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Takeaways From The Podcast Movement Conference

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Chicago is a fascinating city with incredible views and strong spirit. It’s one of my favorite places to travel to in the country. So when I learned that the Podcast Movement Conference was being held there, I knew it was a trip I had to make. The feedback on last year’s event was positive and as the world’s appetite for audio grows on a daily basis, I figured there’d be some valuable lessons to learn.

FullSizeRender (17)Although the windy city was transformed for a few days into the home for heat and humidity, that didn’t temper the enthusiasm inside the halls and rooms of the Hyatt Hotel. People were genuinely excited to be in town for the event and many of them were relatively inexperienced in the podcasting space but hungry to learn more.

From session to session content creators and podcasting executives discussed the benefits of storytelling, passion, artistry, self-expression, and engagement. Observers listened and asked questions geared towards helping them produce better content to further connect with audiences and advertisers. There was even a stronger showing of support from the radio industry which many who I spoke to considered a positive step for the podcasting industry.

Much of the credit for the event’s success belongs to Dan Franks and his staff. The sound quality was excellent, the speaker’s were great, the light displays and stage structures looked sharp, and the materials given to those who attended were helpful. Even the sign in process was smooth. They say preparation is half the battle in delivering a great event and the organizers of the conference had their act together.

FullSizeRender (18)However, there were a few things that I believe can still be improved, specifically in the sports radio universe. Did you know that of all the attendees at this year’s conference, only 4% came from the sports and recreation field? If myself and wrestler Colt Cabana didn’t attend I wonder if that number would’ve been 2% or lower. Aside from the weak showing by sports attendees, there were a few other items that caught my attention. Some were positive, some were not. Here are some of those key takeaways.

Attendance/Enthusiasm – One of my favorite parts of this experience was simply observing how invested people were in the conference. There were nearly two thousand people in attendance and a genuine joy was felt throughout the room. Attendees were eager to listen, ask questions and take the knowledge back home and apply it. Some of that is the result of inexperience but it also reminded me that the passion for creating and listening to audio programming remains alive and well.

pmc2Compared to most radio conferences I’ve attended, this one had a better energy in each room. People valued the advice being provided by each expert, and seemed proud to be associated with the event. It felt like a three day celebration for a family of podcasters.

This is an issue for many current radio conferences. Industry folks attend them with preconceived notions of what will take place and they leave without being surprised. The same old cliches are offered repeatedly (content is king, distribution is queen, play the hits, radio is a thriving business, etc.) and it’s debatable whether the majority of people are excited to be there or view it as an opportunity to get away from home for a few days and reconnect with industry friends outside of each session.

Networking is certainly important but a better presentation on-stage featuring some new names, faces, and voices might keep people a little more interested.

PMC4Speakers and Panels – Upon entering this conference I knew only one of the featured speakers – Kevin Smith. His performance alone is worthy of an entire column but that will have to wait for now. I didn’t get to hear everyone, but I did walk away impressed by Smith, Glynn Washington, Alex Blumberg, and Anna Sale. Each focused on something unique and important to them and gave those in attendance a lot of information worth using and sharing.

Sale, hosts a podcast called “Death, Sex, and Money” and focused on the similarities between creating a podcast and having a baby. She shared advice on starting a show, building a community, developing a brand, and improving the content. Her point about each host needing a good editor and being willing to share their messy drafts and accept critical feedback was on point because it’s exactly what a good talk show host does when working with a producer. If you think a producer’s there simply to screen calls, dial up the guest and fetch you coffee, then you’re missing out on the benefits of their involvement.

Washington meanwhile, hosts a podcast called “Snap Judgment” and instantly got my attention when he uttered the line “I don’t care about podcasting….I care about stories“. Given that we were at a podcasting conference, the room quickly took notice. He focused his time on the power of storytelling and shared details of his personal experiences while providing a few interesting video samples. One in particular of storyteller Josh Healey really stood out. You can watch it by clicking here.

glynnWhat I loved about Washington’s speech was that it was deep, authentic, and powerful. He dove into the troubles happening in the world and described how storytelling can help in the healing process and influence change. He compared telling a story to picking scabs, and reminded the room that the best stories are developed from smaller events.

