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Sports Radio Winter Ratings Report

Jason Barrett

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The winter book isn’t always kind to the sports radio format. Although stations may remain atop the ratings ladder with Men 25-54, shares tend to decrease during this period due to the sports calendar offering less compelling content and a reduction in important games.

For many programmers, the fall is seen as sports radio nirvana. It produces the NFL and CFB regular seasons, the conclusion of the MLB regular season, the MLB Playoffs and the World Series, the return of the NBA/NHL/CBB seasons, not to mention other content hits such as MLB Free Agency, the Heisman Trophy winner announcement, and other unexpected twists and turns.

Although January offers its share of excitement between CFB Bowl games and the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl, once the NFL season expires, February and March become a bigger challenge. Stations try to drum up interest in the remainder of the NBA/NHL seasons, spring training, the NFL Draft combine, NFL free agency and the NCAA tournament, and some may experience success but as a whole, the format dips because those events don’t produce the same must-listen enthusiasm from local audiences.

Regardless of those difficulties, staying competitive and maximizing listening opportunities is critical for sports radio brands. In looking at the winter numbers from a number of markets across the nation, a healthy number of stations turned in impressive results. A few weren’t as fortunate. Nonetheless here’s the information we’re able to pass along.

New York:

The big story was The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 FM ESPN NY defeating WFAN in PM drive for the first time in 13 years. Kay’s program finished 8th, two tenths of a point in front of The Fan’s CMB which came in 10th. WFAN did earn head to head victories in mornings and middays. Boomer & Gio were 7th with a 5.1, a little more than two full points ahead of ESPN Radio’s Golic & Wingo which airs on ESPN New York and finished 14th. Joe & Evan turned in a 6th place finish by generating a 4.8, doubling ESPN NY’s Humpty & Canty.

Los Angeles:

The meters were kind once again to ESPN LA 710. The station remained the top rated sports station in the city of Angels. In the M-F 6a-7p demographic, 710 won the quarter against top competitor AM 570 LA Sports. The station also earned wins in mornings between 6a-9a with Keyshawn Johnson, Jorge Sedano and LZ Granderson defeating 570’s airing of The Dan Patrick Show. From noon to 3p Mason and Ireland remained in front of 570’s Roggin and Rodney. In fact, two full ratings points separated the two shows. The afternoon battle saw a similar story with the combination of Mason and Ireland and Marcellus Wiley and Travis Rodgers besting Petros and Money. The overall numbers for the quarter were not high but LA doesn’t produce the big sports radio shares that we see in other major markets.

Chicago:

670 The Score shook up its lineup in late March, so the new shows are yet to be measured for a full quarter, but for those who are no longer part of the station’s weekday plans, they can at least take solace in the fact that they finished up strong. The winter book found The Score ahead of their market competitor ESPN 1000 in a number of categories. Among Men 25-54 in the M-F 6a-7p demographic, The Score finished nine tenths of a point ahead of ESPN 1000. One year earlier they trailed their competitor by two tenths of a point. In the M-F 6a-7p demographic a similar story occurred. 670 finished a little more than a point ahead of 1000. Last year at this time 1000 was six tenths of a point ahead. In the head to head battles, The Score gained wins from Mully and Hanley (7.5, 1st) over Golic and Wingo (3.2, 13th) in mornings and Spiegel and Parkins (5.1, 4th) over Kap and Company and 1-hour of Carmen and Jurko. ESPN 1000 remained ahead though between 1p-6p led by an hour of Carmen and Jurko and a strong four hour effort from Waddle and Silvy. The station’s two shows combined to deliver a 5.2, 3rd place finish, seven tenths of a point ahead of Bernstein and Goff which turned in a 4.5, good enough for 5th place. As is the case during most quarters, sports radio in the windy city remains alive and well.

