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Are You In It To Win It?

Jason Barrett



If you’re a football fan, then you’re familiar with the classic Bill Parcells quote “You are what your record says you are“. I’ve always loved that line because it means that you can make all the excuses you want, but the result is what’s attached to your brand’s name.

faultIt comes into play so often too in radio. You have a bad ratings book, and quickly it’s the fault of Nielsen’s PPM system, talent being out sick or on vacation, a lack of marketing, or the competitor having Voltaire. It could never be your fault or the brand’s fault, because that would mean acknowledging your own shortcomings.

In the radio business, much like the world of sports, companies, stations and people have very different goals. For some brands, anything less than a championship is unacceptable. For others, being relevant, in the game, or better than mediocre is acceptable. Some groups will shake things up quickly if a plan isn’t working, others wait for dinosaurs to return to the planet before they even consider switching gears.

It’s easy to say you’re committed to winning and you’ll do whatever it takes to succeed, but if that mentality doesn’t exist throughout every department inside the organization, it becomes much harder for a brand to have collective success.

bottomlineFirst of all, if winning was easy, everyone would do it. Secondly, while people on the programming end care about connecting with the audience and delivering ratings to justify their impact, promotions and sales people, along with station managers, often look harder at generated revenues/profits and customer satisfaction, than they do the product’s performance.

The success of your show/brand may help the business end of the operation tell a better story, and that does help them with their demands for higher ad rates, but if the station’s numbers are lower, they still have to paint a great picture, and produce dollars, despite the programming team underperforming.

While we can agree that the job of the business department is to tell a positive story and increase profits for the company, shouldn’t there be higher accountability on the product end too? If sales people are expected to increase profits, and charge higher rates per commercial on a year to year basis, then doesn’t it make sense to expect the programming team to perform better year to year too?

Now some of you may be saying “Don’t put that pressure on us, we’re fine right where we are“, but I don’t think or operate that way. There’s a big difference in the mindset of one who expects to win and consistently challenges themselves, and others who are satisfied with the status quo. You either seek total domination and being the best, or you don’t. It’s that simple.

djmjCan you imagine Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky saying “let’s do what we’ve done before, that should be good enough“? Each of those individuals are driven by their own desire to be great, that no owner, coach, or teammate needs to say anything to light their competitive fire.

It’s what separates a coach like Bill Belichick from Joe Philbin. It’s the difference of owners like Robert Kraft and George Steinbrenner who give their people what they need to succeed, and owners like Jimmy Haslam and Jeffrey Loria who always get in the way. It’s why an athlete like LeBron James continues to improve and excel, and others like Carmelo Anthony showcase talent but never reach a championship level.

Great teams and players rise to the top, and welcome higher expectations and challenges. They want to be tested to show what they’re made of, and nobody puts more pressure on them except themselves.

It’s an easy thing to recognize, and I wonder why more broadcasters and companies don’t notice it themselves.

goingonIf you’re a sports talk radio station, and your ratings are consistently outside the Top 10 with Men 25-54, there should be some concern and a number of questions being asked. Everything should be analyzed from the station’s name, position and lineup, to the content approach, the market’s appetite for sports radio, and nobody should be satisfied unless solutions are provided to help the brand improve.

Maybe the signal isn’t strong enough, which means you need to either make the investment to play with the big boys and drive bigger ratings and revenues, or get used to where you are.

Maybe your market isn’t a great fit for the format, and while I hate to see any station flip out of the format, if the audience isn’t going to support it, and you’re going to lose money, then maybe it’s a bad investment.

If it’s your personnel, there’s a simple solution – you change it. Teams change rosters all the time, and if that’s what it takes to lift a brand from 20th place to 5th, then be willing to make those difficult decisions. I don’t like seeing anyone lose an opportunity, but this is a results oriented business, and you can’t let personal feelings get in the way of what helps you maximize your brand’s potential.

Last but not least, if it’s the approach, brand name, or on-air positioning, once again you need to modify it to suit your talent, and the wants and needs of the audience. You can try to force your ideas and style on people, but if they’re rejecting it, you either adjust your game plan, or someone else will do it when they’re sitting in your chair in the future.

jobAs easy as it is to put the pressure on the shoulders of the on-air talent and programmers, I think pressure equally needs to be placed on corporate managers and ownership. The people up top need to set the tone for what is and isn’t acceptable inside the company. Stock prices rise and decline based on performance, and if goals are laid out and agreed to by each department, and the resources and support are provided to help people do their best work, then they should be able to deliver. If they don’t, then they also need to be held accountable.

