Robert Kraft once said “Envy and jealousy are incurable diseases.” Though I’m sure he was thinking about a situation that related to the New England Patriots or National Football League, he may as well have been referring to the sports media industry.
If there’s one thing that this business struggles with it’s rooting for others to succeed. Media people are competitive and seek positions occupied by others, which makes it common for folks to tear others down rather than extend a sincere congratulations when good things happen to them. They’ll scrutinize an individual’s track record, on-air comments, social media posts, how they connect with co-workers, the way they interact with listeners and advertisers, and seek any advantage possible, convincing themselves that the reason they didn’t earn a shot and someone else did is because the system worked against them.
But landing big jobs in this business isn’t just about talent. It’s assumed that you’re going to have skill otherwise you wouldn’t even be considered for an opportunity. The true X factor is relationships. Many people think that their skills should be enough to warrant a look for the top jobs in the industry. That sounds good in theory but if you don’t have any connection to a local market, and the only time you talk to an executive and appear on their radar is when they have an opening at their station, you’re likely not getting the job.
The question you should be asking and prepared to answer is ‘why exactly would a hiring manager choose you over every other option?’ If it’s because you ‘think’ you’re more talented, get to work on a better answer. What have you done prior to the opening to build a connection with the people you hope to work with? Did you seek feedback on how to get better? Did you interact on social media? Did you congratulate them with a text or email when they had something positive happen to them or their brand? Did you show up and say hello at an industry event or station function?
It takes time, effort, and consistency to build relationships. Without them, the road to glory is full of obstacles. I’ve seen a lot of people bitch and moan on social media, the airwaves or to industry friends when jobs get filled in this industry, and in some cases, they may have a legitimate gripe. More times than not though, people look solely at situations from their own point of view rather than the other side.
Case in point, when Craig Carton was named the new afternoon drive host at WFAN, I saw everything from ‘Why would they hire a convicted felon?’, ‘The fix is in’, ‘Ridiculous’, ‘Chernoff and Oliviero never gave anyone else a fair shot’, ‘There were more talented hosts out there’, etc.. That sounds like a whole lot of sour grapes. Carton addressed the issue last Thursday telling his critics “I haven’t been on the radio in three years. I think Boomer said, 1,150 days. You had plenty of time to get better at what you do. You didn’t. That’s on you. That’s not on me. Got it? Good.”
His critics will lose their mind over those comments suggesting that they may have improved at their craft but didn’t earn strong consideration from Chris Oliviero and Mark Chernoff, the two men responsible for bringing Carton back to WFAN. It’s always more convenient for industry people to distribute blame and seek sympathy rather than give credit and understand why moves makes sense. Let’s look at Carton’s rehiring and I’ll explain why this was a no-brainer decision for WFAN.
Did you see how the majority of WFAN employees responded publicly when it was revealed that Carton was coming back? Most were ecstatic to have him back at the station. Positive additions equal an improved workplace culture, something every manager hopes to create. Secondly, people can take shots at Craig for his mistakes, and Carton knows that comes with the territory, but let’s not forget that this guy took over morning drive in the nation’s largest market on the sports format’s most iconic station, stepped in after Imus left a huge stain on the brand, built one of the most successful shows in the country from scratch with Boomer Esiason, and elevated WFAN to an even higher level. To ignore his massive prior success is foolish. In a business judged heavily by performance, Carton has won plenty.
Next, ‘The Michael Kay Show’ has been rolling, and winning the afternoon drive ratings battle. WFAN knew it had to make a bold move to try and energize the audience to reclaim the top spot in afternoons. Whether you like Craig or not, he’s a unique talent who makes people talk and listen, and he gives the station a stronger chance to regain NY radio ears and dollars than any other talent who’d have been available. You might be crushing it in another city or be the next big thing to lead the format forward, but this is market #1 where the stakes are high, and WFAN isn’t going to bet on potential when a proven commodity is there to be hired.
An underrated aspect of Carton’s game is that he’s also very good at getting the most out of his partners. Chris and Mark will be counting on him to do that with Evan Roberts. I admit I was surprised that Chernoff and Oliviero chose this pairing because Roberts felt like a strange fit, but if there’s one thing these executives do well, it’s put together winning combinations. When you combine Craig’s track record of success with his personal and professional history with Mark and Chris, you can see why the station rolled the dice to bring him back. I’d have done the same exact thing if I were in their shoes.
If you disagree with WFAN’s decision, that’s fine. This isn’t Chris and Mark’s first rodeo. They can handle the heat. But don’t forget, 97.5 The Fanatic was interested in Craig too. Had Carton been interested in relocating, I’m sure other stations would have entered the mix as well. That’s a reflection on how he’s viewed as an on-air performer.
