Nine months. That’s how much time was invested in putting together the 2019 BSM Summit. It seems crazy that a two day event could require so much time and energy, but it did. In the end though, it was well worth it.
I’m a perfectionist by nature, so there’s plenty I’ll look back on and say ‘we should’ve done this, we didn’t we do that’ but if I never did another thing in the sports radio industry, I can look back fondly knowing I brought the industry together. I saw over 150 media professionals from 30+ companies grace the halls of the Grammy Museum last week in Los Angeles, sharing insights and ideas on stage, interacting in the halls, toasting one another at the cocktail reception, and coming together for a common cause – to gain information, increase relationships, and work towards lifting the sports radio format to higher levels.
I didn’t think that was possible when I decided to roll the dice and turn this small private event into a bigger industry show. Sports radio folks aren’t often found at radio conferences. They have a tendency to become attached to their offices and studios. Fortunately though this event drew a favorable response.
Don Martin said it best at the end of the summit, ‘kinship matters, and it’s important that we work together to raise the level of this format.” That’s so true. We spend so much time worrying about crushing each other that we forget that there are a lot more stations not delivering sports talk radio content and taking money and ratings out of our format. In the television world sports is king, but in radio, we’ve got a lot more work to do to improve the overall perception.
We’re operating at a time where economic projections for radio are flat to down over the next few years. I made this point during my Under The Radar session that programmers need to think more like business executives, instead of ratings chasers. Yes the content and coaching matters, but a true brand leader invests themselves in the success of the entire organization. That means sales, events, marketing, and examining all aspects of an organization, and what it isn’t taking advantage of that could potentially be a new avenue towards additional revenue.
Reflecting back on the two days, it was a blast sharing the stage with so many great people. We captured a ton of video, audio, and photos. I’ll be sorting thru all of it in the days and weeks ahead, and making some of it available on the BSM website, BSM Podcast, and thru my social media channels, so stay tuned.
As far as the sessions were concerned, it was cool putting Bruce Gilbert and Mike Thomas together. The two brothers are well accomplished, and had never been on a panel. That blew my mind. It reminded me that it’s vital to create fun sessions, understand who’s attending your event, and introduce fresh voices and faces.
Personally, I was very proud to introduce awards in the name of Jeff Smulyan and Tony Bruno, and offer the industry’s respects to both men. What each of them has accomplished in this business was well worth recognizing. Having Eric Shanks, Rick Cumings, Kraig Kitchin, and Clay Travis part of those awards ceremonies made it even more special.
Anytime I can spend thirty to forty minutes talking shop with Jim Rome, Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock, Marcellus Wiley, Eric Bischoff, Mitch Rosen, Dan Zampillo, and Don Martin it’s a great day. I also loved going outside of the content area and chatting about business with Steve Shanks, Jill Albert, Lisa Nichols-Jell, and David Gow.
As a spectator I loved watching my good friend Jim Cutler wow the crowd with his fantastic session on imaging. Jim sees more copy than anyone, and he has a tremendous passion for this format. When he offers his insights on how to stand out creatively thru the speakers, I’m a sponge for the information. Hopefully every PD in that room was paying attention.
It was also a lot of fun leading Doug Gottlieb down the hall to surprise Adam Klug, Jim Graci, and Eric Johnson after they critiqued part of his show on stage. All three programmers handled it great, and Doug was awesome as well. Here’s a guy who’s been hosting shows across the country for over a decade, and his first words to the panel were ‘you said I took too long to get into the content…..and you were absolutely right.’
The conversation Mike Salk conducted with Ramona Shelburne, Steve Wyche and Bruce Feldman on reporting, which included expectations when appearing on sports radio brands was also excellent. I thought Demetri Ravanos delivered a similar experience when he explored ways to stand out in digital and social media with Pat Muldowney, David Feldman, and Phil Mackey.
Having Brian Long share time on stage with Mason & Ireland allowed all in attendance to get a feel for why John and Steve have been such a consistent force in Los Angeles. I also liked how Jason Dixon moderated the Inside vs. Outside Thinking panel with Ryan Hatch, Chris Kinard, Justin Craig, and Scott Shapiro. That was a lot of programming power on one stage.
