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Does Being A Fan Matter?

Jason Barrett

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There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to creating content, and performing as a sports talk radio personality.

On one side you have the talk show host who’s not emotionally attached to their market’s local teams, analyzes stories from a neutral point of view, and cares more about the creation of good content and interesting storylines, than the success or failure of the local franchises. At times they can be accused by the audience of being cynical or negative, and they value their credibility and integrity, and will stop at nothing to defend it.

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On the other side, you have the talk show host who lives and dies with their team’s results and daily decisions. They watch every game because they genuinely love the franchise, and each day’s outcome tugs on their heartstrings. They go to the stadium as much as possible, forming as many relationships as they can, and they openly acknowledge their rooting interest with the audience. That often leads to being accused of being too positive and soft (homers), which calls into question their objectivity, whether it’s warranted or not.

While each person has their own personal preferences, both approaches work. Audiences are made up of people from many different backgrounds, with multiple views, and as long as the individual providing the content delivers their dialogue in an authentic way, and is willing to be open and honest with the audience, they’ll be accepted for who they are.

Some listeners put on the radio to hear a host who loves the local team as much as they do, because they want to feel good about their favorite players, hear interviews with members of the local organizations, and they want someone to pump them up for the next game.

Then there are listeners who are mentally stimulated by negative discussions built about what’s wrong with the local team, and who should pay for the team’s failure. The local team could win a championship, and the next day their more concerned about which members of the team will leave via free agency, rather than celebrating.

thinkThat got me to wondering, do we gain more listeners and higher ratings by being detached from our fandom, or by embracing it? It seems the older we get, the more cynical we become, and we spend less time watching games, and rooting for storylines over victories. But does that matter to the audience? Should it?

We’re in the sports talk radio business. The key word being “business“. The job is to present angles, opinions, insight, and information, and make it compelling enough to entertain an audience. The job description doesn’t say “one must passionately care about our teams and form a bond with them that becomes ever lasting“.

However, when a listener puts on a sports radio station, they expect that they will hear a conversation about sports. Many of us though don’t always provide that. Instead we venture into discussions about our favorite foods, favorite television shows, best concerts we’ve attended, and other lifestyle focused topics.

notI’ve often found that those who take this approach, are usually more detached from their fandom, and the local teams. Yet they are passionate about what they’re discussing, and you can argue that the subject matter has broader appeal. In many cases the ratings go up when personalities let the audience in on their other views and personal interests. But is this content being created for the audience, or because we aren’t as interested in sports as maybe we should be?

For those who are more in touch with their fandom, they’re usually eager to dive into a sports discussion. Sure they’ll touch on other aspects of life too, but sports is the center of their universe. They dedicate the majority of their show to it, and they don’t have to manufacture enthusiasm to get into a conversation about their local teams.

angeloI’ve been in numerous markets and seen both styles work well. I recall working in Philadelphia in 2006, and WIP morning host Angelo Cataldi was open with his audience about not attending games, and forming relationships with players, because he felt it could compromise his judgement. I don’t remember the exact quote but it was along the lines of “My job isn’t to make friends in locker rooms or break news. I’m here to share my honest opinions, and look out for my audience”. 

By staying out of the room, Angelo felt he was in a better position to serve his listeners. I knew exactly where he was coming from, and because it was consistent with who he was as a personality, his audience accepted it.

On the other hand, I’ve watched in St. Louis and San Francisco, how guys like Randy Karraker, Bernie Miklasz, Chris Dimino and Brian Murphy, have utilized their time around local teams to gain added perspective, inside information, and form relationships with organizations which has given the audience a better understanding of how teams think and operate. They too have stayed true to who they are as people, and their approach has resonated with their audiences.

debateIf there’s one thing that is vital for all talk show hosts, regardless of whether or not they’re fans, it’s to be willing to criticize and engage in difficult conversations. It’s not easy delivering an opinion, and knowing that it can damage a relationship, but if you’re focused on serving the audience (your true employer), then you’ve got to do what’s best for them. It’s ok to root for your team, and lean towards positive content, but when bad things happen, you’ve got to address them. Avoiding them compromises your credibility and integrity.

To gain further insight into this discussion, I reached out to a number of personalities across the country, who face this challenge on a daily basis. I wanted to get a sense of how they manage their fandom and objectivity, why they approach their programs the way they do, what they believe matters most to sports radio listeners, and what type of talent they’d feature on their stations if they made the final decision. I think you’ll enjoy their answers.

