Wed. Jul 18th, 2018

Providing The Why

What do Marshawn Lynch, sports talk radio, and crossing the street all have in common? It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s something that actually provides the path to becoming a better worker.

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem prior to a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night. Lynch remained seated on a cooler while holding a banana. Following the game, there was no sign of Marshawn. He went Beast Mode through a University of Phoenix Stadium exit before reporters could ask him dozens of questions.

Why exactly did Marshawn sit during the anthem? Well, we don’t know for sure. Is it because of the nauseating and despicable display that began in Charlottesville the evening prior? Is it because he’s continuing Colin Kaepernick’s protest against racial injustice? Is it because he has a bunion and desperately needed some potassium?

Some argue that Marshawn’s refusal to say anything about his act is the beauty of his act. We’re left to guess. Yeah, but if we come up with the wrong theory or guess something that’s completely inaccurate, how beautiful is that? It’s about as beautiful as that ’02 mugshot of Nick Nolte.

It sure seemed and felt like a protest by Marshawn, but just when you might’ve been convinced that it was, Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio provided this gem following the game. “[Lynch] said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years, it’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’”

Oooooo kay? I feel like that old-school clip of Vince Lombardi walking the sidelines saying, “What the hell’s goin’ on out here?!”

We’re left to wonder without clear answers. This shows the importance of stating why you’re doing something. It’s a concept that also applies to sports talk radio.

I’ve noticed many times in the sports talk radio business, a request that seems to be ignored, actually isn’t fully understood. The other person doesn’t understand the reason for the request, or the importance of the request, because it simply wasn’t communicated.

For instance, if a manager wants a host to tease more often, it can make a huge difference when the manager provides the reasons why it’s important to do so. Don’t tell your host to “tease upcoming segments more” without stating why. Instead say, “Tease your upcoming segments more often. I’ve looked at a lot of data and see that your audience sticks around longer when you consistently tease. The ratings for your show should spike if you execute this more often.”

It didn’t take an entire day to deliver that message. It didn’t even take a whole minute. A simple two extra sentences provide so much clarity. Now, your host fully understands the reason and the purpose for your instruction, and you have a much better formula for success.

Managers can develop the attitude of, “I’m the boss, just do it. I don’t need to explain myself every time.” See how far that approach gets you. You’re much better off painting a clearer picture for your staff.

By the way, this concept goes for everybody in the building. Hosts, producers, tech producers, whatever. Anyone with a pulse and a paycheck.

It’s not good enough for a host to tell his crew, “Guys, lets lock in during the show.” Provide the reasons why. “Guys, lets lock in during the show. If I’m in the middle of a thought, and see that you’re not paying attention, it throws me off. I think, ‘man, this must suck. This must not be entertaining at all.’ I’m thinking that while trying to talk about whatever I’m talking about. So, please lock in because I need you guys. This show won’t work unless all of us are focused.” The crew understands better when you break it down.

A producer could ask a host to “take a commercial break at 39 after.” The host will probably think, “Yeah, okay.” If the producer instead provides the reasons for the request by saying, “Bro, can you break at 39? It keeps the show tighter. It sounds so much better, and management won’t yell at me like possessed lunatics.” The request now has much more significance.

Also, board ops (my bad — technical producers). Apparently, “board op” is outdated like Division I-A, while “tech producer” is the newer, hipper FBS. I digress. If a tech producer tells a host to “give me a heads up before going to sound,” the host might channel his inner Bill Belichick and think/say, “Do. Your. Job.” If the tech producer asks a host, “Hey, can you give me a heads up in the break before going to sound? I’ve got a ton of cuts here. I don’t want to miss anything and make the show sound bad, or throw you off. If you tell me before a segment, ‘have the Michael Bennett, Goodell, and NFL Films bed ready,’ it helps me out.” Which approach do you think a host is more likely to listen to?

The more precise you are, the better chance you have at being understood. If you tell little Johnny to look both ways before crossing the street, that’s good advice. However, little Johnny doesn’t know why you’re saying that to him. He’ll be much more aware of traffic if you say, “Look both ways before you cross the street so you don’t get hit by a bus.” Whoa, whole different ball game! State it however you’d like, but the thought is to clearly explain yourself. You’ll find that your requests will be accepted much more often when they’re understood better.

You might disagree with the method of kneeling that Colin Kaepernick chose, but at least we know why he did it. Think how maddening it would be if we didn’t even know that (which is the case with Marshawn Lynch sitting). Don’t make the same mistake in your role within a sports talk radio building. Always provide the why. If you leave things up for interpretation, don’t be shocked when they’re misinterpreted.

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