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2020 BSM Summit – Day 1

“A recap of what’s been taking place at the 2020 BSM Summit.”

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9:00-9:10 – Opening Remarks by Jason Barrett

Jason Barrett welcomes the attendees to the 2020 BSM Summit and introduces the first panel featuring Mike Thomas, Spike Eskin, Mitch Rosen and Scott Masteller.

9:10-9:50 – 5 on 5 presented by Core Image Studio

  • Mitch Rosen-PD, 670 The Score Chicago/105.7 The Fan MKE
    Reaching Younger Audiences – Most younger people do not use AM radio, some cars don’t even come with AM radio anymore. The challenge is getting the younger person to our content, once they get there, we’re confident they’ll like it, but we need to find different ways to bring people in.

    The Value of Team Partnerships – Play-by-play partnerships with teams are absolutely important. Teams value sports radio especially in Chicago. Team executives listen to sports radio, they listen when their players and coaches are on. Having play-by-play on radio is vital for sales and marketing. There are also partnerships such as DePaul University that are more of a revenue deal where we put in the contract the games won’t air before 6pm.

  • Mike Thomas-Market Manager-ESPN 1000 Chicago
    Reaching Younger Audiences: Utilize Twitch and YouTube, younger people spend hours and hours online, we need to have our content accessible to where they are.

    The Value of Guests – Guests can be crutches for shows, fans tune in to hear the hosts. The connection listeners have to shows is through their hosts. But the importance of a guest can also depend on the show. Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub were not originally sports hosts, so a sports guest can be helpful to their show. For Waddle and Silvy on ESPN 1000, Waddle played in the NFL, he’s going to be better at breaking down the game and connecting with our audience than a guest will.

  • Spike Eskin-PD, WIP/WPHT Philadelphia
    The younger demographic has grown up in a world that creates content tailored to their wants. We can’t only think about how to deliver the content, we need to think does the traditional sports talk on our main stream actually appeal to them? The content itself has to be right because they’re used to being catered to.

    The Value of Guests – When a show discusses having a guest, I say why and what are we going to ask them. If it’s not easily answered then we’re not going to use the guest.

    Ratings vs. Total Audience Reach – Traditionally, radio used the web to point users back to the radio. The future of WIP, is our brand is Philadelphia sports, but we need to find as many audiences as we can and it’s okay to have separate audiences. Our content on Facebook can appeal to Facebook users, our content on Twitter will appeal to Twitter users and it doesn’t need to all point back to the radio. The future is being able to monetize them separately.

    The Value of Team Partnerships – We can have too much play-by-play. Every year I revisit as to if we should carry the NCAA Tournament. Unless there is a local team making a run in the Tournament, nobody in Philly is talking about. The Eagles and Phillies are always great to have on-air, but you can have too much play-by-play.

  • Scott Masteller-PD, WBAL Baltimore
    The Value of Guests – Less is more because attention spans have never been shorter. A great interview can be three or four minutes and then you react to it after. Why are people tuning in? They tune in to hear the host and their perspective. Talent must know how to conduct a good interview to keep the listener tuned in.

    Coaching Talent – You need to let the talent know you have their back. Unless you’ve been a host, it’s hard to grasp how difficult it is especially with requests from sales. The most important thing is being able to provide feedback. Let the talent have their way, respect the talent and when you do that, they’ll be more receptive to feedback.

    The Value of Team Partnerships – It has to be an ongoing conversation and it has to be that there are no big surprises. If there’s ever going to be a time we’re going to be critical of the team, we pick up the phone and let them know so they’re not blindsided. It’s important to maintain the relationship so the team doesn’t want to look for a partnership elsewhere. Play-by-play partnerships have to be relevant. You can have too much , you don’t want broadcasts to get lost in the shuffle, it needs to be relevant and something you can promote.
  • Moderator: Jason Barrett, President, Barrett Sports Media

9:50-10:25 – Sports Radio on the Infinite Dial

  • Larry Rosin-President, Co-Founder Edison Research

TSL – Time Spent Listening is falling.

For Americans’ 13+ AM/FM radio represents 44% of listening, all other platforms are 56%. Age 55+ represents 62% of the AM/FM listening share, age 35-54 represents 45% and age 13-34 is just 28%.

For people listening to sports radio, 65% of it is done on AM/FM radio, while 35% is on other platforms.

Rosin includes a graphic offering reasons why people change the radio station. 74% have said they want to find something different, 65% want to browse channels, 59% switch because a commercial started, 43% said they just like switching stations.

Z100 in New York has a 14-minute commercial block everyday at 10:03am. Edison Research played the full break for a younger demographic to see their reaction to the commercials. The listeners were clearly uncomfortable needing to sit through that many ads, some of them didn’t believe the break was legitimate, but they all said they would have started listening to content on another platform at various points.

Consumers understand there is now an escape from radio. If they’re getting bored listening to the radio they can go to podcasts or Spotify, they have other options.

Radio stations believe their job is to get commercials on the radio station, but Edison believes the job should be to get people to hear radio commercials, not just to play them. If commercial ratings were tracked, the mentality of radio stations would change. Having less commercials, but attracting more commercial listeners should be valued. Radio needs more engaging, relevant and local commercials.

10:40-11:20 – Inside The Game presented by Benztown Branding

  • Howie Deneroff – Executive VP/Producer Westwood One Sports
    Having announcers with radio backgrounds is important. Calling a game on TV is very different from radio and they need to know how detailed the calls have to be. It can’t just be ‘his foot was out of bounds,’ it has to be his left foot is out of bounds, on the left sideline at this specific yard line.

