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Cassidy Hubbarth is Focused on Engaging NBA Fans on ESPN

“When I look back on my career and I think, ‘What is the time when I was feeling at my best?,’ it was on the NBA Tonight desk.”

Derek Futterman




As a midfielder, Cassidy Hubbarth was responsible for contributing on offense and defense for the Evanston Wildkits soccer team – and she had to maintain her stamina in order to perform at a high level. Thanks to her play and that of her teammates, the group won the Illinois High School Association Class AA State Championship for the 2001-02 season. Throughout her time in high school, Hubbarth played more than just soccer, as she also developed her skills on the hardwood and followed the Chicago Bulls at the height of their dynasty led by Hall of Fame guard Michael Jordan.

Even though she enjoyed playing sports, Hubbarth knew from her time in middle school that she wanted to pursue a career in sports media. One day when she and her family were watching Fox NFL Sunday, Hubbarth found herself captivated by sideline reporter Pam Oliver and her role on the broadcast.

“I remember seeing her do a talkback interview with one of the players and it just kind of finally opened my eyes to, ‘I’m not just watching the game but I’m actually enjoying coverage about the game,’” Hubbarth recalled. “That’s the moment I decided that this is what I want to do. I honestly don’t think I thought of any other career after that point.”

Although she was an athlete, Hubbarth made sure she maximized the opportunities available to her at Evanston Township High School to hone her broadcasting skills. She was a member of the radio, television and film club in the school and also did play-by-play for boys basketball home games when she had time in her schedule.

Hubbarth had always looked to attend Northwestern University located in her hometown of Evanston, Ill.; however, her family did not have the necessary means to send her there. Because of this, she went to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as a freshman on several grants and worked at both the school’s radio and television stations. That year was especially difficult though because of her father’s diagnosis with throat cancer – and Hubbarth prioritized being there for her family through the arduous circumstance.

Fortunately, her father recovered from the disease and is a cancer survivor, but the hardship motivated Hubbarth and her family to find a way to afford tuition at Northwestern University. Once she was accepted, Hubbarth officially transferred as a sophomore to study within its acclaimed Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

During her time at the university, Hubbarth was a member of the Northwestern News Network and volunteered her time in the athletic department helping stream football press conferences. It was her earliest experience in digital media, an expansive niche in the industry that has been prominent throughout her career.

She received her first two jobs out of school from the university’s job fair – one as a traffic reporter and producer at WMAQ NBC5 Network in Chicago; the other as a producer and host for Intersport, a sports production company that created short content for Sprint Exclusive Entertainment on flip phones. Immediately working in both news and sports media, she gained unique perspectives and recognized the lack of dichotomy between these two ostensibly contrasting sectors of the industry.

“I think they kind of learn from each other [about] how to collect the right information and what question to ask [while] trying to capture the right emotions of certain stories,” Hubbarth said. “When it comes to that early part of my career, it was just kind of a grind doing traffic and really not knowing where the hell I was going but trying to tell people places to avoid. Then also working [in] sports media at Intersport, [I was] trying to figure out how sports media was changing digitally.”

Cassidy Hubbarth has been with ESPN since 2010 working on several signature properties most notably the NBA Photo ESPN Press Room

Hubbarth joined Comcast SportsNet Chicago in 2008 working as an associate producer with wide ranging tasks and responsibilities. The movement from optimizing sports stories and information for nonlinear digital platforms to contributing to live television broadcasts gave her a new perspective on the ferocity and efficiency required when working on a deadline.

Additionally, it helped her develop aplomb in these types of situations, burgeoning her overall versatility. She describes it as her “grad. school,” expanding on what she learned and experienced as an undergraduate student at Northwestern University.

“Cutting voiceovers; writing shot sheets; making sure I was on deadline and making sure there were no typos in the scripts for the anchors; these were things that I learned in school,” Hubbarth said. “As far as having the intensity and the pressure of live shows happening, that experience taught me a lot about live TV essentially and all the work that goes into putting together a live broadcast.”

Starting in fall 2009 though, she only worked at the outlet four days of each week, ending each Wednesday by taking a flight from Chicago to Atlanta This was to work her other job overseeing social media for SEC Gridiron Live on Fox Sports South, a studio show previewing the upcoming college football action in the Southeastern Conference. Then she would travel to an SEC school to be among the fans and film “Cassidy on Campus,” a digital segment for the show giving viewers an inside look at the game atmosphere.

