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Content Creation In The Social Space

Jason Barrett

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I’ve written numerous times about the power of social media and its importance in the sports radio industry. Simply put, it’s where your audience lives, and you can’t afford not to be present in it. Yet some brands still go hours, or even worse days, not promoting their content.

My theory has always been, that inside of each radio station’s social media pages lies a couple of listeners who carry meters. If a brand I’m managing has been granted permission by thousands of people to notify them of on-air developments, and it can help advance my ratings, then why wouldn’t I take advantage of it?

Aside from the obvious of being socially active and present, there remains the question of how to be unique, and use each platform to its full potential. I see it time and time again, stations fall in love with Twitter because messages can be written quickly. Except they sometimes do it at the expense of Facebook. Instead of being strong in both locations, they feel like they have to make a choice. That often results in picking the platform that identifies with their personal interests, and saves them the most time.

That’s a mistake in my opinion. You can’t assume that everyone does what you do. People enjoy being entertained differently. For some, Twitter consumes their life. For others, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Google+ or Pinterest might be their social preference. While I realize challenges exist with being exceptional in every one of these locations, there’s no excuse for not being present and engaged in at least a few of them.

Creating great content is what every host and producer aspires to achieve when they enter a studio each day. They put countless hours into developing topics, researching stories, and laying out a game plan for the show, hoping it will resonate with a local audience. I don’t want to minimize how important it is to create a quality program, but if you lack a distribution strategy to further expose your content afterwards, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to realize the true value of your material.

The audience today listens on their time not ours. You may host a three or four hour talk show on-air, but if people are unavailable to listen, you’ve still got an opportunity to reach them later. You might feature your interviews individually, post each full hour of your talk show without commercials, and even offer quick snippets of your most powerful material all on your website. When the audience enjoys what you do, and have those type of options available to consider, they usually return to hear what they missed.

Assuming the digital offerings are laid out well, then comes promoting it on your brand’s social pages. On Twitter you’ll have to be short and succinct with your messages, whereas Facebook will let you be as wordy as you want. You might use photos or create graphics with text to help deliver more clicks, or feature bold headlines, and open ended questions to peak curiosity. Whichever path you take, the reality is that your approach to using social media to highlight your content will factor heavily into the way your program is received.

If time is something you’re pressed for, and you’re struggling with promoting your work across all of these social media platforms, familiarize yourself with Hootsuite. It allows you to schedule messages in advance, and reach multiple locations at once. It’s a tool I use daily and I can’t recommend it enough.

To expand further on this subject I called on Michael Grey who most recently hosted morning drive on WBBL in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to his time in Grand Rapids, he’s worked for 710 ESPN in Seattle, and AM 590 ESPN in Omaha.

Michael raises some very interesting points about this topic, and I think that as you read his thoughts, you’ll find yourself nodding in agreement with most of it. A strong social distribution strategy, and intimate knowledge of how to best use each platform is necessary to win in today’s radio climate. Obstacles will never fully disappear, but your level of success, and importance to the audience will, if you don’t take this seriously.

Content Creation In The Social Space by Michael Grey

“The Medium is the Message.” – Marshall McLuhan

The words of McLuhan – mandatory reading for anyone in broadcasting – ring true today, though with the necessary adjustment “The Mediums are the Message”.

If you’ve been in radio for more than a moment you’ve undoubtedly heard of “topic trees” or “show maps” or any of a number of other catchphrases for the development of layered talk topics. However, how many of us have considered the additional layers of content that the ever evolving social space requires us to create? How will your show content look when laying out a show plan? What is the video component to today’s hottest show topic? How would your big story this morning represent in a single photograph? How much of your radio show is going to happen – live – in the hours before or after your show airs?

The question of how, or worse whether or not, to integrate social media into a radio show in 2016 is misguided and out of step with reality. The question should be how are you going to integrate your radio show into the social space where everyone else is already broadcasting?

Creating compelling talk content is just part of the job and we all bear the responsibility to not just represent but develop topics in a full 360 degree multi-platform manner. Not only do you owe the audience the effort, but these different mediums and platforms are yours for the branding which makes them personal and portable. Jobs will come and go, but your ability to deliver content across a range of platforms is something you take with you, and is a powerful asset in your climb through the industry. These social spaces, all too often used by those in radio for simple cookie-cutter promotion, should themselves be a part of everything you create.

