I sat down recently with Damon Amendolara to tape an upcoming episode of the BSM Podcast and after our conversation he asked me “who out there today is revolutionizing sports radio”? I wanted to respond with a laundry list of sports stations who were doing unique things and staying ahead of the curve but I couldn’t.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If a station has a system in place, and it’s working, and their fans are enjoying what they provide, then who am I to suggest that they should change just for the sake of being an industry leader?
But let’s be honest, not every brand in the business today is enjoying ratings and revenue success. Yet there’s a comfort factor that exists inside many buildings, which prevents stations from taking bold steps to improve programming in order to satisfy the growing demands and needs of the listening audience.
If you missed it, KNBR in San Francisco announced last week they were eliminating on-air sports updates. The move cost two update anchors employment at the radio station. While I never like to see anyone lose their position, the radio station made the right call, even if it wasn’t conventional or popular. Even the two terminated employees agreed with the station’s forward thinking.
For decades, sports radio stations have featured two to three sports updates per hour. WFAN in New York introduced the 20/20 sports flash which many CBS stations have adopted over the years, and brands which have aligned themselves with ESPN Radio, have taken a similar approach by using the branding of “SportsCenter Updates”.
In the past, the audience was at the mercy of relying on the radio station, newspaper and television for up to the minute information. We started our day reading the paper, utilized sports radio throughout the work day, and then turned to local sports television or SportsCenter at night to fill us in on what we didn’t know. These services were valuable because our access to information was limited and much slower.
But then along came the internet, which started making everything better, and in real time. All of a sudden, waiting until the next day to read a columnist’s opinion or reporter’s game story seemed ridiculous. As did waiting for the 10 o’clock news to watch a 3 minute sports report of information you learned about 8-12 hours earlier.
The worst of the group to adapt were newspapers. For decades the print business relied on selling advertising and charging people to read their work, but now thanks to the online space, readers were seeking the content online, and for free, causing the print industry to lose a ton of revenue it was dependent on.
The shift also placed more pressure on writers who were now tasked with writing their stories, adding blogs, chatting with readers, and in some cases, creating video. The same began to take place in television where some reporters and on-air commentators were heading into the field with cameras and being expected to edit their own work.
Next came the explosion of social media. Facebook and Twitter took off, and soon we’d have conversations with family and friends, while increasing our connections and relationships with brands and their key people. As we gained more knowledge of the social experience, we started passing along content which we found interesting, helping brands reach more people with their content in the process.
This forced reporters, columnists and personalities to open themselves up even more. Soon they were reporting information on social platforms, before even doing so on their own airwaves or websites. Once again, the audience demanded instant information, and if sports media members weren’t providing it, they’d find others who could.
So that brings us to the present state of sports radio and its connection to on-air updates.
Many have mixed opinions on the impact and benefit of these reports, so let me present both sides of the debate so you can process the information and arrive at your own conclusion regarding their future value.
First, why should they be kept? Those in favor of keeping them on the air will tell you that they provide a few positives. Here are six examples.
- They air 2-3x per hour, which means sponsors have the opportunity to attach their :05-:10 tag lines to them. Considering that during the span of a 13-hour broadcast day, a radio station is going to provide 26-39 of these reports, which adds up to 130-185 per week, that’s a lot of frequency for sponsors to latch onto.
- The updates help inform sports fans of the most important stories of the day in a short amount of time and if the talk show host isn’t discussing a particular story, the listener can still find out about it.
- They are positioned at set times, which allows the audience to develop a routine with the radio station. The listener knows that regardless of what’s happening on a talk show, they can rely on the brand to inform them at specific times.
- They add an extra voice to the daily conversation, and help break up the talk show. The extra voice in the room also at times becomes a contributor to the talk show, leading to an increase in entertainment value.
- By having the updates in place, the audience doesn’t have to rely on their phones while driving, allowing them to stay informed without risking the potential of an accident.
- They serve as a great marketing tool for promoting the radio station’s on-air content, often using audio from other parts of the broadcast day which the audience may not have heard, helping to drive digital downloads or additional listening to other shows.
All of the reasons that I mentioned above are valid and why some programmers and market managers are reluctant to change course. But now let’s look at the other side of the argument.
- Although the radio station presents 26-39 updates per day and 130-195 per week, and they may be available for sponsorship, most brands use them as value added for advertisers, which means there isn’t a ton of revenue being generated specifically for the reports. Some will argue that the station wouldn’t land the advertisers dollars it does without added value sponsorship’s, but the client cares most about the frequency of their message being communicated on the air. Whether they’re attached to a time check, sports update, on-air reset or show feature, they’re flexible.
