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A Toast To Thirty Years of Sports Talk Radio

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Thirty years is a long time. During the span of three decades much can change. That’s never been more evident than when we analyze the current state of the sports talk radio format.

But before we peak under the hood of where sports radio has been and is heading, let’s have fun first by turning back the clock to 1987.

If you’re middle aged or a seasoned veteran then you should remember that thirty years ago Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers knocked off Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics to win the NBA title. Gas at that time cost just .96 cents per gallon, the nation’s top film was Dragnet, and the #1 song on the Billboard music charts was Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”.

It was a year when President Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin wall, Vanna White showed us more than just a few vowels in Playboy Magazine, and Eddie Murphy dominated the world of comedy. We played witness to Hulk Hogan slamming Andre The Giant, teenage boys obsessed over knocking out Mike Tyson on Nintendo, the Bangles walked like Egyptians, Gangsta Rap opened our eyes to the harsh realities of life in the inner cities, and wearing denim jackets and acid jeans were universally accepted.

But wait there’s more.

1987 also marked the year that The Simpsons, Married with Children and Full House debuted on television, MTV actually played music, the internet, cell phones and social media didn’t exist, and people relied on newspapers, television and radio for information and opinion.

What a difference three decades makes.

When you think about history, it’s common to place a greater value on what you experienced in your younger years and reject the present. The emotions we feel from our youth remind us of a simpler time, and as we struggle to keep up with the fast paced world we now live and operate in, it can become difficult to survive, let alone thrive.

But as much as things change, there’s one thing which has remained the same – WFAN has been and continues to be the top rated sports radio brand in the nation’s #1 media market, New York City.

It was on Saturday July 1, 1987 that America was introduced to full-time sports talk radio. There had been stations previously that aired programs dedicated to sports, but none that had given a 24/7 commitment to featuring sports talk.

WFAN was the brainchild of Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan. It was his willingness to take a giant risk that enabled the format to become part of our American culture. When WFAN launched on 1050AM in 1987, it didn’t get off to a hot start. In fact, the brand underperformed for quite some time. Ratings were stagnant, revenues were down, and patience was wearing thin.

“It was a huge failure the first year,” former WFAN General Manager Joel Hollander told Grantland in 2012. “Nine months in, everybody was ready to throw in the towel.”

It wasn’t until Emmis purchased a group of stations from NBC in 1988 that things started to change. It began with WFAN being moved to 660AM at 5:30pm on October 9th. The New York Mets were playing a playoff game that night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That forced local fans to switch the dial to hear the game.

The next morning, Don Imus would debut in morning drive on the station. Imus had been hosting mornings on NBC and as a result of the sale, Emmis inherited all of the NBC talent contracts.

That move alone allowed Emmis to add a huge personality to the radio station in a key daypart. Imus brought immediate credibility and familiarity, and gave the brand an entry point for conversations with advertisers and listeners. By solidifying mornings with a big name who had established himself as a top performer in the city, it gave the station an opportunity to focus on solidifying the rest of the lineup and create a powerful brand.

Next came the creation of the most dominant sports talk show in the format’s history, Mike and the Mad Dog.

Pete Franklin was hosting afternoons on WFAN, but a heart attack delayed his start, and his aggressive style and lack of connection to the big apple, made him a tough pill to swallow for local fans. Executives weren’t thrilled with him either. But if a big name like Franklin wasn’t the solution, who was?

Depending on who you ask, many claim to be responsible for two lesser known commodities, Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, being given serious consideration for afternoons. New York Post media critic Phil Mushnick kept their names alive in print, program director Mark Mason raised the possibility behind closed doors, and Imus himself gave a glowing endorsement to Smulyan.

“We liked Mike Francesa, I thought he was great, and I liked Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, I thought he was fabulous,” Imus told Grantland.”

“Imus said, you’ve got to listen to this guy Russo, he sounds like Donald Duck on steroids,” added Smulyan.

Soon thereafter management was ready to shake things up and the wheels were set in motion for Mike and the Mad Dog to take the reigns in afternoon drive.

As excited as many were internally to rid themselves of Franklin and feature two New York voices in afternoons, the friction Francesa and Russo provided off the air was a problem. The two men were very different from one another, and had different visions for their careers. While it made for a great on-air mixture, it also created tension behind the scenes. Trust was lacking, respect wasn’t shared, and an inability to co-exist at times made many wonder if the combination would last.

“It was like being a kid and just knowing that your mom and dad hated each other,” WFAN producer Ed Scozzare told Grantland.

Despite the internal chaos, the duo were onto something special. When the spring ratings came out in 1989, less than a year of being on the air together, Mike and the Mad Dog had soared to #1 with Men 25-54.

For those of us who currently work in sports media or have done so previously or hope to in the future, Mike and Chris’ place in history is well documented. I could go deeper into their story but I’m sure ESPN’s 30 for 30 on July 13th will supply a much deeper look than I can supply in this piece.

However, what I do want to draw attention to is the impact WFAN has had on our entire industry and what it means for the next few decades. One piece I highly recommend reading if you want to know more about the early days of The FAN is the article Grantland produced in 2012. I used a few quotes from it earlier in this column and it’s a very thorough piece which includes feedback from many of the key players who were involved in the early days of the radio station.

Ratings success aside, when you turn on a local CBS sports radio station today it’s common to hear many similarities in the way they operate to how The FAN presents their programming in New York. Whether it’s WIP, WQAM, 92.3 The Fan or Sports Radio 610 or the CBS Sports Radio Network, you’ll find many use jingle packages instead of individually voiced liners over music. Those liners often feature the same powerhouse voice, Paul Turner, and the music which leads shows back into segments often has a rock vibe. Additionally, the stations rely on live or produced liners to promote station games, events and benefits instead of featuring produced :30-:60 promos.

