There are certain media stories you never want to be included in. One of them, which has become a national discussion and left numerous companies with stained reputations, and high profile personalities facing public humiliation and without employment, is sexual harassment.
During the past eighteen months, allegations have spread like wildfire, rocking sports and news media groups, the movie industry, the comedy world, and even the oval office. The subject itself may not be new, but the attention this time feels very different.
Let me be clear about a few key things before I dive deeper into this story. If anyone inside a workplace is using their power, wealth or influence to harm another person, either physically, mentally or emotionally, they deserve to be dealt with immediately and face severe consequences, including potentially losing their careers. I don’t care who you are, how much you make, or how important you are to the bottom line, if you’re incapable of being a professional and degrading, devaluing or physically taking advantage of another human being, those acts make you a scumbag and the type of person who a brand will be harmed by more than helped over the long haul.
But as someone who has managed five different radio brands, and worked at the largest sports media company in the world, I understand how certain pranks, comments and actions can be received differently by various members of an organization. I’ll try my best to explore a few angles and give you a couple of things to think about.
When I read the allegations made by Jami Cantor involving NFL Analysts Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp, Ike Taylor, Donovan McNabb, Heath Evans and Eric Davis, I was sick to my stomach. If you haven’t read the Deadspin piece, take a few minutes to do so. It’ll allow you to get a better understanding of what Cantor says she was subjected to.
As I read each accusation I wondered how on earth those type of situations could be permitted inside of a professional media operation like the NFL Network. This wasn’t a case of one person accusing another of acting inappropriate, seven people were named in the story. Some may question why Cantor put up with the abuse for a lengthy period of time or if word about her tolerance for bullshit began to spread among the analysts but whether she was willing to turn the other cheek or tune out offensive remarks and actions, doesn’t mean she should’ve been subjected to them in the first place.
The second reaction I felt was disappointment. Being fully transparent, Eric Davis worked for me in San Francisco from 2011-2012. He conducted himself properly, cared about his show, developed a good professional relationship with me, and valued his family. His wife attended a few of our station events and was awesome. As I read the lawsuit and the parts which involved his name, I thought of my prior experiences with him and hoped the allegations weren’t true.
As I continued processing the details, I kept asking myself, why do television companies have so many problems creating a decent workplace environment? The medium itself hires people they consider ‘visual eye candy’, but that doesn’t mean individuals who choose careers in television have to accept an invitation to being personally violated or verbally degraded.
No matter what area of the entertainment industry you’re involved in, these types of problems gain steam when individuals and management blur the lines between personal and professional. Many forget that you’re inside of a workplace for one reason, to do a job. The second you begin to explore conversations with people that may or may not be comfortable to them, you’re rolling the dice on your future. You may find an audience internally that’s open to your dialogue, but if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time, you’re automatically in the wrong, whether you see it that way or not.
One area of Cantor’s story that especially pissed me off was what she allegedly told Marc Watts, the NFL’s talent coordinator. After complaining about being subjected to inappropriate behavior, Watts reportedly told Cantor “it’s part of the job when you look the way you do.” If it turns out that Cantor’s claims are true, and that response from Watts is accurate, he should be terminated on the spot. That’s not managing people. That’s enabling misconduct.
If you look around the sports media industry, most television networks feature a mix of men and women working together. Sports radio stations on the other hand have less people involved, hence less females and males crossing paths and being in situations where issues like this develop. That doesn’t mean these things can’t rock the sports radio format too, it just means there are less chances due to smaller staffs and most positions being occupied by men.
The more I examine this issue, the more questions I have. Why is it that former players seem to be in the middle of many of these stories? The NFL Network lawsuit names six former players and one executive. We’ve also seen other recent stories mention ex-athletes such as Gregg Zaun, Warren Moon, and Pete Rose, and prior issues at major sports networks have involved former players and executives as well.
We’ve all heard stories of how teams placate star players because of their importance on the field or court. As long as a player can produce, the world is their oyster. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is the first example that comes to my mind.
The average fan on a couch watching a game and rooting for his/her team to win may not care if a star athlete receives preferential treatment and is allowed to operate in a fashion that’s professionally reprehensible, but that doesn’t mean it should be tolerated by team officials. Furthermore, when that type of behavior is enabled, it’s foolish to think a player will just turn it off once their career is over, especially when they move on to another high profile industry.
