Connect with us
Register for the BSM Summit Now

Barrett Blogs

Discovering New Talent

Published

on

This week I had the privilege of spending a few days in Bristol, CT at ESPN among some of the brightest minds in the sports radio industry. As usual there was a ton of conversation on ways to improve our business but one specific question jumped out to me and it’s something I have a strong passion for – discovering new talent. Everyone has their own ideas on how to find new blood and introduce tomorrow’s sports radio stars to local audiences but for me this is something that I believe is critical for every person who programs a radio station.

risksafeMore times than not when you look around the industry, stations are quick to take the safest approach possible and hire familiar names and voices to the market rather than introduce someone who requires more explanation. It makes sense most times because familiar names draw quicker reaction from local audiences and when you add advertising dollars into the conversation, it’s easier to sell something familiar than something foreign. What gets lost in that equation though is that sometimes the short-term gain is not as strong as a long-term one and usually it takes a mixture of market proven performers and new exciting personalities to give a radio station a fresh feel.

As a programmer, it’s not easy to tell your bosses, staff and listeners to wait for future success and look at the big picture. We live in a “win now” society where people focus more on the next day than they do on the next year. I remember growing up watching baseball and you’d hear about players spending 5-6 years in the minor leagues before being brought up to the major leagues. Today, once a player shows an ounce of potential, he’s rushed up to the grand stage.

In radio, it’s not much different. We seek broadcasters who can get on the air and make an immediate impact, even if that isn’t always realistic. In a world where ratings are critical to deciding how advertisers invest in your brand, it’s imperative that when you introduce new talent to the marketplace that it works. Sometimes you’ll get some time to let someone develop but usually the leash you’re provided is very short.

I’ve been fortunate twice during my career to build new stations and have a chance to develop people slowly and in each situation, we had success. Once that success is obtained though, it becomes much harder to do that because people become accustomed to success and fearful of losing it as a result of change, especially if it involves unfamiliar personalities.

scoutWhen I think about the role of a Program Director as it applies to scouting and discovering talent, I compare it to the role of a professional scout in the NFL or MLB. There are tons of roads to navigate and some will work and some won’t but you’ve got to always be looking and planning for the “what if” scenario. Part of that includes consistent evaluating of people inside the industry as well as keeping an eye on those who display potential while climbing up the ladder.

Last week the NY Times published a piece on Derek Jeter which covered how the Yankees Shortstop was discovered in 1991. I found myself thinking of the numerous scenarios that have unfolded in my own career that have led me to finding talented people and putting them on the road to have great success. Clearly they had to have the ability to get the job done but someone also had to recognize their talent, take a chance on hiring them and provide them with the tools, coaching and positive reinforcement necessary to help them.

In this piece, the scout (Dick Groch) talks about how he wasn’t even supposed to attend the camp where he discovered Jeter but yet when he watched him perform, he knew instantly that he had the tools that would translate to the highest level. In my business we call this “having an ear” or an “eye for talent“. There’s no way he could have known for sure that Derek Jeter would play 20 years in the big leagues, win 5 world titles and become a future hall of famer but his instincts told him this was a kid worth going to bat for. By doing so, the Yankees front office performed further evaluations and ultimately agreed with the reports and selected Derek when the chance to draft him was presented.

Colin Cowherd ESPN RadioWhen you think of sports radio, we don’t get an annual draft but there are plenty of Derek Jeter’s out there. One example comes immediately to mind. Scott Masteller was sharp enough to recognize Colin Cowherd’s talents in Portland and provide him with an opportunity to do local radio. Bruce Gilbert was smart enough to recognize what Scott saw and bring Colin to ESPN Radio. Obviously Colin had to be uniquely talented in order to earn those opportunities but even a great talented individual needs someone who’s willing to take a chance on him.

The problem I see sometimes in our business is that not everyone takes the time to look for new talent or take the risk of hiring someone unproven. Instead there’s a lot of people waiting for their doors to be knocked on or resumes and airchecks to show up in their emails and quite frankly, I don’t believe that you find the world’s best talent that way. Sure there will be some diamonds that come through the system that way but there are plenty of other options to exhaust as well. Unfortunately it’s much more dangerous to risk your own position on the unknown than it is to take the chance on someone who’s familiar.

