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2022 BSM Summit – March 2, 2022 (Day 1)

“Check back throughout the day for updated details from Day 1 of the 2022 BSM Summit.”

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Jason Barrett welcomes the attendees to the 2022 BSM Summit. Planning the Summit was difficult with COVID creating difficulties, but it’s good to be among people again. That leads into the first panel discussion on dealing with the pandemic featuring Spike Eskin, Kevin Graham, Mitch Rosen, and Dave Tepper.

9:10-9:50 – Programming Through a Pandemic presented by

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  • Spike Eskin – WFAN
  • Kevin Graham – KNBR
  • Mitch Rosen – 670 The Score
  • Dave Tepper – Altitude Sports Radio 92.5

Dave Tepper – Altitude Sports Radio 92.5
We worked with the Nuggets and the Avalanche for inventory, documentary programming, archived games to fill air time. The teams were cooperative in getting us content and it was successful.

The pandemic also presented an opportunity to get creative and see what else we could talk about, let the listeners determine what the discussion was. The hosts who weren’t all in, it didn’t quite work. But we eventually found a way through it, how to talk about sports in a different way.

Digitally, we have been growing. Clients have been responding. Ratings may not say we’re a top 10 station, but we’re top 10 in revenue because of the digital audience and being able to monetize that.

Mitch Rosen – 670 The Score
We played games from the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 playoff run and people enjoyed that. The NBA was cooperative in letting us air Chicago Bulls games, which was perfect because The Last Dance was playing on ESPN, everyone wanted to talk about those games.

We’ve learned to continue pushing the stream. People have responded. They’ve gotten used to it. Get talent to promote it, just like anything that’s over the air. The audience is there.

Spike Eskin – WFAN
Games didn’t work for us. WIP is based on arguing and debate. But the team came together and I used some tricks from my music days. We got everybody at the station to talk about the same topic. Leaning into debate and the central community hub really worked out.

Kevin Graham – KNBR
We’re personality driven, our listeners are used to that, so they responded. Building a staff, learning a market was difficult while relocating. On-air talent was all remote. Communication was crucial, reaching out to staff, talking to people. That’s all you could do.

Talent talking about their lives, what was happening in the world, risked dividing the audience. But giving strong opinions made good content that listeners could relate to and responded.

Digital ratings went through the roof and we had the data to prove it. But Nielsen was telling us no one was listening. They weren’t in their cars, they weren’t going to the office. But we knew people were listening.

9:50-10:25 – Understanding Gen-Z Sports Radio Users presented by

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  • Leigh Jacobs – NuVoodoo
  • Carolyn Gilbert – NuVoodoo

Carolyn Gilbert
Ratings Prospects Study broke down the audience across Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.

Current car audio systems make it more difficult to find AM radio. For Gen Z, easier to connect to a device and get to the content they want. To reach that audience, programmers have to be device-agnostic. Listeners are not devoted to traditional radio, legacy media.

Participation in sports is important for Gen Z listeners. Playing basketball or video gaming is reflected in the content they listen to and seek out. NBA, in particular, is big among this age group. In local markets, talking about your team and its players, gets strong support.

For connected cars increasingly popular with younger listeners, stations should get car dealer clients to pre-install apps so consumers don’t have to worry about finding content, navigating the dial or menu.

Leigh Jacobs
Social media has shown that younger listeners, Gen Z, are willing to find content anywhere they can find it. They’re the first to know what you’re doing.

Gen Z is spending much more time with podcasts, and the No. 1 place to find a podcast is in their car, using Bluetooth and the aux port. They haven’t interacted with a radio in their lifetime. Gen Z does not see a difference between podcasts and radio.

The biggest problem for Gen Z: Content they don’t connect to. They’ll tune out or quickly move on to something else they like. Casual fans connect to the NBA, NFL, and college football. Women’s sports are growing in popularity, though audience is still male-dominated.

Talk to the audience to find out what topics are important to them. Bad topics are worse than playing commercials to Gen Z listeners. Show up at events for live broadcasts, something podcasts can’t do. Be among the people, be a presence on social media.

