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2019 BSM Summit – Day 2

Jason Barrett




We’re live from Los Angeles for the second and final day of the 2019 BSM Summit. 37 speakers graced the Grammy Museum stage on Day 1, and another 25 are scheduled to do so on Day 2.

Among the high profile names scheduled to appear today include longtime wrestling executive turned podcaster Eric Bischoff, Jason Whitlock and Marcellus Wiley of FOX Sports 1’s ‘Speak For Yourself’, and an all-star reporting panel featuring Steve Wyche of the NFL Network, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, and Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports and The Athletic. 710 ESPN Seattle PD and Host Mike Salk will moderate that discussion.

BSM would once again like to extend our appreciation to our corporate partners for the 2019 BSM Summit: Premiere Radio Networks, ESPN, Hubbard Radio, PodcastOne, Harker Research, Compass Media Networks, and Benztown Branding.

As we did during the first day of events, we will update this blog throughout the second day of the conference. You’ll find the full schedule of today’s sessions laid out below. As each session wraps up we will pass along the key notes and quotes that are most valuable to industry members.

9:00AM-9:10AM – Opening Remarks

  • Jason Barrett – President, Barrett Sports Media
    Jason started off Day 2 by showing Nielsen data about sports radio ratings. Barrett then welcomed Bruce Gilbert and Mike Thomas to the stage to begin a fast-paced session covering 10 different topics.

9:10AM-9:45AM – Pardon The Brothers Interruption

Presented By:


Bruce Gilbert – SVP, Westwood One/Cumulus Media
Bruce isn’t a fan of the traditional sports update. A host should be able to provide them. The traditional sports update should go the way of the stagecoach.

If you still have a budget for sports anchors you should be using it towards expanding your digital team. If sales have an issue with not being able to connect clients to updates it’s your job to remind them of everything else available on the station to sponsor. There are plenty of things available to replace updates.

Regarding TV simulcasts, if you’re producing good content, you should get it on as many platforms as you can.

Play-by-play still has great value. The Cowboys playoff games did a 23 and 24 share in Dallas this year. Even if a local station is losing money from a play-by-play deal, saying you’re the home of the New England Patriots matters.

Anytime a controversy comes up, before you say or do anything in response, make sure you listen to the audio first. Too many react without being fully informed.

A younger demo makes sense for a large FM station. Smaller AM station’s aren’t going to garner a younger demo. The industry should do a better job of getting the 35-64 demo acknowledged.

eSports is a very video-centric activity, translating that to radio is difficult.  When sports radio started, people asked ‘what the hell are they going to talk about all day, people watch the games at night.’ As people grow up with eSports, they’re going to eventually want to talk about it so there can be a future for it on sports radio.

Bruce pointed out that stations pay talent to deliver compelling, interesting engaging shows, so he’s against updates, traffic, weather, and any unnecessary elements that get in the way. If a commercial isn’t playing, he wants to hear the talent. Stations also need to be more strategic in where commercials are placed. 

People will find good audio where ever it is. If it’s podcasts or on an app, people will find it. Everyone has a podcast, and at some point the field has to get weeded out a bit.

The one thing every PD should do for their talent is LISTEN. There are many responsibilities of a PD, but talent wants to know what’s expected of them and how they’re doing. The talent needs to know you’re listening and that you have their back.

Mike Thomas – PD, 98.5 The Sports Hub, National Brand Manager of Spoken Word Programming, Beasley Media
Traditional sports updates are good for the sales department because they appeal to sponsors, but the information has already been received by the listener on their phone. Long-term sports updates aren’t going to last.

Toucher and Rich is simulcasted on Twitch because its encoded, and doesn’t take away from radio ratings the way a traditional TV simulcast can.

The 18-49 demo is so important to sports radio. Between esports and podcasting, we need to target younger demos. We’re not going to spend a lot of time talking eSports right now on the Sports Hub, but we do run a syndicated eSports show at 11pm on Sunday night.

There are plenty of things for sales to sponsor which should allow a brand to reduce commercials. The Hub runs 13.5 minutes of commercials per hour which is low for the format.

It will always be important to have a play-by-play team with personality that can be entertaining beyond calling the game.  

One thing PD’s should do for their talent is listen, and give them autonomy. You hired them for a reason, so get out of their way and let them do their job. 

9:45AM-10:15AMImaging For PD’s & GM’s

Presented By:blank


Jim Cutler
A restaurant with a line out the door draws interest. Sports radio stations need to follow that formula. Your brand needs to make sure the audience knows they’re well liked. You do that by adding their voices into your imaging.  It’s not enough to have a great radio station, you need to show the audience they’re loved.

Cutler then played audio of station imaging that is too long, losing the attention span of the audience. He also played an example of a show  monologue that spent minutes talking about nothing. People don’t have time to listen to anything other than content, so eliminate the fluff and get right to content or they’ll find other options. 

Jim then provided a few examples of empty filler and too many tags in imaging. “Now you can find us on Facebook, call us old-fashioned, but now we’re on Twitter.” Replace empty content with topicality.

“Midday mayhem” – empty content.

“You’ll never know what you’ll find on the … show” – empty content

Imaging and promotions must offer topical content that follows the most important story at the time. Tell listeners what happened in the last hour and now, not what happened yesterday. Incorporating sound bites into your imaging is incredibly important. You can also find great audio of sports fans on YouTube and implement it into your liners and promos to capture how people are feeling about local topical news.

Women are now at every sporting event. It’s 50% in baseball and football. If you don’t understand that then you’re watching too many commercials. We need to change the thinking of the 1995 sports radio format where it was just men listening. Reaching women is a big part of future growth.

10:15AM-10:45AMUnder The Radar

Jason Barrett – President, Barrett Sports Media
Regardless of your station’s ratings, radio listening as a whole has slipped and the trend is expected to continue. Money in the industry is on the decline and stations need to find new revenue streams.

Merchandising is a missed opportunity for radio stations. The Ringer has a store, Barstool has a store, radio talent sell merchandise such as Matt Jones and Clay Travis, but the radio stations themselves aren’t selling merchandise. If your product is good enough for advertisers to use to move their products then why isn’t it strong enough to help you move your own?

Case in point, Barstool sells Mike Francesa shirts, and WFAN has a store in JFK airport selling New York sports merchandise, yet you can’t purchase merchandise on their website. Why not?

KFAN has done a better job improving their website to offer custom shirts on their website. These items were a hot ticket at the Minneapolis State Fair.

The Zone in Nashville called upon their audience to design a shirt, and are now selling that design on their site.

However, brands need to be much more creative than just putting the station logo on a shirt. That won’t do much for your revenue stream. You’ve got to think like a marketer and seize the moment when situations arise.

For example, when Titus O’Neill of the WWE tripped and fell under the ring, the company had a custom shirt created and available on their website the next morning. 

