matter what I think and even though I don’t know him, it was time to find out if this would work. I wasn’t about to give up radio. So you had to make it work. I was humbled by the move. I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way. This show was not going to fail. So I put everything into making it work and so did Bernsy. And I think it did work. I renewed everything in my mind. Erased everything and started a new chapter. There’s no other way to do it. I had to recalibrate and start everything over again without sounding bitter and I think we did that. I’ve learned not to be (bitter). I think it’s how you handle it.

Matt: From being close to that whole situation I feel like you went through a period of mourning for about a week maybe two weeks for the old show. Then you just let it go and focused on the new show.

Terry: It wasn’t entire conscious. Sometimes your subconscious can be stronger than your actual consciousness. I think that was definitely in play. You would hear it from people that they missed the old show. I felt well, “If you fucking missed the show so much and were really out there, we wouldn’t be in this situation.” Yeah it takes you a second to get your balance back and forget some of that stuff and go ahead and push forward. I had made up my mind to do it, doesn’t mean that I did it right away. Just do the new show the best I can but let the chips fall where they may and not be bitter or stupid about it.

Matt: At what point did you feel good about “Boers and Bernstein” and feel like the new show would be successful?

Terry:  It probably took about six months, at least. I think there’s a rating period for everything. We felt like we were in a decent pattern. The idea of the show, at least in my mind, was to come up with something either one time a week or one time a month to add something fun to the show. So we kept adding to the Friday Fung segment. People are stuck in traffic and we wanted to have fun with it. We covered the serious stuff when it needed to be covered, but on a day-to-day basis we could have fun with it. Bernstein had a reputation for being very serious and smart and all that. We needed to balance that out. Sports isn’t always interesting so I think there’s a time to balance it off and talk about the world—but in a fun way, not a serious way. We set a tone and the show was very successful but like everything else it took a long time.

Matt: In 2006 The Score became the flagship to the White Sox, the first MLB team to join the station. What affect did that have on your show and the station?

Terry: When the White Sox were on we did zeros. Nobody was listening. They cost me thousands of dollars in bonuses. Even five people listening would’ve helped. It seemed like a good idea (to pick them up) as it was right after the Sox World Series year but they would kill us with those afternoon games. If you saw five or six of them on the schedule for the month, you knew you weren’t going to be in the top five. Some of those months, ‘Oh my god! We’re in trouble!” but I learned how to ignore it.

Matt: There’s been a recent major line-up change at the Score bringing Dan McNeil back. Were you surprised by the changes?

Terry: Jimmy DeCastro (Entercom/Chicago Market Manager) loves Danny. If Danny wanted to work it was going to be for DeCastro. He’s liked Danny for 30 years. This was not a great shock. DeCastro’s not a guy who likes long-form talk, beating up one topic for a four or five hour show. It’s not what he likes. Danny’s more bang-bang-bang a here, there and everywhere. Where Bernstein and Jason (Goff) were more on a topic for the whole show—like the Michigan State stuff. It isn’t DeCastro’s cup of tea. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just not his cup of tea. It was not surprising. When you get a new toy you’re going to do something with it. You knew something was gonna happen when DeCastro came into power again. The guy he loves is Danny. It’s nothing deeper than that. Not surprising!

Matt: Every talent I’ve talked to at the Score absolutely LOVES working for Mitch Rosen (Score Ops Director/PD). What is it that he does that may be different from other PDs?

Terry: Mitch genuinely cares. There’s a part of him that takes everything home with him. He doesn’t want to let anything slide. He doesn’t want anything left unsaid. He doesn’t want to make you miserable. He wants everyone to be happy and productive in what they do. Mitch went out of his way to make sure everyone was good. He would constantly ask for input. I still think it’s a people business and nobody’s better at dealing with people than Mitch. This was a guy who drove out to Indiana five or six times when Danny (McNeil) wouldn’t show up for work in 2014. Most Program Directors would say “Fuck him I’m not going out there!” I think most executives worth their salt have a really cold blooded side to them that forget sometimes that it’s a people business. I don’t think Mitch has ever forgotten that. He would always try no matter how bad the situation was to make a valiant effort to make it better. He genuinely cares about people.

Matt: Mitch apparently helped convince you to write this book about your radio career. Explain how the book “The Score of a Lifetime” came about?

Terry: I was a little hesitant at first, but I had promised it to people. Mitch had a lot better memory of some of these things than I did. I mean I knew (former Score host Rick) Telander was an asshole but I didn’t really think about it that much. So I needed his help with it. I told Mitch “It isn’t going to be a flattering portrayal of a lot of people.” Mitch was OK with that. He really helped promote the book and would do anything within reason that the publisher asked. He really helped with the background stuff –what was said, what happened, stuff that I wasn’t paying attention to at the time. Once you promise something to people, they want it. My advice to everyone: From now on, save every note and everything that’s said when it happens. It’s much easier than going back and trying to track things down. I wanted to make sure everything was right. Mitch’s help was essential to make this book happen.

In Part Three of our Q&A with Terry Boers, Terry talks about his illness and cancer diagnosis, the future of radio, and what projects he is working on in 2018.

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.

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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.

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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

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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.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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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.

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