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Playing The Game Without Coaches

Jason Barrett



Imagine this scenario. It’s the fourth quarter, less than a minute left, your football team is down 1 point, and your offense is on the field and on the verge of crossing the 50. The goal is to either score a Touchdown or kick a field goal and win the game.

qb1The players approach the huddle looking to the quarterback for instruction on what play they’ll be executing, only this time the quarterback has no answer.

He explains to the group that the coaches have vacated the sideline and are no longer calling plays, so they’re now left to their own devices and the outcome of the game rests in their hands.

The Quarterback selects a play which he hopes will work and propel the team onto victory, and on this day, his decision making pays off and the team exits the field with a 2 point victory.

nocoachesThe excited bunch head to the locker room, ready to celebrate, except when they arrive, their pride and enthusiasm are deflated when they realize that there are no coaches around to offer a post-game speech or distribute game balls to the team’s top performers.

They leave the stadium, and head home, trusting that the next day will be different. Except it isn’t.

They arrive at the practice facility expecting to get treatments and go over game tape but once again the coaches are absent. This leaves the players upset, confused, and frustrated. Although they are talented and enjoy some independence, they also want to improve and receive guidance from their coaches.

winningHoping to get a sense of what’s going on, the quarterback seeks out the owner. When he explains how the group is frustrated because they’re receiving no coaching, the owner replies “Relax. All that matters is that we make money. Winning and losing is not important”.

The quarterback leaves the owner’s office, returns to his locker, and tries to process what he’s been told. If the only thing that matters is selling tickets, advertising, and broadcasting rights, then why does it matter who’s on the field, if they make plays, and who wins the contest?

This example may be farfetched for the National Football League, but it’s unfortunately a reality inside a number of radio stations today.

nielsenI was raised in this business with the understanding that the ratings are your report card. The grade you receive from the audience tells you whether or not your product is successful. A higher number means more interest from advertisers and the more they spend, the easier it becomes to distribute raises to employees for a job well done.

While there are brands that care deeply about the performance of their radio stations, there are many others that measure success by the revenue generated by their sales teams. Although I agree that sales are vital, I also believe that results should be delivered on the programming end too.

wantThe audience is not privy to your business plan, nor do they care what you make or lose each year or if your stock price has risen or declined. They simply want to tune in, hear a local host discuss the teams and topics they care most about, and gain something from the content to share with their friends and family. The more unique content experiences you provide, the more tune-ins you’ll receive.

But how exactly do you produce unique on-air content experiences? Is it solely the responsibility of the on-air talent? Does a producer have skin in the game? What about the Program Director’s involvement?

The answer in my opinion is that it’s a shared responsibility. More times than not it’s going to start with having an inquisitive talent on the air who is masterful with the english language and has a brain that allows them to consider possibilities that are uncommon to the rest of us. That’s part of being a special talent.

coachesBut even the best thinkers and content creators experience brain freeze and need to be coached, challenged, and given tips on how to improve.

If you watch baseball, you probably know the names Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. They’re incredible players who have each won an MVP Award and they’re also both under 25 years of age. As great as they are, they still need to be coached.

Do you think just because they have talent that they have it all figured out and won’t ever fail?

mlbThere’s a lot left in their respective careers and there are many obstacles they’ve yet to face. Regardless of how naturally skilled they may be, they each will need the benefit of great guidance to help them reach their full potential.

When a new pitcher comes up and has a certain strategy for attacking the zone, do you think that information might be helpful to them before they enter the batter’s box? Sure, maybe they’ll get lucky and connect on the first pitch and hit a homerun, but great players seek every advantage they can get to be successful and they rely on their coaches to help them.

What happens when they each sign larger contracts in the future and become Major League Baseball’s highest paid athletes, generating over 500 million dollars apiece? Do you think they won’t deal with different pressures, expectations, larger challenges off the field, and jealousy from inside their own clubhouses? When that happens, don’t you think they’ll want coaches they can trust to help them through some of their uncomfortable moments?

aloneNow think about that from a radio standpoint. There are some operators who assume just because an individual possesses talent, and receives a big paycheck that they don’t need coaching. The feeling becomes “He/She knows what they’re doing so leave them alone”. When that happens, many stop learning, and begin to treat their show as a responsibility instead of a labor of love.

