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Does Being A Fan Matter?

Jason Barrett

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There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to creating content, and performing as a sports talk radio personality.

On one side you have the talk show host who’s not emotionally attached to their market’s local teams, analyzes stories from a neutral point of view, and cares more about the creation of good content and interesting storylines, than the success or failure of the local franchises. At times they can be accused by the audience of being cynical or negative, and they value their credibility and integrity, and will stop at nothing to defend it.

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On the other side, you have the talk show host who lives and dies with their team’s results and daily decisions. They watch every game because they genuinely love the franchise, and each day’s outcome tugs on their heartstrings. They go to the stadium as much as possible, forming as many relationships as they can, and they openly acknowledge their rooting interest with the audience. That often leads to being accused of being too positive and soft (homers), which calls into question their objectivity, whether it’s warranted or not.

While each person has their own personal preferences, both approaches work. Audiences are made up of people from many different backgrounds, with multiple views, and as long as the individual providing the content delivers their dialogue in an authentic way, and is willing to be open and honest with the audience, they’ll be accepted for who they are.

Some listeners put on the radio to hear a host who loves the local team as much as they do, because they want to feel good about their favorite players, hear interviews with members of the local organizations, and they want someone to pump them up for the next game.

Then there are listeners who are mentally stimulated by negative discussions built about what’s wrong with the local team, and who should pay for the team’s failure. The local team could win a championship, and the next day their more concerned about which members of the team will leave via free agency, rather than celebrating.

thinkThat got me to wondering, do we gain more listeners and higher ratings by being detached from our fandom, or by embracing it? It seems the older we get, the more cynical we become, and we spend less time watching games, and rooting for storylines over victories. But does that matter to the audience? Should it?

We’re in the sports talk radio business. The key word being “business“. The job is to present angles, opinions, insight, and information, and make it compelling enough to entertain an audience. The job description doesn’t say “one must passionately care about our teams and form a bond with them that becomes ever lasting“.

However, when a listener puts on a sports radio station, they expect that they will hear a conversation about sports. Many of us though don’t always provide that. Instead we venture into discussions about our favorite foods, favorite television shows, best concerts we’ve attended, and other lifestyle focused topics.

notI’ve often found that those who take this approach, are usually more detached from their fandom, and the local teams. Yet they are passionate about what they’re discussing, and you can argue that the subject matter has broader appeal. In many cases the ratings go up when personalities let the audience in on their other views and personal interests. But is this content being created for the audience, or because we aren’t as interested in sports as maybe we should be?

For those who are more in touch with their fandom, they’re usually eager to dive into a sports discussion. Sure they’ll touch on other aspects of life too, but sports is the center of their universe. They dedicate the majority of their show to it, and they don’t have to manufacture enthusiasm to get into a conversation about their local teams.

angeloI’ve been in numerous markets and seen both styles work well. I recall working in Philadelphia in 2006, and WIP morning host Angelo Cataldi was open with his audience about not attending games, and forming relationships with players, because he felt it could compromise his judgement. I don’t remember the exact quote but it was along the lines of “My job isn’t to make friends in locker rooms or break news. I’m here to share my honest opinions, and look out for my audience”. 

By staying out of the room, Angelo felt he was in a better position to serve his listeners. I knew exactly where he was coming from, and because it was consistent with who he was as a personality, his audience accepted it.

On the other hand, I’ve watched in St. Louis and San Francisco, how guys like Randy Karraker, Bernie Miklasz, Chris Dimino and Brian Murphy, have utilized their time around local teams to gain added perspective, inside information, and form relationships with organizations which has given the audience a better understanding of how teams think and operate. They too have stayed true to who they are as people, and their approach has resonated with their audiences.

debateIf there’s one thing that is vital for all talk show hosts, regardless of whether or not they’re fans, it’s to be willing to criticize and engage in difficult conversations. It’s not easy delivering an opinion, and knowing that it can damage a relationship, but if you’re focused on serving the audience (your true employer), then you’ve got to do what’s best for them. It’s ok to root for your team, and lean towards positive content, but when bad things happen, you’ve got to address them. Avoiding them compromises your credibility and integrity.

