Just imagine… Jim Rome, while at UC Santa Barbara in the ’80s, telling his instructors he wants to have his own podcast.
Or, in 2003, Colin Cowherd telling his thousands of Twitter followers to tweet @ESPNRadio that he should be the person to replace Tony Kornheiser.
Our world is so different these days. You can listen to the “radio” on your smartphone, don’t need to wait until the 11 p.m. news to see all the highlights of the Yankees/Red Sox, and, somehow, someone who’s “YouTube Famous” is giving you their hot sports opinion on the New England Patriots as soon as the game ends.
The people who call this world their “normal” are revolutionizing sports media right before us old folks’ very eyes and ears.
Across the country, today’s college students view “radio” as outdated — not extinct, because they are aware it exists. Outdated because, just like how you can still use a flip phone to make a call, flip phones are nowhere near cool. Radio, in its traditional form, is not cool to them. What is cool, however, are the many other parts emerging in this new world of sports media — podcasting, blogging (either in word or video form), and leading a sports team’s social media accounts, in addition to the long-established talk show hosting and play-by-play.
“I have a student right now; I don’t think the kid listens to radio. He literally gets everything off of YouTube or a podcast,” said Josh Dover, midday show co-host on Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 in Denver, in an exclusive interview with Barrett Sports Media. Dover is also an instructor at the Colorado Media School. “The younger generation, people under 25, radio is something that they’re aware of, but it’s not where they’re getting their information from.”
Jeff Brown, faculty General Manager of CommRadio, a student-run online radio station at Penn State University, concurred: “They view it a lot different these days. Here at CommRadio, most of the students are involved in sports, and they see that if they do have a place in radio, it will probably be in sports or doing some sort of blog. I went from having no students doing blogs 10 years ago to most students having their own blogs these days. They’re seeing that as a way of possibly making money or at least bridging them until they can get to a job that they want (in the industry).”
You can’t blame today’s young adults for not holding traditional radio in the glory that those who are 35, 40 and up think of it. Today’s young adults literally grew up with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and podcasts. Today’s young adults grew up visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers’ or Miami Dolphins’ team websites daily, watching team-produced videos and other content. They grew up following their favorite athletes like LeBron James and Steph Curry on Twitter, believing that having your own online brand and voice is how the world works. Because of all this technology, opportunities for jobs are exploding all over the sports media landscape. And it has the attention of colleges and universities around the country.
Expect more and more institutions of higher learning to be adding a “sports media” major to its offerings. What most seasoned individuals know as “journalism” or “broadcast journalism” in their college days is becoming even more specialized, more focused on sports media because there are so many facets to it, rather than just being a reporter or on-air host.
Point Park University, a private institution in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh, introduced “sports communication” as a major earlier this year. Point Park is known for its School of Communication, but Bernie Ankney, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Communication, told Barrett Sports Media the demand was there for the new major.
“They’re just really, really popular with kids,” he said about sports media, “because if you come to Point Park, you can be taking photos of Point Park athletics, you can be doing social media, podcasting, you can be shooting and editing video…so it’s a very hands-on program. Also, being in Pittsburgh, one of the best sports markets in the country, just opens up all sorts of opportunities off-campus as well.”
As soon as the major was introduced a few months ago, some students transferred into the major, Ankney said. And some incoming freshmen already have their eyes set on the major when they begin attending the university in the fall.
Ankney actually started a sports communication “minor” at his previous place of employment, Sanford University, in Birmingham. He said Point Park’s sports media major is one of about 25 in the country that have emerged in recent years at universities. In 2015, Arizona State University began its bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in sports journalism, its first standalone degree programs for a specific beat, as reported in the Columbia Journalism Review. The Columbia Journalism Review also noted that the University of Georgia’s Grady College began a certificate program in sports journalism a year earlier.
Indiana University is another school that’s gotten in on the act, offering a “concentration in sports media” as part of its Bachelor of Arts in Media degree.
