Connect with us
BSM Summit
blank

Barrett Blogs

Lessons Learned at the BSM Chicago Programming Summit

Jason Barrett

Published

on

When I’m in the moment it can be difficult to enjoy and appreciate the wins. My mind is always thinking about the next challenge or the previous one and what I could have done differently to be more effective. But this week, I’ve allowed myself a little bit of time to reflect back on the BSM Chicago programming summit because this was a brand new experience.

The idea first entered my mind two and a half years ago when I traveled to Chicago for the Podcast Movement Conference. Anytime I’m on the road, I try to find a few local sports radio people to connect with in person. I believe that’s an important part of keeping relationships strong.

During that trip, I dropped by to see Mitch Rosen and Adam Delevitt at each of their offices. When Mitch showed off the Blue Cross Blue Shield Performance Stage area and said “if you do a future conference, keep Chicago in mind” my mind started racing.

I liked Chicago because it’s not only an incredible city, but it’s centrally located. I felt that would make it easier for all who were traveling. I also knew Mitch and Adam were friends despite competing for local ratings bragging rights, and that’s a positive because when you’re considering putting on an event, you want both local brands to be part of it. The event may occur in one company’s building, but having local balance is important.

What stood out most from last week’s summit was how many smart, talented and passionate radio programmers made the trip to share thoughts and ideas on how to evolve our format. We had 20-30 brand leaders in the room, along with a number of exceptional speakers with experiences in a variety of areas related to our business. I wasn’t sure going into the summit if the room would welcome straight-talk on real issues facing our business, but much of the pre-conference feedback suggested that another rah-rah speech on the radio business wasn’t necessary and having honest discussions about ways to improve was important.

I could feel the passion and candor for the topics we explored. That energy grew from session to session. Given that the room consisted of executives from Entercom, Bonneville, Hubbard, iHeart, Cumulus, Beasley, Emmis, Tribune, NRG Media, ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio, SiriusXM, VSiN, and the Chernin Group, it allowed us to spread our wings and have more meaningful conversations rather than just echoing one point of view.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you can see some of the videos that were recorded during the two-day summit, but I also want to pass along a few things that stood out while listening and conducting on-stage conversations.

