Sports Radio Congratulates Mark Chernoff On a Historic Run at WFAN
“Mark’s greatest strength has been his ability to forge and maintain strong relationships with talent. He has done this by putting his ego aside. It’s never about him but what’s best for the radio station.”
Regardless of what business you’re in, it’s inevitable that things will change. What you hope for as a professional is that when you walk out the door for the final time, you can look back and feel proud of the work you’ve done, the friendships and relationships you’ve established, and the way you helped people improve and reach heights they never dreamed possible. If you can leave a permanent mark on a city, let alone an entire format and industry, that’s even sweeter.
And that’s exactly what Mark Chernoff has done.
I never had the privilege of sharing office space or a studio with Mark, but I’ve been fortunate over the years to develop a professional relationship with him. He’s always been a champion for his people, his radio station, and the industry we’re all proud to be a part of. I’ve written before how WFAN inspired me to get into this business. The way the radio station sounded, felt, and captured the spirit, passion and imagination of New York sports radio fans is the reason why I decided to enter the business and am now able to write this column. The powerful combination of Mike & the Mad Dog and the numerous larger than life personalities that have graced WFAN’s airwaves over the years may have received most of the credit. All of them deserving of their recognition. But equally as important to the brand’s ratings and revenue success has been the PD who many in the format recognize as the best to do it, Mark Chernoff.
When I heard the news that Mark would be leaving WFAN I knew this column would have to be written. The issue, I knew it’d be incredibly long. So, if you’re not a fan of reading long stories, let this serve as your cue to exit before you get sucked in and lose 20 minutes of your day.
A man with Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments and importance to the sports format deserves to be recognized properly by the site that specializes in covering the sports radio world. Columns like this aren’t usually available in other online locations, and I take pride in our ability to use our platform to celebrate people and preserve the history that so many have helped to create in our industry. It’s the same reason why I sought Mark’s blessing two years ago to introduce the Mark Chernoff Award at our annual BSM Summit.
Countless hosts, programmers, producers, executives, clients and listeners have benefitted from Mark’s wisdom as WFAN’s program director. I could go on and on about his accomplishments, his impact on the industry, and the brand he’s turning over to Spike Eskin, but I’d rather turn this piece over to those who know Mark best. They’ve had a front row seat to watch him operate and turn WFAN into one of the most important brands in all of media. So without further delay, here’s the industry’s heartfelt thank you and congratulations to the greatest program director in sports radio history – Mark Chernoff.
Chris Oliviero, Audacy New York Market Manager: Mark offered me one of my first paying radio jobs back in 1998, and since that moment our relationship has evolved into one of the most rewarding, important and genuine friendships of my entire life. He might not have been the first sports radio PD, but Babe Ruth wasn’t the first baseball player either. First does not always mean best.
The Chernoff family’s love of baseball is well documented, so when you look at the back of Mark’s baseball card, you will see a dominant performance. An almost 30 year run at the same station in market #1 delivering consistent ratings and revenue success. A gifted talent whisperer to a “Who’s Who’s” of radio personalities from Stern to Imus to Francesa & Russo to Boomer & Carton. Mark’s fingerprints are everywhere on our industry from the AM to FM sports revolution, to iconic local sports brands on the dial in the biggest cities in America beyond just New York, and to being a founding father of a thriving national sports radio network. What hasn’t he done?
But what he is most proud of I am sure and probably his biggest legacy will be his coaching tree. His mentorship to an All-Star roster of sports radio PDs nationwide is his gift to us all. When Mark cares he truly cares and when he says he will help make you better, he actually means it. Our business is better because of Mark, and I know I am too.
Mike Francesa, legendary WFAN talk show host, one half of Mike & the Mad Dog, and solo host of ‘Mike’s On: Francesa on The Fan’: There are a select number of very talented people who established WFAN into one of the great success stories in the history of broadcasting, and helped it endure for over a generation alone at the top. Mark is one of them.
Chris Russo, SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Afternoon Host and former co-host of WFAN’s Mike & The Mad Dog: I was in St. Martin in the Caribbean in March of 1993 when Mark introduced himself as the new program director of WFAN. He knew what a good radio station was supposed to “sound” like, never looked for the spotlight, and understood how to play the middle man between the GM/Owner & talent. Name me a PD anywhere who can successfully deal with the egos of Howard Stern, Don Imus, & Mike & the Mad Dog?
Also, Mark always backed you up and never sold you down the river. He always protected the rights of the radio station, even to a “fault”. For instance, he’d never let another radio show broadcast in the booth from Shea Stadium. I was always impressed that he’d be in there when the morning show started at 6am, and he did a hell of a job putting together a successful show after the demise of Imus….not easy.
On a personal note, he did everything in his power to keep me at WFAN, and always kept in touch even after I departed (like remembering my birthday).
Craig Carton, WFAN Afternoon Show Co-Host of ‘Carton & Roberts’: There are very few entities and even fewer people who are undeniably synonymous with sports talk radio in this country. Mark Chernoff is one of those people. For more than 30 years he was in charge of the singular radio station responsible for the first new radio format in decades. You wouldn’t know it today with the hundreds of successful sports talk stations in every market but sports talk as a 24 hour a day format was scoffed at and not taken seriously. Under Mark’s leadership, WFAN changed that while changing radio forever. He may not have invented the format but he no doubt oversaw it and massaged it and now leaves it as arguably the most successful and powerful format on the radio today. Boomer and Carton never would have happened let alone become as successful as it became without Mark. I never would have been offered the job in the first place if Mark was not the man in charge. His prior experience with Howard Stern, Don Imus and Opie and Anthony gave him a unique view of how important an entertaining morning show was for the overall success of a station and how different that show could and should be from the rest of the sports talk programming.
Take a look around the country and tell me how many straight sports, x’s and o’s morning shows are dominating the ratings in any market. The answer is none. Chernoff is ultimately responsible for that. Mark is also a fighter for what he believes in and someone who loves radio. I have worked for PD’s who didn’t love radio and who didn’t get the art form that compelling radio is. Mark always did. He also appreciated talent. I remember dozens of arguments w had about content and the sound of on air promotion’s and ID’s, neither of us wavering but always respecting that the argument was about making things better and not about who was right. He won some, I won some, and the show and radio station benefitted from the back and forth.
I had never met a PD prior to meeting Mark who was in the building before the morning show went on the air and was still there when the afternoon drive show signed off. He lived and loved radio and would listen on his cheap Walkman while jogging on the streets of New Jersey everyday at 4:00 in the morning. Mark heard everything, missed nothing and truly cared about the voices that came through his headphones. He was not a micro-manager the way so many people are but he also never failed to give you his opinion on your performance. In doing so he kept you on your toes and made you a better broadcaster. On a personal note, I love Mark. I’m blessed to have had him as my Program Director and as my friend, and blessed that he was at WFAN when I needed someone to believe in me as a person enough to give me a second chance at returning to the airwaves last year. I will always be indebted to him for that and for the first chance all the way back in 2007 to replace Imus with me and Boomer, an unpopular move at the time, which was ridiculed and challenged as nuts, but which turned out to be one of the most successful radio decisions he ever made. Mark leaves behind a legacy of success that is unmatched by any other talk radio program director in the country. He is deserving of all of the accolades that I am sure are pouring in and he will certainly be missed.
Evan Roberts, WFAN Afternoon Show Co-Host of ‘Carton & Roberts’: If you are a sports fan in the New York City area there is no doubt you listened to WFAN as a kid and young adult. The radio station defined everything that was the New York sports fan and couldn’t be more perfectly put together. I know that it influenced me as a young sports fan as well as countless others. Personally, I don’t think I ever get to where I am now on WFAN without one man giving a 9 year old a shot in 1993 when I wrote a letter applying for a job. That opportunity in 1993 and and again in 2004 when I started filling in on the overnight shift came from one of the great program directors in radio history; Mark Chernoff. I will always cherish the conversations Joe Benigno, Mark and I would have in the back office. Congrats to Mark on an incredible run and changing the landscape of sports talk radio in America.
Gregg Giannotti, WFAN Morning Show Co-Host of ‘Boomer & Gio’: “I think you need to be a talk show host”.
Without those words from Mark Chernoff I wouldn’t have the career I have now. Mark, Eric Spitz, Joe Benigno, Evan Roberts and I would get together before every midday show and talk sports and laugh. It was in those conversations that Mark saw something in me, which led to hosting my first show. I will be forever grateful.
I really don’t know how he did it, dealing with all of us maniacs. Managing those type of personalities is a skill very few possess. I didn’t fully appreciate Mark until I left my producer job at WFAN for a talk show host job in Pittsburgh. I thought every PD got to work at 5am and left at 6pm.
Every day of my radio career I knew Mark Chernoff was working and doing all he could to make our radio station great. It will be very odd the first day he isn’t there. I may have to call him at 5am so we can talk some baseball before the show. He’s a great husband, father, grandfather and radio titan. All the best Mark, I’m sorry for all those impressions I’ve done of you (Not Really).
Eric Spitz, SiriusXM VP of Sports Programming: Although all of these accolades are extremely well deserved, Mark won’t like any of this as he dreads being the center of attention. Too bad, Mark.
I think Mark’s greatest strength has been his ability to forge and maintain strong relationships with talent. Whether it’s been established stars like Howard, Imus, Scott Muni, Mike Francesa and Chris Russo or shows that he created like Boomer and Carton, and more recently, Boomer and Gio and Carton and Roberts, Mark has been able to get along with and get the most out of high profile talent. He has done this by putting his ego aside. It’s never about him but what’s best for the radio station.
Among many other attributes, Mark is a tireless worker who has the same passion and energy for the job today as he has had any point in his career. I will guarantee you that he will be writing station promos and Yankee liners on June 30th and will hit send right before returning the corporate laptop.
What has always impressed me the most about Mark, however, has nothing to do with radio. It’s been his commitment to family. Despite an incredibly demanding job, he never missed a child or grandchild’s game, recital or concert. The event could take place in New Jersey, DC, Cleveland or Chicago and Mark would be there. And he insisted that others, like me, follow the same path. For that, I am extremely grateful.
Hopefully, this is only a goodbye to WFAN and not a so long to the industry. Mark still has so much to contribute to both the sports and music formats. He’s a dual threat. A sports guy who never misses a post.
Spike Eskin, Mark Chernoff’s successor as WFAN Program Director: Mark has been the most thoughtful, encouraging influence that I’ve had on me as a Program Director since I started at 94WIP. He’s not just a person you can bounce things off of (he does that too), but always goes above and beyond when you need another voice.
His influence on WFAN and sports radio in general cannot be understated, and is obvious, but his influence on other programmers is the thing that I will always remember and appreciate. He’s really the greatest.
Jim Rome, CBS Sports Radio Host of ‘The Jim Rome Show’: I’ve appreciated Mark’s presence and participation in all we’re doing. He’s been solid from the word, “go”, and has made a whole lot possible for us. For all he’s accomplishing on a day-to-day basis, he’s grinding just as hard as the rest of us and he’s been doing that for 30 years or more. To perform and achieve at his level, you have to be the real deal, and Mark is. Heck of a run! He’s one to watch for what’s next.
Dan Mason, Former CEO of CBS Radio: In good times and trying times, Mark was always prepared. He was the backbone of WFAN whose respect for the product and talent was always stellar. I loved working with him and congratulate him on a terrific run at WFAN.
Steve Cohen, SiriusXM Senior Vice President of Programming, former WFAN host, reporter and executive producer: One of Mark’s greatest attributes as a manager of people was he didn’t try to change you. He gave you the feedback and room necessary to grow. That was easier said than done with the wild bunch he inherited. Mark allowed a certain level of independence and if we delivered, then he let us roll with it. We never worked in fear under his watch and became very confident in our ability to deliver quality content. That’s what great managers do. It’s what Mark Chernoff excelled at.
Mitch Rosen, 670 The Score/1250 The Fan, Program Director: What defines the person by the name of Mark Chernoff?
Genuine – Teacher – Coach – Real – Friendly – Helpful – Original – Pioneer – Innovator – Menche, and a terrific father, grandfather, husband, and most importantly, a great friend to so many.
When people think of sports radio they should think of Mark Chernoff.
Chris Kinard, 106.7 The Fan/Team 980, Program Director: Mark Chernoff’s career speaks for itself. The ratings, the successful shows he’s launched, the tenure, the consistency, and those 4 call letters: WFAN. What doesn’t speak for itself and requires others to speak out is what Mark has done behind the scenes for countless hosts, PD’s, producers, and other professionals in our business. I’m honored to be able to share some of what Mark has done for me, and meant to me.
