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BSM’s 2019 Sports TV Draft: The Top 30 Shows of All-Time

“30 sports media writers, former TV execs, and social media personalities helped draft the Top 30 sports TV shows of all-time”

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Benjamin Franklin once said there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. I’d like to modify that quote by adding a third – a fascination with lists.

Since launching BSM, we’ve written thousands of pieces on personalities, news, strategy, ratings, and career advice. They’ve been well received, but pale in comparison to anything we’ve created involving lists. For four years straight our number one most read piece of content has been the BSM Top 20 in Sports Radio. The annual BSM Sports Radio Draft has also received strong support.

As proud as we are of those sports radio content specials and their ability to fuel discussion among sports media types, the amount of creative projects we’ve built around sports television has left much to be desired. So with an NBA Draft on the horizon, we began tossing ideas at the wall last month, and came up with an outline for a Sports TV Draft.

Since the NBA Draft features 30 picks per round, we thought it made sense to select the Top 30 shows of all-time. We focused on studio/live/produced shows because sitcoms, reality shows, and documentaries are different type of programs. We then created a document with 65 programs to choose from, figuring that some folks would likely want to add to it.

Next we had to decide who to include in the voting process. I thought it’d be fun to involve the nation’s top sports media writers and critics, media researchers, former TV executives, bloggers, and a few popular social media accounts, but wasn’t sure if we’d be able to drum up enough support to pull it off. To my surprise, most of the people I asked jumped in.

And that brings us to the actual draft.

Below you will see an image featuring our list of the Top 30 Sports TV Shows of All-Time as decided on by our voters. Underneath that image you’ll find a detailed explanation from each voter on what they liked about the show they selected. If you want to learn more about the shows, our voters or the companies they work for, we’ve made it easy for you. All you have to do is click the show name, company name or individual’s name and a new page will open up.

I want to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who participated in this project. Although lists are very subjective and determined by the order in which people select, this was fun to assemble, and we hope you enjoy reading it. With that in mind, here are the results of the 2019 BSM Sports TV Draft.

#1 – SportsCenterGerry Matalon, Matalon Media

For the sports fan, SportsCenter was the equivalent of the advent of the internet. The fan had access to information and video like never before. It was THE must-watch studio show of generation X, and a sports fan’s dream come true. 

NEVER before were fans able to get all the highlights, significant national news, analysis and discussion in an engaging manner, multiple times a day from hosts who would become icons in their own right. Every on-screen sports program since September of 1979 is a branch on the SportsCenter tree. Though the show might not have the significance it once had, SportsCenter has often been replicated, though never duplicated.

#2 – FOX NFL SundayPatrick Crakes, Crakes Media

FOX NFL Sunday showed America that FOX would keep its promise – to present the NFL in a modern, fun, but reverent way. Under David Hill, Ed Goren and Scott Ackerson’s vision and guidance the credibility, chemistry and flow of the show opened a new era in live sports commentary and became the flagship of the FOX Sports Brand.  The show was a paradigm shift operating on the assumption that most viewers were looking for something more than just information as they gathered to watch NFL games on Sunday. 

The amazing collection of unique personalities at the desk added something unique for mainstream NFL fans thirsty for a show that could “sugarcoat the information pill” with a modern sensibility.  JB, Terry, Howie and Jimmy were the “Guys you wanted to have a beer with at the bar and watch a game” and America embraced them. It was the beginning of a new era – one that saw FOX evolve on the back of FOX NFL Sunday into one the most important sports media brands in the world. Impressively, FOX NFL Sunday  remains as relevant, entertaining and fun today as it was in 1994, and it’s endurance, legacy and continued impact make the case for its place as one of the important live studio shows in sports TV history.

#3 – Pardon The InterruptionTim Scanlan, Octagon Sports

PTI revolutionized the sports studio program with the Topic Sidebar, the running clock, the simple props, and the PA announcer with corrections. The personalities of Tony and Michael were non-traditional and irreverent and the program looked ahead as much as it reacted to stories in sports.

