The sports media business has long been fueled by two things: opinions and competition. Those who do this line of work understand that sports radio and television are fun, lucrative, and highly visible industries to work in. That makes them attractive career options to men and women all across the country. You’re expected to consistently bring it, because once you take a day off, let alone an hour, there’ll be someone behind you gunning for your position.
Equally as important is being able to express a strong point of view, operate without fear, and endure the bullets firing in your direction especially if you offer opinions that don’t satisfy the majority. The beauty of opinions is they are a point of view – they are not necessarily facts. Two people can see things differently, each stating their case and supporting their positions with evidence, and they can be right in their initial observations. What decides who’s right and wrong is the result (fact) that follows.
When you examine the weapons at the disposal of an on-air personality it boils down to a few key things: their eyes, ears, mind, voice, personality, and their information and opinions. Those qualities separate great hosts from average ones. Nobody can control the voice their born with or who they are as an individual, but they can use their eyes, ears, and mind to process information and form unique opinions.
In today’s media climate, talent have to work harder than ever to cut thru the clutter. On-air people must possess the skill to make an audience stop, think, and react to what they have to say because competition for the eyes and ears is intense. Featuring people on-air who fill the airwaves with noise and fail to stand out puts brands in position to lose money let alone future listener, reader or viewer support.
But sensitivity is increasing in the media business, especially when uncomfortable opinions are shared. Not everyone is built with thick skin or emotionally equipped to handle the verbal onslaughts that follow when they say or do something that others take issue with, and social media has led many of these issues to be magnified. I was reminded of that this past weekend when Doug Gottlieb took to Twitter to question Maria Taylor’s credentials in the NBA voting process after she left Anthony Davis off her ballot for the NBA’s all-defensive team.
Having worked with Doug during my career, I know he has the ability to get under your skin. He’s good at it. He drove me nuts many times inside the ESPN Radio studios. But I also know he speaks his mind and isn’t afraid to question things that warrant a closer look even if it generates a negative response from others in the business. That’s what a good talent is supposed to do.
What bothered me about the social media response to Doug’s initial tweet was the defensive nature of many in the industry. Rather than stick to what the actual tweet was about, criticism of a decision and questioning if Maria was closely following the NBA after making a glaring error, it turned into ‘he’s a sexist, racist, and should cancel his Twitter account.’
This immaturity and accusatory behavior has to stop. If this is how we’re going to operate every time a personality offers a strong point of view, the future of the sports media business is in big trouble. Disagreement is at the core of everything that matters in the media business. Anyone making a living in this industry should understand that. Players, coaches, and sports executives deal with it from the media on a daily basis, and sometimes industry members end up in the eye of the storm too.
The fact of the matter in this situation is that Maria Taylor turned in her first NBA ballot and failed to recognize one of the best players in the NBA for his defensive excellence. That wasn’t an issue for other voters and observers. Given that it was her first time voting you’d think she’d be even more careful submitting her ballot. She wasn’t though, and that’s why the question was raised. Making it about more than that distracts from the issue at hand, and labels the person raising the question unfairly.
That doesn’t make Maria Taylor any less of a broadcaster or person, it makes her human. For the record, I don’t know Maria personally, but I think she’s excellent on television. I’m not advocating for her voting privileges to be revoked just because she made an error. We all make mistakes, and when you operate in a public industry there are going to be times when you’re called out for them. Heck, Mike Francesa is still criticized for falling asleep on the air 8 years ago for a few seconds despite spending twenty seven and a half hours per week successfully hosting a talk show in the nation’s #1 media market for nearly 30 years. It comes with the territory.
Where I disagreed with Doug was when he suggested hosts shouldn’t vote. When you lump every host into the same boat, you’re leaving no room for exceptions. I agree with Doug that former players, coaches and executives turned analysts pay more attention to the league as a whole than a host running point on a league focused show, but that doesn’t mean every host lacks the ability to stay up on the league. Nor does an honest error suggest that Taylor doesn’t do her homework. By Doug’s own admission in a later tweet, Nick Wright and Ryen Russillo were mentioned as people who host and pay close attention to what’s happening.
What I didn’t understand is why this particular issue set off Doug in the first place. There are media members every year who vote on awards and either screw up or make questionable decisions. It’s nothing new. One could argue that if a television host isn’t qualified to vote on awards due to not watching and studying the league enough then the same criticism should be levied against on-air radio personalities who are charged with discussing the entire world of sports yet can’t possibly watch, read and listen to every single team or game. Doug knows how that can bite you in the ass because his George Kittle take last year was a swing and a miss.
But this is how it should always work. Broadcasters watch, listen, and read things, process the information, and then offer their opinions on them. It’s then up to us to find parts of their commentary to agree and disagree with. Two people can be right or wrong for different reasons, and conversations are more interesting when multiple views are presented. I’m not going to watch Maria Taylor any less on television because of her ballot snafu, and I won’t listen to Doug any less on radio because he thinks hosts shouldn’t vote.
