Look Who’s Talking: Owen Murphy
Today, we dive into the mind of Owen Murphy. Full disclosure: Owen worked for me at the ESPN Radio Network. Owen is a 15-year vet of radio; producing, hosting and PD-ing. He’s worked with some of the most forward-thinking brands in the biz; MTV, MLB.com, ESPN (Mike & Mike, Dan Patrick) and KIRO, among others.
Larry Gifford: When you started in radio, what were your expectations?
Owen Murphy: I had no expectations. Only excitement regarding the opportunity placed in front of me. This was in 1995 as digital editing was beginning, and to see sound waves go across a computer screen was incredibly exciting. My first radio job was producing a college radio show for MTV. Artists like Elliot Smith, The Wedding Party, Frank Black, etc., all came through to record interviews, acoustic sets and to play DJ. Then they would leave and I would get to mix their music to my satisfaction. It was an incredibly creative endeavor, as is talk radio now, and that in itself is the main reason I love what we do.
Giff: You’ve produced, hosted and been a PD for sports talk. What about these jobs excites you most?
Owen: Seeing others maximize their potential and then hearing it in the speakers.
Giff: What are key factors in producing remarkable content?
Owen: In terms of talk radio, the most important factor to producing great content is talk talent. It begins and ends with them. How one supports and coaches them is also critical, and through a series of successes and failures, I’ve come to understand that there is no substitute for positive reinforcement.
Giff: What happened that made you understand that so well?
Owen: Two things:
1. Watching great talent struggle at times to create content…and sometimes I was at fault. It caused me to really simplify my approach to coaching talent by giving them very simple instructions and goals thus allowing them to hit those goals and win on a daily basis.
2. Co-hosting a sports talk show and both doing a great job of preparing and delivering great content while also getting that pit-in-the-stomach-feeling that I had not done a good enough job of preparing.
Giff: You mentioned “great talent.” How do you define great talent?
Owen: Talent that is energetic, unique, entertaining and thought-provoking. There’s so much you can do with someone like that. I don’t need “pipes” or someone who is smooth…I want someone who stands out and delivers while not following perceived rules of talk radio. Kevin Calabro is a great example of this. He’s a Seattle superstar because of his time as the voice of the Sonics, and he built a name nationally by being quite possibly the best NBA play-by-play guy in the country via passionate and unique calls. There is literally no one on radio like Kevin, thus I built an imaging campaign around that idea. “There’s only one Kevin Calabro, and you can only hear him on 710 ESPN Seattle.” Give me a year with someone like that and I will give you a top-5 show. The Kevin Calabro Show is consistently now a top-5 show, and often top-2 and top-3 and he’s only scratched the surface of what he can do.
Contact Owen at email@example.com or on his cell 206.478.6357