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How Important Are Callers To Sports Talk Radio?

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Everybody who loves sports, has an opinion on it, and those who listen to sports radio shows, want to be a part of them. But should they be?

We’ve all heard that classic line “long time listener, first time caller” and depending on your personal preference, you either cringe or smile when you hear it.

caller1I’ve had the benefit during my career to experience a lot of different approaches to creating great sports talk radio. Growing up in New York, callers often drove the content and until I left home to experience other cities, I assumed this was the only way to deliver quality sports talk.

Who could argue? WFAN in New York launched the format, and has been ultra successful for nearly 30 years. They employ great talent, have a pool of fourteen million people to tap into for passionate calls on the area’s nine professional teams, and they’ve had no reason to change their strategy.

Yet when I spent two years in Bristol producing shows for ESPN Radio, we’d rarely take calls. At first I was surprised. If New York had access to fourteen million people, and the lines were flooded, shouldn’t a national network have even more activity?

Well they did, but as I learned quickly on the network level, it was about creating great content, driving the segments, utilizing feedback thru multiple platforms and not relying on people on the outside to carry the conversation. We weren’t a sports bar where people came to have conversations. We were the content provider who was known for delivering insight, opinion, entertainment, huge guests and breaking news.

gilbertOne line my former ESPN Radio boss Bruce Gilbert used to use which I’ve borrowed many times during my career was “If you wouldn’t give the keys to your car to a stranger, why would you give the keys to your radio show to them“?

It was a great point and one that I connected with. I also realized that a national show operates much differently than a local show, so I saw the value in working with talent to create better segments, features, land strong guests and deliver programming that could work across the nation.

When I left the network, I made a move to Philadelphia where the passion of the local community was off the charts. Jody MacDonald was my afternoon drive host at the time, and he was our version of the local bartender who everyone was stopping by to chat with about the day’s local sports stories.

jodymac2Jody was excellent at providing comfort and a good solid back and forth conversation about local topics with local people, and I saw that much like New York, Philadelphia was very passionate, and the need to engage with people on sports talk radio shows was important for having success there.

The only time I can remember being ticked off about a call was when I called Jody in and congratulated him on lining up Mel Kiper, Ron Jaworski and Caller George as guests on the show. He quickly corrected me and said “George wasn’t a guest, he was a caller“. I responded “Given that George had more air time than Mel Kiper, I’m not so sure he wasn’t a guest“.

We both laughed and Jody understood my point and gave me the classic Jodyism “Ok bossman, we’ll try to be better tomorrow“. My point to him that day was that while we wanted people to call and connect with him on the show, we also didn’t want them to control the flow of it.

As I moved on to St. Louis, I noticed that the fans were very different. While New York and Philadelphia were known more for being loose cannons who wanted immediate changes, retribution and instant results, fans in the midwest were more relaxed and happy to digest the content, enjoy the experience and give their teams their trust and respect.

mckWhile at my first stop in St. Louis, 590 The Fan, we took a lot of calls. Our lineup was solid and a few of our personalities were skilled at engaging with local callers, but the value of the calls as a whole wasn’t as strong, and overall our results weren’t great. That confused me.

If the formula worked for local stations in New York and Philadelphia, shouldn’t it work here too?

Not exactly.

The Beard 1 152When I landed my next opportunity in St. Louis with 101 ESPN, I started the brand with the understanding that we were going to control the content flow, build our presentations around informed and entertaining opinions and conversations, quality guests who moved the day’s stories along and fresh production which helped the station skew younger and sound topical.

I had learned the market better and felt strongly that people were much more interested in listening than engaging on the phones and I was fortunate to hire a number of personalities who grasped what I wanted to accomplish, believed in the approach and had the skills necessary to execute the vision.

While we did take calls on occasion, anytime we took them, they were utilized to contribute to the content we were creating and add to the show. We weren’t offering an open forum for them to dictate what the host talks about next, instead they were reacting to what we asked them to react on.

By employing that strategy, we created memorable content, became more interactive through social media and texts and less reliant on calls and as luck would have it we became a force in the market and were consistently top 3, rising to as high as 2nd overall in the format.

Group PicWhen I accepted the position to build 95.7 The Game in San Francisco I was curious about which approach would make more sense. Would we need to operate how a New York or Philadelphia station does or would we follow the path we employed in St. Louis?

One thing to consider, when you’re in each of these situations, you also need to analyze how you measure up against your competitor. If you’re simply going to present the same type of presentation and experience, then why would a local audience flock to your brand when they already have one that they’re comfortable with?

We kicked off the radio station with the focus of driving connection to our personalities through texts and social media. While our competitor was seen as the “old school” brand which relied on calls to drive segments, we wanted to differentiate ourselves and show that we were more in sync with the way the younger part of the demo was living their lives.

texting2If you pay attention to the way a male 18-44 lives their life today, you’ll find that they rarely want to be on the phone. If they are, it’s to read something, send a text, send a tweet or check Facebook. The likelihood of them calling in, sitting on hold for thirty minutes to chat with you for less than two minutes and doing it repeatedly is very slim.

For the first two years we employed that strategy and our social media numbers and engagement were outstanding, our ratings consistently grew and our talent showcased themselves as a content-first product that local fans appreciated.

It became clear that there were different approaches with the two local brands, each provided different value to different people, and as a result, it gave listeners options to choose from.

I remember sitting in a focus group after our first year on the air and a few people inside our group were concerned that we might be using a bad strategy by not being reliant on phone calls. Once again, it works everywhere else so why are we not doing the same thing?

rightIf there’s one thing that drives me crazy in this industry it’s the old “everyone is doing it so why aren’t we“? If the majority of the world operated that way we’d still be using rotary phones and pay phones, the internet wouldn’t exist, we’d listen to music on cassettes and CD’s and sports radio would be the red headed step child inside most clusters, operating on weak AM signals and seen as the first candidate to consider when the company contemplates a format flip.

