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BSM Staffers Past & Present Look Back At The Last 5 Years

“Jason didn’t just build an industry tool, he transformed how the industry is connected.”

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Jason Barrett changed the sports format in 2015 when he launched this website. That will sound like some self-righteous bullshit, but it is the absolute truth.

The arrival of Barrett Sports Media, then at sportsradiopd.com, was not unlike the arrival of CNN on cable television. Suddenly, there was this place that we could all go to at anytime of day to find out what was going on. The major difference from CNN, aside from the budget and an ownership stake in the Atlanta Braves, was that the site was focused on a niche within a niche. It would be like if I launched a site today devoted not to Jurassic Park, but specifically to that one raptor that Muldoon calls a “clever girl” right before it eats him.

Dinosaurs gathered at NASA Goddard site for fatal feeding frenzy • The  Register

To celebrate this anniversary, I wanted to turn things over to our writing staff, in particular those that have been at Barrett Sports Media since the day Jason decided to employ weekly columnists in 2017.

What did this opportunity mean to them? What have they gotten out of being part of the BSM family? I’ll share my story at the end.

TYLER MCCOMAS (STARTED 2017)

I don’t say this lightly, but I don’t think anyone in this industry could’ve grown this site like Jason Barrett has in the past five years. I say that, because I’ve seen firsthand all of the attention to detail he puts into things. For instance, during my first trip to the Barrett Sports Media summit in Los Angeles, I was truly blown away by how every single detail was taken into account. Literally, the man takes zero shortcuts and it’s the reason why BSM is the successful entity it is today.

Being at the website for three years, it’s humbling to know that I’ve had a very small piece in what this website has been able to accomplish. When I first started writing, I felt like I had to over explain what the website was all about to the people I was trying to interview. Today all I have to say is I’m with Barrett Sports Media and everyone knows what we do here.

BRIAN NOE (STARTED 2017)

When I glanced at my notes, I was surprised to find that the first column I wrote for BSM was in August of 2017. I’ve passed the three-year mark with Jason when I actually thought the two-year mark was approaching. Time flies when you enjoy what you do.

I write with the speed of a tortoise though. Writing is hard, but I’m 100 percent sure I make it way harder. The work is challenging, but the rewards are great. I love the end result when I feel like the time I invest in a column or a Q&A interview help produce a piece that’s worth reading. The positive feedback is very satisfying as well.

It has been a pleasure to interview so many people for JB’s site. It’s fascinating to learn about the personal stories, goals, successes, failures, and general approaches of others in the industry. It’s great to learn more about Jason as well. I’ve never met someone as connected. If I asked him who the board op is in Boise, Idaho, he’d be like, “Oh, John? Yeah, great guy.”

JB is a bulldog. He works incredibly hard and has a true passion for sports radio. I’m thankful he’s trusted me to represent his company. Here’s to many more years of success for Jason and BSM.

DAVE GREENE (STARTED 2017; LEFT 2019)

Dave Greene, Author at Barrett Sports Media

When I was in my first Journalism class at the University of Missouri in 1993, the professor went around the room and asked who was interested in the various sections of journalism taught at the school. He would call out the sections and students would raise their hand if that is why they were wanting to be in the J-school. He called out magazine, television, photojournalism, etc. and then asked specifically, “Who is here for sports?”  I raised my hand along with four or five others (out of three hundred or so in the class) and he responded with, “Just so you know, we don’t teach sports here, we teach journalism.”

So, there was my first experience with what others thought of my career choice. More than 25 years later, not only has the interest in sports continued to increase, but so has the interest in sports media. Kudos to Jason and the BSM staff for shining a light on an industry that normally only gets attention when one of its hosts says something stupid or goes off the rails. The coverage is very much appreciated and it continues to get better all the time. Thank you for having me be a small part of it, writing about my love and passion for the format and selling the format. Cheers!

JAY MARIOTTI (STARTED 2020)

If all media companies operated with the efficiency and no-b.s. ethic of Barrett Sports Media, the industry would be in a better and sturdier place. I’ve worked for the biggest TV and radio shops and major-market writing operations. They could learn plenty from Jason Barrett, who creates a performance-first culture and doesn’t let outside influences interfere with content, though I’m sure those influences are regularly giving him ear aches.

I first met Jason as he was leaving behind a successful radio programming career — on his terms. We chatted for two hours at a San Francisco breakfast place, both seeking unique independent challenges in a media business increasingly averse to risk-taking. I’m not surprised he has constructed a strong career foundation with his ever-growing content site and advisory expertise.

When he asked me to write columns, I knew his target audience was The Industry, akin to The Eagles playing for the music crowd when they returned from wherever they were. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun writing sports and media columns since … college, maybe? And tell me: How many people in sports media are having fun right now? 

