Defining success for a sports radio station can be measured in many different ways. There’s laying out guidelines and goals for what you expect from each individual. There’s bottom line revenue. There’s digital and mobile growth, social media engagement, connection in the community, content strategy and execution and of course the almighty ratings book.
Yes it’s true, the ratings game isn’t an exact science and of course most programmers complain about the lack of meters in each individual market but whether it’s fair or unfair, every single station in every market deals with the same system and your job is to deliver numbers that your sales team can use to generate more revenue for your company. Nobody complains when the numbers are good but we all piss and moan when they’re lower than expected.
I’ve had my share of ups and downs with numbers but I do believe they matter. As long as advertisers seek them and decide future ad buys on the station I operate based on them, they’ll remain a heavy focus for me. While it’s easy to make excuses and complain about the systems flaws (trust me they have plenty), everyone is playing the same game.
How many times have you seen the following “My station doesn’t subscribe to Arbitron/Nielsen because they don’t show our brand’s true audience. We remain focused on super serving our audience and advertisers“. When I hear that I start to chuckle because the real translation is “our numbers suck and we can’t convince anyone we have an audience so we’ll go on the offensive to defend our position so advertisers don’t pull their business from us”.
Then there’s the talent side of things “I don’t believe in ratings. I’ve never seen a meter. I know when the show is good and we have a big audience because people see me and tell me they listen“. I’ve run 4 different radio stations in 3 different markets over the past 8 years and there’s always someone taking that position. What they mean to say is “I need an excuse to fall back on in case my numbers aren’t good because otherwise I’ll have a hard time asking for a raise in the future. Besides, I have a strong following on social media and that shows that I have a huge audience”.
In both cases I understand the skepticism due to what’s been created by Nielsen as a result of weak measurement but what I’ve yet to see is a radio station not reward an on-air talent or PD who was delivering strong ratings. Excuses come up when audience numbers are low but when they’re high, everyone brags and wants a pat on the back and companies usually reward you for it. Ratings are needed to justify the companies ability to command higher ad rates and your ability to deliver them is a critical part of your job. Without them as a host or programmer, your position could be in jeopardy.
Ask yourself this, how can we make money in this business if it’s based on subjective opinion of what we think of our own shows? Is a talent really going to walk into an office and say to a PD “My show isn’t as good as I thought it would be or what you hoped it would be and I sense the audience has checked out, maybe you should pull the plug on it“? Of course not.
On-Air talent are conditioned to pump themselves up by telling you “I have a huge audience, I know what works” but can they really prove that? Have they gone out and personally counted every listener who interacted with them in public, on social or through the station text account? Of course not. When a talent tells me they had 200-1000 people attend or send them a message on social media as evidence of having a big audience, I remind them that 200-1,000 people in a market made up of 7 million is not a number to brag about.
About 15-months ago I listened to Mike Francesa from WFAN in NY talk about the way he looks at ratings. Many would agree that Mike has been one of the most influential and dominant sports radio personalities of our lifetime and as I heard him share his views on this subject I found myself intrigued. First consider that he’s been on the air with WFAN for over 25 years and during that time he has delivered more than 80 #1 ratings performances with Men 25-54. That is incredibly impressive especially in the country’s largest market.
Some will say his success is due to being on WFAN which has a great signal, strong heritage and was the nation’s first true all-sports format and while that deserves consideration, you’d be doing him a disservice if you assumed that’s why he’s succeeded. Mike spends 5.5 hours per day on the air and he’s seen as the authority on NY sports. He’s won alongside Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo as well as on his own. His station lost major players such as Russo and Don Imus yet Mike has continued to dominate the market.
What really impressed me most about Mike’s speech was when he discussed the value he places on his ratings performance. To learn that the #1 guy in the top US market meets every Monday with his PD to see how he’s stacking up against the competition was impressive. How many on-air talent do you know who even ask a question about their own performance at the end of a month let alone on a weekly basis?
