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An Education on Audience Development

“I think back to the days when cable was going to kill local television. I still watch my local television station. And I believe that there is no way podcasting or audio consumption on digital only is going to kill radio.”

Jason Barrett

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Developing a great brand that becomes important to an audience and generates ratings involves a few key factors. First, great talent have to be in place. If your brand doesn’t have people in front of the camera or behind the mic who others want to listen to, watch, and spend time with, the rest won’t matter. Personalities with an ability to help an audience laugh and learn while coming across as likeable and interesting are vital.

The next part of the equation involves content choices. Discussing what you had for lunch may sound like an awful content selection but if a gifted storyteller can take that bland piece of content and turn it into something memorable, it could be your brand’s best segment of the day. It could also be your worst. This applies to sports talk too. A host on the air can build content around a team or player that’s most important to listeners but if all they do is state the obvious, it won’t be enough to make a mark. On the other hand, a talent who’s plugged in, processes information differently, and has something to say that makes you think, feel, and react is entirely different. Both types of hosts may have done the right thing focusing their material on the subjects that are supposed to resonate with those listening or watching, but if the opinion and stories told add nothing new, the topic choice alone isn’t enough.

Which leads us to one of radio’s biggest challenges – subjectivity. What one programmer considers spectacular, another may find uninteresting. A talent dubbed as a ‘game changer’ by one executive may be seen as ‘can’t be hired’ by another. One PD may value guests and calls, another wants them nowhere near their airwaves. It’s no different in pro sports too. Coaches, scouts and executives have looked stupid and brilliant picking players who others thought were or weren’t worth investing in.

But building and satisfying an audience depends on much more than just hiring a talented host. You’ve got to feature the right content, market your brand and personalities, connect on multiple platforms, study to learn where your audience is located and what causes them to tune in or out. The deeper you understand your audience and their preferences, the better your chances of reaching them, marketing to them, putting your advertising partners on their radar, and ultimately creating success.

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To get a better perspective on the challenges of audience development, and how brands and listening habits were affected by the pandemic, I reached out to my friends at Point to Point Marketing. Their support helped us create the Meet The Market Managers series, which hopefully you read. If not, click here to learn about some of the industry’s top leaders. Given that they specialize in marketing, research, and brand/audience development, their insights should be helpful to programmers and GM’s who are trying to figure out how to better serve their fans and partners. Enjoy.

  • Tim Bronsil – President
  • Tim Satterfield – VP, Digital
  • Susan Bacich – VP Strategy and Audience Insights

Jason Barrett: Before we dive into some of the opportunities and challenges associated with audience development, how did you get started your company?

Tim Bronsil: It started 23 years ago. Mark Heiden, who previously ran Eagle Marketing in Colorado, and Rick Torcasso, who was in charge of programming for Alliance and was kind of the brains behind the young Country format, they became partners. It began with a handful of clients. Now we work in almost all of the PPM markets. I came on board 16 years ago. Susan has been with us for 10 years, and Tim has been involved now for 7 years. The three of us are the face of the company as it relates to our clients. We’re the ones that strategize with them, come up with the different game plans, and then execute it. We have a team of nearly a dozen people that work for us and help with different things such as design, digital, research, etc. but the three of us are who work closest with the client.

JB: We partnered recently on the Meet The Market Manager’s series. There were a lot of different companies and business leaders featured over a 15 week period. What stood out to you from those conversations?

TB: The biggest takeaways for me from the Meet The Market Managers series were learning how business prior to Covid was different, and required adjusting to the present conditions. Brands needed to find ways to connect with their audience, serve their advertisers, and technologically get their talent to continue engaging with their audience whether it was done remotely or in studio. To hear each of these company leaders share how they handled pandemic marketing, programming, and sales was probably the biggest benefit for me.

Susan Bacich: For me, it was learning about the shift in how people are listening. I came to Point to Point from working in radio where you have your morning show and afternoon show as the staples of the radio station. Middays and evenings are obviously important too, but the way the shifting of listening has changed during the last fifteen months was really a big takeaway. The other item that caught my attention was discovering what radio stations and other audio companies are taking away from how listeners consume their audio, when they’re consuming it, and where they’re doing so. All of that has changed, and that stood out.

