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Lessons Learned Last Week In Las Vegas

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Sin City was electric last week, thanks to its usual festivities, and the arrival of the 2016 NAB Show. Over one hundred thousand people invaded the region to get a closer look at the future of broadcasting, and it didn’t disappoint.

Although radio had its moments, and fair share of quality sessions, it was hidden in the background. Crowds gathered for drones exhibits, video conferences, discussions on digital and social media, virtual reality sampling, and conversations with the world’s top media minds.

It was inspiring to see thousands of people gather in one area to appreciate the media industry. It restored my faith that many still value innovation and creating quality programming. Radio may lag behind in these categories at times, but other industries see it being essential to their future success. That’s refreshing.

nab-1Because I had four days with minimal distractions, I was able to observe a lot. I enjoyed eavesdropping on various radio sessions, and am still trying to comprehend how I managed to survive an entire trip in Vegas without emptying my wallet on casino slot machines. I spent less than five minutes playing, and didn’t participate until the final day of my stay. After six spins, I hit for $250 dollars, and proceeded to cash out. Not a bad way to end a great trip.

Leisure gambling has its pluses and minuses, but I’m not here to discuss that. Instead I want to share with you, what I took away from the NAB Show last week.

It was a solid experience, that I recommend checking out if you haven’t done so before. If the only thing you care to learn about is the radio business, then it might not be your cup of tea. Instead you may want to attend the NAB Radio Show this September in Nashville.

nab-4However, there’s a lot happening in this world. While my focus may be on the radio industry, I also enjoy taking advantage of opportunities to learn something new. If the world’s leading experts are going to gather in one city, and share secrets on how they’ve succeeded, then I’m going to soak up every ounce of knowledge they’ve got to offer because you never know when an idea or trend from one industry might become valuable to the one you make your living in. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy seeing drones perform up close?

Now on to the observations.

Mike and Mike – The ESPN Radio duo were inducted into the NAB Hall of Fame, the result of a successful seventeen year partnership on the nation’s largest sports radio network. Greeny and Golic not only deserved to be honored for what they’ve accomplished on the air, but the way they’ve conducted themselves as individuals during the course of their careers also speaks to their integrity and character as people.

Prior to the induction ceremony, CAA sponsored a pre-show gathering which was jam packed. Whether that was due to the Mike’s being present or free booze being available is up for debate. Mike and Mike gave an impromptu speech, and thanked everyone for being part of their special day. The room had its fair share of heavy hitters in it. Most of ESPN Radio’s management figures (Traug Keller, Dave Roberts) were in attendance, as were other broadcast leaders such as Dan Mason, Bill Hedrich, Jeff Smulyan, Greg Solk, and Bob Profitt.

nb-mmWhen it was time to be recognized, the duo were introduced following a great video which captured the essence of their show during its seventeen year run. They expressed their gratitude to the NAB for recognizing the show and what it had accomplished, and offered a few doses of their humor during a short but effective speech.

One thing about Mike and Mike that many in our business overlook is how seamless they make everything look. For seventeen years they’ve woken up five days per week at three or four AM to go perform on radio. In 2004 they added a television simulcast which only further exposed the program. Now imagine having every one of your opinions, jokes, questions, or comedic bits under the world’s microscope every day. Anything they say or do can appear in print or be used against them by agents, players, teams, or their own company.

They have to serve multiple masters with different agendas while being socially active and responsible. Add in working with sponsors, and creating content that will fuel the radio department’s success online, and satisfy affiliates, plus traveling for road shows where they’ll be expected to interact with fans and local teams/clients during each day of the trip. I didn’t even mention yet the actual work of preparing, watching games, and trying to maintain some semblance of a family life.

How many shows could handle all of that? Many say they can, but it’s harder than you think.

It’s all of those reasons above why Mike and Mike are now members of the NAB Hall of Fame. Their induction ceremony was classy, and one of the highlights of the entire week.

Failing To Read The Room – During the course of one hour, Kim Komando managed to reel in an audience, only to lose them. Her command of the stage was strong. Her knowledge and passion for her brand, and the industry was sharp. But over preparation, and an inability to adjust sucked the air out of the room. Not exactly the way you want to setup a Hall of Fame induction for two popular personalities.

KimI felt bad for Kim because if this were a normal conference, she’d have passed with flying colors. But many in this room were there to see Mike and Mike enter the Hall of Fame. Picking this day to present an hour long infomercial on the Kim Komando show reflected poor judgment. I witnessed multiple CEO’s and executives switch from being invested in her commentary to getting annoyed. A few even left the room. I could be wrong but I don’t recall her saying a word at the end about Mike and Mike. I asked multiple people and they didn’t hear it either.

Because Kim’s speech dragged, it caused the session to run past its scheduled time, and reduced Mike and Mike’s time on stage. Kim is very talented, and has an excellent story to share, but if there’s a lesson to be learned, less is more. Be ready to abandon the script. If you don’t, you’ll lose the crowd, and your message will fall on deaf ears.

