Connect with us
blank

Barrett Blogs

The Voices of Major League Baseball – Part 1

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

America’s favorite pastime has returned, and with it comes hope for ratings and revenue increases for radio stations across the nation. With thirty brands dedicating countless hours of programming one-hundred and sixty two times per season and beyond should the local team advance to the post-season, baseball is an important part of every local rights holder’s business strategy.

In this day and age where people are constantly on the go, and everything moves at the speed of sound, baseball on the radio remains a connection to simpler times. It’s a soothing comfortable listen which allows us to relax, unwind, and escape the chaos of our daily lives, and embrace the inner kid in all of us. Unlike television, baseball’s radio announcers are expected to be descriptive, passionate, and masterful storytellers, capable of mentally moving the audience from their office, car, couch or front yard to the inside of a stadium. Listeners depend on the voice of each broadcaster to help them visualize the last pitch, hear the crack of the bat, smell the hot dogs, taste the beer, and feel the energy of thousands of fans who share the same unwavering enthusiasm for the hometown team.

While the game on the field requires exceptional skill, so too does broadcasting it. Whether it’s the preparation, travel, relationship building and ability to capture big moments or the simpler task of being a calming voice during a time of uncertainty or frustration, fans treat the baseball broadcaster on the radio as a companion or close member of the family. Each moment and experience becomes part of a listener’s life, and many of those stories get passed on from generation to generation. It’s why the game of baseball continues to carry extra special meaning to those who consume it on the radio.

Since we don’t get an opportunity often to enjoy the work of out of market broadcast crews, and it’s difficult to form a bond with a city you have no personal history with, I thought I’d call upon a different sports media member from all 30 cities to explain what makes their local radio broadcast teams unique, special, and an important part of their communities and radio station’s success. These media folks hear these broadcasters on a daily or nightly basis and have as strong of a read on their local broadcasters as anyone around.

Radio has some incredible storytellers selling the game of baseball and all that is associated with it on its airwaves, and as the next six months become a larger focus for our brands, it felt like the perfect time to pay tribute to the men and women we depend on to further the connection with our audiences and help our stations ascend to greater heights. With that in mind, let me introduce you to the voices of Major League Baseball. This is Part 1 of a three part series.

blankArizona DiamondbacksGreg Schulte and Tom Candiotti – as told by Mike Ferrin:

The voice of baseball in The Valley is  “The Gubnuh” Greg Schulte. He’s been with the Dbacks since day one (this is his 20th Opening Day) and before that he spent 15+ years doing ASU baseball, which means that any big moment in “Valley Baseball” since Barry Bonds was a Sun Devil, Greg has had a hand in sharing.

What makes Greg great is that he has terrific energy. He knows how to let the game breathe without it getting stagnant. Even in a 69 win season a year ago, you couldn’t tell the year was bad by listening to him on the radio. That’s a most spectacular trait in an announcer. There are no down days for him on the air, and as a listener I really appreciate that. He has a keen sense of not just Dbacks history but baseball history and how it relates to today. And, most importantly, he’s at his best in the biggest moments. He’s been on the call for nearly every one of them in franchise history.

Working alongside Greg is Dbacks analyst Tom Candiotti. In my mind, he’s an elite level baseball analyst. As someone who works with a lot of former players in his “other job” with SiriusXM, I love guys who prepare, and Tom is a prep monster. He breaks down each starter from data (Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball), talks to coaches, and as a result of spending time in the Cleveland front office, he’s a wealth of information, ideas, and opinions and understands how to evaluate players. He’s also very good at explaining things in simple terms for the audience to understand.

Additionally, Tom is current. He understands how the game has evolved, and has high school aged sons who are outstanding baseball players so he can relate to what’s important to a younger audience. And, he loves to joke around. He is a great practical joker and storyteller, and knows how to balance breaking down the game and keeping it fun and entertaining.

It’s an outstanding combination that lets the audience laugh and learn at the same time.

blankAtlanta BravesJim Powell and Don Sutton – as told by John Kincade.

The south is still known as “Braves Country”. They not only have the largest franchise footprint in baseball but the largest affiliate radio network in pro sports. Jim Powell and Don Sutton bring the action to Braves fans all over the Southeast in what honestly seems like a conversation as opposed to play by play.

Powell is an Atlanta native that came to the Braves from the Brewers. From the moment he arrived his passion for the Braves and their history was apparent. It makes conversations of the Braves glory days and his childhood seamless for the listener. Don Sutton is familiar to Americans from the old TBS TV Broadcasts. His ability to tell a story of historical significance or his sharing of baseball knowledge within the play by play experience is unmatched.

The Braves broadcasts are also bolstered by fan favorite from the 90’s Mark Lemke and their pre and post-game host on The Fan Ben Ingram. Our local shows lean on their expertise as the flagship, and the Braves are great at granting us access to their facility and talents!

blankBaltimore OriolesJoe Angel and Jim Hunter – as told by Terry Ford.

