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2022 BSM Summit – March 3, 2022 (Day 2)

“Check back throughout the day for updates on all of the latest developments from day two of the 2022 BSM Summit.”

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Jason Barrett takes the stage to introduce Day 2 of the BSM Summit, thanking the partners who helped make this event happen. Jason announces that the 11:15 a.m. ET “Dominating Digital” will only be WWE’s Steve Braband as ESPN’s Mike Foss was unable to attend.

But the big news is that Mike and the Mad Dog, Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, will reunite for the awards ceremony beginning at 11:50 a.m to present the Mike & the Mad Dog Award to Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti for the country’s best local sports show.

Already planning for next year’s BSM Summit, the location has not yet been determined. But it will take place out west.

Jason shares data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear study that shows younger listeners gravitating toward podcasts, while older consumers are sticking with radio. Yet the overall takeway is good news: Audio listening is increasing across demographics and regions.

9:10-9:50 – The Power Panel Revisited presented by

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  • Jeff Sottolano – Audacy
  • Steve Cohen – SiriusXM
  • Bruce Gilbert – Cumulus Media/Westwood One
  • Don Martin – iHeart Media/Premiere Radio Networks/FOX Sports Radio

Jeff Sottolano – Audacy
Outlets need to focus on distribution, how to reach the audience that is increasingly going to podcasts rather than listening to radio. But that presents an opportunity. The ears are there; they’ve just moved.

We need to spend less time thinking about the boxes and more about the content that goes into those boxes. How much content ends up going into the ether? But with clips, we can make sure that content is available and listeners can find, for instance, everything we have on the New York Giants.

We need to be audience-agnostic. Listeners increasingly care less about where they’re getting audio.

How can new program directors, brand managers be developed? – We need to make sure roles are established and restored, so that pathways are available for those managers to develop. We have to invest in people with leadership potential. That applies to talent as well.

Don Martin – iHeart Media/ Premiere Radio Networks/FOX Sports Radio
We have a massive platform for podcasting. Colin Cowherd is an example who is working across mediums — radio, podcasts, social media, video — to reach different segments of the audience.

The infighting within our game needs to stop. It’s all the same business. On-demand podcasts and radio content aren’t separate; they just provide different value depending on where and when you’re listening. We make the message. How do we move this forward together?

Companies must invest in the back end. You need to put a great team together to push the content, to push the talent.

How can new program directors, brand managers be developed? – We need self-starters. People have to want it and go get it. It’s not up to us to make young people care, potential managers care. They have to care. We can teach them the rest. But it starts there and we can take them to the top.

Bruce Gilbert – Cumulus Media/Westwood One
Some talent is better at unique podcast content than others. So a podcast strategy is necessary. Who at the operation is best suited to carry that initiative out? Content is important, but distribution is king. It has to be available where people can find it.

For metrics, what we get is a small sampling of the actual audience. But the cream rises to the top, which is what the charts and data show. Talent, branding, and distribution is the most important.

Nielsen is doing the best it can, but the sample is way too small. There’s a lot of anecedotal information, but we need more analytics. Behavior needs to be measured. Where are people listening? What are they doing while listening. It’s important to be everywhere.

Steve Cohen – SiriusXM
My job is to get you listening wherever you are. Ultimately, this comes down to talent and giving the audience the programming it wants. But what we do with podcasting is different from radio, providing “snackable” content to meet the needs of the audience. Live doesn’t matter as much anymore for sports talk.

It all starts off with programming. Look at movies. Something can be No. 1, but it’s a bad movie. But it was promoted well. People were told about it. There was a game plan. The company believed in the product.

Do ratings matter? – The important thing to determine is “Do you like my radio show? Are you listening to my radio show?” If the fans listening to our channels like that programming, we’re doing our job. But we have to stay on top of what’s going on. Pat McAfee was huge for us. That was a game-changer. It showed us there was a different way to do this.

9:50-10:25 – Betting on Sports Media presented by

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  • Ari Borod – Fanatics
  • Brian Angiolet – DraftKings
  • Mike Raffensperger – FanDuel

— Moderated by Joe Fortenbaugh of ESPN’s Daily Wager

Mike Raffensperger – FanDuel
Fantasy sports have a built-in, unique advantage in creating sports betting content, reaching those customers.

Our content partnerships continue to grow. What helps is that even for people who aren’t sports bettors, sports betting content is interesting content and we can utilize that. Personalities who enjoy betting like Charles Barkley can help us, give customers something to hook onto.

Pat McAfee is someone who moves the needle for our business. He’s thinking about things we can launch together, looking ahead to events like March Madness and helping to plan strategy. Talent needs to have an authentic relationship with the audience. We’re not giving him an ad read. He has an active role in reaching out to listeners.

Brian Angiolet – DraftKings
We’ve been successful expanding from Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) content with new products to reach an audience we already have and use that to reach bettors.

To promote our brand, talent has to be at the forefront to present authenticity. But there has to be a mix between traditional campaigns and creating content that reaches the audience in an authentic fashion, rather than just trying to sell something.

What do you value in new partners? – Media companies still tend to look at content as inventory. Relevancy, interpretation, making this more approachable is extremely important. And a live read doesn’t always convey that. We need to work together on ideas.

Ari Borod – Fanatics
What are the best aspects of the fan experience for sports and how do we build on that? Where will those fans be five years from now, 10 years from now?

If a media company or personality goes into partnerships with our companies simply to make money or if our companies just look at how much money can be made, it won’t be as productive. There has to be buy-in on both sides. We have to work harder to educate media markets and the audience.

What do you value in new partners? – The approach has to be, “Let’s do this together.” We know what’s important to us, but they might have an idea of what they want to say.

Joe Fortenbaugh – ESPN
Betting content needs to make sure it educates the audience. “Picks, picks, picks” is reliable content and it’s what people want. But there are so many terms, different sorts of bets that viewers and listeners don’t know about or need to learn about. Future content needs to take that into consideration as it builds.