I’m not suggesting that every player turned analyst has a problem conducting themselves properly. That’s not the case at all. However, it’d be fair to say that many executives place a higher value on the guy who’s walked off the field and into their studio because they recognize how it can help increase ratings, revenue and a brand’s reputation with the audience. Many ex-athletes use that power wisely. Some unfortunately do not.
Next, when a person is elevated to an executive role, especially for the first time in their careers, they don’t come with built in instructions on how to manage. They often learn on the fly. Some are natural leaders who conduct themselves in a classy manner and exercise great style and judgement in hiring people, developing systems, and addressing problems. Others, take advantage of their power, think they’re untouchable, ignore red flags and lead with an iron fist.
Until you’re in charge of a brand and its staff, trusted with power, and standing in the crossfire of a chaotic situation involving someone you care about or have professional history with, it’s not something you can prepare for. A company can put you in a conference room and force you to watch a 30-60 minute video on sexual harassment, which has zero personal connection to you or your brand, and check off a box that says ‘the employee has received sexual harassment training’ but that just satisfies corporate expectations. It doesn’t solve the problem when it lands at your door.
I’ll share a brief personal story which I haven’t publicly discussed before. Earlier in my career I landed an opportunity at a radio station and was brought to an office to read some documents and watch a video on sexual harassment. I processed the information and then signed a document confirming that I received the materials.
Following that two hour training session, I was led to another building where I’d be working. I walked into it and on the walls were a number of posters of scantily clad and nude women. Considering I had just gone thru sexual harassment training, I thought to myself, ‘is this one of those moments where they’re trying to see how I’ll react and then tell me afterwards, Jason Barrett you’ve been Punk’d?”
As it turned out, it wasn’t a test. I didn’t pay much attention to it because radio back then ventured much more into dangerous content areas and produced its fair share of crazy characters. In fact, one individual at the station told me, “I have a tendency to break late, so if I get behind, take this purple rubber sex toy (which was located on the left side of the studio board inside a stack of equipment) and hit me in the head with it and I’ll take a break.” I responded by telling him “I won’t have to do that to get my point across and get us out on time.”
You’re probably reading that and thinking “WTF” but 15-20 years ago, things that would never be acceptable by today’s standards went largely ignored. I chalked it up to ‘boys being boys’ and focused on the work in front of me, and less on my visual surroundings or the odd behavior of one person. If that same situation occurred now and someone else was in my position, they’d probably file a lawsuit and that individual would either be suspended or terminated.
Another issue I want to address involves the reporting of an incident. First of all, it’s not my place or any executive’s place to put a deadline on when a victim must report an incident. Some come forward quickly. Some do not. If you’re the one living with a permanent scar, it should be up to you to decide if and when you’re comfortable discussing what happened to you. Just think of the boys who were sexually abused by Jerry Sandusky at Penn State. Some wanted no part of reliving that nightmare, others wanted Sandusky to pay for his actions. Each situation impacts people differently.
That said, a few industry people I spoke to had mixed feelings about the Pete Rose situation. Each person I talked to agreed that what Rose did was inappropriate, but he also completed a professional baseball career, a public battle with MLB over gambling issues, and was hired and worked for FOX Sports on television, after dating an underage girl in the 1970’s. Had Rose conducted himself properly this never would’ve been a story. However, he didn’t. When news circulates four decades after the fact though, it does lead some to question, why now?
Ironically, that was the subject which Geraldo Rivera of FOX News came under fire for after tweeting about Matt Lauer losing his job at NBC. Rivera said sexual harassment allegations should be made in a timely fashion (within 5 years) and include proof such as witnesses or electronic/written communications. He added that due to large sums of money being offered in settlements, some victims were more motivated by financial gain than receiving justice.
Upon learning of Rivera’s comments, FOX News rejected them, adding, “Geraldo’s tweets don’t mirror the perspectives of FOX News or its administration. We were pained by his remarks and are tending to them with him.”
