It’s common for each of us to take a few minutes each year to walk down memory lane and reflect on all we experienced during the previous 12 months. We re-live all of our trials and tribulations, and make promises to ourselves for the new year that we’ll soon forget, and hope to simply live long enough to do it all again the following December.
Except this time, I’m actually appreciating the process and taking the time to enjoy everything I endured in 2015. On the surface, it was a year which started with me working inside the halls of a radio station, and ended with me operating a business out of a home office. That normally doesn’t sound like a year full of growth and optimism. But for yours truly, it was everything I could’ve hoped for and it gives me great confidence that 2016 will be even better.
We all reach a point in our lives when we have to face a difficult situation and make a tough choice. Although I’ve had more than my fair share of them over the years, none were as challenging, stressful, important and satisfying as the one I made in 2015.
Last Christmas, I went home to New York to spend the holiday’s with my family. My contract in San Francisco was expiring in June 2015 and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to stay. Being separated from my son by 3,000 miles was emotionally exhausting, and after nine years of flying back and forth every other weekend, I finally had enough.
There were also some personal things developing in his life that I knew needed to be addressed and I couldn’t tackle those issues if I wasn’t nearby. I talked with my son and parents and listened to their feedback and then flew back to San Francisco to have the same conversation with my girlfriend. She knew I was mentally ready to return to New York, even if it meant a major change professionally.
When I first moved to San Francisco, I poured every bit of my heart and soul into building 95.7 The Game. There were many twists and turns and unexpected changes, but in the end we built a product that grew from 24th to 3rd in less than 4 years. That’s something I’m forever proud of and it can never be taken away from me or the crew that helped create it.
As I reflected on the previous four years, I felt like I had accomplished the goals I set for myself when I accepted the job. I had built a quality brand and earned the respect of my staff and executives inside the company and now it was time for the station to receive a new message and hopefully ascend to an even higher level. That challenge now belongs to Don Kollins and I know he’s excited about it.
One of my biggest coaching influences is Bill Parcells. If you look at his resume, most of his stints were between 3-5 years. He’d join an organization, build them up, lead them to success, and then move on. The Giants were the only organization where he had a lengthy stay. While Bill Cowher, Bill Belichick, and Tony Dungy preferred working in one location, Parcells gravitated towards change and new challenges.
That’s sort of the way I am. I’m not the type of person who’s going to spend 15-20 years in the same spot. At times, I wish I was. There’s great value in consistency and knowing what to expect but what can I say, I enjoy new challenges and learning from different people.
It’s crazy how certain periods of your career end up resurfacing at later points. I remember having a conversation with Steak Shapiro in St. Louis in 2007 when he co-owned Big League Broadcasting with Andrew Saltzman. Steak was upset with me because he learned that I was talking with another company about a possible Programming opportunity when KFNS was going through some turmoil.
Steak asked me “Do you want to be known as the Larry Brown of our business“? I answered “If that means winning an NBA Title in Detroit, going to the Finals in Philadelphia, leading teams in San Antonio, Los Angeles, Indiana, Denver and New Jersey to the playoffs, and winning a National Title in Kansas, then yes I’d love to be Larry Brown.”
He wanted to be pissed at me but he knew the response was pretty good and accurate and couldn’t help but laugh. He then reminded me that I better stay put! Which I did a while longer before we eventually went our separate ways.
When I returned to my office in San Francisco last year after the Christmas break, I had made up my mind and knew I had to alert the company. Hiring a Program Director takes time and I cared for the staff and wanted them to be in good hands. I made the choice to share the news with my bosses and they were gracious in the way they handled everything. I was asked to reconsider and take some time to make sure it’s what I truly wanted to do but I knew in my heart it was time to go home and be where my son needed me most.
Many of us in this industry bury ourselves in our work because it’s a highly competitive field. If you take your eye off the ball for a split second, someone else is right behind you ready to run you over. For nine years that approach helped me succeed, but what many of my colleagues didn’t see were the times that I had to share an upstairs bedroom at my parents house just to have a weekend with my son.
They didn’t realize that every other Thursday I’d spend 13-14 hours at work, take a 30 minute ride to the airport, wait an hour to board an overnight flight from California to New York which lasts more than 5 hours, follow it up by renting a car in New York and driving 2 hours north to my family’s home, possibly grabbing a quick 3 hour nap before driving over to pick my son up from school and spending 2 days with him before doing the same travel routine again on Sunday.
They also didn’t see the pain and tears in his eyes when I had to get back into a rental vehicle and drive away, or the numerous texts and phone calls begging me to come home. I loved every bit of the ride professionally but personally it was a struggle. Although I sacrificed more than most people would to stay involved in his life, it still wasn’t fair to a boy who had grown up wanting his Dad to be around every day and could care less about what he did for a living.
I contemplated whether or not I could see myself in San Francisco for 3-4 more years and the answer was an unequivocal no. When you do this job and oversee a company, you can’t do it on a year to year basis. You’re either all-in or all-out. There is no in between.
