This is the second installment of our three part series highlighting the radio voices of Major League Baseball. 30 media members from across the nation have shared their perspectives on what makes their local announcers great and unique, and I encourage you to do a little bit of reading to become more familiar with radio’s best storytellers and in-game presenters. If you haven’t already read part 1 you can do so by clicking here.
In the sports radio industry many take for granted how important play by play is to a radio station. They also forget just how skilled many of these broadcasters are who capture each game experience and make it a vital part of a listeners life. Selling the game of baseball and all that is associated with it requires a mixture of passion, insight, preparation and focus, and as radio dedicates thousands of hours of air time over the next six months to feature America’s favorite pastime, it felt like the right time to pay tribute to those who help our stations enjoy ratings and revenue success, while enhancing relationships with audiences all across the country.
On that note, let me introduce you to the voices of Major League Baseball.
Houston Astros – Robert Ford and Steve Sparks – as told by Chris Gordy.
At SportsTalk790, we are fortunate to have two of the very best in the business, play-by-play man Robert Ford and color analyst and former knuckleballer Steve Sparks. Baseball is the best of the radio sports, and the reason Robert and Steve are outstanding is because they have an innate ability to paint the picture of what’s happening, while mixing in a great balance of analytical breakdowns and entertainment. Entering their fifth season together, they do an exceptional job of making the audience feel closer to the action.
A decade ago when the Astros last advanced to the World Series, Houston truly was a baseball-dominant town. We think it’s becoming that way again. With a young core of players, and some big off-season additions, the Astros are a team set up for a World Series run. Should that happen, we’ll be in great hands thanks to Robert and Steve’s abilities to bring the sounds of the game to our listeners on SportsTalk790 and the Astros radio network.
Kansas City Royals – Denny Matthews and Ryan Lefebvre – as told by Bob Fescoe.
Denny Matthews has seen every single pitch the Royals have ever thrown. Seriously. Denny was hired when the Royals became a team back in 1969 and has been behind the mic ever since. From the great years to the bad years and now back to the great years, the one constant has been Denny. Summer evenings in Kansas City aren’t complete until you have Denny on the radio. Everyone, no matter the age, identifies with him. His voice screams baseball, it screams Royals, and it screams Kansas City. Denny is an icon, and the true voice of the Royals, and everyone has a favorite Denny call.
Ryan Lefebvre has been behind the mic since 1999, and has quickly become the voice of record for the Royals. During their runs in 2014 and 2015, it seemed like all of the big moments happened during the innings in which Ryan was behind the mic. From the Wild Card win to the last out of the 2015 World Series, there was Ryan with the big call. What makes him special is his brain. There may not be a smarter and funnier broadcaster (in a very dry way) than Ryan. He is as prepared as anyone when it comes to baseball, and is beloved by local baseball fans.
Los Angeles Angels – Terry Smith and Mark Langston – as told by Trent Rush.
Angels baseball on AM830 captures the summertime vibe of Orange County that is cool, relaxed, and fun. Terry Smith gives great validity to our station as a trusted voice. He puts great emphasis on accuracy and rises to the moment for big calls. Terry’s highlight reel is flooded with excitement and poise concurrently.
Former pitcher Mark Langston compliments Terry on the broadcast and is an insightful analyst who weaves his playing experience and relationships with players into a perspective that allows fans to connect. Listeners feel like they know Mark and the team because of him. He understands the game very well and demonstrates knowledge of game situations that are too often forgotten by other analysts. Mark brings extra charm and personality that makes listening to Angels baseball fun.
AM830 is more than focused on Angels baseball. Angels games are our centerpiece and foundation. Terry and Mark wear that responsibility well and create an environment at our station and on our airwaves that makes us proud to work here and have them to look up to, as experienced broadcasters.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Charley Steiner and Rick Monday – as told by Dave Weiss.
On AM 570 LA Sports we’re fortunate to have four time Emmy Award Winner Charley Steiner and Dodger great Rick Monday announcing every play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both veterans had the good fortune of calling games alongside broadcasting legend Vin Scully, and as a pair they provide a unique fan experience and view of the game which blends Steiner’s casual play-by-play style and Monday’s insight into the mechanics of the game and the emotions involved with playing it.
