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2023 BSM Summit – March 22, 2023 (Day 2)

We’re keeping you updated on news, key information, and interesting perspectives shared on stage by our speakers.

Jason Barrett



BSM Summit

Day 2 of the 2023 BSM Summit is underway in Los Angeles at the Founders Club at USC. We’re keeping you updated on news, key information, and interesting perspectives shared on stage by our speakers. BSM editor Garrett Searight will be updating this column throughout the day as each session wraps up, so be sure to check back multiple times to avoid missing anything important.

Barrett welcomed attendees to the second day of the BSM Summit, and shared a clip of WWE wrestler Sami Zayn at a recent press conference saying that it is more difficult than ever to create “memorable” content due to so many different options. He asked attendees to remember the question “How do I take something good and turn that into something memorable?’

9:10-9:45 = The Programmer’s Panel presented by

  • Jimmy Powers, 97.1 The Ticket
  • John Mamola, WDAE, Tampa
  • Jeff Rickard, WFNZ, Charlotte
  • Raj Sharan, Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan

The discussion began with a focus on content management.

Jimmy Powers shared he meets with afternoon host Mike Valenti every day. “We give him a long leash, because I know he’s going to deliver. A guy like that is so good, we have to let him create”.

Raj Sharan said data has helped deliver buy-in from his talent. He added that some of the former athletes on his station — like Mark Schlereth and Derek Wolfe — have been coached their entire lives, so the ability to show data and explain why they’re doing what they’re doing has been easy.

John Mamola simply said he trusts his talent. “There’s a lot more focus on how do we get them to be better digitally,” Mamola shared. “Finding the content that they do that we can market better where people can find us more often.”

Jeff Rickard believes everyone is different. “We meet a couple times a week, mostly informally, but once a week formally, and I give them one thing. I ask questions to get them to start thinking about what they wanna do. Everybody’s got their own little thing. I try to meet them where they’re at.”

The panel was then asked how the measure success, and what their definition of success is.

Mamola reminisced about the first BSM Summit, where he asked Barrett what the definition of success would be in five years. He said he uses Nielsen as one data point, rather than the data point.

Sharan admitted that while there are several data points available, Nielsen is still the main measurement point they’re chasing. He believed if you’re doing well in Nielsen, social media and digital performance is likely to correlate.

Powers agreed that Nielsen is the most important measurement. Rickard concurred. “That’s the game we’re playing. That’s why we manipulate the clocks for the PPM. It’s the game that we play,” Rickard said.

Branding has also been an important step for the programmers on the panel. Sharan recently went through a brand refresh from 104.3 The Fan to Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan, bringing the station inline with branding used by other Bonneville sports stations.

He compared the branding to that of a company like Meta, which encompasses social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Ultimately, he believed the updated brand will help propel the station into a bigger digital future.

“It was a little challenging to explain to everyone,” Sharan shared. “How are you going to really be in the content business if your name has a radio frequency in it? That sort of stuff went into it.”

The conversation shifted to the length of shows, and what’s the perfect length.

Powers said their station is set up to have four-hour shows, and mentioned that at times his hosts will mention they are burnt out due to the length of their shows.

Rickard mentioned that the WFNZ morning show is four hours, but mentioned that as a talent he didn’t like four hour shows. “I just find that when I’ve done shorter shows, I’ve seen meters increase. I’ve seen energy increase,” Rickard shared.

At Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan, Sharan said if his hosts were robots, four hour shows would be fine, but said that younger audiences attention span’s are shorter, and joked that their talent is getting shorter and shorted.

Mamola said if budgets weren’t an issue, a similar setup how cable news channels format their prime time lineups with one hour hosts would be ideal. “There’s not necessarily a number you can put on it. It’s how the talent makes it feel. It’s more how the talent approaches it and how the execute it on the air.”

Length of spot blocks varies from station to station. Barrett shared there are stations he’s listened to that have had as little as 32 minutes of content in an hour due to spot load.

Powers said they have different clocks for different shows. “Clients love the show, and revenue is very important, so we don’t move it that much,” he said. “If you get too long, you can burn an entire quarter hour.”

Mamola said WDAE has different clocks every hour. “I want to keep our listeners guessing,” he shared, adding that he tried to manipulate the PPM quarter hour numbers.

Sharan admitted his station has 20 minutes of commercials an hour in morning and afternoon drive, but that number drops down to 12 minutes during middays.

“You gotta be careful, because if you don’t put your foot down, sales guys will take a mile,” Rickard added.

The final topic was about video content. Some companies have deals with Twitch, while others prefer to air their programs on YouTube.

“There’s never been a video component at WFNZ,” Rickard admitted. “It’s something I’m going to work on this summer. I think the key is my engineering staff figuring out the encoding with that. If someone has a meter and they’re gonna watch on YouTube, I need that counted.”

“Our YouTube strategy didn’t really start until eight or nine months ago,” Mamola said. “We talked about putting our content where everybody is. It’s all about building engagement and getting people to come to your brand.”

9:45-10:20 = 20 Deadly Sins of Sports Radio: Redefined presented by

  • Bruce Gilbert – Cumulus Media/Westwood One

In October 2005, Gilbert shared the 20 deadly sins of talk radio. He shared he was going through a tough time during the original deadly sins. He added that sins are negative, so he is changing them to 20 ass-kicking attributes.

Those attributes are:

  • Forward Momentum
  • Effective One Topic Teases
  • Ubiquity
  • Don’t Talk Too Much
  • Preparation
  • Accompanying Audio
  • Tease-Plot-Payoff
  • Clock Discipline
  • S.O.S. (Storytelling, Opinions, and Show Business)
  • Likeability
  • Authenticity Over Arrogance
  • Curiosity
  • Short Open-Ended Questions
  • Diversity
  • Excellence Over Success
  • Play The Hit
  • Reset
  • Don’t Forget to Have Fun
  • Urgency
  • Embrace The Migration

10:20-10:55 = Wheel of Content presented by

  • Amanda Brown – ESPN LA 710
  • Joy Taylor – FOX Sports
  • Mina Kimes – ESPN
  • Demetri Ravanos – Barrett Sports Media

A physical wheel was brought to the stage with nine topics. The first topic was about flexibility and how they manage it in contrast to media company exclusivity.

“I think it’s the future,” Joy Taylor said. “Because you have the ability to have your own platform, if you’re big enough, you can exist outside of a traditional media company. If (companies) wanna pay for exclusivity, you’ve gotta pay for exclusivity, and that drives the price higher.”

“There’s a balance,” Kimes said. “As someone who does football content for ESPN five days a week, it would be strange if I was doing football content somewhere else.” She mentioned that she was given the opportunity to do pop culture podcasts with a friend at The Ringer, and was grateful ESPN allowed it.

Brown looks at it from the management aspect, but said she’s supportive of those that want to branch out to other avenues. “Anywhere your talent can be and people can consume them, they will, and they’ll associate it with your brand,” she said.

The next topic was who the best interview has been.

Kimes said Deandre Hopkins has been her favorite interview. She said she pitched the interview for two years before it finally happened and he was very candid during it.

Taylor said it was difficult to decide the definition of “best” but landed on an interview with Allen Iverson “was pretty amazing”.

“As talent, someone that’s responsive and engaged is always the best. Pro wrestlers are always awesome. Someone like Magic Johnson is always going to give you a great interview.”

