I was watching the movie Fight Club the other day. Brad Pitt’s character says at one point, “If you wanna make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs.” That thought is a good description of Clay Travis’ style. Gaining a lot of attention and a monstrous following sometimes involves ruffling a few feathers along the way.
Clay’s on-air style makes me flash back to those old-school Rolling Stone descriptions of heavy metal bands. You know the ones that are littered with a flurry of colorful and unique adjectives. The uncompromising national host of Outkick the Coverage on FOX Sports Radio, Clay Travis unleashes a relentless fury of persuasions in headstrong and unapologetic fashion. Pointed, biting, yet mixed with an authenticity and honesty that isn’t commonly accessible. Sure, that’s a little thick, but it’s also accurate.
“People who get mad at me fuel the people who like me.” If that isn’t a great evaluation of the reaction to Clay Travis, I don’t know what is. Coincidentally, those comments come from Clay’s mouth in the interview below. Clay also explains that owning his Outkick the Coverage website affords him a luxury that many others don’t possess. It helps unlock his no-holds-barred honesty on the airwaves.
Another line from Fight Club fits — “I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I’m free in all the ways that you are not.” In many ways, Clay Travis is the Tyler Durden of sports talk.
BN: Do you ever just wake up and say, “I don’t feel like dealing with crazy responses today?”
CT: (laughs) I don’t ever think about how people are going to respond to me. I definitely think when my alarm goes off in the 4:15 range in the morning central time — because I’m on east coast drive time living in the central time zone — I definitely think when it’s pitch black, “What am I doing with my life getting out of bed at 4:15am?”
I don’t really think about the way people are going to respond to what I say or write or do at all, but I definitely think, “My God, I’d like to just hit the alarm off and sleep for another three hours.” I would say that’s the most common thought I have at 4:15am when the alarm goes off. The other one is to turn the alarm off fast so I don’t wake up anybody else in the house.
Another thing is I’ve gotten pulled over a lot driving at 4:15-4:20am. I just hop in the car and get moving. It’s funny because the cops who are working the overnight shift will pull me over for going 45 in a 35 or whatever I’m doing on my way to work. It’s almost like they’re just checking to see if I’m coming home for the night or on my way to work. As soon as they see I’m on my way to work, they’re like, “Yeah, you’re fine.” I think they’re worried about drunk drivers and stuff like that because a lot of people, frankly, are still finishing their day when I’m starting mine.
BN: How long does it take for your mind to start functioning while you’re doing the show early in the morning?
CT: It doesn’t really take any time for my mind to start functioning. I’ve done middays and I’ve done afternoons. I think morning is a lot more challenging. Now, I will say it’s a lot more fulfilling because we get to talk before the new story of the day is set. Nobody has talked at all about any of the games that have happened by the time we’re talking.
I did afternoon drive for a long time in Nashville, and it’s crazy to me now with Periscope and Facebook and social media, that when I got started, I might be talking about a game that took place at noon on Saturday, and not talking about it until Monday afternoon. That’s 48 hours after the game has been over. That’s crazy to me now to think about doing something where it takes that long to react.
The other thing I’d say is great about mornings is I’m ahead of everybody. Sometimes I feel like the only people awake in the country are me and Donald Trump because I check my Twitter feed and nobody is tweeting anything. Then the president gets up and says something crazy on Twitter and it feels like he and I are the only two people up and moving that early in the morning getting in front of the news cycle. I think that all factors in. You definitely have a good sense of accomplishment. Like right now (while we’re doing this interview) it’s 10am my time and I’ve already been up for six hours.
The biggest challenge is as a dad. I used to love the time in the evening after my young kids were asleep. I could sit back and watch Netflix or I could read more regularly, and the news cycle would slow down. I would go to bed at midnight or 1am pretty much every night. I’m more of a night person than I am a day person. Now, I can’t stay up that consistently hardly at all and then turn around and do a three-hour morning show getting up at 4:15 in the morning.
BN: What has your career path been like up to this point of hosting Outkick on FOX Sports Radio?
CT: I came to do everything I’m doing through writing. I still think of myself primarily as a writer. If I had to give up everything else, I think I would give up writing the last. I moved from writing initially for an audience of zero on my own website with nobody who had any clue of who I was while I was a practicing attorney, to doing radio. I started doing radio just as radio hits as a guest.
