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Digging Into The Content Evaluation Process

Jason Barrett

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It’s true that most on-air personalities believe the content they create is exceptional. They’re prideful, stubborn, confident, smart, and more times than not, have a good grasp on what the audience expects from them.

They also know what fuels their own personal interests. A programmer may offer specifics of what the audience is looking for, and they’ll nod in agreement and provide lip service to satisfy the request. But, when the light goes on, and the microphone is in front of them, many ignore the facts, and gravitate to what they enjoy talking about most.

If you’re in a building where ratings don’t matter, that might not be a bad thing. Having an on-air personality provide passion through the speakers, and treat the audience to something they’re personally invested in usually works out ok. One can argue that a talk show host who’s emotionally connected to a st ory, offers more value than a talk show host who delivers content that benefits the listener, but not themselves.

diseaseHowever, if you’re in a situation where ratings DO matter, or pleasing your audience is a priority, then you may want to go beyond the surface to get your questions answered.

A host can be a big baseball fan, but if the market doesn’t have a strong desire for that content, you’re bringing a knife to a gunfight. Some on-air talent use social media to gauge interest in topics, and it can be helpful, but they forget that the feedback isn’t always coming from their audience.

What I’m a believer in is studying the trends.

In my previous stops, I’d have producer’s track the content of every segment, and send it to me at the conclusion of their program. I wanted as detailed of a report as possible, and I’d often go back to the audio on-demand platform on my station’s websites to make sure the content checked out in accordance with the report. If it didn’t, the producer was likely to hear from me.

The reason that’s important, is because if I’m going to sit in front of an on-air talent, and tell them I need more of one thing, and less of another, I’ve got to have a good solid reason for my position. Telling them “I feel something” or “I prefer something” isn’t going to win them over, and gain their trust. Showing them how the content is being received, and how it can put more money in their pockets, does.

scoutIn professional sports, scouts, coaches, and team executives spend a large chunk of their time analyzing data. They examine how a hitter responds to different pitches, counts, what their approach is when their team is leading or trailing, and they’ll use the information to create an informed opinion. They then share that feedback with the player to try and help them improve. Assuming they respond to the input and it shows up in their performance, it’s often reflected in the team’s long term commitment.

Now let’s think about that from a radio standpoint.

How many personalities and programmers spend time looking at the data from their shows? I’m not talking about an aircheck session where a programmer plays a piece of audio, offers an opinion on it, and the two sides discuss it. That’s a subjective analysis. Depending on the relationship between the PD and Host, it can either be beneficial, or a waste of time.

What I’m talking about is detailed analysis and coaching. This brings the programmer and on-air team together and puts everyone in position to better understand the vision, what’s working, what isn’t, and what matters most to the audience.

predictSometimes talk shows get into a rut. They may follow the same daily routine and not even be aware of it. If there’s little suspense, and the pattern doesn’t take advantage of when people listen or satisfy the audience’s content desires, it can stunt the show’s growth.

When was the last time you looked at the number of guests you include on your program each day? How about the length of those conversations, and the times of when they appeared? Maybe they’re a big part of the show’s success, but then again, maybe they’re getting in the way of it.

Have you ever looked at where you field phone calls in a show? How long they’re on the air with you? What topics they respond to most? Do the ratings suffer or increase when you invite the audience into the program?

What about the content you choose to feature each day and the segments where you provide opinions on it? How does the audience respond when you talk football, baseball, basketball, lifestyle, or other subjects? Do you do a specific feature daily or weekly on a set day and time? Is it working or slowing you down? Is it strategically smart to offer a variety of content to your audience, or would they prefer a heavier focus on 1-2 key subjects?

Every programmer and personality should be aware of these things. If a host wants to connect with an audience, and a programmer wants to win, content evaluations should be done frequently. The information is available. All you have to do is invest the time to study it, understand it, and relay it to your people.

dustyIt’s no different than Dusty Baker telling Bryce Harper to look for a fastball on the inside part of the plate on a 2-1 count, because the data says it’ll happen 8 out of 10 times. That research matters. One little tidbit gives the player an edge, and increases their confidence. When they receive knowledge that can help them do their jobs better, they appreciate it. In turn, it makes them more likely to respond to future feedback. They may even notice something you didn’t, which can benefit the entire team.