Brown said an interview with Kobe Bryant during her days producing Max & Marcellus where he continually dropped the phone call due to signal ended up becoming a hilarious discussion.

The wheel then landed on the “path to stardom”, with BSM’s Demetri Ravanos questioning how the panel balanced if they got to where they are due to success, luck, strategy, or something else.

“It’s not like being a lawyer, teacher, or doctor. There’s not a test where it’s outlined for you,” Taylor said. “You can get very lost in the business. You can take jobs that don’t align with what you wanna do long term. You’re probably not gonna be getting paid what you think you should be getting paid. It can be demoralizing.“

She then said knowing what you want to do is half the battle, and noted that maybe that position or role doesn’t exist yet. Taylor experienced that situation by knowing that she wanted to be a sports opinionist, but that avenue wasn’t widely available to women. She decided that was the path she was going to take.

“I wish I had your clarity and vision,” Kimes joked to Taylor. “I think I’ve done every job you can have at ESPN. I think the thing I could say is: every job I had I didn’t view as a stepping stone. Every show I treated like was the most important thing that I ever did and ever would do. I just wanted to do it the best. I treated it like this might be the thing I do for the next five years.”

Social media was the next topic, with Kimes joking “great”.

“It has diminishing returns if you let it take over your life. The bigger your profile grows, the bigger your audience grows, the less you have to look at it,” Kimes said. “If someone says you shouldn’t be on Twitter, that’s not true. It is part of your job. However, I also think that the bigger the firehouse of engagement gets, I have had to be much more deliberate of what I see, what I allow to penetrate my brain. It’s too much. It’s not all negative, but it’s all too much.”

“Social media is not real. I’m an algorithm nerd,” Taylor said, adding that she’s always looking for the best practices on the platforms. “It’s your public face. It’s what you’re presenting to the world. For me, social media has to be intentional. I’m not a psychologist. I don’t believe humans were meant to get this much feedback, but it is a very important part of our job. Sports and Twitter are synonymous. The only things we consume live are politics and sports. I think you should be very intentional on how you consume it and I think you should approach social media like the big beast. How are you going to deal with it?”

Brown said ESPN LA 710 has a different brand on social media than that of its radio station.

“We do stuff that’s social media specific, or shows that are only streaming on our social media. That’s what people wanna see. They don’t wanna see the clips from the show, they wanna see the talent doing dumb shit. They wanna see the talent’s lives.”

Ravanos concluded by asking about sports betting information and content into spaces it wasn’t traditionally welcomed.

“We’re not quite there yet,” Brown said, noting that legal sports betting isn’t yet legal in California. “If it does become legal, we wanna monetize it.”

“It does dovetail nicely with our ongoing discussions,” Kimes said.

“The goal is to keep eyeballs on the show,” Taylor added. “People are tuning in to hear what we think and get information on anything, but putting it in a way that is consumable and easy to digest is the best,” mentioning Colin Cowherd’s The Blazing 5 as a great method to present it to the audience.

“I actually prefer we have something to base our conversations on, rather than just the generic term ‘overrated’, or whatever, it really helps to have something to base it on and quantify it with,” Kimes added.

11:10-11:45 = Keynote Conversation presented by

  • Eric Shanks – FOX Sports

Shanks starts off discussing launching two new broadcasting booths for MLB and NFL and his crew’s performance during the Super Bowl. The conversation shifts to FOX Sports owning the USFL and if the appetite for football is strong enough to sustain other leagues.

“People always ask me what’s the next big thing in covering sports and I always say football,” Shanks said. “If we could increase NFL ratings by 1%, it would be incredible. We come at it from the FOX perspective that we come from the TV ratings standpoint. We kind of turned the model on its head. We have a sustainable business model that hasn’t happened with spring football in the last 30 or 40 years. There’s an insatiable appetite for football in this country. Is there room for multiple ones? I don’t know.”

Barrett asked about the network’s foray into the college football landscape, including the launch of Big Noon Kickoff to compete with College GameDay, including the decision on talent and utilizing newly retired players.

“There was a void at noon. We take our best pick and place it at noon. So we put together a group that we feel really good about. We decided to take the next leap of investment and take the show on the road. When you see that crowd, you want to keep on watching. We need to get better at it every week, but between Reggie (Bush), Urban (Meyer), and Matt (Leinart), it’s a really relevant group. And we have great storytelling with (Tom) Ronaldi.”

Shanks continued by talking about the network’s strategy in regards to having fun on the air, compared to the approach brought by other networks.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously,” Shanks said. “You want people on the air that when they speak, people listen. You wanna be the group that everyone wants to sit and have a beer with. That’s kind of our philosophy.”

When asked about biggest risks he’s taken that he’s gotten right and wrong, Shanks talked about the Harry Caray hologram before pointing out the network’s role in evolving the NFL content experience.

“At the time that we started Red Zone, nobody knew what NFL viewing would look like. Nobody had ever seen a commercial-free, all-action viewing experience. That was a pretty big risk that we couldn’t get wrong.”

“We tried bass fishing for awhile, and we had Joe Buck announcing it. It was right after we made the NHL puck glowing, so we put stuff on the fish that made them glow. The fishermen couldn’t see them but the folks at home are thinking ‘the fish is right there you idiot…so maybe bass fishing wouldn’t be what it is today without us,” Shanks joked.

The creation of FS1 in 2013 was a large undertaking, and Shanks admitted he knew it would take time to gain a foothold.

“The reason we started FS1 was we had these individual niche audiences (Fuel, Speed, and Fox Soccer). We saw a world where it would be harder and harder to get carriage and distribution for. So we merged those three channels into FS1. That was the reason we built FS1. Jamie (Horowitz) was here at the time, and was a big believer in building morning talk and was the big driver of landing Skip (Bayless), and I knew nothing of it at the time. It’s now about 25% of our audience viewing. It’s a brand that brings a lot of value and brings a lot of value to the pay TV bundle.”

Barrett asked Shanks about the streaming strategy for the network, mentioning that it has been one of the lone companies that hasn’t thrown bundles of cash at the platform.

“A couple of years ago, we were in wait and see mode. I think at this point, we’re kind of in that post-streaming wars era. We’re in the eighth or ninth inning. We’re not sitting on the sideline. We’re looking at everyone else thinking ‘What are they gonna do?’. On the entertainment side, you could say it’s added benefits to customers. But on the sports side? Anybody here can look at those standalone streaming services as a sports fan and think they’ve added inconvenience and expense. I can’t get anything from one single source anymore. They’re taking advantage of sports fans, to be quite honest. There’s some decision that are going to need to be made in the standalone streaming services that are relying upon pure streaming sports.”

Frustration with Nielsen has been an ongoing topic with both TV and radio groups, and Shanks said FOX Sports is no different, but did give the ratings measurement company some grace.

“I think it’s complicated. Nothing’s ever going to be perfect, but it’s the currency that we all live with. How else are you going to transact unless you agree that’s how we’re transacting? Technology is always advancing. Out-of-home is starting to get credit for viewing that was always there. I give credit to Nielsen that if they find errors, they’re not afraid to go back and correct it.”

“I can’t think of a product that we’re living and dying by the ratings with,” Shanks continued. “There’s not anything — at least in our portfolio — that a little bit of mis-measurement or data will make or break us.”