At this point, my son was thirteen, not four, which was how old he was when this travel schedule began. I wasn’t going to miss his teenage years and development into becoming a man. I couldn’t picture myself not being there when he drove a car for the first time or started his first job. Those things mattered more to me than anything I might accomplish inside a radio station.
When it was time to deal with my pending departure, we collaborated as a group, and made the decision to alert the staff and radio industry of the news in February. Getting the news out in advance was important for attracting great candidates but it was also mentally taxing on me. You can attempt to do things the way you’ve always done them, but when others know you’re dead man walking, and your future is elsewhere, it’s tough to be as sharp, passionate and emotionally connected as you once were.
Luckily I had enough things to keep me busy and a staff which understood my situation, but during that process I learned that providing a five month notice and announcing it publicly isn’t a great idea. It sounded good at the time and was helpful to the company, but it’s impossible to not have the cloud linger over you each day when you walk through your office. It also leaves people unsettled for a long period of time.
Mental challenges aside, I was happy and at peace with my decision, more so than I even thought I’d be. It’s easy to second guess yourself when you’re running a great sports radio station in Market #4, in a gorgeous city like San Francisco, working with quality people, for a company like Entercom who believe and invest in the format and treat you extremely well.
Combine that with the fact that I was moving to New York where fewer sports radio programming opportunities exist, and a possible career change or trip to the unemployment line seemed certain. Despite all of that, I had no regrets and was eager to face the unknown.
May 29th then arrived and the long wait was officially over. I said my goodbyes at the radio station, and went to my last Oakland Athletics game where I proudly wore my New York Yankees cap and jersey and didn’t have a care in the world if anyone was bothered by it. My girlfriend Stephanie and I then packed up our home that weekend, and set out on a cross country road trip to get to New York.
A word of advice, if you ever get the opportunity to make a coast to coast drive at any point in your life, do it! It’s well worth it. We traveled from San Francisco to Reno, Nevada to Salt Lake City, Utah to Denver, Colorado to Keystone, South Dakota (drove out of the way to see Mount Rushmore) to Omaha, Nebraska to St. Louis, Missouri to Cleveland, Ohio to Niagra Falls, New York to home! It was a memorable trip which allowed me to unwind, have fun, and forget about what was in my rear view mirror.
Once we arrived home in New York, everything began to come together.
My son was elated to have me home and our bond has grown stronger since I returned. He now lives with me and is happy and healthy and I couldn’t be more happy than I am when we spend time together. That trumps every professional success I’ve had. We found a great place to live and decided after years of discussion to finally get a dog. Our English Bulldog “Trump” is awesome and the joy he’s brought to our lives has been greater than we ever anticipated.
After we got settled, I made a professional decision in August to start a new chapter for my career and explore a side of the industry I had been curious of but never had the nerve to pursue – consulting. I entered into it expecting it to be bumpy for a while and I had to remind myself to stay focused on the big picture, not the immediate returns. That’s easier said than done when you’re as competitive as I am and industry friends are constantly calling to find out when you’re going to return to work.
As I entered this space, I wanted to create a platform to showcase the format strongly. I was committed to writing, networking, and utilizing social media to promote great stories and I believed that if I executed well, new doors would open. Sure enough they have and that part has been exciting.
I’ve started forming new relationships and friendships but my friend and fellow consultant Rick Scott wasn’t kidding when he said this wouldn’t be easy. His support and wisdom helped me in my decision to head down this path, and my passion and stubbornness to succeed at it will serve me well entering 2016. I have a long ways to go but I’m committed to further building my brand and proving that my involvement pays dividends for those I do business with.
If there’s one part of the past year’s journey that has surprised me, it’s the way this website has grown and become a bigger priority. It began in June 2014 as a labor of love but I wasn’t producing content on a daily basis. Earlier in my career I wrote a lot but when you’re managing people and programming radio stations, it’s difficult to find time to put your words on a screen and showcase your creativity. This website grew organically and allowed me to reconnect with my creative side which has been personally and professionally rewarding.
In the past year alone, I’ve received compliments about the website from numerous industry people and when exceptional writers like Bernie Miklasz, Richard Deitsch, Ric Bucher and Jay Marriotti reach out and speak favorably about my writing, I’m blown away. Not only are they incredible at painting pictures with words, but they’ve also written for some of the most recognized and successful newspapers and publications in the world. If I can be 10% the writer that any of them are, that would be a huge victory.
Taking attendance inside a building may no longer be part of my routine, but my desire for radio has never been stronger. Because I have the opportunity to listen to shows all across the country and study trends and connect with people throughout the industry, I find myself more informed which helps when I’m creating content, talking with stations, and sharing my opinion.
Two things I’m appreciative of are that some of the work on this website has mattered enough to people in the industry that they’ve taken the time to share it with their peers. A few weeks ago I traveled to Philadelphia for the Army-Navy experience and to hear the first thing out of people’s mouth’s be some form of praise for this website and the way it has helped them was very uplifting.
I never imagined that my words would have an impact on people, so when I see someone retweet a column, send me a Facebook or Twitter message, or shoot me a text or email to share how a piece connected with them, it’s very gratifying. Many of the columns I create take hours to complete because I want to be thorough and present good information. I’m also my toughest critic. I don’t concern myself with the word count of a column or how many pieces per day I create, only the quality.
