For the past 3 years, the BSM Summit has served as our company’s Super Bowl. The 6 months leading up to it are the most intense days and weeks of my year, but once the show is over, it’s back to normal day to day business until the fall.
But not this year.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put immense pressure on the media industry and it’s had an impact on BSM too. I’ve had to postpone market visits to help clients, suspend a relationship or two, and take on a heavier role publishing, podcasting, and executing our social media in order to keep industry readers informed. Maintaining brand relevance during a chaotic time is critically important, so although it’s increased my workload and made writing a little harder, it’s what you have to do to survive when operating an independent business.
When a crisis like the one we’ve lived thru occurs, you can either absorb the punches and keep moving forward or give in to the pain and wave the white flag. I’m not going to tell you it’s been easy because it hasn’t been, but no way was I going to let almost 5 years of hard work go up in smoke.
As soon as I saw what was starting to transpire, I got busy launching the ‘Managing The Crisis’ podcast which is now 15 episodes in. We started doing more features on advertisers and brands to help format folks understand what’s happening in the business world and to share ideas to help folks protect their bottom line. Demetri and I even got active in the video space, producing a weekly Zoom chat on topics of interest to industry people. Last but not least, we launched and began promoting the BSM Member Directory which has grown to 11 subscribers and will become a helpful resource going forward for aspiring and established hosts and producers, as well as program directors and executives.
Watching our industry endure pain throughout March, April and May convinced me that we had to pivot and make a stronger commitment to content. I’ve kept our team between 6-8 people over the past few years and it’s worked quite well. But, I knew that we needed to produce more eyeballs on the site, increase word of mouth, and cement our position as a resource for media companies and industry professionals.
Which brings me to today.
I am pleased to announce that we have added Jay Mariotti, John Michaels, Rob ‘Stats’ Guerrera, Chrissy Paradis, Ricky Keeler and Jacob Conley to our writing team. Jay, John, Rob and Chrissy are industry veterans who will contribute weekly columns, Ricky and Jacob are young professionals who will be producing news stories on national brands and talent.
Starting with Jay, his profile is well known. He was a dominant columnist in Chicago for over a decade for the Sun-Times. He also became a regular panelist on ESPN’s ‘Around The Horn’. The response to his columns have been excellent, and his writing abilities are second to none. I’m well aware that Jay has fans and critics. Most highly opinionated people do. I’m not here to play judge and jury on people’s past situations. Everyone in this business deserves second chances, and I’m happy to provide one to a guy who’s been nothing but professional and consistent since reaching out. Roughly 20 shows have had him appear on their airwaves in the past month to talk about things he’s written for BSM. It shows that people value the content and they should because he makes you think and react.
In Rob and Chrissy’s cases, they’re both accomplished producers who have worked with notable personalities in the industry. ‘Stats’ as he’s referred to has spent time working with Mike Florio, Mike & Mike, Erik Kuselias, and a slew of other national talents. Chrissy has done the same but on the local level, helping hosts such as Tim Brando, Rob Dibble and Steve Cofield. At some point in the future they’ll be positive additions to a sports radio behind the scenes, but until then, I’m happy to have them sharing their knowledge and opinions on this website.
Adding another local host’s perspective was important too. Brian Noe has done a great job for us telling stories from the west coast, but I wanted to add an east coast slant as well. John Michaels has hosted for over a decade in Atlanta with 92.9 The Game and the now defunct 790 The Zone. He’s originally from south Florida, and contributes currently to SB Nation Radio. Having worked in a Top 10 market with a number of accomplished talents will serve John well in producing future pieces on the site.
These 6 additions will make our brand stronger, and I’m excited about it, but our work is not done. I’d still love to find someone to write about the business who has a background in sales and/or management. I’m also digging thru resumes and writing samples to find one general assignment reporter to work on feature stories. If you or someone you know is interested, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
The focus now is on creating compelling content to grow our traffic and influence, serving our partners, growing the member directory, and adding a few advertisers to the website. We’ve proven that we can help those who do business with us, whether it be in a consulting role or as an online advertiser or paid partner at the BSM Summit. I’ll be sending out decks to companies this week and next to gauge interest in partnering with us.
I couldn’t be prouder of the work this team has done to make the website a daily destination for the sports media industry. These 6 new additions will help us continue growing, and there are a few other things we’re working on which I’m looking forward to sharing at the appropriate time. It’s going to take more than a global pandemic to slow us down, and I want to thank my clients for sticking with us during difficult times. Equally as important, I want to express my gratitude to all who continue to read our content, and share it on social media or via word of mouth. It’s a privilege to create content for you, and we appreciate the support.
John Skipper To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit
“In January 2021, Skipper’s plate became even more full when he reunited with Dan Le Batard to create Meadowlark Media. Since joining forces, the group has raised millions of dollars in funding, lured key talent to join the brand, and in April, Meadowlark closed a deal with DraftKings for a reported fifty million dollars over three years. Not too shabby for year #1.