    What signals a great broadcast? A better game makes for a better broadcast. You can only make so much out of a terrible game. I beat myself up if we don’t get a note in that I wanted to, but we also can’t force it. I’m never satisfied, but if you don’t misidentify anything, if you don’t give out wrong information and you have fun, it’s a good broadcast.

  • Bob Wischusen – ESPN PXP Announcer & Voice of NY Jets
    You have to understand your audience, if I’m calling a Jets game in New York, most of the listeners are Jets fans. If I’m covering a Rams-Titans game on a Thursday night, the research for both teams is even and the excitement has to be the same for touchdown calls. If it’s a Jets’ broadcast, Jets fans don’t care about an interesting story from the third wide receiver on the opposition.

    Adjusting to television from radio, sometimes less is more, letting the crowd set the scene in a big moment can be important. On radio, you’re always talking and you can’t say the clock and score enough. If an announcer with a TV background goes to radio, they need to remember or be reminded to constantly give the clock and score, you can’t go 15-minutes of real time without updating the listeners.

    For TV it’s not a problem to have a three-person booth, but you can’t do it on radio. On television, the play-by-play announcer doesn’t have to talk as much so there is room for two analysts, on radio the analysts would need to agree to alternate. Radio is a play-by-play announcer’s world, TV is an analyst’s world.

    If a radio station that carries the Jets games calls me and asks me to go on one of their shows, I consider that part of the job even if they’re not the flagship.

  • Matt Nahigian – PD, 95.7 The Game, Entercom Co-Captain of SF
    A lot of people think we’re the Warriors station and don’t know anything else about us. So getting promos in for our shows during broadcasts is very important.

    When I got to 95.7 The Game, we had the Athletics on our station. I made a choice content-wise to talk more about the Giants on our shows. The A’s didn’t like that and left when the contract was up. We aired their games, we promoted their games, but just like I didn’t tell them who to sign and trade for, they couldn’t tell us what to talk about. Don’t let teams tell you what to talk about even if you have the rights to their games. It’s your station.

    Be honest, but don’t take personal shots at players or teams, and don’t just say something for the sake of saying it. With the Warriors, they were good for so long that it doesn’t make sense to start taking shots at them now that they’re the worst team in the league.

    It’s not worth having partnerships with players if they’re going to be late to interviews or not say anything interesting on-air.

  • Jason Dixon – Director of Sports Programming, SiriusXM
    I think there is a lot more to the A’s leaving radio than is shown. All 30 teams aren’t going to just decide there is no need for radio. Those partnerships are still important.

    We have different levels of promotion for games, if it’s a big game we’ll push it, especially day of because on SiriusXM there is so much content, people don’t choose what they’re going to listen to days in advance.
  • Moderator: Bruce Gilbert, SVP Sports Cumulus/Westwood One

11:20-12:00 – The Relevance of Radio

  • Brandon Tierney-Host of Tiki & Tierney on CBS Sports Radio, TV contributor on CBS Sports Network, Discovery, The BIG 3, St. John’s Basketball
    Radio is oxygen to me. It’s a gripping medium if it’s done right and properly.

    You have to identify what will make you happy. I enjoyed the unknown, the unpredictability of working in radio and not knowing what was next. If you’re afraid of failure, you’re going to get crushed in this business because it’s incredibly competitive. Be prepared for some bumps and see how resilient you are.

    I didn’t have an agent until after I left Detroit. It’s beneficial to learn the mechanics of the industry. If you can avoid having an agent you first few years, it helps to learn the business. But talking about money is an uncomfortable position, and once that happens it’s a good idea to get an agent.

  • Bomani Jones-ESPN High Noon, Right Time w/ Bomani Jones
    The relationship with your audience on radio is different than anywhere else. The connection you have can’t be replicated.

    There are a lot of narrow mediums, if you love radio than do it. If you like people and enjoy doing this then give it a run. You might not do it for 20 or 30 years, but there aren’t many jobs that you can have for 20 or 30 years. You can be an accountant, so if you feel like dying for 30 years then go do that, but if you love radio then go for it.

    If you’re trying to be ambitious with a show, you need a program director that believes in you enough to let it happen. If you have a program director that will try to tinker and monitor it to shape it back to what they want, then you don’t have a chance even if you’re successful. A lot of program directors don’t give listeners enough credit in believing they can handle more than traditional sports talk.

    Figuring out how to monetize podcasts is very difficult because anybody can make a podcast. That’s not an insult, but literally anybody can record a podcast. Radio shows are limited, if you’re doing a radio show, someone has vouched for you and it gives you credibility.

    We also need to pay producers. If you want to have good people running these shows, you need to pay them because they have families, they have kids and they’ll have to leave for other jobs. For talent, at some point it becomes, how much more money do we really need? The convenience becomes the thing you value and a lot of time producers are just seen as line items.

  • Peter Rosenberg-Co-Host on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN NY, morning show co-host on Ebron in the Morning on Hot 97, Host of the Cheap Heat Podcast
    If you love radio then do it. Radio has been amazing to me, I’ve sat in rooms with people I have no business being near. Looking back to when I was in Ocean City, which was great, I had no idea what heights radio could have brought me to.

    I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I didn’t have positive relationships with both of my program directors and both relationships are different. My co-host at Hot 97, Ebron was a program director so he kind of programs our show. I mostly hear from our program director just saying good job, keep it up. With ESPN, Ryan Hurley worked on The Michael Kay Show, he’s involved in the show and we still meet daily. But both relationships are great.