When it comes to making decisions, programming executives will always face an army of critics firing bullets in their direction, and others praising their choices when they make a hire. These are high profile jobs sought after by hundreds if not thousands of people, and though there may be 50-100 truly worthy of the opportunity, there’s only one job to give. Results ultimately determine if a station got it right or not, and if a show succeeds, the executive in charge usually earns more trust and pay. If they fail, they risk being replaced.
Why Carton’s addition has anyone angry though is surprising to me. We talk about sports on the air every single day, examining players, coaches and executives and whether or not they deserve 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th chances while others with talent get pushed aside. Many times we even side with the franchise, crediting them for betting on the best talent and being willing to look past individual issues. Case in point, Antonio Brown, Kareem Hunt, Alex Cora, AJ Hinch, Tony La Russa, Carmelo Anthony, Ron Artest, Dennis Rodman, Darryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco, the list goes on and on.
Go look at some of those names and look at the franchises they’ve been connected to and who was in charge. Why did Tony La Russa land the White Sox job over other candidates? Because Jerry Reinsdorf had a relationship with him. Why did Antonio Brown go to Tampa? Tom Brady and Bruce Arians. Who lured Kareem Hunt to the Browns? John Dorsey, the former Browns GM who previously drafted Hunt in Kansas City.
It’s not much different in radio. Just like the world of sports, radio is a results driven business. Executives have a ton of pressure on them to win, and they’re not going to pass on adding an elite talent to their roster, regardless of red flags, especially if they have a good prior relationship. Many brand managers also have certain philosophies and priorities that influence how they build their station lineups, and nothing you say is going to change that. It’d be like a football player telling Bill Walsh during the glory days of the 49ers to move away from running the West Coast offense. That player may continue playing in the league but he’ll be wearing another team’s jersey before Walsh abandoned his coaching philosophy.
For example, maybe a program director doesn’t believe in hiring out of town talent. Maybe they place a premium value on feedback from other execs and when checking into your background they learn of a number of bad experiences others had working with you. Maybe they think the person being considered for the job has the wrong sound, attitude or financial expectations to fit inside their building. Or maybe they just don’t think much of your talent level and believe someone else is better.
Decisions will continue to be scrutinized and celebrated, but complaining doesn’t get you anywhere. In fact I can argue that doing it in public circles will only make other managers more hesitant to call you in the future should they have needs to fill.
The real issue you should be thinking about is what Craig said on the air last week – ‘You had 3 years to take the seat he now holds, so why didn’t you?’ Better yet, why were Evan Roberts and Bart Scott mentioned as the two leading candidates to work with Craig, and your name not included? Is Craig supposed to not take a job just because you don’t think he deserves it? Give me a break.
Before you tell me WFAN didn’t have a need or that it was impossible to get their attention, let me remind you that there have now been 5 different afternoon shows on the station during the past 3-4 years (Francesa, CMB, Francesa part 2, Joe & Evan, and now Carton & Roberts). If Carlin, Maggie, Bart, Joe and Evan could earn a shot, why couldn’t you? If you have elite talent, and a connection to New York, and let 1,150 days pass without building a professional relationship with Chris Oliviero and Mark Chernoff, you already know the answer why you were never in the mix. As Craig Carton said last week, ‘that’s on you’.
Two Great Formats, One Kickass Supersite
“This is a strategic move aimed at making things easier for the reader, and showcasing the best of two great brands and formats on one kickass supersite.”
It’s an exciting day for all of us at BSM and BNM, because today marks the start of something special. Yes we have an awesome new look and layout for our content, made possible by the great Andy Drake. I encourage you to sift thru a few of the different tabs at the top of the website. You’ll find popular features from our writers in the Originals section, podcasts we’ve produced over the years, the Member Directory featuring nearly forty radio professionals, access points to content from all twenty four of our writers, and shortcuts to our sports and news media sections. We’ve even built three columns to the right on the main page to make it easier to maneuver thru daily sports and news content, and the latest columns from our writing teams.
If you were reading carefully, you picked up on my use of BNM in the first sentence, and the word news in the last sentence. And if you browsed the website today, you likely noticed news and sports are now presented in the same location.
I took the risk and launched Barrett News Media eight months ago. We came out of the gate with a staff of twelve, which was twelve more than Barrett Sports Media had when it was born in September 2015. Like with most new brands, tweaks were needed, and lessons were learned. I initially wanted to put BNM and BSM under the same roof, but there were too many unknowns. For that reason, I launched the brand as a separate entity.
I had to find out if my interest in news would remain high or fade out after a few months. I had to learn if our staff would produce content consistently or leave us plugging holes regularly. I had to discover if media stories would remain hot after a heated presidential election. As important as those all were, one mattered even more – would anyone read our work?
