Jason Barrett changed the sports format in 2015 when he launched this website. That will sound like some self-righteous bullshit, but it is the absolute truth.
The arrival of Barrett Sports Media, then at sportsradiopd.com, was not unlike the arrival of CNN on cable television. Suddenly, there was this place that we could all go to at anytime of day to find out what was going on. The major difference from CNN, aside from the budget and an ownership stake in the Atlanta Braves, was that the site was focused on a niche within a niche. It would be like if I launched a site today devoted not to Jurassic Park, but specifically to that one raptor that Muldoon calls a “clever girl” right before it eats him.
To celebrate this anniversary, I wanted to turn things over to our writing staff, in particular those that have been at Barrett Sports Media since the day Jason decided to employ weekly columnists in 2017.
What did this opportunity mean to them? What have they gotten out of being part of the BSM family? I’ll share my story at the end.
TYLER MCCOMAS (STARTED 2017)
I don’t say this lightly, but I don’t think anyone in this industry could’ve grown this site like Jason Barrett has in the past five years. I say that, because I’ve seen firsthand all of the attention to detail he puts into things. For instance, during my first trip to the Barrett Sports Media summit in Los Angeles, I was truly blown away by how every single detail was taken into account. Literally, the man takes zero shortcuts and it’s the reason why BSM is the successful entity it is today.
Being at the website for three years, it’s humbling to know that I’ve had a very small piece in what this website has been able to accomplish. When I first started writing, I felt like I had to over explain what the website was all about to the people I was trying to interview. Today all I have to say is I’m with Barrett Sports Media and everyone knows what we do here.
BRIAN NOE (STARTED 2017)
When I glanced at my notes, I was surprised to find that the first column I wrote for BSM was in August of 2017. I’ve passed the three-year mark with Jason when I actually thought the two-year mark was approaching. Time flies when you enjoy what you do.
I write with the speed of a tortoise though. Writing is hard, but I’m 100 percent sure I make it way harder. The work is challenging, but the rewards are great. I love the end result when I feel like the time I invest in a column or a Q&A interview help produce a piece that’s worth reading. The positive feedback is very satisfying as well.
It has been a pleasure to interview so many people for JB’s site. It’s fascinating to learn about the personal stories, goals, successes, failures, and general approaches of others in the industry. It’s great to learn more about Jason as well. I’ve never met someone as connected. If I asked him who the board op is in Boise, Idaho, he’d be like, “Oh, John? Yeah, great guy.”
JB is a bulldog. He works incredibly hard and has a true passion for sports radio. I’m thankful he’s trusted me to represent his company. Here’s to many more years of success for Jason and BSM.
DAVE GREENE (STARTED 2017; LEFT 2019)
When I was in my first Journalism class at the University of Missouri in 1993, the professor went around the room and asked who was interested in the various sections of journalism taught at the school. He would call out the sections and students would raise their hand if that is why they were wanting to be in the J-school. He called out magazine, television, photojournalism, etc. and then asked specifically, “Who is here for sports?” I raised my hand along with four or five others (out of three hundred or so in the class) and he responded with, “Just so you know, we don’t teach sports here, we teach journalism.”
So, there was my first experience with what others thought of my career choice. More than 25 years later, not only has the interest in sports continued to increase, but so has the interest in sports media. Kudos to Jason and the BSM staff for shining a light on an industry that normally only gets attention when one of its hosts says something stupid or goes off the rails. The coverage is very much appreciated and it continues to get better all the time. Thank you for having me be a small part of it, writing about my love and passion for the format and selling the format. Cheers!
JAY MARIOTTI (STARTED 2020)
If all media companies operated with the efficiency and no-b.s. ethic of Barrett Sports Media, the industry would be in a better and sturdier place. I’ve worked for the biggest TV and radio shops and major-market writing operations. They could learn plenty from Jason Barrett, who creates a performance-first culture and doesn’t let outside influences interfere with content, though I’m sure those influences are regularly giving him ear aches.
I first met Jason as he was leaving behind a successful radio programming career — on his terms. We chatted for two hours at a San Francisco breakfast place, both seeking unique independent challenges in a media business increasingly averse to risk-taking. I’m not surprised he has constructed a strong career foundation with his ever-growing content site and advisory expertise.
When he asked me to write columns, I knew his target audience was The Industry, akin to The Eagles playing for the music crowd when they returned from wherever they were. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun writing sports and media columns since … college, maybe? And tell me: How many people in sports media are having fun right now?
MATT FISHMAN (STARTED 2018; LEFT 2019)
For me, Barrett Sports Media was a life raft in my radio career. Finding myself “on the beach” after ten years of working at SiriusXM and 21 years overall in sports radio was daunting. Writing a weekly column about sports radio for the Barrett Sports Media website allowed me to stay engaged with the format while sharing my ideas, suggestions, and constructive criticism with people in the business. It also kept my name out there with important decision makers and allowed me to determine companies I wanted to work for and some I probably didn’t want to.