I always tell people who are writers to do every radio interview that somebody requests (especially when you’re young) because it’s good practice. I found out that I was pretty good at radio by doing 10-15 minute hits as a guest talking about the columns that I had written. That led to a once-or-twice a week show on 104.5 The Zone. I think I was getting paid nothing. Then eventually I got paid 50 dollars a show. That led to middays on 104.5 The Zone, which led to afternoon drive, which then led to doing an NBC Sports national show. Then, I left and eventually FOX Sports Radio recruited me to come back and take over their morning show a couple of years ago.
BN: When you were doing the afternoon drive show on The Zone, was that a two or three-man show?
CT: Three man. Now, I was doing a Saturday show for NBC — a three-hour show by myself on Saturday mornings. For several years I did six days a week of radio, three hours a day. That wasn’t counting whatever radio hits I’d be doing around the country as well. I had never hosted a five-day-a-week show by myself — and look I’m not technically by myself all the time — I’ve got a couple of producers in L.A. and a producer in Nashville as well. There are a lot of people who think they can do a three-hour solo show for years at a time. I think the reality is there aren’t that many people who can do it — at least do it very well.
BN: How would you describe the differences between writing, radio and doing television?
CT: I think what you have to learn about writing versus radio versus TV is they’re all different. I think writing is the most difficult. Radio is the most time consuming. TV is the easiest. In TV, you have a huge collection of people trying to make you look good. Writing, you’re sitting in front of the screen all by yourself. Radio, you’re basically by yourself. TV, you walk in and there’s like six or seven producers and they’re like, “Hey, we think these are the 10 best topics to talk about. What’s your opinion on each of these?” If you talk for more than a minute in a row, you’ve talked for a long time on TV. By the way, a 30-minute television show is 23 minutes without commercial breaks.
There’s a reason why people don’t go very often from TV to radio to writing, and why writers, if they have the ability or the interest or desire, can go from writing to radio to TV easier. I think each step gets progressively easier. Now, there are certainly things about TV that you can’t control. You can’t control what you look like. You can’t control your mannerisms. You can’t control how your suit looks or whether your tie looks good or whether your hair looks normal. Like those are all cosmetic things and much of TV is about how you look as opposed to what you say. That’s different, where as radio everything you say — and writing, frankly, is all about the words. There’s a lot more cosmetic aspects of TV.
BN: When you’re listening to a sports talk show host, what type of style interests you most?
CT: I like to be entertained. I think the standards that apply across all those disciplines is what I try to be — smart, original, funny, and authentic. Not necessarily in every subject because sometimes you’re talking about serious subjects. Sometimes you’re talking about totally funny subjects so being really smart about it doesn’t necessarily apply, but I think over the course of your show on any given day, or over the course of my website, certainly over the course of television, my goal is to be smart, original, funny, and authentic. I think people who accomplish that on a daily basis are people that certainly I appreciate.
I’ve always said the guy I kind of pattern what I do in sports after as a young guy — I’m 38 now so I’m not that young — but the guy I used to pattern myself after to a large extent was Tony Kornheiser. I think he was the first guy to be great at writing, to be great at radio, and to be great at TV. My goal is and was to be good — and not just good but great — at all three of those disciplines.
BN: What annoys you about sports radio these days?
CT: First of all, I don’t spend that much time listening to sports radio. I think once you do it, if you spend very much time worrying about what other people are doing, I just don’t have the time and effort and energy. Other than listening to an interview here or there, or I put on Cowherd a lot because I think he’s so good, I’ll flip him on television and obviously people will send me segments and things to watch. I just don’t spend any time worrying about what anybody else is doing in sports talk radio at all. To me, I’m entirely focused on what I do, almost like tunnel vision. If I do a good job, then that’s my goal. Frankly, I really don’t care what anybody else does.
BN: When you deal with backlash over one of your comments, are you ever surprised by which ones people take exception to the most?
CT: It’s to the point now where it’s impossible to say anything on social media without backlash. Frankly, I don’t worry about it. My wife says it’s a unique part of my personality — I genuinely don’t care what people think about me. When I say that, I care what people who know me think. I care what my wife thinks. I care what my kids think. I care what people who work with me on a regular basis think, but it doesn’t really impact me what some stranger thinks about my opinion. It has zero impact on my day-to-day existence.
I think it’s almost impossible to not have backlash this day and age. I think much of it, frankly, is just total bullshit. I think it’s fake. My position has always been if you like something — watch, read, or listen to it. If you don’t, don’t. I don’t watch any television shows because I hate them. I don’t read any books because I hate them. I understand that there are certain people out there who do that. I just don’t have the time or the luxury to spend on paying attention to things I don’t like.
