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Brandon Tierney Joins The Bears

“It would be a disservice to not keep an open mind, as a person, a broadcaster, father who’s trying to show my children that anything’s possible and my wife who believes more in me than I believe in myself.”

Brandon Contes

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Humans are competing with grizzly bears and sports radio host Brandon Tierney is at the center of it all.

No, Tierney isn’t actually taking on a grizzly himself, but he’s hosting a new show for Discovery Channel featuring people that will, titled Man vs Bear.

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The concept – each week three human competitors will engage in challenges of strength, speed and stamina against three grizzlies. The bears receive home field advantage, using their Utah sanctuary for the show’s location. Each episode includes five challenges, with the top two competitors advancing to the final round against the largest bear, Bart standing 8’ 6” tall and weighing in at 1,400 pounds. Points are earned during each challenge and used to determine a champion. For the season’s final episode, the top three point-getters return for one last competition against the bears.

The series premieres on Discovery Channel Wednesday, December 4th at 9pm, featuring commentary from Brandon Tierney and co-host Casey Anderson. With 25-years of experience, Anderson is a wildlife expert on animal biology and behavior, a filmmaker, having also rescued seven bears from inhumane captivity situations. Tierney, co-host of the nationally syndicated Tiki and Tierney on CBS Sports Radio, brings more than two decades of sportscasting to Man vs Bear.

If Tierney seems like an interesting selection for this greenlit show on Discovery Channel, there were times he had the same thought. Trying something new in front of 40 cameras, 20 associate producers and three grizzly bears, is not an easy task. The opportunity was challenging, but equally rewarding.

Maybe the biggest challenge was finding a way to mix his current TV and radio gigs with the time requirements it would take to host Man vs Bear on Discovery. With his daily show on CBS Sports Radio, also simulcast on CBS Sports Network, stepping away for five weeks to work for an entirely separate entity in Discovery seemed like a tall ask. But Tierney credits his employers, bosses and agency for their willingness to work symbiotically and help him get this new opportunity.

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Although the platform is new for Tierney, the expectations are the same as his other media responsibilities – create, entertain and deliver content. The ability to step outside the box and prove something to himself, was an opportunity Tierney couldn’t pass up as he continues to embrace the world and new challenges.

BRANDON CONTES: With all of your TV and radio work, Discovery Channel is very different from anything you’ve done, how did this opportunity get to you?

BRANDON TIERNEY: I’m in an Uber heading to Nashville to do Tiki and Tierney from the NFL Draft and I get an email from my agency about a new show Discovery is working on. They were looking for a host and the email said ‘they know you, they like you and they’d like to gauge your interest.’ But as soon as I read the stipulation of a five-week hiatus to shoot the show in Beaver City, Utah I knew there was no way I could do it. I was honored, but logistically I didn’t think it could work.

They still wanted to do a Skype interview and I always think it’s good to network and meet new people. It was supposed to be 15 minutes, we ended up going for over an hour. I put my best foot forward, I had fun, I was happy with it and I honestly didn’t think much about the job beyond that.

Two days later, I get a call – they want to fly me to Los Angeles for a chemistry test.  I had a 6am flight out of Newark, flew to Los Angeles for a noon audition, went right back to the airport and was back at Newark 6am the next morning. The chemistry test was with the potential co-host and person they identified as a bear biologist, Casey. It went great and I remember telling him, I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again, but if we get a chance to do this show I can’t wait to have a scotch with you because I think we’ll do great work. [Laughs] It just felt natural.

BC: I remember you doing your show from Utah a couple of times over the summer, I didn’t realize you were out there for five weeks though!

BT: If I didn’t have the synergy between Entercom, CBS Sports Network and Tiki [Barber] as a great partner, I wouldn’t be able to do this. I took all my remaining vacation and applied it to this. During dark days, which was once, sometimes twice a week, I drove 45 miles to Salt Lake City for Tiki and Tierney. CBS Sports Net got a mobile TV studio for me to do the show and everyone made concessions for this. When I first learned about the opportunity, I didn’t think there was a chance it would come together as serendipitously as is it did. Herculean effort by all involved that I work with and for.

