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A Toast To Thirty Years of Sports Talk Radio

Jason Barrett

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Thirty years is a long time. During the span of three decades much can change. That’s never been more evident than when we analyze the current state of the sports talk radio format.

But before we peak under the hood of where sports radio has been and is heading, let’s have fun first by turning back the clock to 1987.

If you’re middle aged or a seasoned veteran then you should remember that thirty years ago Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers knocked off Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics to win the NBA title. Gas at that time cost just .96 cents per gallon, the nation’s top film was Dragnet, and the #1 song on the Billboard music charts was Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”.

It was a year when President Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin wall, Vanna White showed us more than just a few vowels in Playboy Magazine, and Eddie Murphy dominated the world of comedy. We played witness to Hulk Hogan slamming Andre The Giant, teenage boys obsessed over knocking out Mike Tyson on Nintendo, the Bangles walked like Egyptians, Gangsta Rap opened our eyes to the harsh realities of life in the inner cities, and wearing denim jackets and acid jeans were universally accepted.

But wait there’s more.

1987 also marked the year that The Simpsons, Married with Children and Full House debuted on television, MTV actually played music, the internet, cell phones and social media didn’t exist, and people relied on newspapers, television and radio for information and opinion.

What a difference three decades makes.

When you think about history, it’s common to place a greater value on what you experienced in your younger years and reject the present. The emotions we feel from our youth remind us of a simpler time, and as we struggle to keep up with the fast paced world we now live and operate in, it can become difficult to survive, let alone thrive.

But as much as things change, there’s one thing which has remained the same – WFAN has been and continues to be the top rated sports radio brand in the nation’s #1 media market, New York City.

It was on Saturday July 1, 1987 that America was introduced to full-time sports talk radio. There had been stations previously that aired programs dedicated to sports, but none that had given a 24/7 commitment to featuring sports talk.

WFAN was the brainchild of Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan. It was his willingness to take a giant risk that enabled the format to become part of our American culture. When WFAN launched on 1050AM in 1987, it didn’t get off to a hot start. In fact, the brand underperformed for quite some time. Ratings were stagnant, revenues were down, and patience was wearing thin.

“It was a huge failure the first year,” former WFAN General Manager Joel Hollander told Grantland in 2012. “Nine months in, everybody was ready to throw in the towel.”

It wasn’t until Emmis purchased a group of stations from NBC in 1988 that things started to change. It began with WFAN being moved to 660AM at 5:30pm on October 9th. The New York Mets were playing a playoff game that night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That forced local fans to switch the dial to hear the game.

The next morning, Don Imus would debut in morning drive on the station. Imus had been hosting mornings on NBC and as a result of the sale, Emmis inherited all of the NBC talent contracts.

That move alone allowed Emmis to add a huge personality to the radio station in a key daypart. Imus brought immediate credibility and familiarity, and gave the brand an entry point for conversations with advertisers and listeners. By solidifying mornings with a big name who had established himself as a top performer in the city, it gave the station an opportunity to focus on solidifying the rest of the lineup and create a powerful brand.

Next came the creation of the most dominant sports talk show in the format’s history, Mike and the Mad Dog.

Pete Franklin was hosting afternoons on WFAN, but a heart attack delayed his start, and his aggressive style and lack of connection to the big apple, made him a tough pill to swallow for local fans. Executives weren’t thrilled with him either. But if a big name like Franklin wasn’t the solution, who was?

Depending on who you ask, many claim to be responsible for two lesser known commodities, Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, being given serious consideration for afternoons. New York Post media critic Phil Mushnick kept their names alive in print, program director Mark Mason raised the possibility behind closed doors, and Imus himself gave a glowing endorsement to Smulyan.

“We liked Mike Francesa, I thought he was great, and I liked Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, I thought he was fabulous,” Imus told Grantland.”

“Imus said, you’ve got to listen to this guy Russo, he sounds like Donald Duck on steroids,” added Smulyan.

Soon thereafter management was ready to shake things up and the wheels were set in motion for Mike and the Mad Dog to take the reigns in afternoon drive.

As excited as many were internally to rid themselves of Franklin and feature two New York voices in afternoons, the friction Francesa and Russo provided off the air was a problem. The two men were very different from one another, and had different visions for their careers. While it made for a great on-air mixture, it also created tension behind the scenes. Trust was lacking, respect wasn’t shared, and an inability to co-exist at times made many wonder if the combination would last.

