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The Next Chapter

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I was reading Colin Cowherd’s interview with the Hollywood Reporter last month, and in it he said something that stuck with me. He talked about Pat Riley, and how Riley recommends changing jobs every 10 years in order to stay fresh, and remain challenged. I found that interesting because people in life usually choose between consistencyconsistency and familiarity, and unpredictability.

For some, they prefer routine and a safe bet, as opposed to taking a risk to find out what’s possible. For others, they loathe predictability, and seek to be challenged, because reaching their maximum potential carries higher importance. Neither way is better than the other. It’s simply a matter of each individual making a decision which best fits who they are.

During the past year I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate a number of possibilities as it pertains to my future. As crazy as it may sound, it was refreshing to have my nerves rattled a little, the fire in my belly rekindled, and question marks swimming around my brain daily, wondering if my next move would be wise or foolish. A little career anxiety can be a good thing.

August 25, 2015 327When I started to analyze my situation and where I wanted to go, I knew one thing for certain was going to influence my path the most. That was the location. For the past thirteen years I’ve lived in thirteen apartments and houses in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Missouri and California, and coming home to New York, and being near my son was priority number one. If you read my “Leaving California” column in February, then you know this was why I chose to leave San Francisco at the end of my contract this past June.

I’ve been very lucky to build some great friendships and relationships with a number of different executives and radio operators during the course of my career, and the past six months, they’ve put my will to test. While it’s flattering to know others value your work and would love to have you operate their brands, I knew it was time to go home. No amount of power or money was going to change my mind.

By making that decision to return to New York, I knew it would present some difficulties since things at my level in the big apple don’t change much. It’s a lot easier to have your pick of the litter of high profile jobs when you do good work, and are willing to move anywhere. A fancy title, larger market and bigger paycheck, are all things many people in my position should want, but I’ve been a hired gun for a long time, and while it’s been professionally fulfilling, led to some incredible friendships and relationships, and helped me make a great living, it wasn’t going to help me be closer to my son, loved ones, friends or home state.

2012-02-01 001 011As I looked inside at what I enjoyed most about what I do and my life, I felt my family were what mattered most, and when it came to my professional desires, I discovered my real passion is in teaching, coaching, writing, analyzing data, discovering and recruiting talent, and brand building.

That said, there are certain parts of programming a radio station that are exciting and difficult to ignore.

You get to work with a number of people from all different backgrounds, make talent and personnel decisions, help people grow, make a great living, and earn the trust and respect of your employer. You also set the tone for how the brand, and its people will operate. That is a fun part of the job, and one that I’m glad to have experienced during the past ten years.

While those aspects of the job are enjoyable, there are also some limitations. For instance, when you work inside one building, you’re restricted to using your abilities to help your current employer, and the people in your market. You may talk to others in different locations, but your ability to assess what’s happening in other cities and other companies, and contribute to helping them be successful isn’t possible. If you’re doing that, you’re likely not focused enough on your own brand.

limitationsYou’re also limited in the information you can share, the networking you can do, the honesty in which you provide your views beyond your employer’s walls, you sometimes don’t make the final call, and you’re tasked with spending more time on operating budgets, promotions and sales challenges, than the one department you were originally hired to provide guidance and leadership to – programming!

As I reviewed my career, where I was, and where I wanted to be, and thought about that Pat Riley quote, I felt it was time for change, and a new challenge. I love the sports media industry, and I see it growing more and more each day, and being a part of its future is important to me. However, I’ve put a lot of time, thought, and passion into my work, and while running a building can be fun and provide some additional perks, I believe I can make a much bigger difference for the industry, beyond one physical address.

Dan Patrick said when he left ESPN that he knew he was going to have multiple bosses, and I plan to experience that same fate.

BSM_TwitterSo after nearly twenty years in radio, most of it in the sports talk format, I am officially announcing the launch of my company, Barrett Sports Media. It’s one that I have been slowly building behind the scenes, and I enter into this new venture head first with unwavering enthusiasm.

So you’re wondering “what the heck does that mean” right? Let me explain.

As I work on developing my brand and my company, I’ll be doing a lot of different things for a lot of different people. I’ll be writing more on this website and interacting with people and audio operators all across the country to give this format and the people who perform in it a higher profile, since it deserves one.

I’ll also be doing some teaching and speaking, serving as a liaison for programmers and corporate executives, providing one-on-one instruction and job assistance for select talent, and entering the consulting space, which is one part of the business that I am really excited about exploring. If time allows, I might even pick up a couple of game day assignments, but right now that’s not my focus.

rsIt’s fitting that I’d move into this side of the industry, because it was about twenty years ago that I began reading www.sportsradio.com, a website owned and operated by sports radio consultant Rick Scott. That website helped educate me a lot on this industry, and opened up doors to relationships that I still maintain today.

Had it not been for Rick’s website, I’d probably not have gone to work for Bruce Gilbert at ESPN Radio, and had that not happened, who knows if I’m even writing this.

