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A Round of Applause For The Voice of the Voiceless

Jason Barrett



Any individual who occupies a position as a talk show host, understands that there are certain obligations they must fulfill. They must deliver ratings, promote station advertisers, present themselves and the brand positively, and be accessible to the audience.

But there’s one part of the job that gets taken for granted, yet is critical to success. Being an extension of the local community, and an advocate for the audience during a time of need.

Although there are some personalities on the air today who have played professional sports, or served in executive roles inside organizations, the majority of on-air talent are professionally trained broadcasters with forums to influence and educate, and a backstage pass which provides them access to high level people and information.

businessWhile membership certainly has its privileges, a host must never let their judgment get compromised. Friendships and associations with people who work inside organizations are necessary for building trust and communication, but being able to separate those personal and professional relationships is critical.

Every on-air talent should be capable of giving credit when it’s due, assessing blame when it’s deserved, and most importantly, asking the questions that local sports fans deserve answers to. Sometimes though the lines get blurred.

It’s easy to be influenced when relationships become personal. We can pretend that they don’t exist, but when a personality is granted special access, or provided with inside information that others aren’t privy to, it’s difficult to not feel obligated to offer something in return. That usually means not crushing the team or an individual when it’s warranted, or holding back information that might portray the franchise in a negative light.

As tough as it may be, the smart ones recognize that their true employer is the audience. Listeners have more of a direct influence on a host’s future than any player or organization. With a dedicated audience in your corner, there will always be a demand for your services. Without one, you’re headed upstream without a paddle.

My passion for this subject was awoken when a former colleague of mine, displayed just how important it is to stand with your audience during important times. Personally and professionally it’s very fulfilling, and the long-term impact it can provide is immeasurable.

randykRandy Karraker of 101 ESPN in St. Louis, stood before NFL representatives at a league town hall meeting in St. Louis on Tuesday night. The focus was the Rams potential relocation to Los Angeles, and more than 1,500 people showed up to pledge their support for St. Louis keeping their football team. If you follow the NFL, then you’re well aware of how sensitive of a subject this is, especially in St. Louis.

With a large crowd on-site, and thousands more watching and listening on the NFL’s website, Randy addressed NFL executives, and explained why St. Louis deserved to keep its team.

For a little more than five minutes he stood at the podium and provided evidence that showed 31 league owners invested in their communities and the owner of the Rams, Stan Kroenke, not involved in his. He pointed out specific facts from the NFL’s guidelines for relocation and how Kroenke had not met them, and he painted a picture which showed a clear intent to move, and a lack of good faith in negotiating. He also shared how that made it impossible for local people to support the franchise in its current state.

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By speaking up for his audience in front of NFL representatives, and addressing an emotional subject which had wounded the community, Randy received multiple standing ovations, and his social media timeline was full of support. Here are some of those examples.

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Whether the Rams stay in St. Louis or move to Los Angeles is still undecided, but there’s no disputing that Randy strengthened his relationship with his audience as a result of his actions.

Knowing him as I do, I don’t even have to ask why he chose to get involved. This wasn’t some ratings ploy, or opportunity to seize the spotlight and gain attention. This is who he is. He loves his city, his team’s, and his people, and when someone tries to hurt them, he’s going to protect them. It’s why I used to refer to him as “The Governor of St. Louis Sports“.

What I was reminded of when I listened to the town hall meeting, was how important the relationship is between an on-air host and their audience. When a local crisis in sports unfolds, the audience feels helpless. The only place they can turn to for support is their local media.

bmrkIn St. Louis, fans know their best interests will always be protected because they have people like Randy Karraker, and Bernie Miklasz looking out for them. When that type of connection is formed between a host and an audience, it’s unstoppable. It’s a big reason why 101 ESPN has dominated St. Louis’ sports scene since 2009, and why they’ll continue doing so in the future, with or without the Rams.

This conversation stretches well beyond St. Louis sports radio circles too. If you look across the country, you’ll find a sports talk show host in most local markets who considers it a badge of honor to step up for their people when teams, players, or executives insult their intelligence or withhold information. In most cases, these personalities do well, which further confirms why the bond between host and listener is significant.