San Francisco:

There was cause for celebration on both sides this quarter in the Bay Area. The overall battle was won by KNBR who led most head to head categories, but 95.7 The Game had plenty of reason to feel optimistic too. Starting with M-SU 6a-Mid, KNBR’s 6.3 was strong enough to secure 2nd place. The Game was also formidable, producing a 5.1 to come in 3rd. In the M-F prime 6a-7p slot, KNBR was 2nd again with a low 7 share. The Game also held the same ranking, finishing 3rd with a high 5 share. Mornings were competitive too with Murph and Mac besting Joe, Lo and Dibs. However, the race has definitely tightened. KNBR was 2nd, and The Game 3rd, with only one point separating the two brands in AM drive. Looking at weekdays 10a-1p, Garry and Larry remained KNBR’s strongest rated show, generating an impressive 8.4. The duo were two and a half points better than The Game’s rotational midday show and 1-hour of Greg Papa. That said, The Game had nothing to apologize for, they ranked 2nd at just under a 6 share. Between the hours of 1p-3p, Fitz and Brooks occupied 1st place with just under a 7 share. The Game’s Greg Papa was 2nd with a respectable 5.6. In afternoons, it was another close call as Tolbert and Lund defeated Damon Bruce. The KNBR drive time duo produced a 6.8, which helped them lock up 2nd place. Bruce wasn’t far behind, claiming 3rd with a 5.5. The Game did earn a victory in evenings, thanks to another strong showing by the Golden State Warriors. The Game was 7th with a high 4 share. KNBR was 10th in the mid 3’s. Anyway you slice it, this is a great showing for two superior sports radio brands in a market which continues to become more invested in local sports talk radio.

Philadelphia:

An Eagles Super Bowl appearance, victory and parade was exactly what Philadelphia sports radio needed to ride the wave to the finish line. For Sports Radio 94 WIP the news was especially sweet as the station not only delivered massive shares among Men 25-54 but with the overall 6+ audience too. For the full week WIP was 2nd with 6+ just three tenths of a point away from first place. With Men 25-54 they placed 3rd with a 9.4. Local competitor 97.5 The Fanatic was also strong with a high 5 share. Turning to the weekday shows, Angelo Cataldi continues to be the cream of the crop in the market, finishing 1st with 6+ at a 9.5 share. In the target demo of Men 25-54, Cataldi was 2nd with a 12 share. The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano was much further behind delivering a 5.8. In Middays, WIP saw Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie finish 3rd with a low 9 share. The Fanatic’s Harry Mayes and Jason Myrtetus produced a similar number to Gargano. The most competitive battle occurred in afternoons where Jon Marks and Ike Reese’s first book included a ratings win over The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli. Marks and Reese were 3rd with a mid 8 share. Missanelli was six tenths of a point behind.

One thing to take into account as told to Philly.com by The Fanatic’s program director Eric Johnson, if you remove the streaming numbers from the conversation, WIP wins the afternoon ratings matchup. If those numbers are added though, the story changes.

“They surely do win when you take the stream out of it, but in 2018, you can’t take the stream out of it,” said Johnson. “You write what you want to write, but I’m still saying Mike Missanelli beat WIP.”

WIP’s PD Spike Eskin says Johnson’s take though is misleading because the way the data is collected by Nielsen is designed to measure radio ratings, not streaming numbers.

“That’s not me dismissing the importance of the stream. What I’m dismissing is the notion that you would measure it using a radio rating. I’m very confident if you were to compare our actual streaming numbers to our competition in the afternoon, it would show that we have a clear advantage.”

Atlanta:

The winter book produced results that 92.9 The Game can feel good about. The radio station finished in the Top 5 with Men 25-54 in both drive time spots. John Fricke and Hugh Douglas were 5th in mornings with a 5.6. Carl Dukes and Mike Bell finished was 3rd with just under a 7 share in afternoons. Overall the station finished 4th with Men 25-54. For market competitor 680 The Fan the news was positive too. Although they don’t subscribe to Nielsen, the station’s decision to move Steak Shapiro, Brian Finneran and Sandra Golden into morning led to an increase in the ratings.