10:25-11:00 – The Craig Carton Conversation presented by

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  • Craig Carton – WFAN

Act 2 of Carton’s career, doing a show with Evan Roberts – It all started because Bart Scott said no! But there was a thought that because of the success of Mike & the Mad Dog that there had to be hard sports talk in the afternoon, unlike the morning. I disagreed with that. We have to be entertaining. I chose Evan because he represented things I never could or even try to.

How did you know a lighter approach would work in afternoons? – Total ego. I know how to attract an audience. We have to teach the audience what to expect. There’s a whole new audience that doesn’t know what Mike & the Mad Dog.

You can’t quit on what you’re doing. You have to give it three months. You have to train the audience. Sports is the baseline, but if you are tunnel-vision focused on just sports, I think you lose the audience. Not every bit comes out the way I want it to, so I have to look back at how the audience responded.

Twitter is fake. We pay too much attention to what’s going on there. Ratings, phone calls, tell you want the audience wants, what they’re listening to.

My kids don’t know radio exists. That’s a big problem for us going forward. We just have to produce good content and repurpose that content to where people can find it. Pat McAfee does such a good job of repurposing clips, going beyond what the live show is. If he was on radio, he’d be getting killed. We need to do a better job with that. We need to repurpose the best of our content.

Marketing to sports betting listeners – I’m a compulsive gambler. I’ve gone four years without making a wager now. Audacy doesn’t make me read that stuff on the air. They let me do a public service on Saturdays talking about gambling addiction. But I partnered with FanDuel because they’re responsible with their content.

I listen to a lot of gambling shows out there. No offense, but they’re full of shit. The betting expert does not exist. I think the best content is to just talk about the games. We can get into the spreads, but talk about the teams, what’s going on, and make a decision based on the information you have.

Working with program directors, planning shows – We don’t do a good enough job of teaching people how to do radio. It bothers me when I turn on the radio and hear them clearly mailing it in because they didn’t prepare. I’m there three hours before the show; I’m locked in. I know what I’m doing at 4:15.

COVID, in a weird way, exposed who didn’t know what they were talking about. The guys who are still here know what they’re doing. People might know more sports than I do. But they don’t know how to keep an audience.

You have to get out there and figure out what people are talking about. In Philadelphia, we never talked baseball. It was outlawed. You get to New York, you better know baseball. You have to figure out who you are as a show, who you are in a particular market. But who you are on the air doesn’t have to be who you are off the air. Figure out what you do well, what you don’t do well. I can’t read off a script. I know that.

I’m a radio geek. I love radio. We can reach an audience in ways no place else can. Podcasts can’t do it. TV can’t do it. Radio connects with the audience, and I love that. I love radio. I want to do radio for a long time. I missed it. I’m grateful to have been given another opportunity.

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

11:15-11:50 – Dominating Digital presented by

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  • Maggie Gray – CBS Sports Radio
  • Steve Braband – WWE

# Last-minute change: Mike Foss was unable to attend

Steve Braband – WWE
The biggest challenge was educating others while we were educating ourselves. We had to be almost like Kindergarten teachers in educating on digital content, platforms like YouTube, and social media.

Digital and social has come a far way from being the island of misfit toys. So much time and effort has been put into creating these platforms and it’s been gratifying to see how successful it’s been, how it’s broken through. Let people fail. Not everything is going to work. But trying is important. It may end up working for something else. Just don’t repeat those mistakes.

The linear television, documentary, digital, and social teams have to communicate with each other. There can’t be silos where this team is doing one thing and this team is doing another. You have to meet with everyone and discuss strategy, what stories are being pushed, which current stars are being pushed. But we have to understand each department’s goals — What matters to PR, what matters to sales, what matters to partners — and how we can work together.

Tik Tok has presented an opportunity for clips and videos that might not do as well on TV, like bloopers. We had a promo where Rey Mysterio was doing pull-ups in the background and then he fell. That didn’t make it to TV, but we put it on Tik Tok and people loved it. So that’s created a new opportunity and we’re going through our archival video now for moments like that to share.

The Miz is someone who goes to our team and asks how he can help them. What do they want to try? Or he’ll bring ideas to them to see if they could work. If you aren’t following him on Tik Tok, you should. He’s bought all the way in and it’s been really successful. More of our stars are getting that.

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

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The Mark Chernoff AwardRick Radzik, 98.5 The Sports Hub

A video tribute to Mark Chernoff includes highlights from his career, including appearances on Don Imus’s show and WFAN’s Mike & the Mad Dog and Boomer & Gio, and testimony on him pushing the sports radio format forward.

Introducing Rick Radzik, a congratulatory video from 98.5 The Sports Hub executives and on-air talent with praise and compliments plays. Among the remarks: “Best program director ever.” (One employee took the opportunity to say he needs Monday off.)

Accepting the award, Radzik thanks Chernoff, crediting him as a pioneer for the work he did at WFAN, setting a standard and path to success for so many to follow. He thanks the staff at The Sports Hub that helps produce great programming each day and keeps the station running smoothly, allowing everyone to do their best work.

On a personal note, Radzik dedicates the award to his late wife, who fell to cancer three years ago. He thanks her for the perspective she gave him and their daughters on life moving forward.

The Mike & the Mad Dog AwardMike Felger & Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Jason Barrett says he’s been thinking of creating an award to credit local sports radio for a long time. No one did more with the format than Mike & the Mad Dog, “blazing the trail for what so many of us enjoy today.” That leads to a video with a few of Mike and the Mad Dog’s best moments on radio and subsequent reunions on radio and TV, such as on MLB Network’s High Heat.

Mike Francesa and Chris Russo reminisce about the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks, inspired by some of the clips shown in the video. The two them talk about making families and seeing each other’s children grow.

“It’s been 14 years, believe it or not, since Mike & the Mad Dog,” said Francesa. “We could not only do a good show, but could fill a building today.”

Francesa expresses gratitude for this award being named after their show. When they started out, there was no sports talk. But with a lot of support — including from Don Imus, who was crucial — Mike & the Mad Dog took off and launched the sports radio format across the country, in addition to inspiring debate TV like Pardon the Interruption.

