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2022 BSM Summit – March 2, 2022 (Day 1)

“Check back throughout the day for updated details from Day 1 of the 2022 BSM Summit.”

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Jason Barrett welcomes the attendees to the 2022 BSM Summit. Planning the Summit was difficult with COVID creating difficulties, but it’s good to be among people again. That leads into the first panel discussion on dealing with the pandemic featuring Spike Eskin, Kevin Graham, Mitch Rosen, and Dave Tepper.

9:10-9:50 – Programming Through a Pandemic presented by

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  • Spike Eskin – WFAN
  • Kevin Graham – KNBR
  • Mitch Rosen – 670 The Score
  • Dave Tepper – Altitude Sports Radio 92.5

Dave Tepper – Altitude Sports Radio 92.5
We worked with the Nuggets and the Avalanche for inventory, documentary programming, archived games to fill air time. The teams were cooperative in getting us content and it was successful.

The pandemic also presented an opportunity to get creative and see what else we could talk about, let the listeners determine what the discussion was. The hosts who weren’t all in, it didn’t quite work. But we eventually found a way through it, how to talk about sports in a different way.

Digitally, we have been growing. Clients have been responding. Ratings may not say we’re a top 10 station, but we’re top 10 in revenue because of the digital audience and being able to monetize that.

Mitch Rosen – 670 The Score
We played games from the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 playoff run and people enjoyed that. The NBA was cooperative in letting us air Chicago Bulls games, which was perfect because The Last Dance was playing on ESPN, everyone wanted to talk about those games.

We’ve learned to continue pushing the stream. People have responded. They’ve gotten used to it. Get talent to promote it, just like anything that’s over the air. The audience is there.

Spike Eskin – WFAN
Games didn’t work for us. WIP is based on arguing and debate. But the team came together and I used some tricks from my music days. We got everybody at the station to talk about the same topic. Leaning into debate and the central community hub really worked out.

Kevin Graham – KNBR
We’re personality driven, our listeners are used to that, so they responded. Building a staff, learning a market was difficult while relocating. On-air talent was all remote. Communication was crucial, reaching out to staff, talking to people. That’s all you could do.

Talent talking about their lives, what was happening in the world, risked dividing the audience. But giving strong opinions made good content that listeners could relate to and responded.

Digital ratings went through the roof and we had the data to prove it. But Nielsen was telling us no one was listening. They weren’t in their cars, they weren’t going to the office. But we knew people were listening.

9:50-10:25 – Understanding Gen-Z Sports Radio Users presented by

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  • Leigh Jacobs – NuVoodoo
  • Carolyn Gilbert – NuVoodoo

Carolyn Gilbert
Ratings Prospects Study broke down the audience across Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.

Current car audio systems make it more difficult to find AM radio. For Gen Z, easier to connect to a device and get to the content they want. To reach that audience, programmers have to be device-agnostic. Listeners are not devoted to traditional radio, legacy media.

Participation in sports is important for Gen Z listeners. Playing basketball or video gaming is reflected in the content they listen to and seek out. NBA, in particular, is big among this age group. In local markets, talking about your team and its players, gets strong support.

For connected cars increasingly popular with younger listeners, stations should get car dealer clients to pre-install apps so consumers don’t have to worry about finding content, navigating the dial or menu.

Leigh Jacobs
Social media has shown that younger listeners, Gen Z, are willing to find content anywhere they can find it. They’re the first to know what you’re doing.

Gen Z is spending much more time with podcasts, and the No. 1 place to find a podcast is in their car, using Bluetooth and the aux port. They haven’t interacted with a radio in their lifetime. Gen Z does not see a difference between podcasts and radio.

The biggest problem for Gen Z: Content they don’t connect to. They’ll tune out or quickly move on to something else they like. Casual fans connect to the NBA, NFL, and college football. Women’s sports are growing in popularity, though audience is still male-dominated.

Talk to the audience to find out what topics are important to them. Bad topics are worse than playing commercials to Gen Z listeners. Show up at events for live broadcasts, something podcasts can’t do. Be among the people, be a presence on social media.

