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Creating a Great Marketing Plan Around The Army-Navy Game

Jason Barrett



If the opportunity presents itself in the future, do yourself a favor and take in the Army-Navy game. It’s an experience you’ll remember and it’s one of those games that makes you feel great about living in the United States of America.


Ironically, I live twenty minutes from West Point and have had the chance to attend numerous Army football games during the course of my lifetime. But the energy level and big game feel that exists when Army and Navy battle on a football field is very different. Even if you’re not a big college football fan, you can’t help but get caught up in the excitement.

The game itself went down to the wire (Navy won 21-17), and produced a number of twists and turns to keep everyone on their feet, but there was a media angle which stood out and I thought it was worth sharing with you in this column.


Often in sports radio, we’re tasked as programming teams to create excitement for a sponsor who’s spending good money with the company and wants to be involved in the content. Programmers get defensive when they hear that because the product is what the audience tunes in for and when bad/forced content enters the mix, listeners leave. If your main job responsibility is to generate ratings, it’s difficult to sign off on accepting content on your airwaves that is going to negatively impact your numbers.

However, the real reason why ratings matter is because they’re used to help station’s make money, and reps have one job to do too – add revenue! A rep is not going to admit that their suggestion is flawed or that an idea is bad when they see dollar signs and I can’t blame them for that. They’re human and trying to fatten their wallet and maintain stability with their employer.

But, they also shouldn’t be surprised or upset with the programmer, when they try to maintain the brand’s integrity, grow ratings and do what’s best for the audience. A good rep won’t be afraid to say no or direct a client towards a different path, but many salespeople are so concerned about hitting their monthly budget that they’ll grab the money, run, ignore the details, and try to repair the damage afterwards.


I remember being in a situation where one of my former morning shows agreed to do some work with a national pizza chain. As part of the partnership, they’d read LIVE endorsements, make a monthly appearance at three local establishments, and then film a video at one of the locations where they were taught how to make pizza. The client also bought recorded commercials, website and social media ads and text message sponsorships.

Sounds simple right? Well, not exactly!

The client kept pushing the rep for more, after the deal had been agreed to, and the rep was so worried about losing the business that they threw in a sponsorship of the station’s mobile app for free for three months.

But that once again wasn’t enough.


The client threatened to pull the sponsorship unless the station agreed to have the morning show go out on a one-day delivery run which would be promoted on-air, online and on text. I spoke to the morning crew and shared the dilemma with them and because they were good guys who were willing to try and keep clients invested in the brand, they agreed to do the delivery day to try and save the sponsorship.

Next, we agreed on the local towns where the guys would do their deliveries and on the day of the event, the local stores had their phones ringing off the hook. Business was up 30-40% for the day and we felt the promotion was a success.

Except, the client was once again, not satisfied.

This time, they were not willing to give us credit for their growth because the orders came in by phone and in towns where they already were performing well. They wanted some of their less successful locations to see an increase in activity, and they only wanted to count orders that were placed through the order button on the mobile app. None of this was communicated to me or the morning team prior to the promotion from the rep or the client.

At this point I was frustrated. I sat down with the rep and our national sales manager to ask how much money was being generated with the sponsorship and what their plan was to gain control of the account. The amount we charged was below expectation and their was no plan in place to get on the same page with the client.


Guess what happened next? You guessed it, the client called and threatened to pull their business again. Except this time, they’d consider staying on board if the morning show did another delivery appearance in a town of their choosing.

I knew the client was taking advantage of the situation, and our rep was fearful of standing up to them, so I chose to protect my guys and the product, and decline to do anything further until a meeting was held with all involved.

The client wasn’t interested in meeting and when they pressured our rep to give in or risk losing the account, including this time having our guys do the delivery day in their own vehicles in a bad part of town, I declined and we had to walk from the business.


Rather than sticking up for myself, our people, and the brand, and reeling in the client, the rep and sales manager got ticked off at the programming team and pushed our boss to make a decision on the situation. They could only see the money in front of them, not the process or effectiveness of the campaign or the way that it had created a divide with the programming department. Luckily our GM was aware of the situation and ruled that the client had to be dealt with differently and offered something else or it would be passed along to another rep.

I share this story because it’s a classic case of not managing the client’s expectations and not working with them to create the right game plan. The client didn’t understand how to use the radio station and its people to increase their business and by being unwilling to listen to how to use the product properly, and not receiving the right direction from the rep, it cost them time, money and results.