BC: It is pretty interesting that Discovery has no affiliation with CBS or Entercom, but they were willing to help make this happen for you.

BT: Absolutely and I was also juggling the BIG3 at the time so there was a lot going on. If one person didn’t acquiesce, then it doesn’t happen. I’m so thankful to everyone.

I’m a huge Discovery fan, but my expectations about the possibility of this working out were tempered. After I auditioned, about 4 or 5 days later, the phone rings and they think I’m a great fit. From that point it became a dance of the business aspect, which my agency works out, but now we have to tell CBS Sports and Entercom that I have this opportunity. We need to find a way to make this work logistically, which still felt unrealistic even though I was offered the role.

My agency was in constant communication with everyone involved and multiple companies, multiple people were so flexible and accommodating to make this work. It was humbling to see the work my employers put in, just so I could host this show.

BC: Were you nervous to try something so different? You’re flying out there to host a show and I’m sure you didn’t have lines memorized at the time and you didn’t have exact details as to how everything was going to work on the show.

BT: I remember sitting in my trailer, which was extravagant and hysterical in itself, but I’m looking around, I have my script, I’m mic’d up and now my hearts pounding. But its go time, you have to sink or swim, this is different, this is going to be tough, you have to make it work. You have to dig down deep and crush it.

When you do what I do every day, you have a database of thoughts and historical occurrences that you can tap into and bridge from one thought to the next if you’re ever stuck. You have an excess of verbal ammunition.

But I’m not ashamed to admit this, right before we shoot, I’m standing there with my co-host Casey. The show doesn’t start until I speak and I’m looking around and there are 40 cameras, 40 lighting technicians, this monstrosity of a set, 20 AP’s and it’s a different world! In that second, I’m a little overwhelmed and questioning can I do this? Well you better find a way because the show is about to start.

BC: You’ve done plenty of TV in your career, but did you have an interest in branching away from sports? I’m sure the challenge was exciting, but have you been targeting opportunities like this?

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BT: I’ve always had an interest in being challenged and I’ve always had a natural curiosity and again, I’ve always been an ardent fan of the Discovery Channel. I do think it’s important to have hobbies and places to check out of the sports world a little bit, to infuse normalcy into your life. I’ve attacked my career with an open mind and I’m always prepared to give different things a try.

The core of what I do is, and always will be sports, but it’s a big world and I’m not afraid to embrace and explore it. I proved something to myself, that I wasn’t 100% sure I could do. I left Utah with a different understanding of my skill set and a deep level of confidence in the ability to challenge myself.

BC: There were nerves and moments wondering if this was something you could do. If you look back on your career, radio/television, local/national, is there one job or even one moment you could reflect on and take something from that you feel helped you?

BT: You just tap into your broadcasting instincts and understand that conversation is paramount. You find what messages need to pop and resonate. One of the jobs that definitely helped, because there was a lot of standup work, was the Red Storm Report which I’ve done for a long time with MSG and St. Johns. I learned how to have a presence, because camera presence is vastly different from verbal presence.

Anytime you do something new, you tap into that vulnerability and if you channel that properly, it really goes from a possible detriment to a true asset. The first time I was ever on TV in Detroit, or on Cold Pizza with ESPN, when I auditioned for First Take, when I helped launch a national radio network, those are moments where there’s not necessarily a net if you fall and we all fall because nobody does every segment and is fully enthralled in what you do. You have to be self-critical, you also have to appreciate when you do something well and find that balance.

BC: Did you interact with the grizzlies?

BT: We were close to them. They’re tame, they’ve been out of the wildlife since birth, but they’re still animals. There’s a whole protocol with the wildlife team and with their trainers, but Bart – the biggest bear is almost 9-feet tall and 1400 pounds. There were times when we’re shooting promos and Bart is only 11 or 12 feet away from us and my back is to him. I’m trying to deliver these lines, but I’m human! You realize, if something, God forbid happens, you’ll be squashed like a gnat and ripped apart like a salmon! It puts a charge through your body that you can’t replicate because we’re not faced with those innate dangers day to day.

