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Does It Pay To Be On Social Media?

Jason Barrett

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It’s evening time. You’ve arrived home from work, ate your dinner, and are finally unwinding and getting ready to watch your television. If you work in the sports media business, that likely means watching some form of sports programming.

socialtvYou absorb the content, and before you know it, you’re reaching for your phone, iPad, or laptop, and logging on to one of your social media accounts to see what others are saying about the program you’re watching.

As you start reading the comments, they get your juices flowing. Soon you have the itch to type a response, and engage in the conversation. After all, you get paid to talk, and interact with people on your show each day, and you have bosses, and the entire media industry telling you how vital it is to connect with the audience outside of your show to build deeper fan loyalty.

And then it happens…..you press send, and offer an opinion that gets the whole world talking, and not for the right reason.

The responses to your opinion start coming in rapidly. Your audience begins sharing and retweeting your commentary, and soon the media industry, one which you make your living in, is now highlighting your opinion, and seeking your removal and/or an apology.

You start to panic, and think “maybe I can delete the comment and this will all go away“. Except, it’s been saved at this point by numerous outlets, and you recognize that it’s going to spread like a virus no matter what you do.

Then you ponder “what if I just apologize, and promise not to do it again“? That sounds good in theory, but the damage has already been done, and the dogs are lined up outside the door, and barking, and not going away until they taste blood.

cellAs you contemplate the chaos you’re involved in, you decide to reach out to your boss, and let them know what’s transpired, so they know the situation, and understand your role in it. Whether you get along great or terribly with this individual is irrelevant, because you know the conversation is necessary.

Together you discuss the next steps for handling the storm, and when you go to sleep that night, you’re hopeful to wake up the next day and have it all be just a dream. Except it isn’t, and the nightmare isn’t close to being over.

Then the phone call comes in. It’s likely your Program Director, or it might even be your General Manager, or CEO, asking for more details on what took place.

You offer your thoughts on the situation, and explain how you were simply taking part in a conversation with the audience outside of the show, and offered an opinion that wasn’t well received. But you do this all the time on your show, so this shouldn’t be any different right?

Your boss listens to you, probably takes some notes, and tells you they’ll be in touch afterwards to discuss what to do next.

At this point you’re stressed out, blaming yourself (or the audience who outed you) for putting your commentary on social media, and you’re walking on egg shells waiting to hear how the company wants to proceed.

vinceAnd then the phone call comes…..you’ve been suspended or fired.

Instantly you’re asking your employers to reconsider. You’re pissed off at the audience for making a big deal out of what you thought was an innocent comment. You’re feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable about your future because you know this blemish is now going to hang over your head like a dark black cloud.

And as I sit here laying out this scenario for you, I have one simple question I want you to answer – did it make any sense at all to participate on social media?

Some people will immediately say “well if you weren’t stupid and didn’t say those things, you wouldn’t be in this predicament“. That’s true. I often read some personalities social media responses and question their line of judgment because I know that they’re on the verge of unflattering attention for a pointless reason.

I also recognize though that some of the most opinionated people in our business, performers who by the way drive ratings, and command big advertising endorsement rates (and offer similar commentaries on-air that they’re now being attacked for using on social media), don’t always handle things properly. I don’t want to excuse personal responsibility because it should factor into the equation.

But let’s also recognize that people are human, and they do have flaws, and make mistakes.

Here’s a cold reality. In every industry, there are people who’s views, character traits, and decisions, will make you uneasy. You see them as the lowest form of scum, while others see them in a different light.

When it comes to social circles, we gravitate towards those we like, but still we focus our additional energies on people we don’t identify with. As petty as it may be, we spend a lot of time and negative energy analyzing what other people say and do.

logosThat today has become one of the most powerful seductions for Twitter and Facebook. You wake up, read your timeline, and you interact with those you like, and then proceed to talk or complain about a couple of others who posted something that you don’t agree with.

Is it really important? No. But in today’s world, we’re consumed with everyone’s opinion, and we feel an immediate need to dive into everyone else’s conversation.