“To be exposed to SEC football was a different beast and understanding that fandom and being able to capture that fandom on social media which is really what social media has done for sports fans – it’s allowed them to have a voice and a say basically in the coverage of their teams,” Hubbarth said. “….I created comment sections on our Facebook pages and I was trying to engage with viewers and break down that wall between viewers and our show.”

While she enjoyed the early part of her career working both in front of and behind the camera, Hubbarth always coveted covering basketball and bringing viewers stories to enhance broadcast coverage. It is what enthralled her to sports media in the first place – and she knew ESPN would be just the place to do it. Out of college, Hubbarth had considered applying to join the production assistant program at the network and moving to Bristol, Conn., but instead decided to take opportunities closer to home that allowed her to get on the air.

During her time working at both Comcast SportsNet Chicago and Fox Sports South, Hubbarth felt she had the momentum necessary to move upwards in the industry, perhaps at a national level. Her feelings were validated when she received a call from ESPN inquiring about her interest to join the network as an independent contractor to help develop its digital platforms. Once she auditioned and subsequently landed the job, she moved to Bristol, Conn. within a month and put the wheels in motion to excel in the next chapter of her career.

“It happened quick; it happened fast,” Hubbarth said. “….[I was] basically hosting the simulcast of our college football games and college basketball games on ESPN3 before we had the app. As ESPN was launching their digital streaming network, I was essentially the face of it.”

From her early days at ESPN, Hubbarth established professional relationships with her colleagues and found mentors to help ease the transition in leaving her home market to join a distinctive, national brand. When Hubbarth was young, she found inspiration for watching Erin Andrews and Michele Tafoya work as sideline reporters on NFL broadcasts, reporting on what would otherwise perhaps be concealed storylines.

At ESPN, Stuart Scott, a longtime SportsCenter anchor who passed away from appendiceal cancer in 2015, had a profound impact on Hubbarth and encouraged her through his work ethic and dedication to the craft to endure and chase her dreams.

“I think so many times when I would be talking to him in the hallways at ESPN and he would not be feeling well and dealing with just all the emotions going in his head with his daughters and his health,” Hubbarth said. “He would step on to that studio floor, the light would go on and he would absolutely give it his all until the light went off.

“You could see that it was taking so much out of him, but it was also giving him so much that he took so much pride and so much joy into this business – which is such a gift to be able to do. I try to remind myself of that in times where I’m dragging or not feeling grateful for the opportunity I have.”

After hosting various shows across the network including Highlight Express with Jorge Andres; SportsNation with Christian Fauria and Jarrett Payton; The Word with Jemele Hill and Sarah Spain; and various digital series including This Day in Sports History, College Football 411 and NBA 411, Hubbarth made the move to covering the Association on a full-time basis.

In 2013, then-ESPN NBA coordinating producer Bruce Bernstein gave her the chance to host NBA studio coverage on both NBA Tonight and NBA Coast to Coast. At this stage of her career, Hubbarth was living out her dream – covering basketball nationally and serving as a vital part of the network to guide discussion and debate, informing and entertaining viewers.

ESPN NBA host and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth has grown into her role with the networks coverage Photo ESPN Images

Over the years, she has worked with various analysts on these programs including P.J. Carlesimo, Chauncey Billups and Ohm Youngmisuk, and helped broaden her skill set on linear programming.

“The NBA is my favorite sport and it’s always been my favorite sport,” Hubbarth said. “….When I look back on my career and I think, ‘What is the time when I was feeling at my best?,’ it was on the NBA Tonight desk.”

Although both shows taped their final episodes in 2016, Hubbarth has continued to find opportunities to appear on the linear side of programming. Over the years, Hubbarth has served as a guest host across ESPN’s programming portfolio on shows including Get Up, First Take and SportsCenter, and has also contributed to Mike & Mike, a discontinued sports talk radio show that featured Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg and was simulcast on ESPN2.

“I’ve hosted basically every single show at ESPN except for NFL Countdown and College GameDay,” Hubbarth said. “I feel confident I can host anything in terms of seriousness or as formal as it needs to be…. I like to have a little bit more fun; have it be a little bit more loose; have it be more casual; more conversational. That’s typically my style.”