10:25-11:00 – The State of Media Advertising presented by

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  • Gordon Borrell – Borrell Associates
  • Steven Goldstein – Amplifi Media

Steven Goldstein – Amplifi Media
Sports radio listeners are 37 percent more likely to be podcast consumers compared to the average American. 91 percent of sports listeners are likely to listen to sports podcasts. Those in the sports content business have an advantage over other formats.

Radio has to carve out space in digital advertising because TV, newspapers, local publications are producing podcasts too and going after those clients.

Gordon Borrell – Borrell Associates
The overall message from data is that the advertising world is changing. Businesses are hiring people to handle their media because advertising is on Google and Facebook. Only the big brands are currently breaking through as exceptions.

Messaging needs to be broader because there are so many more opportunities available now. But 95 percent of those opportunities are in the digital space, not in traditional media like radio, newspapers, and television.

Radio interprets the digital opportunity as podcasting. Stations need to realize they’re in the information business in what they provide for listeners, for advertising to reach them, not just talk sports or report news. The Gen Z audience is too media-savvy for traditional forms of advertising and can be reached through podcasting, video, social media, even audio streams. So radio sellers must focus on digital — video, targeted banners — with current and new customers.

After a quick break, the 2022 BSM Summit returns for its next session.

11:15-11:50 – Kings of Content presented by

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  • Fred Toucher – 98.5 The Sports Hub
  • Mike Felger – 98.5 The Sports Hub

Jason Barrett congratulates Mike Felger on Felger & Mazz winning the inaugural Mike and the Mad Dog Award that recognizes sports radio’s best local show.

Mike Felger – 98.5 The Sports Hub
When The Sports Hub first came on, having non-Boston fans allowed talent to take different angles on local stories, rather than just cheer on the city’s teams and athletes. We reset the topics — Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox — constantly for a fervent audience that’s constantly tuning in, many in their car. Whatever of those four teams or topics is most important, we’re talking about that.

We take a lot of calls, but I like to do it quick, keep it fresh so it doesn’t linger. We come at sports with a more tabloid approach, having both worked at the Boston Herald. We’re not radio guys, we’re not broadcasters. But we can drive a sports segment. I don’t do second and third sports topics. I try to stick to the top two stories of the day. We don’t worry about keeping it fresh. It’s fresh for the guy getting in his car at five o’ clock.

I hate guests. Guests slow us down. We used to have Cam Neely, he got so sick of our shit that he quit. We don’t bring on beat guys. I hate doing phone interviews because the phone usually cuts out. If we do talk to people, we like to bring them in the studio.

Embrace debate? – We don’t talk beforehand. We have an email chain, but are always saying “Don’t talk, don’t talk.” Because, as you know, it’s so hard to go through it the second time. Tony and I don’t argue much. We tend to agree. I think the debate stuff can be overrated. But taking on fans, like the Baby Patriot fans, the Celtics fans we call “the Green Teamers,” that’s where the arguing comes in.

Fred Toucher – 98.5 The Sports Hub
We don’t reset as much on our show. Coming from rock radio probably influences that. But we don’t do take-driven radio, we don’t take phone calls. Mike’s show works much better in the afternoon as people are into the day. We have a much more passive audience in the morning.

We do a lot of stupid shit. Drunk fans. People in their driveway staring at a squirrel. I can’t do four hours of serious sports content like Mike. If we were on in the afternoon, we wouldn’t do nearly as well.

The six o’ clock hour is just nonsense, whatever is on our minds. Then we’ll get into the news of the day. We’ll have guests, but they have to be good on the air. The way our show works, Rich will bring something up and I will react to it.

The importance of sharing your life – I had to explain that I was going away. I was going to rehab. But I try to censor a lot of that now. My kids are older. But I was going through a bad time. We were at the height of COVID. Things weren’t going well at home. You have a relationship with the listeners and I found that extremely helpful when I came back. My suggestion is to not overshare on the air. That’s a mistake. I’ve put the brakes on that.

11:50-12:15 – BSM Summit Awards Ceremony presented by

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The Champion’s AwardAdam Schefter, ESPN

Adam Schefter’s efforts in raising money for Jeff Dickerson’s son, Parker after he passed away, reaching out to the media community, to generate a tremendous amount of support is recognized.

Schefter was unable to attend the BSM Summit because he’s covering the NFL Draft Combine, but thanked those who donated on Parker’s behalf via video. The breathtaking number of donations was an example of the good social media can do, he said. Schefter dedicates the award to them.