In the sports betting space, Shanks believed there’s plenty more legalization that will take place in the coming years.

“It’s still tough to tease out if legalized sports betting has had an affect on ratings,” before noting FOX Sports would look at being upstream in the sports betting space, rather than simply accepting ad dollars.

He added that he doesn’t currently view an all-gambling sports content network from the company in the short term.

“For us, that’s a ways off. I’d rather take the most interesting people, the most credible people, and the biggest events, and weave it in for the masses, rather than do niche programming.”

When asked about his goals for the future, Shanks said utilizing the company’s availability is what he strives for.

“Internally, it always starts with culture. Is it a fun place to work? From a business standpoint, we have a couple of renewals coming up. I think that for us it really does come back to some of these tangential investments, whether it’s in wagering or USFL, so if I could go forward five years and look back and question did we create new business. Whether it’s baseball, international soccer and the World Cup, are you situated out with the core business and take some of the buying power that FOX has to be transformative.”

He continued the conversation by saying he is open to working with talent from other networks and collaborating, mentioning Alex Rodriguez’s desire to be a game analyst. “We didn’t really have a spot for him, so we were fine” with the former All-Star joining ESPN in addition to keeping his role at FOX.

The Bally Sports-branded regional sports networks were previously owned by FOX Sports, and has experienced a collapse after the company sold them to Disney before divesting themselves to Diamond Sports Group. Shanks called the situation a perfect storm.

“When we had the RSNs, we had 44 of the 88 pro teams. We knew how much leverage we were using for distribution and rate, and brought the whole portfolio of FOX to make them successful. And they worked. The world has changed. We got everything out of the RSNs that we could get. Once they went and landed where that portfolio was in place that it couldn’t support, that was the secret sauce. The concentration of teams, the leverage we would bring to bear, and without that, you can see where they are today. There’s just as many fans that want the content, and when they’re in the bundle, it worked. But going outside the bundle and going direct? It didn’t work.”

11:45-12:15 = 2023 BSM Summit Awards Ceremony (Day 2) presented by

  • Jeff Smulyan – Emmis Communications
  • Julie Talbott – Premiere Networks
  • Al Michaels – Amazon Prime Video

Premiere Networks President Julie Talbott was honored with the 2023 Jeff Smulyan Award. The Emmis Communications founder welcomed Talbott to the stage.

“This is a lot of fun for me. Jason called me years ago, and said ‘We want to name this award in your honor’, and I said ‘Thank god it’s not in my memory’. I’m really proud to honor Julie,” said Smulyan. “Not only is she one of the great leaders in the industry, she’s one of the great people in our industry.”

Talbott shared her appreciation for being given an award named after a trusted friend.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be here. Imagine being honored for such an award, but to have a name with a really good friend, it’s amazing,” Talbott said.

“I sure wouldn’t be here without a great team. I thank you so much. It means the world to me to accept this award with the Jeff Smulyan name on it.”

Legendary broadcaster Al Michaels was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and shared his appreciation for being bestowed with the honor.

“It’s great to be with so many people who got into the business because we love sports,” Michaels said. “It’s also great to see so many people that are so radio centric. In my generation, the best broadcasters were from radio.”

Michaels shared that he’s been paired with more than 100 different partners during his tenure, and briefly reminisced about them.

“Looking at all of those partners — John Madden, Cris Collinsworth, the great Tim McCarver, the best to ever analyze baseball on television, Jim Palmer, Doc Rivers, Ken Dryden, Jackie Stewart. I worked with Howard Cossell, O.J. Simpson, and Bruce Jenner, I’ve been around the block,” Michaels joked.

Sports broadcasting has seen radical changes over his career, and talked about some of the more obscure sports he has announced.

“The business has changed so much. When I did Wide World of Sports at ABC, I did motorcycle racing on ice, target driving in West Germany, but in those years ABC did a ton of auto racing. So I’ve done 30 NASCAR racing, 6 or 7 Formula 1 racing, you had to be a jack of all trades. I’m doing all this auto racing on national television, and I didn’t know how to use self-serve (gasoline).”

Michaels was joined at the event by Prime Video colleagues Andrew Whitworth and Kaylee Hartung, as well as Amazon Vice President of Global Sports Video Marie Donoghue. He shared his excitement about the product the streaming platform put together in its debut season.

“These people were totally supportive and totally invested in making this look like a big time show. One of the big things they did was hire Fred Gaudelli, and he made this look like a big time television show. I’m so proud of where we’ve come.”

Michaels is the voice of the most famous call in sports broadcasting history with his “Do you believe in miracles?” as the United States defeated the Russian hockey team in the 1980 Olympics. He explained that it was complete happenstance that he received the assignment.

“I got hockey because I was the only guy on that staff who had done hockey. I had done one hockey game. It was serendipitous. I could also explain offside and icing.”

Michaels concluded that one of the fallacies that took some time to get over was the idea that a great game means it was a great broadcast.

“Some of the best games, the games I’m most proud of, were bad games. The broadcast can be great without a great game. A great game doesn’t equal a great broadcast. But those are the things I’m most proud of. Those bad games that turn into great broadcasts.”

1:30-2:10 = Creating a Superstar presented by

  • Shawn Michaels – WWE

The session began with Jason Barrett asking Michaels about the way the WWE scouts talent as the world has changed.

“We’re starting to cast a much wider net than we ever have before,” Michaels said. “Finding former athletes. Not everyone is gonna make it to the pros. Football, baseball, gymnastics. We’re reaching out to universities across the country and finding those athletes. You always keep a keen eye for someone that might have that electric personality, the it factor.”

The conversation shifted to how the WWE will brand an individual athlete as they’re gaining their footing with the organization.

“We have promo classes. They’re in front of green screens, they’re pitched ideas, situations, characters, learning to help teach them how to talk with entertainment but not lose your character. We ask them if they’ve ever thought about their name or character. You get a look inside their thought process. You’d be surprised how many have great ideas and there are others that we have to help out. We look for things that are organic or are already in them. We look for someone who is 100% a good actor.”

Barrett asked how WWE plans for its talent to hit the mainstream and what that buildup process looks like.

“It varies from talent to talent,” Michaels admitted. “We have a 7-to-10 week time period that we’ll use 30 to 45 second vignettes to build up the introduction to that character.”

When asked how to decide between creating characters or utilizing the natural personality of talent, Michaels said it’s all about feel.

“We feel like we have a really good pulse on our audience. From a wrestling standpoint, if you’re a bigger guy, it’s ok to laugh along with you, but we don’t want people laughing at you.”

Michaels shared he believes wrestling, like other content creators, is about storytelling.

“From the get go, we’re telling stories. It’s the story of the journey our characters are going through. We fight good and evil. Good guy versus bad guy. We just do it in a 20×20 ring. Our stories just end in a fight.”

Like sports radio stations, the WWE sometimes has to decide if something isn’t working.

“One of the greatest things about the WWE is our fan base. That sounds cliche at times. They’re brutally honest. When they don’t like something, they’ll let you know. Sometimes you have to push through that initial reaction,” Michaels said, pointing to the promotion’s star Roman Reigns long tenured unpopularity before ascending to be one of the company’s biggest draws.

Barrett asked how Michaels sees WWE defines success outside of strictly dollars and cents.