The sports talk guy used to be the low man on the radio station totem pole. Now, they’re the most important person at many stations.

Russo calls it a “perfect storm,” with good teams in New York and an audience willing to listen for 24 hours a day. He also credits Radio Row at the Super Bowl for showing how the format was working in so many places and showing businesses this was a product to invest in.

Francesa and Russo took questions from the audience and looked back on their long career together. Francesa admitted that when he got afternoon drive at WFAN, which he always coveted, he didn’t want a partner. But he was convinced to give Russo a chance. It didn’t take long to realize that they had something.

But their long run together included some significant friction between the two when they weren’t talking to each other except for when they were on their air. Even during commercial breaks! Francesa admitted that he didn’t want Russo at his wedding, but his wife invited him and if not for that, Mike & the Mad Dog probably wouldn’t have survived as long as it did.

Following the Q&A, Francesa and Russo introduce a video of Felger & Mazz highlights. Felger and Massarotti were unable to attend the BSM Summit due to scheduling conflicts, but recorded a thank-you video for the award, expressing gratitude to The Sports Hub and the Boston fans for their success. They also thanked Mike and the Mad Dog for their pioneering work, saying they were honored to win an award named after them.

The 2022 BSM Summit takes a one-hour lunch, and then returns for the second half, led off by a conversation with Meadowlark Media CEO, John Skipper.

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

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  • John Skipper – Meadowlark Media

Asked about the decision to launch Meadowlark Media, Skipper says he and Dan Le Batard had discussed a joint venture for a long time. So when Le Batard left ESPN, they announced their new endeavor very soon thereafter.

Meadowlark’s deal with DraftKings gave them the money to start the business and look to expand quickly. The company didn’t have to worry about licensing content and DraftKings helps with distribution. The partnership has worked very well so far.

Most of the company’s content is in audio right now. Le Batard still loves terrestrial radio, which is demonstrated in producing a quality show. Putting content online has provided unique opportunities, such as the live reaction shows which have been very successful.

Our business model is to have an idea, develop the idea, take it to potential partners for production, rather than try to produce and finance those projects ourselves. Going into Spanish-language content and women’s sports content are initiatives they probably couldn’t pursue if Meadowlark wasn’t its own company that can take projects to other studios and outlets.

People say they want to do more women’s sports, but they don’t want to pay for it. So we’ll make it, then find the right place for it, Skipper said.

“The status quo will eventually overtake you and stifle creativity,” said Skipper. “You have to try new things.”

Skipper points out that Le Batard had a long run at ESPN, but him leaving shows how relationships and ambitions evolve. Le Batard wanted to do content ESPN preferred him not to, and ESPN wanted Le Batard to do more of what the network asked. Skipper uses Bill Simmons as another example of how things can change, regardless of how well each side may have previously benefited. He credits Simmons with helping his success at ESPN, boosting ESPN.com and creating the popular 30 for 30 documentary series.

It’s hard to break through in the podcast space, but Meadowlark has an advantage with Dan’s show, a tentpole to build around and use to steer listeners to other shows on the network. Personality allows you to drive audience, Skipper says. That allows Meadowlark to take chances like on audio documentaries like its upcoming The Mayor of Maple Avenue on the Jerry Sandusky case.

Skipper says the future of sports is streaming. He believes there are some NFL owners who think the Super Bowl should be on pay-per-view. Look at what’s happening in Europe with soccer. If you wanted to watch La Liga, you needed beIN SPORTS. (Now you’ll need ESPN+.) That will likely happen in the United States eventually. Amazon getting Thursday Night Football is probably the first step in this process.

“You’re going to miss your pay TV when it’s gone because it was easier,” said Skipper.

2:15-2:50 – Talk To My Agent presented by

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  • Kevin Belbey – CAA
  • Heather Cohen – The Weiss Agency
  • Mark Lepselter – MAXX Sports & Entertainment Group
  • Mike McVay – McVay Media

Heather Cohen – The Weiss Agency
Not everyone should have an agent. Not everyone is ready for an agent or needs one. An agent can be good for talent and management; we’re the buffer in between. It’s important for us to manage expectations, but get a deal done, find a compromise that’s good for both sides.

Transparency is very important. Give me the ratings, give me the data. I need to know what the revenue looks like. With that on the table, then management can see why we’re presenting a certain number. It’s a game; let’s just cut the game and get to the deal.

I’ve had management tell me they’re happy when talent has agents because the agent can have a difficult conversation with a client that a manager can’t.

I encourage my clients to do many different things. Fred Toucher, who was here yesterday, he has like 13 things going, not just the radio show. Angela Yee, she’s working all the time to get on social media to promote her brands — her coffee, her juice line. Does she want to be doing that all the time? Probably not. But she knows how important it is. I hate to say it, but those willing to work seven days a week are the ones who will be the most successful.

Kevin Belbey – CAA
I’ll often tell people, you don’t need an agent. But I’ll also say we’d like to work with you because we believe in your talent. For management, we want to make a deal that’s good for them as well. I think it’s important for them to realize we’re partners. A good negotiation should be, everyone wins. We want to cut through a lot of the B.S. and get right to getting the best deal done.

I tell my clients they can be influencers. Maybe you only have 500 followers or 2000 followers, but you can reach people that way and need to. They need to be involved in other things outside their shows, they need to have other things going on.

Mark Lepselter – MAXX Sports & Entertainment Group
It’s important to be an enhancement to talent’s career. It’s also important to bridge the gap between your client and management. Sometimes, that means protecting them from themselves in some aspects.

2:50-3:25 – The Art of Storytelling presented by

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  • Jim Cutler – Jim Cutler New York

People are deciding in the first 20 seconds of watching something whether or not to stay with something. They quickly decide if it’s worth their time.

Why care about storytelling? Everyone on social media fancies themselves a storyteller. And everyone is trying to get better at it to make money. Storytelling is really all we have when we’re creating content.

Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli says they prepare 25 to 50 stories ready to use for a given telecast. But the game is the primary story; that has to be the priority. We can’t layer in stories that don’t have anything to do with what’s happening. If it doesn’t fit, we don’t use it. Only jam in what’s appropriate.

Looking at visual storytelling, images alone can be powerful without sound — or accompanied by music instead. Images show you who the people are in the story without needing to tell you why or add to what’s already seen. But look at video games and how they’ve changed sports. Skycams and drones have completely changed sports coverage on TV. The “gameification” of sports storytelling.

But for radio and podcasts, the fundamentals of content have not changed. As Amplifi Media’s Steven Goldstein says, the speed it gets to the consumer has changed. If content is average and has no heat, it’s disposable. Another example provided comes from Colin Cowherd, who illustrated Manny Ramirez’s relaxed approach at the plate with an audio bit joking about Ramirez’s mindset, rather than just giving play-by-play or statistics.

Video of South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone speaking to a college class is shown in which they explain the beats of storytelling and how to keep it compelling and moving along. If you have “and then” between moments, “you’re fucked.” Yet if it’s “therefore” or “but,” the story is moving forward. The viewer wants to follow along. “This happened. Therefore, this happened. But this happened.” It’s not just saying what happened. Each action begets the next one.

Authenticity is vital. You have to be real. You can’t show the audience the sell. If they see the sell, they’re turned off. Stephen A. Smith is authentic to the audience. Someone else who’s authentic is ABC’s David Muir. Colin Cowherd explains how admitting when he’s wrong comes across as authentic to the audience. He knows he’s “in theater,” but has to come across as a real person.

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 – The Value of Traditional Media presented by

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  • Ariel Epstein – Yahoo Sports
  • John Jastremski – The Ringer
  • Kazeem Famuyide – MSG Networks
  • Demetri Ravanos – Barrett Sports Media

Ariel Epstein – Yahoo Sports
On doing gambling content on terrestrial radio – The change was getting gambling language into regular sports news and conversation. It’s not just “picks, picks, picks.” I say how the line moves according to the sports news of the day, like Trae Young not playing for the Hawks tonight. How do you build an audience and get them to trust you? It’s having good information.

I used to post my picks from the night before to show how I did. But I realized that people don’t care about that. They want to know about what’s happening tonight. What can they hear from me that’s different from what they’re getting everywhere else?

Kazeem Famuyide – MSG Networks
On working directly with athletes – We can eliminate the filter with athletes and work directly with them, let them show their personalities and interests. Like we talked to Trae Young and got his 15 favorite songs, then we created a playlist. He’s more accessible to the audience.

On being accessible as media – You have to be yourself. People can see that. And MSG lets me do that too. I can show up in a suit one day, Jordans the next. But it’s all me and people see that.

John Jastremski – The Ringer
I want my content to be conversational, like you and me at the bar. I don’t want to act or come across like I know more than you. I don’t want people assuming I think that either.

You have to understand what buzz is surrounding your particular work environment. You need a sixth sense. If you know your town, you know what they want to hear. The NFL and NBA are always going to play. But you can’t assume either. What’s the story in your town?

On being accessible as media – Social media has changed how people see media. Like they know “J.J.’s a gambling guy” or “J.J’s a Knicks guy.” I didn’t know that about the people on TV growing up. I couldn’t ask Bob Costas a question on Twitter back then.

Being in a lot of different places, doing a lot of different things is crucial. You can’t be defined as one thing.

4:15-4:50 – Programmer’s MasterClass presented by

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  • Justin Craig – ESPN Radio
  • Scott Shapiro – FOX Sports Radio
  • Mark Chernoff – Formerly of WFAN
  • Jason Barrett – Barrett Sports Radio

Justin Craig – ESPN Radio
How to select content – Play to the biggest part of your audience. The biggest names and topics. And then reset. What is the expectation of your audience? When they turn on your show, what are they expecting? And are you filling that expectation? Like what’s the first thing you think of with Stephen A. Smith? Yelling? So if he’s talking in a real quiet voice, they’re wondering what’s going on.

On ratings – I check them every day and share them with the talent. They’re our report card. Which markets are listening, which aren’t.

Scott Shapiro – Fox Sports Radio
On the clock and length of breaks – Ultimately, we’re in the ratings game. So the fewer off-ramps you can give the audience to go some place else, the better. There are so many options now. You’re on the phone. You’re going somewhere. We want to give listeners as few opportunities as possible to go away.

Mark Chernoff – Formerly of WFAN
I don’t like to overmanage. I don’t want to tell people to stick to the clock. For new talent, emphasizing the fundamentals are good. But it all revolves around sports. Content is king. It’s like being in music. You can play a deep cut. But if you play all deep cuts, you lose the audience.

I got the “POKE” theory of success from Eric Spitz (from SiriusXM). Passion, Opinion, Knowledge, and Entertainment. If a host has those four things, they’re going to be a success.

On simulcasting for digital and video – I tell the talent, remember you’re on radio, not TV. Don’t play to the camera.

Barrett Blogs

Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, Don Martin, Sam Pines and Amanda Brown to Speak at the 2023 BSM Summit

“All six of these media professionals have enjoyed success throughout their careers and bring different perspectives, styles, and experiences to the room.”

Jason Barrett

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I announced last week that the 2023 BSM Summit will be returning to Los Angeles. We had a fantastic experience in LA in 2019, and I expect our next conference on March 21-22, 2023 to be even bigger and better. But to do that, we need the right people on stage, and I’m excited today to reveal the first six additions to the show.

The 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles is proud to welcome FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports 1 host Colin Cowherd, FOX Sports 1 co-host of the new weekday program SPEAK, Joy Taylor, CBS Sports Radio and CBS Sports Network superstar Jim Rome, FOX Sports Radio and iHeart Sports SVP of Programming, Don Martin, and the brain trust of ESPN LA 710, Senior Vice President Sam Pines and program director Amanda Brown.