For those in search of information, Steven Goldstein, Warren Kurtzman, and Norm Pattiz hosted sessions on podcasting, smart speakers, research, and monetizing digital. We also ventured into eSports and sports betting with Joe Fortenbaugh moderating a chat with Brian Musburger, Chad Millman, and Kip Levin, and Arash Markazi talking with Ari Segal, Jared Jeffries, Daniel Cherry, and Sebastian Park.
The most powerful session though belonged to Emily Austen. I’m so happy for her that she was able to share her story with people, and continue the process of moving forward. We all make mistakes in life, and I’ve never been the type to close a door on someone who screwed up.
Emily and I met on radio row this year, and I was aware of her screwup on Barstool Sports. She didn’t try to make excuses for it, she was accountable. She sought to use her mistake as an example to help others, and leading up to the conference I knew she’d move the room. I watched some of the video clips she sent me, and they were uncomfortable. I wondered how people at the event would react to such hateful and disgusting remarks on the screen, and decided to air them without editing because real life situations aren’t always pretty. Regardless of where she goes in the future, I know there are people who left that room with a different perspective thanks to her willingness to be vulnerable.
One of my favorite personal moments was sitting on stage hosting the Women in Sports Media panel listening to Amanda Gifford share her wisdom with the audience. To think that fifteen years ago Amanda was my intern on ESPN Radio’s GameNight, and now here we were having an important discussion together on stage was a very cool moment. I thought Amanda, Lindsay McCormick, Debbie Spander, and Julie Stewart-Binks were fantastic, and provided a great reminder of why it’s vital for sports radio to continue adding female voices to the on-air presentation.
Just as important as providing a beneficial on-stage experience was, it was also necessary to have some fun. The private cocktail party at Tom’s Urban was well attended, and went so good that I actually reached into the wallet and added some expense to extend it an hour. It was going too well to shut it down after sixty minutes.
I want to thank Ryan Hatch for picking up on how we promoted the BSM Summit leading up to the show. We had a strategic vision for creating written content, and everyone on the BSM writing staff got into the act and did a tremendous job 4-6 weeks out to build up additional buzz. To all who lent their time sharing feedback with our writers, I greatly appreciate it.
There were a few takeaways that I couldn’t end this column without pointing out. I learned that Colin Cowherd REALLY likes Evan Cohen, Jim Cutler’s bullshit button brings out the kid in all of us, attendees feared front row seats more than losing a meter, the Dolly Parton exhibit in the Grammy Museum had more fans than I initially expected, Josh Innes, Tony Bruno, Joe Fortenbaugh, and Mark Zinno showed that no matter how talented and successful they are as on-air talent, they still care about learning new things to get better, and Bruce Gilbert won the conference with his memorable quote ‘podcasts are the new assholes, everybody’s got one’.
I’ve since begun seeking out feedback from those who attended to find out what we could’ve done better. I’ve learned over the past four years from attending industry shows that nothing is ever perfect, even if that’s the goal. My hope is that attendees were able to take something back to their brands to further grow their business, and that the experience was enjoyable enough to want to attend again in the future.
Where I do have to make adjustments is with my personal involvement creating the show. I put way too much on my plate this year. I created every session, the BSM Summit website, the on-site program, every powerpoint (except Cutler, Austen, Goldstein, and Kurtzman who brought their own) display, and I tracked down 99% of the speakers. I also sold every sponsorship. Trying to do all of that while continuing to listen and talk to clients, write, podcast, and pursue new opportunities is difficult.
Thankfully I had great on-site support from my team of Demetri, Tyler, Brandon, and Stephanie, and excellent video work from Brandon Burgess of The King of Dreams, but going forward, I’ve got to add a few extra hands to make things easier. That’s a good problem to have, it means we’re growing.
Speaking of support, I couldn’t have pulled off this event without the help of Premiere Networks, FOX Sports Radio, ESPN, PodcastOne, Compass Media Networks, Hubbard Radio, Harker Research, and Benztown Branding. These groups placed their faith in me, and I hope that you’ll do the same for them by checking out their brands, programs, people, and websites.
