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Do You Know Who You’re Hiring?

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If you’ve ever watched the show “Shark Tank” or “The Voice“, you’ve watched people present themselves in front of the coaches or sharks, hoping to get them excited about what they do. If they perform well, multiple people on the show could be vying for their services and within a matter of seconds, they’re forced to make a decision on who they wish to partner with. If they make the right choice, it could pay huge dividends. If they choose poorly, they’re back to square one and kicking themselves for not reading the room differently.

Well it’s no different in our business. One of the toughest decisions we face is the decision to accept or reject an opportunity of employment. If you’re in a manager’s shoes, you also have to decide whether or not someone is a good or bad fit for your brand. On a personal level, people want to make a good living so they can take care of their families and they want to be surrounded by people who they respect and like working with. They want to perform for a company with a good track record and be seen as a valuable member of the organization but too often during the process, they allow personal friendships and large sums of money to cloud their decisions. They stop doing their homework on the people and companies they may work for because a few good pieces of feedback and a high salary number that meets or exceeds expectation, is enough to turn a blind eye to some potential warning signs.

reputationEqually in danger is the employer. They’re the ones having to decide whether or not you’re worthy of leading the organization, being the face of the brand or an individual worth attaching a client’s message to. They have to be sure that an employee is a reflection of what their company represents and they’re the ones on the hook for large sums of money. They also have to endure battles and have their ducks in a row when explaining the brand’s results and personnel choices. If they don’t pan out or fail to meet expectation, they then have to address those same subjects internally and externally and figure out solutions to get things fixed.

I’ve learned over the past 9 years of programming that the process for hiring someone is much harder than anything you might imagine. I’ve hired people who walked in the door with baggage and I’ve been rewarded strongly for it and I’ve hired people who appeared to be clean as a whistle, yet ended up being dirty. That said, one thing I take pride in and consider extremely important is doing my homework on anyone I hire. I may not end up being right all the time but it won’t be for a lack of due diligence. In numerous cases I’ve spent months evaluating someone before pulling the trigger on hiring them and usually when I’ve operated that way I’ve made smart choices.

ignore2In my opinion, this is a big part of every manager’s job. Not being privy to what every building and company does, I’m not sure if every programmer, personality or radio executive values this the same. Often personalities get blinded by the lure of a bigger time slot and paycheck which feeds their ego and makes them feel more important. General Managers, Sales Managers and Corporate Executives will sometimes look at a person’s track record of ratings, market size and industry reputation and move forward with that person quickly out of fear of losing them rather than dig through the weeds to find out what that person’s background is like.

One of my favorite situations during my career took place in April 2011. I was brought into San Francisco by Entercom to discuss the PD position for what is now known as 95.7 The Game. The discussions and meetings I had been involved in up to that point had been fantastic and I was excited by the possibility of competing in market #4. I knew the company’s reputation and commitment towards doing local sports talk throughout the county was strong and I felt the offer to join them in San Francisco would be to my liking.

SAMSUNGOn Friday night, my girlfriend Stephanie and I headed to a Sharks playoff game with my former General Manager Dwight Walker and on Saturday we were given time to scout the area and make sure it was a good personal fit. I was blown away by the market and knew I wanted to live and work here for the next 4 years. I also was excited about the possibility of working for Dwight and I sensed he felt the same way about having me lead his operation.

Then on Sunday morning, Stephanie and I joined Dwight for breakfast to put the finishing touches on a deal which would bring me to San Francisco. Before we could get to the end of the process though, my girlfriend asked if she could ask a question. I was sitting there thinking “don’t screw this up for me Steph” and after Dwight gave her the nod to ask away, she asked him “why do you want to hire Jason“? It was a simple question but yet very important because it would tell me a lot about what Dwight really knew about me and the way I work.

jbstephTo his credit, he responded by talking about my passion, leadership qualities, track record and values and I could tell he had done a good job of reading me. However, he wasn’t aware of how I operated on a daily basis. My girlfriend then asked “Are you prepared to receive a 6 paragraph email at 2am telling you what needs to be fixed with the radio station to make it perform better? Can you handle it when people in other departments start complaining to you because he has a vision and won’t let them get in the way of it, especially if it relates to the on-air product? What will you do when you hear him passionately getting into it with an on-air personality because he expects stronger preparation and better performance out of them“?