A few years ago in San Francisco, I tried to push my staff to take more chances talking NFL. There was an internal opinion that Bay Area listeners only followed the 49ers and Raiders, and while the local teams were a priority, the market had a bigger appetite for football than the staff was giving them credit for. Our competitor was also known for leaning heavy on baseball, so this was an opportunity to establish our position as a strong football focused brand.

I went to work to make my case. I pulled ratings of all of our shows talking about NFL subjects that weren’t 49ers or Raiders driven. I looked at the performance of our NFL Play by Play from Westwood One, which included at the time, the highest rated single event ever on the station – a Patriots-Texans playoff game. I highlighted the local market’s interest on television to national football games, the NFL Draft, and talked about the crowds I witnessed on Sunday’s at local bars when a 49ers or Raiders game wasn’t on the air.

To cap it off, I went around the room and asked each staff member to name their favorite football team. Much to my surprise, 90% of the room pledged their allegiance to teams not named the Raiders or 49ers.

evidAfter going through that exercise, it was easier for the staff to understand why it should be a bigger part of the radio station’s content strategy. The data and visual evidence supported it, and that made it easier for the group to accept.

Sometimes, we get in our own way. We’ll tell ourselves that we know what the audience wants because we want them to like what we personally care about. If they differ in their opinion, we try to sway them towards our way of thinking, rather than making the adjustments ourselves.

But if the content evaluation process doesn’t take place regularly, and you’re not treated to the information that makes your audience tick, then you’re allowing opportunities to pass you by.

I believe that most on-air talent care about the opinion of their Program Director. They want to please the person they work for, even if they don’t show it. They respond quicker to negative feedback than positive, but deep down, they crave the attention and dialogue. They want to know the PD is listening, invested in the show, supportive of their decision making, and has something of value to add. If they don’t, they shut down quickly.

todoNo matter how many things appear on a programmer’s ‘To Do List’ each day, when they meet with one of their hosts, the talent wants to feel like the only thing that matters is their show. The way the PD guides the meeting and responds to the talent’s questions will determine whether they stay interested or reject further dialogue.

Hosts don’t want to be told to deliver a show the way the programmer would. That’s a remedy for creating a giant divide between the two. But, if a coaching session occurs and specific examples, detailed analysis, and audio evidence is provided to help the talent see something they might be missing, they’ll respond more favorably.

Any person on this planet can tell another “I like that, do more of it” or “That doesn’t work, do less of it”. Explaining and showing why, makes all the difference.

If you’re going to hire a highly opinionated person, and ask them to not follow their natural instincts, it won’t work. The only way the feedback takes shape is if they buy into it. When they see the details, and hear your thoughts, it opens their mind. Once they do it, and gain results, it becomes easier to gain future buy-in.

futureOnce a host trusts your ear, respects your point of view, and knows that you’ve put the time into helping them find a way to connect bigger with the audience, that helps the relationship ascend to a higher level. It affords you an opportunity to create and enjoy future success together. That alone makes doing the research worth it.

For the sake of this piece, I thought I’d provide a content evaluation I did for an on-air talent. I’ve removed the individual’s name, and changed the market, and only included two segments worth of analysis from their show.

When a talent receives something like this either from their Program Director or Producer, it tells them you care about their show and have a grasp on what they’re doing. It’s important to provide positives, as well as constructive criticism because the only way someone improves is when they hear both.

The one thing I’d suggest is to send this to the host after the show. That allows them to keep their on-air focus, and discuss it with you once they’ve had time to disconnect from the program and process the critique. They may not agree with every part of your assessment, but they’ll respond to your analysis, and appreciate you for doing it.

