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BSM Programming Summit Day 2

Jason Barrett

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We’re live in Chicago for day 2 of 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 day 2 of the Barrett Sports Media programming summit welcoming back over 30 PD’s from around the country.  Jason explains the importance of telling your brand story and how it pays dividends with listeners, advertisers and the people inside your own hallways.  To illustrate the point, a video is played which shows how ESPN sells its impact across all platforms and why it benefits brands to associate with them.

SESSION 1 Day 2 – The State of National Sports Radio: 

  • Jason Dixon – SiriusXM
  • Adam Delevitt – ESPN 1000
  • Scott Shapiro – Fox Sports

Scott Shapiro – Our goal at the network is to bring in talent that local stations will find attractive.  We provide a service for local brands by offering great personalities and resources that they wouldn’t be able to afford.

We strive to service our affiliates because we’re only as good as they are.  Our most important stakeholders are our advertisers and affiliates.  Having an open line of communication helps facilitate our brand in your local market.

To judge how a show is doing we try to look at the bigger picture.  We look at every market every month but I try not to overreact.  Looking at each book in each market and even at a national level is important for measuring where you are and aren’t making a difference.

We had our biggest digital month ever, our digital numbers are growing, but my number one goal is to make sure our digital audience knows where to hear us live and terrestrially.  I wish we could do a better job of tracking and selling the digital audience numbers.

There’s a level of importance for national play-by-play, but viability is key.  Unless we get a deal that makes sense to be profitable for our affiliates, we’re not going to sign a play-by-play deal to take a loss.

We have a lot of solo shows, the goal is to get the best talent and a lot of time the show gets built around that personality, but we still regularly incorporate other voices into the show.

Adam Delevitt – Content is king.  Covering a big local story is harder to do with a national show, but a national show in a local market can work if it’s the right fit.  Mike and Mike had a lot of local ties to Chicago. Greeny worked at The Score, Golic played at Notre Dame, they were in Chicago a lot so it worked.

National hosts need to buy into wanting their show to work in all markets.  Hosts may not want to do 80 promos after hosting a four-hour show, but it’s something they need to do to work in other markets.  We try to send the network shows a lot of content.

National play-by-play is important.  A weekday national baseball game might not do great, but even if you’re only taking a little bit of the audience away from the local broadcast, it helps and having the playoffs and championship games are great.

Exclusivity of all ESPN personalities being on our station can be great and I’ll make a call if I hear an ESPN personality on a different station in the market, but sometimes I also think is it actually a bad thing?  If Jay Bilas goes on a non-ESPN station and promotes the brand for 10 minutes it might not be a bad thing.  It’s certainly not the end of the world.

Jason Dixon – Having Mike and Mike in Raleigh gave me a much better morning show than I could afford, but it was my job to recognize when we needed to go local.  If Duke played Carolina the next morning we’d decide if it made more sense to do a local morning show and skip Mike and Mike that day.  Local wins 99% of the time, but good content is still good content.

The relationships with the network producers, hosts, affiliate rep and programmers are important.  I could sometimes get the national guys to read something for our station, and we’d also send big local stories to the network shows which when it made sense, they’d talk about.

I try to use the ear test in determining our success at SiriusXM.  We track all data, but we can’t judge or track ratings the way terrestrial radio does.  We’re niche radio, and we try to identify which brands work and stay on our hosts, producers and PD’s to make sure their putting out a great product everyday.  On one hand there’s the freedom to live without these numbers, but on the other hand I don’t have this data to judge how a show is doing.

We have Mad Dog Sports Radio, and in my perfect world I’d love to see a west coast version, a southern version, a mid-west version and try to get sports stations covering different parts of the country.  It would be expensive, but it’s one thing I’d like to see in the future.

Any SiriusXM talent that another station wants to put on the air as a guest, let me know.  We love to have our talent promoting the brand and being heard on other stations.  You can’t have Howard, but any SiriusXM sports talent is welcome to be a guest on any terrestrial station.

