Connect with us

Barrett Blogs

The Fine Line Between Treasure and Trash

Jason Barrett




Inspiration can be hard to find at times. Especially if you’re an on-air talent and working with less than spectacular material during a slower period of the sports calendar. But regardless of your empty basket of content options, an audience still expects you to hit the airwaves and put on an entertaining show to allow them a distraction from life’s challenges.

But what do you do when the ideas don’t flow and the sports world offers trash instead of treasure?

The first place to start is inside your soul. It’s understandable that you’re going to have less joy for certain topics than others, but being honest, transparent, and intimate with your audience goes a long way in earning trust, respect and appreciation. People can detect when someone isn’t invested in the content and it’s your job to make sure they never feel that way about you.

On a daily basis, you’re going to sift thru stories from tons of websites, searching for a headline, paragraph, audio bite or video clip that is worth stopping in your tracks for. Sometimes you’ll find them. Other times you won’t. How you proceed when you locate gold is pretty obvious, but it’s when you uncover the equivalent of a dirty wet napkin that you discover what you’re truly made of.

Each talent is different in the way they think, operate and prepare. Some turn coal into diamonds. Others panic at the first sign of danger. But whether you’re confident and gifted or rattled and creatively challenged, an Oscar worthy performance is expected and excuses are best left at home.

What takes place before you speak into a microphone is irrelevant to the audience. To put it mildly, they don’t care about your problems or how much time you dedicated to create the content, only what comes thru the speakers. If it takes four hours of your time instead of two to satisfy their expectations, so be it. When the red light goes on, they expect you to seize the moment, or they tune you out. It’s that simple.

In thinking about the days when nothing stands out and the fear of filling two to four hours of air time with sub par material consumes you, I want you to step back and examine why you’re in that particular position.

The first issue often involves confidence and insecurity. To grab an audience’s attention, and operate to the best of your abilities, you’ve got to believe in what you’re selling. You are the salesperson of your content. If you can’t convince yourself that a topic is worth buying, then don’t expect it from your listeners.

Secondly, many hosts blame the subject matter rather than their own creativity and preparation. The beauty of the world of sports is that each day provides new content. There are days and weeks when bigger stories develop and our natural passion and interest increases, but there are no off-days in sports, let alone the sports media industry. It’s what you do with the material in front of you that determines if your programming is viewed as superior or a poor use of air time.

Rather than complaining about the lulls in the calendar, consider how you’re preparing during those tougher days. If you normally invest one to two hours of prep time into your show, slower periods day may require three or four hours. Is it a pain in the ass? Yes. But if you’re an exceptional talent with an ability to create compelling content, you’ve got to be willing to invest the time in your craft to deliver your best stuff.

Ask yourself this, if the phone lines were shut off and the audience participation on Twitter and the text line disappeared, would you still have an entertaining show? If the answer is no, reconsider your approach.

Nothing is more important than your pre-show creative process. This is your opportunity to discuss, debate, and test possible content ideas, and the final conclusion you arrive at determines if material makes it to the air or gets tossed aside. Whatever you do, don’t let that time get wasted with small talk, coffee breaks, and personal phone calls. As the old saying goes, Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance!

When big stories don’t land in our lap, we have a tendency to assess blame. That may allow you to get a few things off your chest but it doesn’t solve anything. A great storyteller and entertainer understands that to win over a crowd, you sometimes need to take small items and make them feel bigger. They leave no stone unturned when searching for content, and equally as vital, they recognize the difference between making news and creating interest versus reacting to news and relying on interest.

What serves as a great indicator of a show forming a powerful connection with an audience is when people tune in for the host rather than the subject matter. That’s the goal you should be striving for. It’s similar to purchasing tickets to see a top notch comedian. We trust in their ability to make us laugh and deliver stories and punchlines in a unique and memorable way, that we disregard the subject matter.

If you’ve ever listened to Howard Stern, he’s a master at creating internal show drama and content. He uses it like bait to lure in the fish. What makes Stern’s show fascinating is that it doesn’t rely on what’s topical. It creates its own material, which then becomes content for others to talk about.

Leading up to a big interview, few are better at building suspense and anticipation than Stern. He also captivates the audience by involving his cast and exposing their various dilemmas in real life situations, which in turn makes it easier for listeners to think, play along and connect to the personalities. That makes the program easy to digest.

One show that is doing this particularly well right now is Kirk and Callahan on WEEI in Boston. Each day is unpredictable, interesting, funny, upsetting or emotional, and whether listeners love or hate Kirk, Gerry and their rotating co-hosts, they have either strong opinions or an emotional connection to the program. Because Kirk and Callahan are authentic, creating their own content, and not reliant on the day’s top sports stories, they’ve been able to generate a ton of interest, and keep listeners tuning in to see what’ll happen next. The personalities have become the point of entry for the audience. The material comes second.

