Friday, June 27, 2008

KSWD "The Sound" radio in Los Angeles made technology news earlier this week with the unveiling of outdoor electronic billboards with digital display capabilities. This station is believed to be the first radio station to use this technology to display the title and artist of each song currently playing on the station, while the billboard itself is made to look like an MP3 player.

This is the same technology transmitted to newer radio receivers, especially in cars, which also provides the frequency and/or station identification. Even though KSWD is a music station, it brings up the question of how sports radio stations can also use this technology.

Within 24 hours, I thought of several uses, but not quite in the same way as the music stations will. For a music station, the primary purpose is to show the song currently playing. For a sports station, it is not always about what is currently on the air. It's not like they are going to flash "Steve from the west side thinks the Yankees will make the wild card" so that people will tune in.

The local pro and college teams final scores can be displayed into the next morning rush. This could be especially effective in the east and central time zones when the local teams play a late night game (such as west coast) and people commuting early wouldn't have stayed up to see the game. (Whether or not in-progress pro scores could be flashed is probably going to be a legal issue for stations which do not carry that team's play-by-play.)

But there is more. This is an opportunity for a sports station to flex its local muscles. They could transmit high school and small college scores, which are not always readily available. A solid credibility builder if you could be driving to work in the morning and see that "Sports Radio K555 - West Field 83 East Field 77" on a billboard the morning after a big high school basketball game. In large and most medium markets, fans are hard pressed to hear any high school basketbal or football scores on the radio, even on sports stations. As a result, this technology creates supplemental sports coverage not otherwise available, while promoting the image of the station. Other uses include upcoming schedules, such as "Cardinals vs. Braves tonight 7:05 PM on Sports Radio K555", "Bob & Bob preview tonights tournament game today at Noon", "Football preview tomorrow at 6:00", "Coach Smith Show taking your calls at 8:00 PM", and the list goes on.

In a way it bothers me that a music station is using this technology before a sports station is. Sports stations boast of "up to the minute scores and coverage", but for potentially hundreds of thousands of drivers in a given market, they can only read what song is playing 'right now'.

A nice scoop by Neil Best of Newsday for breaking the news that the NFL Network is about to name its new play-by-play voice to start this coming season. Even if a relative handful of homes will get NFL Network, the choice of Bob Papa, voice of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, is a solid one. Since NFL Network games never conflict with other games, Papa will not miss any of his Giants games. Papa replaces Bryant Gumbel, and is a welcome addition.

Now that the Big Ten TV Network has its deal with Comcast to provide significant coverage in most of the Big Ten states (although fans residing in Iowa disagree, while less than half of Ohio is still without), it will be interesting to see what the BTN announces next. The football schedule is expected by mid-July, with each of the 11 teams required to be shown in at least one non-conference and one Big Ten Conference matchup during the season. The BTN is reportedly looking into adding more hockey telecasts, but this is compounded by the fact that 6 of the schools do not have hockey among their sports offerings. The BTN carried the Big Ten Baseball tournament and the NCAA Regional Softball tournament (from the U. of Michigan) this past spring.

I think the BTN should be aggressive, especially after the millions of dollars they reportedly sought from cable operators which will in turn cost consumers more whether they want BTN or not. There should be cameras everywhere. Tennis, golf, lacrosse, swimming, gymnastics, and any other Big Ten competition. Several of the Big Ten schools have radio/TV programs and production courses and stations. Let the top students produce telecasts and have them shown on BTN. Make BTN a true showcase for the entire schools and all student-athletes, and less a money grabber for showing a few football and basketball games not selected by ESPN or one of the TV networks.

With the SEC possibly starting its own network, the decisions made by Comcast after one year of BTN on expanded basic (with their future ability to move BTN to a higher cost tier) will be closely watched. OK, I'm a sports fan, but I understand that those who are not are bitter about being forced to spend several dollars per month more to support sports telecasts they don't want.

Our best wishes to Pat Summerall on a speedy recovery. The 78 year old Summerall was hospitalized late last week and underwent emergency surgery to stop internal bleeding. Summerall has worked in 2008, having called the New Year's Day Cotton Bowl game from Dallas, which is near is current home. While I have said over the years that I find Summerall to be the most overrated and boring play-by-play voice ever on a network, I respect his accomplishments and hope for the best for him.

