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It’s About Reps, Not Age For Jake Asman

“Asman is hosting his own show nationally syndicated show at 23 because of every little thing he did leading up to now.”

Tyler McComas

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The intro music played and the red light came on. It was show time. The all too familiar feeling for so many in the business, meant big nerves for Jake Asman. For the first time in his life, he was behind a live mic. There was no turning back now. 

Just about every show host can recall their first ever time on the air. For some, it came in college at the school’s radio station. For others, it came during an internship with a station. But for Asman, it came all the way back in the ninth grade at his high school in Long Island at WXWZ 88.5 FM. Most freshman in high school don’t have a clue as to what they want to do after they graduate. It’s a distant decision that will take care of itself in 3-4 years. But Asman wasn’t like most high school freshman. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. 

Granted, he can’t exactly remember what he talked about during his first day on the air, but he bets it was about his beloved New York Jets in the playoffs, seeing as his sports radio debut came in December of 2009. He always knew what he wanted to do, but this was more just confirmation. Asman wanted to be a sports radio host. 

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On Monday, Asman sat in the SB Nation studios at the ripe age of 23 to host the inaugural hour of The Power Hour with Jake Asman. He was hosting his own show with his own name attached to the title while in his early 20’s. Sure, there were probably a little bit of nerves, but nothing about it was overwhelming, seeing as he’d been in the seat many times before. Age didn’t matter as much as the number of reps he had received since his early days of high school. He was prepared for the moment and he delivered.

With PD Craig Larson and CEO David Gow deciding to grow and add talent at SB Nation, Asman was offered a weekday show from 7-8 p.m. It was a no-brainer decision for the guy that had graduated from Ithaca College just a short time before in 2017. But how did Asman move so quickly from a graduation gown, cap and tassel to a national radio show host?

The journey included working part time at WFAN/CBS Sports Radio as a board op and producer, as well as a short stop in Los Angeles to intern at Fox Sports Radio in the spring of 2016. While that time around the best in the business was extremely helpful, sometimes you have to just get behind the mic and figure out who you are and who you want to be.

After searching and searching for any kind of paid opening, Asman finally got an opportunity with an internet community start up called SportsOnTheGo1 Radio in Suffolk County, Long Island. At the same time he was with WFAN/CBS Sports Radio, SportsOnTheGo1 Radio gave him a daily show and even helped with sales to earn some extra cash. No, the listener base wasn’t huge, but he was getting the opportunity to learn the process and feel of doing a daily show. Plus, he was even able to take the show to the Super Bowl while he was there. 

Asman is hosting his own show nationally syndicated show at 23 because of every little thing he did leading up to now. It goes all the way back to hosting a show in the 9th grade and getting ahead of everyone else his age. Back to spending nearly a year with SportsOnTheGo1 Radio to improve as a show host, despite the lack of listeners. Back to internships in New York and Los Angeles that gave him a front row seat as to how a successful radio show is done. Back to working at ESPN 97.5 in Houston and SB Nation Radio where his fill-in worked proved he was capable of hosting a daily show. His hard work, determination and willingness to explore the business at an early age, paved the way for a successful start to his promising career.

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There’s no doubt in my mind that Asman is on a rocket ship up to the top of the business. His career trajectory is trending more favorably with each passing year. But his success isn’t by accident. Asman was once the young intern that read and listened to everything on Barrett Sports Media. But he was also the kid that found a way to get reps. If you’re someone who’s interested in the sports radio business but has no experience – find a way to get reps. It will only pay huge dividends in the long-term of your career. 

TM: How is it doing a one-hour show? Is it challenging to fit everything you think is relevant and worthy of being discussed?

JA: Yeah, it’s a great question. So far, in the last couple of months, I’ve had a couple of opportunities to fill in for an hour here and there. So I’ve had experience doing it and I really think it just depends on the time of the year and what’s going on. Monday was a cake walk, because it was just a preview of the national championship game. You hit that and a segment on Wild Card weekend and you’re good.

There’s definitely going to be some days, after football season ends, where you really have to think and decide what the lead stories are, or an interesting angle to those stories. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to because you have an opportunity to really be creative when it’s just an hour, knowing that the whole premise of the show is to look back at what happened for that day, as well as the big games to come that night. A good challenge will be to come up with something funny and creative that the listener didn’t hear if they were previously listening to sports radio all day. 

