The BSM Top 20 of 2020 rolls on, and this time rather than highlighting the shows that occupy the sports radio airwaves, we’re going to shine the light behind the curtain on the men and women responsible for guiding some of America’s top sports radio brands. Programmers were tested more than ever in 2020, as a pandemic forced adjustments to daily communication, day to day operations, and a rethinking of how to reach the audience across multiple platforms due to changes in daily listening behavior. Combined with the challenge of creating on-air sports talk during a time when the world of sports offered no new live moments, and industry professionals and audience members alike learned which stations were in strong hands and which ones weren’t.
Before you jump ahead to see the results, please join me in thanking Steve Stone Voiceovers for sponsoring our Top 20 series. As an independent platform we depend on industry support, and Steve’s help makes this series possible. Secondly, I want to acknowledge my son Dylan Barrett, who handled all of the creative for this year’s Top 20 series. He spent all of January digging thru personality and brand accounts to find pictures, editing them in Photoshop, and the images you’ll be sharing on social media or printing off to hang inside your office or studio are a reflection of his hard work. If you don’t like the photo we used to recognize your show or station, may I suggest bugging your program director or market manager to spend a few dollars in 2021 on new station photos 🙂
Lastly, radio companies have recently been trying to rename the title of the person in charge of the programming department. Some are now called Brand Managers, others Operations Managers. We’re going to call them what they are – Program Directors. After all, they run the PROGRAMMING department. Having talked to as many people as I do in this business, I’ve heard many say they’d like to become a program director. I’ve yet to hear one person say they aspire to be a brand manager. If the industry can create a better title that takes into account a PD’s involvement with ratings, revenue, strategy, innovation, content, creativity, digital, vision, marketing, recruitment, leadership, negotiating, and audience development, we’ll look at redefining this category, but until that happens, we’re not going to stick them with a title that makes them sound like they manage a local Walmart.
As it pertains to the voting, here are a few things to keep in mind.
#1 – These results are based on 2020’s performance. 2021 changes have no impact on the voting. Our one specific rule that has been in place since we started this series in 2015 is that a show/individual must finish the year in the position for which they are being considered. Therefore, someone like Tom Goslowski, who exited 104.5 The Team in Albany, NY in January, was eligible for voting consideration since he programmed the radio station thru the end of 2020. A programmer such as Tony DiGiacomo, who was with WFNZ for the first three months of 2020, was not eligible since he didn’t finish the year leading the radio station.
#2 – Our executive panel consists of program directors and corporate executives from a number of top broadcasting companies including Entercom, iHeart, Cumulus, ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio, SiriusXM, Spotify, Hubbard, Good Karma Brands, Emmis, and independently owned and operated radio stations. We involve a large number of groups in order to receive feedback from all parts of the country, as well as to avoid the results heavily favoring one company. BSM President Jason Barrett does not vote, he simply presents the results.
#3 – A total of 52 programmers were eligible for voting consideration in the Mid Market Program Directors category.
#4 – Our executive panel picked their Top 20 program directors based on a few factors; station success, multi-platform excellence, industry respect, and creative ideas. Keep in mind that our voters live in different cities, have different tastes, and work for different companies, so certain factors are likely to be given more or less merit. This isn’t a perfect science, but it’s the best system we can think of to showcase sports radio’s best.
And that brings us to the rankings for this year’s Mid Market Sports Radio Program Directors. It’s a pleasure for BSM to congratulate Jim Graci of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh on being named the #1 Mid Market Sports Radio PD for 2020. The man responsible for shaping the content strategy for 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh finished six (6) points in front of 92.3 The Fan’s Andy Roth to earn this year’s top prize. We extend our best to Jim and the entire 93.7 The Fan programming staff on a well deserved honor, as well as all of the other programmers who appeared on this year’s list.
Now, here are the full results of “BSM’s Top 20 Mid Market Sports Radio Program Directors of 2020!”
- Ryan Haney received the most 1st place votes with four (4); Jim Graci and Andy Roth were tied for second with three (3).
- Spots 21-25 belonged to Tim Scott of 97.3 The Game, Andy Sweeney of ESPN Louisville, Mike Thompson of 1620 The Zone, Jimmy Clark of 107.5 The Fan, and Cade Voisin of 104.5 ESPN.
- The tightest races saw Chris Baker edge Jeff Rickard by one (1) point, and Paul Mason and Kyle Englehart hold off Steven Spector and Ryan Porth by two (2) points each.
- Of the 52 program directors eligible for voting consideration, ten (10) received at least one (1) 1st place vote.
Here is the remaining schedule for the BSM Top 20 of 2020.
- Monday February 8 = The 2020 Top 20 Major/Mid-Market Sports Stations
- Tuesday February 9 = The 2020 Top 20 Original Sports Podcasts