Presenting Another Award At the BSM Summit is a Good Sign For Jeff Smulyan
“The conference has become the place everybody has to be. That is all a tribute to Jason’s hard work.”
Jeff Smulyan has pretty much done it all in his sports radio career. He has an actual award named after himself, which Smulyan will present at the upcoming BSM Summit in Los Angeles next week.
Some of his titles include founder, CEO, and chairman of Emmis Communications. Smulyan was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame last year. Oh, and you can add sports radio pioneer to the list considering he launched WFAN in New York as the first all-sports station in the United States.
I think of the classic line ESPN’s Chris Berman has said many times over the years, “I remember because I was there.” Smulyan can literally say the same thing about the birth of sports talk radio. He isn’t referred to as the father of sports radio for nothing; he was in the delivery room.
Smulyan chats about what it means to present his dear friend, Julie Talbott, with a prestigious award. He shares thoughts on what he wants the future of sports radio to look like and has some interesting views about what makes on-air hosts successful in their local markets. Smulyan is a huge baseball fan and is excited to see Al Michaels at the Summit. He shares a funny story about something Michaels said to him roughly 35 years ago. Enjoy!
Brian Noe: What is it about the Summit as a whole that you’re most looking forward to?
Jeff Smulyan: I present Julie Talbott with her award on Wednesday. Looking forward to it. And seeing people. I marvel at what Jason [Barrett] has built, very proud of him. I kidded four or five years ago when he called me and said ‘We want to name the award after you’, and I said, ‘Well, I’m just happy it’s in my honor, not in my memory.’
JS: Presenting the award every year, Julie is a very dear friend, somebody I absolutely adore. So it’s very exciting to be able to do that.
BN: What would you say about Julie’s career to the people that are well aware of it, and to the people that might not know everything that she’s meant to the radio industry?
JS: She has built Premiere into a major force, and she’s built it through the force of her personality. She is someone that is absolutely as good at this as anyone I’ve ever known because people adore Julie Talbott. They love working with her. She is smart. She treats people well. Again, this is one of those businesses that is built because of the force of her personality. People trust her. People love her. I don’t know what more you can say.
BN: A lot of people say similar things about you. You’re a Radio Hall of Famer, you’ve got a BSM award named after you. When you reflect back on your radio career, what’s the one thing at the top of the list where you say, I never thought that would happen?
JS: Well, obviously, having an award named after me, I never thought would happen, for sure. There’s so many wonderful experiences, people that I have worked with for many, many years and still work with, and friends I’ve made in the industry. I think how rewarding it’s been. The industry has had its ups and downs and nobody knows that more than me. Nobody’s lived that more than me. But the experiences have just been priceless.
BN: Who are some of the people that will be at the Summit that you would say, ‘listen closely to what this person is talking about’?
JS: There are so many of them. I would just say seeing Al Michaels, who I sort of idolized, receive an award is great. Obviously, Julie. But there are so many people. I mean, you look at the sessions; if you’re in sports radio, you need to be there. This is the place you need to be.
BN: If we suspend reality, had the Summit been around when you basically started sports radio, what’s a piece of advice that would’ve helped you out greatly?
JS: Maybe the best advice is, what are you doing? Nobody wanted us to do WFAN. It’s kind of well known that that was my baby, that our managers voted it down. Then I said you can’t lead where other people won’t follow, so we’re not going to do it. The next day, Rick Cummings, who will be at the Summit, and who is my dear, dear, dear friend, we’ve been together almost 50 years, walked into my office and said ‘Look, we still think it’s a stupid idea. Nobody’s ever hosted all-sports radio, but we owe you one, so we’ll do it anyway.’
BN: That’s great, man. What would you say is one of the mistakes that you made? Again, being a pioneer in sports radio, but what’s one of the mistakes that you made that you would say ‘Hey, look out for this’ to the next person?
JS: We made FAN in the beginning like a national network. And how we missed it, I don’t know, but we turned it over to some people who had had history in national sports radio. We quickly realized that for FAN to work, it really had to be about New York, about New York sports fans, about New York teams. I think that was an egregious mistake we made at the very beginning.
BN: Do you think that holds true for local stations around the country?
JS: Absolutely. Absolutely. Listen, I’m in Indianapolis right now. I was listening to our guys talk about — well, they’re not my guys anymore, they used to be, they’re Urban One’s guys — but talk this morning about what the Colts do with the fourth pick. I can tell you that while everybody may be interested in what the Steelers do, or what the Lions do, 99% of the people in Indianapolis want to know what the Colts are going to do with the fourth pick.
