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What I Learned From The Best In Sports Radio Series

Jason Barrett

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After six days, List-A-Mania has officially stopped running wild. It was fun putting together Barrett Sports Media’s “Best in Sports Radio of 2015” but now that all of the categories and winners have been announced, I thought I’d take some time to share some of the things I learned from overseeing this project.

I couldn’t have put this together properly without the full support of the industry. For those of you who read the columns, shared them on Facebook and Twitter, discussed them on-air, and personally sought me out to share your input, I simply say thank you! These things only work if the individuals and groups involved get behind them, and I was pleased to see many professionals take pride in the way the format and its top performers were presented.

As I stated from the start, these results are very subjective. Unfortunately in our line of work there is no head to head competition to determine which show, host and station is the best in the format, and there are so many factors to consider that it’s not possible to put together a perfect criteria. But by involving 35 executives from 23 U.S cities and 15 broadcast companies, I think we did as thorough of a job as we could.

That said, there are always lessons to be learned, and areas to be improved upon. The past few weeks taught me a lot about research, talent, perceptions, misinformation, competition, pride, and why projects like this are important for people in the sports radio industry.

When I decided to take the plunge and start working on this project, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. I knew there’d be tons of feedback, some of it very negative, and with an imperfect criteria and the identity of the executives being kept private, I felt it would leave open too many holes and put me in the line of fire.

I was also concerned about company bias and geographical influence playing a big role in the final decisions. Luckily, I was able to assemble a strong group spread out across the nation, and the members of the executive committee did a nice job of trying to be fair and balanced with their votes.

Was it perfect? No. But a number of shows/hosts who have been overlooked or discredited in the past, received their due, and I was personally comfortable with the finished product.

So what could we have done better, that we may want to adjust if we decide to do this again?

Well, I came up with a few things.

Voting:

As I mentioned repeatedly, I did not vote on any category. I had to remind folks of that because there was this belief that I either recognized or excluded a show, station or programmer from the list but nothing could be further from the truth. I stayed out of the voting process on purpose because I was creating the content and I thought it was important to remain neutral and let the votes of industry executives determine the final selections.

Should I be involved? Should my ballot be available for everyone to see? That’s something to consider next time around.

East Coast Bias:

If you look at the results from the outside looking in, you’re likely to come away with the opinion that the voters favored the East Coast brands. Six categories were decided, and 5 included winners from New York, Boston, and Washington DC.

So that must mean that the East Coast voters helped shape the outcome right?

Not exactly.

17 of the 35 voters were located in the Midwest, Southwest and West Coast, and twelve of those executives listed WFAN in the Top 5, including 7 who ranked the station #1 overall. The Sports Hub meanwhile was in the Top 5 on 10 of those ballots, and earned three 1st place votes. Only two of the 17 listed WFAN or The Sports Hub outside of the Top 10.

It’s easy to criticize the voters for giving a lot of respect to WFAN, The Sports Hub and other top East Coast brands, but the fact of the matter is that each of those radio stations registered high because they’ve earned that respect by being consistent performers.

The Sports Hub’s ratings have been among the industry’s best, WFAN delivers big numbers in the nation’s #1 media market, and the same holds true for brands like WIP, WEEI, 97.1 The Ticket and 97.5 The Fanatic. To suggest they’re not worthy of top billing is to carry bias towards those brands or markets, because there’s no doubt that they’re some of the best our format has to offer.

Small Market Rejections:

A number of folks reached out to voice their displeasure with the way the smaller markets were left out of the Top 20 in multiple categories. They have a valid point. If you’re a small market show or station, I understand how frustrating it must be to do good work and have it overlooked because a larger market station with a similar performance took your spot. There is no perfect solution when you include brands from all locations in the same categories.

Although it may not sit well with you, this exact situation happens in professional sports all the time. How many times do we hear people complain about seeing the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Cubs on national television? Those same complaints are heard when big market teams spend big on free agents, making it harder for smaller market teams to compete.

Is it fair? Of course not. But it’s within the rules, and if you want to play in the big leagues, you have to do what the Kansas City Royals did last year, and overcome the odds and force the world to take notice.

I can make a strong case for 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, 101 ESPN in St. Louis, WJOX in Birmingham, and 97.1 The Fan in Columbus earning more respect. Each of those stations deliver big in their respective markets, and shows like “The Fast Lane” in St. Louis, and “3HL in Nashville” are top rated and very enjoyable to listen to. They are absolutely worthy of being in a conversation with the best 20 afternoon programs in the country.

