Young people often ask me “how do I get started in the media business”? It should be easy to answer, but it’s not. That’s because everyone travels a different path to their first break.
In many cases, internships are an advantage. They help you get your foot in the door. Then it’s up to the individual to work their tail off and prove that they have that extra-something that stands out. During my programming days I’d have my Assistant Program Directors oversee the process, and we’d identify 1 or 2 of the 10-15 people who came through the door that were worth holding onto at the end of the quarter. When interns know that their hard work could result in a future job at the radio station, they’re more inclined to give their best effort.
But what if an internship isn’t an option? Some stations require college credit to get inside the building. In my opinion, that’s one of the silliest rules in our industry. Why would a radio station turn down free help? Especially from people who see the internship as their one big shot? I know insurance salesmen, bartenders, callers, and contest winners who occupy the airwaves in major markets today. If someone has talent, passion, and dedication, that’s what should matter most. If a radio station hadn’t allowed me to intern (without being in college at the time), I’d have never gone on to program in three top 20 markets, produce some of the industry’s top national shows, and host my own program.
If there’s one advantage today that didn’t exist when I was working my way up, it’s that the internet and social media have created platforms for people to develop their skills and expand their connections. Every aspiring broadcaster has the opportunity to podcast, record videos on YouTube, and establish a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Periscope.
I’ve said this many times, there’s no excuse for young media professionals to not seek out program directors, corporate executives, talent, and producers on social media. The worst someone can do is deny your request. If they accept it, you get a chance to interact, and understand who they are, and what they value. That relationship has potential to one day lead to opportunity IF you have talent and the fit they’re looking for. Most jobs in this business are filled through word of mouth, internal connections, and external relationships. It’s a lot harder to be unknown to a hiring manager, and land a great position based on submitting an email or filling out an application.
Since starting my own company, Barrett Sports Media, I’ve had a chance to spend more time researching people, listening to different markets, and reading websites that I didn’t get a chance to enjoy as much in the past. One site that I’ve spent more time reading lately has been Outkick The Coverage. It’s run by Fox Sports personality Clay Travis, and features a good mix of sports coverage, media topics, and pop culture.
It’s on Outkick The Coverage that I became familiar with Mattie Lou Chandler. When she first reached out expressing interest in writing a column for the website I was unfamiliar with her background. I’m not a viewer of the Bachelor or Bachelorette, so I had to venture into unfamiliar territory and read her recaps of the show to get an idea of her style. What I discovered was that her writing was conversational, inviting, and very entertaining. In one of her recaps she said “If I make a joke that Johnny Manziel is currently going through his 2007 Brittney Spears phase, you better laugh“. It was hard not to chuckle and continue reading.
That left me wondering though if she had an ability to write deeper content. After doing some research, I landed on a story she wrote about Jameis Winston. The headline read, “A Victim’s Perspective on Jameis Winston and FSU“. In the article, she opened up about some of her personal experiences and how they related to the story, in addition to sharing her opinion on how Jameis Winston conducts himself. I was impressed with her willingness to put a personal side of herself on display because not everyone has the courage to do that.
After sorting through a number of her stories, and getting familiar with her witty, sarcastic, light hearted, and direct personality on Twitter (how can you not appreciate the opening line on her profile – “Attempting to combat the Wussification of America“), I touched base to ask her what she’d like to write about. After brainstorming some ideas Mattie Lou came up with the column you’re about to read. I think you’ll find it really helpful if you’re looking to open the doors and develop a career in the industry. Especially if you’re female.
There are a few areas that I think are especially valuable. From the way she got her break, to her approach to social media, to discovering the importance of finding your own niche and being willing to sacrifice and work multiple jobs at once, if it’s something you want bad enough it can be accomplished.
This story is refreshing because it reminds me that working in sports media still remains attractive to many people. When you get paid to do a job that you love, and invest everything you have in becoming great at it, there’s no telling how far you can go. But don’t take it from me, hear it instead from Mattie Lou Chandler.
