Baseball and radio have been partners since the Pirates/Phillies game was first broadcasted in 1921. Most baby boomer-aged baseball fans can remember listening to games on their transistor radios. Currently, Phoenicians enjoy the commentaries of Arizona Sports talent, like Burns & Gambo and Doug & Wolf, or DBack play-by-play announcers, like Greg Schulte. But on March 28, 2014, a few lucky Arizona residents were treated to a special radio broadcast by ESPN’s Colin Cowherd from Chase Field.
Cowherd, who has been in radio for 25 years, stopped in Phoenix as part of a nationwide tour. Arizona Sports had run a contest that invited the winners to be part of a live audience for the show. While Cowherd’s show is run on AM 620 and FM 98.7 in Phoenix from 10 AM to Noon on weekdays, this was a rare treat for the public to get a behind-the-scenes view of how radio show are produced. Cowherd also shared insights of how radio has helped maintain baseball’s and its players’ popularity and profitability; answered questions and signed autographs.
Having studied psychology in college, Cowherd provides a unique perspective on what makes players, teams and broadcasters successful. Cowherd is controversial. But, he feels, “All mail, good or bad, is fan mail.” Even people who dislike him are contributing to his ratings.
In a lesson, which is valuable to all entrepreneurs, Cowherd spoke about the importance of “taking your audience somewhere.” He focuses on emotional issues. So during this broadcast, he highlighted stories on Johnny Manziel’s pro day, Miguel Cabrera’s $248 million contract, and letting college athletes form unions.
Cowherd said the Tigers’ GM is an excellent businessman, who weighed the pros (e.g., the team makes $40 million from television, have the top ratings in the country, and Cabrera is their top attraction) and cons, and decided it was worth the risk. He says Manziel will stay popular because Americans love a mystery, whether it is what happened to the Malaysian airliner or if “Johnny Football” can make it in the NFL. He added the fact that there are 25 new college players each year diminishes their clout as union employees.
Cowherd did not just provide a monologue. He interviewed top professionals, like Joe DBacks manager Kirk Gibson, and has listeners call in. He was very personable and entertaining. What the attendees learned about media relations would be relevant and beneficial to all businesses.