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The Voices of Major League Baseball – Part 3

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We’ve reached the final stage of our three part series featuring the men and women who broadcast baseball games on the radio across the nation. If you haven’t read part 1 click here. To read part two go here.

Radio has some amazing storytellers gracing its airwaves and selling the game of baseball and all that is associated with it. During the next six months local audiences will be treated to a heavy dose of our baseball announcers, and with these radio professionals serving in critical roles to help our radio stations enjoy strong ratings and revenue success, it felt like the right time to recognize them for the countless contributions they make to our radio stations.

On that note, let me introduce you to the voices of Major League Baseball. This is the final part of our three part series.

Philadelphia PhilliesScott Franzke and Larry Andersen – as told by Spike Eskin.

Baseball on the radio is an amazing thing. There is something about the space, the pacing, and just the sound itself that people love listening to. Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen have taken that special thing and perfected it on their Phillies broadcasts.

People love Scott and Larry because they’re real, funny, interesting, passionate, and they know what they’re talking about. Like many of the great ones, and a lot like the beloved team of Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn, when you’re listening to Franzke and L.A., you’re not just hearing what’s going on during the Phillies game, but you’re hearing their own little show within the play by play broadcast itself. They’re genuinely entertaining.

Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen, along with Jim Jackson (pregame, postgame, middle three innings), help SportsRadio 94WIP capitalize on the city’s passion for baseball with a truly special broadcast.

Pittsburgh PiratesGreg Brown, Bob Walk, Joe Block, Steve Blass, and John Wehner – as told by Colin Dunlap.

Pittsburgh is the most provincial town that I’ve ever experienced, and I’m from here. Greg Brown, especially, understands as much. Greg went through the 20 years of losing with the fanbase, and now with a resurgence taking place, does a great job of playing up the winning. He is simply a regular man who most Pittsburghers identify with, and behind Andrew McCutchen, is probably the most recognizable figure in the organization.

Block is entering his second season, and his style of blending advanced stats with an old school wit has drawn many in, including myself.

Walk presents himself the same way he did as a pitcher, no-nonsense, to the point, and unafraid of shying away from emotion.

Blass is a folk hero in Pittsburgh, and a link to glory days for the old-timers. He plays it perfectly, knowing the audience is captivated by his stories from yesteryear.

Wehner, in my opinion is very underrated. He has a great ability to boil very technical explanations of a swing, play or other portion of a game down to terms and words that everyone can understand. He also grew up about 4 miles from the stadium and played for Jim Leyland’s Pirates, thus (remember that provincialism?) it makes a Pittsburgh audience really lock into him and take to him.

Collectively, Pirates fans are treated to an excellent radio broadcast thanks to the skills and contributions from a very talented group.

San Diego Padres Ted Leitner, Jesse Agler and Tony Gwynn Jr. – as told by Rich Herrera.

In San Diego, Padres fans are treated to an iconic personality who truly reflects the community. That would be play by play man Ted Leitner. Fans here affectionately refer to him as “Uncle Teddy” and feel a closeness to him due to his having spent 37 years behind the mic calling Padres games. Ted is as unique as the city he calls games for. San Diego loves its baseball and appreciates its players and team, and if you listen to a Padres game you’ll hear him often refer to the team as “My Padres”. In other towns that would be sacrilege, but not San Diego. Because of the laid back attitude here, no one gets too worked up. They meet up at America’s Best Ballpark, enjoy the sunshine while enjoying a cold IPA and wearing their flip flops, and rely on the sound of Uncle Teddy to capture the action. He truly reflects the feel of this community.

Jesse Agler joined the broadcast last season and makes a great partner for Leitner. Chemistry is what everyone strives for in the booth and when these two call a game they bring out the best in each other. Jesse relates to fans and captures the big moment of a game and gives you goosebumps while doing so. He is a great booth mate because he’s able to bring out great stories and the rich history of the Padres from Ted, while also interacting with fans on Twitter and Facebook Live. This helps us bring generations of fans both young and old to the broadcast.

This season, the Padres have added Tony Gwynn Jr. to the radio broadcast, and with his rich family history and connection to San Diego, it will have fans doing a double take at his laugh that sounds just like his hall of fame father.

