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Nick Cattles Had To Figure Out What Is Best For His Life

“To me, whether you are in Sheboygan or in Chicago, whether you are doing a podcast or a live radio show, just give the people the most entertaining, honest, compelling content and you’re going to do fine.”

Matt Fishman




Not every on-air career moves forward in the same way. That’s why I was interested in talking with Nick Cattles. He left the evening show at The Sports Hub in Boston to return to Virginia Beach to host afternoons. More recently Nick become the station PD in January. Sports Radio Guru Mike Thomas (Nick’s boss in Boston, too)  is “a big fan of Nick Cattles!” You’ll see what leaving Mike and the Sports Hub and returning to Virginia Beach at ESPN 94.1 has meant for Cattles’ career. 


Matt: So after a little over a year in Boston you decide to return to ESPN 94.1 in Virginia Beach. What went into the decision to leave and then to come back?

Nick: I felt like when I was down here the first time, for about four and a half years, that we had accomplished a lot. We were, at the time, around the top four or five stations in the ratings and ratings had gone up exponentially and revenue had gone up. I felt the station was in a great place. 

It came to my attention that 98.5 (The Sports Hub/Boston) was hiring and before I came down here the first time I was doing some work on the air and behind the scenes in Boston. It was an opportunity at a full time gig at a top ten market. A chance to go back close to my home–I’m originally from Rhode Island. I had a great relationship with Mike (Thomas). I still do. I said, “might as well take a shot and do a full time gig up in Boston and talk about the teams that I grew up watching.” So I made the jump.

I was up there for about a year and a half and Mike and I had some conversations. It wasn’t one of those bitter things at all. Some people in this business have bitter conversations and burn bridges. It wasn’t like that at all. I had a very upfront conversation with Mike. 98.5 is a beast, right? They had a very young lineup and it was kind of funky that 11 days after I signed my contract CBS sold us to Beasley.  As soon as that information came out I kinda figured that Beasley wasn’t looking to get rid of anything, because 98.5 was so successful. 

The night show wasn’t everything I had anticipated it to be. I had expected it to be more of a split between Adam Jones and me. It wasn’t bitter. It was Jonesy’s show. He has the right to run his show the way he wants. He and I had conversations as well. 

This opportunity popped up again (in Virginia Beach). I own a bar down here in Virginia Beach and a condo I rent out as well. My wife loves Virginia Beach. We have a lot of good friends down here. This opportunity opened up and I came back here last May and my first show was June 4th, 2018 so it has been just over a year. 

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Matt: People when they first get into the business probably don’t think about is that there’s more to life than being in a top ten market?

Nick: It’s one of those things you have to think deeply about. It wasn’t an easy move but the conversation with Mike–he was pretty upfront. He was honest. The writing was on the wall to me that it could be another five to six years before I had a shot at a daytime show. Quite frankly Matt, I wasn’t in love with working at night. I found that out rather quickly. Working until midnight in the summertime, Monday through Friday, really didn’t have any time with my wife and to do stuff. To me it just made sense to come back down (to Virginia Beach) and get back in the afternoon drive slot and get reps doing what I do.

I think I found out that I like being the #1 guy (on a show). I enjoy driving a show. I enjoy creating content and being responsible for what we do–whether it’s good or bad. That was something that wasn’t happening up in Boston. This was an opportunity to get that done again. To be able to be responsible and accountable for what I wanted to do on the air and be able to drive my own ship.

A lot of things go into it–personal, professional. I think a lot of young guys don’t think in the long term and what’s best. They kind of just react. You’ve got to think things through. You have to really look at every opening and try to figure out what’s best for your life and what it might lead to.

Matt: Do you feel like it took very long to get your legs back under you as host and now as the station PD?

Nick: The PD thing came about in January. There’s just a million things that as an on-air host you’re not really thinking about. There are things you do as a host that could be seen as selfish even though you’re not trying to be selfish. When you become the program director you now have the health of the station you have to keep in mind.

As far as the show, it took about a month or two until I found my rhythm again and felt a little confident in what I was trying to accomplish on a day to day basis. I was named PD back in January and it has been kind of a whirlwind because at the same time I was being named PD I was fortunate enough to get a hosting opportunity with the network (ESPN).

