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A Sneak Preview of The 2016 BSM Top 20

Jason Barrett



I discovered last year that there’s high interest in learning how radio executives view the sports radio format’s best shows. It was a project I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle at first because it requires a lot of time and networking, and regardless of the results, there’s no right answer. Everyone has different tastes and opinions, not to mention company allegiances, and markets are very different, but despite all of those reasons to not explore this dangerous territory, I dove headfirst into it because I felt the format deserved to be measured by those who play a part in shaping it.

Thankfully I did because the feedback and web traffic were exceptional, but what I appreciated most is that it gave everyone in the radio business a better idea of the way the format’s top thinkers view sports radio’s top shows, stations, and people.

Since then, I’ve seen more programmers and personalities take an interest in sharing news, success stories, and cool ideas they develop. That’s what really matters most. If we don’t share our stories and explain why the format is special to listeners and advertisers, then nobody else will do it for us.

That brings me to today, and I’m thrilled to announce that starting next Monday January 30th, the 2016 BSM Top 20 in Sports Radio will be revealed. We will start with local morning shows, then midday shows, and finish out the week with afternoon shows, national shows, and the format’s top programmers. The six day series concludes on Monday February 6th, the day after the Super Bowl, when we announce the format’s top stations.

There are a few things I want to point out that are part of this process, including a couple of changes.

Last year it became clear that the industry will reward major markets and ignore smaller ones when determining the best 20 in most categories. In sorting thru all of the results, markets 21 and up, were consistently left behind, no matter how strong they performed.

I understand that New York, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia are going to generate a lot of interest. They deserve to. But, if you’re a brand in one of those markets outside the top 20, and you deliver a 20 share month after month for an entire year, I struggle with explaining how that’s not worthy of industry attention, simply because of the size of your location.

To try and fix that issue, I’ve expanded this year’s results, and the voting panel. I’ve been fortunate to assemble 52 industry executives, and there are a strong mix of contributors who are voting on the top 20 programs for Major Markets (1-20) and another excellent group who have evaluated the top 20 programs for what I’m referring to as “Mid-Markets” (Markets 21 and up). The one category both groups have provided input on are the national shows.

This means that next week when the results are released, stations, shows and programmers from the smaller cities will be recognized in their own categories. We will feature the top 20 shows, stations and programmers for Major Markets, AND for Mid-Markets. Add it all up and you’ll get a look at the top 40 in each category.

Similar to last year, I have included people in the voting process from a large number of companies. CBS, iHeart, Entercom, Cumulus, Bonneville, Beasley Broadcasting, ESPN Radio, Premiere/FOX Sports Radio, and SiriusXM all have high ranking officials contributing to these results. There are also a few people from smaller broadcast companies, plus one independent member. In order to eliminate any confusion, I do not vote in this process. My role is to simply gather and provide the collective analysis of 52 sports radio executives.

When you analyze next week’s results, there are a few things I want you to take into account.

#1 – Our goal is to recognize the Top 20 programs that performed best in 2016, not which hosts or shows we’d hire tomorrow if we were launching a new sports station. Most voters take this into account when making their selections, but it’s impossible to be inside the mind of every person who participates, and know the true value they place on it.

#2 – If a show or host did not finish 2016 employed with the station they were working for, or if a program didn’t exist on a station’s airwaves for a minimum of six months, that show and/or host was not eligible.

For example, Michael Barkann and Ike Reese occupied middays on WIP for the majority of 2016, but the show was cancelled in late October. Therefore they were not considered for this list, nor were their replacements Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie, who only performed in the timeslot for two months. Other programs such as Josh Innes’ show on 790AM in Houston, Jorge Sedano, LZ Granderson and Keyshawn Johnson’s show in Los Angeles, and Chris Vernon’s midday show in Memphis were not eligible for consideration due to these rules.

The only category where we make an exception to this rule is for national shows since they are measured differently, and go thru more change. That category also includes a larger number of nominees.

#3 – If a show was cancelled or switched radio stations or companies in January 2017, that had zero to do with 2016. Therefore they ARE eligible. An example of this would be Stephen A. Smith leaving Mad Dog Sports Radio for ESPN Radio in January, Danny Parkins moving from 610 Sports in Kansas City to The Score in Chicago, and Terry Boers retiring from The Score in 2017. Since the results are based on 2016’s performance, all three would be eligible with their previous stations/shows.

