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BSM Celebrates Its Two Year Anniversary

Jason Barrett

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The past month has been chaotic, with two and a half weeks of travel causing me to feel out of sync. I’ve attended the Podcast Movement Conference and NAB Radio Show, visited FOX Sports Radio, FS1 and Jim Rome’s studios, enjoyed a few drinks and conversations with top notch program directors, and have earned the eyes and ears of more than 10 CEO’s and/or corporate executives, strengthening my relationships and expanding my knowledge of various companies and situations. That doesn’t include engaging with numerous folks by phone, email and social media.

If you told me I’d be in these situations two years ago when I launched BSM, I would have questioned why I didn’t make the move sooner. The pace has been fast, the challenges different, and it’s kept me so focused and bullish on our business that I had to be reminded by my fiancé of my company’s two year anniversary this past Friday.

As crazy as that sounds, it’s a great problem to have. I entered this space determined to build something special, and to see it gain traction and generate respect and interest throughout the industry is something I take great pride in and am very grateful for.

Having spent more than two decades in the radio business, I’ve seen a lot of folks over the years brand themselves as consultants whenever they were in between jobs. It was a way for people to stay relevant and tell decision makers “I’m not unemployed, but if you have a job for me I’ll gladly consider giving this up.” They offered feedback to people who wanted to improve on the air but discovered that relying on industry members for business was extremely difficult.

Given my background as a programmer, I understood why many assumed this would be a stop-gap move for me. It was expected that I’d show up in a building in New York or relocate as I had done multiple times during my career, but truth be told, I went into this space fully committed. I had no desire to reclaim my PD stripes. I saw how the radio industry was changing and felt the need for outside consultation would increase if I was able to whether the storm of starting and growing a business. If operators needed to take a wait and see approach before working with me to make sure it was an area I was committed to, I had no problem being patient and letting my work and persistence do the talking.

When I started working in radio 22 years ago, I was cautioned by my father that it was competitive and paid very little. I knew that I’d have to scratch, claw and work my tail off to make noise and create opportunities. My first full time opportunity paid $16,000 dollars per year, and with a family of four to support at the time, I questioned if I was doing the right thing. But radio was in my blood and fueled my desire to wake up each morning and perform, and I couldn’t turn it off.

I actually took a 6-month departure early in my career to enter the ‘real world’ and work for AT&T Wireless. When I landed the job I instantly doubled my income which felt great, but I soon discovered that I couldn’t work a job that I wasn’t emotionally and passionately invested in. I’d go to the office, writing down phone numbers of athletes, celebrities and media personalities, hoping to book them for future shows, only to be reminded by one of my cubicle compadres “Jason, you don’t have a radio show and you aren’t in that business anymore.”

And that’s when I realized, I am not going to be confined to a cubicle, answering phones and questioning why I didn’t chase my dream. Money makes life easier to live but what you do professionally occupies so much of your time in life and I wasn’t going to waste mine.

You can imagine how well it went over when three weeks before Christmas when I walked in the door and told my family I quit AT&T, was going to return to radio, and would not rest until I made it. There were short-term financial challenges to overcome but I was and remain a firm believer that you don’t make decisions solely on money. In anything you do, there has to be a bigger purpose and a sense of excitement attached to your involvement, otherwise you become a slave to the paycheck.

Not to take anything away from anyone who makes a living answering phones or working a M-F 9a-5p job. I’ve wished at times I was wired differently and could accept a simpler lifestyle. But for me, the radio light bulb was always on, and no matter how hard I tried to turn it off, I just couldn’t. As the famous line in The Godfather Part 3 goes, “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

In writing this column, I wanted to share how I think and operate because the way I manage BSM is no different than how I’ve managed my career. This company isn’t a placeholder. It’s my new way of life. I’ve invested in knowledge and fought to build a career, earn respect, and deliver results for my employers, and I use that same approach today to guide BSM.

