Andy Lindahl was born and raised in a Bronco household. His mom was a TV yeller, which eventually trickled down to him. As a general rule of thumb, those who raise their voice at the TV don’t lack passion. Andy is no exception. He went on to cover Denver sports for more than two decades including a 10-year stint as the Broncos sideline reporter. I find it interesting that Andy views the process of divorcing his fandom as a blessing and a curse. He tells people that he loves the Broncos, but when the team sucks like they have for the last five years, he’s going to say they suck.
Two of Andy’s biggest influences include a pair of his former radio partners Mark Schlereth and Scott Hastings. Andy has worked at KOA, Orange & Blue 760, and now at his current home Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM. He hosts afternoon drive with his partner Nate Kreckman. As you will gather while reading this piece, Andy can definitely tell a story. He has a knack for connecting with people and finding things that are memorable. I enjoyed my chat with Andy and my money is on you enjoying our conversation as well.
Brian Noe: What were some of the toughest situations you encountered when you were the Broncos’ sideline reporter?
Andy Lindahl: Super Bowl XLVIII sucked for a lot of reasons. It sucked doing the job because I walked into that locking room and I had developed relationships with guys — Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Knowshon (Moreno) a little bit, Pot Roast (defensive tackle Terrance Knighton) was one of them. All of those guys except for Pot Roast gave me a look like don’t you dare come over here and ask me anything. Nobody wanted to talk in that locker room. As I approached the tunnel, I’m like man this is going to suck. I don’t even know what to ask these guys. That was such an ass kicking. It was so surprising that they lost that badly to the Seahawks.
Eli and Archie were in front of me as I was approaching the locker room because I always gave my headset and mic to Peyton so he could talk to Dave Logan in the booth. I was following Eli and Archie. One of the security guards gave me the look of like hey give him a minute. Eli walked in and not 30 seconds later flew out of there walking three times the speed as what he walked in there. I was like oh God this is going to be bad. Then when I got in there, nobody talked except for Pot Roast. He was always good to me I think in part because he wanted to be in the media. He was like ‘Andy I’ll talk to you. Just come here.’ I remember Dave throws down to me and I started to ask a question and everybody in that room surrounded us to the point where I was getting crushed because he was the only guy that would talk.
Reuben Droughns, I’ll never forget, Reuben Droughns was a guy I was quote-unquote friendly with for a while. He had a block in Jacksonville. This was my first time officially on a regular season game on the sideline. I’m in Jacksonville and it’s 2006 or 2007. Reuben Droughns tripped and fell into John Henderson and broke his leg. Matt Lepsis had already engaged him. It looked like a chop block. The Jacksonville Jaguars thought he did it on purpose. Marcus Stroud comes over to our sideline and starts screaming. That was one of the biggest dudes I had ever seen in pads. I’m kind of peeing down my leg, this guy is so angry.
John Lynch starts screaming back at him. Al Wilson is wanting to fight him. I’m like oh my God, what is going on? The Jaguars were convinced it was a cheap block and from what I was told later, he tripped on the play and fell into the leg of Henderson when Lepsis already had him up. After the game I had to go in there and I looked at Reuben and I asked him what happened on that play, man? He was like what are you talking about? He came back at me in the angriest tone I’ve dealt with in a while. I had to re-ask the question. I was like I’m talking about the play that Henderson got hurt on. From your point of view what happened there? This was the first time I wasn’t used to a guy like that getting upset with me.
I had to get Ronnie Hillman after the 2012 game where Rahim Moore — the Fail Mary as we call it in town — Rahim Moore misjudged that thing. What do you ask him? “Man, you guys had that thing won.” When there’s no next week, how many times do you ask a guy how bad does this suck? The sudden death losses like that are bad.
BN: A lot of the sports radio model in Denver is the broadcaster asking the ex-jock a question and then getting out of the way. When you’re allowed to do more and show your personality, what is that like for you as a broadcaster?
