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Anti-Social Vs. Socially Consumed: Which One Are You?

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It’s safe to say that there’s been a social media explosion over the past 10 years and chances are you’ve caught the bug. Each day we wake up and check our Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds before we even look at a website, listen to a radio station, watch a TV channel or god forbid open a newspaper (I actually know some people who still do it). This is a way of life for us and our listeners and given how many platforms launch and succeed each year, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

If you scan the country today, you’ll find tons of sports radio personalities who are passionately engaged in these forums and take the responsibility of connecting very seriously. To list a few examples, Damon Bruce & John Middlekauff at 95.7 The Game-SF, Chad Doing at 750 The Game-Portland, Shan Shariff at 104.3 The Fan-Dallas and Chad Dukes & Grant Paulssen at 106.7 The Fan-Washington DC are just some of the on-air hosts who do a great job in this space.

johnkincadeI’ll also catch guys like John Kincade at 680 The Fan-Atlanta, Bob Fescoe at 610 Sports-KC and Freddie Coleman at ESPN Radio use their Twitter feeds to drive radio teases and content tune-ins on their shows and I think that’s very smart. It certainly makes you wonder what they’re talking about and creates an urgency to want to click the station’s app button on your phone and hear what’s going on.

While there’s no denying the importance social media plays in our daily lives, there is some debate in the sports talk radio universe of how heavily invested we should be in it. While that may seem crazy to some of you, there’s some good reasoning offered on the other side to make for a great discussion.

Case in point, Mike Francesa of WFAN in New York has talked openly for the past few years about his lack of interest in it. Mike admits that he doesn’t have a Twitter or Facebook account and has no plans to adjust. He also doesn’t think athletes should be using the forum. There are plenty of other established major market personalities who share similar views.

Now some of you will dismiss that and say “he’s behind the times” or “he doesn’t get it” and maybe there’s some validity to that point of view but there’s equal value to the point he raises about giving things away for free in too many places and not making your radio show a unique one of a kind destination.

twitterLet’s face it, in the ratings world today it’s likely that a user with a PPM meter has a Facebook account. Maybe even a Twitter account. One could say that being active in both of these locations gives you a better chance to form a loyal bond with the individual which then makes them want to consume your show more.

The other side of that equation is that because the individual with a meter already knows what you think and has seen you interacting with everyone about it online, there’s no specific need now to tune into your radio show. It may seem far fetched but can you be so sure that isn’t accurate?

I myself have a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn account and I believe there is great value in being accessible, connecting with people and staying involved in what the latest trends are but I do know that each medium has the ability to infect you like a virus and keep you so busy that you lose focus and decrease your own productivity.

Once you start letting the feedback consume you and ultimately influence you, you’re likely to hate it. That’s where social media can be really dangerous. I have watched hosts change segments based on a few tweets and I’ve seen them also spend hours going back and forth with 2-3 people who have no interest in having a good healthy discussion and are only interested in getting under their skin.

stltodayI can recall in 2006 moving to St. Louis to program 590 The Fan, KFNS and before Twitter/Facebook became the powerful outlets for feedback that they are today, message boards were the popular thing. I was new to town and unfamiliar with them so I figured I’d better get up to speed since every host, producer and employee seemed consumed by one of my former colleagues Bernie Miklasz’s “Bernie’s Press Box” in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Well before I knew it I found myself reading the board daily, hearing my staff talk about stuff from it and letting it influence their opinions. At one point I started to even question my own beliefs because I was working for a place which had made some bad decisions and the reaction to what I was involved in was strong and I felt I needed to be aware.

I finally woke up one day and thought to myself “what the hell am I doing“? While I couldn’t fix every single issue with the company, I knew I had to detach myself from that outlet because it was now causing me to not do what I was good at which was trust my gut.

Today, I use Twitter and I do engage at times with listeners and I’ve even been known to conduct special chat sessions or use the social media world for surveys and soliciting focus group participants. What I make sure not to do these days though is let it impact the way I think about my brand, my staff and any decision I make.