What makes Orioles play by play man Joe Angel unique among local Major League Baseball announcers, besides the fact that he played high school football with O. J. Simpson, is that he brings humor to the broadcast in a lighthearted manner. In an era where some play-by-play guys are hesitant or unwilling to say anything that could paint the home team in a negative light, Joe calls it like he sees it. Fans can tell that Joe is the hometown announcer for Orioles baseball but he is very objective with his game call. He’s known for his signature calls such as “Hasta La Vista Baby” when the O’s hit a home run. If the Orioles win, he’ll yell, “And the Orioles are in the Win Column!”. If they lose, he follows it up with “And the Orioles are in the loss column”. He’s also known after a victory or loss to give out “The Lovely Totals” or “The Not So Lovely Totals”.

Working on Orioles broadcasts with Joe is Jim Hunter. The best way to describe Jim is he’s the ultimate pro. Hunter called the CBS Radio Game of the Week for 14 years, and has been part of the Birds broadcast team for 19 years. Besides announcing on the radio, Jim has also done play by play and studio work on television for the Orioles regional network, The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. He isn’t as colorful as Joe, but he’s excellent at presenting keen insight and painting the picture of the game for the listener. He’s a straightforward broadcaster who plays perfectly off of Joe.

In a nutshell, Joe and Jim are a formidable team with a passion for the home team, a mixture of style and substance, and a professionalism that makes them easy to follow and respect. If baseball fans have an interest in hearing what makes the Orioles broadcast a fun listen, I invite them to take a listen on 105.7 The Fan.

blankBoston Red SoxJoe Castiglione and Tim Neverett – as told by Patrick O’Day.

Boston Red Sox baseball on the radio is like the soundtrack of summer in the New England region. The broadcast is led by Joe Castiglione who is entering his 35th season of calling Red Sox games on the radio, and was a first-ballot inductee into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2014.

Listening to Joe is like sitting down with your uncle or grandfather who always has a good story to tell. Fans gravitate towards him because he’s been a fixture on Red Sox broadcasts for such a long time that he’s viewed as part broadcaster and part team historian. He can instantly recall minute details from a mid-season game from years ago and add a story to go along with it. Joe has an ability to share interesting factoids about anyone in either dugout, and when you listen to him, you’ll always learn something new.

Joe’s partner is Tim Neverett, and his specialty is being able to break down and explain situational baseball. Tim describes the field and what is happening and talks about it in such a way that fans and listeners can envision the situation and learn about why teams do the things the way they do. From employing shifts to catcher positioning and pitch-framing, there’s not a game situation that could pop up that Tim wouldn’t be prepared for and able to analyze and relate to the audience.

Together, Joe and Tim each bring a unique voice and style to the broadcast. I think fans enjoy the sense of realness and sincerity that comes through on the air, and having two guys who are as plugged into an organization as Joe and Tim are, is a big part of WEEI’s success. The mix of familiarity when you hear Red Sox baseball on the radio, coupled with informative announcers, turns listeners from casual baseball fans into avid listeners.

blankChicago CubsPat Hughes and Ron Coomer – as told by Mitch Rosen.

Baseball on the radio is like a great friendship, or a terrific book you cannot put down. The intimacy of the game on the radio is like no other sport or relationship listeners have with the medium. With most of the season taking place during the summertime months, I truly believe baseball on the radio brings the listener back to his or her youth and memories of going to games or listening to games.

What makes a Cubs game special is that play by play announcer Pat Hughes truly paints a picture to people listening on traditional radio’s, car radio’s, or mobile/digital devices. One can close their eyes and truly imagine themselves at Wrigley Field or other stadiums when the Cubs are on the road. To personally witness a World Series broadcast (2 feet from Pat and Ron) last year on the radio was a career highlight. I saw the emotion on Pat’s face, and the tears pouring out of our Cubs analyst Ron Coomer’s eyes and it’s a sight I will never forget, nor will the close to 1 million people who were listening. I really believe that Pat’s call when he said and I’m paraphrasing, “you will remember where you were when you heard The Cubs have won The World Series” says it all.

Baseball on the radio and consumers become friends thru good and bad times, meaning winning or losing seasons. There is nothing like it. The hometown call has a special importance to fans of a local team, and we’re lucky to have Pat and Ron capturing every moment of the defending world champion Chicago Cubs.

blankChicago White SoxEd Farmer and Darrin Jackson – as told by Dave Zaslowsky.

The White Sox broadcast features Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson, two former Sox players who have become as much a part of the lives of White Sox radio listeners as deep dish pizza, The John Hancock Building and 16 inch softball! This is Farmer’s 25th season behind the mic, and his 8th with Jackson who has been a member of the Chicago White Sox Radio Network for 17 years.

Sox games are heard on flagship station WLS AM-890, and what resonates with me most is the passion and comfort Sox fans feel for the broadcast. The core of Sox radio listeners are blue collar and Ed and DJ fit right in when telling stories from when they played for the team. They also have a unique ability to make everyone feel like family. In today’s radio world, a lot of broadcasters don’t stay too long in one spot, but that’s not the case with Ed and DJ.

Ed grew up on the south side of Chicago and often tells the story of how his mom took him to old Comiskey Park when he was a child and how he couldn’t believe “They played baseball in this building”. He promised that he’d one day play for the White Sox, and everyone who has listened to more than one Sox game on the radio knows that story.

DJ brings a wealth of baseball knowledge to the booth and a direct tie to some of the most beloved former Sox players having been teammates with Frank Thomas, Tim Raines, Jack McDowell, Paul Konerko and Ozzie Guillen. Every play on the field, every question from Ed, and even the foul balls that make their way into the booth are handled the way Sox fans expect – with excellence.

