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The Best BSM Columns Of 2021

“We picked out our favorite things written by each other this year.”

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Well gang, we made it to the end of 2021. It is amazing how getting to do just slightly more than we could last year made this one fly by. Now, like many of you, all of us here at BSM are enjoying some well-earned time off.

Remember that exercise from jurnior high or high school where a teacher would have you exchange test papers with someone who sat next to you and you would then grade each other? Well, I asked our writers to do that.

We all went through the site in pairs, looking at every column we posted in 2021. We picked out our favorite things written by each other this year.

Here are the best columns of 2021 according to the BSM columnists.


WHERE ARE THE SPORTS RADIO PROGRAMMERS OF TOMORROW? by Jason Barrett

JB didn’t write much in 2021. We had a business to run, after all. But quantity doesn’t matter if the quality is undeniable. Maybe it is selfish, but my favorite piece he wrote came just two months ago when he asked where the next generation of PDs will come from. It’s selfish because A) I think it is my next step at some point and B) it touches on a problem that I have been pointing out for years. The support staff is an afterthought to an afterthought at a lot of companies. The format’s future is in jeopardy if we aren’t thinking about tomorrow right now. I am glad JB put a spotlight on the issue! – Demetri Ravanos

DON’T BE MARK ZUCKERBERG by Demetri Ravanos

I listed Demetri’s column “Don’t Be Mark Zuckerberg” as my favorite of his for 2021 because it shed light on the different ways executives handle big decisions. Some are built to face problems head-on, and willing to risk their professional status with a company to do what they believe is best for the brand. Then there are others who lack the courage and confidence to make tough calls, deferring to others, and trying to draw attention to other things that have a far less significant impact on a brand’s success.

Having seen this situation many times, first as a programmer, and now as a consultant, a brand’s ability to evolve and thrive often comes down to how its leaders tackle key issues. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair once said ‘the art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes‘ and I couldn’t agree more. Radio is a results-oriented business. Leading operations successfully requires an ability to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Mixed opinions will exist internally and externally so all you can do is review the information, weigh the pros and cons, look at the options available to improve a situation, and then trust your gut and make a call. Once you’ve made a decision, you do everything possible to support it and make it work. 

What you can’t do is run from big issues or give people what they want just to avoid confrontation. That ends up hurting the brand worse in the long run and it shows weakness in a leader. For example, if a station can’t attract listeners because the hosts/shows are inferior, no changing of a clock, voice talent, imaging director or brand name is going to solve the problem. The solution is figuring out what the audience wants to hear, and then putting the right people in place to earn more of the public’s time. That was the point Demetri made with Facebook changing its name to Meta. If the biggest issue facing Facebook was a lack of trust from the public and leadership offering minimal solutions to regain their confidence, a silly video and new company name and logo did zero to fix the problem. You can put lipstick on a pig to try and disguise the issue, but people know a pig when they see one. – Jason Barrett

LANDRY LOCKER TAKES SOMETHING FROM EVERYONE by Brian Noe

Brian does an incredible job with these pieces where he interviews industry professionals. I always feel like I’ve added a new layer of insight after reading them, this is what this site is all about. Sharing our experiences- good and bad, coming together and trying to be better at this each day. Landry shares his journey through radio, work ethic, and the experiences that have allowed him to grow in a desirable sports market. We all want to be unique but in order to get better, you’ve got to take bits from everyone you admire along the way. Great read. – Brandon Kravitz

DOING NOTHING IS DOING SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF by Brandon Kravitz

Brandon Kravitz shared a great piece of advice in his November column, “Doing Nothing Is Doing Something For Yourself.” It’s important to take a break and live life instead of just being a sports or work junkie. The funny thing is that unplugging from sports to watch a movie or go to the zoo can still be utilized on a sports talk show. Examples of life experiences can be tied to sports topics and make hosts sound like — I don’t know — human freaking beings. Brandon cautions us to avoid burnout and diminished versions of ourselves, and promotes the art of a break. It’s great advice to follow. – Brian Noe

