Welcome To The 2015 Sports Radio Draft

If you’re like myself and most other sports fans on the planet, you spent last night immersed in NFL Draft coverage. Whether you were glued to ESPN, the NFL Network, Twitter or another media outlet, the draft had your undivided attention and you couldn’t get enough of it. As the process unfolded, you found yourself playing arm chair General Manager as you second guessed a number of decisions. Then, you drifted off to fantasyland where you questioned what you would’ve done had you been given the responsibility of making selections for one of the 32 professional sports franchises.

schneiderWhen it comes to the sports talk radio industry, the role of a Program Director is similar to that of a NFL General Manager. Yes it can be fun to pick the talent that will reflect your brand’s vision but with that responsibility comes a number of different options and pressures. Before any critical decision is made, a myriad of factors must be taken into account and every stone must be unturned. Once the decision is made though, then the PD’s job is to do everything in their power to support the choice and turn it into a winning situation.

Most programmers that I know, go through a hiring process which includes asking a number of questions and talking to a wide variety of different people who can provide additional insight on a potential candidate. Questions are asked such as “Can this person generate ratings? Will they be a good teammate? Will they work with the sales team to help generate revenue? How will they interact with fans and critics? Are they coachable? What’s their work ethic like? How do they relate to the audience? Do they attend games and develop relationships? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

The PD will also analyze past performance, review how a host conducts themselves in the social space, listen to the host’s show numerous times to make sure it’s consistently great and spend time with the individual to see how they conduct themselves outside the work place. Once the process is completed, then it’s time to trust your gut and make a call, knowing that there’s a 50/50 chance of being rewarded or criticized.

decisionsWhile there are many parts of the job that a PD must focus on, nothing is more important than making good hiring decisions. Much like an NFL GM, one false step can cost your team and organization dearly if you misfire. When it comes to professional football I believe a GM and scout have one job to do when it comes to selecting talent – be right! The same rule applies to a PD when hiring talent.

The process can be extensive and at times exhausting but the more information you gather, the better your percentages are at hiring someone who will do a good job for your radio station. While nothing in life is guaranteed and anybody can be fooled, you owe it to yourself and your brand to be as thorough as you can be. Then you have to hope that the person you’ve given your trust and commitment to, returns the favor and performs favorably.

While I was watching the draft last night, I kept wondering, what if the sports talk radio format held an annual draft and every PD in the country had the chance to better their brand by selecting the best talent available. I’ve always enjoyed lists and debates so when media outlets like Radio Ink and Talkers put together their annual “Best Of The Sports Radio Format“, I’ll read them and do what everyone else in our industry does – agree with some and disagree with others. My only issue, is that I never know who’s part of the process or what the criteria is for measuring each show and personality.

spdI decided to try something fun and interesting by tracking down 32 programmers who I respect in this industry, and having them take part in the first ever sports radio draft. Using ground breaking technology (32 names in a hat) and a list of every single sports radio personality working on a local station or national network, I challenged each PD to select a personality who they found to be compelling, informative, entertaining, opinionated and someone they could win with if they had them on their airwaves.

I encouraged the group who took part in this process to avoid choosing someone based on past ratings history, revenue generated, market size, personal friendships, internal jealousies or annual salaries because if we are building a radio station and focused strictly on winning in the present and the future, then it’s all about identifying great talent who we think can make a difference. I also asked each person to identify individuals rather than shows because while some shows are strong as a whole, the best personalities in the format can adapt and thrive in any situation.

I want to thank all 32 programmers who took part in this exercise and put their names behind their selections. I also want to congratulate those on-air personalities who were thought highly enough by some of the best programming minds in the country to make our list of 32. While each programmer has a different perspective on what makes a sports radio personality great and various markets and networks operate differently than others, the process for identifying great talent and developing strong shows is very similar to what you see transpire in the NFL.

jameismarcusCurrently, there are hundreds of people delivering sports talk radio shows all across the country each day and some are very good and some need more seasoning. But just like an NFL Draft, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and selecting great talent is an inexact science. There will be can’t-miss talents who live up to the hype, others who have all the tools but can’t put it all together and hidden gems who weren’t seen as more than adequate role players yet have proven that even the brightest minds in our business miss sometimes. That’s what makes hiring people interesting, challenging, rewarding and devastating.