If you scan the country, you’ll find a large number of shows promoting themselves each day by touting their guest lists and giveaways, but rarely is anything mentioned about the host. It may not feel as big or unique, but the on-air talent’s observations, jokes, personal stories, and unfiltered commentaries strike a chord with people much more than a daily guest list.

Don’t get me wrong, A-list guests are worth promoting, especially if an on-air talent can pull exceptional answers out of them, but it doesn’t mean the other areas of the show aren’t also a destination or capable of becoming the larger focus of a day’s presentation. I also don’t want you to think that by becoming the focal point of a program it means that you can deliver less valuable content to people. Just like going to a concert, the crowd will sit thru a new tune or B-side song that you have a passion for, but if you feed them too many unfamiliar songs, they’ll quickly head for the exits.

If a host is capable of relaying a personal connection to a piece of topical content or offering an interesting way of understanding and viewing a specific subject, that has a better shot at staying in a listener’s head. The on-air talent are seen as the listener’s “friend on the radio” who keeps them company each day, and they go thru your ups, downs and in-betweens with you. It’s what makes radio a powerful platform.

A host doesn’t have the benefit of knowing who’s paying attention or how their comments are being consumed. The best ones though attack the air with a purpose, and welcome the challenge of stealing the audience’s attention when they appear less interested.

Anyone can hit the air the day after Jay Cutler signs with the Dolphins and question if it’s a good or bad move. Stating that Colin Kaepernick deserves to be on a roster when players with lesser skill occupy NFL roster spots requires little thought. Taking issue with LaVar Ball after he boasts about getting a referee removed from a summer game is easy. Each of those examples are things that your audience can create themselves, but as a sports media personality you’re expected to get more mileage out of the content than those who listen to you.

Over the span of a three or four hour show, some basic points are likely to be raised. That’s fine, but relying on audience reaction and simplistic headlines won’t be enough to keep people tuning in for an extended period of time.

What it boils down to are three simple things; being curious, investing prep time, and taking chances.

Are you stating the obvious or peeling back the layers of the onion to find what’s in the middle? Can you take a basic topic, relate it to a bigger local issue, and make it sound more important? Or are you regurgitating facts and information and distancing yourself from the emotional opportunities inside of a story?

To keep a topic hot for hours, and maintain mental interest and energy in a story requires developing four to five angles and having the patience and understanding to avoid unloading all at once. If you can exhaust ten to fifteen minutes of content potential from each angle, and include an interesting twist during the conversation, the audience will eat out of your hand and be back for seconds.

Reading, watching and listening to different things is a wise practice because it keeps you mentally engaged. It’s especially helpful to research how a local team, player, or story is being covered in another city, because it’s fresh and removed from everything we’re accustomed to hearing or seeing on a regular basis.

In our business it’s common to develop habits and rely on the same three or four local websites to create a rundown, but finding gems often requires searching in foreign places. When you fail to do it, especially during slower periods, you can find yourself gassed on a particular subject, and praying for a flood of phone calls or guests to bail you out.

No one said creating content and connecting with an audience was easy. It’s extremely hard. It’s why some hosts have reservations for the broadcasting hall of fame and others have futures waiting on tables or selling insurance. It doesn’t require a ton of skill to engage an audience when hot button topics are available, but you find out who’s truly worth their salt when the sports world feeds you a handful of crackers and you’re clamoring for steak.

Barrett Blogs

Rachel Nichols and Baron Davis Headline Final Speaker Announcements For the 2023 BSM Summit

“I’m sure Baron and Rachel will have all eyes and ears focused on them when they take the stage together next Tuesday at 2:45pm PT.”

Jason Barrett




The 2023 BSM Summit schedule is set. After months of planning and talking to everyone across the industry, I’m ecstatic to roll out next week’s agenda including making one final announcement involving seven great additions to our conference.

For starters, it is a pleasure to welcome Showtime’s Rachel Nichols to the BSM Summit. I’ve admired her work on television for years, and am thrilled to have her guiding a session which I think many in the room are going to really enjoy.

Rachel’s guest will be former NBA star Baron Davis. Baron runs his own company, Baron Davis Enterprises, and he has been active in investing in media brands, and exploring ways to evolve the industry. Among his areas of passion, athletes taking more control of their brands, and the media industry needing to improve its track record with diversity. I’m sure Baron and Rachel will have all eyes and ears focused on them when they take the stage together next Tuesday at 2:45pm PT.

Also joining the Summit are a few longtime industry friends. For starters, VSiN’s program director Jon Goulet is someone who I’ve known and worked with, and he understands the sports betting audio space extremely well. Jon and BetQL VP of Programming Mitch Rosen will spend time with another industry friend, Bryan Curtis of The Ringer. Collectively they’ll examine the state of sports betting audio on Tuesday March 21st from 3:35p-4:10p, and what they look for when it comes to sports betting talent, and how they determine what is and isn’t success in the sports gambling content world.