If Major League Baseball revealed its starting lineup for the upcoming All-Star Game at Yankees Stadium, and it was on TBS during its Sunday July 6th national telecast, would anyone hear it? We will find out, eventually.

NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY: WOR 710 will again carry Rutgers University basketball and football next season. Starting this year, Chris Carlin will handle men's basketball play-by-play in addition to football which he has handled for the past 4 years. Carlin also continues as morning sports anchor, while hosting New York Giants pre and post-game shows on WFAN, and co-hosting the SNY Loud Mouths show.

LOS ANGELES - A 50-year broadcaster was honored by the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium this past Tuesday (June 24) night. Yet this time it wasn't Vin Scully. Jamie Jarrin, who came to the U.S. from Ecuador in 1955, was saluted in a special tribute for his many years of handling the Spanish broadcasts of Dodgers baseball.

CHICAGO - While it is the end of an era with WSCR The Score not renewing 16 year host Mike North's contract this week, the speculation begins about what happens to both WSCR 670's morning show, and to North. Since North had often veered away from sports during the morning show, the rumored replacements from either midday or afternoon drive truly are all sports. If either team is named to replace North, either the team would have to adjust to not being 100% sports, or the station would have to become 100% sports. Given that Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio have beaten WSCR in some key demographics in the morning in Chicago in recent years, I'm thinking that WSCR sticks with sports. Mike North was quoted as saying he will be back on the air, but it likely won't be on WMVP (ESPN Chicago) which won't be moving Mike & Mike any time soon. But I can't see North bringing a sports audience to a non-sports station, and I don't see a Chicago sports station hiring North.

SAN ANTONIO - KGNB-AM is set to eliminate the sports talk but stick with the play-by-play. But in a market which hosts only 1 "big 4" pro sports team (the NBA Spurs) eliminating Sporting News Radio probably won't make a difference. The station will instead air country music, but will continue with a schedule of sports and news updates. The station will continue to air Astros baseball and Texans football, and will reportedly continue to air at least 3 of the local high school football broadcasts.

NEW ORLEANS - WODT 1280 has, as of Wednesday (June 25) morning, eliminated its syndicated sports programming as well. The station dropped its mix of ESPN and Fox Sports programming, and it is too early to tell if or who will pick them up in the New Orleans market. WODT had been doing sports since 2003, save for a few weeks following Hurricane Katrina. The station has switched to a gospel format, which may or may not stick since a sister station at 940 AM is presently gospel. 940 AM is not, however, expected to switch to sports.

VIRGINIA - The University of Virginia football and basketball broadcasts will have a new play-by-play voice starting in a few weeks. Dave Koehn was named last week to take over. The 32 year old Koehn comes over from his Vermont basetball and baseball duties to the ACC school. Our congrats to Dave!DES MOINES - KXNO 1460 has the return of afternoon Marty & Miller show on Thursday (June 26) afternoon following the suspension of co-host Marty Tirrell. The market veteran issued an on-air apology on Tuesday about deragatory comments about his visit to the U.S. Open. Tirrell is a sports talk pioneer in the Des Moines market, helping to bring the format local in the mid-90's.

DES MOINES - KXNO 1460 has the return of afternoon Marty & Miller show on Thursday (June 26) afternoon following the suspension of co-host Marty Tirrell. The market veteran issued an on-air apology on Tuesday about deragatory comments about his visit to the U.S. Open. Tirrell is a sports talk pioneer in the Des Moines market, helping to bring the format local in the mid-90's.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sports Media Report - June 20th Update.........

We are already on the edge of television sports rights packages including a lot more than just game telecasts. TNT's and ESPN's new deals with the NBA includes millions for online and other rights to games. NASCAR and golf's recent U.S. Open allow(ed) fans to go online and watch from a choice of individual participants in addition to or instead of the conventional live telecasts. Steve Bornstein, the NFL Executive Vice President of Media, recently stated that the NFL is exploring more ways to make their games available on a mobile service, perhaps in time for the upcoming season.

Satellite radio subscribers are able to hear every broadcast from the 4 major pro sports leagues, as well as auto racing, college football and basketball, and other major sports events. The pending merger between XM and Sirius will eventually bring sports fans everything under one roof.

