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Ariel Helwani: ‘Working At ESPN Wasn’t What I Thought It Would Be’

“One of the good things about going to a place like ESPN is that people view you in a different way.”

Ricky Keeler

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Sometimes, when we get that dream job in the media industry or meet someone that we looked up to for years as kids, the experience is not always what we had envisioned it to be. That was the case for Ariel Helwani while he was at ESPN, but he was able to make the most of his situation.

Helwani was a guest on the most recent episode of The Adam Schein PodcastHe mentioned always wanting to work at ESPN when he was a kid. But as he started actually working there, something wasn’t right:

“My dream, as is the dream for a lot of people, was to work at ESPN,” Helwani told Schein. “I grew up idolizing ESPN as a brand and looking up to all those guys like Stuart Scott, Rich Eisen, Chris Berman. This was my life.

“I’m very thankful and grateful for the experience. But it wasn’t, if I’m being honest, what I thought it was going to be. There was some disappointment in that initially, but I was able to turn that disappointment into excitement and opportunities.”

While there was some disillusionment, having ESPN on his resume did help Helwani as he got into future endeavors because now he felt he could do different things for different people.

“Leaving ESPN has been incredible because thankfully, one of the good things about going to a place like ESPN is that people view you in a different way,” he said. “I’m still the same guy, but you’re now the former ESPN guy. You get a lot of opportunities and people want to work with you.

“What was great about my situation was I realized I didn’t want to be exclusive. I wanted to cut up my services into a puzzle and I would do this for these people and that for these people and everyone was okay playing in the sandbox. I have freedom. I have my voice back. I was feeling censored. I was feeling stifled. I don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore. I haven’t been this happy in quite some time.”

One of the things that helps Helwani in trying to grow his brand is that he takes in a lot of sports media. He tries to apply that to what he does because he realizes his responsibility to the audience.

“I’m not a big ‘J’ journalist, but I feel like we have an incredible responsibility to the audience,” Helwani explained.

“They come to us for the facts, news, and entertainment as well, and I don’t want to BS them. I think what helps me is I consume a lot of media. I’m obsessed with sports media. I listen to you while I’m driving my kids to and from school, I listen to WFAN here or 98.7 FM or SIRIUS, I listen to everything. I know what I want as a viewer or listener and I want to be the best version of that in my little world as well.”

In fact, one of the people who helped Helwani early in his career was Schein. He told a story that Schein never heard before. When he was at Syracuse, Helwani contacted Schein for advice and the now SIRIUSXM host took it a step further.

“2003, they tell me to go to the Student Center and there is a computer there,” said Helwani. “You can type in whichever industry you want to work in within broadcasting, media. Network, whichever person you want to connect with, all within the NewHouse family.

“It actually worked. I got an internship at HBO Sports as a result of that. However, I typed in your name and your contact info came up. I emailed you and you called me as you were filling up your car with gas. I get a cold call from you and you were like, ‘Hey, man I got your email.’ I was a junior, a total nobody. You were the only one and I emailed everyone. You gave me advice about careers and life outside.”

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The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz Moving To New Studio

The show continued to be recorded inside the studio at the Clevelander after it departed ESPN Radio’s national lineup in 2021.

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Dan Le Batard Show

The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz is leaving its home at the Clevelander hotel on South Beach in Miami and moving into a new studio next year, according to a report from The Big Lead.

The show continued to be recorded inside the studio at the Clevelander after it departed ESPN Radio’s national lineup in 2021. It has remained the home for the show since Le Batard and John Skipper formed Meadowlark Media.

After a $50 million distribution deal with DraftKings was secured, the Meadowlark podcast network has grown in both reach and talent, allowing for an expanded studio space.

No immediate details were given on where the new studio space would be located.

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NSMA Announces Finalists for Awards, Hall of Fame

Final voting for the statewide and national awards, as well as for the Hall of Fame, will take place throughout this month, and the winners and inductees will be announced on January 9.

Jordan Bondurant

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The National Sports Media Association revealed its finalists for its national sportscaster of the year and national sportswriter of the year, and there are plenty of heavy hitters in the industry up for consideration for the NSMA awards.

Among the nominees for National Sportscaster of the Year include Al Michaels, Ian Eagle, Jim Nantz, Joe Buck, Kevin Harlan, and Mike Tirico. The full list includes Adam Amin, Jason Benetti, Joe Davis, and Mina Kimes.

For National Sportswriter of the Year, Adrian Wojnarowski, Ken Rosenthal, Nicole Auerbach, Pete Thamel, Pat Forde and Tom Verducci are among the biggest names. Candace Buckner, Katie Strang, Marc Spears and Wright Thomson round out the list of nominees.

The NMSA also revealed its finalists for the sportscaster and sportswriter Hall of Fame. James Brown, Joe Buck, Lee Corso and Tim McCarver are part of the sportscaster list, while Bill Plaschke and Ray Didinger appear among the names for the sportswriter hall of fame.

Final voting for the statewide and national awards, as well as for the Hall of Fame, will take place throughout this month, and the winners and inductees will be announced on January 9.

Winners and Hall of Famers will be honored at the NSMA Awards Weekend & National Convention held in Winston-Salem, N.C. June 24-26.

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Pat McAfee: Mentioning Brett Favre Scandal Is A Must

“We have to make sure that it’s mentioned every time that man is mentioned because that is a big deal that it happened.”

Jordan Bondurant

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While things may have quieted down a little bit with Brett Favre and his scandal involving misuse of public funds in Mississippi, Pat McAfee is going to make sure people don’t forget what the hall of fame quarterback is accused of.

On his show on Wednesday, McAfee said he thought of a way to mention the situation during Aaron Rodgers’ weekly appearance the day before. Rodgers in conversation talked about learning under Favre in the first years of his NFL career in Green Bay.

“My brain was literally like we’re in the holiday season. Brett Favre – what did he do,” McAfee said. “He didn’t just steal from the poor. Oh, he is the actual Sticky Finger Bandits from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.”

Pat added that whenever the name Brett Favre is brought up on his show, it is absolutely necessary to remind folks about the scandal.

“We have to make sure that it’s mentioned every time that man is mentioned because that is a big deal that it happened,” he said. “Now obviously Brett Favre Enterprises is alleging that this is all wrong. And I can’t wait to hear BFE to drop Brett Favre Enterprises’ side of the story. And we will judge it accordingly.”

“Even though as a football player, he was an incredibly tough football player, good football player, did a lot of things,” McAfee added. “Certainly in the middle of stealing from poor people in Mississippi right now. Have to chat about that.”

Favre is yet to be charged with any crimes, but the state is currently investigating the matter. Early in the fall, Favre’s weekly appearances on local and national radio shows were halted in light of the initial fallout from the story.

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