I couldn’t disagree more with Rivera over his policies for how sexual harassment should be handled, but his last point is valid. We can pretend that each person’s motivation is to right a wrong, but in this day and age where information spreads like a virus and quickly cripples those involved, not every accusation is delivered with honest intentions. Just think back to how your emotions changed as you learned more about the Duke lacrosse case.
For the victims who have been legitimately harmed and built up the confidence to come forward and attempt to hold others accountable for prior transgressions that sucks. But when you take into account how many popular personalities have lost jobs and how many millions of dollars have been spent by corporations to make stories go away, that can serve as an incentive for some people to create chaos.
That’s why it’s critical that we allow due process to take place when investigating these situations. As Robert Evans said, “There are three sides to every story – yours, mine and the truth, and no one is lying.” However, the rise of social media has made it harder, if not impossible, to manage disturbing allegations.
Let me ask you this, how are we able to get to the truth when people jump to conclusions based on the first thing they read on Deadspin, Bloomberg, the New York Times or the Boston Globe? What happened to hearing both sides of a case?
There are many positives about social media, but it can also serve as a cesspool where businesses and reputations get destroyed and public perceptions are formed and become difficult to erase. Many of us, become arm chair quarterbacks when negative stories become public news. We think we know all the answers based on the things we’ve read, but unless you’ve been in the middle of the situation, and are privy to all of the facts, you’re not as informed as you think you are.
This is why we have a justice system. It’s perfectly legal for anyone to sue and accuse a person or company of wrongdoing, but providing evidence, and convincing a jury is part of the process. I realize the term ‘due process’ may not be popular, especially to the social media masses who sit with their fangs out waiting to feast on dead skin, but everyone deserves to be heard. If someone is innocent, those facts will come out. If they’re guilty, they’ll pay a heavy price. In both cases, the public will know what transpired. That should be the goal not sensationalism or a rush to judgement.
Case in point, two weeks ago, a gunshot was fired inside of a store at the Crystal Run Galleria Mall in Middletown, NY near where I live. I received a text from my fiance about the story and began to scan the television and surf social media to try and learn more. KPIX 11 reported that three were dead, and the story was soon being advanced on social media by on site witnesses, stating that it was a mall shooting and many had been hurt.
A few hours later after police got involved and had a chance to investigate, they discovered that an individual who was in American Eagle with his pregnant wife and two children, fired his gun one time into the ground, causing a situation where the bullet fragments injured two people. Although the situation was scary, nobody died, there was no mass shooting, and no large amount of people were hurt. That’s not exactly what KPIX or the so-called eye witness’ reported.
So how could KPIX report that news? What about the sea of people who flocked to social media causing panic to families and additional problems for law enforcement who were trying to assess what went wrong? Shouldn’t they be held accountable?
A similar breakdown occurred earlier this month when ABC news correspondent Brian Ross reported that Michael Flynn would testify that President Trump directed him to make contact with Russian officials. The report turned out to be false, and ABC had to suspend Ross for four weeks.
When media outlets or the public rush to judgment minus all of the facts, mistakes are made, especially on social media. It’s why I believe executives at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram need to install stricter guidelines to make sure their platforms are used properly.
Don’t get me wrong, I love having the freedom to post about my life, my business, and my personal and professional tastes, but if I were using a public platform to negatively damage a person or brand, and it was proven that I acted that way, there should be consequences. Right now, it’s a free for all and too many errors are occurring and creating larger problems.
To direct this back to the issue at hand, sexual harassment, it’s easy to preach from the sidelines about due process and tell media executives to stand by their people and investigate claims before making important decisions that permanently damage their reputations and end their careers. But when advertisers take money off the books, listeners and/or viewers stop consuming content, and social anarchy unfolds leading to the destruction of a brand’s image, how can I or anyone expect a CEO, Corporate Executive or Market Manager to stay calm and remain supportive as fires spread around them and their business gets harmed?
This is an uncomfortable subject to write about but it’s not one that we can sweep under the carpet. It’s important to remember that the only way to weed out the bad and support the good is by setting expectations, reinforcing them, managing each situation, and reserving judgment until all of the facts come out.