Yet it continues to amaze me that over-the-air radio stations have been sitting still watching other media, and eventually advertising dollars, pass by. As I have said for the past 2 years, radio already has the answer, and it is HD Radio. Stations airing local team play-by-play should use an HD channel to replay their broadcasts. Those working unconventional hours would be able to hear "today's game" entirely at a more convenient time. Fans could hear the entire big inning or scoring drive as it unfolded hours later. But there could still be a lot more.

Spanish broadcasts continue to increase. For example, in Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers will be heard in Spanish on WNOW-AM, starting this fall .

Out of market sports broadcasts are important reasons for many to pay for satellite radio. The various pro and college out of market TV packages, such as the NFL Direct Ticket, continue to show increased sales. Now that HD Radio allows for narrowcasting like never before, the time has come for all sports stations and stations which carry local play-by-play to be able to carry related out of market games.

For example, a Tampa Rays fan is interested in how the Red Sox and Yankees games are going. Colorado Rockies fans want to know how the Arizona D-backs are doing. And so on. In football, Cowboys fans want to track the Giants games. On it goes.

Two weeks ago I read where Clear Channel reportedly spent over $760,000 to fight the XM / Sirius merger. Why not use that money toward HD rights to pro and major college sports for its stations HD channels? It boils down to, whether sports, news, or music programming, if over-the-air radio stations would have continued to deliver top quality programming and innovation, consumers wouldn't have to go elsewhere to get what they want. Radio doesn't have to wait for technology to be enhanced, invented, or perfected. It has brought the immediacy of live events to us for years. Long before satellite and mobile streaming and the internet. The advertisers will follow the listeners - when there is something worth listening to.

If you don't think that multimedia live sports is enough of a threat, consider this week's announcement about the University of Nebraska sports. The University just approved a 13-year "multimedia rights partnership" with IMG College reportedly guaranteed for at least $109 million, including sponsorship rights with the likes of Gatorade and Adidas. This deal includes coaches radio and TV shows, program and publishing printing rights, and game broadcast radio networks for football and basketball. A portion of this deal (and we're still talking millions) includes electronic signage at the school's sports venues. But it is the "multimedia" portion, including that which is quietly under development, that has added to the financial impact. How much, or should I say how little, of the next 13 years will be driven by over-the-air radio remains to be seen.

PHOENIX: XTRA Sports 910 has become the new flagship station for the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes starting this coming season. Bob Heethuis and Louis DeBrusk will continue as the broadcast team. This deal ends a 12 season relationship with KDUS-AM, which had aired the games for the entire history of the team in Phoenix.

DENVER: KCKK 1510 adds market veteran Gil Whiteley to its weekday lineup starting at Noon as of this week.ATLANTA - 1340 WALR takes on Fox Sports Radio starting on Monday (June 23), including Steve Czaban from 6 - 9 AM, Jim Rome Noon - 3, and Chris Myers and Sean Farnham from 3 to 7 PM.

OKLAHOMA CITY - While the city gets ready for the likely addition of an NBA team (if the Seattle Supersonics move happens within the next 90 days), the "Sports Animal Radio Network" will be moving from 97.9 FM to 98.1 as of July 9th. This move is expected to more than triple the coverage area, and include the Sillwater and Shawnee areas. The Animal will also continue on WWLS 640 AM.

MEDFORD Oregon: After a 2 season abscence, Portland Trailblazers NBA broadcasts return to southern Oregon as KEZX 730 AM announced plans to air "at least" 75 of the 82 regular season games. The Fox Sports affiliate is also planning on carrying NFL football, with an announcement about which team expected by July 4th. The station is reportedly considering carrying the Seattle Seahawks, the Oakland Raiders, or the San Francisco 49ers games. If it were up to me, I would check the local TV schedule, and choose the broadcasts of whichever team is shown locally the least. If the fans can watch most of the games on TV when it is not a local team, it would reduce the potential radio audience.

