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The Producer and Host Relationship

Jason Barrett

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I’m a fan of a variety of music and one group who’s style I’ve grown fond of the past 7-8 years is the heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold. Initially the band’s earlier songs lacked flow from start to finish. They’d feature some excellent riffs, lyrics and instrumental parts but when the songs were completed they felt like they were missing something. I could tell the band’s talent was there but they hadn’t figured out how to put it all together.

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As the years passed, I’ve noticed how the group has matured and become more focused and serious about the song writing process. Their songs now sound well organized and have a much stronger flow and the lyrics and melodies have become much stronger. Coincidentally they’re selling more records now than they ever have before.

Now you’re probably thinking “what the heck does that have to do with sports talk radio” and actually there’s a specific reason why I’m bringing it up. Make sure to read the question and answer exchange at top of the article. In it you’ll notice some of the feedback from Guitarist Zacky Vengeance who talked to Revolver Magazine about the involvement of a producer in the band’s music making process.

closedThis is important because it’s no different than what occurs in radio. In this case, the “talent” went in with a closed mind and initially rejected the idea of coaching and constructive criticism, only to discover later that when they embraced it, they made better music. When people collaborate and keep an open mind to the content creation process, more times than not the result is better than when one tries to go it alone.

I’m not pointing this out so you’ll enter your building tomorrow and give your producer a big hug and tell them you’ll listen to them in the future. Doing that and changing your approach isn’t going to unlock some magical formula that is going to assure you of having a kick ass show that dominates in the ratings.

bradyjoshInstead I’m bringing it up to illustrate the value in having a strong producer involved in the daily process. In many cases, this individual is another supporter and believer in your abilities and they’re willing to be honest, candid and helpful to seeing you reach your full potential as a personality.

One thing that always stands out to me is how similar the responses are when I talk to different talent about how they measure their growth or improvement. Most will say stuff like “we chat as a show about what we thought worked and that determines if we’re making progress or not“, “the ratings tell us if what we’re doing is working” and my personal favorite “you can feel when it’s good or when it isn’t“.

gameplanWhile there’s some validity to those responses, how can anyone truly show performance improvement if these are the ways talent go through the improvement and coaching process? If I asked you as a host to show me a clear difference of something you’ve worked on and improved upon over the past 90 days could you do it? Maybe some could but I guarantee most couldn’t.

Call me old fashioned but I still believe there is an art to creating great radio and it starts with preparation, shared vision and a game plan to track success. If those things aren’t in place or don’t matter and regular feedback isn’t provided, then how can you tell if you’re any better or different than from when you first spoke to an audience on a microphone? Aside from a possible voice change or different PD opinion, you’re going to be hard pressed to prove you’ve grown as a broadcaster.

Think for a second about professional sports and how it relates to this situation. I’ll use Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw as my examples since they’re both at the top of their games. Each spends a few hours watching video to study their own performances as well as their opponents tendencies and they’ll seek out further opinion from their managers, coaches and fellow teammates in order to make sure they’re set up to have success. Why do they do it? To get better and help their teams win.

excusesThese guys spend 9-10 hours per day at their jobs, they travel constantly and juggle media, fans and sponsor requests plus find time to sleep, spend time with their families, work out and do some things to take their mind off the game. Still they find time to evaluate their work and the competition. Oh and they do this while making millions! They’ve got plenty of excuses to be lazy but they don’t use them because they’re focused on always getting better.

Sports isn’t the only industry that’s relatable. Let’s use an example from the movie business. Leonardo DiCaprio makes millions to shoot a movie and I’m sure some directors would probably just let him walk into a room and say “do whatever you want and we’ll film it and make it great” but instead a guy like DiCaprio seeks out top notch directors like Martin Scorsese who are going to challenge him and cast him in roles that help him be his very best. There’s obviously a respect and trust between director and actor and due to that connection, the product on the screen is usually strong and movie fanatics show their appreciation by filling up theatres to watch their work.

Most radio talent have more time available, less distractions and a lot less money than a professional athlete or film star yet most don’t make time to assess how they’re performing, what they’re going to do to get better going forward and how they’re going to measure it. Some personalities never listen back to their work or embrace hearing what’s less than stellar on the show and it baffles me because if you’re not willing to hear honesty from those who care and appreciate your talents then how do you expect to grow?

This is why I chose today to focus on the producer-talent relationship. If a show truly wants to grow and find its groove, it starts with those two individuals and then it extends to the Program Director. No full-time show tandem spends more time together than Host-Producer so if that combination isn’t clicking, the rest of the product can be in big trouble.

Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, Darrell BevellThose who have worked for me have heard me use this following example. Inside any radio station, I see the Program Director as the Head Coach, the Producer as the Offensive Coordinator and the On-Air talent as the Quarterback. We must all to agree on what style of offense we’re going to play before we hit the field but once we’re out there, we need to trust our training, work together on the game plan and respect, understand and utilize what each other does so we can have individual and team success.

respectIf you’re a producer and you think you’re going to instruct your talent to “do as they’re told“, good luck getting anything done. They’re the star the audience is paying to see and you need to respect that, appreciate it and remember it. You can put things down on paper and beat someone up for every small detail that gets missed but if you don’t enjoy the wins and remind your on-air talent of when they do something outstanding, you’ll never get the full support you’re seeking.

Some producers think that doing a talk show is easy and formatics should never be missed but that’s not realistic. That’s like expecting Peyton Manning to never throw an interception. Clearly he has the talent to make every throw on the field and his intention isn’t to make a mistake but people are human and they screw up sometimes.

radiostudioI remember meeting once in St. Louis with a group of producers and when I raised the question of why we weren’t supplying our talent with more information to further support their opinions on the air, I was told that it required a lot more work and the talk show hosts were paid a lot to know to sports so they should know it all.

I then asked the group “can you remember the 5-6 bullet points to one of your topics from earlier today“? After being told they could, I took a group of producers down the hall to a production studio, turned on a microphone and had them each try to do a 10-minute segment recalling what they thought they remembered from earlier that day. Not one lasted 2 minutes.

The purpose of the exercise wasn’t to demonstrate that they couldn’t host a show like a personality could, it was to make them aware of just how tough it is to remember everything inside your head. When you have the benefit of information in front of you on paper or on a screen and when you know you have someone in your corner who’s trying to give you details to help you along, you’re going to be more likely to place your faith in them. If the producer maintained the initial mindset that existed when we first entered that meeting, the talent would have lost respect, trust and interest in working with him in the future.

What people off the air sometimes lose sight of is that doing a 3-4 hour radio show 5 days per week and being entertaining, compelling and interesting to an audience is very hard! Even the best in the business have off-days and off-segments. The challenge is getting your people past those bumps in the road and not letting it become a consistent issue.

stinkOn the other hand, if you’re a talent, you need to be cognizant of the fact that your shit does stink some time and the one who’s going to tell you, is the person who’s in your corner the most, your producer. If you really care about being great, then you have to be open minded to feedback and criticism. It comes with the territory. If Peyton Manning can face millions of people after an off-day in the Super Bowl, then you should be able to handle some dialogue with your producer.

Most producer’s have good intentions and want to earn the trust and respect of their hosts. If they’re being hard on a host for breaking late, blowing off a tease or asking bad questions during an interview, they’re doing it because they know the host can do better and they want to help that person reach their full potential. They take pride in the show just like the host does and they want to see their hard work pay off in the eyes of the audience, their peers and their bosses.

officespaceOne misconception I’ve seen and heard too many times in multiple markets from a number of hosts is what they believe a producer’s job is. Many think the job is to book 2-3 guests, print a few stories off the internet, answer the phones, grab coffee and stay out of the way. That is not a producer. That is called a “yes man”. You can break it into other parts too such as “booker”, “information gatherer”, “call screener”, “runner”, etc.

A producer is going to work with you to “produce” content and shape the vision for the show and do everything in their power to see that the vision becomes a reality. They’re not there to sit back and wonder where the show is going or why it’s going there. Having a plan and an agreed upon destination that both people are aware of shouldn’t require pulling teeth.

If someone is working on a show with you and they’re not challenging you on where things are going or asking to be more involved with the layout then that’s when you should be concerned as a host. Anyone who cares about the program and helping you deliver a great product is going to want to work with you on the show’s creation. They’re also going to look for ways to add to the presentation while the show is in progress because having an idea of what’s going to take place fosters more creativity.

stevejobsFor those who produce shows, think of the way you approach your show each day and ask yourself “what’s the one thing I’ve worked on with my host in the past 30-60 days to make them better“? If you can’t identify it, then it’s something you’re going to want to work on.

Maybe you’re waiting for the feedback to come from the mouth or email of your PD but if you want the respect of your talent, then you can lead the charge too when you hear an opportunity for something to improve. If the only time you speak up to offer advice is when the PD is present, how do you expect the host to trust your evaluation of their work?

