How to fearlessly host a sports talk show solo

Thanksgiving Day 2003 was when I learned the difference between co-hosting a sports talk show and doing it solo. After co-hosting several shows on the old XTRA Sports 690 in San Diego, I was thrown on the air alone.

I had used everything I had prepared for a particular segment yet there were still several minutes left before break.

Now what? I was terrified.
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Don’t let haters prompt you to change your broadcasting style

A college football broadcaster was in his second season with a new university. Message board trolls were complaining that he wasn’t enough of a homer on his broadcasts.

“The guy I replaced was not good with the fundamentals of play-by-play,” he said. “He was a big time homer who could complain about the officials and act like the game was a funeral if the team was losing. You could go 20 minutes without knowing the time and score, or even which teams were playing.”

School officials were pleased with the new broadcaster. Still he wondered, “Do I keep doing my thing and hope people get used to it, or should I be more clear than I root, root, root for the home team?”
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This was my pre on-air routine. What’s yours?

Last weekend, I heard Jay Z’s song Izzo (H to the Izz-o, V to the Izz-A). Immediately, a flood of memories came rushing to mind. When I was the host of ESPN Radio’s weekend overnights, Izzo was one of several songs my producer would play for me in the final 15 minutes before air.

Just as it is for athletes, music was part of our show’s pregame routine. (Jason McBride was our producer; Brian Fitzgerald our board-op. LOVED working with those guys). The songs simultaneously relaxed me and fired me up. Jason wouldn’t start playing them until all of our show prep was complete.
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Two top tips for solo sports talk hosts

Someone I know recently hosted a sports talk show solo for the first time. He had co-hosted for years but this was his first time working alone. He said he realized the difference with about two minutes left in his opening monologue. He had run out of stuff to say.

solo-sports-talk

They were the longest two minutes of his life.
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Surprise! One thing you don’t need to be a great sports talk host

A sports talk host recently contacted me feeling somewhat frustrated. He had chosen a segment from his show that he wanted to use on his demo, but it included a predication that turned out to be wrong. I asked him if the segment was entertaining. He said yes. I said, “go with it.”

sports talk hosts dont have to be right

A great sports talk host doesn’t have to be right. They just have to be entertaining.
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