I had added on a lot of responsibility and a lot of work. It has been a lot and it has been rewarding. Whatever happens from this point on–making that decision to leave 98.5 I think was in my best interest.  Mike (Thomas) and Beasley being super professional allowing me to leave that situation in Boston opened the door for not only being back here but also for me to get some programming experience and then it also opened the door to work for the Network. You just take it step by step, Matt.

Matt: A lot of people could have been comfortable and stayed at the Sports Hub…

Nick: If you catch up with Mike (Thomas) and ask him about me, he’d probably tell you that I’m one of the most impatient people in the entire world. I’m just always hungry and I just always want to get better. I’m always driven to be as good as I can be. In Boston, I just felt at times I was the best I could be and at other times I wasn’t. 

For people who are a little bit younger I try to tell them, “If you don’t feel like you are getting better, then you need to change something.” If you feel like you have nothing to learn, then you need to leave the business.  You need to always look at yourself and say “Am I doing the best work that I can do? If the answer is ‘no’ you have to figure out what you need to do to get there.”

Matt: You are filing in for Will Cain on the ESPN Radio Network over the fourth of July, how do you approach a show like that as opposed to your daily local show? 

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Nick: Content wise it’s very similar. Down here in Virginia Beach we are a very transient area, there’s 300,000+ military so we’re pretty much doing a national show every day. If something big locally happens we’ll talk about it, but there’s not much content difference between that and the national show.

The biggest changes (for an ESPN Network show) are behind the scenes and from a technical standpoint. When you’re doing a network show, you have two hard outs. If you don’t hit those hard-outs, it’s not good, no bueno! So you gotta be able to hit those. The conversation between you and the producer is different. Working with different co-hosts in different states is unusual. Working with a producer in a different state is unusual.

When you work with the network they obviously understand all of these things. When you look at programs and what they do, we have a screen sharing program where we can chat with the producers and can share all the live reads and sponsorships. Some producers like writing teases, but I like writing all my own teases. 

What the network does is it really teaches you how to be really fluid and how to react to different situations, how to work with different people and how to power through different scenarios. Personally I don’t try to change my style. When I go on the network I’m going to be me. Stylistically speaking I’m going to be myself. I’d rather be genuine, be real than be a carbon-copy of anyone who is doing this.

Matt: Where does local sports radio fit in the greater audio landscape today?

Nick: Pacing to me is very important. I look at the podcast world differently than the radio world. Most podcasts are directed at a certain audience. Most podcasts are about a certain sport or product. I’m a big UFC guy. If I’m gonna do a big UFC podcast, 40 minutes, the people listening to the podcast will listen to the whole 40 minutes. If I’m talking about the UFC on my show–first of all, it’s gonna be Connor McGregor, or somebody else that big– maybe Brock Lesnar, John Jones or Rhonda Rousey before she got her face kicked off. You’re talking about UFC for maybe three minutes and then you’re moving on. People in their cars are quick. Attention spans are shorter. People will not hang around for ten or fifteen minutes. 

One thing that I changed drastically from when I worked down here the first time, a lot of times I would do one topic per segment. Now we’re focused on trying to hit two or three things per segment. For example, yesterday we talked about Mike Thomas and Julio Jones contract situation for five or six minutes and then we flipped it around and talked about the Cowboys because the Cowboys have the Amari Cooper negotiation going on. You gotta keep it moving and you gotta give people the feeling that there’s no slowing down. You don’t want to give them a hesitation and a chance to put some music on.

As far as local radio, I’m probably going to echo what a lot of people in radio are saying right now. We look at terrestrial radio and we say 90-93% of people still listen when they are in their car. I do believe that. I do believe there’s a feel of a local radio show. Whether it’s a big market, small market, whatever. When you’re doing local radio you’re there. People feel you. They feel a connection that’s a little different. There’s that connection that people can’t get from listening to a podcast or to national radio. I think it’s still as relevant as it ever has been. Now we’re seeing a shift where we are talking about stories rather than in the weeds with X’s and O’s.  Analytical people will be able to get their analytics from Pro Football Focus. Most people listening to the radio want the overarching storylines. What are the stories? We saw that during the NBA Playoffs. 

I think radio is fine. I try to keep it simple. To me, whether you are in Sheboygan or in Chicago, whether you are doing a podcast or a live radio show, just give the people the most entertaining, honest, compelling content and you’re going to do fine. 

I think a lot of people are trying to do this or that. The world tries to make everything black or white and that’s stupid. Somebody feels like they gotta be a “hot take guy” or stand on “morality mountain” when something comes across. Everybody is trying to put their own cape on. In the real world, Matt, we’re all different. We’re all full of gray area. 