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Tim Satterfield: One of the best things I think is that they now have a higher perception of the value of the digital connection. When the pandemic hit and everybody went to a Zoom call, and the personalities were encouraged to stay in contact with their existing audience thru digital channels, whether thru Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. I just think it sealed the deal on their perception of the value of that contact point being digital. The good part for us obviously is that that’s our conduit on social bounce, so I think anyone who had questions about its value or its ability to work and succeed at getting the message in front of those people, I think that was washed away during the pandemic, if there were any of those.

JB: When it comes to developing and connecting with an audience, technology has changed so much about it. In the past it was a combination of radio, print and TV, now you have digital, which can be split into a number of different directions, plus you have email, direct mail, and other means of reaching fans. Is there one medium you value more than others when you’re working on behalf of a radio brand? How do each of you feel about that?

TB: The big thing with any marketing campaign that you’re going to deploy is you need to recognize the relative advantage that you’re trying to display. Once you have that nailed, then you can decide upon the tactics you’re going to use. Many stations will market before they’ve identified what that relative advantage is. So once we’ve done that, the best way we see to give a full three hundred and sixty degree view of that relative advantage is thru social media marketing. We can put up twenty, thirty or forty five second videos of talent, which showcases their humor, expertise, and other unique traits. That video can then live in the ecosystem with paid dollars behind it for a few days. Then we put up another piece of content that once again reinforces that relative advantage. Social gives you the opportunity to drill down to the demographic and key areas that matter, and that is the same whether it’s for broadcast radio or podcasting. We can find that audience and deliver that message on an ongoing basis very cost effectively.

TS: It just mirrors the move to digital marketing that you’ve seen across all brands and verticals. Radio shouldn’t be any different in that it’s very cost effective, very targetable, we can find the audience, and then when you take it and add it as part of a comprehensive marketing plan with the other products we have, we’ve seen that it can be extremely successful.

JB: How does age factor into this because radio and TV tend to skew older, digital younger. Are you able to still see great recall from older audiences on social and younger people on radio?

TS: The answer is yes. In fact, we’ve recently seen some results with people 55-64+ with podcast marketing because that demographic has the time, they’re interested depending on the product and the affinity it has. Those folks are on Facebook where you can generate a lot of click thru’s where that’s the campaign objective. On the radio side, it depends on the brand and what their target is. But if it’s 18-34 and they say ‘nobody is on Facebook’, that’s incorrect. We can see the results. They still have a high level of profiles. They’re on Snapchat, Instagram, and they look at stories, but they’re not off of Facebook, they still sample it. When you take the 18-34’s and the amount of frequency they have with their devices, it still makes them easy to find. Everything in between, really easy.

SB: One thing to add, in the social world it’s not just about casting a wide net. The nice thing about social and any of the marketing tactics we deploy on behalf of our clients is that we use it to grow recognition with compatible listeners. We’re not just throwing that wide net out, we’re looking for those people who are most likely to listen to your product. Whether that’s to your radio station or your podcasts or social media, we’re looking for those people who are most likely to consume your content. And in doing that, we’re helping to reinforce the brand’s position with that person who we’ve reached. Different tactics allow us to grow that audience in different ways.

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JB: When it comes to sports fans, they’re very passionate and the platforms they use and the way they use them are very different. For instance, my company expanded into news in September, and I learned quickly that the majority of brands and talent on news radio are conservative. They have less trust in big tech and aren’t as enthusiastic to share content and engage on social media as sports radio folks are. Sports fans love to have conversations and stay informed on Twitter, whereas news is a different deal. When you’re targeting a sports fan on behalf of a client or just doing your own research to figure out what people want, what are some things you’ve noticed that sports fans respond best to?

TB: I would say that it’s not just the specific knowledge about a certain sport or team. You have that base knowledge but then there are other things around it that are about your lifestyle as a sports fan. Showcasing that from a talent standpoint works. It’s important to give that three hundred and sixty degree view of the show and the personalities not just highlight how you might be an expert at a particular thing. Just because you live in a particular market doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a fan of the local team. People move places all the time. Owning a particular team can be a challenge so we try to focus on showcasing the whole part of the show.

