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“Managing Up” Is Part of the Game

Jason Barrett




If you’re a basketball fan then you’ll likely remember what occurred on May 7, 2014. On that day, current ESPN NBA Analyst Mark Jackson was let go as Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors despite producing a 121-109 record and back to back playoff appearances for the franchise for the first time since 1990-1992. Mark had shown an ability to connect with his players and get the club to play defense (which had been a foreign word before his arrival) and in a business which is measured by results, Jackson had clearly demonstrated he could deliver them.

So if the results were there and the trust with his team on the court was sound, why on earth would a change be made? Warriors Owner Joe Lacob answered that question during the team’s press conference that day and while it might not have been a popular response, his words spoke to a situation that every single one of us in the broadcasting business face each day, yet likely forget. Lacob was quoted as saying the following:

“Managing down, managing to his players, obviously a pretty good job. Most of his players seemed to really like playing for him. They played hard for him. Which is really important in the NBA. I think if you asked him, I think he would realize–maybe give him some time to answer this–that he probably could do a little better job of managing up and sideways, is the way to put it.”

Let that sink in for a second. Jackson in the opinion of the owner had delivered on the court and with the people he’s responsible for managing but he hadn’t built a connection with the one individual who signs his paycheck and ultimately helps decide his coaching fate.

ass kisserNow I’m not raising this point to suggest you should find out the number of your CEO and call him or her tomorrow and I’m not telling you that campaigning outside of your PD or GM’s door is a good idea either. I’m also not suggesting you should start offering up silly compliments or do things out of character which will cause others internally to refer to you going forward as “the ass kisser”. The point here is to help you think for a second of how “managing up” applies to you and your position and which people inside your organization you need to spend time with the most so you can do your job better, earn bigger responsibilities and make your life easier.

For example, how many times as a Board Operator or Producer do you forget to ask your PD for feedback on a topic you built, a feature you tried out or a slick piece of production you created? Do you really think your PD is watching how you ride your levels on the board when you’re taking a show into a break? Do they know every phone call or email you send to land a guest when you produce a talk show? Here let me answer that – NO! They trust that the training they’ve put you through and the feedback they’ve given to you is going to help you do the job the right way.

How many times as a salesperson do you forget to share a good or bad piece of feedback from a meeting you had with a prospective client with your Sales Manager, PD or GM? Heck you’re out there trying to get someone to invest in your sales story, don’t you think the people inside your own building want to hear why it did or didn’t work and offer you some feedback? Take it one step further, how often do you go through your sales pitch with a peer? If you can get them excited about your presentation, doesn’t that make you feel more relaxed and confident when you get in front of a new business or ad agency? If done well they’re likely talking in the halls to others about how good your presentation is and how they plan to copy parts of it to help them with a similar situation.

managing-up-continuumAnd it’s not just on those levels either! Promotions Directors, do you take the time to tell your story to your PD, Sales Manager, GM or anyone who will listen when you create a great promotion or an on the street event? Are you sending out a photo or video recap of your promotions to let everyone in the organization see and feel that something exciting is happening and you’re the one behind it? Do you think most inside your building know the lengths of what you go through to make the radio station fun? Most of the time they see you as the middle person blocking them to the PD or Sales Manager or they think you just coordinate putting the street team at a public location. Is that their fault or yours for not understanding how you benefit the brand?

Maybe you’re buried in the production room creating all sorts of cool imaging that jumps through the speakers and brings the radio station to life yet nobody has an idea that you’re the mastermind behind it because they never see your face or your name in their inbox.

The bottom line, this is something we all face on a regular basis and whether we like it or not, managing up is always a part of the game. Whether it’s GM to CEO, PD to GM, Sales Rep to Sales Manager, Producer to Host or any other position inside your organization, you’ve always got to share your story because otherwise you run the risk of people not knowing how valuable you are or even worse, they tell the story for you and that’s never a good thing.

gamenightLet me share a quick personal experience of when I learned how important managing up is. 10 years ago (yes I’m old, I’m aware) I produced the show GameNight on ESPN Radio and I was having a blast working with John Seibel, Doug Gottlieb, Freddie Coleman, Sean Salisbury, and the countless other guys we’d have step in across the country. While we were doing some fantastic shows, the reality is that we were on the air 7 nights per week from 7p-1a EST and most bosses at ESPN were likely home with their families or at work and wishing they didn’t have to be. That’s not to say we didn’t have some great people paying attention because we did but the amount of attention paid to GameNight versus Mike and Mike or the Dan Patrick Show was very different and rightfully so.

While everyone involved with the show was focused on doing the best show we could, it dawned on me that while the content may be great we still need to let others know how we were improving. If the goal was to one day be good enough to help a show like Mike & Mike, Colin Cowherd or Dan Patrick, we were going to need to push ourselves more and ask for feedback from those who were helping coach those other 3 great shows.

I took it upon myself to start sending out a note each week to everyone involved with the show (which might have taken the crew the entire week to read) to recap some of the positives and some of the areas where we needed improvement. We’d also create an action plan for the upcoming week and go over roles for all involved with the show so we all had something to be working on to help create a great show. I’d then talk weekly with my manager Dave Zaslowsky about where I thought we were making progress and where I needed some coaching help with the crew and I’d pass along some audio examples to help support my positions. After he’d review them we’d do an aircheck session with the hosts to go over it and discuss how to get better next time on-air.

Then last but not least, when we’d introduce something new on the program or if we did something that I felt needed an extra opinion, I’d share it with our leader Bruce Gilbert to see what he thought too. As one of the best minds in the business I valued his input because I knew it would make us better and I wanted him to be aware that I cared about the show and everyone involved. When you know you have people working hard for you on every single shift it makes your job as a leader so much easier and a lot more fun and I wanted Bruce to know we were always going to be on top of things regardless of what time we were on the air.

I felt very uncomfortable reaching out at first because here I was running the night show after battling for 8 years just to get in the door at ESPN but I trusted that he’d recognize I was only trying to help us be better and as long as I didn’t bombard him with too much I felt I’d be alright. Well not only was it welcomed but it was that communication that helped our relationship develop.

In each one of these situations I was managing up. Whether it was taking a leadership role with our on-air talent, bringing in the support staff to give them feedback for how they could help the show, sharing audio with my manager to get him involved or reaching out to the top boss to gain an additional perspective. By doing so it showed everyone I was invested in the show and everyone’s growth and it showed my superiors that I was coaching my crew and always striving to get better to help us deliver a better product and hopefully better results.

managing-up-and-down-v2Now some people in this business may have the opinion that they don’t have time to sell their work or seek out feedback and in some cases that may be true. There are certain on-air personalities who are outstanding on the air and might not want to spend the extra time discussing or reviewing their show. Much like a professional sports team, you have to manage each personality on your roster differently.

That being said I’ve yet to see an on-air personality deliver a 100 share in a market and I don’t know many who don’t like the idea of generating more income for themselves so in my opinion there’s always room to have conversation. I’ll tell you this, most personalities and agents certainly know how to manage up when it comes contract time so doing it during the rest of the year is not impossible.

Where I believe this really matters and makes a big difference though is for those folks inside your organization who are doing the dirty work to help the product perform. From sales to production to traffic to producing, if you’re doing good work sometimes you have to remind people of what you’re excited about and what you’d like some feedback on to get better. You’d be amazed at how valuable that little bit of time spent can benefit you in the long run. In some organizations when you fail to do those kind of little things it can create a much bigger divide, even if your results are good. If you don’t believe me just ask Mark Jackson!

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett




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 For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at

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

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

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Barrett Blogs

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




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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Barrett Blogs

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




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 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 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

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

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