MATT FISHMAN (STARTED 2018; LEFT 2019)

For me, Barrett Sports Media was a life raft in my radio career. Finding myself “on the beach” after ten years of working at SiriusXM and 21 years overall in sports radio was daunting. Writing a weekly column about sports radio for the Barrett Sports Media website allowed me to stay engaged with the format while sharing my ideas, suggestions, and constructive criticism with people in the business. It also kept my name out there with important decision makers and allowed me to determine companies I wanted to work for and some I probably didn’t want to.

My favorite part of writing for the BSM website was definitely the Q&As with radio talent. I spoke at length to terrific hosts that I had worked with like Dan McNeil, Terry Boers, Paul Finebaum and Mark Packer. I also enjoyed meeting talent who I knew of and yet did not know. People like Josh Innes and Nick Cattles.

The hardest and most serious part of my job was dealing with death in the sports radio family. Writing about the deaths of Chet Coppock, Allen Lamb, Wolfgang Miller, and John Tautges. I also wrote about sports radio stations in Dayton and El Paso dealing with programming in the wake of mass shootings in both cities. Work I took very seriously as did the local PDs at those stations. 

Overall, my time at Barrett Sports Media allowed me to look at Sports Radio from 30,000 feet. To see the big picture which is sometimes hard to do when you are in it. For the last 7+ months as the Content Director at 850 ESPN Cleveland I have tried to take those lessons to heart. I also know that without writing for BSM, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

BRANDON CONTES (STARTED 2017; BEGAN WRITING FEATURES 2018)

Barrett Sports Media’s five-year anniversary coincides with my three-year mark writing for the site. JB had little reason to bring me on-board three years ago after I reached out. As someone with little experience in the industry, he was able to look past that and recognize my passion for sports media. 

My personal profile has grown immensely since joining BSM three years ago. I’ve met and interviewed people who I’ve always respected, and I’m consistently impressed with the respect they show me in return. But being associated with a brand such as BSM brings instant credibility and inherent respect. Like a music groupie who says, ‘I knew that band before they were popular!’ I’m proud to have been a fan of Barrett Sports Media when it launched five years ago, and equally grateful to have played a part in its development over the least three years.  

DEMETRI RAVANOS (STARTED 2017, PROMOTED TO ASSISTANT CONTENT DIRECTOR 2018)

The first time I reached out to Jason Barrett was 2016. SportsRadioPD.com was in its literal infancy at the time. My sports radio career was only about a year older, having moved over from the rock format in 2014. I just sent him an email and pitched him on a few guest column ideas. To my surprise, he said he’d be very happy to have me write about personality radio and why so much of what works for people like Howard Stern should be adopted and adapted for sports talk hosts.

In 2017, I was working in a very upscale hotel and just looking for any connection back to the industry I loved. Fortunately, JB was looking to bring on full-time columnists. It was a natural fit.

Fast forward nearly one year. I don’t know the best way to say this, but “Jason Barrett saved my life” seems like the best way to do it. I was still at the hotel and as depressed as I had ever been. I HATED my job. I hated that everyday was exactly the same. I hated the way it made me feel about myself, and the worst part of all was I didn’t know how to get out of it.

Thankfully, JB was on a market visit in Charlotte the same weekend I was driving down to Alabama for my godson’s high school graduation. It was on my way. He asked if I wanted to have dinner. We met at a PF Chang’s. I’ll never forget how awkward it was when I, in a Run the Jewels t-shirt and jeans, got up to greet a man in a full suit.

SHIT!

That dinner wasn’t just about getting to know one another or a matter of convenience because we were in the same place at the same time. JB had a vision for me. That was the night we talked about what he would need in a number 2 and would I do it for next to no money.

Here we are two years later and my life and my place in this industry has completely changed. That is all because Jason trusted me.

We have built up a staff together. We consult each other on major moves for the business. We aren’t partners and his opinion still carries more weight than mine, but he treats me like an equal. That’s not just when we are on the phone. That is at the BSM Summit or any other professional event.

When I started writing for the site, I hoped to get my name out there and get someone to listen to my audio. When I became the Assistant Content Director, it was in hopes that it’d lead to meeting the right person. All of that time, I was blind to the fact that I was where I needed to be to make an impact on the industry.

That is Jason Barrett’s greatest strength. He not only recognizes someone’s talent, he recognizes where they will have the most value. Over the summer, after a conversation with Don Martin, I told JB that I think maybe I want to program instead of being back on the air. In the most exasperated voice I have ever heard come out of him, JB said “JESUS! I have been waiting for you to get here for two years!”.

The guy just knows how to put puzzle pieces together without having to look at the picture on the box. That is the kind of talent it takes to build something like this. Jason didn’t just build an industry tool, he transformed how the industry is connected.

BSM Writers

Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content

Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.

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USA Today

When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.

“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.

Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:

1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”

2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.

The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.

I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.

Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”

There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.

First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.

The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.

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BSM Writers

The Client Just Said YES, Now What?

We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.

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One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!

We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.

When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.

They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.

A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 74

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This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.

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