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The Power of Branding and Versatility

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The world of sports media has evolved over the past decade, causing industry professionals to make career sacrifices, and open their minds to new possibilities. Those who’ve adapted to the new way of sports media, have put themselves in position to enjoy long term stability and an exciting career. The ones who haven’t now find themselves on the outside looking in.

Are there parts of the job today that aren’t fun? Of course. Are there things people do each day that seem pointless and pull them away from their main focus? Probably. But despite those challenges, the audience demand for sports media content remains high, and the platforms providing content are growing at a rapid pace. In fact, expansion has become so strong that brand recall has become difficult even for people who work in the industry.

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For example, each day a host can find sports content to use on their show by browsing their local newspaper and television websites. They also have the option of turning to national outlets such as ESPN, Fox Sports, Yahoo Sports, Sports Illustrated (don’t forget The Vertical and MMQB), Pro Football Talk, CBS Sports, The Players Tribune, Vice Sports, and Bleacher Report.

If they can’t find written material to use from one of those websites, they’ll turn to television. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, The SEC Network, MLB Network, NFL Network, NHL Network, TNT, FS1, NBC Sports Network, CBS Sports Network, and regional channels also offer content.

If video isn’t the solution, and it’s audio they seek, there’s local radio available, or national radio programming from ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo Sports, SiriusXM (multiple channels offered too), and popular podcasts from personalities like Bill Simmons, Shaquille O’Neal, Adrian Wojnarowski, Jonah Keri, etc.

The amount of content offerings are enormous. Although I was able to recall a number of those choices, and provide them for you, there are plenty of others who I’m sure I’m forgetting.

On a daily basis, this level of competition awaits every single media company. It becomes increasingly difficult to build a dynamic brand and generate massive numbers when you’re stuck in a crowded field of content providers. That’s a big reason why companies are constantly on the prowl searching for great talent.

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If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that being a sports talk radio show host, or sports television anchor in today’s media world is not enough. We’ve entered the multi-media personality era where industry people are expected to possess skills to perform across many different platforms. This is necessary because content is consumed by the audience in multiple places, and for brands to create a powerful story for advertisers, and gain the full return on their investments, they’ve got to be strong in every location.

To compare sports media to baseball for a second, there are no pitcher’s getting paid in the media business for one out saves. If you’re gifted enough to start the game, work the middle innings, and close out the 9th inning, the demand for your services will be high. It’ll be reflected in the offers you receive too.

Some may complain about being overworked, and point out that industry people are being tasked with so much responsibility that it stifles their creativity. This may be true in many instances, but if you expect media companies to alter their approach, and hire people who perform as specialists, be prepared to be disappointed.

The future belongs to personalities who possess an ability to host a radio program, create an original piece of content for a podcast, write an interesting column, and deliver compelling television or digital video content. If an individual lacks the total package, the person behind them who possesses it will get the nod.

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I was curious how younger people in the business felt about the heavy load they’re expected to shoulder, so I called on Pete Mundo of the CBS Sports Radio Network, and WFAN in New York to provide his perspective. As a guy who’s under thirty years old, working in the nation’s top market, and performs in multiple roles for various brands, I knew he’d be able to explain why being versatile, and building a brand is critically important in today’s media climate.

Now without further adieu, here’s Peter’s column!

The Power of Branding and Versatility

There are no two words more important in today’s ever changing, sports media landscape than versatility and branding. Where is sports media heading? It’s the most important professional question I ask myself multiple times per week.

We’re all aware of the job cuts that have recently permeated the industry. As a relative newcomer to this dynamic environment, it’s clear to me one needs to stay ahead of the curve or face the possibility of a short career.

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When I first entered the business, my ultimate goal was to be a drive-time, talk show host in a major market. In many respects, it still is. But as I’ve witnessed the changes in our industry, I’ve tried to remain flexible and expand my sights.

I often think back to my start, hosting weekdays on a small, non-profit station in eastern Long Island and then driving almost 400 miles round trip to Easton, PA to board op and anchor on weekends. After a few months of back and forth, I accepted a position with a regional station in Oklahoma. Here my duties included hosting a show, and performing local play-by-play and anchor work. I recall telling my mentor, David Brody, that I had little interest in being a play-by-play guy or being an anchor and doing updates. He explained the importance of being a well-rounded broadcaster and being versatile and multi-faceted in a consolidating industry. Boy, was he right!

