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Bomani Jones Is Blazing His Own Trail In Sports Media

Jason Barrett

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Bomani Jones likes to talk. Not just in the selfish manner of someone who likes to hear himself, but as someone interested in sharing ideas with anyone who’ll listen. He’s hardly predictable, rarely brief, and full of elongated vowels. His cadence is too quick to diminish as a drawl, yet distinctly relaxed and unmistakably southern. He’s both common and unique; the approachable man with the unattainable intellect. Holding master’s degrees in both politics and economics, he’s regularly called the smartest person in sports media. But “smartest” feels too lofty for someone so grounded, no?

“I have everyman tendencies.” says Jones over the phone while overlooking the pastel glitz of South Beach. “But at this point, talking to you on the balcony of this beachfront condo, it’s very difficult for me to sell that as the everyman experience. That being said, I do feel like the everyman that somehow ended up in a beachfront condo.”

Besides, what is it to be ‘smart’ anyway? Is it retention or comprehension? What value does it have without proper dissemination? What value does that have if it devolves into mere rhetoric? Trite questions, yes, however they matter to anyone looking to amass an audience rooted in sincerity. So Jones asks himself daily, and the numbers for his ESPN radio show, The Right Time, keep growing. Considering his non-traditional background and the fact he was fired four times in five years— including once by ESPN—perhaps we should be calling him the luckiest man in sports?

You see, those four letters screwed a lot of people this year. Through controversy, circumstance, or cord cutting, three of ESPN’s most notable names—Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock—all departed along with hundreds of full time employees and millions of dollars in subscriptions. But from the quaint little corner of the internet in which many of us reside, only Grantland was mourned. Only Grantland mattered.

ESPN is more than a conglomerate. It’s as intrinsic and inescapable to sports fans as the sky itself. Yet despite compelling documentaries, interviews and reporting, their reliance on hot takes and insipid sound bytes have left us wondering whether the goal is driving discussion or simply drawing attention. Grantland’s existence was a tacit acknowledgement that there was more to be said; that there was more than the bottom line, that the sky rains on the just and the unjust alike. But the last thing they need is another eulogy. We just need another Grantland.

Jones, 35, couldn’t have risen to prominence at a better time. While his style differs greatly from Simmons, or for that matter any of the folks formerly associated with Grantland, he can more than match their level of substance. The Right Time is a forum for deconstructing the complex and celebrating silliness, a place where the message is never compromised and the news is only as mundane as you make it. The power of the written word remains self-evident, however, as we become more connected online and the news cycle turns faster each day, by the time the word is written, the conversation has changed. But radio, the dinosaur of all media technologies, has always allowed the discussion to happen in real time. The Right Time, even. It’s what Jones lives for.

Born in Atlanta and raised in Houston, Jones is the son of professors in economics and political science. Discussion is in his blood. A childhood surrounded by PhDs enriched it. Yet it was only after a bachelor’s from Clark Atlanta University and a master’s from Claremont that—en route a master’s in economics at UNC Chapel Hill under renowned economist Sandy Darity—our protagonist found his calling.

A mutual friend shared Jones’ fledgling work with the late Ralph Wiley, who complimented Jones on his writing. A year later, Jones received his first assignment upon Wiley’s recommendation for ESPN. Two years later, he was under contract with the Worldwide Leader. Briefly, that is. The one-year contract was not renewed. But hey, sometimes that’s just the way things work and it was through this turn of events that Jones found the radio. Back in North Carolina, this time at Duke as an adjunct professor on the Black Athlete in America, he was asked by a friend to host a Saturday sports show on 850 The Buzz, in Raleigh. The rest, as they say, is history.

Except, it wasn’t. A year later the station was sold and Jones read of his replacement in a press release. He made a few more stops; Hardcore Sports Radio, The Score, SB Nation, but in the interest of your time and our space, let’s just say he learned two all-important lessons on his way back to ESPN: He would never be afraid to be himself and if he lost a job, it wasn’t the end of the world.

