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When Sports Goes Dark, Sports Radio Must Bring The Light

“What do you do when sports goes dark? The same thing you’ve always done, inform and entertain.”

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If you were at the 2020 BSM Summit, you received a program when checking in. In it included an ad for the upcoming launch of the BSM Member Directory. We planned to launch a paid section on this website on Monday March 16th where broadcasters and aspiring professionals could create profiles and post audio, video, resumes, and contact information for potential employers to discover them with the ultimate goal being to find work. Members would also be notified of job opportunities in the sports media industry.

But sometimes in life, the best of plans have to be delayed. The nation’s focus right now is on a serious issue, battling the corona virus, and given how important it is, we’ve decided to delay the launch of our member section until a later time. When things start to return to normal, we’ll fill you in on our plans to go live. If you have questions about the member directory, feel free to email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

As human beings, our first priority is to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy. Once that’s secure, we turn our focus towards our work. In the sports media industry, we’re blessed to go to a location and interact with groups of people each day who share an interest in talking about subjects that bring joy to many of our lives. The job is fun, and provides unmatched access to special people, teams, and events, which makes taking care of business matters feel like less of a chore.

Our audience is similar. They also work with other people at various places, and they enjoy the world of sports just like us, though their profession may be less glamorous. We’re their in-car and at-work audio companion, the voices they turn to for information, entertainment, and an escape from real life stress and day to day issues.

But when the government declares a national emergency, and lives stand a chance of being impacted, the thought of watching a game or listening to a host debate with a caller over how much money an NFL free agent should be paid feels far less important. Add the removal of all live sporting events, and you can see why listeners may choose to tune out, and those working in the industry may not want to go to work.

The question we’re all trying to answer right now is ‘how do we talk about sports when sports don’t exist?’ We’re dealing with something that no host, producer, program director or executive has a playbook for. You may have ideas of how to navigate the situation, but you don’t know if it will or won’t work. You’re simply trying to make the best of an impossible situation.

Some don’t think that sports radio stations should continue broadcasting at this time. I strongly disagree. Are sports radio brands supposed to shut down each time a crisis impacts our country? Are music stations supposed to do the same? Where do we draw the line?

If this situation spirals out of control, we may have to take that step, but based on the current events, I don’t see any reason why a sports station should stop informing and entertaining listeners. In fact, with no games on TV and people searching for ways to stay entertained and distracted, you can make a case that creating live content is even more necessary.

I asked a number of broadcasters over the past few days to share how they were approaching their shows during this complex time period. There were some cool ideas presented, and a few internal notes that I thought hit a lot of the right notes. I’m going to share some of the ideas I received, as well as pass along a few of my own.

As you look them over, please remember that there’s more to think about than just how to fill 3-4 hours of daily content. It’s vital for all of us to over deliver for our listeners, clients, and sales teams. This situation impacts much more than just folks in programming, so everything we can do to support each other makes a difference.

THE CONTENT

With the entire nation focused on the corona virus and how it could impact their life, you can’t afford to ignore it on your show. Doing so is a massive mistake. The key is finding ways to connect it to your on-air topics. Whether it’s examining how leagues are handling it, how TV networks have operated without live coverage, what the future of each sport’s schedule will look like once this is behind us, which local people, businesses, roadways in your area have been affected, etc., you need to stay informed and relay vital information to your audience.

The second thing to remember is something I’ve said numerous times, people like to hear people talk with and about other people. Whether you’re interacting with callers, conducting interviews, playing soundbites from other shows/guests and offering your opinion on what was said, people like to listen to conversations. Book some notable guests, gather sound that advances discussions, and involve the audience on topics that strike a chord. If you do, people will continue listening.

Aside from the airwaves, what’s your social media strategy? If people spend 30-45 minutes per day with your show, but over 2 hours each day on social media, where do you stand a better chance of reaching them? Most of the world flocks daily to a social media feed, so it’s wise to take over your station’s social media accounts and conduct live chats thru Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram Live, etc.. If people are forced soon to stay home, they’ll be looking for positive distractions. Seeing your face appear on their timeline, and having a chance to chat with you will help.

Looking around the country, 95.7 The Game in San Francisco has gone into the vault to bring back Golden State Warriors games from 2015-2018. With the Tennessee Titans making moves, 102.5 The Game‘s Jared & The GM have gone full throttle in Nashville on Titans talk. There’s never a bad time to talk football.

Staying in Tennessee, 92.9 ESPN in Memphis is digging into their past by bringing back Horn Lake vs. Harvard trivia. Afternoon host Gary Parrish hails from Horn Lake, midday host Geoff Calkins from Harvard. The station’s midday show with Jason Smith and John Martin also took the corona virus issue and built a creative segment around the question ‘who would you quarantine yourself with?’