- The update may serve up sports information but most of it is material which the the majority of the audience is already aware of. Sports fans are constantly seeking out information and opinion and feeding them material which lacks urgency, suspense and value gives them reason to change the dial.
- Routine is certainly a benefit IF the audience values the content being presented. If not, you’ve created a position on the radio station which tells them the exact times of when to tune out the radio station.
- Adding extra voices to a talk show helps keep it interesting, but does that mean the station needs to feature 8-12 reports during the show just to include the anchor in 5-10 minutes of conversation? Is that really a wise way to use a station’s resources, if this is the best value that comes from the position?
- Yes it’s true, keeping the phone out of the listener’s hands when they’re in their car is a great idea. Nobody wants to see loyal listeners die or end up in a hospital, but this is assuming the driver in each car is going to act responsible, which we all know, they won’t. There’s also the reality that listening to shows by phone has increased and will continue to do so, and if a station is fielding 13 hours of updates when most people spend 1-2 hours per day in their cars, then the question is, why is that a smart strategy?
- I love the idea of marketing the radio station’s content in updates but how many anchors actually do that? Most use the time to look ahead to what’s coming up each night or they use the time to share stories they discovered on other sports websites. Scan around the country and aside from hearing a different voice, cadence and energy, much of the content is similar. If it’s not unique, and not redirecting the audience back to the station’s website, talk shows or social media pages, then it’s not taking advantage of the on-air marketing opportunity.
When I raise this issue, I do so with a big picture view of the industry in mind. I’m not one of these people who thinks we should change things just for the sake of change. But I also don’t think that you fix the problem by just having your host read reports or changing the name from your updates. Those are the dumb things that we do as an industry sometimes that just miss the point. It’s not about name changes or who reads the script, it’s about the value of the actual update/content.
To move a brand forward I believe you need to look at things from the inside out. Each station and company has to decide what matters most and direct their resources to the areas where they can make the biggest difference. If your station has a bottomless budget and isn’t under pressure to satisfy the bottom line, then feel free to ignore this entire piece because clearly your brand is in such a unique position that it can do whatever it pleases.
But from where I sit, I see the world of digital and social media exploding and being critical to the future of our brands. It’s already grown leaps and bounds over the past decade and it’s only going to increase as we move forward. Yet when I look at the creativity, execution, originality and engagement of sports radio brands in these spaces it’s very underwhelming.
Have you looked at the iTunes charts to see which shows perform best? Aside from a few national programs which have the scale of hundreds of markets pushing their content, the majority of top rated programs come from shows which aren’t on radio stations. Whether it’s Bill Simmons, Pardon My Take, Richard Deitsch, Adrian Wojnarowski’s The Vertical or numerous wrestling podcasts which have built up dedicated audiences, sports fans who turn to the most powerful digital platform to hear sports audio can’t find sports radio shows here because they don’t stand out.
Keep in mind, sports stations have a megaphone to use to promote their audio offerings. Many of these other digital offerings don’t.
But let’s move iTunes to the side for a second. Have you taken a look at the websites of most of the nation’s sports radio brands? Many operate with the same shell, pull information from the Associated Press or other news providers, and when you turn to their audio section, you find 3-4 hours of audio per show (minus the commercials) and minimal original content of value.
A big reason why digital audio is attractive is because it gives the listener something back that they value tremendously – time! They want to enjoy the show/host, but do so in shorter fashion. Yet most sports stations take the same exact on-air product, throw it on the web, and call it a day.
Except that is not giving the audience what they want. The best 60 minutes of your content gives them reason to click and listen. A GREAT 15-30 minutes of your best stuff makes them even more likely to download your material. Heck, even websites like Clammr allow brands to showcase up to 24 seconds of audio, which can be used as a short teaser to give the listener incentive to listen to the podcast. Sadly not many take advantage of these opportunities.
But that’s only the audio portion of this story. Now let’s examine the social media picture. After all, it is where the audience begins, continues, and ends their day, and a space you can’t afford to not be an expert in. I’ll let you know that I spent 2 days last week evaluating a ton of sports radio stations across the country on social media and I’ll be sharing my findings in a future column.
Take a minute and locate your favorite sports radio station on Facebook and Twitter. Now go thru their last 10 posts, and tell me how much unique content you find on each platform. Then look at how often the station redirects the audience back to the airwaves, its website, its podcasts or another area where the brand can benefit.
You’re going to find a lot of holes, but that’s not even the worst of our sins.
Let’s now examine how often the radio station engages in conversation with its audience on social media. Go thru those same 10 posts, and tell me how many times you’ve seen the radio station respond or acknowledge any comments left behind by the brand’s most important asset, its listeners. It rarely happens.
