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2019 BSM Summit – Day 1

“The key takeaways from Day 1 of the 2019 BSM Summit .”

Jason Barrett

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We are in Los Angeles for Day 1 of the 2019 BSM Summit. Over 60 speakers are scheduled to take the stage over this two-day event, and more than 130 media professionals have invaded The Grammy Museum to gain new ideas, insights, and information from the brightest minds in sports media.

BSM would like to extend a special thank you to its corporate partners for the 2019 BSM Summit: Premiere Radio Networks, ESPN, Hubbard Radio, PodcastOne, Compass Media Networks, Harker Research, and Benztown Branding.

We will continue updating this blog throughout the first day of the conference. You will notice the full schedule is laid out below. As each session concludes we will pass along the key notes and quotes that industry folks will gain the greatest value from.

9:00AM – Opening Remarks

Jason Barrett – President, Barrett Sports Media

Jason welcomes the speakers and attendees to the second annual BSM Summit, and emphasizes the need to grow the sports radio format. What the next 2 days will provide is an abundance of ideas and information which he hopes will be valuable to station leaders in further elevating the performance of their brands.

9:10AM-9:40AM – The Past, Present & Future of Sports Radio

Presented By:

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Don Martin – SVP of FOX Sports Radio

Anything that takes the audience away from us is our competition.  The industry needs to work together rather than only focus on beating each other.

My ratings are only there to drive revenue, but if we’re going after the younger audience, we need to acknowledge they’re not only listening on terrestrial radio anymore. If we’re going to reach the masses with a play-by-play broadcast, we need to find them on different platforms, not just AM radio.

We need to go younger, find gender equity and get more diverse. Teams still need to be on radio for Generation X, but you need to grow other platforms for the Millennial’s because one day, all teams will be digital, and not on terrestrial radio.

Mitch Rosen – PD of 670 The Score
Mitch wakes up in the morning asking what can we do better, how can we be better than our local competition? We can have 15 – 20,000 listeners through steaming, but that doesn’t matter to Nielsen.

For the industry to advance we need to move in the direction of TLR, Total Line Reporting. In order to have a successful sports radio station, you need a play-by-play team. The Cubs have been great for The Score and won a championship their first year on the station, but there are times you need to be more creative on the broadcast.

Dan ZampilloESPN LA 710 Operations Manager

Dan wants the most amount of people listening for the longest amount of time. Everything that takes the audience away from us is competition. We can’t be narrow with our content. Is what we’re doing on-air going to get the largest audience?

The entertainment value for play-by-play has to be there. Story-telling, personality, and being entertaining is still vital. Getting the nuts and bolts of play-by-play is important, but it still comes back to relating to people, and being funny and personable.

9:40AM-10:10AMProgramming Strategies For a Changing World

Warren Kurtzman –  President, Coleman Insights

Outside thinkers like radio, they use radio, but they don’t care about it in the grand scheme of their lives. They might not notice a change to the station’s lineup. Inside thinkers will notice every change.

The hierarchy of radio is selecting music or talk, personality, specialty programming, contests, marketing, news and community. What combination of sports should you be talking about, what teams generate listeners, what role should niche sports play?

Finding the brand essence of your station is critical, are you straight sports talk? Or is your station more personality driven. Finding balance is the art of programming, you can have content, but is it right for your branding?

Based on research, breaking sports news is the most important thing listeners want from their local radio station.

Research in a select market showed more than half of listeners gamble on sports, even if it’s a small amount. If gambling was legalized in their state, 31% said they would gamble more. About half of the listeners said they do not want to hear hosts talking about gambling.

A study in a select market showed more than half of the audience was not interested in hearing about esports, but 43% expressed interest in attending an esports event.

10:10AM-10:45AM – The Rise of Voice and Podcasting

Steven Goldstein – CEO, Amplifi Media

Goldstein’s 20-year old son loves sports, as do his friends, they listen to Barstool and podcasts, they’re not aware of the local terrestrial sports radio shows.

Radios are no longer in homes, people have smart speakers and other ways to listen to digital programming easily, which might include your radio station, but it also includes hundreds of thousands other stations and podcasts.

One in four Americans listen to podcasts. The medium age of podcast listeners is 34, the medium age for AM/FM listening is 46. ESPN’s podcast medium is 13 years younger than it’s broadcast medium.