OPENING SEGMENT:

  • Red hot out of the gate by proclaiming “The Minnesota Wild are done” – this instantly grabs the audience’s attention on the day when the Wild are facing an elimination game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
  • You dive right in on hating to be the bearer of bad news, but you believe in being honest, and you see no evidence that supports a way for the Wild to avoid elimination.
  • After setting the scene for the game, you give out the # (you’re more than welcome to try and change my mind) and use a good boxing analogy to further establish the point – “the Wild are that fighter that’s getting worn down round after round, and you’re not sure if they’re going to get knocked out early, or hang on to lose by decision, but you know they’re not leaving the ring victorious“.
  • GREAT one-liner “The 40 Year Old Virgin is scoring more than the Wild” to emphasize the team’s biggest problems (Let that line hang out there for a second – being in a rush to hit the next point can take away from the impact).
  • Nice job using some key stats to paint the picture and support your case (0 goals in 175 of 180 minutes this series – the Wild went 20 mins without a shot last game, and they’re 2 of 26 on the Power Play) – clever line used “stats are like bikinis, they show some things but not all“, and followed up with a dose of truth “even if you want to believe in this team tonight, every key piece of information goes against them – this is why I’m struggling to see a way for them to win.”
  • Halfway through you tease NFL Draft/#1 Pick selection in 5 minutes – you’re going to tell the audience what the biggest mistake the Bucs could make with the 1st overall pick – good suspense and topical.
  • Back to the Wild elimination game talk, and another quick one liner about Zach Parise being on a milk carton and missing – please alert the authorities if you see him – (these one liners are quick and memorable, just be careful of not overdoing it).
  • You offer up the other side of the topic to provide some hope – one thing, be careful about playing both sides of the fence – it’s ok to explain it but reaffirm where you stand. Let the audience offer the other side to counter your position.
  • Mid-segment, you offer more analysis on why the Wild are unlikely to prevail and toss to audio of Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo which brings the momentum to a screeching halt (there’s no emotion, opinion, or drama in what he’s saying. If the audio doesn’t fire you up or add something new to the content, skip it – don’t use audio just for the sake of incorporating it).
  • Text line response from a listener who’s pissed at you for painting a negative picture in advance of tonight’s playoff game (Bleep You Dude) – funny, and offers you an opportunity to reset and remind people why you don’t see the game turning out well.
  • – The content now switches to the NFL Draft (reset here, give your name and remind the audience you’re subbing for the afternoon host) – nice job of setting the scene by sharing how you struggle in life with over-analyzing things, and explaining why the Bucs can’t operate the way you do with this year’s #1 pick.
  • GREAT opinion and explanation on why Tampa can’t trade the pick – “if you look at the last 10 teams to win a SB, they all had Top 10 QB’s when they won. 50% of all 1st round picks turn out to be busts. Jameis Winston will be a Top 10 QB. That’s what you need to win. You can offer 4 first round picks & my answer is NO. He’s the best QB prospect the past 10 years not named Andrew Luck. His arrival takes the Bucs to 6-8 wins” – Great confidence & insight, and a relatable subject. Really good content.
  • Teasing to break – At 3:30, former Minnesota hockey player Brian Bellows drops by, has his opinion of Zach Parise changed? But coming up next, nobody in Minneapolis realizes how special this could be (good suspense).
  • *Try not to tease 2 things heading into a break – people rarely remember both – stick with what’s next. Overall this was an excellent start to the show…..great attention grabber with the opening statement – The Wild Are Done! On the day of a playoff game, you have their attention, even if they dislike the opinion…..you laid out your case for why you feel the way you do, and used facts and color to do so. A lot of it makes sense. Now it’s the audience’s job to poke holes in your theory and try to change your mind.
  • Midway through I liked the switch to the NFL Draft and the commentary on why the Bucs can’t consider trading the #1 pick. It was strong. When an audience hears a host say “you can offer 4 1st round picks for the #1 overall pick and the answer is NO, the pick is not for sale” their ears perk up…..that’s gutsy, interesting, and offers room for a strong pro/con discussion on the topic. Given that we’re 1 week away from the NFL Draft and you’re in a football rich market, this will be well received. We can debate if Winston is a Top 10 QB, on the same level with Andrew Luck as a prospect, etc. but that’s what makes it fun. Really interesting topic, laid out well.