BC: Has branching out inspired you to set other TV goals? Stephen A. Smith talks about wanting a late night show. Do you now have new goals that you previously never thought were attainable?

BT: You’re always looking to evolve. My personal evolution as a broadcaster has gone from local radio, moving to larger markets, incorporating TV and not being very good at first, going national. All of the different auditions and different jobs have reinforced that I’m incredibly lucky, but also that I’ve been talented enough, smart and blessed to take advantage of those opportunities. You don’t jump at every project, you get to a point where you can turn things down, but anything is possible. I’m at the point now, in my 40s, I’m a dad, I’ve traveled the country, I’m in tune and curious about the world. It would be a disservice to not keep an open mind, as a person, a broadcaster, father who’s trying to show my children that anything’s possible and my wife who believes more in me than I believe in myself. There are no limitations. 

BC: You have this big platform with your national radio show, could it be easy to ever get complacent and say I’m just going to focus on this and not look for new opportunities?

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BT: This is going to sound contrived, but I don’t look passed today in terms of my profession and I can say this with 100% conviction, I don’t take a segment off. There’s no such thing as this show’s been good, I can mail the rest of it in. There’s always some young buck ready to come take your job and eventually somebody will. We all get older, but I’ve always viewed myself as an underdog.

I’m from a middle-class family in Brooklyn where these jobs didn’t seem attainable. I didn’t have one connection in this business so I’ve fought and scrapped for everything I’ve earned. There are people who have given me the chance to prove them right and if I didn’t have those platforms, I absolutely wouldn’t be here today, but I wake up every morning and my mission is to slay it on the radio. To put out the most thought-provoking, passionate, energetic show of anybody. I’m probably insecure in my place in the industry. There are a lot of things I’m proud of on my resume, but it doesn’t feel that way. I’m not Stephen A. Smith. I’m in a good space, but there are still several rungs to climb. Complacency? Not a chance.

BC: What’s next for your radio show? I get the need to slay it and the underdog mentality when you’re young and you’re in small markets, climbing and chasing something. But you did local, you did major market, you’ve done morning, midday, now you’re in the afternoons on a national stage – What’s the next step for your radio career? What are you chasing exactly? Would you ever go back to local?

BT: My focus is on this show. To gain more affiliates and more markets, to convince people to say ‘Tiki and Tierney, that’s a show that we need.’ Three hours is great, I want four hours, five hours, I want more real estate, I want a larger platform, I want to connect with more people and continue to solidify the Tiki and Tierney, the CBS Sports Radio brand into the sporting realm every day.

I’m up for juggling some local, there’s a part of my heart that is local. Local radio is imbedded in my soul and I’d be dishonest if I said I wouldn’t be open to being able to do both. I also use Twitter for that local connection. But the Tiki and Tierney brand has grown and Tiki has really grown. He’s smart, curious and passionate for being great.

We’re motivated by the same things, but we’re very different and I think that’s why our balance is great. He knows when to let me go nuts for a few minutes and conversely, I can see when it’s time to give him 30 carries and let him roll. I want this show to get bigger.

The thing about national radio that I never thought I would say when we launched and certainly wouldn’t have said 10, 12 years ago when I was immersed in local, is that national has enabled me to branch into a different space. The way sports radio has changed and the way people talk about societal topics has opened up the opportunity for new conversations.

BC: Right, if something important outside of sports happens on the west coast, the conversation in New York remains Mets and Yankees, national lets you talk about happenings around the country.

BT: Sports will remain the commonality for our show, but we can morph into important, real-life, sometimes uncomfortable discussions. That is something I cherish and would never want to lose. In my mind, if you really don’t carry any bias or any hatred toward any person, then you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about this stuff. If you’re open-minded and embrace the exchange of ideas, there are no boundaries for what you can create and that’s very satisfying and appealing, especially as a dad.