The Padres are the 12th team to migrate to the FM dial which will expose the team to a wider group of fans, and altogether it adds up to a summer soundtrack in San Diego with Uncle Teddy, Jesse and Tony Gwynn Jr. on a station that sounds crystal clear. You can drive down the highway on your way to the beach with your sunglasses on and the top down as you relish the fact you’re in America’s Finest City. The sum of these parts adds up to a broadcast that sounds like the city it represents, which is why it has a special connection to Padres fans.

San Francisco GiantsJon Miller and Dave Flemming – as told by Larry Krueger.

Most Bay Area baseball fans feel fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to the best collection of broadcasters in the sport on a daily basis. The Giants have two former Giants, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper on the TV side, and Dave Fleming and the Hall of Famer Jon Miller handling the radio duties on KNBR.

Miller, the longtime voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, has a voice that is synonymous with the sport. He has always been an easy, comfortable listen, and he works hard to be great on the air. Jon has seen decades of baseball, and thus is blessed with a wide array of anecdotes and stories. His overall wit and enthusiasm for the game are the strengths of his broadcasts.

Fleming is still a relatively young broadcaster, but he has emerged as one of the country’s best and most versatile play-by-play men. Dave is very bright with deep pipes, and his sound is so smooth. The duo have built an exceptional on air rapport.

Kruk and Kuip, as they’re affectionately known, join Miller and Fleming on the extremely popular KNBR Postgame Wrap, creating must listen conversation after each Giants game.

The main attraction of this group to fans is they are all passionate about the Giants’ winning baseball games, but they balance that passion with perspective, humor, and enthusiasm. They consistently provide Giants fans with intelligent baseball banter, and if you’re driving anywhere west of the Rocky Mountains you’ll be able to hear them on the blowtorch known as Thee Sports Leader, KNBR-680. It won’t take long for you to discover why they’re the best at what they do.

Seattle MarinersRick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith – as told by Jessamyn McIntyre.

Rick Rizzs has become the voice of baseball in Seattle. While we’ll never forget the dulcet tones of Dave Niehaus on a warm summer night, may he rest in peace, Rizzs has remained the mainstay and enters his 32nd season with the team.

Rizzs’ enthusiasm for the game can be heard throughout his entire call, but is exemplified in his homerun calls with his signature, “Goodbye baseball!” He continues to pay tribute to his long-time partner, Niehaus, on grand slam homerun calls using his famous saying, “Get out the rye bread and mustard, Grandma! It’s Grand Salami time!” Rick’s passion for the game is only exceeded by his warmth and gracious nature as a person.

Joining Rick in the booth is Aaron Goldsmith, who is in his fifth season as part of the Mariners broadcast team. Goldsmith is only 33 years old, but don’t let his youth fool you. From the moment he first took to the air, it was apparent he had the chops to hold the mic in the booth. From the ‘golden pipes’ he’s working with to the revved up calls on exciting plays, Aaron brings experience beyond his years to the broadcast on a daily basis.

The institutional mainstay in Rizzs, and youthful energy Goldsmith brings, keep Mariners fans happy and looking forward to listening to games on 710 ESPN Seattle year after year.

St. Louis CardinalsMike Shannon and John Rooney – as told by Tom Ackerman.

The Cardinals and KMOX have a long history, with the station’s powerful signal responsible for helping grow the team’s fanbase when it was the only franchise west of the Mississippi River. Today, the Cardinals Radio Network boasts 155 affiliates covering ten states, making it the largest radio network in Major League Baseball. But just as its 50,000 watts put baseball on the radio for millions of people, names like France Laux, Dizzy Dean, Joe Garagiola, Harry Caray and Jack Buck brought it to life. Most importantly, they’ve educated and entertained generations of listeners.

Today, Mike Shannon carries on that tradition as a link to the Cardinals’ championship past and a storyteller of the present. Shannon is a St. Louis native with a true love for the city and its surrounding areas. Now in his 46th season behind the microphone, you could make the argument no one has sold more tickets, hotel rooms and Budweiser than Shannon, one of the all-time St. Louis ambassadors. And in a true baseball town, no one has a better feel for the game. You’ll always learn something new listening to a Shannon broadcast, with his ability to identify strategy and nuances. He can set up a big moment with the best of them and deliver an exciting play with great enthusiasm. Shannon is the person you want sitting next to you at the ballpark. Luckily for Cardinals fans, they can experience that any time they want just  by turning on the radio.

