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The Final Day In The Bay

Jason Barrett

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This is it. The final day has arrived. When the work day comes to a close, I’ll be walking out of the offices of 95.7 The Game for the very last time. That doesn’t mean I won’t visit in the future, because this place has been a huge part of my life for the past 4 years. I have a deep respect, admiration, and love for many people inside these walls, but like with many things in life, all good things must eventually come to an end.

peetsIt’s funny how when you know you’re leaving somewhere, you start to pay closer attention to some things that you might have taken for granted previously. For example, I love taking BART each morning and grabbing a coffee at Peet’s at the Montgomery Street exit. Sean, Chris and the rest of the crew are always in a good mood, they treat their customers right and they make it a point to get to know you. It’s hard not to see that group of upbeat friendly people working together as a team each day, and not recognize how important that is in what we do as a radio station.

I also started to realize recently how much I enjoyed driving into work and parking in our garage on Hawthorne during my first 3 years here. The reason why, KNBR was right next door (they’ve since moved to another location). I don’t need much to motivate me, but walking out of our garage and seeing that KNBR sign stare me right in the face each day absolutely fired me up and got me ready to go to work and try to make an impact.

There are a number of great things about this place that I’m going to miss. From walking the Embarcadero, to dining out and shopping in Walnut Creek, to experiencing the views of San Francisco from the top of the Fairmont Hotel and the hills above the Golden Gate Bridge. Wine tasting in Livermore and Napa Valley was also a personal highlight. But as great as all of those perks are, it’s the people you work with who occupy most of your time, and I’ve been fortunate to form a few relationships that will always matter a great deal to me.

2012-04-04 001 005When I reflect back, I can’t say that it’s gone according to plan from start to finish. Yes there are things I would do differently, but when I think of my entire tenure and everything I’ve learned, gained and experienced here, I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished as a team. To go from 27th to 3rd in less than 4 years is a remarkable feat in the #4 market in the country. That’s a tribute to everybody who’s ever worked here, and to every local person who listened, supported, connected and rooted for us to succeed. Thanks for sticking with us!

It may seem simple but as someone who’s done it a number of times, I can tell you that adjusting to a new city is not easy. It takes a good amount of time to get up to speed with local teams, players, media people and fans and that’s not even taking into account which pieces of content connect best and which ones have a lesser importance.

Next, you have the challenge of learning the area and how local people think and live and if you’re not fully willing to embrace your new surroundings and learn from those you work with, it won’t end well. I didn’t even mention the pressure you feel to perform immediately because the company is depending on you or the internal and external criticisms you have to put up with because of the fact that you were born and raised someplace else.

IMG_7456I didn’t come to the Bay Area trying to change people, but I did try to teach, coach and push them to become better at creating strong, compelling and entertaining radio. While there was a previous standard in place for how sports radio was done in San Francisco, I also believed that there were other ways to create interest in the format too. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t, but we created our own path and did it our way. Bill Parcells and Tony Dungy can both win you a Super Bowl! You’ve just got to decide which identity suits you best.

I will always remember this time fondly and I’m honored to have had the opportunity to build this radio station from scratch and work with a number of amazing and talented people. To see people like Damon Bruce, Guy Haberman, John Middlekauff, John Lund, Greg Papa, Flight 957, and every other member of this team, have the success they’re having is very rewarding and well deserved. My successor Don Kollins is walking into a great situation, and I will be rooting for him and everyone inside this building from 3,000 miles away.

I wanted to touch on a few things I’ve learned that have made it interesting, unique, enjoyable and challenging to work here the past few years. The Bay Area is a 2-team market which can be hard to navigate at times because you’re always going to piss off at least one fan base. For what it’s worth, these are my views on the local dynamics, and some will disagree, but isn’t that part of what makes sports radio great in the first place?