Do we get Lamar Jackson? Do we trade up to three to make sure we get Richardson? Do we want Levis? This is what sports fans do. Listen, I’ve said a lot, Karl Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses. Well, today sports is the opiate of the masses.
BN: Every other format has a radio conference. Why is the Summit different than the other genres of radio conferences?
JS: Well, I’m not sure it’s that different. It is different in the sense that other radio conferences are general. They’re talking about country and they’re talking about top 40 and album rock and news talk. The Summit is just people who are talking about sports and sports radio.
BN: Is there anything that’s different about the way it’s talked about, or the way sports radio goes about it compared to news radio or whatever else out there?
JS: Not really. We learned early on in my career that if you’re playing top 40 radio or country or album rock, you got to play the hits. And sports radio plays the hits, too. When we started up FAN, we had a Belmont report from the racetrack. We had reports on auto racing or other things. And the hits were the Knicks and the Rangers, the Yankees and the Mets, and the Giants and the Jets. So play the hits. It’s the same thing.
BN: Depending on the market, there might not be a lot of baseball talk in sports radio. Did you ever think that would become the norm?
JS: Well, I grew up as a baseball fan. Obviously, I guess buying a Major League Baseball team [the Seattle Mariners] kind of proves that. But we thought the key to sports radio was having — I used to liken it to a shopping center. The shopping centers used to be successful because you had Sears or you had Nordstrom, you had an anchor tenant. Well, our anchor tenant was the Mets, because we knew they were going to have 170 games a year counting spring training, and for three hours a day, four hours a day, 170 days of the year, they were going to have baseball. That means a lot of people are going to come into that frequency, and building sports radio around it made it much, much easier.
BN: When the goal is to play the hits, what sport would you say in general is the biggest hit?
JS: It depends where you are. If you’re in Birmingham, the hit is Alabama and Auburn football. If you’re in New York, it’s the Jets and Giants, the Knicks and Rangers, and the Mets and the Yankees. It just depends. In Indianapolis it’s the Colts and the Pacers and then IU and then Purdue and then Notre Dame and then Butler. The hits are wherever you are. The hits are, what are people talking about every day?
BN: Let’s pick Indianapolis because that’s where you’re at. If a host was talking about Jalen Ramsey getting traded to the Miami Dolphins and it doesn’t relate to the Colts at all, what would you say to a broadcaster that makes that mistake?
JS: I think you’d say, okay, there may be some relevance but don’t spend a lot of time on it. You may want to talk about Jalen Ramsey getting traded. You remember when he played in Jacksonville and he shut down T.Y. Hilton or whatever. But the reality is, it comes back to why does it affect me?
BN: When you think about the future of sports radio, what would you want it to look like?
JS: I think you’d want it to look like something that captures the passion of the people in each market, and matters to them a lot. I think sports radio has an opportunity unlike hit music, top 40, where you can get all those songs on Spotify with less commercials, you can’t get Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts analysis really anywhere but the sports radio station here. Uniqueness makes a difference to people. It makes it much better business.
BN: How do you see sports radio evolving and changing? Smartphones are everywhere. I see a lot of video casts with sports radio. Do you see anything else greatly changing from where it started?
JS: The world is fragmented so much. I think you’ve got to retain the position. I’ve always said radio will survive as long as it matters to people. I would submit that as long as you matter to people and provide compelling content about things they care about, you’ll be okay.
BN: I’m just thinking about you being on stage and presenting Julie Talbott with an award named after you. Do you think there will be a moment where you pause and you’re like ‘Wow’, as you’re speaking and taking it all in at the same time?
JS: As I told Jason a long time ago, usually these awards are presented in memory of somebody. I presented Dick Wiley with the Ed McLaughlin Award the other night, although he has passed away. So me presenting an award named after me is very bizarre. No question. The good news is this is like the fifth or sixth time I presented it, which is a good sign given my age.
BN: Absolutely. You touched on this briefly earlier. What would you say to a young broadcaster, especially, that’s thinking about going to the Summit but hasn’t fully committed?
JS: If you want to be in sports radio, this is where you have to be. Everybody that’s relevant to your career in sports radio is going to be there. Well, not everybody, I’m sure, but almost every decision-maker, every programmer, major talent. This is a pretty easy call. If you’re interested in sports, and the future of sports radio, I think this is a place you got to be.
