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How Not To Land a Job in Sports Radio

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It’s happening right now. In fact, it happens every day. But nobody is there to stop you from hitting the send button before damage is done.

In some US city every day, a radio professional or aspiring broadcaster flocks to the internet searching for their dream job or next career opportunity. They’ll browse listings on Indeed, All Access, BSM or the careers sections on various radio company corporate sites, and once they see something that captures their interest, they begin their pursuit. They’ll spellcheck their resume, look for the contact person involved with the station, if pursuing an on-air role include a sample of their hosting style, and write an introduction note they hope will help them stand out from the rest.

Once they’ve produced their email, double checked it, and attached their materials, they press send. They then anxiously await a response, hoping it will open the door to further conversations about filling the opening. If after a few days an email or phone call hasn’t been received, they might follow up with a second note, or in some cases, even pick up the phone to call. It doesn’t matter if the instructions said not to, the lack of response calls for a new plan of attack because no way is it possible that they didn’t fit what the hiring executive was searching for.

In each situation, the hiring manager has different tastes and rules. Some want an hour worth of unedited material, some want less than 5 minutes. Some will say not to call, others don’t mind if you pick up the phone to initiate a chat. Competition for these openings is intense, and those who possess the skills to fill the position, while clicking best with the hiring manager stand the best chance of getting the call.

What you don’t know entering the process is whether or not you’re going to check the boxes of the hiring manager. You have no idea who else is competing for the opening, and whether the position is a real call for help or a mandatory requirement from HR even though the job has already been promised to an internal candidate. Regardless, it’s important to make a favorable impression because it could lead to a future opportunity either with the station you’ve applied to work at or for someone else in the industry who has a need at a later time.

Speaking for myself, I rarely relied on HR to help fill an opening. I always worked ahead and listened, met, observed, and asked industry folks about certain people who may or may not be worth consideration should I one day have a vacancy. My philosophy was ‘if you want the best talent, you go out and find them, not wait for them to appear in your inbox’.

During my hiring experiences as a programmer, I saw a lot of bad decisions made by job seekers. My awareness for these situations has increased even more during the past three years while running BSM. Sports radio may be a big business but it has a small community feel. If you make a bad impression on one executive, it could affect your standing with others. Stand out in a positive way and you may be recommended to someone else when they have a future need.

I was having a discussion recently with an industry friend about some of the blunders people make when openings come up, and I thought I’d pass along eight examples of bad ideas to help you avoid putting yourself in a situation where you’re frozen out in the future.