GAGiants vs. A’s – The Giants fan doesn’t care or mind if you talk about the A’s but when the situation is reversed, the A’s fan views it as the biggest slap in the face. On the field, the A’s have been a great story the past 3 years. The only problem is that the Giants have stolen their thunder every single time. 3 World Series championships in 5 years is impressive and yes I’m aware that the A’s have won more titles in their franchise’s history but we live in a “what have you done for me lately” world and right now, the market belongs to the Giants. Yes they’ve created a number of silly gimmicks and slogans, and maybe if you don’t have kids you could care less about the oversized Coke bottle in left field, but Larry Baer and his group are phenomenal marketers and they run their business well.

On the other hand, Billy Beane is one of the best in baseball at his job and as long as he’s in Oakland, the A’s will always be in the mix to contend. His decisions may not be popular but he’s great at his job. He’s also pretty great on the radio too! There are three areas though where I disconnect from the A’s. The first is when Lew Wolff speaks about stadium situations and spending money to win. The second is when A’s fans invade Twitter or Facebook with negativity because the Giants were talked about on our radio station. I understand their passion for wanting more, but just because one station only talks about the Giants, doesn’t mean the other one is going to only talk about the As. Third, the stadium is awful. The fans in the stands are great, and they provide some extremely funny and clever chants and comments throughout the game, but the limited space in the concourse, the Mount  Davis backdrop, and the troughs in the bathrooms, make for a less enjoyable experience. MLB wake up – the A’s and their fans need a new stadium! Get it done!

blackhole2Raiders Misconceptions – When you watch TV, you’d assume every convict who ever escaped prison showed up at a Raider game wearing face paint and carrying a ball and chain. It’s not true and it’s unfair. Are their some bad apples in the crowd? Yes. But what football fan base in America doesn’t have some? What I learned about most Raiders fans is that they’re knowledgeable, passionate and hungry to win. The one negative, they drink the kool aid way too quickly. One sign of hope and they’re ready to print off Super Bowl tickets. However, for all the negative things I heard before I moved here, I’ve never once not had a great experience at a Raiders game.

While it’s fair to criticize the team for their win-loss record over the past decade, their fans do care deeply. Just because someone puts on face paint on Sunday, does not mean they possess a rap sheet. I’ve have had a tremendous relationship with a number of people who work for the organization and I’ve found them to be fair, objective and easy to work with. That wasn’t always the case in the past. My only area of concern for the future is the black cloud that hangs above their head with regards to staying in Oakland or heading to Los Angeles. I’m really hoping they remain in Oakland for a long time. It’s where they belong.

Broncos 49ers Football49ers Misconceptions – I know Levi’s Stadium has its fair share of critics but I’m not one of them. My game day experiences there were very good. I will though point out that the parking situation is frustrating and closing the museum on game day makes no sense. The food choices are excellent, the space on the concourses are great and the video boards and audio quality is outstanding. If there’s one other item though that bugs me, it’s how the TV networks present the team and where they are. If you’re watching a game you’ll see pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, Napa Valley, Lombard Street, etc. None of that is even remotely close to where the Niners are.

That said, while Jed York and Trent Baalke are under the gun right now for running Jim Harbaugh out of town, they have built a very successful franchise which has played meaningful games for 3 of the past 4 years. I also have a high level of respect and admiration for a number of people who work for the 49ers organization and they’ve been one of the better local teams to work with for most of my time in the Bay Area.

Delete Me 1324Golden State Warriors – I’ve never been in a louder NBA arena in my life and the way Joe Lacob and Peter Guber operate their organization is extremely impressive. They want to win and will do anything it takes to be successful. The only criticism is that they can be overly confident and smug with their comments (especially about Mark Jackson). I’d rather have a brash owner though who puts it all on the line to win, than someone who treats the team like a personal trust fund.

I’ve had the pleasure of doing business deals with David Lee, Klay Thompson and Bob Meyers and all three were excellent to work with and as the past few years have passed by, I’ve legitimately become a fan of the team. The people in the organization on the court and behind the scenes are first-class, which makes it even more enjoyable to root for them to succeed. Now go take down King James and bring that trophy home!

rusanowskySharks/Hockey Talk – You won’t find a better person, broadcaster or promoter of the sport than Dan Rusanowsky, the voice of the Sharks. His passion and love for hockey is impossible to ignore and I enjoy hearing him call Sharks radio broadcasts. The “Shark Tank” is an awesome place to watch a game and it was the first venue I saw a game at when I was being recruited to work here. I loved it then and I love it now. The only negative surrounding the Sharks for our business is something beyond their control. Hockey as a whole, generates less sports radio listening.