Getting Started Without Experience
A female, in sports, who has zero experience. Two and a half years ago, that’s what I was. Sitting in the cube farm of corporate finance, miserable. My dad had a rule when I was little, you’ll watch an hour of SportsCenter each day during the summer before he watched My Pretty Pony or something of the sort with me. His reasoning was that it would make me well rounded and I could converse with boys and girls. It’s not only paid dividends, but it spurned my love of sports. Okay, I’d be lying if I said growing up spending Saturdays in Athens, Georgia and witnessing three BCS National Championships while in college didn’t help significantly.
While in college at The University of Alabama, I could never decide what I wanted to major in. It’s a common dilemma for many students, but I couldn’t settle on anything. Attending a school that is so immersed in sports, my parents quite frequently asked, “Why don’t you go into broadcasting and be like Erin Andrews?” I usually came back with some response about every division one school popping out fifty or so EA wannabe’s a semester, and not being interested or “do you realize how pretty she is?” What did I decide on? That would be Finance, General Business, and Computer Science.
So, how did I get to where I am now? Well, insert Outkick the Coverage, Clay Travis, and Twitter. Clay created a now extremely popular website that’s hosted by a major network, but it has a unique component. The Bull Pen, where you can submit articles in the hopes of them getting published. Everyone at Alabama follows and knows Clay. I was a huge fan of his so imagine my surprise when an email from him appeared in my gmail account saying I needed to write the Bachelor recaps for OKTC. Long story short, my best friend submitted our pledge class recaps and well, the rest is history. Except, the Bachelor isn’t sports.
This is where the necessity of social media comes in. To say I have a love hate relationship with it would be the understatement of a lifetime. As Chrissy Teigen put it, “females in sports have the worst mentions in Twitter.” How bad? My first hate tweet is framed in my house. It was like a badge of honor, which is ridiculous, almost like I had gained some credibility. I created my OKTC Twitter towards the end of my first season of The Bachelor recaps. I thought it would instantly take off and I would get a lot of followers quickly, but not so much. You have to be interacting constantly, it’s the nature of the beast. This is how I started to weave in sports to prove that I could offer more than just Bachelor recaps. College Football and golf, are my first loves, so that’s what my Twitter content consists of.
Social Media is an incredible tool if you utilize it properly. Not only do you have to constantly be active, but you have to differentiate yourself. It won’t be enough to be a not completely unfortunate looking blonde who knows some fun facts about football and golf. The best advice I got before I walked into my first agency meeting was, “don’t walk in there and say you want to be the next Erin Andrews.” What do you want to do? How do you want to be presented? Whoa. I needed to hear that a week before the meeting, not twenty minutes prior.
Six months after writing for Clay and Outkick, I met him in person. The internet is a weird place and I have entirely too many “internet friends” that are in the industry that I’ve either never met or have only seen a few times, and we all think it’s normal. I digress, Clay wrote a book called “Dixie Land Delight Tour” where he went to every SEC school in one season. Our meeting was in the summer before the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff and he suggested given my deep experience with tailgating in the SEC that I go on a version of his book and write about it from a female’s perspective. “Wait, you’re going to pay me to tailgate and talk about college football? Is this real?”
This is how I was going to differentiate myself. I wasn’t going to try and talk x’s and o’s, because while I know the basics and have learned a lot, I’m far from an expert. So I don’t try to be. I’m a southern belle, but I’m witty and can be a guy’s girl. It’s the wholesome, girl next door vibe that comes with the sassy side you never saw coming. I realized this would benefit me greatly for the audience I was writing for, but I had to play to my strengths. You have to know your demographic and target audience.
