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When Teams Gain Influence Over Content

Jason Barrett

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One word that few people respond favorably to is censorship. By definition, the word implies a practice in limiting or removing key information and opinion from an important conversation or story.

If you’ve paid attention to the news cycle since Donald Trump entered the White House, the topic has been a heavy focus for the American people. Many feel the media have positioned Trump unfairly and support his desire to derail the nation’s news outlets. Others believe he’s entered dangerous territory by attempting to block free speech and silence honest reporters who have brought to light questionable actions and decisions that have occurred under his administration.

One of the very freedoms of our country that makes it great is having the ability to speak our minds even if others disagree. The talk radio business itself would be pretty bland if not for the thousands of men and women who grace the airwaves each day expressing their points of view, stirring up conversations, and engaging our minds and giving us different things to consider and take exception with.

But while it may be exciting to be granted access to a microphone and deliver your opinion to thousands of local listeners, there are responsibilities that come with the talk show host position.

My first rule of thumb for any personality who’s performed on one of my previous brands is to never get personal. Once you do, it’s an impossible conversation to recover from. You can criticize on the field performance, off the field behavior, and anything that comes up and is relevant to a franchise’s failures or which paints an individual or organization negatively in the public eye. But there is a fine line between attacking one’s actions and their personal character.

If you work in the sports media or enjoy reading about it, you’ve likely seen the story this week that took place in Sacramento. Sports Radio 1140 KHTK host Damien Barling, who’s part of the station’s midday program “The Lo-Down”, was off the air on Wednesday following a critical commentary against the Sacramento Kings organization after the team traded away its franchise player DeMarcus Cousins. The station opened up Wednesday’s program with a brief response from Barling’s partners Jason Ross and Ken Rudolph before turning the airwaves over to a nationally syndicated show.

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The incident occurred on Tuesday during the final hour of Barling’s show and has caused a firestorm in sports media circles. Here were his remarks, which included midday host Jason Ross in the conversation. You can hear them by clicking here.

Barling: That was embarrassing. That was absolutely embarrassing.

Ross: In what way?

Barling: In every single way imaginable. That dude is not fit to be the general manager of a basketball team. This is real life. You just heard a general manager say publicly at a press conference ‘We had a better deal two days ago’. You moron! You can’t say that! ‘Oh why didn’t you wait till Thursday?’ ‘Oh cause we had a better deal two days ago?’

Ross: It was getting worse.

Barling: Are you serious? Bro… I don’t even know what to say. If you’re a Kings fan, you should absolutely be embarrassed by that. That was awful. That was absolutely awful. You cannot do that. You can’t do that. Awful. That’s awful dude. Absolutely incredible.

Barling was upset with the way the Kings front office handled the Cousins trade. The majority of media outlets across the nation have painted the Kings organization as being in over their collective heads, and the KHTK host was echoing what many others thought and felt of the franchise’s top executives.

Except there was one small problem – KHTK is the radio home and play by play partner of the Sacramento Kings.

The Sacramento Bee reached out to KHTK for a comment on the situation and were told “We respect the right of all of our on-air hosts and employees to voice their professional opinions on a range of topics. However, we do not condone malicious personal attacks on or from anyone. Comments of that nature do not reflect the views or sportsmanlike conduct of this station”.

Truth be told, I know program director Kevin Sherrets who the quote was attributed to (even though it was an official statement from the station, not one from Sherrets), and like him a lot. He’s a good guy with good intentions, who wants to help his brand make an impact in the community, and I have no doubt he’s trying to do the best he can to manage a difficult situation. Only he and his market manager Steve Cottingim know how the Kings front office feel about the situation and whether there was or wasn’t a request for more action to be taken against Barling.

But what’s troubling in this situation is the prior track record of KHTK when it’s involved members of its on-air staff speaking out negatively against the Kings. It should be noted that these past issues have taken place under the watch of multiple program directors, so this isn’t a reflection on Sherrets.

Former reporter John Dickinson, who now works for 95.7 The Game in San Francisco said he was pulled off the air multiple times by management after being critical of the team under previous owners the Maloof family.

