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Why It Pays To Recycle

Jason Barrett

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It’s easy to lose sight of the audience’s needs when you’re laying out a game plan for your radio show. Usually a Host and Producer chat throughout the day about topic ideas. Then guests get booked, callers/social media reaction is introduced and along the way, a talk show tries to cover every single story that captured the host’s interest over the past 24 hours. There’s only one problem – what you’re talking about might mean something to you but not necessarily to your audience.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “less is more” at some point in your life and I’m a big believer in that same approach when it comes to creating a great talk show.

Let’s take Monday for example. I don’t care what market you’re in, the Ray Rice story needed to be a major part of your content focus. Every single audience can identify with the story and form an opinion on it. Issues such as wrong vs. right, corruption vs. justice, athlete’s getting preferential treatment and the future for all involved in the story, all resonate with people.

It’s a topic which is compelling, uncomfortable and emotional and if you’re doing your job as a host and producer, there are tons of angles to examine (see below). There are guests to be booked to advance the story, callers will want to share their points of view and there is audio galore to take advantage of from every single sports network on the planet. The bottom line, this is a piece of content that if presented well could carry your entire 3-4 hour show.

In my world, I like to look at a show as a collection of 1-hour programs. Some like to approach it with a 2-hour mindset and I understand that philosophy as well but those who operate as if the show is a 4-hour feature film are missing the point. I’ve used the line before “Sitcoms Not Movies” and it simply means you’ve got no more than 30-minutes to satisfy the listener. After that period of time, they’re gone.

Today, PPM shows us that listeners stay for shorter periods of time. I know you may want to believe that the audience shows up every day and stays for the entire program but the reality is that they don’t tune in for the beginning, middle and end of your show. They’re in and out frequently and it’s our job to try to and grab a quarter hour of listening when it’s available. If we’re good at our jobs, we’ll turn one quarter hour into two and if they really like us, they may also check back later in the show or on another day during the week.

During the days when radio was solely measured by diaries, people wrote down what they remembered listening to and the majority said that they were with us all the time. While that loyalty looked great on paper, it wasn’t realistic. While PPM certainly has its flaws in terms of not having enough meters in individual markets, it at least captures what your audience is consuming. You receive credit from your audience if they listen to a minimum of 5 minutes during a quarter hour and those minutes don’t have to be consecutive but they must occur during the windows of :00-:15, :15-:30, :30-:45, :45-:00. If they listen for 5 minutes straight but those minutes for example are :12-:15 and :15-:17, you get zero credit.

I point that out because when you’re outlining your show, you need to be thinking about who your listener is, where they’re likely listening to you and what their routine will be. If you’re doing a midday show, you’re likely the companion to the at-work listener or employee on the go. If you’re hosting during morning or afternoon drive, you’re the friend of the commuter. Each show has to have a different strategy based on how the audience uses the show.

Whatever the case, your priority should always be on delivering the content that matters to the majority of the audience at all times. If you’re offering the B-C-D topic right now because the A-topic was already discussed last hour, what are you telling that person who’s just put on your show? If it’s not your best material or something that appeals to a large portion of your audience then why is it on?

For example, yesterday in San Francisco it was the first Monday of the football season and there were three A+ subjects. We had the Ray Rice topic, the 49ers win on the road in Dallas with a sea full of red inside AT&T Stadium and the Raiders open up the Derek Carr era with a loss in New York. This isn’t to say that the A’s or Giants weren’t also a subject but in comparison to those other three options, the passion level for those subjects was smaller. If we spent thirty minutes of our talk time on subjects #4 and #5 and a person with a meter put us on seeking NFL content, we’d have disappointed them and sent them away quickly.

It’s easy to get caught up in your show and live inside the road map you’ve created and try to entertain yourself but remember that we are in this to gain listeners and deliver results for advertisers and it always comes down to presenting material that the majority can consume. The challenge (and fun) for the host and producer is to develop the angles that will keep the story fresh and deliver them differently each hour. While it may at times frustrate you, each time a new segment starts, the presentation is brand new to a new group of people and if they’re listening to you for the first time that day, you want to make sure to attack the content with a purpose and a strong degree of enthusiasm.

Keeping A Story Fresh For Multiple Hours (If each bullet point is discussed for 5-10 minutes, the story stays hot every hour)

Example – The Ray Rice subject

  • Did the NFL know about the tape? If not, why not? How could TMZ get access to it but not the NFL?
  • Why did an Atlantic City Prosecutor offer him a deal in light of this evidence? When did they know about the tape?
  • Why do we feel differently now about this than we did when the ruling came out? Did we not expect it to be this ugly?
  • How do you feel about the Ravens cutting him and the NFL suspending him indefinitely? Is the punishment severe enough?
  • Why would Janay Palmer marry him after being the victim of this type of abuse? What has Ray been doing to make things right?
  • ow will this situation effect future rulings on domestic violence involving NFL Players? Will those punishments now be changed?
  • How does this impact Roger Goodell’s position as NFL Commissioner? What should be done if we learn that he knew about the tape?
  • What does this mean for Ray Rice’s future? Would you want your team to take a chance on him? What does he have to do to rebuild your trust?

When you look back after each show, you should find yourself hitting the best subjects multiple times. Your audience changes frequently and anyone who tunes in, is going to be excited and curious to know what you think of the subjects that matter most on that particular day. While it’s natural to feel like you’ve “already covered that” earlier in the show, the good ones understand that recycling content is a good thing and you can’t go wrong presenting your views on the biggest local/national stories of the day as opposed to diving into lesser important subjects.

While you may look at your show and think “I’m taking a break from the top story because I’ve been on it for 30 minutes“, the material you sink your teeth into in place of it, is what the audience of that particular segment is going to measure you by. If you’re fortunate enough to be in a market where you have 2-3 great stories to work with, that can work. If though you don’t have that benefit, recycle your best work and exhaust the angles so they remain fresh and interesting to yourself and your audience.

Ask yourself this. If you were on the air in Baltimore today, would you have spent quarter hour of your show discussing the Orioles or another sports story when the entire market was red hot on the Ray Rice issue and looking to you for further insight and opinion on it? The only other subject that I could see making any sense would have been the actual Ravens game because it can tie back into the organization’s flaws, when they knew this material would surface, if it impacted preparation for the Bengals, how will this issue impact this year’s team, etc. Aside from that, there’s one story the local audience is coming to you for perspective on and it’s up to you to satisfy their craving.

If you watch baseball you’ve often heard announcers in the 9th inning of a game say “the closer doesn’t want to get beat with his secondary pitch” and the same principle applies to doing a radio show. Your best pitch is the story that appeals most to your local audience and the only one who controls the pitch selection is yourself.

I remember the great Joe DiMaggio once said “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best“. If you approached your content the same way during every segment of every show, how much better would your show and radio station be? If a great hitter has success at the plate, he’s going to do the same exact thing until the pitcher makes him adjust. Radio isn’t much different. The real question is whether or not we’re wise enough to stick with a winning formula until the audience requires a change!

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

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When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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