SEGMENT #2:

  • You start off giving the station call letters and your name and dive right into a tweet that criticizes your opinion on the Wild – nice response explaining why you don’t believe they can win tonight (Be sure to reset the topic first before the tweet since people who missed the opening segment know what you’re talking about and can play along.)
  • The transition is made to resetting the NFL Draft talk – “the biggest mistake the Bucs can make next week is trading the #1 pick” – no price is high enough to deal it, Jameis Winston is going to be a Top 10 QB, a Ben Roethlisberger clone, and if the Bucs don’t take him, it’ll hurt their franchise for years to come“. One suggestion, although NFL fans follow the entire league, local people care most about the team in their own backyard. Consider how to make this relatable to Vikings fans by pointing out a previous draft blunder they made, and how it impacted them. Then relay how the Bucs passing up Winston would compare. That’s just another way to add an extra layer to the topic.
  • Quick Text – what round are the Bucs drafting Jameis’ babysitter? Clever response from the audience, good job responding to it.
  • You then take a call from Hugh who adds “you took off your fan cap and put on your radio hat to fire up the audience and get them to call in about the Wild” – After explaining that you don’t do shock jock content, Hugh asks about the top 2 QB’s entering the draft & asks about the hockey spirit and why the Wild are allowing fundamental mistakes to hurt them.
  • *** The caller placement in this segment stunted the Jameis topic which could have been gold – the previous tease was about something being special in Tampa – was that about the Bucs/Jameis or something else? Make sure you’re clear so the audience gets a payoff for what they were promised. Don’t leave them to guess, make it easy to play along.
  • Good move mentioning that the opinion may be harsh and it might have required some massaging, especially on the day of an elimination game, but maybe I can make it up to you by offering you this – the Minnesota Twins are going to the post-season this year – book it! ***This is a strong opinion, sure to fire up local baseball fans, and it shows that you’re not against the local team’s and their success. Your proclamation gives every local baseball fan the one thing they all crave – hope! I’m guessing this is what the tease was about right?
  • That leads you to explaining that people outside of Minneapolis have no idea how good the Twins are. You point out how good their youth is and how they’ve won 6 of 8 despite injuries, and have one of the better young rotations in baseball, and run scoring is a half point higher. Those are all good reasons for explaining why you’re optimistic about them. You then set the scene on the wildcard picture and explain how you believe the Astros will come back to earth, and the other spot up for grabs is a complete crapshoot.
  • * If the Twins need to secure 1 of the 2 wildcard spots, tell me how they measure up against the teams that are going to be in contention. How do they going to stack up to the teams in their division and to some of the more formidable teams in the race – Astros, Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Blue Jays, etc. Explain the obstacles in their way, and why they’ll pass those other clubs and prove the experts wrong!
  • Tease – Brian Bellows next, is his perception of Zach Parise changing? He tells us next (Very good – one focused item, with a question that leaves the audience thinking).

FOUR KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Let your bold statements, strongest opinions, and one-liners hang out there for a second – it allows people to process things and ask “What? Did he just say that?” For example, “the 40-year Old Virgin scores more than the Wild”, “If you offer me 4 1st round picks for this #1 pick, I’m not interested”. Both were great, but didn’t have a chance to settle. Let it bake for a second.
  • Pay off your teases – they’re excellent going to break, but when you come back they’re not always provided or made clear – it’s not only about teasing content, it’s important to deliver on what you promised too. Not doing it will frustrate your audience. I love what you’re doing to keep them curious. Just make it easier when you return.
  • Using Audio – GREAT audio can make a segment, BAD audio can break one. If it doesn’t provide emotion, drama, suspense, humor, or an ounce of information to support or counter your opinion, don’t feel obligated to use it. Think of the soundbite as being a prop in your show. It’s supposed to enhance the overall content experience. If it’s getting in the way of your best material, leave it out.
  • Segment 1 vs. 2 – The first one flowed nicely, and offered a mixture of strong opinion, quality information, and humor. You went 7-8 minutes on the lead story, before switching to a secondary topic, which also provided many of the same qualities. It was an excellent start to the program and easy to follow…..now contrast that with your second segment, which started without letting folks know what you were hot on, and then switched into a quick discussion on the #1 pick, a text on that subject, a caller on the NHL playoff game, and conversation on the Twins…..It’s ok to change topics, but make the direction easy for the audience to follow…..if in segment #1 you were on a highway and got off to take a side road to reach your destination, segment #2 you were on a side road, headed back to the highway, got off the next exit, hoped to find an alternate road, stumbled onto one which wound up working out but added time to your trip…..lots of good material, all a matter of connecting the dots to make it easy to process.

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

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When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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