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The Recipe for Success: Work Really Hard

The mantra ‘nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get’ is one that is particularly resonant in the wake of a pandemic, furloughs and job losses.

Chrissy Paradis

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Photo by Crowd Expedition CC BY-ND 2.0.

One of the most memorable moments and lessons that I have learned during my career came from the great Conan O’Brien’s farewell from The Tonight Show.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a part of the team that worked on the first show, watching Conan’s cold open to the show, seeing Pearl Jam rehearse “Got Some” to perfection from the control room before the first show aired, listen to William Shatner practice voicing special elements for segments, watch Tom Hanks humbly arriving early to practice the blocking for a stunt that would take place during the second show, meet Snoop Dogg as he brought his custom Lakers themed car “Magic” named after Magic Johnson to the set and so many more.

Ultimately, it was a pretty sad day when Conan’s final show aired months later. His advice is something I carried with me and still to this day try to apply to my life, both on a personal and professional basis. Filled with humility and gratitude, Conan shared his recipe for success with his audience and particularly asking something of his young viewers:

“You’ve made a sad situation joyous and inspirational. So to all the people watching, I can never, ever thank you enough for your kindness to me—I’ll think about it for the rest of my life and all I ask is one thing. I’m asking this particularly of young people. Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism, for the record it’s my least favorite quality, it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get, but if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen—I’m telling you amazing things will happen. I’m telling you. It’s just true.”

The mantra ‘nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get’ is one that is particularly resonant in the wake of a pandemic, furloughs and job losses, and I thought I would take a page out of Conan’s playbook by highlighting the stories of the authors on the BSM team—noting what happens when you indeed work really hard and are kind, even in the face of challenging circumstances.

Brandon Contes, spending years with the Barrett Sports Media family recently wrote an article about his career and reflected on his experience, as he embarks on his new job with Mediaite—I highly recommend giving it a read. Here’s what some of the other talented writers from the Barrett Sports Media team have to say about their experiences and the impact working with BSM has had on their careers.

I asked Vik Chokshi, Content Producer at Audacy Sports, about his experience in working with BSM and the role it played in the development of his career.

CP: How did the opportunity to work with Jason and Barrett Sports Media manifest itself?

VC: I was freelancing for a couple of websites and was looking to land a full-time opportunity in sports. I decided to reach out to contacts that I admired in the industry like Jason for some advice. After listening to my situation, he gave me excellent tips and told me to give him a ring if I was interested in writing for Barrett Sports Media. I wanted to further my footprint in the sports gambling world and Jason was there to help.

CP: How did writing for Barrett Sports Media impact your career trajectory?

VC: Writing for BSM was great and it positively impacted my career trajectory. Jason opened up his network to me and gave me advice on topics to write about. He also mentored me on how to stick out in the industry. All things I needed at the time.

I started writing gambling industry related posts for BSM, which led me to making some great connections in the space. BSM also allowed my work to be seen by a bigger audience and decision makers, which helped my career as a whole.

CP: Which piece are you most proud of or would you consider as one of your favorites?

VC: Picking just one piece as my favorite is tough to do, because each individual that I connected with for my articles and profiles were amazing in their own right. To be able to chat with and learn from the giants in the gambling world like Dave Sharapan, Alan Berg, Chris Andrews, Tim Murray, Joe Fortenbaugh, Dough Kezirian, Ben Fawkes and Mitch Moss was like a dream come true.

If I had to choose one article though, I’d love to point out the piece I wrote titled Six Sports Betting Content Creators You Need to Know Now. I pride myself on identifying trends and talent in sports early, so it was pretty cool to see all six of the highlighted figures take major steps in the gambling industry after the article came out.

Follow Vik Chokshi on Twitter by clicking here.

Check out the articles Vik has written with BSM by clicking here.

Rob “Stats” Guerrera, has been working as a podcast host/producer with SB Nation and additionally, doing some consultant work with FOX Sports Radio, joined me to discuss his journey with BSM.

CP: How did you first connect with Jason and what role did that relationship play in your career development over time?

RG: I first worked with Jason when he was the PD at ESPN St. Louis and I was working on Mike & Mike.

After that we stayed in touch over the years. Jason has always been good to me, and kept me in mind when the right opportunity crossed his desk.

When I was laid off in March, Jason had a columnist opening that I applied for and was hired.

CP: How did writing for BSM impact your career trajectory?

