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What Makes Radio and Podcasting Different?

Jason Barrett

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Over the past two years, a rapid interest has developed in podcasting. While it’s actually been available for years, and personalities such as Bill Simmons and Adam Carolla have enjoyed great success in the space, the commitment from advertisers, broadcast companies, and personalities has grown significantly.

serialOne program which influenced a change in perception of podcasting was the show “Serial“. The program focused on an investigation into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old student in Baltimore, Maryland. Lee’s ex-boyfriend, Adnan Masud Syed was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, but his first trial ended in a mistrial. After a six-week second trial, Syed was found guilty of Lee’s murder and given a life sentence, despite pleading his innocence.

In February 2015, three weeks after the end of Serial’s first season, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals filed a decision allowing Syed to appeal his conviction. The Court also announced that another three-judge panel would address the question of whether new evidence from an alibi of Syed’s, would be admitted.

The interest in the case, and the information learned on the program, pushed Serial’s season one downloads to over sixty eight million. With the rise in popularity came a large amount of mainstream media coverage, which helped the show gain an extension for two more seasons.

Although Serial made a major splash, it isn’t the only program to experience massive success in the podcasting world. Other popular personalities like Joe Rogan, the Sklar Brothers, Shaquille O’Neal, and pro wrestlers “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Chris Jericho, have taken their talents to the podcasting arena too, and gained strong followings.

Comedian Marc Maron is another personality who delivers a strong audience. To date, his podcast has been downloaded more than one hundred million times. It was also the first podcast to welcome the President of the United States Barack Obama as a guest.

p1Recently, CBS Money Watch said advertising on podcasts had grown to the tune of thirty four million dollars annually. PodcastOne Chairman Norm Pattiz (who’s company sells ad time for Carolla’s show), believes its closer to fifty million. He said “If it were $34 million, we’d be way over 50 percent of the business, and I don’t believe that we are“.

With advertiser interest growing, more personalities wanting in, and audiences displaying a heavier appetite for the content, is there a stark difference between podcasting and radio? Sometimes in our industry we latch on to new things, or reimage old ones to become excited again, but in this case, I do believe there are some big differences.

In the past week alone, I consumed fourteen different podcasts to gain a sense of what each program’s recipe was for serving their audience. What I found was that each program was different, and that alone fueled my desire to learn more about the platform’s approach.

The programs I listened to were:

  • The Big Podcast with Shaq and John Kincade
  • The Adam Carolla Show
  • The Stinkin Truth with Mark Schlereth
  • Talk Is Jericho
  • The Tony Bruno Show
  • The Ross Report
  • The Bill Simmons Podcast
  • The SI Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch
  • Sklarboro Country
  • Bernie and Randy
  • Franco and Kags
  • Dennis and Callahan’s Breaking Balls Podcast
  • Radio Stuff with Larry Gifford
  • The Podcast About Sports Radio with Zach McCrite

In comparison to radio, there were a number of similarities, but there also were some major differences. I put a chart together to outline some of those items.

SUBJECT SPORTS RADIO SPORTS PODCASTS
CONTENT & FORMULA Follows a Clock & Format Free Flowing & No Rules
SHOW LENGTHS 2-4 Hours 30-90 Minutes
DISTRIBUTION Everyday 1-2x per week
ORIGINAL PROGRAMS Set Lineups M-F Tons of Variety
SPORTS UPDATES 2-3X Per Hour Rarely any
COMMERCIAL BREAKS 3-4 Per Hour Rarely any
COMMERCIAL TIME 12-20 Minutes Per Hour Rarely any
LIVE READS/MENTIONS Avg. of 2-3X Per Hour Avg. of 2-3X per episode
REVENUE UPSIDE High/Lots of opportunities Low/Limited opportunities
SUCCESS MEASURED Nielsen Ratings Total downloads/Time Spent Per Episode

If you’re an audio listener, and you spend two hours, one with a radio program, and the other with a podcast, you’ll receive much more content from a podcast. Commercials are not part of the strategy, and because they don’t consistently interrupt the flow of the shows, it’s a major benefit for the audience.