Maybe eSports isn’t ready for an hour of content on a sports radio station, but it might be perfect for a podcast. That’s the type of brand-extension everyone in this room should be thinking about.

Downloads of your show might look great, but 100,000 downloads in one month can translate to just 1,650 extra listeners.

Young listeners expect audio on demand. If they listen to audio on their iPhone and your audio is not there, you’re losing a potential audience. It needs to be on demand and easy to access, they don’t want to download your specific app.

10:45AM-11:15AMRemaining Relevant
Moderated by 
Brian Long – PD, XTRA Sports 1360/News Radio 600 KOGO

Steve Mason – Midday Host, ESPN LA 710

Our show from years ago would be unrecognizable to what it is today. We used to be very guest heavy, about three years ago our boss challenged us to do a show with no guests and no calls. The show is about the hosts, people want to know how we are going to react to things. It’s more work to do the show this way, but the show has developed to where we now rarely take calls or have guests.

Coming out as gay was not a big deal. Steve didn’t want it to be a big deal. “I don’t want to be the gay sports talk show host, I want to be the sports talk show host who happens to be gay.” Mason said he felt left out, John gets to talk about his wife and family and that was absent from Mason on-air. Mason had been with his partner for 13 years and thought it was time to be completely authentic. As much as Twitter can be an ugly place, Mason said he never received a negative comment after coming out.

John Ireland – Midday Host, ESPN LA 710

In terms of being an employee of the Lakers as their play-by-play voice, there are things I can’t say, but Steve can still say anything. He can make a point that if I said it, I would get a phone call.

One of the by-products of Steve coming out was we realized it was not a big deal. I knew he was gay, I encouraged him to come out a lot earlier than he did, but it had to feel right for him, Steve and his partner had to be comfortable with it. But I was happy for him.

11:15AM-11:50AMAudio’s Path to Digital Dollars

Presented By:

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Norm Pattiz – Chairman, PodcastOne

Norm discussed PodcastOne’s relationship with Hubbard. He says that Hubbard does a great job of selling podcast performance to their clients, but admits the program is only in beta right now.

He sees the growth of the podcasting industry as “remarkably similar” to syndicated radio. “First we evangelize then we strategize.”

He tells the story of the creation of Podcast One. It was born at a Laker game, because his season tickets are next to Ari Emmanuel’s. After the pitch meeting with Ari’s company, other agents started calling him to learn more about the idea. They instantly recognized the value of having their clients own their own media.

Patrick Polking –  ESPN Radio

Patrick notes that ESPN’s audience for its podcasting is the youngest segment of its audience. He notes that the audience for podcasts is coming from all over ESPN.

He is asked about a paid model for podcasts. Patrick says that if ESPN were to charge $1 every time someone wanted to download Le Batard that the podcast would make more money, but that wouldn’t serve ESPN’s overall goals. They’d also make more money operating the way they do now.

Matt Kramer – Agent, CAA Sports

Matt builds on the idea that his clients see value in owning their own media. He says that his clients tend to notice more when someone on the street stops them to say they like the client’s podcast than to say “I saw you on ESPN last night.”

Kelli Hurley – VP, Digital Sales, Westwood One

Kelli discusses the appeal of podcasting to talent. She says that it is great to have so many big names interested in the industry, but the people that succeed are the ones that understand what an intimate medium it is and that they have to create a personal connection with their listeners.

When asked about the conversion rate for advertising dollars on a podcast, Kelli notes that podcasters are influencers. Their audience trusts them and their recommendations.

Evan Cohen – VP of Content, Good Karma Brands

Evan discusses Good Karma’s TheLandOnDemand.com, a local subscription site that supplements ESPN 850 in Cleveland. He says that it has served the company in a number of ways. Not only is it something of a farm system to groom young talent, it also creates a new bonus revenue stream for talent who’s digital content performs well.

11:50AM-12:20PM – The Jeff Smulyan Award Presentation

Presented By:

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Rick Cummings – President, Programming, Emmis Communications

Rick admitted he thought Jeff’s idea of an all-sports radio station was a bad idea and for the first 18 months it was. But Don Imus joined the station’s morning show, Mike Francesa and Christopher Russo were added to the afternoons, and FAN turned into a major success story.

