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Jay Recher Won’t Be Outworked at WDAE

“I don’t care who it is, I’m just not going to be outworked because that’s the one thing I can control day in, day out.”

Brian Noe

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“I grew up in New York, but I became a man in Tampa.” These are the words of Jay Recher, on-air host and assistant program director at 95.3 WDAE. Before making his way to Tampa in 2005, Jay grew up on Long Island where he learned how to become an avid sports fan from his family.

At a young age, Jay remembers his “tough as nails” grandfather telling him not to make fun of anybody that truly loves a sport because you could win a gold medal or be a millionaire. That same grandfather had relatives that were figure skaters in Switzerland. Hearing a tough, military family member speak about how great figure skating is opened Jay’s mind to all sports.

That’s one of the coolest things about Jay, he embraces everything. He loves the four major sports, but hockey and baseball are his favorites. How about volleyball and tennis? Jay played both. What about the Premier League? Oh, big time. NASCAR? Sure, why not? Jay sees the beauty in every sport.

Jay talks about his unconventional path in sports radio, and how working his way up as a producer benefits him greatly now as the lead host of Jay and Z. He explains that mornings equal misery for him on a deeper level than most. Jay also describes his great approach of not forgetting where he’s from, while also being respectful of where he’s at. Enjoy!

Brian Noe: I saw you at the BSM Summit and you were streaming multiple hockey games at the same time. You really do watch it all. How many hours a week do you think you spend watching live sports?

Jay Recher: It’s embarrassing. [Laughs] A lot, and it’s funny because my girlfriend, we’ve been together over a year now, she knows absolutely nothing about sports. Not “kind of” doesn’t know sports, really doesn’t know sports. We started dating and the first month in I was like, ‘Babe, the game’s in the seventh inning, it’ll be over soon’. And then five minutes later, she says ‘I hope that means you’re going to be back soon because I don’t know what an inning is’. As somebody whose dad was a baseball coach, my grandfather was a baseball coach, and now I’m dating a girl that doesn’t know what an inning is, it’s definitely a change.

My girlfriend, God bless her, man, she’s really tried. We’ve gone to Rowdies games, Lightning games, Bucs games, Rays games, and now she’s into it. She asks a lot of questions. She just never experienced it; nobody in her family is into sports. It’s foreign to me. My mom was doing the salsa dance when Victor Cruz was scoring touchdowns for the Giants 10 years ago. My sisters played volleyball and softball. They did everything.

It was different for me, but her saying ‘Hey, I definitely want to try’ was awesome. And now she listens to DAE every day. She listens to the other shows, too. She’s a godsend because she’s really put in the effort.

But yeah, man, I’d say at least a couple hours a day. I’m big into wrestling. I love WWE, AEW, New Japan. MMA, love UFC, and all the different brands there. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t consume sports content. Even when I’m on vacation, sports is my life, man. It’s what I love. It’s family and sports; those are my two biggest things. Definitely a couple hours a day, and even if I’m playing a video game, it’s not Call of Duty or anything, it’s usually FIFA or NHL.

BN: Did you start off as a producer at DAE?

JR: I got into the radio business when I was 28. I moved here from Long Island when I was 20. A lot of my friends were selling drugs or doing drugs, and I was not about that life. I just always knew that I wanted to do better. When I was in high school, I said I was either going to be in the New York City Fire Department, FDNY — I was a volunteer fireman when I was a senior in high school, which was cool — or I wanted to be a sports broadcaster. I ended up going to Oswego in upstate New York. But that just did not work out. [Laughs] I wasn’t really focused on the right things.

When I moved to Florida, the first job I got was at a front desk at a baseball facility called Frozen Ropes. I did that and two years later, I was the head baseball instructor. I ended up coaching travel baseball, high school baseball and giving baseball lessons for about eight years before I found out about the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. And man, Brian, it was wild. I heard the commercial on the radio and it was just this fire in my stomach was like, that’s what you have to do.

I went there and the lady was like, have you ever done this before? I said no. She leaned in and said ‘I’m not just saying this, you’re a natural’. I didn’t know if she was just blowing smoke up my ass. I wasn’t sure. I just gravitated to it. I actually started going to school there. Then, I transferred to New York because I was dating a girl I went to high school with.

