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Fun, Balance, and Adaptability Have Led ESPN’s Jen Lada To a Rewarding Career

“This idea of being perfect or knowing everything is so stifling, I think it limits a lot of people from taking those chances and putting themselves in positions where they can succeed because they’ve been programmed to believe they can’t.”

Tyler McComas

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If a bucket list of jobs within the sports media business existed, Jen Lada would be busy crossing off all of the incredible opportunities she’s had. Whether it’s hosting SportsCenter, doing incredible features for College Gameday or hosting a morning radio show, Lada has enjoyed a career that’s taken her to some of the most coveted positions in the business.

But she didn’t get there without some early hardships. However, a lot of hard work combined with exceptional talent has landed her both an incredible TV and incredible radio job. Lada talked about both the television and sports radio space she now enjoys. Plus, a lot more. 

Tyler McComas: I know it’s been a bit since you were hired at ESPN Milwaukee, but how has the morning show gone? 

Jen Lada: Honestly, I’m having so much fun. It’s like anything else, there’s a learning curve and a transition period, but I feel since football season has wrapped we’ve really hit a stride.

The chemistry, information, and entertainment is there, and I feel most mornings like this is the most fun I’ve had in my career. I’m so thankful to Good Karma Brands for taking a chance on me. I had very little radio experience, but they felt like I could be a provocative voice in the space and they gave me this opportunity. We work really hard to not try and take ourselves too seriously.

That sounds kind of like an oxymoron, but that’s our emphasis every day. It’s a morning show, so we want to have fun and for our listeners to have fun, while also discussing the topics of interest. 

TM: You have a background with college football, your co-host Mark Chmura is a former Packer and the Bucks won an NBA Title last year. What’s the No.1 focus when it comes to content? 

JL: It’s a good problem to have. Truthfully, Packers are a 12-month topic in Wisconsin. And the NFL has done an exceptional job of making sure they are a round-the-year topic. We do focus a lot on what the Packers are doing and what Aaron Rodgers is doing.

As the Bucks become more relevant and have success, that fan base continues to grow and we have fun talking about that team. 

TM: What’s been your impression so far of new program director Ryan Maguire?

JL: (laughing) Poor Ryan has been stuck in training. Since he signed on, we’ve very much looked forward to chatting with him. We joke on the show about how we haven’t had a boss for the last year and that’s the only reason we’re still on the air. It’s very tongue in cheek, but there was some of that, where at times we were like, hey, are we doing a good job? Is this good content? Are people listening?

That’s not to say anyone was negligent, it’s just we didn’t have an immediate supervisor. We’re super excited as a show to have someone like Ryan, who has so much experience and knowledge. It will make us that much better. We joke around and say, man, if you listen to us now, just wait until we get some direction. 

TM: How can we be better at putting more women behind the mic in a full-time role?

JL: There have to be executives that are willing to take that risk, and I don’t think it’s that big of a risk. It’s more of a perceived risk, than an actual risk. But I think you also have to have women who are confident enough to step into that space and be willing to fail. Be willing to struggle.

We talked about Tiger Woods this morning on the show and how when you recalibrate your thought process, so that it’s not a zero-sum game, and sports often is, because there’s winning and there’s losing. I’ve referenced Ricky Bobby. “I you ain’t first you’re last.” But with regards to Tiger Woods we talked about how this Masters tournament was a step in his journey back and the bravery it takes to work out those kinks and find out where you stand in a very public space.

My point this morning was this is a checkpoint, not a finish line. And I think women have to be willing to say, this is a checkpoint, not a finish line when you step into spaces where women have not traditionally existed or thrived. Again, it’s not always because they haven’t been given the opportunity, but I think you have to let yourself off the hook a little bit. This idea of being perfect or knowing everything is so stifling, I think it limits a lot of people from taking those chances and putting themselves in positions where they can succeed because they’ve been programmed to believe they can’t. 

TM: We tend to focus on putting more women on the air, and rightfully so, but is there anything positive to report when it comes to more women getting opportunities in sports media?

