Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Run To Remember

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2016 by amylawrencepxp

Sunday, April 24th, in Oklahoma City wasn’t just my first half-marathon in more than a decade. It was also a moving tribute to those who lost their lives in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in April 1995. From pre-dawn opening ceremonies at the Survivor Tree to 168 seconds of silence for the victims, the Memorial Marathon marked the anniversary of a tragedy that forever changed a city, a state, and the people of Oklahoma. Hearing thousands of people across several city blocks grow quiet and stay quiet for nearly three minutes created a powerful memory. And then it was time: #RunToRemember

When the emcee announced the number of participants in this year’s event, I was stunned to hear 24,818! You can’t help but feel a major adrenaline surge when that many people join forces. We all came together for the marathon, half-marathon, 5K, relay, and wheelchair races. A staggered start put the fastest runners at the front, while the rest of us were herded forward in “corrals,” so I had time to stretch, send final texts, and take pictures of the burgeoning purple sky stretching in front of us. More than one experienced runner cautioned me to go out slowly and resist the urge to take off. With that advice in mind, my friend Kelli and I passed under the banner hanging over the starting line and began our 13.1 mile trek!

The marathon route first wound through the downtown streets of Oklahoma City. With every block we ran, I had flashbacks to my life as an “Okie” from 1999-2003. There were basketball games at the Ford Center (now the Chesapeake Energy Arena) before the Thunder moved in, baseball games and dinners in Bricktown, and press conferences at the state capitol complex. I was always nervous about finding a parking spot near the capitol since I was usually running late! I vividly remember hosting my radio show in the shadow of the Memorial on the morning it was dedicated in 2000 and then covering 9/11 as a reporter the next year.  The bombing gave Oklahomans a unique perspective that most of America couldn’t comprehend before that tragic September day.

I was blown away by the number of firefighters running and walking the marathon in full gear. They represented companies in and around Oklahoma City that responded to the Murrah Federal Building on the morning of the attack; and they navigated the course in their fire suits, coats, hats, and boots. Some of them even carried their oxygen tanks. I tried to run alongside to thank as many of them as I could. I wonder if they got tired of responding since dozens of other runners had the same idea. Some even took selfies with the firemen, ha.

I’m glad I decided not to run with headphones. I didn’t want to miss any of the sights and sounds along the marathon course, and it was worth going without music. Fans and supporters lined the way. In some areas, it was a handful of people who held up funny signs or shouted words of encouragement. Kids waited to give us high-fives or fist bumps. But in other locations like Gorilla Hill and Irish Alley, we passed through party-like atmospheres. It’s apparently much easier to party when you aren’t running up a long slope. Along Gorilla Hill, some marathon enthusiasts dressed up like monkeys or bananas to hand out bananas. We literally ran through streets covered by peels which is disaster waiting to happen for me! Raucous water stops, high school marching bands, tables with alcohol shots and donuts (what?!?), radio stations blaring music from mobile units, even a bouncing Tigger–they all made us laugh, propelled us forward, and provided energy boosts when they were desperately needed.

The running itself wasn’t terrible through the first 7 miles, but that changed in a BIG way once we made the turn back toward downtown, directly into a stiff wind. The next 3+ miles were a major challenge. I used so much energy to combat the wind and still felt like I was running in place along Classen Avenue. Kelli was kind enough to slow down, too, so we wouldn’t get separated. I’m beyond grateful for her because it would have been harder to press forward alone. Good old Oklahoma with its crazy winds. I should have expected nothing less! By the time we turned off Classen, we were within a couple miles of the finish line. Thankfully, I found a little extra zip at that point.

The final mile-and-a-half was nothing short of amazing! Even though I was tired and felt every step in my heavy legs, I lifted my head up to look around and soak in the atmosphere. Thicker groups of people lined the streets, and they cheered with a greater sense of urgency. One of my favorite signs indicated we only had eight blocks to go! As we made our way down the last sloping hill, the emcee whipped the crowd into a frenzy by announcing the first marathoner was approaching the finish line. A MARATHONER!! He was still trucking along at his incredible pace, feeling no pain, and we cheered with everyone else as he swept past us under the banner. The huge wave of excitement was so much fun to witness. I managed a final sprint and crossed the finish line at 2:26:31. I didn’t meet my time goal of 2:10 (the wind tunnel took so much out of me), but I’m extremely proud of myself for running the entire way.

Upon completing the course, we entered the finisher’s corral to collect bottles of water, beautiful medals, special t-shirts, and snacks. What did I consume after running a half-marathon? Two Oreos, a banana, and a carton of chocolate milk. I couldn’t stomach the cheeseburgers they were handing out, yikes! Even though my legs were wobbly, I was thrilled to snap pictures and meet up with friends who came to support me. How exhilarating to make it all the way through 13 miles and realize I actually finished the race! Now I can’t wait for next year.

