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Do Sports Radio Stations Need Slogans?

Jason Barrett



Turn on a sports radio station today, and you can’t go an hour without being reminded of the station’s slogan. Over and over again you’re beaten across the brain with a fancy message that tells you how great your local radio station is, and which city they operate in.

But do they matter? Do they make a difference? Are they necessary?


Well that depends on who you ask.

Some of the most opinionated, right-seeking people on the planet, work in the sports talk format. Line up 10 people and ask them to weigh in on this subject, and you’ll get 10 different answers, and they’ll all be pretty convincing, and interesting.

Except nobody is right. It’s simply a matter of personal preference. What we often forget, is that there are multiple ways to create a brand, and communicate the radio station’s position, while developing an identity and delivering winning results.


For example, listen to a local CBS sports radio station and then listen to a local market ESPN radio station. You’ll notice a stark contrast between the two.

On a CBS sports talker you’ll hear a lot of calls, a looser content flow, and commercial breaks without programming promos. Instead the station’s use liners in and out of segments to promote special broadcasts, games, giveaways and other special events.

When you turn on an ESPN sports radio station, you’re likely to hear a lot more production, a tighter format, less calls, more audio clips, and commercial breaks usually include at least one or two programming promos.


While CBS prefers to use their inventory time during breaks to focus solely on commercials, and return to content, ESPN prefers to mix it up between commercials, and promote programming benefits that occur on the radio station.

In both cases, it works because there’s a different strategy for each product. If the on-air presentation reflects the station’s vision, and it’s producing results, that’s all that matters.

So after listening to a number of sports stations this week, and the different ways they position themselves, it got me to thinking about whether or not slogans are really critical.


For example, when you listen to a music station, you’re going to endure an avalanche of messaging. The stations usually are programmed so strongly with songs, and commercials, that when that little bit of time is available to them to say something, they reinforce who they are.

The difference with sports talk is that we have opportunities to promote our messages during commercial breaks, AND during content, whereas songs restrict a music format’s ability to do both.

Rather than approach this strictly from a radio point of view, I want you to think about some of the world’s best brands, and the way you view and talk about them.

If I said to you, Nike – chances are you’d know the slogan “Just Do It“.


If I asked you to name a slogan used by Geico, McDonald’s and Budweiser, you’d likely recall “15 minutes could save you 15% on car insurance, I’m Loving It and the King of Beers or This Bud’s For You“.

When a message is promoted heavily, and it represents the brand in an accurate way, it can have a major impact. No example is better right now than Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again“.

While you may like or dislike Trump and his positions, everywhere you turn that message is reinforced. He’s wisely worked it into every interview he conducts, and every press conference he holds, and it reflects what he wants to do if he’s elected President of the United States of America. Whether he can deliver on his slogan’s message is another story for another time.

As an industry, radio isn’t necessarily strong when it comes to creating powerful slogans. That’s scary because we’re often tasked with writing commercial copy, promos, liners and on-air mentions. If anyone should be skilled at writing and creating strong positions, it’s us but there aren’t a lot of companies who analyze the writing, and effectiveness of a message created by the programming and production departments. There’s also a lack of coaching and training available to radio professionals as it applies to improving as writers.


One other aspect of slogans that I see radio stations miss on, is that they’re often built around telling listeners what to think, how to feel and why the brand is so great. The focus gets put on the brand’s view of itself, not the benefits or connection it provides to the audience. I’m not sure how you feel about it, but I like to form my own opinions. I don’t need a packaged liner playing every 15 minutes to help me decide how to feel about a product.

People who listen to sports radio want to feel important to the brand they spend time with, and they want to believe they carry a little bit of influence in determining how the brand operates. When the message is built the needs and desires of the audience, the listener will spend more time helping you spread it.

As someone who has written a lot of promos, liners, on-air mentions, and bits, throughout the years, I’ve certainly delivered my fair share of clunkers, so I know how challenging it can be. While we all want to be creative, and produce an amazing message, our strengths are often in verbal communication, not written form.


Even when we do create something powerful, and effective with our words, it takes a lot of time, and patience. Unless you’ve been part of the process of creating a brand message, people on the outside fail to understand that being creative is a process, and it can’t be scheduled. Ideas come to you when you least expect them, and you can’t put a 30-minute writing session on your calendar, and expect that you’ll come out of it with the world’s best slogan. It doesn’t work that way.

When you try to operate that way, you usually come away with something terrible like this:

“(Name of City), home for the best local sports talk, (Station Dial Position)”

You can put the voice of Jim and Dawn Cutler, Paul Turner or Steve Stone behind it, and they’ll make it sound as good as humanly possible, but even they can’t turn turds into diamonds.

Are we really convinced as programmers, talent and executives that if we don’t create a slogan for our brand, that the audience won’t know what it is? Isn’t the audience smarter than that?


When was the last time you had a conversation about a sports talk radio station with a friend, or family member, and said “I listen to WFAN, because it’s my Flagship Station for New York Sports“? That’s not how people talk when describing your brand, and why they enjoy it.

If they’re talking about your product, they’re going to recall three specific things – the personalities on the air, the station’s dial position, and the name of the brand. The conversation sounds more like this – “I listen to 98.7 ESPN NY because I like the Michael Kay show“.