Part of that confidence was fostered in 2015 when Hubbarth was assigned to host Baseball Tonight. While she possessed knowledge about the game of baseball growing up as a fan of the Chicago Cubs, it was not her strength. As a result, the initial days hosting the show engendered anxiety resulting in her experiencing eye twitches because she never felt prepared enough for the show, which operated without a rundown.

Thanks to the team of analysts, producers and other ESPN personnel, Hubbarth assimilated into the role and consequently, started to feel increased sanguinity with each repetition.

“It got to a point at the end of the summer where I felt really, really confident that I could handle that desk. I was no Karl Ravech out there – I’m not saying I was good at it – but I think I did a decent job and I think I served the viewers, and I walked away from that experience very proud of myself. If I just work hard, put my mind to it and respect the role, I can do any job they put in front of me.”

Following that summer, in which she simultaneously hosted NFL Insiders and NFL Live, Hubbarth began hosting college football coverage on ESPN and ABC. She also explored the aural space, appearing on the NBA Lockdown podcast with Jorge Sedano and Amin Elhassan and on the first all-female ESPN podcast, The Hoop Collective, on Mondays with Ramona Shelburne and Chiney Ogwumike.

Today, she contributes to both NBA Countdown and NBA Today while covering the Association as a sideline reporter on-site during NBA on ESPN broadcasts.

Whether it has been LeBron James, Luka Dončić or Damian Lillard, Hubbarth has interviewed a countless number of NBA players, coaches and team personnel before, after and sometimes during games. In having this type of access, she strives to enrich viewers with contextual information through enterprising stories and using her journalistic instincts to identify focal points, applying her vast preparation to the specific nature of her job.

“It’s understanding what teams are dealing with and making sure as the game’s going on, how those stories can best be told that compliments the viewing experience and doesn’t distract from it,” Hubbarth said. “That’s always a delicate dance of doing sideline because you can prepare a million stories, but if it’s not in the natural flow of the game, then you’re not really helping the broadcast; you’re just helping yourself.”

The NBA is genuinely a year-round league, piquing interest from consumers whether or not games are happening. Social media is a new content avenue that has given fans unprecedented levels of freedom to curate the content they are exposed to and consume on a daily basis.

Moreover, it has afforded them the chance to consume content related to basketball culture, something that was, for a long time, principally covered through magazines and other sports lifestyle media outlets. Today, the culture of the game has become just as prominent as the games themselves; therefore, consumers are hungry for content pursuant to their interests.

ESPN+ is the company’s direct-to-consumer subscription-based streaming platform, and Hubbarth is a regular part of its NBA coverage hosting various digital shows related to the Association.

Before its launch in the second quarter of 2018, she was hosting shows designed for social media platforms, including SportsCenter on Snapchat and Buckets on Twitter, the latter which was co-hosted by Rob Perez. She also hosted SneakerCenter, a seven-part mini-series on ESPN+ underscoring the influence of sneaker culture in basketball at large.

“There’s so much content outside the lines of the game that it just continues to snowball for NBA fans who just can’t get enough,” Hubbarth said. “I think that’s at the heart of the success and then also the clips that you see on Twitter are easily digestible.”

Starting in 2018, ESPN+ launched Hoop Streams, a live, digital pregame show that takes place on-site supplementing its linear, national broadcast coverage before select matchups. Hubbarth has been the host of the show since its inception and is joined by a rotating cast of the network’s personalities, some of whom include Chiney Ogwumike, Kendrick Perkins, Gary Striewski and Jorge Sedano.

Before the suspension of the 2019-20 NBA season, the show was averaging 1.6 million streams per episode, reaching an all-time high of 2.4 million streams in February 2020.

Cassidy Hubbarth has hosted virtually every show at ESPN during her run with the company Photo ESPN Images

This season, Hubbarth has helped launch her third digital show with ESPN/ESPN+ in the last five years; this one is called NBA Crosscourt. Co-hosted by Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, the production is pre-recorded and streams on ESPN+ on Wednesdays and Fridays, bringing fans focused digital coverage of the league.

Moreover, the program utilizes ESPN’s coast-to-coast network of NBA contributors to provide viewers with a genuine panorama across the league featuring compendious local and national perspectives tailored to the wide array of fan interests.

“We are following the trends and culture of the NBA – and the culture of talking about the NBA,” Hubbarth said. “….Our main goal is not to inform; it’s to engage. That’s what this show is; it’s just to engage the NBA fan in you who is informed and taking [very] informed viewership to engage with just your excitement about the league.”

