Barstool Sports star Kayce Smith signed an extension with the sports and entertainment media hub, announcing the news alongside Dave Portnoy early this year. The announcement of Smith’s future with the online powerhouse has been met with excitement (of all ways, shapes, and forms) from Barstool’s fanbase and crew, alike.
Smith was an immediate favorite with fans and the innovative content creators, producers, directors and fellow hosts/analysts that she works with. The Stoolie team have become some of the best follows on social media and most relatable personalities in the industry as they follow the blueprint laid out by Dave Portnoy. That is transparency.
She’s also been one of the most dynamic and wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of working with since her TexAgs days. The star that you hear daily on Clancy and Carribis with Kayce Smith shines just as brightly off the air which is a depreciating asset.
I spoke with the Texas native and Barstool Babe for a Q&A about her experience in sports media, finding the perfect fit with her career and what she thinks about her Barstool colleagues.
Chrissy Paradis: With a résumé including ESPN/SEC Network, SB Nation, Gridiron Now, NBC Sports, now Barstool—Your journey has involved a lot of hard work in stakes environments in various capacities- what advice have you learned in your career that has been most helpful?
Kayce Smith: I think the best advice I can give is that when you’re pursuing a job, the worst thing you can hear is “no.” And more importantly, that doesn’t mean you will always hear “no.” This industry can be brutal to crack into and a lot of people give up if an opportunity doesn’t come immediately or if it’s not exactly what they envisioned doing.
If this is your dream, it’s worth the grind. You may have to take a different job to get your foot in the door, but you never know where that door will lead you. And always be yourself. That’s how you stand out. Nobody wants a clone of something that already exists.
CP: You also hosted a podcast with Johnny Manziel—what was it like working with a Heisman Trophy Winner from your alma mater?
KS: It was a total full circle moment for me. My first job out of college was covering A&M for TexAgs and it happened to be Johnny’s Heisman year, which as you can imagine was WILD. Actually, my only ESPN audition was a live TV hit talking about covering him on the local level. He won the trophy, I got the job and then we did a podcast together and became friends. Very cool career storyline.
CP: Dave Portnoy said “Barstool is the best place in media at building stars and building personalities. If you are funny, interesting and opinionated we let you flourish. Kayce is all of the above.” Which I couldn’t agree more with, and in terms of highlighting talented men and women, Barstool truly offers a variety of shows/columns/podcasts including Chicks In The Office, and your shows, Clancy & Carrabis with Kayce Smith & Unnecessary Roughness. What do you want people to know about Barstool?
KS: If you can’t find content that entertains you on our platforms, I’m convinced that you just can’t be entertained. Between the blogs, the podcasts, video and radio shows…. there is something for EVERYBODY. A lot of times when people say they hate Barstool, I can guarantee they’ve never actually consumed what we do. Oh and also, as a woman in this company, I feel very safe and have never been treated better. So that whole “Barstool treats their women employees poorly” narrative is just flat out incorrect.
CP: What are some highlights from your time working with the team at Barstool Sports?
KS: By far my favorite moment is my first live College Football Show in 2018. We were on the road at Michigan for the Wisconsin game and when I walked up on stage and saw the gigantic crowd cheering for us, I realized I was exactly where I wanted to be.
Our fans are INSANE and honestly, those live shows give us life. Getting to sit next to Dave, Dan and Brandon every week – and be the one who gets to host the entire thing – is a dream come true. It mixes my TV background with the Barstool flavor covering my favorite sport… and maybe a beer or two thrown on us.
CP:I know that you‘re great friends with ESPN’s Laura Rutledge outside of work—There is a stereotype about women not necessarily being supportive of other women, given the competition in the sports broadcasting industry. How has Laura been as an ally/resource in your career?
KS: Laura and I became FAST friends. Sure we were both trying to climb the same ladder at the time, but it’s not like there’s only ONE job for women in sports. There are plenty of jobs!! I’ve never understood why people play into that stereotype.
The way I see it is why wouldn’t I want to become close to someone who loves the same things that I do and is in the same industry and understands what I go through on a day-to-day basis?? Fun fact that not many people know: when I left ESPN, Laura was my biggest cheerleader and it was actually her idea to start my own radio show which ended up landing me a job with NBC Sports in Boston. I’m forever thankful for her and she’s absolutely KILLING it at ESPN. I’m so proud of her and vice versa.
CP: Who else has had a significant influence on your career, as a whole?
KS: Gabe Bock at TexAgs has been one of the most important people to me – not only for my career but in my personal life as well. He gave me my first shot on radio when I graduated college and has helped me create a brand that I never would’ve known I wanted. I always thought being a sideline reporter was my end goal, but Gabe helped me fall in love with radio and I’ve clearly never looked back. The show I did in Boston was three hours long, five days a week. Without my radio background, there’s zero chance that I could’ve succeeded the way that I did. Radio is something I think everybody in sports should do at some point in your career. If you can talk for hours on air about sports and be interesting/entertaining, I think you can make it anywhere.
CP: With a beginning in college sports, was it difficult to make the choice to transition into covering all sports, especially in the middle of Patriots Nation?
KS: It actually wasn’t because I took on the challenge head on and treated it like I was going back to school and studied like CRAZY. I fell in love with Boston immediately. I spent my days listening to local radio, reading every book I could and leaning on my coworkers. It’s the best sports city in the world and it’s not close. I just wish they liked college football a little more!
CP: Working in a predominantly male industry, in a predominately male demographic at Barstool, what’s the biggest misconception(s) that you’ve seen/heard about Barstool that you would like to set straight?
KS: I mentioned it earlier, but anyone who thinks that Barstool treats women who work here poorly is just flat out wrong. I know we can’t change everybody’s minds – nor do we try to – but I promise being a woman at this company is not what the headlines tell you it is. I’ve never had more freedom to create content AND been treated with more respect than I have here.
Sure there are certain things that have been said in the past that I definitely don’t agree with, but as far as how I’m treated, I have no complaints. I love these guys and I’ll defend them until kingdom come, both as coworkers and friends. Erika Nardini has been an unbelievable piece of that as well. She’s amazing to work for and is just flat out a boss at everything she does.
CP: What would people be most surprised to know about you?
KS: I grew up playing the harp! I started taking lessons in kindergarten and have played dozens of weddings and parties. Weird hidden talent of mine.
CP: Co-worker word association: one to four words, whatever comes to your mind first, about the following Barstool teammates…
KS: Best In The Game
CP: Dave Portnoy?
KS: Unapologetically authentic
CP: KFC / Kevin Clancy?
KS: A MISERABLE sports fan (but incredibly talented)
CP: Jared Carrabis?
KS: One of a kind
CP: Brandon Walker?
KS: A hilarious walking encyclopedia
KS:My idiot best friend (but really… a weird, super creative brain)
CP: What’s your favorite thing about Barstool listeners/fans?
KS: How ridiculously diehard they are! We get recognized everywhere we go. It still seems weird when I’m walking on the streets of Manhattan and someone stops me. I’ve always said that Dave is a cult leader because of the following we have. We are basically a reality TV show at this point and that’s not something we take for granted.
CP: What’s your favorite thing about being a part of the Barstool team?
KS: The freedom to do and say whatever I want. Dave and Erika don’t put rules on us as personalities. They also don’t care if we publicly disagree with them, which is incredibly rare. Where else can you argue with the CEO or President of the company you work for without being worried about losing your job?? We are a gigantic, f***ed up family and I love being a part of it.