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Redesigned, Rebuilt and Reclaimed by Nick Kayal

Jason Barrett




Life was going unbelievably well. It was April 2015. My 7-month old twin daughters were healthy and loving life. My wife was in good spirits. You know the old adage, happy wife, happy life. I was beginning year number three of my evening show in Philadelphia when the chance to go National came knocking. After six years at 97.5 The Fanatic I was heading to SiriusXM to host the afternoon drive show on Bleacher Report Radio. No more 1-hour commute. A home studio. More money. A blank canvas each day to talk about the biggest stories in the world of sports. At 31-years old it happened sooner than I ever imagined it would. Little did I know that I was just 2-months away from my life changing forever.

It was the first Sunday night in June. Game 1 of the NBA Finals was set to begin. LeBron vs Steph. Cavs vs Warriors. I was going to DVR the game because my wife and her family wanted me to go to the Sands Casino to take in the Bill Maher Show. As we were eating dinner at one of the restaurants in the Casino prior to the show I came down with a really bad cough. I had to excuse myself from the table multiple times. I didn’t think anything of it. I ended up leaving the show after coughing most of the night and probably annoying those around me for disrupting their evening. I told my wife I had to go to the hospital. Something wasn’t right. I barely had any voice.

The doctors at the hospital said it was Laryngitis and should go away in a matter of a few days or weeks. That wasn’t the case. I struggled to get through a 3-hour radio show each day, limping to the finish line. Then on July 24th I was informed that SiriusXM and Bleacher Report had renegotiated their agreement and virtually all of the lineup was let go, without warning, I was out of work. I was shocked. But it was also a blessing in disguise. I knew I couldn’t keep struggling vocally each day, especially with football season coming up. The money time for the sports radio business.

Starting in August of 2015 I went to voice doctors in Bethlehem Pa, but I could tell they were overmatched and not diagnosing the root of my problems. They told me it was acid reflux that was causing my vocal fatigue. I took some medicine, changed my diet slightly, but still my voice shut down on me quickly. I knew something wasn’t right. Finally in March of 2016 my wife’s Aunt was able to connect me with a great voice surgeon and doctor in New York City. After some tests he confirmed that I had suffered a 25% paresis to my left vocal cord. Essentially, my left vocal cord was weakened from that cough I had, which was trigged by a viral infection that attacked the nerve/muscle that controls your vocal cords. My left vocal cord might have been even more paralyzed than 25% but probably regenerated and recovered to some extent, but it was still only about 70-75% of what it used to be.

This is what happened to FOX’s Joe Buck in 2011. He also had a paralyzed vocal cord. So about a month later I had surgery. Dr. Peak Woo took some fat from my stomach and injected my left vocal cord to bulk it up so that my vocal cords would connect and close. It helped to some degree, but still I had troubles. He told me that acid reflux wasn’t the issue. Yet I was still having more issues. So finally in June of 2016 after researching the best Laryngologists in the country I came across Dr. Robert Sataloff in Philadelphia. He has worked with some of the most iconic voice professionals in the world. Patty LaBelle, Neil Diamond and Robert Goulet. If he could restore their voices I felt confident he’d be able to help me.

As soon as I met him he assured me “there’s no question we will get you back.” After a bunch of tests he confirmed my weakness on my left side but also said acid reflux was a culprit and my right vocal cord was bowing. So in November of 2016 I had anti-reflux surgery on my stomach. A Nissen Fundoplication. It went very well. Then in January 2017 I had my neck cut open and had a thyroplasty implant placed next to my right vocal cord. In June of 2017 I was placed on reflux medicine and told I had to drastically alter my diet. Whatever tastes good, is essentially bad for you. No more coffee, alcohol, acidic, fried or greasy foods. I couldn’t believe it. I was 175 LBS, in very good shape, exercised 5 days a week and ate relatively well. But I loved foods with tomatoes, garlic, onions, etc. I never had any heartburn, so I couldn’t comprehend how or why I had reflux. But it was called “silent reflux.” It’s where the acid comes up and burns the vocal cords, causing you to clear your throat and destroying your voice.

From September 2015 through July 2017 I became miserable. I was depressed. Annoyed. Agitated. Doubting whether or not my life would be altered forever. Forget my career and doing a radio show, I didn’t want to talk on the phone, and socializing became incredible difficult. Being in a loud environment was discouraging. I couldn’t project my voice in a noisy venue. I even had trouble being social with my daughters and wife. It absolutely stunk. Finally in July 2017 after over a year of voice therapy my voice started to get better. Dr. Sataloff told me it would take up to 12-18 months to get the full effect from the thyroplasty. I was running out of patience.

Good news finally came in August when he cleared me to resume broadcasting activity. That was great. But I had no platform. After applying for jobs in various markets I realized I was going to miss my 3rd consecutive football season on the radio. Time was running out. My own self imposed deadline was creeping in. In February of 2017 I had to turn down an opportunity to go to Seattle and do a show in the Pacific Northwest because I was just coming off of surgery. I also had a chance to do some network fill-in work but botched that opportunity. I had pursued other opportunities but the offers weren’t there.