If you’ve thought about the areas where your personality can improve but haven’t been able to come up with a plan for how to make it better that’s ok. In that case, talk to your PD and let them know what you think could be tighter on the show and give some examples to support your beliefs. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it and then work with you to come up with a strategy for how to measure improvement.

nielsenI’ll wrap this piece up with this, if your future earning potential and length of stay at your current place of work was measured on your ratings growth or being able to demonstrate improvement in what you’re doing, what would you put your faith in? One system is flawed and out of your control, the other is in your hands and only takes your commitment, creating a detailed plan and holding yourself accountable.

If you produce a show, listen to it closer and think of the places inside of it where you can help. If you’re on the air, think of the advantage you have by having a trusted colleague working next to you to help you create a great show. In some markets, personalities are producing their own shows and I know a few who have also had to host while producing and running their own board. That’s not fun but neither is the flip side, paying for great support, only to have the host not value it or utilize it.

measuregrowthHere’s a challenge for you. Host/Producer, identify one thing you both agree could be better on the show and spend the next 30 days trying to make it better. Whether it’s your teases going to break, resetting the show during segments, improving the pace of the show, shortening your interviews or diving into content faster at the start of segments. There are a ton of other possibilities too but that gives you some things to get started.

Pull some audio to show how it sounds when it works or fails and come up with a game plan for what you’re going to do differently to make it better. Step back in 30 days to see where you’re at and continue the dialogue with one another to keep finding ways to make the show feel better and more fulfilling.

mjjaxLet’s be honest, you wouldn’t be in your position if you didn’t have ability to do the job. However, a lot of people have talent and those who push themselves to continue improving go further. Great ones like Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter didn’t need to be told to accept coaching, work with their teammates or find ways to measure and improve their performances regularly, they did it because they wanted to be the best at what they did.

If they could do it then there’s no reason you can’t. Measuring your improvement isn’t difficult and it’s not a bad place to start when showing your bosses why you’re worth a larger investment down the road. Then again, if you don’t want to go that way, you can always put your fate in the hands of the Nielsen gods. Please be sure to let me know how that turns out for you.

Barrett Blogs

Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, Don Martin, Sam Pines and Amanda Brown to Speak at the 2023 BSM Summit

“All six of these media professionals have enjoyed success throughout their careers and bring different perspectives, styles, and experiences to the room.”

Jason Barrett

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I announced last week that the 2023 BSM Summit will be returning to Los Angeles. We had a fantastic experience in LA in 2019, and I expect our next conference on March 21-22, 2023 to be even bigger and better. But to do that, we need the right people on stage, and I’m excited today to reveal the first six additions to the show.

The 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles is proud to welcome FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports 1 host Colin Cowherd, FOX Sports 1 co-host of the new weekday program SPEAK, Joy Taylor, CBS Sports Radio and CBS Sports Network superstar Jim Rome, FOX Sports Radio and iHeart Sports SVP of Programming, Don Martin, and the brain trust of ESPN LA 710, Senior Vice President Sam Pines and program director Amanda Brown.

All six of these media professionals have enjoyed success throughout their careers. They bring different perspectives, styles, and experiences to the room, and I’m sure those in attendance at The Founders Club at the Galen Center at USC will enjoy and appreciate learning from them.

We will have more announcements in the future about additional speakers to the 2023 BSM Summit. A reminder that if you work in the media industry and would like to attend the conference, you can purchase tickets and secure your hotel room by visiting BSMSummit.com.

I’d also like to thank last year’s sponsors who have already confirmed participation in our 2023 event. The Summit isn’t possible without their support. For folks interested in sponsorship details for the conference, please email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now here’s some press information about each of our six participants.

Colin Cowherd: He is one of the most thought-provoking and successful sports talk show hosts in the country, and has been a key part of FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports 1 since September 2015. He is also the founder of The Volume, a digital-first sports media brand which has created an immediate impact in podcasting and on YouTube.

Cowherd’s three-hour sports talk program, THE HERD WITH COLIN COWHERD, airs simultaneously on FS1 and the FOX Sports Radio Network weekdays from Noon to 3pm ET. It is also available on www.FOXSportsRadio.comwww.FOXSports.com and has a dedicated iHeartRadio station, available live and throughout the day. The Herd has been chosen by industry programmers and executives as the top national sports talk radio show an unprecedented six times in seven years as part of BSM’s annual Top 20 series.

Jim Rome: Jim Rome is heard nationwide hosting ‘The Jim Rome Show‘ weekdays from Noon to 3pm ET on CBS Sports Radio. The program can also be watched on the CBS Sports Network. The show delivers three hours of aggressive, informed sports opinions, rapid-fire dialogue, tons of sports smack, and is consistently supported by Rome’s legions of fans otherwise known as the clones.