To gain further insight into this discussion, I reached out to a number of personalities across the country, who face this challenge on a daily basis. I wanted to get a sense of how they manage their fandom and objectivity, why they approach their programs the way they do, what they believe matters most to sports radio listeners, and what type of talent they’d feature on their stations if they made the final decision. I think you’ll enjoy their answers.

Special Guests:

  • Mo Egger– ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati
  • Shan Shariff-105.3 The Fan in Dallas
  • Chris Dimino680 The Fan in Atlanta
  • John Kincade-680 The Fan in Atlanta
  • Randy Karraker-101 ESPN in St. Louis
  • Nick Wright-Sports Radio 610 in Houston
  • Brian Murphy-KNBR 680 in San Francisco
  • Chad Doing-95.7 The Game in San Francisco

What does the term “homer” mean to you?

randykarraker4Karraker: The general perception is of someone that won’t challenge the front office of the local teams and won’t criticize. But to me a “homer” is someone that pays intense attention to the teams in his home market, and has the same emotional investment in those teams as the people listening. Being a fan is being part of a community, of shared interest in your team. There’s no question that when I come on the air, I have an emotional investment in the Cardinals, Rams and Blues, and like most fans, I’m capable of being objective and critical. I don’t blindly agree with everything the franchise is doing, I just want them to succeed like my listeners do.

Murphy: A “homer” is a fan who is blind to reality. They refuse to see their team’s shortcomings, often to the point of irrationality.

chaddoing5Doing: I think of a local broadcast team that will never criticize the play of the team they work for regardless of the performance of the franchise. In relation to sports talk, I think of a local host who is a fan of the teams in the city that he/she works. I don’t think that’s necessarily a negative.

Kincade: It’s the blatant inability to talk about a team in honest fashion. It is the trademark of a host that wants to pander to the locals. They desire to be loved, not willing to earn respect for fair evaluations.

eggerEgger: “Homer,” when applied to a host means that he/she is someone who allows their rooting interest to influence their opinions and willingness to criticize, often at the expense of the listener. Homers placate the lowest common denominator of an audience, and usually alienate their smartest, most savvy audience members. A good sports-radio host, whether they’re fans of the local teams or not, always has the backs of the fans. Homers place the teams (often times, they’re in a relationship with the teams) ahead of fans.

How does it make you feel if a listener refers to you as a homer?

shanshariffShariff: If someone calls me a Jerry Jones homer, I don’t get upset because it’s true. We all have natural bias and I don’t see anything wrong in acknowledging it. If someone calls me a Cowboys homer because we’re the flagship, I try to correct that perception. I don’t like someone thinking my opinion is formed because of other factors outside of what I see and feel.

Kincade: I can honestly say on-air in Atlanta since 1995 I have never been referred to as a homer. I far prefer to be known as the guy willing to tell you that your baby is ugly when deserved.

chrisdimino3Dimino: The initial reaction for most hosts is defensive. It becomes credibility being questioned. I have been honest about liking some guys and teams and front offices more than others. But I’ve dealt that from the top of the deck. I also made a conscious  decision years ago that I have to sleep at night, and in our job that means you better believe it before you say it, and more after you say it. Your body of work speaks more than any isolated incident.

Doing: It’s never bothered me. I want my listeners to know that I embrace my local surroundings, and that I’m going to root for the teams in the town in which I work. In my  mind, I can be a “homer” while still being objective. I’m going to celebrate when they win, but when they don’t perform, I’m going to be critical.

randykarraker2Karraker: I have no problem with being called a homer. Jack Buck once told me that a listener had called him a Cardinal homer, and his reply was “what do you want me to do, root for the Padres?” Many times, people will hear what they want to, rather than what reality is. I’d actually rather be called a homer than a hater.

