Connect with us
BSM Summit
blank

Barrett Blogs

Radio’s Illness Is Its Public Perception

Jason Barrett

Published

on

To borrow a line from Clark Griswold, “Where’s The Tylenol?” If you’ve invested time reading the headlines about the radio business lately, chances are you need it. Week after week, publications flood the marketplace with stories about flat to declining revenues, career instability, and mergers and sales, while industry officials strike back by touting radio’s position as the number one reach medium.

If you’re a young person thinking about entering the radio business, a veteran wrestling with the decision of whether or not to stay involved in it, or an advertiser wondering if placing your dollars in the industry remains a sound investment, you’re likely going to proceed with caution. The overwhelming feeling is that the industry is going to hell in a hand basket, and what’s sad, is that much of this sounds a lot worse than it is.

But do you know who’s fault it is that this has become the public’s perception of our business? It’s ours.

Step back for a minute and think about why you chose to pursue working in radio. For many, they heard a song on the radio, the voice of a talk show host or a comedic bit on the air and it struck a chord with them. The more time they spent consuming the station’s content and hearing how much fun everyone was having, the more they wanted to be part of it.

For others, they might have been drawn to radio after attending a station event, reading about it online, meeting someone in the field, hearing about a contest, watching someone speak, or simply by luck.

Regardless of where you first connected, once you got involved, you stayed involved, because it was fun and brought people together. You felt proud to call yourself an employee of the radio station and you took pride in the performance of the company.

This is the bond that radio produces that is different from other mediums. Television doesn’t provide the same level of intimacy. Neither does the print industry. Social media may create conversations on public platforms, but the human touch and personal connection is different.

But how often do we hear about the positive benefits our business provides? Where are the headlines on the amazing content being produced? Or the special connections and unique experiences being created by our radio stations? How often do we highlight the success stories of our gifted personalities who make our brands meaningful to local and national audiences?

For one reason or another, the daily conversation on our business has become centered around ratings, sales, quarterly earnings, and satisfying shareholders, and less on the reasons why radio is and will always be cool.

I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to beat the drum until we make this part of our business better – if you don’t tell your story, someone else will, and once they control the narrative you won’t like the results.

I hear industry people complain about the things that are said, written and presented about brands and companies, but I don’t see a ton of action being taken to highlight the many positives. Brand managers, marketing directors, personalities and producers share just as much of a responsibility to spread the message about the amazing work they’re doing as a CEO and Market Manager of a company has to sell their story to advertisers, investors and employees.

And I’m not just talking about promoting yourself on your own social media accounts. That just reinforces your positives with those who already know what you do. How about those who have no idea of your success? I can point out the way the industry is presented across multiple publications, and you may agree, but if you never provide a press release, success story or audio sample of something you created, then how is anyone else supposed to give you credit?

People don’t choose to work in this industry because they want to learn more about layoffs, mergers, stock prices, shareholders, consolidation, sales, bankruptcy, and corporate restructuring. Yet these are the words right now that are shaping the image of our business. Do any of them give off a positive vibe and make the industry sound cool to you? Do they give you hope for where the business is headed? Would you take your own money and invest it in an industry that presents its own story this way?

We are losing sight of what our business is, does and represents. And it’s a crying shame. There are way too many great things happening for us to be projecting this public image of a bunch of lost souls heading towards their own funeral.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize that the radio business has illnesses and limited remedies. I’m not suggesting we should sweep under the carpet the realities of what many of our broadcast companies are dealing with. But pardon my french, do you know who doesn’t give a shit about the majority of these issues? The audiences we cater to.

If we continue to carry dark clouds above our heads, and act as if we’re on the verge of the apocalypse, audiences will eventually trade in their time with us for others who provide a more uplifting experience. How exactly does that benefit us?

This is even more true with advertisers. Relationships may help a brand navigate thru treacherous terrain, but if a company is frequently connected to negative stories about layoffs, poor ratings, underachieving sales, and failing stock prices, clients and agencies are going to pause before parting ways with their money. They read the trades and news media even more than our audience. When gloom and doom surrounds a business, it becomes harder to place your faith in it.

Understand this, while we’re busy expressing our displeasure, disappointment, frustration and concern about the current state of our industry, do you know who isn’t doing that? Apple, Spotify, Pandora, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter. Coincidentally, the majority of those companies are trending upward.

