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Brandon Tierney Was Born for this Moment

“We’re both going to come out firing; that’s just our nature. We’re shooters – we like to shoot – and the key for us is to learn when it’s time to pass.”

Derek Futterman

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Brandon Tierney
Courtesy: Jason Mendez, Getty Images

Brandon Tierney nearly worked in Philadelphia after a stint hosting in New York City. After nine years hosting in his home market at what was then ESPN New York 1050 AM, Tierney decided it was time to move on. Growing up in the shadow of the skyscrapers, Tierney was drawn to the sound of WFAN, hence why he was alarmed when he perceived an implicit sense of suppression during his time with the “Worldwide Leader.”

After receiving another job offer to host afternoons on the new 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, Tierney suddenly had a decision to make. It took him years of hard work and persistence to get to this position in the industry. His tenacity can be, in a way, traced back down the Jersey Turnpike.

One scene from the 1982 film Rocky III presents Rocky Balboa in a restroom looking into a mirror to determine if he would be able to defeat Clubber Lang in a decisive rematch. While he is not boxing, Tierney, before select programs, engages in a similar practice. He hopes to see an image possessed by the drive and hunger necessary to succeed in an extremely competitive industry.

Now, as he embarks on a new chapter of his career, hosting middays with Sal Licata on WFAN in New York City, how Tierney sees that reflection is significant. On a daily basis, he hopes to see remnants of how he felt in formative days in a bevy of local markets trying to find a niche and an audience to accept his voice.

“I can honestly say that I see that image,” Tierney said. “Not every show is great; not every moment’s great, but the drive to be great is actually stronger.”

Tierney was infatuated with the sound of WFAN from the time the station took the air in July 1987. Two years later, Mike and the Mad Dog launched in afternoons and captured scores of attention from sports fans and media consumers. The show became a template for successful sports talk radio – presenting opinions and engaging in informative and entertaining banter. Tierney was doing this with friends in the streets as a young sports fan, often comparing first basemen Don Mattingly and Keith Hernandez. Yet before he fully committed to radio, Tierney pursued a professional baseball career and played through college.

At Marist College, the task of balancing his journalism studies with a 50-game regular season schedule was a considerable challenge. By the time he exited college, Tierney had crafted a stellar collegiate baseball career, albeit marred by injuries, but had no practical experience in media. The fact that he is hosting sports talk radio at WFAN may seem surreal to the average aspiring professional, but for Tierney, it is the effect of shrewd decision-making and a will to go the extra mile to ascend upwards in the industry.

When Tierney caught wind of a job fair taking place at a New Jersey Nets game, he made it a point to attend. Plenty of businesses were there, but the WFAN table stood out. In fact, it had the longest line at the entire event. 

When Tierney finally reached the table, he spoke to Brian Bruder, the head of the promotions department, and presented his exuberant persona. Unfortunately for Tierney, the station did not offer post-graduate internships. After Tierney begged for a way through the door, Bruder asked for his number and said he would be in touch. 

The very next day, Tierney was invited to come to the WFAN studios in Astoria, Queens to meet the station’s promotions and managerial staff – a chance to pursue his dream.

Although he had no desire to work in promotions, Tierney happily took a job in the department and aimed to stand out. When he had some free time, he and another promotions department intern would enter an auxiliary studio and host their very own mock radio show. 

Nearly three decades later, Tierney was afforded just that, but there were many stops along the way that crafted his hosting style. Tierney’s first job in professional radio came in Allentown, PA where he made $16,000 a year hosting morning drive programming and working as the promotions director. When local football was being played, he would broadcast the games for an extra $50. 

“I was immersed it in it and I was getting some reps and I was figuring out, ‘How do I transfer my real personality and present it on the air in an effective manner?,’” Tierney said. “And obviously, there’s a lot of bumps and bruises along the way.”

Nine months later, the station flipped its format to salsa music, and suddenly, Tierney was out of a job. A similar occurrence happened in Las Vegas with the now-defunct national network, Sports Fan Radio Network. Tierney had the chance to work alongside superstars in the business, such as Jim Rome, and figured out how to compile an effective show. A year-and-a-half later, the station signed off the air for good, but it granted him the tools necessary to host a national show.

