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15 Talents You May Not Know, But Should!

Jason Barrett

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When you think of the biggest names in sports radio, Colin Cowherd, Dan Patrick, Mike and Mike, Jim Rome, and Mike Francesa are names that come to mind. There’s a good reason for that, they’ve all been successful, and have performed on brands that are well known to listeners and industry professionals.

While many of these personalities are outstanding, and have received their due for the great work they’ve produced during the course of their careers, there are many others who fly under the radar. Identifying great talent on familiar brands isn’t exactly rocket science, but discovering authentic, unique and entertaining personalities across the country, in unfamiliar territory can be quite the challenge.

For a programmer, the job is similar to that of a professional scout. Anyone can recognize LeBron James in high school and determine that he’ll make an impact on the next level. If you don’t, you should probably stop scouting. But not every scout travels to Baxter Springs, Kansas and discovers Mickey Mantle while initially looking at one of his teammates.

I thought it’d be fun to to shine the light on some deserving personalities who I’ve had a chance to listen to and are worthy of some praise. Some of these hosts are well established in their existing markets, but not necessarily familiar beyond their local regions.

To make sure we’re on the same page, let me state that this is not a Top 15 list. It’s a piece that offers insight into the styles and attributes of fifteen different radio hosts across the country.

Also, if a personality I chose to highlight is involved in a program that includes one or multiple partners, this doesn’t mean that the others on the show aren’t good or don’t play a critical role. This is a subjective analysis based on my own personal tastes, and the objective is to make them and their work more familiar to anyone who enjoys listening to sports radio.

I hope you enjoy the column, and if you follow me on Twitter and wouldn’t mind retweeting it, I’d greatly appreciate it.

20-CoryCCory “Sludge” Cove – KFAN Minneapolis – Few brands have delivered better than KFAN in Minneapolis. Paul Allen, Dan Barreiro and The Common Man receive most of the credit for it, however discounting Cory and the morning show’s contributions would be a big mistake. Afterall, the program just hit #1 in the market last week!

“Sludge” as he’s affectionately known to Minneapolis listeners, has a great sound, and is a big part of the popular morning show “The Power Trip“. For listeners who prefer a heavy sports focus, and deep level of discussion and analysis, this show won’t likely meet your expectations. In my opinion, it’s a program that wanders through the desert without a compass, and embraces every part of the journey.

The ingredients that make it special, are a heavy dose of guy-talk, laughter, unscripted conversations, and a little bit of sports. The show skews younger, incorporates a lot of funny audio clips, and offers a similar production value to what you’ll hear on top performing FM music morning shows.

Case in point, last week during the span of one hour, the show discussed the Minnesota Wild’s home opener, Madonna and Lady Gaga, Fantasy Football, the new Steve Jobs movie, the upcoming Vikings game, and the different styles of Republicans and Democrats.

You may read that last paragraph and ask “where is this show going“, and if you’re a person who’s used to listening to heavily formatted talk shows, this one may take some time to warm up to. I’m a big believer though in creating content that feels loose, and showcases what personalities do best, and the formula this show uses has registered with the audience, while putting the talent in position to showcase their best attributes.

From an individual standpoint, you can hear how much fun Cory has guiding the morning show. He interacts well with his crew, enjoys discussing all aspects of pop culture, politics, music, sports, and everyday issues, and has a strong ability to shift gears and keep the audience on their toes. He also has no problem presenting an opinion or generating a reaction.

A natural entertainer who’s been a big part of KFAN’s success, Cory earns my praise for the way he conducts the show, and for helping it establish its own identity in the Minneapolis market. To hear Cory’s show click here.

20-AJHAJ Hoffman – 97.5 ESPN Houston – One of the first things I noticed when listening to AJ’s show with Fred Faour was the production value. It’s excellent. Tons of sound, actualities, current and high energy rock music beds, and it all compliments AJ’s style perfectly. With the show on FM (ESPN 97.5) and competing against two familiar AM brands, there’s a big commitment to the presentation and it works. You often hear the term “Old School Meets New School” in the sports radio format, and Fred and AJ are a great example of that dynamic working well.

What I like about AJ as a talent is that he’s very authoritative, energetic, and unfiltered. His background as an MMA fighter probably factors into that. Last week for example he questioned whether or not Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien was good at his job, and if he deserved the same type of venom from Texas sports fans that Charlie Strong was receiving.

I’ve also heard AJ call out other media personalities who he believes mail in their performance. He’s gone on record and stated that he feels Jim Rome relies on the same tired shtick and needs to modify his material, and whether you agree with him or not, there’s no disputing where he stands, and he doesn’t back down.

