Two weeks ago I read a column by Jason Whitlock and it got my wheels spinning. The outspoken columnist who recently left ESPN and returned to Fox Sports stated that we were witnessing the decay of journalism in sports media, and numerous media companies were guilty of allowing it to happen.
Much like any written piece, there were areas that could be disputed, but in general, I felt he raised a number of valid points. There’s no question that the public has a big appetite for sports information. Social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook have increased the interest, speed, and accountability for quality reporting, and most of the content produced on sports radio, television, and websites, is built from it.
But for every major network who commits large resources to employing skilled reporters, the local end of the business does face a different reality. The commitment to developing young people has become a much bigger challenge for many media companies.
Today, people are often thrust into roles they’re not ready for or they’re asked to perform multiple jobs inside of an organization because of limited budgets. That makes it harder to gain deeper penetration on a local beat, and become your very best.
Newspaper readership and advertising dollars have declined, and the radio and television industries have experienced similar difficulties. Those issues unfortunately have caused groups to reduce or eliminate these positions and limit the amount invested in them. For someone who is young, hungry, and looking to create a career as a reporter, it can be disheartening.
Over the years I’ve conducted numerous research projects, and I’ve learned that audiences prefer truth over entertainment. There is a need for both presentations but without experienced reporters investing time in developing sources, and working tirelessly to investigate stories so our demand for accurate information is satisfied, the need for sports content becomes less important.
The sports media business benefits greatly from having highly trained reporters in the field who can cut through white noise to provide a detailed account for what’s taking place. The access to information, and ability to provide it fairly, and in a timely fashion, makes our sports experience more fulfilling. It can be argued that a top notch reporter at a high profile sports network is its most valuable asset next to live play-by-play. With social media playing a dominant role in each individual’s daily routine, the demand for a reporter’s content exists 24/7.
There will always be a fraction of the audience who just want to be entertained, and don’t care to know the truth and will accept certain issues being swept under the rug (MLB Steroids scandal). Most though who watch, listen, and read about sports, want to believe that the results being achieved are honest, and we put our trust in reporters to make sure they are. Nobody has more to gain or lose, than the reporter who’s right in the middle of each story.
If there’s another growing concern, it’s that in many cases, professional sports leagues, agents, and teams have made a reporter’s job even more difficult. For example, the Redskins are notorious for trying to cover up information and present details which can only be viewed through rose-colored glasses. The Packers also recently tried to intimidate a reporter who had published an article about a player with a checkered past.
And those aren’t the only two. There are many others who operate the same way. That unfortunately makes it even tougher to trust those who do conduct themselves properly.
Despite those challenges, reporting is a necessity for our business. Digital and social media audiences are soaring, and sports consumers are investing large chunks of their time to learn everything they can about their teams and the individuals who are a part of them.
While a reporter may not have their name on the marquee of the show you tune into, many times it’s their information and content that dominates the majority of the programming.
The real question facing media groups is “how can the increased demand for breaking sports news across multiple platforms be utilized to generate even larger profits, pageviews and ratings“? Measuring the impact is becoming much more difficult for media operators, but there’s certainly no shortage of interest in the information.
I was curious about the benefits and challenges of reporting, and what it takes to succeed in the field, and figured that if I’m going to write a piece on one of the most important roles in our industry, I might as well ask the best.
In addition to each of these gentlemen being great at what they do, they’re also quality people, who love their profession, and have no issues sharing feedback that will help others inside the industry. If reporting is an area of interest to you, I encourage you to follow each of them on social media, and heed their advice.
- Adam Schefter – ESPN NFL Insider
- John Clayton – ESPN.com Senior NFL Writer
- Ric Bucher – Bleacher Report Senior Writer/Video Analyst; SiriusXM Radio Host
- Ken Rosenthal – Fox MLB Reporter/Senior Baseball Writer; MLB Network Insider
Q: What do you enjoy the most and least about reporting?
Rosenthal: Being the first to tell fans something they want to know is what I enjoy most. NOT being the first is the thing I enjoy least!
Schefter: There’s nothing like the adrenaline of a big, breaking news story. I love big stories, and would think all journalists do. It’s the equivalent of a big game. Do athletes feel the adrenaline and anxiety of a playoff matchup or championship game? Absolutely. It’s the same thing in journalism. There’s nothing like a big story. As for the least appealing part of the job, you never want to get beat on one of those big stories.
