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September is a Time For Reflection at BSM

“If I was going to do this, I was going to go all-in. If it didn’t work out, I could always chalk it up as a loss and do something else.”

Jason Barrett

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Each Tuesday after Labor Day, it’s common across the country to find sports media professionals entering their buildings with a new found energy and focus. Kids and teachers go back to school signaling an end to the summer, the NFL returns, and brands turn their attention to the busy fall sports calendar, hoping to take advantage of increased fan interest in order to close out the year with positive momentum.

But for yours truly, Tuesday after Labor Day matters a little more. It represents the anniversary of Barrett Sports Media. I try to take a few minutes at the start of each September to appreciate the past year in business and reflect on how far this brand has come since being launched in 2015. I mean this when I say it, I appreciate every person and company who has utilized BSM for business over the past four years and look forward to future opportunities to work together. To those who haven’t utilized us yet, I hope we have a chance to change that in the near future.

When I left San Francisco for New York four years ago, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. David Field, Rick Scott and a few others raised the idea of consulting to me while I was still programming 95.7 The Game but I wasn’t sure if it was the right path for me. I saw the industry rapidly changing, and most of the consultants at that time were older, radio-focused, and not publicly visible. If I was going to go down that road, I knew I’d have to do it differently, but I didn’t think my age and approach would serve me well in the consulting space. Thankfully my read on the situation was incorrect.

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As I talked to industry friends about the possibility of consulting, the consensus from everyone was that it’d be a hard space to make a living in. The sports format was nearly eight hundred stations strong, and the four largest radio companies (CBS, iHeart, Cumulus and Entercom) rarely used outside help for their sports brands. The national players (ESPN, FOX Sports and SiriusXM) had a similar philosophy. That wouldn’t exactly give you a lot of confidence to enter the space would it?

Most also assumed I’d miss the daily competition and thrill of programming a local sports radio station. They felt I’d do what many do, promote myself as a consultant to keep my name out there (it sounds better than unemployed radio guy), and then change direction when a great programming gig opened up. But that was never part of my thinking. If I was going to do this, I was going to go all-in. If it didn’t work out, I could always chalk it up as a loss and do something else.

When I got back to New York in 2015, all I cared about was gaining custody of my son. I took a few local meetings to see what was out there, but as I thought about the idea of going back into a building to run another radio station, I found myself less excited than I was when I accepted PD jobs in 2006 in Philadelphia, 2009 in St. Louis and 2011 in San Francisco. I felt I was capable of more than just growing one station’s ratings for one company in one market. The possibility of overseeing all sports brands for a company had some appeal to me but that type of opportunity didn’t exist so it left three options: take the safe route and return to a building, leave the radio business, or carve my own path by trying something new.

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Having just spent the past twenty years in radio including the previous ten programming stations in San Francisco, St. Louis, and Philadelphia, I felt I had knowledge to share. I was also passionate about the present and future of the sports format and couldn’t fathom the idea of not being involved in it. But how do you make a living if you’re not working inside of a building? There was only one way to find out – I had to take a risk – and I’m so glad I did.

It’s not an exaggeration when I say that the past four years have been some of the most enjoyable and rewarding years of my career. I’ve worked with over 20 radio stations since venturing down this road, and get to travel to different cities to help and learn from people, plus listen to a wider variety of sports radio than practically anyone. To play a small part in the growth of a program director, assist someone with landing a job or creating a brand story to strengthen their business, help a client grow their ratings and earn industry accolades, and form relationships with executives and market managers who I didn’t know a few years earlier is personally satisfying.

Part of this journey has included building the BSM website into a daily destination for sports media professionals. I’m proud that we’ve helped elevate the industry’s knowledge of the sports radio and television landscape while offering professionals career advice and specific examples to help them improve at their craft. It still amazes me that over the course of four years we’ve somehow generated more than three million page views and two and a half million visitors to this website.

Equally as fulfilling have been the connections formed across the country, the daily engagement on social media, and the support from media folks who attend our annual BSM Summit. To get industry people from twenty different companies into one room to learn from each other for two full days isn’t an easy feat but somehow we pull it off. Speaking of the Summit, our 2020 event takes place February 26-27 in New York City and I’ll have some speaker announcements to share in my next column. A reminder, tickets are on sale at a discounted rate thru the end of September. They increase on October 1st.

