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Striking While The Iron Is Hot

Jason Barrett

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Landing a job can be a very emotional and tiring process. In most cases, candidates wrestle with numerous questions about whether to stay or go, while trying to craft the perfect narrative to satisfy their fears about the future. They sometimes take weeks, and even months trying to determine if a new opportunity makes sense to accept.

Equally as challenging is the employer’s position. When a vacancy exists inside an operation, there’s a lot of disruptions that occur. It becomes difficult for other staff members because they’re usually asked to absorb a heavier burden, and depending on the position, it can lead to an increase in noise from the outside too.

In both instances, each side is tasked with one important responsibility – making the right choice!

But it doesn’t always work out that way.

oddsWhen you hire someone, you have a 50/50 chance of being right. The choice you make can leave you looking like a genius or the biggest fool in the office. You can research an individual, and talk to everyone under the sun about them, and while those conversations will offer insight to help you out, it still comes down to trusting your gut!

If you’re the candidate, it’s a similar gamble. You can look at the city you’re considering moving to and review the company’s previous hires, talk to people employed by the same organization in other cities, and even analyze the group’s stock performance if you wish, but when the moment comes to say yes, you’re going to do it based on the connection you’ve formed with the individual(s) offering you an opportunity.

Although every scenario is different, I’m a big believer in striking while the iron is hot. The longer a hiring process plays out, the worse it usually turns out. In many cases it also leads to the ‘hot candidate’ or ‘perfect job’ becoming less attractive.

When a company reaches out to discuss a possible fit, that initial inquiry tells you that they believe you are worth pursuing. How you click with the hiring team once you start talking indicates whether or not things will advance to the next level.

Assuming the discussions go well, it’s often followed up with a face to face meeting, and a ‘sales pitch’ on how great the situation could be if you were to get on board.

choiceAfter two sides lay out their negotiating points and find a middle ground, most companies will ask for a resolution. They may give you an extra day or two to think things over but then they expect an answer. If you’re not sold by this point, you may ask a few follow up questions to gain some extra feedback, but if what gets relayed doesn’t put your mind at ease to say yes and sign on the dotted line, then it’s not likely going to work out.

Now let’s look at it from the other side.

If you’re the employer and you’ve done your homework scouting a potential hire, you know pretty quickly if they have the skillset you’re looking for. You’ll review their work history, dig into their background to find out if there are any skeletons in their closet, and you may talk to some people who have worked with the candidate to make sure they’re someone worth sticking your neck out for.

Once that information is known, the real questions to be answered are whether or not you can connect as manager to employee, what the expectations of the position are, what you’re willing to do to help them experience success, and what the compensation package looks like. If those questions are met with resistance, and the two sides can’t find a happy medium, then it’s not going to be good for either party.

As the employer roleplays in their mind whether or not someone is the right fit to join the staff, they end up crossing people off the list the longer the process continues.

When you’re impressed and excited, you want to move fast so nobody else can get their hands on the prize that you’ve uncovered. Rather than move forward with uncertainty, you’re ready to cancel all other considerations because your mind, heart and gut are all telling you the same thing – the situation feels right. If that feeling isn’t there, it’s probably for a good reason.

dateIt’s similar to being a single male who meets a gorgeous woman. If you don’t act quickly to express your interest and ask her on a date, someone else will be right behind you ready to act. Once they do, you may never get another chance.

Let’s be clear about something – if a hiring manager doesn’t believe you’re a special individual or the right fit, that doesn’t mean you lack skill or wouldn’t be great elsewhere. So many partnerships in this business are the result of a strong fit and connection than they are about who possesses more talent.

Some applicants take it personally when the call doesn’t come their way, and while it can be frustrating when you have your hopes up and want to be part of a specific operation, the reality is that it’s not going to work out if the person making the call doesn’t have an unwavering belief, confidence and genuine excitement about having you on their staff.

I’m often asked by people and companies for input on candidates and possible openings and there are a few key things I believe are important as it pertains to this process.

First here are a few tips for the candidates.

  • Don’t pursue a position if you’re not willing to accept it: A lot of people like to feel important and receive an offer to make them feel good, but when push comes to shove, they’re not ready to accept. There’s nothing wrong with exploring your options, but before you put a hiring boss on the hook with their company for making you an offer, make sure you are committed to pursuing it. If you’re not, be up front with them that the likelihood of you accepting the offer is a long shot. You’ll gain more respect that way and you may even be surprised by how far the group will go to try and secure your services.
  • Pursue with passion but respect the hiring manager’s rules for communication: If they want more audio, send it. If they tell you don’t call, don’t. If they ask for a few days to respond, be patient. Even if you hear of others being given consideration for the job, remember that you’re not the only person they’re going to talk to. If your talent is great and you fit the bill for what they’re after, they’ll follow up. There’s a fine line between persistence and annoyance. Don’t cross it and cost yourself an opportunity.
  • Have an understanding of what matters to you most in the job you’re seeking: If you make your wish list and it shows “money, length of commitment, and great city with warm weather” as your three most important elements, and the company pursuing you checks those boxes, you can understand their frustration if you don’t accept. It’s one thing to not explore a job because the money wasn’t right, the commitment was thin, or the neighborhoods don’t align with your preferred choice of living, but whether it’s three, four or five key items, know what they are, and press the hiring group on them so you have the clarity you need in making your decision.