    I have heard that radio is dying and people look at podcasting as the future because it’s a cool new medium where people talk about different topics and people can find different shows to listen to. You know what podcasting sounds like? Radio! Ultimately it comes back around to radio where someone vouches for you as being good and people can find the best shows in one place.
  • Paul Finebaum-Host of The Paul Finebaum Show on The SEC Network and ESPN Radio, TV contributor to College Gameday and Get Up
    Radio was an escape for me because I was a newspaper columnist that saw that business crashing and it gave me somewhere to go. We don’t have the best guests, we might not be the best show, but we have the best calls. It’s an insane asylum, but it’s my insane asylum and the bond with the audience is different than any other medium.

    I would tell people not to get into radio. Someone called me and thanked me recently for convincing them to go to law school instead of trying this business. I don’t think there has ever been a more difficult time to get in this business and be successful.

    You can’t do this for money. Radio is more about loving it than it is cashing a paycheck. At the local level it’s especially difficult because some local stations won’t even talk to an agent. You want to work with a program director that understands what the talent needs and wants. When a middle-level manager won’t stand up for talent, it kills the talent. You’ll lose them and they will become disgruntled.
  • Moderator: Jason Barrett, President, Barrett Sports Media

1:00-1:35 – BSM Awards Ceremony presented by Premiere Radio Networks

The Jeff Smulyan Award:

  • Jeff Smulyan-CEO Emmis Communications
    Every year that this award is presented in my honor and not my memory is a big thrill for me.

    The first 18 months of WFAN were very rocky. Every day at 5:00pm, Rick Cummings would walk into my office and say ‘it’s 5 o’clock, we lost another $29,000.’ The line in life of being a genius and an idiot is very fine. With WFAN, I quickly went from being an idiot to a genius. I’ve done other things where I went from a genius to an idiot.

    There isn’t anything in this business Dan Mason hasn’t done. He’s operated stations, he’s been a play-by-play announcer. In addition to all that he’s done in radio, he’s also served as a chairman to the Broadcasters Foundation of America which raises money for broadcasters in need. The mark he has left in not only sports radio, but all of American radio is indelible.

  • Dan Mason-Chairman VSiN

    I think of all of the risks Jeff Smulyan took with WFAN back in its early years, and how important the success of that brand has been to the growth of the sports radio format, it’s an honor to be presented with an award in Jeff’s name.

    When I first met with VSiN I quickly realized they were set with on-air talent. We discussed working at the executive-level and eventually moved to being a partner. Over the course of one dinner I went from being on-air to being a partner. VSiN lowers the demographic of sports. Younger people look for stats and numbers because they want to bet.

The Tony Bruno Award:

  • Tony Bruno-Host Tony Bruno Show
    I can’t believe this is the 50th anniversary of me starting in radio and some of the people in this room ran my board years ago. That’s what’s great about this business, seeing people work their way up in the industry. I’ve done AM radio, FM radio, satellite radio and now I’m embracing digital. Many people my age don’t know what Twitch is. If you create great content, whether it’s sports or news, people will find it.

    Terrestrial radio will never die, but people who don’t embrace digital are not dealing with the facts of life. I’m not dominating the digital world, but I’m having fun and that’s what it’s about.

    Last year it was Clay Travis, a former lawyer who won this award, this year it’s a former punter, who left his NFL career to make his mark in the radio industry.
  • Pat McAfee-Host CBS Sports Radio/Westwood One, DAZN, TV Contributor to ESPN and the WWE
    I started out with the Bob and Tom Show, a nationally syndicated show based out of Indianapolis and Bob Kevoian told me, terrestrial radio is free, nobody is ever going to be done with anything that’s free because people love free s**t.

    I asked Mike Francesa for recommendations to getting into this business. His only advice was ‘don’t listen to anybody.’ People will try to change you, but don’t listen to anybody. That’s our approach.
    I’m very thankful and lucky for the people on my show and Westwood One. If you’re a program director that has our show, you probably get complaints that we missed a break or didn’t end our show on time, but that’s 100% because we have no f*****g idea what we’re doing.

1:35-2:20 – A Conversation with Mike Francesa

  • Mike Francesa, WFAN/Radio.com
    I had the same day forever. I worked on the same station at the same time for almost 34 years. I was on-air from 1pm – 6:30pm everyday. I would leave the house around 10am and get back 8:30 at night. It was a very long day. I wanted to spend more time with kids, I thought it was important to downsize.

    I wasn’t expecting to do the FAN, I thought I was going to just to RADIO.COM, but they wanted me to stay and still be involved at the station and WFAN is my home. It’s enough to keep busy, but I’m used to being the epicenter of everything, so it’s a transition, but it’s time to let someone else carry the ball.

    Do you like the nickname Number 1? “I love it, I’m the most competitive guy alive.”

    My producers and board-ops got paid handsomely if we finished first, they didn’t get anything extra if we finished second. This is a very competitive city, radio is a very competitive business. Revenue and ratings. That’s it, that is radio. If you want to be paid in this business, it’s about ratings and revenue.

    Mark Chernoff would never talk to me about content, he would never suggest topics to talk about, but he would come in and say ‘lets put commercials this way, or do this in a specific quarter hour,’ he knows things about ratings that no one else knows. He’s a mad-scientist with ratings.

    I looked at ratings every week as soon as they came out. You can’t react week to week because one day can throw them off. People should not change their performance based on one week, but they should look at what they can do better. Use them to see if different things work, it shouldn’t change your content, but it can change how you use the clock.

    I was someone who, people wanted my take. People tuned in to hear what I thought. I didn’t like teasing segments, but that might not work for everyone.