Shouldn’t the audience want to hear a host who lives & dies with the same teams as they do and is proud to admit it?

nickwright3Wright: The audience should want to hear a host who is honest and transparent. If that host truly lives and dies with the local teams, then they shouldn’t hide it, but the worst thing a host can do is fake that loyalty. The audience can sniff that out.

Shariff: Depends how interested you are in the truth. I had many listeners in Kansas City who recognized their own bias and wanted to hear an objective view of their favorite teams. I do think you better cover every facet of your city’s favorite teams with as much passion as possible.

murph2Murphy: Every show is different, and every host has a different voice and vibe. Some make their living being cynical, and that appeals to listeners. Some (me included) wear their heart on their sleeve, and allow the listeners to judge us for who we are.

Dimino: If you’re going to have your fandom, own it. This isn’t soup at a restaurant. The “Fan of the Day” shit is much worse than living and dying with your teams. Secondly, it better be genuine. Don’t bandwagon it. Listeners can smell that a mile away. You better save the rants for rant like moments. The overly negative “homer” exists and I can play the glass is empty with the best of them. But killing teams and people just to kill can get old. I want parades in my town, I want our teams talked about nationally, and I like seeing our team’s games on national television in the postseason. I’m unabashed and unapologetic about those things.

johnkincadeKincade: You can do that! I’ve worked with a few guys that are huge fans of the local teams, but still will criticize when warranted. They are far more credible to me than the guys who prefer to kiss butt so they will be liked by the local teams. If the audience prefers a homer, they tend to be caller driven pep rally shows. I turn those off quickly.

How important do you believe it is for a host on a local sports station to be interested in & passionately & emotionally involved in the success & failure of the local sports teams they cover?

chrisdimino4Dimino: It’s huge because success and failure drive conversation. From a business point of view, I root for storylines. I want ultimate successes or total disasters. Anyone who elicits no reaction is death. I don’t root for horrible but if that’s what it is or becomes, that drives conversation. “What needs to be done” talk is even more interesting and passionate than the ones about first place teams.

Wright: I think a local host absolutely must be interested and passionate about the teams in their market, but does not need–at all–to be emotionally invested in order to be successful.

chaddoing2Doing: Like my listeners, I am a sports fan. So, I want to be able to relate to them and feel what they feel. I accomplish that by choosing to become invested in the teams I cover. Once I get around the players, I create relationships and learn more about them, so that I eventually begin to pull for them as individuals. When I do this, I naturally become emotionally invested in them and my passion for them is genuine.

Shariff: Interested? Hell yes. Passionate? Absolutely. Emotionally involved in wins and losses? I don’t believe you have to live and die with every loss, but your audience better have zero doubt that you’re qualified and prepared to dissect their teams.

johnkincade4Kincade: I came from Philadelphia in 1995. I’ve been on-air here for 20 years, and I have never dropped my hometown team allegiances. I’ve also never hidden it from my audience. I’m honest with them and prefer that the local teams do well. It’s better for the station when they do. My audience knows that I watch the teams and am prepared to get into conversation about them every day. It allows me to be a different voice. As long as I have been fair, the audience respects you for your talents and insights.

When a host says “I don’t care if the local team wins or loses, my heart isn’t attached to them. My job is to talk about the story/result and what it means for the audience” – do you think that’s a good or bad thing for the audience?

murph7Murphy: It depends how well the host conveys that. If it comes off as cold and distant and clinical, surely the host will turn off some listeners. But if it comes off as informative and enriching and instructive, the host will earn respect.