Rick has been with Jeff at Emmis for 38 years and notes, you don’t stay with somebody for 38 years because of the paycheck, you stay because you believe.

Jeff Smulyan – CEO, Emmis Communications

“I’m glad this award is named in my honor and not my memory. About a mile and a half from The Grammy Museum is where the idea for sports radio came about. It took place at USC where Jeff was attending.

The line between being a genius and an idiot is very fine. When FAN was losing money Jeff was an idiot, but here we are decades later and he’s seen as a genius.

Jeff said he never expected sports radio to get as big as it is today. He’s glad it has and is honored to have an award named in his honor and for Kraig Kitchin to be its first recipient.

Kraig Kitchin – CEO, SoundMind/Chairman, National Radio HOF

We all owe a great bit of gratitude to Jeff for creating the format. We should not be pointing our guns at each other, but we should point them out and work together to as an industry grow and improve. The success of Premiere was due to the hard work of a lot of people. Kraig says he’s thrilled to have been a small part of it.

1:30PM-2:05PM – The Conversation with Colin Cowherd

Colin Cowherd – FOX Sports Radio/FOX Sports 1

Colin says he doesn’t think he’s any different than anybody in this room that loves what they do. If you have to tell someone to do something, then it’s not for them. He decided when he was 8 years old that he wanted to be the next Howard Cosell.

Colin says he likes to listen to different radio shows on his way into work for about 20 minutes. Evan Cohen’s program on SiriusXM is one of the shows he turns to, He also thinks Joe Fortenbaugh is very talented. Colin isn’t listening for their takes, he is interested in their topics. Whatever he feels really confident about or if he has something funny to add, that’s what he’ll lead with, even if it’s not the biggest topic.

Colin points out that he used to be more fear based, wanting to prove people wrong. Now he’s more joy based. He acknowledged that he was hard to work for and hard to work with, now he’s more secure and likes to help other people, especially upcoming broadcasters.

About once a year, he’ll stare at the camera and say “Oh for God’s sake, I have nothing to say, and three minutes left to go.” In radio, you can get stuck and push through it and at ESPN I did a radio show that was put on TV, but now he’s in a TV studio performing for the camera where it forces him to think about the TV audience.

Colin says he’s not in the radio or TV business, he’s in the interesting business. His goal is to be interesting. He’ll try to get it right, but isn’t as worried about if he is or isn’t right. His mother used to tell him, “you know when I really like your show? When you’re not talking sports.” I try to appeal to my mom and not just the sports fan.

His views on podcasting are that it’s a solid space, but it’s tough to monetize. He doesn’t think you can put podcasting behind a paywall. Anybody can have a podcast, but 95% of them don’t make money.

Jason Barrett notes that Cowherd created his own podcast network and has a few shows hosted by people he thinks are talented, Barrett asks how do those podcasts get to the next level? “Hell if I know” added Cowherd.

I’m never loyal to a sport or platform, I’m loyal to my audience. I love college football, it’s my favorite sport. I dropped my college football content by 50% this year because Alabama and Clemson are too regional.

My preparation is why I’m here. My voice isn’t great, there are people in this room that know more sports than I do. I know enough about sports, but my preparation is what makes me successful.

Do not produce your show through Twitter, it’s a fun house mirror as Clay Travis said. Believe in yourself, believe in your prep, believe in your homework. Do not let social media produce your show. Trust yourself, trust your gut. We laugh at social media, we mock it, we never produce our show through social media.

2:05PM-2:40PMHow eSports Fits Into Sports Media
Moderated by Arash Markazi – Columnist/Enterprise Reporter, Los Angeles Times

Ari Segal – CEO, Immortals
When you understand and see the fans’ passion for esports you get it and that’s what traditional sports owners such as the Kroenke’s, Mr. Kraft and the Wilpon’s are seeing when they invest in the industry. There is a generation of sports fans who never threw a ball in their backyard, who never wore a Montana, Elway or Brady jersey. If you go to an event, you see that generation of fans wearing an esports jersey and it’s something they might have never done before.

Jared Jeffries – President, Echo Fox
Everything has to be quick, if the esports audience is just talked at, they’re out. Sports radio can lose esports fans very quickly.

