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Craig Carton Is Right – This One’s On You, Not Him!

“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.”

Jason Barrett

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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’.

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Jeff Catlin, John Mamola, Gordy Rush & Maggie Clifton Join The 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

Jason Barrett

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We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on BSMSummit.com.

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit BSMSummit.com.

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Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett

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As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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California College Students Earn Chance to Win 10 Free Tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit Thanks to Steve Kamer Voiceovers

“In order to win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event.”

Jason Barrett

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With a new year comes renewed energy and optimism for the sports media business. Yours truly is looking forward to showcasing the best our business has to offer when we gather the industry in Los Angeles, CA at the 2023 BSM Summit at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California on March 21-22, 2023. Our conference is returning to the west coast for the first time since 2019. We’ve announced some super talented speakers. We’ve got additional things in the works and I plan to make additional announcements in the next few weeks.

People often ask me what the biggest challenge is putting this event together. My answer is always the same, it’s getting people to leave the comfort of their office and spend two days in a room together learning and discussing ways to grow the business. We have great sponsorship support and exceptional people on stage and are fortunate to have a lot of folks already set to attend. Our venue this year has extra space though, so I’m hoping a few more of you make time to join us. If you haven’t bought a ticket or reserved your hotel room, visit BSMSummit.com to make sure you’re all set.

If there’s one thing our industry could get better at it’s opening our minds to new ideas and information. There’s more than one path to success. Just because you’re in good shape today doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. Building brands, growing audiences, increasing revenue, and examining new opportunities is an ongoing process. There are many shifts along the way. We may not solve every business challenge during our two-days together but you’ll leave the room more connected and informed than when you entered it.

Each year I’ll get two or three emails from folks sharing that they learned more about the industry in two-days at the Summit than they have in ___ years inside of their building. That’s truly gratifying and what I strive to achieve when I put this event together. I remember when conferences like this didn’t exist for format folks and I take the risk and invest the time and resources to create it because I love the sports media industry and believe I can help it thrive. I see great value in gathering professionals to share ideas, information, and meet others who can help them grow their business, and if we do our part, I’m confident some will want to work with us too. That’s how we benefit over the long haul.

But as much as I focus on serving the professional crowd, I also think we have a responsibility to educate young people who are interested, passionate, and taking steps to be a part of our business in the future. The BSM website is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each month and it’s become a valuable resource for folks who enjoy sports radio and television. I think it’s vital to use our platform, influence and two-day event to connect generations and I’m happy to announce that we will once again welcome college students at this year’s Summit.

Most of us who’ve been in this line of work for two or three decades learned the business without podcasts, YouTube, social media, the web or conferences delivering two full days of sessions that taught you more about the business than what’s available inside of a class room. We learned by doing, and hoping we were right. Then we copied others who had success. Some of that still exists, and that’s not a bad thing. But where our business goes in the future is going to be drastically different.

I’d like to see the difference makers in our format remembered for years to come, and practices that have stood the test of time remain valued down the line. Change is inevitable in every business and I’m excited about the road that lies ahead especially some of the technological advancements that are now available or will soon become a bigger part of our industry. I think we can embrace the future while enjoying the present and celebrating the past. The best way to do that is by bringing together everyone who is and is hoping to be a part of the sports media universe.

So here’s two things we’re doing to make sure future broadcasters have an opportunity to learn with us.

First, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Steve Kamer Voiceovers. Thanks to Steve’s generosity, TEN (10) college students will be given FREE tickets to attend the 2023 BSM Summit in March. Steve is a USC graduate (Class of 1985) and he bought the ten tickets to help young people learn about the industry, save money and make valuable connections. When I first received his order, I thought he hit the wrong button. I reached out to tell him a mistake was made and I needed to refund him. That’s when he told me what he wanted to do for students who were pursuing their broadcasting dreams just as we both did years ago. A very classy gesture on his part.

As it pertains to the contest, here’s how it’s going to work.

To win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event. Included in your email should be a list of steps that you’ve taken or are pursuing to explore opportunities in the media industry. If you want to pass along a resume and audio or video clips too to showcase your work and experience, that’s fine as well. BSM will accept submissions until February 17th. The winners will be announced on Friday February 24th.

Helping me select the winners will be an exceptional panel of media executives. Each of these folks below will choose one person to attend our L.A. event. The final two will be picked by Steve Kamer and myself.

  • Scott Shapiro – Senior Vice President, FOX Sports Radio
  • Justin Craig – Senior Program Director, ESPN Radio
  • Jeff Sottolano – Executive Vice President, Programming, Audacy
  • Bruce Gilbert – Senior Vice President of Sports, Cumulus Media & Westwood One
  • Amanda Gifford – Vice President, Content Strategy & Audio, ESPN
  • Jacob Ullman – Senior Vice President, Production and Talent Development, FOX Sports
  • Greg Strassell – Senior Vice President, Programming, Hubbard Radio
  • Scott Sutherland – Executive Vice President, Bonneville International

To qualify for the BSM Summit College Contest, students must be enrolled in college in the state of California, pursuing a degree that involves course work either in radio, television, print or the digital business. Those attending local trade schools with a focus on broadcasting are also welcome to participate. You must be able to take care of your own transportation and/or lodging.

This is a contest I enjoy running. We’ve had great participation during our prior two shows in New York City but haven’t done it before on the west coast. I’m hoping it’s helpful to California students and look forward to hearing from many of them during the next month.

For students who live out of state and wish to attend or those enrolled at local universities who enter the contest but aren’t lucky enough to win one of the ten free tickets from Steve Kamer Voiceovers, we are introducing a special two-day college ticket for just $124.99. You must provide proof that you’re currently in school to take advantage of the offer. This ticket gives you access to all of our sessions inside the Founders Club. College tickets will be limited to forty (40) seats so take advantage of the opportunity before it expires.

The 2023 BSM Summit will feature award ceremonies with Emmis Communication CEO Jeff Smulyan and legendary WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, sessions with influential on-air talent such as Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, and Mina Kimes, big picture business conversations with executives from groups such as Audacy, iHeart, Bonneville, Good Karma Brands, Barstool, The Volume, Omaha Productions and more. For details on tickets and hotel rooms visit BSMsummit.com.

I look forward to seeing you in March in Los Angeles!

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