Rome also delivers his unique take on the day’s sports headlines via the CBS Sports Minute, 60-second commentaries which can be heard hourly on CBS Sports Radio affiliate stations. He also hosts his own podcast, The Reinvention Project, contributes to CBS Sports television, and has previously been seen on ESPN, FOX Sports, and in numerous movies and TV shows.

Joy Taylor: Joy Taylor co-hosts FS1’s new weekday program SPEAK alongside Emmanuel Acho and former NFL running back LeSean McCoy. She has previously worked as a co-host on THE HERD, as the moderator of SKIP AND SHANNON: UNDISPUTED, and as the host of her own podcast, “Maybe I’m Crazy”. She has also hosted programs for FOX Sports Radio.

Prior to joining FOX Sports, Taylor spent five years in Miami radio, including a successful three-year stint at 790 AM The Ticket, where she was co-host for the station’s top-rated morning-drive program, “Zaslow and Joy Show,” after starting with the station as the show’s executive producer. Taylor also served as the host of “Thursday Night Live” and “Fantasy Football Today” on CBSSports.com. She is a Pittsburgh native and the younger sister of former Miami Dolphins star Jason Taylor.

Don Martin: A 27-year veteran of iHeartMedia, Don is currently the SVP of Programming for FOX Sports Radio, the EVP for iHeartMedia Sports, and the SVP of KLAC-AM 570 LA Sports. Additionally, he provides oversight of the iHeartPodcast Network, which includes more than 40 national and 100 local sports podcasts and exclusive podcast agreements with the NFL and NBA. Don has been a featured speaker at prior BSM Summit’s and was recently a guest on The Jason Barrett Podcast. To hear it, click here.

Sam Pines: A fixture with Good Karma Brands since 2000, Pines is now charged with leading ESPN LA 710 since GKB assumed control of local operations. Prior to taking over the Los Angeles sports brand, Pines served as the GM and Sales Manager of ESPN Cleveland from 2006-2022. He has written a sales and leadership series, “Time to Win”, which focuses on coaching relationship-based selling and marketing, and is also involved with numerous boards and nonprofits.

Amanda Brown: Amanda has spent her entire twenty year career in sports radio working for the worldwide leader in sports. Currently responsible for creating and implementing the programming strategy for ESPN LA 710, Amanda has enjoyed nearly twelve years with the LA based brand after spending nearly six years in Bristol, CT producing national shows for the ESPN Radio network. Her career started behind the scenes in Dallas, TX where she worked as a producer at ESPN 103.3.

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Barrett Blogs

7 Years of BSM and The Official Announcement For The 2023 BSM Summit

“Fast forward to now, and where this thing has advanced to is far beyond my expectations.”

Jason Barrett

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Apologies in advance if some of this column feels like I’m giving myself and our brand a pat on the back. I am. When this company launched, many assumed I was just writing a few articles and biding my time until another programming job popped up. I had a number of friends say ‘there’s no future in sports radio consulting‘ and after putting my programming career in the rear view mirror to go home to NY, I wasn’t sure what was in store for me.

What I did know is that my interest in doing the same thing that I just did for the past decade in three different cities was gone, but my interest in working with brands and individuals was still very much alive. I loved creating and programming 95.7 The Game but my choice to come home was driven by personal reasons, not professional. I wrote in great detail about it back in February 2015 so if you’re not aware of my story and want to know more, click the link.

Some of you do know these details already so I’m not going to repeat myself. I also don’t like talking on this website about personal issues because that’s not what brings us together each day. Media news, insight, and opinion does. But when this day rolls around each year, I hope you can understand why I take a moment to celebrate it. I moved home with no job, no plan, and no business but 7 years later, here we are are still ticking.

Launching this company has been the best professional decision I’ve ever made. Erika Nardini just had this conversation recently with Mark Cuban and he said taking a leap when you have nothing is the best time to do so. As crazy as that sounds, he couldn’t have been more right. That said, it’s pretty humbling going from successfully managing a top 4 market brand and earning six figures to being unemployed with no income and not being sure what you want to do. There were many days where I wondered ‘what was this all for?’. I hadn’t been without a job for a long time but I didn’t want to rush into something I wasn’t excited about especially since I knew I had to take care of my son and wanted to set a good example for him.