#4 – Inside The NBAAndrew Marchand, New York Post

The show featuring probably the greatest studio analyst of all-time, Charles Barkley, at 4? Thank you very much. I considered ESPN’s College GameDay and, at its peak, NFL Primetime, with this pick, but Inside The NBA is so enjoyable for the basketball and non-basketball fan.

#5 – College GamedayRichard Deitsch, The Athletic

I’ve written many times over the years that I consider Inside The NBA the greatest sports studio show in history. If I had the No. 1 overall pick for this draft, it would have been an easy selection. But I am delighted to see that College GameDay remains on the board. This whole exercise is subjective but GameDay slots right behind Inside for me among all-time sports studio shows.

College football is best experienced in person, and GameDay has brought that experience into our homes for decades. As someone who lived for many years in New York City, GameDay allowed me to experience what it was like to be part of LSU football in Baton Rouge, Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and other places that were foreign yet fascinating to me. The on-air talent has always had intellect and chemistry; the show’s feature producers are the best in class. GameDay was also early among mainstream sports shows to highlight sports gambling info and has maintained a journalistic bent. It’s one of the best enterprises ESPN has done and I feel like I just got one of the steals of this draft. 

#6 – NFL PrimetimeChad Finn, Boston Globe

I thought about picking a relic of a wholly different age in sports television here, but choosing This Week In Baseball would have been an overdraft based on nostalgia. So instead I made a sentimental pick with more recent relevance.

From 1987 to 2005, Chris Berman and Tom Jackson made ESPN’s NFL Primetime an entertaining and, in a time before our phones gave us every highlight in real time, a practically essential way to see every meaningful nightlight from the day’s NFL action. Primetime was marginalized when NBC got the Sunday night package in 2006. But it won’t be forgotten. 

#7 – NFL RedZoneRyan Glasspiegel, The Big Lead

It’s almost unfair to pick this considering it encompasses live events, but the eight greatest words in the English language are when Scott Hanson says, “Seven hours of commercial-free football begin now.” Imagine reverting back to a world without it. If they ever try to put the genie back in that bottle, there will be torches and pitchforks in the streets.

#8 – Speak For YourselfMichael McCarthy, Front Office Sports

“Speak for Yourself” with Jason Whitlock and Marcellus Wiley is my choice at #8. They’re both ex-football players, and have some of the best, if not the best, NFL debates in the business with a constant stream of current and former players weighing in. Among the show’s most interesting guests in my opinion are James Harrison, Terry Bradshaw and Michael Vick.

#9 – The SportsWriters on TVNeil Best, Newsday

Long before it was commonplace for sportswriters to kibitz on camera, this groundbreaking syndicated show out of Chicago was a revelation in the mid-1980s, and begat several decades worth of copycats that have filled endless hours of cable TV time. Unlike their polished, better-dressed modern counterparts – who work on polished, better-appointed sets – these guys were rumpled, cigar-smoking throwbacks, offering among the first takes of countless ones to come.

#10 – REAL SportsBen Koo, Awful Announcing

I’m very happy with my selection of HBO Real Sports at #10. The standard bearer in sports journalism is closing in on 25 years of distinguished and culturally relevant work. Correspondents have come and gone and the show has undergone a few changes over the years but the quality and significance of their work continues to be must watch television for intellectually curious and thoughtful sports fans.

I haven’t missed an episode in more than a decade as the quality has never wavered nor has my interest in expanding my knowledge as a sports fan. Sure it often veers into serious and uncomfortable topics and controversy, but Real Sports has always had a  rich and eclectic mix of topics, personalities, and stories which has always been appointment viewing for me every month. I’m delighted to use my pick on a show as impactful and unique as Real Sports. 

