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Sports, Diversity & Multi-Platform Focus Will Shape ESPN Radio’s Future

“Nobody makes decisions in a vacuum. It’s a matter of understanding the markets, analyzing the research, reviewing the ratings, and placing a focus on the importance of cross platform content creators.”

Jason Barrett

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Sports Diversity

Since January 1, 1992, ESPN Radio has introduced listeners across the nation to some of the biggest and best personalities in sports media, while delivering ratings, respect, and revenue to hundreds of America’s sports radio stations. The Bristol run network has provided stability to radio affiliates by relying on a mixture of transparency, a powerful brand name, access to the network’s star studded talent roster, play by play of big sporting events, and a second to none lineup, which has been both consistent and talented.

If you say the name ESPN Radio to listeners and industry professionals, it carries weight. Some say it stands for sports and success. Others highlight talent and entertainment. Some point to credibility and quality. The bottom line, ESPN Radio has earned a stellar reputation due to a strong track record of satisfying listeners, rewarding partners, and featuring top notch talent and quality programming. It’s why affiliates continue to pay annual rights fees and give up large chunks of ad inventory to associate their stations with the biggest brand name in sports audio entertainment.

But a couple of recent lineup changes have radio affiliates nervous about the future direction of the network. Some of those concerns were shared last week on this website by ten anonymous program directors in a piece written by Demetri Ravanos. I’ve heard similar complaints and frustrations from market managers, executives and programmers. Some have even contemplated whether it was time to terminate their relationship with the worldwide leader, uncertain that a better lineup, consistency, and higher ratings are around the corner.

At the center of the conversation is ESPN’s Senior Vice President of Production David Roberts, who finds himself with the unenviable task of having to retain confidence of the network’s radio partners, while adding new voices with multi-platform experience to help ESPN Radio excel in a rapidly changing media climate. A seasoned executive who also manages ESPN’s daytime lineup of First Take, Get Up, Highly Questionable, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, and SportsCenter, and recently added oversight of Jalen & Jacoby, ESPN podcasts and events, and production of digital studio shows and YouTube, Roberts understands that change is difficult for some. Though he knows questions may be raised initially of the network’s decisions, Roberts is hoping the introduction of new talent and a lengthy track record of on-air and sales performance will afford the network an opportunity to demonstrate it’s still capable of delivering strong results for its radio partners.

Allen House Studios
photo by Allen House Studios

In Roberts, ESPN has a leader who Stephen A. Smith has a high level of confidence in. During an interview with Front Office Sports in August, Smith said “Leadership comes in a variety of forms, varying from quiet, to no-nonsense, to in-your-face. No matter the category, the end result requires winning, and that’s precisely what Dave Roberts does: win. With practically everything he touches, because he’s excellent — and requires it. Because he’s accountable — and demands accountability. And because losing is never an acceptable option for him. That’s Dave Roberts in a nutshell. If you’re about winning, you want to work for this man.”

A ringing endorsement from one of ESPN’s most successful and hard working talents should strike a chord with some, but Roberts knows it’s going to take more than just positive commentary from high profile colleagues to make radio affiliates feel excited and confident in the network’s new on-air direction. What shouldn’t be lost on anyone is that many of the new faces and voices featured on ESPN Radio are diverse, have a presence beyond radio, and are committed to talking sports. Roberts and his leadership team see a big advantage in being able to expose their talent to fans across the company’s various platforms, and by placing an even higher premium on talking sports, one thing ESPN is best known for, they’re hoping to attract more eyes and ears to ESPN Radio’s shows, and lead the brand to its next decade of success.

Given the network’s recent changes and reactions across the industry, I thought it was important to provide balance to this story. I reached out to David Roberts last week and offered him an opportunity to have a candid conversation about losing Dan Le Batard, the multiple lineup changes, the network’s current relationship with radio affiliates, and his vision for ESPN Radio. To his credit, he accepted and answered every question. Whether you agree with the lineup changes or not, I’m sure you’ll appreciate his willingness to go on the record and offer some insight on where the network is headed.

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JB: I apologize in advance for aging you, but you’ve been around this game for a while. Over four decades in fact. Some industry folks are going to see your lengthy track record in television including your current list of TV management responsibilities and wonder how important radio is to you. You’re in charge of a brand, ESPN Radio, which has been successful for a long time, and is depended on by a large number of operators. For those who aren’t familiar with your radio story, when did you first take an interest in the medium, and where have you worked prior to assuming the lead executive role at the network?

DR: As a kid growing up in Detroit, I was fortunate to be around one of the great stations in the country WJR. Being a sports fan, I was connected to that radio station. They aired the games of my favorite teams and I listened a lot. I was actually lucky enough to be welcomed into the Tigers radio booth at 6 years old by Ernie Harwell, one of my inspirations to get into this industry. I became a student of radio first before I moved into television and have had a long appreciation for the medium. I then had a chance to venture into network radio with 98.7 ESPN NY. I managed the business of our NY sports radio station and worked hands on with content, sales, and play by play partners, and it gave me a chance to get familiar with our Bristol operation. I believe one of the keys to radio is to operate with a cross platform approach. That’s the way of the world in all of media today.

