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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.

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media Announces 3 Additions, Social Media Changes

“Luckily, I’ve been able to assemble a stellar group of people, which allows us to earn your attention each day, and I’m happy to reveal that we’re adding to our roster yet again.”

Jason Barrett

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It’s taken years of hard work, adjustments, and a whole lot of trial and error to turn this brand into a trusted source for industry professionals. It’s been exciting and rewarding to tell stories, highlight the industry, and use my decades worth of knowledge and relationships to help the brands I work with make progress. But while I may prioritize the work I do for others, I’ve also got to balance it with making sure BSM and BNM run smoothly.

Each day, Barrett Media produces nearly fifty social posts, one to two newsletters, and twenty to thirty sports and news media stories and columns. I didn’t even mention podcasts, which is another space we recently entered. Making sure we’re delivering quality not quantity is vital, and so too is promoting it consistently and creatively.

Today, we have thirty people on our payroll. I never expected that to be the case, but as needs have increased and deeper bonds have been formed between the brand, our audience, and our clients, it’s allowed us to find new ways to invest in delivering insight, information, and opinion to our readers. Writing, editing, and creating content for a brand like ours isn’t for everyone. I just spent the past three months interviewing nearly forty people, and there’s a lot of quality talent out there. But talent for radio and journalism doesn’t always mean the fit is right for BSM and BNM. Luckily, I’ve been able to assemble a stellar group of people, which allows us to earn your attention each day, and I’m happy to reveal that we’re adding to our roster yet again.

First, please join me in welcoming Garrett Searight to BSM and BNM. Garrett has been hired as our FT Brand Editor, which means he will oversee BSM and BNM’s website’s content M-F during normal business hours. He will work closely with yours truly, our nighttime editors Arky Shea and Eduardo Razo, and our entire writing teams to create content opportunities for both of our brands. Garrett joins us after a decade long stint in Lima, OH where he most recently worked as program director and afternoon host at 93.1 The Fan. He also programmed classic country station 98.5 The Legend. His first day with us is August 1st, but he’ll be training this month to make sure he’s ready to hit the ground running.

Next, I am excited to welcome Alex Reynolds as our Social Media Coordinator. Alex’s creativity and curiosity stood out during our interview process, and we’re excited to have him helping with social content creation and scheduling for BSM and BNM. He’s a graduate of Elon University, a big fan of lacrosse, and he’ll be working with Dylan Barrett to improve our graphic creation, schedule our content, and further develop the social voice for both of our brands.

Speaking of our two brands, though we produce content on the website for both sports and news, how they get promoted on social is changing. When I started this company, the website was known as SportsRadioPD.com. That worked perfectly with my Twitter and Instagram handles, which were also @sportsradiopd. But since we switched our URL to BarrettSportsMedia.com and started ramping up content for both sports and news it’s become clear that we needed dedicated brand pages. It’s harder to expect people to share an individual’s content, and the mix of sports and news often feels off-brand to the two different audiences we serve. It feels even stranger if I’m buying social media ads to market content, a conference, and other things, so it’s time to change things up.

Starting today, you can now follow Barrett Sports Media on Twitter @BSMStaff. You can also follow Barrett News Media on Twitter @BNMStaff. Each brand also has its own Facebook page. Moving forward, we will promote sports media content on our sports accounts, and news media content on our news accounts. We started with that approach for BNM when the brand launched in September 2020, but expecting people to read another site and follow other social accounts was a tall order for a brand that was finding its footing. We made a choice to promote both sports and news under the same social accounts for the past year in order to further grow awareness for the content, and as we stand today, I think many would agree that BNM has made great strides. We’ve built a kick ass team to cover the news media industry, and I’m hoping many of you will take a moment to give BNM’s pages a follow to stay informed.

One thing you will notice is that the @BSMStaff account has replaced the @sportsradiopd account on Twitter. Let’s face it, most people who have followed me on Twitter have done so for BSM or BNM’s content, not for my NY Knicks and pro wrestling rants. I am keeping my @sportsradiopd handle but that is being developed as a brand new personal account. That said, if you enjoy sending DM’s my way, give the new @sportsradiopd account a follow so we can stay in touch. The only account we will use to promote content from both brands under is the Barrett Media account on LinkedIn. Instagram is not a focus right now nor is TikTok or Snapchat. I realize audiences exist everywhere but I’d rather be great at a few things than average at a lot of them.

Now that we’ve tackled the social media changes, let me share another exciting piece of news. I’m thrilled to welcome Jessie Karangu to our brand as a BSM weekly columnist. Jessie has great energy, curiosity, and a genuine love and passion for the media industry. He’s worked for Sinclair television, written for Awful Announcing, and has also hosted podcasts and video shows on YouTube. His knowledge and interest in television is especially strong, and I’m looking forward to featuring his opinions, and perspectives on our website. His debut piece for the site will be released this Wednesday.