Then came my personal favorite, Kevin Smith. The filmmaker and actor took the stage to explain why he loves podcasting and how he got started. From the second he took the microphone to his final word, he had the audience on the edge of their seats. Smith was passionate, informative, funny and unfiltered and caused many to laugh, listen, and even cringe as he worked in at least one F-bomb every 5-10 words. His swearing was so over the top that attendees took to Twitter to engage in dialogue with others in the room about how many curse words he’d deliver by the end of his session.

Tossing out F-bombs doesn’t make a speech unique, but his style and insight was refreshing. Kevin talked about his enthusiasm for the podcasting platform and related his success at it to the way he navigated through a successful filmmaking career. He offered a lot of life advice and memorable quotes that could have easily filled up the walls of many NFL locker rooms.

ks4Along the way Smith served up some doozies including ‘failure is just success training‘, ‘there are two paths, creation and destruction‘, and ‘the first step to self-expression is losing the fear‘. He encouraged people to not be afraid to create a podcast and reminded them that the beauty of doing it is that it doesn’t require talent. As many wondered aloud how that could be, Smith brought it home by adding ‘it takes talent to build the walls inside this room and get stuff not to fall down, but it doesn’t take talent to have a conversation…it doesn’t even take talent to stand on a movie set and play Batman. Ben Affleck f’ing did it.’

Blumberg closed things out by discussing the future of podcasting, the reasons people seek out audio content, and the buzz words that are part of a successful podcast. His line “The first golden age of audio was radio, the second is podcast” drew a strong response and it was clear that he’s very optimistic about where the podcasting business is headed.

I particularly enjoyed his discussion on the power of empathy and how audio/radio can be an agent of empathy and understanding to help the world heal. He highlighted audio’s ability to provide stronger narrative and companionship than any other form of media and his mixture of humor and intelligence struck the right balance and perfect tone for closing out a successful three day event.

FullSizeRender (22)Too Much Quantity Not Enough Quality – It’s no secret that the word ‘podcast‘ has become trendy in audio circles. Everyone is eager to do it and as much as I love the fact that there are thousands of new options for people to enjoy, it’s difficult to separate the good from the bad. Eric Nuzum who oversees the Audible division for Amazon put it best when he said it’s like going to a flea market and sifting through the trash to find the treasure.

In some ways it’s no different than YouTube where millions of people upload video content and some become future stars and others remain invisible. Does that matter? Should it matter? That depends on who you ask.

For the business to make a dent long-term it needs to offer more Adam Carolla’s and Bill Simmons’ to advertisers and audiences, and less Johnny and Freddy Broadcaster’s. It also needs to continue prying great talent from terrestrial radio, just as satellite radio has done over the past decade.

One area where this is a real problem is in the sports audio space. The quality of sports talk talent on radio compared to podcasting isn’t close. Podcasting companies don’t seem to be focused on sports even though it’s a massive business. I sat in sessions where Audible, Gimlet, Midroll, Spotify and other groups shared tips, ideas and details of forthcoming projects and none covered sports programming. The only time I heard it even mentioned was during a session which featured Traug Keller of ESPN Audio and Greg Strassell of Hubbard Radio. Why sports isn’t a bigger focus I’m not sure.

moneyRevenue and Growth – Arguably the biggest statement of the entire conference was that radio is a 2 billion dollar annual business whereas podcasting is a 100 million dollar industry. Even if those numbers are slightly off, there’s a huge disparity between the two. That begs the question, is podcasting really the next big thing or a cool niche idea? Most people don’t disagree that on-demand audio interest is rapidly growing and being a content provider is important but whether or not it can be monetized and developed into a thriving business remains questionable.

