It wasn’t that long ago when Jake Crain was making a living by standing on a sideline. For nine years, he coached college football; six of those were at the Division 1 Level. He served the roles of linebacker coach, running back coach, special teams, and defensive coordinator.
But early next month in New York City, he’ll be one of the featured guests at the 2022 BSM Summit. He’ll also be sharing some very exciting news of the future of The JBoy Show. It’s a far cry from getting a football team ready to play on Saturday, but it’s a life and a passion that he believes is his true calling.
“I really respect Jason Barrett’s work,” said Crain. “It’s an honor for him to ask me to come there. Anytime I can get invited to do something like this, it’s something I take really seriously and I’m really glad he asked me.”
Crain’s rise in the sports podcast space is one of the quickest we’ve seen in the past two years. In seemingly no time, he’s gone from recording in a back room to an opportunity with the Bleav Podcast Network and then an offer from Colin Cowherd to join The Volume. But the quick rise hasn’t brought out an ego. In fact, maybe more than anything, he wants to show those at the BSM Summit that he’s humble and approaching the event with an open mind.
“I’m going in with an open mind,” Crain said. “It’s like anything else, you can learn a little bit from everybody and I’m still learning every day doing this. So the opportunity to go up to New York and be surrounded by people that have had a lot of success can only make me better. I’m trying to get better all of the time.”
There’s big news coming soon with The JBoy Show. Crain didn’t reveal exactly what it is, but it seems clear he’ll no longer be with The Volume. What does that mean? Well, it has to be something major. Crain did say the podcast is transitioning to “an even bigger platform.”
The Volume is quickly rising as one of the premiere podcast companies and to leave that exposure and security would mean a huge jump is about to be announced. The reasoning behind the move is strictly about upward mobility for The JBoy Show. If you bring up Cowherd to Crain, he has nothing but incredible things to say.
“Colin was fantastic,” Crain said. “He was very transparent with me when I had dinner with him in Los Angeles. If you didn’t know what he looked like, you would never know it was Colin Cowherd by the way he treated people. He’s a guy I look up to. He gave me a chance and an opportunity to move up and advance. He’s just a cool dude.
“Regardless if you agree with his sports takes or not, he’s a guy that you can sit down at a sports bar and have a beer with and he’ll shoot you straight.He told me like it was and kind of prepared me for what happens once you get to a certain level. If I ever had a question, I could always hit him up.”
There will be a lot of interest from guests at the BSM Summit regarding Crain’s rise. He’s ready and willing to answer any of those questions during his time in New York City. But there’s also an element where people want to learn from what he’s going to say. How has success come to him so quickly? What’s his secret to building such a big audience in the podcast space? Those are just a couple.
But as much as you may want to learn from him, he has an equal desire to learn from you. And that’s how to best go about the BSM Summit.
“I know it’s been a quick rise, but I haven’t forgotten what got me here,” Crain said. “I want them to understand, and I’m sure they do. Kind of just like any other business, the more things you can do, the better chance you have to rise up and move up and get a job and maintain it.
“I’m just humble and still learning every day. You’re never perfect, you’re never there as a player, you’re never there as a coach, and the minute you stop trying to get better is the minute you start getting worse.”
The guest list will be extensive and impressive this year at the BSM Summit, just like every summit before it. Crain will be one of the headline names, but what names is he looking forward to talking to?
“Man, it’s really just everybody,” Crain said. “I think what makes it strong is the amount of people in different spaces. Seeing the lineup that he has, it’s something that I feel like will make me better and it’s really an honor to be asked to do it.”
It’s cool that someone so relatively new to the sports media scene is humbled by the opportunity to be a part of the BSM Summit. Especially when you factor in that he started his journey in podcasting with a basic knowledge level of how things work. So much so, it took every bit of knowledge he had from a technological standpoint to get something on Spotify and Apple.
He’s hit it big with one of the best and most well-known college football podcasts on the internet. And even better days are coming. But as he looks to the future, does he want to be known as the guy who covers strictly the SEC?
“I’m always one that doesn’t want to pigeonhole himself,” Crain said. “I feel like I have the ability to talk about any sports. Understanding and growing up in a sports family, this is what we did. I really want to take it as far as I can go. I want to talk about the top stories. I want to talk about what’s going on. You always have your bread and butter. Just like a football coach, you have your base plays. But I want to go as big as I can in this.
“I feel like I have a work ethic to do it and I feel like I have the ability to do it. I feel like I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t try to go as far as I can. In the next five years looking towards the future, I want to do national stuff. I want to be able to do college football and be able to talk about the NFL, Major League Baseball, and all other sports. That’s where I see myself.”
As for the big news, when can we expect it?
“It should be announced here within a week,” Crain said. “We’re trying to get everything right and fine-tune everything. It’s been a whirlwind and I’m really excited about it.”
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.