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Sweeny Murti Combined His Passions at WFAN

Derek Futterman

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From the time he was young, Sweeny Murti had a penchant for baseball and, by the time he was in junior high school, radio. He was able to find a way to combine his two passions by working in sports media, reporting on the New York Yankees on WFAN for the last 22 seasons as the station’s official beat reporter.

Murti, 52, announced his departure from the radio station last Friday, officially ending a chapter of his career as he seeks to figure out just what comes next. Sports radio, though, was never Murti’s goal because it is something that was nonexistent until later in his teenage years – although he was covering sports for his high school on its radio station WMSS-FM.

Murti learned the game of baseball by listening to Philadelphia Phillies games and had a profound amount of respect for the team broadcasters, including Harry Kalas, Andy Musser, Chris Wheeler, and Richie Ashburn. He later had an opportunity to work with the organization as a pregame and postgame show host in 1999, sparking his interest to aim to report on baseball regularly for WFAN. Getting to New York – the largest media market in the United States – took persistence and hard work, staying grounded in the day-to-day while continuously improving his craft and advocating his interests to executives.

“I listened to Phillies games growing up on radio and the announcers were just as big [of] people to me as the players,” Murti said. “Those were the guys that were in my house every night.”

Murti joined his junior high school radio station at the age of 12 and gained interest in broadcasting sports. He subsequently began to work with sports director John Wilsbach. Through his time at the radio station, Wilsbach knew Murti’s older brother (who was also working at the broadcast outlet) and helped mentor Murti, teaching him how to broadcast games by letting him shadow various sporting events.

By the time he was in ninth grade, Murti was the station’s sports director and was regularly broadcasting high school football and basketball games. He recognized the palpability of pursuing a career in sports media at this point and, consequently, matriculated at Penn State University to study broadcast journalism.

Unlike many college students seeking to work in media though, Murti’s involvement with campus media outlets, specifically in radio, was minimal. Because of his relationship with Wilsbach, he became connected with Scott Geesey, a talk show host on 1390 WRSC-AM.

Through Geesey, Murti began to converse with that outlet’s sports director Jerry Fisher, the son of legendary Penn State Nittany Lions’ football broadcaster and associate athletic director Fran Fisher. After just one meeting with Fisher, Murti was hired as a part-time assistant, giving him exposure to a professional radio station in his freshman year of college.

“I did a lot of scoreboard updates and a lot of production shifts and DJ shifts,” Murti said. “By that fall, I was doing Friday night high school football scoreboard shows and covering some games, and working on our massive Saturday football coverage on pregame and postgame shows for Penn State football…. We spent a lot of our time talking about sports, and I spent a lot of it thinking about talking about sports and how it was going to translate into my radio career.”

In the summer before his senior year, Murti relocated to New York and worked as an intern at WFAN, the inaugural radio station in the sports talk format that had just launched four years earlier. Over the nearly three months, he worked from the outlet’s Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens and demonstrated a strong work ethic.

In his mind, everyone at the station had an immense base of knowledge when it came to sports and displaying your own expertise would not impress the personnel. Although he was interning at a growing media outlet with hosts including Mike Francesa, Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, Don Imus, and Steve Somers, Murti remained optimistic there would be an on-air role for him one day and quickly adjusted to life in “the Big Apple.”

“It’s a pretty big leap and I’d never spent more than a couple of days in New York; now I’m spending the whole summer in New York,” Murti said. “I wasn’t overwhelmed; I knew I’d already been doing a lot of things in radio so this was [at] a much bigger scale, obviously. I was comfortable and I think I was confident in what I could do.”

Following this experience, Murti returned to Penn State University for his senior year with a new perspective on sports radio. Once he graduated, he began working as a reporter at WHP 580 and as a sports anchor at the Radio PA Network. Before he returned to New York as a full-time producer at WFAN exactly one year later in 1993, he received a valuable piece of advice from news director Bill Richardson. It reminded Murti of a principle critical to the success of athletes, managers and reporters alike and continues to guide him to this day.

“The advice he left me with was, ‘It’s only radio. If you screw it up, just come back and do it again tomorrow,’” Murti recalled. “I’ve never forgotten it [and] some version of that pops into my head quite often. I think I amended that a little bit to say, ‘Listen, let me just do the job today and I’ll figure out how to do it again tomorrow.’”