After studying the peaks and valleys of our news brand for nearly a year, I know that people will consume our content if it’s original, interesting, and timely. But asking them to follow us in two different places is a tall order. It’s also harder to reach people in the news media space because social media activity is lighter due to a lack of trust in big tech, and some folks in the format still don’t know me.
Since launching, I’ve overseen two websites, two staffs, two email addresses, and multiple social media accounts, worrying about maintaining separation when I had no reason to worry in the first place. Newspapers have spent decades blending sports and news, online brands across the internet do the same today, and Chrissy Paradis, Pete Mundo, Rick Schultz, Douglas Pucci, Ryan Maguire, Ryan Hedrick, Eduardo Razo and Jordan Bondurant have done more than enough good work to deserve having their material presented to the most amount of people.
So now we move forward as one unit, fully dedicated to serving both the sports and news/talk formats in one location. We will continue prioritizing columns from experienced professionals, the latest industry news, and original ideas that spark interest and discussion. Our email blasts will come from one source, social media promotion will emanate from our BSM channels, and all of our website content will be housed in one spot. If visitors type in the URL for BarrettNewsMedia.com it will automatically redirect to the BSM website.
To help us manage the content cycle and strengthen our brands further, I am pleased to announce a few new additions. First, Troy Coverdale joins BNM as Editor, McGraw Milhaven as a weekly columnist, and Jordan Bondurant and Ryan Hedrick add opportunities to write feature stories multiple times per month. Meanwhile, BSM will gain the writing talents of Ryan Maguire, and semi-regular contributions from Rob Taylor and Scott Seidenberg. Kate Constable and Ricky Keeler will also get more involved writing features. I also plan to add one more news writer soon to fill Brandon Contes’ position.
The new look of the website has me fired up and excited about the possibilities ahead. A big tip of the cap to Point To Point Marketing, Core Image Studio, and the great Jim Cutler for helping us pull this off. I’m eager to increase connections with news radio and television professionals, and showcase their great work. With that in mind, if you have a news tip or story idea for either of our brands, send it by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. With the website makeover complete, I’ll now focus on the next project – the 2021 BSM Summit. I’ll have news to share one week from today, so stay tuned.
If you’re a fan of what we do for sports media coverage, have no fear. The same great content experience you’ve come to enjoy for the past six years is not affected. If news radio/television coverage interests you but didn’t know much about BNM, now you’ll be able to access the content without jumping thru extra hoops. This is a strategic move aimed at making things easier for the reader, and showcasing the best of two great brands and formats. I’m pleased with BNM’s start, but know that if we can do a few things for the brand that we’ve done for BSM, it’ll make the content experience better, the industry relationships stronger, and the work more meaningful. And that is the reason we do this in the first place.
Thank you for continuing to visit, and afford us the opportunity to inform and entertain you. We understand the media business and are passionate about it, and that’s reflected in our team’s writing. Some you may know that about. Others you may not. But having them all under one roof should make your ability to find out a whole lot easier.
BSM’s Sports Media MVP Tournament Bracket
“The field of 64 for the BSM Sports Media MVP Tournament is now set! “
The field of 64 for the BSM Sports Media MVP Tournament is now set!
Congratulations to ESPN’s Jeff Passan on knocking off FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal to earn the final entry in this year’s tournament. To see the full schedule of when matchups will take place, scroll down below.
A reminder, all voting for each round of the tournament will be done on Twitter thru @sportsradiopd. The people’s votes determine who advances, and who goes home. Be sure to print off your bracket, make your picks, and follow along to see how they stack up against the actual results.
As I mentioned previously, there are no layups in this tournament. Round 1 features many difficult and compelling matchups. Those who advance will have even harder matchups awaiting them in future rounds. There will likely be debate over who should’ve made the list that didn’t, and who deserved a higher or lower ranking. We expect that noise, and welcome it. But this is the bracket, we feel good about it, and whoever wins this tournament, will have gone down a long tough road to earn the voters respect, and ultimately the MVP championship.
So, let’s have some fun, and find out who is the MVP of the Sports Media industry.
BSM Presents ‘The Sports Media MVP Tournament’
The BSM MVP Tournament begins with a play-in game on March 16th. Tournament play gets underway on March 18th.
A year ago at this time, Barrett Sports Media rolled out its ‘Greatest SportsCenter Anchor‘ tournament. It was a fun event that generated over 4 million social media impressions, hundreds of thousands of votes thru our numerous poll questions, big traffic on the BSM website, content on sports radio shows that were working without live events, and recognition for Scott Van Pelt who edged out Stuart Scott in the finals to be selected as SC’s best of all-time.
