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Sports Radio Is Thinking Social But Not Acting It

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Satisfying the wants and needs of the audience is a daily priority for every sports radio executive, host and employee. But when advancing the station-listener relationship beyond the airwaves comes into play, things become much more difficult.

One quote which I’ve grown fond of over the years is from Henry Ford, who said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Ford was making the point that people fear change, but when you have a vision, you can’t be afraid to take risks and introduce new ideas which might make things better.

In 2017, most sports stations operate over the air, online and on mobile. They also have a Twitter and Facebook account, with some even extending their presence on Instagram and/or Snapchat. Social media platforms are where the audience reside each day, and where brands can further extend their relationships with their most passionate fans.

When you dig into a radio station’s social media account, you often find they post photos or links to stories, and occasionally a piece of audio or video from the station’s shows or hosts. You also discover just how inconsistent and far behind many brands are when it comes to using these platforms effectively.

These issues aren’t any one person’s fault. They’re a reflection of the industry not providing enough manpower or defined strategy to help their brands and people excel in a foreign space. Other companies outside of the radio business not only understand these areas much better, but they’re dedicating people, time, and resources to them, because they see the long-term benefits.

This is a big problem in our industry. When new opportunities arise, we assume that it’s a simple task, and try to solve it by tacking on more responsibility to the people inside our operations. If the audience seeks more written or video content, we just ask the talent to do more. If advertisers want a campaign built around the radio station’s digital and social media assets and our sales team doesn’t grasp the difference of the space, we just arm them with a presentation, and trust that they’ll get in the room and close the deal just as they would any other radio buy.

Except some of our top radio hosts aren’t great writers or equipped to perform on camera. And many salespeople who have spent years, and in some cases decades, selling traditional radio, don’t understand the complexities of selling digital and social media. Some also don’t see the financial upside in selling it. I’ve been in multiple places where it becomes a value added item for a client, or the account executive closes a radio deal and then shifts part of the total earnings towards social and digital so they can satisfy their budgets in those areas and keep their managers happy.

But if this is a space where people are investing most of their time, and advertiser dollars are shifting to it, then that should be enough cause for concern for the radio industry to invest more resources to becoming experts in it.

Here’s a sobering statistic from Edison Research’s 2017 Infinite Dial study. Did you know that 81% of all american’s use social media? That number has grown nearly 30% in the last 5 years, and 57% in less than 10 years. Altogether, an estimated 226 million people currently use social media.

Here’s some other data to digest. According to Michelle Klein, Head of Marketing for North America at Facebook, adults check their phones 30 times per day. The average millennial checks it 157 times per day. Most of each person’s phone time is spent checking their social media accounts.

If you consider that the average person sleeps 8.8 hours per day, that makes them accessible for 15.2 hours per day. This means that your brand has an opportunity to connect with the audience every 30.4 minutes, and a total of 30 different times per day on social media. More than a third of a person’s time is spent on social media, and each time they log on to check their account, your radio station is given an opening to present your content, personalities, promotions, and client messages to them (assuming they’re following your brand).

But now let’s look at the other side of this equation.

Inside most radio stations, people are consumed with the over the air product. They focus on ratings and revenue, and the thought of changing anything makes many uncomfortable, because it could disrupt the brands chances of earning a quarter hour of listening.

But once again, let’s look at some evidence.

First, the average person’s commute time in the United States is 26 minutes per day. This means that if they drive to and from work listening to your station, they will spend a total of 52 minutes per day consuming your content. That’s assuming of course that they never leave their car, make a phone call, play a CD or change the dial to sample another radio station.

Maybe they’ll also listen to your station while at lunch or at at work, but if we’re being realistic, most brands rely on in-car listening, which means that at best, you’ll earn 4 quarter hours of listening during a 52 minute drive. Even if I doubled that number of commute time for larger cities where traffic is heavier, that still only gives the radio station access to the audience for up to 2 hours a day, a total of eight quarter hours.

Meanwhile, the average person spends 50 minutes per day on Facebook, 25-30 minutes on Snapchat, 21 minutes daily on Instagram, and 17 minutes on Twitter. When you look at the younger demographic (18-29), the numbers are even higher. Most people now use a minimum of two social media accounts, and they’re investing more time before, during, and after work on these platforms.

Why should that concern you? Because soon these will be the people you’re trying to reach, except getting them to use your radio station will be as easy as convincing Donald Trump to stop tweeting.

Their parents may have grown up on radio, but they haven’t. That means you’ve got to play by their rules. Your entry point to them exists, except it’s not inside of a vehicle on a dashboard. It’s a place where they’re already established, and you too have a solid foundation. The big difference is that it dominates their life, while you consider it to be an afterthought – social media.

Remember when I wrote the piece last week about the sports format needing to consider eliminating sports updates? Traditionalists took exception because it’s different than what they’ve been used to for the past thirty years. But in this case, change is necessary, and here’s why.