AL: Some of the listeners — as you laid out — are programmed in this market to listen to the jock’s opinion and that’s all that matters. Well, the way I try to attack things is I’m going to tell you that it’s not just one man’s opinion; it’s multiple people’s opinions. Whether it’s Jeff Legwold who has been offered scouting jobs in this league and works for ESPN or any of the number of players that I’ve worked with or been around. I used to stand on the sideline and pick Rod Smith’s brain all the time. He would tell me all the time how something was going to play out and it was amazing how often he was right. Mark Schlereth has taken me to his house and he’s run back tape. He’s taught me about the blocking schemes. He’s shown me when things have been blocked right and when they haven’t been, the techniques they should have used. Do I get frustrated that people want to hear from the ex-jock a lot? I do, but I just keep trying it. Nate and I are just going to try to show everybody that two radio guys can get together and have fun doing radio and there’s still a place for it in this world and in this market.
I got lucky because I learned under Scott Hastings. My first job was his producer. We did a show called The Zoo. It was on KOA. Scott had always taught me let’s not focus on just sports stories, let’s focus on guy content. What are the guys talking about? What would you be talking about at the bar or the water cooler? Sometimes that’s not sports.
There was one time we were doing a show in the offseason. We weren’t sure what we were going to talk about and FOX ran a show about whether the moon landing was fake or not. We talked for three days about that. People wouldn’t quit calling about whether they thought one thing or another as if the moon landing was faked. Scott taught me how to just find what is interesting and do that. Be yourself and don’t be fake. Don’t think you’ve got all the answers. Just be a guy you want to hang out with. That’s what I’ve tried to do.
BN: As you’ve shifted from being a part of the Broncos broadcast to more of a general part of the Denver media, has that affected your approach to covering the team at all?
AL: Man, I’d be lying to you to say that it didn’t. I’m a little more honest about things at times. It’s going to be the master we all serve the way the trends are going. We’re all going to work for state-run media in some ways, right? The Avs and Nuggets are great about things but there are times where I wonder if I’m going to upset someone with my opinion. Now that doesn’t stop me from giving it but I often wonder if I’m going to get called to the office. It hasn’t happened.
Brian, it’s tough because since I left they’ve gotten worse. I didn’t have to do a lot of criticizing during my run. I did a Broncos talk show every Thursday night for a while. Then I think in 2012 when I got my talk show, they were pretty good in the Manning era by then so there wasn’t too much to criticize.
It was tough being at the Bronco owned station. It was tough talking to Case Keenum every week when you know he might be getting benched for Trevor Simeon. It’s been nothing but fighting about quarterbacks on the airwaves for four or five years. I’m a little more critical of things now. To be honest with you I’m a little more critical of ownership than I probably would have been if I was still there. But I also feel like the last few years watching these kids fight and sue each other in court, that wasn’t going on when I was at the other station. When Tyler Polumbus and I were at Orange & Blue 760, we prided ourselves on still trying to do real radio. We obviously knew that when Chad Kelly got arrested and acted a fool at a Halloween party, we weren’t going to dive heavy into that even though he was kind of the quarterback that everybody wanted to talk about at the time. So yes it does affect some of the on-air decisions. I try to be fair about things but unfortunately what we’ve seen the last couple of years with this team, there’s just not a ton of positive spin you can put out there.
BN: What’s your biggest passion outside of sports radio and family?
AL: Honestly it’s lacrosse. If I were ever to leave radio, I wish I could coach a college lacrosse team. I coached high school. When Tyler Polumbus and I started doing our thing, it allowed me to go coach a high school team here. I coached the lower levels.
I love coaching. I love helping kids. I feel like if it wasn’t for guys like Hastings and Logan giving me my shot and helping a young guy, there are a lot of people that just kind of taught me how to do things that didn’t have to, so I always try to pass it on.
Lacrosse is my passion. I love being around kids. I love seeing the light go on. But I want to be competitive. I’m not here to be your dad coach that’s going to tell everybody they’re doing great. We work in a competitive business. We have to take honesty. You have to look at what the scoreboard truly is. I want to teach kids you’ve got to attack the world that way. Because guys like you and me aren’t making it in what we do if we don’t view the world the way that it is. I always trusted Scotty and Dave because I thought even when they were hard on me I know it came from a place of love so I try to be that kind of influence there too. If I could coach a college team I would but it’s not going to happen.
BN: Football players get asked if they want their kids to play football. I was thinking about that with sports radio. Would you want your kids to choose sports radio as a profession?