If you are just honest and treat individual situations and topics honestly then you’re going to do well. If you try to be hot and steamed about something that you’re not really hot or steamed about, I don’t think it’s gonna work. Now a few people have pulled it off and those people are making millions of dollars per year. We know the names. I think it’s always a danger. They’ve kind of cornered the market on that. If you try to be hot take guy, it’s going to come off as a fabrication. It’s going to come across as you trying to be someone else. If you try to do a show like Dan LeBatard, there’s only one Dan LeBatard, you’re going to sound like a cheap Dan LeBatard. So be true to yourself and bring the best content every day and I think you’ll be fine. 

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Matt: Is there anything you haven’t done yet in your career that you’re looking forward to doing? 

Nick: I think there’s always challenges. To work at the network and do a national show every day would be a challenge. To drive a station in a Top 10 market that would get behind you, that would be a challenge. I’m not necessarily saying I would jump at these situations if they were put in front of me, but If you’re asking me to give you things that I haven’t done that I feel would be a challenge–I’d say do an every day show nationally, a Top 10 show daily.

Another challenge is right here at Virginia Beach. We are not in the spot we were when I left the first time. Right now we need to be better. The challenge right now is day to day to be the best host that I can. To be the best PD that I can. 

Shoot, I would love to do play by play. Those questions are always difficult. A year from now I could be in a completely different spot personally. As you evolve as a human being, I don’t have kids. If I have a kid in the next year or two, how does that change what I’m looking for? So those are the three things: Virginia Beach-getting us to where we once were, a national show, doing a drive time show in a top ten market those would all be great challenges. 

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Ian Rapoport Is Competing Against Everyone

“When I’m working, when I’m not working – my brain is still going on overdrive.”

Derek Futterman




The 2023 NFL Draft was a weekend filled with speculation, intrigue and musing among football fans and experts alike. After two quarterbacks were selected with the first two picks – C.J. Stroud by the Jacksonville Jaguars; and Bryce Young by the Houston Texans – Ian Rapoport had the inclination that something was about to break at the event in Kansas City.

The third pick of the night was held by the Arizona Cardinals, but through previous intel, Rapoport knew there was a chance the team would trade it. His phone then lit up with a text message from a source that simply read, “Texans trading.” Receiving a message of this magnitude takes years of networking, credibility and immense trust from the people you cover. Rapoport has worked hard to attain all of them. 

He replied by asking, “Did the Texans trade up to three?,” as the team was not set to pick again until No. 12 overall. Once he got confirmation of the scenario, he began to visibly shake in excitement and captured the attention of the NFL Network team.

“I sit there with a camera in front of me that’s not always on air – this is during the Draft – and the producer gets in my ear and he goes, ‘Can you go on air with whatever you have?,’ and I just say, ‘Yes.’” Rapoport recalled. “And then I hear Rich Eisen go, ‘Ian, you have news,’ and I was able to break that the Texans have traded up to three to go get Will Anderson.”

This is the craft through which Rapoport has cultivated a successful journalism career, ultimately distinguishing him as NFL Network’s goto insider. He hardly ever separates himself from the job, equipped with an unparalleled work ethic to ensure he can communicate messages accurately and in a timely manner. While some people may argue that he is in direct competition with others in his position, such as Adam Schefter of ESPN, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports, the reality of the situation is that it is Rapoport vs. the world.

“It’s such a small world now and everyone is interconnected – and with Twitter, literally anyone could break a story and have it go viral,” Rapoport said. “Obviously, you want everything first, but really you’re competing against everyone that exists because anyone could get the story at any moment.”

Work-life balance in such a role is usually quite insurmountable in today’s dynamic, interminable breaking news environment. Rapoport strives to find some level of normalcy in his life by playing golf and attending his sons’ sporting events. In the end though, he knows the world of football never sleeps, and it is up to him to remain in the know at all hours of the day, essentially always on standby to break the next big story.

“I do not turn my phone off because that’s actually way more stressful,” Rapoport said. “At least now when my phone’s on and near me, if something crazy happens, I can react rather than having a fake relaxation moment and then being caught off guard with something.”

Rapoport recognized that journalism was the field for him almost immediately after stepping onto the Columbia University campus. He worked his way up at The Dial to ultimately become its associate sports editor. In the summer preceding his senior year, he landed a coveted internship with ESPN where he gained invaluable experience in the world of television production. 