I spend most of the time evangelizing about television shows that I love. I don’t remember the last time that I talked about a television show outside the world of sports, and I was like, “Man, this show sucks.” I’ve got a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old, and a 3-year-old. I’ve got whole seasons of television shows taped on my DVR that I haven’t been able to get to.
I don’t really worry too much about backlash at all. Maybe initially I did. Only in the sense of, “Oh my God, am I going to get fired?” But once I started my own business, and once I owned Outkick, I’m never going to fire me. So, I don’t really care what anybody says or what criticism I get because as long as I’m the boss, what are you gonna do to me?
BN: When someone is coming at you on social media, what do you consider off limits?
CT: I’ll block people immediately now if they say anything about my kids or my wife. To me it’s like the mafia. The mafia didn’t go after kids and wives. If you have an opinion with me you can say whatever you want. Pretty much, I don’t care. I might block you if you’re just blowing up my timeline. I think we’re up to almost 600,000 Twitter followers now. It’s hard to keep up with my mentions, frankly, and some days I just can’t. But if I look at something and I’m like, “Man, this guy has tweeted me 20 times in a row and he’s clearly an idiot,” I’ll just block him because I don’t like when people fill my timeline up. Outside of my timeline getting filled up, obviously wife and kids. To me it’s all business or family in general. That’s just beyond the pale to me. So, other than that, it just doesn’t even register with me.
BN: If you’re looking at it from your audience’s point of view and evaluating yourself, what would you say is the #1 strength you have that has helped you create a massive following?
CT: I think it’s probably honesty. Authenticity. I think we live in an inauthentic age. I think there are a lot of people who don’t always agree with my opinion, but I think the people who really like Outkick and like what I do appreciate the fact that I don’t pull any punches, and I tell people exactly what I think. I think that’s rare. I think people are so afraid of getting fired or so afraid of offending someone that they tiptoe up to their opinion, or they don’t really say what they think if they’re afraid it’s not a politically-correct opinion — it’s not a politically-correct answer.
What I see the most is people saying, “Thank God for saying what you actually believe, because I think that’s rare.” I would say that’s probably what resonates for the people who like me the most. That’s probably what they would say or resonates the most. Like I said, my goal is kind of an acronym context — it’s SOFA — smart, original, funny, and authentic. I think authenticity is so rare that it’s what registers the most.
BN: Is having the freedom to say something that somebody else might not what you love the most?
CT: When I started Outkick, my goal with the website was to say exactly what I wanted to say and not ever worry about what anybody thought, and have total creative freedom to write, say, and think whatever I want. That is what I value the most. Plenty of people are like, “ Oh, Clay Travis says what he says for money or attention” or whatever else. I’ve turned down money in exchange to maintain my creative freedom.
I would say there are certain people out there who say, “Clay Travis is a sellout.” To the extent that selling out means that you will do whatever it takes to make the most money possible, you can talk to every employer that I’ve ever worked with. Whether it’s FOX, whether it’s FOX Sports Radio, whether it was The Zone back in the day, whether it was FanHouse, Deadspin, CBS Sports, all of them. There have been times where I’ve been offered more money to do what I’m doing, but have to have more restraint on what I say, think, or do. I’ve turned down the more money in favor of creative freedom.
Certainly you can say it at FOX. Certainly you can say it at FOX Sports Radio. You can certainly say it at FanHouse back in the day, everywhere else. I kind of gravitated toward the space where I can say what I want to say, and write what I want to write. I haven’t chased money because I could’ve made more money just by kind of tamping down and tapering off some of the stuff that I say.
BN: How would you assess your time doing Outkick on FOX Sports Radio?
CT: I think it’s going really well. We developed a really substantial audience. They can speak to the numbers better than I can, but I think our numbers are up something like 84% over the last year. We’re approaching 300 AM/FM affiliates, got satellite radio, the podcast — I don’t know what the final numbers for January are going to be, but it’s going to be in the millions. It’ll be the biggest month that we’ve ever had. I kind of pay attention to that stuff along the way.