Murti always sought to be a voice on the air and was placed out of his element in his role as a producer. Through working with established on-air hosts and reporters, including Steve Somers, Suzyn Waldman, Howie Rose, and Ian Eagle, Murti gained an understanding of the responsibility garnered upon them. In order to succeed in the marketplace, the hosts had to be informative and entertaining to sports fans, overseeing a place where fans could express their emotions and convey their opinions about the teams and players they cared about.

“I learned what kind of preparation it takes [and] what kind of personality it takes,” Murti said. “I was a good on-air personality, I thought, when I was in high school and college. This was just a different world; a different level that I was learning and soaking in.”

While Murti did not feel apprehensive about working in the New York-metropolitan area, he was unsure about producing on a full-time basis, leading him to have several conversations with executive producer Eric Spitz.

Nonetheless, Murti absorbed a large amount of information and picked up on intricacies related to producing and stood out. As a result, he was afforded the opportunity to travel with Spitz and his crew at Westwood One Radio to the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. That experience, quite simply, changed everything, as Murti realized he had the ability to transition from being a producer into a bonafide reporter.

“I got done with those couple of weeks and realized, ‘Wow, I can do what those guys are doing,’” Murti articulated. “It wasn’t, ‘I’m better than that guy.’ I [just] somehow thought this was a different level of something that was higher than me, and after working with them and being around them and helping them do these things, I realized I would be able to do that job just as well as they were because that’s the kind of confidence I had and I knew I’d be prepared for that.”

One year later, Murti joined SportsRadio 94 WIP in Philadelphia to become a full-time sports anchor and had the chance to regularly go on-air. After working at the station for a year, he returned to WFAN and was placed on the air, albeit in a part-time role, doing overnight updates. He also returned to the Summer Olympics in 2000, this time in Sydney, Australia, working with Westwood One Radio as a reporter.

Leading up to the World Series between the New York Mets and New York Yankees in that same year, WFAN reshuffled its midday show. Russ Salzberg and Steve Somers were moved out of the 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. slot in exchange for Jody McDonald and Suzyn Waldman. Because of Waldman’s new role hosting middays and doing television work with the Yankees, her role as the station’s beat reporter for the team opened. Since Murti was working overnight shifts, he made sure to stay early into the morning one day to meet with Mark Chernoff, then-program director of WFAN (he would often arrive for work at approximately 6 a.m. each morning).

Once he made his intention known to Chernoff, he scribbled Murti’s name down on a pad of paper and had other people advocating for him to land the job around the station. Around the time of the Christmas party, Murti received the news that he had landed the job – very much representative of his dream role – and prepared for the upcoming spring training in Tampa. Waldman proved to be a vital resource for Murti to learn the role, accessible both by phone and at the ballpark.

“She helped me kind of work through the early stuff,” Murti said. “After a little while, I just tried to figure it out on my own. I wanted to lean on her to get myself going, but I didn’t want to constantly lean on her. I kind of wanted to see how I could figure it out myself at that point. It was great getting to figure it out with her to start and then kind of going off on my own.”

Murti had been on the air from the time he was in high school and was cognizant of his long-term goals. Combining his adoration for baseball and skillset in reporting was his ultimate intent – and he was fortunate that the timing worked out.

“Those jobs were kind of created,” Murti said. “I didn’t know they existed. I can’t tell you that was a goal; I just knew I wanted to be the play-by-play announcer for the Phillies when I was 13 years old. That was my goal but I didn’t go do Minor League Baseball play-by-play when I was 22. I came to FAN and moved on that track.”

Walking into the clubhouse for the first time in Tampa, Murti knew not to expect to immediately foster deep relationships with any of the players and uncover concealed stories. Instead, he focused on the long game, gradually cultivating dialogue and learning the vernacular to become familiar with the team. He expected this role to last much longer than one season and segmented the process by piecemeal.

“I think that I had the idea of hoping to get to do this for a while so let’s just take it slow,” he recalled. “Let’s just not try to talk to Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams every day about something that’s going to make me be their confidant.”