Before Tierney worked with Tiki Barber on WFAN, the duo hosted a simulcast national program on CBS Sports Radio. CBS Sports Radio operates out of the same building as WFAN, and by this point, Tierney’s dream destination was well within his proximity both literally and figuratively. After all, he had returned from a stint with 95.7 The Game in San Francisco where he had to adjust to a new marketplace, but was now returning to his familiar locale on a national platform. Through the program’s nearly decade-long run on CBS Sports Radio, the hosts established chemistry with one another on the air and cultivated their own, compelling sound. Tierney, undoubtedly, had to adjust his hosting style, but he also assisted Barber in assimilating into sports media after a contentious ending to his playing career.

“I think it took him time to learn what’s required in this medium to be effective, and that is to deliver polarizing opinions; you just have to do it,” Tierney said. “I don’t know that it came naturally for him at that point. Once it became more instinctual, he just took off. He started to fly higher, and then simultaneously we started to fly higher.”

For Tierney, he believes the stint hosting national radio with Barber helped him improve as a partner more so than as a host. During his early years in the industry Tierney was focused on his own development. 

At ESPN New York 1050 AM, he was originally Stephen A. Smith’s sports update anchor, but found a way to weave into the show. It led Smith to add him as a co-host to help enhance his inherent deficiencies, one of which was coherently discussing baseball. Now for the first time in his career, it was on him to nurture his co-host.

“When you’re just chasing and you’re just so driven to go up the ladder, I think sometimes you can get in your [own] way and I did that sometimes,” Tierney expressed. “I think for myself, it was the right person and it was the perfect time for him to grow and for me to grow.”

When Audacy decided to move Marc Malusis and Maggie Gray out of middays and back onto CBS Sports Radio, the coveted midday slot on WFAN suddenly became vacant. Upon discovering that he and Barber were going to be filling the void, Tierney emphasized to his partner the honor it is to move to the studios next door.

“I said, ‘What we’re about to do together; the energy that you’re going to get from one show is going to match what you get in a week or a month on the national scene,’” Tierney remembers telling Barber. “It was an injection of, I wouldn’t say combustibility, but an injection of all the things that pulled me into radio and communication in the first place – and that is being kept on your toes by the most informed, invested listeners and fans in the world – and that’s New York fans.”

Had Tierney never been able to reach WFAN in his broadcast career, he would have unquestionably carried a sense of falling short and not feeling completely fulfilled.

“We were pumped [and] we were absolutely all in,” Tierney said. “You just hope that if you’re true to yourself and you’re true to your craft and you don’t change, that the audience is going to reward you in listenership and loyalty, and they absolutely did.”

Two-and-a-half years later, the only thing that is not changing in middays is Tierney’s steadfast commitment to WFAN and New York sports.

“While it’s me and Sal, the elements of Tiki and Tierney are gone,” Tierney stated. “The moment that our show ends, the show is buried except for the memories and now everything starts new. That is really, really exciting.”

Listeners of WFAN will gain a sense of nostalgia and be transported back to the days of Mike and the Mad Dog with Tierney and Licata. Both men know the program will have a surfeit of fireworks, but also operate with largesse of calculated restraint. There will unquestionably be an adjustment period though – with Licata hosting alongside a partner after doing overnights solo and Tierney adjusting to a new voice after working with Barber for 12 years.

“You’ve got to be in the same room with somebody to get a sense for what makes them tick; what their strengths are [and] what their weaknesses are,” Tierney said. “We’re both going to come out firing; that’s just our nature. We’re shooters – we like to shoot – and the key for us is to learn when it’s time to pass. When we pass – to let that other guy finish with a 360° jam and get out of the way.”

Similarly to Tierney, Licata grew up listening to WFAN in New York City and frequently called into Adam Schein’s overnight program. He interned at the station in the early 2000s and loves New York teams. The stark contrast comes in the baseball teams they cheer on – Licata is a fan of the Mets while Tierney is a fan of the Yankees – and it will be a disparity long overdue for a station in the self-professed sports capital of the world.