“It was like being a kid and just knowing that your mom and dad hated each other,” WFAN producer Ed Scozzare told Grantland.

Despite the internal chaos, the duo were onto something special. When the spring ratings came out in 1989, less than a year of being on the air together, Mike and the Mad Dog had soared to #1 with Men 25-54.

For those of us who currently work in sports media or have done so previously or hope to in the future, Mike and Chris’ place in history is well documented. I could go deeper into their story but I’m sure ESPN’s 30 for 30 on July 13th will supply a much deeper look than I can supply in this piece.

However, what I do want to draw attention to is the impact WFAN has had on our entire industry and what it means for the next few decades. One piece I highly recommend reading if you want to know more about the early days of The FAN is the article Grantland produced in 2012. I used a few quotes from it earlier in this column and it’s a very thorough piece which includes feedback from many of the key players who were involved in the early days of the radio station.

Ratings success aside, when you turn on a local CBS sports radio station today it’s common to hear many similarities in the way they operate to how The FAN presents their programming in New York. Whether it’s WIP, WQAM, 92.3 The Fan or Sports Radio 610 or the CBS Sports Radio Network, you’ll find many use jingle packages instead of individually voiced liners over music. Those liners often feature the same powerhouse voice, Paul Turner, and the music which leads shows back into segments often has a rock vibe. Additionally, the stations rely on live or produced liners to promote station games, events and benefits instead of featuring produced :30-:60 promos.

You’ll also discover that most CBS sports stations implement updates from local anchors two to three times per hour. The stations also feature a plethora of play by play partnerships, which has been critical for generating large local cume, ratings and revenue.

Perhaps the biggest similarity though is the heavy influx of callers each station takes in its local market. WFAN was built on giving local fans a voice, and that’s instantly detectable when you hear how frequently CBS radio hosts engage with local listeners. They’re also a lot looser with their content flow than other operators.

When you add up all of those elements, they’re a part of WFAN’s secret sauce. They’ve gone on to shared that successful recipe with many of the company’s brands in various local  markets, and while the formula has certainly produced great results, we’ve also learned over the past three decades that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

It was initially considered sacrilegious to operate a sports radio brand differently. But now many have blazed their own trails. Some brands prefer to steer clear of callers and interact through texts and tweets. Others have either decreased or permanently eliminated sports updates, emphasized stronger production values, and built programs around as many as five on-air personalities.

What I find fascinating is that everything we’ve learned and been introduced to over the past three decades, which has influenced the expansion of the format, isn’t guaranteed to make us successful over the next three decades. We’ve been fortunate to have amazing talent occupy our airwaves and build strong relationships with local audiences and advertisers for lengthy periods of time. However, many of those hall of fame personalities are now riding off into the sunset. That requires a new wave of hosts to emerge and tackle the challenge of sustaining and advancing the sports talk format into the future.

In pro sports, we’ve become accustomed to watching players fulfill a career and then sign off while a new crop of stars comes along to carry on the tradition. But in sports radio, we haven’t had to worry about those situations too often. A large number of successful sports stations have enjoyed the benefit of featuring the same lineup or personalities for the better part of two decades. As those hosts continue to exit, it leaves listeners, advertisers and colleagues wondering if the brand will remain as important and successful in the future.

Fortunately there have been many instances of shows continuing on without missing a beat. Kirk and Callahan in Boston, Bernstein and Goff in Chicago, and Boomer and Carton in New York are a few that immediately come to mind. You can probably add Mike Francesa going solo after Chris Russo and Tom Tolbert continuing on after Ralph “The Razor” Barbieri to that list as well.

But as we sit here celebrating three decades of excellence for WFAN and the rise of the sports talk radio format, we can’t lose sight of the fact that the next thirty years offers no guarantees.

What happens when the people our audiences have become accustomed to hearing aren’t there anymore? Will they accept new voices? Will those voices be given a long enough leash by their companies to enjoy success? Will we still feature 3-4 hour shows or shorter programs aimed at a public which has more options, increased distractions and less availability?

Then there are the connection questions. If people are using the phone less in life to talk to one another, how does that affect the way they interact with our programs? Does social media continue to rise and become the preferred method of communication? Does texting? Or does something else come along that isn’t presently available?