WFAN makes a lot of money and Mike does extremely well for himself and nobody at his company is going to tell an advertiser they can’t demonstrate performance when ratings are requested. He considers it to be his report card and when you’re delivering straight A’s, you’re not embarrassed to show off your grades. To get a sense of Mike’s views on the ratings game check out this video.
While I’ve spent the first part of this piece on the mindset of ratings, the next level of what I want to discuss has to do with the demographic for which sports radio is analyzed. Anyone who works in this format knows that your success or failure is determined by how you perform with Men 25-54. You can create neat little stories with Men 18+, Men 18-34, P6, 12+ or Adults 25-54 but the number that matters when all is said and done are Men 25-54.
This is the demographic that advertisers expect sports radio stations to be strongest in and and it’s what on-air personalities and programmers get bonused on. It’s also what your company looks at to determine if the investment in a sports radio station is paying off. Every month when my ratings come out I’ll look at P6 to see what our overall cume for the station is and I’ll check out the Adults 25-54 demo to see if I can provide any stories for sales to help with some other possible buys but the main focus for myself and all involved in my group (and every station I’ve ever worked at) is always Men 25-54.
I enjoy getting the ratings report each month and I’ve found that when you create a great product and surround yourself with talented people, getting an audience to listen and reward you with proof of performance isn’t hard. While in St. Louis, my former brand 101 ESPN started 33rd and was consistently in the Top 5 in ratings within 12-18 months, including reaching #1.
When I built 95.7 The Game in SF, we started in 27th place and in under 4 years climbed to as high as 3rd with Men 25-54. It took a lot of luck, hard work, personnel changes and loss of sleep and none of it would’ve happened without a great staff performing day in and day out to entertain listeners.
While the focus for ratings success is Men 25-54, Francesa raised an interesting point about what the demographic should be. He says the format should be measured by Men 35-69. He argues that Men over 60 years old have more money whereas younger male adults can barely pay rent and if advertisers are seeking people with wealth to purchase their products, then they should put a heavier emphasis on the older demographic.
The logic makes sense but I don’t agree that Men 35-69 should be the focus. If it’s only about money then I’d give it stronger consideration but ratings are also supposed to be about listenership and I think the reason sports stations are migrating to the FM dial are because Men 25-34 have a stronger interest in the product than ever before. It’s during these years of a man’s life that he usually starts listening and forming a bond with the sports radio format and I don’t think that can be dismissed and not measured.
Whether it’s Men 25-54, Men 25-64, Men 25-69 or another demographic, is subjective and while I don’t have the perfect answer, I do think that as our business grows, all options should be explored. If we can change the way radio gets measured from diary to PPM and we can see stations switch to FM and begin to deliver huge numbers on mobile and online, then we owe it to our industry to make sure that we get the best measurement possible to showcase the brand’s strength.
I think it’s silly that mobile listening and web streaming are rarely accounted for when we can see the amount of listening sessions that take place on our brands. I understand that it’s still about the over the air listening activity but with the future changing rapidly, the industry will have to evolve and put a stronger focus on “audio measurement“, not just radio measurement.
To help paint a better picture of the importance of ratings and the way people in our business see them, I asked 3 questions to some of the best minds in the sports radio business today. Taking part in the panel are the following people:
- Jason Dixon – Program Director of Detroit Sports 105.1 FM
- Jeff Austin – Program Director of 1080 The Fan in Portland
- Tim Spence – Station Manager of 102.3/105.5 ESPN Denver
- Ryan Hatch – VP of News and Sports at 92.3 KTAR and Arizona Sports 98.7 FM
- Brian Long – Program Director of XTRA 1360 and Newsradio AM 600 KOGO in San Diego
What demographic matters most to your radio station in determining whether or not it’s been a successful month in the ratings?
Dixon: I spend most of my time looking at Men 25-54 because that’s the number that matters most to our sales department. From there I dissect the big number to see what we are doing in the various cells to find the station’s strengths and weaknesses.
