Posts Tagged ‘National Football League’

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson Throws Out Some Radio Advice

December 27, 2013 1 comment

Russell_Wilson_at_the_2013_Jessie_Vetter_Classic,_July_1,_2013“I want to be the guy who studies the most and be the smartest guy. I try to learn as much as I can about myself, about my teammates, and I think the biggest thing is I always want to learn something.”

– Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback

Russell Wilson is the star quarterback of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. This week, the second-year player is rebounding from his first ever loss on his home field. During his weekly press conference, he talked about overcoming the adversity and how he prepares to be the best he can each week. It occurred to me that in his role as quarterback he is both talent and manager and his advice is relevant to more than just NFL quarterbacks. So I offer up today,…

Russell Wilson’s Tips for Radio Talent and Managers

Focus on the positive. “I’m focused on what we can do extremely well. I try to really understand what I’m doing well and then I start looking at other things and try to see if there’s anything else out there.”

This is important advice. Too often in radio we focus on what went wrong. Try building on what’s going right, what works, and put yourself or your on-air staff in position to win every day.

Don’t dwell on the negative. “Sometimes, after a bad day, you need to get back to work, because that way you can put it away and move onto the next opportunity.”

Most times when things go bad everybody knows it. There’s no reason to keep beating a dead horse. Take a quick moment for everyone to acknowledge what happened and move on.

Don’t wait for feedback. “I watch everything I do; every little detail. I’m extremely critical of myself.”

In general, Program Directors and Brand Managers rarely give feedback effectively, specifically or often enough and many talent detest air-check sessions claiming to hate listening to past shows. Both sides need to step up. There’s no better way to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats than reviewing specifics of what happens on the air. If you’re not reviewing the air product with some regularity, you’re missing a great opportunity to be a remarkable broadcaster.

Be Curious. “I want to be the guy who studies the most and be the smartest guy, I try to learn as much as I can about myself, about my teammates, and I think the biggest thing is I always want to learn something.”

Curiosity is key in being better at your job from office dynamics and on-air chemistry to topic development and improving your skills and knowledge as a broadcaster. Sometimes we need to look at our life as a four-year-old and ask, “Why?” an annoyingly number of times.

Own Your Mistakes. “I just have to be better. That’s what it really comes down to. I’ll take the blame for it. I’m excited about that because I love a challenge.”

No one has time for finger-pointing, hallway whispering or co-workers who duck out of the way when trouble arrives. Raise your hand, admit your mistakes quickly and publicly. It quickly defuses the situation, builds trust and respect amongst your peers, and clears the negative energy of the office so success is possible.

Other quick insights from Russell Wilson you should follow:

  • Be able to adjust.
  • Be able to make things happen.
  • Study your craft.
  • Work with a sense of urgency.
  • Be poised.
  • Stay locked into the moment.
  • Keep believing in yourself no matter the circumstances.

Whether you are a talk host, DJ, manager or board operator – you are the quarterback of your domain. Take this advice and prepare yourself for a championship performance every day.

Brock & Salk Turn a Battleground into Common Ground

When political advisor and forever Boston sports fan Mike Salk and former NFL QB Brock Huard were teamed together in 2009 it was all about winning, but they didn’t know how. They didn’t know each other and didn’t agree on much. It was an awkward 30-minute demo or so they say – no one seems to have listened to it since. Now Brock & Salk on 710 ESPN Seattle is one of the most successful and popular sports radio shows in the country.  I sat down with Brock & Salk for a 60 minute interview as part of an on-going series of interviews called Inside the Bonneville Studios to find out how they did it.

Huard remembers the beginning, “I wanted to win arguments. He wanted to win arguments. And our station was just trying to find its footing. It wasn’t until we went to Phoenix (a year into the show) that we realized we weren’t winning, we weren’t really growing.”

“Look, we are different,” Salk tells me. “Politically, religiously, background, coasts, everything was different.”

In Phoenix, for the first time, they sat down several nights in a row and had dinner and got to know each other and discovered a relationship built on common ground.

They agree, “The thing we have most in common is our competitive obsession.”

Huard isn’t convinced it could have happened much sooner, “I think it just takes time, like with anything you’re trying to build. We had to prove to ourselves that we enjoy doing this, I enjoy coming to work with you. It’s not a battle. Even though we are vastly different we can find some common ground.”

And so they did. Now they aren’t battling to win each argument between them or with the audience.

“You’re not going to win every battle. Your not going to make people agree with you,” Huard says. “Whether it was right to put Ken Griffey Jr. on the bench, and you believe that and you can back that up and your thesis is right, there’s going to be a part of the audience that won’t believe it. They don’t want to hear it from you. Even if the facts are right in front of them, they’re not going to want to hear that. And I think a couple of years ago it drove Mike crazy, now it’s like, ‘Okay, I’m not going to convince them. If I keep pounding and beating my head in what good am I doing?'”

Brock & Salk arrive at the studios a couple of hours before show time and ask each other what stories they like that day. They have a conversation. It’s a collaborative effort. But, they don’t prep nearly as much as they used to.

“(Sports radio consultant) Rick Scott told us at that same trip to Phoenix, ‘You guys will know it’s going well when you don’t get to 75% of what you prep for.’ We didn’t believe him.” Salk says they were preparing the show so thoroughly it was actually hard to have a conversation about topics. It was over-prepped. About the time a topic or story was getting interesting it was time to move to the next story, because that’s what was on the show rundown. They moved to topic after topic regardless of how good or bad it was going.

Since that time, they’ve stopped prepping so much and narrowed the focus of the show to the one or two topics they want to hit hard.

Mike admits, “Once we started leaving things on the cutting room floor, it was better.”

Brock and Salk is heard weekdays 9a-Noon on 710 ESPN Seattle and on demand at and

Are You Ready For The NFL?

The NFL deal is almost done (It’s 7:58a PT). Sundays this fall won’t be wasted on chores and church socials — and the fantasy football smack talk will continue per usual. Are you ready? Is your station ready? Are the promos locked and loaded? Is the website ready to go? Did you proactively plan for this moment — or are you scrambling in reactive mode today? If you aren’t ready for this — which we all knew was coming – what else aren’t you ready for?

Here’s the latest NFL timeline.

The Really Super Big Game Sunday

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.”

“You Play To Win The Game!” – Herm Edwards

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. 

Are Your Local Updates Out of Date?

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.

Test Driving A New Sports Radio Show Prep Service

November 23, 2010 1 comment

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.

Westwood One has beefed up the old and is working with the guy behind it, David Brody of BMS (Broadcasters Marketing Services).

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

Would You Start Vick?

November 16, 2010 1 comment

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.