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Staying Ahead of the Curve In Sports Radio

Jason Barrett

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In sports media circles it’s well documented that Jamie Horowitz is looking to turn Fox Sports 1 into an opinion driven programming network. He’s gone on the record numerous times stating that he’d like to add what he calls “opinionists” to his channel’s roster. Personalities such as Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless, Jason Whitlock, Clay Travis, and Nick Wright are fit that description.

Whether the vision and execution will work is yet to be determined, but what I appreciate about Horowitz’s strategy is that he’s aiming to develop his network as the place to turn to for the opinion leaders in sports media. So much of today’s sports content is built from reaction to what unfolds in sporting events, and commentaries made by those playing or talking about sports, so choosing to build a brand around opinionated personalities and content isn’t a bad idea. Many have said he’s essentially taking sports talk radio and putting it on television.

When you look at how Fox Sports 1 stacks up presently, they’re way behind the worldwide leader in sports in many categories. Awareness, ratings, play by play deals, digital growth and even the size of the talent roster, all fall short of ESPN. They’re also nearly forty years behind in terms of branding, comfortability, and dependability with the audience.

To turn the tide in their favor it’ll likely take a decade or more, and that’s assuming they continue to make major improvements. The process will be long, painful, emotionally exhausting, and it’ll require smart strategy, risk taking, change, and achievable short-term and long-term goals, and a firm commitment, and great amount of patience from the higher ups at Fox Sports.

Even then, the plan still may not work. But what will take place if they stay committed is the creation of a legitimate competitor, and a brand with an identity which differs from ESPN. That gives the viewer a choice when seeking sports programming.

The reason I’m interested in their approach is because I see them seizing one part of ESPN’s identity, and looking to build their own empire around it. For sports fans, ESPN represents multiple things. They offer an abundance of play by play, SportsCenter, high level reporting, opinion driven programs, documentaries, and a collection of high profile personalities. It’s their mission to serve sports fans everywhere, and venture into all areas of sports programming, not necessarily focus on one particular area.

By placing less focus on highlight shows, documentaries, and reporting, Fox Sports is putting all of their eggs in the opinion basket. In doing so, they’re hoping to establish an identity, and generate enough traction to put themselves in position in the future to consider adding other elements to that strategy.

Which brings me to the radio industry. If there’s one area where the business underperforms, it’s in creating the next big trends in original programming. From digital to podcasting to ratings measurement, and other areas, staying ahead of the curve has never been radio’s strong suit.

Today, if you turn on your television, you’ll find a strong supply of sports programming options. Channels such as ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, SEC Network, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, NBC Sports Network, CBS Sports Network, NFL Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, and the NHL Network all have something for you to enjoy. I didn’t even mention all of the regional sports programming channels, TNT’s select coverage, the Tennis Channel, Golf Channel, beIN Sports, Pac-12 and Big Ten Networks, or the slew of others.

When you examine the digital space, another wide variety of options exists. If you’re in the mood to read sports content, ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo Sports, Bleacher Report, Vice Sports, SB Nation, Sports Illustrated, and Sporting News are available. If those brands don’t meet your needs, each sports league, and every single team in collegiate and professional sports has their own website. There are even other smaller sites which are built around specific sports, leagues, local regions, and personalities.

In sports radio, we find nearly eight hundred stations offering sports content. The majority of the formats though are similar. Brands are often attached to one of six national networks (ESPN, CBS, NBC, FOX, Yahoo, ESPN Deportes), and a large number use the same brand names, voice talent, and programming strategies.

Some of these stations will rely on their network associations to identify their brand. Other local talkers use monikers such as The Fan, The Ticket, The Game, The Score, The Zone, or The Team. The only things major differences are the personalities, content focus, network affiliations, and play by play associations. Even then, the content on these stations revolves around all-sports talk programming targeted towards each market’s local teams, and the biggest national stories making news.

We could debate station names, network associations, and the way many brands implement similar sounds and strategies, but I want to shine the light on a bigger issue – a lack of choice and originality for local audiences.

If you look at the top 25 markets, you’ll find a minimum of two sports stations offered in each city. In many cases, there are three or four radio stations offering sports talk programming. In nearly every one of these situations, each station provides all-sports programming. This means that the topics are driven by the news and results produced by the area’s local teams. Big national stories also warrant discussion.