JB: I want to ask each of you about the challenges of doing research and marketing during the pandemic. In 2019 we had a pretty good read on where people were, what was growing, what wasn’t, but then 2020 hit and everything changed due to uncontrollable circumstances. That obviously can create some challenges in the way you might go about reaching people. How did you guys pivot in the way you helped brands market themselves and gather information to be able to reach their audience?

TB: Everyone had a cell phone in their hand in mid-March of 2020 and they were constantly checking it. Our marketing is delivering to mobile devices 100%. Wherever they are Jason, either in the car, at the office, in the backyard, by delivering to that device with an immediate call to action we saw great success and engagement rates pick up in the second quarter of last year. Because we had this platform ready to go, brands were still able to reach their audiences even if they were displaced from their normal commuting patterns.

TS: We saw the engagement rates and connection with the audience go up not down because of the pandemic. People were home, they had their device, they were interested in what was going on outside not inside because they were stuck, so we saw everything pick up. The pandemic I believe helped enhance the perception of the value of the digital marketing that we do. The change from the pandemic may have been the use, but it was also the perception of the value.

SB: What’s interesting is that we’re now doing more at work targeting but during the pandemic it was really important to catch them at home. We had their complete attention because they couldn’t go anywhere. Anything coming in from the outside world was great. If we were able to get into those homes and deliver messages that made them excited, made them interested, made them want to look twice, that’s what our goal was, and that’s what we focused on.

JB: You guys work with multiple formats so I’m curious if we went back to March-May of last year, music didn’t stop, news became really important, but sports shut down. When you’re working with sports brands at that time and there’s no new content being created in the sports world, where do you shift a brand’s marketing focus?

TB: In April and May brands started creating original content. All throughout that time there were a lot of sports stories out there – when will sports return, what will open up in the fall, what type of capacity will there be, the hope of sports is where we placed our focus.

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JB: Would it be fair to say that the pandemic helped emphasize how important it is for brands to feature sports media personalities not just talent with an ability to create topics built from last night’s events?

SB: Anyone can deliver the news line, the stat, but it’s how you deliver it that counts. You saw a lot of programmers, producers, and personalities, step up their game because they had to. They had to literally reach out and grab that audience and create a reason for people to connect with them. A lot of people grew during that time period especially the hosts.

JB: As a former PD, the one part that I found fascinating was that you can create a strategy, tell talent what to talk more or less about, and image a brand around a team or teams, and that all sounds great, but when sports goes dark and there’s no live events taking place, you better have great personalities or you’re not going to retain an audience. The PD isn’t going to have the answer when an unprecedented event like a pandemic rocks the world and cancels all of sports. There’s no playbook available that says ‘this works, this doesn’t’. Imagine a music radio station staffed by DJ’s who show up one day and have no songs to play. That’s what sports talent dealt with, and the brands that featured on-air talent who were more important than the content, essentially the destination and reason listeners show up, did well. Those dependent on last night’s game, either struggled or wished they could use vacation time.

TS: Connection is key and personalities always make the difference.

SB: What you’re describing are stations and personalities who lost their brand. But they didn’t have to lose their brand position. They could’ve retained their position in the market. That’s what we worked on with our clients. Reinforcing what the brand is to the audience, and retaining that recognition is what we wanted to keep intact whether people were listening live to a show or thru podcasts.

JB: You mentioned podcasting which is one area of the business that many are excited about. Digital listening continues to increase, revenues are climbing, and radio in recent years hasn’t been growing so that factors into why so many are bullish on this space. When you’re studying audience behavior and the way it’s changing, from what you’ve seen so far, what are your takeaways? Is radio making the right call putting a heavier focus on podcasting based on where things are projected to go in the next few years or are we rushing towards it simply because it’s growing and other parts of the industry have been a little flat?

TS: I think it’s additive. Every time we do this, where we’re looking at the new shiny object, I think back to the days when cable was going to kill local television. I still watch my local television station. And I believe that there is no way podcasting or audio consumption on digital only is going to kill radio. Will it have to adjust? Will the audience change? We’ve seen some research that shows it’s having an impact in terms of frequency and how many tune ins, but it’s not going away. A good company with good margins is still going to see good cash flow using good ole fashioned radio to deliver a product to an audience. I know the public companies like to see growth. I see this as an opportunity that helps not hurts in the long term.