If you watched the remake of the movie of “The Longest Yard” with Adam Sandler, there’s a scene (see video below) where Sandler goes to the basketball court to try and recruit Michael Irvin who’s seen as an intimidating guy and top notch athlete. When Sandler makes the comment “This guy must be quite the athlete huh“, Irvin responds with “You risked bringing your ass in the jungle because you know I am“. When I think of that scene, I can draw an easy parallel to sports radio because if you want to find great personalities, you’ve got to be willing to look in many different places. The great ones don’t usually apply through your company’s website, they expect you’ll find them when needs arise.

http://youtu.be/de2Rv5eijvA

I was talking with Chris “Hoss” Neupert who programs 101 ESPN in St. Louis (my former station) and this subject came up and he mentioned how former St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Brad Thompson has done a great job adjusting to the business and has become a strong personality on his station on his afternoon show. If Chris had waited for an application, resume or demo tape from Brad, he’d never have received one. It’s not like former St. Louis Cardinals players are sending in applications on a daily basis.

bradthompsonChris recognized Brad’s ability to communicate intelligently and passionately, explored a few conversations with him, gave him a few looks filling in and observed that Brad had an ability to do this job. Once he knew Brad was ready to move on from his baseball career and pursue a second career in the sports radio industry and a change took place inside his radio station, a move was made to bring him in. He’s since been rewarded by Brad’s show (which includes Randy Karraker and D’Marco Farr) being rated #1 in the St. Louis market in afternoon drive.

Speaking for myself, I’ve gone about things the same way. My job is to constantly be looking for talented people and think of how to best utilize them on my radio station if a future situation comes up. Major market audiences might not have been treated to the radio talents of Chris Duncan, Aubrey Huff, Eric Davis, Ric Bucher, Rick Venturi, Tony Softli, Zack McCrite, Meredith Marakovits, Rob Ellis, Guy Haberman or many others had I not been looking in various places to find good talent. This is something I take a lot of pride in and actively spend time doing. While I may miss from time to time, I never stop trying.

So when it comes to finding new talent, how does one do it? Where do you go to look? Is there some magical formula available to make it work? The answer of course is no but getting the job done is possible and yet it requires exploring a variety of possibilities. Let me share a few examples of ways I’ve done it that I think can help in the future and if you’re an on-air talent or aspiring broadcaster reading this, I encourage you to pay attention to this too because you never know when that call could be coming your way.

promotionDevelop From Within – Producers, Board Ops, Interns and others inside your building are going to spend more time learning the ins and outs of your product better than anyone else. Most times, guys reach a certain level in their careers and begin thinking about the next challenge. While some aren’t cut out to be on the air, some are and for those who possess a solid voice, good knowledge and a decent idea of what goes into doing a talk show after working on your key shows for a while, they certainly deserve consideration.

For example, in Seattle at 710 ESPN, Program Director and On-Air Host Mike Salk looks for producers who have an ability to help produce shows while also sharing a passion to do on-air work. He’ll reward them with some air time in lesser important time slots and that’s helpful for people having a chance to grow.

One of my current on-air personalities Zakariah spent six months interning for me and working on his delivery, hosting and update skills inside a production room before I gave him his first shot to hit the airwaves. I saw his passion and commitment to improve and I heard progress and he earned my trust to hit the air on a weekend shift and eventually do it consistently. He’s since gone on to host nights, weekends, weekday fill-ins and afternoon updates.

Businessman looking through binocularsSearch Other Markets – My current 10a-12p host Guy Haberman was doing afternoons in Fresno, CA when I first heard him. The market was small but provided a great opportunity for him to get reps and those reps helped him develop. When I had an opening on our night show pop up, I brought him in for an audition and he did a nice job and it was an easy decision to hire him. Had I not taken the time to listen to him though on my own (and have my APD Jeremiah Crowe do so too), he’d have never been brought in for an audition. Because I believe in scouting, we found ourselves a pretty great on-air host who people enjoy listening to.

