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A Time For Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

Jason Barrett

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With each passing year, it’s customary for many to introduce new goals and promise holding themselves accountable to them over the next twelve months. I’ve personally never been a big New Year’s resolution guy because I’ve always thought that it was silly to declare yourself ready to chase a higher standard on January 1st when you could’ve already been doing it. However, I am a proponent of reflecting on where you’ve been the prior twelve months, sharing what you learned and explaining how the experiences of the past will guide your brand and yourself to better times in the future.

Some of you may feel it’s a waste of time to recap your brand’s prior year of wins and losses because the members inside your operation should all be aware of what took place. I used to make that mistake myself. But, as you gain more understanding in this business you discover that not everyone inside your organization recalls every detail as vividly as the brand leader. That doesn’t mean they care less than you do about the brand. It just means your attention to detail is stronger (which is supposed to be the case when you oversee a brand) and if you can re-energize your team and arm them with evidence to have greater success in 2018 then that certainly isn’t time poorly spent.

As I reflect back on my own share of experiences during the past year, I’ve been reminded of a great number of professional victories. I also endured a personal scare which I’ll cover first since the majority of this piece will focus on professional matters.

blankPrior to 2017, I never needed to rush to a hospital for a shortage of breath. But that changed on Saturday May 13, 2017. I only remember the date because despite a scare that day, I was at MetLife Stadium the next day rocking out to Metallica. In hindsight that probably wasn’t the best decision but if I was going to spend a few days on the sidelines, then I was going to enjoy myself and finally catch the band live after never having seen them perform before.

On that morning, I woke up with severe tightening in my chest. I called my father and told him what was happening and he told me to get over to a hospital immediately. I got in the car with my son and drove to the Emergency Room, grasping for air as I drove. I then spent close to ten hours inside the hospital with tubes in my arms and fluids being pumped into my body. As I laid on the hospital bed I wondered to myself “How the heck is this happening when I’m not even 50?” Then when the doctors returned and told me I may need my Gallbladder removed in the future, that added another layer of concern.

Being a dad to a fifteen year old and an independent business owner who had never gone thru a health scare before, I began thinking “What if something happened to me, how would it impact him? How would I operate my business if I couldn’t get around?” Fortunately everything turned out OK, but when that unexpected moment happens and you’re twisting in the wind waiting for feedback from doctors it leaves your mind to wander. I hadn’t been doing anything different in my day to day life to trigger the issue but what that taught me is that you never know when the unexpected can pop up and quickly alter your plans. If 2018 passes without any of those type of situations rearing their ugly heads again then the year will be seen as a personal success.

Although there were other obstacles to overcome personally in 2017, the year served as a confirmation that I was on the right track professionally. When I launched BSM in September 2015 I had no idea if this was the right path but I was determined to try. I felt I could be an independent asset to many in the format given my knowledge, relationships and passion for the industry, but the radio business isn’t one that moves quickly and sometimes talks out of both sides of its mouth. On one hand it preaches the importance of investing in support, knowledge, ideas, mentoring and promotion yet as soon as an investment is required to gain those assets it becomes a tougher sell since most managers are under corporate pressure to keep expenses down.

blankMy mindset entering the year was to not only retain and strengthen the relationships I had established, but to expand my professional partnerships and relationships, especially with new groups and people who I had previously not worked with. I also wanted to create more web content and elevate the reputation of the BSM brand. That was a big reason for the creation of the BSM Podcast and the decision to add five industry columnists and a news contributor. You guys reading this are ultimately the judge of whether or not we’ve hit the mark but partnerships doubled this year and the web traffic, social media engagement, podcast downloads, emails, texts, calls and direct messages give me reason to believe that we’re on the right track in 2018.

What I’m most proud of is that the clients which I’ve been working with for an extended period of time, are all enjoying consistent success. Two are consistently rated in the top 2 in their markets and another just cracked the Top 10 after being ranked 13th-17th the prior year. Three others who I added late in 2017 are primed for bigger things in 2018 especially as we’ve now gotten a better understanding of talent, roles, systems, trends and opportunities.