SiriusXM has launched a channel (121) that offers health tips and updates on the latest news involving the corona virus. Some sports stations have also added corona virus news updates or taken reports from national news outlets. All make sense at this point in time.

Pat McAfee used comedy to help his listeners take their minds off of the chaos created by the virus. His team produced two great bits, a video showing how to connect with one another, and a live call in from COVID-19. Both took a serious issue and added some levity to it.

I saw a number of personalities use social media to get a better read on what listeners want to hear. Steak Shapiro at 680 The Fan in Atlanta, Mark Willard at KNBR in San Francisco, Chris Carlin at 98.7 ESPN in New York, and Phil Mackey at SKOR North in Minneapolis all posted questions or polls to get a better read on what their listener’s wanted to hear. Clay Travis has also been active on social media relaying information, articles, and his personal opinions on how the issue is being handled. Sean Salisbury shared how he’s approaching the issue as well.

Sports Radio 1310/96.7 The Ticket and ESPN 103.3 in Dallas have kept their focus on Dallas Cowboys free agency, the impact the corona virus is having on the local community, and everyday conversations. 103.3 is also in the process of launching the ‘Sports Distraction Bracket‘ which will feature four regions “Books, Movies, Video Games, and Netflix/Streaming’. That should make for fun on-air chatter.

Speaking of brackets, John Michaels created the Atlanta sports radio bracket. It’s already produced a ton of reaction. That should give local hosts extra material to work with. Some smaller market stations have also built unique brackets around high school sports, and favorite local landmarks and shops.

ESPN Milwaukee PD Brad Lane and Good Karma Brands VP of Content Evan Cohen did a nice job updating their imaging, and adding updates on how the corona virus is impacting everything. The station’s shows have also been encouraged to talk about issues that matter to local people ranging from the Packers/Bucks, social distancing, working remotely, TV shows being watching due to no sports, future changes to the sports calendar, etc..

In Tampa, WDAE has built on-air content around subjects such as this day in history, where were you when this moment happened, favorite sports movies and TV shows, and local feel good stories. Mike Gill and the folks at 97.3 ESPN used some of their time time to talk up local bars, restaurants, and solicit craft beer recommendations.

I have a few ideas I’ll pass along as well. For starters, maybe you take a day or two to mix up your host combinations or connect one of your shows with another popular program broadcasting in a different city. It could spark some additional interest. So too would utilizing former hosts who are no longer on the air. If you can do it remotely, even better.

Depending on local relationships and availability, maybe you work with your local team(s) to explore having a player, coach or executive do an hour or full show on your airwaves or social media channels. If you can involve the audience that’d make it even more exciting for your listeners.

If you really want to create buzz, and send a message of unity while generating curiosity and chatter, consider joining forces with your local competitor or rival network to feature talent on each outlets airwaves. Imagine if you were in Dallas and heard hosts from The Ticket and The Fan appearing on each other’s shows or if Colin Cowherd and Dan Le Batard did that at ESPN Radio and FOX Sports Radio. Mike Francesa and Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo did it before during Mike’s first retirement tour. Why not do something unique to bring people to the dial?

Because stations and individuals represent different companies it probably won’t happen, but sometimes it pays to do big things. Companies don’t mind when hosts working at station’s under their control appear on each other’s shows, but having the rock station’s morning host on the sports radio host’s morning show doesn’t change audience behavior the way two sports radio rivals coming together would.

By the way, do you think some of these competitors aren’t friends away from the airwaves? Ask them if they’d be up for it. I’m sure many would welcome the opportunity. It’d be cool and likely generate press and tune ins. There will be plenty of other days left to compete.

I mentioned the other day on social media that this is a time where you find out who has the ability to entertain when nightly results and lit phone lines aren’t available. Carrington Harrison of 610 Sports in Kansas City reached out and asked ‘How can you be worried about what to talk about when the answer is anything you want?‘ He’s spot on. If you’re a content creator, this is your chance to take a blank canvas and paint a masterpiece. Welcome the challenge rather than run from it.

THE LISTENER

One mistake that many make is looking at content thru their own lens as opposed to how it matters to the audience. A producer and host can create a topic, bit, book an interview or share a personal story, but is it relevant and important to those listening? It’s like a band playing a concert and featuring the songs they enjoy but not the ones their fans paid to hear.

Since many sports radio stations target the 32-40 year old male, I’m going to build a custom example for you. I want you to picture a 40 year old male sports fan, we’ll call him Jim. Jim is a P1 sports radio listener who watches his local favorite team’s games at night and on the weekend, has a wife, 2 kids, a nice house, good job, and commutes to and from work 40-45 minutes in each direction.

Despite his family’s concerns, and the uncertainty surrounding the corona virus, Jim continues driving to work. He could work remotely, but he likes his routine, and doesn’t want to stop living a normal life, especially since the virus hasn’t affected anyone or anything close to him.