JB: The first place I want to focus on is the process of making changes. That’s a big topic of conversation right now in the industry due to the network changing up the lineup in August and recently announcing forthcoming changes again in January. When you’re deciding whether or not to switch something with a host or lineup, how do you decide whether or not to stand pat or pursue a new direction?

DR: The first key is to listen to your customers – the audience. And the affiliates of course too. Nobody makes decisions in a vacuum. It’s a matter of understanding the markets, analyzing the research, reviewing the ratings, and placing a focus on the importance of cross platform content creators. The days of being just a radio focused brand are long gone. You have to be focused on audio, video, digital. Those are the parameters you have to operate in.

Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images
Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images

JB: I’ll get to the recent news in a moment but I first want to go backwards to August because that’s when we first got a glimpse of ESPN Radio’s plans for the present and future. You brought in Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti to host the morning show. Greeny and Max were added between 12p-4p ET, and you launched a new show with Mike Golic Jr. and Chiney Ogwumike in afternoons. What was it that excited you about featuring Keyshawn, Jay and Zubin in morning drive?

DR: When we made changes in August and brought in Keyshawn, Jay, and Zubin, we felt these were three guys who not only worked on radio, but were appearing on major football and basketball franchises, along with SportsCenter. Each is different in their style which is what helps in making a great show. Keyshawn especially has a great, large personality and big opinions, and was very successful doing mornings in Los Angeles. If you’re going to have a vision for the next twenty years, you have to have a vision that’s different from where you were. When you build with people like Keyshawn, Jay, Zubin, Max, Greeny, Golic Jr., Chiney, we’re looking at the essence of diversity, and a renewed commitment to cross platform programming built around sports. We’re in the business of being interesting and these people are willing to do whatever it takes to provide star power to the affiliates across the country. They also know we have to work harder and be strategically smarter to build a new identity for ESPN Radio by using all of our platforms to help us.

JB: I want to ask you about the situation with Dan Le Batard. In August, his show got trimmed by an hour during the initial lineup remodel. Now four months later it’s revealed that he’s no longer going to be with the company. If this was where the relationship was heading, why not just move on in August?

DR: The timing would not have worked out in August to do that. We are in a stronger position now to move Mike into that slot. He reestablished himself on radio the past few months and the response to his show has been great. We believe by moving him earlier in the day it will allow us to build a stronger presence out west with sports being a huge part of our focus. We also now have Bart Scott and Alan Hahn joining the lineup which we also feel good about. The focus for us is on where we’re headed and making sure that we produce the best sports talk radio available to affiliates across the country.

JB: I know that Dan’s radio program wasn’t a big ratings performer and growing the affiliate base had its share of challenges. That said, he was a cross platform star with a large television presence, strong digital success, and he was liked and respected by many ESPN talents. I couldn’t help but notice that in his goodbye statement, he thanked nearly every ESPN employee except yourself and Norby Williamson. What was your reaction to that?

DR: I’m not going to get into that. I have no issue with Dan personally. He served the company well and I’m sure he will do big things going forward at his next stop. We just feel these moves will help us better serve our affiliates, grow our business, and focus more on talking sports. Don’t get me wrong, we will discuss non-sports issues when its appropriate, but we’re in a stronger position to do what we do best, which is talking about sports. People don’t tune into CNN for two to three hours of a format that isn’t consistent with news. We have an audience that expects us to deliver certain expectations and we want to be true to it.

JB: Let’s talk about your radio affiliates. As you know, we produced a piece last week which featured feedback from ten programmers who are very concerned about the multiple changes and future direction of the network. How do you plan to retain and regain their confidence?

DR: I try to make myself very accessible to the people who work for me and those who do business with us. We also have a great affiliate leader in Jeff Martindale who’s frequently in touch with our radio partners. But I want to hear feedback from our affiliates. I won’t provide spin lines or BS. If I like the idea, I’ll tell them. If we can’t do it or it doesn’t make sense, I’ll tell them that too. They can always email me at David.Roberts@espn.com. I hope they’ll take me up on that offer. As a network operator and programmer we know we can’t serve everyone 100% of the time but what we will do is listen to our affiliates. When we pass the Super Bowl, we’ll be at the six month mark of this plan. We’ll be creating a virtual town hall that will include some of our affiliates so we can get more input from them. I’m a believer that nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. We’re all looking to move in the same direction and win together and we want to be a valued partner to our radio stations. We’re going to continue making our talent more available to our radio partners. I know change is difficult for some, but if you’re satisfied with the status quo, you’re expecting to lose, and we’re not interested in losing. People have tons of options of where to spend their time and we want to make sure we’re in position to be one of their top considerations.

photo by Sports Business Daily
photo by Sports Business Daily

JB: I think it’s great that you’re willing to make yourself accessible to your customers thru email because these folks are important to your success, just as you are to theirs. I did speak to one executive last week who said that they’ve voiced their concerns about ratings challenges with the morning show but when the issue was raised it was dismissed by someone at the network who pointed to places where the show has done well. Though that may be true, if a station is struggling they’re not going to care much about another market that’s having better luck. You obviously can’t please each affiliate all the time but that specific example prompted the station executive to question if radio matters to the network’s brass. What do you say to that?