By the time he graduated, Rapoport envisioned himself becoming a nationally acclaimed sportswriter, but he knew it was going to require he start small. Three hundred eleven job applications and two interviews later, he landed a part-time role with The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y. covering high school sports. It gave him a start in the highly-competitive business – and kept him close to home while trying many new things.

Two years later, he found himself moving from the bright lights of New York City to the quaint town of Starkville, Mississippi for a notable opportunity. He had landed a job covering the Mississippi State Bulldogs for The Clarion-Ledger in the nearby capital city of Jackson and was under the direction of sports editor Rusty Hampton.

“I knew how to write, but I really didn’t know how to report,” Rapoport said. “He was probably the best [at] showing me, ‘This is all about reporting. It’s all about telling people something they don’t know rather than how well you can pen a sentence.’ To be really valuable to society or your newspaper, you really need to inform rather than entertain. I think he was probably the first and best person to teach me that.”

After spending two years in Mississippi, Rapoport became a beat reporter for The Birmingham News tasked with following the Alabama Crimson Tide. Just months into his new role, the program made a coaching change and hired Nick Saban, who has since led the program to six national titles. 

Rapoport learned the thoroughness necessary to cover the Southeastern Conference as he rapidly watched the program become a perennial contender. In turn, he became an eminent college football reporter and his work began to be consumed nationally.

Simultaneously, Bill Belichick, another accomplished football head coach in his own right, was in the process of trying to lead the New England Patriots back to championship glory. Known to be stoic and restrained in his press conferences, reporters asking him questions knew extrapolating answers was not the easiest of tasks. 

When Rapoport saw a job opening to cover the team with the Boston Herald that required NFL experience, he knew that he was not qualified verbatim per se. Yet he figured the experience he had in covering Saban and Alabama would serve him well in the role, and articulated such in a protracted email to the newspaper’s editors. His strategy worked, proving why Rapoport is considered one of the industry’s best communicators at the micro and macro levels.

“You don’t see a lot of sources within the Patriots or sources within Alabama – there’s not a lot of that,” Rapoport said. “So I learned to report despite that and kind of work the edges and get the information I needed, despite head coaches who weren’t always the most forthcoming with information.”

NFL Network oftentimes has local beat reporters on the air to interact with studio talent and give their perspectives about teams, and it was something Rapoport did while at the Boston Herald. He had no television experience outside of other appearances he made on Comcast New England and certainly no intention to pursue the medium as a career. 

In Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants overcame the New England Patriots, who were undefeated for the year entering the game. Rapoport was on hand for the proceedings, and shortly afterwards was called into a meeting with NFL Network executives. 

He didn’t know he was interviewing for a job until he asked just why he had been summoned. He expressed his lack of television experience to the executives, who said the network would teach him everything he needed to know. 

Once the meeting concluded, Rapoport called his wife, who he had met while living in Starkville, Mississippi, and told her what had just happened. She tempered his expectations, warning him not to get his hopes up as he remained optimistic. One month later, Rapoport received a job offer and found himself moving once again – this time to the Lone Star State.

“I hired an agent and moved to Dallas and basically spent the next year reporting on the Cowboys and some other things being very, very bad at TV, but learning and eventually figuring it out,” Rapoport said. “At the time, this guy, Eric Weinberger, who was our boss, kind of mentioned to me the possibility of transitioning [me] from reporter to insider.”

Rapoport acknowledged that he did not have the contacts necessary to effectively work as a league insider for a national outlet, but through his years of experience, he knew how to network and he was ready and willing to take the challenge. 

Once he began the new position, Rapoport, along with reporter Michael Silver, was on the road for Thursday Night Football and contributed to its pregame and halftime coverage. While his television skills improved, Rapoport was hard at work bolstering his contacts and took somewhat of a geographical approach. 

Every time he arrived in a new city, he would contact anyone and everyone he could conjure up, including general managers, scouts and head coaches. If he could not schedule a meeting time with them, he would introduce himself by roaming the sidelines at practices and before games. He engaged in a similar practice before the NFL Draft Combine, training camps and the Super Bowl along with other premier events, always staying focused on the task at hand.

“It probably took me five or six years to get a baseline of sources where if something happened, I had someone to call,” Rapoport said. “And then it took me a couple more years to get to the point where I would know before a lot of people when something was about to happen. It’s all a multi-step process, and just [the] layering and layering and layering of sources is really the sort of engine that drives this thing.”