That doesn’t make social media bad. Instead it calls into question our own abilities to operate with a filter. We want to be ourselves, and speak freely without consequence, and when you’re communicating with people you have established relationships with, that may be acceptable. When you’re presenting your views though to those you share no personal history with, that’s a different ballgame.

It’s our own personal responsibility to assess whether it makes sense to respond, or walk away from certain conversations. Unfortunately, most of us can’t help to stop and look at the car crash, rather than continue driving.

Personally, I enjoy social media, and many of the benefits it provides. But I’m also not on the air, and I don’t command the same attention that an on-air personality does. If I were working in that position, and had every one of my assessments being scrutinized, as much as I love being social, and connecting with people, I’d have to think twice about my level of activity, and what I hoped to gain by being accessible on it.

I know that may sound crazy since every media company today preaches the importance of social media, and why it’s necessary to be active, but let me ask you this – how much money have you or your brand made off of Twitter? How about Facebook?

lionsIf your best personalities can’t turn off their emotions (which by the way, you love and push for more of when they’re on the air), and have a rational conversation on social media without torching their own career and your brand in the process, then is it really worth it to be on there in the first place?

These are highly emotional, and opinionated people, and we send them into the lion’s den, but ask them to play nice. Each day they log on to their accounts, and share their personal beliefs, and invite the world in, while enduring public criticisms, and personal attacks. We then expect them not to be brash or irrational with their responses when faced with negativity. While we may want all talent to flip a switch, and avoid confrontation over meaningless drama, not everyone marches to the same beat.

I want to understand this, and approach the conversation strictly from a business point of view for a second, because remember, this is a business, and everything we do comes back to the almighty dollar.

If you make little to no money by being on Twitter, and the same holds true for your presence on Facebook, yet you stand to lose your livelihood if you make a mistake on one of these platforms, then can someone please tell me why it makes any sense at all to be candid, engaged, and heavily involved in these social spaces?

The risk certainly seems to outweigh the reward.

I’ve heard certain personalities who choose not to participate in social media, say that they believe that by sharing their lives and opinions outside their show, it takes away from the mystery of their programs, and could potentially cost them additional audience. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of that (I can make a case that by promoting yourself, and your show on social media it can lead to an increase in tune-ins), I do understand their point, and concern.

moneyA talent makes their money on the air. Their ratings determine whether or not they get to continue doing it. If speaking your mind in other locations takes away from the allure of what you’ll offer on your show, then I can understand why there’d be hesitation to participate. Some managers may frown upon that, but this is why you can’t treat every personality the same.

What I don’t understand though is why we all feel the need to be in these spaces, and why we continue to think that our comments on social media aren’t seen by all, and potentially damaging. I’ve sat back and watched some personalities swear, ridicule and insult listeners, and trash other companies, yet they wouldn’t do most of that on their own airwaves. They’re not being paid by these social media outlets to be outspoken, but still they feel the need to express themselves more candidly here, than they often do on their own radio stations.

Here’s a newsflash for every on-air personality, and public figure, Twitter and Facebook are no different than your radio or television station. When you type a comment, and press send, your opinion enters the social media universe, which is equal to grabbing the microphone, and saying something offensive that leads to the FCC or your own company taking action against you. You may think that it’s this fun little platform where you can be yourself and have colorful conversations, but it’s not.

I started thinking about this subject based on the story that generated national attention yesterday. Mike Bell of 92.9 The Game in Atlanta made some unflattering jokes and comments about ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza, and his poor judgment on social media led to him being suspended by the radio station.

I personally think Mike made a terrible error, and he said some things that were insensitive and stupid. The station had every right to suspend him, and I applaud them for taking action.

jessica2I also think his analysis of Jessica Mendoza was off base. As a Yankees fan, I watched that game, and was curious to see how she’d perform, and I came away from that broadcast extremely impressed. She was sharp, well spoken, easy to follow, made excellent points and counterpoints, and proved that she belonged on that stage.

Yes her involvement as an analyst on a baseball broadcast is foreign territory, and as we’ve seen so many times, change isn’t accepted quickly. The immediate response from most people is to complain, and reject any new idea until it’s proven to be socially acceptable.

