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Is Radio Ready For The Rise of Digital?

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Steve Jobs once said “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them” and he was exactly right. When a new product or piece of content is created and promoted through audio and visual platforms, it often leads to increased curiosity from the consumer. With each additional marketed message, the audience becomes more emotionally attached, and soon that intrigue leads to a sale or an investment of their time. It’s this very formula that fuels the growth of the music, sports, and entertainment industries.

When Jobs introduced the Apple computer, iPod, and iPhone, people lined up to purchase each product because they believed in the possibilities of what those products represented. They had no knowledge of how they’d work because they’d yet to use them, but because they were marketed well and ignited the consumer’s interest, it led to massive sales, and made Apple one of America’s most successful companies.

stanIt was that same approach that led 30 NFL owners to change direction and throw their support behind Rams owner Stan Kroenke when he was looking to move his team from St. Louis to Los Angeles earlier this year. Kroenke had to overcome competition from the Raiders and Chargers to turn the tide in his favor, and to do so, he let a room full of billionaires see the vision and fall in love with its possibilities.

“One of the most important things that nailed it (Tuesday) is that we just kept showing them pictures,” Kroenke said. “People love pictures. And what those pictures showed was the thought and the development and the plan, and the depth of the thought.”

When a great idea is captured visually, it becomes more enticing to the consumer. It percolates in their minds and fuels their curiousity. This is what drives large activity and interest in social and digital media.

Throughout the years, radio has been consistently late to the party when new ideas have been introduced. Whether it was the creation of websites, streaming, mobile listening, or the use of social media marketing, there’s always been a wait and see approach rather than a dive right in mentality. Whether that’s due to tunnel vision, a shortage of resources, or a fear of compromising its own success over the airwaves, the reality is that radio often plays catch up in a world that thrives on innovation and longs for the next big thing.

For this piece, I want to focus on the surge of social and digital media and how radio is operating in each space. It’s clearly where people are and where future business is moving, and although many brands are represented in these circles, they also lack vision and strategy.

Quite honestly, we are not innovating enough on these platforms. Our creativity and repurposing of content leaves a lot to be desired. We’re providing a basic experience and relying on the medium itself to save us, rather than understanding what must be done in the space to enjoy success.

dig1I don’t say this to hurt feelings but rather to enlighten many who may not recognize how many missed opportunities are occurring and how damaging it can be. With digital media projected to rake in 38-45% of all media ad spending between 2017-2020 (the most of any platform) and radio slotted for only 6-7%, you can see why it’s more important than ever to be crisp and creative in these places.

I browsed thirty radio station accounts (coast to coast) on Facebook and Twitter, and only two of them promoted their podcasts on their social media accounts. The writing for promoting those podcasts lacked any call to action for the listener “Podcast Hour 1 of the ____ show”. No mention of the topics discussed or key headlines offered by the host and no teases for what the listener might learn if they listen.

If you’re including a link and expecting someone to leave the social media platform they’re on, then you’ve got to give them a reason to do so. Otherwise you’ll find those posts deliver lackluster results. Without clicks, your sales team is going to struggle to create a powerful narrative for advertisers who are shifting their radio spending into the digital arena.

As part of my research I discovered numerous radio station websites with mistakes on their websites, including their own lineups. News flash, Colin Cowherd is no longer on 10a-1p on ESPN Radio and Dan Le Batard’s show moved from 4pm over seven months ago.

I also learned that there are networks out there without a Facebook page and limited activity on Twitter. If these platforms are where your audience resides each day then how can you afford not to be present?

Some of our best shows are on the air for 20-25 hours per week. There’s a lot of opinion, humor, insight, and breaking news taking place during those hours, yet we lose sight of the fact that the audience isn’t consuming every minute of content that we provide. The material we create lives forever on our websites, but once the show is done, we assume everyone has heard it and consider the job complete once we upload the audio files onto the website.

However, we’re forgetting afterwards to promote our full hours, smaller audio clips, and special guest interviews. We also fail to use graphics to highlight big opinions, stories, and one-liners offered by our talent to redirect the audience back to our websites afterwards. Why? The content is available and the majority of the local population hasn’t heard it, but because the show ended when the host delivered their final word it’s no longer relevant? That’s a giant mistake.

fallonI’ve mentioned this numerous times, but Jimmy Fallon’s show is a hit because it exists well beyond the window of which it airs on television. Each day it’s promoted throughout all social media platforms, and when quality content is available in smaller lengths, people make it a point to check it out. Even if they saw it the night before, if it was great, they’ll watch it again, and share it with their friends.