    Every show came from Mike and the Mad Dog. It changed sports talk. Pardon The Interruption came from Mike and the Mad Dog, Mike and Mike came from Mike and the Mad Dog. Dog and I have both worked alone for 13 years now, but we changed the model of sports talk.

    To turn away the 55-65 age group in advertising is stupid. Advertisers are missing a golden audience. The ratings demo should have shifted. People under 30 can’t buy houses, they have a ton of debt, a big night is going out with their girlfriends to Wendy’s. Ask a Mercedes dealership how many cars they sold to someone between the age of 18-34, then ask them how many cars they sold to people between the ages 55-65. We checked my ratings, they went up three points when we included the listeners between 55 and 65. They’re still working, people don’t retire as early as they used to.

    When you get a lot of attention and paid really well, with that comes criticism. I’m outspoken and brash, I gave it, so I have to take it. I was covered like the teams, I would get the back page two or three times a week. I’m a click magnet, so people look for stories to write about, if they don’t have a story to write, they’ll make one up. You take the good with the bad.

    I prefer doing the show by myself, but I miss Dog because there were days we reached heights that I have never reached and no one has ever reached. Dog and I haven’t been together for a year and a half, but if he was here, we could captivate you for an hour. It’s a rare organic chemistry.
  • Moderator: Jason Barrett, President, Barrett Sports Media

2:20-2:55 – What Am I Buying? presented by Premiere Radio Networks

  • Pam Koss-Trax Marketing, Media Director
    One of the best things I’ve done in this job is build relationships. I have great relationships with WFAN, WEEI, The Sports Hub. I consider them my friends, not in that we’re going out to dinner, but we have an organic relationship with our partners. If I don’t get the feel of a relationship and partnership that’s a two-way street, then they’re not working with us anymore.

    ‘Nobody Beats Town Fair, Nobody,’ I don’t need a 30-second commercial, I just need it to be said for people to remember it. People recognize that brand from hearing it on sports radio especially when the host puts emphasis on the ‘no’ in nobody.

    78% of my media budget is sports radio. My boss recently questioned if we’re shifting too much to radio from TV, but radio always delivers.

    If you can’t buy sports in Boston then you’re not doing your job. They have one team in each sport, men and women listen to those games. Sports is thriving.

  • Lauren McHale-Katz Media, SVP Director of Sales
    There is not a one-size fits all as to what platforms advertisers should be focused on. If the foundation is terrestrial radio, you can look to expand into the digital space. Advertisers need to start with where you know you want to be and figure out what you’re not getting from that relationship.

    Non-original podcasts are still important for advertising. People are busy, they like specific hosts and digital gives them a different way to get that audio. In the audio space, every time something gets introduced, it adds to the audio consumption for the listener. Online isn’t cannibalizing terrestrial, it adds to the way people can find audio.

    I don’t care if there are 40 spots in a minute during a play-by-play broadcast, I just need to know the talent is going to read the ad organically. In Chicago, New York and Boston, those baseball play-by-play broadcasts bring in a lot of listeners when the season starts and it’s not because people happen to move into the area every year in late March.

  • Mark Lefkowitz-Furman Roth, Executive VP and Partner Media Director
    The more integrated we are with radio stations, the better. The close relationships that we have with those stations helps advertisers feel comfortable with the partnership they have with them.

    Commercials on terrestrial radio might reach more people, but the person that downloads that same show as a podcast and listens to the show when they’re not at work, they might have a better chance of hearing and consuming the commercial.

    Play-by-play broadcasts are over-commercialized. Carriage fees are exorbitant, but having too many ad spots cheapens and diminishes the value that we as advertisers are looking for.

    The older demographic is a big part of our advertising and sports is a great way to reach them.
  • Moderator: Don Martin, SVP Sports FOX Sports Radio/Premiere Radio Networks, VP and GM of AM 570 LA Sports

3:10-3:45 – 4 Ways To Fix Sports Radio’s Podcasting Problem

Steven Goldstein, CEO Amplifi Media
There are over 900,000 podcasts. The medium age of podcast listeners is 35, the medium age for AM/FM listening is 47, the medium age for a sports talk listener is 51.

Media involves reinvention, but radio stations don’t have a real podcast strategy. They check the box by turning their shows into a podcast and they move on. They barely promote them and who wants to listen to three straight hours of content anyway? Have a podcast strategy based on target, content, promotion and discoverability.

59% of AQH comes from P1 listeners, the average P1 listener listens to 47 minutes of a morning show, which means they hear 26% of a three hour show. The average P1 listener listens just two days a week to that show. There is a lot of room to get those P1 listeners with the show’s best content through a podcast if it’s marketed correctly.

1310 The Ticket in Dallas takes the best bits of the day and puts them into one podcast which gets 1 million listens per month. 1050 WTKA podcasts Michigan Insiders and gets 400,000 monthly listens because they market it correctly.

Smart speakers are thought of as being a great way to get radio back inside homes, but the reason radios ended up in the basement was because the listener didn’t need radio, they had other options and they still do. Only 4% of homes listen to AM/FM on smart speakers. Alexa will soon be in cars, and consumers will be able to easily ask for whatever they want to hear without relying on terrestrial radio.

3:45-4:20 – Bet On It

  • Patrick Keane-CEO Action Network
    Education is just as important as entertainment for sports betting because there are a lot of consumers that don’t fully understand how to bet.

    There’s probably 12 to 15 million people that bet $50 per week right now. Betting has to be mobile, it has to be accessible, it has to be responsible and there is a massive market that will explode as more states legalize it. 87% of New Jersey’s sports betting is done online.