The White Sox are currently rebuilding and relying on younger players to mature and develop to help them enjoy brighter days. Whether they win or lose though, fans will get to know this team as if they were being introduced to new family members, by old family members, and that’s what makes Ed and DJ an incredible listen!

blankCincinnati RedsMarty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley – as told by Mo Egger.

Few things are as unique to broadcasting in Cincinnati as a Reds game on the radio. This is a city with great baseball and broadcasting heritage, and listeners here demand that if the team isn’t very good, the broadcast better be. Which, for the last 43 years, it has been.

The voice of the Reds since 1974 has been Marty Brennaman, a Ford Frick Award winner. I’d argue that with the retirement of Vin Scully, he’s baseball’s greatest active radio broadcaster. Marty is able to do something increasingly rare in his profession – balance detailed play-by-play with great storytelling while not necessarily being a mouthpiece for the team. When circumstances demand that he be critical, Marty is sharp and pointed with his criticism, at times to the dismay of some listeners. But there’s no one in our market who speaks with the authority that he does, and no one can make the critical moments of a mid-May game between two bad teams sound like they’re deciding a big playoff game in October.

His partner on most broadcasts – and the Reds do employ a number of different announcers – is former big league pitcher Jeff Brantley. Jeff’s country drawl and laid-back demeanor compliment Marty and few things sound like a lazy summer afternoon on the patio more than the innings that Jeff handles play-by-play. But few are as astute in their analysis of the game, especially when it comes to pitching.

I don’t know that a Reds broadcast would work in New York, or Los Angeles. Marty himself has said that. There’s something uniquely Midwestern about a Cincinnati Reds broadcast, and while I work for a cluster of radio stations that employs some of the best personalities in the business and has the rights to every Cincinnati sports property, Reds broadcasts with Marty and Jeff behind the microphones are – in my opinion, at least – our most important asset. I highly recommend giving them a listen sometime.

blankCleveland IndiansTom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus – as told by Nick Camino.

In the past 25 years of Cleveland Indians baseball, there may not be a name more synonymous with the Tribe than radio play-by-play man Tom Hamilton, appropriately referred to as “The Voice of the Tribe.” From his exciting calls, to his knowledge of the game, as well as the respect he has gained from players in the clubhouse and countless managers, Hamilton is a hometown fan’s dream.

“Hammy” as he is affectionately called, isn’t afraid to share his opinion even if he has to be critical of the Tribe. In my mind, Hamilton is the best in baseball and Cleveland is fortunate to have him.

Hamilton’s partner, Jim Rosenhaus spent years calling games at Triple-A for the Buffalo Bisons, and all of his hard work has certainly paid off, teaming up with Hamilton in 2012 full-time after the retirement of Mike Hegan. Since then, fans have warmed up to Rosenhaus who has a great feel for the game and is quick with analysis whenever the time feels appropriate to add it.

Similar to Hamilton, Rosenhaus works tirelessly hitting both the home and visiting clubhouses getting to know the ins and outs of not only the Indians but their respective opponents. “Rosey” as many fans call him, has quickly become a valuable asset to Indians broadcasts and his hard work and dedication to Tribe baseball and helping run the entire Cleveland Indians Radio Network is something that has paid great dividends for both listeners and the club.

blankColorado RockiesJerry Schemmel and Jack Corrigan – as told by Brandon Krisztal.

Jack Corrigan and Jerry Schemmel form the classic baseball radio play-by-play team. Jack’s been calling baseball for the better part of 30 years, first on television in Cleveland and now in Denver for nearly 20 years. Jerry joined the broadcast in 2010 (after two decades of calling NBA games in Minnesota and Denver) and the two displayed instant chemistry.

The easiest way to describe their call is informed and easy-going, but not flashy or over-the-top. They certainly can elevate their emotional level when the game dictates but they never make the game about them. When I say classic baseball style, maybe it’s their midwestern roots that help shape their easy-going style, but both Jack and Jerry sound how you’d expect a guy from Cleveland (where Jack grew up) and a guy from Kansas (where Jerry is from) to sound.

While catchphrases may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Jack has one of the best I’ve ever heard. When a Rockies player hits a home run, Jack, exclaims “touch-em-all-time!” I’ve always appreciated how understated but appropriate and cool that call is. It’s simple but certainly conveys exactly what it needs to be.

Playing sports at a high level is certainly no requirement to calling a good game in any sport, but both Jack and Jerry played college sports (Jack played football at Cornell, and went to training camp with The Dallas Cowboys, and Jerry played baseball at Washburn University and Coached there as well) and that can only help inform their call. They have an understanding of mindset and competition that not every play-by-play duo has.

Understandably, you may not have caught a Rockies game, but, if you’re within 1,000 miles of Denver, driving on a summer night, there’s a good chance you can pick up a Rockies game loud and clear on 850 KOA-AM, one of the strongest signals in the country. I urge you to tune in for a few innings, and check out Jack and Jerry, because their call will take you back to a time when the world was a simpler place and the only way you could really enjoy a baseball game was by listening.

blankDetroit TigersDan Dickerson and Jim Price – as told by Jamie Samuelsen.