When I see a sports station sitting in 15th-30th place, for longer than 12-18 months, the competitor in me can’t help but question what’s going on. Remember, this is the ranking with Men 25-54, not all listeners. If you add older/younger people into the equation, along with women, the performance is even worse.

Is this in line with the company’s vision for the brand? Is it acceptable to the company, market manager, programmer, and talent? Are raises being given and contracts renewed for people who work there? If so, what’s the rationale?

I’m all for rewarding good performers, but if you haven’t improved, and the company hasn’t made more money, then why should you receive more? This isn’t a government position where you earn annual increases for time on the job.

If you’re operating this format (which is expensive), and you’re consistently performing 15th or worse with Men 25-54, it’s going to be difficult staying profitable. Maybe you have some national shows on your airwaves which helps you reduce costs, and in the short-term that helps you make a few dollars, but long-term, it’s hard to create a thriving business without a higher performance.

For me it goes back to two questions:

  1. Are you trying to win, or stay afloat?
  2. Are you accepting failure/mediocrity or doing whatever it takes to build a winner?

georgeGreat organizations don’t apologize for expecting greatness from their people, and they certainly don’t wait long to make adjustments if the formula isn’t working.

If your group and/or people aren’t where they need to be, what are you doing to change the outcome? Maybe you won’t beat your competitor today, but you certainly better be trying, and improving, and your goal better be to overtake them.

It comes down to this, “Are you in it to win it, or just happy to be in the game“?

But what the heck do I know, I’m just a guy who thinks winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Guys like Dan Snyder and James Dolan have certainly proven otherwise.

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Rachel Nichols and Baron Davis Headline Final Speaker Announcements For the 2023 BSM Summit

“I’m sure Baron and Rachel will have all eyes and ears focused on them when they take the stage together next Tuesday at 2:45pm PT.”

Jason Barrett




The 2023 BSM Summit schedule is set. After months of planning and talking to everyone across the industry, I’m ecstatic to roll out next week’s agenda including making one final announcement involving seven great additions to our conference.

For starters, it is a pleasure to welcome Showtime’s Rachel Nichols to the BSM Summit. I’ve admired her work on television for years, and am thrilled to have her guiding a session which I think many in the room are going to really enjoy.

Rachel’s guest will be former NBA star Baron Davis. Baron runs his own company, Baron Davis Enterprises, and he has been active in investing in media brands, and exploring ways to evolve the industry. Among his areas of passion, athletes taking more control of their brands, and the media industry needing to improve its track record with diversity. I’m sure Baron and Rachel will have all eyes and ears focused on them when they take the stage together next Tuesday at 2:45pm PT.

Also joining the Summit are a few longtime industry friends. For starters, VSiN’s program director Jon Goulet is someone who I’ve known and worked with, and he understands the sports betting audio space extremely well. Jon and BetQL VP of Programming Mitch Rosen will spend time with another industry friend, Bryan Curtis of The Ringer. Collectively they’ll examine the state of sports betting audio on Tuesday March 21st from 3:35p-4:10p, and what they look for when it comes to sports betting talent, and how they determine what is and isn’t success in the sports gambling content world.

With Mitch taking part in the sports betting panel, Jeff Rickard of WFNZ in Charlotte steps into The Programmer’s Panel alongside Jimmy Powers, John Mamola and Raj Sharan. The session is scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd from 9:10a-9:45a PT. Ironically, all four of these programmers work for different companies, so it’ll be interesting to hear how they differ and where they align while navigating through a few sports radio programming topics.

Next, I’m excited to introduce a social media session with Karlo Sy Su of ESPN Los Angeles and Matthew Demeke of AM 570 LA Sports. If you look at the performance of their brands on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook, they’ve each delivered strong audiences and engagement. I’m looking forward to hosting this one and learning about their processes, how they decide which platforms to focus on most, what they consider a social media win when analyzing social statistics, and how they develop their content process. Given our location, we’re calling the session ‘Social Media Goes Hollywood‘. It’s scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd from 3:35-4:10 PT.

