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Twitter’s Changes Offer a Sports Radio Education

Jason Barrett



We’ve all heard the saying “less is more”. Apparently though, Twitter doesn’t agree with that phrase. The company has decided to adjust its position on the length of tweets, giving users the chance to extend their comments from 140 to 280 characters.

On one hand, you can understand and appreciate the company’s flexibility. If users want the freedom to write longer and avoid being placed inside of a box on the platform, they should be able to do that right? After all, if the user isn’t satisfied, they don’t use the platform, and without customer activity and engagement, the social media giant is in an unenviable position.

But what about the rest of users who enjoy writing short and prefer reading bite-sized comments? They’re now forced to sift thru longer messages, which means that unless they extend the amount of time they spend on the platform, they’re going to see less tweets.

In situations like these, there are always pros and cons. It’s no different than starting a sports radio show and deciding which of two topics to lead a show with. But the challenge is trying to decipher if a strategic adjustment is critically necessary.


When Twitter first burst onto the scene, it was instantly noticeable how the company positioned itself opposite Facebook. Twitter wanted people to use their platform and present short and precise comments in order to continue conversation. Essentially the goal was to become social media’s sports bar, where patrons came together to watch and discuss games, movies, TV shows, etc. Then as the brand grew, the noise began to increase about having flexibility to write longer.

With any decision, there’s going to be vocal displeasure. But a brand has to decide who they are, what their unique point of entry is, and then reinforce that position again and again. The public loves to be heard, and feedback should be evaluated, but sometimes companies introduce change to satisfy a vocal minority rather than taking into account the feelings of the majority. As we’ve seen many times, the public can also push for change but when their convictions are tested, you find that they’re easily influenced to reverse their current position.

Was Twitter’s 140 character length the reason why people were or weren’t using the platform? I don’t think so. But from a competitive standpoint, the social media company is going to highlight the massive amount of users on other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and in order to reach a larger amount of people they felt a need to try something different to increase activity.


As I considered the benefits (the user has more control) and risks (does anyone like the idea of President Trump doubling the size of his tweets?) of Twitter modifying its strategy, I began to realize how it connected to the world of sports radio. Having listened to more shows and stations around the country than most, I hear certain things that remain problematic. Many hosts examine their content plan and execution through their own lens, not necessarily thru the audience’s. They live in their rundown and approach their content with the mindset of “we have 3-4 hours to get this all in” rather than taking into account that the average commute in most cities is 25 minutes and what’s happening in the moment is the only thing a listener truly cares about. What you do in an hour or two has little importance to them, only the present.

How many times do you listen to a host hit the airwaves and at 3pm they start telling you everything they have planned later on? “We have special guest A at 4:30, a caller segment at 5:00 and our favorite feature at 5:30”. Ask yourself this, when was the last time you changed what you were going to do in 90-120-150 minutes based on what a radio host told you they had planned? I stand a better chance of regrowing a full head of hair than you do of convincing an audience to change their lives for the satisfaction and benefit of your show.

But do you know when you do have a chance of stealing their time? Right now! If someone has the equivalent of two quarter hours of time to spend with you, your best shot at stealing a third quarter hour is by getting into their head immediately. You do that by not wasting your words and time and providing a strong content experience.

Let’s look at how that applies to Twitter’s switch from 140 to 280 characters.


First, let’s look at the start of a segment. This is the difference between spending your first 60-90 seconds sleepwalking thru your opening comments as opposed to attacking the air with a defined purpose – 140 vs. 280. Once the liner is done and the music is playing, you should be right into your topic and opinion. That’s how you maximize the audience’s time and earn their trust. The excuses of “we like to build up to things and ease into the conversation” sound good to the host because you’re looking at your road map and challenge of performing for 3-4 hours. What you’re not doing is respecting the person’s time who is listening to you right now.

So much of earning ratings credit is about grabbing five minutes of listening in a quarter hour. You help yourself by drawing people in quickly rather than wasting time and assuming they’ll stick around for your good stuff later on. Another part of this is understanding the importance of executing the most topical and relevant content every single hour. What you did at 3pm has no value to the listener who gets in their car at 5pm. If a big trade has happened, a high profile sports figure has sounded off, or an important game is taking place that night, the listener expects to hear about it, not your fourth story of the day because you’re mentally talked out of the big story.