RG: Jason has always been great to me working with BSM was invaluable to me as a way to keep my name top of mind in the industry while I was otherwise unemployed. I can’t tell you how many people reached out to me about something I had written.

Follow Rob “Stats” Guerrera on Twitter by clicking here.

Check out Guerrera’s articles on BSM by clicking here.

Brian Noe, host of The Noe Show weekdays on NBCSouthwest and weekends on FOX Sports Radio, shared his journey with Barrett Sports Media and the impact his relationship with Jason has had on his career trajectory.

BN: JB mentioned on one of his podcasts years ago that he was looking to add a few writers. It immediately appealed to me. I saw the potential to network and liked the challenge of cranking out creative pieces. JB and I met up at the Omni in Nashville back in 2017 while he was in town for a sports radio convention. We worked out a multi-year contract with a heavy signing bonus and no-trade clause. (That’s how I remember it.)

JB has vouched for me with various people in the business, which really means a lot to me. The guy knows everybody. Not just the Sunday morning host in market 189, but practically the guy who hung the drywall in their new studio. I’ve also been able to connect with a lot of great people in the industry that I wouldn’t have crossed paths with if not for writing. It’s really been a positive experience for me.

Follow Brian Noe on Twitter by clicking here.

Check out Brian Noe’s articles on BSM by clicking here.

Stan Norfleet, afternoon host working with Nick Wilson on WFNZ in Charlotte, shared his experience and introduction to the Barrett Sports Media family.

SN: Not even a year ago, I was a relatively experienced young broadcaster exploring all avenues to reignite my career. I knew of Jason and the BSM site, but had yet to communicate with him directly. Therefore, I took it upon myself to make the investment in the 2020 Barrett Sports Media Summit, in hopes of networking my way into a better space. Although JB and staff were ridiculously busy with the event, he did make time for a proper introduction. That brief encounter, coupled with a freelance column I would write later, spawned a relationship with BSM that has forever changed my career! JB’s guidance, encouragement, and influence eventually landed me a spot-on afternoon drive. Who knew things could happen so quickly? A lot people talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion; I’m living proof Jason and his staff sincerely believe it. I am forever grateful, Jason Barrett!

Check out Stan’s pieces on BSM by clicking here.

Follow Stan Norfleet on Twitter by clicking here.

Seth Everett, broadcaster at iHeartMedia, host and owner of three really successful podcasts and an adjunct professor at Syracuse, spoke on the path that led to him working with Jason and the BSM team.

SE: I was a big reader of Jason’s site, and I had just left a writing gig at Sports Illustrated and writing about sports media was something that always appealed to me. Jason and I stayed in touch—I had the writing bug and I wanted to do more. Jason, column First of all, it’s a good idea.

CP: How did writing for Barrett Sports Media impact your career?

SE: One of the best things that has come with this opportunity is that I’ve reconnected with old colleagues. People who either read the stories and reached out to me, or I was doing a story about someone from my past and it gave me a reason to reach out.

You can find Seth’s most recent piece on BSM by clicking here.

You can follow Seth Everett on Twitter by clicking here.

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BNM Writers

Activist Journalism Should Have No Place in Mainstream Media

Lord of the Flies might only be a book, but many journalistic outlets are becoming savages for the sake of activist journalism.

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A photo of a protest

Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan was shocked most Americans are supportive of deporting illegal aliens (because that is the actual legal term for undocumented immigrants). CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan has no idea America is not a democracy (the Irish journalist might want to take a civics class before making this false claim). And the Surgeon General is calling on social media outlets to have warning labels. It’s just more proof that activist journalism has grown all too prevalent in mainstream media today.

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.” Lord of the Flies might only be a book, but many journalistic outlets are becoming savages for the sake of activist journalism. Perhaps we (the media) are becoming the beast we once feared.

Brennan’s shock at her own outlet’s poll made headlines because many felt it shouldn’t be a surprise. No country in the history of Earth has been or will be completely content with an exorbitant amount of people from another country landing within their borders. The report, which claimed 62% of Americans support deporting those who come here illegally, is now framed with additional results. 53% of Hispanic voters say they would favor the program.

The new CBS poll also found more Americans “overwhelmingly” trust President Trump on border security than President Biden. While we have yet to see Ms. Brennan’s jaw drop on air a second time, I’m confident it’s already happened behind the scenes. Reactions like this are not only un-journalistic (because just give us the news, we don’t care about your opinion that’s what talk radio is for), they show how out of touch some members of the media are with America outside of the large markets.