I realize you’re not going to remember all of these session speakers and times off the top of your head, so to make it easier, log on to and scroll down past our speakers. That’s where you’ll find our detailed list of sessions/times and activities planned each day. We have eighteen sessions, two awards ceremonies, and two parties. Our kickoff party is presented by the WWE and takes place Monday March 20th from 7p-9p at the 1880 Founders Room. The ESPN Radio After Party takes place Tuesday March 21st from 6p-8p at the Lab Gastropub. Both party locations are in walking distance of the USC Hotel and our conference venue.

As an added bonus, thanks to the generosity of our friends at WWE, we will be giving away a pair of tickets to the first night of WrestleMania, and a WWE title at our kickoff party. WrestleMania takes place this year in Los Angeles at Sofi Stadium on March 25-26. You must be present at the kickoff party to win either prize.

We’ll have more to share next week including providing an ongoing blog with session news and notes for our readers. We’ll also have a ton of content available on our social media channels so if you’re not following @BSMStaff on Twitter, @BarrettSportsMedia on Facebook or @BarrettMedia on LinkedIn, what are you waiting for?

The focus now shifts to finishing our creative for next week’s show, sending information to our speakers for their sessions, and finalizing our attendees list. For those who are attending, we’ll be sending out an email on Friday or Saturday with a complete list of names of who’s coming so you can plan meetings in advance.

If you forgot to buy your ticket after seeing months of promotion about the event and meant to do so, you can still do that, but it costs more. Students on the other hand can take advantage of a low rate established for college kids at

Putting this event together isn’t easy, but I’m extremely pleased with how it’s come together. We have a lot of smart, talented, and accomplished people making time to be part of this, and I appreciate each and every one of them for doing so. Now, it’s all about the execution. Hope to see you next week in LA.

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Sports Broadcasting Icon Al Michaels To Be Honored at the 2023 BSM Summit

“This is a man who has spent more than five decades on your television screen calling the biggest games, and producing some of the most iconic moments sports has to offer.”

Jason Barrett




If you work in the sports media industry you’ve likely heard someone along the way utter the phrase “don’t bury the lead“. I’m usually good about following that advice but I didn’t do that at our 2022 BSM Summit.

We introduced the greatest tandem in sports radio history, Mike Francesa and Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo and it was a special half hour. Mike and the Mad Dog were reunited after seven years apart and every individual at the event knew they were witnessing something magical on stage. I created a Mike and the Mad Dog Award for the event, which went to Felger and Mazz, who were the absolute right choice to win it. Even Chris remarked ‘that’s the right call‘.

But I learned quickly that although the intention was right in honoring the industry’s current top performing show, when you have legends in the room and they’re in their element, the last thing you want to do is overcrowd them. The connection Mike and Chris had on the air became the gold standard by which we measure successful sports talk shows, and they didn’t need an award created to deliver a special moment, just two mics and 20-30 minutes of stage time.

As I began thinking about the 2023 BSM Summit, I knew there was an opportunity to build on what we started last year with Mike and Chris, and after talking to a few people who I trust and respect, the decision of who we would recognize became crystal clear. I believe it’s important to honor the greats in our business because those who leave a permanent mark on our industry deserve it. The man we’ve selected has spent more than five decades on your television screen calling the biggest games, and producing some of the most iconic moments sports has to offer. He’s worked with the best of the best inside the booth, has helped elevate the presentation and execution of in-game content for ABC, NBC and Amazon, and his call of the Miracle on Ice, the US Olympic hockey team’s 1980 gold medal win over Russia remains one of the best calls in the history of sports.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored and privileged to share that Al Michaels will join us on Wednesday March 22nd at the 2023 BSM Summit for our awards presentation, where we will present him with BSM’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michaels is one of America’s most respected sports broadcasting voices, known for his exceptional work on Monday Night Football (1986-2005), Sunday Night Football (2006-2022) and Thursday Night Football (2022-Present). He’s called the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, Hagler-Hearns, the Olympics, the Indy 500, Horse Racing’s Triple Crown races, College Football and Basketball games, Golf, and more. He’s even held roles as the voice of the University of Hawaii, the Cincinnati Reds, and the San Francisco Giants, and was in the booth in 1989 when an earthquake rocked the Bay Area during Game 3 of the A’s-Giants world series.