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Though I may be the face of the BSM brand, I couldn’t do this without an awesome team. Demetri Ravanos has been a true partner since becoming my Assistant Content Director. Brandon Contes has worked his tail off writing news and features and traveling for select assignments. Brian Noe, Matt Fishman, Dave Greene, Tyler McComas, and Andy Masur have all delivered powerful columns on their professional areas of expertise, and Andy Drake, Clarissa Magliochetti, and Jack Ferris have gotten involved within the past year to help make us even better in other areas. My fiance Stephanie has also been a huge help with the BSM Summit while having to endure the daily roller coaster ride that comes with me operating this business.

What’s crazy is that as of today, I’ve now operated BSM longer than I served as PD of The Game in SF. That four year run was my longest PD stint which is how I preferred it. Some people are built to be coaches like Bill Belichick and spend fifteen years in one location. I was wired more like Bill Parcells. Parcells would take a team that wasn’t having success, grind non-stop to turn it around, and within four years they’d be competing for a title. Then he’d move on and leave the franchise in great shape for someone else to take it even further.

As I started to write this column I flashed back to recent conversations with industry friends who mentioned how impressed they’ve been with the growth of BSM. Though I’m thankful that the perception of our brand is positive, I don’t think we’ve hit our peak yet, and I don’t take anything for granted. I understand that it starts with continuing to learn and working hard for great clients. Without them, this whole thing could crumble. Whether I’m helping a major market or smaller market station, when I take on a project I’m fully invested in it. That won’t ever change as long as I’m active in this line of work.

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If there’s a point to this story beyond it being the four year anniversary of BSM, I’d say that it’s about not being afraid to roll the dice and bet on yourself. Change is hard for some people, but you learn a lot about yourself when going thru it. You will experience doubt along the way, and the light at the end of the tunnel may not always be bright, but if you have talent, love what you do, and are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to succeed and be happy, there’s no reason you can’t have it. I’m just lucky that I took my own advice four years ago.

On behalf of the entire BSM team, thanks for your continued support. Here’s to year number five!

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Jeff Catlin, John Mamola, Gordy Rush & Maggie Clifton Join The 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

Jason Barrett

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We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on BSMSummit.com.

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit BSMSummit.com.

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Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett

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As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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California College Students Earn Chance to Win 10 Free Tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit Thanks to Steve Kamer Voiceovers

“In order to win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event.”

Jason Barrett

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With a new year comes renewed energy and optimism for the sports media business. Yours truly is looking forward to showcasing the best our business has to offer when we gather the industry in Los Angeles, CA at the 2023 BSM Summit at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California on March 21-22, 2023. Our conference is returning to the west coast for the first time since 2019. We’ve announced some super talented speakers. We’ve got additional things in the works and I plan to make additional announcements in the next few weeks.

People often ask me what the biggest challenge is putting this event together. My answer is always the same, it’s getting people to leave the comfort of their office and spend two days in a room together learning and discussing ways to grow the business. We have great sponsorship support and exceptional people on stage and are fortunate to have a lot of folks already set to attend. Our venue this year has extra space though, so I’m hoping a few more of you make time to join us. If you haven’t bought a ticket or reserved your hotel room, visit BSMSummit.com to make sure you’re all set.

If there’s one thing our industry could get better at it’s opening our minds to new ideas and information. There’s more than one path to success. Just because you’re in good shape today doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. Building brands, growing audiences, increasing revenue, and examining new opportunities is an ongoing process. There are many shifts along the way. We may not solve every business challenge during our two-days together but you’ll leave the room more connected and informed than when you entered it.

Each year I’ll get two or three emails from folks sharing that they learned more about the industry in two-days at the Summit than they have in ___ years inside of their building. That’s truly gratifying and what I strive to achieve when I put this event together. I remember when conferences like this didn’t exist for format folks and I take the risk and invest the time and resources to create it because I love the sports media industry and believe I can help it thrive. I see great value in gathering professionals to share ideas, information, and meet others who can help them grow their business, and if we do our part, I’m confident some will want to work with us too. That’s how we benefit over the long haul.

