I have spent 8 years in the Sports Radio business for the local ESPN Radio affiliate in Salt Lake City. Throughout that time, I have done multiple jobs in the industry. I was a remote tech, I was the Promotions Director, I was running shows at night as a part-time producer, to finishing my tenure as an executive producer for the midday show that ran every weekday. A lot of people have asked me, what being a producer is like. That is what this article is about.
Advertisers are the most important element to your success. They are the way that you make your money in sports radio. But it is your job to provide the best content for the listener to visit your station and get the word out about your advertisers.
Sports Radio is a whole different beast compared to FM or music stations. A producer in a smaller market like Salt Lake City is different to bigger markets like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles. In those bigger markets, each show will have multiple producers. In Salt Lake, Sports Radio shows only have one producer to do a lot of things. You book the guests that will come on the show each day. You have to figure out which topics that are appropriate at the time to have a certain guest on whether it is discussing NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football, etc. That is more challenging as you get into the summer months because not a ton is going on. The fall is very easy because you have so many things going on. At least in Salt Lake City with College Football, NBA and MLS going on. You also have to book guests that would fit the personality of your host. It doesn’t have to be a perfect match but enough that you feel that your host can connect with the guest to provide the best content and information for your listener.
Answering phones from listeners is a job duty that can be fun and also frustrating. You try to interact with your listeners by giving them topics to call in to talk about or to interact via social media and other avenues. But you will also get angry phone calls from the listeners because of a “hot take” that the host might say or if you recently changed your station lineup, the producers get the heat from that. But the main reason why you are on the air is because of the listeners.
Another job duty that is important for a producer is to keep up with the latest news in the sports world. The producer must gather the information to relay to the host. When the host is on the air, they can’t be doing multiple things while giving their thoughts on the air and running the show.
A little side topic is that a lot of people have asked me, what was the biggest guests I have ever booked. I have been fortunate enough to book some big names in my time. I would say that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is my biggest guest that I have ever booked. I have also booked Chuck Norris, Jeff Van Gundy, Desmond Howard and many more. Other duties included editing the interviews to post on the website, making sure the host takes commercial breaks and that the proper commercials are playing.