Austin: Men 25-54. It’s a wide demo but the one that the vast majority of our buys are predicated upon. We need to score with the older half of this demo as a sweet spot, and continually develop listeners in the younger half, so attention to the entire demo is a must.
Spence: What’s our job? Men. Where’s the money? 25-54. Once you are established in that demo of Men 25-54 then most stations start expanding and developing P25-54.
Hatch: Men 25-54 is always the primary demo that sports radio stations target and evaluate, and it is ours as well but we have raised our expectations. Now on FM, our goal is to drive a male number that rolls up into a Top 10 Persons 25-54 number with the primary new audience driver coming from the younger 25-34 male demo that was almost completely inaccessible on AM. If we don’t deliver Top 3 Men 25-54 and Top 10 Persons 25-54 performance in the Fall, we’re not delivering the radio audience we need to.
Long: Men 25-54. This demo is the sweet spot for us and our targeted clients.
JB NOTE: Every single programmer here has the same mentality of capturing Men 25-54. While there are some interesting variations such as what Ryan is looking to capture in Phoenix with his brand’s migration to FM, the conversation starts with Men 25-54.
What do you think should be the demographic to measure sports talk radio’s success?
Dixon: The most important demo to me is the one where the money is. If tomorrow, agencies and clients start placing buys based on men 35-49 or men 18-24, that will be my target. As programmers in a narrow format, we have to keep our eyes on the prize. We all want great ratings so we can pat ourselves on the back, collect ratings bonuses etc. but the fact is that they are sales tools.
Austin: Men 25-54. If you want to avoid being a “niche” station, which healthy sports stations should make a goal of, and get more listeners under your tent, you have to be a great “male listen.” If you focus on a smaller demo, you risk becoming less-relevant with large portions of your audience. If you widen your focus to consider males outside of that demo, or females, you become bland and non-exclusive to the majority of your audience.
Spence: Well, first as I mention above, it’s Men 25-54. That said, the heart of the demo is what MAKES the demo. If I own/control/kill it with Men 35-44, I’ll p/u both ends of the demo. If I focus too much towards either end, I potentially skew the other side of the demo.
Hatch: Our job will always be to deliver the most valuable audience that we can connect to our advertising partners, which will continue to be affluent men with purchase power and influence. If you’re only talking about radio ratings, it’s simple. As long as the ad agencies and buyers continue to determine Men 25-54 and Persons 25-54 are the most important demos to them, it’s going to remain that way for us.
Long: Men 25-64. People are living longer and putting off having children until later in life. Ultimately, delaying retirement . 60 is the new 50 and people’s spending habits have changed.
JB NOTE: There’s some great stuff here. First, Brian raises some excellent points about people living longer, retiring later and having children later. That makes a lot of sense in explaining why adding to the back end of the demographic could make sense in the future. I also love what Jason and Ryan had to say about satisfying the demand of agencies and clients. Until advertisers change their views, Men 25-54 will remain the format’s key focus.
How important are ratings to your business and the way you position your radio station?
Dixon: Personally I love ratings. They can provide validation for your hard work and they can be a big warning sign for something that is not working. That being said, they are not the “be all , end all” of the sports radio business. One of my go to lines is, “I’ve never seen a Sports Radio PD with average ratings and great billing fired.” The 6 plus number that’s published in the trades does not create the narrative of your radio station. Your content, your presentation and the stories that your sales people share on the street is what defines your radio station.
Austin: We don’t position on-air based upon ratings, but we do in the field (sales). The key for us is to be the top sports station in our market. Without a major local play-by-play property, we especially need to own Prime. As for sharing the common goal, I think it registers more clearly with the sales force.
Spence: The bottom line, ratings are important. They’re what takes the average sports station that sells just spots/dots and relationships to the next level. Eventually, if you don’t have ratings, sales will suffer.