Thank you, Oklahoma City! Just another reason you will always own a piece of my heart. XO







Red Carpet Ready

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2016 by amylawrencepxp

Ok, that’s so NOT true. At least not yet.  But I WILL be ready!

The weeks are flying by, and the red carpet will soon be rolled out at the Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles. I’ll be accepting my Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation in late May. That sentence is surreal to type, to say out loud, and to comprehend. Thankfully, the most important detail is already taken care of. My “date” will be my older niece Deanna who may be the most “red carpet ready” chick I know. It’s so much fun to talk dresses (I found a dress!), shoes, and travel plans with one of my favorite people in the world. I’ll be so proud to have her with me on this little adventure. And as a freshman in college pursuing her degree in engineering, I’m thrilled for her to interact with other smart, strong, successful women. The Gracies will honor a phenomenal group across all genres in TV, film, and radio. Names such as Jada Pinkett Smith, Tina Fey, Angela Bassett, Allison Janney, Norah O’Donnell, and Kathie Lee Gifford top the guest list.

My award is for host of a sports program, and CBS is putting together a 30-second video about my show to air at the ceremony. Again, surreal. I’m beyond grateful to my bosses at CBS Sports Radio for the options I’ve been given since 2013. While it’s neat to be recognized at this stage of my career, it’s also validation for Mark Chernoff and Eric Spitz who believed in me and gave me the freedom to prove what I could do and how I could grow as a host. They offered me a platform and trusted in my creativity, experience, and individualism. This Gracie Award provides confirmation for them and recognition for the network at a time when the radio industry is going through a challenging transition.

I can’t count the number of times I prayed for these career opportunities in the past–for the right stage in the right location with the right employer. It wasn’t a secret that I had plenty to say; but I needed reps and practice to cultivate my voice and my own signature style. For 15 years, I was never comfortable; instead, I was constantly striving. I moved around a lot, hopping from state to state and city to city, always believing there was something more. I didn’t have much to show for it on the outside; but I know all of the starts and stops, steps forward and steps back, victories and abject failures prepared me for CBS. So many prayers and dreams for so many years, but nothing I conjured up in my brain was remotely close to this reality.

Just over 15 months ago, After Hours with Amy Lawrence expanded to five nights per week. I’m not kidding when I say these last 15 months have exceeded my wildest expectations–and I expect a ton from myself and the team with whom I work. The radio show continues to grow and build momentum and attract new listeners every week. Our social media sites see increasingly more traffic, and we field steady feedback from all over the country. Above and beyond that, I’m so grateful for the “extras” outside the studio. In the last year, I represented the network at a talk radio conference in Atlanta; made my first appearances on CBS This Morning; did play-by-play for a pair of women’s basketball tournament games on Westwood One Radio; traveled to Chicago for a Stanley Cup Final game at the United Center and a special edition of my show; wrote a weekly NFL column for the CBS Sports Radio websites; spent Super Bowl week in San Francisco, recording interviews on “Radio Row” by day and hosting shows by night; called my first basketball games on TV in three years for the Big East; and attended my first ever Final Four in Houston. I’m overwhelmed when I think about what a difference a year can make.

Personally, I’ve also taken a giant leap forward. It was 14 months ago that I finally signed the papers to sell my house. The two years finding a buyer wreaked havoc on my finances and my stress level. I’ll never forget the flood of relief that washed over me when I got the call indicating the sale was complete. Once I was back to even, I found the perfect rental house where I can welcome the family for Christmas or invite friends for weekend trips to New York. Cramming myself and three pets into an apartment smaller than 500 square feet and storing half my belongings in a friend’s basement were definitely a challenge. I tripped over animals, furniture, and boxes for more than two years! But now, not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the space and privacy of my new place. Another amazing blessing from a God who loves me.

My goal and key phrase for 2016 is “Finding Contentment.” I wish I could say I rest and reside in contentment all the time. I wish I could tell you my face always reflects contentment, but that’s far from the truth. This is one of my greatest struggles over the last decade. How do I find contentment when my heart is yearning, when I harbor questions about the future, and when I feel as though my journey is far from complete? Most effective for me is taking time to REMEMBER how far I’ve come, even in the last year. When I look back at the mountains He’s moved and the prayers He’s answered, it’s much easier to be confident in a story that’s still unfolding and content to wait for my next miracle.

