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Discovering New Talent

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This week I had the privilege of spending a few days in Bristol, CT at ESPN among some of the brightest minds in the sports radio industry. As usual there was a ton of conversation on ways to improve our business but one specific question jumped out to me and it’s something I have a strong passion for – discovering new talent. Everyone has their own ideas on how to find new blood and introduce tomorrow’s sports radio stars to local audiences but for me this is something that I believe is critical for every person who programs a radio station.

risksafeMore times than not when you look around the industry, stations are quick to take the safest approach possible and hire familiar names and voices to the market rather than introduce someone who requires more explanation. It makes sense most times because familiar names draw quicker reaction from local audiences and when you add advertising dollars into the conversation, it’s easier to sell something familiar than something foreign. What gets lost in that equation though is that sometimes the short-term gain is not as strong as a long-term one and usually it takes a mixture of market proven performers and new exciting personalities to give a radio station a fresh feel.

As a programmer, it’s not easy to tell your bosses, staff and listeners to wait for future success and look at the big picture. We live in a “win now” society where people focus more on the next day than they do on the next year. I remember growing up watching baseball and you’d hear about players spending 5-6 years in the minor leagues before being brought up to the major leagues. Today, once a player shows an ounce of potential, he’s rushed up to the grand stage.

In radio, it’s not much different. We seek broadcasters who can get on the air and make an immediate impact, even if that isn’t always realistic. In a world where ratings are critical to deciding how advertisers invest in your brand, it’s imperative that when you introduce new talent to the marketplace that it works. Sometimes you’ll get some time to let someone develop but usually the leash you’re provided is very short.

I’ve been fortunate twice during my career to build new stations and have a chance to develop people slowly and in each situation, we had success. Once that success is obtained though, it becomes much harder to do that because people become accustomed to success and fearful of losing it as a result of change, especially if it involves unfamiliar personalities.

scoutWhen I think about the role of a Program Director as it applies to scouting and discovering talent, I compare it to the role of a professional scout in the NFL or MLB. There are tons of roads to navigate and some will work and some won’t but you’ve got to always be looking and planning for the “what if” scenario. Part of that includes consistent evaluating of people inside the industry as well as keeping an eye on those who display potential while climbing up the ladder.

Last week the NY Times published a piece on Derek Jeter which covered how the Yankees Shortstop was discovered in 1991. I found myself thinking of the numerous scenarios that have unfolded in my own career that have led me to finding talented people and putting them on the road to have great success. Clearly they had to have the ability to get the job done but someone also had to recognize their talent, take a chance on hiring them and provide them with the tools, coaching and positive reinforcement necessary to help them.

In this piece, the scout (Dick Groch) talks about how he wasn’t even supposed to attend the camp where he discovered Jeter but yet when he watched him perform, he knew instantly that he had the tools that would translate to the highest level. In my business we call this “having an ear” or an “eye for talent“. There’s no way he could have known for sure that Derek Jeter would play 20 years in the big leagues, win 5 world titles and become a future hall of famer but his instincts told him this was a kid worth going to bat for. By doing so, the Yankees front office performed further evaluations and ultimately agreed with the reports and selected Derek when the chance to draft him was presented.

Colin Cowherd ESPN RadioWhen you think of sports radio, we don’t get an annual draft but there are plenty of Derek Jeter’s out there. One example comes immediately to mind. Scott Masteller was sharp enough to recognize Colin Cowherd’s talents in Portland and provide him with an opportunity to do local radio. Bruce Gilbert was smart enough to recognize what Scott saw and bring Colin to ESPN Radio. Obviously Colin had to be uniquely talented in order to earn those opportunities but even a great talented individual needs someone who’s willing to take a chance on him.

The problem I see sometimes in our business is that not everyone takes the time to look for new talent or take the risk of hiring someone unproven. Instead there’s a lot of people waiting for their doors to be knocked on or resumes and airchecks to show up in their emails and quite frankly, I don’t believe that you find the world’s best talent that way. Sure there will be some diamonds that come through the system that way but there are plenty of other options to exhaust as well. Unfortunately it’s much more dangerous to risk your own position on the unknown than it is to take the chance on someone who’s familiar.

If you watched the remake of the movie of “The Longest Yard” with Adam Sandler, there’s a scene (see video below) where Sandler goes to the basketball court to try and recruit Michael Irvin who’s seen as an intimidating guy and top notch athlete. When Sandler makes the comment “This guy must be quite the athlete huh“, Irvin responds with “You risked bringing your ass in the jungle because you know I am“. When I think of that scene, I can draw an easy parallel to sports radio because if you want to find great personalities, you’ve got to be willing to look in many different places. The great ones don’t usually apply through your company’s website, they expect you’ll find them when needs arise.

http://youtu.be/de2Rv5eijvA

I was talking with Chris “Hoss” Neupert who programs 101 ESPN in St. Louis (my former station) and this subject came up and he mentioned how former St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Brad Thompson has done a great job adjusting to the business and has become a strong personality on his station on his afternoon show. If Chris had waited for an application, resume or demo tape from Brad, he’d never have received one. It’s not like former St. Louis Cardinals players are sending in applications on a daily basis.

bradthompsonChris recognized Brad’s ability to communicate intelligently and passionately, explored a few conversations with him, gave him a few looks filling in and observed that Brad had an ability to do this job. Once he knew Brad was ready to move on from his baseball career and pursue a second career in the sports radio industry and a change took place inside his radio station, a move was made to bring him in. He’s since been rewarded by Brad’s show (which includes Randy Karraker and D’Marco Farr) being rated #1 in the St. Louis market in afternoon drive.