If even half of what Jami Cantor was subjected to is true, I feel terrible for her. Nobody deserves that type of treatment. These allegations will make some women think twice before pursuing employment at the NFL Network. If they’re proven to be true, it’ll likely lead to seven media people struggling to find future work, and it’ll reduce the NFL Network’s bank account and force the company to reexamine every aspect of its organizational structure, standards, and executive staff.
However, if we learn that there are other factors to this story, and the situation is different than what Cantor presented, then there’s going to need to be further explanations. Right now, seven people’s professional lives are on life support. For their sake they better have a damn good explanation and strong evidence to counter what’s been reported because at this point in time, it looks really bad for all involved.
If you’re in a position of power and given a license to shape a brand’s vision and hire a staff, it’s imperative that you conduct yourself as a leader in a proper way and outline your expectations and hold people accountable. I used to place a sheet on the studio glass door in a few of my buildings outlining the station’s on-air commandments. These were things I considered in bounds and off limits. Some hosts probably thought it was silly, a few may have even ignored it, but if the rules were broken, there were consequences. They didn’t have to look far to know what would and wouldn’t be tolerated.
It’s the same when navigating issues behind the scenes that are much more complex and personal. You set expectations, hold people accountable, and if issues arise, you investigate immediately. I had one situation arrive at my door over a ten year period, and as soon as I learned about it, I called the person in, questioned them, involved HR to investigate further, and made sure it was clear that there was no three strikes and you’re out policy for sexual harassment in the workplace. If anything turned up during the investigation that was deemed inappropriate, it could cost the individual their employment. The person in question understood the seriousness of the matter, and thankfully it wasn’t a larger issue.
These situations are a company’s worst nightmare, because no CEO, GM or PD wants to see their employees get hurt or their business get damaged. They provide a workplace for staff members to feel safe and productive in, not to be placed in harm’s way. There are a few slippery slopes to deal with such as social media noise, false accusations from people out for financial gain, and rehabbing a brand’s image after the fact, but if you treat co-workers with respect, conduct yourself in a professional manner, and act swiftly and fairly when situations occur, you’ll be in a much better position than the NFL Network is today.
As I stated at the beginning of the column, there are certain topics you never want to be mentioned in. Sexual harassment is one of them. When you cross the line and put yourself and your employer in an unenviable position, don’t be surprised if future opportunities aren’t available, regardless of how talented you might be. At that point you’re left asking yourself one question, “was it really worth it?”
Angiolet, Borod, Craig & Sottolano Added To 2022 BSM Summit
“If you’re planning to attend, please buy your tickets as soon as possible. We have limited room and it’s first come, first serve.”
We promised we had more great news to share regarding the 2022 BSM Summit. Just four days after revealing the addition of ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro to this year’s show, we’ve added four more heavyweights to March’s sports media industry conference.
First, it’s a pleasure to welcome for the first time, DraftKings Chief Media Officer Brian Angiolet to the BSM Summit. Brian joined DraftKings in April 2021 after two decades with Verizon where he helped the company strike a number of multi-billion dollar broadcasting, sports and entertainment content and advertising deals. Some of the key groups to do business with Verizon during Brian’s tenure included the NFL, NBA, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM. DK has been a large advertiser and supporter of the sports media industry for many years, in addition to becoming a larger content provider following the acquisition of VSiN. We look forward to having Brian join our sports betting executive panel (hosted by ESPN’s host Joe Fortenbaugh) to share his insights on how he sees sports betting groups participating now and in the future in the sports media content world.
Second, it’s an honor to add Fanatics Chief Commercial Officer Ari Borod to the sports betting executive panel for his first appearance at the BSM Summit. Ari’s fingerprints have been all over the sports betting business for years, first with FanDuel, then with the Action Network. He joined Fanatics in June 2021, reuniting with former FanDuel CEO Matt King, and in less than a year, the company became the official trading cards partner of MLB, purchased the Topps Trading Company, and applied for a sports betting license in New York. Possessing a massive customer base, deep executive knowledge of the sports betting business, and a desire to make a larger dent in the sports betting arena, we’re thrilled to have Ari lend his perspective on how Fanatics views the future of sports betting and the evolution of the sports media industry.
