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Stealing a Page From The Donald Trump Playbook

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Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to relax, reconnect with friends and family in NY and simply enjoy broadcasting without dealing with the pressures of operating a brand each day. While the competitor in me enjoys the intensity of this business after nineteen years of day to day battles, a mental break was necessary.

While getting reacclimated in NY, I’ve had the benefit to simply sit back, watch/listen and allow myself to be entertained. When you work in this industry and live and breathe the job 24/7, it sometimes becomes difficult to appreciate the content being created each day and the people who are delivering it.

Unless you’ve been asleep for the past thirty days, chances are the name “Donald Trump” has appeared either on your television, radio dial, social media page or your mobile screen. It seems impossible for the news media to go a full day without reporting something the man has said or done.

As I’ve watched the latest news events unfold, I’ve become more and more fascinated with what I’ve seen take place and I’m not talking about political stances, debates or voting records. I’m talking about the brilliance of creating public interest.

Say what you will about Donald Trump and his arrogance, no holds barred opinions and bad haircut but he has simply created demand and curiosity and in doing so, there’s something to be learned from it.

First of all, he put himself out there by taking a strong position on illegal immigration. The second he announced he was running for President of the United States, he came out swinging by stating that Mexico was a mess and if he’s elected he would build a wall and have Mexico pay for it so illegal immigration changes could begin.

Some found the remarks offensive and some found them refreshing but everyone knew they had been said. In a time when other politicians were delivering white noise and talking generalities about making the country better, Trump came out and said “this is what I will do if elected“.

Then the firestorm began. Looking to seize the opportunity of burying the man and gaining some attention for their respective businesses, Nascar, Macy’s, NBC and Univision all pulled their associations with him. Heck, even Emmitt Smith announced he was departing as a judge for Trump’s Miss America pageant.

And here’s where things got really interesting – those who share his views on the country and believe in the freedom of speech, increased their support for him. As polling numbers rolled in, Trump’s went up!

Rather than tuck his tail between his legs at the first sign of trouble, Trump stood up and faced the heat from a large number of corporations and promised he’d not back down. Instead of being crushed by media soundbites and personal agendas, the people responded and asked for him to keep fighting. And he hasn’t stopped since.

What does this matter to sports radio you ask? Well it’s actually really simple – the best personalities in this format, locally and nationally, usually are known for speaking their minds and taking strong positions. When you stand for something and speak with passion and conviction, you cut through. You’re going to have your fair share of outspoken critics and public enemies but they’re all coming to the arena to see you perform because they know you matter.

Somewhere though over the past 10 years, since social media became a major force in our lives, it’s become harder to be yourself and share your views without being immediately taken to task. The second an uncomfortable opinion is spoken, the social media police are out, sales people are running scared out of fear of losing business and executives at the highest levels are quick to react rather than support. I know, I’ve had many sleepless nights over it myself.

Take a look around the world today and it’s becoming a case of everyone thinking their opinion should change the law, the way a company operates or the way we should all live. Whether it’s the reaction after a public shooting, the response to gay marriage being approved or a baseball player getting busted using steroids, the second a story is reported, the vocal minority are out there demanding change.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely a difference between saying something uncomfortable and saying something offensive and irresponsible. You can’t go on the air and curse or deliver racially divise commentaries and expect to be supported. That’s poor judgement on the part of a personality. Case in point what Hulk Hogan was caught on tape saying last week was reprehensible and he deserved to be terminated for it.

But most of the time, the great personalities who stand out in this format usually are brash, honest, controversial and unafraid. We ask our hosts to deliver compelling content and get audiences to listen for long periods of time but then want them to tone it down when it creates public chatter. If you didn’t see this story about ESPN asking Keith Olbermann to dial down his commentary, read it. It’s the type of situation I’m referring to.

What I find hypocritical is when a company hires a provocative personality but then terminates the relationship because they were bothered by the host’s uncomfortable positions. Why would you hire a controversial talent who lives on the edge and then ask them to not be who they are? If you signed up to put someone on your air who you knew would make a ton of noise and ruffle some feathers, and by the way grow your audience, then why are you surprised when they do?

Look around the world today at who’s standing out from the crowd – personal interests aside, there’s no doubt that Colin Cowherd, Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann all make noise and create a reaction. Yet they’re all soon to be gone from ESPN. Two others at the four letter network who make noise and fit the description are Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless yet First Take is probably the most criticized show on the planet.

romebarkleyTake it beyond ESPN and you’ll remember the opinions of Jim Rome, Mike Francesa and Charles Barkley. There’s a reason, they’re colorful, candid, confident and uncompromising. That’s an art and it should be applauded because they have the guts to speak honestly rather than worry about the potential consequences they may face as a result of taking a firm position.