I know that we’re growing and growing pretty rapidly just based on what I see on Facebook and Periscope and whatnot. I’ve enjoyed it and think it’s been successful. Do I want to do it forever? No. If you told me in 15 years that I was still going to be getting up at 4:15, I don’t think I’d want to do that, but I like it now. And I love my producers, who work hard on the show, and my bosses. They’ve had my back completely. Don Martin and Scott Shapiro are the best bosses I’ve ever had.
BN: You’ve been involved in a few controversies. I don’t want to get too personal, but how does it work at home? How does your wife handle some of the things you’ve been in the middle of?
CT: I think she was more nervous before I quote unquote “made it” with Outkick. Now, I don’t want to say that I could never work again because I’m obviously not that wealthy, but if suddenly I didn’t have any jobs from anybody other than Outkick, I would be perfectly fine for the rest of my life.
I think the fear on her part is she would say certainly much of being married to me is living in a constant fear that I’m going to say or do something that provokes an outrageous and outlandish reaction. I think that fear kind of diminishes every day, week, and month going forward because at this point I think my audience has got my back. I control so much of the means of my own distribution that what are they going to do? Just stop reading my articles on Outkick? Stop reading my tweets? Stop watching my Periscope and Facebook shows?
People who get mad at me fuel the people who like me. It’s a 50/50 universe. And so, the idea that somebody out there would decide, “I want to shut down Clay Travis. He shouldn’t be able to say or write what he says,” I think fuels the people that are out there that support me. I don’t think those people are ever going to leave. I just don’t worry about it. I’ve got a big audience and I think that audience has my back and won’t leave me as long as I continue to be smart, original, funny, and authentic.
I can’t speak to my wife’s day-to-day opinion of me. Like any wife I’m sure she’s frustrated and upset with her husband on a regular basis, but I don’t think it’s necessarily because of anything I’m doing in a professional context. Look, I’m a pretty good dad. I’m around my kids a lot. They don’t judge me for any of my public persona because they don’t listen to the show. The feedback that they get growing up in Nashville is phenomenal. We’ve got a huge fan base here. The kids, I don’t think anybody’s ever said anything bad to them. They’re like, “You’re dad’s Clay Travis. That’s awesome. I love the show. I love his site.” From their perspective, I think they genuinely believe everybody on Earth loves their dad because the negativity they’re not exposed to.
BN: Do you think that your style brings out more honesty and edge with the people around you on the show such as your producers, the board op, update guy and even your listeners?
CT: Well, I think honesty is rare. When you are honest, sometimes people are initially shocked by it, and they will follow it up with more honest responses than they would typically give. I think much of sports and sports talk radio is cliché now. To the extent you can break through the cliché with a direct honest opinion — I think that works to the benefit of the show whether it’s producing, callers or tweeters. I think all of that kind of melds together into a symphony of an outstanding way to spend the morning. Whether or not that’s the case, it’s ultimately for other people to judge, but that’s kind of my goal every morning.
BN: As far as approaching topics on a show, how do you decide what to focus on?
CT: I think I’m good at knowing what subjects people are going to care about. I think that comes from writing. I think that comes from being active on the internet. I think you can give me 10 subjects and I can say, “Okay, I can make these three interesting. And I have strong opinions on these three.” I don’t think it’s always the best subjects. I think it’s the subjects that you feel the strongest about.
For instance, as we’re having this conversation, I just finished the show a couple hours ago and this morning the baseball Hall of Fame vote came out. Some people will spend a lot of time talking about whether they think Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens should be in the Hall of Fame. I think the answer is yes, but I don’t find that to be a very interesting subject. Like okay, the answer is yes, and what then goes beyond that? I can talk about it, but I don’t particularly care. If I were in my car, I wouldn’t want to hear somebody talk about the same subject that has existed for what? 10 years? That’s been debated how should you consider steroids?
For the same reason I don’t do Michael Jordan versus LeBron James. There’s literally nothing that somebody can say about that subject interestingly until every year of LeBron James’ career is over. Then you can go back and say, “Okay, how does LeBron compare to Michael Jordan after 12 years” or whatever, but even in the middle of the summer when there’s nothing else going on, I don’t find that to be an interesting topic.
Now, I think much like with cable news, they have found out that you only want to talk about the three or four biggest stories in your mind in your world. That’s what I do. There are some people — we’ve got 12 segments in a three-hour show — there are some people who will come on with 10 or 12 different subjects and have their entire show kind of sketched out that way. I’ll rarely go more than four subjects total. And that’s because I think about if I’m in my car driving to work, do I want to hear Clay Travis talk about the three or four biggest stories in detail, or do I want to hear him touch on 12 stories? I want to hear the three or four biggest stories in detail, something that I care about on that day’s basis as opposed to just having somebody go all in on it.
