Listen to the inaugural “Radio Stuff” podcast with Deb Slater (@deb_slater and www.debslater.com) and me. This first podcast we listen to how different radio sources treated the Cleveland story about the three women found after years in captivity; WTAM, Fox News Radio, NPR, Rush Limbuagh, BBC, and Radio Australia. We also talk about Paula White who got drunk before her final Friday night shift at BBC Radio Stoke. We listen to News Talk 980 CJME (Regina, Canada) and host John Himpe’s thoughts on a would-be seriel killer allowed to watch Dexter. We listen to radio station imaging from 100.3 The Sound in LA and 99.3 The Vine in Wine Country. We talked to XL 1010 Jacksonville’s Chad Scott about a new sports radio chat on twitter #srchat, and we debate the decency of a Fresh N Easy commercial. There’s a lot here! Enjoy. Let us know what you like, what you want more of, and what you could do without. And please send contributions, tips, audio, insights to both of us at email@example.com
At Arbitron’s annual consultant fly-in in Baltimore last month there were some really powerful presentations that talk about best practices of social media, the importance of Moms, Weekends, and listening occasions. I’ve received this link to consultant Holland Cooke’s analysis in Talker’s Magazine from a handful of people and want to share it with you.
Here are some of my takeaways…
- We need to stop using Twitter and Facebook as a promotional platform and begin ENGAGING with our “friends.” Social Media is NOT about the station, it’s about the relationship between YOU (the person – not the show or station) and the listeners. Use these platforms to have conversations. If you ask questions, also answer them. If people reply, reply back. I see this social media as the bonus track on the DVD that provides behind the scenes footage and director’s commentary.
- Moms are key to consumption of our internet, new media and social platforms. The internet is Mom’s “most-essential” medium, driven by multiple household computers, wi-fi, and the cell phone. 60% of Moms would choose her smartphone over a TV.
- Traffic is still very important to listeners, most believe traffic is getting worse each year, and they still lean on radio first for information.
- Cool presentation from ESPN about their “best screen available” philosophy (even if that screen is radio) – proving that cross-media usage is NOT a zero-sum game (reinforcing our strategy with three radio stations and a content-rich website).
- Listeners are extremely more patient with commercials than we expect.
- More people in most markets listen to the radio on the weekends than either morning or afternoon drive. Radio is a total week medium…
- The #1 Headline: Getting people to come back again and again is the ball game.
For the better part of 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with big voice guy Jim Cutler (ESPN Radio Network, E!, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The CW, and gobs of radio and TV stations across the country including 97.3 KIRO FM and 710 ESPN Seattle). Jim and his awesome wife Dawn are on vacation and stopped by the Bonneville Seattle studios yesterday. If Jim wasn’t blessed with a big voice and the talent to use it, he’d likely be a professional photographer. He takes his Nikon everywhere he goes. Last night he brought it to the Mariners v. A’s game and has posted photos on his blog…
Here he is taking some of the pictures…
In a previous blog I interviewed Jim about how what he has learned from photography relates to radio. It’s worth a read if you missed it before…
The other thing that struck me after meeting with Jim and Dawn yesterday is a great reminder that the more often you can work with and talk with people in this industry whose opinions and talents you trust, respect and challenge your own complacency – do it.
Talkers Magazine is out with its HEAVY 100 talk show hosts for 2011. The criteria are subjective, but they use a combination of hard and soft factors for evaluating candidates including; courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, ratings, recognition, revenue, service, talent and unique-ness. Here’s the breakdown for sports hosts.
#36 Jim Rome (Premiere)
#38 Mike Francesa (WFAN)
#49 Mike & Mike (ESPN)
#67 Glen Ordway (WEEI)
#88 The Sports Junkies (WJFK)
Determining a list like this is hard. It’s subjective. There are no “right” answers. But, based on this list, I believe the definition of what makes a sports talk radio host and show great is too narrow. The list leans awfully far to the East coast and half the list feels like a lifetime achievement award instead of a true representation of what is good sports talk radio in 2011. Yes, I’m looking at you Jim Rome.