Boston:

It’s always a game of inches in the hottest sports radio market in the country. Both WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub had reason to celebrate as double digit shares were once again produced by the two exceptional sports brands. As was well laid out by Chad Finn of the Boston Globe, the ratings picture is murky because WEEI programming generates additional ratings in the market on Providence-based WVEI. The station includes those numbers in its total performance. The Sports Hub does not have an additional radio outlet in the market generating additional shares to expand its overall pie.

The Sports Hub won the full week among Men 25-54, finishing 1st with a 12.2. WEEI was second with an 8.2. That number increases to .8 if you include WVEI. In mornings, the matchup between Toucher and Rich and Kirk and Callahan was once again tight. T&R win the battle 12.4 to 11.7 if you don’t include WVEI’s numbers. If you do, K&C prevails 12.6 to 12.4. In middays, Zolak and Bertrand on The Hub were 2nd with an 11.3. WEEI’s OMF were 3rd with a 9.5 or 10.2 if you included the WVEI number. During afternoons, Felger and Massarotti dominated with a 16.6, one of the best numbers in the entire format. WEEI’s Dale and Keefe (which included Michael Holley for most of the book) came in 2nd with an 8.1 or 8.9 if you included the WVEI number. Rounding things out at night, The Hub was 1st with a 12.3 and WEEI was 4th with a 6.8. With WVEI included that position changes to a tie for 3rd and a 7 share.

According to Nielsen, the WVEI number should not be included in the overall ratings for WEEI since the advertising content on both stations is different. However, one can make the case that the audience in the metro area is tuning in to hear WEEI’s shows on the second station and that listening should count.

Regardless, it was another top of the format quarter for both stations.

Washington DC:

No Redskins? No Nationals? No problem. 106.7 The Fan continued to flourish in the winter book, making it clear that the personalities and content have become the main attraction for the local sports audience. The station finished 2nd for the full week with Men 25-54, producing just under a six and a half share. The number was two full ratings points higher than last year’s number. In weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p) The Fan was also 2nd with an 8 share. They again grew massively year over year, increasing their share by three full points.

The same story existed for the weekday shows. The Sports Junkies were 2nd in mornings just under a 9 share. The show was three and three tenths of a point higher than it was in 2017. Making it even more impressive, the Junkies finished 2nd among Persons 25-54 with just above a 5 share. Grant and Danny received the highest ranking on the station, finishing 1st with Men 25-54 with a high 9 share. Chad Dukes closed things out by placing 3rd in afternoons with just under a six and a half share.

Minneapolis:

It’s the same successful story in the Twin Cities for market leader KFAN. The iHeart sports radio staton remained dominant, delivering its 6th consecutive #1 finish M-SU 6a-Mid with Men 25-54. Leading the way were The Power Trip, who produced a massive 16 share to come in 1st in mornings. Not far behind though was afternoon host Dan Barreiro who also delivered a 1st place result courtesy of an impressive mid 15 share performance. KFAN continues to showcase itself as one of the highest rated brands in the format.

Nashville:

104.5 The Zone remained the leading sports brand in the market for the winter but 102.5 The Game has started to experience some positive gains too. The Game won weeknights for the first time in station history against The Zone. The rise of the Nashville Predators certainly has factored into that growth. One especially interesting development has been the competitive battle in afternoon drive. 3HL remained ahead delivering a 7.7 for the quarter, but Jared & The GM posted a 5.2, their best number to date. When you consider that just one year ago 3HL produced a 10.2 and The Game was at a 2.5 it’s safe to say the race has tightened.

St. Louis:

The consistency of 101 ESPN remained the story as the radio station finished the winter book in 3rd place with a high 8 share. In mornings, The Bernie Miklasz Show generated a 7.4 which was good enough for 3rd place. Middays saw Kevin Wheeler come in 2nd with an impressive 8.6, and The Turn with Anthony Stalter and Chris Duncan produce a 3rd place finish courtesy of an 8 share. The station’s highest rated program continues to be The Fast Lane, featuring Randy Karraker, Brad Thompson and Chris Rongey. The trio were 1st in afternoon drive with a remarkable 11.1.

