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How Much Does Being Right Matter?

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Sports is a subjective business. On the field or court, players are paid a lot of money to perform and make sound decisions. We determine their success or failure based on batting averages, shooting percentages, yards gained, touchdowns, home runs and of course, wins, losses and championships. It matters less to fans if a player is a good locker room leader or valuable to the organization in other ways. If it can’t be measured in a positive way statistically, we deem them ineffective and replaceable.

But in the sports media business, we’re not paid to play. We’re paid to talk. And as groundbreaking as this news might be, it doesn’t take much to deliver a passionate opinion and generate a response. You simply read or watch a story, form a thought in your mind about how it makes you feel, articulate it to the audience in a passionate manner and support it with a few facts you uncovered while researching the subject.

But not every individual has the ability to provide thought provoking opinions in a unique, colorful and memorable way. It’s what separates a good host from a great host. Colin Cowherd has often said the sports media business is less about about being right and more about being interesting, and in the climate that we operate in where attention spans are shrinking by the second, it’s hard to disagree with him.

Whether you like it or not, sports audio and video is all about entertainment. There are no passing grades handed out for accuracy. And it’s always been that way. This is not a new trend.

When an audience consumes sports content they’re often looking for a mental escape, a breather from life’s challenges. They’re not interested in the additional responsibility of tracking a host’s win-loss record when offering predictions and opinions. They simply tune in and expect to hear an interesting conversation, learn a few things relevant to the story being discussed, and then take that information with them to use with their friends or family members in their daily conversations. If the host turns out to be right, great. If not, life goes on.

https://youtu.be/nzeuk52sd40

But if you survey the media landscape today, there’s a growing belief that we should expect more from public figures who are paid to offer sports opinions. If an individual is given a platform to speak to an audience and inform them on what’s taking place in the world of sports, there’s a contingent of folks who feel it should be expected that the hosts are not only accurate with their facts and information, but also more successful with their opinions.

A big factor in the changing perception among fans is social media. The rising influence of Twitter and Facebook has given people an ability to permanently store, dissect, and use a personality’s commentary against them. That’s certainly different from TV or radio where a listener or viewer’s ability to recall specific points, opinions, and predictions vanishes quickly.

The positive side of this development is that it puts added pressure on personalities to be more thorough and accurate with their opinions and predictions. The negative is that it feeds this growing trend of judging people on fifteen seconds of commentary, while disregarding the countless hours of additional accuracy and entertainment they may have provided.

Maybe in the past it was worse than I’m giving it credit for, but it certainly seems like we’ve seen a lot more misses from talk show hosts over the past few years. That perception has been shaped by the increased visibility on social media. Years ago when Mike and the Mad Dog were the dominant duo in sports radio, they were praised for how much they knew about sports and how often they were right. Today, you’d swear neither knows much if you didn’t listen to their show and relied solely on social media to form your opinion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5atUH2VTJc

One Twitter account which does a fantastic job of keeping personalities in check and showcasing their missed predictions is Fred Segal’s Freezing Cold Takes. It may ruffle the feathers of some personalities who reject the idea of being called out for being inaccurate, but it’s become a badge of honor for others to have their misfires recognized by the account. And it’s clearly attractive to listeners and viewers, because over seventy two thousand are following the account on Twitter.

As much as the audience, media critics and an occasional colleague or two may take exception with a host’s ability to be accurate with their predictions and positions, we’ve also got to remember that opinions are personal beliefs. Many factors can influence how a situation turns out, and each person reserves the right to change their mind.

For instance, you may pick the Golden State Warriors to sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Finals before the upcoming season begins. However, if Kevin Durant and Steph Curry went down with season ending injuries in November, that’d certainly change the likelihood of your prediction being accurate. That doesn’t mean though that you didn’t provide an informed and rational prediction when initially making it.

If there’s an area that frustrates many critics, fans, and listeners, it’s when a host is unwilling to adjust their stance and own a blemish on their record after misfiring on an opinion or prediction. A personality only helps themselves by doing so. It’s fine if you take your sports seriously and strive to be accurate when delivering opinions, but it’s also OK to be wrong.

