From June 2013 through August 2015, I was lucky enough to work at one of the greatest sports stations in America – 104.3 The Fan in Denver, Colorado. I had just finished up ten years of producing the Sacramento Kings and I was excited to get back into the day to day operations of a sports radio station.
When I was hired by The Fan’s former Program Director Nate Lundy, he introduced me to what I now believe to be the best duo in sports radio or any format for that matter – Alfred Williams and Darren “D-Mac” McKee.
Every day at 3:30pm MT, Al and D-Mac trot out the same segment that they’ve been doing for years. If you whip out your most recent copy of “Radio Terms and Definitions” (RT&D) and look up the term “benchmark”, you’ll see The Big Three at 3:30 used as an example. It’s really nothing special – a basic produced intro, a bed underneath and a sounder ringing in between each topic. In this particular case, the Big Three consists of each guy’s top three stories of the day.
When I’m producing/programming a show/station, I always encourage my guys to keep the show focused on a maximum of three topics. The fight I often get in return is “but we have great opinions on more than just 2-3 stories” or “you can’t limit me like that”.
From a host’s perspective, I can understand where they’re coming from. However, from the programmer’s point of view, based on listening habits, less is more, and it’s exactly why the Big Three works so well.
The guys set an appointment with the audience by executing the segment at the same time every day. Al and D-Mac are well prepared with enough stories to introduce though they don’t talk about the show prior to going on air. It’s well-paced (no particular topic dominates) and it allows the guys to give their opinions on those topics that we as programmers would rather not have them get too deep into.
On Thursday September 7, 2017, the Big Three topics were as follows:
- Demaryius Thomas being named the Denver Broncos team captain
- Randy Moss’ number being retired on the same day that AP returns to Minnesota with the Saints
- The “other side” of the Michael Bennett story
- Will we ever see a 2000-yard receiver in the NFL
- The NBA considering changing the Draft Lottery to avoid tanking
- Who will represent the NFC in Super Bowl LII?
The guys clearly know their audience since they deliver 80% of NFL content, and while most of these stories are not going to dominate the show, they deserve a few thoughts.
Denver sports radio fans have learned by now that Al and D-Mac are professionals. They’ve done this for so long that they make it look easy.
When you’re a producer and assembling your rundown for the day, it’s nice to have a segment or two where you can simply type in the name of the segment and move on because you know it will be a hit. Too many times producers and hosts stress over coming up with 500 topics for every show and it’s unnecessary. The key is to focus on what your audience wants and carve out a niche for everything else. Which is exactly what Al and D-Mac do on a regular basis.