Last season, Hubbarth continued working on ESPN’s coverage of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, an exhibition contest featuring former NBA stars and personalities from the worlds of pop culture, sports and entertainment. She had worked as the event’s sideline reporter and host for many years, but largely interviewed event participants throughout the broadcast. This year, she continued to host coverage but, unlike in years past, provided play-by-play amid conversation with analysts Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson.

“Us having fun on the air watching, I think, kind of breeds hopefully [the] viewers having fun watching it,” Hubbarth said. “That’s the whole point; the whole weekend is just the celebration of the league; a celebration of basketball, and…. I think not taking it [too] seriously is part of the way of being professional about it.”

As Cassidy Hubbarth continues hosting and reporting for ESPN, she looks forward to continuing to pioneer the growing emphasis on digital, direct-to-consumer content taking place throughout the sports media landscape. Launching her career working primarily behind-the-scenes amplified her viewpoint of the industry, and she makes it a point to understand everyone’s roles and the way sports media is changing at large.

“Take a professional approach just to how this business continues to grow because that will give you a leg up as employers are trying to figure out how they can continue to gain new viewers because that’s what everyone is looking for,” Hubbarth said. “….I had a genuine interest in how media was changing digitally. It allowed me to not just ride a wave, but to be a part of the wave.”

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Ian Rapoport Is Competing Against Everyone

“When I’m working, when I’m not working – my brain is still going on overdrive.”

Derek Futterman




The 2023 NFL Draft was a weekend filled with speculation, intrigue and musing among football fans and experts alike. After two quarterbacks were selected with the first two picks – C.J. Stroud by the Jacksonville Jaguars; and Bryce Young by the Houston Texans – Ian Rapoport had the inclination that something was about to break at the event in Kansas City.

The third pick of the night was held by the Arizona Cardinals, but through previous intel, Rapoport knew there was a chance the team would trade it. His phone then lit up with a text message from a source that simply read, “Texans trading.” Receiving a message of this magnitude takes years of networking, credibility and immense trust from the people you cover. Rapoport has worked hard to attain all of them. 

He replied by asking, “Did the Texans trade up to three?,” as the team was not set to pick again until No. 12 overall. Once he got confirmation of the scenario, he began to visibly shake in excitement and captured the attention of the NFL Network team.

“I sit there with a camera in front of me that’s not always on air – this is during the Draft – and the producer gets in my ear and he goes, ‘Can you go on air with whatever you have?,’ and I just say, ‘Yes.’” Rapoport recalled. “And then I hear Rich Eisen go, ‘Ian, you have news,’ and I was able to break that the Texans have traded up to three to go get Will Anderson.”

This is the craft through which Rapoport has cultivated a successful journalism career, ultimately distinguishing him as NFL Network’s goto insider. He hardly ever separates himself from the job, equipped with an unparalleled work ethic to ensure he can communicate messages accurately and in a timely manner. While some people may argue that he is in direct competition with others in his position, such as Adam Schefter of ESPN, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports, the reality of the situation is that it is Rapoport vs. the world.

“It’s such a small world now and everyone is interconnected – and with Twitter, literally anyone could break a story and have it go viral,” Rapoport said. “Obviously, you want everything first, but really you’re competing against everyone that exists because anyone could get the story at any moment.”

Work-life balance in such a role is usually quite insurmountable in today’s dynamic, interminable breaking news environment. Rapoport strives to find some level of normalcy in his life by playing golf and attending his sons’ sporting events. In the end though, he knows the world of football never sleeps, and it is up to him to remain in the know at all hours of the day, essentially always on standby to break the next big story.

“I do not turn my phone off because that’s actually way more stressful,” Rapoport said. “At least now when my phone’s on and near me, if something crazy happens, I can react rather than having a fake relaxation moment and then being caught off guard with something.”

Rapoport recognized that journalism was the field for him almost immediately after stepping onto the Columbia University campus. He worked his way up at The Dial to ultimately become its associate sports editor. In the summer preceding his senior year, he landed a coveted internship with ESPN where he gained invaluable experience in the world of television production. 

By the time he graduated, Rapoport envisioned himself becoming a nationally acclaimed sportswriter, but he knew it was going to require he start small. Three hundred eleven job applications and two interviews later, he landed a part-time role with The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y. covering high school sports. It gave him a start in the highly-competitive business – and kept him close to home while trying many new things.