Penn State established its school of sports journalism in 2003, and it was named after heralded journalist and first USA Today editor John Curley in 2006. Brown told BSM the fastest growing department is social media. “Social media is really where the jobs are at,” he said. Still, there are plenty of students who love the play-by-play career trajectory. “Steve Jones (Penn State football and men’s basketball play-by-play announcer) has his own section; it’s not even available to anybody until their junior year and they have to earn their way into there,” Brown said.
“We send our students (pre-COVID) to every away football game, they do play-by-play of that, they do play-by-play of all the major sports here at Penn State and even the minor sports that can translate to radio,” Brown added. “They get a full complement of any sport they may be interested in; I encourage them to learn the ones they don’t because coming out now, if you can go to a smaller radio station and…do play-by-play of soccer, of volleyball, that helps them get jobs. That’s what we want them to do, ultimately; find a position.”
“Voice of the Orange,” Matt Park, is seeing the “across-the-board” aspirations of students in sports media at Syracuse University. “We’re fortunate to have a relatively large group of students with a wide array of backgrounds and interests,” he told BSM in an exclusive interview. “There may be fewer students on the local TV (or ‘SportsCenter’) track, but still plenty want to do that.” But now you can add production, podcasting and writing in various forms to the list in student interests, he said, along with play-by-play, reporting/anchoring and talk show hosting.
Over in Broncos country, Dover told BSM he’s come across something that may surprise — or irk — some sports radio lifers.
“I’m 37 years old…for me, podcasts and radio are very different,” the Altitude 92.5 host said. “I want to host a radio show; I think that they (today’s college students) believe hosting a podcast is the same thing.”
Podcasts’ meteoric rise is well-documented, and the huge investments that traditional radio companies IheartMedia and Audacy have made in podcasting shows that podcasts are here to stay.
Dover teaches a seven-month sports emphasis program at the Colorado Media School, which encompasses talk radio, play-by-play, a debate-style TV show and a “SportsCenter”-style show. He said his students either want to be an on-air host or some sort of social media director for a sports team or other reputable entity.
Though podcasting is a growing medium, Dover stressed that radio is a medium that will never fully go away. He said it’s important that today’s college students understand certain radio principles that, when combined with great content and great “takes,” can create a win-win for everyone — the host, the station, the industry as a whole.
Radio “is something I can turn on in my car. It’s something my dad and uncle can turn on in their car,” Dover told BSM. “If I send a link to my uncle of a podcast, I’m not sure he’s going to find it or even want to try to find it….There’s always going to be a button on my car that allows me to listen to the radio.”
5 Goals: Taylor Rooks
“I want to speak to all people, not just a specific category of people.”
Taylor Rooks is a personality for Turner Sports and Bleacher Report. Here, in her own words, are her five goals:
1. I want to be an all-around interviewer.
What I mean by that is I want to reach a point where people don’t just know me as a sports interviewer, where people don’t say oh she interviews athletes and coaches and executives … I want people to see me as someone who has conversations with people who have something to say.
If that’s an athlete, great. If that’s a politician, great. If it’s an entertainer, great. If that’s just somebody who has an everyday job but they have something to say to the world, I want to be able to interview that person too. I want to speak to all people, not just a specific category of people.
A lot of that is on me reaching out to those people, and having a content vehicle that allows me to do that, but when I think of my favorite interviewers — Howard Stern, Oprah — their thing is they can talk to anyone. I want to do that.
Some people I want to interview: I got to interview Barack Obama, and that’s who I would’ve said. But, that was quick. I would love to have a long-form interview with him. Obviously, I’d have to throw in Michelle Obama as well.
Mariah Carey, I know that’s a random one, but she’s just lived such an interesting, lavish life. I read her book, and there were some things she didn’t really touch. Obviously, in your book, you don’t touch on the things that you don’t want to talk about. I would love to interview her.
Serena Williams, I know she’s obviously an athlete, but I’d love to interview her. Howard Stern is my favorite interviewer so I’d love to interview him. She’s unfortunately passed, but if I could interview anyone who is no longer with us I’d love to interview Princess Diana. And, Pam Oliver, who is a legend. Hopefully I can meet and later interview her.