#11 – Outside The LinesAustin Karp, Sports Business Daily

Among the smartest sports programming on TV. It doesn’t matter whether Bob Ley or Jeremy Schaap or Kate Fagan hosts. The topics are timely, and the show has stood the test of time.

#12 – Around The HornRobert Seidman, SportsTV Ratings

After SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and PTI it’s the longest-running daily show. As PTI’s lead-in it has consistently been one of ESPN’s best-performing studio shows.  It’s also been a great vehicle for ESPN to showcase new talent from Michael Smith & Jemele Hill, Mina Kimes, Sarah Spain, and Ramona Shelburne to Bomani Jones & Pablo Torre. As far as I know it’s also the only sports studio show ever parodied on NBC’s “30 Rock” — I tip my hat to Aaron Solomon, Tony Reali & everyone involved with the show.

#13 – Wide World of SportsDavid Barron, Houston Chronicle

I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the significance of what this show delivered during an era of black and white cathode ray tube TVs, 6 a.m. to midnight telecast schedules and filmed highlights that had to be delivered by airplanes rather than by satellite. It was like having an Olympics every Saturday, and it set the standard and the expectations for generations of broadcasters and viewers.

#14 – Garbage TimeWill Leitch, New York Magazine

My pick was between “Garbage Time” and “The Dan Patrick Show” — either is a steal with the 14th selection. It is EXTREMELY rare in the relentlessly repetitive, failing-up world of sports television to find an actual new, unique voice. Katie Nolan was (and is) different than everyone else working in sports TV, something that was obvious from her very first show. Plus, it’s impossible not to admire any show this good that was essentially filmed in a closet.

#15 – Baseball TonightFred Segal, Freezing Cold Takes

As with NFL Primetime, Baseball Tonight used to be an absolute must watch for me. Much like many other highlight-centric shows it has lost significant value nowadays as highlights and updates are instantly available on social media. However, back when I was growing up in the 90s, it was absolutely an essential watch for any baseball junkie.

Most of the time, watching the show was my first exposure to any of the highlights from the day’s games. The show also holds personal sentimental value for me as I used to watch it every night with my dad as he would track his fantasy baseball players. We used to sing the lead in song together, which in my opinion, is as iconic as the SportsCenter lead in song 🎵 Da…Da Da Da…Da DA 🎵.

#16 – TMZ SportsRobert Littal, Black Sports Online

The fact of the matter in 2019 is that people care more about the drama and viral news than what is going on, on the court or on the field. While many shows try to sprinkle in TMZish type of stuff, only TMZ does it full time.

#17 – The NFL TodayBrooks Melchior, Sports By Brooks

The NFL Today is arguably the most important studio show in sports television history. “In 1975 it introduced Americans to one of the most influential TV sports personalities in history, Brent Musburger. It was the first network studio show in history to include a woman, Phyllis George, an African-American, Irv Cross, and a professional handicapper, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, as fulltime on-air contributors.

It also played an early, pivotal role in popularizing the format which all NFL studio shows use today. In lieu of the NFL’s now-ubiquitous presence in the daily lives of Americans, it isn’t too much to say that the debut of The NFL Today with Musburger, George, Cross and Snyder represents a seminal moment in television history.

#18 – High NoonPaulsen, Sports Media Watch

While it’s too early to call it one of the best sports TV shows of all-time, I’ll still go with High Noon here. Sports talk is dominated by fake debates and overheated opinions, but High Noon is an exception. Nothing seems staged or done for the sake of clicks and pageviews. Plus Jones and Torre have excellent chemistry.

#19 – The George Michael Sports MachineArash Markazi, Los Angeles Times

Before every household in America had cable or satellite and you could see every sports highlight within seconds of it happening live on your phone, tablet or computer, there was only one way for someone like me, without cable, to see sports highlights every Sunday and that was on The George Michael Sports Machine. I recorded it every week on our VCR and I’d watch it again and again throughout the week. It was a show ahead of its time and the first sports show I religiously watched as a young sports fan.

