Connect with us
Jim Cutler Demos

BSM Writers

Social Studies: Matthew Kline, The Volume

“It starts with the three R’s, reach, revenue and relevance. Reach being number one for a reason, if you have a wide reach, you’re likely going to drive revenue, and be pretty relevant.”

Alex Reynolds

Published

on

Welcome to the first edition of Social Studies, a nine part series talking with some of the brightest minds in sports social media. My first feature is on Matthew Kline of The Volume. Matthew has been with Colin Cowherd’s company since 2022, choosing to leave ESPN to become a part of it. His team has grown to 10-15 strong , and the network now boasts 17 podcasts including shows hosted by Draymond Green, Shannon Sharpe, Colin Cowherd and others.

To set the table for today’s conversation, I reached out to Matthew to discuss the relationship with his social team and the talent at The Volume. I wanted to learn how the brand measures social success, and get his advice for how to build a social media strategy for brands that can’t afford a large staff. There are a lot of great tips in here for sports media folks of all shapes and sizes. Be advised that the 30+ minute conversation we had has been edited for brevity and clarity. For the full, unedited interview visit Barrett Media’s YouTube channel.

Alex Reynolds: Let’s start by talking about your career. Tell me how you wound up at The Volume.

Matthew Kline: I started right out of college at ESPN as a production assistant doing all the normal stuff. Show logging, prompting, highlight cutting, all of that. I did it for a few years, and really honed my video editing skills. Then I got switched over to the social team. I was the kid at 23 whose friends forced him to have a Facebook account. In college, I created a Twitter profile to track trades in sports, but I never actually tweeted, which is still kind of true. I keep a low profile on the socials since I do it every day for my job.

I got really lucky. I had some tremendous bosses who I’m still very close with to this day. They served as my mentors and taught me. Steve Braband was my first boss. He’s now an executive of digital at WWE. Ashley Braband is an executive at Omaha. I worked for her too. And Michael Buckland is now a SVP for Fox Sports plus I worked with Katie Daly and Mike Foss as well. I soaked up knowledge from all of them and learned about social media’s best practices.

About a little more than two years ago, my former boss Steve Braband called me and said, “These guys at The Volume are doing some cool stuff. They’re looking for someone to come in and create and set up their social and YouTube.” At the time I was really happy with ESPN and I didn’t necessarily see myself leaving, but I trust Steve. I started having conversations, and Steve introduced me to Logan Swaim and we hit it off immediately.

The first conversation I went from being very skeptical to considering it being a real thing. I went through a couple more rounds of interviews, spent a month or two talking to them and ultimately made the decision to leave ESPN and join The Volume. It’s been an incredible ride for the first two years.

AR: When Logan [Swaim] brings you in, he says you’re starting from scratch. Based on what you had learned, your first thought was what? What did that introductory strategy look like?

MK: The first thing that immediately came to mind was, I knew we would ramp up YouTube. That was somewhat in progress when I got here but we knew we wanted to do a big pivot to video. We wanted to incorporate more video into our production strategy and process.

So my first thought process was to maximize our reach, revenue, and relevance. At the beginning, I was worried mostly about number one, and that was reach. How do we expand our audience in the biggest way possible? Early on that meant turning our social team into a content distribution machine.

How are people going to know that these awesome podcasts exist if they don’t exist on social? We had to dig in with the existing team to crank out more higher-end social cuts that are a little bit faster paced, have texts and graphics, and really move.

They were used simply as a marketing mechanism to get people to understand that they should consume these full-length podcasts. I think the biggest difference was learning that it’s not just a marketing play. Social content is content. Show content on social should be valued just as much as a view on YouTube or a listen on a podcast. It has the value of really ingraining itself in a culture, which we’ve seen a lot with Draymond [Green], and Shannon [Sharpe]. Colin [Cowherd] is in that space too. Richard Sherman is as well. We’ve been able to grow the profile of other people by getting them out.