Putting on a two-day industry conference comes with a fair share of challenges. Months are spent building sessions, selling sponsorships, and talking to so many people that by the time the event rolls around, all I can think about is reaching the finish line and avoiding major issues.
But then the event happens, and there are moments where I’m able to block out the noise for 30-40 minutes and just be present in conversation. It’s what I enjoy most. Being able to sit across from an industry leader who’s been successful in business, and pick their brain on the past, present and future of our industry is both personally and professionally fulfilling. Not only does it provide me with an education, but it helps everyone in attendance too. That’s my motivation for running this conference.
When we return to New York City on March 2-3, 2022, I’m thrilled to share that I’ll have a chance to do that once again with someone I’ve professionally respected and admired for a long time. It is an honor to announce that Meadowlark Media CEO John Skipper will join us for a special on stage conversation at the 2022 BSM Summit.
If you’ve worked in this industry or aspire to, then you’re likely aware of what John has accomplished. He’s seen the business from many different points of view and remains very much involved in helping shape its future. But before we discuss his present involvement, let’s revisit the past.
During his tenure with ESPN, John spent five years serving as company president where he secured a series of long-term, multiplatform agreements with key rightsholders such as the NBA, NFL, MLB, Major College Conferences, US Open Tennis, FIFA, the Masters Tournament and British Open, the College Football Playoff, and the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls. He also oversaw the evolution of several brands including The Undefeated, Grantland, five thirty eight, and espnW among others.
Prior to becoming company president, John held the position as EVP of Content, which he earned after helping create and introduce one of the most successful magazine launches of the 1990’s with ESPN The Magazine. His understanding and belief in digital helped ESPN move ESPN. com forward in 2000, adding a paid section, ESPN Insider, and delivering a revamped site approach to generate more advertising. His foresight also spurred the launch of ESPN3, a television network producing more than 4,000 live events on the web and through mobile devices. If that wasn’t enough, John also supported the creation of the Watch ESPN app, played a key role in elevating the careers of many of the industry’s top sports media stars today, and oversaw the growth of ESPN Films, ESPN Radio, and many of ESPN’s key television programs.
After exiting the worldwide leader, John signed on as the Executive Chairman of DAZN. In January 2021, Skipper’s plate became even more full when he reunited with Dan Le Batard to create Meadowlark Media. Since joining forces, the group has raised millions of dollars in funding, lured a number of key talent to become part of the brand, and established a strong presence in podcasting and on YouTube. In April, Meadowlark closed a deal with DraftKings for a reported fifty million dollars over three years. Not too shabby for year #1.
What I’ve appreciated about John is that he’s never been afraid to roll the dice and take risks. Some of his moves have worked out, others haven’t. The wins have been recognized across the industry, but so too have the losses. He’s had to lead a company thru high profile talent controversies, cord cutting challenges, understand the world of video, audio, print, digital, advertising, subscriptions, talent, and rights deals both domestic and internationally, all while keeping his finger on the pulse of the present state of the media business while turning an eye towards the future and knowing which areas the company should make significant investments in.
John has been thru all of it as a media executive, and he’s still doing it while building the Meadowlark brand. A recent story in Bloomberg captured some of his views on growing the Le Batard empire and navigating various parts of the industry. I highly recommend taking time to read it. You can do that by clicking here.
We have five and a half months until we’re inside the Anne Bernstein Theater in New York City, so who knows where the industry will shift during that time. One thing is for certain, John Skipper will be ready for whatever lands on his doorstep. I’m eager to spend time with him in New York treating industry professionals to his insights, opinions and leadership lessons. I’m confident those in attendance will gain value from hearing his perspectives on the industry.
I invite you to join us either in person or virtually for the 2022 BSM Summit. Tickets to the event can be purchased by clicking here. For information on sponsorship opportunities, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
2022 BSM Summit Adds Pablo Torre, Joe Fortenbaugh, Kazeem Famuyide & John Jastremski
“By the time March’s conference rolls around, we’ll have somewhere between 50-60 people announced to participate at the two day Summit.”
The announcements continue for the 2022 BSM Summit. After recently sharing the news that former ESPN Radio executive Traug Keller would join us in the big apple to accept the Jeff Smulyan Award, and previously revealing the first fourteen participants scheduled to appear, it’s time to inform you of a few key talent who will participate in sessions at March’s show.
I’m thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Pablo Torre to the 2022 BSM Summit. Pablo’s been with the worldwide leader since 2012. During that time he’s served as a senior writer for ESPN.com, the host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and has appeared on shows such as Around The Horn, Highly Questionable, and The Dan Le Batard Show. He also previously co-hosted High Noon with Bomani Jones. Prior to joining ESPN he spent five years writing for Sports Illustrated. Having worked with a mixture of talent from various backgrounds, I’m looking forward to having him share his insight and opinions on the value of it at the show.
