BSM Summit – Day 1

We are in Los Angeles for Day 1 of the 2019 BSM Summit. Over 60 speakers are scheduled to take the stage over this two-day event, and more than 130 media professionals have invaded The Grammy Museum to gain new ideas, insights, and information from the brightest minds in sports media.

BSM would like to extend a special thank you to its corporate partners for the 2019 BSM Summit: Premiere Radio Networks, ESPN, Hubbard Radio, PodcastOne, Compass Media Networks, Harker Research, and Benztown Branding.

We will continue updating this blog throughout the first day of the conference. You will notice the full schedule is laid out below. As each session concludes we will pass along the key notes and quotes that industry folks will gain the greatest value from.

9:00AM – Opening Remarks

Jason Barrett – President, Barrett Sports Media

Jason welcomes the speakers and attendees to the second annual BSM Summit, and emphasizes the need to grow the sports radio format. What the next 2 days will provide is an abundance of ideas and information which he hopes will be valuable to station leaders in further elevating the performance of their brands.

9:10AM-9:40AM – The Past, Present & Future of Sports Radio

Presented By:

Don Martin – SVP of FOX Sports Radio

Anything that takes the audience away from us is our competition.  The industry needs to work together rather than only focus on beating each other.

My ratings are only there to drive revenue, but if we’re going after the younger audience, we need to acknowledge they’re not only listening on terrestrial radio anymore. If we’re going to reach the masses with a play-by-play broadcast, we need to find them on different platforms, not just AM radio.

We need to go younger, find gender equity and get more diverse. Teams still need to be on radio for Generation X, but you need to grow other platforms for the Millennial’s because one day, all teams will be digital, and not on terrestrial radio.

Mitch Rosen – PD of 670 The Score
Mitch wakes up in the morning asking what can we do better, how can we be better than our local competition? We can have 15 – 20,000 listeners through steaming, but that doesn’t matter to Nielsen.

For the industry to advance we need to move in the direction of TLR, Total Line Reporting. In order to have a successful sports radio station, you need a play-by-play team. The Cubs have been great for The Score and won a championship their first year on the station, but there are times you need to be more creative on the broadcast.

Dan Zampillo – ESPN LA 710 Operations Manager

Dan wants the most amount of people listening for the longest amount of time. Everything that takes the audience away from us is competition. We can’t be narrow with our content. Is what we’re doing on-air going to get the largest audience?

The entertainment value for play-by-play has to be there. Story-telling, personality, and being entertaining is still vital. Getting the nuts and bolts of play-by-play is important, but it still comes back to relating to people, and being funny and personable.

9:40AM-10:10AM – Programming Strategies For a Changing World

Warren Kurtzman –  President, Coleman Insights

Outside thinkers like radio, they use radio, but they don’t care about it in the grand scheme of their lives. They might not notice a change to the station’s lineup. Inside thinkers will notice every change.

The hierarchy of radio is selecting music or talk, personality, specialty programming, contests, marketing, news and community. What combination of sports should you be talking about, what teams generate listeners, what role should niche sports play?

Finding the brand essence of your station is critical, are you straight sports talk? Or is your station more personality driven. Finding balance is the art of programming, you can have content, but is it right for your branding?

Based on research, breaking sports news is the most important thing listeners want from their local radio station.

Research in a select market showed more than half of listeners gamble on sports, even if it’s a small amount. If gambling was legalized in their state, 31% said they would gamble more. About half of the listeners said they do not want to hear hosts talking about gambling.

A study in a select market showed more than half of the audience was not interested in hearing about esports, but 43% expressed interest in attending an esports event.

10:10AM-10:45AM – The Rise of Voice and Podcasting

Steven Goldstein – CEO, Amplifi Media

Goldstein’s 20-year old son loves sports, as do his friends, they listen to Barstool and podcasts, they’re not aware of the local terrestrial sports radio shows.

Radios are no longer in homes, people have smart speakers and other ways to listen to digital programming easily, which might include your radio station, but it also includes hundreds of thousands other stations and podcasts.

One in four Americans listen to podcasts. The medium age of podcast listeners is 34, the medium age for AM/FM listening is 46. ESPN’s podcast medium is 13 years younger than it’s broadcast medium.