That doesn’t mean the radio station couldn’t do a better job talking about bigger stories that take place, but when you’re in a market like this with the Giants, 49ers, A’s and Warriors all experiencing massive success, it becomes harder to discuss what the Sharks are doing. If the job is to entertain the most people possible, and those other stories generate higher interest, then you’ve got to provide the content that interests the largest available audience. However, when it comes to model franchises in the NHL, they’re at the top of the list in my book.

As I get ready to exit stage left, it’s well documented how much my son Dylan means to me. I can’t wait to return to New York and be closer to him on a regular basis. I’ve been on more than 400 flights during the past 9 years to make sure I stayed active in his life while balancing my professional aspirations. Now though it’s time to go home, and I’m very excited about it.

JBSteph2Equally as important in my life is my girlfriend Stephanie. She’s experienced every up and down with me over the past 9 years, and she too has had to live in my world and endure 7-8 days alone per month while I’ve gone back and forth to NY. That’s not including the countless times when I’ve come home from work, had a quick bite and then went back to work to finish other things. For every professional decision I’ve made, she’s been my sounding board and moral compass and kept me sane. To say that I’ve been exhausting at times would be a giant understatement.

Although my departure from San Francisco and relocation to New York is aimed at being closer to my son, I’m also gaining the addition of more time with her which she very well may regret in the next month or two! Sometimes in this business I can’t enjoy the wins because I’m so focused and driven by what has to be done next. Luckily I’ve had her by my side to slow me down and remind me of what’s been accomplished. I’m thankful for her support, love and trust because without her, this would have been impossible to execute by myself.

It’s been one hell of a roller coaster ride. Far from perfect, but definitely interesting. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!

 

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Jeff Catlin, John Mamola, Gordy Rush & Maggie Clifton Join The 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

Jason Barrett

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We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on BSMSummit.com.

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit BSMSummit.com.

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Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett

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As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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California College Students Earn Chance to Win 10 Free Tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit Thanks to Steve Kamer Voiceovers

“In order to win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event.”

Jason Barrett

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With a new year comes renewed energy and optimism for the sports media business. Yours truly is looking forward to showcasing the best our business has to offer when we gather the industry in Los Angeles, CA at the 2023 BSM Summit at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California on March 21-22, 2023. Our conference is returning to the west coast for the first time since 2019. We’ve announced some super talented speakers. We’ve got additional things in the works and I plan to make additional announcements in the next few weeks.

People often ask me what the biggest challenge is putting this event together. My answer is always the same, it’s getting people to leave the comfort of their office and spend two days in a room together learning and discussing ways to grow the business. We have great sponsorship support and exceptional people on stage and are fortunate to have a lot of folks already set to attend. Our venue this year has extra space though, so I’m hoping a few more of you make time to join us. If you haven’t bought a ticket or reserved your hotel room, visit BSMSummit.com to make sure you’re all set.

If there’s one thing our industry could get better at it’s opening our minds to new ideas and information. There’s more than one path to success. Just because you’re in good shape today doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. Building brands, growing audiences, increasing revenue, and examining new opportunities is an ongoing process. There are many shifts along the way. We may not solve every business challenge during our two-days together but you’ll leave the room more connected and informed than when you entered it.

Each year I’ll get two or three emails from folks sharing that they learned more about the industry in two-days at the Summit than they have in ___ years inside of their building. That’s truly gratifying and what I strive to achieve when I put this event together. I remember when conferences like this didn’t exist for format folks and I take the risk and invest the time and resources to create it because I love the sports media industry and believe I can help it thrive. I see great value in gathering professionals to share ideas, information, and meet others who can help them grow their business, and if we do our part, I’m confident some will want to work with us too. That’s how we benefit over the long haul.

