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2023 BSM Summit – March 21, 2023 (Day 1)

Jason Barrett




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.

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Barrett Blogs

ESPN Has Made It Clear, Radio Is Not a Priority

“What’s unfolding now at the worldwide leader is disheartening because it could have been avoided.”

Jason Barrett




This is not a column I wanted to write. For years, I’ve expressed how much better the industry is when ESPN Radio is healthy. I’ve maintained friendships at the network, the company has supported our BSM Summit, and I reflect fondly on the few years I spent working there earlier in my career. It was a special place to work and I learned a lot about becoming a pro in Bristol.

But this ESPN Radio is not the one that I and many others were fortunate to be a part of under Bruce Gilbert. It is not the one that Traug Keller, Scott Masteller, and other radio-first believers oversaw. This current version lacks radio instincts, focus, passion, and care. That may be an opinion that folks in Bristol, New York, and Los Angeles offices don’t want to hear but the decisions made in recent years make it difficult to see it any other way.

ESPN Radio used to obsess over serving the sports fan, its radio affiliates, and network advertising partners. But serving the company’s television and digital interests is what matters most now. Relationships with radio operators have changed, interest in operating local markets has decreased, and though I’m sure some will defend the network’s interest in satisfying advertising partners, it’s hard to do that a day after the entire national audio sales team was gutted. Thankfully Good Karma Brands is passionate about the audio business and helping their sales efforts. If they weren’t involved, who would be leading the charge in Bristol?

I didn’t start this week planning to drop a truth bomb but as I sat here on Tuesday and fielded text after text and call after call, I couldn’t help but be disappointed and upset. This network has been a staple of the industry for over thirty years. Yet in less than ten it feels they’re closer to turning off the lights than celebrating success. That should not happen when you have the partnerships, history, and talent that ESPN has.

What saddens me is that it didn’t have to reach this point. ESPN Radio had chances to sell in the past to outside parties. They declined. Folks inside of Disney felt the network was worth more. Well, how’s that looking now? If the company wasn’t going to commit to doing it the right way, and was just going to cut its way to the bottom, why stand in the way of others who’d pay to save it? It’s eerily similar to what just happened with Buzzfeed News. The company thought it was better than it was, and within a few years, the whole thing crumbled.

If this were the first time the network looked bad, I’d go easier on them. I understand the business, and sometimes brands or companies make mistakes or have to make difficult choices. It’s why I didn’t bury the network when Mike and Mike ended. Though I knew replacing their stability in mornings would be tough, I felt the network had earned enough clout over the prior years to be given the benefit of the doubt with a new show/lineup. I also applauded the company for replacing Zubin with Max, defended paying Stephen A. Smith top dollar, and supported GetUp! when it was popular to predict the show’s funeral.

But how can leadership in Bristol expect radio operators to trust their decision making at this point? I’ve talked to network executives privately and publicly about these issues for years, and have been told repeatedly that the radio business matters to them and becoming more consistent was a priority. At some point though the actions need to match the words. Unfortunately the only consistency taking place is change, and it often isn’t for the better.

I’ve lost count of the phone calls, texts, emails and direct messages I’ve fielded from PDs, executives, market managers, and ad agency professionals who’ve asked ‘should I be doing business with this network? Can you help me rebrand and redesign my radio station without ESPN Radio?‘ Yesterday alone I took five calls including from two who have expiring deals coming up. Think they’re in a rush to extend a partnership given what’s going on?

If you turn back the clock, some will say that things began to go in the wrong direction when Bruce Gilbert and Dan Patrick left. Though those were big losses, there was still a lot of confidence across the industry in ESPN Radio after they left. The early signs of issues at the network really started in 2014. That’s when Scott Masteller and Scott Shapiro departed. Masteller went on to program WBAL in Baltimore, and Shapiro teamed up with Don Martin to strengthen FOX Sports Radio.

Fast forward to 2020, and the heart and soul of the network, Traug Keller retired. Traug had more in the tank when he signed off, and when I talked to him prior to his exit, he denied being forced out or having concerns about the future direction of the network. Those who know Traug, know that’s he’s a class act and not one to air dirty laundry. But I also know he’s smart. As I look back now, I can’t help but wonder if he knew the ship was headed for an iceberg. I have no doubt that the network would be in better shape today if he were still there.

After Traug’s exit, a year later, Tim McCarthy was let go in New York. The network even cut ties with longtime voice talents Jim and Dawn Cutler, though they stayed on the company’s top stations in NY and LA.