Through performing his role, Murti observed the quotidian routines and habits of the great players – and the Yankees, coming off a stretch of four championships in five years, knew how to optimize their play to get results conducive to success. Murti was able to apply some of those lessons to his own craft as a journalist, keeping him focused and motivated to perform.

“The great ones put yesterday behind them very quickly whether they had a great game or a bad game,” Murti said. “That’s probably where watching Jeter up close really mattered because he was so good at that. He would be pissed off if he made outs or [if] they lost a game, but he wasn’t smashing water coolers like Paul O’Neill or throwing things. It was just, ‘Okay, listen, that’s over. Let’s focus on the next one.’”

Murti focused on both the trials and tribulations of the players, but always looked at the macro (team) rather than the micro (individuals). To him, the big picture was most important and taking each result in stride – just as a well-balanced team establishing and maintaining a winning culture aims to do. It helped him create a style – one that transferred from radio to television to writing. Murti endeavored in all three over his time as WFAN’s Yankees beat reporter, a job he exited last week.

Over his time as a reporter, Murti has contributed to programming on MLB Network, YES Network, and SNY among other networks. The production tactics and time constraints in television contrasted with radio – in fact, Murti likened it to being a cog part of a larger system to execute a play in football – and it gave him different methods in which to present his reports.

“The teammate aspect of what I used to do at FAN is definitely something I loved and appreciated,” Murti explained, “but there are a lot more moving parts to television that make you rely on other people’s help to make everything look and sound better.”

He also had the ability to live out his dream doing play-by-play announcing in a Major League Baseball game when filling in for Yankees’ radio voice John Sterling. With Waldman as his color commentator, Murti brought fans the action in the Yankees’ matchup against the Houston Astros as family and friends listened from his hometown. He did not view the assignment, for which he volunteered, as an audition; instead, it was more about embracing and making the most of a unique opportunity.

“I think I brought a lifetime of caring about being on the radio and loving watching baseball,” Murti said. “I think I bring that every night; I hope I brought [it] that night to a degree that satisfied everybody. It was just a thrill beyond belief.”

Whether it was watching the Yankees win the World Series in 2009; writing articles about the team and its players for WFAN’s website; or hosting various podcasts, Murti thoroughly enjoyed his time at the station. Just as the landscape of media has endured rapid evolution and realignment, the role of a beat reporter was analogously shifting – leading to Murti’s departure from WFAN last week.

“We tried for a long time to figure out how to evolve and create the different content that would click,” Murti said. “It just became harder to accomplish, I guess. I’m grateful that it lasted as long as it did.”

The nature of working in radio has drastically adapted amid a marketplace saturated with an overabundance of content and platforms on which to consume it. As a result, radio faces a maelstrom of competition from media outlets and, nowadays, independent creators disseminating their work. Yet it still remains a medium based on a communal aspect, representing and implementing the authentic voice of the fan as an outlet of both catharsis and jubilation.

“Even though a lot is consumed individually through phones now and through social media, to hear the actual voices and the emotions in those voices – good or bad; high or low – it’s still something you can’t duplicate on social media,” Murti said. “You’ve got to come to the radio to be a part of that. That’s something I hope never goes away.”

The greatest compliment Murti could have ever received was a listener remaining in their car to finish hearing one of his reports – and he hopes to continue to be able to fuse baseball and journalism together in whatever his next role may be. Amid a post-WFAN world, he looks to continue bringing viewers the story and create new memories, utilizing his versatility to be an asset to any media brand.

“I enjoy lots of stuff,” Murti said. “I do enjoy writing and I hope I still get to do some of that. I enjoy the TV work; I love interviewing people and getting to tell those stories. It’s a really big thrill turning on a microphone, wherever that is, and telling people what’s happening. I hope I still get to do that.”

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Sports Radio Advertising is a Great Alternative to Expensive Team Sponsorships

There are plenty of creative ways to tie into sports radio stations, where the fans listen daily, and the investment is often much less than team sponsorships.

Jeff Caves

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Photo of Citi Field in New York
Photo Credit: Stadium Sponsorship

Not everyone can afford to sponsor a local NFL or college football team. However, there are plenty of creative ways to tie into sports radio stations, where the fans listen daily, and the investment is often much less than team sponsorships. Here are some ideas:

Pitchmen for Hire: Leverage Local Personalities

Thousands of listeners tune in to hear local sports personalities discuss their favorite teams. Hiring these “football expert” personalities to represent your business can significantly boost your ad response. Their endorsement can help you rise above the fray and double your ad response.

