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A Story Worth Telling But Often Forgotten

Jason Barrett

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned, and unfortunately been reminded of one too many times during my career in the radio business, it’s that many of us in this industry undervalue the importance of promotion.

I’m not talking about sending out a street team to give out t-shirts, stickers or key chains to promote your brand either. I’m referring to our ability as members of the radio industry to share the story of our brands, their successes, and when warranted, even our own individual accomplishments.

comfortI understand that it may not be comfortable for everyone to promote themselves or their respective companies, but if that’s an area you struggle in, I recommend you get some training, and improve at it because it’s critical, and only going to become more important as the battle for the consumer’s eye and ear increases.

On July 28th, Forbes published a piece titled “Radio: The All-But-Forgotten Medium With The Biggest Reach“. The story highlighted how more people turned to radio each day than any other media platform. Altogether, data showed the total reach for radio to be 93%, which was even higher than television which was at 87%.

A pretty powerful story right?

radio4What took place immediately afterwards was predictable. I looked on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and saw numerous industry folks sharing the Forbes piece and putting out little blurbs that read “Proud to work in radio, the number one reach media platform“.

While I was thrilled to see people promoting the industry, I had one big issue with it. Why did it take a Forbes piece getting published to get us to promote the value and impact of the industry we work in?

Is that all it takes? An article from ANOTHER MEDIA OUTLET telling the world how great we are?

storyDid we forget that we also work in media? Don’t we have access to ratings data that shows whether or not our brands are connecting? Don’t we have advertiser stories of success in our market that demonstrate that our medium delivers results? Don’t we have airwaves and social media pages that influence listener opinions and provide evidence of engagement and loyalty?

If we know the answer is yes, then why were we silent until Forbes said it was ok to speak up?

Don’t get me wrong, I love that Forbes wrote the piece, and that the industry was treated with respect for what it produces. I’ve worked in this business for 19 years, and seen the impact of what we do in multiple markets, and I know it works and I constantly sell the power of it.

Trusted brand stamp

Heck if you’re reading this piece, all you have to do is look at the website you’re on to see how I highlight the format, and those who perform in it. If you follow me on any of my social media platforms, you likely know the moves I’ve made while programming radio stations, and you know the ratings stories of the brands I’ve represented. That’s because good or bad, I’ve shared it with you!

Some folks may say that I even over-promote, and that’s a fair criticism, but I’d rather be known as the person who tried to do too much to highlight his people, his brand, his format, his audience, his industry, and his success, than the person who nobody knew much about. If you’re proud of your work, I believe that’s a story worth sharing.

While the Forbes piece focused on the power of radio and its reach, I think it only skims the surface of some of our bigger challenges. Forget about whether or not we deliver better results than print, digital media and television, let’s focus instead on the “poorly told story”.

dummiesI learned ten years ago at ESPN Radio why it’s vital to be your own self promoter. If you don’t share your story and what you’ve accomplished, you risk becoming a face in the crowd. That applies to anyone who hosts or produces a show, or manages or sells a radio station.

If you’re #1 in your market and beating your competitor, who’s going to know that story unless you share it? If you’re a producer chasing guests or working with a talent on new segment ideas and ways to improve their presentation, how are your colleagues going to know if you don’t discuss what you’re working on with them?

If you’re a sales person who only calls an advertiser when their agreement is expiring and fail to inform them when your station makes improvements, gains traction, or introduces new personalities, how do you expect to further develop the relationship with your client?

Promotion is necessary to succeed and it matters in every department inside your operation.

blankLet’s flip it to another part of our business, the ratings story. Here’s a quick question for you, do you know how your station is performing and what its strengths and weaknesses are? Do you know which other stations in the sports format in other markets are doing well or under performing? If not, why not? How can you craft a powerful story and create a compelling narrative if you lack powerful information?

And that’s not only an issue for sales people, producers and on-air talent. Programmers are guilty of this too.

Newspapers in Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Boston and New York are excluded because they do provide news about the local sports radio stations in their markets and how they’re performing, but what about the others? If you’re the PD, and you’re trying to build the station’s profile, increase revenue, and build morale inside your building, isn’t part of the job responsibility to generate press for your brand? Are you just waiting for the newspaper to subscribe to Nielsen to tell your ratings story?