TM: Were you told by management, or maybe it’s just an unspoken rule, to really try to promote pieces from SB Nation on the air?

JA: So it’s interesting, with SB Nation Radio we promote a lot of our writers by having them on as guests. If you ever listen to the network on a random day, you’ll be hearing different writers and columnists on various shows throughout the day. The great thing about SB Nation Radio, is that anytime I had the opportunity to do extended fill-in work, a lot of times the guests would be writers from the website to cross-promote each other.

We also run a lot of spots on the network for SB Nation podcasts that are really starting to take off on the iTunes charts. But depending on the day and what the hot topic is, you’ll hear our writers on the air as guests. 

TM: SB Nation seems to be growing and adding talent. What’s the goal for the network?

JA: We added over 25 new affiliates with the biggest ones in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Tulsa. It’s really exciting. A lot of that, of course, has to do with NBC Sports Radio not being 24/7 with their coverage anymore, so I give a lot of credit to our program director and CEO, that’s Craig Larson, for being really aggressive and bringing affiliates.

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The hope, is that with bringing in more affiliates and expanding the reach of SB Nation Radio, it can only mean good things for everyone that works in the sales side of the network. I think we’re in a great place, it’s just the fact that we’re something different with our talent skewing as much younger than most. That offers fresh perspective on various topics throughout the day. Ultimately, 2019 is setting up to be a really awesome year, if you consider where SB Nation has been in year’s past and how it’s continuing to grow. 

TM: It’s unique that you’re able to contribute to both SB Nation Radio and ESPN 97.5. Are both of those studios in the same building?

JA: Yeah, both are in the same exact building and about 10 feet from each other. It’s pretty cool. Take someone like Patrick Creighton who now does our 9-noon show every day. He hosts a show on the network and then he has a show that airs at night from 7-9 on ESPN 97.5. Both companies intertwine. 

TM: If you’re young and trying to improve your hosting skills, can anything replace constant reps? Be it at a small station, podcast, whatever?

JA: I know this is Barrett Sports Media, I’ve been reading this site since the beginning. I remember when I was an intern at Fox Sports Radio in Los Angeles and I discovered it. I think a site like this, I think it’s awesome. If you’re into broadcasting and a radio junkie like I am, Barrett Sports Media is great to inform you and keep you up to date with what’s going on in the business.

I try to read everything and listen to as much sports talk radio as possible, but you said it best, there’s nothing that can replace reps. I think what’s great about where we are right now in 2019, is that anyone can find a mic and record a podcast. I spoke to a kid a few weeks ago that’s a ninth-grade student at the high school I went to, who wanted advice on how to get reps. I told him to find creative ways as possible to get experience. I always tell people to listen to sports talk radio, but do so with a critical ear. How are they formatting their show? What are they talking about? How are they developing the personalities? If you grew up listening to Mike Francesa on WFAN, that doesn’t mean try and be just like him. But you can ask yourself what makes him successful so you can find the format on how to do a really good show.

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If sports radio is what you want to do, listen to as much of it as possible. If you want to do play-by-play, listen to as much of it as possible. Try and study as much as the business as you can. But yes, again, there’s nothing you can do to replace reps. If that means podcast, blogging, or even talking into your own phone, anything you can do will help you. 

BSM Writers

The Chiefs & Eagles Have Super Bowl Game Plans, How About You?

“The Super Bowl is the biggest event in sports, no team would go in without a solid plan, your show shouldn’t either.”

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When it comes to preparation, I usually hold off. I’m a procrastinator’s procrastinator. It sounds better if I say; “I’m driven by deadlines,” but the truth is, I just generally put things off until they absolutely have to be checked off the list. If your goal as a producer is to have a great post-Super Bowl show, don’t be me, you best start working now.

There are many things that complicate booking guests for a Super Bowl reaction show. The obvious is that you have no idea who is winning the game. But, beyond that, you have no way of predicting what will be the biggest story coming out of the game. It could be anything from overtime to a blowout, halftime show debacle, officiating blunder, or even a surprise retirement announcement.

With that in mind, there are some strategies for targeting guests. With these, though, working ahead is paramount. Most anyone that is going to have enough insight to improve your show will be slammed in the hours following the end of the game.