I also want to recognize Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock. I traveled to Los Angeles in October to do a site review of the Grammy Museum, and during my visit I stopped by the FOX lot to meet up with both of them. I hadn’t built one session or secured one speaker when I asked them each to participate in the conference. Without hesitation they both said yes. They gave us a much needed boost to attract other great people, and I greatly appreciate them doing so.
It was also a pleasure seeing an increase in market managers, and industry executives in the room. To those who made the trip, thank you for doing so. I’m well aware that programmers, agents, and talent will support the show, but this format needs everyone involved, not just those responsible for content. Moving forward, I’m determined to bring more GM’s and industry leaders into this conversation. I also think if you’re a talent looking to improve, and advance your career, you’re missing a huge opportunity not being here. There is no other event where you’re going to cross paths with more than 40-50 radio bosses.
I’ll wrap this up by adding that I love the sports radio format. I believe it deserves much more credit and investment than it currently receives. The personalities are household names locally and nationally. The brands they operate on are an integral part of listener’s lives, and the associations stations have with professional sports franchises provide another meaningful way for advertisers to benefit.
Some radio groups have a tendency to overlook this format’s ability to deliver significant results. Advertisers can be guilty of doing the same. Maybe that’s due to some brands still broadcasting on AM, measurement remaining challenged, the format being too narrow focused on Men 25-54, and radio not being considered as sexy as other platforms. But I’ve seen firsthand how this format produces strong returns for clients. So much of turning the corner involves pulling for each other, taking chances, and telling our story. We’ve got to continue doing that if we want to generate bigger ratings and dollars.
I’ve made it my life’s mission to advocate for this format, and help brands, and people create larger success. Whether I work with a station or not, I’ve tried to be a valuable resource to anyone I come in contact with. I’m a believer that if you do good work and have a good reputation, when the time is right, people will seek you out to help them. Hopefully down the line we’ll have a chance to do some business together, but even if we don’t, I hope to see you at the 2020 BSM Summit.
Now just one question remains, where should we hold it? Click here to cast your vote.
Black Friday Sale TODAY For 2022 BSM Summit Tickets
“BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets will begin at 12:01am ET on Friday November 26th and expire at 11:59pm later that same night.”
There are less than 100 days remaining until the 2022 BSM Summit takes place in New York City. We’ve announced 31 participants for the show so far, and have more to reveal in the weeks and months ahead. I think you’re going to like what’s still to come.
Putting this conference together isn’t easy. It requires months of meetings, brainstorming, promotion, selling sponsorships, pursuing speakers, and creating everything that attendees see on stage over a two day period. I’m thankful to have help from some amazing partners, but as I’ve mentioned previously, this isn’t an event that makes us rich or ends with 5-10 new clients signing up to work with BSM. The goal each year is simple, make sure the conference is valuable for those who attend, and don’t run BSM out of business by doing it. As long as those two things remain solid, it’s worth doing.
Some might wonder, why go thru months of headaches if you’re not going to break the bank or immediately add clients. That’s fair to ask. If you look at it from a pure business standpoint, one could easily make a case that pouring this type of energy into something else could be more lucrative. But money was never the motivation for doing this. I felt the sports media industry lacked a signature event where smart, successful media professionals (who don’t often cross paths) could gather at one location to laugh and learn together, and I wanted to change that. If over a two day period attendees could gain insight, information, ideas, and introductions, it’d put everyone in a stronger position to remain successful.
I’ve unapologetically loved the sports media business since I started listening to Mike & the Mad Dog on WFAN and watching SportsCenter on ESPN. I was fortunate to live and work in a number of cities over the past two decades, learning how different companies and people operate, and I remain involved today thru my work with BSM. I mention this because I also know media people. They tend to wait until the last minute to book hotel rooms, airfare, and purchase tickets, even if they can save money by acting sooner. I know, I used to do it too. I can’t control when you book your room or plane ticket, but I do want to give you an added incentive to buy your ticket to this year’s show. Seating is limited, and once the last seat is filled, that’s it. We can’t make extra room.