How that applies to this article is simple. If you watched the Army-Navy game on television, listened to it on radio, witnessed it in person at the stadium, or read about it anywhere online or on social media, you couldn’t avoid seeing USAA as the game’s sponsor. They did an outstanding job of “owning” the game without interfering with it.

What does USAA do? They proudly serve millions of military members and their families with competitive rates on insurance, banking and investment services.

Seems like a great natural fit right? Well, it is!


The company understands their target audience, and by sponsoring this game, they’ve positioned themselves well to reach the people they’re after. From the field to the stadium signage to the ticket stubs, everything about the game had USAA involved in it, but they never got in the way of the actual event.

During the radio row event on Friday and Saturday, every radio station host that I spoke with, was not only excited to be there, but felt it was a positive association for their station and show. They mentioned it being one of their favorite trips of the year because unlike the Super Bowl, they didn’t feel pressured to accept guests who’d take away from the show’s direction. An all you can eat Fogo De Chao dinner on Friday night and post-game party at Xfinity LIVE on Saturday night also made them feel important and appreciated.


Much of that credit goes to Jimmy Shapiro and Dan Zucker of the Zucker Media Group who have worked with USAA for the past few years to create the event. Jimmy and Dan have a background in sports radio so they recognize what hosts, producers and the audience are looking for, and that allows them to work with USAA to create a great situation for everyone.

USAA also deserves some praise because they respect Zucker’s judgment and follow their lead on creating a great radio experience. That willingness to listen, led to WFAN, WIP, KNBR, WFNZ, WBAL,  KFAN, KJR, Mighty 1090, Arizona Sports 98.7FM, 104.3 The Fan, 105.3 The Fan, 106.7 The Fan, 104.5 The Zone, SiriusXM, Yahoo Sports Radio, Sports Byline, ESPN Las Vegas and ESPN San Antonio ALL broadcasting from the event this year.


14 of the top 25 markets were present, along with three national networks, and the locations targeted were not only established sports radio brands with good ratings and established audiences, but they were also in areas with strong military representation. That’s smart targeting by Zucker Media and USAA.

By having each of those brands broadcast from the event, and making the trip worthwhile, it tells the station’s programmers that they can trust the organizers to do a quality job. When you earn trust with operators, it goes a long way towards developing a strong long-term relationship.


Not only did USAA receive coverage on some of the top performing stations in the country, but they helped their own image by having people like Roger Staubach, John Feinstein, Sal Paolantonio and Kirk Herbstreit promote the game on their behalf. When those type of personalities spin the message for them, it makes the content more memorable and less likely to be rejected by the audience. If USAA was asking brands to put on the company’s local insurance reps to promote the game, it’d be a very different story.

In evaluating the sponsorship, USAA found a fit that aligns perfectly with their company objectives. Every association with this game benefits them well, including the title “America’s Game“! That’s an easy line for the audience to recall and promote.

When you have a great product and connect it with a sponsor which has a natural fit and understands how to benefit from the association, this is the kind of success that can follow:

  • Over 69,000 in attendance for the game
  • The highest television ratings for the Army/Navy game in nearly two decades
  • An increase in television ratings for the game for the fifth consecutive season
  • Radio promotion on 23 radio shows and 3 national networks on Friday and Saturday
  • The top trend on Twitter including social promotion from numerous high profile personalities


The Army-Navy game and USAA partnership has paid great dividends because everyone understands the objective and how to promote the game. The company realizes that the campaign is built from awareness and positive association, and the star of the promotion is the game itself.

Because USAA doesn’t try to get in the way of the game and simply uses it as a way to further brand themselves, they’re well received. This makes people more likely to look to them when needs arise in their lives.

As a customer of USAA myself, I was impressed with their approach. Every piece of media had their name attached to it and when a company develops a solid reputation and connects themselves to other quality programs, it reflects good judgment and makes you feel good about supporting them.

It was evident that a lot of time, thought and creativity went into the marketing campaign for this game and because of it, USAA will see their business grow. Hopefully the members of that pizza chain were taking notes.

Under The Radar:

Seth Everett filled in for 790 The Ticket in Miami this past Saturday. No word yet on whether or not he will appear again on the radio station.

Jim Bowden is doing less hosting on SiriusXM’s MLB channel. Bowden’s ESPN responsibilities have kept him busy during the MLB off-season. Former MLB Closer Brad Lidge and former MLB OF/IB Cliff Floyd are stepping in for Jim this week with Casey Stern.

After ESPN 105.5 exited the format last week, don’t expect Denver sports radio leader 104.3 The Fan to go unchallenged for long. Look for another competitor to emerge real soon. An announcement could come as early as next week.

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett




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

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

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

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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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it worked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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