Strategy 1: The Game Participant

This is a big risk, big reward strategy. It is also one that is only available to a select group of shows. If your show is nationally syndicated, in a very large market, or home market for one of the teams, you have a shot here. If not, the odds are not in your favor. The team’s media departments are as busy as anyone during a Super Bowl run. They aren’t likely to help a show they’ve never dealt with during that whirlwind of action.

I am reminded of a friend of mine who worked as the media relations director for a mid-major basketball team that sprung a huge round two upset and advanced to the Sweet 16. Needless to say, he was swamped overnight with interview requests for his coach. He told me every station led with “ESPN Radio” then mumbled the part about being in Puyallup, Washington. It never hurts to ask, but understand it is a long shot.

Strategy Two: Local Player Not In The Game

This can be a really solid idea for both previewing the Super Bowl and the Monday after the game. If you are in a local NFL market, or if a local college or high school star is in the NFL, consider him as an analyst. Who better knows what happens in an NFL game than an NFL player? Bonus points if he has been a Super Bowl participant in the past.

Don’t underestimate how many NFL players are thinking about life after football. One of the dozens of roles as NFL analyst at a major network is an excellent retirement plan. You don’t have to have a Hall of Fame jacket for those gigs, but you do need to be good on air. You might be surprised by how many players will agree to an interview with that in mind.

Strategy Three: The Trusted Analyst

Every network has all their biggest voices either In Phoenix or in the studio for the game. These are people that know the interview game and have plenty of experience. This strategy comes with some obvious hurdles; it turns out the networks paying the analysts to be on site keep them rather busy. While they might have been happy to join your show the Monday after Week Three, this is a different animal.

One other factor you should consider in this strategy is the fact that Sky Harbor airport will be one of the busiest in the world Monday morning. Many of the analysts will be scrambling home to start their off season as well. If your analyst is on the move, travel delays can wreck your whole plan.

Strategy Four: The Pop Culture Angle

Oftentimes the biggest talking point coming out of the game is one of the things happening outside the actual play on the field. If you watch Super Bowl Twitter, the biggest traffic moments are people joking about a slow starting Star Spangled Banner “hitting the over” or how bad the halftime show is. Regardless of the act, it has become the default position that the halftime show is awful, even when we all think they are pretty good. 50 Cent hanging upside down will forever be a meme.

Commercials are going to be a massive talking point after a game, especially if the game doesn’t quite deliver. Who is the voice that can talk to your audience about everything from Rihanna to a Taco Bell commercial? There is the inherent risk of alienating the “talk more sports” guy with this type of guest so, as you should with any guest, make certain they are entertaining.

The Super Bowl is the biggest event in sports, no team would go in without a solid plan, your show shouldn’t either. Communication between hosts and producers is critical. Have a plan, work ahead and be on the same page.

Most of all, try to enjoy the game – and take the Chiefs and the points.

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BSM Writers

ESPN Burying ‘Outside the Lines’ Shows Little Regard for Respected Brand

Continuing to use the ‘OTL’ brand is likely a nod to the great work of Bob Ley, Ryan Smith, and Jeremy Schaap.

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With the end of college football season and the Super Bowl marking the conclusion of the NFL season, ESPN has air time to fill on Saturday and Sunday mornings for the next six months. In past years, that opened up a window for the network to bring back its prestige news magazine program, Outside the Lines.

However, late last week, Sports Business Journal‘s John Ourand reported that ESPN has decided not to bring back the standalone OTL show. The program most recently aired Saturday mornings during football’s offseason, typically from mid-February through August. That timeslot essentially buried a show that was once an important part of ESPN’s Sunday morning programming.

Outside the Lines provided substantive, in-depth sports features, interviews, and discussions on Sunday mornings, when viewers were conditioned to expect important dialogue and commentary with weekly public affairs programs and political talk shows like Meet the Press and Face the Nation.

Originally anchored by Bob Ley, OTL was a departure from the highlights, analysis, and quips that made up most of the network’s programming. This was ESPN doing journalism with a capital “J,” reporting and investigating longer-form stories on pertinent issues in sports, usually off the field, and examining trends that developed through a news cycle.

Eventually, the number of stories the OTL staff worked on — and presumably, the appetite for such content from ESPN viewers — necessitated expanding the show to a daily schedule airing in mid-afternoons. After Ley retired in 2019, Ryan Smith and Jeremy Schaap hosted the show and continued its deeper look into topical sports stories.

