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NBA Free Agency Provides 4 Valuable Lessons For Brands

“This column isn’t about my deflated enthusiasm towards the New York Knicks. It’s about 4 key lessons for sports media brands tied to NBA free agency.”



Those who know me well are familiar with my lifelong frustration of being a New York Knicks fan. Each year the hype train comes to town promising big things for the future, only to deliver disappointment when fans ask for the payoff. Those wearing New York Knicks underoos will make excuses and continue holding on to hope, but those with a strong understanding of the franchise’s failures know how this story ends.

In the the span of one off-season, the Pelicans lost Anthony Davis and Julius Randle yet feel much closer to being a playoff team. The Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Indiana Pacers all lost key players yet made moves to stay in contention atop the Eastern Conference. The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Golden State Warriors all were aggressive making moves to try and chase future championships. The Knicks meanwhile sell their fans on a rebuilding project once again.

But this column isn’t about my deflated enthusiasm towards the Knicks’ organization. It’s about four key lessons for sports media brands which just happen to connect to things we’ve learned in the past few days involving NBA free agency.

#1 – Substance Over Hype – How many times do you turn on a radio station and hear them touting their ‘best coverage’ yet it leaves little to be desired? How can you actually prove your brand has the best coverage anyway? If you have big guests and your competitor has the actual games, do you really have the best coverage? If the roles are reversed there’s an argument there too.

Maybe your radio station is promising a big announcement later in the day and is trying to get the audience excited about. What makes the payoff significant to the audience and not just those working inside the radio station? As someone who’s used announcements to drive quarter hour listening in the past, there’s a big difference between adding a game changer to the product and a solid weekly guest who people won’t go out of their way to listen to.

While it’s important to highlight our brand’s coverage and promote good content from people the audience is aware of, it’s not a smart decision to make it sound bigger than it actually is. You can actually piss off the audience and lose their trust if they feel underwhelmed.

#2 – Know When To Stay Silent – If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t brag about what you’re going to do and then issue excuses when you come up short. A perfect example of this is the Knicks’ response to not signing Kyrie or Durant.

The brands that perform best are the ones that do their work in the background and then speak when there’s something to discuss. It’s one thing to build interest in your talent, content, promotions, etc. but the more you talk, the more likely you are to have to explain something later, and the media loves to bury those who portray themselves and their brands in a cocky way.

This also applies to how you manage your talent. If you’re the type of executive who thinks he’s going to ‘coach up’ every single personality, including your brand’s all-stars, be prepared for them to vacate when other options are on the table. Micromanaging is a recipe for disaster. You have to learn who you can trust to deliver results, give them the tools they need to succeed, and then get out of the way. If you can’t, word will spread on your inability to manage big stars, and that will keep other big stars away.

#3 – It’s All About The Talent – This is the most important of all. Whether it’s the NBA, the NFL or Sports Radio or Television, you win and lose with talent. Without difference makers on the court, field or airwaves, you won’t excel. It’s that simple. There are many routes to go to introduce prospects but without proven performers you won’t maximize your business.

Whether you like it or not, we operate in a win-now world. Advertisers want immediate results. So too does your company. The members in your building expect the same. Depending on where your brand is in its development, sometimes you’ll receive a longer leash, but most groups are not going to give you 3-5 years to create a masterpiece.

Though the programmer or market manager may understand this, companies need to recognize it too. People are attracted to people who they consider larger than life. A brand must have big personalities who attract love, hate, and everything in between. It’s not as much about the content as it is who’s selling it. If you put players on the air who people care enough to seek out, you’ll have a ratings and revenue story to sell.

#4 – Have a Plan But Know When To Change It – What you decide today might make sense for tomorrow, but if tomorrow presents an unexpected opportunity that requires skipping a step, then you’ve got to be ready to adjust. The goal is to win. Those who do it often have their eye on the now and the future. The goal should remain the same, but smart leaders understand that it doesn’t pay to be unwilling to change. Don’t worry about whether or not your plan had to be scrapped to win. The winning itself will be what people remember about your leadership.

This also can be tied to the success of a daily talk show. For example, are you married to your rundown or changing on the fly when things don’t hit the mark? Are you booking guests and keeping them on for the entire segment because it said :02-:13 on your sheet, or are you cutting it short or extending it based on the flow of the conversation and importance of content? Is your show relying on the same drops, music beds, seasonal guests, topics, and reference points or actively looking for ways to freshen the presentation?

Mike Tyson once said ‘everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.’ The same holds true on a sports media program. Whether it’s due to breaking news, people lacking interest, hosts not selling content in a powerful and unique way, or something else happening organically that provides a better content experience, the best results come from good planning and better adjusting.

Barrett Blogs

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 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!

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Barrett Blogs

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 We hope to see you online or in New York City this March.

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Barrett Blogs

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 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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