Take for example the cities Denver, Houston, Miami and Portland. They each have at least four stations offering sports programming. Aside from offering different local shows, and on-air talent, and entering into business with different national sports networks, much of what they provide in terms of content is the same.

Sandwiched around their network hours are local programs which talk about the local market’s teams, take calls, interview guests, and possibly offer play by play of local or national games. They even provide sports updates two or three times per hour.

When the ratings and revenue are taken into account, some of these brands perform well. Others fall far below the mendoza line. For those that don’t pull their weight, they’ll either invest less, change the talent, or entertain a format change to something non-sports related. The one thing they rarely consider is a different way to present sports programming.

I want you to place yourself in the position of an owner of the third or fourth best performing sports station in a marketplace. If your competitors have a dedicated audience, strong ratings, and high revenues, do you honestly believe you’re going to make inroads by doing the same thing they do? Here let me save you a lot of time, money, and aggravation, you won’t.

So what can you do? How about doing some research in your market, discovering what matters most to people, and then creating a different form of sports programming?

Sports radio doesn’t have to consist of all-sports focused shows on radio stations which feature a mix of local and national content. It also doesn’t have to feature sports updates, personalities from the same walks of life, or the same voices and sounds that we’ve grown accustomed to.

This isn’t to suggest that you’re going to become the market’s leader by introducing a different version of the format, but if you want to create an identity, separate yourself from the competition, and help your ratings and revenue, sometimes being bold, and original pays off.

As you scroll through some of these possibilities, remember that they may work in some locations, but not in others. For example, a college sports radio network may be well received in the southeast, but not up north. This is where research comes into play. If you analyze the makeup of people in your city, and tap into their passions for specific sports, teams, people, and content, you’ll give yourself a fighting chance. That can be the difference between staying afloat, or sinking.

College Sports Programming Network: SiriusXM has done this incredibly well, and we’ve seen the same occur on television with the launch of the SEC Network, ESPNU, Pac-12 and Big Ten Network, and many others. So why hasn’t the format been offered by terrestrial radio?

Is it not possible for a company to create it and offer it to a number of stations in markets where the programming has mass appeal? Don’t you think local radio companies in college towns would have an interest?

If a group launched an all-college sports programming network, and partnered with a company like Learfield, IMG, or Westwood One to add college play by play to the mix, they’d have the ability to stand out in a number of locations. The focus would primarily be placed on football, and basketball. Other exceptions may be worth considering from time to time.

The right cities, towns, and regions have to be considered, and local operators have to be open to changing network affiliations, but if ratings and revenues aren’t high, that becomes a much easier conversation.

Hispanic Sports Programming Network: This is an area that even the television industry should be taking a closer look at. First of all, there are over three hundred and fifteen million people in the United States. Caucasians are the largest group of people, but Hispanics now represent 15% of the total population. That makes them the second largest race in our country.

When you look at states like New York, California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, the percentages rise to well above 25%. In major cities it’s an even bigger deal. For example, Miami is 51%, Los Angeles 43%, Houston 34%, San Diego 31%, and New York City is 24%. Other major cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, and San Francisco are all above 20%.

These aren’t just some of the largest markets in America, they’re also the locations where most of the nation’s advertising gets done. Buyers realize that the Hispanic population is rapidly growing, and selling products has to extend beyond Caucasian males and females.

Rather than introduce the seventh or eighth sports television channel or launch another sports radio station which does the same exact thing, how about building a programming around Hispanic talent? I’m not suggesting either that the content be presented in Spanish. It would be delivered in English by a station comprised of Hispanic personalities.

Many in our industry label Los Angeles, Miami and Houston as weak sports markets, yet each of them are heavily Hispanic and under represented on the local airwaves. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that connecting to that audience in each of those cities is important. If done right, it could produce great results. Some will suggest that it won’t, but until I see someone try and fail, I remain optimistic about the idea.

Black Sports Programming Network: Similar to the Hispanic programming idea, African Americans are also under represented, especially on sports radio. In television, we have channels like BET which cater to the African American viewer. In radio, multiple companies have launched urban brands which have been well received by predominantly black audiences. Urban sports for some reason hasn’t been considered, at least not on-air.

