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Are You In It To Win It?

Jason Barrett



If you’re a football fan, then you’re familiar with the classic Bill Parcells quote “You are what your record says you are“. I’ve always loved that line because it means that you can make all the excuses you want, but the result is what’s attached to your brand’s name.

faultIt comes into play so often too in radio. You have a bad ratings book, and quickly it’s the fault of Nielsen’s PPM system, talent being out sick or on vacation, a lack of marketing, or the competitor having Voltaire. It could never be your fault or the brand’s fault, because that would mean acknowledging your own shortcomings.

In the radio business, much like the world of sports, companies, stations and people have very different goals. For some brands, anything less than a championship is unacceptable. For others, being relevant, in the game, or better than mediocre is acceptable. Some groups will shake things up quickly if a plan isn’t working, others wait for dinosaurs to return to the planet before they even consider switching gears.

It’s easy to say you’re committed to winning and you’ll do whatever it takes to succeed, but if that mentality doesn’t exist throughout every department inside the organization, it becomes much harder for a brand to have collective success.

bottomlineFirst of all, if winning was easy, everyone would do it. Secondly, while people on the programming end care about connecting with the audience and delivering ratings to justify their impact, promotions and sales people, along with station managers, often look harder at generated revenues/profits and customer satisfaction, than they do the product’s performance.

The success of your show/brand may help the business end of the operation tell a better story, and that does help them with their demands for higher ad rates, but if the station’s numbers are lower, they still have to paint a great picture, and produce dollars, despite the programming team underperforming.

While we can agree that the job of the business department is to tell a positive story and increase profits for the company, shouldn’t there be higher accountability on the product end too? If sales people are expected to increase profits, and charge higher rates per commercial on a year to year basis, then doesn’t it make sense to expect the programming team to perform better year to year too?

Now some of you may be saying “Don’t put that pressure on us, we’re fine right where we are“, but I don’t think or operate that way. There’s a big difference in the mindset of one who expects to win and consistently challenges themselves, and others who are satisfied with the status quo. You either seek total domination and being the best, or you don’t. It’s that simple.

djmjCan you imagine Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky saying “let’s do what we’ve done before, that should be good enough“? Each of those individuals are driven by their own desire to be great, that no owner, coach, or teammate needs to say anything to light their competitive fire.

It’s what separates a coach like Bill Belichick from Joe Philbin. It’s the difference of owners like Robert Kraft and George Steinbrenner who give their people what they need to succeed, and owners like Jimmy Haslam and Jeffrey Loria who always get in the way. It’s why an athlete like LeBron James continues to improve and excel, and others like Carmelo Anthony showcase talent but never reach a championship level.

Great teams and players rise to the top, and welcome higher expectations and challenges. They want to be tested to show what they’re made of, and nobody puts more pressure on them except themselves.

It’s an easy thing to recognize, and I wonder why more broadcasters and companies don’t notice it themselves.

goingonIf you’re a sports talk radio station, and your ratings are consistently outside the Top 10 with Men 25-54, there should be some concern and a number of questions being asked. Everything should be analyzed from the station’s name, position and lineup, to the content approach, the market’s appetite for sports radio, and nobody should be satisfied unless solutions are provided to help the brand improve.

Maybe the signal isn’t strong enough, which means you need to either make the investment to play with the big boys and drive bigger ratings and revenues, or get used to where you are.

Maybe your market isn’t a great fit for the format, and while I hate to see any station flip out of the format, if the audience isn’t going to support it, and you’re going to lose money, then maybe it’s a bad investment.

If it’s your personnel, there’s a simple solution – you change it. Teams change rosters all the time, and if that’s what it takes to lift a brand from 20th place to 5th, then be willing to make those difficult decisions. I don’t like seeing anyone lose an opportunity, but this is a results oriented business, and you can’t let personal feelings get in the way of what helps you maximize your brand’s potential.

Last but not least, if it’s the approach, brand name, or on-air positioning, once again you need to modify it to suit your talent, and the wants and needs of the audience. You can try to force your ideas and style on people, but if they’re rejecting it, you either adjust your game plan, or someone else will do it when they’re sitting in your chair in the future.

jobAs easy as it is to put the pressure on the shoulders of the on-air talent and programmers, I think pressure equally needs to be placed on corporate managers and ownership. The people up top need to set the tone for what is and isn’t acceptable inside the company. Stock prices rise and decline based on performance, and if goals are laid out and agreed to by each department, and the resources and support are provided to help people do their best work, then they should be able to deliver. If they don’t, then they also need to be held accountable.

When I see a sports station sitting in 15th-30th place, for longer than 12-18 months, the competitor in me can’t help but question what’s going on. Remember, this is the ranking with Men 25-54, not all listeners. If you add older/younger people into the equation, along with women, the performance is even worse.

Is this in line with the company’s vision for the brand? Is it acceptable to the company, market manager, programmer, and talent? Are raises being given and contracts renewed for people who work there? If so, what’s the rationale?

I’m all for rewarding good performers, but if you haven’t improved, and the company hasn’t made more money, then why should you receive more? This isn’t a government position where you earn annual increases for time on the job.

If you’re operating this format (which is expensive), and you’re consistently performing 15th or worse with Men 25-54, it’s going to be difficult staying profitable. Maybe you have some national shows on your airwaves which helps you reduce costs, and in the short-term that helps you make a few dollars, but long-term, it’s hard to create a thriving business without a higher performance.

For me it goes back to two questions:

  1. Are you trying to win, or stay afloat?
  2. Are you accepting failure/mediocrity or doing whatever it takes to build a winner?

georgeGreat organizations don’t apologize for expecting greatness from their people, and they certainly don’t wait long to make adjustments if the formula isn’t working.

If your group and/or people aren’t where they need to be, what are you doing to change the outcome? Maybe you won’t beat your competitor today, but you certainly better be trying, and improving, and your goal better be to overtake them.

It comes down to this, “Are you in it to win it, or just happy to be in the game“?

But what the heck do I know, I’m just a guy who thinks winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Guys like Dan Snyder and James Dolan have certainly proven otherwise.

Barrett Blogs

Jeff Catlin, John Mamola, Gordy Rush & Maggie Clifton Join The 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

Jason Barrett




We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit

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Barrett Blogs

Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett




As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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Barrett Blogs

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




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 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 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

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

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