Handling Harassment

Posted in Uncategorized on March 3, 2016 by amylawrencepxp

It’s the story that refuses to die. A full 20 years after Peyton Manning was accused of sexual harassment by a female athletic trainer at the University of Tennessee, people are talking about it like it was yesterday. I already knew what a vast majority of sports media and fans discovered in the last month. It wasn’t a secret. It’s a long and drawn out saga full of conflicting accounts, multiple lawsuits, settlements, court documents, a book, and now, new articles, opinions, and a social media explosion. The convoluted tale leaves more questions than answers. I don’t know exactly what happened inside the UT training room in 1996. Manning can only be judged in the court of public opinion. While it’s unwise to judge what I don’t know, one aspect of the narrative resonates with me.

At the very least, Manning’s accuser, Dr. Jamie Naughright, was repeatedly harassed at UT largely because she was a female in a male-dominated industry. The accusation against Manning was only one part of her experience in Knoxville. Her statement of facts to the court in 2003 details other instances of harassment such as offensive names directed at her by a superior and the way her complaints were ignored and stifled. It’s worth repeating this is HER side of the story from court documents filed by her attorney. But I have no trouble believing these things happened. I can feel my own indignation and frustration on her behalf. Naughright made the choice to fight back against fellow colleagues and athletes at Tennessee, and her career suffered because of it. She paid a steep price for speaking up. That’s why I didn’t.

When I set my heart on a career in sports radio in high school and started pursuing my dream in college, no one warned me about the challenges of being a female in a “man’s world.” I knew there were very few women in the business, but it didn’t bother me. A tomboy when I was young, I had always been comfortable around guys, and I could certainly hold my own whether we were talking sports or playing them. As I began working in radio, I did what came naturally to me. I tried to be “one of the guys.” I laughed at jokes I didn’t think were funny, and I used coarse language I’m not proud of. I chimed in because I desperately wanted to blend in. It didn’t work. Women in sports radio stuck out like a sore thumb 15 years ago. Despite my best attempts, I was always the odd one out. But that was only part of the challenge.

At some point early in my career, I made a conscious decision to keep the harassment to myself. I shared it with Mom and my closest girlfriends, but I decided I’d rather “tough it out” than risk getting blackballed or ostracized any further. I told myself as long as I wasn’t in danger–Mom hammered home all the precautions to take–I could survive any type of verbal harassment. I wanted the career more than I wanted to expose how I was treated in the workplace. Even if bosses or managers took me seriously, I would be labeled a “problem” or “bitch” or “troublemaker” and hurt my chances of getting and keeping jobs. In some cases, my superiors were the ones doing the harassing, so complaining would’ve been pointless.

For the first decade of my journey, it was a line I heard over and over: “The newsroom is like a locker room.” At one previous job, it was a used as a punchline or held up as a badge of honor. Sadly, I’ve covered teams in actual locker rooms far more professional than some of the places I’ve worked. The pseudo-locker room atmosphere equaled getting hit on non-stop. When I was younger, I told myself it was flattering or complimentary. But it got old, especially when it was a lot of married men looking for a cheap thrills. I would get propositioned by guys I barely knew. One broadcaster much higher up the totem pole emailed my company account from HIS company account to ask if I wanted to have sex for fun. Instead of being taken seriously as a journalist and being appreciated for my brains and work ethic, my value was often tied to my appearance. One over-zealous colleague followed me in his SUV as I walked across a dark, empty parking lot after my shift at 3am to suggest we “hang out.” My heart was racing in that moment.

The locker room atmosphere meant constant jokes about sex and stories about sex. While they didn’t necessarily offend me, hearing them from a bunch of men when I was the only woman often made me uncomfortable. And I frequently turned into a target. In the early 2000s, the owner of my radio station attempted to embarrass me in a room full of people by loudly ridiculing my sexual abstinence. I can still remember the acute humiliation, but what could I do? He was the one who signed my paychecks. In some of my newsrooms, I had to work in front of pictures of mostly naked women or log into computers with similar screensavers. Derogatory and disgusting nicknames, vulgar language that made me cringe, inappropriate and insulting comments, emails or texts with nasty photos–I navigated all of it for years. But outside of venting to people I trusted, I did very little to protest.

I’m not sharing these stories from my past to garner sympathy. I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me. It was my own choice to keep quiet, my own decision not to fight back. I wanted the career more than I wanted it to stop. I’m not recommending the same course of action for other women in my position. I don’t have foolproof methods to handle every situation. But I want people facing similar challenges to know they aren’t alone. Looking back, there are many things I would do differently. I also know my experiences made me stronger, smarter, tougher, wiser, more determined, and more professional than the ones who harassed me. Plus I bypassed most of them on the broadcasting food chain a long time ago.

In 2016, the climate is vastly different. Companies educate employees about workplace harassment because they fear whistle-blowers or lawsuits. Employee rights are now a top priority. Beyond that, I don’t hesitate to stand up for myself. I remind men I’m in the room if their language or stories make me uncomfortable, and I tolerate very little harassment on social media. I don’t care who likes me or dislikes me because of it. I no longer need to fit in. I’m proud of the fact that I never will. Being different, being unique, being unconventional is a huge part of my success. It shapes who I am. It took some time and heartache, but I finally recognized that standing out instead of blending in can be my greatest asset.