#20 – Stump The SchwabBen Strauss, Washington Post

The fact that ESPN was, at a certain point in time, willing to build a show around a chubby career researcher is all you need to know about why this show deserves a spot on this list. And even if Schwab never quite carried the show, his array of throwback jerseys and Stuart Scott’s attempts to inject energy and cachet into what today would be considered a live action version of Sporcle is forever endearing.

#21 – E60 – Andrew Bucholtz, Awful Announcing

Since its 2007 launchE:60 has been one of ESPN’s more impressive commitments to journalism and storytelling. The news-magazine show has had a number of timeslot and network moves, including the 2017 shift to its current Sunday morning slot, but its pieces have always managed to make an impact. The show has won 16 Sports Emmys, including “Outstanding Sports News/Feature Anthology” and “Outstanding Short Sports Documentary” (for “Identity : Deland McCullough’s Journey,” which is a very worthy winner) this year, plus nine Edward R. Murrow Awards, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and much more.

E:60 has also shown a great ability to tell all sorts of stories, from pieces on kids facing incredible challenges (Josiah VieraOwen Hawkins) to deep investigations of deaths of migrant workers building World Cup stadiums in Qatar. It continues to be one of the best things ESPN does.

#22 – NFL MatchupJason Romano, Sports Spectrum

This was the show where I truly learned something new about the game of football in a way that no other show could provide. The downfall was that ESPN never gave it a great timeslot but man if you watched it, you walked away more knowledgeable about the NFL than you were 30 minutes earlier. The way they broke down film and showed you the intricacies of the game was always unique and special. Ron Jaworski, Merril Hoge and Sal Palantonio were fantastic.

#23 – Mike and the Mad DogDouglas Pucci, Programming Insider

“Aaaaaaaaand good afternoon everybody! How are you today!” yelled the Mad Dog. It’s the New York radio show that kicked off the sports talk genre in our country starting in the 90’s. It was the show I grew up listening to on WFAN as they discussed the legendary sports moments of the 90’s and 00’s like the Yankees world championship runs (especially the memorable Freeway of Love 1996 playoff run), the Rangers in ‘94, the Knicks playoff runs in the 90’s and Chris’ hilarious rants against the SF Giants.

Mike and the Mad Dog were also there for the big events of our world like the OJ trial and verdict and 9/11. Each host has succeeded in their own separate ventures – Mike still popular in the afternoon in NY radio, Chris on SiriusXM and MLB Network – but there was special magic when the two joined together to talk sports in front of the YES Network cameras.

#24 – Up CloseTom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Times

I figured Roy Firestone’s “Up Close” would be long gone before my 24th pick so I was pleasantly surprised to find it still available. My Plan B was to snag the Jim Rome franchise of shows – from “Talk2” in the early 90’s all the way to “The Jim Rome Show” today, spanning ESPN2, ESPN, Fox Sports, ESPN again, CBS Sports Net and a stop in there on Showtime.

Some quick history: “SportsLook” is the original title of the show that started in 1980 on the USA Network, then moved to ESPN as “Up Close,” with Firestone, a former sportscaster at the local CBS affiliate in L.A., as the host for 13 years. It was taped in L.A. so he had access to everyone coming and going. It was a simple premise: Firestone sits on the right, the guest is on the left, and they talk about all sorts of things about their sporting life. It relied on Firestone’s curiosity and research and what buttons to push.

Many tried to replicate the template to other shows with other hosts – there’s maybe no Bob Costas’ “On the Record” or even a version Rome was asked to launch with ESPN2 in the early 90’s. It all connects to the importance of Firestone creating a trustworthy space to show emotions – important especially with strong male athletes – knowing Firestone would calmly talk you through it and expose a side of yourself that wasn’t readily available in pre-social media times.