So next was how do we maximize our reach and audience? How do we reach the most amount of people possible? That was again just turning our social into a content distribution machine. In addition to doing original social content, we had to be a part of the live window on NFL Sundays, on big NBA nights, creating content around that.

So it was a pretty holistic strategy all around. I don’t want to leave out the YouTube portion of it, which was obviously huge. We went from primarily being focused on the audio version of our podcasts to equal weight: How are we optimizing our video for both YouTube and social? What are we doing to package it? Are we doing enough breakout clips of single topics or multiple topics on YouTube to get the most out of every single show?

AR: So tell me a little bit about the team. How many people do you have working with you and what do you look for when bringing people on board?

MK: The skill sets on our team are really diverse. The social and YouTube team is about 10 to 15 people. We have a team of producers that work on the shows and aps. I think our entire team is around 50 people including senior staff.

There’s two or three big things that I look for when I’m looking to staff up my team. One is, do you have a unique perspective? Do you have a voice that is going to come through when you are producing a video? I think there are a lot of people that can sit down and set an in and out, export the video and say, here it is.

But what creativity do you have? What creative juices are you bringing to the edit? How are you elevating it? What are you doing to take a conversation about LeBron James and make it appealing to everyone, incorporating maybe a cultural reference, working in something from Photoshop. Again, how people’s brains work. Are they bringing a different perspective?

Everyone on my team also needs to be collaborative. That’s not just true of my team, that’s true of everyone at The Volume. I want everyone waking up on the team, excited to hop into the morning huddle, and start exchanging ideas. What are you working on today? Oh, that sounds really cool. Can I help with that? So again, people being culture setters, and wanting to work hard with the people around them. I think that’s the baseline.

AR: How about the team’s relationship with the talent? In many instances they are commanding massive audiences. How does that intersect with what you guys do on social?

MK: A lot of it depends show to show. How closely we work with Draymond Green is probably not the same as how closely we work with Jason Timpf. Jason has more time to chat about strategy and communicate on a day-to-day basis. Draymond has other things going on. The same with Shannon and Colin. I give Logan [Swaim] a ton of credit for this in terms of who we’ve gone out and looked for. It’s people who are fully bought in. You’ll notice that Draymond is all in on promoting his podcast and encouraging people to ask questions. Tweet at him so that he can talk about it on the pod.

Shannon and Chad on Nightcap are fully bought in on promoting it and trying to get people to subscribe to the YouTube channel. They’re trying to get people into the comments section so they can interact with them on the live show. 

Every single one of our talent wants to maximize their growth. They’re all bought in not only on content being shared from our handles, but sharing content on their own handles too, participating in giveaways and brainstorming, both for the shows and for social. So honestly, working with them has been across the board, really rewarding.

AR: Let’s talk about how you measure success on social. You mentioned before that reach, following and engagement are huge. Aside from that, what does success look like? Where have you seen big wins?

MK: It starts with the three R’s, reach, revenue and relevance. Reach being number one for a reason, in that if you have a wide reach, you’re likely going to drive a good amount of revenue, and be pretty relevant. So expanding the reach as much as possible, and that goes across all platforms: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, experimenting on Threads, etc..  Any platform that is going to be emerging. Snapchat is something I have a ton of experience with, and we’re having conversations right now with them about expanding our content there. Anywhere that we think that we can cultivate and generate an audience is somewhere we’re going to go.

Then in terms of revenue, our biggest play is going to be YouTube. That’s largely programmatic ads. But by having a big reach and being super relevant on social with all of these clips, we can also upsell our content.

Hey, you have a show sponsorship? You’re also going to get a social sponsorship with that. You’re not going to just get a [ad] read on the audio, you’re going to also get a video read on the video version of the podcast. You’re also going to get a sponsored clip on social that’s going to go on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, everywhere that people are consuming their content.

So maximizing our reach makes us more attractive to those brands so that we can maximize our revenue.

And then it’s about relevance. When I first started, there were a few people on the social team who, and I totally understand this cause I was the same way when I was 23-24, everyone got really territorial when anyone picked up our content. Maybe they didn’t give us the perfect credit. For me, I’m like, ‘No. Y’all. This is a win. It’s great. This is what we want. We’re getting views. We’re not even doing all the work.’

