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Simple Ways To Measure Self-Improvement

Jason Barrett

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Now that 2016 has passed us by, and you’ve returned from a winter break and began to settle back into your normal routine, I have one simple question for you – how do you plan to get better in 2017?

Each year we make resolutions and set goals for ourselves, but the truth is that we don’t always hold ourselves accountable to them.

Speaking for myself, it’s a question I don’t have all the answers to. I’m proud of what I accomplished in my first year in business in 2016, and was fortunate to meet some great people and enjoy some amazing experiences. Would I like to do the same in 2017? Absolutely, but I also hope to grow.

To do that, it will require helping my current clients improve their brands, plus more traveling, networking, and expanding relationships. I feel confident that I’ve developed a solid brand, good reputation, and resourceful website that produces timely and interesting content, and the only thing to do is be more consistent and further promote the product.

This is now where I insert my obligatory cheap plug. If you’re running a station and feel it needs an objective outside the building evaluation, or if you’re experiencing difficulties and need guidance to get your brand on track, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and dive in. Interested parties can reach me here to discuss.

Aside from that, I plan to continue speaking at conferences, hosting a podcast, publishing the annual Top 20, and sharing news and success stories on the format. If I’m able to grace the airwaves of a few more sports radio stations for discussions on the sports media business or contribute additional pieces about the industry with select trades and media sites, then that’s an added bonus.

But enough about my aspirations, this is about you. How will you be able to tell in twelve months that you grew as a professional?

Rather than trying to fix every small issue that keeps you awake at night, or ignoring the noise when a co-worker tells you you’re not executing the way you’re supposed to, let me suggest something simple – pick one thing per month to work on.

For example, if you’re a host and your crutch is getting to break on time, sit down with your PD and your supporting cast to evaluate where you are currently, and commit yourself to making it better. I’ve told this to numerous talents along the way, you can’t control what the meters do but you can control your own self-growth. A boss is more likely to continue supporting you if they see you dedicating yourself to improve at your craft.

In order to do that, you need to examine your performance over the next 30 days. Trust your producer and board operator when they tell you it’s time to wrap up, but allow yourself some wiggle room for those times where you miss the mark due to a special radio moment. It’s ok to have the occasional setback but make sure it’s truly worth it. Not every moment you create is special, and not every late break is worth it.

Ask your producer or PD to track the show and monitor when you went to break during your 12-16 breaks and compare it to how they line up with your clock. Do that every day for 30 days and see where you are. If you understand your clock, and are working on shortening your commentaries to fit inside the window of what you’ve been given to operate, then progress should happen. All it takes is self-discipline, focus and a desire to want to be better.

It’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to go thru your next twenty shows and never be late to break. If you can trim your losses though by 25-50% or even greater, it’ll make you feel better about your own performance, and it’ll hopefully benefit you with the meters. Then the next challenge becomes doing it again the following month and throughout the remainder of the year.

But this isn’t a column about the importance of navigating a clock so let’s use another example. Except this time I want to focus on the person behind the glass – the producer.

If you’re in charge of booking guests and you’re struggling to land good people for your show, how is that going to change tomorrow? You know the audience enjoys hearing from popular coaches, players, analysts and personalities, and your host either perks up or becomes frustrated depending on who you’ve booked for each day’s show. There’s also an internal pressure you place upon yourself to perform, and it can be intense and make you doubt whether you’re capable of handling the responsibility.

My suggestion is to start by analyzing the time you’re investing in the process and the strategy you’re using to deliver results.

Do you have a large enough rolodex? Are you networking regularly with people, teams, agents, and PR groups to grow your contacts and learn about upcoming opportunities? Are you booking guests in advance or flying by the seat of your pants on a daily basis? How many layers do you sort through to try and land a guest before you give up?

Even the decision of whether to send emails or make calls comes into play. Are you hiding behind the computer because you fear being rejected on the phone? What days/times are you reaching out to arrange guest appearances and is it producing results? Are you spending thirty minutes of your day on the task at hand or three hours? How many calls or emails are you delivering per guest booked?

Most on-air talent are going to show up each day with an idea of the key topics and what they want to say about them. If you’re spending two hours writing a one-sheet worth of talking points on the day’s top stories, that might be information that provides little value to your host. If it’s not important to them, think of how you could better use those two hours to create a stronger show.

Instead, maybe you’re better off using that time to send out more guest requests to help the next day’s show. Maybe it gives you a chance to locate better audio to help your host with their discussion on the day’s top stories. Maybe it becomes the time you need to create a kick ass rejoin or production piece that leaves the on-air talent and audience laughing or emotionally moved. Or maybe it’s just free time that you use to think of creative new ideas to enhance the show.

The goal is to maximize your time, identify the areas of your game that require improvement, and develop a system to be more efficient.

But before you can improve at something, you need to first acknowledge the problem, examine your process, understand what a win and loss looks like, and create a gameplan to assure future improvement. Then it’s up to you to stick to the plan, and track your development. If you’re laying out a good strategy, and holding yourself accountable to it, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get better.

How many times do you engage in conversation with a colleague, and when they cite a specific example about a weakness in the show, you agree with their assessment? But then two days later, you’re back on the air making the same mistake. Anyone can point out a problem, but unless you prioritize the importance of making adjustments it becomes a useless conversation.

When these types of subjects are explored, it’s easier to focus on the on-air staff. But this can also apply to a Program Director.

I understand better than most that there are never enough hours in the day for a programmer to get everything done. They’re going to be asked to wear twenty different hats and solve every department’s problems, but remember this, and never forget it – the area which you will always be judged hardest on is what comes through the speakers and how it registers with your audience.

There is nothing more important than your product, the people you’ve hired to present it, and the connection the brand makes with its local audience.

Are you allowing yourself enough time to create new ideas? Are you meeting and talking with your talent regularly and creating ways to help them get better? Which methods are you pursuing to improve your own personal relationship with your listeners and keep them invested in your brand?

Each year when I operated stations, I challenged myself to do one thing the next year that I didn’t previously. One year it might have been to send shows on the road to an event we hadn’t covered and develop a big promotion around it. The next year it might have involved creating a lengthy promo campaign to introduce new branding or reducing the stations benchmarks. The year after I might have focused on connecting better with the audience on social media and in person or expanding the brand’s reach through additional local media partnerships.

The bottom line, you must always continue exploring new territory.

If you’re asked by your bosses at the end of 2017 to name one innovation you brought to the radio station’s airwaves over the past twelve months could you do it? If not, why not?

The reason why programmers are tasked with running brands is because they’re supposed to have vision, passion, work ethic, and a constant desire to win. They’re supposed to be great motivators, teachers, strategists, cheerleaders, and they’re expected to lead by example. The only thing that can get in the way of your creativity and leadership are distractions, and they only come into play when you allow them to do so.

Rather than making excuses and complaining about the laundry list of problems you have before you, take a deeper look at your daily plan, prioritize what’s important, create reachable short-term and long-term goals, and make sure you’re allowing time to develop new ideas and work with your staff. It’s ok to say no every once in awhile or ask for a raincheck.

You may not be able to schedule time to be creative, but when the ideas start flowing and you’re on the verge of developing the next big one hundred thousand dollar idea, you’ve got to have the ability to clear your head and the room. Paperwork can wait, and so can people. Your bosses will have your back, especially if you can give them one hundred thousand reasons to do so.

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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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