As I stated before, being a female in this business can be brutal. There are good days and bad days. You’re going to have to work harder than the men sometimes, and that’s okay. I’m sure you’re all thinking, “wait, you just walked into this job with no journalism experience?” Yes, Clay gave me an opportunity to get my foot in the door, BUT while I quit the corporate world, I’ve worked as a nanny for at least forty hours a week. I then go on the road for three days during the season, and am back at the nanny house at 5:30am on Monday’s.
If you want to be in this industry, you have to go all in. You have to send the DMs to the random radio station that followed you to beg for a segment. You have to check Twitter and get your opinion out when your friends are begging you to get off your phone. You have to write a bunch of articles that will never get published, and you have to take the ones that offer to help you and provide you with advice. Poor Todd Fuhrman, I’m sure he regrets ever offering to help me as we now talk daily about different stories and the best way to approach things. Most importantly, you have to want it, or this business will eat you alive.
I still have much to learn, and I’m just getting started. In two and a half years I’ve gone from writing Bachelor recaps to heading into my third season covering college football for a major network’s website. I appear frequently on radio show’s across the country, have developed a decent social media following, and I’ve had the opportunity to interview for additional opportunities….all while still nannying.
Don’t go into sports journalism for the money. You’ll more than likely be disappointed. To say it’s been an interesting ride would be an incredible understatement, but it’s only the beginning. Don’t worry if you don’t have a journalism degree or don’t think you know enough. Reach out to people in the industry whose work you respect, and the good one’s will be more than happy to help. In most cases, someone did the same for them. All that matters is getting that one opportunity to get your foot in the door, but you have to continuously build off of it.
Mattie-Lou Chandler is a writer and media personality for Outkick The Coverage and Fox Sports. To connect with her or book a future media appearance, follow her on Twitter @MattieLouOKTC or on Instagram @MattieLouC.
BSM Summit Adds Borrell, Crain, Cutler, Goldstein, Scott, Shapiro & Thomas
“The Summit is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited.”
The 2022 BSM Summit continues to add firepower to the sports media industry’s premier conference. After previously announcing the first twenty one participants to take part in March’s event in New York City, another seven talented media professionals have been added to the speaker schedule.
Making his BSM Summit debut in 2022 will be the media industry’s leading business analyst Gordon Borrell. The well respected and accomplished CEO of Borrell Associates is featured frequently in the trades and mainstream publications for his insights on advertising trends and forecasts in local media. Borrell will join Amplifi Media CEO Steven Goldstein on stage at the Summit for an in-depth discussion on the advertising climate in 2022. The two men will offer insights and opinions on what advertisers value most, where they’re expected to invest future dollars, which categories will continue to rise and decline, and what brands can do to position themselves better to increase revenue. Additionally, Borrell will be hosting his local advertising conference in Miami a few days after the Summit. Those interested in heading to South Beach and learning more about the marketing world can learn more by clicking here.
Switching to the content end, the Summit is thrilled to welcome The Volume’s Jake Crain to New York City. The host of The JBoy Show will also be making his debut at the conference. Crain will be part of a talent panel along with John Jastremski and Kazeem Famuyide.
Also making his debut at the Summit will be Carl Scott. Meadowlark Media’s Executive Director of Audio will join our podcasting panel featuring Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones and The Volume’s Head of Content Logan Swaim. Hubbard Radio’s Digital Content Director Phil Mackey will guide the conversation.
Not everyone participating at the Summit will be new to the audience though. Returning to the stage as part of our GM’s discussion will be newly appointed Audacy Boston Market Manager Mike Thomas. Thomas recently led ESPN 1000 in Chicago as the station’s GM after working with Mark Hannon to turn 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston into one of sports radio’s top performing stations. It should be noted that each time Thomas appears at the Summit it follows a recent promotion. We figure by 2023 or 2024 he’ll be running the entire industry.
A Summit isn’t complete without attention given to programming matters. To help us address some of those key issues, we’re excited to welcome back the Vice President of FOX Sports Radio & Podcasts Scott Shapiro. The passionate network executive who oversees many of the nation’s top national programs is always a great listen for folks interested in learning how programmer’s view and tackle the industry’s most important affairs.