You’ll also discover that most CBS sports stations implement updates from local anchors two to three times per hour. The stations also feature a plethora of play by play partnerships, which has been critical for generating large local cume, ratings and revenue.

Perhaps the biggest similarity though is the heavy influx of callers each station takes in its local market. WFAN was built on giving local fans a voice, and that’s instantly detectable when you hear how frequently CBS radio hosts engage with local listeners. They’re also a lot looser with their content flow than other operators.

When you add up all of those elements, they’re a part of WFAN’s secret sauce. They’ve gone on to shared that successful recipe with many of the company’s brands in various local  markets, and while the formula has certainly produced great results, we’ve also learned over the past three decades that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

It was initially considered sacrilegious to operate a sports radio brand differently. But now many have blazed their own trails. Some brands prefer to steer clear of callers and interact through texts and tweets. Others have either decreased or permanently eliminated sports updates, emphasized stronger production values, and built programs around as many as five on-air personalities.

What I find fascinating is that everything we’ve learned and been introduced to over the past three decades, which has influenced the expansion of the format, isn’t guaranteed to make us successful over the next three decades. We’ve been fortunate to have amazing talent occupy our airwaves and build strong relationships with local audiences and advertisers for lengthy periods of time. However, many of those hall of fame personalities are now riding off into the sunset. That requires a new wave of hosts to emerge and tackle the challenge of sustaining and advancing the sports talk format into the future.

In pro sports, we’ve become accustomed to watching players fulfill a career and then sign off while a new crop of stars comes along to carry on the tradition. But in sports radio, we haven’t had to worry about those situations too often. A large number of successful sports stations have enjoyed the benefit of featuring the same lineup or personalities for the better part of two decades. As those hosts continue to exit, it leaves listeners, advertisers and colleagues wondering if the brand will remain as important and successful in the future.

Fortunately there have been many instances of shows continuing on without missing a beat. Kirk and Callahan in Boston, Bernstein and Goff in Chicago, and Boomer and Carton in New York are a few that immediately come to mind. You can probably add Mike Francesa going solo after Chris Russo and Tom Tolbert continuing on after Ralph “The Razor” Barbieri to that list as well.

But as we sit here celebrating three decades of excellence for WFAN and the rise of the sports talk radio format, we can’t lose sight of the fact that the next thirty years offers no guarantees.

What happens when the people our audiences have become accustomed to hearing aren’t there anymore? Will they accept new voices? Will those voices be given a long enough leash by their companies to enjoy success? Will we still feature 3-4 hour shows or shorter programs aimed at a public which has more options, increased distractions and less availability?

Then there are the connection questions. If people are using the phone less in life to talk to one another, how does that affect the way they interact with our programs? Does social media continue to rise and become the preferred method of communication? Does texting? Or does something else come along that isn’t presently available?

Next we have measurement and business issues to address. Does sports radio continue to tout its success by using its performance under the Men 25-54 umbrella? Or do we modify the format’s demo? Do ratings continue to matter to advertisers or does the existing model get put out to pasture? How do we combat the challenge of shrinking our commercial inventory yet remain profitable? Will the public pay for great content or continue to listen to whatever is free and easy to locate?

I also wonder about the growth of our population, and how that will impact the way we present our lineups. Given the way the world is changing, I think it’s a safer bet that we’ll see more individuals from different races and genders appear on our brands in the future. I also think we’ll see similar progress behind the scenes in station management.

Maybe the biggest question to answer though is how does the inside of a vehicle and the emergence of voice activated and on-demand technology change the way we reach audiences and satisfy advertisers? In years past we competed primarily against local radio stations, but as the dashboard evolves and devices like Alexa, Google Home and Apple Air Play catch on, how will that affect our recall, relevance and ratings? Will podcasting become a platform that generates significant revenue or is it a great benefit for consumers that shrinks the demand for our on-air product?

And that leads me to my final point.

How do those changes register long-term with professional sports teams? Sports radio depends heavily on local play by play for cume, ratings, and advertising solutions. If the dashboard though didn’t feature the AM/FM band and drivers began to install their favorite apps or use voice technology to listen to anything they wanted, couldn’t teams eliminate the middle-man (the radio station) and offer the broadcast themselves?

The downside to that move is that teams would immediately lose substantial rights fees. The other challenge is that radio provides a free broadcast. But, if there was enough of an appetite from the public to purchase a play by play audio package from the team through its app or website, that could change the conversation.

Some of these challenges aren’t on our radar right now, and may never become problems for us to solve over the next thirty years. But I think it’s fair to expect that a few will become a part of our reality. Some maybe even sooner rather than later.

Before we start worrying though and game planning for the next set of difficulties, let’s take a minute to celebrate where we’ve been and appreciate the progress that’s been made.

The sports radio format now features hundreds of stations across the nation, and gives thousands of people an opportunity to make a living doing something they truly love. We owe a debt of gratitude to WFAN, its executives and employees, and every single listener who spent time listening because they helped pave the way and validate the belief that full-time sports talk radio could be successful.

The future will require us to evolve. Some will embrace change, others will reject it and long for the past. But regardless of what transpires, we should all welcome those conversations. If a group of executives in New York didn’t roll the dice and stay the course on an idea that produced no immediate return on investment, we wouldn’t be in a position to face these issues and debate the best path forward for the format. And now that’s something I can raise a glass and drink to.

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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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