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Why We Can’t Keep Ignoring The Signs

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“It’s the same old story, same old song and dance, my friend”
– Aerosmith

It’s ironic that a couple of lyrics written by a rock band (Aerosmith) which relied heavily on radio for the past four decades would perfectly describe the radio business and some of its biggest problems in 2016.

Yes there are plenty of reasons to celebrate. The talent pool is stronger than ever, stations have migrated from AM to FM, apps and streaming sessions are now available, and content is provided on demand. The ability to reach people during and outside of the show is enormous thanks to the invention and evolution of social media.

But that doesn’t eliminate the industry’s biggest problems – our inability to get out of our own way, a lack of focus on the talent and content creation process, and a willingness to settle for mediocrity and do the same things over and over again.

It’s assumed that our industry is innovative. One which is led by creative people who work thirteen to fourteen hour days because they possess an endless passion to produce content and connect with communities. It’s supposed to be the cool business to work in, guided by leaders who crave teaching, motivating, and introducing new ideas to excite an audience and their own programming teams.

But somewhere along the way, that changed.

Programmers started becoming saddled with sales, digital, promotions, and payroll duties. In some cases, engineering, and production responsibilities were added too. Suddenly, the head of a programming department who was uniquely qualified to identify key talent, and create great programming, became handcuffed. No longer did the content or talent development process matter as much as finding ways to make the radio station more profitable.

Can you imagine if the movie industry pulled Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorsese away from writing, directing, and producing films? We’d have a whole lot of suck on the screen.

attackRadio Is Under Attack:

If you’re not aware of this by now, where have you been? Audio content today is available in more locations than ever before. But, there’s still a difference between quality and quantity. One issue that we have to solve is finding a way for our best people to spend more of their time on things that matter most to the audience – the talent and content.

This is the part where you tell me “relax JB, radio has been tested before, it always works out”.

Maybe it has because of our dominance on the dashboard, but advertising revenues for the radio business are in a much different universe than digital and television. The last time I looked, digital was diving deeper into the audio waters. They’re doing the same with video.

It seems like every month I’m reading a story about ESPN losing television subscribers, and just yesterday, Twitter secured a deal with the NFL to stream its Thursday night games. CBS and NBC spent a fortune to offer the NFL on television, yet here comes the social media giant right behind them to take out their legs and put the same programming on digital devices. If you’re running CBS or NBC that has to make your blood boil.

Let’s examine some recent history for a minute.

sxmTen years ago, Sirius was thought to be a neat idea that wouldn’t last. Many felt consumers wouldn’t pay for radio content. But then Sirius forged a deeper relationship with the auto industry. Now the product is available in millions of vehicles, and since they struck that deal, the satellite company has grown its consumer base to nearly thirty million people. Suddenly, paying $10-$15 per month for quality content with minimal interruptions isn’t such an outrageous idea.

Then came the podcasting business, or as it was labeled by radio people at the time, “niche programming with limited appeal”. But here we are years later, and brands like Serial, Bill Simmons, Adam Carolla, and many others are dominating each week on iTunes, and becoming attractive platforms for advertisers. Consumers also love the programming because it’s shorter, unique, available on demand, and presented without a heavy barrage of ads.

Next we have the newspaper business, which once thought the internet stood no chance. Now, the majority of their business exists because of it.

That same print industry which for decades employed columnists and reporters who ridiculed sports radio personalities for a lack of journalistic integrity and common sense, now have a large portion of their most talented writers shifting to audio and video content providers to make a living.

tribAnd that same desperate print business which turned its nose at sports radio, is now making heavier investments to be bigger players in the audio space. The Pittsburgh Tribune and Boston Herald for example, offer full service sports talk channels on their websites. Others such as the New York Times are starting to follow suit.

Whether it’s the podcasting business, the newspaper business, or satellite radio, each are committed to creating sports audio content. Make no mistake about it, any brand that delivers sports spoken word content on an audio platform is a competitor. If they can creep into the mind of your audience and pull them away from your product, that makes them a threat.

