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BSM Staffers Past & Present Look Back At The Last 5 Years

“Jason didn’t just build an industry tool, he transformed how the industry is connected.”

Demetri Ravanos

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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.

Dinosaurs gathered at NASA Goddard site for fatal feeding frenzy • The  Register

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)

Dave Greene, Author at Barrett Sports Media

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.

SHIT!

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.

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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