AJ also brings a good sense of humor to the airwaves, and looks for opportunities to create laughter on the show. His chemistry with his partner is very strong too. I find myself immersed in the content when he’s delivering his opinions because they’re easy to follow, and delivered with conviction. To hear some of AJ’s work on ESPN 97.5 click here.

20-AnthonySAnthony Stalter – 101 ESPN St. Louis – When you’re working for a successful brand that features Bernie Miklasz, Chris Duncan, Randy Karraker, D’Marco Farr, and Kevin Wheeler, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Make no mistake about it though, Anthony is an intracle part of the station’s success.

Having started with the station as a Producer of the afternoon show, Program Director Chris “Hoss” Neupert saw on-air ability in Anthony early on. When the station lost midday host Bernie Miklasz in 2013 (he’s since returned to host morning drive), filling his void was no easy task. Neupert took a gamble, and moved Duncan off of the afternoon show, and gave Stalter his on-air shot as his partner, and two years later the pairing has paid off.

When you listen to Anthony, you take away a number of things. First, he has an excellent voice, and sets the tone for the program. Second, he has a great sense of what the local audience is interested in, and he leads Chris into good situations.

You’ll also hear someone who takes his preparation seriously. That serves him well when discussing baseball topics with Chris. Sometimes it can be difficult for a radio guy to feel confident when they’re sitting across from a partner who’s played the game at the highest level, but Chris values Anthony’s assessments, and that helps build his credibility with the audience.

Anthony understands when to start the content with his own opinion, and push Dunc to respond, but also when to sit back, and let Chris take over. The energy on the show is high, and there’s no shortage of self-deprecation when they screw something up. Because they share a mutual love and interest talking about sports, and their ages aren’t far apart, they connect as a team, and have a lot of fun on the air. To hear Anthony’s show click here.

20-ChrisKChris Kroeger – 610 The Fan Charlotte – When you listen to Chris, you may come away with the opinion that he’s a homer for his local teams, and that’s ok because he admits that he is. The word “we” comes up often when he’s discussing his local teams, and quite frankly, I like that. If you listen to him, you’ll recognize quickly how invested he is in the market’s local teams.

At only 28 years old, Chris is still coming into his own as a personality, but what he’s put together so far is extremely impressive. His energy, enthusiasm, and relatability are easy to detect, and with the show’s format featuring different contributors, he shows he can be a chameleon and adapt to any situation.

In listening to the banter last week between Chris and Mushin Muhammad, you can tell he appreciates the position he’s in, and works hard to pull out great material from those who contribute to the program.

If you’re looking for a talk show host fueled by negativity, Chris won’t be your cup of tea. He looks to present an informative conversation built around finding solutions, and a show that highlights the connection between the host, its guests, and the audience. The pace is fast, his command of the program is strong and easy to follow, and his discussions with his guests are extended and provide great engaged listening.

I also hear a lot of sound utilized during the show. One particular skill Chris possesses is an ability to react well off of it. He uses audio to set up his points and create emotional responses, and when executed that way, it can pay great dividends. To hear Chris’ show click here.

20-JonathanZJonathan Zaslow – 790 The Ticket Miami – If I could only use one word to describe Jonathan, it would be entertaining! His pairing with Joy Taylor on 790 The Ticket makes for a great listen, and one of the best parts of their show is how willing and comfortable each of them are with putting their lives on display for the audience.

Zaslow will attempt voices when the moment calls for it, he’s been hypnotized on the air, and one of the show’s staples, “The wheel of humiliation” puts members of the show in a position to pay the price if they pick NFL games poorly. A few weeks ago Dan Le Batard and Stugotz asked for permission to steal the bit and use it with their national audience, and Jonathan demonstrated in that moment that he can deliver some bite too.

What I like most about his style is that he has fun, great energy, a strong rapport with his crew, and there are no restrictions on what he’ll discuss. He can get into a detailed conversation about the problems with the Heat, or venture into an area that causes your jaw to drop.

For example, yesterday morning he talked about his preference for candle wax over a tickle feather inside the dungeon at his home. Does he really have one? Is he saying something for effect? Perhaps, but it led to some very funny conversation between himself, Joy, and Brett Romberg, and that ability to keep the audience guessing is a real strength.

If you’re commuting to work in Miami, and looking to laugh and learn a little about sports and the characters involved on the morning show, you’ll love what Jonathan brings to the table. The show cares about the local teams, is comfortable in any setting, lets creative content evolve organically, and each member of the show cares about connecting with the audience. To hear Jonathan’s show click here.