So Many Questions!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 3, 2015 by amylawrencepxp
(This blog post was first published on my radio show’s website. AL)

There is an old, familiar adage: “Curiosity killed the cat.” Maybe it’s not entirely applicable to sports radio, but constant questions about who I am and what I do off the air threaten to wear out THIS cat, ha. Of course, I’m teasing, but I certainly field a lot of the same inquiries over and over. I appreciate the interest, and I’m glad you want to know more about me and what goes into hosting a national radio show. So the idea behind this blog post is to address your “frequently asked questions” en masse. Hope it satisfies some of your curiosity!

Without further ado and in no particular order:

  • What hours/days is your show on the air?  I can understand the confusion since After Hours spent its first 2 years operating on the weekends. The show airs Sunday through Thursday nights from 11p-3a Pacific time (which is Monday through Friday 2-6a Eastern time). Sunday is my favorite night of the week to work, so I’m glad I didn’t lose that when I started hosting 5 times a week.
  • Is your show “live” or taped?  After Hours is 100% “live” every hour, every show. We may tape interviews during the daytime to accommodate athletes or coaches, but those are special exceptions. The crew is always on site, working hard to crank out original, entertaining content.
  • Do you have a podcast?  Yes! We love it when you check out After Hours after hours, ha. You can find a podcast of the full show every weekday morning on our website: (Click on the “audio” link.) You can find all of our interviews and columns on the site, too.
  • Where can I find your movie trailer? I’m so glad you asked! We have a fledgling YouTube channel where you can watch a sneak peek of the After Hours behind-the-scenes movie. We also post other goofy videos (like Pete donning his Big Gulp Halloween costume and me learning how to throw a spiral) and some of our best interviews and audio montages. Just search for the name of the show on YouTube and subscribe to the channel if that’s your cup of tea.
  • When do you sleep? Do you ever sleep?  These are BY FAR the most popular questions posed by listeners on social media, even though I don’t quite understand why. I sleep when I’m not working which means I sleep during the daytime after hosting the show. I typically get in bed around 8am and try to sleep until 3:30pm. It doesn’t always work that way, just like you don’t always sleep through the night uninterrupted. But that’s the goal. Oh, and I LOVE to nap on weekends.
  • What do you do when you aren’t talking about sports on the radio?  I watch sports! Just kidding. Sports is only part of what I do, though games never stop so I have to keep up even when I’m not working. Otherwise, I walk my dog Penny several miles a day or we run around at a nearby park. I like to read, watch Nashville and crime dramas on my DVR, cook, play golf, go to church, and travel to visit family or friends. I have ZERO problem forgetting about sports when I have the opportunity.
  • What do the guys do on the show?  Other than operate as my “yes men,” you mean? Ha! Pete is our update anchor, so he’s in charge of the news. But he also shares his strong opinions once a week in “Schwartz on Sports” and shares funny stories when we have time. Isaac is our audio and video coordinator, so he’s responsible for the musical montages you hear on the show and the video you see online. He drops in all the crazy sound bites that make me laugh. Producer Tom is the brains behind the scenes. He does a little bit of everything–schedules guests; cuts up audio from games, athletes, and coaches; puts all our podcasts together; helps flesh out show topics and develop new ideas; and updates our social media. AND they all make me crazy with their New York sports fandom!
  • When do you eat?  We definitely talk about food a lot on the show, so this question makes me laugh. On a typical day, I eat breakfast around 4:30pm, haha. “Lunch” usually happens between 9-10pm before I leave for work. I always take a ton of snacks with me to host the show since talking makes me hungry for some reason. After all these years, I’m convinced I burn lots of calories while I’m using all my brain power to stay coherent, entertaining, and energetic. If I don’t eat, the work suffers. You can probably tell on air.
  • How much time do you spend on show prep?  On average, I prep one hour for every hour I’m on the air. That includes watching or listening to games (obviously, NFL Sundays require a lot more time), reading stories and articles, doing pertinent research, taking notes, posting on social media, developing my opinions, and brainstorming new ideas. I also spend several hours a week writing my NFL column for the CBS family of websites.
  • Who are your favorite sports teams?  While I’m on the air, I don’t play favorites. My rooting interests have nothing to do with the show and don’t enter the studio with me. But being a fan like you fuels my passion for the events we watch and the topics we hit on a nightly basis. I started cheering for the Celtics and Broncos as a teenager. I got interested in baseball and started cheering for the Red Sox soon afterwards, and then I started following the Sharks when Joe Thornton was traded from Boston to San Jose. As a Syracuse alum, I also root hard for the Orange, although I’m not sure the football team still exists…kidding!!
  • How and when did you decide you wanted to get into sports broadcasting?  Growing up in the back woods of Concord, New Hampshire, we didn’t have cable TV for awhile. The only way I could follow my beloved Boston Celtics and my all-time favorite athlete, Larry Bird, was to listen to games on the radio. I fell in love with the idea of describing the action or telling a story in a way that fans don’t feel like they’re missing anything just because they can’t see what’s happening with their own eyes. I’ve been a radio junkie ever since. Radio is my passion and will always be my bread and butter.
  • What is your favorite kind of music?  I’m a HUGE country music fan! Tim McGraw is my absolute favorite, but I also like Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, and Carrie Underwood. Other artists on my iPod include Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, Billy Joel, Kelly Clarkson, Backstreet Boys, Bryan Adams, Whitney Houston, Frank Sinatra, and Taylor Swift.
  • What are your favorite movies?  SUCH a long list! You already know how much I love Star Wars (all of the movies and I can’t wait for the new one!) but a few of my other favorites include The Notebook, Karate Kid, Top Gun, Lord of the Rings, The Sound of Music, Gone with the Wind, The Patriot, American Sniper, and Castaway (or ANY Tom Hanks flick since he’s my favorite actor).
  • Will you go out with me? Will you marry me?  Not if you’re asking on social media!!