Next we have measurement and business issues to address. Does sports radio continue to tout its success by using its performance under the Men 25-54 umbrella? Or do we modify the format’s demo? Do ratings continue to matter to advertisers or does the existing model get put out to pasture? How do we combat the challenge of shrinking our commercial inventory yet remain profitable? Will the public pay for great content or continue to listen to whatever is free and easy to locate?

I also wonder about the growth of our population, and how that will impact the way we present our lineups. Given the way the world is changing, I think it’s a safer bet that we’ll see more individuals from different races and genders appear on our brands in the future. I also think we’ll see similar progress behind the scenes in station management.

Maybe the biggest question to answer though is how does the inside of a vehicle and the emergence of voice activated and on-demand technology change the way we reach audiences and satisfy advertisers? In years past we competed primarily against local radio stations, but as the dashboard evolves and devices like Alexa, Google Home and Apple Air Play catch on, how will that affect our recall, relevance and ratings? Will podcasting become a platform that generates significant revenue or is it a great benefit for consumers that shrinks the demand for our on-air product?

And that leads me to my final point.

How do those changes register long-term with professional sports teams? Sports radio depends heavily on local play by play for cume, ratings, and advertising solutions. If the dashboard though didn’t feature the AM/FM band and drivers began to install their favorite apps or use voice technology to listen to anything they wanted, couldn’t teams eliminate the middle-man (the radio station) and offer the broadcast themselves?

The downside to that move is that teams would immediately lose substantial rights fees. The other challenge is that radio provides a free broadcast. But, if there was enough of an appetite from the public to purchase a play by play audio package from the team through its app or website, that could change the conversation.

Some of these challenges aren’t on our radar right now, and may never become problems for us to solve over the next thirty years. But I think it’s fair to expect that a few will become a part of our reality. Some maybe even sooner rather than later.

Before we start worrying though and game planning for the next set of difficulties, let’s take a minute to celebrate where we’ve been and appreciate the progress that’s been made.

The sports radio format now features hundreds of stations across the nation, and gives thousands of people an opportunity to make a living doing something they truly love. We owe a debt of gratitude to WFAN, its executives and employees, and every single listener who spent time listening because they helped pave the way and validate the belief that full-time sports talk radio could be successful.

The future will require us to evolve. Some will embrace change, others will reject it and long for the past. But regardless of what transpires, we should all welcome those conversations. If a group of executives in New York didn’t roll the dice and stay the course on an idea that produced no immediate return on investment, we wouldn’t be in a position to face these issues and debate the best path forward for the format. And now that’s something I can raise a glass and drink to.

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media Announces 3 Additions, Social Media Changes

“Luckily, I’ve been able to assemble a stellar group of people, which allows us to earn your attention each day, and I’m happy to reveal that we’re adding to our roster yet again.”

Jason Barrett

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It’s taken years of hard work, adjustments, and a whole lot of trial and error to turn this brand into a trusted source for industry professionals. It’s been exciting and rewarding to tell stories, highlight the industry, and use my decades worth of knowledge and relationships to help the brands I work with make progress. But while I may prioritize the work I do for others, I’ve also got to balance it with making sure BSM and BNM run smoothly.

Each day, Barrett Media produces nearly fifty social posts, one to two newsletters, and twenty to thirty sports and news media stories and columns. I didn’t even mention podcasts, which is another space we recently entered. Making sure we’re delivering quality not quantity is vital, and so too is promoting it consistently and creatively.

Today, we have thirty people on our payroll. I never expected that to be the case, but as needs have increased and deeper bonds have been formed between the brand, our audience, and our clients, it’s allowed us to find new ways to invest in delivering insight, information, and opinion to our readers. Writing, editing, and creating content for a brand like ours isn’t for everyone. I just spent the past three months interviewing nearly forty people, and there’s a lot of quality talent out there. But talent for radio and journalism doesn’t always mean the fit is right for BSM and BNM. Luckily, I’ve been able to assemble a stellar group of people, which allows us to earn your attention each day, and I’m happy to reveal that we’re adding to our roster yet again.

