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Mitch Rosen Is Humbled And Rejuvenated

“What I was doing three or four years ago as a PD has changed. Today as a brand manager you just have to be able to be adaptive, go with the changes, be open to ideas and come up with new ideas. You can’t wait for it to come to you.”

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Mitch Rosen has been in the radio game for a long time. He’s spent some 30 years in his home market of Chicago, working for a number of well-known and respected stations including WGN Radio, and ESPN 1000. Rosen has been the program director for 670 The Score, since 2005.

Under his leadership, The Score has become one of the most respected sports stations in the country. Rosen added a second station to his portfolio in the Summer of 2019. In addition to leading the Score, he took on the added responsibility of programming 105.7 The Fan, in Milwaukee. He’s a busy guy, and wouldn’t have it any other way.  

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Rosen will be honored at the 2020 BSM Summit in New York next week as the first ever winner of the Mark Chernoff award. 

I recently sat down with him to get his thoughts on winning the prestigious award, what it’s like to program two stations simultaneously and just how competitive the Chicago market is with two sports stations on the air. 

Andy Masur: You were the top guy on the BSM list of major market PD’s and will be the first to receive the Mark Chernoff award. What does that mean to you, having your peers recognize what you do for the format?

Mitch Rosen: It’s very humbling, I’m very honored two-fold. Number one, Mark and I are very good friends in this industry, so, to receive this award named for him is really an incredible feeling. I’ve learned so much from him. I remember about 16 years ago, I started in February of 2005 and Mark interviewed me over the phone for the job at the Score. Ever since then, learning from him and talking to him and still to this day running ideas by him and consulting him on different things, it’s just amazing that I was the one chosen for this award is a great honor.  

This award and honor it’s really not about me, it’s about the people I work with, it’s also about our brand, you know the Score brand was born in January of 1992. I happen to be the one that day in and day out works close with this brand. But it’s about the people, it’s producers, on air talent, people in our digital department, people at Radio.com sports, Entercom, CBS Sports/Westinghouse. So many people touch this brand and oh by the way it’s our audience. Without the listeners of Chicago and folks that listen to our product on the Radio.com app and online every day, you know, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be overseeing this tremendous brand, so even though my name is on it, it’s all about the Score brand and about people that I work with on a daily basis. 

AM: What are you looking forward to at the BSM Summit?

MR: I always look forward to collaborating with my peers. Also, watching and listening to the great panels. I think the panels Jason has put together this year are incredible and I always look at it as a great learning experience. No matter how long you’ve been in this business when you can absorb knowledge from some of the people that he’s assembled is great. It’s great to see some of my peers that you really only get to see once a year at Jason’s summit, so that’s what I’m really looking forward to, seeing a lot of people in the industry and talking about great ideas. As we know our industry, I feel, changes on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. To be able share ideas and knowledge is really huge. 

AM: What is the competition like in a crazy sports town like Chicago with 2 sports stations?

MR: This market is unusual, you have two stand-alone AM radio stations in us and WMVP (ESPN 1000) and I think it’s a credit to this Chicago sports market. Both stations do very well. I think at the end of the day when you look at it, I think our station has more listeners throughout the year on a weekly basis. Though, if an outsider said you have two stand-alone AM radio stations that talk sports and on a weekly basis combined you cume sometimes a million and a half people a week that’s pretty impressive. 

We’ve seen the trend of sports stations going to FM around the country and it just hasn’t clicked yet in Chicago. I think it’s a testament to when there’s great content people find you. When you have two great AM stations, and I think both do a good job in terms of content, its not just the AM band anymore. It’s all the different platforms through social media that people find great content and I think that’s how we’ve survived over the years since 1992 and you have to adjust with the times. You can’t sit back and wait for technology to come to you, I think you really have to follow technology and be ahead of the game. We’ve seen that in what we’ve done with live video streaming on a number of our shows and the OTT products and things like that. 

AM: You and Mike Thomas at ESPN 1000 are friends, what’s the dynamic like in competing against him and his station?

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MR: He’s a friend, he’s a colleague, he’s someone I respect, but I think he would say the same thing, I wake up every morning and you think how do I get better? How do you get better than your competition? How can you motivate your staff to produce better content every day? 

I also think we compete in a world that isn’t just sports. We live in the demographic of 25-54 year-old persons and obviously our main target is men, so how do we do better than some music stations? We are all fighting for an audience, how do we get more ears on our station, more eyeballs on our digital platforms? That’s what we strive to do every day.  

AM: In a sports market like Chicago, what is the importance placed on having Chicago guys on the air talking Chicago sports?

MR: Everybody knows their city I think better than others. I’m fortunate enough that I was born in the Chicagoland area. I’ve been fortunate to work in this market since 1988. My first job was at WGN radio, first as an intern, then I was hired at WGN shortly after that. I feel it’s important that people that work in this market in sports radio either grew up here, or worked here. 

You look at our lineup from top to bottom, these people have worked here long enough and lived here. I think it’s important that they know the background of Chicago sports, they know the audience, they know geographically where people live and where they come from. They know the passion of Chicago sports, they know what it was like being a fan and they know the teams in this market. Every market is different. I can only speak for Chicago and now a little bit Milwaukee. But for the Chicago market I think it’s vitally important that people live and breathe this throughout their life. That’s how I feel about it.  

AM: How do you view the landscape of sports radio in Chicago and the format in general?

MR: I’m still a believer in live and local. I think in this format specifically. We’re in the opinion business, people always want to talk about live and local sports. People in Chicago want to give their opinion about the Bears. They want to give their opinion about the Cubs and about all local sports teams. I don’t see that going away. 

It’s how you go about figuring out through which platforms, through what different ways you communicate with the audience, those are the type of things that continue to evolve and change. As a programmer you have to be willing to adapt and change. What I was doing three or four years ago as a PD has changed.  Today as a brand manager you just have to be able to be adaptive, go with the changes, be open to ideas and come up with new ideas. You can’t wait for it to come to you. You have to be willing to share things with the staff and be open to feedback and ideas from everybody. That’s how I see it, I think this format is as strong as it ever will be and it’s all about being live and local.    

AM: What do you see as a benefit of having team play-by-play on The Score?

MR: I am a firm believer for a sports radio station to be successful you need to have a team’s play-by-play on your airwaves. It’s a great marketing tool that you can cross promote in play-by-play. It brings in a cumulative audience that helps you market your other day parts. From a sales standpoint it’s a great opportunity to generate revenue with the right business deal. Again, for a sports radio station today in 2020 its imperative that you have a play-by-play property/partnership on your radio station. 

AM: How difficult is it to be effective as a PD in two cities at once, juggling Chicago and now 105.7 the Fan in Milwaukee at the same time?

MR: I love it. You know, traditionally I’m in Milwaukee for a day and a half a week. With modern technology I’m always in touch with the Milwaukee market. I’m fortunate enough that I have great assistance there with Steve “Sparky” Fifer who also is a co-host on our “Wendy’s Big Show” in the afternoons. I have a great staff there, from our morning show to middays and afternoons.

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Milwaukee has really become a great sports town. The Packers had success this year, being a game away from the Super Bowl. The Brewers have been competitive in the NL Central and of course the Bucks. They’re probably the best team today in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. It’s fun, it’s only 90 miles from Chicago and to me being in the business a long time, it’s rejuvenated me in terms of something fresh to work with and great people. You combo that and it’s just been a joy to part of that organization. 

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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