JL: You’re seeing a lot more women getting opportunities to do things they haven’t done in the past. A lot of play-by-play spaces, Lisa Byington with the Bucks, obviously. Mina Kimes on NFL Live on ESPN. But they still take their share of unnecessary or unwarranted criticism, because there’s still a portion of the population that doesn’t want to hear women talking about sports. It is archaic. We make up a huge portion of the fan population. Ostensibly, these women are educated in the things they’re passionate about. 

When I started in sports, women were forced to compete with other women for very few, very specific opportunities. We were 1 of 10 in a city or 1 of 20 on a beat. Talk about an NFL press box and it might be one of thirty or more. The ratio was just horrible and I think that programming contributed to women feeling – and sometimes acting territorial about their space.

As women are given more opportunities – both in quantity and variety – you’re seeing a lot more championing, support, and friendship between women in the industry. And that, to me, has been the best development over the last 20 years. As executives continue recognizing the value of diversity of experience and thought, it’s obviously been great to see those ratios change. With that progress comes the welcome realization that celebrating another woman’s talent and successes doesn’t invalidate yours or jeopardize your job security.

TM: You’re in a marriage where both you and your husband have jobs in sports media. What are the challenges and positives of that?

JL: Number one with a bullet, no questions asked will always be the schedule. We work very unorthodox hours and if we’re both working unorthodox, unusual hours, you end up really having to do a lot of maneuvering and navigating and staring at a calendar going to figure out how are we going to make this work.

Fortunately, moving back to Wisconsin means we have a great support system. My family is in the area, my dad and mom are a huge help with our three kids. It’s never felt like we can’t do this. 

The advantages? We talk a lot about the things we’re working on. We strategize and brainstorm ways to be better. I’ll have an idea about something or an opinion about something and I’ll throw it out there, and he’ll be my sounding board and play devil’s advocate. That helps me develop my position on things. That’s a huge advantage, to have similar passions and to really understand how the industry works.

You can be very knowledgeable about sports and be a really good broadcaster, but if you don’t understand the ins and outs of the industry, it can be a struggle. Using each other as a sounding board has been a big reason why we’ve been successful. 

TM: You’ve been able to have so many incredible roles at ESPN. Is there one that’s stood out as your favorite? 

JL: It’s just crazy how my journey has been at ESPN. I was hired 7 years ago to join Colin Cowherd on his radio show. I was the Joy Taylor of the show. He obviously took his talents to Fox and I’ve never begrudged him for that. I think it’s fantastic and I always say, get your money and opportunities when they come around. But it definitely left me in a lurch, where I was like, “Okay, I thought that’s what I was going to do, and now that’s gone. How do we still make something of ourselves at the national level with this ESPN thing?”

Again, being hired as a radio talent, we’re talking about two very different departments at ESPN. They’re run by different people. So I really had to sell myself and knock on doors and sell myself as a television talent to people at ESPN who had no idea who I was, because I was hired by the radio department. 

I did a lot of Baseball Tonight when I first started. 2am shows are a grind. (Laughs). I transitioned into some Mike and Mike. I’ve hosted First Take, obviously SportsCenter, which is such a thrill. It’s one of those bucket list items when you get into the business. I remember on my first day at ESPN I took a picture inside the SportsCenter studio.

I think the most fateful interaction was me being picked to be on College Gameday because it’s one of our premier shows and has been for a very long time. It has an exceptional reputation because it has the very best people working on the show. I think Rece Davis is one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with. The analysts are prepared and informed and they have so much experience in that space.

Obviously, Kirk Herbstreit is one of the premiere stars in our industry. When I got on the show, Tim Rinaldi And Gene Wojciechowski were the feature reporters and I really had no idea how talented and exceptional they were at their craft. I was just kind of being thrown in there and it was like, “okay newbie, swim”.

I just threw myself into college football wholeheartedly and consumed everything that was available to me, whether it was reading books or watching old games, just starting to get a feel for the tradition and pageantry and the passion for college football. Once I threw myself into that I was absolutely hooked. I said this is the greatest thing I could ever do with my career. 

