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Thank You For Supporting The 2019 BSM Summit

“Jason Barrett provides a recap of the 2019 BSM Summit in Los Angeles.”

Jason Barrett

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Nine months. That’s how much time was invested in putting together the 2019 BSM Summit. It seems crazy that a two day event could require so much time and energy, but it did. In the end though, it was well worth it.

I’m a perfectionist by nature, so there’s plenty I’ll look back on and say ‘we should’ve done this, we didn’t we do that’ but if I never did another thing in the sports radio industry, I can look back fondly knowing I brought the industry together. I saw over 150 media professionals from 30+ companies grace the halls of the Grammy Museum last week in Los Angeles, sharing insights and ideas on stage, interacting in the halls, toasting one another at the cocktail reception, and coming together for a common cause – to gain information, increase relationships, and work towards lifting the sports radio format to higher levels.

I didn’t think that was possible when I decided to roll the dice and turn this small private event into a bigger industry show. Sports radio folks aren’t often found at radio conferences. They have a tendency to become attached to their offices and studios. Fortunately though this event drew a favorable response.

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Don Martin said it best at the end of the summit, ‘kinship matters, and it’s important that we work together to raise the level of this format.” That’s so true. We spend so much time worrying about crushing each other that we forget that there are a lot more stations not delivering sports talk radio content and taking money and ratings out of our format. In the television world sports is king, but in radio, we’ve got a lot more work to do to improve the overall perception.

We’re operating at a time where economic projections for radio are flat to down over the next few years. I made this point during my Under The Radar session that programmers need to think more like business executives, instead of ratings chasers. Yes the content and coaching matters, but a true brand leader invests themselves in the success of the entire organization. That means sales, events, marketing, and examining all aspects of an organization, and what it isn’t taking advantage of that could potentially be a new avenue towards additional revenue.

Reflecting back on the two days, it was a blast sharing the stage with so many great people. We captured a ton of video, audio, and photos. I’ll be sorting thru all of it in the days and weeks ahead, and making some of it available on the BSM website, BSM Podcast, and thru my social media channels, so stay tuned.

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As far as the sessions were concerned, it was cool putting Bruce Gilbert and Mike Thomas together. The two brothers are well accomplished, and had never been on a panel. That blew my mind. It reminded me that it’s vital to create fun sessions, understand who’s attending your event, and introduce fresh voices and faces.

Personally, I was very proud to introduce awards in the name of Jeff Smulyan and Tony Bruno, and offer the industry’s respects to both men. What each of them has accomplished in this business was well worth recognizing. Having Eric Shanks, Rick Cumings, Kraig Kitchin, and Clay Travis part of those awards ceremonies made it even more special.

Anytime I can spend thirty to forty minutes talking shop with Jim Rome, Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock, Marcellus Wiley, Eric Bischoff, Mitch Rosen, Dan Zampillo, and Don Martin it’s a great day. I also loved going outside of the content area and chatting about business with Steve Shanks, Jill Albert, Lisa Nichols-Jell, and David Gow.

As a spectator I loved watching my good friend Jim Cutler wow the crowd with his fantastic session on imaging. Jim sees more copy than anyone, and he has a tremendous passion for this format. When he offers his insights on how to stand out creatively thru the speakers, I’m a sponge for the information. Hopefully every PD in that room was paying attention.

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It was also a lot of fun leading Doug Gottlieb down the hall to surprise Adam Klug, Jim Graci, and Eric Johnson after they critiqued part of his show on stage. All three programmers handled it great, and Doug was awesome as well. Here’s a guy who’s been hosting shows across the country for over a decade, and his first words to the panel were ‘you said I took too long to get into the content…..and you were absolutely right.’

The conversation Mike Salk conducted with Ramona Shelburne, Steve Wyche and Bruce Feldman on reporting, which included expectations when appearing on sports radio brands was also excellent. I thought Demetri Ravanos delivered a similar experience when he explored ways to stand out in digital and social media with Pat Muldowney, David Feldman, and Phil Mackey.

Having Brian Long share time on stage with Mason & Ireland allowed all in attendance to get a feel for why John and Steve have been such a consistent force in Los Angeles. I also liked how Jason Dixon moderated the Inside vs. Outside Thinking panel with Ryan Hatch, Chris Kinard, Justin Craig, and Scott Shapiro. That was a lot of programming power on one stage.

For those in search of information, Steven Goldstein, Warren Kurtzman, and Norm Pattiz hosted sessions on podcasting, smart speakers, research, and monetizing digital. We also ventured into eSports and sports betting with Joe Fortenbaugh moderating a chat with Brian Musburger, Chad Millman, and Kip Levin, and Arash Markazi talking with Ari Segal, Jared Jeffries, Daniel Cherry, and Sebastian Park.

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The most powerful session though belonged to Emily Austen. I’m so happy for her that she was able to share her story with people, and continue the process of moving forward. We all make mistakes in life, and I’ve never been the type to close a door on someone who screwed up.

Emily and I met on radio row this year, and I was aware of her screwup on Barstool Sports. She didn’t try to make excuses for it, she was accountable. She sought to use her mistake as an example to help others, and leading up to the conference I knew she’d move the room. I watched some of the video clips she sent me, and they were uncomfortable. I wondered how people at the event would react to such hateful and disgusting remarks on the screen, and decided to air them without editing because real life situations aren’t always pretty. Regardless of where she goes in the future, I know there are people who left that room with a different perspective thanks to her willingness to be vulnerable.