Get More Bang for Your Buck: Stand Out

Tie into station activities that make your brand stand out. Sponsor the local team poll on the station’s website, host a remote broadcast the day before a big game, or sponsor a charity promotion and donate to the cause. Breaking through the clutter of commercial breaks requires creativity and involvement in station activities.

Tie into Local Teams Without Sponsoring Them

You don’t have to sponsor the local team to run a promotion about them. Consider running ads offering discounts if the team wins and even more significant discounts if they lose. Your ad rep can help you phrase these promotions to avoid legal issues. True fans listen to sports radio weekly for team-related content, so tap into that passion.

Become a Title Sponsor

Be the title sponsor for interview segments with local players. If the station is conducting regular player interviews, sponsor these segments. If shows don’t run many interviews, consider sponsoring newscasts that feature excerpts from these interviews.

Hire Retired Fan Favorites

Retired players beloved by fans can be an excellent asset for your business. They are often less expensive than current stars but still hold significant appeal. Think of players like Mike Alstott, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, or Nate Newton. These personalities can do spots or appear at your location, adding a memorable touch to your advertising efforts.

Adopt a ‘Mattress Mack’ Strategy

Make an offer based on the local team’s success, like Gallery Furniture in Houston‘s Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. In 2022, he offered customers double their money back if the Astros won the World Series. Such promotions generate significant publicity and engage the local community, even if the offer is temporary.

Sponsoring a local NFL or major college football team may be out of reach for many clients. Still, numerous creative strategies exist to maximize a sports radio advertising investment. By leveraging local personalities, participating in station activities, and creatively tying your promotions to local sports teams, you can effectively break through the clutter and make a lasting impression on listeners. Engaging fans with innovative offers and memorable endorsements enhances your brand’s visibility and builds a loyal customer base.

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Caitlin Clark Media Coverage is Good for Everybody in the WNBA

By tuning in to see what Clark does, viewers are also noticing the many other great WNBA players.

John Molori

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Screengrab from ESPN's Get Up covering Caitlin Clark
Screengrab: ESPN Get Up

It’s time to talk about Caitlin Clark. The rookie guard for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever has become a legit phenomenon in the media. She has singlehandedly, and I repeat, singlehandedly put the focus on a league that has been largely ignored by mainstream sports talk shows for a quarter century.

Nobody wants to admit that one person can change a sport or a league. It is viewed as a slight to people who came before that special athlete and that special athlete’s contemporaries, but it has happened on numerous occasions, and we’ll get to that.

From a marketing and media standpoint, Caitlin Clark is a human tidal wave of interest, excitement, and anticipation. She quite literally brought tens of millions of eyes to the 2024 Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, and deservedly so, she will most likely earn tens of millions of endorsement dollars from a variety of corporations and their products. She has inspired congratulations and controversy, especially with her recent exclusion from the USA Basketball Women’s National team.

The reaction to Clark’s success and attention from some members of the media and WNBA players has been shocking. Tremendous commentators such as Andraya Carter, Chiney Ogwumike, and Rebecca Lobo have, at times, come off as apologists for WNBA players who are just plain jealous of Clark’s unprecedented popularity.

As ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has explained eloquently, these critics are missing the point from a marketing and economic perspective. Clark has not only helped herself with her play, but has also brought attention and focus to women’s hoops as a whole.

By tuning in to see what Clark does, viewers are also noticing the many other great WNBA players. Clark is that rare breed of athlete who is truly changing the game, making it better and more profitable not only for herself, but for everyone involved at all levels.

On recent editions of ESPN’s First Take, Smith has gone toe to toe with Carter, Ogwumike, and Monica McNutt on the Caitlin Clark issue. The fascinating exchange between Smith and McNutt on the June 3 edition was a watershed moment in recent sports television.

Smith, McNutt, and host Molly Qerim were discussing the hard foul/shove that Chicago’s Chennedy Carter laid on Clark in a WNBA game. The course of the discussion moved toward the rise in WNBA ratings mainly because of Clark’s presence in the league.