My two-plus years in Oklahoma served as the ideal training ground. Since moving back to New York City to work with CBS Radio, I’ve have been able to utilize all three of these skills to build my career. While my goal at age 21 was to be a talk show host, I now find myself just as excited over calling a game or delivering 20/20’s on the FAN or CBS Sports Radio.

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Furthermore, there’s no longer any benefit to being just a “radio person”, “TV person” or “print person”. Without a doubt, radio is my first true love. The spontaneity and depth of the work are constant allures. But the desire for growth and longevity require a willingness to branch off into other mediums.

That leads to the second most important ingredient for success in today’s sports news world … building a brand.

What is your brand and how are you developing it? Is it to be a jack-of-all-trades broadcaster? Is it play-by-play, updates or sports talk? How are you establishing that brand? Is it through multiple media outlets or are you focused on single medium delivery. Is your brand limited to a specific sport, or even a specific team?

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The best example of quality branding is Bill Simmons. He’s one of the brightest, most talented guys in our industry, be it audio or written, and he’s not on a radio station. He’s podcasting. Simmons created his own brand, with ESPN as his launching pad. But remember, he began as “The Boston Sports Guy” on his own website. He now has an upcoming HBO show, and a new website, The Ringer, run as part of his venture known as the Bill Simmons Media Group.

If our best content creators can develop their brands through less expensive models like podcasting, where there is no FCC regulation, then what does that tell you about where traditional media fits into the picture?

Another excellent example of brand building is Clay Travis. Travis was a former attorney in Tennessee who started the SEC fan website, Outkickthecoverage.com. He first attracted media attention in late 2004 with his personal blog written while he was living in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Travis’ popularity grew and landed him a radio show in Nashville and then a national show on NBC Sports Radio.

Like Simmons, Travis can no longer be heard on a traditional media platform, at least not on a daily basis. In 2015, Travis signed a deal with Fox Sports to license his entire sports media brand. He works in TV, appears on radio shows like Colin Cowherd’s, and is very involved with digital. As you see in his post below, Travis has recently been hosting live shows via Periscope and Facebook and has had a ton of success.

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So what can we conclude when two of the business’s most compelling talents are doing most of their work on digital platforms? While I don’t think radio as we know it will become extinct anytime soon, one better start thinking outside the box about the way we receive content. Equally as important will be fitting in as a communicator of content in a way that is both durable and profitable.

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Personally, I have been granted a plethora of opportunities since coming to work in New York City three years ago. I’m very grateful to the folks at CBS Radio, iHeart Media, Fox News, Westwood One, Sports Illustrated, CineSport, and Wagner College who have allowed me to pursue the various mediums in today’s sports landscape. Additionally, as a result of a passion for Big 12 sports that I developed while living in Oklahoma, I launched Heartland College Sports. This multi-media site provides me with a digital presence, a niche to expand my brand and an avenue to deliver original content.

Ten years ago there was no iPhone, or podcasting, Facebook was relatively new, Twitter had just launched, and video streaming was still in its infancy. Look at how far technology has come and how rapidly it has changed our business.

If you’re not thinking and planning for the change that is sure to come in the future, you run the risk of getting left behind. Diversify, adapt, and build your brand. In the end, that’s your best way to stay both relevant and employed.

To learn more about Pete, check out his website PeteMundo.com. You can also follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Barrett Blogs

Black Friday Sale Planned For 2022 BSM Summit Tickets

“BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets will begin at 12:01am ET on Friday November 26th and expire at 11:59pm later that same night.”

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As of today, there are just 97 days remaining until the 2022 BSM Summit takes place in New York City. We’ve announced 31 participants for the show so far, and have more to reveal in the weeks and months ahead. I think you’re going to like what’s still to come.

Putting this conference together isn’t easy. It requires months of meetings, brainstorming, promotion, selling sponsorships, pursuing speakers, and creating everything that attendees see on stage over a two day period. I’m thankful to have help from some amazing partners, but as I’ve mentioned previously, this isn’t a big moneymaker for us. Nor is it an event that ends with 5-10 new clients signing up to work with BSM. The goal on my end is simple, make sure the conference is valuable for those who attend, and don’t run BSM out of business by doing it. As long as those two things remain solid, it’s worth doing.

Some might wonder, why go thru months of headaches if you’re not going to break the bank or immediately add clients. That’s fair to ask. If you look at it from a pure business standpoint, one could easily make a case that pouring this type of energy into something else could be more lucrative. But money was never my motivation for doing this. I felt the sports media industry lacked a signature event where smart, successful media professionals (who don’t often cross paths) could gather at one location to laugh and learn together, and I wanted to change that. If over a two day period we could gain insight, information, ideas, and introductions, it’d put all of us in a stronger position to remain successful.