Though I hated to see all of them go because they were good at their jobs and valuable to the network, the one that made a little more sense was Tim’s exit because that had more to do with Good Karma taking over in New York. Tim has since landed with the Broadcasters Foundation of America, and Vinny DiMarco is now leading 98.7 ESPN NY, and I’m a fan of both men.

But now here we are in 2023, and once again, the folks being shown the door are the people who dedicated their lives to radio. Among the casualties, Scott McCarthy, the network’s SVP of Audio, Pete Gianesini, Senior Director of Digital Audio, Louise Cornetta, Digital Audio Program Director, and two good local sports radio programmers, Ryan Hurley at 98.7 ESPN NY, and Amanda Brown at ESPN LA 710. All of them good, talented people with track records of success in the format. I struggle to explain how ESPN Radio is better today without them.

By the way, I haven’t even touched the talent department yet. But let’s go there next.

In less than eight years, ESPN Radio’s morning show has featured Mike & Mike, Golic & Wingo (Mike Golic Jr. and Jason Fitz were added as contributing voices), Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin, and Keyshawn, JWill and Max. Middays have included Colin Cowherd, Dan Le Batard and Stugotz, Scott Van Pelt, Ryen Russillo, Danny Kanell, Will Cain, Mike Greenberg, Jason Fitz, Stephen A. Smith, Bart & Hahn, and Fitz and Harry Douglas. Afternoons have been a combination of Le Batard and Stugotz, Bomani Jones, Jalen & Jacoby, Golic Jr. & Chiney, Canty & Golic Jr. & Canty and Carlin. I could run down the changes at night too, but you get the picture.

As a former programmer and current consultant, I know that radio is a relationship listen and investment. You can’t build an audience and attract sponsor support for talent and shows if the product constantly changes. Most PDs or executives who make this many changes during a short period of time, usually aren’t around very long. Yet ESPN has allowed this to continue, which leaves me to question how much they value their radio network.

Look, I’m sure this is a tough week for those in management at ESPN. Having to tell folks they’re not being retained and watch friends say goodbye is a crummy part of the job. I’m sure some have even fought to try and avoid this bloodbath. But when the news comes down from up above that 7,000 jobs are being eliminated, it’s not a question of whether or not people are talented and valuable, it’s simply about the bottom line. I feel for the folks at ESPN who have to deliver the bad news this week but also for those who are staying and now have limited support around them to make a difference.

By decimating the radio department there are now bigger questions to be answered by Jimmy, Burke, Dave, Norby and the rest of the management team. How much does ESPN value the radio business and the stations they’re in business with? If most of the people who’ve built relationships with local stations are gone, talented programmers are being ousted, talent changes happen far too frequently, and the company becomes less involved in local markets, why is anyone to believe this space matters to ESPN? What exactly are stations gaining from partnerships besides the use of four letters and the opportunity to air play by play events?

The network expects these stations to provide them with inventory, rights fees, branding, promotion, and clearance of certain programs so isn’t it fair of stations to have expectations of the network too? Don’t radio network partners deserve consistent quality programming, relationships with managers who prioritize audio, and less negative PR?

Most who I talk to about this situation believe the network’s glory days are gone. That’s fine. Just because this isn’t the ESPN Radio of 2005 doesn’t mean it can’t be great. The product exists now to primarily serve mid to small market operators who can’t afford local content, major market stations who don’t want to spend on evening and overnight shows, and company owned stations that can be utilized to promote the company’s digital and television content. ESPN does gain value for their radio shows on TV and podcast platforms, but those benefit the company much more than their radio partners.

The general feeling in industry circles is that FOX Sports Radio now delivers the best national radio product, CBS Sports Radio has better consistency but similar east coast content issues, and others don’t have strong enough brand recognition or content to justify a change. If sports betting continues to gain mainstream acceptance and bring cash into the marketplace, that could help outlets like VSiN, BetQL, and SportsGrid gain greater traction. If Outkick gets more aggressive with offering content to local markets, especially in the south and Midwest, that could be another interesting option.

The bigger question is whether there’s enough audience, revenue, and excitement for national content in today’s sports radio space. If most major markets are focused on local, is there enough out there in rural America to keep networks excited?

I do know that just ten years ago CBS Radio entered the space because they saw value in it. NBC Sports Radio leaped in too. FOX Sports Radio went all-in for Colin Cowherd, and ESPN Radio was healthy. Even SiriusXM continues to expand its national offerings, and three sports betting networks saw value in pursuing national distribution. It’s hard to convince me that there isn’t financial upside for national sports radio brands in today’s media environment. It may not be a big ratings play but from a business standpoint there is value.

