On Tuesday morning we nearly lost Tiger Woods, a global icon who’s allure is rivaled by very few people on earth. However, it wasn’t the conditions of his unfortunate and near fatal car accident which made me uncomfortable. More so, it was the media coverage, which confused me and left me feeling “some type of way.”
Obviously, circumstances like this are relatively unpredictable, yet, I felt an overall lack of direction and detail while consuming live content from various sports and hard news media outlets alike. Was the goal to report the facts pertaining to the current incident in question, or was the true motivation to take advantage of this frightful occurrence by revisiting previous chapters of Tiger’s life, for contents sake? I’m still unsure.
Like all of you, I rejoiced at the fact that Tiger was alive, although severely injured. That said, my mind did not immediately connect to the images from the tragic helicopter crash which took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, seven others. This is likely due to the initial tweet from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department informing us that Tiger had been “…extricated from the wreck…” and “…transported to a local hospital by ambulance for his injuries.”
Yet as I flipped from station to station, along with social media, I began to see an early similar pattern to the Kobe coverage, as several outlets rushed to disseminate misinformation. Albeit, the inaccurate “…jaws of life…” reference from the LACSD didn’t help. I began to ask myself if our industry had learned a damn thing from the helicopter incident last year. Sometimes there’s nothing else to report in that moment. Why tug unnecessarily at public heart-strings and the human imagination?
I also found it interesting to contrast the timing, manner, and duration of the Tiger coverage between sports media and hard news media. As best I could tell, hard news went to live coverage and reaction quicker and more aggressively than sports did. Although many of the sports outlets interrupted live programming to present the breaking news; it took a few hours to match the intensity of our other media contemporaries. That in itself, didn’t bother me.
Again, how many times can we say Tiger is alive and currently in surgery for severe lower extremity injuries? Given the lack of new information, it was appropriate from my view to proceed with the previously scheduled sports programming. As was later seemingly determined by the hard news sector, whose loyal base began to inquire about their traditional broadcast.
What I did find peculiar, was the prevailing presence of a somber tone from many of our sports anchors, analysts, and commentators as it got later into the day. Although we all are within our right to handle the avoidance of a fearful situation however we’d like; I wondered if this was the best course of action for the viewers’ experience. I certainly do not aim to be insensitive here, however, perhaps the viewer would be calmed or encouraged regarding Tiger’s situation if they saw and felt more optimism and positive energy from us, as we celebrate the blessing of his survival. All due respect to producers and programmers alike. It’s just a thought, and perhaps I am mistaken.
Where things got really murky for me, was witnessing the ill-timed commentary by various media outlets utilizing this opportunity to re-litigate Tiger given his polarizing, controversial, and complicated personal history. Certainly, I too am aware of his prior incidents involving vehicles. That said, I find it mostly inappropriate to draw some connection given what had been reported and the lack of evidence at the time.
Let’s just call it what it is! Controversy sells, and several of our professional contemporaries wanted to exploit that content…AGAIN…or at the very least, play off of the proverbial elephant in the room. Why the need to sensationalize coverage of a really bad auto accident, because of who’s driving? Shameful!
That said, I was also miffed at how media talent could believe it was warranted to even begin speculating as to how this might impact Tiger’s golf career. The man was literally having a significant surgery at that very moment! Who gives a damn about a green jacket right now? What about his future interactions with his family? His overall quality of life? Way too soon! The thirst must find its limits at some point.
Thankfully, Tiger survived, as God has spared us another iconic tragedy. Look, I get it; we’re all mining for fresh content to offer. The election, along with football season, has come and gone. We’re also exhausted with COVID-19 coverage. Everyone in our business obviously understands the gravity and scale of a figure of Tiger Wood’s caliber. That said, I believe it to be an obligation in honor of our craft and respect to our audience, to not simply provide information and entertainment, but also to be simultaneously mindful of the tone and timing of its delivery.
I still struggle to definitively encapsulate the immediate coverage of Tiger’s accident. What I know for certain is that parts of it were convoluted and made me uncomfortable. I highly doubt I am alone in this perspective. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll have defined an overall better process for coverage when, not if, the next unfortunate and unexpected incident occurs. The execution of that refined process I leave to you.
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.