For radio, we hear something while we’re in the car or listening on our phone, and have no reason to share it on social media platforms because it’s not available. To showcase it, we have to log on to the station’s website, copy the link, go back to our social media accounts, incorporate the link and write a line or two about it, and then press send, rather than just click the share button because the radio station we listen to made it available.

If by chance it is available, it’s often a full hour of content and that’s less likely to generate a click. Radio rarely offers smaller chunks of audio to its audiences via social media, and when something is provided, it’s usually not followed up the next day or the day after. If you want people to consume your content, put it in the right places, make it quick and easy to consume, and offer it consistently.

pasrcolinTake a look at the way Zach McCrite promotes a guest’s appearance on the “Podcast About Sports Radio” and think about the way this could be utilized with your station and/or top talk show. Each day hosts on sports radio stations are delivering headline worthy opinions, interesting facts or stories about themselves, and welcoming guests who treat them to new information. With a little time, effort, creativity, and promotion on social platforms, you can engage your audience and draw them back to your content.

One other trend I unfortunately noticed during my research was how only a handful promoted their key talk shows prior to going on the air. Those who did, offered the daily guest list.

Nearly half provided minimal interactions during their shows too. If you have thousands of people following your brand on social media, is it not possible that a meter or two might be part of the group? All it takes is letting them know there’s something worthwhile to tune in for, and if they do, it can lead to your show gaining additional ratings credit.

As far as promoting the guest list is concerned, here’s the issue with it. Are you telling your audience that your host(s) doesn’t have something interesting, funny, or powerful for the audience to tune in for? Do you think that the only reason they put the dial on is because of who you booked? The names may look sexy, and certain guests do lead to tune-ins, but so does a powerful opinion, a piece of information the audience may not be aware of, an opportunity to win a big prize, or a chance to call in and interact with the show.

Rather than tossing out the usual “Today’s show includes Michael Irvin at 7:30am, Karl Ravech at 8:15am and Jerry Crasnick at 9:30am”, how about adding a popular question, topic, or fact with the guest to make it more intriguing? For example, “How would Adam LaRoche’s situation be handled in an NFL locker room? Michael Irvin’s answer at 7:30am will surprise you.”

Aside from promoting guests, there are many other layers inside of a talk show that are important to the audience, and when you look at a 9-12 segment show, if a guest occupies 3 of those segments, that means 6-9 others don’t include a guest. By not promoting other topics, stories, and opportunities to interact, you’re telling the audience to worry about 1/3 of your show, not the rest of it.

IMG_8026I came across this example from “The Swain Event” and while I believe it needs more detail to draw people in, I was impressed with the effort prior to the show to try and give the audience an idea of what was coming up. They didn’t type 140 characters and rely on text to engage people, they instead used a graphic to make it more visually appealing. With some improved detail on the chalkboard, this can lead to listeners looking forward to learning what’s coming up each day.

Next, if you’ve not been paying attention, Facebook has invaded the video space, and they’re determined to make sure that you have zero reason to leave their platform to use Periscope or any other video application. With their entry into the video world comes big opportunity for radio stations and talk show hosts.

We know the audience spends a large portion of their time each day on Facebook, and the interest in being a fly on the wall inside the studio has always been high. It’s why radio show simulcasts on television have been such a hit.

hmIf you don’t have a television deal, this can be a great way to bring your audience on the inside and further promote your station and content. Depending on your radio station’s following on Facebook, you could end up with more people watching your video stream than they would a simulcast of your show on local television.

Something to keep in mind for the sales end of your operation, this could pay dividends for your clients too. Imagine if the host’s shirt was provided by a client. Or if they had a soft drink in front of them. Or a visual display behind them. The opportunities are endless.

Yes you can expect that Facebook is going to want their fair share of what you generate, but if advertisers are demanding your brand deliver bigger in social and digital spaces, this is an easy way to tap into it. Take a look at this example of the Haberman and Middlekauff show in San Francisco on 95.7 The Game who have already started video streaming daily.

You can already see how many views are coming in and as Facebook grows even bigger in the video world, you can expect the data will become even stronger for clients to take advantage of. One suggestion if you’re using this service, pay attention to the comments delivered by your listeners. If they’re taking the time to watch you, and trying to contribute to your program, they’re just as valuable as the person who’s taking the time to call your studio line while at work or in the car.