“I look at it in a number of different ways. I understand that if I don’t produce decent ratings, I don’t know how long I’ll be in the job. But at the same time, I have to produce talent. I may not have a number I can put on that, but I have to produce talent. 95% of our talent at WrestleMania will have grown through NXT. From that standpoint, NXT has been a big success. I can’t live and die by the weekly ratings. It’s about supplying the main roster with talent for the future.”

Michaels also shared that wrestling talent, like many in our industry, want to be told the facts from their managers.

“They almost always want to hear the truth, even when it’s tough,” Michaels said. “I deal with everybody the way Vince McMahon used to deal with me. He gave me a lot of free reign. He supported me and gave me space to take risks. He cut me loose, and said if it goes too far, I’ll reel you back in. I was uninhibited. It allowed me to be an artist.”

Barrett asked about the difference between allowing free reign versus what the company needs from a particular promo or story line.

“They have to earn your trust. From the beginning, you have to be able to get the points and follow the script. As you become a better steward of what you’re given, you’re entrusted with more. Not everybody just gets to go up there and wing it or feel it. You’ll have to follow a certain script. When you complete that, we give you a little freedom. It has to start regimented. There are I’s that have to be dotted and T’s that have to be crossed, and once they’ve been tasked with that and they complete it, we allow more creativity.”

2:10-2:45 = Aircheck on Campus presented by

  • Mark Chernoff – Formerly of WFAN
  • Scott Shapiro – FOX Sports Radio
  • Rob Parker – FOX Sports Radio
  • Michael Fiumefreddo – USC

The panel began by listening to a five minute clip of a recent show from WFAN’s Carton & Roberts, that encompassed St. Patrick’s Day, the injury off Edwin Diaz, a pizza being dismantled by a producer who dropped it in an elevator, and the belief that Aaron Rodgers would never play for the Jets.

BSM Director of Content Demetri Ravanos asked the panel if they heard five minutes of content that will keep PPM listeners.

“There was enough, but maybe a little too much all over the place, but it’s enough to keep me there,” former WFAN Brand Manager Mark Chernoff said. “I certainly heard enough that I would stick with the station because they talked about the two topics listeners want to hear about.”

“To get my five minutes, it did. It wasn’t perfect, but it did get my five minutes because there was passion there,” Scott Shapiro added. “At the very start of it, I did not understand some of the St. Patricks Day stuff, but it was 50 seconds in, and they brought up Edwin Diaz. I got the impression it was going to go on longer, and I wouldn’t have stayed longer if he went another minute, but to Carton’s credit, he brought it back.”

Ravanos asked how the programmers would balance formatic mistakes against content decisions.

“Howard Stern would go on for an hour and ten minutes, and do an 18 or 20 minutes commercial break, but he was getting 9, 10, 12 shares, and I said ‘You know what? They’re sticking with him, they don’t know when he’s coming back, and the content is so compelling that we can’t tell him to reign it in’. Content is king,” Chernoff said. “If the content is great, flush the format.”

“We want people to be human and take chances on the air, but there’s a road map, learn from them, and appeal to the broadest set of the audience,” Shapiro added.

FOX Sports Radio host Rob Parker then joined the panel to discuss a five minute clip from a recent episode of The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard, and a discussion ensued about how to aircheck with talent present.

“Scott is the dream programmer because he listens to the show,” Parker said of Shapiro. “One day, we were doing the show and Scott sent a text that said ‘Cut it out’. And I thought ‘What did we do?’ And Scott sent a follow up that said ‘I’m in my driveway and I’m laughing my head off’.”

“To me, I was gone from the show after the first minute. You can’t spend the first minute reading a commercial. Do it going into the break, if you have to,” Chernoff said. “If you wanted to talk about Aaron Rodgers, talk about Aaron Rodgers. It took four minutes to get there. You went on some tangents, for starting a show, it was all over the place. I had no idea where you were going. Those first few minutes, there was no substance, and you’ve got to have substance to start the show.”

“The read at the start is a 15-second read. It can sound like a 60-second read, but they pay a lot of money to be at the start of the show, so that’s not going anywhere,” Shapiro countered. “Rob Parker set the table off some nice momentum 1:45 in, with topics like Aaron Rodgers and Damian Lillard. We did not mention anything about Aaron Rodgers again until 3:45 in. That’s where my critique comes in. It can’t be two minutes. Let’s trim that down and get to the topics quicker.”

2:45-3:20 = The Era of Talent Led Audio Networks presented by

  • Logan Swaim – The Volume
  • Jack Rose – Silver Tribe Media
  • Mike Davis – Dirty Mo Media
  • Richelle Markazene – Omaha Productions

The panel led by Jack Rose began the discussion by asking Davis what has defined Dirty Mo Media.

“We’ve taken some pretty big swings,” Davis said. “We’re going after a strategic vision. We started some new shows, we’ve got gambling content, we started a new show with a guy that we identified — Denny Hamlin — so those are the swings we’ve taken.”

Swaim added that instant reaction content has been a growth driver for The Volume. “That is when we believe we are at our best because that is when sports fans want that content the most,” adding that they had traditionally operated under the usual podcast model. He said that company founder Colin Cowherd questioned why he couldn’t just turn something around after game ended, and it’s led to a new outlook.

Markazene said — similarly to The Volume — they look for new content centered around current athletes. “When we first launched, we thought it was really important to have an active player on our roster. We did that with Cam Hayward of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We didn’t anticipate the ups and downs of the Steelers season, so as he was navigating through that, he was also able to give his honest and timely reactions to the season on his podcast, which we found really resonated with fans.”

Rose mentioned that the digital media world is still largely in its infancy, but asked the panel what they’ve noticed isn’t working.

“Early on, we worked on getting new episodes out in a timely manner. I think a pivot we’re making now is our producers working on what is newsworthy and how we can get it out faster,” Markazene said. “I don’t think we did a good enough job of getting the newsworthy content in a timely manner.”

“The biggest missteps that I feel like I’ve made and we’ve made is we get so excited about an idea that we rush it to market,” Davis added. “And we don’t ask the basic questions before we take it to market. What’s the identity and why will people want to consume it? You can have answers to that and it can still succeed, but if you don’t have answers to that, you might not be ready to take it to market. If you don’t have those basic things answered, it probably won’t work.”

When asked what a point of emphasis is in the advertising space for The Volume, Swaim said it’s influence over inventory.

“With The Volume, we have a roster of not just podcast hosts but influencers. There are so many other ways to sell into an influencer rather than just a podcast itself. There’s all these other tentacles with that.”

Davis shared his process of going “hard to the hoop” to close deals.

“There were corporate, strong brands that were alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr. when we started this,” David said, before adding that they were slow to sponsor Dirty Mo Media content. “‘We recognize that you’re doing great, but you’re going to need to explain it to us’, is what we heard a lot. Not only is this something you want to be a part of, but it’s also something we can help them benefit from and something that is necessary for them.”

“As we started the network, we’ve had Caesar’s Sportsbook as a partner, and they’ve been tremendous on giving us feedback so we can align our content goals,” Markazene said. “I’m excited to see what we can all do together.”

Swaim added that gambling content is still “the Wild West”. He mentioned their partnership with FanDuel that helps drive different ways to customize gambling content inside different shows on the podcast network.