It doesn’t always have to be smaller markets either. People who live 60-120 miles away from the big city typically aspire to make it to bigger markets but so do people in other markets. Sometimes there’s a personal connection to a certain city. Sometimes they see a certain city as a great move for their career and other times they’re drawn to your location because of positive feedback they’ve heard about your brand from people they like and respect in the business. I’ve lured guys to work for me due to all three of those scenarios. Regardless, I always keep an eye out on other markets and who performs in them and I try to form my own opinions on who has the style and attributes that fit well with my market.

Additionally, I’ll give my APD Jeremiah out of market listening assignments from time to time and I’ll do some myself too. First it’s helpful because sometimes you get ideas of other cool things people are doing on-air to create good radio. Secondly it’s positive because it allows you to discover who’s extremely talented. Third, it can teach you what you don’t like about certain styles or introduce you to others on a show/station that you might not have been familiar with.

I’ll add one last thing on this for on-air talents, be focused and approach your show with passion and enthusiasm each day. You have no idea who is listening to you or when they’re listening to you and if tomorrow you discovered that your worst segment was the one heard by someone who could have made you rich and successful for the rest of your life, are you going to be able to sleep at night? Probably not. You control your presentation and consistency and you owe it to yourself to make sure you’re on at all times. It can be the difference between landing a major opportunity or being quickly forgotten.

createCreating Promotions – In San Francisco I ran a contest called “Lucky Break” and in other markets similar promotions have been created to find undiscovered talent. These things work great sometimes and other times they don’t but I’ve always said that if American Idol hadn’t existed the entire music business would be without Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson so what do you have to lose?

While those artists aren’t really my cup of tea, they’ve all sold tons of records and if they didn’t perform, the record label could have easily dropped them. Since then we’ve seen other shows become hits such as The Voice and X-Factor and they all had one thing in common, discovering new musical talent.

As it applies to the radio station, you can only benefit by doing this. You have the chance to discover a hidden gem but if that doesn’t happen, you can also cut bait with the winner quickly. It doesn’t exactly have to be done on the air either. The reward can be a one-day talk show, an update anchor shift, a podcast, a produced talk show inside a production room or something else. You’ll be amazed at how much response you get from local people who want to be part of what you do. If luck breaks your way, you’ll find a few new exciting voices to feature.

Take a second and look at how many TV shows today are doing this. Whether it’s Shark Tank, Top Chef, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent or any other similar program dominating television today, the need for great talent exists in all forms of business. If other outlets see value in looking for undiscovered talent, maybe it makes sense for you to do so too!

youtubeThe Power of YouTube – Voice talent Jim Cutler brought this up a few years ago at a Sports Radio conference I was at in Phoenix and he was dead on. First of all, YouTube allows people to get reps and develop their own following and that’s such a great advantage compared to what was available to people 10-20 years ago. If someone has passion, a unique style and an ability to speak, I’m a firm believer that it will stand out regardless of the forum.

When I was paying my dues and trying to get better at hosting talk shows, I had to work in a production room, host a weekly weekend shift or voice commercials just to get reps. The only thing you could do back then was perform play-by-play while playing a video game. Today, people have many more advantages to continue practicing and if they’re willing to put it on display for you to evaluate, why not look at it?

As an example, my current morning update anchor Anna Kagarakis on 95.7 The Game, had a number of local television videos on YouTube. When I had a need for a new anchor, I reviewed her work, watched it, liked her style and energy and reached out to chat. If I hadn’t utilized YouTube, she might not have wound up on my radio station.