Special Guests:

  • Mo Egger– ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati
  • Shan Shariff-105.3 The Fan in Dallas
  • Chris Dimino680 The Fan in Atlanta
  • John Kincade-680 The Fan in Atlanta
  • Randy Karraker-101 ESPN in St. Louis
  • Nick Wright-Sports Radio 610 in Houston
  • Brian Murphy-KNBR 680 in San Francisco
  • Chad Doing-95.7 The Game in San Francisco

What does the term “homer” mean to you?

randykarraker4Karraker: The general perception is of someone that won’t challenge the front office of the local teams and won’t criticize. But to me a “homer” is someone that pays intense attention to the teams in his home market, and has the same emotional investment in those teams as the people listening. Being a fan is being part of a community, of shared interest in your team. There’s no question that when I come on the air, I have an emotional investment in the Cardinals, Rams and Blues, and like most fans, I’m capable of being objective and critical. I don’t blindly agree with everything the franchise is doing, I just want them to succeed like my listeners do.

Murphy: A “homer” is a fan who is blind to reality. They refuse to see their team’s shortcomings, often to the point of irrationality.

chaddoing5Doing: I think of a local broadcast team that will never criticize the play of the team they work for regardless of the performance of the franchise. In relation to sports talk, I think of a local host who is a fan of the teams in the city that he/she works. I don’t think that’s necessarily a negative.

Kincade: It’s the blatant inability to talk about a team in honest fashion. It is the trademark of a host that wants to pander to the locals. They desire to be loved, not willing to earn respect for fair evaluations.

eggerEgger: “Homer,” when applied to a host means that he/she is someone who allows their rooting interest to influence their opinions and willingness to criticize, often at the expense of the listener. Homers placate the lowest common denominator of an audience, and usually alienate their smartest, most savvy audience members. A good sports-radio host, whether they’re fans of the local teams or not, always has the backs of the fans. Homers place the teams (often times, they’re in a relationship with the teams) ahead of fans.

How does it make you feel if a listener refers to you as a homer?

shanshariffShariff: If someone calls me a Jerry Jones homer, I don’t get upset because it’s true. We all have natural bias and I don’t see anything wrong in acknowledging it. If someone calls me a Cowboys homer because we’re the flagship, I try to correct that perception. I don’t like someone thinking my opinion is formed because of other factors outside of what I see and feel.

Kincade: I can honestly say on-air in Atlanta since 1995 I have never been referred to as a homer. I far prefer to be known as the guy willing to tell you that your baby is ugly when deserved.

chrisdimino3Dimino: The initial reaction for most hosts is defensive. It becomes credibility being questioned. I have been honest about liking some guys and teams and front offices more than others. But I’ve dealt that from the top of the deck. I also made a conscious  decision years ago that I have to sleep at night, and in our job that means you better believe it before you say it, and more after you say it. Your body of work speaks more than any isolated incident.

Doing: It’s never bothered me. I want my listeners to know that I embrace my local surroundings, and that I’m going to root for the teams in the town in which I work. In my  mind, I can be a “homer” while still being objective. I’m going to celebrate when they win, but when they don’t perform, I’m going to be critical.

randykarraker2Karraker: I have no problem with being called a homer. Jack Buck once told me that a listener had called him a Cardinal homer, and his reply was “what do you want me to do, root for the Padres?” Many times, people will hear what they want to, rather than what reality is. I’d actually rather be called a homer than a hater.

Shouldn’t the audience want to hear a host who lives & dies with the same teams as they do and is proud to admit it?

nickwright3Wright: The audience should want to hear a host who is honest and transparent. If that host truly lives and dies with the local teams, then they shouldn’t hide it, but the worst thing a host can do is fake that loyalty. The audience can sniff that out.

Shariff: Depends how interested you are in the truth. I had many listeners in Kansas City who recognized their own bias and wanted to hear an objective view of their favorite teams. I do think you better cover every facet of your city’s favorite teams with as much passion as possible.

murph2Murphy: Every show is different, and every host has a different voice and vibe. Some make their living being cynical, and that appeals to listeners. Some (me included) wear their heart on their sleeve, and allow the listeners to judge us for who we are.

