When programming sports radio there are many segments of a show in all dayparts that could be considered more important than others. Most PD’s will tell you that your segments during the peak drive time hours should be your biggest focus. This is where you want to make sure you put your best content of the day, ensuring that you inform and entertain your largest audience.
I agree with this wholeheartedly but in my opinion the MOST important segment of the day is the opening segment. The opening of a sports talk show should be the host’s chance to not only get loose and have a bit of fun but set the table for the day.
After a trip out East in Baltimore last week, I now turn my attention to something a bit closer to home in San Francisco at 95.7 The Game with Jo Fortenbaugh, Lorenzo Neal and Dan Dibley (Joe, Lo and Dibs).
Living in Sacramento I don’t get a chance to listen to The Game as much as I’d like due to the distance from the Bay Area but whenever I do travel to the Bay, I’m always anxious to hear how the FM Sports Talker is sounding. I’m typically very impressed.
Side note here: FM Sports is an amazing listen; AM sports talk is just fine but wow… FM blows me away every time.
Now back to the action.
As I tuned in, I knew the topic of the morning was going to be the release of Joe Haden in Cleveland and whether the Raiders should take a swing at signing him. Given the secondary struggles of the Silver and Black last year, this should have been on the top of their list and sure enough it was.
What I loved about listening Joe, Lo and Dibs was they didn’t hit it right out the shoot. The guys took a few minutes to stretch their legs and have some fun with one another. Joe Fortenbaugh does a great job by welcoming in the audience, thanking them for listening, and announcing upcoming guests and Raiders tickets appointments.
At this point, Joe has two options; A) Dive right into the Haden story or B) Have a little fun with his on-air partners.
I commend Joe for going with the latter as he poked fun at Dibs’ golf game and Dan was happy to play right along by laughing himself. This portion of the opening segment took roughly three minutes and then the guys dove into the possibility of Haden signing with the Raiders.
Notice I pointed out that it took all of three minutes. Yes you read that correctly, THREE minutes! They didn’t waste an entire segment breaking down Dibs swing or Lorenzo telling some story about a random golf outing that the listeners may or may not care about, rather they got in and got out of it quickly, had their laughs and got right into the meat of the day. Too many shows, especially morning shows, will wander off on tangents in their opening segment talking about things that have absolutely nothing to do with anything the listeners care about. This causes the listener to tune out before they even get started.
Props to the morning crew at The Game. They clearly know what they’re doing and with Joe driving this morning train, he provides the listener with a smooth ride from the start.
There’s something in here for all sports talk radio shows to take note of. Don’t waste an entire opening segment trying to be funny, but also don’t waste it by not showing off your personality. You’re in this business not only for your sports knowledge and opinions, but also because you can move the needle with your personality. It’s a fine line and those who know how to walk it are the ones that have a shot at long term success.