We’re live in Chicago for the inaugural Barrett Sports Media programming summit hosted by Jason Barrett. This blog will be updated throughout the day so be sure to check back regularly for new information.
INTRODUCTION: Jason Barrett opens the Barrett Sports Media programming summit welcoming over 30 PD’s from markets throughout the country. During the two-day event everyone involved has the opportunity to share insights, strengthen relationships and inherit wisdom from many of our industry’s top sports radio minds.
SESSION 1 – Experience, Sound & Reinvention:
- Mitch Rosen – 670 The Score
- Justin Craig – ESPN Radio
- Mike Thomas – 98.5 The Sports Hub
Mitch Rosen – The Score brand is bigger than our personalities. The radio station is 26 years old, and to stay relevant and fresh, you can’t be afraid to make change. We could have kept things the same and done well, but we have to ask how can we reinvent ourselves? Change was needed in acquiring new talent, but we still wanted to keep our heritage.
Staying topical is key. How many people heard of Loyola Chicago before the tournament? Being creative and having a great imaging director is one of the most important aspects for a sports station. Our best primetime show is the Chicago Cubs. They’re our marketing campaign and in all of our imaging, not just on The Score, but our entire cluster.
The best way to perform market research is talking with listeners. They are our customers and they give honest feedback and I make the time to respond to all of them.
We need to own our local content because local content wins, and people want to talk about their teams. This format is here to stay, because it’s live, local and all about strong opinions.
Justin Craig – Pushing the ESPN brand is more important than an individual station. It doesn’t matter how a show is consumed, whether it’s on the radio, television or streamed.
As soon as a host’s show ends is when their job really begins. That’s when the talent needs to stay connected, promote a show and build the brand. Having a younger producer who knows how to properly use social media can be important to help the host continue to stay connected after the show.
The hardest thing to do on a national level is relating to the listeners. Are we putting out a product that fans want? The local station is part of their audience, they interact with them.
We aim to hit mass consumption with our shows. It’s not just about one particular location. It’s about radio, TV, the app, social media, anywhere fans are and interested in sports content, we want to be who they turn to for content.
Mike Thomas – The importance of imaging and making sure a station sounds fresh. Each of us have had those moments where we heard a talent or imaging from a station that made us say, this is what we want to do.
The Sports Hub is a “sports station that rocks.” We’re a former rock station and that can be heard in our imaging. Boston was ready for a younger sports station and a lot of other markets are as well.
Even though we don’t carry the Red Sox, its important to still have Red Sox imaging. We have a baseball reporters show to compete with WEEI’s Red Sox pregame and we promote that as well as when a reporter will be joining one our other shows.
Jason Barrett – Responded to a question about running a station that does not have broadcast rights to a popular local team. At 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, they had rights to the Athletics’ games, but not the Giants. It was still important to give the listener what they want, although the A’s wanted the station to talk less Giants during the day, its necessary to put the listener first even if that means focusing on your rival station’s team.
SESSION 2 – The Tangled Web of Social Media:
- Danny Parkins – 670 The Score
- Barry Meister – Meister Sports Mgmt.
- Scott Shapiro – Fox Sports Radio
Danny Parkins – It seems obvious to be active on social media to interact with the listeners. I’ve told people I will be at a game and offer a meeting point to buy people beer. I have 40,000 followers, I might only get a dozen people to show up, but 40,000 fans will see that I’m willing to do that.
You’re not being human if you’re not talking about what your audience is talking about including political topics. Eventually fans will tune in to listen to a talent because they want to hear that person regardless of what they’re talking about. There are ways to be profitable while being polarizing.
You don’t have to sell your soul to go viral or make a name for yourself, you just have to be creative. If you’re going to be controversial, you have to be genuine and able to sleep at night.
From a compensation standpoint there are cost benefits to using social media. It may not be easy to dissect but by being active on social media it caught the attention of Mitch Rosen and resulted in me now working for my hometown station in market #3 in afternoon drive.
Barry Meister – You can tweet something that 50% of the population finds funny and 50% finds offensive. It never makes sense to alienate half of your audience. A tweet that offends a large group of people is different than an opinion that people disagree with.
My job is to protect my client at all costs but I tell them “you want to be right, but you want to be employed.”
Whatever the platform is, you have to know who you’re talking to. You also have to know who the individual is and educate them on the benefits and dangers of operating in the space. Among my clients, Chris Sale has no use for Twitter. It’s not who he is. On the other hand, Sergio Romo is very active in the space and has generated a lot of additional revenue on it.
