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BSM’s 2019 Sports TV Draft: The Top 30 Shows of All-Time

“30 sports media writers, former TV execs, and social media personalities helped draft the Top 30 sports TV shows of all-time”

Jason Barrett

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Benjamin Franklin once said there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. I’d like to modify that quote by adding a third – a fascination with lists.

Since launching BSM, we’ve written thousands of pieces on personalities, news, strategy, ratings, and career advice. They’ve been well received, but pale in comparison to anything we’ve created involving lists. For four years straight our number one most read piece of content has been the BSM Top 20 in Sports Radio. The annual BSM Sports Radio Draft has also received strong support.

As proud as we are of those sports radio content specials and their ability to fuel discussion among sports media types, the amount of creative projects we’ve built around sports television has left much to be desired. So with an NBA Draft on the horizon, we began tossing ideas at the wall last month, and came up with an outline for a Sports TV Draft.

Since the NBA Draft features 30 picks per round, we thought it made sense to select the Top 30 shows of all-time. We focused on studio/live/produced shows because sitcoms, reality shows, and documentaries are different type of programs. We then created a document with 65 programs to choose from, figuring that some folks would likely want to add to it.

Next we had to decide who to include in the voting process. I thought it’d be fun to involve the nation’s top sports media writers and critics, media researchers, former TV executives, bloggers, and a few popular social media accounts, but wasn’t sure if we’d be able to drum up enough support to pull it off. To my surprise, most of the people I asked jumped in.

And that brings us to the actual draft.

Below you will see an image featuring our list of the Top 30 Sports TV Shows of All-Time as decided on by our voters. Underneath that image you’ll find a detailed explanation from each voter on what they liked about the show they selected. If you want to learn more about the shows, our voters or the companies they work for, we’ve made it easy for you. All you have to do is click the show name, company name or individual’s name and a new page will open up.

I want to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who participated in this project. Although lists are very subjective and determined by the order in which people select, this was fun to assemble, and we hope you enjoy reading it. With that in mind, here are the results of the 2019 BSM Sports TV Draft.

#1 – SportsCenterGerry Matalon, Matalon Media

For the sports fan, SportsCenter was the equivalent of the advent of the internet. The fan had access to information and video like never before. It was THE must-watch studio show of generation X, and a sports fan’s dream come true. 

NEVER before were fans able to get all the highlights, significant national news, analysis and discussion in an engaging manner, multiple times a day from hosts who would become icons in their own right. Every on-screen sports program since September of 1979 is a branch on the SportsCenter tree. Though the show might not have the significance it once had, SportsCenter has often been replicated, though never duplicated.

#2 – FOX NFL SundayPatrick Crakes, Crakes Media

FOX NFL Sunday showed America that FOX would keep its promise – to present the NFL in a modern, fun, but reverent way. Under David Hill, Ed Goren and Scott Ackerson’s vision and guidance the credibility, chemistry and flow of the show opened a new era in live sports commentary and became the flagship of the FOX Sports Brand.  The show was a paradigm shift operating on the assumption that most viewers were looking for something more than just information as they gathered to watch NFL games on Sunday. 

The amazing collection of unique personalities at the desk added something unique for mainstream NFL fans thirsty for a show that could “sugarcoat the information pill” with a modern sensibility.  JB, Terry, Howie and Jimmy were the “Guys you wanted to have a beer with at the bar and watch a game” and America embraced them. It was the beginning of a new era – one that saw FOX evolve on the back of FOX NFL Sunday into one the most important sports media brands in the world. Impressively, FOX NFL Sunday  remains as relevant, entertaining and fun today as it was in 1994, and it’s endurance, legacy and continued impact make the case for its place as one of the important live studio shows in sports TV history.

#3 – Pardon The InterruptionTim Scanlan, Octagon Sports

PTI revolutionized the sports studio program with the Topic Sidebar, the running clock, the simple props, and the PA announcer with corrections. The personalities of Tony and Michael were non-traditional and irreverent and the program looked ahead as much as it reacted to stories in sports.

#4 – Inside The NBAAndrew Marchand, New York Post

The show featuring probably the greatest studio analyst of all-time, Charles Barkley, at 4? Thank you very much. I considered ESPN’s College GameDay and, at its peak, NFL Primetime, with this pick, but Inside The NBA is so enjoyable for the basketball and non-basketball fan.

#5 – College GamedayRichard Deitsch, The Athletic

I’ve written many times over the years that I consider Inside The NBA the greatest sports studio show in history. If I had the No. 1 overall pick for this draft, it would have been an easy selection. But I am delighted to see that College GameDay remains on the board. This whole exercise is subjective but GameDay slots right behind Inside for me among all-time sports studio shows.

