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  • Writer's pictureMatt Cundill

Jason Dixon: Sirius About Sports

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Jason Dixon has been with Sirius XM since 2015. How he got there is a sum of all the parts that come before that. An internship at 970 WFLA after hearing about it in a TV and radio class, a transition to the Power Pig where he shares a number of fun stories, launching what would become WDAE, followed by 8 years at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jason later had stints in North Carolina and Detroit.

In this episode you will hear stories from all these stops; which means you will hear some stories from inside the Tampa Bay Lightning who had a remarkable team throughout the early 2000's, winning a Stanley Cup in 2004.


Feedback on the app can be found in the replies.


 

Jason spoke about this briefly - and that was the flip from Z93 to 93.3 the Power Pig. You can listen to it here.



 

Transcription


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  00:00

The Sound Off Podcast. The show about podcast and broadcast, starts now.


Matt Cundill  00:13

Jason Dixon is someone I've run into on and off over the years at places like Podcast Movement and various radio gatherings. I was introduced to him by Jason Barrett from Barrett Sports Media. I've only known Jason Dixon as the lead in sports and Sirius XM, but how we got there is a great story. It includes a start back in the late 80s and early 90s at the Power Pig in Tampa Bay, which really should have its very own podcast. Listen, if this were my only job, I would have created an eight part miniseries featuring the battle between Q105 and the Power Pig. If someone does make this podcast that got my permission to use the parts of this episode to tell the stories, just credit us in the show notes. Here we go. Jason Dixon joins me from the DMV, which for the rest of us is in and around Washington, DC.


Jason Dixon  01:03

Hillsborough Community College on Dale Mabry highway in beautiful Tampa, Florida right across from Raymond James Stadium, affectionately known as the Harvard by the highway. I wasn't a very good student did enough to get by, took a TV and radio class for no other reason. Then I figured I watched TV and I listened to radio. That's one I could pass. This was pre cell phone days was taken the class heard the instructor tell another person about an internship at 970 WFLA in Tampa, and immediately went down to the payphone in the lobby of the school and called WFLA and said I heard you were looking for an intern, Steve Hall, who was the news director that time invited me in for an interview the next day and the following day, I was an intern at 970 WFLA. I don't know what happened to that other guy.


Matt Cundill  01:55

So it's 1989 ish and what radio stations are you listening to in Tampa?


Jason Dixon  02:02

Q105 man Scott Shannon, Q morning Zoo. Yeah, he was he left around that area to go to Z100 so I'm not sure. You know, Cleveland Wheeler, Scott Shannon, that whole thing. And Ron and Ron on 95YNF too were were huge then. But yeah, I grew up listening to the Q Zoo in the morning, Scott Shannon and Cleveland. It was just just awesome to you know, listen to that legendary radio station.


Matt Cundill  02:27

So you get into radio and what are your first jobs?


Jason Dixon  02:30

Newsroom intern which was basically hang out in the newsroom . 970 WFLA at the time was a robust radio newsroom something you know kind of a thing of the past with you know, full time reporters out covering beats every day, you know, taking feeds from them cutting up carving up, the network feeds or cuts the talk host it was live local talk all day long. And I'd have to write down the temperatures in the community, different communities in the area and take them in and slip into the talk show hosts so they could do the weather every hour. So all that kind of stuff recording Paul Harvey taping Paul Harvey every day was huge in Tampa, Florida, where the average age was about 150 they loved them some Paul Harvey so that was that was a big deal to.


Matt Cundill  03:14

Seems nuts that we have to explain that newsrooms were once robust. And we actually had to have somebody physically record something like Paul Harvey or you know, Dick Clark's rock and roll remember and all that stuff.


Jason Dixon  03:27

Yeah, I mean, it was it was a thing you know, the reporters had their assignments every day they would go out you know, call in their reports feed their reports, I would record them and that was part of the deal. The anchor was there every hour, you know, putting the newscast and I had you know, sometimes you had to type up the leads, you know, card up the stuff type up, you know, type of the cart labels for the news anchors, it was just part of the deal you know, that is a thing of the past now.


Matt Cundill  03:54

How are we going to explain to part of our listenership what carts are?


Jason Dixon  03:59

I still have them on my desk. So you know, I'm in this weird situation where I'm the old man in the room at Sirius XM and so I have two cart machines with carts in them on my desk and every once in a while I will have to demonstrate and explain the process of carving something up and you know, going past the splice and you know hoping everything was bulk arranged properly all that stuff so different world different world now.


Matt Cundill  04:28

Yet you don't let it go. You keep it on your desk and I am no different because we're roughly the same age and started in radio at the same time. This is a PBX phone box. No when you get the mayor on the phone and you need to record that exactly and here are some cassettes which I have kicking about.


Jason Dixon  04:47

Yes we have to explain those those as well. The cassettes that's amazing, although I just read an article because that's like making a comeback, but vinyl had its moment. And I read somewhere now like people are buying music on cassette it again, which is amazing to me.


Matt Cundill  05:02

How did the Power Pig come about because you had a front row seat?


Jason Dixon  05:06

Yeah. So the transition from newsroom to being able to run the board. My career is a whole thing of happenstance right. It happened to hear that person, the Professor, tell that other person about the internship. One day, I asked if I could watch the guy run the board for the talk shows, I had no idea what that was. I only worked in the newsroom. So sitting in there for literally an hour and a half. And Mike Serio, the guy that was in charge of the board operators said, Oh, hey, you want to learn how to do this? And I'm like, well, maybe I don't know. Well, we just had three guys quit. So you start this weekend and I started running Sally Jessy Raphael and Tom Schneider at night. From there, I guess proved my board prowess. So before the Power Pig, the station was Z93 Good Time Oldies. I was asked to come in on the weekend overnights and run the aforementioned Dick Clark's Rock Roll And Remember, which came on vinyl. And while I was there, I was to pull the music from the morning show. Now this was an oldies station. The songs are two minutes long and old songs one cart. So each hour had about 14 carts stacked about this high. So you would run to clerks Rock Roll and remember play the spots flip over the record to the record backup. I'm doing that did it for probably a few months. One night, I noticed a bunch of the jocks. Regular jocks were hanging out on a Sunday night, and there was a meeting apparently going on between the powers that be Randy Michaels, Gabe Hobbs. Unbeknownst to me, the meeting concluded with telling the jock staff that they were going to flip the switch the power pig, they went out and spray painted the van pink and black. I was wearing what we called our Good Time Oldies Z shirt, which was a Z93 t shirt. The jocks who were maybe a little ameliorated, came in grabbed me, pinned me against the wall and spray painted my T shirt with black spray paint pow pig on it. And the next morning, I believe that was at 10am they flipped the switch and I was a member member of the Power Pig Air Staff.


Matt Cundill  07:17

Wow. So for those who don't know, cuz I think a lot of people just don't know the story. Why was the Power Pigs so big?


Jason Dixon  07:28

Well, it has a lot more to do with Q105. Right. I mean, Q105 was a monster and in the day, you know, in a in an era now where everything is so niche, right, everybody has their little place they they fit Q105 was everything. They were a full service radio station news, weather and sports. They played at night, you know, the latest CHR Scott Shannon hosted the oldies hour at 10am where they aired an hour of oldies, if there was a country song, you know, that was Brady, they played the country song. So they were everything to everybody in the community and they were just ripe for the picking. They were just so big. There was a place where you could undercut them on the on the low end and a lot of room to succeed. And they were a legendary radio station. I mean, Mason Dixon, you know, Scott Cleveland every, Bobby Rich, everybody that had been a part of that, that station. So the bit was they basically called up and I'm blanking on the guy's name, but one of the big wigs at Eden's broadcasting at the time and said, We won't change formats, if you pay us a million bucks, and they were dead serious. They were dead serious of Eden's would have written the million dollar check, they would probably still be good time all of these. And basically the attitude was bring it and the Power Pig launched and it was everything so opposite of Q105. It was edgy, a little raunchy, the music, everything was pitched up 2% So everything seemed you know faster. The jocks didn't talk a lot and when they did, it meant something and and it was very in your face. It was you know, basically aired the dirty laundry about Q105. And the reason why they were successful and all their, all their drama about the morning show not liking the afternoon show and vice versa. It was an open book, and it took hold, you know, people loved it.


