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Welcome To The 2016 Sports Radio Draft

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Welcome to the second annual sports radio draft. I created this project last year to introduce sports radio fans, and industry people to some of the sports format’s top program directors, and offer a small snapshot of the way they view the nation’s top personalities and talk shows.

If you love sports the way many of us in the sports talk format do, then you recognize that an event like the NFL draft is a crapshoot. Proclaiming victory or defeat after selecting a player without seeing them suit up and make plays on the field is pretty silly. But, most of us can’t resist the temptation to do it anyway.

What fun would the draft be if we couldn’t second guess the general manager, head coach, and owner of every single NFL franchise for the moves they make?

Well, in sports radio it’s not much different. Any time a personnel decision is made, there’s instant reaction from the audience. New shows are written off before they hit the air. The program director is met with a barrage of insults, and threats through email and social media, and the thought of waiting twelve to eighteen months to evaluate a program is considered absurd. It’s even worse if a radio station brings in a host or show from another city.

Although it may not be sexy or what people want to hear sometimes, it takes time to gauge whether or not a show is going to work. It’s no different than a football team using a high draft pick on a prospect, and giving them multiple opportunities to prove that they can be a difference maker on the professional level.

If a franchise is going to invest a high draft pick, and big dollars on someone who they believe can make their team better, they’re not going to bail on that individual after their first or second game or play. Fans may not like it, but teams need to employ a long-term strategy rather than overreact to short-term problems. In radio, the same holds true.

Are there exceptions? Yes of course. A great programmer can tell when they have a bad combination on their airwaves, or a person’s work ethic or attitude isn’t where it needs to be for the station to experience success. Those are tough calls that have to be made on occasion. Once a decision is made to pull the plug and move on, it isn’t usually until all options have been exhausted. There are only so many times when a programmer can call the head of the company and say “I screwed up”.

As I watched the NFL Draft unfold last night, I was reminded of how inexact the entire process is. It’s important to study your information, exhaust your resources, and listen to your inner circle, but when the time comes to make a choice, the best thing you can do is trust your gut.

We applaud some organizations for being ballsy, and criticize others for being timid, when in reality we have less information, and skill to make the selection than the individuals who are paid to run each war room. Do terrible general managers, and organizations exist? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not more advanced in their scouting of talent than we are. I stress this point because the same situation presents itself often in radio.

The audience likes who they like, and want what they want, and anything less is considered awful – until they get used to it. Most people are creatures of habit, and resist anything new. Once it becomes comfortable, they adapt.

Many listeners aren’t privy to the information that the programmer has at their disposal. They just want to hear the hosts in a setting that they prefer. But more goes into it decision making than that.

There are economics, relationships, schedules, creative styles, ratings track records, and a myriad of other factors to consider when putting a show on the air. Even smaller things such as “is the show better suited for morning or afternoon”, “should we feature a solo program or team show”, “do the hosts sound too much alike”, “are they too far apart as people to develop a consistent flow”, “are they coachable”, all come into play when deciding if a show fits what the programmer wants on their radio station.

I decided to put thirty two of the nation’s best sports radio minds on the clock, and give them an opportunity to select one show each. Unlike last year where we focused on individuals, the goal this year was to select full shows. That meant they could draft a solo hosted program, or a show with two, three or four personalities.

To create the draft order I stuck with what worked last year – pulling thirty two names out of hat (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). However, I did make two key changes.

First, I changed up some of the programmers to give other station leaders an opportunity to participate who weren’t involved last year. There are some familiar names and faces still in the mix, but altogether I included sixteen new people.

Secondly, I prohibited each programmer from picking one of their own local talk shows. It’s natural to want to appease our own people, but if everyone had a blank canvas tomorrow, and could hire one dynamic show to grow their station’s ratings, and revenue, we may or may not stick with what we have. This put the entire crew in a position to be a little more neutral.

I want to thank each of these programmers for not only taking part in the exercise, but also putting their names behind each selection. I also want to congratulate the shows that made the list of 32. Keep in mind that each programmer has a different perspective on what makes a great sports radio show, and the results are often determined by where an individual picks. Just because someone chooses a particular show, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t take a different one if they had a higher draft choice.

The sports radio industry has hundreds of people hosting programs all across the country each day, and many are doing it well. But talent isn’t the only thing that matters. It’s often about fit, style, sound, work ethic, attitude, connection, and ratings and revenue potential. Certain shows may deliver big numbers for one programmer, but fire blanks for another. They may dominate in one market yet crash and burn in another.

As you watch the NFL Draft, I hope you’ll take some of these things into account. One team’s trash can be another one’s treasure, and sure-thing prospects, and no-chance free agents, often succeed or fail depending on who they play for, and which system they perform in. The radio business is eerily similar. Which is why hiring people and/or shows can be challenging, rewarding, and occasionally catastrophic.