I’ve unapologetically loved the sports media business since I started listening to Mike & the Mad Dog on WFAN and watching SportsCenter on ESPN. I was fortunate to live and work in a number of cities over the past two decades, learning how different companies and people operate, and I remain involved today thru my work with BSM. I mention this because I also know that many of you tend to wait until the last minute to book hotel rooms, airfare, and purchase tickets, even if you can save money by acting sooner. I know, I used to do it too. I can’t control when you book your room or plane ticket, but I do want to give you an added incentive to buy your ticket to this year’s show. Seating is limited, and once the last seat is filled, that’s it.

With that in mind, most of you will either be taking this Friday off or working inside a much quieter building. If you’ve thought about coming to the show, take 5-10 minutes to log on to BSMSummit.com to take advantage of our special Black Friday sale. We’re reducing tickets for the day, so whether you’re planning to attend in NYC or watch the conference online, there’s a discount offered to help you out.

BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets will begin at 12:01am ET on Friday November 26th and expire at 11:59pm later that same night. In the meantime, Hotel Edison in NYC is offering rooms for just $109 + taxes to Summit attendees. Click here to take advantage of the special room rate. Those of you planning to fly to NYC for the event, there have been a ton of great deals offered lately by JetBlue, Southwest, Frontier, United, and American. It might be worth checking into and snagging a good deal before prices rise again.

If you’re interested in learning more about the industry, staying a step ahead, forming new relationships, strengthening existing ones, exploring potential business deals, and celebrating the business you’re in, I hope you’ll join us either online or in New York City for the 2022 BSM Summit. I’m making it easier on you, by offering a lower ticket price on Black Friday (November 26). The rest is up to you!

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Barrett Blogs

Craig Carton, Fred Toucher, Mike Felger To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit

“Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.”

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When you talk to industry people about successful brands in sports talk radio, most conversations include WFAN and 98.5 The Sports Hub. The New York and Boston sports radio brands are consistently recognized for their ability to deliver large audiences and revenues.

Helping to create that success is a mixture of strong play by play partnerships, skilled programmers and even more importantly, some of the most dynamic on-air personalities in the format. Fortunately for us, a few of those gamechangers will be present to share their opinions and insights on content matters in New York City at the 2022 BSM Summit.

Starting in New York, it’s an honor to welcome WFAN afternoon drive host Craig Carton to the 2022 BSM Summit. Heard daily on ‘Carton and Roberts‘ alongside Evan Roberts, which is also featured on TV on SNY, Carton has made his presence felt ever since returning to the airwaves in November 2020. Prior to taking on the challenge in afternoons, Craig spent a decade partnering with Boomer Esiason on ‘Boomer and Carton‘, forming one of the most successful sports radio morning shows in the country. In addition to enjoying success in New York, Craig has also experienced the ups and downs that come with performing in different markets. His radio travels have taken him to Philadelphia, Denver, Buffalo and Trenton, NJ. The Syracuse graduate and outspoken host is expected to join BSM President Jason Barrett for a one on one conversation at this year’s Summit.

Shipping up to Boston, it’s a pleasure to welcome two of the format’s highest rated performers to New York City. They’re heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub in morning and afternoon drive, and at the Summit, they’ll interact together during an in-depth content conversation with BSM President Jason Barrett.

Fred Toucher is one half of the Sports Hub’s popular morning show ‘Toucher & Rich‘, which recently added syndication. The Detroit native started his career in Georgia before moving to Boston in 2005. Toucher & Rich, which includes Rich Shertenlieb, officially moved into the sports talk format in 2009. Since making the format switch, the duo have consistently produced some of the best ratings in the entire format in mornings during the past fifteen years. Toucher & Rich have also been recognized by industry executives as one of the top two morning shows in the format each of the past three years in the BSM Top 20, including taking top honors in 2018.

Mike Felger on the other hand is heard on the ride home alongside Tony Massarotti on The Sports Hub. The Marconi Award-winning afternoon radio show has been a fixture in Boston since the station’s inception in 2009. During the past twelve years, Felger & Mazz have been a steady force atop the Men 25-54 ratings including recently delivering an impressive 18.9 share in the summer book to finish 1st. The Milwaukee native also hosts a show for NBC Boston, and has previously served as a columnist for the Boston Globe. Similar to Toucher & Rich, Felger & Mazz have earned high praise from format execs in the BSM Top 20. They’ve been voted one of the top 2 afternoon shows each of the past 2 years including grabbing the top spot in 2019.