DR: Radio absolutely matters to me and our management team. We’re making these changes to grow our business, as well as the business for our radio partners. We have a lot of people on this roster, men, women, white, black, during the weekday and weekends, and we’re doing this to expand the audience and help everyone who’s part of our success. This is an intimate medium and we take this business seriously. But understand that these things don’t happen overnight. It takes time. Our focus is firmly planted on the future, and we are just reaching four months of this new identity of ESPN Radio. Our promise is to be transparent with our partners and advertisers, and to work harder, strategically smarter, and bring our effort and commitment 24/7.

JB: You’ve been an advocate for diversity and have made a number of changes to the lineup to introduce talent from various backgrounds to the audience and your affiliate partners. Why do you believe it’s important for the company to demonstrate it’s not only an all-inclusive company with strong values, but also to expand the listenership for ESPN Radio?

DR: We have a strong belief at ESPN that diversity is not only the right thing to do but a key part to growing any successful business. The depth of our African American/black voices on our radio network in prime dayparts clearly represents our commitment to demonstrating that you can and must do more than sit around and talk about diversity. You can and must take action and stop making excuses about how difficult it supposedly is to find “diverse” people.

JB: Stephen A. Smith left his radio show last January to focus more on his TV work. This year, Mike Greenberg and Max Kellerman returned to radio, and though their additions were welcomed because they’re both very good at hosting radio programs, there’s a little bit of concern out there that these are short-term moves rather than long-term ones. How do you assure your radio partners that these guys are here for the long-haul?

DR: Greeny and Max are not placeholders. They are solid building blocks for us now and in the future. You don’t commit to these type of names without saying to everyone, including those involved that this is important. Once people get to know our talent better I am confident they will grow to appreciate them more. I’m proud of where we are and where we’re going. I think we’re going to do a lot of great things with this brand and Max and Greeny will be a big part of that success.

JB: I’m sure you can understand though David that when big changes like this are made twice within a span of four months, there are going to be a lot of people in local leadership positions who are worried about it happening again in the near future.

DR: I do understand that, but throughout the course of my career I’ve tried not to worry about reactions to decisions. If you are in a leadership position it comes with the territory. The objective is to wind up with better programming than what you had on before. That’s no slight on those who were there previously. It just means we’re looking for ways to continue growing our product. We’re listening to the feedback, and appreciate it, even when it’s not favorable, but there’s a plan in place and we’re committed to it.

ESPN Radio

JB: If you look at the national sports radio landscape today, FOX Sports Radio has really strengthened its product. SiriusXM has a wide array of strong national content. You also have CBS Sports Radio, VSiN, and SportsMap who are in the space and vying for stations to carry their programming. How much attention do you pay to your competition and does it factor in at all when considering how you position your lineup?

DR: I have the utmost respect for our competition. There are some very talented personalities and brands out there. But I’m not focused on what they’re doing. I’m looking at how we can improve ESPN Radio. A key part of our strategy is making sure our platforms are connecting with one another. It’s why you see many of the people on our product today. That underscores the commitment we have to maximizing the strength of the ESPN brand to the depth of talent. That’s integral to our strategy and growth. Any decisions we make are going to be made with that being a key focus.

JB: Some may read that David and say ‘but that just means you’re not committed to radio people. You’re just putting TV personalities on radio.’ Does it matter to you if the on-air talent are or aren’t radio hosts?

DR: The media business has evolved. It’s a cross platform landscape. The days of being a ‘radio person’ have long ended. If you think otherwise you’re not being realistic. Today, you have to connect in multiple ways. That’s how you build a bigger brand. If we have partners who’d like me to explain my thinking on that further I hope they’ll reach out. I want to learn more from them too, and I hope they’ll be open to how we can help each other. We’re trying to create win-win scenarios.

JB: Every operator that makes changes to a product understands that there are going to be more eyeballs watching to see if the results improve afterwards. But in the network world, growth isn’t as simple as looking at ratings because you could be up 50% in two key markets, yet down 50% in two others. When you analyze these changes a year or two from now, how will you know if these moves produced success or a step back for ESPN Radio?

DR: For us, success will depend on a couple of factors. We’ll of course look at the ratings, and where we are in the growth cycle with affiliates, but our main focus is to position the network to be strong. This pandemic has created a lot of challenges for media operators and we want to provide a sense of normalcy for our audience. Our expectations are to deliver the strongest programming we can, using the best talent we have available. This is going to take a full team effort from myself to our staff, our affiliate partners and advertisers. We feel good about the direction we’re heading in, we believe in our people, and we will listen to our affiliates and deliver them a successful product.

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BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

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When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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