Given where things stood in the world at that time, the SportsCenter bracket was a fun needed distraction. Most were worried about the coronavirus and how it might hurt them or their families. Would it have an affect on their job? School? Church? The American way of life? How soon would it be until we could enjoy some sense of normalcy again?
Fortunately, here we are one year later, and though we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, things are heading in the right direction. Games are back on our television screens and radio airwaves. Teams have started welcoming fans back into buildings. Vaccine shots are being distributed to millions of Americans, and god willing, we’ll soon be past the nightmare that we lived thru in 2020, and on our way to greater prosperity.
So with sports back, and optimism higher, a bracket contest isn’t necessarily needed to add light during a dark time, but as we learned last year, fun is contagious, and there’s never a bad time to use a creative event to bring people together.
Right after we wrapped up the BSM Top 20 in February, Demetri Ravanos and I started talking about ideas for this year’s bracket contest. A conversation about difference makers in the industry and who was critical to their brands success got my wheels spinning, and as we dove in further, we quickly realized there were hundreds with a case to be made. That laid the groundwork for creating BSM’s Sports Media MVP Tournament.
Choosing 65 people to complete a 64 person tournament bracket like this is not easy. The mixture of accomplished studio hosts, debate specialists, analysts, reporters, play by play voices, radio hosts, podcasting personalities, etc. made for some exhausting email exchanges and phone conversations, but time, thought, and effort is necessary if you want to create cool things. What was especially important to us with this year’s tournament was trying to capture some of the same spirit and fun from last year, without focusing on a particular brand, show or company. Too many people in this industry make a difference for various groups and we want to highlight as many of them as possible.
But when you put 64 of the industry’s biggest difference makers against each other in a tournament style bracket, who’s truly capable of going through five tough rounds to emerge as the most valuable performer in sports media? Better yet, who has strong enough staying power to keep fans on social media invested in their advancement?
Well, we’re about to find out.
We’ll kick things off with a play in game for the final spot in the tournament on Tuesday March 16th. That play-in game will feature ESPN’s Jeff Passan vs. FOX Sports/The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Voting will be done for the play-in game and ALL tournament matchups on Twitter for a period of 24 hours. The results of the play-in game will be revealed on Wednesday morning March 17th. Whoever has more votes between Passan and Rosenthal when time expires, will gain the final spot in this year’s BSM Sports Media MVP Tournament.
The release of the full bracket will take place right after the results of the play-in game are known on Wednesday March 17th. I will though let you know which four individuals earned #1 seeds in this year’s tournament, along with the naming of each of their regions. They are Stephen A. Smith (Stay Off The Weed Region), Colin Cowherd (Backwards Hat Region), Dave Portnoy (To The Moon Region), and Tony Romo (That’s My Quarterback Region).
The official start to the tournament will begin on Thursday March 18th. Matchups will then continue each week until Monday April 5th when the final contest takes place. The results of that last battle will be announced on Tuesday morning April 6th. At that time, we will officially put a bow on this year’s tournament and crown the champion. To see the breakdown of the upcoming schedule, click here.
Before the floodgates open and complaints are made about some people getting in, others being left out, and certain folks having harder matchups than others, remember that this is supposed to be fun, everything in the sports media industry is subjective, and regardless of one’s matchup, if they’re seen as the best at what they do, they’ll move on regardless. There are very few layups in this tournament. We knew it’d be impossible to create a field of 64 without leaving some super talented people out, so if you work in the industry and didn’t make the cut, don’t take it personally. It doesn’t make your accomplishments or value to your brand any less important. It simply speaks volumes of how stacked this tournament is with successful people.
I will point out that we involved eight people in the voting process to help us determine this year’s field of 64. There were 225 sports media professionals on our initial list. That got trimmed down to 85, and eventually to 65. The play-in game will be how we get down to 64. As is the case with the NCAA Tournament, the NFL Hall of Fame, the NBA All-Star Game or MLB MVP or Cy Young award voting, there’s always a case to be made for someone who didn’t get in. But when you’re reviewing game changers from multiple areas of the industry and a number of different brands and companies, it’s impossible to please everybody.
What I hope you’ll take away from this year’s tournament as it picks up steam is that there are a lot of really talented people in the sports media industry, many with different styles and approaches to success. Earning the top spot in this bracket will take consistent voting support, respect from fans and friends both in and out of the sports media business, and a whole lot of luck.
We extend our thanks in advance to everyone who will participate in this year’s voting process, as well as to the 64 men and women who will be part of this year’s tournament. We can’t wait to share the full bracket with you next week. It’s going to be a fun few weeks, so let the madness begin!
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