We’re trying to produce content in a way that cuts through, and get other major outlets to pick it up. We may have a clip on First Take or SportsCenter or Undisputed. Having the relevance not only in the podcast space, but across the sports landscape, that’s been hugely rewarding and something that again, by maximizing reach, we’re able to maximize relevance.

In terms of success, YouTube has been huge for us. When I first started, we were under 50,000 subs and we grew to about a half a million about a year in. We launched Draymond’s Instagram account right around the playoffs of my first year to take advantage of that. That got 100,000 followers within a month and all of a sudden that’s where a ton of our views are coming from.

TikTok has been hugely successful for us. We had someone who started off as an intern,  21 years old, running our TikTok. Now, he’s built our TikTok into a channel with 330,000+ followers. He’s now a producer and talent for us as well – Carson Breber. By empowering people to implement the best practices and do what they know best, it frees them to do their best work. That’s where their strengths on those platforms have been hugely beneficial for us.

The most recent success, which I saved for last, but certainly not least, has been this ramp up with Shannon Sharpe over the last month or 2. We inherited Club Shay Shay, which was a hugely successful podcast with over a million followers on YouTube. We worked to help grow that, but anytime you have someone like Shannon Sharpe, the question is, what more can we do, especially when people went from getting Shannon every morning for a couple of hours to a once a week podcast.

There is a gap there for that audience that we can fill. That’s how we built Nightcap with him and Chad Ochocinco. It’s been a wild ride over the last month. We reached a quarter of a million subscribers right on the one-month anniversary of launching the YouTube channel. We got to 50,000 on Instagram within a month. We’re around 50,000 on TikTok, so that ramp-up has just been amazing. It’s gone as good, if not better than I could have ever imagined. I think in the first month on YouTube, we had about 16 million views and another 60 million monthly views just on social.

That’s obviously going to be the headliner. He’s one of our biggest names with some of our biggest numbers. I’m going to add one more. Jason Timpf actually might be my favorite success story, just relative to where he started to where he is now. I want to be very, very, clear. Jason deserves all the credit in the world. He is immensely talented, smart, and an absolute grinder. When he started, he was a Lakers podcaster, blogger, and didn’t have the biggest profile.Now he has his own YouTube channel with over 20,000 subs. Just a couple of weeks ago, his videos in the playoffs were routinely over a hundred thousand views. His profile across social has risen so much. I remember the first time he told me, ‘I was DMing with Kevin Durant the other day.’ ‘I’m sorry, what now?’

AR: BSM has a strong audio-driven audience, which I feel is starting to catch up. If you create audio content, you now have a video camera in the studio. You’re generating vertical videos whether that’s [Instagram] Reels, TikToks or other stuff. You guys do it exceptionally well. What do you feel are best practices when it comes to pulling audio or video clips and where do you feel other brands still need some work?

MK: I think first and foremost, topic selection is the biggest thing. You need to know what your audience wants to hear about and talk about. That’s step one. Are you pulling the best possible clip from each episode or the best possible two or three clips? Have you identified the moments within an episode that are going to resonate with your audience?

Number two, I think is pacing. That’s something that we emphasize a lot. I’ll give a few compliments out to some other places that I think are doing it really well.

The New Heights podcast and Podcast P, if you look at their social cuts, very pacey. They really suck out all of the air. There’s a lot of jump cuts. There’s text on screen. You can slide in some cutouts or graphics, incorporate some B-roll or pictures, but keep things changing on screen so that you’re keeping the audience engaged and not losing them to the swipe up.

Let’s be honest, social media audiences have no patience for anything. I remember when we were first launched SportsCenter Snapchat, and were having conversations about how best to do it on Snapchat. That has stuck with me for the last six years.