The Jeff Smulyan AwardTraug Keller, former SVP of ESPN Radio

A video tribute to Jeff Smulyan includes many personalities from the radio world who credit him for creating the sports talk format at WFAN. The award in his honor goes to someone who has led, taken risks, and produced results in the industry. Smulyan then takes the stage to introduce Traug Keller, joking that he objected to Keller being chosen because he doesn’t work in radio.

“There is no one who is more deserving of this award than Traug Keller,” Smulyan said. Leading ESPN Audio, Keller expanded the brand beyond radio to television (via simulcast) and podcasting, creating a product that has made a major impact on the sports audio industry.

Accepting the Smulyan Award, Keller notes the “great seats” he’s had during his career at ESPN and praises the many people he’s worked with who have helped him in his success. Keller makes a comparison to this season’s Providence College basketball team and how he’s noticed that they’ve won because they enjoy working with each other. It’s something that applies to his career and something we all can learn from in our respective endeavors.

The 2022 BSM Summit takes a one-hour lunch, and then returns for the second half, led off by a conversation with ESPN’s top boss, Jimmy Pitaro.

1:30-2:15 – The Day 1 Keynote Conversation presented by

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  • Jimmy Pitaro – ESPN Chairman

Jason Barrett begins by asking Pitaro by asking when the Derek Jeter Cast starts and if Tom Brady will join ESPN’s NFL talent crew. Pitaro won’t comment on exact moves, but points out that the network’s inventory of NFL telecasts is increasing with its new rights deal, including more regular-season and playoff games, in addition to two upcoming Super Bowls.

The state of ESPN+ – Pitaro says the ESPN app is crucial to the network, the jewel of its content. It provides access to ESPN+ and ESPN Audio. ESPN+ is driven by live events, including exclusive UFC and La Liga events. The network will continue pursuing more rights for ESPN+, in addition to its studio shows.

In his view, ESPN needs to boost its marketing strategy for the 30 for 30 catalog, which he feels not enough people know is available on ESPN+. Pitaro believes 30 for 30 needs to be promoted by Disney along with Marvel and Star Wars content.

The future of alternate broadcasts – The “ManningCast” is a rising tide. ESPN’s internal data shows viewers switch back and forth between the regular Monday Night Football broadcast and the “ManningCast.” Golf, college football, and UFC are among the other sports that will get alternate broadcasts as part of ESPN’s deal with Omaha Productions.

“Serve the sports fan any time, anywhere.” Alternate broadcasts are a big part of ESPN’s future.

ESPN’s relationship with the NFL – Pitaro is proud of the new rights deal with the league that’s increased the inventory available to viewers and also provided the opportunity for flex scheduling that didn’t exist with previous deals. But relationships can always be improved, and ESPN will continue trying to do that. (He believes the narrative that ESPN needed to “fix” things with the NFL when he took over as the network’s president was overblown.)

Pitaro isn’t worried about over-saturation of the NFL product. If Amazon does well with Thursday Night Football, in Pitaro’s view, that helps ESPN and Monday Night Football. There was concern years ago that there was too much NFL product being offered and maybe there was some fan fatigue. But that no longer appears to be a question and ESPN is in a good position to benefit — and continue to benefit from its relationship to the NFL.

ESPN Radio’s constantly changing lineup – Stability is important. Listeners and programmers want to know that a show, a lineup of talent, will be consistent for a long term. The network feels good about its current lineup, that it’s close to stability. The deal with Good Karma Brands will help with local programming, which is still a priority for the network in addition to national content.

ESPN should be present on all platforms, traditional radio and podcasts. Terrestrial radio is as important now as it was 30 years ago, when ESPN Radio launched. It’s no different than ESPN is doing with linear television and streaming with ESPN+. Parallel paths is the philosophy.

The state of television measurement – ESPN will not shift away from Nielsen to measure ratings. The network signed up for the NielsenOne product. But there needs to be cross-platform data. The audience has to be tracked and data provided to advertisers through a number of services, not just one. ESPN will benefit from multiple partners.