All six of these media professionals have enjoyed success throughout their careers. They bring different perspectives, styles, and experiences to the room, and I’m sure those in attendance at The Founders Club at the Galen Center at USC will enjoy and appreciate learning from them.

We will have more announcements in the future about additional speakers to the 2023 BSM Summit. A reminder that if you work in the media industry and would like to attend the conference, you can purchase tickets and secure your hotel room by visiting BSMSummit.com.

I’d also like to thank last year’s sponsors who have already confirmed participation in our 2023 event. The Summit isn’t possible without their support. For folks interested in sponsorship details for the conference, please email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now here’s some press information about each of our six participants.

Colin Cowherd: He is one of the most thought-provoking and successful sports talk show hosts in the country, and has been a key part of FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports 1 since September 2015. He is also the founder of The Volume, a digital-first sports media brand which has created an immediate impact in podcasting and on YouTube.

Cowherd’s three-hour sports talk program, THE HERD WITH COLIN COWHERD, airs simultaneously on FS1 and the FOX Sports Radio Network weekdays from Noon to 3pm ET. It is also available on www.FOXSportsRadio.comwww.FOXSports.com and has a dedicated iHeartRadio station, available live and throughout the day. The Herd has been chosen by industry programmers and executives as the top national sports talk radio show an unprecedented six times in seven years as part of BSM’s annual Top 20 series.

Jim Rome: Jim Rome is heard nationwide hosting ‘The Jim Rome Show‘ weekdays from Noon to 3pm ET on CBS Sports Radio. The program can also be watched on the CBS Sports Network. The show delivers three hours of aggressive, informed sports opinions, rapid-fire dialogue, tons of sports smack, and is consistently supported by Rome’s legions of fans otherwise known as the clones.

Rome also delivers his unique take on the day’s sports headlines via the CBS Sports Minute, 60-second commentaries which can be heard hourly on CBS Sports Radio affiliate stations. He also hosts his own podcast, The Reinvention Project, contributes to CBS Sports television, and has previously been seen on ESPN, FOX Sports, and in numerous movies and TV shows.

Joy Taylor: Joy Taylor co-hosts FS1’s new weekday program SPEAK alongside Emmanuel Acho and former NFL running back LeSean McCoy. She has previously worked as a co-host on THE HERD, as the moderator of SKIP AND SHANNON: UNDISPUTED, and as the host of her own podcast, “Maybe I’m Crazy”. She has also hosted programs for FOX Sports Radio.

Prior to joining FOX Sports, Taylor spent five years in Miami radio, including a successful three-year stint at 790 AM The Ticket, where she was co-host for the station’s top-rated morning-drive program, “Zaslow and Joy Show,” after starting with the station as the show’s executive producer. Taylor also served as the host of “Thursday Night Live” and “Fantasy Football Today” on CBSSports.com. She is a Pittsburgh native and the younger sister of former Miami Dolphins star Jason Taylor.

Don Martin: A 27-year veteran of iHeartMedia, Don is currently the SVP of Programming for FOX Sports Radio, the EVP for iHeartMedia Sports, and the SVP of KLAC-AM 570 LA Sports. Additionally, he provides oversight of the iHeartPodcast Network, which includes more than 40 national and 100 local sports podcasts and exclusive podcast agreements with the NFL and NBA. Don has been a featured speaker at prior BSM Summit’s and was recently a guest on The Jason Barrett Podcast. To hear it, click here.

Sam Pines: A fixture with Good Karma Brands since 2000, Pines is now charged with leading ESPN LA 710 since GKB assumed control of local operations. Prior to taking over the Los Angeles sports brand, Pines served as the GM and Sales Manager of ESPN Cleveland from 2006-2022. He has written a sales and leadership series, “Time to Win”, which focuses on coaching relationship-based selling and marketing, and is also involved with numerous boards and nonprofits.

Amanda Brown: Amanda has spent her entire twenty year career in sports radio working for the worldwide leader in sports. Currently responsible for creating and implementing the programming strategy for ESPN LA 710, Amanda has enjoyed nearly twelve years with the LA based brand after spending nearly six years in Bristol, CT producing national shows for the ESPN Radio network. Her career started behind the scenes in Dallas, TX where she worked as a producer at ESPN 103.3.

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7 Years of BSM and The Official Announcement For The 2023 BSM Summit

“Fast forward to now, and where this thing has advanced to is far beyond my expectations.”

Jason Barrett

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Apologies in advance if some of this column feels like I’m giving myself and our brand a pat on the back. I am. When this company launched, many assumed I was just writing a few articles and biding my time until another programming job popped up. I had a number of friends say ‘there’s no future in sports radio consulting‘ and after putting my programming career in the rear view mirror to go home to NY, I wasn’t sure what was in store for me.

What I did know is that my interest in doing the same thing that I just did for the past decade in three different cities was gone, but my interest in working with brands and individuals was still very much alive. I loved creating and programming 95.7 The Game but my choice to come home was driven by personal reasons, not professional. I wrote in great detail about it back in February 2015 so if you’re not aware of my story and want to know more, click the link.

Some of you do know these details already so I’m not going to repeat myself. I also don’t like talking on this website about personal issues because that’s not what brings us together each day. Media news, insight, and opinion does. But when this day rolls around each year, I hope you can understand why I take a moment to celebrate it. I moved home with no job, no plan, and no business but 7 years later, here we are are still ticking.

Launching this company has been the best professional decision I’ve ever made. Erika Nardini just had this conversation recently with Mark Cuban and he said taking a leap when you have nothing is the best time to do so. As crazy as that sounds, he couldn’t have been more right. That said, it’s pretty humbling going from successfully managing a top 4 market brand and earning six figures to being unemployed with no income and not being sure what you want to do. There were many days where I wondered ‘what was this all for?’. I hadn’t been without a job for a long time but I didn’t want to rush into something I wasn’t excited about especially since I knew I had to take care of my son and wanted to set a good example for him.

