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The Next Chapter

Jason Barrett

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I was reading Colin Cowherd’s interview with the Hollywood Reporter last month, and in it he said something that stuck with me. He talked about Pat Riley, and how Riley recommends changing jobs every 10 years in order to stay fresh, and remain challenged. I found that interesting because people in life usually choose between consistencyconsistency and familiarity, and unpredictability.

For some, they prefer routine and a safe bet, as opposed to taking a risk to find out what’s possible. For others, they loathe predictability, and seek to be challenged, because reaching their maximum potential carries higher importance. Neither way is better than the other. It’s simply a matter of each individual making a decision which best fits who they are.

During the past year I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate a number of possibilities as it pertains to my future. As crazy as it may sound, it was refreshing to have my nerves rattled a little, the fire in my belly rekindled, and question marks swimming around my brain daily, wondering if my next move would be wise or foolish. A little career anxiety can be a good thing.

August 25, 2015 327When I started to analyze my situation and where I wanted to go, I knew one thing for certain was going to influence my path the most. That was the location. For the past thirteen years I’ve lived in thirteen apartments and houses in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Missouri and California, and coming home to New York, and being near my son was priority number one. If you read my “Leaving California” column in February, then you know this was why I chose to leave San Francisco at the end of my contract this past June.

I’ve been very lucky to build some great friendships and relationships with a number of different executives and radio operators during the course of my career, and the past six months, they’ve put my will to the test. While it’s flattering to know others value your work and would love to have you operate their brands, I knew it was time to go home. No amount of power or money was going to change my mind.

By making that decision to return to New York, I knew it would present some difficulties since things at my level in the big apple don’t change much. It’s a lot easier to have your pick of the litter of high profile jobs when you do good work, and are willing to move anywhere. A fancy title, larger market, and bigger paycheck are all things many people in my position should want, but I’ve been a hired gun for a long time, and while it’s been professionally fulfilling, and led to some incredible friendships and relationships, and making a great living, it wasn’t going to help me be closer to my son, loved ones, friends or home state.

2012-02-01 001 011As I looked inside at what I enjoyed most about what I do and my life, I felt my family were what mattered most, and when it came to my professional desires, I discovered my real passion is in teaching, coaching, writing, analyzing data, discovering and recruiting talent, and brand building.

That said, there are certain parts of programming a radio station that are exciting and difficult to ignore.

You get to work with a number of people from all different backgrounds, make talent and personnel decisions, help people grow, earn a great salary, and gain the trust and respect of your employer. You also set the tone for how the brand, and its people will operate. That is a fun part of the job, and one that I’m glad to have experienced during the past ten years.

While those aspects of the job are enjoyable, there are also some limitations. For instance, when you work inside one building, you’re restricted to using your abilities to help your current employer, and the people in your market. You may talk to others in different locations, but your ability to assess what’s happening in other cities and other companies, and contribute to helping them be successful isn’t possible. If you’re doing that, you’re likely not focused enough on your own brand.

limitationsYou’re also limited in the information you can share, the networking you can do, and the honesty in which you provide your views beyond your employer’s walls. Sometimes you don’t make the final call, and you’re tasked with spending more time on operating budgets, promotions and sales challenges, than leading the department you were hired to provide guidance and leadership for – programming!

As I reviewed my career, where I was, and where I wanted to be, and thought about that Pat Riley quote, I felt it was time for change, and a new challenge. I love the sports media industry, and I see it growing more and more each day. Being a part of its future is important to me. However, I’ve put a lot of time, thought, and passion into my work, and while running a building can be fun and provide additional perks, I believe I can make a much bigger difference for the industry, beyond one physical address.

Dan Patrick said when he left ESPN that he knew he was going to have multiple bosses, and I plan to experience that same fate.

BSM_TwitterSo after nearly twenty years in radio, most of it in the sports talk format, I am officially announcing the launch of my company, Barrett Sports Media. It’s one that I have been slowly building behind the scenes, and I enter into this new venture head first with unwavering enthusiasm.

So you’re wondering “what the heck does that mean” right? Let me explain.

As I work on developing my brand and my company, I’ll be doing a lot of different things for a lot of different people. I’ll be writing more on this website and interacting with people and audio operators all across the country to give this format and the people who perform in it a higher profile, since it deserves one.

I’ll also be doing some teaching and speaking, serving as a liaison for programmers and corporate executives, providing one-on-one instruction and job assistance for select talent, and entering the consulting space, which is one part of the business that I am really excited about exploring.

rsIt’s fitting that I’m moving into this side of the industry, because it was about twenty years ago that I began reading www.sportsradio.com, a website owned and operated by sports radio consultant Rick Scott. That website helped educate me a lot on this industry, and opened up doors to relationships that I still maintain today.

Had it not been for Rick’s website, I’d probably not have gone to work for Bruce Gilbert at ESPN Radio, and had that not happened, who knows if I’m even writing this.