Hatch: We pride ourselves on telling the entire Arizona Sports audience story and it’s incredible influence in the market. We absolutely will not allow the radio ratings alone to define success. Granted, ratings are still the most important metric as increased radio audience is still by far the quickest way to increase revenue, especially with transactional business. The difficult part is with longtime radio talent who have been trained and bonused over the years to solely let the radio ratings dictate success. It’s still a tough putt to break that habit. The reality is that while we watch significant growth among so many of our platforms, if the ratings don’t correspond, it’s tough on the guys because that’s still their biggest badge of honor.
Long: Ratings are very important. Having ratings on a station allows both (sales and programming) the advantage of being more discerning about the type of business you are willing to take or walk from which ultimately affects the overall sound of the station.
JB NOTE: There’s one key point made here by the group. Positioning your brand internally is equally as important as positioning it externally. If every aspect of an organization isn’t pulling in the same direction and singing the same tune then further discussion is needed to develop one unified message. The ratings absolutely matter but there’s multiple ways to sell that message and the benefits of the brand. Whichever direction you go, all departments must be on board and share in the same vision.
Angiolet, Borod, Craig & Sottolano Added To 2022 BSM Summit
“If you’re planning to attend, please buy your tickets as soon as possible. We have limited room and it’s first come, first serve.”
We promised we had more great news to share regarding the 2022 BSM Summit. Just four days after revealing the addition of ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro to this year’s show, we’ve added four more heavyweights to March’s sports media industry conference.
First, it’s a pleasure to welcome for the first time, DraftKings Chief Media Officer Brian Angiolet to the BSM Summit. Brian joined DraftKings in April 2021 after two decades with Verizon where he helped the company strike a number of multi-billion dollar broadcasting, sports and entertainment content and advertising deals. Some of the key groups to do business with Verizon during Brian’s tenure included the NFL, NBA, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM. DK has been a large advertiser and supporter of the sports media industry for many years, in addition to becoming a larger content provider following the acquisition of VSiN. We look forward to having Brian join our sports betting executive panel (hosted by ESPN’s host Joe Fortenbaugh) to share his insights on how he sees sports betting groups participating now and in the future in the sports media content world.
Second, it’s an honor to add Fanatics Chief Commercial Officer Ari Borod to the sports betting executive panel for his first appearance at the BSM Summit. Ari’s fingerprints have been all over the sports betting business for years, first with FanDuel, then with the Action Network. He joined Fanatics in June 2021, reuniting with former FanDuel CEO Matt King, and in less than a year, the company became the official trading cards partner of MLB, purchased the Topps Trading Company, and applied for a sports betting license in New York. Possessing a massive customer base, deep executive knowledge of the sports betting business, and a desire to make a larger dent in the sports betting arena, we’re thrilled to have Ari lend his perspective on how Fanatics views the future of sports betting and the evolution of the sports media industry.
Next, I am thrilled to have Audacy’s EVP of Programming Jeff Sottolano appear on stage for the first time at the Summit. In his current role, Jeff is responsible for the content strategy and performance of Audacy’s local brands in all formats across all broadcast and digital platforms. Jeff has played a key role in the launch, development and growth of the BetQL Network, while also helping Audacy evolve its position as one of America’s top audio companies. Jeff will be part of one of my favorite sessions, The Power Panel, which includes SVP of Premiere Sports and EVP of iHeart Sports Don Martin, Cumulus and Westwood One SVP Bruce Gilbert, and SiriusXM SVP of Sports Programming Steve Cohen. All four men will participate in a lengthy discussion on sports talk programming and the various challenges facing brands, talent, and programmers today.
A BSM Summit can’t just feature new faces though, especially when familiar ones add valuable knowledge to important programming conversations. ESPN Radio Program Director, former colleague and longtime friend Justin Craig will join us for our Programmers Masterclass alongside a few other notable leaders. The group will examine what does and doesn’t work from a content standpoint when trying to capture ratings. They’ll also share which ingredients are essential in successful talent/shows, and provide an on-site review of a piece of audio content. Those interested in learning how great programmer’s think will want to be present for this panel.