Matt Cundill  09:23

Because I think a lot of people who would, you know, look at radio from a business or from the flat side of things would just say, we're gonna start a top 40 and we're gonna go up against them and let's see how much share we can take. But this is different. This is drama, a ransom renegade radio. I think the word renegade was used often at the imaging bumper, Morgan.


Bumper Morgan  09:47

Power 93. If you ain't cranking it you must be yanking in. Keep busting.


Matt Cundill  09:55

I think the news was a little bit on edge like the old 2020 newsletter of Detroit.


Jason Dixon  10:00

Yeah, we had Martin Giles who the late great Martin Giles, who was one of the best the pipes you wouldn't believe in the great writing. That was a little bit of you know double entendre wink wink when he could. Yeah, everything. Everything you just mentioned a small band of renegades terrorizing Tampa Bay that was, you know, that was the sweeper, but the people loved us, you know, we had the thing, flipping the pig, which was the middle finger. And that was a negative, right, and we turned it into a positive. And, you know, whenever you see Q105, flip them the pig, let them know. So there's a big parade in town called the Gasparilla parade. It's a pirate festival and at the parade, Q105. Had Belinda Carlisle on their float in the parade. This was when she was in her mad about you, heyday. And so we went on the air and you know, whenever you seeking Q105, flip on the pig, and no one had clued Belinda into this. And she's down the parade route and 1000s and 1000s and 1000s upon people are given her the middle finger. Very she was very upset. I feel bad for poor Belinda in hindsight, no fault of her own, by the way. But yeah, that was the thing. It was just something people could rally around and it was a good fit the 90s you it wouldn't work now right? Just different time in place. But for that moment, in that time, man, it was it was awesome.


Matt Cundill  11:31

Yeah and musically, you said skewed younger. And you know, it got a little rhythmic in there too right.


Jason Dixon  11:37

Oh, for sure.


Bumper Morgan  11:39

There's skid marks on the underwear of Tampa Bay.


Matt Cundill  11:44

You mentioned pitched up the music is faster paced and you don't need to play Belinda Carlisle to be a success. Q105 did.


Jason Dixon  11:52

Yeah, exactly. I mean, they that they were built on being everything to everyone, especially at the beginning. Now the music was a little more broad at the beginning. Like there was Aerosmith and Def Leppard alongside, you know, Paul Abdul and Milli Vanilli, it sort of got narrowed in there for a while and in the music chain. And in the 9394 when when the grunge thing started happening, we played some Pearl Jam and, and stuff like that as well. But, you know, musically, it was just totally different and and they threw some stuff in there. Clarence Carter Strokin was not a song of the time, but it was a song that hadn't been played on the radio and it was edgy and and people liked it. It was funny. The butt EU you know, that sort of stuff. The music was so narrow, it just, you know, was was the right sort of sort of spot and the problem with and I apologize, I'm jumping ahead, Q105 the mistake they made was taken us head on. If they just done what they did kept on going, they'd have been fine. But they changed our music, change their music to try to be us. And it didn't work for them wasn't what their audience one.


Matt Cundill  13:01

How long did it take for the Pig to pass them?


Jason Dixon  13:05

I think it was 73 days.


Matt Cundill  13:08

Yeah.


Jason Dixon  13:08

Something like that. And this was, you know, our diary method book every three months sort of deal right. So yeah, I think it was the second or third book. We were ahead of them.


Matt Cundill  13:19

And the other crazy thing, maybe it's not so crazy. Now it seems brilliant. But it's always like well don't talk about your competition, but you were only talking about your competition and it must have sent them nuts.


Jason Dixon  13:30

Oh, it created a soap opera around them. We did these bits when clear channel bottom Lowry Mays, you know was low rent band aids and it was voiced by the late great Brian James. And it was airing all their dirty laundry you know that we knew about and the reason we knew about it, by the way is we sent people over to gig through their dumpsters. We were actually done dumpster diving, and bringing home their trash and digging through their memos and all that stuff that that's legitimately happened. The other thing we did, we had on our board, we had Q105 and Q so we could punch up Q105. Anytime we wanted. And we had a double punch card bumper Morgan voicing it. It's a fact Q105 plays the most commercials check them out. We'll wait.


Bumper Morgan  14:17

So fact Q105 plays the most commercials don't believe us. Check them out. We'll wait. See what we mean.


Jason Dixon  14:34

And on the window at the studio, we had a grease pencil and every time we call it and we added another tick mark so it was all out in your face no rules doing what you needed to do. We they would do price patrols announce where they were at and they'd be giving out Q105 t shirts and we would follow them go across the street and tell people to bring their Q105 t shirts to us and we would have these screw stickers that would go through the Q105 logo or depending on the time we had screw the Q t shirts, which was their logo with a screw on it and our logo on the back.


Matt Cundill  15:12

Okay, so that that bit I stole.


Jason Dixon  15:16

Well, I have a saying personally, if you've stolen from me, you've stolen twice. So you know, feel free and anybody listening, feel free to take that one as well. But it was huge. You know, they were giving away 1000s of dollars. Our bid was we didn't have the money. So here's a pig buck. We had $1 bill that we put a little sticker on where George Washington's face was, and gave people $1. And they were just as happy. Yeah, so it was it was different.


Matt Cundill  15:44

You stopped identifying as the Pig. I think it was just 933 after that. Probably Well, after you've conquered the format. You didn't need to be the Pig anymore.


Jason Dixon  15:53

Yeah, exactly. And that's, you know, at some point, the attitude was capping the revenue right. There were some people that just the numbers we were bringing in warranted us making a lot more revenue than we were but there were some people that were just playing staying away because of the you know, the the edginess.


Bumper Morgan  16:12

Our 93 The Power Pig. Hello, my name is Karina I'm in the hospital right now are waiting for liberty as they say I might not make it. It won't matter. Because my family is out of money and the hospital is gonna throw me out to the call tomorrow. Which you can help. Please buy a power big T shirt from my daddy good news. You can save my life and his job for only $10. Hurry before- Power Pig T shirts. Please buy one big T shirts available to all Tampa Bay Area magic markets, Tracks Records, Record Bar, Turtles Records and Tape Strippers and unlimited employees raise lock and key and the Power Pig Studio.


Jason Dixon  16:54

The decision was made from power 93 to Power Pig to 933 FLZ in The New Music Revulotion. . Funny story. I was the jock on the air when the change happened. We were going to change in the morning show. And so BJ Harris is the PD at the time came in all right, man. Go ahead. Start with the 93 three stuff. First record, I talked up 933 a new music revolution blah, blah, blah, and locked it out with right here on Power 93 the Power Pig. Oh, so that's why I knew the career as a jock was I wasn't long for that career.


Matt Cundill  17:27

This is why you pivoted over to sports. That guy who launched the 933 we're gonna move him to sports.


Jason Dixon  17:33

Well, a little more than that, but yeah. 


Matt Cundill  17:36

You cross the street for that.


Jason Dixon  17:38

No, no, no. So I was producing the morning show. I was the third wheel on the morning show MJ and BJ and I was stunt guy, which was was great. I was having a blast and you know, creating theater, the mind and being that I was sort of the punch line guy on the morning show MJ,  Kelly, BJ Harris and me and you know if I'm being honest, MJ was difficult to work with. I have all the respect in the world for MJ Todd Schmidt. He's a talented talent to do that. I was down in Tampa a couple of weeks ago, and listen to him and fester on Q105. He was just difficult to work with and I had had enough. I think they were afraid I was gonna go across the street. I was paid to sit home for quite a bit. They told me sit tight, they're gonna have something for me. I had always helped out in the sports department, the news talk station. I went to cover Bucks games and the like to help out their sports operation was one man. So you know, they could always use the help and it was something I enjoyed sitting on the sidelines for a while and they had one day the phone rang. I actually was sitting on the sidelines. My job was once a week I had called Gabe Hobbs who was the operations manager and asked him if I could come into work that week. Every Monday, nine o'clock. Hey, Gabe, can I come into work today? No, not this week. Eventually they flipped Well, 50 w d e to sports. Hey, Gabe, can I come into work today? Yes, you can. And here's what we want you to do. And you know, that's that's where it started.


