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Welcome To The 2016 Sports Radio Draft

Jason Barrett

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Welcome to the second annual sports radio draft. I created this project last year to introduce sports radio fans, and industry people to some of the sports format’s top program directors, and offer a small snapshot of the way they view the nation’s top personalities and talk shows.

If you love sports the way many of us in the sports talk format do, then you recognize that an event like the NFL draft is a crapshoot. Proclaiming victory or defeat after selecting a player without seeing them suit up and make plays on the field is pretty silly. But, most of us can’t resist the temptation to do it anyway.

What fun would the draft be if we couldn’t second guess the general manager, head coach, and owner of every single NFL franchise for the moves they make?

Well, in sports radio it’s not much different. Any time a personnel decision is made, there’s instant reaction from the audience. New shows are written off before they hit the air. The program director is met with a barrage of insults, and threats through email and social media, and the thought of waiting twelve to eighteen months to evaluate a program is considered absurd. It’s even worse if a radio station brings in a host or show from another city.

Although it may not be sexy or what people want to hear sometimes, it takes time to gauge whether or not a show is going to work. It’s no different than a football team using a high draft pick on a prospect, and giving them multiple opportunities to prove that they can be a difference maker on the professional level.

If a franchise is going to invest a high draft pick, and big dollars on someone who they believe can make their team better, they’re not going to bail on that individual after their first or second game or play. Fans may not like it, but teams need to employ a long-term strategy rather than overreact to short-term problems. In radio, the same holds true.

Are there exceptions? Yes of course. A great programmer can tell when they have a bad combination on their airwaves, or a person’s work ethic or attitude isn’t where it needs to be for the station to experience success. Those are tough calls that have to be made on occasion. Once a decision is made to pull the plug and move on, it isn’t usually until all options have been exhausted. There are only so many times when a programmer can call the head of the company and say “I screwed up”.

As I watched the NFL Draft unfold last night, I was reminded of how inexact the entire process is. It’s important to study your information, exhaust your resources, and listen to your inner circle, but when the time comes to make a choice, the best thing you can do is trust your gut.

We applaud some organizations for being ballsy, and criticize others for being timid, when in reality we have less information, and skill to make the selection than the individuals who are paid to run each war room. Do terrible general managers, and organizations exist? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not more advanced in their scouting of talent than we are. I stress this point because the same situation presents itself often in radio.

The audience likes who they like, and want what they want, and anything less is considered awful – until they get used to it. Most people are creatures of habit, and resist anything new. Once it becomes comfortable, they adapt.

Many listeners aren’t privy to the information that the programmer has at their disposal. They just want to hear the hosts in a setting that they prefer. But more goes into it decision making than that.

There are economics, relationships, schedules, creative styles, ratings track records, and a myriad of other factors to consider when putting a show on the air. Even smaller things such as “is the show better suited for morning or afternoon”, “should we feature a solo program or team show”, “do the hosts sound too much alike”, “are they too far apart as people to develop a consistent flow”, “are they coachable”, all come into play when deciding if a show fits what the programmer wants on their radio station.

I decided to put thirty two of the nation’s best sports radio minds on the clock, and give them an opportunity to select one show each. Unlike last year where we focused on individuals, the goal this year was to select full shows. That meant they could draft a solo hosted program, or a show with two, three or four personalities.

To create the draft order I stuck with what worked last year – pulling thirty two names out of hat (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). However, I did make two key changes.

First, I changed up some of the programmers to give other station leaders an opportunity to participate who weren’t involved last year. There are some familiar names and faces still in the mix, but altogether I included sixteen new people.

Secondly, I prohibited each programmer from picking one of their own local talk shows. It’s natural to want to appease our own people, but if everyone had a blank canvas tomorrow, and could hire one dynamic show to grow their station’s ratings, and revenue, we may or may not stick with what we have. This put the entire crew in a position to be a little more neutral.

I want to thank each of these programmers for not only taking part in the exercise, but also putting their names behind each selection. I also want to congratulate the shows that made the list of 32. Keep in mind that each programmer has a different perspective on what makes a great sports radio show, and the results are often determined by where an individual picks. Just because someone chooses a particular show, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t take a different one if they had a higher draft choice.

The sports radio industry has hundreds of people hosting programs all across the country each day, and many are doing it well. But talent isn’t the only thing that matters. It’s often about fit, style, sound, work ethic, attitude, connection, and ratings and revenue potential. Certain shows may deliver big numbers for one programmer, but fire blanks for another. They may dominate in one market yet crash and burn in another.

As you watch the NFL Draft, I hope you’ll take some of these things into account. One team’s trash can be another one’s treasure, and sure-thing prospects, and no-chance free agents, often succeed or fail depending on who they play for, and which system they perform in. The radio business is eerily similar. Which is why hiring people and/or shows can be challenging, rewarding, and occasionally catastrophic.