I realize this is not an exhaustive list, but I hope it answers some of your burning questions. With this blog post, you can refer back or share it with your family and friends…and curiosity won’t kill this cat! XO

Spicy Secrets

Posted in Uncategorized on October 8, 2015 by amylawrencepxp

The more you listen to my show After Hours on CBS Sports Radio, the more you hear common themes. Of course, we talk about sports. But we also mix in healthy doses of pop culture, “Star Wars” references, quirky humor, and FOOD. So much food! Growing up Polish and Italian, I come by it honestly. Food is the centerpiece of every family gathering and an instant conversation-starter. My mom still tells me what she’s making for dinner almost every night, ha. But believe it or not, I didn’t start cooking myself until I was 30. In fact, I didn’t have the slightest interest in cooking until well after I started my radio career. It used to be one of the big jokes at Christmas: my family would always buy me a cookbook or some type of kitchen utensil in the hopes I would start to care. Not sure what piqued my interest–maybe it was time spent with my grandmothers as an adult or maybe it was my desire to overhaul my eating habits and be healthier–but I finally decided to take the plunge into the world of cooking. My family was so proud and delighted.

I don’t do anything halfway, so I dove headlong into cooking. I was determined to find some signature meals and dishes to demonstrate how much I evolved. I asked my mom and Grandma Mary for the recipes to my favorite dishes like our Venus de Milo soup (a secret family specialty), stroganoff, lasagna, pumpkin pie, and chili. Now that my grammy is gone, I cherish her old handwritten recipe cards. I harbor so many sweet memories of standing in her kitchen in Youngstown, Ohio, watching her cook, smelling the fantastic aromas, and begging to taste-test.

The first time I tried to cook chili, I was afraid to stray from the recipe at all because I was sure I would mess it up. I remember calling Mom about a dozen times to ask for clarification on how much garlic or chili powder and how I would know when it was done. Improbable and comical that now chili is MY signature dish. It’s the meal I make when I’m visiting family or when I have friends staying with me. It’s also my go-to when I need something portable for a church function OR when I want to take food to the guys at work! Of course, it’s also the perfect companion during football season when autumn and cooler temperatures inevitably arrive.

People always ask for my chili recipe. That includes radio listeners and twitter followers, and I’ve shared it with friends now and then. But this is my first time “going public.” After years of fussing with the recipe and mixing in various ingredients, I now make a half-dozen versions of the timeless standard; but my baseline brew is the following:

  • Brown a pound of ground beef with salt and pepper and drain. For a healthier option, I use ground turkey.
  • Chop up and throw in several cloves of garlic and a medium onion
  • Add two cans of diced tomatoes. Be creative. I like Rotel with green chilis and Italian-style tomatoes.
  • Add two cans of drained beans. My favorites are dark red kidney beans and cannellinis.
  • Pour in 2 cups of all-natural chicken broth. You can use more to thin out the chili, but I like it THICK!
  • Mix in veggies to give the chili character and make it healthy. Mushrooms and bell peppers are my must-haves.
  • Start with 2 tablespoons of chili powder (or a packet of chili mix).
  • Leave on medium heat until boiling and stir occasionally.
  • Lower heat to simmer and add more chili powder to taste. My nieces usually try to sneak in hot sauce!
  • Let your creation sit on the stove to thicken and fill your kitchen with an amazing aroma.