Matt Cundill  19:06

I mean, sports in Tampa Bay. Now you're coming out with a station. It's 1996 ish. And sports radio is you know, it's kind of in its infancy. You know, if I think back to wfh and starting, you know, the decade previous it's not a full blown format, but it is a good direction. And Tampa Bay itself has a new hockey team. That's three years old. There's no baseball team that I don't think, but there's still lots of sports around and you'll have enough content. So when you're walking into this new format, and they say this is your new job, what are you seeing and how did you think it was gonna play out for radio?


Jason Dixon  19:42

I didn't know what I was doing and it's like, oh, you're the you're the program. Actually, I was the assistant program director of the sports station I asked Gabe. Well, who am I assisting? Nobody. In the in the most clear channel of law Clear Channel ways I was the assistant program I was getting the assistant programmer rate to assist, Nolan. But the broader question is, look, it was a Bucs town. That's That's what people cared about Tampa Bay Buccaneers whether they were winning or losing, it didn't matter. That was that was what was important. So the idea was just build as much content around the Bucs as humanly possible. We, you know, best bucks coverage was just something that we jumped on. I think they use that in Cincinnati with the Bengals or J Core did at the time. Yeah, that was that was the deal. And it was it was personality radio, too. You gotta remember Tampa was a personality radio hotbed. I mentioned Ron and Ron, people, they wanted personality. And we had guys like Steve Dumeg , who was you know, just a lightning rod, the old school yelling scream sports guy, and he did it as well as anybody. We had Chris Thomas, who was you know, local sports anchor who was beloved, just a man of the people. So it was it was personality and books and that's that's what we did.


Matt Cundill  21:01

Who's calling Tampa Bay games back in 96?


Jason Dixon  21:04

I believe they're still in the country station at that time. Yeah. WQYK so I'm not sure it was making Jean Decker Hoff was still doing it and doing the play by play at the time they did run through a bunch of folks pro wrestler Jesse The Body Ventura was in there with the with Jean at some point. Yeah so they run through a bunch of people, but they settled on they settled on Jean, I think he had started around that time.


Matt Cundill  21:27

So you got the Lightning, which Tampa Bay storm?


Jason Dixon  21:30

Arena football.


Matt Cundill  21:32

Oh, that's right.


Jason Dixon  21:34

Yeah. So the Tampa Bay storm is one of the most successful franchises in that league. They started playing at what now is Tropicana Field and would regularly put 20 25,000 people in their front arena football game. Their coach Tim Markham was the Vince Lombardi of arena football. We ended up winning like eight championships in that league. So they were legit. I mean, look, they weren't a ratings play for the radio station. But as far as a night out in Tampa Bay, arena football was was legit.


Matt Cundill  22:06

And the Florida Gators who play up in Gainesville, which is a bit of a drive but still a very hot property in that area.


Jason Dixon  22:14

Oh, for sure. Yeah, the Gators the Gators when the number one college well, there's the big three Florida, Florida State, Miami, but you know, without a doubt the Gators were worth one. And you know, they were difficult to get because the other competing sports station in town. I know I've mentioned Clear Channel and J Corp and all this stuff. But there was a lot of a lot of movement and people buying people and stations shifting around. But basically the the Gators rights were owned by the other company. Let's put it that way. We couldn't get played by play for the Bucks raise weren't a thing yet. Eventually, we did end up getting getting the Lightning and we had the storm the Arena Football. So we were doing it without the number one play by play.


Matt Cundill  22:57

So you started at 12:50am Your part of the transition that went to 6:20am the call letters are still very popular in Tampa Bay. I mean, you must have stories about you know, when you listen to 953 WDAE, you must be able to say I was there at the beginning.


Jason Dixon  23:16

Yeah, that's my thing. You know, Joh Momola, gotten to know a little bit and I've had a relationship with every PD that's been at WDAE, and to flip the sports and you know, one of the things I kind of pride myself with, there's probably one or two exceptions now, but I can walk into the door of any place that I worked and be welcome something I take personal pride in. Maybe Detroit and not so much I'm sure we'll talk a little bit but but so I've had relationships with those folks and yeah, it's a sense of pride you know, we we moved 1250 WDAE, to 6:20am which was WSUN at the time the move the call letters there just a rockin signal that, you know, could be heard all across the state. I remember traveling for an arena football game at one point where we landed in Baton Rouge airport and we had to drive to New Orleans and was listening to a race game on WDAE, you know driving to the game from between Baton Rouge and New Orleans so it was a huge huge signal huge move and now they're on FM and you know all that good stuff. But yeah, man it is a point of pride there from from the start and help lay the foundation I hope from to what it's been now and it is the go to the sports station of record in that market still.


Matt Cundill  24:31

I've had John on the show twice.


Jason Dixon  24:33

Oh, wow. Look at that. He's a two timer.


Matt Cundill  24:36

Exactly. So I mean, I'm probably because it's one of the stations that I will listen to for sports, for whatever reason, because it's like well, I think I'll listen to a sports station. I go to that one because it happens to be you know, the one I know.


Jason Dixon  24:49

There you go. Well, John's done a done a wonderful job with that. And now I guess he's overseeing FLA as well on the news talk side so you know, great, great work by him.


Matt Cundill  24:59

And you yourself, made a transition from radio. I mean, I want to see kinda left radio, but you didn't really you went to go work with the lightning, I think.


Jason Dixon  25:09

Yeah, so I was doing I was doing Tampa Bay storm games, rock Riley, who was the sports director of the two stations of FLA. And da was the color man for the storm games, the Arena Football, his wife was about to have a baby gave him the week off, I filled in for him. And I liked it so much, I didn't give him the job back. So I went went over and did that for a whole bunch of years, Lightening The Storm, while not as part of the same ownership group, they had a relationship, we got the Lightning rights. And basically the deal was the Lightning, we negotiated with them, the Lightning was taking their rights in house, which meant they would produce all the programming by the time from us sell the spots and that that's how it would go. So we did gave Dave hops as the lead on the deal and I helped, you know, on the on the programming side putting things together. deal was done. A couple of weeks later, phone rings from the Michael, your mark, who was at the lightning, the VP of sales, I forget his title. And basically Michael was like, We got to produce all this programming. Now we need somebody to oversee it. For us, you know, what's your interest? It was high just because of chance to work for pro sports team. And I think the fine folks at Palace Sports Entertainment who own the Lightning had an over inflated idea of how much a sports radio program director in Tampa Florida made because when they made me the offer significantly more dollars than my friends at Clear Channel were paying me. So they made it a no brainer. Let's let's put it that way.


Matt Cundill  26:47

Yeah, it's not it's not even really that far of a jump. It's just really you know, how the money is exchanged between the properties, you essentially become the program director to what is the biggest sports property? I mean, because you had to produce and there was in house sales, there's all sorts of stuff you had to do.


Jason Dixon  27:04

Yeah, I had been doing the pre and post game shows for the lightning as an employee, the radio station that was strictly budgetary, the original deal we had called for us to provide that. And there was no one else to do it. So literally, I would do the pre and post game. We had a place wired up outside the dressing rooms to do the intermission interviews. Since I had to be gone all the time, I recruited my wife to produce that she she worked cheap. So yeah, we were just doing what needed to be done. So they had a relationship with me. But yeah, the shift was easy. Now I did have a television component to that, that I oversaw that I wasn't all too familiar with. But I had to I had to learn that business as well. But yeah, it was the job was program director, it was creating content. It was working with the sales team, hey, we've got a client, you know, they need an end game feature. What can we give them working with the talent coaching the talent, hiring talent, and then producing the broadcast the different and the biggest thing was, for me, the competitive factor like every every three months, we get that those ratings come across and you know, didn't were we up where we down? Did we win? What did we lose the hardest adjustment for me, I could have executed the best broadcast in the world on any given night. And if the team lost four to nothing, that broadcast sucked. I could have had the worst night on the air possible. And if we won two to one, it was a great night. So that was the biggest adjustment for me is what we did paled in comparison to you know, the performance of the team on the ice. And by the way, at that time, there were a lot more for nothing losses than there were two nothing wins. So it was difficult at times.