If something on screen does not change every three seconds, you’ve lost your audience. They have swiped out. I bring that to every single social account we want to talk about. I’m not saying it should move so fast that you can’t understand what’s going on and you can’t track it. I think that’s the middle ground that can be a little bit difficult. I think sometimes you see people try to make it go so fast that you don’t understand what is happening. But again, keep the pace up and  keep things on screen, changing and moving, I think we do that really well.

I feel a little bad saying that other people in the industry don’t do it as well, but I tend to think that we do it as well or better than everyone or anyone. For the most part, we talk about sports. So are you taking the right take that people are going to be interested in? Secondarily, are you showcasing your talent’s personality in a way that’s going to make people want to watch or seek out additional content? Are you making your talent look good? That matters.

The last thing that I’ll say, which I take a lot of personal pride in is that intentionally we are not going to be the place that does the clickbait headline and pull quote. We’re not going to take someone out of context because then good guests aren’t going to want to come on. That’s something that I think a lot of companies and aggregators focus on. What’s the spiciest thing we can pull out? What might make the most waves? We want to be influential and have people see our content, get excited about it and share it, but we want to do that in a positive way.

AR: We talk to a lot of people in the radio industry, and they don’t have the budget for a 10-person social staff that can be anywhere, everywhere at once. What would be your advice for a station or company that has one or two people handling social? Where would you start? What would you prioritize?

MK: I think that if you have the ability to record video, start there. I think the easiest thing to start is going to be YouTube. It doesn’t require a ton of editing. You’re essentially doing the same thing as you are on audio: in, out, here is your episode.

You do need some understanding of SEO, making sure your titles and descriptions are optimized in the best way for search. You want to make sure you’re creating good thumbnails, but that’s relatively easy to learn and it’s doable for a small team. If you have the ability to do video, I’d put your efforts into trying to get one really good cut per day. Focus on taking your best moment and making it as good as humanly possible. Establish your content as elite and people will slowly trickle in.

I think there’s always a rush to get so much content out. And, yes, if you have the ability to no pun intended, but in mass volume, get a ton of content out great. But, if it’s a bunch of subpar content, no one’s going to be looking for your show. Focus on those one or two moments that you can on to your TikToks, Instagrams and Twitters.

Within that and this is going to get into the voice on social, be organic don’t try to be a sensationalist or something you’re not. Have a voice, and develop a voice. It usually mirrors your talent. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same. But be natural. You want to engage with your audience and being templated is not the way to do that. Start with developing your voice, understand what your brand is, and show them the best possible version of your content as often as you can, knowing that resources are always an issue.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

BSM Writers

WWE’s Paul Heyman Joins the 2024 BSM Summit

“I am thrilled to share that on Wednesday March 13th in New York City, we will welcome a man who has experienced every part of the wrestling and entertainment business both on-air and behind the scenes.”

Jason Barrett

Published

on

The final few weeks leading up to the BSM Summit are my least favorite time of the entire process. Between last-minute preparations, unexpected changes, laying out a schedule that fits everyone’s schedule, giving speakers direction, and handling the creative for the banners, programs and what appears on the screen, it can be overwhelming. This event isn’t created and produced by a large organization. It’s done by BSM’s small team and a few volunteers. There is no production team. That’s me. There is no sales team. That’s Stephanie. The creative squad that brainstorms ahead of the show? That’s me peppering Dave Greene, Demetri Ravanos and Stephanie Eads with every single thing that pops into my head.

I share this because on Monday I’ll be releasing our full schedule for the 2024 BSM Summit. You’ll find it on BarrettSportsMedia.com/Summit. If you type in BSMSummit.com it will take you to that page. I’m also hoping to announce our final collection of speakers. You guys will like some of the folks coming to speak who we’ve yet to announce.

Booking this event month’s in advance could be easily done. I could execute a radio conference in my sleep. But I’m not interested in easy. I’m focused on delivering a two-day event that unites professionals across the entire media universe, many who you may never share space with again. I believe in this concept because it helps you learn, stay sharp, discover what others do to create success that you may not have thought about, and in the process, you build new connections.