TM: How fulfilling is it doing feature stories for College Gameday? I know you’re not doing them to fulfill yourself, but what’s it like when you move an entire audience? 

JL: I think the most important thing about existing in the feature space is that recognizing early on that these aren’t your stories to tell. I think the only way these things become something, is because somebody was willing to share their pain. Somebody was willing to be vulnerable to allow cameras and microphones and people, virtual strangers into their homes, and talk about things that have really affected them significantly.

It’s not always negative, it’s not always about death or loss. There are times when we’re talking about the other spectrum of emotion. But it does feel like the ones that resonate with people the most are people being transparent and vulnerable. That’s why Hilinkski’s Hope was such a strong reaction. It’s why the story we did with Ryan Day about his father’s suicide when he was a child, which he had only recently come to grips with himself as an adult. It’s why the story of San Hartman at Wake Forest, quarterback, talented kid, comes from a great family and not a lot of people knew what he went through and the loss of his brother several years prior. 

We got a call letting us know that Mike Vrabel showed that piece to his team on a team-building day to convey to them it’s ok to not be ok. And when you’re struggling, we have the resources here available to you to help. I think it’s the ripple effect of those stories that I’m most proud of. Certainly, the impact they have when they’re first seen, but when they’re shared and passed on, or when someone watches one and says, here’s a coach or a player, where you think they’ve got it all figured out and they’re at the top of they’re game and the world at their feet; and they decide to be vulnerable and talk about their challenges, I think it helps normalize some things. I think that’s when sports are at their most powerful, when it brings people together and unifies communities and groups. 

BSM Writers

John Mamola Didn’t Overthink New WDAE Lineup

“I don’t go book-to-book my talent, I just don’t. I think the more and more you dive into ratings, the more and more you overthink things.”

Brady Farkas

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Just over one month ago, WDAE in Tampa Bay reshuffled its daily line-up. The iHeartMedia station, programmed by John Mamola, moved the Ronnie and TKras program from mornings to afternoons and moved the midday Pat and Aaron show into mornings, while creating a new midday show centered around Jay Recher and producer-turned-host Zac Blobner.

The station let previous host Ian Beckles go as part of the reshuffling.

Barrett Sports Media caught up with Mamola this week to talk about the new line-up, the Tampa Bay market, the importance of developing from within and much more.

(Some of the answers have been edited for brevity and clarity)

BSM: It’s been just over a month since these changes took hold, what would you say is the overall response to them?

JM: Overall, really positive. We lost a really important piece and a pillar of the station in Ian Beckles, but with the moves that we did make, it was overall a pretty positive response from the listeners.

BSM: This wasn’t just creating one new show and calling it a day, this was moving multiple shows into new dayparts. How do you as a programmer get multiple hosts on board with re-arranging their schedules in that manner?

JM: My morning show went into afternoons so they didn’t have to wake up early, so they were very open and welcome to that. As for the original midday show, I knew they were early risers, so moving to mornings didn’t really affect their sleep schedules. And then my midday show, which is the new one, putting those two together is just a combination of some very young, hungry guys that always want new opportunity and are always looking to capitalize on opportunity.

So I wouldn’t say necessarily the convincing was the hard part because it just made a lot of sense for the people involved. The guys in the morning didn’t have to wake up early. The guys in the mornings are early risers anyway, and you get two young, hungry guys to take care of that opportunity so the convincing part was quite easy.

BSM: I got to know Zac Blobner a little bit on the Producers Podcast. He was highlighted a few episodes back and I thought really highly of him. Why was this the right time to get him into a full-time on-air role?

JM: Zac’s been doing some on-air stuff for on the weekends for a number of years. He had his own show and then we tried him out with a couple people on staff on Saturday mornings. That just didn’t necessarily work out but he has hosted a fantasy football show, which we actually air Orlando and in Miami as well as Tampa, live for the last five years.

So his on-air persona – he was a huge part of the morning show and the success of the Ronnie and TKras Show for their run in mornings. So if we were to elevate someone from inside, it just seemed like he was the right guy to elevate, and to pair with Jay Recher. It’s two young, hungry guys and they play well off each other. Some of the best highlights of my day are just sitting in their pre-show meetings with them and their producer Jon Dugas and just listening to how they collaborate together as a threesome on how to attack content, what sound to use, and what guests to book.

