Every station puts a different spin on Super Bowl coverage. Due to the NFL’s rules, we all find creative ways to tell listeners we are covering the Super Bowl, having a party, or holding a contest around it without actually saying “Super Bowl.”
In Atlanta, the Two Live Stews are throwing their annual “Stewper Bowl Party.” Around the country, there are a lot of variations of “The Big Game,” including Big Game Party, Big Game Sunday, and Big Game Break Down.
Some stations are hosting a “GameDay Super Party.” Others feature “Sights & Sounds from Dallas.” “SB45″ and “DFW XVL 411″ are clever too.
If none of these work for you, this year may I suggest you just call it the ”Super Brrr.”
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.
If you don’t have a local sponsor or two or four for your Super Bowl coverage you missed an opportunity. There are a lot of ways to tie into “Super Week” or whatever you want to call it so you don’t get in trouble. Here are some that have been successful for me in the past…
1. Even if you aren’t sending a local show to radio row, own the “coverage” of the week with promos touting your team coverage. (ie. “690 The Fan is sending Mike & Mike and Colin Cowherd to North Texas for Super Week to get you ready for the Packers and Steelers, plus exclusive interviews and expert analysis with Smokey on Sports. It’s Super Week “team coverage” – brought to you locally by Gifford Tires on 690 The Fan.”) Notice, no mention that this station has the game, or that they are sending a local show. Just reselling what the network has already sold. Support this with sponsor liners through the show and live mentions during your local show whenever they talk Super Bowl.
Here is a promo I produced for last year’s super bowl for 710 ESPN LA: KSPN 011609 30 Countdown to Kickoff_Colin.
2. Host a listener viewing party for the Super Bowl and give away a lot of free stuff; tickets, game consoles, T.V.s, swag. Have a bar, casino or other establishment invest in the hosting sponsorship.
3. Partner with sponsors do a Super Week of Ultimate Giveaways leading up to the big game; Big Screen TV, Home Theater, PS3 with Madden Football, man cave makeover, tailgate party with all the fixins delivered to your house for the game, etc.
4. Punt, pass, and kick competition for listeners.
5. …or create your own event like 610 WIP in Philly…WING BOWL!
There was a time when it was necessary to give scores and schedules on the radio, because people were depending on radio to deliver that information. There was no internet, twitter, cell phones, smart phones, I Pads, etc. That was then, this is now. Nothing disappoints me more than when I hear a sports update that goes something like this…
“The Giants beat the Colt 37-3. It was the Bills over the Lions 10-7. Bengals fall to the Browns 27-7 and the Steelers stole one from Philly 21-20. Tonight it’s the Cowboys and Rams. Kickoff at 8:30.”
The score doesn’t tell the story. The fact that the Cowboys and Rams are playing is not a story – it’s a detail. Tell me a story. Here are some ways you might flesh out the scores (all made up scenarios)
“Peyton Manning is still scratching his head after throwing 4 interceptions and racking up negative 15 yards rushing in the Colts 37-3 loss to the Giants. The Bills and Lions account for an all time NFL low…a combined 135 yards of offense.Buffalo wins 10-7. The Browns rally, posting 27 unanswered points in the fourth to upend the rival Bengals 27-7. Philadelphia baubles a onsides kick and turns the ball over with 12 seconds to go. Steeler’s QB Ben Rothlisberger fakes the hand off, casually walks towards the sideline and then runs 44 yards for the game tying touchdown. The extra point is good for the win with no time on the clock. Steelers 21. Eagles 20. Tonight, The Rams look for redemption with the Cowboys. St. Louis hasn’t won a night game against Dallas in 10 years. Both teams are looking to stay above .500 on the season. Kick off at 8:30″
Tell me a story. Fill it with action. Keep in the active tense.
Ever watch Sportscenter? When was the last time they just gave you a score? Never. They make you work for it. SportsCenter goes through all the highlights in the game chronologically and then – at the end – tells you how it ended.
It takes more work. It takes more creativity. It takes more time to write. It’s also more entertaining, more informational, easier to listen to, and it makes you a sought after commodity. Make yourself relevent. Be a story-teller.
This week Westwood One launches its new show prep service exclusively for the sports format.
I checked out the soft-launch last week and am impressed. This is a great resource for producers and hosts, especially those who don’t have a lot of production support at their radio station.
During my test run, the first thing I was hit with links to the Top 10 stories of the day. Then I scrolled down sport by sport (NFL, NBA, NHL, College Hoops, Media, Kickers, and more) with more links and instant access to 3-5 post-game audio clips for each game and sometimes preview sound too. For instance, on Tuesday, following the Eagles’ shellacking of the Redskins on Monday Night, there were 11 different links to stories and columns and 10 audio clips, including post-game reaction from Vick, Reid, McNabb and Shanahan plus play-by-play highlights and audio from McNabb’s agent on his new deal. As a former host and anchor, I would have liked more than two play-by-play highlights, and more than the one piece of audio from Vick. But, there is no doubt this service will save hosts and producers a lot of wasted hours scanning the internet for stories.
Afterwards I emailed with David Brody about the new service. He’s excited about how useful the service will be. “We’re all searching for killer topics that we can turn into great radio, and our service will deliver those topics to you with one click of your mouse. No need to spend endless hours reading all the newspapers and searching the web for audio when we’ve done the work for you,” said Brody.
At Westwood One, Affiliate Sales EVP Dennis Green tells LET’S TALK ABOUT IT, “As a former producer, I’m convinced having this tool available is something that will make the job of a sports producer much easier.”
Green notes the response has been great. The service started in full on Monday and already 18 stations have signed up. Westwood One is offering free trials to any station.
For more information on the sports prep service, contact Westwood One’s Rich Burg at Richard_Burg@WestwoodOne.com
The Michael Vick Show is back on the air. After Vick’s unbelievable performance last night, I began to understand that he is truly a talented football player. Did he make mistakes? You bet. Is what he did to those dogs forgettable? Hardly. However, this is America, a land built on second chances; just ask Jimmy Carter, Mike Tyson, Jay Leno, and on and on and on.
It got me thinking, if Vick were a talk host and not an NFL QB, he’d probably have to be fired, because he’s too off brand, too hard to coach, too unpredictable, makes management uncomfortable, and he doesn’t appeal to the core fan. This happens everyday in radio. Vick may have just posted the highest ratings anyone can remember, but that success would be reasoned away by management as a fluke. (That’s what managers say when ratings don’t tell the story they need it to tell.)
I get asked often, where are radio’s next stars? I have to guess working in retail, telemarketing or serving burgers and fries, because they were turned away for being too unique, too different, too interesting, and possibly too talented. It may be time to dust off the old resumes and see if some of the talent you passed up for not fitting your mold, maybe ready to start for you now. Or, you can let your station’s Kevin Kolb continue to fill time. A Vick-style personality draws fans to him with his talent. A Kolb-style host inherits listeners who are fans of the station. A Vick-style personality will make you nervous as a manager. A Kolb-style host will make you comfortable. A Vick-style personality will generate angry calls to your office demanding he be fired. Fans won’t call about a Kolb-style host. In fact, they may not even remember his name. If you are reading this and are still wondering who Kevin Kolb is, I’ve made my point.
Be bold. Take a chance. Play to win. Hire a personality.