In addition, his partner John Rooney is one of the finest play-by-play men in the business. Name the sport and he’s probably called it on the national stage. Entering his 12th season as a play-by-play voice of the Cardinals, Rooney has established himself as one of baseball’s best. Always prepared and technically flawless, his smooth delivery is a terrific listen. Rooney has a gift of being able to describe the action in just the right amount of words, painting a beautiful picture each and every inning. He keeps a great pace and comes through with energetic calls of classic Cardinal moments, and like Shannon, is a compelling storyteller with decades of experience.

Rick Horton joins Rooney on road broadcasts, offering the insight Cardinals fans crave from the perspective of a former pitcher. Horton has a charm about him, a friendly, likable personality and true love for the game. Having played for Whitey Herzog, Horton’s expanded knowledge of baseball comes through in his play-by-play and analysis.

Tampa Bay RaysAndy Freed and Dave Wills – as told by John Mamola.

Since 2005, Dave Wills and Andy Freed have called every pitch of Tampa Bays baseball from the depressing 101 loss season to the thrills of the franchise’s lone World Series appearance in the 2008. In a market that historically has struggled with attendance and budding stars of the game finding bigger paychecks once leaving Tampa Bay, Dave and Andy have been the rock of consistency in a community of baseball fans that has seen many changes over many years. The duo enters their 13th season together behind the mics of the Tampa Bay Rays Radio Network, and they’ve never sounded better. A delicate balance of baseball X’s and O’s with some light entertainment, Dave & Andy’s chemistry bleeds through the radio speaker as if two friends from different backgrounds found a way to work together sharing their passion for the game of baseball with the listening audience.

The three words that best describe Dave and Andy are: Engaged (They invite conversation, incorporating social media responses into the broadcast), Jolly (Always in a good mood, positive, energetic, and up for a laugh), and Polished (They work at their craft and search for coaching techniques and new things to try. There is always something different in every game broadcast).

When I talk to WDAE listeners about Dave and Andy, the responses surround certain elements of their on air persona/character. Dave Wills is the guy who likes to talk baseball and share a cold beer with anyone who will listen. A broadcaster who is not afraid to let his feelings be known, and never holds back in how he calls a game. He’s big and bold whether the Rays have smashed a home run or been the recipient of a bad call. Andy Freed is the baseball purist, and a historian of the game literally keeping every scorecard for every game of every season. A family man who always has a story about his twins, and respected by the audience for his depth of knowledge on a minor detail that always seemingly comes up as a major story later in the game.

In a market where the population is more transient than most (if not all) other MLB markets, Dave and Andy have continued to deliver a high quality broadcast for all baseball fans in the Tampa/St. Petersburg market. The “voice” of Rays baseball continues to be a destination for many, and will be for many generations to come.

Texas RangersEric Nadel, Matt Hicks, and Jared Sandler – as told by RJ Choppy.

Eric Nadel. I could end it right there. The dude is an absolute monster in the booth. He’s in Cooperstown for a reason. He’s a storyteller, and his attention to detail right down to the necklace the pitcher is wearing, paints a picture as well as anyone in the game. Baseball, more than any other of the 4 major sports, has the closest connection between Broadcaster and Fan. It should come as no surprise that his homerun calls are repeated by many in the ballpark, “That ball is history!”

What makes the Rangers broadcast unique is the way they incorporate the other 2 members of the crew, Matt Hicks and Jared Sandler. Hicks’ booming voice and smooth delivery has flown side by side Eric for the last few years. They also incorporate the up and coming, 27 year old Sandler, in a way I’ve not seen a radio team, by using a 3rd voice who chimes in with a more analytical perspective, while also serving in a play by play capacity when a day off is needed.