Rose asked how each of their companies use their biggest brands to create new content and advertising opportunities.

“My job is to create content for fans and content for Dale,” Davis joked. “I’m building a platform around a personality that is true to his authenticity, true to his ideals, but wasn’t his idea. When it’s not his idea, he’s not going to go push anything unless he’s all-in. He doesn’t play the game unless he’s interested. But that’s how I want him. My job is to keep him engaged and happy.”

“(Cowherd) calls me randomly. He’s usually mid-segment, and I engage with him,” Swaim said. “He uses sports analogies to grow the company. He likes to embrace the idea that he’s willing to move off of stuff that’s not working and double down on stuff that is. Colin has the ability to see talent in people many others don’t, and empowering them to do something many didn’t believe was out there.”

“Peyton (Manning) set’s the tone for Omaha in front of the camera and behind the scenes, too,” Markazene added. “Peyton is committed to every Omaha product and initiative. He was key in identifying talent and bringing them to our rosters. After launch, he’s made regular appearances on all of our shows.”

3:35-4:10 = Social Media Goes Hollywood presented by

  • Karlo Sy Su – ESPN LA 710
  • Matthew Demeke – AM 570 LA Sports

Barrett Media President Jason Barrett began the conversation by asking Karlo and Matthew how they decide on which platforms to prioritize and if there are certain days and times that they focus on making sure content is available.

Karlo shared the station has nearly 500,000 followers on Facebook, which allows opportunities to share more accessible content.

Demeke shared that “really good content is really good content”, adding that there isn’t a specific time that works best for the station’s best content.

“Anytime is a good time,” Su added.

The topic shifted to how each defines social media success.

“I like to see engagement,” said Su. “The fact that people will watch the content and then take the time to comment on it? That’s huge. I value the comment. People are taking the time to digest that content.”

“It’s a lot of things,” Demeke said.

“Engagement’s a big thing. Secondly, are people listening? We have to drive everyone back to listening. I need to get people back to our shows, whether that’s on the app or the radio. I saw a comment a couple of weeks ago on our post, that said ‘I found Roggin and Rodney through social’. That’s a big success. There’s so many ways to define it.”

After Barrett played a clip of Omar Raja talking with Gary Vaynerchuk about his approach to social media content creation, Su shared that the numbers his brand has delivered have been accomplished through organic reach, not with the help of paid media. “That is a display of pride in our work rather than cheating in a way. If we are looking to reach goals, that’s on us rather than putting some greenbacks to put us beyond our goal.”

“There’s zero dollars, zero cents on paid media,” agreed Demeke. “We get creative on how we do our marketing. We do paid media, but in a different way. This way brings engagement and brings people back to the radio station.”

Barrett asked about how the pair trust social media platforms, especially TikTok given that there’s been conversation around the platform being banned in the future.

“Nothing is gonna get reversed immediately,” said Su. “TikTok’s not gonna go down in the next day or two. Good content is good content. We feel like it’s good content because it gets the audience to watch and watch more, and then listen to the podcast or be a loyal listener to the station.”

“You have to adjust,” Demeke said. “I feel like since 2020, it’s been a series of adjustments. It doesn’t frustrate you, you just have to post throughout and get everything in priority. If people are using a platform, we need to be using it, too.”

“Everyone in this room, and society as a whole, has turned into a visual society,” added Su. “If we’ve got cameras in the studio, we should utilize them.”

“It’s tough because we have to make audio visual,” Demeke continued. “We’ve gotta bring that across all the platforms.”

4:10-4:45 = One For The Road presented by

  • Matt Fishman – ESPN Cleveland
  • Sean Thompson – Arizona Sports
  • Danny Zederman – ESPN Chicago

Barrett began the conversation about potential sellable features and promotions by asking Fishman about The Land on Demand, the station’s subscription service for on-demand podcasts and live video of shows.

“Primarily, fans go there for the shows. That’s what we’ve learned. They go there for the commercial free and exclusive shows, and our Browns coverage,” said Fishman. “The best way to describe our growth is a six-figure line of income every year.”

ESPN 1000 is preparing for a 25th anniversary celebration.

“The actual anniversary is in October, but we had to jump at the chance to utilize the House of Blues in Chicago,” Danny Zederman said. “This is a great opportunity to satisfy fans and partners. It’s a give back for our partners. 150 of them are involved in this. They’re gonna get to mingle with one another, exchange ideas, and our partners get to become partners with one another.”

Sean Thompson discussed an event at his former station — 92.9 The Game — called “The Game Bowl”, that featured a paper football tournament with station listeners.

“I’m so happy to be back in the live event game,” Thompson said. “It makes me excited because it means we’re back to where we were a few years ago.”

Thompson added it was usually promoted for several months.

“We always did it the week the Pro Bowl was, the week before the Super Bowl. For me, expectations were always keeping the crowd entertained and engaged. From a sales standpoint, finding and creating activations. Whether it was to hand out a branded beverage, or anything like that, we wanted to create those footprints. From a revenue standpoint, we could have done better, but we would always have a good amount of people there and a good crowd, but we weren’t ready for an arena.”

Barrett then asked Zederman how many events should a station focus on per year.

“That’s a tough thing to specify. The most important thing is to do it right,” Zedderman said. “I can’t give you a specific number, but I would say it’s an important thing for the fans to reach out and touch the talent. Maybe once a quarter.”

Fishman said that several big promotions are key for ESPN Cleveland. He shared that during the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic, the station gave away $30,000 of local advertising that saw 82 entries. It gave away one winner, but got the contact information of 82 local businesses to potential pitch advertising too. In 2021, they added a luncheon for business who entered, which allowed them to network with each other. In 2022, the event expanded to a seminar on networking to couple with the lunch and giveaway.

Barrett asked the panel how they can monetize items outside of just the traditional commercial load.

Zederman said it’s important to have the talent buy-in to the event or promotion.

“We could have tons of great ideas, but if the talent doesn’t buy into it, it’s not gonna soar.”

“Nothing is worse than watching the talent do something they’re not engaged in,” Thompson agreed.

Barrett closed the 2023 BSM Summit by reiterating that we’re in the content business, not simply the radio or television business. He asked attendees — due to the volatile economy — to step out of their comfort zone and explore new territories. He showcased how companies like Hubbard have created digital-only shows that have invested in talent outside of the radio that have driven large revenues for the company. He then closed by explaining how radio leaders don’t do enough to tell their brand success stories compared to others in similar businesses and reminded the room why it was important to do so given the challenging financial climate.

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Barrett Blogs

Is Sports Journalism Still Worth Paying For?

“I know many like to declare print being dead. I’m sorry I’m not one of them. Adults still enjoy reading.”

Jason Barrett



Courtesy: Don Nguyen

I’ve been thinking about this column all week because it’s a topic I’m passionate about and curious to hear the responses to. For starters, let me pose a few questions to you. Does quality journalism still matter? Is it worth paying for? Do advertisers see enough return on their investments with print outlets through associations with influential writers, publications and branded content? Are consumers hungry to read the full details of a story or are they satisfied with the cliff notes version and absorbing messages that fit inside of 140-280 characters?

The world we’re in is saturated with content. Attention spans are rapidly shrinking. Social media is both to blame and bless for that. The positive is that we’re exposed to more content than ever before. This means more opportunity to reach people and grow businesses. The challenge of course is standing out.