I was a first-time PD, about 30 years old, 2+ years into the job, and working without a contract when CBS decided to flip a bunch of its talk and music stations to sports in 2009. We had a great launch, and beat our direct competitor the first month out of the gate. Then the race got tight in the Fall, and then football season was over and things continued to be competitive. It was decided that Mark should come down to evaluate what we were up to, and help where needed. Hearing the corporate format captain is coming to town to “help” inspires DOOM in the mind of every PD. I had no relationship with Mark at that point, and honestly I was very nervous about what his visit meant for me. My apprehension quickly dissipated as Mark and I talked. He is a great listener. He knew the signal challenges of the station (he’d programmed WJFK for about a month before Mel Karmazin said “I need you in New York!), understood the talent dynamics, and calmly focused the conversation on action items that we would tackle over the next few days. Mark was very clear on one thing in particular… our jingles sucked! And he was right. I will never forget standing next to Mark in our crappy old studio in Fairfax, VA as he sang over the phone to jingle singers “No, it’s more like ‘one-oh-six-seven The FAN!” over and over and over and over again. Until they were perfect, because that’s how you have the kind of career Mark Chernoff has had. You pay attention to the details and you work at them until they’re perfect.
I’ve had the privilege of working with and knowing Mark since then, and always know I will get great advice about radio or anything else when I need it. And you know someone is the real deal when you hear the same experience from everyone else around the format. Mark truly is the real deal, as a programmer, leader, and human being. Thank you, Mark.
Al Dukes, WFAN Morning Show Producer of ‘Boomer & Gio’: I first heard the name Mark Chernoff while listening to The Howard Stern Show during the 1990’s (I think it was the 1990s). I first met him while working at the corporate offices of CBS Radio when the company was looking for replacements for Howard Stern. Mark and I had the ‘pleasure’ of working with David Lee Roth. True story, I once had to get in between DLR and Mark because I actually thought they were going to come to blows in the hallways of K-Rock. The man is certainly passionate about radio (Mark that is, not David).
For the last 14 years, I’ve worked with Mark at WFAN while producing the morning show. I’ve always appreciated his management style of letting shows do their own thing as long as the ratings are good. When the ratings start to slip, he’s always there with suggestions on how to tweak things to get back on track. And he was always ready to battle sales when they came up with a terrible sponsorship idea. It will be really weird not having him around. Thank you Mark.
John Jastremski, ‘New York, New York’ Host, The Ringer and Spotify, former WFAN host: For almost the last decade I worked for Mark Chernoff, but it’s very rare that you get a sense to hear and know about your boss before you ever start at your employer. Mark’s success in programming radio was obvious with the product that was on the air at WFAN for years with Imus and Mike and the Mad Dog. I was curious to get a sense of what made the man tick when I started at the radio station in 2011. Even as a bright eyed 23 year old, Mark believed in my talent and allowed me to be me. Sure, there were critiques and plenty of conversations, but one of his great strengths is that he allowed talent to be themselves and perform. With Mark at the helm, I never had to worry about the program director micromanaging topics, telling me what to discuss. He trusted me to do the very best sports radio show that I could do. For that, I will forever be grateful.
In the years doing the overnight shift, there was nothing quite like the Cherny pop in as he would stroll in at 515 in the morning. You never quite knew what that meant. Sure, it would be the occasional, “you hit the update a minute and a half late!”, but in many cases it would be conversations of sports, classic rock and me wondering how a human could go for a run at 315 in the morning. That’s Mark Chernoff for you. Mark has had a legendary career in radio and personally I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity he gave me.
Marc Malusis, WFAN Midday Show Co-Host of ‘Maggie & Moose’: I started out as an intern at WFAN in 1998. That led to a part-time position in 2000 as a behind the scenes producer/board-op. This means I have worked for Mark Chernoff in some capacity for 20+ years, experiencing his leadership in those early roles that I held and later as an update anchor and host. I owe a lot to Mark. He gave me my first opportunities as an anchor and host. I think what separates him as a Program Director(PD) and has made him successful at WFAN and other stations is that he has a clear understanding of what the station should be based on what the audience is looking for from the station. He knew what he wanted from his hosts, and what worked and didn’t work at the station. Mark has a keen sense of the heartbeat of WFAN which at its core, is passionate sports talk mixed in with other topics and caller interaction. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him giving me those on-air opportunities.
Being a New Yorker, I never wanted to leave this city. I’ve always wanted a chance to be a full time host on the station that I grew up listening to. I was afforded that shot by Mark in 2020 and I will forever be grateful to him. He has been open and honest with me over the course of my career and even though at times, I might not like what he’s had to say, I appreciated his honesty. New York Radio, not just WFAN, will forever feel the indelible mark that he has made on this medium. He is an excellent Program Director, and loyal to his team and the stations he has managed. I just personally want to say ‘Thank You’ and I will miss him.
Maggie Gray, WFAN Midday Show Co-Host of ‘Maggie & Moose’: Mark Chernoff helped open the door to sports talk radio for me. Working at WFAN has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I will always appreciate Mark for giving me a chance to be a host.
Bruce Gilbert, Cumulus/Westwood One, Senior VP of Sports: Jeff Smulyan had the stones to create America’s first all sports radio station in WFAN. Mark Chernoff made WFAN as much a part of New York City as the Empire State Building. Mark’s intelligence, competitiveness, foresight, understanding, and patience combined with his loyalty and consistency made WFAN a huge part of the overall DNA of New York City sports.
Mark managed the many spirited, passionate, and disparate voices employed as hosts on “The Fan” while constantly protecting the mission of being a voice for “The Fan”. Anyone that has studied the history of FAN under Mark can take away numerous worthwhile tips from his leadership, inventiveness, and creativity. Mostly, though, we can take away the fact that when your radio station truly and accurately reflects the mood and disposition of your constituents, the results are beyond dynamic.
Mark IS the Godfather of sports talk radio in America. He deserves every award and honor the media industry has bestowed upon him up until now and forever more. It’s also vitally important to know that beyond his professional achievements, Mark is a genuinely caring and wonderful human that loves his family and talks constantly and lovingly about his kids and grandkids. A man that still “has a catch” with his son Mike at least once a month, even if it means flying to Cleveland, having a catch in the airport parking lot, and flying back to New York in one afternoon.
If you are among those lucky enough to have worked with, for, or alongside Mark Chernoff; you know you’re better off because of it.
Mike Thomas, Good Karma Brands Chicago (ESPN 1000), Market Manager: Mark and I have similar radio paths. Don’t take that the wrong way. Mark is the King! I’m just saying that we both were in rock radio and made the switch to sports radio and have been successful in both formats. When we launched The Sports Hub in 2009 at CBS Radio Boston, Mark was an invaluable resource to me. Not only did he support me programming sports radio for the first time, but he shared many ideas with me about working with sports radio hosts, instead of what I was used to, which was music radio “DJ’s”. He also always reinforced the fact that programming an FM sports station is not much different than a rock station…you’re talking to the same audience, he would tell me. Throughout my time in Boston, Mark was always available if I needed to bounce something off him, and always offered great advice. The thing you could always count on in every conversation, he would ask about my family. He’s an amazing programmer and more importantly one of the nicest, kindest, caring people you’ll ever meet. I wouldn’t be where I am without Mark Chernoff!
Brandon Tierney, CBS Sports Radio, Afternoon Show Co-Host of ‘Tiki & Tierney’: Cherny is truly a broadcasting legend, an undeniable industry titan. Yet, despite all of his success, he has remained incredibly humble and approachable. Throughout his distinguished career, he’s left an indelible mark on this business, one that will be incredibly hard to replicate. His instincts and feel for the medium are probably his greatest professional strengths, but his willingness to connect personally with talent, to humanize the business so to speak, was always greatly appreciated. Quite frankly, I wish I had an opportunity to work more closely with Mark earlier in my career. A tremendous person who’s day-to-day contributions and consistency will be missed greatly. Legend. Congrats, Mark!
Damon Amendolara, CBS Sports Radio, Morning Host of ‘The DA Show’: I remember sitting wide-eyed in an office for an interview with Mark Chernoff in 2005. This was THE Mark Chernoff who guided Howard Stern, Don Imus, and Mike and the Mad Dog over the course of his career. In radio terms, it was like sitting with Bill Walsh or Pat Riley. I was 26 years old, hoping to earn some fill-in work on WFAN by not stammering my way through questions about show philosophy and the art of the monologue. Anyone who has worked for him knows, earning trust from Chernoff isn’t easy, but once you have it you feel extremely confident. It’s like Coach K giving you the green light to shoot.
That conversation led to a few weekend shifts while I was on vacation from my full-time hosting job in Kansas City. Those shows led to Mark hiring me for CBS Radio’s launch in Boston three years later. That ultimately led to my spot at CBS Sports Radio in New York. It’s just one example of his strong loyalty to those who have worked hard for him. But he’s also quick to dole out sharp criticism when he feels it’s needed. Every step along the way Mark was consistent with me. He was honest if I needed direction or critique. He was trusting and hands off when I was in a groove. He allowed me to develop my style, while also having strong opinions on what was working and what wasn’t. He was an impeccable resource.
If you’ve ever been in his office, you’ve heard him listening to multiple stations at the same time, while responding to emails and fielding phone calls. His fingerprints are on scores of stations, and hundreds of careers. He’s a Hall of Famer for a reason. Mark has plenty of energy and ability left for a new challenge. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s coaching radio talent and giving them the green light to shoot again.
Shaun Morash, CBS Sports Radio/WFAN, Host/Producer: Mark has meant the world to me and other young broadcasters that have had the pleasure of interning and working at WFAN and CBS Sports Radio. His willingness to allow me to be me has allowed me to live out my lifelong dream. I am excited for the next chapter at CBS Sports Radio and WFAN but will undoubtedly miss the guidance and underrated laughs Mark has given us all. I wish him nothing but the best as he gets to spend more time being the wonderful grandfather that he is.
Terry Foxx, WFNZ, Program Director: When I think of Mark Chernoff, a few words come to mind. Passionate, smart, visionary, coach, and teacher. Mark is the “bench mark”, the one we strive to be in the sports programming world. In sports language, he’s won more Super Bowls than anyone else, and we as programmers have stolen his playbook for our own success. Most importantly, he has been the most successful sports programmer of our time.
Personally Mark has been my mentor, coach, and a huge part of my success in the business. He’s taught me to believe in myself and as one of the only African-American sports programmers in the business, he’s instilled in me to go out and find other great programmers and talent of diverse backgrounds and help them achieve as I have. Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be where I am today, without Mark Chernoff. He will be missed greatly.
Andy Roth, 92.3 The Fan, Program Director: All of us in the radio business know that there are many who have helped us along the way. I know I would not be where I am today, or have the radio knowledge I have today, without Mark. He never said no to scheduling time or spending time in person just to talk. Mark always wanted to understand you, the problems you may be having and what he could to to help, even while doing everything else in his life.
As far as WFAN goes, it’s not just a radio station to me. It’s a family. Mark made sure that the staff led by Eric Spitz and Steve Cohen would help manage, teach and grow the WFAN culture. That also included intern managing skills of Eddie Scozzare and board teaching from people like Joan Chin and Dov Kramer. This group-managing style allowed me to be more confident in what I do and I’ve brought that with me to every job since 2000. I hope I can live up to the standards Mark Chernoff and the WFAN family created.
Adam Schein, SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Host, former WFAN Host: It’s still crazy to think that Mark Chernoff is retiring! His genius and leadership has been synonymous with WFAN forever. It’s not hyperbole to call him the most important sports radio programmer in the history of sports radio.
On a personal note, I loved working for him. He listens to everything firsthand. I love that. I remember when I did my first ever overnight show on WFAN on March 11, 2001. Mark called me immediately after the show in the control room to tell me how much he enjoyed it and that he’d be in touch for more shows. I’ll never forget that call and the words of wisdom and confidence. I’ll also never forget the calls to offer me my childhood dream job of hosting afternoon drive. It meant the world.
Mark’s radio background was in music, and he used to stress to me all the time to “play the hits” while hosting. Baseball talk drove a show on WFAN, especially when I hosted for him from 2001-2006. He wanted you to come out of breaks with what people wanted to hear, and understand the cadence and flow of a show, how to use calls and pound the phones, etc.. He also had an innate ability of knowing when to communicate with his hosts and when it was best to let them roll. WFAN is the greatest local sports radio station in the country today, and that’s because of Mark. What an incredible run!