BN: What would you say about Jason Barrett, specifically, what he’s meant to the industry and what the Summit has grown into now?
JS: I’m so proud of Jason because he really took this idea and ran with it. He has become the absolute be-all and end-all in sports radio. The conference has become the place everybody has to be. That is all a tribute to Jason’s hard work. It’s amazing how well you do when you work really hard. And Jason, I know he puts months into this Summit. He spends all this time getting everybody organized. I’m just very proud of him. Very happy for him.
BN: When you think about all the different branches of sports radio, from a station ownership standpoint, from a talent or management standpoint, can people from all those different branches go to the Summit and gain a lot from it?
JS: Well sure, because if you’re an owner, or a programmer, or a manager, or talent, you’re going to deal with other people in that same space. That’s how you learn when you network, when you talk to people. Listen, I could be the greatest sports talk talent in the world, but I guarantee you, listening to five other guys in the format, I can learn something new. Same with being an owner. Same with being a manager. Same with being a programmer. The interaction with other people, listening to other people, networking with other people.
Over my career, you learn as much in the hallways as you do at some of the seminars, just because you’re interacting with people. I always used to say that your greatest competitor lives the same life you do. He or she goes home at night and has the same problems you do. So getting together with your competitors, or people who do the same thing you do in other cities is incredibly important.
BN: Someone might walk up to you like ‘Wow, man, it’s Jeff, he’s the father of sports radio’. Is there anybody who will be at the Summit this year, where you feel similarly about them?
JS: I have admired Al Michaels. I will tell you, Al Michaels gave me a compliment. He has no idea, but I can tell you exactly, it was 35 years ago because I think it was my 40th birthday. I was in the gym at a hotel; we were playing a spring training game in Las Vegas. In those days when my knees were better, I could run uphill on the treadmill.
He watched me. I didn’t even know he was in the gym. He came up when I got done and he said ‘You know, you’re in better shape than most of your players’. I laughed. I’m sure he has no idea. I didn’t know he knew me. I’ve always been a fan of Al’s. When I see him, I haven’t seen him in ages, but I’ll have to remind him of that.
Brian Noe is a columnist for BSM and an on-air host heard nationwide on FOX Sports Radio’s Countdown To Kickoff. Previous roles include stops in Portland, OR, Albany, NY and Fresno, CA. You can follow him on Twitter @TheNoeShow or email him at email@example.com.
Amanda Brown Has Embraced The Bright Lights of Hollywood
“My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and eight others aboard a helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, sent shockwaves around the world of sports, entertainment, and culture. People traveled to Los Angeles following the devastating news and left flowers outside the then-named STAPLES Center, the arena which Bryant called home for much of his career, demonstrating the magnitude of the loss. Just across the street from the arena, Amanda Brown and the staff at ESPN Los Angeles 710 had embarked in ongoing breaking news coverage, lamentation, and reflection.
It included coverage of a sellout celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter and teams around the NBA opting to take 8-second and 24-second violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers throughout his 20-year NBA career. They currently hang in the rafters at Crypto.com Arena, making Bryant the only player in franchise history to have two numbers retired.
During this tumultuous time, Bryant’s philosophy served as a viable guiding force, something that Brown quickly ascertained in her first month as the station’s new program director.
“I had people that were in Northern California hopping on planes to get here,” Brown said. “You didn’t even have to ask people [to] go to the station; people were like, ‘I’m on my way.’ It was the way that everybody really came together to do really great radio, and we did it that day and we did it the next day and we did it for several days.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is quickly approaching, and Brown will be attending the event for the first time since 2020. During her first experience at the BSM Summit in New York, Brown had just become a program director and was trying to assimilate into her role. Because of this, she prioritized networking, building contacts, and expressing her ideas to others in the space. This year, she looks forward to connecting with other program directors and media professionals around the country while also seeking to learn more about the nuances of the industry.
“The Summit is kind of like a meeting of the minds,” Brown said. “It’s people throughout the country and the business…. More than anything, [the first time] wasn’t so much about the panels as it was about the people.”
Growing up in Orange County, Brown had an interest in the Los Angeles Lakers from a young age, being drawn to play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn. Brown refers to Hearn as inspiration to explore a career in broadcasting. After studying communications at California State University in Fullerton, she was afforded an opportunity to work as a producer at ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM by program director Scott Masteller, who she still speaks to on a regular basis. It was through Masteller’s confidence in her, in addition to support from operations manager Dave Schorr, that helped make Brown feel more comfortable working in sports media.
