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Barrett Sports Media’s Top 21 Specialty Selections of 2021

“These categories were different from the BSM Top 20 and represent twenty one (21) total votes by our current staff and a few select former members.”

Jason Barrett

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The BSM Top 20 is a fun and subjective series which many enjoy each year. We appreciate all who take the time to participate in the voting process to help us determine the industry’s best in the various categories we recognize. Given how large the sports media industry is, there are tons of additional categories that could be voted on and debated, but asking our panel to do more than they already do isn’t something I’m comfortable with. These folks have stations and companies to run, not full days to spend making selections for yours truly.

But the BSM staff, past and present members? Well, that’s a different story.

Though we’re each busy with daily responsibilities, we all love the industry and spend time following it, writing about it, and analyzing it. Hundreds of thousands of people hit this site each month to read our content, many of them members of the media business, and if they value the words presented on this screen enough to digest it, then I’m sure they’ll appreciate and enjoy how our crew views some of the best in the business in other categories.

Which brings me to BSM’s Specialty Selections. I created a survey for our crew which contained 21 questions, all offering a number of choices for our crew to choose from. These categories were different from the BSM Top 20 and represent twenty one (21) total votes by our current staff and a few select former members. With this being the final day of the Top 20 series, we want to once again congratulate all of the winners and brands recognized, and remind you that provided enough participation is received, a News Radio version of the Top 20 will be delivered later this year.

Now here are BSM’s Top 20 (Plus one Bonus Choice) Specialty Selections!

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Sports Insider of the Year: Our team selected Adam Schefter as the best sports insider. Adam captured 33% of the total vote. Ken Rosenthal finished 2nd. Adrian Wojnarowski came in third.

Sports Media Reporter of the Year: With 60% of the vote, Andrew Marchand of the NY Post was recognized by our team as the top sports media reporter of 2021. Next up was Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports followed by The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch.

Sports Media Podcast of the Year: I’m sure checks were mailed out or beatdowns were promised to our crew if votes didn’t come his way, but Demetri Ravanos prevailed with BSM’s Media Noise Podcast. Coming in second was Sports Media w/ Richard Deitsch followed by the Marchand & Ourand podcast.

Sports Media Website of the Year: The NY Post continued to earn praise from our team for presenting the best sports media website of the year. Between Andrew Marchand and former BSM contributor Ryan Glasspiegel, the Post has positioned itself well in the sports media space. Next up was The Athletic followed by Outkick.

Sports Media Story of the Year: A case could be made for the arrival of the Manningcast, the sale of Outkick to FOX, the high profile saga at ESPN involving Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols or Dave Portnoy’s ongoing feud with Business Insider, but our choice was Betting Brands Go All-In on Sports Media. With DraftKings investing millions in the Dan Le Batard Show and VSiN, and FanDuel committing 30 million per year to Pat McAfee, the sports betting behemoths have shown they’re here to stay and they’re determined to make an impact.

Sports Media Leap of Faith of the Year: Our crew pledged its support to Dan Le Batard and Friends making the jump from ESPN to launch their own company, Meadowlark Media with former ESPN executive John Skipper. Since taking the plunge, Le Batard and company may not have the same reach as they once did, but they’ve found new ways to excel in a rapidly changing sports media environment. Runner ups for this category included WJOX Roundtable taking the same path as Le Batard and launching ‘The Next Round’, and the Midday 180 crew launching OutKick 360 and entering the syndication space.

Radio Play by Play Announcer of the Year: When Kevin Harlan is on the radio, the game just feels bigger. Our crew took notice of it as Harlan received 50% of the total vote. Following him in the category was SF 49ers voice Greg Papa, and NY Mets broadcaster Howie Rose.

TV Play by Play Announcer of the Year: This field was full of top talent, but one name stood above the rest, Al Michaels. The legendary hall of fame announcer (who every network should be trying to hire right now) grabbed 33% of the vote to prevail over CBS’ Jim Nantz. Taking third was FOX Sports’ Joe Buck.

TV Game Analyst of the Year: This was one of the most contested categories we had, and when all was said and done, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth was chosen as the best TV game analyst by our team, pulling in 25% of the total vote. Finishing behind Collinsworth, each with 15% of the vote were FOX Sports’ Troy Aikman and Joel Klatt, and ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy and Dick Vitale.