#25 – This Week in BaseballRob Tornoe, Philadelphia Inquirer

Growing up, I kept to a pretty strict schedule on Saturday mornings: eat a bowl of Rice Chex, watch some cartoons and tune into “This Week in Baseball.” Hosted by famed Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen, the mix of storytelling, music and crazy plays fueled my dreams of being the MVP of our neighborhood baseball game. And the show’s iconic theme song played like a soundtrack to summer. As Bill Simmons once put it, “My goosebumps just got goosebumps.”​

#26 – Inside The NFLJimmy Traina, Sports Illustrated

In a world without DirecTV, Sunday Ticket and Red Zone, there were two shows every NFL fan had to watch for highlights and cool features: NFL PrimeTime on ESPN and Inside the NFL on HBO. Each week, Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti (and later Cris Collinsworth) would recap the games from the week before and make picks for the upcoming week. One thing Inside the NFL had that NFL PrimeTime did not, since the show aired during the week and not immediately following games on Sunday, was footage of players and coaches mic’d up. These days, that doesn’t seem like a huge thing, but in the ‘80s, when the show was at its peak, it was must-see TV for football fans.

#27 – The Dan Le Batard Show with StugotzPerry Simon, All Access

I’m taking The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, because it a) treats sports with the reverence it deserves, meaning very little, and b) the show has a rhythm and internal logic that’s its own. It’s an acquired taste, it has the feel of a club to which not everyone’s invited, and hard core sports fanatics must hate it because they’ll blow off the obvious big sports story of the day to talk about something Dan finds more interesting (and complaints are met with “You don’t get the show!”), but it’s about as entertaining as a radio show with cameras in the studio can be.

Once you get the running gags (the Hard Network Out, “How ‘bout THAT?,” the Kentucky Fraud Chickens, etc.), you’re hooked whether you want to be or not. And the hot take machine that is Stugotz works as a neat parody of all the other hit takers out there. I think this and Highly Questionable (a sports show that isn’t really about sports at all) should be a tandem since they, in combination, are a sports talk universe separate and apart from the rest of ESPN and sports media in general. Since I can only pick one, I’ll go with the radio show, but it’s a coin flip.

#28 – Highly QuestionableAlex Putterman, Hartford Courant

Obviously HQ isn’t for everyone. If you want serious sports talk, from people whose veins nearly burst every time an NBA player asks for a trade, you’ll be better served elsewhere. But for those who believe sports are inherently fun (and, in a sense, inherently absurd), it’s hard to beat Dan Le Batard, a rotating cast of amusing guest hosts and, most importantly, Papi – in all his rapping, wise-cracking, fake-hand shaking glory.

#29 – The Dan Patrick ShowBobby Burack, The Big Lead

Dan Patrick has had one of the best sports radio shows in the country for years now. His show not only lands the most intriguing guests, but as the best interviewer in the business, Dan is able to get people to open up and create talking points around the industry. The show is fun and loose but can also get serious when needed.

Unlike most radio shows, the DP Show is actually better on television. The Man Cave leaves little doubt that Dan and the Danette’s are just five sports fans that we all want to hang and have a beer with. 

#30 – NBA Inside StuffDemetri Ravanos, Barrett Sports Media

With apologies to SportsCenter and Inside the NBA, if you are a 90’s kid, NBA Inside Stuff is the sports show of record. Honestly, this show should have been everyone’s first sign that they were just thinking differently at the NBA offices in New York. They created an all-access style show with interesting and fun content and rather than offer it in syndication or as part of their Sunday NBC package, they pair it with Saturday morning cartoons and market it to kids. It was a brilliant exercise in how to create lifelong fans!

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Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?

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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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Takeaways From The NAB Show and Six Days in Las Vegas

“I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm for the NAB Show was elevated this year.”

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Six days on the road can sometimes be exhausting. Six days in Las Vegas, and it’s guaranteed. That was my world last week, as I along with more than fifty thousand people headed to sin city to take in the 2022 NAB Show.

