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2014 = A Time of Change In Sports Radio

Jason Barrett




The sports radio format has enjoyed great growth and success over the past few years and remains well positioned for a healthy 2015 but while the future looks bright for the format, change has been the dominant word to describe what’s transpired in 2014. From local to national, everywhere you turn. change has been front and center.

GilbertBigFirst let’s take a look at the national level. When the year started, Bruce Gilbert was overseeing Clear Channel and Premiere’s Sports brands, Scott Masteller was programming at ESPN Radio Network, Stephen A. Smith was doing local radio for ESPN NY, Rich Eisen was focused solely on his NFL Network duties and CBS featured TBD in the AM and John Feinstein in middays.

As the year ends, Gilbert has since been named SVP of Cumulus and Westwood One Sports, Don Martin took over Gilbert’s spot with Clear Channel and Premiere, Masteller exited ESPN Radio, Stephen A was hired to host for Sirius’ Mad Dog Radio channel, Eisen ventured into national sports talk radio by joining the Fox Sports Radio lineup and CBS added Gregg Giannotti and Brian Jones to mornings and moved Brandon Tierney and Tiki Barber to middays while parting with Feinstein and Dana Jacobsen.

changes2While that’s certainly a lot of change nationally, it’s even heavier on the local end. Look across each major market and you’re bound to find at least 1 sports station’s lineup impacted.

For example, 60 The Fan and 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, WEEI in Boston, The Score in Chicago, ESPN Los Angeles, ESPN New York, WIP and 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, Mighty 1090 and XTRA 1360 in San Diego, 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, 710 ESPN in Seattle and WQAM in Miami all made changes to their lineup this year. Go beyond the top 20 markets and you’ll find even more of it.

Next, let’s take a look at what corporations did in 2014 to become more involved with the format.

cbsbeasleyFirst, CBS swapped properties with Beasley Broadcasting, acquiring sports station WQAM in Miami. Beasley landed The Fan in Charlotte and The Fan in Tampa as part of the trade. Also dealt were some smaller AM signals and the once powerful 610AM signal in Philadelphia. Beasley acquired those outlets. Beasley then elected to drop the sports format in Tampa and is launching a new format on January 5th.

Secondly, Entercom acquired 15 stations from Lincoln Financial which put them in control of sports radio stations 104.3 The Ticket in Miami, 790 The Zone in Atlanta and 104.3 The Fan in Denver. Entercom has announced they will divest 104.3 The Fan due to FCC regulations in the Denver market.

877Third, Tribune Media came out of the gate looking good with the launch of 87.7 The Game in Chicago but by year’s end, the company pulled the plug on the radio station siting an inability to generate enough advertising revenue and ratings to support the station. The company was further damaged on the PR side for the way its employees found out about the company dropping the format (thru an article on social media).

Fourth, Los Angeles added a fourth sports station with the addition of The Beast 980. Programmed by Owen Murphy, the station offers a mixture of local and national programming as well as the broadcast rights to the Los Angeles Clippers. It’ll be interesting to see how the 4 sports talkers in Los Angeles stack up in 2015.

On a smaller scale, Sirius also made a move to add a new channel with the creation of Bleacher Report radio. While the website itself has become a destination for sports fans the past few years, the radio channel is only a few months old and not familiar to most as of yet.

change-nothingIf you glance over those changes above (and I’m likely forgetting some others) there was a lot of movement during the past 12 months. However, one of the main reasons why this industry continues to thrive is because sports radio operators locally and nationally have not been afraid to take risks and challenge themselves to do better. It may not always be comfortable or popular but if the goal is to improve, sometimes difficult decisions are required.

Nobody knows more about change this year than myself. Over the past year, I changed 3 of my 4 primetime shows (M-F 6a-7p) including something I hadn’t had to do in my previous 17 years in the business, change a morning show 3x in one full calendar year. Was it how we drew it up at the start of the year? No. But sometimes in life and this format, adversity strikes, and when it does you’ve got two choices – A) rise up and make things better or B) put your head down and wallow in self pity.

changeWhile it may have been bumpy, uncomfortable and mentally taxing along the way, 2014 produced the best results we’ve had in San Francisco since we launched 95.7 The Game. While most people prefer the same routine and path of least resistance, sometimes you have to roam thru the woods into foreign territory to end up in paradise.

Sports radio as a format has the potential to reach millions of people each day and generate large ad dollars given its ability to provide sponsor inclusion in everything we do. The format is seen mostly in a positive light by advertisers and it’s one of the few formats that people feel they have to experience LIVE. That gives us an edge over other formats which are fighting negative content associations or becoming more than just background noise. To say that opportunity lies ahead on an even larger scale for our format in the new year would be a massive understatement.

etuOn that note, it’s time now to put 2014 in our rear view mirror and look ahead to what lies ahead in 2015. Judging by what I’ve witnessed over the past year in this format, I’d expect more unpredictability and risk taking. I see that as a good thing.

If you’ve listened to stations who perform this brand of sports talk content or if you work in the format itself, you can quickly see the emotional connection that exists between the audience and the radio station’s personalities. That connection from user to content provider is one of the many reasons why I along with many others love being part of this machine. Now that’s something I don’t see changing!

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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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