The bigger concern I have is over the difference in responses between people over and under the age of 35-40. I noticed that many of the defensive tweets on social media came from younger folks, the group many refer to as ‘millennialls’. I prefer to call them the ‘social generation’ because they’ve grown up in a world where everything they see and hear exists on a social platform.
Young people in the industry calling for others who share opinions and do the same line of work to be cancelled, quit Twitter or casting labels without knowing who or what someone is like in everyday life is foolish. It also misses the point. That could be YOU the next time you provide a take online or on-air that others disagree with. Is that the precedent you want to set? Do you think silencing discussion and not raising awareness about issues will increase the amount of people who consume your work? Do you want to operate in a sports media world where everything is positive and questioning decisions is off limits? What if teams insisted on that type of treatment? The world of sports would be pretty vanilla.
What some folks lose sight of is that half of your audience think and live differently than you do. You’re not going to change them either. If you only cater to the 50% who see the world the way you do, you’ll one day be sent to the sidelines for not attracting a large enough audience. Disagreeing on sports and the issues that surround them is fine, but calling for people who see things differently and raise awareness to issues that strike a nerve is asinine.
Talent in our industry generate attention from millions of people everyday. Like it or not, your words and actions are monitored. When Stephen A. Smith made a blunder two years ago suggesting Hunter Henry had a favorable matchup against the Chiefs despite being out for the season, he got roasted for it. When Fred Hickman cast the lone MVP vote for Allen Iverson in 1999-2000 denying Shaquille O’Neal a unanimous MVP award and NBA history, he too got ripped.
The criticism Stephen A. and Fred endured had zero to do with their age, race, religion or anything else, it was about their comments and decisions. They took the heat because they knew it was warranted, even if they didn’t like it. It should’ve been the same with this situation except Maria didn’t squash it immediately by saying ‘I messed up’. I realize she was put in an unfair position last week having to deal with unnecessary drama due to Dan McNeil’s tweet, so that could have been a factor in how she responded, but we’ve got to be able to separate one issue from another rather than making it into something it’s not. What Gottlieb tweeted was not the same as what McNeil did.
In the television business, a host often speaks to a camera, pushing content at the audience without viewers having a chance to respond back. In radio and podcasting, the same is true unless the host and producer invite audience interaction via phones, texts or social replies. But Twitter puts every individual in charge of their own content. We speak our minds about various issues on the platform and feedback flies in immediately whether we’ve asked for it or not. Like a moth to a flame, we often check to see what people are saying about our opinions and observations, and it can create tension, hurt feelings, and overreactions that don’t exist in other mediums where feedback is limited and controlled.
Handling the social media noise isn’t easy. We’re all human beings who don’t appreciate when others take shots at our performance. We’ve seen some of that this week with Jason Whitlock taking Taylor, Katie Nolan, and others to task. But this is part of the responsibility that comes with being a public figure. We may not like it when peers, colleagues or competitors criticize and raise awareness to our mistakes or flaws, and some may have different agendas or personal histories that factor into the way criticism is presented, but that doesn’t mean the criticism itself isn’t warranted.
From my vantage point, sports media needs more, not less, personalities offering bold opinions. You may not like what a host has to say sometimes, but we’re all adults with a choice of whether or not to watch, listen, read or follow an individual. We should be encouraging our personalities to share their views without fear, while pushing them to do their homework, defend their positions, and keep things focused on the result rather than making things personal. But if everyone is timid or even worse, cancelled, what will we watch, read, follow or listen to that’s worth our time?
Black Friday Sale TODAY For 2022 BSM Summit Tickets
“BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets will begin at 12:01am ET on Friday November 26th and expire at 11:59pm later that same night.”
There are less than 100 days remaining until the 2022 BSM Summit takes place in New York City. We’ve announced 31 participants for the show so far, and have more to reveal in the weeks and months ahead. I think you’re going to like what’s still to come.
Putting this conference together isn’t easy. It requires months of meetings, brainstorming, promotion, selling sponsorships, pursuing speakers, and creating everything that attendees see on stage over a two day period. I’m thankful to have help from some amazing partners, but as I’ve mentioned previously, this isn’t an event that makes us rich or ends with 5-10 new clients signing up to work with BSM. The goal each year is simple, make sure the conference is valuable for those who attend, and don’t run BSM out of business by doing it. As long as those two things remain solid, it’s worth doing.