Sports TV Opinionist of the Year: When it comes to sports debates on television, there’s Stephen A. Smith and then everyone else. The ‘First Take’ king secured a massive 70% of the vote from our team to be recognized as the category winner. If we created another category for best social videos, Stephen A. might win that one too for his Dallas Cowboys postgame videos. I know he’d have my vote.

Sports TV Studio Show of the Year: Though football fans don’t need to be sold on how awesome our winning show is, when Inside The NBA doesn’t stand tall, there’s nothing else you can call it other than an upset. The winner according to our staff by the difference of 1 vote over TNT’s hit NBA program was NFL RedZone. Sunday’s aren’t the same without the fantastic show delivered by Scott Hanson. That’s a true testament to the quality delivered by Hanson and his crew. Finishing in a tie for third was First Take and PTI.

Sports TV Studio Host of the Year: NFL RedZone may have won the Studio Show category, but when it comes to Studio hosts, our crew chose the great Ernie Johnson as the category winner. EJ’s steady influence on Inside The NBA alongside Shaq, Charles and Kenny is what makes it one of the best programs on sports television. In fact, anytime Ernie leads a sports television show, you know you’re watching one of the best at his craft in action.

Sports TV Studio Analyst of the Year: Few possess the ability to inform, entertain, and make an audience react like Charles Barkley. Chuck received 50% of our team’s votes, with runner up ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky earning 20%. Five others tied with 5%.

Sports Radio Social Brand of the Year: WFAN in New York has done a tremendous job creating additional press and conversation due to their well produced video work, audiograms, images, and articles and that was enough to sway our staff by recognizing the NY sports brand as the category winner. Coming in second was 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, followed by a tie between ESPN Chicago and SKOR North.

Sports Betting Brand of the Year: Though the big boys like DraftKings, FanDuel and Penn National have begun investing big in talent and brand partnerships, when it comes to content creation and providing daily interest, the top sports betting brand according to our team was VSiN. With the network pumping out original radio and video content 7 days per week, podcasts produced to satisfy various betting tastes, and video, newsletters, and betting guides created to assist bettors in making smart gambling decisions, VSiN stood above the field to grab 50% of the vote. Coming in second was BetQL followed by OutKick.

Sports Betting Show of the Year: The choice in this category according to our team was ESPN’s Daily Wager. Hosted nightly by Doug Kezirian, DW received 40% of the vote to emerge victorious. Following behind was The Barstool Sports Advisors and Follow The Money.

Sports Betting Talent of the Year: The flood of personalities talking about sports betting on radio, television, social media, and podcasts is endless, but the person who stood out most according to our team was ESPN’s Joe Fortenbaugh. Fortenbaugh secured 25% of the vote to hold off BetQL’s Nick Kostos. A four way tie for third included ‘Big Cat’ Dan Katz, Ariel Epstein, Clay Travis, and Cousin Sal.

Sports Betting App of the Year: This was a tight race, which was won by 1 vote by Caesars. Those emperor ads with the Manning family likely helped. So too did their outstanding incentives to signup. Caesars reeled in 30% of the vote to produce the win. On their heels was FanDuel and DraftKings, each tied with 25% of the vote.

Pro Wrestling Audio Show of the Year: This has quickly become a massive category with a lot of top wrestlers now hosting shows. But for this year, the choice was SiriusXM’s Busted Open featuring Dave La Greca, Bully Ray, Tommy Dreamer and Mark Henry. Next up was Jim Cornette’s podcast ‘The Cult of Cornette’ followed by a three-way tie between Ric Flair’s Woo Nation, 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff, and Talk Is Jericho.

Independent Podcast Company of the Year: Brands with millions flocking to their content in other places tend to do alright generating a podcast audience. But those without built in advantages have to turn over every loose stone to find ways to connect with listeners, attract advertisers, and become a larger part of the mainstream conversation. When it came down to this category, the group our team chose as this year’s winner with 43% of the vote was Locked On Podcasts. Next up was Blue Wire followed by Bleav.

Barrett Blogs

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

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

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

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

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

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Barrett Blogs

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrett Blogs

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

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

Jason Barrett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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