Connect with us
blank

Barrett Blogs

Congrats, Now Train Your Replacement

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

Working in the sports radio industry is a privilege that some of us often take for granted. We get to play in the toy department of life and engage in spirited discussions that are often referred to by industry types as “soap opera for men” and have access to people that most of our friends would pay large sums of money to spend 2 minutes with. We’re not digging ditches or ripping shingles off of roofs and we’re not heading home after each shift talking about how much we dislike our jobs. Face it, we’re pretty lucky….and we get paid to do this!

jblarussaOver the past 10 years of my career I’ve taken road trips with Dan Patrick, talked about coaching and motivating people with Tony LaRussa and Rick Venturi, attended a barbecue at Steve Spagnuolo’s house, sat with Billy Beane and listened to his views on the business of baseball and shared a stage with former Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen. To say I’ve been treated to some special experiences would be a massive understatement but that’s what you become accustomed to when you work in this industry.

While all of that may be fine and dandy and it showcases the extra perks of working in this industry, it’s not as rewarding as making an impact on the people you work with every day. Sure it looks sexy and it sounds cool when starting a conversation with your friends but in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? Not really.

achieveIn my opinion, one thing that matters a great deal is something that not everyone is willing to do – pushing people to get better and to take on bigger career challenges! Not every relationship will be positive but I try to make sure that wherever I work, I leave behind more people who felt like they learned something from me than those who didn’t. If a few friendships are made along the way, that’s icing on the cake.

I’m aware that my personality and style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and every strong leader with strong opinions is going to have critics and fans. I don’t worry about whether or not I’m liked or disliked or if people care to have beers with me outside the work place. My job is to coach people, make them better, deliver results, make sure they’re prepared for the next step in their careers, fight for the brands I represent and by doing that it often leads to earning the respect and trust of those I lead. When I head home each day, that’s what matters to me.

In this industry so many of us are conditioned to compete and it becomes very easy to fall into the trap of worrying about ourselves. We worry first about our own needs, our own paychecks, our ratings, meeting our sales budgets and how we’ll personally be impacted if something around us changes. It’s much harder to think about a co-worker and how we can play a larger role in helping them take the next step in their career.

jbdpCase in point, when I left the Dan Patrick Show to become the first Program Director for SportsTalk 950 in Philadelphia (now 97.5 The Fanatic), Dan wasn’t initially excited for me. He was concerned about how my departure would impact his show and I didn’t blame him. He had a very successful program on the biggest sports radio network in the country and as a team we were starting to gel. Once the smoke cleared and Dan saw that everything would be fine (and probably better, haha) he was able to genuinely wish me well.

That reaction out of people is natural but I believe that each of us sometimes need to be reminded of the bigger picture and how important it is to help someone take steps in their career rather than focus negative energy on how it may impact our own situations. If we’re good at what we do, we’ll be fine regardless of who’s around us. If we use our talents to grow those around us, it speaks even higher volumes about what you stand for as a professional and more importantly as a person.

scottcarlinThat leads me to the headline of this column and how I personally relate to it. In 2002 I was working in Poughkeepsie, NY paying my dues for radio station 1340/1390 ESPN Radio. We had one local afternoon show and I was producing and doing updates on it for about a year. I was making strides inside the workplace and enjoying my role and it led to my Operations Manager Scott Carlin and General Manager Bill Palmeri taking a liking to me.

One day I was called up to Scott’s office and he wanted to talk to me about how we could improve the radio station. Our PD/Afternoon Host had been let go earlier in the day and Scott was of the opinion that if I took on the PD role and afternoon host position we’d get better. I was honored that he and Bill believed in me enough to trust me leading the radio station and I saw it as a great growth step for my career and I gladly accepted the opportunity.

Right after Scott informed me of the salary and shook my hand, he uttered the following words “congratulations, now start training your replacement“. I was confused and asked him if he was referring to making sure we had a new producer and update guy in place to fill my old spot. He smiled and said “No. Make sure you get the next Programmer ready for us“.

jbwpdhConsidering I had worked hard to earn this position and had just been offered the job, I wasn’t thinking straight and the thought of getting someone else ready to do the job wasn’t sitting well. Scott then explained his rationale and once he spoke his piece it all made perfect sense. He told me he knew I’d one day go on to do bigger things and when that opportunity comes my way, it’ll be important for me to make sure that the place I leave behind is in capable hands. The building in Poughkeepsie wasn’t going to change locations so it was my responsibility to prepare others for future opportunities with the company.