One of the real perks of making this move has been that it’s helped me learn so much more during the past 24 months. Being active with multiple companies in different cities keeps me on my toes, and every week and challenge is unique. One week I might be sitting in front of three ultra-successful big market personalities discussing the progress of their show, the next week I might be doing a social media evaluation for another client. The following week I could be working with a smaller station to help a young man develop as a host, play by play voice and brand leader, and the next I’m analyzing ratings trends, developing seasonal strategies, evaluating imaging and helping recruit talent.

I’m extremely fortunate to have great support from my fiancé, son and parents, and valuable relationships with exceptional companies/clients and thousands of industry professionals. Without each of them placing their faith in me this business would be nothing more than a pipe dream.

During the past two years I’ve grown my clients from two to eight, I’ve gone from having no budget to attend conferences to being able to attend three to four per year, and I’ve increased my in-market training projects from two to six. I’m extremely proud of that progress and it lets me know that I’m on the right path.

I’ve also built up the website as a source of information and original content. BSM has amassed more than two million pageviews and become a destination for other industry professionals to write and earn a few dollars for contributing. That doesn’t include creating 22 episodes of the BSM Podcast, and generating an additional 56,000 listening sessions.

And I’m not even close to where I want to be. This is only the beginning.

One thing I hear often from industry leaders is how important it is to be bold, take risks, invest in people who can help improve products, and not be afraid to seek others outside of the organization to keep a brand honest. In fact, these messages were repeated often during the past three weeks at the NAB Radio Show and Podcast Movement Conference. Executives stressed how rapidly the world is changing, how cluttered and competitive the content and revenue spaces are, and why operating in status quo mode is a failed strategy. I agree with every single one of those assessments, and as an independent resource who knows the sports space as well as anyone in it, I’m looking forward to holding our industry’s leaders accountable to their words.

2018 is going to be a big year for radio with a ton of change happening. I’m sure we’ll say the same thing when 2019 and 2020 roll around. Although we can’t predict what the future entails, we can prepare for it by having the right people in our corner (hint, hint).

I take great pride in being an advocate for the sports radio format. I don’t believe there’s any individual or platform championing this format’s cause and impact more than I, and I do it to help our companies and sports radio brands gain the recognition, respect and revenue they deserve, and to showcase the people who make it possible. There are so many great stories to tell about our format but sometimes we have tunnel vision and forget to share our ideas and information. The world isn’t going to know what you’re doing if you don’t let others know about it, so for all of my programming friends, hosts, producers, sellers and corporate leaders, continue sharing the information, no matter how big or small you may think it is, and I’ll keep fighting to help elevate the conversation about our format.

The second thing I’m working to evolve is the perception of consultants. Maybe in the past it was enough to tell market managers and programmers, “do this, do that, lose this person, add this one” but in 2017 that isn’t enough. Today, I evaluate content, ratings, branding, imaging, develop relationships with people for potential short-term and long-term opportunities, research audience interests, study social media trends and make strategic recommendations, develop seasonal strategies, share big picture ideas and revenue generating events, supply information to operators for weekly appointments, write columns and news, host a podcast, help create new digital ideas, vote on awards, and appear on sports radio shows as a guest sports media analyst. Plus in 2018 I’ll be hosting the very first BSM Sports Radio Programming Summit.

Having been a PD before, I made decisions and stood by them, win or lose, but I never made them without doing research, gathering opinions and opening my mind to other possibilities. Every great leader should want to surround themselves with smart experienced people. Especially those who can provide them with additional ideas and information, and an honest perspective that they might need to hear during critical times.

I think we’d all agree that the audio space is booming, and the appetite for sports content is growing by the day. I’m a huge believer that we are well positioned for greater success, and although our industry faces challenges, there’s never been a better time to be involved in it.

As I reflect on the first two years of BSM I’m extremely thankful and excited about where we are. I can’t thank those I’ve been lucky enough to work with for their trust and business, and I look forward to expanding my relationships with other great broadcasters in the near future. Being active is great, but changing the game and making a lasting impression is what fuels me each morning. It’s time now to get back to work and begin making year three our best one yet. Thanks for your consistent support of BSM!