What I learned from this story, is that Jessica has a lot of talent, and class, and she lets her work speak for her. If you browse her Twitter account, you’ll find most of her tweets promote something she’s involved in, or she’s retweeting something positive. That’s a smart approach. By steering clear of controversial discussions, it keeps her in control, and unlikely to be in a position to have to explain herself to her bosses, or even worse, the entire country.

On the other hand, there are so many others that can’t hit the delete button, and have put themselves in hot water by using poor judgment on social media.

In the past week alone, Mike Bell was suspended, a social media staffer for the Texas Rangers was fired after posting a remark about Texas Head Football Coach Charlie Strong on the team’s Twitter account, and one of the world’s most powerful media moguls Rupert Murdoch was under the microscope for a tweet where he said “Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else.”

If you’re keeping score, that’s one media person suspended, another fired, and another publicly embarrassed and likely to face some advertiser backlash, all because they used poor judgment on social media platforms.

prosconsSo I ask these questions again – why are you on there, and is it really worth it?

If the risk means losing your career, or being publicly embarrassed, and there’s no money or career advancement coming your way from being active on it, then why do it?

What brings this full circle for me is that we focused a lot of attention this week on the Mike Bell-Jessica Mendoza controversy, but it never should have even been a topic of conversation in the first place. If Curt Schilling, hadn’t taken to social media, and performed like Mike Bell, Jessica Mendoza wouldn’t have been in that position to draw a reaction.

Which goes to show that when you follow Mendoza’s example, and use social media in small doses, and for the right reasons, you avoid dangerous situations, make a lot of money, and professionally benefit. Bell and Schilling should be taking notice of that, not just her performance in a baseball booth! Although that too may cause future problems for Curt.

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Barrett Blogs

Is Sports Journalism Still Worth Paying For?

“I know many like to declare print being dead. I’m sorry I’m not one of them. Adults still enjoy reading.”

Jason Barrett

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Courtesy: Don Nguyen

I’ve been thinking about this column all week because it’s a topic I’m passionate about and curious to hear the responses to. For starters, let me pose a few questions to you. Does quality journalism still matter? Is it worth paying for? Do advertisers see enough return on their investments with print outlets through associations with influential writers, publications and branded content? Are consumers hungry to read the full details of a story or are they satisfied with the cliff notes version and absorbing messages that fit inside of 140-280 characters?

The world we’re in is saturated with content. Attention spans are rapidly shrinking. Social media is both to blame and bless for that. The positive is that we’re exposed to more content than ever before. This means more opportunity to reach people and grow businesses. The challenge of course is standing out.

People listen, read and watch less of one thing now, opting for variety during the time they have available. The issue with that is that it often leads to being less informed. I know many like to declare print being dead. I’m sorry I’m not one of them. Adults still enjoy reading. I see nearly three million people do it on this website alone and we’re small potatoes compared to mainstream brands. Clearly people like to learn.

I raise this topic because last week, Peter King announced his retirement although he left open the door for side projects. After forty plus years of writing the gold standard of NFL columns, King revealed he wanted to slow down and invest his time in other areas of life. Among his considerations for the future after taking a breather are teaching.

In a podcast interview with Richard Deitsch, King said “We may love this column but I doubt that it made enough money for NBC to pay what they were paying me. I don’t think words are very profitable anymore. It’s a sad thing but it’s what’s happened to our business.”

Later in the conversation, King discussed the difficulty he might face if speaking to students about whether or not to pursue working in the media industry. He acknowledged that the business is bad right now. However, he pointed out that if you can write and read, and be an intelligent thinking contributing member of society, there are a lot of jobs you can do beyond being a writer for a paper covering the NFL. You can teach English, work in PR or for a team or league website. But journalism is different now, and though it’s not impossible to do, having flexibility is important.

I agreed with most of King’s remarks and thought about the two different ways people might respond to them.

If you’re in agreement with Peter, you’ll point to the reduction in industry jobs, the changes in salaries, the lack of trust in media outlets, the economic uncertainty facing traditional operators, the shrinking ability to uncover truth, and the data that frequently supports video being hot, and print not so much.