One of my favorite personal moments was sitting on stage hosting the Women in Sports Media panel listening to Amanda Gifford share her wisdom with the audience. To think that fifteen years ago Amanda was my intern on ESPN Radio’s GameNight, and now here we were having an important discussion together on stage was a very cool moment. I thought Amanda, Lindsay McCormick, Debbie Spander, and Julie Stewart-Binks were fantastic, and provided a great reminder of why it’s vital for sports radio to continue adding female voices to the on-air presentation.

Just as important as providing a beneficial on-stage experience was, it was also necessary to have some fun. The private cocktail party at Tom’s Urban was well attended, and went so good that I actually reached into the wallet and added some expense to extend it an hour. It was going too well to shut it down after sixty minutes.

I want to thank Ryan Hatch for picking up on how we promoted the BSM Summit leading up to the show. We had a strategic vision for creating written content, and everyone on the BSM writing staff got into the act and did a tremendous job 4-6 weeks out to build up additional buzz. To all who lent their time sharing feedback with our writers, I greatly appreciate it.

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There were a few takeaways that I couldn’t end this column without pointing out. I learned that Colin Cowherd REALLY likes Evan Cohen, Jim Cutler’s bullshit button brings out the kid in all of us, attendees feared front row seats more than losing a meter, the Dolly Parton exhibit in the Grammy Museum had more fans than I initially expected, Josh Innes, Tony Bruno, Joe Fortenbaugh, and Mark Zinno showed that no matter how talented and successful they are as on-air talent, they still care about learning new things to get better, and Bruce Gilbert won the conference with his memorable quote ‘podcasts are the new assholes, everybody’s got one’.

I’ve since begun seeking out feedback from those who attended to find out what we could’ve done better. I’ve learned over the past four years from attending industry shows that nothing is ever perfect, even if that’s the goal. My hope is that attendees were able to take something back to their brands to further grow their business, and that the experience was enjoyable enough to want to attend again in the future.

Where I do have to make adjustments is with my personal involvement creating the show. I put way too much on my plate this year. I created every session, the BSM Summit website, the on-site program, every powerpoint (except Cutler, Austen, Goldstein, and Kurtzman who brought their own) display, and I tracked down 99% of the speakers. I also sold every sponsorship. Trying to do all of that while continuing to listen and talk to clients, write, podcast, and pursue new opportunities is difficult.

Thankfully I had great on-site support from my team of Demetri, Tyler, Brandon, and Stephanie, and excellent video work from Brandon Burgess of The King of Dreams, but going forward, I’ve got to add a few extra hands to make things easier. That’s a good problem to have, it means we’re growing.

Speaking of support, I couldn’t have pulled off this event without the help of Premiere Networks, FOX Sports Radio, ESPN, PodcastOne, Compass Media Networks, Hubbard Radio, Harker Research, and Benztown Branding. These groups placed their faith in me, and I hope that you’ll do the same for them by checking out their brands, programs, people, and websites.

I also want to recognize Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock. I traveled to Los Angeles in October to do a site review of the Grammy Museum, and during my visit I stopped by the FOX lot to meet up with both of them. I hadn’t built one session or secured one speaker when I asked them each to participate in the conference. Without hesitation they both said yes. They gave us a much needed boost to attract other great people, and I greatly appreciate them doing so.

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It was also a pleasure seeing an increase in market managers, and industry executives in the room. To those who made the trip, thank you for doing so. I’m well aware that programmers, agents, and talent will support the show, but this format needs everyone involved, not just those responsible for content. Moving forward, I’m determined to bring more GM’s and industry leaders into this conversation. I also think if you’re a talent looking to improve, and advance your career, you’re missing a huge opportunity not being here. There is no other event where you’re going to cross paths with more than 40-50 radio bosses.

I’ll wrap this up by adding that I love the sports radio format. I believe it deserves much more credit and investment than it currently receives. The personalities are household names locally and nationally. The brands they operate on are an integral part of listener’s lives, and the associations stations have with professional sports franchises provide another meaningful way for advertisers to benefit.

Some radio groups have a tendency to overlook this format’s ability to deliver significant results. Advertisers can be guilty of doing the same. Maybe that’s due to some brands still broadcasting on AM, measurement remaining challenged, the format being too narrow focused on Men 25-54, and radio not being considered as sexy as other platforms. But I’ve seen firsthand how this format produces strong returns for clients. So much of turning the corner involves pulling for each other, taking chances, and telling our story. We’ve got to continue doing that if we want to generate bigger ratings and dollars.

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I’ve made it my life’s mission to advocate for this format, and help brands, and people create larger success. Whether I work with a station or not, I’ve tried to be a valuable resource to anyone I come in contact with. I’m a believer that if you do good work and have a good reputation, when the time is right, people will seek you out to help them. Hopefully down the line we’ll have a chance to do some business together, but even if we don’t, I hope to see you at the 2020 BSM Summit.

Now just one question remains, where should we hold it? Click here to cast your vote.

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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Barrett Blogs

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it worked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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