I then told him I’d do my best to make sure we had great depth at the radio station and I’d focus my efforts on making sure I made those around me better. That conversation that day made a major impact on me because it taught me that what you leave behind matters and it also influences how people measure you and talk about you long after you’ve left a situation.

giffordSince that day, I have taken great pride in trying to help people advance their careers. When I worked at ESPN Radio as a Producer, I pushed my intern Amanda Gifford to become great. She had natural talent and a great way of communicating with people and she loved being challenged. While she was new to the business I wasn’t going to let that be an excuse to not make an impact. Because she worked her tail off and impressed those around her, she kept moving up the ladder. Today she’s a Program Director for ESPN Radio Network.

jbhossIn St. Louis, I spent 5 years working with Chris “Hoss” Neupert at two different radio stations. I challenged him to showcase his creativity and manage people and collaborated with him on numerous events and ideas. When I left 590 The Fan, KFNS he was named as my replacement and when I left 101 ESPN he wasn’t initially put in as PD but he’s in that position now and nothing makes me happier than seeing him kick ass and take names and knowing I played a small part in helping him reach that level.

jbcrowe2In San Francisco when we launched 95.7 The Game, I knew I needed a partner who understood my way of doing radio and had the passion and desire to run a station in the future. I convinced my former ESPN Radio colleague Jeremiah Crowe to leave Bristol and join me as the radio station’s Executive Producer. Over the next 4 years I challenged him again and again and it helped put him in position to earn a promotion to Assistant Program Director. He’s now ready to become a Program Director either here in San Francisco or somewhere else in the country.

smearAdditionally, some of my former producers have made great strides professionally. John Semar who worked for me at 101 ESPN in St. Louis and 95.7 The Game in San Francisco is now the Executive Producer of CBS Sports 920 in St. Louis. Ben Boyd who produced for me at 101 ESPN is the Executive Producer for KMOX in St. Louis. And my former afternoon producer at 95.7 The Game Kyle Englehart, now holds the Executive Producer title at XTRA Sports 1360 in San Diego.

benboydIn each of their cases, I’ve pushed for them to take on bigger challenges. When Ben came to me at 101 ESPN and asked what he should do when Sirius XM put a bigger opportunity on the table, I told him to take it, even if it meant leaving us where he’d done remarkable work. As it turned out, the Sirius XM situation didn’t last but Ben gained valuable experience from it, and that combined with his strong track record in St. Louis earned him a bigger role with KMOX.

In John’s case, I not only encouraged him to leave St. Louis and join me in San Francisco to take on the challenge of a different show and market, but when he decided St. Louis was where he wanted to live and work and his current boss Tim McKernan asked my advice on hiring him, I told Tim he’d be improving his company immediately by adding John. Tim elected to take my advice and hire John and their partnership has turned out to be very positive.

jbkyleWhen my fellow PD and good friend Brian Long reached out and asked for suggestions on strong candidates to become his right hand man in San Diego, I suggested Kyle without hesitation. Kyle was surprised when I called him to my office to tell him I recommended him for a job back home in San Diego and he was very appreciative that I had done so. While selfishly it would have benefited my station and afternoon show to have him stay, I had to think about what was best for his career. I had faith in my own abilities to create a solution that would keep the station and show in strong shape while allowing Kyle to take the next step in his career and everything has since worked out great for both parties.

parcellstreeSome of my staffs have heard me use the line “graveyards are full of irreplaceable men” and whether that’s ignorance or cockiness on my part can certainly be debated but I believe in the “next person up” mentality. You hear it often in pro football and I believe it translates to radio too. Find me an organization without depth and talented people ready to step up and I’ll show you a losing organization.

louholtztreeNobody is impossible to replace. However, you’ve got to develop your key people and your bench because if you don’t then you’ll never be your best and you won’t help your people reach their full potential. I can accept losing an employee to another company because they did great work and were presented with a growth opportunity. What I dislike is having to part ways with someone because they either didn’t get the job done or conducted themselves unprofessionally.

bryancoxI remember when I covered the NY Jets early in my career and I had a chat with Bryan Cox who told me that Bill Parcells was dogging him after he had an outstanding game. Parcells walked on to the practice field with two gas cans, one which was full and one which was empty. Bill told Bryan “you started as one of these, now you’re the other one, you figure out which one you are“.

Cox was pissed because he was coming off of a great game but the trick worked because he went out that Sunday and played a great game and the Jets won. The following week Bryan told Bill he could kiss him where the sun didn’t shine for suggesting he was on empty and Parcells loved it because he knew he had pushed his player to perform. However, he also gave Bryan some words of wisdom that stuck with me and I use when developing my radio teams.

coxHe told Bryan “never lose sight of the fact that every single day you’re competing for your spot. What you did last game doesn’t guarantee a strong result in the next one. If a day comes and I think your backup, his backup, another teams starter or another teams backup can do the job better than you, you’re not on this field. It’s your job to make sure you bring it every day and give me no reason to look for other alternatives“.