First, please join me in welcoming Garrett Searight to BSM and BNM. Garrett has been hired as our FT Brand Editor, which means he will oversee BSM and BNM’s website’s content M-F during normal business hours. He will work closely with yours truly, our nighttime editors Arky Shea and Eduardo Razo, and our entire writing teams to create content opportunities for both of our brands. Garrett joins us after a decade long stint in Lima, OH where he most recently worked as program director and afternoon host at 93.1 The Fan. He also programmed classic country station 98.5 The Legend. His first day with us is August 1st, but he’ll be training this month to make sure he’s ready to hit the ground running.

Next, I am excited to welcome Alex Reynolds as our Social Media Coordinator. Alex’s creativity and curiosity stood out during our interview process, and we’re excited to have him helping with social content creation and scheduling for BSM and BNM. He’s a graduate of Elon University, a big fan of lacrosse, and he’ll be working with Dylan Barrett to improve our graphic creation, schedule our content, and further develop the social voice for both of our brands.

Speaking of our two brands, though we produce content on the website for both sports and news, how they get promoted on social is changing. When I started this company, the website was known as SportsRadioPD.com. That worked perfectly with my Twitter and Instagram handles, which were also @sportsradiopd. But since we switched our URL to BarrettSportsMedia.com and started ramping up content for both sports and news it’s become clear that we needed dedicated brand pages. It’s harder to expect people to share an individual’s content, and the mix of sports and news often feels off-brand to the two different audiences we serve. It feels even stranger if I’m buying social media ads to market content, a conference, and other things, so it’s time to change things up.

Starting today, you can now follow Barrett Sports Media on Twitter @BSMStaff. You can also follow Barrett News Media on Twitter @BNMStaff. Each brand also has its own Facebook page. Moving forward, we will promote sports media content on our sports accounts, and news media content on our news accounts. We started with that approach for BNM when the brand launched in September 2020, but expecting people to read another site and follow other social accounts was a tall order for a brand that was finding its footing. We made a choice to promote both sports and news under the same social accounts for the past year in order to further grow awareness for the content, and as we stand today, I think many would agree that BNM has made great strides. We’ve built a kick ass team to cover the news media industry, and I’m hoping many of you will take a moment to give BNM’s pages a follow to stay informed.

One thing you will notice is that the @BSMStaff account has replaced the @sportsradiopd account on Twitter. Let’s face it, most people who have followed me on Twitter have done so for BSM or BNM’s content, not for my NY Knicks and pro wrestling rants. I am keeping my @sportsradiopd handle but that is being developed as a brand new personal account. That said, if you enjoy sending DM’s my way, give the new @sportsradiopd account a follow so we can stay in touch. The only account we will use to promote content from both brands under is the Barrett Media account on LinkedIn. Instagram is not a focus right now nor is TikTok or Snapchat. I realize audiences exist everywhere but I’d rather be great at a few things than average at a lot of them.

Now that we’ve tackled the social media changes, let me share another exciting piece of news. I’m thrilled to welcome Jessie Karangu to our brand as a BSM weekly columnist. Jessie has great energy, curiosity, and a genuine love and passion for the media industry. He’s worked for Sinclair television, written for Awful Announcing, and has also hosted podcasts and video shows on YouTube. His knowledge and interest in television is especially strong, and I’m looking forward to featuring his opinions, and perspectives on our website. His debut piece for the site will be released this Wednesday.

With all of this happening, Demetri Ravanos is shifting his focus for the brand to a space he’s passionate about, audio. His new title is BSM’s Director of Audio Content. This means he will be charged with overseeing the editing, execution, and promotion of our various podcasts. He will also work closely with me in developing future Barrett Media shows. We have 3 in weekly rotation now, and will be adding Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves next week, and The Jason Barrett Podcast the week after that. The goal is to increase our audio library in the future provided the right ideas, talent, and interest are there.

Another goal of mine moving forward is to grow our advertising partnerships. Between our website, social media channels, podcasts, and newsletters, we have many ways to help brands connect to an affluent, influential, and loyal industry audience. We’ve enjoyed working with and helping brands over the years such as Point to Point Marketing, Jim Cutler NY, Steve Stone Voiceovers, Core Image Studio, Skyview Networks, Compass Media Networks, ESPN Radio and Harker Bos Group. That doesn’t include all of the great sponsors we’ve teamed up with for our annual BSM Summit (2023’s show will be announced by the end of the summer). I’m excited to add to the list by welcoming Backbone as a new website and newsletter partner. We’re also looking forward to teaming up in the near future with Quu and the Sports Gambling Podcast Network, and hope to work with a few others we’ve had recent dialogue with.