Baltimore:

The first book under new PD Chuck Sapienza was strong for market leader 105.7 The Fan. That’s the good news. The bad news, the company will now expect Sapienza and his team to repeat those results book after book. Overall The Fan was 1st with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p at slightly above a 9 share. That was nearly a full 3 point increase year to year. The Fan was also in the Top 5 with Persons 25-54 at just under a 5 and a half share.

Charlotte:

WFNZ continues to lead the market and improve upon its past performance. For the winter book the station placed in the Top 10 with Men 25-54 with a 3.2. The station has increased its share by nearly a point and a half year to year. Earning special consideration this quarter was The Mac Attack with Chris McClain and Travis ‘T-Bone” Hancock. The entertaining duo were 6th for the winter book with a 3.6. In the month of March alone, the show tied for 5th with a 5.1, an increase of three times their March 2017 performance. Continuing with their growth story, Mac and T-Bone’s overall share for the winter book has doubled year to year.

Tampa:

NFL free agency, a Lightning playoff push and the return of Rays baseball conversation led to some nice gains for WDAE with M25-54. JP Peterson spent the March book away from his 12p-3p show with Ron Diaz, filling in for Steve Duemig, and his presence in afternoons helped the station see solid gains month to month. The station’s morning show, Ronnie & TKras, also saw nice month to month growth with half share increases in both M25-54 and M35-54.

Memphis:

It was another big quarter for 92.9 ESPN. The radio station was #1 with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p with a low 9 share. Looking at the local dayparts, Geoff Calkins was strong as usual, finishing 1st with a little above a 10 share. Jason and John were also #1 with a low 12 share. The overall performance stumbled a little during Eric Hasseltine’s show. However, the program still produced a respectable high 6 share which placed it 6th. Closing things out in afternoons, Gary Parrish was just under a 10 share which was strong enough to place the show 2nd.

Cleveland:

The big story to pass along from the winter book, The Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan proved that their prior performance atop the ratings charts was not a one-hit wonder. The talented duo remained dominant, finishing 1st with Men 25-54 with a 12 share.

Denver:

Two noteworthy items to pass along from the market’s top rated sports radio brand 104.3 The Fan. The station placed third overall with a 5.7. In afternoons, The Drive with Big Al and DMac finished 1st with a low 8 share.

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Sports Media To Launch Podcast Network

“We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July.”

Jason Barrett

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To run a successful digital content and consulting company in 2022 it’s vital to explore new ways to grow business. There are certain paths that produce a higher return on investment than others, but by being active in multiple spaces, a brand has a stronger chance of staying strong and overcoming challenges when the unexpected occurs. Case in point, the pandemic in 2020.

As much as I love programming and consulting stations to assist with growing their over the air and digital impact, I consider myself first a business owner and strategist. Some have even called me an entrepreneur, and that works too. Just don’t call me a consultant because that’s only half of what I do. I’ve spent a lot of my time building relationships, listening to content, and studying brands and markets to help folks grow their business. Included in my education has been studying website content selection, Google and social media analytics, newsletter data, the event business, and the needs of partners and how to best serve them. As the world of media continues to evolve, I consider it my responsibility to stay informed and ready to pivot whenever it’s deemed necessary. That’s how brands and individuals survive and thrive.

If you look at the world of media today compared to just a decade ago, a lot has changed. It’s no secret during that period that podcasting has enjoyed a surge. Whether you review Edison Research, Jacobs Media, Amplifi Media, Spotify or another group’s results, the story is always the same – digital audio is growing and it’s expected to continue doing so. And that isn’t just related to content. It applies to advertising too. Gordon Borrell, IAB and eMarketer all have done the research to show you where future dollars are expected to move. I still believe it’s smart, valuable and effective for advertisers to market their products on a radio station’s airwaves, but digital is a key piece of the brand buy these days, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Which brings me to today’s announcement.