Those who disagree will list the New York Times and The Athletic as examples of print brands that still matter. They’ll also mention the surge in newsletters, the arrival of new online outlets, and the daily communication between millions of people each day on social media, much of it revolving around conversations created or supported by text.

Where I sit is somewhere in between.

First, the notion that it’s harder now than before is one I’ll challenge. When I entered the business, I had to mail letters, send cassette tapes, and wait months for a response. There was no internet or opportunity to create a podcast, Substack, website or video to build an audience. I had to be selected by someone to have a chance to work. There were thousands like me who wanted a way in and were at the mercy of decision makers preferring my resume over someone else’s. I did exactly what King said on the podcast when he mentioned having to do other jobs to support yourself while pursing a dream.

Where I agree with King is when he mentioned words not being as profitable anymore. Are print reporters and columnists going to make what they once did? Probably not. There will always be exceptions just as there are in television and radio, but if you think you’re going to do one specific job and making a financial killing on it, prepare to be disappointed. Today, you better be able to wear different hats and create a lot of content in multiple places. Earning a lot for doing a little is a way of the past.

The one area where I’ll differ is when it comes to advertising. I believe there’s untapped value for brands in print. Recall with the written word remains strong. There’s also less advertising clutter in written stories than audio and video programming blocks. Advertisers may not seek out traditional print advertising anymore but branded content, newsletter associations, and social media placements remain valued.

What I admire greatly about King is that he evolved over the years. His written work on SI was must-read but that didn’t stop him from leaping into the online space and launching MMQB. The arrival of that microsite was done at the right point in time, and when SI began to change, King didn’t hang on, choosing to make the bold move and jump to NBC. Upon his arrival, he started contributing on television, podcasts, and expanding his profile on social media.

What you should take away from Peter is that you’ve got to constantly examine the business, and understand when it’s time to pivot, even if it means leaving your comfort zone. You also have to recognize that things are going to change and your job description will likely be one of them. If you stay married to what you once did, you’ll be in a tough spot. If you roll with the punches and embrace what’s new, you’ll survive and thrive.

You also have to understand that you’re going to be tied further to what you produce. Does your presence and performance grow advertising revenue? Are you speaking on behalf of brands and helping them move product? Do you grow subscriptions or readership to levels that make it easy for a company to invest significantly in you? Talent is subjective. Results aren’t. Those who create quality while boosting the bottom line will remain in demand.

Remember this in a few years when artificial intelligence becomes a bigger part of content creation and discovery. Those who adapt to it and work with it will be just fine. Those who reject it will be searching for new career paths. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There’s better stability in other industries. But there’s nothing like creating content around the world of sports and media. It just requires adaptability and being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

BSM Summit Update:

In ten days we unite the sports media business in New York City for the 2024 BSM Summit. All of the sessions are now complete. I’m excited to add Natalie Marsh, General Manager of Lotus Communications in Las Vegas, Cody Welling, Station Manager of 97.1 The Fan in Columbus, and Stephanie Prince, Vice President and Market Manager of Good Karma Brands West Palm Beach to our schedule. The full agenda for both days is posted on BSMSummit.com.

In addition, I’m thrilled to share that we’ll have a few special appearances at the ESPN Radio After Party on Wednesday March 13th. Joining us on-site will be Evan Cohen, Chris Canty and Michelle Smallmon of UnSportsmanLike, Freddie Coleman and Harry Douglas of Freddie & Harry, and Chris Carlin from Carlin vs. Joe.

Thumbs Up:

Chris Mortensen: Rarely does the sports media industry collectively agree on anything but you won’t find much disagreement on Chris Mortensen. He was a special talent and human being. I was fortunate to see it firsthand as a producer at ESPN Radio. I then enjoyed many interactions with Mort as a program director lining up calls on the radio stations I ran. It didn’t matter what job you did or where you worked, Chris treated you well. His work was hall of fame worthy but it was the manner in which he interacted with people that truly made him a legend. Rest in peace, Mort. I’m sure the next wave of conversations with John Clayton are going to be amazing.