Whether you see it or not, they are all competitors. As radio shares one depressing story after another, these media companies are pushing innovation, content, fun and connection. They are chasing the same ad dollars that we are, and they’re gaining a hell of a lot more of them than anyone else. Quarter after quarter they’re enjoying massive growth, while the radio business pushes the message of “flat is the new up.”

I don’t claim to have all of the answers on how to remedy the radio industry’s PR problem but I think a good starting point is to draw attention to the many great things being created on a daily basis.

We conduct powerful interviews. Creative promos are written, produced and presented. Entertaining bits and benchmarks are featured and elicit emotion and reactions out of our audiences. Memorable content has big promotional value and is share worthy.

We also use our airwaves to help listeners and companies during times of struggle. We rally our communities around local causes and events. We excite our listeners by developing contests that offer them once in a lifetime experiences. Even play-by-play broadcasts create a bond between the audience and the radio station because of the shared interest in supporting the home team.

All of the items I just mentioned, have the potential to be newsworthy. We do them daily and fail to recognize their promotional value. It’s easy to seek promotional support when your ratings increase, a high profile talent signs a new contract, or your station breaks news or generates a controversial on-air response from a guest. But showcasing your brand beyond your own social media accounts and email databases requires taking additional steps.

When you create a promotion or contest, do you alert anyone besides your audience and staff? As someone who has promoted them many times for brands on this website, I can tell you that I often have to dig for them, rather than be made aware of them. I may take the extra step to help a sports station highlight something cool they’re doing but guess who isn’t? The rest of the trades and news media.

How often do you pass along creative promos or on-air bits to showcase your station’s entertainment value? Have you alerted media outlets about some of the ways your talent have gone above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of the audience? Maybe even invited an outlet to tag along and cover the story?

When was the last time you shared an audio clip of a talent telling a personal story on the air? Case in point, Mike Valenti delivered a moving on-air commentary three weeks ago on 97.1 The Ticket after his partner Terry Foster announced his retirement. I included it in a piece I wrote, but had I not looked for it, it’d never have been promoted outside of Detroit.

And that’s not a knock on The Ticket. It simply shows how something we do daily, and take for granted as being newsworthy, can actually have larger promotional value if the trades and news outlets are notified. I’d much rather have seen stories the next day in Radio Ink, Inside Radio, All Access and Talkers highlighting Valenti’s heart felt monologue to his partner than being subjected to another industry piece on revenue declines and budget cuts.

And before you bring it up, I understand that we have no control over which stories get featured in the trades and no guarantee that ink would have been given to Valenti’s commentary. Maybe I’m being too optimistic but I have confidence in those outlets because at their core they care about the success of radio.

It’s also been my observation over the years that when outlets are notified of something positive or powerful happening on a local or national radio station, they’re more than willing to help share that story. They’re not going to take the bait on everything you throw in front of them, but they’re more than fair in providing coverage. When you combine excellence with persistence it often leads to increased visibility.

There are many skeptics questioning the viability of radio. I am not one of them. I love this business and all that it entails, and believe that many of the solutions are inside of our own walls. However, we can do a much better job of changing the message about our brands, content, people and industry.

If you made it to Las Vegas for the NAB Show, then you saw how high the enthusiasm was for the future of media. Radio wasn’t as present as I’d have liked it to be, but each room was filled with people wanting to learn more about podcasting, content strategy, the future of the dashboard, the industry’s projected growth, and other areas of our business.

Then there was Fred Jacob’s TechSurvey 13 which included responses from more than fifty thousand people. Many of these participants share a passion, love and interest in our brands and programs, and 90% said they’re listening to either the same or more AM/FM radio than they had in the past. That’s remarkable. Especially when you consider how media consumption has shifted in recent years.

These same people have begun purchasing the Amazon Alexa or Google Home. One in 10 now own one and 36 million are projected to use a smart speaker by the end of 2017. You can expect that number to grow even more if Apple invades the space as many expect.

Why is that important? Because voice technology is making it even easier for people to listen to radio/audio. Automakers want it present inside the vehicle, and because of its simplicity, the use of it is increasing radio’s ability to stay connected to its audience inside the home. That’s an area that radio has struggled to penetrate in recent years.