Next, I am thrilled to have Audacy’s EVP of Programming Jeff Sottolano appear on stage for the first time at the Summit. In his current role, Jeff is responsible for the content strategy and performance of Audacy’s local brands in all formats across all broadcast and digital platforms. Jeff has played a key role in the launch, development and growth of the BetQL Network, while also helping Audacy evolve its position as one of America’s top audio companies. Jeff will be part of one of my favorite sessions, The Power Panel, which includes SVP of Premiere Sports and EVP of iHeart Sports Don Martin, Cumulus and Westwood One SVP Bruce Gilbert, and SiriusXM SVP of Sports Programming Steve Cohen. All four men will participate in a lengthy discussion on sports talk programming and the various challenges facing brands, talent, and programmers today.
A BSM Summit can’t just feature new faces though, especially when familiar ones add valuable knowledge to important programming conversations. ESPN Radio Program Director, former colleague and longtime friend Justin Craig will join us for our Programmers Masterclass alongside a few other notable leaders. The group will examine what does and doesn’t work from a content standpoint when trying to capture ratings. They’ll also share which ingredients are essential in successful talent/shows, and provide an on-site review of a piece of audio content. Those interested in learning how great programmer’s think will want to be present for this panel.
If you haven’t purchased a ticket to the Summit but are planning to attend, please do so before seats are no longer available. We have limited room inside the theater and it’s first come, first serve. Additionally, all attendees in New York will receive an online registration to be able to watch the show on-demand afterwards. This can be helpful when looking to share insight with local staffs who aren’t able to attend.
For those not able to travel but interested in enjoying the Summit, we do have virtual tickets available. Details on tickets, speakers, and hotel rooms can be found on BSMSummit.com. I hope to see you there!
ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit
“Having Jimmy with us will allow our attendees to learn how ESPN views the current sports media landscape in order to better understand where the business is headed in the future.”
The largest player in the sports content business today is ESPN. From television to radio to streaming, social, podcasts, websites and more, the network remains a force in satisfying the appetites of sports fans around the globe.
But creating sustainable global success isn’t easy. It requires investing billions of dollars in key programming partnerships, holding off competitors who seek to elevate their own standing, and hiring and retaining talented professionals and providing an environment for them to thrive in. If that wasn’t difficult enough, a company must also embrace new technology, and accept that certain things will fail while pursuing a path to excellence.
The man charged with making sure ESPN thrives in each of these areas is Chairman Jimmy Pitaro, and I’m excited to share that he’ll be joining us in March in New York City for the 2022 BSM Summit.
I’ll have the pleasure of spending 35 minutes on stage with Jimmy discussing the state of the sports media industry, the opportunities and challenges facing operators in 2022 and beyond, the growth of sports betting, network radio, podcasts, subscriptions, social, and many other issues. No matter what space we’re talking about, ESPN has held a dominant position among all media brands. Having Jimmy with us will allow our attendees to learn how ESPN views the current sports media landscape in order to better understand where the business is headed in the future.
Jimmy has been with the Walt Disney Company since 2010. He became ESPN President in 2018 and was elevated two years later to his current role as Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content. You can learn more about his professional background by clicking here.
A reminder that the 2022 BSM Summit is an industry-only event. You must work in the media business in order to attend the show. This includes sales, public relations, advertising agency professionals and agents, as well as programming folks. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet of attending the Summit, feel free to visit our YouTube page to see some clips from past shows. It’ll give you an idea of what you can expect. You can also see the full list of speakers scheduled to appear at our 2022 show by visiting BSMSummit.com. We’ll announce a few more executive additions to March’s event later this week.
For those who manage brands and have joined us before in New York, Los Angeles and/or Chicago and are planning to come but haven’t bought a ticket yet, please do so asap. Seating is limited and once we’re full, we can’t add seats inside the room. You can also take advantage of a great hotel deal ($109 per night) with our partner Hotel Edison by clicking here.
One additional note, for those who are concerned about traveling, there is an opportunity to buy a virtual ticket. This year’s show is available both online and in person. For those planning to join us in NYC, in addition to receiving your live ticket, you’ll also get an online account so you can view the event on-demand afterwards. This can be especially helpful if you wish to replay a session or use any information afterwards to help members of your team. A big thanks to our virtual partner Nuvoodoo Media for helping make it happen.
We’re just 49 days away from putting on a spectacular show for industry folks in the big apple. We hope to see you there!
