Each day hosts across the country take to the airwaves spewing passionate opinions to engage audiences. Most will select stories that are being talked about in local papers and on local television and they’ll offer their own perspective on the subject and then seek out the audience’s feedback.
If you’re in a big market, phone activity will be high. Smaller markets will see less response. But whether you have 1 or 10 lines lit, that doesn’t mean the topic is hot or that the show is good.
Any good talent who is familiar to an audience, can sell a subject with passion, and elicit a response. You don’t get a passing grade in this business based on your ability to make a phone ring. That’s one part of the job. But there’s much more involved than delivering a ‘hot take’ and fielding a phone call.
I started thinking about the numerous things that go on during a radio show, and how the best performers in the industry bring them all to life on a daily basis. The great ones don’t even realize how much they do it. Those who do, stay in their positions for a long period of time because it usually means they’ve generated ratings.
To host a talk show for 3-4 hours per day, 5 days per week, and do it in expert fashion requires great skill. It’s one of the most difficult jobs in the entertainment business. Penetrating the mind of a listener requires many different approaches during a show but before you can have success executing your strategy, you need to understand what is involved and why it matters.
Standup comedians have a lot of success gaining entry into our minds. A comedian like Chris Rock, Jeff Ross, or Jerry Seinfeld can dominate a stage for 60-90 minutes and we’ll talk about their jokes and stories for the next week. But that’s only half of the time of what a sports talk show host does on a daily basis.
Could they deliver the same memorable lines, stories and laugh out loud moments if they had to double their workload each night? What if they had to provide it 5 days per week? Maybe they’d pull it off, but even the greatest in the world have weaknesses. The reason many of your favorite television programs are scripted, recorded, and edited is because creating meaningful LIVE content is extremely challenging.
That brings me back to the daily functions of a sports talk show. You can’t see when your listeners tune in or out, or how each person responds to the different subjects you discuss. Therefore, you’ve got to concentrate on the issues that most people care about because by positioning yourself that way, you set yourself up for the best chance to have success.
To get a better sense of what goes into a successful talk show, I came up with something that I believe highlights every important component of the job each day. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you “The 10 commandments of Sports Talk Radio“.
Identify The Hit Story – A host walks into their building each day wanting to discuss a number of things. The great ones understand that they benefit most by focusing their energies on the subjects that have the greatest appeal to the audience.
Many have heard the popular format term “play the hits” and that’s exactly what this is. Think of it like going to a concert to see your favorite band. You go because you want to see the artist play the songs that you know and enjoy most. If they play the songs they’ve never released, you’d be less likely to attend another show.
When you look at your show, you have to find the balance of what matters most to you, and what is most important to your listeners. The top story should be a subject with multiple angles that can be kept fresh over the span of a couple of hours. If it doesn’t have that potential, keep digging, because that means you’ve found a secondary topic.
A true hit story is one which will bring out your best 10-15 minute monologue, generate reaction over multiple hours of the show, capture the interest of guests who have been called to share their perspective on the angle, and open up other opportunities to be creative inside the program.
To use an example, if you were in Cincinnati today, you’d build your program around the Bengals collapse during Saturday night’s game. The rest of the NFL Playoffs may be compelling, and the same may be true for the College Football National Championship game, but the Bengals playoff disaster is going to move the audience most. Those other stories are your secondary hits.
However, if you were in Alabama, you’d easily flip the script and build your show around the College Football National Championship game. Everything else would be a secondary topic.
Present and Sell Your Topics – Once you’ve identified the hit story, the next step is understanding the multiple questions that can be asked and answered when discussing it. Every good subject has different sides to it. It’s your job to highlight those angles, explain your position on them, and let the audience determine how they feel about it. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re in the majority or minority with your stance, just focus on whether or not the audience will be invested in what you’re selling.
For example, if you were in Cincinnati and led off with your top story being “Marvin Lewis deserves to be fired“, you’d cite his poor playoff record, his lengthy stay which has shown that he can’t do better, and you’d question if he can control his players.
The other side to that argument would be that he was in position to win the game with a backup QB, he led the club to a 12-4 record including an 8-0 start, he’s developed NFL Head Coaches, and although he hasn’t won in the post-season, he still gets them there and has been among the best 10 in the league more often than not.
When you look at that angle, it’s easy to see how an audience could be divided on it. That’s why it becomes compelling. Presenting each side, stating where you sit, attacking the story with passion, and being honest and unapologetic with your point of view will help you keep the audience engaged.