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  28:53

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Matt Cundill  29:21

So I look back in that time that you work there in the 2000s and you're an employee of the Tampa Bay Lightning Are you signed to an NDA to never admit that the game sixth goal that Calgary scored was in the net?


Jason Dixon  29:36

Oh, it was a legit goal. I mean, the it was a legit no goal. I should say it never went in. I've seen every show me show me an angle that says the puck went in and I will change it but I have not seen one. I tell you what, though, that playoffs was just amazing. The series, part of my gig was for the road playoff games. I was in the booth and I would go down out in the third period, and then conduct the on ice locker room interviews postgame and I remember there was a game against Montreal, we were down by one late and we scored the tie it up late. And the thing the memory for me of that was I've never been in a place that went from so loud. I mean, just so loud to dead silent to you could hear a pin drop when we scored to tie it up and then a minute later, we scored to win the game. And it was just, you know, amazing. But but that final series in Calgary man, hard to be hard to be.


Matt Cundill  30:40

Okay o I was in Montreal at that time in 2004. I'm a Habs fan. And I have successfully eliminated all that from my memory.


Jason Dixon  30:50

Who was it? It was Vinny Cavalier a scored one and I don't remember the order of it. Maybe Richard score. The other one was right off a draw. It was Yeah. It was amazing. It honestly if you take yourself out of it, and I know the fandom and but literally amazing. Not the athletic accomplishment. But what happened in that arena went from here to Dwayne down here in a moment. So my apologies worked out for me, though.


Matt Cundill  31:16

Yeah and at the same time, Videla Cavalier, who is from Montreal, and everybody's kind of like, damn I wish you played for us.


Jason Dixon  31:24

Every year, every year. That was the trade rumors, right? But he didn't want to why? Why would you want that pressure? And later same with with Marty St. Louis, that was always an interesting dynamic. When we went to Montreal, I didn't travel all the time, but you know, every couple of months, I'd go on a road trip and then all during the playoffs. And it was always interesting when we went to Montreal, because no matter what, there there was that, you know, When's he going to come here? We're going to trade for Vinnie, this, that and the other thing, and it just never was was meant to be.


Matt Cundill  31:56

No, it's exactly what you said and you know, even up to two days ago, even last night, I saw an exchange between a reporter in Edmonton and Tim Peel, the referee, they were going back and forth. And, you know, the reporter asked a question, Tim said, that's a dumb question and this is why free agents don't come to Canada because they're under the microscope. And instead they could go be in Tampa Bay, be the number three or four sports entity in the market live in peace. Their families are happier. It's not like you have to like abandon your family and go on a road trip and say, Oh, honey, take care of things in Winnipeg. Well, I go and, you know, to Arizona and to Anaheim and to Tampa on a road trip. That's not good for relationships.


Jason Dixon  32:40

Yeah, yeah and I will tell you this though, the lightning right now are not the number three there, there probably is one a, you know, the bucks and the lightning are right there. And, you know, obviously the Bucks are Brady, definitely higher profile, but lightning have done a lot of winning lately.


Matt Cundill  32:58

And when I think of those markets, you know, Tampa Bay really is the exception for the hockey markets. It can easily be one or two, depending on the year and off it is it's not like across the across the swamp there in Florida, where it is perennially a four or five.


Jason Dixon  33:14

Yeah, I mean, it's nothing but Tampa is a hockey market and you know, winning a bunch of cups will do that, you know, and people love their lightning. And those those players are stars. And I do want to say something, you know, I mentioned earlier that one of my points of pride is I can walk in almost any place I've ever worked previously, the lightning as an organization, treat their alumni, not just the players, but the people who worked there. When we won the cup, Tim Taylor was our assistant captain and the speech he gave in the locker room was today we walked together forever. That's what he told everybody and that has applied not just to the players, but to the front office staff as well. Not many people that I worked with back then are still there, but I can make a phone call any day of the year. They were here in DC last season, brought my son to the game, you know, was down in the locker room afterwards and you know, breaking point Steve Stamkos, kucha off all posing for pictures, signing autographs, and my kids for no other reason than I was, you know, an alumni of the team and work there. But that organization, Mr. Vinick, just first class top the bottom, and that's just not a me thing. That's anybody from that time is welcome and it's one of those things with sports., a lot of times you can draw a direct line from the top and how they manage the organization to what happens on the field here in DC the commander's with Dan Snyder. You know, you can draw the line in the other direction as well. But but the lightning under under Mr. Vinick just an incredible organization.


Matt Cundill  34:49

Why did you go back to radio?


Jason Dixon  34:51

Miss the competition. That's probably there was a lot of stress too. So my job expanded. I went from just being the broadcast guy to overseeing game operations so like everything that happened in the arena on the Jumbotron on the ice in between the whistles was all under my purview and that include the sales side, all that stuff. We had put up a new scoreboard in the arena. That was my project. I'm a radio dude. I don't know anything about building scoreboards. Okay, we had a consultant there. And this was a deadline, like we were told what usually was a process. That's a two year process we took care of in one offseason and I was not sleeping, I had to get that project over the hump. By the time they dropped the puck for the first preseason game. That scoreboard had to light up and at the very minimum have a clock scores and penalty clock on it. And that was stressful as hell. I went you know, basically the whole offseason not sleeping. So combine that with my desire to I was a radio guy, man and to get back into it and started kind of sniffing around reached out to Rick Scott, the consultant, you know, asked him if there was anything going on and and you know, things kind of happened from there.


Matt Cundill  36:07

Did you go back to the same frequency in the same company? And it maybe it had changed hands or?


Jason Dixon  36:11

No, no, I went back I went to Jacksonville. From there I went to tend to excel in Jacksonville, met Steve Griffin, the GM drove to Orlando, met him at the Peabody Hotel, watch the ducks walked by at the Peabody Hotel, and basically hammered out an agreement there. That was a very unique radio station, not a not owned by a corporation, owned by a group of local investors. Frank Frangie, the afternoon host who is a dear friend of mine. Now to this day, basically wrangled this group of local people sold them on how they could make money doing sports radio, and got them to buy a station and it's that one still they're going strong today as well.


Matt Cundill  36:59

So Jacksonville is a weird place for sports because well the Jags are there. And what else goes on up there.


Jason Dixon  37:07

Florida Gators are the home team man, that was that was it. gators football to a lesser extent basketball. Another weird quirk of that market some of the resort sports golf. The PGA is headquartered there and pawn of Aedra golf moves the needle the Players Championship happens every day every year there and that's the huge event. But you know, the Florida Georgia game in Jacksonville every year is a huge event. So yeah, Jags we're definitely big one on one a were gators and Jags all the time.


Matt Cundill  37:41

Jason, did you ever get a chance to go to Che Pare in Montreal?


Jason Dixon  37:47

As it was known in the hockey circuit, the ballet, you would go to the ballet. I'm going to tell you what is the scope so John Colin played for the lightning. This was before the cup year, he had had a battle with cancer and had to step aside for a season to you know, treat. I think it was the same thing. Mario had the non Hodgkins lymphoma. And it was just a feel good story. The team wore a little clover, four leaf clover with his number seven in the middle of it on their jerseys. And all year we did stories on colleagues, you know, progression and all that stuff. And thank God he was able to beat it. Come back the next year. But yeah, we ended up going to the ballet one night who's there a bunch of the team and John Colin and it was like you've done all these great feel good stories. And there's the guy you've done all the great feel good stories about at the ballet. Just was a little weird. A little different, but yeah, that was a spot that and Gibby's, Gibby's the steakhouse that's like it's sold stable or something like a military stables that was that was our spots.