As more businesses enter the sports audio world, you’ll find them placing their time, energy, and resources into creating special content. Case in point, when Facebook bid for the NFL streaming rights, they never objected to paying for the content. It was when the NFL insisted that heavy advertising be part of the digital package that they developed a sour taste in their mouth. After the NFL refused to reverse their stance, Facebook walked away from the deal.

Can you imagine a radio station doing that? Fat chance.

coachInvesting Time In Your People:

So with competition increasing, and content creators becoming vital to a brand’s success, what is radio doing about it? The usual. It ignores the signs, and worries only about today’s results.

I recognize that leading an operation is extremely difficult, but I’m beyond stunned by the amount of feedback I get from on-air people who receive little to no support or feedback. When they do receive it, it’s usually the result of a company policy change, a request to do something that helps sales or a business partner, or it’s to highlight a mistake the individual made. Rarely do they receive positive reinforcement or guidance on how to execute better.

I had one personality reach out recently and mention that they hadn’t received a critique from their boss in over a year. One other host shared his frustration over receiving mixed messages during content evaluations, and another expressed concern over his boss’ ability to coach and offer specifics to help him grow.

I’m not present in each of their locations, so there could be other reasons for why those situations exist, but to use an example from the world of sports, a player and manager will have disagreements over the course of a long season. The manager can never stop coaching, and the player has to keep playing and looking for ways to improve their game.

If you’re going to lead a team, my one piece of advice is to never lose sight of what your title says you are – “Program Director”. If the last thing you care about is your on-air programming, and the talent creating it, it’ll come back to bite you in the ass.

techEmbracing Technology:

There shouldn’t be a disconnect between radio and digital, but unfortunately there are still some folks who see digital as a threat to radio’s existence. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should be aware that Facebook has introduced its video service, Facebook Live. It’s a major attraction to users and television broadcast companies, so it should be a big draw for radio groups too right?

Not exactly.

In the United States, Fox Sports and ESPN are using it to compliment their sports television coverage. In the UK, the BBC and Sky were two of the first sports broadcast groups to embrace Facebook’s Live video potential. All use the platform to feature special content and behind the scenes opportunities, and the response from each of their audiences has been strong.

For example, the BBC’s first two uses of Facebook Live for a Match of the Day with Gary Lineker, and a showcasing of Everton fans celebrating their team’s FA Cup quarter final victory over Chelsea, were viewed over 1.7 million times.

Sky on the other hand used Facebook Live to feature exclusive content such as a Soccer discussion on the England squad with Adam Smith and Alex Scott, and that led to 150,000 views during the course of an hour.

closedDuring the past week, I talked to four Program Directors and Producers who told me they were instructed by their companies not to use the video service. All had been using the platform and were generating thousands of views for their shows and radio stations.

One programmer was told not to use it because the video couldn’t be counted towards the station’s ratings. A producer was told by his boss to turn off the service because it could distract the host and cause the station to receive less phone calls. My personal favorite was the programmer who told me that his Sales Manager wanted the service turned off because they were going to bring Facebook and Periscope executives to the table, and have them bid to be the station’s sole video provider.

That sounds great, but the day that happens, they’ll have Instagram and Apple bidding to be the station’s exclusive photo provider, and birds paying for the right to fly in the same sky as airplanes.

When I hear these examples, I can’t help but think about how many times people have criticized the radio industry for being late to respond to changes in the world. It’s confusing, and disappointing. The audience lives on social media. They’re not leaving these platforms, and neither are advertisers. In fact, the numbers are growing for both.

fblIf thousands are watching your talent on Facebook Live, is that really a bad thing? Isn’t it the station’s job to figure out how to monetize it? Do we not podcast audio because it may take away from the radio station’s ratings? Do we not promote things on Twitter because the audience will know the answer and not want to put the dial on?

Rather than putting our blinders on, we need to step back and look at the big picture. Do you really think Facebook Live video isn’t going to last? Do you think your audience isn’t going to use it? Not everything can be measured by ratings or sales. Sometimes you make decisions because it’s the right thing to do for your audience. If you can show that the personality or brand will be damaged by being available on this platform then that’s a different story, but I think that’ll be a hard case to make.

