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How Not To Land a Job in Sports Radio

Jason Barrett

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It’s happening right now. In fact, it happens every day. But nobody is there to stop you from hitting the send button before damage is done.

In some US city every day, a radio professional or aspiring broadcaster flocks to the internet searching for their dream job or next career opportunity. They’ll browse listings on Indeed, All Access, BSM or the careers sections on various radio company corporate sites, and once they see something that captures their interest, they begin their pursuit. They’ll spellcheck their resume, look for the contact person involved with the station, if pursuing an on-air role include a sample of their hosting style, and write an introduction note they hope will help them stand out from the rest.

Once they’ve produced their email, double checked it, and attached their materials, they press send. They then anxiously await a response, hoping it will open the door to further conversations about filling the opening. If after a few days an email or phone call hasn’t been received, they might follow up with a second note, or in some cases, even pick up the phone to call. It doesn’t matter if the instructions said not to, the lack of response calls for a new plan of attack because no way is it possible that they didn’t fit what the hiring executive was searching for.

In each situation, the hiring manager has different tastes and rules. Some want an hour worth of unedited material, some want less than 5 minutes. Some will say not to call, others don’t mind if you pick up the phone to initiate a chat. Competition for these openings is intense, and those who possess the skills to fill the position, while clicking best with the hiring manager stand the best chance of getting the call.

What you don’t know entering the process is whether or not you’re going to check the boxes of the hiring manager. You have no idea who else is competing for the opening, and whether the position is a real call for help or a mandatory requirement from HR even though the job has already been promised to an internal candidate. Regardless, it’s important to make a favorable impression because it could lead to a future opportunity either with the station you’ve applied to work at or for someone else in the industry who has a need at a later time.

Speaking for myself, I rarely relied on HR to help fill an opening. I always worked ahead and listened, met, observed, and asked industry folks about certain people who may or may not be worth consideration should I one day have a vacancy. My philosophy was ‘if you want the best talent, you go out and find them, not wait for them to appear in your inbox’.

During my hiring experiences as a programmer, I saw a lot of bad decisions made by job seekers. My awareness for these situations has increased even more during the past three years while running BSM. Sports radio may be a big business but it has a small community feel. If you make a bad impression on one executive, it could affect your standing with others. Stand out in a positive way and you may be recommended to someone else when they have a future need.

I was having a discussion recently with an industry friend about some of the blunders people make when openings come up, and I thought I’d pass along eight examples of bad ideas to help you avoid putting yourself in a situation where you’re frozen out in the future.