Switch formats to news and you’re usually talking about Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage. What are they known for? Creating a stir, making you think and evoking emotion. Yet anytime there’s a demand for someone to be ousted from a news network, those names are usually in the conversation.

Can you imagine if social media was around when Howard Stern began his reign of terror on terrestrial radio? Do you think CBS would’ve supported him the same way? Maybe they would have but given the way the world has changed the past few years, it’s very debatable.

freespeechSo to bring this back full circle, look at the impact Donald Trump has had in less than a month. It’s undeniable that he’s become a daily conversation in most parts of the country and that my friends is due to his being willing to stand out from the crowd. People want to hear what a personality thinks and whether they agree or disagree is not the point – it’s that they’re listening, consuming and being emotionally moved by the message.

Think about this for a second. If Donald Trump was a radio personality, would he be supported for the comments he’s made over the past month or would the industry turn on him like Macy’s did at the first sign of controversy? I’d like to say that we’d stand by his right to an opinion but I’m not sure that’d be the case. Yet who’d be at fault – Trump for being outspoken or the operator who hired him?

Remember folks, we pay people in this business to give strong opinions. Those who do so are going to have loyal fans and dedicated critics. I like SportsCenter as much as the next guy but I can’t recall the last time an opinion was shared on the program that got people talking. Yet, the second a personality like Bill Simmons speaks out about Roger Goodell, it is being discussed everywhere.

When you’re managing a brand, you want people to listen as much as possible but you also have to be true to yourself and stand up for your brand, beliefs and people. I’d rather tell a listener “I’m sorry we don’t have the type of product you’re looking for, have you tried some other options” than ask my people to create content that isn’t representative of who they are.

Everyone wants to be liked and receive positive feedback but it’s impossible to please every individual. Everyone today wants to feel empowered and believe they have the power to change what a brand or personality does and while I want the audience to have a voice and share in the creation of our content, I also believe that personalities, programmers and producers are hired because they know how to do a job and it’s important to give them the support and freedom to be creative, honest and comfortable. Former Utah Jazz Head Coach Jerry Sloan once said “I love the fans but the second you start listening to them for advice, you’ll soon be sitting with them“.

There’s this thing called a radio dial in every person’s car and if someone doesn’t like what they’re hearing, they have the right to change it. Most of the time they’re also paying zero to listen and we’re not only in the business of satisfaction, we’re in the business of creating compelling sports talk radio to drive listening occasions and ratings which will help us sell higher ad rates.

If nobody listens, personalities and operators will receive the message and make adjustments. This is a business and without ratings, there’s less advertiser interest, and with less interest comes less revenue, which means the likelihood of a contract extension and salary bump for a personality also becomes less.

I saw a line last night that really stuck with me and it was by professional wrestler Jeff Jarrett. He said “To a critic, no explanation will do. To a fan, no explanation is needed“. That’s a really good line and it makes me wonder, if we’re not standing by the people we hire through challenging times, are we really fans of them in the first place”?

I know this, regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, you likely have an opinion of Donald Trump and you’re going to pay attention the next time he says something. That’s called cutting through and the Trump factor will be the reason why Fox News delivers record ratings next Thursday night for it’s Republic Presidential debate. That’s something we need more of in sports radio.

Anyone can fill air time and relay information, scores, facts and stories and if you have a strong guest booker, they can load you up with 6 guests to fill a show. But it’s those who paint pictures and share their true convictions, sometimes in a way that makes people cringe, that truly stand out. One line I like to use is “Say something worth stealing“. If you present yourself that way on-air each day, you’ll have the audience eating out of your hand, even when they’re not hungry.

At the end of your show you should be able to recall 2-3 positions that you took that made the audience react and think. Here’s a good way to get a read on it – ask your producer to write down three headline opinions in the show that create promo worthy material. If they can’t, and they’re sitting in a room across from you for 2-3 hours, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your content presentation or the producer.

You don’t have to listen long to Donald Trump to find 3 promos. It’s amazing what can be created and accomplished when just one personality believes in something and is willing to say it! And whether you agree or disagree with it doesn’t matter – it’s that you’re listening to it!

Barrett Blogs

Black Friday Sale TODAY For 2022 BSM Summit Tickets

“BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets will begin at 12:01am ET on Friday November 26th and expire at 11:59pm later that same night.”

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There are less than 100 days remaining until the 2022 BSM Summit takes place in New York City. We’ve announced 31 participants for the show so far, and have more to reveal in the weeks and months ahead. I think you’re going to like what’s still to come.

Putting this conference together isn’t easy. It requires months of meetings, brainstorming, promotion, selling sponsorships, pursuing speakers, and creating everything that attendees see on stage over a two day period. I’m thankful to have help from some amazing partners, but as I’ve mentioned previously, this isn’t an event that makes us rich or ends with 5-10 new clients signing up to work with BSM. The goal each year is simple, make sure the conference is valuable for those who attend, and don’t run BSM out of business by doing it. As long as those two things remain solid, it’s worth doing.