People listen, read and watch less of one thing now, opting for variety during the time they have available. The issue with that is that it often leads to being less informed. I know many like to declare print being dead. I’m sorry I’m not one of them. Adults still enjoy reading. I see nearly three million people do it on this website alone and we’re small potatoes compared to mainstream brands. Clearly people like to learn.

I raise this topic because last week, Peter King announced his retirement although he left open the door for side projects. After forty plus years of writing the gold standard of NFL columns, King revealed he wanted to slow down and invest his time in other areas of life. Among his considerations for the future after taking a breather are teaching.

In a podcast interview with Richard Deitsch, King said “We may love this column but I doubt that it made enough money for NBC to pay what they were paying me. I don’t think words are very profitable anymore. It’s a sad thing but it’s what’s happened to our business.”

Later in the conversation, King discussed the difficulty he might face if speaking to students about whether or not to pursue working in the media industry. He acknowledged that the business is bad right now. However, he pointed out that if you can write and read, and be an intelligent thinking contributing member of society, there are a lot of jobs you can do beyond being a writer for a paper covering the NFL. You can teach English, work in PR or for a team or league website. But journalism is different now, and though it’s not impossible to do, having flexibility is important.

I agreed with most of King’s remarks and thought about the two different ways people might respond to them.

If you’re in agreement with Peter, you’ll point to the reduction in industry jobs, the changes in salaries, the lack of trust in media outlets, the economic uncertainty facing traditional operators, the shrinking ability to uncover truth, and the data that frequently supports video being hot, and print not so much.

Those who disagree will list the New York Times and The Athletic as examples of print brands that still matter. They’ll also mention the surge in newsletters, the arrival of new online outlets, and the daily communication between millions of people each day on social media, much of it revolving around conversations created or supported by text.

Where I sit is somewhere in between.

First, the notion that it’s harder now than before is one I’ll challenge. When I entered the business, I had to mail letters, send cassette tapes, and wait months for a response. There was no internet or opportunity to create a podcast, Substack, website or video to build an audience. I had to be selected by someone to have a chance to work. There were thousands like me who wanted a way in and were at the mercy of decision makers preferring my resume over someone else’s. I did exactly what King said on the podcast when he mentioned having to do other jobs to support yourself while pursing a dream.

Where I agree with King is when he mentioned words not being as profitable anymore. Are print reporters and columnists going to make what they once did? Probably not. There will always be exceptions just as there are in television and radio, but if you think you’re going to do one specific job and making a financial killing on it, prepare to be disappointed. Today, you better be able to wear different hats and create a lot of content in multiple places. Earning a lot for doing a little is a way of the past.

The one area where I’ll differ is when it comes to advertising. I believe there’s untapped value for brands in print. Recall with the written word remains strong. There’s also less advertising clutter in written stories than audio and video programming blocks. Advertisers may not seek out traditional print advertising anymore but branded content, newsletter associations, and social media placements remain valued.

What I admire greatly about King is that he evolved over the years. His written work on SI was must-read but that didn’t stop him from leaping into the online space and launching MMQB. The arrival of that microsite was done at the right point in time, and when SI began to change, King didn’t hang on, choosing to make the bold move and jump to NBC. Upon his arrival, he started contributing on television, podcasts, and expanding his profile on social media.

What you should take away from Peter is that you’ve got to constantly examine the business, and understand when it’s time to pivot, even if it means leaving your comfort zone. You also have to recognize that things are going to change and your job description will likely be one of them. If you stay married to what you once did, you’ll be in a tough spot. If you roll with the punches and embrace what’s new, you’ll survive and thrive.

You also have to understand that you’re going to be tied further to what you produce. Does your presence and performance grow advertising revenue? Are you speaking on behalf of brands and helping them move product? Do you grow subscriptions or readership to levels that make it easy for a company to invest significantly in you? Talent is subjective. Results aren’t. Those who create quality while boosting the bottom line will remain in demand.

Remember this in a few years when artificial intelligence becomes a bigger part of content creation and discovery. Those who adapt to it and work with it will be just fine. Those who reject it will be searching for new career paths. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There’s better stability in other industries. But there’s nothing like creating content around the world of sports and media. It just requires adaptability and being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

BSM Summit Update:

In ten days we unite the sports media business in New York City for the 2024 BSM Summit. All of the sessions are now complete. I’m excited to add Natalie Marsh, General Manager of Lotus Communications in Las Vegas, Cody Welling, Station Manager of 97.1 The Fan in Columbus, and Stephanie Prince, Vice President and Market Manager of Good Karma Brands West Palm Beach to our schedule. The full agenda for both days is posted on

In addition, I’m thrilled to share that we’ll have a few special appearances at the ESPN Radio After Party on Wednesday March 13th. Joining us on-site will be Evan Cohen, Chris Canty and Michelle Smallmon of UnSportsmanLike, Freddie Coleman and Harry Douglas of Freddie & Harry, and Chris Carlin from Carlin vs. Joe.

Thumbs Up:

Chris Mortensen: Rarely does the sports media industry collectively agree on anything but you won’t find much disagreement on Chris Mortensen. He was a special talent and human being. I was fortunate to see it firsthand as a producer at ESPN Radio. I then enjoyed many interactions with Mort as a program director lining up calls on the radio stations I ran. It didn’t matter what job you did or where you worked, Chris treated you well. His work was hall of fame worthy but it was the manner in which he interacted with people that truly made him a legend. Rest in peace, Mort. I’m sure the next wave of conversations with John Clayton are going to be amazing.

Mike Felger: It would’ve been easy to pile on and publicly root for a competitor to fail and fold. Instead, Felger took the high road, acknowledging that he’s rooting for WEEI to come out of bankruptcy in good shape. That’s what smart business people. Mike is comfortable in his own skin. He has the highest rated show in Boston and having a competitor to compete against as well as a potential landing spot when contracts come up is never a bad thing. Besides, why would anyone want to see friends and respected professionals lose an opportunity to work or listeners given less choice for sports talk entertainment? Nice job, Mike.

iHeartmedia: The company’s fourth quarter results were down year-to-year but they were above prior projections. iHeart also gained 16.6% growth in podcasting revenues during Q4, and just got stronger by luring Stephen A. Smith’s podcast away from Audacy. A pretty good week for Bob Pittman and his lieutenants.

Sportico: Jason Clinkscales is an easy guy to root for. He’s written quality content for Awful Announcing, is a sharp guy who enjoys the industry, and after a year full of personal tragedies, he deserved a break. That came last week when Sportico hired him as a reporter and editor on their breaking news team. Well done Sportico. Looking forward to reading the first piece.

National Association of Broadcasters: Creating buzz for conferences isn’t easy but the NAB’s recent announcement of having Daniel Anstandig of Futuri Media present a first-of-its-kind presentation at its April show alongside Ameca, an autonomously AI-powered humanoid robot has certainly increased conversation and intrigue. I’ll be in attendance for the event and am curious like many. I’m just hoping Joe Rogan isn’t right when he suggested this week that robots will jump out of an aircraft carrier with machine guns and do damage.