Last but certainly not least, voice talent extraordinaire Jim Cutler will return to the stage to lead a session on storytelling. One of the industry’s prominent station voices and creative minds has a penchant for putting on entertaining and informative sessions. If you’ve attended the conference before, you’re already aware. To those planning to catch this one, you’re in for a treat.
Keep an eye out over the next two weeks. We’ll be making additional announcements involving a few high profile talents we’ve lined up for the 2022 BSM Summit. A reminder, the event is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited. I realize some folks may prefer to wait until the last minute to make sure the world is safe. If you’re not comfortable flying to NY for the show, we do have an option in place to enjoy the conference virtually thanks to NuVoodoo Media. For more information on tickets, click here.
That said, the in-person environment is excellent. If you haven’t attended the Summit before I think you’ll find the two days in New York City to be time well spent. This conference is not open to the general public. You must either presently work in an area of the media industry or be pursuing a degree in the broadcasting field.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we still have some sponsorship opportunities available for the show. We’re thrilled to have the support of great partners, ESPN Radio, Premiere Networks, FOX Sports Radio, Stone Voiceovers, Compass Media Networks, Point to Point Marketing, and Core Image Studio. If you’d like to be part of the event too, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com for additional details.
One final note, airfare is low right now. There are roundtrip flights to and from New York from many major cities for less than $200.00. We’ve also secured a low hotel rate of $109.00 per night at Hotel Edison in NYC to help companies and individuals keep costs down. The sports media industry has endured two years of difficulty due to the pandemic, preventing many from networking, learning, celebrating, and growing. The two days we spend together in the big apple won’t solve every issue facing our business, but I promise you’ll leave the show more informed, more connected, and better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
Hope to see you in New York on March 2nd and 3rd.
Where Are The Sports Radio Programmers of Tomorrow?
“As someone who’s helped many aspiring programmers over the years, I’ve seen less new people seeking out advice the past few years than they did from 2011-2019.”
I don’t get the opportunity to write as often as I’d like to. Consulting projects make that harder these days but I do miss it. Fortunately I’ve been able to assemble a quality team to deliver news and industry opinions to your inbox and social media platforms each day. If you receive our emails, then you should notice one of those improvements today with our BSM 8@8 Newsletter. If you aren’t receiving our emails and would like to, click here to sign up.
The reason I chose to write today is because there’s one specific area of our industry that I’m concerned about and need to draw attention to. That’s the emergence of tomorrow’s sports radio program directors.
If you work in or follow this business, can you recall a year during the past decade where we saw more programming changes in sports radio than this one? I can’t. WFAN in New York, WEEI in Boston, KNBR in San Francisco, WIP in Philadelphia, Arizona Sports 98.7 in Phoenix, ESPN 97.5 in Houston, 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, 750 The Game in Portland, ESPN 94.5 in Milwaukee, The Fan in Indianapolis, 107.5 The Game in Columbia, ESPN Las Vegas, 1620 The Zone in Omaha, and 98.1 The Sports Animal in Oklahoma City have or are soon to undergo PD changes. This follows a year where 101 ESPN in St. Louis, 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, WFNZ in Charlotte, and 680 The Fan and 92.9 The Game in Atlanta changed programming leaders. 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, ESPN 1000 in Chicago, 710 ESPN in Seattle, and ESPN LA 710 went thru changes too in the fall of 2019.
Twenty three brands undergoing change at the top of a station’s programming department in that short period of a time is an eye opener. But what really stands out are the lack of new faces to arrive on the PD scene let alone even come up during the interviewing process.