When news involving the corona virus breaks during the day, Jim’s wife texts him to make sure he’s aware. He talks with co-workers about things they’re hearing, checks his social media accounts often (they’re flooded with a mixture of memes, posts and news articles related to the corona virus), and the one thing (sports) that used to provide a daily distraction, is no longer an option since the majority of leagues have stopped playing.

But Jim is still in his car each morning and afternoon, and the sports station he loves is still first in his presets. He wants to listen, but the stress of this situation has his mind in a million places. How are you convincing Jim to continue spending two segments per trip with you?

Remember, he wants to be distracted from his daily stress, but the corona virus has affected everything around him. Does he want to hear you talk about a game from years ago that has no current relevance? Will he listen to a discussion about the Netflix documentary you watched while trying to fill the gap created by a lack of sports? Is he interested in learning where the best place locally is to get a great hamburger or taco?

Maybe he’ll listen to all of that, some of it, or none of it. We really don’t know. People who tune into sports radio shows come for the hosts, conversations, and mental break from serious issues, but when critical matters warrant their attention, behavior changes.

If you stand in Jim’s shoes, you’d see that although he’d rather the corona virus not be a topic of conversation, he knows he has to stay updated on what’s happening. Will he and his family be OK? If they catch the virus, where do they go and what do they do? When can they expect life to return to normal? How long until sports are back? Are the on-air hosts and listeners going thru similar things? If so, how are they handling it? What is he supposed to do for entertainment in the meantime?

Jim’s first instinct is to listen to your show, but real life is tapping him on the shoulder telling him to turn elsewhere. To keep him invested, you’re going to have to connect by talking about the things that matter most to him. If you address that first, he’ll stick around for the rest. If not, he’s likely to change the dial.

THE RATINGS IMPACT

If you’re a market manager, corporate executive, CEO or owner, and haven’t braced yourself for a potential dip in the ratings with your sports station(s), you may want to prepare yourself for it. If you don’t lose any audience during this uncertain point in time, congratulations. That’s a big win. If you do though, get over it. March isn’t usually a big ratings month for the format as it is, and dealing with a global pandemic is bigger than a ratings book.

If people work remotely more, it could result in less listening. Some could choose to not listen at all. Others will put on news/talk or news/television because they want to stay informed. The rest will invest time in reading articles, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos or TV, and engaging with others on social media. It’s why having a strong social strategy is just as critical as having a sound radio plan. People will still be on their phones following your talent and brands. This gives us an opportunity to continue reaching them.

Sports hosts will be challenged to stay up to date on what’s happening with this virus. They may not be excited by news content, but this issue is bigger than anything else. What’s vital is to make sure they’re fully informed and not relaying misinformation that can cause unnecessary stress. They’ll likely have to introduce topics that have a connection to the issue, and though it may not be as fun as other things we talk about, when our listener’s lives are affected, it’s our job to make sure we’re there for them.

THE REVENUE EFFECT

These are unfamiliar times for our stations, staffs, and partners. If people don’t leave their homes and continue spending money on products, it could result in advertisers reducing their marketing budgets. Maybe it’s only for a few weeks or a month or two, but if the economy weakens, our brands could be impacted.

What you hope isn’t forgotten by your partners is the importance of a long term strategy. The strength of the relationship between the radio station and advertiser will also come into play. Both sides will experience peaks and valleys during the course of the partnership, so helping each other in times of need is important. We’re also going to get past this crisis at some point, and when we do, advertisers are going to need media partners to help them regain customers, and make up for lost earnings.

One thing to keep in mind, if your station has the rights to an NBA or NHL team or the NCAA tournament, you’ve regained commercial time on your airwaves due to games being cancelled. Though you may not like to do it, if giving up some of that regained inventory helps keep an important partner or two on the air thru this situation, it’s worth doing so to retain business.

I want to pass along a great letter I saw on social media from Townsquare Tuscaloosa Market Manager David DuBose. I thought David hit all the right notes in reaching out to station advertisers. If you run a cluster and haven’t done this already in your market, I’d encourage you to do so.

CLOSING:

These are unfamiliar times for all of us. The world of sports has shut down, concerts, schools, bars and restaurants are following suit, and the routines we enjoy are being altered by something beyond our control. It’s scary, stressful, and the lack of knowing what lies ahead has many people on edge.

The best thing we can do at this time is be there for our listeners. In doing so, it helps us too. Sports may be less of an option on TV, people may listen less in a car or office, and the content we’re creating may not be up to our usual standards, but sometimes just being available is enough to help people get thru a difficult time. Given what we’re all going thru, that matters more now than ever.

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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Takeaways From The NAB Show and Six Days in Las Vegas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional:

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

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

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

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Six New Contributors Join Barrett Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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