BC: Is it frustrating, you are a New Yorker, Tiki has obvious ties to New York, but the show isn’t available in New York terrestrially.

BT: I crave a New York affiliate, this show absolutely deserves and has earned a New York affiliate! But I have Twitter and other outlets, I’m at the Garden for St. John’s games and seeing people on the street to fill that local desire.

I love baseball and can talk about it as well as anyone, but with this show, we don’t need to spend three hours in the middle of the summer breaking down Mickey Callaway’s use of the bullpen. At this stage of my life, I like conversations with depth and layers. With a national platform, you can create interesting and unique discussions.

BC: You mentioned sitting in your trailer and then standing in front of the 40 cameras on set. Your heart is pounding. At this point in your career, after doing this for decades, how often do you get that heart pounding feeling when you’re on the radio.

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BT: Every day. My fear of underachieving and not attempting to reach greatness is my fuel. It’s what keeps me sharp. You can ask Tiki, two or three minutes before we go on-air I feel like I’m going into the ring for a heavyweight fight. It’s go-time. Everybody’s pregame routine is different, but this is what works for me. I don’t deviate from it because without that urgency, I don’t feel as if I’m delivering what I want to deliver to my audience.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

BSM Writers

Chris Broussard Is No Longer Just A ‘Basketball Guy’

“There’s no doubt that gets attached to you and that can be good because you’re seen as an ‘expert’ in one sport which is great.”

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After embarking on a career in sports, Chris Broussard made a name for himself as a writer, specifically as it pertains to covering the NBA. Whether it was covering the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, covering the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets for The New York Times, or doing television hits for ESPN, Broussard had always, whether it was justified or not, been pigeon-holed as a “basketball guy”.

That was the perception then, but today, the reality is different.

“There’s no doubt that gets attached to you and that can be good because you’re seen as an ‘expert’ in one sport which is great,” said Broussard, the co-host of First Things First on FS1 and the co-host of The Odd Couple on FOX Sports Radio. 

“But what was good for me was that at ESPN, I had done First Take with Skip Bayless a lot.  There were a few years where it was a rotation and I was in that rotation. That enabled me to at least do the other sports.” 

Broussard has certainly made a seamless transition from print to electronic media.

After joining The New York Times in 1998, Broussard started to get television exposure doing local hits and then appearances on the various ESPN platforms would soon follow. He joined ESPN full-time in 2004 as a writer for ESPN The Magazine, but that also included regular guest appearances and fill-in hosting opportunities on shows like First Take and the opportunity to be a co-host for NBA Countdown for the 2010-11 season.

With that gig came the opportunity to work with Michael Wilbon, Jon Barry, and his childhood hero Magic Johnson.

“I think that may be have been the pinnacle because Magic is Magic,” said Broussard. “He was my favorite player until Jordan came along and (with Wilbon and Barry), we just had great chemistry.”

After one season, Broussard and Barry were replaced by Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose. A few years later, Broussard would make the move that would bring him to the next chapter of his career.

In 2016, Broussard left what amounted to being just a reporters role at ESPN for a new opportunity at FS1 where he would also be an analyst as well as a regular panelist for shows like Undisputed, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, First Things First and Lock It In.  In 2018, he began co-hosting The Odd Couple radio show with Rob Parker on FOX Sports Radio.

And then in August of 2021, Broussard was named the full-time co-host of First Things First, something that almost had happened when the network first launched.

“When they asked me to come on as a full-time co-host, it was great and maybe a long time coming,” said Broussard. “I know when Jamie Horowitz first brought all the people over from ESPN to be on FS1 in 2016, he was considering doing a show where Nick Wright and I were the co-hosts.”

Broussard now co-hosts the show with Wright and Kevin Wildes.

“I thought that I really just fit right in with the chemistry and it’s just been a great trio,” said Broussard. 

