I spent exactly 330 days as a full time sports talk radio host---- and it was awesome.
Sports talk radio is probably a lot different behind the scenes than many listeners think. I know it was for me when I first started as an intern in 2009. It's generally not glamorous or lucrative. My desk was a cubicle...that I shared with my co-host. Things in the studio didn't always work and sometimes the previous person on your mic had put their lips on it, covering the thing in barbecue sauce that never came off. Like any job, it had its ups and downs, but man did I love it. When that light came on to start the show, I got the chance to perform for a sports audience, something I've wanted to do since I was a a 7 year old kid that would fall asleep listening to Vin Scully tell me the story of what was happening 47 miles away at Chavez Ravine on 790 KABC.
I remember the day I was offered the job. I had a feeling that the offer was coming, but when the words finally came out, I was grinning from ear to ear in the middle of a Las Vegas casino at midnight. I was ecstatic.
Someone thought that I was informed, articulate, and entertaining enough to pay me to talk about sports every single day. In turn, thousands of others thought I was informed, articulate, and entertaining enough to want to listen to what I had to say about sports every single day. As I look back at it, I truly think it was an honor that I didn't fully appreciate at the time.
I was living the dream job for millions of sports fans out there. I had access to pretty much whatever sporting events I wanted to go to....FOR FREE! AND THEY WOULD FEED ME! I informed thousands of people on what was happening with their favorite sports teams, and helped them create more informed opinions about the teams they loved. We each get 24 hours in a day, and many people would use 4 of their hours every single day listening to what I had to say. My opinion mattered. My opinion barely matters with my 7 year old sometimes, but it mattered to thousands of strangers that oddly became like friends.
I was good at it, and I'm still good at it. Like many things in life, though, it didn't work out for one reason or another. Was I disappointed when it ended? Absolutely. I'd worked more than 7 years for the opportunity to host a daily show that I could call my own. Writing endless articles I didn't want to write to get my foot in the door, hosting podcasts with maybe a dozen listeners, and producing 'best of' shows in a studio all alone on Christmas Eve. All of that work, I'd made it to where I wanted, and now it was ending. Maybe devastation was a better way to put it.
The resounding response I received from fans and listeners was more than overwhelming; and it was personal. People really did care about the loss of my job, how it would affect me, my family, what I was going to do next, and offered tons of support. How many of us live their professional lives out in front of thousands of others? There's a lot of pressure that comes with that, but I relished having the ability to connect with thousands of people every single day about things that both they and I cared about. We shared a bond. Now that was gone.
Initially I looked back at how much work and time I had put in and was upset with only being given 330 days to show what I could do. The further removed from my own professional D Day, the more it allowed my personal narrative to change. I spent 7+ years getting to where I wanted to be and I GOT TO be a full-time sports talk radio host for 330 days? How cool is that?
The end of my show also signaled a change that I needed to make. And although it took a month for this mindset to set in, I realized that I needed to work even harder next time. I'd always fashioned myself as a hard worker that took pride in my preparation, but maybe I'd become complacent. Maybe I let a difficult year in my personal life interfere. Maybe I forgot that I wanted to be the best there is. Kobe would come off a title winning season where he'd average 30+ and he'd still be in the gym at 4 in the morning. Kershaw has 3 Cy Youngs and the offseason routine gets more and more rigorous. Jerry Rice was breaking NFL records left and right. His workouts became legendary with the intensity level rising as his career progressed. I hadn't blown my opportunity, but I'd learned the rookie hard way that if you're not busting your butt every single day to get better, you're not working hard enough, especially in an industry that is so publicly visible.
Sports talk is a lot like being an athlete; You're going to have your 0 for 5 days with 3 strikeouts. It happens to every single one of us. Whether you form a poor argument that gets eaten alive, you hang your hat on a theory or information that isn't correct, all of your scheduled guests flake out, a segment you put together flops, or you just don't have it in your heart to put on the best show you can, the bad shows do exist. You can feel it as the show goes on where the in-game slump happens....on a microphone....for thousands to hear. I think those days happened too often, or at least the 1 for 5 days with an infield single. I think I had developed the mindset that I had made it, content with the amount I had put in and the show I was putting on. The reality is I was really just riding a 10 day contract, assuming they'd pick up that second 10 day contract before signing me long-term. Not in this business.
Still, I got to be a sports talk radio host and for that opportunity I'll forever be thankful to those that provided it. If I never get to do this again, I'll look back at those 330 days (and even the preceding 7 years) fondly and as a great experience more than anything else. Along the way I met great people, had great opportunities, and made what I anticipate will be some lifelong friends. And weirdly enough, someone paid me to talk about sports every day. I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty cool.