When Tom Brady reportedly said “I’m the baddest mother****er on the planet,” Barstool highlighted the remark via social media, and had a t-shirt on sale later that night.

Education is another area where sports radio is missing the boat. Kids are paying 50K per year to go to college with the goal of landing a degree to one day get inside your building. Others go to trade schools, spending 10-15K per year for the same reason. But who says radio stations themselves couldn’t provide the curriculum, training, and introduction to the business?

NASCAR, NBA, MLB, they all have minor league systems. Radio stations are filled with experienced talent in multiple areas, and kids would gladly pay 10-15K to learn from your people, and develop a relationship, which is something they’re not guaranteed of when they go to college or a trade school. 

Imagine if your brand utilized its space (some buildings now have amazing performance stage rooms which could easily house 50-100 people) and its staff to charge 10K for a 10-20 week course. If you had two courses per year that’d be an additional 500K in revenue. Even if you subtracted costs for talent, and printed materials, you’d add a lot of income to your bottom line. Trade schools and Universities are using your airwaves to reach your audience and sell them on going there, why not help yourself while also increasing relationships which may ultimately benefit you in the future?

10:45AM-11:15AM – The Power of Social Media

Emily Austen

A video of Emily’s career highlights started playing, followed by her comments on Barstool. The video then featured press clippings from a ton of online news outlets announcing her termination.

Emily then took the stage and asked ‘who’d be so stupid to say something like that?’ Her response was herself. She has no idea why she thought that was OK at the time, and understands some people will never believe she isn’t a racist. Her mistake is never going away and there’s nothing she can do to change the past.

She says that when you make a mistake, social media doesn’t care how big or small your profile is. She worked for fourteen years to get where she was. It all went away in 30 minutes.

Emily was unhappy with her role at FOX. She got impatient waiting for her next step. That’s why she took the Barstool audition. They told her she was the only professional woman that could hang with the guys. 

When she arrived for the audition Dave Portnoy asked her if she would be OK if they put it on Facebook Live. She thought only Barstool fans would be watching. She told the kind of jokes she thought Barstool fans wanted to hear.

As soon as the video ended, her FOX Sports boss called. He had been told what happened. He didn’t believe it. She was fired before she even got on her flight to head back to to Tampa. Upon landing, her social media notifications blew up to the point that it overloaded her battery.

She then showed a video documenting some of the most extreme responses she got online. In the video she was called a c**t, told to kill herself, and a few told her they hoped she’d be raped. She learned quickly how ugly and painful social media could be.

Holding herself back from tears, Emily said that what you saw in the video is not normal. Managers need to be aware that talent receive these messages and it isn’t okay. Just because personalities speak their minds for a living doesn’t mean they should have to be verbally abused.

Emily told the room she spent too much time defining herself by her job. The moment it was taken away, she started thinking about killing herself. She couldn’t stand the idea of not having her job and people thinking of her as a monster.

When she woke up in the morning she had hundreds of thousands of comments. Far less messages come through now, but there are still times when she’s hit with nasty responses. 

Rather than allowing it to destroy her she’s since used her example as a way to help others. She now speaks to college kids everywhere to show them how much social media can change your life for the better or worse.

Her advice is to think of your career as a jersey. Your employer is on the front. Your name is on the back. What is on the back is always more important, because that never changes.

She stressed the message that there is no such thing as being private on social media. When screenshots exist, your content can go everywhere. She uses the example of a coach that invited her to speak to his team that likes porn star photos on SnapChat.

Likes on any account are essentially endorsements of the content. Her best advice is to remember the three G model. Would you want it on Google? Would you say it at church in front of God? Would your grandmother press send?

Emily talks about a company called G2. It costs $30 to use and then you receive a full documentation of every negative thing that they have ever put out on social media. For $300 the service will do the same for every person you follow.

She advocates for prehab before rehab. If you are starting a new job, it might not be a bad idea to start over on social media. 

She shared her advice on dealing with a social media scandal. She says only do interviews with people you trust. You don’t want someone trying to create a different story than the truth. Own your mistake. Be sincere in your apology.

Barstool offered Emily a job after her audition, but she didn’t want to build a career off of a terrible event. She noted how important mental health is and advocates for checking in on the people going through something like this, even if you’ve had to fire them over their mistake. If you cared for them before, don’t turn your back on them when they need you most.

Doc Rivers called her and told her that she was not defined by one moment. Your passion for what you do is what matters. Use that to get you through.

11:15AM-11:50AM Advertiser Perceptions of Sports Radio

Presented By:blank


Jill Albert – President, Direct Results

She feels a responsibility to tell clients what makes sports radio so different. There are more female listeners than the numbers show. She has seen examples of that with her own eyes. Sports listeners are engaged. That is what clients are looking for when trying to move products.

She still looks at ratings. You have to retrain some clients to learn how to spend money in new media. She knows what will work, but she doesn’t always know the best way to convey that to some clients that still think about the old way of buying radio.

Her clients are looking for experiential ideas and more engagement. She wants to be pitched outside the box ideas from stations. That is what stands out with clients. 

Lisa Nichols-Jell – Chief Strategy Officer, Bloom Ads

Her clients for male-skewing clients rely on sports radio.

When purchasing a schedule with a brand she is looking for a partner. There are many different ways to buy, but she wants to find the companies that offer her the most ways to arrive at the desired outcome.

Stations need to be aware of what success looks like to individual clients. Maybe McDonald’s values impressions more than conversions. It is up to ad agencies to covey that information to local stations so that the station can put together a plan that reflects what the client is looking for. Sports radio’s best way to reach a major client like McDonald’s is to stress the investment listeners have in their favorite stations.

Steve Shanks – Partner/CRO, Ad Results Media

Ratings don’t matter to his clients or to him. It’s about how the advertisers move product for the client. He looks for format agnostic clients that just want ROI.

Steve loves the growth of podcasting and the performance of podcasting, but he isn’t going to stop buying radio. There is no better way to move products and services locally.

He doesn’t care about audience measurements. Ad Results uses their own metrics based on how a platform delivers. He says the best way to combat money going to places like Barstool is showing advertisers a little extra love in terms of bonus spots or creative advertising opportunities.

Where podcasters really do more is that there is no time limit on their spots. That is an ideal way to create a connection. 

David Gow – CEO, Gow Media

He understands the importance of showing potential advertisers his talent’s ability to convert their listeners into customers.

Advertisers still respond to brand alignment, but individual talent drive more results. 

David says that advertisers that only look at the number say no to the best offer they are going to get because they are driven by a single thing.

11:50AM-12:20PM – The Tony Bruno Award Presentation

Presented By:blank


Eric Shanks – CEO/Executive Producer – FOX Sports

No one was surprised that a sports content award was named for Tony Bruno. It was a surprise that FOX meant so much to Tony.

After 30 years, it’s great to see how much energy Tony still has for the industry. We loved his sense of humor and sports acumen. He was a no-brainer for The Best Damn Sports Show.  He was always ready to be whatever part of the team he needed to be.