Mike Felger: It would’ve been easy to pile on and publicly root for a competitor to fail and fold. Instead, Felger took the high road, acknowledging that he’s rooting for WEEI to come out of bankruptcy in good shape. That’s what smart business people. Mike is comfortable in his own skin. He has the highest rated show in Boston and having a competitor to compete against as well as a potential landing spot when contracts come up is never a bad thing. Besides, why would anyone want to see friends and respected professionals lose an opportunity to work or listeners given less choice for sports talk entertainment? Nice job, Mike.

iHeartmedia: The company’s fourth quarter results were down year-to-year but they were above prior projections. iHeart also gained 16.6% growth in podcasting revenues during Q4, and just got stronger by luring Stephen A. Smith’s podcast away from Audacy. A pretty good week for Bob Pittman and his lieutenants.

Sportico: Jason Clinkscales is an easy guy to root for. He’s written quality content for Awful Announcing, is a sharp guy who enjoys the industry, and after a year full of personal tragedies, he deserved a break. That came last week when Sportico hired him as a reporter and editor on their breaking news team. Well done Sportico. Looking forward to reading the first piece.

National Association of Broadcasters: Creating buzz for conferences isn’t easy but the NAB’s recent announcement of having Daniel Anstandig of Futuri Media present a first-of-its-kind presentation at its April show alongside Ameca, an autonomously AI-powered humanoid robot has certainly increased conversation and intrigue. I’ll be in attendance for the event and am curious like many. I’m just hoping Joe Rogan isn’t right when he suggested this week that robots will jump out of an aircraft carrier with machine guns and do damage.

Thumbs Down:

Kroenke Sports and Entertainment: This isn’t a shot at the company. It’s more about losing a talented media executive. Matt Hutchings, the company’s former COO and EVP was a key part of developing Altitude Sports. Under his watch, the Nuggets and Avalanche won titles, and the company cemented its position in the local sports radio space.

The dispute with Comcast over airing Nuggets and Avs games is well documented, and Hutchings will get some of the blame for the teams not being broadcast on local TV but I tend to believe decisions of that magnitude land at ownership’s doorstep. Regardless, KSE is weaker today than yesterday due to losing Hutchings.

New York Jets: I get it. 98.7 ESPN New York moving away from the FM dial provides a concern for the franchise, and in other cities, football does perform well on classic rock stations. I just see the fit with Q104.3 as an odd one. If Aaron Rodgers returns and the Jets finally take off the way their fans hoped they would last year, it’s going to feel strange hearing their games locally on a channel that has little content time dedicated to the team beyond game days.

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Barrett Blogs

Erika Ayers and Spike Eskin Led Barstool Sports and WFAN to Success But Their Exits Raise Questions

“Rod and Spike understand the business. They know people are going to ask these questions.”

Jason Barrett

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There were two big management moves last week that have sports media folks talking. First was Erika Ayers Badan announcing her exit from Barstool Sports as the brand’s CEO. Second was the news of Spike Eskin returning to Sportsradio WIP and exiting his role as the VP of Programming for WFAN and CBS Sports Radio.

Let’s start with Erika. What she did for Barstool was spectacular. In 2016, I thought Barstool had a strong understanding of social media, unique talent and voices, podcasts that were cutting through, and a connection with younger fans that traditional outlets couldn’t deliver. They also produced events that drew a lot of public attention. But I didn’t view Barstool as a buttoned up business capable of generating hundreds of millions of dollars. Erika Nardini aka Erika Ayers Badan and Dave Portnoy deserve credit for making it one.

Erika told me at our 2020 BSM Summit that Barstool didn’t have a P&L sheet when she joined. She had to build systems, hire staff, grow the sales arm of Barstool, and help Dave Portnoy find investors. What followed were marketing deals with major brands, content partnerships with different media outlets, a massive investment from Penn National, and a changed perception of Barstool as a mainstream player. They were no longer just the cool, rebellious brand on social media and the internet that gave no f’s and generated attention. They became game changers in the sports content space.

So why leave?

If Barstool is now clear of restrictions and able to operate without investor influence, that should be enticing, right? In her farewell video Erika said that she felt she accomplished what she set out to do. I understand and appreciate that. But I can’t help but wonder if less structure and investor involvement made it less appealing to stay. She did join the brand after The Chernin Group got involved not before it.

