Lights, camera, action!
Now there’s a phrase that’s never been synonymous with sports radio. It may never be, but you can’t ignore just how much video is making its way into the world of sports radio. Some stations are constantly streaming on Twitch, while others are using short video clips on social media to promote their content. But if there’s one thing that shows just how much the medium has grown over the years, it’s the ability and willingness to put radio shows on live television.
Every weekday from 3-6 p.m. CST in Baton Rouge, Matt Moscona is in front of a camera while doing a sports radio show. That’s because Cox Sports Television made the commitment to air all three hours of his show After Further Review on its live programing.
There’s obvious advantages to having your radio show on live TV. Most importantly, it means Moscona’s face is in living rooms all across Louisiana each day. That’s priceless advertisement. But even as appealing as that sounds, the logistics of doing a show that works well on both TV and radio can be challenging.
“It does completely change the approach in studio,” said Moscona. “I always have to be conscious of how I look as well as how the visual elements are going to accompany everything I talk about. Our company, when they made the capital investment into building the TV studio, they spent a lot of money on a graphics deal and we basically contracted with the same company that provides graphics for ESPN. When you look at the visual elements that we have, it looks like something you’d see on a major network. That helps tremendously.
“The other part is for every topic I’m prepping, I have to consider what visual elements might accompany it. Sometimes, it’s a tweet we can grab and put on the screen. Sometimes it’s images or videos that we can use. We have a partnership with a local television company, WBRZ, and they offer us their video, as well. But it’s definitely different.”
Though the graphics aspect of the show really sets everything off and presents a unique feature, it requires a lot of time. Not only does Moscona have to prep his entire three-hour show, but he also has to plan which graphics are going to look best with the segments he has planned. Plus, instead of just one radio producer, he also has a video producer that he always has to be in-sync with.
“My video producer manages the graphics and handles everything you see,” said Moscona. “The one component I control, which is interesting and takes some multi-tasking, I have a tablet where the video producer can take my screen and go live with it. Sometimes it’s easier, I’ll pull up a tweet and he can put it up.
“In some respects, I’m hosting and directing, which is odd. It’s something I’ve gotten better at, but that relationship with me and my video producer, Paul, that’s just something where he has to anticipate what I’m going to do before I do it. Similarly, I have to do the same with him, in terms of anticipating where he’s going to go with the camera.
“The studio is built as an OTT platform and when we launched it, Cox came to us and said they loved it and wanted to carry it. It makes sense, right? That’s 15 hours of programming a week for them that’s live and unique content”
The TV deal with Cox Sports Televisions is an awesome one for Moscona. That much is certain. But how beneficial is it to his station ESPN Baton Rouge?
Sure, some revenue comes in from Cox, but with such a difficult setup, that means Moscona can never be on remote. If the show can’t make money selling live broadcasts, then another source of income has to be created. That requires some out of the box thinking.
“Whenever we built out the TV studio, we cancelled remotes for my show,” said Moscona. “100 percent. So one challenge was to make up the revenue of remote money. The way we counter-balanced that was that we sold title sponsors for every day of the week.
“I have an independent insurance agency that’s a client of mine and I was doing a remote there. They said it was great and they were getting all these calls and walk-ins and I was just sitting in a conference room of their office. They said, man, you almost didn’t even need to be here, the mentions were plenty.
“That gave me a light bulb moment, it was like ding! Essentially, the way we sell our title sponsors is I say the exact same things I would say if I was on remote, but instead, I’ll just be in studio. Then we’ll have panels and graphics on the screen, so they get plenty of run out of that. Everybody has been super receptive to it.”
Granted, it’s not impossible to take After Further Review out of the studio, but it’s really difficult and only been done once. It was to cover an event that almost seems mandatory to attend if you’re any kind of sports media member in the Southeast.
“Last year at SEC Media Days was the first time we took the show on the road,” said Moscona. “So I had an on-site video producer that was handling the cameras and switching. Essentially, we shot that feed back to Baton Rouge where I had a video producer in studio that handled the graphics and all the other elements. It was a pretty significant undertaking, and the fact that only two people were handling it is equal parts crazy and impressive. We pulled it off and the plan is to do it again this year.”
So think of yourself, as a show host, with a camera in your face for the entire show. Would you be entertaining to a television audience? How would you supplement those viewers instead of just sitting behind the microphone and talking for three hours? Just like there’s an entertainment aspect on radio, there’s certainly one on TV. Moscona has to find a way to make it entertaining for everyone on both formats.
“Because I have a live feed, I know what shots are going out and I know when I’m on and how to address the camera,” said Moscona. “Admittedly, I try to be a bit more theatrical with my movements so it’s not me just standing still. I talk with my hands a lot anyway, but I just try to make sure that I’m being even more descriptive with my motions.
“Honestly, I think so much of that is having a great video producer who understands how to keep a radio show on television and how to keep it moving. We’re not re-inventing the wheel, there’s plenty of radio shows on TV, but I don’t do anything differently, as far as, how I approach a topic. I always believe that if you’re not passionate about the topic, why would you expect your audience to care? That’s something that’s always in the back of my mind.”
Interviews sound so much better when both parties are in the same room. I don’t think anyone would fight me on that. If not all, just about every single guest Colin Cowherd has is in-studio. That’s the power of Fox Sports Radio and being in Los Angeles, but it only elevates the quality of the show.
Having an in-studio guest plays so much better on TV, but obviously, it’s not always feasible. Though Moscona would love all his guests to be sitting across the table from him, he knows the logistics don’t always work.
“I would love to have every guest in studio,” said Moscona. “You can have a much more personable conversation with somebody face-to-face when you can read body language and non-verbal cues. It’s much easier to carry more natural sounding conversation as opposed to a question-answer, question-answer format. But the reality is just logistics, a lot of the guests I have on are either aren’t in Baton Rouge or can’t make it in the studio that afternoon. Probably 90 percent of our guests are on the phone, but I would welcome any guest to come in studio.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
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.