When I announced I was leaving San Francisco, I said I’d consider staying with the company if a position could be created that would allow me to work from NY and travel to help brands. Entercom back then wasn’t as big as Audacy is now, so that wasn’t an option. That led to small talk about consulting but quite frankly, I had no interest in doing that. I thought consulting was something folks did at the end of their careers or others used as a temporary excuse to explain what they were up to after leaving a job. I was 41 at the time and felt I had two decades left to give to the business, and if I was going to go down that road, I’d do it differently.

As I began to clear my head and think about what was next, I decided I was going to create the position that Entercom didn’t have available except rather than being exclusive to one group, I’d be accessible to all of them. I wanted to make a difference in multiple cities and expand my reach beyond radio. Now I work with brands involved in radio, TV, podcasting, social media, sales, sports betting, etc..

I’m also very entrepreneurial, so the idea of building a digital company that focused on covering the sports media business had great appeal to me. I built my radio career by doing everything early on and saw that as an advantage. Back in 2015, there were outlets covering the radio business, but none dedicated to sports radio. Even the newspapers that wrote about sports TV and other media issues, often examined them with folks who hadn’t been on the inside for quite some time. I had recent experiences programming brands in three different parts of the country, I learned how to build a website, I didn’t mind selling myself, and I wasn’t restricted from writing and sharing my honest and candid opinions. That helped me give BSM life and a voice. I also had one other advantage. I was talking weekly with industry people, going to different cities to work with multiple groups and seeing up close why certain things worked and others didn’t. That helped me tell better stories, build deeper relationships, and assist clients with greater knowledge.

Fast forward to now, and where this thing has advanced to is far beyond my expectations. I’ve been presented with opportunities to work with groups I never expected. I’ve had people reach out to present opportunities, including purchasing the company, that others would be shocked were considered (Btw I’m not looking to sell). Our brand now generates hundreds of thousands in traffic per month thanks to an exceptional team of 20 writers which produces 35-40 pieces of content per day on the sports and news media industry. In fact, August was our best month of traffic this year. We were up 30% year over year. We create 5 podcasts per week, distribute multiple newsletters, consult a strong amount of media brands, sell and work with advertising partners to help grow their businesses, deliver content through social media channels that are followed by thousands of people, and host an annual conference, which is well attended and supported by industry professionals and broadcast companies.

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Which brings me to the next part of this column – the 2023 BSM Summit.

After hosting our last two shows in New York City, I told all in attendance that our next event would return to the west coast. Finding the right city and venue takes time, and this one was tough because there were great options in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but after reviewing the possibilities, I’m thrilled to share that the 2023 BSM Summit will take place in Los Angeles, California at The Founders Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California. The dates will be Tuesday March 21st and Wednesday March 22nd (we didn’t want to do dates that conflicted with the NCAA Tournament). Show time both days will once again be 9a-5p PT.

I couldn’t be happier with this location. The space we have to work with is fantastic, the people involved with USC have been great, and to bring a room full of sports media professionals to the USC campus will be awesome. We’ve also partnered with the USC Hotel which is within walking distance of our venue. Room rates and ticket prices for the Summit can now be found on BSMSummit.com.

I know everyone will start texting, emailing, calling, and DM’ing to ask about tickets, speakers, sponsorships, the after-party and awards show, etc.. I’ll have follow up announcements coming soon about the first few speakers we’ve lined up. Most people attended the 2022 show live, but some checked out the show virtually too. I’m not sure yet if we’re going to make this one available virtually. If we do, we’ll announce it on the site at a later time. Like anything, if enough people want it we’ll find a way to get it done. In the meantime, Stephanie Eads is setting up conversations with former and future conference partners so if you have a sponsorship question, hit her up by email at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

One thing I do want to ask of those who are planning to attend the Summit, email me to let me know what you’re interested in learning about at the show. We’ve been blessed to have some incredibly smart, successful people in the room, but as cool as that may be, I want to make sure folks return to their buildings afterwards with information to improve their operations. This only works if you take the knowledge and use it to help your brands and people. If anything in particular is of interest, please let me know by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

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As I look ahead to year 8, I’m extremely bullish on continuing our momentum on the sports media side. We’ve just added Eddie Moran as a new features writer, and if it makes business sense to add more writers or create additional podcasts down the line, we’ll examine those opportunities as they arise. A few years ago it was just Demetri and I running the day to day business. Now we have Stephanie, Andy, Garrett Searight, Arky Shea, Alex Reynolds, and Eduardo Razo involved, and though having a larger staff doesn’t guarantee success, I like how we’re positioned. If anything, our focus now is on doing impactful work not busy work. As much as I’d love to keep everyone and never stop adding, running a business effectively requires regularly examining what is and isn’t working. Having people involved who are passionate and consistently reliable is vital. If they can’t be then it means the fit isn’t right.

