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Appreciating The Legacy of Mike and Mike

Jason Barrett

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If you missed the announcement this morning on ESPN Radio and television, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic confirmed that they have been selected to enter the NAB Hall of Fame in 2016. The duo learned of the honor two weeks ago but wanted to hold off on publicly announcing it until ESPN President John Skipper was able to make the announcement with them.

MikeMike“Mike and Mike” have been a staple of sports radio since 1998 and they are more than deserving of this honor. The show has been serving listeners across the country for over 15 years, and regardless of your personal style preferences, few would deny they have a strong ability to entertain and inform. They also are very topical with their content and feature as good of a guest list as there is in radio.

In sports, if you perform at a high level, are the face of your franchise, and win multiple championships, you eventually get your name called to join the elite in the Hall of Fame. In broadcasting it’s sort of similar but the results that everyone delivers are usually very secretive so knowing the impact a show has on a local or national scale isn’t always easy to recognize.

None the less, if you’re the face of the ESPN Radio franchise for as long as “Mike and Mike” have been, clearly you’re doing something well.

Having been in this business as long as I have, I’ve seen how they operate. I was a colleague of theirs at ESPN Radio and I ran 101 ESPN in St. Louis when the station signed on and they were our morning show.

SW - JB and GolicFirst, as a colleague, they were very invested in their show and staff. Both were very approachable, although Golic was the more likely of the two to extend a hallway conversation. This was during a time when they both did TV later in the day. Greeny would contribute as a SportsCenter anchor and Golic as an Analyst on various shows. To say that they were being overextended would be an understatement.

A typical day would include hosting a 4 and a half hour (they were on from 5:30a-10a back then) morning show, showing up an hour or two before it to get ready, having a post-show conversation, discussing the next day’s plan, recording a look ahead promo for the network, and then reading liners and endorsements for local stations. After that they’d get a break, grab something to eat, maybe make a phone call or two and then it was on to preparing for the next ESPN assignment.

As the years have progressed they’ve reduced their workload but I remember how hard these guys worked for ESPN and I always respected it. We often say in radio that the top performers should lead by example, and “Mike and Mike” set a good one.

mmMore impressive to me though was how Greeny and Golic communicated with me once I was running a local station which featured them as our morning show. They cared about the success of the radio station, and although they were 1500 miles away and unable to be physically present around the brand, that didn’t stop them from doing extra things to help out. I could alert the guys of something by text or email and they’d follow up. I probably benefitted because they knew me a little but they didn’t have to. Their extra effort stood out.

One major misconception industry folks have about network programs on their airwaves is that the show is part of some other company and not connected to the radio station. That’s inaccurate. You can prefer to carry a local show, and most operators do and I happen to lean that way myself, but very few in this business would disagree that if they could hire “Mike and Mike” to do a locally focused show, they’d sign up for it in an instant. The issue was never their talent, more so the national image and topic structure.

blankRegardless though of where the content originates from, it’s coming through the speakers of your radio station. If it’s going to appear on your airwaves, then it’s up to the programmer, the air staff, the sales staff and the production department to make it sound connected to everything else the radio station does.

I’d write personality promos for the guys that offered a local twist, we’d use clips from their show in recorded show promos that focused on issues of importance to the local audience, we’d play soundbites from their shows that touched on local subjects and have our other local shows discuss them, and we’d have the guys call into our local programs occasionally plus voice commercials for local clients.

We even had them in town for a LIVE broadcast around the All-Star game and got them to do a video piece to recap their in-market visit. By the way, the girl at the end of the video was not staged. It happened organically and couldn’t have worked out any better.

Not every national host works this way but Greeny and Golic understood that by supporting us, it made it easier to support them. No business relationship works without a mutual commitment. Despite St. Louis being a provincial town which cares deeply about local issues and less about national topics, the program was consistently rated in the top 5 and was as high as #3 while I was there.

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Funny enough, the show almost never made the air. The original plan in St. Louis wasn’t to put them on 101 ESPN. Instead the plan was to go local in mornings and carry Colin Cowherd. I love Colin’s show and being local in morning drive presented more business opportunities for the brand than middays, but as we sized up situations and analyzed what would be best to generate ratings, the plan got changed. I’m thankful it did because it worked.

And that’s probably the best way I can describe “Mike and Mike” to someone who asks about their morning show – it just works.

twasThe show has become a big part of the sports radio format’s growth over the past fifteen years, and that speaks to their ability to not only have outstanding talent, but also evolve with the times. People don’t realize that Golic has had a longer career in broadcasting than football, and he’s been gone from the NFL for 22 years. What worked on-air in the late 90’s and early 2000’s is different than what works now, but yet they keep finding their way into good content. Social media also didn’t exist back then yet both guys are present and active in the space.

Two final things stand out to me in evaluating the legacy of “Mike and Mike”.

First, their success validates ESPN’s decision to build the radio network profile around them. In the mid-2000’s, the network was seen as the playground for Tony Kornheiser and Dan Patrick. Bruce Gilbert and the higher ups had a different vision and wanted to showcase Greeny and Golic more. Before too long the television simulcast was born and TV promos became heavily present on all ESPN programming showcasing the differences between the two men.

The campaign connected with everyday people, and as more people flocked to the show, “Mike and Mike” did a good job of keeping them around. Throughout the years they’ve continued to use television marketing to grow the awareness of the “Mike and Mike” brand, taking on different messaging along the way, and once again, it has resonated.

Despite the show’s awareness being sky high and the product itself maintaining a level of excellence for more than fifteen years, there have been concerns with the show in recent times. Last year Cris Carter was often a third member of the show during the football season, and the network announced plans this past May to add Molly Qerim as a permanent part of the program.

Except it never happened. And I believe that’s a good thing.

Here’s the deal, if you don’t like what “Mike and Mike” bring to the table, that’s fine. I’ve never once heard anyone say the show lacked chemistry or ability and I find that those who reject the show, usually do so because they prefer local programming or more opinionated personalities like Colin Cowherd and Jim Rome.

mikemikeBut that’s not who they are or claim to be and to expect them to be something different is asking them to not be authentic. Sure the show can be corny at times and I’ve heard people tell me they feel like the show serves as the “protector of the mouse” but they also deliver excellent interviews, their topic selection is elite, and you can tune in during any 20-30 minute portion of the show and feel like you’ve caught up on what you missed last night. They inform and entertain in a way that they are comfortable with and no amount of industry or social media backlash is going to change that. Nor should it.

Can you imagine if social media was around in the 60’s and 70’s? Shows like “The Odd Couple”, “The Honeymooners”, “Different Strokes”, “Dukes of Hazzard” and “All In The Family” would have been crippled because of it.

I can see the tweet already, “Daisy Duke is being held back by Bo and Luke. She needs her own show“. As feedback pours in, executives react and the next thing you know, one of the great shows you grew up on gets altered simply because of the fear of negative commentary.

“Mike and Mike” may not be perfect, but they’ve stood the test of time, continue to excel and make adjustments, and they’ve led the charge for ESPN Radio for almost two decades. They deserve to enjoy this journey together for however long it will last, without anyone trying to occupy the middle seat. It’s the least they deserve for what they’ve contributed to the success of the world’s largest sports network.

As we see with so many great performers who displays their skills for a long period of time, we’re going to recognize and point out their flaws and question whether they’ve still got it. But when you add it all up, Greeny and Golic are still going strong and aren’t even close to being finished. Sometimes we stop appreciating what we have in front of us. In this case, we may have done it with a program that’s of Hall of Fame caliber.

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

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When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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