Sports Radio News
A Closer Look At Clay Travis
When his job as a pro football reporter brought him to Nashville in previous years, John McClain would field questions from friends about what Titans stars Steve McNair and Eddie George were really like.
Now when McClain, the legendary reporter with the Houston Chronicle, comes to Nashville he fields the same question, but not about Titans players.
“Now when I come here it’s, ‘What is Clay Travis really like?'” McClain said. “And I tell them, ‘What do you think he’s like?’
In the past eight years, Clay Travis, a Nashville native and 1997 graduate of Martin Luther King Magnet High School, has propelled himself from a couch-crashing blogger and aspiring author to a one-man sports media brand.
Travis is one-third of the on-air team for “3HL,” the ratings-dominating afternoon rush-hour show on 104.5 The Zone. His website, OutkicktheCoverage.com, has a lucrative licensing deal with Fox Sports. And Travis has added national TV to his list of accomplishments as part of Fox Sports 1’s college football show.
He has broken stories of national interest, turned local YouTube videos into social media sensations and waded happily into any and every controversial sports topic imaginable. And he has a certain knack for provoking vitriol in a way that great sports commentators seem to relish.
Not bad for a kid whose MLK classmates voted him “most likely to fall down while bowling.”
Travis is now a full-fledged celebrity, the guy sports fans in Nashville and throughout the Southeast want to know “what he’s really like.”
But eight years ago that sort of success appeared to be far away.
Dissatisfied with practicing law, which he did as a litigator and general practitioner in the Virgin Islands after graduating from Vanderbilt University School of Law, Travis set out to write his first sports book, “Dixieland Delight.”
He scalped tickets on the cheap, slept on friends’ couches and hit up all 12 SEC stadiums for about $3,000 in the fall of 2006 for his book about the region’s football culture.
The book was a success and, combined with his growing audience as a columnist on CBSSports.com, where he started writing for free, helped Travis’ career gain traction. He went on to write for a variety of websites and was able to make a living writing about this passion.
But if things had worked out a little differently, Travis actually might have had a career in politics instead of sports commentary.
Related: Full transcript of Clay Travis interview
During his time as an undergrad student at George Washington University, Travis interned for four summers in the office of then-U.S. Rep. Bob Clement.
He got a paying job on U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s 2002 campaign for the Nashville-area congressional seat, but Travis was fired from that gig. Travis said he went to see his girlfriend, now wife Lara Travis, out of town and had travel problems so he couldn’t return to the campaign as scheduled. That came on the heels of crashing the car of Cooper’s wife, Martha, and Travis was let go.
“It’s interesting to think about what I would have done,” Travis said. “I never really thought I would practice law because I always thought it was too slow-moving. Politics and writing were, I think, the two things that had the most appeal for me. That probably pushed me more toward the writing side versus the politics side.”
Stirring things up
Not long after writing “Dixieland Delight,” Travis began his radio career by doing a Tuesday night show with 104.5 The Zone host Chad Withrow. It was then that the station’s program director, Brad Willis, noticed Travis’ talent on the air. Opinionated, quick on his feet and completely unafraid to wade into controversy, Travis approached broadcasting with a litigator’s ferocity and a blogger’s irreverence.
He was added to the station’s midday show, which after achieving ratings success was moved to the prime 3-6 p.m. drive time slot.
“He’s a lightning rod because he’s opinionated,” Willis said. “When you have an opinion like that — when you’re on one side of the fence or the other — you’re going to stir things up a bit.”
Travis said his contract with “3HL” expires Aug. 31, and the two sides are in negotiations about an extension. Willis declined to comment.
To read the rest of the story visit The Tennessean where it was first published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports Radio News
Mike Evans: ESPN is Going To Have to Cover the Nuggets Next Week
“If they want to get anything out of their investment, they’ve got to do their best to pump this thing up.”
When the Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals, much of the ESPN coverage centered around the Los Angeles Lakers being swept. Viewers perceived there being minimal mentions of Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and the rest of the Nuggets organization and what the team had just accomplished.
Brian Windhorst appeared on ESPN and stated the Lakers were terrific at going down in the series and calling the sweep an impressive performance by the team.
“I have to admit – my entire life as a sports fan, covering sports – countless locker rooms [and] press conferences – I don’t think I’ve heard anything dumber than that,” said Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan host Mike Evans.
ESPN has received its fair share of criticism, magnified when NBA on TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley expressed his disdain for the lack of Denver Nuggets coverage on television. LeBron James divulging that he is weighing retirement ostensibly played a role in the plans for talking points since he is widely regarded as one of the top players to ever take the court. Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals takes place on Thursday, June 1, meaning ESPN has over a week until the action commences; however, the show believes that placing the Lakers at the forefront imparts an agenda focused on garnering television ratings.