Born in Baton Rouge, Broussard and his family also lived in Cincinnati, Indiana, Syracuse, Iowa, and Cleveland.  He was a star football and basketball player for Holy Name High School in Parma Heights, Ohio and went on to play basketball for Oberlin College, an NCAA Division III school in Ohio.

Believe it or not, his first love was not basketball.

“My favorite sport growing up was football,” said Broussard. “I played football through high school. I played basketball at Oberlin College but they recruited for me football and basketball. I even played baseball up until I was about 16 years old.” 

So much for being just a basketball guy, right?

After college, Broussard had a decision to make. He knew he wanted to be a sports reporter but wasn’t sure if it was going to be print or electronic media. When he was an intern at The Indianapolis Star, he spoke to people in the know about which direction to go.

“I was told that it’s just easier and there are more spots in print journalism than there are in television and radio,” said Broussard. “I chose print because I thought I had more opportunities.”

Broussard’s first taste of covering pro sports was in 1995 at the Akron Beacon Journal when he was a backup writer covering the Cleveland Indians who would go to the World Series for the first time since 1954. Then came covering the Cavaliers for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and then it was off to New York and a bit of culture shock for Broussard.

During his 2 ½ years covering the Cavaliers, Broussard typically wore a rugby shirt, jeans and sneakers at games. But he noticed that when the Knicks and Nets would come to Cleveland or when Broussard travelled to New York and New Jersey when the Cavaliers visited the Knicks and Nets, that the New York writers would typically wear suits and ties when covering the games.

So, when he interviewed for the job with The New York Times, Broussard had an important question for his future editor.

“I asked him when I was being interviewed for the job do they require that your writers dress up,” said Broussard. “He said no but they do generally in New York because they know television opportunities are there. So, when I started working at The New York Times, I started dressing up wearing a suit and tie or sportscoat and tie whenever I would cover games.  Ultimately that led to television.”

And the rest is history.

This coming week, Broussard will be busy co-hosting his shows from the Super Bowl in Arizona. It’s one thing to host a radio show or a television show from a studio but it’s really something special to do it from a live event, especially on the giant stage of the Super Bowl.

And this week, Broussard will be center stage in front of a lot of ears and eyeballs.

“It’s always great,” said Broussard. “FOX Sports Radio always has one of the biggest and best platforms on radio row. It’s always fun when you’re doing these live shows at the big events and you’ve got an audience, it really can kind of bring out the best in you. I’m excited about it both for TV and radio.”

Chris Broussard has certainly come a long way in his career in sports. 

From his days as an athlete in high school in college to getting his start as a write to a transformation into a radio and television personality, Broussard has worked hard to get to where he is today.

“I haven’t written a word since I went to Fox,” said Broussard. “I do feel fortunate that I’ve been able from morph from a writer into TV and radio. What you want to do in this business is stay relevant and you want an audience and a platform. There’s not that many people who get that opportunity to do it.”

He’s no longer just a “basketball guy”. He’s a “sports guy”.

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BSM Writers

Radio Row Is One of Sports Radio’s Worst Weeks

Radio Row is a great opportunity for hosts, PDs, and executives. But it isn’t an inherently great opportunity for your listeners.

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From strictly a listener’s perspective, sports radio the week of Super Bowl’s Radio Row is one of the worst weeks.

Before I was a sports radio programmer, I was a sports radio listener. And while I didn’t realize it at the time, I was listening to sports radio with a programmer’s mindset. And every year, I would spend the entire week listening to shows produced live — or pretending to be live — from Radio Row at the Super Bowl. And each year, I would wonder “What the hell is the point of this?”

And now, as a former sports radio programmer, I will sit this week and listen to shows produced live — or pretending to be live — from Radio Row at the Super Bowl. And each day, I will wonder “What the hell is the point of this?”

Who does it serve? Let’s take an in-depth look at that question.

It serves the NFL. Hundreds of media professionals are stationed at its largest event, talking about it, ensuring it stays at the forefront of the public consciousness and providing millions in value for its sponsors.