    Trust and authenticity is important, people see through it if we’re not authentic. We’ve done the analysis and used our tools, we’re not going to guarantee betting success, but we’ll let you make an informed decision.

    The most forward thinking leagues for sports betting have been the PGA and NBA. They recognize the shift to wagering is inevitable, whereas the NFL is taking baby steps. Challenger leagues like the XFL are going to and have moved very quickly, they’re the most forward thinking leagues.

  • Mike Dee-President of Sports Entercom
    I’ve seen the change in the last two years from where we started to where we are today. I think there will be a continued gradual expansion and embracing of sports betting content . If we look back, we’ll see opportunities that we missed two years ago and I suspect two years from now we can look back to today and do the same thing. We’re still in the early innings of this process and we’ll continue to modulate how much sports betting content we expose our core radio audience to, but we’ll supplement that with content on other avenues.

    Leagues are challenged with how to keep fans engaged over the course of an 82-game or 162-game season, but sports betting and FanDuel presents a way for them to do that. Consumers stay tuned in and engaged if they have a betting interest in the game.

    It’s not just about money lines and spreads, it’s about appealing to the fans. We’re the gateway for new sports betting customers, we offer a reservoir of sports fans who may not have bet since they filled out a football card years ago.

  • Joe Yanarella-GM/SVP of Sports Betting Bleacher Report
    Our demo is largely 21-34 and our way to connect with them is through culture and interest. Three things have changed the way we watch sports – television, fantasy and betting. It changes the way the average consumer sits down to watch a game.

    Our most liked social post this year was on the prop bet about when will an Astros player get hit by a pitch this year.

  • Mike Raffensperger-Chief Marketing Officer FanDuel
    Sports betting also offers great stories, the amount of data we have with how the line has moved and different prop bets creates content. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that did not exist two years ago.

    The commercial opportunity is there for sports radio because we have unique promotions that the hosts doing the reads are legitimately excited about and you can hear that on-air.

  • Moderator: Brian Noe, Host FOX Sports Radio

4:20-4:55 – The Barstool Way

  • Erika Nardini-CEO Barstool Sports
    We understand the internet, we’re very hungry and disruptive by nature. We now have 55 brands and more than 70 personalities, we’re good at finding talent on the internet and figuring out how to grow them. We understand Instagram and Twitter very well, we’re starting to understand TikTok and we use podcasts very well.

    When I got to Barstool in 2016, we didn’t really have a company, we were a regional blog with 12 employees. Dave Portnoy and I were able to build a company the way it should be built in 2016, which is primed for the internet.

    There are still a lot of people who root against us, but Dave built a relationship with the audience that was real. Social media companies didn’t walk up to us in 2016 and want to build partnerships, we just used what was available to us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

    We give everybody freedom, anyone that works at Barstool can end up on camera, everyone winds up in content. A lot of things suck and that’s okay, but that’s how you find things that work.

    Radio is a really powerful medium, people write off radio and it’s not fair and people wrote Barstool off in the same way. I want to be more like radio because I look at the podcast business and think the internet people are going to screw it up. In radio, you have listeners and people who care about what the hosts are going to say. I still listen to 98.5 and what they have to say about the Patriots.

    Kirk Minihane has fans that hang on every single thing Kirk has to say. I love Kirk, we have a great relationship. We’re very honest with brands that we’re looking to partner with, we have super loyal fans, hosts that are unafraid and will attack any topic, and a lot of times that translates to more listens and downloads. With Kirk, I had an activist that wrote me hundreds of emails, that were disturbing. I can only imagine the emails Kirk received. In the places Kirk came from, no one stood with Kirk, he was told he’s wrong.

    An ad-only business is dangerous because the advertiser controls what you can say. I didn’t want our personalities who are funny and creative to worry about what a suit is going to say. Talent comes first. If I ran a radio station I would create merchandise, I would make hosts stars through meetups and events. Take what the hosts really care about and let them connect with their fans through that.


    There is a ton that has to be figured out with the podcast business, but the biggest thing about a podcast is it’s a relationship between the hosts and a section of listeners. It was easy for our personalities to move from blogging to podcasting, because it was the same concept – have a topic to talk about.

    When Big Cat says he used betMGM, he drinks Bud Light or he lent PFT money with Cash App, our consumers use betMGM, drink But Light and download Cash App because he’s woven that ad into a story-line. The host listener relationship is really important.

    People who, need a script, have to ask what to say and be told what time to be do something are too rigid for Barstool. The people that I like are the people who are breaking through on their own. If you can stand out in front of millions and maybe billions of pieces of content online, that’s who want.

    When I got to Barstool I had a hard time finding women that wanted to work with us, but now we are 40% women, we have more women on radio and podcasting than anybody. Our management team is predominantly female. It ticks me off when people say Dave is misogynistic, because then I am the benefit of that misogyny.

Barrett Blogs

Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

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How many times have you heard this sentence uttered at conferences or in one of the trades; radio has to do a better job of telling its story. Sounds reasonable enough right? After all, your brands and companies stand a better chance of being more consumed and invested in the more that others know about them.

But what specifically about your brand’s story matters to those listening or spending money on it? Which outlets are you supposed to share that news with to grow your listenership and advertising? And who is telling the story? Is it someone who works for your company and has a motive to advance a professional agenda, or someone who’s independent and may point out a few holes in your strategy, execution, and results?

