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Digging Into The Content Evaluation Process

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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.

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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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Barrett Blogs

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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