10:25-11:00 – The State of Media Advertising presented by

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  • Gordon Borrell – Borrell Associates
  • Steven Goldstein – Amplifi Media

Steven Goldstein – Amplifi Media
Sports radio listeners are 37 percent more likely to be podcast consumers compared to the average American. 91 percent of sports listeners are likely to listen to sports podcasts. Those in the sports content business have an advantage over other formats.

Radio has to carve out space in digital advertising because TV, newspapers, local publications are producing podcasts too and going after those clients.

Gordon Borrell – Borrell Associates
The overall message from data is that the advertising world is changing. Businesses are hiring people to handle their media because advertising is on Google and Facebook. Only the big brands are currently breaking through as exceptions.

Messaging needs to be broader because there are so many more opportunities available now. But 95 percent of those opportunities are in the digital space, not in traditional media like radio, newspapers, and television.

Radio interprets the digital opportunity as podcasting. Stations need to realize they’re in the information business in what they provide for listeners, for advertising to reach them, not just talk sports or report news. The Gen Z audience is too media-savvy for traditional forms of advertising and can be reached through podcasting, video, social media, even audio streams. So radio sellers must focus on digital — video, targeted banners — with current and new customers.

After a quick break, the 2022 BSM Summit returns for its next session.

11:15-11:50 – Kings of Content presented by

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  • Fred Toucher – 98.5 The Sports Hub
  • Mike Felger – 98.5 The Sports Hub

Jason Barrett congratulates Mike Felger on Felger & Mazz winning the inaugural Mike and the Mad Dog Award that recognizes sports radio’s best local show.

Mike Felger – 98.5 The Sports Hub
When The Sports Hub first came on, having non-Boston fans allowed talent to take different angles on local stories, rather than just cheer on the city’s teams and athletes. We reset the topics — Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox — constantly for a fervent audience that’s constantly tuning in, many in their car. Whatever of those four teams or topics is most important, we’re talking about that.

We take a lot of calls, but I like to do it quick, keep it fresh so it doesn’t linger. We come at sports with a more tabloid approach, having both worked at the Boston Herald. We’re not radio guys, we’re not broadcasters. But we can drive a sports segment. I don’t do second and third sports topics. I try to stick to the top two stories of the day. We don’t worry about keeping it fresh. It’s fresh for the guy getting in his car at five o’ clock.

I hate guests. Guests slow us down. We used to have Cam Neely, he got so sick of our shit that he quit. We don’t bring on beat guys. I hate doing phone interviews because the phone usually cuts out. If we do talk to people, we like to bring them in the studio.

Embrace debate? – We don’t talk beforehand. We have an email chain, but are always saying “Don’t talk, don’t talk.” Because, as you know, it’s so hard to go through it the second time. Tony and I don’t argue much. We tend to agree. I think the debate stuff can be overrated. But taking on fans, like the Baby Patriot fans, the Celtics fans we call “the Green Teamers,” that’s where the arguing comes in.

Fred Toucher – 98.5 The Sports Hub
We don’t reset as much on our show. Coming from rock radio probably influences that. But we don’t do take-driven radio, we don’t take phone calls. Mike’s show works much better in the afternoon as people are into the day. We have a much more passive audience in the morning.

We do a lot of stupid shit. Drunk fans. People in their driveway staring at a squirrel. I can’t do four hours of serious sports content like Mike. If we were on in the afternoon, we wouldn’t do nearly as well.

The six o’ clock hour is just nonsense, whatever is on our minds. Then we’ll get into the news of the day. We’ll have guests, but they have to be good on the air. The way our show works, Rich will bring something up and I will react to it.

The importance of sharing your life – I had to explain that I was going away. I was going to rehab. But I try to censor a lot of that now. My kids are older. But I was going through a bad time. We were at the height of COVID. Things weren’t going well at home. You have a relationship with the listeners and I found that extremely helpful when I came back. My suggestion is to not overshare on the air. That’s a mistake. I’ve put the brakes on that.

11:50-12:15 – BSM Summit Awards Ceremony presented by

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The Champion’s AwardAdam Schefter, ESPN

Adam Schefter’s efforts in raising money for Jeff Dickerson’s son, Parker after he passed away, reaching out to the media community, to generate a tremendous amount of support is recognized.

Schefter was unable to attend the BSM Summit because he’s covering the NFL Draft Combine, but thanked those who donated on Parker’s behalf via video. The breathtaking number of donations was an example of the good social media can do, he said. Schefter dedicates the award to them.