  • It’s never a good idea to tell a programmer that they’ll be the dumbest f**k on the planet if they pass over your resume. I don’t care how good you are, most people aren’t going to want to bring someone into their operation who they consider to be a dick before they even have a conversation. You can have an ego, and believe you’re better than anyone else who speaks into a microphone, but if you can’t work with others, it’s going to be hard to convince people to trust you with an important role.
  • Suggesting a programmer ‘can’t live without you’ and should pony up whatever it takes to get you probably won’t help you land the role you desire either. A good programmer wants talented people on their airwaves, and they’ll battle for their people to earn a healthy wage, but they won’t fight for someone who doesn’t respect and value them too. An old quote I used to love sharing was ‘graveyards are full of irreplaceable men.’ Secondly, if you come across the wrong programmer, they’ll take your arrogance as a challenge to prove they can do it without you, and more times than not, they will. As a former host who learned from a poor initial approach once said to me, ‘even Michael Jordan needed Phil Jackson’. If you produce like MJ, Phil will find a way to make sure you get what you need. You’ll also discover you’re better off together than apart.
  • Applying for a job you don’t want just to get yourself in the door doesn’t often end well. If you’re a host with no desire to produce but apply for a producer opening, eventually it’s going to become a problem for the PD and Host you’re working with. That leads to people not being in your corner to push your development. Eventually you’ll exit the station once the issues reach the point of no return. It’s better to be up front about your short-term and long-term goals, and tackle the opportunity in front of you while making it clear you have other things you’d like to accomplish professionally. Most broadcast executives will give you chances to grow if you’re determined and have skill, but they won’t champion your cause if you don’t execute the role you were initially hired to do.
  • Copying a programmer’s CEO, corporate executive, and market manager on the email you sent in expressing interest in an opening creates immediate tension. Would you give 110% support to someone who was forced on you? Do you think a programmer who’s trusted to lead a brand is going to go with the flow and take a deeper liking to you when the perception is you’re trying to override them before even establishing contact? Most corporate people give their PD’s the ability to make hiring decisions in tandem with their market manager. If the room is divided on you, you’re usually going to be voted out.
  • Pretending to know the ins and outs of a company based on media reports is another foolish idea. For example, if you applied to work for a company which just underwent layoffs, it’s not a wise move to say something like ‘I’m glad you survived the cut….your company clearly recognizes talent and made a wise move dumping the others.’ Do you know if the individual you’ve applied with is thrilled to remain on the job? What if their best friend was let go? Better yet, what credibility have you gained with the hiring manager to earn that conversation? Unless you’ve worked there and have firsthand knowledge of the inner workings, and a relationship with the individual you’re communicating with, it’s better to avoid that discussion before sticking your foot in your mouth.
  • Be real, not a phony. For example, if you’re from Texas, and applying for a job in Philadelphia, don’t put in your introductory email how much you love cheese steaks, Rocky Balboa and the Eagles since the days of Reggie White, especially if you’ve never set foot in the city. Nothing is worse than the applicant who pretends to know local landmarks, sports history, and a city’s way of life based on reading Wikipedia and stuff they’ve seen on TV or social media. It’s the same crap when the east coast guy applies for a gig on the west coast or the west coast guy reaches out for the east coast opening claiming they’re in the wrong location and better suited for that particular market’s style. In some cases, candidates have applied to multiple markets, modifying their letters for each city, and PD’s have chatted and discovered it. Guess what that does? It guarantees not landing either opening.
  • Admitting to someone in a cover letter that you were an internal problem for your previous employer or you didn’t work hard at your last job is going to raise an immediate red flag to anyone reading your note. You may think you’re being honest and trying to get out in front of any blemishes on your resume but some stuff is better left to face to face conversation. If you’re putting those type of remarks in an email and the hiring manager is looking at 100 people for one opening, why would they hold on to yours versus the others with less baggage? It’s OK to go thru the interview process and admit you’ve made mistakes and want to learn from them, giving an employer an opportunity to reap the rewards for giving you a chance. But save it for later in the process. Telling someone you don’t know that you gave less than your best or created an issue that resulted in problems inside of an office isn’t likely to earn you a call.
  • Conduct yourself on social media in a way that doesn’t make a hiring manager think twice about hiring you. If you approach the space the way you do the airwaves, you’ll have less to worry about. If though this is where you bombard folks with your political views, instigate fights with trolls, share content that is offensive, and swear like a sailor, it may make someone who’s a fan of your work think twice. They have to consider how your social identity is going to affect listeners, advertisers, and fellow employees. If they feel there are too many risks, they’ll choose a safer path. The other thing I’d recommend not doing, buying followers. If you’re an aspiring host or producer with limited experience carrying 50,000 followers, it doesn’t take much work to scroll thru your posts and see what type of engagement you create. If nobody ever responds, chances are you don’t produce impact, just a false image.
  • BONUS: As a consultant who works with brands and PD’s, it’s smart to introduce yourself, provide audio, share your goals, and develop a relationship. If you only reach out when jobs are listed, it doesn’t keep you top of mind when gigs aren’t publicly displayed. Furthermore, if the only time you initiate contact is when something is posted, that’s a case of asking for a favor, not building a relationship. Why would a consultant do you a favor if they have no history with you?
  • BONUS #2: Its also important to remember, a consultant’s job is to help the station and hiring manager strengthen their department to have the best chance at future success. We direct people to folks who we feel fit what they’ve told us they’re looking for. If you don’t get a gig, it isn’t personal, nor is it because we’re determined to make sure you never work in the industry. On the other hand, blaming the consultant for your inability to find work is a convenient way of ignoring the truth that you may be doing a few things to make yourself unattractive to hiring managers.

