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Sports, Diversity & Multi-Platform Focus Will Shape ESPN Radio’s Future

“Nobody makes decisions in a vacuum. It’s a matter of understanding the markets, analyzing the research, reviewing the ratings, and placing a focus on the importance of cross platform content creators.”

Jason Barrett

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Sports Diversity

Since January 1, 1992, ESPN Radio has introduced listeners across the nation to some of the biggest and best personalities in sports media, while delivering ratings, respect, and revenue to hundreds of America’s sports radio stations. The Bristol run network has provided stability to radio affiliates by relying on a mixture of transparency, a powerful brand name, access to the network’s star studded talent roster, play by play of big sporting events, and a second to none lineup, which has been both consistent and talented.

If you say the name ESPN Radio to listeners and industry professionals, it carries weight. Some say it stands for sports and success. Others highlight talent and entertainment. Some point to credibility and quality. The bottom line, ESPN Radio has earned a stellar reputation due to a strong track record of satisfying listeners, rewarding partners, and featuring top notch talent and quality programming. It’s why affiliates continue to pay annual rights fees and give up large chunks of ad inventory to associate their stations with the biggest brand name in sports audio entertainment.

But a couple of recent lineup changes have radio affiliates nervous about the future direction of the network. Some of those concerns were shared last week on this website by ten anonymous program directors in a piece written by Demetri Ravanos. I’ve heard similar complaints and frustrations from market managers, executives and programmers. Some have even contemplated whether it was time to terminate their relationship with the worldwide leader, uncertain that a better lineup, consistency, and higher ratings are around the corner.

At the center of the conversation is ESPN’s Senior Vice President of Production David Roberts, who finds himself with the unenviable task of having to retain confidence of the network’s radio partners, while adding new voices with multi-platform experience to help ESPN Radio excel in a rapidly changing media climate. A seasoned executive who also manages ESPN’s daytime lineup of First Take, Get Up, Highly Questionable, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, and SportsCenter, and recently added oversight of Jalen & Jacoby, ESPN podcasts and events, and production of digital studio shows and YouTube, Roberts understands that change is difficult for some. Though he knows questions may be raised initially of the network’s decisions, Roberts is hoping the introduction of new talent and a lengthy track record of on-air and sales performance will afford the network an opportunity to demonstrate it’s still capable of delivering strong results for its radio partners.

Allen House Studios
photo by Allen House Studios

In Roberts, ESPN has a leader who Stephen A. Smith has a high level of confidence in. During an interview with Front Office Sports in August, Smith said “Leadership comes in a variety of forms, varying from quiet, to no-nonsense, to in-your-face. No matter the category, the end result requires winning, and that’s precisely what Dave Roberts does: win. With practically everything he touches, because he’s excellent — and requires it. Because he’s accountable — and demands accountability. And because losing is never an acceptable option for him. That’s Dave Roberts in a nutshell. If you’re about winning, you want to work for this man.”

A ringing endorsement from one of ESPN’s most successful and hard working talents should strike a chord with some, but Roberts knows it’s going to take more than just positive commentary from high profile colleagues to make radio affiliates feel excited and confident in the network’s new on-air direction. What shouldn’t be lost on anyone is that many of the new faces and voices featured on ESPN Radio are diverse, have a presence beyond radio, and are committed to talking sports. Roberts and his leadership team see a big advantage in being able to expose their talent to fans across the company’s various platforms, and by placing an even higher premium on talking sports, one thing ESPN is best known for, they’re hoping to attract more eyes and ears to ESPN Radio’s shows, and lead the brand to its next decade of success.

Given the network’s recent changes and reactions across the industry, I thought it was important to provide balance to this story. I reached out to David Roberts last week and offered him an opportunity to have a candid conversation about losing Dan Le Batard, the multiple lineup changes, the network’s current relationship with radio affiliates, and his vision for ESPN Radio. To his credit, he accepted and answered every question. Whether you agree with the lineup changes or not, I’m sure you’ll appreciate his willingness to go on the record and offer some insight on where the network is headed.

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JB: I apologize in advance for aging you, but you’ve been around this game for a while. Over four decades in fact. Some industry folks are going to see your lengthy track record in television including your current list of TV management responsibilities and wonder how important radio is to you. You’re in charge of a brand, ESPN Radio, which has been successful for a long time, and is depended on by a large number of operators. For those who aren’t familiar with your radio story, when did you first take an interest in the medium, and where have you worked prior to assuming the lead executive role at the network?

DR: As a kid growing up in Detroit, I was fortunate to be around one of the great stations in the country WJR. Being a sports fan, I was connected to that radio station. They aired the games of my favorite teams and I listened a lot. I was actually lucky enough to be welcomed into the Tigers radio booth at 6 years old by Ernie Harwell, one of my inspirations to get into this industry. I became a student of radio first before I moved into television and have had a long appreciation for the medium. I then had a chance to venture into network radio with 98.7 ESPN NY. I managed the business of our NY sports radio station and worked hands on with content, sales, and play by play partners, and it gave me a chance to get familiar with our Bristol operation. I believe one of the keys to radio is to operate with a cross platform approach. That’s the way of the world in all of media today.