I have no inside knowledge on this, and I’m not suggesting Barstool won’t continue growing and dominating. They likely will. It just raises questions about how the brand will manage sales, PR, critical internal and external issues, and battles with suitors when they try to lure away Barstool’s on-air and sales talent.

The business end of Barstool appears weaker today than it did a week ago. That’s more of a testament to what Erika did than a knock on anyone still there. To grow revenue the way she did the past 8 years speaks volumes about her skill as an executive. Wherever she lands next, it’s likely she’ll make a difference.

Will it be easier to do business with Barstool moving forward? Time will tell. I don’t expect they’ll make it easier for media outlets like ours to cover them. But if I’ve learned anything in eight years of following them it’s don’t ever bet against Dave Portnoy. Too often people have. Each time he’s proven them wrong. Portnoy has built a powerhouse brand, and grown the business by zigging when others zagged. But how Barstool moves forward without Erika will be of great interest to many in 2024.

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Spike Eskin will be leaving WFAN and his position as the VP of Programming for Audacy to return to WIP and co-host the afternoon show. On paper this is a great move for WIP. Spike understands Philadelphia and WIP’s audience, he lives and breathes Philly sports, and has a great rapport with the entire lineup. He’s maintained an on-air presence through his Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast, and I believe that moving into a host role alongside Ike Reese and Jack Fritz will be a seamless transition for all involved. Being in his mid to late 40’s, he’s also got plenty years ahead of him to cement his spot as an on-air talent. I expect Spike, Ike and Jack to do well together.

But to exit WFAN and the top programming role at Audacy in less than three years, raises a few questions. Why is this opportunity better for Spike than the programming role he just held? Was he happy at WFAN? Were folks happy with him at WFAN? Many have opinions about WFAN’s changes the past few years. Some love the fresher approach. Others don’t. That’s what makes sports radio in New York fun, people care.

As a follower of WFAN for over thirty years, it’s a different brand than the one I grew up on. That’s not a bad thing by the way. I’m almost 50. If Spike and Chris Oliviero programmed to please the Mike and the Mad Dog crowd that’d be a mistake. Attention spans are shorter, content options are larger, digital is more important and the days of a city flocking to the radio at 1pm to hear a host’s first words are gone. Judging from the ratings, revenue, and turnout for Boomer and Gio’s last live event, the station is doing well. They’ve got a lot of talent, a stronger digital game, and they’ll continue thriving. Spike deserves credit for the brand’s progress.

But why is a hosting role and less influence over a brand better for Eskin? Spike has been a part of WIP’s afternoon show before. Though leading the show vs. being the third mic is a different animal. He also programmed the station really well. In fact, Spike did such a good job at WIP that it landed him the top programming position in sports radio. Is there a personal part to this given that his father made afternoons in Philly must-listen for 25 years? Or is it about the personal relationship he has with Ike and Jack?

And how does this work from a financial standpoint? It’s likely that Spike was paid more to lead Audacy New York than Jon Marks was to host WIP’s afternoon show. If that’s the case, and nothing changes for Eskin, and WIP just adds payroll, does it affect what Chris Oliviero can spend on Audacy New York’s next brand leader? I can’t see that happening at all. Chris is going to make sure he has what he needs to land the right leader in New York.

Finances only come up because it’s known that Audacy is going through a bankruptcy process. Adding expenses right now seems unlikely. However, to add someone with Eskin’s skill and track record at a station where he previously shined is smart business, especially when you consider that he can win as a host and programmer if needed. That’s going to naturally lead to folks asking ‘will Spike eventually host PM drive and program WIP? If so, what does that mean for current PD Rod Lakin?’ ‘What happens when talent at WIP that Spike had a hand in hiring don’t like what Lakin suggests or if WIP’s ratings decline?’

Spike told Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie that’s not on his radar and the idea of joining the afternoon show was raised by PD Rod Lakin. Some of you may read that and be surprised that Lakin would suggest it. But Rod stepped into the role that Eskin previously held. I’m sure they’ve talked plenty the past few years. If their relationship is strong that should help. I don’t know it well enough to say if it is or isn’t. This move suggests Lakin’s more concerned with strengthening WIP than worrying about himself or industry chatter.