The debate eventually came down to a back-and-forth between Smith and McNutt. Smith reiterated his longtime dedication to the WNBA and women’s sports in general. In response, McNutt said that with Smith’s platform, he could’ve been talking as much about the WNBA three years ago, long before Clark’s debut.

Smith was visibly angered and disappointed by McNutt’s comments. On The Stephen A. Smith Show podcast that same day, he defended himself and his show, saying that First Take has been at the forefront of promoting gender, race, age, and all forms of equality and respect.

Smith is 100% correct. This chap has been a champion of women, minorities, and even older media personalities, such as Christopher Russo, whom he has brought to a whole new audience on First Take. Stephen A. Smith is the Arsenio Hall and David Letterman of sports talk. When the syndicated Arsenio Hall Show hit the airwaves in 1989, he was the first late night host to bring hip-hop artists to center stage on a regular basis.

Similarly, Letterman’s “Late Night” on NBC showcased new talent in comedy and music, while bringing irreverence and originality to the tired old talk show format. Smith has done the same. He has made stars out of Ryan Clark, Mina Kimes, Marcus Spears, Kimberley Martin, and many others. He has also raised the profile of already renowned commentators such as Shannon Sharpe, Qerim, and the aforementioned Russo.

Smith has been a stalwart of equity, but that’s not what McNutt was saying. She was saying that with his audience, Smith could’ve talked about the WNBA thereby creating popularity and exposure for the league long before now.

McNutt’s jarring comment put Smith in a humbled position and really hit at his very core, but he took his game to a whole new level the very next day. McNutt was back on First Take, which right there shows the utter gumption that Smith possesses. He could’ve easily let things settle down a bit before he brought McNutt back on the show, but he didn’t. That’s classic Smith – encouraging discourse and disagreement.

When you get to the level of a Stephen A. Smith, you welcome a debating challenge. The last guests you want are sycophantic suck-ups who cowardly agree, no matter what the subject. Smith’s high point on the June 4 episode was when he said in a loud voice, “Caitlin Clark is white.”

He acknowledged the fact that it makes a difference. He also stated that black players who have been just as talented as Clark have not been given their rightful attention – also true. Regarding the perceived negative treatment of Clark by some WNBA players, Smith made it clear that they should not go easy on Clark on the court, but their mindsets need to recognize that Clark is benefitting the WNBA and putting dollars in their collective pockets.

Whether you agree with Smith or not, the fact is that this is what special players like Caitlin Clark do. They raise the level of discussion and simultaneously raise the profile of their respective sports. The WNBA is now in the A-block on highly rated shows like First Take and ESPN’s Get Up.

The league and its players are on the front burner of discussion for Smith, Nick Wright, Colin Cowherd and many other top-tier, multimedia sports debaters. This fact was straight up impossible one year ago. This is what Caitlin Clark has done.

Clark’s impact and stamp on women’s basketball is not unique. There are precedents where one person has made such a difference.

Larry Bird looked different, played different, restored a dead Celtics franchise, and made his mark in a sport that was on life support in terms of media coverage and fan interest. Bird and Magic Johnson rescued the league – a black man on the west coast and a white man on the east coast, two wunderkinds who changed the NBA forever. Caitlin Clark is Larry Bird.

Tiger Woods burst onto the PGA TOUR and won the Masters in 1997, embarking on a run that would see him change the game of golf from a competitive, performance, historic standpoint, and social standpoint. He was charismatic, focused, and yes, an African American phenom smashing records in a white-dominated sport. Caitlin Clark is Tiger Woods.

In 1965, Alabama quarterback Joe Namath eschewed the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals and signed with the AFL’s New York Jets. He raised the profile of the league and garnered more attention and dollars than established AFL stars which made him a target. As the league’s popularity grew however, opposing players recognized his significance beyond the field. They did not go easy on him during games, just ask his knees, but they knew that his success was theirs as well. Namath was the key figure in the eventual AFL/NFL merger. Caitlin Clark is Joe Namath.