If you were in New York City in March for our 2022 BSM Summit, you received a program at the show. Inside of one of the pages was a small ad (same image used atop this article) which said “Coming This Summer…The BSM Podcast Network…Stay Tuned For Details.” I had a few people ask ‘when is that happening, and what shows are you planning to create?’ and I kept the answers vague because I didn’t want to box ourselves in. I’ve spent a few months talking to people about joining us to help continue producing quality written content and improve our social media. Included in that process has been talking to members of our team and others on the outside about future opportunities creating podcasts for the Barrett Sports Media brand.

After examining the pluses and minuses, and listening and talking to a number of people, I’m excited to share that we are launching the BSM Podcast Network. We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July. Demetri Ravanos will provide oversight of content execution, and assist with production and guest booking needs for selected pods. This is why we’ve been frequently promoting Editor and Social Media jobs with the brand. It’s hard to pursue new opportunities if you don’t have the right support.

The titles that will make up our initial offerings are each different in terms of content, host and presentation. First, we have Media Noise with Demetri Ravanos, which has produced over 75 episodes over the past year and a half. That show will continue in its current form, being released each Friday. Next will be the arrival of The Sports Talkers Podcast with Stephen Strom which will debut on Thursday June 23rd, the day of the NBA Draft. After that, The Producer’s Podcast with Brady Farkas will premiere on Wednesday June 29th. Then as we move into July, two more titles will be added, starting with a new sales focused podcast Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves. The final title to be added to the rotation will be The Jason Barrett Podcast which yours truly will host. The goal is to have five weekly programs distributed through our website and across all podcasting platforms by mid to late July.

I am excited about the creation of each of these podcasts but this won’t be the last of what we do. We’re already working on additional titles for late summer or early fall to ramp up our production to ten weekly shows. Once a few ideas and discussions get flushed out, I’ll have more news to share with you. I may consider adding even more to the mix too at some point. If you have an idea that you think would resonate with media professionals and aspiring broadcasters, email me by clicking here.

One thing I want to point out, this network will focuses exclusively on various areas of the sports media industry. We’ll leave mainstream sports conversations to the rest of the media universe. That’s not a space I’m interested in pursuing. We’ve focused on a niche since arriving on the scene in 2015 and have no plans to waver from it now.

Additionally, you may have noticed that we now refer to our company as ‘Barrett Media’. That’s because we are now involved in both sports and news media. That said, we are branding this as the BSM Podcast Network because the titles and content are sports media related. Maybe there will be a day when we introduce a BNM version of this, but right now, we’ve got to make sure the first one works right before exploring new territory.

Our commitment to delivering original industry news, features and opinions in print form remains unchanged. This is simply an opportunity to grow in an area where we’ve been less active. I know education for industry folks and those interested in entering the business is important. It’s why young people all across the country absorb mountains of debt to receive a college education. As valuable as those campus experiences might be, it’s a different world once you enter the broadcasting business.

What I’d like to remind folks is that we continue to make investments in the way we cover, consult, and discuss the media industry because others invest in us. It’d be easy to stockpile funds and enjoy a few more vacations but I’m not worried about personal wealth. I’m focused on building a brand that does meaningful work by benefitting those who earn a living in the media industry or are interested in one day doing so. As part of that process I’m trying to connect our audience to partners who provide products, services or programs that can benefit them.

Since starting this brand, we’ve written more than 18,000 articles. We now cover two formats and produce more than twenty five pieces of content per day. The opportunity to play a small role in keeping media members and future broadcasters informed is rewarding but we could not pay people to edit, write, and host podcasts here if others didn’t support us. For that I’m extremely grateful to those who do business with us either as a consulting client, website advertiser, Summit partner or through a monthly or annual membership. The only way to get better is to learn from others, and if our access to information, knowledge, relationships and professional opinions helps others and their brands, then that makes what we do worthwhile.

Thanks as always for the continued support. We appreciate that you read our content each day, and hope to be able to earn some of your listenership in the future too.