I’m a firm believer that one of the best traits a host can possess is self-deprecation. If you can own a mistake, laugh at yourself, and show the audience you’re a human being who’s as flawed as they are, it shows you’re relatable. People tune into a show because they want to laugh and learn. If they like you, that’s even better. When you’re accountable and able to acknowledge your personal blunders, it increases your approval rating. If you’re arrogant and unwilling to fall on the sword when you screw up, it’ll cost you fans.

https://youtu.be/JgEchVFi2sc?list=PLJTqmdE_6UmmzA3Og07oEU9pTGZT6CG1q

The idea of being more accountable and accurate is welcomed by most people in the sports media business. It’s also beneficial to every on-air talent to be challenged to do their homework and find unique angles to deliver to the audience. But while those areas can certainly be examined and improved, it’s important to remember and never forget that being right matters far less than being entertaining.

As consumers we sometimes scrutinize every detail of a show and every character trait of a host that we become incapable of allowing ourselves to be entertained. We forget that the biggest reason we watch or listen to a show about sports is because it’s fun. It brings people from different backgrounds and communities together to debate, discuss, and publicly express love and support for a common cause and in doing so, the presentation entertains us.

That connection is what makes a program necessary. It’s far greater in value than any host’s ability to provide a stronger winning percentage when spitting out sports opinions and predictions.

This isn’t to suggest that there aren’t some holes that need patching. For one, I’d like to see hosts and networks spend less time rushing to judgment and invest more time putting things into proper context. That happens a lot, especially after a big sporting event when shows/hosts immediately declare a team, player or play as the best of all-time. They disregard the past and live in the moment because it’s easier to ride an emotional high instead of pushing the pause button to process what’s transpired, research and analyze it, and come to a conclusion about where it belongs in a historical sense.

I was curious how programmers and personalities felt about this topic given that it has a direct result on everything they do on a daily basis. Here’s what I uncovered from talking to a number of industry professionals.

  • Joe Zarbano – Program Director, WEEI
  • Ryan Maguire – Program Director, WQAM
  • Don Kollins – Program Director, 95.7 The Game
  • Isaac Ropp – Host of Isaac and Suke, 1080 The Fan
  • Randy Karraker – Host of The Fast Lane, 101 ESPN
  • Scott Shapiro – VP of Sports Programming, FOX Sports Radio
  • Evan Cohen – Host of the Morning Men, SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio & Director of Content, Good Karma Brands

Why Is It More Important For a Host To Be Interesting Instead of Right?

Shapiro: It is a human impossibility for any host to be right 100% of the time. Wouldn’t that be nice though? Because it’s a stone-cold lock that our hosts will be incorrect frequently, there’s nothing more important in this business than them being interesting. It’s why Colin Cowherd always refers to the radio industry as the “interesting business,” not the “get it right every time business.”

Cohen: Our job as a host is to properly serve fans, teammates and advertising partners. Nowhere in the job description does it say anything about our opinions needing to be right. It is most important to consistently engage our fans, teammates and advertising partners in relatable conversation.

Zarbano: It’s much harder to be interesting than right. How many times have we heard someone say “I predicted that” or “I knew that was going to happen”? I don’t care. Anyone can get lucky and pick the correct result. Can you consistently tell me something interesting and say something compelling enough that I’m engaged and reacting to what you’re saying? That’s the true indicator of radio talent.

Karraker: To draw a listener in, he or she needs to hear an opinion or a side of a story that they hadn’t thought of and/or don’t necessarily agree with. A good communicator can come up with a strong foundation for their opinion, and that’s what I try to do. I know the background of what I’m talking about, and I’m able to form a reasonable opinion based on a foundation of facts. At the end of the day, we are offering opinions, and there’s no such thing as a wrong opinion. You can take the side you truly believe in, whether it’s popular or not, and be interesting. That said, a talk show host should never present incorrect facts. It’s our responsibility to educate the listener and use our place as “fans with access” to present our opinions based on correct facts, and be interesting with them.

