This is not a paid political announcement. Thankfully huh?
You will not read about the Electoral College. There will be no mention of blue states or red states. However, I did hold an election, the voting machines all worked, there were no lines to stand in and it all went off without a hitch. That’s because the election I’m talking about took place in my living room. The candidates were selected by me and the winners were also chosen by, yes you guessed it, me.
I should probably explain. My election is all about all-time play-by-play announcers, both past and present. I selected who should be the “President” of each of the four major sports leagues, NCAA Football and Golf.
The undertaking was a little more daunting than I thought it might have been. In a couple of cases the choice was extremely clear and in others not so much. So, the criteria are, which announcer is the one in each of the mentioned sports that others would look to for “leadership and influence”. To make it easier on me, I’ve chosen a President and Vice President for each.
President: Vin Scully
Surprised? Vin Scully is presidential in the way he calls/called games. The style is friendly, yet authoritative. Scully had a command over a broadcast that was unmatched in the game. Working as a solo act most of the latter part of his career, his work became like a ‘fireside chat’ (for you millennials, google it).
Vin was so easy to listen to, because he spoke to his listeners directly and you almost felt part of the broadcast. Staying power was also in Scully’s resume, nearly 70 years with the Dodgers for one, plus countless network opportunities, calling baseball for CBS and NBC. Perhaps two of his most famous calls took place as a network broadcaster in the World Series. There was the 1986 call of the ball getting by Bill Buckner and the 1988 home run by Kirk Gibson off of Dennis Eckersley. Both were incredible in the moment and have lasted the test of time. He is the model all others look to as the standard in the sport. Oh, and did I mention he’s one of the best human beings to ever walk the earth?
Vice President: Jack Buck
This was not an easy choice, but Buck emerged as my selection based on longevity, network experience and being known for several calls along the way. Buck was a fixture with the Cardinals for 40 plus years and had that great deep and somewhat raspy voice that won fans over. His most famous call came in Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS when Ozzie Smith hit a walk-off homer, “Go crazy folks, go crazy!”. Buck worked in the NFL too and was the national radio voice of Monday Night Football alongside Hank Stram in the 1990’s.
Cabinet positions for (in no particular order): Red Barber, Curt Gowdy, Harry Kalas, Mel Allen, Ernie Harwell, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, Bill King, Bob Costas, Marty Brenneman, Jon Miller, Milo Hamilton, Dan Shulman, and Bob Uecker.
President: Pat Summerall
In the late ‘70’s and most of the 80’s, Pat Summerall was the voice of the NFL. If it was a big game in football, chances are pretty good he was on the call. Summerall worked his way up the ranks and became the network’s lead NFL voice, paired first with Tom Brookshier and then of course with John Madden. The latter pairing worked together for 22 years on both CBS and Fox.
Summerall called 16 Super Bowls on TV. He was perfect for television, complimenting the pictures on the screen with a baritone name of the player, then the result of that play. Summerall subscribed to the “less is more” theory and it proved successful in his career. He had a great way of making his partner the focal point.
I’m sure as a former player he knew a lot about the game, but as a great play-by-play guy, he deferred in many cases. Summerall was named the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio and Television Award winner in 1994. He proved a versatile broadcaster as well, serving as CBS’s lead announcer on its PGA Tour coverage.
Vice President: Al Michaels
What can’t this guy do? This “presidential” race was close. While Michaels might be best known for his “Do you believe in miracles?” call in 1980 when the US beat Russia in hockey, he’s been a mainstay in the NFL.
Michaels took over Monday Night Football after the Howard Cosell era and kept that ship afloat. He then moved to NBC, teaming with John Madden and then Cris Collinsworth on Sunday Night Football. So, you’ll probably notice that Michaels appears in several of these sports’ top tiers, doing baseball and basketball in addition to his football work. One of the more well-known broadcasters of several generations is certainly more than qualified as the VP in this category.
Cabinet positions (in no particular order): Jim Nantz, Dick Enberg, Curt Gowdy, Joe Buck, Jack Buck, Howard Cosell, Dick Stockton, Frank Gifford, Charlie Jones, Lindsey Nelson, Ian Eagle, Kenny Albert and Greg Gumbel.
President: Marty Glickman
When I wrote an earlier piece on Marv Albert, the name Marty Glickman came up a lot. Marty was a mentor to Marv and many other soon to be broadcasters. Glickman entered broadcasting in 1939 with a job in radio. In 1946 he became the radio voice of the Knicks, a post he held for decades. He also was the play-by-play man for the New York (Football) Giants, the Nets, the Jets, the Dodgers (Brooklyn) and Yankees. Pretty impressive resume.
Perhaps the most “presidential” thing he did in his storied career was to mentor young broadcasters. I already mentioned Albert, but he also served in the same role for Bob Costas, Bob Papa and Ian Eagle among others. Glickman is credited with coining the basketball terms, the lane, key, midcourt stripe and swish. That’s called leaving a mark on a sport.
