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The Recipe for Success: Work Really Hard

The mantra ‘nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get’ is one that is particularly resonant in the wake of a pandemic, furloughs and job losses.

Chrissy Paradis

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Photo by Crowd Expedition CC BY-ND 2.0.

One of the most memorable moments and lessons that I have learned during my career came from the great Conan O’Brien’s farewell from The Tonight Show.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a part of the team that worked on the first show, watching Conan’s cold open to the show, seeing Pearl Jam rehearse “Got Some” to perfection from the control room before the first show aired, listen to William Shatner practice voicing special elements for segments, watch Tom Hanks humbly arriving early to practice the blocking for a stunt that would take place during the second show, meet Snoop Dogg as he brought his custom Lakers themed car “Magic” named after Magic Johnson to the set and so many more.

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Ultimately, it was a pretty sad day when Conan’s final show aired months later. His advice is something I carried with me and still to this day try to apply to my life, both on a personal and professional basis. Filled with humility and gratitude, Conan shared his recipe for success with his audience and particularly asking something of his young viewers:

“You’ve made a sad situation joyous and inspirational. So to all the people watching, I can never, ever thank you enough for your kindness to me—I’ll think about it for the rest of my life and all I ask is one thing. I’m asking this particularly of young people. Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism, for the record it’s my least favorite quality, it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get, but if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen—I’m telling you amazing things will happen. I’m telling you. It’s just true.”

The mantra ‘nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get’ is one that is particularly resonant in the wake of a pandemic, furloughs and job losses, and I thought I would take a page out of Conan’s playbook by highlighting the stories of the authors on the BSM team—noting what happens when you indeed work really hard and are kind, even in the face of challenging circumstances.

Brandon Contes, spending years with the Barrett Sports Media family recently wrote an article about his career and reflected on his experience, as he embarks on his new job with Mediaite—I highly recommend giving it a read. Here’s what some of the other talented writers from the Barrett Sports Media team have to say about their experiences and the impact working with BSM has had on their careers.

I asked Vik Chokshi, Content Producer at Audacy Sports, about his experience in working with BSM and the role it played in the development of his career.

CP: How did the opportunity to work with Jason and Barrett Sports Media manifest itself?

VC: I was freelancing for a couple of websites and was looking to land a full-time opportunity in sports. I decided to reach out to contacts that I admired in the industry like Jason for some advice. After listening to my situation, he gave me excellent tips and told me to give him a ring if I was interested in writing for Barrett Sports Media. I wanted to further my footprint in the sports gambling world and Jason was there to help.

CP: How did writing for Barrett Sports Media impact your career trajectory?

VC: Writing for BSM was great and it positively impacted my career trajectory. Jason opened up his network to me and gave me advice on topics to write about. He also mentored me on how to stick out in the industry. All things I needed at the time.

I started writing gambling industry related posts for BSM, which led me to making some great connections in the space. BSM also allowed my work to be seen by a bigger audience and decision makers, which helped my career as a whole.

CP: Which piece are you most proud of or would you consider as one of your favorites?

VC: Picking just one piece as my favorite is tough to do, because each individual that I connected with for my articles and profiles were amazing in their own right. To be able to chat with and learn from the giants in the gambling world like Dave Sharapan, Alan Berg, Chris Andrews, Tim Murray, Joe Fortenbaugh, Dough Kezirian, Ben Fawkes and Mitch Moss was like a dream come true.

If I had to choose one article though, I’d love to point out the piece I wrote titled Six Sports Betting Content Creators You Need to Know Now. I pride myself on identifying trends and talent in sports early, so it was pretty cool to see all six of the highlighted figures take major steps in the gambling industry after the article came out.

Follow Vik Chokshi on Twitter by clicking here.

Check out the articles Vik has written with BSM by clicking here.

Rob “Stats” Guerrera, has been working as a podcast host/producer with SB Nation and additionally, doing some consultant work with FOX Sports Radio, joined me to discuss his journey with BSM.

