10 Questions with ... Brian Long
November 29, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I have worked in Kansas City, Palm Springs, Bakersfield, Los Angeles and Seattle, primarily in sports & talk formats. I have been a board operator, a producer, sports talk talent, the play-by-play guy and a Program Director.
1. How did you get your start in radio? Why radio?
Which start? It feels like I have had many: the first a second job working overnights in Kansas City as a board operator, or the 3-person radio station I worked for in western Kansas while living in the conference room, or the interview in Palm Springs, with me in a suit and my interviewer in cut off jean shorts and combat boots (which led to a job). I've been a life-long listener and fan of sports radio.
2. Contrast your previous stops, like Los Angeles and Palm Springs, with Seattle as sports towns -- how is Seattle different? What drives the talk on your station -- is Seattle a year-round football town, or do other sports get their share?
From a content standpoint, Palm Springs was a little like the wild wild west. We really experimented with a lot of approaches. Our presentation was generally centered around LA and San Diego sports. The LA sports scene is so vast and diverse that very often national stories become local stories. The presentation has an element of Hollywood infused in it which is unique. Seattle sports talk has a more Seattle-centric fan base. The sports fans are incredibly invested in their local teams and knowledgeable about almost every move. The Seahawks, like most NFL cities, remain a topic all year long.
3. 710 has a long-established local competitor (now with an FM simulcast in the southern part of the market). What role, if any, does that competition play in how you program your station -- is there conscious counterprogramming, and how critical is having play-by-play to how you program the station?
I really donâ€™t focus on any specific competitor. The Seattle marketplace is crowded with many formats fighting for the male audience so we try to focus on our content. P-B-P is a big deal in PPM and fortunately we have great partners with the Seahawks and the Mariners and they are a major part of what we are building.
4. You're local/live most of the day, but you do have the ESPN affiliation as well -- how does the ESPN brand and programming work for you? Does having the national brand association help in competing, and what does the network affiliation bring you that provides an advantage?
We certainly hope so, as we included it in our name. We have a great association with ESPN and I believe it sets us apart and gives us a great identity in the Seattle marketplace. Having worked for ESPN in LA one of the selling points to this particular job was its strong relationship with the Network. That, and I wouldn't have to throw away all my free 710 ESPN shirts (LA), since I was moving to 710 ESPN (Seattle).
5. How do you use social media and the web in conjunction with the on-air product? How are they deployed -- do hosts do their own Twitter and Facebook postings, or do you have producers or staff dedicated to that?
Both. We are active in all the relevant social media offerings, Facebook, Twitter etc. We have a smart Digital Director who along with some very smart hosts and producers have gone out of their way to use every avenue to deliver our content and message.
6. Who have been your mentors and inspirations in your career?
Thinking back to Palm Springs, Lou Penrose, who was my first PD: He gave me a shot on-air and helped me learn the business of radio. Rich Gillgallon took me under his wing in Palm Springs and helped me develop when I was really green. A bunch of great people at ESPN helped me develop and grow: Colin Cowherd was great about using me on his show, which expanded my profile outside of my evening daypart. ESPN Director Scott Masteller really challenged me as a leader and programmer. Rick Scott, a national sports radio consultant, thought enough of me to recommend me for this position in Seattle. I would be remiss to not to include all my present and former colleagues who I have learned so much from by watching and listening to their work.
7. You were on the air in L.A., but you're not presently hosting at 710. How important in managing talent is it to have that experience hosting a show, or producing a show hands-on? What insight do you think comes from having that on-air experience?
It's plausible to think that some hosts might be able to relate easier with a manager who has sat in their chair. I do feel that my philosophy would be different at some level had I never cracked a mic. However, I believe it's primarily about building trust and relationships with talent and communicating a clear vision.
8. Of what are you most proud?
Besides my wife and son, I am proud of the great relationships I've made as a result of this profession.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without....
In Seattle? Coffee... and a waterproof jacket.
10. What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
â€œIt's not the mistake, it's the recovery."