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Former KHTK program director and morning personality Don Geronimo said on Twitter that management operate this way consistently when it involves criticism of the Kings.

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KNBR 1050 morning host Drew Hoffar, who previously held numerous stints on the Sacramento sports station said you pay the price if you’re not on board with the way the Kings do business.

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Now maybe it’s entirely possible that all three former station employees have bitter feelings towards their former employer, but given the events of the past week, it’s hard to ignore that there might be some truth behind their words.

In analyzing Barling’s commentary, I felt 95% of what he said was fair game. He felt passionately about the subject, there were mixed reviews on the trade, and he had a right to communicate to the audience that he thought the organization failed and embarrassed themselves by acknowledging they had a better offer on the table two days earlier for Cousins.

Where Barling screwed up was when he proceeded to call Vlade Divac a moron. To those on the outside looking in, that may seem small, but when you’re in business with someone, especially in a one-team town, you have to be careful with the way you criticize a key figure of an organization on your airwaves. You can attack Divac’s performance and job qualifications but there’s no need to get personal.

Had Barling said something like “Vlade Divac proved he is not equipped to be the Kings General Manager. You can not publicly admit that you had a better trade offer two days ago. You just can’t. It tells the entire league and your fan base that you didn’t execute your best and right now I have no confidence and am utterly disgusted with the way he handled this situation. This is an embarrassment of epic proportions and makes me question whether or not this team will win in the future with him making important decisions on behalf of this organization“, it’d be very difficult to remove him from the air. The commentary remains strong, but avoids any personal references.

That said, there is another part to this story to take into consideration.

People are human. They make mistakes. They mean well, but sometimes say things the wrong way. I’m a big believer in personal track records and accountability. If an employee is under fire for saying something that ruffled a few feathers, and has been consistently dependable, respectful and responsible, then you often give them the benefit of the doubt.

In this case, Barling had not been removed from the airwaves at any point since joining KHTK last April. He also worked for CBS Sacramento from 2001-2008 which tells me he wouldn’t have been employed for 7 years the first time, and re-hired in a bigger position in 2016 if he didn’t have a decent reputation inside the company.

Ironically, the word Barling used on the air (moron) to describe Divac, is a word that afternoon host Grant Napear has used many times in a colorful way to describe callers who make points he doesn’t agree with. It seems bizarre that the word would be allowed to describe a member of the audience during the course of an entertaining afternoon show, yet be considered inflammatory and worthy of suspension when utilized against the Kings GM after a controversial trade which has the majority of the market confused or angry.

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If the only thing in question from this incident was one specific sentence during a passionate commentary, that could have been easily fixed by having a face to face conversation or by demanding an immediate on-air apology to Divac. The station could have even written up Barling rather than having the story call into question their integrity when it pertains to Kings coverage. Most people I’ve heard from feel the station overreacted, and it’s hard to argue with that given the facts we’ve been aware of, but remember that when situations like this take place, there are often other factors we’re not privy to that could have also played a role in the final outcome. Only the people inside of KHTK’s offices know the true story.

As uncomfortable as these incidents are, they’re not foreign to sports radio executives. As a matter of fact, I addressed a similar situation last year when the Detroit Lions foolishly looked to use the power of their play by play rights to force 97.1 The Ticket to drop Mike Valenti. CBS Detroit wisely retained Valenti and let the Lions walk.

Teams are always seeking more control over the way their franchise is discussed and presented to sports radio audiences. It’s up to the programmer and radio station’s market manager to run interference to allow their people to do what they do best. A host’s job is to deliver honest hard hitting opinions in a responsible way, and without influence from any outside forces. If they’re worried about their job security every time they express a strong critical point of view, you’ll never get the full maximum value out of them, and you’ll compromise your brand’s integrity in the eyes of the audience.

It’s fair to question why upper management even allows it to become a conversation in the first place. Sometimes it’s because the revenue and ratings are so large and the brand association is so valuable that a station executive can’t afford a damaged relationship with one of the station’s most important clients. Other times it’s because they fear confrontation and buckle under pressure.