When I announced I was leaving San Francisco, I said I’d consider staying with the company if a position could be created that would allow me to work from NY and travel to help brands. Entercom back then wasn’t as big as Audacy is now, so that wasn’t an option. That led to small talk about consulting but quite frankly, I had no interest in doing that. I thought consulting was something folks did at the end of their careers or others used as a temporary excuse to explain what they were up to after leaving a job. I was 41 at the time and felt I had two decades left to give to the business, and if I was going to go down that road, I’d do it differently.

As I began to clear my head and think about what was next, I decided I was going to create the position that Entercom didn’t have available except rather than being exclusive to one group, I’d be accessible to all of them. I wanted to make a difference in multiple cities and expand my reach beyond radio. Now I work with brands involved in radio, TV, podcasting, social media, sales, sports betting, etc..

I’m also very entrepreneurial, so the idea of building a digital company that focused on covering the sports media business had great appeal to me. I built my radio career by doing everything early on and saw that as an advantage. Back in 2015, there were outlets covering the radio business, but none dedicated to sports radio. Even the newspapers that wrote about sports TV and other media issues, often examined them with folks who hadn’t been on the inside for quite some time. I had recent experiences programming brands in three different parts of the country, I learned how to build a website, I didn’t mind selling myself, and I wasn’t restricted from writing and sharing my honest and candid opinions. That helped me give BSM life and a voice. I also had one other advantage. I was talking weekly with industry people, going to different cities to work with multiple groups and seeing up close why certain things worked and others didn’t. That helped me tell better stories, build deeper relationships, and assist clients with greater knowledge.

Fast forward to now, and where this thing has advanced to is far beyond my expectations. I’ve been presented with opportunities to work with groups I never expected. I’ve had people reach out to present opportunities, including purchasing the company, that others would be shocked were considered (Btw I’m not looking to sell). Our brand now generates hundreds of thousands in traffic per month thanks to an exceptional team of 20 writers which produces 35-40 pieces of content per day on the sports and news media industry. In fact, August was our best month of traffic this year. We were up 30% year over year. We create 5 podcasts per week, distribute multiple newsletters, consult a strong amount of media brands, sell and work with advertising partners to help grow their businesses, deliver content through social media channels that are followed by thousands of people, and host an annual conference, which is well attended and supported by industry professionals and broadcast companies.

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Which brings me to the next part of this column – the 2023 BSM Summit.

After hosting our last two shows in New York City, I told all in attendance that our next event would return to the west coast. Finding the right city and venue takes time, and this one was tough because there were great options in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but after reviewing the possibilities, I’m thrilled to share that the 2023 BSM Summit will take place in Los Angeles, California at The Founders Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California. The dates will be Tuesday March 21st and Wednesday March 22nd (we didn’t want to do dates that conflicted with the NCAA Tournament). Show time both days will once again be 9a-5p PT.

I couldn’t be happier with this location. The space we have to work with is fantastic, the people involved with USC have been great, and to bring a room full of sports media professionals to the USC campus will be awesome. We’ve also partnered with the USC Hotel which is within walking distance of our venue. Room rates and ticket prices for the Summit can now be found on BSMSummit.com.

I know everyone will start texting, emailing, calling, and DM’ing to ask about tickets, speakers, sponsorships, the after-party and awards show, etc.. I’ll have follow up announcements coming soon about the first few speakers we’ve lined up. Most people attended the 2022 show live, but some checked out the show virtually too. I’m not sure yet if we’re going to make this one available virtually. If we do, we’ll announce it on the site at a later time. Like anything, if enough people want it we’ll find a way to get it done. In the meantime, Stephanie Eads is setting up conversations with former and future conference partners so if you have a sponsorship question, hit her up by email at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

One thing I do want to ask of those who are planning to attend the Summit, email me to let me know what you’re interested in learning about at the show. We’ve been blessed to have some incredibly smart, successful people in the room, but as cool as that may be, I want to make sure folks return to their buildings afterwards with information to improve their operations. This only works if you take the knowledge and use it to help your brands and people. If anything in particular is of interest, please let me know by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

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As I look ahead to year 8, I’m extremely bullish on continuing our momentum on the sports media side. We’ve just added Eddie Moran as a new features writer, and if it makes business sense to add more writers or create additional podcasts down the line, we’ll examine those opportunities as they arise. A few years ago it was just Demetri and I running the day to day business. Now we have Stephanie, Andy, Garrett Searight, Arky Shea, Alex Reynolds, and Eduardo Razo involved, and though having a larger staff doesn’t guarantee success, I like how we’re positioned. If anything, our focus now is on doing impactful work not busy work. As much as I’d love to keep everyone and never stop adding, running a business effectively requires regularly examining what is and isn’t working. Having people involved who are passionate and consistently reliable is vital. If they can’t be then it means the fit isn’t right.

Having said that, I believe we can always get better. As we move ahead, I’m counting on my team to find and create more original content, strengthen and increase relationships, gain a stronger grasp of SEO, and collectively, we’ll work on improving our digital marketing to promote our content and develop better affiliate partnerships. One way the industry can help us in return, let us know when you create something on-air that might fit the site. Most of what we gather comes from finding it ourselves yet content gets created daily on sports TV and radio. We’re not going to write stories about sports opinions but if it’s media-centric, a heads up helps. So too does sharing our content on social media.

Though BSM is an integral part of our company’s future growth, I am equally as bullish on building Barrett News Media. We started BNM on September 14, 2020 and our first year was slow. We needed to dip our toe in rather than dive in head first, but over the past 9 months we’ve increased our relationships and our readers are now starting to see what we’re capable of. We’ve assembled a strong cast of news writers, reporters, and columnists, and just added to our team last week with the addition of Joe Salzone. Adding writers and consulting clients remains an ongoing process, and make no mistake about this, I want to help news/talk stations just as I have helped sports brands. Maybe down the line we’ll add a few news media podcasts too, but we have other things to focus on first.

For starters, if you’ve read this website over the years then you’re likely familiar with the BSM Top 20. It’s a series we produce recognizing the best in the sports media industry. It’s voted on by a large number of sports radio programmers and executives, and for 6 years in a row it has been our website’s largest traffic driver. I thought previously about doing a series for the news media industry, but because we had less help, little time, and an unfamiliar brand, I held off.