Sometimes you have to take the lead, and send out information about your brand to your local media groups, advertisers, staff, and listeners, and let them know what’s happening. Here we are selling advertising to clients on our brands and telling them it works, but not using the power of our own brands and relationships to educate people about our results. What good is the information if nobody ever hears about it?

number1How about this, forget about being the good company solider for a second, and think about how it applies to advancing your own career. If you’re looking to build your brand, and earn bigger opportunities and bigger dollars in the future, do you think it’s going to happen because one or two friends in the industry provided you with a good reference or because you had a slick looking resume?

People in this business at the highest levels read everything and talk to everyone. If they want to know if you have the ability to generate ratings or revenue, they’re going to dig until they find out. Isn’t it smarter to leave them a trail, and show them that you take pride in promoting your work? If there’s nothing to see, they could think you’ve got something to hide, or even worse, they could feel you lack the ability to passionately sell the brand, and its story.

Here’s one example of something short, sweet, smart and effective! 610 Sports in Kansas City is rotating a number of these quick promos on their air, and by doing so they’re letting their listeners and advertisers know of their success. Everytime they air, they also reinforce to their people that they’re part of something special. That type of promotion gets an entire building and listening audience fired up.

 

We have many ways to share our message today and none are more powerful or useful than social media and our own websites. Between our brands and personal social media pages, station airwaves, and industry relationships, we have the ability to reach more people than ever before. If you’re doing something well, pound the message everywhere, and do it frequently. You’ll be amazed at how quickly news spreads, and your audience and advertisers will share it too, and want to become an even bigger part of it.

This is an industry you should be excited to be a part of. We have fun creative jobs that provide us with special access to many unique experiences and people, and it shouldn’t be a chore for us to promote our success.

happeningWhether it’s landing top guests, exceeding revenue goals, delivering ratings, giving away tickets, or talking about content of value to the audience, promotion exists in every situation. If we don’t tell our story though, we won’t receive the credit we’re due or the value we deserve.

Also, if you work in the sports format, do yourself a favor and put some time into growing your network of industry friends. The access you have on social media to people who work in the same industry is limitless. Many of these people endure the same professional challenges, and they can become strong allies, and helpful resources. They can also become your connection to a career changing opportunity.

If you’re trying to keep your friends or followers list down to 3-4 people, then why are you on “social” media? The word social means “seeking or enjoying the companionship of others” so act the part. The space is there to gain information, establish contacts, and further promote your work. If you only want to interact with 3-4 people, email or text them!

I know much of this topic may seem simple, but it’s the simple things that we seem to struggle with most in this industry. Solutions start with you, the brand you represent, and making a stronger effort to spread a message worth spreading. That’s not difficult.

We could continue operating inside this secret society and avoid telling anyone of our successes, but what happens the next time Forbes or another media publication gets their hands on some data, and the results aren’t as positive? Will you be sharing that story too?

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

Jason Barrett

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We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on BSMSummit.com.

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit BSMSummit.com.

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Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett

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As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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California College Students Earn Chance to Win 10 Free Tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit Thanks to Steve Kamer Voiceovers

“In order to win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event.”

Jason Barrett

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With a new year comes renewed energy and optimism for the sports media business. Yours truly is looking forward to showcasing the best our business has to offer when we gather the industry in Los Angeles, CA at the 2023 BSM Summit at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California on March 21-22, 2023. Our conference is returning to the west coast for the first time since 2019. We’ve announced some super talented speakers. We’ve got additional things in the works and I plan to make additional announcements in the next few weeks.

People often ask me what the biggest challenge is putting this event together. My answer is always the same, it’s getting people to leave the comfort of their office and spend two days in a room together learning and discussing ways to grow the business. We have great sponsorship support and exceptional people on stage and are fortunate to have a lot of folks already set to attend. Our venue this year has extra space though, so I’m hoping a few more of you make time to join us. If you haven’t bought a ticket or reserved your hotel room, visit BSMSummit.com to make sure you’re all set.

If there’s one thing our industry could get better at it’s opening our minds to new ideas and information. There’s more than one path to success. Just because you’re in good shape today doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. Building brands, growing audiences, increasing revenue, and examining new opportunities is an ongoing process. There are many shifts along the way. We may not solve every business challenge during our two-days together but you’ll leave the room more connected and informed than when you entered it.