Bucher: What I enjoy most is discovering what inspired a person to become who they are, or what inspired a certain move or decision. Basically, unearthing the back story to an event or entity that everyone may know on the surface. What I enjoy least are people who don’t respond to my queries. Saying no or refusing to be interviewed isn’t ideal, but at least I know where I stand. Not knowing if the message ever reached them is the most aggravating aspect.
Clayton: The challenge of getting the information and getting the information correctly reported. Social media has made the pace of information increase, which is good. The more information the better. What this is leading to is being able to analyze the information and put it in perspective quickly.
Q: How difficult is it to establish yourself on a local level, and how did you build your brand and earn trust locally when you didn’t have a national outlet behind you?
Schefter: That’s not really how I thought about it then, or now. I just tried to do my job as well as I could ever day, treat people as fairly as I could every day, work as hard as I could every day, and wherever that went, it went. If you do those things — act professionally, report responsibly, treat people fairly — that’s how you earn trust and build your brand. They are simple things, but they are harder to follow through and carry out.
Clayton: It just takes time. You have to be patient. You can’t rush stories when they aren’t ready. You earn trust with the way you handle the tougher stories. Not every story is going to be positive. If you handle the negative stories correct, the team or the players involved learn to respect your professionalism. That is how you gain sources. You have to build trust.
Rosenthal: I had a different job at the local level for many years – I was a general sports columnist for the Baltimore Sun. I did a lot of baseball, though, and my initial contacts when I went to the national level were mostly people who had worked for the Orioles.
Bucher: I don’t think it matters who you’re attached to. It depends on the strength of your relationships. Are you fair? Are you thorough? Do you do your homework? And, finally, do you have knowledge or insight that might be useful to the people from whom you’re seeking knowledge or insight? Working for a big enterprise might get your calls returned, or returned faster, but what they’re willing to tell you, and whether or not they’re simply using you because of your platform — and perhaps not giving you the most accurate assessment of what’s going on — still depends on how much they trust and respect you and your work.
Q: When your sport is at its peak level of activity, what does a day’s work include? How many hours are put in, and how do you balance sleep and family commitments with the job?
Bucher: I never can be sure when my sport is going to peak, because I never know when I might stumble upon something that then requires my complete focus. Or perhaps I have a project to complete and therefore need to shut out everything else; that happens, too. But let’s say we’re talking about the traditional peak activity, which is at the trade deadline, the week before the draft and the start of free agency. Generally, everything gets put on the back burner or has the potential to be put on hold for several days during those periods. The key, though, is doing your work early — knowing what potentially could be brewing weeks or months in advance and staying on top of those situations as the witching hour approaches.
When I was in full-reporter mode, everything came second. I am fortunate that I now get to spend a good part of my energy creating unique content or seeking certain stories to report out, as opposed to being subject to chasing down whatever may be going on in the league at any given moment. When that was the case, I was either making calls or thinking about who I needed to reach, and when the ideal time to contact them would be.
Rosenthal: My job never stops – and that’s year-round. Sleep is an issue, especially during the postseason, and during the off-season when I wake up at 6 a.m. to do the MLB Network morning show. As for family commitments, I’m fortunate my kids are older (two out of college, one in). I could not have done this job when they were younger. I’m also lucky that my wife is extremely patient – and I mean extremely.
Clayton: The job is pretty much a 12-to-15 hour marathon. You start by making a to-do list at around 5 or 6 in the morning. You work until dinner if not later. The longer you work, the better it is. Because of that, it is difficult on family commitments and sleep. I am lucky because I have an understanding wife. That is important.
Schefter: Every day is different in this job. The regular season — September through January — has a certain rhythm to it, predictability. I can tell you what any Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday will be like, and the things I have to get done. It’s the other parts of the year that are more unpredictable and challenging, because you never know when news will be coming. It could happen any time, any day, with any team or player.
There are certain times of the year that truly are peak news periods, where the work never really stops. The few weeks after the regular season ends, when teams are firing and hiring coaches while the NFL playoffs are kicking off; that’s really busy. The week leading up to and then the first couple of weeks of free agency also are non-stop, with calls coming in and going out, and news constantly happening. The two weeks leading up to the draft and the week of the draft also are heavy phone call times, with lots of speculation and questions.