Some might wonder, why go thru months of headaches if you’re not going to break the bank or immediately add clients. That’s fair to ask. If you look at it from a pure business standpoint, one could easily make a case that pouring this type of energy into something else could be more lucrative. But money was never the motivation for doing this. I felt the sports media industry lacked a signature event where smart, successful media professionals (who don’t often cross paths) could gather at one location to laugh and learn together, and I wanted to change that. If over a two day period attendees could gain insight, information, ideas, and introductions, it’d put everyone in a stronger position to remain successful.

I’ve unapologetically loved the sports media business since I started listening to Mike & the Mad Dog on WFAN and watching SportsCenter on ESPN. I was fortunate to live and work in a number of cities over the past two decades, learning how different companies and people operate, and I remain involved today thru my work with BSM. I mention this because I also know media people. They tend to wait until the last minute to book hotel rooms, airfare, and purchase tickets, even if they can save money by acting sooner. I know, I used to do it too. I can’t control when you book your room or plane ticket, but I do want to give you an added incentive to buy your ticket to this year’s show. Seating is limited, and once the last seat is filled, that’s it. We can’t make extra room.

With that in mind, most of you are either taking today off or working inside a much quieter building. If you’ve thought about coming to the Summit, take 5-10 minutes to log on to BSMSummit.com to take advantage of our special Black Friday sale. We’ve reduced tickets for the day, so whether you’re planning to attend in NYC or watch the conference online, there’s a discount to help you out. Just $199.99 for live tickets, and $124.99 for virtual.

BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets expires at 11:59pm tonight. In the meantime, Hotel Edison in NYC is offering rooms for just $109 + taxes to Summit attendees. Click here to take advantage of the special room rate we’ve secured for this year’s show. Those of you planning to fly to NYC for the show, there have been a ton of great deals offered by American, Southwest, United, JetBlue and Frontier. It might be worth checking into today since Black Friday often has even better sales on travel.

If you’re interested in learning more about the industry, staying a step ahead, forming new relationships, strengthening existing ones, exploring potential business deals, and celebrating the business you’re in, I hope you’ll join us either online or in New York City for the 2022 BSM Summit. I’m making it easier on you, by offering lower ticket prices today. The rest is up to you!

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Barrett Blogs

Craig Carton, Fred Toucher, Mike Felger To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit

“Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.”

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When you talk to industry people about successful brands in sports talk radio, most conversations include WFAN and 98.5 The Sports Hub. The New York and Boston sports radio brands are consistently recognized for their ability to deliver large audiences and revenues.

Helping to create that success is a mixture of strong play by play partnerships, skilled programmers and even more importantly, some of the most dynamic on-air personalities in the format. Fortunately for us, a few of those gamechangers will be present to share their opinions and insights on content matters in New York City at the 2022 BSM Summit.

Starting in New York, it’s an honor to welcome WFAN afternoon drive host Craig Carton to the 2022 BSM Summit. Heard daily on ‘Carton and Roberts‘ alongside Evan Roberts, which is also featured on TV on SNY, Carton has made his presence felt ever since returning to the airwaves in November 2020. Prior to taking on the challenge in afternoons, Craig spent a decade partnering with Boomer Esiason on ‘Boomer and Carton‘, forming one of the most successful sports radio morning shows in the country. In addition to enjoying success in New York, Craig has also experienced the ups and downs that come with performing in different markets. His radio travels have taken him to Philadelphia, Denver, Buffalo and Trenton, NJ. The Syracuse graduate and outspoken host is expected to join BSM President Jason Barrett for a one on one conversation at this year’s Summit.

Shipping up to Boston, it’s a pleasure to welcome two of the format’s highest rated performers to New York City. They’re heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub in morning and afternoon drive, and at the Summit, they’ll interact together during an in-depth content conversation with BSM President Jason Barrett.

Fred Toucher is one half of the Sports Hub’s popular morning show ‘Toucher & Rich‘, which recently added syndication. The Detroit native started his career in Georgia before moving to Boston in 2005. Toucher & Rich, which includes Rich Shertenlieb, officially moved into the sports talk format in 2009. Since making the format switch, the duo have consistently produced some of the best ratings in the entire format in mornings during the past fifteen years. Toucher & Rich have also been recognized by industry executives as one of the top two morning shows in the format each of the past three years in the BSM Top 20, including taking top honors in 2018.

Mike Felger on the other hand is heard on the ride home alongside Tony Massarotti on The Sports Hub. The Marconi Award-winning afternoon radio show has been a fixture in Boston since the station’s inception in 2009. During the past twelve years, Felger & Mazz have been a steady force atop the Men 25-54 ratings including recently delivering an impressive 18.9 share in the summer book to finish 1st. The Milwaukee native also hosts a show for NBC Boston, and has previously served as a columnist for the Boston Globe. Similar to Toucher & Rich, Felger & Mazz have earned high praise from format execs in the BSM Top 20. They’ve been voted one of the top 2 afternoon shows each of the past 2 years including grabbing the top spot in 2019.