Dan was raised listening to Ernie Harwell call Tigers games, and Jim played for the legendary (at least in Detroit) 1968 Tigers. So they are both Michigan and Detroit through and through which matters in Detroit about as much as it matters in any market in baseball. Listeners know how much these guys care about the team and it shows in both success and struggle.

Dan has fully embraced sabermetrics, and while he doesn’t go on and on with advanced stats, he’s more than willing to drop in a few numbers and stats that will further a conversation. His preparation is meticulous and it shows in his performance. He’s also outstanding at identifying pitch location and movement which leads to terrific discussions in game with Price, a former catcher.

Jim is a classic folksy color man. He’s a former big leaguer who played on the 68 Tigers, and remains good friends with Al Kaline, and makes sure that you know that. He’s done a great job in recent years looking at the Tigers through a more a critical lens. The Tigers have a massive payroll and have struggled at times, and Price is more than willing to point out poor execution, poor effort or a disappointing approach at the plate. He also has a few catch phrases (“art of pitching”, “yellowhammer” and “nice area”) that he now says with a bit of a wink to the listeners – knowing that they’re listening for them.

Together Dan and Jim are comfortable which is the goal of every MLB broadcast. They both worked with – and received the blessing from – the late, great Harwell who was royalty in Detroit. After more than a decade together, they represent the sound of summer on the radio in Detroit.

Barrett Blogs

Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, Don Martin, Sam Pines and Amanda Brown to Speak at the 2023 BSM Summit

“All six of these media professionals have enjoyed success throughout their careers and bring different perspectives, styles, and experiences to the room.”

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

I announced last week that the 2023 BSM Summit will be returning to Los Angeles. We had a fantastic experience in LA in 2019, and I expect our next conference on March 21-22, 2023 to be even bigger and better. But to do that, we need the right people on stage, and I’m excited today to reveal the first six additions to the show.

The 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles is proud to welcome FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports 1 host Colin Cowherd, FOX Sports 1 co-host of the new weekday program SPEAK, Joy Taylor, CBS Sports Radio and CBS Sports Network superstar Jim Rome, FOX Sports Radio and iHeart Sports SVP of Programming, Don Martin, and the brain trust of ESPN LA 710, Senior Vice President Sam Pines and program director Amanda Brown.

All six of these media professionals have enjoyed success throughout their careers. They bring different perspectives, styles, and experiences to the room, and I’m sure those in attendance at The Founders Club at the Galen Center at USC will enjoy and appreciate learning from them.

We will have more announcements in the future about additional speakers to the 2023 BSM Summit. A reminder that if you work in the media industry and would like to attend the conference, you can purchase tickets and secure your hotel room by visiting BSMSummit.com.

I’d also like to thank last year’s sponsors who have already confirmed participation in our 2023 event. The Summit isn’t possible without their support. For folks interested in sponsorship details for the conference, please email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now here’s some press information about each of our six participants.

Colin Cowherd: He is one of the most thought-provoking and successful sports talk show hosts in the country, and has been a key part of FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports 1 since September 2015. He is also the founder of The Volume, a digital-first sports media brand which has created an immediate impact in podcasting and on YouTube.

Cowherd’s three-hour sports talk program, THE HERD WITH COLIN COWHERD, airs simultaneously on FS1 and the FOX Sports Radio Network weekdays from Noon to 3pm ET. It is also available on www.FOXSportsRadio.comwww.FOXSports.com and has a dedicated iHeartRadio station, available live and throughout the day. The Herd has been chosen by industry programmers and executives as the top national sports talk radio show an unprecedented six times in seven years as part of BSM’s annual Top 20 series.

Jim Rome: Jim Rome is heard nationwide hosting ‘The Jim Rome Show‘ weekdays from Noon to 3pm ET on CBS Sports Radio. The program can also be watched on the CBS Sports Network. The show delivers three hours of aggressive, informed sports opinions, rapid-fire dialogue, tons of sports smack, and is consistently supported by Rome’s legions of fans otherwise known as the clones.

Rome also delivers his unique take on the day’s sports headlines via the CBS Sports Minute, 60-second commentaries which can be heard hourly on CBS Sports Radio affiliate stations. He also hosts his own podcast, The Reinvention Project, contributes to CBS Sports television, and has previously been seen on ESPN, FOX Sports, and in numerous movies and TV shows.

Joy Taylor: Joy Taylor co-hosts FS1’s new weekday program SPEAK alongside Emmanuel Acho and former NFL running back LeSean McCoy. She has previously worked as a co-host on THE HERD, as the moderator of SKIP AND SHANNON: UNDISPUTED, and as the host of her own podcast, “Maybe I’m Crazy”. She has also hosted programs for FOX Sports Radio.

Prior to joining FOX Sports, Taylor spent five years in Miami radio, including a successful three-year stint at 790 AM The Ticket, where she was co-host for the station’s top-rated morning-drive program, “Zaslow and Joy Show,” after starting with the station as the show’s executive producer. Taylor also served as the host of “Thursday Night Live” and “Fantasy Football Today” on CBSSports.com. She is a Pittsburgh native and the younger sister of former Miami Dolphins star Jason Taylor.