I sat there both stunned and impressed because she knew what my style was like and how much I put into my work and she wanted him to be sure he knew what he was getting into. To Dwight’s credit, he handled it perfectly and said “I guess I’ll have to read more, ask him to keep it down a little from time to time and I’m not interested in hiring someone who can win popularity contests, I want someone who can lead us to the top and stop at nothing to get there. If Jason comes here he will have my full support to do what we need to do to win“.

dwightTo his credit, he lived up to every part of that during our time working together! Because we both did our homework on one another and felt comfortable with what we were each getting, the radio station was built and put in a position to succeed. Anyone who worked inside those walls during the time Dwight and I worked together knew that he and I were on the same page and the expectations were to work hard, continue to grow and not stop until we were a success.

Often when people interview for a job, we react to what they did previously and it’s easy to get caught up in how good they look on paper. We’ll point to their track record and say “He was in the top 3 in market X, sold a ton of endorsements and his style is perfect for this place“. While success in other places is important, it doesn’t always mean it will translate to another market.

IMG_2771For example, I under performed and socially did not connect in St. Louis during my first 2 years there. I spent a ton of time feeling like a fish out of water and was counting the days until I could exit 590 The Fan KFNS and go someplace else. I walked into a situation where my employer was struggling, the morale inside the building was low and I wasn’t completely locked in the way I needed to be. It was a difficult situation for all involved. Here I was, as an East Coast guy living for the first time in the Midwest, going through a divorce and being separated from my son, and all I wanted to do was have enough success to get the heck out of here. I was emotionally drained and unsure if my east coast style was a good fit in St. Louis.

Then one of the best things and turning points of my career happened. I reached an agreement one year later to leave KFNS and spend 6 months on the sidelines clearing my head. Being unemployed for the first time in 10+ years wasn’t easy but I needed to hit the reset button and find out what I was about and what I wanted. It was also the first time in a while that I had failed at something and I had to either pick myself up off the ground and learn from it or continue blaming everyone and everything else for what transpired.

jbrandybernieI was positive I would leave St. Louis and put it in my rear view mirror and I thought for sure I was going to go to Detroit or Houston but as luck would have it, my next opportunity would be less than 5 minutes away. When I accepted my next job working for Bonneville as the first programmer of 101 ESPN, I went into it mentally focused, appreciative of a second chance and excited about where I was living and much more confident in my abilities to perform there. I learned from the mistakes I made during my first run with KFNS and built a special culture inside the walls of 101 ESPN which continues there today. I also learned that there were a lot of good people in St. Louis who loved radio like I did and I was thrilled that I didn’t allow one bad situation to define my opinion of the market. After going thru that experience, St. Louis became very special to me and when I was faced with a decision to leave, it was really hard to say goodbye.

When I reflect back on those two experiences, there’s one valuable lesson that I learned – doing your homework is vital! When I accepted 590 The Fan’s offer I did so while knowing that my family were unhappy in Philadelphia, they felt more comfortable in St. Louis and there weren’t any other PD jobs available. I was also blown away by the company’s performance in Atlanta but I didn’t consider that just because they were performing strong in one place didn’t mean they would succeed somewhere else. Both markets were very different. I was also a big baseball fan and I loved how passionate St. Louis fans were towards the Cardinals and I figured I’d fit right in and have a chance to succeed if I could tap into that connection. Altogether it took me less than 3 weeks to complete the process going to KFNS and my lack of research on what I was getting into put me in a bad spot. That’s nobody else’s fault but my own.

JB and JKOn the other hand, when I went to work for Bonneville in St. Louis we spent nearly 3 months talking and going over various scenarios before the job was offered. I encouraged my former General Manager John Kijowski to do his homework on me and he did. He talked to people who knew what I was about professionally and I asked him to talk to people who weren’t fans of mine too. I wanted him to know what he was getting if he brought me in. I also did my homework on the company, John and the entire market to make sure I could create a plan that would work. There was no hesitation on either end when we reached the finish line together and by going through an exhausting hiring process, Bonneville got my very best and I benefited by working for a great company which supported, trusted and helped me.

If you’re a programmer, sales manager, corporate executive or GM, think back on some of the decisions you’ve made on talent, producers, board operators, reporters, anchors or any other member of your organization. When you’ve hired people to work for you, have you truly done your due diligence? The ratings story can be deceiving and your former co-worker may have great things to say about an individual but do you really know the ins and outs and critical pieces of information that you need to know about who you’re hiring? If a situation hasn’t worked out, why didn’t it? Did you go against your gut and ignore the signs or were you under pressure to get something completed that you rushed to judgment? If you’ve gone through a failed experiment (we all do), how have you learned from those situations and how are you more prepared now when you make hiring decisions than you were 2-3 years ago?

jbdamonToo often in this industry people read press clippings and form opinions off of them and while I understand the importance of researching information based on what’s been written, there’s always more to a story than what you read. If you’re going to hire someone great who moves the needle, don’t be surprised if they produce a few unpopular opinions online when you google their name. If the job is to generate an audience and create buzz for a show, those with strong opinions who toe the line and sometimes step over it are going to be on your list of targets.