In the digital space, The Undefeated was launched by ESPN. Another website Black Sports Online operated by Robert Littal has also entered the fray.

But why hasn’t radio examined the possibility? It can’t be for a lack of options. Personalities like Stephen A. Smith, Michael Smith, Jemele Hill, Stuart Scott, Jason Whitlock, and Michael Strahan have proven they can shine on the national stage, and local talents such as The 2 Live Stews, Michael Holley, and Terry Foster have demonstrated they can be difference makers too.

So why not explore it further?

According to the U.S Census Bureau, in Washington DC, African Americans outrank Caucasians 48% to 36%. In states like Mississippi, and Georgia, blacks represent 31% of the population. In Maryland it’s 29%, and in South Carolina, and Alabama, the number stands at 27%.

I’m not suggesting that a network or locally programmed station featuring all black personalities would play in every part of the country, but I challenge you to show me proof of why it wouldn’t work in some of these locations. I can find local brands built around network programming in many of these towns that don’t deliver a big number, yet an idea like this isn’t even considered, even though the statistical data suggests it’d be worth discussing.

Team Centered Sports Radio Stations: We’ve seen a few teams own radio stations, and face backlash because their content is viewed as being team controlled. But what if an independently owned radio station chose to brand themselves around a local team, and focus their entire content presentation around them? Would it be different?

Some stations seek to be everything to everyone, rather than tapping into the one or two teams that matter most. Imagine if you ran a third sports station in New York. If you went up against WFAN, and ESPN NY, and offered the same strategy that they do with different talent, you’d get killed. But if you positioned yourself as the New York Football Network, that would at least peak the curiosity of local football fans.

Using that approach, all of your shows would be built around the Giants, and Jets, and the rest of the NFL. Your talent roster would feature people who were recognizable to New York football fans, and had strong knowledge and passion to discuss the sport. You could even supplement your coverage by adding Monday, Thursday, and Sunday night football, or aim to pry away the rights to one of the market’s two local teams when their deals expired.

This isn’t just a New York idea either. If you were running the third or fourth station in another market, and a local team had a stranglehold on local audience and advertiser interest, connecting your brand to them would be wise. Teams love being the center of attention, and certain ones carry such prestige with the audience that it’s impossible to deny the value of being connected to them.

If your radio station was built around non-stop Lakers in Los Angeles, 24/7 Cowboys in Dallas, or all access Giants in San Francisco, you’d be further ahead than you would by positioning yourself as the third or fourth all-sports programming alternative. Would there be periods of the year when your station isn’t a destination? Yes. But, when you add it all up, you’d have many more months of strong listenership, and a unique identity in the marketplace. The brands sitting on top would definitely be aware of your presence.

Action Sports Programming Network: Imagine if a channel was built around the UFC, Boxing, and Pro Wrestling. Your immediate reaction is to tell me that it’d be too niche. A format like that would only make sense for SiriusXM or on a podcasting platform. And therein lies one of radio’s massive problems. It operates inside of the same box too frequently.

Did you know that of the top 50 podcasts in sports and leisure, 11 of them are either wrestling, or mixed martial arts related? Did you know that over one million people subscribe to the WWE Network? How about the pay per view business, what brings in its largest revenues? That would be Boxing, and the UFC.

Do you think the UFC, WWE, and Boxing world don’t attract advertisers, audiences, or ratings? On a weekly basis, the WWE is watched by three to four million people on Monday night’s and a few million more on Thursday’s. They also reach younger audiences which is why ESPN entered into a partnership with Vince McMahon’s company. I’m not even taking into account the audiences which watch other wrestling promotions on television.

Would this type of format work everywhere? No. Is it built better for SiriusXM than others? Probably. But would it not have appeal in certain local cities? That one we can debate.

How many local stations do we see across this country deliver weak ratings, little revenue, and offer the same exact strategy as the competition, only not as good? It happens more than you may realize. If a station or network was built around personalities like Jay Glazer, Joe Rogan, Mike Goldberg, Teddy Atlas, Chuck Liddell, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, and Jim Ross, it would have appeal.

Audiences are already seeking out the content. If radio made it easier to hear and find, some cities might just surprise you with their level of interest in the programming.