If my clients don’t succeed I don’t eat. I’ve never lost sight of the fact that I’m the additional line item on someone’s budget. It’s my job to make sure the programmers I collaborate and work with feel they’re gaining from the experience and the market managers and corporate people I come in contact with know they have someone in their corner who champions their cause and can be trusted. I’ve enjoyed playing a small role in the development of some talented programmers and personalities and hope to work with many more in 2018.

One thing that began to change this year was the reduction in speculation about my return to programming from industry folks. Throughout 2016 I’d often hear, “Where do you think you’ll program next?” “How long are you going to do this side gig until going back into a building“? Each time I heard those remarks I smiled because they knew my resume, not my motivation. They had a built in perception of consultants, not an understanding of my approach, strategy or value. More than anything, they underestimated the power and influence of a website, social media, and podcast and why it was important for sports radio stories to be told by someone who understood the inside of the business, could sell its benefits to industry professionals and advertisers yet wasn’t a mouthpiece for one particular company. Many assumed the lure of a title and paycheck would draw me back into a building, not knowing that I had received multiple inquires to program stations and politely declined.

blankThe year wouldn’t have been complete if it didn’t involve a ton of travel. That part of consulting is both exciting and exhausting. 2017 took me to San Antonio, Los Angeles, Houston, Seattle, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Charlotte, St. Louis and Las Vegas. I attended three conferences, spoke to aspiring sports broadcasters in college and broadcast schools and was either asked to contribute or had my work featured in respected publications such as Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Radio Ink, Inside Radio, All Access, Talkers, Jacobs Media, The Ringer, The Big Lead, Awful Announcing, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Houston Chronicle, the Tennessean and NJ.com. I also appeared on sports radio programs and industry podcasts all across the country, voted on a number of awards and hope to be even more involved in 2018.

One part of the role which I don’t enjoy but is necessary when writing opinionated columns is knowing that your words are going to generate mixed reactions. I try to practice what I preach and express my views on the issues at hand and without malice towards any particular individual but not everyone sees it that way. When stories pop up and involve people that I know, like or respect, the subject becomes even harder to discuss but I think it’s important to remain objective. I take that same approach when producing the annual Top 20 in sports radio, even though it can create additional headaches with clients, and those not working with me will feel I favor those I work with anyway.

When I conducted research earlier this year on ESPN’s public image, Scott Van Pelt wasn’t thrilled with the results. The same occurred when I wrote my piece on Jemele Hill’s social media commentary towards President Trump. Stan Verett was not a fan. Those stories were tough to write because there are a lot of people I like at ESPN but I also felt they were important to discuss. I felt similar when writing other stories such as Entercom building a sports radio empire, Good Karma selling local digital content, CBS Las Vegas blackballing the Golden Knights, and columns on the challenges of sexual harassment and diversity in the sports media business. Regardless of my position on each topic, I hope you learned something from the columns and felt they were worth your time.

The one thing I try to avoid when producing content is creating material simply because it’ll produce the most traffic. That’s a different approach then the one I took when running stations and chasing ratings. If I was going to use that approach running this website I’d just produce lists and columns on controversial issues. 2017’s Top 20 in sports radio represented six of the top 10 stories on the BSM website this year. The same was true in 2016. The other four stories that produced a large amount of attention this year were Mitch Levy’s arrest in Seattle, my columns on Mike and Mike splitting up and Jemele Hill’s remarks creating problems for ESPN and the in-depth conversation I conducted with Mike Francesa.

