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Observations of the BSM 2017 Top 20

Jason Barrett

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Six days of BSM 2017 Top 20 lists are in the books and I’m thrilled to have it in my rear view mirror. The interest in this series continues to outperform my expectations and for that I’m extremely grateful, but, the process takes nearly three months to complete and by the time it’s over, I’m mentally exhausted and in need of a break. This year I’ve set aside three days for a quick getaway to Miami but as soon as I return, it’s on to the next two projects, Season 3 of the Barrett Sports Media Podcast, and finalizing plans for the Barrett Sports Media Programming Summit in Chicago in March.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t equal to digging ditches. It’s a labor of love, and I appreciate that sports radio listeners get invested in the lists and use the information to learn more about some of our format’s great shows and stations in other cities. I’m beyond thankful to each industry member who retweets my work or shares their own posts on social media or an internal email to colleagues expressing their gratitude for the recognition. It’s a great feeling when I see a wife post something about her husband or a co-worker share something about a teammate or boss, appreciating them for their hard work and accomplishments.

I spent a decade programming a few successful sports stations, working with some incredible people, and I wish this type of series existed when I was managing brands. I often wondered if my efforts and contributions were noticed by my peers or not. Unfortunately, the only opportunities to be recognized came in the form of on-air shows earning exposure on lists which were often influenced by advertising dollars, partnerships and professional relationships. Although that frustrated my format friends, it’s all we had, which was why I decided to do something about it when I went into business for myself.

I don’t claim this process is perfect or better than anyone else’s, but the BSM platform has gained credibility. That’s helped in gaining the trust and respect of forty seven radio executives from different cities and companies. Without their help this project would be incomplete. The only thing I’ll take credit for is being smart enough to release the six day series during a time when the majority of the sports media industry broadcasts live from the Super Bowl host city. That puts peers, friends and competitors in the same space, which leads to additional awareness and chatter about the lists.

Throughout my time in the business, I’ve heard people frequently mention at radio conferences that the radio business needs to do a better job of telling its story, highlighting its people and successes, and lending their support to those who recognize the good work they’re doing. It sounds like great advice, but unfortunately not many follow thru on it.

I can proudly say though that I do. There is no promotional series for the sports talk format more extensive than the BSM Top 20.

Over the span of six days, 140 shows, 40 stations and 40 programmers in the sports radio format are recognized for their work. That information makes Market Managers look good to their bosses. It becomes information passed along by salespeople to their clients. It’s content which gets pushed thru a brand’s social media channels and airwaves to activate their listeners. More importantly though, it gives each person on the list a reason to feel good about their work and to know that what they do is appreciated and valued by their employer and those who pay attention up above.

Is the process perfect? No. I’m not sure how it could be. An East Coast executive will probably value a show or station in their city or region higher than they do a West Coast brand and vice versa. A person working at Entercom or iHeart will likely vote for people they know, respect and care about instead of a competitor. Some individuals will also place shows or people higher based on ratings or reputation rather than what comes thru the speakers.

Because of all of those factors, I stress that the results are a representation of the collective opinions of industry executives and they’re subjective. In organizing it, I go thru each company and region to try and make sure there’s good balance. I’ll even switch up a few panel members each year to keep it fresh.

What I’ve learned since starting this is that there are a lot of smart and informed executives who take it seriously. There are also some who don’t know the format as well as they should. BSM doesn’t vote because it would be unfair to clients and competitors. As I’ve stated before, it doesn’t make sense to ask forty seven executives to contribute only to disregard their feedback and play favorites.

What I will offer my opinion on though are some of the results that stood out from this year’s Top 20.