Now without further delay, it’s time to unveil the 32 sports radio talk show selections in the 2016 Sports Radio Draft! Let the debates begin!

Order Programmer/Station Show/Station
1. Matt Nahigian, 97.5 The Fanatic-Philadelphia Dan Lebatard w/ Stugotz-ESPN Radio
2. Mike Thomas, 98.5 The Sports Hub-Boston Valenti & Foster-97.1 The Ticket
3. Chad Abbott, KFAN-Minneapolis Dave “Softy” Mahler-950 KJR
4. Justin Craig, 98.7 ESPN-New York City Stephen A. Smith-Mad Dog Sports Radio
5. Ryan Maguire, 560 WQAM-Miami Josh Innes-Sports Radio WIP
6. Brad Willis, 104.5 The Zone-Nashville The Dan Patrick Show-Fox Sports Radio
7. Gavin Spittle, 105.3 The Fan-Dallas Mike Meltser & Seth Payne-Sports Radio 610
8. Adam Delevitt, ESPN 1000-Chicago Mike and Mike-ESPN Radio
9. Armen Williams, 104.3 The Fan-Denver Boomer and Carton-WFAN
10. Bruce Gilbert, Cumulus Media-Dallas Colin Cowherd-Fox Sports Radio
11. Steve Torre, Mad Dog Sports Radio-New York City NBA Today w/ Justin Termine & Eddie Johnson-SiriusXM
12. John Hanson, 610 Sports-Kansas City Dan Barreiro-KFAN
13. Kevin Graham, WEEI-Boston Mad Dog Unleashed w/ Chris Russo-SiriusXM
14. D.J Stout, 610 The Fan WFNZ-Charlotte Mike Francesa-WFAN
15. Lee Hammer, KNBR-San Francisco The Musers-Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket
16. Scott Masteller, WBAL-Baltimore  Jorge & Izzy-ESPN Radio
17. Ray Necci, ESPN Radio-Bristol Tony Kornheiser-ESPN 980
18. Jay Taylor, 97.1 The Fan-Columbus Petros & Money-AM 570 KLAC
19. Ryan McCredden, 610 KILT-Houston Gio and Jones-CBS Sports Radio
20. Scott Shapiro, Fox Sports Radio-Los Angeles Paul Allen-KFAN
21. Tim Spence, 97.9 ESPN-Hartford Big Al & D’Mac-104.3 The Fan
22. Ryan Hatch, Arizona Sports 98.7FM-Phoenix The Hardline-Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket
23. Chris Kinard, 106.7 The Fan-Washington DC Toucher & Rich-98.5 The Sports Hub
24. Dennis Glasgow, 99.9 The Fan-Raleigh The Drive w/ Cooley & Czabe-ESPN 980
25. Gregg Henson, 970 ESPN-Pittsburgh Mark Madden-105.9 The X
26. Tom Parker, 105.7 The Fan-Milwaukee Amy Lawrence-CBS Sports Radio
27. Dave Tepper, 1620 The Zone-Omaha The Blitz w/ Fred and AJ-ESPN 97.5
28. Allan Davis, WGR 550-Buffalo Damon Amendolara-CBS Sports Radio
29. John Mamola, WDAE-Tampa Waddle & Silvy-ESPN 1000
30. Rich Moore, 950 KJR-Seattle Mike Missanelli-97.5 The Fanatic
31. Jeff Austin, 1080 The Fan-Portland Brock and Salk-710 ESPN
32. Brian Long, XTRA Sports 1360-San Diego Mason and Ireland-ESPN LA 710

Barrett Blogs

Two Great Formats, One Kickass Supersite

“This is a strategic move aimed at making things easier for the reader, and showcasing the best of two great brands and formats on one kickass supersite.”

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It’s an exciting day for all of us at BSM and BNM, because today marks the start of something special. Yes we have an awesome new look and layout for our content, made possible by the great Andy Drake. I encourage you to sift thru a few of the different tabs at the top of the website. You’ll find popular features from our writers in the Originals section, podcasts we’ve produced over the years, the Member Directory featuring nearly forty radio professionals, access points to content from all twenty four of our writers, and shortcuts to our sports and news media sections. We’ve even built three columns to the right on the main page to make it easier to maneuver thru daily sports and news content, and the latest columns from our writing teams.

If you were reading carefully, you picked up on my use of BNM in the first sentence, and the word news in the last sentence. And if you browsed the website today, you likely noticed news and sports are now presented in the same location.

I took the risk and launched Barrett News Media eight months ago. We came out of the gate with a staff of twelve, which was twelve more than Barrett Sports Media had when it was born in September 2015. Like with most new brands, tweaks were needed, and lessons were learned. I initially wanted to put BNM and BSM under the same roof, but there were too many unknowns. For that reason, I launched the brand as a separate entity.