For the past twenty years, Rick has put more time, thought and care into working with sports operators, and talent around the country than anyone else, and because of his contributions, this industry has prospered. I was fortunate to have him as a mentor in St. Louis and San Francisco, and with his help, support and friendship, we collaborated a lot and did some pretty impressive things.

Seeing what he has done for the industry, and experiencing it myself, it’s opened my eyes to the benefits of becoming a resource to the entire sports media world. While Rick has been an incredible ally, friend and mouthpiece for the entire sports radio community, there haven’t been many others in the consultant space, dedicated solely to the growth of sports media, and the people who make a living in it. I plan to change that.

I know some of you reading this, may be thinking “Consulting? Multiple jobs? JB loves local radio too much to not be inside of a building” and I understand that initial doubt, but once you’ve had sustained success, and have experienced the country as I have, it starts to feel the same, and I never want to become the guy inside of the factory who does the same job day after day. That’s not how I’m wired.

I’m also not fueled by money, power or fancy titles. If I’m going to put my name on something, I want it to be good, and I want people to gain results from it. Nobody will remember how much money you made, or the different titles you held during your career, but they will remember the quality of your work, and how you helped and inspired others.

rulebookThe funny thing is, I remember having this chat a few months ago with a good industry friend, and when I told him I was entertaining the idea, he said “All media consultants are the same. They give some insight and opinion, change their minds when things don’t work, and try to stay out of the way and praise the people up above, so they can continue earning a check. You don’t fit that mold so I’m not sure if that’s good or bad“.

While I don’t know if his assessment was accurate or not, it got me to thinking, “Why do I need to fit a particular description? Can’t I blaze my own trail and offer my own style“? It worked for me as a programmer, and I believe there’s value in offering a different point of view and approach. I’m hoping our industry does as well.

One thing I take great pride in, is knowing the entire sports media landscape. I invest time in developing dialogue with industry professionals all across the country, and I listen to and watch personalities and brands everywhere, to the point where it costs me a lot of my own personal time at home. It’s a huge passion of mine, and one that I struggle to turn off.

successBecause I study people, markets, brands and operators, it helps me with providing fair and thorough analysis, and if I’m going to share my opinion or insight on certain subjects, I believe in being prepared and knowing the facts. If you’ve followed this site over the past 14 months, you’ve hopefully recognized that in some of the columns I write, and the ratings pieces I’ve published for numerous markets.

While this new venture places me into unchartered waters, I’m energized by taking the risk, and trying something new. Sometimes when people in our business do something different, others rush to judgment and deem them as being crazy, or being on the path to failure. That’s a mistake in my opinion.

When Dan Patrick left ESPN, everyone thought he was nuts. Rick Reilly actually called it one of the five worst moves in sports entertainment history. Why would anyone leave the comfort, and power of ESPN, to start their own entity?

dpWell Dan had a bigger plan, and while it took some time, he expanded his brand and income potential, entered new content arenas, grew his relationships, took more control of his own future, and had more fun.

As of last check, his brand could be found on NBC Television, Fox Sports Radio, Sports Illustrated, Dish Network, Audience One, Crackle, and in Adam Sandler films.

Doesn’t seem so crazy now does it?

Let me be clear about one thing, by no means am I comparing this move of mine to Dan’s. I’m not changing the world, or risking anything close to what he did. He’s one of the best to ever operate in this business, and the risk he took was enormous. I’m just a guy from New York who loves sports radio, has traveled the country and had a little bit of success, believes he has some knowledge and skill to offer, and is going to take on a new challenge to try and help others.

SFI’ve helped build three brands from scratch, discovered a number of talent who have gone on to have successful careers, and produced strong ratings for my previous employers. I’m proud of my track record as a programmer. Now though it’s time to see if I can make a larger impact for multiple brands, and people.

The calls, emails, texts and social media messages I’ve received during the past 2 months, from all over the country, have shown me that people out there do care about this format, and its future, and they want to get better. I’m going to give my undivided attention, to try and help them do that.

Who knows what tomorrow holds? I’ve said this many times, and I believe it’s coming, we will see a day when sports teams program their own audio channels, Twitter, Google, Facebook and/or YouTube create sports talk brands, and Pandora, Spotify, Newspapers and other new audio brands emerge and develop talk content.

Podcasting is also becoming a stronger player, and I think that will only increase as digital dashboards become a heavier focus inside automobiles.

There are so many possibilities, and they all need the same thing – smart and experienced leadership, strong content creators, and people who know how to deliver results, and grow a business. I know how to do that, and I plan to use my abilities to help others enjoy success.

Geena Davis once said “If you risk nothing, you risk everything”. Well what can I say, I’m a risk taker. I bet on myself when I entered this crazy business, and I’m doing it again now, when it’d be much easier to take a conventional path. It’s an exciting time, and exciting world, and when you’re in the right space, and right location, the rest has a way of working itself out.

Wish me luck!

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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