Steiner’s credentials include 30 years of broadcasting and a recent induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame, one of only 17 other sportscaster to ever be honored. His secret to success has been his ability to bring listeners into the game with descriptions that combine stories, stats and references that bring past and current (Dodgers) history together. Charley grew up a Dodger fan, and has been a member of the broadcast team since 2005. Prior to moving to Los Angeles to call games, he spent three seasons working alongside John Sterling on New York Yankees games.
Monday on the other hand is the former Dodger centerfielder who’s most famously known for saving an American flag during a protest in 1976. He’s popular among Dodger fans because of his insight, credibility and unique blend of storytelling. Rick has a knack for bringing listeners into the game with exclusive pre-game interviews with coaches, legends and players, while inviting the audience to learn, understand, and talk about what players go thru, what transpired during the previous game, and what may happen during the next one.
The Dodgers have won four consecutive National League West division titles, making them an important focus of AM 570 LA Sports. With Charley and Rick providing the call, Dodger fans are in very good hands. I invite you to take a listen and hear for yourself what makes them special.
Miami Marlins – Dave Van Horne and Glenn Geffner – as told by Joe Raineri.
The Miami Marlins have gone through some changes over the years in South Florida. They recently had a new state of the art indoor ballpark built in Miami. Multiple managers, coaches and player personnel have come and gone. Even the television broadcast team that covers the Marlins at Fox Sports Florida has seen multiple changes over the years. Last year it was broadcast by committee. We were never really sure who was going to join Rich Waltz, who is in his 12th season calling the play-by-play action for the team, in the booth.
Yet with all of these changes, fans of the Marlins can take comfort in knowing that one thing has remained the same. The voice that comes out of the speakers inside the cars, offices, phones and homes of Marlins fans – Dave Van Horne. The legendary announcer has been the lead play by play voice of the Marlins since 2001. He and Glenn Geffner, a Miami native, are the radio play-by-play team on the Miami Marlins Radio Network. Geffner joined the Marlins in 2008, and together they provide a certain comfort level to the South Florida baseball listener. In a time when almost nothing seems for certain, especially on Radio and TV, having Dave and Glenn for 162 games a year in your ear is about as comforting as it gets being a Marlins fan.
So if you find yourself in South Florida, and want to hear a baseball game called on the medium it was made for, check out 940 WINZ and listen to Dave and Glenn paint a picture so vivid that you’ll almost feel as if you’re up at the plate.
Milwaukee Brewers – Bob Uecker and Jeff Levering – as told by Doug Russell.
Bob Uecker simply defines summers in Wisconsin. When Bob is on the air, everything seems okay. He is more than a baseball announcer, more than a showman; he is in the rarefied air of actually being more than even the game itself throughout the state. And while he has scaled back his workload in the past few years, Bob will be the identity of the Brewers for generations to come. Unlike the Dodgers and the incomparable Vin Scully, the Brewers don’t have the same team history to draw upon. But we have Uke.
Joining Bob for his second season is talented newcomer Jeff Levering. Jeff is simply one of the most talented young play-by-play announcers in the game. Whether it’s been Pat Hughes, Jim Powell, Cory Provus, Joe Block, or now Jeff, the Brewers have a knack for finding that next great straight man to Bob’s shining star.
The Brewers and WTMJ are so intertwined with each other that it’s hard to imagine them playing on another station. Just as WTMJ is the station of record and a public trust, so too are the Brewers to their incredibly loyal fans. Even during challenging seasons, fans flock to Miller Park, and AM 620 at 7:00 most summer nights. It is a relationship that both parties certainly respect and even treasure.
Minnesota Twins – Corey Provus and Dan Gladden – as told by Phil Mackey.
Minnesota tends to be a very provincial territory. It often takes a minute before we fully embrace outsiders with open arms. Couple this with the fact that Cory Provus took over radio play-by-play duties in 2012 for John Gordon, who, along with the legendary Herb Carneal, called the 1987 and 1991 World Series wins, and gained national visibility for his role in Little Big League, and you can see why Provus had big shoes to fill.
Five years into their pairing, here’s why I love Provus and Dan Gladden. The Twins have had a historically bad run lately, which makes for a lot of irrelevant baseball games during the dog days of summer. Provus and Gladden, through humor, honesty, storytelling and intelligent baseball banter, still manage to create compelling audio. It’s a lot easier to offer an interesting broadcast when your team is winning 95 games and going deep into the playoffs. Try captivating an audience though when your team is enduring multiple 90-loss seasons.