What’s unfolding now at the worldwide leader is disheartening because it could have been avoided. Instead, brands have been damaged, relationships changed, jobs lost, and questions raised about future viability.

If the world’s leading sports operator values radio, they’ll prioritize restoring confidence across the industry. A good start would be putting people in place who champion radio’s future, and make decisions that best serve the radio brands carrying their product. If they can’t do that, then maybe it’s time to step aside, and let someone else try. I know a few groups who’d be happy to take a shot at restoring the network’s pride.

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Barrett Blogs

Radio Must Bring Back The Fun

“The promotions you’re creating are not producing massive recall across the format, national media attention or revenues that change the fate of your next quarter.”

Jason Barrett




Five and a half days in Las Vegas can feel like an eternity. Especially when you’re in town for business not pleasure. But though I’d rather sleep in my own bed, eat at home, and avoid walking from convention hall to convention hall, I’m glad I made the trip because the NAB Show delivered. 

Many media members have attended this event over the years, and it’s easy to come up with reasons not to attend. Budgets are tight, you can’t afford to be out of the office, or you think it isn’t beneficial. That’s where I’ll take exception. If you can’t find something of value at a five-day event that exists to serve broadcasters and brands, that’s on you, not the conference.  

Over the past few days, I did what many do and took necessary business meetings at Encore, but I also listened to speakers offer valuable insights on artificial intelligence, marketing, programming, technology, dashboard connectivity, the future of AM radio, and more. All of these are subjects that should matter to media professionals. Having Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso star Roy Kent) on hand to talk about content creation was an added bonus. 

As I spent my final hour inside the North Hall on Wednesday, I couldn’t help but think about how large this event is, what goes into creating it, and how many different industries and brands are represented at it. What the NAB does to make this event possible for sixty-five thousand plus is amazing, and I commend all involved because it truly is informative, and it helps bring together business leaders and brands to help move our industry forward. 

There were many takeaways from the conference sessions, but one in particular stood out. I thought Mike McVay’s session with J.D. Crowley and Paul Suchman of Audacy was excellent. Crowley’s insights on listener choice, distribution, and personalization were spot on, and I was very impressed with Suchman’s feedback on some of the behavior testing Audacy has done to learn how consumers respond to different types of content and messaging.

Crowley’s final message about people in the audio industry needing to be proud of the business they’re in was easy for me to relate to because I feel similarly. This is a great business to be in. I get tired of hearing folks in and out of the industry tear it down. So much attention gets placed on who exceeded revenue goals, what a brand’s ratings were, and what a company’s stock price is, losing sight of the more important part, our brands, personalities, and content, and the way they’re received by those who consume it.

Additionally, I was honored to speak about the growth of BSM and BNM. Joe D’Angelo of Xperi and Pierre Bouvard of Cumulus Media treated folks to information on advertising and in-car data, and Erica Farber, Tim Bronsil, and Mary DelGrande did a nice job guiding multiple business conversations. I also enjoyed stopping by the Veritone booth and learning about their products and staff. My only regret, I missed Buzz Knight’s session with Nielsen’s new audio team due to a business meeting running long. Thankfully Inside Radio put together a detailed recap of what was discussed. 

But what I want to draw attention to most is something Dan Mason said on stage during his acceptance speech when receiving the Lowry Mays Award at the Broadcasters Foundation of America breakfast. It’s something I raised at last month’s BSM Summit. 

After sharing how local is a key differentiator in helping radio stand apart from other forms of media, and reminding everyone about the importance of longevity, Mason said that radio has to get back to having fun. He shared a story of a promotion he was part of in the 1970’s that wouldn’t fly today. It was a short people’s convention that included six-ounce drinks, pigs in a blanket, and strawberry shortcake. The event put his radio station on NBC Nightly News, and created a ton of buzz.  

Just because that type of event wouldn’t work in 2023, doesn’t mean others can’t. We have got to create special events that produce national attention, local market interest, and fear of missing out spending. This is what radio is supposed to be exceptional at yet it doesn’t happen enough.  

At our Summit in LA, I asked three PD’s to share with me the one promotion in sports radio today that they viewed as a killer event. It wasn’t an easy one to answer. In fact, two referenced WIP’s Wing Bowl, which ended in 2018. Had I asked five or six other PD’s, they’d have likely been in the same boat, struggling to name three or four killer events. 