Finally in November of 2017 I saw that there was a job posting on Jason Barrett’s website, It was for a host position in Nashville, Tennessee. The job said you need to be able to talk SEC football along with the Titans, Vols and Predators. They had me at SEC. I’ve been a devout Alabama Crimson Tide fan for 25-years and knew in my heart that Philadelphia and National had come and gone and talking college football was my passion. Everyone and anyone that knows me knows that I love SEC football. So I applied.

I quickly realized that there were so many connections and correlations between Nashville and Philadelphia and Alabama. Marcus Mariota is the Titans QB. We discussed him constantly in 2014 with Chip Kelly coaching the Eagles. Derrick Henry was the RB for the Titans, my favorite Heisman winner from Alabama. The Predators are coached by Peter Laviolette who guided the Flyers to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2010. And now the Tennessee Volunteers were hiring Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. It was too good to be true. I instantly knew that this was meant to be.

So I applied for the job and went through the process from the week before Thanksgiving, all the way through the month of December and halfway into January. I flew down the morning after Christmas and met with the station, the talent and management and quickly realized what I had already assumed and wanted. This was meant to be.

Now here I am, co-hosting a 3-man morning show, each weekday morning from 6a-10a ET on ESPN 102.5 The Game in Nashville. The show will begin on Monday February 5, 2018, the day after the Super Bowl. It’s an exciting time to move to a booming city like Nashville. The Titans are naming a new Head Coach after winning a playoff game. The Vols have a new Head Coach as they look for redemption in the SEC and the Predators are trying to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second year in a row. It’s a great time to be a part of Nashville’s BEST SPORTS TALK.

In conclusion I’ll tell you what I learned. First of all, never take ANYTHING for granted. Even something as simple as talking. You don’t realize what you have until you lose something. Even something like your voice. I learned that my wife is the most selfless person on the planet. The sacrifices she made while I was at my lowest make me appreciate how lucky I am. She carried my family when I was at rock bottom, physically, mentally, vocally, professionally, financially and even spiritually. I owe her so much.

I have to thank God for carrying me through the difficult times and bringing me back to better times. I have to thank my voice team for all of their help. Every doctor, surgeon and therapist that helped me get back have been a true blessing. And I owe Nashville, ESPN 102.5 The Game and Cromwell Radio so much. They have given me the opportunity of a lifetime. They decided to trust me over other candidates from out of the market, to candidates in the market. General Manager Jana Hampton and Program Director Ryan Porth have been tremendous to me and I can’t wait to validate their decision to choose me. I look forward to working with Braden Gall, Julian Council and the rest of my morning show team.

After two and a half years of surgeries, frustrations, sleepless nights, tears shed and prayers on top of prayers I finally have gotten it back. My voice. My passion. My family. My career.

Redesigned. Rebuilt. Reclaimed. A slogan that WWE Superstar Seth Rollins used to regain his career after a devastating injury is something that I kept in the back of my head while going through my own rehabilitation.

It’s now time to get to work. Buckle up, Nashville. The Morning Drive with Nick Kayal, Braden Gall and Derrick Mason starts Monday on ESPN 102.5 The Game.

Barrett Blogs

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




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 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

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 for sports, and 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 and sports gets less crowded on 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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Barrett Blogs

Julie Talbott to Receive The Jeff Smulyan Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“The best leaders are the ones who empower their people, work with their talent, and study situations to determine where room for growth exists.”

Jason Barrett




Each year at the BSM Summit, we take time to recognize some of the true difference makers in the sports media industry. It’s become a special part of the event, and it reminds everyone in the room of what’s possible if you do your job well and create impact.

Four awards in total are presented over the two-day event thanks to our friends at Premiere Networks. Each award has a different focus.

The Jeff Smulyan Award is presented to a radio industry executive who has led by example, taken risks, produced results, and made a significant difference for the sports radio business. The Mark Chernoff Award is given to sports radio’s top programmer. The Mike and the Mad Dog Award is presented to the top local sports radio show in America. And The Champions Award along with a financial contribution from BSM is given to an industry member who has used their platform to make a difference for others.

Since we began taking the Summit live in 2019, Mitch Rosen and Rick Radzik have been recognized as winners of the Mark Chernoff Award. Adam Schefter and the team of Keith Murphy and Andy Fales have been recipients of the Champions Award. And the top rated combination of Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti received the first ever Mike and the Mad Dog Award at the 2022 BSM Summit in NYC.

Which brings us to the Jeff Smulyan Award.

A number of top notch executives have joined us to accept this honor over the years. It started in Los Angeles with Kraig Kitchin, continued in New York City with Dan Mason, and then Traug Keller took home the honor during our last show, which also took place in the big apple.

