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Fox Strikes Out With Its World Series Coverage

Jason Barrett

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Regardless of the result, sports always leaves us with a decision to second guess. No better example exists today than the one we saw unfold last night in Game 5 of the World Series when Mets Manager Terry Collins stuck with his ace Matt Harvey, only to watch the Royals rally to tie the game in the 9th inning, and then win the championship in the 12th.

Well, the broadcasting business is no different. We all have opinions that differ on individual personalities, radio stations, and television networks, and I have a few I’d like to share on Fox’s presentation this year during the World Series.

It’s well documented that Game 1 was a technical nightmare for the network due to losing power and causing a delay in the action. Pete Rose not being part of the entire series, due to prior obligations was also a bad blemish on the network. It’s the freaking World Series! How do you hire an analyst, and not have them available for every single broadcast during the year’s biggest games?

bighurtEqually disappointing were the contributions of Frank Thomas. When asked for a prediction at the start of the series, Thomas said “ask me after Game 3“. While I don’t put much stock into analyst predictions, giving one shouldn’t be difficult.

Even more disappointing was his commentary on the post-game show. Last night after the Royals won the World Series, Thomas said “The Mets have nothing to hold their heads down for, except they didn’t play that well, and gave away the World Series“.

The broadcast team of Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci also had their fare share of problems. In recent years, we became annoyed with Tim McCarver’s explanations, and opinions, but that same authoritative presence, and understanding of game situations, was what made him good. Unfortunately this crew lacks that strong personality with big stage experience, and it hurt the broadcast.

Joe Buck, despite the criticism that follows him wherever he goes, did a really good job during this Series. He presented the storylines, advanced the dialogue, knew when to interject, and when to sit out. Last night for example, before it even became an issue, Buck was the first to point out “Terry Collins is going to have an interesting decision to make about whether or not to stick with Harvey or turn it over to his closer Familia“. Fox’s cameras then caught video of Harvey in the dugout being told he was done, and then additional footage of the Mets ace making his pitch to Collins to stay in. That added to the drama, and was an excellent job by the Fox production team.

hrWhen the biggest moments in a game arise, Harold Reynolds is at his worst. During Game 5 last night, when Kelly Johnson of the Mets came up to bat, Reynolds added “Kelly Johnson can hit home runs with the best of them“. Any good baseball fan knows that remark is untrue. Johnson is not in the same category with Giancarlo Stanton, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, or even his own teammate Yoenis Cespedes. He’s also not even in his team’s starting lineup.

Reynolds also presents information at times without even thinking it through. On two occasions last night he said things that had me questioning whether or not an analyst was even necessary in the booth. The first one was during the start of the broadcast when he added “the pressure tonight is more on the Mets than the Royals“. Then later in the game he uttered “this is the most important pitch of the at-bat. The count’s 2-1. After this, it’ll be 3-1, or 2-2, or a base hit, or an out“.

When your lead analyst provides incorrect information, and delivers commentaries that do little to advance the situation, it takes away from the experience rather than add to it. He even said “Michael Conforto had ice in his veins and the stuff of greatness” when he produced a two out single in the 12th against Wade Davis while the Mets were down 5 runs. This is supposed to be the game’s best analyst, and I find myself tuning him out during big moments of a game, which is when we should be listening most to the commentary of a lead analyst.

wsVerducci, while astute, prepared, and well balanced, comes across with too many cliches for my tastes. I like reading Tom’s work and I thought he did a nice job previously as an in-game reporter, but in that booth, there has to be an understanding of what’s happening on the field, and an ability to explain situations, and how people think and react. Tom doesn’t stand out in those areas.

During this series, he became attached to stating the obvious. For example, last night when Christian Colon entered the game in the 12th inning to pinch-hit, Verducci added “what a time to take your first post-season at bat“. When Lucas Duda failed to make a good throw home to get Eric Hosmer, he said “a good throw gets him“. As Matt Harvey was in the dugout pleading his case to pitch the 9th to Terry Collins, Verducci stated “Terry Collins can’t just think about this moment, he also has to think about the future“.

Maybe I expect too much from the broadcast, but when the insights provided in the booth are equal to those being expressed by the viewing audience, that concerns me. The announcers are supposed to add to the experience, and enlighten the fans about things they’re not aware of. Unfortunately they did little to educate, and a lot to increase mute button activity.

foxwsIf there was one part of the broadcast that truly surprised me, it was Alex Rodriguez’s ability to analyze. Throughout his career he’s been labeled “phony“, “scripted” and “robotic“. He’s often sounded like a guy reading a press release or his own comments off of a teleprompter, so imagine my surprise when Fox decided to include him beyond the Pre and Post-game, and utilize him as an extra voice in the booth during select innings.