Some might wonder, why go thru months of headaches if you’re not going to break the bank or immediately add clients. That’s fair to ask. If you look at it from a pure business standpoint, one could easily make a case that pouring this type of energy into something else could be more lucrative. But money was never the motivation for doing this. I felt the sports media industry lacked a signature event where smart, successful media professionals (who don’t often cross paths) could gather at one location to laugh and learn together, and I wanted to change that. If over a two day period attendees could gain insight, information, ideas, and introductions, it’d put everyone in a stronger position to remain successful.
I’ve unapologetically loved the sports media business since I started listening to Mike & the Mad Dog on WFAN and watching SportsCenter on ESPN. I was fortunate to live and work in a number of cities over the past two decades, learning how different companies and people operate, and I remain involved today thru my work with BSM. I mention this because I also know media people. They tend to wait until the last minute to book hotel rooms, airfare, and purchase tickets, even if they can save money by acting sooner. I know, I used to do it too. I can’t control when you book your room or plane ticket, but I do want to give you an added incentive to buy your ticket to this year’s show. Seating is limited, and once the last seat is filled, that’s it. We can’t make extra room.
With that in mind, most of you are either taking today off or working inside a much quieter building. If you’ve thought about coming to the Summit, take 5-10 minutes to log on to BSMSummit.com to take advantage of our special Black Friday sale. We’ve reduced tickets for the day, so whether you’re planning to attend in NYC or watch the conference online, there’s a discount to help you out. Just $199.99 for live tickets, and $124.99 for virtual.
BSM’s Black Friday sale on Summit tickets expires at 11:59pm tonight. In the meantime, Hotel Edison in NYC is offering rooms for just $109 + taxes to Summit attendees. Click here to take advantage of the special room rate we’ve secured for this year’s show. Those of you planning to fly to NYC for the show, there have been a ton of great deals offered by American, Southwest, United, JetBlue and Frontier. It might be worth checking into today since Black Friday often has even better sales on travel.
If you’re interested in learning more about the industry, staying a step ahead, forming new relationships, strengthening existing ones, exploring potential business deals, and celebrating the business you’re in, I hope you’ll join us either online or in New York City for the 2022 BSM Summit. I’m making it easier on you, by offering lower ticket prices today. The rest is up to you!
Craig Carton, Fred Toucher, Mike Felger To Speak At The 2022 BSM Summit
“Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.”
When you talk to industry people about successful brands in sports talk radio, most conversations include WFAN and 98.5 The Sports Hub. The New York and Boston sports radio brands are consistently recognized for their ability to deliver large audiences and revenues.
Helping to create that success is a mixture of strong play by play partnerships, skilled programmers and even more importantly, some of the most dynamic on-air personalities in the format. Fortunately for us, a few of those gamechangers will be present to share their opinions and insights on content matters in New York City at the 2022 BSM Summit.
Starting in New York, it’s an honor to welcome WFAN afternoon drive host Craig Carton to the 2022 BSM Summit. Heard daily on ‘Carton and Roberts‘ alongside Evan Roberts, which is also featured on TV on SNY, Carton has made his presence felt ever since returning to the airwaves in November 2020. Prior to taking on the challenge in afternoons, Craig spent a decade partnering with Boomer Esiason on ‘Boomer and Carton‘, forming one of the most successful sports radio morning shows in the country. In addition to enjoying success in New York, Craig has also experienced the ups and downs that come with performing in different markets. His radio travels have taken him to Philadelphia, Denver, Buffalo and Trenton, NJ. The Syracuse graduate and outspoken host is expected to join BSM President Jason Barrett for a one on one conversation at this year’s Summit.
Shipping up to Boston, it’s a pleasure to welcome two of the format’s highest rated performers to New York City. They’re heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub in morning and afternoon drive, and at the Summit, they’ll interact together during an in-depth content conversation with BSM President Jason Barrett.
Fred Toucher is one half of the Sports Hub’s popular morning show ‘Toucher & Rich‘, which recently added syndication. The Detroit native started his career in Georgia before moving to Boston in 2005. Toucher & Rich, which includes Rich Shertenlieb, officially moved into the sports talk format in 2009. Since making the format switch, the duo have consistently produced some of the best ratings in the entire format in mornings during the past fifteen years. Toucher & Rich have also been recognized by industry executives as one of the top two morning shows in the format each of the past three years in the BSM Top 20, including taking top honors in 2018.
Mike Felger on the other hand is heard on the ride home alongside Tony Massarotti on The Sports Hub. The Marconi Award-winning afternoon radio show has been a fixture in Boston since the station’s inception in 2009. During the past twelve years, Felger & Mazz have been a steady force atop the Men 25-54 ratings including recently delivering an impressive 18.9 share in the summer book to finish 1st. The Milwaukee native also hosts a show for NBC Boston, and has previously served as a columnist for the Boston Globe. Similar to Toucher & Rich, Felger & Mazz have earned high praise from format execs in the BSM Top 20. They’ve been voted one of the top 2 afternoon shows each of the past 2 years including grabbing the top spot in 2019.