Utilize Audio To Advance The Story – Some hosts lose sight of how important sound can be to their show’s presentation. I’ve heard people say “I hate using audio because it takes time away from my commentary“. That in my opinion is one of the silliest things you can think or say.
A great host recognizes that it’s not about the amount of words they deliver or the length of time that they speak. It’s how they maximize the minutes available inside their show. When you have audio that adds to your segment, it can be pure gold.
Think for a second about the fallout from the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game on Saturday night. I don’t care which of those cities you’re in, if you were on the air after that game and didn’t use Pac Man Jones’ expletive filled rant (bleeping it out of course) to further the story, you missed a golden opportunity.
The story may be the game itself, but listeners are drawn to the reactions of others. When you utilize audio to further an angle, it mentally engages your audience and makes it harder for them to tune out. Nothing is better than using audio of someone noteworthy to support or argue against your opinion. It makes the angle seem bigger than it is, and it gives you a piece of content to react off of.
Remember this and never forget it, people are fascinated by other people.
You could sit in the studio after that playoff game and say “I believe the Bengals got screwed, and Pac Man Jones agrees with my point of view“. After you air his comments and express your thoughts, you’d follow up with “Unfortunately, Mike Tomlin doesn’t share the same opinion“. After playing a cut of Tomlin, you’d have the audience eating out of your hand because they’ve been asked to pick a side, and when conflict, debate, and arguments take place, human beings can’t turn away from them.
Invite Audience Participation & React To It – When you establish a good opinion built around the right top story, and use audio to create a heavier emotional investment in the content, people will want to get involved in the discussion. It’s your job to let them know how to do it.
If you say you’re going to take calls but then spend the next 2 segments talking about the story and not incorporating people into the show, why bother asking for participation? Don’t waste their time or promise something you’re not ready to deliver on.
Once you make the commitment to involve the audience, give them the floor, listen intently, and be ready to respond. The goal isn’t to blow through the 6 lines that are lit and fill the segment with their reactions. Only you know there are 6 lines lit up. Local listeners are hanging on your words and waiting to hear what others think so they can decide if they want to interact themselves.
The key is to welcome the caller on, make sure they’re adding to the subject you’re discussing (the call screener shouldn’t be putting on a caller to talk about the National Title game when you’re emotionally fired up and talking about why Marvin Lewis has to go) and after listening to their comments, share your own reaction.
Whether your response is 10 seconds long, or 2 minutes in length, it shows you’re paying attention and listeners appreciate that. It sounds bad when a host takes three calls in a row and never gives their own opinion to anything the callers said. They dialed you up to engage in conversation with them. The least you can do is make them feel that it was worth their time.
That said, participation can also come in the form of Texts, Tweets, Facebook or Instagram comments. You don’t have an obligation to take calls. The main focus is to allow people to be part of the content experience, regardless of which platform they contribute on.
Book Guests Who Fit The Day’s Stories – If your show includes guests, make sure they fit the stories you’re discussing each day. Every now and then an exception can be made for an A-list guest, but as a rule of thumb, guests who are booked should fit what the show is talking about, not the other way around.
Sticking with the Cincinnati example, if you’re on the air and Marvin Lewis’ future and the Bengals collapse is your focus, do you really want to stop your momentum to have a chat with Jay Bruce of the Reds? If he was coming on, the first question I’d ask him is “What’s your reaction to what took place during the Bengals game“?
The audience has an expectation that you’re going to discuss the material they care most about. While they may love Jay Bruce in April, he doesn’t fit Monday’s funeral for the Bengals season.
If there’s one other thing to add to the guest situation, it’s to understand that they don’t need to occupy your entire segment. The conversation may be worth 3 minutes or it could be worth 15. You’ve got to ask the things that resonate most, listen carefully to the responses, and then recognize when something is done and when there’s more meat on the bone.
I listen often to shows and hear many hosts sleepwalk through conversations. There’s this feeling that because the individual has taken their time to come on, they need to be hit with a number of softballs and given the full 10-15 minutes. That’s not accurate.
When a guest agrees to come on, they do so without a time commitment. By agreeing to the interview, they’ve also opened themselves up to any line of questioning. It’s their job to decide how they want to answer your questions but it’s your job to ask the right ones.
Don’t make the mistake of giving ten minutes of your show to someone who doesn’t want to help you advance a topic. Make sure they fit your top stories and are addressing the key questions. The thought going in should be that they’ll add something interesting that you’ll be able to use snippets of it throughout the remainder of the show. If they don’t check that box, then why are they on?
Tease One Item of Interest – When a host heads to break, they see it as the end of a segment and a chance to catch a breather. But not many take advantage of what they say last.