Dimino: If you’re going to have your fandom, own it. This isn’t soup at a restaurant. The “Fan of the Day” shit is much worse than living and dying with your teams. Secondly, it better be genuine. Don’t bandwagon it. Listeners can smell that a mile away. You better save the rants for rant like moments. The overly negative “homer” exists and I can play the glass is empty with the best of them. But killing teams and people just to kill can get old. I want parades in my town, I want our teams talked about nationally, and I like seeing our team’s games on national television in the postseason. I’m unabashed and unapologetic about those things.

johnkincadeKincade: You can do that! I’ve worked with a few guys that are huge fans of the local teams, but still will criticize when warranted. They are far more credible to me than the guys who prefer to kiss butt so they will be liked by the local teams. If the audience prefers a homer, they tend to be caller driven pep rally shows. I turn those off quickly.

How important do you believe it is for a host on a local sports station to be interested in & passionately & emotionally involved in the success & failure of the local sports teams they cover?

chrisdimino4Dimino: It’s huge because success and failure drive conversation. From a business point of view, I root for storylines. I want ultimate successes or total disasters. Anyone who elicits no reaction is death. I don’t root for horrible but if that’s what it is or becomes, that drives conversation. “What needs to be done” talk is even more interesting and passionate than the ones about first place teams.

Wright: I think a local host absolutely must be interested and passionate about the teams in their market, but does not need–at all–to be emotionally invested in order to be successful.

chaddoing2Doing: Like my listeners, I am a sports fan. So, I want to be able to relate to them and feel what they feel. I accomplish that by choosing to become invested in the teams I cover. Once I get around the players, I create relationships and learn more about them, so that I eventually begin to pull for them as individuals. When I do this, I naturally become emotionally invested in them and my passion for them is genuine.

Shariff: Interested? Hell yes. Passionate? Absolutely. Emotionally involved in wins and losses? I don’t believe you have to live and die with every loss, but your audience better have zero doubt that you’re qualified and prepared to dissect their teams.

johnkincade4Kincade: I came from Philadelphia in 1995. I’ve been on-air here for 20 years, and I have never dropped my hometown team allegiances. I’ve also never hidden it from my audience. I’m honest with them and prefer that the local teams do well. It’s better for the station when they do. My audience knows that I watch the teams and am prepared to get into conversation about them every day. It allows me to be a different voice. As long as I have been fair, the audience respects you for your talents and insights.

When a host says “I don’t care if the local team wins or loses, my heart isn’t attached to them. My job is to talk about the story/result and what it means for the audience” – do you think that’s a good or bad thing for the audience?

murph7Murphy: It depends how well the host conveys that. If it comes off as cold and distant and clinical, surely the host will turn off some listeners. But if it comes off as informative and enriching and instructive, the host will earn respect.

Dimino: If you don’t care about winning or losing, you’re in the wrong line of work. Your opinions, not final scores, will come from that caring. Your audience can understand 7-4, 28-21 and 104-98. That’s an update. It’s not a conversation. “How and why and what to do about it” IS our business. This idea that being a fan is a bad thing is ridiculous. It’s why you got the job. It’s what most of us have been preoccupied with since 6th grade study hall. If you can’t feel the ups and downs, why should anyone care what you think or believe?

randykarraker3Karraker: As a consumer, I don’t want to listen to a host who doesn’t care whether the local team wins or loses. If he says that privately, that’s fine. And if the host can talk about the story and analyze the result without caring, I don’t think that’s necessarily bad for the audience. However, sports fans care deeply about their teams. Any time we care about something, and the person we’re talking to says they don’t care about it, it’s going to affect that relationship.

Egger: As a whole, I don’t think the audience is looking for either. There are fans who clearly prefer a host who’s as attached to their teams as they are, but I think the majority of listeners are looking for content that’s entertaining, smart, curious, and relatable. If the host is a fan, he/she has a responsibility to be objective at times. If they’re not, they have to at least understand and convey an understanding that these teams and their fortunes do matter to their audience.

johnkincade2Kincade: That is a horrible thing to say. You have to care about the teams and their performances. Even if you care just to create great conversation, you better garner passion for yourself and your listeners!

How possible is it to be a homer in a local market if the on-air talent isn’t from the area?

shanshariff2Shariff: In my experience, you lose some rooting interest in your favorite teams the longer you do this job. My DFW motto has been “I root for ratings” and I’ve said that many times to our audience. The Cowboys and Rangers winning helps our ratings and my wallet. Why wouldn’t I become emotionally invested in their success? Personal relationships are also a factor. A major reason I root for the Cowboys success is Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett, Witten, Romo, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith. We’re not best friends, but I believe they do things the right way and I root for that. With all that said, I think it’s important to be genuine. People are instinctive and smart. They know if you’re being fake or feeding them what you think they want to hear.