WHAT DOES LIFE IN THE METAVERSE MEAN TO SPORTS? by Jeremy Evans

The rapid expansion of the virtual world is both exciting and scary at the same time.  The emergence of online interactive events, NFT’s, crypto and other recent innovations are creating not only a new world, but possibly a new reality.  I hope that, as we continue to expand into this “Metaverse”, the stewards of this technology proceed with caution.  Jeremy had a great line: “Being an ethical manager is just as important as being a great inventor.” – Ryan Maguire

SIX CHARACTERISTICS EVERY PODCAST SHOULD HAVE by Ryan Maguire

Ryan does wonderful work at keeping it simple, while explaining important business principles that apply to podcast growth and development.  Good podcasting requires skill, content, and strategy, which Ryan highlights well. – Jeremy Evans

DAN DAKICH IS INDIANAPOLIS’S MOST FAMOUS DELIVERY BOY by Tyler McComas

Anytime a fellow Barrett Sports Media writer makes national news with his article on our site, it’s worth reading. Tyler McComas minded his own business hosting pm drive on SportsTalk 1400 in Norman, Oklahoma, when he wrote his weekly article for Barrett Sports Media. He had gotten a tip from his Barrett Sports Media partners and wrote a breaking story. Dan Dakich Is Indianapolis’s Most Famous Delivery Boy broke the news that the controversial Dakich, an ESPN basketball color man and radio host, was punishing himself by working for DoorDash. The article was quoted by Yahoo, Indy Star, and others. It is an excellent read about Dakich, who at the time, 5/20/21, was fresh off a controversy two months earlier about a Twitter fight he got into with a female college professor. – Jeff Caves

THE LETTER EVERY YOUNG SELLER SHOULD RECEIVE by Jeff Caves

I love this story by Jeff because it gives an accurate an realistic note to young sellers in the business. That can mean someone just entering sales on the radio side, or even a show host that’s really had the ambition to help on the sales side. One part that hit home was the message that experience will help you filter what to chase and what not to chase. I can see Jeff’s point. As a young seller, it probably feels like you’ll promise anything and everything to the buyer, even if it means if you’re not valuing the company and selling for a massively discounted rate. That can create a slippery slope, especially in smaller markets, where business owners talk. If one owner is getting one price, and the guy across the street has been a longer client but paying more for less, that can create an awkward and unfavorable situation. Jeff knows how to sell. But most importantly, he knows how to best use his time. That’s easily one of the most important thing in sales. – Tyler McComas

DICK VITALE IS GETTING BACK ALL THE LOVE HE GAVE by Andy Masur

My favorite piece of Andy’s this year was his recent story on ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale, who has been battling lymphoma since October after battling cancer previously. Andy tells the story of a longtime college basketball analyst, dedicated to his craft and the game, who helped grow ESPN into what it is today. Vitale has been open about his disease on social media, and often puts out inspirational messages for his followers to hear and updates about his treatment. Through his battle, Vitale has been able to return to the booth for select games, and has received standing ovations from crowds at each games and messages of encouragement and support during this tough time. Please enjoy this piece by Andy Masur titled “Dick Vitale is getting back all the love he gave,” and allow his story to inspire you to fight through your own battles, including this devastating global pandemic, by keeping a positive resolve and willingness to keep fighting. – Derek Futterman

FOUR HOSTS ANSWER FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT FACEBOOK by Derek Futterman

I really enjoyed Derek Futterman’s article dated October 11, 2021 in which “4 Sports Radio Hosts Answer 5 Questions About Facebook”. With Facebook in the news quite a bit around that time, the immediacy of how the platform is used in the industry was extremely relevant. I’ve often contemplated the same question about how much access I let my listeners have of me on Facebook. The article also is a cautionary tale to those looking to get hired about what they post, giving a future employer a glimpse at the potential hire’s presence on the site. I thought the line of questioning was extremely balanced and the answers Derek got to these questions were insightful and helpful. – Andy Masur

BSM Writers

Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content

Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.

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USA Today

When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.

“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.

Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:

1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”

2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.

The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.

I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.

Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”

There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.

First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.

The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.

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BSM Writers

The Client Just Said YES, Now What?

We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.

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One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!

We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.

When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.

They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.

A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 74

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This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.

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