They told me ‘We don’t really do transfers at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting because it’s a trade school, but we’re going to let you transfer back to New York because you’re from there originally’. I was very fortunate.

I graduated at the top of my class there. It was really cool because I started six weeks after everybody else. It didn’t really work out with the girl, didn’t really work out with getting any big-time opportunities, and I missed Tampa. I don’t have any family down here, but I just love the area. I love the people.

So I was in New York in 2013 for a year, and in 2014 I came back and I got an internship at DAE in March of 2014. I did the internship for about two months. Then our PD, John Mamola, was like ‘Hey, man, we don’t have anything available at the time, but you did a really good job. If something opens up, we’ll let you know’. I was like ‘alright’, but wasn’t sure if that was it for me at DAE.

Literally, like two, three weeks later, I was on the baseball field practicing, hitting ground balls to one of my teams and Mamola called. ‘Hey, I got a part-time job on the weekends if you’re available’. I quickly responded, “Done!” I don’t even care what it is. I just want to get my foot in the door. Then I just built myself up. From part-time producer on the weekends to filling in, to field reporting for the Lightning, which I still do to this day. Just worked my way up; assistant producer, executive producer, and now hosting for two years or so.

It’s been a journey, man. I’m just so proud of the journey that I’ve taken; I’ve taken every step that you could take. I feel like it’s helped me as an APD, as a host, I would never ask anybody to do anything that I wouldn’t do. When I’m talking to my producer, I know what the job entails. It’s going to be heavily communicative. I’m just going to talk to them because I’ve been in that spot before. I think it really gives me a leg up knowing what it takes to get to the position where I’m at now.

BN: How many years were you a producer before you were a full-time host?

JR: I’d say a little over six years. I know people put in a lot more time than I have, as far as behind the scenes, before they ever get the opportunity to host. That’s something that I’ve always taken with me of never take this for granted because I know how precious it is to be able to get that time.

The first time I ever cracked a mic, I was only in the business for a short time. But being a little bit older, I didn’t get in when I was 18, the guy that I was working with didn’t get an opportunity to get on the mic for years. He kind of looked at me like ‘You haven’t really earned your stripes’. He wanted to do the show by himself.

But I’m one of those people, Brian, I don’t mind awkward conversations. I was just like ‘Listen, man, I know you think that I may not deserve this opportunity, but somebody obviously thinks that I’ve earned it. So let’s not worry about the decision-making because it’s out of our hands. Let’s make the best of it. Let’s kick ass on the show and let’s make us both look good’. He was just like ‘Yeah, you’re right, you’re totally right.’

I became close friends with that guy. He just appreciated me kind of tackling that situation head-on. Because it happens, man. You know, Brian, this industry is so crazy. It’s never a straight line. There’s ups and downs, it’s forward and back, you work for somebody that used to work for you. If you get so bogged down in the minutia and why things happen, it’s too much. Don’t focus so much on why things happen, focus on how you can make the best of that situation and put yourself in a position to be successful.

Do I ever feel like I deserve anything? No, but I feel like I’ve earned it to be in the spot that I’m in right now. I may not be the smartest person in the world, have the most experience, be the best looking, or have the best voice. But the one thing I can control is how hard I work and I will not be outworked. I don’t care who it is, if it’s a former athlete, or if it’s somebody that’s been doing this twice as long as I have, I’m just not going to be outworked because that’s the one thing I can control day in, day out.

BN: I like that. How does being a former producer benefit you on the air now? Does it change your perspective or the way you prepare, or has it had a positive effect on you as a host now?

JR: Oh, big time. As a producer, what I learned was how to craft the show in a way to make it successful, and to make it entertaining and informative. Knowing that you have to never leave a stone unturned. Whether that’s researching topics, whether that’s trying to get fantastic guests, or using audio to make the entire show sound better. It’s a never-ending learning process as a producer. You’re always trying to find ways to make the show better.