I understand that it is a business, so if a company wants to adopt that approach and leave the talent in the middle of the ocean to swim to shore without a life preserver, that’s certainly their right. But I believe that you get the most out of people when you show them you care about the work they’re doing and invest time in gauging how they feel about the show, offering ideas to make it feel and sound better, and addressing any issues or concerns that are creating tension. It tells them that you’re paying attention and care about their progress.

creed2Each week I receive dozens of emails from people across this country seeking my coaching. I’m grateful that they think enough of me to want my feedback and it impresses me to see individuals seeking outside help to try and get better. That commitment to self improvement is what helps good performers become great. Every radio company should want people like that working for them because when people possess talent and treat their craft seriously, it pushes those they work with to be their best.

As excited as I am to see many striving to get getter, I’m equally saddened by the reminder of how many radio stations invest little to no time in their most important asset – their people.

chefI realize that the business has become difficult for programmers. Many corporate executives and station managers are disconnected from the product and don’t understand how the meal gets made, who’s involved in making it, or why the customer is eating it. They simply look at the total amount of meals made, what it cost, how many were sold, and what type of profit they generated from it.

That’s business, and business does come first. But unlike music stations which have the benefit of relying on the music created by artists to fill their airwaves, sports talkers only go as far as their on-air talent can take them. If the talent is left to roam through the desert without a compass, it’s only a matter of time until you’re sending in the search party to find them. The great ones will find their way, but even those who aren’t great right now, may have the ability to reach that level in the future, but without coaching you’re limiting their potential to grow.

When I landed my first Program Director job in Poughkeepsie, NY I had no idea what I was doing. I had passion, a good work ethic, and my co-workers responded well to my lead. I had no idea though what content made the most sense to focus on, what separated a good promo from a bad promo, how the station could increase its ratings, or why an on-air talent should or shouldn’t take calls or conduct interviews. There was no book, seminar or mentor available to teach me how to become a good programmer. I was just thrust into the position and had to learn on the job.

NHB and Devito in PoughkeepsieBut that was Poughkeepsie, NY. In most smaller markets where budgets don’t exist, that’s to be expected. Why it’s set up that way though in some top 20 markets is frightening.

I know some programmers today who are running three or four radio stations inside one building, and also have roles either in production or on a talk show. There is even a situation where one sports station is led by a music station programmer who has a strong disdain for sports talk and tells the staff that he wants no involvement with them.

When I hear of these situations it’s very concerning. We can blame the individuals for a bad attitude and not getting enough out of the staff, but the bigger question is, how did these positions get created in the first place?

Maybe someone accepted the position because it included a raise. Or they were pressured into it by their company. If employers though believe an individual is going to make people better, maximize the radio station’s potential, and do good work when they’re spread that thin and running formats they dislike, they’re kidding themselves. A few may skate by for a while but eventually the results suffer and people leave.

cashI had a conversation last week with someone I previously worked with who’s on a station that is getting soundly beaten in their local market by the competition. When I asked him what he was doing to reverse the latest trends and make a bigger impact with the audience, he told me that the ratings performance didn’t matter in his building, only the station’s revenue. When I asked him “how do you factor into that if you don’t deliver numbers or sell advertising for the company” he said “I just go to and from work, do my show and let the sales people worry about it”.

That answer bothered me because if you work in programming in this industry, the reason you do it is because you’re creative, passionate, love sports, enjoy competition, and want to be a success. The better you perform, the more money you make, the more popular you become, and the more successful you feel.

You also value the audience and have pride in your work, and care about the product you’re delivering. When you decided to pursue a career in this business, you didn’t do it because you wanted to fill air time and be seen as someone who was in a chair to sell sponsor messages. You pursued being a host because you felt you had something to say, you enjoyed connecting with people, and you felt your knowledge and presentation could help a company command a larger audience which in turn would help them generate revenue.

If the only thing defining your success now is whether Johnny or Suzy in sales sell spots inside of your show and meet their sales budget, then why are you even necessary? If it’s only about the advertising revenue, shouldn’t Johnny or Suzy host the show? I bet they’d increase their sales if they also had the air time to go with their selling skills.

If you’re not a host but are responsible for managing the radio station, and you’re not making time to coach your people and grow the radio station’s ratings, why aren’t you? Your title says “Program Director” not “Sales Assistant”, “Corporate Associate”, or “Budget Administrator”. I understand that the position is demanding and every department wants your time, but sometimes you have to say no.

assetThere is nothing more important to your future success and maintaining your position then the way you connect with your people. If they don’t get your input and their perception of you is that you’re uninterested in the product and their personal growth, they will eventually leave. When a brand’s best people depart, the performance declines, and when that happens, don’t be surprised if you’re the next one the company is calling on to vacate the premises.