BSM, BNM Ready To Grow In 2022
“We’ve ended 2021 with record high’s for monthly traffic and social impressions, and our client and advertiser base the best its ever been thanks to the support of outstanding partners.”
It’s commonplace in our business to self-reflect when a new year full of possibilities arrives. We should probably do it more often rather than reserving it for the final day of the year or the first day of the next, but in the media business, finding time isn’t always easy.
As I look back at 2021, and the obstacles, adversity, accomplishments, enlightenment, and unpredictability that awaits BSM and BNM in 2022, I’m grateful to be able to do work that many enjoy and benefit from. Since I left the programming world in 2015 not a day has passed where I thought ‘I need to get back to running a radio station‘. That may sound crazy considering I spent two decades inside of buildings, loving the job, and living and breathing it 24/7, but from the second I moved into this space, I knew it was where I needed to be.
I had my fun building brands, chasing ratings, leading corporate programming calls, and making good money, but that restricted me to working in one city for one company with one brand and one staff. Now, I get to wake up each day and help clients in multiple cities, and run my own brand, collaborating with a great group of people to tell stories about the business we love. Combine that with hosting an annual conference, working with advertising partners and industry friends to create cool content and examine ways to grow their businesses, and connecting with folks to stay plugged in on details that others won’t know about until weeks or months later, and I consider myself very lucky. The added bonus, I get to do it in running pants and t-shirts inside the comfort of my home office/studio.
But with operating a business comes a different set of challenges. In 2020, we ended the BSM Summit on a high only to watch the entire world spin out of control weeks later due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That created a bunch of short-term issues, which fortunately we were able to overcome. Fast forward to this year, and we’ve ended 2021 with record high’s for monthly traffic and social impressions, and our client and advertiser base the best its ever been thanks to the support of outstanding partners. I never assume we’re in the clear because things can change quickly, but the support we’ve received is appreciated. It fuels me to reinvest in others to continue growing our operation and helping the industry.
So let’s talk a little bit about how we’re doing that in 2022.
First, we merged Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media in May 2021 to bring news and opinion from both the sports/talk and news/talk worlds under one roof. We tried running them independently initially but that wasn’t the best strategy for a new brand. Since bringing them together, BNM’s exposure has increased, the content has been read more regularly, and though we have more to do to get the brand on par with BSM, we’re making progress. BSM had a 5+ year head start on BNM, and though I know at times it may seem weird to read a sports media and news media story on the same website or social media account, as I tell those who ask, sports and news have mixed together since the invention of television, radio and newspapers.
Boosting BNM’s awareness and content is a goal for 2022, and to do that I want to share two things we’re creating to help us make progress.
I’m excited to share that we are launching The BNM Rundown. This will be a newsletter we distribute 3x per week (Monday-Wednesday-Friday) via email similar to what we’ve done with the BSM 8@8. The Rundown will go out around 5pm ET on each of those three days, and it’ll contain ten (10) news media stories, five (5) advertising slots, and the latest stock prices for radio groups. There will be additional content and advertising added in the future, and we may increase delivery to five days per week down the line. I’m happy with the layout and think you’ll enjoy it. If you’d like to receive the BNM Rundown or discuss advertising opportunities inside of it, click here to sign up. A big thanks to Ryan Jaster for all the work he’s done getting it ready for distribution.
In addition to the newsletter, 2022 will become the first year where we roll out BNM’s Top 20 of 2022. Similar to how we’ve produced the BSM Top 20, we are going to do the same for the News/Talk format. Categories will be announced at a later time, and we’re expecting to present our results towards years end. There’s a lot to be done to make it a success, but if we’re able to do for News/Talk what we’ve done for Sports/Talk during the past 6 years, I’m confident folks will appreciate it.