One thing we lose sight of when doing business with teams is that the only thing we truly own and control is the brand itself. A station can still exist and thrive without a play by play partner, even if the brand’s financial ceiling isn’t as high. Once permission is granted to a team to influence a part of your business, they will look to take advantage of it again. Teams don’t ask a programmer or market manager for their input on free agent decisions, the upcoming draft or the starting lineup, and station executives should be willing to protect their product and people, even if it requires a little bit of friction along the way.

Even more bizarre is why these organizations are so sensitive when it comes to the media sharing a negative opinion about them. Do they think the audience isn’t aware when they’re playing poorly or making bad decisions? If they want it to go away there’s a simple solution, win and make smart business decisions. The majority of media members and fans are hoping for the team to do well, but when they don’t, it’d be irresponsible to not be objective and honest about what’s taking place.

It makes me wonder if the next area to be targeted by teams is the social media space. How long until owners and front office executives are pressuring their new partners, Facebook and Twitter, to prevent negative posts about their teams appearing on other people’s timelines? Don’t think for a second that it can’t or won’t be requested.

I’ve flooded your brain by now with enough of my own points of view on the situation, but I wanted to include a few programmers from different parts of the country who also understand the complexities of this situation. Each of these guys work with stations which have strong play by play partnerships, and I hope you find some of their feedback to be helpful. Who knows, you may be using it to guide you through a future challenge inside your place of employment in the future.

  • Joe Zarbano – WEEI
  • John Mamola – WDAE
  • John Hanson – 610 Sports
  • Ryan Hatch – Arizona Sports 98.7FM

If an employee has no prior history of being in trouble with your radio station and they make an error in their on-air commentary, what is the best way to handle it? (Fire them, suspend them, written warning, on-air apology, ignore it, etc.)

blankHatch: We’re in a unique position in Phoenix where we are the flagship home of the Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Coyotes and Arizona State University football and men’s basketball, so these types of situations really hit home as we work closely with more teams than any other station in the country.

How you handle each situation will be unique and dynamic with so many factors. There’s no rule book, except for one thing – never, ever ignore it. That’s the absolute worst thing you can do.

The biggest thing you must have is clear rules of engagement for the hosts and the teams, communicate them effectively to all parties, and demonstrate it regularly. Every one of our personalities wants our team partners to have great success on the field or court. When teams or players are underperforming and deserve criticism, our motto is “be tough but fair, and never personal”.

Our industry is driven by hosts with strong opinions and it’s imperative that we continue to support them, but I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to deliver those opinions. Name calling, cheap shots and personal attacks just won’t fly. Our hosts know it and our team partners know it. And if we cross that line, which does happen, we own it and correct it. But that approach doesn’t just apply to our team partners, it’s in play in everything we do – listeners, advertisers, etc.

Zarbano: I would say it’s very situational. It depends what was said or done. There are circumstances where a host can have no prior record of misconduct but go on the air one day and say something that is unquestionably worthy of suspension or termination. I think logic serves best and PD’s have to consider all the factors.

Mamola: It depends on the severity of the error. Taking the example in Sacramento, assuming the host had no prior history of being in trouble, an on-air apology for calling the GM a “moron” would have been the first thing on my list, in the very next segment. Having an opinion about what goes on the court is 100% legit, but name calling is weak and uncalled for. However, having the host follow up his apology by explaining the passion he has for the team to do well and be a shining beacon for the city of Sacramento, that rings home with the audience and can be a rallying cry for the listeners as well.

Hanson: Every play by play partner is different. Some comments cut deeper than others, and some may have no issue with unfiltered commentaries. If the intention is to smooth things over with your partner, or an individual within that partnership, then you need to apply what will appease them and be reasonable for you. If the comment is strong enough, and the partner is upset enough, suspension wouldn’t be off the table. But I think most reasonable people in a partnership should be able to move on with a personal apology and an adherence to a higher standard in the going forward.

How much influence does a play by play partner deserve when it applies to the radio station’s on-air commentary and presentation?