Tony is an A+ entertainer. His blessing is a very distinctive set of pipes. We asked him to come around even when he wasn’t working, because we liked having him around.

Tony garners the respect of everyone. He is like having a producer on stage or behind a microphone. He could dance on air while the crew was figuring out what they wanted to do. Eric says he is confident Tony knew that Eric had no idea what he was doing, but he always showed him only respect.

What FOX is today is largely built around what Tony is – a personality driven success. No one in sports has had as much public success as Tony.

Tony Bruno – Host, The Tony Bruno Show

He asked Eric to repeat himself at his funeral. He isn’t sure why anyone that hasn’t worked with him would want to be here.

He was 13 when he fell in love with radio. He would listen to everything. He was attracted to people that sounded good. People he considers mentors have no idea how much they taught him.

He went to his mom’s basement to work on his voice. He would get on the party line and do fake radio shows. When he was 16 he went to the American Academy of Broadcasting. They used to use his first day tape and graduation tape to sell tuition.

He tells the story of getting hired at ESPN Radio and how the network launched. He says that his favorite thing about his career is that people of different generations know him from different things.

People that don’t love this business will never get it. We are the soundtrack to our listeners’ lives. The great people in this industry are the ones that garner respect from everyone whether they are fans or not.

Before pitching to a video of Clay Travis, Bruno brought the room to tears with a massage joke due to the news of the day involving Robert Kraft. Barrett then surprised him by providing him with his own version of the Tony Bruno Award.

Clay Travis (Video) – Host, FOX Sports Radio 

Clay appreciates being thought of the same way as Tony Bruno. His goal is always to be smart, original, funny, and authentic. Creative radio only flourishes under great bosses that let you find your voice. For that Travis acknowledged the support he receives from Don Martin and Scott Shapiro.

Though he is on vacation, that doesn’t make this honor any less important to him. He thanked everyone in the room for their support before promoting Lock It In and Outkick the Coverage.

1:30PM-2:10PMWrestling Your Way Past The Competition

Eric Bischoff – Host, 83 Weeks Podcast/Former Wrestling Executive

Eric Bischoff never thought he couldn’t beat Vince McMahon. He still thinks about what led to being able to beat the WWF. The WCW hired a research firm to put them in front of wrestling fans. They did a lot of research into market segmentation. Through those focus groups, Bischoff was able to determine what wrestling fans wanted in every show. It helped him be different (if not better) than the WWF.

He incorporated both research and gut instinct into his strategy. Research he says can guide you, but you miss a lot if you live and die by numbers.

When Eric took over the WCW he had no prior wrestling experience. He didn’t know how to prepare, but it was what Ted Turner wanted, so he knew he had to succeed.

The research and corporate environment was exhausting, so he locked himself alone in a room. He made a list of strengths and weaknesses for both wrestling organizations, and realized what a disadvantage he had. That is when he decided to be different than the WWF. 

Fortunately, the WWF left a lot on the table by choosing to focus on teens and families. It was 1995 when Bischoff took over WCW. He was influenced by Dick Ebersol’s approach to the 1996 Olympics, where NBC decided to focus more on stories than competitions and outcomes. 

He saw the WWF as a living cartoon. That is why he decided to let wrestlers keep their own names. It helped the characters relate better to the audience. 

When JB asked Bischoff if controversy is bad for a brand, Bischoff said that he doesn’t think it’s possible to have success without it. He used to give away the ending of pre-taped WWF events when WCW was the first to do live TV events. He knew how much WWF fans hated it, but it was worth it because it created more WCW fans. That is good controversy. It doesn’t hurt anyone. It is just trying to create impressions.

Bischoff gave a TED Talk in November in which he explained how business is essentially pro wrestling. The news is doing now what he and Vince McMahon were doing in the 1990’s. He wants to hear radio that creates a call to action, even if it is subliminal. An emotional reaction should always be a broadcaster’s goal.

He can tell by the way he feels at the end of taping a podcast if the episode will be well received. If he had fun doing it, the listeners will have fun. 

JB asked Bischoff to give everyone advice on people that are doing their best work and being innovative, yet are still being questioned by their superiors because it isn’t showing up in the ratings. He says the key is to manage everyone’s expectations. That way you can manage the short term while you work towards the long-term goal. There is no simple answer, but you have to get people to see that there are steps towards getting to the long-term goal.

He was forced to change course when he didn’t want to a lot of times. The entrepreneurial spirit can be killed in a corporate environment. That is why you have to fight for what you believe in and be willing to do research to back up your feelings.

When asked about managing talent, Bischoff said it’s an area where he knew he had to improve. Too many times he got close to people, which could compromise his ability to handle tougher situations. He also pointed out that the guys that want stroke are always noisier than guys that have it. 

If he could do it over he says he’d have kept more distance from the talent. When you know people for a long time and become their friend, it can be hard to separate business from personal relationships.

If he was still competing with WWE, there wouldn’t be as many openings. There isn’t much they don’t do well. What you would have to do is look for what they don’t do as well as everything else. Social media and creativity are those likely openings.

Bischoff says that the way Becky Lynch has used social media in the last 120 days has made her star rise faster than anything else she has ever done. She finds a way to be real but not break character. If he ran the WWE, he would ask her to lead social media seminars for the other wrestlers.

Talent don’t always have an accurate view of themselves. They have to feel their character to be a success. You have to trust that they want their check enough to trust that you want what is best for them.

Most listeners and viewers of anything are looking for a great story. There is more freedom to tell great stories in audio. The more you can be relaxed with the timing, the more authentic you can be and the better content you can create.

He has been worried for a while about how to improve the show a year from now. He knows people want to talk about the Monday Night Wars, but feels his podcast needs to find more opportunities to inject humor into discussions of current events in wrestling. 

2:10PM-2:45PM  – According To Sources

Moderated by Mike Salk – Host/PD, 710 ESPN Seattle

Ramona Shelburne – NBA Insider/Senior Writer, ESPN

Ramona admits that she has a tier in terms of what radio markets she will make time for when she gets media requests. She tries to always respond to people who are polite. She wants to know that the people that want her on have a reason and not just “we need an NBA person.”

She doesn’t mind if you don’t know everything about what she has written, but know who she is. She hopes hosts will take a second to look at her Twitter feed before they bring her on.

Hot takes aren’t what Ramona does. She can back up her opinions with her reporting, so she doesn’t worry about what she says. She thinks that what is more effective is asking reporters questions like “what is Nick Saban like” that can lead to good stories.

ESPN is a big organization. It can be hard for even their own shows to coordinate. Aggregation is changing the way people report. She can say things in radio interviews she cannot write in hopes that it will get picked up, but she is aware that it is possible to get misquoted that way.