If anyone can navigate the situation and make it work, it’s Rod Lakin. He’s calm, cool, collected, smart and doesn’t get flustered by noise and pressure. I know this because we’ve known each other for over a decade, and I introduced him to folks years ago, which led to him landing the Philly role. If you read Derek Futterman’s piece on Angelo Cataldi last month, the Philly icon shared a small example of what makes Rod a great leader.

But Rod and Spike understand the business. They know people are going to ask these questions. The flurry of texts and emails I received about this last week was insane. I’m sure it was even louder on the local level. Many will suggest that Audacy will use this as an opportunity to eventually reduce expenses and stay strong by having Eskin handle two roles. Only those involved know the answers but one thing I know is that Rod Lakin knows how to program. If he’s not supported there, he’ll have plenty of interest elsewhere.

In a perfect world, Spike excels in afternoons, Rod leads WIP to greater success, and WFAN finds a great leader to move the brand forward. But until the smoke clears, noise will fill the air in the big apple and city of brotherly love.

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Thumbs Up:

Colin Dunlap, 93.7 The Fan: While on the air last week, Dunlap received a call from a 65-year old woman named Colette. She told the Pittsburgh host that she and her husband were disabled and after undergoing 28 surgeries, she was physically struggling to clear her walkway of snow. Hearing her story moved Dunlap to react. He then called on the audience to step up and help. Shortly thereafter, one of 93.7 The Fan’s listeners, a gentleman named Tom, phoned in, and made the drive over to help out a fellow listener. That’s the power of live radio at its best, all possible by Dunlap reading and reacting to the situation perfectly.

Clay Travis, Outkick: Whether you love him or hate him, Clay delivers strong opinions and commands your attention. A perfect example was his Friday night reaction video to the demise of Sports Illustrated. If you haven’t watched it, it’s worth checking out. It’s nearing one million views at the time of my writing this.

VSiN: The sports betting network based out of Las Vegas recently redesigned its website and the new look and feel of it is excellent. Clean throughout, easy to navigate, and rich of content. Nice work by Bill Adee all involved.

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Thumbs Down:

Sports Illustrated: Laying off the majority of its staff was bad enough, but to notify people by email or have them find out on social media shows a lack of class and a disgusting approach to running a business. All of those traits by the way are the exact opposite of what SI once stood for – RESPECT.

During SI’s glory days, the content was must read. But in recent years, the outlet landed in the hands of operators who valued clicks over quality. Many predicted and expected this once storied brand to crumble. Unfortunately, the naysayers were proven right.

To those affected, I’m sorry for the crummy news. Some will rebound and help other established brands. Some will launch their own platforms or exit the industry. Anyone looking to do future freelancing work is invited to email [email protected].

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BSM Summit Update:

I’m happy to share that Good Karma Brands president Steve Politziner, Edison Research co-founder and president Larry Rosin and ESPN Chicago program director Danny Zederman have been added to our lineup. We’ve also finalized two of our four awards recipients and are working on a third. I’m hoping to share those details soon along with a few other high profile additions to this year’s show. I’ll be heading to Las Vegas during Super Bowl week, which is when we reveal our BSM Top 20 of 2023, and after that I’m hoping to finalize our schedule so it can be released by the end of February.

I know everyone likes waiting until the last minute to buy tickets and reserve hotel rooms. If you want to avoid being left out though, the time to act is now. Everything you need is posted on BSMSummit.com. Our deadline for hotel room reservations is February 13th. We’ve also sent out free ticket contests by email to the advertising community and tri-state area colleges. We’ll have two more this week for executives and programmers. Be sure to check your spam folder just in case it doesn’t arrive in your inbox.

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2-Seconds to Vent:

Jimmy Pitaro, Eric Shanks, John Skipper, Nick Khan, Colin Cowherd, Paul Finebaum, Clay Travis, Craig Carton, Adam Schein, Michael Kay, and Fred Toucher all have something in common with many others across the industry. They’re accomplished professionals with plenty on their plate yet when contacted, they always respond. Most of the time, they do so quickly. That’s greatly appreciated.