For every Rick Radzik, Amanda Brown, Kyle Brown and Qiant Myers who were elevated to PD positions over the past two years, there are proven leaders like Kevin Graham, Jeff Rickard, Tommy Mattern, and Terry Foxx who’ve landed in new situations. Those folks absolutely deserve those positions, so let me be clear, proven PD’s should always be valued. As I’ve told many decision makers before, a great PD is a difference maker. The film industry pays big money for Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese and Quintin Tarrantino because their track record highlights their abilities to deliver box office hits. Proven PD’s who can do the same for a radio station deserve similar respect.
But if you’re a younger person looking to advance your career into a programming role today, how do you take that next step let alone earn the nod when more experienced people want the same gig? Who’s advocating on your behalf? How would a corporate executive or market manager know that a producer, board op, promotions director or part-time host is capable of becoming the next great programmer?
Better yet, how does any corporate executive or market manager running a local brand know anything about your management style, vision, multi-platform skills, ability to lead people and work with multiple departments, and create exciting content, events and promotions if you’re working for another company in a different city? Here’s the answer, most times, they don’t. You apply for the job, your resume and email arrives in their inbox, which leads to them asking others about you. If someone you’ve crossed paths with says something good about you, you might get a call. If not, your materials go on file should the station have future needs.
Having led PD searches for a number of brands the past few years, I think the first step is finding out who’s interested in growing. Does anyone know of your desire to one day lead a brand besides the host you work with and the programmer you work for? Who have you sought out to gain knowledge and mentorship from outside of your building? Are you counting on an internal promotion to become a leader or assuming your PD will hype you up to potential employers? What are you doing to make sure the right people know you’re hungry to take the next step and you’re ready to go wherever an opportunity exists?
As someone who’s helped many aspiring programmers over the years, I’ve seen less new people seeking out advice the past few years than they did from 2011-2019. Maybe folks don’t think to come my way as much. Maybe they assume the company they’re working for will take care of them when the time comes. Maybe they don’t have the motivation to relocate or upset their current situation. Maybe the pandemic forced folks to press pause on pursuing advancement. Or maybe the role of a program director isn’t as appealing as it was to leaders from my era.
Some assume that because they’ve been successful at producing, and have done it for a long enough time, it means they’re ready for the next step. But programming is much more than managing a show. Not everyone is built to handle a verbal lashing from a market manager, balance a budget, negotiate deals, coach high profile talent, understand and examine PPM ratings, and unify departments. Let’s not forget interactions with corporate, being multi-platform skilled, knowing how to study and attack the competition, dealing with negative PR, and being the brand leader who keeps play by play partnerships in a healthy state.
If you’re behind the scenes in the sports radio industry, your path will most likely lead to becoming either a host, PD, moving into sales/marketing/imaging/digital/corporate or leaving the business. Top 10 markets and national networks are an exception as there are some very talented producers who’ve continued to work with top shows/stations for a long time. Both invest more in off-air positions. In many other cases, the financial upside for behind the scenes help is limited so eventually you reach a fork in the road when you have to decide the best path forward to make a decent living.
But those looking to take the next step don’t often think about positioning themselves to land the next big opportunity. They don’t take time to build relationships with key executives who they’ll one day interview with for a top job. Instead they think about that day’s show and the immediate tasks at hand. You can be the most creative, multiplatform savvy, best guest booker and strongest talent coach in America as a producer but if nobody else knows it outside your building, it’s going to be hard to take the next step. Which is why you have to make time to help yourself. You can start by emailing me. That can’t hurt.
Program directors have a responsibility here too. They should be making time to teach and push their behind the scenes people to want to advance their careers. They should also be telling anyone who will listen why one of their own is ready for the next step. Not enough do that. I can count on one hand the number of PD’s who’ve come to me championing one of their own for a top programming job over the past six years since I began helping stations find PD’s. Just going thru the interview process can be huge for an off-air professional who dreams one day of leading a brand. It helps them learn what to expect, how to present themselves, which areas they need to improve on in order to make the jump and most importantly, it shows them you care about them and their professional development.