The Jeff Smulyan AwardTraug Keller, former SVP of ESPN Radio

A video tribute to Jeff Smulyan includes many personalities from the radio world who credit him for creating the sports talk format at WFAN. The award in his honor goes to someone who has led, taken risks, and produced results in the industry. Smulyan then takes the stage to introduce Traug Keller, joking that he objected to Keller being chosen because he doesn’t work in radio.

“There is no one who is more deserving of this award than Traug Keller,” Smulyan said. Leading ESPN Audio, Keller expanded the brand beyond radio to television (via simulcast) and podcasting, creating a product that has made a major impact on the sports audio industry.

Accepting the Smulyan Award, Keller notes the “great seats” he’s had during his career at ESPN and praises the many people he’s worked with who have helped him in his success. Keller makes a comparison to this season’s Providence College basketball team and how he’s noticed that they’ve won because they enjoy working with each other. It’s something that applies to his career and something we all can learn from in our respective endeavors.

The 2022 BSM Summit takes a one-hour lunch, and then returns for the second half, led off by a conversation with ESPN’s top boss, Jimmy Pitaro.

1:30-2:15 – The Day 1 Keynote Conversation presented by

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  • Jimmy Pitaro – ESPN Chairman

Jason Barrett begins by asking Pitaro by asking when the Derek Jeter Cast starts and if Tom Brady will join ESPN’s NFL talent crew. Pitaro won’t comment on exact moves, but points out that the network’s inventory of NFL telecasts is increasing with its new rights deal, including more regular-season and playoff games, in addition to two upcoming Super Bowls.

The state of ESPN+ – Pitaro says the ESPN app is crucial to the network, the jewel of its content. It provides access to ESPN+ and ESPN Audio. ESPN+ is driven by live events, including exclusive UFC and La Liga events. The network will continue pursuing more rights for ESPN+, in addition to its studio shows.

In his view, ESPN needs to boost its marketing strategy for the 30 for 30 catalog, which he feels not enough people know is available on ESPN+. Pitaro believes 30 for 30 needs to be promoted by Disney along with Marvel and Star Wars content.

The future of alternate broadcasts – The “ManningCast” is a rising tide. ESPN’s internal data shows viewers switch back and forth between the regular Monday Night Football broadcast and the “ManningCast.” Golf, college football, and UFC are among the other sports that will get alternate broadcasts as part of ESPN’s deal with Omaha Productions.

“Serve the sports fan any time, anywhere.” Alternate broadcasts are a big part of ESPN’s future.

ESPN’s relationship with the NFL – Pitaro is proud of the new rights deal with the league that’s increased the inventory available to viewers and also provided the opportunity for flex scheduling that didn’t exist with previous deals. But relationships can always be improved, and ESPN will continue trying to do that. (He believes the narrative that ESPN needed to “fix” things with the NFL when he took over as the network’s president was overblown.)

Pitaro isn’t worried about over-saturation of the NFL product. If Amazon does well with Thursday Night Football, in Pitaro’s view, that helps ESPN and Monday Night Football. There was concern years ago that there was too much NFL product being offered and maybe there was some fan fatigue. But that no longer appears to be a question and ESPN is in a good position to benefit — and continue to benefit from its relationship to the NFL.

ESPN Radio’s constantly changing lineup – Stability is important. Listeners and programmers want to know that a show, a lineup of talent, will be consistent for a long term. The network feels good about its current lineup, that it’s close to stability. The deal with Good Karma Brands will help with local programming, which is still a priority for the network in addition to national content.

ESPN should be present on all platforms, traditional radio and podcasts. Terrestrial radio is as important now as it was 30 years ago, when ESPN Radio launched. It’s no different than ESPN is doing with linear television and streaming with ESPN+. Parallel paths is the philosophy.

The state of television measurement – ESPN will not shift away from Nielsen to measure ratings. The network signed up for the NielsenOne product. But there needs to be cross-platform data. The audience has to be tracked and data provided to advertisers through a number of services, not just one. ESPN will benefit from multiple partners.

