Connect with us
BSM Summit

Barrett Blogs

How Muhammad Ali’s Quotes Relate In Sports Media

Jason Barrett



On Friday night at 11:10pm, the world lost an icon. The greatest boxer to grace the squared circle, Muhammad Ali, was called home. His ascension to heaven has left many across the nation sad, but his departure from earth now gives the man upstairs access to the greatest fighter of all-time. I’m sure negotiations for a fourth fight with “Smokin” Joe Frazier will start soon.

Ali’s accomplishments in the ring spoke for themselves. To many, he was more than a champion and colorful personality. He was an influencer, an activist, a husband, a father, a man of faith, and someone who was charitable, kind, cocky, and humble. He lived the better part of the past three decades with Parkinson’s disease, but refused the world’s pity. Others might have asked “why me”, but not Ali. He lived life without regret, and was at peace.

I was fortunate to grow up with a father who loved boxing. I was introduced to the greatness of Muhammad Ali early on, and over the years I’ve watched many of his fights and listened to countless interviews to get a deeper understanding of why he was unique and one of the most important personalities in the history of sports. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but was impressed with what he stood for inside and outside of the ring just like many others.

Today, the media business uses hype to sell events and content. There’s a steady diet of coverage given to athletes who produce a great soundbite. Games that involve compelling storylines and drama, get pushed into prime time and air on the biggest days of the sports calendar. On and off the field actions that draw a reaction become front page headlines. If an athlete discusses subjects that are viewed as controversial or outside the sports realm, it quickly becomes national news. It’s the type of material that networks salivate over.

We crave personalities on camera and in front of microphones who speak more like Charles Barkley, and less like Derek Jeter or Steph Curry. We all appreciate greatness but when personality is added to the mix, it’s an unbeatable combination. A big reason why athletes have been given a forum to showcase their personalities, and speak their minds, is because Ali paved the way.

When Ali ruled the world, he made sure everyone knew it. He had a flair for the dramatic, and a style that demanded your attention. He was funny, articulate, unfiltered, charming, witty, brash, creative, and sometimes, arrogant. Those attributes made his interviews and fights must-see events. He understood the power of the media, how to use it to his advantage, and how it could help him professionally, and personally. Without Ali, Charles Barkley, T.O., Reggie Jackson, Allen Iverson, and countless other athletes might never have become as popular as they did. They may also not have had an opportunity to address social issues or use their celebrity to make a difference.

Consider this, when Ali fought, there was no pay per view business. Today, many companies (WWE, UFC, Boxing) rely heavily on income generated from direct to consumer purchases to sustain their operations. But even without pay per view, Ali had the entire world’s interest. His predictions made headlines in every newspaper. His personality was a magnet for television. He combined his verbal skills and in-ring style and execution, and became the baddest man on the planet. He was a fighting champion who took on the best the boxing world had to offer. In doing so, he’d slug it out with everyone, even to his own physical detriment. When his career ended, few questioned his place as the greatest to wear a pair of boxing gloves.

During the past weekend, you’ve probably read an article or two on Ali, or watched some of the coverage about him on television. If not, maybe you listened to radio hosts discuss his impact, or dug into the archives on YouTube to be reminded of his brilliance.

One thing which Ali was masterful of was the quote. When he said something, it stuck. His words often wound up on living room walls or hanging inside of corporate offices. Although most of his commentaries were directed towards his profession, they were transferrable to every other form of business.

I started thinking about the quotes he offered and the way they relate today in the sports media industry. I selected thirteen of my favorite’s and added a few thoughts to describe how they translate to what we do. He may not have meant to influence the sports media business with the words he uttered, but this is just another example of the greatness of Muhammad Ali. Thank you for the memories champ! You truly were one of a kind.

ali101. “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

*** When the lights go on, it’s showtime….but the product you present won’t be great if you haven’t put in the preparation time necessary to stand out. From collaborating with your teammates, to engaging your audience, analyzing the data to understand how you can better help your show be successful, everything done before and after the show is just as important as what you do during it. Allen Iverson may not have been a fan of practice, but great practice habits lead to great execution when it counts most….that’s why Ali was a champion and Iverson never was.

ali52. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

*** From the people you hire, to the content you create, to the way you interact with the audience or each other, being willing to adapt and try new things will not only keep you mentally engaged and excited, but it will keep your audience feeling that way too. Nobody remembers people who operate comfortably and refuse to risk their position to do something great. It’s those who take chances and have passion, vision, and the confidence necessary to make them work that connect in the biggest way.

ali93. “A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

*** Life changes quickly. The way we broadcast now is different than 10-20 years ago. People now text more than call. They use social media instead of newspapers. Audiences watch or listen to content on-demand not always live as it happens. Music is bought through apps less than in stores. There are many great skills we’ve learned in our careers and many of them are transferrable, but changing with the times, and opening our minds to the future, is important to succeeding. Embrace the unknown, rather than running from it.

ali4. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

*** In broadcasting, the goal is to take the audience on an emotional journey. They need to feel your enthusiasm. Cheer you on or wish to choke you when you deliver scorching opinions that demand their attention. Sob with you when your sadness can’t be hidden. Laugh with you and at you, when you display your vulnerabilities. There are multiple layers to your personality, and that’s the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else. Let them in, and they’ll learn to appreciate every part of what makes you who you are.

ali85. “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.”