Matt Cundill  38:59

Gibby's is on Douville down in Old Montreal and where the old ladies will come out and feed you up with salad and garlic bread and then your steak arrives. You're practically already full your stuff.


Jason Dixon  39:16

But yeah, it's it's funny. You go to town town and you end up going in the same spots and Gabby's was one of them. I'm not going to talk about how regular the ballet was. But yes, people went I hear.


Matt Cundill  39:27

I have a story about the ballet.


Jason Dixon  39:29

Okay, let me hear it.


Matt Cundill  39:31

So Whitey Herzog, when the Cardinals would play in Montreal, against the expos, it was a weekend series, generally the afternoon game and then you fly out that night to go to the next place. Not when you went to Montreal. That Sunday night they would stay the extra night go to the ballet and they would fly out the next morning.


Jason Dixon  39:48

Isn't the rumor that that's where Mario Lemieux met his wife at the ballet for legal purposes that's allegedly but I thought That was that was the rumor at some point, or at least I had heard someone told me.


Matt Cundill  40:04

We would not be allowed to speak that way in Canada about this.


Jason Dixon  40:08

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, she's probably I don't know Mrs. Lemieux she probably is fine. Fine, young lady. But that was that was the rumor.


Matt Cundill  40:17

And then you found your way up to Raleigh.


Jason Dixon  40:19

Yes.


Matt Cundill  40:19

Again, another market where, you know, the sports stations are popping up the sports is beginning to take hold. You know, hockey had moved down in the around the same time 96 from Hartford, Carolina got an expansion team in the early 90s. And now, we're into sports radio in that market.


Jason Dixon  40:38

Yeah. And so I found that like my niche in sports radio was garnering ratings and revenue for stations that didn't have the number one play by play, right? We didn't have the Jags of the Gators in Jacksonville. We didn't have the bucks in Tampa. in Raleigh. We did have the Canes, but they weren't number one. It was the colleges. That was you know, a college town. We had Duke, which from a broadcast perspective was the number three after Carolina and NC State. NC State was on our sister station, which was an AC station. Again, much like you went oh five and Tampa WRAL FM simulcast did the six o'clock news from WRAL TV, they aired North Carolina State football and basketball, they were full service a C didn't have North Carolina, NC State, we had Duke which was number three, and we had the canes, which, you know, at that point, they were in a run of not making the playoffs and not very successful. So yeah, it was totally different market. By the way, Mike and Mike were our morning show and did gangbusters for us their afternoon show Adam Gold, Joe Vyas two extremely talented guys who are perfect for that market had their fingers on the pulse of what was moving the needle, could talk College, could talk hockey, could talk. Carolina Panthers when needed. David Glenn did middays. And he was a, you know, almost an NC State historian or a triangle sports historian in a way. So yeah, that was it. I mean, a hugely successful radio station and got a credit Brian Maloney, the general manager there who recently retired. But he was he was a guy that got it, a general manager that absolutely knew what it took to, you know, get numbers and generate revenue in that market. So, awesome spot.


Matt Cundill  42:40

It kind of makes sense. So for your niche to be, you know, the number two or number three property that you could come in, because it's kind of like how you got started with the power pig, right? You know, how to work from below to get to above.


Jason Dixon  42:55

Yeah, yeah. And, you know, I don't think in the moment, I realized, that's what I was doing. Like, I didn't consciously say, No, I'm gonna turn down the station with all the number one play by plays and go to work with this one who has none of them? I feel as though you know, at the time, I didn't know it. But in hindsight, yeah, okay, I, that's what I was doing. You know, in the moment, you're just trying to claw and scratch and do what you need to do.


Matt Cundill  43:22

There's a bit of an advantage, though, when you don't have sports rights in the building. And that's you can put personalities on the air who can speak a little more candidly about the sports team. And as well, you don't have as much money, obviously, you've got some more money to market with as well. So there are a few advantages when you're not the doing play by play.


Jason Dixon  43:41

For sure. It did take off some of the shot and not that not that we I can ever remember, us like going hard after a team. It just didn't make sense, because you still needed them. But it did allow you to go a step further, you know, I've always used the mantra be critical, but fair, give if you're going to be critical, give the team the opportunity to respond. And they appreciate it that you know, as a program director, I had relationships with the PR guys, you know what, day to day, we weren't talking every day, but I always made sure they knew how, you know who I was and how to find me. So if there ever was that little, you know, stuff being on the on the edge and maybe upsetting them, you know, we could talk it through and not have it be in a larger issue didn't always work. Yeah, you know, and it's for the marketing. Yeah, you know, and you have to be creative. You have to be creative found, find ways to attach yourself to that sport, that team, that event that everybody cares about, without officially being attached to it. And you know, that challenged you creatively, emotionally, all that sort of stuff. But yeah, the resources there probably were a little extra resources there because of that.


Matt Cundill  44:55

All right, what happened in Detroit?


Jason Dixon  44:59

Had to bring that and up. So, in Raleigh, get a call from Fred Jacobs, who decide who I've known Fred a little bit love. Tech survey is one of my favorite things. You know, every year I'm a research geek so even to this day, I love it. Fred said he wants to talk about sports radio knew had been around. Yeah, it was sports radio. It's funny. There's this group of OG sports radio PDs, you know, that were the original group. And there's still a few of us alive and kicking, you know. And so I just thought, hey, maybe Fred's just picking my brain about sports radio. Basically, he was interviewing me for the job and in Detroit, and I spent an hour on the phone with Fred, after that conversation with Fred got a phone call, trying to think whether it was Rick Scott. Yeah, it was from Rick Scott, the consultant, who said, I'm gonna send you an NDA, you need to sign and then we need to want to talk to you about something. So they lay out the plan for Detroit, they had a relationship pounded out with ESPN Radio, which at the time, I didn't care about the content, the programming content as much as I did the play by play because I knew we weren't gonna have any to start, but at least we could say we had, you know, MLB, the NBA Finals, you know, that sort of thing. And they had had a deal with Drew Lane, who had been, you know, the longtime morning guy at riff to come in and do afternoon ons on the sports station. Man, Detroit, you know, bigger market, the chance to launch something from scratch was less something too much to pack up. Brian Maloney my GM at in Raleigh, was from Detroit, went in there and talk to him, Brian, I got this opportunity, man, I don't think I could pass it up. And he was 1,000,000% supportive of that. Totally understood, and, you know, was teary eyed when I left Raleigh, because I truly believe I could still be the Program Director in Raleigh today. If I want, you know, if I wanted to be what am that company? Capitol broadcasting in Raleigh, the best broadcast company you'll ever work for in your life, the Goodman family just awesome. So get up to Detroit. Basically, Drew Lane was the only one that was hired. Matt Derry who worked at the ticket as thinking update guy, and he had been hired to do midday, but his noncompete hadn't run out yet. So I had, I knew I had we were going to launch where Mike and Mike and Colin, God bless those guys. They were never gonna get any numbers in Detroit, Colin Cowherd, Drew and afternoons. And eventually, Matt Dery and middays had to hire is that was it, No promotions people, no, you know, nobody, nobody, no board operators, no producers, nothing. They brought me up there, set me in a hotel lobby, set up a bunch of interviews, and spent all day for two straight days interviewing people, developing a staff not knowing anything about anything, right. And so my strategy was to hire good people first and you know, I figured if I hired good people, we'd have a good staff, and then worried about all the all the radio stuff we launched. And that was probably the highlight.


Matt Cundill  48:19

Colin being Colin Cowherd.


Jason Dixon  48:21

Oh, yeah, the taking the gig was the no brainer. Getting there and realizing what was really happening. Drew lane, talented guy had no business doing a show on a sports radio station. The concept of drew being successful recreating the morning show he did at riff afternoons on a sports station was never going to work.


Matt Cundill  48:47

Yeah, listen, in my head. I can hear this not working.


Jason Dixon  48:50

No.


Matt Cundill  48:50

But I know you have to take that gig. Would it have worked better if he'd done the morning show.