If the average person only hears 2-4 updates per day due to spending 52 minutes of total time in their car, and the reports themselves offer minimal original content and unique value (not to mention they’re often tied to a commercial break which causes further tune out), and we have key areas of our business performing poorly which require greater maintenance and focus, then what are we debating about? We’ve got to take a collective look in the mirror and ask ourselves, why we’re resisting efforts to serve the audience in the places where they’re most available.

We focus our time and energy resisting change to an antiquated update structure, which has a maximum potential of reaching our listeners 2-4 times per day, while the same listeners are engaged and accessible on social platforms 30 times daily and for the same amount of time as their daily commute. If you’re a gambler, would you bet on people spending more time on the radio and less time on social media over the next 5 years? If you answered yes, please email me. I have a bucket of steam, a left handed screwdriver and a wall stretcher that I’d like to sell you.

One of the biggest issues I see is that most sports radio brands don’t have dedicated digital and social media strategists inside of their buildings. Nor do they have a game plan or the knowledge of how to maximize the station’s relationship with the audience and advertisers in that space. They may receive corporate support from time to time, but even those corporate teams with great insights and strategies, are at the mercy of what each brand does on its own. That becomes increasingly difficult when overseeing the strategic efforts of more than one hundred radio stations, many of which broadcast different formats.

To excel in the social space, companies have to be willing to make larger investments to help their brands. This is vital to every station’s existence, relevance, and future growth. Before the company dedicates funds though, they have a right to question each operator about the dollars they’re already spending towards their on-air products. If resources are being used in areas that deliver minimal impact, then it’s worth exploring redirecting those dollars to further improve the brand’s social and digital media strategy and execution.

As it relates to the social picture, I did a study recently of twelve local sports stations to see how active and engaged their brands were on Facebook. The brands I chose for this project were WFAN and ESPN New York 98.7FM in New York, ESPN LA 710 and AM 570 L.A. Sports in Los Angeles, 790 The Ticket in Miami, 620 WDAE in Tampa, 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis, Arizona Sports 98.7FM in Phoenix, Sports Radio 94 WIP in Philadelphia, ESPN 97.5 in Houston, the Mighty 1090 in San Diego and Sports Radio 810 WHB.

I selected these stations for a few reasons.

  • I wanted to feature a number of different corporate groups. For this project, CBS, Entercom, ESPN, iHeart, Hubbard, and Bonneville were all represented.
  • I wanted to examine a few locally operated brands. Gow Media, Union Broadcasting, and Broadcast Company of the Americas all fit that description.
  • I wanted to see how stations executed on both coasts, in the north and south, and in the middle of the country.
  • I wanted to analyze a few stations with strong leaders who I know have thick skin, and who know that I don’t take personal shots and am only interested in helping our business improve.
  • I wanted to profile a few brands that I don’t have deep relationships with because it’s a little uncomfortable and forces me to be thorough and honest.

Over a period of 24-48 hours, I examined how often these stations posted, what time of the day their material went up, which content they featured, and the amount of response they provided to the audience’s feedback. I chose Facebook over the other platforms because it is the most utilized social network on the planet. The others aren’t even close. If you’re unsure about that, check out slides 1, 2, 3 and 4 courtesy of the 2017 Infinite Dial study done last week by Edison Research.

To see my full report for all 12 sports stations, click here.

Something that’s important to understand is that each platform requires different tactics. What you do on Twitter won’t work on Facebook, and what you do on Facebook won’t register on Instagram. You also need to understand which days and times the audience is most available, and capitalize on those opportunities. Fast Company conducted a study to share best practices and I recommend clicking the link to familiarize yourself with it.

An area of frustration for many radio stations is how Facebook uses sophisticated algorithms to limit a brand’s ability to reach their entire audience. But while it may fuel your desires to share a few expletive laced commentaries with Mark Zuckerberg, it’s the platform that delivers the biggest impact, and you can’t afford not to make this your brand’s top social media priority.

One thing you can do to help yourself, is make sure you’re posting material that doesn’t read as an ad. If it comes across as shareworthy content that’s even better. Anytime you attach a video or photograph to your posts, your odds increase of the content being viewed by a larger part of your fan base.

I noticed while researching this story that many stations tend to follow a similar pattern when posting material. They often update social media content during the weekday business hours when everyone is inside the building. However, when people are home from work at night or on the weekend, and actively engaging with a sports brand during a popular sporting event, the content dramatically decreases. They also tend to post content in off peak hours that isn’t as topical, which does little to help the brand.

Another area of concern, one which I consider the worst sin of them all, is the lack of engagement that most sports radio stations provide to their fans on Facebook. This is true for radio stations outside of the sports format too. Tons of comments are being sent to your brand each day, but they rarely get answered. Imagine if your audience kept calling your phone line to talk to your hosts, and sent in a flurry of texts to the air studio, but nobody ever acknowledged them. Eventually the audience would stop engaging. Well, this is the expectation you’ve created in the mind of your audience as a result of being absent on social media.

