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Craig Miller And The Musers Are Still Chasing The Same Thing

“All of us genuinely like each other and I think when you have a good locker room and everyone gets along and enjoys spending time with each other, good things happen.”

Tyler McComas

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Craig Miller

There’s an argument to be made that bits in sports radio are somewhat of a lost art. But if anyone is keeping the spirit alive it’s certainly The Ticket in Dallas, most notably, its morning drive show The Musers. 

Whether it’s fake Jerry Jones, fake Stephen Jones or a fake Tiger Woods, the trio of Craig Miller, George Dunham and Gordon Keith have perfected the art in sports radio. 

Musers Never Leaving The Ticket – RAMP – Radio and Music Pros

“I would say the great majority of sports radio talk shows don’t do bits,” said Miller. “The bits were done by the wacky FM music morning shows or the late night crazy talk shows. That was one thing unique about The Ticket as we were probably the first all sports station to be funny and focus on comedy, have bits and crazy characters. I know The Fan in New York wasn’t doing that and a few other all sports stations, as well. I think that helped make The Ticket unique. George and Gordon have much more voice talent than I do, in terms of impersonating people and changing their voices. You have to have guys like that on your staff.”

You would think the logistics behind creating a bit so funny and entertaining would be a difficult and time consuming process. But that’s really not the case with The Musers. Credit their ability to be naturally funny without a whole lot of prep, but most bits are done just a few minutes before the segment. 

“Some of the characters are done on the mic in the studio,” said Miller. “Gordon does most of them, George does a few and I do a handful. They’re all pretty much, not completely on the fly, but I would say each morning around 8:10 in that commercial break we say, OK, what are we going to do for 8:40? Some mornings, like a Monday after a Cowboys game, we know we’re going to do fake Jerry Jones. We know the morning after The Masters we’re going to do fake Tiger Woods. But for the most part we have about 30 minutes where we decide what character it’s going to be and during the commercial break, we’re trying to write or help Gordo write it if he’s the one doing the character that day. It’s slapped together pretty quickly and that’s a strength of Gordo’s. He operates really well under a deadline. If you told him a day before ‘Hey, let’s do fake Nolan Ryan’, he would say, ‘OK’, but he wouldn’t start writing it till 8:15 that morning. He can’t work a day out but he works extremely well 20 minutes beforehand. It’s very much done in the spur of the moment.”

Funny character voices aren’t the extent of the bits done with The Musers. You’ll often hear them make fun of themselves, especially when it comes to the comparison of the show being the Susan Lucci of sports talk radio. The Musers have been nominated over a handful of times for Major Market Personality of The Year at the Marconi Awards but have never won it. But in their true ability to relate to the listener, they use that as content for the show. 

“The Ticket has won three,” said Miller. “They were great and it meant a lot to all of us. Our show, the three of us specifically, have been nominated for Major Market Personality of the Year like six or seven times, but we’ve never won. We’ve almost embraced not winning, like we’re the Susan Lucci of sports talk radio. If we actually did win, which would be great, but if we did win it would kind of spoil that bit and I don’t think any of the three of us really care about winning that much, not to give you coach speak, but it’s almost funnier if we keep losing. I think it’s better for the show if we keep losing because it’s something to make fun of (laughs).”

7 Things Any Radio Station Can Do To Win A Marconi Award

Regardless if The Musers even win a Marconi it’s pretty well understood few morning shows across the country can compete with their success over the years. In an industry that’s routinely swapping shows and hosts to find the right combination, Miller, Dunham and Keith are the longest-running show in the Dallas market and have been a top rated show since 1995. That’s unheard of, especially with all the changes and trends that sports radio has seen during that time frame. 

“I really think it starts with me, George, Gordon, we all genuinely love each other and love working with one other,” Miller said. “We get along really well. That’s kind of rare in radio, at least my experiences and stories I’ve heard. Not just from our market, but others as well. A lot of people have trouble checking their ego when it comes to radio, and I think that’s what’s been unique about not only our show, but also our station. I think when you have a good locker room and everyone gets along and enjoys spending time together, good things happen. I hope that comes across to the listener, because I think it’s been our secret at The Ticket.”