It reminds me of a chat I had a few years ago with an executive about Twitter. They urged me not to follow the audience back on one of my station accounts. When I asked “Why not?” the response I received was “if you do it for one, you have to do it for all”, and “it will clutter up your Twitter feed”.

Nowhere in the response did they take into account how it made the listener feel. I believed then and still do to this day, that if someone loves a brand enough to follow it, and you provide them with the same courtesy, you’ll gain more word of mouth advertising, brand promotion through retweets, and heavier listening.

PPM2I also believe that there are PPM users in every market who have social media accounts, and are following their favorite brands. If you can remind them of the quality content you have available, and make them feel good by following them back, I’m confident it’ll help your station’s performance.

If a show on your radio station is able to bring in thousands of viewers through a platform like Facebook Video, then you should be all over it. The same applies to using Periscope, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or any platform where you’re able to generate mass audience.

Do you know for a fact that the viewer you’re reaching doesn’t have the radio on where they’re at? Have you considered that by seeing you through the video service they could want to click on your stream or turn on the radio to hear the rest of the presentation?

Rather than doing what radio usually does and saying “we’ll do this when everyone else does it”, how about doing the opposite and taking an initiative to provide a benefit to the audience? The only conversations you should be having are “how do we make this better” and “how can we utilize the service and the results we’re producing to generate more ratings and revenue”?

phoneIn-Game Interaction:

The final portion of this article that I want to examine involves interaction during live play by play broadcasts. In the current environment, broadcasters describe and explain to people what’s happening on the field during a sporting event. The listener is then expected to consume and process the message.

But, if you’re watching or listening to a game in 2016, chances are you’re also using your phone, tablet, or computer to interact with others. Take a look at the amount of tweets that were sent out on Monday night during the NCAA College Basketball Championship game, and on Sunday night during WWE’s WrestleMania 32. It’s a very powerful story for Twitter and Facebook.

Radio and television broadcasts may introduce a handful of tweets during a game but it doesn’t take Nostradamus to figure out what’s coming next. If you’re the voice of a local team’s games, or the face of a broadcast on local or national television channels, start preparing for a world where you’re calling the action over the air, and interacting on social platforms during it. No longer will it be enough to present a message, without also being accessible.

reporter-scheftyThe quick response from many play by play announcers will be “That’s not possible. I do a ton already, and can’t take away from my focus on the air”. They do have a point, but I’ve also spent enough time inside of broadcast booths to know that announcers still find time to text their buddies, read the internet, and browse social media. To suggest that they can’t respond during a game is ludicrous. If players can use Snapchat during a gamePeriscope during pre-game, and reporters can be locked into Twitter during an NFL and NBA Draft, then announcers and analysts can find time to respond to the audience.

I’m not saying it’s easy, or ideal, but if you think that the future isn’t going to include play by play hosts and analysts being accessible on social media, and promoted on-air to attract listener/viewer responses, you’re sadly mistaken. I expect national television groups to make it a heavier part of their presentation because they’re always looking for ways to innovate the broadcast. Even when they do things that drive us nuts, I appreciate that they take risks to try and make things better. For example, we now have in-game reporter’s next to the dugout, in-game interviews with managers, a graphic to show if a pitch was in the strike zone or not, etc.

The one challenge I see will be the cooperation from local teams and professional sports leagues. Some will embrace the future and want to tap into the passion of the audience during their game broadcasts, and others will reject it because they’re either set in their ways or unwilling to give on-air exposure to a social media platform for free.

There will also be issues to navigate with advertisers once they enter the mix, but rest assured, radio stations and local teams will make it a bigger part of their programming strategy in the future. I already hear some announcers responding to tweets, others working out of town stringer reports into their broadcasts, and I suspect video streaming will find its way into radio booths in the near future.

toeny32Prior to leaving San Francisco in 2015, I approached the Oakland Athletics about adding our Pre/Post host Chris Townsend into the game broadcast. I knew the play by play crew of Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo would be open minded to the idea because they had a great relationship with Chris, plus let’s be honest, during a three hour broadcast, there’s plenty of time to fill. Tossing it downstairs a few times for a handful of minutes would not compromise the broadcast, especially when that exact situation occurs frequently during a TV broadcast.