The Brooklyn native turned Los Angeles resident has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and owns a ton of hardware including five sports Emmy’s, three NSMA Sportscaster of the Year honors, the 2013 Pete Rozelle Radio & Television Award distributed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award given out by the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Though his trophy case may be full, we’re excited to add another to his collection to show our appreciation and respect for the impact he’s made on the sports media business.

A quick reminder, the BSM Summit takes place on Tuesday March 21st and Wednesday March 22nd at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California. Tickets are on-sale at

Be advised, we have started adding sessions and times on the website. As always, the schedule is subject to change. Our final agenda will be posted by the end of next week. In addition, attendees will receive an email by next Friday with details of who will be in attendance. We hope to see you there.

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Rob Parker, Brian Long, Sean Thompson and Matt Fishman Join The BSM Summit Speaker Lineup

“I’m excited to welcome a few folks who have enjoyed success in different parts of the country, and in different areas of the business.”

Jason Barrett




As we gear up for our 5th annual BSM Summit on March 21-22, 2023, I’m starting to get a better feel for how the final puzzle may look. When this process starts I have no idea how it’s going to turn out because so much depends on who says yes and no. Many who’ve attended over the years have complimented our lineups, and I appreciate it because I put a lot of time and effort into featuring a strong mix of professionals from different areas of the industry. Though I’m proud of the work we do and the schedule we deliver, there are so many things pursued leading up to the event that I can’t help but wonder ‘what if this or that had worked out?’

One thing that some folks don’t understand if they haven’t been to the show before is that this is not a talent conference. It’s a sports media business conference. That means we feature radio, TV and digital executives, programmers, researchers, sales professionals, and yes, talent. I believe on-air performers are vital to the industry’s success and I want the best of the best sharing their wisdom with everyone in the room, but we’re also not going to do two full days of on-air conversations. Being successful in sports media requires understanding the on-air side and the business side, and we do our best to offer a blend of both.

For today’s announcement, I’m excited to welcome a few sports media pros who have enjoyed success in different parts of the country, and in different areas of the business.

First, Rob Parker is someone who has made a name for himself as a radio host, writer, TV commentator, and teacher. He’s currently heard weeknights on FOX Sports Radio, teaches students at USC Annenberg, writes for Deadspin, and is helping MLBBro gain awareness and a bigger mainstream media presence covering Major League Baseball. He’s experienced, smart, and never short on opinion. I’m looking forward to having him join Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score/BetQL, and Scott Shapiro of FOX Sports Radio for a session titled “Aircheck On Campus“. They’ll take the stage together on Wednesday March 22nd from 2:10-2:45.

My next three speakers, all come from the sports radio programming department.

Matt Fishman is the Director of Content for ESPN 850 Cleveland. Fishman has been with the brand since January 2020 following stints at SiriusXM, 610 Sports in Kansas City, and 670 The Score in Chicago. He even wrote for BSM for a few years.

Sean Thompson is responsible for programming decisions at Arizona Sports and ESPN 620 AM. He joined the well respected Phoenix brand after more than a decade in Atlanta at 92.9 The Game. Sean has also worked in affiliate relations for Westwood One, and on the air and as a programmer in music radio for Good Karma Brands in Madison, WI.

Brian Long is the program director of both San Diego Sports 760 and KOGO 600 in San Diego. In addition to guiding two of the top talk brands in his market, he has also managed Seattle Sports 710, and served as the Assistant Program Director for ESPN LA 710.

Matt, Sean, and Brian will be part of one of our final sessions on day two of the Summit. The Last Call which yours truly is hosting, will explore unique revenue opportunities created by local brands, and examine a few new ideas and missed opportunities that brands and managers may want to take advantage of in the future.

As of today, the Summit has more than forty accomplished professionals taking the stage at the Founders Club at USC’s Galen Center on March 21-22, 2023. I’ve got a few others still to announce as well, including a few cool giveaways planned for the WWE’s Kickoff party.

If you haven’t bought a ticket and wish to be in the room, visit The last day for ticket sales will be Monday March 13th. I’m hoping to release our final schedule of sessions on Tuesday March 14th. Hopefully I’ll see you in the city of angels.

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