CP: How did you first connect with Jason and what role did that relationship play in your career development over time?

RG: I first worked with Jason when he was the PD at ESPN St. Louis and I was working on Mike & Mike.

After that we stayed in touch over the years. Jason has always been good to me, and kept me in mind when the right opportunity crossed his desk.

When I was laid off in March, Jason had a columnist opening that I applied for and was hired.

CP: How did writing for BSM impact your career trajectory?

RG: Jason has always been great to me working with BSM was invaluable to me as a way to keep my name top of mind in the industry while I was otherwise unemployed. I can’t tell you how many people reached out to me about something I had written.

Follow Rob “Stats” Guerrera on Twitter by clicking here.

Check out Guerrera’s articles on BSM by clicking here.

Brian Noe, host of The Noe Show weekdays on NBCSouthwest and weekends on FOX Sports Radio, shared his journey with Barrett Sports Media and the impact his relationship with Jason has had on his career trajectory.

BN: JB mentioned on one of his podcasts years ago that he was looking to add a few writers. It immediately appealed to me. I saw the potential to network and liked the challenge of cranking out creative pieces. JB and I met up at the Omni in Nashville back in 2017 while he was in town for a sports radio convention. We worked out a multi-year contract with a heavy signing bonus and no-trade clause. (That’s how I remember it.)

JB has vouched for me with various people in the business, which really means a lot to me. The guy knows everybody. Not just the Sunday morning host in market 189, but practically the guy who hung the drywall in their new studio. I’ve also been able to connect with a lot of great people in the industry that I wouldn’t have crossed paths with if not for writing. It’s really been a positive experience for me.

Follow Brian Noe on Twitter by clicking here.

Check out Brian Noe’s articles on BSM by clicking here.

Stan Norfleet, afternoon host working with Nick Wilson on WFNZ in Charlotte, shared his experience and introduction to the Barrett Sports Media family.

SN: Not even a year ago, I was a relatively experienced young broadcaster exploring all avenues to reignite my career. I knew of Jason and the BSM site, but had yet to communicate with him directly. Therefore, I took it upon myself to make the investment in the 2020 Barrett Sports Media Summit, in hopes of networking my way into a better space. Although JB and staff were ridiculously busy with the event, he did make time for a proper introduction. That brief encounter, coupled with a freelance column I would write later, spawned a relationship with BSM that has forever changed my career! JB’s guidance, encouragement, and influence eventually landed me a spot-on afternoon drive. Who knew things could happen so quickly? A lot people talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion; I’m living proof Jason and his staff sincerely believe it. I am forever grateful, Jason Barrett!

Check out Stan’s pieces on BSM by clicking here.

Follow Stan Norfleet on Twitter by clicking here.

Seth Everett, broadcaster at iHeartMedia, host and owner of three really successful podcasts and an adjunct professor at Syracuse, spoke on the path that led to him working with Jason and the BSM team.

SE: I was a big reader of Jason’s site, and I had just left a writing gig at Sports Illustrated and writing about sports media was something that always appealed to me. Jason and I stayed in touch—I had the writing bug and I wanted to do more. Jason, column First of all, it’s a good idea.

CP: How did writing for Barrett Sports Media impact your career?

SE: One of the best things that has come with this opportunity is that I’ve reconnected with old colleagues. People who either read the stories and reached out to me, or I was doing a story about someone from my past and it gave me a reason to reach out.

You can find Seth’s most recent piece on BSM by clicking here.

You can follow Seth Everett on Twitter by clicking here.

BNM Writers

Market Still Finding 2023 Footing

After some rigorous data analysis, the thoughtful, numbers-based host was able to formulate some potential conclusions.

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While it’s hard to imagine 2023 being as painful for investors as 2022, experts still cannot say for certain we are destined for blue skies ahead. Many in the media are starting the year by sifting through the stock market tea leaves; trying to figure out what historical data can tell us about probabilities and expectations for the next twelve months.