An even more unlikely scenario was my discovery of Clayton Miller. I was looking for someone who does sports voices to contribute to my morning show and aside from Frank Caliendo (who’s brilliant but very busy), I knew it would be difficult to find someone who fit the bill. Thanks to YouTube, I landed on Clayton’s page and after laughing at a number of his impressions and running his work by a few of our guys, I reached out to him to discuss doing a few calls to see how things go. We’ve since used him on our morning show a bunch of times and had it not been for YouTube I would not be aware of him.

networkingNetworking – This industry has thousands of people in it and those who are good at it can recognize others who are good at it or on the right track to doing so. When I get a call, email or social media message from someone I know, respect and trust in the industry suggesting that I look at someone for possible future employment, I’ll usually follow up on it. I might not always hire the person and sometimes I may disagree with their evaluation but I will usually check into it. My belief is that a professional person is not going to risk their reputation to send me bad advice because they don’t want their own name soiled.

For those of you reading this who are pursuing opportunities, I encourage you to get to know PD’s other than when you’re pursuing them for a job. I also recommend chatting with other on-air talent, producers and anchors in the industry to pick their brains too. When you become familiar with people, it strengthens your views on them and if you’re going to move for a new job and work for certain people, I always believe it’s better to know what you’re getting into.

theboxExplore Unconventional Places – Look around the industry today and take a look at how many athletes perform on the air. I’ll bet you 90% of them didn’t apply for a job or show up at the radio station’s door requesting a few minutes with the PD. In most cases the PD paid attention to how the athlete spoke during their career and they got feedback from their own people, the athlete’s agent and gave the athlete a chance to come in, do a few shifts and see how things go.

Why do guys from the sports world matter? Because your audiences already know them and support them and if they have the ability to perform in this medium, they’re likely to command an instant audience. None of that matters though if you don’t keep an ear on them while they’re going through their careers.

Also to be considered is looking for people with unique and interesting backgrounds. For example, Joe Beningo on WFAN was a passionate caller from Saddle River, NJ who was given a chance to do a one time show on the station as a result of winning a contest. That led to him getting some formal training at Connecticut School of Broadcasting and doing a show on a small station in Elizabeth, NJ before WFAN offered him a chance to do overnights. He’s now hosting middays from 10a-1p and has been with WFAN for 20 years. If he doesn’t call the radio station, he’s never discovered.

If you look around our business today you’ll see guys like Jay Mohr who has a background in movies and comedy, Steve Gorman who plays music for the Black Crowes, Dave Dameshek who has done comedy writing and performing plus many other on-air personalities who have transitioned from other radio formats to the sports talk radio scene. Great talent can come from anywhere so whether you’re at the bar, a comedy club or listening to a radio station that doesn’t do sports, never close your mind or your ears to a different possibility.

To sum this up, we work in a business where change is frequent yet new options seem limited. To keep moving forward, we’ve got to keep hunting for great personalities because they are the number one reason why our format works. To suggest people aren’t interested in this line of work or that younger talented people aren’t out there is rubbish. They are but it requires more than waiting for the phone to ring or emails to appear in your inbox. The real question is, are you willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to find them?

Barrett Blogs

Where Are The Sports Radio Programmers of Tomorrow?

“As someone who’s helped many aspiring programmers over the years, I’ve seen less new people seeking out advice the past few years than they did from 2011-2019.”

Published

on

Photo Credit: Roman Gorielov

I don’t get the opportunity to write as often as I’d like to. Consulting projects make that harder these days but I do miss it. Fortunately I’ve been able to assemble a quality team to deliver news and industry opinions to your inbox and social media platforms each day. If you receive our emails, then you should notice one of those improvements today with our BSM 8@8 Newsletter. If you aren’t receiving our emails and would like to, click here to sign up.

The reason I chose to write today is because there’s one specific area of our industry that I’m concerned about and need to draw attention to. That’s the emergence of tomorrow’s sports radio program directors.