Karraker: It’s very possible. Our morning guy, Bernie Miklasz, came to St. Louis from Baltimore in 1984. He grew up a big Colts and Orioles fan, but he’s been around St. Louis for such a long time, that he wants to see the hometown teams succeed. He developed an emotional tie to the city and the teams. He’s my version of a homer. He wants to see our teams do well, but is objective and willing to point out problems even for winning teams. Secondly, if you get to a town and do your job, you’re going to develop relationships that cause you to root for individuals. I became a huge Arizona Cardinals fan when Kurt Warner went there. He’s one of the finest people I’ve ever met. Any man who meets and gets to know Mike Matheny and understands why he’s successful is going to want him to succeed. So while it might not be the team you grew up with, it’s the team and people you’re with now, and you do develop personal relationships and rooting interests.

chaddoing1Doing: It’s very possible. I moved to San Francisco last year. In the 12-months I have lived in the Bay Area, I have been to the majority of games for the Giants, Warriors, Raiders, and 49ers. It was a challenge at first, but as I got familiar with the area and began to speak with fans, I started to develop a better understanding of the market I was in. Going to games and interviewing the athletes was the best part of the process for me. For example, the Warriors locker room was filled with high character guys who were easy to root for, and when I combine that with the buzz in the city coming from fans, my conversion process happened at an accelerated rate. But you have to put in the time and commit to going to a number of games.

Wright: If you happen to be in a market where you’ve always loved the team, despite not being from there (EX: A Lakers fan who is from Kansas City but now works in LA) you can obviously be a homer. Also, if you’ve lived in the area for a long time (10+ years) you can probably become a homer because it becomes your adopted team.

moegger5Egger: I can only speak for my market, because this is the only one I’ve worked in. We are a parochial town, a little wary of outsiders. Some have called Cincinnati the “biggest small town in America,” and I often joke to Cincinnatians, if something doesn’t happen inside the 275 loop (the interstate bypass that circles our city), it doesn’t happen. It’s an uphill battle if you’re a host who isn’t from here, especially since the most successful talents in this city so rich in broadcast history have been from Cincinnati. If you come to Cincinnati to talk sports for a living, you better do some work. Recite what the Reds did in the 70s. Familiarize yourself with why the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in a quarter-century. Understand the depths of the many regional college rivalries. These things matter here. Maybe more than other markets.

If you were the program director of a radio station and trying to satisfy the desires of the local audience, would you put more people on the air who are more or less emotionally attached to the local teams?

Dimino: Hosts and radio stations are not widgets. Everything being the same serves no one. It’s what creates chemistry inside a show and weaves the fabric of the station. Emotionally attached does not for a second imply marching in step with some manifesto of rainbows and smoke blown up asses. It rides good and bad time waves and relatability with an audience. The trickier part is the “Rights Holders” aspect of this. Do you have the freedom to speak your mind? Do you get blowback from management or the teams themselves if you criticize? If I was PD I want genuine. The guy attempting to figure out which way the wind is blowing daily will be rooted out by smart listeners.

nickwright4Wright: I would have locality be the only tiebreaker in selecting talent. I would try to build the best team possible and let the chips fall where they may.

Murphy: I think a balance is probably best. And I think it’s important for hosts to be themselves. I think audiences can smell a phony. I think they like hosts who are true to themselves, and care about entertaining the audience.

shanshariff3Shariff: I would side with more attached. While it’s important to be genuine and objective, sports are still driven by passion, excitement, anger and all the emotions that come from die-hard fans that can relate to others who think and react like they do.

Egger: Ideally, I’d like a mix of both because the best-programmed stations are focused on what’s important to their audience but have hosts with different backgrounds, perspectives, and can bring fresh and different angles that differentiate themselves from the other hosts, even if they’re all focused on the same basic subject matter. If I’ve got shows with hosts who are emotionally attached to local teams, I might look for someone who’s a little detached. More than anything, I’m just looking for people who can create compelling content, regardless of how they approach the delivery of it.

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett

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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 BSMSummit.com. 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.

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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

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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 BSMSummit.com.

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 Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

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 BSMSummit.com 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.

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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

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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 BarrettNewsMedia.com. 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 JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

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 BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com 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 BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. 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.

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