Speaking of out-of-touch with America, CNN seems to believe it’s a good idea to have a biased non-American report on the election. Regardless of his citizenship, Mr. O’Sullivan needs to learn more about the Constitution and the founding of the American government before reporting on it. I have said it before and will say it again, America is not a democracy, it is a democratic republic. Those on the right saying America is just a Republic are also wrong.

Mr. O’Sullivan’s false narrative that America is a democracy is a prime example of activist journalism in the works. Other “reporting” from him (if you can call it that) also included interviews with Pro-Palestinian groups who say they will not back Biden. Yet he does not ask one very simple question: Then who will they back? Trump? Doubtful, but if that is the answer it never made it into his story.

These national outlets might want to take a lesson from their affiliates, as local news now has more Americans’ trust than the bigger, more staffed, and better-paid counterparts. Why? Because there is less opinion and more journalism at the local level. This is likely why a May Pew Institute Research poll showed 69% of Americans believe that local journalists in their area are mostly in touch with their community. With even more (85%) believe local news is “somewhat important” to the well-being of their local community. National news poll numbers don’t even come close (as I previously commented).

What’s most concerning out of all the past week’s headlines, however, is Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy’s call for social media to come with a warning label. This would be as effective as posting warning labels on cigarette packs (meaning this is going to do nothing to stop people from partaking in addictive habits).

You can not save everyone and you certainly can’t save agenda-driven “journalists” from developing propaganda and posting it to social media. If a warning label on cigarettes won’t stop smokers from smoking it won’t stop social media users from scrolling. It is a drug, some people are addicted. It is an unfortunate but true part of life.

Most, if not all, Americans are aware of the addictiveness of social media just like they know the dangers of smoking. Warning labels won’t make people stop and think. It’s just more government overreach.

This is the thing local news does best, gives you unbiased information, it does not tell you how to think about certain issues (usually), and the good outlets call out government overreach when they see it.

We can not regulate our way out of life nor can the industry continue to render activist journalism and try to pass it off as real news. People are getting smart and turning to local news for facts. Hopefully, these stations won’t be corrupted by the same powers that now influence our national outlets.

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Fox News Leads 80th Anniversary of D-Day Coverage

More than 3 million viewers watched coverage of the 80th anniversary on cable news.

Doug Pucci

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A photo of Fox News coverage of D-Day

One of the notable news events in June was the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that helped liberate Europe from Nazi Germany back on Thursday, June 6. More than 3 million viewers watched the coverage on cable news with Fox News leading the way.

President Biden attended a ceremony at Normandy American Cemetery in France alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. In his remarks, Biden pledged “We will not walk away” from Ukraine, using the example of the fight to liberate Europe from Nazi domination In parallel to the current war against Russian aggression. “To surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators, is simply unthinkable. If we were to do that, it means we’d be forgetting what happened here on these hallowed beaches.”

The morning news programs televised the D-Day remembrance ceremonies within the 8-9 AM ET hour on Thursday, June 6. Fox News was tops on cable overall, according to Nielsen Media Research, with 1.467 million viewers including 153,000 within the key 25-54 demographic. The network sent host Martha MacCallum to Normandy to broadcast live from the site of the invasion, sharing stories of combat veterans.

The MSNBC’s entire 6-9 a.m. ET block averaged 1.019 million viewers and 128,000 adults 25-54.

CNN/HLN’s combined broadcast drew 475,000 viewers and 110,000 in the 25-54 demo.

Later in the month, on Tuesday, June 11, music superstar Céline Dion joined Today co-host Hoda Kotb on NBC for the singer’s first one-on-one interview since publicly revealing she suffers from a neurological condition called stiff person syndrome.

Getting a huge assist from its America’s Got Talent (5.527 million) lead-in, the one-hour news special entitled “Celine’s Story” delivered 3.227 million viewers, marking it the most-watched program on all of television within the 10-11 p.m. hour on June 11. It outdrew such other 10 p.m. news shows as Fox News’ Gutfeld! (2.496 million), MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (1.078 million) and CNN’s NewsNight (433,000).

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How KDKA Transformed Overnights to Grow Its Future and Reach Younger Audiences

“The overwhelming feedback has been positive. It makes us local, it gives us a bench … it makes the radio station’s brand bigger and connects us in different areas.”