Each year I’ll get two or three emails from folks sharing that they learned more about the industry in two-days at the Summit than they have in ___ years inside of their building. That’s truly gratifying and what I strive to achieve when I put this event together. I remember when conferences like this didn’t exist for format folks and I take the risk and invest the time and resources to create it because I love the sports media industry and believe I can help it thrive. I see great value in gathering professionals to share ideas, information, and meet others who can help them grow their business, and if we do our part, I’m confident some will want to work with us too. That’s how we benefit over the long haul.

But as much as I focus on serving the professional crowd, I also think we have a responsibility to educate young people who are interested, passionate, and taking steps to be a part of our business in the future. The BSM website is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each month and it’s become a valuable resource for folks who enjoy sports radio and television. I think it’s vital to use our platform, influence and two-day event to connect generations and I’m happy to announce that we will once again welcome college students at this year’s Summit.

Most of us who’ve been in this line of work for two or three decades learned the business without podcasts, YouTube, social media, the web or conferences delivering two full days of sessions that taught you more about the business than what’s available inside of a class room. We learned by doing, and hoping we were right. Then we copied others who had success. Some of that still exists, and that’s not a bad thing. But where our business goes in the future is going to be drastically different.

I’d like to see the difference makers in our format remembered for years to come, and practices that have stood the test of time remain valued down the line. Change is inevitable in every business and I’m excited about the road that lies ahead especially some of the technological advancements that are now available or will soon become a bigger part of our industry. I think we can embrace the future while enjoying the present and celebrating the past. The best way to do that is by bringing together everyone who is and is hoping to be a part of the sports media universe.

So here’s two things we’re doing to make sure future broadcasters have an opportunity to learn with us.

First, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Steve Kamer Voiceovers. Thanks to Steve’s generosity, TEN (10) college students will be given FREE tickets to attend the 2023 BSM Summit in March. Steve is a USC graduate (Class of 1985) and he bought the ten tickets to help young people learn about the industry, save money and make valuable connections. When I first received his order, I thought he hit the wrong button. I reached out to tell him a mistake was made and I needed to refund him. That’s when he told me what he wanted to do for students who were pursuing their broadcasting dreams just as we both did years ago. A very classy gesture on his part.

As it pertains to the contest, here’s how it’s going to work.

To win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event. Included in your email should be a list of steps that you’ve taken or are pursuing to explore opportunities in the media industry. If you want to pass along a resume and audio or video clips too to showcase your work and experience, that’s fine as well. BSM will accept submissions until February 17th. The winners will be announced on Friday February 24th.

Helping me select the winners will be an exceptional panel of media executives. Each of these folks below will choose one person to attend our L.A. event. The final two will be picked by Steve Kamer and myself.

  • Scott Shapiro – Senior Vice President, FOX Sports Radio
  • Justin Craig – Senior Program Director, ESPN Radio
  • Jeff Sottolano – Executive Vice President, Programming, Audacy
  • Bruce Gilbert – Senior Vice President of Sports, Cumulus Media & Westwood One
  • Amanda Gifford – Vice President, Content Strategy & Audio, ESPN
  • Jacob Ullman – Senior Vice President, Production and Talent Development, FOX Sports
  • Greg Strassell – Senior Vice President, Programming, Hubbard Radio
  • Scott Sutherland – Executive Vice President, Bonneville International

To qualify for the BSM Summit College Contest, students must be enrolled in college in the state of California, pursuing a degree that involves course work either in radio, television, print or the digital business. Those attending local trade schools with a focus on broadcasting are also welcome to participate. You must be able to take care of your own transportation and/or lodging.

This is a contest I enjoy running. We’ve had great participation during our prior two shows in New York City but haven’t done it before on the west coast. I’m hoping it’s helpful to California students and look forward to hearing from many of them during the next month.

For students who live out of state and wish to attend or those enrolled at local universities who enter the contest but aren’t lucky enough to win one of the ten free tickets from Steve Kamer Voiceovers, we are introducing a special two-day college ticket for just $124.99. You must provide proof that you’re currently in school to take advantage of the offer. This ticket gives you access to all of our sessions inside the Founders Club. College tickets will be limited to forty (40) seats so take advantage of the opportunity before it expires.

The 2023 BSM Summit will feature award ceremonies with Emmis Communication CEO Jeff Smulyan and legendary WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, sessions with influential on-air talent such as Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, and Mina Kimes, big picture business conversations with executives from groups such as Audacy, iHeart, Bonneville, Good Karma Brands, Barstool, The Volume, Omaha Productions and more. For details on tickets and hotel rooms visit BSMsummit.com.

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

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