Creating an event that dives into radio, podcasting, social media, newsletters, television, video execution, sales and promotions, the economic climate, and programming strategy, requires thinking outside the box and swinging for the fences. Think about it. Where else are you going to hear the CEO of a radio company one minute, two local sports talk show hosts the next, four digital executives after that, four social media superstars once they’re done, and cap it all off with discussions about business, entertainment, and the future? It may not be perfect or rolled out the way a few would prefer but it works for us. By the time we hit the stage on March 13-14, that’s when the six months of hard work pay off and the fun begins.

Speaking of fun, if you’ve been to a Summit before, you’ve heard me connect the world of sports media to professional wrestling. The battle for audience attention, understanding how to leverage social media, incorporate advertising, create interest in on-air talent, and design programming to capture ratings are something the two world’s have in common. We’ve been fortunate to have Shawn Michaels and Eric Bischoff speak at prior shows but never have we had a speaker involved who’d be part of the upcoming main event for WrestleMania.

I am thrilled to share that on Wednesday March 13th in New York City, we will welcome a man who has experienced every part of the wrestling and entertainment business both on-air and behind the scenes. It is an honor to have the great Paul Heyman joining us at this year’s Summit.

If you’re unfamiliar with Mr. Heyman, here’s the cliff notes version of what you need to know. Currently, Paul serves as the special counsel for WWE Universal Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns. Reigns has been world champion for 1269 days, and the storyline he’s involved in (The Bloodline) has been a massive hit on television and digital for the WWE. Roman will be competing in the main event at the WWE’s largest show of the year, WrestleMania with Heyman in his corner. The event has become so big that The Rock has returned to become part of the story.

As an on-air character, Heyman is gifted in his ability to command the audience’s attention. His promos are always well thought out, well executed, and interesting. Learning about his process as a talent and what goes into creating a compelling monologue is going to be a real treat for on-air folks in the room.

In addition, Paul is an accomplished writer, executive, promoter and booker. He’s served as the lead writer for both WWE RAW and Smackdown, leading both to the top of the ratings charts. He’s also been on the other side as the leader of an underdog promotion (ECW) tasked with building a brand and competing against the top dog, WWE. Paul is also well versed in advertising having co-founded the Looking4Larry Agency, which is known for its wildly imaginative campaigns for 2K Sports, NASCAR, Smart Cups, Monster Trucks, EA Sports and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas.

Talent have praised his creative ideas and ability to design and structure compelling television. Audiences have emotionally connected to his on-air commentaries, and on Wednesday March 13th, BSM Summit attendees will learn what it takes to create, cut through, and command the room’s attention when I sit down with Paul Heyman for an in-depth conversation.

A reminder, tickets for the 2024 BSM Summit are on-sale through BSMSummit.com and the BSM Store. Prices will increase on March 4th so act now and save money before it’s too late. I hope to see you in NYC in three weeks.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Sports Broadcasts Should Remain Political-Free Zones

There’s a time and place for opinions on other things, but during a game isn’t that time or place. Be smart and think before you speak.

Avatar photo

Published

on

A cartoon depicting political candidates talking sports
Credit: Maia Lathrop / Clarion

Political thoughts and ads are everywhere. It seems like everything these days is politicized. Sports hasn’t escaped either. Athletes take stands, some commentators have made their political positions well known too.

In this case, politics is more of a catch-all term. It doesn’t just mean Democrat or Republican, it can mean making a comment on any hot button issue in America or anywhere else. Controversies that create a public stir. We’ve had a few over the course of the last few weeks that drummed up lots of emotion and certainly could have been avoided.

The most recent example took place last weekend at the NBA All-Star Saturday on TNT. As I’m sure you know by now, Kenny Smith had some things to say about the Steph Curry/Sabrina Ionescu 3-point shootout. Such choice things as, “She should have shot it from the women’s line, that would have been a fair contest.” Ionescu more than held her own, with 26 points which would have qualified her for the men’s finals in the event. Smith’s partner Reggie Miller didn’t make things much better, when he chimed in, “According to you, you want her to be playing with dolls.” Smith’s response: “Playing with dolls is good, too.” The fallout was swift thanks to social media.