Time to eat! I love my chili with shredded mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top and a couple thick slices of bread and butter. Now and then, I ladle it over a sweet potato or rice. Of course, I also eat it with my favorite Tostito’s lime chips. And the best thing about a big pot of chili is leftovers! So easy to spend a half hour throwing it together when I know I’ll have extra meals waiting for me in the fridge…or extras to share with others.

Be sure to tinker with the recipe and come up with your own special concoctions. Can’t wait to hear what you think! Bon Appetit! XO






Advice to Cherish

Posted in Uncategorized on September 10, 2015 by amylawrencepxp

The first time I got fired was a total blindside. I showed up at work, prepared to evaluate my first full year as a talk show host for a tiny start-up station near Oklahoma City. Instead, the boss told me I was being replaced with the line, “We’ve decided to go in a different direction.” For the first time in my career, I was unceremoniously out of a job. I don’t mind telling you I was both devastated and petrified. I’m certain I called my Mom and probably my brother, best friend and boyfriend, too. Of course, I would have contacted the handful of people most important to me. But the only phone call I actually remember was to a TV sports anchor (and fellow radio host) in OKC. He had taken this outsider under his wing and been kind to me when most other men in the market were unwilling to help. He calmly listened as I got emotional, wondered how I would recover and what I would do next, and then he said something I’ll never forget: “Remember you haven’t made it in this business until you’ve been fired at least twice.” To this day, it’s the best professional advice anyone’s ever given me. A ray of hope mixed with humor, it was a reminder that my journey would include multiple failures, but that my story did not end there. Those words mean even more to me in light of the last 10 years…and one Saturday night this summer.

The first time I met Bob Barry Junior at an Oklahoma City sporting event, he told me his legendary dad loved working with me and was a big fan. I thought he was just being nice; after all, he didn’t know me from Eve. But that was Bob. Like his dad, he was always genuine, always sincere, always gracious, always fiercely loyal. The more we crossed paths, the more I realized it wasn’t an act. For some reason, he cared…about me, my relatively new career, my struggle so far away from anything familiar in the southwest. I leaned on him when I had questions about the media business, about football, about the Sooners or Cowboys or Big 12. It didn’t matter how dumb the query, he never treated me like I was bothering him. And even though we laughed a lot, I knew he was never laughing at me. Bob was the first outside of my family and close friends to believe in me without hesitation. More than 10 years ago, his confidence in me lifted me up when I was crushed, put me back on my feet, and gave me the shove I needed in the right direction. I still don’t know WHY he was so sure I would “make it” and achieve my dreams. I never asked him; and he never wavered. He was like a big brother who always looked out for me which was exactly what I needed. I can’t remember every conversation or series of texts (though I wish I could), but I’ve clung tightly to that piece of advice for more than a decade.

Not even three years after getting fired in Oklahoma, I was fired again…this time in Providence, Rhode Island. Eerily similar to my first experience, I was prepped for my evaluation, even ready to make my pitch for a raise; instead, I was told the radio station was going in a different direction. As shocking as it was, my panic level wasn’t nearly as high the second time. I was better equipped for another abrupt change in my career. Of course, I remembered Bob’s words and told myself NOW I had made it. NOW I was ready for the next big thing. As it turned out, the next step was network radio. Bob was so proud of me. Before anyone knew my name, he celebrated my success. When I first waded into the volatile world of twitter, he kept a watchful eye. He knew I would stew over the nasty comments now and then, so he sent me messages to counter the negativity. And there were random texts telling me he loved hearing my voice on the air. That kind of support and encouragement naturally fades away, right? Especially when you’re friends over long distances with so many demands on your time and energy. Except he didn’t change. Bob juggled multiple jobs and assignments, navigated crazy hours, traveled to sporting events all over the region, and took care of his family. He worried about staying relevant in what he labeled a “young man’s world.” But he managed it all with his contagious smile, never-ending enthusiasm, quirky humor, and kindness toward others. He loved the in-state football programs and the Thunder. He was smack dab in the middle of the frenzy over Oklahoma’s team, and he was always the first to defend Russell Westbrook from criticism, ha. Bob was my go-to for information and interviews whenever the subject was the Sooner state, and he only turned down a request to be on my show when he was on vacation with his wife and family. We bonded over the Celtics and Red Sox (two of his favorite teams), and those were the first topics he asked about when I joined his radio show. It doesn’t seem real that I won’t hear his voice again in this lifetime.