20-AaronGAaron Goldhammer – ESPN 850 WKNR Cleveland – Aaron has been a fixture of the Cleveland sports scene for close to ten years, and his passion, sense of humor, and sarcasm, serve him well in connecting with his audience on WKNR.

He got his start, and developed his personality by working with one of Cleveland’s best personalities Tony Rizzo, and since leaving Rizzo’s show, he’s more than held his own as host of “The Golden Boyz” with Emmett Golden.

It won’t take you long to notice Aaron taking command of the room when he hosts his program. He’s a high volume, and high energy type of talent, and that’s a great fit in a passionate market such as Cleveland. He’ll intertwine sports and pop culture when opportunities arise, and Aaron won’t hesitate to take the audience behind the curtain and give them a sense of the chaos that unfolds with the staff each day.

The music on the program skews younger, and there’s a heavy content focus on Cleveland sports, which is presented with a “pray for the best, but prepare for the worst” type of mindset. That plays right into the emotional spirit of the local fan base and who he is as a local talent. To hear Aaron’s show click here.

20-DougFDoug Franz – Arizona Sports 98.7FM – There are few local market shows that have enjoyed the longevity, and success that “Doug and Wolf” have in Phoenix. While Ron Wolfley possesses a big personality, and is one of the most entertaining people I’ve listened to in the format, Doug is an exceptional broadcaster who’s skill can be overlooked if you don’t pay attention.

There’s an art to pulling out the best material from an authentic talent like Wolfley, and Franz does it very well. He’s shown over the years that he’s not afraid to stand up and assert his own voice, but he also realizes that getting Wolf going is critical to the show’s success.

I’ve noticed over the years a growing confidence in Doug to assert himself, and start conversations with his own opinion and put Wolf in the reactor position. Early on in the show’s history, there was a bigger focus in getting Wolf’s opinion first, and reacting off of him. That shows growth, trust and understanding in Doug and Wolf’s relationship.

Another area where I’ve seen Doug improve is with his ability to present himself as the expert. He’s done a great job sharing the insight he gains from working on the sidelines during football games, and there was no better example than this past Monday when the show discussed Steve Sarkisian’s alcohol issues. Hearing Doug offer a firsthand account of what he witnessed during the game while working on the sidelines was must listen radio.

Equally deserving credit are his topic selection, pacing, and preparation. On Monday’s show for example, I listened for a full hour and during that period, three quarters of the content revolved around the Arizona Cardinals. There were plenty of other selections to choose from, but instead they played the hits and provided the content that had the largest audience appeal. When hosts approach their segments with the listener’s best interest in mind, they usually win, and Doug and Wolf have done a lot of it. To hear Doug’s show click here.

20-ChrisVChris Vernon – 92.9 ESPN Memphis – Originally from St. Louis, Chris has been a fixture on the Memphis airwaves since 2004. I became aware of him when I started working in Missouri in 2006. Three years later when I was building 101 ESPN, he was one of the first people I reached out to about possibly joining the radio station.

While that situation didn’t materialize, one of the biggest reasons I was interested is because he always sounds like he’s having fun. Chris has an infectious energy, genuine interest in sports, presents himself as the voice of the local sports fan, and his interviews with high profile guests often sound like conversations between two friends.

A good example of this is when Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace appears on his program. While some shows spend 10-12 minutes with a guest, hit the important stuff and then move on, Chris won’t hesitate to keep a guest for 30-40 minutes if they’re interesting. His chats with Wallace often run longer, and never feel fatiguing.

If there’s another area of his game that stands out, it’s his understanding and willingness to embrace the responsibility of working with clients and helping them earn business. This comes from having worn multiple hats and performed as an on-air talent, and sales person. Personalities who’ve done both jobs develop an appreciation for how difficult it is, and they usually do a better job on the air with helping clients experience success.

I find that Chris is more likely to inform and entertain than divide an audience with his opinions, and he likes to use music throughout the show to add flavor to it. You’ll also hear produced pieces utilized when guests appear, which I think adds a nice touch. To hear Chris’ show on 92.9 ESPN click here.

20-GrantPGrant Paulsen – 106.7 The Fan Washington DC – In sports radio circles outside of Washington DC, Grant is still an unknown commodity, but he might be familiar to you if you were a viewer of the David Letterman Show. As a child, Grant contributed to the late night program, and while that made him familiar to national audiences, it’s the work he’s doing now with Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan that I’m most impressed by.

First, he comes across on the air as a very likeable personality. He’s emotionally invested in the local market’s teams, and his preparation and ability to provide you with something you didn’t know is very strong. As the point guard of the show, he navigates the program smoothly, and keeps a good steady pace. I also enjoy the chemistry that exists between him and Danny.

