5 Rules for Choosing Sports Talk (or Podcast) Topics

When I was hosting sports talk radio in San Diego, I sometimes struggled to choose topics for my show. This was especially true in mid-summer when the Padres were bad and the Chargers season hadn’t yet started.

What do you talk about?

Fortunately, there are 5 rules you can use to prep the topics your audience wants to you hear you discuss.
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Conversational Sports Talk: 4 Tips for Sounding Natural On Air

Recently, I listed to the first demo tape I ever made. I was a sophomore at the Princeton of the Plains, Kansas State University. The cassette (yep – cassette) included mostly sportscasts and live reports from K-State football games for various radio stations around the conference.

As I listened, I blushed with embarrassment. I was bad. The sportscasts sounded scripted and rehearsed because . . . well, they were scripted and rehearsed. Yikes.
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How To Use Actualities to Improve Your Show

During four years as a sports talk host at ESPN Radio Network, I never figured out what to do with actualities. I knew it was supposed to improve my show to include them so I played them, but I didn’t know how to use them to make my show better.

Here are two tips I wish I had known then . . .
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How to fearlessly host a sports talk show solo

Thanksgiving Day 2003 was when I learned the difference between co-hosting a sports talk show and doing it solo. After co-hosting several shows on the old XTRA Sports 690 in San Diego, I was thrown on the air alone.

I had used everything I had prepared for a particular segment yet there were still several minutes left before break.

Now what? I was terrified.
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Don’t let haters prompt you to change your broadcasting style

A college football broadcaster was in his second season with a new university. Message board trolls were complaining that he wasn’t enough of a homer on his broadcasts.

“The guy I replaced was not good with the fundamentals of play-by-play,” he said. “He was a big time homer who could complain about the officials and act like the game was a funeral if the team was losing. You could go 20 minutes without knowing the time and score, or even which teams were playing.”

School officials were pleased with the new broadcaster. Still he wondered, “Do I keep doing my thing and hope people get used to it, or should I be more clear than I root, root, root for the home team?”
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This was my pre on-air routine. What’s yours?

Last weekend, I heard Jay Z’s song Izzo (H to the Izz-o, V to the Izz-A). Immediately, a flood of memories came rushing to mind. When I was the host of ESPN Radio’s weekend overnights, Izzo was one of several songs my producer would play for me in the final 15 minutes before air.

Just as it is for athletes, music was part of our show’s pregame routine. (Jason McBride was our producer; Brian Fitzgerald our board-op. LOVED working with those guys). The songs simultaneously relaxed me and fired me up. Jason wouldn’t start playing them until all of our show prep was complete.
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Two top tips for solo sports talk hosts

Someone I know recently hosted a sports talk show solo for the first time. He had co-hosted for years but this was his first time working alone. He said he realized the difference with about two minutes left in his opening monologue. He had run out of stuff to say.

solo-sports-talk

They were the longest two minutes of his life.
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