Jason Dixon  48:55

Part of it was drew didn't want to change. We tried to work with Drew to be drew do his show, but realize who he was talking to. Like, I think the the idea was this flood of riff listeners, we're just going to show up and afternoons to listen to Drew, because he was Drew and that never happened. So when that never happened, and we had billboards, Drew was back, blah, blah, blah, built a lot around drew lane. And he don't get me wrong. He was the highest thing on the radio station right, but wasn't enough, and he didn't evolve. And, look, I've dealt with a lot of difficult personalities in my life. And he was one of them. You know, I'm not saying anything I don't think drew would say and drew I don't think I'm not under his Christmas card list either. But he didn't want to change and it was weird because the hole in the market was doing sports, like over on the ticket. They were doing the Tombigbee stuff they were they were you know talking as much about potholes as they were the tigers, and that sort of thing. And the hole in the market was sports, like, let's talk about the lions and the Tigers. And to what extent the pistons in the wings and we did that, we did that when we could, which was basically mid days, we had Mike and Mike in the mornings, that wasn't gonna work. And you know, all credit to Mike and Mike, they came to the market twice during a short period of time to try to make it work. Did remotes for us, so credit to them, but yeah, it just there were so many things wrong and all the while that the station was for sale. So I want to be diplomatic. But I think the statute of limitations has run out. We had buzz night, genius when it comes to rock radio, done no sports radio, Rick Scott, who I love to death, and I got so much, you know, to say about all the great things Rick Scott was doing. He was proposing things that would work for him and other markets, but worked at stations that were in another stage of their development. We needed cume in Detroit, we had TSL, or TSL was better than the ticket, we just didn't have enough people. And it's like, I just bring me people to get under my tent. And I'll get them, I'll get them to stay right. That's my job. I just need help getting people under the tent. So some of the suggestions, the general manager, I've worked for a lot of great general managers, the general manager, there wasn't one of them. And I'm trying not to sound like bitter radio guy, because it all worked out. For me, it was a means to an end for me. So I'm not bitter at all. But this these are just the facts. And look at it look, I'll share it I was the captain of the ship, I'll share my responsibility to for it's not not being successful. But it just that you take in all of those factors. Sales department that was used to sell in rock radio. Yeah, it just wasn't going to work.


Matt Cundill  52:00

What I know from everything you've told me, and in that market, Detroit, this sounds like it's going to be very difficult. Colin coward. For instance, you now have a wasteland in the middle. And there's nothing a Colin is my favorite show. But but he's not going to be talking about Detroit, unless he wants to talk about how dysfunctional the lions are. He'll never talk about the Red Wings. He's not going to talk about baseball, unless it's like July, which he takes most of it off, you know, and your morning show is Mike and Mike, which I think is a good morning show. And I guess what I would ask for you right, right now because I kind of miss the era. How did that show land for America? Because I remember, you know, it was Mike Greenberg and Mike Goldberg, right and then they had this chemistry. I listened to the show, it worked and then one day they broke up.


Jason Dixon  52:48

It was Good Morning America. It was it was the today's show for sports. My experience was it worked awesome and medium markets that didn't have you know, a college town like Raleigh that didn't have MLB, where there was a game every night to talk about or the NBA or NHL where there was a game every night. So it worked well there because they were you know, they used the resources of ESPN effectively and brought in, you know, their reporters and guests and everybody who worked on that staff to discuss sports, you know, that I back row level. And then you localized it with your local updates and stuff when you could. So yeah, it was I mean, it was a generic, non risky, you know, they were never going to say anything to get you in trouble, which may have been probably the only flaw in that show. When times were when it was time to be critical. But yeah, they they were a great team, a Hall of Fame team. And, you know, you'll have to ask them about the dynamics of the breakup. I've heard things, you know, they went their separate ways. And that was that and frankly, ESPN struggled to your recapture that lightning in the bottle a little bit. Now, my guy Evan Cohen's doing the morning show there now, who, you know, is is awesome. I love Evan to death. So hopefully he'll, you know, have a ton of success there.


Matt Cundill  54:10

Your time in Detroit sounds like my time in Montreal, where there was a lot of people who had a lot of advice about the people that the listeners already had their mind made up on.


Jason Dixon  54:21

I mean, yeah, I mean, in hindsight, look, it just was never gonna work. And yeah, for Dave Shor came in after me. Scott mosteller was put in a weird spot as they brought him in as kind of a consultant. And their intention was to offer him the job might offer him my job while I was still in the seat, and while he was sitting across the desk, consulting with me and Scott and I are friends, so that was weird, but whoever was in the PD chair was not going to have success. There was just so many factors going against that radio station and a great staff by the way, Ryan Armani, Rico beer Grieco is doing well, with Valenti. Now on the ticket map. Dairy was great. Drew was on an island man, that was the other thing. Drew wasn't part of our staff, like Drew would show up at things when he had to. And the rest of the staff resented that a little bit. Hey, we're going out for beers tonight. And Drew in there. But look, I don't want to come across as bitter because I'm not I honestly, I'm so far removed from that. And it's led to a wonderful thing. It's Sirius XM. But it was a disaster. Disaster.


Matt Cundill  55:34

So I don't have any Sirius XM subscription. My only experience with it is when I rent a car, and it's it's always been a good experience. You know, it really feels to me like Sirius XM is what radio used to be. Yes, I'll start from the music side, because that's what I that's what I listened to when I listened to something like Octane. Or if I listened to, you know, just one of the music channels. It kind of feels like radio.


Jason Dixon  56:00

Yeah. And I think there is a desire, there's a generation out there that had to make their own playlist. Right? That's work. And a lot of times people are turning to the radio to relaxed and not work. And I think we're thinking seeing things shifting, shifting from I'm going to make my own playlist. I don't care what the DJ on the radio plays a little bit back to the hey, let's get some smart people to curate music for us and feed it to us right? Look, you can listen to any song you want now on demand in a moment, but yeah, it's jocks, reapers and music, short talk breaks. And usually the jocks you know, our 90s on nine channels downtown, Julie Brown and Lisa low or 80s on a channel is the MTV VJs. So you know, the jocks have have a little cachet. And oh, by the way, I should mention my guys Spyder Harrison now on 90s on 9 doing some stuff, but the jocks have some cachet. And it's just given the people what they want human curated music. And I think there's something there's still something there with that.


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  57:11

The Sound Off Podcast with Matt Cundill.


Matt Cundill  57:14

How did the opportunity to become the director of sports programming come to you? And what does it entail exactly? These are the conversations that I've always wanted to have with you at the bar, whether it's you know, Podcast Movement, or any of the radio events where I've seen you, I've always wanted to have this like, Oh, my God, it sounds huge.