What I’m even more impressed by is how easy he makes it for the audience to tune in and follow along. His teasing is fantastic, but his ability to pay it off is even stronger. Nothing frustrates audiences more, than sitting through commercials to hear a host provide an answer to something they teased, only to not receive what they were promised.

On Tuesday for example Grant referenced the situation in NY where a caller cried on Mike Francesa’s show. He promised to play the audio, and offer his and Danny’s thoughts on the last time sports made them cry. When the show returned from break, Grant immediately reset the story, played the audio, and discussed the Jeffrey Maier incident during the Yankees-Orioles playoff game in 1996, and how it made them both emotional. They then gave a few more examples, and asked the audience to share their stories, and the result was ten good minutes of radio. The following segment led in with Faith Hill’s “Cry” which demonstrated that the production team is in sync with the hosts, and have a great sense of how to use music, and sound to compliment the content.

While these things may not seem like a big deal to some, it’s that type of execution, and entertainment value that keeps shows winning. When great ability and chemistry are combined with a smart approach to creating good radio, good results follow. To hear Grant’s show click here.

20-ChrisMChris Mueller – 93.7 The Fan Pittsburgh – In 2008 Chris won a competition called “Top Fan” on the now defunct “ESPN 1250” which gave him his radio break. 7 years later, he’s taken hold of afternoon drive on 93.7 The Fan with Joe Starkey, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Don’t let the youthful photo fool you. While Chris still has his best years ahead of him, when you tune into his program, he sounds like an experienced pro. He’s got a very strong delivery, and presence, and is well spoken. He lives and breathes Pittsburgh sports, and puts a heavy emphasis on Steelers content which shows he’s in tune with what moves the audience most.

The Starkey and Mueller show comes across as a program which has been together for years, yet has only been in place since February 2013. When you single out Chris, you hear a confident personality who is quick on his feet, brash, unapologetic, and asks the questions that local fans are thinking about. While Starkey may be one of the best and most respected sports figures in the market, Chris doesn’t let that stop him from establishing his own voice.

His opinions often produce the largest response, his energy is excellent, and his emotional connection to the local teams serve him well and are a big reason why The Fan’s future remains very bright. To hear Chris’ show click here.

brentBrent Dougherty – 104.5 The Zone Nashville – A little known fact is that The Zone in Nashville is one of the highest rated sports stations in the country. The afternoon show 3HL (Three Hour Lunch) which is hosted by Brent Dougherty, Mickey Ryan, and former NFL defensive back Blaine Bishop, is a big reason for it.

What makes it work is the comradery that exists between the three personalities. Ryan joined the mix only thirteen months ago, and prior to his arrival, the multi-talented Clay Travis was part of the program for five years. Regardless of the talent mix, the show has moved along like a freight train and continued to dominate the market.

Although he could pat himself on the back for what the show has accomplished, that’s not how Brent operates. On one of his profiles he states that the daily goal for 3HL is to make sure it is the most fun, fast paced, highly interactive, opinion driven and creative sports talk radio show possible. If you listen to it, you can hear it check those boxes pretty frequently.

Despite the program offering three distinct personalities, Brent does a few specific things to stand out. First, he’s been blessed with an incredible set of pipes. His voice is full and helps him distinguish himself on the show.

Second, he does a really good job of interacting with his partners, and callers, and his warm personality makes him easy to listen to. He presents subjects that suit the audience’s interests, and Blaine and Mickey trust, and follow his lead, especially during interviews.

As it relates to conversations with guests, he asks good questions, and treats those who appear on the show with respect, and makes them feel comfortable. They in turn provide him with good information. I heard three different examples of this working to perfection.

He had Michelle Beadle explain why she wanted to appear on Sharknado. He led Ernest Byner into talking like a pirate, and he got Charissa Thompson to fire a few friendly jabs at former partner Clay Travis, and express her appreciation for Eddie George’s male model looks.

While the show performs well because of the trio, it’s clear that Brent is the engine that moves it along. His influence and ability to direct the show expertly are a big reason for its success. To hear Brent’s show click here.

20-DannyPDanny Parkins – 610 Sports Kansas City – I first became aware of Danny when he was hosting his own program in Syracuse, NY and I describe him as one of those talents who is wise beyond his years. Paired with Carrington “CDot” Harrison on 610 Sports in Kansas City, the duo have an infectious energy and passion that has catapulted their program to the top of the ratings in afternoon drive.

When you listen to him, you can hear a talent who has a great handle on how to run a show. He’s focused with his opinions, and delivers them with confidence, but doesn’t belabor his points. He presents content that has the largest appeal to the local audience, and finds different ways to approach topics and keep himself and his partner engaged. He’ll use additional evidence to help defend his positions, but isn’t afraid to acknowledge when he’s wrong, and make fun of himself.