“I don’t believe that there’s ever been such a fanatical Mets fan and a fanatical Yankees fan paired together – ever – in the history of WFAN,” Tierney said. “Right there, that is a unique starting point that is going to present [an] amazing opportunity…Right away, you have a point of inflection where we’re both carrying the card for a fanbase that’s never been carried like this before, at least potentially in theory.”

When Craig Carton was considering his departure from WFAN, program director Spike Eskin and Audacy New York market manager Chris Oliviero had plenty of options to consider for the afternoon slot. Carton had been working at WFAN without a contract for nine months as he weighed the feasibility of working on his national morning television program, The Carton Show, on FOX Sports 1 and then hosting Carton and Roberts in the afternoons. Carton reportedly was offered an increase in pay if he only appeared on FOX Sports 1, but his passion for radio and WFAN made taking a more lucrative offer profoundly challenging.

As he announced his departure from the station last month, listeners heard true gratitude combined with sadness. Carton now has more time to spend with his family and correct his previous wrongs – a means through his ongoing Audacy podcast titled Hello, My Name is Craig – but he has left the medium where he continuously accrued success. Even though Tierney did not know Carton particularly well, he texted a message of support amid the difficult circumstances leading to Carton’s arrest and eventual imprisonment. Then when Carton came back to the radio station three years later, Tierney restarted the conversation.

“He came back a different person – same electric talent, but different,” Tierney said. “I sent him another text and I said, ‘FAN’s better with you back,’ and I meant it. The key is for all of us to make sure we’re the same without Craig Carton. Let’s not pretend that we didn’t just lose a Hall of Famer.”

Tierney’s hosting style is derived from an irrefutable passion for the medium, institution and subject matter at hand. Despite hosting four hours a day on the radio being considered a job, it is, in essence, Tierney’s livelihood. The excitement jolts him to the studio each morning to commence a new journey filled with the elements of subliminal poetry and harmonious discordance.

“Certain shows, even ones that are highly successful, some shows sound as if that person wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world at that moment, and that applies to me – still,” Tierney said. “All these years later, [from] the moment I open up the mic, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

In its final ratings book, the duo of Tierney and Barber finished fourth in the New York designated market area with a 5.7 share among men 25 to 54. The traditional ratings measured by Nielsen Media Research have long served as earmarks of success, but for Tierney, a show is successful if it captivates his interest and does not make him want to stop listening after 30 seconds.

The human attention span continues to dwindle, and the content ecosystem is more vast than ever before. It is incumbent on media personalities to give people reasons to consume their content – and radio is in competition with every other medium. It is part of the reason why having the show simulcast is a top priority for Tierney upon its impending launch.

“I really think that we’re going to tap into an emotional space for the New York sports radio consumer and sports content consumer that has not been tapped into in a long time,” Tierney said. “Now we’ve got to fulfill that, but the potential when you blend our attributes; that excites me. That excites me in a way that I haven’t been excited in a long time.”

Few reach this point in a broadcast career, especially in the No. 1 media market in the country. Tierney and Licata both took unconventional paths to cement themselves in broadcasting and committing to the grind. Growing up listening to WFAN, working at the station was a necessity in order to build his ideal broadcast career – which has also previously included work on ESPN’s investigative program, Outside the Lines, and as a panelist on SportsNet New York (SNY) programming. Colossal sacrifice, relationship-building and an unyielding work ethic made the inexorable rise of Tierney nearly impossible to stop. He is one-half of a new duo prepared to give New York sports radio a blast of the past with a modern twist.

“If you want to be a doctor – get the requisite grades, go to medical school – there’s a clearly-defined path,” Tierney explained. “If you want to be a lawyer – get the requisite grades, go to law school; there’s a clearly-defined path, [but] if you want to be on the radio, much like being an actor, good luck. It’s got to start with that unflinching level of being possessed to get there; otherwise you’re probably not going to.”

