With a new NFL season just around the corner, Barrett Sports Media decided to take on a big project. We reached out to hosts, PDs, and reporters in every NFL city in the country. The question we wanted answered was simple: Who on your team’s roster has the brightest future in the sports media?
We spent the better part of a month sending emails and texts asking folks to participate. Some gave us an answer right away. Some required a little poking and prodding. Some didn’t respond at all. What are you going to do, right? It’s a busy time of year for all of us in sports radio.
Here is Part 3.
Carl Dukes – 92.9 the Game
The Atlanta Falcons selected tight end Austin Hooper in the third round (81st overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Stanford. Hoop as he is known by his teammates, is well spoken and a student of the game. He loves football. Hooper this off season spent well over 500 hours of practice time with Quarterback Matt Ryan to improve his connection with the quarterback with hopes of improving his overall numbers this up coming season.
While at Stanford Hooper studied Psychology, but I don’t think he will every use his psychology background outside of messing with people on the field. I think he has the brightest future in sports media for the Falcons. He has the looks to be a TV studio analysts and the skills and knowledge of the game to be in the booth to be a color analyst. I think Hooper who is very engaging and well-spoken could pick his job after his football days are over.
He has such a cool demeanor about him that one of his nicknames on the team is “California Cool”. But don’t mistake this “Dude” for a laid back surfer guy. Austin Hooper comes from a sports family. His father played football at San Diego State his Uncle Greg, played fullback at Stanford (1979-82) his Uncle Chip, played professional tennis his younger brother, Justin plays baseball at UCLA
Austin Hooper has the brightest future as a media star after his playing career is done whether it’s Radio or Television.
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander is the obvious choice for the Buffalo Bill with the brightest future in sports media. Alexander is a go to guy for members of the media who regularly cover the team, because doesn’t just spit out sports cliches. He actually puts thought into the question and gives an honest answer. When we’ve had Lorenzo on WGR in his time as a Bill we usually get tweets from listeners telling us how much they enjoyed the interview.
His knowledge of the game, the ability to think on his feet and the energy in his interviews are just some of the reasons why Alexander would be a natural when it comes to broadcasting.
Nate Kreckman – Altitude 950
Chris Harris, Jr is my guy here in Denver. He has a great football story, he’s honest, and most importantly, he’s really smart. Harris was undrafted out of Kansas, and made the Broncos roster in training camp in 2011. All he’s done since those humble NFL beginnings is win a Super Bowl as a part of one of the great NFL secondaries ever, earn three Pro Bowl nods, and make himself north of $38 million in his career.
So how does an undrafted guy do that? Chris Harris, Jr is definitely not the most athletic player on the field, but he’s often the smartest player out there. His dedication to film study is well known in Denver, and his football IQ is off the charts. He fervently studies opposing quarterbacks and receivers, and has extensive knowledge of offensive tendencies. There’s a reason Harris and Aqib Talib were so great together, and it’s that they were two of the smartest football players to whom I’ve ever spoken.
Of course, none of that is of any value in a broadcasting role unless the player knows how to convey that expertise in a concise and thoughtful way. Harris has gotten better in that capacity in his entire career. He’s now an elder stateman, a leader, and a go-to for the local media on team issues big and small. He’s never afraid to be honest on his opinions of teammates, coaches, front office personnel, and opponents. In 2016, Harris told the media Trevor Siemian was the best QB in camp, despite the organization doing everything to push Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch. Siemian won the job. Last season, he was not shy about calling out younger teammates that were not properly respecting the veterans and the game. His postgame analysis of both his own team’s performance as well as that of the opponents makes him a must-have quote for writers and broadcast media alike.
Joe Cowart – 1010XL
The Jacksonville Jaguars are chock full of superstars on the defensive side of the ball and it’s not easy to nail down who would be the best fit behind a mic or in front of a camera after the gridiron. You can start with the undeniable bravado of Jalen Ramsey. Outspoken, controversial, memorable – he checks all the boxes. Malik Jackson might be another Jaguar the spotlight post career with a quick tongue and plenty of palpable material. But the mantle of future media master has to belong to Calais Campbell.
One of the most engaging and charming personalities ever to fit inside a defensive end who makes a living planting quarterbacks but when Campbell is off the field his affable approach to life rings true. He could name the style of media too, from an analyst chair to a Barstool Sports setup, Calais fits right in with a baritone quality and gregarious personality.
When it ends on the field after more than a decade of defensive mastery, Campbell is a perfect fit for the athlete that can command the room and kill with intel about what it was like to play the game.
Andrew Filliponi – 93.7 the Fan
So, with the Steelers this question is really hard. I think if he wanted to do it, Ben Roethlisberger could be a network analyst on games. I say that because I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ben on his show. For my money, he does the best player radio show in America. He doesn’t give cliche answers. He’s honest. He tries. So if he took that to the broadcast booth, he’d be awesome.
Ramon Foster, a Steelers starting guard, will absolutely do media. He’s got a great sense of humor, very natural on the air. He was voted the Steelers best player interview from the media in 2017.
Ulitmately, Joe Haden might be the right answer. He’s been a guest analyst on NFL Network. He’s enthusiastic on air, you can tell he likes it. Given his track record and name power, I see him working for a network someday.
Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call
“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”
I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.
The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.
Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.
Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.
We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.
I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.
You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.
People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.
How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.
Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.
If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.
In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.
Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.
What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.
Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!
“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”
Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?
Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.
To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:
#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?
#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?
#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?
If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!
Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.
Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:
#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.
#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.
#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.
#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.
#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.
Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!
Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas
“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”
Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?
Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!
One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.
Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.
There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.
Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.
I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.
Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.
It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?
Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.
If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.
Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.
A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.
“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.
We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.
As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.
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