Bruce Feldman – College Football Insider, FOX Sports/The Athletic

Bruce will always say yes if he can. He will only say no if he physically cannot take the call. It helps to promote everything he does, and he always appreciates when radio promotes The Athletic. 

There is nothing that intimidates Bruce about interviews. He knows that people are going to ask about stuff he knows. The only thing he really doesn’t like is a host going on a long tangent that doesn’t have anything to do with why he is on.

He isn’t scared about giving an opinion, but he is aware that the people he covers are viewing his Twitter feed. He can be more nuanced on FOX than on Twitter, so he hopes that is what he is judged by.

Bruce finds network protocols confusing. He doesn’t get why he can’t do Andy Staples’s show and Mark Packer’s show in the same day just because they are both on Sirius XM.

Steve Wyche – Reporter/Writer/Analyst, NFL Network

Steve is happy to take any media requests. He thinks that it helps build the NFL Network brand. He also feels a responsibility to help out people of color that make requests.

He wants to be able to stir things up with a host. He understands that you have to be nimble when you are a radio guest. He doesn’t mind being sandbagged. He doesn’t like it, but it won’t get you cut off from his rotation.

Steve says that reviewing a reporter’s Twitter feed can create great radio when you have them on. He for the most part trusts hosts to create great conversations.

Steve tells the story about breaking the story of Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem. He knew through a previous relationship with Kaep that it could be a big deal. He wrote the story and had to wait for executives to decide what to do with it. He sent it in at 11 pm Pacific. It didn’t go up until 7 am the next morning. He was so upset about it, because he was worried about getting beat.

2:45PM-3:20PM – Tackling Digital

Presented By:


Moderated by Demetri Ravanos – Assistant Content Director, Barrett Sports Media

David Feldman – Senior Director, Social Content, NFL

The NFL is a lot of things. We’re a brand that people have certain expectations of, but we’re also a news breaker. In a sense, I have an easy job. I don’t have to sell fans on the combine, they come to us for combine content. My job is to get them as close to the field, with as much reporting and video as possible.

PD’s should look for people who can do everything – copyrighting, Photoshop, and Social Content that stands out.  

Phil Mackey – Director of Content, SKOR North

Our stake is still in radio, but we’re focusing a lot now on digital. We’re active on Twitter and Instagram, as well as Twitch and YouTube. The goal each day is to distribute content on eight or nine different platforms.

If people are waking up at 7am and scrolling through Twitter and your content isn’t popping up, you’re not in their minds and other brands will be.

We’re in full discovery mode right now. If there are 2.5 million sports fans in the Twin Cities, maybe 100,000 people know what SKOR North is, maybe 10,000 can recite what we’re doing.

The Ringer is in partial discovery mode, everyone knows what the NFL is. The NFL can take something as benign as a schedule release and turn it into prime-time content. Any brand can learn from the NFL, and how they branch off to create different levels of content. 

Phil was told by an advertiser – We spend millions of dollars on radio and we’d like to spend money on you too, but we can’t justify investing in AM radio in the Twin Cities.

We have to find ways to be creative and integrate content, we want to get 15 different versions of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee or do Barstool Pizza Reviews.  

If you can teach people how to run a mixing board for a radio show, you can teach them how to use Photoshop and make audio visual.

Pat Muldowney – Director, Social Content, The Ringer

While we want to go viral, we know that’s not going to happen with every piece of content. Piece by piece, platform by platform, the expectations will vary.

Bill Simmons is one of the most successful podcasts ever, but even with that, most people don’t listen to his podcast, so we’re always trying to add new listeners even if it’s 10 or 15 at a time.

Demetri asks about Colin Cowherd’s comments from yesterday regarding nobody gets rich off of podcasts – Pat responded with, “I can tell you someone who might not be rich because of podcasts, but is making a lot of money off podcasts – Colin Cowherd!” Podcasts are a great extension from traditional sports talk radio.

3:20PM-3:55PMSpeak To The Media

Jason Whitlock – Host, FOX Sports 1

I’m going to sound like a homer for my network, but love of the game is the key ingredient for being a sports broadcaster. If you look at our lineup across the board, the reason why Colin Cowherd is so popular and respected is because his insight is so good, and that’s because he loves the game. If you look at our competitors, I’m not sure there is always a love of the game and it sounds sloppy and uninformed.

The worldwide leader used to be the sports fan’s best friend, but they’ve since become more political. Outlets like Barstool have capitalized on that.

My target is the 40-year old guy who likes sports, likes to drink a beer, and just got home from a hard day of work.

Regarding diversity in sports radio, Jason wishes he knew how to make it more diverse. He said he tries to be very authentic, while not being hostile. When he hosted in Kansas City he sought to do a show that made black listeners very comfortable, while not being offensive to the 73.5% white audience.

The best thing African Americans can do in Jason’s estimation is be successful. Oprah Winfrey created a lot of opportunity for African American women by being successful. The same holds true for men of color with great opportunities in sports media. 

If you have an authentic desire to do something and make sports radio more diverse, you have to put in extra work. Jason says he and Marcellus are happy to help mentor young African-American talent if they’re willing to put the work in and accept feedback that will make them better. 

Marcellus Wiley – Host, FOX Sports 1

Over time hot take artists get weeded out. The audience gravitates toward hosts who have conviction with their opinions, not those who just spew out stats and information. Passion and personality makes a difference.

Relationships with teams, and maintaining those relationships is important for some former players which leads to being safe. That isn’t a great strategy if you want to have a long career in sports media.

As a young listener of color, the danger element of radio is missing. For the black and Hispanic listeners there is not a full on-air representation of who they are. Sports radio is often happy with getting base hits and not swinging for the fences. They’re fine with just surviving the next four hours.

When a host knows their boss is listening they play in bounds, when their boss is not listening is when they’ll play out of bounds a little bit. It’s when you go out of bounds that you usually discover things that connect more.

3:55PM-4:30PMEvaluating Talent & Content

Jim Graci – PD, 93.7 The Fan

Jim wants his station to always be putting out good content, because you never know when a listener is turning it on. The presentation is as important as the content. 

Adam Klug – PD, 97.3 The Fan

Adam isn’t involved on topic selection, but he is involved in building the station’s visit. He wants a station that lives on the West Coast to do what makes sense for them, not copy what is happening on ESPN. He does stay involved with guest booking, since his background is as a producer.

He wants to see talent do more outside thinking and less catering to their own interests.

Eric Johnson – PD, 97.5 The Fanatic

The Eagles always lead the way in Philadelphia. That has been true for three decades. The research confirms it, but the Sixers are a strong second according to the research.

The guys then listened to 4 minutes of Doug Gottlieb audio.

Jim says the content isn’t his issue. The formatics are bad. It is structurally rough.

Adam says he noticed that there was too much reading and too much wheel-spinning before the actual content. He was happy that Doug used a good analogy and has connections to add perspective to the story.