Ropp: Being interesting translates more. As long as your content is interesting you can keep ears on your show. Most reasonable people know a host will be right some but also wrong some. Most are NOT keeping score. And to be honest, the idea of needing to be right is merely an ego thing for the host. The listener’s perspective isn’t coming from that place. They just want something to chew on for the 10-30 minutes they’re tuning in. Hosts fret FAR more about what they say than the listener does.

Maguire: A host needs to be accurate in terms of getting their facts right, but people spend time with the host/show that is the most compelling to listen to. The landscape is flooded with radio shows, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, snaps and tweets of people giving opinions and making predictions. There are so few though that can do so in a way that will make listeners want to invest their precious time with them.

How Concerned Are You of Losing Credibility With The Audience If Your On-Air Opinions and Predictions Turn Out To Be Wrong?

Kollins: The best host(s) can admit they were wrong to their audience. That’s absolutely the most powerful tool in the radio host handbook. It seems there are many hosts that get on their soapbox, spew their opinions, then move on to spew more on the next topic without much back and forth. If a host is willing to listen, ask questions, engage with listeners, and acknowledge when they’re wrong, that’s very valuable and powerful.

Maguire: If a host is compelling enough to listen to, then who the hell cares if they went 0-12 vs. picks against the spread? Stephen A Smith picked seven consecutive NBA finals wrong and is still pulling down an impressive paycheck. Why? Because he knows how to get people talking and keep them watching. The only kind of opinions/predictions that concern me are uninformed ones. A host has to do their homework before opening their mouth and putting themselves out there. Listeners will tune out a host who bloviates for hours with little or no substance behind it.

Cohen: When did I have credibility in order to lose it? I’m being serious. I have no interest in whatever credibility means. Relatability and sellability, those are the abilities I want.

Zarbano: I’m not concerned at all. Predictions aren’t always going to be correct. We constantly see the “experts” getting their predictions wrong whether it’s a game, the NFL Draft, March Madness, season predictions, etc. How many times have Mel Kiper and Jay Bilas been wrong? Tony Dungy is wrong quite often with his game predictions. Media personalities are not going to be right every time and the audience understands that.

Shapiro: What I look for in an opinion on the air is a well-thought out, well-researched opinion. Would I prefer that it ends up being the “correct opinion?” Sure. Who wouldn’t. But with thirty-plus hosts on a 24/7 national network, there will always be times when hosts are right and wrong. What I want is authenticity. I never want someone on the air to take the other side just because. Our audience is smarter than that and can see through the B.S. If the audience are treated like adults, and a strong stance is nuanced via research, context, and storytelling, then I care far less what the outcome of that opinion is. If it’s genuine and sincere, and you can make someone stop, listen, and think, then that’s what good radio is all about.

Ropp: I believe the best approach is to be known for holding a good discussion. If the host(s) present material with good points on both sides of an issue, each listener will identify with the one that matches their sensibilities. It becomes less about right/wrong and more about wanting to listen to a good discussion on the hot button issues of that day.

How Should Talent Be Held Accountable For Providing Accurate and Informed Sports Opinions and Predictions?

Karraker: I try to be as accessible to my listeners as possible. They can reach me on Twitter, Facebook, and via e-mail, and they can call my office phone. If there’s something a listener vehemently disagrees with, I’ll engage them and explain my thoughts more clearly. I want my consumers to hold me accountable for the product I’m turning out. Program Directors should have a playbook for how their hosts present opinions and predictions, and if the talent adheres to the playbook and there isn’t anything to account for, ultimately the listener will make the decision as to whether they like what’s being delivered. That’s the ultimate accountability.

Maguire: A programmer should talk to their hosts and producers and make sure they’re in the loop on what’s important. Usually it’s as easy as “did you see this?” Show prep is like staying shape, you don’t want to let your team skip too many days at the gym. If a host gets something wrong, own it. Some of the best hosts I’ve worked with make fun of their incorrect predictions in a humorous way. Being wrong isn’t a sin. It shows you’re human.

