Brad Adam is an accomplished broadcast journalist, a former Associated Press Award winner and a former college athlete. Most fans simply know him as the Pregame and Postgame Host for Mariners broadcasts on ROOT Sports. But Brad is much more than just that. He is a complex, multi-layered, interesting guy, and gosh darn it, people like him -- just ask him.
Brad took some time before the opener of the White Sox series in Chicago to talk with SeattleClubhouse's Rick Randall about his perfectly coifed hair, his interests away from baseball, his illustrious athletic career and his 12 years covering the team.
SeattleClubhouse: Mr. Brad Adam. This is a long time coming, but we're finally doing it -- our interview. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me for the site today.
Brad Adam: Yeah, I already feel like I know you so well. We've been texting back and forth for what, like six months now? Glad we're finally getting down to it.
SC: Alright, well you are one of the main ROOT Sports Mariners television anchors now and, as such, your life more or less revolves around baseball most of the year, but in your personal athletic background you were actually a basketball guy -- point guard, right?
BA: Correct. Definitely a point guard since I stopped growing in high school. I was always pretty good with the ball, with ball handling and I was always working on tricks to improve my dribbling skills. And I really liked running the offense, too. But I think I was like most kids growing up, I played all three -- football, baseball and basketball. My family moved to the Los Angeles area when I was 14 and a freshman in high school and I had this image of the LA area about all of the kids being 6-foot-5, 250, so I thought it would be good for me to get out of football then. And in baseball, once they started to curve the ball a little bit, I had no chance. So almost by default I was kind of pushed to basketball. And I was fortunate because the high school that I ended up going to was actually known for their basketball program and they had a pretty intense year-round program there where the coach kind of discouraged kids from playing other sports, so I bought into it and stayed with just basketball and played it all through high school.
Then after high school I got a scholarship to play Division-II basketball at Cal Lutheran University in Simi Valley. Their claim to fame was that the Dallas Cowboys used to train there out in Thousand Oaks. I played there for two years, started as a sophomore, but I started to realize that my skills were pretty limited compared to some of those guys, so I needed to think about what I wanted to do long-term.
SC: And you chose to stick with sports for the long-term plan, too.
BA: I always kind of knew that I wanted to be a sportscaster. I had interned at NBC in Los Angeles during my sophomore year and I was just blown away. It was one of those situations where you just knew that this is what you want. So I transferred after my sophomore year to San Diego State.
SC: Why San Diego State?
BA: A few reasons: it was pretty easy to get in, I had a few buddies that were going there, it was a good "party school" and they had their own TV station on campus and offered a major in television and film, and that's what I ended up getting my degree in. We did a little half-hour show there called "Sidelines" because a bunch of us were really in to sports so we just kind of took over the television side of it and did our own shows and stuff. That was a good group -- one guy is a director at a Fox affiliate now, another that used to work at Fox LA, and then myself. We just kind of did our own projects and always guided it towards sports.
I remember April or May 1991, I interviewed Dan McGwire, who was drafted 16th overall by the Seattle Seahawks -- I'll always remember that because I worked through their football SID and got Dan to do an interview on set. That was my first real interview with a big time guy and I still remember how excited he was to have been drafted by the Seahawks and to be headed to Seattle. Obviously things didn't really work out, but that was fun. That whole time was fun at San Diego State because we not only had McGwire but we had Marshall Faulk and he was really good, they were putting 50-plus points per game up. They also had Darnay Scott, the receiver that played for the Bengals for a long time.
SC: So what -- aside from your stunning good looks and weak perimeter jumper -- led you to pursue a broadcast journalism career?
BA: (laughs) Hey, wait a second! Who said I had a weak jumper?!
SC: (laughs) Sorry, did I read too much into things there? Go on.
BA: You know, it was one of those things where I had a love of sports my whole life and I knew that I wanted to do something to stay involved with that. I really didn't have a lot of career interests, and I knew I wasn't going to be a player and didn't really want to be a coach, so I thought that going to the games and talking to the players and doing the highlights and being involved with that side of things every night was kind of a no-brainer. Didn't have much of a backup plan, really. I still remember my mom -- when I told her that was my plan and that I was transferring out of state -- I told her that this was what I wanted to do and she said, "That's great, but it's not easy to do, so if that doesn't work out what else would you want to do?" And I told her, you know what, I really don't know -- I have no fallback plan, so I really hope this works out.
SC: And that stubbornness worked out for you, obviously. So break down your career path, if you would.
BA: I graduated SDSU in '93 -- I don't mind dating myself, it's OK -- and was very fortunate to get a job about six months later. I had taken a bunch of the tapes from our work on campus and from my internship down in San Diego, so I had some material -- including that McGwire interview -- and made a tape and was sending stuff out. I was working a part-time job with Fannie Mae at this time and I told them that I wanted to be a sportscaster and they were like, "Yeah, good luck, pal."
Back then there was no internet, so I was subscribed to a magazine, "Broadcasting & Cable", and I would literally just go to the back to the want ads and send tapes out. I heard back from a few news directors from some less than desirable locations that, thankfully, I didn't get, and then I heard back from a station in Grand Junction, CO, along the Colorado-Utah border. So when the news director called me, she was talking about how I didn't have any experience but they understood that and were still interested. And she asked me if I would be interested in coming out, and -- I still remember this, this was on a Wednesday -- and I told her, "Absolutely!" She asked me when I thought I could make it out to meet her in person and I told her, "No problem: I can quit my job today and I'll drive out and I'll be there by Friday." She said, "Hey, slow down, buddy. You don't have to be here in two days. I haven't even told you what you're going to make." I told her that didn't matter, then she said -- and I'm going to tell you this because it might scare some perspective sportscasters, this was back in '93 mind you -- but she said, "Your annual salary will be $13,400."