With that in mind, most of you are either taking today off or working inside a much quieter building. If you’ve thought about coming to the Summit, take 5-10 minutes to log on to BSMSummit.com to take advantage of our special Black Friday sale. We’ve reduced tickets for the day, so whether you’re planning to attend in NYC or watch the conference online, there’s a discount to help you out. Just $199.99 for live tickets, and $124.99 for virtual.
BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets expires at 11:59pm tonight. In the meantime, Hotel Edison in NYC is offering rooms for just $109 + taxes to Summit attendees. Click here to take advantage of the special room rate we’ve secured for this year’s show. Those of you planning to fly to NYC for the show, there have been a ton of great deals offered by American, Southwest, United, JetBlue and Frontier. It might be worth checking into today since Black Friday often has even better sales on travel.
If you’re interested in learning more about the industry, staying a step ahead, forming new relationships, strengthening existing ones, exploring potential business deals, and celebrating the business you’re in, I hope you’ll join us either online or in New York City for the 2022 BSM Summit. I’m making it easier on you, by offering lower ticket prices today. The rest is up to you!
Craig Carton, Fred Toucher, Mike Felger To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit
“Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.”
When you talk to industry people about successful brands in sports talk radio, most conversations include WFAN and 98.5 The Sports Hub. The New York and Boston sports radio brands are consistently recognized for their ability to deliver large audiences and revenues.
Helping to create that success is a mixture of strong play by play partnerships, skilled programmers and even more importantly, some of the most dynamic on-air personalities in the format. Fortunately for us, a few of those gamechangers will be present to share their opinions and insights on content matters in New York City at the 2022 BSM Summit.
Starting in New York, it’s an honor to welcome WFAN afternoon drive host Craig Carton to the 2022 BSM Summit. Heard daily on ‘Carton and Roberts‘ alongside Evan Roberts, which is also featured on TV on SNY, Carton has made his presence felt ever since returning to the airwaves in November 2020. Prior to taking on the challenge in afternoons, Craig spent a decade partnering with Boomer Esiason on ‘Boomer and Carton‘, forming one of the most successful sports radio morning shows in the country. In addition to enjoying success in New York, Craig has also experienced the ups and downs that come with performing in different markets. His radio travels have taken him to Philadelphia, Denver, Buffalo and Trenton, NJ. The Syracuse graduate and outspoken host is expected to join BSM President Jason Barrett for a one on one conversation at this year’s Summit.
Shipping up to Boston, it’s a pleasure to welcome two of the format’s highest rated performers to New York City. They’re heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub in morning and afternoon drive, and at the Summit, they’ll interact together during an in-depth content conversation with BSM President Jason Barrett.
Fred Toucher is one half of the Sports Hub’s popular morning show ‘Toucher & Rich‘, which recently added syndication. The Detroit native started his career in Georgia before moving to Boston in 2005. Toucher & Rich, which includes Rich Shertenlieb, officially moved into the sports talk format in 2009. Since making the format switch, the duo have consistently produced some of the best ratings in the entire format in mornings during the past fifteen years. Toucher & Rich have also been recognized by industry executives as one of the top two morning shows in the format each of the past three years in the BSM Top 20, including taking top honors in 2018.
Mike Felger on the other hand is heard on the ride home alongside Tony Massarotti on The Sports Hub. The Marconi Award-winning afternoon radio show has been a fixture in Boston since the station’s inception in 2009. During the past twelve years, Felger & Mazz have been a steady force atop the Men 25-54 ratings including recently delivering an impressive 18.9 share in the summer book to finish 1st. The Milwaukee native also hosts a show for NBC Boston, and has previously served as a columnist for the Boston Globe. Similar to Toucher & Rich, Felger & Mazz have earned high praise from format execs in the BSM Top 20. They’ve been voted one of the top 2 afternoon shows each of the past 2 years including grabbing the top spot in 2019.
We’re excited to add all three of these men to the lineup for the 2022 BSM Summit. As vital as it may be to spend time on business issues in order to stay ahead of a rapidly changing media climate, without great talent and content, the rest is irrelevant. Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.
To reserve your hotel room, purchase tickets or learn more about the speakers we’ve lined up for the 2022 show, visit BSMSummit.com. We hope to see you online or in New York City this March.