But that’s about to change.

Later this year, we will introduce the very first BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will include voting participation from news media programmers and executives, with the goal being to showcase the best national radio shows and podcasts, and the top local stations, shows, and PD’s from both the major and mid markets.

It will be a giant undertaking but it’s long overdue for our brand. Though I’m sure the process will be exhausting, I’m looking forward to sharing the results and shining a brighter light on the news/talk media business. When I’m ready to announce the dates and schedule for the series, we’ll reveal it here on the site and across our BNM social media channels. Stay tuned.

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As I bring this column to an end, I’ll end by sharing a few things that have surprised me over the years. First, I’m seeing less interest the past 3 years from younger people becoming programmers than I did between 2015-2019. Is that because of the pandemic? The rise of sports gambling? A lack of confidence in the radio industry? As someone who’s helped 15-20 brands find and hire brand leaders, and talks to more people than most, that’s concerning.

I think sports radio also needs to do a better job of grooming people for these roles and showing them a path to long-term success. PD’s should be more actively championing their people for growth too than they do. If you value someone and want to see him or her reap the rewards for their hard work, you have to look beyond how it’ll affect your day to day duties. Focus on the big picture, not just what makes your life easier.

What should concern executives is the fact that in the past five years, sports radio has lost Armen Williams, Jeremiah Crowe, Joe Zarbano, Adam Delevitt, Tony DiGiacomo, Terry Foxx, Brad Willis, Chris Baker, Tom Parker, Jay Taylor, Kyle Engelhart, Hoss Neupert, and John Hanson. I’m sure I’m missing a few too. That’s a lot of programming experience out the door including some with decades left to give to the industry. Maybe some weren’t built for the job long-term or others were kicking down the door and ready to lead but in most businesses, if you saw that type of change in key management roles, you’d be questioning if it’s an industry you want to be a part of. If the veterans don’t stay or become too expensive, and the leaders of tomorrow aren’t sticking around, where does that leave us?

From the talent end, how are you helping yourself when there isn’t a job to chase? If the only time you contact a PD is to ask about a gig, don’t be surprised when your calls go straight to voicemail. Relationships are a two-way street. Build them when there’s nothing to be gained and you’ll be amazed at how it pays off later. By the way, that goes for me too. I get asked by a lot of people to find time when there’s trouble in paradise but when life is good, crickets. Those who keep in touch and support BSM/BNM whether that’s through a monthly membership or buying a Summit ticket have more success getting a hold of me. I’m not trying to be a hard ass but I’m not an agent, so building your career isn’t my priority. Taking care of my family and business partners is. However, I do help people and make time for many, but it’s got to work both ways. My members and clients know they can ask for something and receive an answer. Others I’ve built and maintained relationships with receive the same. But if you’re counting on me to help you find work and gossip about the business with you, I’m not your guy.

If there’s been a winner the past 7 years it’s been the growth of sports betting. As other categories have produced less, sports betting has emerged as an important growth driver for the sports format. And this has happened with most of the country not even legal yet. As more states give the green light to legalize sports gambling, revenues and content opportunities should follow. We will likely reach a point where consolidation comes into play and certain brands and companies overload their content in a way that makes them insufferable to listen to but for every few setbacks there are far greater reasons to be optimistic. In the past 7 years we’ve seen Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and YouTube become big players in sports television. Might FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, Fanatics, Barstool and others do the same in the sports media space? That’s going to be an interesting follow for sure.

Knowing how everything can change in an instant, I take nothing for granted with BSM and BNM. This could all end tomorrow, and if it did, I’d look back on it as the best days of my professional life. I want to keep growing as a professional, while remaining an asset to my current partners, and finding ways to work with new brands and companies in both sports and news media. I’m also enjoying hosting a podcast again, and if you haven’t checked out The Jason Barrett Podcast, the latest episode with Colin Cowherd is a good one to start with.

The future for sports and news media may change but both will remain viable and important. I love that we’ve been able to be a small part of this business each day for the past 7 years, and I hope to make the next 7 years as fulfilling as the past 7. If I’m able to do that, it’ll mean the 20 years I spent in studios were needed to make a nationwide impact from a home office.

So on behalf of our entire team, past and present, thank you for reading the twenty thousand pieces of content we’ve produced since 2015. None of this is possible without an army of BSM/BNM supporters. I hope to see you in Los Angeles this March for the 2023 BSM Summit.

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The Podcast Movement Conference Made a Mistake Rejecting Ben Shapiro

“If this is a conference about podcasting, and you have someone in attendance who excels at it, has a massive following, and their company is supporting your event as a sponsor, why are you treating them like a disease?”

Jason Barrett

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I’ve had the pleasure of attending multiple Podcast Movement Conferences over the years. Those involved in putting the event together do a fantastic job creating an action packed agenda full of accomplished speakers, and the visual displays and access to different brands and industry professionals have always been nothing but positive. It’s why I was disappointed this year when my schedule didn’t allow for me to make the trip to Dallas.

So imagine my surprise late last week when I learned the conference took a stance against Westwood One radio host and co-founder of The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro

Shapiro’s company was a sponsor of this year’s show, and according to reports, the well known podcaster and radio host wasn’t registered for the event. He made a brief appearance at his company’s booth, shaking hands and taking photos with fans who stopped by to say hi, and his mere presence at the show led to some protesting his involvement on social media.

After learning Shapiro had stopped by, the Podcast Movement Conference posted a series of tweets which said “Hi folks, we owe you an apology before sessions kick off for the day. Yesterday afternoon, Ben Shapiro briefly visited the PM22 expo area near The Daily Wire booth. Though he was not registered or expected, we take full responsibility for the harm done by his presence.”