Maybe eSports isn’t ready for an hour of content on a sports radio station, but it might be perfect for a podcast. That’s the type of brand-extension everyone in this room should be thinking about.

Downloads of your show might look great, but 100,000 downloads in one month can translate to just 1,650 extra listeners.

Young listeners expect audio on demand. If they listen to audio on their iPhone and your audio is not there, you’re losing a potential audience. It needs to be on demand and easy to access, they don’t want to download your specific app.

10:45AM-11:15AM – Remaining Relevant

Moderated by Brian Long – PD, XTRA Sports 1360/News Radio 600 KOGO

Steve Mason – Midday Host, ESPN LA 710

Our show from years ago would be unrecognizable to what it is today. We used to be very guest heavy, about three years ago our boss challenged us to do a show with no guests and no calls. The show is about the hosts, people want to know how we are going to react to things. It’s more work to do the show this way, but the show has developed to where we now rarely take calls or have guests.

Coming out as gay was not a big deal. Steve didn’t want it to be a big deal. “I don’t want to be the gay sports talk show host, I want to be the sports talk show host who happens to be gay.” Mason said he felt left out, John gets to talk about his wife and family and that was absent from Mason on-air. Mason had been with his partner for 13 years and thought it was time to be completely authentic. As much as Twitter can be an ugly place, Mason said he never received a negative comment after coming out.

John Ireland – Midday Host, ESPN LA 710

In terms of being an employee of the Lakers as their play-by-play voice, there are things I can’t say, but Steve can still say anything. He can make a point that if I said it, I would get a phone call.

One of the by-products of Steve coming out was we realized it was not a big deal. I knew he was gay, I encouraged him to come out a lot earlier than he did, but it had to feel right for him, Steve and his partner had to be comfortable with it. But I was happy for him.

11:15AM-11:50AM – Audio’s Path to Digital Dollars

Presented By:

Norm Pattiz – Chairman, PodcastOne

Norm discussed PodcastOne’s relationship with Hubbard. He says that Hubbard does a great job of selling podcast performance to their clients, but admits the program is only in beta right now.

He sees the growth of the podcasting industry as “remarkably similar” to syndicated radio. “First we evangelize then we strategize.”

He tells the story of the creation of Podcast One. It was born at a Laker game, because his season tickets are next to Ari Emmanuel’s. After the pitch meeting with Ari’s company, other agents started calling him to learn more about the idea. They instantly recognized the value of having their clients own their own media.

Patrick Polking –  ESPN Radio

Patrick notes that ESPN’s audience for its podcasting is the youngest segment of its audience. He notes that the audience for podcasts is coming from all over ESPN.

He is asked about a paid model for podcasts. Patrick says that if ESPN were to charge $1 every time someone wanted to download Le Batard that the podcast would make more money, but that wouldn’t serve ESPN’s overall goals. They’d also make more money operating the way they do now.

Matt Kramer – Agent, CAA Sports

Matt builds on the idea that his clients see value in owning their own media. He says that his clients tend to notice more when someone on the street stops them to say they like the client’s podcast than to say “I saw you on ESPN last night.”

Kelli Hurley – VP, Digital Sales, Westwood One

Kelli discusses the appeal of podcasting to talent. She says that it is great to have so many big names interested in the industry, but the people that succeed are the ones that understand what an intimate medium it is and that they have to create a personal connection with their listeners.

When asked about the conversion rate for advertising dollars on a podcast, Kelli notes that podcasters are influencers. Their audience trusts them and their recommendations.

Evan Cohen – VP of Content, Good Karma Brands

Evan discusses Good Karma’s TheLandOnDemand.com, a local subscription site that supplements ESPN 850 in Cleveland. He says that it has served the company in a number of ways. Not only is it something of a farm system to groom young talent, it also creates a new bonus revenue stream for talent who’s digital content performs well.

11:50AM-12:20PM – The Jeff Smulyan Award Presentation

Presented By: 

Rick Cummings – President, Programming, Emmis Communications

Rick admitted he thought Jeff’s idea of an all-sports radio station was a bad idea and for the first 18 months it was. But Don Imus joined the station’s morning show, Mike Francesa and Christopher Russo were added to the afternoons, and FAN turned into a major success story.