For example, I caught the opening thirty minutes of the show yesterday to hear how local fans were reacting the day after the Royals knocked off the Astros and advanced to the ALCS. From the opening production piece (which was absolutely brilliant) assembled by producer Ben Heisler, to the opening conversation between Danny and Carrington about how wrong they were about Johnny Cueto, it was some of the best content available in the format, period! If you have fifteen minutes to spare, go take a listen for yourself. Here’s the link.

What I enjoy and appreciate about Danny is how seriously he treats his position. I hear resets inside the content, teases to leave the audience pondering the answer, and a solid understanding of how to get the best out his partner, while still getting his own touches. When you add in the fact that he’s originally from Chicago but has embraced the local market, and made it his own, you can see why he’s had success. To hear Danny’s show click here.

20-MichaelGMichael Grady – The Fan Indianapolis – He’s the public-address announcer for the Indiana Pacers, but his soothing tones on Emmis’ Indianapolis sports station “The Fan”, are where he’s making his biggest impact.

What’s impressive about Michael, is that he’s still under thirty years old, yet sounds mature beyond his years. He’s a guy who has paid his dues behind the scenes before getting his on-air shot alongside former NFL player Joe Staysniak, but if you listen to him host his show, you’ll recognize quickly that he was born to be on a microphone.

What I love about Michael is how smooth and upbeat he sounds when hosting his program. He has this certain swagger with his delivery that jumps through the speakers, and he comes across as a likeable and approachable human being. He’s respectful when interacting with his partner and high profile sports figures, but firm when necessary. That approach carries over to the way he interacts with his callers too

One of my favorite segments is when former NFL and College Football Coach Rick Venturi stops by. Rick is a savant when it comes to the subject of football, and Michael does an excellent job of asking good questions, and knowing when to push for more. Their rapport is strong, and I’m sure it leads to an increase in local listening.

When you combine those traits with strong knowledge and a deep passion for Indianapolis sports, you have a winning combination. To hear Michael’s show click here.

20-GuyHGuy Haberman – 95.7 The Game San Francisco – I may be a little biased here because I discovered Guy in Fresno, and hired him at 95.7 The Game, but I believe he’s an incredible talent who’s just starting to hit the prime of his career.

When I scouted him in Fresno I was drawn in by his preparation, maturity, likeability, and polished presentation. My initial reaction was that I was listening to a young Dan Patrick. At that time, Guy was 27, and had only been on the air as a host for a few years, but he sounded as if he’d been doing the job for 10-12 years. I brought him into San Francisco to host evenings, and his skill and work ethic have since led him into middays, pre/post on Sacramento Kings games on Comcast television, play by play for the Pac-12 Network, and play by play duties on Oakland Athletics broadcasts.

What I think makes Guy a special talent on the air, is that he doesn’t talk down to the audience, and his love for sports is genuine and comes across in everything he does. It doesn’t matter what sport is on television and which team’s are playing. If an athletic competition is taking place, he’s likely to watch it and take something away from the experience.

His chemistry and friendship with his on-air partner John Middlekauff also can’t be taught. Their connection off the air is even stronger than the one they share on the air, and that friendship, and understanding of each other is a big reason why the show has gone as high as #1 in the ratings.

Overall you’ll find excellent content selection, good interviews, a smart and informed sports conversation, and a good positive vibe when you listen to him. To hear Guy’s show click here.

gbag2015Gavin Dawson – 105.3 The Fan – Without a doubt, Gavin is one of the most polished and smooth lead hosts anywhere in the country. He carries the moniker “The General” which perfectly describes his role on the show. You can listen minute by minute and feel the program moving into interesting content areas, and that’s often the result of Gavin’s decision making.

Keep in mind, he drives this show for five hours, and has to control it while working with a large cast. The show includes Chris Arnold, Mike Bacsik, and Jeff Cavanaugh, and Gavin won’t hesitate to pull in other cast members if he feels they can add something of value to the show.

I think the crew do an incredible job of picking their spots, avoiding stepping on each other, and allowing the flow of the conversation to develop. There seems to be a mindset of “we” rather than “me” which is important. I noticed that each host gets their touches, and when they do, the interjections are delivered in short bursts. This keeps the content moving, and prevents the program from becoming fatiguing.