Telling your listeners “We’ve got a lot more to do including your calls, back after this” or “We’ll talk more about this Bengals loss, the National Title game, the rest of the NFL Playoffs, and anything else on your mind when we return” isn’t going to give them any incentive to hang around or come back.
Many broadcasters don’t treat this part of the craft with the importance it deserves and that needs to change. Much of it is due to laziness and lack of preparation. From where I sit, if you know your audience is going to be hit with 4-5 minutes of commercials and potentially leave your show, why wouldn’t you do everything possible to make them want to come back?
I’ve heard guys say “they’re going to leave when the spots run, so what can I do about it“? Actually a ton. If you’re interesting with the last words you offer, they will do one of two things:
A) Think about your question and forget that they’re listening to commercials because they’re trying to come up with the answer in their own mind.
B) Leave the station when the commercials hit but think about what you last said and keep checking back to see if you’ve returned so they can receive the answer to the question.
One piece of advice, tease one simple question or item of interest when heading to break.
When you toss out multiple subjects, you’re asking the audience to do a lot of work. You’re also showing that you’re disorganized and not sure yourself where the show is going next. Those who tease one thing, and do it by making the audience think, benefit most.
For example, “Everyone is crushing the Bengals for what transpired in that 4th quarter but one top analyst thinks they got the short end of the stick. Is he nuts? You’ll hear his response next“.
At that point you’d come back from your break with sound of Deion Sanders on the NFL Network explaining why he felt the hit on Antonio Brown shouldn’t have been penalized, and you’d react off of it. Most listeners would be asking themselves during the commercial break “Who the heck is defending that hit?” By keeping them curious, they listen longer and that helps you grow your ratings.
One final suggestion, take 15-20 minutes before your show writing out some strong teases. If you need help, involve your producer. If you put the effort in and do it consistently, you will sound better and it will help you improve your show’s performance.
Create Multiple Angles Off of The Lead Topic – This is one of the most important parts to any talk show because usually a producer and host focus on their first top story but put all of the focus into that subject and don’t look at dividing it up throughout the remainder of the show.
If you want to keep a subject fresh for 4 hours, you can’t keep repeating the same points. Remember, the audience constantly changes so each hour the top story remains important. If you unload everything all at once, you will be mentally exhausted. That then leads to less interest in coming back to discuss the top story or relying on phone calls because you’ve tapped out on the topic.
It takes patience and a keen understanding of why it’s necessary to not provide your thoughts on every angle from a game during one subject. When you develop the skill to do it, you’ll find it can be extremely helpful to spread out your key takeaways over the span of 3-4 hours.
Let’s use the Bengals game as the example. We’ll build hour #1 around the chaos of the final two minutes. You’d spend 10-15 minutes kicking off the show discussing what took place, how you felt about the poor decisions of Pac Man Jones and Vontaze Burfict, asking what the punishment should be for their actions, focusing on Joey Porter’s role in the controversy and offering your position on how you thought the referees handled things and what you think the NFL should do about it.
The rest of the hour would include audio cuts which are related to the story, phone calls, possibly a guest, and more of your opinions and reaction on the topic. Nowhere in this hour are you diving head first into topics built around the other angles from the game.
When you get to hour 2, do you really want to spend another sixty minutes saying the same thing? Probably not. But the Bengals game is still the top story. So how do you keep it fresh? By introducing a new angle.
During this hour you’ll turn the focus towards Marvin Lewis’ future as Head Coach of the Bengals and why he does or doesn’t deserve to be back. You’d look at how long he’s led the team, his regular season and playoff records, the way he has or hasn’t held players accountable, who else would be an option if he was to be fired, and where you believe the team will go in the future if he is or isn’t there.
Once again, you’d add audio, guests, calls and additional angles built off of the conversation about Marvin Lewis. The chaos of the 4th quarter is not your focus during these sixty minutes.
For hour #3, you’d turn your attention to how to revamp the roster and explain what you took away from AJ McCarron’s play and looking at where he fits next year with Andy Dalton coming back. You’d examine the way to make up for losing Hue Jackson, who the team’s free agents are and which ones should be back and allowed to leave, and the topic would be built around “how do we get this team over the hump“.
In each of those hours, the Bengals are the lead story. By changing the focus of your topics from the 4th quarter chaos to Marvin Lewis to getting the Bengals over the hump, you’ve offered topics that have audience appeal and are fresh enough to keep you mentally engaged.