College football is best experienced in person, and GameDay has brought that experience into our homes for decades. As someone who lived for many years in New York City, GameDay allowed me to experience what it was like to be part of LSU football in Baton Rouge, Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and other places that were foreign yet fascinating to me. The on-air talent has always had intellect and chemistry; the show’s feature producers are the best in class. GameDay was also early among mainstream sports shows to highlight sports gambling info and has maintained a journalistic bent. It’s one of the best enterprises ESPN has done and I feel like I just got one of the steals of this draft. 

#6 – NFL PrimetimeChad Finn, Boston Globe

I thought about picking a relic of a wholly different age in sports television here, but choosing This Week In Baseball would have been an overdraft based on nostalgia. So instead I made a sentimental pick with more recent relevance.

From 1987 to 2005, Chris Berman and Tom Jackson made ESPN’s NFL Primetime an entertaining and, in a time before our phones gave us every highlight in real time, a practically essential way to see every meaningful nightlight from the day’s NFL action. Primetime was marginalized when NBC got the Sunday night package in 2006. But it won’t be forgotten. 

#7 – NFL RedZoneRyan Glasspiegel, The Big Lead

It’s almost unfair to pick this considering it encompasses live events, but the eight greatest words in the English language are when Scott Hanson says, “Seven hours of commercial-free football begin now.” Imagine reverting back to a world without it. If they ever try to put the genie back in that bottle, there will be torches and pitchforks in the streets.

#8 – Speak For YourselfMichael McCarthy, Front Office Sports

“Speak for Yourself” with Jason Whitlock and Marcellus Wiley is my choice at #8. They’re both ex-football players, and have some of the best, if not the best, NFL debates in the business with a constant stream of current and former players weighing in. Among the show’s most interesting guests in my opinion are James Harrison, Terry Bradshaw and Michael Vick.

#9 – The SportsWriters on TVNeil Best, Newsday

Long before it was commonplace for sportswriters to kibitz on camera, this groundbreaking syndicated show out of Chicago was a revelation in the mid-1980s, and begat several decades worth of copycats that have filled endless hours of cable TV time. Unlike their polished, better-dressed modern counterparts – who work on polished, better-appointed sets – these guys were rumpled, cigar-smoking throwbacks, offering among the first takes of countless ones to come.

#10 – REAL SportsBen Koo, Awful Announcing

I’m very happy with my selection of HBO Real Sports at #10. The standard bearer in sports journalism is closing in on 25 years of distinguished and culturally relevant work. Correspondents have come and gone and the show has undergone a few changes over the years but the quality and significance of their work continues to be must watch television for intellectually curious and thoughtful sports fans.

I haven’t missed an episode in more than a decade as the quality has never wavered nor has my interest in expanding my knowledge as a sports fan. Sure it often veers into serious and uncomfortable topics and controversy, but Real Sports has always had a  rich and eclectic mix of topics, personalities, and stories which has always been appointment viewing for me every month. I’m delighted to use my pick on a show as impactful and unique as Real Sports. 

#11 – Outside The LinesAustin Karp, Sports Business Daily

Among the smartest sports programming on TV. It doesn’t matter whether Bob Ley or Jeremy Schaap or Kate Fagan hosts. The topics are timely, and the show has stood the test of time.

#12 – Around The HornRobert Seidman, SportsTV Ratings

After SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and PTI it’s the longest-running daily show. As PTI’s lead-in it has consistently been one of ESPN’s best-performing studio shows.  It’s also been a great vehicle for ESPN to showcase new talent from Michael Smith & Jemele Hill, Mina Kimes, Sarah Spain, and Ramona Shelburne to Bomani Jones & Pablo Torre. As far as I know it’s also the only sports studio show ever parodied on NBC’s “30 Rock” — I tip my hat to Aaron Solomon, Tony Reali & everyone involved with the show.

#13 – Wide World of SportsDavid Barron, Houston Chronicle

I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the significance of what this show delivered during an era of black and white cathode ray tube TVs, 6 a.m. to midnight telecast schedules and filmed highlights that had to be delivered by airplanes rather than by satellite. It was like having an Olympics every Saturday, and it set the standard and the expectations for generations of broadcasters and viewers.

#14 – Garbage TimeWill Leitch, New York Magazine

My pick was between “Garbage Time” and “The Dan Patrick Show” — either is a steal with the 14th selection. It is EXTREMELY rare in the relentlessly repetitive, failing-up world of sports television to find an actual new, unique voice. Katie Nolan was (and is) different than everyone else working in sports TV, something that was obvious from her very first show. Plus, it’s impossible not to admire any show this good that was essentially filmed in a closet.

#15 – Baseball TonightFred Segal, Freezing Cold Takes

As with NFL Primetime, Baseball Tonight used to be an absolute must watch for me. Much like many other highlight-centric shows it has lost significant value nowadays as highlights and updates are instantly available on social media. However, back when I was growing up in the 90s, it was absolutely an essential watch for any baseball junkie.