Jason on the mic in TorontoFor talent, that challenge is much harder. When you’re on a microphone communicating your position on every single sports topic, it’s going to lead to reaction. I’m a PD so I don’t have to endure the wrath of a half of a market when I speak my opinion about a sports topic but as a personality it comes with the territory. While I think it’s great to know that your words do connect with people, I think it’s equally wise to remember that a strong well informed opinion on a subject that has value to local people should create a response every single time! If you’re not creating a reaction then you’re likely just background noise.

The real key for on-air personalities is trying to strike a balance between being active and accessible yet not giving away the farm for free. People love to see you online during a game talking about it with them and you want to be able to provide some color on the game but saving the good stuff needs to factor into your thinking if you want to keep people interested and adjusting schedules to catch your show.

I do believe that the future of media personalities requires you to be much more than a radio host. In the future (and present) companies are going to expect you to be able to do a radio show, video commentary, write a blog, engage on social media, sell products, appear in the community and get out to games and build relationships with teams and fans.

moneyballSome will bitch and moan “that’s a lot of work” or “it wasn’t like that back in the day” and much like with everything else in life, change happens. If I recall correctly, in the movie “Moneyball” Brad Pitt said it best “Adapt or Die“.

Ask someone in local television today who shoots their own video and does their own stand ups. Sure some will say “this is ridiculous” and “it wasn’t like this before” but the media industry will move on just fine without those who adapt and the list of people interested in this line of work will only increase.

The next part I want to touch on is the value or lack thereof of following people back and blocking them. Unless someone starts firing personal attacks or provides little benefit to me to engage with them, I usually refrain from blocking people. Once again though, I’m a PD and not an on-air personality. Some of the things that get sent to personalities today would make you sick to your stomach. I’ve seen it occur in multiple markets where things that were sent in were so over the line and being done so frequently that there could be grounds for an arrest for harassment.

twitterblockedNone the less, as a personality you’re in a no-win situation. Your opinions drive reactions and people will always have different viewpoints on everything you say and you’re in the public spotlight so the second you begin engaging in a confrontational way, it consumes your mind day/night and in most cases it just fuels the fire of people who’s sole purpose is to get under your skin. And if you react and take it too far? It could cost you your job.

If you follow Keith Olbermann on Twitter you’ll see that he doesn’t hide from the negativity and at times he even welcomes it. While I don’t see a lot of benefit for KO in getting into twitter battles with viewers, I will say that I find his jabs very entertaining. In some ways I’m glad he does it because too many personalities get verbally abused and are then expected to not stand up for themselves.

The only areas of concern for me are “what is really being gained from it” and “is it worth it if a line gets crossed and some corporate executive or key client gets offended“? Let’s face it, we’re in a very sensitive world today and people presume you guilty a lot faster than they consider you innocent. That said, Olbermann’s responses are hysterical.

. I’ve had jobs for 35 years, little one. You have a twitter account. And not much of that.

While KO has his approach, Jay Mohr has a very different approach. I read an interview with him (click here) where he discussed his views on social media and what blew me away was when he talked about his strategy on positive and negative reactions.

jaymohrHis exact quote was “The golden rule of Twitter is you cannot ever respond to somebody saying something negative to you. It took me a good three years to learn that, and, even still, I’ll start to type something and be a sentence or two in before I realize, What am I doing? Why am I answering this person? I’ve blocked about 3,000 people. I’ve made Twitter this ivory tower of Babel where people only say nice things about me.”

Here’s Jay, a popular public figure doing a daily show and expected to be accessible and yet he’s shutting down future communications with more than 3,000 people. Is that really wrong though? For his own peace of mind I bet he’s much happier opening his twitter account each day and not dealing with a ton of negativity. That probably puts him in a better frame of mind to be creative and do a great show and if he’s blocking people who don’t enjoy what he does anyway, are they really the fans who you want to focus your energy on anyway?

You can also make the case that by only promoting the positive, it creates the illusion that everyone likes Jay and his show and that can often create a domino effect where others feel like they need to start getting familiar with what’s happening on the show so they don’t feel left out. That’s one of the simple rules of marketing, say something enough times and people will start repeating it.

If you take it one step further, look at brands in general. Some feel strongly about following back listeners and some don’t. Some will post station only content benefits and some will respond to listeners messages. As a good brand example, I personally think the airline industry does a great job of responding to their customers. They’re very timely and often witty and I’m sure they see great value in it.