We’re excited to add all three of these men to the lineup for the 2022 BSM Summit. As vital as it may be to spend time on business issues in order to stay ahead of a rapidly changing media climate, without great talent and content, the rest is irrelevant. Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.

To reserve your hotel room, purchase tickets or learn more about the speakers we’ve lined up for the 2022 show, visit BSMSummit.com. We hope to see you online or in New York City this March.

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Barrett Blogs

BSM Summit Adds Borrell, Crain, Cutler, Goldstein, Scott, Shapiro & Thomas

“The Summit is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited.”

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The 2022 BSM Summit continues to add firepower to the sports media industry’s premier conference. After previously announcing the first twenty one participants to take part in March’s event in New York City, another seven talented media professionals have been added to the speaker schedule.

Making his BSM Summit debut in 2022 will be the media industry’s leading business analyst Gordon Borrell. The well respected and accomplished CEO of Borrell Associates is featured frequently in the trades and mainstream publications for his insights on advertising trends and forecasts in local media. Borrell will join Amplifi Media CEO Steven Goldstein on stage at the Summit for an in-depth discussion on the advertising climate in 2022. The two men will offer insights and opinions on what advertisers value most, where they’re expected to invest future dollars, which categories will continue to rise and decline, and what brands can do to position themselves better to increase revenue. Additionally, Borrell will be hosting his local advertising conference in Miami a few days after the Summit. Those interested in heading to South Beach and learning more about the marketing world can learn more by clicking here.

Switching to the content end, the Summit is thrilled to welcome The Volume’s Jake Crain to New York City. The host of The JBoy Show will also be making his debut at the conference. Crain will be part of a talent panel along with John Jastremski and Kazeem Famuyide.

Also making his debut at the Summit will be Carl Scott. Meadowlark Media’s Executive Director of Audio will join our podcasting panel featuring Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones and The Volume’s Head of Content Logan Swaim. Hubbard Radio’s Digital Content Director Phil Mackey will guide the conversation.

Not everyone participating at the Summit will be new to the audience though. Returning to the stage as part of our GM’s discussion will be newly appointed Audacy Boston Market Manager Mike Thomas. Thomas recently led ESPN 1000 in Chicago as the station’s GM after working with Mark Hannon to turn 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston into one of sports radio’s top performing stations. It should be noted that each time Thomas appears at the Summit it follows a recent promotion. We figure by 2023 or 2024 he’ll be running the entire industry.

A Summit isn’t complete without attention given to programming matters. To help us address some of those key issues, we’re excited to welcome back the Vice President of FOX Sports Radio & Podcasts Scott Shapiro. The passionate network executive who oversees many of the nation’s top national programs is always a great listen for folks interested in learning how programmer’s view and tackle the industry’s most important affairs.

Last but certainly not least, voice talent extraordinaire Jim Cutler will return to the stage to lead a session on storytelling. One of the industry’s prominent station voices and creative minds has a penchant for putting on entertaining and informative sessions. If you’ve attended the conference before, you’re already aware. To those planning to catch this one, you’re in for a treat.

Keep an eye out over the next two weeks. We’ll be making additional announcements involving a few high profile talents we’ve lined up for the 2022 BSM Summit. A reminder, the event is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited. I realize some folks may prefer to wait until the last minute to make sure the world is safe. If you’re not comfortable flying to NY for the show, we do have an option in place to enjoy the conference virtually thanks to NuVoodoo Media. For more information on tickets, click here.

That said, the in-person environment is excellent. If you haven’t attended the Summit before I think you’ll find the two days in New York City to be time well spent. This conference is not open to the general public. You must either presently work in an area of the media industry or be pursuing a degree in the broadcasting field.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we still have some sponsorship opportunities available for the show. We’re thrilled to have the support of great partners, ESPN Radio, Premiere Networks, FOX Sports Radio, Stone Voiceovers, Compass Media Networks, Point to Point Marketing, and Core Image Studio. If you’d like to be part of the event too, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com for additional details.

One final note, airfare is low right now. There are roundtrip flights to and from New York from many major cities for less than $200.00. We’ve also secured a low hotel rate of $109.00 per night at Hotel Edison in NYC to help companies and individuals keep costs down. The sports media industry has endured two years of difficulty due to the pandemic, preventing many from networking, learning, celebrating, and growing. The two days we spend together in the big apple won’t solve every issue facing our business, but I promise you’ll leave the show more informed, more connected, and better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Hope to see you in New York on March 2nd and 3rd.

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