Ian Rapoport always attempts to triangulate his sources to verify information before he releases it publicly. There is no guarantee sources are always truthful or acting in a professional manner. Therefore, it is incumbent on a journalist to ensure the validity of content before publishing it themselves. 

“If you’re only right some of the time, then none of it is really worth it,” Rapoport expressed, “because then you say something and they’re like, ‘Well, wow, that’s a big story if this is true.’ The whole point of doing this is when I pop up on TV or when people see my Twitter alerts or whatever, they have to know that it’s true – they have to know.”

One day, Rapoport was having a conversation with a source and discovered through their conversation that Rob Gronkowski had informed the New England Patriots that he would return to the game of football under the stipulation he be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reunite with quarterback Tom Brady. There had been much speculation pertaining to Gronkowski’s future after he had worked as an NFL analyst with FOX Sports, and now Rapoport realized he had a monumental scoop – that is, if it was true. Within six minutes, Rapoport verified the story with three sources, contacted his editor and reported to the world Gronkowski’s intentions. The story was picked up virtually everywhere.

“I just think about the job all the time, and I make little lists for myself of things that I need to track down, and I just make a lot of phone calls for it,” Rapoport said. “When I’m working, when I’m not working – my brain is still going on overdrive. It ends up just a brain full of football thoughts, and then I spend the rest of the time trying to figure out what I can learn from it.”

Working for a league-owned entity can sometimes epitomize an inherent conflict of interest. For Rapoport however, he has found working at NFL Network to be hassle-free. He knows, however, the nature of his job means he will not be universally liked.

“Whatever you do, you’re going to report and the people you report on are going to be happy or upset or neutral – or whatever it is,” Rapoport said. “I’m never going to criticize a referee, for instance, because that’s a nuanced thing and people might say, ‘NFL criticizes referees.’ I’m never going to do that, but I wouldn’t do that anyway.”

Rapoport continues to appear on a variety of external media outlets, perhaps most notably The Pat McAfee Show, which recently concluded its “Up to Something Season.” The grand conclusion of the proceedings was McAfee announcing he would be bringing his show to ESPN’s linear and digital platforms starting in the fall. 

While McAfee is retaining creative control and has expressed on multiple occasions that his show will not be changing, many have wondered whether insiders employed by other networks will be able to continue making appearances. It is an answer Rapoport himself does not know, nor has he asked about.

“When the news broke, my phone blew up with all sorts of people saying all sorts of different things,” Rapoport said. “I have no idea. I really don’t.”

Even so, Rapoport is elated for McAfee and his team taking the next step in their show’s journey and is genuinely glad to see them succeed. He does not think McAfee’s goal was to reshape sports media, but rather to cultivate a distinctive sports talk program built for fans and today’s generation of consumers.

“You get to know someone and you think they’re a good person and you respect the way they work. Some people have success and some people have a little success and some people don’t. It’s really rare to see someone who has every bit of success that’s essentially possible and deserves every bit of it, and that’s kind of how I thought about Pat. It’s really cool, honestly. He’s built it himself.”

It was on McAfee’s show where another prominent football insider – Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports – said it would be a matter of “when,” not “if” the NFL would have games seven days per week. While devoted football fans like Rapoport are open to such a proposition, he is not sure the league would ever go that far. 

“I don’t even know that it would affect my schedule that much,” he said. “It sort of doesn’t matter. I’ll report all year round anyway.”

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Face-to-Face Sales Meetings Have Never Been More Valuable

“With the increase in virtual meetings, new buyer preferences, limited time, and better tech, we have our work cut out to get the F2F.”

Jeff Caves




When did you last attend a face-to-face (F2F) in-person sales call? Let’s imagine for a second.

In New York, Sarah, a determined sports radio salesperson, got tired of chasing a major client for months. Despite her calls, emails, and text, she couldn’t break through to get a meeting. 

Throwing caution to the wind, Sarah decided to go for it. She loaded her deck and took her burning desire via airplane to Florida to make the pitch. She showed up unannounced at the client’s office and startled the decision-maker. She was given the meeting and won over the client, getting a substantial annual contract and a movie deal in Hollywood. 

We have all seen that storyline. F2F meetings used to be the obvious choice over a phone call, and most buyers were open to that idea. We even conducted market trips to meet our buyers in person and create better relationships. 