Speaking for myself, I’ve gone about things the same way. My job is to constantly be looking for talented people and think of how to best utilize them on my radio station if a future situation comes up. Major market audiences might not have been treated to the radio talents of Chris Duncan, Aubrey Huff, Eric Davis, Ric Bucher, Rick Venturi, Tony Softli, Zack McCrite, Meredith Marakovits, Rob Ellis, Guy Haberman or many others had I not been looking in various places to find good talent. This is something I take a lot of pride in and actively spend time doing. While I may miss from time to time, I never stop trying.

So when it comes to finding new talent, how does one do it? Where do you go to look? Is there some magical formula available to make it work? The answer of course is no but getting the job done is possible and yet it requires exploring a variety of possibilities. Let me share a few examples of ways I’ve done it that I think can help in the future and if you’re an on-air talent or aspiring broadcaster reading this, I encourage you to pay attention to this too because you never know when that call could be coming your way.

promotionDevelop From Within – Producers, Board Ops, Interns and others inside your building are going to spend more time learning the ins and outs of your product better than anyone else. Most times, guys reach a certain level in their careers and begin thinking about the next challenge. While some aren’t cut out to be on the air, some are and for those who possess a solid voice, good knowledge and a decent idea of what goes into doing a talk show after working on your key shows for a while, they certainly deserve consideration.

For example, in Seattle at 710 ESPN, Program Director and On-Air Host Mike Salk looks for producers who have an ability to help produce shows while also sharing a passion to do on-air work. He’ll reward them with some air time in lesser important time slots and that’s helpful for people having a chance to grow.

One of my current on-air personalities Zakariah spent six months interning for me and working on his delivery, hosting and update skills inside a production room before I gave him his first shot to hit the airwaves. I saw his passion and commitment to improve and I heard progress and he earned my trust to hit the air on a weekend shift and eventually do it consistently. He’s since gone on to host nights, weekends, weekday fill-ins and afternoon updates.

Businessman looking through binocularsSearch Other Markets – My current 10a-12p host Guy Haberman was doing afternoons in Fresno, CA when I first heard him. The market was small but provided a great opportunity for him to get reps and those reps helped him develop. When I had an opening on our night show pop up, I brought him in for an audition and he did a nice job and it was an easy decision to hire him. Had I not taken the time to listen to him though on my own (and have my APD Jeremiah Crowe do so too), he’d have never been brought in for an audition. Because I believe in scouting, we found ourselves a pretty great on-air host who people enjoy listening to.

It doesn’t always have to be smaller markets either. People who live 60-120 miles away from the big city typically aspire to make it to bigger markets but so do people in other markets. Sometimes there’s a personal connection to a certain city. Sometimes they see a certain city as a great move for their career and other times they’re drawn to your location because of positive feedback they’ve heard about your brand from people they like and respect in the business. I’ve lured guys to work for me due to all three of those scenarios. Regardless, I always keep an eye out on other markets and who performs in them and I try to form my own opinions on who has the style and attributes that fit well with my market.

Additionally, I’ll give my APD Jeremiah out of market listening assignments from time to time and I’ll do some myself too. First it’s helpful because sometimes you get ideas of other cool things people are doing on-air to create good radio. Secondly it’s positive because it allows you to discover who’s extremely talented. Third, it can teach you what you don’t like about certain styles or introduce you to others on a show/station that you might not have been familiar with.

I’ll add one last thing on this for on-air talents, be focused and approach your show with passion and enthusiasm each day. You have no idea who is listening to you or when they’re listening to you and if tomorrow you discovered that your worst segment was the one heard by someone who could have made you rich and successful for the rest of your life, are you going to be able to sleep at night? Probably not. You control your presentation and consistency and you owe it to yourself to make sure you’re on at all times. It can be the difference between landing a major opportunity or being quickly forgotten.

createCreating Promotions – In San Francisco I ran a contest called “Lucky Break” and in other markets similar promotions have been created to find undiscovered talent. These things work great sometimes and other times they don’t but I’ve always said that if American Idol hadn’t existed the entire music business would be without Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson so what do you have to lose?

While those artists aren’t really my cup of tea, they’ve all sold tons of records and if they didn’t perform, the record label could have easily dropped them. Since then we’ve seen other shows become hits such as The Voice and X-Factor and they all had one thing in common, discovering new musical talent.

