How Did I Get HERE?

You may not believe this, but I never really wanted to be a talk show host. This wasn’t part of my grand plan. Looking back now, I couldn’t have dreamed up this journey if I tried. If I could have seen the road ahead of me, I would have been too overwhelmed to handle it anyway. Twenty years ago, I had zero designs on being a talk show host. Ten years ago, I wasn’t very good at it and only saw it as a means to an end. Five years ago, it felt like the walls were closing in and my options were drying up. So how in the world did I get HERE??

On January 1st, After Hours is moving! My CBS Sports Radio show will expand to five episodes a week, Sunday through Thursday nights (or Monday through Friday mornings on the East coast). Therein lies a huge part of the challenge. In this time slot, it’s primarily a West coast audience to start; toward the end of the show, it morphs into mostly morning commuters on the East coast. I LOVE that! I also love going into work at night–sifting through the various storylines in the immediate aftermath of all the action. Sunday nights during NFL season are my absolute favorite, and I won’t be giving that up. On a personal note, I’m looking forward to Saturdays off from work since I’ll get to see my family and friends a little more often and since my church meets on Saturday evenings.  But the most exciting part? Since my hours won’t be all over the map, I can actually settle into a regular sleep pattern! Wooooo! So many reasons to be thrilled for this new challenge. It’s the first time at the network level that I’ll be responsible for my own talk show five times a week. That comes with a growing audience, expanded platform, increased scrutiny, higher stakes, and loftier expectations. I can’t wait to dive right in! I also can’t help but smile every time the thought pops into my head: how did I get here??

Twenty years ago, I was telling everyone who would listen that I would be the female Johnny Most someday. The first woman to ever do radio play-by-play for the Boston Celtics. That was my dream. It’s STILL my dream. But two decades ago, I didn’t have the first clue about how to make it happen. After graduating from Syracuse with my master’s degree, I just wanted a job. My professional journey started in Rochester, New York, where I read the news headlines at the top of every hour overnights on the weekends. I convinced my boss to let me do the sports updates on Saturday mornings after my shift for free. I worked mostly as a news anchor and reporter the first six years of my career. I picked up play-by-play when I could, but news paid the bills. In 2002, a small start-up outfit in Norman, Oklahoma, hired me to host a sports talk show. I was terrible at it. No training, not much support, a newbie and an outsider trying to build an audience among men who didn’t want a woman telling them about their favorite teams. I got fired a year later. Next stop was co-host of a morning drive talk show at a Providence radio station. Got fired after a year there, too. A variety of factors went into those pink slips (one of the stations went dark soon after), but I wasn’t very good at the talk show thing back then.

Ten years ago, I still looked at talk shows as a way to earn a paycheck and support my play-by-play habit. But then ESPN Radio started offering me fill-in work, and I began to realize how much fun hosting could be at the highest level, expressing my opinions and debating them with others. I got bit by the bug and found a new passion, but I still wasn’t very good at it, ha! I barely recognize the girl who first showed up in Bristol, Connecticut, in 2004. It was my first real training and guidance toward developing into a host who is equal parts knowledge, preparation, personality, and versatility. But the national stage also included a type of pressure and competition I never faced before. I had to learn on the fly and improve rapidly or I wouldn’t last. Even when I DID find a foothold, I could never get comfortable. Industry changes, management changes, philosophy changes–they’re all cyclical, and they didn’t always work in my favor. Five years ago, the opportunities were drying up and I was stuck in a role that didn’t suit me. But by then, I was confident in my abilities and driven by a passion that never waned. I knew all I needed was a chance to prove what I could do on the air. CBS came calling two-and-a-half-years ago and gave me that chance, and I’ve spent every day since then grateful for bosses who believe in me and give me these wings to fly.

I never wanted to be a talk show host. This was never part of the plan. Looking back, there were dozens of moments when I could’ve packed it in and chosen an easier path. I’ve been fired, taken out of rotation, passed over for jobs time and time again, rammed my head into the glass ceiling over and over, and heard the gloating when I stumbled. I’ll never forget the manager who told me, “We believe you’ve reached your full potential so we’re going to invest our resources in developing other talent.” To answer the question of how I got here, I have to acknowledge the failures and the people who gave up on me. They are fuel for the fire and motivation that never leave me. But they’re only part of the equation. I also got here on the strength of unwavering support, encouragement, and prayers from those family members, friends, colleagues, managers, and listeners who refused to give up on me. So 2015 is for you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wouldn’t be here without you. XO

 

 

 

 

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34 Responses to “How Did I Get HERE?”

  1. Steve Kerr Says:

    Congratulations on your added time slots on CBS Sports Radio!! I’ve listened to you since your ESPN days and wondered why they don’t let that talented lady have her own show. By the way, you should have your own blog as you’re an excellent writer. Again, congrats in your expanded role.

  2. Carl Douglas Says:

    Great glad your happy and good luck,not that you will need it.

  3. Jeff Fryar Says:

    Very happy for you Amy!! Love listening to your show, the more you are on the better I like it. Congrats and good luck!!!