I had to find out if my interest in news would remain high or fade out after a few months. I had to learn if our staff would produce content consistently or leave us plugging holes regularly. I had to discover if media stories would remain hot after a heated presidential election. As important as those all were, one mattered even more – would anyone read our work?

After studying the peaks and valleys of our news brand for nearly a year, I know that people will consume our content if it’s original, interesting, and timely. But asking them to follow us in two different places is a tall order. It’s also harder to reach people in the news media space because social media activity is lighter due to a lack of trust in big tech, and some folks in the format still don’t know me.

Since launching, I’ve overseen two websites, two staffs, two email addresses, and multiple social media accounts, worrying about maintaining separation when I had no reason to worry in the first place. Newspapers have spent decades blending sports and news, online brands across the internet do the same today, and Chrissy Paradis, Pete Mundo, Rick Schultz, Douglas Pucci, Ryan Maguire, Ryan Hedrick, Eduardo Razo and Jordan Bondurant have done more than enough good work to deserve having their material presented to the most amount of people.

So now we move forward as one unit, fully dedicated to serving both the sports and news/talk formats in one location. We will continue prioritizing columns from experienced professionals, the latest industry news, and original ideas that spark interest and discussion. Our email blasts will come from one source, social media promotion will emanate from our BSM channels, and all of our website content will be housed in one spot. If visitors type in the URL for BarrettNewsMedia.com it will automatically redirect to the BSM website.

To help us manage the content cycle and strengthen our brands further, I am pleased to announce a few new additions. First, Troy Coverdale joins BNM as Editor, McGraw Milhaven as a weekly columnist, and Jordan Bondurant and Ryan Hedrick add opportunities to write feature stories multiple times per month. Meanwhile, BSM will gain the writing talents of Ryan Maguire, and semi-regular contributions from Rob Taylor and Scott Seidenberg. Kate Constable and Ricky Keeler will also get more involved writing features. I also plan to add one more news writer soon to fill Brandon Contes’ position.

The new look of the website has me fired up and excited about the possibilities ahead. A big tip of the cap to Point To Point Marketing, Core Image Studio, and the great Jim Cutler for helping us pull this off. I’m eager to increase connections with news radio and television professionals, and showcase their great work. With that in mind, if you have a news tip or story idea for either of our brands, send it by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. With the website makeover complete, I’ll now focus on the next project – the 2021 BSM Summit. I’ll have news to share one week from today, so stay tuned.

If you’re a fan of what we do for sports media coverage, have no fear. The same great content experience you’ve come to enjoy for the past six years is not affected. If news radio/television coverage interests you but didn’t know much about BNM, now you’ll be able to access the content without jumping thru extra hoops. This is a strategic move aimed at making things easier for the reader, and showcasing the best of two great brands and formats. I’m pleased with BNM’s start, but know that if we can do a few things for the brand that we’ve done for BSM, it’ll make the content experience better, the industry relationships stronger, and the work more meaningful. And that is the reason we do this in the first place.

Thank you for continuing to visit, and afford us the opportunity to inform and entertain you. We understand the media business and are passionate about it, and that’s reflected in our team’s writing. Some you may know that about. Others you may not. But having them all under one roof should make your ability to find out a whole lot easier.

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BSM’s Sports Media MVP Tournament Bracket

“The field of 64 for the BSM Sports Media MVP Tournament is now set! “

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The field of 64 for the BSM Sports Media MVP Tournament is now set!

Congratulations to ESPN’s Jeff Passan on knocking off FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal to earn the final entry in this year’s tournament. To see the full schedule of when matchups will take place, scroll down below.

A reminder, all voting for each round of the tournament will be done on Twitter thru @sportsradiopd. The people’s votes determine who advances, and who goes home. Be sure to print off your bracket, make your picks, and follow along to see how they stack up against the actual results.

As I mentioned previously, there are no layups in this tournament. Round 1 features many difficult and compelling matchups. Those who advance will have even harder matchups awaiting them in future rounds. There will likely be debate over who should’ve made the list that didn’t, and who deserved a higher or lower ranking. We expect that noise, and welcome it. But this is the bracket, we feel good about it, and whoever wins this tournament, will have gone down a long tough road to earn the voters respect, and ultimately the MVP championship.

So, let’s have some fun, and find out who is the MVP of the Sports Media industry.

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BSM Presents ‘The Sports Media MVP Tournament’

The BSM MVP Tournament begins with a play-in game on March 16th. Tournament play gets underway on March 18th.

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A year ago at this time, Barrett Sports Media rolled out its ‘Greatest SportsCenter Anchor‘ tournament. It was a fun event that generated over 4 million social media impressions, hundreds of thousands of votes thru our numerous poll questions, big traffic on the BSM website, content on sports radio shows that were working without live events, and recognition for Scott Van Pelt who edged out Stuart Scott in the finals to be selected as SC’s best of all-time.