Scott Shapiro – Social media is an extraordinary brand connection. There are so many people doing what we do, it’s a very competitive business, we want fans to be watching a game and thinking of our talent to see what they’re doing next. Social media is free advertising.
For anyone in radio, to not use social media to promote your brand or station is a mistake. That said, talent need to represent the values of the company when using Twitter. The “f-word” is something that makes many people uncomfortable, if you use that on social media, you better not have our brand represented anywhere on the page.
Handling a talent crossing the line with an opinion depends on the employer and how much the company is willing to allow.
We use Facebook Live, it’s important, we try to make it look good and sound good, but any extension of our brand to a different platform is used as a way to try and convert that listener back to terrestrial radio.
SESSION 3 – Gaining Dollars and Attention From Sports Radio Advertisers:
- Dean Lamb – CDW
- Laurel Cline – Wintrust Financial
Dean Lamb – From an advertising standpoint we look at ratings as one element, but there is so much other data we focus on as well.
How do we create a degree of relevance between what we’re doing and what you’re doing. Talking to a program director to see what their audience listens to can help to create an ad. I would prefer if someone told us to go back on the drawing board, rather than put something on-air that you don’t think works.
When working with talent, we look for an element of brand safety, but we also want someone interesting and relevant.
One difficulty with advertising during play-by-play is the spot can be played on terrestrial radio, but not heard on any streaming platform due to league rules, but streaming and smart speakers are obviously becoming more popular.
Sports radio stations who appeal to an older demo should absolutely push that story. It’s not just about Men 25-54. For example, when we do business with the PGA Tour we definitely look to reach the higher end of the demo.
Laurel Cline – There are so many things we look at, ratings are an aspect of it, but most importantly we want it to be something that fits our brand. Sometimes there is too much data and it’s difficult to decipher what’s helpful and what isn’t.
We look for someone who is local, involved with the community and actually supports our product or brand. We try to stay away from anything too political or controversial, sometimes an ad might run during a show and we’ll get feedback from people upset.
Finding a way to integrate advertisers into podcasts will become more invaluable. One challenge with podcasts is it fragments the audience, but if more people are listening to them, are less people listening to the radio? Knowing where the audience listens is important.
In our world, we know that the majority of our customers are older so we look to appeal to a younger audience.
It would be beneficial to us and all advertisers if we had a chance to meet, talk and get feedback from program directors. I have never met a programmer until today.
SESSION 4 – Tackling Diversity in Sports Radio:
- Sarah Spain – ESPN Radio
- Jason Goff – Chicago Sports Radio Host
- Dan Zampillo – ESPN Los Angeles
Jason Barrett introduced the topic by mentioning there are 425 Monday – Friday radio hosts in the country, 87% of them are white males. Although many deserve to be in their positions and are doing an excellent job it’s also disappointing to see the lack of progress offering diverse talent on the air.
The numbers over the past three years are unchanged. As a whole the format has to make major improvements. 38% of the population is non-white yet only a third of that population is represented on sports talk radio.
Dan Zampillo – The idea of hiring someone who isn’t like you is very important. Someone with differing opinions might make me feel uncomfortable, but to overcome something you have to leave your comfort zone.
It’s not about my world and thinking what I think is funny or not, you need to know your audience and seek out opinions from different people.
Jason Goff – I grew up listening to sports talk radio. I feel we sometimes insult our listeners because we think they can’t handle certain topics. Sports can be a vehicle to talk about something else, people say stick to sports, but sometimes there’s something deeper than sports and people like learning more than they don’t like learning.
Sometimes for a minority or female host in an industry dominated by white males, there are some things you may have to subconsciously deal with that you say “that didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.” But if anyone else heard it they might be like “you’re going to put up with that” and I say “yeah, because it’s my dream.”
How many people have zero connection with a minority during their day? Radio stations can provide people with that connection.
The challenge we have is getting more diverse people behind these microphones and behind the scenes and understanding that there’s a blending that’s taking place but the loud minority is shouting down that blending.
I never understood why a sports station isn’t rated number one because everyone can relate to sports and has a reaction to it. I’m not here to make you feel the best or worst, but I’m here to make you feel, and it’s great to think differently because the audience isn’t just the 25-54 year old white male.