The idea was to use Chris as an in-game reporter and social media correspondent. If a major injury or key moment in the game took place and required further explanation, Chris would have access to provide an update for the audience. He’d also be active on Twitter interacting with fans throughout the game using a special hashtag which we’d promote during the broadcast.

By doing this, it would give fans an opportunity to interact with Chris during the game, and potentially have their messages appear on-air during the broadcast. It was an easy way to use social media to bring fans and the broadcast together, and take them further inside. There was also the possibility of introducing behind the scenes video with Chris through Periscope.

Unfortunately, I was leaving town two months later, and the team felt there were a number of hurdles that would need to be cleared to make it work. There were also union restrictions, and MLB approvals that needed to be met, so it unfortunately never materialized.

Maybe it wasn’t meant to be with the A’s broadcast, but I guarantee you that it will become a part of game broadcasts in the future. If teams and leagues want broadcast companies to keep paying premium dollars for their rights, they’re going to have to allow more access and unique opportunities to generate revenue. If not, those rights deals will decrease.

We may all agree that the team’s games have value to a radio station’s airwaves, but not if they’re going to cause the company to lose large sums of money. With digital consumption and interaction rapidly growing, and advertiser interest following suit, it’s going to be an area where both sides allow for flexibility. Without it, they both lose.

finishThe Conclusion:

I recognize that some of my views may produce a difference of opinion. If you disagree with any of it, that’s ok. Nobody is 100% right. But I will leave you with a few points to ponder.

  • Is there any platform on the planet where more of your audience exists besides Facebook?
  • If thousands are clicking your video stream to watch your talent, is it really hurting your business?
  • How are you adjusting your schedule to make sure your people receive feedback, support and understand your expectations?
  • Do you think the audience isn’t going to demand more access to your play by play broadcast and members of their local teams?

This is where the world is headed. Rather than rejecting ideas because they’re different than what you’re used to, think about the long-term ramifications of the decisions you make. They could have a big effect on whether your company and audience see you as an innovator, or an obstacle standing in the way of progress.

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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

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How many times have you heard this sentence uttered at conferences or in one of the trades; radio has to do a better job of telling its story. Sounds reasonable enough right? After all, your brands and companies stand a better chance of being more consumed and invested in the more that others know about them.

But what specifically about your brand’s story matters to those listening or spending money on it? Which outlets are you supposed to share that news with to grow your listenership and advertising? And who is telling the story? Is it someone who works for your company and has a motive to advance a professional agenda, or someone who’s independent and may point out a few holes in your strategy, execution, and results?

As professionals working in the media business, we’re supposed to be experts in the field of communications. But are we? We’re good at relaying news when it makes us look good or highlights a competitor coming up short. How do we respond though when the story isn’t told the we want it to? Better yet, how many times do sports/news talk brands relay information that isn’t tied to quarterly ratings, revenue or a new contract being signed? We like to celebrate the numbers that matter to us and our teams, but we don’t spend much time thinking about if those numbers matter to the right groups – the audience and the advertisers.

Having covered the sports and news media business for the past seven years, and published nearly eighteen thousand pieces of content, you’d be stunned if you saw how many nuggets of information get sent to us from industry folks looking for publicity vs. having to chase people down for details or read things on social media or listen to or watch shows to promote relevant material. Spoiler alert, most of what we produce comes from digging. There are a handful of outlets and PR folks who are great, and five or six PD’s who do an excellent job consistently promoting news or cool things associated with their brands and people. Some talent are good too at sharing content or tips that our website may have an interest in.