2:15-2:50 – Inside The Corner Office presented by

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  • Chris Oliviero – Audacy New York
  • Mike Thomas – Audacy Boston
  • Joe Bell – Beasley Media Group Philadelphia
  • Scott Sutherland – Bonneville International

Chris Oliviero – Audacy New York
Lessons from the pandemic – Losing revenue, losing listeners during the pandemic was humbling. I hope we take that humility into what we’re doing now and into the future. Not panicking may have been the most important lesson learned.

The importance of play-by-play for a station – Play-by-play deals can’t be made emotionally. Think of it logically. Radio play-by-play is much different from television play-by-play. Hardly any play-by-play airs during radio’s most important times, so the majority of content budget can’t be spent on something that doesn’t broadcast during non-prime hours.

Retaining and hiring talent – Don’t wait until the last minute to renew a contract. If you know the talent is special, why play that game of chicken? Don’t run the risk of someone coming along and snatching that talent away. And don’t risk hurting relationships.

Mike Thomas – Audacy Boston
Lessons from the pandemic – The pandemic helped digital growth tremendously. Our listeners are not in their cars anymore, which was their No. 1 place for hearing us. With smart phones and smart speakers, there’s been a major change in the audience.

Retaining and hiring talent – As there are more options for listeners, there are many more options for talent too. Some of the most talented guys are doing podcasts now. If you like the talent, growing that relationship over a number of years is vital.

Joe Bell – Beasley Media Group Philadelphia
Lessons from the pandemic – Reaching out to clients during the pandemic, asking them how we could help, strengthened our relationships with advertisers.

The importance of play-by-play for a station – Play-by-play begins by having a true relationshp with the team whose broadcasts we’re pursuing. Play-by-play is important to the success of a sports station, as we’re seeing with James Harden joining the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s really driving sports talk in our market.

2:50-3:25 – The BIG 12 presented by

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  • Raj Sharan – 104.3 The Fan
  • Sandy Cohen – Union Broadcasting
  • Ryan Hurley – 98.7 ESPN NY
  • Rod Lakin – Sports Radio WIP

How did programmers extend their brand, generate engagement to take advantage of interest or provide a boost during slow times, and create stronger relationships with advertisers?

Raj Sharan – 104.3 The Fan
We launched campaigns with the Avalanche and Nuggets, both of whom were great with cooperation and showed interest in reaching fans online. Video became vital to creating these campaigns. We could create video around our regular radio shows, but also produce original programming for the website, but also Facebook and Twitter. But on-air talent is important. You really need the right host and we had that with Rachel Vigil.

Sandy Cohen – Union Broadcasting
Campaigns are built around events, such as the Kansas City Chiefs season. That included video studio programming. Listeners and viewers responded, and so did advertisers when they toured the studio and saw the online product. We can create a space for a client to be an anchor sponsor. But finding the right sponsor who sees a potential audience is key.

Ryan Hurley – 98.7 ESPN NY
Our jobs are to entertain and to create revenue. Events have helped attract listeners and clients. Some events were exclusives for listeners who won spots on the air. Spaces are created for clients in the campaigns.

Weekly paid guests also have live appearances in their deals. For instance, Sam Darnold (when he played for the Jets) did a private Zoom during COVID. Technology created opportunities to get creative with promotions, even when people couldn’t meet in public. Such events became in-person once it was safe, as we did with Michael Kay.

Rod Lakin – Sports Radio WIP
A virtual tailgate experience was successful for us when I was at Arizona Sports. Exclusive Zoom calls with on-air hosts and special NFL guests. Analysts could come by and join the tailgate. Listeners could win prize packs. Sponsors responded as listeners showed interest and support.

The end of the Philadelphia Eagles’ season created an opportunity after the Super Bowl. Fans were upset and wanted to talk about who the new quarterback could be. “94 WIP Picks the QB” involved listeners and staff making their pitches for the Eagles’ next quarterback. Fans could vote in a poll online. A particular show could be centered on a particular candidate, like Aaron Rodgers. And it built toward Angelo Cataldi making his pick at the end of the campaign. It worked well in generating interest during a typically slow time.

A brief timeout for attendees to recharge, and then we’re back to close up Day 1 of the Summit with two more excellent sessions.