Thumbs Down:

Kroenke Sports and Entertainment: This isn’t a shot at the company. It’s more about losing a talented media executive. Matt Hutchings, the company’s former COO and EVP was a key part of developing Altitude Sports. Under his watch, the Nuggets and Avalanche won titles, and the company cemented its position in the local sports radio space.

The dispute with Comcast over airing Nuggets and Avs games is well documented, and Hutchings will get some of the blame for the teams not being broadcast on local TV but I tend to believe decisions of that magnitude land at ownership’s doorstep. Regardless, KSE is weaker today than yesterday due to losing Hutchings.

New York Jets: I get it. 98.7 ESPN New York moving away from the FM dial provides a concern for the franchise, and in other cities, football does perform well on classic rock stations. I just see the fit with Q104.3 as an odd one. If Aaron Rodgers returns and the Jets finally take off the way their fans hoped they would last year, it’s going to feel strange hearing their games locally on a channel that has little content time dedicated to the team beyond game days.

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Barrett Blogs

Erika Ayers and Spike Eskin Led Barstool Sports and WFAN to Success But Their Exits Raise Questions

“Rod and Spike understand the business. They know people are going to ask these questions.”

Jason Barrett



There were two big management moves last week that have sports media folks talking. First was Erika Ayers Badan announcing her exit from Barstool Sports as the brand’s CEO. Second was the news of Spike Eskin returning to Sportsradio WIP and exiting his role as the VP of Programming for WFAN and CBS Sports Radio.

Let’s start with Erika. What she did for Barstool was spectacular. In 2016, I thought Barstool had a strong understanding of social media, unique talent and voices, podcasts that were cutting through, and a connection with younger fans that traditional outlets couldn’t deliver. They also produced events that drew a lot of public attention. But I didn’t view Barstool as a buttoned up business capable of generating hundreds of millions of dollars. Erika Nardini aka Erika Ayers Badan and Dave Portnoy deserve credit for making it one.

Erika told me at our 2020 BSM Summit that Barstool didn’t have a P&L sheet when she joined. She had to build systems, hire staff, grow the sales arm of Barstool, and help Dave Portnoy find investors. What followed were marketing deals with major brands, content partnerships with different media outlets, a massive investment from Penn National, and a changed perception of Barstool as a mainstream player. They were no longer just the cool, rebellious brand on social media and the internet that gave no f’s and generated attention. They became game changers in the sports content space.

So why leave?

If Barstool is now clear of restrictions and able to operate without investor influence, that should be enticing, right? In her farewell video Erika said that she felt she accomplished what she set out to do. I understand and appreciate that. But I can’t help but wonder if less structure and investor involvement made it less appealing to stay. She did join the brand after The Chernin Group got involved not before it.

I have no inside knowledge on this, and I’m not suggesting Barstool won’t continue growing and dominating. They likely will. It just raises questions about how the brand will manage sales, PR, critical internal and external issues, and battles with suitors when they try to lure away Barstool’s on-air and sales talent.

The business end of Barstool appears weaker today than it did a week ago. That’s more of a testament to what Erika did than a knock on anyone still there. To grow revenue the way she did the past 8 years speaks volumes about her skill as an executive. Wherever she lands next, it’s likely she’ll make a difference.

Will it be easier to do business with Barstool moving forward? Time will tell. I don’t expect they’ll make it easier for media outlets like ours to cover them. But if I’ve learned anything in eight years of following them it’s don’t ever bet against Dave Portnoy. Too often people have. Each time he’s proven them wrong. Portnoy has built a powerhouse brand, and grown the business by zigging when others zagged. But how Barstool moves forward without Erika will be of great interest to many in 2024.


Spike Eskin will be leaving WFAN and his position as the VP of Programming for Audacy to return to WIP and co-host the afternoon show. On paper this is a great move for WIP. Spike understands Philadelphia and WIP’s audience, he lives and breathes Philly sports, and has a great rapport with the entire lineup. He’s maintained an on-air presence through his Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast, and I believe that moving into a host role alongside Ike Reese and Jack Fritz will be a seamless transition for all involved. Being in his mid to late 40’s, he’s also got plenty years ahead of him to cement his spot as an on-air talent. I expect Spike, Ike and Jack to do well together.

But to exit WFAN and the top programming role at Audacy in less than three years, raises a few questions. Why is this opportunity better for Spike than the programming role he just held? Was he happy at WFAN? Were folks happy with him at WFAN? Many have opinions about WFAN’s changes the past few years. Some love the fresher approach. Others don’t. That’s what makes sports radio in New York fun, people care.

As a follower of WFAN for over thirty years, it’s a different brand than the one I grew up on. That’s not a bad thing by the way. I’m almost 50. If Spike and Chris Oliviero programmed to please the Mike and the Mad Dog crowd that’d be a mistake. Attention spans are shorter, content options are larger, digital is more important and the days of a city flocking to the radio at 1pm to hear a host’s first words are gone. Judging from the ratings, revenue, and turnout for Boomer and Gio’s last live event, the station is doing well. They’ve got a lot of talent, a stronger digital game, and they’ll continue thriving. Spike deserves credit for the brand’s progress.

But why is a hosting role and less influence over a brand better for Eskin? Spike has been a part of WIP’s afternoon show before. Though leading the show vs. being the third mic is a different animal. He also programmed the station really well. In fact, Spike did such a good job at WIP that it landed him the top programming position in sports radio. Is there a personal part to this given that his father made afternoons in Philly must-listen for 25 years? Or is it about the personal relationship he has with Ike and Jack?

And how does this work from a financial standpoint? It’s likely that Spike was paid more to lead Audacy New York than Jon Marks was to host WIP’s afternoon show. If that’s the case, and nothing changes for Eskin, and WIP just adds payroll, does it affect what Chris Oliviero can spend on Audacy New York’s next brand leader? I can’t see that happening at all. Chris is going to make sure he has what he needs to land the right leader in New York.

Finances only come up because it’s known that Audacy is going through a bankruptcy process. Adding expenses right now seems unlikely. However, to add someone with Eskin’s skill and track record at a station where he previously shined is smart business, especially when you consider that he can win as a host and programmer if needed. That’s going to naturally lead to folks asking ‘will Spike eventually host PM drive and program WIP? If so, what does that mean for current PD Rod Lakin?’ ‘What happens when talent at WIP that Spike had a hand in hiring don’t like what Lakin suggests or if WIP’s ratings decline?’

Spike told Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie that’s not on his radar and the idea of joining the afternoon show was raised by PD Rod Lakin. Some of you may read that and be surprised that Lakin would suggest it. But Rod stepped into the role that Eskin previously held. I’m sure they’ve talked plenty the past few years. If their relationship is strong that should help. I don’t know it well enough to say if it is or isn’t. This move suggests Lakin’s more concerned with strengthening WIP than worrying about himself or industry chatter.

If anyone can navigate the situation and make it work, it’s Rod Lakin. He’s calm, cool, collected, smart and doesn’t get flustered by noise and pressure. I know this because we’ve known each other for over a decade, and I introduced him to folks years ago, which led to him landing the Philly role. If you read Derek Futterman’s piece on Angelo Cataldi last month, the Philly icon shared a small example of what makes Rod a great leader.

But Rod and Spike understand the business. They know people are going to ask these questions. The flurry of texts and emails I received about this last week was insane. I’m sure it was even louder on the local level. Many will suggest that Audacy will use this as an opportunity to eventually reduce expenses and stay strong by having Eskin handle two roles. Only those involved know the answers but one thing I know is that Rod Lakin knows how to program. If he’s not supported there, he’ll have plenty of interest elsewhere.