“I never felt like I was a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Brown said. “I always just felt like I was a part of the industry. For me, I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I deserve to be here; I deserve a seat at the table.’”
Brown quickly rose up the ranks when she began working on ESPN Radio in Bristol, Conn., working as a producer for a national radio show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt, along with The Sports Bash with Erik Kuselias. Following five-and-a-half years in Bristol, Brown requested a move back to California and has worked at ESPN Los Angeles 710 ever since. She began her tenure at the station serving as a producer for shows such as Max and Marcellus and Mason and Ireland.
Through her persistence, work ethic and congeniality, Brown was promoted to assistant program director in July 2016. In this role, she helped oversee the station’s content while helping the entity maintain live game broadcast rights and explore new opportunities to augment its foothold, including becoming the flagship radio home of the Los Angeles Rams.
“Don’t sit back and wait for your managers or your bosses to come to you and ask what you want to do,” Brown advised. “Go after what you want, and that’s what I’ve always done. I always went to my managers and was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this. Give me a chance; let me do that.’ For the most part, my managers have been receptive and given me those opportunities.”
When executive producer Dan Zampillo left the station to join Spotify to work as a sports producer, Brown was subsequently promoted to program director where she has helped shape the future direction of the entity. From helping lead the brand amid its sale to Good Karma Brands in the first quarter of 2022; to revamping the daily lineup with compelling local programs, Brown has gained invaluable experience and remains keenly aware of the challenges the industry faces down the road. For sports media outlets in Los Angeles, some of the challenge is merely by virtue of its geography.
“We’re in sunny Southern California where there’s a lot of things happening,” Brown said. “We’re in the middle of Hollywood. People have a lot of opportunities – you can go to the mountains; you can go to the beach. I think [our market] is more about entertainment than it is about actual hard-core sports. Yes, obviously you have hard-core Lakers fans; you have hard-core Dodgers fans, but a majority of the fans are pretty average sports fans.”
Because of favorable weather conditions and an endless supply of distractions, Brown knows that the way to attract people to sports talk radio is through its entertainment value. With this principle in mind, she has advised her hosts not to worry so much about the specific topics they are discussing, but rather to ensure they are entertaining listeners throughout the process.
“People know the four letters E-S-P-N mean sports, but really our focus is more on entertainment more than anything,” Brown said. “I think the [talent] that stick out the most are the ones that are the most entertaining.”
Entertaining listeners, however, comes through determining what they are discussing and thinking about and providing relevant coverage about those topics. Even though it has not yet been legalized in the state of California, sports gambling content has been steadily on the rise since the Supreme Court made a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act established in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018). Nonetheless, Brown and ESPN Los Angeles 710 have remained proactive, launching a sports gambling show on Thursday nights to try to adjust to the growing niche of the industry.
Even though she has worked in producing and programming for most of her career, Brown is eager to learn about the effect sports gambling has on audio sales departments. At the same time, she hopes to be able to more clearly determine how the station can effectuate its coverage if and when it becomes legal in their locale.
“I know that a lot of other markets have that,” Brown said regarding the legalization of sports gambling. “For me, I’m interested to hear from people who have that in their markets and how they’ve monetized that and the opportunity.”
No matter the content, though, dedicated sports radio listeners are genuinely consuming shows largely to hear certain talent. Brown recalls receiving a compliment on Twitter earlier this quarter where a listener commented that he listens to ESPN Los Angeles 710 specifically for Sedano and Kap. Evidently, it acted as a tangible sign that her philosophy centered around keeping people engrossed in the content is working, and that providing the audience what it wants to hear is conducive to success.
At this year’s BSM Summit, Brown will be participating on The Wheel of Content panel, presented by Core Image Studio, featuring ESPN analyst Mina Kimes and FOX Sports host Joy Taylor. Through their discussion, she intends to showcase a different perspective of what goes into content creation and the interaction that takes place between involved parties.
“A lot of times in the past, all the talent were on one panel; all the programmers were on one panel,” Brown said. “To put talent and a programmer together, I think it’s an opportunity for people to hear both sides on certain issues.”