#4 – If a show kept its foundation in place, but experienced some change in 2016, they ARE eligible. A few examples would be Tom Tolbert’s show on KNBR, which added John Lund  in July, Kirk and Callahan on WEEI, which saw John Dennis exit in August, and Marcellus Wiley’s afternoon show on ESPN LA 710, Ethan Skolnick’s show on The Ticket in Miami, and Mike Stone’s morning show on The Ticket in Detroit which added or subtracted cast members.

Capturing the collective feedback of an entire format is nearly impossible, but I’ve found that by using a points system for votes 1-20, and involving a healthy mix of individuals from all companies, it’s the closest thing we can get to determining who’s worthy of praise for a job well done. I appreciate the support of the industry, and everyone who participated in the voting, and look forward to sharing the results with you next week. To see the full list of shows and categories up for consideration this year, click here.

On a side note, I will be releasing the results of the top performers in sports television/digital on Tuesday February 7th. There are 16 questions, and the public decides the winners. If you’d like to participate, click here to vote.

Also, if you’re going to be on radio row in Houston, let me know either via email or Twitter. I’ll be making the rounds Wednesday-Friday, including taping a few conversations for the new BSM Podcast which launches on Wednesday February 8.

  • Monday January 30 = The 2016 Top 20 Major Market and Mid-Market Local Sports Radio Morning Shows
  • Tuesday January 31 = The 2016 Top 20 Major Market and Mid-Market Local Sports Radio Midday Shows
  • Wednesday February 1 = The 2016 Top 20 Major Market and Mid-Market Local Sports Radio Afternoon Shows
  • Thursday February 2 = The 2016 Top 20 National Sports Radio Shows
  • Friday February 3 = The 2016 Top 20 Major Market and Mid-Market Local Sports Radio Program Directors
  • Monday February 6 = The 2016 Top 20 Major Market and Mid-Market Local Sports Radio Stations
  • Tuesday February 7 = The 2016 BSM Awards, featuring the best in sports television, digital, etc.

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Rachel Nichols and Baron Davis Headline Final Speaker Announcements For the 2023 BSM Summit

“I’m sure Baron and Rachel will have all eyes and ears focused on them when they take the stage together next Tuesday at 2:45pm PT.”

Jason Barrett




The 2023 BSM Summit schedule is set. After months of planning and talking to everyone across the industry, I’m ecstatic to roll out next week’s agenda including making one final announcement involving seven great additions to our conference.

For starters, it is a pleasure to welcome Showtime’s Rachel Nichols to the BSM Summit. I’ve admired her work on television for years, and am thrilled to have her guiding a session which I think many in the room are going to really enjoy.

Rachel’s guest will be former NBA star Baron Davis. Baron runs his own company, Baron Davis Enterprises, and he has been active in investing in media brands, and exploring ways to evolve the industry. Among his areas of passion, athletes taking more control of their brands, and the media industry needing to improve its track record with diversity. I’m sure Baron and Rachel will have all eyes and ears focused on them when they take the stage together next Tuesday at 2:45pm PT.

Also joining the Summit are a few longtime industry friends. For starters, VSiN’s program director Jon Goulet is someone who I’ve known and worked with, and he understands the sports betting audio space extremely well. Jon and BetQL VP of Programming Mitch Rosen will spend time with another industry friend, Bryan Curtis of The Ringer. Collectively they’ll examine the state of sports betting audio on Tuesday March 21st from 3:35p-4:10p, and what they look for when it comes to sports betting talent, and how they determine what is and isn’t success in the sports gambling content world.

With Mitch taking part in the sports betting panel, Jeff Rickard of WFNZ in Charlotte steps into The Programmer’s Panel alongside Jimmy Powers, John Mamola and Raj Sharan. The session is scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd from 9:10a-9:45a PT. Ironically, all four of these programmers work for different companies, so it’ll be interesting to hear how they differ and where they align while navigating through a few sports radio programming topics.

Next, I’m excited to introduce a social media session with Karlo Sy Su of ESPN Los Angeles and Matthew Demeke of AM 570 LA Sports. If you look at the performance of their brands on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook, they’ve each delivered strong audiences and engagement. I’m looking forward to hosting this one and learning about their processes, how they decide which platforms to focus on most, what they consider a social media win when analyzing social statistics, and how they develop their content process. Given our location, we’re calling the session ‘Social Media Goes Hollywood‘. It’s scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd from 3:35-4:10 PT.