If you haven’t purchased a ticket to the Summit but are planning to attend, please do so before seats are no longer available. We have limited room inside the theater and it’s first come, first serve. Additionally, all attendees in New York will receive an online registration to be able to watch the show on-demand afterwards. This can be helpful when looking to share insight with local staffs who aren’t able to attend.
For those not able to travel but interested in enjoying the Summit, we do have virtual tickets available. Details on tickets, speakers, and hotel rooms can be found on BSMSummit.com. I hope to see you there!
ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit
“Having Jimmy with us will allow our attendees to learn how ESPN views the current sports media landscape in order to better understand where the business is headed in the future.”
The largest player in the sports content business today is ESPN. From television to radio to streaming, social, podcasts, websites and more, the network remains a force in satisfying the appetites of sports fans around the globe.
But creating sustainable global success isn’t easy. It requires investing billions of dollars in key programming partnerships, holding off competitors who seek to elevate their own standing, and hiring and retaining talented professionals and providing an environment for them to thrive in. If that wasn’t difficult enough, a company must also embrace new technology, and accept that certain things will fail while pursuing a path to excellence.
The man charged with making sure ESPN thrives in each of these areas is Chairman Jimmy Pitaro, and I’m excited to share that he’ll be joining us in March in New York City for the 2022 BSM Summit.
I’ll have the pleasure of spending 35 minutes on stage with Jimmy discussing the state of the sports media industry, the opportunities and challenges facing operators in 2022 and beyond, the growth of sports betting, network radio, podcasts, subscriptions, social, and many other issues. No matter what space we’re talking about, ESPN has held a dominant position among all media brands. Having Jimmy with us will allow our attendees to learn how ESPN views the current sports media landscape in order to better understand where the business is headed in the future.
Jimmy has been with the Walt Disney Company since 2010. He became ESPN President in 2018 and was elevated two years later to his current role as Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content. You can learn more about his professional background by clicking here.
A reminder that the 2022 BSM Summit is an industry-only event. You must work in the media business in order to attend the show. This includes sales, public relations, advertising agency professionals and agents, as well as programming folks. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet of attending the Summit, feel free to visit our YouTube page to see some clips from past shows. It’ll give you an idea of what you can expect. You can also see the full list of speakers scheduled to appear at our 2022 show by visiting BSMSummit.com. We’ll announce a few more executive additions to March’s event later this week.
For those who manage brands and have joined us before in New York, Los Angeles and/or Chicago and are planning to come but haven’t bought a ticket yet, please do so asap. Seating is limited and once we’re full, we can’t add seats inside the room. You can also take advantage of a great hotel deal ($109 per night) with our partner Hotel Edison by clicking here.
One additional note, for those who are concerned about traveling, there is an opportunity to buy a virtual ticket. This year’s show is available both online and in person. For those planning to join us in NYC, in addition to receiving your live ticket, you’ll also get an online account so you can view the event on-demand afterwards. This can be especially helpful if you wish to replay a session or use any information afterwards to help members of your team. A big thanks to our virtual partner Nuvoodoo Media for helping make it happen.
We’re just 49 days away from putting on a spectacular show for industry folks in the big apple. We hope to see you there!
BSM, BNM Ready To Grow In 2022
“We’ve ended 2021 with record high’s for monthly traffic and social impressions, and our client and advertiser base the best its ever been thanks to the support of outstanding partners.”
It’s commonplace in our business to self-reflect when a new year full of possibilities arrives. We should probably do it more often rather than reserving it for the final day of the year or the first day of the next, but in the media business, finding time isn’t always easy.
As I look back at 2021, and the obstacles, adversity, accomplishments, enlightenment, and unpredictability that awaits BSM and BNM in 2022, I’m grateful to be able to do work that many enjoy and benefit from. Since I left the programming world in 2015 not a day has passed where I thought ‘I need to get back to running a radio station‘. That may sound crazy considering I spent two decades inside of buildings, loving the job, and living and breathing it 24/7, but from the second I moved into this space, I knew it was where I needed to be.