I feel that it’s such an advantage for me as a host now because you never feel like you do a perfect show. You’re always looking for ways to make it better. And you’re always understanding that it’s kind of an imperfect science. It’s good to be a perfectionist I think in that aspect of just knowing like ‘Hey man, if you didn’t like today’s show, alright, well, you’re going to get another crack at it tomorrow’ for the most part.

There’s always going to be fresh content, there’s always going to be a way. There’s opportunities for me to make my show better and to make my station better. From being a producer, maybe that’s just my work ethic, or maybe I learned that from my parents. That’s the one thing I love about radio is that it’s so fresh and it’s so new every day. Being a producer just really helped lay that foundation of working hard and just never realizing or never feeling that you’ve ever got it figured out.

BN: When you were doing the morning internship, were you still a maniac watching late West Coast games and taking a nap during the day?

JR: Yeah, I was taking some naps. To be honest with you, Brian, it’s different for me. I have bad migraines. I really need to sleep. If I don’t sleep or I don’t eat or I don’t drink water, I get terrible migraines. It’s hereditary. My sisters have it, too. I just straight up told my bosses one time, I can’t work mornings. If you have to go in a different direction, then I understand that and I’ll have to go get another job. I’ll go be a baseball coach. I understand that, but for me, it’s about quality of life.

My dad’s a custodian, my mom’s a lunch lady. They’ve been busting their ass to keep a roof over our heads, four kids, for all these years. Who knows if that’s necessarily what they wanted to do with their lives, but I look at them with so much appreciation. But also looking at it from the perspective of, if I’m going to do something with my life for my profession, it’s going to be something that I truly enjoy and truly love, and what time that is definitely factors into that entire thing.

When people will say ‘Oh man, you wouldn’t work morning drive in New York? In your hometown?’ I’d say no, I’m sorry, it’s not a good quality of life for me. You only live one life. If I’m feeling miserable, I have migraines four out of seven days, is that really worth working in the mornings? It’s not for me. It’s not a good quality of life. Those mornings were torture. I’m never going to do that again.

BN: As far as the teams you root for, I’d imagine you still root for a few New York teams. If that’s the case, what’s your approach while doing radio in Tampa? Do you let it be known, or do you just not dwell on it?

JR: I’m glad you asked that question. I have a very unique perspective on this whole thing because it’s one thing to like sports, I live and breathe sports. And my family does, too. My great-grandparents were Yankee fans. I didn’t just stumble upon them as a kid like ‘Oh, wow, Derek Jeter is on the team’.

No, I remember when the Yankees stunk in the early ‘90s. My grandfather would tell me about “Old Reliable” Tommy Henrich and what he remembers about the Yankees in the ‘40s. This is what I grew up on. I remember I won $60 in the Super Bowl pool when the Giants won the Super Bowl when I was five years old. This is in my blood.

To move down to Tampa, and especially growing up being a huge Yankee fan, I had to really take a hardline stance on what my approach was going to be for that, knowing that it may not be popular, nor is it going to be something that people will really understand unless I was very thorough in explaining it. This is how I do it. I look at it like this, you can never forget where you’re from, but you also have to be very respectful of where you’re at.

I’ve lived here since 2005. There’s a reason why I live in Tampa, I love it here. I think I’d be extremely hypocritical if I was a sports radio host and I didn’t support the local teams. The way I look at it, and the way I explain it to people is, I feel like I’m Archie and Olivia Manning. Peyton and Eli were their sons. New York and Tampa are my cities. They didn’t love Peyton more than Eli because he was born first. That’s how I look at it. That’s how I approach it.

Some people don’t get it, they say you should root for the home team. But you didn’t grow up the way I grew up. I can’t forget when I was nine years old, I grew into loving hockey when Mark Messier led the Rangers to win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. I ran around my neighborhood in my underwear. People thought I was being kidnapped and I ran away from home. It was crazy.

So for me, I can’t just forget that aspect of my life. That’s how I look at it. And that’s how I convey it. A lot of people have accepted it because I’m very genuine and very honest and open about what my past is and where I’m from, but also really heavily supporting the teams that are here in Tampa Bay. It’s not for everybody, and I don’t expect certain people to understand that, but that’s how it has to be for me because I spent 20 years in New York, and I was such a huge sports fan.