Q: How hard is it to decipher between a real piece of information that has legs, and when an individual or organization are trying to utilize you and your platform to further their own agenda?
Clayton: You enter every interview knowing you’re being used. No one would be talking to you if that person wasn’t trying to present a story from their perspective. There is nothing wrong with that. You just have to recognize what angle that person is coming from.
Schefter: I don’t really think about that often. If you do this job long enough, you create long-standing relationships. People you trust and who trust you are not going to do that to you; it’s unethical and wrong. People think this sort of thing goes on all the time, but if there is enough trust built up, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as you think. And it’s also the reporter’s responsibility to decipher what is real and what is not, what sounds plausible and what is not.
Bucher: I’m not the first to say it, but I wholeheartedly believe it: any reporter worth their salt has a hair-trigger bullshit detector and is a bit of a cynic when it comes to sources and news. That said, sometimes you can’t tell right away if something is on the level or not. Sometimes you can go pretty far down the road and discover that the hot item you had really isn’t that hot. What is disturbing in today’s world of reporting is that finding out an item isn’t as solid as it initially appeared to be doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to putting it out there anyway as “news.” Or maybe it’s that the vetting process, the digging further to see if this juicy item truly is both juicy and an item, just isn’t a de facto part of the process anymore.
Rosenthal: It’s not always easy, but part of our job is to figure out when we’re being used.
Q: What was the one story you got burned on that still stings? What did you learn from it?
Clayton: There isn’t one that comes directly to mind. You learn from every story you do.
Rosenthal: There are too many to mention! And I’m not kidding. I remember the failures more than the successes. Just my nature, I guess.
Bucher: There are two stories that I mishandled that probably will always haunt me. The first concerns Kobe Bryant and his desire to be traded to the Bulls in 2007. I was careful to report only what I knew to be undeniably true, which was that he wanted Jerry West or another addition to Lakers management or he intended to force a trade.
On SportsCenter shortly before training camp opened, I reported what I knew and at the end was asked by Neil Everett, if I thought Kobe would show up for camp. I had been told by an unimpeachable source that he did not intend to show up. So I said, “I don’t think he’s showing up“. Now, that was my opinion, not something I considered on the level of reporting because even if I had been told that, there was no way I could certifiably KNOW that. But that’s how I viewed it, not necessarily how viewers heard it. So, of course, he shows up and I get killed for reporting that he wouldn’t. If I had it to do over again, I would’ve told Neil, “I don’t know what he’s going to do.”
The other one involves a colossal game of catfish, in which someone got the phone of an NBA executive and texted me from it about a trade that could be going down between the Raptors and the Heat involving Kyle Lowry and Chris Bosh. My bullshit detector was buzzing, but I spent three days texting back and forth with the alleged executive, asking questions, trying to poke holes in what they were telling me. Finally, my secret texter said the deal was about to pop and I should be good to go with it. I can’t recall ever reporting a story having talked to only one source, but this executive surely would’ve had a direct line to the information and we had spent three days going back and forth. I didn’t want to expose my source by calling someone else in the organization to ask about the deal — or so I told myself — and finally sent the story.
As soon as I did, the thought hit me — our conversation had only been by text. We’d never spoken. What if? It only took minutes before I received a call from one of the GMs involved who I knew well and who promptly told me the deal was bogus. I felt as if someone had shotgunned my guts. The same evil being then texted me again offering me the Jason-Kidd-forcing-out-John-Hammond story to “make it up to me.” That’s one sick individual.
What would I have done different? What I do now — I never report anything strictly off one source. It’s how I long operated but I’m once more committed to it fully.
Schefter: Sometimes you’re awaiting one final confirmation from a source when a story breaks. That’s never enjoyable. But it’s one of the issues of today. You need to be as fast as possible, yet you better make sure your reporting is right first. That’s the most important thing. But that’s the pressure that every reporter deals with on his or her beat. Be fast. But more important, be right.
Q: What advice would you pass along to someone who is pursuing the path of a reporter, or has just started on the local level and is trying to make inroads?
Rosenthal: Work hard, read a lot, be respectful – and be patient.
Schefter: Be consistent. Be reliable. Be steady. Be productive. Be honest. Be fair. Be professional. Be diligent. Be open-minded. Be curious. Be brave. Be bold. Be patient. Be considerate. Be compassionate. And then you can be whatever you want.