If you possess talent, a good work ethic, conduct yourself in a professional manner, have solid industry references, and bring something to the table that’s unique, compelling, and entertaining, chances are you’ll earn a chance to discuss an opportunity. Then it comes down to whether or not you and the hiring manager connect, and if you and the brand mutually benefit one another. It’s easy for broadcasters to get blinded by the opportunity, and look past whether or not a situation is right for them. So much of developing a prosperous career comes down to both sides being fully invested in one another, which is why it’s OK if certain things don’t work out sometimes.

I’m sure if I scoured the nation and asked more folks in programming departments, I’d find plenty of other bad approaches. The goal of this piece though is to arm you with information to avoid making mistakes so you don’t become that example the next program director refers to when explaining how not to pursue a job. Instead, use it to your benefit to make sure you place yourself in a good position to land a great opportunity that helps both you and your next employer.

Good luck!

Barrett Blogs

Black Friday Sale TODAY For 2022 BSM Summit Tickets

“BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets will begin at 12:01am ET on Friday November 26th and expire at 11:59pm later that same night.”

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There are less than 100 days remaining until the 2022 BSM Summit takes place in New York City. We’ve announced 31 participants for the show so far, and have more to reveal in the weeks and months ahead. I think you’re going to like what’s still to come.

Putting this conference together isn’t easy. It requires months of meetings, brainstorming, promotion, selling sponsorships, pursuing speakers, and creating everything that attendees see on stage over a two day period. I’m thankful to have help from some amazing partners, but as I’ve mentioned previously, this isn’t an event that makes us rich or ends with 5-10 new clients signing up to work with BSM. The goal each year is simple, make sure the conference is valuable for those who attend, and don’t run BSM out of business by doing it. As long as those two things remain solid, it’s worth doing.

Some might wonder, why go thru months of headaches if you’re not going to break the bank or immediately add clients. That’s fair to ask. If you look at it from a pure business standpoint, one could easily make a case that pouring this type of energy into something else could be more lucrative. But money was never the motivation for doing this. I felt the sports media industry lacked a signature event where smart, successful media professionals (who don’t often cross paths) could gather at one location to laugh and learn together, and I wanted to change that. If over a two day period attendees could gain insight, information, ideas, and introductions, it’d put everyone in a stronger position to remain successful.

I’ve unapologetically loved the sports media business since I started listening to Mike & the Mad Dog on WFAN and watching SportsCenter on ESPN. I was fortunate to live and work in a number of cities over the past two decades, learning how different companies and people operate, and I remain involved today thru my work with BSM. I mention this because I also know media people. They tend to wait until the last minute to book hotel rooms, airfare, and purchase tickets, even if they can save money by acting sooner. I know, I used to do it too. I can’t control when you book your room or plane ticket, but I do want to give you an added incentive to buy your ticket to this year’s show. Seating is limited, and once the last seat is filled, that’s it. We can’t make extra room.

With that in mind, most of you are either taking today off or working inside a much quieter building. If you’ve thought about coming to the Summit, take 5-10 minutes to log on to BSMSummit.com to take advantage of our special Black Friday sale. We’ve reduced tickets for the day, so whether you’re planning to attend in NYC or watch the conference online, there’s a discount to help you out. Just $199.99 for live tickets, and $124.99 for virtual.

BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets expires at 11:59pm tonight. In the meantime, Hotel Edison in NYC is offering rooms for just $109 + taxes to Summit attendees. Click here to take advantage of the special room rate we’ve secured for this year’s show. Those of you planning to fly to NYC for the show, there have been a ton of great deals offered by American, Southwest, United, JetBlue and Frontier. It might be worth checking into today since Black Friday often has even better sales on travel.