Vice President: Marv Albert
It only seems fitting that the student follows the teacher in this category. Albert’s voice is unmistakable, his excitement with every call, that wit and of course the catch phrases, including “YES”. He’s among the best to ever call the sport, but again we deferred to the teacher, followed by the protégé.
Cabinet positions (in no particular order): Mike Breen, Chick Hearn, Jim Durham, Kevin Harlan, Johnny Most, Ian Eagle, Dave Pasch and Dick Stockton.
President: Mike Emrick
As I wrote last month, Mike “Doc” Emrick is as good as it gets in a sport. Doc announced his retirement after nearly 50 years of calling hockey as a professional. His command of the English language and hockey is unmatched in a broadcaster. Not only was he the top of the heap in the booth, everyone you talk to, feels he is the top of the mountain as a human being. To this day he listens to young broadcasters’ tapes to give them pointers, nurturing the next generation of announcers. You knew it was an important game when Doc was on the call.
Vice President: Bob Miller
Miller wrapped up a legendary career with the LA Kings a few years ago. Miller was with the Kings since 1973, so you know he became THE credible source for hockey in Southern California. Being around that long affords you the opportunity to speak your mind. Those that listened to him, understand he wasn’t afraid to tell you what he thought. Miller also had a great reputation for telling great stories with his easy going style and personality he really made it work well for many years behind the mic.
Cabinet positions (in no particular order): Gary Thorne, Lloyd Petit, Jiggs McDonald, Mike Lange, Dan Kelly, Bob Cole, Foster Hewitt, Dave Strader, Sam Rosen and Howie Rose.
President: Keith Jackson
“Whoa Nellie!”, “Fum-BLE!” and “Hold the phone” were just a few of well-known expressions uttered by Keith Jackson. He missed just one college football season in his 50-year career, because he was doing play-by-play for the inaugural season of Monday Night Football in 1970. He was the ultimate in “big game” college football announcers in his day. Big weekly matchups and big bowl games were his calling card.
The voice was folksy and warm and the catch phrases weren’t contrived, they fit the style and seemed so natural. How can he not be “president” when he basically renamed Michigan Stadium, “The Big House”, giving it the nickname that it’s still known by today. Jackson is also credited with naming the Rose Bowl, “the Grandaddy of them All”. The stadium’s radio and TV booths were named “The Keith Jackson Broadcast Center” in 2015 and a statue of him was erected outside the stadium earlier this year. Talk about an impact. Jackson was also well known for calling Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL and contributed to ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
Vice President: Vern Lundquist
Our VP has quite his own resume. He was the radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys until 1984, calling legendary games like the “Ice Bowl” and several Super Bowls. He moved to ABC calling a few college football games, but the talent pool made it difficult for him to ascend. He moved to CBS to call college basketball, golf and the NFL. After a brief departure to Turner Sports, Verne returned to CBS and became its voice of the SEC.
Lundquist called many a huge game, but he’s quoted as saying the best one was the 2013 Iron Bowl when Auburn beat Alabama on a 109-yard return of a missed field-goal attempt with one second on the clock.
Cabinet positions (in no particular order): Lindsey Nelson, Brad Nessler, Chris Fowler, Brent Musburger, Ron Franklin, Chris Schenkel, Sean McDonough and Gus Johnson.
President: Jim Nantz
“Hello friends…” Jim Nantz has been a fixture in the 18th tower during CBS’ coverage of the PGA Tour. Hard to remember a time when he wasn’t the anchor of the coverage.
I wrote in my “Anatomy of a Broadcaster: Jim Nantz” on July 2nd, “He’s got that perfect tone for the tower on 18. Nantz has the ability to paint a picture with his words, even though you can see those pictures on your television. That’s not easy to do. He sets scenes at the beginning of each day’s golf coverage and it almost sounds like a song. It’s on the melodious side and ear pleasing as well.” My thoughts on that haven’t changed, he’s the standard to me in golf broadcasting. Can’t wait for the Masters to fire up here soon!
Vice President: Dan Hicks
Hicks has served as lead play-by-play host of NBC Sports’ PGA TOUR Golf Channel on NBC tournament coverage since 2000. He’s been part of NBC’s coverage of the U.S. Open, the Ryder Cup, the President’s Cup, and dating back to 2007, two World Golf Championships, all a part of network television’s premier golf package. Like Nantz, Hicks sets the stage well and does a great job of handling the reins on an interesting group of characters on the telecast. That broadcast includes David Feherty who is always quick with his wit and unique sense of humor. Also keep in mind, Hicks worked with Johnny Miller who always kept him on his toes.
Cabinet positions (in no particular order): Pat Summerall, David Feherty, Terry Gannon, Verne Lundquist, Dottie Pepper, Gary McCord and Peter Kostis.
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.