Dimino: If you don’t care about winning or losing, you’re in the wrong line of work. Your opinions, not final scores, will come from that caring. Your audience can understand 7-4, 28-21 and 104-98. That’s an update. It’s not a conversation. “How and why and what to do about it” IS our business. This idea that being a fan is a bad thing is ridiculous. It’s why you got the job. It’s what most of us have been preoccupied with since 6th grade study hall. If you can’t feel the ups and downs, why should anyone care what you think or believe?

randykarraker3Karraker: As a consumer, I don’t want to listen to a host who doesn’t care whether the local team wins or loses. If he says that privately, that’s fine. And if the host can talk about the story and analyze the result without caring, I don’t think that’s necessarily bad for the audience. However, sports fans care deeply about their teams. Any time we care about something, and the person we’re talking to says they don’t care about it, it’s going to affect that relationship.

Egger: As a whole, I don’t think the audience is looking for either. There are fans who clearly prefer a host who’s as attached to their teams as they are, but I think the majority of listeners are looking for content that’s entertaining, smart, curious, and relatable. If the host is a fan, he/she has a responsibility to be objective at times. If they’re not, they have to at least understand and convey an understanding that these teams and their fortunes do matter to their audience.

johnkincade2Kincade: That is a horrible thing to say. You have to care about the teams and their performances. Even if you care just to create great conversation, you better garner passion for yourself and your listeners!

How possible is it to be a homer in a local market if the on-air talent isn’t from the area?

shanshariff2Shariff: In my experience, you lose some rooting interest in your favorite teams the longer you do this job. My DFW motto has been “I root for ratings” and I’ve said that many times to our audience. The Cowboys and Rangers winning helps our ratings and my wallet. Why wouldn’t I become emotionally invested in their success? Personal relationships are also a factor. A major reason I root for the Cowboys success is Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett, Witten, Romo, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith. We’re not best friends, but I believe they do things the right way and I root for that. With all that said, I think it’s important to be genuine. People are instinctive and smart. They know if you’re being fake or feeding them what you think they want to hear.

Karraker: It’s very possible. Our morning guy, Bernie Miklasz, came to St. Louis from Baltimore in 1984. He grew up a big Colts and Orioles fan, but he’s been around St. Louis for such a long time, that he wants to see the hometown teams succeed. He developed an emotional tie to the city and the teams. He’s my version of a homer. He wants to see our teams do well, but is objective and willing to point out problems even for winning teams. Secondly, if you get to a town and do your job, you’re going to develop relationships that cause you to root for individuals. I became a huge Arizona Cardinals fan when Kurt Warner went there. He’s one of the finest people I’ve ever met. Any man who meets and gets to know Mike Matheny and understands why he’s successful is going to want him to succeed. So while it might not be the team you grew up with, it’s the team and people you’re with now, and you do develop personal relationships and rooting interests.

chaddoing1Doing: It’s very possible. I moved to San Francisco last year. In the 12-months I have lived in the Bay Area, I have been to the majority of games for the Giants, Warriors, Raiders, and 49ers. It was a challenge at first, but as I got familiar with the area and began to speak with fans, I started to develop a better understanding of the market I was in. Going to games and interviewing the athletes was the best part of the process for me. For example, the Warriors locker room was filled with high character guys who were easy to root for, and when I combine that with the buzz in the city coming from fans, my conversion process happened at an accelerated rate. But you have to put in the time and commit to going to a number of games.

Wright: If you happen to be in a market where you’ve always loved the team, despite not being from there (EX: A Lakers fan who is from Kansas City but now works in LA) you can obviously be a homer. Also, if you’ve lived in the area for a long time (10+ years) you can probably become a homer because it becomes your adopted team.

moegger5Egger: I can only speak for my market, because this is the only one I’ve worked in. We are a parochial town, a little wary of outsiders. Some have called Cincinnati the “biggest small town in America,” and I often joke to Cincinnatians, if something doesn’t happen inside the 275 loop (the interstate bypass that circles our city), it doesn’t happen. It’s an uphill battle if you’re a host who isn’t from here, especially since the most successful talents in this city so rich in broadcast history have been from Cincinnati. If you come to Cincinnati to talk sports for a living, you better do some work. Recite what the Reds did in the 70s. Familiarize yourself with why the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in a quarter-century. Understand the depths of the many regional college rivalries. These things matter here. Maybe more than other markets.