For example, I am glad that I didn’t allow a few articles and media critics to influence my decision to hire Damon Bruce in San Francisco. Most great talent have their legion of fans and critics and Damon is no exception. At times he’ll say some things that ruffle a few feathers and we’ve had a few passionate disagreements along the way but I also know him as a person off the air and how much he puts into his work. When I did my homework on him I asked numerous people for feedback and I spent months examining whether or not the fit would make sense. When I reached my decision I felt very comfortable with bringing him on to our team and without question it’s been paid dividends and benefited all involved.

I’ve also nearly hired Tony Bruno and Sean Salisbury during my career and if you google their names you’ll find an unflattering story or two but if you got to know them, what they’re about, how they work and how they perform, you wouldn’t even question whether or not they can help improve your product. All you need to do is look in Philadelphia and Houston and you’ll see them having success and being valuable members of their respective organizations.

kaplan9The same can be said for other top personalities such as Scott Kaplan, Mike Missanelli, Chris Dimino, Stephen A. Smith, Dan McNeil and Sid Rosenberg. All of them possess outstanding talent and strong track records but all have a blemish or two on their resume. Some of them I know well and I wouldn’t hesitate to hire tomorrow if I had a need and they fit my market and brand, and some of them I don’t know and would need to do more homework on. That said, that’s why you go through an extensive hiring process to make sure you’ve given yourself, your company and the candidate the best chance to have a successful relationship together.

While it’s easy to shine the light on this situation from a programmer’s point of view, if you’re an on-air talent there are things you should be examining too before accepting an opportunity.

  • Do you analyze how the company operates and performs in other markets?
  • Do you talk to people involved with those stations to find out how they like working for the company?
  • Do you talk to current or former employees who’ve worked for your potential PD to see how they feel about them?
  • Do you ask advertisers what their perspective is on the company and why they do/don’t buy the product?
  • Do you talk to the local teams or the networks that the radio station partners with to see how they perceive the brand?
  • Have you directly asked the PD or GM what their long-term plans are with the operation?
  • Have you checked into whether or not the company may be looking to sell?

That’s a lot of questions but each one is critical in helping you make a decision about whether or not to explore working for someone.

peteg2If you’re accepting an opportunity based on money and a higher profile time slot you’re setting yourself up for disappointment down the road. An employee-company relationship is a two way street and I remember my friend Pete Gianesini at ESPN Radio once telling me “you’re interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you” and that’s so true. This is your life and your career and this next move could be the catalyst to something big for you professionally or it could be the start of a downward spiral. While the best of intentions may exist today, that’s not always the case tomorrow and both sides need to know what they’re getting into. If you don’t, then it’s going to eat at you again and again if it doesn’t work out!

I stress this not only to the on-air people but to the folks on the company side as well. Whether you’re a GM, Sales Manager, Corporate Programmer or CEO, every sales person, engineer, traffic person, programmer or on-air personality hired, is a reflection of what the company stands for. These people represent you and your brand and that should matter a great deal because you earn or lose respect with every decision that’s made.

Ask The Right Questions on a cork notice boardHere’s a few questions to consider.

  • Are you trusting your managers to hire people independently or are you talking to the candidate as well?
  • Do you know why a person who’s had success or failure in their career had those experiences? Was it a result of their performance or the company’s decisions?
  • Do you know which people inside your building are future leaders and why they’re capable of stepping up or are you just listening to someone who you like/dislike and allowing it to influence how you think?
  • Do you talk to people inside your building to get a read on how they’re connecting with their manager or do you just assume everything is fine and rely on the manager’s feedback to impact your thoughts?

Managing is not easy and nothing puts a bulls eye on your reputation more than the decisions you make. Company’s who are generating millions of dollars are trusting their hosts, programmers, sales executives, GM’s and support staffs to create products that will help them make even more money and you need the right people to implement the plan. No company is in business to not be profitable and one wrong decision can cost you millions if you miss! If you’re going to risk a few million dollars on your next decision, don’t you want to know everything you can possibly know before you act on it?

Do you know what really stings? Having to go to sleep at night, not being able to do the job you love anymore because you skipped a few steps, made mistakes and damaged the brand you represented. Take it from someone who’s been to both ends of the spectrum, the view is much better from up top! So be smart and do your homework. Regardless of how it turns out, you’ll sleep much better at night knowing you did everything in your power to get it right.

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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