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Getting Starting Without Experience By Mattie Lou Chandler

Jason Barrett

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Young people often ask me “how do I get started in the media business”? It should be easy to answer, but it’s not. That’s because everyone travels a different path to their first break.

In many cases, internships are an advantage. They help you get your foot in the door. Then it’s up to the individual to work their tail off and prove that they have that extra-something that stands out. During my programming days I’d have my Assistant Program Directors oversee the process, and we’d identify 1 or 2 of the 10-15 people who came through the door that were worth holding onto at the end of the quarter. When interns know that their hard work could result in a future job at the radio station, they’re more inclined to give their best effort.

But what if an internship isn’t an option? Some stations require college credit to get inside the building. In my opinion, that’s one of the silliest rules in our industry. Why would a radio station turn down free help? Especially from people who see the internship as their one big shot? I know insurance salesmen, bartenders, callers, and contest winners who occupy the airwaves in major markets today. If someone has talent, passion, and dedication, that’s what should matter most. If a radio station hadn’t allowed me to intern (without being in college at the time), I’d have never gone on to program in three top 20 markets, produce some of the industry’s top national shows, and host my own program.

socialgrowthIf there’s one advantage today that didn’t exist when I was working my way up, it’s that the internet and social media have created platforms for people to develop their skills and expand their connections. Every aspiring broadcaster has the opportunity to podcast, record videos on YouTube, and establish a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Periscope.

I’ve said this many times, there’s no excuse for young media professionals to not seek out program directors, corporate executives, talent, and producers on social media. The worst someone can do is deny your request. If they accept it, you get a chance to interact, and understand who they are, and what they value. That relationship has potential to one day lead to opportunity IF you have talent and the fit they’re looking for. Most jobs in this business are filled through word of mouth, internal connections, and external relationships. It’s a lot harder to be unknown to a hiring manager, and land a great position based on submitting an email or filling out an application.

Since starting my own company, Barrett Sports Media, I’ve had a chance to spend more time researching people, listening to different markets, and reading websites that I didn’t get a chance to enjoy as much in the past. One site that I’ve spent more time reading lately has been Outkick The Coverage. It’s run by Fox Sports personality Clay Travis, and features a good mix of sports coverage, media topics, and pop culture.

otcIt’s on Outkick The Coverage that I became familiar with Mattie Lou Chandler. When she first reached out expressing interest in writing a column for the website I was unfamiliar with her background. I’m not a viewer of the Bachelor or Bachelorette, so I had to venture into unfamiliar territory and read her recaps of the show to get an idea of her style. What I discovered was that her writing was conversational, inviting, and very entertaining. In one of her recaps she said “If I make a joke that Johnny Manziel is currently going through his 2007 Brittney Spears phase, you better laugh“. It was hard not to chuckle and continue reading.

That left me wondering though if she had an ability to write deeper content. After doing some research, I landed on a story she wrote about Jameis Winston. The headline read, “A Victim’s Perspective on Jameis Winston and FSU“. In the article, she opened up about some of her personal experiences and how they related to the story, in addition to sharing her opinion on how Jameis Winston conducts himself. I was impressed with her willingness to put a personal side of herself on display because not everyone has the courage to do that.

bstAfter sorting through a number of her stories, and getting familiar with her witty, sarcastic, light hearted, and direct personality on Twitter (how can you not appreciate the opening line on her profile – “Attempting to combat the Wussification of America“), I touched base to ask her what she’d like to write about. After brainstorming some ideas Mattie Lou came up with the column you’re about to read. I think you’ll find it really helpful if you’re looking to open the doors and develop a career in the industry. Especially if you’re female.

There are a few areas that I think are especially valuable. From the way she got her break, to her approach to social media, to discovering the importance of finding your own niche and being willing to sacrifice and work multiple jobs at once, if it’s something you want bad enough it can be accomplished.

This story is refreshing because it reminds me that working in sports media still remains attractive to many people. When you get paid to do a job that you love, and invest everything you have in becoming great at it, there’s no telling how far you can go. But don’t take it from me, hear it instead from Mattie Lou Chandler.

Getting Started Without Experience

mlc2A female, in sports, who has zero experience. Two and a half years ago, that’s what I was. Sitting in the cube farm of corporate finance, miserable. My dad had a rule when I was little, you’ll watch an hour of SportsCenter each day during the summer before he watched My Pretty Pony or something of the sort with me. His reasoning was that it would make me well rounded and I could converse with boys and girls. It’s not only paid dividends, but it spurned my love of sports. Okay, I’d be lying if I said growing up spending Saturdays in Athens, Georgia and witnessing three BCS National Championships while in college didn’t help significantly.