Some other positives include the show lengths which are usually 30-60 minutes. Most commuters can consume an entire show during a drive to or from work. There’s no feeling of “I’m going to miss out“. It’s more in line with television’s approach to programming. Those who listen to a podcast, are likely to listen to others too.

carolla2The opportunity to listen to long segments, unfiltered discussions, and gain a peek behind the curtain are other reasons to listen. This allows the talent to be comfortable and authentic. For example, when I listened to Adam Carolla, he got into some very explicit discussions on sex. If the same show had aired on terrestrial radio, Adam either would’ve avoided the subject or presented a PG/R rated version. If he said what he did on his podcast, he would have been suspended or fired, and his employer would’ve been subject to an FCC fine.

What I really enjoyed hearing was how loose most of the personalities were, and how unscripted the programming was. In certain cases I heard shows welcome guests who I’m positive would’ve been declined on local radio stations because they didn’t play into the strategy of delivering ratings. Certain interviews also provided interesting nuggets of information because the discussions were allowed to materialize, and weren’t trying to fit inside an allotted amount of segment time.

There were three great examples of this that jumped out to me.

jkshaqFirst, John Kincade and Shaq had a conversation with Kobe Bryant that was as good as gold. If you haven’t heard it, do yourself a favor and check it out. It was fascinating because Shaq and Kobe were able to relax, and reminisce without it feeling like they were under the microscope, and John had a great sense of when to get involved and when to sit out.

Because the environment was soothing for Shaq and Kobe, the interview entered areas that I don’t believe it would’ve had it taken place on a local radio station. If you have the time to listen, it’s worth it. Make sure also to listen after the interview to the conversation between John and Shaq about “Deez Nuts“. It’s very entertaining.

The second piece to produce a similar result was Richard Deitsch’s podcast with WWE personality Paul Heyman. There was no time limit on the discussion which kept it from feeling rushed, and because Richard does his homework, he’s able to get into certain areas with his guests, and pull things out of them that a listener can appreciate. Hearing Paul discuss how he prepares for his next promo on Raw, why he connects with eloquent people, and how he feels about professional wrestling gaining more mainstream media coverage was very insightful.

The last example I want to highlight was from Larry Gifford’s Radio Stuff podcast. His subject was the rise and fall of Cumulus Media, and he utilized a lot of audio clips in it to help him tell an interesting story. What jumped out the most though was his conversation with Tom Leykis. When I heard Tom say “Cumulus is one of the prime murderers of the broadcasting business” I was intrigued.

Tom then shared his personal account of how Cumulus treated him during negotiations, and how their approach pushed him away from returning to the radio business. While I wasn’t privy to his situation, and am sure there’s another side to it, I felt like I was in the room because of the way he presented it. It was a riveting piece of audio, and one that I don’t believe I’d hear on a local radio show.

While each of those examples above highlights the many benefits being provided by podcasts, I also discovered some negatives.

First, nothing is more aggravating as a content consumer than clicking on a button to hear a show, and then having to wait two minutes for the personality to start the program. This happens because the hosts are reading ads right out of the gate. While I understand the challenge of generating revenue on these programs, this will become a bigger issue for advertisers in the future.

dvrThe biggest reason is because every time a program starts with a talent reading a sponsor message, I fast forward past it. One of the great tools of digital listening, is that you have more control over the way you consume it. When you’re in the car, you either endure commercials, and sponsor mentions, or you change the channel, and hope to return to the station, and not miss anything important. When you’re at your computer or listening on your phone, you can skip to the good stuff, and eliminate the bad.

It’s very similar in my opinion to the DVR. If you record a television show and watch it back, you’re more likely to skip past the commercials than sit through them. The same holds true when listening to a podcast. I’m sure advertisers would rather not hear that.

Sticking with business, I did find my recall of advertisers was higher with podcasting than with radio. On podcasts, sponsors are woven into the programming during select times, and because the interruptions are fewer, and shorter, I sat through them, and remembered them.

There’s also a positive vibe you feel towards the client because they’ve invested in a unique show that you listen to. You want to reward them for that association. I also heard many hosts supporting their clients, and providing good strong personalized reads, rather than breezing past them as we often hear on radio shows.