The other thing is, we don’t have that many guests. A lot of people guest up. We don’t ever have a guest on Monday. There’s so much to react to during football season, I come on and I just talk. Usually, there’s a lot of stuff that happens over the weekend and on Mondays there are a lot of topics in general. It’s rare that we have more than two guests. In a three-hour show we might have a guest on for two segments. So that means we’ve got 10 segments to fill.
I’m not a big guest guy. I think people are tuning in because they want to hear what I have to say, or what people on the show have to say. I think they want to hear us talk about the biggest possible stories. That’s what I kind of work towards in the context of what the show structure should look like.
BN: What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now if you’re not waking up at 4:15 in the morning and getting pulled over by cops?
CT: I don’t know what I’m doing in six months. 10 years from now to me is so far in advance. The easy way to answer that is 10 years ago I was a 28-year-old who was publishing his first book. 13 years ago I was graduating from law school and never could’ve projected where I am today, not necessarily having to do with the success of it at all, just what I’m doing. I don’t think that I ever would’ve predicted that I’d be doing what I’m doing now. So a decade from now? I’ve got no idea. I just don’t want to die. I hope I’m still alive in ten years because I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think the next decade is going to be really fun.
Media Noise – Bob Costas (Part 1) – Episode 52
This is a real treat. It is part one of Demetri’s extended chat with the great Bob Costas! The two talk about the movie BASEketball, how Bob feels about the term “seam head” and so much more. Enjoy!
You Need A Little Devil In You To Prospect Properly
“Jones thinks it is impossible to prospect more than 18 customers, and I agree with him.”
Give the Devil his due. Speak of the Devil. Prospecting is the Devil’s work. And, now, thanks to sales author and speaker Phil M Jones, you have devilishly productive prospecting.
I ran across Jones after a recommendation from long-time radio sales trainer Chris Lytle. Jones has a smooth delivery complete with a British accent and focuses on training salespeople on what to say, when to say it, and even how. I have found him direct, simple to understand, and implement.
Recently, he deviated from our sales language and reminded us about his prospecting philosophy. So many of us relate cold calling with prospecting when, it could be reconnecting with orphan accounts, upselling current accounts, or approaching people you know but just haven’t done yet. And, yes, of course, it can involve approaching clients you don’t know.
When we first start as an AE, most of all we do is chase new prospects. Our list is anywhere from 60-100+ accounts, and our sales software can organize it a hundred different ways. As we progress, we get 20-30 accounts on the air with another 15-20 seasonal accounts, and then we have as many as 50 dead accounts. Here’s another way to do it. Cut it back to 18 total accounts. Jones thinks it is impossible to prospect more than 18 customers, and I agree with him.
After working with 2 million salespeople, Jones has found that there’s no way we can actively WORK more than eighteen accounts at a time. Jones says we should list 18 prospects who fit the descriptions of our perfect customer. It is easier to think about 18 prospects rather than 80. The list always stays at 18 as you drop off clients who say no or yes and replace them. The “devilish” tie-in here is that Jones organizes the prospects into three groups of six.
Get it? 6-6-6? Here they are:
Low Hanging Fruit
These six are ready to drop, and all you must do is line them up. These are prospects who can bill this month because it’s an easy decision for them. The billing number may not be that big, but it makes SENSE! The florist for a Valentine’s Day promo, a sporting goods store for a pro athlete remote, call-ins, referrals, or existing clients who are repeat business.
Gather six clients who fit the perfect description of a client. It could be one who listens to the station, sponsors a local team, or matches up with your personality well. One of the feelings that can overcome you is that YOU get to choose and are empowered when you invite them to do business with you.
These are dream clients. Think big budgets and big clients. Corporate clients, municipalities, or clients in high-rise office buildings, clients that it could take a year in your pipeline to even get an opportunity to present an annual budget. These accounts require you to get to know key decision-makers in that company, volunteer to be around them, whatever it takes. You can’t have 18 prospects like this BIG 6, or you won’t sell anything in the short term.
Your BIG 6 can move into a Low Hanging Fruit basket. Then, you need to replace them, and the Devil is in the details.
Q Myers Is Making People Part Of Something
“Everyone isn’t in the same cookie cutter and sound the same. Everyone has their own flavor and I think that’s a great thing.”