I don’t believe Jim Rome deserves such a high ranking. Yes, I know he was a trail-blazer, he created a unique style and has longevity. Great, put him in the hall of fame. Sports talk has evolved behind his schtick and as far as I can tell he’s doing the same show he did in 1997. He’s the second best show in our format?
Here is another question. Are there really only six sports radio hosts worthy of the Talkers 100? There are nearly 700 sports talk stations nationwide and three major sports radio networks that crank out programming 24/7. Yes, not every sports radio host is of the caliber of Rush Limbaugh or Phil Hendrie, but sports hosts are entertaining and relevant enough to be worthy of more than 6% of the list. By my math, if there are 2200 talk stations and 700 sports stations, sports talkers should make up about 24% of the list.
It’s mind-numbing to me that Colin Cowherd, Dan Patrick, and Angelo Cataldi are also-ran on this list. And where are Mitch Levy from Seattle, Gambo & Ash in Phoenix, Herbstreit, Spielman & Hooley in Columbus, Walddle & Silvy, Mike North or the Afternoon Saloon in Chicago and others? These shows are great.
There are a lot of great sports radio talent omitted from this list that deserve recognition. Who would you add and how would rank ‘em?
Thanks to Perry Simon at AllAccess.com for some of the stats cited.
OTHERS (in alphabetical order) Who made the Talkers 250
- Ralph Barbieri & Tom Tolbert (KNBR)
- Joe Benigno & Evan Roberts (WFAN)
- Angelo Cataldi (WIP)
- Colin Cowherd (ESPN)
- Dennis & Callahan (WEEI)
- George Dunham & Craig Miller (KTCK)
- Howard Eskin (WIP)
- JT The Brick ( Fox Sports Radio)
- Dan LeBatard (WAXY)
- Mason & Ireland (KSPN)
- Loose Cannons (Fox Sports Radio)
- Petros & Money (Fox Sports Radio)
- Dan Patrick (Premiere)
- George Plaster (WGFX)
- Sid Rosenberg (WQAM)
- Steve Somers (WFAN0
- Two Live Stews (WQXI)
- Dan Sileo (WDAE)
- Mike Valenti & Terry Foster (WXYT)
- Scott Van Pelt & Ryen Russillo (ESPN)
When it comes to winning a championship Kobe Bryant knows a thing or two or five. And after listening to him today, on 710 ESPN’s Mason & Ireland Show in Los Angeles, I believe Kobe can help talk show hosts be better too.
Kobe talked about how the basketball season is an evolution.
“It’s about getting better,” said Kobe.
“It’s a gauge; what areas have we improved and what areas have we slipped? It’s always a gauge. You have to check your compass everyone once in a while.”
Kobe is also constantly thinking about the little details. When asked what one thing the team needed to improve on between now and the playoffs, Kobe couldn’t narrow it down.
“There’s like 20 things. All of them are important; defensive rotations, offensive execution, rebounding patterns, the list goes on and on in my head. There are three things; defending, field goal percentage and not turn the ball over. Whoever does that best will be champion.”
What sticks out to me is that at the highest levels of pro sports, players and teams continue to challenge themselves to be great. Kobe Bryant is regularly analyzing his play, focusing on the details and looking to improve every game.
How many radio hosts do this? Are you?
- When was the last time you gauged your progress or checked your compass?
- Are you getting critical feedback or conducting critical self evaluations following each show?
- Are you regularly applying new strategy, skills or techniques when hosting?
- Do you consider your show a static element or an evolution?
- Do you recognize and address the details of your show?
I know from experience on both sides of the mic that these things don’t happen nearly as much as they could or should. Kobe is a proven winner; a champion and future hall-of-famer. And he still wants to be better, still gauges his performance from game to game to game, and still sweats the small stuff.
