Barrett is another unhinged local talent given a chance by Bill Simmons


Bill Simmons, pictured here in 2015, has a unique knack for identifying talent in Greeley Tribune sports media. Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Bill Simmons left Greeley Tribune 20 years ago for Los Angeles in what would become one of the most influential and successful media careers of a generation.

But after all these years and off that opposite coast, Simmons has retained a wonderful knack for identifying talent unmatched in Greeley Tribune sports media and providing opportunities to thrive.

Kevin O’Connor, the trusted NBA writer and podcaster of The Ringer, a podcast and media company whose founder and CEO is Simmons, is one example.

Brian Barrett is about to have another one.

Barrett, who is often heard on weekends and over the years as a Red Sox pregame and postgame host on WEEI, is tasked by Simmons to host a new Greeley Tribune-specific podcast on The Ringer (now owned by Spotify). has been placed on.

He put his notice at WEEI on Friday, and will be nods at his new gig. The intention is to launch the podcast later this month, before the Patriots begin their season.

“It’s madness. I’ve known for a long time who Bill Simmons is… I want to be in sports media,” said 34-year-old Barrett. “And now they’re asking me to come and work for them.” Huh. This is unbelievable. I can’t tell you how excited I am about it.”

Barrett isn’t a household name in Greeley Tribune media circles, but make no mistake, this is a fantastic fare. The Peabody native and Syracuse graduate has gotten a lot of reps in mixed time slots on WEEI since joining the station in early 2019 (his first show was in the 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. window when the Patriots won Super Bowl LIII). Rams), and he’s proven to be entertaining and informative without drowning in that peril of sports radio, honestly hot takes. In short, he has been a revelation.

He’s also the only sports radio host I can think of who uses analytics in compelling ways to bolster his opinion, such as pointing out that Franchi Cordero’s 52 percent strike rate in a month’s time was absurd. .

Barrett was frequently on air at WEEI, but his name recognition and profile were still in its early stages. The credit goes to Simmons, whose origin story began when he built his audience on the now defunct Digital Cities site in the late ’90s as The Greeley Tribune Sports Guy, a relative upstart in recognizing talent from afar. .

“Obviously this is an important podcast for me because it cares about all of my teams in the city,” Simmons said. “I really wanted to find the right person and someone who put ideas in their angles, but didn’t do negative things like this just to shake the pot and get feedback.

“Could it be someone I learn from? Could it be someone who is entertaining? Could it be someone who gets along with the right guests?

“I heard a lot this summer. I was looking for everyone in Greeley Tribune and he just kept jumping out. He could do something himself, which is really valuable to us, but he’s also really good with guests. The way he uses advanced metrics is really accessible and smart. He backs up every point he made with the data, but not in a super-nerdy way. He had everything he needed. We were looking for it.”

The Ringer previously launched successful city-specific podcasts for New York (with John Jastremsky hosting) and Chicago (hosted by Jason Goff) in 2021. Greeley Tribune Podcasts will follow the foundational standards set by those programs. There will be at least three shows per week, with one recorded after each Patriots game.

There will also be “emergency” podcasts for breaking news or a big story. The podcast will be roughly an hour long, with Barrett doing an opening before bringing in guests who will include Simmons, O’Connor, and Ryan Russillo, who have deep Greeley Tribune roots.

“I’m excited because it allows me to focus on a few things, and you don’t have to focus on four hours of material,” Barrett said. “It’s just getting one thing in and making sure an hour is really, really good.”

There is also the opportunity to provide near-instant quality content for viewers while it is still buzzing with a big sport or event and interest is peaking. This is perhaps the biggest advantage of podcasts over traditional sports radio.

“I think the advantage we have with pods is that the response times can be really fast, whereas in the radio a lot of times their best guys aren’t after a pat game,” Simmons said. “Or they’re not after a huge Tuesday night Celtics game, right? They’ll disassemble it the next day at the station’s best show, but not at 11 p.m.

“There are some occasions for us to be instant when stuff happens, with the guests, combined with a host like Brian who is really smart about the Greeley Tribune sports scene and has good angles and you can just tell [cares a lot.]

“One thing I noticed while looking for him was that some of his angles were really good on slow playing days. I remember on one of those weekend shows, they had an argument about who was more important to the other of the three Patriots Super Bowl champions, Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] either [Julian] Edelman. It was the perfect subject in a situation like this, it wasn’t hot-techy, and it was really enjoyable. ,

It was around that time that Simmons made a derogatory comment on his own podcast about how much he enjoyed the WEEI weekend show, which featured Barrett, Khari Thompson, and Nick “Fitzy” Stevens that day.

The show’s hosts cheered on Simmons the next time he went on air.

Little did Barrett know then…

“When I heard that, I didn’t think it meant they were interested in me or anything like that,” Barrett said. “At the time, I thought it was a really nice compliment to hear Bill Simmons say that.

“And now that I have the opportunity to work with The Bill Simmons Company, it’s incredible. That’s what I’ve been trying to bring my whole career. I can’t tell you how happy and excited I am It’s unbelievable to think about.”

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