SC: Holy (bleep)!
BA: Yeah -- holy (bleep) is right. But I had no concept, really, because I had basically been living at home all of my life. So she said, "$13,400 and after six months, if everything goes well, you get a $500 raise." And I was like, "$13,900? Great, sounds good, let's go." So I drive out in my loaded up Ford Escort and she was great, it was a great learning experience because it was at a smaller station where we basically did all of our own work, did everything yourself -- I did a lot of that in college. But we had to shoot, we had to write, we had to edit -- and back then it was typewriters and you had to keep it within the margins or else you couldn't read things on the prompter. We had a PA guy that would literally tape the scripts together and it would run on a conveyer belt. That was our prompter. And you controlled it with a foot pedal, so trying to get used to that was interesting. You didn't notice while you were doing it, but your head would kind of bob to the motion of you pumping the pedal to have the prompter move, so you'd see the tape and your head would be moving up and down, up and down, and you'd be like, "what the heck?!". So you had to work on that. Sometimes the pedal would stick and the scripts would just fly past and you'd be left scrambling, just lost without a script.
So, just mistake after mistake after mistake, but a good learning experience. I was there in Grand Junction for 10 months and I figured that I'd made enough mistakes, so I looked around the same way again and I found another job in Charleston, SC.
The sports director called me and I told him that I'd seen Charleston on a map, but I'd never been there and I asked what it was like. He said, "Do you like to play golf?" I said, "Yeah, I love golf." He said, "Do you like the beach?" and I said, "Yeah, I'm a California kid, I love the beach." And he said, "Well, then you'll like Charleston." So over the phone I agreed to a contract -- it was in the $20s, so I was making huge bank now -- and I remember asking if we could increase the amount in the third year and the sports director said, "No," and I said, "OK, great. See you soon!" So, once again, loaded up the Ford Escort and headed out to Charleston, SC, site unseen. Was there for three years and it is still one of my favorite places ever -- absolutely loved it. If you ever get a chance to head down there. it's where the Civil War started, so there is just lots of history and lots of Southern charm and I just loved it.
After that I went to Portland, OR, for 2 1/2 years for ABC -- and all of these are weekend jobs. I figured that I could move up quicker to bigger markets being weekend opposed to trying to get a sports director job each time. So 2 1/2 years in Portland then when Fox regionalized the U.S. in 2000, I was up for the Bay Area and Denver, but they wanted to keep me in the Northwest since I had some ties already here and, I actually just got an email (June 1st), and (June 1st) is my 12-year anniversary with what is now ROOT.
SC: Well, happy anniversary!
BA: Thank you. Angie (Mentink) and I started together anchoring the Northwest shows back then and we were a hub here, too, so we also did all of the Detroit shows, too. So she was a lot of fun getting to now. We were both pretty young back then and they just kind of threw is in there and said, "Let's go." It's been a lot of fun, and I still love it. I still don't like the weather, being a California kid.
SC: Well it does sound like you were a big sports fan growing up, but I assume that growing up in California you weren't a big Mariners fan, right? Hoping that you'll tell me that you weren't an Angels fan, either...
BA: I wasn't much of an LA fan at all, really. I was a big Boston Red Sox fan and a huge Philadelphia 76ers fan -- huge Dr. J fan.
SC: And that's before it was the thing to do to like the Red Sox. They weren't great back then, so I give you some props there.
BA: Thank you. I liked those teams and then my football team was the Denver Broncos since we moved there when I was in 6th through 8th grade, so I was also a huge John Elway fan.
SC: Well since you've been with the Mariners for 12 years now, what has it been like to be so closely tied to the team and be so involved with them day in and day out? I know that you do the "professional impartial sportscaster" approach, but I'd think you still live and die a bit with the ups and downs.
BA: Yeah, I do. Especially in traveling. This is my 7th season traveling with the team. I got to travel with the 2001 team a bit, too, and I think we all know that was such a rare, magical experience that none of us are likely to see anything like that again. They were just such a loose, close, magical team. They had Lou Pineilla, it was Ichiro's first year and they had a great group of veterans. It was so crazy with that group because, when you went to the park, you just knew that they were going to win that night, somehow, someway. They were a very fun team to cover, and that clubhouse was unbelievable with Mike Cameron, Lou, Jay Buhner's last year -- just great.
And then you go through different managers here and there, different free agents, so players come and go a lot -- each year is enjoyable, doing what I get to do. I still feel very fortunate that I get to do this. It's work, but it's still very cool. And when they're winning, the City just has more buzz and people are talking about the team all the time, and that's fun to be a part of. A winning clubhouse is obviously more fun to go into than a losing clubhouse.
You get to see what the club is doing. You see that now, with Jack Zduriencik in his fourth year as GM and the plan that is in place, talking to him and seeing the kids coming up -- like Stephen Pryor, who's coming up (June 1st) -- it's kind of like the players in that you don't get too high or too low because you can see the big picture. Being this close you can see this guys getting better, and that's cool. It's really cool being a sports fan and being a guy that played sports like myself -- not at this level, obviously -- to talk to these guys and get insights into what they're doing and why they're struggling, talking to pitchers and listening to how they set guys up and stuff like that, it's really fascinating. The depth and the level of thought that goes into what these guys do is something that I feel is certainly missed by the casual fan.CLICK HERE TO BE LINKED TO PART TWO OF THE INTERVIEW WITH BRAD ADAM OF ROOT SPORTS