Take a look at this example of what transpired in Phoenix this past summer when former Suns Forward Marcus Morris fired a jab at the Suns and their fans, and Arizona Sports 98.7FM host John Gambadoro took exception with it.

gambogambo2gambo3gambo4gambo5By standing up to Morris, and letting him know that two could play the insult game, John earned a ton of appreciation from his audience. It sent a message that when someone calls out the city of Phoenix, and Suns fans, he’d be there to hold them accountable.

blankNobody had to tell John to take a stand. This was what he naturally felt was the right thing to do. Because he loves the Phoenix community, and its fans, and chose to act when they were being disrespected, it helped him form a deeper bond with local people. That matters more than any relationship with an NBA player.

Many examples like this occur daily in local markets, and hosts who take on uncomfortable situations for the betterment of the audience, should be applauded and appreciated by those who listen. It takes guts to speak candidly, and risk relationships and future favors. Unless you’ve stood in the shoes of an on-air talent, and dealt with the wrath of an unhappy owner, executive, player, or agent, you don’t realize how intense it can get.

Keep in mind too that when it happens in a public forum, the entire community is paying attention. One mistake and the personality becomes the subject of ridicule. One free pass and they’re labeled soft or being in the pocket of the organization.

People assume that when they listen to a talk show host that the person on the air is having fun, and speaking freely without consequence. What doesn’t get take into account though is who else is listening, and what the fallout becomes from expressing a certain point of view.

As tough as it may be for us to digest, we must remember and never lose sight of the fact that sports is a business. Everyday there’s a battle taking place to try and shape a personality’s opinion. Whether it’s based on something simple such as the outcome of a game or a personnel move, or a more complex matter like receiving inside information, and learning details from off-the-record conversations.

accessA host has to consume all of these things, detach themselves emotionally to make sense of them, and then share their thoughts with the audience honestly, objectively, and accurately. In doing so, they run the risk of losing access, additional benefits, and creating tension with the people they work for and with. This means that they have to be sound decision makers, and analyze when it makes sense to speak up, and when to stay silent.

Challenging powerful people when they threaten or disparage a community, and its fan base, is not a skill that every personality possesses. It’s what separates the good from the great. Those who are willing to risk relationships, and deal with additional roadblocks being placed in their path, in order to do what’s best for the audience, deserve our respect.

When a personality is in touch with their community, and honest, prepared, and willing to stand up for the people they perform for, that bond can last decades. As an employer, make sure you let them know that their effort matters and is appreciated. If you’re a listener, show your gratitude by listening and telling others to do the same. Those kind of gestures make it worthwhile for an on-air talent to continue fighting the good fight.

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Rachel Nichols and Baron Davis Headline Final Speaker Announcements For the 2023 BSM Summit

“I’m sure Baron and Rachel will have all eyes and ears focused on them when they take the stage together next Tuesday at 2:45pm PT.”

Jason Barrett




The 2023 BSM Summit schedule is set. After months of planning and talking to everyone across the industry, I’m ecstatic to roll out next week’s agenda including making one final announcement involving seven great additions to our conference.

For starters, it is a pleasure to welcome Showtime’s Rachel Nichols to the BSM Summit. I’ve admired her work on television for years, and am thrilled to have her guiding a session which I think many in the room are going to really enjoy.

Rachel’s guest will be former NBA star Baron Davis. Baron runs his own company, Baron Davis Enterprises, and he has been active in investing in media brands, and exploring ways to evolve the industry. Among his areas of passion, athletes taking more control of their brands, and the media industry needing to improve its track record with diversity. I’m sure Baron and Rachel will have all eyes and ears focused on them when they take the stage together next Tuesday at 2:45pm PT.

Also joining the Summit are a few longtime industry friends. For starters, VSiN’s program director Jon Goulet is someone who I’ve known and worked with, and he understands the sports betting audio space extremely well. Jon and BetQL VP of Programming Mitch Rosen will spend time with another industry friend, Bryan Curtis of The Ringer. Collectively they’ll examine the state of sports betting audio on Tuesday March 21st from 3:35p-4:10p, and what they look for when it comes to sports betting talent, and how they determine what is and isn’t success in the sports gambling content world.

With Mitch taking part in the sports betting panel, Jeff Rickard of WFNZ in Charlotte steps into The Programmer’s Panel alongside Jimmy Powers, John Mamola and Raj Sharan. The session is scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd from 9:10a-9:45a PT. Ironically, all four of these programmers work for different companies, so it’ll be interesting to hear how they differ and where they align while navigating through a few sports radio programming topics.