The conference added, “Those of you who called this “unacceptable” are right. In 9 wonderful years growing and celebrating this medium, PM has made mistakes. The pain caused by this one will always stick with us. We promise that sponsors will be more carefully considered moving forward. No TDW representatives were scheduled to appear on panels, and Shapiro remained in the common space and did not have a badge. If you have questions, we’re here to talk. Thank you for reading, and we hope you’ll continue to join us from here on out.”

A quick search shows that Shapiro has one of the top performing podcasts on the charts. According to Westwood One, it is downloaded over fifteen million times per month. In addition, his radio program is carried on hundreds of radio stations, he has 13 million followers combined between Facebook and Twitter, and his company, The Daily Wire, adds another 5.5 million supporters to the mix. They also showed they were supportive of the conference by making a financial commitment to sponsor a booth.

Having explained all of that I was stunned that the Podcast Movement Conference took this position. Let me be clear, it was a mistake. Their stance has led to a flood of negative attention over the past 72 hours, and it all could’ve easily been avoided. Though their next event is still a year away, given how much attention this story has received, it could have a carry over effect on future sponsorships and attendance. Only time will tell.

As someone who runs an annual conference, albeit much smaller, I know how hard it is to put an event together. What the Podcast Movement organizers put together each year requires a herculean effort, which is why I’m baffled that they picked sides in this situation. The media industry is large and full of people, brands and companies with different views and approaches to business and everyday life. The second you start judging and making decisions based on personal beliefs and/or social media activity, you’re in trouble.

I’ve long maintained that if someone works in the sports media industry and wishes to learn and share information to help improve the business, they’re welcome at our BSM Summit. We make changes to our schedule each year based on what we feel is topical for the attendees but we don’t discriminate, support one brand over another or allow personal views to dictate if someone can or can’t be present.

Case in point, at our March conference, I had a few people privately upset that I asked Craig Carton to speak. Craig’s prior arrest and time served in jail is well documented. First, I have a ton of respect for what Craig has accomplished, and I believe in second chances, but personal views aside, he’s the afternoon host in the nation’s largest market working for WFAN, a top rated sports radio brand. History has shown that he’s damn good and successful, and more than qualified to speak on the subjects we cover at our event. When a few folks expressed their displeasure with my decision I told them ‘If you’re not a fan of Craig, don’t attend that session. If it bothers you beyond that, I understand if you can’t attend the show.’

Quieting the noise gets easier when you focus strictly on the business. Making everyone happy is impossible when you organize an event, but if you allow multiple viewpoints to be present in the room, you end up in a decent place more times than not.

You also have to remember that social media can make things appear worse than they are. Is the issue you’re dealing with being raised by conference partners and supporters who attend the event each year or from someone who’s not in the building and thrives on creating a social media firestorm for the causes they oppose and fight against?

Some may recall that I dealt with a few headaches in 2019 prior to our LA Summit after folks involved with groups that had no interest or desire to attend our show started trying to create a controversy out of nothing. Though it was frustrating playing defense on Christmas night when individuals from the New York Times, Deadspin and WNBA teams started poking holes in our conference’s flyer, I learned an important lesson. As long as you do the right thing and have the support and trust of your friends, family, attendees, and partners, who cares what others think or say who don’t know you and aren’t in the room for your event.

That’s what I don’t understand here. Is Shapiro not one of the most successful podcasters out there? Was his company not a paying partner of the event? If this is a conference about podcasting, and you have someone in attendance who excels at it, has a massive following, and their company is supporting your event as a sponsor, why are you treating them like a disease? Most would roll out a red carpet for someone with Shapiro’s track record of success not publicly condemn them for showing up and sponsoring the show. I know I would. I’d also do the same for someone who’s equally successful and views the world the exact opposite way.

I can’t help but wonder how folks at Westwood One feel about this incident. Don’t they promote and support this conference and include their people in the event? Think they might object to one of their top personalities being treated this way? Furthermore, how about the talk radio format? It’s no secret that most of the programming on news/talk radio stations leans right. A number of top performing podcasts follow a similar path. It’s safe to say that most in the format are going to support Shapiro, and I don’t think that helps the conference with attracting future business and participation.

To be clear, I don’t listen to Ben Shapiro’s podcast or radio show, and I don’t read The Daily Wire. I only point that out because I don’t want anyone to assume that I’m supporting him because of personal interests or a professional relationship. We’ve never spoke or crossed paths. My opinion is based solely on the facts surrounding this situation, nothing else.

That said, I understand Ben has shared opinions that some take offense to and I don’t blame those folks for not wanting to be around him. But there’s a simple solution, don’t go near him or his booth. It’s the same thing I tell people who don’t like a particular radio station’s hosts or a piece of content on our website; if you don’t like it, don’t read or listen to it. The Podcast Movement Conference takes place in a large convention center. There’s more than enough room to keep everyone separated and happy. Last time I checked, there were attendees in the room who stopped by to meet Ben at his booth. Do they not count?

Look, you don’t have to agree with Shapiro, but this is a podcasting business conference, and it’s something he’s done at a higher level than most. That qualifies him to be there. You can’t get in the middle and start determining who is and isn’t allowed in based on personal beliefs or trying to please agenda driven people on social media. Would Podcast Movement tell Joe Rogan, one of the most successful podcasters out there, that he couldn’t attend if people who didn’t like his views on Covid-19 protested? What’s next, not giving out industry awards to stations and individuals who we don’t like or agree with? When does the insanity end?

Here’s the reality, there are likely other sponsors and attendees in the room who have views that some may consider offensive. Our content and advertisers aren’t just supported by good, honest people. There are thousands, if not millions, who listen and support us who are shady, sick, and morally bankrupt. That’s beyond our control. Our job is to inform and entertain, and make people care enough to come back regularly. If we do that well, sponsors will follow. Keep those things happening, and everyone remains satisfied.

Moving forward, the Podcast Movement Conference has to decide if it wants to be open to all or only to some. I root for the conference to do well. I’ve enjoyed attending previous shows and hope to attend future ones. But if they expect to maintain support and enjoy future growth, learning from this situation is important. There’s much more money in staying neutral than alienating one side of the room.

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