2:15-2:50 – Inside The Corner Office presented by

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  • Chris Oliviero – Audacy New York
  • Mike Thomas – Audacy Boston
  • Joe Bell – Beasley Media Group Philadelphia
  • Scott Sutherland – Bonneville International

Chris Oliviero – Audacy New York
Lessons from the pandemic – Losing revenue, losing listeners during the pandemic was humbling. I hope we take that humility into what we’re doing now and into the future. Not panicking may have been the most important lesson learned.

The importance of play-by-play for a station – Play-by-play deals can’t be made emotionally. Think of it logically. Radio play-by-play is much different from television play-by-play. Hardly any play-by-play airs during radio’s most important times, so the majority of content budget can’t be spent on something that doesn’t broadcast during non-prime hours.

Retaining and hiring talent – Don’t wait until the last minute to renew a contract. If you know the talent is special, why play that game of chicken? Don’t run the risk of someone coming along and snatching that talent away. And don’t risk hurting relationships.

Mike Thomas – Audacy Boston
Lessons from the pandemic – The pandemic helped digital growth tremendously. Our listeners are not in their cars anymore, which was their No. 1 place for hearing us. With smart phones and smart speakers, there’s been a major change in the audience.

Retaining and hiring talent – As there are more options for listeners, there are many more options for talent too. Some of the most talented guys are doing podcasts now. If you like the talent, growing that relationship over a number of years is vital.

Joe Bell – Beasley Media Group Philadelphia
Lessons from the pandemic – Reaching out to clients during the pandemic, asking them how we could help, strengthened our relationships with advertisers.

The importance of play-by-play for a station – Play-by-play begins by having a true relationshp with the team whose broadcasts we’re pursuing. Play-by-play is important to the success of a sports station, as we’re seeing with James Harden joining the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s really driving sports talk in our market.

2:50-3:25 – The BIG 12 presented by

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  • Raj Sharan – 104.3 The Fan
  • Sandy Cohen – Union Broadcasting
  • Ryan Hurley – 98.7 ESPN NY
  • Rod Lakin – Sports Radio WIP

How did programmers extend their brand, generate engagement to take advantage of interest or provide a boost during slow times, and create stronger relationships with advertisers?

Raj Sharan – 104.3 The Fan
We launched campaigns with the Avalanche and Nuggets, both of whom were great with cooperation and showed interest in reaching fans online. Video became vital to creating these campaigns. We could create video around our regular radio shows, but also produce original programming for the website, but also Facebook and Twitter. But on-air talent is important. You really need the right host and we had that with Rachel Vigil.

Sandy Cohen – Union Broadcasting
Campaigns are built around events, such as the Kansas City Chiefs season. That included video studio programming. Listeners and viewers responded, and so did advertisers when they toured the studio and saw the online product. We can create a space for a client to be an anchor sponsor. But finding the right sponsor who sees a potential audience is key.

Ryan Hurley – 98.7 ESPN NY
Our jobs are to entertain and to create revenue. Events have helped attract listeners and clients. Some events were exclusives for listeners who won spots on the air. Spaces are created for clients in the campaigns.

Weekly paid guests also have live appearances in their deals. For instance, Sam Darnold (when he played for the Jets) did a private Zoom during COVID. Technology created opportunities to get creative with promotions, even when people couldn’t meet in public. Such events became in-person once it was safe, as we did with Michael Kay.

Rod Lakin – Sports Radio WIP
A virtual tailgate experience was successful for us when I was at Arizona Sports. Exclusive Zoom calls with on-air hosts and special NFL guests. Analysts could come by and join the tailgate. Listeners could win prize packs. Sponsors responded as listeners showed interest and support.

The end of the Philadelphia Eagles’ season created an opportunity after the Super Bowl. Fans were upset and wanted to talk about who the new quarterback could be. “94 WIP Picks the QB” involved listeners and staff making their pitches for the Eagles’ next quarterback. Fans could vote in a poll online. A particular show could be centered on a particular candidate, like Aaron Rodgers. And it built toward Angelo Cataldi making his pick at the end of the campaign. It worked well in generating interest during a typically slow time.

A brief timeout for attendees to recharge, and then we’re back to close up Day 1 of the Summit with two more excellent sessions.