With Mitch taking part in the sports betting panel, Jeff Rickard of WFNZ in Charlotte steps into The Programmer’s Panel alongside Jimmy Powers, John Mamola and Raj Sharan. The session is scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd from 9:10a-9:45a PT. Ironically, all four of these programmers work for different companies, so it’ll be interesting to hear how they differ and where they align while navigating through a few sports radio programming topics.

Next, I’m excited to introduce a social media session with Karlo Sy Su of ESPN Los Angeles and Matthew Demeke of AM 570 LA Sports. If you look at the performance of their brands on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook, they’ve each delivered strong audiences and engagement. I’m looking forward to hosting this one and learning about their processes, how they decide which platforms to focus on most, what they consider a social media win when analyzing social statistics, and how they develop their content process. Given our location, we’re calling the session ‘Social Media Goes Hollywood‘. It’s scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd from 3:35-4:10 PT.

I realize you’re not going to remember all of these session speakers and times off the top of your head, so to make it easier, log on to and scroll down past our speakers. That’s where you’ll find our detailed list of sessions/times and activities planned each day. We have eighteen sessions, two awards ceremonies, and two parties. Our kickoff party is presented by the WWE and takes place Monday March 20th from 7p-9p at the 1880 Founders Room. The ESPN Radio After Party takes place Tuesday March 21st from 6p-8p at the Lab Gastropub. Both party locations are in walking distance of the USC Hotel and our conference venue.

As an added bonus, thanks to the generosity of our friends at WWE, we will be giving away a pair of tickets to the first night of WrestleMania, and a WWE title at our kickoff party. WrestleMania takes place this year in Los Angeles at Sofi Stadium on March 25-26. You must be present at the kickoff party to win either prize.

We’ll have more to share next week including providing an ongoing blog with session news and notes for our readers. We’ll also have a ton of content available on our social media channels so if you’re not following @BSMStaff on Twitter, @BarrettSportsMedia on Facebook or @BarrettMedia on LinkedIn, what are you waiting for?

The focus now shifts to finishing our creative for next week’s show, sending information to our speakers for their sessions, and finalizing our attendees list. For those who are attending, we’ll be sending out an email on Friday or Saturday with a complete list of names of who’s coming so you can plan meetings in advance.

If you forgot to buy your ticket after seeing months of promotion about the event and meant to do so, you can still do that, but it costs more. Students on the other hand can take advantage of a low rate established for college kids at

Putting this event together isn’t easy, but I’m extremely pleased with how it’s come together. We have a lot of smart, talented, and accomplished people making time to be part of this, and I appreciate each and every one of them for doing so. Now, it’s all about the execution. Hope to see you next week in LA.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

Sports Broadcasting Icon Al Michaels To Be Honored at the 2023 BSM Summit

“This is a man who has spent more than five decades on your television screen calling the biggest games, and producing some of the most iconic moments sports has to offer.”

Jason Barrett




If you work in the sports media industry you’ve likely heard someone along the way utter the phrase “don’t bury the lead“. I’m usually good about following that advice but I didn’t do that at our 2022 BSM Summit.

We introduced the greatest tandem in sports radio history, Mike Francesa and Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo and it was a special half hour. Mike and the Mad Dog were reunited after seven years apart and every individual at the event knew they were witnessing something magical on stage. I created a Mike and the Mad Dog Award for the event, which went to Felger and Mazz, who were the absolute right choice to win it. Even Chris remarked ‘that’s the right call‘.

But I learned quickly that although the intention was right in honoring the industry’s current top performing show, when you have legends in the room and they’re in their element, the last thing you want to do is overcrowd them. The connection Mike and Chris had on the air became the gold standard by which we measure successful sports talk shows, and they didn’t need an award created to deliver a special moment, just two mics and 20-30 minutes of stage time.

As I began thinking about the 2023 BSM Summit, I knew there was an opportunity to build on what we started last year with Mike and Chris, and after talking to a few people who I trust and respect, the decision of who we would recognize became crystal clear. I believe it’s important to honor the greats in our business because those who leave a permanent mark on our industry deserve it. The man we’ve selected has spent more than five decades on your television screen calling the biggest games, and producing some of the most iconic moments sports has to offer. He’s worked with the best of the best inside the booth, has helped elevate the presentation and execution of in-game content for ABC, NBC and Amazon, and his call of the Miracle on Ice, the US Olympic hockey team’s 1980 gold medal win over Russia remains one of the best calls in the history of sports.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored and privileged to share that Al Michaels will join us on Wednesday March 22nd at the 2023 BSM Summit for our awards presentation, where we will present him with BSM’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michaels is one of America’s most respected sports broadcasting voices, known for his exceptional work on Monday Night Football (1986-2005), Sunday Night Football (2006-2022) and Thursday Night Football (2022-Present). He’s called the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, Hagler-Hearns, the Olympics, the Indy 500, Horse Racing’s Triple Crown races, College Football and Basketball games, Golf, and more. He’s even held roles as the voice of the University of Hawaii, the Cincinnati Reds, and the San Francisco Giants, and was in the booth in 1989 when an earthquake rocked the Bay Area during Game 3 of the A’s-Giants world series.