One of Gavin’s best attributes is his ability to decipher when the show needs an in-depth discussion on a serious sports issue, and when a couple of laughs are necessary. As a radio lifer, I respect how committed he is to executing the formatics, and how prepared he is heading in and out of his breaks. For example, I listened on October 1st, and during the final hour of the show, these were his teases:

  • Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t want one of “those” when he retires…we’ll explain next!
  • It’s been a couple of weeks but next it’s time for letters from prison with Jeff Cavanaugh
  • There’s a TMZ story about Dez Bryan’t finances that you’re going to want to hear about

In each situation, he never gave away the answer and kept the audience curious. Then when the program returned from its commercial breaks, they dove into the story within 2-3 seconds. The only time it didn’t occur was during the last segment when Gavin explained that the Dez Bryant story would be covered, but first they needed to call an audible and deal with a breaking news story surrounding a mass shooting at a college in Oregon.

In listening to Gavin’s approach, topic selections, and mixture of proving serious sports talk and light hearted entertainment, it’s no surprise the show has taken the lead in middays in the Dallas market. To hear Gavin’s show click here.

OTHER HOSTS WORTH SAMPLING:

  • Ronnie Lane – 620 WDAE, Tampa, FL
  • Nick Bahe – 1620 The Zone, Omaha, NE
  • Cecil Lammey – 105.5 ESPN, Denver, CO
  • Rob Long – 105.7 The Fan, Baltimore, MD
  • Brent Axe – ESPN Syracuse, Syracuse, NY
  • Mark Zinno – 92.9 The Game, Atlanta, GA
  • Cam Cleeland – 1080 The Fan, Portland, OR
  • Phil Mackey – 1500 ESPN, Minneapolis, MN
  • Matt Moscona – 104.5 ESPN, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Anthony Rothman – 97.1 The Fan, Columbus, OH
  • Matt Jones – Kentucky Sports Radio, Lexington, KY
  • Mike Meltser – Sports Radio 610 KILT, Houston, TX
  • Carrington Harrison – 610 Sports, Kansas City, MO
  • Gordon Monson – 1280 The Zone, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Joe Fortenbaugh – 95.7 The Game, San Francisco, CA

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Sports Media To Launch Podcast Network

“We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July.”

Jason Barrett

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To run a successful digital content and consulting company in 2022 it’s vital to explore new ways to grow business. There are certain paths that produce a higher return on investment than others, but by being active in multiple spaces, a brand has a stronger chance of staying strong and overcoming challenges when the unexpected occurs. Case in point, the pandemic in 2020.

As much as I love programming and consulting stations to assist with growing their over the air and digital impact, I consider myself first a business owner and strategist. Some have even called me an entrepreneur, and that works too. Just don’t call me a consultant because that’s only half of what I do. I’ve spent a lot of my time building relationships, listening to content, and studying brands and markets to help folks grow their business. Included in my education has been studying website content selection, Google and social media analytics, newsletter data, the event business, and the needs of partners and how to best serve them. As the world of media continues to evolve, I consider it my responsibility to stay informed and ready to pivot whenever it’s deemed necessary. That’s how brands and individuals survive and thrive.

If you look at the world of media today compared to just a decade ago, a lot has changed. It’s no secret during that period that podcasting has enjoyed a surge. Whether you review Edison Research, Jacobs Media, Amplifi Media, Spotify or another group’s results, the story is always the same – digital audio is growing and it’s expected to continue doing so. And that isn’t just related to content. It applies to advertising too. Gordon Borrell, IAB and eMarketer all have done the research to show you where future dollars are expected to move. I still believe it’s smart, valuable and effective for advertisers to market their products on a radio station’s airwaves, but digital is a key piece of the brand buy these days, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Which brings me to today’s announcement.

If you were in New York City in March for our 2022 BSM Summit, you received a program at the show. Inside of one of the pages was a small ad (same image used atop this article) which said “Coming This Summer…The BSM Podcast Network…Stay Tuned For Details.” I had a few people ask ‘when is that happening, and what shows are you planning to create?’ and I kept the answers vague because I didn’t want to box ourselves in. I’ve spent a few months talking to people about joining us to help continue producing quality written content and improve our social media. Included in that process has been talking to members of our team and others on the outside about future opportunities creating podcasts for the Barrett Sports Media brand.

After examining the pluses and minuses, and listening and talking to a number of people, I’m excited to share that we are launching the BSM Podcast Network. We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July. Demetri Ravanos will provide oversight of content execution, and assist with production and guest booking needs for selected pods. This is why we’ve been frequently promoting Editor and Social Media jobs with the brand. It’s hard to pursue new opportunities if you don’t have the right support.