The point of those examples above isn’t to showcase how they’ve each had success in their careers nor is it to pat myself on the back for helping them. It’s to emphasize the importance of looking out for what’s best for your people and doing your part to help them be their very best, even if it means having to lose them at some point. I believe that when you do that and you show people that you care about them and their future, you get more respect and buy in from them. It also sends a strong message to the rest of your employees and other professionals that you’re the type of person worth going through a wall for.

relationshipsWe sometimes forget that people in this business go to work for other people, not companies. Life decisions are made based on who we like, trust, respect and feel we will gain something from. It isn’t just about money, although that sometimes blinds us when accepting positions. When someone comes to work for me, they enter into a partnership with me and the radio station I oversee. Yes the company has certain standards that need to be met and they issue a paycheck and benefits but the day to day decision making comes from the person you work for. That relationship normally dictates how long you stay in a position and whether or not you enjoy the experience.

Not everything I’ve done over the years has been endorsed by the companies I’ve worked for but the majority of my employers have respected and trusted my approach and I’ve been lucky more times than not to work for good companies and good people who empower me to make decisions. It’s then my job as a manager to make smart choices that are best for the brand and our people. I take both of those priorities very seriously and I treat them equally important.

jbburwellEven when I’ve parted ways with people in this business, it’s never personal unless someone wants it to be that way. In many cases I’ve worked with people multiple times. Case in point, the late and great Bryan Burwell worked for me twice in St. Louis. Bob Ramsey, Chris Neupert and Sara Dayley did as well. In San Francisco the same holds true for Mychael Urban, Dan Dibley, Drew Hoffar and Matt Steinmetz. If I believe someone can help the organization and they’ve conducted themselves professionally, regardless of the prior situation it’s my job to do what’s best for the radio station. If I think they can help us get better, I don’t hesitate to re-open the door.

strongpeepsIf there’s something to take away from this article it’s that I hope if you work in this industry that you recognize how important it is to make lasting impressions on people and lift them up to your level (and hopefully beyond it) rather than keeping them stagnant. A disruption is never ideal and maybe the solution won’t be as good but it’s not the end of the world or your career. If you’re smart, talented, willing to put the work in and help people improve, you’ll be just fine!

If you value those around you and challenge them to get better, they will. When they do, they’ll likely get scooped up or they’ll rise inside your company. Their job is to make sure they’ve prepared their replacement. Because as I learned in 2002, the building doesn’t relocate!

Barrett Blogs

Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, Don Martin, Sam Pines and Amanda Brown to Speak at the 2023 BSM Summit

“All six of these media professionals have enjoyed success throughout their careers and bring different perspectives, styles, and experiences to the room.”

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

I announced last week that the 2023 BSM Summit will be returning to Los Angeles. We had a fantastic experience in LA in 2019, and I expect our next conference on March 21-22, 2023 to be even bigger and better. But to do that, we need the right people on stage, and I’m excited today to reveal the first six additions to the show.

The 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles is proud to welcome FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports 1 host Colin Cowherd, FOX Sports 1 co-host of the new weekday program SPEAK, Joy Taylor, CBS Sports Radio and CBS Sports Network superstar Jim Rome, FOX Sports Radio and iHeart Sports SVP of Programming, Don Martin, and the brain trust of ESPN LA 710, Senior Vice President Sam Pines and program director Amanda Brown.

All six of these media professionals have enjoyed success throughout their careers. They bring different perspectives, styles, and experiences to the room, and I’m sure those in attendance at The Founders Club at the Galen Center at USC will enjoy and appreciate learning from them.

We will have more announcements in the future about additional speakers to the 2023 BSM Summit. A reminder that if you work in the media industry and would like to attend the conference, you can purchase tickets and secure your hotel room by visiting BSMSummit.com.

I’d also like to thank last year’s sponsors who have already confirmed participation in our 2023 event. The Summit isn’t possible without their support. For folks interested in sponsorship details for the conference, please email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now here’s some press information about each of our six participants.

Colin Cowherd: He is one of the most thought-provoking and successful sports talk show hosts in the country, and has been a key part of FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports 1 since September 2015. He is also the founder of The Volume, a digital-first sports media brand which has created an immediate impact in podcasting and on YouTube.

