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Music is a Small Detail That Needs Your Attention

Demetri Ravanos

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Last week, my colleague Matt Fishman wrote an excellent piece about the way sound is used on a sports radio station. We may not agree on every point, but Fish couldn’t be more right about the lack of attention being paid to the overall sound profile of radio shows these days.

I want to particularly key in on the bumper music. I have been listening to a lot of different shows from a lot of different stations and networks around the country and very rarely do any of them surprise me with the music they use to bump to and from break. I’m not going to sports radio to discover a new favorite song, but in some cases, the music has become so predictable that if I am listening to the same show on Monday at 2:35 pm that I was listening to last Monday at 2:35 pm, I can tell you that they are going to bump back with AC/DC’s “Back in Black.”

Image result for back in black

Matt Fishman wrote that he wants to hear shows coming back from break with more than just music, and he certainly doesn’t want to hear lyrics. I won’t go that far. I have written before that I think the soundtrack of a radio show is very important for making a connection with your listeners, and to me that means using recognizable versions of recognizable songs is always preferable.

Never changing up your music takes away the ability for music to create any kind of content for you. There is no reason for a host to ask a producer what he is listening to coming back from break. If you aren’t freshening up the bump music, you know what you’re listening to and your listeners know you know what you’re listening to.

It’s not just on air either. Plenty of shows post their daily playlist on Twitter. Some go a step further and turn it into a Spotify playlist. There’s no need to do that if you’re playing the same music everyday.

There is also no need to do anything like that if you are using generic bed music to bump in and out of breaks. It sounds so bad. It doesn’t cost you anything to come back from break with Drake’s hit “In My Feelings.” Why wouldn’t you use that instead of some generic sounding 60 second riff that was recorded to use on a car wash commercial? Honestly, when I am monitoring shows for Barrett, the sound of music I recognize is a signal that the show is back and it’s time to start paying attention again.

When I say freshen up your bump music, I don’t just mean use different songs songs in different time slots everyday. I also mean update what you use. Look, I love Pearl Jam, but I never need to hear the Ten album again in my life. Chances are, you have plenty of listeners that feel that way about “Welcome to the Jungle” or “When I Come Around” or any other jock rock from the 80s and 90s.

Chances are you have plenty of others to whom that stuff sounds ancient. Remember, if your target demo is men 25-54, there are plenty of guys in your audience that were born after Kurt Cobain died and even more born after the Berlin Wall came down. To put that in perspective, the Berlin Wall fell five years after U2 released The Unforgettable Fire. So if you’re bumping back with “Pride (in the Name of Love),” it’s a safe bet that more than a few of your listeners are rolling their eyes.

Mix in some new titles and some different genres. When I was on ESPN Columbia, I had a producer named Josh Ivey, who also worked on our Urban station. I asked him to start bringing in beds, because even though I went outside of the normal sports radio bed realm with a lot of Drive-By Truckers and Steve Earl, I knew my listeners were probably alt-countryed out.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Josh Ivey, people sitting, shoes, suit and indoor

The result was that our listeners really didn’t know what they were going to hear next, and I got some new favorite artists out of it, so I did the same when I moved to SB Nation Radio. My producer there was Tom Okkema.

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Tom, as his face might suggest, loved jam bands. I hate them. It created some great content when I would make him explain to me why we were listening to this garbage. It also generated great listener interaction on text and Twitter. People have very strong opinions on the String Cheese Incident!

The other thing I wrote about music mattering in that column from a year ago was that music can set the tone for your show. If your beds are preloaded from weeks or months ago, it keeps a producer from having to think about how a particular show flows or the mood of that day’s broadcast. In other words, whether you realize it or not, it gives a producer a license to be lazy.

Look, I’ve been a producer. I am not arguing that you need more on your plate. There is nothing wrong with using the same bump music for a year or so, but give yourself a lot of options.

When I was producing for Mike Maniscalco and Lauren Brownlow at Buzz Sports Radio in Raleigh, we did a four hour show that took three commercial breaks per hour. That means I had 12 total slots to put in bump music. I had a library of about 80 beds. I didn’t use them on a schedule. I just put them in to match the mood of what we were doing and what I wanted to hear.

Consider this a sequel to the article I wrote last September. If the moral of that story was that your music matters because putting some extra care into such a small detail can enhance your show, the moral of this story is that your music matters because never paying attention to that same small detail can make your show boring.

BSM Writers

Mike Tirico Has ‘Never Pretended to Be Friends’ With Athletes

“I like having a healthy relationship where if I need something, I can ask whether it’s for on-air or for background and build trust.”

Ricky Keeler

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Mike Tirico has been covering sports on network television for 32 years. Over those 3+ decades, he has made it a point to not be so close with the athletes he covers in whichever sport he is broadcasting.

Tirico was a guest on the most recent episode of the GOLF’s Subpar podcast with Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz. While Tirico knows he is not doing extensive journalism work, he wants to make sure that he can be able to ask the hard questions if he has to any athlete.

“I never pretend to be friends with the athletes I cover. I like having a healthy relationship where if I need something, I can ask whether it’s for on-air or for background and build trust. I’m not in a position where I’m working for Outside the Lines at my old place, ESPN. It’s not a knock. It’s just you’re not in a position where you have to do these journalistic-type interviews all the time, but there are times you have to ask hard questions. I always try to keep a little bit of a buffer or a distance.”

The context of that question came when Tirico was asked about how good of a relationship he has with Tiger Woods.

“It’s good….If I reach out, he will usually get back to me. He’s been really good and really nice along the way.”

As for broadcasting sports in this day and age of social media, Tirico believes that it can make a broadcaster better whether or not the complaint from someone on Twitter is real or not.