With all of this happening, Demetri Ravanos is shifting his focus for the brand to a space he’s passionate about, audio. His new title is BSM’s Director of Audio Content. This means he will be charged with overseeing the editing, execution, and promotion of our various podcasts. He will also work closely with me in developing future Barrett Media shows. We have 3 in weekly rotation now, and will be adding Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves next week, and The Jason Barrett Podcast the week after that. The goal is to increase our audio library in the future provided the right ideas, talent, and interest are there.

Another goal of mine moving forward is to grow our advertising partnerships. Between our website, social media channels, podcasts, and newsletters, we have many ways to help brands connect to an affluent, influential, and loyal industry audience. We’ve enjoyed working with and helping brands over the years such as Point to Point Marketing, Jim Cutler NY, Steve Stone Voiceovers, Core Image Studio, Skyview Networks, Compass Media Networks, ESPN Radio and Harker Bos Group. That doesn’t include all of the great sponsors we’ve teamed up with for our annual BSM Summit (2023’s show will be announced by the end of the summer). I’m excited to add to the list by welcoming Backbone as a new website and newsletter partner. We’re also looking forward to teaming up in the near future with Quu and the Sports Gambling Podcast Network, and hope to work with a few others we’ve had recent dialogue with.

When it comes to marketing, I try to remind folks of our reach, the value we add daily across the industry, and the various ways we can help. I know it’s human nature to stick with what we know but if you work with a brand, I invite you to check into BSM/BNM further. Stephanie Eads is awesome to work with, cares about our partners, and our traffic, social impressions, and most importantly, the quality of our audience is proven. To learn more about what we can do, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Yes we continue to grow, and I’m happy about that, but just because we’re adding head count doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed to be better. It takes every person on a team holding up their end of the bargain, creating killer content, setting expectations, and paying attention to the follow through. We take pride in our work, value the support of our partners, and are extremely thankful for the continued readership of our material. That consistent support is what allows me to add to our team to better serve fans, partners, and industry professionals.

It may seem small, and unimportant but those retweets, comments, and mentions on the air about our content makes a difference. To all who take the time to keep our industry conversations alive, thank you. This is an awesome business with a lot of great brands, people, content, and growth opportunities, and the fact that we get to learn from you, share your stories, and help those reading learn in the process makes waking up to do it an honor.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Sports Media To Launch Podcast Network

“We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July.”

Jason Barrett

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To run a successful digital content and consulting company in 2022 it’s vital to explore new ways to grow business. There are certain paths that produce a higher return on investment than others, but by being active in multiple spaces, a brand has a stronger chance of staying strong and overcoming challenges when the unexpected occurs. Case in point, the pandemic in 2020.

As much as I love programming and consulting stations to assist with growing their over the air and digital impact, I consider myself first a business owner and strategist. Some have even called me an entrepreneur, and that works too. Just don’t call me a consultant because that’s only half of what I do. I’ve spent a lot of my time building relationships, listening to content, and studying brands and markets to help folks grow their business. Included in my education has been studying website content selection, Google and social media analytics, newsletter data, the event business, and the needs of partners and how to best serve them. As the world of media continues to evolve, I consider it my responsibility to stay informed and ready to pivot whenever it’s deemed necessary. That’s how brands and individuals survive and thrive.

If you look at the world of media today compared to just a decade ago, a lot has changed. It’s no secret during that period that podcasting has enjoyed a surge. Whether you review Edison Research, Jacobs Media, Amplifi Media, Spotify or another group’s results, the story is always the same – digital audio is growing and it’s expected to continue doing so. And that isn’t just related to content. It applies to advertising too. Gordon Borrell, IAB and eMarketer all have done the research to show you where future dollars are expected to move. I still believe it’s smart, valuable and effective for advertisers to market their products on a radio station’s airwaves, but digital is a key piece of the brand buy these days, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Which brings me to today’s announcement.

If you were in New York City in March for our 2022 BSM Summit, you received a program at the show. Inside of one of the pages was a small ad (same image used atop this article) which said “Coming This Summer…The BSM Podcast Network…Stay Tuned For Details.” I had a few people ask ‘when is that happening, and what shows are you planning to create?’ and I kept the answers vague because I didn’t want to box ourselves in. I’ve spent a few months talking to people about joining us to help continue producing quality written content and improve our social media. Included in that process has been talking to members of our team and others on the outside about future opportunities creating podcasts for the Barrett Sports Media brand.

After examining the pluses and minuses, and listening and talking to a number of people, I’m excited to share that we are launching the BSM Podcast Network. We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July. Demetri Ravanos will provide oversight of content execution, and assist with production and guest booking needs for selected pods. This is why we’ve been frequently promoting Editor and Social Media jobs with the brand. It’s hard to pursue new opportunities if you don’t have the right support.

