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Stealing a Page From The Donald Trump Playbook

Jason Barrett



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.

blankUnless 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.

blankFirst 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.

blankAnd 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.

blankSomewhere 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.

blankBut 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.

blankWhen 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.

blankIf 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.

blankAnyone 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

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

Jason Barrett




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 For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at

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

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

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Barrett Blogs

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




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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Barrett Blogs

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




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 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 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

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

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