SESSION 2 Day 2 – Nielsen: 

  • Jon Miller – Nielsen

Overall radio listening is down.  Fragmentation in the industry, radio listeners have other platform options, and those platforms are experiencing an increase as terrestrial radio slowly decreases.

The daily cume is declining slowly.  More people are choosing to use other forms of media everyday, so the daily audience from terrestrial radio is decreasing.  Each month there is a little less AM/FM radio use than there was last year.  Overall audio listening is up, but radio use is declining.

It’s important to focus on the “vertical” model, to get as many tune-ins during the day as you can.  You need to get the morning listener to come back and listen in the afternoon, but you also need to use the “horizontal” model, making sure you get the listener to come back tomorrow and everyday in the week.  Starbucks doesn’t try to get you to buy a larger cup of coffee when you’re there, they try to get you to come back tomorrow.  Starbucks’ goal isn’t to have the current customer spend more while they’re in the store, it’s goal is to make sure they become a repeat customer.  They look to sell more cups of coffee, not larger cups.  The same applies to sports radio.

We spend 80 hours a week consuming content.  Why should people choose radio?  Why should they choose your brand?  There are niche’s carved in talk radio that the consumer can only get from your brand.

Nielsen is evolving, we’re figuring out the digital numbers.  Currently, you get the most credit for your terrestrial brand.  Nielsen has not caught up to measuring digital platforms.  We understand stations are promoting their digital brand and need to get credit for those numbers, but measuring that audience has been more challenging than we originally thought.

SESSION 3 Day 2 – Bringing Your Imaging to Life: 

  • Jim Cutler

It’s effective to learn by listening to bad examples.  Put content into your imaging, not “fluff.”  Replace fluff with topical content, don’t waste time on-air.

Avoid:
– “You just don’t know what you’re going to get with the —- Show.”
– “The —- Show is unpredictable, you never know what you’re going to hear next.”

Focus on highlighting good content and what’s happening right now.  News talk and sports talk is a gift because it provides content to promote and put into your imaging.

Imagine if breaking news alerts on your phone said “Things are happening out there,” rather than giving you an actual alert or update.

You can’t say you’re “cool” and relevant by using liners that say “we’re number 1.”  Your listeners and callers are a better way of promoting that success and relevancy.

Recognize how long thirty seconds to your audience is.  If the promo or on-air discussion is wandering it will make your audience leave fast.  Jim then played an audio sample where he muttered “blah, blah, blah blah, blah” for thirty seconds.  It felt like an eternity inside the room.  Programmers were reminded to maximize the time available to engage listeners.

Where do you get non-filler for your station?  Look at YouTube.  There are a lot of bad aspiring broadcasters posting things on YouTube, but there are a lot of great ones too.  You no longer need a radio station to create content, but radio station’s are still magical and if you invest the time you can find good undiscovered talent.

Working with a radio station is a great way to promote a podcast.  Anybody can launch a podcast, but a radio station pushing the podcast as “this is something we can’t say on-air,” rather than just saying, “listen to more in our podcast,” is a way to get listeners.

Jim also played a few video samples demonstrating how music artists use fans in their videos to show how they matter, and closed out by answering questions from the room.

SESSION 4 Day 2 – Developing Your Social Voice (moderated by Bill Adee, VSiN): 

  • Brad Boron – Chicago White Sox
  • Jen Tulicki – Chicago Bears
  • Dan Moriarty – Chicago Bulls

Brad Boron – We work a little with players on how to use social media.  We show them what previously worked and didn’t work.  We can’t go down the road of telling players you should post this and you shouldn’t post that because fans are savvy and can tell what is genuine and what is not.  When Twitter was in its infancy, we could probably tweet on behalf of a player but now fans can tell right away.

People get news from many avenues.  We look at our account as what happens if we could never break news again?  We try to enhance information, not be a breaking source of information.  If someone comes to us for breaking news, great, but for people that already saw the news, they can still get something extra from our account.

We have a content calendar, but we don’t need to follow it too strictly.  We have a weekly content meeting where everyone brings in ideas.  The best thing that anyone can do to create content is step back and think about what’s something we can provide that no one else will.