Seems like a good game plan whether you’re on the court or behind the microphone.
This Super Bowl week, I thought it would be appropriate to share some inspiration and insights that I learned from one of the great NFL coaches Herm Edwards. When I was at ESPN, Herm was invited to speak to a group of managers and I was lucky to be included.
“Our greatest obstacles in life are created by people who try to put limitations on us.” This is how coach Edwards started his speech. Simply put, don’t let others define what is possible for you. However, he stresses the importance of going about your life’s journey with integrity and vision. We are all leaders. People are watching and following our lead. It doesn’t mean you have to make a big speech or even be liked. A true leader, according to Edwards, lifts people’s vision and performance beyond their normal talent level. Do you help make people exceed their expected potential?
Another area coach Edwards touched on was “accountability.” He says you need to know and do your job. Take responsibility. Hold yourself and others at a high standard. Do the right thing on purpose. Your words and your actions should match up.
And finally some parting words from coach Edwards…
- Stay true to your vision. Do not let circumstances distract you.
- Trust those who work for you and with you – and sometimes that means taking a risk.
- Set an example – perform tasks that you would ask others to perform. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
- Stay humble. There were a lot of great things accomplished before you were born.
- Remember, you chose your profession. It didn’t choose you.
Two hours and fifteen minutes. That’s how long ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd says it takes him to actively prep for his show. “I go into a show ready with eight different ways to approach four topics.”
Cowherd talked exclusively with LarryGifford.com about how he prepares each day for his show “The Herd.” His active prep time estimate does not include watching games at night, catching up with SportsCenter in the morning, or all the work that his team puts into the show before he arrives and after he leaves each day.
Colin says he leans on three guys: board operator “Fish” is the ears of the show and in charge of audio; associate producer Tom finds stats, stories and support information; producer Vince is helping Colin with creative writing and content development.
Out of the two hours and fifteen minutes, about twenty minutes is used to write the opening rant. He also previews the available audio and works with his team to develop multiple angles to the big stories of the day.
“You’re writing a sitcom. Everyone is throwing out ideas, and I’m editing saying, ‘Yes! That’s good. Vince that’s a good line.’ We just keep building,” Colin says, describing his 7:15 am meetings. So, when the dust clears and the ‘on air’ light turns red, what’s the goal? “I do believe, going into most segments, you have to take the audience somewhere. Take them somewhere emotionally. I say this often, ‘Make them ‘blank.’ Make them laugh, make them mad, make them annoyed, make them think, make them cry. Make people ‘blank.’ Take them somewhere.”
Armed with the same information about the same teams and games that everybody watched, the same stats and the same audio as every other host in the nation, how does Colin create something new and different that takes his audience somewhere?
Colin explains one of his strategies: “It’s not about the team, it’s about the star player. People like Kobe, not the Lakers. It’s not about the Giants, it’s about Eli. It’s not about the Packers it’s about Aaron Rogers. I get criticized for it and get a lot of attention for it. I take on the athlete. So, I will find a player and I’m with him or against him. I’m on his side or I’m not. It gets really personal. I think everybody in this business talks about the team, but research shows people buy the jersey of the player. I find, the more you talk about a player it’s much more interesting radio. People take sides, there are lines in the sand, it’s a verbal tug-o-war and it’s very compelling.”
He also says he creates a theory or strong opinion for each branch of each topic and writes it down. He refers to this during breaks and then has it in front of him while he’s talking about it so he can refer back to it periodically during the segment and stay on topic.
Colin stresses the importance of playing the hits. “ESPN is very much like the weather channel. When a hurricane hits we all go to the weather channel. When Michael Vick’s in trouble we all go to ESPN. In my business, I’m rooting for dumpster fires. I’m rooting for messes. I’m rooting for controversy, because that’s what my audience loves.”
Listen to the full interview here, including Colin’s revelations on PPM, how personal you should get on the air and how he judges his own shows.