Social Media experts have said for years that the different platforms each require a unique approach in terms of content production and presentation just like the topics on your show. The natural progression is to view your radio show as one wing of your own personal media company and to develop your show and your topics with unique content and angles for each of the platforms available. This invites almost infinite possibilities when developing programming as it is no longer limited to the studio or the audio realm. After all, what is the most important thing that any of us can provide to sports fans today? Access. The audience has become increasingly accustomed to on-demand access to their favorite content, opinions, commentary, teams, players, coaches and yes, the voices & faces they seek out to get that content.

For example, Facebook Live now makes it possible (mandatory) to host a daily post-show show and invite comments and input from the audience that already follows you in a personal and unique way. It’s also a way to grant last-minute, breaking-news access to your show when your team trades it’s starting quarterback 3 hours after it aired. With the state of the news cycle, if you wait until tomorrow to start the conversation you will always be discussing yesterday’s news. A video component to what you’re doing on a daily basis, whether it’s behind-the-scenes coverage or additional programming is a must. It is a prism that shouldn’t just reflect the audio content of the show but guide it and be embraced on its own merits as well.

Video, while incredibly powerful, is just one example of course and every social media platform has its strengths & weaknesses and should be used to accent various aspects of your content and show – just as a topic tree defines the various levels of story development.

Twitter serves the instant gratification crowd & is an excellent tool for reaction & commentary in the moment. Are your producers constantly at the wheel of your show Twitter account for the ‘Wow’ moments throughout the program? They should be. The individual Tweets may capture spontaneity but discipline in using the platform to ensure that they’re captured should be anything but. It’s a powerful in-the-moment lure to bring people to the table.

Can you catch a moment in a photo from your everyday life and grow that into a topic for the next day’s show? That’s Instagram and the exploding world of Snapchat (10 BILLION videos posted as of April). A chance for people to get a peek at your world in a first person perspective is yet another level of connection and – more importantly – a way to develop unique aspects of the day’s biggest stories to extend the conversation.

Each unique platform needs to be used to generate content and your brand development in unique ways (a point missed all too often in radio with one-size-fits-all, e-blast style posts about the “radio” portion of the product line). Social Media has made it not just possible but imperative to take anything you present on your radio show into these spaces and to further develop everything that you do accordingly. Used correctly you will not only satisfy an audience increasingly granted access from every possible angle but retrain your own mind about the development of your product & brand in the process.

Everything that we do on the air or in the digital space comes with the ability and responsibility to develop tactics & topics unique to all of these platforms in creating a complete product.

So what does tomorrow’s show look like?

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Jeff Catlin, John Mamola, Gordy Rush & Maggie Clifton Join The 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

Jason Barrett

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We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on BSMSummit.com.

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit BSMSummit.com.

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Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett

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As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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California College Students Earn Chance to Win 10 Free Tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit Thanks to Steve Kamer Voiceovers

“In order to win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event.”

Jason Barrett

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With a new year comes renewed energy and optimism for the sports media business. Yours truly is looking forward to showcasing the best our business has to offer when we gather the industry in Los Angeles, CA at the 2023 BSM Summit at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California on March 21-22, 2023. Our conference is returning to the west coast for the first time since 2019. We’ve announced some super talented speakers. We’ve got additional things in the works and I plan to make additional announcements in the next few weeks.

People often ask me what the biggest challenge is putting this event together. My answer is always the same, it’s getting people to leave the comfort of their office and spend two days in a room together learning and discussing ways to grow the business. We have great sponsorship support and exceptional people on stage and are fortunate to have a lot of folks already set to attend. Our venue this year has extra space though, so I’m hoping a few more of you make time to join us. If you haven’t bought a ticket or reserved your hotel room, visit BSMSummit.com to make sure you’re all set.

If there’s one thing our industry could get better at it’s opening our minds to new ideas and information. There’s more than one path to success. Just because you’re in good shape today doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. Building brands, growing audiences, increasing revenue, and examining new opportunities is an ongoing process. There are many shifts along the way. We may not solve every business challenge during our two-days together but you’ll leave the room more connected and informed than when you entered it.

Each year I’ll get two or three emails from folks sharing that they learned more about the industry in two-days at the Summit than they have in ___ years inside of their building. That’s truly gratifying and what I strive to achieve when I put this event together. I remember when conferences like this didn’t exist for format folks and I take the risk and invest the time and resources to create it because I love the sports media industry and believe I can help it thrive. I see great value in gathering professionals to share ideas, information, and meet others who can help them grow their business, and if we do our part, I’m confident some will want to work with us too. That’s how we benefit over the long haul.

