Sports Media Personality Glenn Ordway’s Multi-Platform Venture Is Off and Running
By Jason Wolfe
Chief Content Officer
BOSTON — I’ve worked in sports radio my entire broadcast career. When I graduated from Syracuse in 1989, I was privileged to land a job in my hometown of Boston right out of college. Talk about young and green. I didn’t have any idea what radio was all about at that time. I just knew I loved it. Twenty-four years later, it’s amazing how much the medium, and the industry, have changed.
In the old days, hosts flipped on the microphone, yapped about their teams, took calls from passionate fans whose very lives seemingly depended on the outcome of the games, and threw in numerous guests to provide more insight into the topic at hand. It was a pretty simple formula. Information ruled the day and that’s what we did, discuss the information.
Nowadays, to be successful in sports talk radio, and most formats, it’s about much more than providing information. Listeners already have the information you want to discuss, even before you get to the station. You need opinions, humor, edge, attitude, and most of all personality. Fans will listen to hosts they love, and those they hate, because of the personality that exists in both. Personality breeds engagement. Engagement breeds loyalty. Loyalty breeds ratings and ratings breed revenue. That is the formula hosts and shows need to embrace today if they want to win.
In my 22 years at WEEI, I had the great pleasure of working with some of the best talent in the country, none better than Glenn Ordway. Glenn has been a fixture in the Boston sports scene for three decades and I can tell you without hesitation, you will not find a more passionate, dedicated, knowledgeable, bigger than life personality, in any market where sports is king. He knows his audience better than anyone, what they want, and how to deliver it to them on a daily basis. We enjoyed unprecedented success together, and were a part of building one of the greatest radio brands to ever exist in any format in any city, but our time there has ended, and over the last several months, there’s been plenty of time to reflect on the past, but more importantly to prepare for the future. Glenn is more than a great on-air talent. He’s a student of broadcast radio and a very smart businessman.
All of us who have spent considerable time in radio knew that streaming, podcasting, internet only options, satellite radio, and mobile apps would ultimately change the way that listeners consumed our content. With technology changing so rapidly, broadcasters need to adjust their strategies on how to attract and deliver a mass audience, while maintaining a loyal one. Digital, as it is often referred to in industry circles, is no longer the wave of the future. It’s present and accounted for, every minute of every broadcast day. Succeeding in the digital space must be a major part of every broadcaster’s overall strategy, if it wants to survive in this new world where most of us can run our lives from the comfort of a cell phone.
The statistics of those consuming audio content through websites and mobile apps is off the charts. Larry Rosin’s incredibly impressive Infinite Dial 2014, tells us that nearly half the country listens to online radio every month, a 30% increase from 2003. Those same people are spending over 13 hours a week listening online, more than double the amount of time they spent only five years ago. The transformation of the radio audience from terrestrial to digital has already occurred, and that’s why when I learned of the multi-platform idea that Glenn has been working on for the past year, I saw the potential immediately.
His idea was not to reinvent himself or his old show. He doesn’t need to do that. His idea is to build a channel of content that will be new, fresh, innovative and exciting, utilizing some old friends and many fresh faces, all who will help create an extremely viable alternative for sports radio fans in Boston. Our goal is to expand the channel with another show, within the next three to six months. Eventually, we intend to have multiple shows across all dayparts, and all geared to Boston sports.
Glenn’s brand is still huge. Listeners, and just as importantly advertisers, still have a strong desire to be associated with him. His audience never left him. It followed him.
His new “Big Show Unfiltered” can be heard Monday through Friday from 3p to 6p. It started as an internet only option which fans could access via his website sportstalkboston.com or through the TuneIn mobile app (search for Big Show Unfiltered). Nearly 40,000 listeners, mostly from Boston and New England, streamed Glenn’s show in the first week. Those listeners, on average, spent over 15 minutes with the show with each listening occasion. On the first day, the show was the #1 trending show on the entire TuneIn app, a remarkable accomplishment for someone who was off the grid for so long and who launched this project with no promotion other than social media and two articles in the Boston papers. This week, the show launched on SiriusXM, channels 108 or 206 depending on your system. Over one million people in New England subscribe to SiriusXM and that offers another tremendous opportunity to build engagement and loyalty with our audience. The next step is to add terrestrial radio to the mix, and when I start with the company on April 10, that’ll be one of my top priorities, along with searching for the next crop of talented hosts. I know the interest will be there because radio stations want great content that can help them drive revenue, and we will put every ounce of energy into producing that kind of content every single day. But we are also running a business, so we’ve built a model that supports our listeners, our advertisers, and our distribution platforms.
Our program clock isn’t traditional, because the research tells us that one of the main reasons people enjoy listening online is due to the infrequent interruptions for commercials. People know they can enjoy more content, during internet only or satellite programs, however, anticipating that we will eventually wind up on terrestrial stations, and knowing that those stations need to make money with the show(s), we will run a unique program clock with limited breaks and limited commercials in each break. For those who are listening online or on satellite, we will cover one of the breaks with content so that the regular consumers of online programming can continue to enjoy the type of product they’re used to hearing.
This format will allow us to generate engagement and earn loyalty from the audience because there’ll be more of Glenn and less clutter, but we still have to satisfy our partners, so we will embed their messages into the fabric of our content. I’m not talking about a simple live read or feature sponsorship, though that will certainly happen, but rather organic, un-provoked chatter, which describes the business or product we’re promoting, within the discussion of a topic. That’s how we’ll deliver a strong ROI for our partners.
“Great moments are born from great opportunity. That’s what you have here tonight boys.” A great line from Kurt Russell’s famous speech in the movie “Miracle.” I love movies and lots of lines stick with me as this one has. The reason they do is because I tend to find deeper meaning in them, and can apply them to my business on a daily basis. I believe, as Glenn does, that we have a great opportunity here. We have an incredibly talented, well branded personality who understands how radio listening has changed and is ready to take advantage of it. We have a city that has enjoyed more recent success on the field, the court and the ice, than any city could ever have dreamed of, and we have an audience that is as passionate, educated and informed, as any sports audience anywhere in America. It’s the perfect recipe for success. There’s a lot of work to do and a long road ahead. The excitement is just beginning.
If you have questions, want more information, or are interested in being a part of our project, please email me at Jason@sportstalkboston.com or you can call me at 617-835-2528.
Jason Wolfe is chief content officer at SportsTalkBoston.com.