BN: When you think about your sports radio future over the next five years, what would make you happy and what do you want it to look like?

JR: Well, for me, I love Tampa. I love the city. I love the people. I really like working very closely with the Tampa Bay Lightning. They were with iHeart for a while but before this season they left us and went to a competitor. I’ve done a lot of stuff with them, like going to the draft in Vancouver a couple years ago and being a host on their postgame show.

Unfortunately, I can’t work as closely with them anymore because they’re no longer with us, but I still cover every home game and have a great relationship with the entire organization. I don’t take that for granted. It means so much to me. I just want to continue building my brand here in Tampa, just trying to be the best version of me on and off the air as I can and be a great role model.

I always think about it, like I did when I was a baseball coach, I always thought about every time I step onto the field, I’m always representing the name on the back of my jersey. I’m always looking at myself, even at 37 years old and going to be 38 in a couple of weeks, and a host of a midday show in a top-20 market, I still look at myself as Doug and Sue’s son. I always want to make them proud. My grandma’s 85, she listens to the show every day. Huge Mets fan. Thank God for the iHeartRadio app, listens every day.

I’m the oldest of four kids, so I always want to be a good example for my two sisters and my brother who are all in their 30s. They all have their own kids. It’s important to me to just kind of stay true to myself. I’ve never really thought about ever moving back to New York. I know obviously going to the No. 1 market, that’s like the dream for a lot of people. I would never say the door would be closed on that because it would be nice to go back to New York.

I do miss my friends and family that are all up there, but it would have to be a huge opportunity. WFAN, ESPN New York, Rangers, Yankees, Knicks, etc., something that would really make me question leaving such a wonderful place as Tampa. I always say I grew up in New York, but I became a man in Tampa. I built a life here.

The people here are just so incredibly awesome. The next five years, just hopefully doing good work, doing good by people, surrounding myself with great people, and more fantastic times on and off the air.

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Nobody Looks Good in 670 The Score vs John Schriffen Feud

Nothing makes you look like an insecure bully quite like not being able to take it when you’ve already dished it out.

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A photo of the 670 The Score and John Schriffen

John Schriffen had the unenviable task of replacing Jason Bennetti as the TV voice of the Chicago White Sox. And the reaction from 670 The Score hosts — namely Danny Parkins, Matt Spiegel, and their producer Shane Riordan — hasn’t helped matters.

To call Schriffen’s first six or seven weeks on the job a rough stretch would be an understatement. Not a baseball play-by-play savant, Schriffen has struggled to get into the groove of working an everyday broadcast and has made mistakes that aren’t unexpected.

However, the 670 The Score afternoon show of Parkins & Spiegel was quick to jump on Schriffen’s miscues. In some instances, the criticism was warranted. For instance, Schriffen called former White Sox owner Bill Veeck (pronounced VECK), Bill “Veek.” In a rather innocuous comment, Schriffen showcased his inexperience and lack of knowledge.

But the reaction from 670 The Score hosts quickly went from “criticism” to being borderline ridiculous. They continually ridiculed the relatively green but promising play-by-player, taking any chance they could to take potshots.

While I’m certain the hosts and producer found the quips amusing, they quickly became meanspirited. This is surprising, because Matt Spiegel is a baseball play-by-play voice in his own right, filling in at times on Chicago Cubs broadcasts. There’s an almost unspoken agreement between play-by-play broadcasters that you really don’t critique someone else’s broadcast without that person asking for your input. Everyone is different, and everyone has their own style, but what 670 The Score did went past criticism and turned into questioning the resume and reasoning for why Schriffen was hired in the first place.

Which isn’t their place. I imagine if I were to question why Parkins, Spiegel, or Riordan were hired for the roles they currently hold, they’d have a conniption. And rightfully so, because who the hell am I to say who does and doesn’t deserve this job or that job. But that’s the point.