Cowherd’s three-hour sports talk program, THE HERD WITH COLIN COWHERD, airs simultaneously on FS1 and the FOX Sports Radio Network weekdays from Noon to 3pm ET. It is also available on www.FOXSportsRadio.comwww.FOXSports.com and has a dedicated iHeartRadio station, available live and throughout the day. The Herd has been chosen by industry programmers and executives as the top national sports talk radio show an unprecedented six times in seven years as part of BSM’s annual Top 20 series.

Jim Rome: Jim Rome is heard nationwide hosting ‘The Jim Rome Show‘ weekdays from Noon to 3pm ET on CBS Sports Radio. The program can also be watched on the CBS Sports Network. The show delivers three hours of aggressive, informed sports opinions, rapid-fire dialogue, tons of sports smack, and is consistently supported by Rome’s legions of fans otherwise known as the clones.

Rome also delivers his unique take on the day’s sports headlines via the CBS Sports Minute, 60-second commentaries which can be heard hourly on CBS Sports Radio affiliate stations. He also hosts his own podcast, The Reinvention Project, contributes to CBS Sports television, and has previously been seen on ESPN, FOX Sports, and in numerous movies and TV shows.

Joy Taylor: Joy Taylor co-hosts FS1’s new weekday program SPEAK alongside Emmanuel Acho and former NFL running back LeSean McCoy. She has previously worked as a co-host on THE HERD, as the moderator of SKIP AND SHANNON: UNDISPUTED, and as the host of her own podcast, “Maybe I’m Crazy”. She has also hosted programs for FOX Sports Radio.

Prior to joining FOX Sports, Taylor spent five years in Miami radio, including a successful three-year stint at 790 AM The Ticket, where she was co-host for the station’s top-rated morning-drive program, “Zaslow and Joy Show,” after starting with the station as the show’s executive producer. Taylor also served as the host of “Thursday Night Live” and “Fantasy Football Today” on CBSSports.com. She is a Pittsburgh native and the younger sister of former Miami Dolphins star Jason Taylor.

Don Martin: A 27-year veteran of iHeartMedia, Don is currently the SVP of Programming for FOX Sports Radio, the EVP for iHeartMedia Sports, and the SVP of KLAC-AM 570 LA Sports. Additionally, he provides oversight of the iHeartPodcast Network, which includes more than 40 national and 100 local sports podcasts and exclusive podcast agreements with the NFL and NBA. Don has been a featured speaker at prior BSM Summit’s and was recently a guest on The Jason Barrett Podcast. To hear it, click here.

Sam Pines: A fixture with Good Karma Brands since 2000, Pines is now charged with leading ESPN LA 710 since GKB assumed control of local operations. Prior to taking over the Los Angeles sports brand, Pines served as the GM and Sales Manager of ESPN Cleveland from 2006-2022. He has written a sales and leadership series, “Time to Win”, which focuses on coaching relationship-based selling and marketing, and is also involved with numerous boards and nonprofits.

Amanda Brown: Amanda has spent her entire twenty year career in sports radio working for the worldwide leader in sports. Currently responsible for creating and implementing the programming strategy for ESPN LA 710, Amanda has enjoyed nearly twelve years with the LA based brand after spending nearly six years in Bristol, CT producing national shows for the ESPN Radio network. Her career started behind the scenes in Dallas, TX where she worked as a producer at ESPN 103.3.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

7 Years of BSM and The Official Announcement For The 2023 BSM Summit

“Fast forward to now, and where this thing has advanced to is far beyond my expectations.”

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

Apologies in advance if some of this column feels like I’m giving myself and our brand a pat on the back. I am. When this company launched, many assumed I was just writing a few articles and biding my time until another programming job popped up. I had a number of friends say ‘there’s no future in sports radio consulting‘ and after putting my programming career in the rear view mirror to go home to NY, I wasn’t sure what was in store for me.

What I did know is that my interest in doing the same thing that I just did for the past decade in three different cities was gone, but my interest in working with brands and individuals was still very much alive. I loved creating and programming 95.7 The Game but my choice to come home was driven by personal reasons, not professional. I wrote in great detail about it back in February 2015 so if you’re not aware of my story and want to know more, click the link.

Some of you do know these details already so I’m not going to repeat myself. I also don’t like talking on this website about personal issues because that’s not what brings us together each day. Media news, insight, and opinion does. But when this day rolls around each year, I hope you can understand why I take a moment to celebrate it. I moved home with no job, no plan, and no business but 7 years later, here we are are still ticking.

Launching this company has been the best professional decision I’ve ever made. Erika Nardini just had this conversation recently with Mark Cuban and he said taking a leap when you have nothing is the best time to do so. As crazy as that sounds, he couldn’t have been more right. That said, it’s pretty humbling going from successfully managing a top 4 market brand and earning six figures to being unemployed with no income and not being sure what you want to do. There were many days where I wondered ‘what was this all for?’. I hadn’t been without a job for a long time but I didn’t want to rush into something I wasn’t excited about especially since I knew I had to take care of my son and wanted to set a good example for him.