We’re also seeing people invest more time with stations and their personalities by listening to on-demand audio and original podcasts. According to Edison Research, 42 million are listening weekly to podcasts, and that’s double from where things stood just 4 years ago.

These are all signs that illustrate how healthy the radio/audio business is. But if you spent a week looking at the way the industry is presented in public spaces you’d lose sight of that.

The fight to monetize and measure our brands and companies better is never ending. This is a competitive industry and operators have every right to demand improvement and profitability. But let’s not forget why audiences come to us in the first place, and take more control of the image we’re projecting about our business. If we don’t, we may be measuring and monetizing a lot less in the future.

Barrett Blogs

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

Published

on

blank

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!

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

Barrett News Media To Gather The Industry in Nashville in September 2023

“I’ve been lucky enough to play a key role in bringing the sports media industry together on an annual basis, and in 2023 we’re going to attempt to do the same for news/talk media professionals.”

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

One of the best parts about working in the media business is that you’re afforded an opportunity to use your creativity, take risks, and learn if an audience or advertisers will support your ideas. Sometimes you hit a homerun, other times you strike out, but regardless of the outcome, you keep on swinging.

I’ve tried to do that since launching a digital publishing and radio consulting company in 2015. Fortunately, we’ve delivered more hits than misses.

When I added news media industry coverage to our brand in September 2020, I knew it’d be a huge undertaking. The news/talk format is two and a half times larger than sports, many of its brands are powered by national shows, and the content itself is more personal and divisive. I wanted our focus and attention on news media stories, not politics and news, and though there have been times when the lines got blurred, we’ve tried to be consistent in serving industry professionals relevant content .

What made the move into news media more challenging was that I’d spent less time in it. That meant it’d take longer to find the right writers, and it required putting more time into building relationships, trust, respect, and support. Though we still have more ground to cover, we’ve made nice strides. That was reflected by the participation we received when we rolled out the BNM Top 20 of 2022 the past two weeks. Hopefully you checked out the lists. Demetri Ravanos and I will be hosting a video chat today at 1pm ET on BNM’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and through Barrett Media’s YouTube page discussing the series, as well as this article.

It’s because of that growing support, trust, and confidence in what we’re doing that I’m taking a risk yet again. I’ve been lucky enough to play a key role in bringing the sports media industry together on an annual basis, and in 2023 we’re going to attempt to do the same for news/talk media professionals.

I am excited to share the news that Barrett News Media will host its first ever BNM Summit on Thursday September 14, 2023 in Nashville, TN. Our one-day conference will take place at Vanderbilt University’s Student Life Center Ballroom. The venue we’ve selected is tremendous and I’m eager to spend a day with news/talk professionals to examine ways to further grow the format and industry.

If you’re wondering why we chose Nashville, here’s why.

First, the city itself is awesome. The access to great restaurants, bars, entertainment, hotels, and famous landmarks is unlimited, and when you’re traveling to a city for a business conference, those things matter. Being in a city that’s easy for folks across the country to get to also doesn’t hurt.

Secondly, a conference is harder to pull off if you can’t involve successful on-air people in it. If you look at Nashville’s growth in the talk media space over the past decade, it’s remarkable. Many notable talents now live and broadcast locally, major brands have created a local footprint in the area, and that opens the door to future possibilities. I have no idea who we’ll include in the show, and I haven’t sent out one request yet because I wanted to keep this quiet until we were sure it made sense. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of interest in participating and I can’t promise we’ll be able to accommodate all requests but if you have interest in being involved, send an email to Jason@BarrettNewsMedia.com.

Third, finding the right venue is always difficult. We looked at a bunch of great venues in Nashville during our vacation this past summer, and when we stepped on to the campus at Vanderbilt University and walked through the SLC Ballroom, we knew it was the right fit. It had the space we needed, the right tech support, access to private parking, a green room for guests, and it was within walking distance of a few hotels, restaurants, and the Parthenon.

As I went through the process of deciding if this event was right for BNM, a few folks I trust mentioned that by creating a Summit for news/media folks, it could create a competitive situation. I don’t see it that way. I view it as a responsibility. I think we need more people coming together to grow the industry rather than trying to tear each other down. I hear this far too often in radio. We worry about what one station is doing rather than strengthening our own brand and preparing to compete with all audio options.