Pablo isn’t the only ESPN personality joining us in New York for the conference. I’m excited to welcome back a great friend and one of the smartest sports betting analysts on television, Joe Fortenbaugh. Joe is regularly featured on ESPN’s sports betting program Daily Wager. He also appears on other ESPN programs and segments on television, radio and digital platforms. Prior to joining the network he hosted 95.7 The Game’s morning show in San Francisco, and hosted “The Sharp 600″ sports betting podcast. He’ll moderate a conversation with sports betting executives at the show.
Given that this two-day sports media conference is taking place in the heart of New York City, it’d be silly to not include someone who’s passion, energy, sound, and content embody what New York is all about. The Ringer’s John Jastremski will make his BSM Summit debut in 2022. The ‘New York, New York’ host is known to many for his years of contributions on WFAN. It’ll be fun picking JJ’s brain on the differences between performing on a traditional platform and the digital stage.
Jastremski isn’t the only one with a connection to The Ringer who will participate at our 2022 event. My next guest is someone who I’ve followed on YouTube and Twitter for years, has infectious energy and likeability, and has taken his life experiences and sports passions and turned them into opportunities with MSG Network, SNY, The Ringer, Bleacher Report, WWE, The Source and various other outlets. Kazeem Famuyide will join us to shed light on his journey and offer his perspective on the value of traditional vs. non-traditional paths.
By the time March’s conference rolls around, we’ll have somewhere between 50-60 people announced to participate at the two day event. I’ll be announcing the addition of a very special executive in mid-October, as well as a few high profile speakers and awards recipients in the weeks and months ahead. I’m appreciative of so many expressing interest in speaking at the conference, and as much as I’d like to include everyone on stage, I can’t. Keeping the Summit informative, fresh and focused on the right issues is important, and to do that, I’ve got to introduce different people, perspectives and subjects so our attendees gain value to further improve the industry.
A reminder, the 2022 BSM Summit is strictly for members of the sports media industry and college students aspiring to work in the business. It brings together people from more than thirty different media companies and focuses on issues of relevance and importance to media industry professionals. The show takes place March 2-3, 2022 in New York at the Anne Bernstein Theater on West 50th Street. Tickets and hotel rooms can be secured by visiting BSMSummit.com. For those unable to attend in person, the Summit will also be available to view online. Virtual tickets can be purchased by clicking here. Hope you’ll join us!
Traug Keller Named 2022 Recipient of the Jeff Smulyan Award
“Former SVP of ESPN Audio and President of ABC Networks Traug Keller has been chosen as our 2022 recipient of the Jeff Smulyan Award.”
Sometimes decisions are difficult. Other times they’re not. This was one of the easiest ones I’ve made since launching the BSM Summit in 2018.
If you haven’t attended the Summit before, one of the cool parts of the conference each year is that we take time to honor people who have left a permanent mark on the industry we love. Awards ceremonies are held both days to recognize difference makers who have made positive contributions to the sports radio business. At our 2022 BSM Summit, I am pleased to share that a great man will be celebrated for his life’s work.
It is my honor to announce that former SVP of ESPN Audio and President of ABC Networks Traug Keller has been chosen as our 2022 recipient of the Jeff Smulyan Award. Keller becomes the third industry executive to earn the honor. Kraig Kitchin and Dan Mason were the first two to be recognized at the 2019 and 2020 BSM Summit’s.
Upon learning that Traug had been selected as the next Jeff Smulyan Award winner, Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan said, “Traug Keller has left an indelible imprint on not only sports radio, but on all of broadcasting through his remarkable career. I’m proud to call him my friend, but I’m just one of the legions of people who have loved every minute of their time with him. He’s a broadcaster’s broadcaster, but more than that he’s one of the best people I’ve ever known.”
“I am humbled for sure but thrilled to be receiving an award with the name of my good friend on it, Jeff Smulyan,” added Traug Keller, now the EVP and COO of American Media. “Jeff did what all too few leaders in business do, he took risk and action against all kinds of headwinds and the rest of us in the great business of Sports Audio were the beneficiaries of it. Thanks to BSM for this great honor and I look forward to seeing a bunch of old friends in March!”
Anyone who has crossed paths with Traug over the past three decades knows how important he was to the success of ESPN Radio. He’s been a friend to many, a great partner to hundreds of radio affiliates, and a champion for talent. His support for BSM has also meant a lot.
Perhaps even more impressive was Traug’s ability to connect with his affiliates, clients and colleagues, offering steady leadership and on-air stability for ESPN Radio. No executive leaves with a perfect record, but Keller had a knack for landing on the right side of many decisions. None as impressive though as retiring from sports radio in February 2020, one month before the sports world came to a screeching halt and a global pandemic rocked the entire advertising industry. Talk about timing Traug, haha.
In all seriousness, having Traug and Jeff together on the same stage in front of the industry to give folks an opportunity to show their appreciation for their accomplishments is a real treat. So many enjoy professional success today due to bold and smart decisions made by each of these men, and I couldn’t be happier to spend time with both in New York City this March.
For tickets, hotel and additional details regarding the 2022 BSM Summit visit BSMSummit.com.
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