One Saturday night this summer, my family and I were in the midst of packing and moving me to a new house. We stopped for ice cream, and I checked my phone to see a half-dozen text messages from friends in Oklahoma. Bob was gone, the victim of a car accident that was no fault of his own. After his 30 years working in OKC, the whole region mourned. Tributes poured in from all corners of the state: from colleagues, football coaches, athletic directors, friends, and fans. Countless lives impacted by Bob’s generous spirit and willingness to help anyone and everyone. My story may not be unique. Maybe he shared the same advice with others. But I’m beyond grateful we crossed paths in Oklahoma for a short time, beyond grateful I called him “friend” for more than a decade, eternally thankful for that one piece of advice I still cherish today. So true that a rocky road is always made easier by people who pick you up when you trip and fall and refuse to let you wallow in self-pity or doubt. We should all have one Bob Barry Junior in our lives.BobBarryJunior


Wonder Woman Lives

Posted in Uncategorized on August 5, 2015 by amylawrencepxp

In a world where the attention-grabbing headlines are all too often negative and tragic, it’s a perfect time to examine a blossoming narrative in sports. I’ll admit it’s near and dear to my heart: women barging into the center ring of the circus and stealing the spotlight, earning respect across the board. Women in sports are trending!

What a summer it’s been for female athletes on the international stage. Carli Lloyd sparked Team USA to World Cup glory with an amazing run in Canada, capped by her stunning hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the final. The highest-rated soccer broadcast in our nation’s history was watched by an average 26 million people, topping even men’s games from the last World Cup. Serena Williams captured both the French Open and Wimbledon singles’ championships, putting her in possession of all 4 Grand Slam titles at once. It’s the second time she’s accomplished the feat, but nearly unheard of at age 33. Ronda Rousey stayed undefeated by knocking out yet another challenger in less than a minute. Her last three UFC bouts have barely lasted 60 seconds combined! And on the sidelines, the trend is just as powerful. A year after she was hired as the NBA’s first full-time female assistant, Becky Hammon coached the Spurs to victory in the Summer League, also a first for a woman. The Arizona Cardinals brought Dr. Jen Welter on board to work with inside linebackers during preseason and training camp. Already a ground-breaker in her playing career, she made history as the NFL’s first female assistant. Only a few months earlier, Sarah Thomas earned a job as the NFL’s first female referee. Most recently, the Sacramento Kings tabbed Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman to serve as one of their assistant coaches.

Notable feats all of them, and this group of Wonder Women is to be celebrated. I’ve enjoyed watching the biggest names in sports and entertainment jostle for room on the bandwagon. Movie stars, musicians, NFL quarterbacks, and NBA MVPs all want to rub shoulders with the athletes. And all eyes are trained on the new coaches to see what they can offer in a man’s world. In the spotlight, each of these women models honesty, humor, and grace. “Just because something’s never been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Leadership has no gender.” No wonder Gregg Popovich wanted Hammon on his staff. While she’s focused on coaching and winning, the magnitude of the moment is not lost on her.

Blazing a trail is never easy. To be the first at ANYTHING requires strength, perseverance, and confidence when support falls away. The one carving a path through a forest must inevitably fight through the overhanging branches of criticism, the uneven ground of resistance, and the shadows of uncertainty. Carli gets blasted on social media for caring more about her newfound celebrity than her soccer training. (None other than Kobe Bryant jumped to her defense.) Serena is hounded mercilessly for being too muscular and not thin or feminine enough. Unbelievable! (See my previous blog post: “Role Model, Not Supermodel”) Ronda is denounced for preying on weaker competition. And I hear the same tired line from a cross-section of listeners whenever I talk about women’s sports: “No one cares.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. But our society is reluctant to change; many are slow to accept women in roles where they’ve only previously seen men.

As a pioneer in sports radio, I grapple with similar challenges. More than 15 years in the business, including 10 at the network level, yet every fall, I hear from tough guys who won’t accept a female talking about football. A recent message suggested I should “stop embarrassing myself” since I never played the game. Ha! In this age of social media, every fan can share opinions, and very rarely are they held back. Women in sports radio and television are directly in the line of fire and judged by very different standards than our male counterparts. The glass ceiling is real. At more than one previous job, I was counseled to be more like the men on the radio and to downplay the qualities that emphasized my unique perspective as a female. One former boss even told me to stop smiling while I was on air because as a woman, that would damage my credibility. Breaking new ground is often a lonely venture. Very few see the extra work and determination behind the scenes or the blood, sweat, and tears poured into the effort. The journey is filled with stops and starts, trial and error, failures and face plants, resets and do-overs. But all the pitfalls and missteps make the eventual breakthroughs that much sweeter.

Recognition of a trailblazer can take years, even decades. It’s very rarely instantaneous so it’s hardly motivation. Seeking the approval of others usually ends in disappointment. Instead, I am constantly pursuing an array of lifelong dreams, a passion for my craft, a desire to be the best, and a goal to inspire others. I love how Coach Welter puts it: “I want little girls to grow up knowing that when they put their mind to something, when they work hard, that they can do anything.”

