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Good Ole Fashioned Hard Work Helps Kellner Climb The Ladder

Tyler McComas

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Being young in the sports radio industry isn’t always easy. More times than not, young people are asked and required to do the jobs nobody else wants to do, all for the opportunity to gain invaluable experience. Nights and weekends may be spent alone in a studio with the non-glamorous job of running the board for a high school football game or Minor League Baseball game. It’s in those times where you may ask yourself, is this really worth it?

Hard work and determination really do pay off. That’s what Brad Kellner kept telling himself as he woke up every morning as an unpaid intern to be a board op for a morning drive show in Austin, Texas. While his friends were routinely questioning his life choice over drinks on Sixth Street, Kellner never wavered on chasing his dream of becoming a sports radio host.

That relentless attitude is what helped ‘BK’ land in the host chair at the ripe age of 22. Just months removed from graduating college at The University of Texas, he was hosting weeknights and weekends at 104.9 The Horn in Austin. But just because he caught his first big break, didn’t mean the hustle was about to stop for Kellner. By making himself available for any and all duties at the station, he made himself a big asset to his employer and proved he was capable of any position. Once he proved his talents as a skilled show host, The Horn moved him to a mid-day slot with co-host Trey Elling.

Today, Kellner is only 24 years old, but is celebrating the one year anniversary of “Middays with Trey and BK” at 104.9 The Horn. BK is a prime example of someone that started from the bottom, did everything he could along the way to help himself, and earned the rewards that come from hard work. Though this business is cutthroat, tough times don’t always last, but tough people do.

Though better days are surely to come. Happy one year anniversary to Trey and BK.

TM: You started out as a host at 22 years old. How difficult was it to gain respect with listeners or co-workers because of your age?

BK: I was really fortunate, because I was able to intern at four different radio stations in college, including the two I worked for in Austin. So I had some connections at The Horn, the station I work at now. I’m lucky, because people here were really supportive and receptive of me. Obviously, I was just doing weekend stuff in the morning, so it wasn’t like I was going to screw anyone over if I had a bad show. I worked hard to prove myself and had everyone at The Horn in my corner which gave me confidence and meant a lot.

TM: Did you have a chip on your shoulder at that age? Especially when you first started hosting?

BK: Oh man, I’ll always have a chip on my shoulder. That’s what motivates me. I’ve been lucky in life and had a lot handed to me, sure, but I just live by the motto to never be satisfied. I think the people who get content, whether it’s in sports radio or any other line of work, that’s when you start losing at life. You become too satisfied and content with what you have and it causes you to stop working. I want to be better every day and continue to move up in this business.

TM: You interned at four different stations. Did you find that starting off at a smaller station where they give you more opportunities is better? Or at a bigger station where more people get accustomed to your name and who you are?

BK: Two of the stations I worked at were in Austin and the other two were in Dallas. I got put on the air at least once or twice at each station. For the most part, it was behind the scenes work. I knew the main purpose of doing these internships was to make connections. That was important to me. I knew it was a case of who you know versus what you know. I put all my eggs in the internship basket and tried to meet as many people as I could. In terms of what’s better, bigger station or smaller? It was all pretty similar, I just wanted to learn from as many people as possible, so when it was time to get a job, I actually had a couple contacts I could go to.

TM: I’m sure you probably ended up working alongside a lot of the hosts you grew up listening to. Who were some of the guys you found yourself wanting to pattern after?

BK: The station I grew up listening to was Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket in Dallas. I got the opportunity to intern there in college and I’d say any of the hosts they have. That’s a self-made, self-grown station that started in the 90’s and it’s pretty much the same hosts from when they started. They just won the Marconi Award for best sports radio station for the third time. I’ve always been fond of those dudes and try to listen to them every day. I try to hone my craft off of what those guys do. Nationally, I’d say Colin Cowherd does a pretty solid job. I know he irks people sometimes, but he’s incredibly good at his craft and he’s one of the most successful guys in our business. He’s someone I listen to and take pointers from. But I’m pretty receptive, if anyone has words or tips, I’m always willing to listen. I try to study as many sports radio hosts as I can across the country to pick up things and learn.

TM: What about frustrating times in the beginning? Did you ever have any as an unpaid intern?

BK: Sure it’s frustrating, but you have to remember that you’re getting a chance to talk about sports or push buttons as a producer and listen to sports for a living. Before I got this job at The Horn, I was just out of college and looking to get away from The Zone. Not because I didn’t like it there, I loved it there, I just wasn’t making enough money and I didn’t want to pick up a second job, because I was just producing at that time. When it came to applying for jobs, that’s the frustrating thing. You feel like you’re talented enough to be in one spot, but because of a lack of experience and a lack of age, you don’t always get the respect outside your station that you deserve.

TM: With that being said, what advice would you give to someone young who hasn’t caught their big break yet?

BK: You just have to put in work. You’ve got to grind and do whatever is asked of you. Go around the station and talk to as many people as you can. See if you can help out in other ways, because people think fondly of that. If you can make yourself multi-faceted in terms of talent…if you’re good at producing, find ways to be better on air. Work on making promos for the station. You can even go beyond radio and see if you can write stories for the station’s website. Get some video, do some TV stuff, whatever you can do is always going to help. The more time you put in, you’re going to catch some breaks. A couple of my internships were at 5am. I was doing morning drive shows and making no money to be an intern at the station. My friends were calling me crazy and an idiot, they didn’t understand why I’d wake up so early while I was still in college. I’d be up at 4:30 in the morning on a Friday after a night out on Sixth Street. I just told them it was going to pay off down the line and I knew at some point it would. Just keep grinding and doing everything you can to make a difference with people at the station and good things will come.

TM: Waking up that early, still in college and not getting paid. While you were gaining a lot of experience, do you think you also gained a lot of respect from fellow show hosts for doing that?

BK: Yeah, I think so. I just put my head down and did whatever I could to make the shows successful. To quote the great LaVar Ball, I stayed in my lane. I did what was asked of me and tried to please the hosts and make their jobs easier. But yeah, I think I was able to gain their respect by working hard.

TM: Your co-host Trey Elling seems like a really good dude and a talented guy. Seeing as he’s your partner for your first-ever weekday show, how important has he been to your growth?

BK: It’s been great. Trey and I are great friends and we even hangout off the air from time to time. I know his two kids, they call me Uncle Brad which is pretty cool. He’s been in the business for a while and worked in places like Chicago and Portland before coming to Austin. He’s got a good grasp on how things work in this industry. I think we’re doing extremely well, and have a strong connection on air and great chemistry off air. That has helped us create a quality show and I’m fortunate to have a guy like Trey as my first co-host.

For more on Brad Kellner and 104.9 The Horn click here.

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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