It serves NFL players. Both past and present. Dozens of current and former stars will flock to Radio Row to record dozens of interviews. They’ll be paid thousands of dollars to pitch their wares as often as possible while expanding their brands outside the cities in which they currently or formerly played.

It serves the sponsors of NFL players. Radio Row provides a one-stop-shop for sponsors to send their endorsers down a line of interviews to continually get in front of new audiences. Scale, baby!

It serves the hosts, PDs, and executives. You get a working vacation! It’s awesome! I live in the Midwest, and yesterday was one of a handful of days I’ve seen the sun since November. Being in Arizona in early February is phenomenal! Plus, you get to hob knob with celebrities, get your photos taken, go to awesome parties with extravagant hor dourves and open bars, and it’s fantastic. You deserve the little break Radio Row provides; better yet, it’s all on the company dime. You get some bonding with your co-workers, you get to network, and it really is an awesome opportunity.

But you know who isn’t served? Your listeners. At least, the vast majority of them. Because here’s the reality: While it’s really cool that you’re hanging out with other radio folks, and you’ll have a plethora of former and current players swinging by for interviews, your listeners really don’t care. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s the truth. While there’s a subset of listeners who are living vicariously through you — and that can’t be completely shortchanged, it’s a big deal — the overwhelming majority couldn’t be less invested in your Radio Row interviews.

Think of it from a listener’s viewpoint: Outside of the Bay Area, do you think anyone has thought “Man, I wonder who Kyle Juszczyk thinks is gonna win the Super Bowl?” I’ll tell you that, no, they haven’t thought that, and they don’t particularly care what he thinks. Furthermore, they definitely don’t care that he’s sponsored by Old Spice, which gives him the P-P-P-Power!™

And it would be fine if there was one interview here or there, but there are some shows — both local and national — that will completely fill out their rundowns with interviews with people your listeners don’t especially care about, ask questions that your listeners don’t especially care about, and end the interview by asking who they think wins Sunday, why they think that way, and allow them to pitch their boner pills or whatever else they’re schlepping. Every day. For five straight days. For two, three, four, or even five hours.

It stinks.

Self-serving isn’t bad as long as you recognize it’s self-serving. And that could be potentially the biggest issue. Now and then, you’ll get a host that is sanctimonious and pretends they’re doing the listener a favor by spending a week away from their family in a warm weather destination, rubbing elbows with some of the greatest players — both past and present — in the game. You’re not. You’re spending a week eating all the free food you can find, drinking all the free beer you can find, and taking pictures to post on your Instagram. And that’s fine, but don’t pretend like it’s something it isn’t. You can talk yourself into its importance, but it’s important to you.

Radio Row is a great opportunity for hosts, PDs, and executives. But it isn’t an inherently great opportunity for your listeners. You can turn it into one with thoughtful questions, a unique spin on the traditional interview, or avoiding the same boring questions your subject has been asked 1,000 times during the day, but you’ve gotta go the extra mile to accomplish that. And I hope that’s not something you lose sight of this week.

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BSM Writers

What Are The Right Social Media Answers For Sports Radio?

“What are the limits of social media for radio brands? Are there any?”

Demetri Ravanos

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Social media does not stand still. The platforms that matter today can fall out of favor with the general public in the blink of an eye. Conversely, the right feature or attention from the right people can catapult a site’s importance in the social pecking order.

How does a radio company determine what matters? Are all formats received similarly on social media or is sports radio such a unique animal that brands have to be much more deliberate in how resources are allocated? To answer these questions, I turned to some experts. 

Tom Izzo doesn’t exclude any platform when he is plotting WFAN’s social strategy. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter may each attract a different type of sports fan, but they all matter in building and serving the larger audience.

“There is sports radio audience on every social media platform, you just have to talk to them differently depending where you are,” he told me. “The language and audience on Twitter is different than the language and audience on Facebook, but there is audience everywhere.”

Audience is everywhere. That’s what is at the heart of the conundrum. How do you best utilize your assets in a landscape that isn’t just constantly changing? It’s also constantly growing!