Don Martin: A 27-year veteran of iHeartMedia, Don is currently the SVP of Programming for FOX Sports Radio, the EVP for iHeartMedia Sports, and the SVP of KLAC-AM 570 LA Sports. Additionally, he provides oversight of the iHeartPodcast Network, which includes more than 40 national and 100 local sports podcasts and exclusive podcast agreements with the NFL and NBA. Don has been a featured speaker at prior BSM Summit’s and was recently a guest on The Jason Barrett Podcast. To hear it, click here.

Sam Pines: A fixture with Good Karma Brands since 2000, Pines is now charged with leading ESPN LA 710 since GKB assumed control of local operations. Prior to taking over the Los Angeles sports brand, Pines served as the GM and Sales Manager of ESPN Cleveland from 2006-2022. He has written a sales and leadership series, “Time to Win”, which focuses on coaching relationship-based selling and marketing, and is also involved with numerous boards and nonprofits.

Amanda Brown: Amanda has spent her entire twenty year career in sports radio working for the worldwide leader in sports. Currently responsible for creating and implementing the programming strategy for ESPN LA 710, Amanda has enjoyed nearly twelve years with the LA based brand after spending nearly six years in Bristol, CT producing national shows for the ESPN Radio network. Her career started behind the scenes in Dallas, TX where she worked as a producer at ESPN 103.3.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

7 Years of BSM and The Official Announcement For The 2023 BSM Summit

“Fast forward to now, and where this thing has advanced to is far beyond my expectations.”

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

Apologies in advance if some of this column feels like I’m giving myself and our brand a pat on the back. I am. When this company launched, many assumed I was just writing a few articles and biding my time until another programming job popped up. I had a number of friends say ‘there’s no future in sports radio consulting‘ and after putting my programming career in the rear view mirror to go home to NY, I wasn’t sure what was in store for me.

What I did know is that my interest in doing the same thing that I just did for the past decade in three different cities was gone, but my interest in working with brands and individuals was still very much alive. I loved creating and programming 95.7 The Game but my choice to come home was driven by personal reasons, not professional. I wrote in great detail about it back in February 2015 so if you’re not aware of my story and want to know more, click the link.

Some of you do know these details already so I’m not going to repeat myself. I also don’t like talking on this website about personal issues because that’s not what brings us together each day. Media news, insight, and opinion does. But when this day rolls around each year, I hope you can understand why I take a moment to celebrate it. I moved home with no job, no plan, and no business but 7 years later, here we are are still ticking.

Launching this company has been the best professional decision I’ve ever made. Erika Nardini just had this conversation recently with Mark Cuban and he said taking a leap when you have nothing is the best time to do so. As crazy as that sounds, he couldn’t have been more right. That said, it’s pretty humbling going from successfully managing a top 4 market brand and earning six figures to being unemployed with no income and not being sure what you want to do. There were many days where I wondered ‘what was this all for?’. I hadn’t been without a job for a long time but I didn’t want to rush into something I wasn’t excited about especially since I knew I had to take care of my son and wanted to set a good example for him.

When I announced I was leaving San Francisco, I said I’d consider staying with the company if a position could be created that would allow me to work from NY and travel to help brands. Entercom back then wasn’t as big as Audacy is now, so that wasn’t an option. That led to small talk about consulting but quite frankly, I had no interest in doing that. I thought consulting was something folks did at the end of their careers or others used as a temporary excuse to explain what they were up to after leaving a job. I was 41 at the time and felt I had two decades left to give to the business, and if I was going to go down that road, I’d do it differently.

As I began to clear my head and think about what was next, I decided I was going to create the position that Entercom didn’t have available except rather than being exclusive to one group, I’d be accessible to all of them. I wanted to make a difference in multiple cities and expand my reach beyond radio. Now I work with brands involved in radio, TV, podcasting, social media, sales, sports betting, etc..

I’m also very entrepreneurial, so the idea of building a digital company that focused on covering the sports media business had great appeal to me. I built my radio career by doing everything early on and saw that as an advantage. Back in 2015, there were outlets covering the radio business, but none dedicated to sports radio. Even the newspapers that wrote about sports TV and other media issues, often examined them with folks who hadn’t been on the inside for quite some time. I had recent experiences programming brands in three different parts of the country, I learned how to build a website, I didn’t mind selling myself, and I wasn’t restricted from writing and sharing my honest and candid opinions. That helped me give BSM life and a voice. I also had one other advantage. I was talking weekly with industry people, going to different cities to work with multiple groups and seeing up close why certain things worked and others didn’t. That helped me tell better stories, build deeper relationships, and assist clients with greater knowledge.

Fast forward to now, and where this thing has advanced to is far beyond my expectations. I’ve been presented with opportunities to work with groups I never expected. I’ve had people reach out to present opportunities, including purchasing the company, that others would be shocked were considered (Btw I’m not looking to sell). Our brand now generates hundreds of thousands in traffic per month thanks to an exceptional team of 20 writers which produces 35-40 pieces of content per day on the sports and news media industry. In fact, August was our best month of traffic this year. We were up 30% year over year. We create 5 podcasts per week, distribute multiple newsletters, consult a strong amount of media brands, sell and work with advertising partners to help grow their businesses, deliver content through social media channels that are followed by thousands of people, and host an annual conference, which is well attended and supported by industry professionals and broadcast companies.

———-

Which brings me to the next part of this column – the 2023 BSM Summit.

