In case you’ve been living under a rock or haven’t watched much TV the past few days, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch danced on Sunday. He danced a lot. It was basically the BeastMode of sideline celebrations. The home crowd went crazy and joined in the amusement. Multiple Jets players were ticked off. The standard “if you don’t like it, stop ‘em” comments ensued. You know the drill.
Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins shared an interesting thought about Lynch’s frolicking during the Raiders 45-20 demolition: “It irks my ever-living nerves.” Wow, nicely done. It sounds like the 3rd-round pick out of Georgia should’ve been wearing an ascot and speaking in a British accent while delivering that line. “Ever-living nerves.” You don’t hear that every day.
When you get past all of the details of Lynch’s dance party — the fact that he was dancing to “Oakland” by Vell featuring DJ Mustard — wondering if anybody goes by DJ Ketchup — thinking that Marshawn looks like he was psyched to hear “I whip my hair back and forth” while the 2010 Willow Smith hit single blared throughout the stadium — all of these thoughts point to something interesting: being different catches our attention.
It’s always interesting to find out which stories gain the most attention following an NFL weekend. Two of the biggest headlines from Week 2 were Ezekiel Elliott not exactly being eager to hustle following an interception, and Marshawn Lynch dancing. Why? Both stories are unique. When is the last time you remember Elliott giving up on a play? You don’t. When is the last time you remember Marshawn this jolly? 2006 when he was ghost riding an injury cart in college. It’s rare.
Sure, Marshawn Lynch is an NFL star. That helps make a sideline celebration become a bigger story, but he scored a touchdown against the Jets. That didn’t get much attention. He gained 92 yards from scrimmage against the Titans in Week 1. That didn’t get as much attention as his dancing. Michael Crabtree scored three touchdowns on Sunday. Even that fell short of Lynch’s dance moves.
It shows the power of being unique.
This is a vital concept to consider in sports talk radio. The hosts that catch our attention and cut through the clutter are able to differentiate themselves from others. Think of how important this is now more than ever. There are thousands of choices. You can stream local radio anywhere. You can access national radio everywhere. You can watch radio shows on TV.
On Monday, ESPN Radio’s Ryen Russillo shared a story about his mother. She told him it was so weird that she heard his show on the radio while driving. She asked if his show was now on radio too. He said, “Ahh yeah, it’s more of a radio show than a TV show.” When a host’s own mother doesn’t know that her son’s show has been on radio for the past decade, you know there are tons of choices out there.
The things that actually get attention can be maddening. I can remember writing stories for our station’s website while working at 104.5 The Team in Albany, NY. A story about the New York Giants complete with insight, quotes, stats, and other useful information got a few clicks. A video of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim picking his nose got thousands of clicks. That’s the way it goes. There are plenty of stories about the Giants. There aren’t many videos of Jimmy B digging for gold. Different gets noticed.
It’s like Showtime at the Apollo. You’ll be greeted by an impatient crowd yelling “womp womp” as a random dude ushers you offstage if you’re standard. Be different. The “been there, done that” consumer mentality exists with sports media. The last thing you want someone to think when you crack the mic is, “I’ve heard this thought a hundred times before.” With so many options available, you can’t blend in with all of the other talking heads. You have to stand out.
Of course trying too hard to stand out can also get you into trouble. Radio host Clay Travis pushed the envelope during a TV appearance on CNN last Friday. He gained a lot of attention for saying, “I believe in only two things completely. The First Amendment and boobs.” There was plenty of buzz as the clicks and retweets went through the roof. However, there was a downside.
CNN host Brooke Baldwin wasn’t exactly delighted to hear these comments. She kicked Clay off the show and apologized for his remarks. It created a firestorm at FOX Sports Radio. Let’s just say a few suits were doing the opposite of laughing hysterically following the appearance.
A line from the movie Dead Presidents comes to mind where Cutty the Pimp says, “Don’t you ever, in your (expletive) life, bite the hand that feeds you.”
It’s mandatory for a sports talk radio host to create content that hasn’t been shared before — to look for angles that haven’t been explored. You can’t do this with everything you say, but if you have a thought that isn’t incredibly unique, look for an example or a personal story that is. Explain your point in a unique way instead of blending in with similar comments made by others. There is always a way to deliver fresh goods.
How can I get attention? How can I say something that’s different? How can I stand out? These are all questions that you should be asking yourself constantly. Just avoid coming up with answers that put you directly in the line of fire. Don’t irk your employer’s ever-living nerves. Unlike the New York Jets, they can actually do something about it.