But what I discovered is that if those brands/shows and other smaller markets with strong sports stations/shows don’t promote their performance and make sure the industry is aware of what they’re doing, then it’s going to be extremely difficult to overcome a top tier station from a Top 10 market.

We’d all like to believe that everything is created equal and it’s an apples to apples comparison, but the reality is that an 8 share in Missouri or Alabama isn’t going to lure as many votes as an 8 share in Boston, Philadelphia, or New York. Not because the talent and performance isn’t special or equal, but because those larger markets reach more people, and they perform under higher company expectations.

The reason broadcasters in this business chase bigger market opportunities is because they want to be seen as the best in the industry, make more money, and perform under the brightest lights. When you succeed in these locations, you earn more respect. That certainly was a factor in the voting process.

You can knock the larger market stations/shows for being ranked above some others that are equally as deserving in smaller regions, but if you expect to change perceptions in the future, you’re going to have to perform higher than those brands, and make sure that everyone is aware of your story.

Perception Trumps Performance:

If there was an area that I felt was inconsistent it was this one. To be fair, it’s difficult to expect every voter to have intimate knowledge of every single brand, when they themselves are running companies and/or radio stations. Even those who aren’t running operations don’t have the hours available to listen to every single station and show on a daily basis.

This is why gaining information about the performance of brands is important. Call me old-school but I do believe that delivering ratings should matter in a process like this.

For example, I am a big Tony Kornheiser fan. Many who voted on this panel are as well, which is why he earned the honor of being named “Midday Show of the Year“. However, while I’m well aware of his track record in the format and the digital impact he’s made for ESPN 980, I also know that his ratings are 3-4 points lower than his competitor. I’m not sure if every member of the executive committee was aware of that fact or considered it when deciding where Tony deserved to be placed.

This doesn’t mean that Tony doesn’t deliver the better show in the market or that he’s not worthy of being rated at the top, because if you’ve listened to him you know he’s unique, interesting and very entertaining. The reason I point it out is to show how perception and a lack of awareness of some facts can play into the process.

I saw this same situation pop up in Seattle, where KJR’s afternoon show made the cut but their competitor 710 ESPN did not, even though they won the Men 25-54 ratings battle for the majority of 2015. I also felt KFAN in Minneapolis and SiriusXM deserved higher placement in a few areas but I’m not sure if everyone involved was as familiar with their content offerings or what they had accomplished during the past year. In KFAN’s case, their ratings story is one of the best in the country.

One other surprise was Jim Rome’s showing in the national voting. He didn’t receive one 1st place vote from the executive committee, and despite ranking 5th, was separated from 4th by over 100 points. Rome gained support thanks to his reputation and previous track record but not many were subscribing to him as a difference maker on the national scene.

Now before you blame the executive committee for these things, I want to ask one question of those brands and personalities who finished ranked lower than their competitor or not on the list at all — “What did you do during the past year to promote your success and make sure the industry knew you were ahead of your competition?”

I’ve touched on this issue before and I won’t let up until it sinks in – if you want people to take notice of the great work you do, you’ve got to let them know! It really is that simple.

One of radio’s biggest issues is its inability to promote its own success. If brands chose to operate behind a wall of secrecy rather than inform the public of the way they’re performing, then they’ve got nobody to blame when they fail to receive the credit they deserve. The reason why New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas and Chicago stations appear on the radar is because their ratings performances are reported frequently. Why other markets don’t follow suit I’m not sure, but they’re missing out on an opportunity.

If there’s one last thing to remember about perception, it’s that regardless of the way we see things, it doesn’t make us right. I heard from multiple people in the format who were critical of Mike Francesa being ranked #1 as the top afternoon show. They’re entitled to their opinion and I understand where they’re coming from, but that doesn’t make them right.

You can argue whether or not his content is as stellar as the other shows he’s measured against, but you can’t dispute his ratings success in the nation’s top market. Judging by the way the voters voted, being a top dog in New York seems to be important. That doesn’t make it right, but it also doesn’t make it wrong.

Where Is The Diversity?

As I browsed through the shows that made our Top 20 lists, I couldn’t help but be reminded and disappointed by the format’s lack of women and minorities. The morning show category featured only one female, and one minority talent. Three of the twenty midday programs contained a minority host and no women, and four afternoon shows included a minority host and no women. There were also zero minorities or females on the program director list.