Clayton: Start as young as you can. I was credentialed to cover the Steelers when I was 17. The jobs of the future aren’t yet created. You have to create the jobs, but there are plenty of opportunities. You have newspapers, magazines, radio, television, internet and blogs. If you work hard and are accurate, you should be fine.
Bucher: Be honest. Do your homework. Cover a subject or beat as you would want to be covered. If you want your subjects to confide in you, then you have to let them get to know who you are and how you work. Don’t worry about how big the beat is or the size of the stories you’re assigned; you never know when a small story is going to become a big one. In the meantime, you get to practice on reporting out small stories so when a big one does come along you’re more apt to handle it correctly.
Spend as much time talking with the notebook closed and the tape recorder off as you do with them open and on. I still believe most people will accept the truth being told. They may not like it, they may prefer it be kept quiet, but if it does come to light and it is presented fairly they ultimately will come to understand that it needed to be told.
Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?
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.
Takeaways From The NAB Show and Six Days in Las Vegas
“I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm for the NAB Show was elevated this year.”
Six days on the road can sometimes be exhausting. Six days in Las Vegas, and it’s guaranteed. That was my world last week, as I along with more than fifty thousand people headed to sin city to take in the 2022 NAB Show.
The event didn’t draw as many as it had in the past, but after two years of inactivity due to the pandemic, it was good to be back. Judging from some of the vendors I talked to, the sessions I attended, and the feedback I received from folks I met with, though far from perfect, it was a solid return for an important event. Seeing people interact, celebrate others, and talk about ways to improve the business was a positive reminder of the world being closer to the normal of 2019 than the normal of 2020-2021. The only negative from the week, the consistent failure of Uber to appear in the right place at the right time. But that had zero to do with the NAB.
It feels like whenever I attend industry conferences, there are two different type of reviews that follow. Some writers attend the show and see the glass half full. Others see the glass half empty. I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm was elevated this year. Maybe it was because BSM was a media partner or maybe it was due to the show not happening for years and just being happy to be among friends, peers, and clients and operate like normal. Either way, my glass was definitely half full.
For those who see events this way, it’s likely they’ll remember the numerous opportunities they had to create and reestablish relationships. They’ll also recall the access to different speakers, sessions, products, and the excellent research shared with those in attendance. The great work done by the BFOA to recognize industry difference makers during their Wednesday breakfast was another positive experience, as was the Sunday night industry gathering at The Mayfair Supper Club.
Included in the conference were sessions with a number of industry leaders. Radio CEO’s took the stage to point out the industry’s wins and growth, credit their employees, and call out audio competitors, big tech, and advertisers for not spending more with the industry. When David Field, Bob Pittman, Ginny Morris and Caroline Beasley speak, people listen. Though their companies operate differently, hearing them share their views on the state of the business is important. I always learn something new when they address the room.
But though a lot of ground gets covered during these interviews, there are a few issues that don’t get talked about enough. For instance, ineffective measurement remains a big problem for the radio business. Things like this shouldn’t happen, but they do. NBC and WarnerMedia took bold steps to address problems with TV measurement. Does radio have the courage to take a similar risk? That’s an area I’d like to see addressed more by higher ups.
I can’t help but wonder how much money we lose from this issue. Companies spend millions for a ratings service that delivers subpar results, and the accountability that follows is often maddening. Given the data we have access to digitally, it’s stunning that radio’s report card for over the air listening is determined by outdated technology. And if we’re going to tell folks that wearables are the missing ingredient for addressing this problem, don’t be shocked if the press that follows is largely negative. The industry and its advertising partners deserve better. So too do the reps at Nielsen who have to absorb the hits, and make the most of a tough situation.
Speaking of advertising, this is another one of those critical areas that deserves another point of view. Case in point, I talked to a few ad agency professionals at the show. Similar to what I’ve heard before, they’re tired of hearing radio leaders blame them for the industry’s present position. This has been a hot button topic with executives for years. I often wonder, do we help or hurt ourselves by publicly calling out advertisers and ad agencies? How would you feel if you ran an agency which spent millions on the industry and were told ‘you don’t do enough’? I’m a champion of radio/audio, and am bullish on spoken word’s ability to deliver results for clients, but having attended these shows for nearly seven years, it might be time for a new approach and message. Or maybe it’s time to put one of our CEO’s with one of theirs and have a bigger discussion. Just a thought.