I mentioned how the Mandy Awards at 710 ESPN in Los Angeles stood out, but this format should be able to deliver more than one standout promotion. I realize there are stations doing promotional events, and if they’re helping you produce revenue, great. I’m not telling you to abandon that strategy. But I will challenge you if you try to tell me sports radio’s report card on promotions in 2023 is superb. It is not.

One gentleman I listened to during the week who was attending a session shared one reason why this is the case. He was asked about creating ideas and said ‘we use a committee to brainstorm and find that sometimes the best ideas come from different departments, in fact, our last successful event was the idea of our engineer.’ 

I’m all for collaboration, and if you’re creating events that satisfy your goals, continue doing it. I’m not here to rain on your parade. But let me share an opinion some may view as unpopular. If the best ideas in your organization are coming from departments other than programming, you have a problem.

The program director and talent are supposed to be the people you turn to for leadership, ideas, passion, creativity, and execution. They’re supposed to be able to think of things that others can’t. Do you think Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino would turn over the direction of their next film to others inside their companies? Imagine the focus of Ted Lasso’s next episode being decided by someone other than Jason Sudeikis, Brett Goldstein, and the rest of their writing team. You’d be wasting the talent of your best storytellers.

Radio companies pay premium dollars for elite programmers and hosts because they’re supposed to be able to bring things to life that only exists inside their brains. If your HR or engineering department are creating the station’s best promotions, you don’t have enough creativity coming from your programming team. That could be due to having a PD who lacks ideas and vision or it could be the result of the way your creative process is structured.

One of the things I enjoyed most as a PD was coming up with ideas that created buzz, ratings, and revenue. My job was to think and execute BIG, and whether it was Lucky Break in San Francisco, Stand For Stan at 101 ESPN in St. Louis, the Golden Ticket at 590 The Fan in St. Louis, the 20 in 20 tour or Goodbye Roast at 95.7 The Game or the Gridiron Gala in both cities, we produced buzz, grew ratings, and made money. If we did something and it failed, that was ok. I’d rather swing and miss than be afraid to try. I took that responsibility seriously, and feel that when you’re making calls by committee, you’re not allowing your best people to do what they’re best suited to do. 

Case in point, I attended Boomer & Gio Live in Jersey City, NJ a few weeks ago. It was a fun event with a lot of different things going on. WFAN’s PD Spike Eskin worked the event on stage, and if you recall, the station made national news when Jets GM Joe Douglas said that Aaron Rodgers would end up in New York. There were multiple sales activations included throughout the show, and much of the fun content that took place on stage came from the creators. Because the FAN crew were allowed to do what they do best, the station produced a successful event. Had that been an ‘all departments contribute’ approach, it’d have not been the same show. 

What Dan Mason said in Las Vegas was accurate. Radio has to get back to having fun but it also has to be unafraid to take risks. I fear that we worry so much about the ‘what ifs’ and the potential noise on social media that we’re killing creativity, and the next big idea.

If I asked you to list five GREAT sports radio promotions today, could you? And I’m not talking about golf tournaments, charitable bowling events, host debates or bar remotes. If I ask this same question in five years and we’re in the same spot, that’s going to say a lot about where we are as an industry. We have to excite ourselves, our listeners, and our advertisers because when we showcase our creativity in a way that no other medium can, we make a statement, which results in increased attention, and financial investment.  

Some of that creative spirit is still alive. You see it in Boston with WEEI’s Jimmy Fund Telethon, and if you attended the Michael Kay Show 20-year anniversary special or Barstool’s Upfront, you saw what great planning, and execution looks like. But I also remember The Fanatic’s Celebrity Week, The Millen Man March in Detroit, Ticketfest in Dallas, Wing Bowl in Philadelphia, and 790 The Zone in Atlanta becoming a national sensation by creating multiple home run events.

I don’t believe enough brands today create events that deliver meaningful impact. Yet they’re needed. When done right, brands ascend to a different level. Sports radio has too many sharp, creative minds to not be creating the biggest and most successful promotions in all of media. If you work in programming and your station isn’t producing promotions that generate recall across the format, national media attention or revenues that change the fate of your next quarter, it’s time to step up your game. If you don’t, the interns, street team, and receptionist may soon be deciding the future direction of your brand’s promotional strategy.

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Barrett Blogs

Reflecting on the 2023 BSM Summit

“Barrett Media president Jason Barrett reflects on last week’s BSM Summit in Los Angeles.”

Jason Barrett




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

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!

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