Having said that, I believe we can always get better. As we move ahead, I’m counting on my team to find and create more original content, strengthen and increase relationships, gain a stronger grasp of SEO, and collectively, we’ll work on improving our digital marketing to promote our content and develop better affiliate partnerships. One way the industry can help us in return, let us know when you create something on-air that might fit the site. Most of what we gather comes from finding it ourselves yet content gets created daily on sports TV and radio. We’re not going to write stories about sports opinions but if it’s media-centric, a heads up helps. So too does sharing our content on social media.

Though BSM is an integral part of our company’s future growth, I am equally as bullish on building Barrett News Media. We started BNM on September 14, 2020 and our first year was slow. We needed to dip our toe in rather than dive in head first, but over the past 9 months we’ve increased our relationships and our readers are now starting to see what we’re capable of. We’ve assembled a strong cast of news writers, reporters, and columnists, and just added to our team last week with the addition of Joe Salzone. Adding writers and consulting clients remains an ongoing process, and make no mistake about this, I want to help news/talk stations just as I have helped sports brands. Maybe down the line we’ll add a few news media podcasts too, but we have other things to focus on first.

For starters, if you’ve read this website over the years then you’re likely familiar with the BSM Top 20. It’s a series we produce recognizing the best in the sports media industry. It’s voted on by a large number of sports radio programmers and executives, and for 6 years in a row it has been our website’s largest traffic driver. I thought previously about doing a series for the news media industry, but because we had less help, little time, and an unfamiliar brand, I held off.

But that’s about to change.

Later this year, we will introduce the very first BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will include voting participation from news media programmers and executives, with the goal being to showcase the best national radio shows and podcasts, and the top local stations, shows, and PD’s from both the major and mid markets.

It will be a giant undertaking but it’s long overdue for our brand. Though I’m sure the process will be exhausting, I’m looking forward to sharing the results and shining a brighter light on the news/talk media business. When I’m ready to announce the dates and schedule for the series, we’ll reveal it here on the site and across our BNM social media channels. Stay tuned.

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As I bring this column to an end, I’ll end by sharing a few things that have surprised me over the years. First, I’m seeing less interest the past 3 years from younger people becoming programmers than I did between 2015-2019. Is that because of the pandemic? The rise of sports gambling? A lack of confidence in the radio industry? As someone who’s helped 15-20 brands find and hire brand leaders, and talks to more people than most, that’s concerning.

I think sports radio also needs to do a better job of grooming people for these roles and showing them a path to long-term success. PD’s should be more actively championing their people for growth too than they do. If you value someone and want to see him or her reap the rewards for their hard work, you have to look beyond how it’ll affect your day to day duties. Focus on the big picture, not just what makes your life easier.

What should concern executives is the fact that in the past five years, sports radio has lost Armen Williams, Jeremiah Crowe, Joe Zarbano, Adam Delevitt, Tony DiGiacomo, Terry Foxx, Brad Willis, Chris Baker, Tom Parker, Jay Taylor, Kyle Engelhart, Hoss Neupert, and John Hanson. I’m sure I’m missing a few too. That’s a lot of programming experience out the door including some with decades left to give to the industry. Maybe some weren’t built for the job long-term or others were kicking down the door and ready to lead but in most businesses, if you saw that type of change in key management roles, you’d be questioning if it’s an industry you want to be a part of. If the veterans don’t stay or become too expensive, and the leaders of tomorrow aren’t sticking around, where does that leave us?

From the talent end, how are you helping yourself when there isn’t a job to chase? If the only time you contact a PD is to ask about a gig, don’t be surprised when your calls go straight to voicemail. Relationships are a two-way street. Build them when there’s nothing to be gained and you’ll be amazed at how it pays off later. By the way, that goes for me too. I get asked by a lot of people to find time when there’s trouble in paradise but when life is good, crickets. Those who keep in touch and support BSM/BNM whether that’s through a monthly membership or buying a Summit ticket have more success getting a hold of me. I’m not trying to be a hard ass but I’m not an agent, so building your career isn’t my priority. Taking care of my family and business partners is. However, I do help people and make time for many, but it’s got to work both ways. My members and clients know they can ask for something and receive an answer. Others I’ve built and maintained relationships with receive the same. But if you’re counting on me to help you find work and gossip about the business with you, I’m not your guy.

If there’s been a winner the past 7 years it’s been the growth of sports betting. As other categories have produced less, sports betting has emerged as an important growth driver for the sports format. And this has happened with most of the country not even legal yet. As more states give the green light to legalize sports gambling, revenues and content opportunities should follow. We will likely reach a point where consolidation comes into play and certain brands and companies overload their content in a way that makes them insufferable to listen to but for every few setbacks there are far greater reasons to be optimistic. In the past 7 years we’ve seen Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and YouTube become big players in sports television. Might FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, Fanatics, Barstool and others do the same in the sports media space? That’s going to be an interesting follow for sure.

Knowing how everything can change in an instant, I take nothing for granted with BSM and BNM. This could all end tomorrow, and if it did, I’d look back on it as the best days of my professional life. I want to keep growing as a professional, while remaining an asset to my current partners, and finding ways to work with new brands and companies in both sports and news media. I’m also enjoying hosting a podcast again, and if you haven’t checked out The Jason Barrett Podcast, the latest episode with Colin Cowherd is a good one to start with.

The future for sports and news media may change but both will remain viable and important. I love that we’ve been able to be a small part of this business each day for the past 7 years, and I hope to make the next 7 years as fulfilling as the past 7. If I’m able to do that, it’ll mean the 20 years I spent in studios were needed to make a nationwide impact from a home office.

So on behalf of our entire team, past and present, thank you for reading the twenty thousand pieces of content we’ve produced since 2015. None of this is possible without an army of BSM/BNM supporters. I hope to see you in Los Angeles this March for the 2023 BSM Summit.

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The Podcast Movement Conference Made a Mistake Rejecting Ben Shapiro

“If this is a conference about podcasting, and you have someone in attendance who excels at it, has a massive following, and their company is supporting your event as a sponsor, why are you treating them like a disease?”

Jason Barrett

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I’ve had the pleasure of attending multiple Podcast Movement Conferences over the years. Those involved in putting the event together do a fantastic job creating an action packed agenda full of accomplished speakers, and the visual displays and access to different brands and industry professionals have always been nothing but positive. It’s why I was disappointed this year when my schedule didn’t allow for me to make the trip to Dallas.

So imagine my surprise late last week when I learned the conference took a stance against Westwood One radio host and co-founder of The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro

Shapiro’s company was a sponsor of this year’s show, and according to reports, the well known podcaster and radio host wasn’t registered for the event. He made a brief appearance at his company’s booth, shaking hands and taking photos with fans who stopped by to say hi, and his mere presence at the show led to some protesting his involvement on social media.

After learning Shapiro had stopped by, the Podcast Movement Conference posted a series of tweets which said “Hi folks, we owe you an apology before sessions kick off for the day. Yesterday afternoon, Ben Shapiro briefly visited the PM22 expo area near The Daily Wire booth. Though he was not registered or expected, we take full responsibility for the harm done by his presence.”

The conference added, “Those of you who called this “unacceptable” are right. In 9 wonderful years growing and celebrating this medium, PM has made mistakes. The pain caused by this one will always stick with us. We promise that sponsors will be more carefully considered moving forward. No TDW representatives were scheduled to appear on panels, and Shapiro remained in the common space and did not have a badge. If you have questions, we’re here to talk. Thank you for reading, and we hope you’ll continue to join us from here on out.”

A quick search shows that Shapiro has one of the top performing podcasts on the charts. According to Westwood One, it is downloaded over fifteen million times per month. In addition, his radio program is carried on hundreds of radio stations, he has 13 million followers combined between Facebook and Twitter, and his company, The Daily Wire, adds another 5.5 million supporters to the mix. They also showed they were supportive of the conference by making a financial commitment to sponsor a booth.

Having explained all of that I was stunned that the Podcast Movement Conference took this position. Let me be clear, it was a mistake. Their stance has led to a flood of negative attention over the past 72 hours, and it all could’ve easily been avoided. Though their next event is still a year away, given how much attention this story has received, it could have a carry over effect on future sponsorships and attendance. Only time will tell.

As someone who runs an annual conference, albeit much smaller, I know how hard it is to put an event together. What the Podcast Movement organizers put together each year requires a herculean effort, which is why I’m baffled that they picked sides in this situation. The media industry is large and full of people, brands and companies with different views and approaches to business and everyday life. The second you start judging and making decisions based on personal beliefs and/or social media activity, you’re in trouble.

I’ve long maintained that if someone works in the sports media industry and wishes to learn and share information to help improve the business, they’re welcome at our BSM Summit. We make changes to our schedule each year based on what we feel is topical for the attendees but we don’t discriminate, support one brand over another or allow personal views to dictate if someone can or can’t be present.

Case in point, at our March conference, I had a few people privately upset that I asked Craig Carton to speak. Craig’s prior arrest and time served in jail is well documented. First, I have a ton of respect for what Craig has accomplished, and I believe in second chances, but personal views aside, he’s the afternoon host in the nation’s largest market working for WFAN, a top rated sports radio brand. History has shown that he’s damn good and successful, and more than qualified to speak on the subjects we cover at our event. When a few folks expressed their displeasure with my decision I told them ‘If you’re not a fan of Craig, don’t attend that session. If it bothers you beyond that, I understand if you can’t attend the show.’

Quieting the noise gets easier when you focus strictly on the business. Making everyone happy is impossible when you organize an event, but if you allow multiple viewpoints to be present in the room, you end up in a decent place more times than not.

You also have to remember that social media can make things appear worse than they are. Is the issue you’re dealing with being raised by conference partners and supporters who attend the event each year or from someone who’s not in the building and thrives on creating a social media firestorm for the causes they oppose and fight against?

Some may recall that I dealt with a few headaches in 2019 prior to our LA Summit after folks involved with groups that had no interest or desire to attend our show started trying to create a controversy out of nothing. Though it was frustrating playing defense on Christmas night when individuals from the New York Times, Deadspin and WNBA teams started poking holes in our conference’s flyer, I learned an important lesson. As long as you do the right thing and have the support and trust of your friends, family, attendees, and partners, who cares what others think or say who don’t know you and aren’t in the room for your event.

That’s what I don’t understand here. Is Shapiro not one of the most successful podcasters out there? Was his company not a paying partner of the event? If this is a conference about podcasting, and you have someone in attendance who excels at it, has a massive following, and their company is supporting your event as a sponsor, why are you treating them like a disease? Most would roll out a red carpet for someone with Shapiro’s track record of success not publicly condemn them for showing up and sponsoring the show. I know I would. I’d also do the same for someone who’s equally successful and views the world the exact opposite way.

I can’t help but wonder how folks at Westwood One feel about this incident. Don’t they promote and support this conference and include their people in the event? Think they might object to one of their top personalities being treated this way? Furthermore, how about the talk radio format? It’s no secret that most of the programming on news/talk radio stations leans right. A number of top performing podcasts follow a similar path. It’s safe to say that most in the format are going to support Shapiro, and I don’t think that helps the conference with attracting future business and participation.

To be clear, I don’t listen to Ben Shapiro’s podcast or radio show, and I don’t read The Daily Wire. I only point that out because I don’t want anyone to assume that I’m supporting him because of personal interests or a professional relationship. We’ve never spoke or crossed paths. My opinion is based solely on the facts surrounding this situation, nothing else.

That said, I understand Ben has shared opinions that some take offense to and I don’t blame those folks for not wanting to be around him. But there’s a simple solution, don’t go near him or his booth. It’s the same thing I tell people who don’t like a particular radio station’s hosts or a piece of content on our website; if you don’t like it, don’t read or listen to it. The Podcast Movement Conference takes place in a large convention center. There’s more than enough room to keep everyone separated and happy. Last time I checked, there were attendees in the room who stopped by to meet Ben at his booth. Do they not count?

Look, you don’t have to agree with Shapiro, but this is a podcasting business conference, and it’s something he’s done at a higher level than most. That qualifies him to be there. You can’t get in the middle and start determining who is and isn’t allowed in based on personal beliefs or trying to please agenda driven people on social media. Would Podcast Movement tell Joe Rogan, one of the most successful podcasters out there, that he couldn’t attend if people who didn’t like his views on Covid-19 protested? What’s next, not giving out industry awards to stations and individuals who we don’t like or agree with? When does the insanity end?

Here’s the reality, there are likely other sponsors and attendees in the room who have views that some may consider offensive. Our content and advertisers aren’t just supported by good, honest people. There are thousands, if not millions, who listen and support us who are shady, sick, and morally bankrupt. That’s beyond our control. Our job is to inform and entertain, and make people care enough to come back regularly. If we do that well, sponsors will follow. Keep those things happening, and everyone remains satisfied.

Moving forward, the Podcast Movement Conference has to decide if it wants to be open to all or only to some. I root for the conference to do well. I’ve enjoyed attending previous shows and hope to attend future ones. But if they expect to maintain support and enjoy future growth, learning from this situation is important. There’s much more money in staying neutral than alienating one side of the room.

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