A Day in the Life Working in Sports Radio
An executive producer plays a vital role in uniting the forces on staff; technically savvy enough to interact and understand the inner workings of show production, but knowledgeable and personable enough to work with talent and create unique programming daily.
One of the most thrilling parts of sports radio production is the creation process, beginning each day with a blank slate, waiting for your special touches and inspiration.
Pride plays a big role in creating a great product, that and fear.
“I'd say the best part of working in sports radio is signing off knowing you've put together a good show,” says Druda. “The worst part is the struggle leading up to it!
“One can’t exist without the other though. The drive to produce a good show causes you to worry about not being able to get it done. The fear of not getting it done causes you to work harder to make it happen.”
For more on what it’s like to work in sports radio as an executive producer, here’s more with the Tim Brando Show’s Dave Druda:
Alright let’s get into your current role as executive producer of the Tim Brando Show on SiriusXM radio – Brando is an icon in college sports and all forms of broadcasting… what is the most important part of working with talent?
Druda: Say yes to everything! I didn't learn this until pretty recently. It's much better to keep them happy, and figure out a way to fulfill their requests than resist and create tension.
For example, the host asks for a ridiculously high profile guest. My immediate thought may be, "How in the world? That's impossible."
But I really try not to react too quickly beyond, "OK, will do". More times than not, I can relax, think clearly and map out a way to get it done.
If it comes through, it can really feel like a victory. If not, it certainly will not be for a lack of trying. I never want to feel like I didn't put in a good effort. Of course, sometimes you can’t get the big name you're chasing. The experience of the pursuit is good for you though.
There are a million things a host can ask for beyond a guest. As an executive producer realize that it’s your responsibility to see it done, not always to do it yourself.
A high ranking executive once told me - "You're running a million dollar facility. You are responsible for everything in there. It may not be your job to flip the light switch, but you need to be sure the lights are on".
That made a lot of sense to me.
So if the host's headphones aren’t working, find someone who can fix it. If the host wants to talk more ACC football, find some guests who can contribute. If the host needs stats on last night's game, make sure he gets them.
If the host wants his coffee stronger…make sure the intern can do it!
You are an insurance policy - make the host feel comfortable so they can do the best show possible.
Tim Brando has a well-defined niche – he’s a master of college sports – do you think it’s important for someone that wants to be a host to have a niche and dig deep - or stay more broad and cover a wide range of sports?
Druda: It really depends on your outlet. There is a huge difference between local and national radio.
Know your audience and keep them entertained.
If you are coming up in local radio, get to know the current story lines in the community. Find a way to advance them. You will need to be sharp and have real details. Speaking in generalities won't get you anywhere.
That means doing the legwork is very important. Get to events, meet people, get the inside scoop first hand. Become someone that sources can trust and come to.
On a national show - you've got to be broad. The entire audience may not want to hear about the hot story all day long. Doing a lot of homework is important. You have to develop a network of writers and people on the ground that you can rely on for valid info.
We got lucky and were brought into College Sports Nation so we had the opportunity to really dive in to what our main interest is - college football and hoops!
What is a normal day like for you as an executive producer in sports radio?
Druda: No such thing as a normal day! Every day is a completely different beast.
The morning and show are a tornado - it blows through very quickly creating chaos and I do my best to make sure we make it through with as little carnage as possible. When it's over with, I immediately meet with Tim to discuss the next day.
[color-box]"The most important part of working with talent - say YES to everything" Dave Druda, Executive Producer of the Tim Brando Show Tweet This[/color-box]
Sometimes I'll already have some guests confirmed or in mind. We identify the main stories going into the day and try to guess what will be the big stories of the next show. Obviously a lot can change in 21 hours so we have to remain flexible.
- After meeting I'll get to work firing off email requests, texts and phone calls.
- After about 2 hours or so I'll usually head home and work from there the rest of the day.
- While at home I will very rarely be without my phone in hand. Being fast with emails and texts is important to me, so I have to be "plugged in" nearly 24 / 7. I confirm most guests while at home in the afternoon.
- In the evening I "have to" watch some games. Its funny really, I get to watch games and tell people I'm working hard! Ha!
Keeping an eye on developing stories and communicating with the host are important. Its very normal to get a request in the evening for a winning coach or person involved in a breaking news story. I have to be ready to jump into work at any time.
As an executive producer what is your favorite part of the job, and what is the task you dread doing the most?
Druda: The difference between a great day and rough day is very slim.
It's all about getting the host what he wants. If the guests are coming through fast its really smooth sailing. Putting together a good show and keeping everyone happy feels great. Everyone loves you and the fans react.
If the guests aren't there and the content is lacking its a nightmare. Looking at the phone every 10 seconds to see if you missed a message is very draining and stressful. But it's a great job, I wouldn't have it any other way.
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