Really, it’s three producers in one room all talking about how to collaborate and do a show. Zac has earned the opportunity, just like Pat Donovan who was a producer first. Aaron Jacobson was a producer at first. It was Zac’s time and he’s done a tremendous job with it so far, albeit it’s only a month, but I totally expect it to be a very high ceiling for that show and for Zac in particular.

BSM: Some programmers believe on developing and promoting from within and some programmers believe in always looking for a splashy hire from the outside. Why is developing talent and promoting from within important to you and WDAE?

JM: I think it’s vital for every brand to have a good bench and to continue to find different ways to utilize that bench. Maybe not on the Monday through Friday, but definitely on the weekends in some capacity. And if not there, then on the digital product. You bring in certain guys to push everyone else. Zac was one of those guys. Jay Recher was one of those guys. Pat Donovan was one of those guys. Ronnie and TKras were two of those guys. I like to bring in guys that have a goal and want to push everyone to be better, not just themselves, but push everyone to be better. We have a tremendous team atmosphere on WDAE and we’ve had it for a number of years.

And when you do a lot of change, like we did about a month ago, you don’t want to keep it too foreign. You want to keep it with somebody that the audience knows and the audience has grown to know. Because the minute you start bringing in out of town people that nobody’s ever heard of or you start going to syndication instead of staying live and local, you start to lose your cume, and you start to lose that branding.

We like to put out as much as we can with whatever we have and I think having good, driven people in the hiring process, albeit I’ve hired a little young over my time here, it’s continued to push the narrative that we are continually growing from within and this was just the latest step of that. I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

BSM: When you have new shows and shows in different dayparts, are you mentioning things like ratings and revenue to them? Or do you just tell them to build the shows and worry about it later?

JM: I don’t go book-to-book my talent, I just don’t. I think the more and more you dive into ratings, the more and more you overthink things. It’s important, but it’s not the biggest thing. For me, it’s the sound of the show. If the show sounds like it’s got energy, if it sounds like it’s progressing, if it sounds like we’re creating more attention by what we’re saying and we’re developing as talents and as a station, you feel it. You don’t need to see the numbers. The numbers are the numbers.

The system is great when it’s great but when it’s terrible, it’s still flawed. You know? I mean, Neilson ratings only get you so far but If I start seeing stream numbers go up, which I’ve seen, that’s a positive.  If I see digital traffic or social media growth or something like that, that’s a metric I can track. Today I went to the gas station and they had our sports station on. If I can hear that, that means we’re doing something right. I don’t look book-to-book. I think PDs that dive into numbers and analytics and, and clocks…. Look, if you put out entertaining stuff, they’ll stick with you. And it starts with giving that confidence to your talent. And that’s how I program.

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BSM Writers

Brock Huard Believes The Third Time’s The Charm For Brock and Salk

“If I was a radio consultant, there’s two muscles you have to build constantly. A is listening and B is curiosity.”

Tyler McComas

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It just felt right for Brock Huard when he stepped back behind the mic at Seattle Sports 710. On September 6th, he returned to the airwaves with longtime partner Mike Salk in morning drive. It’s been almost three months since Huard returned to radio, but it still feels as right as it did that early September morning. That’s because the business is in his blood. 

“Once radio is in your blood, it doesn’t leave,” said Huard.

If you talk sports radio with Huard for any length of time, you won’t question his love or intelligence about the industry. He truly loves and understands the business. When you have a former player that has an incredible amount of passion for sports radio, you really have something. Seattle Sports 710 really has something with Huard and his return to the airwaves made locals in the Pacific Northwest very happy. 

Brock & Salk haven’t had to deal with the challenges that new shows experience in the first few months. They’re not trying to establish a chemistry and flow together. They’ve had it after doing a show together twice before, plus a podcast the two hosted together.

