What if I asked every show host reading this article to continue doing their daily show, but also taking over sales to monetize their content. Could you do it? Some have and they’ll be the first to tell you it’s not easy.
Austin Stanley and Zach Bingham are a two-man band that’s doing exactly that. Based in Nashville, the duo built from the ground up, a unique way to provide sports talk content through social media. Every day at 8 a.m. you can find Stanley and Bingham on Facebook Live as the hosts of A to Z Sports Nashville.
For one hour, the two hosts talk anything and everything that’s going on in the sports scene around the Nashville market. Everything you see and hear, including graphics, live reads, content and more, is all created by duo themselves.
The idea came about after both Stanley and Bingham found themselves out of sports radio in the summer of 2016. They had done radio shows and podcasts together in the Nashville market, but were now looking for their next big break in the sports media business. They soon decided to create their own break, after the duo stumbled upon the power of Facebook Live. The tool was still relatively unknown when Stanley and Bingham received a ton of hits and comments during a Titans-Chiefs preview show the following fall, but soon realized they had a way of getting back into the sports talk scene on their own accord.
In theory, it’s great to be your own boss, especially in this business. Amongst other things, you get to create your own schedule, as well as your own content, but it also means you have to create your own revenue. Luckily, the team had experience as Bingham dabbled as a sales rep during his time in sports radio. It gave the team more of an understanding of what it was going to take to profit from their own coverage.
For the first six months of A to Z Sports, the two made no money as they tried to sell their own sponsorships. However, their luck started to change as the calendar turned to 2017. Stanley and Bingham decided to partner with a local digital media business that developed their website and helped get their coverage off the ground.
Soon after, they were gaining clients and staring to bring in real revenue. While the two were constantly grinding away throughout each day with both show content and sales, they caught a break that proved to be key to their ascent: captivating local storylines.
All of a sudden, the Tennessee Titans went from a 3-win team to a 9-win team which flirted with the playoffs. Along with strong NFL coverage, Stanley and Bingham were able to capitalize off the drama of the Tennessee football head coaching search that made national news, as well as the Predators making a run at the Stanley Cup. The Nashville sports scene had never been more relevant and the two were building off of it, as the A to Z Sports Facebook page went from zero likes to now over 28,000. All of it from organic growth.
Stanley and Bingham figured it’s better to be in the listener’s phone, rather than their radio. That strategy has been key in implementing an internet-based show that’s turned profitable. The two are full-time with the operation and focus all their efforts on improving their product and seeking new clients.
If you watch an episode of A to Z Sports Nashville, it’s easy to see why Stanley and Bingham have been successful. The graphics are exceptionally well done, the topics are creative and local, plus, the two have great chemistry and energy which makes for an entertaining show.
Though I have no fan loyalties to any teams in the Nashville area, I can sit and enjoy a great product. Not only do these two have that, they have one that should be commended for its originality. I would expect nothing but big things in the future from A to Z Sports.
TM: Between you and Zach, whose responsibility is it to plan the show and who takes the reins on the sales side?
Austin Stanley: We’re both involved in everything together. Whenever we’re in studio you’ll notice our graphics. Zach puts that together while I put the show run down together. Each of our sponsors gets a live read and we’ll do creative things with topics to imbed the sponsors into them. That’s kind of my job along with creating headlines and creating questions for viewer interactions. We try not to talk too much before the show, because you want organic reactions and opinions from each of us.
TM: How have you two found selling advertising for an internet-based show, versus an actual sports radio show?
AS: It’s different because our livelihood depends on how much we sell. Radio stations have endless inventory and we don’t. We don’t want to have 10 sponsors on our show, because then it feels like a NASCAR package. We try to be creative and cater to the needs of the client.
What Zach always says, when he was in radio, there are a few rules: There’s limitations on what a sales person can do for a client. Well, we try to focus on doing everything we can to benefit the client, because they’re our first priority and we want to make sure each sponsorship works perfectly for each client. It’s definitely more flexible than selling at a radio station.
TM: Is there one particular social media platform that’s been more critical to your success?
AS: They all serve their own purpose. Businesses like Facebook and they’re also really starting to like Instagram. Twitter is a necessity but it’s not what clients are really looking for.
We have Twitter because news travels fastest there and we can tweet out links to our show. Instagram is becoming more and more popular and is more of a creative type feel. We don’t have our show on Instagram, but we try to build around it with more content. We’re focusing a lot on growing on that platform.
TM: What’s the long-term goal for you guys? To continue to grow your own brand and keep your unique platform? Or would the two of you be open to joining a station in the future?
AS: We have thought about that. We have some ideas on what we can build this into that are kind of behind the scenes type of ideas. We’ve talked with some radio stations before about getting a show, here and there, but also keeping our business open.
There really isn’t a ceiling with our company and how we’re doing it. We just need to continue to grow and grow, and make sure that we’re using our time the best.
Doing a radio show requires a ton of prep work and we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin. We don’t like being repetitive and during a three-hour show you kind of have to be.
TM: Radio stations have callers, texters, etc. for interaction? Do enjoy that your interaction is more digital?
AS: Yeah, that was the thing we really wanted to focus on the most. As we noticed, in the first eight months we were doing this, that was when so many platforms and companies were trying to do sports talk on Facebook Live. They weren’t engaged with their audience, they were mostly just trying to talk with each other. Our primary focus was to talk to whoever was watching.
The comments are instant, and just like regular callers on a radio station, you get to know certain people that always watch and comment. It’s really cool.
We always try to say the names of the people commenting, along with their question and comment. We call it a virtual room, because we want to include everyone and that only makes it more likely they’ll want to continue to watch and interact. Plus, it’s more fun. They come up with funny stuff and rip on us sometimes.
TM: What’s one thing you know now that you wished you did when you started?
AS: Doing a sports talk on this platform is not near the same as doing it on radio. It’s very different. You have to play to your audience more, than you do just filling time. Now, in radio, you still want that to be good content, but I think with this platform you have to be more directional with your topics and discussion.