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5 Mistakes To Avoid When Pursuing Media Jobs

“Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.”

Jason Barrett

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I recently appeared on a podcast, Monetize Media, to discuss the growth of Barrett Media. The conversation covered a lot of ground on business topics including finding your niche, knowing your audience and serving them the right content in the right locations, the evolution of the BSM Summit, and why consulting is a big part of our mix but can’t be the only thing we do.

Having spent nearly seven years growing this brand, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just know what’s worked for us, and it starts with vision, hard work, consistency, and a willingness to adapt quickly. There are many areas we can be better in whether it’s social media, editing, SEO, sales, finding news, producing creative original content or adding more staff. Though there’s always work to be done and challenges to overcome, when you’re doing something you love and you’re motivated to wake up each day doing it, that to me is success.

But lately there’s one part of the job that I haven’t enjoyed – the hiring process. Fortunately in going through it, I was able to get to know Arky Shea. He’s a good guy, talented writer, and fan of the industry, and I’m thrilled to share that he’s joining us as BSM’s new night time editor. I’ll have a few other announcements to make later this month, but in the meantime, if you’re qualified to be an editor or social media manager, I’m still going through the process to add those two positions to our brand. You can learn more about both jobs by clicking here.

Working for an independent digital brand like ours is different from working for a corporation. You communicate directly with yours truly, and you work remotely on a personal computer, relying on your eyes, ears and the radio, television, and internet to find content. Because our work appears online, you have to enjoy writing, and understand and have a passion for the media industry, the brands who produce daily content, and the people who bring those brands to life. We receive a lot of interest from folks who see the words ‘sports’ and ‘news’ in our brand names and assume they’re going to cover games or political beats. They quickly discover that that’s not what we do nor are we interested in doing it.

If you follow us on social media, have visited our website or receive our newsletters, you’ve likely seen us promoting openings with the brand. I’ve even bought ads on Indeed, and been lucky enough to have a few industry folks share the posts on social. We’re in a good place and trying to make our product better, so to do that, we need more help. But over the past two months, Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.

Receiving applications from folks who don’t have a firm grasp of what we do is fine. That happens everywhere. Most of the time we weed those out. It’s no different than when a PD gets an application for a top 5 market hosting gig from a retail employee who’s never spoken on a microphone. The likelihood of that person being the right fit for a role without any experience of how to do the job is very slim. What’s been puzzling though is seeing how many folks reach out to express interest in opportunities, only to discover they’re not prepared, not informed or not even interested in the role they’ve applied for.

For instance, one applicant told me on a call ‘I’m not interested in your job but I knew getting you on the phone would be hard, and I figured this would help me introduce myself because I know I’m a great host, and I’d like you to put me on the radar with programmers for future jobs.’ I had another send a cover letter that was addressed to a different company and person, and a few more applied for FT work only to share that they can’t work FT, weren’t interested in the work that was described in the position, didn’t know anything about our brand but needed a gig, were looking for a confidence boost after losing a job or they didn’t have a computer and place to operate.

At first I thought this might be an exclusive issue only we were dealing with. After all, our brand and the work we do is different from what happens inside of a radio or TV station. In some cases, folks may have meant well and intended something differently than what came out. But after talking to a few programmers about some of these things during the past few weeks, I’ve been stunned to hear how many similar horror stories exist. One top programmer told me hiring now is much harder than it was just five years ago.

I was told stories of folks applying for a producer role at a station and declining an offer unless the PD added air time to the position. One person told a hiring manager they couldn’t afford not to hire them because their ratings were tanking. One PD was threatened for not hiring an interested candidate, and another received a resume intended for the competing radio station and boss. I even saw one social example last week of a guy telling a PD to call him because his brand was thin on supporting talent.

Those examples I just shared are bad ideas if you’re looking to work for someone who manages a respected brand. I realize everyone is different, and what clicks with one hiring manager may not with another, but if you have the skills to do a job, I think you’ll put yourself in a better position by avoiding these 5 mistakes below. If you’re looking for other ways to enhance your chances of landing an opportunity, I recommend you click here.