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Local Radio Advertisers Can Become Experts with Hosted Shows and Interviews

Overall, local radio interviews and talk shows can be a strategic and effective way for a local expert to enhance their business, build their reputation, and connect with the community.

Jeff Caves

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Photo of people talking on the radio

When looking for that extra edge for local radio advertisers, packaging radio commercials with an “expert” client-hosted talk show or interviews on your local shows or newscasts can be a game-changer. This strategy can build long-term business relationships with suitable clients, such as lawyers, business accountants, agents, psychologists, or sports handicappers. These professionals can provide valuable editorial contributions to sports and news stations. Of course, the expert must have good communication skills, be comfortable speaking their mind, and be ready to be the face of the business.

The radio commercials can tout the expertise the person has and give a call to action for listeners to move on. You can often find these experts on social media writing blogs or doing a series of vignettes about their business. For these types of clients, engaging in local radio news interviews or hosting a 1-2 hour talk show can enjoy several advantages:

Visibility and Brand Recognition

Visibility and Brand Recognition: Regular appearances on local radio help the expert become a well-known figure in the community. This visibility can lead to increased recognition and brand awareness and is a much faster track than just blogging on social media. Attorney Bill Handel and his ” Handel on the Law” show have created a directory business for Handel.

Public Trust and Credibility

By sharing their expertise and providing timely insights, the expert can build trust and establish credibility with the audience. Being perceived as an expert can enhance any client’s reputation and create top-of-mind awareness needed to lead business categories.

Client Acquisition

Listeners impressed by the expert’s knowledge and demeanor may seek their services. This exposure can lead to new clients who might not have been reached through other forms of advertising and give credibility to the expert who uses social media.

Community Engagement

Engaging with the local community through radio shows helps experts connect with potential clients more personally. This can foster a sense of community and loyalty. Question and answer segments can lead to deeper connections.

Educational Outreach

The expert can educate the audience on various issues, which can empower the audience. An informed audience is more likely to recognize when they need the expert’s assistance and whom to contact.

Stand Out in a Crowd

Stand out in a crowd: Being active on local radio can set the expert apart from competitors who may not use local radio. Often, the local shows or interview segments are exclusive to the expert.

Immediate Audience Feedback

Interacting with the audience through call-ins or live questions provides immediate feedback and allows the expert to address common concerns directly in real-time. The expert can be of service NOW.

Professional Development

Regularly discussing current topics can keep the expert sharp on trends and issues, contributing to their ongoing professional development.

Networking

Local radio stations often have a vast network of listeners and other professionals. This can open doors to new professional relationships and opportunities for collaboration. The station also provides a loyal audience who typically don’t follow the expert on social media. But they may start to after hearing the expert.

Overall, local radio interviews and talk shows can be a strategic and effective way for a local expert to enhance their business, build their reputation, and connect with the community.

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‘We Need To Talk’ is Insightful, Intelligent Conversation on CBS Sports Network

The show is not going to be a ratings giant like ESPN’s First Take or offer the decibel level of commentary on FS1’s First Things First, but it is a necessary and unique slice of sports television.

John Molori

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A photo of the women who host We Need to Talk on CBS Sports Network
Photo Courtesy: CBS Sports Network

CBS Sports Network’s ‘We Need To Talk‘ features a rotating roundtable of female sportscasters offering their views on a variety of topics in sports. The premise is important. Female voices in sports need to be heard. They bring perspective, weighty conversation, and thoughtfulness to each discussion.

Over the past few years, women have made major strides in being heard and seen in sports media whether it is hosting, commentary, reporting or play-by-play. This is a good trend, but We Need To Talk is about more than just female talking heads. It’s about insight, depth, and needed attention to athletes and sports that do not bask in the mainstream limelight.

This particular episode featured host AJ Ross joined by Summer Sanders, Katrina Adams, and Renee Montgomery. It was an eclectic and accomplished group with Ross, an experienced and versatile reporter, Sanders, the erstwhile U.S. Swimming star and a broadcast veteran, Montgomery, the former WNBA star, activist, and co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, and Adams, former tennis player, CEO of the United States Tennis Association, and chair of the US Open.