If you’re interested in learning more about the industry, staying a step ahead, forming new relationships, strengthening existing ones, exploring potential business deals, and celebrating the business you’re in, I hope you’ll join us either online or in New York City for the 2022 BSM Summit. I’m making it easier on you, by offering lower ticket prices today. The rest is up to you!

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Barrett Blogs

Craig Carton, Fred Toucher, Mike Felger To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit

“Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.”

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When you talk to industry people about successful brands in sports talk radio, most conversations include WFAN and 98.5 The Sports Hub. The New York and Boston sports radio brands are consistently recognized for their ability to deliver large audiences and revenues.

Helping to create that success is a mixture of strong play by play partnerships, skilled programmers and even more importantly, some of the most dynamic on-air personalities in the format. Fortunately for us, a few of those gamechangers will be present to share their opinions and insights on content matters in New York City at the 2022 BSM Summit.

Starting in New York, it’s an honor to welcome WFAN afternoon drive host Craig Carton to the 2022 BSM Summit. Heard daily on ‘Carton and Roberts‘ alongside Evan Roberts, which is also featured on TV on SNY, Carton has made his presence felt ever since returning to the airwaves in November 2020. Prior to taking on the challenge in afternoons, Craig spent a decade partnering with Boomer Esiason on ‘Boomer and Carton‘, forming one of the most successful sports radio morning shows in the country. In addition to enjoying success in New York, Craig has also experienced the ups and downs that come with performing in different markets. His radio travels have taken him to Philadelphia, Denver, Buffalo and Trenton, NJ. The Syracuse graduate and outspoken host is expected to join BSM President Jason Barrett for a one on one conversation at this year’s Summit.

Shipping up to Boston, it’s a pleasure to welcome two of the format’s highest rated performers to New York City. They’re heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub in morning and afternoon drive, and at the Summit, they’ll interact together during an in-depth content conversation with BSM President Jason Barrett.

Fred Toucher is one half of the Sports Hub’s popular morning show ‘Toucher & Rich‘, which recently added syndication. The Detroit native started his career in Georgia before moving to Boston in 2005. Toucher & Rich, which includes Rich Shertenlieb, officially moved into the sports talk format in 2009. Since making the format switch, the duo have consistently produced some of the best ratings in the entire format in mornings during the past fifteen years. Toucher & Rich have also been recognized by industry executives as one of the top two morning shows in the format each of the past three years in the BSM Top 20, including taking top honors in 2018.

Mike Felger on the other hand is heard on the ride home alongside Tony Massarotti on The Sports Hub. The Marconi Award-winning afternoon radio show has been a fixture in Boston since the station’s inception in 2009. During the past twelve years, Felger & Mazz have been a steady force atop the Men 25-54 ratings including recently delivering an impressive 18.9 share in the summer book to finish 1st. The Milwaukee native also hosts a show for NBC Boston, and has previously served as a columnist for the Boston Globe. Similar to Toucher & Rich, Felger & Mazz have earned high praise from format execs in the BSM Top 20. They’ve been voted one of the top 2 afternoon shows each of the past 2 years including grabbing the top spot in 2019.

We’re excited to add all three of these men to the lineup for the 2022 BSM Summit. As vital as it may be to spend time on business issues in order to stay ahead of a rapidly changing media climate, without great talent and content, the rest is irrelevant. Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.

To reserve your hotel room, purchase tickets or learn more about the speakers we’ve lined up for the 2022 show, visit BSMSummit.com. We hope to see you online or in New York City this March.

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Barrett Blogs

BSM Summit Adds Borrell, Crain, Cutler, Goldstein, Scott, Shapiro & Thomas

“The Summit is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited.”

