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A Millennial’s Open Letter To The Radio Industry

Jason Barrett



For the past twenty to thirty years, sports radio has been led by many of the same personalities. And for good reason. They’ve built powerful brands all across the country, delivering big ratings and large revenues.

But soon the sports format is going to undergo changes and be tested to provide personalities that can lead us through the next twenty to thirty years. I’m often asked is “Who’s the next Mike Francesa? Where are tomorrow’s superstars? Will Millennials want to work in sports radio in 5 years?”

oneThe reason those questions can’t be answered are because it varies from market to market and programmer to programmer. Some believe it’s their responsibility to invest in the future and plan ahead, others are worried about winning today’s ratings battle and protecting their own position.

What gets lost in the shuffle is how disconnected from the future we are. There’s a limited focus placed on finding, developing, and promoting young talent. Maybe that’s not a grave concern at the moment, but when the format’s best personalities ride off into the sunset, and the day arrives when technology giants start exploring a move into the sports audio space, then what will radio do?

Radio may be well positioned as the in-car companion, and its transition to digital has drastically improved, but if exclusive sports content is offered on platforms like Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter, etc. it’ll create a big challenge for the radio industry. In the current economic climate, these companies have more money, a larger reach, stronger stockholder support, and the full attention of the advertiser community.

socialI raise this point because younger people today are growing up interested in consuming content and working for platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. The idea of working for a local newspaper or radio company is foreign to them. When I was young, options were limited, and the thought of being a radio personality or featured sports columnist seemed like the best job in the world. But today, media groups are launching everywhere on a daily basis, and as interest in the content increases in social and digital circles, so will the amount of career interest from younger candidates.

This is why radio can’t fall asleep at the wheel and needs to be committed to discovering new talent and making the industry cool and fun to younger people. Just the other day I was driving with my son, and when I turned on the radio, he said “Dad, do we have to listen to the radio?” I reminded him that this was my business, and one that he’s grown up around, and he said “I’m sorry Dad but my phone sounds better, doesn’t play all of those commercials, and more people interact on social media. Radio feels old to me.”

My son turns 14 this weekend so he’s not in the demo that sports radio courts to showcase its success, but if that view of radio continues over the next 10 years, it’s going to be harder to get people to listen, and even more difficult to lure them to work in the industry, especially when it pays considerably less.

That got me to thinking, what does a current radio professional who’s part of the millennial class think of the industry today? Is it fun? Is it a business that they see long-term growth and stability in? How do they feel about the coaching that’s provided and opportunities to develop?

craighoffman2Fortunately, Craig Hoffman was willing to share his point of view and I think it’s not only riveting, but it’s important for programmers, market managers, and corporate executives to pay attention to it. We can dismiss the way the youth perceive the industry and continue telling ourselves everything will stand the test of time like it always has, but eventually, the world does catch up. If we don’t make a more concerted effort on our part to bring young people to the party, it’ll only be a matter of time until the music stops playing and the lights go out.

Rather than take my word for it, here’s Craig’s column to give you something to think about.

A Millennial’s Open Letter To The Radio Industry by Craig Hoffman

The sports radio industry is in a very interesting place. It’s volatile. It’s rapidly changing. It’s very future seems up in the air.

At least that’s the way I see it.

craighoffmanMy name is Craig Hoffman, and I’m a 26 year-old free agent after I was laid off in Washington, DC. Before that, I spent nearly two and a half years in Dallas.

Despite my youth, I’ve seen a lot in my career.

I’ve had my station bought out, costing me a boss that believed in me, coached me and made me better, not to mention many qualified co-workers that created a quality operation. I’ve seen superiors stretched just as thin as those of us in the studio, as they too have been given more responsibility while the hours in a day and their wages stay the same. I’ve been told “we’d love to hire you, but we just don’t have the money” more times than I can count.

That’s obviously left me with some worries about where we are and where we’re going as an industry, so when Jason asked for people to write guest columns I jumped at the opportunity to write about those things from my point of view. I’m a millennial. I’ve been in top 10 markets. It’s an odd juxtaposition that gives me a different view than so many in our business, and certainly those running it.

I want to stress that I would have wanted to write this piece whether I had a job or not. I’m looking to make you think, and maybe get some responses that quell my concerns. I certainly know I don’t have all the answers. I probably have barely any of them, but I’m hoping some of you do.

I love sports media. I’ve studied the industry since I was 18 years old and decided to get into it. I want us, as an industry, to succeed. I want us to put out a product we’re proud of. I want that product to make us money.

microwaveHowever chief amongst my fears about both our present and our future is that we’re trying to shortcut too many things. I know that’s ironic coming from a member of the instant gratification, “microwave generation.”

Microwaves are great. They’re efficient. They have a purpose. That purpose is not to create anything worth eating from scratch. Shouldn’t our business be something prepared and served with care, not instant eggs?

If we want the very best quality, we need the best ingredients and to use them properly, to treat them well.

Jason wrote earlier this week about coaching, and I agree with many of the points he made. The de-emphasis of coaching is something that terrifies me as a young talent. I’ve gotten a lot of coaching from some of the best and brightest in our industry, but nearly all of it I’ve had to seek out. As programmers are asked to do more, talent development seems to be the one thing that gets pushed to the side.

qualityIt’s not just the quantity of coaching that’s important though; it’s the quality. How we communicate evolves and changes generationally. Societally, there are certain words that we just don’t say anymore because we’ve realized that they’re harmful and hurtful to people. Some people push back and say that’s PC and represents the wussification of America. If you’re ready to puff out your chest as one of those people, why?