If you were the program director of a radio station and trying to satisfy the desires of the local audience, would you put more people on the air who are more or less emotionally attached to the local teams?

Dimino: Hosts and radio stations are not widgets. Everything being the same serves no one. It’s what creates chemistry inside a show and weaves the fabric of the station. Emotionally attached does not for a second imply marching in step with some manifesto of rainbows and smoke blown up asses. It rides good and bad time waves and relatability with an audience. The trickier part is the “Rights Holders” aspect of this. Do you have the freedom to speak your mind? Do you get blowback from management or the teams themselves if you criticize? If I was PD I want genuine. The guy attempting to figure out which way the wind is blowing daily will be rooted out by smart listeners.

nickwright4Wright: I would have locality be the only tiebreaker in selecting talent. I would try to build the best team possible and let the chips fall where they may.

Murphy: I think a balance is probably best. And I think it’s important for hosts to be themselves. I think audiences can smell a phony. I think they like hosts who are true to themselves, and care about entertaining the audience.

shanshariff3Shariff: I would side with more attached. While it’s important to be genuine and objective, sports are still driven by passion, excitement, anger and all the emotions that come from die-hard fans that can relate to others who think and react like they do.

Egger: Ideally, I’d like a mix of both because the best-programmed stations are focused on what’s important to their audience but have hosts with different backgrounds, perspectives, and can bring fresh and different angles that differentiate themselves from the other hosts, even if they’re all focused on the same basic subject matter. If I’ve got shows with hosts who are emotionally attached to local teams, I might look for someone who’s a little detached. More than anything, I’m just looking for people who can create compelling content, regardless of how they approach the delivery of it.

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California College Students Earn Chance to Win 10 Free Tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit Thanks to Steve Kamer Voiceovers

“In order to win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event.”

Jason Barrett

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With a new year comes renewed energy and optimism for the sports media business. Yours truly is looking forward to showcasing the best our business has to offer when we gather the industry in Los Angeles, CA at the 2023 BSM Summit at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California on March 21-22, 2023. Our conference is returning to the west coast for the first time since 2019. We’ve announced some super talented speakers. We’ve got additional things in the works and I plan to make additional announcements in the next few weeks.

People often ask me what the biggest challenge is putting this event together. My answer is always the same, it’s getting people to leave the comfort of their office and spend two days in a room together learning and discussing ways to grow the business. We have great sponsorship support and exceptional people on stage and are fortunate to have a lot of folks already set to attend. Our venue this year has extra space though, so I’m hoping a few more of you make time to join us. If you haven’t bought a ticket or reserved your hotel room, visit BSMSummit.com to make sure you’re all set.

If there’s one thing our industry could get better at it’s opening our minds to new ideas and information. There’s more than one path to success. Just because you’re in good shape today doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. Building brands, growing audiences, increasing revenue, and examining new opportunities is an ongoing process. There are many shifts along the way. We may not solve every business challenge during our two-days together but you’ll leave the room more connected and informed than when you entered it.

Each year I’ll get two or three emails from folks sharing that they learned more about the industry in two-days at the Summit than they have in ___ years inside of their building. That’s truly gratifying and what I strive to achieve when I put this event together. I remember when conferences like this didn’t exist for format folks and I take the risk and invest the time and resources to create it because I love the sports media industry and believe I can help it thrive. I see great value in gathering professionals to share ideas, information, and meet others who can help them grow their business, and if we do our part, I’m confident some will want to work with us too. That’s how we benefit over the long haul.

But as much as I focus on serving the professional crowd, I also think we have a responsibility to educate young people who are interested, passionate, and taking steps to be a part of our business in the future. The BSM website is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each month and it’s become a valuable resource for folks who enjoy sports radio and television. I think it’s vital to use our platform, influence and two-day event to connect generations and I’m happy to announce that we will once again welcome college students at this year’s Summit.