Daniel Cherry – CMO, Activision Blizzard
You need to think about the business model, I think you will see esports covered by one group and picked up by other outlets similar to the AP format. Delivering the right content to the right person at the right time will be the key. The sports talk radio format is very much people giving takes and every once in awhile having people respond. We need to make the sports radio experience more communal, esports fans want to be participating and engaging, not be spoken too.

Sebastian Park -VP of eSports, Houston Rockets/Clutch Gaming
Don’t be afraid to jump in, ask questions and research esports just like you would any other sport. I don’t know if the industry works on sports radio right now, but podcasts have done really well in merging sports radio listeners and esports fans.

2:40PM-3:10PMWomen In Sports Media: The Road Less Traveled

Debbie Spander – Agent, Wasserman Media
A lot of program directors are scared because their audience is mostly men, but they need to view women as a voice, not just as a woman. We haven’t seen a good number of women moving into larger roles. Radio is a great format for women. The goal isn’t to be on TV anymore, the goal is to be in media, to have your voice heard and be consumed.It’s interesting that TV, a more modern media form, hired women much sooner than radio, an older form of media. It’s frustrating that radio isn’t more open minded about who can speak to their audiences.Women want to have an opinion, they want to talk mainstream sports.

Amanda Gifford – Coordinating Producer II, ESPN
It’s an evolution, and maybe 10 years ago women didn’t look at this space as something they wanted to pursue, but as they see other women in the industry, now they look at it as a viable career space. Whether it’s male or female, for sports radio you have to love the format.

Lindsay McCormick – Host, Entrepreneur
Now more than ever we can create our own opportunities. With YouTube, podcasts and different platforms, you can create your own content. Radio can be a very useful tool, it can help you hone your interview and debate skills. If you dismiss that than you’re saying the only think you have to offer is your looks.We assume all of management is male, but there are several female higher-ups in the industry as well. I’ve had males take me under their wing, but if you’re a female not hiring other women then shame on you.

Julie Stewart-Binks – Host, ESPN LA 710
ESPN has done such a good job of promoting personalities. I was doing updates, but knew I wanted more than just 10 seconds. I knew if I worked hard, chipped away and showed people I can do this, I could show my personality and do more than be an anchor and reporter. It’s important for program directors and management to leave their door open. Treat us all the same way, don’t look at women as only being a sideline reporter, I don’t feel good about a role like that, I want to show my personality.

3:10PM-3:45PMInside vs. Outside Thinking (The PD’s Perspective)
Moderated by 
Jason Dixon – Director, Sports Programming, SiriusXM

Presented By:blank

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Justin Craig – Sr. Director, Programming & Operations, ESPN Radio
When we put Trey Wingo on it was someone who was doing TV for 20 years, not radio.  Right away he had to realize there is no more visual fonting, he has a radio audience and we had to use an outside approach to think like a listener. I have multiple listening sessions on a daily and weekly basis, we don’t start at the beginning, we start listening in the middle because that’s what our audience does, they don’t listen from beginning to end, we have to think like they do.

Ryan Hatch – VP, Programming, Arizona Sports 98.7/KTAR
The only thing that matters is how you’re serving the audience for what they want right there and then. I think you need to spend a lot less time on the Nielsen side. We have months where our stream is larger than our terrestrial audience, I think it’s going to be less and less looking at Nielsen ratings moving forward.

Scott Shapiro – VP of Programming, FOX Sports Radio
We think this content will fill a segment and this will fit in a market, but we need to think about the audience and make programming decisions based on what the audience wants. Make your imaging promos sound like the audience, if you’re in a diverse market, the imaging should reflect that.Ultimately we’re looking to grow our audience by having the best talent with the most thought-provoking opinions.

Chris Kinard – PD, 106.7 The Fan
It’s not a four hour movie that the audience sits down and consumes from beginning to end. They listen for 20 minutes at a time, they don’t necessarily listen everyday. You need to think about the real world. People are in and out of their car or listening on their phone doing other things at the same time. If we’re starting a sports radio station today, we don’t need a big promotional team and multiple cars, we need a larger digital team. We need to hire update anchors that are social media people, why would you pay someone to sit there for 30 minutes to produce a 60 second update? We have to make tough decisions moving forward, AM/FM is still important, but we need to be creative in how we run our business. I can reach more people sending a Tweet myself than my promotional team can.As a programmer, going on sales calls is still important. You need to be involved in the process to make sure advertisers are reaching your audience.