Most of the time, watching the show was my first exposure to any of the highlights from the day’s games. The show also holds personal sentimental value for me as I used to watch it every night with my dad as he would track his fantasy baseball players. We used to sing the lead in song together, which in my opinion, is as iconic as the SportsCenter lead in song 🎵 Da…Da Da Da…Da DA 🎵.

#16 – TMZ SportsRobert Littal, Black Sports Online

The fact of the matter in 2019 is that people care more about the drama and viral news than what is going on, on the court or on the field. While many shows try to sprinkle in TMZish type of stuff, only TMZ does it full time.

#17 – The NFL TodayBrooks Melchior, Sports By Brooks

The NFL Today is arguably the most important studio show in sports television history. “In 1975 it introduced Americans to one of the most influential TV sports personalities in history, Brent Musburger. It was the first network studio show in history to include a woman, Phyllis George, an African-American, Irv Cross, and a professional handicapper, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, as fulltime on-air contributors.

It also played an early, pivotal role in popularizing the format which all NFL studio shows use today. In lieu of the NFL’s now-ubiquitous presence in the daily lives of Americans, it isn’t too much to say that the debut of The NFL Today with Musburger, George, Cross and Snyder represents a seminal moment in television history.

#18 – High NoonPaulsen, Sports Media Watch

While it’s too early to call it one of the best sports TV shows of all-time, I’ll still go with High Noon here. Sports talk is dominated by fake debates and overheated opinions, but High Noon is an exception. Nothing seems staged or done for the sake of clicks and pageviews. Plus Jones and Torre have excellent chemistry.

#19 – The George Michael Sports MachineArash Markazi, Los Angeles Times

Before every household in America had cable or satellite and you could see every sports highlight within seconds of it happening live on your phone, tablet or computer, there was only one way for someone like me, without cable, to see sports highlights every Sunday and that was on The George Michael Sports Machine. I recorded it every week on our VCR and I’d watch it again and again throughout the week. It was a show ahead of its time and the first sports show I religiously watched as a young sports fan.

#20 – Stump The SchwabBen Strauss, Washington Post

The fact that ESPN was, at a certain point in time, willing to build a show around a chubby career researcher is all you need to know about why this show deserves a spot on this list. And even if Schwab never quite carried the show, his array of throwback jerseys and Stuart Scott’s attempts to inject energy and cachet into what today would be considered a live action version of Sporcle is forever endearing.

#21 – E60 – Andrew Bucholtz, Awful Announcing

Since its 2007 launchE:60 has been one of ESPN’s more impressive commitments to journalism and storytelling. The news-magazine show has had a number of timeslot and network moves, including the 2017 shift to its current Sunday morning slot, but its pieces have always managed to make an impact. The show has won 16 Sports Emmys, including “Outstanding Sports News/Feature Anthology” and “Outstanding Short Sports Documentary” (for “Identity : Deland McCullough’s Journey,” which is a very worthy winner) this year, plus nine Edward R. Murrow Awards, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and much more.

E:60 has also shown a great ability to tell all sorts of stories, from pieces on kids facing incredible challenges (Josiah VieraOwen Hawkins) to deep investigations of deaths of migrant workers building World Cup stadiums in Qatar. It continues to be one of the best things ESPN does.

#22 – NFL MatchupJason Romano, Sports Spectrum

This was the show where I truly learned something new about the game of football in a way that no other show could provide. The downfall was that ESPN never gave it a great timeslot but man if you watched it, you walked away more knowledgeable about the NFL than you were 30 minutes earlier. The way they broke down film and showed you the intricacies of the game was always unique and special. Ron Jaworski, Merril Hoge and Sal Palantonio were fantastic.

#23 – Mike and the Mad DogDouglas Pucci, Programming Insider

“Aaaaaaaaand good afternoon everybody! How are you today!” yelled the Mad Dog. It’s the New York radio show that kicked off the sports talk genre in our country starting in the 90’s. It was the show I grew up listening to on WFAN as they discussed the legendary sports moments of the 90’s and 00’s like the Yankees world championship runs (especially the memorable Freeway of Love 1996 playoff run), the Rangers in ‘94, the Knicks playoff runs in the 90’s and Chris’ hilarious rants against the SF Giants.

Mike and the Mad Dog were also there for the big events of our world like the OJ trial and verdict and 9/11. Each host has succeeded in their own separate ventures – Mike still popular in the afternoon in NY radio, Chris on SiriusXM and MLB Network – but there was special magic when the two joined together to talk sports in front of the YES Network cameras.

