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The “Dive Right In” Approach

Jason Barrett




There’s an old familiar saying that I’m sure you’ve heard at least once in your lifetime – “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks“. As hokey as it may be, some in our business believe that to be true when it comes to trying to change the views of some of sports talk radio ‘s most familiar voices. Whether it’s a difficult task or not though is irrelevant because change has already begun and listeners are now in control more than they’ve ever been before.

In today’s radio world of PPM measurement, we’ve learned that listeners with meters tune-in often but not for long periods of time. This means they’re looking for a reason to connect with the on-air personalities and the content provided. When it isn’t there, they’ll seek out other options and they’ll waste no time doing so.

insanityQuite honestly, this is something we’re all guilty of. Our patience is thin, distractions are popping up everywhere and if we’re not engaged immediately then someone else has an opportunity to steal us away. Yet while this becomes a huge challenge for radio broadcasters, I can’t begin to tell you how many shows and hosts I’ve observed over the past few years who think they can keep doing the same thing they’ve always done and have no problem delivering better results.

What I want to focus on today is what I call the “Dive Right In” approach. In simple terms, this means get right into your content at the start of the segment and don’t waste time.

Sounds simple right? But as you’ll see later on in this piece, not everyone does it and I guarantee you that if you listen to some of the most notable shows and hosts in your market today, you’ll find that they’re guilty of wasting time too.

US swimmer Michael Phelps competes durinTo paint a picture for you, think of a professional swimmer. When they walk into the pool area they waste no time diving head first into the water. They don’t stand over the side and dip their toes in to see what the water feels like and whether or not they want to swim in it. They just dive in and start swimming.

Now relate that to the start of a segment on sports talk radio. How many times do you put a show on and hear the personality waste 3-4 minutes of time starting off a segment by talking about what they did during the commercial break, how lovely the weather is outside, what they plan to eat for dinner and what they plan to watch on TV later tonight?

It happens all the time and yet PPM is showing us that we often have listeners at the front of segments coming to us to to consume our programming yet leaving quickly because of our inability to get into the subject matter quickly. It’s a fast paced world and people expect you to deliver content with a purpose and in quick fashion. If you don’t, you’re going to have a tougher time keeping them around.

Building-Momentum-LogoI’ve heard some hosts say “sometimes you have to build up momentum, set the scene, relax and then get into things” and that sounds good to the person saying it but for the person consuming the content who wants something good right now and only has a limited amount of time to spend with you, they’re going to tune someone else in who can deliver if you can’t. They’re in control, not us.

Put yourself in the shoes of your audience for a second. You just sat thru a 4-minute commercial break which likely had 6-10 different commercials run. You also consumed one station promo which was likely :30 seconds, sat through a sports update which was 1-2 minutes long and then endured a station liner leading into the segment followed by a music bed.

That is roughly 6-8 minutes of time before the host even opened their mouth to speak and now you’re expecting the listener to wait another 3-4 minutes before you finally offer a great opinion or piece of insight they can’t get anywhere else?

impatiencePeople are telling us they like our format, our style, our content selection and the presentation of our shows when they give us 2 minutes of time at the start of a segment. What they’re not giving us though is ratings credit that we rightfully deserve but that’s on us because we’re wasting valuable time.

We need 5 minutes for their listening to count but we stand no chance of gaining that time if we throw away the start of our segments. To expect a listener to wait 11 minutes before you finally strike gold is foolish. By the time you stumble on to something special, they’ll have changed the channel and missed it.

Rather than just type if out I thought it would be helpful to show some examples so I pulled some audio from a few national shows.

Keep in mind, these personalities and their shows overall are very good. What we’re focusing on here is the urgency of diving into content, not the show in general. Everyone has different approaches and this just highlights some who implement the “Dive Right In” approach and some who don’t.

stevegormanExample #1 is from the “Steve Gorman Sports” show on Fox Sports Radio. Click on this link and listen to the start of the 2nd hour.

Steve Gorman Sports Podcast Page

When you listen to the audio you’ll find that it takes nearly 1:30 before the show dives into a subject (Byron Scott hired as Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers) and once they do, Steve gives his opinion on the hiring, provides some good insight on the story and offers some personal details regarding his growing up a fan of the Lakers during the Showtime era. It’s a popular national topic and they do a solid job with it but waiting 1:30 to attack it is too long. That can often be the difference in a listener being there to consume it or already being on to another station.

Let’s take a listen to another example. This one is of Jorge Sedano filling in on “The Herd“.