After hosting our last two shows in New York City, I told all in attendance that our next event would return to the west coast. Finding the right city and venue takes time, and this one was tough because there were great options in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but after reviewing the possibilities, I’m thrilled to share that the 2023 BSM Summit will take place in Los Angeles, California at The Founders Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California. The dates will be Tuesday March 21st and Wednesday March 22nd (we didn’t want to do dates that conflicted with the NCAA Tournament). Show time both days will once again be 9a-5p PT.

I couldn’t be happier with this location. The space we have to work with is fantastic, the people involved with USC have been great, and to bring a room full of sports media professionals to the USC campus will be awesome. We’ve also partnered with the USC Hotel which is within walking distance of our venue. Room rates and ticket prices for the Summit can now be found on BSMSummit.com.

I know everyone will start texting, emailing, calling, and DM’ing to ask about tickets, speakers, sponsorships, the after-party and awards show, etc.. I’ll have follow up announcements coming soon about the first few speakers we’ve lined up. Most people attended the 2022 show live, but some checked out the show virtually too. I’m not sure yet if we’re going to make this one available virtually. If we do, we’ll announce it on the site at a later time. Like anything, if enough people want it we’ll find a way to get it done. In the meantime, Stephanie Eads is setting up conversations with former and future conference partners so if you have a sponsorship question, hit her up by email at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

One thing I do want to ask of those who are planning to attend the Summit, email me to let me know what you’re interested in learning about at the show. We’ve been blessed to have some incredibly smart, successful people in the room, but as cool as that may be, I want to make sure folks return to their buildings afterwards with information to improve their operations. This only works if you take the knowledge and use it to help your brands and people. If anything in particular is of interest, please let me know by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

———-

As I look ahead to year 8, I’m extremely bullish on continuing our momentum on the sports media side. We’ve just added Eddie Moran as a new features writer, and if it makes business sense to add more writers or create additional podcasts down the line, we’ll examine those opportunities as they arise. A few years ago it was just Demetri and I running the day to day business. Now we have Stephanie, Andy, Garrett Searight, Arky Shea, Alex Reynolds, and Eduardo Razo involved, and though having a larger staff doesn’t guarantee success, I like how we’re positioned. If anything, our focus now is on doing impactful work not busy work. As much as I’d love to keep everyone and never stop adding, running a business effectively requires regularly examining what is and isn’t working. Having people involved who are passionate and consistently reliable is vital. If they can’t be then it means the fit isn’t right.

Having said that, I believe we can always get better. As we move ahead, I’m counting on my team to find and create more original content, strengthen and increase relationships, gain a stronger grasp of SEO, and collectively, we’ll work on improving our digital marketing to promote our content and develop better affiliate partnerships. One way the industry can help us in return, let us know when you create something on-air that might fit the site. Most of what we gather comes from finding it ourselves yet content gets created daily on sports TV and radio. We’re not going to write stories about sports opinions but if it’s media-centric, a heads up helps. So too does sharing our content on social media.

Though BSM is an integral part of our company’s future growth, I am equally as bullish on building Barrett News Media. We started BNM on September 14, 2020 and our first year was slow. We needed to dip our toe in rather than dive in head first, but over the past 9 months we’ve increased our relationships and our readers are now starting to see what we’re capable of. We’ve assembled a strong cast of news writers, reporters, and columnists, and just added to our team last week with the addition of Joe Salzone. Adding writers and consulting clients remains an ongoing process, and make no mistake about this, I want to help news/talk stations just as I have helped sports brands. Maybe down the line we’ll add a few news media podcasts too, but we have other things to focus on first.

For starters, if you’ve read this website over the years then you’re likely familiar with the BSM Top 20. It’s a series we produce recognizing the best in the sports media industry. It’s voted on by a large number of sports radio programmers and executives, and for 6 years in a row it has been our website’s largest traffic driver. I thought previously about doing a series for the news media industry, but because we had less help, little time, and an unfamiliar brand, I held off.

But that’s about to change.

Later this year, we will introduce the very first BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will include voting participation from news media programmers and executives, with the goal being to showcase the best national radio shows and podcasts, and the top local stations, shows, and PD’s from both the major and mid markets.

It will be a giant undertaking but it’s long overdue for our brand. Though I’m sure the process will be exhausting, I’m looking forward to sharing the results and shining a brighter light on the news/talk media business. When I’m ready to announce the dates and schedule for the series, we’ll reveal it here on the site and across our BNM social media channels. Stay tuned.

———-

As I bring this column to an end, I’ll end by sharing a few things that have surprised me over the years. First, I’m seeing less interest the past 3 years from younger people becoming programmers than I did between 2015-2019. Is that because of the pandemic? The rise of sports gambling? A lack of confidence in the radio industry? As someone who’s helped 15-20 brands find and hire brand leaders, and talks to more people than most, that’s concerning.

I think sports radio also needs to do a better job of grooming people for these roles and showing them a path to long-term success. PD’s should be more actively championing their people for growth too than they do. If you value someone and want to see him or her reap the rewards for their hard work, you have to look beyond how it’ll affect your day to day duties. Focus on the big picture, not just what makes your life easier.