If I can keep my critical cap on for a moment, I’ll add that because the programming is often recorded, and not touching on LIVE events, there is less of a feeling of urgency to consume it. If listeners don’t check back often, and traffic decreases, that could hurt revenue.

Another challenge that can’t be ignored is that podcasts offer less programming than local radio shows. Top flight personalities on radio provide fifteen to twenty hours of content per week, while podcasts deliver one to two hours. If you’re in the advertising world, that means less opportunity on podcasts, and more opportunity on radio.

pod1There was one one other tidbit I picked up on that I felt was worth a mention. It applies to the difference in the way the podcasts are presented. Certain talents like Deitsch, the Sklar Brothers, Jericho, Austin, and Simmons, present their shows differently than Bruno, Gifford, McCrite, and Bernie and Randy.

This stems from some podcasters being radio personalities who are used to delivering content a certain way, and others more focused on talking, and less worried about structure and presentation. I can list the pros and cons for each approach, but the one you’ll gravitate towards is the one that appeals to your personal tastes.

For those personalities I listened to who are working for local radio stations, I appreciate them providing something different on their podcasts than what they treat listeners to over the airwaves. That’s very important.

For example, in the case of Bernie and Randy, they don’t do a daily radio show together. Both men are popular to St. Louis sports fans, and occupy drive time slots on 101 ESPN, and by creating the podcast, it brings them together once per week. This helps the station offer a unique program on its digital platform, which gives listeners an extra incentive to visit.

If there’s one piece of advice I can pass along to those who partake in creating podcasts, make sure you’re providing a different experience online than the one you present on-air. Taking your radio program, posting it online, and calling it a podcast is not accurate. Promoting that the show is available on-demand on the website is fine, but podcasts are different. Based on these numbers from Triton, you can see why it’s important to be in this space, and offer original programming.

triton

Earlier in this column I asked if there was a big difference between podcasting and radio, and in my opinion it’s a complicated answer. From the content standpoint, there’s little difference. It’s still programming built around people sharing opinions, stories, and parts of their lives that make them interesting. The format may be different, but it’s still an audio broadcast.

Where things change is when you analyze the business, and content creation strategies. Are personalities providing too much content on radio by broadcasting fifteen to twenty hours per week? If the average listener in a top 5 market consumes thirty to forty minutes per day, does the additional time matter?

How much of that programming time is spent on creating memorable content versus filling air time with calls, and serviceable material? With attention spans shrinking daily, I wonder if we’ll see a shift towards short-focused programming, and a reduction in long-form content.

As far as business is concerned, if commercials aren’t included, and sponsor reads are limited, then how much more money can the platform generate? Downloads, and time spent listening may increase, and that will help the narrative when requesting higher premiums, but there’s still a lack of inventory, and not enough regular programming. Unless that changes, or listeners start paying to consume the content, I struggle to see how the revenue gains will be significant.

If you’re a listener, that’s not your issue. You should love what’s happening with podcasting. You get to enjoy a lot of great talent, content without disruptions, and insight into situations that don’t have a chance to materialize often on local radio. You can also consume it faster which leaves you time for other things that are important in your daily life, and because the programming is offered weekly or bi-weekly, you typically are treated to something good.

podcastcharts

As you can see on the image above, younger audiences are growing up listening this way. If this becomes the future of audio delivery, then media companies better start figuring out how to monetize it better.

From where I sit, I believe podcasting provides enormous opportunity. CBS and Hubbard Radio have already entered the fray by making sizeable investments, and I expect other groups to follow suit in the future.

The only thing debatable in my mind is whether or not the platform can tip the scale for broadcast companies, and become the additional revenue stream they need to pull themselves out of the abyss they’ve been stuck in for the past decade.

Is this a fifty million dollar business that will experience slight economic growth? Or is it a model that’s representative of the future, and will deliver ten to fifteen times it’s current number? That’s radio’s problem to solve, not the audience’s. They’re doing their part by showing up and supporting it.

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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Barrett Blogs

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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