As professionals working in the media business, we’re supposed to be experts in the field of communications. But are we? We’re good at relaying news when it makes us look good or highlights a competitor coming up short. How do we respond though when the story isn’t told the we want it to? Better yet, how many times do sports/news talk brands relay information that isn’t tied to quarterly ratings, revenue or a new contract being signed? We like to celebrate the numbers that matter to us and our teams, but we don’t spend much time thinking about if those numbers matter to the right groups – the audience and the advertisers.

Having covered the sports and news media business for the past seven years, and published nearly eighteen thousand pieces of content, you’d be stunned if you saw how many nuggets of information get sent to us from industry folks looking for publicity vs. having to chase people down for details or read things on social media or listen to or watch shows to promote relevant material. Spoiler alert, most of what we produce comes from digging. There are a handful of outlets and PR folks who are great, and five or six PD’s who do an excellent job consistently promoting news or cool things associated with their brands and people. Some talent are good too at sharing content or tips that our website may have an interest in.

Whether I give the green light to publish the material or not, I appreciate that folks look for ways to keep their brands and shows on everyone’s radar. Brand leaders and marketing directors should be battling daily in my opinion for recognition anywhere and everywhere it’s available. If nobody is talking about your brand then you have to give them a reason to.

I’m writing this column today because I just spent a day in New York City at the Disney Upfront, which was attended by a few thousand advertising professionals. Though I’d have preferred a greater focus on ESPN than what was offered, I understand that a company the size of Disney with so many rich content offerings is going to have to condense things or they’d literally need a full week of Upfronts to cover it all. They’re also trying to reach buyers and advertising professionals who have interests in more than just sports.

What stood out to me while I was in attendance was how much detail went into putting on a show to inform, entertain, and engage advertising professionals. Disney understands the value of telling its story to the right crowd, and they rolled out the heavy hitters for it. There was a strong mix of stars, executives, promotion of upcoming shows, breaking news about network deals, access to the people responsible for bringing advertising to life, and of course, free drinks. It was easy for everyone in the room to gain an understanding of the company’s culture, vision, success, and plans to capture more market share.

As I sat in my seat, I wondered ‘why doesn’t radio do this on a local level‘? I’m not talking about entertaining clients in a suite, having a business dinner for a small group of clients or inviting business owners and agency reps to the office for a rollout of forthcoming plans. I’m talking about creating an annual event that showcases the power of a cluster, the stars who are connected to the company’s various brands, unveiling new shows, promotions and deals, and using the event as a driver to attract more business.

Too often I see our industry rely on things that have worked in the past. We assume that if it worked before there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for the client. Sometimes that’s even true. Maybe the advertiser likes to keep things simple and communicate by phone, email or in-person lunch meetings. Maybe a creative powerpoint presentation is all you need to get them to say yes. If it’s working and you feel that’s the best way forward to close business, continue with that approach. There’s more than one way to reach the finish line.

But I believe that most people like being exposed to fresh ideas, and given a peak behind the curtain. The word ‘new’ excites people. Why do you think Apple introduces a new iPhone each year or two. We lose sight sometimes of how important our brands and people are to those not inside the walls of our offices. We forget that whether a client spends ten thousand or ten million dollars per year with our company, they still like to be entertained. When you allow business people to feel the excitement associated with your brand’s upcoming events, see the presentations on a screen, and hear from and interact with the stars involved in it, you make them feel more special. I think you stand a better chance of closing deals and building stronger relationships that way.

Given that many local clusters have relationships with hotels, theaters, teams, restaurants, etc. there’s no reason you can’t find a central location, and put together an advertiser appreciation day that makes partners feel valued. You don’t have to rent out Pier 36 like Disney or secure the field at a baseball stadium to make a strong impression. We show listeners they’re valued regularly by giving away tickets, cash, fan appreciation parties, etc. and guess what, it works! Yes there are expenses involved putting on events, and no manager wants to hear about spending money without feeling confident they’ll generate a return on investment. That said, taking calculated risks is essential to growing a business. Every day that goes by where you operate with a ‘relying on the past’ mindset, and refuse to invest in growth opportunities, is one that leaves open the door for others to make sure your future is less promising.

There are likely a few examples of groups doing a smaller scaled version of what I’m suggesting. If you’re doing this already, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up through email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. By and large though, I don’t see a lot of must-see, must-discuss events like this created that lead to a surplus of press, increased relationships, and most importantly, increased sales. Yet it can be done. Judging from some of the feedback I received yesterday talking to people in the room, it makes an impression, and it matters.

I don’t claim to know how many ad agency executives and buyers returned to the office from the Disney Upfront and reached out to sign new advertising deals with the company. What I am confident in is that Disney wouldn’t invest resources in creating this event nor would other national groups like NBC, FOX, CBS, WarnerMedia, etc. if they didn’t feel it was beneficial to their business. Rather than relying on ratings and revenue stories that serve our own interests, maybe we’d help ourselves more by allowing our partners and potential clients to experience what makes our brands special. It works with our listeners, and can work with advertisers too.

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Takeaways From The NAB Show and Six Days in Las Vegas

“I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm for the NAB Show was elevated this year.”

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Six days on the road can sometimes be exhausting. Six days in Las Vegas, and it’s guaranteed. That was my world last week, as I along with more than fifty thousand people headed to sin city to take in the 2022 NAB Show.

The event didn’t draw as many as it had in the past, but after two years of inactivity due to the pandemic, it was good to be back. Judging from some of the vendors I talked to, the sessions I attended, and the feedback I received from folks I met with, though far from perfect, it was a solid return for an important event. Seeing people interact, celebrate others, and talk about ways to improve the business was a positive reminder of the world being closer to the normal of 2019 than the normal of 2020-2021. The only negative from the week, the consistent failure of Uber to appear in the right place at the right time. But that had zero to do with the NAB.