My favorite part of writing for the BSM website was definitely the Q&As with radio talent. I spoke at length to terrific hosts that I had worked with like Dan McNeil, Terry Boers, Paul Finebaum and Mark Packer. I also enjoyed meeting talent who I knew of and yet did not know. People like Josh Innes and Nick Cattles.
The hardest and most serious part of my job was dealing with death in the sports radio family. Writing about the deaths of Chet Coppock, Allen Lamb, Wolfgang Miller, and John Tautges. I also wrote about sports radio stations in Dayton and El Paso dealing with programming in the wake of mass shootings in both cities. Work I took very seriously as did the local PDs at those stations.
Overall, my time at Barrett Sports Media allowed me to look at Sports Radio from 30,000 feet. To see the big picture which is sometimes hard to do when you are in it. For the last 7+ months as the Content Director at 850 ESPN Cleveland I have tried to take those lessons to heart. I also know that without writing for BSM, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
BRANDON CONTES (STARTED 2017; BEGAN WRITING FEATURES 2018)
Barrett Sports Media’s five-year anniversary coincides with my three-year mark writing for the site. JB had little reason to bring me on-board three years ago after I reached out. As someone with little experience in the industry, he was able to look past that and recognize my passion for sports media.
My personal profile has grown immensely since joining BSM three years ago. I’ve met and interviewed people who I’ve always respected, and I’m consistently impressed with the respect they show me in return. But being associated with a brand such as BSM brings instant credibility and inherent respect. Like a music groupie who says, ‘I knew that band before they were popular!’ I’m proud to have been a fan of Barrett Sports Media when it launched five years ago, and equally grateful to have played a part in its development over the least three years.
DEMETRI RAVANOS (STARTED 2017, PROMOTED TO ASSISTANT CONTENT DIRECTOR 2018)
The first time I reached out to Jason Barrett was 2016. SportsRadioPD.com was in its literal infancy at the time. My sports radio career was only about a year older, having moved over from the rock format in 2014. I just sent him an email and pitched him on a few guest column ideas. To my surprise, he said he’d be very happy to have me write about personality radio and why so much of what works for people like Howard Stern should be adopted and adapted for sports talk hosts.
In 2017, I was working in a very upscale hotel and just looking for any connection back to the industry I loved. Fortunately, JB was looking to bring on full-time columnists. It was a natural fit.
Fast forward nearly one year. I don’t know the best way to say this, but “Jason Barrett saved my life” seems like the best way to do it. I was still at the hotel and as depressed as I had ever been. I HATED my job. I hated that everyday was exactly the same. I hated the way it made me feel about myself, and the worst part of all was I didn’t know how to get out of it.
Thankfully, JB was on a market visit in Charlotte the same weekend I was driving down to Alabama for my godson’s high school graduation. It was on my way. He asked if I wanted to have dinner. We met at a PF Chang’s. I’ll never forget how awkward it was when I, in a Run the Jewels t-shirt and jeans, got up to greet a man in a full suit.
That dinner wasn’t just about getting to know one another or a matter of convenience because we were in the same place at the same time. JB had a vision for me. That was the night we talked about what he would need in a number 2 and would I do it for next to no money.
Here we are two years later and my life and my place in this industry has completely changed. That is all because Jason trusted me.
We have built up a staff together. We consult each other on major moves for the business. We aren’t partners and his opinion still carries more weight than mine, but he treats me like an equal. That’s not just when we are on the phone. That is at the BSM Summit or any other professional event.
When I started writing for the site, I hoped to get my name out there and get someone to listen to my audio. When I became the Assistant Content Director, it was in hopes that it’d lead to meeting the right person. All of that time, I was blind to the fact that I was where I needed to be to make an impact on the industry.
That is Jason Barrett’s greatest strength. He not only recognizes someone’s talent, he recognizes where they will have the most value. Over the summer, after a conversation with Don Martin, I told JB that I think maybe I want to program instead of being back on the air. In the most exasperated voice I have ever heard come out of him, JB said “JESUS! I have been waiting for you to get here for two years!”.
The guy just knows how to put puzzle pieces together without having to look at the picture on the box. That is the kind of talent it takes to build something like this. Jason didn’t just build an industry tool, he transformed how the industry is connected.
Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call
“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”
I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.
The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.
Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.
Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.
We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.
I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.
You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.
People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.
How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.
Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.
If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.
In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.
Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.
What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.
Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!
“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”
Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?
Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.
To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:
#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?
#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?
#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?
If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!
Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.
Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:
#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.
#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.
#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.
#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.
#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.
Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!
Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas
“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”
Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?
Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!
One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.
Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.
There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.
Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.
I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.
Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.
It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?
Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.
If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.
Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.
A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.
“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.
We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.
As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.
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