If you work in or follow this business, can you recall a year during the past decade where we saw more programming changes in sports radio than this one? I can’t. WFAN in New York, WEEI in Boston, KNBR in San Francisco, WIP in Philadelphia, Arizona Sports 98.7 in Phoenix, ESPN 97.5 in Houston, 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, 750 The Game in Portland, ESPN 94.5 in Milwaukee, The Fan in Indianapolis, 107.5 The Game in Columbia, ESPN Las Vegas, 1620 The Zone in Omaha, and 98.1 The Sports Animal in Oklahoma City have or are soon to undergo PD changes. This follows a year where 101 ESPN in St. Louis, 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, WFNZ in Charlotte, and 680 The Fan and 92.9 The Game in Atlanta changed programming leaders. 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, ESPN 1000 in Chicago, 710 ESPN in Seattle, and ESPN LA 710 went thru changes too in the fall of 2019.

Twenty three brands undergoing change at the top of a station’s programming department in that short period of a time is an eye opener. But what really stands out are the lack of new faces to arrive on the PD scene let alone even come up during the interviewing process.

For every Rick Radzik, Amanda Brown, Kyle Brown and Qiant Myers who were elevated to PD positions over the past two years, there are proven leaders like Kevin Graham, Jeff Rickard, Tommy Mattern, and Terry Foxx who’ve landed in new situations. Those folks absolutely deserve those positions, so let me be clear, proven PD’s should always be valued. As I’ve told many decision makers before, a great PD is a difference maker. The film industry pays big money for Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese and Quintin Tarrantino because their track record highlights their abilities to deliver box office hits. Proven PD’s who can do the same for a radio station deserve similar respect.

But if you’re a younger person looking to advance your career into a programming role today, how do you take that next step let alone earn the nod when more experienced people want the same gig? Who’s advocating on your behalf? How would a corporate executive or market manager know that a producer, board op, promotions director or part-time host is capable of becoming the next great programmer?

Better yet, how does any corporate executive or market manager running a local brand know anything about your management style, vision, multi-platform skills, ability to lead people and work with multiple departments, and create exciting content, events and promotions if you’re working for another company in a different city? Here’s the answer, most times, they don’t. You apply for the job, your resume and email arrives in their inbox, which leads to them asking others about you. If someone you’ve crossed paths with says something good about you, you might get a call. If not, your materials go on file should the station have future needs.

Having led PD searches for a number of brands the past few years, I think the first step is finding out who’s interested in growing. Does anyone know of your desire to one day lead a brand besides the host you work with and the programmer you work for? Who have you sought out to gain knowledge and mentorship from outside of your building? Are you counting on an internal promotion to become a leader or assuming your PD will hype you up to potential employers? What are you doing to make sure the right people know you’re hungry to take the next step and you’re ready to go wherever an opportunity exists?

As someone who’s helped many aspiring programmers over the years, I’ve seen less new people seeking out advice the past few years than they did from 2011-2019. Maybe folks don’t think to come my way as much. Maybe they assume the company they’re working for will take care of them when the time comes. Maybe they don’t have the motivation to relocate or upset their current situation. Maybe the pandemic forced folks to press pause on pursuing advancement. Or maybe the role of a program director isn’t as appealing as it was to leaders from my era.

Some assume that because they’ve been successful at producing, and have done it for a long enough time, it means they’re ready for the next step. But programming is much more than managing a show. Not everyone is built to handle a verbal lashing from a market manager, balance a budget, negotiate deals, coach high profile talent, understand and examine PPM ratings, and unify departments. Let’s not forget interactions with corporate, being multi-platform skilled, knowing how to study and attack the competition, dealing with negative PR, and being the brand leader who keeps play by play partnerships in a healthy state.

If you’re behind the scenes in the sports radio industry, your path will most likely lead to becoming either a host, PD, moving into sales/marketing/imaging/digital/corporate or leaving the business. Top 10 markets and national networks are an exception as there are some very talented producers who’ve continued to work with top shows/stations for a long time. Both invest more in off-air positions. In many other cases, the financial upside for behind the scenes help is limited so eventually you reach a fork in the road when you have to decide the best path forward to make a decent living.

But those looking to take the next step don’t often think about positioning themselves to land the next big opportunity. They don’t take time to build relationships with key executives who they’ll one day interview with for a top job. Instead they think about that day’s show and the immediate tasks at hand. You can be the most creative, multiplatform savvy, best guest booker and strongest talent coach in America as a producer but if nobody else knows it outside your building, it’s going to be hard to take the next step. Which is why you have to make time to help yourself. You can start by emailing me. That can’t hurt.