Two years later, he found himself moving from the bright lights of New York City to the quaint town of Starkville, Mississippi for a notable opportunity. He had landed a job covering the Mississippi State Bulldogs for The Clarion-Ledger in the nearby capital city of Jackson and was under the direction of sports editor Rusty Hampton.

“I knew how to write, but I really didn’t know how to report,” Rapoport said. “He was probably the best [at] showing me, ‘This is all about reporting. It’s all about telling people something they don’t know rather than how well you can pen a sentence.’ To be really valuable to society or your newspaper, you really need to inform rather than entertain. I think he was probably the first and best person to teach me that.”

After spending two years in Mississippi, Rapoport became a beat reporter for The Birmingham News tasked with following the Alabama Crimson Tide. Just months into his new role, the program made a coaching change and hired Nick Saban, who has since led the program to six national titles. 

Rapoport learned the thoroughness necessary to cover the Southeastern Conference as he rapidly watched the program become a perennial contender. In turn, he became an eminent college football reporter and his work began to be consumed nationally.

Simultaneously, Bill Belichick, another accomplished football head coach in his own right, was in the process of trying to lead the New England Patriots back to championship glory. Known to be stoic and restrained in his press conferences, reporters asking him questions knew extrapolating answers was not the easiest of tasks. 

When Rapoport saw a job opening to cover the team with the Boston Herald that required NFL experience, he knew that he was not qualified verbatim per se. Yet he figured the experience he had in covering Saban and Alabama would serve him well in the role, and articulated such in a protracted email to the newspaper’s editors. His strategy worked, proving why Rapoport is considered one of the industry’s best communicators at the micro and macro levels.

“You don’t see a lot of sources within the Patriots or sources within Alabama – there’s not a lot of that,” Rapoport said. “So I learned to report despite that and kind of work the edges and get the information I needed, despite head coaches who weren’t always the most forthcoming with information.”

NFL Network oftentimes has local beat reporters on the air to interact with studio talent and give their perspectives about teams, and it was something Rapoport did while at the Boston Herald. He had no television experience outside of other appearances he made on Comcast New England and certainly no intention to pursue the medium as a career. 

In Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants overcame the New England Patriots, who were undefeated for the year entering the game. Rapoport was on hand for the proceedings, and shortly afterwards was called into a meeting with NFL Network executives. 

He didn’t know he was interviewing for a job until he asked just why he had been summoned. He expressed his lack of television experience to the executives, who said the network would teach him everything he needed to know. 

Once the meeting concluded, Rapoport called his wife, who he had met while living in Starkville, Mississippi, and told her what had just happened. She tempered his expectations, warning him not to get his hopes up as he remained optimistic. One month later, Rapoport received a job offer and found himself moving once again – this time to the Lone Star State.

“I hired an agent and moved to Dallas and basically spent the next year reporting on the Cowboys and some other things being very, very bad at TV, but learning and eventually figuring it out,” Rapoport said. “At the time, this guy, Eric Weinberger, who was our boss, kind of mentioned to me the possibility of transitioning [me] from reporter to insider.”

Rapoport acknowledged that he did not have the contacts necessary to effectively work as a league insider for a national outlet, but through his years of experience, he knew how to network and he was ready and willing to take the challenge. 

Once he began the new position, Rapoport, along with reporter Michael Silver, was on the road for Thursday Night Football and contributed to its pregame and halftime coverage. While his television skills improved, Rapoport was hard at work bolstering his contacts and took somewhat of a geographical approach. 

Every time he arrived in a new city, he would contact anyone and everyone he could conjure up, including general managers, scouts and head coaches. If he could not schedule a meeting time with them, he would introduce himself by roaming the sidelines at practices and before games. He engaged in a similar practice before the NFL Draft Combine, training camps and the Super Bowl along with other premier events, always staying focused on the task at hand.

“It probably took me five or six years to get a baseline of sources where if something happened, I had someone to call,” Rapoport said. “And then it took me a couple more years to get to the point where I would know before a lot of people when something was about to happen. It’s all a multi-step process, and just [the] layering and layering and layering of sources is really the sort of engine that drives this thing.”