John Schriffen, however, isn’t innocent in this ordeal. After analyst Gordon Beckham flubbed an ad read during a broadcast last week, instead of just letting sleeping dogs lie, he commented “If any of those radio losers clip it and try to make fun of you, nobody cares about them anyway.”

Before that moment, Schriffen had the upper hand in the feud, because at that point it wasn’t a feud. It was a one-sided, often times mean-spirited approach from 670 The Score. But he needlessly added fuel to the fire.

When somebody wants to pick a fight — and make no bones about it, a fight only benefitted Parkins, Spiegel, and Riordan — you have to avoid the fight, hold in your anger, and walk away/ignore it. And ignoring criticism, even when high-profile people are questioning your credentials, is just something that has to come with being the TV play-by-play voice of a Major League franchise.

Schriffen, no matter how difficult it is, has to take the high road when it comes to media criticism. Nothing, absolutely nothing, good comes from engaging. And frankly, those tearing him down were hoping to do just that, bring them down to their level, where they’d beat him with experience. Part of being a great sports radio host — and despite criticizing them in this story, I think Parkins & Spiegel is the best local show in America — is defending your opinions, and coming out on top no matter what. It’s an avenue Schriffen was never going to win.

I’ve been hesitant to use the word “bully” or “bullying” in this case because I think the word is thrown out all too often in 2024. It’s as if there is no middle ground between “everybody love everybody” and “bullying.” But, after Schriffen’s comments, Shane Riordan went into textbook bully mode. His “If you mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns” response, couldn’t be more bully-esque. Nothing makes you look like an insecure bully quite like not being able to take it when you’ve already dished it out.

Riordan was suspended in 2023 after claiming he’d “bone” the mom of a conservative Chicago talk radio host after speaking poorly of the Windy City. Instead of being somewhat remorseful over the situation, Riordan wore it like a badge of honor in a tweetstorm after Schriffen’s comments, claiming that his response to the White Sox TV voice would lead to another suspension. He later said Schriffen “just opened the f—ing floodgates” and had “no f—ing clue what he has done” by criticizing the station and the afternoon show.

After weeks of criticism, going as far as to say Schriffen “didn’t know baseball”, he called the folks making fun of him “losers”, and that’s the response? After making attacks that could absolutely be viewed as personal, to take being called a “loser” by someone you’ve denigrated for weeks so personally is bizarre. The idea that you’d even care about someone you’ve already un-invited from the cool kids club is truly asinine. Again, if you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

I’m sure they would deny this, claiming a role as an “equal opportunity offender”, but I can’t help but think that if 670 The Score was the radio flagship of the White Sox, or if Schriffen was the Cubs TV voice, this would have never happened. Boog Sciambi is often lambasted by Cubs fans for his work (and I’ll never understand why), but I can’t remember a time when a Score host took time to criticize his performance.

For what it’s worth, Parkins & Spiegel aren’t the only Chicago media members talking about Schriffen. Jonathan Hood, morning co-host at ESPN 1000 (the flagship of the White Sox) said he didn’t “understand the chip on the shoulder” of Schriffen, adding that “no one is out to get” the new White Sox TV voice. I think it’s pretty clear, however, to see why Schriffen would feel differently.

Nobody wins here. Everyone looks like a loser. Each side is at fault. And instead of being able to take the high road, both sides look like petulant children. It’s a pissing match that no one can win, and no one included in the beef has taken the slightest moment to be introspective, nor retrospective, and think “Maybe I should just be an adult — and a professional — and grow up.”

And while it’s great for content, when it gets personal, it becomes — at least in my opinion– no fun. If there were a clear-cut winner, or someone that deserved to be defended, that would be a different story and a different column. But in this case, it doesn’t feel like either side deserves to be praised for their conduct.

As observers, we often forget the people we see on TV or hear on the radio are real people, with real thoughts, real feelings, and real ambitions. It’s just unfortunate that the people who are often subjected to it the most lost sight of that in this situation, too.

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Netflix Knows Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones Bring Eyeballs

The team still draws a crowd.

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A photo of Jerry Jones and a logo for Netflix
Photo: Sports Illustrated

A 10-part series on Jerry Jones here in 2024 feels like roughly eight parts too many. But that is not the Netflix calculation.

