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All Press is Not Good Press

Jason Barrett




The Christmas season is supposed to be a joyous one for many. But in 2018, Santa Claus and a 70 year old Christmas song are connected to controversies that have left some feeling less merry.

The most recent stir was created by a company named GraphicSprings, who conducted a survey to explore ways to modernize Santa Claus. The results of that survey found that 27% of participants felt Santa should be either female or gender neutral.

If you’re like me, you were probably wondering “Who took this survey?” and “When did the public call for a Santa makeover?”

Prior to the Santa chaos, radio was under a heat lamp after a Cleveland music station Star 102.1 removed “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, a 70+ year old Christmas song from its playlist. The controversy started with a complaint from one listener according to reports.


Sensing an opportunity to generate publicity, KOIT in San Francisco did the same thing. That decision was short-lived though after local listeners told the station to stop screwing with its Christmas music and put the song back into rotation.

Christmas controversies aside, you may have also seen bizarre segments on FOX News television appear in your social media timeline after Tucker Carlson used air time to discuss gender neutrality for babies and removing the word ‘man’ with Cathy Areu.

Just mentioning those items gives me a headache but it leads to an overall point. 

You’ve probably heard the phrase “any press is good press” or “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” The idea behind each is that as long as the brand or its people are being talked about, that’s a good thing.

I strongly disagree with that assessment.

I don’t think the Kansas City Chiefs appreciated the publicity that Kareem Hunt helped the team generate a few weeks ago. Nor were the San Francisco 49ers excited about Reuben Foster staining their image over domestic violence allegations in late November.

Were both brands talked about? Of course. But did that sell more tickets or merchandise, generate more sponsor dollars, or raise the confidence and excitement of the team’s fans? I don’t think so.

In sports radio, a host is often on the air for 15-20 hours a week. There are going to be times when the topics they explore and the opinions they offer create media buzz. As long as it’s not something impossible to defend, you’ve got to let passionate opinionated people do what they do, even if certain members of the audience don’t agree with it.

That happened recently in Jacksonville when 1010XL and NFL reporter Jason La Canfora had an on-air spat. La Canfora wound up hanging up on the station’s midday show, and people were divided on Twitter over who was right and wrong in their handling of the situation.


A few months earlier, we saw a controversy brew between WFAN’s Mike Francesa and Gregg Giannotti. The two drive time personalities spent time on their programs offering a scathing assessment of each other’s talent.

In both instances, the noise was the result of passionate people having differing opinions. Both conversations began organically.  To coin a phrase from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, “nobody died.” 

When I reflect on the ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ issue it reminds me of a decision made last year by CBS Radio Las Vegas management. After not landing the rights to the Vegas Golden Knights, management decided to institute a ban which would prohibit the team from being discussed on any of the cluster’s radio stations.

As soon as I heard about it, I thought ‘that’s a really bad idea’. Never mind the fact that it was the first time the city was treated to professional sports, a season in which the Knights shocked the world and went to the Stanley Cup, but that decision put every male and female personality in an impossible spot with the audience. They were forced to carry out a mandate, even if they disagreed, because an executive decided to send a message to the Knights about their position in the market.

When you program a radio station, you’re going to constantly be met with negative feedback. The audience gets mad. Teams get upset. Sponsors complain. Rarely do people rush to send you emails and tweets to let you know how much they appreciate your content and decision making. 

Leadership requires an ability to evaluate each situation, and think about the masses not just the vocal minority. It’s easy to say yes and give in to pressure. Saying no and standing by your people and content is harder. If you pull the plug on a song that’s aired for 70+ years, people are going to want to know why. They’re going to ask “Why was the song OK last year? What about those of us who still want to hear it? Will the station remove other songs it airs with questionable lyrics or meanings?”

Before you do something drastic that creates national headlines, you’ve got to examine the issue from all angles. If a few days after you make a bold decision you’re reversing it because the audience is pissed and your brand is under an avalanche of negative attention, it tells me you either A) didn’t research the issue well enough or B) used the moment for a cheap pop.


If it’s the latter, that’s weak. It doesn’t require much skill to create chatter. I can walk into a radio station today, grab the mic, tell the audience soccer will have 10X the amount of fan interest as the NFL in 3 years, and instantly the phone lines will ring, tweets and texts will pour in, and I may even end up being written about. 

Did I generate buzz? Sure. But is saying and doing things for affect the best idea if you want to build long term trust with the audience? I don’t think so.

An alternative rock programmer can walk into their office today and make national headlines by pulling Nirvana’s ‘Rape Me’, Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ and Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Closer’. A Hip-Hop station PD could do the same by removing Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems’ and Eminem’s ‘Stan’. If the Classic Rock PD wants in, they can eliminate Aerosmith’s ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady’, Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’.

But for a sports radio programmer, the material isn’t previously written and recorded. It’s created live thru the vocal chords of an individual. It’s more common to react afterwards, than in advance.

But imagine where this could go if we started acting like it was our responsibility to make decisions in advance and alter content based on the feelings of a few. 

How different would sports radio be if the on-air talent were banned from talking about any athlete who was involved in an arrest? Lawrence Taylor, OJ Simpson, Aaron Hernandez, Ezekiel Elliot, Aroldis Chapman, Mike Tyson, and Kobe Bryant wouldn’t exist let alone hundreds more.

What about if a local station landed the play by play rights to a team such as the Indians, Braves, or Redskins, and then decided to not refer to them by their name in all station imaging and online mentions because they disagreed with the franchise’s name and wanted to generate mainstream attention? It’d be an expensive decision, one which would likely cost them the team’s rights, but would it make a lot of noise? Very likely.

Let’s flip it now to professional sports. What if each league started taking players out of their Hall of Fames based on facts we learned later about them. Would that suffice? What about if they started reviewing infamous moments in sports history, and changing the results because of new found evidence. Would that sit well with you?


To limit artistic expression is extremely dangerous. Not only does the best content come from it, but it opens our minds to see things from a different point of view. That’s very much needed in this divided world.

I do understand that times change and certain messages don’t register as positively as they once did, but your interpretation of something doesn’t make it fact. It just means you have an opinion on it. When we begin installing bans, trying to rewrite history, and slanting content towards our personal beliefs with minimal amounts of evidence to support it, it’s almost always met with backlash.

There’s a frightening shift that’s been growing the past few yeas where people want to silence voices that offer positions they don’t agree with. It’s happening in radio, television and print. Changing the channel or having a spirited debate no longer seems to be enough. 

How this will affect future conversations on sports radio is going to be very interesting. I for one hope we’re not a format embracing restricted points of expression because that won’t expand our audience or get the best out of our talent. It’ll just limit our potential. 

It’s imperative that brands are led by people who understand the tight rope talent walk on and don’t get shaken by the first piece of negative feedback. You’ve got to do your homework and make choices that serve the best interests of the entire audience, even if it means a select few are unhappy. Once you recognize and embrace the fact that you’ll never satisfy the entire crowd, the better off you’ll be.

What you don’t want to do is rush to judgment and become the story, because it can alter the perception of your brand, especially if you have limited information to justify a controversial decision. You may think the press you’re gaining to please the noisemakers makes it worth it, but if the reputation of your brand gets damaged, and your staff loses confidence in you, I’m not so sure you’ll still see it that way. 

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett




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 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




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

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

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 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 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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