As it applies to the radio station, you can only benefit by doing this. You have the chance to discover a hidden gem but if that doesn’t happen, you can also cut bait with the winner quickly. It doesn’t exactly have to be done on the air either. The reward can be a one-day talk show, an update anchor shift, a podcast, a produced talk show inside a production room or something else. You’ll be amazed at how much response you get from local people who want to be part of what you do. If luck breaks your way, you’ll find a few new exciting voices to feature.

Take a second and look at how many TV shows today are doing this. Whether it’s Shark Tank, Top Chef, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent or any other similar program dominating television today, the need for great talent exists in all forms of business. If other outlets see value in looking for undiscovered talent, maybe it makes sense for you to do so too!

youtubeThe Power of YouTube – Voice talent Jim Cutler brought this up a few years ago at a Sports Radio conference I was at in Phoenix and he was dead on. First of all, YouTube allows people to get reps and develop their own following and that’s such a great advantage compared to what was available to people 10-20 years ago. If someone has passion, a unique style and an ability to speak, I’m a firm believer that it will stand out regardless of the forum.

When I was paying my dues and trying to get better at hosting talk shows, I had to work in a production room, host a weekly weekend shift or voice commercials just to get reps. The only thing you could do back then was perform play-by-play while playing a video game. Today, people have many more advantages to continue practicing and if they’re willing to put it on display for you to evaluate, why not look at it?

As an example, my current morning update anchor Anna Kagarakis on 95.7 The Game, had a number of local television videos on YouTube. When I had a need for a new anchor, I reviewed her work, watched it, liked her style and energy and reached out to chat. If I hadn’t utilized YouTube, she might not have wound up on my radio station.

An even more unlikely scenario was my discovery of Clayton Miller. I was looking for someone who does sports voices to contribute to my morning show and aside from Frank Caliendo (who’s brilliant but very busy), I knew it would be difficult to find someone who fit the bill. Thanks to YouTube, I landed on Clayton’s page and after laughing at a number of his impressions and running his work by a few of our guys, I reached out to him to discuss doing a few calls to see how things go. We’ve since used him on our morning show a bunch of times and had it not been for YouTube I would not be aware of him.

networkingNetworking – This industry has thousands of people in it and those who are good at it can recognize others who are good at it or on the right track to doing so. When I get a call, email or social media message from someone I know, respect and trust in the industry suggesting that I look at someone for possible future employment, I’ll usually follow up on it. I might not always hire the person and sometimes I may disagree with their evaluation but I will usually check into it. My belief is that a professional person is not going to risk their reputation to send me bad advice because they don’t want their own name soiled.

For those of you reading this who are pursuing opportunities, I encourage you to get to know PD’s other than when you’re pursuing them for a job. I also recommend chatting with other on-air talent, producers and anchors in the industry to pick their brains too. When you become familiar with people, it strengthens your views on them and if you’re going to move for a new job and work for certain people, I always believe it’s better to know what you’re getting into.

theboxExplore Unconventional Places – Look around the industry today and take a look at how many athletes perform on the air. I’ll bet you 90% of them didn’t apply for a job or show up at the radio station’s door requesting a few minutes with the PD. In most cases the PD paid attention to how the athlete spoke during their career and they got feedback from their own people, the athlete’s agent and gave the athlete a chance to come in, do a few shifts and see how things go.

Why do guys from the sports world matter? Because your audiences already know them and support them and if they have the ability to perform in this medium, they’re likely to command an instant audience. None of that matters though if you don’t keep an ear on them while they’re going through their careers.

Also to be considered is looking for people with unique and interesting backgrounds. For example, Joe Beningo on WFAN was a passionate caller from Saddle River, NJ who was given a chance to do a one time show on the station as a result of winning a contest. That led to him getting some formal training at Connecticut School of Broadcasting and doing a show on a small station in Elizabeth, NJ before WFAN offered him a chance to do overnights. He’s now hosting middays from 10a-1p and has been with WFAN for 20 years. If he doesn’t call the radio station, he’s never discovered.

If you look around our business today you’ll see guys like Jay Mohr who has a background in movies and comedy, Steve Gorman who plays music for the Black Crowes, Dave Dameshek who has done comedy writing and performing plus many other on-air personalities who have transitioned from other radio formats to the sports talk radio scene. Great talent can come from anywhere so whether you’re at the bar, a comedy club or listening to a radio station that doesn’t do sports, never close your mind or your ears to a different possibility.

To sum this up, we work in a business where change is frequent yet new options seem limited. To keep moving forward, we’ve got to keep hunting for great personalities because they are the number one reason why our format works. To suggest people aren’t interested in this line of work or that younger talented people aren’t out there is rubbish. They are but it requires more than waiting for the phone to ring or emails to appear in your inbox. The real question is, are you willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to find them?

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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.”

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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!

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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.”

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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!

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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.”

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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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