MEANWHILE - How sad to lose not one but two sportscasting giants within a few days of each other. Jim McKay and Charlie Jones will both be missed. Even with all of the well deserved respect shown to McKay, I continue to wonder what might have been if McKay had been given more top assignments than the Olympics and a few special events. McKay shined as he did despite the limitations of hosting moose fishing, tiddly winks, or whatever it was on ABC Wide World of Sports. (Face it, the agony wasn't "defeat". It was the events McKay had to host.) This while the network innovated Monday Night Football, had MLB playoffs and World Series years, and exclusivity on major college football, during the 70's. Makes it more special for McKay to be remembered as he has by sports reporters and broadcasters everywhere.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sports Media Report - June 13 Update

What ever happened to the days of the media being an impartial observer?On Wednesday night, Texas Rangers outfielder Milton Bradley had to be physically escorted back to the team clubhouse while on his way to a possible confrontation in the Kansas City Royals broadcast booth. While in the clubhouse during the game, Bradley heard Royals TV announcer Ryan Lefebvre (the son of former big league player and manager Jim Lefebvre) commenting about his recent struggles in what Bradley found less than positive. Later, Rangers officials said they would not take any disciplinary action against Bradley. Yet, Bradley got to have his say to other media members, while local and national stories explained what Lefebvre had said. So does this mean it is acceptable for a pro player to berate a broadcaster and get away with it?

On Wednesday afternoon, Chicago sports station WSCR "The Score" 670 was airing what it termed "live coverage" of the press conference introducing Vinny Del Negro as the new coach of the Chicago Bulls. During the press conference, WSCH hosts Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein were making comments and played a couple of sound effects to indicate their displeasure at this hiring. Normally, I wouldn't have a problem with this happening. Some listeners saw some humor and entertainment value, while others were offended. That's part of the beauty of sports talk. Where I do have the problem is that this CBS Radio station told the listeners they were about to listen to "live coverage" of this announcement and press conference. That falls under the category of news coverage. Had the hosts waited until after the press conference was over or cut away from it before commenting, THEN it would be news coverage. Just as political analysts wait until after the speech to comment on what was said, the same formula should apply in this instance. Either tell the listeners you will have running commentary during the press conference, or do as you say and carry it uninterrupted as live "news" coverage.

Yes, the same day brought an athlete gaining unwarranted media attention and broadcasters discrediting live news coverage.

Meanwhile, as Notre Dame football approaches still another season of national TV for every home game and a national radio package (starting this season with ISP Radio replacing Westwood One), as of this writing there is no station in South Bend to carry the local broadcast. WNDV-FM 92.9 and WDND 1490 AM, which had been handling the local broadcasts since 1998, has ended its affiliation with Notre Dame. Both stations were Westwood One affiliates and have also undergone recent format changes. As of now, the closest ISP Sports affiliates are in Michigan City IN and Warsaw IN, neither of which has a strong signal into South Bend. Notre Dame opens again San Diego State on September 6.

Speaking of college football broadcasts the University of Central Florida faces problems having their football games aired in the Orlando market. WQTM 740 previously aired the games, but changed to Spanish after last season. Sports radio WHOO already carries Florida State football and does not have a strong signal around the UCF campus. WFLF 540 already carries the Florida Gators and the Orlando Predators broadcasts in the fall. WORL, a news-talk station, is actually based in Altamonte Springs and would also have signal strength issues. The Spanish station would not have any sports conflicts and offers the strongest signal. That would seem the way to go, rather than a split package which confuses the casual fan.

The University of Virginia has its radio network in place once again for the coming season, but still hasn't named a play-by-play voice. They open against USC the last Saturday in August. Officials were quoted as saying they started with a list of 100 candidates.The University of Washington has its radio package in place, but faces competition from television as the Pac-10 Conference announced that at least 7 of the Huskies games will be televised live for the coming season. This includes the Oklahoma game on ESPN Sept. 13, the Oct. 18 game against Oregon State on Versus, and the Oct. 25 game against Notre Dame on an ESPN Network.

CHICAGO - It has been 12 years since WGN Radio lost the Chicago Bears broadcasts. Yet the station continued its tradition of providing extensive pre and post-game programming for all Bears games over the years. Until now. Bears legend Dan Hampton has been let go by the station after years of analysis before and after every game. There are a number of reasons for the move. It appears that the Bears radio rights are secure with CBS owned WBBM Radio, while sister station WSCR also provides extensive Bears game day coverage. WGN Radio may have decided not to enter the always high bidding stakes for the next Bears contract, feeling strong without a potential loss leader. In addition, the success of the Cubs this season leads to the possibility of post-season baseball in October on WGN, and would likely conflict with Bears "coverage" for additional weeks into October, after what would be strong baseball ratings further into September than usual.