Program directors have a responsibility here too. They should be making time to teach and push their behind the scenes people to want to advance their careers. They should also be telling anyone who will listen why one of their own is ready for the next step. Not enough do that. I can count on one hand the number of PD’s who’ve come to me championing one of their own for a top programming job over the past six years since I began helping stations find PD’s. Just going thru the interview process can be huge for an off-air professional who dreams one day of leading a brand. It helps them learn what to expect, how to present themselves, which areas they need to improve on in order to make the jump and most importantly, it shows them you care about them and their professional development.

I know that the job is busier today than ever for a PD and finding time is a pain in the ass. But coaching people is one of your biggest strengths. It’s why why you’ve been trusted to lead your brand. When twenty three positions open up and more than half require hiring elsewhere in the country and turning to folks inside different companies, that should raise eyebrows. Have you told others to consider someone on your staff? Did you push for them to be interviewed, even if they weren’t the right fit because you knew it’d serve them well later? Did you invest time in them to to make sure they were ready for the next step? And that doesn’t mean just giving them the crap you hate like filling out affidavits, building clocks, and corresponding with the traffic department.

Have you conducted 1 on 1’s with all of your off-air crew and learned who aspires to one day do what you do? Have you taught them how to analyze ratings and content? Sit in on show meetings? Critique talent? Recruit future staff? Participate in creative brainstorms or sales meetings? Have you told your GM or other high ranking executives or PD’s in your company about their passion to lead?

It should go without saying that if you’re in a position to lead and develop people, that it applies to more than just on-air talent. It should include grooming future programmers too. Any executive with oversight of your brand should be asking “who on your staff is ready to take a step?” If the answer is no one, they should be asking what your plan is to change that so the answer is different the next time they ask. If you’re skilled enough to lead a brand for years or even decades, those above you should want to protect the future by having you develop the next crop of programmers too. Your report card as a PD isn’t complete if all you can point to are good quarterly ratings. There are plenty of brands who’ve won in spite of their PD and others who have lost despite having an elite program director.

By the way, shouldn’t a PD want to see people inside their operations get called upon to take the next step? As hard as I pushed my crew to perform in St. Louis and San Francisco, when one got an opportunity to become a PD, APD or EP I was proud as hell. There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing someone you have mentored, challenged and cared about take their career to a higher level. If you spend years in the position and have producers and assistant programmers not landing opportunities, let alone receiving calls to be interviewed for openings, you should be asking yourself ‘what haven’t I done to get them to that next level’ and ‘do I have the right people here who want to grow?’.

Lastly, I recognize everyone is under pressure to add good help. A station operating without a leader in the programming department creates a lot of problems, especially when it lingers for months. But you also need to find the right people or you end up with bigger problems later, most notably, others questioning your ability to hire the right people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned going thru these processes with different companies is that often times, decision makers want to move fast and find people who are referred by others they know and respect. If they hear a few good things said in conversation by a candidate that match what they value, they’re ready to move forward. Some get caught up in resumes or similar experiences/interests but not all ask the right questions and research people well. It’s amazing what you’ll learn if you investigate properly and ask questions that make folks uncomfortable. If you’re going to trust someone to lead your brand and staff, and set the tone for your operation, spending the extra time to be sure about those you hire is absolutely necessary.

Taking a chance on the APD or smaller market PD isn’t as safe as hiring a veteran leader. If you have a proven winner interested in your opening and feel confident that they fit your needs, I’m all for them being hired. But don’t make the mistake of assuming someone with less experience can’t make a greater difference. Imagine if we were back in 2004 and you passed on Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg in favor of a proven Newspaper editor to lead your brand’s digital strategy. How would you look today? That could be your radio station in five years if you overlook those with an ability to see the future better than the present when future openings arise.