  4. Excuse the long-windedness of this, Amy, but as someone in the early stages of the path you just described, I can appreciate how far you’ve come and how much work you’ve put in to get where you are right now.
    I’ve worked overnights for the last 3.5 years and first heard you over at ESPN, then followed you on over to CBS Sports and have been a fan ever since. Your opinions are insightful and refreshing and your style is all your own, further advancing the role and opportunities for women in a male-dominated atmosphere.
    For me personally, your success and the way you went about achieving it is a tremendous motivation and reassurance that I too can get where I want to be someday. Working overnights at a grocery store is far from my long term goal. My professional aspirations are torn between helping out children and families & furthering my sports writing career, which I only recently dove head first into at the behest of those close to me who believed in my abilities when I wouldn’t.
    The frustrations of not seeing myself advancing in my career are difficult, almost overwhelming at times. But it’s at those times that I always seem to see a story such as yours or hear an encouraging word. The timing is never lost on me when it happens.
    So, like you, I continue to press on, taking the negatives with the positives and appreciating the journey as it unfolds. I particularly relate to the idea of using those who passed me over as motivation because I know, as you did at that time, they would one day have to look back and realize they missed out on an opportunity, not me.
    Congratulations once again, Amy. This is a long time coming for you and a decision CBS Sports Radio will reap immense benefits from. I’m looking forward to hearing even more of you throughout the week as you make me laugh and make me think the way a good host can. And maybe every once in a while, you’ll look at the clock during a commercial break and know that somewhere there’s a young man stacking canned tuna on a shelf that appreciates what you do and how you’ve gotten there, hoping one day he might also be able to look back and smile on his path as well.

    Best wishes and good luck in 2015,
    Bryan

  5. Marvin Bittinger Says:

    I am so thrilled four you Amy. I have been hoping for your broadcasting to expand and can’t wait for the expanded schedule. I will be listening as always. We now have a CBS Sports radio affiliate here in Indy and that makes hearing you even easier. Remember, we make our plans, and God laughs. He had this plan for you. Keep going!
    -Marv Bittinger

  6. Amy,
    Thank you for sharing you story. You are the gold standard. The passion and knowledge that you have for radio/media/Soorts reaches through the radio.
    Best of success in your new position. I too give my skills away as I know that this, ( my 3rd act)), and most challenging career will one day come to fruition.
    I’m just enjoying the journey.
    Again, congratulations Amy.
    Best Regards,
    Mike Maize

  7. Amy, I could not be happier for you. You are talented and uber knowledgeable about sports but your greatest quality as a talk show host is your ability to connect with your listeners. Oh and your voice…oh YES that voice. Keep kicking ass Amy. Just remember your longtime listeners as you become (even more) famous!

    Best

    CJ

  8. HURRAY AND CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  9. Amy, I love sharing an interest with women. I hope I’m not the only one.

    I didn’t hear that stuff before CBS but I think you handle your show with a level of skill that is far better than adequate.

    In sports radio I think your perspective or take is probably the most important thing and for national radio, the breadth has to be huge too. I think you are quite balanced and I don’t want to throw my radio out the window when listening to you.

    I think you got here because you earned it.

    Keep it up.

  10. As a long time listener I am so very happy for you and wish you nothing but the best .Congratulations.

  11. RA in Long Beach Says:

    First heard you filling in on ESPN while I was on the roof putting up Christmas lights some years ago. Nice to read/hear that you are continuing to break through ceilings in your career.

  12. Robert Charles Pickering Says:

    Amy, I just read of your upcoming schedule change, so please allow me to add my sincere congratulations. I can remember your from when I lived in Springfield, Missouri working weekends for ESPN Radio. About a year and a half later I returned to Lakeland, Florida and was amazed to hear you on 1010AM when CBS Sports Radio came to Tampa. As someone before me mentioned, you are the gold standard on sports radio, and no one earned this move more than you.
    I can remember working a country station in Laurel, Mississippi to a rock FM station in nearby Hattiesburg when Brett Favre was but a high school player along the Gulf Coast, and later working at the flagship for the Southern Mississippi football/basketball games.
    And by the way, allow me to suggest a possible guest for one of your programmes. He is Rick Cleveland, a former sportswriter/columnist with the Gannett properties (Hattiesburg American where he started and Jackson Clarion Ledger) who is now Executive Director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum near Jackson. He has also authored a new book on the Magnolia State’s rich history in all sports from football, basketball, golf, you name it. It should be out soon, if not already.

    What a good Christmas give this would be! May God bless you as you continue your journey.

    Sincerely,
    Robert Charles Pickering
    http://www.Interstate4Jammer3@Gmail.com

  13. I’m very happy for you. I thought you did a good job here in RI and have been a fan since.

  14. So very very happy for you! And super happy for me because I’ll get to listen to you all week.Yay! Maybe 2015 will be the Year of a Personal Life for Amy and Penny. God Bless girlfriend!

  15. John Marino Says:

    Congratulations Amy. I’ve been listening to you since your ESPN days. Never understood why they didn’t give you the overnight job after Jason Smith left. Hell, you were on the air more than he was. I’ll continue to enjoy listening. Give em hell.