What should concern executives is the fact that in the past five years, sports radio has lost Armen Williams, Jeremiah Crowe, Joe Zarbano, Adam Delevitt, Tony DiGiacomo, Terry Foxx, Brad Willis, Chris Baker, Tom Parker, Jay Taylor, Kyle Engelhart, Hoss Neupert, and John Hanson. I’m sure I’m missing a few too. That’s a lot of programming experience out the door including some with decades left to give to the industry. Maybe some weren’t built for the job long-term or others were kicking down the door and ready to lead but in most businesses, if you saw that type of change in key management roles, you’d be questioning if it’s an industry you want to be a part of. If the veterans don’t stay or become too expensive, and the leaders of tomorrow aren’t sticking around, where does that leave us?

From the talent end, how are you helping yourself when there isn’t a job to chase? If the only time you contact a PD is to ask about a gig, don’t be surprised when your calls go straight to voicemail. Relationships are a two-way street. Build them when there’s nothing to be gained and you’ll be amazed at how it pays off later. By the way, that goes for me too. I get asked by a lot of people to find time when there’s trouble in paradise but when life is good, crickets. Those who keep in touch and support BSM/BNM whether that’s through a monthly membership or buying a Summit ticket have more success getting a hold of me. I’m not trying to be a hard ass but I’m not an agent, so building your career isn’t my priority. Taking care of my family and business partners is. However, I do help people and make time for many, but it’s got to work both ways. My members and clients know they can ask for something and receive an answer. Others I’ve built and maintained relationships with receive the same. But if you’re counting on me to help you find work and gossip about the business with you, I’m not your guy.

If there’s been a winner the past 7 years it’s been the growth of sports betting. As other categories have produced less, sports betting has emerged as an important growth driver for the sports format. And this has happened with most of the country not even legal yet. As more states give the green light to legalize sports gambling, revenues and content opportunities should follow. We will likely reach a point where consolidation comes into play and certain brands and companies overload their content in a way that makes them insufferable to listen to but for every few setbacks there are far greater reasons to be optimistic. In the past 7 years we’ve seen Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and YouTube become big players in sports television. Might FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, Fanatics, Barstool and others do the same in the sports media space? That’s going to be an interesting follow for sure.

Knowing how everything can change in an instant, I take nothing for granted with BSM and BNM. This could all end tomorrow, and if it did, I’d look back on it as the best days of my professional life. I want to keep growing as a professional, while remaining an asset to my current partners, and finding ways to work with new brands and companies in both sports and news media. I’m also enjoying hosting a podcast again, and if you haven’t checked out The Jason Barrett Podcast, the latest episode with Colin Cowherd is a good one to start with.

The future for sports and news media may change but both will remain viable and important. I love that we’ve been able to be a small part of this business each day for the past 7 years, and I hope to make the next 7 years as fulfilling as the past 7. If I’m able to do that, it’ll mean the 20 years I spent in studios were needed to make a nationwide impact from a home office.

So on behalf of our entire team, past and present, thank you for reading the twenty thousand pieces of content we’ve produced since 2015. None of this is possible without an army of BSM/BNM supporters. I hope to see you in Los Angeles this March for the 2023 BSM Summit.

Continue Reading

Barrett Blogs

The Podcast Movement Conference Made a Mistake Rejecting Ben Shapiro

“If this is a conference about podcasting, and you have someone in attendance who excels at it, has a massive following, and their company is supporting your event as a sponsor, why are you treating them like a disease?”

Jason Barrett

Published

on

blank

I’ve had the pleasure of attending multiple Podcast Movement Conferences over the years. Those involved in putting the event together do a fantastic job creating an action packed agenda full of accomplished speakers, and the visual displays and access to different brands and industry professionals have always been nothing but positive. It’s why I was disappointed this year when my schedule didn’t allow for me to make the trip to Dallas.

So imagine my surprise late last week when I learned the conference took a stance against Westwood One radio host and co-founder of The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro

Shapiro’s company was a sponsor of this year’s show, and according to reports, the well known podcaster and radio host wasn’t registered for the event. He made a brief appearance at his company’s booth, shaking hands and taking photos with fans who stopped by to say hi, and his mere presence at the show led to some protesting his involvement on social media.

After learning Shapiro had stopped by, the Podcast Movement Conference posted a series of tweets which said “Hi folks, we owe you an apology before sessions kick off for the day. Yesterday afternoon, Ben Shapiro briefly visited the PM22 expo area near The Daily Wire booth. Though he was not registered or expected, we take full responsibility for the harm done by his presence.”

The conference added, “Those of you who called this “unacceptable” are right. In 9 wonderful years growing and celebrating this medium, PM has made mistakes. The pain caused by this one will always stick with us. We promise that sponsors will be more carefully considered moving forward. No TDW representatives were scheduled to appear on panels, and Shapiro remained in the common space and did not have a badge. If you have questions, we’re here to talk. Thank you for reading, and we hope you’ll continue to join us from here on out.”

A quick search shows that Shapiro has one of the top performing podcasts on the charts. According to Westwood One, it is downloaded over fifteen million times per month. In addition, his radio program is carried on hundreds of radio stations, he has 13 million followers combined between Facebook and Twitter, and his company, The Daily Wire, adds another 5.5 million supporters to the mix. They also showed they were supportive of the conference by making a financial commitment to sponsor a booth.

Having explained all of that I was stunned that the Podcast Movement Conference took this position. Let me be clear, it was a mistake. Their stance has led to a flood of negative attention over the past 72 hours, and it all could’ve easily been avoided. Though their next event is still a year away, given how much attention this story has received, it could have a carry over effect on future sponsorships and attendance. Only time will tell.