For the past twenty years, Rick has put more time, thought and care into working with sports operators, and talent around the country than anyone else, and because of his contributions, this industry has prospered. I was fortunate to have him as a mentor in St. Louis and San Francisco, and with his help, support and friendship, we collaborated a lot and did some pretty impressive things.

Seeing what he has done for the industry, and experiencing it myself, it’s opened my eyes to the benefits of becoming a resource to the entire sports media world. While Rick has been an incredible ally, friend and mouthpiece for the entire sports radio community, there haven’t been many others in the consultant space, dedicated solely to the growth of sports media, and the people who make a living in it. I plan to change that.

I know some of you reading this, may be thinking “Consulting? Multiple jobs? JB loves local radio too much to not be inside of a building” and I understand that initial doubt, but once you’ve had sustained success, and have experienced the country as I have, it starts to feel the same. Those who know me have heard me say this before, I never want to become the guy inside of the factory who does the same job day after day. It’s not how I’m wired.

I’m also not fueled by money, power or fancy titles. If I’m going to put my name on something, I want it to be good, and I want people to gain results from it. Nobody will remember how much money you made, or the different titles you held during your career, but they will remember the quality of your work, and how you helped and inspired others.

rulebookThe funny thing is, I remember having this chat a few months ago with a good industry friend, and when I told him I was entertaining the idea, he said “All media consultants are the same. They give some insight and opinion, change their minds when things don’t work, and try to stay out of the way and praise the people up above, so they can continue earning a check. You don’t fit that mold so I’m not sure if that’s good or bad“.

While I don’t know if his assessment was accurate or not, it got me to thinking, “Why do I need to fit a particular description? Can’t I blaze my own trail and offer my own style“? It worked for me as a programmer, and I believe there’s value in offering a different point of view and approach. I’m hoping our industry does as well.

One thing I take great pride in is knowing the entire sports media landscape. I invest time in developing dialogue with industry professionals all across the country, and I listen to and watch personalities and brands everywhere, to the point where it costs me a lot of my own personal time at home. It’s a huge passion of mine, and one that I struggle to turn off.

successBecause I study people, markets, brands and operators, it helps me with providing fair and thorough analysis, If I’m going to share my opinion or insight on certain subjects, I believe in being prepared and knowing the facts. If you’ve followed this site over the past 14 months, you’ve hopefully recognized that in some of the columns I write, and the ratings pieces I’ve published for numerous markets.

While this new venture places me into unchartered waters, I’m energized by taking the risk, and trying something new. Sometimes when people in our business do something different, others rush to judgment and deem them as being crazy, or on a path to failure. That’s a mistake in my opinion.

When Dan Patrick left ESPN, everyone thought he was nuts. Rick Reilly actually called it one of the five worst moves in sports entertainment history. Why would anyone leave the comfort, and power of ESPN, to start their own entity?

dpWell Dan had a bigger plan, and while it took some time, he expanded his brand and income potential, entered new content arenas, grew his relationships, took more control of his own future, and had more fun.

As of last check, his brand could be found on NBC Television, Fox Sports Radio, Sports Illustrated, Dish Network, Audience One, Crackle, and in Adam Sandler films.

Doesn’t seem so crazy now does it?

Let me be clear about one thing, by no means am I comparing this move of mine to Dan’s. I’m not changing the world, or risking anything close to what he did. He’s one of the best to ever operate in this business, and the risk he took was enormous. I’m just a guy from New York who loves sports radio, has traveled the country and had a little bit of success, believes he has some knowledge and skill to offer, and is going to take on a new challenge to try and help others.

SFI’ve helped build three brands from scratch, discovered a number of talent who have gone on to have successful careers, and produced strong ratings for my previous employers. I’m proud of my track record as a programmer. Now though it’s time to see if I can make a larger impact for multiple brands, and people.

The calls, emails, texts and social media messages I’ve received during the past 2 months, from all over the country, have shown me that people out there do care about this format, and its future. They want to get better. I’m going to give my undivided attention to try and help them do that.

Who knows what tomorrow holds? I’ve said this many times, and I believe it’s coming, we will see a day when sports teams program their own audio channels, Twitter, Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and/or YouTube create sports talk brands, and Pandora, Spotify, Newspapers and other new audio brands emerge and develop talk content.

Podcasting is also becoming a stronger player, and I think that will only increase as digital dashboards become a heavier focus inside automobiles.

There are so many possibilities, and they all need the same thing – smart and experienced leadership, strong content creators, and people who know how to deliver results, and grow a business. I know how to do that, and I plan to use my abilities to help others enjoy success.

Geena Davis once said “If you risk nothing, you risk everything”. Well what can I say, I’m a risk taker. I bet on myself when I entered this crazy business, and I’m doing it again now when it’d be much easier to take a conventional path. It’s an exciting time, and exciting world, and when you’re in the right space, and right location, the rest has a way of working itself out.

Wish me luck!

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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 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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