“It makes us better because you know that people are going to catch you. If something is artificial or not, real or not, embraced or not, it forces you to be better at what you do.”

For that same reason, Tirico thinks that LIV Golf is going to make the PGA Tour have to be better going forward because now they have another tour to go up against.

“I think LIV Golf, and we all have our own opinions on it, is going to force the PGA Tour to be better. Competition is good. Checks and balances are really good.”

Even though Tirico doesn’t feel nervous about many broadcasts anymore, there was one event in the last decade where the nerves kicked in when he was hosting his first Olympics at NBC.

“The only time in the last 10 years that I’ve been nervous was coming on for the first time hosting the Olympics because Bob Costas has done that since most of us have been alive and most people had never seen anyone but Bob Costas host the Olympics in primetime…2 minutes before, I’m like ‘should I be this? Should I have fun?’ and then the minute before, I cracked a joke in the studio.”

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BSM Writers

Kyle Brandt’s Rant a Reminder to Consider the Messenger

This doesn’t mean Brandt is wrong or even that he is being told to echo the NFL’s position, it’s to note that he took a very powerful stance on a very powerful platform and they both matter.

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Kyle Brandt

This week, a massive announcement was made in the National Football League regarding the immediate future of Deshaun Watson. Judge Sue L. Robinson recommended a six -game suspension with no additional monetary fine for the quarterback. While the NFL mulls what it will say further, most others didn’t, including a really prominent personality: Kyle Brandt.

Brandt, a co-host on Good Morning Football, reacted like a lot of people did upon hearing the decision: forcefully. On Monday, Brandt denounced the decision to limit Watson’s suspension to six games, saying in part, “…I look at six and I find it very light. I hope it doesn’t stay that way personally. I think that Deshaun Watson leveraged his status as an NFL player against women. In my opinion. And I think it happened more than one time and I think it was was in closed doors in small rooms against women who were probably intimidated. And it pisses me off to even talk about it. And frankly it pisses me off to see the number six. And I don’t think it’s going to stay that way and I hope it doesn’t.”

Those words resonated. Once they were said, the clip was grabbed from the show and then distributed on Brandt’s Twitter account which reaches 333,000+ followers and on his Instagram which speaks to 96,000+ followers. That video has been seen over two million times. Viral, they say. Here it is if you did happen to miss it. Passionate stuff from Brandt.

If you believe in the message, it’s an easy to like, retweet or share idea. It’s not a hot take, frankly, because there is a large section of those that have been following this story that agree. Deshaun Watson is settling cases because people believe he did something bad. Something bad enough that judge did seem fit to point it out and recommend what is generally speaking, a strong suspension. The only problem here is the platform hosting the message.

This is not a Kyle Brandt-bashing piece. He isn’t the platform. If anything, he’s the vessel of this message he wants out. He also, very likely, feels exactly the way he said he did in the above tweeted video. In fact, the next day, Tuesday, Brandt doubled down on his opinion. The newer video was viewed over 400,000 times. You can check it out right below these words.

The distinction needs to be noted that the message Brandt is delivering, is the NFL’s message. It is what Roger Goodell wants to be the prevailing wisdom regarding how we feel about the current state of Watson’s suspension. That message is being amplified by a very popular co-host, on a very popular morning television show that is seen by a lot of people and that is owned by the National Football League.

Again, I am here waving to you wildly to say that I have no reason to believe that Brandt is being told this particular messaging needs to be voiced. But, I do know that the NFL has until Thursday to appeal the decision. Three days is a lot of time to gather data on whether or not the public might support you appealing for more games, something that the league most certainly will look into judging by their statement released shortly after the ruling.

I also know that the NFL was seeking a much longer suspension as well as a hefty fine to be issued to Watson. The NFL has taken a lot of hits for how it has handled players violating league rules and the player conduct policy. No matter which case you look at, comparing it to the one previous or the one right after is an exercise is madness. The one common theme seems to be is that when the NFL feels like it is delving out punishment, it wants to be severe, no matter the consistency. Remember, Tom Brady was a short ‘yes’ answer away from appealing his case to the Supreme Court. The NFL isn’t particularly interested in just letting things go.

It is well within the realm of possibility that the NFL is getting what it rarely gets: an overwhelming opinion that actually sides with it in terms of punishment. For the majority of the modern cases I can remember, more fans than not disagreed with the NFL’s stance on a case. This time, they might have the court of public opinion on their side. I hear far more ‘kick him outs’ in reference to Watson than I do ‘no suspensions’.

We might have the perfect storm for the NFL in terms of support and Kyle Brandt’s message lines up exactly with the leagues desires, no matter how they may have gotten there. Both want more punishment for the Cleveland quarterback. Brandt can hope, the NFL can fight.

This doesn’t mean Brandt is wrong or even that he is being told to echo the NFL’s position, it’s to note that he took a very powerful stance on a very powerful platform and they both matter.

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BSM Writers

Producers Podcast Episode 6: Jackson Safon, The Volume

Brady Farkas

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Jackson Safon has produced for a number of high profile digital networks. Now, as a freelancer, The Volume has put its faith in him to get the most out of Draymond Green, and CC Sabathia and Ryan Ruocco have trusted him to make R2C2 the best it can be.

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-producers-podcast/id1630978079

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/2XBTp3PnrBvGv2n4Y19tCE?si=c84eee71512e49a5

iHeart: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-the-producers-podcast-98564690/

Google: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5ibHVicnJ5LmNvbS9mZWVkcy9wcm9kdWNlcnNwb2QueG1s?sa=X&ved=0CAMQ4aUDahcKEwiQpvak__P4AhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQRw

Amazon: https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/241160ba-ad26-4297-a37a-107dfb10b462/the-producers-podcast 

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