Connect with us
Jim Cutler Demos

BSM Writers

Greg Papa is Driven By His Love of Sports, Broadcasting and Connecting

“Honestly, if they didn’t pay me to do this, I would be doing it anyway. So don’t tell them. I do need the money.”

Brian Noe

Published

on

To say that Greg Papa has experienced a lot during his Bay Area broadcasting career, is sort of like saying an otter has a lot of experiences involving water. In other words, Papa has done a ton. Outside of the San Jose Sharks, he’s the only guy in history to call games for the other five Bay Area teams.

Just look at his play-by-play resume as the voice of multiple teams in Northern California:

San Francisco 49ers – since 2019
San Francisco Giants – 7 years
Golden State Warriors – 11 years
Oakland A’s – 14 years
Oakland Raiders – 21 years

Somehow, Greg Papa managed to be the voice of the San Antonio Spurs for three years as well. And beyond play-by-play, Papa did a lot of studio work including pre and postgame shows for the Warriors and Giants. He’s also been a full-time sports radio host for the past 11 years. When does the man sleep?

His sports radio career began briefly during the NBA lockout in 1999 as a fill-in for Gary Radnich. Later in 2011, Jason Barrett approached Papa about joining 95.7 The Game. He initially hosted shows on a part-time basis, but later took on a full-time role, one he’s been in for over a decade now. Papa and John Lund currently host the 10a-2p midday show on KNBR.

As you’ll gather in our conversation, Greg Papa is a really interesting guy with truckloads of amazing experiences. From Al Davis wanting to hire him as Raiders GM, to accidental MF bombs and the story behind his signature “touchdown San-Fran-ciscooooo” call, Papa shares some awesome details. Enjoy!

Brian Noe: How would you describe what it was like to get fired but then immediately land on your feet?

Greg Papa: Oh, it’s traumatic. I got fired by the Warriors, the A’s, and the Raiders. I remember the first time when the Warriors let me go. That was because of my work with the Raiders. There was so much Raider talk in ‘97 and the Warriors got pissed.

I was literally fired by the Warriors and one day later Don Nelson calls me and says, ‘How do you feel about going to San Antonio? Gregg Popovich wants to hire you there.’ That was in October. The Spurs were already in training camp.

So I was fired for like a day, and then Pop called me and said, ‘Do you want to come to San Antonio?’ I said, ‘Sure’. That was an amazing experience. My family loves San Antonio.

Then when the A’s fired me, I remember my boss at NBC Sports Bay Area, Ted Griggs, called me. Literally, when they called to tell me I was done with the A’s, I got a call five minutes later saying sit by your phone, Larry Baer is going to call you. And the Giants hired me. That was like literally 10 minutes later.

Then when I lost the Raiders job, Bob Sargent called me and set up a coffee meeting for like a week later. We wound up going out for coffee for eight hours. He had this whole plan to bring me over to the Niners. It was pretty amazing. One was one day later, one was 10 minutes later, one was a week later. I was fortunate that the trauma of being told we don’t want you anymore was alleviated almost immediately by, ‘Do you want to come work for us?’ It was pretty amazing.

BN: What would you say has been your wildest experience? Is it what you just explained, or is it something else in your broadcasting career?

GP: Well, those were all amazing experiences, but I have to say it was the time that Al Davis reached out to me about working for him directly and being the general manager of the Raiders. We talked about that for a long time, for many, many years, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, all the way until he died. That was kind of a weird time in my life where I had to weigh getting out of broadcasting completely and going to work for him.

I was never going to be the GM because Al was the GM of the Raiders while he was alive, but he wanted to groom me to take over for him in that role and work next to him in the Raider front office after Bruce Allen and Mike Lombardi left. He had a falling out with Al. That was probably the wildest time in my life for those years, ’06 to the time he died in October 2011, where he wanted me to come work with him at the Raiders.

BN: What did you think about Al wanting you to do that?

GP: I thought long and hard about it for years, every day and night and actually backed off of broadcasting for a long time to make myself available. It would have been fascinating. It would have been challenging because he’s a challenging man, but I loved him. He was like a second father to me. We got along so well because I never did work for him. I think if I would’ve gone to work for him, I probably would have gotten fired in a week because we would have fought. But it would have been fascinating. I wish I had the opportunity.