As someone who runs an annual conference, albeit much smaller, I know how hard it is to put an event together. What the Podcast Movement organizers put together each year requires a herculean effort, which is why I’m baffled that they picked sides in this situation. The media industry is large and full of people, brands and companies with different views and approaches to business and everyday life. The second you start judging and making decisions based on personal beliefs and/or social media activity, you’re in trouble.

I’ve long maintained that if someone works in the sports media industry and wishes to learn and share information to help improve the business, they’re welcome at our BSM Summit. We make changes to our schedule each year based on what we feel is topical for the attendees but we don’t discriminate, support one brand over another or allow personal views to dictate if someone can or can’t be present.

Case in point, at our March conference, I had a few people privately upset that I asked Craig Carton to speak. Craig’s prior arrest and time served in jail is well documented. First, I have a ton of respect for what Craig has accomplished, and I believe in second chances, but personal views aside, he’s the afternoon host in the nation’s largest market working for WFAN, a top rated sports radio brand. History has shown that he’s damn good and successful, and more than qualified to speak on the subjects we cover at our event. When a few folks expressed their displeasure with my decision I told them ‘If you’re not a fan of Craig, don’t attend that session. If it bothers you beyond that, I understand if you can’t attend the show.’

Quieting the noise gets easier when you focus strictly on the business. Making everyone happy is impossible when you organize an event, but if you allow multiple viewpoints to be present in the room, you end up in a decent place more times than not.

You also have to remember that social media can make things appear worse than they are. Is the issue you’re dealing with being raised by conference partners and supporters who attend the event each year or from someone who’s not in the building and thrives on creating a social media firestorm for the causes they oppose and fight against?

Some may recall that I dealt with a few headaches in 2019 prior to our LA Summit after folks involved with groups that had no interest or desire to attend our show started trying to create a controversy out of nothing. Though it was frustrating playing defense on Christmas night when individuals from the New York Times, Deadspin and WNBA teams started poking holes in our conference’s flyer, I learned an important lesson. As long as you do the right thing and have the support and trust of your friends, family, attendees, and partners, who cares what others think or say who don’t know you and aren’t in the room for your event.

That’s what I don’t understand here. Is Shapiro not one of the most successful podcasters out there? Was his company not a paying partner of the event? If this is a conference about podcasting, and you have someone in attendance who excels at it, has a massive following, and their company is supporting your event as a sponsor, why are you treating them like a disease? Most would roll out a red carpet for someone with Shapiro’s track record of success not publicly condemn them for showing up and sponsoring the show. I know I would. I’d also do the same for someone who’s equally successful and views the world the exact opposite way.

I can’t help but wonder how folks at Westwood One feel about this incident. Don’t they promote and support this conference and include their people in the event? Think they might object to one of their top personalities being treated this way? Furthermore, how about the talk radio format? It’s no secret that most of the programming on news/talk radio stations leans right. A number of top performing podcasts follow a similar path. It’s safe to say that most in the format are going to support Shapiro, and I don’t think that helps the conference with attracting future business and participation.

To be clear, I don’t listen to Ben Shapiro’s podcast or radio show, and I don’t read The Daily Wire. I only point that out because I don’t want anyone to assume that I’m supporting him because of personal interests or a professional relationship. We’ve never spoke or crossed paths. My opinion is based solely on the facts surrounding this situation, nothing else.

That said, I understand Ben has shared opinions that some take offense to and I don’t blame those folks for not wanting to be around him. But there’s a simple solution, don’t go near him or his booth. It’s the same thing I tell people who don’t like a particular radio station’s hosts or a piece of content on our website; if you don’t like it, don’t read or listen to it. The Podcast Movement Conference takes place in a large convention center. There’s more than enough room to keep everyone separated and happy. Last time I checked, there were attendees in the room who stopped by to meet Ben at his booth. Do they not count?

Look, you don’t have to agree with Shapiro, but this is a podcasting business conference, and it’s something he’s done at a higher level than most. That qualifies him to be there. You can’t get in the middle and start determining who is and isn’t allowed in based on personal beliefs or trying to please agenda driven people on social media. Would Podcast Movement tell Joe Rogan, one of the most successful podcasters out there, that he couldn’t attend if people who didn’t like his views on Covid-19 protested? What’s next, not giving out industry awards to stations and individuals who we don’t like or agree with? When does the insanity end?

Here’s the reality, there are likely other sponsors and attendees in the room who have views that some may consider offensive. Our content and advertisers aren’t just supported by good, honest people. There are thousands, if not millions, who listen and support us who are shady, sick, and morally bankrupt. That’s beyond our control. Our job is to inform and entertain, and make people care enough to come back regularly. If we do that well, sponsors will follow. Keep those things happening, and everyone remains satisfied.

Moving forward, the Podcast Movement Conference has to decide if it wants to be open to all or only to some. I root for the conference to do well. I’ve enjoyed attending previous shows and hope to attend future ones. But if they expect to maintain support and enjoy future growth, learning from this situation is important. There’s much more money in staying neutral than alienating one side of the room.

Continue Reading
Advertisement blank
Advertisement blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2022 Barrett Media.