The titles that will make up our initial offerings are each different in terms of content, host and presentation. First, we have Media Noise with Demetri Ravanos, which has produced over 75 episodes over the past year and a half. That show will continue in its current form, being released each Friday. Next will be the arrival of The Sports Talkers Podcast with Stephen Strom which will debut on Thursday June 23rd, the day of the NBA Draft. After that, The Producer’s Podcast with Brady Farkas will premiere on Wednesday June 29th. Then as we move into July, two more titles will be added, starting with a new sales focused podcast Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves. The final title to be added to the rotation will be The Jason Barrett Podcast which yours truly will host. The goal is to have five weekly programs distributed through our website and across all podcasting platforms by mid to late July.

I am excited about the creation of each of these podcasts but this won’t be the last of what we do. We’re already working on additional titles for late summer or early fall to ramp up our production to ten weekly shows. Once a few ideas and discussions get flushed out, I’ll have more news to share with you. I may consider adding even more to the mix too at some point. If you have an idea that you think would resonate with media professionals and aspiring broadcasters, email me by clicking here.

One thing I want to point out, this network will focuses exclusively on various areas of the sports media industry. We’ll leave mainstream sports conversations to the rest of the media universe. That’s not a space I’m interested in pursuing. We’ve focused on a niche since arriving on the scene in 2015 and have no plans to waver from it now.

Additionally, you may have noticed that we now refer to our company as ‘Barrett Media’. That’s because we are now involved in both sports and news media. That said, we are branding this as the BSM Podcast Network because the titles and content are sports media related. Maybe there will be a day when we introduce a BNM version of this, but right now, we’ve got to make sure the first one works right before exploring new territory.

Our commitment to delivering original industry news, features and opinions in print form remains unchanged. This is simply an opportunity to grow in an area where we’ve been less active. I know education for industry folks and those interested in entering the business is important. It’s why young people all across the country absorb mountains of debt to receive a college education. As valuable as those campus experiences might be, it’s a different world once you enter the broadcasting business.

What I’d like to remind folks is that we continue to make investments in the way we cover, consult, and discuss the media industry because others invest in us. It’d be easy to stockpile funds and enjoy a few more vacations but I’m not worried about personal wealth. I’m focused on building a brand that does meaningful work by benefitting those who earn a living in the media industry or are interested in one day doing so. As part of that process I’m trying to connect our audience to partners who provide products, services or programs that can benefit them.

Since starting this brand, we’ve written more than 18,000 articles. We now cover two formats and produce more than twenty five pieces of content per day. The opportunity to play a small role in keeping media members and future broadcasters informed is rewarding but we could not pay people to edit, write, and host podcasts here if others didn’t support us. For that I’m extremely grateful to those who do business with us either as a consulting client, website advertiser, Summit partner or through a monthly or annual membership. The only way to get better is to learn from others, and if our access to information, knowledge, relationships and professional opinions helps others and their brands, then that makes what we do worthwhile.

Thanks as always for the continued support. We appreciate that you read our content each day, and hope to be able to earn some of your listenership in the future too.

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Barrett Blogs

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Pursuing Media Jobs

“Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.”

Jason Barrett

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I recently appeared on a podcast, Monetize Media, to discuss the growth of Barrett Media. The conversation covered a lot of ground on business topics including finding your niche, knowing your audience and serving them the right content in the right locations, the evolution of the BSM Summit, and why consulting is a big part of our mix but can’t be the only thing we do.

Having spent nearly seven years growing this brand, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just know what’s worked for us, and it starts with vision, hard work, consistency, and a willingness to adapt quickly. There are many areas we can be better in whether it’s social media, editing, SEO, sales, finding news, producing creative original content or adding more staff. Though there’s always work to be done and challenges to overcome, when you’re doing something you love and you’re motivated to wake up each day doing it, that to me is success.

But lately there’s one part of the job that I haven’t enjoyed – the hiring process. Fortunately in going through it, I was able to get to know Arky Shea. He’s a good guy, talented writer, and fan of the industry, and I’m thrilled to share that he’s joining us as BSM’s new night time editor. I’ll have a few other announcements to make later this month, but in the meantime, if you’re qualified to be an editor or social media manager, I’m still going through the process to add those two positions to our brand. You can learn more about both jobs by clicking here.

Working for an independent digital brand like ours is different from working for a corporation. You communicate directly with yours truly, and you work remotely on a personal computer, relying on your eyes, ears and the radio, television, and internet to find content. Because our work appears online, you have to enjoy writing, and understand and have a passion for the media industry, the brands who produce daily content, and the people who bring those brands to life. We receive a lot of interest from folks who see the words ‘sports’ and ‘news’ in our brand names and assume they’re going to cover games or political beats. They quickly discover that that’s not what we do nor are we interested in doing it.