Get hurt. Try to fly back home and mechanical issues. Awesome.

 

Our apologies for the delay, Josh. We’ll do what we can to keep our plane off the . What’s your flight number?

One big challenge we have today in our business with social media is trying to keep up with the thousands of responses per day while putting the responsibility on staff members who are also trying to balance doing 2-3 other jobs. Yes the interaction is very important and we don’t want to be dismissive of our audience but if the on-air product suffers from it, is it worth it? At that point you’re choosing between sipping two different poisons. Either way you’re in trouble.

I’ll close with this. If you’re not on Twitter today, you’re missing out on knowing about breaking news. Whether you love the service or not, if you’re not aware of what’s going on there you’re missing key information that matters to your audience. Every single reporter across the country is breaking news on Twitter before they do it on their ow company’s platforms and while that boggles my mind and one could question why, this is how the news cycle works in today’s environment and you need to be where the action is.

francesaI do think one key takeaway from Mike Francesa’s views on social media is valid – are you giving away your best material for free and leaving nothing unique and special for your show? If your best stuff is left on Twitter or you’re recycling the same exact lines from the night before, you may want to alter your approach. For more on his views on the subject, watch his keynote address on the sports talk radio industry by clicking here.

That said I believe there’s great personal and promotional value for personalities and it’s a smarter long-term strategy for your career to be accessble and active in social locations where fans are. It’s certainly not for everybody but I see more upside being there than downside for not but that’s just my point of view.

I’ll leave you to consider this. Mike Francesa has no connection in any social space and yet he’s been (and still is) one of the highest rated performers in the #1 media market in the country. Maybe he’s missing out on what’s important to people today and he’s not thinking about what’s going to matter tomorrow but given his track record of success, he might not be as crazy as you might think. I’ll let you be the judge!

How do you feel about the importance of social media and how active personalities and sports radio professionals should be? Leave a comment below to continue the conversation!

Barrett Blogs

Black Friday Sale TODAY For 2022 BSM Summit Tickets

“BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets will begin at 12:01am ET on Friday November 26th and expire at 11:59pm later that same night.”

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There are less than 100 days remaining until the 2022 BSM Summit takes place in New York City. We’ve announced 31 participants for the show so far, and have more to reveal in the weeks and months ahead. I think you’re going to like what’s still to come.

Putting this conference together isn’t easy. It requires months of meetings, brainstorming, promotion, selling sponsorships, pursuing speakers, and creating everything that attendees see on stage over a two day period. I’m thankful to have help from some amazing partners, but as I’ve mentioned previously, this isn’t an event that makes us rich or ends with 5-10 new clients signing up to work with BSM. The goal each year is simple, make sure the conference is valuable for those who attend, and don’t run BSM out of business by doing it. As long as those two things remain solid, it’s worth doing.

Some might wonder, why go thru months of headaches if you’re not going to break the bank or immediately add clients. That’s fair to ask. If you look at it from a pure business standpoint, one could easily make a case that pouring this type of energy into something else could be more lucrative. But money was never the motivation for doing this. I felt the sports media industry lacked a signature event where smart, successful media professionals (who don’t often cross paths) could gather at one location to laugh and learn together, and I wanted to change that. If over a two day period attendees could gain insight, information, ideas, and introductions, it’d put everyone in a stronger position to remain successful.

I’ve unapologetically loved the sports media business since I started listening to Mike & the Mad Dog on WFAN and watching SportsCenter on ESPN. I was fortunate to live and work in a number of cities over the past two decades, learning how different companies and people operate, and I remain involved today thru my work with BSM. I mention this because I also know media people. They tend to wait until the last minute to book hotel rooms, airfare, and purchase tickets, even if they can save money by acting sooner. I know, I used to do it too. I can’t control when you book your room or plane ticket, but I do want to give you an added incentive to buy your ticket to this year’s show. Seating is limited, and once the last seat is filled, that’s it. We can’t make extra room.