Doug Gottlieb then emerged from the back of the theater, and joined the crew on stage, acknowledging that Jim and Adam’s criticism was fair. He says the way you approach talent is more important than the information you give them.

Knowing how to approach your talent will tell you the best way to coach them and correct their mistakes. Doug is always open to being told he’s wrong. It doesn’t mean he won’t push back, but he will always listen to feedback and evaluate it.

Adam asked why Doug would agree to do two shows in a single day. Doug says that he is a workaholic and he trusts that he can do it with the team he has. 

4:30PMBSM Summit Wrap

Jason Barrett – President, Barrett Sports Media

Jason asked the audience to share one takeaway from the past two days before wrapping up the summit.

Don Martin, KCLA/Fox Sports Radio – The kinship matters and it is important that we work together to raise the level of the format.

Jason Ross, Sports Radio 1140 KHTK – The goal is to get the most out of all audio.

Joe Fortenbaugh, 95.7 the Game – Everyone we listened to here works their ass off. People that care about the gig put in the work and grind.

Perry Michael Simon, All Access – The present of sports radio is fine, but more attention has to be paid to its future. The room is still predominantly old white guys. The future consumes things differently and has different expectations.

Dennis Glassgow, 99.9 the Fan – I wanted to hear more context from the eSports and Sports Betting panels. The rest was excellent. 

Jeff Austin, 1080 the Fan – The flow chart that we have in our building is wrong. It is going to cost money to get where we need to be.

Chris Baker, The Sports Animal – It is a thrill to be in the same room with Tony Bruno. Emily’s presentation was a pleasant surprise.

Evan Cohen, Good Karma Brands – Emily was the standout.

Jason Dixon, Sirius XM – The panel with Bruce and Mike was so great, but for the last two weeks I have been talking about guest booking with my producers for the past two weeks. It was great to hear how reporters feel about getting pitched for a radio spot.

Eric Johnson, 97.5 the Fanatic – We have to keep looking for the places for our content to fill the holes.

Mike Thomas, 98.5 the Sports Hub – We’re all trying to stay relevant in a slow/no growth business. We have to figure out how to make money off the best podcasts, because someday that bubble is going to burst.

Bruce Gilbert, Cumulus Media – This format is built on authenticity and passion. I am glad we’re at a place where those values are at the forefront.

Kevin Shock, KJR – I have taken more notes than I have for any college or high school class. The concept of making sure we’re outside thinkers is so valuable.

Jim Costa, 96.1 ESPN – We’re all here because we want to be on the right side of evolution. We shouldn’t be scared of Amazon bringing Alexa to the car. 

Scott Shapiro, Fox Sports Radio – It’s all heart and passion. It’s a pre-requesit for on-air talent and should be the same for management. 

Emily Austin – Everyone was so open-armed. I got so much great advice over the last two days. I am excited about growing the passion for sports radio amongst women and young people.

Dan Zampillo, ESPN 710 – The way Emily presented her story was incredible. It is so important how we tell stories.

Josh Innes, SportsTalk 790 – There are so many good programmers with good ideas. The industry needs to give those people the resources they need to execute them.

Tony Bruno – Radio has to be more about what is happening in the future and not about what was great in the past. I still want to learn. You have to embrace being able to learn something new everyday.

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Barrett Blogs

ESPN Has Made It Clear, Radio Is Not a Priority

“What’s unfolding now at the worldwide leader is disheartening because it could have been avoided.”

Jason Barrett




This is not a column I wanted to write. For years, I’ve expressed how much better the industry is when ESPN Radio is healthy. I’ve maintained friendships at the network, the company has supported our BSM Summit, and I reflect fondly on the few years I spent working there earlier in my career. It was a special place to work and I learned a lot about becoming a pro in Bristol.

But this ESPN Radio is not the one that I and many others were fortunate to be a part of under Bruce Gilbert. It is not the one that Traug Keller, Scott Masteller, and other radio-first believers oversaw. This current version lacks radio instincts, focus, passion, and care. That may be an opinion that folks in Bristol, New York, and Los Angeles offices don’t want to hear but the decisions made in recent years make it difficult to see it any other way.

ESPN Radio used to obsess over serving the sports fan, its radio affiliates, and network advertising partners. But serving the company’s television and digital interests is what matters most now. Relationships with radio operators have changed, interest in operating local markets has decreased, and though I’m sure some will defend the network’s interest in satisfying advertising partners, it’s hard to do that a day after the entire national audio sales team was gutted. Thankfully Good Karma Brands is passionate about the audio business and helping their sales efforts. If they weren’t involved, who would be leading the charge in Bristol?

I didn’t start this week planning to drop a truth bomb but as I sat here on Tuesday and fielded text after text and call after call, I couldn’t help but be disappointed and upset. This network has been a staple of the industry for over thirty years. Yet in less than ten it feels they’re closer to turning off the lights than celebrating success. That should not happen when you have the partnerships, history, and talent that ESPN has.

What saddens me is that it didn’t have to reach this point. ESPN Radio had chances to sell in the past to outside parties. They declined. Folks inside of Disney felt the network was worth more. Well, how’s that looking now? If the company wasn’t going to commit to doing it the right way, and was just going to cut its way to the bottom, why stand in the way of others who’d pay to save it? It’s eerily similar to what just happened with Buzzfeed News. The company thought it was better than it was, and within a few years, the whole thing crumbled.

If this were the first time the network looked bad, I’d go easier on them. I understand the business, and sometimes brands or companies make mistakes or have to make difficult choices. It’s why I didn’t bury the network when Mike and Mike ended. Though I knew replacing their stability in mornings would be tough, I felt the network had earned enough clout over the prior years to be given the benefit of the doubt with a new show/lineup. I also applauded the company for replacing Zubin with Max, defended paying Stephen A. Smith top dollar, and supported GetUp! when it was popular to predict the show’s funeral.

But how can leadership in Bristol expect radio operators to trust their decision making at this point? I’ve talked to network executives privately and publicly about these issues for years, and have been told repeatedly that the radio business matters to them and becoming more consistent was a priority. At some point though the actions need to match the words. Unfortunately the only consistency taking place is change, and it often isn’t for the better.

I’ve lost count of the phone calls, texts, emails and direct messages I’ve fielded from PDs, executives, market managers, and ad agency professionals who’ve asked ‘should I be doing business with this network? Can you help me rebrand and redesign my radio station without ESPN Radio?‘ Yesterday alone I took five calls including from two who have expiring deals coming up. Think they’re in a rush to extend a partnership given what’s going on?

If you turn back the clock, some will say that things began to go in the wrong direction when Bruce Gilbert and Dan Patrick left. Though those were big losses, there was still a lot of confidence across the industry in ESPN Radio after they left. The early signs of issues at the network really started in 2014. That’s when Scott Masteller and Scott Shapiro departed. Masteller went on to program WBAL in Baltimore, and Shapiro teamed up with Don Martin to strengthen FOX Sports Radio.