No, the math is far simpler: Dallas Cowboys = eyeballs.

It’s been true for as long as most of us can remember – and that particular part about the Cowboys franchise isn’t hype. The team still draws a crowd.

The news in the recent announcement of the 10-parter on Jones, the Cowboys’ owner and general overlord, isn’t that it is being produced. That was known last year. But Netflix’s involvement answers the question about on which platform the project might land.

So get ready for plenty of Jerry Jones, but also Cowboys, Cowboys, Cowboys. And make note of the timeline, because this multi-parter is going to be almost exclusively rooted in a brief, glorious and now quite distant past.

You’ll need to put your 1990s goggles on to recognize the triumphs documented here. It was then that Jones, as a still-young owner by NFL standards, having bought the team in 1989, was the man of record as the Cowboys reeled off three Super Bowl victories in a four-season period.

That is a tremendous accomplishment in any era, and those Cowboys teams were a blast to watch: talented, cocky, demonstrative, controversial. They made news on and off the field, not all to the good. For those of us who wrote about the league in those years, they were a gold mine of source material. And, of course, winning in the NFL is the cologne that masks any little odor that might arise.

Those Dallas teams knew how to win games. How much of that actually had to do with Jerry Jones is a fair question, especially judging by what’s happened since, and I guess we’ll have to wait for Episode 5 or 7 or 9 to find out how this series answers that. But given the fact that the NFL itself insists that the series is “the definitive story of Jerry Jones and his unique journey in transforming the Dallas Cowboys franchise,” we’re already a good ways there.

“For several years, Forbes has ranked the Dallas Cowboys as not only the most valuable team in the NFL, but the most valuable sports team in the world,” the Netflix news release intones. “In 2023, the Cowboys were worth $9 billion and rising — the result of decades of exceptional athletic talent, coaching, and management that took shape during the ’90s, when the once-struggling team transformed into three-time Super Bowl champions.”

As Preston Jones put it in the Dallas Observer, “There are a lot of words doing a lot of heavy lifting in there.”

Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were certainly the architects of the roster that Johnson coached, but in that time – during those precise years of the Cowboys winning and winning – I can tell you that most of the NFL cognoscente understood Johnson as the driving force and creative genius.

Jones was well aware of that; it was the source of much of the well-publicized friction between those two. They were high-level, high-ego competitors even as they were part of the same multi-championship run – so much so, in fact, that by the time those Cowboys won ring No. 3 in the 1995 season, Jimmy Johnson had already been replaced, with Jones bringing in longtime friend Barry Switzer after functionally running Johnson off the job.

The decision to part with Johnson was more than three decades ago. Coincidentally, the Cowboys’ drought of winning a Super Bowl – or appearing in a Super Bowl, or appearing in an NFC conference championship, for that matter – is now roughly three decades old.

It’s silly to pre-judge the entire series, which includes interviews with many of the leading lights of those ‘90s successes. The list includes Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, and it also includes Johnson. That alone sounds worth watching.

Of course, you could cover that in an episode or two. But the producers of the series, and now Netflix as distributor, understand the greater value lies in promoting a Cowboys-branded product. Jerry Jones might not like hearing it (or he might not care), but it is a brand whose popularity far, far predates his appearance on the scene.

Brands equal viewers. You watch network baseball, you’re going to get a lot of Yankees and Dodgers. The NBA? Prepare for Celtics, Knicks, Lakers. These are the ratings anchors of large-scale broadcast deals, and in the NFL, the Cowboys are firmly part of the mix.

They may be 5-13 in the playoffs since their last Super Bowl victory back in the ‘90s, but the Dallas Cowboys draw. A 10-part series about Jerry Jones is really just another way of saying, ‘Here’s some more Cowboys material.’ It’ll be consumed.

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Allie LaForce Honored to Have the Best Seat in the House for TNT Sports

“I’m not in the business to break news or to become famous or gain followers – I’m here to cover live sports.”

