Every host has experienced it. You apply for a gig at a station with a great reputation. You have a good conversation about your audio and your skillset with the PD. Then he or she says something that makes your heart sink, wondering why you wasted your time.
“I think you’re great, but I can’t hire you. You’re not from here. The listeners just wouldn’t accept you.”
It’s not a phenomenon exclusive to one region of the country or to markets in a particular size range. So many markets think of themselves as parochial. Where you went to high school is a big part of how conversations begin. There is an agreed upon correct answer for for which Applebee’s is “the nice one”. Someone from another town would be so far behind the 8 ball at the beginning that it doesn’t even make sense for them to come to town in the first place.
How true do we believe it is that the local population cannot accept opinions on the home teams from people that didn’t spend their entire lives in the town? Surely, it isn’t always smart to think that way, no matter how much you think your listeners value local knowledge. It could work in Chicago, where there is an abundance of talent that grew up knowing what it was like to suffer with the Bears, but think about a place like New Orleans. It isn’t even one of the 50 biggest radio markets in the country and more people are moving away from the area than into it. Does it make sense to demand all hires for a sports station there grew up with parents that drank Community Coffee and consider The Neville Brothers every bit as important to rock n’ roll as The Rolling Stones?
Dave Tepper is in a unique situation. He programs Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 in Denver. That market is becoming a hub for transplants from all over the country. His radio lineup though is made up of a lot of long time Denver residents and guys that have spent a considerable amount of time in the city’s sports media scene.
Tepper says that creates a unique challenge. How do you take advantage of so much institutional knowledge and still entertain an audience that everyday adds more and more people that lived halfway across the country when Peyton Manning led this team to a win in Super Bowl L?
“Denver is filling up with transplants like myself. We do talk about it and most our talent have been here long enough to have seen how it’s changing,” he told me. “We often discuss the importance and pacing of balanced content. We strive to talk about relevant topics both local and national. Talent challenges themselves to tie national topics back locally but not to force it. It’s ok if a national topic doesn’t turn local because most sports fans, natives or transplants, are aware and interested in what’s relevant.”
Erik Gee grew up in Norman, Oklahoma. It is right outside of Oklahoma City, where he hosted for years. He now serves as co-host of the Pat Jones Show on The Sports Animal in Tulsa. Gee says getting out of his hometown was important in order to truly grow.
“The biggest drawback is sometimes you can’t be a star in your hometown,” Gee says. “The audience and even the people you work with (especially if there isn’t a lot of turnover in your building) will pigeonhole you into a particular role that you can’t seem to escape. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, don’t be discouraged. Continue to work hard because good things will happen.”
I asked if there is any undeniable drawback to hometown radio.
“If you grew up rooting for the teams in your hometown, you will be more likely to think like a fan, he answers. “99.9% of the time, having the same passion as a fan is good, but you need to know when to pull back and look at the big picture.”
I asked Jason La Canfora the same question. CBS’s NFL Insider also co-hosts the afternoon drive show on The Fan in Baltimore. He doesn’t focus on the drawbacks. That is mostly because he is focused on the fun he has in local radio, as opposed to when he has been on nationally.
“Its not even close,” he says in an email. “We all speak the same language and I so far prefer finding a way to educate or entertain the people I am sitting next to at the games I go to with my kids rather than trying to pretend I could figure out how someone in Indiana thinks 9 could best spend the next 10 minutes.”
La Canfora doesn’t see how someone from the outside could really break in and have success on the radio in Baltimore. He is aware that it is not an issue of whether or not the outsider is talented. It’s just that Baltimore values…well, Baltimore.
“I’m not sure that it is any one thing as much as it is the fact that ultimately you aren’t from here. It is a very tough market to penetrate unless you are one of us at your core.”
It is really hard for me to believe that local ties are more important than if a talent is engaging. I’d rather listen to a guy that just moved to town and is a unique thinker than a lifer that hasn’t had a new thought about the home team in a decade.
Am I crazy? As long as the new guy isn’t misidentifying the market, anything can be overcome, right? If you are entertaining, I can live with you mispronouncing the name of a prominent landmark. Tepper agrees.
“I think local ties are important but not as much as finding the right talent that’s willing immerse themselves into the local teams. It’s great to have talent with local ties but it isn’t as important to me as fit. Getting too caught up in local ties can eliminate or minimize consideration of fresh voices that can do the work to fit into market.”
Good content is all most listeners are looking for. That is not to dismiss every programmer or GM that thinks local ties matter. Any local station in any market owes a level of connection to their listeners. I just don’t think that connection has to take decades to build. Thinking that way really limits the pond you can fish in and probably limits the number of keepers you’ll reel in.
Keeping Premier League Games Shouldn’t Be A Hard Call For NBC
“Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans.”
NBC Sports is facing some tough, costly decisions that will define its sports brand for the rest of this decade. A chance to connect with viewers in a changing climate and grow Peacock’s audience as well. However, making the right choice is paramount to not losing to apps like Paramount+ (pun intended).
NBC is currently in the business of negotiating to continue airing the Premier League as their current deal ends after this 2021-2022 season. NASCAR is contracted to NBC (and FOX) through the 2024 season.
NBC’s tentpole sports are the NFL and the Olympics.
Negotiations for the EPL are expected to go down to the wire. Rather than re-up with NBC, the league is meeting with other networks to drive up the price. NBC has to then make a decision if the rights go north of $2 billion.
Should NBC spend that much on a sport that is not played in the United States? It’s not my money, but that sport continues to grow in the US.
