Episode Eight – Zach Schonbrun, New York Times

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Zach Schonbrun, contributing sports and business writer for the New York Times, is the guest this week. Here’s some of the stuff we talked about: is the Times just trying to piss me off with N.B.A and Mr/Mrs’ing everyone? (1:30), my one shining moment at Syracuse–the SU Media Game wherein I destroyed Zach’s ankles and acted like a jackass (4:51), Zach’s decision not to major in journalism while at Syracuse and get the practical education through experience (7:32), why his first job with MLB.com convinced him to go to grad school for journalism (11:09), how the work he put in at the school paper that would keep him there 5 days a week from 5pm to 1am so often felt like being involved in a fraternity (17:05), the brotherhood of the Daily Orange that helped send this year’s class to Indy and Houston to cover the Men’s and Women’s Final Four (20:25), my most burning question: What the hell does a non-beatwriter like Zach do every day? (24:35), Zach discusses the book proposal regarding the intersection between neuroscience and sports that’s been taking up most of his time lately (29:10), how does a contributing writer get paid and make money while avoid being taken for granted? (31:30), how his Kindle Single “One Great Shoe” came to be (37:48), how a writer should and does handle their story idea changing or evolving as they are doing the reporting (41:43), what percentage of story idea/pitches are from the writer or the editors and what makes someone good at coming up with fresh angles? (43:09), why Zach thinks the way sports reporting is done is going to have to change as we move forward (49:03), his concern that journalism is heading more towards the team and player led-media (ThisIsMelo, The Players’ Tribune) and that readers may not be able to tell (or care about) the difference between biased and non-biased media (52:07), how having a business story of his killed at the Times helped hone his bullshit filter (54:22), why he bristles at the notion of having to be a “personality” when being a reporter (1:00:48) and of course, Zach’s chance to ask me a question (1:03:39).

Check out his Kindle Single “One Great Shoe” chronicling the rise and fall of And1 Shoes. It’s good. For real.

Episode Seven – Jordan Bernfield, ESPN & 670 The Score

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Jordan Bernfield, ESPN play-by-play guy and host/anchor at 670 The Score in Chicago, is the guest this week. Here’s some of the stuff we talked about: the weirdest part of being an engaged couple (1:53), the many name-related stages of a relationship (4:47), how the industry nowadays is such that you basically have to do a lot of things (7:05), the fear of the jack of all trades, master of none label that could come from wearing as many hats as he does professionally (10:09), dealing with fan expectations of you when you switch on-air jobs (12:46), the difficulty of being both a reporter and a talk show host (16:17), if he could only pick one job, it would be…and why? (19:55), one of the really fun benefits of being a network play-by-play guy—inside access (22:39), the interestingly personal relationship with coaches as a play-by-play guy (26:16), how an internship in the promotions department wound up being a blessing in disguise (34:08), how he was able to turn an internship with David Kaplan–someone who he had no relationship with prior to–into a friendship, and not just a generic networking contact (36:04), the seemingly awful production jobs he was offered as a product of his internships and how that was an incredible foot in the door (38:09), how he was able to work as a producer at WGN, while also doing all sorts of on-air jobs simultaneously to help stay in a big market like Chicago (39:57), why networking should be reciprocal, not just a one-sided relationship (42:40), how being a lunch-getting, sort-of-errand-running intern was beneficial to his career (44:45), developing his own style as a play-by-play guy, avoiding ripping off the people you grew up listening to and why he doesn’t pre-write any of his calls (52:20), how much prep goes into each game he does for ESPN (56:20), how he can tell what sort of a game it was based on how much of his prep he had to use (1:01:09), the one thing that young broadcasters do incorrectly (1:03:20), why young broadcasters need to be more than just sports fans, but be sports media fans (1:05:06) and Jordan takes his turn to ask me (2) question(s)… gets a bit real (1:10:01).

Episode Six – Jon Rothstein, CBS Sports


Jon Rothstein, College Basketball Insider for CBS Sports, is the guest this week. Here’s some of the stuff we talked about: where does that “Stay Humble, Stay Hungry” tweet come from? (1:26), how studying leaders from history has helped shape him into the worker/person he is today (2:26), how and why his job became an all-day, every-day grind (4:17), the importance of creating and having a niche when starting out in this industry (5:54), the career path that took him from Ithaca to ESPN Radio’s Dream Job competition to real estate to the current day, including the failures along the way (7:52), why/how he paid for air time at a local radio station as an up-and-comer (10:44), how being uncomfortable and envious of other people with connections drove him to work even harder (11:40), did doubt ever creep in about his career choice or after rejections piled up early on? (13:43), how he was able to build respect for himself as the new guy that had just won the competition (15:38), the interview with Billy Donovan that finally made him think he was “getting close” (19:04), why you can’t just do one thing in this industry (20:31), the importance of focusing on excelling just one day at a time (26:36), how his personal life–relationships with family, friends, women–has been impacted by his commitment to his job (28:10), the great advice he got from Bo Ryan (32:17), why he doesn’t see this everyday grind coming to a halt any time soon and his thoughts on vacations (35:40), how he turned a wedding invitation in San Francisco to a way to build relationships with three different schools (39:30), the approach you take when you’re not looking just for one story, but to do the job for the next 45 years (41:12) and Jon takes his turn to ask me a question–we discuss my favorite Rocky movie (47:15).

