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What Does Too Much Content Mean To A Producer?

“Don’t treat the smörgåsbord of sports as a cafeteria lunchline. You don’t have to put a little bit of everything on your plate.”

Demetri Ravanos

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Sports radio never has more to talk about than it does in October. Depending on what part of the country you are in, there is the start of the NHL and NBA seasons and the MLB playoffs. The NFL is relevant no matter what part of the country you’re in. College football enjoys that same status in the South and the Midwest, but thanks to the legalization of sports gambling spreading across the country, it too, is starting to get a little more run nationwide.

It doesn’t matter what your role in the industry is. There is plenty you can use to hook your listeners right now. The producer has a particularly challenging role this time of year, because he or she has to find the right balance in all of it and decide, during a time when there is so much, how much of any one thing is too much.

Look at Birmingham, Alabama. It is the college football capital of the country. John SaBerre is the producer of 3 Man Front on JOX 94.5. He knows his listeners could talk about the SEC all day long. That doesn’t mean that nothing else that gets discussed. It just means that there is a high bar to clear.

“The way I view sports coverage this time of year is akin to that meme with the guy who looks at the girl walking the opposite direction while his girlfriend looks on in horror,” he told me via email. “There needs to be something appealing, alluring, or downright captivating to grab out attention away from Alabama & Auburn or even the SEC.  This time of year, we could talk Alabama and Auburn all day every day.  There are so many storylines, so many issues that come up in-game, so many people that want a coordinator fired that we can focus on the two largest state teams and no one would complain.  So for us to focus on something that’s not Tide or Tigers, there is a compelling reason for us to be doing so.  And I believe that we’ve built up enough trust with our audience that they know if they’re not hearing a discussion about AU or UA, it’s for a good reason and they need to hear what we’re saying.”

In Cincinnati, football still reigns, but https://barrettsportsmedia.com/2020/04/29/bsm-producers-podcast-season-2-episode-9-tarren-bland-espn-1530/Tarren Bland told me he is trying to find the balance. He produces The Mo Egger Show on ESPN 1530. It’s Ohio, so the NFL takes priority, but with multiple top five college football teams in the state, it is all about picking which football is right at the right time.

“This year, I would say it’s about 55% Bengals, 45% Bearcats football. We don’t even talk Ohio State, unless they’re in the news nationally or obviously playing UC,” Bland says. “The Bengals is what drives the conversation, especially over the past 2 years with the addition of Joe Burrow. I would say Bearcats are a little higher than usual because they are the #2 ranked team in the country, and have a chance of making history being the first group of 5 to make the college football playoffs. But Bengals is what drives the show. When they’re bad or when they are good like they have been this year our audience will have opinions one way or another.”

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Hockey rarely comes up in Cincinnati. If it is, it is because the Columbus Blue Jackets are in the middle of doing something amazing. Basketball will be reserved for later in the year as the Bearcats and Muskateers head towards conference play

But I wonder what sports gambling has done to that balance. Has the ability and desire to bet changed the appetite of the audience? Not really, according to Bland. It is still sports radio and people want to hear about the teams and games they are most passionate about.

“I’ve been working with Mo for almost 4 years now and I would say he was ahead of the curve as far as talking about gambling on the air.  Since I’ve been working with him, we would have a gambling expert on our show from the start of football season to the end of college basketball season.”

There is a blip on Birmingham’s radar right now that SaBerre will acknowledge people are paying attention to. There has never been a major league professional team anywhere in Alabama. That means, just like in most of the Southeast, a certain Atlanta baseball team was adopted long ago as the state’s home team and that team is about to play in the World Series for the first time in more than twenty years.

“The Braves hold a special place for a lot of listeners in our area. Whether you’re a fan of the team, like Landrum Roberts (co-host of Three Man Front), or enjoy needling their used-to-heartbreak fans, like Cole Cubelic (co-host of JOX 94.5’s morning show McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning), the hosts know how big this is. Even during football season, when the Braves are doing well, the hosts will section out some time to focus on the team.”

So does that mean the Braves are going to be taking big chunks out of the Alabama and Auburn talk on the station? John SaBerre will drop a Lee Corso “not so fast my friend” on that kind of talk.

“Even though it’s the Braves,” he says, “it is still baseball and it is still football season.”

John SaBerre on Twitter: "Checking in on quarantine, yet again… "

The best thing any producer can do this time of year is stick to talk about a gameplan with hosts and programmers and stick to it. Don’t treat the smörgåsbord of sports as a cafeteria lunchline. You don’t have to put a little bit of everything on your plate.

Instead, enjoy the constant stream of news that comes from the sport that matters most to your audience. Afterall, when the cup runneth over with content, the producer has an easier job.

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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