It probably would’ve been a little bit of career suicide to take a job like that because Al wound up dying and Mark came in and he’s still changing things. Look at what he’s doing now. He fired a head coach and a general manager a year and a half into a six-year contract. So I don’t know what kind of contract I would’ve gotten. [Laughs] I dream about it all the time. Sometimes I think that really was my calling. I think the longevity of it would have been a real risk, but it was something I was willing to do because who gets the opportunity to have that chance?

I reached out to Bruce Allen. Bruce was an agent before Al hired him. He gave me the background on a lot of people whether it was Scotty Stirling or Ron Wolf. They didn’t come from the background as a player or a coach to be in a front office. Other people have done it and have had success, so I wish I’d had the chance. It may not have given me the career longevity, but at that time I wasn’t after that. I was after a challenge. As far as the most interesting career path that I did not take, or was not afforded to me, that was certainly the time. Those five years that Al was talking to me about coming to work for him directly.

BN: What’s it like to manage your time between play-by-play and sports radio?

GP: Yeah, it’s challenging. It’s just doing all the different things I do around it. It was really hard, I did all three sports overlapping. I did the Warriors games for a while, then I added the Raiders, then the A’s, and then did the Spurs. I was doing the three sports simultaneously and in different cities. I was living in San Antonio and doing the A’s and the Raiders. What I didn’t factor in was the overlap. Three times a year, for two months, the teams play simultaneously. That’s really the hard part. I only could do that for three years and then I couldn’t do it anymore. It was just difficult.

Now, I would do sports talk radio all day long whether it was 10-2 or noon-3, then at night I’d be on TV doing Warriors and Giants pre and postgame shows until midnight. That was hard. That was wearing me down, but I was younger then. Now, I don’t know how I did it. Now, it’s just sports talk radio 10-2 and then the 49ers on the weekend, which is hard enough because I work Monday through Friday. Then when Friday night comes, at two o’clock I’ve got to get ready for a football game. So I’m thinking, “Wow, what am I doing?”

It helps that I don’t sleep, I literally sleep four or five hours a night. I wake up all hours of the night and I can multitask. But sometimes I wonder what the hell am I doing? [Laughs] Why am I doing this? To pay the bills and get my kids through school. I have twins. My son is a sophomore at Santa Clara law school. So I’m just trying to get him through that.

Believe it or not, the schedule I have now is the easiest that I’ve had. Now I’m not doing TV at night for Warriors and Giants which makes it easier. But it doesn’t seem like the schedule is lighter at all. I kind of wonder “How the hell did I do all that?” I was younger, in better shape to get through it. Now that I’m old and tired, I can barely get through the day and crawl into bed at eight o’clock at night.

BN: I just think about all those hours and running low on sleep, can you think of a time when you made a big mistake on the air?

GP: Well, I mean, I’ve said motherf—er on the air a couple of times.

BN: [Laughs] Have you really? Oh, man.

GP: Some have been when I didn’t know my mic was hot. I think there’s a lot of times when I critique myself and I think, “Wow, that was a sloppy mistake. I shouldn’t have said that or shouldn’t have done that”. I could blame it on being tired and doing too much, but I’ve made a lot of errors on the air.

Not the egregious one where you say something and get fired over it. I’m hopefully never going to do that. But that’s the fear you have is that you say something just out of the realm and inappropriate that it’s over. I don’t think I’m going to do that, but you never know.

I’m hard on myself. I go back and listen to every 49er game that I broadcast. I try to listen to everything just to see how it came off. There are times where you think “Why did he say that?” Sometimes it’s just there aren’t enough hours in the day to get ready to do all of this. Maybe I was tired and traveling, but you can’t use that as an excuse.

Vin Scully was 83 years old and that guy hardly ever made a mistake to the end. Marv Albert went right to the end. The guys that I grew up idolizing did it at the highest level all the way till they were done. But there are times where you think to yourself, “Well, I hope nobody heard that”. [Laughs] Whatever the reason, you wear yourself too thin and you make a sloppy mental mistake because you’re just tired, or because of travel, or I didn’t get to bed until four in the morning and I’ve got to get back on the radio in a few hours. That does happen. But if I can’t do the job there are hundreds of people looking to take the job. So I can’t use that as an excuse.

BN: How did your signature call “touchdown San Francisco” come about?

GP: Well, I didn’t even know what the call was going to be. I never really had a signature home run call in baseball. I never had a basketball call. The Raider call evolved over time as a homage to the great Bill King. Bill’s call was touchdown Raiders. Then I stretched it out on some big ones. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the 49ers for so long.