Although Facebook is powerful and expected to become an even bigger player in the video world, there are other video options available. Periscope for instance has been a huge attraction and plays perfectly with Twitter. With sports becoming a phenomenon in the Twittersphere, having your talent available in this location makes a ton of sense. It’s even better if you can find ways to incorporate your clients into it.

periscopeI was doing some digging and I stumbled across this example of what 106.7 The Fan in Washington DC is doing. Sports Anchor Pete Medhurst not only promotes and delivers his updates on Periscope and Twitter, but he also includes promotion for the sponsor and includes their twitter ID in his posts.

This shows the sponsor that they’re receiving their promotion, it makes them look good to those who follow the station and personality, and it’s non-intrusive which means the audience is less likely to be turned off by it. That’s very smart and something the sales team in DC can use with their clients to remind them that they’re incorporated into the radio station’s multi-media strategy.

Although some of these examples above show how we’re making strides to improve, we’ve still got to do a better job in how we highlight the content to get the audience interested in clicking our links. Too often station’s post links and headlines that leave little to be desired. You’ll see something like this: “Team X loses third straight”.

Ask yourself this, why would I click the link to that story on a radio station’s website, when ESPN, Yahoo, Sports Illustrated, Fox, Bleacher Report, and every other major national sports brand has the same result and likely more detail? If there’s no suspense or personalization, good luck driving large amounts of clicks.

If you think about the headline on the front page of a newspaper, it’s sole purpose is to get you to click the link and read the story. If you’re an old school individual who still likes to have the paper in their hand, they’re hoping to catch your eye and get you to buy the paper.

It’s that same mentality that’s needed when promoting your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or your own website. If you peak the listener’s curiosity, you stand a chance of them reading or listening to the content. If your headline lacks imagination and any sort of hook, the chances of them spending time consuming it becomes less.

saleTake a look at the way ESPN promoted Chris Sale’s reaction to the Adam LaRoche story. The text in the photo combined with the written message in the body of the post, displays great drama and makes you want to see what Sale said. ESPN even puts the word “WATCH” in capital letters to make sure you know that video exists and should be seen.

This story was popular and relatable to most people, and the way ESPN highlighted it increased their chances of gaining additional clicks.

The reason we spend the time creating content is to get an audience to consume it. When listeners become attached to our programming, that makes them attractive to advertisers, which allows our companies to capitalize on their listening and ultimately create a business. The focus for many in programming may not be on the bottom line but without positive results, there is no programming to offer.

If there’s two key things to takeaway from this column, it should be that content lives beyond your shift, and it must be distributed and promoted in a much more creative way across multiple locations consistently. The growth in digital is massive and it’s where the world’s listening and spending are headed. If radio isn’t dominant in this space, it’s going to have limited appeal and miss out on larger economic opportunities.

To those who are hosting or producing a show, think about the content you create and the multiple ways it can be promoted. That means using social media to promote your material before the show, during the show, and after the show. That includes providing long-form audio, shorter clips of memorable content, interviews, and anything else that’s clickworthy. Help yourself by taking notes during the show so the best stuff you create doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

rkAnytime you can provide an image to help your material cut through the clutter, it’s highly recommended. If providing a plain text post leads to a 3 out of 10 response, and a visual post doubles your chances, isn’t it worth it to put the extra time in to create something that intrigues your audience? Similar to the Podcast About Sports Radio example, here’s something 101 ESPN in St. Louis did to highlight the opinions of their hosts.

When you see this type of graphic, it peaks your curiosity. The text involves drama and leaves you wanting to learn more about the subject. These type of moments though get lost because we don’t think enough about how to use shorter content as a tool to increase consumption. If we’re listening to our talent, and maximizing the massive amounts of great content they produce during a show, we’ll thrive in the digital space.

Remember, there are few platforms generating 16-24 hours of live sports content per day. Every minute becomes an opportunity. The issue for our industry in social and digital arenas has never been a lack of quality material. It’s our own lack of awareness and reliance on doing what’s acceptable instead of what’s remarkable.

If we utilize our creativity, deliver consistently, and provide a little extra TLC to the various ways we can highlight our content on these platforms, we’ll satisfy the needs of the audience and make ourselves and our business viable and necessary. Our future earning potential depends on the way we adapt to this challenge. Let’s hope for all of our sakes that radio doesn’t repeat its previous mistakes.

