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Dealing with Tragedy in Sports Talk Radio

Jason Barrett

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Sports radio serves as a distraction from everyday life for its audience. Whether you listen to it while in transit to or from work or while sitting in an office attempting to perform your responsibilities, the programming is in place to inform, entertain, and at times stir emotions. It’s a format that is listened to largely by males 25-54 and they seek it out because sports provides a genuine joy to their life that few other things can.

But what happens when a real life tragedy occurs in your neighborhood? The thought of listening to two sports radio hosts debate a batter’s ability to hit a baseball or provide context on why a basketball player is able to shoot a little orange ball into an eighteen inch hoop, while serious issues linger in a community seems off-color. The joy and distraction that sports radio is asked to provide suddenly is no longer acceptable. On-air talent who are built to have fun, inform, debate, and connect, are transformed from the cool guys you want to hang out and drink a beer with, into messengers who are there to update information and share the more serious side of themselves by letting you know how an incident makes them feel.

Although many on-air hosts in sports radio have interests beyond the sports world, and some have even dabbled in delivering news/talk shows themselves, the reality is that not many are trained or focused on providing this level of content. It’s easy to tell a talent to adjust and talk about a serious story when it happens, but every good on-air host wants to be great when they turn on their microphone and speak to an audience. When the subject matter requires going outside their comfort zone, it can be very stressful.

Most sports radio people choose to work in the sports format because it’s supposed to be fun, light, and a break from the seriousness of life that adults deal with on a daily basis. We all have bills to pay, families to support, personal battles to wage, and sports allows us for a few hours to put those things on hold. It may not solve our problems but without it we’d be less happy.

Unfortunately, in the past decade alone, there have been far too many instances where sports talk radio hosts have been pressed into action to have to change their programming plans. Major tragedies and serious events have rocked our country numerous times, and although it may not be comfortable, when it happens, the way your radio station and talk show responds can have a lasting impact on the way your audience looks to you in the future.

Whether you like it or not, you’re a servant to the community. When people in your city are grieving and seeking answers to their questions, they turn to you, hoping you’ll provide some measure of clarity for them to make better sense of what has happened. They count on you to help ease their anger, keep them informed and when the mood is right, offer a comment or two that may allow them to laugh.

Listeners cherish their relationship with the on-air talent. They see them as a friend who keeps them company on a daily basis. While the bond may be built from a shared joy and passion for sports, they also expect a local personality to use good judgment and understand that there are times when the script must get tossed.

If you went into work in Baton Rouge, Louisiana today, chances are you’re trying to make sense of why a number of police officers were targeted and killed, just one week after the same horror took place in Dallas, Texas. If you were operating a sports talk show in Nice, France on Saturday, there’s no way you’d be discussing anything other than the awful attack by a madman who chose to run down hundreds of innocent people.

I’ve gone through this situation myself while working in upstate NY on the day that September 11th occurred. It’s a day that no sports host can ever be prepared for. The thought of having a conversation about the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Rangers, Giants or Jets felt unjustified, and luckily the radio station I worked for embraced ditching the sports programming and turning its attention to the serious tragedy that impacted our community, and the entire country.

In those moments you may not be as informed as FOX News, MSNBC, CNN or any other news outlet, but you possess something they don’t, a connection to your local audience. Your listeners understand that you’re out of your element and that you may not have the same level of insight on the story that some of the other news outlets do, but they also recognize that you’re their friend, their companion, the one who shares their life on the air with them each day. You offer the necessary distraction to keep them laughing and looking forward to the games they’ll watch later that evening. They don’t need you to be the most skilled news reporter during those horrific times, just a broadcaster who’s smart enough to read the room and understand that there’s a time in place for fun, and a time where certain things get placed on hold because other things are simply more important.

But not every uprising or tragedy warrants ditching your sports radio programming. Knowing where that line sits is impossible because each station, talent, programmer, and city responds differently. Innocent people have died at the hands of the police, cops have been murdered unjustly, and protests happen in many large cities on a regular basis. Each time they occur, is a sports talker supposed to break its format?

It’s a really tough call because each station has to decide “has this event rocked the community to the point where everyone is feeling it”? “Is our audience going to turn to our brand and people for further opinion and information on the story”? “Is it a development where most local stations feel compelled to break format or is it better suited for the local News/Talk station to provide further context on”?

For example, when the Ferguson, Missouri riots broke out, some programmers would have chosen to drop sports to cover the story locally. Others wouldn’t have. It wasn’t a matter of one way being right, and the other being wrong. I asked 101 ESPN’s Program Director Chris “Hoss” Neupert how he handled the situation and here’s what he shared.