Amy Lawrence, CBS Sports Radio Overnight Host: As Mark Chernoff moves onto the next phase of his storied career, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the last nine plus years with him at CBS Sports Radio Network. I can say unequivocally he is the best boss I’ve ever had. He not only offered me an incredible opportunity to join a brand new radio venture in 2013, but he believed in me enough to invest in me as a host and personality.
Mark is an unwavering ally; as a female in sports radio, I don’t take that lightly. He never asked me to be anyone other than AMY. He never wanted me to be “one of the guys” or more like my male counterparts. His confidence in me has been invaluable. He taught me to trust my instincts and take risks, and he gave me the freedom to be creative and unique. I am proud to call him a friend and thankful for the professional and personal lessons I’ve learned from him.
Thank you, Mark! Just as you’ve supported me, I will support you as you move forward.
Zach Gelb, CBS Sports Radio Host: I’m not usually a Mount Rushmore guy, but it’s so obvious to say that Mark Chernoff is on WFAN’s Mount Rushmore. He is an absolute legend and has been the backbone of WFAN for decades. He is a tremendous leader, program director and most importantly, a friend. I’ve known Mark literally since I was born, and he’s been critiquing my radio tapes since I was in high school. Even with his busy schedule, he’s always been willing to help a young talk show host. I’m forever grateful that he hired me to host a daily national sports radio show at CBS Sports Radio. I will always cherish our time working together and wish him nothing but the best moving forward. Hopefully he can sleep in late now and not rush to wake up at 3:45 AM to immediately run, deal with headaches from talent and listen to the radio! Congrats Mark and thank you!
Jody McDonald, longtime WFAN host: The best thing about working for Mark Chernoff, ego was never a problem, yours or his! I was schooled by my dad at an early age, “there should never be a reason to be an A.K. (That’s A** Kisser). Stand on your own hard work and talent“. A tenant I’ve worked by my whole life. That worked great for me working under Mark. Even though he has been tasked with handling some BIG stars with BIG egos, he never needed to hear how great he was at his job. No ego stroking necessary, even though it was probably deserved. He judged everyone by how good they were behind the mic and not much else. As fair and as straight a shooter as I’ve ever had the pleasure working for!
Gavin Spittle, 105.3 The Fan, Program Director: In 1995, I received a typed email from Mark letting me know what I needed to work on. I was a kid out of college and I still have that letter. He didn’t need to do that. I now try my best to carry that torch and help others. Mark has always been a tremendous resource and friend. He’s always there for you. What an amazing career and more importantly Mark, you are an amazing person.
Jimmy Powers, 97.1 The Ticket, Program Director: Mark Chernoff has been a pioneer in the sports talk format and a true inspiration to so many Program Directors across the country over the years. He’s had an amazing career in the industry – building one of the most iconic brands in the country, WFAN, while doing so in the #1 market in the country! Congratulations Mark, well deserved! Cheers to you!
Adam Klug, 97.3 The Fan, Program Director: In a world where almost nothing can be unanimously agreed upon, I believe anyone you ask within the sports talk radio industry would agree that Mark Chernoff played a major role in shaping the landscape of our format that exists today. From running the first ever and most influential sports talk radio station in the country’s biggest market, to helping launch CBS Sports Radio, as well as positively affecting the careers of so many, Mark Chernoff is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in sports talk radio history.
Mark was always generous with his time and knowledge when we worked together, and recommended me for the position that I’m in today with 97.3 The Fan in San Diego. He has been an important mentor to me as I’ve grown into a role that I had never held before. Mark is never too busy to answer my phone calls or respond to emails and listen to what I’m going through and offer advice based on his own experiences. I wish him nothing but the best as he begins the next chapter of his career.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Reflecting on the 2023 BSM Summit
“Barrett Media president Jason Barrett reflects on last week’s BSM Summit in Los Angeles.”
One of the best parts about the world of sports is that every season ends with one team being crowned champion. It doesn’t exactly work that way managing a media company, even though we invest the same amount of time leading up to the BSM Summit, our equivalent of the Super Bowl or WrestleMania.
Having had a few days to recover and reflect after last week’s Summit in Los Angeles, I know that what we did last week was special. I’m a perfectionist and have a hard time patting myself on the back because I know there’s plenty we can do better, but last week, we hit a homerun. The venues at USC were perfect, the signage was spectacular, the tech ran well, the speakers were awesome, the crowd was great, and the sponsorship support was outstanding. It’s the first time I’ve walked away from an event and felt we accomplished what we set out to do. If time allows, check out Garrett Searight’s piece on some of the key takeaways from the show.
In 2018, Mitch Rosen invited me to utilize his space at Audacy Chicago to take a shot at trying to execute an event for PDs. Now here we are five years later with a few hundred people joining us from all across the industry. It’s pretty incredible. We’re only successful because a lot of people have come together to make sure we are. Without the speakers, sponsors, and staff around me stepping up to get things done, I’d just be a guy with an idea incapable of executing it.
In the next week or so we’ll be sharing video clips from the show on the BSM social media pages. I’m also planning to make full sessions available via on-demand for free for those who attended the show in California. If you didn’t come to the event and want to watch it online, it will be available for a small fee. Stay tuned for further details.
What matters most to me with the Summit is that folks in the room get something out of it. I thought many of our speakers delivered a ton of value this year, and there were a few WOW moments along the way as well. Colin and Rome were outstanding as expected, and Jay Glazer and Al Michaels’ speeches had everyone hanging on their next words. I thought the Shawn Michaels and Jack Rose led sessions were outside the box and well received, and I was beyond impressed by Joy Taylor, Mina Kimes, and Amanda Brown. We used 14 hours in that room to explore issues dealing with management, research, technology, programming, talent and social media, so it gave everyone a little bit of everything, which was the goal.
We did have a little bit of friction on stage during the Aircheck on Campus session, which wasn’t a bad thing. Personalities and programmers have passionate conversations inside the office every day. Rob, Mark and Scott just happened to have one on stage. All three are smart, talented, and willing to be candid. I thought that was healthy for the room.
I know networking is important at these type of events and there was plenty of opportunity for folks to do that. I look at it like this, if you can get face time with others, meet your heroes or folks you admire and pick up some ideas and insight in the process to elevate your business, that should justify it being worthy of a few days out of the office.
As crazy as it may sound, I step away from each of these events asking my team ‘is that the last one?’ I know I can create and execute a great conference, and I enjoy doing it, but I also don’t want to invest eight months of time building a show that becomes predictable and stale. It’s why I change speakers and topics frequently. This year’s lineup was phenomenal, and I’m so pleased with who we featured on stage and had in the room, but the competitor in me will also look back and say ‘Bill Simmons, Ice Cube and Lincoln Riley Should’ve Been On Stage Too!‘
If we do host an event in 2024, it will take place in either Boston, Chicago, Dallas or New York. You can cast your vote on BSMSummit.com.
I want to thank everyone who stopped me last week to share how much they enjoy this event. That support means a lot. I think Good Karma Brands broke a record with 20+ employees in attendance, and iHeart was also well represented, which was great to see. I was also excited to have 15-20 college students in the room. The more we can educate the next generation, the better it is for all of us. I also was thrilled to learn a few of our partners and attendees made time to arrange further business conversations. If two groups can help each other, that’s what it’s all about.
But as much as I love my radio brothers and sisters, I’ve noticed more folks showing up the past two years from areas outside of sports radio. That’s both exhilarating and concerning. This year we had folks in the room from WWE, Amazon, The Volume, Omaha Productions, Dirty Mo Media, Barstool Sports, Spotify, Blue Wire, Locked On, BetRivers, Bleav, etc.. I hope that trend continues because sports media is a lot larger of a business than sports radio. As I told the room, we’re not in the radio business, television business, audio or video business, we are in the content business. That covers a lot more ground for brands than focusing on one specific platform.
I’ve been on cloud nine for a few days because overall, this went as well as I could ask for. If there’s one thing I’d like to make better it’s that I hear from a lot of folks throughout the year who say they want to learn, meet new people and give themselves a competitive edge yet when an event exists that can help them do that, they’re not in the room. Some of my radio friends didn’t come because they weren’t asked to speak. Others said they couldn’t make it because their company wouldn’t cover the costs. A few said they thought the Summit was only for programming people not managers or sellers.
First, growing and selling an audience should matter to everyone not just programmers and hosts. GM’s and Sales Managers can gain a lot at this show. So can advertisers and agencies. I’m hoping to change that in the future. Second, I can’t tell you whether or not to prioritize attending but groups outside of radio are passionate about sports audio and video, and they’re finding ways to be in the room. At some point, you have to decide if investing in knowledge, ideas and relationships matters to you and your business. Your employer isn’t going to cover everything you want to do so especially when the economy isn’t strong. Sometimes you have to invest time and resources in yourself.
Many of you reading this website know my track record in the radio industry. I built my career in radio. My passion for the business remains strong. I consult brands all across the country, and root for the industry’s success. It’s why I sink my heart and soul into this event and share all that I do over two days because I want to help people grow their businesses.
But it is strange that over the course of four live events I’ve still not had one current radio CEO sit down for an in-depth sports media business conversation. It’d be one thing if they were pitched and I turned them down but that’s not the case. I’ve had great conversations and support outside of radio from Jimmy Pitaro, Eric Shanks, Erika Ayers, and John Skipper. Jeff Smulyan has been a huge supporter taking part in our awards ceremony, and we’ve had high ranking TV executives in the room watching the show. Maybe things will change in 2024 but whether they do or don’t, I’m going to focus on helping brands and individuals who gain value from this two day event, and continue challenging this industry to think and act differently.
Now that the 2023 BSM Summit is over, my focus shifts to supporting my clients and gearing up for a massive challenge, hosting our first BNM Summit for news media professionals. The conference will take place in Nashville, TV on September 13-14 at Vanderbilt University. I’ll be announcing the first group of speakers in April after the NAB. Tickets will go on sale at that time too.
I know it won’t be easy but I tend to do my best work when I’m out of my comfort zone. This is a space I have passion for and feel I can add something to so there’s only one thing left to do, get to work, and put together the news media equivalent of what we just created for sports media professionals last week in Los Angeles. That may be a tall order but if anyone is ready to meet the challenge head on, yours truly is certainly up to the task.
Thanks again for a spectacular time in Los Angeles. Onward and upward we go!
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
2023 BSM Summit – March 22, 2023 (Day 2)
We’re keeping you updated on news, key information, and interesting perspectives shared on stage by our speakers.
Day 2 of the 2023 BSM Summit is underway in Los Angeles at the Founders Club at USC. We’re keeping you updated on news, key information, and interesting perspectives shared on stage by our speakers. BSM editor Garrett Searight will be updating this column throughout the day as each session wraps up, so be sure to check back multiple times to avoid missing anything important.
Barrett welcomed attendees to the second day of the BSM Summit, and shared a clip of WWE wrestler Sami Zayn at a recent press conference saying that it is more difficult than ever to create “memorable” content due to so many different options. He asked attendees to remember the question “How do I take something good and turn that into something memorable?’
9:10-9:45 = The Programmer’s Panel presented by
- Jimmy Powers, 97.1 The Ticket
- John Mamola, WDAE, Tampa
- Jeff Rickard, WFNZ, Charlotte
- Raj Sharan, Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan
The discussion began with a focus on content management.
Jimmy Powers shared he meets with afternoon host Mike Valenti every day. “We give him a long leash, because I know he’s going to deliver. A guy like that is so good, we have to let him create”.
Raj Sharan said data has helped deliver buy-in from his talent. He added that some of the former athletes on his station — like Mark Schlereth and Derek Wolfe — have been coached their entire lives, so the ability to show data and explain why they’re doing what they’re doing has been easy.
John Mamola simply said he trusts his talent. “There’s a lot more focus on how do we get them to be better digitally,” Mamola shared. “Finding the content that they do that we can market better where people can find us more often.”
Jeff Rickard believes everyone is different. “We meet a couple times a week, mostly informally, but once a week formally, and I give them one thing. I ask questions to get them to start thinking about what they wanna do. Everybody’s got their own little thing. I try to meet them where they’re at.”
The panel was then asked how the measure success, and what their definition of success is.
Mamola reminisced about the first BSM Summit, where he asked Barrett what the definition of success would be in five years. He said he uses Nielsen as one data point, rather than the data point.
Sharan admitted that while there are several data points available, Nielsen is still the main measurement point they’re chasing. He believed if you’re doing well in Nielsen, social media and digital performance is likely to correlate.
Powers agreed that Nielsen is the most important measurement. Rickard concurred. “That’s the game we’re playing. That’s why we manipulate the clocks for the PPM. It’s the game that we play,” Rickard said.