We’re excited to add all three of these men to the lineup for the 2022 BSM Summit. As vital as it may be to spend time on business issues in order to stay ahead of a rapidly changing media climate, without great talent and content, the rest is irrelevant. Few understand what it takes to deliver success in this format consistently like Craig, Fred and Mike, and I’m glad they’re making the time to share their knowledge with us.
To reserve your hotel room, purchase tickets or learn more about the speakers we’ve lined up for the 2022 show, visit BSMSummit.com. We hope to see you online or in New York City this March.
BSM Summit Adds Borrell, Crain, Cutler, Goldstein, Scott, Shapiro & Thomas
“The Summit is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited.”
The 2022 BSM Summit continues to add firepower to the sports media industry’s premier conference. After previously announcing the first twenty one participants to take part in March’s event in New York City, another seven talented media professionals have been added to the speaker schedule.
Making his BSM Summit debut in 2022 will be the media industry’s leading business analyst Gordon Borrell. The well respected and accomplished CEO of Borrell Associates is featured frequently in the trades and mainstream publications for his insights on advertising trends and forecasts in local media. Borrell will join Amplifi Media CEO Steven Goldstein on stage at the Summit for an in-depth discussion on the advertising climate in 2022. The two men will offer insights and opinions on what advertisers value most, where they’re expected to invest future dollars, which categories will continue to rise and decline, and what brands can do to position themselves better to increase revenue. Additionally, Borrell will be hosting his local advertising conference in Miami a few days after the Summit. Those interested in heading to South Beach and learning more about the marketing world can learn more by clicking here.
Switching to the content end, the Summit is thrilled to welcome The Volume’s Jake Crain to New York City. The host of The JBoy Show will also be making his debut at the conference. Crain will be part of a talent panel along with John Jastremski and Kazeem Famuyide.
Also making his debut at the Summit will be Carl Scott. Meadowlark Media’s Executive Director of Audio will join our podcasting panel featuring Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones and The Volume’s Head of Content Logan Swaim. Hubbard Radio’s Digital Content Director Phil Mackey will guide the conversation.
Not everyone participating at the Summit will be new to the audience though. Returning to the stage as part of our GM’s discussion will be newly appointed Audacy Boston Market Manager Mike Thomas. Thomas recently led ESPN 1000 in Chicago as the station’s GM after working with Mark Hannon to turn 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston into one of sports radio’s top performing stations. It should be noted that each time Thomas appears at the Summit it follows a recent promotion. We figure by 2023 or 2024 he’ll be running the entire industry.
A Summit isn’t complete without attention given to programming matters. To help us address some of those key issues, we’re excited to welcome back the Vice President of FOX Sports Radio & Podcasts Scott Shapiro. The passionate network executive who oversees many of the nation’s top national programs is always a great listen for folks interested in learning how programmer’s view and tackle the industry’s most important affairs.
Last but certainly not least, voice talent extraordinaire Jim Cutler will return to the stage to lead a session on storytelling. One of the industry’s prominent station voices and creative minds has a penchant for putting on entertaining and informative sessions. If you’ve attended the conference before, you’re already aware. To those planning to catch this one, you’re in for a treat.
Keep an eye out over the next two weeks. We’ll be making additional announcements involving a few high profile talents we’ve lined up for the 2022 BSM Summit. A reminder, the event is just 104 days away, so if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, please do so. Half of the room is already full and seating for the conference is limited. I realize some folks may prefer to wait until the last minute to make sure the world is safe. If you’re not comfortable flying to NY for the show, we do have an option in place to enjoy the conference virtually thanks to NuVoodoo Media. For more information on tickets, click here.
That said, the in-person environment is excellent. If you haven’t attended the Summit before I think you’ll find the two days in New York City to be time well spent. This conference is not open to the general public. You must either presently work in an area of the media industry or be pursuing a degree in the broadcasting field.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we still have some sponsorship opportunities available for the show. We’re thrilled to have the support of great partners, ESPN Radio, Premiere Networks, FOX Sports Radio, Stone Voiceovers, Compass Media Networks, Point to Point Marketing, and Core Image Studio. If you’d like to be part of the event too, email JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com for additional details.
One final note, airfare is low right now. There are roundtrip flights to and from New York from many major cities for less than $200.00. We’ve also secured a low hotel rate of $109.00 per night at Hotel Edison in NYC to help companies and individuals keep costs down. The sports media industry has endured two years of difficulty due to the pandemic, preventing many from networking, learning, celebrating, and growing. The two days we spend together in the big apple won’t solve every issue facing our business, but I promise you’ll leave the show more informed, more connected, and better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
Hope to see you in New York on March 2nd and 3rd.
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