The national picture was better, but only slightly. In that case, five of the twenty programs included minority talent, but once again no women! Two of those shows (Stephen A. Smith and Bomani Jones) were built around a minority personality, something none of the local programs offered.

I’ve written before about sports radio’s challenges with diversity and the need for more women in key roles and if these results didn’t open your eyes to the balance issues that exist in the format, I’m not sure what will.

How can we improve it? Should it even be changed?

Those are questions each station will need to answer on their own. I only hope that as we look at these lists in the future they include more people from different backgrounds because it’s an area that will help the format grow and enjoy larger success.

The Voting Totals:

I thought it’d be beneficial to share an example of what one of the scoring charts looked like. For this particular exercise I included the Program Directors chart and listed the candidates who were 1-25 in scoring. This allows you to see which 5 programmers were on the outside looking in, but not far away from reaching the Top 20. These types of grids were used for scoring each category.

PD

I was also asked by a couple of people which shows were within striking distance of reaching the Top 20 and I’ve listed below the different categories and who was slotted between 20-25. You’ll see a number next to each show which is the amount of points they needed to reach 20th place.

Morning Shows:                                             

20. Bob Fescoe – 610 Sports Kansas City = 136

21. In The Loop – KILT Houston = 135 (-1)

22. Norris & Davis – 105.7 The Fan Baltimore = 111 (-25)

23. Joy & Zaslow – 790 The Ticket Miami = 100 (-36)

24. The Wake Up Zone – 104.5 The Zone Nashville = 92 (-44)

25. The Morning Animals – WWLS Oklahoma City = 87 (-49)

Midday Shows:

20. Mad Radio – 610 KILT Houston = 118

21. Soren Petro – 810 WHB Kansas City = 115 (-3)

22. Bickley & Marotta – Arizona Sports 98.7FM Phoenix = 115 (-3)

23. Big O – WQAM Miami = 107 (-11)

24. Darren Smith = Mighty 1090 San Diego = 94 (-24)

25. Vinny & Rob – 105.7 The Fan Baltimore = 93 (-25)

Afternoon Shows:                                                  

20. DMac & Alfred – 104.3 The Fan Denver = 113

21. Burns & Gambo – Arizona Sports 98.7FM Phoenix = 110 (-3)

22. Chuck & Chernoff – 680 The Fan Atlanta = 110 (-3)

23. Starkey & Mueller – 93.7 The Fan Pittsburgh = 98 (-15)

24. Kevin Keitzman – 810 WHB Kansas City = 94 (-19)

25. The Fast Lane = 101 ESPN St. Louis = 74 (-39)

National Shows:

20. Damon Amendolara – CBS Sports Radio = 159

21. Jason Smith – Fox Sports Radio = 146 (-13)

22. Freddie Coleman – ESPN Radio = 97 (-62)

23. Gio & Jones – CBS Sports Radio = 92 (-67)

24. The Morning Men – Sirius XM Mad Dog Radio = 84 (-75)

25. Ferrall On The Bench – CBS Sports Radio = 79 (-80)

Conclusion:

Although I felt the finished product was reflective of the industry’s viewpoints and showcased the shows and stations in a positive light, I’m always contemplating what I can do to make it better. The response was strong, and many personalities, programmers and radio station executives felt good about the way they were presented, so that gives me confidence to explore doing it again.

However, if we do so, I’ll have a number of things to consider. Are 35 executives too many or not enough? Should there be a major market and smaller market category? Do we create a category for the Top 20 sports anchors? Does podcasting enter the picture as a future category? What other suggestions will pop up between now and then?

There’s a lot to think about and fortunately I’ve got a lot of time to mull things over before diving back into it.

If I do this again in 2017, there’s one thing I know for certain, it will once again be presented during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. I have had my fair share of misses in this business but if there’s one thing I know made sense, it was the decision to present these awards during a time when 75-100 media brands were at radio row for a full week. What can I say, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.

To close this out, I want to congratulate everyone who received recognition from our executive committee and thank the members of the panel for taking part in it. If you have an opinion you’d like to share about this year’s awards, please email me at JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me. It’s been a fun process, one that drew a lot of attention to many great performers and brands in our industry, but for now it’s time to give the lists a rest! At least until next year’s Super Bowl!

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope to see you there!

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