Branding has also been an important step for the programmers on the panel. Sharan recently went through a brand refresh from 104.3 The Fan to Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan, bringing the station inline with branding used by other Bonneville sports stations.
He compared the branding to that of a company like Meta, which encompasses social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Ultimately, he believed the updated brand will help propel the station into a bigger digital future.
“It was a little challenging to explain to everyone,” Sharan shared. “How are you going to really be in the content business if your name has a radio frequency in it? That sort of stuff went into it.”
The conversation shifted to the length of shows, and what’s the perfect length.
Powers said their station is set up to have four-hour shows, and mentioned that at times his hosts will mention they are burnt out due to the length of their shows.
Rickard mentioned that the WFNZ morning show is four hours, but mentioned that as a talent he didn’t like four hour shows. “I just find that when I’ve done shorter shows, I’ve seen meters increase. I’ve seen energy increase,” Rickard shared.
At Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan, Sharan said if his hosts were robots, four hour shows would be fine, but said that younger audiences attention span’s are shorter, and joked that their talent is getting shorter and shorted.
Mamola said if budgets weren’t an issue, a similar setup how cable news channels format their prime time lineups with one hour hosts would be ideal. “There’s not necessarily a number you can put on it. It’s how the talent makes it feel. It’s more how the talent approaches it and how the execute it on the air.”
Length of spot blocks varies from station to station. Barrett shared there are stations he’s listened to that have had as little as 32 minutes of content in an hour due to spot load.
Powers said they have different clocks for different shows. “Clients love the show, and revenue is very important, so we don’t move it that much,” he said. “If you get too long, you can burn an entire quarter hour.”
Mamola said WDAE has different clocks every hour. “I want to keep our listeners guessing,” he shared, adding that he tried to manipulate the PPM quarter hour numbers.
Sharan admitted his station has 20 minutes of commercials an hour in morning and afternoon drive, but that number drops down to 12 minutes during middays.
“You gotta be careful, because if you don’t put your foot down, sales guys will take a mile,” Rickard added.
The final topic was about video content. Some companies have deals with Twitch, while others prefer to air their programs on YouTube.
“There’s never been a video component at WFNZ,” Rickard admitted. “It’s something I’m going to work on this summer. I think the key is my engineering staff figuring out the encoding with that. If someone has a meter and they’re gonna watch on YouTube, I need that counted.”
“Our YouTube strategy didn’t really start until eight or nine months ago,” Mamola said. “We talked about putting our content where everybody is. It’s all about building engagement and getting people to come to your brand.”
9:45-10:20 = 20 Deadly Sins of Sports Radio: Redefined presented by
- Bruce Gilbert – Cumulus Media/Westwood One
In October 2005, Gilbert shared the 20 deadly sins of talk radio. He shared he was going through a tough time during the original deadly sins. He added that sins are negative, so he is changing them to 20 ass-kicking attributes.
Those attributes are:
- Forward Momentum
- Effective One Topic Teases
- Don’t Talk Too Much
- Accompanying Audio
- Clock Discipline
- S.O.S. (Storytelling, Opinions, and Show Business)
- Authenticity Over Arrogance
- Short Open-Ended Questions
- Excellence Over Success
- Play The Hit
- Don’t Forget to Have Fun
- Embrace The Migration
10:20-10:55 = Wheel of Content presented by
- Amanda Brown – ESPN LA 710
- Joy Taylor – FOX Sports
- Mina Kimes – ESPN
- Demetri Ravanos – Barrett Sports Media
A physical wheel was brought to the stage with nine topics. The first topic was about flexibility and how they manage it in contrast to media company exclusivity.
“I think it’s the future,” Joy Taylor said. “Because you have the ability to have your own platform, if you’re big enough, you can exist outside of a traditional media company. If (companies) wanna pay for exclusivity, you’ve gotta pay for exclusivity, and that drives the price higher.”
“There’s a balance,” Kimes said. “As someone who does football content for ESPN five days a week, it would be strange if I was doing football content somewhere else.” She mentioned that she was given the opportunity to do pop culture podcasts with a friend at The Ringer, and was grateful ESPN allowed it.
Brown looks at it from the management aspect, but said she’s supportive of those that want to branch out to other avenues. “Anywhere your talent can be and people can consume them, they will, and they’ll associate it with your brand,” she said.
The next topic was who the best interview has been.
Kimes said Deandre Hopkins has been her favorite interview. She said she pitched the interview for two years before it finally happened and he was very candid during it.
Taylor said it was difficult to decide the definition of “best” but landed on an interview with Allen Iverson “was pretty amazing”.
“As talent, someone that’s responsive and engaged is always the best. Pro wrestlers are always awesome. Someone like Magic Johnson is always going to give you a great interview.”
Brown said an interview with Kobe Bryant during her days producing Max & Marcellus where he continually dropped the phone call due to signal ended up becoming a hilarious discussion.
The wheel then landed on the “path to stardom”, with BSM’s Demetri Ravanos questioning how the panel balanced if they got to where they are due to success, luck, strategy, or something else.
“It’s not like being a lawyer, teacher, or doctor. There’s not a test where it’s outlined for you,” Taylor said. “You can get very lost in the business. You can take jobs that don’t align with what you wanna do long term. You’re probably not gonna be getting paid what you think you should be getting paid. It can be demoralizing.“
She then said knowing what you want to do is half the battle, and noted that maybe that position or role doesn’t exist yet. Taylor experienced that situation by knowing that she wanted to be a sports opinionist, but that avenue wasn’t widely available to women. She decided that was the path she was going to take.
“I wish I had your clarity and vision,” Kimes joked to Taylor. “I think I’ve done every job you can have at ESPN. I think the thing I could say is: every job I had I didn’t view as a stepping stone. Every show I treated like was the most important thing that I ever did and ever would do. I just wanted to do it the best. I treated it like this might be the thing I do for the next five years.”
Social media was the next topic, with Kimes joking “great”.
“It has diminishing returns if you let it take over your life. The bigger your profile grows, the bigger your audience grows, the less you have to look at it,” Kimes said. “If someone says you shouldn’t be on Twitter, that’s not true. It is part of your job. However, I also think that the bigger the firehouse of engagement gets, I have had to be much more deliberate of what I see, what I allow to penetrate my brain. It’s too much. It’s not all negative, but it’s all too much.”
“Social media is not real. I’m an algorithm nerd,” Taylor said, adding that she’s always looking for the best practices on the platforms. “It’s your public face. It’s what you’re presenting to the world. For me, social media has to be intentional. I’m not a psychologist. I don’t believe humans were meant to get this much feedback, but it is a very important part of our job. Sports and Twitter are synonymous. The only things we consume live are politics and sports. I think you should be very intentional on how you consume it and I think you should approach social media like the big beast. How are you going to deal with it?”
Brown said ESPN LA 710 has a different brand on social media than that of its radio station.
“We do stuff that’s social media specific, or shows that are only streaming on our social media. That’s what people wanna see. They don’t wanna see the clips from the show, they wanna see the talent doing dumb shit. They wanna see the talent’s lives.”
Ravanos concluded by asking about sports betting information and content into spaces it wasn’t traditionally welcomed.
“We’re not quite there yet,” Brown said, noting that legal sports betting isn’t yet legal in California. “If it does become legal, we wanna monetize it.”
“It does dovetail nicely with our ongoing discussions,” Kimes said.
“The goal is to keep eyeballs on the show,” Taylor added. “People are tuning in to hear what we think and get information on anything, but putting it in a way that is consumable and easy to digest is the best,” mentioning Colin Cowherd’s The Blazing 5 as a great method to present it to the audience.
“I actually prefer we have something to base our conversations on, rather than just the generic term ‘overrated’, or whatever, it really helps to have something to base it on and quantify it with,” Kimes added.
11:10-11:45 = Keynote Conversation presented by
- Eric Shanks – FOX Sports
Shanks starts off discussing launching two new broadcasting booths for MLB and NFL and his crew’s performance during the Super Bowl. The conversation shifts to FOX Sports owning the USFL and if the appetite for football is strong enough to sustain other leagues.
“People always ask me what’s the next big thing in covering sports and I always say football,” Shanks said. “If we could increase NFL ratings by 1%, it would be incredible. We come at it from the FOX perspective that we come from the TV ratings standpoint. We kind of turned the model on its head. We have a sustainable business model that hasn’t happened with spring football in the last 30 or 40 years. There’s an insatiable appetite for football in this country. Is there room for multiple ones? I don’t know.”
Barrett asked about the network’s foray into the college football landscape, including the launch of Big Noon Kickoff to compete with College GameDay, including the decision on talent and utilizing newly retired players.
“There was a void at noon. We take our best pick and place it at noon. So we put together a group that we feel really good about. We decided to take the next leap of investment and take the show on the road. When you see that crowd, you want to keep on watching. We need to get better at it every week, but between Reggie (Bush), Urban (Meyer), and Matt (Leinart), it’s a really relevant group. And we have great storytelling with (Tom) Ronaldi.”
Shanks continued by talking about the network’s strategy in regards to having fun on the air, compared to the approach brought by other networks.
“You can’t take yourself too seriously,” Shanks said. “You want people on the air that when they speak, people listen. You wanna be the group that everyone wants to sit and have a beer with. That’s kind of our philosophy.”
When asked about biggest risks he’s taken that he’s gotten right and wrong, Shanks talked about the Harry Caray hologram before pointing out the network’s role in evolving the NFL content experience.
“At the time that we started Red Zone, nobody knew what NFL viewing would look like. Nobody had ever seen a commercial-free, all-action viewing experience. That was a pretty big risk that we couldn’t get wrong.”
“We tried bass fishing for awhile, and we had Joe Buck announcing it. It was right after we made the NHL puck glowing, so we put stuff on the fish that made them glow. The fishermen couldn’t see them but the folks at home are thinking ‘the fish is right there you idiot…so maybe bass fishing wouldn’t be what it is today without us,” Shanks joked.
The creation of FS1 in 2013 was a large undertaking, and Shanks admitted he knew it would take time to gain a foothold.
“The reason we started FS1 was we had these individual niche audiences (Fuel, Speed, and Fox Soccer). We saw a world where it would be harder and harder to get carriage and distribution for. So we merged those three channels into FS1. That was the reason we built FS1. Jamie (Horowitz) was here at the time, and was a big believer in building morning talk and was the big driver of landing Skip (Bayless), and I knew nothing of it at the time. It’s now about 25% of our audience viewing. It’s a brand that brings a lot of value and brings a lot of value to the pay TV bundle.”
Barrett asked Shanks about the streaming strategy for the network, mentioning that it has been one of the lone companies that hasn’t thrown bundles of cash at the platform.
“A couple of years ago, we were in wait and see mode. I think at this point, we’re kind of in that post-streaming wars era. We’re in the eighth or ninth inning. We’re not sitting on the sideline. We’re looking at everyone else thinking ‘What are they gonna do?’. On the entertainment side, you could say it’s added benefits to customers. But on the sports side? Anybody here can look at those standalone streaming services as a sports fan and think they’ve added inconvenience and expense. I can’t get anything from one single source anymore. They’re taking advantage of sports fans, to be quite honest. There’s some decision that are going to need to be made in the standalone streaming services that are relying upon pure streaming sports.”
Frustration with Nielsen has been an ongoing topic with both TV and radio groups, and Shanks said FOX Sports is no different, but did give the ratings measurement company some grace.
“I think it’s complicated. Nothing’s ever going to be perfect, but it’s the currency that we all live with. How else are you going to transact unless you agree that’s how we’re transacting? Technology is always advancing. Out-of-home is starting to get credit for viewing that was always there. I give credit to Nielsen that if they find errors, they’re not afraid to go back and correct it.”
“I can’t think of a product that we’re living and dying by the ratings with,” Shanks continued. “There’s not anything — at least in our portfolio — that a little bit of mis-measurement or data will make or break us.”
In the sports betting space, Shanks believed there’s plenty more legalization that will take place in the coming years.
“It’s still tough to tease out if legalized sports betting has had an affect on ratings,” before noting FOX Sports would look at being upstream in the sports betting space, rather than simply accepting ad dollars.
He added that he doesn’t currently view an all-gambling sports content network from the company in the short term.
“For us, that’s a ways off. I’d rather take the most interesting people, the most credible people, and the biggest events, and weave it in for the masses, rather than do niche programming.”
When asked about his goals for the future, Shanks said utilizing the company’s availability is what he strives for.
