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BSM Celebrates Its Two Year Anniversary

Jason Barrett

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The past month has been chaotic, with two and a half weeks of travel causing me to feel out of sync. I’ve attended the Podcast Movement Conference and NAB Radio Show, visited FOX Sports Radio, FS1 and Jim Rome’s studios, enjoyed a few drinks and conversations with top notch program directors, and have earned the eyes and ears of more than 10 CEO’s and/or corporate executives, strengthening my relationships and expanding my knowledge of various companies and situations. That doesn’t include engaging with numerous folks by phone, email and social media.

If you told me I’d be in these situations two years ago when I launched BSM, I would have questioned why I didn’t make the move sooner. The pace has been fast, the challenges different, and it’s kept me so focused and bullish on our business that I had to be reminded by my fiancé of my company’s two year anniversary this past Friday.

As crazy as that sounds, it’s a great problem to have. I entered this space determined to build something special, and to see it gain traction and generate respect and interest throughout the industry is something I take great pride in and am very grateful for.

Having spent more than two decades in the radio business, I’ve seen a lot of folks over the years brand themselves as consultants whenever they were in between jobs. It was a way for people to stay relevant and tell decision makers “I’m not unemployed, but if you have a job for me I’ll gladly consider giving this up.” They offered feedback to people who wanted to improve on the air but discovered that relying on industry members for business was extremely difficult.

Given my background as a programmer, I understood why many assumed this would be a stop-gap move for me. It was expected that I’d show up in a building in New York or relocate as I had done multiple times during my career, but truth be told, I went into this space fully committed. I had no desire to reclaim my PD stripes. I saw how the radio industry was changing and felt the need for outside consultation would increase if I was able to whether the storm of starting and growing a business. If operators needed to take a wait and see approach before working with me to make sure it was an area I was committed to, I had no problem being patient and letting my work and persistence do the talking.

When I started working in radio 22 years ago, I was cautioned by my father that it was competitive and paid very little. I knew that I’d have to scratch, claw and work my tail off to make noise and create opportunities. My first full time opportunity paid $16,000 dollars per year, and with a family of four to support at the time, I questioned if I was doing the right thing. But radio was in my blood and fueled my desire to wake up each morning and perform, and I couldn’t turn it off.

I actually took a 6-month departure early in my career to enter the ‘real world’ and work for AT&T Wireless. When I landed the job I instantly doubled my income which felt great, but I soon discovered that I couldn’t work a job that I wasn’t emotionally and passionately invested in. I’d go to the office, writing down phone numbers of athletes, celebrities and media personalities, hoping to book them for future shows, only to be reminded by one of my cubicle compadres “Jason, you don’t have a radio show and you aren’t in that business anymore.”

And that’s when I realized, I am not going to be confined to a cubicle, answering phones and questioning why I didn’t chase my dream. Money makes life easier to live but what you do professionally occupies so much of your time in life and I wasn’t going to waste mine.

You can imagine how well it went over when three weeks before Christmas when I walked in the door and told my family I quit AT&T, was going to return to radio, and would not rest until I made it. There were short-term financial challenges to overcome but I was and remain a firm believer that you don’t make decisions solely on money. In anything you do, there has to be a bigger purpose and a sense of excitement attached to your involvement, otherwise you become a slave to the paycheck.

Not to take anything away from anyone who makes a living answering phones or working a M-F 9a-5p job. I’ve wished at times I was wired differently and could accept a simpler lifestyle. But for me, the radio light bulb was always on, and no matter how hard I tried to turn it off, I just couldn’t. As the famous line in The Godfather Part 3 goes, “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

In writing this column, I wanted to share how I think and operate because the way I manage BSM is no different than how I’ve managed my career. This company isn’t a placeholder. It’s my new way of life. I’ve invested in knowledge and fought to build a career, earn respect, and deliver results for my employers, and I use that same approach today to guide BSM.

