The resumes and cover letters from people who love Baltimore sports and think they can be a 2009 local media sensation are flooding into my email inbox. Some of them are pretty cool and impressive. Lots of folks – all male at this point but I’d love to find some females who really knows sports as well to enter – are thinking this “competition” will be fun. So instead of bringing in people and sitting them in a room, I figure if these folks REALLY think they can do this for a living, I’ll just give them the chance to prove it in “real time.”
On the radio and on the web, you’ll have a chance to knock it out of the park if you enter our competition and are selected by our staff.
At WNST.net and AM 1570, we have the medium, the outlet, the resources and a bunch of sponsors to provide a grand prize to make it all worthwhile. We’re are still putting together the finer points and details of how this will go between now and Memorial Day but I want to have an open, on-the-air and on-the-web competition (a talent show meets American Idol-kinda thing) to see who can be great. We hope to begin the actual auditions on my show on Tuesday, April 7.
Over the next two months I also hope to meet some fun, cool new people, and share my love of Baltimore sports and media with people who think they might want to do this for a living. Just like I did 25 years ago, back in 1984 when I walked into The News American as a slappy 15-year old Dundalk High Schol intern who wanted to do Baltimore sports journalism better than anyone ever did it.
But it’s a lot harder than I ever thought it’d be and it’s been very hard to watch an industry I love so much shrinking and the talent pool becoming more dense on the internet but more shallow in the old media world. And people in Baltimore want great sports writing and great sports radio. They want and deserve the truth and accuracy. At WNST.net, it’s my vision to marry those over the coming months and years while embracing everything folks in Baltimore do to connect via sports.
WNST.net will be the place everyone goes “first thing in the morning” just like my Pop went out the front door to get The Sun on our front doorstep with the plastic bag around it. We’ll also be the place you go during the games for chat and information and analysis.
WNST.net will be the place everyone in Baltimore comes via their mobile device or PDA to get the best sports news, information and analysis – day and night. If you’re on our WNST Text Service, you know what I’m talking about. No more FCC restrictions on our signal. No more “small radio station” lies to our sponsors who know better. Just an old-fashioned level playing field with WBAL, The Sun and anyone else who was ever “bigger” than little WNST.
I grew up wanting to be a sports writer. That’s all I ever wanted to do: chase down athletes, sporting events and stories and news and write about it. I idolized John Steadman, Oscar Madison, Mitch Albom and Howard Cosell (although I didn’t know it at the time).
For all of the grief and horrible lies I have to deal with by being an unwitting “public figure,” every single day of my life someone also writes me a nice, heartfelt note or comments about WNST and how much they love my little growing company. The loyalty shown from the public for my employees is really nice, but it’s sad when it manifests itself in backlash and public and private personal attacks and lies about me and my family. (This, too, you should know, sadly comes with the job in 2009.)
People have been telling me that I suck for 17 years. I’m used to it. My skin is thick because it must be to survive.
But who in the Baltimore sports media is truly great and consistent with breaking news, entertainment, information, true analysis, insight, honesty and integrity? I’d like to think that WNST is known throughout Baltimore for these qualities. (And if we’re not we’ll keep trying via means like this competition to get better. We’re always trying to get better!)
Call it bragging if you must, but I think Drew Forrester and Bob Haynie are the two best sports talk show hosts in Baltimore – by a mile, really. And I think they also write the best and most informed blogs as well. And I think Glenn Clark, Alex Thomas, Thyrl Nelson, Chris Bonetti, Rex Snider, Cliff Saunders, Chris Pika and all of our bloggers are awesome and I enjoy reading their insights here at WNST.net. Ray Bachman is the sports radio producer in the business. But we can always use more talent, more specialty and depth, more informative, good stuff to read for the people who love Baltimore sports. I’d also love to find a person to take the 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. radio shift here at WNST somewhere down the road but I want to find the perfect person. (My bar is pretty high, as you probably know.)
And I want to evolve and make WNST the best it can be by making 100% sure I’ve looked at every person who would ever want to do this and be great and loyal to doing it the right way. (There’s also a very real “business” side to making a living doing this in a rough economy in 2009 and that’s always the hardest and most significant element that’s been missing in some cases throughout the marketplace. Basic sales, marketing and sponsorship knowledge is essential if you want to make this a viable career choice in 2009!)
I want to find someone who loves ALL of it as much as I do and is as committed to it as I am.
And I’m sincerely looking for someone who is better at doing sports radio and blogging and video than me. (Insert joke here…)
As you probably know, along with Brian Billick and some other amazing partners, I really do own and operate WNST AM-1570 and WNST.net every minute of my life. For any of you who’ve ever owned a business or managed people, you know it’s a challenging and all-encompassing existence. And, it’s not always easy making employment calls on personnel — hiring or firing and the hurt feelings, public nature of it and the lives that are unavoidably affected — especially in this rough economy.
And make no mistake: this competition is not a “hiring” contest. WNST is not necessarily “hiring” people. We can only hire as many people as the market and our community sponsorship supports. We have empty hours on weekends on the radio. We have an unlimited amount of space for audio, video and blogs on our website, which is the No. 1 most-visited Baltimore sports media website on a daily basis.
Over the next two months, we’re really looking to do a talent search. We’re going to give away a series of major prizes worth thousands of dollars that we’re still working on (if anyone who has a business wants to get involved via prizes and sponsorship just contact me directly).
And just like Jay-Z, we’ll be essentially saying: “Show me what you got!?”
You’ll have a chance to have the world know how good you are. Trust me, if you’re good at this and you can make money doing this and you’re a quality person of integrity (our first requirement), WNST.net or someplace else will want to hire you.
I could do this or I could post a listing on Craigslist or Jobs.com or college message boards saying:
Help Wanted: “21st Century Baltimore Sports Media Rock Star”
“WNST.net is looking for a local sports nut with a Facebook and new & social media zeal who can write professionally and proficiently, analyze many sports verbally, talk sports day and night, go to sporting events, talk to athletes, shoot and edit videos, learn and study sports and sports business and marketing and legal and political issues, evolve as a person, do marketing and promotions at bars and sporting events and have some fun with a bunch of people who love Baltimore sports as much as you no doubt do if you apply for this surprisingly demanding position. A deep concentration and understanding of local sports history regarding the Orioles, Ravens & Terps is essential for long-term success. Long hours, a major commitment with high upside possibilities for the right, driven candidate who is looking to make a career in new media sports journalism with a growing internet-based company with two decades of market excellence and leadership. You must have a basic grasp of how business works and how money is made in new media in the 21st century. Apply within…”
Or we could do this competition and give away a big prize, which will be the next best thing. And perhaps the winner will find an opportunity? Or maybe a bunch of folks will find an opportunity? And perhaps we’ll find someone to replace my “lousy” show and host 2 p.m. til 6 p.m. on WNST?
Over the next few weeks I’ll be publicly giving my philosophy on what makes a sports talk show host and blogger successful in 2009 and beyond and how we’ve been growing for 10 years doing local sports radio. There’s no “magic.” It’s hard work and dedication and passion and knowledge and communication that fuels WNST.net throughout my company.
In the meantime, spread the word. If you know someone who is qualified and can truly communicate the English language in words both spoken and written, have them drop me a note or friend me on Facebook.
Yeah, if you don’t have a Facebook page or Twitter or MySpace or Linked In (etc.) you’re probably not a viable candidate or one who will fare well in this competition, which will have some voting and social media elements.
Are you better than we are?
“Show me what ya got…”