I saw the same thing with this year’s podcast episodes. The top three episodes were Jim Rome, Doug Gottlieb and Colin Cowherd. Given their national exposure and large social media followings, that didn’t surprise me. Fortunately each of those discussions were very good and gave those who listened something to take away from them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that people enjoy the lists and each of those episodes because I put a lot of time and effort into them and am proud of how they turned out. But not everything I do is for the sake of traffic. Maybe that should be the only goal that matters but I believe that informing, analyzing and discovering are also necessary, even if the activity for those pieces is smaller.

blankAlthough I wish I had a crystal ball and could see what’s in store for the sports radio space during the next twelve months, I learned long ago that this format is rapidly changing and you’ve got to prepare and adjust frequently. Just look at how conversations about sports audio content have been amplified thru print, television and social media in recent years. It shows there’s a huge appetite for what’s being produced, talk show hosts are now among the most influential in the industry and the focus for each brand and staff needs to be on finding ways to create compelling content which is easy to access, visually enticing and unique in presentation. If you take care of those things consistently you’ll find yourself in a position to succeed.

Personally I’m looking forward to producing the 2017 BSM Top 20 in sports radio. This year’s lists will be released January 29-February 5. I’m also hashing out ideas for the 3rd season of the BSM Podcast and plan to launch the first episode in mid-February. In March I’ll be holding the first BSM Programming Summit for programmers, executives and select market managers. If all goes well, I may consider doing a public event down the line. I’m also hoping to increase my Twitter following this year from 5800+ to 8000+. Any help on that front is greatly appreciated.

Another focus of mine right now is reviewing the feedback I’ve received to determine which areas of the website should be expanded and which material is less important. I think Brian, Demetri, Dave, Tyler, Kevin and Brandon have done a nice job on the website and am looking forward to adding some additional support in the future. I also have a few new ideas that I plan to develop and introduce this year to help future broadcasters and hiring managers. If that’s not enough, I’m already booked for a few speaking engagements and market visits and look forward to adding more to make 2018 as productive as possible.

If there’s one professional wish I have for 2018 it’s for industry folks to support one another more. There are times where I literally have to hunt down my fellow peers and friends to share a quote, job listing, piece of information or hit the Re-Tweet button and it shouldn’t be that hard. Most of the time it’s something that benefits the individual, their brand or their audience. We too often in this format get tunnel vision and get so consumed by our work that we forget how important it is to let people near and far know what we’re up to. I’m happy to help advance the sports radio conversation if you’re willing to share your feedback and help promote the stories that inform folks of your success.

To bring this column to a close, 2017 wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it offered some valuable lessons which I plan to carry over to 2018. I’m optimistic about the future of our business and hopeful of working with many more people and brands over the next twelve months. To those who have frequently visited the website, listened to the podcasts and supported my work, I appreciate your loyalty. Here’s to another year of health, happiness, growth, and success!

Barrett Blogs

California College Students Earn Chance to Win 10 Free Tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit Thanks to Steve Kamer Voiceovers

“In order to win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event.”

Jason Barrett

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With a new year comes renewed energy and optimism for the sports media business. Yours truly is looking forward to showcasing the best our business has to offer when we gather the industry in Los Angeles, CA at the 2023 BSM Summit at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California on March 21-22, 2023. Our conference is returning to the west coast for the first time since 2019. We’ve announced some super talented speakers. We’ve got additional things in the works and I plan to make additional announcements in the next few weeks.

People often ask me what the biggest challenge is putting this event together. My answer is always the same, it’s getting people to leave the comfort of their office and spend two days in a room together learning and discussing ways to grow the business. We have great sponsorship support and exceptional people on stage and are fortunate to have a lot of folks already set to attend. Our venue this year has extra space though, so I’m hoping a few more of you make time to join us. If you haven’t bought a ticket or reserved your hotel room, visit BSMSummit.com to make sure you’re all set.

If there’s one thing our industry could get better at it’s opening our minds to new ideas and information. There’s more than one path to success. Just because you’re in good shape today doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. Building brands, growing audiences, increasing revenue, and examining new opportunities is an ongoing process. There are many shifts along the way. We may not solve every business challenge during our two-days together but you’ll leave the room more connected and informed than when you entered it.

Each year I’ll get two or three emails from folks sharing that they learned more about the industry in two-days at the Summit than they have in ___ years inside of their building. That’s truly gratifying and what I strive to achieve when I put this event together. I remember when conferences like this didn’t exist for format folks and I take the risk and invest the time and resources to create it because I love the sports media industry and believe I can help it thrive. I see great value in gathering professionals to share ideas, information, and meet others who can help them grow their business, and if we do our part, I’m confident some will want to work with us too. That’s how we benefit over the long haul.