Producing for a daily schedule probably spread the show too thin, however. Finding important stories that warranted the stronger coverage promised by the OTL brand became difficult, forcing the show to include panel discussions that resembled the sort of debate programming seen throughout the day on ESPN. As a result, OTL content was whittled down and integrated into the noon edition of SportsCenter each day.

OTL also suffered amid the inherent conflict at ESPN from having a news-gathering, journalistic operation while entering partnerships with the sports leagues it was covering. Hard-hitting reports on domestic violence issues in the NFL, particularly in light of the Ray Rice assault scandal, and player safety concerns with the rise in traumatic brain injuries gave the network’s producers and reporters credibility. But such stories also rankled league officials and team owners who sought more positive promotion for their sport.

ESPN would surely balk at the idea that it throttled back on in-depth reporting and scrutinization. But the network’s relationship with the NFL is obviously better than it once was, best demonstrated by getting better match-ups on the Monday Night Football schedule, Wild Card playoff games, and Super Bowl telecasts for ESPN/ABC in 2027 and 2031. Meanwhile, Outside the Lines has been effectively buried among ESPN programming.

Yet ratings ultimately decide what stays on a broadcast schedule and what doesn’t. And OTL hasn’t drawn a good number of viewers in quite some time. Some of that is likely influenced by an early Saturday morning timeslot that drew an average audience of 303,000. But SportsCenter AM attracts 572,000 viewers in the same timeslot, so it’s apparent that fans want quicker, breezier content as they begin the weekend.

Outside the Lines simply may not stand apart in the current sports media landscape, either. Longer-form storytelling and reporting are often found in documentaries now, and we’re living in the golden age of sports nonfiction films. That includes ESPN’s own documentary brands E:60, 30 For 30, and ESPN Films. (E:60, in particular, seems to have replaced news magazine programming or special reports, which were once reserved for monthly specials early in OTL‘s life, at ESPN.)

Shuttering the Saturday OTL fortunately won’t result in anyone losing a job. According to SBJ‘s Ourand, some staffers will be reassigned to other studio programs. And others will continue to work on OTL-branded content that runs on SportsCenter throughout the day, not just at noon, under the “OTL on SC” banner. Additionally, OTL content will run on ESPN’s digital platforms such as the network’s YouTube channel. So the show will go on… sort of.

ESPN obviously values the OTL brand and realizes that it carries respect among fans and media. (The show also penetrated pop culture enough to warrant a parody on Saturday Night Live.) Otherwise, the network might shelve the title entirely. Yet perhaps that’s really a nod to the work of Ley, an ESPN institution, and Schaap, one of the network’s best reporters (with ties to sports media royalty in Dick Schaap).

That may be Outside the Lines‘ true legacy. Ley created a brand (continued by Smith and Schaap) taken seriously enough that viewers knew it meant bolder sports journalism unafraid to explore stories and questions that warranted such attention. The OTL name carries enough weight that ESPN can’t bear to get rid of it entirely, even if it doesn’t hold the place at the network that it once did.

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BSM Writers

Chris Broussard Is No Longer Just A ‘Basketball Guy’

“There’s no doubt that gets attached to you and that can be good because you’re seen as an ‘expert’ in one sport which is great.”

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After embarking on a career in sports, Chris Broussard made a name for himself as a writer, specifically as it pertains to covering the NBA. Whether it was covering the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Akron Beacon Journal, covering the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets for The New York Times, or doing television hits for ESPN, Broussard had always, whether it was justified or not, been pigeon-holed as a “basketball guy”.

That was the perception then, but today, the reality is different.

“There’s no doubt that gets attached to you and that can be good because you’re seen as an ‘expert’ in one sport which is great,” said Broussard, the co-host of First Things First on FS1 and the co-host of The Odd Couple on FOX Sports Radio. 

“But what was good for me was that at ESPN, I had done First Take with Skip Bayless a lot.  There were a few years where it was a rotation and I was in that rotation. That enabled me to at least do the other sports.” 

Broussard has certainly made a seamless transition from print to electronic media.

After joining The New York Times in 1998, Broussard started to get television exposure doing local hits and then appearances on the various ESPN platforms would soon follow. He joined ESPN full-time in 2004 as a writer for ESPN The Magazine, but that also included regular guest appearances and fill-in hosting opportunities on shows like First Take and the opportunity to be a co-host for NBA Countdown for the 2010-11 season.