I tell players, “Be crazy but with a purpose.”

Jen Tulicki – One of the great things about social media is it’s gray, there are no black and white rules for what will happen when you show up to work in the morning.  You never know what news can break that will change your content for a day.  Keep Twitter open and available to listen to your audience and fans.

A good social media post is authentic and we try to push the limits to create thumb-stopping videos and graphics.  When a follower is continuously scrolling, we want to make sure they stop on a Bears post.

Instagram is easy to delight our fans with graphics.  We put stories on Twitter and Facebook to try and drive people to our website.  Right now we’re prioritizing Instagram, creating those thumb-stopping graphics and engaging videos to attract people that tend to use Instagram as an escape from the news stories on Twitter, or posts from their friends and family on Facebook.

Quality over quantity is the smart way to approach social media.  Make sure you’re choosing relevant posts that offers something to fans.  We have a fan base of 75,000 on Snapchat and 700,000 on Instagram so prioritizing is something we have to do.  Although we want to be part of the fan experience in every social space, I’m OK with being less active on Snapchat and more focused on other platforms where we have higher interest.

As far as bombarding your fans with aggressive posts on Facebook are concerned, use common sense.  You don’t want your social media account to be seen as the friend that never shuts up.

Dan Moriarty – We try to talk to our entire fan-base, we have male and female fans of varying ages and backgrounds.  How do we differentiate ourselves from other social media accounts Bulls’ fans are following?

What’s happening in the real world is the biggest thing for us.  You need to “strike when the iron’s hot.”  If we’re losing by 20 points at halftime I’ll send half of our team home because we can put out great content, but if it’s coming after a loss, the interest isn’t there.  When Zach LaVine came back from his injury and had a good game in a win against his former team, we had the full social media team going until after midnight because fans were interested.

Buying followers is something that can quickly make you irrelevant.  An account might have 50,000 followers, but if their content is only getting one like, or less activity than an account with 1,000 followers, you quickly realize which accounts have legitimate followers.  The only way to gain followers is through good content.

At the Bulls we institute a six pillars strategy and for content to be posted it must check three of those six boxes. It also can’t be something that isn’t in line with our six pillars.

Your goal should be to create content that will lead to multiple posts across all platforms.  To do that you have to use different images, videos, shorter clips, behind the scenes stuff, etc.  By taking one piece of content and featuring in different ways, it allows you to get the most out of it and it doesn’t become boring or repetitive for the consumer.

If a radio company is suggesting to post nearly fifty times a day on Facebook that seems like a disaster waiting to happen to me.  However, I’ve seen the head of Facebook Sports show data about what works and high frequency can provide a big payoff, but most of the time it is driven by video.  If you’re not using video and just posting 50 times a day, that’s not going to help you serve your fans.  It’s only going to drive them away.

Social Media Tips:
– Get an iPhone Gimbal to stabilize and prevent shaky videos
– Use scheduling tools to continuously make social media posts
– Spend money on software
– Use Slack
– Use graphics

SESSION 5 Day 2 – Inside the Millennial Mind (moderated by Dave Zaslowsky):

  • Bernie Goin – I.M.S.
  • Julio Rasseuo – I.M.S.
  • Joey Alexander – I.M.S.

Julio Rasseuo – I still listen to regular radio, I use Tune-In to hear broadcasters throughout the country.  I’ve been a cord cutter for four years but I have a TV that was gifted to me except it’s never been plugged in.

Some of the personal talk and fluff is fine.  I’m investing my hours with a host on a daily basis so I don’t mind getting to know them, but you still want good sports content.

Content is key.  It doesn’t even need to be on the air.  If you’re a right’s holder give me as much team coverage as you can using podcasts.  In-terms of politics, unfortunately the line is blurred sometimes and you need to talk and listen to a political conversation.

I admire Dave Portnoy.  I’m not a Barstool reader or fan of the brand, but I admire what he built.  He took a risk with a digital platform and that’s an area where everyone in sports radio should be taking risks.