“Internally, it always starts with culture. Is it a fun place to work? From a business standpoint, we have a couple of renewals coming up. I think that for us it really does come back to some of these tangential investments, whether it’s in wagering or USFL, so if I could go forward five years and look back and question did we create new business. Whether it’s baseball, international soccer and the World Cup, are you situated out with the core business and take some of the buying power that FOX has to be transformative.”
He continued the conversation by saying he is open to working with talent from other networks and collaborating, mentioning Alex Rodriguez’s desire to be a game analyst. “We didn’t really have a spot for him, so we were fine” with the former All-Star joining ESPN in addition to keeping his role at FOX.
The Bally Sports-branded regional sports networks were previously owned by FOX Sports, and has experienced a collapse after the company sold them to Disney before divesting themselves to Diamond Sports Group. Shanks called the situation a perfect storm.
“When we had the RSNs, we had 44 of the 88 pro teams. We knew how much leverage we were using for distribution and rate, and brought the whole portfolio of FOX to make them successful. And they worked. The world has changed. We got everything out of the RSNs that we could get. Once they went and landed where that portfolio was in place that it couldn’t support, that was the secret sauce. The concentration of teams, the leverage we would bring to bear, and without that, you can see where they are today. There’s just as many fans that want the content, and when they’re in the bundle, it worked. But going outside the bundle and going direct? It didn’t work.”
11:45-12:15 = 2023 BSM Summit Awards Ceremony (Day 2) presented by
- Jeff Smulyan – Emmis Communications
- Julie Talbott – Premiere Networks
- Al Michaels – Amazon Prime Video
Premiere Networks President Julie Talbott was honored with the 2023 Jeff Smulyan Award. The Emmis Communications founder welcomed Talbott to the stage.
“This is a lot of fun for me. Jason called me years ago, and said ‘We want to name this award in your honor’, and I said ‘Thank god it’s not in my memory’. I’m really proud to honor Julie,” said Smulyan. “Not only is she one of the great leaders in the industry, she’s one of the great people in our industry.”
Talbott shared her appreciation for being given an award named after a trusted friend.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be here. Imagine being honored for such an award, but to have a name with a really good friend, it’s amazing,” Talbott said.
“I sure wouldn’t be here without a great team. I thank you so much. It means the world to me to accept this award with the Jeff Smulyan name on it.”
Legendary broadcaster Al Michaels was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and shared his appreciation for being bestowed with the honor.
“It’s great to be with so many people who got into the business because we love sports,” Michaels said. “It’s also great to see so many people that are so radio centric. In my generation, the best broadcasters were from radio.”
Michaels shared that he’s been paired with more than 100 different partners during his tenure, and briefly reminisced about them.
“Looking at all of those partners — John Madden, Cris Collinsworth, the great Tim McCarver, the best to ever analyze baseball on television, Jim Palmer, Doc Rivers, Ken Dryden, Jackie Stewart. I worked with Howard Cossell, O.J. Simpson, and Bruce Jenner, I’ve been around the block,” Michaels joked.
Sports broadcasting has seen radical changes over his career, and talked about some of the more obscure sports he has announced.
“The business has changed so much. When I did Wide World of Sports at ABC, I did motorcycle racing on ice, target driving in West Germany, but in those years ABC did a ton of auto racing. So I’ve done 30 NASCAR racing, 6 or 7 Formula 1 racing, you had to be a jack of all trades. I’m doing all this auto racing on national television, and I didn’t know how to use self-serve (gasoline).”
Michaels was joined at the event by Prime Video colleagues Andrew Whitworth and Kaylee Hartung, as well as Amazon Vice President of Global Sports Video Marie Donoghue. He shared his excitement about the product the streaming platform put together in its debut season.
“These people were totally supportive and totally invested in making this look like a big time show. One of the big things they did was hire Fred Gaudelli, and he made this look like a big time television show. I’m so proud of where we’ve come.”
Michaels is the voice of the most famous call in sports broadcasting history with his “Do you believe in miracles?” as the United States defeated the Russian hockey team in the 1980 Olympics. He explained that it was complete happenstance that he received the assignment.
“I got hockey because I was the only guy on that staff who had done hockey. I had done one hockey game. It was serendipitous. I could also explain offside and icing.”
Michaels concluded that one of the fallacies that took some time to get over was the idea that a great game means it was a great broadcast.
“Some of the best games, the games I’m most proud of, were bad games. The broadcast can be great without a great game. A great game doesn’t equal a great broadcast. But those are the things I’m most proud of. Those bad games that turn into great broadcasts.”
1:30-2:10 = Creating a Superstar presented by
- Shawn Michaels – WWE
The session began with Jason Barrett asking Michaels about the way the WWE scouts talent as the world has changed.
“We’re starting to cast a much wider net than we ever have before,” Michaels said. “Finding former athletes. Not everyone is gonna make it to the pros. Football, baseball, gymnastics. We’re reaching out to universities across the country and finding those athletes. You always keep a keen eye for someone that might have that electric personality, the it factor.”
The conversation shifted to how the WWE will brand an individual athlete as they’re gaining their footing with the organization.
“We have promo classes. They’re in front of green screens, they’re pitched ideas, situations, characters, learning to help teach them how to talk with entertainment but not lose your character. We ask them if they’ve ever thought about their name or character. You get a look inside their thought process. You’d be surprised how many have great ideas and there are others that we have to help out. We look for things that are organic or are already in them. We look for someone who is 100% a good actor.”
Barrett asked how WWE plans for its talent to hit the mainstream and what that buildup process looks like.
“It varies from talent to talent,” Michaels admitted. “We have a 7-to-10 week time period that we’ll use 30 to 45 second vignettes to build up the introduction to that character.”
When asked how to decide between creating characters or utilizing the natural personality of talent, Michaels said it’s all about feel.
“We feel like we have a really good pulse on our audience. From a wrestling standpoint, if you’re a bigger guy, it’s ok to laugh along with you, but we don’t want people laughing at you.”
Michaels shared he believes wrestling, like other content creators, is about storytelling.
“From the get go, we’re telling stories. It’s the story of the journey our characters are going through. We fight good and evil. Good guy versus bad guy. We just do it in a 20×20 ring. Our stories just end in a fight.”
Like sports radio stations, the WWE sometimes has to decide if something isn’t working.
“One of the greatest things about the WWE is our fan base. That sounds cliche at times. They’re brutally honest. When they don’t like something, they’ll let you know. Sometimes you have to push through that initial reaction,” Michaels said, pointing to the promotion’s star Roman Reigns long tenured unpopularity before ascending to be one of the company’s biggest draws.
Barrett asked how Michaels sees WWE defines success outside of strictly dollars and cents.
“I look at it in a number of different ways. I understand that if I don’t produce decent ratings, I don’t know how long I’ll be in the job. But at the same time, I have to produce talent. I may not have a number I can put on that, but I have to produce talent. 95% of our talent at WrestleMania will have grown through NXT. From that standpoint, NXT has been a big success. I can’t live and die by the weekly ratings. It’s about supplying the main roster with talent for the future.”
Michaels also shared that wrestling talent, like many in our industry, want to be told the facts from their managers.
“They almost always want to hear the truth, even when it’s tough,” Michaels said. “I deal with everybody the way Vince McMahon used to deal with me. He gave me a lot of free reign. He supported me and gave me space to take risks. He cut me loose, and said if it goes too far, I’ll reel you back in. I was uninhibited. It allowed me to be an artist.”
Barrett asked about the difference between allowing free reign versus what the company needs from a particular promo or story line.
“They have to earn your trust. From the beginning, you have to be able to get the points and follow the script. As you become a better steward of what you’re given, you’re entrusted with more. Not everybody just gets to go up there and wing it or feel it. You’ll have to follow a certain script. When you complete that, we give you a little freedom. It has to start regimented. There are I’s that have to be dotted and T’s that have to be crossed, and once they’ve been tasked with that and they complete it, we allow more creativity.”
2:10-2:45 = Aircheck on Campus presented by
- Mark Chernoff – Formerly of WFAN
- Scott Shapiro – FOX Sports Radio
- Rob Parker – FOX Sports Radio
- Michael Fiumefreddo – USC
The panel began by listening to a five minute clip of a recent show from WFAN’s Carton & Roberts, that encompassed St. Patrick’s Day, the injury off Edwin Diaz, a pizza being dismantled by a producer who dropped it in an elevator, and the belief that Aaron Rodgers would never play for the Jets.
BSM Director of Content Demetri Ravanos asked the panel if they heard five minutes of content that will keep PPM listeners.
“There was enough, but maybe a little too much all over the place, but it’s enough to keep me there,” former WFAN Brand Manager Mark Chernoff said. “I certainly heard enough that I would stick with the station because they talked about the two topics listeners want to hear about.”
“To get my five minutes, it did. It wasn’t perfect, but it did get my five minutes because there was passion there,” Scott Shapiro added. “At the very start of it, I did not understand some of the St. Patricks Day stuff, but it was 50 seconds in, and they brought up Edwin Diaz. I got the impression it was going to go on longer, and I wouldn’t have stayed longer if he went another minute, but to Carton’s credit, he brought it back.”
Ravanos asked how the programmers would balance formatic mistakes against content decisions.
“Howard Stern would go on for an hour and ten minutes, and do an 18 or 20 minutes commercial break, but he was getting 9, 10, 12 shares, and I said ‘You know what? They’re sticking with him, they don’t know when he’s coming back, and the content is so compelling that we can’t tell him to reign it in’. Content is king,” Chernoff said. “If the content is great, flush the format.”
“We want people to be human and take chances on the air, but there’s a road map, learn from them, and appeal to the broadest set of the audience,” Shapiro added.
FOX Sports Radio host Rob Parker then joined the panel to discuss a five minute clip from a recent episode of The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard, and a discussion ensued about how to aircheck with talent present.
“Scott is the dream programmer because he listens to the show,” Parker said of Shapiro. “One day, we were doing the show and Scott sent a text that said ‘Cut it out’. And I thought ‘What did we do?’ And Scott sent a follow up that said ‘I’m in my driveway and I’m laughing my head off’.”
“To me, I was gone from the show after the first minute. You can’t spend the first minute reading a commercial. Do it going into the break, if you have to,” Chernoff said. “If you wanted to talk about Aaron Rodgers, talk about Aaron Rodgers. It took four minutes to get there. You went on some tangents, for starting a show, it was all over the place. I had no idea where you were going. Those first few minutes, there was no substance, and you’ve got to have substance to start the show.”
“The read at the start is a 15-second read. It can sound like a 60-second read, but they pay a lot of money to be at the start of the show, so that’s not going anywhere,” Shapiro countered. “Rob Parker set the table off some nice momentum 1:45 in, with topics like Aaron Rodgers and Damian Lillard. We did not mention anything about Aaron Rodgers again until 3:45 in. That’s where my critique comes in. It can’t be two minutes. Let’s trim that down and get to the topics quicker.”
2:45-3:20 = The Era of Talent Led Audio Networks presented by
- Logan Swaim – The Volume
- Jack Rose – Silver Tribe Media
- Mike Davis – Dirty Mo Media
- Richelle Markazene – Omaha Productions
The panel led by Jack Rose began the discussion by asking Davis what has defined Dirty Mo Media.
“We’ve taken some pretty big swings,” Davis said. “We’re going after a strategic vision. We started some new shows, we’ve got gambling content, we started a new show with a guy that we identified — Denny Hamlin — so those are the swings we’ve taken.”
Swaim added that instant reaction content has been a growth driver for The Volume. “That is when we believe we are at our best because that is when sports fans want that content the most,” adding that they had traditionally operated under the usual podcast model. He said that company founder Colin Cowherd questioned why he couldn’t just turn something around after game ended, and it’s led to a new outlook.
Markazene said — similarly to The Volume — they look for new content centered around current athletes. “When we first launched, we thought it was really important to have an active player on our roster. We did that with Cam Hayward of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We didn’t anticipate the ups and downs of the Steelers season, so as he was navigating through that, he was also able to give his honest and timely reactions to the season on his podcast, which we found really resonated with fans.”
Rose mentioned that the digital media world is still largely in its infancy, but asked the panel what they’ve noticed isn’t working.
“Early on, we worked on getting new episodes out in a timely manner. I think a pivot we’re making now is our producers working on what is newsworthy and how we can get it out faster,” Markazene said. “I don’t think we did a good enough job of getting the newsworthy content in a timely manner.”
“The biggest missteps that I feel like I’ve made and we’ve made is we get so excited about an idea that we rush it to market,” Davis added. “And we don’t ask the basic questions before we take it to market. What’s the identity and why will people want to consume it? You can have answers to that and it can still succeed, but if you don’t have answers to that, you might not be ready to take it to market. If you don’t have those basic things answered, it probably won’t work.”