3:40-4:15 – Planting Your Flag In a Digital World presented by

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  • Kevin Jones – Blue Wire
  • Logan Swaim – The Volume
  • Carl Scott – Meadowlark Media
  • Phil Mackey – Hubbard Radio

Carl Scott – Meadowlark Media
Key to making brand stand out – Authenticity is key in breaking through the noise. Be media-agnostic. The best screen wins. Be efficient with your talent. Not every host or show is suited for every platform. But some, like Dan Le Batard, works across platforms.

Value of live content in an on-demand space – Live events make a precious thing for us. It’s an opportunity for fans to get together, create excitement for the two times a week that Dan does a live show on YouTube. We can also create content around live events, like leading up to the Super Bowl or the national championship game.

When you know something isn’t working – I like to look at weekly downloads, where you should see some increase if something is doing well. Is it moving upward, especially if there are more shows available and people can binge? If people decide they don’t want to listen to more, that’s usually a sign.

Logan Swaim – The Volume
Biggest opportunity to connect with the audience – Barriers to entry have disappeared. In the past, to find talent, you’d have to be an exec who gets tapes. There were steps to follow to discover talent or have talent reach you. Now, with social media, we can find talent much more easily, sometimes almost unintentionally.

Value of live content in an on-demand space – With YouTube and live content, you’re creating appointment television. There’s an immediacy, an excitement behind that. Live also creates a community of online fans who like to talk shit to each other, consume something in real time.

Kevin Jones – Blue Wire
The role of video – We’re finding our most success, discovering talent on Tik Tok. On YouTube, we’re looking more for existing creators, someone who covers Syracuse basketball, as an example, not trying to figure out a fit.

Predictions for sports media content – Amazon, Apple, and Hulu are getting more into national video content because they don’t have a local component. You’re going to see those companies get into live sports in a big way, which they’ve already started. As those large companies snatch up big broadcast rights, that creates spaces to work in for new content.

When you know something isn’t working – We’ve had some projects that we had to take out behind the barn and say goodbye to. Downloads probably tell you, especially early on, if there’s an audience. But we’ve shut some things down when they didn’t do what we hoped.

4:15-4:50 – Finding Diverse Leaders and Influencers presented by

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  • Pablo Torre – ESPN
  • David Roberts – ESPN
  • Debbie Brown – Good Karma Brands

As the population becomes less white, local radio stations, on-air talent, and program directors need to reflect that change. More new blood needs to be discovered and hired. Right now, on-air hosts aren’t adjusting with the times. If the audience is changing, programming needs to adapt to the market.

Pablo Torre – ESPN
This is not a profession I ever thought I would be in. People would hear I worked at ESPN and assumed I worked in tech support, not writing or on the air. But don’t make diverse hires just because you feel guilty. There are plenty of candidates out there who don’t need that.

I’m earnestly grateful to hear from people who tell me that I’ve shown them that this is a possible career for them, which is something they didn’t think before. Every time I get that kind of message from a young person, it means the world to me.

David Roberts – ESPN
Diversity in radio – There’s room for improvement. The numbers underscore the opportunity available. Diversity is not just something done to check a box. It’s something that can help your business. Commitment to diversity requires that the net for applicants be broad.

Using Get Up as an example, it drew an audience of 15 percent African American at first. But the numbers told us the audience was 45 percent. So we had to change and as more faces of color got on those shows — the Stephen A. Smiths, the Marcus Spears — the audience grew. People want to see people like them on the screen.

Looking for talent in local markets – Instead of just going to minority conferences or sending minority talent there to recruit, attend those conferences. You need to go and recruit, meet the people who could make a future impact. Maybe that talent won’t resonate, but the playing field has been leveled and then you can make decisions the way you did before.

Debbie Brown – Good Karma Brands
On prioritizing representation – In the past, hiring might be based on who you’d like to have a beer with. That doesn’t apply anymore. We’re doing well, but we can do better. Representation has to be at the top. The table has to be bigger.

We’re in the process of updating our internship program. Previously, it was an unpaid internship program but that really limits the number of candidates who can apply. So we’re changing to a paid program to attract a greater number of applicants. And we’re expanding the pool to community colleges, areas where we may not have heard from before, not just the largest universities.

When we identify a candidate, we have them talk to a number of other people in that organization, usually four other people, and look at them for a variety of roles to see if they could be good for other jobs they may not have considered. It’s also important that the people they talk to are diverse, to open everyone up to a variety of experience.

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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