Smith went on to Stephen A. Smith’s ESPN show earlier in the week to defend his commentary. “I think it’s much ado about nothing, honestly,” Smith said, when asked about the controversy. “Most people who know basketball understood what I was talking about. Actually, I was advocating for her, more than anything else, because basketball is muscle memory. So, he practices from one range, she practices from another.” Smith further explained, “Most people just don’t check the tape, they want to just check the bait. My history and track record speaks for itself,” Smith said. “I was clueless why people thought I didn’t want equality.”

Can. Worms. Opened. I get it, social media can make things appear one way when they are intended in another. My question to Smith and Miller, why make the commentary at all in that moment? Ionescu is a terrific basketball player and shooter. Everybody knew the rules going into the exhibition, so why make a stink about it? Or, if the need outweighs the caution, how about putting some notes down on paper so that you aren’t taken out of context? There are ways to make the commentary smoother. It’s not like the event was a surprise.

Talk shows fall into a different light. That’s all about opinion and it is likely up to each individual to understand how far to push it. Hosts should know their markets and from there can figure out what may or may not work. Topics like these generally lead to more fan engagement, because everyone has an opinion. It’s up to the host or hosts to keep the topic ‘on the rails’ or it becomes a free for all.

When it comes to announcers, hosts and reporters in the industry, mistakes can happen. I get that. It’s live and sometimes thoughts can go awry. We’ve seen it countless times. My question is this, why even go there? What is the benefit? Some like to try and make a name for themselves, to be controversial just for the sake of “look at me” or “listen to me” and trying to make headlines. That’s kind of sad to me. There is more to lose than to gain in these cases.

We’ve seen cases of misspeaking and/or controversial ‘hot button’ statements made on air that have proven costly to livelihoods. One of the more recent moments took place in May 2023. Glen Kuiper and the A’s were in Kansas City and had visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum earlier in the day. He was discussing the visit on air when he dropped the n-word. His claim was that his pronunciation of “negro” was misheard. After an investigation, he was fired. Kuiper was one of the best local television announcers.

Before that Reds announcer Thom Brennaman was caught on a hot mic, making a homophobic remark. Brennaman was pulled from the broadcast mid-game and suspended. The Reds later told Brennaman that he would not be returning, which prompted his resignation. To his credit Brennaman owned it and is trying to improve himself as a person. He’s been forgiven by the LGBTQ+ community in Cincinnati, after he attended several meetings with leaders. They weren’t easy as he told me a couple of years ago, but he made the extreme effort.

If there’s one entity in sports broadcasting that needs to stay out of the fray, and be ‘politic proof’ it’s the sports broadcast and telecast. The booth needs to remain pure. It needs to be a sanctuary for fans and broadcasters alike. There aren’t many fans that are tuning into a baseball, basketball, football or hockey broadcast to learn about your opinions about anything else but the game. Fans look to escape that when listening to or watching a game. Sports is the place we go to forget about the real world for 3-4 hours at a time.

We all have opinions about things in the sport and out of it. Opinions about the game you are broadcasting is what you’re there for, right? For example, I can’t stand the ‘ghost runner’ at 2nd base in extra innings in Major League Baseball. It’s gimmicky and takes away from the way the game was meant to be played. Me expressing that opinion as the game heads to extras is appropriate, as long as you don’t lose track of the game. My thoughts on the Presidential race or a Senate race is inconsequential in the scope of my baseball broadcast. Be engaging to your audience about things they care about in the moment, the game.

I hate when people tell us in the industry to “stick to sports”. Nothing grates on me more. I keep thinking, oh, because I talk about sports, that’s all I know? So, all that doctors know about is medicine then, right? It’s a simple-minded criticism, but I have to say, in these cases, in a booth, we should stick to the sports aspect of things.  There’s a time and place for opinions on other things, but during a game isn’t that time or place. Be smart and think before you speak.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Jeff Rickard Understands The Benefits of Attending the BSM Summit

“Over the past five or six years, the industry has been growing up a lot.”