Now let’s take a look at things from the position of the employer.

  • Know what you’re looking for before you start the process: If you’re drawn to someone who makes you laugh and is less confrontational, say that. If you prefer the opposite, say that too. Hiring managers want great talent and a guarantee of future success but it starts with the specifics. Think about the qualities you’re drawn to in others, what you want your brand and people to represent, how you want them to approach their jobs, and then focus on the candidates who fit the bill. There’s a lot of talent out there but you can’t identify the right one until you know what you’re searching for.
  • Investigate, communicate, and set a date: When you have an opening, your focus turns to finding a solution. If you had a gash on your arm you wouldn’t wait to get it stitched up and it’s no different with filling a hole on your staff. Turn over every stone you can so you have a thorough understanding of the person you’re considering hiring. Talk to friends, family, colleagues, competitors, and get a true sense of who it is you’re considering forming a partnership with. Then, set a deadline so others in your company know what can be expected, and you can hold yourself accountable to deliver a solution. As you engage with candidates, stick to your word if you promise a follow up call or email. If you’re not interested, communicate that too. Transparency is important in staying on track and maintaining respect with those who apply. Remember, people talk to other people. You don’t want to damage your reputation by not handling things that were under your control.
  • Don’t offer the job unless you’re 100% sure it’s the person you want: I’ve advised a few people on certain jobs and on three different occasions, a company has offered a position, only to rescind it afterwards. That’s not only bad business but it’s disrespectful. It’s also the type of decision making that leads me to caution others on pursuing work with those organizations. If a manager isn’t sold on someone or is having buyer’s remorse, that’s understandable. But remember that your credibility and reputation are on the line once you make the call. If you’re unsure, don’t make an offer. You can still discuss salary requirements, the length of a contract, and job specifics without an agreement. If you want the responsibility of hiring people, then take it seriously. Don’t mess with someone’s emotions or risk causing damage to their family or current job by not being sure if you want them on your staff. They’ll respect and appreciate you more for walking away than if you make a promise you can’t deliver on.

When you think about the challenges of hiring or going to work for a new company, picture being in the middle of the process between an NFL or MLB franchise, and a key Free Agent or Head Coach.

chipOnce the world knows that a player or coach is available, word trickles out and teams begin doing their due diligence. They’ll investigate what an individual brings to the table, how they believe they’d fit the team, and then after they gain some insight into what that person is seeking in terms of salary and length of commitment, they’ll make a decision on whether or not to move forward.

Once they know they’re interested, that’s when the madness begins.

Soon the visits are scheduled, conversations are had on a deeper level, and in the matter of a few hours, people are making life changing decisions. Rarely do you see these situations linger for weeks or months.

Each free agent enters a facility knowing that they could be signing a long term commitment that day. There’s no extended window offered to review the school system, the daily commute time, or the leisure spots in the area for the family. Those are things that people adjust to.

Instead the focus is on these key factors:

  • Are they meeting my salary requirements
  • Are they offering enough security (length) to ease my mind
  • Do I believe they’re committed to winning and possess a strong vision
  • Do I click with the boss and feel we can have a good working relationship

If those four boxes get checked, then it’s up to the individual to process the information in their head, talk to their family, trust their gut, and make the call. They could be making a big mistake or it could be the beginning of their own personal nirvana. Regardless of how it turns out in the future though, a decision has to be made in the present.

I see too many situations pop up where companies spend months looking for the perfect candidate, only to stunt their growth, disrupt their inner workings, and slow down business, all because they were gunshy on making a hire. You do more damage dragging out a process than you do by making a decision and having to adjust down the road.

nervousThere’s a feeling of nervousness inside most hiring managers because nobody wants to make the wrong move. That’s a natural feeling and it shows that you care about your company and want to do the right thing. But you can feel good enough to hit Powerball on the day you hire someone, and there still remains a strong possibility that you may have swung and missed.

The same applies to any person exploring a new opportunity. You can feed your ego and boost your confidence by pursuing opportunities and you may even gain a contract offer, but remember that the feeling of being the shiny new toy eventually goes away.

Making a decision to leave one place for another just because you don’t feel appreciated is fine, but make sure first that you’ve addressed the situation with your current company, and understand how they view you, where you stand, and what your ceiling is. Too often people leave situations in search of greener grass, only to find that it doesn’t exist.

As cliche as it sounds, we work in the communication business yet struggle to communicate. We’d rather reject a boss and blame them for our lack of development instead of seeking them out and challenging them to make us better. We’d rather chase the bigger immediate paycheck than look at how staying put will pay greater long term dividends.

riskAnd companies are often guilty of the same thing. They’d rather do less investigating, and hire the person with the longer resume and safer track record, than bet on someone less familiar with more talent and a higher upside. It’s easier to do what others have done, and protect your spot, than stand in the line of fire by attempting to do something great and different.

Regardless of the side you’re on, the bottom line in all of this is to do your homework, know what you’re looking for, find a middle ground, and when the conversations intensify, be ready to make a commitment. The longer you wait, the more you will talk yourself out of things, and the less likely you will be to work together. That could be a devastating blow, or a blessing in disguise. Your chances of being right are 50/50!

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett

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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 BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

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 BSMSummit.com.

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 BSMSummit.com.

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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

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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