One of the real perks of making this move has been that it’s helped me learn so much more during the past 24 months. Being active with multiple companies in different cities keeps me on my toes, and every week and challenge is unique. One week I might be sitting in front of three ultra-successful big market personalities discussing the progress of their show, the next week I might be doing a social media evaluation for another client. The following week I could be working with a smaller station to help a young man develop as a host, play by play voice and brand leader, and the next I’m analyzing ratings trends, developing seasonal strategies, evaluating imaging and helping recruit talent.

I’m extremely fortunate to have great support from my fiancé, son and parents, and valuable relationships with exceptional companies/clients and thousands of industry professionals. Without each of them placing their faith in me this business would be nothing more than a pipe dream.

During the past two years I’ve grown my clients from two to eight, I’ve gone from having no budget to attend conferences to being able to attend three to four per year, and I’ve increased my in-market training projects from two to six. I’m extremely proud of that progress and it lets me know that I’m on the right path.

I’ve also built up the website as a source of information and original content. BSM has amassed more than two million pageviews and become a destination for other industry professionals to write and earn a few dollars for contributing. That doesn’t include creating 22 episodes of the BSM Podcast, and generating an additional 56,000 listening sessions.

And I’m not even close to where I want to be. This is only the beginning.

One thing I hear often from industry leaders is how important it is to be bold, take risks, invest in people who can help improve products, and not be afraid to seek others outside of the organization to keep a brand honest. In fact, these messages were repeated often during the past three weeks at the NAB Radio Show and Podcast Movement Conference. Executives stressed how rapidly the world is changing, how cluttered and competitive the content and revenue spaces are, and why operating in status quo mode is a failed strategy. I agree with every single one of those assessments, and as an independent resource who knows the sports space as well as anyone in it, I’m looking forward to holding our industry’s leaders accountable to their words.

2018 is going to be a big year for radio with a ton of change happening. I’m sure we’ll say the same thing when 2019 and 2020 roll around. Although we can’t predict what the future entails, we can prepare for it by having the right people in our corner (hint, hint).

I take great pride in being an advocate for the sports radio format. I don’t believe there’s any individual or platform championing this format’s cause and impact more than I, and I do it to help our companies and sports radio brands gain the recognition, respect and revenue they deserve, and to showcase the people who make it possible. There are so many great stories to tell about our format but sometimes we have tunnel vision and forget to share our ideas and information. The world isn’t going to know what you’re doing if you don’t let others know about it, so for all of my programming friends, hosts, producers, sellers and corporate leaders, continue sharing the information, no matter how big or small you may think it is, and I’ll keep fighting to help elevate the conversation about our format.

The second thing I’m working to evolve is the perception of consultants. Maybe in the past it was enough to tell market managers and programmers, “do this, do that, lose this person, add this one” but in 2017 that isn’t enough. Today, I evaluate content, ratings, branding, imaging, develop relationships with people for potential short-term and long-term opportunities, research audience interests, study social media trends and make strategic recommendations, develop seasonal strategies, share big picture ideas and revenue generating events, supply information to operators for weekly appointments, write columns and news, host a podcast, help create new digital ideas, vote on awards, and appear on sports radio shows as a guest sports media analyst. Plus in 2018 I’ll be hosting the very first BSM Sports Radio Programming Summit.

Having been a PD before, I made decisions and stood by them, win or lose, but I never made them without doing research, gathering opinions and opening my mind to other possibilities. Every great leader should want to surround themselves with smart experienced people. Especially those who can provide them with additional ideas and information, and an honest perspective that they might need to hear during critical times.

I think we’d all agree that the audio space is booming, and the appetite for sports content is growing by the day. I’m a huge believer that we are well positioned for greater success, and although our industry faces challenges, there’s never been a better time to be involved in it.

As I reflect on the first two years of BSM I’m extremely thankful and excited about where we are. I can’t thank those I’ve been lucky enough to work with for their trust and business, and I look forward to expanding my relationships with other great broadcasters in the near future. Being active is great, but changing the game and making a lasting impression is what fuels me each morning. It’s time now to get back to work and begin making year three our best one yet. Thanks for your consistent support of BSM!

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

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When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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