“With such a sensitive issue (the Ferguson riots) we chose to let people who were better informed than us tackle those issues. Our job was to do what we do best which was to be a positive distraction for local people from the real world issues. Our team was compassionate about the situation and wanted to do their part to give people an escape by giving them something that sports does so well which is present a mixture of stats, wins, losses, storylines, and competition, not color or race.”

The Ferguson story was one which the entire community was aware of but it didn’t unify people the same way that the shootings in Dallas, Orlando, Charleston, and Sandy Hook did. Asking a sports station and its talent to tackle racial divides, Mike Brown’s track record, the issues with the Ferguson police department, and the Black Lives Matter movement is asking them to step way beyond their comfort zone. For each listener who may have appreciated 101 ESPN diving into that conversation, many others would’ve rejected the brand for not staying in its lane. Regardless of their choice, they were in a no-win situation.

Given what our friends in Dallas experienced last week, and what others have experienced in other cities, I thought it’d be interesting to get a few perspectives on how to handle these situations. They are impossible to be fully prepared for, and although they may leave you wondering if the work you do really matters, you do the best you can, and understand that just by talking about it you’re able to provide a small measure of comfort for your audience.

No sports radio programmer or host wants to go to work and have to address these types of situations but there are times when they are unavoidable. As much as we love sports, nothing matters more than life itself and our friends, families, and neighbors. When they’re in harm’s way or have been emotionally wounded, we have to adjust and look out for them. The hard part is determining which tragedies require breaking format, and which ones don’t. Those decisions are extremely difficult and they can haunt you forever if you choose incorrectly.

jeffcatlinJeff Catlin – Program Director of The Ticket and ESPN 103.3 – Dallas, TX

The Ticket and ESPN 103.3 are both in the business of LOCAL radio, and this DPD shooting was in our town. That right there made it rise to a different level for us at Cumulus Dallas, regardless of station and format. We have to serve our local audience.

ESPN is slightly different in that there are ESPN Network commitments, but still when we can and could, we had to address what our community at large cares about on a given day.

To ignore this story on Ticket or ESPN or somehow say “people want a distraction from this” would in my opinion just be completely out of step and focus. At a time like this, certainly within the first 24 hours of a major breaking news story literally one mile from our studios, EVERYONE in Dallas Ft. Worth is talking, sharing, feeling emotional about this tragedy and we first and foremost have to reflect that. We also have to be a voice and gathering place for the community.

In the case of the Ticket where our lineup of talent has been in place and together for 20 years, we have a special bond and relationship with our audience. Not only do they expect us to talk about something such as this, but in a complimentary way towards our shows, they welcome hearing what their friends on the Ticket are thinking and feeling. It provides some sort of comfort to them. And if that’s the case, great, because it means that we have served our audience in a time of need.

In terms of our decision making, at Cumulus Dallas, after the San Bernardino shooting, all department heads across the cluster discussed this and came up with a plan of action in case something like this happened in DFW. So when news broke and this actually DID happen, we already knew how we would react. With a heritage News Talk station staffed 24/7 with reporters in the building, they took the lead. The other stations, including the Ticket, are able to take their on-air audio. Which the Ticket did. On Thursday night, the Ticket took the initial police briefing live on-air, and then we simulcast our sister station WBAP all night from approximately midnight to 5am.

I spoke Thursday night with our morning team about ways to handle the story on the show the next day. We were active on social media all Thursday night into Friday with updates.

On Friday on both the Ticket and ESPN I had individual meetings with all the shows to just discuss our plan, how we would handle the story, how much time would be devoted to it, etc. On both stations (On ESPN during our local shows) I estimate that 90% of content on Friday was devoted to the shooting and updating the story.

I knew first thing on Friday that I needed to update the station imaging in a reflective and respectful way. We were able to get that done and on-air during morning drive. Then as a cluster, we focused efforts on providing uniformed information to all of our audiences on-air and on our websites that directed listeners to places where they could help, while letting them know which community activities were planned for the days ahead.

Finally, on Tuesday, making a decision to carry the Memorial Service live on-air on the Ticket and ESPN was a no brainer. The President of the United States, the Vice President, two Senators and former President and Dallas resident George W. Bush, plus the Mayor and Police Chief were all on hand, and their speaking was a statement of how big this was. We HAD to carry this live.

Again, our job is to serve our local audience. This was the only thing on the minds of DFW citizens on Tuesday, and after hearing how poignant every speaker was, individual politics aside, it proved that our decision was the correct one.

It’s part of the healing process, and closure for the community, and this is part of the role that local radio plays during a time like this.

gavinspittleGavin Spittle – Program Director of 105.3 The Fan – Dallas, TX

The decision to change formats when the tragic events of last week hit us was a given. Serving our community is first and foremost. If that hurts me in the ratings, so be it.