When it comes to marketing, I try to remind folks of our reach, the value we add daily across the industry, and the various ways we can help. I know it’s human nature to stick with what we know but if you work with a brand, I invite you to check into BSM/BNM further. Stephanie Eads is awesome to work with, cares about our partners, and our traffic, social impressions, and most importantly, the quality of our audience is proven. To learn more about what we can do, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Yes we continue to grow, and I’m happy about that, but just because we’re adding head count doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed to be better. It takes every person on a team holding up their end of the bargain, creating killer content, setting expectations, and paying attention to the follow through. We take pride in our work, value the support of our partners, and are extremely thankful for the continued readership of our material. That consistent support is what allows me to add to our team to better serve fans, partners, and industry professionals.

It may seem small, and unimportant but those retweets, comments, and mentions on the air about our content makes a difference. To all who take the time to keep our industry conversations alive, thank you. This is an awesome business with a lot of great brands, people, content, and growth opportunities, and the fact that we get to learn from you, share your stories, and help those reading learn in the process makes waking up to do it an honor.

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Barrett Sports Media To Launch Podcast Network

“We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July.”

Jason Barrett

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To run a successful digital content and consulting company in 2022 it’s vital to explore new ways to grow business. There are certain paths that produce a higher return on investment than others, but by being active in multiple spaces, a brand has a stronger chance of staying strong and overcoming challenges when the unexpected occurs. Case in point, the pandemic in 2020.

As much as I love programming and consulting stations to assist with growing their over the air and digital impact, I consider myself first a business owner and strategist. Some have even called me an entrepreneur, and that works too. Just don’t call me a consultant because that’s only half of what I do. I’ve spent a lot of my time building relationships, listening to content, and studying brands and markets to help folks grow their business. Included in my education has been studying website content selection, Google and social media analytics, newsletter data, the event business, and the needs of partners and how to best serve them. As the world of media continues to evolve, I consider it my responsibility to stay informed and ready to pivot whenever it’s deemed necessary. That’s how brands and individuals survive and thrive.

If you look at the world of media today compared to just a decade ago, a lot has changed. It’s no secret during that period that podcasting has enjoyed a surge. Whether you review Edison Research, Jacobs Media, Amplifi Media, Spotify or another group’s results, the story is always the same – digital audio is growing and it’s expected to continue doing so. And that isn’t just related to content. It applies to advertising too. Gordon Borrell, IAB and eMarketer all have done the research to show you where future dollars are expected to move. I still believe it’s smart, valuable and effective for advertisers to market their products on a radio station’s airwaves, but digital is a key piece of the brand buy these days, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Which brings me to today’s announcement.

If you were in New York City in March for our 2022 BSM Summit, you received a program at the show. Inside of one of the pages was a small ad (same image used atop this article) which said “Coming This Summer…The BSM Podcast Network…Stay Tuned For Details.” I had a few people ask ‘when is that happening, and what shows are you planning to create?’ and I kept the answers vague because I didn’t want to box ourselves in. I’ve spent a few months talking to people about joining us to help continue producing quality written content and improve our social media. Included in that process has been talking to members of our team and others on the outside about future opportunities creating podcasts for the Barrett Sports Media brand.

After examining the pluses and minuses, and listening and talking to a number of people, I’m excited to share that we are launching the BSM Podcast Network. We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July. Demetri Ravanos will provide oversight of content execution, and assist with production and guest booking needs for selected pods. This is why we’ve been frequently promoting Editor and Social Media jobs with the brand. It’s hard to pursue new opportunities if you don’t have the right support.

The titles that will make up our initial offerings are each different in terms of content, host and presentation. First, we have Media Noise with Demetri Ravanos, which has produced over 75 episodes over the past year and a half. That show will continue in its current form, being released each Friday. Next will be the arrival of The Sports Talkers Podcast with Stephen Strom which will debut on Thursday June 23rd, the day of the NBA Draft. After that, The Producer’s Podcast with Brady Farkas will premiere on Wednesday June 29th. Then as we move into July, two more titles will be added, starting with a new sales focused podcast Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves. The final title to be added to the rotation will be The Jason Barrett Podcast which yours truly will host. The goal is to have five weekly programs distributed through our website and across all podcasting platforms by mid to late July.