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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

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How many times have you heard this sentence uttered at conferences or in one of the trades; radio has to do a better job of telling its story. Sounds reasonable enough right? After all, your brands and companies stand a better chance of being more consumed and invested in the more that others know about them.

But what specifically about your brand’s story matters to those listening or spending money on it? Which outlets are you supposed to share that news with to grow your listenership and advertising? And who is telling the story? Is it someone who works for your company and has a motive to advance a professional agenda, or someone who’s independent and may point out a few holes in your strategy, execution, and results?

As professionals working in the media business, we’re supposed to be experts in the field of communications. But are we? We’re good at relaying news when it makes us look good or highlights a competitor coming up short. How do we respond though when the story isn’t told the we want it to? Better yet, how many times do sports/news talk brands relay information that isn’t tied to quarterly ratings, revenue or a new contract being signed? We like to celebrate the numbers that matter to us and our teams, but we don’t spend much time thinking about if those numbers matter to the right groups – the audience and the advertisers.

Having covered the sports and news media business for the past seven years, and published nearly eighteen thousand pieces of content, you’d be stunned if you saw how many nuggets of information get sent to us from industry folks looking for publicity vs. having to chase people down for details or read things on social media or listen to or watch shows to promote relevant material. Spoiler alert, most of what we produce comes from digging. There are a handful of outlets and PR folks who are great, and five or six PD’s who do an excellent job consistently promoting news or cool things associated with their brands and people. Some talent are good too at sharing content or tips that our website may have an interest in.

Whether I give the green light to publish the material or not, I appreciate that folks look for ways to keep their brands and shows on everyone’s radar. Brand leaders and marketing directors should be battling daily in my opinion for recognition anywhere and everywhere it’s available. If nobody is talking about your brand then you have to give them a reason to.

I’m writing this column today because I just spent a day in New York City at the Disney Upfront, which was attended by a few thousand advertising professionals. Though I’d have preferred a greater focus on ESPN than what was offered, I understand that a company the size of Disney with so many rich content offerings is going to have to condense things or they’d literally need a full week of Upfronts to cover it all. They’re also trying to reach buyers and advertising professionals who have interests in more than just sports.

What stood out to me while I was in attendance was how much detail went into putting on a show to inform, entertain, and engage advertising professionals. Disney understands the value of telling its story to the right crowd, and they rolled out the heavy hitters for it. There was a strong mix of stars, executives, promotion of upcoming shows, breaking news about network deals, access to the people responsible for bringing advertising to life, and of course, free drinks. It was easy for everyone in the room to gain an understanding of the company’s culture, vision, success, and plans to capture more market share.

As I sat in my seat, I wondered ‘why doesn’t radio do this on a local level‘? I’m not talking about entertaining clients in a suite, having a business dinner for a small group of clients or inviting business owners and agency reps to the office for a rollout of forthcoming plans. I’m talking about creating an annual event that showcases the power of a cluster, the stars who are connected to the company’s various brands, unveiling new shows, promotions and deals, and using the event as a driver to attract more business.

Too often I see our industry rely on things that have worked in the past. We assume that if it worked before there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for the client. Sometimes that’s even true. Maybe the advertiser likes to keep things simple and communicate by phone, email or in-person lunch meetings. Maybe a creative powerpoint presentation is all you need to get them to say yes. If it’s working and you feel that’s the best way forward to close business, continue with that approach. There’s more than one way to reach the finish line.

But I believe that most people like being exposed to fresh ideas, and given a peak behind the curtain. The word ‘new’ excites people. Why do you think Apple introduces a new iPhone each year or two. We lose sight sometimes of how important our brands and people are to those not inside the walls of our offices. We forget that whether a client spends ten thousand or ten million dollars per year with our company, they still like to be entertained. When you allow business people to feel the excitement associated with your brand’s upcoming events, see the presentations on a screen, and hear from and interact with the stars involved in it, you make them feel more special. I think you stand a better chance of closing deals and building stronger relationships that way.