  • It’s never a good idea to tell a programmer that they’ll be the dumbest f**k on the planet if they pass over your resume. I don’t care how good you are, most people aren’t going to want to bring someone into their operation who they consider to be a dick before they even have a conversation. You can have an ego, and believe you’re better than anyone else who speaks into a microphone, but if you can’t work with others, it’s going to be hard to convince people to trust you with an important role.
  • Suggesting a programmer ‘can’t live without you’ and should pony up whatever it takes to get you probably won’t help you land the role you desire either. A good programmer wants talented people on their airwaves, and they’ll battle for their people to earn a healthy wage, but they won’t fight for someone who doesn’t respect and value them too. An old quote I used to love sharing was ‘graveyards are full of irreplaceable men.’ Secondly, if you come across the wrong programmer, they’ll take your arrogance as a challenge to prove they can do it without you, and more times than not, they will. As a former host who learned from a poor initial approach once said to me, ‘even Michael Jordan needed Phil Jackson’. If you produce like MJ, Phil will find a way to make sure you get what you need. You’ll also discover you’re better off together than apart.
  • Applying for a job you don’t want just to get yourself in the door doesn’t often end well. If you’re a host with no desire to produce but apply for a producer opening, eventually it’s going to become a problem for the PD and Host you’re working with. That leads to people not being in your corner to push your development. Eventually you’ll exit the station once the issues reach the point of no return. It’s better to be up front about your short-term and long-term goals, and tackle the opportunity in front of you while making it clear you have other things you’d like to accomplish professionally. Most broadcast executives will give you chances to grow if you’re determined and have skill, but they won’t champion your cause if you don’t execute the role you were initially hired to do.
  • Copying a programmer’s CEO, corporate executive, and market manager on the email you sent in expressing interest in an opening creates immediate tension. Would you give 110% support to someone who was forced on you? Do you think a programmer who’s trusted to lead a brand is going to go with the flow and take a deeper liking to you when the perception is you’re trying to override them before even establishing contact? Most corporate people give their PD’s the ability to make hiring decisions in tandem with their market manager. If the room is divided on you, you’re usually going to be voted out.
  • Pretending to know the ins and outs of a company based on media reports is another foolish idea. For example, if you applied to work for a company which just underwent layoffs, it’s not a wise move to say something like ‘I’m glad you survived the cut….your company clearly recognizes talent and made a wise move dumping the others.’ Do you know if the individual you’ve applied with is thrilled to remain on the job? What if their best friend was let go? Better yet, what credibility have you gained with the hiring manager to earn that conversation? Unless you’ve worked there and have firsthand knowledge of the inner workings, and a relationship with the individual you’re communicating with, it’s better to avoid that discussion before sticking your foot in your mouth.
  • Be real, not a phony. For example, if you’re from Texas, and applying for a job in Philadelphia, don’t put in your introductory email how much you love cheese steaks, Rocky Balboa and the Eagles since the days of Reggie White, especially if you’ve never set foot in the city. Nothing is worse than the applicant who pretends to know local landmarks, sports history, and a city’s way of life based on reading Wikipedia and stuff they’ve seen on TV or social media. It’s the same crap when the east coast guy applies for a gig on the west coast or the west coast guy reaches out for the east coast opening claiming they’re in the wrong location and better suited for that particular market’s style. In some cases, candidates have applied to multiple markets, modifying their letters for each city, and PD’s have chatted and discovered it. Guess what that does? It guarantees not landing either opening.
  • Admitting to someone in a cover letter that you were an internal problem for your previous employer or you didn’t work hard at your last job is going to raise an immediate red flag to anyone reading your note. You may think you’re being honest and trying to get out in front of any blemishes on your resume but some stuff is better left to face to face conversation. If you’re putting those type of remarks in an email and the hiring manager is looking at 100 people for one opening, why would they hold on to yours versus the others with less baggage? It’s OK to go thru the interview process and admit you’ve made mistakes and want to learn from them, giving an employer an opportunity to reap the rewards for giving you a chance. But save it for later in the process. Telling someone you don’t know that you gave less than your best or created an issue that resulted in problems inside of an office isn’t likely to earn you a call.
  • Conduct yourself on social media in a way that doesn’t make a hiring manager think twice about hiring you. If you approach the space the way you do the airwaves, you’ll have less to worry about. If though this is where you bombard folks with your political views, instigate fights with trolls, share content that is offensive, and swear like a sailor, it may make someone who’s a fan of your work think twice. They have to consider how your social identity is going to affect listeners, advertisers, and fellow employees. If they feel there are too many risks, they’ll choose a safer path. The other thing I’d recommend not doing, buying followers. If you’re an aspiring host or producer with limited experience carrying 50,000 followers, it doesn’t take much work to scroll thru your posts and see what type of engagement you create. If nobody ever responds, chances are you don’t produce impact, just a false image.
  • BONUS: As a consultant who works with brands and PD’s, it’s smart to introduce yourself, provide audio, share your goals, and develop a relationship. If you only reach out when jobs are listed, it doesn’t keep you top of mind when gigs aren’t publicly displayed. Furthermore, if the only time you initiate contact is when something is posted, that’s a case of asking for a favor, not building a relationship. Why would a consultant do you a favor if they have no history with you?
  • BONUS #2: Its also important to remember, a consultant’s job is to help the station and hiring manager strengthen their department to have the best chance at future success. We direct people to folks who we feel fit what they’ve told us they’re looking for. If you don’t get a gig, it isn’t personal, nor is it because we’re determined to make sure you never work in the industry. On the other hand, blaming the consultant for your inability to find work is a convenient way of ignoring the truth that you may be doing a few things to make yourself unattractive to hiring managers.

If you possess talent, a good work ethic, conduct yourself in a professional manner, have solid industry references, and bring something to the table that’s unique, compelling, and entertaining, chances are you’ll earn a chance to discuss an opportunity. Then it comes down to whether or not you and the hiring manager connect, and if you and the brand mutually benefit one another. It’s easy for broadcasters to get blinded by the opportunity, and look past whether or not a situation is right for them. So much of developing a prosperous career comes down to both sides being fully invested in one another, which is why it’s OK if certain things don’t work out sometimes.

I’m sure if I scoured the nation and asked more folks in programming departments, I’d find plenty of other bad approaches. The goal of this piece though is to arm you with information to avoid making mistakes so you don’t become that example the next program director refers to when explaining how not to pursue a job. Instead, use it to your benefit to make sure you place yourself in a good position to land a great opportunity that helps both you and your next employer.

Good luck!

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

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When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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