In February 2021, The Volume entered the sports media space, destined to forge an identity as a sports podcast network. Created by FOX Sports Radio and FS1 host Colin Cowherd, the brand quickly began generating attention, thanks in large part to the national profile of its founder and the arrival of four additional shows hosted by former WWE announcer Renee Paquette, comedian and sports gambling fanatic Alex Monaco, former NFL defensive back Aqib Talib, and longtime friends and basketball junkies LaJethro Jenkins and Dragonfly Jonez.
Soon thereafter, Cowherd would add Logan Swaim from DAZN to serve as the network’s Head of Content. Additional shows were launched featuring former NFL scout and football analyst John Middlekauff, Action Network’s Chief Content Officer Chad Millman, and Notre Dame teammates Kyle Hamilton, Cam Hart, KJ Wallace, and Conor Ratigan. Then just nine months after launching, the company would make another big splash when Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green signed on to host a weekly podcast and serve as an advisor to the emerging network.
By investing in unique talent and creating interesting shows, the brand has enjoyed quicker than expected growth. In addition to the fourteen podcasts featured on its website, the company has started a new show with Richard Sherman, and a college football show with T-Bob Hebert and Aaron Murray. Well known NFL reporter Mike Silver also joined the company over the summer.
Despite launching five years after Bill Simmons introduced The Ringer, the network has already surpassed them on YouTube with an impressive 800,000 subscribers across all of its YT channels. Millions more receive the company’s content on social media whether that’s through the brand’s main accounts or popular hosts such as Cowherd, Green, Paquette and others.
In order to further capitalize on the momentum created over the past eighteen months, the company is set to expand its leadership team. In an exclusive story reported first by Barrett Sports Media, Cowherd has confirmed the addition of five new executive hires. All will report directly to The Volume’s Head of Content, Logan Swaim.
Charged with helping the company strengthen its position across the sports media landscape are Andrew Samson, Alisa Harrison, Sean Herlihy, Allyson Porter, and Matt Kline. Each will have different responsibilities for the network, which we’ve laid out below.
In a statement provided to BSM, Volume Founder Colin Cowherd said, “We are always looking for people with unique perspectives and an innovative approach to their work. The leadership team we’ve assembled is going to use those qualities to strengthen our existing business and find new opportunities for The Volume as we head into our second year.”
Cowherd will be a guest next week on The Jason Barrett Podcast. The episode will be released on Tuesday September 6th. He is expected to share additional insight on the company’s new executive hires, The Volume’s growth and future goals, and much more.
THE VOLUME’S NEW EXECUTIVE HIRES
Andrew Samson, Executive Producer – Andrew will oversee The Volume’s flagship program “The Colin Cowherd Podcast.” Samson is an Emmy Award-winning writer who previously served as Director of Content for The XFL.
Alisa Harrison, Head of Production – Alisa will manage the creative and technical execution of the network’s entire slate of shows both in audio and video. She previously oversaw branded and documentary programming at Overtime.
Sean Herlihy, Head of Gambling – Sean will oversee the expansion of The Volume’s growing gambling content vertical, liaising with its partners at FanDuel and The Action Network with a goal of delivering them new audiences and customers. Herlihy previously worked at FS1 where he developed and executive produced Fox Bet Live.
Allyson Porter, Head of Programming – Allyson will oversee partnerships, distribution deals, and new show development. Porter previously worked for Activision Blizzard where she built a robust Esports roster and spearheaded the company’s gaming content.
Matt Kline, Head of Digital – Matthew will oversee The Volume’s growing social channels and build new revenue streams through digital. Kline previously worked for ESPN where he managed the network’s Snapchat shows and oversaw the development, launch, and production of digital shows for emerging platforms.
Sports Media Reacts to Passing of Jim Caple
“We all love Jim Caple so much and he loved you.”
Longtime ESPN baseball writer Jim Caple passed away on Sunday, his wife announced in a statement on social media. The 17-year ESPN veteran covered 20 World Series for the network, in addition to other sports media endeavors with the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
He most recently wrote for The Athletic on topics including baseball, tennis, and the WNBA. Caple had been fighting both ALS and dementia and passed away at the age of 61, surprising and devastating those across the sports media world.
“My person, best friend, and husband died on Sunday afternoon,” his wife wrote on Facebook. “We all love Jim Caple so much and he loved you. Many great times, laughs, and adventures with all of us with Jim. Go in peace, my love.”