Sarah Spain – Nobody ever really only followed the stick to sports model. The current climate just makes people more aware of someone not talking about sports. Sticking to sports can be small-minded. Why not appeal to a broader audience?
By the way, when people clamor for things to return to how they used to be, the way that it was though didn’t actually stick to sports. A lot of women and minorities were alienated. Gay people were offended. The main people listening and in charge didn’t notice though because the commentary reflected their own opinions.
When I say something that goes off sports or is specific to me it becomes noteworthy, but when a straight white male goes on a rant about going to a strip club or women shouldn’t go to Vegas, they ruin everything, it just feels like the regular conversation because that’s what you’re used to.
We talk often about how to fix major league baseball because those who like the game are all old white men. When I talk to people in power positions in radio instead of saying “all of our listeners are white men who are aging” they say “we don’t want to alienate our listeners who we do have.”
What business runs like that? What business says “no, we prefer to still not to attract 50% of the population of women and another 30+% that are minorities because we’re worried that the white audience that we have might go away if we force them to listen to someone who is mildly different from them.”
Why wouldn’t you want to appeal to as many people as possible who are interested in sports radio? If you’re wondering why your audience is a certain way, maybe look at the people you have hosting and the things that they’re saying and realize that they’ve been turning away a really big chunk of people for a very long time.
You need to find people that don’t know what they want yet. I never wanted to get into sports radio because I thought someone would ask me who hit the most home runs in 1985 and I wouldn’t know the answer, because my parents didn’t watch sports and I wasn’t watching sports in 1985. To find different types of talent you have to be willing to put yourself into positions where you’re going to do things differently. Whatever your daily routine is, wherever you usually go, go somewhere different.
Pipelines exist in every business for white males, but we need to create pipelines for everyone else. If you’re hiring me because you need to hire a woman then great. I will be that woman and I will kick ass and inspire other women to create that pipeline for others to get these kind of opportunities. If you’re a token hire, that’s fine, as long as you’re not disrespected. Once you get the job is yours though you need to be yourself and take advantage of it and make people ask themselves why they didn’t try it sooner.
SESSION 5 – The Infinite Dial 2018:
- Larry Rosin – Edison Research
Podcasting is an important tool for radio stations. Many people want to turn on a station and listen to whatever is on right now, but others want to catch up and listen to a specific show on their own time, and podcasts provide that opportunity. If you’re not providing the listener with unique podcasts, they’ll find them elsewhere.
86% of Americans older than the age of 13 listen to music.
41% of Americans listen to speech based content.
The average American listens to three hours and 49 minutes of audio per day, 57 minutes of that is speech based.
Of the 41% that listen to speech content regularly, they listen to four hours and 54 minutes of content daily, of which two hours and 19 minutes is speech based.
Average listening platforms for Americans over the age of 13:
AM/FM Radio 53%
Owned Music 14%
TV Music Channels 5%
Terrestrial radio is still by far the most consumed form of audio content, but with each new study, its percentage decreases a little bit.
Once a listener begins listening to podcasts, they quickly listen to more podcasts. Of those who regularly consume podcasts, 59% of their daily listening is to podcasts, while AM/FM Radio drops to just 24% of their listening.
Once you enter the digital world, more people consume podcasts when listening on a phone or computer than they listen to AM/FM radio.
50% of people 18-34 said they do not own a radio in their home, ten years ago that number was just 6%.
SESSION 6 – The Trump Effect (moderated by Tim Spence 630 KHOW Orange and Blue 760 Denver):
- Todd Manley – WGN Radio
- Brian Long – KOGO/Xtra 1360
- Chris Kinard – 106.7 The Fan
Chris Kinard – When we started, we brought in hosts that could talk about social issues. Over the course of the last two years its become too divisive and less fun, so we have cut back on that and the ratings have responded positively.
Continuing down a political path is something a host doesn’t always want to do because they don’t want to brand themselves in that way. Politics might not be the majority of what a sports station or host does, but it’s going to be the loudest thing they do.
We’re done talking about politics. Our listeners know when they turn on The FAN, they’re going to be entertained, and not moved to turn the radio off because they’re hearing the same political topics they heard at work all day.
Brian Long – Sports radio hosts aren’t always well-versed in what’s going on politically, but they still have opinions that could become divisive. From a sports standpoint, we decided to get out of talking politics rather quickly. Still, there are times that a sports conversation will have to crossover to being a political conversation.