Rick has been with Jeff at Emmis for 38 years and notes, you don’t stay with somebody for 38 years because of the paycheck, you stay because you believe.

Jeff Smulyan – CEO, Emmis Communications

“I’m glad this award is named in my honor and not my memory. About a mile and a half from The Grammy Museum is where the idea for sports radio came about. It took place at USC where Jeff was attending.

The line between being a genius and an idiot is very fine. When FAN was losing money Jeff was an idiot, but here we are decades later and he’s seen as a genius.

Jeff said he never expected sports radio to get as big as it is today. He’s glad it has and is honored to have an award named in his honor and for Kraig Kitchin to be its first recipient.

Kraig Kitchin – CEO, SoundMind/Chairman, National Radio HOF

We all owe a great bit of gratitude to Jeff for creating the format. We should not be pointing our guns at each other, but we should point them out and work together to as an industry grow and improve. The success of Premiere was due to the hard work of a lot of people. Kraig says he’s thrilled to have been a small part of it.

1:30PM-2:05PM – The Conversation with Colin Cowherd

Colin Cowherd – FOX Sports Radio/FOX Sports 1

Colin says he doesn’t think he’s any different than anybody in this room that loves what they do. If you have to tell someone to do something, then it’s not for them. He decided when he was 8 years old that he wanted to be the next Howard Cosell.

Colin says he likes to listen to different radio shows on his way into work for about 20 minutes. Evan Cohen’s program on SiriusXM is one of the shows he turns to, He also thinks Joe Fortenbaugh is very talented. Colin isn’t listening for their takes, he is interested in their topics. Whatever he feels really confident about or if he has something funny to add, that’s what he’ll lead with, even if it’s not the biggest topic.

Colin points out that he used to be more fear based, wanting to prove people wrong. Now he’s more joy based. He acknowledged that he was hard to work for and hard to work with, now he’s more secure and likes to help other people, especially upcoming broadcasters.

About once a year, he’ll stare at the camera and say “Oh for God’s sake, I have nothing to say, and three minutes left to go.” In radio, you can get stuck and push through it and at ESPN I did a radio show that was put on TV, but now he’s in a TV studio performing for the camera where it forces him to think about the TV audience.

Colin says he’s not in the radio or TV business, he’s in the interesting business. His goal is to be interesting. He’ll try to get it right, but isn’t as worried about if he is or isn’t right. His mother used to tell him, “you know when I really like your show? When you’re not talking sports.” I try to appeal to my mom and not just the sports fan.

His views on podcasting are that it’s a solid space, but it’s tough to monetize. He doesn’t think you can put podcasting behind a paywall. Anybody can have a podcast, but 95% of them don’t make money.

Jason Barrett notes that Cowherd created his own podcast network and has a few shows hosted by people he thinks are talented, Barrett asks how do those podcasts get to the next level? “Hell if I know” added Cowherd.

I’m never loyal to a sport or platform, I’m loyal to my audience. I love college football, it’s my favorite sport. I dropped my college football content by 50% this year because Alabama and Clemson are too regional.

My preparation is why I’m here. My voice isn’t great, there are people in this room that know more sports than I do. I know enough about sports, but my preparation is what makes me successful.

Do not produce your show through Twitter, it’s a fun house mirror as Clay Travis said. Believe in yourself, believe in your prep, believe in your homework. Do not let social media produce your show. Trust yourself, trust your gut. We laugh at social media, we mock it, we never produce our show through social media.

2:05PM-2:40PM – How eSports Fits Into Sports Media

Moderated by Arash Markazi – Columnist/Enterprise Reporter, Los Angeles Times

Ari Segal – CEO, Immortals
When you understand and see the fans’ passion for esports you get it and that’s what traditional sports owners such as the Kroenke’s, Mr. Kraft and the Wilpon’s are seeing when they invest in the industry. There is a generation of sports fans who never threw a ball in their backyard, who never wore a Montana, Elway or Brady jersey. If you go to an event, you see that generation of fans wearing an esports jersey and it’s something they might have never done before.

Jared Jeffries – President, Echo Fox
Everything has to be quick, if the esports audience is just talked at, they’re out. Sports radio can lose esports fans very quickly.

