Archive

Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson Throws Out Some Radio Advice

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.

A Journey Into “Instant Unemployment” and How to Avoid It

steveBefore we get into this, I’d encourage everyone to read Steve Gleason’s guest column as Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.com and support the Gleason Initiative Foundation’s efforts to find a cure for ALS, if you’re so inclined.

THE LEAD IN

When I was PD at ESPN radio, Colin Cowherd would tell me his that his job is make me nervous at least once a day and my job is to trust that he knows where the line is. That works most of the time. But, as demonstrated by the guys in Atlanta, it just takes 2:10 to erase everything you’ve done up until that moment.

I get it, PDs ask a ton from talent: be funny, relevant, insightful, entertaining, credible, unique, distinctive, opinionated, memorable, edgy, but not offensive, and appealing to a younger audience — for four hours, live, every weekday. And don’t say “uh.” And break on time. And promote the ticket giveaway. And tease better. And…

That’s hard.

Talent will cross the line. It happens (see: Lex & Terry) . In most cases, I’ll defend the talent and I have in many cases. The Atlanta case is indefensible. It’s making fun of a guy who is dying a horrible death from an even worse disease.

RADIO SPITS THE BIT

update: Nick Cellini has deleted his twitter account.

Nick Cellini has changed his twitter bio to read “short order cook.” Nick was one-third of the Morning Mayhem on 790 The Zone, all of whom were fired yesterday for…this (Audio, transcript). Go ahead listen and read it before we dive in — context helps.

It’s a “stupid” gag they did about Steve Gleason, the former Saints player suffering from ALS. All three broadcasters; Nick Cellini, Chris Dimino and Steak Shapiro have apologized. Too little, too late.

Cellini tells AccessAtlanta.com that the dismissal is “a relief, really. The station is a sinking ship.”

Shapiro, who once co-owned the station under Big League Broadcasting also spoke out, “The ironic thing for me is that I’m an aficionado of the Saints and Steve Gleason. The bit was ill-advised.” He added the bit was not representative of the work they had done four hours a day for 16 years.

Dimino posted a long apology on facebook and realized, “how quickly a stupid and worse than that non thinking moment can change all of it (19 years in broadcasting, 30 years as a grown man, and 10 years of being a father.)”

HOSTS ALL A TWITTER

The bit had broadcasters across the country abuzz.

Rich Eisen (@richeisen) from NFL Network tweeted,

“I just heard the stupid ass Steve Gleason “bit” on the Atlanta radio station and it’s beyond appalling. Those guys deserved what they got.”

Mitch Levy (@kjrmitch), the morning guy on 570 KJR in Seattle had a string of tweets late in the day,

“While I’m sure that I’ve been over the line too many times to count, that’s about as mean-spirited & tasteless bit I’ve ever heard in radio. We all do and say things on-air at the spur of the “live” moment that we’d like to have back. But, this was a premeditated, thought out, pre-produced attack on a good man who’s losing his battle with perhaps the most vicious & senseless disease. Really had to image that someone at that station who was aware of the “bit,” didn’t say “stop” before it aired.”

Heath Cline (@heathradio) is the afternoon host at 107.5 The Game in Columbia, SC,

“How could anyone have thought this was going to be funny. Thing is, I know those guys are capable of much better. I’ve heard them do it. Baffled how they misjudged things so badly today.” This is a spattering sample of the reactions. There were also a lot of “OMGs.”

Another interesting perspective on the mishap comes from Chadd Scott, APD and host at 1010 XL Sports in Jacksonville who was fired from an Atlanta sports station in 2011 for tweets. He claims his negative tweets about Delta Airlines, a major station sponsor, lead to his dismissal. He tweeted when he heard the news yesterday,

“Feel bad for friends @NickCellini & @chrisdimino. I’ve been in their shoes & know what today feels like.” “I only ever “wanted” to work at 1 station & it wasn’t ESPN, it was 790 the Zone years ago & I did. That WAS such a good station.” “All 3 made big $ for failing station & bit gave 790 a reason 2 dump salary.”

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?

“What lessons are to be learned from this?” I asked on Twitter. Bean, from KROQ’s Kevin & Bean (@clydetombaugh) tweeted back at me,

“Morning show host truth: Your company has no opinion of anything on your show and probably doesn’t even listen. But, if somebody ELSE complains then it is easy for them to say it’s obvious what you did was wrong and stupid.”

How do you know when a bit has gone too far? Shan Shariff (@newschoolSS), the host of “New School” on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, responded.

“Larry, as you know, TOUGH question. Best answer I have is feel. If I wouldn’t even make the joke off-air to my buddies, I DEFINITELY wouldn’t say it on-air. What these guys in Atlanta did was just sick. Interesting side note: I actually sent this to my guys this afternoon as a warning to watch the line. We tend to flirt with it.”

The reality of the situation is, regardless of ratings or talent, most radio hosts walk up to around the “line” everyday. They are the stunt actors of radio willing to dive off the top of a building, walk through fire, or wreck a motorcycle to get a laugh, to get some ink, and to increase ratings. And we love them for it. From time to time, they’re going to cross the line. It’s going to happen. PDs need to be there more of than not. Truth is some will lose their job (See: Dan Sileo) and some won’t (See: Rush Limbaugh).

I’ve had to deal with many obscene, indecent, and profane incidents with varying degrees of controversy over the years. The hosts who I had to terminate are the ones who wander into at least two of these four areas: personal attacks, lack of filter, off-brand remarks, and negative intentions. Here are some ways to avoid your own “instant unemployment” in the future.

  1. Don’t Get Personal. Being edgy is okay (depending on your station brand), but know your target. Keep your sights on actions, decisions and behaviors and avoid getting personal. Nobody likes a bully. Attacking people’s traits, conditions, impediments, handicaps, etc. is just mean, not humorous. While there are some exceptions, people generally do not respond well when you ridicule or are disrespectful to someone who has been touched by misfortune.
  2. Appoint someone the “content filter.” One person on the show has to have 51% control and veto power on all content. If you don’t, no one on the team has the authority to kill a bit. If that person doesn’t green light the proposed piece, then re-edit, re-write and/or re-record it or trash the bit. Get it right before you air it.
  3. Be Consistent. Make sure the bit is reflective of your show and station’s brand. The Atlanta guys say this bit wasn’t what they typically do – so why do it? Be authentic to yourself and serve the expectations of the listeners.
  4. Have pure intentions. If your intentions are to honor someone with a parody, are all in jest, and in the spirit of camaraderie — listeners will pick up on that. If you’re vengeful, spiteful and trying to tear someone down – that too will come across. If you find yourself preparing a bit with a negative intention, might I suggest canning the bit? Otherwise, it’s likely to cost you your job.

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 www.mynorthwest.com and www.kiroradio.com/brockandsalk

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.

Video Blog: Interviewing 101 – Lessons from Super Bowl XLV

A couple of interviewing lessons exemplified by post-game Super Bowl coverage including a post-game interview gaff from ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio with Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.

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.