Miller is one of the originals at The Ticket, starting at the station all the way back in 1994. His story on finding a love for sports radio isn’t unique from most hosts across the country. But before sports, it was all about the weather. To this day it still fascinates him. At an early age he wanted to be a weatherman on television. His fascination with local radio and TV led him to watching and listening to numerous newscasts from his Oklahoma City home. But then in 8th grade, he figured out sports was the passion he wanted to pursue. 

While at an Oklahoma City 89ers game, a minor league baseball team now called the Oklahoma City Dodgers, Miller and his dad arrived early at All Sports Stadium. He noticed a couple of TV reporters in the dugout talking to players. That’s when it struck him. 

“I thought, what a great job,” Miller said. “You get to go out in the field, into the dugout, and I love sports anyways, so that’s kind of when I shifted from weather to sports. I’ve had that in my mind ever since.”

The Ticket has seen a ton of success and recognition since it took the airwaves in 1994. One of the biggest changes over that time is the growing number of competitors the station has seen since its inception. Miller has been in the middle of all of it and has seen just how different the station is today from the first time he sat behind the mic in Dalas. 

“When we started in 1994 none of us had personal computers,” Miller said. “We were going to the studio every day and bringing the sports page as well as a NBA, NFL or Major-League Baseball almanac, if we needed to look something up. That has changed because of the computer age. The competitive landscape, obviously, is a lot different. Back then we had a couple of other stations but there were no other all sports stations. We had some stations that did a sports talk show, one in the morning and one in the evening, but by 2000, we had three all sports stations in Dallas.

“Now we have not just other sports stations to compete against, but podcasts and you can stream any other radio station around the country or the world if you want to. When we started, we didn’t have one specific competitor, now we have hundreds of them.”

The Musers aren’t going anywhere. That’s more of a fact, than an opinion, seeing as the show inked a long-term deal with The Ticket in November of 2019 to remain in morning drive. Miller loves working with his two co-hosts and sees exceptional talent in both.

In Keith, Miller sees an amazing comedic talent with a quick brain and incredible voice talent. With Dunham, he sees a great football mind with a unique voice and perspective. Plus, a rapport that’s irreplaceable and exists all the way back to their college days. 

But what exactly are The Musers still chasing? They’ve been the best in Dallas for so long. They know they can probably be in morning drive at the a top station in the market for as long as they want. What’s going to keep the show at its best?

“I think we’re chasing the same thing we’ve been chasing forever now, which is to be a little different and a little better every single day,” Miller said. “Not to give you coach speak again, but we don’t want to fall into a rut. I’m trying to change it up so the listener hears something a little different. If you give them a different perspective, a different opinion, a different joke, or a different character and try to change it up a little each day, that’s the challenge we’re chasing.”

BSM Writers

The NFL Hopes You’re Lazy Enough to Pay Them $5

“This app reportedly doesn’t even have any original content of it’s own. NFL Films produces content for ESPN+, HBO Max, Peacock, Tubi, Epix, Paramount Plus, and Prime Video. It has also reportedly had discussions about producing content for Netflix. Unless they plan to bring all of those shows in-house, what kind of shows could NFL Films produce for NFL Plus that you couldn’t already find on all of those other apps?”

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NFL Streaming

Corporate goodwill is a hard thing to ask for. It’s not something that is a requirement for any entity to engage in. But it can go a long way in establishing a deeper bond for the future. According to Sports Business Journal, NFL owners are contemplating launching a streaming service for the league.

The app would feature podcasts, content created by teams and radio content. It’s unknown where the podcast content will come from but one can assume it’ll include the various podcasts the NFL produces with iHeartRadio. Team content that is expected to be featured could come from videos and audio that is already posted on team websites and social media platforms such as YouTube.

Various organizations across the league have expanded their YouTube efforts over the last couple of years as the Google-owned site has slowly set itself apart as a leading source for viewership. My hometown team, the Baltimore Ravens, for example promotes a talk show with cornerback Marlon Humphrey where he interviews players and other key figures from the team about their lives and careers and how they got to where they are today.

The most important part of this app will be NFL games itself. On Sunday afternoons, whatever games are airing in the specific location you’re in while using the app, those are the games you have access to watch. If you’re in Baltimore and a Ravens game is airing on CBS while the Commanders are on Fox, those are the games the app will offer. If you’re in Boston and a Patriots game is on CBS while a Giants game is on Fox – you won’t have access to the Ravens game airing on CBS in Baltimore or the Commanders game on Fox in Baltimore even if that’s where you normally live. These games used to be a part of a deal with Yahoo Sports and Verizon – who distributed them on their apps for free.