Daniel Cherry – CMO, Activision Blizzard
You need to think about the business model, I think you will see esports covered by one group and picked up by other outlets similar to the AP format. Delivering the right content to the right person at the right time will be the key. The sports talk radio format is very much people giving takes and every once in awhile having people respond. We need to make the sports radio experience more communal, esports fans want to be participating and engaging, not be spoken too.

Sebastian Park -VP of eSports, Houston Rockets/Clutch Gaming
Don’t be afraid to jump in, ask questions and research esports just like you would any other sport. I don’t know if the industry works on sports radio right now, but podcasts have done really well in merging sports radio listeners and esports fans.

2:40PM-3:10PM – Women In Sports Media: The Road Less Traveled

Debbie Spander – Agent, Wasserman Media
A lot of program directors are scared because their audience is mostly men, but they need to view women as a voice, not just as a woman. We haven’t seen a good number of women moving into larger roles. Radio is a great format for women. The goal isn’t to be on TV anymore, the goal is to be in media, to have your voice heard and be consumed.It’s interesting that TV, a more modern media form, hired women much sooner than radio, an older form of media. It’s frustrating that radio isn’t more open minded about who can speak to their audiences.Women want to have an opinion, they want to talk mainstream sports.

Amanda Gifford – Coordinating Producer II, ESPN
It’s an evolution, and maybe 10 years ago women didn’t look at this space as something they wanted to pursue, but as they see other women in the industry, now they look at it as a viable career space. Whether it’s male or female, for sports radio you have to love the format.

Lindsay McCormick – Host, Entrepreneur
Now more than ever we can create our own opportunities. With YouTube, podcasts and different platforms, you can create your own content. Radio can be a very useful tool, it can help you hone your interview and debate skills. If you dismiss that than you’re saying the only think you have to offer is your looks.We assume all of management is male, but there are several female higher-ups in the industry as well. I’ve had males take me under their wing, but if you’re a female not hiring other women then shame on you.

Julie Stewart-Binks – Host, ESPN LA 710
ESPN has done such a good job of promoting personalities. I was doing updates, but knew I wanted more than just 10 seconds. I knew if I worked hard, chipped away and showed people I can do this, I could show my personality and do more than be an anchor and reporter. It’s important for program directors and management to leave their door open. Treat us all the same way, don’t look at women as only being a sideline reporter, I don’t feel good about a role like that, I want to show my personality.

3:10PM-3:45PM – Inside vs. Outside Thinking (The PD’s Perspective)

Presented By:

Moderated by Jason Dixon – Director, Sports Programming, SiriusXM

Justin Craig – Sr. Director, Programming & Operations, ESPN Radio
When we put Trey Wingo on it was someone who was doing TV for 20 years, not radio.  Right away he had to realize there is no more visual fonting, he has a radio audience and we had to use an outside approach to think like a listener. I have multiple listening sessions on a daily and weekly basis, we don’t start at the beginning, we start listening in the middle because that’s what our audience does, they don’t listen from beginning to end, we have to think like they do.

Ryan Hatch – VP, Programming, Arizona Sports 98.7/KTAR
The only thing that matters is how you’re serving the audience for what they want right there and then. I think you need to spend a lot less time on the Nielsen side. We have months where our stream is larger than our terrestrial audience, I think it’s going to be less and less looking at Nielsen ratings moving forward.

Scott Shapiro – VP of Programming, FOX Sports Radio
We think this content will fill a segment and this will fit in a market, but we need to think about the audience and make programming decisions based on what the audience wants. Make your imaging promos sound like the audience, if you’re in a diverse market, the imaging should reflect that.Ultimately we’re looking to grow our audience by having the best talent with the most thought-provoking opinions.

Chris Kinard – PD, 106.7 The Fan
It’s not a four hour movie that the audience sits down and consumes from beginning to end. They listen for 20 minutes at a time, they don’t necessarily listen everyday. You need to think about the real world. People are in and out of their car or listening on their phone doing other things at the same time. If we’re starting a sports radio station today, we don’t need a big promotional team and multiple cars, we need a larger digital team. We need to hire update anchors that are social media people, why would you pay someone to sit there for 30 minutes to produce a 60 second update? We have to make tough decisions moving forward, AM/FM is still important, but we need to be creative in how we run our business. I can reach more people sending a Tweet myself than my promotional team can.As a programmer, going on sales calls is still important. You need to be involved in the process to make sure advertisers are reaching your audience.