Kevin Jackson, a former vice president at ESPN and Caple’s editor, issued a statement on the passing of his venerated colleague. The duo worked closely on many stories for ESPN platforms, including on Page 2 where he was able to transform a story into a book deriding the New York Yankees titled, “The Devil Wears Pinstripes.”
“Jim was an amazing and prolific writer who always found the joy in sports,” Jackson said. “Whether he was writing about baseball, the Olympics, the NCAA Tournament or his beloved Tour de France, Jim cared deeply about the games we play, but he never took them too seriously.”
Those within the sports media industry reacted to the unfortunate news, sharing their memories of Caple and expressing their condolences.
Former CNN Exec Jeff Zucker Purchases Stake in Front Office Sports
“The team at Front Office Sports has built an impressive platform for sports business journalism, and I’m excited to help it grow in the years ahead.”
Upon his departure from CNN one year ago, former network president Jeff Zucker launched RedBird IMI, a venture looking to invest in properties throughout the media and finance industries. The entity is composed of private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners and International Media Investments, and it has approximately $1 billion in capital backing from key figures within both entities. Zucker is now set to make his first acquisition and third investment with the reported purchase of a minority stake in Front Office Sports, a multiplatform media brand covering all aspects of sports business.
The company was launched by Chief Executive Officer Adam White and President Russell Wilde while they were in college, and the property rapidly flourished over the last several years. While most of the content from the publisher is free, it did begin selling paid subscriptions in 2021 and was able to raise $5 million from Crain Communications last year at an overall valuation of $25 million. According to Axios, which first reported news of negotiations and, ultimately, the closed deal, Front Office Sports will be part of EverWonder Studio – a new, non-fiction content outlet – being led by former Time, Inc. president Ian Orefice.
Orefice was recently involved in a deal between the studio and Meadowlark Media pertaining to a feature documentary about a feature documentary between tennis stars Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. With Zucker’s purchase, the company now has a valuation of $40 million, and it also installs him as co-chairman of the board alongside Jason Stein, an investor within SC Holdings.
“The team at Front Office Sports has built an impressive platform for sports business journalism, and I’m excited to help it grow in the years ahead,” Zucker said in a statement. “Audiences are more interested than ever in the business of sports, and this investment will allow Front Office Sports to create even more compelling news content that draws people in.”
The minority investment encompasses the 20% previously owned by Crain Communications, and also includes additional shares from SC Holdings. Both RedBird IMI and SC Holdings will have equal minority stakes, while the rest are owned by employees.
“The business of sports has become ubiquitous in recent years, permeating across all corners of culture. It now commands mainstream attention and is part of even the most casual fan’s daily content consumption,” White said in a statement. “The foundation of our company was built on a deep understanding and connection to this shift, and has long informed our editorial strategy and product development. As we enter this next stage of expansion, we are incredibly excited to partner with Jeff Zucker, one of the media industry’s greatest minds.”
“Front Office Sports has become a clear leader and important voice in the growing sports media landscape,” Stein added in a statement. “We were an early believer in their approach to covering sports in a way that would influence business leaders and inform fans. This credibility with highly coveted audiences will continue to separate them as they expand the business.”
Front Office Sports has a twice-daily newsletter with more than 800,000 subscribers and reports on news targeted towards both mainstream consumers and industry professionals. In recent news, the outlet was one of the first to report on Taylor Swift being in attendance for the Sunday Night Football matchup between the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. The company currently employs more than 40 reporters to contribute to its content, ensuring that it remains a timely and credible source of information.
Sports Media Reacts to NFL Toy Story Broadcast
Sports media was ablaze with reaction to the unique broadcast.
The NFL held the first London game of the season on Sunday as the Jacksonville Jaguars took on the Atlanta Falcons. In addition to being the first ESPN+ exclusive game of the season, the game also featured a kid-focused, Toy Story-themed simulcast.
Similarly to how the NFL did their SpongeBob SquarePants simulcasts, trackers on all the players allowed for the game to be transformed into the world of the beloved Pixar film series.
ESPN had a similar simulcast earlier this year in its NHL coverage, having a game transformed into the Disney show Big City Greens.
Several across sports media had positive reactions to Sunday’s Toy Story Football.
While the majority of the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, there were some who didn’t care for the simulcast and how it was presented. Barstool’s Kevin Clancy was in that group.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.