But as much as I focus on serving the professional crowd, I also think we have a responsibility to educate young people who are interested, passionate, and taking steps to be a part of our business in the future. The BSM website is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each month and it’s become a valuable resource for folks who enjoy sports radio and television. I think it’s vital to use our platform, influence and two-day event to connect generations and I’m happy to announce that we will once again welcome college students at this year’s Summit.

Most of us who’ve been in this line of work for two or three decades learned the business without podcasts, YouTube, social media, the web or conferences delivering two full days of sessions that taught you more about the business than what’s available inside of a class room. We learned by doing, and hoping we were right. Then we copied others who had success. Some of that still exists, and that’s not a bad thing. But where our business goes in the future is going to be drastically different.

I’d like to see the difference makers in our format remembered for years to come, and practices that have stood the test of time remain valued down the line. Change is inevitable in every business and I’m excited about the road that lies ahead especially some of the technological advancements that are now available or will soon become a bigger part of our industry. I think we can embrace the future while enjoying the present and celebrating the past. The best way to do that is by bringing together everyone who is and is hoping to be a part of the sports media universe.

So here’s two things we’re doing to make sure future broadcasters have an opportunity to learn with us.

First, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Steve Kamer Voiceovers. Thanks to Steve’s generosity, TEN (10) college students will be given FREE tickets to attend the 2023 BSM Summit in March. Steve is a USC graduate (Class of 1985) and he bought the ten tickets to help young people learn about the industry, save money and make valuable connections. When I first received his order, I thought he hit the wrong button. I reached out to tell him a mistake was made and I needed to refund him. That’s when he told me what he wanted to do for students who were pursuing their broadcasting dreams just as we both did years ago. A very classy gesture on his part.

As it pertains to the contest, here’s how it’s going to work.

To win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event. Included in your email should be a list of steps that you’ve taken or are pursuing to explore opportunities in the media industry. If you want to pass along a resume and audio or video clips too to showcase your work and experience, that’s fine as well. BSM will accept submissions until February 17th. The winners will be announced on Friday February 24th.

Helping me select the winners will be an exceptional panel of media executives. Each of these folks below will choose one person to attend our L.A. event. The final two will be picked by Steve Kamer and myself.

  • Scott Shapiro – Senior Vice President, FOX Sports Radio
  • Justin Craig – Senior Program Director, ESPN Radio
  • Jeff Sottolano – Executive Vice President, Programming, Audacy
  • Bruce Gilbert – Senior Vice President of Sports, Cumulus Media & Westwood One
  • Amanda Gifford – Vice President, Content Strategy & Audio, ESPN
  • Jacob Ullman – Senior Vice President, Production and Talent Development, FOX Sports
  • Greg Strassell – Senior Vice President, Programming, Hubbard Radio
  • Scott Sutherland – Executive Vice President, Bonneville International

To qualify for the BSM Summit College Contest, students must be enrolled in college in the state of California, pursuing a degree that involves course work either in radio, television, print or the digital business. Those attending local trade schools with a focus on broadcasting are also welcome to participate. You must be able to take care of your own transportation and/or lodging.

This is a contest I enjoy running. We’ve had great participation during our prior two shows in New York City but haven’t done it before on the west coast. I’m hoping it’s helpful to California students and look forward to hearing from many of them during the next month.

For students who live out of state and wish to attend or those enrolled at local universities who enter the contest but aren’t lucky enough to win one of the ten free tickets from Steve Kamer Voiceovers, we are introducing a special two-day college ticket for just $124.99. You must provide proof that you’re currently in school to take advantage of the offer. This ticket gives you access to all of our sessions inside the Founders Club. College tickets will be limited to forty (40) seats so take advantage of the opportunity before it expires.

The 2023 BSM Summit will feature award ceremonies with Emmis Communication CEO Jeff Smulyan and legendary WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, sessions with influential on-air talent such as Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, and Mina Kimes, big picture business conversations with executives from groups such as Audacy, iHeart, Bonneville, Good Karma Brands, Barstool, The Volume, Omaha Productions and more. For details on tickets and hotel rooms visit BSMsummit.com.

I look forward to seeing you in March in Los Angeles!

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