Reset Your Subject and Position – The audience changes every hour. For the guy who works M-F 8a-5p, he’s in his car from 5p-6p and during that hour your show is brand new to him. What you did in the 3pm and 4pm hour has no relevance. He judges you and decides whether to continue listening based on what you present when he’s available.
On the other hand, if someone worked 7a-3p or 8a-4p, they have the same expectations. Given that most people spend less than an hour commuting home from their jobs each day, and they listen to multiple stations, and don’t often listen to a station everyday, the goal is to maximize the opportunities we get and make sure they know who we are and where we broadcast.
One way you do that is by resetting your name, station, topic and position. There’s no set time during the show when a reset should be introduced but I find that hosts have no problem doing it during interviews but struggle with it in open segments.
If a segment is 15 minutes long, there’s no reason why midway through the segment you can’t incorporate a reset. With callers it’s easy too and can be done every 2-3 calls depending on how long they go.
It may seem robotic to the host but that’s because you do it repeatedly. The audience though doesn’t listen to every second of the show. If they get into their car at 5:05pm and pick up the middle of your conversation, they have to try to figure out what it is you’re discussing. By resetting the show, station, topic and position midway through a segment, it makes it easier for the listener to play along.
Even if someone listens for an entire segment, they’re not going to vacate the show or station because you reminded them. This is how branding works. You’d be amazed at what people will recall about a host, show or station due to frequent messaging.
An example of a reset is “You’re listening to Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio, we’re talking about the Bengals loss from Saturday night and I (Greeny) think Marvin Lewis has to go as a result of this loss, but Golic thinks that’s a ridiculous overreaction. Let us know your thoughts by calling/tweeting ____“.
Sell, Sell, Sell – We want ratings so we can make money. We create features, updates, guest segments and other programming opportunities because they can be sponsored and help us make money. We may love the topics we’re discussing and the medium we’re performing in, but this is still very much a business and one critical part of our jobs is to sell the messages provided by our advertisers.
This includes promotional messages, sponsored segments, LIVE commercial endorsements, appearances, remotes, etc. Hosts are frequently in programming mode, and thinking about the things they’re most passionate about. If the audience though doesn’t buy your advertisers products, and those clients remove their dollars from your show, you won’t be sharing your passions for long.
We sell topics, teases, resets, guests, callers, and soundbytes. Sponsor messages are no different. We may lack the same level of interest in promoting an appearance or product as the weekend’s best games, but when you crack that microphone and read a sponsor’s name and tag, you owe them the same enthusiasm.
They buy you and your show because they’re aware of the influence you have on the audience. But if they can’t benefit from that association, they’ll take their business elsewhere. And that makes it harder for you to ask you employer for bigger paydays in the future. If you can be an asset to your company on the business end, it’ll help you through those times when you’re a liability on the programming end.
Promote Your Digital and Social Platforms – It’s more important than ever to have strong digital and social media platforms. Audiences are listening less to LIVE programming and accessing content on-demand when it best suits their schedule. Although we may prefer that they experience the content LIVE, as long as they consume it, we still gain from it.
It’s your task on the air and on social media to remind the audience of the various ways they can enjoy your content. Promoting the website, podcast links and the station’s social media pages so listeners can be informed of things they may have missed is vital. Maybe it won’t help you earn ratings credit, but that download of your audio or station app counts towards your digital performance and those numbers matter too because they’re being sold to advertisers.
You should be cognizant of promoting your own social media identity and being present in the space. If a listener is a fan of yours, they’re going to want to engage with you beyond the show. When they follow you on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, they learn more about you, and that gives them further incentive to support you and the multiple things you’re passionate about.
Everything you do in life becomes content to them. The more they seek it out and form a stronger loyalty to you, the more it helps your own standing. And the more of an audience you have, the more power you possess come contract time.
Barrett Media Announces 3 Additions, Social Media Changes
“Luckily, I’ve been able to assemble a stellar group of people, which allows us to earn your attention each day, and I’m happy to reveal that we’re adding to our roster yet again.”
It’s taken years of hard work, adjustments, and a whole lot of trial and error to turn this brand into a trusted source for industry professionals. It’s been exciting and rewarding to tell stories, highlight the industry, and use my decades worth of knowledge and relationships to help the brands I work with make progress. But while I may prioritize the work I do for others, I’ve also got to balance it with making sure BSM and BNM run smoothly.
Each day, Barrett Media produces nearly fifty social posts, one to two newsletters, and twenty to thirty sports and news media stories and columns. I didn’t even mention podcasts, which is another space we recently entered. Making sure we’re delivering quality not quantity is vital, and so too is promoting it consistently and creatively.