Now without further delay, it’s time to unveil the 32 sports radio talk show selections in the 2016 Sports Radio Draft! Let the debates begin!

Order Programmer/Station Show/Station
1. Matt Nahigian, 97.5 The Fanatic-Philadelphia Dan Lebatard w/ Stugotz-ESPN Radio
2. Mike Thomas, 98.5 The Sports Hub-Boston Valenti & Foster-97.1 The Ticket
3. Chad Abbott, KFAN-Minneapolis Dave “Softy” Mahler-950 KJR
4. Justin Craig, 98.7 ESPN-New York City Stephen A. Smith-Mad Dog Sports Radio
5. Ryan Maguire, 560 WQAM-Miami Josh Innes-Sports Radio WIP
6. Brad Willis, 104.5 The Zone-Nashville The Dan Patrick Show-Fox Sports Radio
7. Gavin Spittle, 105.3 The Fan-Dallas Mike Meltser & Seth Payne-Sports Radio 610
8. Adam Delevitt, ESPN 1000-Chicago Mike and Mike-ESPN Radio
9. Armen Williams, 104.3 The Fan-Denver Boomer and Carton-WFAN
10. Bruce Gilbert, Cumulus Media-Dallas Colin Cowherd-Fox Sports Radio
11. Steve Torre, Mad Dog Sports Radio-New York City NBA Today w/ Justin Termine & Eddie Johnson-SiriusXM
12. John Hanson, 610 Sports-Kansas City Dan Barreiro-KFAN
13. Kevin Graham, WEEI-Boston Mad Dog Unleashed w/ Chris Russo-SiriusXM
14. D.J Stout, 610 The Fan WFNZ-Charlotte Mike Francesa-WFAN
15. Lee Hammer, KNBR-San Francisco The Musers-Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket
16. Scott Masteller, WBAL-Baltimore  Jorge & Izzy-ESPN Radio
17. Ray Necci, ESPN Radio-Bristol Tony Kornheiser-ESPN 980
18. Jay Taylor, 97.1 The Fan-Columbus Petros & Money-AM 570 KLAC
19. Ryan McCredden, 610 KILT-Houston Gio and Jones-CBS Sports Radio
20. Scott Shapiro, Fox Sports Radio-Los Angeles Paul Allen-KFAN
21. Tim Spence, 97.9 ESPN-Hartford Big Al & D’Mac-104.3 The Fan
22. Ryan Hatch, Arizona Sports 98.7FM-Phoenix The Hardline-Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket
23. Chris Kinard, 106.7 The Fan-Washington DC Toucher & Rich-98.5 The Sports Hub
24. Dennis Glasgow, 99.9 The Fan-Raleigh The Drive w/ Cooley & Czabe-ESPN 980
25. Gregg Henson, 970 ESPN-Pittsburgh Mark Madden-105.9 The X
26. Tom Parker, 105.7 The Fan-Milwaukee Amy Lawrence-CBS Sports Radio
27. Dave Tepper, 1620 The Zone-Omaha The Blitz w/ Fred and AJ-ESPN 97.5
28. Allan Davis, WGR 550-Buffalo Damon Amendolara-CBS Sports Radio
29. John Mamola, WDAE-Tampa Waddle & Silvy-ESPN 1000
30. Rich Moore, 950 KJR-Seattle Mike Missanelli-97.5 The Fanatic
31. Jeff Austin, 1080 The Fan-Portland Brock and Salk-710 ESPN
32. Brian Long, XTRA Sports 1360-San Diego Mason and Ireland-ESPN LA 710

Barrett Blogs

Jeff Catlin, John Mamola, Gordy Rush & Maggie Clifton Join The 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

Jason Barrett

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We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on BSMSummit.com.

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit BSMSummit.com.

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Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett

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As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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California College Students Earn Chance to Win 10 Free Tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit Thanks to Steve Kamer Voiceovers

“In order to win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event.”

Jason Barrett

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With a new year comes renewed energy and optimism for the sports media business. Yours truly is looking forward to showcasing the best our business has to offer when we gather the industry in Los Angeles, CA at the 2023 BSM Summit at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California on March 21-22, 2023. Our conference is returning to the west coast for the first time since 2019. We’ve announced some super talented speakers. We’ve got additional things in the works and I plan to make additional announcements in the next few weeks.

People often ask me what the biggest challenge is putting this event together. My answer is always the same, it’s getting people to leave the comfort of their office and spend two days in a room together learning and discussing ways to grow the business. We have great sponsorship support and exceptional people on stage and are fortunate to have a lot of folks already set to attend. Our venue this year has extra space though, so I’m hoping a few more of you make time to join us. If you haven’t bought a ticket or reserved your hotel room, visit BSMSummit.com to make sure you’re all set.