We preach playing the hits, but you need to know why the audience is tuning into your station. You can give a hot take on sports each day, but when talking about a social issue, a host may upset the audience if it’s not a topic the audience wants to hear about.
Todd Manley – I’ve noticed music stations coming out of nowhere in the market, because people are looking to get away from political conversations. Looking at the balance of what to talk about is important, you need to have fun. We have shows that are targeted towards sports and others that are not.
Our afternoon show is topicality driven, there are so many topics to choose from right now, and choosing what news story to talk about is a conversation we have everyday, along with how can we shift gears to making the topic fun.
SESSION 7 – Sports Radio Reimagined:
- Jason Barrett
Should the male 25-54 demo change?
People are living longer. Older listeners have the most money. The debate should be about which demo best represents the true impact made by sports talk radio stations. 18-54? 25-54? 25-59? 25-64? 35-64?
Niche content is gaining steam. Trying something different such as a daily sports betting or eSports show can’t be dismissed, especially when you look at how much money is projected to be invested in those spaces in the future. Just type in sports or sports radio on iTunes and look at what comes up. Wrestling for example, dominates the charts. It’s why Podcast One and Westwood One have launched wrestling programs. There’s big money and interest in many of these forms of content.
Sports program directors are comfortable spending money on weekly NFL, NBA, MLB contributors, but have you ever considered a weekly political guest? Betting experts? A popular wrestling personality or eSports enthusiast?
How are you looking to groom young talent, or employ women and minority talent? Barstool Radio has more women in their weekday lineup than any station. They also feature shorter shows. Why not experiment with a 30-60 minute show? If the average commute is under 30-minutes and your average metered listener spends less than one hour listening to your station each day, can you say with certainty that shorter programs wouldn’t be seen as a benefit to your audience? With digital platforms available, stations should be using them as a way to experiment and develop new talent.
How much money are you generating from your digital content? How much are you earning from podcasts, and people using your app or streaming? How many hours are invested in making your digital platform look and sound right? Station’s need to find ways to make the digital part of their business profitable and charging for it can’t be dismissed.
If radio revenues are flat to down and you look at what’s going on in the subscription world in the sports media business, it’s fair to ask if 100,000 listeners paying zero on a platform that you monetize poorly and spend ample resources in is more important to your business than 10,000 paying $8.00 per month. If the content and talent are special and offering quality on a consistent basis people may not be as opposed to paying for it as you might think.
Brands should be analyzing how their meters use their stations and adapt their clock structure to the way people use the radio station’s programs, not just installing the same clock design across all 13 hours just because it’s simpler. As long as the inventory gets in during each four to five hour daypart, it’s the programmer’s job to review when people are listening most/least and capitalize on opportunities.
PD’s should be asking themselves, “can my brand survive and thrive without me?” You have to think about the job description going forward differently. There’s going to be much more to the position than analyzing ratings, coaching talent, meeting with sales and promotions, etc. Are you involved in digital content creation, social strategy, merchandising, graphic design, etc.? Don’t dismiss learning about those things because they may be part of your job in the next few years. Otherwise a company may one day decide to install a virtual PD.
SESSION 8 – The Next Big Category:
- Chad Millman – Action Network
- Bill Adee – VSiN
Chad Millman – It’s harder to do a national campaign if sports gambling is regulated in each state differently. League’s would prefer if the future of sports betting was federally legislated the same everywhere. From a content standpoint, it doesn’t matter, we’re still going to provide information to help people learn to bet smarter on sports.
There are still glitches, the betting technology has to catch up for the market to grow where I expect it to grow
We want to be conversational and connect with an audience that might not bet daily, but it still remains a part of their lives. The generation that is 15-35 has grown up with moneyball, fantasy sports and video games. They view sports as an opportunity.
The NFL is so backwards regarding their stance on sports betting. They think differently than other leagues. Knowing legal sports gambling is coming, the NFL’s thinking should be more about how to monetize it.
Bill Adee – Nobody really thought about why sports gambling was legal or illegal because the law was that way for so long. The attitude toward sports betting has changed. It’s a states right’s issue, Nevada was grandfathered in, why shouldn’t New Jersey be allowed to legalize sports betting?
At VSiN, we like to inform and entertain, but most of all we like to educate. There is a big audience for sports betting and we need to explain it in a way that doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence, because a lot of them think they know what they’re doing in-terms of betting, but they really don’t.