The other part which I’m proud of is that I’ve operated this website as a one-man band. There are no ghost writers, interns, or account executives selling advertising for it, just me. Managing this site while trying to build a business and enjoy my family can be tough at times but I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s inspired me in ways I never expected it to.
First, I was fortunate to team up with Zach McCrite who has produced an excellent weekly podcast. If you haven’t listened to an episode yet, make a New Year’s resolution right now to change that in 2016.
Secondly, my friend and former colleague Andy Drake helped me design a great logo and cleaned up some of the bugs that were limiting the website’s potential. And last but not least, I’ve had the privilege of connecting with numerous industry folks who have written some thought provoking opinion pieces for the site which have helped them raise their own profiles while providing a perspective that’s been beneficial to others.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the numerous programmers, talent, market managers, executives, and owners who have helped me gain the right information so I could showcase the format’s brands and personalities in a fair and objective manner.
I don’t fancy myself as a media critic because I know how hard it is to build a successful brand, connect with an audience, and create an amazing show for 3-4 hours per day. I also understand how ratings and negotiations work. While my opinions may differ on occasion from a few of my peers, the intent on my end is to provide quality information and an informed opinion, not embarrass or trash any individual or company.
As fortunate as I’ve been to enjoy some early returns on this new endeavor, I’ve equally learned that there are a few misconceptions about the role of a consultant.
Believe it or not, I’m not looking to become the Adam Schefter of the sports radio world. Yes I have connections and relationships which help me gain access to critical information. I’m proud of that, enjoy it, and it’s one of the perks from spending two decades in this industry.
That said, I often sit on stories because I’m not interested in hurting someone’s livelihood or damaging a brand. No story and increase in web traffic is worth violating trust. Some may not like that I operate that way, and that’s fine, but I’m going to work the way that I feel most comfortable. If all that mattered was being first to report a story on this format, I’d have no problem doing well in that setting.
Next, I’m a consultant and talent resource, not an agent. I don’t negotiate talent contracts and I’m not going to lead your job search. If I know of things going on and believe there could be a fit, I’ll reach out and mention it. I’m not going to evaluate your past ten airchecks and give you weekly updates or tell every Programmer why you’re the next big thing. I’ll have dialogue with you, provide an honest assessment and pass along updates when I hear of things that may make sense for your career, but I have many masters to serve and can’t focus solely on the needs of an individual talent. If you do great work, and network with the right people, they’ll seek you out when the time is right.
Finally, contrary to what you may believe, a skilled consultant is not expensive. Many operators assume that bringing in an added resource is going to hurt their budget and that’s not accurate. Of course we don’t work for free but if your brand can gain larger success across multiple platforms and your people can improve from an investment in their development, isn’t that worth it?
If I can offer one piece of advice to industry folks as we enter 2016, make a resolution to network more with programmers and executives. If the only time they hear from you is when they have a job opening, they’re going to have little chance to learn anything about you beyond a resume and demo. There’s no excuse for not connecting when most people are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Linkedin. Get to know people, interact with them socially as you would with your friends, and when that connection is built and future needs arise, they’ll touch base if you fit the bill.
As far as improvements are concerned, we’ve got to do a much better job of telling our format’s story. I never realized how protective and nervous many in our industry get when discussing their performance. It was instilled in me years ago to be in control of my own message and to not be afraid to promote the truth when it benefitted those around me. I’ve tried sharing that advice with those I talk to. Some may view it as shameless self-promotion, others may feel it’s breaking some secret code of silence, but from where I sit, if you have a powerful story to share, then why wouldn’t you tell it?
One of radio’s biggest problems is the negativity it receives from outside media outlets. The damage that has been done to the industry’s image has led to stocks plummeting and millions of dollars being lost. We can blame everyone else for not reporting our successes, but if we don’t do our part to address misleading facts and highlight the people who make a huge impact in the lives of the audience each day, then we’re equally to blame.
Maybe I’m naive, but I’d rather sit in front of an advertiser or CEO and answer questions about my work based on the information they’ve read, rather than have to educate them on who I am, what I’ve done, and why I’m worth investing in. You can have the highest rated show, station, or the most innovative idea in the format’s history, but if nobody knows it beyond your own walls, then don’t be surprised when you don’t receive the credit you rightfully deserve.
To those who have shared information and opinions, and been willing to do their part to help increase the awareness of our format, I’d like to say thank you! This website only works if people contribute and take the time to read and learn from it. It’s been great learning from all of you and I hope you’ve gained some insight from me as well.
Working inside a radio station has been a huge part of my life for the past 20 years but in 2015 I discovered a new way to help the business I love. I now get to work with different stations, companies, and people, while creating content on my own platform, and with social media a huge influence and big part of our lives, it’s made it very easy to promote so others can gain from it.
One year ago I made a decision for my own personal benefit, and by doing so, it put me in position one year later to do something for the professional benefit of others. It may sound corny but that’s pretty cool to me. But still not as cool as waking up each morning and seeing my son’s face before he heads off to school.
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.