I know that the job is busier today than ever for a PD and finding time is a pain in the ass. But coaching people is one of your biggest strengths. It’s why why you’ve been trusted to lead your brand. When twenty three positions open up and more than half require hiring elsewhere in the country and turning to folks inside different companies, that should raise eyebrows. Have you told others to consider someone on your staff? Did you push for them to be interviewed, even if they weren’t the right fit because you knew it’d serve them well later? Did you invest time in them to to make sure they were ready for the next step? And that doesn’t mean just giving them the crap you hate like filling out affidavits, building clocks, and corresponding with the traffic department.
Have you conducted 1 on 1’s with all of your off-air crew and learned who aspires to one day do what you do? Have you taught them how to analyze ratings and content? Sit in on show meetings? Critique talent? Recruit future staff? Participate in creative brainstorms or sales meetings? Have you told your GM or other high ranking executives or PD’s in your company about their passion to lead?
It should go without saying that if you’re in a position to lead and develop people, that it applies to more than just on-air talent. It should include grooming future programmers too. Any executive with oversight of your brand should be asking “who on your staff is ready to take a step?” If the answer is no one, they should be asking what your plan is to change that so the answer is different the next time they ask. If you’re skilled enough to lead a brand for years or even decades, those above you should want to protect the future by having you develop the next crop of programmers too. Your report card as a PD isn’t complete if all you can point to are good quarterly ratings. There are plenty of brands who’ve won in spite of their PD and others who have lost despite having an elite program director.
By the way, shouldn’t a PD want to see people inside their operations get called upon to take the next step? As hard as I pushed my crew to perform in St. Louis and San Francisco, when one got an opportunity to become a PD, APD or EP I was proud as hell. There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing someone you have mentored, challenged and cared about take their career to a higher level. If you spend years in the position and have producers and assistant programmers not landing opportunities, let alone receiving calls to be interviewed for openings, you should be asking yourself ‘what haven’t I done to get them to that next level’ and ‘do I have the right people here who want to grow?’.
Lastly, I recognize everyone is under pressure to add good help. A station operating without a leader in the programming department creates a lot of problems, especially when it lingers for months. But you also need to find the right people or you end up with bigger problems later, most notably, others questioning your ability to hire the right people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned going thru these processes with different companies is that often times, decision makers want to move fast and find people who are referred by others they know and respect. If they hear a few good things said in conversation by a candidate that match what they value, they’re ready to move forward. Some get caught up in resumes or similar experiences/interests but not all ask the right questions and research people well. It’s amazing what you’ll learn if you investigate properly and ask questions that make folks uncomfortable. If you’re going to trust someone to lead your brand and staff, and set the tone for your operation, spending the extra time to be sure about those you hire is absolutely necessary.
Taking a chance on the APD or smaller market PD isn’t as safe as hiring a veteran leader. If you have a proven winner interested in your opening and feel confident that they fit your needs, I’m all for them being hired. But don’t make the mistake of assuming someone with less experience can’t make a greater difference. Imagine if we were back in 2004 and you passed on Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg in favor of a proven Newspaper editor to lead your brand’s digital strategy. How would you look today? That could be your radio station in five years if you overlook those with an ability to see the future better than the present when future openings arise.
To grow this format we need a mixture of new blood, new ideas, people who view the audio business differently from those in the present or past, and proven performers who’ve helped turn this format into a very successful one. We have to ask the right questions, fully research candidates, challenge our executives and programmers to take a greater interest in developing the next crop of sports radio executives, and consider new roads rather than the ones we’re most familiar with. We also need to hear from people who haven’t told us of their interest in taking the next step. We need to encourage them to want to grow and show them the path to do so. If we each do those things better, our format is going to spend a lot more time thriving and less time surviving in the years ahead.
John Skipper To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit
“In January 2021, Skipper’s plate became even more full when he reunited with Dan Le Batard to create Meadowlark Media. Since joining forces, the group has raised millions of dollars in funding, lured key talent to join the brand, and in April, Meadowlark closed a deal with DraftKings for a reported fifty million dollars over three years. Not too shabby for year #1.