10 OBSERVATIONS:

  • Kirk and Callahan of WEEI in Boston were named Major Market sports radio morning show, the only local Major Market award not won by WFAN or one of their shows. K&C had a tremendous 2017 and deserved the award, but I was surprised they won because The Fan had a stranglehold on nearly every category and voters tend to have strong opinions of WEEI and its shows. What the results told me, industry leaders have taken notice of what’s been happening in Boston sports radio circles.
  • I was stunned to see Boomer Esiason finish 7th in the Major Market morning show category considering that he won the award the past 2 years with Craig Carton. I understand if voters felt Carton’s exit weakened or stained WFAN for a brief period, but the morning show rated 1st in the fall with Men 25-54 in mornings without Carton. I’m not sure what else Esiason could have done.
  • Sticking with WFAN, Mike Francesa became the first and only three time winner, taking home the honor of 2017 Major Market Afternoon Show. Since the New York Sports Pope is no longer on the air, next year’s results figure to be very different. That puts pressure on Chris Carlin, Bart Scott and Maggie Gray but that shouldn’t phase them because they’ve dealt with intense scrutiny since accepting the job. On the other hand, every Major Market afternoon show now has an opening. It’ll be interesting to see who breaks thru in the next 12 months.
  • Waddle & Silvy and The Michael Kay Show exceeded expectations in the voting which was a pleasant surprise. Usually the ESPN local shows don’t generate as much traction as others. Not only do both programs deserve that respect because of their on-air execution, but their ratings, reputation and visibility are being noticed too. That’s good news for all involved.
  • I was surprised to see Felger & Mazz dip to 4th considering they remain the dominant duo in afternoons in Boston. Did a voter or two lower their opinion of the show based on Felger’s comments about Roy Halladay? That’s all I can come up with because they continued to deliver exceptional results.
  • Barstool Radio debuted on the National Shows list which shows that industry folks are curious, interested and expecting bigger things from the show/brand. With a full channel dedicated to Barstool’s content, I don’t think it’s a question if the brand will appear on the National list in the future. I think the question is, how many of their shows earn spots down the line?
  • Colin Cowherd’s reign atop the National’s list was overtaken by Dan Patrick. Given how much respect exists for Colin in executive circles I was surprised by that. It shows that industry folks place equal value on DP’s program and appreciate its consistency. In analyzing the voting, Dan and Colin are on a much higher level than the rest of the national pack.
  • For one reason or another, 790 The Ticket in Miami, and sports stations in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Houston seem to get overlooked a lot when compared to other Major Market brands. It’s likely because they don’t rate as high as other cities but there are a few quality shows on those stations which I think deserve a closer look.
  • I would’ve included 92.9 The Game in that previous paragraph but the Atlanta sports station finally broke thru in the Major Market Afternoon and Station categories. Is that a sign of bigger things to come for the brand or are they a one-hit wonder? Next year’s results will tell us, but at least now they’re on the radar.
  • It was neat to see The Deener Show, Erik Ainge, Bo Mattingly, The Huge Show, Garcia & Bailey, Bruce Hooley, Decamara & Ritchie, Dukes & Bell and Hochman & Crowder all debut on the lists. The same was true for PD’s Jeremiah Crowe, Joe Zarbano, Armen Williams, Dan Zampillo, Jeff Rickard, Tony DiGiacomo and Drew Anderssen. Good job by the panel voting for a few new faces who were deserving.

CLOSING COMMENTS:

The web traffic this year surpassed the previous two, confirming that interest in the Top 20 remains strong. Our panel was excellent, and I thought the winners and results provided many correct calls. Maybe a few things here or there deserved better or worse placement but overall it was a good reflection of the format’s best.

In the next few months I’ll examine everything from the schedule of each category release, to the images (I thought this year’s graphics were the best ones yet, do you agree or disagree?), to the executive panel members, to the press releases and emails that promote each list. Should this be done in 5 days or 6? Would it be better if it was rolled out in one day? Does it make more sense to do it online or at a live event? Is it worth adding a title sponsor to the series? These are questions I ask myself each year as I strive to make it better.

What I don’t spend much time worrying about are the handful of listeners who complain about stations in their markets deserving a top spot when the brand they’re trying to hype up barely rates. Sorry guys, industry executives pay attention to results. I appreciate the passion but yearly performance counts in this process.

I also don’t waste a lot of energy worrying about folks who complain about my clients earning favoritism or being placed behind their competitors. If you want the sports format to be fairly presented, you have to involve the right people, add up their feedback, and let the collective results speak for themselves. As I told an executive last week who disliked the winner of one category, you contributed to the process along with your peers. If you want to blame someone, blame them or yourself.

I do have one pet peeve. There are some people who like to add up the number of female and black hosts on the lists and create some type of racial or gender war. I’ve stated before that the format needs to do a much better job hiring people from different backgrounds. I’ve done the research and presented it. But, that is a separate issue. To not recognize hosts or PD’s who are doing great work for quality brands is discounting their contributions to the industry too. In my opinion, that doesn’t solve the problem.

As far as talk show hosts are concerned, I love competitive people and understand why they feel they deserve a spot on the list. If it didn’t happen though, rather than getting frustrated, ask yourself, why am I not on there? Is it ratings related? Is it because the market or brand I’m part of flies below the radar? Am I working for the second station in a city with a well known and respected competitor? Are the other 20 options simply better at what they do? Or are executives not as big of a fan of my work as I might have thought they were?

Ratings, revenue, reputation and relevance are all part of your success story. If you possess all four, you may have a legitimate gripe. If not, get to work on them because what you contribute today and tomorrow could impact where you stand next year. Congratulations to all who earned a spot on the 2017 BSM Top 20. Until next year, thanks for checking out the lists and supporting BSM.

Barrett Blogs

Jeff Catlin, John Mamola, Gordy Rush & Maggie Clifton Join The 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

Jason Barrett

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We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on BSMSummit.com.

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit BSMSummit.com.

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Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett

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As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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