Montgomery got the conversation going looking back on the Celtics winning the NBA Championship. She also made a telling comparison between the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, renewed in the 1980s with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and compared it to the current WNBA rivalry between the Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky with Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese. It’s a valid comparison, and Montgomery brought it to life effectively.

The WNBA was up next with Montgomery talking about Cameron Brink, the LA Sparks’ rookie who is making a splash not only on the court, but on the social media and fashion scenes as well.

It should be noted that this episode of We Need To Talk was taped before Brink suffered a season ending torn ACL, but Montgomery’s point was clear. It is not only important to be a great player. Today’s athletes also need to use multimedia platforms to raise their profiles.

Adams segued into a discussion on Wimbledon and No. 2 ranked Coco Gauff. It was good to hear some tennis talk on the airwaves, but this is a hallmark of We Need To Talk. The show makes it a point to move beyond the front-page stories and hit angles and areas that do not get much coverage.

These ladies are not afraid to get in each other’s grills as well. Sanders actually interrupted Adams to start a discussion about the upcoming Paris Olympics, but Adams would not relent and moved forward to an analysis of 2023 Wimbledon men’s singles winner Carlos Alcaraz.

The variety of sports continued with Ross starting a discussion about US track star Sha’Carri Richardson. I’ve been a fan of Ross for a long time. She does an expert job of mixing in her own commentary, while making sure all of the panelists on We Need To Talk get their due time. She’s also multitalented, seamlessly moving from reporter to host to debater.

We Need To Talk takes its roots in diversity with an all-female cast, but there is a deeper variety within the makeup of the cast. Sanders is a longtime veteran of sports, sports broadcasting, and entertainment. Ross is in the prime of her journalistic career. Adams brings perspective as an athlete, administrator, and leader, and Montgomery offers a fresh and contemporary style with her commentary.

Block 2 of the show featured Montgomery and Ross interviewing Naomi Girma of the San Diego Wave women’s professional soccer team. Girma was named 2023 US Soccer Women’s Player of the Year, the first defender to ever win that award. This is what We Need To Talk offers those who watch the show. It is almost like a smaller scale, studio version of the classic Wide World of Sports on ABC, “spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport.”

The interview was managed well with Ross asking meaningful questions and Montgomery enthusiastically following up with her thoughts and input. This edition of the program also featured a wonderfully produced feature story on USC basketball player Aaliyah Gayles.

The talented Trojan hoopster was on the fast track to basketball stardom when, in April 2022, she was shot at a house party in Las Vegas. Gayles required two emergency surgeries to save her life.

The pace, video, and sound bites in the package were equal parts frightening, sobering, and uplifting. Gayles literally had to learn how to walk again as the feature focused on her rehabilitation and eventual return to the USC lineup.

Coming back from a break, the panel engaged in a great discussion on the talent link between collegiate and US Olympic athletes. A graphic showed that 75% of Team USA athletes and 82% of United States medalists played an NCAA sport.

As the discussion expanded, Montgomery talked about the fact that in order to enter the WNBA, players have to complete four years of college or be of the age of someone who has completed four years of college. I actually did not know that. We Need To Talk passes my personal litmus test for important sports television, namely, it tells me something I don’t already know.

Bringing still another sport and recognizable female athlete into the fold, Dara Torres joined the show next for an interview. The 12-time Olympic swimming medalist talked about her new role as head coach of the Boston College men’s and women’s swim and dive teams. Sanders asked a solid question about how, as a world-class athlete, Torres will manage her expectations of the BC athletes.

 As sports continues to meld with social issues, so too does the subject matter on We Need To Talk. Ross introduced a segment on the National Gay Flag Football League. Again, kudos go to the show’s production team for a slick and enlightening feature story. Praise should also go to the program itself for expanding the boundaries of sports and opening up a whole new world of knowledge for viewers.

