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Apps You Shouldn’t Live Without In The Booth

“Who wouldn’t want to carry a less heavy briefcase from city to city, am I right?”

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You walk into the broadcast booth ready for another day of baseball. You put down your bag, reach in and pull out your pencils, pens, tape, scorebook and whatever other tools you use. There in front of you are reams of paper, that include game notes, stat packs, minor league reports and other information that is deemed useful for your broadcast. How do you make heads or tails out of it all? How do you organize it so that the important information is where you need it, when you need it? 

Image result for baseball broadcast booth

Organization is what it’s all about. Again, as I’ve said in previous writings, there is no one way to do things. It’s always up to the individual as to what works for him/her in that job. Often as with other things, these skills evolve over time.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that technology can be your friend. As intimidating as new things can be to veteran broadcasters, I truly believe that a computer or tablet can really save the day. Everything you could need, is in one place and can lighten your load a little too. Who wouldn’t want to carry a less heavy briefcase from city to city, am I right? 

I have discovered a few apps and programs that have helped me along the way. Full disclosure, I am not being paid or endorsing any of the following apps/programs, just letting you know what works for me. 

I generally use my iPad more than my computer during a broadcast, but do from time to time use both. I find that the tablet eliminates the need to bring certain things with me to the ballpark that before were necessary. 

The biggest and clunkiest things I used to carry were a team’s media guide. Some were spiral bound, some were not, but all were bulky and heavy in my bag.

Image result for major league baseball media guide

Now with a PDF reader (I use PDF Expert, which is an app that you’d need to purchase) I can download the guides and call them up on this app. It gives you a chance to also see all the pages, so thumbing from player to player is relatively easy.

I can have both team’s guides up at the same time, since the app has labeled tabs at the top. The program also allows you to annotate the pages. You can highlight or even write notes of your own. I do not miss carrying around those guides. 

Prep can also be a little easier with several apps that will sync information from either your phone or tablet to your computer. If I’m down in the dugout, taking notes on what the manager is saying on my phone, the information comes up to my computer and iPad. This way I have it right in front of me without having to transcribe or even email it to myself. It’s a nice convenience that saves me time in the preparation process I’ve developed. 

There are a couple of apps that I would recommend trying, one is OneNote from Microsoft. If you have an Apple Pencil, it will also allow you to write notes on the page as well. The other one is Evernote which does basically the same things as OneNote. It is a pay per month app (for more storage capacity), while OneNote is free (5GB). 

There are a couple of other word processing apps that also perform a sync from computer to tablet and vice versa. Microsoft Word and Pages both get the job done. They are also good for organizing notes and being able to know where things are within the app. 

For information during a game, including score updates, news surrounding other teams and to check mentions, I like Tweet Deck. For those not familiar with it, you can set up your Twitter account in 4 or 5 panes on the same screen. You can have your normal feed in one pane, notifications in another, mentions in a third and you can set up a search in the last one. I like to have this app running during a game so if there is news from another game, I can pass it along to my listeners. I am careful who I follow to make sure the information is credible. Twitter has become such an immediate source of news and has many benefits to broadcasters. 

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A great collaborative app is Slack. We’ve recently set up a Slack channel for the sharing of information between broadcasters and media relations with the White Sox. It’s tremendous to be able to get instant information that will enhance the broadcasts on radio and television. We share injury updates, minor league news and info and statistical information on players that can be relevant to our viewers/listeners.

For the more daring broadcaster, there is iScore, which is a scoring app that you can use right on your tablet. It is something I’ve tried a few times with varying results.

Image result for iscore app

The basic premise is interesting and it would allow me to leave my scorebook at home. With any technology there are limitations and iScore tries to make it easy to score a game quickly and accurately, working in substitutions and being able to actually look at a score sheet are a bit difficult to master. Time is critical of course while calling a game, but in this case I’m a bit of a dinosaur and prefer and writing it myself. It is worth a try though if you are feeling a bit daring. 

Hopefully these apps will make your life as a broadcaster a bit easier. Remember technology can be your friend!

BSM Writers

Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content

Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.

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USA Today

When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.

“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.

Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:

1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”

2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.

The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.

I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.

Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”

There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.

First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.

The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.

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BSM Writers

The Client Just Said YES, Now What?

We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.

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One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!

We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.

When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.

They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.

A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 74

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This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.

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