Whether I give the green light to publish the material or not, I appreciate that folks look for ways to keep their brands and shows on everyone’s radar. Brand leaders and marketing directors should be battling daily in my opinion for recognition anywhere and everywhere it’s available. If nobody is talking about your brand then you have to give them a reason to.

I’m writing this column today because I just spent a day in New York City at the Disney Upfront, which was attended by a few thousand advertising professionals. Though I’d have preferred a greater focus on ESPN than what was offered, I understand that a company the size of Disney with so many rich content offerings is going to have to condense things or they’d literally need a full week of Upfronts to cover it all. They’re also trying to reach buyers and advertising professionals who have interests in more than just sports.

What stood out to me while I was in attendance was how much detail went into putting on a show to inform, entertain, and engage advertising professionals. Disney understands the value of telling its story to the right crowd, and they rolled out the heavy hitters for it. There was a strong mix of stars, executives, promotion of upcoming shows, breaking news about network deals, access to the people responsible for bringing advertising to life, and of course, free drinks. It was easy for everyone in the room to gain an understanding of the company’s culture, vision, success, and plans to capture more market share.

As I sat in my seat, I wondered ‘why doesn’t radio do this on a local level‘? I’m not talking about entertaining clients in a suite, having a business dinner for a small group of clients or inviting business owners and agency reps to the office for a rollout of forthcoming plans. I’m talking about creating an annual event that showcases the power of a cluster, the stars who are connected to the company’s various brands, unveiling new shows, promotions and deals, and using the event as a driver to attract more business.

Too often I see our industry rely on things that have worked in the past. We assume that if it worked before there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for the client. Sometimes that’s even true. Maybe the advertiser likes to keep things simple and communicate by phone, email or in-person lunch meetings. Maybe a creative powerpoint presentation is all you need to get them to say yes. If it’s working and you feel that’s the best way forward to close business, continue with that approach. There’s more than one way to reach the finish line.

But I believe that most people like being exposed to fresh ideas, and given a peak behind the curtain. The word ‘new’ excites people. Why do you think Apple introduces a new iPhone each year or two. We lose sight sometimes of how important our brands and people are to those not inside the walls of our offices. We forget that whether a client spends ten thousand or ten million dollars per year with our company, they still like to be entertained. When you allow business people to feel the excitement associated with your brand’s upcoming events, see the presentations on a screen, and hear from and interact with the stars involved in it, you make them feel more special. I think you stand a better chance of closing deals and building stronger relationships that way.

Given that many local clusters have relationships with hotels, theaters, teams, restaurants, etc. there’s no reason you can’t find a central location, and put together an advertiser appreciation day that makes partners feel valued. You don’t have to rent out Pier 36 like Disney or secure the field at a baseball stadium to make a strong impression. We show listeners they’re valued regularly by giving away tickets, cash, fan appreciation parties, etc. and guess what, it works! Yes there are expenses involved putting on events, and no manager wants to hear about spending money without feeling confident they’ll generate a return on investment. That said, taking calculated risks is essential to growing a business. Every day that goes by where you operate with a ‘relying on the past’ mindset, and refuse to invest in growth opportunities, is one that leaves open the door for others to make sure your future is less promising.

There are likely a few examples of groups doing a smaller scaled version of what I’m suggesting. If you’re doing this already, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up through email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. By and large though, I don’t see a lot of must-see, must-discuss events like this created that lead to a surplus of press, increased relationships, and most importantly, increased sales. Yet it can be done. Judging from some of the feedback I received yesterday talking to people in the room, it makes an impression, and it matters.

I don’t claim to know how many ad agency executives and buyers returned to the office from the Disney Upfront and reached out to sign new advertising deals with the company. What I am confident in is that Disney wouldn’t invest resources in creating this event nor would other national groups like NBC, FOX, CBS, WarnerMedia, etc. if they didn’t feel it was beneficial to their business. Rather than relying on ratings and revenue stories that serve our own interests, maybe we’d help ourselves more by allowing our partners and potential clients to experience what makes our brands special. It works with our listeners, and can work with advertisers too.

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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.”

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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.

Additional:

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.

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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.”

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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.

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