Given that many local clusters have relationships with hotels, theaters, teams, restaurants, etc. there’s no reason you can’t find a central location, and put together an advertiser appreciation day that makes partners feel valued. You don’t have to rent out Pier 36 like Disney or secure the field at a baseball stadium to make a strong impression. We show listeners they’re valued regularly by giving away tickets, cash, fan appreciation parties, etc. and guess what, it works! Yes there are expenses involved putting on events, and no manager wants to hear about spending money without feeling confident they’ll generate a return on investment. That said, taking calculated risks is essential to growing a business. Every day that goes by where you operate with a ‘relying on the past’ mindset, and refuse to invest in growth opportunities, is one that leaves open the door for others to make sure your future is less promising.

There are likely a few examples of groups doing a smaller scaled version of what I’m suggesting. If you’re doing this already, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up through email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. By and large though, I don’t see a lot of must-see, must-discuss events like this created that lead to a surplus of press, increased relationships, and most importantly, increased sales. Yet it can be done. Judging from some of the feedback I received yesterday talking to people in the room, it makes an impression, and it matters.

I don’t claim to know how many ad agency executives and buyers returned to the office from the Disney Upfront and reached out to sign new advertising deals with the company. What I am confident in is that Disney wouldn’t invest resources in creating this event nor would other national groups like NBC, FOX, CBS, WarnerMedia, etc. if they didn’t feel it was beneficial to their business. Rather than relying on ratings and revenue stories that serve our own interests, maybe we’d help ourselves more by allowing our partners and potential clients to experience what makes our brands special. It works with our listeners, and can work with advertisers too.

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Takeaways From The NAB Show and Six Days in Las Vegas

“I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm for the NAB Show was elevated this year.”

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Six days on the road can sometimes be exhausting. Six days in Las Vegas, and it’s guaranteed. That was my world last week, as I along with more than fifty thousand people headed to sin city to take in the 2022 NAB Show.

The event didn’t draw as many as it had in the past, but after two years of inactivity due to the pandemic, it was good to be back. Judging from some of the vendors I talked to, the sessions I attended, and the feedback I received from folks I met with, though far from perfect, it was a solid return for an important event. Seeing people interact, celebrate others, and talk about ways to improve the business was a positive reminder of the world being closer to the normal of 2019 than the normal of 2020-2021. The only negative from the week, the consistent failure of Uber to appear in the right place at the right time. But that had zero to do with the NAB.

It feels like whenever I attend industry conferences, there are two different type of reviews that follow. Some writers attend the show and see the glass half full. Others see the glass half empty. I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm was elevated this year. Maybe it was because BSM was a media partner or maybe it was due to the show not happening for years and just being happy to be among friends, peers, and clients and operate like normal. Either way, my glass was definitely half full.

For those who see events this way, it’s likely they’ll remember the numerous opportunities they had to create and reestablish relationships. They’ll also recall the access to different speakers, sessions, products, and the excellent research shared with those in attendance. The great work done by the BFOA to recognize industry difference makers during their Wednesday breakfast was another positive experience, as was the Sunday night industry gathering at The Mayfair Supper Club.

Included in the conference were sessions with a number of industry leaders. Radio CEO’s took the stage to point out the industry’s wins and growth, credit their employees, and call out audio competitors, big tech, and advertisers for not spending more with the industry. When David Field, Bob Pittman, Ginny Morris and Caroline Beasley speak, people listen. Though their companies operate differently, hearing them share their views on the state of the business is important. I always learn something new when they address the room.

But though a lot of ground gets covered during these interviews, there are a few issues that don’t get talked about enough. For instance, ineffective measurement remains a big problem for the radio business. Things like this shouldn’t happen, but they do. NBC and WarnerMedia took bold steps to address problems with TV measurement. Does radio have the courage to take a similar risk? That’s an area I’d like to see addressed more by higher ups.

I can’t help but wonder how much money we lose from this issue. Companies spend millions for a ratings service that delivers subpar results, and the accountability that follows is often maddening. Given the data we have access to digitally, it’s stunning that radio’s report card for over the air listening is determined by outdated technology. And if we’re going to tell folks that wearables are the missing ingredient for addressing this problem, don’t be shocked if the press that follows is largely negative. The industry and its advertising partners deserve better. So too do the reps at Nielsen who have to absorb the hits, and make the most of a tough situation.