And on that note, it’s time to unveil the 32 selections in the 2015 Sports Radio Draft! Let the debate begin!

Order

Programmer/Station

Personality/Station

1.

Scott Masteller, WBAL-Baltimore

Colin Cowherd-ESPN Radio

2.

Don Kollins, 590 The Fan-Toronto

Boomer Esiason-WFAN

3.

Rick Scott, Rick Scott & Associates

Damon Bruce-95.7 The Game

4.

Brian Long, XTRA Sports 1360-San Diego

Dan Patrick-Fox Sports Radio

5.

Dave Shore, Detroit Sports 105.1-Detroit

Stephen A. Smith-SiriusXM

6.

Ryan Hatch, Arizona Sports 98.7FM-Phoenix

Mike Valenti-97.1 The Ticket

7.

Chris Kinard, 106.7 The Fan-Washington DC

Craig Carton-WFAN

8.

Kevin Graham, WEEI-Boston

Mike Francesa-WFAN

9.

Matt Nahigian, 97.5 The Fanatic-Philadelphia

Mike Missanelli-97.5 The Fanatic

10.

Dave Tepper, NRG Media-Omaha

Josh Innes-Sports Radio WIP

11.

Tom Parker, 105.7 The Fan-Milwaukee

Steve Czaban-ESPN 980/Yahoo Sports Radio

12.

Nate Lundy, 104.3 The Fan-Denver

Scott Van Pelt-ESPN Radio

13.

Mike Salk, 710 ESPN-Seattle

Fred Toucher-98.5 The Sports Hub

14.

Ryan Maguire, 560 WQAM-Miami

Gregg Giannotti-CBS Sports Radio

15.

Allan Davis, WGR 550-Buffalo

Nick Wright-610 KILT

16.

Brad Lane, ESPN 1500-Minneapolis

Dan Lebatard-104.3 The Ticket/ESPN Radio

17.

John Hanson, 610 Sports-Kansas City

Dan Barreiro-KFAN 100.3

18.

Dan Zampillo, ESPN 980-Washington DC

Terry Boers-670 The Score

19.

Gregg Henson, 970 ESPN-Pittsburgh

Bob Wojnowski-97.1 The Ticket

20.

Dennis Glasgow, 99.9 The Fan-Raleigh

Mitch Levy-950 KJR

21.

Jeff Austin, 1080 The Fan-Portland

Ian Fitzsimmons-ESPN 103.3

22.

Ari Temkin, 1250/94.5 ESPN-San Antonio

Bomani Jones-ESPN Radio

23.

Bob Agnew, 830 KLAA-Los Angeles

Tom Tolbert-KNBR

24.

Brad Carson, 92.9FM ESPN-Memphis

Chris Vernon-92.9 ESPN

25.

Len Weiner, 104.3 The Ticket-Miami

Jon Weiner-104.3 The Ticket/ESPN Radio

26.

Brian Lopez, ESPN 1320-Sacramento

Mike Greenberg-ESPN Radio

27.

Hoss Neupert, 101 ESPN-St. Louis

Kevin Wheeler-101 ESPN

28.

Dave Zaslowski, 97.9 ESPN-Hartford

Freddie Coleman-ESPN Radio

29.

Armen Williams, 104.5 The Team-Albany

Shan Shariff-105.3 The Fan

30.

Amanda Gifford, ESPN Radio-Bristol

Tom Waddle-ESPN 1000

31.

Jeremiah Crowe, 95.7 The Game-San Francisco

Ryan Ruocco-ESPN New York 98.7

32. Bruce Gilbert, Cumulus/Westwood One-Dallas Rich Shertenlieb-98.5 The Sports Hub

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.