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The 2022 BSM Summit continues to add firepower to the sports media industry’s premier conference. After previously announcing the first twenty one participants to take part in March’s event in New York City, another seven talented media professionals have been added to the speaker schedule.

Making his BSM Summit debut in 2022 will be the media industry’s leading business analyst Gordon Borrell. The well respected and accomplished CEO of Borrell Associates is featured frequently in the trades and mainstream publications for his insights on advertising trends and forecasts in local media. Borrell will join Amplifi Media CEO Steven Goldstein on stage at the Summit for an in-depth discussion on the advertising climate in 2022. The two men will offer insights and opinions on what advertisers value most, where they’re expected to invest future dollars, which categories will continue to rise and decline, and what brands can do to position themselves better to increase revenue. Additionally, Borrell will be hosting his local advertising conference in Miami a few days after the Summit. Those interested in heading to South Beach and learning more about the marketing world can learn more by clicking here.

Switching to the content end, the Summit is thrilled to welcome The Volume’s Jake Crain to New York City. The host of The JBoy Show will also be making his debut at the conference. Crain will be part of a talent panel along with John Jastremski and Kazeem Famuyide.

Also making his debut at the Summit will be Carl Scott. Meadowlark Media’s Executive Director of Audio will join our podcasting panel featuring Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones and The Volume’s Head of Content Logan Swaim. Hubbard Radio’s Digital Content Director Phil Mackey will guide the conversation.

Not everyone participating at the Summit will be new to the audience though. Returning to the stage as part of our GM’s discussion will be newly appointed Audacy Boston Market Manager Mike Thomas. Thomas recently led ESPN 1000 in Chicago as the station’s GM after working with Mark Hannon to turn 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston into one of sports radio’s top performing stations. It should be noted that each time Thomas appears at the Summit it follows a recent promotion. We figure by 2023 or 2024 he’ll be running the entire industry.

A Summit isn’t complete without attention given to programming matters. To help us address some of those key issues, we’re excited to welcome back the Vice President of FOX Sports Radio & Podcasts Scott Shapiro. The passionate network executive who oversees many of the nation’s top national programs is always a great listen for folks interested in learning how programmer’s view and tackle the industry’s most important affairs.

Last but certainly not least, voice talent extraordinaire Jim Cutler will return to the stage to lead a session on storytelling. One of the industry’s prominent station voices and creative minds has a penchant for putting on entertaining and informative sessions. If you’ve attended the conference before, you’re already aware. To those planning to catch this one, you’re in for a treat.

Keep an eye out over the next two weeks. We’ll be making additional announcements involving a few high profile talents we’ve lined up for the 2022 BSM Summit. A reminder, the event is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited. I realize some folks may prefer to wait until the last minute to make sure the world is safe. If you’re not comfortable flying to NY for the show, we do have an option in place to enjoy the conference virtually thanks to NuVoodoo Media. For more information on tickets, click here.

That said, the in-person environment is excellent. If you haven’t attended the Summit before I think you’ll find the two days in New York City to be time well spent. This conference is not open to the general public. You must either presently work in an area of the media industry or be pursuing a degree in the broadcasting field.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we still have some sponsorship opportunities available for the show. We’re thrilled to have the support of great partners, ESPN Radio, Premiere Networks, FOX Sports Radio, Stone Voiceovers, Compass Media Networks, Point to Point Marketing, and Core Image Studio. If you’d like to be part of the event too, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com for additional details.

One final note, airfare is low right now. There are roundtrip flights to and from New York from many major cities for less than $200.00. We’ve also secured a low hotel rate of $109.00 per night at Hotel Edison in NYC to help companies and individuals keep costs down. The sports media industry has endured two years of difficulty due to the pandemic, preventing many from networking, learning, celebrating, and growing. The two days we spend together in the big apple won’t solve every issue facing our business, but I promise you’ll leave the show more informed, more connected, and better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Hope to see you in New York on March 2nd and 3rd.

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