To continue reading this article visit Complex where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

Danny Balis Joins 97.1 The Freak

“I feel kind of nervous because I haven’t done this in a long time. I thought this may not ever happen to me again, to do radio with people I’ve known for a very, very long time.”

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Longtime Sportsradio 96.7/1310 The Ticket producer Danny Balis is joining 97.1 The Freak in Dallas.

Balis was introduced Monday as the newest member of The Downbeat cast, which already features Mike Rhyner, Mike Sirois, and Michael Gruber.

“He was the one I want, and I get what I want here,” Rhyner said during Monday’s announcement.

“I’m excited,” said Balis. “I feel kind of nervous because I haven’t done this in a long time. I thought this may not ever happen to me again, to do radio with people I’ve known for a very, very long time.”

Balis left The Ticket in May, citing an interest in focusing on other areas of his life outside of radio. He served as a producer at the station for 22 years before stepping aside. At the time, he said “The room for growth for me up here is not going to open up until all you knuckleheads retire,” the 54-year-old joked.

In addition to his work with The Freak, Balis continues to co-own the Twilite Lounge in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

97.1 The Freak launched in October, and features a “broad-based, personality driven format” that features several former Dallas sports radio personalities including Rhyner, and Ben and Skin among others.

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Sports Radio News

Shan & RJ: We Have Questions About Jerry Jones But Washington Post Report Isn’t One of Them

“We all have some skeletons in our closet, but to throw the weight of the word racist on anyone, you’re gonna have to come with more than that.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones found himself in the headlines last week ahead of the team’s Thanksgiving Day game, but it was largely seen as something that didn’t need to be dragged out into the spotlight, and 105.3 The Fan hosts Shan and RJ agreed.

The Washington Post last week published a photo from 1957 showing a 14-year-old Jones among a crowd of onlookers as white students tried to block the path of some Black students attempting to enter his North Little Rock, Arkansas high school.

The piece focused on Jones, who is the Cowboys general manager, never hiring a Black head coach in the entire time he’s owned the franchise.

On Monday, Shan Shariff said it seemed a bit much to use that photo and article to paint Jones as some sort of racist.

“There’s certainly a bunch of stories out there that we know on and off the record about Jerry Jones that makes me question his morals,” he said. “We all have some skeletons in our closet, but to throw the weight of the word racist on anyone, you’re gonna have to come with more than that.”

Cowboys insider Bobby Belt, who was filling in for co-host RJ Choppy on Shan & RJ, said Jones has likely evolved like a lot of people do over time. He didn’t think it was fair to necessarily say Jones was racist.

“I’m not gonna speak for anyone else but I don’t believe he’s racist,” Belt said. “I think there are enough people who have dealt with him who are African American who would tell you they don’t think he’s racist. But it’s still not a thing that you can just write off to ‘Oh I was just standing there.'”

Jones admitted to the Post that his football coach at the time told him and other players not to get involved or be among the crowd for that moment, but he went anyway.

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Sports Radio News

DiPietro & Rothenberg: NFL TV Partners Should Schedule Jets and Giants at Opposite Times

Jordan Bondurant

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For the first time in a long time, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets are factors in the NFL playoff picture. After years of both franchises occupying the bottom portions of the league standings, fans in New York and the surrounding area have a reason to believe. On DiPietro & Rothenberg on ESPN New York, Dave Rothenberg said he thinks the league should put both teams in more marquee windows.

“When you start to think about flexing games, you start to think about you know what, the Giants and Jets should be flexed into better time slots,” he said.

Co-host Rick DiPietro said it sucks now that both teams are playing well, fans are essentially forced to flip back and forth between games.

“It’s awful. It really is,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that it ruins the Sunday because that would be hard. But it’s not my favorite.”

Still, it’s not lost on Rothenberg that football fans in the city now have something to cheer for NFL wise as the last chunk of the regular season approaches.

“When was the last time the Jets and Giants in December had meaningful football games?” Rothenberg asked. “Years and years and years.”

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