Talent has to matter and factor into every sports radio station’s strategy and success. No brand wins without great on-air personalities and they don’t reach their full potential without regular coaching from experienced leaders who understand how to help them win. Why that’s not considered important in some buildings is beyond my level of comprehension. You’d think that with competition increasing in the audio space today that there’d be an even larger focus placed on securing great leaders who can guide a brand to bigger results. Unfortunately though that’s not the case in each location.

When I hear a brand state that only sales matter, it’s usually because their programming isn’t generating big numbers. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money. Believe me, I want to win the revenue game too, and feed my family lobster instead of ramen noodles. But programming is the lifeblood of the sports radio format and if it’s not great, and not consistently worked on, then you become non-essential to the audience. Without an audience, your business is on life support.

peopleThe goal in every organization should be to maximize the talent’s skills, show them the strengths and weaknesses in their show, and point out where the opportunities exist in the market to enjoy larger success. You do that by holding regular conversations, critiquing content, pointing out trends in the ratings, and explaining why they should do more or less of something during the show.

At first, many personalities will resist the feedback because they’re prideful and insecure and hate being judged. But when they walk away and think about what you said, they’ll appreciate it, respect it, and look to improve because every great performer wants to earn the trust, respect and support of the person they work for.

Some companies value coaching and the impact it has on their people. Others do not. Neither is right or wrong but a strong performance benefits every single company and individual. You can focus on helping your company make money, and that may be the ultimate measure of your brand’s success, but if you really want to laugh all the way to the bank, do yourself a favor and invest some time in your talent. After all, they’ll be the ones most responsible for your audience listening, your advertisers calling, and your sales budget being exceeded.

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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



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

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



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.


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.


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.


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].


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 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.


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?


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.


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.


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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Justin Craig, Chris Kinard, Mary Menna Added to 2024 BSM Summit Lineup

“What I’ve always enjoyed about the BSM Summit is that it showcases speakers from many different areas of the industry.”

Jason Barrett



To kick off 2024, we’re announcing the additions of three more talented broadcasters to our 2024 BSM Summit. More on that shortly. The Summit takes place March 13-14 at the Ailey Theater in New York City. For tickets, hotel rooms, and additional details, visit Those interested in sponsorship opportunities, contact Stephanie Eads. A number of items are already claimed but she can tell you what’s left. Reach her by email at [email protected] or by phone at 415-312-5553.

What I’ve always enjoyed about the Summit is that it showcases speakers from different areas of the industry. We’ve featured top talent, researchers, agents, digital leaders, podcasting experts, ratings analysts, tech builders, play by play voices, and of course, program directors and market managers. There’s many ways to succeed, and no better way to learn than to hear from folks who consistently win.

In the sports audio world, 98.5 The Sports Hub, 106.7 The Fan, and ESPN Radio are highly respected brands. The Hub and The Fan are dominant in Boston and Washington D.C.. ESPN Radio meanwhile maintains a strong position as one of the top national audio brands. All feature strong leaders, and we’re fortunate to have all of them represented in NYC.

It’s a pleasure to welcome Beasley Boston Market Manager Mary Menna to the Summit. This is her first appearance at the conference. Mary is responsible for managing The Hub’s business, currently the top revenue generating brand in all of sports radio. I’m excited to have her offer her insights on a panel with Chris Oliviero and Scott Sutherland. More details on the session, date/time closer to the show.

On the programming side, it’s great to welcome back Chris Kinard of 106.7 The Fan, and Justin Craig of ESPN Radio. Both will be involved in programming panels at the show.

CK has helped lead The Fan and Team 980 to consistent growth in the nation’s capital. He’s a forward thinking type of leader with a great feel for the current and future challenges facing the business. I’m looking forward to having him share a few lessons he’s learned with the rest of the room.

For my friend JC, he’s seen ESPN Radio evolve for the better part of two decades. Liked and respected by most, he’s valued and trusted to guide ESPN Radio’s day-to-day operations. Given the network’s change in focus, talent, and structure, he’ll have great insights to share on where national sports audio is moving.

Our speaker list now sits at twenty. It will grow much more over the next two months as we reveal other additions to the show. We’ll also be announcing our award winners, and a few other surprises. This is a fun and informative two-day event for sports media professionals. If you haven’t joined us before, I hope you’ll do so this time. Everything you need to know prior to the event will be available at

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