Serena Williams was smart, savvy, athletic, fashion conscious, and just plain great. Williams shattered the traditional mold and became an iconoclastic figure in women’s tennis with both her play and personae. The lineage with her sister Venus ushered in a new era in the sport. Serena attacked the game in a unique way. She was exciting and original, and lifted her sport and fellow athletes. Caitlin Clark is Serena Williams.

I am not saying that Clark will have a legendary or Hall of Fame career akin to these illustrious athletes, but the immediate impact she has had on her sport and the media coverage of her sport is similar.

As Smith so often states, Clark is “box office.” You can debate the reasons why, but you cannot debate the fact that she has supremely raised the profile and the financial prospects of women’s basketball and its players.

I understand that other WNBA players want their share of the credit for improving the league. I also understand that WNBA commentators want fairness and equity in terms of attention and the spotlight. However, both groups need to realize that Clark is the main reason that they are getting this increased exposure. On the court, be competitive against Clark and try to beat her and her team. On the air, be critical of Clark and analyze her game, but on a larger scale, understand, accept, and embrace that Caitlin Clark’s most important assist might just be to you.

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Joe Tipton Turned Sports Graphics Into a National Reporting Role With On3

“There’s definitely a competitive aspect of it, which I really enjoy actually because it just kind of keeps you on your toes.”

Derek Futterman

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(Illustration) | Courtesy: On3

In the moments when athletes make a monumental decision about their playing careers, news outlets frequently try to cover the story in a timely and accurate manner. Whether it is signing with a new team in free agency, inking a new endorsement deal or retiring, basketball has plenty of these occurrences annually. These announcements are sometimes accompanied by graphics, adding visual elements of branding and allure to the development. Joe Tipton learned the nuances of photo editing and graphic design at a young age, leading him to create images of NBA players and share them on social media. Observing a lack of interest within the space, he considered doing the same for high school players nearing college commitments.

Tipton Edits, an independent business venture that he began shortly after starting in sports graphic design, provides athletes with a free edit in which their new uniform is superimposed onto an image divulging their new team. These recruits then share the photos on social media and tag Tipton. Especially at the start of the entrepreneurial property, he viewed gaining followers as remuneration, an invaluable currency as digital media continues its swift proliferation.

“I didn’t start making the graphics at 17 to have a job in it – I was just kind of doing it on the side for fun and then just kind of [seeing] where it would go,” Tipton said. “Since I was one of the first people to make graphics for these high school players in their recruiting decisions and now transfers, and now that I’ve built up the presence online and the credibility and the reputation, a lot of them will flock to me, and I think that’s what’s so sustainable about it now.”

The transfer portal keeps Tipton busy in creating and delivering graphics to collegiate athletes moving to a new school. Remaining prepared to create an enticing visual featuring the player in their new uniform and distributing it on social media requires a commitment to the craft. Even though he was a marketing student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, he was still trying to determine the best path forward and ended up transforming his hobby into a sustainable career.

“I was able to communicate with high-level basketball players and create something for them – and all of it free of charge – in exchange just for a tag on Instagram and Twitter, which helped propel me and grow my brand and following online,” Tipton said, “and over the years, [it] got me to where I am now.”

By designing these graphics in advance, Tipton was privy to coveted information and recognized that he could effectively reveal where players were signing. His work has been featured on various sports outlets such as ESPN and Bleacher Report and shared by NBA legends including Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen.

On3, a digital sports media brand that delivers news, analysis and insights to consumers regarding college sports, recruiting and NIL, added Tipton as a national basketball reporter after he graduated from college. Since that time, he has established himself as a distinguished journalist covering high school and college basketball.

“[I] had an opportunity to join On3 because basically what I was doing when supplying the graphic to a high school recruit and even transfers now in the portal, I am being gifted the knowledge of where a player is going,” Tipton said, “so I’m able to report that information, and that’s basically what I serve as now for On3.”

Joining On3 provided him with another platform to disseminate this information and expand his audience while assisting the company in its own growth. Shannon Terry founded On3 in 2021, and the platform has continued to expand with dedicated coverage of NIL, the transfer portal and the NFL Draft, along with adding subsidiary verticals such as On3 Elite and On3 HER.