Fast forward to 2020, and the heart and soul of the network, Traug Keller retired. Traug had more in the tank when he signed off, and when I talked to him prior to his exit, he denied being forced out or having concerns about the future direction of the network. Those who know Traug, know that’s he’s a class act and not one to air dirty laundry. But I also know he’s smart. As I look back now, I can’t help but wonder if he knew the ship was headed for an iceberg. I have no doubt that the network would be in better shape today if he were still there.

After Traug’s exit, a year later, Tim McCarthy was let go in New York. The network even cut ties with longtime voice talents Jim and Dawn Cutler, though they stayed on the company’s top stations in NY and LA.

Though I hated to see all of them go because they were good at their jobs and valuable to the network, the one that made a little more sense was Tim’s exit because that had more to do with Good Karma taking over in New York. Tim has since landed with the Broadcasters Foundation of America, and Vinny DiMarco is now leading 98.7 ESPN NY, and I’m a fan of both men.

But now here we are in 2023, and once again, the folks being shown the door are the people who dedicated their lives to radio. Among the casualties, Scott McCarthy, the network’s SVP of Audio, Pete Gianesini, Senior Director of Digital Audio, Louise Cornetta, Digital Audio Program Director, and two good local sports radio programmers, Ryan Hurley at 98.7 ESPN NY, and Amanda Brown at ESPN LA 710. All of them good, talented people with track records of success in the format. I struggle to explain how ESPN Radio is better today without them.

By the way, I haven’t even touched the talent department yet. But let’s go there next.

In less than eight years, ESPN Radio’s morning show has featured Mike & Mike, Golic & Wingo (Mike Golic Jr. and Jason Fitz were added as contributing voices), Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin, and Keyshawn, JWill and Max. Middays have included Colin Cowherd, Dan Le Batard and Stugotz, Scott Van Pelt, Ryen Russillo, Danny Kanell, Will Cain, Mike Greenberg, Jason Fitz, Stephen A. Smith, Bart & Hahn, and Fitz and Harry Douglas. Afternoons have been a combination of Le Batard and Stugotz, Bomani Jones, Jalen & Jacoby, Golic Jr. & Chiney, Canty & Golic Jr. & Canty and Carlin. I could run down the changes at night too, but you get the picture.

As a former programmer and current consultant, I know that radio is a relationship listen and investment. You can’t build an audience and attract sponsor support for talent and shows if the product constantly changes. Most PDs or executives who make this many changes during a short period of time, usually aren’t around very long. Yet ESPN has allowed this to continue, which leaves me to question how much they value their radio network.

Look, I’m sure this is a tough week for those in management at ESPN. Having to tell folks they’re not being retained and watch friends say goodbye is a crummy part of the job. I’m sure some have even fought to try and avoid this bloodbath. But when the news comes down from up above that 7,000 jobs are being eliminated, it’s not a question of whether or not people are talented and valuable, it’s simply about the bottom line. I feel for the folks at ESPN who have to deliver the bad news this week but also for those who are staying and now have limited support around them to make a difference.

By decimating the radio department there are now bigger questions to be answered by Jimmy, Burke, Dave, Norby and the rest of the management team. How much does ESPN value the radio business and the stations they’re in business with? If most of the people who’ve built relationships with local stations are gone, talented programmers are being ousted, talent changes happen far too frequently, and the company becomes less involved in local markets, why is anyone to believe this space matters to ESPN? What exactly are stations gaining from partnerships besides the use of four letters and the opportunity to air play by play events?

The network expects these stations to provide them with inventory, rights fees, branding, promotion, and clearance of certain programs so isn’t it fair of stations to have expectations of the network too? Don’t radio network partners deserve consistent quality programming, relationships with managers who prioritize audio, and less negative PR?

Most who I talk to about this situation believe the network’s glory days are gone. That’s fine. Just because this isn’t the ESPN Radio of 2005 doesn’t mean it can’t be great. The product exists now to primarily serve mid to small market operators who can’t afford local content, major market stations who don’t want to spend on evening and overnight shows, and company owned stations that can be utilized to promote the company’s digital and television content. ESPN does gain value for their radio shows on TV and podcast platforms, but those benefit the company much more than their radio partners.

The general feeling in industry circles is that FOX Sports Radio now delivers the best national radio product, CBS Sports Radio has better consistency but similar east coast content issues, and others don’t have strong enough brand recognition or content to justify a change. If sports betting continues to gain mainstream acceptance and bring cash into the marketplace, that could help outlets like VSiN, BetQL, and SportsGrid gain greater traction. If Outkick gets more aggressive with offering content to local markets, especially in the south and Midwest, that could be another interesting option.

The bigger question is whether there’s enough audience, revenue, and excitement for national content in today’s sports radio space. If most major markets are focused on local, is there enough out there in rural America to keep networks excited?

I do know that just ten years ago CBS Radio entered the space because they saw value in it. NBC Sports Radio leaped in too. FOX Sports Radio went all-in for Colin Cowherd, and ESPN Radio was healthy. Even SiriusXM continues to expand its national offerings, and three sports betting networks saw value in pursuing national distribution. It’s hard to convince me that there isn’t financial upside for national sports radio brands in today’s media environment. It may not be a big ratings play but from a business standpoint there is value.

What’s unfolding now at the worldwide leader is disheartening because it could have been avoided. Instead, brands have been damaged, relationships changed, jobs lost, and questions raised about future viability.

If the world’s leading sports operator values radio, they’ll prioritize restoring confidence across the industry. A good start would be putting people in place who champion radio’s future, and make decisions that best serve the radio brands carrying their product. If they can’t do that, then maybe it’s time to step aside, and let someone else try. I know a few groups who’d be happy to take a shot at restoring the network’s pride.

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Barrett Blogs

Radio Must Bring Back The Fun

“The promotions you’re creating are not producing massive recall across the format, national media attention or revenues that change the fate of your next quarter.”

Jason Barrett




Five and a half days in Las Vegas can feel like an eternity. Especially when you’re in town for business not pleasure. But though I’d rather sleep in my own bed, eat at home, and avoid walking from convention hall to convention hall, I’m glad I made the trip because the NAB Show delivered. 

Many media members have attended this event over the years, and it’s easy to come up with reasons not to attend. Budgets are tight, you can’t afford to be out of the office, or you think it isn’t beneficial. That’s where I’ll take exception. If you can’t find something of value at a five-day event that exists to serve broadcasters and brands, that’s on you, not the conference.  

Over the past few days, I did what many do and took necessary business meetings at Encore, but I also listened to speakers offer valuable insights on artificial intelligence, marketing, programming, technology, dashboard connectivity, the future of AM radio, and more. All of these are subjects that should matter to media professionals. Having Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso star Roy Kent) on hand to talk about content creation was an added bonus. 