Joey Alexander – I had a teacher suggest reading a newspaper, but I didn’t even know where to get one.  It was foreign to me.  I get my news on Bleacher Report.  I never needed the paper.

Sometimes I’ll hear a station talking about something outside of sports, and it might be funny for a minute or two, but I want them to quickly get back into sports.  Too much time gets wasted on the air and as a younger guy I just don’t have time for it.

One topic which quickly turns me off is politics.  I don’t care about a host’s political opinions.  I hate hearing anything about politics on a sports talk show.  It’s caused me to venture away from ESPN’s TV shows.  “I go to sports to get away from the world, not hear about the world.”

Bernie Goin – I still like reading an actual newspaper, and like the variety that it provides.

Listening to sports talk radio, I find I don’t get enough sports.  After listening to a show I still need to search to get more sports because they talk too much about their personal life, especially on a local level.

A better way to humanize yourself is to tell me about your experiences as a fan, rather than your experiences outside of sports.

If I get a breaking news alert on my phone, I’m not going to the radio or TV to tell me what’s going on, I do my own research to find more information on a story.

Radio hosts need to portray that they care about what’s going on.  If you need to be angry about a team then do that.  As a fan, I don’t want to hear a host making excuses for a team or player.

SESSION 6 Day 2 – The BSM Blitz: 

  • Jason Barrett – BSM

Using social media in a creative way helps you drive tune-ins and extend your brand’s connection to the audience.  Look at the way Joe Fortenbaugh promotes his guests each morning on 95.7 The Game in the Bay Area.  It’s smart, creative, local and much more likely to grab a listener’s attention than the useless tweets some hosts send out with  few lines of text and no real call to action.

JB showed some additional samples of stations using social well, and others filling space rather than using it to their benefit.  One example that stood out was how WIP in Philadelphia captured video of their broadcast team during the final call of the Super Bowl and shared it with their fans.  The views and responses were tremendous.

For a PD, doing a Twitter takeover or Facebook Live is a smart way to build a connection to the audience.  It’s free research and it shows you value your listeners.  Even more importantly, it becomes on-air content because your on-air talent can have fun with.

Branded content has become a must for advertisers.  You’re going to need ideas to generate larger dollars in the future.  Relying on spots and added value features is a recipe for disaster.  Too often programmers are conditioned to say NO to advertising requests but if you’re the brains of the operation and trusted to know talent and creative content then you should also be able to help your sellers find ways of weaving business into content.

If you think branded content is posting an ad on Facebook or Twitter or doing a video endorsement for a client, then you’re asleep at the wheel.  It’s about making the client look cool and feel naturally connected to your programming.  A video sample was then shown which highlighted a 101 ESPN video spot, Bad Joke Telling by Whistle Sports and the Tourism Australia ad.  Barstool is another brand which is brilliant at connecting clients to content in a smart way.

JB asked the room to raise their hand if their brand currently sold merchandise.  Not one PD said they were selling brand related merchandise.  JB pointed out “the narrative on the industry is that revenues are flat to down, your brands pump out content 24-hours a day, so why on earth are you not using your megaphone and social platforms to sell product?”

Craig Carton sells merchandise on his website.  Crossing Broad in Philadelphia did a great job of selling Eagles shirts right after the Eagles won the Super Bowl.  Clay Travis has become a brilliant marketer using Outkick The Coverage to move t-shirts.  Perhaps the most perplexing example though is Barstool Sports who sold Mike Francesa t-shirts promoting great slogans such as “Can’t spell Francesa without FAN” and “Numbah One” while WFAN didn’t.

You have to recognize the connection your talent have in the marketplace and pick up on the catchy things they say and do and turn them around quickly because you’re leaving money on the table.  Barstool says merchandising represents a third of their business.  At this point, sports radio should be more than motivated to add NTR dollars.