When I look at BNM right now, I see a number of excellent writers on the site. If you’re not reading Pete Mundo, Jerry Barmash, Douglas Pucci, Rick Schultz, McGraw Milhaven, Ryan Hedrick and Eduardo Razo, you really should. Each of those guys have been rock stars for the brand, but we need more help, especially another columnist or two. If you work in news radio or TV, love writing, and live and breathe the business, email: JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Though we do need to add columnists, a bigger hole has been a dedicated Assistant Content Editor. I’ve poured my heart and soul into BSM over the years, Demetri Ravanos has as well, and that’s helped us build a strong connection with sports radio folks. For BNM, that love, interest, and unwavering passion for telling stories about news radio and news television has been missing in the editor role. Though frustrating at times, it’s all part of building a brand. You have to go thru a few things before it all starts to click. Now after talking to a bunch of talented people over the past two months, and thinking about the brand’s need for TLC, I’m happy to announce the internal promotion of Eduardo Razo.
Since joining us Eduardo has been a steady fixture on the site, writing news, scheduling social posts, and putting an extra set of eyes on the content that comes in from our team. He cares about the site being clean, conducts himself neutrally and professionally when adding news, and he believes in the brand. If hours go by and the site doesn’t have new content, he’s the one who points it out. When Eduardo first joined us he was just learning the ropes. Over the past fifteen months he’s been consistently excellent, and I have no doubt he’ll make even more progress in his new role as BNM’s Assistant Content Editor.
Making sure Eduardo has support to help him though is also important. I’d love to be that person myself, but client projects require much of my focus, so having a strong #2 is key. I’ve been lucky to have a great one in Demetri Ravanos who I’m excited to share is being elevated to the new role of Director of Content. In his new position, Demetri will continue producing columns, creating original feature stories, and hosting a weekly podcast. He’ll also be responsible for daily social creation and scheduling, working with yours truly on client projects and Barrett Media events, recruitment of writers, growth of the BSM Member Directory, BSM merchandising, additional BSM audio projects, and oversight of BSM and BNM’s Assistant Content Editors.
That last line implies that there will be multiple editors involved in shaping BSM and BNM’s content, and with Demetri and Eduardo promoted, that means we’re adding someone to help grow BSM. I’m thrilled to welcome Ian Casselberry to our team as BSM’s new Assistant Content Editor. Ian is familiar to many in the sports media universe for his work with Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He’s also contributed to Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports, SB Nation Detroit, and MLive.com among others.
I’ve read Ian’s work for years and have always appreciated his passion for sports radio and sports television. Adding someone with his experience, creativity, and attention to detail has been a huge priority for me. I’m looking forward to turning him loose on January 17th when he officially begins working with us. Under his direction, and in tandem with Demetri and I, we’re going to aim to produce more quality sports media content, and continue expanding BSM’s footprint across the industry.
As awesome as all of these moves are for creating interest in reading the site, if you don’t have someone in position to help sell it, the upside is going to be limited. For the past six years I’ve been the one making those sales myself. But I’ve also had to be a consultant, social scheduler, content creator, summit organizer-creator-host, finder of new clients, and the one in charge of billing and payroll. I love being busy, but a brand’s potential can’t be maximized without help.
Placing the company’s sales efforts in someone else’s hands though requires trust. I’ve learned the past few years that unless you’re inside my world and understand everything that goes on with BSM and BNM, it’s not an easy brand to sell. Media sellers are used to working with more assets, bigger dollars, and they expect things to move faster. They’re also used to corporate environments where a crew provides support from the beginning to the end of a sale. That’s not how it works here. This is more of a family business. Our success depends on one on one relationships, accessibility, being a self-starter, and patience. It means keeping in touch with industry friends and partners even when there isn’t a sale to be made. Nobody knows this brand, business, and who we serve better than the person who’s lived it with me for the past six and a half years, Stephanie Eads, my new Director of Strategic Partnerships.
Not only has Stephanie worked in sales and customer service most of her adult life, she’s honest, organized, and outstanding with people. She’s been exposed to every aspect of my radio life for the past sixteen years, and if you’ve been to a BSM Summit before then you already know how on the ball she is at making sure things get done. This is something we’ve talked about for years, but the timing was never right. Now it is, and I’m excited to watch her blossom. Having her add extra support to help me with billing and payroll is an added bonus.
The BSM brand will also welcome a few additional writers starting this week. First, I’m glad to have Danny O’Neil joining us as a weekly columnist. I got to know Danny in Seattle at 710 ESPN Seattle over the past six years, and he’s always been smart, passionate about media, and an exceptional writer. He’s now based in NYC and his debut column will hit the site this Friday. Also joining us in a daily news writer role is Will Dundon. Will is based in Nashville where he works as a producer for 102.5 The Game. Having him involved will help us stay on top of day to day news stories.