Bye Bye Sports Updates, Hello NFL Reports: The NFL is now a twelve month, three hundred sixty five days per year sport. It’s the number one subject that audiences crave, and it stretches beyond local borders. Ratings, and rights fees are at record highs, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. It’s why sports radio loves the fall, and dreads other parts of the calendar year.

In 2016, sports fans seek out information by reading multiple websites, and following specific brands and people on social media. If you think you’re giving them something they don’t know in a sports update by pointing out when your local team’s game airs later that evening or what happened the night before, you’re simply insulting their intelligence. That’s the classic case of doing updates the way they’ve always been done.

I should point out that I don’t believe sports stations need to air three updates per hour. I’m not sure they’re even needed. I love the addition of an extra voice, and I see value in using audio to redirect the audience back to your website to listen to a podcast, or piece of content from another show, but game previews, recaps, and scoring updates are a waste of air time.

However, what is undisputable, is that sports radio listeners love football. Having three to four minutes per hour to use on your airwaves for updates can be worthwhile if the content is branded, and presented around the NFL. If a station were to switch their SportsCenter, Sport Flash or Sports Update, to NFL reports, I believe the interest level would increase.

First of all, the audience is aware of local sports issues, and the bigger national stories. They aren’t always aware of what’s being discussed in other cities in print and on sports radio. If you can gather good football related audio or written stories from other areas, and present something different than what the on-air host is providing, they’ll gain value from your reports.

One thing we know about football fans, they want to be informed, or given insight that will help them with their fantasy team or upcoming bets. If you’re going to remove two to three minutes per hour from your top talent to air a sports update, it better be news that your audience can use. Football content gives you that.

Facebook Live Programming Opportunities: Sports fans are voyeurs. They love video. They’ll even watch it online without the sound. They tune in for simulcasts of a local radio show on television. They eavesdrop on personalities who broadcast on Periscope. Now with Facebook Live available, it’s become an even bigger sensation.

So how do you take advantage of it?

If you’re programming a sports radio station, have you considered conducting video chats with your audience to discuss things taking place on your airwaves? If you’re a host, are you utilizing it before or after your show? How much more invested would your audience be in the current day’s show, if an hour before you hit the airwaves, they had an opportunity to share feedback with you on something you were considering doing that day but weren’t sure about? What if your show meeting was captured on it?

Maybe your brand has a deal with a local player to call-in weekly during the season, and as part of your next agreement, it includes one in-studio visit to one of your shows, and a separate 15-minute video chat with your audience. Players and agents are usually receptive, especially when they’re being compensated and given a platform to extend their brand. You might even offer to do the chat on their turf or an area of their choosing that would make the experience unique for the audience.

The world lives on Facebook. It’s your responsibility to figure out how to utilize it to your advantage. Between the airwaves, your website, email distribution, text message pushes, and social media, the opportunity to draw people to your Facebook Live video offerings is easy.

Remember this, every single thing you do in life now is a potential video moment. Every relationship you create and develop, possesses video potential. The more you dive in, and present yourself, the brand, and those you interact with in a strong light, and the more unique experiences you create in the space, the more attached your audience will become.

Closing:

I could spend another thousand words explaining why an all-female sports programming network on television would have appeal. Why a network built around the greatest games in sports history would generate interest. How sports documentaries could be created for radio and turned into compelling programming. Or why a Spanish sports podcasting platform would draw an audience. But I think I’ve given you enough to chew on at this point.

I’m not going to predict that every one of these ideas will work. If introduced properly, offered in the right locations, and given reasonable goals and time to connect, they could. In the wrong places, with inferior talent, and run by groups expecting instant gratification, they’d fail.

It’s easy to debate what would or wouldn’t work, but the challenge is to continue thinking of different concepts, researching your market, and focusing your product strategy on what matters most to the people in your region. There’s no reason why we should consider ourselves restricted in this format. Music formats have discovered ways to create extensions of their formats, and sports can do the same. Given the results of some brands, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be testing more ideas.

Those that take the risk, not only will be trendsetters, but they’ll create additional buzz, and give themselves an opportunity to enjoy better ratings and revenue success. They’d also add some spice to a format that’s built on predictability, and either lacks the imagination to create new ideas, or fears the consequences of what might transpire if they installed them.

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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