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Sharing Your Success With Your Audience

Jason Barrett

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Earlier this week I posted two stories highlighting the positive gains made in Nashville by 104.5 The Zone, and in Houston by ESPN 97.5. Both brands produced great January ratings which has many inside both organizations feeling good.

It’s what took place after I wrote those stories that really caught my attention. I couldn’t help but think back to an earlier column I wrote last year about the importance of telling your own story, and not following the advice of Nielsen who recommend keeping your data private.

nielsenThat’s one thing I’ve never understood about the radio business. We give millions of dollars each year to Nielsen to measure the performance of radio stations in each market, only to receive information that many consider flawed due to small sample sizes. Then, whether we have a strong story to share or not, we’re encouraged to keep the results to ourselves.

Oh and by the way, if you don’t tell your story and the information gets into the hands of a local newspaper or your competitor creates a narrative to strengthen their image and devalue yours, you’re left to defend yourself, and your performance, when in fact you should’ve never had to in the first place.

Does that make any sense?

If a radio company is spending their money for a service to capture the way their brands are received by the local audience, shouldn’t they expect an accurate performance and have the right to use the information the way they see fit?

mensCan you imagine going into Men’s Wearhouse, spending money for a new suit, only to be told that they’re not sure if they can offer you the right size and you can only wear the outfit on select days?

That seems pretty ridiculous doesn’t it?

When I raise the issue about the importance of sharing your story, it’s these reasons above why I’m so passionate and committed to it. Putting together the various ratings reports that I do on this website takes a lot of time, and research but I believe it can provide a lot more good than bad. Judging by the way the articles are consumed, shared and responded to, it’s obvious that it matters to people.

Before I display some examples to show you the positives that can come from it, let me remind you that a strong ratings performance doesn’t mean that a brand is successful. There are plenty of radio stations that generate high revenues and connect with large audiences yet don’t  necessarily see the credit in their monthly numbers.

However, it is the system we operate in and it is the report card we’re dealt each month. A fair share of advertisers still decide where to place their dollars based on what they see on your scorecard, so if it’s important enough to influence future spending with your company, then it should matter enough to you and your organization to deliver a healthy number.

So when you do produce that positive number, and you’re feeling good inside the hallways of your operation, how do you make sure that others beyond your own walls know about it? Are you telling the industry trades? Your clients? Your listeners? Or are you keeping it internal, and letting the opportunity to highlight your brand, your people, and more importantly, your audience, pass you by?

promoSometimes industry professionals make the mistake of thinking that by acknowledging a job well done that it means they’re boasting or downgrading the others they compete against. There’s a difference between saying “I’m proud of what we’ve done, and we’re grateful for your support” and “We’re #1 because we’re great and nobody else belongs in the conversation”. If that’s what you decide to say, then yes you’re bragging and likely going to have everyone rooting for you to fail rather than wanting to be part of your success.

Let me share with you a few samples from this past week. You’ll see how much people appreciate hearing that their listenership matters, and how they respond when they feel involved in a brand’s success.

First, let me show you what Fred Faour of ESPN 97.5 posted on Facebook after I posted the story about his radio station’s success in the January ratings book. His afternoon program “The Blitz” which he hosts with AJ Hoffman, was the top rated show in the Houston market for the month, and that’s something that both men should be extremely proud of. But it’s the way that Fred addressed the news, that captured why the show is connecting in strong fashion with Houston sports radio listeners.

sharingsuccess

By giving the credit to the audience, and thanking them for being part of the journey, especially with the twist of “Blitz Appreciation Day” (they took a good story and made it great), the fans felt included in the success of the show, which led to a lot of positive response.

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And it wasn’t just on Facebook either. The same engagement took place on Twitter.

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We often hear about social media bringing out the worst in people, and I’m not here to dispute that, because there are plenty of issues that exist in the social space. What we don’t hear much though are the ways it can provide a positive experience. As you can see above, when you share a good story, and include people in the process, they’re proud to express their appreciation and that type of marketing doesn’t cost a dime and can be very powerful.

If you’re wondering if it’s a matter of Houston fans operating differently than other cities, guess again. I saw the same result in Nashville.

A couple of the crew at 104.5 The Zone shared the good news with their listeners on social media, and wouldn’t you know it, people were happy to learn about it. I pulled Mickey Ryan’s post on Facebook, and audience reactions to Jonathan Hutton and Chad Withrow. I also threw in some tweets which poured in after I shared the Nashville ratings story on Twitter.

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Altogether there were hundreds of comments, likes, and retweets on social media, and the reaction from the audience was positive. They felt important, empowered, and part of the brand’s success. When listeners feel like they’re receiving special access and information, it makes them feel valued, and they begin to tell the story of your brand better than any television commercial or print ad ever could.

These are two great success stories and there are others out there just like them. I can’t force this industry to promote itself, and I can’t make programmers, talent, and executives want to share their story. I can only offer to help and remind them of why it matters.

If there’s one thing I’ve been frustrated by throughout the years, it’s how this format gets beaten up in print by writers who don’t understand the ratings game or the numerous ways sports radio stations measures their success.

corporatemediacontrol1Some columnists have an axe to grind with certain local personalities or they don’t respect the medium because they believe any person can get behind a microphone, offer a strong opinion and generate a response. They see sports radio as a threat to their platform, and can’t understand how some could consider what we do to be art. When an opportunity arises to ignore a station’s success or poke holes in their performance, they take full advantage of it.

While we can sit here and complain each time a column is written that paints a negative picture of our brands and format, I believe it’s the responsibility of each radio station to get out in front of their own story.

Remember this, no columnist owes you a positive article. They decide what content they want to feature on their platform, and although you may believe you deserve recognition in their publication for what you’ve accomplished, if they disagree, you lose.

So then how do you change that?

Social media today is yesterday’s newspaper. Many of us used to wake up, open up the sports section, read the articles, check the box scores and latest stats, and then talk about it with our friends and family. Now though, social media is where we begin, continue, and end our day, and many of the things we discover, appear right in front of our eyes on our own timelines.

smIf your brand has put the time and resources into building its audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Periscope, then you’re in the right locations. The people who follow your brand are doing so because they enjoy your personalities and content. When you treat them to inside stories such as a new hire, a private contest, an internal debate, or a successful month in the ratings, they often share the information and engage in discussion about it. They become a verbal marketing machine for your organization.

Many operators lose sight of the fact that their own CEO’s are sharing their company story once per quarter with investors. Sales reps and Market Managers are doing the same in person, by phone, and through email with advertisers and local partners. So if those things are taking place, then what are you worried about? Even if your brand has a bad month, it’s forgotten thirty days later.

I’m only one man with an opinion, and you’re more than welcome to disagree with my point of view. Lord knows I’ve been wrong before and will be again at some point.

But from where I sit, I see a lot of good stories taking place across the country in this format. Many of them could provide a couple of local sales staffs with some great ammunition to land larger dollars, while also igniting the local audience and making them want to spend more time supporting their favorite local sports radio stations.

The last time I checked, the goal was to increase the amount of time listeners spend with the radio station and generate more revenue. If that’s the case, and sharing your success helps you take a step closer to accomplishing both goals, then why on earth would you not do it?

The examples above from Nashville and Houston are proof of what can happen when you let people share in your success. The only question you should be asking yourself now is, what exactly are you gaining by not letting them know?

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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