The Las Vegas Sports Radio Scene – I had an opportunity to run into two old friends during my visit. Mitch Moss, who produced for me at 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, now hosts middays on ESPN 1100. Matt Perrault, who I’ve known for a over a decade and auditioned for me once in St. Louis at 101 ESPN, hosts evenings on Yahoo Sports Radio.

nab-2Each broadcast their shows from different locations. Moss operates out of a radio studio off of the strip, and Perrault from a created studio inside the Palazzo casino.

What I didn’t realize before my journey to Las Vegas was how many sports stations operate in the city. There are seven stations listed as operators of the format. Granted, most of them are national brands, but that is still too many for a market which has under 2 million people residing in it.

If there’s one benefit, it’s that the city receives some of the best tourism support anywhere in the country. That makes it easier to create effective promotions and remotes for local stations. It also further provides evidence to the NFL and NHL that the city could be financially productive if either league elects to move one of its teams there in the future.

Networking – If there’s one major benefit of heading to a show like the NAB, it’s the opportunity to meet and mingle with numerous people in the industry who you might not normally run into. That’s one of the real joys of the experience for yours truly. Spending time with Kraig Kitchin, making small talk with Fred Jacobs, Dan Mason, and Michael Fiorile, catching up with old ESPN teammates Ray Necci, Amanda Gifford, Pete Gianesini, Liam Chapman, and Justin Craig are all part of what made the trip memorable.

I was surprised though by how many broadcast executives I ran into seemed to be in a rush to get out of each room. I realize that not every conversation is going to be fruitful but if you’re going to take the flight, stay in a hotel room, and engage in hour long sessions discussing the future of radio and why it’s a business people should want to be involved in, you should probably allow for some time to indulge the audience afterwards. This is their opportunity to meet you, compliment your work, and ask a question or two. There’s no harm in that right?

hellum2Guys like Erik Hellum of Townsquare, and Jeff Smulyan of Emmis were gracious with their time, so I don’t want to paint a picture that lumps everyone in as being distant. That wouldn’t be fair. I’ve been in this industry for twenty years, and fortunate enough to foster enough relationships that I don’t need the extra face time, but for those who don’t travel much, and are new to the business or considering entering it, the way they’re treated during face to face discussions can impact whether or not they pursue a career in our industry.

It’s silly to take the stage and express concern about a lack of interest in the industry from younger people, but then hightail out of the building when they ask for a few minutes of your time. Maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of this then I should, but I bet people will take notice when the next Steve Jobs chooses a different line of work because he or she was turned off by the way radio people responded to their request for time.

Joe DiMaggio used to say “you never know who’s watching you for the first time, so always give your best”. That’s some great free advice for some of our people to consider.

Appreciating Innovation – Fred Jacobs moderated a session on innovation which featured Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan, NPR COO Loren Mayor, and National Radio Talent System CEO Dan Vallie. While each participant spoke on behalf of their organizations and the numerous things they were doing, the one who connected most with me was Smulyan. That’s probably because he was the one person with enough guts to launch an all-sports format in New York when everyone told him it was a stupid idea which had no chance to succeed.

jeffsHe used that same mentality to launch the first hip-hop station Power 106 in Los Angeles, which was also thought to be another one of his terrible ideas. Now, he’s facing similar backlash for his belief in the Next Radio app.

Truth be told, I don’t know if his latest project will or won’t pass the sniff test. Many have poked holes in the project, and some of the criticisms are valid. However, I can appreciate that Smulyan is taking a risk to try and make industry measurement better.

Often we complain about radio not receiving its full share of listening, and sales people and market manager’s everywhere cling to old articles which tout radio’s massive 93% reach. The reality though is that the ratings system is tremendously flawed. I refuse to accept that what we have provided to us from Nielsen is the best that we can do.

If Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter, and iTunes can figure out how to measure their audio and video offerings, and provide excellent analytics for clients, than radio should be able to do the same. We see advanced data with our mobile and digital sessions, so why can’t the quality of measurement for over the air listening be the same?

The Next Radio App might be the solution radio needs, or it might not. That Smulyan is willing to bet on it, and invest his time and resources to make it work speaks to his confidence in the product. Many people talk about innovation, but few have the scars to prove they’re trying. Jeff not only sets the example for his company, but he does so for many in the industry. That alone gets my respect and appreciation.

Millennials – I apologize in advance if this comes across as negative, but it’s time for radio to take a good hard look in the mirror when it comes to talking about how to reach the younger generation. For starters, work needs to be done on the arrangement of some of these panels. Rather than rolling out the same industry people again and again, how about including some members who actually live, breathe, and speak the lingo of the audience that the industry claims it wants to reach?

millennialsNo disrespect, but how many sessions on reaching millennials must be staffed by members who are above fifty and sixty years old? Do we honestly believe that younger people are going to take their cues from people that don’t live their lives the same way? It’s no different than telling someone older to take their cues on investments, and retirement from a twenty year old.