Ian Rapoport always attempts to triangulate his sources to verify information before he releases it publicly. There is no guarantee sources are always truthful or acting in a professional manner. Therefore, it is incumbent on a journalist to ensure the validity of content before publishing it themselves. 

“If you’re only right some of the time, then none of it is really worth it,” Rapoport expressed, “because then you say something and they’re like, ‘Well, wow, that’s a big story if this is true.’ The whole point of doing this is when I pop up on TV or when people see my Twitter alerts or whatever, they have to know that it’s true – they have to know.”

One day, Rapoport was having a conversation with a source and discovered through their conversation that Rob Gronkowski had informed the New England Patriots that he would return to the game of football under the stipulation he be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reunite with quarterback Tom Brady. There had been much speculation pertaining to Gronkowski’s future after he had worked as an NFL analyst with FOX Sports, and now Rapoport realized he had a monumental scoop – that is, if it was true. Within six minutes, Rapoport verified the story with three sources, contacted his editor and reported to the world Gronkowski’s intentions. The story was picked up virtually everywhere.

“I just think about the job all the time, and I make little lists for myself of things that I need to track down, and I just make a lot of phone calls for it,” Rapoport said. “When I’m working, when I’m not working – my brain is still going on overdrive. It ends up just a brain full of football thoughts, and then I spend the rest of the time trying to figure out what I can learn from it.”

Working for a league-owned entity can sometimes epitomize an inherent conflict of interest. For Rapoport however, he has found working at NFL Network to be hassle-free. He knows, however, the nature of his job means he will not be universally liked.

“Whatever you do, you’re going to report and the people you report on are going to be happy or upset or neutral – or whatever it is,” Rapoport said. “I’m never going to criticize a referee, for instance, because that’s a nuanced thing and people might say, ‘NFL criticizes referees.’ I’m never going to do that, but I wouldn’t do that anyway.”

Rapoport continues to appear on a variety of external media outlets, perhaps most notably The Pat McAfee Show, which recently concluded its “Up to Something Season.” The grand conclusion of the proceedings was McAfee announcing he would be bringing his show to ESPN’s linear and digital platforms starting in the fall. 

While McAfee is retaining creative control and has expressed on multiple occasions that his show will not be changing, many have wondered whether insiders employed by other networks will be able to continue making appearances. It is an answer Rapoport himself does not know, nor has he asked about.

“When the news broke, my phone blew up with all sorts of people saying all sorts of different things,” Rapoport said. “I have no idea. I really don’t.”

Even so, Rapoport is elated for McAfee and his team taking the next step in their show’s journey and is genuinely glad to see them succeed. He does not think McAfee’s goal was to reshape sports media, but rather to cultivate a distinctive sports talk program built for fans and today’s generation of consumers.

“You get to know someone and you think they’re a good person and you respect the way they work. Some people have success and some people have a little success and some people don’t. It’s really rare to see someone who has every bit of success that’s essentially possible and deserves every bit of it, and that’s kind of how I thought about Pat. It’s really cool, honestly. He’s built it himself.”

It was on McAfee’s show where another prominent football insider – Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports – said it would be a matter of “when,” not “if” the NFL would have games seven days per week. While devoted football fans like Rapoport are open to such a proposition, he is not sure the league would ever go that far. 

“I don’t even know that it would affect my schedule that much,” he said. “It sort of doesn’t matter. I’ll report all year round anyway.”

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Face-to-Face Sales Meetings Have Never Been More Valuable

“With the increase in virtual meetings, new buyer preferences, limited time, and better tech, we have our work cut out to get the F2F.”

Jeff Caves




When did you last attend a face-to-face (F2F) in-person sales call? Let’s imagine for a second.

In New York, Sarah, a determined sports radio salesperson, got tired of chasing a major client for months. Despite her calls, emails, and text, she couldn’t break through to get a meeting. 

Throwing caution to the wind, Sarah decided to go for it. She loaded her deck and took her burning desire via airplane to Florida to make the pitch. She showed up unannounced at the client’s office and startled the decision-maker. She was given the meeting and won over the client, getting a substantial annual contract and a movie deal in Hollywood. 

We have all seen that storyline. F2F meetings used to be the obvious choice over a phone call, and most buyers were open to that idea. We even conducted market trips to meet our buyers in person and create better relationships. 

With the increase in virtual meetings, new buyer preferences, limited time, and better tech, we have our work cut out to get the F2F. Lots of us work and listen from home. 