Given where things stood in the world at that time, the SportsCenter bracket was a fun needed distraction. Most were worried about the coronavirus and how it might hurt them or their families. Would it have an affect on their job? School? Church? The American way of life? How soon would it be until we could enjoy some sense of normalcy again?

Fortunately, here we are one year later, and though we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, things are heading in the right direction. Games are back on our television screens and radio airwaves. Teams have started welcoming fans back into buildings. Vaccine shots are being distributed to millions of Americans, and god willing, we’ll soon be past the nightmare that we lived thru in 2020, and on our way to greater prosperity.

So with sports back, and optimism higher, a bracket contest isn’t necessarily needed to add light during a dark time, but as we learned last year, fun is contagious, and there’s never a bad time to use a creative event to bring people together.

Right after we wrapped up the BSM Top 20 in February, Demetri Ravanos and I started talking about ideas for this year’s bracket contest. A conversation about difference makers in the industry and who was critical to their brands success got my wheels spinning, and as we dove in further, we quickly realized there were hundreds with a case to be made. That laid the groundwork for creating BSM’s Sports Media MVP Tournament.

Choosing 65 people to complete a 64 person tournament bracket like this is not easy. The mixture of accomplished studio hosts, debate specialists, analysts, reporters, play by play voices, radio hosts, podcasting personalities, etc. made for some exhausting email exchanges and phone conversations, but time, thought, and effort is necessary if you want to create cool things. What was especially important to us with this year’s tournament was trying to capture some of the same spirit and fun from last year, without focusing on a particular brand, show or company. Too many people in this industry make a difference for various groups and we want to highlight as many of them as possible.

But when you put 64 of the industry’s biggest difference makers against each other in a tournament style bracket, who’s truly capable of going through five tough rounds to emerge as the most valuable performer in sports media? Better yet, who has strong enough staying power to keep fans on social media invested in their advancement?

Well, we’re about to find out.

We’ll kick things off with a play in game for the final spot in the tournament on Tuesday March 16th. That play-in game will feature ESPN’s Jeff Passan vs. FOX Sports/The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Voting will be done for the play-in game and ALL tournament matchups on Twitter for a period of 24 hours. The results of the play-in game will be revealed on Wednesday morning March 17th. Whoever has more votes between Passan and Rosenthal when time expires, will gain the final spot in this year’s BSM Sports Media MVP Tournament.

The release of the full bracket will take place right after the results of the play-in game are known on Wednesday March 17th. I will though let you know which four individuals earned #1 seeds in this year’s tournament, along with the naming of each of their regions. They are Stephen A. Smith (Stay Off The Weed Region), Colin Cowherd (Backwards Hat Region), Dave Portnoy (To The Moon Region), and Tony Romo (That’s My Quarterback Region).

The official start to the tournament will begin on Thursday March 18th. Matchups will then continue each week until Monday April 5th when the final contest takes place. The results of that last battle will be announced on Tuesday morning April 6th. At that time, we will officially put a bow on this year’s tournament and crown the champion. To see the breakdown of the upcoming schedule, click here.

Before the floodgates open and complaints are made about some people getting in, others being left out, and certain folks having harder matchups than others, remember that this is supposed to be fun, everything in the sports media industry is subjective, and regardless of one’s matchup, if they’re seen as the best at what they do, they’ll move on regardless. There are very few layups in this tournament. We knew it’d be impossible to create a field of 64 without leaving some super talented people out, so if you work in the industry and didn’t make the cut, don’t take it personally. It doesn’t make your accomplishments or value to your brand any less important. It simply speaks volumes of how stacked this tournament is with successful people.

I will point out that we involved eight people in the voting process to help us determine this year’s field of 64. There were 225 sports media professionals on our initial list. That got trimmed down to 85, and eventually to 65. The play-in game will be how we get down to 64. As is the case with the NCAA Tournament, the NFL Hall of Fame, the NBA All-Star Game or MLB MVP or Cy Young award voting, there’s always a case to be made for someone who didn’t get in. But when you’re reviewing game changers from multiple areas of the industry and a number of different brands and companies, it’s impossible to please everybody.

What I hope you’ll take away from this year’s tournament as it picks up steam is that there are a lot of really talented people in the sports media industry, many with different styles and approaches to success. Earning the top spot in this bracket will take consistent voting support, respect from fans and friends both in and out of the sports media business, and a whole lot of luck.

We extend our thanks in advance to everyone who will participate in this year’s voting process, as well as to the 64 men and women who will be part of this year’s tournament. We can’t wait to share the full bracket with you next week. It’s going to be a fun few weeks, so let the madness begin!

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