We’re excited to add all three of these men to the lineup for the 2022 BSM Summit. As vital as it may be to spend time on business issues in order to stay ahead of a rapidly changing media climate, without great talent and content, the rest is irrelevant. Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.

To reserve your hotel room, purchase tickets or learn more about the speakers we’ve lined up for the 2022 show, visit BSMSummit.com. We hope to see you online or in New York City this March.

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Barrett Blogs

BSM Summit Adds Borrell, Crain, Cutler, Goldstein, Scott, Shapiro & Thomas

“The Summit is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited.”

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The 2022 BSM Summit continues to add firepower to the sports media industry’s premier conference. After previously announcing the first twenty one participants to take part in March’s event in New York City, another seven talented media professionals have been added to the speaker schedule.

Making his BSM Summit debut in 2022 will be the media industry’s leading business analyst Gordon Borrell. The well respected and accomplished CEO of Borrell Associates is featured frequently in the trades and mainstream publications for his insights on advertising trends and forecasts in local media. Borrell will join Amplifi Media CEO Steven Goldstein on stage at the Summit for an in-depth discussion on the advertising climate in 2022. The two men will offer insights and opinions on what advertisers value most, where they’re expected to invest future dollars, which categories will continue to rise and decline, and what brands can do to position themselves better to increase revenue. Additionally, Borrell will be hosting his local advertising conference in Miami a few days after the Summit. Those interested in heading to South Beach and learning more about the marketing world can learn more by clicking here.

Switching to the content end, the Summit is thrilled to welcome The Volume’s Jake Crain to New York City. The host of The JBoy Show will also be making his debut at the conference. Crain will be part of a talent panel along with John Jastremski and Kazeem Famuyide.

Also making his debut at the Summit will be Carl Scott. Meadowlark Media’s Executive Director of Audio will join our podcasting panel featuring Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones and The Volume’s Head of Content Logan Swaim. Hubbard Radio’s Digital Content Director Phil Mackey will guide the conversation.

Not everyone participating at the Summit will be new to the audience though. Returning to the stage as part of our GM’s discussion will be newly appointed Audacy Boston Market Manager Mike Thomas. Thomas recently led ESPN 1000 in Chicago as the station’s GM after working with Mark Hannon to turn 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston into one of sports radio’s top performing stations. It should be noted that each time Thomas appears at the Summit it follows a recent promotion. We figure by 2023 or 2024 he’ll be running the entire industry.

A Summit isn’t complete without attention given to programming matters. To help us address some of those key issues, we’re excited to welcome back the Vice President of FOX Sports Radio & Podcasts Scott Shapiro. The passionate network executive who oversees many of the nation’s top national programs is always a great listen for folks interested in learning how programmer’s view and tackle the industry’s most important affairs.

Last but certainly not least, voice talent extraordinaire Jim Cutler will return to the stage to lead a session on storytelling. One of the industry’s prominent station voices and creative minds has a penchant for putting on entertaining and informative sessions. If you’ve attended the conference before, you’re already aware. To those planning to catch this one, you’re in for a treat.

Keep an eye out over the next two weeks. We’ll be making additional announcements involving a few high profile talents we’ve lined up for the 2022 BSM Summit. A reminder, the event is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited. I realize some folks may prefer to wait until the last minute to make sure the world is safe. If you’re not comfortable flying to NY for the show, we do have an option in place to enjoy the conference virtually thanks to NuVoodoo Media. For more information on tickets, click here.

That said, the in-person environment is excellent. If you haven’t attended the Summit before I think you’ll find the two days in New York City to be time well spent. This conference is not open to the general public. You must either presently work in an area of the media industry or be pursuing a degree in the broadcasting field.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we still have some sponsorship opportunities available for the show. We’re thrilled to have the support of great partners, ESPN Radio, Premiere Networks, FOX Sports Radio, Stone Voiceovers, Compass Media Networks, Point to Point Marketing, and Core Image Studio. If you’d like to be part of the event too, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com for additional details.

One final note, airfare is low right now. There are roundtrip flights to and from New York from many major cities for less than $200.00. We’ve also secured a low hotel rate of $109.00 per night at Hotel Edison in NYC to help companies and individuals keep costs down. The sports media industry has endured two years of difficulty due to the pandemic, preventing many from networking, learning, celebrating, and growing. The two days we spend together in the big apple won’t solve every issue facing our business, but I promise you’ll leave the show more informed, more connected, and better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Hope to see you in New York on March 2nd and 3rd.

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