As a radio station, the Rangers have helped 105.3 The Fan immensely. Baseball is a game changer for a radio station, and the daily cume brought our way from back to back playoff runs by the #2 team in town behind the Dallas Cowboys can’t be overlooked. They are a terrific partner, with an exceptional broadcast, and the weekly hits we receive from Manger Jeff Bannister, GM Jon Daniels, and Sandler give the station unmatched coverage of the team.

Toronto Blue JaysJerry Howarth, Joe Siddall and Mike Wilner – as told by Dave Cadeau.

Toronto Blue Jays games are called by a three man booth which includes Jerry Howarth, Joe Siddall and Mike Wilner. We are unique, in that the Blue Jays property is national across Canada, rather than simply local to Toronto.

Jerry Howarth is in his 36th season as the voice of the Blue Jays. Every Blue Jays fan across Canada knows Jerry’s call, and I’m sure they all feel like they know him personally. One of his best traits is that he makes himself incredibly accessible to the audience whenever they ask for his time (which is amazing for someone who in 2017 still does not own a cell phone!).

Joe Siddall played 14 pro seasons as a catcher, including MLB gameplay with the Expos, Marlins and Tigers. He is as friendly, honest and approachable as they come. Joe has a natural ability to engage with the audience and give context to the “why” and the “how” of what is happening in the baseball game.

Mike Wilner has been a presence on the Toronto sports media scene for almost 30 years, with a focus on baseball and the Blue Jays for the last 20. Blue Jays fans have become very familiar with Mike’s deep knowledge and strong opinions as he has taken their calls from across the country on our postgame show called Blue Jays Talk.

For road games, Jerry and Joe work as two-man team, and they present a classic baseball call. Jerry paints a vivid picture of the game with his signature calls to relay the action to our audience. Joe compliments him beautifully with deeper descriptions and explanations as to why something may have happened, or perhaps why it didn’t. They switch roles for 3 innings, and Joe’s growth calling the play has grown by leaps-and-bounds over the last 2 seasons.

When the Blue Jays are at Rogers Centre, Jerry and Joe call 6 innings, while Mike and Joe call the other 3. Mike and Joe create a very different experience for our audience, and frankly I haven’t heard this style anywhere else in the game. I like to think of what they do as a “baseball conversation” that includes play-by-play. As a member of the audience, I feel like I’m sitting there in the booth with Mike and Joe and learning something about the game of baseball, or a situation in the game and I’m able to picture it all unfolding. It’s a different experience, and very entertaining. I love both styles that we present to our audience, and by all accounts, our audience agrees. This allows us to showcase all 3 of our broadcasters, and their different perspectives and personalities by putting them in different seats as the games progress.

The Blue Jays are an important property to Sportsnet 590 The FAN and The Sportsnet Radio Network, and Jerry, Joe and Mike have a significant impact as the team’s radio voices. Our trio includes a mix of different personalities with huge experience, all well-respected in and around the game, and they work together incredibly well, plus they participate regularly on our talk shows and others across North America.

Washington NationalsCharlie Slowes and Dave Jageler – as told by Grant Paulsen.

The pairing of Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler has become appointment listening for baseball fans in DC. Having called games together since 2006, the two have grown synonymous with one-another thanks to their chemistry and longevity in the booth. Two unique voices who compliment each other beautifully, Slowes is a bit more excitable and often comes up with creative catchphrases the fan base latches on to, while Jageler is ultra smooth and has mastered pacing and description.

Their conversational style leads to witty banter and plenty of in-game laughs while rarely taking away from the game. You are never at a loss for what is going on with the action because they weave seamlessly in and out of play-by-play while delivering a scoreboard update or a story from the road. Both could handle a solo game without a problem but each does a nice job when providing color as the second voice during innings when they aren’t on the call.

The quality of the broadcast — from tight production to the audio and music in and out of breaks to the pre and post-game shows — stacks up very well with the elite radio teams around the country and is far superior to the work done in many markets. It’s quite common to see folks at the game wearing headsets, or even to hear that fans have put a radio on at their house to enjoy “Charlie & Dave.” They are smooth, informative, and they let the game breathe, and pro-Nats without coming off as complete homers. They’re an asset to 106.7 The Fan and we’re lucky to have them.

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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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