Next, I’m excited to introduce a social media session with Karlo Sy Su of ESPN Los Angeles and Matthew Demeke of AM 570 LA Sports. If you look at the performance of their brands on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook, they’ve each delivered strong audiences and engagement. I’m looking forward to hosting this one and learning about their processes, how they decide which platforms to focus on most, what they consider a social media win when analyzing social statistics, and how they develop their content process. Given our location, we’re calling the session ‘Social Media Goes Hollywood‘. It’s scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd from 3:35-4:10 PT.

I realize you’re not going to remember all of these session speakers and times off the top of your head, so to make it easier, log on to and scroll down past our speakers. That’s where you’ll find our detailed list of sessions/times and activities planned each day. We have eighteen sessions, two awards ceremonies, and two parties. Our kickoff party is presented by the WWE and takes place Monday March 20th from 7p-9p at the 1880 Founders Room. The ESPN Radio After Party takes place Tuesday March 21st from 6p-8p at the Lab Gastropub. Both party locations are in walking distance of the USC Hotel and our conference venue.

As an added bonus, thanks to the generosity of our friends at WWE, we will be giving away a pair of tickets to the first night of WrestleMania, and a WWE title at our kickoff party. WrestleMania takes place this year in Los Angeles at Sofi Stadium on March 25-26. You must be present at the kickoff party to win either prize.

We’ll have more to share next week including providing an ongoing blog with session news and notes for our readers. We’ll also have a ton of content available on our social media channels so if you’re not following @BSMStaff on Twitter, @BarrettSportsMedia on Facebook or @BarrettMedia on LinkedIn, what are you waiting for?

The focus now shifts to finishing our creative for next week’s show, sending information to our speakers for their sessions, and finalizing our attendees list. For those who are attending, we’ll be sending out an email on Friday or Saturday with a complete list of names of who’s coming so you can plan meetings in advance.

If you forgot to buy your ticket after seeing months of promotion about the event and meant to do so, you can still do that, but it costs more. Students on the other hand can take advantage of a low rate established for college kids at

Putting this event together isn’t easy, but I’m extremely pleased with how it’s come together. We have a lot of smart, talented, and accomplished people making time to be part of this, and I appreciate each and every one of them for doing so. Now, it’s all about the execution. Hope to see you next week in LA.

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Sports Broadcasting Icon Al Michaels To Be Honored at the 2023 BSM Summit

“This is a man who has spent more than five decades on your television screen calling the biggest games, and producing some of the most iconic moments sports has to offer.”

Jason Barrett




If you work in the sports media industry you’ve likely heard someone along the way utter the phrase “don’t bury the lead“. I’m usually good about following that advice but I didn’t do that at our 2022 BSM Summit.

We introduced the greatest tandem in sports radio history, Mike Francesa and Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo and it was a special half hour. Mike and the Mad Dog were reunited after seven years apart and every individual at the event knew they were witnessing something magical on stage. I created a Mike and the Mad Dog Award for the event, which went to Felger and Mazz, who were the absolute right choice to win it. Even Chris remarked ‘that’s the right call‘.

But I learned quickly that although the intention was right in honoring the industry’s current top performing show, when you have legends in the room and they’re in their element, the last thing you want to do is overcrowd them. The connection Mike and Chris had on the air became the gold standard by which we measure successful sports talk shows, and they didn’t need an award created to deliver a special moment, just two mics and 20-30 minutes of stage time.

As I began thinking about the 2023 BSM Summit, I knew there was an opportunity to build on what we started last year with Mike and Chris, and after talking to a few people who I trust and respect, the decision of who we would recognize became crystal clear. I believe it’s important to honor the greats in our business because those who leave a permanent mark on our industry deserve it. The man we’ve selected has spent more than five decades on your television screen calling the biggest games, and producing some of the most iconic moments sports has to offer. He’s worked with the best of the best inside the booth, has helped elevate the presentation and execution of in-game content for ABC, NBC and Amazon, and his call of the Miracle on Ice, the US Olympic hockey team’s 1980 gold medal win over Russia remains one of the best calls in the history of sports.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored and privileged to share that Al Michaels will join us on Wednesday March 22nd at the 2023 BSM Summit for our awards presentation, where we will present him with BSM’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michaels is one of America’s most respected sports broadcasting voices, known for his exceptional work on Monday Night Football (1986-2005), Sunday Night Football (2006-2022) and Thursday Night Football (2022-Present). He’s called the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, Hagler-Hearns, the Olympics, the Indy 500, Horse Racing’s Triple Crown races, College Football and Basketball games, Golf, and more. He’s even held roles as the voice of the University of Hawaii, the Cincinnati Reds, and the San Francisco Giants, and was in the booth in 1989 when an earthquake rocked the Bay Area during Game 3 of the A’s-Giants world series.