I realize you’re not going to remember all of these session speakers and times off the top of your head, so to make it easier, log on to and scroll down past our speakers. That’s where you’ll find our detailed list of sessions/times and activities planned each day. We have eighteen sessions, two awards ceremonies, and two parties. Our kickoff party is presented by the WWE and takes place Monday March 20th from 7p-9p at the 1880 Founders Room. The ESPN Radio After Party takes place Tuesday March 21st from 6p-8p at the Lab Gastropub. Both party locations are in walking distance of the USC Hotel and our conference venue.

As an added bonus, thanks to the generosity of our friends at WWE, we will be giving away a pair of tickets to the first night of WrestleMania, and a WWE title at our kickoff party. WrestleMania takes place this year in Los Angeles at Sofi Stadium on March 25-26. You must be present at the kickoff party to win either prize.

We’ll have more to share next week including providing an ongoing blog with session news and notes for our readers. We’ll also have a ton of content available on our social media channels so if you’re not following @BSMStaff on Twitter, @BarrettSportsMedia on Facebook or @BarrettMedia on LinkedIn, what are you waiting for?

The focus now shifts to finishing our creative for next week’s show, sending information to our speakers for their sessions, and finalizing our attendees list. For those who are attending, we’ll be sending out an email on Friday or Saturday with a complete list of names of who’s coming so you can plan meetings in advance.

If you forgot to buy your ticket after seeing months of promotion about the event and meant to do so, you can still do that, but it costs more. Students on the other hand can take advantage of a low rate established for college kids at

Putting this event together isn’t easy, but I’m extremely pleased with how it’s come together. We have a lot of smart, talented, and accomplished people making time to be part of this, and I appreciate each and every one of them for doing so. Now, it’s all about the execution. Hope to see you next week in LA.

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Sports Broadcasting Icon Al Michaels To Be Honored at the 2023 BSM Summit

“This is a man who has spent more than five decades on your television screen calling the biggest games, and producing some of the most iconic moments sports has to offer.”

Jason Barrett




If you work in the sports media industry you’ve likely heard someone along the way utter the phrase “don’t bury the lead“. I’m usually good about following that advice but I didn’t do that at our 2022 BSM Summit.

We introduced the greatest tandem in sports radio history, Mike Francesa and Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo and it was a special half hour. Mike and the Mad Dog were reunited after seven years apart and every individual at the event knew they were witnessing something magical on stage. I created a Mike and the Mad Dog Award for the event, which went to Felger and Mazz, who were the absolute right choice to win it. Even Chris remarked ‘that’s the right call‘.

But I learned quickly that although the intention was right in honoring the industry’s current top performing show, when you have legends in the room and they’re in their element, the last thing you want to do is overcrowd them. The connection Mike and Chris had on the air became the gold standard by which we measure successful sports talk shows, and they didn’t need an award created to deliver a special moment, just two mics and 20-30 minutes of stage time.

As I began thinking about the 2023 BSM Summit, I knew there was an opportunity to build on what we started last year with Mike and Chris, and after talking to a few people who I trust and respect, the decision of who we would recognize became crystal clear. I believe it’s important to honor the greats in our business because those who leave a permanent mark on our industry deserve it. The man we’ve selected has spent more than five decades on your television screen calling the biggest games, and producing some of the most iconic moments sports has to offer. He’s worked with the best of the best inside the booth, has helped elevate the presentation and execution of in-game content for ABC, NBC and Amazon, and his call of the Miracle on Ice, the US Olympic hockey team’s 1980 gold medal win over Russia remains one of the best calls in the history of sports.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored and privileged to share that Al Michaels will join us on Wednesday March 22nd at the 2023 BSM Summit for our awards presentation, where we will present him with BSM’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michaels is one of America’s most respected sports broadcasting voices, known for his exceptional work on Monday Night Football (1986-2005), Sunday Night Football (2006-2022) and Thursday Night Football (2022-Present). He’s called the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, Hagler-Hearns, the Olympics, the Indy 500, Horse Racing’s Triple Crown races, College Football and Basketball games, Golf, and more. He’s even held roles as the voice of the University of Hawaii, the Cincinnati Reds, and the San Francisco Giants, and was in the booth in 1989 when an earthquake rocked the Bay Area during Game 3 of the A’s-Giants world series.