If NBC re-ups with the Premier League, will that leave any coins in the cupboard to re-up with NASCAR? Comcast CEO Brian Roberts hinted that there might be some penny pinching as the prices continue to soar. This may have been one of the reasons that NBC did not fight to keep the National Hockey League, whose rights will be with Disney and WarnerMedia through ESPN and TNT, respectively.
“These are really hard calls,” Roberts said. “You don’t always want to prevail, and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong, but I think the sustainability of sports is a critical part of what our company does well.”
Roberts was speaking virtually at the recent Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference. He told the audience that between NBC and European network Sky, that Comcast has allocated approximately $20 billion towards these sports properties.
Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh spoke virtually at the Bank of America Securities 2021 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference and echoed that the company is in a good position to make some strong choices in the sports realm.
“The bar is really high for us to pursue outright acquisitions of any material size,” Cavanagh added. “We got a great hand to play with what we have.”
While the European investments involve a partnership with American rival Viacom, the US market seems to have apparent limits.
Last Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway was seen by around 2.19 million people. It was the most-watched motorsports event of the weekend. That same week eight different Premier League matches saw over 1 million viewers. More than half of those matches were on subscription-based Peacock.
Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans. A game of typical soccer fan is used to a sport that is less than two hours long. The investment in a team is one or two games a week.
My connection to the Premier League began before the pandemic. When I cut the cord in late 2017, I purchase Apple TV. Setting it up, it asks you to name your favorite teams. After clicking on the Syracuse Orange and the New Jersey Devils, I recalled that my wife has family based in London, England. They are season ticket holders for Arsenal, and that family redefined the word “die-hard” fans.
I’ve long been a believer that sports allegiances are best when handed down by family. I love hearing stories of people loving the New York Giants because their parents liked them, and they pass it down to their children.
I’ve successfully given my allegiance to the Devils to my young daughters.
By telling Apple TV that I liked Arsenal, I get alerts from three different apps when the “Gunners” are playing. The $4.99 is totally worth it to see Arsenal.
Whenever I told this story, I was amazed to see how many other American sports fans had a Premier League team. Students of mine at Seton Hall University rooted for Tottenham Hotspurs, while an old colleague cheers on Chelsea.
This is not meant to say that NBC should sign the EPL on my account. The key for any US-based soccer fan is that between Bundesliga, Serie A, and other leagues, there will be no shortage of soccer available on both linear television and streaming services.
Besides, Dani Rojas did say that “Football is life.” NBC, originator of the Ted Lasso character, should make keeping its Premier League US connection a priority.
Media Noise – Episode 45
Today, Demetri is joined by Tyler McComas and Russ Heltman. Tyler pops on to talk about the big start to the college football season on TV. Russ talks about Barstool’s upfront presentation and how the business community may not see any problems in working with the brand. Plus, Demetri is optimistic about FOX Sports Radio’s new morning show.
6 Ad Categories Hotter Than Gambling For Sports Radio
“Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life.”
For years sports radio stations pushed sports gambling advertisers to early Saturday and Sunday morning. The 1-800 ads, shouting, and false claims were seedy, and some stations wouldn’t even accept the business at 5 am on Sunday.
Now, with all but ten states ready to go all in on sports gambling, sports radio stations can’t get enough of that green. Demetri Ravanos wrote about the money cannon that sports gambling has become for stations. Well, what if you are in one of those ten states where it isn’t likely to ever be legal like California or Texas? Where is your pot of gold?
Or, let’s face it, the more gambling ads you run, the more risk you take on that the ads will not all work as you cannibalize the audience and chase other listeners away who ARE NOT online gambling service users and never will be. So, what about you? Where is your pot of gold?
Well, let’s go Digging for Gold.
The RAB produces the MRI-Simmons Gold Digger PROSPECTING REPORT for several radio formats. In it, they index sports radio listeners’ habits against an average of 18+ Adult. The Gold Digger report looks at areas where the index is higher than the norm – meaning the sports radio audience is more likely to use the product or service than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. The report, generated in 2020, indicates that sports radio listeners are 106% more likely to have used an online gambling site in the last thirty days. That’s impressive because the report only lists 32 activities or purchases a sports radio listener indexes higher than an average adult. I looked at those 32 higher indexes, and I think we can start looking for some gold.
Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life. The gambling companies who commit significant money to get results will continue advertising and chase the others away. So, the future of sports radio needs to include other cash cows.
If it is evident to online sports gambling services that sports radio stations are a must-buy, who else should feel that way? I looked at the Top 32 and eliminated the media companies. ESPN, MLB/NHL/NFL networks, and others aren’t spending cash on sports radio stations they don’t own in general. But Joseph A Bank clothing, Fidelity, and Hotwire should! Here’s your PICK-6 list I pulled together that’s hotter than sports gambling:
- Sportscard collectors, Dapper Labs, Open Sea- read about Sports NFT $.
- Online brokerage firms-Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, Webull, TD Ameritrade
- Golf courses, resorts, equipment, etc.- we play golf at home and vacation
- Hotwire.com, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Carnival Corporation, and Priceline.com- we’ve used Hotwire in the last year.
- FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle-we wired or overnighted $
- Jos. A. Bank, shein.com, macys.com, nordstroms.com- we went to Jos. A. Bank in last three months
The sports card/NFT market is 32% hotter than the sports betting market for sports radio listeners. Everything on the PICK-6 is at least 100% more likely to purchase than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. All listed are at or above indexing strength compared to sports betting. The individual companies I added are industry leaders. Bet on it! Email me for details.