The titles that will make up our initial offerings are each different in terms of content, host and presentation. First, we have Media Noise with Demetri Ravanos, which has produced over 75 episodes over the past year and a half. That show will continue in its current form, being released each Friday. Next will be the arrival of The Sports Talkers Podcast with Stephen Strom which will debut on Thursday June 23rd, the day of the NBA Draft. After that, The Producer’s Podcast with Brady Farkas will premiere on Wednesday June 29th. Then as we move into July, two more titles will be added, starting with a new sales focused podcast Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves. The final title to be added to the rotation will be The Jason Barrett Podcast which yours truly will host. The goal is to have five weekly programs distributed through our website and across all podcasting platforms by mid to late July.

I am excited about the creation of each of these podcasts but this won’t be the last of what we do. We’re already working on additional titles for late summer or early fall to ramp up our production to ten weekly shows. Once a few ideas and discussions get flushed out, I’ll have more news to share with you. I may consider adding even more to the mix too at some point. If you have an idea that you think would resonate with media professionals and aspiring broadcasters, email me by clicking here.

One thing I want to point out, this network will focuses exclusively on various areas of the sports media industry. We’ll leave mainstream sports conversations to the rest of the media universe. That’s not a space I’m interested in pursuing. We’ve focused on a niche since arriving on the scene in 2015 and have no plans to waver from it now.

Additionally, you may have noticed that we now refer to our company as ‘Barrett Media’. That’s because we are now involved in both sports and news media. That said, we are branding this as the BSM Podcast Network because the titles and content are sports media related. Maybe there will be a day when we introduce a BNM version of this, but right now, we’ve got to make sure the first one works right before exploring new territory.

Our commitment to delivering original industry news, features and opinions in print form remains unchanged. This is simply an opportunity to grow in an area where we’ve been less active. I know education for industry folks and those interested in entering the business is important. It’s why young people all across the country absorb mountains of debt to receive a college education. As valuable as those campus experiences might be, it’s a different world once you enter the broadcasting business.

What I’d like to remind folks is that we continue to make investments in the way we cover, consult, and discuss the media industry because others invest in us. It’d be easy to stockpile funds and enjoy a few more vacations but I’m not worried about personal wealth. I’m focused on building a brand that does meaningful work by benefitting those who earn a living in the media industry or are interested in one day doing so. As part of that process I’m trying to connect our audience to partners who provide products, services or programs that can benefit them.

Since starting this brand, we’ve written more than 18,000 articles. We now cover two formats and produce more than twenty five pieces of content per day. The opportunity to play a small role in keeping media members and future broadcasters informed is rewarding but we could not pay people to edit, write, and host podcasts here if others didn’t support us. For that I’m extremely grateful to those who do business with us either as a consulting client, website advertiser, Summit partner or through a monthly or annual membership. The only way to get better is to learn from others, and if our access to information, knowledge, relationships and professional opinions helps others and their brands, then that makes what we do worthwhile.

Thanks as always for the continued support. We appreciate that you read our content each day, and hope to be able to earn some of your listenership in the future too.

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Barrett Blogs

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Pursuing Media Jobs

“Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.”

Jason Barrett

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I recently appeared on a podcast, Monetize Media, to discuss the growth of Barrett Media. The conversation covered a lot of ground on business topics including finding your niche, knowing your audience and serving them the right content in the right locations, the evolution of the BSM Summit, and why consulting is a big part of our mix but can’t be the only thing we do.

Having spent nearly seven years growing this brand, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just know what’s worked for us, and it starts with vision, hard work, consistency, and a willingness to adapt quickly. There are many areas we can be better in whether it’s social media, editing, SEO, sales, finding news, producing creative original content or adding more staff. Though there’s always work to be done and challenges to overcome, when you’re doing something you love and you’re motivated to wake up each day doing it, that to me is success.

But lately there’s one part of the job that I haven’t enjoyed – the hiring process. Fortunately in going through it, I was able to get to know Arky Shea. He’s a good guy, talented writer, and fan of the industry, and I’m thrilled to share that he’s joining us as BSM’s new night time editor. I’ll have a few other announcements to make later this month, but in the meantime, if you’re qualified to be an editor or social media manager, I’m still going through the process to add those two positions to our brand. You can learn more about both jobs by clicking here.

Working for an independent digital brand like ours is different from working for a corporation. You communicate directly with yours truly, and you work remotely on a personal computer, relying on your eyes, ears and the radio, television, and internet to find content. Because our work appears online, you have to enjoy writing, and understand and have a passion for the media industry, the brands who produce daily content, and the people who bring those brands to life. We receive a lot of interest from folks who see the words ‘sports’ and ‘news’ in our brand names and assume they’re going to cover games or political beats. They quickly discover that that’s not what we do nor are we interested in doing it.