The goal was simple: To be the most popular hip-hop DJ in San Francisco. It was about as ambitious of a goal as there is in music radio, but for Qiant Myers, who goes by Your Boy Q, it was viewed as the top of the mountain. Anything less for the California kid would be viewed as a step down.
To chase that dream, Q started off as an intern at Wild 94.9 in San Francisco. He handed out prizes in the street, along with other entry level responsibilities. Though his duties were in no way glamorous, he knew immediately he wanted to be on the air at the same place he was at. But to do that, legendary Bay Area DJ Victor Zaragosa told him he’d have to leave the city and work his way back.
So he did. For the next few years, he went all over California to perfect his craft as a radio DJ. He left San Francisco for Stockton, then to Merced and Fresno for a job at Q97.1.
“That’s where I really started to get cooking,” said Q. “I even became the music director.”
As his career was starting to pick up, he left Fresno for a job in Monterey at a sister station of Q97.1. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great situation and he left shortly after arriving. He found himself back in Fresno working at Power 106, which was a small start-up. The station soon went under and he was out of a job. Just as Q was starting to hit his stride, he was out of radio.
He was on the sidelines for close to a year with a new job at FedEx. It wasn’t radio, but he was happy with the new gig and lifestyle. That’s when he got a call from the same person that gave him his last job in Fresno.
“He said, are you done with radio?” Q said. “I said if the right opportunity came along, sure, I’d take it. He told me he was starting a new station in Texas. No joke. That’s what he told me. As a West Coast dude I was thinking Dallas, Houston, San Antonio or even Austin.”
But the opportunity wasn’t in any of the major markets in Texas. Instead, it was in Waco, a college town situated 90 miles south of Dallas.
“The only thing I knew about Waco was things got burned there,” laughed Q. “I basically shut it down immediately.”
But a friend urged him that Waco was a college town that he might actually like. Q did some research and came to the conclusion it was a risk worth taking. The thought process was simple: What’s the worst that can happen? If things didn’t work out, he would just return to California and get his job back at FedEx.
Remember, even when he was out of radio, the goal was still San Francisco.
“I took a train from Fresno to Los Angeles to San Antonio and then Waco,” said Q. “It took like three days. I wouldn’t recommend that to anybody,”
Q got to work at the music station but quickly realized he didn’t like the set up for how things were operating. Having been at several stations already, he knew things weren’t going to work for the start-up station. That’s when a competing station in the market called.
“They called and said, hey, we’re really interested and you’re really good at what you do,” said Q. “I’ve never been a guy that’s crossed the street to the competition, my resume says that and I never want to be that guy, but what attracted me to this hip-hop station was the fact there was an ESPN radio affiliate in the building.”
That’s when he met David Smoak, arguably the most influential person in Q’s radio career. Their paths first crossed in 2010, when Smoak arrived in Waco to be the PD of ESPN Central Texas. From what Q understands, the station had reached a certain level, but Smoak’s arrival brought an instant credibility.
“People really started respecting that station,” said Q. “He was always really prideful and made sure the station sounded great.”
Q was at Power 108 but in 2011 he found himself inside the same building as Smoak. His life was changing and Q found more and more he wasn’t as passionate about hip-hop music as he had been earlier in his career.
Instead, a real interest in doing sports radio was beginning to form. He loved his west coast teams and was always passionate about sports, now he had the idea of doing it at the same building he was already employed at. So he brought a strategy to action. He started bugging Smoak in the hallway.
“I would tell him, hey man, it would be really cool to be on ESPN,” Q said. “I never really thought he was taking me seriously or that he ever heard me, but he was a really cool dude.”
”You could tell he loved sports,” said Smoak. “He was always talking about something going on in sports. He had an incredible passion for the NFL, but he was more than just that. He was one of those that always wanted to pick my brain.”
Smoak randomly called Q into his office to chat. He wanted to know if the hip-hop radio DJ wanted to do sports. Q’s pestering finally paid off. ESPN Central Texas was starting a new midday show and they wanted him to be a part of it. Obviously, Q was ecstatic but then Smoak mentioned something at the tail end of the conversation.
“Then he told me he didn’t have any money for me,” laughed Q.
“He always showed up and would do anything, even for just a segment, without getting a nickel,” Smoak said.
But that didn’t matter. In August of 2012, Q’s sports radio career began with no money attached. By October 2012, he found his way on the payroll. It was a testament to how quickly the company was impressed by his abilities.