#24 – Up CloseTom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Times

I figured Roy Firestone’s “Up Close” would be long gone before my 24th pick so I was pleasantly surprised to find it still available. My Plan B was to snag the Jim Rome franchise of shows – from “Talk2” in the early 90’s all the way to “The Jim Rome Show” today, spanning ESPN2, ESPN, Fox Sports, ESPN again, CBS Sports Net and a stop in there on Showtime.

Some quick history: “SportsLook” is the original title of the show that started in 1980 on the USA Network, then moved to ESPN as “Up Close,” with Firestone, a former sportscaster at the local CBS affiliate in L.A., as the host for 13 years. It was taped in L.A. so he had access to everyone coming and going. It was a simple premise: Firestone sits on the right, the guest is on the left, and they talk about all sorts of things about their sporting life. It relied on Firestone’s curiosity and research and what buttons to push.

Many tried to replicate the template to other shows with other hosts – there’s maybe no Bob Costas’ “On the Record” or even a version Rome was asked to launch with ESPN2 in the early 90’s. It all connects to the importance of Firestone creating a trustworthy space to show emotions – important especially with strong male athletes – knowing Firestone would calmly talk you through it and expose a side of yourself that wasn’t readily available in pre-social media times.

#25 – This Week in BaseballRob Tornoe, Philadelphia Inquirer

Growing up, I kept to a pretty strict schedule on Saturday mornings: eat a bowl of Rice Chex, watch some cartoons and tune into “This Week in Baseball.” Hosted by famed Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen, the mix of storytelling, music and crazy plays fueled my dreams of being the MVP of our neighborhood baseball game. And the show’s iconic theme song played like a soundtrack to summer. As Bill Simmons once put it, “My goosebumps just got goosebumps.”​

#26 – Inside The NFLJimmy Traina, Sports Illustrated

In a world without DirecTV, Sunday Ticket and Red Zone, there were two shows every NFL fan had to watch for highlights and cool features: NFL PrimeTime on ESPN and Inside the NFL on HBO. Each week, Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti (and later Cris Collinsworth) would recap the games from the week before and make picks for the upcoming week. One thing Inside the NFL had that NFL PrimeTime did not, since the show aired during the week and not immediately following games on Sunday, was footage of players and coaches mic’d up. These days, that doesn’t seem like a huge thing, but in the ‘80s, when the show was at its peak, it was must-see TV for football fans.

#27 – The Dan Le Batard Show with StugotzPerry Simon, All Access

I’m taking The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, because it a) treats sports with the reverence it deserves, meaning very little, and b) the show has a rhythm and internal logic that’s its own. It’s an acquired taste, it has the feel of a club to which not everyone’s invited, and hard core sports fanatics must hate it because they’ll blow off the obvious big sports story of the day to talk about something Dan finds more interesting (and complaints are met with “You don’t get the show!”), but it’s about as entertaining as a radio show with cameras in the studio can be.

Once you get the running gags (the Hard Network Out, “How ‘bout THAT?,” the Kentucky Fraud Chickens, etc.), you’re hooked whether you want to be or not. And the hot take machine that is Stugotz works as a neat parody of all the other hit takers out there. I think this and Highly Questionable (a sports show that isn’t really about sports at all) should be a tandem since they, in combination, are a sports talk universe separate and apart from the rest of ESPN and sports media in general. Since I can only pick one, I’ll go with the radio show, but it’s a coin flip.

#28 – Highly QuestionableAlex Putterman, Hartford Courant

Obviously HQ isn’t for everyone. If you want serious sports talk, from people whose veins nearly burst every time an NBA player asks for a trade, you’ll be better served elsewhere. But for those who believe sports are inherently fun (and, in a sense, inherently absurd), it’s hard to beat Dan Le Batard, a rotating cast of amusing guest hosts and, most importantly, Papi – in all his rapping, wise-cracking, fake-hand shaking glory.

#29 – The Dan Patrick ShowBobby Burack, The Big Lead

Dan Patrick has had one of the best sports radio shows in the country for years now. His show not only lands the most intriguing guests, but as the best interviewer in the business, Dan is able to get people to open up and create talking points around the industry. The show is fun and loose but can also get serious when needed.

Unlike most radio shows, the DP Show is actually better on television. The Man Cave leaves little doubt that Dan and the Danette’s are just five sports fans that we all want to hang and have a beer with. 

#30 – NBA Inside StuffDemetri Ravanos, Barrett Sports Media

With apologies to SportsCenter and Inside the NBA, if you are a 90’s kid, NBA Inside Stuff is the sports show of record. Honestly, this show should have been everyone’s first sign that they were just thinking differently at the NBA offices in New York. They created an all-access style show with interesting and fun content and rather than offer it in syndication or as part of their Sunday NBC package, they pair it with Saturday morning cartoons and market it to kids. It was a brilliant exercise in how to create lifelong fans!

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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