But as much as I focus on serving the professional crowd, I also think we have a responsibility to educate young people who are interested, passionate, and taking steps to be a part of our business in the future. The BSM website is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each month and it’s become a valuable resource for folks who enjoy sports radio and television. I think it’s vital to use our platform, influence and two-day event to connect generations and I’m happy to announce that we will once again welcome college students at this year’s Summit.

Most of us who’ve been in this line of work for two or three decades learned the business without podcasts, YouTube, social media, the web or conferences delivering two full days of sessions that taught you more about the business than what’s available inside of a class room. We learned by doing, and hoping we were right. Then we copied others who had success. Some of that still exists, and that’s not a bad thing. But where our business goes in the future is going to be drastically different.

I’d like to see the difference makers in our format remembered for years to come, and practices that have stood the test of time remain valued down the line. Change is inevitable in every business and I’m excited about the road that lies ahead especially some of the technological advancements that are now available or will soon become a bigger part of our industry. I think we can embrace the future while enjoying the present and celebrating the past. The best way to do that is by bringing together everyone who is and is hoping to be a part of the sports media universe.

So here’s two things we’re doing to make sure future broadcasters have an opportunity to learn with us.

First, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Steve Kamer Voiceovers. Thanks to Steve’s generosity, TEN (10) college students will be given FREE tickets to attend the 2023 BSM Summit in March. Steve is a USC graduate (Class of 1985) and he bought the ten tickets to help young people learn about the industry, save money and make valuable connections. When I first received his order, I thought he hit the wrong button. I reached out to tell him a mistake was made and I needed to refund him. That’s when he told me what he wanted to do for students who were pursuing their broadcasting dreams just as we both did years ago. A very classy gesture on his part.

As it pertains to the contest, here’s how it’s going to work.

To win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event. Included in your email should be a list of steps that you’ve taken or are pursuing to explore opportunities in the media industry. If you want to pass along a resume and audio or video clips too to showcase your work and experience, that’s fine as well. BSM will accept submissions until February 17th. The winners will be announced on Friday February 24th.

Helping me select the winners will be an exceptional panel of media executives. Each of these folks below will choose one person to attend our L.A. event. The final two will be picked by Steve Kamer and myself.

  • Scott Shapiro – Senior Vice President, FOX Sports Radio
  • Justin Craig – Senior Program Director, ESPN Radio
  • Jeff Sottolano – Executive Vice President, Programming, Audacy
  • Bruce Gilbert – Senior Vice President of Sports, Cumulus Media & Westwood One
  • Amanda Gifford – Vice President, Content Strategy & Audio, ESPN
  • Jacob Ullman – Senior Vice President, Production and Talent Development, FOX Sports
  • Greg Strassell – Senior Vice President, Programming, Hubbard Radio
  • Scott Sutherland – Executive Vice President, Bonneville International

To qualify for the BSM Summit College Contest, students must be enrolled in college in the state of California, pursuing a degree that involves course work either in radio, television, print or the digital business. Those attending local trade schools with a focus on broadcasting are also welcome to participate. You must be able to take care of your own transportation and/or lodging.

This is a contest I enjoy running. We’ve had great participation during our prior two shows in New York City but haven’t done it before on the west coast. I’m hoping it’s helpful to California students and look forward to hearing from many of them during the next month.

For students who live out of state and wish to attend or those enrolled at local universities who enter the contest but aren’t lucky enough to win one of the ten free tickets from Steve Kamer Voiceovers, we are introducing a special two-day college ticket for just $124.99. You must provide proof that you’re currently in school to take advantage of the offer. This ticket gives you access to all of our sessions inside the Founders Club. College tickets will be limited to forty (40) seats so take advantage of the opportunity before it expires.