“He and I had still done the podcast together for the last couple of years, and had a number of conversations over that time about how fun that hour and a half was, each and every week,” said Huard. “We never really missed a podcast and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Had we not done that podcast for two years, I don’t know if we would have come back for a third iteration. The third time has been the charm on this iteration.”

What makes the show isn’t just Huard being a former athlete or Salk being a very dynamic and experienced host. The two share an incredible chemistry that shines through on the air. However, Huard thinks there’s one reason in particular that the two mesh so well on air. 

“Because we listen,” said Huard. “That’s number one. I will listen to so many radio shows when I’m on the road and I’m like, this is bad radio. And you can tell hosts aren’t listening to one another, they’re just waiting for their time to talk and they fill and it’s terrible.

“If I was a radio consultant, there’s two muscles you have to build constantly. A is listening and B is curiosity. I think for 14 years he’s still genuinely curious about me and how my mind works, world views, ideology and sports views. After 14 years, I’m equally interested in how he thinks and it’s very different than me.

“It was hard to be able to listen and respect one another, because we come from two totally different world views, in many ways. But at the same time, when you do, and you’re curious to listen to the other side and what they have to say, you create unique content.

“He and I used to have to build these big show sheets when we started and we still have structure and everyday there’s still show sheets, but a consultant by the name of Rick Scott told me this early on, he said you know your show will be good, when you don’t get to half of the stuff on your show sheet. And he was absolutely right 14 years ago.”

Co-hosting morning drive at Seattle Sports 710 isn’t the only gig Huard has in sports media. He’s also a college football analyst for FOX. He’ll be on the call Friday night for the Pac-12 Championship game between USC and Utah. But everything ties back to radio for Huard and a recent experience on an airplane made him realize it again. 

“I was sitting next to this very smart gentleman the other day on my trip home from college football, and he was crushing crossword puzzles like I’ve never seen before,” said Huard. “He’s a very successful attorney and you could see for him, that was such a tool to keep his mind sharp. For me, radio is the same thing. It’s been the best training ground for everything I do with media, especially television.

“If you can do live radio and equip your mind to listen and strengthen that listening muscle, while also creating content, it’s a pretty good active tool. It keeps my mind sharp and plays to my mind’s strengths, I think, with just how wackado I can be between my ears at times. If you have a tremendous partner that helps shape you, like Salk is to me, then it’s just addictive and gets in your blood and doesn’t leave.”

As it relates to radio, being a college football analyst has its perks, because of the access it gives Huard. Every week before calling a game, he gets production meetings with head coaches, which gives him insight that others may not have. It also awards Huard the opportunity to create relationships with coaches. But how much of what’s said does he feel like he can use on the game broadcast or his radio show?

“99.9 percent is used on the air, on the show and sometimes I gain insight and share it with coaches that I know to encourage them,” said Huard. “It baffles me how many times I will hear from my peers, oh, I hate these coaches meetings. I don’t get anything out of them. And I’m like, God bless you. I will have a career for the rest of my life if that’s the way you approach it. It’s the most valuable real estate we have. It’s a forum that nobody else has.

“Yeah, they have press conferences, but if you build true trust and relationship and confidence, they want to tell you their story. They want to share their team. I can’t tell you how many times content from those meetings comes to life in my sit downs with Pete Carroll or Jerry Dipoto, GM of the Mariners or Scott Servais, or on the air or off the air.”

Huard has an insight to college football that few in the Pacific Northwest has, but that doesn’t mean he and Salk will jam pack content from that sport into the show. The duo knows that Seattle cares about. Sure, there’s an interest for college football, but not anywhere near the hunger from Seahawks and Mariners content. 

For example, Huard called the TCU vs. Baylor game two weeks ago, which featured one of the best endings in college football this year, when the Horned Frogs nailed a field goal as time expired. The call of the moment was spectacular and could be the shining moment of the season for a TCU team that looks destined for the College Football Playoff. On the Monday after, Huard and Salk made it a part of the show, but never had the intention of making it the majority of the show. 