I had my fun building brands, chasing ratings, leading corporate programming calls, and making good money, but that restricted me to working in one city for one company with one brand and one staff. Now, I get to wake up each day and help clients in multiple cities, and run my own brand, collaborating with a great group of people to tell stories about the business we love. Combine that with hosting an annual conference, working with advertising partners and industry friends to create cool content and examine ways to grow their businesses, and connecting with folks to stay plugged in on details that others won’t know about until weeks or months later, and I consider myself very lucky. The added bonus, I get to do it in running pants and t-shirts inside the comfort of my home office/studio.
But with operating a business comes a different set of challenges. In 2020, we ended the BSM Summit on a high only to watch the entire world spin out of control weeks later due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That created a bunch of short-term issues, which fortunately we were able to overcome. Fast forward to this year, and we’ve ended 2021 with record high’s for monthly traffic and social impressions, and our client and advertiser base the best its ever been thanks to the support of outstanding partners. I never assume we’re in the clear because things can change quickly, but the support we’ve received is appreciated. It fuels me to reinvest in others to continue growing our operation and helping the industry.
So let’s talk a little bit about how we’re doing that in 2022.
First, we merged Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media in May 2021 to bring news and opinion from both the sports/talk and news/talk worlds under one roof. We tried running them independently initially but that wasn’t the best strategy for a new brand. Since bringing them together, BNM’s exposure has increased, the content has been read more regularly, and though we have more to do to get the brand on par with BSM, we’re making progress. BSM had a 5+ year head start on BNM, and though I know at times it may seem weird to read a sports media and news media story on the same website or social media account, as I tell those who ask, sports and news have mixed together since the invention of television, radio and newspapers.
Boosting BNM’s awareness and content is a goal for 2022, and to do that I want to share two things we’re creating to help us make progress.
I’m excited to share that we are launching The BNM Rundown. This will be a newsletter we distribute 3x per week (Monday-Wednesday-Friday) via email similar to what we’ve done with the BSM 8@8. The Rundown will go out around 5pm ET on each of those three days, and it’ll contain ten (10) news media stories, five (5) advertising slots, and the latest stock prices for radio groups. There will be additional content and advertising added in the future, and we may increase delivery to five days per week down the line. I’m happy with the layout and think you’ll enjoy it. If you’d like to receive the BNM Rundown or discuss advertising opportunities inside of it, click here to sign up. A big thanks to Ryan Jaster for all the work he’s done getting it ready for distribution.
In addition to the newsletter, 2022 will become the first year where we roll out BNM’s Top 20 of 2022. Similar to how we’ve produced the BSM Top 20, we are going to do the same for the News/Talk format. Categories will be announced at a later time, and we’re expecting to present our results towards years end. There’s a lot to be done to make it a success, but if we’re able to do for News/Talk what we’ve done for Sports/Talk during the past 6 years, I’m confident folks will appreciate it.
When I look at BNM right now, I see a number of excellent writers on the site. If you’re not reading Pete Mundo, Jerry Barmash, Douglas Pucci, Rick Schultz, McGraw Milhaven, Ryan Hedrick and Eduardo Razo, you really should. Each of those guys have been rock stars for the brand, but we need more help, especially another columnist or two. If you work in news radio or TV, love writing, and live and breathe the business, email: JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Though we do need to add columnists, a bigger hole has been a dedicated Assistant Content Editor. I’ve poured my heart and soul into BSM over the years, Demetri Ravanos has as well, and that’s helped us build a strong connection with sports radio folks. For BNM, that love, interest, and unwavering passion for telling stories about news radio and news television has been missing in the editor role. Though frustrating at times, it’s all part of building a brand. You have to go thru a few things before it all starts to click. Now after talking to a bunch of talented people over the past two months, and thinking about the brand’s need for TLC, I’m happy to announce the internal promotion of Eduardo Razo.