3:45PM-4:20PMThe New Frontier of Sports Media

Joe Fortenbaugh – Host, 95.7 The Game/The Sharp 600 Podcast

The entire sports gambling industry is moving towards in-game bets. The radio industry in particular has to innovate to keep up.

Brian Musburger – Co-Founder/Chairman, VSiN

The demos for VSIN are largely split amongst ages, but are overwhelmingly male. They strive to have credibility with people that follow algorithms, but they recognize the need to teach people how to gamble.

Picks are the least interesting part of a sports betting conversation. VSIN prefers to focus on the guys setting the line and find out why the number is what it is. By following the factors that move the numbers, you are creating analysis.

The leagues’ positions on gambling will continue to evolve. Veiled references will continue to exist on game broadcasts, but the traditional broadcast will always be for a general audience. This will lead to more alternate feeds of the biggest leagues and games.

Chad Millman – Head of Media, The Action Network

Action’s users are largely male and young. They put a major emphasis on how they present their content digitally. Right now most of their users are hardcore bettors, but they are finding the casual gaming audience is growing.

All anyone really wants are picks. Most people ask their personalities “who do you like.” The context and the analysis are important, but the pick is the main course. People don’t care if you aren’t going to make a pick.

In game betting has a major effect on the punditry effects of what The Action Network does. It makes the pregame bet feel irrelevant.

Kip Levin – President/COO, FanDuel

You have to give an audience the feeling they can get an edge. You can do that with both picks and analysis, but you need to offer diverse information. 

With TVG, FanDuel aimed to create a Bloomberg or CNBC style show for sports gambling. The ratings climbed every week of the NFL season.

Fan Duel isn’t advertising around content. They value audiences and geography when looking for radio partners.

4:20PM-4:55PM – The Jungle of Sports Radio

Jim Rome – Host, CBS Sports Radio/CBS Sports Network
Sports radio is a job, but it’s a great job and I’m going to do this as long as I can. When I went to college there was no internet, there was no sports radio format, there was FAN and that’s it. I asked myself, why me over everyone else who wants this job, and I realized the answer is I will never give in.

When I started, I was in market 174. I wanted to get to a major market and I ended up going to San Diego. From there, we started syndicating the show and it wasn’t with a big company, we were knocking on doors trying to get other stations to pick up the show. It was two stations, then four, eight and so on. Every time I entered a new market, I started talking about their local sports because I never went directly from local to national, it was a gradual transition. Now, with 200 markets I can’t do that.

Jim is trying to find transcendent topics, and says he means what he says and says what he means. He’s not looking for just the hot topic, because the audience can tell when something isn’t genuine.

We get a lot of feedback, from listeners and management, even my wife will text me to say “are you sure you want to be saying that?” I want to make sure I’m relevant and making an impact.

You better have thick skin in the industry, not everyone’s going to be happy to see you. I didn’t set out to be polarizing, but I learned early on that the people that like me seem to really like me and the people that don’t like me seem to really hate my guts.

I need people around me with opinions, that can make the show better and sometimes I’ll take those opinions and say you’re right let’s do that, other times I’ll take those opinions and say no, we’re doing it this way. We don’t need to knock heads everyday, but I want people around me with opinions that can stand their ground.

I can not tell you how important it was to get to San Diego. When I was in market 174 I was killing myself trying to get to a large market. I was writing to radio stations daily, so when San Diego gave me that break it meant everything and they will always be special to me. I’m still not in every market I need to be in, and I want to get in those markets. I’m still knocking down those doors because I’m really hungry to get there. I love the grind, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I want more.

I like the digital platform. I’m able to do certain things on my podcast that I can’t do on my terrestrial show. I can have different guests on my podcasts and do long-form interviews. I want to try different things and the digital space is good for that.

Regarding a potential subscription based platform – If I’m going to offer something that I’m charging for, what am I giving the audience that they can’t already get for free?

I should listen to other shows more than I do, but I’m not that smart, I work really hard on my show. I’m getting in at 6 for a show that starts at 9 and then I’m working at night. I’m really locked in to what I need to do for my own show.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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