With the increase in virtual meetings, new buyer preferences, limited time, and better tech, we have our work cut out to get the F2F. Lots of us work and listen from home. 

Gartner Research points out that live, in person selling is superior to virtual selling in financial services or, as I think, in radio sales. Now, prospecting new clients F2F is much more difficult. You have never met them, you don’t know who you are looking for, and gatekeepers and remote decision-makers make walk-ins more challenging. 

How about getting out and seeing your current or former clients F2F? 65% of outside account executives attain quota, 10% more often than inside reps. Here are some simple strategies to get outside and F2F:


Turn the sales faucet on ‘drip’ and contact your current clients with whatever works: phone calls, emails, or texts. Tell them you are checking in to see if anything has changed, give them a local business lead, or share your latest insight on their favorite team. When doing so, tell them you want to meet F2F and go deep into the next quarter’s ad plan or a new idea to get them back on the air. They may start looking forward to your communication. 


Schedule an annual review ahead of their busiest time of year to review the upcoming messaging in ads. Go over what worked or didn’t last year. Share a success story of a similar advertiser in another market or show them a new opportunity that fits. 

Be upfront that with F2F, we can get more specific, work with better feedback, and partner on hitting their goals. Be the person who looks ahead and helps keep your client focused.


Organize workshops for your current clients. Teach that about streaming, OTT, or Google ads. Get your digital person involved. Let them know you are bringing in other local businesspeople they may want to know or network with and meet F2F! A Mortgage broker may want to meet a realtor who wants to meet a wealthy local businessperson interested in meeting the local head coach. Stand out as a leader in the industry and watch clients brag about working with you. 


Attend trade shows where your current clients will be. This will show you are serious about their business and want to stay current so you can learn and earn. Set up a meeting over coffee or a drink. Share what you learned. 


Client Appreciation Events held at your town’s most meaningful events or places. Do whatever it takes to get hospitality tents at big games and concert suites to show appreciation and bond with your current clients. Host a luncheon at the hottest new local restaurant. Focus on providing an atmosphere or experience everyone wants, but not many can attend. Be the exclusive person in town.


Leverage your existing client relationships to seek referrals. Do it in person. Tell them you want to see them and ask for help and advice. Ask for introductions to potential new clients they know, and you will be surprised how much they like working with you. 


Bring your Digital manager to them and do a free review of their SEO, PPC, whatever. Working off your client’s pc and bringing them an expert at no charge or obligation is much easier. Watch your partnership grow by providing so much expertise at no extra expense. 

Don’t forget the value of F2F meetings. It’s a great way to build trust, connect, and unlock new opportunities. We are in a people business doing business with tons of local directs who still make most of their money serving retail customers F2F. Let’s get out and sell! 

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All Jason Timpf Needed Was A Moment of Clarity

“I didn’t know it until after I was hired, but they said they played my video for Colin and he knew right away that I could do this.”

Tyler McComas




There was once a time when Jason Timpf always included Colin Cowherd in his commute to work. As he made his morning drive to a sales job at Verizon, The Herd was appointment listening each morning for Timpf. The ex-college basketball player would marvel at Cowherd’s ability to make relatable references and break down all of the same basketball games he would watch the night before. 

One of the unique things Timpf can remember from listening to The Herd during that time was Cowherd saying if FOX ever put someone in front of him, he could tell in five seconds if that individual had the skills to be a host. It was far from a hot take on the Lakers, but still a distinct moment that stuck with Timpf for many years. Little did he know at the time but Cowherd would soon give a five-second evaluation of Timpf’s career.

Jason Timpf was a late-bloomer in basketball. He played college hoops at an NAIA school in Utah, but not until his third year, after being a regular student the first two. After graduating, he pursued a basketball career overseas in India. However, after the league folded, he left the game for a normal job in the States.

There was a real desire for Timpf to get into the sports media business, but he was having difficulties finding the right fit. He wanted advice on the best way to start, but the tips he received just didn’t feel like the right initial path.

“I’d hear, hey, go bang on a radio station’s door and ask if you can work the soundboard,” said Timpf. “Or, try to go to a journalism school. Another big one that everyone was doing was the SB Nation blogs and FanSided blogs. I briefly tried to do that a little bit. But none of it was materializing the way that I had hoped.”