Since joining us Eduardo has been a steady fixture on the site, writing news, scheduling social posts, and putting an extra set of eyes on the content that comes in from our team. He cares about the site being clean, conducts himself neutrally and professionally when adding news, and he believes in the brand. If hours go by and the site doesn’t have new content, he’s the one who points it out. When Eduardo first joined us he was just learning the ropes. Over the past fifteen months he’s been consistently excellent, and I have no doubt he’ll make even more progress in his new role as BNM’s Assistant Content Editor.
Making sure Eduardo has support to help him though is also important. I’d love to be that person myself, but client projects require much of my focus, so having a strong #2 is key. I’ve been lucky to have a great one in Demetri Ravanos who I’m excited to share is being elevated to the new role of Director of Content. In his new position, Demetri will continue producing columns, creating original feature stories, and hosting a weekly podcast. He’ll also be responsible for daily social creation and scheduling, working with yours truly on client projects and Barrett Media events, recruitment of writers, growth of the BSM Member Directory, BSM merchandising, additional BSM audio projects, and oversight of BSM and BNM’s Assistant Content Editors.
That last line implies that there will be multiple editors involved in shaping BSM and BNM’s content, and with Demetri and Eduardo promoted, that means we’re adding someone to help grow BSM. I’m thrilled to welcome Ian Casselberry to our team as BSM’s new Assistant Content Editor. Ian is familiar to many in the sports media universe for his work with Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He’s also contributed to Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports, SB Nation Detroit, and MLive.com among others.
I’ve read Ian’s work for years and have always appreciated his passion for sports radio and sports television. Adding someone with his experience, creativity, and attention to detail has been a huge priority for me. I’m looking forward to turning him loose on January 17th when he officially begins working with us. Under his direction, and in tandem with Demetri and I, we’re going to aim to produce more quality sports media content, and continue expanding BSM’s footprint across the industry.
As awesome as all of these moves are for creating interest in reading the site, if you don’t have someone in position to help sell it, the upside is going to be limited. For the past six years I’ve been the one making those sales myself. But I’ve also had to be a consultant, social scheduler, content creator, summit organizer-creator-host, finder of new clients, and the one in charge of billing and payroll. I love being busy, but a brand’s potential can’t be maximized without help.
Placing the company’s sales efforts in someone else’s hands though requires trust. I’ve learned the past few years that unless you’re inside my world and understand everything that goes on with BSM and BNM, it’s not an easy brand to sell. Media sellers are used to working with more assets, bigger dollars, and they expect things to move faster. They’re also used to corporate environments where a crew provides support from the beginning to the end of a sale. That’s not how it works here. This is more of a family business. Our success depends on one on one relationships, accessibility, being a self-starter, and patience. It means keeping in touch with industry friends and partners even when there isn’t a sale to be made. Nobody knows this brand, business, and who we serve better than the person who’s lived it with me for the past six and a half years, Stephanie Eads, my new Director of Strategic Partnerships.
Not only has Stephanie worked in sales and customer service most of her adult life, she’s honest, organized, and outstanding with people. She’s been exposed to every aspect of my radio life for the past sixteen years, and if you’ve been to a BSM Summit before then you already know how on the ball she is at making sure things get done. This is something we’ve talked about for years, but the timing was never right. Now it is, and I’m excited to watch her blossom. Having her add extra support to help me with billing and payroll is an added bonus.
The BSM brand will also welcome a few additional writers starting this week. First, I’m glad to have Danny O’Neil joining us as a weekly columnist. I got to know Danny in Seattle at 710 ESPN Seattle over the past six years, and he’s always been smart, passionate about media, and an exceptional writer. He’s now based in NYC and his debut column will hit the site this Friday. Also joining us in a daily news writer role is Will Dundon. Will is based in Nashville where he works as a producer for 102.5 The Game. Having him involved will help us stay on top of day to day news stories.