Of the sessions that I attended, I thought Erica Farber’s ‘What Business Are You In?’ was excellent. I especially liked Taja Graham’s presentation on ‘Sharing Your Truth’. I also appreciated Eric Bischoff’s tips on ways to monetize podcasts, and am curious to see how Amazon’s AMP develops moving forward. My favorite session at the show though was “A GPS Session For Your Station’s Car Radio Strategy” led by Fred Jacobs. The insight shared by Joe D’Angelo of Xperi and Steve Newberry & Suzy Schultz of Quu was outstanding. Keeping the car companies on our side is vital to our survival, and how we position ourselves on the dashboard can’t be ignored. Other tech companies and audio operators take it seriously. We must too.
Sessions aside, it was great to check out the VSiN and Blue Wire studios, connect with a bunch of CEO’s, GM’s and Market Manager’s, and visit with Kevin Jones, Joe Fortenbaugh, Jeremiah Crowe, Jon Goulet, Bill Adee, Q Myers, Mike Golic Jr. and Stormy Buonantony. The NFL’s setup for the Draft, and the light show presented at the Bellagio was without a doubt spectacular, plus Stephanie had a chance to say hello to Raiders owner Mark Davis who was inside the back room of a Westgate restaurant where we were having a business lunch meeting. The personal tour we received at the Wynn showed off some of the best suites I’ve seen in Las Vegas, and I was finally able to witness Circa’s Stadium Swim in person, and meet owner Derek Stevens (heck of a suit game). What an outstanding hotel and casino.
Altogether, it was a productive trip. As someone who knows all about building and executing a conference, I appreciate the work that goes into pulling it off. This event is massive, and I have no idea how the NAB makes it happen so flawlessly. This was the first time my head of sales, Stephanie Eads, got to attend the show. She loved it. Our only negative, going back and forth between convention halls can get exhausting. Wisely, Stephanie and Guaranty Media CEO Flynn Foster took advantage of the underground Tesla ride to move from the North hall to the West hall. I wasn’t as bright. If that’s the worst part of the experience though, that’s pretty solid. I look forward to returning in 2023, and attending the NAB’s NYC show this fall.
You’ve likely seen posts from BSM/BNM on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn promoting a number of open positions. I’m adding crew to help us pump out more content, and that means we need more editors, news writers, features reporter’s and columnists. If you’re currently involved or previously worked in the industry and love to write about it, send a resume and few writing samples by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
With that said, I’m excited to announce the addition of Ryan Brown as a weekly columnist for BSM. Ryan is part of ‘The Next Round’ in Birmingham, Alabama, which previously broadcast on WJOX as JOX Roundtable. The show left the terrestrial world in June 2021 to operate as its own entity. Ryan’s knowledge and opinions should provide a boost to the site, and I’m looking forward to featuring his columns every Tuesday. Keep an eye out for it tomorrow, and if you want to check out the guest piece he previously wrote for us, click here.
Demetri Ravanos and I have talked to a lot of people over the past month. More additions will be revealed soon. As always, thanks for the continued support of BSM and BNM.
Six New Contributors Join Barrett Media
“These latest additions will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.”
Building a brand starts with a vision. Once that vision is defined, you identify the people who fit what you’re creating, lay out the game plan, and turn them loose to execute. If the product you’re creating is original, fills a gap in the marketplace, and the work turned in by your team is consistently excellent and promoted in the right locations, more times than not you’ll build an audience.
As you grow, the focus turns to studying what your audience wants, needs, and expects from your brand. Certain things you expect to be big turn out small, and the things you saw limited upside in create opportunities you never saw coming. It’s critical to be open minded and ready to pivot while also examining where and when people consume your product, which pieces of content do and don’t matter, and then use that information to direct your team to give folks more of what they value and less of what they don’t. Team members should want that feedback too. It tells them what is and isn’t worth spending their time on.
As I lay all of that out it may sound like I’m talking about a radio station or television operation. These are the things programmers do frequently to make sure the talent, shows, and brand is satisfying the expectations of an audience. But what I’m actually referring to is the brand you’ve made a choice to click on to read this column, Barrett Media.