“‘What’s LeBron’s legacy?’,” co-host Mark Schlereth suggested as a topic on ESPN. “How does this win affect his legacy? Will he or will he not come back?’ Dude, the Nuggets just went to the Finals for the first time in their 47-year existence.”
“‘Kyrie Irving courtside!,’” Evans mocked an ESPN host saying. “‘Are they going to team up again?’”
The show proceeded to refer to Windhorst as a fanboy, especially since he covered James for the majority of his NBA career. They had ESPN on in a studio television throughout the show and saw no coverage pertaining to the Denver Nuggets, instead saying that the shows were centered around James, head coach Darvin Ham and the Lakers’ future. Nonetheless, Evans assumes things will change as the NBA Finals draw near.
“Starting next week, it’ll all be about the Nuggets and [Miami] Heat because ultimately no matter what you want to say about ESPN or how mad you are about ESPN, they do have the NBA Finals,” Evans articulated. “If they want to get anything out of their investment, they’ve got to do their best to pump this thing up.”
Sports Radio News
Jon Ritchie: ‘Not Realistic’ for Mike Florio to Expect Answers From Howie Roseman
“I think your ask of Howie is ridiculous for him.”
Things got contentious this week on Pro Football Talk Live. Howie Roseman would not answer Mike Florio’s direct questions about tampering. Jon Ritchie listened to the audio Wednesday morning on 94 WIP and put the blame on Florio.
Before the NFL Draft, the NFL ruled that the Arizona Cardinals were guilty of tampering with then-Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon the week that the Eagles were in Arizona for Super Bowl LVII. Gannon was named head coach of the Cardinals the next day.
When Florio asked Roseman about it, Roseman offered what sounded like a prepared statement saying that it did not make sense for the Eagles to dwell on the past. Instead, he thanked Gannon for his work for the team and said that any tampering penalties and arguments were “made at the ownership level.”
While that answer did not satisfy Ritchie’s partner Joe DeCamara, Ritchie said that he isn’t sure what Florio or anyone else would expect Howie Roseman to say in that situation.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to expect Howie to put his heart out and give his true feelings. He doesn’t want to come out against the league,” he said.
The duo played more audio from the exchange in which Florio accused Howie Roseman of deflecting and asking if he would like to read his talking points for a third time. Roseman shot back that Florio is easily on a list of the NFL’s top 5 conspiracy theorists.
Just how contentious things actually were can be debated, but according to Jon Ritchie, one of them deserves more criticism than the other.
“I thought Florio came across as rude yesterday,” he said. “I think your ask of Howie is ridiculous for him. We’re standing up like an adult and sticking to our guns, the high-road guns, and I appreciate that. Think of what you’re asking Howie to do, like take aim at the league…That’s not realistic.”
Sports Radio News
Fred Toucher: ‘ESPN is Now Just 3 People’
“Stephen A. Smith is on in the morning. He’s on the radio. He does a podcast. He’s at all the games. He does the postgames.”
How deep is the talent rotation at ESPN? Not very according to Fred Toucher. The 98.5 The Sports Hub morning host has certainly noticed that the network is turning to a small handfull of stars to do the bulk of the work.
“ESPN is now like three people, and Stephen A. Smith is on in the morning. He’s on the radio. He does a podcast. He’s at all the games. He does the postgames,” morning host Fred Toucher said. “Imagine if we had a microphone in front of us 12 hours a day…The guy’s going to snap one time.”
That led to a new segment on Toucher & Rich titled “Stephen A. Smith is horny” with music by R&B artist Barry White playing in the background. Throughout the nearly 20-minute aside, the show played clips from Smith’s Cadence 13-produced podcast recently renamed The Stephen A. Smith Show, and spoke about how he is now giving dating advice to close out episodes of his show.
“My man can’t help getting horny on it every single episode,” Jon Wallach said. “He is trapped with a microphone in front of him 18 hours a day – he really is. He’s on TV and the radio and podcast. It doesn’t stop.”
Because of Smith’s busy schedule across ESPN programming – including First Take, NBA Countdown, NBA in Stephen A’s World and guest appearances on shows such as SportsCenter and Get Up – he seems to be over the airwaves more often than not. On top of that, he hosts new episodes of his podcast at least three times a week. He has said the network did research that found he had reached 1.7 billion people on ESPN’s YouTube page last year, and that the number is expected to hit 2.4 billion at the end of this year.
The Boston morning show surmised that since Smith hardly has moments away from his profession, he cannot help but to talk about topics such as dating advice to vary the content.
“He just loves to drop into that sexy – ‘We’re going to do dating advice because everyone’s reaching out for dating advice from Stephen A. Smith,’” Toucher said.