Speaking of advertising, this is another one of those critical areas that deserves another point of view. Case in point, I talked to a few ad agency professionals at the show. Similar to what I’ve heard before, they’re tired of hearing radio leaders blame them for the industry’s present position. This has been a hot button topic with executives for years. I often wonder, do we help or hurt ourselves by publicly calling out advertisers and ad agencies? How would you feel if you ran an agency which spent millions on the industry and were told ‘you don’t do enough’? I’m a champion of radio/audio, and am bullish on spoken word’s ability to deliver results for clients, but having attended these shows for nearly seven years, it might be time for a new approach and message. Or maybe it’s time to put one of our CEO’s with one of theirs and have a bigger discussion. Just a thought.

Of the sessions that I attended, I thought Erica Farber’s ‘What Business Are You In?’ was excellent. I especially liked Taja Graham’s presentation on ‘Sharing Your Truth’. I also appreciated Eric Bischoff’s tips on ways to monetize podcasts, and am curious to see how Amazon’s AMP develops moving forward. My favorite session at the show though was “A GPS Session For Your Station’s Car Radio Strategy” led by Fred Jacobs. The insight shared by Joe D’Angelo of Xperi and Steve Newberry & Suzy Schultz of Quu was outstanding. Keeping the car companies on our side is vital to our survival, and how we position ourselves on the dashboard can’t be ignored. Other tech companies and audio operators take it seriously. We must too.

Sessions aside, it was great to check out the VSiN and Blue Wire studios, connect with a bunch of CEO’s, GM’s and Market Manager’s, and visit with Kevin Jones, Joe Fortenbaugh, Jeremiah Crowe, Jon Goulet, Bill Adee, Q Myers, Mike Golic Jr. and Stormy Buonantony. The NFL’s setup for the Draft, and the light show presented at the Bellagio was without a doubt spectacular, plus Stephanie had a chance to say hello to Raiders owner Mark Davis who was inside the back room of a Westgate restaurant where we were having a business lunch meeting. The personal tour we received at the Wynn showed off some of the best suites I’ve seen in Las Vegas, and I was finally able to witness Circa’s Stadium Swim in person, and meet owner Derek Stevens (heck of a suit game). What an outstanding hotel and casino.

Altogether, it was a productive trip. As someone who knows all about building and executing a conference, I appreciate the work that goes into pulling it off. This event is massive, and I have no idea how the NAB makes it happen so flawlessly. This was the first time my head of sales, Stephanie Eads, got to attend the show. She loved it. Our only negative, going back and forth between convention halls can get exhausting. Wisely, Stephanie and Guaranty Media CEO Flynn Foster took advantage of the underground Tesla ride to move from the North hall to the West hall. I wasn’t as bright. If that’s the worst part of the experience though, that’s pretty solid. I look forward to returning in 2023, and attending the NAB’s NYC show this fall.

Additional:

You’ve likely seen posts from BSM/BNM on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn promoting a number of open positions. I’m adding crew to help us pump out more content, and that means we need more editors, news writers, features reporter’s and columnists. If you’re currently involved or previously worked in the industry and love to write about it, send a resume and few writing samples by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

With that said, I’m excited to announce the addition of Ryan Brown as a weekly columnist for BSM. Ryan is part of ‘The Next Round’ in Birmingham, Alabama, which previously broadcast on WJOX as JOX Roundtable. The show left the terrestrial world in June 2021 to operate as its own entity. Ryan’s knowledge and opinions should provide a boost to the site, and I’m looking forward to featuring his columns every Tuesday. Keep an eye out for it tomorrow, and if you want to check out the guest piece he previously wrote for us, click here.

Demetri Ravanos and I have talked to a lot of people over the past month. More additions will be revealed soon. As always, thanks for the continued support of BSM and BNM.

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Six New Contributors Join Barrett Media

“These latest additions will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.”

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Building a brand starts with a vision. Once that vision is defined, you identify the people who fit what you’re creating, lay out the game plan, and turn them loose to execute. If the product you’re creating is original, fills a gap in the marketplace, and the work turned in by your team is consistently excellent and promoted in the right locations, more times than not you’ll build an audience.

As you grow, the focus turns to studying what your audience wants, needs, and expects from your brand. Certain things you expect to be big turn out small, and the things you saw limited upside in create opportunities you never saw coming. It’s critical to be open minded and ready to pivot while also examining where and when people consume your product, which pieces of content do and don’t matter, and then use that information to direct your team to give folks more of what they value and less of what they don’t. Team members should want that feedback too. It tells them what is and isn’t worth spending their time on.

As I lay all of that out it may sound like I’m talking about a radio station or television operation. These are the things programmers do frequently to make sure the talent, shows, and brand is satisfying the expectations of an audience. But what I’m actually referring to is the brand you’ve made a choice to click on to read this column, Barrett Media.