If you follow us on social media, have visited our website or receive our newsletters, you’ve likely seen us promoting openings with the brand. I’ve even bought ads on Indeed, and been lucky enough to have a few industry folks share the posts on social. We’re in a good place and trying to make our product better, so to do that, we need more help. But over the past two months, Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.

Receiving applications from folks who don’t have a firm grasp of what we do is fine. That happens everywhere. Most of the time we weed those out. It’s no different than when a PD gets an application for a top 5 market hosting gig from a retail employee who’s never spoken on a microphone. The likelihood of that person being the right fit for a role without any experience of how to do the job is very slim. What’s been puzzling though is seeing how many folks reach out to express interest in opportunities, only to discover they’re not prepared, not informed or not even interested in the role they’ve applied for.

For instance, one applicant told me on a call ‘I’m not interested in your job but I knew getting you on the phone would be hard, and I figured this would help me introduce myself because I know I’m a great host, and I’d like you to put me on the radar with programmers for future jobs.’ I had another send a cover letter that was addressed to a different company and person, and a few more applied for FT work only to share that they can’t work FT, weren’t interested in the work that was described in the position, didn’t know anything about our brand but needed a gig, were looking for a confidence boost after losing a job or they didn’t have a computer and place to operate.

At first I thought this might be an exclusive issue only we were dealing with. After all, our brand and the work we do is different from what happens inside of a radio or TV station. In some cases, folks may have meant well and intended something differently than what came out. But after talking to a few programmers about some of these things during the past few weeks, I’ve been stunned to hear how many similar horror stories exist. One top programmer told me hiring now is much harder than it was just five years ago.

I was told stories of folks applying for a producer role at a station and declining an offer unless the PD added air time to the position. One person told a hiring manager they couldn’t afford not to hire them because their ratings were tanking. One PD was threatened for not hiring an interested candidate, and another received a resume intended for the competing radio station and boss. I even saw one social example last week of a guy telling a PD to call him because his brand was thin on supporting talent.

Those examples I just shared are bad ideas if you’re looking to work for someone who manages a respected brand. I realize everyone is different, and what clicks with one hiring manager may not with another, but if you have the skills to do a job, I think you’ll put yourself in a better position by avoiding these 5 mistakes below. If you’re looking for other ways to enhance your chances of landing an opportunity, I recommend you click here.

Educate Yourself Before Applying – take some time to read the job description, and make sure it aligns with your skillset and what you’re looking to do professionally before you apply. Review the company’s body of work and the people who work there. Do you think this is a place you’d enjoy being at? Does it look like a job that you’d gain personal and professional fulfillment from? Are you capable of satisfying the job requirements? Could it potentially put you on the path to greater opportunities? If most of those produce a yes, it’s likely a situation to consider.

Proofread Your Email or Cover Letter and Resume – If the first impression you give a hiring manager is that you can’t spell properly, and you address them and their brand by the wrong names, you’re telling them to expect more mistakes if they hire you. Being detail oriented is important in the media business. If this is your introduction to someone and they have a job you’re interested in, you owe it to yourself to go through your materials thoroughly before you press send. If you can have someone else put an extra set of eyes on your introduction to protect you from committing a major blunder even better.

Don’t Waste People’s Time – You’d be annoyed if a company put you through a 3-4 week process only to tell you they didn’t see you as a viable candidate right? Well, it works the other way too. If you’re not seriously interested in the job or you’re going into the process hoping to change the job description later, don’t apply. If the fit isn’t right or the financials don’t work, that’s OK. Express that. People appreciate transparency. Sometimes they may even call you back in the future when other openings become available. But if you think someone is going to help you after you wasted their time or lied to them, trust me, they won’t.

Don’t Talk Like An Expert About Things You Don’t Know – Do you know why a station’s ratings or revenue is down? Are you aware of the company’s goals and if folks on the inside are satisfied or upset? Is the hiring manager someone you know well enough to have a candid professional conversation with? If the answers are no, you’re not helping your case by talking about things you don’t have full knowledge of. You have no idea how the manager you’re talking to has been dealing with the challenges he or she is faced with so don’t pretend you do. Just because someone wrote an article about it and you read it doesn’t mean you’re informed.

Use Social Wisely – Being frustrated that you didn’t get a job is fine. Everyone goes through it. Asking your friends and followers for advice on social of how you could’ve made a better case for yourself is good. That shows you’re trying to learn from the process to be better at it next time. But taking to social to write a book report blasting the hiring manager, their brand, and/or their company over a move that didn’t benefit you just tells them they made the right move by not bringing you in. Chances are, they won’t be calling you in the future either.

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