In sports radio circles, KFAN in Minneapolis created cool t-shirts for the Minneapolis State Fair and by all indications they were a hit yet after the fair they’re not available on their website.  Why not?  What if ESPN New York had created a Don LaGreca t-shirt that read “FIX THAT” after he had his meltdown on the air a few weeks ago?  How much product would either of the Houston sports stations moved if they had pounced and created merchandise after the Josh Innes-Seth Payne situation on radio row?

The bottom line, you have to recognize what catches fire, react, and understand how merchandise can drive extra revenue for your brands.  There’s no downside to it either.  If customer demand isn’t there, you don’t print.  If there is, you do and it becomes additional revenue.  This should be a no-brainer.

If your airwaves are valuable enough to advertisers to purchase time on to sell products and important enough to audiences to listen to your content, then why aren’t you using the same space to grow your business?  If it means eliminating a few programming promos to run merchandising promos it’ll be worth the adjustment.

Shows need to be less predictable and programmers have to study the content, not just the ratings.  Look at the times when you take calls, bring guests on or even talk about specific teams.  Does a feature still have legs or has it run its course?  If you don’t surprise your audience, don’t be surprised when they’re tuning out due to fatigue.

Events such as a celebrity roast, or awesome events like Wing Bowl in Philly or Ticket Stock in Dallas are so important, especially during the dead zones of the sports calendar.  They allow you to make money plus create content and drive ratings during otherwise slower times.  Too often we live day to day and trust that the topics of the day will be enough but what good are they if the audience sees no reason to out on the radio?  Case in point, the week of the All-Star game in MLB.

SESSION 7 Day 2 – The Talent Perspective (moderated by Jeff Rickard): 

  • David Kaplan – ESPN 1000
  • Laurence Holmes – 670 The Score

David Kaplan – I appreciate the honest feedback from my program director.  After a show, he lets me know what segments he felt worked or didn’t.  The PD should be giving feedback, partaking in meetings and communicating with me, “Good, bad or indifferent, but let’s talk.”

I don’t want to hear from the PD during the show.  I know there’s a line.  I’m going to be opinionated and try different things, but it’s important to know the PD has my back.  You also need to have a boss that’s able to let you make fun of them on air because it’s entertaining and relatable.

My producer isn’t afraid to say to me “No, you’re out of your mind,” and I value that.  It takes time to build trust with a producer to have that conversation, but that back and forth and trust between host and producer is what creates good content.  I want my producers to get involved on-air.  I want the show to sound like three people having a good time, not just one person preaching.

Too many times people use guests as a time filler.  We’ve gotten away from jamming eight guests into a show and having guests for guests sake.  Fans tune into the show to hear my opinion, not a show packed with guests.

I despise people that tweet “Touchdown Bears.”  I love engaging on social media.  You can blast at me, I’ll come back at you.  If someone’s really over the top I’ll mute them because I don’t want them to get the satisfaction of being blocked.

Don’t say “good morning everybody,” say “good morning to you.”  I’m not talking to everybody, I’m talking to you and engaging on social media is a way to develop that personal connection.  One way I do that beyond the show, I’ll record videos of myself talking about stuff, tweet them out and use them to drive a reason to tune in at 9am.

Laurence Holmes – I want my PD to know that I understand what the current topics are, but if I’m trying something else, I’m doing it for a reason.  I’m trying to bring in a new audience.  If it fails, I’m okay with my PD saying don’t do that again.

If I get to the end of a show and we’ve used all the content I spoke to my producer about prior to the show, I feel the show was a failure because it means something didn’t take off or we had just enough content and sputtered towards the end.  I want a show to end with me saying we didn’t get to everything we planned.

Sometimes I get feedback from my PD during a segment, but usually it’s a funny text.  If there’s something he didn’t think worked, it will wait until after the show.  I want there to be two-way communication.  It can be great to have a PD offer a clear set of eyes to give a small suggestion, change things around a bit to make it better.

I realized over the last few years that I needed to get younger producers.  I need to make sure I’m updating my references because the 25 year old in the car might not understand them.  As a host, we think we know everything that’s going on, but I need a younger producer to tell me “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

If you’re filling time on your radio station than your wasting my time.  I don’t want you thinking about a segment that will just get us from point A to point B, anyone can fill time, not everyone can program time.