For the next 18 months, he was doubling as a music DJ and sports radio host. Two shows a day was tough, especially doing a sports show in a market he wasn’t super familiar with, but he figured it out quickly and made it happen. Finally, in 2014, the parent company came to him with the option of going full-time at ESPN Central Texas. It was a no-brainer. Sure, the money still wasn’t great, but he didn’t care. It was done. Sports radio was now his sole professional focus.
Q never thought he would be in Waco for a decade, but that’s where he spent the most important stages of his radio career. He parlayed his experiences in central Texas, along with some podcasting and co-hosting opportunities outside of the market, to a job with Lotus Broadcasting in Las Vegas. Yet again, it took accepting host roles where he wasn’t getting paid, but his determination to get his voice in the market was a major reason why he’s now employed in the desert.
Q manages four different radio stations, as well as hosting at Raider Nation 920 and the Locked on Raiders podcast, among other things. He’s truly a do-it-all employee at Lotus Broadcasting.
“The biggest key is time management and I think that’s the one thing I’ve been really good at in my life,” Q said. “It’s tough and intense but luckily I have a great support staff, like my wife, who understands and supports everything I do.”
The goal is no longer San Francisco. Even though he was chasing the urge to get back to The Bay, a friend told him Vegas should be his priority. Why? His favorite team, the Raiders, are there. His mom is there and the market is exploding right now on the sports media front.
It seems Q always finds great advice from people. That’s a credit to the people he surrounds himself with. But the advice to leave San Francisco behind and pursue Vegas was one of the best things someone could have told him. He’s a PD and gets to cover his favorite NFL team on a daily basis. It’s not the dream job he was after, but the dream job found him.
“He just always wanted to soak in information about sports talk radio,” Smoak said. “He was always full throttle with his knowledge of sports and how much he wanted to talk about it. It just all came natural to him and the rest is history.
It’s hard to tell if Q is more talented as a PD or a host. He’s extremely gifted in both areas. His Locked on Raiders podcast is unique in the fact he takes calls and texts. Granted, they’re not live and previously recorded, but it’s a feature not common in the podcast space that’s really helped the growth of the show.
“I think people like to be a part of something,” Q said. “That’s what made me think that was a good idea. I found out you could put up a voicemail line attached to your Gmail. People call in and leave messages and I put them on the show. I treat the podcast the same way I do the radio show.”
You can also hear his show, Unnecessary Roughness, on Raider Nation 920 from 2-4 p.m. every weekday. Though his podcast and radio show are formatted in a similar manner, there are still a few things you’ll hear differently on terrestrial radio.
“Obviously, I’ll have more guests on the radio show,” said Q. “Even though it’s Raider Nation 920, I’ll talk UNLV, boxing, UFC, A’s potentially moving to Vegas, all of that.”
His podcast has actually helped his radio show. The following that he’s built on Locked on Raiders has started trickling over to his radio show. They’ll listen to his podcast in the morning and then his radio show in the afternoon.
Gambling talk is mixed in, sure, but he doesn’t hide he’s still not perfect when it comes to that type of content.
“I wasn’t really well-versed on sports gambling content and I’ll be honest, I’m not the most well-versed now,” said Q. “But I’m learning.’
Just like he did learning the landscape of Baylor athletics and high school football in central Texas, Q will undoubtedly figure out sports gambling, too. Granted his role doesn’t nearly require it as much as other sports media entities in the city, but it is an important piece in how the industry will evolve in the future.
Q has turned his previous passions of being a hip-hop DJ and moving back to San Francisco, into hosting sports radio shows and podcasts. He’s passionate about the city of Vegas and he’s passionate about being one of the few black PD’s in sports radio.
“I remember when Jason Barrett wrote an article about it and I was so all over it,” said Q. “I think it’s a need. What really opened my eyes was when I was in Texas and we’d go to Radio Row at the Super Bowl. There was literally a group of us that would get together and say, here are the African Americans that are on the radio that haven’t played the sport professionally in the state of Texas. There were like eight or nine of us and Texas is huge!
“I love the fact Lotus gave me that opportunity and they never hesitated. The more people that look like me that get more opportunities to show what we can do, I think it’s going to open the door for other people, as well. The more diverse the better, because it makes for better radio. Everyone isn’t in the same cookie cutter and sound the same. Everyone has their own flavor and I think that’s a great thing.”
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