Derek Futterman

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Allie LaForce
Courtesy: Warner Bros. Discovery

During an NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game on TBS, the broadcast read a promo for upcoming coverage of The Masters on CBS Sports and Paramount+. Rather than keeping the camera on the court though, they panned to sideline reporter Allie LaForce, who was sitting courtside unaware of what was going on and suddenly saw herself on the broadcast monitor. Once she realized that her green jacket tied into the promo, she stood up and portrayed a golf swing for the camera, adding to the overall programmatic value of the promotional read.

For LaForce, it served as an example of reacting to spontaneity and showcasing personality without it coming across as forced or contrived. As a multifaceted reporter in a variety of different roles throughout her sports media career, she has adapted to changing times and handled the dynamic game atmosphere with ingenuity and confidence.

While LaForce is the lead sideline reporter for the NBA on TNT and set to cover the Western Conference Finals, she recently completed another run within March Madness. Assimilating into the grind of this role since joining then-named Turner Sports in 2018, she needed to pace herself and ensure she was aptly prepared. Eight practices in one day followed by a four-game First Four slate in Dayton, Ohio and subsequent drive to the first region is a taxing assignment but one she has mastered through her professionalism and college basketball experience at Ohio University. Although her team fell just short of a tournament berth, the exhilaration and adrenaline therein continues to endure, nonetheless.

“I could sit and watch those college kids get one last shot at the tournament all day long, so it gave me energy more than me having to find the energy,” LaForce said. “It gave me so much natural energy.”

Once her stretch of March Madness games ended, LaForce immediately went back on the road to cover the NBA, commuting to various cities every week and contributing within the broadcasts through live reports, interviews and observation. In her reporting role, LaForce scrupulously watches the action and takes in the environment in an effort to identify and convey key storylines to the viewing audience. Executing the job requires synergy and stamina, perseverance and poise while respecting the game and understanding the inherent commitment to fair and accurate reporting disseminated to viewers.

“I think portraying to the audience the closest reality of being in a moment live and recognizing that it’s an honor and a privilege to be sitting courtside,” LaForce said. “How can we portray that same energy, newsworthiness and accuracy to the viewers through television that I get to witness in person?”

The NBA Playoffs have been accompanied by the backdrop of ongoing media rights negotiations as the league looks to solidify its partners for the 2025-26 season and beyond. The Walt Disney Company and Amazon Prime Video have both reportedly reached the framework of a deal with the league, presumably leaving one remaining rights package being pursued by both Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery. Within the latter, TNT Sports, formerly known as Turner Sports, has been broadcasting NBA games since the 1984-85 season and hopes to extend its multiplatform relationship through a deal that makes sense for all parties involved.

“I think there is a direct correlation and association with TNT and our personalities,” LaForce explained, “and how much fun we have while also calling the moment and the game in a newsworthy fashion that the viewers are comfortable with and look forward to that gets to take their mind off of their everyday grind and just live in a moment of freedom and fun and excitement.”

As a national reporter, LaForce is assigned to a variety of games throughout the season containing different teams, thus requiring a broad knowledge of the league. With the strenuous schedule plus trying to raise a family and run a growing charitable endeavor, it can be difficult to balance everything effectively.

When LaForce was growing up, she watched her mother run a modeling agency in Atlanta, Ga. and fly back home to Ohio every week to spend time with family. Her mother happened to be a previous winner of the Miss Ohio pageant, something she had not told her daughter until she received a letter to participate in the Miss Ohio Teen USA pageant. LaForce initially did not want to compete, but her two victories ended up paying dividends through broadening her worldview and gaining creative inspiration.

“I am on a plane every two days, and I’m trying to be a great wife and a great mom and work full time and present myself in a confident way that people that are viewing me believe in me, and storytell in a way that’s honest and compassionate,” LaForce said. “I think when I was 15 years old, I was trying to take high school classes, play three high school sports, travel the country and present myself and make other young men and women believe in me in a genuine manner.”

While LaForce was in college playing on the basketball team as a walk-on member, she remembers realizing that she would need to eventually give up the sport. Her mother had previously commented on her resonant baritone voice and recommended that she be a broadcaster. LaForce was granted an opportunity to work as an analyst on the radio for her team and took part in a variety of other ventures at the school with WOUB Public Media and volunteering for the Mid-American Conference.