If you were watching Game 3, he really stood out during the 6th inning. He pointed out the way Noah Syndergard retired the previous 4 batters and what Royals hitters would be looking for based on his pitch sequences. He also explained how Noah’s bench pressing power has helped him with improving his slider, and shared great insights on the way the Mets hitting coach Kevin Long had worked with Daniel Murphy to improve his power hitting. The only time he didn’t provide great analysis was when Reynolds asked the silly question of “Is there any player better suited for his nickname than Noah, with the name Thor”.

When I watch the biggest series of the year, I want to hear from people who know what the pressure is like, understand the glory of winning and the agony of defeat, and possess the ability to relate to the players, the moment, and the audience. I didn’t get that from this crew.

When an analyst like John Smoltz or Curt Schilling talks about these situations, I buy what they’re selling. They’ve done it before, and know what to look for, and have a great sense of how to communicate it to the viewer. Reynolds and Verducci may be smart, and fine on MLB Tonight, but this is the World Series. Fans, and even Joe Buck, deserve more out of the broadcast than they’ve received. Hopefully Fox works to fix it immediately, and doesn’t just wait for A-Rod to retire.

Crunching The Numbers:

  • 97.1 The Fan in Columbus turned in an incredible October ratings book. For M-F 6a-7p and M-SU 6a-Mid, the station finished 3rd with Persons 25-54 and 1st with Men 25-54. The Fan also finished 1st with Men 25-34, 25-44, 25-49, 25-54, 35-44, and 35-54.
  • The Beast 980 in Los Angeles is experiencing growth throughout the station. Having been on the scene for only a little over a year, October 2015 saw the station’s morning show numbers improve by 133%, 9a-12p was up 50%, afternoons increased by 75%, and the station’s weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) climbed 66%. All percentage increases are based on year to year performance (October 2014 vs. October 2015) in the Men 25-54 category.
  • ESPN 1000 in Chicago enjoyed a great month after strengthening their lineup with the addition of David Kaplan in September. The former WGN host finished #1 overall M-F 12p-2p with Men 25-54. “Waddle and Silvy” won afternoons in a number of key demos, including Men 25-54.
  • 105.3 The Fan and Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket in Dallas each had a compelling case for bragging rights. The Fan was 1st overall with Men 25-54 M-SU 6a-Mid. The Ticket placed 4th. However, during weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) with Men 25-54, The Ticket was 2nd with a 6.1 and The Fan was 3rd with a 5.3. The Ticket benefitted from a big performance in mornings from “The Musers“. The Fan won head to head during middays, afternoons, and evenings.

Under The Radar:

  • Tim Montemayor left his position as Program Director and Morning Show Host of 1320 The Fan in Salt Lake City last month. His wife landed a great job in the Phoenix area which required the family to move. Will Smith is currently hosting the morning show, although the station has been looking for a Program Director with the ability to also perform on-air.
  • Mike Ragozino left his post as Program Director and Afternoon Host of 750 The Game in Portland in September so he could move to Fort Wayne to be closer to his family. Fletcher Johnson and Noah “Chop” Homsley have taken over afternoons on The Game. It’s unclear if the station will be adding a new Program Director or utilizing internal support for day to day operations.
  • Travis Demers took over as host of the “Rip City Drive” weekdays from 3p-5p on Rip City Radio 620 in Portland last Monday. Trail Blazers play-by-play voice Brian Wheeler had previously been hosting the show, and is now appearing as a contributor on the station’s morning and afternoon shows on game days.
  • Jake Scott was promoted to Program Director of 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City earlier this month. Scott Garrard who previously held the PD title was promoted to Vice President of Programming and Operations.
  • Antonio Daniels left his position as a weekday sports talk show host on ESPN 1250 in San Antonio a few weeks ago. The former NBA player accepted a position as a television analyst for the Oklahoma City Thunder. As a result of his departure, ESPN 1250 is looking to find a new co-host to pair with Ari Temkin.

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett

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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 BSMSummit.com. 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

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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 BSMSummit.com.

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 Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

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 BSMSummit.com 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

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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 BarrettNewsMedia.com. 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 JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

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 BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com 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 BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. 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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