In watching many of these sessions, I learned that it can be very uplifting for people to hear thirty minutes of positives about the industry they’re in. There’s something invigorating about being a podcaster and having control over your own storytelling, self-expression, authenticity, and not being a slave to advertisers. It’s sort of like being a writer and being able to blog without a newspaper editor reining you in. Or being an independent musician and playing the songs you feel like playing rather than the hits that label representatives require you to so they can sell your next album or single.

rcBut here’s your reality check. The world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and the economic returns in the podcasting world are low compared to radio. If the financial numbers echoed throughout multiple sessions are accurate, that would make the radio industry 20x more profitable than the podcasting business. That’s enormous.

As I thought about that disparity I wondered how the space could become more profitable without muddying up the content experience. Making matters worse is that ad agencies are still unsure about investing bigger dollars on the platform. They’ve increased spending in recent years and are expected to do so in the future but the level of spending versus other traditional media is lower.

So when does it bottom out? Is podcasting a $200 million dollar business? $300 million? $500 million? Can it surpass where radio is? Or is its present performance the best it has to offer?

podcastingMy Final Thoughts – The radio industry has a big decision to make. Does it go all in on podcasting or take a cautious approach? With dashboards and desktops continuing to represent where users spend the majority of their time consuming audio, and the ad community slowly increasing spending rather than making sizable investments, it’s hard to picture radio groups putting podcasting on equal footing with their over the air products.

In the past, radio has been slow to adapt but this is a space that is difficult to judge. It’s not as simple as looking at whether or not audiences are interested in the content or whether people will listen more on phones, tablets and digital dashboards. I do believe the platform is growing, and I love that the user experience is clutter free and able to be enjoyed whenever the user wants to listen. The number one question though is how can it be monetized better?

I’ve yet to see anyone step forward with a secret recipe to excite advertisers. Shows in this space are generally shorter and delivered less frequently, and advertising opportunities inside of the programming are fewer. It may be appealing to the user, but it’s a lot harder to justify spending larger dollars on it for sponsors and operators.

IMG_1438So how do you fix it? Will the public pay for it? Audible is banking on that with the launch of their new service ‘Channels’ which offers 40 original high-quality shows. Amazon believes that if you provide a great content experience and target it to people who find value for that particular form of programming, they’ll invest in it.

Other suggestions for monetization include developing branded content, increasing live reads, developing sponsored contests, creating live event revenue opportunities, and providing merchandise. Those all sound great and should help but they’re all things that are offered in radio.

The fact of the matter is that despite being in existence for quite some time, podcasting brands are still relatively unfamiliar to a large number of people. To influence a change in spending or listening takes time, promotion, and most importantly – a lot of money!

Radio has decisions to make about its own level of confidence in the podcasting business. Groups such as Hubbard, ESPN Radio and E.W. Scripps have placed their support behind it, and others offer on-demand audio on many of their brands and appear intrigued by the idea of becoming larger players in the future.

FullSizeRender (24)As radio contemplates its viability in the digital audio business, the podcasting community needs to understand the importance of walking before running. Replacing the radio business isn’t going to happen tomorrow or the next day and expecting advertisers to make drastic changes in the way they do business doesn’t happen without effort, patience, and sustained performance. The space is attractive to listeners and creators, and if good judgment is used in the future, and more quality programming is provided, who knows what the industry’s ceiling is.

The one glimmer of hope I’ll leave you with is this. It’s easy to suggest that podcasting won’t surpass radio. A case can easily be made today to demonstrate why its economic potential is limited. However, in 2000 you’d have laughed if I told you that the UFC in 10-15 years would pass professional boxing in terms of popularity and revenue growth.

If you missed it, the UFC was purchased on Monday by WME/IMG for 4 billion dollars, after initially being purchased in 2000 for only 2 million. I’m not suggesting that podcasting will be to radio what the UFC became to boxing, but no one truly knows what the long-term economic potential is. As long as quality audio programming continues being created, and audiences continue clamoring for it, that’ll help determine if podcasting is the next big treasure or fool’s gold.

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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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