Lori Lewis has overseen social media strategy at an executive level for Cumulus, Westwood One, Jacobs Media and iHeart among others. Now she coaches companies on creating great content with her own company, Lori Lewis Media

She told me that the key for not just sports stations, but for any brand, is understanding what their audience prioritizes. That doesn’t mean it should be the brand’s only focus though.

“Obviously, for sports radio, it’s Twitter. But don’t sleep on short-form vertical video,” she said in an email. “When done right, you’ll see success (meaning converting views into new fans) with YouTube Shorts and/or Instagram Reels as well as playback videos on Facebook (those are visual replays from the audio show).”

Converting views into new fans was taken to a bit of an extreme in Nashville. 104.5 The Zone launched Zone TV in 2021. Will Boling took the lead in creating the product. He says that launching a proprietary video stream was never about moving away from other social platforms. It was about giving listeners more access to better content in more places.

“Our video platform affects a lot of our social strategy,” he said. “On Twitter, we don’t want to just be seen as a radio station, but as a media company. Our Twitter stream allows us to react to breaking news while also sharing our broadcast at the same time. And with Twitch’s video producer, we can create featured clips from shows whenever we want. That allows us to push video out of featured guests, funny callers and anything in between to promote our podcasts from each show too.”

Video matters so much more than ever before. It does not matter who you talk to or what platform it is you are talking about. The answer always comes back to using video to attract more eyeballs.

TikTok, our most controversial social video platform, is trying to figure out what its reach could be without the visuals. Last month the company announced that it would experiment with its version of podcasts – a mode on the app that would allow users to experience TikTok content as audio-only entertainment.

I asked all three of my experts what their initial impression of the story is. Only Izzo expressed reservations.

“Probably no need for us to be first anywhere if there isn’t any particular benefit to doing that,” he said. “We’ll watch and see what happens and if it turns out that people like consuming podcasts on TikTok we will certainly address that.”

That doesn’t mean WFAN hosts and bosses won’t keep a keen eye on the feature. I would anticipate that there may be some experimental posts that either don’t receive much of a push or perhaps never see the light of day at all.

Boling is adamant that any use of TikTok is a wise one for stations. He says anything set up with an algorithm that rewards creators for posting content the audience connects with is an asset that cannot be ignored.

“We use social media to push listeners to our YouTube channel because it’s an algorithm based platform. If we get someone to click on our page once, then our channel will get recommended to them the next time they get on YouTube. TikTok helps radio companies accomplish that and own every space in the digital market right now.”

Unsurprisingly, it’s Lori Lewis that approaches the feature in the most scientific way. Do TikTok podcasts represent a sort of new frontier for audio brands? Sure, but just like Grogu and the Mandalorian, you have to go there and poke around before you can figure out how it will work best for you.

“If TikTok expands to audio, how might you complement the mothership (The FM/AM stick) and build on the trust you’ve earned from your show? What’s a unique way to tap into new features? As social media evolves, so should our approach.”

What are the limits of social media for radio brands? Are there any? Since the onset of the pandemic, so much listening has shifted from terrestrial signals to digital streams. We have totally rethought what we are. Why should it stop with how our audience consumes our content? 

I asked Lewis if we are too narrow in thinking about how social media can serve us. Are we so focused on what is that we have not considered what could be? Can a brand have one identity on air and use social media to create something that does not mirror it, but instead compliments it?

“Depends on why you’re using social media,” she answered. “If you’re leveraging social media for increased awareness and building trust to drive more engagement during your show, it might not make sense to be different on social than on-air. But, if you’re a vanilla brand limited to creativity on-air, why not? Throw yourself out there. Show your real, relatable self (assuming it’s legal and appropriate, ha-ha). Relatability wins every time.”

Do we have to be deliberate in sports radio with how we allocate our social media resources? Yes, but that doesn’t mean there is a single correct answer. 

Strategy matters on air. It’s no different on social media. But in order to figure out the best strategy, you have to be open-minded and eager to play around with new offerings to determine what works.

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