Slogans may feel necessary in the conference room, and they may look great on a white board, but unless they’re powerful, focused on the listener, and important to the identity of the brand, you can do without them. The time that gets spent in trying to create clever messaging for a :10 second legal ID, station liner, or station promo, can make your head spin.


Is this critical to what we do? Is it where our time is best spent? Would the station you work for suffer tomorrow if the audience wasn’t aware that you were their city’s destination for sports radio?

In researching this topic, I found a few messages that impressed me, and some which didn’t. Bear in mind, these are my opinions, and yours may be different, so take it for whatever it’s worth.

Here are the three slogans that didn’t register with me.

  • “Real Sports Talk”
  • “Sports Radio With Balls”
  • “All Sports, All The Time”

“Real Sports Talk” implies that nobody else in the market talks about sports in a serious way, and it suggests that the brand never deviates from that plan, which isn’t true. It also doesn’t create a sense of power for the audience, or something memorable to identify with. If other brands in the market also talk about sports, how does this make the station unique?

In the case of “Sports Radio With Balls“, I’m guessing that the station is trying to play off of the fact that they carry LIVE play by play except, they don’t have the rights to the market’s only major professional sports team. This particular message is one that is going to come out of the mouth’s of every on-air talent. While it may feel, and sound natural for some, it won’t for others. Also, as sports radio adds more women listeners, do you think they want to hear this? It comes across very male-focused, and while I understand it, especially when considering the competitor they’re up against, and the Men 25-54 focus, I think there’s room for something else that represents the brand, and gives the talent more pride when they say it.

The final one, “All Sports, All The Time” is actually pretty solid, but if you know the brand I’m referring to, it’s not at all accurate. The content experience, and personalities on the radio station, focus much of their material around guy-talk, and they’re outstanding at it, and the audience loves it. Yes they talk sports too, but they’re built around entertainment, and lifestyle so if the message isn’t going to reflect what the brand represents, why use this approach?


When a slogan is created well, it can register and make a difference. For example, ESPN bills itself as “The Worldwide Leader In Sports” which many would say is exactly who they are. I also liked Apple’s “Think Different“, TNT’s “We Know Drama“, TBS’ “Very Funny” and Outback Steakhouse’s “No Rules Just Right” because I believe they provide an accurate description of each brand.

Looking at those last few examples, notice anything similar? Each of them is short, sweet and in line with their brand’s presentation. If you can’t describe the brand, what it does, and what it stands for in 10 words or less, make adjustments. The more you need to explain, the more confused people become. There’s a reason why these companies, and the others I listed earlier in this column, stand out. They say a lot with very little.

In listening across the country, I did hear a number of brands that I thought were very good. In each case, I noticed that they weren’t only strong performers in their respective markets, but they also keep the message very simple. This made it easy to recall, and that’s important when trying to invade a listener’s head space.

  • Arizona Sports 98.7FM (the brand name, dial position, frequency)
  • The Mighty 1090 (focus is strictly on the brand name/dial position)
  • Rip City Radio 620 – Portland’s Blazers Station (highlights the brand name which plays off of a term that local people are proud to be associated with, dial position and the relationship with the city’s only professional franchise)

I noticed that many CBS Sports Stations keep it simple, and focus solely on the brand name and dial position which is similar to what Arizona Sports and the Mighty 1090 are doing, and I think that is smart. ESPN Radio stations that I listened to highlight the four letters, and cities which they operate in, which is part of their operational philosophy, and also makes sense.


There was one slogan I liked a lot, but learned is no longer being utilized. Sports Radio 810 WHB in Kansas City used to use the position “Powered By Fans“, which was excellent because it gave the audience a sense of pride, passion, and ownership in the radio station. They’ve since switched to “The Power of Sports” and I’m sure there was a reason for it, but I personally preferred the original one.

I don’t claim to be right on all of this, but I’m simply making the point that the format can thrive without the use of a slogan. There are a lot of things that we do in this business, simply because someone else before us did it. That doesn’t mean it’s right, needed or valuable.


If you look at sports radio and the way it has grown over the last 30 years, it’s very different. Yet we continue to do some of the same things that we originally did because we’re creatures of comfort. We preach about the importance of change, taking risks, and introducing new ideas, but as soon as someone does, they’re met with resistance.

As our format faces new challenges, and enters unchartered waters during the next 30 years, we can’t afford to be one track minded, and stuck in our 1990’s views. That mentality will cost us listeners, and a whole lot of revenue.

If you can show me a radio station being weakened with its audience, or a station’s ratings suffering due to the loss of a slogan, I’ll gladly adjust my line of thinking. But there is value in my point of view, and I believe failed performance goes a lot deeper than the loss of one simple brand message.

If you’re going to use a slogan on your radio station, make it mean something. Otherwise you’re cluttering your airwaves with additional white noise, and taking away time from your best asset – your on-air talent!


I once read a quote from former Florida State Football Coach Bobby Bowden which stuck with me and it fits perfectly for this subject. Bowden told his sons when they were considering entering the coaching profession “If you can live without coaching, don’t get into it. But if you can’t live without it, go right ahead“.

Now give that some thought, and ask yourself “Would my radio station’s slogan be missed if it was pulled off the air tomorrow“? The answer you come up with should determine what you do next with it!

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett




Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett




The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett




When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have for sports, and for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on and sports gets less crowded on We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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