“Our audience is dominated by the Seahawks and Mariners,” said Huard. “That dominates 80 to 90 percent of our conversation. I would say lifestyle is probably the rest. For example, we played that highlight today four times over the course of the show. We rank things at the end of every show and it was my Top 5 games of my broadcast life in 14 years on the road and that was number 1.

“I often use conversations and things I learned from those games and players and relate them to the Seahawks and Mariners. Dave Aranda talked about living with expectations and how hard that is in our meeting on Friday. He said, you watch, TCU is going to have to live in an entirely different world, where you’re on the mountain top instead of climbing it. And then you relate that toward the Seahawks or the Rams this year.

“Inevitably, yes, those moments create content, either emotionally or football 101. Radio is all encompassing in that way. I never understand radio hosts who try to play it straight. I just don’t. I think it’s bad radio. You have to be willing to live your life and put your life out there, whether it’s good, bad or ugly. The more you do that, the more you attach yourself and connect with your audience.”

It feels like the third time is truly the charm for Huard and Salk. They listen, they have chemistry and the content is a refreshing mix of sports and lifestyle. 

“He and I are not comedians,” said Huard. “We don’t play fake laugh tracks like others do. He and I will land way more on the analytical information side than maybe a consultant would tell us what morning radio people want. But I think where it cuts through is he and I put our lives out there. Our parenting success and failures. Relationship struggles, kids, sports, youth sports, that’s probably where we connect in a way that’s more lifestyle. That’s the word I would use.”

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BSM Writers

Chuck Swirsky Embodies ‘Always A Pleasure’

“I love working with Bill Wennington and each and every day I have the same enthusiasm of calling a Bulls game like I did as a five-year-old child calling games off a TV.”

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It’s hard to imagine there are any more positive thinking people in the world than Chuck Swirsky. If you don’t believe me, just check out his daily tweets. Swirsky has a lot to be upbeat about, he’s doing what he’s always wanted to, and now he’s written a book.

Always a Pleasure” is his creation, putting thoughts on paper, or iPad or whatever, about stories and people he’s encountered over the more than 40-years he’s been in the business.

The title is aptly accurate. Chuck is always a pleasure to be around and is one of the most supportive people I’ve ever met. He encourages those that need it. Swirsky always has time for people in the business and those trying to get into this crazy racket. I’ve seen and experienced it for myself, so trust me when I tell you, it’s the truth.

There are those that have worked multiple decades in play-by-play, and I’ll bet each and every one of them has been asked at some point, ‘hey, why don’t you write a book?’. Sounds easy enough, I’m sure. But when you really think about it, how can a person be expected to fit 40 plus years of work into a book that wouldn’t be the size of a dictionary?

More on that in a moment. I was wondering what makes someone in Swirsky’s position to write a book. So, I asked him. He outlined the main reason he decided to put pen to paper and tell some of his favorite stories and recall good memories.

“Over the past several years I was approached by several publishers and writers who were interested in detailing my journey in sports broadcasting, featuring my stops calling major college athletics and NBA basketball in addition to sports talk.” Swirsky told me. “I was reluctant to do so but a year ago I had a change of heart knowing 2022-23 Bulls season would be my 25th in the NBA, including my 2-thousandth NBA play-by-play game.”

Swirsky didn’t use a sportswriter or an author to tell his tale. “For years I have saved notes and decided to write the book myself, in my own words. I love my job. I have no desire to retire. I want to continue broadcasting Bulls game for many more years as long as my health and clarity allow me to do so.” he said.

“I love working with Bill Wennington and each and every day I have the same enthusiasm of calling a Bulls game like I did as a five-year-old child calling games off a TV. I have the utmost respect for the Reinsdorf  family and our entire organization.  I just felt this was the right time to write a book.”

I have followed Swirsky’s career closely and gotten to know him over the years. Growing up in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to hear him in his early days here, at the old WCFL (now ESPN 1000), where he became one of the pioneers of sports talk radio. He’s called games on radio and television.

For DePaul, Michigan, select White Sox games, the Raptors and now over the last nearly 2 decades, the Bulls. That’s a lot of experience and a lot of experiences for one person. It made ‘editing’ the book a little difficult.

