Top tips for sports talk hosts to create inside sources

There is a sports talk host in San Diego who I love listening to because I know he is connected with the local teams. When he shares opinions, especially about the Padres, I love to read between the lines, knowing there is a good chance that what he is passing off as opinion or observation is actually information he got from an inside source.

photo credit: sandrafdzh via photopin cc
Make it a point to attend practice regularly
Photo credit: sandrafdzh via photopin cc

Most hosts don’t have such insight because most hosts don’t make the effort to develop inside contacts. It’s hard to do because it takes time that many hosts aren’t willing to invest.

Here are four top tips for building insider relationships with the teams that you cover:
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Choose Your Pregame Segments With Money in Mind

When play-by-play broadcasters ask me what segments their pregame show should include, I tell them to think less about content and more about sponsorable segments. The more money your show can bring in, the more your sales staff will love you and the more job security you will have.

I hosted pre game shows in two markets — McPherson, KS and San Diego, CA. The formula worked equally well in both places.
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Consider this before your critics get under your skin

mobile phone

I couldn’t have worked in sports broadcasting today. My skin is too thin.

Even if 99% of the Internet comments about my talk show or my play-by-play were great, I would dwell on the 1% that wasn’t. I would dwell on it to the point that I would consider tweaking what I was doing to appease the 1%.

Big mistake. Don’t be me. Be realistic. Be mentally strong.
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Off-the-shelf questions for your postgame interviews


When I was on ESPN Radio, I used to hate when my producer Jason McBride would pop into my headset and say, “We have so-and-so on from the baseball game. They just won 3-1.”

Great. What am I supposed to ask the guy? I didn’t see the game – I was on the air!

Tired of getting caught unprepared, I put together some standard, off-the-shelf questions. Most of them aren’t very insightful, but at least they can get the interview started. From there, you can spontaneously ask more thoughtful questions based upon the answers you receive.
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Getting your next sports talk gig

In my last post, I shared some tips for improving your sports talk show from Scott Masteller, Sr. Director at ESPN Radio Network. Scott is a true sports talk pro. He was a speaker last year at STAA’s One Day Ticket to Sportscasting Success seminar and I’m pleased that he will be joining us again at ODT14.

What follows are some of the tips Scott shared for getting your next gig.

Feedback is critical

You won’t improve unless you know what to work on. “Don’t wait for the job to get the feedback. Get the feedback before you get the job,” Masteller says. If you don’t get the job, ask the employer for feedback. Not all employers will provide their feedback, but some will. Masteller suggests, “You want to try to learn from the experience.”
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ESPN’s tips to improve your sports talk show

Masteller cites Mike and Mike as a show that excels at providing smart content.

Talk show hosting is the most difficult genre of sports broadcasting to master. It’s not even close. Not only are the subtleties of sports talk hosting not taught in schools, but many program directors don’t teach it either. They either don’t know how or they don’t make the time.

One guy who knows sports talk radio as well as anyone is Scott Masteller, Sr. Director at ESPN Radio Network. He’s a George Whitfield for sports talk hosts.

Scott spoke last year at STAA’s One Day Ticket to Sportscasting Success seminar. What follows are some of the tips he shared for improving your sports talk show. Look for a bonus post with Masteller’s tips for getting your next gig on Friday.

Play the hits

Figure out what your audience wants. Masteller says when he worked in Dallas, he quickly realized that fans wanted to talk Cowboys football year around. “Programmers have to go where they feel the most audience is.”
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10 tips for sports radio hosts and PDs

radioink-sports conferenceLast week I was a panelist at the RadioInk Sports Radio Conference in San Diego. Some of the biggest hitters from the programming side of the industry were there – Bruce Gilbert, Scott Masteller, Mark Chernoff and Jack Silver, just to name a few. Super Agent Leigh Steinberg delivered the opening keynote. The two-day event was full of fabulous information.

Here are the top ten tips I heard for talk show hosts and program directors:
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