The event didn’t draw as many as it had in the past, but after two years of inactivity due to the pandemic, it was good to be back. Judging from some of the vendors I talked to, the sessions I attended, and the feedback I received from folks I met with, though far from perfect, it was a solid return for an important event. Seeing people interact, celebrate others, and talk about ways to improve the business was a positive reminder of the world being closer to the normal of 2019 than the normal of 2020-2021. The only negative from the week, the consistent failure of Uber to appear in the right place at the right time. But that had zero to do with the NAB.

It feels like whenever I attend industry conferences, there are two different type of reviews that follow. Some writers attend the show and see the glass half full. Others see the glass half empty. I’m certainly not afraid to be critical but my enthusiasm was elevated this year. Maybe it was because BSM was a media partner or maybe it was due to the show not happening for years and just being happy to be among friends, peers, and clients and operate like normal. Either way, my glass was definitely half full.

For those who see events this way, it’s likely they’ll remember the numerous opportunities they had to create and reestablish relationships. They’ll also recall the access to different speakers, sessions, products, and the excellent research shared with those in attendance. The great work done by the BFOA to recognize industry difference makers during their Wednesday breakfast was another positive experience, as was the Sunday night industry gathering at The Mayfair Supper Club.

Included in the conference were sessions with a number of industry leaders. Radio CEO’s took the stage to point out the industry’s wins and growth, credit their employees, and call out audio competitors, big tech, and advertisers for not spending more with the industry. When David Field, Bob Pittman, Ginny Morris and Caroline Beasley speak, people listen. Though their companies operate differently, hearing them share their views on the state of the business is important. I always learn something new when they address the room.

But though a lot of ground gets covered during these interviews, there are a few issues that don’t get talked about enough. For instance, ineffective measurement remains a big problem for the radio business. Things like this shouldn’t happen, but they do. NBC and WarnerMedia took bold steps to address problems with TV measurement. Does radio have the courage to take a similar risk? That’s an area I’d like to see addressed more by higher ups.

I can’t help but wonder how much money we lose from this issue. Companies spend millions for a ratings service that delivers subpar results, and the accountability that follows is often maddening. Given the data we have access to digitally, it’s stunning that radio’s report card for over the air listening is determined by outdated technology. And if we’re going to tell folks that wearables are the missing ingredient for addressing this problem, don’t be shocked if the press that follows is largely negative. The industry and its advertising partners deserve better. So too do the reps at Nielsen who have to absorb the hits, and make the most of a tough situation.

Speaking of advertising, this is another one of those critical areas that deserves another point of view. Case in point, I talked to a few ad agency professionals at the show. Similar to what I’ve heard before, they’re tired of hearing radio leaders blame them for the industry’s present position. This has been a hot button topic with executives for years. I often wonder, do we help or hurt ourselves by publicly calling out advertisers and ad agencies? How would you feel if you ran an agency which spent millions on the industry and were told ‘you don’t do enough’? I’m a champion of radio/audio, and am bullish on spoken word’s ability to deliver results for clients, but having attended these shows for nearly seven years, it might be time for a new approach and message. Or maybe it’s time to put one of our CEO’s with one of theirs and have a bigger discussion. Just a thought.

Of the sessions that I attended, I thought Erica Farber’s ‘What Business Are You In?’ was excellent. I especially liked Taja Graham’s presentation on ‘Sharing Your Truth’. I also appreciated Eric Bischoff’s tips on ways to monetize podcasts, and am curious to see how Amazon’s AMP develops moving forward. My favorite session at the show though was “A GPS Session For Your Station’s Car Radio Strategy” led by Fred Jacobs. The insight shared by Joe D’Angelo of Xperi and Steve Newberry & Suzy Schultz of Quu was outstanding. Keeping the car companies on our side is vital to our survival, and how we position ourselves on the dashboard can’t be ignored. Other tech companies and audio operators take it seriously. We must too.