Jason Dixon  57:33

So Detroit ends and this is where I'll give greater mini media credit. We had sent nasty grams back and forth, right? You're not performing blah, blah, blah. And I said, Oh, yeah, well, contractually, you said you were gonna do this and you haven't. So that was happening, right? Eventually, I went up to the GM, Steve to sorry, and said, Look, you don't want me here. I don't want to be here. Let's figure this out. I said, my kids are in school until July. I don't remember what month this was. But my kids are in school till July, you pay me until July. I'll go away. You hire whoever you want to hire, but I'll be a resource for you and help you out. However I can. In the interim. They said, that's a good idea. Then that afternoon, I had papers in my hand and was packing up my desk. So that happens, and you know, my approach was, it's time to immediately start the job search. My job now is to find the next job. Apply to a bunch of places. You know, we'll get into specifics of where, who I talked to and all that stuff. But Taylor's Zarzer, who now is part of the management team on our PGA channel, but he was doing college sports radio at the time, and maybe a show on the Golf Channel, as well. He used to do afternoons in Charlotte. And we simulcast did that Charlotte show on our radio station in Raleigh said a little bit of a relationship with Taylor. So I saw Sirius XM was hiring different positions in the sports department, not the one that I got hired for. So I called Taylor. And I said, Hey, Taylor, I'm not asking you to put in a word for me, right? All I'd ask is that if you could just make sure my stuff gets on the desk of the person that's making the decision, who I didn't know at the time, Taylor said, You know what, I'll do my best. Within a couple of days. I got a call from Steve Cohen, who was the former's Senior VP of sports at Sirius XM, one of the smartest Sports Radio guys I've ever met. And he's now a consultant for us. Well, it was his assistant that called me to set up the call got on the phone with with Steve and we just shot the breeze about sports for an hour. I was the voice of the arena football team in Tampa he did a season calling arena football games in New Jersey for the New Jersey red dogs. Talked about different, you know philosophies of sport just not an interview, just shooting the breeze and it was an awesome conversation. It ended with Robert we'll be in touch. We want to bring you up to New York. The next week. I was in New York City, Brian Hamilton, who was a VP at the time Chris Eno. Met with me first in New York. Then went sat down with Steve Cullen started talking and he started asking me about all these different sports NASCAR. I'm like, Well, I grew up in Florida. You know whether you're a NASCAR fan or not the Daytona 500 is kind of in your blood, but it's a thing there and I became a NASCAR fan. I enjoyed it. Golf my time in played into golf, football. We just went back and forth. After the initial meeting, I met with Scott Greenstein, for a hot minute. Scott was awesome. Scott's just such a smart guy, when it knows when it comes in knowing what works in our business, went back to Steve's office. And he said, you know, you're hired and I'm like, okay, what's the job like and he said, to help make us better, that that's what I want you to do is help make us better. gotten the car on the way home called my wife, and I'm like, well, and he hired me to go to DC, the DC office call my wife said, we're moving to Washington, DC. She's like, What? Yeah, they hired me. Well, what are you doing? I said, I really don't know. And got the offer letter. The job title was director of sports programming in Washington, DC, and showed up there and went to work. That was that not really much of a, you know, a job description to follow. It was just go to work.


Matt Cundill  1:01:43

It's kind of like managing, you know, a bunch of podcasts as it were, like, we had Brian Goldmark on from locked on and that's what he does he manages like all these properties for no podcast in various markets, but just one of and here you are, you've got channels, but their channels are things that you've worked in before. Because as you mentioned, you know, golf, you have experienced with the SCC, and there's a channel for that, you know about talent, and you know, mad dog has his own channel, I believe. So you've got all this stuff and NASCAR was was another one, obviously a ton of NHL experience. So I'm not here to rehire you for your job again. But yeah, it makes sense.


Jason Dixon  1:02:23

What what I found was all of our pro, we've got a smart, smart group of programmers, one of the awesome things about Sirius XM is the first desire is to promote from within, right, that's, that's the mantra there is, let's do we have someone in our house that can do the job. And a lot of our program directors came up within the system of Sirius XM, and never worked in terrestrial radio, and didn't have some of those life experiences, you know, from a professional standpoint of that you get when you're a PD for first Fourth Station. And I think that was some of the color that I was able to provide for them is here's how we've done it in other places, and adjusting it to to what fits in satellite because the mission is different. For satellite radio, the most difficult part of the job was to tread lightly, knowing knowing I'm an outsider knowing that, you know, these people have been here doing the job well, for this long. Well, you know, what is he here for what's his, you know, and trying to make it clear to all those programmers, look, I'm just here to help. I have no desire to, you know, I'm not here to interfere with what you're doing. I'm just here to take the good work you're doing and try to find a way to make it a little better.


Matt Cundill  1:03:38

I'm not from radio to bring all the bad habits here.


Jason Dixon  1:03:41

Yeah, yeah and, you know, look, we don't get ratings, our jobs all every one of us that works at Sirius XM, our mission, our job is to get a subscriber to swipe a credit card for another month of Sirius XM. How we accomplish that is different. The people on our Golf Channel provide, you know, do it by providing best in class talk about golf, people on our, you know, soccer channel, same deal. You know, I'm not quite sure how I directly contribute to that, but I try my best. But that's our mission.


Matt Cundill  1:04:16

You say you don't get ratings, by the way, but you kind of do. That would be tech survey and Fred Jacobs. Were sort of shows the usage that their P one listeners would say yeah, I will dabble in to sports radio. Also Edison comes out with studies, as well. It shows a listing ship, but I think what's really important to let people know is that it's always going up. It's not like when people talk about the demise of radio going down and cume loss, that doesn't affect what you guys are doing.


Jason Dixon  1:04:49

No, um, you know, those are all data points for us and we do our own internal research as well. And part of my job, by the way is to keep track of the best practices As of terrestrial radio, you know, what are they doing? It's different. Because listening habits, right are the same, it doesn't matter what input button, you press on your car stereo, whether it's am FM, satellite, whatever, you know, if you're in the car for 12 minutes, you're in the car for 12 minutes. And that's that. But yeah, so, you know, it's interesting, we get all these different data points, you know, and we get broad research, we get narrow research on our on our channels, we take all those into consideration, but and we have streaming data, too. But really, none of those are true action items, right? We're never going to take a piece of research and decide to hire or fire our hosts based on that. Whereas with AMFM, you know, the Nielsen numbers aren't what they're supposed to be, well, maybe that's, you know, we need to make a change with that show. And our personnel changes, you know, I don't even want to get into personnel changes as much as look, it's the your test for us. It's Are we are we creating good radio that our subscribers want. And yeah, we do get that that feedback, but that's one of the things that I always talk with our program directors about is they have a thirst for information, they want data, they want to know, Hey, was that did people listen to that show and my message is always kind of be careful what you wish for. Because maybe that great show that passed the year test, or all of us didn't garner the numbers we thought it would be, it's not as significant to us, you know, the way we structure sports radio, we have an NFL channel and a soccer channel and a Golf Channel. We're super serving those audiences right. So as long as we're doing content that pleases the golf fan, we win. And when we're not, then then then we lose. But yeah, you're right, it is growing. We just had a big press event. Last week, as we record this, to launch our new app experience, which, you know, I'm fortunate enough to be involved with that and be in beta testing right now. And it's a game changer for our, our listeners, and discovery of content and that sort of thing. So yeah, it's only getting bigger, and I credit our company with realizing they just can't sit back and be, you know, the king of the car and the satellite radio side of things. They've got to be able people got to take the content with them. And and be, you know, that's keeping up with the Joneses. Right? And so, this is a huge step in that process. But yeah, it is growing, you know, it's growing and doing well.


Matt Cundill  1:07:26

Yeah, and so to that, you're not going to be getting rid of your EA Sports channel or fantasy sports. I mean, somebody always needs that information. So it's always going to be there. I mean, you just can't compare your NFL channel against your other ones.


Jason Dixon  1:07:39

No, and, and look, you know, from a local perspective, Wi Fi or the sports hub, right? They're going to be talking eagles and patriots or whatever, you know, we're going to be talking NFL, and we're going to be spending a segment on the Eagles. We can't compete with that we're not going to hyper localize them to death. But what we can do that, you know, maybe the local station can't is, you know, we got Phil Simms on, you know, talking about him or, you know, you know, on on you know, Coach K is talking college basketball on our college sports channel, you know, that's, that's the separator is we're not going out localized the local station. But we're going to have people credibility, talking in these various niches, niches, however, you're supposed to say it nowadays, at a high level that you're just not going to get anywhere else.


Matt Cundill  1:08:34

So from a technology perspective, because I've got a fun car upstairs, that I actually bought, so that I could play with the technology. And you know, Apple CarPlay was important to me. But now I want to make a jump to Sirius XM and bring that into the vehicle. Are you talking about changes that would just allow me to use an app in order to get access? Or do I still want to live on the satellite?


Jason Dixon  1:08:59

When ever anybody asks me about Sirius XM, the first thing I tell them is either get the app only subscription or make sure the app is included in your subscription, which it is and most of them, but yeah, I have. I drive I drive around Washington, DC. So I have a car that's like for city life, meaning it's gonna get dinged up. I have a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta that I drive around in that I put an aftermarket radio that has Sirius XM on it, but most of the time, I'm plugging in and using the car play version of the app, the new the new version of the app that launches on the 14th of December is just next level. Now I will say it's not going to be complete on the 14th it's, you know, version, a lot of what's going to build to be something really really great, but a huge leap and improvement but yeah, I would someone was asking me today The best way to go about becoming a Sirius XM subscriber, I would say by the Yep, subscription. If you've got a car you can plug your phone into, that's the way to go. Come the 14th of December, the experience will be greatly improved.


