Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Enough's Enough

I'm sure it will be little noted nor long remembered, but I'm hereby drawing my line in the sand.

We will no longer book interview guests who have something to sell (with one important exception, which I'll address in a moment).

My new policy starts immediately; we'll take a pass on an offer to bring golf guru Hank Haney on with John Madden. I'm sure Haney would be a great interview, what with the President's Cup getting underway. And I'm sure we'd have some fun letting John ask Haney for swing advice (after all, this is the swing doctor who tried to fix Charles Barkley's hack).

So where's the downside? Here it is: the pitch from the marketing people says the following: "Hank is appearing on behalf of Charles Schwab, and would also like to talk about a few quick money saving tips for retirement".

With all due respect, if we wanted to talk to a retirement expert, we wouldn't call Hank Haney.

This pitch is part of a burgeoning trend. If you don't believe me, just listen to sports-talk radio or watch the sports TV shows around Super Bowl or World Series time. You'll see and hear a parade of big names chatting about sports, but also slipping in a pitch for whoever's paying them. Car companies, insurance companies, financial planners, you name it.

We've played this game here at KCBS. And we've always felt a little uncomfortable about it. It probably reached its low point one morning when former Raider great Kenny Stabler joined us on the Madden segment, and then proceeded to deliver some of the clumsiest pitches for whatever it was he was selling (I honestly can't remember). It got so bad that John Madden began poking fun at Stabler's shilling.

We may reach the point where we can't book a sports celebrity interview, because everybody's selling something. So be it.

Now, I mentioned earlier that I'm willing to consider an exception to my new rule. Here it is: if the guest is selling himself, I'm OK with that. In other words: if you're talking about your new book or TV show or charity event, you're welcome here. In that case, we're talking about you and your work, as opposed to letting you deliver a commercial message for somebody else.

Bottom line: if you want to sell something, talk to our sales department. They're fine people, and they'll happily take your money in exchange for access to our fine listeners (that's how our business works).

1 comment:

beeso said...

In Australia, we now have sports commentators cross promoting the networks other shows during the game. So instead of hearing the expert opinions of the guys the network are paying to be experts, in slow spots we get to hear clumsy, unbelievable cross promotion.