JorgeSedanoIn this example, Sedano wastes no time identifying the subject and gets quickly into his position on it. Instantly as a listener you know it’s a popular subject (Ray Rice suspension) and after sitting thru a long break, you’re given a pay off because Jorge doesn’t make you wait to know where he stands on the story. Overall I thought Jorge executed the approach very well and put himself in good position to gain credit from his audience. Equally as important, it was rewarding for the listener who either stuck around or came back to consume the content.

So now that we’ve covered Fox Sports and ESPN Radio, let’s take a listen to CBS Sports. Here’s an example from the Jim Rome Show.


jimromeIn this example, the music runs :27 seconds before Jim says his first word. Then while he hooks you with a good line “I see this guy working“, the subject focus becomes an email from a listener, followed by another email and then a call and it takes over 3 minutes until we get a strong take from Jim on the Ray Rice material.

Getting the audience involved is a good thing and Jim does it as well as anyone but I don’t believe the audience should drive the content, I believe the host should. When Jim delivers opinions they’re usually interesting and entertaining so I’d just prefer to reverse the structure and have Jim  set the tone by coming out of the gate red hot with his thoughts and then use the reaction to fuel it further. It puts him more in control of the content direction and if you’ve ever listened to Jim, you know that when he gets going it can be some outstanding radio.

I’ll close up with this last piece of audio and it’s from Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio. I find this piece fascinating for two reasons. First, he gets right into the material without wasting time. Secondly, the points he raises have a strong connection to the items I’ve raised in this article. Take a listen.


colincowherdColin brings up great points about technology changing everything and people having different expectations today than they did in the past. This is an A.D.D world we’re in and people expect you to grab their attention fast or they’re following Jay-Z’s words and moving “on to the next one“.

As a host, producer and/or programmer, you should feel encouraged because the passion and interest in your brand of content is strong from the audience. What isn’t as easy though is getting an audience to stick around. If you want to deliver ratings and continue to earn raises and hopefully ratings bonuses, you can’t afford to waste time when people are giving it to you.

If there’s one thing to take away from this article, it’s that it’s not always about whether or not your content is good or your opinions are well thought out. That’s part of the process but getting into things quickly is equally, if not more important. People are impatient and the amount of distractions around them are only going to increase in the future. Help yourself by being prepared, focused and ready to dive right in when your segments start. After all, those who just dip their toes in the water never get to experience the pleasures of swimming in the pool.


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Rachel Nichols and Baron Davis Headline Final Speaker Announcements For the 2023 BSM Summit

“I’m sure Baron and Rachel will have all eyes and ears focused on them when they take the stage together next Tuesday at 2:45pm PT.”

Jason Barrett




The 2023 BSM Summit schedule is set. After months of planning and talking to everyone across the industry, I’m ecstatic to roll out next week’s agenda including making one final announcement involving seven great additions to our conference.

For starters, it is a pleasure to welcome Showtime’s Rachel Nichols to the BSM Summit. I’ve admired her work on television for years, and am thrilled to have her guiding a session which I think many in the room are going to really enjoy.

Rachel’s guest will be former NBA star Baron Davis. Baron runs his own company, Baron Davis Enterprises, and he has been active in investing in media brands, and exploring ways to evolve the industry. Among his areas of passion, athletes taking more control of their brands, and the media industry needing to improve its track record with diversity. I’m sure Baron and Rachel will have all eyes and ears focused on them when they take the stage together next Tuesday at 2:45pm PT.

Also joining the Summit are a few longtime industry friends. For starters, VSiN’s program director Jon Goulet is someone who I’ve known and worked with, and he understands the sports betting audio space extremely well. Jon and BetQL VP of Programming Mitch Rosen will spend time with another industry friend, Bryan Curtis of The Ringer. Collectively they’ll examine the state of sports betting audio on Tuesday March 21st from 3:35p-4:10p, and what they look for when it comes to sports betting talent, and how they determine what is and isn’t success in the sports gambling content world.

With Mitch taking part in the sports betting panel, Jeff Rickard of WFNZ in Charlotte steps into The Programmer’s Panel alongside Jimmy Powers, John Mamola and Raj Sharan. The session is scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd from 9:10a-9:45a PT. Ironically, all four of these programmers work for different companies, so it’ll be interesting to hear how they differ and where they align while navigating through a few sports radio programming topics.