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Sports Media’s Top 20 National Sports Radio Shows of 2022

“A total of 101 shows were eligible for voting consideration in the National Sports Radio Shows category.”

Jason Barrett

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The 8th annual BSM Top 20 series kicks off with a look at the Top 20 National Sports Radio Shows of 2022. These shows have the largest reach in America, and are distributed by the largest networks in the industry, airing across hundreds of radio stations, as well as on various digital and television outlets.

As you review this year’s selections, please remember that the results represent the collective opinions of forty six (46) industry executives. I’d like to thank Alex Reynolds, Stephanie Eads, and Dylan Barrett for helping with the Top 20 process, and Steve Kamer Voiceovers for being our exclusive sponsor for this year’s Top 20 series. Steve’s voice is heard across the nation on many top shows, stations, and networks, and if you’re not familiar with his work, take a second to learn what makes him stellar at his craft by clicking here.

As it pertains to the voting, here are a few key things to be aware of.

– These results are based on 2022’s performance. 2023 changes have no effect on the voting.

– Our executive panel consists of forty six (46) program directors and corporate executives from a number of top broadcasting companies including Audacy, iHeart, Cumulus, Beasley, Hubbard, Good Karma Brands, ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio, SiriusXM, Spotify, and independently owned and operated radio stations. We involve a large number of people in this process in order to include feedback from all parts of the country, as well as to prevent the results from heavily favoring one company.

 A total of 101 shows were eligible for voting consideration in the National Sports Radio Shows category.

– Voters choose their Top 20 based on a myriad of factors including the ear test, originality, ability to entertain, multi-platform impact, on-air chemistry, and ratings success. Keep in mind that voters live in different cities, have different tastes, and value certain factors higher than others. This isn’t a perfect science, but it’s the best system we’ve been able to come up with to showcase how sports radio’s brain trust view the best in the format.

And that brings us to the rankings for this year’s National Sports Radio Shows. For only the 2nd time in 8 years, we have someone at the top other than Colin Cowherd. The winner this year for best National Sports Talk Show of 2022 is The Pat McAfee Show. It was a close race, which saw Cowherd earn more first place votes, eighteen (18) to McAfee’s twelve (12), but Pat scored more total votes including seven more votes in the 2-5 range, allowing him to prevail by seventeen points. McAfee’s show is now consumed through podcasts, YouTube, and social media but 2022 did include eight months of distribution on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio. We congratulate Pat, AJ, and the entire crew on earning this year’s top honor, as well as every other show which appeared on this year’s list.

Now, here are the full results of “BSM’s Top 20 National Sports Radio Shows of 2022!”

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Additional Notes:

  • The Herd w/ Colin Cowherd earned a category best eighteen (18) first place votes. The Pat McAfee Show was second with twelve (12).
  • 21-25 was occupied by Outkick 3602 Pros & a Cup of Joe, The Zach Gelb Show, Spain & Fitz, and Bart & Hahn.
  • The closest contest saw You Better You Bet edge Ben Maller by 4 points.
  • Of the 101 shows eligible for consideration this year, 9 received at least one 1st place vote.

Here is the remaining schedule for the BSM Top 20 of 2022.

  • Tuesday February 7 = The Top 20 Major/Mid Market Sports Radio Morning Shows of 2022
  • Wednesday February 8 = The Top 20 Major/Mid Market Sports Radio Midday Shows of 2022
  • Thursday February 9 = The Top 20 Major/Mid Market Sports Radio Afternoon Shows of 2022
  • Friday February 10 = The Top 20 Major/Mid Market Sports Radio Program Directors of 2022
  • Monday February 13 = The Top 20 Major/Mid Market Sports Radio Stations of 2022

To view prior years of BSM’s Top 20 results, click here.

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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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