You want to put information on-air that makes sense and draws the listener in, focus on lines and how they move, knowing that a lot of the betting conversation needs to be explained properly to the audience. We try to demystify sports gambling.
Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?
How many times have you heard this sentence uttered at conferences or in one of the trades; radio has to do a better job of telling its story. Sounds reasonable enough right? After all, your brands and companies stand a better chance of being more consumed and invested in the more that others know about them.
But what specifically about your brand’s story matters to those listening or spending money on it? Which outlets are you supposed to share that news with to grow your listenership and advertising? And who is telling the story? Is it someone who works for your company and has a motive to advance a professional agenda, or someone who’s independent and may point out a few holes in your strategy, execution, and results?
As professionals working in the media business, we’re supposed to be experts in the field of communications. But are we? We’re good at relaying news when it makes us look good or highlights a competitor coming up short. How do we respond though when the story isn’t told the we want it to? Better yet, how many times do sports/news talk brands relay information that isn’t tied to quarterly ratings, revenue or a new contract being signed? We like to celebrate the numbers that matter to us and our teams, but we don’t spend much time thinking about if those numbers matter to the right groups – the audience and the advertisers.
Having covered the sports and news media business for the past seven years, and published nearly eighteen thousand pieces of content, you’d be stunned if you saw how many nuggets of information get sent to us from industry folks looking for publicity vs. having to chase people down for details or read things on social media or listen to or watch shows to promote relevant material. Spoiler alert, most of what we produce comes from digging. There are a handful of outlets and PR folks who are great, and five or six PD’s who do an excellent job consistently promoting news or cool things associated with their brands and people. Some talent are good too at sharing content or tips that our website may have an interest in.
Whether I give the green light to publish the material or not, I appreciate that folks look for ways to keep their brands and shows on everyone’s radar. Brand leaders and marketing directors should be battling daily in my opinion for recognition anywhere and everywhere it’s available. If nobody is talking about your brand then you have to give them a reason to.
I’m writing this column today because I just spent a day in New York City at the Disney Upfront, which was attended by a few thousand advertising professionals. Though I’d have preferred a greater focus on ESPN than what was offered, I understand that a company the size of Disney with so many rich content offerings is going to have to condense things or they’d literally need a full week of Upfronts to cover it all. They’re also trying to reach buyers and advertising professionals who have interests in more than just sports.
What stood out to me while I was in attendance was how much detail went into putting on a show to inform, entertain, and engage advertising professionals. Disney understands the value of telling its story to the right crowd, and they rolled out the heavy hitters for it. There was a strong mix of stars, executives, promotion of upcoming shows, breaking news about network deals, access to the people responsible for bringing advertising to life, and of course, free drinks. It was easy for everyone in the room to gain an understanding of the company’s culture, vision, success, and plans to capture more market share.
As I sat in my seat, I wondered ‘why doesn’t radio do this on a local level‘? I’m not talking about entertaining clients in a suite, having a business dinner for a small group of clients or inviting business owners and agency reps to the office for a rollout of forthcoming plans. I’m talking about creating an annual event that showcases the power of a cluster, the stars who are connected to the company’s various brands, unveiling new shows, promotions and deals, and using the event as a driver to attract more business.
Too often I see our industry rely on things that have worked in the past. We assume that if it worked before there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for the client. Sometimes that’s even true. Maybe the advertiser likes to keep things simple and communicate by phone, email or in-person lunch meetings. Maybe a creative powerpoint presentation is all you need to get them to say yes. If it’s working and you feel that’s the best way forward to close business, continue with that approach. There’s more than one way to reach the finish line.
But I believe that most people like being exposed to fresh ideas, and given a peak behind the curtain. The word ‘new’ excites people. Why do you think Apple introduces a new iPhone each year or two. We lose sight sometimes of how important our brands and people are to those not inside the walls of our offices. We forget that whether a client spends ten thousand or ten million dollars per year with our company, they still like to be entertained. When you allow business people to feel the excitement associated with your brand’s upcoming events, see the presentations on a screen, and hear from and interact with the stars involved in it, you make them feel more special. I think you stand a better chance of closing deals and building stronger relationships that way.