Ropp: This polices itself. Your reputation precedes you. People will figure out if you are a fraud or uninformed, etc. It’s very hard to fake it in radio. The host doesn’t have to be the expert on all things either. He or she can be a person that is thinking the same things about a game or topic that many of the listeners are. It’s OK to tell the audience you don’t have an opinion on something or don’t know enough about a topic to give an informed opinion. It enhances credibility because people know you aren’t going to BS them. It also makes the times when you are very passionate and informed about a subject that much more real and meaningful.

Zarbano: It’s the host’s job to be prepared and put in the proper effort to be the most informed, opinionated, and entertaining they can beIf that’s not happening then that person isn’t doing their job. It should be explained to them what the expectations are and if the prep work and effort still aren’t satisfactory then it might be time to find someone else.

Cohen: Hosts should be accountable for serving fans, teammates and partners. If the #1 thing that all three of those groups care most about are accurate opinions and predictions, then a host should be held accountable for them.

How Do You Feel Social Media Has Changed The Game When It Comes To Recalling Positions and Predictions From Talent on Various Sports Subjects?

Ropp: Predictions or commentary on social media sits on the internet for everyone to refer back to. What is said on the radio vanishes off into the cosmos and most people don’t remember what was said. For this reason, social media has created a currency. It can help some hosts and hurt others. That all depends on the hosts approach on these various platforms.

Kollins: I consider social media the new studio phone. It’s a great way for hosts to get a sample of “how hot” a topic or opinion is. In addition to the phones, it’s absolutely essential to incorporate social media into all opinion based segments.

Karraker: The audience is smart and likes to use social media to remind hosts of things they’ve said. I give opinions for twenty hours a week, and don’t necessarily remember every point, opinion or prediction I make on the air. If a listener hears me say something that they disagree with, especially if it’s one that’s gone awry, then I’m going to hear about it. And I should. That’s what makes the show work. Social media helps increase the engagement.

Maguire: Once you say or post something in a public forum it’s chiseled into the internet for eternity. Don’t try to back track it or split hairs over something you got wrong. You’ll only sound like the kind of person nobody wants to be around.

Cohen: It makes it more fun because we can all be more interactive and trackable in a relatable way.

Zarbano: I believe it has helped. It gives the audience a better opportunity to react to a host’s prediction, whether right or wrong. It also gives the listener a chance to engage in the show and with a personality outside of the normal show hours which helps strengthen relationships.

Why Should a Listener Invest Time In a Host or Radio Station If The On-Air Talent Is Consistently Wrong With Their Opinions?

Maguire: If a host is unique, compelling and entertaining, listeners will return no matter how often they make an inaccurate prediction.

Karraker: As a consumer, I have trouble giving time to someone that hasn’t earned credibility. If they’re consistently wrong, they don’t deserve the listener’s attention. There are hosts that never make it to a game, don’t talk to people to try to find out WHY something happened, and will spout off about things and be completely wrong. If someone is only correct once in a blue moon, I can’t listen to them. There are different kinds of listeners, and I’m glad there are alternatives for those consumers. But, I think people in our business that don’t do their homework and don’t build their opinion on a foundation of facts are being incredibly irresponsible and are doing a disservice to their listeners.  We’ve heard the term “fake news” a lot over  the last few months, and I don’t think there’s a place for opinions based on fake news in sports talk radio. It’s lazy and unnecessary, and I’d hope listeners would see past investing their time in stations and host that produce it.

Shapiro: A host who can admit he/she is wrong and provide additional perspective, has great potential to gain credibility points with people, even if they were wrong initially. If we can poke fun at ourselves and admit that we aren’t perfect with our opinions/predictions, listeners won’t have an issue investing their time with us.

Cohen: If a fan of a host knows that the host is always wrong, then that host has done a great job of getting the fan/listener engaged enough to track his or her opinions.

Kollins: Sports is opinion and every sports fan and host have an opinion on every topic. IF the topic is well-researched, well-executed and the host has an open mind for discussion on all platforms, it’s worth discussing in the pre-show meeting.

Ropp: If a host is consistently wrong, they should stop trying to be right. If they don’t change up their approach, I’m not sure why a listener would continue to invest their time.

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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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