Next, I’m excited to introduce a social media session with Karlo Sy Su of ESPN Los Angeles and Matthew Demeke of AM 570 LA Sports. If you look at the performance of their brands on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook, they’ve each delivered strong audiences and engagement. I’m looking forward to hosting this one and learning about their processes, how they decide which platforms to focus on most, what they consider a social media win when analyzing social statistics, and how they develop their content process. Given our location, we’re calling the session ‘Social Media Goes Hollywood‘. It’s scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd from 3:35-4:10 PT.

I realize you’re not going to remember all of these session speakers and times off the top of your head, so to make it easier, log on to and scroll down past our speakers. That’s where you’ll find our detailed list of sessions/times and activities planned each day. We have eighteen sessions, two awards ceremonies, and two parties. Our kickoff party is presented by the WWE and takes place Monday March 20th from 7p-9p at the 1880 Founders Room. The ESPN Radio After Party takes place Tuesday March 21st from 6p-8p at the Lab Gastropub. Both party locations are in walking distance of the USC Hotel and our conference venue.

As an added bonus, thanks to the generosity of our friends at WWE, we will be giving away a pair of tickets to the first night of WrestleMania, and a WWE title at our kickoff party. WrestleMania takes place this year in Los Angeles at Sofi Stadium on March 25-26. You must be present at the kickoff party to win either prize.

We’ll have more to share next week including providing an ongoing blog with session news and notes for our readers. We’ll also have a ton of content available on our social media channels so if you’re not following @BSMStaff on Twitter, @BarrettSportsMedia on Facebook or @BarrettMedia on LinkedIn, what are you waiting for?

The focus now shifts to finishing our creative for next week’s show, sending information to our speakers for their sessions, and finalizing our attendees list. For those who are attending, we’ll be sending out an email on Friday or Saturday with a complete list of names of who’s coming so you can plan meetings in advance.

If you forgot to buy your ticket after seeing months of promotion about the event and meant to do so, you can still do that, but it costs more. Students on the other hand can take advantage of a low rate established for college kids at

Putting this event together isn’t easy, but I’m extremely pleased with how it’s come together. We have a lot of smart, talented, and accomplished people making time to be part of this, and I appreciate each and every one of them for doing so. Now, it’s all about the execution. Hope to see you next week in LA.

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Sports Broadcasting Icon Al Michaels To Be Honored at the 2023 BSM Summit

“This is a man who has spent more than five decades on your television screen calling the biggest games, and producing some of the most iconic moments sports has to offer.”

Jason Barrett




If you work in the sports media industry you’ve likely heard someone along the way utter the phrase “don’t bury the lead“. I’m usually good about following that advice but I didn’t do that at our 2022 BSM Summit.

We introduced the greatest tandem in sports radio history, Mike Francesa and Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo and it was a special half hour. Mike and the Mad Dog were reunited after seven years apart and every individual at the event knew they were witnessing something magical on stage. I created a Mike and the Mad Dog Award for the event, which went to Felger and Mazz, who were the absolute right choice to win it. Even Chris remarked ‘that’s the right call‘.

But I learned quickly that although the intention was right in honoring the industry’s current top performing show, when you have legends in the room and they’re in their element, the last thing you want to do is overcrowd them. The connection Mike and Chris had on the air became the gold standard by which we measure successful sports talk shows, and they didn’t need an award created to deliver a special moment, just two mics and 20-30 minutes of stage time.

As I began thinking about the 2023 BSM Summit, I knew there was an opportunity to build on what we started last year with Mike and Chris, and after talking to a few people who I trust and respect, the decision of who we would recognize became crystal clear. I believe it’s important to honor the greats in our business because those who leave a permanent mark on our industry deserve it. The man we’ve selected has spent more than five decades on your television screen calling the biggest games, and producing some of the most iconic moments sports has to offer. He’s worked with the best of the best inside the booth, has helped elevate the presentation and execution of in-game content for ABC, NBC and Amazon, and his call of the Miracle on Ice, the US Olympic hockey team’s 1980 gold medal win over Russia remains one of the best calls in the history of sports.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored and privileged to share that Al Michaels will join us on Wednesday March 22nd at the 2023 BSM Summit for our awards presentation, where we will present him with BSM’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michaels is one of America’s most respected sports broadcasting voices, known for his exceptional work on Monday Night Football (1986-2005), Sunday Night Football (2006-2022) and Thursday Night Football (2022-Present). He’s called the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, Hagler-Hearns, the Olympics, the Indy 500, Horse Racing’s Triple Crown races, College Football and Basketball games, Golf, and more. He’s even held roles as the voice of the University of Hawaii, the Cincinnati Reds, and the San Francisco Giants, and was in the booth in 1989 when an earthquake rocked the Bay Area during Game 3 of the A’s-Giants world series.