Following the feature story, Montgomery and Adams made a point that sports unite people and bring diverse groups and personalities together as one. Montgomery is a fast-developing on-air talent. Her wit, energy, and knowledge go far beyond the basketball court making her a rising star in sports media.

The program continued to bring sports and life together by connecting the June celebrations of Pride Month and Father’s Day with an emotional poem written by renowned DJ Zeke Thomas, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas. This was part of the We Need to Listen segment of the program.

Let’s keep it real. We Need To Talk is not going to be a ratings giant like ESPN’s First Take or offer the decibel level of commentary on FS1’s First Things First, but it is a necessary and unique slice of sports television.

The show consistently provides uncommon subject matter with an inimitable approach and tenor. Check it out when you get a chance and bring an open mind and a joy of sports. They need to talk, and we all need to hear them talk.

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Jen Lada Has Built a Multiplatform Presence at ESPN

“I always say my job is to make the viewer care about somebody and root for somebody that they might ordinarily not root for or care about.”

Derek Futterman

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Jen Lada
Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

When Jen Lada appeared on Around the Horn earlier in the month, she became the 58th panelist to be part of the program since its launch in 2002. Facing off against three other panelists from around the country, she garnered a victory in her on-air debut and elicited plaudits from her colleagues. Throughout the program, Lada demonstrated her deft sports knowledge and nuanced opinions that have crafted her into a venerated, skilled reporter at the network.

Although she had appeared on many ESPN programs previously, Around the Horn represented a show to which she wanted to contribute for many years. In fact, she has memories of watching the show just out of Marquette University and remarking about its brilliance and ingenuity.

Utilizing reporters with comprehensive knowledge of various sports who have chronicled several events, the show provides them an opportunity to give their opinions on issues and engage in debate with their contemporaries. Lada earned a spot on the show by being persistent, continuing to express her proficiency in commentary and sports discussion. The journey to arrive at this stage of her career, through which she has realized high-level assignments and a presence both at the local and national level, required adaptability and fortitude, and she continues to never take opportunities for granted.

“It’s great that I won, but it just sets the bar really high for the next time I go out there, which is not something I’m afraid of,” Lada said. “I love a challenge, and I love proving to myself that I can keep trying new things and doing new things well, and I hope that if people see me as some sort of example in the industry, that that’s what they walk away with.”

The approach adopted by Lada within her multifarious career ventures is to develop and maintain versatility, always innovating within her approach to content. As she looks to build off her initial victory on Around the Horn, she aims to be more compendious in her discourse and applying a more succinct approach. Making the adjustment in order to deliver compelling, distinctive points quickly differs from her other work, but it is all ultimately centered on sports.

While studying at Marquette University, she observed her classmates having a conversation about the men’s basketball team and what had happened in a recent game. Lada, who at the time was dating a player on the team and cheerleading at games, began to give her thoughts and was subsequently asked if she had ever considered sportscasting.

“I didn’t know that women could be sportscasters,” Lada said. “It wasn’t on my radar as a real career that women held because there were so few of them at the time doing it, and so once I realized that that was something I could do, then I kind of turned all my attention to, ‘Well, how do I make this happen?’”

As Lada began to complete internships and navigate through the media industry, she learned to develop a thick skin and refined her conduct. Out of school, she had completed a year of a non-paid sports internship and was waitressing on the side to pay the bills. The first interview she took for a job at a television station in a top-10 market ended with her being sexually harassed. It was a jarring experience that disappointed Lada because of her propensity to give people the benefit of the doubt, and it also forced her to evaluate her own disposition.

“I think it’s only natural that you wonder how you contributed to the circumstance or what you could have done differently to maybe not put yourself in that space,” Lada said, “but I was very lucky that when I told my family about what had occurred, they very quickly knocked any notion of that out of my head.”

In navigating the industry with good intentions, Lada recognized that it is not her fault if other people fail at treating others professionally and create a misogynistic work environment. Receiving the lesson early in her career has made her more aware of the people to avoid, and she remains wary of advice given to women in the industry that they should just be nice. Lada was recently on a panel where someone advised a broadcast class that being nice would result in things working out for them in the future.