The 2023 BSM Summit will feature award ceremonies with Emmis Communication CEO Jeff Smulyan and legendary WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, sessions with influential on-air talent such as Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, and Mina Kimes, big picture business conversations with executives from groups such as Audacy, iHeart, Bonneville, Good Karma Brands, Barstool, The Volume, Omaha Productions and more. For details on tickets and hotel rooms visit BSMsummit.com.

I look forward to seeing you in March in Los Angeles!

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Barrett News Media To Gather The Industry in Nashville in September 2023

“I’ve been lucky enough to play a key role in bringing the sports media industry together on an annual basis, and in 2023 we’re going to attempt to do the same for news/talk media professionals.”

Jason Barrett

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One of the best parts about working in the media business is that you’re afforded an opportunity to use your creativity, take risks, and learn if an audience or advertisers will support your ideas. Sometimes you hit a homerun, other times you strike out, but regardless of the outcome, you keep on swinging.

I’ve tried to do that since launching a digital publishing and radio consulting company in 2015. Fortunately, we’ve delivered more hits than misses.

When I added news media industry coverage to our brand in September 2020, I knew it’d be a huge undertaking. The news/talk format is two and a half times larger than sports, many of its brands are powered by national shows, and the content itself is more personal and divisive. I wanted our focus and attention on news media stories, not politics and news, and though there have been times when the lines got blurred, we’ve tried to be consistent in serving industry professionals relevant content .

What made the move into news media more challenging was that I’d spent less time in it. That meant it’d take longer to find the right writers, and it required putting more time into building relationships, trust, respect, and support. Though we still have more ground to cover, we’ve made nice strides. That was reflected by the participation we received when we rolled out the BNM Top 20 of 2022 the past two weeks. Hopefully you checked out the lists. Demetri Ravanos and I will be hosting a video chat today at 1pm ET on BNM’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and through Barrett Media’s YouTube page discussing the series, as well as this article.

It’s because of that growing support, trust, and confidence in what we’re doing that I’m taking a risk yet again. I’ve been lucky enough to play a key role in bringing the sports media industry together on an annual basis, and in 2023 we’re going to attempt to do the same for news/talk media professionals.

I am excited to share the news that Barrett News Media will host its first ever BNM Summit on Thursday September 14, 2023 in Nashville, TN. Our one-day conference will take place at Vanderbilt University’s Student Life Center Ballroom. The venue we’ve selected is tremendous and I’m eager to spend a day with news/talk professionals to examine ways to further grow the format and industry.

If you’re wondering why we chose Nashville, here’s why.

First, the city itself is awesome. The access to great restaurants, bars, entertainment, hotels, and famous landmarks is unlimited, and when you’re traveling to a city for a business conference, those things matter. Being in a city that’s easy for folks across the country to get to also doesn’t hurt.

Secondly, a conference is harder to pull off if you can’t involve successful on-air people in it. If you look at Nashville’s growth in the talk media space over the past decade, it’s remarkable. Many notable talents now live and broadcast locally, major brands have created a local footprint in the area, and that opens the door to future possibilities. I have no idea who we’ll include in the show, and I haven’t sent out one request yet because I wanted to keep this quiet until we were sure it made sense. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of interest in participating and I can’t promise we’ll be able to accommodate all requests but if you have interest in being involved, send an email to Jason@BarrettNewsMedia.com.

Third, finding the right venue is always difficult. We looked at a bunch of great venues in Nashville during our vacation this past summer, and when we stepped on to the campus at Vanderbilt University and walked through the SLC Ballroom, we knew it was the right fit. It had the space we needed, the right tech support, access to private parking, a green room for guests, and it was within walking distance of a few hotels, restaurants, and the Parthenon.

As I went through the process of deciding if this event was right for BNM, a few folks I trust mentioned that by creating a Summit for news/media folks, it could create a competitive situation. I don’t see it that way. I view it as a responsibility. I think we need more people coming together to grow the industry rather than trying to tear each other down. I hear this far too often in radio. We worry about what one station is doing rather than strengthening our own brand and preparing to compete with all audio options.