I’ve mentioned many times on this website how I started this operation by myself, and didn’t expect to have a team of writers involved in it. I was focused on consulting sports stations, sharing my programming views on this website, and as I cranked out content consistently, I discovered others loved the business like I did and had a desire to share their insights too. Rather than sticking to my original plan, I pivoted and increased our content offerings. In return, the audience grew, clients grew, and it’s led this brand to grow beyond my expectations. Now we cover sports AND news media, we run an annual conference, feature a membership program, create podcasts, deliver a daily 8@8 and three times per week BNM Rundown newsletter, and work with various brands and companies across the broadcasting industry. I’m extremely fortunate to be in this position and don’t take it for granted.

But with growth comes change. We’ve been blessed to have a lot of talented people contribute to this site over the years, and as they produce quality work, and others across the industry recognize it, they earn interest for their services. That then leads to some having to sign off for bigger opportunities. I see that as a great positive for the brand. Would it be nice to have more consistency and keep a crew together for years? Of course. I know it’d make Demetri’s life a lot easier. If we’re losing people for the right reasons though, and they’re landing opportunities that help them advance their careers, I’m going to be happy for their success, and trust that we’ll find others to keep us moving forward. The success of our team helps make what we do more attractive to others because it shows that if you do good consistent work here, you can put yourself in a position to attract attention.

Over the past two months, I have challenged Demetri Ravanos to invest more time talking to people about writing for us. Expanding our Barrett News Media roster is a priority. So too is adding quality people to help us improve Barrett Sports Media. BSM has had just under seven years to earn trust with readers. BNM has had less than two. We’ve put out ads on our website and newsletters, social posts, an ad on Indeed, and we’ve reached out directly to people who we’ve felt may be able to add something interesting to our brand. Most of my time is spent listening to stations and talking with clients, but my eyes are always roaming looking for content, and my mind is always thinking about what we can create next to make an impact.

I don’t judge our brand’s success based on clicks, shares, breaking news before other outlets or showing up in the top three listings on Google. I care more effort accuracy, timeliness, passion, consistency, storytelling, insight, and being fair and non-agenda driven. We’ve found our niche being able to tell stories about broadcasting professionals, relaying news, and offering expert knowledge to serve those involved in the broadcasting industry. If we continue to excel doing those things consistently, I’m confident our audience will reward us by reading and sharing more of our content. It’s why we never stop recruiting to keep things fresh.

Having said that, I am excited today to reveal six new additions to the Barrett Media staff. Peter Schwartz is a name and voice many in New York sports radio circles are familiar with. Peter has spent three decades working with various outlets and I’m thrilled to have him writing weekly feature stories for us. Brady Farkas is a talented host and former programmer who now works for WDEV in Burlington, VT. Karl Schoening is a play by play broadcaster who has worked in San Antonio sports radio and has had the added benefit of learning the industry from his talented father Bill who calls Spurs games. Each of them will produce bi-weekly feature stories for the brand. Jason Ence is in Louisville and has written about sports betting for Twin Spires while also working for ESPN 680. He’ll be writing sports betting content for us on a weekly basis. Jasper Jones will help us by adding news stories on Friday’s. He’s presently in Philadelphia learning the business working for Audacy. Last but not least, veteran author, Brewers writer, and former radio professional Jim Cryns comes on board to help us with features on news media professionals.

These six additions make us stronger, and I’m excited to have them join the team to help us add more quality content to the website. That said, we’re not done yet. Demetri and I are still talking with others and I expect to make a few more additions in the weeks ahead. As I said earlier, we want to improve the news media side of our operation and continue adding people to help us make a bigger dent in the sports media space. Broadcast companies invest in us to help them, and I believe it’s important to invest back.

If you’ve programmed, hosted a top rated show, worked in measurement, led a cluster as a GM, sold advertising, represented talent or have worked in digital and feel you have knowledge to share, reach out. I can’t promise we’ll have room but we’re always willing to listen. I’m not worried about whether or not you’ve written for professional publications. Passion, experience and unique insights matter much more than a resume or journalism degree.

I appreciate everyone who takes time to read our content, like and share it on social, and all involved with this brand who help bring it to life each day. The latest additions of Schwartz, Farkas, Schoening, Ence, Jones and Cryns will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.

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