But as much as I focus on serving the professional crowd, I also think we have a responsibility to educate young people who are interested, passionate, and taking steps to be a part of our business in the future. The BSM website is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each month and it’s become a valuable resource for folks who enjoy sports radio and television. I think it’s vital to use our platform, influence and two-day event to connect generations and I’m happy to announce that we will once again welcome college students at this year’s Summit.

Most of us who’ve been in this line of work for two or three decades learned the business without podcasts, YouTube, social media, the web or conferences delivering two full days of sessions that taught you more about the business than what’s available inside of a class room. We learned by doing, and hoping we were right. Then we copied others who had success. Some of that still exists, and that’s not a bad thing. But where our business goes in the future is going to be drastically different.

I’d like to see the difference makers in our format remembered for years to come, and practices that have stood the test of time remain valued down the line. Change is inevitable in every business and I’m excited about the road that lies ahead especially some of the technological advancements that are now available or will soon become a bigger part of our industry. I think we can embrace the future while enjoying the present and celebrating the past. The best way to do that is by bringing together everyone who is and is hoping to be a part of the sports media universe.

So here’s two things we’re doing to make sure future broadcasters have an opportunity to learn with us.

First, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Steve Kamer Voiceovers. Thanks to Steve’s generosity, TEN (10) college students will be given FREE tickets to attend the 2023 BSM Summit in March. Steve is a USC graduate (Class of 1985) and he bought the ten tickets to help young people learn about the industry, save money and make valuable connections. When I first received his order, I thought he hit the wrong button. I reached out to tell him a mistake was made and I needed to refund him. That’s when he told me what he wanted to do for students who were pursuing their broadcasting dreams just as we both did years ago. A very classy gesture on his part.

As it pertains to the contest, here’s how it’s going to work.

To win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event. Included in your email should be a list of steps that you’ve taken or are pursuing to explore opportunities in the media industry. If you want to pass along a resume and audio or video clips too to showcase your work and experience, that’s fine as well. BSM will accept submissions until February 17th. The winners will be announced on Friday February 24th.

Helping me select the winners will be an exceptional panel of media executives. Each of these folks below will choose one person to attend our L.A. event. The final two will be picked by Steve Kamer and myself.

  • Scott Shapiro – Senior Vice President, FOX Sports Radio
  • Justin Craig – Senior Program Director, ESPN Radio
  • Jeff Sottolano – Executive Vice President, Programming, Audacy
  • Bruce Gilbert – Senior Vice President of Sports, Cumulus Media & Westwood One
  • Amanda Gifford – Vice President, Content Strategy & Audio, ESPN
  • Jacob Ullman – Senior Vice President, Production and Talent Development, FOX Sports
  • Greg Strassell – Senior Vice President, Programming, Hubbard Radio
  • Scott Sutherland – Executive Vice President, Bonneville International

To qualify for the BSM Summit College Contest, students must be enrolled in college in the state of California, pursuing a degree that involves course work either in radio, television, print or the digital business. Those attending local trade schools with a focus on broadcasting are also welcome to participate. You must be able to take care of your own transportation and/or lodging.

This is a contest I enjoy running. We’ve had great participation during our prior two shows in New York City but haven’t done it before on the west coast. I’m hoping it’s helpful to California students and look forward to hearing from many of them during the next month.

For students who live out of state and wish to attend or those enrolled at local universities who enter the contest but aren’t lucky enough to win one of the ten free tickets from Steve Kamer Voiceovers, we are introducing a special two-day college ticket for just $124.99. You must provide proof that you’re currently in school to take advantage of the offer. This ticket gives you access to all of our sessions inside the Founders Club. College tickets will be limited to forty (40) seats so take advantage of the opportunity before it expires.

The 2023 BSM Summit will feature award ceremonies with Emmis Communication CEO Jeff Smulyan and legendary WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, sessions with influential on-air talent such as Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, and Mina Kimes, big picture business conversations with executives from groups such as Audacy, iHeart, Bonneville, Good Karma Brands, Barstool, The Volume, Omaha Productions and more. For details on tickets and hotel rooms visit BSMsummit.com.

I look forward to seeing you in March in Los Angeles!

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