2. Create a foundation or initiative for women in sports.
At first, I wanted it to be just for Black and Brown women, and I might have a branch of it that’s for that, but then I wanted it to be for all women. Right now there’s this idea that women in sports don’t get along, or that it’s incredibly catty, or everyone is out to get the other. In some ways, that’s probably true, but I think the majority of women want to see other women in this field win. We understand that a win for one of us is a win for all of us.
I don’t think there’s enough focus on the culture that’s created this idea that women are catty or whatever the case may be, because I don’t believe that to be true. I think the more that we can get women in sports together, and there’s more of a sisterhood and deeper innate understanding of each other — the more we can do what we can to improve that culture and hopefully the people who have created that culture do what they can to improve it too.
Everybody is trying to work hard and get what’s owed to them. You always hear Well, women in sports, but you never say Men in sports. You never say This man is a power hungry person [or it’s at least not said in a negative way]. That’s a very unfair burden on the women to carry. I don’t like it. I think women that are entering into the space are conditioned to think that’s true, because they hear it so much. I would like to have something that dispels the one-sidedness of the rumor.
3. I want to travel more and fluently learn a second language.
Throughout the pandemic, I started doing Duolingo to learn Spanish. Americans are one of the few countries that only know one language. Almost every other country it’s almost a necessity that they know another language, even if that language is English.
I would just like to expand my horizons in terms of culture and language and understanding that America is only a small section of the world, but so many times we feel like we’re the center of everything. That just isn’t true. I want to learn a new language, travel more, get more in-tune with other places and cultures and get into things like soccer. I want to stop thinking of things from such an American point of view.
4. This is a lifelong goal, but I really want to be a mom.
I’ve really wanted to be a mom my entire life, and there’s something so beautiful about raising a life and having this human being that is born out of love that you have this number one job — the biggest job you’ll have in the world, which is to nurture and protect and love this human. I definitely want to be a mom.
I want to have like five kids. I probably should’ve started by now if that’s the case (laughing). I want to be a mom. That’s my number one goal above everything.
5. I want to do more football.
Just being from Georgia, in the South, I grew up loving football. My dad played football. It was a football house. I love basketball — I love them both, but I just love football a little bit more.
I’ve gotten kind of sucked into doing mainly NBA, which is great and has led to so many amazing experiences, but I just wish I had more of a hand in football. I would love to be able to do more of that.
6. Bonus Goal: I would love to be a professor.
I want to teach journalism interviewing at the college level, just because I don’t love the way it is taught at universities. It’s taught in the way that the professors went through media, and media is so different now that I just think students would really benefit from having someone who came up in this new wave of journalism and social media and content creation. That’s the way it’s going.
It’s still obviously great to have these classes where everyone works as the producer one day, and the director, and the teleprompter. You go through all those things, and learn about investigative reporting. All that is so important. But that isn’t what a lot of young journalists want to do now, so being like a visiting professor at a school is something I would love to do one day.
Five Goals: Will Cain
“I think most Americans largely agree on some positive values that we’ve forgotten.”
Will Cain is the co-host of FOX & Friends Weekend (Weekends, 6-10 AM/ET) on FOX News and host of The Will Cain Podcast, which recently expanded to three episodes per week. In his own words, these are his five goals.
1) Do Something.
One of the statements that’s really resonated with me as I’ve gotten older in life is: Do you want to be something, or do you want to do something in life?
This week I’m getting to host FOX News Primetime and I’m excited about that opportunity. But whether or not that manifests in a permanent job and whether or not the Will Cain Podcast as a digital platform becomes my outlet, I want to have a place where I can create something. Do something.
I want to hold a conversation with the audience that pushes towards positive values in this country. I don’t just want to be anti. You know, everything in our industry is conflicts centered around being anti. Anti-racist or anti-anti-racist, always positioning what you’re against.
I think most Americans largely agree on some positive values that we’ve forgotten. Whether or not it’s FOX News Primetime, or another primetime slot, or a digital platform, I don’t care — as long as I can do something about shining a light and advancing those values.
2) I want to live on the beach.