Most of us who’ve been in this line of work for two or three decades learned the business without podcasts, YouTube, social media, the web or conferences delivering two full days of sessions that taught you more about the business than what’s available inside of a class room. We learned by doing, and hoping we were right. Then we copied others who had success. Some of that still exists, and that’s not a bad thing. But where our business goes in the future is going to be drastically different.

I’d like to see the difference makers in our format remembered for years to come, and practices that have stood the test of time remain valued down the line. Change is inevitable in every business and I’m excited about the road that lies ahead especially some of the technological advancements that are now available or will soon become a bigger part of our industry. I think we can embrace the future while enjoying the present and celebrating the past. The best way to do that is by bringing together everyone who is and is hoping to be a part of the sports media universe.

So here’s two things we’re doing to make sure future broadcasters have an opportunity to learn with us.

First, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Steve Kamer Voiceovers. Thanks to Steve’s generosity, TEN (10) college students will be given FREE tickets to attend the 2023 BSM Summit in March. Steve is a USC graduate (Class of 1985) and he bought the ten tickets to help young people learn about the industry, save money and make valuable connections. When I first received his order, I thought he hit the wrong button. I reached out to tell him a mistake was made and I needed to refund him. That’s when he told me what he wanted to do for students who were pursuing their broadcasting dreams just as we both did years ago. A very classy gesture on his part.

As it pertains to the contest, here’s how it’s going to work.

To win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event. Included in your email should be a list of steps that you’ve taken or are pursuing to explore opportunities in the media industry. If you want to pass along a resume and audio or video clips too to showcase your work and experience, that’s fine as well. BSM will accept submissions until February 17th. The winners will be announced on Friday February 24th.

Helping me select the winners will be an exceptional panel of media executives. Each of these folks below will choose one person to attend our L.A. event. The final two will be picked by Steve Kamer and myself.

  • Scott Shapiro – Senior Vice President, FOX Sports Radio
  • Justin Craig – Senior Program Director, ESPN Radio
  • Jeff Sottolano – Executive Vice President, Programming, Audacy
  • Bruce Gilbert – Senior Vice President of Sports, Cumulus Media & Westwood One
  • Amanda Gifford – Vice President, Content Strategy & Audio, ESPN
  • Jacob Ullman – Senior Vice President, Production and Talent Development, FOX Sports
  • Greg Strassell – Senior Vice President, Programming, Hubbard Radio
  • Scott Sutherland – Executive Vice President, Bonneville International

To qualify for the BSM Summit College Contest, students must be enrolled in college in the state of California, pursuing a degree that involves course work either in radio, television, print or the digital business. Those attending local trade schools with a focus on broadcasting are also welcome to participate. You must be able to take care of your own transportation and/or lodging.

This is a contest I enjoy running. We’ve had great participation during our prior two shows in New York City but haven’t done it before on the west coast. I’m hoping it’s helpful to California students and look forward to hearing from many of them during the next month.

For students who live out of state and wish to attend or those enrolled at local universities who enter the contest but aren’t lucky enough to win one of the ten free tickets from Steve Kamer Voiceovers, we are introducing a special two-day college ticket for just $124.99. You must provide proof that you’re currently in school to take advantage of the offer. This ticket gives you access to all of our sessions inside the Founders Club. College tickets will be limited to forty (40) seats so take advantage of the opportunity before it expires.

The 2023 BSM Summit will feature award ceremonies with Emmis Communication CEO Jeff Smulyan and legendary WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, sessions with influential on-air talent such as Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, and Mina Kimes, big picture business conversations with executives from groups such as Audacy, iHeart, Bonneville, Good Karma Brands, Barstool, The Volume, Omaha Productions and more. For details on tickets and hotel rooms visit BSMsummit.com.