When I announced I was leaving San Francisco, I said I’d consider staying with the company if a position could be created that would allow me to work from NY and travel to help brands. Entercom back then wasn’t as big as Audacy is now, so that wasn’t an option. That led to small talk about consulting but quite frankly, I had no interest in doing that. I thought consulting was something folks did at the end of their careers or others used as a temporary excuse to explain what they were up to after leaving a job. I was 41 at the time and felt I had two decades left to give to the business, and if I was going to go down that road, I’d do it differently.

As I began to clear my head and think about what was next, I decided I was going to create the position that Entercom didn’t have available except rather than being exclusive to one group, I’d be accessible to all of them. I wanted to make a difference in multiple cities and expand my reach beyond radio. Now I work with brands involved in radio, TV, podcasting, social media, sales, sports betting, etc..

I’m also very entrepreneurial, so the idea of building a digital company that focused on covering the sports media business had great appeal to me. I built my radio career by doing everything early on and saw that as an advantage. Back in 2015, there were outlets covering the radio business, but none dedicated to sports radio. Even the newspapers that wrote about sports TV and other media issues, often examined them with folks who hadn’t been on the inside for quite some time. I had recent experiences programming brands in three different parts of the country, I learned how to build a website, I didn’t mind selling myself, and I wasn’t restricted from writing and sharing my honest and candid opinions. That helped me give BSM life and a voice. I also had one other advantage. I was talking weekly with industry people, going to different cities to work with multiple groups and seeing up close why certain things worked and others didn’t. That helped me tell better stories, build deeper relationships, and assist clients with greater knowledge.

Fast forward to now, and where this thing has advanced to is far beyond my expectations. I’ve been presented with opportunities to work with groups I never expected. I’ve had people reach out to present opportunities, including purchasing the company, that others would be shocked were considered (Btw I’m not looking to sell). Our brand now generates hundreds of thousands in traffic per month thanks to an exceptional team of 20 writers which produces 35-40 pieces of content per day on the sports and news media industry. In fact, August was our best month of traffic this year. We were up 30% year over year. We create 5 podcasts per week, distribute multiple newsletters, consult a strong amount of media brands, sell and work with advertising partners to help grow their businesses, deliver content through social media channels that are followed by thousands of people, and host an annual conference, which is well attended and supported by industry professionals and broadcast companies.

———-

Which brings me to the next part of this column – the 2023 BSM Summit.

After hosting our last two shows in New York City, I told all in attendance that our next event would return to the west coast. Finding the right city and venue takes time, and this one was tough because there were great options in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but after reviewing the possibilities, I’m thrilled to share that the 2023 BSM Summit will take place in Los Angeles, California at The Founders Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California. The dates will be Tuesday March 21st and Wednesday March 22nd (we didn’t want to do dates that conflicted with the NCAA Tournament). Show time both days will once again be 9a-5p PT.

I couldn’t be happier with this location. The space we have to work with is fantastic, the people involved with USC have been great, and to bring a room full of sports media professionals to the USC campus will be awesome. We’ve also partnered with the USC Hotel which is within walking distance of our venue. Room rates and ticket prices for the Summit can now be found on BSMSummit.com.

I know everyone will start texting, emailing, calling, and DM’ing to ask about tickets, speakers, sponsorships, the after-party and awards show, etc.. I’ll have follow up announcements coming soon about the first few speakers we’ve lined up. Most people attended the 2022 show live, but some checked out the show virtually too. I’m not sure yet if we’re going to make this one available virtually. If we do, we’ll announce it on the site at a later time. Like anything, if enough people want it we’ll find a way to get it done. In the meantime, Stephanie Eads is setting up conversations with former and future conference partners so if you have a sponsorship question, hit her up by email at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

One thing I do want to ask of those who are planning to attend the Summit, email me to let me know what you’re interested in learning about at the show. We’ve been blessed to have some incredibly smart, successful people in the room, but as cool as that may be, I want to make sure folks return to their buildings afterwards with information to improve their operations. This only works if you take the knowledge and use it to help your brands and people. If anything in particular is of interest, please let me know by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

———-

As I look ahead to year 8, I’m extremely bullish on continuing our momentum on the sports media side. We’ve just added Eddie Moran as a new features writer, and if it makes business sense to add more writers or create additional podcasts down the line, we’ll examine those opportunities as they arise. A few years ago it was just Demetri and I running the day to day business. Now we have Stephanie, Andy, Garrett Searight, Arky Shea, Alex Reynolds, and Eduardo Razo involved, and though having a larger staff doesn’t guarantee success, I like how we’re positioned. If anything, our focus now is on doing impactful work not busy work. As much as I’d love to keep everyone and never stop adding, running a business effectively requires regularly examining what is and isn’t working. Having people involved who are passionate and consistently reliable is vital. If they can’t be then it means the fit isn’t right.