If those tasked with running the largest media companies in America, and hosting shows with content, advertising, and audience commitments can find time to respond, why is it so hard for other professionals to do the same? If you don’t want to be featured on BSM, speak at a Summit, market with us or answer a question, just say ‘not interested‘. It takes two seconds. The best in the business understand the value of relationships and promotion. Unfortunately, many do not. I don’t use this platform to draw attention to these issues but sometimes I wonder, should I?

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Original Projects:

On BNM this week we’re doing five days of features on NPR professionals as part of ‘Public Radio Week‘. It’s not easy pulling it off but we’re trying some different stuff. Next week we launch ‘Where Are They Now‘ on BSM. Peter Schwartz will have the first feature next Tuesday. Coming up in February, we drop the BSM Top 20, Derek Futterman’s ‘Day Spent With‘ series which includes spending a day with professionals across different areas of the industry, and we’ll profile a number of black voices on BNM as part of the brand’s focus on Black History month. I hope you’ll check them out whenever time allows.

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Recommended Viewing:

If you’re looking for a movie to watch during the week, check out Blackberry if you haven’t already done so. The film is about the rise and fall of the Blackberry phone, and I thought it was excellent. It had a similar feel to the movie Jobs, and the series Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber. Worth your time if you’ve got two hours available to watch something different than live games or sports programming.

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If you have a question or comment you’d like addressed in a future column, please send it to [email protected]. That same email address can be used to pass along press releases, interview requests or news tips. Thanks for reading!

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The 2024 BNM Summit is Coming To Washington D.C.

“Tickets will be regularly priced at $299.99 but for the month of January they’re on-sale for $199.99. Prices will not be this low after February 1st.”

Jason Barrett

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2024 BNM Summit

What better way to kick off the new year than to make an announcement. We’ve been working on our plan for the 2024 BNM Summit for months and I’m stoked to share the news today with the news media industry.

In 2023, we had an excellent debut event in Nashville. I recognize that I’m a new face to many in news talk radio and television. For that reason, I wasn’t sure what to expect last time. Would folks make the trip? What would our sponsor support look like? Could I create the right agenda for those in attendance? There were a lot of questions to answer. Judging from the feedback, I think we passed the test.

As we talked about the next one and reviewed industry responses, I knew we’d have to raise our game in an election year. We listed New York City, Chicago, Dallas, and Washington D.C. as possible destinations, and all were attractive for different reasons. But we can only pick one, and I’m excited to share that the 2024 BNM Summit is coming to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C..

The dates of the show will be Wednesday September 4th and Thursday September 5th. We’ll have more details leading up to the show. One thing you’ll want to take advantage of now is our special sale on tickets. Our regular price will be $299.99 but for the month of January tickets are on-sale for $199.99. Prices will not be this low after February 1st. We have 250 seats in the venue so it’s first come, first served.

When we considered the possibility of bringing the Summit to D.C., we knew it had a ton of benefits. There were great options for speakers, and numerous brands and networks operating locally. Being accessible to politicians, the NAB, and other businesses was also appealing. All that was needed was the right venue with nearby hotel options. Fortunately, we found it.

The Jack Morton Auditorium at The George Washington University will serve as our location for September’s show. It’s an awesome venue, which has been used before for high profile events. There’s also great parking and an awesome food court nearby, and it’s close to the main local landmarks. Having 3-4 hotels within walking distance was another advantage. Speaking of which, we’ll have more details on our hotel options soon.

The key information to be aware of for now are the dates of the show, and the special January ticket price. We’ll add speakers in the upcoming months and email attendees for insight on what they wish to learn at our next event. We expect this to be a strong conference, and I’m excited to bring the industry together a half a mile away from the White House.

If your group sponsored last year’s show or didn’t and would like to, reach out to Stephanie Eads. She has this year’s sponsorship deck now available. We had outstanding support last year, and expect demand for this one to be even higher. Stephanie can be reached at [email protected] or 415-312-5553.

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