In terms of upcoming content, the BSM Top 20 of 2021 will be released February 7-11 and 14-15. The series moves back a week this year in accordance with a later Super Bowl date. During the seven day span we will highlight the best local sports radio stations, program directors, and morning, midday, and afternoon shows. We will also recognize the best national sports talk shows and original sports podcasts. To do that, we will once again involve more than 50 program directors and executives in the voting process.
One thing we will do differently this year is create an extra piece which recognizes the top performer in twenty smaller categories. These will be determined by a combination of BSM staff and select experts for specific fields. Some of these categories will include Best Sports Betting Content Brand, Best Wrestling Audio Show, Best Sports Radio Social Brand, and more.
After the Top 20 concludes, we’ll turn our attention to the 2022 BSM Summit, which is scheduled for March 2-3, 2022 in New York City at the Anne Bernstein Theater. The show will also be available virtually for those who can’t attend in person. I’m excited about the guest speakers we’ve lined up for this year’s event, and have more tremendous additions to announce later this week and next week. I realize the Omicron/Covid-19 situation has created some concern over the past month, and we continue to monitor the situation closely. As of today, we’re planning to host the event. If the situation were to worsen and we couldn’t keep people safe and comfortable, we’d reschedule the show. I’m hopeful of seeing familiar faces and many of sports media’s best and brightest in sixty days. If you haven’t bought your ticket, log on to BSMSummit.com and do so before you’re on the outside looking in. In the meantime, stay tuned to this website and the BSM 8@8 for details. We should all know more January 15th when New York State updates everyone on their mask ordinance.
Other content projects are in the works as well for March-December. We’ve got a number of ideas we’ve talked about for March Madness, and the NFL Draft. Items like last year’s Meet The Market Managers or a programmer’s version of it may also land on the content calendar. Not to be forgotten is the importance of continuing to improve the BSM Member Directory to help people stay informed, ready, and land in front of the right decision makers when job openings arise. Seeing a few of our members earn gigs the last 4-5 months of 2021 was very cool, and we hope to see more of that in 2022. Last but not least, I’m hopeful of giving the website a new layout in either quarter 2 or 3.
As I bring this column to a close, I’d like to remind you that BSM and BNM exists because we love the business and advocate for it daily. Since 2015, I’ve prioritized professional storytelling, research, industry news, relationship building, social media marketing, and consulting. Inside information and building relationships are important, and sure, it’s occasionally fun being first, but I’ve never worried about clicks, scoops, cash grabs or ruining reputations to elevate my own. I try to think about the big picture, even if it means missing out in the short-term. That applies to who I work with in a consulting capacity as well as how I operate the site. There’s no better example of it than last week. Most of our crew had the week off. It was tough missing out on stories when we were taking a mental timeout, but people come first. If you want long-term productivity and a staff to stick with you, support and sacrifice are essential.
If there’s one thing I know, this outlet has been a great resource for industry professionals. I wasn’t as fortunate during my studio days to have a site this rich in content to learn from, debate with, and stay connected to. We’ve hired 20+ contributors to help serve the industry, and I’m honored to have each one of them here. The additions we’ve made to improve the brand in 2022 will make us even better. We’re not perfect by any stretch, but we try to be fair and accurate. I also try to be accessible, especially when difficult situations arise. There are going to be times when our crew deliver strong opinions or tackle sensitive issues, and when those instances occur, I hope you’ll remember what I said about accuracy and fairness. We won’t operate as shills for the industry but we’re also not going scorched earth on folks.
Our goal here is simple, help folks stay informed about the sports and news radio/television formats, overdeliver for clients who place their trust in us, connect our advertising partners and members to others who can benefit from their services, and give industry people access to content from other professionals so they can do their jobs better.
If we can do these things consistently we’ll be in great shape. If we miss along the way, we’ll clean up the mess, and try to learn from it. We’re nine months away from celebrating seven years in operation, and we couldn’t have made it this far without your full support. Thanks for riding with us, now let’s make 2022 a year to remember.
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