Some think the United States is poised for a market rebound, while others remain quite bearish, feeling that negative policy implications have yet to be fully realized.

Peter Tuchman of Trademas Inc. joined Neil Cavuto on his Fox News program Friday, to offer his thoughts about where the American stock market might be headed in light of the newly-divided United States Congress.

“Markets have a sort of a gut of their own,” Cavuto opened. “Today’s a good example. We’re up 300 points, ended up down 112 points. What’s going on?”

“Markets don’t like unknowns, and markets need confidence. The investing community needs confidence,” Tuchman said. “And I think it’s going to take a lot of work to rebuild that. And as we saw the other night with what went on in the House, it feels like people should get busy governing as opposed to all this posturing.”

Six months ago, Tuchman didn’t have a solid feel for the direction of the market. And just two trading weeks into the year, he still doesn’t believe any real trend has been established.

“The market has yet to find its ground. It’s yet to find its footing,” Tuchman told Cavuto. “And still, even coming into 2023, the first week of trading we have not found our footing. We have come in on a couple of economic notes that were a little bit positive. We opened up with a little bit of irrational enthusiasm. By the end of the days we were trading down.”

Meanwhile, some financial outlets, such as CNBC, have dug into the data showing what a market rise during the year’s first week – such as what we experienced this year – potentially means for the rest of 2023. They published a story last week with the headline, Simple ‘first five days’ stock market indicator is poised to send a good omen for 2023“.

On an episode of his popular YouTube program late last week, James from Invest Answers dug into 73 years of stock market data, to test that theory and see if the first five days of yearly stock market performance are an indicator of what the market might do over the full year.

“Some analysts pay attention to this, the first five trading day performance, can it be an indicator of a good year or a bad year,” James began last week, “I wanted to dig into all of that and get the answer for myself. Because some people think yes. Some people swear blind by it. Some people think it’s a myth or an old wive’s tale. Some people think it’s a great omen.”

After some rigorous data analysis, the thoughtful, numbers-based host was able to formulate some potential conclusions.

Based on James’ analysis…

If the gains from the first five market days of the year are negative, the market rises 86 percent of the time over the full year, with an average gain of 6%.

If the first five days are positive, the market increases 92% of the time, with an average yearly gain of 16%.

Most importantly, in this year’s scenario, where the first five days saw a jump of more than 1%, the market traditionally ends positive for the year 95 percent of the time. Those years see an average yearly gain of 18%.

“Is it a good omen, does it look bullish?” James asked. “Well, yes, based on history. But remember, there are factors like inflation, interest rates, geopolitical turmoil, supply chains, slowing economy. All that stuff is in play. But history also says that the market bounces bounces back before the market even realizes it’s in a recession. That’s an important thing to know.”

On his Your World program, Cavuto wondered if the recent House speaker voting drama has added to the uncertainty facing markets.

“Historically, Wall Street definitely is a bit more friendly to a Republican administration,” Tuchman said. “We’re in new ground, there’s no playbook, Neil. And I went over it with you the last time. There’s no playbook for coming out of a pandemic. No playbook for what’s gone on over the last two and a half years. Let’s think about it. March 2020, the market sold off so radically. We had a rally of 20 percent in 2020. 28 percent in 2021, in the eyes of a global economic shutdown due to the Federal Reserve’s posturing and whatnot.

“And now we’re trying to unwind that position. In tech, and in possible recession, and inflation and supply chain issues. So, there’s no way historically to make a judgment on what the future looks like in that realm, let alone what’s going on in the dis-functionality of what’s happening in Washington. I would like to disengage what’s going on in Washington and try and rebuild the confidence in the market coming into 2023.” 

So while the data might indicate a strong year ahead, the fact is that many analysts still won’t make that definitive call amidst such economic turmoil gripping the country. 

Along with U.S. markets, they remain steadfast in their search for solid footing.