Gartner Research points out that live, in person selling is superior to virtual selling in financial services or, as I think, in radio sales. Now, prospecting new clients F2F is much more difficult. You have never met them, you don’t know who you are looking for, and gatekeepers and remote decision-makers make walk-ins more challenging. 

How about getting out and seeing your current or former clients F2F? 65% of outside account executives attain quota, 10% more often than inside reps. Here are some simple strategies to get outside and F2F:


Turn the sales faucet on ‘drip’ and contact your current clients with whatever works: phone calls, emails, or texts. Tell them you are checking in to see if anything has changed, give them a local business lead, or share your latest insight on their favorite team. When doing so, tell them you want to meet F2F and go deep into the next quarter’s ad plan or a new idea to get them back on the air. They may start looking forward to your communication. 


Schedule an annual review ahead of their busiest time of year to review the upcoming messaging in ads. Go over what worked or didn’t last year. Share a success story of a similar advertiser in another market or show them a new opportunity that fits. 

Be upfront that with F2F, we can get more specific, work with better feedback, and partner on hitting their goals. Be the person who looks ahead and helps keep your client focused.


Organize workshops for your current clients. Teach that about streaming, OTT, or Google ads. Get your digital person involved. Let them know you are bringing in other local businesspeople they may want to know or network with and meet F2F! A Mortgage broker may want to meet a realtor who wants to meet a wealthy local businessperson interested in meeting the local head coach. Stand out as a leader in the industry and watch clients brag about working with you. 


Attend trade shows where your current clients will be. This will show you are serious about their business and want to stay current so you can learn and earn. Set up a meeting over coffee or a drink. Share what you learned. 


Client Appreciation Events held at your town’s most meaningful events or places. Do whatever it takes to get hospitality tents at big games and concert suites to show appreciation and bond with your current clients. Host a luncheon at the hottest new local restaurant. Focus on providing an atmosphere or experience everyone wants, but not many can attend. Be the exclusive person in town.


Leverage your existing client relationships to seek referrals. Do it in person. Tell them you want to see them and ask for help and advice. Ask for introductions to potential new clients they know, and you will be surprised how much they like working with you. 


Bring your Digital manager to them and do a free review of their SEO, PPC, whatever. Working off your client’s pc and bringing them an expert at no charge or obligation is much easier. Watch your partnership grow by providing so much expertise at no extra expense. 

Don’t forget the value of F2F meetings. It’s a great way to build trust, connect, and unlock new opportunities. We are in a people business doing business with tons of local directs who still make most of their money serving retail customers F2F. Let’s get out and sell! 

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All Jason Timpf Needed Was A Moment of Clarity

“I didn’t know it until after I was hired, but they said they played my video for Colin and he knew right away that I could do this.”

Tyler McComas




There was once a time when Jason Timpf always included Colin Cowherd in his commute to work. As he made his morning drive to a sales job at Verizon, The Herd was appointment listening each morning for Timpf. The ex-college basketball player would marvel at Cowherd’s ability to make relatable references and break down all of the same basketball games he would watch the night before. 

One of the unique things Timpf can remember from listening to The Herd during that time was Cowherd saying if FOX ever put someone in front of him, he could tell in five seconds if that individual had the skills to be a host. It was far from a hot take on the Lakers, but still a distinct moment that stuck with Timpf for many years. Little did he know at the time but Cowherd would soon give a five-second evaluation of Timpf’s career.

Jason Timpf was a late-bloomer in basketball. He played college hoops at an NAIA school in Utah, but not until his third year, after being a regular student the first two. After graduating, he pursued a basketball career overseas in India. However, after the league folded, he left the game for a normal job in the States.

There was a real desire for Timpf to get into the sports media business, but he was having difficulties finding the right fit. He wanted advice on the best way to start, but the tips he received just didn’t feel like the right initial path.

“I’d hear, hey, go bang on a radio station’s door and ask if you can work the soundboard,” said Timpf. “Or, try to go to a journalism school. Another big one that everyone was doing was the SB Nation blogs and FanSided blogs. I briefly tried to do that a little bit. But none of it was materializing the way that I had hoped.”

But then the lightbulb went off for Timpf and it happened during the middle of a podcast interview. In October of 2020, Jason Maples of Blue Wire reached out to Timpf to talk hoops on his podcast. It was in the middle of that interview when it all made sense. It felt exactly like the camaraderie he enjoyed with his old teammates and friends talking basketball. It was relaxed, fun and what he used to do for enjoyment. The perfect fit had just found Timpf organically. 