Putting on a two-day industry conference comes with a fair share of challenges. Months are spent building sessions, selling sponsorships, and talking to so many people that by the time the event rolls around, all I can think about is reaching the finish line and avoiding major issues.
But then the event happens, and there are moments where I’m able to block out the noise for 30-40 minutes and just be present in conversation. It’s what I enjoy most. Being able to sit across from an industry leader who’s been successful in business, and pick their brain on the past, present and future of our industry is both personally and professionally fulfilling. Not only does it provide me with an education, but it helps everyone in attendance too. That’s my motivation for running this conference.
When we return to New York City on March 2-3, 2022, I’m thrilled to share that I’ll have a chance to do that once again with someone I’ve professionally respected and admired for a long time. It is an honor to announce that Meadowlark Media CEO John Skipper will join us for a special on stage conversation at the 2022 BSM Summit.
If you’ve worked in this industry or aspire to, then you’re likely aware of what John has accomplished. He’s seen the business from many different points of view and remains very much involved in helping shape its future. But before we discuss his present involvement, let’s revisit the past.
During his tenure with ESPN, John spent five years serving as company president where he secured a series of long-term, multiplatform agreements with key rightsholders such as the NBA, NFL, MLB, Major College Conferences, US Open Tennis, FIFA, the Masters Tournament and British Open, the College Football Playoff, and the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls. He also oversaw the evolution of several brands including The Undefeated, Grantland, five thirty eight, and espnW among others.
Prior to becoming company president, John held the position as EVP of Content, which he earned after helping create and introduce one of the most successful magazine launches of the 1990’s with ESPN The Magazine. His understanding and belief in digital helped ESPN move ESPN. com forward in 2000, adding a paid section, ESPN Insider, and delivering a revamped site approach to generate more advertising. His foresight also spurred the launch of ESPN3, a television network producing more than 4,000 live events on the web and through mobile devices. If that wasn’t enough, John also supported the creation of the Watch ESPN app, played a key role in elevating the careers of many of the industry’s top sports media stars today, and oversaw the growth of ESPN Films, ESPN Radio, and many of ESPN’s key television programs.
After exiting the worldwide leader, John signed on as the Executive Chairman of DAZN. In January 2021, Skipper’s plate became even more full when he reunited with Dan Le Batard to create Meadowlark Media. Since joining forces, the group has raised millions of dollars in funding, lured a number of key talent to become part of the brand, and established a strong presence in podcasting and on YouTube. In April, Meadowlark closed a deal with DraftKings for a reported fifty million dollars over three years. Not too shabby for year #1.
What I’ve appreciated about John is that he’s never been afraid to roll the dice and take risks. Some of his moves have worked out, others haven’t. The wins have been recognized across the industry, but so too have the losses. He’s had to lead a company thru high profile talent controversies, cord cutting challenges, understand the world of video, audio, print, digital, advertising, subscriptions, talent, and rights deals both domestic and internationally, all while keeping his finger on the pulse of the present state of the media business while turning an eye towards the future and knowing which areas the company should make significant investments in.
John has been thru all of it as a media executive, and he’s still doing it while building the Meadowlark brand. A recent story in Bloomberg captured some of his views on growing the Le Batard empire and navigating various parts of the industry. I highly recommend taking time to read it. You can do that by clicking here.
We have five and a half months until we’re inside the Anne Bernstein Theater in New York City, so who knows where the industry will shift during that time. One thing is for certain, John Skipper will be ready for whatever lands on his doorstep. I’m eager to spend time with him in New York treating industry professionals to his insights, opinions and leadership lessons. I’m confident those in attendance will gain value from hearing his perspectives on the industry.
I invite you to join us either in person or virtually for the 2022 BSM Summit. Tickets to the event can be purchased by clicking here. For information on sponsorship opportunities, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
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