I’ve mentioned many times on this website how I started this operation by myself, and didn’t expect to have a team of writers involved in it. I was focused on consulting sports stations, sharing my programming views on this website, and as I cranked out content consistently, I discovered others loved the business like I did and had a desire to share their insights too. Rather than sticking to my original plan, I pivoted and increased our content offerings. In return, the audience grew, clients grew, and it’s led this brand to grow beyond my expectations. Now we cover sports AND news media, we run an annual conference, feature a membership program, create podcasts, deliver a daily 8@8 and three times per week BNM Rundown newsletter, and work with various brands and companies across the broadcasting industry. I’m extremely fortunate to be in this position and don’t take it for granted.
But with growth comes change. We’ve been blessed to have a lot of talented people contribute to this site over the years, and as they produce quality work, and others across the industry recognize it, they earn interest for their services. That then leads to some having to sign off for bigger opportunities. I see that as a great positive for the brand. Would it be nice to have more consistency and keep a crew together for years? Of course. I know it’d make Demetri’s life a lot easier. If we’re losing people for the right reasons though, and they’re landing opportunities that help them advance their careers, I’m going to be happy for their success, and trust that we’ll find others to keep us moving forward. The success of our team helps make what we do more attractive to others because it shows that if you do good consistent work here, you can put yourself in a position to attract attention.
Over the past two months, I have challenged Demetri Ravanos to invest more time talking to people about writing for us. Expanding our Barrett News Media roster is a priority. So too is adding quality people to help us improve Barrett Sports Media. BSM has had just under seven years to earn trust with readers. BNM has had less than two. We’ve put out ads on our website and newsletters, social posts, an ad on Indeed, and we’ve reached out directly to people who we’ve felt may be able to add something interesting to our brand. Most of my time is spent listening to stations and talking with clients, but my eyes are always roaming looking for content, and my mind is always thinking about what we can create next to make an impact.
I don’t judge our brand’s success based on clicks, shares, breaking news before other outlets or showing up in the top three listings on Google. I care more effort accuracy, timeliness, passion, consistency, storytelling, insight, and being fair and non-agenda driven. We’ve found our niche being able to tell stories about broadcasting professionals, relaying news, and offering expert knowledge to serve those involved in the broadcasting industry. If we continue to excel doing those things consistently, I’m confident our audience will reward us by reading and sharing more of our content. It’s why we never stop recruiting to keep things fresh.
Having said that, I am excited today to reveal six new additions to the Barrett Media staff. Peter Schwartz is a name and voice many in New York sports radio circles are familiar with. Peter has spent three decades working with various outlets and I’m thrilled to have him writing weekly feature stories for us. Brady Farkas is a talented host and former programmer who now works for WDEV in Burlington, VT. Karl Schoening is a play by play broadcaster who has worked in San Antonio sports radio and has had the added benefit of learning the industry from his talented father Bill who calls Spurs games. Each of them will produce bi-weekly feature stories for the brand. Jason Ence is in Louisville and has written about sports betting for Twin Spires while also working for ESPN 680. He’ll be writing sports betting content for us on a weekly basis. Jasper Jones will help us by adding news stories on Friday’s. He’s presently in Philadelphia learning the business working for Audacy. Last but not least, veteran author, Brewers writer, and former radio professional Jim Cryns comes on board to help us with features on news media professionals.
These six additions make us stronger, and I’m excited to have them join the team to help us add more quality content to the website. That said, we’re not done yet. Demetri and I are still talking with others and I expect to make a few more additions in the weeks ahead. As I said earlier, we want to improve the news media side of our operation and continue adding people to help us make a bigger dent in the sports media space. Broadcast companies invest in us to help them, and I believe it’s important to invest back.
If you’ve programmed, hosted a top rated show, worked in measurement, led a cluster as a GM, sold advertising, represented talent or have worked in digital and feel you have knowledge to share, reach out. I can’t promise we’ll have room but we’re always willing to listen. I’m not worried about whether or not you’ve written for professional publications. Passion, experience and unique insights matter much more than a resume or journalism degree.
I appreciate everyone who takes time to read our content, like and share it on social, and all involved with this brand who help bring it to life each day. The latest additions of Schwartz, Farkas, Schoening, Ence, Jones and Cryns will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.