What happens in most cases on these pages is a one sided conversation. The radio station pushes out the content, hopes the audience clicks a link or gives the brand a like or comment, but rarely do they take the time to acknowledge the listener’s existence. What this tells the audience is that there’s limited upside for engaging with the brand, and they’re better off instead sending a text to the studio, an email to the program director or a tweet to the host. Why? Because in each of those three cases they have a much better chance of receiving a response.

Ask yourself this question, why would my audience engage with my radio station account? What is the upside in the relationship for the listener? Do they gain access to information they can’t get elsewhere by following the page? Are they earning any rewards for liking and commenting on your material? If they never gain a response or benefit, why would you expect them to continue supporting you in the future?

Here’s a few others to think about. If I asked you what your engagement percentage was on your social media accounts, would you know it? Do you know how many posts your band delivers each day? If your CEO called and asked, “how do we grow our Facebook likes by 10,000 over the next 12 months”, do you have a strategy to do so?

The term “social media” implies that you’re entering a public community where others will interact and share ideas, content and information. Except most sports stations aren’t doing that. The term that best describes our approach is “one sided media” because we focus solely on pushing content at people and not participating in the experience with them.

So how do we fix it?

It starts with each company, market manager, and program director taking a good hard look at the way they’re executing, and admitting that it’s a space they need help in. Most brand managers lack superior knowledge and vision in the social space because it’s unfamiliar territory, and still relatively new. But if this is where your listeners are most available, and advertisers continue to spend more on digital and social assets, then that should serve as a motivator to get it right.

Then what follows is exploring deeper ways to educate everyone inside each building. Whether that’s attending a social media conference to learn tricks of the trade, bringing a social media strategist into your building from a company unrelated to radio to share best practices with your crew or studying on your own time how to best use and monetize these spaces, it requires sustained effort and a lot of learning.

After that, each station has to review its internal structure, and figure out who inside their operation can help the brand improve its social media relevance, reputation, and response time. This may require reassigning people to new positions that provide a much bigger payoff for them and the company, and/or hiring non-radio people who are experts in the space to help lead the radio station’s digital and social media efforts.

But to those of you who would be tasked with hiring someone to lead the brand’s digital and social strategy, I want you to consider something. If this is an area you’re not skilled in, how do you know if you’re crafting the right job description, targeting the right candidates, and asking the right questions?

Too often in radio we assume that just because someone designed a website, wrote a newspaper column, or worked inside another media company’s digital department that they’ll be qualified to create the brand’s digital and social media identity and execute the vision to make it matter. But we learn afterwards that they’re not versatile enough. It’s easy to blame the individual for not doing the job, but the process also reveals a lack of strategy in our hiring, and an unwillingness on our end to go outside the box and look in different places for digital/social brand leaders.

When a radio station is hiring a program director, the market manager and corporate team work together to make sure they find a person capable of managing and leading the radio station’s on-air staff, strategy, and execution. In this case, the same line of thinking is necessary. You have to think of this person as the digital/social media programmer of your brand, and that requires a special set of skills. It’s not a job for the person with the least amount of hours in the promotions department or the handful of producers on your shows who are already spread way too thin.

Far too often in our business, there’s a lack of urgency for becoming masters in new areas. There’s this mentality that it’s simply enough to be strong on the air and present in the social space, rather than add people who are experts in it. Well guess what? It’s not enough.

Do yourself a favor today and take a few minutes to read this piece from Lori Lewis, who lists the various things that happen inside of an internet minute. This is what you’re up against every day if you’re not cutting thru the clutter and forming deeper relationships with your audience.

There’s no excuse to be invisible to the audience on your own page. If the audience is taking the time to like or follow your account, and they’re reading your posts, promoting it to their friends, responding to topics, and supporting your advertisers, the least you can do is acknowledge them. This will especially come back to haunt you with younger people who won’t be as patient or as loyal as your current P1’s might be.

If you saw the movie “Moneyball” you may remember the scene when Brad Pitt (playing the role of Billy Beane) tells his entire scouting department they need to think and act differently when replacing a few superstars who were leaving via free agency. Beane understood that the Athletics couldn’t match up against larger market clubs when economics entered the equation, and if they planned to compete, they were going to have to adjust their strategy. His message to the group was that they had a choice, either adapt or die.

Well, we’ve got to do the same if we want to take advantage of the social space.

Sports radio’s social media strategy may not be on the verge of extinction, but if we keep ignoring our fans, bombarding them with irrelevant material at the wrong times, and treating social platforms like an afterthought instead of a critical part of our business, we could miss out on significant opportunities to strengthen our relationships with our audiences and advertisers. Before we end up like dinosaurs, let’s educate ourselves, and make sure we’re positioned to ride this gravy train as far as it will take us.

Barrett Blogs

Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Takeaways From The NAB Show and Six Days in Las Vegas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional:

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

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

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

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Six New Contributors Join Barrett Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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