I am excited about the creation of each of these podcasts but this won’t be the last of what we do. We’re already working on additional titles for late summer or early fall to ramp up our production to ten weekly shows. Once a few ideas and discussions get flushed out, I’ll have more news to share with you. I may consider adding even more to the mix too at some point. If you have an idea that you think would resonate with media professionals and aspiring broadcasters, email me by clicking here.

One thing I want to point out, this network will focuses exclusively on various areas of the sports media industry. We’ll leave mainstream sports conversations to the rest of the media universe. That’s not a space I’m interested in pursuing. We’ve focused on a niche since arriving on the scene in 2015 and have no plans to waver from it now.

Additionally, you may have noticed that we now refer to our company as ‘Barrett Media’. That’s because we are now involved in both sports and news media. That said, we are branding this as the BSM Podcast Network because the titles and content are sports media related. Maybe there will be a day when we introduce a BNM version of this, but right now, we’ve got to make sure the first one works right before exploring new territory.

Our commitment to delivering original industry news, features and opinions in print form remains unchanged. This is simply an opportunity to grow in an area where we’ve been less active. I know education for industry folks and those interested in entering the business is important. It’s why young people all across the country absorb mountains of debt to receive a college education. As valuable as those campus experiences might be, it’s a different world once you enter the broadcasting business.

What I’d like to remind folks is that we continue to make investments in the way we cover, consult, and discuss the media industry because others invest in us. It’d be easy to stockpile funds and enjoy a few more vacations but I’m not worried about personal wealth. I’m focused on building a brand that does meaningful work by benefitting those who earn a living in the media industry or are interested in one day doing so. As part of that process I’m trying to connect our audience to partners who provide products, services or programs that can benefit them.

Since starting this brand, we’ve written more than 18,000 articles. We now cover two formats and produce more than twenty five pieces of content per day. The opportunity to play a small role in keeping media members and future broadcasters informed is rewarding but we could not pay people to edit, write, and host podcasts here if others didn’t support us. For that I’m extremely grateful to those who do business with us either as a consulting client, website advertiser, Summit partner or through a monthly or annual membership. The only way to get better is to learn from others, and if our access to information, knowledge, relationships and professional opinions helps others and their brands, then that makes what we do worthwhile.

Thanks as always for the continued support. We appreciate that you read our content each day, and hope to be able to earn some of your listenership in the future too.

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Barrett Blogs

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Pursuing Media Jobs

“Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.”

Jason Barrett

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I recently appeared on a podcast, Monetize Media, to discuss the growth of Barrett Media. The conversation covered a lot of ground on business topics including finding your niche, knowing your audience and serving them the right content in the right locations, the evolution of the BSM Summit, and why consulting is a big part of our mix but can’t be the only thing we do.

Having spent nearly seven years growing this brand, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just know what’s worked for us, and it starts with vision, hard work, consistency, and a willingness to adapt quickly. There are many areas we can be better in whether it’s social media, editing, SEO, sales, finding news, producing creative original content or adding more staff. Though there’s always work to be done and challenges to overcome, when you’re doing something you love and you’re motivated to wake up each day doing it, that to me is success.

But lately there’s one part of the job that I haven’t enjoyed – the hiring process. Fortunately in going through it, I was able to get to know Arky Shea. He’s a good guy, talented writer, and fan of the industry, and I’m thrilled to share that he’s joining us as BSM’s new night time editor. I’ll have a few other announcements to make later this month, but in the meantime, if you’re qualified to be an editor or social media manager, I’m still going through the process to add those two positions to our brand. You can learn more about both jobs by clicking here.

Working for an independent digital brand like ours is different from working for a corporation. You communicate directly with yours truly, and you work remotely on a personal computer, relying on your eyes, ears and the radio, television, and internet to find content. Because our work appears online, you have to enjoy writing, and understand and have a passion for the media industry, the brands who produce daily content, and the people who bring those brands to life. We receive a lot of interest from folks who see the words ‘sports’ and ‘news’ in our brand names and assume they’re going to cover games or political beats. They quickly discover that that’s not what we do nor are we interested in doing it.

If you follow us on social media, have visited our website or receive our newsletters, you’ve likely seen us promoting openings with the brand. I’ve even bought ads on Indeed, and been lucky enough to have a few industry folks share the posts on social. We’re in a good place and trying to make our product better, so to do that, we need more help. But over the past two months, Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.

