Connect with us
BSM Summit

Barrett Blogs

Is National Programming a Difference Maker?

Jason Barrett



One topic that has been interesting to watch unfold over the past year has been the shift of local radio operators to take back their timeslots from national sports radio networks and replace network programming with local personalities and content. For years it was a given that to become a network affiliate, you were required to carry at least one national prime time show on your radio station.


However, in the past year alone, five top-25 markets have dropped an ESPN Radio network program to make room for a local show. Of all the national shows offered by ESPN, Mike and Mike have been hit the hardest. Four of the five changes were made during their morning drive timeslot.

In Philadelphia, 97.5 The Fanatic replaced Mike and Mike with Anthony Gargano. In Washington DC ESPN 980 introduced “The Man Cave” with Jason Paul and Chris Reid, also dropping Mike and Mike. In Seattle, 710 ESPN announced plans to reduce Mike and Mike by two hours to carry Brock and Salk and in St. Louis, the same formula is being followed with the return of Bernie Miklasz.

blankWith Colin Cowherd departing ESPN, it’s only a matter of time until more national programming gets replaced in local markets by local operators and the first change has already taken place in Phoenix where Arizona Sports 98.7FM has named former NFL star Bertrand Berry as their permanent replacement for Cowherd’s timeslot.

Since then, The Ticket in Miami has begun airing a local program with Josh Friedman and Chris Wittyngham while ESPN offers fill-ins during the month of August. Depending on what ESPN Radio does with Colin’s slot, that shift to a local show at 10am could become permanent. Although, if Dan LeBatard gets the nod to take over for Colin on the national level, it’s unlikely The Ticket will pre-empt him.

To dig even deeper, when you look at the major markets where national shows are being cleared, many air on AM stations which are no longer a high priority for their respective companies. In many cases, the ratings on these brands are very low and the focus appears to be to simply “clear network programming and fill air-time” rather than take advantage of it.

weeiAs an example, in Boston, ESPN Radio airs on WEEI’s old AM signal 850AM. In Atlanta, ESPN is now airing on Cumulus’ 1230AM and in San Diego they clear on 1700AM. In all three cases, the stations are not destinations for local listening.

And it’s not jut ESPN Radio facing this challenge. It’s happening to Fox Sports Radio and the CBS Sports Radio Network too.

Of those three groups, CBS was thought to have the biggest opportunity to challenge ESPN when they announced they’d be entering the network space. With the company’s ability to use the power of their highly successful local brands, many expected a stronger network battle but so far that hasn’t happened.

francOf CBS Sports Radio Network’s shows, only Jim Rome’s program has received decent support in local markets. CBS’ top content earning local market distribution has been the CBS Sports Minute, which I understand Mike Francesa is a big fan of (sorry I couldn’t resist).

While Rome is clearing Los Angeles on The Beast 980, San Diego on The Mighty 1090 and Sacramento on KHTK 1140, the majority of the markets he clears are smaller. As for the network’s other shows, while they offer some solid talent, they remain challenged to receive local market clearance and support. Even in bigger markets where they do clear, they’re usually on brands with little attention and listening. Case in point, 610AM in Philadelphia, 1050AM in San Francisco and 1270AM in Detroit.

blankFor Fox Sports Radio, the Dan Patrick Show remains a destination and although the network has done a great job adding strong talent such as Rich Eisen and Jay Mohr, the challenge also remains large when it comes to penetrating local radio markets during prime time hours. Unlike ESPN though, they don’t charge rights fees or persist on network shows being part of a local station’s lineup in exchange for a local market affiliate relationship which is smart.

Will an addition of Colin Cowherd change that? Perhaps. But for now, aside from clearing their own backyard in Los Angeles, most of the markets airing Fox national shows during prime time are outside of the Top 25. Although they do have some solid situations  in Phoenix, Seattle, San Diego, Houston and Portland.

While all of these changes are significant and very different than what was the norm five to ten years ago, it doesn’t appear to be going away.

revenueAssuming local operators continue to invest more in local personalities and content, that means that the audience reach and market clearance for network shows will decline, which you can bet advertisers will look to try and take advantage of.

So does this mean that national networks are in deep trouble?

Not necessarily.

While the 1990’s and 2000’s may have represented great growth for the sports radio format and created a dominant place at the table for networks on local radio station’s, the 2010’s have seen sports audio become an even bigger juggernaut, and the focus has become reach and distribution rather than local market clearance.

espnappFor instance, ESPN Radio is streamed on and the ESPN Radio app. It’s also be heard on Slacker, Tune-In, SiriusXM, Google Play, iTunes and numerous radio stations across America, not to mention it can be watched on ESPN-2, ESPN-U and ESPN News.

It’s a big reason why the company shifted their focus from positioning themselves as ESPN Radio to ESPN Audio, and given the reach and power of the brand, it was a smart strategy.

In an interview in March, ESPN Audio boss Traug Keller told Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch that ESPN Radio had twenty million people per week listening to their content. The product was being received on more than five hundred radio affiliates, three of which were owned and operated radio stations, and as a whole the ESPN Radio brand was serving over sixty percent of the population who listen to sports radio.

Those numbers are staggering and very impressive.