Having said that, I believe we can always get better. As we move ahead, I’m counting on my team to find and create more original content, strengthen and increase relationships, gain a stronger grasp of SEO, and collectively, we’ll work on improving our digital marketing to promote our content and develop better affiliate partnerships. One way the industry can help us in return, let us know when you create something on-air that might fit the site. Most of what we gather comes from finding it ourselves yet content gets created daily on sports TV and radio. We’re not going to write stories about sports opinions but if it’s media-centric, a heads up helps. So too does sharing our content on social media.

Though BSM is an integral part of our company’s future growth, I am equally as bullish on building Barrett News Media. We started BNM on September 14, 2020 and our first year was slow. We needed to dip our toe in rather than dive in head first, but over the past 9 months we’ve increased our relationships and our readers are now starting to see what we’re capable of. We’ve assembled a strong cast of news writers, reporters, and columnists, and just added to our team last week with the addition of Joe Salzone. Adding writers and consulting clients remains an ongoing process, and make no mistake about this, I want to help news/talk stations just as I have helped sports brands. Maybe down the line we’ll add a few news media podcasts too, but we have other things to focus on first.

For starters, if you’ve read this website over the years then you’re likely familiar with the BSM Top 20. It’s a series we produce recognizing the best in the sports media industry. It’s voted on by a large number of sports radio programmers and executives, and for 6 years in a row it has been our website’s largest traffic driver. I thought previously about doing a series for the news media industry, but because we had less help, little time, and an unfamiliar brand, I held off.

But that’s about to change.

Later this year, we will introduce the very first BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will include voting participation from news media programmers and executives, with the goal being to showcase the best national radio shows and podcasts, and the top local stations, shows, and PD’s from both the major and mid markets.

It will be a giant undertaking but it’s long overdue for our brand. Though I’m sure the process will be exhausting, I’m looking forward to sharing the results and shining a brighter light on the news/talk media business. When I’m ready to announce the dates and schedule for the series, we’ll reveal it here on the site and across our BNM social media channels. Stay tuned.

———-

As I bring this column to an end, I’ll end by sharing a few things that have surprised me over the years. First, I’m seeing less interest the past 3 years from younger people becoming programmers than I did between 2015-2019. Is that because of the pandemic? The rise of sports gambling? A lack of confidence in the radio industry? As someone who’s helped 15-20 brands find and hire brand leaders, and talks to more people than most, that’s concerning.

I think sports radio also needs to do a better job of grooming people for these roles and showing them a path to long-term success. PD’s should be more actively championing their people for growth too than they do. If you value someone and want to see him or her reap the rewards for their hard work, you have to look beyond how it’ll affect your day to day duties. Focus on the big picture, not just what makes your life easier.

What should concern executives is the fact that in the past five years, sports radio has lost Armen Williams, Jeremiah Crowe, Joe Zarbano, Adam Delevitt, Tony DiGiacomo, Terry Foxx, Brad Willis, Chris Baker, Tom Parker, Jay Taylor, Kyle Engelhart, Hoss Neupert, and John Hanson. I’m sure I’m missing a few too. That’s a lot of programming experience out the door including some with decades left to give to the industry. Maybe some weren’t built for the job long-term or others were kicking down the door and ready to lead but in most businesses, if you saw that type of change in key management roles, you’d be questioning if it’s an industry you want to be a part of. If the veterans don’t stay or become too expensive, and the leaders of tomorrow aren’t sticking around, where does that leave us?

From the talent end, how are you helping yourself when there isn’t a job to chase? If the only time you contact a PD is to ask about a gig, don’t be surprised when your calls go straight to voicemail. Relationships are a two-way street. Build them when there’s nothing to be gained and you’ll be amazed at how it pays off later. By the way, that goes for me too. I get asked by a lot of people to find time when there’s trouble in paradise but when life is good, crickets. Those who keep in touch and support BSM/BNM whether that’s through a monthly membership or buying a Summit ticket have more success getting a hold of me. I’m not trying to be a hard ass but I’m not an agent, so building your career isn’t my priority. Taking care of my family and business partners is. However, I do help people and make time for many, but it’s got to work both ways. My members and clients know they can ask for something and receive an answer. Others I’ve built and maintained relationships with receive the same. But if you’re counting on me to help you find work and gossip about the business with you, I’m not your guy.