Given that many local clusters have relationships with hotels, theaters, teams, restaurants, etc. there’s no reason you can’t find a central location, and put together an advertiser appreciation day that makes partners feel valued. You don’t have to rent out Pier 36 like Disney or secure the field at a baseball stadium to make a strong impression. We show listeners they’re valued regularly by giving away tickets, cash, fan appreciation parties, etc. and guess what, it works! Yes there are expenses involved putting on events, and no manager wants to hear about spending money without feeling confident they’ll generate a return on investment. That said, taking calculated risks is essential to growing a business. Every day that goes by where you operate with a ‘relying on the past’ mindset, and refuse to invest in growth opportunities, is one that leaves open the door for others to make sure your future is less promising.
There are likely a few examples of groups doing a smaller scaled version of what I’m suggesting. If you’re doing this already, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up through email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. By and large though, I don’t see a lot of must-see, must-discuss events like this created that lead to a surplus of press, increased relationships, and most importantly, increased sales. Yet it can be done. Judging from some of the feedback I received yesterday talking to people in the room, it makes an impression, and it matters.
I don’t claim to know how many ad agency executives and buyers returned to the office from the Disney Upfront and reached out to sign new advertising deals with the company. What I am confident in is that Disney wouldn’t invest resources in creating this event nor would other national groups like NBC, FOX, CBS, WarnerMedia, etc. if they didn’t feel it was beneficial to their business. Rather than relying on ratings and revenue stories that serve our own interests, maybe we’d help ourselves more by allowing our partners and potential clients to experience what makes our brands special. It works with our listeners, and can work with advertisers too.
Takeaways From The NAB Show and Six Days in Las Vegas
“I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm for the NAB Show was elevated this year.”
Six days on the road can sometimes be exhausting. Six days in Las Vegas, and it’s guaranteed. That was my world last week, as I along with more than fifty thousand people headed to sin city to take in the 2022 NAB Show.
The event didn’t draw as many as it had in the past, but after two years of inactivity due to the pandemic, it was good to be back. Judging from some of the vendors I talked to, the sessions I attended, and the feedback I received from folks I met with, though far from perfect, it was a solid return for an important event. Seeing people interact, celebrate others, and talk about ways to improve the business was a positive reminder of the world being closer to the normal of 2019 than the normal of 2020-2021. The only negative from the week, the consistent failure of Uber to appear in the right place at the right time. But that had zero to do with the NAB.
It feels like whenever I attend industry conferences, there are two different type of reviews that follow. Some writers attend the show and see the glass half full. Others see the glass half empty. I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm was elevated this year. Maybe it was because BSM was a media partner or maybe it was due to the show not happening for years and just being happy to be among friends, peers, and clients and operate like normal. Either way, my glass was definitely half full.
For those who see events this way, it’s likely they’ll remember the numerous opportunities they had to create and reestablish relationships. They’ll also recall the access to different speakers, sessions, products, and the excellent research shared with those in attendance. The great work done by the BFOA to recognize industry difference makers during their Wednesday breakfast was another positive experience, as was the Sunday night industry gathering at The Mayfair Supper Club.
Included in the conference were sessions with a number of industry leaders. Radio CEO’s took the stage to point out the industry’s wins and growth, credit their employees, and call out audio competitors, big tech, and advertisers for not spending more with the industry. When David Field, Bob Pittman, Ginny Morris and Caroline Beasley speak, people listen. Though their companies operate differently, hearing them share their views on the state of the business is important. I always learn something new when they address the room.
But though a lot of ground gets covered during these interviews, there are a few issues that don’t get talked about enough. For instance, ineffective measurement remains a big problem for the radio business. Things like this shouldn’t happen, but they do. NBC and WarnerMedia took bold steps to address problems with TV measurement. Does radio have the courage to take a similar risk? That’s an area I’d like to see addressed more by higher ups.
I can’t help but wonder how much money we lose from this issue. Companies spend millions for a ratings service that delivers subpar results, and the accountability that follows is often maddening. Given the data we have access to digitally, it’s stunning that radio’s report card for over the air listening is determined by outdated technology. And if we’re going to tell folks that wearables are the missing ingredient for addressing this problem, don’t be shocked if the press that follows is largely negative. The industry and its advertising partners deserve better. So too do the reps at Nielsen who have to absorb the hits, and make the most of a tough situation.