The Brooklyn native turned Los Angeles resident has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and owns a ton of hardware including five sports Emmy’s, three NSMA Sportscaster of the Year honors, the 2013 Pete Rozelle Radio & Television Award distributed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award given out by the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Though his trophy case may be full, we’re excited to add another to his collection to show our appreciation and respect for the impact he’s made on the sports media business.

A quick reminder, the BSM Summit takes place on Tuesday March 21st and Wednesday March 22nd at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California. Tickets are on-sale at

Be advised, we have started adding sessions and times on the website. As always, the schedule is subject to change. Our final agenda will be posted by the end of next week. In addition, attendees will receive an email by next Friday with details of who will be in attendance. We hope to see you there.

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Rob Parker, Brian Long, Sean Thompson and Matt Fishman Join The BSM Summit Speaker Lineup

“I’m excited to welcome a few folks who have enjoyed success in different parts of the country, and in different areas of the business.”

Jason Barrett




As we gear up for our 5th annual BSM Summit on March 21-22, 2023, I’m starting to get a better feel for how the final puzzle may look. When this process starts I have no idea how it’s going to turn out because so much depends on who says yes and no. Many who’ve attended over the years have complimented our lineups, and I appreciate it because I put a lot of time and effort into featuring a strong mix of professionals from different areas of the industry. Though I’m proud of the work we do and the schedule we deliver, there are so many things pursued leading up to the event that I can’t help but wonder ‘what if this or that had worked out?’

One thing that some folks don’t understand if they haven’t been to the show before is that this is not a talent conference. It’s a sports media business conference. That means we feature radio, TV and digital executives, programmers, researchers, sales professionals, and yes, talent. I believe on-air performers are vital to the industry’s success and I want the best of the best sharing their wisdom with everyone in the room, but we’re also not going to do two full days of on-air conversations. Being successful in sports media requires understanding the on-air side and the business side, and we do our best to offer a blend of both.

For today’s announcement, I’m excited to welcome a few sports media pros who have enjoyed success in different parts of the country, and in different areas of the business.

First, Rob Parker is someone who has made a name for himself as a radio host, writer, TV commentator, and teacher. He’s currently heard weeknights on FOX Sports Radio, teaches students at USC Annenberg, writes for Deadspin, and is helping MLBBro gain awareness and a bigger mainstream media presence covering Major League Baseball. He’s experienced, smart, and never short on opinion. I’m looking forward to having him join Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score/BetQL, and Scott Shapiro of FOX Sports Radio for a session titled “Aircheck On Campus“. They’ll take the stage together on Wednesday March 22nd from 2:10-2:45.

My next three speakers, all come from the sports radio programming department.

Matt Fishman is the Director of Content for ESPN 850 Cleveland. Fishman has been with the brand since January 2020 following stints at SiriusXM, 610 Sports in Kansas City, and 670 The Score in Chicago. He even wrote for BSM for a few years.

Sean Thompson is responsible for programming decisions at Arizona Sports and ESPN 620 AM. He joined the well respected Phoenix brand after more than a decade in Atlanta at 92.9 The Game. Sean has also worked in affiliate relations for Westwood One, and on the air and as a programmer in music radio for Good Karma Brands in Madison, WI.

Brian Long is the program director of both San Diego Sports 760 and KOGO 600 in San Diego. In addition to guiding two of the top talk brands in his market, he has also managed Seattle Sports 710, and served as the Assistant Program Director for ESPN LA 710.

Matt, Sean, and Brian will be part of one of our final sessions on day two of the Summit. The Last Call which yours truly is hosting, will explore unique revenue opportunities created by local brands, and examine a few new ideas and missed opportunities that brands and managers may want to take advantage of in the future.

As of today, the Summit has more than forty accomplished professionals taking the stage at the Founders Club at USC’s Galen Center on March 21-22, 2023. I’ve got a few others still to announce as well, including a few cool giveaways planned for the WWE’s Kickoff party.

If you haven’t bought a ticket and wish to be in the room, visit The last day for ticket sales will be Monday March 13th. I’m hoping to release our final schedule of sessions on Tuesday March 14th. Hopefully I’ll see you in the city of angels.

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