If you follow us on social media, have visited our website or receive our newsletters, you’ve likely seen us promoting openings with the brand. I’ve even bought ads on Indeed, and been lucky enough to have a few industry folks share the posts on social. We’re in a good place and trying to make our product better, so to do that, we need more help. But over the past two months, Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.

Receiving applications from folks who don’t have a firm grasp of what we do is fine. That happens everywhere. Most of the time we weed those out. It’s no different than when a PD gets an application for a top 5 market hosting gig from a retail employee who’s never spoken on a microphone. The likelihood of that person being the right fit for a role without any experience of how to do the job is very slim. What’s been puzzling though is seeing how many folks reach out to express interest in opportunities, only to discover they’re not prepared, not informed or not even interested in the role they’ve applied for.

For instance, one applicant told me on a call ‘I’m not interested in your job but I knew getting you on the phone would be hard, and I figured this would help me introduce myself because I know I’m a great host, and I’d like you to put me on the radar with programmers for future jobs.’ I had another send a cover letter that was addressed to a different company and person, and a few more applied for FT work only to share that they can’t work FT, weren’t interested in the work that was described in the position, didn’t know anything about our brand but needed a gig, were looking for a confidence boost after losing a job or they didn’t have a computer and place to operate.

At first I thought this might be an exclusive issue only we were dealing with. After all, our brand and the work we do is different from what happens inside of a radio or TV station. In some cases, folks may have meant well and intended something differently than what came out. But after talking to a few programmers about some of these things during the past few weeks, I’ve been stunned to hear how many similar horror stories exist. One top programmer told me hiring now is much harder than it was just five years ago.

I was told stories of folks applying for a producer role at a station and declining an offer unless the PD added air time to the position. One person told a hiring manager they couldn’t afford not to hire them because their ratings were tanking. One PD was threatened for not hiring an interested candidate, and another received a resume intended for the competing radio station and boss. I even saw one social example last week of a guy telling a PD to call him because his brand was thin on supporting talent.

Those examples I just shared are bad ideas if you’re looking to work for someone who manages a respected brand. I realize everyone is different, and what clicks with one hiring manager may not with another, but if you have the skills to do a job, I think you’ll put yourself in a better position by avoiding these 5 mistakes below. If you’re looking for other ways to enhance your chances of landing an opportunity, I recommend you click here.

Educate Yourself Before Applying – take some time to read the job description, and make sure it aligns with your skillset and what you’re looking to do professionally before you apply. Review the company’s body of work and the people who work there. Do you think this is a place you’d enjoy being at? Does it look like a job that you’d gain personal and professional fulfillment from? Are you capable of satisfying the job requirements? Could it potentially put you on the path to greater opportunities? If most of those produce a yes, it’s likely a situation to consider.

Proofread Your Email or Cover Letter and Resume – If the first impression you give a hiring manager is that you can’t spell properly, and you address them and their brand by the wrong names, you’re telling them to expect more mistakes if they hire you. Being detail oriented is important in the media business. If this is your introduction to someone and they have a job you’re interested in, you owe it to yourself to go through your materials thoroughly before you press send. If you can have someone else put an extra set of eyes on your introduction to protect you from committing a major blunder even better.

Don’t Waste People’s Time – You’d be annoyed if a company put you through a 3-4 week process only to tell you they didn’t see you as a viable candidate right? Well, it works the other way too. If you’re not seriously interested in the job or you’re going into the process hoping to change the job description later, don’t apply. If the fit isn’t right or the financials don’t work, that’s OK. Express that. People appreciate transparency. Sometimes they may even call you back in the future when other openings become available. But if you think someone is going to help you after you wasted their time or lied to them, trust me, they won’t.

Don’t Talk Like An Expert About Things You Don’t Know – Do you know why a station’s ratings or revenue is down? Are you aware of the company’s goals and if folks on the inside are satisfied or upset? Is the hiring manager someone you know well enough to have a candid professional conversation with? If the answers are no, you’re not helping your case by talking about things you don’t have full knowledge of. You have no idea how the manager you’re talking to has been dealing with the challenges he or she is faced with so don’t pretend you do. Just because someone wrote an article about it and you read it doesn’t mean you’re informed.

Use Social Wisely – Being frustrated that you didn’t get a job is fine. Everyone goes through it. Asking your friends and followers for advice on social of how you could’ve made a better case for yourself is good. That shows you’re trying to learn from the process to be better at it next time. But taking to social to write a book report blasting the hiring manager, their brand, and/or their company over a move that didn’t benefit you just tells them they made the right move by not bringing you in. Chances are, they won’t be calling you in the future either.

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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

Jason Barrett

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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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