*** If you don’t have confidence in yourself, who will? Sometimes you have to build your own ego before others can do it for you. If you want others to recognize what you bring to the table, you have to command their attention, and deliver when they’re watching. Talent eventually wins out, but earning respect, appreciation, and support is the result of letting people know you have something to offer and aren’t afraid to prove it. 

ali76. “If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.”

*** Everyone starts somewhere. Before you reach the peak of your career, you’ll go through adversity. It’s part of the process. Be receptive to criticism. Seek out people who will provide an honest opinion of your work and give you suggestions to improve. Say yes to jobs that might not be your ultimate goal but put you one step closer to being ready for it. The more you develop trust with a boss, and improve your skills, while getting a stronger understanding of what they need, the closer you’ll be to becoming somebody.

ali147. “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

*** You can have a great voice, look, resume, or connections, but your potential will never be maximized if you don’t have the inner drive to push yourself to the limit. Are you willing to sacrifice to get to where you want to be? What if that means relocating? Missing holidays with your family? Earning less than you believe you’re worth? Do you want it that bad? Talent is one part of the equation. When it’s combined with a burning desire to be the best at any cost, that’s when you’ll reach your full potential.

ali158. “It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”

*** You might have big ratings, get recognized in restaurants, have powerful people part of your inner circle, and a paycheck that confirms you’re important. Those are the perks of being a success on radio or television. But to steal a line from Lou Holtz, everyone puts their pants on the same way. Don’t become so caught up in your own ego that you forget who you were before you reached a level that only you thought was possible in your dreams.

ali139. “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

*** Those who think they are beaten, are. No battle is won without confidence. Be willing to embrace a challenge. Whether you’re taking on a radio or television brand that’s enjoyed decades of success. Working with a high profile personality who’s so good that you’re unsure of how to make them better. Or something simpler like growing your social media following or caller activity inside your talk show. If you approach the situation with doubt in your mind, it’s only a matter of time until it takes control of you.

ali1110. “Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.”

*** We all make mistakes in this business. There are times when we don’t meet expectations. Our words and/or actions may even offend or create issues with people we’re close to or in business with. When you’re in the wrong or not in a position of strength, understand that you’re not going to win every war. Sometimes you have to just listen, nod, and let people express themselves. Be willing to hear and understand their concerns, and work towards improving the situation. We all have opinions, and love to talk, but the wisest ones recognize that biting their tongue is necessary sometimes to continue enjoying a great position, and positive working relationship.

ali1611. “I never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.”

*** Winning is in our DNA. We want to be the highest rated talk show in the market. The best paid personality on a radio or TV station. The host featured on billboards who the city takes notice of. But when we come up short (and you will at some point), it’s important to learn from it, and handle losing with class. Being arrogant and offering excuses only makes you easier to root against. Tipping your cap to the competitor and giving credit where it’s due, shows people that you have respect. It may twist your insides apart but more people will flock to your corner, and help you enjoy future success if you treat others respectfully when the odds don’t turn in your favor.

ali412. “Don’t count the days; make the days count.”

*** Every second, minute, segment, hour, and day is an opportunity to create something memorable. How you approach it determines whether or not it matters. Don’t “fill” your air time, own it. Don’t take the safest path because it’s solid and simple, pursue a new road that leads you to greater heights. You’re blessed to do a job that millions wish they could. Never lose sight of that. Take advantage of it every chance you get, because if you don’t, there will be plenty of others who are willing to make that commitment.

ali613. “People don’t realize what they had till it’s gone. Like President Kennedy, there was no one like him, The Beatles, and my man Elvis Presley. I was the Elvis of boxing.”

*** Do you think about your legacy? Do you live day to day or think about the long-term impact you hope to leave on the industry? When you’ve spoken your final sentence on the air one day, will your departure matter to those you broadcasted to? Will they remember the body of work you produced five to ten years after you’re gone? It’s impossible to know what the future entails, but there’s a big difference between being a successful host and a game changer. Work towards developing a deeper connection with your listeners or viewers. Establish a niche in the market that makes you unique. Challenge yourself to do work that moves, influences, and satisfies the audience. The longer you do it, the more likely you are to look back one day and appreciate the contributions you made. It could very well make you a legendary figure.

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett




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 For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at

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

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

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

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




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.”

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

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




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 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 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

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

Continue Reading


Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2023 Barrett Media.