“I felt myself cringing internally because I don’t think that that is a luxury women are afforded,” Lada said. “I don’t think – maybe now is different, but when I was coming up, and I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, there were people who preyed on niceness. And so the way that I would tweak that is to be professional; to carry yourself in a professional manner and recognize that sometimes being ‘traditionally nice’ puts a target on your back to be mistreated, and the best thing you can do is alert those people who would see you as a target that you’re not going to fall victim to that or you refuse to be victim to that.”

Lada joined ESPN in 2015 where she was hired to contribute to Colin Cowherd’s radio program. When Cowherd left the network and joined FOX Sports on a full-time basis, she started co-hosting a new, national program alongside Jorge Sedano. The show, however, had an evanescent run and left her feeling as if she had failed.

It took her a full year to recognize that she had been involved in a series of circumstances and decided to enact the necessary change, asking producers for advice and attending seminars. One of these was an interviewing course hosted by journalist John Sawatsky where he synthesized the art of the craft. Akin to when she was in college, she overheard in passing that the network needed more women in the features space.

“I was fortunate enough to have done a lot of features during my time in Milwaukee because we had a 9 p.m. newscast that required a local sports feature every night of the week, so between our three-person department, we had to fill that timeslot,” Lada said. “I had done a lot of lengthy sports features in Milwaukee [and] had a good foundation of what that job required.”

The meeting led to Lada doing features on an interim basis at the network and later granted her a spot on College GameDay, where she works as its features reporter. Lada presents stories every week to the audience that go beyond the gameplay and divulge a bigger picture.

“I always say my job is to make the viewer care about somebody and root for somebody that they might ordinarily not root for or care about,” Lada said. “One of the things that has occurred to me over the last few years is just what a skill is required to do that job well because not only are you preparing questions to ensure that you have all of the details and information, you’re also gathering perspective on what they’ve been through – the adversity and the situation that has led them to where they are now.”

Lada recently found herself in a high school classroom at 8 a.m. sitting with other students taking the ACT standardized test. She had to complete the exam as punishment for finishing last in fantasy football at ESPN Milwaukee this past season. After four hours, Lada emerged from the school and revealed her score this past week on the Jen, Gabe, and Chewy morning show. Hosting the local program alongside Gabe Neitzel and Mark Chmura, she has established chemistry over almost four years in the three-person format discussing hyperlocal topics.

“I try to be conversational,” Lada said. “We don’t lean on stats – obviously, we want to be accurate, and we want to be, again, fair to the subjects we’re talking about, but we try to also just be friends who are talking about what’s going on on any given day on the Milwaukee [and] Wisconsin sports scene.”

In balancing a variety of different roles, Lada has tried to master everything that she is doing, refraining from being content with her abilities. Although working in local radio regularly has been a newer role for her, she has grown into the job and has co-hosts who understand the subject matter and allow her to utilize her strengths.

“I just want to keep learning,” Lada said. “I’m not satisfied with what I’ve done, [and] I’m not complacent about the skills I have. I’m always interested in adding more jobs to the résumé, and I think that in this industry, you’re rewarded for versatility.”

Once College GameDay commences, Lada adds the responsibility of feature reporting on that program to her schedule and continues making appearances across additional ESPN programming. Lada hosted the Friday edition of College Football Live last season and has also filled in as a host on shows such as First Take and SportsCenter. Moreover, she continues to complete projects for SC Featured and is working on a documentary for E:60 scheduled to premiere later in the summer. 

Lada aims to keep showcasing her indefatigable work ethic and passion for the craft without slowing down. Whether it is hosting a podcast, taking part in more panels or writing essays, she is open to exploring new forms of disseminating stories.

“I have a lot of knowledge and experience rattling around my brain, [and] I think the next iteration is figuring out a way to continue passing those experiences on to the next generation.” Lada said. “I don’t ever want to gatekeep the secrets of success – I think that’s selfish – so as I continue to do the media work, I think the next phase for me is figuring out how to pass a lot of these lessons on to future broadcasting generations.”

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