Today, we have thirty people on our payroll. I never expected that to be the case, but as needs have increased and deeper bonds have been formed between the brand, our audience, and our clients, it’s allowed us to find new ways to invest in delivering insight, information, and opinion to our readers. Writing, editing, and creating content for a brand like ours isn’t for everyone. I just spent the past three months interviewing nearly forty people, and there’s a lot of quality talent out there. But talent for radio and journalism doesn’t always mean the fit is right for BSM and BNM. Luckily, I’ve been able to assemble a stellar group of people, which allows us to earn your attention each day, and I’m happy to reveal that we’re adding to our roster yet again.
First, please join me in welcoming Garrett Searight to BSM and BNM. Garrett has been hired as our FT Brand Editor, which means he will oversee BSM and BNM’s website’s content M-F during normal business hours. He will work closely with yours truly, our nighttime editors Arky Shea and Eduardo Razo, and our entire writing teams to create content opportunities for both of our brands. Garrett joins us after a decade long stint in Lima, OH where he most recently worked as program director and afternoon host at 93.1 The Fan. He also programmed classic country station 98.5 The Legend. His first day with us is August 1st, but he’ll be training this month to make sure he’s ready to hit the ground running.
Next, I am excited to welcome Alex Reynolds as our Social Media Coordinator. Alex’s creativity and curiosity stood out during our interview process, and we’re excited to have him helping with social content creation and scheduling for BSM and BNM. He’s a graduate of Elon University, a big fan of lacrosse, and he’ll be working with Dylan Barrett to improve our graphic creation, schedule our content, and further develop the social voice for both of our brands.
Speaking of our two brands, though we produce content on the website for both sports and news, how they get promoted on social is changing. When I started this company, the website was known as SportsRadioPD.com. That worked perfectly with my Twitter and Instagram handles, which were also @sportsradiopd. But since we switched our URL to BarrettSportsMedia.com and started ramping up content for both sports and news it’s become clear that we needed dedicated brand pages. It’s harder to expect people to share an individual’s content, and the mix of sports and news often feels off-brand to the two different audiences we serve. It feels even stranger if I’m buying social media ads to market content, a conference, and other things, so it’s time to change things up.
Starting today, you can now follow Barrett Sports Media on Twitter @BSMStaff. You can also follow Barrett News Media on Twitter @BNMStaff. Each brand also has its own Facebook page. Moving forward, we will promote sports media content on our sports accounts, and news media content on our news accounts. We started with that approach for BNM when the brand launched in September 2020, but expecting people to read another site and follow other social accounts was a tall order for a brand that was finding its footing. We made a choice to promote both sports and news under the same social accounts for the past year in order to further grow awareness for the content, and as we stand today, I think many would agree that BNM has made great strides. We’ve built a kick ass team to cover the news media industry, and I’m hoping many of you will take a moment to give BNM’s pages a follow to stay informed.
One thing you will notice is that the @BSMStaff account has replaced the @sportsradiopd account on Twitter. Let’s face it, most people who have followed me on Twitter have done so for BSM or BNM’s content, not for my NY Knicks and pro wrestling rants. I am keeping my @sportsradiopd handle but that is being developed as a brand new personal account. That said, if you enjoy sending DM’s my way, give the new @sportsradiopd account a follow so we can stay in touch. The only account we will use to promote content from both brands under is the Barrett Media account on LinkedIn. Instagram is not a focus right now nor is TikTok or Snapchat. I realize audiences exist everywhere but I’d rather be great at a few things than average at a lot of them.
Now that we’ve tackled the social media changes, let me share another exciting piece of news. I’m thrilled to welcome Jessie Karangu to our brand as a BSM weekly columnist. Jessie has great energy, curiosity, and a genuine love and passion for the media industry. He’s worked for Sinclair television, written for Awful Announcing, and has also hosted podcasts and video shows on YouTube. His knowledge and interest in television is especially strong, and I’m looking forward to featuring his opinions, and perspectives on our website. His debut piece for the site will be released this Wednesday.
With all of this happening, Demetri Ravanos is shifting his focus for the brand to a space he’s passionate about, audio. His new title is BSM’s Director of Audio Content. This means he will be charged with overseeing the editing, execution, and promotion of our various podcasts. He will also work closely with me in developing future Barrett Media shows. We have 3 in weekly rotation now, and will be adding Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves next week, and The Jason Barrett Podcast the week after that. The goal is to increase our audio library in the future provided the right ideas, talent, and interest are there.