Our two brands, NewsRadio 1080 KRLD and 105.3 The Fan, have a tight relationship. On Thursday night, we were still involved in delivering pertinent information because it was an “active” situation. The right thing to do was to simulcast with 1080 and I thought they did an amazing job delivering up to the minute information. The next day, we scrapped the entire sports format.

If one person felt a little bit of healing from listening to our open forum then we did our job. For the last 2 ½ years, a charity that we have heavily supported is the Guns and Hoses Foundation of North Texas. All of our shows have been involved with this charity including going to Swat Training, broadcasting from Fire and Police Departments so there certainly is a special bond. Part of that healing process was to immediately help the families of our heroes affected, and I’m proud to say that we’ve contributed to that cause.

The response from our listeners has been amazing but none of us want credit during this time. The credit goes to those who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way for our safety. The least we can do is to provide a platform through our radio stations.

jasonwolfeJason Wolfe – Former Program Director of WEEI – Boston, MA

Sports radio hosts are actually people too. That’s right, it’s not all fun and games to us. We care about life and about the world we live in, and frankly, we have very strong feelings about the issues that affect us all. Our sole concern isn’t simply whether the hometown team wins or loses on any given night. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with a tragedy.

When terrorism struck the Boston Marathon, my team at WEEI didn’t hesitate. We immediately dropped the sports format and went into crisis mode. All of our imaging changed, hosts were asked to come in early and to stay late, sales efforts and promotions were halted and we focused on being a resource to our audience so that they felt informed and comforted in their time of need. It’s so important not to panic when involved in such a story. Plans need to be well thought out and executed flawlessly if the station is to be effective in its coverage.

At WEEI, I used every resource I had at my disposal, from our partnerships with TV to our sister stations who had people on the ground at the finish line. That allowed us to cover every press conference live, to get first hand updates from the field, and to remain top of mind for our listeners who no doubt, were scouring every channel looking for the most up to date information.

As broadcasters, we have a responsibility to cover these terrible events and to provide the public with information, and an opportunity to react, be it emotionally, angrily or otherwise. Our guys understood that very clearly. Talk radio is talk radio. It doesn’t matter if your core format is sports, politics, music or business, when an event of this magnitude occurs in your city or town, as a staff, you have to act. And frankly, the reality is that there have been so many of these truly unfortunate stories to cover over the years, that smart programmers will have an action plan for events such as this, ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Our most important goal throughout our coverage, as it was with any breaking news story, was not to jump the gun and report false information. This was a major problem during the first two days after the bombing. Numerous reports cited imminent arrests, the death toll, as well as erroneous information about the why and how this happened. Frankly, it was completely irresponsible. We had always lived by the slogan by right, not first, so while we knew it was important to provide our audience with the latest, we had to be very careful not to create more problems. As such, we took a measured approach to the news so as not to over-react, specifically, to what was being posted on social media.

Our second goal was simple. Be ourselves. The station has long been known for its ability to report on, discuss and analyze non sports stories, and by giving the staff the resources they needed, and the freedom with which to use them, I thought we did an exceptional job of doing our part to bring the community together by engaging in passionate debate with journalistic integrity. At the end of the day, it comes down to being prepared, being organized, and being thoughtful. That’s what our audience, and I think any audience expects, and if you can achieve that, you’ve done well and your coverage will be held with high regard.

davezDave Zaslowsky – Former Program Director of 97.9 ESPN – Hartford, CT

December 14, 2012 was like any other Friday. We were prepping for the big matchup between the Patriots and 49ers that was scheduled that weekend. One of the other stations in our cluster had the TV on in their studio when the news broke of a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, which was about 45 min away from our studios.

Within minutes we were on the phone to our local NBC TV affiliate, whom we had a working partnership with to confirm what was happening. Once the reports were confirmed, which was very quick, our OM called the 3 PD’s of the cluster together to form a plan of action. Our 5 station cluster had 3 live music stations and our 2 sports stations (97-9 ESPN & Fox Sports Radio 1410) which I was the PD for were in network programming at the time.

So much information was out there that we felt the best thing to do for our listeners was to simulcast our local NBC TV affiliate. It was really the only way to cover it correctly, regardless of our format. My 2 stations stayed with the simulcast of NBC CT until 7pm and went back to network programming at that time. Our music stations went into talk mode taking calls and just letting people talk, which during a situation like Sandy Hook is what people want to do.

Our job is to serve the public and give them the information. At that point nobody cared about the Patriots-49ers, Giants-Falcons or Jets-Titans that weekend.  They wanted to know about those little children who were attacked. It was the right way to handle things for our listeners as they had come to depend on us during a crisis, be it a snow storm, a hurricane or awful day like December 12, 2012.

Barrett Blogs

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.”

Jason Barrett

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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.

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Barrett Blogs

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.”

Jason Barrett

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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.

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Barrett Blogs

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.”

Jason Barrett

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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.

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