Updated: Mar 17, 2021
Welcome to the first-ever PD Smash article. Today I want to talk about the 2020 McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society: The Future of Sports Radio and Podcasting. This event was hosted by Moody College of Communication's Center for Sports Communication and Media. A branch of the Univerity of Texas. Their link is the first one at the bottom of the post. The symposium is a really cool hour and a half video on how sports radio and podcasting intersect and compete with each other as well as how sports radio has evolved over time, where it is headed, and how to build your brand in the sports journalism world. If you’re interested in listening to the entire thing, the link is below. However, I know a lot of you don’t have an hour and a half to listen to that video, so I wanted to give you a synopsis of what I found helpful, and the major lessons I took from the video.
The three biggest traits a sports broadcaster needs
This piece of advice was given by Jeff Ward. He was asked about how content has changed in the podcasting era and answered that the content itself hasn’t changed and the fundamental rules haven’t changed either. If you know your stuff, you are fearless, and you are entertaining; you can still succeed. That sentiment stuck with me, so I watched for those qualities in the other panelists and was surprised to find that each and every one of them had an aura of fearlessness at all times, that they clearly knew their stuff, and that they’re fun to watch. I then kept an eye out for any other connecting character traits and that led me to my greatest discovery. Every single one of them hustles. They are always looking for that next story, that next interview, that next thing to do. Hustle seems to be where it all starts. If you are constantly hustling you must have a passion for the industry. If you have a passion for sports, you will learn what you need to know. If you love the industry and know your stuff, you have no reason to be nervous. If you are confident, that allows you to be yourself. If you are yourself, people will relate to you. If you get people to relate to you, you have an audience. If you have an audience, you have a successful show. If you find a way to hustle, know your stuff, be fearless, and be entertaining, the sky's the limit for you.
Talent wins in the end
This concept was repeated multiple times, by all the panelists. Now, they are not talking about the type of talent that is natural-born. If you aren’t naturally gifted in this industry, you can make it. They are talking about how good you are at your job. If you know your stuff, are fearless, and are entertaining, you will succeed just give it time and don’t give up. In the end, the audience dictates who radio stations hire. If people like you, you will succeed.
Social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
During the symposium, the panel was asked about the impact social media has on their job. Every single panelist shared how they have used their socials to make their show better and how social media has hindered them in major ways in the past. Sarah Spain and David Kaplan had two interesting approaches to their accounts. Sarah uses her account to improve her show in many ways. She has secured interviews due to the buzz she has created on those platforms and has further her career with some viral videos. However, the most interesting thing she does is take certain hate posts and put them on her show before dismantling them in front of an audience. She used the hate from other people and turned it into fuel to make her show better, which is ingenious.
David uses social media as a way for instant feedback. He is on his social media during the entire show, sifting through comments and posts looking for what will make the show better. However, all the panelists stressed how important it was to not get caught up in the storm that is social media because that will lower the quality of your show. Sarah shared a personal example of how a co-host of hers did this and how it lowered the show's quality. At the end of the day, social media is a tool, and like any tool, it can be used for good or bad. How you use it is up to you.
Just be yourself
This was a concept that was stressed again and again throughout the conference. People can tell when you are faking it 99% of the time so don’t try. You are unique, so use that uniqueness. A great example of a person who has been herself and used who she was to her advantage is Tamryn Spruill. During this conference, she shared how she has blazed her own trail her entire career and has done it her way. She used her love and passion for basketball and the WNBA in a way that has opened many doors for her. She found a niche market she was interested in and turned it into a career. She made a career doing what she loved, the way she loved to do it, and that is inspiring.
Thank you so much for reading no matter who you are, whether that be someone trying to learn more about the sports broadcasting industry like myself, someone just interested in this topic, or a sports head who came looking for some new content. I hope I was able to provide some insight into what I thought was an outstanding conference on the future of sports radio and podcasting. Again, if you want to learn more, the link to the video is below.
Until next time, PD Smash signing off