95.7 The Game (KGMZ) will have a new program director this summer. Jason Barrett announced he’ll be moving back to New York when his contract ends in June, ending a four-year run marked by a dizzying number of lineup changes.
Barrett made his decision known in a 2,800-word blog post that included a 30-second snippet from “Leaving California,” a song by Maroon 5.
Today is bittersweet for me because while I’m staying true to that approach, it’s for a very different reason. I’ve spent the last nine years making choices based on what was best for my career. Today, I’m making a decision based on what’s best for me and my family rather than worrying about how it might look or impact my career.
To the surprise of many, I’ve informed my friends and family at Entercom that I will be leaving San Francisco and my position as Program Director of 95.7 The Game at the end of my contract when it expires this June!
(Maroon 5 clip)
Before the rumor mill swirls with all sorts of created controversies and half truths, let me state that this has zero to do with being unhappy with my staff or company. It has zero to do with wanting more money or power and it has zero to do with my company’s faith in me. Truth be told, I’ve loved this place from the moment I arrived in June 2011, Entercom has treated me and my family incredibly well and if they had their preference, I’d be staying here.
Barrett’s main reason for leaving is to spend more time with his son, who lives in New York.
He also dropped in a note about the highly-guarded “demo” numbers which, in Barrett’s mind, negate the standard Nielsen ratings numbers (where KGMZ usually comes in near the bottom of the San Francisco rankings, generally at anywhere from a 1.0 to a 1.7).
We launched in August 2011 in 25th place with Men 25-54 M-F 6a-7p. In December 2014, we were in 8th and we’ve peaked as high as 6th in June 2014. That’s great progress in a top five market in a little more than three years. And to think, this team haven’t even hit its peak yet.
Speaking of ratings, Barrett and I got off to a rocky start.
Longest lunch ever
I’ve told this story before, so if you read it a couple years ago, please bear with me.
Barrett invited me to lunch at Zero Zero, a pizzeria on Folsom, in June of 2012. I had never eaten there before, but from my understanding, their pizzas aren’t all that big. My assumption was that they serve “personal” pizzas. So I glanced at their menu the night before to see what I should order. I was looking forward to trying a place I’d heard good things about, and also to see why Barrett (who I’d heard nothing about, up to that point) wanted to meet little old me.
When the waiter came to our table, Barrett ordered a Margherita pizza to share. He was in control of the situation, so I figured he probably knew enough about the restaurant to order for the two of us. We made smalltalk about Bay Area sports until the pizza arrived. It was good! However, the crust was thin and the pizza wasn’t exactly large, and while we shared it Barrett talked to (at) me about why the posts we ran on BASG about the local sports talk ratings are irrelevant.
He showed me charts that said 95.7 was doing much better with the coveted MEN demo than the overall Nielsen numbers indicated. Unfortunately, he couldn’t share those demographics numbers with me on a regular basis or he’d get fined. He also asked me what I thought about the station, but a while later I realized that he didn’t care a lick about what I had to say, and our two-hour lunch was scheduled solely for the purpose of bullying me into not writing any more posts about how KGMZ was getting killed by KNBR in the overall ratings every month.
I was still hungry when he finally let me leave, so I went and got food at What’s Up Dog (the first restaurant I saw after leaving Zero Zero). And even though he spent a long time convincing me to scrap those monthly ratings posts, he gave me no reason to do so. In fact, one of the reasons why I kept that feature alive (other than because the commenters love it), was the thought that I’d be doing exactly what Barrett wanted if I stopped.
About six months later, I heard from a friend that Barrett’s employees were under strict orders to not book me as a guest on 95.7 The Game. I wasn’t surprised in the slightest, although I’ve always been pleasantly surprised at how friendly and courteous every host who works at that station has been toward me whenever we’ve crossed paths (besides Damon Bruce, who still hates me).
So who knows, unless Barrett’s replacement feels the same way about me and this website, perhaps I’ll make an occasional appearance on the FM side of the dial in four or five months. Regardless of whether anything changes on that front, we can probably expect to see more continuity at KGMZ than at any point in the last few years, as Barrett’s “musical chairs” brand of program directing left many shaking their heads during his tenure.