It feels like whenever I attend industry conferences, there are two different type of reviews that follow. Some writers attend the show and see the glass half full. Others see the glass half empty. I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm was elevated this year. Maybe it was because BSM was a media partner or maybe it was due to the show not happening for years and just being happy to be among friends, peers, and clients and operate like normal. Either way, my glass was definitely half full.

For those who see events this way, it’s likely they’ll remember the numerous opportunities they had to create and reestablish relationships. They’ll also recall the access to different speakers, sessions, products, and the excellent research shared with those in attendance. The great work done by the BFOA to recognize industry difference makers during their Wednesday breakfast was another positive experience, as was the Sunday night industry gathering at The Mayfair Supper Club.

Included in the conference were sessions with a number of industry leaders. Radio CEO’s took the stage to point out the industry’s wins and growth, credit their employees, and call out audio competitors, big tech, and advertisers for not spending more with the industry. When David Field, Bob Pittman, Ginny Morris and Caroline Beasley speak, people listen. Though their companies operate differently, hearing them share their views on the state of the business is important. I always learn something new when they address the room.

But though a lot of ground gets covered during these interviews, there are a few issues that don’t get talked about enough. For instance, ineffective measurement remains a big problem for the radio business. Things like this shouldn’t happen, but they do. NBC and WarnerMedia took bold steps to address problems with TV measurement. Does radio have the courage to take a similar risk? That’s an area I’d like to see addressed more by higher ups.

I can’t help but wonder how much money we lose from this issue. Companies spend millions for a ratings service that delivers subpar results, and the accountability that follows is often maddening. Given the data we have access to digitally, it’s stunning that radio’s report card for over the air listening is determined by outdated technology. And if we’re going to tell folks that wearables are the missing ingredient for addressing this problem, don’t be shocked if the press that follows is largely negative. The industry and its advertising partners deserve better. So too do the reps at Nielsen who have to absorb the hits, and make the most of a tough situation.

Speaking of advertising, this is another one of those critical areas that deserves another point of view. Case in point, I talked to a few ad agency professionals at the show. Similar to what I’ve heard before, they’re tired of hearing radio leaders blame them for the industry’s present position. This has been a hot button topic with executives for years. I often wonder, do we help or hurt ourselves by publicly calling out advertisers and ad agencies? How would you feel if you ran an agency which spent millions on the industry and were told ‘you don’t do enough’? I’m a champion of radio/audio, and am bullish on spoken word’s ability to deliver results for clients, but having attended these shows for nearly seven years, it might be time for a new approach and message. Or maybe it’s time to put one of our CEO’s with one of theirs and have a bigger discussion. Just a thought.

Of the sessions that I attended, I thought Erica Farber’s ‘What Business Are You In?’ was excellent. I especially liked Taja Graham’s presentation on ‘Sharing Your Truth’. I also appreciated Eric Bischoff’s tips on ways to monetize podcasts, and am curious to see how Amazon’s AMP develops moving forward. My favorite session at the show though was “A GPS Session For Your Station’s Car Radio Strategy” led by Fred Jacobs. The insight shared by Joe D’Angelo of Xperi and Steve Newberry & Suzy Schultz of Quu was outstanding. Keeping the car companies on our side is vital to our survival, and how we position ourselves on the dashboard can’t be ignored. Other tech companies and audio operators take it seriously. We must too.

Sessions aside, it was great to check out the VSiN and Blue Wire studios, connect with a bunch of CEO’s, GM’s and Market Manager’s, and visit with Kevin Jones, Joe Fortenbaugh, Jeremiah Crowe, Jon Goulet, Bill Adee, Q Myers, Mike Golic Jr. and Stormy Buonantony. The NFL’s setup for the Draft, and the light show presented at the Bellagio was without a doubt spectacular, plus Stephanie had a chance to say hello to Raiders owner Mark Davis who was inside the back room of a Westgate restaurant where we were having a business lunch meeting. The personal tour we received at the Wynn showed off some of the best suites I’ve seen in Las Vegas, and I was finally able to witness Circa’s Stadium Swim in person, and meet owner Derek Stevens (heck of a suit game). What an outstanding hotel and casino.

Altogether, it was a productive trip. As someone who knows all about building and executing a conference, I appreciate the work that goes into pulling it off. This event is massive, and I have no idea how the NAB makes it happen so flawlessly. This was the first time my head of sales, Stephanie Eads, got to attend the show. She loved it. Our only negative, going back and forth between convention halls can get exhausting. Wisely, Stephanie and Guaranty Media CEO Flynn Foster took advantage of the underground Tesla ride to move from the North hall to the West hall. I wasn’t as bright. If that’s the worst part of the experience though, that’s pretty solid. I look forward to returning in 2023, and attending the NAB’s NYC show this fall.

Additional:

You’ve likely seen posts from BSM/BNM on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn promoting a number of open positions. I’m adding crew to help us pump out more content, and that means we need more editors, news writers, features reporter’s and columnists. If you’re currently involved or previously worked in the industry and love to write about it, send a resume and few writing samples by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

With that said, I’m excited to announce the addition of Ryan Brown as a weekly columnist for BSM. Ryan is part of ‘The Next Round’ in Birmingham, Alabama, which previously broadcast on WJOX as JOX Roundtable. The show left the terrestrial world in June 2021 to operate as its own entity. Ryan’s knowledge and opinions should provide a boost to the site, and I’m looking forward to featuring his columns every Tuesday. Keep an eye out for it tomorrow, and if you want to check out the guest piece he previously wrote for us, click here.