Educate Yourself Before Applying – take some time to read the job description, and make sure it aligns with your skillset and what you’re looking to do professionally before you apply. Review the company’s body of work and the people who work there. Do you think this is a place you’d enjoy being at? Does it look like a job that you’d gain personal and professional fulfillment from? Are you capable of satisfying the job requirements? Could it potentially put you on the path to greater opportunities? If most of those produce a yes, it’s likely a situation to consider.

Proofread Your Email or Cover Letter and Resume – If the first impression you give a hiring manager is that you can’t spell properly, and you address them and their brand by the wrong names, you’re telling them to expect more mistakes if they hire you. Being detail oriented is important in the media business. If this is your introduction to someone and they have a job you’re interested in, you owe it to yourself to go through your materials thoroughly before you press send. If you can have someone else put an extra set of eyes on your introduction to protect you from committing a major blunder even better.

Don’t Waste People’s Time – You’d be annoyed if a company put you through a 3-4 week process only to tell you they didn’t see you as a viable candidate right? Well, it works the other way too. If you’re not seriously interested in the job or you’re going into the process hoping to change the job description later, don’t apply. If the fit isn’t right or the financials don’t work, that’s OK. Express that. People appreciate transparency. Sometimes they may even call you back in the future when other openings become available. But if you think someone is going to help you after you wasted their time or lied to them, trust me, they won’t.

Don’t Talk Like An Expert About Things You Don’t Know – Do you know why a station’s ratings or revenue is down? Are you aware of the company’s goals and if folks on the inside are satisfied or upset? Is the hiring manager someone you know well enough to have a candid professional conversation with? If the answers are no, you’re not helping your case by talking about things you don’t have full knowledge of. You have no idea how the manager you’re talking to has been dealing with the challenges he or she is faced with so don’t pretend you do. Just because someone wrote an article about it and you read it doesn’t mean you’re informed.

Use Social Wisely – Being frustrated that you didn’t get a job is fine. Everyone goes through it. Asking your friends and followers for advice on social of how you could’ve made a better case for yourself is good. That shows you’re trying to learn from the process to be better at it next time. But taking to social to write a book report blasting the hiring manager, their brand, and/or their company over a move that didn’t benefit you just tells them they made the right move by not bringing you in. Chances are, they won’t be calling you in the future either.

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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

Jason Barrett

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How many times have you heard this sentence uttered at conferences or in one of the trades; radio has to do a better job of telling its story. Sounds reasonable enough right? After all, your brands and companies stand a better chance of being more consumed and invested in the more that others know about them.

But what specifically about your brand’s story matters to those listening or spending money on it? Which outlets are you supposed to share that news with to grow your listenership and advertising? And who is telling the story? Is it someone who works for your company and has a motive to advance a professional agenda, or someone who’s independent and may point out a few holes in your strategy, execution, and results?

As professionals working in the media business, we’re supposed to be experts in the field of communications. But are we? We’re good at relaying news when it makes us look good or highlights a competitor coming up short. How do we respond though when the story isn’t told the we want it to? Better yet, how many times do sports/news talk brands relay information that isn’t tied to quarterly ratings, revenue or a new contract being signed? We like to celebrate the numbers that matter to us and our teams, but we don’t spend much time thinking about if those numbers matter to the right groups – the audience and the advertisers.

Having covered the sports and news media business for the past seven years, and published nearly eighteen thousand pieces of content, you’d be stunned if you saw how many nuggets of information get sent to us from industry folks looking for publicity vs. having to chase people down for details or read things on social media or listen to or watch shows to promote relevant material. Spoiler alert, most of what we produce comes from digging. There are a handful of outlets and PR folks who are great, and five or six PD’s who do an excellent job consistently promoting news or cool things associated with their brands and people. Some talent are good too at sharing content or tips that our website may have an interest in.