Sessions aside, it was great to check out the VSiN and Blue Wire studios, connect with a bunch of CEO’s, GM’s and Market Manager’s, and visit with Kevin Jones, Joe Fortenbaugh, Jeremiah Crowe, Jon Goulet, Bill Adee, Q Myers, Mike Golic Jr. and Stormy Buonantony. The NFL’s setup for the Draft, and the light show presented at the Bellagio was without a doubt spectacular, plus Stephanie had a chance to say hello to Raiders owner Mark Davis who was inside the back room of a Westgate restaurant where we were having a business lunch meeting. The personal tour we received at the Wynn showed off some of the best suites I’ve seen in Las Vegas, and I was finally able to witness Circa’s Stadium Swim in person, and meet owner Derek Stevens (heck of a suit game). What an outstanding hotel and casino.

Altogether, it was a productive trip. As someone who knows all about building and executing a conference, I appreciate the work that goes into pulling it off. This event is massive, and I have no idea how the NAB makes it happen so flawlessly. This was the first time my head of sales, Stephanie Eads, got to attend the show. She loved it. Our only negative, going back and forth between convention halls can get exhausting. Wisely, Stephanie and Guaranty Media CEO Flynn Foster took advantage of the underground Tesla ride to move from the North hall to the West hall. I wasn’t as bright. If that’s the worst part of the experience though, that’s pretty solid. I look forward to returning in 2023, and attending the NAB’s NYC show this fall.

Additional:

You’ve likely seen posts from BSM/BNM on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn promoting a number of open positions. I’m adding crew to help us pump out more content, and that means we need more editors, news writers, features reporter’s and columnists. If you’re currently involved or previously worked in the industry and love to write about it, send a resume and few writing samples by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

With that said, I’m excited to announce the addition of Ryan Brown as a weekly columnist for BSM. Ryan is part of ‘The Next Round’ in Birmingham, Alabama, which previously broadcast on WJOX as JOX Roundtable. The show left the terrestrial world in June 2021 to operate as its own entity. Ryan’s knowledge and opinions should provide a boost to the site, and I’m looking forward to featuring his columns every Tuesday. Keep an eye out for it tomorrow, and if you want to check out the guest piece he previously wrote for us, click here.

Demetri Ravanos and I have talked to a lot of people over the past month. More additions will be revealed soon. As always, thanks for the continued support of BSM and BNM.

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Barrett Blogs

Six New Contributors Join Barrett Media

“These latest additions will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.”

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Building a brand starts with a vision. Once that vision is defined, you identify the people who fit what you’re creating, lay out the game plan, and turn them loose to execute. If the product you’re creating is original, fills a gap in the marketplace, and the work turned in by your team is consistently excellent and promoted in the right locations, more times than not you’ll build an audience.

As you grow, the focus turns to studying what your audience wants, needs, and expects from your brand. Certain things you expect to be big turn out small, and the things you saw limited upside in create opportunities you never saw coming. It’s critical to be open minded and ready to pivot while also examining where and when people consume your product, which pieces of content do and don’t matter, and then use that information to direct your team to give folks more of what they value and less of what they don’t. Team members should want that feedback too. It tells them what is and isn’t worth spending their time on.

As I lay all of that out it may sound like I’m talking about a radio station or television operation. These are the things programmers do frequently to make sure the talent, shows, and brand is satisfying the expectations of an audience. But what I’m actually referring to is the brand you’ve made a choice to click on to read this column, Barrett Media.

I’ve mentioned many times on this website how I started this operation by myself, and didn’t expect to have a team of writers involved in it. I was focused on consulting sports stations, sharing my programming views on this website, and as I cranked out content consistently, I discovered others loved the business like I did and had a desire to share their insights too. Rather than sticking to my original plan, I pivoted and increased our content offerings. In return, the audience grew, clients grew, and it’s led this brand to grow beyond my expectations. Now we cover sports AND news media, we run an annual conference, feature a membership program, create podcasts, deliver a daily 8@8 and three times per week BNM Rundown newsletter, and work with various brands and companies across the broadcasting industry. I’m extremely fortunate to be in this position and don’t take it for granted.