3:40-4:15 – Planting Your Flag In a Digital World presented by

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  • Kevin Jones – Blue Wire
  • Logan Swaim – The Volume
  • Carl Scott – Meadowlark Media
  • Phil Mackey – Hubbard Radio

Carl Scott – Meadowlark Media
Key to making brand stand out – Authenticity is key in breaking through the noise. Be media-agnostic. The best screen wins. Be efficient with your talent. Not every host or show is suited for every platform. But some, like Dan Le Batard, works across platforms.

Value of live content in an on-demand space – Live events make a precious thing for us. It’s an opportunity for fans to get together, create excitement for the two times a week that Dan does a live show on YouTube. We can also create content around live events, like leading up to the Super Bowl or the national championship game.

When you know something isn’t working – I like to look at weekly downloads, where you should see some increase if something is doing well. Is it moving upward, especially if there are more shows available and people can binge? If people decide they don’t want to listen to more, that’s usually a sign.

Logan Swaim – The Volume
Biggest opportunity to connect with the audience – Barriers to entry have disappeared. In the past, to find talent, you’d have to be an exec who gets tapes. There were steps to follow to discover talent or have talent reach you. Now, with social media, we can find talent much more easily, sometimes almost unintentionally.

Value of live content in an on-demand space – With YouTube and live content, you’re creating appointment television. There’s an immediacy, an excitement behind that. Live also creates a community of online fans who like to talk shit to each other, consume something in real time.

Kevin Jones – Blue Wire
The role of video – We’re finding our most success, discovering talent on Tik Tok. On YouTube, we’re looking more for existing creators, someone who covers Syracuse basketball, as an example, not trying to figure out a fit.

Predictions for sports media content – Amazon, Apple, and Hulu are getting more into national video content because they don’t have a local component. You’re going to see those companies get into live sports in a big way, which they’ve already started. As those large companies snatch up big broadcast rights, that creates spaces to work in for new content.

When you know something isn’t working – We’ve had some projects that we had to take out behind the barn and say goodbye to. Downloads probably tell you, especially early on, if there’s an audience. But we’ve shut some things down when they didn’t do what we hoped.

4:15-4:50 – Finding Diverse Leaders and Influencers presented by

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  • Pablo Torre – ESPN
  • David Roberts – ESPN
  • Debbie Brown – Good Karma Brands

As the population becomes less white, local radio stations, on-air talent, and program directors need to reflect that change. More new blood needs to be discovered and hired. Right now, on-air hosts aren’t adjusting with the times. If the audience is changing, programming needs to adapt to the market.

Pablo Torre – ESPN
This is not a profession I ever thought I would be in. People would hear I worked at ESPN and assumed I worked in tech support, not writing or on the air. But don’t make diverse hires just because you feel guilty. There are plenty of candidates out there who don’t need that.

I’m earnestly grateful to hear from people who tell me that I’ve shown them that this is a possible career for them, which is something they didn’t think before. Every time I get that kind of message from a young person, it means the world to me.

David Roberts – ESPN
Diversity in radio – There’s room for improvement. The numbers underscore the opportunity available. Diversity is not just something done to check a box. It’s something that can help your business. Commitment to diversity requires that the net for applicants be broad.

Using Get Up as an example, it drew an audience of 15 percent African American at first. But the numbers told us the audience was 45 percent. So we had to change and as more faces of color got on those shows — the Stephen A. Smiths, the Marcus Spears — the audience grew. People want to see people like them on the screen.

Looking for talent in local markets – Instead of just going to minority conferences or sending minority talent there to recruit, attend those conferences. You need to go and recruit, meet the people who could make a future impact. Maybe that talent won’t resonate, but the playing field has been leveled and then you can make decisions the way you did before.

Debbie Brown – Good Karma Brands
On prioritizing representation – In the past, hiring might be based on who you’d like to have a beer with. That doesn’t apply anymore. We’re doing well, but we can do better. Representation has to be at the top. The table has to be bigger.

We’re in the process of updating our internship program. Previously, it was an unpaid internship program but that really limits the number of candidates who can apply. So we’re changing to a paid program to attract a greater number of applicants. And we’re expanding the pool to community colleges, areas where we may not have heard from before, not just the largest universities.

When we identify a candidate, we have them talk to a number of other people in that organization, usually four other people, and look at them for a variety of roles to see if they could be good for other jobs they may not have considered. It’s also important that the people they talk to are diverse, to open everyone up to a variety of experience.

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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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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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