  16. I don’t know who I’m happier for you – me or you – hahahaha – I’m really thrilled for you as there have so many times that I have gone to turn on the radio for your show and gone darn it, she’s not on tonight!! LOL But now 5 nights a week – WOO HOOO!! Been a fan since ESPN and so happy I’ll get to listen to you more often – as a lady sports fan, I’m so happy to have your perspective on the radio more!! CONGRATS!!! Can’t wait for 2015!!!

  17. Very happy for you Amy. I have been a fan for many years and you have kept me company on may long nights when I did night audit for a hotel. And now, 5 nights a week, I will still be awake, not working, but listening to the wise words of a very smart lady. KNOCK-EM DEAD!!!

  18. Amy

    I am proud of you! I am so glad you share things the way you do, I had inboxed you on this, to your FB acc’t. I am thankful for you and your transparency and putting it all out there sometimes, for us to see more of the real Amy. Not just the Sports Amy.

    I have watched you make many of the same comments as you have here and always, they have resonated with me for one reason or another.

    I am glad you are going to have a regular routine for your next phase of your life, that has got to be just about the biggest relief for you, I would imagine. I have sleep disorders, so I can imagine a routine will help your life, in every regard.

    We love you Amy. Sincerely — CANADA. #WeTheNorth
    Proud of you sister. Thanks again for being who you are and opening up to us, your radio family. Amen.

  19. Amy-

    I have followed you from your days at ESPN and now with CBS. I may not necessarily make your entire show, but your the last thing I hear before nodding off. Falling asleep may not be what or how most of your listenership would come right out and tell you, but I have always fallen asleep with a radio under my pillow. As a blind sports fan who routes for a wide variety of teams across many sports, I am a faithful follower and listener, and love how you influenced me to become a big fan. Women in Talk radio, is a norm, but most other women as Talk show hosts, usually did shows not relating to sports.
    something that most people saw as someone who did a psychological based show but never sports. I in the day of Jason Smith, loved how you filled in for him, and listened to his show, but secretly hoped you would fill in because you engaged listeners, were not argumentative about it, but it kept the show flowing and from my simple perspective, kept me coming back for more.

    When you went to CBS, was sad to see you leave ESPN, but the affiliate in Rochester Minnesota switched from ESPN to CBS, so it was easy for me.

    You know your stuff, and its clear you do your homework, and in the dage of most sports talk shows, I would rank you right their with the best of them. You have a fresh perspective that your colleagues for whom you admire and strive to be as successful as they, are a wonderful addition and offer an awesome outlook on sports.

  20. Felix Castaneda Says:

    Amy’ I’m one of your followers on Facebook. You are my hero. I wanted to do what you’re doing, but I let people in the business talk me out of it when I was in high school.
    I do local TV in Napa, California every now and then. It satisfies my curiosity of working in the media. I have been in a few TV commercials. I wish I had the drive and ambition like I do now twenty some odd years ago. Who knows where I would be now?
    But things happen for a reason. I’m very happy now.
    Keep living the dream!!

  21. Johnny D-Chicagie Says:

    Thankful for your raspy Tough Lady voice, your accent, and of course your skills, wisdom, and knowledge. Now I probably won’t hear you anymore? 670 The Score?
    Good Luck. ~Johnny D from Chicagie.

  22. Robert Roy Says:

    Congratulations Amy. Love your show; hope we’ll be getting in Boston on the radio, or else I’ll listen on the iPad. Hope to see you someday in Boston…or Italy.
    Bob from MA

  23. Congrats Amy! I am one of the people that first heard you on the Providence radio station and loved the perspective of a female voice in what is still a male dominated industry. I have always followed your career and though I haven’t listened in a while due to work schedule , I follow you on twitter and enjoy your comments there. Having a daughter that is a athletic trainer in another male dominated industry I appreciate the endurance that you have. Again congrats on your new gig you deserve it!

  24. Congrats, Amy! Good for all of us!

  25. Jack Murray Says:

    Fascinating journey. Great read, as always, Amy. Congrats. Happy for you.

  26. Shawn Rychling Says:

    Amy – Congrats to you on 5-night show. Very happy for you!

  27. brian king Says:

    Good for you! Always good to see someone chase a passion and find success. Even if the path is not the.one you started on it is still your path. Own it and kick its ass. I look forward listening to you for a.long time.

  28. JANET ALDEN Says:

    Sweetie, you are AWESOME! And I am thrilled for your continued success! I can’t think of anyone who has worked harder or deserves it more. love you

  29. Amy we all could not be happier for you . What a job you do !

  30. Bradford Benn Says:

    The only downside is now I am never going to sleep again. Congratulations on the new time slots and expansion. I look forward to your expanded hockey coverage

  31. Congratulations Amy! I’ve been enjoying your work since your days at ESPN. I’m on the west coast & I look forward to hearing more of you.

  32. Jill Wallace Says:

    Amy, As a west coast fan who couldn’t wait til the weekend to get her fix, I am thrilled that you will now be on five nights. Thank you!
    PS Let’s hear some more about the Warriors in 2015.

  33. Amy, you are hands down the best on radio. You love what you do without being arrogant about it. 🙂

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