Kamenetzky bros create mini-media empire
(January 14, 2011) The Brothers Kamenetzky have this novel idea.
It involves taking a blog they've been crafting on the Lakers for the past five-plus seasons and squishing into as many multi-tasking, double-helix platforms as today's technology will allow.
With ESPN fully ingrained in their DNA, Andy and Brian Kamenetzky's weekend sports-talk show called "ESPNLA On Air," as well as their contributions to the "Lakers Zone" pregame talk on KSPN-AM (710), are the most visible parts of this burgeoning mini-media empire. It's how a once-bartender and former school teacher can morph into a dual 24/7 career, enjoyably juggling all the elements together as one small happy family.
"To their credit, having put us both through college, our parents are extremely supportive of the fact that neither of us have seemed to have a real job," Brian, who at 35 is about 3 1/2 years younger than Andy, was saying the other day after the two wrapped up a half-hour podcast in the KSPN studios at L.A. Live and were about to head across the street to Staples Center to do a live chat while witnessing the Lakers' destruction of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With all the places one can go now to digest Laker information, the Kamenetzky's approach - attention to detail while covering the team as credentialed journalists, while
adding their own snarky, smart commentary propped up by whatever pop culture or deadpan line that comes out of their comedy-writing heads - deftly cuts through the clutter and rises above the noise.
Their regular Saturday show (now noon-2 p.m.) might spray to all fields, but their Laker-centric observations play well into their strengths.
It's a sibling tag-team that might draw a Darwinistic natural comparison to another famous ESPN brother act - Randy and Jason Sklar.
Do they know each other? Funny you should ask.
Andy Kamenetzky went to elementary school with the Sklar twins while growing up in St. Louis and was often mistaken as a third brother. It got so confusing when the three were together the Sklar's mother made Andy a T-shirt that read: "I'm not a Sklar."
Andy went off to USC to major in theatre arts, with the goal of acting as well as screenwriting. Brian graduated from Vanderbilt with a history and poli-sci degree, then moved to L.A. to join Andy in their career pursuit. Whatever that might be.
While attending a Sklar comedy act at an L.A. club, the Kamenetzkys were introduced to an ESPN magazine editor and started submitting pieces to the publication. One of them, a feature on the bass fishing exploits of Mike Iaconelli ("Fishing on the Edge"), evolved into a 2005 book.
The Kamenetzkys parlayed that into a four-year blogging gig at the Los Angeles Times, while also doing work for ESPN.com and co-hosting with Steve Mason on his short-lived afternoon solo show.
When ESPN launched its Los Angeles-only website last year, they came on board, marketing themselves as a two-for-one kind of package deal.
Their on-air chemistry might be a product of their upbringing - there's enough distance in years to make things easier on their relationship while also being supportive.
"We always got along probably because we didn't have a lot of overlap growing up," said Brian, who lives with his wife and 1-year-old in West Hollywood. "He wasn't around for those `prime arguing' years when we were both teenagers. Plus, he set a very low bar - all I had to do was make decent grades. He took the bullet for a lot of stuff."
Adds Andy, living in the mid-Wilshire district with his wife, who is expecting: "We had the occasional fistfight, but I gave him my ID when I turned 21. What could have been a better present?"
With an ever-changing media landscape for the Kamenetzkys to conquer - including a new Facebook postgame chat - their foray into podcasting has naturally energized and polished up their sports-talk venture. They've been able to try some material out on the podcast - even edit something out that didn't fly - before it pops back into their heads during their live radio show. The podcast, conversely, allows them to go off onto as many commercial-free tangents as they like.
"It lets us push the envelope," Andy said. "We've been able to work in some running jokes - like some Nic Cage soundbites - that we just find to be hysterical. But the live radio show is really a fun challenge. We don't want to sound like everyone else, all blustery or hyperbole, or it would sound fake."
Added Brian: "For us, the radio show fits in well with what we're doing. And whatever voice we've started on the blog and the podcast, we have to continue on the radio. And the worst thing is to pretend you know something - you don't have to be the expert or someone will call you out on it.
Andy popped back in: "As we do more and more radio, find our voice and style and keep honing it, it'll get better and better. If we pretend to be more than we are, we'll just be transparent."
That could be an unwise wisecrack in the genetic code.
Read more at the Los Angeles Daily News where this story was originally published.
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