Receiving applications from folks who don’t have a firm grasp of what we do is fine. That happens everywhere. Most of the time we weed those out. It’s no different than when a PD gets an application for a top 5 market hosting gig from a retail employee who’s never spoken on a microphone. The likelihood of that person being the right fit for a role without any experience of how to do the job is very slim. What’s been puzzling though is seeing how many folks reach out to express interest in opportunities, only to discover they’re not prepared, not informed or not even interested in the role they’ve applied for.

For instance, one applicant told me on a call ‘I’m not interested in your job but I knew getting you on the phone would be hard, and I figured this would help me introduce myself because I know I’m a great host, and I’d like you to put me on the radar with programmers for future jobs.’ I had another send a cover letter that was addressed to a different company and person, and a few more applied for FT work only to share that they can’t work FT, weren’t interested in the work that was described in the position, didn’t know anything about our brand but needed a gig, were looking for a confidence boost after losing a job or they didn’t have a computer and place to operate.

At first I thought this might be an exclusive issue only we were dealing with. After all, our brand and the work we do is different from what happens inside of a radio or TV station. In some cases, folks may have meant well and intended something differently than what came out. But after talking to a few programmers about some of these things during the past few weeks, I’ve been stunned to hear how many similar horror stories exist. One top programmer told me hiring now is much harder than it was just five years ago.

I was told stories of folks applying for a producer role at a station and declining an offer unless the PD added air time to the position. One person told a hiring manager they couldn’t afford not to hire them because their ratings were tanking. One PD was threatened for not hiring an interested candidate, and another received a resume intended for the competing radio station and boss. I even saw one social example last week of a guy telling a PD to call him because his brand was thin on supporting talent.

Those examples I just shared are bad ideas if you’re looking to work for someone who manages a respected brand. I realize everyone is different, and what clicks with one hiring manager may not with another, but if you have the skills to do a job, I think you’ll put yourself in a better position by avoiding these 5 mistakes below. If you’re looking for other ways to enhance your chances of landing an opportunity, I recommend you click here.

Educate Yourself Before Applying – take some time to read the job description, and make sure it aligns with your skillset and what you’re looking to do professionally before you apply. Review the company’s body of work and the people who work there. Do you think this is a place you’d enjoy being at? Does it look like a job that you’d gain personal and professional fulfillment from? Are you capable of satisfying the job requirements? Could it potentially put you on the path to greater opportunities? If most of those produce a yes, it’s likely a situation to consider.

Proofread Your Email or Cover Letter and Resume – If the first impression you give a hiring manager is that you can’t spell properly, and you address them and their brand by the wrong names, you’re telling them to expect more mistakes if they hire you. Being detail oriented is important in the media business. If this is your introduction to someone and they have a job you’re interested in, you owe it to yourself to go through your materials thoroughly before you press send. If you can have someone else put an extra set of eyes on your introduction to protect you from committing a major blunder even better.

Don’t Waste People’s Time – You’d be annoyed if a company put you through a 3-4 week process only to tell you they didn’t see you as a viable candidate right? Well, it works the other way too. If you’re not seriously interested in the job or you’re going into the process hoping to change the job description later, don’t apply. If the fit isn’t right or the financials don’t work, that’s OK. Express that. People appreciate transparency. Sometimes they may even call you back in the future when other openings become available. But if you think someone is going to help you after you wasted their time or lied to them, trust me, they won’t.

Don’t Talk Like An Expert About Things You Don’t Know – Do you know why a station’s ratings or revenue is down? Are you aware of the company’s goals and if folks on the inside are satisfied or upset? Is the hiring manager someone you know well enough to have a candid professional conversation with? If the answers are no, you’re not helping your case by talking about things you don’t have full knowledge of. You have no idea how the manager you’re talking to has been dealing with the challenges he or she is faced with so don’t pretend you do. Just because someone wrote an article about it and you read it doesn’t mean you’re informed.

Use Social Wisely – Being frustrated that you didn’t get a job is fine. Everyone goes through it. Asking your friends and followers for advice on social of how you could’ve made a better case for yourself is good. That shows you’re trying to learn from the process to be better at it next time. But taking to social to write a book report blasting the hiring manager, their brand, and/or their company over a move that didn’t benefit you just tells them they made the right move by not bringing you in. Chances are, they won’t be calling you in the future either.

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