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That Was One Hell Of A Weekend, Are You Ready For What’s Next?

“This isn’t a list designed to freak you out. It’s just the reality of where we sit.”

Demetri Ravanos

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It started in the wee hours of Friday morning. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump each tweeted that they have been diagnosed with Covid-19.

As the day went on, we found out multiple Senators, multiple Trump 2020 campaign staffers, and the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee were all positive for the virus as well. The spread has been traced back to an event to honor Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in the White House Rose Garden last week. You can track all of the diagnoses, both positive and negative, stemming from the event here.

President Trump has COVID-19: A timeline of events

Now, this isn’t a political post or a political story, because while the NFL was having to work out schedules and answer question about the Titans and Steelers for most of the week, the bomb dropped on Saturday. That is when the league’s biggest star to test positive yet, New England Patriots’ QB Cam Newton was revealed to have the coronavirus. As of this writing, the NFL has lost two games from the Week 4 slate.

This is nothing new if you’re a college football fan. That sport has already lost or postponed more than 20 games this season because of outbreaks of Covid-19 on campuses. But as the kids say, “it just hits different” when the NFL is involved.

Let this weekend and these stories serve as a reminder that even if we are all experiencing Covid fatigue, the virus is real and still very much part of our lives.

Each of these events would be enough to set my mind racing on their own. I mean, a sitting president being diagnosed with a potentially deadly virus for which there is no cure? Jesus, that is scary! As they started piling up though, I found myself getting numb to the shock of each individual bit of bad news and doing more big picture thinking.

So look, coming out of this weekend, there is a lot you need to keep in mind. This isn’t a list designed to freak you out. It’s just the reality of where we sit.

FIRST, THIS THING IS FAR FROM OVER

Plenty of people are still choosing not to wear masks. There’s no vaccine yet, and poll after poll shows people aren’t eager to take one if it comes out before Election Day.

We saw an uptick in cases after Memorial Day. What happens after Halloween or throughout the Holiday season? These are times people can’t imagine not being social. That is going to have consequences.

12 best Houston Halloween parties for grown-ups - HoustonChronicle.com

THAT MEANS MORE FURLOUGHS AND LAYOFFS ARE COMING

Uncertainty is no one’s friend in the media business. Employers are constantly being forced to justify their expenses. If teams and leagues are shortening schedules or pressing pause, if they aren’t letting media into locker rooms, and if clients are hesitant to spend money, the decision makers are going to be asked to make some tough decisions very soon.

All of the big three radio companies (Cumulus, Entercom, and iHeartMedia) have already gone through one or more rounds of layoffs and furloughs. Logic tells you it isn’t over though.

iHeart just turned many furloughs into permanent layoffs. The first round of Entercom layoffs was largely focused on just two formats. Cumulus’s first round of layoffs was relatively small in terms of programming staffs.

People aren’t out there spending money yet. Life is nowhere close to normal yet. As long as companies are still losing money, the threat of the unemployment line looms over everyone.

SO THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU TAKE TO SOCIAL MEDIA

Okay, if you are in sports radio, this is a lesson you learned a couple of weeks ago, but it bears repeating now more than ever, because a hugely divisive President being in the hospital with a life threatening illness is a very different ballgame.

There is a huge difference between saying you think a politician is terrible at his job and saying you hope he dies. One may piss people off, but there is no need for your company to react. The other gives them no choice.

The same goes for your feelings on Cam Newton or any other NFL player. The President being in the hospital with this virus, whether you like him or not, kind of puts everyone on edge in this country as it relates to this.

Look, I have as dark a sense of humor as anyone, but at some point, you gotta do some mental math. No amount of retweets or gif reactions is worth losing your income. And in a time where every company is conscious of its expenses, that may just be the result of “why couldn’t our quarterback get it!” tweets.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH

Man, I don’t know about anyone else, but I have hit a wall. I don’t know how much more I can take of this lockdown. I’m depressed, I’m anxious, and I’m kinda sick of seeing the same four faces inside the same four walls everyday.

Global Mental Health Report Cites 'Pitifully Small' Support, Looks For  Solutions : Goats and Soda : NPR

My wife and I have been pretty good about building breaks in for each other. One of us will go to a hotel alone for a night just to enjoy some solitude. I might be doing that as you are reading this.

If you have time left, take a day or two off. Unplug for a day. The news is awful and it is everywhere. For me, it all kind of clicked during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat and the Celtics both came out so slow. Jayson Tatum missed every shot he took in the first half. It just felt like every guy that touched the floor wanted to be somewhere else.

After the game, Jaylen Brown acknowledged that was indeed the case. He said the decision not to charge any officers with killing Bronna Taylor weighed heavy on he and his teammates. It was just another shovel full of crap on what has been a really hard year.

It can be hard to unplug from bad news in a world where everything is connected, but you have to find a way to. At the very least, you have to find a way to break up the monotony of every single day. Things can start to feel like a countdown from waking up to going back to sleep otherwise.

Don’t just dismiss those feelings with an “I’ll deal with it” or “It’s no big deal.” Not only do you need to take care of yourself, but you also owe it to your host, co-host, producer, PD, or whoever to do your best work. If your day-to-day existence feels like walking from one stark white room to another, chances are you are just as checked out at work.

This past weekend was a hell of a decade! Every couple hours it felt like we were getting a story that could have been one of the biggest of the year in any other year. It was exhausting, but in a very weird way, it was an important reminder of where things stand right now.

Kevin Drum – Mother Jones

We are still living through an extraordinary event. Be smart. Wear a mask. And most importantly, take care of yourself.

God only knows what’s in store for next weekend!

BSM Writers

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.

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WRONG BAD

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.

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BSM Writers

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.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

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.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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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.

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