LaForce perceived herself as being restricted because of her role as a sideline reporter, something that changed upon her joining CBS Sports as lead sideline reporter for its broadcasts of SEC football. The endeavor marked the first time she recognized the strategy behind when and how to deliver a live game report, something taught to her by producer Craig Silver.

“There’s a sense of urgency to this game that the audience needs to feel because we’re feeling it here on the field, right?,” LaForce said. “The roar and the clock and the band and the pageantry of the game. It has to be short because there’s a pace and a momentum and a newsworthiness to this game that’s warranted, and your reporting needs to match that.”

Through a cognizance and acceptance of her role as an element of a larger component, LaForce began to find her niche in reporting. On top of that, her background as an athlete allowed her to easily decipher plays, mannerisms and proclivities. The challenge exists in delivering observations and updates precisely and at the correct time. In covering NBA games at the national level since 2018, LaForce has worked to hone her craft and embrace the setting without being buried in patterns of overthinking and inflexibility.

“I used to over plan and take a trillion notes throughout the course of the game, and now I just let myself live in the game,” LaForce said. “And when we get down to the last minute or two, I start jotting down notes about, ‘This guy whispered something to this guy here,’ or, ‘During this free throw, I noticed this,’ or, ‘During a timeout, I felt tension.’”

Although LaForce has refined her in-game process, she still tries to prepare before each contest. Part of that comes in re-reading conversation transcripts with the top eight players on every team and grasping the necessary context. Moreover, she reviews lineups, rotations and other facets of the game she would want to know as a basketball fan.

“I like to take my job seriously but not too seriously,” LaForce said. “I want the viewer to think that I’m hanging out with them watching sports, but also I want to be professional enough to be able to distinguish between just having fun and actually being a reporter.”

Over the course of a typical game, LaForce is doing more than appearing on camera and conveying the latest information. In part because of her vantage point and expertise, she is consistently communicating with those in the broadcast truck and helping to guide the composition of the broadcast. LaForce takes part in production meetings every morning and ultimately has an implicit yet tangible presence on the end product throughout the show.

When LaForce conducts interviews, she tries to begin with a sense of levity to foster a sense of comfort and amicability. Commencing a casual dialogue before these conversations also helps break down a barrier that can sometimes exist because of the nature of the schedule. This is not always possible though, as was evidenced when LaForce was forsaken by the Oklahoma City Thunder after a playoff win to speak with Bally Sports Oklahoma.

“You have to realize that as the national broadcaster, you come in out of nowhere and get the first interview and are asking questions that they perhaps have been being asked for the last week to 10 days from their local broadcast crews,” LaForce said. “They’re there daily and really know them, so you have to remember that the people interviewing them daily understand their career and their team in the moment.”

Working as a reporter requires LaForce to have relationships around the league that are built on trust and respect. No matter the circumstance, she adheres to rules of attribution and does not divulge details that have been classified as being off the record. At the same time, if she develops friendships with team or league entities, she expects them to understand that she needs to do her job professionally and may not always be able to portray them in an auspicious light.

“I’m not in the business to break news or to become famous or gain followers – I’m here to cover live sports,” LaForce said. “And then if there’s something that they don’t say is off the record, but I feel should be, I will figure out a way to tell that story without using that piece of information but use that information to shape the way in which I tell the story.”

LaForce cherishes the balance of professional and personal ventures in her life and aspires to continue covering marquee events, such as the National Championship, Super Bowl and Olympics. Having the chance to experience a wide array of moments in sports is something she knows would be a dream come true, but she is focused on the present moment in closing out the season strong for the NBA on TNT. After all, an essential value proposition of the broadcast is predicated on disseminating insights and developments in real time, part of which is actualized by the work of LaForce and her unrelenting commitment to the grind.

“Be prepared in the beginning to work for free, and always surround yourself [with] people that are helping you become a better version of yourself as a professional and as an individual, even if they tell you things you don’t want to hear,” LaForce said. “But avoid the people that are trying to have influence on you because it makes them feel important or powerful.”

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