  • Sarah Spain and Jason Goff (along with Dan Zampillo) were tremendous on the subject of diversity in sports radio. It’s not easy to be open and honest on a topic like this, especially in front of a number of people who could potentially impact a future paycheck, but they were. I’ve written about this subject before, and have called on our format leaders to step up their efforts to expand the audience and showcase more personalities from various backgrounds. The US population is nearly 50% female and 40% minority yet the representation on sports radio stations is far below that. 13% of M-F hosting jobs belong to minorities and only 12 women are installed as M-F show hosts. Making that even more perplexing is that the overall listening audience is 92% “Other” (white) and 8% minority. One may say “if it’s 92% then you have to superserve them” but I submit that the ceiling has been reached doing it that way, and the real growth is in bringing more minority and female listeners into the sports radio tent.
  • Jon Miller of Nielsen and Larry Rosin of Edison Research provided deep dives into the sports radio ratings picture, and growth opportunities in podcasting and smart speakers. PD’s know that digital/social content is a vital part of their present and future, but challenges remain for getting full ratings credit for it. Nielsen is trying to find permanent solutions to satisfy their clients and although that may frustrate programmers in the short-term, a long-term mindset is needed when connecting with an audience. Seeing the data of how podcasting and smart speaker consumption has grown, it makes business sense to continue creating content in those spaces. The questions every programmer should be asking are “How is my brand standing out in those spaces” and “How easy is it to find my station and on-air content on smart speakers and podcasting platforms?”
  • I loved the spirited discussion on social media benefits and pitfalls with Danny Parkins, Scott Shapiro and sports agent Barry Meister. I showed a few social media examples involving sports media members, some which may have raised an eyebrow or two in the room. Given that the panel included perspectives from a host, agent and executive, it allowed everyone to better understand how each person thinks and operates when grey areas are reached. Between debating which examples warranted punishment and whether or not social media provided enough of a financial reward for the amount of risks it involves, we couldn’t have had three better people weighing in on an important yet imperfect subject.
  • If there was a moment which made every PD stop in their tracks, it was when Laurel Cline of Wintrust Financial said “Until today I don’t think I’ve ever met a sports radio program director.” Unfortunately that’s pretty common in our format. It served as a great reminder that account executives and market managers must do a better job of involving their PD’s in bigger sales discussions. Not to be excused, programmers must also make it a higher priority to help their sales teams. I showed examples in one of my sessions of how certain brands miss the mark with branded content. It’s because social platforms are used as a dumping ground for ads and PD’s turn a blind eye because they’re focused on the radio airwaves. When you look at the lack of reach and engagement on those sales posts, put yourself in the client’s shoes and ask, “Why would I spend more money with a brand when the evidence shows that they can’t deliver one like or share for my business?” Look at how Barstool, Bleacher Report, Vice, Whistle Sports, etc. produce branded content. They weave clients seamlessly into programming, and that’s something we must do better too. It starts by getting reps, clients and PD’s into the room together and thinking beyond the speaker.
  • Hearing Tim Spence of KHOW and Orange & Blue 760 moderate a discussion with Todd Manley of WGN, Brian Long of XTRA 1360/Newsradio 600 KOGO and Chris Kinard of 106.7 The Fan on The Trump Effect and sports radio’s challenges with choosing whether to embrace or ignore topics involving the President and life/social issues was really interesting. I thought John Hanson of 610 Sports summed it up best at the conclusion of the summit when he said “No matter how experienced you are in this business, you’re not experienced in this. I’ve made mistakes. My talent have called me out on them, and they were right. It’s something we’re all trying to figure out together.”
  • Anytime David Kaplan and Laurence Holmes share a stage together you’re in for a real treat. Hearing them share their insights with Jeff Rickard on the business, how they prepare and use social media, what they need most/least from a program director, etc. was excellent. The passion these Chicago hosts have for our format was evident, and if you have 50-minutes to spare, watch their session. It was very entertaining.
  • Sports stations struggle to give their brands a social media voice. Personalities are popular on their own accounts, but future ad dollars in the social space will be reduced if you can’t create impact. I thought Dan Moriarty of the Chicago Bulls, Jen Tulicki of the Chicago Bears and Brad Boron of the Chicago White Sox gave great insight on the way teams operate. They face the same challenges, except they’ve done a better job of using personality and strategy with their approach. Jen pointed out that any post made by the Bears takes into account the words “tough and humble.” Dan’s mention of the Bulls six pillars (Human, Iconic, Timely, Thumb Stopping, Inclusive and Differentiating) and how no piece of content should be published unless it checks at least three of those boxes and never wanders beyond those areas was eye opening. He also noted that the Bulls employ 2-3 FT digital content creators and 2-3 seasonal employees, and their challenge is to take one piece of content and find 10-12 ways to promote that material across multiple platforms in different ways. Jen’s insights on being comfortable with infrequent activity on Snapchat and placing a larger emphasis on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram made a ton of sense given that the audience size is smaller. Perhaps the biggest takeaway for radio folks though was when the subject of sports stations posting 50x per day on Facebook came up. Jen said it best “Nobody likes that annoying friend who won’t shut up.” Dan followed with “That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen….posting that much only makes sense if you’re using video where the numbers are huge. Otherwise, it’ll cost you followers.”
  • Jim Cutler‘s speech on ways to image your radio station successfully was inspiring. He showed samples of ways to help or hurt your brand, and his airing of thirty seconds of “Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah” reinforced the point of just how long that amount of time is and why it’s critical to make good use of it or risk losing your audience. I also thought his input on not boasting you’re great but letting your audience say it for you was smart. Perhaps his most memorable quote during the session was “a line draws a line” and that’s something every programmer should take into account when trying to reinforce the position of being a dominant performer in their local markets.
  • We were also fortunate to hear from Mitch Rosen, Ryan Maguire and Chris “Hoss” Neupert on winning with/without play by play. Justin Craig offered valuable insights on satisfying the fan experience and across multiple platforms. Mike Thomas shared his wisdom on how to make your sports radio station rock thru imaging. Chad Millman of the Action Network and Bill Adee of VSiN chatted with Joe Ostrowski about the future of sports betting and why it’s a huge category for sports radio folks. Dave Zaslowsky conducted an engaging conversation with three millennials, Bernie Goin, Julio Rausseo and Joey Alexander about the way they use and view sports media brands. And I scared the heck out of a few folks by offering some input on the future of the PD role, the missed opportunity with merchandising and other areas of the business we should be looking at in my Sports Radio Re-imagined and BSM Blitz sessions.

Altogether the event was a great success. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Entercom Chicago for providing a great room and a professional staff which helped us deliver a positive experience for all in attendance. Now that the summit is in the rear view mirror, I’ve got a few things in mind that I’d tweak if I chose to hold a second one. For those who weren’t there but have kept up via the website or social media, should this be done again in the future? I’ll take your feedback at JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

I do believe that independent conferences like this are important. Many companies do a great job of bringing their employees together for annual learning, but that just reinforces your internal beliefs and opinions. It doesn’t expose you to different ideas, strategies and people, and there are certainly many other ways to grow ratings and revenue.

It took months of hard work to make this a reality. I didn’t charge a dime for it even though many said I should. In fact, I spent money doing it, but I believe it’s a worthwhile investment. I don’t go into things like this with my hands out or an expectation that it’ll lead to follow up business. I obviously hope it does, but I trust that if I produce good content, bring people together, and teach the business to those in positions to grow it, then companies will find ways to utilize me to help them. That doesn’t always happen, and sometimes it can be frustrating and make me question if industry people value outside support, but I quickly get past those moments of doubt, and return my focus and energy to doing what I love, trying to make our business better.

One thing I’d like to see improve down the road should we do this again is the attendance from market managers. I realize sales are vital and getting out of the building isn’t always easy, but the reason every brand holds a significant place in the hearts and minds of the audience is because of the programming. We have some incredible station managers in this format, and when big decisions have to be made to a programming lineup or an adjustment is needed for a brand’s digital, social or on-air strategy, it helps to be as informed as one can be. Given that there are people involved in the two-day affair beyond the terrestrial radio space, there’s no shortage of information or ideas to help people grow.

Think of it like this, if the PD of your radio station is Steven Spielberg, and your talent are Tom Hanks or Al Pacino, the more you know about the creation, execution and promotion of the film, the better it will perform at the box office. And in that case, you’ll still be helping the bottom line!

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

Continue Reading
Advertisement blank
Advertisement blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2022 Barrett Media.