“It was, ‘this is it,’” said Timpf. “‘This is how I want to do it.’ It was like a moment of clarity. Like, this is the way I want to talk about the game. Fortunately, I was working in real estate at the time, so I was super flexible, so I literally was just trying to fake it until I made it.”

While Timpf was grinding away on his new platform choice, he was constantly putting out his content on social media. For a handful of years, he had used Twitter as an outlet for basketball talk – not because he was trying to build his brand, but because it was his preferred method of sharing his takes during and after basketball games. 

“My wife actually played basketball in college but she, like a lot of people, got out of it and was like, ‘actually I’m so sick of basketball, since it’s all I did growing up, that I’d rather not talk about it,’” laughed Timpf. 

As Timpf had built up years of basketball takes on Twitter, he also built up followers. Not a crazy amount, but enough to have regular interactions with several basketball fans. He had no idea at the time, though he remembers occasionally interacting with him, but one of his followers in the beginning was Logan Swaim, who just happens to be Head of Content at The Volume.

Being such a huge fan of Cowherd, Timpf was absolutely familiar with The Volume, a company started by the FOX Sports Radio host. In fact, during his first plunge into podcasts, he quickly took note of how much success The Volume was having with instant reaction and video content. He wanted to emulate what they were doing and would host a Twitter Space after each Lakers game.

Swaim kept up with Timpf’s journey and continued to be impressed with what he saw. He was so impressed, in fact, that a video eventually made it in front of Cowherd’s eyes. It was the moment Timpf had always heard about while driving to his job at Verizon. Cowherd was about to make a declaration on Timpf’s abilities. 

“I didn’t know it until after I was hired, but they said they played my video for Colin and he knew right away that I could do this,” Timpf said. “That was a huge boost of confidence for me, because it meant somebody I deeply respected believed I could work in this business.”

Timpf made his dream come true. He was offered a job by The Volume hosting Hoops Tonight. As much of a dream as it was when he was initially hired, the experience since has been nothing but ideal for Timpf. He gets to cover his favorite sport the way he wants to cover it. 

“When I first started and Logan and I were structuring out the show, he kinda viewed it as my show would be the slower, more methodical pace, where I work through my thought process of a game. And also that I’d be a guest on other Volume shows for more conversational podcasts. I really wanted to break down pick and roll coverage. It’s just going to take me a while, so trying to do that in a debate show format or conversational format can get hard. It’s a place where I can let more of my crazy depth out. And I can also have a side format where it’s more conversational.”

Timpf has learned prep for podcasts is one of the biggest elements to being successful. As Hoops Tonight continues to draw impressive numbers over audio and YouTube, he’s figured out the best method to prepare for a long-form podcast where he’s hosting solo. 

“I digest the game from the simple concept of how the game was won,” said Timpf. “Where was it won? There’s 100-something possessions in this game, there’s seven different storylines and several runs and sequences and sways in momentum, but what’s the one? Usually I’ll target that first in the opening segment of the show.

“While I’m watching the game I’ll take ancillary notes. About five minutes before I record, I sift through everything I’ve written down and limit it down to the things I think are most important. But generally the flow of the show is how the game was won.”

The whole experience has been gratifying and a full-circle moment in many ways for Timpf. Not only has it been vindicating to do things his way and see it become a success, but he’s gotten to do it with someone who he considers an idol.

Sure, Timpf always envisioned growing up he would be talking to Cowherd as a pro athlete, but talking to him as a colleague is certainly the next best thing. So when he got the call to talk with Cowherd during last year’s West Conference Finals, he didn’t hesitate.

“I was so incredibly nervous, as you could imagine,” laughed Timpf. “But I immediately remember him making me feel comfortable and confident. It immediately calmed me down.

“This is probably my favorite part of the entire experience, I think a lot of people think that these networks try to shove people in certain directions and The Volume has given me such freedom to cover the game exactly the way I want to and nobody is telling me to say crazy stuff. Nobody is pushing me in certain directions, it’s like total creative freedom. The way that Logan and Colin have been letting me do me, so to speak, has been so cool. To see my version of what I want it to look like makes me feel vindicated for talking about it the way I want to.”

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