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BNM Writers

Does Radio Need A Video Star?

If there’s revenue attached, the debate is over. If there isn’t a deal on the table, and there aren’t already orders to monetize a video stream, it’s likely coming soon.

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Last week numerous stories about using video with broadcasting or audio podcasting became a hot topic of discussion.

A Morning Consult poll found that 32% of Americans prefer podcasts with video, compared with 26% who like just audio better. Among podcast listeners, 46% said they favor them with video, compared with 42% who said they would rather listen without video. It’s worth noting that these are podcast listeners, not radio listeners.

Video has become the latest trend in audio. Almost everybody is trying to do some form of video. Many shows already stream online. A few others simulcast on a television or cable channel. It seems nobody believes in pure audio anymore. It’s a wonder everybody didn’t go into television instead of radio.

Before everybody else starts adding webcams in the studio, it’s worth weighing the reasons to move ahead versus slowing down.

The first person to realize they could use video of their show may have been Howard Stern. In June 1994, Stern started a daily half-hour show on E! network, featuring video highlights from his radio show. Stern added slick production values and faster pacing on the E! show.

Don Imus started simulcasting on cable during the same month. It’s possible others that I’m not aware of started earlier.

Stern’s E! show made sense. It answered the most common questions people asked about the show, in addition to what’s he really like; the first questions people usually asked were: 1) Are the women really as good-looking as he says? 2) Do they really take their clothes off? The E! show answered those questions. In addition, it gave a backstage glimpse of the show.

The same month Stern’s E! Show began, Imus began simulcasting his show on cable networks. I would have feared losing ratings. In fact, Imus’ program director did!

I spoke to my long-time friend and colleague Mark Chernoff (Current Managing Director of Mark Chernoff Talent and on-air talent 107.1 The Boss on the NJ Shore, Former Senior VP WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, VP Sports Programming CBS Radio) about the impact simulcasting Imus’ show had on WFAN. Chernoff may have the broadest range of experiences with simulcasting radio programs with video. 

Imus began on CSPAN but shortly afterward moved to MSNBC. Chernoff told me: “When we started simulcasting Imus, I suggested we’d lose about 15% of our radio audience to TV, which we did.” Chernoff added that there was a significant revenue contribution and that the company was content with the trade-off.

WFAN had a different experience simulcasting Mike and the Mad Dog on YES in 2002. “In this case, TV was helpful, and we increased listenership,” said Chernoff. WFAN also benefited financially from this simulcast.

Imus was on in morning drive while Mike & the Mad Dog were on in the afternoon. Keep the era in mind, too. Before smartphones and high-speed streaming, it was not uncommon for people to have televisions in the bed or bathrooms and have the tv on instead of the radio as they got ready for their day. In the afternoon, fewer people would have had video access in that era.

Ratings measurement moved to Portable People Meter (PPM) by the time WFAN started streaming middays on its website. Chernoff reported streaming had no ratings or revenue impact – positive or negative – on middays. However, the company did provide an additional dedicated person to produce the video stream.

The early forays into video by pioneers such as Stern, Imus, and Mike & the Mad Dog are instructive.

There are good reasons to video stream shows. Revenue is a good reason.

If there’s revenue attached, the debate is over. If there isn’t a deal on the table, and there aren’t already orders to monetize a video stream, it’s likely coming soon.

Another good reason is if the video can answer questions about the show, as the E! show did for Howard Stern.

On the other hand, audio companies are going to throw a lot of money at video, based on the notion that it’s what they “should” do because:

  • It’s the latest trend. Being late on this trend is different from missing the Internet or Podcasting. Industries already revolve around video; television and film come to mind.
  • Podcast listeners like it (by a slight plurality).

Before turning on webcams, see what viewers will see. The studios at many stations I’ve worked at were better not seen. Considerations include; the set, lighting, wardrobe, visuals, and a plan.