The first step to effective communication doesn’t change by generation. That is to realize that the correspondence is about the receiver, not the sender. It might be the sender’s message, but if the person or people receiving it don’t perceive it in the way the sender intended, the communication has failed. In radio terms, the message has to be tailored to the audience.

crucialThe goal in all communication is mutual understanding. I can’t recommend the book “Crucial Conversations: Talking When the Stakes Are High” enough, which discusses this in great detail.

Mutual understanding doesn’t allow for the messenger to dictate the terms because the goal is mutual. So if you’re a programmer reading this and you’re “old school,” my generation probably thinks you’re an asshole, and you probably don’t care. You should.

I’m inclined work harder for a boss that I respect than a boss that I fear could lash out at me for a mistake. The only time fear effectively enters the equation is fear of letting that person I respect down. Learning how to work for any boss is part of being a professional. In the end, we all have jobs to do. However, if all you care about is me doing the job, then communicating in a beneficial way should interest you too, whether that’s in the form of coaching or day-to-day communication.

Is that the wussification of America? Some might say yes, but if you are let me ask you a question. Do you like being told you’re good at something? Or, if you’re not, being told that you’ve got potential? I’m pretty sure the answers yes. Who doesn’t?!

worthlessBeing told you’re worthless, or, to not be as extreme, merely a pawn in the chess game might harbor resentment that results in a short term positive in the form of motivation. It’s also going to result in an “eff you” attitude that will prove you wrong and then leave you to be successful elsewhere. That isn’t generational. That’s human.

Part of this equation of effectiveness is also financial. When you hold an anchor position in a top 10 market and make the equivalent of what a board op in market 84 does, that can be frustrating. On one hand you’re grateful to hold a position and earn a living doing what you love, but on the other hand, you have bills to pay and a higher cost of living to contend with. When I arrived in DC and told people what my best year of income had been up to that point, they were appalled. Do you realize how hard it is to appall a radio person when it comes to salary? We’re all making less than we should be.

I may have been young, but my company determined I could do the job with the evidence being that they hired me. Should a company get to give the young guy the job and pay him an amount that someone his age “should” be earning?

sdOf course, because that’s how a free market economy works! It’s supply and demand and it’s exactly why, even though I was living paycheck to paycheck I never considered quitting. I decided it was worth it to make that sacrifice. However supply and demand when it comes to human resources completely ignores quality.

There may be an endless supply of people who want to be in this business, but that doesn’t mean they’re all capable of doing the job, especially at the highest levels.

There are so many people who want to talk about sports for a living for the obvious reason that it’s a pretty sweet gig. If I weren’t willing to do that job, someone else would have snatched it up in an instant.

It was my choice to determine that the job was far more important than the wage, just like it was the company’s job to determine that the risk of me going elsewhere was not worth paying me more. That’s part of growing up in any industry.

nomoneyHowever, what makes me nervous is seeing so many talented friends drop out of the industry because at some point reality kicks in and you have to pay your bills. People also would like to have some semblance of a social life in their 20’s and by the back half of them, many are ready to get married and family becomes a consideration.

As the industry continues to shrink, this problem is only going to get worse. As syndication and automation continue to expand, there are fewer and fewer jobs, specifically on the entry level.

Overnights are no longer a training ground because they don’t exist. Now the best places to get reps are in bigger cities because they might actually run an operation that isn’t completely skin and bones, but even those shops are dwindling their numbers.

There’s nothing wrong with sacrifice early in your career. In fact, it should be expected. You give up something (the wage to live the life you want) to get something (the invaluable experience you need to get the job that will provide you that life).

My concern is that we’re asking people to sacrifice to the point of committing industrial suicide. 

pushMy concern is that in ten years we’ll have pushed so many people away and not developed our people enough that our quality will have dipped to a point that no one will want to consume it. Even if we take all the romance of the job and acknowledge the goal is to maximize profit, we’re going the wrong way.

So many companies are bleeding money, yet they all follow the same path. They cut. How many has it worked for?

Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

Maybe I am just a young, dumb millennial. Actually, in this case, that’d be great!

Maybe our industry is in a much, much better place than it seems. I certainly haven’t been privy to the books. However, I have first hand experience with the consequences.

Maybe I’m just a kid with a warped sense of reality because of a somewhat unbelievable string of bad luck, but there seems to be more and more evidence every where I turn.

So why stick with it? Why, if all this stuff is so awful, do I want to go through another job-hunt and dive right back in as soon as I can?

solutionsBecause I believe we can do better. We do this thing in sports where if we don’t have a perfect solution, we’d rather just not deal with the problem.  “Why do we have instant replay if we can’t even get it right?!” That’s not the right question. The right question is “why can’t we get it right?”

There are so many smart people in key places that are capable of getting it right, and there are reinforcements with new ideas and new ways of thinking on the way.

In sports talk, we’re lucky to be in a format that can’t be 100% replaced by syndication and automation. Our product requires humans. We are our most valuable resources. I hope that in the very near future we return to treating them as such.





To connect with Craig Hoffman on Twitter, click here. You can also read his blog by clicking here.

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

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

Jason Barrett




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jason Barrett




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jason Barrett




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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