If there’s been a winner the past 7 years it’s been the growth of sports betting. As other categories have produced less, sports betting has emerged as an important growth driver for the sports format. And this has happened with most of the country not even legal yet. As more states give the green light to legalize sports gambling, revenues and content opportunities should follow. We will likely reach a point where consolidation comes into play and certain brands and companies overload their content in a way that makes them insufferable to listen to but for every few setbacks there are far greater reasons to be optimistic. In the past 7 years we’ve seen Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and YouTube become big players in sports television. Might FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, Fanatics, Barstool and others do the same in the sports media space? That’s going to be an interesting follow for sure.

Knowing how everything can change in an instant, I take nothing for granted with BSM and BNM. This could all end tomorrow, and if it did, I’d look back on it as the best days of my professional life. I want to keep growing as a professional, while remaining an asset to my current partners, and finding ways to work with new brands and companies in both sports and news media. I’m also enjoying hosting a podcast again, and if you haven’t checked out The Jason Barrett Podcast, the latest episode with Colin Cowherd is a good one to start with.

The future for sports and news media may change but both will remain viable and important. I love that we’ve been able to be a small part of this business each day for the past 7 years, and I hope to make the next 7 years as fulfilling as the past 7. If I’m able to do that, it’ll mean the 20 years I spent in studios were needed to make a nationwide impact from a home office.

So on behalf of our entire team, past and present, thank you for reading the twenty thousand pieces of content we’ve produced since 2015. None of this is possible without an army of BSM/BNM supporters. I hope to see you in Los Angeles this March for the 2023 BSM Summit.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

The Podcast Movement Conference Made a Mistake Rejecting Ben Shapiro

“If this is a conference about podcasting, and you have someone in attendance who excels at it, has a massive following, and their company is supporting your event as a sponsor, why are you treating them like a disease?”

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

I’ve had the pleasure of attending multiple Podcast Movement Conferences over the years. Those involved in putting the event together do a fantastic job creating an action packed agenda full of accomplished speakers, and the visual displays and access to different brands and industry professionals have always been nothing but positive. It’s why I was disappointed this year when my schedule didn’t allow for me to make the trip to Dallas.

So imagine my surprise late last week when I learned the conference took a stance against Westwood One radio host and co-founder of The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro

Shapiro’s company was a sponsor of this year’s show, and according to reports, the well known podcaster and radio host wasn’t registered for the event. He made a brief appearance at his company’s booth, shaking hands and taking photos with fans who stopped by to say hi, and his mere presence at the show led to some protesting his involvement on social media.

After learning Shapiro had stopped by, the Podcast Movement Conference posted a series of tweets which said “Hi folks, we owe you an apology before sessions kick off for the day. Yesterday afternoon, Ben Shapiro briefly visited the PM22 expo area near The Daily Wire booth. Though he was not registered or expected, we take full responsibility for the harm done by his presence.”

The conference added, “Those of you who called this “unacceptable” are right. In 9 wonderful years growing and celebrating this medium, PM has made mistakes. The pain caused by this one will always stick with us. We promise that sponsors will be more carefully considered moving forward. No TDW representatives were scheduled to appear on panels, and Shapiro remained in the common space and did not have a badge. If you have questions, we’re here to talk. Thank you for reading, and we hope you’ll continue to join us from here on out.”

A quick search shows that Shapiro has one of the top performing podcasts on the charts. According to Westwood One, it is downloaded over fifteen million times per month. In addition, his radio program is carried on hundreds of radio stations, he has 13 million followers combined between Facebook and Twitter, and his company, The Daily Wire, adds another 5.5 million supporters to the mix. They also showed they were supportive of the conference by making a financial commitment to sponsor a booth.

Having explained all of that I was stunned that the Podcast Movement Conference took this position. Let me be clear, it was a mistake. Their stance has led to a flood of negative attention over the past 72 hours, and it all could’ve easily been avoided. Though their next event is still a year away, given how much attention this story has received, it could have a carry over effect on future sponsorships and attendance. Only time will tell.

As someone who runs an annual conference, albeit much smaller, I know how hard it is to put an event together. What the Podcast Movement organizers put together each year requires a herculean effort, which is why I’m baffled that they picked sides in this situation. The media industry is large and full of people, brands and companies with different views and approaches to business and everyday life. The second you start judging and making decisions based on personal beliefs and/or social media activity, you’re in trouble.