To grow this format we need a mixture of new blood, new ideas, people who view the audio business differently from those in the present or past, and proven performers who’ve helped turn this format into a very successful one. We have to ask the right questions, fully research candidates, challenge our executives and programmers to take a greater interest in developing the next crop of sports radio executives, and consider new roads rather than the ones we’re most familiar with. We also need to hear from people who haven’t told us of their interest in taking the next step. We need to encourage them to want to grow and show them the path to do so. If we each do those things better, our format is going to spend a lot more time thriving and less time surviving in the years ahead.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

John Skipper To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit

“In January 2021, Skipper’s plate became even more full when he reunited with Dan Le Batard to create Meadowlark Media. Since joining forces, the group has raised millions of dollars in funding, lured key talent to join the brand, and in April, Meadowlark closed a deal with DraftKings for a reported fifty million dollars over three years. Not too shabby for year #1.

Published

on

Putting on a two-day industry conference comes with a fair share of challenges. Months are spent building sessions, selling sponsorships, and talking to so many people that by the time the event rolls around, all I can think about is reaching the finish line and avoiding major issues.

But then the event happens, and there are moments where I’m able to block out the noise for 30-40 minutes and just be present in conversation. It’s what I enjoy most. Being able to sit across from an industry leader who’s been successful in business, and pick their brain on the past, present and future of our industry is both personally and professionally fulfilling. Not only does it provide me with an education, but it helps everyone in attendance too. That’s my motivation for running this conference.

When we return to New York City on March 2-3, 2022, I’m thrilled to share that I’ll have a chance to do that once again with someone I’ve professionally respected and admired for a long time. It is an honor to announce that Meadowlark Media CEO John Skipper will join us for a special on stage conversation at the 2022 BSM Summit.

If you’ve worked in this industry or aspire to, then you’re likely aware of what John has accomplished. He’s seen the business from many different points of view and remains very much involved in helping shape its future. But before we discuss his present involvement, let’s revisit the past.

During his tenure with ESPN, John spent five years serving as company president where he secured a series of long-term, multiplatform agreements with key rightsholders such as the NBA, NFL, MLB, Major College Conferences, US Open Tennis, FIFA, the Masters Tournament and British Open, the College Football Playoff, and the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls. He also oversaw the evolution of several brands including The Undefeated, Grantland, five thirty eight, and espnW among others.

Prior to becoming company president, John held the position as EVP of Content, which he earned after helping create and introduce one of the most successful magazine launches of the 1990’s with ESPN The Magazine. His understanding and belief in digital helped ESPN move ESPN. com forward in 2000, adding a paid section, ESPN Insider, and delivering a revamped site approach to generate more advertising. His foresight also spurred the launch of ESPN3, a television network producing more than 4,000 live events on the web and through mobile devices. If that wasn’t enough, John also supported the creation of the Watch ESPN app, played a key role in elevating the careers of many of the industry’s top sports media stars today, and oversaw the growth of ESPN Films, ESPN Radio, and many of ESPN’s key television programs.

After exiting the worldwide leader, John signed on as the Executive Chairman of DAZN. In January 2021, Skipper’s plate became even more full when he reunited with Dan Le Batard to create Meadowlark Media. Since joining forces, the group has raised millions of dollars in funding, lured a number of key talent to become part of the brand, and established a strong presence in podcasting and on YouTube. In April, Meadowlark closed a deal with DraftKings for a reported fifty million dollars over three years. Not too shabby for year #1.

What I’ve appreciated about John is that he’s never been afraid to roll the dice and take risks. Some of his moves have worked out, others haven’t. The wins have been recognized across the industry, but so too have the losses. He’s had to lead a company thru high profile talent controversies, cord cutting challenges, understand the world of video, audio, print, digital, advertising, subscriptions, talent, and rights deals both domestic and internationally, all while keeping his finger on the pulse of the present state of the media business while turning an eye towards the future and knowing which areas the company should make significant investments in.

John has been thru all of it as a media executive, and he’s still doing it while building the Meadowlark brand. A recent story in Bloomberg captured some of his views on growing the Le Batard empire and navigating various parts of the industry. I highly recommend taking time to read it. You can do that by clicking here.