When asked what a point of emphasis is in the advertising space for The Volume, Swaim said it’s influence over inventory.
“With The Volume, we have a roster of not just podcast hosts but influencers. There are so many other ways to sell into an influencer rather than just a podcast itself. There’s all these other tentacles with that.”
Davis shared his process of going “hard to the hoop” to close deals.
“There were corporate, strong brands that were alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr. when we started this,” David said, before adding that they were slow to sponsor Dirty Mo Media content. “‘We recognize that you’re doing great, but you’re going to need to explain it to us’, is what we heard a lot. Not only is this something you want to be a part of, but it’s also something we can help them benefit from and something that is necessary for them.”
“As we started the network, we’ve had Caesar’s Sportsbook as a partner, and they’ve been tremendous on giving us feedback so we can align our content goals,” Markazene said. “I’m excited to see what we can all do together.”
Swaim added that gambling content is still “the Wild West”. He mentioned their partnership with FanDuel that helps drive different ways to customize gambling content inside different shows on the podcast network.
Rose asked how each of their companies use their biggest brands to create new content and advertising opportunities.
“My job is to create content for fans and content for Dale,” Davis joked. “I’m building a platform around a personality that is true to his authenticity, true to his ideals, but wasn’t his idea. When it’s not his idea, he’s not going to go push anything unless he’s all-in. He doesn’t play the game unless he’s interested. But that’s how I want him. My job is to keep him engaged and happy.”
“(Cowherd) calls me randomly. He’s usually mid-segment, and I engage with him,” Swaim said. “He uses sports analogies to grow the company. He likes to embrace the idea that he’s willing to move off of stuff that’s not working and double down on stuff that is. Colin has the ability to see talent in people many others don’t, and empowering them to do something many didn’t believe was out there.”
“Peyton (Manning) set’s the tone for Omaha in front of the camera and behind the scenes, too,” Markazene added. “Peyton is committed to every Omaha product and initiative. He was key in identifying talent and bringing them to our rosters. After launch, he’s made regular appearances on all of our shows.”
3:35-4:10 = Social Media Goes Hollywood presented by
- Karlo Sy Su – ESPN LA 710
- Matthew Demeke – AM 570 LA Sports
Barrett Media President Jason Barrett began the conversation by asking Karlo and Matthew how they decide on which platforms to prioritize and if there are certain days and times that they focus on making sure content is available.
Karlo shared the station has nearly 500,000 followers on Facebook, which allows opportunities to share more accessible content.
Demeke shared that “really good content is really good content”, adding that there isn’t a specific time that works best for the station’s best content.
“Anytime is a good time,” Su added.
The topic shifted to how each defines social media success.
“I like to see engagement,” said Su. “The fact that people will watch the content and then take the time to comment on it? That’s huge. I value the comment. People are taking the time to digest that content.”
“It’s a lot of things,” Demeke said.
“Engagement’s a big thing. Secondly, are people listening? We have to drive everyone back to listening. I need to get people back to our shows, whether that’s on the app or the radio. I saw a comment a couple of weeks ago on our post, that said ‘I found Roggin and Rodney through social’. That’s a big success. There’s so many ways to define it.”
After Barrett played a clip of Omar Raja talking with Gary Vaynerchuk about his approach to social media content creation, Su shared that the numbers his brand has delivered have been accomplished through organic reach, not with the help of paid media. “That is a display of pride in our work rather than cheating in a way. If we are looking to reach goals, that’s on us rather than putting some greenbacks to put us beyond our goal.”
“There’s zero dollars, zero cents on paid media,” agreed Demeke. “We get creative on how we do our marketing. We do paid media, but in a different way. This way brings engagement and brings people back to the radio station.”
Barrett asked about how the pair trust social media platforms, especially TikTok given that there’s been conversation around the platform being banned in the future.
“Nothing is gonna get reversed immediately,” said Su. “TikTok’s not gonna go down in the next day or two. Good content is good content. We feel like it’s good content because it gets the audience to watch and watch more, and then listen to the podcast or be a loyal listener to the station.”
“You have to adjust,” Demeke said. “I feel like since 2020, it’s been a series of adjustments. It doesn’t frustrate you, you just have to post throughout and get everything in priority. If people are using a platform, we need to be using it, too.”
“Everyone in this room, and society as a whole, has turned into a visual society,” added Su. “If we’ve got cameras in the studio, we should utilize them.”
“It’s tough because we have to make audio visual,” Demeke continued. “We’ve gotta bring that across all the platforms.”
4:10-4:45 = One For The Road presented by
- Matt Fishman – ESPN Cleveland
- Sean Thompson – Arizona Sports
- Danny Zederman – ESPN Chicago
Barrett began the conversation about potential sellable features and promotions by asking Fishman about The Land on Demand, the station’s subscription service for on-demand podcasts and live video of shows.
“Primarily, fans go there for the shows. That’s what we’ve learned. They go there for the commercial free and exclusive shows, and our Browns coverage,” said Fishman. “The best way to describe our growth is a six-figure line of income every year.”
ESPN 1000 is preparing for a 25th anniversary celebration.
“The actual anniversary is in October, but we had to jump at the chance to utilize the House of Blues in Chicago,” Danny Zederman said. “This is a great opportunity to satisfy fans and partners. It’s a give back for our partners. 150 of them are involved in this. They’re gonna get to mingle with one another, exchange ideas, and our partners get to become partners with one another.”
Sean Thompson discussed an event at his former station — 92.9 The Game — called “The Game Bowl”, that featured a paper football tournament with station listeners.
“I’m so happy to be back in the live event game,” Thompson said. “It makes me excited because it means we’re back to where we were a few years ago.”
Thompson added it was usually promoted for several months.
“We always did it the week the Pro Bowl was, the week before the Super Bowl. For me, expectations were always keeping the crowd entertained and engaged. From a sales standpoint, finding and creating activations. Whether it was to hand out a branded beverage, or anything like that, we wanted to create those footprints. From a revenue standpoint, we could have done better, but we would always have a good amount of people there and a good crowd, but we weren’t ready for an arena.”
Barrett then asked Zederman how many events should a station focus on per year.
“That’s a tough thing to specify. The most important thing is to do it right,” Zedderman said. “I can’t give you a specific number, but I would say it’s an important thing for the fans to reach out and touch the talent. Maybe once a quarter.”
Fishman said that several big promotions are key for ESPN Cleveland. He shared that during the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic, the station gave away $30,000 of local advertising that saw 82 entries. It gave away one winner, but got the contact information of 82 local businesses to potential pitch advertising too. In 2021, they added a luncheon for business who entered, which allowed them to network with each other. In 2022, the event expanded to a seminar on networking to couple with the lunch and giveaway.
Barrett asked the panel how they can monetize items outside of just the traditional commercial load.
Zederman said it’s important to have the talent buy-in to the event or promotion.
“We could have tons of great ideas, but if the talent doesn’t buy into it, it’s not gonna soar.”
“Nothing is worse than watching the talent do something they’re not engaged in,” Thompson agreed.
Barrett closed the 2023 BSM Summit by reiterating that we’re in the content business, not simply the radio or television business. He asked attendees — due to the volatile economy — to step out of their comfort zone and explore new territories. He showcased how companies like Hubbard have created digital-only shows that have invested in talent outside of the radio that have driven large revenues for the company. He then closed by explaining how radio leaders don’t do enough to tell their brand success stories compared to others in similar businesses and reminded the room why it was important to do so given the challenging financial climate.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
2023 BSM Summit – March 21, 2023 (Day 1)
Day 1 of the 2023 BSM Summit is underway in Los Angeles at the Founders Club at USC. We’re keeping you updated on news, key information, and interesting perspectives shared on stage by our speakers. BSM editor Garrett Searight will be updating this column throughout the day as each session wraps up, so be sure to check back multiple times to avoid missing anything important.
Barrett Media President Jason Barrett welcomed attendees, sharing the details of how sports radio statistics compare in 2023 to 2013. Barrett continued by sharing those working in sports media are no longer in simply the radio or television business; we’re in the content business.
9:10-9:45 = Sports Radio in an Audio World presented by
- Larry Rosin, Edison Research
Rosin shared seven trends that continue to drive conversations in the sports radio space.
- Your audience has all the stuff. 91% of those 12+ own a smartphone, with 96% of men in the 25-54 demographic own a smartphone. 74% in that same demographic own wireless headphones. 78% own a smart TV and 44% own a smart speaker.
- Your audience is using that stuff. 81% in the demographic listened to digital audio at least once a week. 67% listened to owned digital music, while 66% listend to AM/FM radio in their cars. On average, Americans listen to 4 hours and 16 minutes of audio per day. 1 hour and 6 minutes of that time is devoted to spoken word audio. AM/FM Radio accounts for 38% of the time spent listening in that 4 hours and 16 minute average. In 2014, that number accounted for 53% of the share. YouTube has grown from 6% to 14% in that timeframe.
- As radio listening declines, the remainder is increasingly old. 56% of those aged 55+ show AM/FM radio as their largest share of ear, but those 13-34+ is only 23%.
- Spoken word listening keeps rising. 26 million more people are listening to spoken word audio each day than compared to eight years ago. In 2014, 20% of total time spent listening was spoken word audio. That number has grown to 29% in 2022.
- The phone is eating all the listening. Rosin shared that interviews with teenagers revealed they viewed listening to AM/FM radio as more difficult than listening to digital audio offerings. For the first time in 2022, listening on mobile devices eclipsed listening on AM/FM radio, with 34% listening on their phones, while 33% listened on broadcast radio. Those in the 13-24 age ranges saw mobile device listening at 55%, while only 25% of those spent the most time listening to spoken word audio on their phone. In men 25-54, 40% spent the most time listening on their phones, while 27% listed AM/FM radio as their most listened to source.
- Podcasting has changed the game. 42% say they have listened to one podcast in the last month, while 56% inside the demographic responded similarly. 48% of men in the demographic listen to a podcast on a weekly basis. The Bill Simmons Podcast, Pardon My Take, and The Pat McAfee Show have the highest reach in the sports podcast space.
- Sports is growing as spoken word is growing. Sports has remained at roughly 14% of the spoken word audio share. In 2015, 76% of men said they were listening to sports radio compared to podcasts. In 2022, it was 53% radio and 26% podcasting.
- Men are increasingly streaming their sports radio. 65% of men in the demographic that listen to sports radio shared they are listening on AM/FM radio.
Rosin concluded by mentioning that listeners aren’t loyal to the way they receive and consume content as much as they are loyal to the content they enjoy. He also shared that immediacy matters more than a linear experience.
9:45-10:20 = Business Strategy For Economic Uncertainty presented by
- Scott Sutherland – Bonneville
- Don Martin – iHeartMedia
- Sam Pines – Good Karma Brands
- Stacey Kauffman – Audacy
The session began with Sutherland mentioning that the economic uncertainty began nearly 3 years ago to the day. In 2021, the advertising market was strong, but has since fallen off due to inflation and other mitigating factors.
Sutherland asked what the best strategy is for managing expectations in uncertainty. Kauffman said consistency is key, but the humility to make different decisions should new information be presented. She continued by saying balancing the needs of the company and the people inside the company is paramount.
Martin said radio has experienced issues similar to this for the last 25 years. He added that creativity is the biggest driver in both sales and content. An all-hands-on-deck approach is needed to continue growth.
The conversation then turned to how talent and sales co-exist and how to continue providing resources to talent.
Martin believes there isn’t a difference between sports programming and sales. The two need to work in conjunction. In news media, there has to be a delineation to avoid credibility issues, but those problems don’t exist in sports radio, noting that listeners tune into sports radio to hear opinions.
Kauffman said the days of keeping company and station financial information away from talent are gone. She added that hosts and reporters having that information helps drive the passion and ambition of the stations and brands.
Pines added that collaboration got lost during the pandemic, but is returning. He believes those working inside stations want to collaborate and support each other. He referenced the statements from Martin that hosts can help drive sales due to the connection hosts have with listeners. Their opinions matter to the listeners, so their opinions on brands and products will carry weight.
Sutherland then asked how companies are handling remote work or hybrid situations.
Pines admitted for a long time every meeting included a Zoom invitation, and believes as much as people can be together, they should be together. At Good Karma Brands, he shared at least four days a week in the office is the goal, but the company is understanding of efficiency.
Kauffman agreed, saying that each Audacy market is available to set its own mandate, but the Northern California stations expect at least three days a week of in-office work. “We try to smart and strategic about how that happened,” she said.