It’s important to understand where you can stretch segments and when you need to pay attention the clock.  PD’s know when we need to break and when we need to tease a segment, and hosts can all do a better job of paying better attention to the formatics of a show.

The most difficult thing for me is understanding the matrix of how many calls to take.  There are days you have to take calls the whole show, but nothing can derail a show faster than a terrible call.  I’ve done four hour shows with zero phone calls and walked away saying that was a great show.  I’ve done a show filled with calls that I thought was a great show.  I struggle with the daily balance of “should I be creating segments that generate calls or not?”

I remind people on social media that we’re watching a show together.  The social connection is similar to the one you build on air.  They’re both intimate mediums.  People follow you because they want your opinion and think your funny, so reach out to them, make them feel good about interacting with you and in turn they’ll listen to you.

SESSION 8 Day 2 – Winning With and Without Play-by-Play (moderated by John Hanson):

  • Mitch Rosen – 670 The Score
  • Ryan Maguire – KIRO-FM
  • Hoss Neupert – 101 ESPN

Mitch Rosen – The Bulls was a future buy.  We helped out this year since they were in need of a new partner, and we’re hopeful of them being a playoff team next year.  We push the Cubs a lot because being known as “The home of the Cubs” is priceless.  Nielsen told us the Cubs winning the world series was the highest rated event ever on Chicago radio.

If the team is winning, people are going to listen regardless of who is in your broadcast booth.  There are certain exceptions but the team brands will always draw an audience if they’re performing.

The Cubs are great content and better than any local show when they’re winning.  Some ratings success is attributed to having the Cubs, and some will say “they won because of the Cubs,” and I say “So what.”  We pay a lot of money to be “the home of the Cubs,” so I’m not going to apologize for it helping us bring in a massive audience.

We’re not the flagship for the Bears, but we use “Bears Monday” and “Bears Friday” where we fill the shows with Bears content.  We’re not the flagship, but we have days where we can legally use the “Bears” name and brand.

Ryan Maguire – The trick, besides monetizing being a flagship, is finding a way to take the broadcast cume and turn it into listening during primetime, M-F 6a-7p.

There is no replacement for live sports.  We live in an era of “on-demand,” and you don’t need to listen to your favorite radio show or watch you favorite television show live because you can access it later on-demand.  There’s no replacement though for live sports.

Experiential things from a rights deal is important.  Getting tickets to give to sponsors, not only to games, but other events going on at the stadium.

If a competing station is the flagship, you can do a longer pre and post-game show, build better shows, offer better coverage.  Encroach on the flagship space until you get pushed back.  It’s always better to ask for forgiveness, not permission.

Chris “Hoss” Neupert – We can get so deep in the rabbit hole of being controlled by a right’s deal and needing to provide them with so much programming.  We were the flagship station of the Rams, but since they’ve moved to Los Angeles our ratings have stayed strong and even increased.  We cover the team, but we don’t try to alienate the audience.

Use your rights deals to help you gain better access to coaches and players to help drive more listening to your weekday shows.  Tickets are always important too for listening and sales purposes.

Showcase the games even if you don’t have them on your station.  It’s OK to talk about games broadcast on other stations, both on-air and through social media.  It tells fans where to find them and they’re not dumb.  They’ll appreciate you more for your approach.  They’ll also come back to listen and react on your airwaves.

When you’re not the flagship you can be more honest and you can market yourself that way.  Most flagship pre and post-game shows are based around ads and crappy features, so be better than that.  Talent matters and you can build a better show with honest coverage.

CLOSING:  JB then went around the room with each programmer asking for their takeaways from the two-day event.  Many applauded BSM for putting on an action packed show but JB reminded them that it only works when programmers take the initiative to get out of the office and invest in their own development.  Even if someone isn’t able to attend a BSM programming summit, getting to a different event and picking up a few new tricks is critical to a brand leader’s professional development.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Barrett Blogs

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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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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