Why Bob and Dan (BaD Radio) Will Be Back on The Ticket Today After All

Late Friday afternoon, Richie Whitt—former Star-Telegram sportswriter/host on The Fan (105.3)—hinted on his blog that big news was breaking in local sports talk radio. Saturday morning, he posted more details: that Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell, whose midday show on ratings powerhouse KTCK-AM 1310 is known as BaD Radio, were in the last hours of a contractual showdown that could see the show move to Whitt’s former home at The Fan. By Monday, it was clear the duo had reached an 11th hour deal to stay at The Ticket.

If you don’t care about sports talk radio, move along. For those who do, my take on how the deal to save Bob and Dan came to be finalized, and whether it was ultimately the right move for them.

Understand that radio is a pretty unique bird, one that traditionally pays its talent for success, not its sales staff for selling into that success. TV news used to do this; not as much anymore. (Print in no way does this.) Because The Ticket has been a ratings behemoth for many years, its hosts have been handsomely rewarded. (More power to them, for what it’s worth.)

But the economics of the radio industry have changed, as they have for all mainstream media. The personalization of content, whether it be blog posts for print or video on demand for TV or podcasts for radio, means stations can’t make as much money as they used to. Because of this, Cumulus, the Atlanta-based owner of The Ticket, has taken on a high-profile cost-saving campaign in recent years, asking hosts to take sometimes substantial pay cuts to get its costs in line. (You could argue Cumulus is punishing the successful shows and stations in the chain’s empire to make up for the low-performing ones. I wouldn’t disagree.) The highest-profile example was when Cumulus low-balled Mark Davis during contract negotiations, and he chose to not re-sign with WBAP-AM 820.

Now we get to Bob and Dan. They’re operating in this market reality as the contract negotiations come around. The Fan, trying hard to dent The Ticket’s ratings dominance, lets it be known it will pay previous market rate (or something like it) for BaD Radio. From The Fan’s perspective, this is a n0-brainer: strengthen your team, weaken your enemy.

No matter what happens, Bob and Dan want their show to stay together, understanding correctly that radio is a weird, chemically volatile beast — what works with one partner may not work with another, no matter the talent involved. But what worked at one station may not work at another, no matter how similar the shows try to be. That said, they  don’t want to get corn-holed by management, professionally speaking. It’s easy to say, “Hey, just take less money because you enjoy your job and your co-workers.” But how many times have you done that, voluntarily?

The negotiations went wrong early on, through no fault of Bob and Dan (at least not directly). Radio hosts in big markets, like professional ball players, use agents to negotiate their contracts. This keeps the negotiations from being personal. That didn’t happen in this case. For whatever reason, the professional negotiators in this situation — quite possibly on both sides — got ugly. Threats were made. Business-style eff yous were exchanged. And too much of that back-room animosity was carried to Bob and Dan directly. (Which makes you wonder: Why pay 15 percent to folks who won’t protect you from the ugly personal side of negotiations? Why not just keep that money and get your nuts kicked in person? But I digress.)

That’s how it got to this point over the weekend, where it seemed that BaD Radio would, after a non-compete expired, end up on The Fan. How was that avoided? Because everyone came to their senses.

The idea that Cumulus would cut off its nose to spite its face, Mark Davis-style, never made sense to me. Mark Davis pulled decent numbers among an audience that is on the wrong side of retirement, from an advertising perspective. BaD Radio crushes middays in a prime demographic. No comparison.

As well, it was clear that Bob and Dan regretted the negotiation ever got to that point. It’s understandable that they considered moving. Dan in particular has been hard-done by management during contract negotiations over the years, and the sting from such a thing has to linger. But in the end, as often happens in similar sports situations, egos were put aside only at the final negotiating hour. Cumulus did not “match” The Fan’s above-market offer, but it did make a fairer effort. Bob and Dan accepted less money to stay at a station, in a time slot, with an audience that has given them more than a decade of affection.

By no means do I think that was an easy decision. Again, you try turning down more money sometime and tell me how easy it is. But it was the right decision. I wish The Fan well. I love Ben and Skin, and I hope they build a competitor with new and original talent that competes hard for my attention every day. But I want 1310 to stay the Little Ticket as I’ve always known and loved it, small not in its level of success but in its spirit.

25 comments on “Why Bob and Dan (BaD Radio) Will Be Back on The Ticket Today After All

  1. I’m told I’m wrong about radio agency commission, that’s it’s more like 5 percent. Of course I’m going by standard commission paid to a writer’s agent, which is 15 percent, because writers are freaking idiots.

  2. I think BAD is the weakest show on the Ticket and wouldn’t have shed a tear if they had moved. They have more “power down” segments than any show on FM radio. Dan’s voice is annoying. Bob could do his own show and it might be ok.

  3. If Dan had to do a segment on this whole thing, he would say this: “Please… they were never gonna leave The Ticket. They were happy they had a second bidder to raise their price. Just like Kobe never was gonna leave the Lakers for the Mavs and Roger Clements was never coming to the Rangers. In the end they knew they could maximize their earning potential over the long haul by staying and thats what they did.”

  4. BaD Radio on the little Ticket makes me happy. Turning down more money for less is difficult but if you end up hating going to work in six months the difference may seem small down the road. Now, when Rhynes decides to give it up (not wanting him too, just sayin’) those boys will be in a good place to move up to drive time. Stay hard, Bud and Dan.

  5. Dan is the perfect Yin to Bob’s Yang. And The Ticket will get you some pageviews.

  6. pretty sure Richie did not break this. It was a UT forum followed by a ticket fan blog, but I am too lazy to google right now.

  7. I saw all that. Wild-ass speculation isn’t breaking it. Richie mentioned something specific, then blogged it the next morning when it became clear others (including me) were circling around the story. He gets the credit.

  8. Norm is the weakest and its not even close, he needs to ride off in the sunset

  9. I get tired of people ripping Dan. I actually think Dan is pretty funny. I like the dry sense of humor. I’m not the biggest fan of Bob and Dan. They just talk too much sports. The morning show is easily the best on the radio. Kind of tired of everything else on the Ticket. I now listen to NPR once 10 a.m. hits.

  10. He is not the weakest show. He just speaks sports with less schtik. Norm is a radio icon and in the Dallas area would be on the Mt. Rushmore of Dallas radio icons.

  11. Corby has proven himself. It takes pressure to take the place of G. Williams; but, Cobra has done well and even when Danny is off, Cobra has proven his worthiness.

    He is the perfect partner for Rhynes as (if nothing else), the age difference brings more to the table than one on pain killers and another not!

  12. You are missing out then Dan! Morning – Afternoon on KTCK = greatness!

    P1 for life!

  13. All the talk of BaD. Don”t forget D. Lewis. He is the perfect person to add to the middle of these two to not only keep peace; but, to bring up other subjects.

    You can’t have BaD Radio without another D and how many of you would ignore Double Ds?

  14. The Musers: Best combination of humor and sports. Gordon is a riot
    Norm: Great sports radio program. Norm knows his stuff, and he can be really funny too, especially bits.
    BaD Radio: Other than Lewis, no real redeeming quality. Sports is light, and in my opinion, really isn’t that funny.
    The Hardline: Immature adolescent-minded adults provide a hilarious show sprinkled with some sports here and there.

    I wouldn’t have cared if BaD Radio went away. There’s a reason they are on in the middle of the day when people are at work .

  15. Wow, you gotta’ be kidding. BaD is often the top show of the day. The HardLine is the show that needs to be concerned.