Martin shared that nationally FOX Sports Radio has worked remotely for a long time, but on the local level the talent at AM 570 LA Sports never left. However, the sales staff is just now returning to three days per week.
The ability to offer different revenue streams was a topic of discussion.
Challenges have emerged, according to Kauffman. There’s not a standardization of how the company has monetized its sports audience, but knows a captive audience is there. Content creation is easy, and is easier on a local level, but monetizing it has been the challenge.
Martin agreed, saying “It’s not a product problem. It’s a sales problem. How do you teach them to sell all these sports verticals?” He believed creating “ecosystems” of each show is the easiest way to monetize each show.
Local decision making is the key, Pines added. “We see different ways we’re monetizing it,” mentioning The Land on Demand from ESPN Cleveland as one option compared to other markets.
Sutherland then asked the panel how they handle the Nielsen metrics.
Pines believed Nielsen is just one data point when several data points are available. Good Karma Brands doesn’t utilize Nielsen in all of its markets.
Martin believes if you’re only utilizing Nielsen numbers to create revenue, “you’re dead”.
The Nielsen data points are market-by-market, Kauffman countered. In San Francisco, the majority of the advertising revenue is national, while Sacramento is more focused on local business. “Getting that mindset more in Market #4 that we’re not going to rely on something we can’t control to control our destiny…you can focus on problems or solutions, we choose to focus on solutions,” Kauffman continued.
“You can be crushing the market, and still not be where you need to be,” Kauffman said of the challenges Nielsen data presents to potential customers.
10:20-10:55 = Best of Both Worlds presented by
- Mason & Ireland – ESPN LA 710
- Petros & Money – AM 570 LA Sports
- Evan Cohen – Good Karma Brands/SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio
Cohen asked members of both shows how they handled their longevity. Both shows have been together for more than 16 years.
Mason said “being a comfortable pair of shoes” for your listeners is key.
Smith said being able to help advertisers has helped. “That’s something that’s often overlooked. You have to lean into your advertisers and build them up,” he said.
Ireland said neither show is afraid to “drive off the road” when it comes to content. He mentioned a situation when Neil Diamond wore a fake mustache and a hat, and said Smith’s postgame show strictly focused on Diamond’s bad disguise. “Mason and I do that every day. We take left turns every day. Money and P do the same thing”.
“We may spend an hour discussing something that has nothing to do with sports. If we think it’s interesting, we’ll do it,” Ireland continued.
He credited Program Director Amanda Brown who has reinforced “I don’t care what you talk about, as long as it’s interesting,” adding that having that support from management is important to their longevity.
Smith said he believes their show is the most local show in the market, saying that many major market shows would never discuss high school sports as much as he and Petros do. “We show the community we’re part of you. We’re not just guys with media passes…I think that’s so important to a community. We are in your community, we live in your community, we work in your community.”
Mason said he and Ireland have completely opposite personalities, which helps continue to keep the show fresh.
Cohen asked if they have evolved over their tenured, which Ireland said he might be cancelled if you were to pull up an aircheck from their first year.
“I believe you’re either changing, evolving, or trying new stuff, or you’re getting really dull,” Mason added. “We’re much more loose now than we were.”
Smith said when their show began, it was as informative as it was entertaining. But due to the rise of smartphone usage, the informative piece has gone mostly by the wayside, but listeners continue to seek entertainment.
“You gotta find a way to be entertaining and not just be a vent outlet,” Ireland added.
Smith also gave credit to AM 570 LA Sports Program Director Don Martin for allowing he and Papadakis “to figure it out”, allowing the pair to make mistakes and decide what worked best for their show.
Ireland said he couldn’t do a show with another “sports guy”, so the pairing with Mason continues to work.
When asked if longevity was a dirty word, Smith balked at the idea.
“We’ve raised a generation of sports fans. It’s weird, but it’s really cool. I like the word ‘longevity’.”
Ireland said “it’s really tough to last a long time,” adding that it’s rewarding to have that word applied to their show.
Cohen asked if either show had ever thought their run had ended or if there was a moment they thought the show was going to end.
Smith said he hadn’t that situation, but joked “I’m going to say something and stupid. It’s a foregone conclusion. It’s going to happen”. He said the situation has changed that 10 years ago if he were let go, he might need to move to another market to continue hosting a show. However, with the landscape of digital audio and the fabric he and Petros have weaved into the Los Angeles sports scene, they could go create a new program or podcast.
11:10-11:45 = How Radio Can Compete and Win in the Connected Car presented by
- Joe D’Angelo – Xperi
D’Angelo shared there are 12 streaming platforms attempting to infiltrate the audio space in automobiles, including Apple Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, and TuneIn, among others. These platforms offer great user experiences for drivers, and are making things easy for auto manufacturers by designing their own software and an ease of implementation. Those entities also offer detailed analytics to advertisers that traditional AM/FM radio can’t match.
Xperi works with all major car brands, and currently has 125 million automobiles on the road that carry some of their technologies.
The company launched DTS AutoStage in 2020, which combined broadcasting and internet services for broadcast radio. The technology showcases traditional radio in a similar format to that of digital on-demand audio options. Radio continues to be a featured option with DTS AutoStage, rather than being included in an all encompassing “media” option.
Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Genesis, Kia, and Hyundai currently offer the radio product. An additional eight manufacturers will be announced in the next 18 months.
The technology features a mobile device-like display that showcases all radio offerings, rather than a traditional analog radio dial. The platform also showcases an easier to find HD Radio offerings list. It also features detailed contact and social media information for the station on the digital dashboard.
The updated digital dashboard has a search capability function, allowing users to search specifically by genre.
Stations have creative control over what information is inputted into the DTS AutoStage system to allow contact information, social media platforms, and programming information displayed on the dashboard.
Xperi will provide analytics to stations who opt into providing the company with information about their programming. The analytics provided will include reach, total users, average session times, and more. “This is meant and intended to help the industry compete,” D’Angelo said. “We are not monetizing this in any way.”
The data will be tracked in 24-hour increments, and will allow stations to monitor their performance hour-by-hour the next day.
A “heat map” will also be provided to stations, showing where the automobiles utilizing the technology have traveled and where listeners are actually driving.
“This, we believe — if segmented by day part — can have a significant impact on your sellers strategy.”
The company captured 7.2 billion listening sessions in 2022. THat number will grow to 93.3 billion in 2023.
D’Angelo mentioned car companies are looking at all available options in their infotainment systems. The radio costs manufacturers $120. However, that cost could be put into making more connected cars simply equipped with a tablet-style system that is only connected to the internet.
In exchange for the analytics, Xperi asks that stations provide static data (station call letters, logos, positioning statement, etc), a streaming URL to continue listening experiences for drivers leaving the broadcast area to continue the listening session, and live data from the station’s programming system like song title, artist, hosts, name of advertisers during an commercial, and photos of talent. The service is completely free to broadcasters.
“You give us rights to use your metadata, and we obligate ourselves to give you access to the dashboard, complete control, and access to the analytics,” D’Angelo concluded.
11:45-12:15 = 2023 BSM Summit Awards Ceremony (Day 1) presented by
- Mark Chernoff – Former WFAN Program Director
- Jimmy Powers – 97.1 The Ticket Program Director
- Jay Glazer – FOX Sports
The festivities began with 97.1 The Fan Program Director Jimmy Powers being honored with the Mark Chernoff Award.
“This year’s award winner is a guy who has done a tremendous job in Detroit,” Chernoff said. “What Jimmy has had to do is balance out all this great talent plus they’ve got the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings, and Pistons. So you have to balance out how you work with the teams and you also have to be critical of the teams when they’re no good. Jimmy has learned how to balance all that out. He has great ratings, great talent, and a truly great station at 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit.”
“I would never expect anything like this. I’m completely honored to be recognized,” Powers said. “I appreciate the recognition, and it’s a true honor to be associated with a legend like Mark Chernoff.”
FOX Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer was presented with the BSM Champions Award.
“The work that (Glazer) has done and the work that he has put into the public eye has been so incredibly helpful to those dealing with mental health battles,” Barrett said.
“I could never imagine I’d get an award for being really f***ed up,” Glazer joked. “I wake up in the morning and have to make that decision to get out of bed. We’re talking about it now.
“I wanted to really come forward…I wanted to be someone to show that it’s ok to talk about this. Every time I’ve opened up about this to someone, it’s brought us closer together.”
Glazer has been honest about his mental health struggles, and recently wrote a book — “Unbreakable” — on the topic. He also launched a podcast of the same name discussing mental health problems.
“My life amazing, but between my ears sucks. But whether you’re at my level or not, we’re all going through something…so I wanted to take it upon myself to be of service. Writing this book, I’ve had so many parents reach out to me saying ‘Thank you for giving me the words to discuss this with my kids’. I’ve had grandmothers say ‘for the first time in 80 years, I can have this talk’. Now, we’re paying it forward.”
Barrett Sports Media donated $1,000 in Glazer’s honor to the Merging Vets & Players charity.
1:30-2:10 = Raising The Volume presented by
- Colin Cowherd – FOX Sports Radio and The Volume
Jason Barrett started the conversation by asking Cowherd about co-hosts since the last time he appeared at the BSM Summit.
During his last visit, Cowherd’s co-host was Kristine Leahy. She has since departed, as has her replacement, Joy Taylor. Jason McIntyre now works as Cowherd’s co-host.
“I blew up his website, so I figured I might as well give the guy a chance,” Cowherd said of McIntyre, referencing a 2007 incident with The Big Lead.
The FOX Sports Radio host then shared his admiration for the radio medium, and he joked that he is likely to make mistakes because of the pace of his show, and that’s ok with him.
“Radio to me is just a treadmill,” said Cowherd. “Don’t worry about mistakes. Just go.”
He then shared about the difficulty of doing both a television and radio simulcast.
“That simulcast is about pace. I know my radio show isn’t quite what it could be, and my TV show isn’t quite what it could be, but I have to balance them.”
Barrett asked about how Cowherd handles the times he is in the headlines for his mistakes or unpopular opinions.
“I’m really good at not doing things,” Cowherd admitted. “I’m very good at not picking up my phone. I’m very good at not giving a shit about criticism…I don’t worry about that. I used to tell Doug Gottlieb this. There’s not a lot of money in being right. I got rich by being interesting. Be interesting. We’re not Wikipedia. I just don’t care about the criticism.”
Cowherd was asked about his company The Volume. He previously said he didn’t put much stock in podcasting, saying no one was getting rich on podcasting.
“I don’t consider us a podcast company. I consider us a media company,” Cowherd said. “I watched Bill Simmons, I watched Dave Portnoy, I watched Big Cat. I’m constantly pivoting. We started podcasting. We’re a media company now. We watch what the audience likes. We look at the data. We’re like driving a bus. You tell us where you’re going and we’ll meet you there.”
The Volume has seen rapid growth since its inception. Cowherd said he has a great staff, and the timing was correct.
“COVID made some people available that wouldn’t have been,” the company’s founder said. “If you want Bill, you go to The Ringer. If you want Portnoy, you go to Barstool. There’s no scarcity of me, so I created our own ecosystem. It’s our guys. I knew we couldn’t get into bidding wars, so I’d listen to all these podcast and think ‘I wanna hire people that ESPN and FOX would wanna hire, but wouldn’t know what to do with them’.”
When asked what he’s looking for in potential employees, Cowherd looks for those who are like him.
“People that can talk to themselves. Barstool’s brand is very fratty, and it works for them. Bill’s brand is very cultured. So I’m gonna hire me. I didn’t go to Missouri or Duke or any of these great other schools. If you look at what we did: Draymond Green? 2nd round pick. Richard Sherman? 5th round pick. I hired a bunch of people I thought they’re grinders. Somebody’s cast them aside. They’ve been doubted.
“If Draymond Green was the number one pick, he wouldn’t work as hard. My management staff is people who hit a ceiling at other company’s and were undervalued. We’ve really tried to hire people with a chip on their shoulder, something to prove, and are vulnerable. Big companies wouldn’t know what to do with them. And it’s worked for us.”
Cowherd mentioned now that he’s in management of a company, he doesn’t mind paying his employees what they’re worth.
“The best thing I do all year is write bonus checks to my staff. It’s such a joyful moment. If I have a producer and I write him a $12,000 or $18,000 check, I’m changing his life. It’s a down payment for a house, they can buy a car. It’s joyous.”
2:10-2:45 = From Podcast to Podca$h presented by
- Gordy Rush – Guaranty Media
- Ryan McDermott – Barstool Sports
- Maggie Clifton – Blue Wire
- Matt Mallon – Locked On Podcast Network
The panel — led by Rush — was asked why advertisers are interested in advertising on each of their networks.