I look forward to seeing you in March in Los Angeles!

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Barrett News Media To Gather The Industry in Nashville in September 2023

“I’ve been lucky enough to play a key role in bringing the sports media industry together on an annual basis, and in 2023 we’re going to attempt to do the same for news/talk media professionals.”

Jason Barrett

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One of the best parts about working in the media business is that you’re afforded an opportunity to use your creativity, take risks, and learn if an audience or advertisers will support your ideas. Sometimes you hit a homerun, other times you strike out, but regardless of the outcome, you keep on swinging.

I’ve tried to do that since launching a digital publishing and radio consulting company in 2015. Fortunately, we’ve delivered more hits than misses.

When I added news media industry coverage to our brand in September 2020, I knew it’d be a huge undertaking. The news/talk format is two and a half times larger than sports, many of its brands are powered by national shows, and the content itself is more personal and divisive. I wanted our focus and attention on news media stories, not politics and news, and though there have been times when the lines got blurred, we’ve tried to be consistent in serving industry professionals relevant content .

What made the move into news media more challenging was that I’d spent less time in it. That meant it’d take longer to find the right writers, and it required putting more time into building relationships, trust, respect, and support. Though we still have more ground to cover, we’ve made nice strides. That was reflected by the participation we received when we rolled out the BNM Top 20 of 2022 the past two weeks. Hopefully you checked out the lists. Demetri Ravanos and I will be hosting a video chat today at 1pm ET on BNM’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and through Barrett Media’s YouTube page discussing the series, as well as this article.

It’s because of that growing support, trust, and confidence in what we’re doing that I’m taking a risk yet again. I’ve been lucky enough to play a key role in bringing the sports media industry together on an annual basis, and in 2023 we’re going to attempt to do the same for news/talk media professionals.

I am excited to share the news that Barrett News Media will host its first ever BNM Summit on Thursday September 14, 2023 in Nashville, TN. Our one-day conference will take place at Vanderbilt University’s Student Life Center Ballroom. The venue we’ve selected is tremendous and I’m eager to spend a day with news/talk professionals to examine ways to further grow the format and industry.

If you’re wondering why we chose Nashville, here’s why.

First, the city itself is awesome. The access to great restaurants, bars, entertainment, hotels, and famous landmarks is unlimited, and when you’re traveling to a city for a business conference, those things matter. Being in a city that’s easy for folks across the country to get to also doesn’t hurt.

Secondly, a conference is harder to pull off if you can’t involve successful on-air people in it. If you look at Nashville’s growth in the talk media space over the past decade, it’s remarkable. Many notable talents now live and broadcast locally, major brands have created a local footprint in the area, and that opens the door to future possibilities. I have no idea who we’ll include in the show, and I haven’t sent out one request yet because I wanted to keep this quiet until we were sure it made sense. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of interest in participating and I can’t promise we’ll be able to accommodate all requests but if you have interest in being involved, send an email to Jason@BarrettNewsMedia.com.

Third, finding the right venue is always difficult. We looked at a bunch of great venues in Nashville during our vacation this past summer, and when we stepped on to the campus at Vanderbilt University and walked through the SLC Ballroom, we knew it was the right fit. It had the space we needed, the right tech support, access to private parking, a green room for guests, and it was within walking distance of a few hotels, restaurants, and the Parthenon.

As I went through the process of deciding if this event was right for BNM, a few folks I trust mentioned that by creating a Summit for news/media folks, it could create a competitive situation. I don’t see it that way. I view it as a responsibility. I think we need more people coming together to grow the industry rather than trying to tear each other down. I hear this far too often in radio. We worry about what one station is doing rather than strengthening our own brand and preparing to compete with all audio options.