Initially, I thought it was going to be a homage to Don Klein, the great Niner announcer. When I got to the Bay Area in the mid-‘80s, his call was touchdown 49ers. That preseason, my dad died right when I was getting ready to do my first 49er game. And my dad’s name is Frank. The city is named after St. Francis of Assisi, which is Frank, my dad’s name. He died right in August of that year, late July. We were playing the Chiefs in the preseason. It was the third preseason game. In the preseason I do television, so I wasn’t going to do a long touchdown call on TV. It was strictly going to be a radio call.

I was listening to Mitch Holthus, the great voice of the Chiefs. His call is “Touchdown Kan-sas-City!”, and it dawned on me, “What if I didn’t say 49ers, but I made the call San Francisco?” It was easier to say after touchdown, like “touchdown Raiders”, “touchdown San Francisco”, and have it be a tribute to my dad, St. Francis and Frank Papa. So the touchdown call came for all those reasons and it just dawned on me. I thought about it a long time and how I was going to do it and that’s what I came up with. And I like it. Hopefully, people like it too.

BN: What would you say makes your show with John Lund on KNBR work the way that it does? What it is about your partnership that meshes well?

GP: Respect. Mutual respect. We like each other. I obviously work very hard to do what I do. I remember the first time I was working with John when we started together, I think it was August 1, 2011 when Jason Barrett put us together. I remember doing a show with him. We got done and I was doing Giants pre and post on TV.

We get off the air and then a half hour later I see him sitting on the Giants dugout bench next to Bochy. And I’m like, “What are you doing here?” He was getting audio for the next day’s show. John just works. He works hard and he knows how to set me up. He knows the things that I like to talk about. And then we have fun. We went out a lot then and partied together, drank, hung out.

John pretends like he’s much younger than me but he’s not. He is younger than me but not much younger. Our references and our likes, our music, hanging out and partying and drinking and acting a fool, we just kind of hit it off. He’s fun. We’ve gone through it in our lives with family stuff. It’s just real and I respect him.

The bottom line is he’s a friend of mine, so on the air, I think it comes across that way where we are friends, we are contemporaries. We have similar interests. We look at things the same, but then at the same time, we look at things differently. He’s had a different background than I have. We’re from different parts of the world.

We’ve been through it. I’ve lost my mom and dad. I was with him the day his dad died. He went on the air 10 minutes after his dad died. His family situation and raising kids, we’ve kind of grown up together. We’ve been together a long time. I think the bottom line is we like each other. We hang out together off the air when we can and we respect each other. I think that’s why it works and hopefully it comes across that way on the air.

BN: What still drives you? You could say, “Hey man, this grind is too much. I’m going to scale back.” What still drives you to grind the way that you do?

GP: Money? Bottom line, money. If I didn’t have to put my last kid through law school and pay the bills; if they could just send me the money, Brian, and I could stay at home and drink and party all day, I could do that. If you could go do the games and do the talk show, and they just send me the checks, I’m good. The bottom line is US currency. I’ve got a lot of creditors I have to deal with.

BN: So what would happen if you buy a scratch-off lottery ticket tonight and win big? Are you doing the next Niners game?

GP: [Laughs] No, I’m going to make an offer to the DeBartolos and the Yorks and buy the team. That’s what I want to do. No, you know where I am right now? I’m off, I just finished the radio show. I’m at a bar called the Canyon Inn, in Redwood City, which I’ve heard about. I’ve never been, and I’m going to go in there and have a beer and a burger and hang out with Niner fans and soak it up a little bit. That’s the first minute that I’m off on my mini vacation and I’m going to go there and watch some sports. I love sports, I would be watching somewhere.

It’s not pressure, but the responsibility of watching it and having to report on it, or call it, or talk about it gets a little bit tiresome sometimes. But what drives me is I love it. So here I am. The first minute I have time off, I could be doing something else, but right now I just want to have a beer and a burger and hang at the Canyon Inn.

Honestly, if they didn’t pay me to do this, I would be doing it anyway. So don’t tell them. I do need the money. It’s a labor of love, it’s what I love to do, and fortunately, they’ve been able to pay me all these years to do it.

*** This interview was conducted prior to KNBR announcing Adam Copeland as the station’s new program director.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

BSM Writers

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

Published

on

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.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BSM Writers

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

Published

on

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.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BSM Writers

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

Published

on

(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.”

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement

Upcoming Events

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2024 Barrett Media.