During the focus group, the question was asked to a number of local listeners about their feelings on the station not being heavy with caller activity. I was confident that we were taking a smart approach and curious to see how local people were receiving it.

focusgroupWhen the room was asked to give a grade, nearly everyone of them said they were thankful that we weren’t operating shows that were built around local calls and they were tuning into the shows to hear the personalities, guests, bits and other ways we entertained.

Afterwards our group chatted and when the subject came up about callers, I was asked if I thought the same approach would make sense in some of the company’s other markets. I responded that while it made sense for us where we were, I wouldn’t take the same approach in some other cities where it’s clear that the passion for caller activity was higher. Case in point, Boston is a hot bed for great sports radio caller participation and not taking calls there wouldn’t be smart.

bruceAs time passed, we’d eventually begin to take more calls on shows, specifically in afternoon drive where my host Damon Bruce was excellent at engaging with local people. Damon was also a solo show, which presents a different plan as opposed to working with someone.

For some of our other shows, which featured more than one personality, we stayed true to our content strategy while bringing in the audience when it made sense to utilize them. We also kept pushing reaction through Text, Twitter and Facebook because the amount of activity in those three locations was much larger than having six to eight phone lines lit.

When I began my career on-air, I remember the thrill of seeing the phone light up when something I was talking about generated a response. It’s an exciting feeling to know that something you say connected with a listener enough to make them respond.

drivingHowever, today there are so many ways to connect and as people listen less and deal with an avalanche of extra distractions, especially while they’re driving, it’s about providing content and making them feel like you’re providing them with insight, opinion and inside information that they can take with them to use with their friends, co-workers and family.

I think there are many factors to be considered when determining whether or not callers should be utilized to add value to your programming.

  • How does your competitor operate and how are you presenting a different presentation?
  • Are they driving your content or are you utilizing them as props to advance the content you’re discussing?
  • How long are you keeping them on for? Is it an open bar conversation where the discussion lasts five to six minutes or is it a network approach where they’re on for less than sixty seconds?
  • Are they making your personalities look smarter, funnier, more likable or are they adding a level of entertainment to the show that would be missed if it weren’t available?
  • Is your host comfortable and interested in connecting with people? Do they operate better off-the-cuff or when they know what’s coming? Are they better served using a recorded call or taking it live?
  • Who’s screening the call, coaching the caller and working with your talent to make sure the pace keeps moving and the show doesn’t go off the rails in a bad way?

One pet peeve of mine, if you’re screening a call, make sure the caller has the radio turned down before they get on-air. They’re not going to hear themselves in real time given the station’s delay.

Also, tell the caller not to ask your host how he or she is doing and simply be ready to dive into the conversation when they’re called upon. The host is fine or they wouldn’t be at work, and the goal is to keep the pace of the show moving, and advance the topic, not bring everything to a screeching halt.

I recognize there’s a big difference in audio entertainment value between reading a text or tweet and taking a good call, but there’s also something to be lost when you take a bad call as opposed to controlling the content flow and reading a short text or tweet.

bernieAs a fan of both, I can listen to a host like Bernie Miklasz in St. Louis deliver a monologue and opinion for an hour, and not care less if he ever engages with a local listener. Yet if I’m in New York driving during the morning, I love hearing Craig Carton go at it with people and throw in some verbal jabs and one-liners to make the audience nuts.

I recall listening to Mark Chernoff talk about this subject last year in San Diego and he said something that stuck with me about the way Mike Francesa views his callers. He said “Mike’s view is that when someone calls the show, they go from being a listener to becoming a part of the show”.

I thought that made a lot of sense, and in listening to Mike over the years, that approach has definitely worked for him.

finebaumIf you’ve ever listened to Paul Finebaum he’s got a very similar approach which also has worked. His audience is at times delusional, hysterical and the entertainment value you gain from listening to him connect with his listeners is enjoyable to listen to. Some won’t like it, others will, but it works for him.

That doesn’t mean though that a host who doesn’t pound phone lines for 3-4 hours can’t be successful or create an excellent program. I’ve seen tons of talent operate that way and have a lot of success.

dpcolinIt’s sort of like trying to pick a favorite national host between Dan Patrick, Jim Rome and Colin Cowherd. They’re all great and for different reasons and you’re going to listen to them when you’re in the mood for their specific brand of content.

Many will listen to Dan Patrick for his interviews, others will turn to Jim Rome to hear him interact with his callers and Colin Cowherd’s going to be your destination for strong opinions and interesting viewpoints. All three have different styles and execute differently and that’s what makes them unique.

For every host like Francesa who sees the value in making the audience part of the show, there are others like Tim and Sid in Toronto who have a different approach.

timsidWhile their show has moved recently from radio to television, when asked about the transition to the visual side they responded by saying “Our radio show proved you could literally interact, without taking phone calls, with your audience and react in real-time to any news that is going on at the time, or whatever is hot and topical on that day. So now the question is how to take that to TV.”

This is a subject that we all have opinions on and while we’re all going to stay true to what we believe and enjoy, the truth is that there is no right way or wrong way to incorporate callers. Are they valuable to a show? That’s debatable depending on who you ask.

In my opinion, each situation depends on what feels comfortable to the on-air talent, what makes the brand unique in the local marketplace and what type of personality traits exist with your product and how valuable will they be to your on-air presentation.

In the end its all about entertaining the audience and keeping them listening. If you dedicate more content time to your talent or you involve your local listeners more and it works, who can argue with it? And after all, isn’t that the point?

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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