With an impressive career spanning three decades, being the face of ESPN and making $8 million annually, 53-year-old Stephen A. Smith is still chasing his dream job.
“My aspiration is to ultimately do late-night one day,” Smith told USA TODAY Sports.
Smith’s work ethic in sports media is hard to top, but his ability to keep moving career goal posts might be the key to avoiding complacency. Earlier this month, Smith launched another project for The Worldwide Leader, a new weeknight series on ESPN+ titled Stephen A’s World.
The show serves two purposes, adding star power to ESPN’s subscription platform, which costs users $5.99 per month, and giving Smith the freedom to get his feet wet in the late-night space.
“I think there’s a hole in late-night that I could help fill,” Smith added during his interview with USA TODAY Sports. “So when I think about Jimmy Kimmel, and Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon and those guys – I can’t forget Trevor Noah, who I think does a phenomenal job on Comedy Central – it’s something that I aspire to do as well.”
Smith’s biggest concern with a potential late-night show is the opening monologue, which is traditionally an opportunity for the host to begin the show with a stand-up style introduction.
“When I think about late-night, for example, the only thing I concern myself with is the opening monologue,” Smith said. “There’s nothing else in the show I don’t believe I can’t do. It’s just the opening monologue that I’ve always professed would be a challenge for me, because I don’t know if I would be funny intentionally. But nevertheless, it’s a challenge I’m ultimately willing to partake.”
A late-night show is something Smith has expressed interest in for a long time, calling it “the ultimate fantasy” in 2018. Smith ventured into the space with Quite Frankly on ESPN2 in 2005, but it was canceled after less than two years.
BetMGM Launches In New York On Monday
“Mobile wagering officially became legal in the Empire State over the weekend.”
BetMGM is the next man up in the New York Gaming Commision’s “rolling” plan to introduce new mobile sportsbooks in the state. The company announced via Twitter that it would begin taking bets on January 17.
Mobile wagering officially became legal in the Empire State over the weekend. Four books launched their New York operations on Saturday and saw massive returns. The state generating more tax revenue off one day of mobile wagering than it has in more than 30 months of retail betting.
Will BetMGM experience the same boom on day 1 that BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel all did upon their launch?
Probably not. Those four were the first mobile players in the market. Also, by launching on Monday, BetMGM will miss all but one game on the NFL Playoffs’ Super Wild Card Weekend.
But this is a long play. The population of New York State is large enough and BetMGM is well-enough-established to generate profit quickly. Besides, with the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders, and Sabers all in season, there will be no shortage of opportunities in the coming months for New Yorkers to fire up the BetMGM app and lay their money down.
FOX Sports Launches Podcast Network
“The Fox Sports Podcast Network will be the new home to premium podcasts from Fox Sports’ prominent voices and storytellers.”
Fox Sports officially launched its podcast network on Thursday, led by FS1 host Skip Bayless, and the network announced additional shows set to debut in the coming months.
The Fox Sports Podcast Network will be the new home to premium podcasts from Fox Sports’ prominent voices and storytellers.
“Fox Sports is the leading destination for top quality original digital content from the biggest personalities in sports,” said Fox Sports EVP and Head of Content Charlie Dixon said in a press release. “The creation of this new podcast network allows us to deliver fans exclusive commentary and enthralling stories providing hours of entertainment through this important medium.”
The Skip Bayless Show debuted Thursday and features Bayless breaking down the top sports stories combined with his own stories surrounding the biggest moments in athletics history. The weekly podcast, which will also feature interviews and unscripted responses to fan questions, rolled out alongside a number of pods that have already brought in millions of listeners.
Club Shay Shay is a podcast featuring Bayless’s Undisputed co-host Shannon Sharpe that has joined the network. Flippin’ Bats, hosted by Ben Verlander, and The No. 1 Ranked Show, presented by college football analyst RJ Young, are also among the offerings on the network.
Fox also announced debut dates for two highly-anticipated podcasts. What’s Wright with Nick Wright will feature a video series alongside the podcast offering and will premiere on March 1. Wright will be doing a lot of ranking on a variety of topics each week. The show will have new episodes every Tuesday.
Then in April, Tom Rinaldi will begin presenting what the network calls a serialized audio documentary about former Major League Baseball player Lyman Wesley Bostock Jr. The podcast is entitled Wesley. Bostock was one of baseball’s top players in the late 1970s before he was murdered in 1978. The podcast will be a deep dive into the events surrounding and including Bostock’s killing.
You can listen to Fox Sports Podcast Network shows on Apple and Spotify and on Fox digital platforms.
Lolo Jones Launches ‘Gold Medal Loser’ Podcast Through Blue Wire
“Jones is in a very small group of people who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Olympics.”
Podcasting company Blue Wire is continuing to expand. Summer and Winter Olympian Lolo Jones will be hosting the company’s latest podcast Gold Medal Loser. The podcast consists of interviews Jones recorded this summer while training for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, including Olympic skater Adam Rippon, Peleton instructor Jess Sims and former NBA player/current ESPN analyst Richard Jefferson walking Jones through the ups and downs of their careers.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of podcasts and have been interested in creating my own,” Lolo Jones told Awful Announcing via email. “As an athlete, I’m usually the interviewee and wanted to have some fun on the other side of the table. We thought it would be cool to interview folks from different walks of life—including a big focus on Olympians and Paralympians. I’m always fascinated about the different personal journeys all these talented people have taken to get to the top.”
Jones said Blue Wire proved to be a great fit for her to launch this podcast.
“They let me really control the creative direction and shape the show how I envisioned it—but I’m still new at this platform so I leaned on them for insight on how to make this a success.”
This isn’t Jones’ first rodeo when it comes to sports media either. She co-hosted a female-athlete-focused show with MJ Acosta and Lindsay Czarniak for Peacock called On Her Turf during the Tokyo Olympics. She also plans to work in media more frequently once her career ends. Roles like this while she’s still training offer more experience for her.
She said that can be tough to fit in while still competing though, especially in two different sports.
“I’ve tried to capitalize on any breaks I’ve had to get media experience…whether it be due to injury, competition seasons canceled from COVID, or any other extended windows where my training schedule is a little light.”
Jones is in a very small group of people who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. The list sits at 170 all-time. Elevn of them have represented the U.S.
Gold Medal Loser continues the long list of podcasts Blue Wire has done with professional athletes. It also continues the company’s approach of monetizing podcasts through cross-platform presenting sponsorships; this will be the fifth one they’ve done that way, and the second with Discover. Lolo Jones said she’s excited for people to get to listen to it and hopes it will be relevant to a wide range of listeners.
“Nobody has an easy or straight path to get to the top of our fields. Hopefully hearing about these life experiences will help the listener in some way. If you know me (or follow me on social), you know I’m always trying to do one of two things: inspire you or make you laugh. Hopefully this does both!”
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