My wife and I *will* live on the beach. I love the mountains. I lived in Montana for a year. I love the country. I want to own a ranch. I want to spend time outdoors. I want to hunt and fish with my boys.
But I know, at some point in my life, and it’s probably after my kids are out of the house, my wife and I fully intend to live on a beach — in Hawaii or Florida or California.
(RG: I interrupted, laughing, that I don’t see him as a California guy.)
When I lived in New York, I went to the beach all the time in Long Island. You forget that you’re an hour away from the beach when you’re walking around Midtown. We would go to the beach all the way through the Fall. I like all kinds of places. Make no mistake, I’m a Texan, but I don’t think Texas beaches will satisfy my requirement.
There’s something about looking out over that massive body of water. It’s just perspective. I think I have an exploratory part of me where I love going somewhere that it feels like no one has been before.
There’s a line in Lonesome Dove where Gus says, “There’s nothing like riding a fine horse into new country.” I love that line. There’s something about the ocean, when you’re standing on the beach, it just looks endless. It’s not unexplored, but it feels unexplored. It’s always changing. It’s always moving. There’s just the great unknown there as you’re looking out over the ocean and that appeals to my exploration instinct.
3) I want to become a proficient surfer.
This is totally against the cast type you have for me, but you know there’s those things in life that people love but they’re just not great at but they do it anyway. People should have those things. For a lot of guys, that’s golf. They just keep doing it no matter if they’re any good at it or not. Golf just never did it for me.
This is tied to living on the beach; I’m not any good at surfing but I do it any chance I can. I love surfing. Fun is not the right word. I understand the spiritual nature of it when you’re out there. You can’t conquer the ocean. You can’t tame it. All you can do is try to ride along with it. And even if you’re not, just sitting out there waiting is so spiritual. I want to become a proficient surfer.
4) Swim from Lanai to Maui again.
This is very Hawaii-centric; I did just come back from there. We go there for vacation every year.
Here’s the thing. I’ve done this swim before. I did it when I was 39; I wanted to do it before I turned 40. It’s a swim, nine miles, across the channel between those two islands. It’s a relay, with six friends of yours. It was an awesome, humbling experience.
All my friends and I talked about going into it was who’s going to get eaten by sharks. That’s all we thought about, were sharks. But once you’re out there, swimming, you forget about sharks almost immediately. All you can see is deep blue sea and you realize there’s nothing you can do about it anyway — and you’re fighting the ocean.
I want to do more than one physical accomplishment before this life is over. I don’t really want to run a marathon. I hate running. Maybe hike a peak somewhere, but I haven’t really set that out as a goal. But the one thing I know I can do, and I have done, is open water swims.
I don’t love open water swimming, because it’s usually cold. Like, Alcatraz or the English Channel, which is not something I intend to do. I want to the Lanai to Maui swim with my buddies again; that’s going to be my placeholder for more than one physical challenge that I want to do again in my life.
I don’t want this to sound too much like my first goal, but I’ve learned the difference the last few years between careerism and purpose. But, I have two sons, my wife, and myself. If I can do something, beyond all my other goals in life, it’s for all of us to find our purpose. What we’re doing here.
Without that, we’re just aimless. I think a lack of purpose is the major source of depression and anxiety for almost everyone in society. I don’t even think it’s if you have a job or not. I think it’s Why do I wake up every day and do what I do? What actually matters?
Your career can only be loosely tied to that. Maybe more so if you’re lucky or if you’re purposeful in how you create that. But — money, advancement, promotion, fame, platforms … they’ll all quickly lose their allure. They really will, and they’ll show themselves to be hollow. If you can find a purpose, and I do think religion is probably a necessary component to that search, then I think you’re going to find a fulfilled life. That’s what I want for myself and my family when I raise these two boys.
6) Bonus sports goal: I’m torn between whether I want to see, along with my sons, another Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl or the Texas Longhorns dominating the SEC.
The funny thing about sports is, they’re not my goals how can I have a goal that someone else will accomplish? (RG: I mentioned that seeing a championship before you die is a multi-variable equation in which we do have some control, and that he could eventually gain access to future Dallas Cowboys owner Stephen Jones and/or become a Texas booster funding NIL endorsements.)
