Everyone has someone they look up to in sports media. Maybe it’s because of their style, the way they prep, or even the way they live their lives. Whatever the case may be, even the most successful hosts have patterned themselves and learned from another great in the industry.
Dawn Davenport is one of the lucky ones, because she has inspirational talent all around her. It surrounds her during the week as a co-host of 3HL on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville. Even amidst recent changes to the show, she has two co-hosts that have turned a situation of uncertainty into one that has remained incredibly strong.
“The one constant has been Brent Dougherty,” said Davenport, “He’s been on 3HL since the beginning. I think that helps because you have that voice and that lead, that has been on that show since the beginning. He knows what works, he knows this city, and he knows what people want to hear.”
There’s also Ron Slay, who is the newest addition but is already becoming one of the most lovable hosts in all of Tennessee sports radio. His passion is contagious, and it leaves not only a positive effect on his audience, but on Davenport, as well.
“He is amazing,” Davenport said. “So full of energy, completely true to himself, so likeable. His energy is contagious and people gravitate towards him, and not Just Tennessee fans. He’s a former SEC Player of the Year, and I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and say, ‘Man, I really hate Tennessee, but I really love Ron Slay’. He’s knowledgeable, he brings a different energy and an authentic voice to our show, which has been really refreshing.”
Finally, there is Beth Mowins on the weekends, one of the few women that do play-by-play for college football in the entire industry. Davenport is a true professional in her craft, but she’s not above trying to learn from Mowins or Kirk Morrison, both partners on her broadcast team.
“I look at her and I’m constantly learning from her on the play-by-play side,” said Davenport. “Because there’s not a whole lot of women in that role to model yourself after. That’s where we’ll kind of get better over the years.”
Everywhere she turns, Davenport is surrounded by great talent. But that tends to happen when you are a great talent, yourself. For Dawn Davenport, that’s backed up by her extensive television career, which spanned several years as a morning news anchor. During that time, she was also working at ESPN on the weekends, as well as doing guest appearances and fill-in work at The Zone. The constant 2 a.m. wake-up calls for morning TV were getting to her and she needed a lifestyle change. Sports radio was that path.
“The ability to give an opinion and get to enjoy what sports radio is all about was really appealing to me,” Davenport said. “I had a taste of it through my entire career; covering the Titans, SEC football and jumping on for guest appearances on radio. The transition happened when I was looking for different hours and a different schedule than the morning show. That 2 a.m. wake-up was getting to me. At the time, 104.5 The Zone 3HL had just shifted some things and I met with the PD at the time, Brad Willis, and it just ended up being a great fit. I was able to step in and join 3HL in the afternoons.”
Davenport now plays an integral role in the success of The Zone. That was important when the station saw Midday 180 move to Outkick.com. The station, however, continues to thrive and Davenport credits the environment for the way The Zone has responded
“I think it’s employees are there making sure they are on the same page. There’s positivity there and almost kind of a renewed passion in what we’re doing and what we’re providing to people. I think some of that, with what we’ve gone through in the global pandemic, we’ve always felt or thought that sports are important, but I think going through the global pandemic really shows how many people out there need an escape. We’re able to provide that. I think that’s really helped reinvigorate the station as a whole.”
Sports has always been Davenport’s passion. She was even an athlete in college at Auburn. Now she’s on the sidelines every weekend living her passion. She’s one of the many that are ecstatic to see fans back in the stands, but she didn’t know how much it really meant until just last week.
“It’s interesting because I actually worked football season last year, mostly in the SEC, where there were a limited number of fans. My football season last year was kind of different than a lot across the country. Then week zero I worked Hawaii and UCLA and the Friday night Northwestern game. I didn’t realize how excited these kids were to have the fans back in the stands. I didn’t realize until I started talking about how important it was to them. It was an amazing feeling.”
Davenport is extremely passionate about women in sports media. The opportunity to work with Mowins every week inspires her, and she’s committed to helping the industry think forward when it comes to giving women more opportunities in sports.
“I’ve been working college football and dabbling in play-by-play for ESPN, for two to three years. And then college football, I think this is my eighth or ninth season with them. I will say they do, especially of late, a great job of giving women an opportunity. I think that’s what’s missing. I talk to your boss, Jason Barrett, all the time about the lack of women in sports talk radio. I think part of it is the ability to get that experience so that you’re ready for that next step. It’s hard to find that and to find the opportunity to step in and get that experience when you’re ready for a big change, and I think that’s really where the shift has been. There are a lot more options nowadays, such as podcasts to get experience and step into that space. I like how it’s moving and the direction it’s going.”
It’s refreshing to hear from Davenport that the industry is doing a better job of hiring women. It’s also naive to think we don’t have any room to grow. So what can we do better?
Obviously, The Zone in Nashville took the hint and made an incredible hire with Davenport in the afternoon, but how can we find more talent like her, like Mowins, and so many others that just need the opportunity to shine?
“Yeah, I mentioned the opportunities. I think that starts with management, internships, and making sure the young women realize that there are opportunities for them in this business. That includes talking about it, and celebrating those that do it well and work their tails off. As well as making sure the young women know that this is something you can do. Never thought about doing sports talk radio back in the day growing up. Never even thought about it because there weren’t a whole lot of female voices to listen to where you thought, ‘Oh, I can do that’. That’s changing, obviously. Beth Mowins, on my football crew, is my play-by-play announcer. I look at her and I’m constantly learning from her on the play-by-play side, Because there aren’t many women in that role to model yourself after. “
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.
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