Hatch: Obviously we’re business partners and we share in each other’s successes – with audience, fans/listeners and revenue. They deserve to be treated professionally and with respect, just like our listeners and advertising partners. Our content management team has regular conversations with our team partners, so we clearly know where they stand on key issues. It’s about access to their perspective more than any formal influence.

blankZarbano: In an ideal world, the play-by-play partner deserves no influence when it applies to the station’s on air commentary. It’s hard to put on entertaining and opinionated radio shows when the hosts are being censored. Your station’s credibility is immediately in jeopardy if an on-air host’s creativity, talent and candor are being restrained. In our new digital world, we know how easy it is for listeners to change the station and consume something else.

It’s also a bad look for the team to require or ask their play-by-play partner to limit the on-air host’s criticism, especially when it’s warranted. All franchises make mistakes (even the Patriots at times) and the best way to handle it in the minds of the fans is to own it and move on. Sensitivity and being defensive is a killer.

Mamola: The program director must establish the playing field with the partners as to the boundaries of what the philosophy behind the commentary is at the beginning. If it’s all about what goes on with the team on the field, fair game. If there is anything outside the actual playing field, that’s where the station (in some cases) should reach out to the partner first to see if they have a comment first before taking things to the air. The more work done in the background when it comes to off the field issues, the stronger the partnership and more comfort you’ll have when you hit the air. You just can’t make it personal.

Hanson: They get no influence. You have the power to decide how important your relationship with the play by play partner is to your brand. Is it worth it to risk the relationship over a two second comment? Or for the need to be completely unfiltered for your audience? Maybe an unfiltered approach is what you think gives you the best chance to win. Or maybe your station has such a strong position in the market that you can afford to do that, knowing the team needs you. But I also understand those that find a healthy relationship with their partner to be vital to the overall long term success of the station, and the need to make sure that relationship stays healthy.

What do you do if the team (one of your most important assets) wants things handled differently than the way you think they should be done? 

Hatch: Discuss it openly and honestly. It’s absolutely critical to have strong relationships with high level executives with your team partners. There are going to be times when things are said on the air that ruffle feathers, and when the interests of the station and the team don’t align. If you’re out in front of it and have good relationships, it makes it a lot easier to navigate the rough waters.

Zarbano: You have a conversation and reason with them so they can also see your side of things. Hopefully at the end of the day, the two parties can come to some sort of understanding. There’s always a deal to be made.

Mamola: You allow the partner the forum for a discussion so their voice be heard. That allows you to hear their feedback, explain your position, and have a productive conversation. However, the PD is the one who directs the programming of the radio station, and more often than not, the PD or the market manager may have to remind the partner of that. The more leg work you do in the beginning with the partner, the easier the relationship is to manage. Always invite the partner to converse with you, and only you, when it comes to programming issues they’d like to discuss.

blankHanson: Those issues can be resolved before problems pop up. Have a discussion with your partner to establish where you each see what constitutes “out of bounds”, and come to a consensus. In many cases the differences will be clear between when things are said that are personal and when they’re not. And again, scratch all of that if you choose the unfiltered route. Then I’d just explain to my partner, that unfiltered opinion is what you need to do to win. They can then decide if they want to keep you as a partner at renewal time, and how they’ll treat you in the interim.

What advice can you pass along to other programmers and/or market managers who find themselves in this situation in the future?

Hatch: My advice for all content managers would be to spend time nurturing team relationships and when your hosts do cross whatever boundaries you set, be quick to engage in direct conversation to quickly resolve. And don’t pay more attention and love them up only when they are winning, but be just as present and engaged when the team is struggling.

Zarbano: Any type of censorship of hosts when it comes to professional sports franchises is a killer for the sports talk format. Your hosts can’t effectively do what they do best when they are being restricted because an organization can’t take the heat after making a bad trade. Do whatever you can to avoid this. Your audience is smart and will see right through it.

blankMamola: Don’t be afraid to walk in during the break and address any comments immediately. That way you can question/converse about what was said in the moment and get a better more productive outcome following the break for the rest of the show. That also sets the tone for where the program can/cannot go for the remainder of the broadcast. Then whatever follows can be handled with the notion that the comments were addressed immediately.