For years I’ve attended conferences hosted by Radio Ink, NAB, Talkers, and Conclave. I’ve even spoken at a few and welcomed folks who operate in the consulting space to speak at my shows. I’ll continue to support those events, read various trade sites, and invite speakers who work in a similar field because they’re good people who care about helping the industry. I believe BNM and BSM add value to the media business through its websites and conferences, and though there may be a detractor or two, I’ll focus on why we’re doing this and who it’s for, and let the chips fall where they may.

I know juggling two conferences in one year is likely going to make me crazy at times, but I welcome the challenge. In the months ahead I’ll start lining up speakers, sponsors, building the conference website, and analyzing every detail to make sure we hold up our end of the bargain and deliver an informative and professionally beneficial event. The news/talk media industry is massive and making sure it stays healthy is critically important. I think we can play a small role in helping the business grow, and I look forward to finding out on September 14th in Nashville at Vanderbilt University.

Hope to see you there!

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Jimmy Powers, Raj Sharan, Matt Berger and John Goforth Added to 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

“BSM is having a special Holiday SALE this week. Individual tickets are reduced to $224.99 until Friday night December 23rd at 11:59pm ET.

Jason Barrett

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In less than a hundred days, the BSM Summit will return to Los Angeles for two-days of networking, learning, laughing, and celebrating. The conference hasn’t been held on the west coast since 2019, and we’re looking forward to returning to the city of angels on March 21-22, 2023, and bringing together sports media professionals at the Founders Club, located inside the Galen Center at the University of Southern California.

For those of you who haven’t purchased your ticket(s) yet, BSM is having a special Holiday SALE this week. From today (Monday) through Friday 11:59pm ET, individual tickets are reduced to $224.99. If you’re planning to come, and want to make sure you’re in the room, take advantage of the extra savings and secure your seat. To buy tickets, reserve your hotel room, and learn more about the Summit’s speakers, click here.

We’ve previously announced twenty one (21) participants who will join us on stage at the 2023 BSM Summit. Today, we’re excited to expand our lineup by welcoming four (4) more additions to March’s industry spectacular.

First, BSM is thrilled to have two accomplished sports radio programmers contributing to the event. Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit will make his Summit debut in L.A.. Fresh off of a Marconi victory earlier this fall, The Ticket’s brand manager will share his insights on the present and future of sports radio on one of our programming panels. Also taking part in that panel will be the leader of 104.3 The Fan in Denver, Raj Sharan. Raj appeared on stage at the 2022 BSM Summit in NYC, and we look forward to having him return to lend his voice to an important sports radio programming discussion.

But programming won’t be the only thing we invest time in out west. Growing a business, more specifically, a digital business will be part of our conference agenda as well.

When it comes to maximizing digital revenue, few brands understand the space better than Barstool Sports. Charged with growing the brand’s revenue is Senior Vice President and Head of Sales Matt Berger, and we’re looking forward to having Matt join us for a conversation that will focus on monetizing digital opportunities. Before joining Barstool, Matt sold for Bleacher Report/House of Highlights. He’s also worked for Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Company. We’re excited to have him share his wisdom with the room.

Also taking part in our digital sales panel will be John Goforth of Magellan AI. John knows the radio business well from having served previously as a sales manager and salesperson. Since leaving traditional media and joining Magellan AI, John has studied the podcasting advertising space and learned who the top spenders are, who’s making big moves with their podcast advertising budgets, and which publishers are best positioned to benefit. Having his expertise on stage will help many in the room with trying to better understand the digital sales space.

There are other speaker announcements still to come. We have some big things planned, which I’m hoping to reveal in January and February. I want to thank ESPN Radio, FOX Sports, Showtime, and Point to Point Marketing for coming on board as partners of the 2023 BSM Summit. The support we’ve received heading into Los Angeles has been tremendous, and we greatly appreciate it. If you’re looking to be associated with the Summit as an event partner, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

That’s all for now, but be sure to take advantage of the Summit Holiday Sale. You have until Friday night December 23rd at 11:59pm ET to take advantage of discounted tickets. Happy Holidays!

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