I have zero idea how to write a farewell column. I’ve actually had trouble sleeping the past week deciding what to write. Yes, that’s overly dramatic, but SRI has been like a child to me. Around five years ago, my business partner Dan Zucker challenged me to come up with a website that would have a symbiotic relationship to our core business of media booking and sports public relations. Not sure how Edison came up with his ideas, but mine usually come over drinks, while I’m lying in bed, or when I’m driving alone.
About a month later the plan for SportsRadioInterviews.com was hatched. I had two better names for the site but one was too long and the other wouldn’t have explained what the site was about. Those names were FirstTimeCallerLongTimeListener.com and CosellsToupee.com. SportsRadioInterviews.com was obviously very descriptive and I’m glad that was ultimately the name we chose. The site was up with content for about five months with myself and one other writer tweaking the way the site looked and the way the blog postings would be formatted. We launched the site a week before the 2009 Super Bowl.
I remember vividly sending out an email to every media person in my database and every friend in my contacts introducing them to SRI. Building the site had been a labor of love for me as I’m a former PD, Host, and Executive Producer in the world of sports radio. I’ve always felt that sports radio is an underappreciated medium and has the ability to cover stories from a multitude of angles. I also think that you’re going to get more compelling answers from a player on a phone interview with an engaging host that can typically disarm them with a good sense of humor over a media scrum with ten press members hovering over a naked player after a game when all that player wants to do is get the hell out of the locker room.
I received positive feedback from a plethora of members of the media off of that email. The one exception was Woody Paige. Enough said, right then and there I knew the website was a good idea.
While I’m biased and I think I’m a very good writer, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had to do less writing and focus more on marketing the site. It’s the old “if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it still make a sound” theory. So I started bombarding different websites and writers with emails with a list of our posts of the day. Thankfully, SRI’s content was found to be compelling, informative, controversial, and often funny. No longer could an athlete/coach/gm say something on a local radio station and have it disappear into thin air. SRI became a bit of a watchdog and you could even say a ‘shit-stirrer”. I never felt bad about that either because I wasn’t making up the quotes. These were all words that came from people’s mouths and finally they were being held responsible for what they said on sports radio.
Quickly, we were getting a positive name in the sports blogosphere and were getting linked everywhere. ESPN.com, Peter King’s MMQB, Fox Sports, Deadspin, The Huffington Post, ABC News, The NY Post, the Washington Post, PerezHilton.com, and a host of others. We’ve averaged about 75,000 uniques a month since our third month of our hard launch. To this day, it still gets my juices flowing to see our content linked.
Within a year, we had daily content on ESPN.com and Deadspin and were hopeful to sell the site. We had a lot of companies reach out and ultimately sold the site to SBN (SportsBlogNation.com) in late October of 2010. This wasn’t the days of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, so we definitely didn’t get rich off of the sale. We basically made the money back we’d spent paying for writers for 18 months and a little pocket change. Plus, it’s pretty cool to say you sold a website. I received a three year contract to stay on as Editor of SRI and a budget for writers and an assistant editor.
I was so excited for SRI to eventually move to SBN’s platform and allow me to stop marketing the site on a daily basis. I could actually write again! Well, it’s thirty months later and unfortunately SRI never moved over to SBN’s platform. I completely feel like the title of Jim Valvano’s book, “They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead”. I’m not writing this to bash SBN. They bought the site, own the rights, and have the ability to do whatever they want with SRI. I really liked the people I was interacting with over at SBN as well. I’m more just disappointed that after a bunch of promises to integrate SRI into SBN’s platform, it never happened.
Companies change directions and their mind all the time and SBN just decided that SRI wasn’t a fit for them. At the beginning of 2013, I was informed that the funding of SRI was going to cease. My business partner and I weren’t quite ready to close the doors of SRI and discussed with SBN buying the site back and getting some new investors. We had a few meetings at the Super Bowl with potential new buyers of SRI but unfortunately nothing has come to fruition. So here we are today. I have a lot of emotions running through me right now. Sadness, anger, and relief probably are the three most prominent ones. SRI was my baby, a daily grind, and something very positive for me personally and professionally. I won’t know what to do with myself without having to check RSS feeds, Twitter, and Sports Radio Websites throughout the day. Or waiting for that email from a host or producer cluing me into an awesome interview they just had. But I think it will be somewhat therapeutic not to have that daily grind of searching for worthy interviews and hopefully I can channel the extra time I have into something creative again.
I truly feel like SRI was at the forefront of recognizing the great content, from an interview perspective, that sports radio consistently produces. Many of the bigger sites have taken a page from our book and are now transcribing interviews from sports radio and using them as content in their stories. My ego tells me I got that ball rolling. And as a former sports radio guy, I’m proud of that.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank a lot of people for their help along the way. First and foremost, my wife for dealing with me being online practically 24/7. My business partner Dan Zucker for putting up with my sometimes maniacal and sometimes aloof ways. Michael Bean for helping me get the site off the ground and writing for SRI for three years. SBN for buying the site. All the loyal writers at SRI, especially my current staff of Eric Schmoldt, Chris Fedor, Steven Cuce, and Brad Gagnon. I’d also like to thank other people who wrote for the site in the past including Will Brinson, Tas Melas, Doug Farrar (for a week!), Tim Gunter, Paul Bessire, Lance Zimmerman, and Zach Krantz. Shockingly, I still haven’t met Eric, Steve, or Chris who have all worked for the site for over two years. One day I’ll meet you guys and dinner and drinks are on me. John Mortensen who built the site and taught me how to use it. All the radio stations for letting me link to their interviews, the producers for consistently keeping me abreast of the better interviews out there, and the hosts for conducting some great interviews. I’d also like to thank some people who championed the site early on and were tremendous advisors for SRI including Darren Rovell, Mike Florio, AJ Daulerio, Rick Chandler, Michael David Smith, Lynn Hoppes, and Jason McIntyre. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, so my apologies in advance.
It’s been a great ride and I’ve learned so much throughout these past 4+ years. Thanks again for checking out SportsRadioInterviews.com.
P.S. Indulge me here, but since I haven’t written much in the past three years, here’s my favorite column that I wrote during SRI’s existence: