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Seeing The Bigger Picture

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I’m losing a producer this week at 95.7 The Game….and I’m happy about it. You’re immediately thinking “they must have screwed up” or “what the heck is he doing throwing that employee under a bus and running him over“. Actually far from it on both accounts.

kyleI’m excited to lose the individual (Kyle Englehart) because he’s done a good job for us and earned the right to take the next step in his career. He’ll be leaving us to join my good friend Brian Long in San Diego where he’ll become the Executive Producer for Fox Sports XTRA 1360. I see Kyle’s career growth as a reward for the time I invested in him the past two and a half years and it makes me proud because it says that someone else who I respect and trust has the same opinion of his ability to make a bigger difference.

When the situation came about and I was asked if it would be ok to talk to Kyle I didn’t hesitate to say yes because I’m a firm believer in helping people take steps in this industry. It would be different if the move was lateral or backwards or if he was in an on-air position but he’s been working his way up the ladder, doing a great job and trying to find out what he’s capable of. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t looking out for his best interests and pushing him to take on bigger challenges.

I bring that situation to light because I want to pose a question to you. If someone on your team/show had a similar opportunity tomorrow and it meant your own situation would be effected, would you do what’s best for them?

diseaseofmeI’d like to believe the answer is yes but we both know that’s not always the case. Too often people focus on their own agendas and success and the last thing they want to endure is that scary six letter word – change! Now I do recognize that there are plenty of people who will root for their colleagues to succeed but there’s a big difference between rooting for them to succeed because it benefits you/the station and rooting for them to succeed because it benefits them.

Ironically what some lose sight of is that an individual’s success and departure for a bigger opportunity, paints a picture even more positively of your show and radio station because it tells others in our business that it’s the type of environment where they can learn, grow and win. That’s never bad for business.

Many people enter this industry in their early to mid twenties, not sure of themselves and wondering what goes on inside of a radio station. To most, this is a cool job and to be paid to talk about sports and go to games for free sounds very appealing especially when you’re young and unsure of what awaits you down the line. Most don’t know the difference early on between a producer and Executive Producer or a Reporter and Anchor and let’s face it, dollars are not high so thinking of the job as a potential career can be difficult. That is of course until you discover your passion for it and find out what you’re capable of.

happyOne of the things I’m most proud of during my career is having had the chance to work with many talented people who have gone on to build bigger careers for themselves. Some of them include Chris “Hoss” Neupert (101 ESPN-St. Louis), Ben Boyd (KMOX-St. Louis), John Semar (CBS Sports 920-St. Louis), Amanda Gifford (ESPN Radio), Joe DeCamara (97.5 The Fanatic-Philadelphia) and Jeremiah Crowe (95.7 The Game). The most recent one to join the list is my previously mentioned producer Kyle Englehart.

I list those people because they’ve gone on to become a Program Director, Assistant Program Director or Executive Producer. While each possesses great passion, talent and intelligence for what we do in this industry and have earned the recognition and opportunities they now have, I’d like to think I’ve rubbed off on them along the way and played a small part in helping them take a step forward in their careers.

When I see people who I’ve worked closely with advance to bigger positions in our business it makes me extremely proud because it says that the hard work we’ve put in together has paid off. I feel equally the same about some of the great talent I’ve had the pleasure to coach, develop and challenge along the way in multiple markets. If we get into that list though I may never finish this column and chances are I’ll leave someone out.

As I examine the sports radio industry today, I can’t help but have tremendous respect for programmers like Bruce Gilbert and Scott Masteller and personalities such as Dan Patrick and Mike and Mike. Not only are they good at their own jobs but they help others create bigger situations for others too.

dp4In Dan Patrick’s case, myself, Owen Murphy (KFWB PD-Los Angeles), Rob Dibble (97.9 ESPN-Hartford), Sean Salisbury (Yahoo Sports Radio), Darren Smith (Mighty 1090-San Diego) and many others have benefitted from working with him. His current cast (The Danettes – Todd, Paul, Patrick and Andrew) have been given the ability to escape from the shadows and build their own identities and there’s no doubt that his influence and impact on people has rubbed off. Keep in mind, I’m only talking about the radio side of things. That list grows even higher if you add television into the equation.

In the case of Mike and Mike, I know that Justin Craig (ESPN NY-PD), Pete Gianesini (ESPN Radio PD) and Scott Shapiro (ESPN Radio PD) have all gone from producing the show to becoming very good managers. While they had the ability to earn those spots, I’m sure many of their skills were made stronger by working with Greeny and Golic on a regular basis.

For Scott Masteller, he played a strong role in delivering Colin Cowherd to Bruce Gilbert at ESPN Radio. He also helped Dave Shore (ESPN Los Angeles Operations MGR/On-Air Host), John Lund (95.7 The Game-San Francisco Talent and Former ESPN Dallas PD) and Amanda Gifford (ESPN Radio PD) land bigger career opportunities in addition to helping numerous talents advance their careers on the local and network levels.

Last but not least is Bruce Gilbert who not only helped me develop but also played a role in many other people’s career advancement. Larry Gifford (Former ESPN Radio PD), Dennis Glasgow (Former ESPN 980 PD-Washington DC), Justin Craig (ESPN NY-PD and former ESPN Chicago-PD) and Chadd Scott (1010XL Jacksonville-APD) are just some of the people who have landed bigger opportunities and had the benefit of learning from Bruce. He was also responsible for hiring Colin Cowherd, Doug Gottlieb, Erik Kuselias and Freddie Coleman at ESPN Radio and putting the network’s focus strongly behind Mike and Mike which  sent them on their way to becoming a major brand in our industry.

treeIf you look at professional sports the role of an NFL Head Coach is very similar to what programmers do. Our jobs are to coach our people and help them realize their full potential. The path to reach that destination is where the fun and pain is discovered and you can’t avoid it if you want to make a lasting impact.

I look at coaches like Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Bill Walsh and Marty Schottenheimer and truly appreciate them not only for their win-loss records but for their impact on their people. When you look at how many Assistants became Head Coaches who learned from those strong leaders, the list is rather impressive. In each of their cases, they prepared their people for future success and when opportunity came knocking, they sent them on their way to realize their dreams while finding others to fill their voids.

In my opinion, that’s one of the changed responsibilities for a PD today. It’s not just about coaching shows, delivering ratings and putting out fires inside your building. It’s also about developing the future leaders and stars of our format.

torchA former boss Scott Carlin once said to me “Who are you developing today that will replace you tomorrow“? When he uttered that question I was very confused because I was a small-market PM drive host who was being asked to add PD duties and this was what I was being asked as I was accepting the position. I responded by letting him know I didn’t understand and how he summarized things made perfect sense. He told me that the mark of a great leader is what you leave behind and when others take notice of your work and you leave us for greener pastures, who will be next in line to add to what you’ve built?

Instantly I knew that it was not only my job to run the station and host a good show but to also make sure I grew my staff and prepared them for future success. I still remember that line to this day and I approach my position with that belief. My current APD Jeremiah Crowe has been trained to become a PD and he will be one in the future. To know I’ve prepared him for the challenge is fulfilling and he knows, when that day comes, it’s his job to have someone ready to occupy his chair and make sure we don’t lose ground. If he hasn’t done that then he’s missed his opportunity to leave his own imprint.

I’ll end on this note. You can be remembered in this business for many things. For me, I try to focus on making people better, helping them advance their careers and delivering ratings for my employer. It’s up to you to decide how you want to use your influence to benefit your peers and carve your place in the industry. Choose wisely.

 

Barrett Blogs

Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

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How many times have you heard this sentence uttered at conferences or in one of the trades; radio has to do a better job of telling its story. Sounds reasonable enough right? After all, your brands and companies stand a better chance of being more consumed and invested in the more that others know about them.

But what specifically about your brand’s story matters to those listening or spending money on it? Which outlets are you supposed to share that news with to grow your listenership and advertising? And who is telling the story? Is it someone who works for your company and has a motive to advance a professional agenda, or someone who’s independent and may point out a few holes in your strategy, execution, and results?

As professionals working in the media business, we’re supposed to be experts in the field of communications. But are we? We’re good at relaying news when it makes us look good or highlights a competitor coming up short. How do we respond though when the story isn’t told the we want it to? Better yet, how many times do sports/news talk brands relay information that isn’t tied to quarterly ratings, revenue or a new contract being signed? We like to celebrate the numbers that matter to us and our teams, but we don’t spend much time thinking about if those numbers matter to the right groups – the audience and the advertisers.

Having covered the sports and news media business for the past seven years, and published nearly eighteen thousand pieces of content, you’d be stunned if you saw how many nuggets of information get sent to us from industry folks looking for publicity vs. having to chase people down for details or read things on social media or listen to or watch shows to promote relevant material. Spoiler alert, most of what we produce comes from digging. There are a handful of outlets and PR folks who are great, and five or six PD’s who do an excellent job consistently promoting news or cool things associated with their brands and people. Some talent are good too at sharing content or tips that our website may have an interest in.

Whether I give the green light to publish the material or not, I appreciate that folks look for ways to keep their brands and shows on everyone’s radar. Brand leaders and marketing directors should be battling daily in my opinion for recognition anywhere and everywhere it’s available. If nobody is talking about your brand then you have to give them a reason to.

I’m writing this column today because I just spent a day in New York City at the Disney Upfront, which was attended by a few thousand advertising professionals. Though I’d have preferred a greater focus on ESPN than what was offered, I understand that a company the size of Disney with so many rich content offerings is going to have to condense things or they’d literally need a full week of Upfronts to cover it all. They’re also trying to reach buyers and advertising professionals who have interests in more than just sports.

What stood out to me while I was in attendance was how much detail went into putting on a show to inform, entertain, and engage advertising professionals. Disney understands the value of telling its story to the right crowd, and they rolled out the heavy hitters for it. There was a strong mix of stars, executives, promotion of upcoming shows, breaking news about network deals, access to the people responsible for bringing advertising to life, and of course, free drinks. It was easy for everyone in the room to gain an understanding of the company’s culture, vision, success, and plans to capture more market share.

As I sat in my seat, I wondered ‘why doesn’t radio do this on a local level‘? I’m not talking about entertaining clients in a suite, having a business dinner for a small group of clients or inviting business owners and agency reps to the office for a rollout of forthcoming plans. I’m talking about creating an annual event that showcases the power of a cluster, the stars who are connected to the company’s various brands, unveiling new shows, promotions and deals, and using the event as a driver to attract more business.

Too often I see our industry rely on things that have worked in the past. We assume that if it worked before there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for the client. Sometimes that’s even true. Maybe the advertiser likes to keep things simple and communicate by phone, email or in-person lunch meetings. Maybe a creative powerpoint presentation is all you need to get them to say yes. If it’s working and you feel that’s the best way forward to close business, continue with that approach. There’s more than one way to reach the finish line.

But I believe that most people like being exposed to fresh ideas, and given a peak behind the curtain. The word ‘new’ excites people. Why do you think Apple introduces a new iPhone each year or two. We lose sight sometimes of how important our brands and people are to those not inside the walls of our offices. We forget that whether a client spends ten thousand or ten million dollars per year with our company, they still like to be entertained. When you allow business people to feel the excitement associated with your brand’s upcoming events, see the presentations on a screen, and hear from and interact with the stars involved in it, you make them feel more special. I think you stand a better chance of closing deals and building stronger relationships that way.

Given that many local clusters have relationships with hotels, theaters, teams, restaurants, etc. there’s no reason you can’t find a central location, and put together an advertiser appreciation day that makes partners feel valued. You don’t have to rent out Pier 36 like Disney or secure the field at a baseball stadium to make a strong impression. We show listeners they’re valued regularly by giving away tickets, cash, fan appreciation parties, etc. and guess what, it works! Yes there are expenses involved putting on events, and no manager wants to hear about spending money without feeling confident they’ll generate a return on investment. That said, taking calculated risks is essential to growing a business. Every day that goes by where you operate with a ‘relying on the past’ mindset, and refuse to invest in growth opportunities, is one that leaves open the door for others to make sure your future is less promising.

There are likely a few examples of groups doing a smaller scaled version of what I’m suggesting. If you’re doing this already, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up through email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. By and large though, I don’t see a lot of must-see, must-discuss events like this created that lead to a surplus of press, increased relationships, and most importantly, increased sales. Yet it can be done. Judging from some of the feedback I received yesterday talking to people in the room, it makes an impression, and it matters.

I don’t claim to know how many ad agency executives and buyers returned to the office from the Disney Upfront and reached out to sign new advertising deals with the company. What I am confident in is that Disney wouldn’t invest resources in creating this event nor would other national groups like NBC, FOX, CBS, WarnerMedia, etc. if they didn’t feel it was beneficial to their business. Rather than relying on ratings and revenue stories that serve our own interests, maybe we’d help ourselves more by allowing our partners and potential clients to experience what makes our brands special. It works with our listeners, and can work with advertisers too.

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Takeaways From The NAB Show and Six Days in Las Vegas

“I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm for the NAB Show was elevated this year.”

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Six days on the road can sometimes be exhausting. Six days in Las Vegas, and it’s guaranteed. That was my world last week, as I along with more than fifty thousand people headed to sin city to take in the 2022 NAB Show.

The event didn’t draw as many as it had in the past, but after two years of inactivity due to the pandemic, it was good to be back. Judging from some of the vendors I talked to, the sessions I attended, and the feedback I received from folks I met with, though far from perfect, it was a solid return for an important event. Seeing people interact, celebrate others, and talk about ways to improve the business was a positive reminder of the world being closer to the normal of 2019 than the normal of 2020-2021. The only negative from the week, the consistent failure of Uber to appear in the right place at the right time. But that had zero to do with the NAB.

It feels like whenever I attend industry conferences, there are two different type of reviews that follow. Some writers attend the show and see the glass half full. Others see the glass half empty. I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm was elevated this year. Maybe it was because BSM was a media partner or maybe it was due to the show not happening for years and just being happy to be among friends, peers, and clients and operate like normal. Either way, my glass was definitely half full.

For those who see events this way, it’s likely they’ll remember the numerous opportunities they had to create and reestablish relationships. They’ll also recall the access to different speakers, sessions, products, and the excellent research shared with those in attendance. The great work done by the BFOA to recognize industry difference makers during their Wednesday breakfast was another positive experience, as was the Sunday night industry gathering at The Mayfair Supper Club.

Included in the conference were sessions with a number of industry leaders. Radio CEO’s took the stage to point out the industry’s wins and growth, credit their employees, and call out audio competitors, big tech, and advertisers for not spending more with the industry. When David Field, Bob Pittman, Ginny Morris and Caroline Beasley speak, people listen. Though their companies operate differently, hearing them share their views on the state of the business is important. I always learn something new when they address the room.

But though a lot of ground gets covered during these interviews, there are a few issues that don’t get talked about enough. For instance, ineffective measurement remains a big problem for the radio business. Things like this shouldn’t happen, but they do. NBC and WarnerMedia took bold steps to address problems with TV measurement. Does radio have the courage to take a similar risk? That’s an area I’d like to see addressed more by higher ups.

I can’t help but wonder how much money we lose from this issue. Companies spend millions for a ratings service that delivers subpar results, and the accountability that follows is often maddening. Given the data we have access to digitally, it’s stunning that radio’s report card for over the air listening is determined by outdated technology. And if we’re going to tell folks that wearables are the missing ingredient for addressing this problem, don’t be shocked if the press that follows is largely negative. The industry and its advertising partners deserve better. So too do the reps at Nielsen who have to absorb the hits, and make the most of a tough situation.

Speaking of advertising, this is another one of those critical areas that deserves another point of view. Case in point, I talked to a few ad agency professionals at the show. Similar to what I’ve heard before, they’re tired of hearing radio leaders blame them for the industry’s present position. This has been a hot button topic with executives for years. I often wonder, do we help or hurt ourselves by publicly calling out advertisers and ad agencies? How would you feel if you ran an agency which spent millions on the industry and were told ‘you don’t do enough’? I’m a champion of radio/audio, and am bullish on spoken word’s ability to deliver results for clients, but having attended these shows for nearly seven years, it might be time for a new approach and message. Or maybe it’s time to put one of our CEO’s with one of theirs and have a bigger discussion. Just a thought.

Of the sessions that I attended, I thought Erica Farber’s ‘What Business Are You In?’ was excellent. I especially liked Taja Graham’s presentation on ‘Sharing Your Truth’. I also appreciated Eric Bischoff’s tips on ways to monetize podcasts, and am curious to see how Amazon’s AMP develops moving forward. My favorite session at the show though was “A GPS Session For Your Station’s Car Radio Strategy” led by Fred Jacobs. The insight shared by Joe D’Angelo of Xperi and Steve Newberry & Suzy Schultz of Quu was outstanding. Keeping the car companies on our side is vital to our survival, and how we position ourselves on the dashboard can’t be ignored. Other tech companies and audio operators take it seriously. We must too.

Sessions aside, it was great to check out the VSiN and Blue Wire studios, connect with a bunch of CEO’s, GM’s and Market Manager’s, and visit with Kevin Jones, Joe Fortenbaugh, Jeremiah Crowe, Jon Goulet, Bill Adee, Q Myers, Mike Golic Jr. and Stormy Buonantony. The NFL’s setup for the Draft, and the light show presented at the Bellagio was without a doubt spectacular, plus Stephanie had a chance to say hello to Raiders owner Mark Davis who was inside the back room of a Westgate restaurant where we were having a business lunch meeting. The personal tour we received at the Wynn showed off some of the best suites I’ve seen in Las Vegas, and I was finally able to witness Circa’s Stadium Swim in person, and meet owner Derek Stevens (heck of a suit game). What an outstanding hotel and casino.

Altogether, it was a productive trip. As someone who knows all about building and executing a conference, I appreciate the work that goes into pulling it off. This event is massive, and I have no idea how the NAB makes it happen so flawlessly. This was the first time my head of sales, Stephanie Eads, got to attend the show. She loved it. Our only negative, going back and forth between convention halls can get exhausting. Wisely, Stephanie and Guaranty Media CEO Flynn Foster took advantage of the underground Tesla ride to move from the North hall to the West hall. I wasn’t as bright. If that’s the worst part of the experience though, that’s pretty solid. I look forward to returning in 2023, and attending the NAB’s NYC show this fall.

Additional:

You’ve likely seen posts from BSM/BNM on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn promoting a number of open positions. I’m adding crew to help us pump out more content, and that means we need more editors, news writers, features reporter’s and columnists. If you’re currently involved or previously worked in the industry and love to write about it, send a resume and few writing samples by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

With that said, I’m excited to announce the addition of Ryan Brown as a weekly columnist for BSM. Ryan is part of ‘The Next Round’ in Birmingham, Alabama, which previously broadcast on WJOX as JOX Roundtable. The show left the terrestrial world in June 2021 to operate as its own entity. Ryan’s knowledge and opinions should provide a boost to the site, and I’m looking forward to featuring his columns every Tuesday. Keep an eye out for it tomorrow, and if you want to check out the guest piece he previously wrote for us, click here.

Demetri Ravanos and I have talked to a lot of people over the past month. More additions will be revealed soon. As always, thanks for the continued support of BSM and BNM.

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Six New Contributors Join Barrett Media

“These latest additions will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.”

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Building a brand starts with a vision. Once that vision is defined, you identify the people who fit what you’re creating, lay out the game plan, and turn them loose to execute. If the product you’re creating is original, fills a gap in the marketplace, and the work turned in by your team is consistently excellent and promoted in the right locations, more times than not you’ll build an audience.

As you grow, the focus turns to studying what your audience wants, needs, and expects from your brand. Certain things you expect to be big turn out small, and the things you saw limited upside in create opportunities you never saw coming. It’s critical to be open minded and ready to pivot while also examining where and when people consume your product, which pieces of content do and don’t matter, and then use that information to direct your team to give folks more of what they value and less of what they don’t. Team members should want that feedback too. It tells them what is and isn’t worth spending their time on.

As I lay all of that out it may sound like I’m talking about a radio station or television operation. These are the things programmers do frequently to make sure the talent, shows, and brand is satisfying the expectations of an audience. But what I’m actually referring to is the brand you’ve made a choice to click on to read this column, Barrett Media.

I’ve mentioned many times on this website how I started this operation by myself, and didn’t expect to have a team of writers involved in it. I was focused on consulting sports stations, sharing my programming views on this website, and as I cranked out content consistently, I discovered others loved the business like I did and had a desire to share their insights too. Rather than sticking to my original plan, I pivoted and increased our content offerings. In return, the audience grew, clients grew, and it’s led this brand to grow beyond my expectations. Now we cover sports AND news media, we run an annual conference, feature a membership program, create podcasts, deliver a daily 8@8 and three times per week BNM Rundown newsletter, and work with various brands and companies across the broadcasting industry. I’m extremely fortunate to be in this position and don’t take it for granted.

But with growth comes change. We’ve been blessed to have a lot of talented people contribute to this site over the years, and as they produce quality work, and others across the industry recognize it, they earn interest for their services. That then leads to some having to sign off for bigger opportunities. I see that as a great positive for the brand. Would it be nice to have more consistency and keep a crew together for years? Of course. I know it’d make Demetri’s life a lot easier. If we’re losing people for the right reasons though, and they’re landing opportunities that help them advance their careers, I’m going to be happy for their success, and trust that we’ll find others to keep us moving forward. The success of our team helps make what we do more attractive to others because it shows that if you do good consistent work here, you can put yourself in a position to attract attention.

Over the past two months, I have challenged Demetri Ravanos to invest more time talking to people about writing for us. Expanding our Barrett News Media roster is a priority. So too is adding quality people to help us improve Barrett Sports Media. BSM has had just under seven years to earn trust with readers. BNM has had less than two. We’ve put out ads on our website and newsletters, social posts, an ad on Indeed, and we’ve reached out directly to people who we’ve felt may be able to add something interesting to our brand. Most of my time is spent listening to stations and talking with clients, but my eyes are always roaming looking for content, and my mind is always thinking about what we can create next to make an impact.

I don’t judge our brand’s success based on clicks, shares, breaking news before other outlets or showing up in the top three listings on Google. I care more effort accuracy, timeliness, passion, consistency, storytelling, insight, and being fair and non-agenda driven. We’ve found our niche being able to tell stories about broadcasting professionals, relaying news, and offering expert knowledge to serve those involved in the broadcasting industry. If we continue to excel doing those things consistently, I’m confident our audience will reward us by reading and sharing more of our content. It’s why we never stop recruiting to keep things fresh.

Having said that, I am excited today to reveal six new additions to the Barrett Media staff. Peter Schwartz is a name and voice many in New York sports radio circles are familiar with. Peter has spent three decades working with various outlets and I’m thrilled to have him writing weekly feature stories for us. Brady Farkas is a talented host and former programmer who now works for WDEV in Burlington, VT. Karl Schoening is a play by play broadcaster who has worked in San Antonio sports radio and has had the added benefit of learning the industry from his talented father Bill who calls Spurs games. Each of them will produce bi-weekly feature stories for the brand. Jason Ence is in Louisville and has written about sports betting for Twin Spires while also working for ESPN 680. He’ll be writing sports betting content for us on a weekly basis. Jasper Jones will help us by adding news stories on Friday’s. He’s presently in Philadelphia learning the business working for Audacy. Last but not least, veteran author, Brewers writer, and former radio professional Jim Cryns comes on board to help us with features on news media professionals.

These six additions make us stronger, and I’m excited to have them join the team to help us add more quality content to the website. That said, we’re not done yet. Demetri and I are still talking with others and I expect to make a few more additions in the weeks ahead. As I said earlier, we want to improve the news media side of our operation and continue adding people to help us make a bigger dent in the sports media space. Broadcast companies invest in us to help them, and I believe it’s important to invest back.

If you’ve programmed, hosted a top rated show, worked in measurement, led a cluster as a GM, sold advertising, represented talent or have worked in digital and feel you have knowledge to share, reach out. I can’t promise we’ll have room but we’re always willing to listen. I’m not worried about whether or not you’ve written for professional publications. Passion, experience and unique insights matter much more than a resume or journalism degree.

I appreciate everyone who takes time to read our content, like and share it on social, and all involved with this brand who help bring it to life each day. The latest additions of Schwartz, Farkas, Schoening, Ence, Jones and Cryns will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.

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