Another goal of mine moving forward is to grow our advertising partnerships. Between our website, social media channels, podcasts, and newsletters, we have many ways to help brands connect to an affluent, influential, and loyal industry audience. We’ve enjoyed working with and helping brands over the years such as Point to Point Marketing, Jim Cutler NY, Steve Stone Voiceovers, Core Image Studio, Skyview Networks, Compass Media Networks, ESPN Radio and Harker Bos Group. That doesn’t include all of the great sponsors we’ve teamed up with for our annual BSM Summit (2023’s show will be announced by the end of the summer). I’m excited to add to the list by welcoming Backbone as a new website and newsletter partner. We’re also looking forward to teaming up in the near future with Quu and the Sports Gambling Podcast Network, and hope to work with a few others we’ve had recent dialogue with.
When it comes to marketing, I try to remind folks of our reach, the value we add daily across the industry, and the various ways we can help. I know it’s human nature to stick with what we know but if you work with a brand, I invite you to check into BSM/BNM further. Stephanie Eads is awesome to work with, cares about our partners, and our traffic, social impressions, and most importantly, the quality of our audience is proven. To learn more about what we can do, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.
Yes we continue to grow, and I’m happy about that, but just because we’re adding head count doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed to be better. It takes every person on a team holding up their end of the bargain, creating killer content, setting expectations, and paying attention to the follow through. We take pride in our work, value the support of our partners, and are extremely thankful for the continued readership of our material. That consistent support is what allows me to add to our team to better serve fans, partners, and industry professionals.
It may seem small, and unimportant but those retweets, comments, and mentions on the air about our content makes a difference. To all who take the time to keep our industry conversations alive, thank you. This is an awesome business with a lot of great brands, people, content, and growth opportunities, and the fact that we get to learn from you, share your stories, and help those reading learn in the process makes waking up to do it an honor.
Barrett Sports Media To Launch Podcast Network
“We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July.”
To run a successful digital content and consulting company in 2022 it’s vital to explore new ways to grow business. There are certain paths that produce a higher return on investment than others, but by being active in multiple spaces, a brand has a stronger chance of staying strong and overcoming challenges when the unexpected occurs. Case in point, the pandemic in 2020.
As much as I love programming and consulting stations to assist with growing their over the air and digital impact, I consider myself first a business owner and strategist. Some have even called me an entrepreneur, and that works too. Just don’t call me a consultant because that’s only half of what I do. I’ve spent a lot of my time building relationships, listening to content, and studying brands and markets to help folks grow their business. Included in my education has been studying website content selection, Google and social media analytics, newsletter data, the event business, and the needs of partners and how to best serve them. As the world of media continues to evolve, I consider it my responsibility to stay informed and ready to pivot whenever it’s deemed necessary. That’s how brands and individuals survive and thrive.
If you look at the world of media today compared to just a decade ago, a lot has changed. It’s no secret during that period that podcasting has enjoyed a surge. Whether you review Edison Research, Jacobs Media, Amplifi Media, Spotify or another group’s results, the story is always the same – digital audio is growing and it’s expected to continue doing so. And that isn’t just related to content. It applies to advertising too. Gordon Borrell, IAB and eMarketer all have done the research to show you where future dollars are expected to move. I still believe it’s smart, valuable and effective for advertisers to market their products on a radio station’s airwaves, but digital is a key piece of the brand buy these days, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Which brings me to today’s announcement.
If you were in New York City in March for our 2022 BSM Summit, you received a program at the show. Inside of one of the pages was a small ad (same image used atop this article) which said “Coming This Summer…The BSM Podcast Network…Stay Tuned For Details.” I had a few people ask ‘when is that happening, and what shows are you planning to create?’ and I kept the answers vague because I didn’t want to box ourselves in. I’ve spent a few months talking to people about joining us to help continue producing quality written content and improve our social media. Included in that process has been talking to members of our team and others on the outside about future opportunities creating podcasts for the Barrett Sports Media brand.
After examining the pluses and minuses, and listening and talking to a number of people, I’m excited to share that we are launching the BSM Podcast Network. We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July. Demetri Ravanos will provide oversight of content execution, and assist with production and guest booking needs for selected pods. This is why we’ve been frequently promoting Editor and Social Media jobs with the brand. It’s hard to pursue new opportunities if you don’t have the right support.