Ryan McDermott said advertisers are buying a 20-year story when it purchases ads with Barstool, adding that ad buyers are looking for a younger audience with the company, and it will continue to create content where its audience exists.
“When I started here five years ago, I never would have imagined some of these blue-chip advertisers would be buying ads with Barstool,” McDermott said, after referencing brands like Chevrolet and Taylor Made.
Maggie Clifton said brands that some advertisers are still utilizing promo codes and direct links as ways to measure their ROI, but the technology is changing to allow more and more blue-chip advertisers come into the fold. She added the diversification of podcast advertisers has developed during her three years working in the space.
Matt Mallon mentioned there were previously 5-10 advertisers purchasing the bulk of podcasts ads, but that number has dramatically increased in the following two calendar years. He added the opportunities available to those advertisers has never been greater.
A company’s uniqueness to advertisers was also pointed out as a potential foot in the door for those looking to reach sports podcast listeners.
McDermott shared that Barstool is a reality television program as much as it is a content factory. It also has several different hubs in New York and Chicago, as well as an employee now working in New Orleans.
Clifton highlighted the company’s relationship with the Wynn in Las Vegas and the state of the art studios built inside the hotel and casino complex.
Each agreed that podcast advertisers are seeking different things, with the belief that aggregating podcast sales with scale is the best way to get started. While McDermott mentioned product placement of Barstool talent is a powerful tool to offer companies.
2:45-3:20 = Showtime presented by:
- Rachel Nichols – Showtime
- Baron Davis – Baron Davis Enterprises
Nichols began the session by asking Davis how he viewed the sports media space since his NBA playing days concluded, which he called “fruitful”.
“If you look at the current ecosystem of sports, it’s its own ecosystem,” Davis said. “Athletes have their own podcasts and their own shows. Producers are becoming their own studio.
Nichols mentioned the barrier to entry is as low as it has ever been, saying you have a television station in your pocket.
“Think about NBA fashion,” Davis said. “Craig Sager was the most fashionable person. He was the fashion guy in a league where it was suits and ties and now people are trying to pitch and sell shows as a part of NBA Productions or TNT Productions of this invisible red carpet of guys walking off the bus. The evolution, and now having that in your phone, it is driving commerce. Commerce is driving content and content is driving commerce. Destinations are now so important.”
Nichols then asked Davis about his views on what traits NBA personnel have that lend itself to a sports media future.
“Our space is personality and opinion driven,” Davis said. “Voice are important. The storytellers. I think this new generation are looking for the history and we’re so — because sports is so present — busy creating the ultimate narrative. We haven’t evolved from painting the picture of ‘Oh, he broke the record’,” mentioning that LeBron James eclipsing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was only contextualized by the point of view of LeBron and no discussion of the previous record holder.
A question from Nichols wondered what Davis — a media investor — views as the most successful content.
“Radio is always great because they do it every day, constantly. The information that they retain and churn out is ridiculous. Radio is always great. But from a long from content perspective, I’d like to see it busted back down to the reel, the hot take. If you look at the next documentary coming out, there’s a documentary, then a story about the documentary, and then there’s people who don’t make the documentary, and that ancillary content is becoming a premium.”
Sport specific content has become more prevalent, which Davis agreed is a good way to operate.
“Focus is good,” Davis said. “But it’s really more about the person and the personallity. Focus is good, but your intel and your intellect is drawing out real conversations.”
Nichols believes specialization can be helpful. “I think that it helps people know what they’re gonna get, and they’re looking for you,” she said. “I think that people have more choices, being clear on who you are and what you are is helpful.”
She then asked Davis what he looks for — from an inverstors prespective — in potential hires.
“I look at a personality, a business standpoint, like entreprenuers, and a creative standpoint. For me, it’s always like having this direct focus in investing in sports and collaborating to create a bigger ecosytem so there’s a bigger revenue pot so we can all share in storytelling.”
Davis shared that six years ago, he said he wanted to invest in 10 companies. He has since invested in 40 companies, with 36 still in operation.
“There are a lot of good content creators that want to mimic radio,” Davis continued. “Any talent that we run into, we have the opportunity to send them to a company to work with. It gave us a lot of intel and insight on the podcasting space.”
The former NBA star added he doesn’t view athlete-driven podcasts as a fad, but said he doesn’t believe viewers want to hop from platform to platform to find content from their favorite players.
When asked about how he would rate the diversity of sports media leadership, Davis laughed and joked “it’s unrateable:
“We need to put a lot of interest and effort into women’s sports, women leaders, because I would say women in sports have a better periphrial around talent, story, and how to actually break barriers. Then we talk about culture. Culture is a misused word in sports, but there’s a culture that was built in the 80s, but in the 90s and 2000s, it started to become monetized. So you have these players in this ecosytem that are starting to become pioneers.”
3:35-4:10 = The Moneyline presented by
- Bryan Curtis – The Ringer
- Mitch Rosen – BetQL Network and 670 The Score
- Jon Goulet – VSiN
Curtis began the panel by asking Rosen and Goulet if gambling content has become the mainstream.
“This was the first year that there was a sports betting show in the BSM Top 20,” Rosen said, refrencing You Better You Bet’s placement. “That shows to me that sports betting became mainstream in our industry and they accept that it’s not just one of those sports betting shows.”
Goulet mentioned that three of the largest stages at the Super Bowl’s Radio Row were betting content companies. He mentioned three years ago, he isn’t certain those companies would be allowed to be at Radio Row, and mentioned that Tony Romo was banned from participating in an event less than a decade ago because of the company’s association with sports betting.
Rosen continued by saying there are different types of sports betting content focuses, mentioning that there are room for those who will present a “CNBC-style” offering of just spreads, information, etc…while there is also room for those that want to be entertaining. He believes, however, that simple presentation of the facts will be more difficult to maintain.
Goulet said listeners will continue to follow hosts, even if their bets don’t pan out, because they are entertained by the hosts.
Curtis asked Goulet why listeners enjoy hearing about hosts losses.
“I think that humility is something we can connect with,” Goulet said. “I love when our guys say ‘I was so wrong about this game’. I think you connect with the audience that way. People like that. You might get bad reaction to that and someone may have been following that money, but hiding from it is much worse than that.”
Rosen was asked what are fantastic moments for sports betting content creators. He mentioned a situation like Aaron Rodgers potentially moving to the Jets is the perfect example. In a more unsavory situation, big NFL injuries change things immediately that will drive listeners to sports betting content.
The conversation shifted to what a rundown for a sports betting show looks like compared to traditional sports radio.
“The only difference is you’ll dive into a few more games — especially later in the day — but what’s interesting to a sports fan is interesting to a sports betting fan,” Goulet said.
Rosen was asked about the difference between a sports host and a sports betting host.
“There is certainly some crossover,” Rosen admitted, saying someone like 670 The Score host Danny Parkins could do a sports betting show, while others couldn’t. “We at the BetQL Network want hosts that can talk the lingo of sports betting.”
Goulet mentioned that while hosts could believe they have a great bet, listeners don’t care unless they are already planning to watch a game to begin with. He pointed to a story from a few years ago that the 10 most-bet college football games that year were nine bowl games and Ohio State/Michigan. “People bet on the games they’re most interested in watching,” Goulet said.
Both Goulet and Rosen mentioned that neither of their networks take calls from listeners, with Goulet mentioning that calls could backfire on sports betting, but also because they are both video platforms as much as they are strictly-audio content platforms.
Curtis asked about the future of AM radio and how VSiN and BetQL will make up that distribution.
Rosen shared he’s still a big believer in AM radio, and pointed to his home market of Chicago still being a vibrant AM radio market. “People find good content. If they don’t listen through AM radio, they listen on the app or streaming,” he added.
“It’s actually created a little window,” Goulet said. “There are so many sportsbooks that are willing to place ads, so why not take VSiN instead of a network news radio station.”
The conversation shifted to how the sports betting space will change in the following year. Rosen believes with more states becoming legal, that is how it will change. Not so much the content, but the localization of content as more states become legal. Goulet mentioned that the nation’s three largest states by population don’t have legal sports betting.
4:10-4:45 = Rome on Media presented by
- Jim Rome – CBS Sports Radio/CBS Sports Network
Barrett Media President Jason Barrett began the conversation by asking Rome why he continues to do sports radio and what keeps it fun.
“Because they keep paying me to talk shit,” Rome joked. “Why 30 years in am I still doing this? Because I’m stealing money. I still love sports, I still love the game, and I can put food on my kids’ table by talking about sports.”
When asked how he structures the show, Rome said he’s got a certain way of doing things, but realized early in his career that he knew the right questions to ask of himself, the audience, and his interview subjects.
“My situation is unusual,” Rome said, pointing that the majority of Audacy employees work in the eastern time zone, while his studio is located in Orange County, California. “Everybody that works with me, I make it very clear to them you have no idea how lucky we are. They don’t bother us because we’re consistent. But the second we slip, they’ll be there to let us know.”
He then shared that his staff usually gets into the studio between 5:00 AM-7:00 AM before his show begins at 9:00 AM local time.
“When, I got to the national level, I had to find topics that transcends a national audience on the more than 200 stations I’m on,” Rome said.
Barrett asked Rome how he defines if something is or isn’t working.
“We have to appeal to all these different platforms. The content is king. My feeling is, if I take care of the show, the show will take care of me…I can say something on the radio that if I said on Twitter wouldn’t land the same. Know your room. You have to be something to everybody and it’s a nearly impossible thing to do. But never shortcut the content.”
Rome is one of the few national hosts who still continunally takes callers, and said callers have to make his product more compelling.
“How many of my hardcore audience is listening for three hours? Not all of them. If they’re gonna drop in for nine minutes or 13 minutes, if they’re not caller people, you don’t want them dropping in on callers. If they’re interview people, you want them dropping in on interview people.
“This is very simple: Have a take, don’t suck. Tell me what you think. If they make it better, they get on the air. It is not your inalienable right. It’s always been a host driven show because I didn’t want to rely on somebody else to decide my fate.”
Barrett asked about Rome’s opinion on a recent statement from Dan Le Batard that nobody in sports media cares if an interview is conducted well or not.
“It’s a flex, and it’s good for the brand, but if you’re gonna get that person on and you’re not gonna get anything out of that person, it’s a waste. Dan’s a really smart person, and he’s right, but the way I came up I was always concerned someone would say ‘Why did you not ask that question?’. It’s my job to ask the question. I don’t want to be the old head in the room, but things have changed. People don’t care. Dan’s right. It’s my job to get those guys on, I think you should prep it, and I want that person to say ‘Rome was prepared’.”
Rome’s show is heard on many AM radio stations. With the future of the medium in doubt, he said the situation is not ideal.
“If it makes it harder for the consumer to get to the product, that is not a positive development,” Rome said. “People are very habitual in their listening habits…I would imagine those same exact cars would have the technology for listeners to find us on an app, on their phone, but there’s always a way to access the content.”
Rome is famously friendly to advertisers, and shared it’s because they’re the lifeblood of his show and stations.
“It doesn’t matter how good the show is, or how intellgient or insightful I am, it doesn’t matter if I don’t have advertisers,” admitted Rome. “You will not find anybody who appreciates the advertiser more than me. I’m not gonna read it and throw it aside. I’m gonna sell my ass off for you. I’m not saying it’s easy, but we have to earn their respect and their business. I know how hard it is to get that business.”
Athlete-controlled media — sometimes refered to as “new media” — has grown in recent years. Rome thinks its both good and bad.
“It’s good for the business because there’s enough to go around,” shared Rome. “But I can’t compete against Kevin Durant talking about what it’s like to strive for a championship. But everybody has an agenda. The media has an agenda, (players) have their narrative they want pushed. Is it good for the fans? Yeah. They want to be let in behind the curtain. But the athletes are going to be behind the narrative and push what they want to be sign and not be pushed.”
Rome was asked what he would like to do that he hasn’t done in his illustrious career.
“I just kinda always planned it one thing at a time. I was always pretty good about being where my feet were,” Rome said. “I remember showing up and doing The Late Late Show, and I don’t remember if it was before or after Craig Killborn. That was fun. I remember thinking ‘I nailed that’. They hit me back with ‘Yeah, you did alright. We’re looking for someone with a little more sex appeal’. But I’m telling you, I’m doing what I want to be doing.”
He concluded by saying he’s still working on a book — “because everyone has a book” — and that’s the one thing he wishes he would have completed by now.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.