As we looked to 2023, the goal was to identify someone who’s been active in growing their company’s footprint across the sports radio industry. Equally important was someone who has the full confidence and trust of their people, a track record of delivering results, and has uncovered new business opportunities to lead their company forward.

After a brief conversation, Jeff and I knew exactly who the right person was.

It is my honor to announce and congratulate Julie Talbott, President of Premiere Networks on being named our recipient of the 2023 Jeff Smulyan Award. Julie will be present in Los Angeles at the Founders Club at the Galen Center at USC to accept the honor at the 2023 BSM Summit on March 21-22, 2023.

“I’m humbled and honored to receive this award – especially with Jeff Smulyan’s name associated with it. I’ve been a fan of his throughout the years” shared Julie Talbott. “Premiere Networks and FOX Sports Radio are dedicated to delivering the best multiplatform sports audio content the industry has to offer, and this award truly recognizes the amazing efforts of our entire team, who I couldn’t be more proud of.  Thanks to Jason Barrett and BSM for this incredible honor.” 

“I have known Julie for many, many years and our industry doesn’t have a better ambassador than her” added Jeff Smulyan. “She has worked tirelessly to build Premiere into a remarkable enterprise and she has made legions of friends and admirers along the way. She is so deserving of this award and I couldn’t be happier that my friend, Julie Talbott is the winner of the 2023 Jeff Smulyan Award. Nothing makes me happier than to present it to her this March at USC!” 

“FOX Sports Radio’s growth under Julie’s watchful eye has been impressive, but when combined with Premiere’s performance and reach, and seizing opportunities in the digital space by launching strong brands such as The Volume, in partnership with Colin Cowherd, you start to see how she’s put her magical touch on the industry,” explained BSM President Jason Barrett. “The best leaders are the ones who empower their people, work with their talent, and study situations to determine where room for growth exists, and few have the respect, trust, and confidence of their people better than Julie Talbott.”

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Barrett Blogs

Omaha Productions, The Volume, Dirty Mo Media and Silver Tribe Media to Appear at the 2023 BSM Summit

Jason Barrett




The 2023 BSM Summit is five months away but the process to build sports media’s annual industry event continues. We’ve already announced 11 participants for our next show including Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome and Joy Taylor, but by the time this show takes place, attendees can expect to hear from 50-60 people as the agenda becomes action packed.

I do want to share one thing for those inquiring about speaking. Though I appreciate the interest, I’m selective in who we feature on stage because it’s important to keep the show fresh and full of actionable content. There are tons of smart people in this industry but I can’t accommodate everyone. I try to create sessions that benefit radio, digital and television executives, programmers, general managers, talent, agents, salespeople, production staff, etc. and to do that, we’ve got to cover a lot of different subjects over a two-day span. My goal is to send folks home with ideas and information to improve their brands, while providing a space for groups and individuals to meet since it opens the door to additional business. We’ve been fortunate to have good support and participation over our past four events, and I’m expecting this one to be even bigger and better.

Before I announce the latest additions to our speaker lineup, I want to thank Premiere Networks for their continued support of the Summit. They’ve been wonderful partners for years, and I appreciate them joining us to create the annual Awards ceremony. It is always a hit with attendees. More to come soon on this year’s honorees.

I’d also like to thank Harker Research for returning as a partner of the event, and MRN Radio for signing on as a new partner. Harker has sponsored all of our live events, and MRN has been in attendance for those shows. Having their support makes a difference. They join Premiere Networks, Stone Voiceovers and Core Image Studio as Summit partners. If you haven’t secured a sponsorship but would like to be, email Stephanie Eads at She can update you on what we still have available.

As far as the content is concerned, I’m excited to announce a very cool session we’re adding which will include involvement from Omaha Productions, The Volume, Dirty Mo Media, and Silver Tribe Media.

Everywhere you look these days, athletes are taking more control of their own messaging. They’re also more interested in content creation and are investing in people to help build today and tomorrow’s sports media empires. Whether it’s been Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or broadcasters such as Colin Cowherd, Bill Simmons, Dave Portnoy and Pat McAfee, the era of personality-led audio networks has arrived. This session will examine where we are, where we’re going, what’s been learned, and how it will affect change across traditional media moving forward.

Jack Rose of Silver Tribe Media will moderate the session. Joining him on stage will be Logan Swaim, Head of Content at The Volume. Richelle Markazene, Head of Audio for Omaha Productions, and Mike Davis, President and Executive Producer of Dirty Mo Media. Each of these folks have great insight and experience with leading personality-built brands, and Jack’s understanding of the media landscape through his work with Michael Klein’s company make him an ideal fit to guide the conversation. This is a session that traditional media folks are going to want to be present for.

If you haven’t purchased a ticket or booked your hotel room, don’t wait until the last minute. Everything you need to be in attendance for the Summit is available at We are excited to host the show at The Founders Club at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California. This is a great location and the biggest room we’ve run our conference in yet. I’m hoping to see you there.

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