If there’s one thing our industry could get better at it’s opening our minds to new ideas and information. There’s more than one path to success. Just because you’re in good shape today doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. Building brands, growing audiences, increasing revenue, and examining new opportunities is an ongoing process. There are many shifts along the way. We may not solve every business challenge during our two-days together but you’ll leave the room more connected and informed than when you entered it.

Each year I’ll get two or three emails from folks sharing that they learned more about the industry in two-days at the Summit than they have in ___ years inside of their building. That’s truly gratifying and what I strive to achieve when I put this event together. I remember when conferences like this didn’t exist for format folks and I take the risk and invest the time and resources to create it because I love the sports media industry and believe I can help it thrive. I see great value in gathering professionals to share ideas, information, and meet others who can help them grow their business, and if we do our part, I’m confident some will want to work with us too. That’s how we benefit over the long haul.

But as much as I focus on serving the professional crowd, I also think we have a responsibility to educate young people who are interested, passionate, and taking steps to be a part of our business in the future. The BSM website is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each month and it’s become a valuable resource for folks who enjoy sports radio and television. I think it’s vital to use our platform, influence and two-day event to connect generations and I’m happy to announce that we will once again welcome college students at this year’s Summit.

Most of us who’ve been in this line of work for two or three decades learned the business without podcasts, YouTube, social media, the web or conferences delivering two full days of sessions that taught you more about the business than what’s available inside of a class room. We learned by doing, and hoping we were right. Then we copied others who had success. Some of that still exists, and that’s not a bad thing. But where our business goes in the future is going to be drastically different.

I’d like to see the difference makers in our format remembered for years to come, and practices that have stood the test of time remain valued down the line. Change is inevitable in every business and I’m excited about the road that lies ahead especially some of the technological advancements that are now available or will soon become a bigger part of our industry. I think we can embrace the future while enjoying the present and celebrating the past. The best way to do that is by bringing together everyone who is and is hoping to be a part of the sports media universe.

So here’s two things we’re doing to make sure future broadcasters have an opportunity to learn with us.

First, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Steve Kamer Voiceovers. Thanks to Steve’s generosity, TEN (10) college students will be given FREE tickets to attend the 2023 BSM Summit in March. Steve is a USC graduate (Class of 1985) and he bought the ten tickets to help young people learn about the industry, save money and make valuable connections. When I first received his order, I thought he hit the wrong button. I reached out to tell him a mistake was made and I needed to refund him. That’s when he told me what he wanted to do for students who were pursuing their broadcasting dreams just as we both did years ago. A very classy gesture on his part.

As it pertains to the contest, here’s how it’s going to work.

To win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event. Included in your email should be a list of steps that you’ve taken or are pursuing to explore opportunities in the media industry. If you want to pass along a resume and audio or video clips too to showcase your work and experience, that’s fine as well. BSM will accept submissions until February 17th. The winners will be announced on Friday February 24th.

Helping me select the winners will be an exceptional panel of media executives. Each of these folks below will choose one person to attend our L.A. event. The final two will be picked by Steve Kamer and myself.

  • Scott Shapiro – Senior Vice President, FOX Sports Radio
  • Justin Craig – Senior Program Director, ESPN Radio
  • Jeff Sottolano – Executive Vice President, Programming, Audacy
  • Bruce Gilbert – Senior Vice President of Sports, Cumulus Media & Westwood One
  • Amanda Gifford – Vice President, Content Strategy & Audio, ESPN
  • Jacob Ullman – Senior Vice President, Production and Talent Development, FOX Sports
  • Greg Strassell – Senior Vice President, Programming, Hubbard Radio
  • Scott Sutherland – Executive Vice President, Bonneville International

To qualify for the BSM Summit College Contest, students must be enrolled in college in the state of California, pursuing a degree that involves course work either in radio, television, print or the digital business. Those attending local trade schools with a focus on broadcasting are also welcome to participate. You must be able to take care of your own transportation and/or lodging.

This is a contest I enjoy running. We’ve had great participation during our prior two shows in New York City but haven’t done it before on the west coast. I’m hoping it’s helpful to California students and look forward to hearing from many of them during the next month.

For students who live out of state and wish to attend or those enrolled at local universities who enter the contest but aren’t lucky enough to win one of the ten free tickets from Steve Kamer Voiceovers, we are introducing a special two-day college ticket for just $124.99. You must provide proof that you’re currently in school to take advantage of the offer. This ticket gives you access to all of our sessions inside the Founders Club. College tickets will be limited to forty (40) seats so take advantage of the opportunity before it expires.

The 2023 BSM Summit will feature award ceremonies with Emmis Communication CEO Jeff Smulyan and legendary WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, sessions with influential on-air talent such as Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, and Mina Kimes, big picture business conversations with executives from groups such as Audacy, iHeart, Bonneville, Good Karma Brands, Barstool, The Volume, Omaha Productions and more. For details on tickets and hotel rooms visit BSMsummit.com.

I look forward to seeing you in March in Los Angeles!

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