With that in mind, most of you are either taking today off or working inside a much quieter building. If you’ve thought about coming to the Summit, take 5-10 minutes to log on to BSMSummit.com to take advantage of our special Black Friday sale. We’ve reduced tickets for the day, so whether you’re planning to attend in NYC or watch the conference online, there’s a discount to help you out. Just $199.99 for live tickets, and $124.99 for virtual.

BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets expires at 11:59pm tonight. In the meantime, Hotel Edison in NYC is offering rooms for just $109 + taxes to Summit attendees. Click here to take advantage of the special room rate we’ve secured for this year’s show. Those of you planning to fly to NYC for the show, there have been a ton of great deals offered by American, Southwest, United, JetBlue and Frontier. It might be worth checking into today since Black Friday often has even better sales on travel.

If you’re interested in learning more about the industry, staying a step ahead, forming new relationships, strengthening existing ones, exploring potential business deals, and celebrating the business you’re in, I hope you’ll join us either online or in New York City for the 2022 BSM Summit. I’m making it easier on you, by offering lower ticket prices today. The rest is up to you!

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Barrett Blogs

Craig Carton, Fred Toucher, Mike Felger To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit

“Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.”

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When you talk to industry people about successful brands in sports talk radio, most conversations include WFAN and 98.5 The Sports Hub. The New York and Boston sports radio brands are consistently recognized for their ability to deliver large audiences and revenues.

Helping to create that success is a mixture of strong play by play partnerships, skilled programmers and even more importantly, some of the most dynamic on-air personalities in the format. Fortunately for us, a few of those gamechangers will be present to share their opinions and insights on content matters in New York City at the 2022 BSM Summit.

Starting in New York, it’s an honor to welcome WFAN afternoon drive host Craig Carton to the 2022 BSM Summit. Heard daily on ‘Carton and Roberts‘ alongside Evan Roberts, which is also featured on TV on SNY, Carton has made his presence felt ever since returning to the airwaves in November 2020. Prior to taking on the challenge in afternoons, Craig spent a decade partnering with Boomer Esiason on ‘Boomer and Carton‘, forming one of the most successful sports radio morning shows in the country. In addition to enjoying success in New York, Craig has also experienced the ups and downs that come with performing in different markets. His radio travels have taken him to Philadelphia, Denver, Buffalo and Trenton, NJ. The Syracuse graduate and outspoken host is expected to join BSM President Jason Barrett for a one on one conversation at this year’s Summit.

Shipping up to Boston, it’s a pleasure to welcome two of the format’s highest rated performers to New York City. They’re heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub in morning and afternoon drive, and at the Summit, they’ll interact together during an in-depth content conversation with BSM President Jason Barrett.

Fred Toucher is one half of the Sports Hub’s popular morning show ‘Toucher & Rich‘, which recently added syndication. The Detroit native started his career in Georgia before moving to Boston in 2005. Toucher & Rich, which includes Rich Shertenlieb, officially moved into the sports talk format in 2009. Since making the format switch, the duo have consistently produced some of the best ratings in the entire format in mornings during the past fifteen years. Toucher & Rich have also been recognized by industry executives as one of the top two morning shows in the format each of the past three years in the BSM Top 20, including taking top honors in 2018.

Mike Felger on the other hand is heard on the ride home alongside Tony Massarotti on The Sports Hub. The Marconi Award-winning afternoon radio show has been a fixture in Boston since the station’s inception in 2009. During the past twelve years, Felger & Mazz have been a steady force atop the Men 25-54 ratings including recently delivering an impressive 18.9 share in the summer book to finish 1st. The Milwaukee native also hosts a show for NBC Boston, and has previously served as a columnist for the Boston Globe. Similar to Toucher & Rich, Felger & Mazz have earned high praise from format execs in the BSM Top 20. They’ve been voted one of the top 2 afternoon shows each of the past 2 years including grabbing the top spot in 2019.

We’re excited to add all three of these men to the lineup for the 2022 BSM Summit. As vital as it may be to spend time on business issues in order to stay ahead of a rapidly changing media climate, without great talent and content, the rest is irrelevant. Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.

To reserve your hotel room, purchase tickets or learn more about the speakers we’ve lined up for the 2022 show, visit BSMSummit.com. We hope to see you online or in New York City this March.