Hanson: Establish a clear expectation for fair game with all staff before each season. It may change from year to year or it may stay the same. You may have no expectations other than to be completely unfiltered. It takes the guessing out of questioning whether a comment violated the understanding or not.

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

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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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Barrett News Media To Gather The Industry in Nashville in September 2023

“I’ve been lucky enough to play a key role in bringing the sports media industry together on an annual basis, and in 2023 we’re going to attempt to do the same for news/talk media professionals.”

Jason Barrett

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One of the best parts about working in the media business is that you’re afforded an opportunity to use your creativity, take risks, and learn if an audience or advertisers will support your ideas. Sometimes you hit a homerun, other times you strike out, but regardless of the outcome, you keep on swinging.

I’ve tried to do that since launching a digital publishing and radio consulting company in 2015. Fortunately, we’ve delivered more hits than misses.

When I added news media industry coverage to our brand in September 2020, I knew it’d be a huge undertaking. The news/talk format is two and a half times larger than sports, many of its brands are powered by national shows, and the content itself is more personal and divisive. I wanted our focus and attention on news media stories, not politics and news, and though there have been times when the lines got blurred, we’ve tried to be consistent in serving industry professionals relevant content .

What made the move into news media more challenging was that I’d spent less time in it. That meant it’d take longer to find the right writers, and it required putting more time into building relationships, trust, respect, and support. Though we still have more ground to cover, we’ve made nice strides. That was reflected by the participation we received when we rolled out the BNM Top 20 of 2022 the past two weeks. Hopefully you checked out the lists. Demetri Ravanos and I will be hosting a video chat today at 1pm ET on BNM’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and through Barrett Media’s YouTube page discussing the series, as well as this article.

It’s because of that growing support, trust, and confidence in what we’re doing that I’m taking a risk yet again. I’ve been lucky enough to play a key role in bringing the sports media industry together on an annual basis, and in 2023 we’re going to attempt to do the same for news/talk media professionals.

I am excited to share the news that Barrett News Media will host its first ever BNM Summit on Thursday September 14, 2023 in Nashville, TN. Our one-day conference will take place at Vanderbilt University’s Student Life Center Ballroom. The venue we’ve selected is tremendous and I’m eager to spend a day with news/talk professionals to examine ways to further grow the format and industry.

If you’re wondering why we chose Nashville, here’s why.

First, the city itself is awesome. The access to great restaurants, bars, entertainment, hotels, and famous landmarks is unlimited, and when you’re traveling to a city for a business conference, those things matter. Being in a city that’s easy for folks across the country to get to also doesn’t hurt.

Secondly, a conference is harder to pull off if you can’t involve successful on-air people in it. If you look at Nashville’s growth in the talk media space over the past decade, it’s remarkable. Many notable talents now live and broadcast locally, major brands have created a local footprint in the area, and that opens the door to future possibilities. I have no idea who we’ll include in the show, and I haven’t sent out one request yet because I wanted to keep this quiet until we were sure it made sense. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of interest in participating and I can’t promise we’ll be able to accommodate all requests but if you have interest in being involved, send an email to Jason@BarrettNewsMedia.com.

Third, finding the right venue is always difficult. We looked at a bunch of great venues in Nashville during our vacation this past summer, and when we stepped on to the campus at Vanderbilt University and walked through the SLC Ballroom, we knew it was the right fit. It had the space we needed, the right tech support, access to private parking, a green room for guests, and it was within walking distance of a few hotels, restaurants, and the Parthenon.

As I went through the process of deciding if this event was right for BNM, a few folks I trust mentioned that by creating a Summit for news/media folks, it could create a competitive situation. I don’t see it that way. I view it as a responsibility. I think we need more people coming together to grow the industry rather than trying to tear each other down. I hear this far too often in radio. We worry about what one station is doing rather than strengthening our own brand and preparing to compete with all audio options.