We have five and a half months until we’re inside the Anne Bernstein Theater in New York City, so who knows where the industry will shift during that time. One thing is for certain, John Skipper will be ready for whatever lands on his doorstep. I’m eager to spend time with him in New York treating industry professionals to his insights, opinions and leadership lessons. I’m confident those in attendance will gain value from hearing his perspectives on the industry.

I invite you to join us either in person or virtually for the 2022 BSM Summit. Tickets to the event can be purchased by clicking here. For information on sponsorship opportunities, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

2022 BSM Summit Adds Pablo Torre, Joe Fortenbaugh, Kazeem Famuyide & John Jastremski

“By the time March’s conference rolls around, we’ll have somewhere between 50-60 people announced to participate at the two day Summit.”

Published

on

The announcements continue for the 2022 BSM Summit. After recently sharing the news that former ESPN Radio executive Traug Keller would join us in the big apple to accept the Jeff Smulyan Award, and previously revealing the first fourteen participants scheduled to appear, it’s time to inform you of a few key talent who will participate in sessions at March’s show.

I’m thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Pablo Torre to the 2022 BSM Summit. Pablo’s been with the worldwide leader since 2012. During that time he’s served as a senior writer for ESPN.com, the host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and has appeared on shows such as Around The Horn, Highly Questionable, and The Dan Le Batard Show. He also previously co-hosted High Noon with Bomani Jones. Prior to joining ESPN he spent five years writing for Sports Illustrated. Having worked with a mixture of talent from various backgrounds, I’m looking forward to having him share his insight and opinions on the value of it at the show.

Pablo isn’t the only ESPN personality joining us in New York for the conference. I’m excited to welcome back a great friend and one of the smartest sports betting analysts on television, Joe Fortenbaugh. Joe is regularly featured on ESPN’s sports betting program Daily Wager. He also appears on other ESPN programs and segments on television, radio and digital platforms. Prior to joining the network he hosted 95.7 The Game’s morning show in San Francisco, and hosted “The Sharp 600″ sports betting podcast. He’ll moderate a conversation with sports betting executives at the show.

Given that this two-day sports media conference is taking place in the heart of New York City, it’d be silly to not include someone who’s passion, energy, sound, and content embody what New York is all about. The Ringer’s John Jastremski will make his BSM Summit debut in 2022. The ‘New York, New York’ host is known to many for his years of contributions on WFAN. It’ll be fun picking JJ’s brain on the differences between performing on a traditional platform and the digital stage.

Jastremski isn’t the only one with a connection to The Ringer who will participate at our 2022 event. My next guest is someone who I’ve followed on YouTube and Twitter for years, has infectious energy and likeability, and has taken his life experiences and sports passions and turned them into opportunities with MSG Network, SNY, The Ringer, Bleacher Report, WWE, The Source and various other outlets. Kazeem Famuyide will join us to shed light on his journey and offer his perspective on the value of traditional vs. non-traditional paths.

By the time March’s conference rolls around, we’ll have somewhere between 50-60 people announced to participate at the two day event. I’ll be announcing the addition of a very special executive in mid-October, as well as a few high profile speakers and awards recipients in the weeks and months ahead. I’m appreciative of so many expressing interest in speaking at the conference, and as much as I’d like to include everyone on stage, I can’t. Keeping the Summit informative, fresh and focused on the right issues is important, and to do that, I’ve got to introduce different people, perspectives and subjects so our attendees gain value to further improve the industry.

A reminder, the 2022 BSM Summit is strictly for members of the sports media industry and college students aspiring to work in the business. It brings together people from more than thirty different media companies and focuses on issues of relevance and importance to media industry professionals. The show takes place March 2-3, 2022 in New York at the Anne Bernstein Theater on West 50th Street. Tickets and hotel rooms can be secured by visiting BSMSummit.com. For those unable to attend in person, the Summit will also be available to view online. Virtual tickets can be purchased by clicking here. Hope you’ll join us!

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.