Speaking of advertising, this is another one of those critical areas that deserves another point of view. Case in point, I talked to a few ad agency professionals at the show. Similar to what I’ve heard before, they’re tired of hearing radio leaders blame them for the industry’s present position. This has been a hot button topic with executives for years. I often wonder, do we help or hurt ourselves by publicly calling out advertisers and ad agencies? How would you feel if you ran an agency which spent millions on the industry and were told ‘you don’t do enough’? I’m a champion of radio/audio, and am bullish on spoken word’s ability to deliver results for clients, but having attended these shows for nearly seven years, it might be time for a new approach and message. Or maybe it’s time to put one of our CEO’s with one of theirs and have a bigger discussion. Just a thought.
Of the sessions that I attended, I thought Erica Farber’s ‘What Business Are You In?’ was excellent. I especially liked Taja Graham’s presentation on ‘Sharing Your Truth’. I also appreciated Eric Bischoff’s tips on ways to monetize podcasts, and am curious to see how Amazon’s AMP develops moving forward. My favorite session at the show though was “A GPS Session For Your Station’s Car Radio Strategy” led by Fred Jacobs. The insight shared by Joe D’Angelo of Xperi and Steve Newberry & Suzy Schultz of Quu was outstanding. Keeping the car companies on our side is vital to our survival, and how we position ourselves on the dashboard can’t be ignored. Other tech companies and audio operators take it seriously. We must too.
Sessions aside, it was great to check out the VSiN and Blue Wire studios, connect with a bunch of CEO’s, GM’s and Market Manager’s, and visit with Kevin Jones, Joe Fortenbaugh, Jeremiah Crowe, Jon Goulet, Bill Adee, Q Myers, Mike Golic Jr. and Stormy Buonantony. The NFL’s setup for the Draft, and the light show presented at the Bellagio was without a doubt spectacular, plus Stephanie had a chance to say hello to Raiders owner Mark Davis who was inside the back room of a Westgate restaurant where we were having a business lunch meeting. The personal tour we received at the Wynn showed off some of the best suites I’ve seen in Las Vegas, and I was finally able to witness Circa’s Stadium Swim in person, and meet owner Derek Stevens (heck of a suit game). What an outstanding hotel and casino.
Altogether, it was a productive trip. As someone who knows all about building and executing a conference, I appreciate the work that goes into pulling it off. This event is massive, and I have no idea how the NAB makes it happen so flawlessly. This was the first time my head of sales, Stephanie Eads, got to attend the show. She loved it. Our only negative, going back and forth between convention halls can get exhausting. Wisely, Stephanie and Guaranty Media CEO Flynn Foster took advantage of the underground Tesla ride to move from the North hall to the West hall. I wasn’t as bright. If that’s the worst part of the experience though, that’s pretty solid. I look forward to returning in 2023, and attending the NAB’s NYC show this fall.
You’ve likely seen posts from BSM/BNM on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn promoting a number of open positions. I’m adding crew to help us pump out more content, and that means we need more editors, news writers, features reporter’s and columnists. If you’re currently involved or previously worked in the industry and love to write about it, send a resume and few writing samples by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
With that said, I’m excited to announce the addition of Ryan Brown as a weekly columnist for BSM. Ryan is part of ‘The Next Round’ in Birmingham, Alabama, which previously broadcast on WJOX as JOX Roundtable. The show left the terrestrial world in June 2021 to operate as its own entity. Ryan’s knowledge and opinions should provide a boost to the site, and I’m looking forward to featuring his columns every Tuesday. Keep an eye out for it tomorrow, and if you want to check out the guest piece he previously wrote for us, click here.
Demetri Ravanos and I have talked to a lot of people over the past month. More additions will be revealed soon. As always, thanks for the continued support of BSM and BNM.
Six New Contributors Join Barrett Media
“These latest additions will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.”
Building a brand starts with a vision. Once that vision is defined, you identify the people who fit what you’re creating, lay out the game plan, and turn them loose to execute. If the product you’re creating is original, fills a gap in the marketplace, and the work turned in by your team is consistently excellent and promoted in the right locations, more times than not you’ll build an audience.
As you grow, the focus turns to studying what your audience wants, needs, and expects from your brand. Certain things you expect to be big turn out small, and the things you saw limited upside in create opportunities you never saw coming. It’s critical to be open minded and ready to pivot while also examining where and when people consume your product, which pieces of content do and don’t matter, and then use that information to direct your team to give folks more of what they value and less of what they don’t. Team members should want that feedback too. It tells them what is and isn’t worth spending their time on.