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Barrett Blogs

BSM Summit Adds Borrell, Crain, Cutler, Goldstein, Scott, Shapiro & Thomas

“The Summit is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited.”

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The 2022 BSM Summit continues to add firepower to the sports media industry’s premier conference. After previously announcing the first twenty one participants to take part in March’s event in New York City, another seven talented media professionals have been added to the speaker schedule.

Making his BSM Summit debut in 2022 will be the media industry’s leading business analyst Gordon Borrell. The well respected and accomplished CEO of Borrell Associates is featured frequently in the trades and mainstream publications for his insights on advertising trends and forecasts in local media. Borrell will join Amplifi Media CEO Steven Goldstein on stage at the Summit for an in-depth discussion on the advertising climate in 2022. The two men will offer insights and opinions on what advertisers value most, where they’re expected to invest future dollars, which categories will continue to rise and decline, and what brands can do to position themselves better to increase revenue. Additionally, Borrell will be hosting his local advertising conference in Miami a few days after the Summit. Those interested in heading to South Beach and learning more about the marketing world can learn more by clicking here.

Switching to the content end, the Summit is thrilled to welcome The Volume’s Jake Crain to New York City. The host of The JBoy Show will also be making his debut at the conference. Crain will be part of a talent panel along with John Jastremski and Kazeem Famuyide.

Also making his debut at the Summit will be Carl Scott. Meadowlark Media’s Executive Director of Audio will join our podcasting panel featuring Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones and The Volume’s Head of Content Logan Swaim. Hubbard Radio’s Digital Content Director Phil Mackey will guide the conversation.

Not everyone participating at the Summit will be new to the audience though. Returning to the stage as part of our GM’s discussion will be newly appointed Audacy Boston Market Manager Mike Thomas. Thomas recently led ESPN 1000 in Chicago as the station’s GM after working with Mark Hannon to turn 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston into one of sports radio’s top performing stations. It should be noted that each time Thomas appears at the Summit it follows a recent promotion. We figure by 2023 or 2024 he’ll be running the entire industry.

A Summit isn’t complete without attention given to programming matters. To help us address some of those key issues, we’re excited to welcome back the Vice President of FOX Sports Radio & Podcasts Scott Shapiro. The passionate network executive who oversees many of the nation’s top national programs is always a great listen for folks interested in learning how programmer’s view and tackle the industry’s most important affairs.

Last but certainly not least, voice talent extraordinaire Jim Cutler will return to the stage to lead a session on storytelling. One of the industry’s prominent station voices and creative minds has a penchant for putting on entertaining and informative sessions. If you’ve attended the conference before, you’re already aware. To those planning to catch this one, you’re in for a treat.

Keep an eye out over the next two weeks. We’ll be making additional announcements involving a few high profile talents we’ve lined up for the 2022 BSM Summit. A reminder, the event is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited. I realize some folks may prefer to wait until the last minute to make sure the world is safe. If you’re not comfortable flying to NY for the show, we do have an option in place to enjoy the conference virtually thanks to NuVoodoo Media. For more information on tickets, click here.

That said, the in-person environment is excellent. If you haven’t attended the Summit before I think you’ll find the two days in New York City to be time well spent. This conference is not open to the general public. You must either presently work in an area of the media industry or be pursuing a degree in the broadcasting field.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we still have some sponsorship opportunities available for the show. We’re thrilled to have the support of great partners, ESPN Radio, Premiere Networks, FOX Sports Radio, Stone Voiceovers, Compass Media Networks, Point to Point Marketing, and Core Image Studio. If you’d like to be part of the event too, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com for additional details.

One final note, airfare is low right now. There are roundtrip flights to and from New York from many major cities for less than $200.00. We’ve also secured a low hotel rate of $109.00 per night at Hotel Edison in NYC to help companies and individuals keep costs down. The sports media industry has endured two years of difficulty due to the pandemic, preventing many from networking, learning, celebrating, and growing. The two days we spend together in the big apple won’t solve every issue facing our business, but I promise you’ll leave the show more informed, more connected, and better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Hope to see you in New York on March 2nd and 3rd.

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