3:45PM-4:20PM – The New Frontier of Sports Media

Joe Fortenbaugh – Host, 95.7 The Game/The Sharp 600 Podcast

The entire sports gambling industry is moving towards in-game bets. The radio industry in particular has to innovate to keep up.

Brian Musburger – Co-Founder/Chairman, VSiN

The demos for VSIN are largely split amongst ages, but are overwhelmingly male. They strive to have credibility with people that follow algorithms, but they recognize the need to teach people how to gamble.

Picks are the least interesting part of a sports betting conversation. VSIN prefers to focus on the guys setting the line and find out why the number is what it is. By following the factors that move the numbers, you are creating analysis.

The leagues’ positions on gambling will continue to evolve. Veiled references will continue to exist on game broadcasts, but the traditional broadcast will always be for a general audience. This will lead to more alternate feeds of the biggest leagues and games.

Chad Millman – Head of Media, The Action Network

Action’s users are largely male and young. They put a major emphasis on how they present their content digitally. Right now most of their users are hardcore bettors, but they are finding the casual gaming audience is growing.

All anyone really wants are picks. Most people ask their personalities “who do you like.” The context and the analysis are important, but the pick is the main course. People don’t care if you aren’t going to make a pick.

In game betting has a major effect on the punditry effects of what The Action Network does. It makes the pregame bet feel irrelevant.

Kip Levin – President/COO, FanDuel

You have to give an audience the feeling they can get an edge. You can do that with both picks and analysis, but you need to offer diverse information. 

With TVG, FanDuel aimed to create a Bloomberg or CNBC style show for sports gambling. The ratings climbed every week of the NFL season.

Fan Duel isn’t advertising around content. They value audiences and geography when looking for radio partners.

4:20PM-4:55PM – The Jungle of Sports Radio

Jim Rome – Host, CBS Sports Radio/CBS Sports Network
Sports radio is a job, but it’s a great job and I’m going to do this as long as I can. When I went to college there was no internet, there was no sports radio format, there was FAN and that’s it. I asked myself, why me over everyone else who wants this job, and I realized the answer is I will never give in.

When I started, I was in market 174. I wanted to get to a major market and I ended up going to San Diego. From there, we started syndicating the show and it wasn’t with a big company, we were knocking on doors trying to get other stations to pick up the show. It was two stations, then four, eight and so on. Every time I entered a new market, I started talking about their local sports because I never went directly from local to national, it was a gradual transition. Now, with 200 markets I can’t do that.

Jim is trying to find transcendent topics, and says he means what he says and says what he means. He’s not looking for just the hot topic, because the audience can tell when something isn’t genuine.

We get a lot of feedback, from listeners and management, even my wife will text me to say “are you sure you want to be saying that?” I want to make sure I’m relevant and making an impact.

You better have thick skin in the industry, not everyone’s going to be happy to see you. I didn’t set out to be polarizing, but I learned early on that the people that like me seem to really like me and the people that don’t like me seem to really hate my guts.

I need people around me with opinions, that can make the show better and sometimes I’ll take those opinions and say you’re right let’s do that, other times I’ll take those opinions and say no, we’re doing it this way. We don’t need to knock heads everyday, but I want people around me with opinions that can stand their ground.

I can not tell you how important it was to get to San Diego. When I was in market 174 I was killing myself trying to get to a large market. I was writing to radio stations daily, so when San Diego gave me that break it meant everything and they will always be special to me. I’m still not in every market I need to be in, and I want to get in those markets. I’m still knocking down those doors because I’m really hungry to get there. I love the grind, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I want more.

I like the digital platform. I’m able to do certain things on my podcast that I can’t do on my terrestrial show. I can have different guests on my podcasts and do long-form interviews. I want to try different things and the digital space is good for that.

Regarding a potential subscription based platform – If I’m going to offer something that I’m charging for, what am I giving the audience that they can’t already get for free?

I should listen to other shows more than I do, but I’m not that smart, I work really hard on my show. I’m getting in at 6 for a show that starts at 9 and then I’m working at night. I’m really locked in to what I need to do for my own show.

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