Whether I give the green light to publish the material or not, I appreciate that folks look for ways to keep their brands and shows on everyone’s radar. Brand leaders and marketing directors should be battling daily in my opinion for recognition anywhere and everywhere it’s available. If nobody is talking about your brand then you have to give them a reason to.

I’m writing this column today because I just spent a day in New York City at the Disney Upfront, which was attended by a few thousand advertising professionals. Though I’d have preferred a greater focus on ESPN than what was offered, I understand that a company the size of Disney with so many rich content offerings is going to have to condense things or they’d literally need a full week of Upfronts to cover it all. They’re also trying to reach buyers and advertising professionals who have interests in more than just sports.

What stood out to me while I was in attendance was how much detail went into putting on a show to inform, entertain, and engage advertising professionals. Disney understands the value of telling its story to the right crowd, and they rolled out the heavy hitters for it. There was a strong mix of stars, executives, promotion of upcoming shows, breaking news about network deals, access to the people responsible for bringing advertising to life, and of course, free drinks. It was easy for everyone in the room to gain an understanding of the company’s culture, vision, success, and plans to capture more market share.

As I sat in my seat, I wondered ‘why doesn’t radio do this on a local level‘? I’m not talking about entertaining clients in a suite, having a business dinner for a small group of clients or inviting business owners and agency reps to the office for a rollout of forthcoming plans. I’m talking about creating an annual event that showcases the power of a cluster, the stars who are connected to the company’s various brands, unveiling new shows, promotions and deals, and using the event as a driver to attract more business.

Too often I see our industry rely on things that have worked in the past. We assume that if it worked before there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for the client. Sometimes that’s even true. Maybe the advertiser likes to keep things simple and communicate by phone, email or in-person lunch meetings. Maybe a creative powerpoint presentation is all you need to get them to say yes. If it’s working and you feel that’s the best way forward to close business, continue with that approach. There’s more than one way to reach the finish line.

But I believe that most people like being exposed to fresh ideas, and given a peak behind the curtain. The word ‘new’ excites people. Why do you think Apple introduces a new iPhone each year or two. We lose sight sometimes of how important our brands and people are to those not inside the walls of our offices. We forget that whether a client spends ten thousand or ten million dollars per year with our company, they still like to be entertained. When you allow business people to feel the excitement associated with your brand’s upcoming events, see the presentations on a screen, and hear from and interact with the stars involved in it, you make them feel more special. I think you stand a better chance of closing deals and building stronger relationships that way.

Given that many local clusters have relationships with hotels, theaters, teams, restaurants, etc. there’s no reason you can’t find a central location, and put together an advertiser appreciation day that makes partners feel valued. You don’t have to rent out Pier 36 like Disney or secure the field at a baseball stadium to make a strong impression. We show listeners they’re valued regularly by giving away tickets, cash, fan appreciation parties, etc. and guess what, it works! Yes there are expenses involved putting on events, and no manager wants to hear about spending money without feeling confident they’ll generate a return on investment. That said, taking calculated risks is essential to growing a business. Every day that goes by where you operate with a ‘relying on the past’ mindset, and refuse to invest in growth opportunities, is one that leaves open the door for others to make sure your future is less promising.

There are likely a few examples of groups doing a smaller scaled version of what I’m suggesting. If you’re doing this already, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up through email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. By and large though, I don’t see a lot of must-see, must-discuss events like this created that lead to a surplus of press, increased relationships, and most importantly, increased sales. Yet it can be done. Judging from some of the feedback I received yesterday talking to people in the room, it makes an impression, and it matters.

I don’t claim to know how many ad agency executives and buyers returned to the office from the Disney Upfront and reached out to sign new advertising deals with the company. What I am confident in is that Disney wouldn’t invest resources in creating this event nor would other national groups like NBC, FOX, CBS, WarnerMedia, etc. if they didn’t feel it was beneficial to their business. Rather than relying on ratings and revenue stories that serve our own interests, maybe we’d help ourselves more by allowing our partners and potential clients to experience what makes our brands special. It works with our listeners, and can work with advertisers too.

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