NEW YORK - CBS College Sports will be included as part of Cablevision's Sports Pak beginning later this month. Interesting that quiet negotiations were completed, while the Big Ten Network is still without cable deals in important midwest markets including Chicago.

LOS ANGELES - KLAC 570 will carry San Diego Chargers football broadcasts for the coming season, including all pre-season games. The press release issued added that Chargers "post-season games are also included", as if that is a given.Speaking of "ooops", Channel 13 TV Los Angeles mistakenly cut away from its Angels vs. Oakland A's telecast last Sunday (June 8) before the extra inning game was over. They failed to show the 12th inning A's game winning grand slam because of a movie starting at 5:00 PM. The station blamed this on a communications error on the telecast feed. Oh, the movie was not "Heidi". It was "Smilla's Sense of Snow".

SACRAMENTO - KHTK 1140 has lucked into a unique feature for its 9 PM to Midnight show on occasion. Host "Carmichael Dave" (from the suburb named Carmichael" is a 'super-fan' who now hosts a call-in show. But that isn't the unique feature. What began as a guest shot by the Kings' Ron Artest is now turning into a regular gig for the star forward. Artest has already made 7 appearances on the show since the Kings' season ended. Artest had tried to get on either TNT or ESPN's playoff coverage but was unable to do so. He was able to interview Kobe Bryant for a Fox-TV show recently. His appearances on local radio are being well received, and Artest has demonstrated a keen sense of humor on the air. That's something not often found among athletes turned broadcasters.

SEATTLE - Still no word about the future of the Mariners flagship station after this season, and the team's poor start could delay a decision. KOMO continues to build its news/talk format, but may not wish to keep the Mariners as a loss leader. The station was 19th in the market's ratings in early 2003 when it began broadcasting the Mariners games, and began this baseball season ranked 6th overall.

HOUSTON - Similar situation with the Astros radio rights as the team and Clear Channel continue into their exclusive 90-day negotiation period to extend the current contract. If no agreement is reached, the Astros broadcasts would be up for bidding on a new contract to begin next spring. Unlike the Mariners in Seattle, the Astros have shown signs of contending in the 2nd half of the season.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Still another instance where the financial pages impact the sports fans who have no control. The Associated Press reported that Clear Channel has spent over $760,000 lobbying against the merger of XM and Sirius Satellite. XM's deal with Major League Baseball could end up at risk as XM reportedly is now seeking the next $120 million to put in escrow toward that contract.

Meanwhile, ESPN Radio launches the ESPN HD Radio Network this coming weekend (June 7/8), including offering "custom" sports content to radio stations which have HD broadcasts. While initial play-by-play content for this month includes only the UEFA Euro Cup soccer tournament, stations will be able to to offer scoreboards and other options.

Put those stories together, and it shows that the terrestial broadcast community is doing what it can to hurt satellite radio and wipe out the "competition". Right now, XM offers its subscribers every MLB broadcast, while Sirius has all NFL, NBA, and NHL broadcasts. Each offers various college and other sports such as NASCAR and Indy Racing. The 'over-the-air' broadcast community sees this as taking away sports listeners, especially if the merger enables more than 17 million subscribers to eventually have access to all of the big 4 pro sports league broadcasts.It appears to me that ESPN's move toward HD is to set the stage for the play-by-play of all pro and most college sports toward HD, instead of satellite. I have said for the past couple of years that HD Radio should go heavy into sports and live events and live news programming. HD obviously isn't cutting it with their "Album Tracks from 1978" channels, or whatever music that they used to play but no longer do in favor of repeating the same 500 songs all month.

For the sports fans, it looks like we will have these choices to hear any and every pro and major college game live as it happens anywhere in the country. That is a good thing. But I wish that instead of spending millions of dollars to fight "the competition", the radio owners would start spending that on quality programming and expanding their reach. If the radio owners had continued to offer a solid enough product, nobody would care about satellite radio in the first place.