JohnWallStreet of Sportico notes, “longer term, the existence of a league-owned streaming platform should help ensure broadcast rights continue to climb.” But at the end of the day, how does this help the fan? The increase of broadcast rights is going to end up costing viewers in the long run through their cable bill.

ESPN costs almost $10 per cable customer. The app, as of now, isn’t offering anything special and is an aggregation of podcasts, games and videos that fans can already get for free. If you want to listen to an NFL podcast – you can go to Spotify, Apple Podcasts and various other podcast hosting platforms. If you want to watch content from your favorite teams, you can go to their website or their social media platforms. And if you want to watch games, you can authenticate your cable subscriptions and watch them for free through your cable company’s app or CBS’ app or the Fox Sports app.

It’s nothing more than a money grab. Games are already expensive to go to as it is. Gas prices have reached astronomical highs. Watching content has become extremely costly and it’s debatable whether buying streaming services is cheaper or more expensive than the cable bundle. And now the NFL wants to add more stress and more expenses to their viewers who just desire an escape from the hardships of life through their love of a beautiful game? It seems wrong and a bit cruel to me.

The beauty of paying for content apps is that you’re going to gain access to something that is original and unique from everything else in the ecosystem. When House of Cards first premiered on Netflix, it was marketed as a political thriller of the likes we had never seen and it lived up to its expectations for the most part. The critically-acclaimed series led viewers to explore other shows on the app that were similarly a more explicit and unique journey from what had been seen on television before.

This app reportedly doesn’t even have any original content of it’s own. NFL Films produces content for ESPN+, HBO Max, Peacock, Tubi, Epix, Paramount Plus, and Prime Video. It has also reportedly had discussions about producing content for Netflix. Unless they plan to bring all of those shows in-house, what kind of shows could NFL Films produce for NFL Plus that you couldn’t already find on all of those other apps? Even YouTube has partnered with NFL Films to produce behind the scenes footage of games that is available for FREE.

If you’re going to force viewers to pay $5 to watch games on their phone, the least you could do is give fans access to speak with players and analysts before and after the games. Take NFL Network over the top so that we can wake up with Good Morning Football. Offer a way for fans to chat while games are being watched on the app. The ability to watch an All-22 feed of live games. A raw audio options of games. The ability to screencast. Even a live look at the highly paid booths who are calling the games.

Five bucks may seem small in the grand scheme of things but it is a rip-off especially when the content is available for free with a few extra searches. Goodwill and establishing a person to person online relationship with fans could go a long way for the NFL. It’s not going to work using these tactics though. And after facing such a long pandemic, offering it up for free just seems like the right thing to do.

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BSM Writers

Sports Talkers Podcast – Danny Parkins

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Danny Parkins opens up to Stephen Strom about why he is so passionate about defending Chicago. He also gives his best career advice and explains why a best friend is more important sometimes than an agent.

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BSM Writers

Marc Hochman is The Lebron James of Miami Sports Radio

The Hochman and Crowder Show with Solana isn’t like anything you’ll hear in most major markets. But they wear that distinction with a badge of honor. They’re not interested in breaking down why the offensive line can’t get a push on short-yardage situations, they want to make you laugh, regardless if it’s sports content or not. They’re perfectly Miami sports radio. 

Tyler McComas

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Marc Hochman

There’s 30 minutes to go until Marc Hochman’s summer vacation and he’s suddenly overcome with emotion. Instead of staring at the clock, he’s staring at an article from The Miami New Times, which has just named him Best Talk Radio Personality in its “Best of 2022” awards issue. It’s an incredible honor in a city that has several worthy candidates, including the man sitting right next to him, Channing Crowder. 

But it’s not just the honor that’s catching Hochman’s eye, it’s also the paragraph where the newspaper compares him to Lebron James. No, seriously. Compliments are nothing new for the Miami radio veteran, but being compared to one of the best basketball players of all-time is new territory. Part of the paragraph reads like this:

“His current domination of the afternoon drive simulcast on both WQAM and 790 The Ticket (WAXY) is akin to Lebron playing for the Lakers and Clippers simultaneously. Could he do it? Probably. Does Hochman do this daily? Yes. Advantage, Hochman.”