Demetri Ravanos

Published

on

Jeff Rickard is one of the truly familiar faces of the BSM Summit. He’s not involved in the planning or with the company, but it’s an event he never misses.

“It went from a small group in Chicago the first year to recognition from everyone in our industry, and there’s a lot to be gained when we all get together from different markets and cities,” said Rickard of the event’s growth. “We’re not competing against each other. Instead, we’re there to bring each other ideas, lift each other up, and give each other not just support necessarily, but different ways of looking at and doing things. It allows you to kind of take some energy from another building and bring it back to your own.”

Since the BSM Summit first launched as an invite-only event, Rickard has held jobs in Indianapolis, Boston and Charlotte. In fact, it was at the 2022 Summit in New York where he had his first meeting that would lead to him taking the reins at WFNZ.

Different jobs have come with different situations. Rickard has been able to talk with fellow attendees about translators, transitions to FM, and building digital strategies. He appreciates the networking opportunities that exist at the Summit, but the access to new points of view have helped him grow as a programmer.

“Over the past five or six years, the industry has been growing up a lot,” he says. “In the last, I don’t know, three to four years, I think BSM has helped that along the way.”

The “radio is dying” narrative is a popular one. We can pretend that it only exists outside of our industry, but how many of us know someone very much inside the industry that exclusively speaks the language of doom and gloom when asked about future goals and plans? 

Rickard says that coming to the Summit is a necessity for anyone stuck in or around that mindset. Radio may not be as popular as ubiquitous as it used to be, but there is still enthusiasm for sports radio. That is something to feed off of!

“Local sports radio, if done right, will always attract an audience, because [listeners] can go to Sirius XM and they can go to ESPN and they can get the main stories of the day, and they can talk about the Chiefs winning another Super Bowl, and they can talk about if the Golden State Warriors being past their prime,” he says. “That’s all great, but if you’re in Indianapolis or Charlotte and you want to hear about respectively the Pacers or the Hornets, you know that we’re going to be talking about them. I think we’ve learned about the things that our local audience is going to want.”

Lessons Rickard has learned at past BSM Summits have had a major impact in Charlotte. WFNZ’s cume isn’t just up since he arrived. It has nearly quadrupled. 

According to Rickard, that is the result of valuing all perspectives. He’s a programmer, but that doesn’t mean he is only paying attention to sessions featuring other programmers. He also isn’t focused only on executives that could offer him the next opportunity. Rickard encourages any programmer that attends the BSM Summit to come and take notes when talent from other markets are on stage. 

“You have to realize that they’re not on a level below you. They are in large part you’re partners,” he says. “I always enjoy listening to guys that are highly successful, at those summits, talk about what motivates them, what they’re thinking about, how they go ahead and put a show together. There’s a reason we hire those talented people because they’re really good at what they do. They’re really good at attracting an audience, and they’re better at holding that audience. That’s why they’re speaking at a conference like BSM.”

Day-to-day operations are always on the minds of the people that attend the BSM Summit. When Jeff Rickard comes to New York next month though, he wants to hear conversations about the bigger picture. Whether it is from the stage or at networking events, he wants to be part of the conversations that are fundamental to the future of radio as a medium and broadcasting as a business. The one at the forefront of his mind? Audience measurement.

“We’ve been dealing with Nielsen for a long time,” he says. “There’s good, there’s bad. We all understand the system and how it works. But with so many of our listeners coming to us now through an app or coming to us by downloading what we’re doing online, they’re coming to us straight to the website. We’re starting to be able to kind of pick and choose our own numbers. We can see with certain day parts and certain guests or certain topics that, ‘wow, a lot of people checked into the app at that particular time.’ 

“So I think moving forward, the biggest thing for our industry is how do we continue to more accurately assess who our audience is and what’s really happening there on a moment to moment basis. I think we’re getting better every year, but I’m curious to see what the industry believes is the future for the next ten years, because I don’t think we’re using it now.” 

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement

Upcoming Events

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2024 Barrett Media.