With that gig came the opportunity to work with Michael Wilbon, Jon Barry, and his childhood hero Magic Johnson.

“I think that may be have been the pinnacle because Magic is Magic,” said Broussard. “He was my favorite player until Jordan came along and (with Wilbon and Barry), we just had great chemistry.”

After one season, Broussard and Barry were replaced by Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose. A few years later, Broussard would make the move that would bring him to the next chapter of his career.

In 2016, Broussard left what amounted to being just a reporters role at ESPN for a new opportunity at FS1 where he would also be an analyst as well as a regular panelist for shows like Undisputed, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, First Things First and Lock It In.  In 2018, he began co-hosting The Odd Couple radio show with Rob Parker on FOX Sports Radio.

And then in August of 2021, Broussard was named the full-time co-host of First Things First, something that almost had happened when the network first launched.

“When they asked me to come on as a full-time co-host, it was great and maybe a long time coming,” said Broussard. “I know when Jamie Horowitz first brought all the people over from ESPN to be on FS1 in 2016, he was considering doing a show where Nick Wright and I were the co-hosts.”

Broussard now co-hosts the show with Wright and Kevin Wildes.

“I thought that I really just fit right in with the chemistry and it’s just been a great trio,” said Broussard. 

Born in Baton Rouge, Broussard and his family also lived in Cincinnati, Indiana, Syracuse, Iowa, and Cleveland.  He was a star football and basketball player for Holy Name High School in Parma Heights, Ohio and went on to play basketball for Oberlin College, an NCAA Division III school in Ohio.

Believe it or not, his first love was not basketball.

“My favorite sport growing up was football,” said Broussard. “I played football through high school. I played basketball at Oberlin College but they recruited for me football and basketball. I even played baseball up until I was about 16 years old.” 

So much for being just a basketball guy, right?

After college, Broussard had a decision to make. He knew he wanted to be a sports reporter but wasn’t sure if it was going to be print or electronic media. When he was an intern at The Indianapolis Star, he spoke to people in the know about which direction to go.

“I was told that it’s just easier and there are more spots in print journalism than there are in television and radio,” said Broussard. “I chose print because I thought I had more opportunities.”

Broussard’s first taste of covering pro sports was in 1995 at the Akron Beacon Journal when he was a backup writer covering the Cleveland Indians who would go to the World Series for the first time since 1954. He shifted to covering the Cavaliers and then it was off to New York and a bit of culture shock for Broussard.

During his 2 ½ years covering the Cavaliers, Broussard typically wore a rugby shirt, jeans and sneakers at games. But he noticed that when the Knicks and Nets would come to Cleveland or when Broussard travelled to New York and New Jersey when the Cavaliers visited the Knicks and Nets, that the New York writers would typically wear suits and ties when covering the games.

So, when he interviewed for the job with The New York Times, Broussard had an important question for his future editor.

“I asked him when I was being interviewed for the job do they require that your writers dress up,” said Broussard. “He said no but they do generally in New York because they know television opportunities are there. So, when I started working at The New York Times, I started dressing up wearing a suit and tie or sportscoat and tie whenever I would cover games.  Ultimately that led to television.”

And the rest is history.

This coming week, Broussard will be busy co-hosting his shows from the Super Bowl in Arizona. It’s one thing to host a radio show or a television show from a studio but it’s really something special to do it from a live event, especially on the giant stage of the Super Bowl.

And this week, Broussard will be center stage in front of a lot of ears and eyeballs.

“It’s always great,” said Broussard. “FOX Sports Radio always has one of the biggest and best platforms on radio row. It’s always fun when you’re doing these live shows at the big events and you’ve got an audience, it really can kind of bring out the best in you. I’m excited about it both for TV and radio.”

Chris Broussard has certainly come a long way in his career in sports. 

From his days as an athlete in high school in college to getting his start as a write to a transformation into a radio and television personality, Broussard has worked hard to get to where he is today.

“I haven’t written a word since I went to Fox,” said Broussard. “I do feel fortunate that I’ve been able from morph from a writer into TV and radio. What you want to do in this business is stay relevant and you want an audience and a platform. There’s not that many people who get that opportunity to do it.”

He’s no longer just a “basketball guy”. He’s a “sports guy”.

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