But with growth comes change. We’ve been blessed to have a lot of talented people contribute to this site over the years, and as they produce quality work, and others across the industry recognize it, they earn interest for their services. That then leads to some having to sign off for bigger opportunities. I see that as a great positive for the brand. Would it be nice to have more consistency and keep a crew together for years? Of course. I know it’d make Demetri’s life a lot easier. If we’re losing people for the right reasons though, and they’re landing opportunities that help them advance their careers, I’m going to be happy for their success, and trust that we’ll find others to keep us moving forward. The success of our team helps make what we do more attractive to others because it shows that if you do good consistent work here, you can put yourself in a position to attract attention.

Over the past two months, I have challenged Demetri Ravanos to invest more time talking to people about writing for us. Expanding our Barrett News Media roster is a priority. So too is adding quality people to help us improve Barrett Sports Media. BSM has had just under seven years to earn trust with readers. BNM has had less than two. We’ve put out ads on our website and newsletters, social posts, an ad on Indeed, and we’ve reached out directly to people who we’ve felt may be able to add something interesting to our brand. Most of my time is spent listening to stations and talking with clients, but my eyes are always roaming looking for content, and my mind is always thinking about what we can create next to make an impact.

I don’t judge our brand’s success based on clicks, shares, breaking news before other outlets or showing up in the top three listings on Google. I care more effort accuracy, timeliness, passion, consistency, storytelling, insight, and being fair and non-agenda driven. We’ve found our niche being able to tell stories about broadcasting professionals, relaying news, and offering expert knowledge to serve those involved in the broadcasting industry. If we continue to excel doing those things consistently, I’m confident our audience will reward us by reading and sharing more of our content. It’s why we never stop recruiting to keep things fresh.

Having said that, I am excited today to reveal six new additions to the Barrett Media staff. Peter Schwartz is a name and voice many in New York sports radio circles are familiar with. Peter has spent three decades working with various outlets and I’m thrilled to have him writing weekly feature stories for us. Brady Farkas is a talented host and former programmer who now works for WDEV in Burlington, VT. Karl Schoening is a play by play broadcaster who has worked in San Antonio sports radio and has had the added benefit of learning the industry from his talented father Bill who calls Spurs games. Each of them will produce bi-weekly feature stories for the brand. Jason Ence is in Louisville and has written about sports betting for Twin Spires while also working for ESPN 680. He’ll be writing sports betting content for us on a weekly basis. Jasper Jones will help us by adding news stories on Friday’s. He’s presently in Philadelphia learning the business working for Audacy. Last but not least, veteran author, Brewers writer, and former radio professional Jim Cryns comes on board to help us with features on news media professionals.

These six additions make us stronger, and I’m excited to have them join the team to help us add more quality content to the website. That said, we’re not done yet. Demetri and I are still talking with others and I expect to make a few more additions in the weeks ahead. As I said earlier, we want to improve the news media side of our operation and continue adding people to help us make a bigger dent in the sports media space. Broadcast companies invest in us to help them, and I believe it’s important to invest back.

If you’ve programmed, hosted a top rated show, worked in measurement, led a cluster as a GM, sold advertising, represented talent or have worked in digital and feel you have knowledge to share, reach out. I can’t promise we’ll have room but we’re always willing to listen. I’m not worried about whether or not you’ve written for professional publications. Passion, experience and unique insights matter much more than a resume or journalism degree.

I appreciate everyone who takes time to read our content, like and share it on social, and all involved with this brand who help bring it to life each day. The latest additions of Schwartz, Farkas, Schoening, Ence, Jones and Cryns will make our product better. Now the challenge is finding others to help us continue growing.

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