The titles that will make up our initial offerings are each different in terms of content, host and presentation. First, we have Media Noise with Demetri Ravanos, which has produced over 75 episodes over the past year and a half. That show will continue in its current form, being released each Friday. Next will be the arrival of The Sports Talkers Podcast with Stephen Strom which will debut on Thursday June 23rd, the day of the NBA Draft. After that, The Producer’s Podcast with Brady Farkas will premiere on Wednesday June 29th. Then as we move into July, two more titles will be added, starting with a new sales focused podcast Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves. The final title to be added to the rotation will be The Jason Barrett Podcast which yours truly will host. The goal is to have five weekly programs distributed through our website and across all podcasting platforms by mid to late July.
I am excited about the creation of each of these podcasts but this won’t be the last of what we do. We’re already working on additional titles for late summer or early fall to ramp up our production to ten weekly shows. Once a few ideas and discussions get flushed out, I’ll have more news to share with you. I may consider adding even more to the mix too at some point. If you have an idea that you think would resonate with media professionals and aspiring broadcasters, email me by clicking here.
One thing I want to point out, this network will focuses exclusively on various areas of the sports media industry. We’ll leave mainstream sports conversations to the rest of the media universe. That’s not a space I’m interested in pursuing. We’ve focused on a niche since arriving on the scene in 2015 and have no plans to waver from it now.
Additionally, you may have noticed that we now refer to our company as ‘Barrett Media’. That’s because we are now involved in both sports and news media. That said, we are branding this as the BSM Podcast Network because the titles and content are sports media related. Maybe there will be a day when we introduce a BNM version of this, but right now, we’ve got to make sure the first one works right before exploring new territory.
Our commitment to delivering original industry news, features and opinions in print form remains unchanged. This is simply an opportunity to grow in an area where we’ve been less active. I know education for industry folks and those interested in entering the business is important. It’s why young people all across the country absorb mountains of debt to receive a college education. As valuable as those campus experiences might be, it’s a different world once you enter the broadcasting business.
What I’d like to remind folks is that we continue to make investments in the way we cover, consult, and discuss the media industry because others invest in us. It’d be easy to stockpile funds and enjoy a few more vacations but I’m not worried about personal wealth. I’m focused on building a brand that does meaningful work by benefitting those who earn a living in the media industry or are interested in one day doing so. As part of that process I’m trying to connect our audience to partners who provide products, services or programs that can benefit them.
Since starting this brand, we’ve written more than 18,000 articles. We now cover two formats and produce more than twenty five pieces of content per day. The opportunity to play a small role in keeping media members and future broadcasters informed is rewarding but we could not pay people to edit, write, and host podcasts here if others didn’t support us. For that I’m extremely grateful to those who do business with us either as a consulting client, website advertiser, Summit partner or through a monthly or annual membership. The only way to get better is to learn from others, and if our access to information, knowledge, relationships and professional opinions helps others and their brands, then that makes what we do worthwhile.
Thanks as always for the continued support. We appreciate that you read our content each day, and hope to be able to earn some of your listenership in the future too.
5 Mistakes To Avoid When Pursuing Media Jobs
“Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.”
I recently appeared on a podcast, Monetize Media, to discuss the growth of Barrett Media. The conversation covered a lot of ground on business topics including finding your niche, knowing your audience and serving them the right content in the right locations, the evolution of the BSM Summit, and why consulting is a big part of our mix but can’t be the only thing we do.
Having spent nearly seven years growing this brand, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just know what’s worked for us, and it starts with vision, hard work, consistency, and a willingness to adapt quickly. There are many areas we can be better in whether it’s social media, editing, SEO, sales, finding news, producing creative original content or adding more staff. Though there’s always work to be done and challenges to overcome, when you’re doing something you love and you’re motivated to wake up each day doing it, that to me is success.
But lately there’s one part of the job that I haven’t enjoyed – the hiring process. Fortunately in going through it, I was able to get to know Arky Shea. He’s a good guy, talented writer, and fan of the industry, and I’m thrilled to share that he’s joining us as BSM’s new night time editor. I’ll have a few other announcements to make later this month, but in the meantime, if you’re qualified to be an editor or social media manager, I’m still going through the process to add those two positions to our brand. You can learn more about both jobs by clicking here.
Working for an independent digital brand like ours is different from working for a corporation. You communicate directly with yours truly, and you work remotely on a personal computer, relying on your eyes, ears and the radio, television, and internet to find content. Because our work appears online, you have to enjoy writing, and understand and have a passion for the media industry, the brands who produce daily content, and the people who bring those brands to life. We receive a lot of interest from folks who see the words ‘sports’ and ‘news’ in our brand names and assume they’re going to cover games or political beats. They quickly discover that that’s not what we do nor are we interested in doing it.