SB: I worked for a small company a while ago and they had this legend and it was the original owner talked to Howard Hughes. He was a bellhop at a hotel and he asked Howard ‘How do I provide for my family? What’s the next thing for me to get into?’ Howard told him ‘Buy FM transmitters’. So this bellhop started buying FM signals, and everyone laughed at him, but soon he was the one laughing all the way to the bank. It took some time and changes in formats and programming between AM and FM, but it reminds us that you never know what’s going to happen. It’s wise to move forward and to start going into those digital directions because you don’t know what is going to take off. If we were having this conversation twenty months ago, we wouldn’t have been talking about a pandemic and people’s listening habits changing wildly in such a short period of time but here we are.

TS: We can see the growth in podcasting. It’s genuine and it’s real. We’re out there to help those who have podcasts and want to have significant audience share do just that. We’ve seen it as a product extension if you will that we think is going to pay off for us kind of like FM transmitters paid off for the bellhop.

JB: So you take the podcast audience, the radio audience, the people a brand reaches thru their email newsletter, the video consumption on social media, in some cases brands even have TV simulcasts, and you add it all up and it’s pretty significant. But then the issue becomes, radio has all of this reach and audience, but isn’t getting full credit for it. That’s frustrating inside the building because you can see the brand’s impact but buyers are still making decisions based on certain criteria and it doesn’t always include the things you do well at that go uncredited. For you guys, doesn’t it in some ways become not just about marketing to develop audiences but also educating advertisers on the power of a brand and why they should be associating with it?

TB: Yes. The first step is to remind the advertisers of how big the brands are and show them that reach and engagement. We had clients that used videos of their air talent and then sold a sponsorship of that video. The exposure that that brand received was thru the roof and they saw the power of not only having a mention on the air but also being involved in social. Taking some chances and involving your client in those ways, maybe at no-cost in the beginning, gives you the opportunity to show them down the road when you go and ask for that order. The other part which was interesting, Sam Pines in Cleveland, what he’s doing with the Land on Demand, an on-demand service, that can also bridge some of that where you’re not picking up some of the advertising dollars but that subscription is an innovative way to leverage that content across other platforms.

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JB: I want to wrap up by asking each of you to reflect on last year and the challenge of helping brands while the industry dealt with pain caused by the pandemic. As someone who helps stations myself, I saw how it started bad, but fortunately turned around. During that time though, it has to be hard when the strategies you’ve used that you know work have to be quickly adjusted because people’s habits are rapidly changing. Then there’s the reality that some brands who need your help are navigating financial setbacks and are going to pause business, even though you can argue that there’s no more important time to study audience behavior and be in front of people. When you’re going thru something like that, how do you keep your business relationships strong and remind folks of the importance of sticking with a plan and continuing to market to their audience and do research?

TB: In normal times Jason, it is reminding them that ongoing communication with an audience is important because there are so many other audio choices out there. We have to remind them of that unduplicated content and why they need to come to your brand on a regular basis. It’s even more important now because we know listening patterns have changed since the pandemic to go and remind the audience of that. We need to make sure our radio brands are doing this while people return to the roads, return to work, as they return to their normal commuting patterns. Failure to do something is really not an option.

SB: I want to touch on one thing you mentioned Jason about the challenge of dealing with the realities of what everyone was dealing with last year. There were times when our clients told us ‘we’re with you but we’re going to have to hit the pause button because we don’t know what’s going on.’ That was understandable. If I were in their shoes I’d have probably done the same thing. But just because they paused didn’t mean our communication with the client stopped. If anything, our communication with the client picked up. We were coming up with ideas for them to help them with their advertisers and connecting with their audiences. We worked with them on brainstorming to try and help them create solutions to overcome a difficult period. For us, keeping those relationships intact was important.

TS: And Jason, the result of that is that the relationships and communication that we’ve had with these companies and individuals for literally decades, led to them stopping the pause. To their credit, knowing that they needed to get back in front of the audience to get that share back, and taking into account the relationship history and all of that groundwork that we did to help them, paid off in bringing those companies back to a marketing opportunity sooner which was great for both them and us.

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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