When I moved to Mobile in September 2002, it was the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. My first day as sports editor of the Press-Register was an afterthought to that important anniversary, but I was excited to begin work just the same.
It’s amazing how things have changed in the world since then, especially in the way we receive and digest the news.
In 2002, when one of our reporters arrived in an out-of-town location to cover an event, their first assignment was to call the office to give their hotel phone number in case of emergency. It’s hard to believe it was less than 20 years ago that every man, woman and child didn’t have a cell phone.
In those days we took very seriously the whole “paper of record” thing. That included the responsibility of reporting every score of every major sporting event around the country. Today, nobody looks to any print publication to learn who won a game. That’s not a good or bad thing — it’s just the way the industry has evolved.
But that doesn’t mean newspapers don’t have a very important role to play in the world today. In fact, I don’t think there’s any reason why their importance needs to be diminished at all. It’s just that the role now is for more in-depth and explanatory journalism. It’s also important that the local paper be in tune with what is happening locally.
That’s the same way I feel about what I do on a daily basis these days. This week I began a new chapter in my professional life, and I’m more excited about the possibilities than at any time since that major move in 2002. “The Randy Kennedy Show” featuring Creg Stephenson debuted Monday on Mobile’s new all-sports station, Sports Talk 99.5. You can hear it on the radio, on the iHeartRadio app or on the web at SportsTalk995.com. I hope everyone will tune in and let me know what you think.
There’s a simple formula these days to having a great radio show — and it’s exactly the same as what it takes to have a great newspaper, website, podcast or newsletter.
The key is to identify what you can do better than anyone else and then focus all of your energy into delivering that.
Lagniappe is a perfect example of finding a niche as a publication. It focuses its energy on informing and entertaining its readers on the Gulf Coast about things happening on the Gulf Coast.
In the case of sports radio in Mobile, that means doing everything possible to be the authority on South Alabama, Auburn, Alabama, high schools, Reese’s Senior Bowl, LendingTree Bowl and any other local issue that arises on the Gulf Coast.
I personally would like nothing more than to spend an hour talking about who is going to win Wimbledon. But I have to accept that when people want in-depth information on Wimbledon they are going to turn to John McEnroe or Chris Evert or Chris McKendry. When those folks are at the All England Club and I’m at Spirit Park, they’re probably going to have more credibility than me.
I can spend a Sunday afternoon (or a Monday afternoon, this year) watching the Daytona 500 and saying, “Boogity Boogity!” for the next week, but I’m never going to be as much of an authority on the sport as Darrell Waltrip or Jeff Gordon or Mike Joy.
So, we will talk tennis and NASCAR — and we sure won’t be shy about offering an opinion on the New Orleans Saints, anything else happening in the NFL, or the Atlanta Braves, who I have followed closely since Hank Aaron was in the middle of the order every day.
But the Saints and Braves are our teams, even if they aren’t technically in our state.
The lineup for the first two weeks on Sports Talk 99.5 will include Creg and me, on from 7-10 a.m. every day, followed by an hour of the best of my podcasts. The guests featured on the 10 a.m. show will include Sylvester Croom, Jeremy Schaap, Ronnie Brown, Hal Mumme and Jim Nagy, among others.
The evenings will feature play-by-play of the South Alabama Jaguars. Also, be listening for details of the complete station lineup that will begin on March 2.
There are going to be some great options for fans who believe, like I do, a local media outlet should do everything in its power to provide news and entertainment that centers on the subjects we care about most. It’s going to be a fun ride.
Randy Kennedy, who has been a leading voice on the Gulf Coast sports scene for 18 years, writes a weekly column for Lagniappe. His sports talk show airs weekdays on the new Sports Talk 99.5 from 7-10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @kennedy_randy.
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