AL: Yeah, if they love it like I do. I love what I do and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know that I love that you publish this but we are on the record, I’ve got a second job at Starbucks right now. Everybody raises their eyes, what do you mean, you’re a radio host? Yeah, you know what, radio doesn’t pay what it used to. I took a little bit of a haircut when I switched jobs. I didn’t get all my salary back. I hope that I will next contract negotiation but I want to be in it so bad. I used to bartend so serving people coffee and interacting with people is not really that hard a thing for me and it’s not as awful as some people react like I can’t believe you’re working there. Well, it’s not really that bad. I want to be in radio bad enough that I will work two jobs right now. But I’ll tell you when I was transitioning a year ago, I wondered should I still do this?
I almost went and sold insurance. People think I’m kidding. Bobby Pesavento is one of the CU players that I got to know covering him. I helped him get hooked up with the Crush and he was like I’ll return the favor. I will hire you and you can sell corporate insurance if you want to. I thought it was time to quit being Peter Pan and go get a big boy job. But I love what I do and it’s not hard for me to do it. I’m never upset I’ve got to go to work. Nate and I have been frustrated when the Avs or Nuggets have a game and we don’t get to do a show. If you love something that much then I’d encourage any child of mine to do it. I was in a bad depressed place when I wasn’t doing radio shows and I guess it’s obvious that’s why I decided I’d stay in it. I love what I do.
BN: Could you ever see yourself covering teams that you aren’t as passionate about in another market?
AL: I’ve always wondered that. I don’t know if I have a desire to prove it. I tried to go to Tampa Bay and I tried to move to Austin one time earlier in my career. Here’s the weird thing about me; I’ll do radio anywhere. I’ve become friends with Judson Richards and Nick Hardwick out in San Diego. I’d go to San Diego because I dig the town’s vibe. I dig the weather. I’m a Colorado kid so I don’t do well with humidity. I don’t do well with gray all the time. Going any further east than where I am would probably be a little tricky. I’ve got family in Houston. I was offered a sports director job down there. To me Houston is the Seventh Ring of Hell with its humidity so I want no part of living there full time. I’ve heard Austin was cool, which is why I would go there. If it’s a football town I think I could do it.
Here’s what sucks, Brian, I don’t think I’d move because I just don’t know financially. When I was going to go to Austin, they shut that station down. It was the home of the Longhorns and they flipped it from sports to news six months after I would have moved there. I just don’t know. I’m 46. I’ve got two kids. I own a house. I just don’t know that I need to chase the dream necessarily anymore but I don’t want to quit doing talk shows. If you let me live here, I’ll do radio anywhere. We’ve been doing shows from our basement since March.
I guess I just get worried about people’s commitment to things. Kroenke has shown great commitment to us. I love working for Dave Tepper. I’ve had a lot of great bosses, but Dave has a game plan and Dave has explained the game plan to me. I just really believe what Dave Tepper is doing. I think a lot of the people I’ve worked for and yet Dave is still the best because I’ve never had a guy give me the plan so that you can buy in. I need to work for a guy like Dave Tepper. As you well know, there are plenty of guys out there that just want you to shut up and do what I’m telling you to do. Well I’m the creative entity here. I need you to give me a little more leeway than that.
I’m hoping this works because I don’t want to make any more tough decisions. I know I’m a Denver guy. I know for some people they’ve said maybe you need to get out and test yourself elsewhere. Why? I know this town. I know this community. I know what they want. I’ve been on Patriots radio where I’ve tried to break down why I thought the Broncos were going to win. “Oh you’re a homer, you suck. You’re not negative enough.” All right man, that’s cool. But that’s not how we do it out here. We help each other out here. It’s a competitive situation but people are polite.
It’s a different vibe out here than the East Coast. And the LA guys; it’s all about getting seen and getting heard. I respect it. I’m not knocking the way anybody does it but I do think there’s an advantage for me to understand how it operates here, and to your point, I’d have to go to some place that vibes like Denver for it to work. I am not everybody’s cup of tea and I know it.
Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call
“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”
I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.
The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.
Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.
Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.
We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.
I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.
You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.
People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.
How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.
Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.
If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.
In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.
Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.
What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.
Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!
“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”
Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?
Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.
To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:
#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?
#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?
#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?
If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!
Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.
Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:
#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.
#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.
#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.
#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.
#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.
Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!
Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas
“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”
Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?
Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!
One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.
Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.
There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.
Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.
I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.
Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.
It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?
Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.
If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.
Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.
A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.
“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.
We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.
As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.
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