The Brooklyn native turned Los Angeles resident has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and owns a ton of hardware including five sports Emmy’s, three NSMA Sportscaster of the Year honors, the 2013 Pete Rozelle Radio & Television Award distributed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award given out by the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Though his trophy case may be full, we’re excited to add another to his collection to show our appreciation and respect for the impact he’s made on the sports media business.

A quick reminder, the BSM Summit takes place on Tuesday March 21st and Wednesday March 22nd at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California. Tickets are on-sale at

Be advised, we have started adding sessions and times on the website. As always, the schedule is subject to change. Our final agenda will be posted by the end of next week. In addition, attendees will receive an email by next Friday with details of who will be in attendance. We hope to see you there.

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Rob Parker, Brian Long, Sean Thompson and Matt Fishman Join The BSM Summit Speaker Lineup

“I’m excited to welcome a few folks who have enjoyed success in different parts of the country, and in different areas of the business.”

Jason Barrett




As we gear up for our 5th annual BSM Summit on March 21-22, 2023, I’m starting to get a better feel for how the final puzzle may look. When this process starts I have no idea how it’s going to turn out because so much depends on who says yes and no. Many who’ve attended over the years have complimented our lineups, and I appreciate it because I put a lot of time and effort into featuring a strong mix of professionals from different areas of the industry. Though I’m proud of the work we do and the schedule we deliver, there are so many things pursued leading up to the event that I can’t help but wonder ‘what if this or that had worked out?’

One thing that some folks don’t understand if they haven’t been to the show before is that this is not a talent conference. It’s a sports media business conference. That means we feature radio, TV and digital executives, programmers, researchers, sales professionals, and yes, talent. I believe on-air performers are vital to the industry’s success and I want the best of the best sharing their wisdom with everyone in the room, but we’re also not going to do two full days of on-air conversations. Being successful in sports media requires understanding the on-air side and the business side, and we do our best to offer a blend of both.

For today’s announcement, I’m excited to welcome a few sports media pros who have enjoyed success in different parts of the country, and in different areas of the business.

First, Rob Parker is someone who has made a name for himself as a radio host, writer, TV commentator, and teacher. He’s currently heard weeknights on FOX Sports Radio, teaches students at USC Annenberg, writes for Deadspin, and is helping MLBBro gain awareness and a bigger mainstream media presence covering Major League Baseball. He’s experienced, smart, and never short on opinion. I’m looking forward to having him join Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score/BetQL, and Scott Shapiro of FOX Sports Radio for a session titled “Aircheck On Campus“. They’ll take the stage together on Wednesday March 22nd from 2:10-2:45.

My next three speakers, all come from the sports radio programming department.

Matt Fishman is the Director of Content for ESPN 850 Cleveland. Fishman has been with the brand since January 2020 following stints at SiriusXM, 610 Sports in Kansas City, and 670 The Score in Chicago. He even wrote for BSM for a few years.

Sean Thompson is responsible for programming decisions at Arizona Sports and ESPN 620 AM. He joined the well respected Phoenix brand after more than a decade in Atlanta at 92.9 The Game. Sean has also worked in affiliate relations for Westwood One, and on the air and as a programmer in music radio for Good Karma Brands in Madison, WI.

Brian Long is the program director of both San Diego Sports 760 and KOGO 600 in San Diego. In addition to guiding two of the top talk brands in his market, he has also managed Seattle Sports 710, and served as the Assistant Program Director for ESPN LA 710.

Matt, Sean, and Brian will be part of one of our final sessions on day two of the Summit. The Last Call which yours truly is hosting, will explore unique revenue opportunities created by local brands, and examine a few new ideas and missed opportunities that brands and managers may want to take advantage of in the future.

As of today, the Summit has more than forty accomplished professionals taking the stage at the Founders Club at USC’s Galen Center on March 21-22, 2023. I’ve got a few others still to announce as well, including a few cool giveaways planned for the WWE’s Kickoff party.

If you haven’t bought a ticket and wish to be in the room, visit The last day for ticket sales will be Monday March 13th. I’m hoping to release our final schedule of sessions on Tuesday March 14th. Hopefully I’ll see you in the city of angels.

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