Garrett Searight

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A photo of the cast of KDKA Next Take and the KDKA logo
(Photo: KDKA)

In February, venerable Pittsburgh news/talk station KDKA announced a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh that would see students from the college host a weekday overnight program.

The program — KDKA Next Take — is heard from 1-5 AM and replaced the nationally syndicated Red Eye Radio in the Audacy-owned station’s lineup.

A product of the imagination of Audacy Pittsburgh Senior Vice President and Market Manager Michael Spacciapolli, he believes the show has been a success in its early run.

“The show certainly offers a different perspective on the way that this generation looks at the world and from their viewpoint as opposed to other hosts who are in a different time in their life than them,” Spacciapolli said. “So we certainly are able to share a different point of view from them, while at the same time utilizing those points of view on social and getting them to really engage the radio station from a social perspective and hopefully engaging in and not just speaking to, but engaging people in that demographic, as well.”

Needing to attract younger audiences has been at the forefront of the news/talk radio industry for quite some time. Another issue discussed by leaders of the format are often centered around where stations will find the next crop of young talent.

With the partnership with Pitt, KDKA took the initiative to seek out those who might be interested in a radio career, rather than hope those potential employees found them.

“I’m always looking for great talent. Everything I do and in every aspect of the radio station, I’m looking for the most talented people. I’m always looking for where is the next great talent in everything we do,” said Spacciapolli. “This gives me the opportunity to have them working with us on an everyday basis and learning everything they do — from their work ethic, to their thought process, to their ideas. It gives me an opportunity to have our own ‘bench’ and have an opportunity to see where talent could come from in the future.

“There’s going to be talent there that we are potentially going to take a look at in different roles. Do they leave Next Take when their time is up on the show and do they immediately become full-time hosts? Probably not. But can they become part-time hosts? Sure,” he added. “Can they become producers? Absolutely. Can they become reporters? Can they become part-time reporters? Absolutely. Working with us gives us the opportunity to certainly move in that direction much more quickly and confidently than we would have previously.”

For decades, overnights were a proving ground for aspiring hosts. The daypart allowed for opportunities for young hosts and provided a low-pressure timeslot to experiment and hone your craft. But with the rise of automation and syndication, those positions have largely fallen by the wayside.

However, Audacy Pittsburgh looked at the partnership with the college and saw opportunity. The collaboration allows a younger generation access to the station that is largely dominated by older hosts and listeners.

Additionally, it provided even more local coverage to a station that prides itself of being “The Voice of Pittsburgh.” That factor wasn’t lost on Spacciapolli.

“A big part of my vision was it gave us the opportunity to be local, gave us the opportunity to be local overnight, which for me is how we win in this business is being local, staying local, talking to people in Pittsburgh about Pittsburgh, and this gave us the opportunity to do that on a pretty big scale and with fresh content every day.”

It would be natural for a full-time or even part-time employee of the Pittsburgh news/talk station to be jealous that a four-hour program was being given to college students. But that hasn’t been the case, Spacciapolli shared.

“The overwhelming feedback is very positive … Because there’s no expense it’s not like it’s somebody else could have been doing it. It would have continued to be syndicated if we weren’t able to do it through the partnership with the University of Pittsburgh. So it just makes the radio station’s brand bigger. It connects us in different areas and hopefully grows the brand and gets the brand younger.”

The program is recorded live-to-tape earlier in the day before airing in the 1-5 AM timeslot, which allows for some fine-tuning and takes the pressure off the radio novices, while also allowing them to helm a show instead of working in the wee hours of the night while trying to focus on their studies.

Spaccipolli shared that an overnight program hosted by college students interested in one day working in the industry doesn’t have to be proprietary to KDKA. He said there’s one deciding factor in the success of the endeavor.

“It’s about the relationships and the partnerships. And, fortunately, I have a great relationship with the University of Pittsburgh, they’re a great partner. I was able to get deep enough into this relationship with them and find ways to potentially make this work,” he stated.

“This is not easy. It’s not something you can pull off easily because, traditionally, I think, people think about it and they think, ‘Oh, there’s got to be significant expense.’ And in this situation, there’s not because that wouldn’t have fit our model for where it is and what we’re trying to do with it. So there isn’t that expense. You’re not gonna be able to make it work everywhere. Fortunately, we were able to do it here.”

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