While in college at The University of Alabama, I could never decide what I wanted to major in. It’s a common dilemma for many students, but I couldn’t settle on anything. Attending a school that is so immersed in sports, my parents quite frequently asked, “Why don’t you go into broadcasting and be like Erin Andrews?” I usually came back with some response about every division one school popping out fifty or so EA wannabe’s a semester, and not being interested or “do you realize how pretty she is?” What did I decide on? That would be Finance, General Business, and Computer Science.

clay1So, how did I get to where I am now? Well, insert Outkick the Coverage, Clay Travis, and Twitter. Clay created a now extremely popular website that’s hosted by a major network, but it has a unique component. The Bull Pen, where you can submit articles in the hopes of them getting published. Everyone at Alabama follows and knows Clay. I was a huge fan of his so imagine my surprise when an email from him appeared in my gmail account saying I needed to write the Bachelor recaps for OKTC. Long story short, my best friend submitted our pledge class recaps and well, the rest is history. Except, the Bachelor isn’t sports.

This is where the necessity of social media comes in. To say I have a love hate relationship with it would be the understatement of a lifetime. As Chrissy Teigen put it, “females in sports have the worst mentions in Twitter.” How bad? My first hate tweet is framed in my house. It was like a badge of honor, which is ridiculous, almost like I had gained some credibility. I created my OKTC Twitter towards the end of my first season of The Bachelor recaps. I thought it would instantly take off and I would get a lot of followers quickly, but not so much. You have to be interacting constantly, it’s the nature of the beast. This is how I started to weave in sports to prove that I could offer more than just Bachelor recaps. College Football and golf, are my first loves, so that’s what my Twitter content consists of.

mlc5

Social Media is an incredible tool if you utilize it properly. Not only do you have to constantly be active, but you have to differentiate yourself. It won’t be enough to be a not completely unfortunate looking blonde who knows some fun facts about football and golf. The best advice I got before I walked into my first agency meeting was, “don’t walk in there and say you want to be the next Erin Andrews.” What do you want to do? How do you want to be presented? Whoa. I needed to hear that a week before the meeting, not twenty minutes prior.

mlc8Six months after writing for Clay and Outkick, I met him in person. The internet is a weird place and I have entirely too many “internet friends” that are in the industry that I’ve either never met or have only seen a few times, and we all think it’s normal. I digress, Clay wrote a book called “Dixie Land Delight Tour” where he went to every SEC school in one season. Our meeting was in the summer before the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff and he suggested given my deep experience with tailgating in the SEC that I go on a version of his book and write about it from a female’s perspective. “Wait, you’re going to pay me to tailgate and talk about college football? Is this real?”

This is how I was going to differentiate myself. I wasn’t going to try and talk x’s and o’s, because while I know the basics and have learned a lot, I’m far from an expert. So I don’t try to be. I’m a southern belle, but I’m witty and can be a guy’s girl. It’s the wholesome, girl next door vibe that comes with the sassy side you never saw coming. I realized this would benefit me greatly for the audience I was writing for, but I had to play to my strengths. You have to know your demographic and target audience.

mlcAs I stated before, being a female in this business can be brutal. There are good days and bad days. You’re going to have to work harder than the men sometimes, and that’s okay. I’m sure you’re all thinking, “wait, you just walked into this job with no journalism experience?” Yes, Clay gave me an opportunity to get my foot in the door, BUT while I quit the corporate world, I’ve worked as a nanny for at least forty hours a week. I then go on the road for three days during the season, and am back at the nanny house at 5:30am on Monday’s.

If you want to be in this industry, you have to go all in. You have to send the DMs to the random radio station that followed you to beg for a segment. You have to check Twitter and get your opinion out when your friends are begging you to get off your phone. You have to write a bunch of articles that will never get published, and you have to take the ones that offer to help you and provide you with advice. Poor Todd Fuhrman, I’m sure he regrets ever offering to help me as we now talk daily about different stories and the best way to approach things. Most importantly, you have to want it, or this business will eat you alive.

mlc7I still have much to learn, and I’m just getting started. In two and a half years I’ve gone from writing Bachelor recaps to heading into my third season covering college football for a major network’s website. I appear frequently on radio show’s across the country, have developed a decent social media following, and I’ve had the opportunity to interview for additional opportunities….all while still nannying.

Don’t go into sports journalism for the money. You’ll more than likely be disappointed. To say it’s been an interesting ride would be an incredible understatement, but it’s only the beginning. Don’t worry if you don’t have a journalism degree or don’t think you know enough. Reach out to people in the industry whose work you respect, and the good one’s will be more than happy to help. In most cases, someone did the same for them. All that matters is getting that one opportunity to get your foot in the door, but you have to continuously build off of it.

Mattie-Lou Chandler is a writer and media personality for Outkick The Coverage and Fox Sports. To connect with her or book a future media appearance, follow her on Twitter @MattieLouOKTC or on Instagram @MattieLouC.

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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