Whatever Arch Manning’s son’s name is, playing quarterback for Texas, sponsored by the Will Cain Show on FOX News. That’ll make him popular, too (laughing).
The way I figure it, if you win the SEC, you win the national title. It would be so vindicating after I’ve heard that Texas is going to be a mediocre team. Maybe they will at first, but they won’t be for long. I want to prove that Texas belongs.
Five Goals: Kendrick Perkins
“I just want to make sure that whatever is there for me that I maximize it.”
Kendrick Perkins, NBA champion, is an analyst for ESPN. He appears on HoopStreams, The Jump, SportsNation, First Take, and myriad other platforms for the network. I caught up with him in Milwaukee before Game 4 of the NBA Finals to find out about five goals he is still working to accomplish.
1. I want to accomplish more as an analyst than I did in my playing career.
I don’t want to leave anything on the table. Whatever’s supposed to come my way, I want to make sure I capitalize and maximize it.
When you look at my playing career, I never won awards. I never was an All-Star. I never won Defensive Player of the Year. I never won any of those things. When you talk about being an analyst, you want to get nominated for an Emmy. You want it to come naturally. So, I just want to maximize and make sure I put my all into it.
I was a role player throughout my whole 14-year NBA career. Now, in the analyst space, I want to be a superstar. I want to be a franchise player.
I just want to make sure that whatever is there for me that I maximize it. I want to touch every show, and I’ve pretty much done that besides NBA Countdown. I know you have to wait for your time, I know certain things happen. But, as far as things are right now, I just want to touch every show. As far as Countdown, I don’t want to boot anyone or take their place, but if it’s there and the opportunity presents itself I want to welcome it with open arms.
2. I want something of my own in media.
Not necessarily hosting a show, but even if I’m a co-host. I want to be part of something that is every day where you tune in and Perk is going to be on this particular show. I know I’m on a lot of shows, but I want that primary show where you turn on the TV at this time and Perk is there.
3. For my 9-year-old son to accomplish his dream of making the NBA.
I coach my son’s team. They are nine years old and ranked number 1 in the country. My son has a dream of making it to the NBA and my goal is to get him to his goal. I have four kids but my 9-year-old is really into sports — especially basketball. As a family man, I want to be there.
There’s times where I have to work Monday through Friday, I leave Friday night, I might catch a tournament in Dallas, might catch a tournament in Miami, just to be there and make sure I’m there to coach and support — and then fly back and be ready for work on Monday. It’s a whole lot of travel.
4. My two oldest boys and me — we need to get in shape.
Abs need to be poking out. Things to that nature. No need to hire a trainer, because I know what to do and I know what to eat. So, it’s all about me setting an example for them and myself and sticking to it.
5. I want to turn my Frenchie dog breeding from a 6 figure business to 7 figures.
I breed exotic French bulldogs. I have six of them. My brother-in-law and I breed them. It started off with my dog Diesel, who we bought for $18,000. Then we bought a girl that cost $20,000. They’ve had four litters of puppies — litters of five, six, or seven. We made close to $230,000 just off the little puppies.
Well, now the Frenchie game has changed, and they have Fluffy Frenchies. Now you want to graduate to Fluffy Frenchies, which are like the best Frenchies ever. They’re just super exotic. They’re different because of their hair. They look like stuffed animals. It’s just the new thing around the world. There was one guy that made like $3 million in a month just off his dog’s stud fee.
To sell the puppies, you just get caught up in the Frenchie game. There’s all types of connections and things to that nature — around the world, from England to Spain and on and on, people are buying dogs. You’re connected throughout the world. Once you get into the Frenchie business, people reach out all the time.
If a person from, like, Spain spends $100,000 on a Frenchie, you’re not shipping that dog by yourself. It probably won’t make it. Someone will probably steal it on the way or it will quote-unquote get lost in the airport. So I would just hire someone to fly wherever it is in the world and just drop that dog off at the doorstep.