As I spent my final hour inside the North Hall on Wednesday, I couldn’t help but think about how large this event is, what goes into creating it, and how many different industries and brands are represented at it. What the NAB does to make this event possible for sixty-five thousand plus is amazing, and I commend all involved because it truly is informative, and it helps bring together business leaders and brands to help move our industry forward. 

There were many takeaways from the conference sessions, but one in particular stood out. I thought Mike McVay’s session with J.D. Crowley and Paul Suchman of Audacy was excellent. Crowley’s insights on listener choice, distribution, and personalization were spot on, and I was very impressed with Suchman’s feedback on some of the behavior testing Audacy has done to learn how consumers respond to different types of content and messaging.

Crowley’s final message about people in the audio industry needing to be proud of the business they’re in was easy for me to relate to because I feel similarly. This is a great business to be in. I get tired of hearing folks in and out of the industry tear it down. So much attention gets placed on who exceeded revenue goals, what a brand’s ratings were, and what a company’s stock price is, losing sight of the more important part, our brands, personalities, and content, and the way they’re received by those who consume it.

Additionally, I was honored to speak about the growth of BSM and BNM. Joe D’Angelo of Xperi and Pierre Bouvard of Cumulus Media treated folks to information on advertising and in-car data, and Erica Farber, Tim Bronsil, and Mary DelGrande did a nice job guiding multiple business conversations. I also enjoyed stopping by the Veritone booth and learning about their products and staff. My only regret, I missed Buzz Knight’s session with Nielsen’s new audio team due to a business meeting running long. Thankfully Inside Radio put together a detailed recap of what was discussed. 

But what I want to draw attention to most is something Dan Mason said on stage during his acceptance speech when receiving the Lowry Mays Award at the Broadcasters Foundation of America breakfast. It’s something I raised at last month’s BSM Summit. 

After sharing how local is a key differentiator in helping radio stand apart from other forms of media, and reminding everyone about the importance of longevity, Mason said that radio has to get back to having fun. He shared a story of a promotion he was part of in the 1970’s that wouldn’t fly today. It was a short people’s convention that included six-ounce drinks, pigs in a blanket, and strawberry shortcake. The event put his radio station on NBC Nightly News, and created a ton of buzz.  

Just because that type of event wouldn’t work in 2023, doesn’t mean others can’t. We have got to create special events that produce national attention, local market interest, and fear of missing out spending. This is what radio is supposed to be exceptional at yet it doesn’t happen enough.  

At our Summit in LA, I asked three PD’s to share with me the one promotion in sports radio today that they viewed as a killer event. It wasn’t an easy one to answer. In fact, two referenced WIP’s Wing Bowl, which ended in 2018. Had I asked five or six other PD’s, they’d have likely been in the same boat, struggling to name three or four killer events. 

I mentioned how the Mandy Awards at 710 ESPN in Los Angeles stood out, but this format should be able to deliver more than one standout promotion. I realize there are stations doing promotional events, and if they’re helping you produce revenue, great. I’m not telling you to abandon that strategy. But I will challenge you if you try to tell me sports radio’s report card on promotions in 2023 is superb. It is not.

One gentleman I listened to during the week who was attending a session shared one reason why this is the case. He was asked about creating ideas and said ‘we use a committee to brainstorm and find that sometimes the best ideas come from different departments, in fact, our last successful event was the idea of our engineer.’ 

I’m all for collaboration, and if you’re creating events that satisfy your goals, continue doing it. I’m not here to rain on your parade. But let me share an opinion some may view as unpopular. If the best ideas in your organization are coming from departments other than programming, you have a problem.

The program director and talent are supposed to be the people you turn to for leadership, ideas, passion, creativity, and execution. They’re supposed to be able to think of things that others can’t. Do you think Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino would turn over the direction of their next film to others inside their companies? Imagine the focus of Ted Lasso’s next episode being decided by someone other than Jason Sudeikis, Brett Goldstein, and the rest of their writing team. You’d be wasting the talent of your best storytellers.

Radio companies pay premium dollars for elite programmers and hosts because they’re supposed to be able to bring things to life that only exists inside their brains. If your HR or engineering department are creating the station’s best promotions, you don’t have enough creativity coming from your programming team. That could be due to having a PD who lacks ideas and vision or it could be the result of the way your creative process is structured.

One of the things I enjoyed most as a PD was coming up with ideas that created buzz, ratings, and revenue. My job was to think and execute BIG, and whether it was Lucky Break in San Francisco, Stand For Stan at 101 ESPN in St. Louis, the Golden Ticket at 590 The Fan in St. Louis, the 20 in 20 tour or Goodbye Roast at 95.7 The Game or the Gridiron Gala in both cities, we produced buzz, grew ratings, and made money. If we did something and it failed, that was ok. I’d rather swing and miss than be afraid to try. I took that responsibility seriously, and feel that when you’re making calls by committee, you’re not allowing your best people to do what they’re best suited to do. 

Case in point, I attended Boomer & Gio Live in Jersey City, NJ a few weeks ago. It was a fun event with a lot of different things going on. WFAN’s PD Spike Eskin worked the event on stage, and if you recall, the station made national news when Jets GM Joe Douglas said that Aaron Rodgers would end up in New York. There were multiple sales activations included throughout the show, and much of the fun content that took place on stage came from the creators. Because the FAN crew were allowed to do what they do best, the station produced a successful event. Had that been an ‘all departments contribute’ approach, it’d have not been the same show. 

What Dan Mason said in Las Vegas was accurate. Radio has to get back to having fun but it also has to be unafraid to take risks. I fear that we worry so much about the ‘what ifs’ and the potential noise on social media that we’re killing creativity, and the next big idea.

If I asked you to list five GREAT sports radio promotions today, could you? And I’m not talking about golf tournaments, charitable bowling events, host debates or bar remotes. If I ask this same question in five years and we’re in the same spot, that’s going to say a lot about where we are as an industry. We have to excite ourselves, our listeners, and our advertisers because when we showcase our creativity in a way that no other medium can, we make a statement, which results in increased attention, and financial investment.  

Some of that creative spirit is still alive. You see it in Boston with WEEI’s Jimmy Fund Telethon, and if you attended the Michael Kay Show 20-year anniversary special or Barstool’s Upfront, you saw what great planning, and execution looks like. But I also remember The Fanatic’s Celebrity Week, The Millen Man March in Detroit, Ticketfest in Dallas, Wing Bowl in Philadelphia, and 790 The Zone in Atlanta becoming a national sensation by creating multiple home run events.

I don’t believe enough brands today create events that deliver meaningful impact. Yet they’re needed. When done right, brands ascend to a different level. Sports radio has too many sharp, creative minds to not be creating the biggest and most successful promotions in all of media. If you work in programming and your station isn’t producing promotions that generate recall across the format, national media attention or revenues that change the fate of your next quarter, it’s time to step up your game. If you don’t, the interns, street team, and receptionist may soon be deciding the future direction of your brand’s promotional strategy.