If you follow us on social media, have visited our website or receive our newsletters, you’ve likely seen us promoting openings with the brand. I’ve even bought ads on Indeed, and been lucky enough to have a few industry folks share the posts on social. We’re in a good place and trying to make our product better, so to do that, we need more help. But over the past two months, Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.
Receiving applications from folks who don’t have a firm grasp of what we do is fine. That happens everywhere. Most of the time we weed those out. It’s no different than when a PD gets an application for a top 5 market hosting gig from a retail employee who’s never spoken on a microphone. The likelihood of that person being the right fit for a role without any experience of how to do the job is very slim. What’s been puzzling though is seeing how many folks reach out to express interest in opportunities, only to discover they’re not prepared, not informed or not even interested in the role they’ve applied for.
For instance, one applicant told me on a call ‘I’m not interested in your job but I knew getting you on the phone would be hard, and I figured this would help me introduce myself because I know I’m a great host, and I’d like you to put me on the radar with programmers for future jobs.’ I had another send a cover letter that was addressed to a different company and person, and a few more applied for FT work only to share that they can’t work FT, weren’t interested in the work that was described in the position, didn’t know anything about our brand but needed a gig, were looking for a confidence boost after losing a job or they didn’t have a computer and place to operate.
At first I thought this might be an exclusive issue only we were dealing with. After all, our brand and the work we do is different from what happens inside of a radio or TV station. In some cases, folks may have meant well and intended something differently than what came out. But after talking to a few programmers about some of these things during the past few weeks, I’ve been stunned to hear how many similar horror stories exist. One top programmer told me hiring now is much harder than it was just five years ago.
I was told stories of folks applying for a producer role at a station and declining an offer unless the PD added air time to the position. One person told a hiring manager they couldn’t afford not to hire them because their ratings were tanking. One PD was threatened for not hiring an interested candidate, and another received a resume intended for the competing radio station and boss. I even saw one social example last week of a guy telling a PD to call him because his brand was thin on supporting talent.
Those examples I just shared are bad ideas if you’re looking to work for someone who manages a respected brand. I realize everyone is different, and what clicks with one hiring manager may not with another, but if you have the skills to do a job, I think you’ll put yourself in a better position by avoiding these 5 mistakes below. If you’re looking for other ways to enhance your chances of landing an opportunity, I recommend you click here.
Educate Yourself Before Applying – take some time to read the job description, and make sure it aligns with your skillset and what you’re looking to do professionally before you apply. Review the company’s body of work and the people who work there. Do you think this is a place you’d enjoy being at? Does it look like a job that you’d gain personal and professional fulfillment from? Are you capable of satisfying the job requirements? Could it potentially put you on the path to greater opportunities? If most of those produce a yes, it’s likely a situation to consider.
Proofread Your Email or Cover Letter and Resume – If the first impression you give a hiring manager is that you can’t spell properly, and you address them and their brand by the wrong names, you’re telling them to expect more mistakes if they hire you. Being detail oriented is important in the media business. If this is your introduction to someone and they have a job you’re interested in, you owe it to yourself to go through your materials thoroughly before you press send. If you can have someone else put an extra set of eyes on your introduction to protect you from committing a major blunder even better.
Don’t Waste People’s Time – You’d be annoyed if a company put you through a 3-4 week process only to tell you they didn’t see you as a viable candidate right? Well, it works the other way too. If you’re not seriously interested in the job or you’re going into the process hoping to change the job description later, don’t apply. If the fit isn’t right or the financials don’t work, that’s OK. Express that. People appreciate transparency. Sometimes they may even call you back in the future when other openings become available. But if you think someone is going to help you after you wasted their time or lied to them, trust me, they won’t.
Don’t Talk Like An Expert About Things You Don’t Know – Do you know why a station’s ratings or revenue is down? Are you aware of the company’s goals and if folks on the inside are satisfied or upset? Is the hiring manager someone you know well enough to have a candid professional conversation with? If the answers are no, you’re not helping your case by talking about things you don’t have full knowledge of. You have no idea how the manager you’re talking to has been dealing with the challenges he or she is faced with so don’t pretend you do. Just because someone wrote an article about it and you read it doesn’t mean you’re informed.
Use Social Wisely – Being frustrated that you didn’t get a job is fine. Everyone goes through it. Asking your friends and followers for advice on social of how you could’ve made a better case for yourself is good. That shows you’re trying to learn from the process to be better at it next time. But taking to social to write a book report blasting the hiring manager, their brand, and/or their company over a move that didn’t benefit you just tells them they made the right move by not bringing you in. Chances are, they won’t be calling you in the future either.