Too many video streams of studios feature the fire extinguisher prominently in the shot or the air personalities milling about during terminally long breaks.

Before going live, watch the video with no audio. Is it interesting? Compelling? Does the video draw you in, or is it dull?

With program directors now spread so thin handling multiple stations, a dedicated person to oversee streaming should be a requirement for stations streaming shows.

Other considerations:

  • How could this help us, and how could it hurt us?
  • How does the video enhance the show?
  • Will personalities do their radio show or perform for the cameras?
  • What production values are you able to add to the video?
  • What happens during those seven- eight-minute breaks if it’s a live radio show (vs. a podcast)? What will people streaming video see and hear? Does everybody on the show get along?

Do you have revenue attached? What do you expect will happen to the ratings?

WFAN earned significant revenue for two. Therefore, the company wasn’t concerned when the ratings took a hit for the first one and were surprised when they helped the second one. They didn’t see any impact on ratings or revenue the third time.

After all the budget cuts and workforce reductions over the past decade-plus, before audio companies invest in video, shouldn’t we get: people, marketing, promotion, or research monies back first?

Most of us decided to get into radio (or podcasting) instead of television or film. There’s a reason they said, “video killed the radio star.”

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BNM Writers

Streaming Platforms Cannot Be Forgotten By News/Talk Program Directors

BNM’s Pete Mundo writes that if you’re a News/Talk program director, you run two radio stations and what comes through the streaming platforms.

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If you’re a News/Talk program director, you run two radio stations. Didn’t you know that? Oh. Well, you do. 

I’m not just referring to our over-the-air broadcast but also what comes through our streaming platforms. Alexa, Google Home, apps, computers, etc., are all streaming platforms of our radio stations, which for most of us, are airing different commercial inventory than what is coming through the radio.

I understand none of us are unnecessarily looking to add to our plate, but our streaming platforms are the way we are getting more people to use our product. So neglecting, or forgetting about it, is a bad business decision, especially in the talk space. 

Across all clusters, talk radio is far more likely to have high streaming use when it comes to total listening hours. Listeners are more loyal to our personalities and often can’t get the AM dial in their office buildings during the day, or even if they can, they don’t want to hear our voices through static, so they pull up the stream. 

It’s never been easier to listen to talk radio stations, thanks to our station apps and websites (although welcoming some sites to the 21st century would be a good idea). So, given the challenges many of us face on the AM band, why not push our audience to the stream and make sure the stream sounds just as good as the over-the-air product?

The tricky part in putting together a quality stream sound is trying to balance what ads are programmatic, which ones are sold locally, where is the unfilled inventory and what is filling that gap?

And unlike your over-the-air product, where you can go into a studio, see what’s coming up, and move inventory around, that technology is not available in most cases. So yes, it’s a guessing game.

But as the talk climate continues to change, the best thing we can do to build our brand and trust with the next generation of talk radio listeners is to find them and engage them where they are, which may not always be next to a physical radio. That will be on a stream. How do I know that? Because if they have a smartphone, they have (access to) the stream.

Of course, the over-the-air product remains the massive revenue generator for our stations, as in most cases, the streaming revenue is not close to comparable. But then, if we look years down the road, that will likely start to change. 

To what degree? That’s unknown. But double-digit growth on an annual basis should not be out of the question when it comes to stream listening. It should be a very achievable goal, especially in our format. So our listeners who are P1’s, love the station and want to consume as much of the content as they can, can be on the AirPods in the gym, desk at work, or in their home office and listen to our radio stations. 

Heck, with Alexa and Google Home, they don’t even have to turn a dial! They just speak. So if they’re there, let’s keep them there.

There are simply too many media options today to lose our listeners due to sloppy streaming quality that makes us sound like a college radio station. Instead, listeners, who find us there should be rewarded with a listening experience that is just as high-quality as what they would get on the AM or FM band.

And if we play our cards right, it will be better, serving the industry incredibly well through a new generation of listeners.

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