Man, it’s not often that I feel the need to take time out of my week to write a second opinion column. Usually I do my opinion piece on Monday and let others in the industry have the floor the rest of the week. Then again, it isn’t often that Bill Simmons, a millionaire who made a fortune writing NBA fan fiction, is disappointed that Jim Nantz isn’t more racist.
I am largely neither here nor there on Simmons. He is not one of my favorite writers, but I think his site The Ringer does some really great stuff. 60 Songs That Explain the 90s has quickly become one of my favorite podcasts. The Cam Chronicles was one of the best sports media products of 2020 period. I could go on, but the point is that I am not someone that sees no value in Simmons or anything associated with him. I appreciate his practice of finding cool people to write and talk about cool shit.
What I don’t get is how someone so in love with the spotlight and someone that has been branded everything from an “SJW” to a “liberal douche” on social media can be so obtuse when it comes to issues of race. Just last year he sounded like someone’s 60 year old uncle in responding to his own staff’s complaints about the lack of diversity in The Ringer‘s podcasting ranks. Now, he is voicing disappointment that Jim Nantz’s call of Hideki Matsuyama’s putt to win The Masters wasn’t more subtly racist? Forgive my bluntness, but Bill Simmons is a moron.
“I think he was scared off,” Simmons said of Nantz on his Monday podcast. “He felt nervous to me the last twenty minutes, um, cancel culture, I don’t think Nantz wanted to go near anything. He kept kind of throwing it to Faldo and then when Matsuyama hit the… first of all, he missed the par putt, he had the little two-footer coming back, he made it. He wins. And Nantz basically said, ‘Hideki Matsuyama, the first Japanese golfer to win The Masters.'”
Could Nantz have been a little nervous? Maybe, but then again, maybe he just didn’t see the need to get cute and try to dance up to the line. Rebellion, even the corporate-approved version of it that Simmons seems to delight in, isn’t really in Nantz’s wheelhouse.
He advocated for Nantz to use a line about Matsuyama coming through in “The Heat of the Moment”. Get it? Like the song by Asia! Get it? Because Hideki Matsuyama is Asian! LOLOLOLOLOLOL!
Look, the idea itself isn’t egregious. It isn’t Bill Simmons advocating for CBS to cut to a close up of Nantz doing the racist trope of using his fingers to slant his eyes and shout “Godziiiiiiiiraaaaaah!”. But it is an idea that is insanely tone deaf and really doesn’t seem to make the broadcast any better.
Now, you want egregious? I give you Bill Simmons’s explanation of why “the heat of the moment” would have been a great thing for Jim Nantz to say.
“I think Nantz could have gone stealth and done, ‘It was the heat of the moment, Hideki Matsui is our Masters champion,'” Simmons suggested, confusing The Masters champ Matsuyama with the former Yankees slugger Matsui. “Something like that and then it just would have been really underground. Nobody really would have gotten it.”
Nobody would have gotten it! Simmons’s focus seems to be how can a broadcaster say something racist rather than come up with a line that would have made the moment bigger and more fun.
Are you friggin’ kidding me? Bill Simmons cannot really be this stupid. I refuse to believe the guy that built “The Sports Guy” empire by covering and writing about sports like a fan can really see any value in sneaking in a little covert joke about a champion golfer being Asian. You know, a little something for the white people to enjoy! Bill, my guy, you gotta make more of an effort to walk your talk.
There is a difference between the clumsy racism that comes from ignorance and the vitriolic racism that comes from unabashed hate for others. I don’t think Bill Simmons is guilty of the latter. The former is no less of a problem though if it doesn’t come with a meaningful acknowledgement that you need to learn more and do better. I’m not sure Bill Simmons has that in him.
Think about the way he responded to staffers saying that not enough Black voices had the opportunity to host podcasts for The Ringer. A hollow statement about diversity being important to the company and addressing these concerns would have been better than what Bill Simmons did, which was to say “It’s a business. This isn’t Open Mic Night“.
Come on, Bill. You’re not a dumb guy. You know a statement like that is a problem, particularly when your site houses a podcast that features your daughter.
It’s a pattern. Bill Simmons keeps stepping in it when it comes to race, and again, I don’t think he that he is a card-carrying member of the Klan. I think his racism is the kind born out of living in a city or part of the country where it is possible to be isolated around other people that look like you and grew up the same way as you. Bill Simmons isn’t malicious. He has a blind spot and he has to own up to it.
One of the best things that ever happened to me happened when I was a senior in college. My roommate was a Black guy named Terry Siggers. To this day, he is one of the kindest and most patient guys I have ever met. It’s not a surprise to me that he is now a faculty advisor to all of student media at the University of Alabama.
I made a comment about a mixed race friend of ours and referred to him as a “mullato”. Terry stopped our conversation. He didn’t get mad. He just calmly told me that that word is more loaded than I know. I told him that I only knew it from the Nirvana song “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Terry replied “Right. It is easy not to know what that word’s history is and never meet anyone that can tell you when you live in Seattle. That’s why it made it into a Nirvana song.”
That moment and Terry’s desire to teach instead of shame really shaped my vision of what racism is. A lack of intent doesn’t mean that there is a lack of impact. It is okay to acknowledge you were wrong even if you had no ill-intent.
Aside from making a corny joke, I don’t know what Bill Simmons’s intent is in suggesting Jim Nantz work in the title of a song no one under the age of 45 knows just because the name of the band that performed it is Asia. I have a feeling just challenging himself to explain what his intent in the joke was, Bill Simmons would quickly realize there is no real way to justify it or deny that his argument boils down to “I wish Jim Nantz would have been a little more racist.”
No one needs to be cancelled here, but no one needs to pretend this doesn’t matter either. Bill Simmons fancies himself an enlightened guy on the right side of issues like this. If that is true, he has to start with an acknowledgement that he was wrong and follow it with an apology. Then, to paraphrase Bill Burr, he has shut up, sit down, and take his talking to.
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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