Episode Five – Meredith Goldstein, Boston Globe


Meredith Goldstein, author of “The Singles” and entertainment writer and Love Letters advice columnist for the Boston Globe, is the guest this week. Here’s some of the stuff we talked about: how being an advice columnist intersects with her real life (2:08), why being married or “in love” isn’t necessary to give love advice (4:42), how she treats Love Letters like group therapy in a way (7:28), details on her new Love Letters book (8:27), how her bladder impacts her decision not to write at Starbucks (11:04), her writing process, including naps and English muffins (12:01), the people she seeks advice/critiques from as she writes fiction and knowing how/when to weigh their opinions best (18:49), gaining the confidence she needed to write her first novel (25:04), the value of the ‘slow-build’ of a career arc (28:28), dealing with other writers’ material being similar to yours (32:06), in a career filled with potential rejection, when (or ever) is there a time to give it up? (35:54), the right way to pronounce Syracuse (42:39), the craziness that is working at the Syracuse student newspaper, the Daily Orange, and how that more than prepared her for the real newspaper world (43:58), the rode to her Boston Globe career (48:48), the future of the newspaper industry and the importance of making a paper essential to its readers, as the Marty Baron character—in real life, the editor who hired her—said in Spotlight (51:36), the logistics of the Love Letters column–how many submissions she gets, the male/female breakdown, etc. (54:52), the importance of having a quality, well-written blog for young writers looking to get that first big job (58:56), the ‘Holy Shit’ moments she’s had with regard to when “The Singles” came out (1:03:15) and Meredith takes her turn to ask me a question (1:04:50). Oh, and why you should always sign your book if you ever see it at a bookstore (1:06:19).

Episode Four – Mike Mazzeo, ESPN.com

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Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com is the guest this week. Here’s some of the stuff we talked about: why my niece will never understand Seinfeld (2:27), how Mike began his writing career in college with a “terrible resume” (9:35), how a sports management major at Drexel became the writer he is today (13:06), the challenge/value of having to cover things you literally have no idea about (16:35, 19:03), his mom’s incredible advice prior to his first ESPN appearance (22:08), the tightrope walk that is developing relationships with the players/coaches he covers (29:07), how he cultivates and trusts sources (34:57), the difficulty/opportunity covering a bad team presents (39:25), the strategy of handling yourself in a post-game scrum (49:23), what he’d love to do as a writer down the road (54:03), how I basically (sort of) came up with ESPNNewYork.com about two years before it was launched (56:00) and Mike takes his turn to ask me a (few) questions (1:04:21).

Episode Three – Mike Meltser, MaD Radio in Houston, TX

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Mike Meltser of Sports Radio 610 in Houston, Texas is the guest this week. Mike hosts MaD Radio weekdays from 10 AM to 2 PM. Here are some of the things we talked about: what it’s like to have a former NFL player as a co-host (3:41), the hardest part of his job (7:23), how starting as primarily an update anchor in Houston helped him learn the local sports landscape (11:33), his tip for out-of-town sportscasters looking to learn their new home teams (15:11), switching between his on and off-air personas (19:12), the balancing act that is your personal and public life and when it’s best to have the two cross over (20:45), when dealing with Twitter reaction becomes exhausting and it might be best to hold it for his show (26:40), how covering losing teams can affect you personally (29:36), why it’s easier to build a winner in baseball than basketball (33:11), his strategy of contacting program directors to help build relationships and get feedback (37:37), the value of getting reps in to hone your voice as a broadcaster (40:06), if you’re looking to be on-air talent, should you take a producer job at the bigger station or on-air spot at a smaller station? (43:15), the role luck and talent play in getting a job (51:19), can Syracuse beat Gonzaga and will the Astros go to the World Series (56:20) and Mike’s turn at asking me a question (1:00:20).

Episode Two – Danny Parkins, 610 Sports Radio Kansas City

Danny Parkins, co-host of “The Drive with Danny and CDot” on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas is the guest this week. Here’s some of the stuff we talked about: The difference between Paul Harris, former Syracuse forward, and Bo Jackson (1:51), developing on-air chemistry with someone you don’t know well (10:03), the only two things you should say when you don’t know something in your job and how to handle learning and/or becoming an authority about a new city’s sports scene (19:39), what exactly talk show hosts do to prepare both before and after shows (28:07), when it’s worth saving your sports opinions for your show as opposed to your Twitter feed (39:11), his incredible/almost unbelievable start in radio—at his weirdly famous high school (42:55) and the transition from living off gambling post-college to barely making enough to afford a room in his first radio job (50:05). He also gives his thoughts on the name of this podcast (55:09), Syracuse basketball in the NCAA tournament (1:00:08), the 2016 Royals (1:02:11), dreams of a Chicago-based future (1:04:28) and gladly takes his chance to ask me a question (1:08:20).