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Barrett Blogs

Reflecting on the 2023 BSM Summit

“Barrett Media president Jason Barrett reflects on last week’s BSM Summit in Los Angeles.”

Jason Barrett




One of the best parts about the world of sports is that every season ends with one team being crowned champion. It doesn’t exactly work that way managing a media company, even though we invest the same amount of time leading up to the BSM Summit, our equivalent of the Super Bowl or WrestleMania.

Having had a few days to recover and reflect after last week’s Summit in Los Angeles, I know that what we did last week was special. I’m a perfectionist and have a hard time patting myself on the back because I know there’s plenty we can do better, but last week, we hit a homerun. The venues at USC were perfect, the signage was spectacular, the tech ran well, the speakers were awesome, the crowd was great, and the sponsorship support was outstanding. It’s the first time I’ve walked away from an event and felt we accomplished what we set out to do. If time allows, check out Garrett Searight’s piece on some of the key takeaways from the show.

In 2018, Mitch Rosen invited me to utilize his space at Audacy Chicago to take a shot at trying to execute an event for PDs. Now here we are five years later with a few hundred people joining us from all across the industry. It’s pretty incredible. We’re only successful because a lot of people have come together to make sure we are. Without the speakers, sponsors, and staff around me stepping up to get things done, I’d just be a guy with an idea incapable of executing it.

In the next week or so we’ll be sharing video clips from the show on the BSM social media pages. I’m also planning to make full sessions available via on-demand for free for those who attended the show in California. If you didn’t come to the event and want to watch it online, it will be available for a small fee. Stay tuned for further details.

What matters most to me with the Summit is that folks in the room get something out of it. I thought many of our speakers delivered a ton of value this year, and there were a few WOW moments along the way as well. Colin and Rome were outstanding as expected, and Jay Glazer and Al Michaels’ speeches had everyone hanging on their next words. I thought the Shawn Michaels and Jack Rose led sessions were outside the box and well received, and I was beyond impressed by Joy Taylor, Mina Kimes, and Amanda Brown. We used 14 hours in that room to explore issues dealing with management, research, technology, programming, talent and social media, so it gave everyone a little bit of everything, which was the goal.

We did have a little bit of friction on stage during the Aircheck on Campus session, which wasn’t a bad thing. Personalities and programmers have passionate conversations inside the office every day. Rob, Mark and Scott just happened to have one on stage. All three are smart, talented, and willing to be candid. I thought that was healthy for the room.

I know networking is important at these type of events and there was plenty of opportunity for folks to do that. I look at it like this, if you can get face time with others, meet your heroes or folks you admire and pick up some ideas and insight in the process to elevate your business, that should justify it being worthy of a few days out of the office.

As crazy as it may sound, I step away from each of these events asking my team ‘is that the last one?’ I know I can create and execute a great conference, and I enjoy doing it, but I also don’t want to invest eight months of time building a show that becomes predictable and stale. It’s why I change speakers and topics frequently. This year’s lineup was phenomenal, and I’m so pleased with who we featured on stage and had in the room, but the competitor in me will also look back and say ‘Bill Simmons, Ice Cube and Lincoln Riley Should’ve Been On Stage Too!


If we do host an event in 2024, it will take place in either Boston, Chicago, Dallas or New York. You can cast your vote on

I want to thank everyone who stopped me last week to share how much they enjoy this event. That support means a lot. I think Good Karma Brands broke a record with 20+ employees in attendance, and iHeart was also well represented, which was great to see. I was also excited to have 15-20 college students in the room. The more we can educate the next generation, the better it is for all of us. I also was thrilled to learn a few of our partners and attendees made time to arrange further business conversations. If two groups can help each other, that’s what it’s all about.

But as much as I love my radio brothers and sisters, I’ve noticed more folks showing up the past two years from areas outside of sports radio. That’s both exhilarating and concerning. This year we had folks in the room from WWE, Amazon, The Volume, Omaha Productions, Dirty Mo Media, Barstool Sports, Spotify, Blue Wire, Locked On, BetRivers, Bleav, etc.. I hope that trend continues because sports media is a lot larger of a business than sports radio. As I told the room, we’re not in the radio business, television business, audio or video business, we are in the content business. That covers a lot more ground for brands than focusing on one specific platform.

I’ve been on cloud nine for a few days because overall, this went as well as I could ask for. If there’s one thing I’d like to make better it’s that I hear from a lot of folks throughout the year who say they want to learn, meet new people and give themselves a competitive edge yet when an event exists that can help them do that, they’re not in the room. Some of my radio friends didn’t come because they weren’t asked to speak. Others said they couldn’t make it because their company wouldn’t cover the costs. A few said they thought the Summit was only for programming people not managers or sellers.

First, growing and selling an audience should matter to everyone not just programmers and hosts. GM’s and Sales Managers can gain a lot at this show. So can advertisers and agencies. I’m hoping to change that in the future. Second, I can’t tell you whether or not to prioritize attending but groups outside of radio are passionate about sports audio and video, and they’re finding ways to be in the room. At some point, you have to decide if investing in knowledge, ideas and relationships matters to you and your business. Your employer isn’t going to cover everything you want to do so especially when the economy isn’t strong. Sometimes you have to invest time and resources in yourself.

Many of you reading this website know my track record in the radio industry. I built my career in radio. My passion for the business remains strong. I consult brands all across the country, and root for the industry’s success. It’s why I sink my heart and soul into this event and share all that I do over two days because I want to help people grow their businesses.

But it is strange that over the course of four live events I’ve still not had one current radio CEO sit down for an in-depth sports media business conversation. It’d be one thing if they were pitched and I turned them down but that’s not the case. I’ve had great conversations and support outside of radio from Jimmy Pitaro, Eric Shanks, Erika Ayers, and John Skipper. Jeff Smulyan has been a huge supporter taking part in our awards ceremony, and we’ve had high ranking TV executives in the room watching the show. Maybe things will change in 2024 but whether they do or don’t, I’m going to focus on helping brands and individuals who gain value from this two day event, and continue challenging this industry to think and act differently.


Now that the 2023 BSM Summit is over, my focus shifts to supporting my clients and gearing up for a massive challenge, hosting our first BNM Summit for news media professionals. The conference will take place in Nashville, TV on September 13-14 at Vanderbilt University. I’ll be announcing the first group of speakers in April after the NAB. Tickets will go on sale at that time too.

I know it won’t be easy but I tend to do my best work when I’m out of my comfort zone. This is a space I have passion for and feel I can add something to so there’s only one thing left to do, get to work, and put together the news media equivalent of what we just created for sports media professionals last week in Los Angeles. That may be a tall order but if anyone is ready to meet the challenge head on, yours truly is certainly up to the task.

Thanks again for a spectacular time in Los Angeles. Onward and upward we go!

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