“When it comes to the transfers and their decision making, it’s so rapid fire, and there’s so many players that enter the transfer portal because of NIL, because of instant opportunities and also the ability to play right away and not have to sit out like the previous rules stated,” Tipton articulated, “so it increased the need for what I do and just the coverage of the transfer portal in general has taken a significant leap, which is great for those who cover the portal and recruiting in general.”

Tipton earned a contract extension at On3 earlier in the year, but he has always operated with a chip on his shoulder to prove that he is more than just a graphic designer. While he is a recent graduate and continuing to shape his identity and forge relationships, he believes the process has been considerably slow to this point. Nonetheless, he remains optimistic that working with On3 will be able to propel him to the next level.

“They didn’t view me as a reporter even though I was breaking news, so especially in the earlier stages, I wasn’t getting credit for breaking the news just because I guess they didn’t view me as a reporter [or] traditional media outlet,” Tipton said. “But ever since joining On3, that’s kind of painted me in a new light, and people will look at me a little bit differently, especially with the coverage that I’m able to provide for On3 and then just the overall stories broken.”

There is an aspect of fluctuation that has become more embedded in college basketball, rendering it fundamental to verify information ahead of its circulation. For example, if a player informs Tipton that they are committing to a certain school, he will oftentimes call the coaches or athletics department to safeguard against complicating miscommunication between the two entities. In the end, he is never releasing graphics or reports without extreme confidence in its veracity.

“There’s definitely a competitive aspect of it, which I really enjoy actually because it just kind of keeps you on your toes,” Tipton said. “It’s kind of a rush as well to be able to get it out first, but the first year on the job with On3, there was an incredible amount of pressure that I put on myself to just achieve this at a high level, but there’s also a great deal of stress that comes with it because a lot of what I do is time sensitive.”

Although he has a stellar reporting record dating back to his days solely creating graphics, there are moments when other reporters or outlets beat him to the story. In these situations, the power of his brand and its identity assists in overcoming these impediments, indicative of his broad appeal and widespread reach. Establishing himself as a brand rather than being a graphic designer or reporter within a larger entity has been a key differentiator within his formative years in the business.

“I think it’s the key to sustainability and a way to separate yourself from other people, so I’m incredibly fortunate that the players believe in me, trust in me and then On3 does the same because I’m a source for the player that they can come to and trust, and we all grow together,” Tipton said. “I help grow the player, [and] I help grow On3. On3 helps grow me [and] the player helps grow me because they’re all posting my stuff, we’re posting them, so we’re all on this together, so it’s really nice.”

Tipton never envisioned himself appearing in front of the camera, but he is now doing so regularly for On3. As part of its content, he frequently discusses the latest news regarding recruitment, the transfer portal and NIL in addition to synthesizing player rankings.

“[I am] obviously only just scratching the surface of the on-camera stuff, but I think that is a strong potential avenue for me moving forward in my career,” Tipton said, “but then also my ability to break news at a high level and also the relationships that I have just when it comes to the recruiting insider portion of my job as well.”

Later this month, Tipton will see some of the players for whom he has created graphics soon enter the NBA when the NBA Draft takes place from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Although he has not assimilated into reporting on the NBA, he is competitive and has thought about his future work. Yet he understands that a majority of his verve is in college basketball and is focused on breaking news beyond recruiting.

“The good thing about me and kind of how I was brought up was I wasn’t raised in a family that was a fan of a specific team; in fact, my parents aren’t even sports fans at all,” Tipton said. “Sports was just not on at all growing up, so I never grew up a specific fan or a diehard of any specific program.”

Reflecting back on his journey thus far, Tipton feels that he stumbled into his career with fortuitous timing. The versatility he has developed, along with his persistence, networking and inexorable work ethic, has contributed to the growth of Tipton Edits and his role with On3.

Tipton found a way to cut through the media ecosystem, investing his time and effort into a niche that did not exist with the level of cache and emphasis that it currently possesses. The industry moves with unrelenting momentum and can seem imposing to shrewdly understand and cover, but Tipton aims to masterfully keep up while enjoying his journey to an unknown destination.

“We live in a world where, especially younger people, they’re keen on growing their social media presence,” Tipton said, “so On3, Tipton Edits and others alike are able to grow their channels, so they’re encouraged to utilize services like mine to help kind of propel their following and for it to reach a large number of people.”

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