In a perfect world, Spike excels in afternoons, Rod leads WIP to greater success, and WFAN finds a great leader to move the brand forward. But until the smoke clears, noise will fill the air in the big apple and city of brotherly love.


Thumbs Up:

Colin Dunlap, 93.7 The Fan: While on the air last week, Dunlap received a call from a 65-year old woman named Colette. She told the Pittsburgh host that she and her husband were disabled and after undergoing 28 surgeries, she was physically struggling to clear her walkway of snow. Hearing her story moved Dunlap to react. He then called on the audience to step up and help. Shortly thereafter, one of 93.7 The Fan’s listeners, a gentleman named Tom, phoned in, and made the drive over to help out a fellow listener. That’s the power of live radio at its best, all possible by Dunlap reading and reacting to the situation perfectly.

Clay Travis, Outkick: Whether you love him or hate him, Clay delivers strong opinions and commands your attention. A perfect example was his Friday night reaction video to the demise of Sports Illustrated. If you haven’t watched it, it’s worth checking out. It’s nearing one million views at the time of my writing this.

VSiN: The sports betting network based out of Las Vegas recently redesigned its website and the new look and feel of it is excellent. Clean throughout, easy to navigate, and rich of content. Nice work by Bill Adee all involved.


Thumbs Down:

Sports Illustrated: Laying off the majority of its staff was bad enough, but to notify people by email or have them find out on social media shows a lack of class and a disgusting approach to running a business. All of those traits by the way are the exact opposite of what SI once stood for – RESPECT.

During SI’s glory days, the content was must read. But in recent years, the outlet landed in the hands of operators who valued clicks over quality. Many predicted and expected this once storied brand to crumble. Unfortunately, the naysayers were proven right.

To those affected, I’m sorry for the crummy news. Some will rebound and help other established brands. Some will launch their own platforms or exit the industry. Anyone looking to do future freelancing work is invited to email [email protected].


BSM Summit Update:

I’m happy to share that Good Karma Brands president Steve Politziner, Edison Research co-founder and president Larry Rosin and ESPN Chicago program director Danny Zederman have been added to our lineup. We’ve also finalized two of our four awards recipients and are working on a third. I’m hoping to share those details soon along with a few other high profile additions to this year’s show. I’ll be heading to Las Vegas during Super Bowl week, which is when we reveal our BSM Top 20 of 2023, and after that I’m hoping to finalize our schedule so it can be released by the end of February.

I know everyone likes waiting until the last minute to buy tickets and reserve hotel rooms. If you want to avoid being left out though, the time to act is now. Everything you need is posted on Our deadline for hotel room reservations is February 13th. We’ve also sent out free ticket contests by email to the advertising community and tri-state area colleges. We’ll have two more this week for executives and programmers. Be sure to check your spam folder just in case it doesn’t arrive in your inbox.


2-Seconds to Vent:

Jimmy Pitaro, Eric Shanks, John Skipper, Nick Khan, Colin Cowherd, Paul Finebaum, Clay Travis, Craig Carton, Adam Schein, Michael Kay, and Fred Toucher all have something in common with many others across the industry. They’re accomplished professionals with plenty on their plate yet when contacted, they always respond. Most of the time, they do so quickly. That’s greatly appreciated.

If those tasked with running the largest media companies in America, and hosting shows with content, advertising, and audience commitments can find time to respond, why is it so hard for other professionals to do the same? If you don’t want to be featured on BSM, speak at a Summit, market with us or answer a question, just say ‘not interested‘. It takes two seconds. The best in the business understand the value of relationships and promotion. Unfortunately, many do not. I don’t use this platform to draw attention to these issues but sometimes I wonder, should I?


Original Projects:

On BNM this week we’re doing five days of features on NPR professionals as part of ‘Public Radio Week‘. It’s not easy pulling it off but we’re trying some different stuff. Next week we launch ‘Where Are They Now‘ on BSM. Peter Schwartz will have the first feature next Tuesday. Coming up in February, we drop the BSM Top 20, Derek Futterman’s ‘Day Spent With‘ series which includes spending a day with professionals across different areas of the industry, and we’ll profile a number of black voices on BNM as part of the brand’s focus on Black History month. I hope you’ll check them out whenever time allows.


Recommended Viewing:

If you’re looking for a movie to watch during the week, check out Blackberry if you haven’t already done so. The film is about the rise and fall of the Blackberry phone, and I thought it was excellent. It had a similar feel to the movie Jobs, and the series Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber. Worth your time if you’ve got two hours available to watch something different than live games or sports programming.


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Justin Craig, Chris Kinard, Mary Menna Added to 2024 BSM Summit Lineup

“What I’ve always enjoyed about the BSM Summit is that it showcases speakers from many different areas of the industry.”

Jason Barrett



To kick off 2024, we’re announcing the additions of three more talented broadcasters to our 2024 BSM Summit. More on that shortly. The Summit takes place March 13-14 at the Ailey Theater in New York City. For tickets, hotel rooms, and additional details, visit Those interested in sponsorship opportunities, contact Stephanie Eads. A number of items are already claimed but she can tell you what’s left. Reach her by email at [email protected] or by phone at 415-312-5553.

What I’ve always enjoyed about the Summit is that it showcases speakers from different areas of the industry. We’ve featured top talent, researchers, agents, digital leaders, podcasting experts, ratings analysts, tech builders, play by play voices, and of course, program directors and market managers. There’s many ways to succeed, and no better way to learn than to hear from folks who consistently win.

In the sports audio world, 98.5 The Sports Hub, 106.7 The Fan, and ESPN Radio are highly respected brands. The Hub and The Fan are dominant in Boston and Washington D.C.. ESPN Radio meanwhile maintains a strong position as one of the top national audio brands. All feature strong leaders, and we’re fortunate to have all of them represented in NYC.

It’s a pleasure to welcome Beasley Boston Market Manager Mary Menna to the Summit. This is her first appearance at the conference. Mary is responsible for managing The Hub’s business, currently the top revenue generating brand in all of sports radio. I’m excited to have her offer her insights on a panel with Chris Oliviero and Scott Sutherland. More details on the session, date/time closer to the show.

On the programming side, it’s great to welcome back Chris Kinard of 106.7 The Fan, and Justin Craig of ESPN Radio. Both will be involved in programming panels at the show.

CK has helped lead The Fan and Team 980 to consistent growth in the nation’s capital. He’s a forward thinking type of leader with a great feel for the current and future challenges facing the business. I’m looking forward to having him share a few lessons he’s learned with the rest of the room.

For my friend JC, he’s seen ESPN Radio evolve for the better part of two decades. Liked and respected by most, he’s valued and trusted to guide ESPN Radio’s day-to-day operations. Given the network’s change in focus, talent, and structure, he’ll have great insights to share on where national sports audio is moving.

Our speaker list now sits at twenty. It will grow much more over the next two months as we reveal other additions to the show. We’ll also be announcing our award winners, and a few other surprises. This is a fun and informative two-day event for sports media professionals. If you haven’t joined us before, I hope you’ll do so this time. Everything you need to know prior to the event will be available at

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