But then the lightbulb went off for Timpf and it happened during the middle of a podcast interview. In October of 2020, Jason Maples of Blue Wire reached out to Timpf to talk hoops on his podcast. It was in the middle of that interview when it all made sense. It felt exactly like the camaraderie he enjoyed with his old teammates and friends talking basketball. It was relaxed, fun and what he used to do for enjoyment. The perfect fit had just found Timpf organically. 

“It was, ‘this is it,’” said Timpf. “‘This is how I want to do it.’ It was like a moment of clarity. Like, this is the way I want to talk about the game. Fortunately, I was working in real estate at the time, so I was super flexible, so I literally was just trying to fake it until I made it.”

While Timpf was grinding away on his new platform choice, he was constantly putting out his content on social media. For a handful of years, he had used Twitter as an outlet for basketball talk – not because he was trying to build his brand, but because it was his preferred method of sharing his takes during and after basketball games. 

“My wife actually played basketball in college but she, like a lot of people, got out of it and was like, ‘actually I’m so sick of basketball, since it’s all I did growing up, that I’d rather not talk about it,’” laughed Timpf. 

As Timpf had built up years of basketball takes on Twitter, he also built up followers. Not a crazy amount, but enough to have regular interactions with several basketball fans. He had no idea at the time, though he remembers occasionally interacting with him, but one of his followers in the beginning was Logan Swaim, who just happens to be Head of Content at The Volume.

Being such a huge fan of Cowherd, Timpf was absolutely familiar with The Volume, a company started by the FOX Sports Radio host. In fact, during his first plunge into podcasts, he quickly took note of how much success The Volume was having with instant reaction and video content. He wanted to emulate what they were doing and would host a Twitter Space after each Lakers game.

Swaim kept up with Timpf’s journey and continued to be impressed with what he saw. He was so impressed, in fact, that a video eventually made it in front of Cowherd’s eyes. It was the moment Timpf had always heard about while driving to his job at Verizon. Cowherd was about to make a declaration on Timpf’s abilities. 

“I didn’t know it until after I was hired, but they said they played my video for Colin and he knew right away that I could do this,” Timpf said. “That was a huge boost of confidence for me, because it meant somebody I deeply respected believed I could work in this business.”

Timpf made his dream come true. He was offered a job by The Volume hosting Hoops Tonight. As much of a dream as it was when he was initially hired, the experience since has been nothing but ideal for Timpf. He gets to cover his favorite sport the way he wants to cover it. 

“When I first started and Logan and I were structuring out the show, he kinda viewed it as my show would be the slower, more methodical pace, where I work through my thought process of a game. And also that I’d be a guest on other Volume shows for more conversational podcasts. I really wanted to break down pick and roll coverage. It’s just going to take me a while, so trying to do that in a debate show format or conversational format can get hard. It’s a place where I can let more of my crazy depth out. And I can also have a side format where it’s more conversational.”

Timpf has learned prep for podcasts is one of the biggest elements to being successful. As Hoops Tonight continues to draw impressive numbers over audio and YouTube, he’s figured out the best method to prepare for a long-form podcast where he’s hosting solo. 

“I digest the game from the simple concept of how the game was won,” said Timpf. “Where was it won? There’s 100-something possessions in this game, there’s seven different storylines and several runs and sequences and sways in momentum, but what’s the one? Usually I’ll target that first in the opening segment of the show.

“While I’m watching the game I’ll take ancillary notes. About five minutes before I record, I sift through everything I’ve written down and limit it down to the things I think are most important. But generally the flow of the show is how the game was won.”

The whole experience has been gratifying and a full-circle moment in many ways for Timpf. Not only has it been vindicating to do things his way and see it become a success, but he’s gotten to do it with someone who he considers an idol.

Sure, Timpf always envisioned growing up he would be talking to Cowherd as a pro athlete, but talking to him as a colleague is certainly the next best thing. So when he got the call to talk with Cowherd during last year’s West Conference Finals, he didn’t hesitate.

“I was so incredibly nervous, as you could imagine,” laughed Timpf. “But I immediately remember him making me feel comfortable and confident. It immediately calmed me down.

“This is probably my favorite part of the entire experience, I think a lot of people think that these networks try to shove people in certain directions and The Volume has given me such freedom to cover the game exactly the way I want to and nobody is telling me to say crazy stuff. Nobody is pushing me in certain directions, it’s like total creative freedom. The way that Logan and Colin have been letting me do me, so to speak, has been so cool. To see my version of what I want it to look like makes me feel vindicated for talking about it the way I want to.”

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