According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM (terrestrial) radio among persons 18-34 has a greater average audience than television. The statistical anomaly, which was forecast several years earlier, came to fruition most likely due to emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Simultaneously, good content is required to captivate consumers, and radio, through quantifiable and qualifiable metrics, has been able to tailor its content to the listening audience and integrate it across multiple platforms of dissemination. The panel will give Brown a chance to speak in front of her peers and other industry professionals about changes in audio consumption, effectuated by emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Yet when it comes to radio as a whole, the patterns clearly point towards the proliferation of digital content – whether those be traditional radio programs or modernized podcasts. Moreover, utilizing various elements of presentation provides consumers a greater opportunity of finding and potentially engaging with the content.
“We do YouTube streaming; obviously, we stream on our app,” Brown said. “We’ve even created, at times, stream-only shows whether it’s stream-only video or stream-only on our app. We all know that people want content on-demand when they want it. I think it’s about giving them what they want.”
As a woman in sports media, Brown is cognizant about having to combat misogyny from those inside and outside of the industry, and is grateful to have had the support of many colleagues. In holding a management position in the second-largest media market in the United States, she strives to set a positive example to aspiring broadcasters. Additionally, she aims to be a trusted and accessible voice to help empower and give other women chances to work in the industry – even if she is not universally lauded.
“I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I’m no different than anyone else – yes, I’m a female – but I’m no different than anyone else,’” Brown expressed. “My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
Through attending events such as the BSM Summit and remaining immersed in sports media and the conversation at large about the future of sports media, Brown can roughly delineate how she can perform her job at a high level.
Although the genuine future of this business is always subject to change, she and her team at ESPN Los Angeles 710 are trying to come up with new ideas to keep the content timely, accurate, informative, and entertaining. She is content in her role as program director with no aspirations to become a general manager; however, remaining in her current role requires consistent effort and a penchant for learning.
“Relationships are very important overall in this business whether you’re a programmer or not,” Brown said. “Relationships with your talent; relationships with your staff. If you invest in your people, then they’re going to be willing to work hard for you and do what you ask them to do.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is mere days away, and those from Los Angeles and numerous other marketplaces will make the trip to The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC).
Aside from Brown, Kimes and Taylor, there will be other voices from across the industry sharing their thoughts on aspects of the industry and how to best shape it going forward, including Colin Cowherd, Rachel Nichols, Al Michaels and Eric Shanks. More details about the industry’s premiere media conference can be found at bsmsummit.com.
“I’m excited to be a female program director amongst male program directors for the first time and get a seat at the table and represent that there can be diversity in this position,” Brown said. “We don’t see a lot of it, but… there is an opportunity, and I hope I can be an example for other people out there [to show] that it’s possible.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he interns in video production with the New York Islanders and formerly worked as production manager for the team’s radio broadcasts. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Pat McAfee Has Thrown Our Business Into a Tailspin
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve, McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
When you have one of the hottest talk shows in America, you’re always up to something. That’s the case for the most popular sports talk show host in America – Pat McAfee.
The former Pro Bowl punter was on top of the world on Wednesday. With over 496,000 concurrent viewers watching at one point, McAfee was able to garner an exclusive interview with frequent guest Aaron Rodgers who announced his intention to play for the Jets.
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve — a new studio, consistent high viewership, a syndication deal with SportsGrid TV, a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel — McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
At the end of the day, he is human and he’s admitted that balancing his show, his ESPN gig with “College Gameday,” and his WWE obligations has taken a toll on him.
McAfee and his wife are expecting their first child soon and he recently told The New York Post he might step away from his deal with FanDuel. Operating his own company has come with the responsibility of making sure his studio is up and running, finding people to operate the technology that puts his show on the air, negotiating with huge behemoths like the NFL for game footage rights, booking guests, booking hotels, implementing marketing plans and other tasks that most on-air personalities rarely have to worry about.
McAfee says he’s looking for a network that would be able to take control of those duties while getting more rest and space to spend time with family while focusing strictly on hosting duties. FanDuel has its own network and has the money to fund such endeavors but is just getting started in the content game. McAfee needs a well-known entity to work with who can take his show to the next level while also honoring his wishes of keeping the show free on YouTube.
The question of how he’s going to be able to do it is something everyone in sports media will be watching. As The Post pointed out in their story, McAfee hasn’t frequently stayed with networks he’s been associated with in the past for too long. He’s worked with Westwood One, DAZN, and Barstool but hasn’t stayed for more than a year or two.