JB: The first place I want to focus on is the process of making changes. That’s a big topic of conversation right now in the industry due to the network changing up the lineup in August and recently announcing forthcoming changes again in January. When you’re deciding whether or not to switch something with a host or lineup, how do you decide whether or not to stand pat or pursue a new direction?

DR: The first key is to listen to your customers – the audience. And the affiliates of course too. Nobody makes decisions in a vacuum. It’s a matter of understanding the markets, analyzing the research, reviewing the ratings, and placing a focus on the importance of cross platform content creators. The days of being just a radio focused brand are long gone. You have to be focused on audio, video, digital. Those are the parameters you have to operate in.

Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images
Photo by Joe Faraoni ESPN Images

JB: I’ll get to the recent news in a moment but I first want to go backwards to August because that’s when we first got a glimpse of ESPN Radio’s plans for the present and future. You brought in Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti to host the morning show. Greeny and Max were added between 12p-4p ET, and you launched a new show with Mike Golic Jr. and Chiney Ogwumike in afternoons. What was it that excited you about featuring Keyshawn, Jay and Zubin in morning drive?

DR: When we made changes in August and brought in Keyshawn, Jay, and Zubin, we felt these were three guys who not only worked on radio, but were appearing on major football and basketball franchises, along with SportsCenter. Each is different in their style which is what helps in making a great show. Keyshawn especially has a great, large personality and big opinions, and was very successful doing mornings in Los Angeles. If you’re going to have a vision for the next twenty years, you have to have a vision that’s different from where you were. When you build with people like Keyshawn, Jay, Zubin, Max, Greeny, Golic Jr., Chiney, we’re looking at the essence of diversity, and a renewed commitment to cross platform programming built around sports. We’re in the business of being interesting and these people are willing to do whatever it takes to provide star power to the affiliates across the country. They also know we have to work harder and be strategically smarter to build a new identity for ESPN Radio by using all of our platforms to help us.

JB: I want to ask you about the situation with Dan Le Batard. In August, his show got trimmed by an hour during the initial lineup remodel. Now four months later it’s revealed that he’s no longer going to be with the company. If this was where the relationship was heading, why not just move on in August?

DR: The timing would not have worked out in August to do that. We are in a stronger position now to move Mike into that slot. He reestablished himself on radio the past few months and the response to his show has been great. We believe by moving him earlier in the day it will allow us to build a stronger presence out west with sports being a huge part of our focus. We also now have Bart Scott and Alan Hahn joining the lineup which we also feel good about. The focus for us is on where we’re headed and making sure that we produce the best sports talk radio available to affiliates across the country.

JB: I know that Dan’s radio program wasn’t a big ratings performer and growing the affiliate base had its share of challenges. That said, he was a cross platform star with a large television presence, strong digital success, and he was liked and respected by many ESPN talents. I couldn’t help but notice that in his goodbye statement, he thanked nearly every ESPN employee except yourself and Norby Williamson. What was your reaction to that?

DR: I’m not going to get into that. I have no issue with Dan personally. He served the company well and I’m sure he will do big things going forward at his next stop. We just feel these moves will help us better serve our affiliates, grow our business, and focus more on talking sports. Don’t get me wrong, we will discuss non-sports issues when its appropriate, but we’re in a stronger position to do what we do best, which is talking about sports. People don’t tune into CNN for two to three hours of a format that isn’t consistent with news. We have an audience that expects us to deliver certain expectations and we want to be true to it.

JB: Let’s talk about your radio affiliates. As you know, we produced a piece last week which featured feedback from ten programmers who are very concerned about the multiple changes and future direction of the network. How do you plan to retain and regain their confidence?

DR: I try to make myself very accessible to the people who work for me and those who do business with us. We also have a great affiliate leader in Jeff Martindale who’s frequently in touch with our radio partners. But I want to hear feedback from our affiliates. I won’t provide spin lines or BS. If I like the idea, I’ll tell them. If we can’t do it or it doesn’t make sense, I’ll tell them that too. They can always email me at David.Roberts@espn.com. I hope they’ll take me up on that offer. As a network operator and programmer we know we can’t serve everyone 100% of the time but what we will do is listen to our affiliates. When we pass the Super Bowl, we’ll be at the six month mark of this plan. We’ll be creating a virtual town hall that will include some of our affiliates so we can get more input from them. I’m a believer that nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. We’re all looking to move in the same direction and win together and we want to be a valued partner to our radio stations. We’re going to continue making our talent more available to our radio partners. I know change is difficult for some, but if you’re satisfied with the status quo, you’re expecting to lose, and we’re not interested in losing. People have tons of options of where to spend their time and we want to make sure we’re in position to be one of their top considerations.

photo by Sports Business Daily
photo by Sports Business Daily

JB: I think it’s great that you’re willing to make yourself accessible to your customers thru email because these folks are important to your success, just as you are to theirs. I did speak to one executive last week who said that they’ve voiced their concerns about ratings challenges with the morning show but when the issue was raised it was dismissed by someone at the network who pointed to places where the show has done well. Though that may be true, if a station is struggling they’re not going to care much about another market that’s having better luck. You obviously can’t please each affiliate all the time but that specific example prompted the station executive to question if radio matters to the network’s brass. What do you say to that?