Secondly, think of how these Twitter changes apply to a tease. 140 characters requires a short focused message. Grab my attention immediately, and make me interested enough to click on the attached link in your tweet or engage with you in dialogue. That’s what a radio tease is meant to do. Can you climb into my mind and make me curious enough to sit thru a few minutes of commercials or return after your break, so I can hear the answer?

A tweet that is 280 characters in length is the equivalent of a host who wanders into their breaks. For example, “We’ve still got plenty to do, Jim, Fred and Jose hang on the line we’ll get to you shortly, we’ve got tickets to giveaway to this Sunday’s game, there’s news about Colin Kaepernick possibly being brought in for an audition, Peter King of Sports Illustrated in about 15 minutes, plus I want to weigh in on this Ric Flair 30 for 30 documentary, so stick around we’re back in just a few.”

As you read that last example, I’m sure you thought of a few hosts who execute that way. To be honest, there are some hosts who are excellent on the air or have built up longevity in their markets that they can get away with it. But guess what, not everyone has those skills or advantages and good habits are good habits, and bad ones are bad ones. To me it’s simple, whether you’re on the air for a year or have hosted a show for twenty, what gives you a better chance to keep a listener around to the next segment, promoting what’s next in a way that makes people think or not mentioning anything specific?

If your audience has minimal time available to listen, and they’re being separated from your content by a five minute commercial break, 60-90 second sports update, :15-:30 seconds of liners/music and possibly an audio clip leading back into the segment, not to mention if your station runs anything else such as traffic, weather, stock reports, etc., that means they have to wait nearly seven minutes to hear your next piece of content. You assume they’ll be back because they love sports talk and have limited local options, but you don’t know if they just pulled into their driveway, approached a tunnel and lost reception, scanned the dial and found something else, took a phone call or simply got bored and turned off the radio.

In each of those situations, there are two options. You’ve either invaded their head space enough to want to hear what’s next or you’re just noise in the background. Maybe they’re exiting the car but because you intrigued them they’ll head into their home and use Alexa or the app on their phone to hear more. Maybe they’ll download your podcast later because although they’re busy now, they still want to hear the payoff. But if it isn’t short, sweet and intriguing, good luck earning additional tune ins.


There is another side of this debate too. 280 characters is definitely more valuable than 140 on a sports talk show when it involves extending a topic. Diving into a segment with a plan and teasing what’s next are what I often refer to as “ins and outs”. When you skip past those formatics (the last :15 seconds before your break and the first :60 seconds starting off a segment), the way you keep people engaged is by being compelling, opinionated and entertaining in your presentation with a topical story. Storytellers with strong positions, timely humor and solid evidence to support their convictions make people laugh, learn and think. When you get the audience into that frame of mind, you’ve hit the right notes.

Essentially a host is a lawyer making a case, and trying to convince the jury to see it their way. The guests, calls, sound and bits are props that add to the discussion. If you’re masterful in the way you frame your content, the listener turns up the volume, listens closer, and begins to argue or agree with what they hear thru their speakers. If it’s informational, offbeat and lacking creativity, direction and suspense, they’ll disconnect quickly.

The other angle worth highlighting in support of 280 characters over 140 involves adjusting a brand strategy. Hardcore fans will clamor for what they know (Ex: Bring back Mike and the Mad Dog, SportsCenter hasn’t been the same since Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, etc.) but to stay ahead in business, you have to evolve, take risks and be unafraid.

In Twitter’s case, the proof is in the pudding. They’re trailing their social media competitors in revenue, relevance, reputation and routine. By switching to 280, they’ve created immediate buzz, which should lead to a short-term increase in activity. If people have a good experience, then it could lead to an uptick in users and/or activity. Twitter owns a niche but wants more, and to get it, sometimes you have the analyze the competition, the behaviors of the audience, your brand’s strengths and weaknesses, and modify your approach.

Which brings us back to the debate of 140 or 280 characters. In my opinion short tweets and long tweets can both be effective, but you’ve got to understand their purpose. If you’re trying to lead people to other platforms or develop dialogue, less is more. If you’re breaking news or providing opinions on important issues or personal matters, additional perspectives can be helpful. But if every thought that pops into your head becomes social chatter, you’ll not only waste the audience’s time, but you’ll make them question how important it is to follow you. And whether it’s on Twitter or sports radio, if you don’t have loyal fans spending time with you, you’ll soon be broadcasting to an empty room.

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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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