As I lay all of that out it may sound like I’m talking about a radio station or television operation. These are the things programmers do frequently to make sure the talent, shows, and brand is satisfying the expectations of an audience. But what I’m actually referring to is the brand you’ve made a choice to click on to read this column, Barrett Media.
I’ve mentioned many times on this website how I started this operation by myself, and didn’t expect to have a team of writers involved in it. I was focused on consulting sports stations, sharing my programming views on this website, and as I cranked out content consistently, I discovered others loved the business like I did and had a desire to share their insights too. Rather than sticking to my original plan, I pivoted and increased our content offerings. In return, the audience grew, clients grew, and it’s led this brand to grow beyond my expectations. Now we cover sports AND news media, we run an annual conference, feature a membership program, create podcasts, deliver a daily 8@8 and three times per week BNM Rundown newsletter, and work with various brands and companies across the broadcasting industry. I’m extremely fortunate to be in this position and don’t take it for granted.
But with growth comes change. We’ve been blessed to have a lot of talented people contribute to this site over the years, and as they produce quality work, and others across the industry recognize it, they earn interest for their services. That then leads to some having to sign off for bigger opportunities. I see that as a great positive for the brand. Would it be nice to have more consistency and keep a crew together for years? Of course. I know it’d make Demetri’s life a lot easier. If we’re losing people for the right reasons though, and they’re landing opportunities that help them advance their careers, I’m going to be happy for their success, and trust that we’ll find others to keep us moving forward. The success of our team helps make what we do more attractive to others because it shows that if you do good consistent work here, you can put yourself in a position to attract attention.
Over the past two months, I have challenged Demetri Ravanos to invest more time talking to people about writing for us. Expanding our Barrett News Media roster is a priority. So too is adding quality people to help us improve Barrett Sports Media. BSM has had just under seven years to earn trust with readers. BNM has had less than two. We’ve put out ads on our website and newsletters, social posts, an ad on Indeed, and we’ve reached out directly to people who we’ve felt may be able to add something interesting to our brand. Most of my time is spent listening to stations and talking with clients, but my eyes are always roaming looking for content, and my mind is always thinking about what we can create next to make an impact.
I don’t judge our brand’s success based on clicks, shares, breaking news before other outlets or showing up in the top three listings on Google. I care more effort accuracy, timeliness, passion, consistency, storytelling, insight, and being fair and non-agenda driven. We’ve found our niche being able to tell stories about broadcasting professionals, relaying news, and offering expert knowledge to serve those involved in the broadcasting industry. If we continue to excel doing those things consistently, I’m confident our audience will reward us by reading and sharing more of our content. It’s why we never stop recruiting to keep things fresh.
Having said that, I am excited today to reveal six new additions to the Barrett Media staff. Peter Schwartz is a name and voice many in New York sports radio circles are familiar with. Peter has spent three decades working with various outlets and I’m thrilled to have him writing weekly feature stories for us. Brady Farkas is a talented host and former programmer who now works for WDEV in Burlington, VT. Karl Schoening is a play by play broadcaster who has worked in San Antonio sports radio and has had the added benefit of learning the industry from his talented father Bill who calls Spurs games. Each of them will produce bi-weekly feature stories for the brand. Jason Ence is in Louisville and has written about sports betting for Twin Spires while also working for ESPN 680. He’ll be writing sports betting content for us on a weekly basis. Jasper Jones will help us by adding news stories on Friday’s. He’s presently in Philadelphia learning the business working for Audacy. Last but not least, veteran author, Brewers writer, and former radio professional Jim Cryns comes on board to help us with features on news media professionals.
These six additions make us stronger, and I’m excited to have them join the team to help us add more quality content to the website. That said, we’re not done yet. Demetri and I are still talking with others and I expect to make a few more additions in the weeks ahead. As I said earlier, we want to improve the news media side of our operation and continue adding people to help us make a bigger dent in the sports media space. Broadcast companies invest in us to help them, and I believe it’s important to invest back.
If you’ve programmed, hosted a top rated show, worked in measurement, led a cluster as a GM, sold advertising, represented talent or have worked in digital and feel you have knowledge to share, reach out. I can’t promise we’ll have room but we’re always willing to listen. I’m not worried about whether or not you’ve written for professional publications. Passion, experience and unique insights matter much more than a resume or journalism degree.
I appreciate everyone who takes time to read our content, like and share it on social, and all involved with this brand who help bring it to life each day. The latest additions of Schwartz, Farkas, Schoening, Ence, Jones and Cryns will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.