Sports broadcasting requires a lot of skills and ability. Now it seems to be acting as a qualification for broadcasters, and athletes and coaches turned broadcasters, to speak at college and university commencements. Within the past month, we have had:

Joe Buck, Saint Louis University (May 17);
Joe Garagiola Sr., St. Leo University (May 3);
Tommy Lasorda, Argosy University/Southern California (May 16);
Dan Marino, University of Pittsburgh (April 27);
Cal Ripken Jr, (now of TBS) University of Delaware (May 31);
Vin Scully, Pepperdine University (April 26);
ABC/ESPN broadcaster Robin Roberts, Miami University (May 10);
Dick Vermeil, (NFL coach then CBS-TV) University of New Haven (May 24);

Is HBO's loss Showtime's gain? "Inside the NFL" after 31 seasons on HBO during and surrounding each NFL season, has been picked up by rival Showtime and will debut there Wednesday Sept. 10 at 9 PM ET/PT. The show is already expected to benefit by Showtime being a sister company to CBS and the CBS access to live NFL telecasts and video.

At first, I thought this would prove a waste of money for Showtime. When "Inside" started on HBO in the 70's, there was no ESPN or NFL Network and the show was unique by being able to show extended highlights and present analysis about each game. Recently, like "This Week In Baseball", it seemed passed over by all of the daily complete highlights and analysis available to cable viewers. Upon further review, I realize that if Showtime utilizes the CBS-TV resources, they could produce a show that would rival any on ESPN or Fox Sports, with the benefit of no commercials and extended highlights. The talent may or may not come from CBS Sports, with an announcement not expected until July.

How about CBS Sports and adding a site devoted to fantasy sports? In-depth coverage to the point of including fantasy golf and auto racing information? Interesting that the announcement came a day after the Supreme Court refused to take a case in which Major League Baseball had argued that fantasy baseball providers should not be able to use the names or stats of MLB players without licensing agreements.

HOUSTON - KNTH 1070 announced it will carry the WNBA Houston Comets this season, including brief pre and post-game shows, except for 2 weekday games, even issuing a press release about it. Wait until they see the size of the audience for those games going up against a roster of sports talk shows on other Houston stations and some conflicts with Astros games elsewhere. So this is what AM Radio brings to sports fans while satellite offers every "major" pro sports broadcast every day?

Longtime Astros broadcaster Milo Hamilton will be presented with a University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award at a special luncheon this Saturday (June 7). This Award for Achievement is given for significant accomplishments in business or professional life, and in this instance, celebrates Milo's 50+ years broadcasting Major League Baseball.

DALLAS: Best wishes to Tom Grieve, now a Texas Rangers TV analyst, who begins a medical leave on Sunday to undergo prostate cancer surgery. Former pitcher Steve Busby will leave his FSN Southwest studio role to fill in, handling the Rangers' radio with Eric Nadel, with Victor Rojas replacing Grieve on television with Josh Lewin.

MILWAUKEE: With the Brewers in contention this season, and with WAUK 540-AM doing its own Brewers post-game coverage (without having the broadcasts) longtime flagship WTMJ 620 has begun "Extra Innings", its own one hour post-game show to follow the night game broadcasts and the existing 30 minute post-game programming. WTMJ's Dan O'Donnell will host, along with occasional rotating co-hosts including FSN Wisconsin's Davey Nelson and Craig Coshun. This is the first season of WTMJ's newest contract with the Brewers.

SAN DIEGO: Nielsen Media Research reports that Padres telecast ratings for the first 50 telecasts are almost 30% below last season's ratings. Even though last year's ratings were the highest overall since 1999, the Pardres' disappointing start seems to be impacting more than just the standings.

Much maligned Lee Hamilton will not return as San Diego State's football color analyst, as his contract was not renewed. Ted Leitner will remain on the game broadcasts on KOGO, which start again on August 30th. The "Hacksaw" was also kept off the recent local NFL draft coverage, supposedly based on his previous criticism of the Chargers.