Matt Cundill  1:10:09

I can hear the podcast section of the audience kind of screaming, Is this why you kill the Stitcher app? And I'm like, maybe possibly, but it's also a good time to just ask you like, you know, Sirius XM has a podcast strategy, simple cast is a part of that, you know, Stitcher was a part of that. And how does it all integrate and come together for you guys?


Jason Dixon  1:10:31

So all this podcast contents available on the Sirius XM app. I got to double check to make sure this one is if not, it should be I know people that can make it happen.


Matt Cundill  1:10:42

But I'm in I'm in Pandora which which you guys own too.


Jason Dixon  1:10:45

Well, well, then you should be you should be good. But yeah, the idea is to make it an audio destination. One of the biggest challenges with Sirius XM, is people have their five, six presets, right, and that's where they go. But in reality, there is so much content available to them that the person doesn't know about. And that's where the app changes things. The app, you know, knows what you've listened to, we'll we'll recommend new things to you that you might not even know existed yet. It's there for you. Pretty, pretty wild tech, you know, as far as what I've seen so far in the beta testing, but I feel that the people that use the app go much deeper into what we have than just the people that listen to the radio. And, you know, that's, that's the goal is, you know, for us to keep people on their platform, we just want people to realize how much they're getting for their for their money that they're paying us each month. Yeah, you know, Howard's awesome, Howard is the goat, right. And if you love him, and FL, NFL is there, if you know, he loves the games, we have every game. But there's also this special because you know, Jimmy Fallon was in the studio the other day and doing this, and, you know, hey, you know, Will Ferrell dropped by to talk about that, that you may not ordinarily discover, but it's there for you. And that's that's where the app that the app comes in. And that's, by the way, one of my cents, I have to go to our New York, I have to, I go to our New York facility once a month, spend the day up there. And one of the great joys that I have is we have this video screen in the lobby that welcomes the different guest every day. And you know, being a guy came up in music, radio and pop culture and and all that stuff outside of just being sports guy. When I was there last Thursday, Jimmy Fallon was in the building. I'm a huge Prince fan and a while back, the revolution was there and I, you know, went to our PR folks, I'm like, I need to get a picture with the revolution. And, you know, just stuff like that. You just never know who's gonna be in there on a given day. Last month, I walked by Cardi B, I didn't. I probably couldn't kick Cardi B out of a lineup. But I like brush shoulders with her, the guy I was walking with was like, you just, you know, brush shoulders with Cardi B I'm like, Okay, that's cool. So that's, that's the stuff that's happening. Where we work now is is you know, on any given day, there's those type of people doing unique things on the radio. And our job is to help you discover that right?


Matt Cundill  1:13:20

Well, it's wild, what do you think about the future of terrestrial radio, as you see it from where you sit now, because you have so much experience with it doing doing the music, and then the sports and where it sits now, I get my updates every day from you know, from Jason Barrett, Barrett Sports Media, I can I can follow along and see it, but what do you see that I may not be seeing?


Jason Dixon  1:13:44

I love my brothers and sisters in am FM radio, I will never talk bad about those folks. The fact of the matter is, when you compare the product that FM AMFM. You know, let's just use talk or sports talk for as an example, when you compare the product, what they turn out versus what we turn out. Not saying just the content, the overall product. The bottom line is you can get in the car, and your entire commute could be a spot set, FM radio, right? We play commercials, it's not nearly as many I just feel. I know they have a business to run and I know it cost a lot to do it. But it just seems weird to me that when it comes time to figure out how to I don't know pay the bills that the the first instinct is let's get rid of the content creators not looking at it from the 10,000 foot view will crap you know there's 40 minutes of content in the hour. And even in that content we're you know that sponsored by this and ended by that I don't know the end Sir, but I just know the product isn't great right now. And the fun factor isn't there. Look, the 90s were a different time and the power pig is never going to come back. It's that's just a fact it. That was a time and place for that has passed. But our radio stations haven't fun anymore. In Detroit and this is early 2000s. We didn't have the rights to the lions. We couldn't be live at training camp. We went to the place that bordered the lions training camp asked if we could broadcast from there, rented a scissor lift. And, you know, put our host up on a scissor lift above lions training. That's the fun stuff. And I'm not saying peds aren't doing fun stuff. But like that fun factor, I just don't feel like it's very prevalent. It's very safe right now. It's very vanilla and you know, have some fun, bring smiles to people's faces. That's that's what I would, I would say, but I love my ammunition brothers. I really do. I, you know, I go to conferences. It's funny. You mentioned you see me at conferences, and it's, it's so funny. I feel sometimes like I'm the spy in the middle of the room. You know, they're going through all these presentations. And Sirius XM, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm like kind of hiding. But I love you guys. I really do. I'm not here to you know, take food off your plate, I want you to succeed. But yeah, man, it's just tough. And it's nobody's fault. There's a business to run and the economics of it suck. But the product just isn't great right now.


Matt Cundill  1:16:32

Yeah, it is costly. In Canada, we have a glut of sports, radio stations are on AEM. Because of you know, regulations, as it were, nobody took care of the regulations for 20 years. So we never got to move them over to FM. And now they're just closing them. Because they just cost money and I who am I to say anything because I wouldn't buy it for $1. And it's it's just that's where the technology is at. And if I were to run all the podcasts that I managed 24/7 I wouldn't be able to make any money back. It would just, it would cost so much.


Jason Dixon  1:17:05

Yeah, the economics of this is great. And, you know, what are the consumers been conditioned to? It's like, yeah, good content, cost money. And so, you know, most podcasts are on the the, you know, trying to use the business model being ad based. And it's a tough road, you know, that's a tough road to try to try to make your money back subscription services like ours. I don't know how many outside of the video streaming services, and Sirius XM, who's putting their stuff behind a paywall and making a ton of money right now? I'm not sure. It's just what the consumers expect. They want they want it free, because that's what they think it should be and that's it ain't free cost money.


Matt Cundill  1:17:46

Very difficult to charge for a podcast when there's 4 million that are free.


Jason Dixon  1:17:50

Right. And it's, you know, it is it's it's a tough, tough business. And I wish all them the best, the starting point seems to be how can we, you know, offset the cost and make revenue. It's almost like let's reset and strive to create the best product we can and then make money off of it, you know, and find out how we can monetize it just isn't going to work. And today's is I wish I had the NFL I guess I did have the answer. I probably wouldn't be sitting here talking to you today.


Matt Cundill  1:18:26

 I wouldn't have to do this podcast.


Jason Dixon  1:18:28

Exactly. But it's just you know, I love my people. I love the folks doing it, my friends. It's just the product is a difficult listen right now compared to what I listen to on a daily basis.


Matt Cundill  1:18:40

Jason, this marks the very end of me going to conferences and saying I really should do an episode with that guy.


Jason Dixon  1:18:46

Yeah, I know. Maybe we should have put this off a little longer. Just erase the tape and maybe next conference. No, this has been fun. And you know, in some ways, it's been like a therapy session. I listened to the call at your podcast all the time. I love hearing radio people talk about radio and the different perspectives that they bring. So you know, it's it's an honor that you asked.


Matt Cundill  1:19:14

Therapy, that'll be $195.


Jason Dixon  1:19:17

Well, hell while we were doing this, I paid 185 for the guy to fix my washing machine. So what's another couple 100 bucks.


Matt Cundill  1:19:28

Thanks, man.


Jason Dixon  1:19:29

Thank you.


Tara Sands (Voiceover)  1:19:29

The Sound Off podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill. Produced by Evan Surminsky, edited by Chloe Emond-Lane, social media by Aidan Glassey. Another great creation from the Sound Off Media Company. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.

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