For years I’ve attended conferences hosted by Radio Ink, NAB, Talkers, and Conclave. I’ve even spoken at a few and welcomed folks who operate in the consulting space to speak at my shows. I’ll continue to support those events, read various trade sites, and invite speakers who work in a similar field because they’re good people who care about helping the industry. I believe BNM and BSM add value to the media business through its websites and conferences, and though there may be a detractor or two, I’ll focus on why we’re doing this and who it’s for, and let the chips fall where they may.

I know juggling two conferences in one year is likely going to make me crazy at times, but I welcome the challenge. In the months ahead I’ll start lining up speakers, sponsors, building the conference website, and analyzing every detail to make sure we hold up our end of the bargain and deliver an informative and professionally beneficial event. The news/talk media industry is massive and making sure it stays healthy is critically important. I think we can play a small role in helping the business grow, and I look forward to finding out on September 14th in Nashville at Vanderbilt University.

Hope to see you there!

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Jimmy Powers, Raj Sharan, Matt Berger and John Goforth Added to 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

“BSM is having a special Holiday SALE this week. Individual tickets are reduced to $224.99 until Friday night December 23rd at 11:59pm ET.

Jason Barrett

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In less than a hundred days, the BSM Summit will return to Los Angeles for two-days of networking, learning, laughing, and celebrating. The conference hasn’t been held on the west coast since 2019, and we’re looking forward to returning to the city of angels on March 21-22, 2023, and bringing together sports media professionals at the Founders Club, located inside the Galen Center at the University of Southern California.

For those of you who haven’t purchased your ticket(s) yet, BSM is having a special Holiday SALE this week. From today (Monday) through Friday 11:59pm ET, individual tickets are reduced to $224.99. If you’re planning to come, and want to make sure you’re in the room, take advantage of the extra savings and secure your seat. To buy tickets, reserve your hotel room, and learn more about the Summit’s speakers, click here.

We’ve previously announced twenty one (21) participants who will join us on stage at the 2023 BSM Summit. Today, we’re excited to expand our lineup by welcoming four (4) more additions to March’s industry spectacular.

First, BSM is thrilled to have two accomplished sports radio programmers contributing to the event. Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit will make his Summit debut in L.A.. Fresh off of a Marconi victory earlier this fall, The Ticket’s brand manager will share his insights on the present and future of sports radio on one of our programming panels. Also taking part in that panel will be the leader of 104.3 The Fan in Denver, Raj Sharan. Raj appeared on stage at the 2022 BSM Summit in NYC, and we look forward to having him return to lend his voice to an important sports radio programming discussion.

But programming won’t be the only thing we invest time in out west. Growing a business, more specifically, a digital business will be part of our conference agenda as well.

When it comes to maximizing digital revenue, few brands understand the space better than Barstool Sports. Charged with growing the brand’s revenue is Senior Vice President and Head of Sales Matt Berger, and we’re looking forward to having Matt join us for a conversation that will focus on monetizing digital opportunities. Before joining Barstool, Matt sold for Bleacher Report/House of Highlights. He’s also worked for Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Company. We’re excited to have him share his wisdom with the room.

Also taking part in our digital sales panel will be John Goforth of Magellan AI. John knows the radio business well from having served previously as a sales manager and salesperson. Since leaving traditional media and joining Magellan AI, John has studied the podcasting advertising space and learned who the top spenders are, who’s making big moves with their podcast advertising budgets, and which publishers are best positioned to benefit. Having his expertise on stage will help many in the room with trying to better understand the digital sales space.

There are other speaker announcements still to come. We have some big things planned, which I’m hoping to reveal in January and February. I want to thank ESPN Radio, FOX Sports, Showtime, and Point to Point Marketing for coming on board as partners of the 2023 BSM Summit. The support we’ve received heading into Los Angeles has been tremendous, and we greatly appreciate it. If you’re looking to be associated with the Summit as an event partner, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

That’s all for now, but be sure to take advantage of the Summit Holiday Sale. You have until Friday night December 23rd at 11:59pm ET to take advantage of discounted tickets. Happy Holidays!

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