MINNEAPOLIS: The Timerwolves are coming off a disaster of a season, but will have their game broadcasts for next season back on KFAN, returning for a new 3-year deal. KFAN was the voice of the Wolves for the team's first 17 seasons and picks up again after a 2 year abscence. No confirmation on a play-by-play voice yet, but analyst Billy McKinney will continue in that role, as he has been signed for the 3 years of this new agreement.

For Real Estate Agents & Mortgage Lenders - June 2008

Lenders and realty agents are both faced with the same challenge, which right now is survival for many individuals and offices. Even those who have been savvy enough to continue to budget a portion of income toward advertising and marketing (instead of waiting until it's too late to spend) are running into obstacles while riding the storm out.

You have to have a plan of attack. I personally communicate with at least 300 potential clients by phone or e-mail every week whether the market is good, bad, or indifferent. I have products and services to market just as you do. Yet I hear the "business is bad so I'm not going spend anything right now" line at least once a day.

But the question remains, what are you doing to generate new or additional business, whether you are spending or not? Just as important, who out there is watching out for you?

For example, the mortgage broker I use knew my "magic number" even though I had not spoken with him for more than a year. During first quarter of this year when there was a 2 week "teaser" period where mortgage rates dropped enough to notice, I got an e-mail from him about my "magic number". The end result is that my wife and I refinanced our mortgage and the lowest rate we have seen available (including since we locked in), and saved just over $200 per month on our mortgage. The closing for this refinance was arranged at a title company closer to home than his office. Not only do I have the savings to show for this, but I only missed one hour of valuable work day "sales time" to get the papers signed. And my mortgage lender didn't even show at the closing. While I haven't seen him in person in somewhere around 2 years, he got the job done.

How many "magic numbers" do you have on file from your past and potential customers? That doesn't cost you any advertising dollars, but I'm here to tell you can make a difference.

Real estate agents should be checking with their clients to find their "magic number" just like lenders should. Why? Let's say you call John Q. Public and he says he would refinance once he could save $200 per month. With today's buyer's market, and your knowledge of your client's property, you might be able to find him a nearby property with the amenities he is seeking that would automatically lead to a lower mortgage. If you can get a buyer for their current property, you wind up with 2 commissions. And the mortgage broker(s) you work with are brought more business due to your efforts, and should reciprocate in order to keep your business.

Mortgage lenders should likewise know the "magic number" of their current and potential clients. If they are having difficulty affording their present mortgage and rates don't justify a refinance, perhaps a move to a more affordable property is the ticket. What a perfect "lead" for the realty agent(s) you work with.Direct communication is such a key. Knowing what information you can get and who you need to give it to. I can show you how to get past the conventional "send this to everybody out there" thinking that has some mortgage brokers and realty agents closing their doors this week.

Your best information might only go to a handful of people, maybe even to one or two people. The more specialized you target, the more of a quality lead or tip you deliver. People notice when they are the only or primary target. Think of it as if you have a hot stock or a hot investment tip and you are only going to share it with the one person who could best take advantage. In a sense, you are. Use your personal pipeline to your advantage.

For example, a colleague representing an export company asked me if I knew someone who operates a plumbing or commercial contractor business. My colleague's source could save a business thousands of dollars by purchasing water sprinkler pipe from a very reputable overseas source. Well, some mornings operating my shower at home can be a struggle. But a residential lender client of mine has a colleague who does commerical and business loans. Within 3 days, a connection was made. I only told one person, but now I have at least 2 more people that will refer business to me at some point.

And that business owner who gained from this just e-mailed me this morning about being able to save Fire Sprinkler Dealers at least 50% on steel and galvanized pipe by purchasing from his new source in China. I wouldn't know galvanized pipe if it was in the room, but I'll certainly mention it to a few people. (If you know of someone, please e-mail me, even if you are not a client. I'll get the referral ball rolling your way, and at no cost.)

These are a couple of the "lead sources" I get on a regular basis from my personal contacts, because I can generate business and revenue for all concerned" line. I have actually started conversations at networking functions asking "so how can I get you more business". It is sort of a business twist of John Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you........" quote. And it works.

This is methodology for a down market, and how I can benefit my clients who don't have more to spend on outside advertising. If I can help them increase their revenue, I'll benefit right along with them because they will be able to spend to increase their business and revenue.

To me, it is only a "down" market when my idea and "feed" lists are too low. How can I get YOU more business?