For years I’ve attended conferences hosted by Radio Ink, NAB, Talkers, and Conclave. I’ve even spoken at a few and welcomed folks who operate in the consulting space to speak at my shows. I’ll continue to support those events, read various trade sites, and invite speakers who work in a similar field because they’re good people who care about helping the industry. I believe BNM and BSM add value to the media business through its websites and conferences, and though there may be a detractor or two, I’ll focus on why we’re doing this and who it’s for, and let the chips fall where they may.

I know juggling two conferences in one year is likely going to make me crazy at times, but I welcome the challenge. In the months ahead I’ll start lining up speakers, sponsors, building the conference website, and analyzing every detail to make sure we hold up our end of the bargain and deliver an informative and professionally beneficial event. The news/talk media industry is massive and making sure it stays healthy is critically important. I think we can play a small role in helping the business grow, and I look forward to finding out on September 14th in Nashville at Vanderbilt University.

Hope to see you there!

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

Jimmy Powers, Raj Sharan, Matt Berger and John Goforth Added to 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

“BSM is having a special Holiday SALE this week. Individual tickets are reduced to $224.99 until Friday night December 23rd at 11:59pm ET.

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

In less than a hundred days, the BSM Summit will return to Los Angeles for two-days of networking, learning, laughing, and celebrating. The conference hasn’t been held on the west coast since 2019, and we’re looking forward to returning to the city of angels on March 21-22, 2023, and bringing together sports media professionals at the Founders Club, located inside the Galen Center at the University of Southern California.

For those of you who haven’t purchased your ticket(s) yet, BSM is having a special Holiday SALE this week. From today (Monday) through Friday 11:59pm ET, individual tickets are reduced to $224.99. If you’re planning to come, and want to make sure you’re in the room, take advantage of the extra savings and secure your seat. To buy tickets, reserve your hotel room, and learn more about the Summit’s speakers, click here.

We’ve previously announced twenty one (21) participants who will join us on stage at the 2023 BSM Summit. Today, we’re excited to expand our lineup by welcoming four (4) more additions to March’s industry spectacular.

First, BSM is thrilled to have two accomplished sports radio programmers contributing to the event. Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit will make his Summit debut in L.A.. Fresh off of a Marconi victory earlier this fall, The Ticket’s brand manager will share his insights on the present and future of sports radio on one of our programming panels. Also taking part in that panel will be the leader of 104.3 The Fan in Denver, Raj Sharan. Raj appeared on stage at the 2022 BSM Summit in NYC, and we look forward to having him return to lend his voice to an important sports radio programming discussion.

But programming won’t be the only thing we invest time in out west. Growing a business, more specifically, a digital business will be part of our conference agenda as well.

When it comes to maximizing digital revenue, few brands understand the space better than Barstool Sports. Charged with growing the brand’s revenue is Senior Vice President and Head of Sales Matt Berger, and we’re looking forward to having Matt join us for a conversation that will focus on monetizing digital opportunities. Before joining Barstool, Matt sold for Bleacher Report/House of Highlights. He’s also worked for Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Company. We’re excited to have him share his wisdom with the room.

Also taking part in our digital sales panel will be John Goforth of Magellan AI. John knows the radio business well from having served previously as a sales manager and salesperson. Since leaving traditional media and joining Magellan AI, John has studied the podcasting advertising space and learned who the top spenders are, who’s making big moves with their podcast advertising budgets, and which publishers are best positioned to benefit. Having his expertise on stage will help many in the room with trying to better understand the digital sales space.

There are other speaker announcements still to come. We have some big things planned, which I’m hoping to reveal in January and February. I want to thank ESPN Radio, FOX Sports, Showtime, and Point to Point Marketing for coming on board as partners of the 2023 BSM Summit. The support we’ve received heading into Los Angeles has been tremendous, and we greatly appreciate it. If you’re looking to be associated with the Summit as an event partner, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

That’s all for now, but be sure to take advantage of the Summit Holiday Sale. You have until Friday night December 23rd at 11:59pm ET to take advantage of discounted tickets. Happy Holidays!

Continue Reading
Advertisement

blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2023 Barrett Media.