When I see this occur, it reinforces a few of my opinions.
First, it speaks to a lack of internal focus on the digital and social experience. People just post content and assume the audience will see it. They don’t always think about what they’re posting, how they’re saying it, what times they’re posting it or if it involves a strategic element to redirect the listener to another part of the radio station’s business.
Secondly, it shows a lack of manpower in most buildings. Stations tack on the responsibility of social and digital media execution to their employees, but because they don’t understand the space or how to be experts in it, and don’t sell a ton of advertising on it, they just assume it’s an extra thing the brand must do.
The third thing I’m reminded of is that unless things change, a listener who values their time and making connections, is better served NOT following the radio station’s social media accounts. Instead they should invest their time in the hosts. Why? They’re more likely to earn a response on-air or on social media from the talent, plus they’ll get to know them better. They can also still learn about what’s taking place on the air from the host, and if the brand is only interested in a one way relationship, then what’s the return on time spent supporting the brand for the audience?
Folks, it’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. It’s not “push content at you and ignore your existence” media. If an audience litters your social media pages with hundreds to thousands of responses per day, and you never take a minute to hit the like button or respond to their questions, suggestions, comments or complaints or provide any special benefits or unique experiences that are only available to your followers, then there’s little reason for them to actively supporting your pages.
So now let’s bring this full circle.
The format lacks original podcasts. Brands don’t promote short-clips of their station’s best content to entice the audience to download their programming. They’re not condensing a 4 hour show into the best 30-60 minutes to make it more appealing to the listener. We’re also not engaged or strategically exploring ways to increase brand loyalty with the audience.
Yet here we sit, having a debate about the value of sports updates, an area of the business which many would agree is not critical to the success of our stations. Our reluctance to change what we do and focus on the areas of our business that matter is no different than the print industry’s ignorance of thinking their customers would continue paying to read their stories online. At some point you have to make difficult decisions or risk becoming expendable by the audience.
I’m not saying there aren’t some excellent anchors on the air in markets across the country. I’m also not suggesting that brands like WFAN or ESPN Radio should abandon utilizing sports updates because they’ve built a certain expectation with their products that the audience does tune to them for. There are always exceptions.
But that’s not the case with most brands.
It’s not the anchor’s fault that the audience has gained access to information faster on social and digital media. Or that the listener has been treated to thousands of audio options and now utilizes the station they love for a shorter amount of time. But if that’s what people are doing, and these are the platforms where they are spending time, and it’s where advertisers are shifting their dollars (they are), then your brand has to make a commitment to being great in the space or it will come back to haunt you.
I mentioned this on my last episode of the BSM Podcast, those who are in anchor positions, should be thinking of the ways they can reinvent themselves and offer value beyond two two-minute reports per hour. Can you deliver video commentaries? Write columns? Report on local teams and break news? Host shows? If you have knowledge of how to help the brand master its digital and social media experience that helps too.
Sports updates have lost their appeal because the content isn’t special, the information is available elsewhere, and it can be consumed in a much shorter time. The phone and computer have become great weapons for the audience, which makes it harder than ever to win the battle for their time.
The audience craves our talk shows and personalities. This is our entry point to their hearts and minds. They don’t get interrupted 2-3x per hour when watching a movie, sitcom or sports television show, and we can’t continue to place speed bumps in front of them during our shows and think it’s going to better serve us in the battle to grow ratings and brand loyalty. That makes zero sense.
Whether we like it or not, the audience’s demands have increased. We’re now operating in a sea of audio after decades of being the dominant fish in the pond. Attention spans are shortening, listening occasions are less frequent, and the appetite for social and digital media continues to rise like a phoenix.
The same hurdles exist on television where SportsCenter now finds itself having to reinvent its approach after being the go to source for the entire sports universe. As a result, ESPN has been losing money and viewers, and finds itself in the most vulnerable spot it’s ever been in as a business.
This is the reality of the world today, and when it comes to providing a strong digital and social experience, radio is standing in the batter’s box with a toothpick trying to hit an Aroldis Chapman fastball over the fence. It may not be comfortable, but to stay ahead in this competitive environment, each brand, manager, anchor and company has to evaluate the areas of their brand that matter most, and figure out how to shift resources from areas that are less important to others which provide a significant benefit.
KNBR recognized it needed to change for the betterment of its future, and did so by eliminating a convenient part of their product, but not a necessary one, sports updates. I can only hope that you’re willing to make the same gutsy decision down the line, because it’s not a question of IF it will be necessary, it’s a question of WHEN!
Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.