If you’re seeking to bring out passion from your listeners, there’s few things that work better than telling them why their favorite team should change its name. That passion is being brought out right now in cities such as Atlanta, Cleveland, Kansas City and Washington D.C., as the Braves, Indians, Chiefs and the team that used to be named the Redskins are at the forefront of the Native American imagery discussion.
I asked hosts from those cities just how much of a hot-button topic it has become in their respective markets.
Tyler McComas: The Braves have announced they’re keeping the name, but how much of a conversation was it on your show before that decision was made?
John Kincade – 680 The Fan: There were a lot of people speculating in the last few weeks that there could potentially be pressure on the Braves. What the Braves did, is they took the proactive approach. They’ve had ties with the Native American community for years. They’ve been proactive in the past, so they knew they’d have the support of the Native American community when the decision was made to keep the Braves name.
TM: These are topics that fans are passionate about, so you have to talk about them on the show. But do you necessarily like doing it?
JK: The ‘chop dilemma’ is one we’ve gotten into deep again today. I am of the belief, the Braves can stop playing it on the organ, and they can stop playing it on the Jumbotron, but the fan base is going to continue to do it and do it louder than ever. The minute that it’s taken away from them they’re going to do it louder. I think the Braves fan base will keep it alive, it’s just a matter if the Braves are going to ride along with them, or not.
TM: How much are you hearing from fans about the Indians potentially changing their name?
Emmett Golden – ESPN Cleveland: A lot. It’s a huge topic. Most people just want to call in and give us an idea for a new name, which is much different than when they talked about wanting to remove Chief Wahoo. Everybody was mad and upset. There are some people that are upset about this, but most of the talk on our show is really what the new name should be.
TM: Are there any names that have stood out?
EG: The Guardians is one of them. There’s a bridge in Cleveland that has massive structures of the guardians of the city. So Guardians is one of them. A lot of the other names have just been funny, like the Cleveland Walleye. I can never see that one happening, but Lake Erie has a lot of walleye. It’s been everything, including people saying to call them The Cleveland Baseball Club. I heard so many ideas, most of them terrible. (Laughs.) It’s definitely the talk of the town.
TM: It’s definitely a hot-button topic now. But has it been that way in the past?
EG: It’s been a conversation that’s been going on longer than I’ve been alive. Over 40 years, because on Opening Day in the 70s there was a big party in Cleveland in the ballpark sold out. There was a protest from Native Americans, which actually happens every Opening Day. It’s something that gets attention that day and then it’s not talked about much after. It’s a little different now but it actually seems like they’re really serious this time around.
TM: What are you hearing from fans on your show about the Indians changing its name?
Adam the Bull- 92.3 The Fan: It’s definitely a mixed opinion. It’s a tough subject, like everything else we’re talking about right now. A lot of the stuff is on a political divide, which is something that shouldn’t even be, like the Coronavirus or social justice or even this, right?
The people that want to keep the name feel strongly about it. The people that think the name should be changed, feel strongly about it. I think it’s just time at this point. We’ve actually not spent that much time talking about it, we’ve spent more time talking about what they should change it to, rather than if they should change it.
TM: If you’re really not talking much about it now, has it really ever been that big of a conversation?
AB: Not really. The Chief Wahoo logo has been the bigger conversation. I’m dead set against the Chief Wahoo logo. I think it’s clearly inappropriate and I was saying for years that it should’ve been gone. They finally did it but that reaction was also mixed.
For me personally, I was never sure about Indians. I was not positive. I spent so much time trying to research online and trying to find what the Native American population thinks about the name. It was really hard to find information on that. The more we learn over the years, it does seem like it’s time to move on from that name. I think it’s going to happen, because I don’t think the organization would’ve brought it up, because nobody was talking about the Indians when the Redskins were brought up. At least initially. It makes me think it’s definitely going to happen. Maybe not this year but I assume it’s going to happen in the next couple years.
TM: How would Kansas City react if the Chiefs change its name?
Bob Fescoe – 610 Sports: There’s a couple of ways to look at it. One, if they have to change their name, then they have to change their name. We’ve kind of discussed it little bit on the show and if they have to change their name, that’s fine. They’re still playing in Kansas City, right? Ultimately, that’s all we want. Plus, it’ll give fans the chance to form a new identity with a new team. But I don’t know if there’s going to be pressure, so to speak, to change their name, because the name ‘chief’ comes from the old mayor of Kansas City, Harold Bartle, who, at the time, was nicknamed chief. He was in the Boy Scouts and had a big role with them. He was the mayor that recruited the Dallas Texans to come to Kansas City. That’s where the name chief comes from. But there’s a couple of things like the tomahawk chop and the banging of the drum, things like that, which may be looked at. I would be totally fine with if they had to make those adjustments.
TM: How much has the conversation of the name change driven the show?
BF: Hasn’t even been brought up, to be honest with you. There’s been so much going on with us trying to figure out what’s going on in baseball, like how the Royals are going to approach the season. Obviously the Patrick Mahomes contract was signed on Monday and that’s dominated the entire week.
Quite honestly, I think it came up briefly when we brought up the Redskins and we suggested if the Chiefs would be next. I think we’re moving towards a time where insensitive names are not acceptable anymore.
TM: The changing of the name Redskins has been a topic for a lot of shows outside the DC market. How much has the past couple of weeks been centered on that conversation?
Chad Dukes – 106.7 The Fan: Most of it. This past week, that topic was the full week of shows. I’d say roughly 75% of everything I discussed had to do with the name. The Patrick Mahomes contract came up, which was nice, because it gave us another topic. I hate the name stuff. For me, it’s just doing my job and what we should be talking. But it’s horrible radio. It’s people listing the same awful names, over and over. Nobody is really changing their mind about anything. I enjoy doing 99% of the job but this is the one percent you have to gut out.
TM: Is there a name that would appease the majority of the fan base?
CD: I don’t know. Online is so much different from the real world. People are so obsessed with keeping the name red and I just think it’s like going out on a date with a new girl and you want her to wear the dress that your ex-girlfriend wore.
Like, what are we doing? Do you want to keep HTTR, “Hail to the Redskins”? But it’s not Redskins? You can fight it, you can decide we’re keeping the name and screw everybody and all the people that are loyal to that cause will rally around it. Or change the name and don’t call them the Natives or the Warriors or any other Native American imagery. Why would you call the team the Red Wolves? Call the team the Wolves. People online are just handling It very differently than people in the real world
TM: When the conversation happens, does it always end up being just a way to bash Dan Snyder?
CD: People that want the name changed, they’ll never give him any credit for changing it because they’ll say he only did it because the Fed ex Or Amazon. He’s actually become more of a sympathetic figure to long time Redskins fans, because I don’t think they want the name changed. I don’t think they’re as vocal about it because you get attacked and called horrible things, if you just see it as a name for football team.
His record is his record, you can look at what the team has done. But I think there’s a large group of people that feel little a bit better about Dan Snyder because they view him as a guy that’s trying to keep this tradition alive, while cancel culture is raining down all around him.
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.