BSM Summit Adds Borrell, Crain, Cutler, Goldstein, Scott, Shapiro & Thomas
“The Summit is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited.”
The 2022 BSM Summit continues to add firepower to the sports media industry’s premier conference. After previously announcing the first twenty one participants to take part in March’s event in New York City, another seven talented media professionals have been added to the speaker schedule.
Making his BSM Summit debut in 2022 will be the media industry’s leading business analyst Gordon Borrell. The well respected and accomplished CEO of Borrell Associates is featured frequently in the trades and mainstream publications for his insights on advertising trends and forecasts in local media. Borrell will join Amplifi Media CEO Steven Goldstein on stage at the Summit for an in-depth discussion on the advertising climate in 2022. The two men will offer insights and opinions on what advertisers value most, where they’re expected to invest future dollars, which categories will continue to rise and decline, and what brands can do to position themselves better to increase revenue. Additionally, Borrell will be hosting his local advertising conference in Miami a few days after the Summit. Those interested in heading to South Beach and learning more about the marketing world can learn more by clicking here.
Switching to the content end, the Summit is thrilled to welcome The Volume’s Jake Crain to New York City. The host of The JBoy Show will also be making his debut at the conference. Crain will be part of a talent panel along with John Jastremski and Kazeem Famuyide.
Also making his debut at the Summit will be Carl Scott. Meadowlark Media’s Executive Director of Audio will join our podcasting panel featuring Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones and The Volume’s Head of Content Logan Swaim. Hubbard Radio’s Digital Content Director Phil Mackey will guide the conversation.
Not everyone participating at the Summit will be new to the audience though. Returning to the stage as part of our GM’s discussion will be newly appointed Audacy Boston Market Manager Mike Thomas. Thomas recently led ESPN 1000 in Chicago as the station’s GM after working with Mark Hannon to turn 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston into one of sports radio’s top performing stations. It should be noted that each time Thomas appears at the Summit it follows a recent promotion. We figure by 2023 or 2024 he’ll be running the entire industry.
A Summit isn’t complete without attention given to programming matters. To help us address some of those key issues, we’re excited to welcome back the Vice President of FOX Sports Radio & Podcasts Scott Shapiro. The passionate network executive who oversees many of the nation’s top national programs is always a great listen for folks interested in learning how programmer’s view and tackle the industry’s most important affairs.
Last but certainly not least, voice talent extraordinaire Jim Cutler will return to the stage to lead a session on storytelling. One of the industry’s prominent station voices and creative minds has a penchant for putting on entertaining and informative sessions. If you’ve attended the conference before, you’re already aware. To those planning to catch this one, you’re in for a treat.
Keep an eye out over the next two weeks. We’ll be making additional announcements involving a few high profile talents we’ve lined up for the 2022 BSM Summit. A reminder, the event is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited. I realize some folks may prefer to wait until the last minute to make sure the world is safe. If you’re not comfortable flying to NY for the show, we do have an option in place to enjoy the conference virtually thanks to NuVoodoo Media. For more information on tickets, click here.
That said, the in-person environment is excellent. If you haven’t attended the Summit before I think you’ll find the two days in New York City to be time well spent. This conference is not open to the general public. You must either presently work in an area of the media industry or be pursuing a degree in the broadcasting field.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we still have some sponsorship opportunities available for the show. We’re thrilled to have the support of great partners, ESPN Radio, Premiere Networks, FOX Sports Radio, Stone Voiceovers, Compass Media Networks, Point to Point Marketing, and Core Image Studio. If you’d like to be part of the event too, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com for additional details.
One final note, airfare is low right now. There are roundtrip flights to and from New York from many major cities for less than $200.00. We’ve also secured a low hotel rate of $109.00 per night at Hotel Edison in NYC to help companies and individuals keep costs down. The sports media industry has endured two years of difficulty due to the pandemic, preventing many from networking, learning, celebrating, and growing. The two days we spend together in the big apple won’t solve every issue facing our business, but I promise you’ll leave the show more informed, more connected, and better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
Hope to see you in New York on March 2nd and 3rd.
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