In terms of upcoming content, the BSM Top 20 of 2021 will be released February 7-11 and 14-15. The series moves back a week this year in accordance with a later Super Bowl date. During the seven day span we will highlight the best local sports radio stations, program directors, and morning, midday, and afternoon shows. We will also recognize the best national sports talk shows and original sports podcasts. To do that, we will once again involve more than 50 program directors and executives in the voting process.
One thing we will do differently this year is create an extra piece which recognizes the top performer in twenty smaller categories. These will be determined by a combination of BSM staff and select experts for specific fields. Some of these categories will include Best Sports Betting Content Brand, Best Wrestling Audio Show, Best Sports Radio Social Brand, and more.
After the Top 20 concludes, we’ll turn our attention to the 2022 BSM Summit, which is scheduled for March 2-3, 2022 in New York City at the Anne Bernstein Theater. The show will also be available virtually for those who can’t attend in person. I’m excited about the guest speakers we’ve lined up for this year’s event, and have more tremendous additions to announce later this week and next week. I realize the Omicron/Covid-19 situation has created some concern over the past month, and we continue to monitor the situation closely. As of today, we’re planning to host the event. If the situation were to worsen and we couldn’t keep people safe and comfortable, we’d reschedule the show. I’m hopeful of seeing familiar faces and many of sports media’s best and brightest in sixty days. If you haven’t bought your ticket, log on to BSMSummit.com and do so before you’re on the outside looking in. In the meantime, stay tuned to this website and the BSM 8@8 for details. We should all know more January 15th when New York State updates everyone on their mask ordinance.
Other content projects are in the works as well for March-December. We’ve got a number of ideas we’ve talked about for March Madness, and the NFL Draft. Items like last year’s Meet The Market Managers or a programmer’s version of it may also land on the content calendar. Not to be forgotten is the importance of continuing to improve the BSM Member Directory to help people stay informed, ready, and land in front of the right decision makers when job openings arise. Seeing a few of our members earn gigs the last 4-5 months of 2021 was very cool, and we hope to see more of that in 2022. Last but not least, I’m hopeful of giving the website a new layout in either quarter 2 or 3.
As I bring this column to a close, I’d like to remind you that BSM and BNM exists because we love the business and advocate for it daily. Since 2015, I’ve prioritized professional storytelling, research, industry news, relationship building, social media marketing, and consulting. Inside information and building relationships are important, and sure, it’s occasionally fun being first, but I’ve never worried about clicks, scoops, cash grabs or ruining reputations to elevate my own. I try to think about the big picture, even if it means missing out in the short-term. That applies to who I work with in a consulting capacity as well as how I operate the site. There’s no better example of it than last week. Most of our crew had the week off. It was tough missing out on stories when we were taking a mental timeout, but people come first. If you want long-term productivity and a staff to stick with you, support and sacrifice are essential.
If there’s one thing I know, this outlet has been a great resource for industry professionals. I wasn’t as fortunate during my studio days to have a site this rich in content to learn from, debate with, and stay connected to. We’ve hired 20+ contributors to help serve the industry, and I’m honored to have each one of them here. The additions we’ve made to improve the brand in 2022 will make us even better. We’re not perfect by any stretch, but we try to be fair and accurate. I also try to be accessible, especially when difficult situations arise. There are going to be times when our crew deliver strong opinions or tackle sensitive issues, and when those instances occur, I hope you’ll remember what I said about accuracy and fairness. We won’t operate as shills for the industry but we’re also not going scorched earth on folks.
Our goal here is simple, help folks stay informed about the sports and news radio/television formats, overdeliver for clients who place their trust in us, connect our advertising partners and members to others who can benefit from their services, and give industry people access to content from other professionals so they can do their jobs better.
If we can do these things consistently we’ll be in great shape. If we miss along the way, we’ll clean up the mess, and try to learn from it. We’re nine months away from celebrating seven years in operation, and we couldn’t have made it this far without your full support. Thanks for riding with us, now let’s make 2022 a year to remember.
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