For years I’ve attended conferences hosted by Radio Ink, NAB, Talkers, and Conclave. I’ve even spoken at a few and welcomed folks who operate in the consulting space to speak at my shows. I’ll continue to support those events, read various trade sites, and invite speakers who work in a similar field because they’re good people who care about helping the industry. I believe BNM and BSM add value to the media business through its websites and conferences, and though there may be a detractor or two, I’ll focus on why we’re doing this and who it’s for, and let the chips fall where they may.

I know juggling two conferences in one year is likely going to make me crazy at times, but I welcome the challenge. In the months ahead I’ll start lining up speakers, sponsors, building the conference website, and analyzing every detail to make sure we hold up our end of the bargain and deliver an informative and professionally beneficial event. The news/talk media industry is massive and making sure it stays healthy is critically important. I think we can play a small role in helping the business grow, and I look forward to finding out on September 14th in Nashville at Vanderbilt University.

Hope to see you there!

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Jimmy Powers, Raj Sharan, Matt Berger and John Goforth Added to 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

“BSM is having a special Holiday SALE this week. Individual tickets are reduced to $224.99 until Friday night December 23rd at 11:59pm ET.

Jason Barrett

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In less than a hundred days, the BSM Summit will return to Los Angeles for two-days of networking, learning, laughing, and celebrating. The conference hasn’t been held on the west coast since 2019, and we’re looking forward to returning to the city of angels on March 21-22, 2023, and bringing together sports media professionals at the Founders Club, located inside the Galen Center at the University of Southern California.

For those of you who haven’t purchased your ticket(s) yet, BSM is having a special Holiday SALE this week. From today (Monday) through Friday 11:59pm ET, individual tickets are reduced to $224.99. If you’re planning to come, and want to make sure you’re in the room, take advantage of the extra savings and secure your seat. To buy tickets, reserve your hotel room, and learn more about the Summit’s speakers, click here.

We’ve previously announced twenty one (21) participants who will join us on stage at the 2023 BSM Summit. Today, we’re excited to expand our lineup by welcoming four (4) more additions to March’s industry spectacular.

First, BSM is thrilled to have two accomplished sports radio programmers contributing to the event. Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit will make his Summit debut in L.A.. Fresh off of a Marconi victory earlier this fall, The Ticket’s brand manager will share his insights on the present and future of sports radio on one of our programming panels. Also taking part in that panel will be the leader of 104.3 The Fan in Denver, Raj Sharan. Raj appeared on stage at the 2022 BSM Summit in NYC, and we look forward to having him return to lend his voice to an important sports radio programming discussion.

But programming won’t be the only thing we invest time in out west. Growing a business, more specifically, a digital business will be part of our conference agenda as well.

When it comes to maximizing digital revenue, few brands understand the space better than Barstool Sports. Charged with growing the brand’s revenue is Senior Vice President and Head of Sales Matt Berger, and we’re looking forward to having Matt join us for a conversation that will focus on monetizing digital opportunities. Before joining Barstool, Matt sold for Bleacher Report/House of Highlights. He’s also worked for Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Company. We’re excited to have him share his wisdom with the room.

Also taking part in our digital sales panel will be John Goforth of Magellan AI. John knows the radio business well from having served previously as a sales manager and salesperson. Since leaving traditional media and joining Magellan AI, John has studied the podcasting advertising space and learned who the top spenders are, who’s making big moves with their podcast advertising budgets, and which publishers are best positioned to benefit. Having his expertise on stage will help many in the room with trying to better understand the digital sales space.

There are other speaker announcements still to come. We have some big things planned, which I’m hoping to reveal in January and February. I want to thank ESPN Radio, FOX Sports, Showtime, and Point to Point Marketing for coming on board as partners of the 2023 BSM Summit. The support we’ve received heading into Los Angeles has been tremendous, and we greatly appreciate it. If you’re looking to be associated with the Summit as an event partner, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

That’s all for now, but be sure to take advantage of the Summit Holiday Sale. You have until Friday night December 23rd at 11:59pm ET to take advantage of discounted tickets. Happy Holidays!

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