There’s an argument to be made that the latter two companies weren’t as experienced as a network when McAfee signed on with them compared to where they are today which could’ve pushed the host to leave. But at the end of the day, networks want to put money into long-term investments and it’s easy to see a network passing on working with McAfee for fear that he’ll leave them astray when he’s bored.
It’ll also be difficult for McAfee to find a network that doesn’t put him behind a paywall. Amazon and Google are rumored to be potential new homes. But both are trying to increase subscribers for their respective streaming services.
It will be difficult to sell Amazon on investing money to build a channel on YouTube – a rival platform. For Google, they may have the tech infrastructure to create television-like programming but they aren’t an experienced producer, they’ve never produced its own live, daily talk show, and investing in McAfee’s show doesn’t necessarily help increase the number of subscribers watching YouTube TV.
Networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox might make sense to partner with. But McAfee faces the possibility of being censored due to corporate interests. Each of these networks also operates its networks or streaming channels that air talk programming of their own. Investing in McAfee could cannibalize the programming they already own.
And if McAfee works with a traditional network that isn’t ESPN, it could jeopardize his ability to host game casts for Omaha or analyze games on Gameday. It’s not impossible but would definitely be awkward on days that McAfee does his show remotely from locations of ESPN games with ESPN banners and signage that is visible in the background.
If SportsGrid has the money to invest in McAfee, they might be his best bet. They have all the attributes McAfee needs and they already have a relationship with him. It is probably unlikely that he’ll be censored and he would even be able to maintain a relationship with FanDuel – a company SportsGrid also works alongside.
Roku is another option — they already work with Rich Eisen — but they would move his show away from YouTube, something McAfee should resist since the majority of smart TV users use YT more than any other app.
If the NFL gave McAfee editorial independence, they would make the perfect partner but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. NFL Media has independence but it was clear during the night of the Damar Hamlin incident that they will do whatever is necessary to stay away from serious topics that make the league look bad until it’s totally unavoidable.
It’s hard to think of a partner that matches up perfectly with McAfee’s aspirations. But once again, at the moment, he’s on top of the world so anything is possible. The talk show host’s next move will be even more interesting to watch than the other fascinating moves he’s already made that have put the sports media industry in a swivel.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit
“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”
Bring your game plan if you attend the BSM Summit in LA next Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter your purpose for attending: to learn, get a job, speak, or sell an idea, you must be able to read the room. To do that, it helps to know who will be there and how you can cure their pain.
Have a plan and don’t leave home without it. If you have time, buy How to Work a Room by Susan Roane. If you don’t, just follow these five tips:
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Before you arrive at The Summit, figure out what you want, who you want to meet, and what you will say. Once you get there, scout out the room and see if anyone of those people are available. Talk to speakers after they have spoken- don’t worry if you miss what the next speaker says. You are there to meet new people! Most speakers do not stick around for the entire schedule, and you don’t know if they will attend any after-parties, so don’t risk it. Refine your elevator pitch and break the ice with something you have in common. Make sure you introduce yourself to Stephanie, Demetri and Jason from BSM. They know everybody and will help you if they can.
- GET A NAME TAG: Don’t assume that name tags will be provided. Bring your own if you and make your name clear to read. If you are looking to move to LA or want to sell a system to book better guests, put it briefly under your name. Study this to get better at remembering names.
- LOSE THE NOTEBOOK: When you meet folks, ensure your hands are free. Have a business card handy and ask for one of theirs. Remember to look people in the eye and notice what they are doing. If they are scanning the room, pause until they realize they are blowing you off. Do whatever it takes to sound upbeat and open. Don’t let their clothes, hair, or piercings distract from your message. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie but do bring your best business casual wear. A blazer isn’t a bad idea either.
- SHUT UP FIRST! The art of knowing when to end the convo is something you will have to practice. You can tell when the other person’s eye starts darting or they are not using body language that tells you the convo will continue. You end it by telling them you appreciate meeting them and want to connect via email. Ask for a business card. Email is more challenging to ignore than a LinkedIn request, and you can be more detailed in what you want via email.
- WORK THE SCHEDULE: Know who speaks when. That is when you will find the speakers hanging around. Plan your lunch outing to include a few fellow attendees. Be open and conversational with those around you. I am a huge USC fan, so I would walk to McKays– a good spot with plenty of USC football memorabilia on the walls. Sometimes you can find the next day’s speakers at the Day 1 after party. Need a bar? Hit the 901 Club for cheap beer, drinks, and food.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
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