Demetri Ravanos and I have talked to a lot of people over the past month. More additions will be revealed soon. As always, thanks for the continued support of BSM and BNM.

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Six New Contributors Join Barrett Media

“These latest additions will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.”

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Building a brand starts with a vision. Once that vision is defined, you identify the people who fit what you’re creating, lay out the game plan, and turn them loose to execute. If the product you’re creating is original, fills a gap in the marketplace, and the work turned in by your team is consistently excellent and promoted in the right locations, more times than not you’ll build an audience.

As you grow, the focus turns to studying what your audience wants, needs, and expects from your brand. Certain things you expect to be big turn out small, and the things you saw limited upside in create opportunities you never saw coming. It’s critical to be open minded and ready to pivot while also examining where and when people consume your product, which pieces of content do and don’t matter, and then use that information to direct your team to give folks more of what they value and less of what they don’t. Team members should want that feedback too. It tells them what is and isn’t worth spending their time on.

As I lay all of that out it may sound like I’m talking about a radio station or television operation. These are the things programmers do frequently to make sure the talent, shows, and brand is satisfying the expectations of an audience. But what I’m actually referring to is the brand you’ve made a choice to click on to read this column, Barrett Media.

I’ve mentioned many times on this website how I started this operation by myself, and didn’t expect to have a team of writers involved in it. I was focused on consulting sports stations, sharing my programming views on this website, and as I cranked out content consistently, I discovered others loved the business like I did and had a desire to share their insights too. Rather than sticking to my original plan, I pivoted and increased our content offerings. In return, the audience grew, clients grew, and it’s led this brand to grow beyond my expectations. Now we cover sports AND news media, we run an annual conference, feature a membership program, create podcasts, deliver a daily 8@8 and three times per week BNM Rundown newsletter, and work with various brands and companies across the broadcasting industry. I’m extremely fortunate to be in this position and don’t take it for granted.

But with growth comes change. We’ve been blessed to have a lot of talented people contribute to this site over the years, and as they produce quality work, and others across the industry recognize it, they earn interest for their services. That then leads to some having to sign off for bigger opportunities. I see that as a great positive for the brand. Would it be nice to have more consistency and keep a crew together for years? Of course. I know it’d make Demetri’s life a lot easier. If we’re losing people for the right reasons though, and they’re landing opportunities that help them advance their careers, I’m going to be happy for their success, and trust that we’ll find others to keep us moving forward. The success of our team helps make what we do more attractive to others because it shows that if you do good consistent work here, you can put yourself in a position to attract attention.

Over the past two months, I have challenged Demetri Ravanos to invest more time talking to people about writing for us. Expanding our Barrett News Media roster is a priority. So too is adding quality people to help us improve Barrett Sports Media. BSM has had just under seven years to earn trust with readers. BNM has had less than two. We’ve put out ads on our website and newsletters, social posts, an ad on Indeed, and we’ve reached out directly to people who we’ve felt may be able to add something interesting to our brand. Most of my time is spent listening to stations and talking with clients, but my eyes are always roaming looking for content, and my mind is always thinking about what we can create next to make an impact.

I don’t judge our brand’s success based on clicks, shares, breaking news before other outlets or showing up in the top three listings on Google. I care more effort accuracy, timeliness, passion, consistency, storytelling, insight, and being fair and non-agenda driven. We’ve found our niche being able to tell stories about broadcasting professionals, relaying news, and offering expert knowledge to serve those involved in the broadcasting industry. If we continue to excel doing those things consistently, I’m confident our audience will reward us by reading and sharing more of our content. It’s why we never stop recruiting to keep things fresh.

Having said that, I am excited today to reveal six new additions to the Barrett Media staff. Peter Schwartz is a name and voice many in New York sports radio circles are familiar with. Peter has spent three decades working with various outlets and I’m thrilled to have him writing weekly feature stories for us. Brady Farkas is a talented host and former programmer who now works for WDEV in Burlington, VT. Karl Schoening is a play by play broadcaster who has worked in San Antonio sports radio and has had the added benefit of learning the industry from his talented father Bill who calls Spurs games. Each of them will produce bi-weekly feature stories for the brand. Jason Ence is in Louisville and has written about sports betting for Twin Spires while also working for ESPN 680. He’ll be writing sports betting content for us on a weekly basis. Jasper Jones will help us by adding news stories on Friday’s. He’s presently in Philadelphia learning the business working for Audacy. Last but not least, veteran author, Brewers writer, and former radio professional Jim Cryns comes on board to help us with features on news media professionals.

These six additions make us stronger, and I’m excited to have them join the team to help us add more quality content to the website. That said, we’re not done yet. Demetri and I are still talking with others and I expect to make a few more additions in the weeks ahead. As I said earlier, we want to improve the news media side of our operation and continue adding people to help us make a bigger dent in the sports media space. Broadcast companies invest in us to help them, and I believe it’s important to invest back.

If you’ve programmed, hosted a top rated show, worked in measurement, led a cluster as a GM, sold advertising, represented talent or have worked in digital and feel you have knowledge to share, reach out. I can’t promise we’ll have room but we’re always willing to listen. I’m not worried about whether or not you’ve written for professional publications. Passion, experience and unique insights matter much more than a resume or journalism degree.

I appreciate everyone who takes time to read our content, like and share it on social, and all involved with this brand who help bring it to life each day. The latest additions of Schwartz, Farkas, Schoening, Ence, Jones and Cryns will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.

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