The Brooklyn native turned Los Angeles resident has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and owns a ton of hardware including five sports Emmy’s, three NSMA Sportscaster of the Year honors, the 2013 Pete Rozelle Radio & Television Award distributed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award given out by the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Though his trophy case may be full, we’re excited to add another to his collection to show our appreciation and respect for the impact he’s made on the sports media business.

A quick reminder, the BSM Summit takes place on Tuesday March 21st and Wednesday March 22nd at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California. Tickets are on-sale at

Be advised, we have started adding sessions and times on the website. As always, the schedule is subject to change. Our final agenda will be posted by the end of next week. In addition, attendees will receive an email by next Friday with details of who will be in attendance. We hope to see you there.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

Rob Parker, Brian Long, Sean Thompson and Matt Fishman Join The BSM Summit Speaker Lineup

“I’m excited to welcome a few folks who have enjoyed success in different parts of the country, and in different areas of the business.”

Jason Barrett




As we gear up for our 5th annual BSM Summit on March 21-22, 2023, I’m starting to get a better feel for how the final puzzle may look. When this process starts I have no idea how it’s going to turn out because so much depends on who says yes and no. Many who’ve attended over the years have complimented our lineups, and I appreciate it because I put a lot of time and effort into featuring a strong mix of professionals from different areas of the industry. Though I’m proud of the work we do and the schedule we deliver, there are so many things pursued leading up to the event that I can’t help but wonder ‘what if this or that had worked out?’

One thing that some folks don’t understand if they haven’t been to the show before is that this is not a talent conference. It’s a sports media business conference. That means we feature radio, TV and digital executives, programmers, researchers, sales professionals, and yes, talent. I believe on-air performers are vital to the industry’s success and I want the best of the best sharing their wisdom with everyone in the room, but we’re also not going to do two full days of on-air conversations. Being successful in sports media requires understanding the on-air side and the business side, and we do our best to offer a blend of both.

For today’s announcement, I’m excited to welcome a few sports media pros who have enjoyed success in different parts of the country, and in different areas of the business.

First, Rob Parker is someone who has made a name for himself as a radio host, writer, TV commentator, and teacher. He’s currently heard weeknights on FOX Sports Radio, teaches students at USC Annenberg, writes for Deadspin, and is helping MLBBro gain awareness and a bigger mainstream media presence covering Major League Baseball. He’s experienced, smart, and never short on opinion. I’m looking forward to having him join Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score/BetQL, and Scott Shapiro of FOX Sports Radio for a session titled “Aircheck On Campus“. They’ll take the stage together on Wednesday March 22nd from 2:10-2:45.

My next three speakers, all come from the sports radio programming department.

Matt Fishman is the Director of Content for ESPN 850 Cleveland. Fishman has been with the brand since January 2020 following stints at SiriusXM, 610 Sports in Kansas City, and 670 The Score in Chicago. He even wrote for BSM for a few years.

Sean Thompson is responsible for programming decisions at Arizona Sports and ESPN 620 AM. He joined the well respected Phoenix brand after more than a decade in Atlanta at 92.9 The Game. Sean has also worked in affiliate relations for Westwood One, and on the air and as a programmer in music radio for Good Karma Brands in Madison, WI.

Brian Long is the program director of both San Diego Sports 760 and KOGO 600 in San Diego. In addition to guiding two of the top talk brands in his market, he has also managed Seattle Sports 710, and served as the Assistant Program Director for ESPN LA 710.

Matt, Sean, and Brian will be part of one of our final sessions on day two of the Summit. The Last Call which yours truly is hosting, will explore unique revenue opportunities created by local brands, and examine a few new ideas and missed opportunities that brands and managers may want to take advantage of in the future.

As of today, the Summit has more than forty accomplished professionals taking the stage at the Founders Club at USC’s Galen Center on March 21-22, 2023. I’ve got a few others still to announce as well, including a few cool giveaways planned for the WWE’s Kickoff party.

If you haven’t bought a ticket and wish to be in the room, visit The last day for ticket sales will be Monday March 13th. I’m hoping to release our final schedule of sessions on Tuesday March 14th. Hopefully I’ll see you in the city of angels.

Continue Reading


Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2023 Barrett Media.