Another reason why this pairing works is because Gladden offers an old-school, gritty perspective as a guy who played 10+ years in the league. Provus, on the other hand, has a healthy knowledge and respect for sabermetrics and other newer ways to observe the game, and he translates those things in a way that busy mass audiences can understand.
It’s a great contrast and excellent partnership that helps make Twins baseball on the radio an entertaining listen.
New York Mets – Howie Rose, Josh Lewin and Wayne Randazzo – as told by Wayne Randazzo.
It may seem like it’s coming from a place of bias, but I do believe the Mets radio broadcasts are among the best in baseball. Howie Rose and Josh Lewin call the vast majority of the games together while I fill in for each of them on the roughly 30 games that either may miss. WOR is largely a news and conservative talk station with a mix of local and syndicated shows so I think the Mets broadcasts give the station an enhanced New York flavor during baseball season.
There is a great deal of professionalism brought to the broadcast. It’s easy to not be as informed on the opposing team as you are for the one you cover on a daily basis, but I believe that all 3 of us do extensive research to sound as educated as possible on the opponent.
What makes Howie and Josh great is that they’re both hysterical, and have allowed me to feel at ease bringing humor and light to the broadcast. Regardless of which combination is calling a game, we all have tremendous chemistry with one another. Additionally, Howie is a walking Mets encyclopedia. He’s been a fan or broadcaster of the team during its entire existence. At any moment, a fan of any age can either get a memory fired up or a lesson in Mets history from Howie.
When you listen to baseball on the radio, you want every pitch and storyline of the game presented, and you want to be entertained and hear passion for the game from the announcers. I think listeners would agree that the Mets radio broadcasts pass all 3 of those tests with flying colors. We have fun doing our jobs, and I think that’s noticeable to the audience.
New York Yankees – John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman – as told by Mark Chernoff.
John Sterling has been the “voice of the Yankees” since 1989 and has not missed a single game. Suzyn Waldman, a WFAN original employee in 1987, has partnered with John on the broadcasts since 2005.
What makes John and Suzyn an excellent team is that they each possess encyclopedic minds about the Yankees and baseball. They’ve been around long enough to talk Yankees history but are also able to capture the excitement of today. They’re honest with the audience during both positive and negative situations, and their chemistry is one-of-a-kind. In particular, Suzyn is often able to finish many of John’s thoughts. They’re also
As it relates to John, he’s both informative and entertaining. He has one of the most distinctive voices in radio and to hear him every night makes you feel like the Yankees will be winners. What sets him apart is that he mixes creativity with play-by-play. His home run calls and “nick names” for players such as “it’s an A-bomb from A-Rod” are popular and help show off his style. John also has a flair for the dramatic, and his “The Yankees win…the Yankees WIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNN” has become a trademark of Yankees broadcasts.
As for Suzyn, there isn’t anyone out there who knows more about the Yankees players, coaches and Manager. Her insight into the players is second to none. She has the ability to engage in conversation about stats but also brings an “inside the locker room” update on the team that sets her apart from many analysts.
The Yankees are an iconic product and our broadcast enhances that image. I expect and receive an honest broadcast every night, which is what our listeners also expect and receive when John and Suzyn are on the air.
Oakland Athletics – Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo – as told by Roxy Bernstein.
In my opinion, Ken Korach is among the best play-by-play broadcasters in the game. I’m certainly biased because I consider Ken a mentor, friend and colleague. What stands out is his attention to detail, voice, pacing and description. It’s as good as there is. I’ve been lucky enough to share the radio booth with Ford C. Fricke Award Winners Dave Van Horne and Jon Miller, and Ken is right there alongside them among the elites in broadcasting.
Another important part of Ken’s excellence stems from his connection with the audience. His conversational style combined with his humor and wit keeps everyone entertained, even if the game is not, and that’s a big reason why he is beloved among A’s fans.
Adding to the quality of the broadcast is Ken’s pairing with Vince Cotroneo. Vince possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience which is on display during each broadcast. No duo works harder and provides better information around the game than Ken and Vince which is why they complement each other so well and have a special relationship with Oakland A’s fans.
Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.