Talk about incredibly high praise for a sports radio host. Especially one in Miami where there’s still a lot of hard feelings towards Lebron. But the praise is accurate, because the Hochman and Crowder Show with Solana airs on two different Audacy stations every day. It’s an interesting dynamic, especially for a market the size of Miami/Fort Lauderdale. 

“We have a joke that if you don’t like what you’re hearing on 560, feel free to tune in on 790,” laughed Hochman. “But it’s fun and I think in some strange way it’s increased our audience. As crazy as it is to say in 2022, there are people who listen to a particular radio station and don’t ever change it. I do think being on both stations has expanded our audience. We have fun with it. The show is on for four hours on 560 WQAM and three hours on 790 The Ticket.”

It’s cool to see Hochman get this type of honor during his 10th year of being an afternoon host on 560 WQAM. Especially since he’s originally from Chicago, but has carved out an incredible career in a city he’s called home since the late 80s. It’s funny to think Hochman had no interest in sports radio in 2004 when his college friend Dan Le Batard offered him a job as an executive producer at a startup station in Miami. Now, 18 years later, he’s being voted as the best to do it in the city. 

“Everybody likes to be recognized for what they do,” said Hochman. “We get recognized all the time by the listeners, but when someone out of your orbits writes their opinion of what you’re doing, and it’s that glowing of an opinion, it’s great. I’ve been compared to Lebron before, but it’s always been my hairline. It was nice to be compared to him for another reason. That was super cool.”

The best part about all of this is how Hochman will use this as a funny bit on the show, because, above anything else, he’s instantly identified as someone who’s incredibly gifted at making people laugh on the air. There’s no doubt it will become a theme on the show, both with him and his co-hosts, Crowder and Solana. 

“The award came out about 30 minutes before I was leaving for my summer vacation, so I had about 30 minutes on the air to respond to it,” Hochman said. “So I’m sure it will become a bit on the show, I certainly will refer to myself as the Lebron James of sports talk radio in Miami. Although, there’s still some hard feelings here towards him.

That was the one part that jumped out, obviously, to me, Crowder and to Solana. I don’t think I’m Lebron James but Crowder said on the air that sometimes you have to acknowledge when you’re playing with greatness, and he said “I used to play defense with Jason Taylor and Junior Seau, now I’m doing radio and I will acknowledge greatness.”

With or without this honor, it’s pretty evident Hochman is the happiest he’s ever been in sports radio. He’s surrounded with two talented co-hosts, but the sentiment is that Hochman does an incredible job of putting both Solano and Crowder in situations to be the best versions of themselves on the air. However, Hochman sees it differently. 

“I think that’s more on the people around you,” he said. “If you have great teammates, they’re great. Crowder and Solana, those dudes, if you want to make a basketball comparison, we have ourselves a Big Three.

Solana is the best at what he does, Crowder is the absolute best radio partner I’ve had in my career. He’s so aware of what it takes to entertain but also has broadcast sensibilities at the same time. I actually think he’s the one that makes us sound better than what we really are. He has a really incredible knack for entertaining but also informing.”

The Hochman and Crowder Show with Solana isn’t like anything you’ll hear in most major markets. But they wear that distinction with a badge of honor. They’re not interested in breaking down why the offensive line can’t get a push on short-yardage situations, they want to make you laugh, regardless if it’s sports content or not. They’re perfectly Miami sports radio. 

“I would say Miami is the strangest sports radio market in the country,” said Hochman. “I grew up in Chicago so I’m intimately familiar with Chicago sports talk. Miami sports talk, which is Le Batard, who redefined what works. In Miami, that’s what it needed. It’s more guy talk than sports talk. We certainly can’t break down a third inning in a Marlins game and why a runner should have been running when he wasn’t, the way that New York, Philadelphia or Boston radio could.”

“That doesn’t work here. When Crowder and I go on the air everyday, we’ve always said, our goal is we want to laugh the majority of our four hours on the air. If we’re laughing, we assume the audience is laughing, as well. That’s our personality. We both like to laugh and have fun. I like to do it, no matter what is going on. That translates to the radio. Luckily, Miami is a sports radio market that embraces that, because I don’t think we could do a show any other way.”

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