The Brooklyn native turned Los Angeles resident has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and owns a ton of hardware including five sports Emmy’s, three NSMA Sportscaster of the Year honors, the 2013 Pete Rozelle Radio & Television Award distributed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award given out by the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Though his trophy case may be full, we’re excited to add another to his collection to show our appreciation and respect for the impact he’s made on the sports media business.

A quick reminder, the BSM Summit takes place on Tuesday March 21st and Wednesday March 22nd at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California. Tickets are on-sale at

Be advised, we have started adding sessions and times on the website. As always, the schedule is subject to change. Our final agenda will be posted by the end of next week. In addition, attendees will receive an email by next Friday with details of who will be in attendance. We hope to see you there.

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Rob Parker, Brian Long, Sean Thompson and Matt Fishman Join The BSM Summit Speaker Lineup

“I’m excited to welcome a few folks who have enjoyed success in different parts of the country, and in different areas of the business.”

Jason Barrett




As we gear up for our 5th annual BSM Summit on March 21-22, 2023, I’m starting to get a better feel for how the final puzzle may look. When this process starts I have no idea how it’s going to turn out because so much depends on who says yes and no. Many who’ve attended over the years have complimented our lineups, and I appreciate it because I put a lot of time and effort into featuring a strong mix of professionals from different areas of the industry. Though I’m proud of the work we do and the schedule we deliver, there are so many things pursued leading up to the event that I can’t help but wonder ‘what if this or that had worked out?’

One thing that some folks don’t understand if they haven’t been to the show before is that this is not a talent conference. It’s a sports media business conference. That means we feature radio, TV and digital executives, programmers, researchers, sales professionals, and yes, talent. I believe on-air performers are vital to the industry’s success and I want the best of the best sharing their wisdom with everyone in the room, but we’re also not going to do two full days of on-air conversations. Being successful in sports media requires understanding the on-air side and the business side, and we do our best to offer a blend of both.

For today’s announcement, I’m excited to welcome a few sports media pros who have enjoyed success in different parts of the country, and in different areas of the business.

First, Rob Parker is someone who has made a name for himself as a radio host, writer, TV commentator, and teacher. He’s currently heard weeknights on FOX Sports Radio, teaches students at USC Annenberg, writes for Deadspin, and is helping MLBBro gain awareness and a bigger mainstream media presence covering Major League Baseball. He’s experienced, smart, and never short on opinion. I’m looking forward to having him join Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score/BetQL, and Scott Shapiro of FOX Sports Radio for a session titled “Aircheck On Campus“. They’ll take the stage together on Wednesday March 22nd from 2:10-2:45.

My next three speakers, all come from the sports radio programming department.

Matt Fishman is the Director of Content for ESPN 850 Cleveland. Fishman has been with the brand since January 2020 following stints at SiriusXM, 610 Sports in Kansas City, and 670 The Score in Chicago. He even wrote for BSM for a few years.

Sean Thompson is responsible for programming decisions at Arizona Sports and ESPN 620 AM. He joined the well respected Phoenix brand after more than a decade in Atlanta at 92.9 The Game. Sean has also worked in affiliate relations for Westwood One, and on the air and as a programmer in music radio for Good Karma Brands in Madison, WI.

Brian Long is the program director of both San Diego Sports 760 and KOGO 600 in San Diego. In addition to guiding two of the top talk brands in his market, he has also managed Seattle Sports 710, and served as the Assistant Program Director for ESPN LA 710.

Matt, Sean, and Brian will be part of one of our final sessions on day two of the Summit. The Last Call which yours truly is hosting, will explore unique revenue opportunities created by local brands, and examine a few new ideas and missed opportunities that brands and managers may want to take advantage of in the future.

As of today, the Summit has more than forty accomplished professionals taking the stage at the Founders Club at USC’s Galen Center on March 21-22, 2023. I’ve got a few others still to announce as well, including a few cool giveaways planned for the WWE’s Kickoff party.

If you haven’t bought a ticket and wish to be in the room, visit The last day for ticket sales will be Monday March 13th. I’m hoping to release our final schedule of sessions on Tuesday March 14th. Hopefully I’ll see you in the city of angels.

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