I’ve spent the past six to eight years attending multiple conferences, and every single time I go, I’m left befuddled by the image crisis that plagues radio. We talk about the future, and being ahead of the curve, yet those who think that way, and are likely to create the next big thing that helps our industry are left back in their studios.

There’s something to gain from every single person who speaks on a panel, so I want to be clear that this isn’t only about age. I believe that including an older perspective in the conversation is important. But, when variety isn’t provided, and a mixture of opinions, ages, genders and races isn’t offered, you miss the whole point.

For radio to succeed, it has to reach everyone. You can’t do that when the chosen mouthpieces come from the same neighborhood and fail to relate to those living in other locations. There are enough people in this business to create thought provoking discussion. I’d like to see the organizers of these conferences work harder to produce original sessions that provide a variety of personalities and opinions and leave everyone in the room thinking.

Right now there’s a lot of butt kissing, rah-rah speeches, and solutions coming from one side of the street. If radio really wants to move forward, and reach young people, it has to be open to hearing their perspectives, and involving others who actively shape our brands each day. I’ve heard many industry folks complain about these issues at each conference I’ve attended. It’s time something was done to make these sessions balanced and valuable rather than using them to reward our industry friends.

What About The Product? – The final issue that stood out during this conference was one that people at the higher levels may not even realize is happening. CEOs, Corporate Executives, and Market Managers focus their discussions on sales, investments, expenses, radio’s increased listening percentages, and the importance of growing digital and mobile revenue.

But, do you know which one area isn’t mentioned? Their products!

It’s the brand, and the programming it provides that leads a person to listen, and grow from being a casual fan to a station advocate. Without highlighting the reason why we matter to audiences, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.

The majority of people who attend these conferences want to learn why your brands matter, what you do to make them unique, how you’re positioning yourself in the digital space, and where you see the future. They want to absorb your passion for radio, not be treated to a sermon on business acquisitions, and why you’re debt-free or considering bankruptcy.

So why does this happen?

jobsThe honest answer is that most radio executives are removed from the product development portion of their organizations. They are focused on big picture growth, finding ways to monetize their investments, and networking with various industry people to help advance the company. They perk up and offer more opinion when digital is raised as a topic, but that’s because they see the majority of business heading in that direction, and they know they have to play in that space to warrant a larger piece of the revenue pie.

Look around the industry today and you’ll find numerous operations run by people with strong sales backgrounds. There’s nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, understanding business and how to make money is an important aspect of the job.

But so is recognizing what makes your brand’s special, and the reasons why they succeed. If an organization’s leader doesn’t have a passion and understanding about the brand’s they’re responsible for, and why they matter, they’re missing out on the most important sale of all. It’s easy to toss around catchphrases like “content is king”, and maybe you’ll hide out in the weeds for a while and trick people, but at some point, listeners and advertisers start to vacate and results begin to dip if they sense you’re unattached to your products.

Can you imagine if Facebook didn’t have Mark Zuckerberg or Apple never had Steve Jobs? The reason why companies like Apple, and Facebook (two of the best of all-time) have been a giant success is because they were run by people who understood business but had a deep passion and connection to the product.

If you look at the annual keynote addresses provided by both groups, they’re well attended, and covered by various national media outlets because people genuinely want to hear what they have planned for the future. It’s easy to buy in and see the vision because the discussion revolves around the product, the future, and how each brand will work to further satisfy its consumer’s growing wants and needs. They focus on innovation, and pleasing their fans, not their investors. It’s the old adage “if you build it, they will come”.

Because they deliver fascinating products, it leads to results. Yes the business does matter, and each are in business to turn profits, but make no mistake about it, they succeed because of a vision for their brands, and an ability to passionately communicate it to those who pay attention.

markzNow imagine Tim Cook (Jobs’ successor) or Zuckerberg leading one of these radio conferences. They’d be given a stack of papers to explain ratings growth, stock price activity, company debt, and how to generate more sales. When the subject of programming and product improvements are raised, they’d defer to someone else, because they don’t have the answers.

As I listened to numerous sessions where questions were asked to panel members about finding new talent, creating exclusive digital content, incorporating video into radio, and fighting off competition from Pandora, Spotify, and Satellite Radio, I heard a lot of generic replies, and a whole lot of insufficient details. That’s not a good look.

There are certain sessions during a media conference that will pass with flying colors (Fred Jacobs’ innovation session). There are other ones which will appeal to your personal interests (Mike and Mike enter the HOF). Unfortunately though I find myself leaving many of these trips with more questions than answers. I just hope the younger generation who are considering a career in our industry aren’t doing the same.

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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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