Now logic would tell us that with Colin Cowherd and Scott Van Pelt gone from the network, those numbers will likely drop, but that doesn’t mean the numbers won’t rebound once permanent replacements of those timeslots are announced.

eisenSwitch sides to Fox Sports and you can find their programming also available on local stations and their website but they also add the power of being heard on the iHeart Radio app, watched on Fox Sports 1, DirecTV and YouTube and consumed on SiriusXM, iTunes, Tune-In and the Podcast One network.

For CBS the story is very similar. They provide their audio content on their website, local radio stations, the app, the Play It podcast network, Tune-In and the CBS Sports Television Network.

So if these national brands have instant credibility with sports fans and talented and recognized personalities delivering quality topical content, than why are local operators dropping them in favor of local programming?

nielsenIt’s all about the ratings and national programming doesn’t deliver them in my market” said a local program director I spoke with who oversees a station inside a top 20 market.

But with adding a local program comes added expense and as radio operators across the board trim budgets in an effort to stay profitable, how can added expenses make sense to the bottom line?

Yes there are risks involved by adding salary, but personality endorsements and appearances are in high demand and ratings are critical for radio stations to attract larger advertising dollars.” said a local market general manager. “While the quality of network programming is excellent and the personalities are good, we believe that local shows hosted by locally known personalities are worth the investment because they will provide more solutions for our clients and listeners which ultimately will help us be more profitable“.

While I don’t disagree with the viewpoints of the local operators I talked to, I do think one thing is definitely different and important to remember as we gauge the success of sports audio operators going forward – it’s not just about ratings anymore!

localIf you’re on a local level, your brand strategy is going to be built around delivering high local ratings and you’re going to want personalities in the local community who can advance the message of your station’s advertisers and connect with people at local appearances. From that standpoint, national programming doesn’t offer much appeal.

However, if you work on the network side of this business, your model for success isn’t measured by local market ratings. It’s based on total audience reach, platform distribution, advertising revenue and content creation.

rome2Do we really think a network like ESPN Radio or Fox Sports Radio isn’t successful just because they didn’t win a ratings battle in New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago? If they’re on television and every audio platform possible and reaching twenty million people per week, I’d say they’re delivering huge value for advertisers and clearly people do enjoy their content or they wouldn’t be accessing it thru multiple audio channels.

Yes it becomes harder to monetize due to the fact that the consumption of content is splintered between so many different audio avenues, and listening now has the on-demand element to deal with, but that’s the job of management and sales executives, to create their story and share it with advertisers and the people inside their own offices.

mm2If you’re an advertiser looking to get bang for your buck, you can’t deny that a show like “The Dan Patrick Show” or “Mike and Mike” doesn’t have huge reach and ability to move product. Between television, radio syndication, podcasting, their websites and social media promotion, people are consuming the content, which means they are also receiving the message.

Unfortunately, since we operate in a silo and use antiquated technology to gauge audience measurement, and we fail to include the total usage of users on all of these other platforms, many local and national brands are not receiving the credit they’re due for delivering record numbers of audience.

localrAs someone who’s programmed on the local level, I believe in delivering as much local content as possible. If my quarterly bonus and station’s ability to generate revenue are tied to our ability to superserve advertisers and local fans, then I want people on my airwaves who walk into the same building as I do, understand the station’s goals and possess the ability to get the job done.

While I enjoy the listening experience of some national shows, their personalities don’t live and die with the success or failure of my brand. Most don’t invest the time in interacting with their local affiliates either through calling in or making in-market appearances, and if they’re not going to share the same pain and joy in my company’s performance, then I can’t put my ass on the line for them when my future depends on it.

However, just because I have that point of view as it applies to running a local brand, doesn’t mean that national programming isn’t important, necessary and a huge success for the sports radio format. I often hear people in the industry discredit network shows because of the ratings factor, but there’s no question that we all know these brands, shows, personalities and the content they create. That has to count for something right?

onesizeWhat I believe it comes down to is this – success in the sports radio format isn’t a one size fits all formula anymore. It’s sort of like when a station celebrates delivering powerful Men 25-54 numbers but yet gets crushed on social media and in the industry trades because their 6+ numbers were low. If you can’t see the full story and you’re lacking information, it becomes harder to analyze and understand.

Every company has a different measurement for success. For some it’s about total audience, for others it’s about reach and distribution, other locations will have a stronger emphasis on digital, social and mobile activity and engagement, and for numerous traditional operators, it’s about local ratings.

While perception is often reality in this format, what gets lost is the understanding that we all operate in different spaces with very different goals and our ability to define success has become complicated due to the numerous avenues of distribution, the different ways to listen to audio and the inability of our industry to measure it as a whole.

wantHaving been on both sides of the fence (national and local), I see tremendous value to both approaches and business strategies and consumers are going to sample both, in multiple locations, and on the terms of when they feel like accessing it. It’s not a choice of one or the other, it’s a matter of being accessible and worthwhile when the user feels like sampling your material.

While we can all debate the benefits and disadvantages of local vs. national, I think we can all agree that we need to do a better job of defining success for our brands internally and sharing that success story externally. Who knows, by doing that we just might create a better perception of our format on the local and national level.

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett




Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett




The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett




When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have for sports, and for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on and sports gets less crowded on We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

Continue Reading


Advertisement blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2022 Barrett Media.