I’ve long maintained that if someone works in the sports media industry and wishes to learn and share information to help improve the business, they’re welcome at our BSM Summit. We make changes to our schedule each year based on what we feel is topical for the attendees but we don’t discriminate, support one brand over another or allow personal views to dictate if someone can or can’t be present.

Case in point, at our March conference, I had a few people privately upset that I asked Craig Carton to speak. Craig’s prior arrest and time served in jail is well documented. First, I have a ton of respect for what Craig has accomplished, and I believe in second chances, but personal views aside, he’s the afternoon host in the nation’s largest market working for WFAN, a top rated sports radio brand. History has shown that he’s damn good and successful, and more than qualified to speak on the subjects we cover at our event. When a few folks expressed their displeasure with my decision I told them ‘If you’re not a fan of Craig, don’t attend that session. If it bothers you beyond that, I understand if you can’t attend the show.’

Quieting the noise gets easier when you focus strictly on the business. Making everyone happy is impossible when you organize an event, but if you allow multiple viewpoints to be present in the room, you end up in a decent place more times than not.

You also have to remember that social media can make things appear worse than they are. Is the issue you’re dealing with being raised by conference partners and supporters who attend the event each year or from someone who’s not in the building and thrives on creating a social media firestorm for the causes they oppose and fight against?

Some may recall that I dealt with a few headaches in 2019 prior to our LA Summit after folks involved with groups that had no interest or desire to attend our show started trying to create a controversy out of nothing. Though it was frustrating playing defense on Christmas night when individuals from the New York Times, Deadspin and WNBA teams started poking holes in our conference’s flyer, I learned an important lesson. As long as you do the right thing and have the support and trust of your friends, family, attendees, and partners, who cares what others think or say who don’t know you and aren’t in the room for your event.

That’s what I don’t understand here. Is Shapiro not one of the most successful podcasters out there? Was his company not a paying partner of the event? If this is a conference about podcasting, and you have someone in attendance who excels at it, has a massive following, and their company is supporting your event as a sponsor, why are you treating them like a disease? Most would roll out a red carpet for someone with Shapiro’s track record of success not publicly condemn them for showing up and sponsoring the show. I know I would. I’d also do the same for someone who’s equally successful and views the world the exact opposite way.

I can’t help but wonder how folks at Westwood One feel about this incident. Don’t they promote and support this conference and include their people in the event? Think they might object to one of their top personalities being treated this way? Furthermore, how about the talk radio format? It’s no secret that most of the programming on news/talk radio stations leans right. A number of top performing podcasts follow a similar path. It’s safe to say that most in the format are going to support Shapiro, and I don’t think that helps the conference with attracting future business and participation.

To be clear, I don’t listen to Ben Shapiro’s podcast or radio show, and I don’t read The Daily Wire. I only point that out because I don’t want anyone to assume that I’m supporting him because of personal interests or a professional relationship. We’ve never spoke or crossed paths. My opinion is based solely on the facts surrounding this situation, nothing else.

That said, I understand Ben has shared opinions that some take offense to and I don’t blame those folks for not wanting to be around him. But there’s a simple solution, don’t go near him or his booth. It’s the same thing I tell people who don’t like a particular radio station’s hosts or a piece of content on our website; if you don’t like it, don’t read or listen to it. The Podcast Movement Conference takes place in a large convention center. There’s more than enough room to keep everyone separated and happy. Last time I checked, there were attendees in the room who stopped by to meet Ben at his booth. Do they not count?

Look, you don’t have to agree with Shapiro, but this is a podcasting business conference, and it’s something he’s done at a higher level than most. That qualifies him to be there. You can’t get in the middle and start determining who is and isn’t allowed in based on personal beliefs or trying to please agenda driven people on social media. Would Podcast Movement tell Joe Rogan, one of the most successful podcasters out there, that he couldn’t attend if people who didn’t like his views on Covid-19 protested? What’s next, not giving out industry awards to stations and individuals who we don’t like or agree with? When does the insanity end?

Here’s the reality, there are likely other sponsors and attendees in the room who have views that some may consider offensive. Our content and advertisers aren’t just supported by good, honest people. There are thousands, if not millions, who listen and support us who are shady, sick, and morally bankrupt. That’s beyond our control. Our job is to inform and entertain, and make people care enough to come back regularly. If we do that well, sponsors will follow. Keep those things happening, and everyone remains satisfied.

Moving forward, the Podcast Movement Conference has to decide if it wants to be open to all or only to some. I root for the conference to do well. I’ve enjoyed attending previous shows and hope to attend future ones. But if they expect to maintain support and enjoy future growth, learning from this situation is important. There’s much more money in staying neutral than alienating one side of the room.

Continue Reading
Advertisement blank
Advertisement blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.