But as much as I focus on serving the professional crowd, I also think we have a responsibility to educate young people who are interested, passionate, and taking steps to be a part of our business in the future. The BSM website is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each month and it’s become a valuable resource for folks who enjoy sports radio and television. I think it’s vital to use our platform, influence and two-day event to connect generations and I’m happy to announce that we will once again welcome college students at this year’s Summit.

Most of us who’ve been in this line of work for two or three decades learned the business without podcasts, YouTube, social media, the web or conferences delivering two full days of sessions that taught you more about the business than what’s available inside of a class room. We learned by doing, and hoping we were right. Then we copied others who had success. Some of that still exists, and that’s not a bad thing. But where our business goes in the future is going to be drastically different.

I’d like to see the difference makers in our format remembered for years to come, and practices that have stood the test of time remain valued down the line. Change is inevitable in every business and I’m excited about the road that lies ahead especially some of the technological advancements that are now available or will soon become a bigger part of our industry. I think we can embrace the future while enjoying the present and celebrating the past. The best way to do that is by bringing together everyone who is and is hoping to be a part of the sports media universe.

So here’s two things we’re doing to make sure future broadcasters have an opportunity to learn with us.

First, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Steve Kamer Voiceovers. Thanks to Steve’s generosity, TEN (10) college students will be given FREE tickets to attend the 2023 BSM Summit in March. Steve is a USC graduate (Class of 1985) and he bought the ten tickets to help young people learn about the industry, save money and make valuable connections. When I first received his order, I thought he hit the wrong button. I reached out to tell him a mistake was made and I needed to refund him. That’s when he told me what he wanted to do for students who were pursuing their broadcasting dreams just as we both did years ago. A very classy gesture on his part.

As it pertains to the contest, here’s how it’s going to work.

To win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event. Included in your email should be a list of steps that you’ve taken or are pursuing to explore opportunities in the media industry. If you want to pass along a resume and audio or video clips too to showcase your work and experience, that’s fine as well. BSM will accept submissions until February 17th. The winners will be announced on Friday February 24th.

Helping me select the winners will be an exceptional panel of media executives. Each of these folks below will choose one person to attend our L.A. event. The final two will be picked by Steve Kamer and myself.

  • Scott Shapiro – Senior Vice President, FOX Sports Radio
  • Justin Craig – Senior Program Director, ESPN Radio
  • Jeff Sottolano – Executive Vice President, Programming, Audacy
  • Bruce Gilbert – Senior Vice President of Sports, Cumulus Media & Westwood One
  • Amanda Gifford – Vice President, Content Strategy & Audio, ESPN
  • Jacob Ullman – Senior Vice President, Production and Talent Development, FOX Sports
  • Greg Strassell – Senior Vice President, Programming, Hubbard Radio
  • Scott Sutherland – Executive Vice President, Bonneville International

To qualify for the BSM Summit College Contest, students must be enrolled in college in the state of California, pursuing a degree that involves course work either in radio, television, print or the digital business. Those attending local trade schools with a focus on broadcasting are also welcome to participate. You must be able to take care of your own transportation and/or lodging.

This is a contest I enjoy running. We’ve had great participation during our prior two shows in New York City but haven’t done it before on the west coast. I’m hoping it’s helpful to California students and look forward to hearing from many of them during the next month.

For students who live out of state and wish to attend or those enrolled at local universities who enter the contest but aren’t lucky enough to win one of the ten free tickets from Steve Kamer Voiceovers, we are introducing a special two-day college ticket for just $124.99. You must provide proof that you’re currently in school to take advantage of the offer. This ticket gives you access to all of our sessions inside the Founders Club. College tickets will be limited to forty (40) seats so take advantage of the opportunity before it expires.

The 2023 BSM Summit will feature award ceremonies with Emmis Communication CEO Jeff Smulyan and legendary WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, sessions with influential on-air talent such as Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, and Mina Kimes, big picture business conversations with executives from groups such as Audacy, iHeart, Bonneville, Good Karma Brands, Barstool, The Volume, Omaha Productions and more. For details on tickets and hotel rooms visit BSMsummit.com.

I look forward to seeing you in March in Los Angeles!

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