“I could have easily written another 100 pages featuring additional sports personalities and stories.” Swirsky said. “But I elected to highlight specifics of a timeline allowing the reader to understand that my quest to reach a childhood goal of broadcasting NBA basketball was met with challenges, setbacks and ultimately persevering through hard work, focus, passion and positivity.”

Writing books can be a way to look back on a career. Swirsky if far from done. He never really reflected on things, because he was always looking forward. But the retrospective allowed him to realize a few things along the way.

“I would say this. I am my own worst critic.  I very seldom look back on my career. While I was writing “Always A Pleasure” I had to stop and truly reflect how blessed I  am to be in the position where  I am today. I never take it for granted. Never have. Never will.” Swirsky said.  “Nothing is easy. It’s hard. This business can be exhilarating yet so difficult. I never get too high nor too low although I’m very sensitive and my insecurities get the best of me which is probably not a good thing , especially in radio-television.”

In looking back there’s bound to be a few lessons learned from the past. Swirsky did find a few things in writing the book that he remembered, educated him along the way. “I learned that anyone who applies themselves, making  a commitment to work on their  skill set, and their weaknesses through hard work, dedication, passion and purpose, can be successful.” he said. 

“For example, not every professional athlete is going to hit .330. Let’s say another player is hitting .240. What is keeping him in the big leagues? Is it his  glove,  his ability to play multiple positions?  His  character in the locker-room? The same principle is in effect in our industry. Maximize your strengths and do it with a great attitude, humility and kindness.”

Swirsky’s book details his interactions with some very familiar people in the business and the sports world. “I have plenty of stories featuring some of the biggest names in sports ranging from Hall of Fame baseball star Willie Mays who many consider perhaps the greatest player of all time to Kobe Bryant who left our world way too soon.” he says. “When you’ve been a professional broadcaster for 46 years, one  meets many, many players, coaches, executives, media and sports personalities along the way.” 

The one thing you can say about Swrisky, is he is real. There’s no pretense or facade. A genuine human being that is interested in what people have to say. Athletes, coaches, broadcasters and yes, even fans. His book has been reviewed by some of the greats. Mike Breen, Chris Bosh and even Steph Curry. Here’s the 2-time NBA MVP’s take on Swirsky and the book.

Having known Chuck since my days as a still-developing youth player in Toronto, where my dad was a member of the Raptors, I can attest to the fact that his passion for people and basketball is deep and sincere.

Chuck’s unique desire to mentor young people, especially minorities and those of different cultures and backgrounds, will help inspire those who share the same dreams, dreams that enabled him to persevere to the top of his profession.

I’m proud of Chuck, and excited that others can become enlightened by his exciting broadcasting journey, which includes nearly 25 years in the NBA and, of course, a trio of Curry family members shooting from the stars, just like him.

A book written by someone as accomplished in this industry as Swirsky draws interest because of who he is. But the Bulls’ play-by-play man is always thinking of others and trying to help where he can, just like Curry said. Along with stories, he lends his knowledge and relates it to those who are already in broadcasting and those trying to get in.

“I’m hoping those in our industry who read the book even those outside the radio-tv, new media field will come away knowing that perseverance is a powerful resource to help withstand the emotional heartache of rejection, disappointment and loneliness.” said Swirsky. He adds, “I have experienced everything. The good. The bad. The ugly. I’m talking all levels.  My message is to stay true to your core values. In this case,  my foundation is  built on respect,  kindness, honesty, sincerity and selflessness.”  

Given the opportunity to beam about the finished product, Swirsky in typical fashion, deflected any praise. Simply saying, “I am very humbled and appreciative of  the professionalism of the book’s publisher, Eckhartz Press. They allowed me to be me. That’s all I wanted. Mission accomplished. I am grateful.”

The entire industry should be grateful for people like Swirsky. There are so few in the business who are as kind and caring as he is. There are just as few people that take interest in others, and help mentor the next generation like Chuck. Inspiring stories, a career chronicle and life lessons, “Always a Pleasure” is going to be on my must-read list for the holidays. Congrats “Swirsk” keep up the great work.

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