DR: Radio absolutely matters to me and our management team. We’re making these changes to grow our business, as well as the business for our radio partners. We have a lot of people on this roster, men, women, white, black, during the weekday and weekends, and we’re doing this to expand the audience and help everyone who’s part of our success. This is an intimate medium and we take this business seriously. But understand that these things don’t happen overnight. It takes time. Our focus is firmly planted on the future, and we are just reaching four months of this new identity of ESPN Radio. Our promise is to be transparent with our partners and advertisers, and to work harder, strategically smarter, and bring our effort and commitment 24/7.

JB: You’ve been an advocate for diversity and have made a number of changes to the lineup to introduce talent from various backgrounds to the audience and your affiliate partners. Why do you believe it’s important for the company to demonstrate it’s not only an all-inclusive company with strong values, but also to expand the listenership for ESPN Radio?

DR: We have a strong belief at ESPN that diversity is not only the right thing to do but a key part to growing any successful business. The depth of our African American/black voices on our radio network in prime dayparts clearly represents our commitment to demonstrating that you can and must do more than sit around and talk about diversity. You can and must take action and stop making excuses about how difficult it supposedly is to find “diverse” people.

JB: Stephen A. Smith left his radio show last January to focus more on his TV work. This year, Mike Greenberg and Max Kellerman returned to radio, and though their additions were welcomed because they’re both very good at hosting radio programs, there’s a little bit of concern out there that these are short-term moves rather than long-term ones. How do you assure your radio partners that these guys are here for the long-haul?

DR: Greeny and Max are not placeholders. They are solid building blocks for us now and in the future. You don’t commit to these type of names without saying to everyone, including those involved that this is important. Once people get to know our talent better I am confident they will grow to appreciate them more. I’m proud of where we are and where we’re going. I think we’re going to do a lot of great things with this brand and Max and Greeny will be a big part of that success.

JB: I’m sure you can understand though David that when big changes like this are made twice within a span of four months, there are going to be a lot of people in local leadership positions who are worried about it happening again in the near future.

DR: I do understand that, but throughout the course of my career I’ve tried not to worry about reactions to decisions. If you are in a leadership position it comes with the territory. The objective is to wind up with better programming than what you had on before. That’s no slight on those who were there previously. It just means we’re looking for ways to continue growing our product. We’re listening to the feedback, and appreciate it, even when it’s not favorable, but there’s a plan in place and we’re committed to it.

ESPN Radio

JB: If you look at the national sports radio landscape today, FOX Sports Radio has really strengthened its product. SiriusXM has a wide array of strong national content. You also have CBS Sports Radio, VSiN, and SportsMap who are in the space and vying for stations to carry their programming. How much attention do you pay to your competition and does it factor in at all when considering how you position your lineup?

DR: I have the utmost respect for our competition. There are some very talented personalities and brands out there. But I’m not focused on what they’re doing. I’m looking at how we can improve ESPN Radio. A key part of our strategy is making sure our platforms are connecting with one another. It’s why you see many of the people on our product today. That underscores the commitment we have to maximizing the strength of the ESPN brand to the depth of talent. That’s integral to our strategy and growth. Any decisions we make are going to be made with that being a key focus.

JB: Some may read that David and say ‘but that just means you’re not committed to radio people. You’re just putting TV personalities on radio.’ Does it matter to you if the on-air talent are or aren’t radio hosts?

DR: The media business has evolved. It’s a cross platform landscape. The days of being a ‘radio person’ have long ended. If you think otherwise you’re not being realistic. Today, you have to connect in multiple ways. That’s how you build a bigger brand. If we have partners who’d like me to explain my thinking on that further I hope they’ll reach out. I want to learn more from them too, and I hope they’ll be open to how we can help each other. We’re trying to create win-win scenarios.

JB: Every operator that makes changes to a product understands that there are going to be more eyeballs watching to see if the results improve afterwards. But in the network world, growth isn’t as simple as looking at ratings because you could be up 50% in two key markets, yet down 50% in two others. When you analyze these changes a year or two from now, how will you know if these moves produced success or a step back for ESPN Radio?

DR: For us, success will depend on a couple of factors. We’ll of course look at the ratings, and where we are in the growth cycle with affiliates, but our main focus is to position the network to be strong. This pandemic has created a lot of challenges for media operators and we want to provide a sense of normalcy for our audience. Our expectations are to deliver the strongest programming we can, using the best talent we have available. This is going to take a full team effort from myself to our staff, our affiliate partners and advertisers. We feel good about the direction we’re heading in, we believe in our people, and we will listen to our affiliates and deliver them a successful product.

Barrett Blogs

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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