Not all women are created the same; not all women are created to fill the same roles or travel the same paths. Carli Lloyd, Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey, Becky Hammon, Jen Welter, Sarah Thomas, Nancy Lieberman are all distinct individuals. Different colors, shapes, sizes, and ages with a broad range of strengths, talents, and abilities. But each possesses the heart and soul of a champion, the ability to shrug off failure and criticism and keep pushing upward until the glass ceiling is shattered into a million pieces. Each is proof that Wonder Woman is not a myth. She’s alive and kicking.


Role Model, Not Supermodel

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2015 by amylawrencepxp

When I set out on this radio course, the idea of being a role model never crossed my mind. I’m not sure anyone ever envisions stature or influence…at least I didn’t. It’s only in the last few months, after receiving an email from a father whose daughters love listening to my show, that I began to chew over the idea. Is it my responsibility as a public figure? If it comes with the territory, what do I want people to see, hear, and notice when they tune in or interact with me?

By definition, a role model is “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.” I’ve always believed it’s best to emulate people we know personally…to find role models among those we can speak to, ask questions of, interact with on a regular basis, and watch closely. For me, the first person who comes to mind is Mom. In addition to her love and support, I learned strength, humility, compassion for others, and the art of conversation. She raised two kids by herself and did it while changing careers and juggling multiple jobs. Despite her struggles and heartache, she never quit; and she consistently practiced the grace and love of Jesus. Other role models include my grandmothers (one now at 93), my high school English teacher, a former pastor, several father figures who cared for me, a godly friend who’s also an NFL agent and faces the same hurdles in her line of work that I do in mine. Mentors that we know on a personal level carry the greatest impact. And we need role models for the various life stages. As I wait to become a mother to my own children, I’m blessed to watch and learn from several confidants who double as amazing moms: my best friend since junior high who never seems to lose patience with her boys and another longtime friend who uses truth and transparency to raise her adopted babies. These lessons will serve me well when my time comes, and I’m grateful for them.

Even though I never started out to be a role model, people are watching, listening, and paying attention to my every move. In the new age of social media, they’re also commenting on EVERYTHING I say and do. I can choose to ignore those facts or I can try to turn it into a positive and sieze the opportunity to be a role model. In my opinion, it’s a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Even as I wrestled with this idea recently, two names came to mind: Deanna and Lauren. By far, my nieces are the number one reason I can be thankful for my singlehood over the last 15 years. I’ve been able to cultivate amazing relationships with two smart, funny, sweet, caring, genuine, thoughtful young ladies. I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. And while my brother and his wife are great parents who’ve raised them the right way, I cherish the chance to be a role model to them. I want to show them it’s a gift to be a strong, independent, intelligent woman following her own path; that it’s a blessing to be different; that faith in God, family, and yourself provide a solid foundation for everything else.

Another ideal I desperately want to mirror for my nieces is one I believe all young women need to grasp: it’s NOT about how you look! As a female in sports broadcasting and a woman in our superficial society, far too much of the focus is on outward appearance. Even though radio is not a visual medium, I am bombarded by comments about my face, my hair, my body, my clothes, my height, and my weight. NONE of those things matter in radio; and of course, my male counterparts aren’t subjected to the same feedback. But during an average week, I’m branded everything from gorgeous, sexy, and beautiful to ugly and fat (along with names I’d never repeat). It’s ridiculous…as though I’m some insecure teenager who requires validation from gawkers or will be crushed by the opinions of total strangers. As a role model, I want my nieces and other young women to know it’s your heart, mind, and soul that count. Far more valuable are your brain, education, ability to communicate, determination, perseverance, confidence, sense of humor, zest for life, compassion for people. Yes, I care about my physical appearance; but I’d rather be described as healthy and fit with a ready smile. Role model, not supermodel. Realistic and relatable, not airbrushed and unattainable.

The concept of perfection is another I want to shoot holes through as a role model. While I am a perfectionist and hold myself to the highest standard, I also recognize there is no such thing as a perfect job, perfect marriage, perfect family, perfect friendship, perfect body, perfect woman, or perfect life. The truth is life can be flat-out HARD. It totally stinks sometimes. I’d rather demonstrate poise under pressure and peace in the midst of chaos. I’m trying to show humility when I stumble and forgiveness when others do. Respect in the face of disrespect, kindness in the face of insults, logic to counter extreme emotion, integrity in place of dishonesty, transparency instead of secrets, faith in the midst of a storm, love for the unlovely. Since I’m nowhere near perfect and frequently fall short of these marks, I also need to practice saying I’m sorry and starting over when I mess up.

What kind of role model do I want to be? The kind who realizes the platform and remains humbled by the opportunity. For my nieces, friends, dads of young girls who follow my career, and listeners who pay attention…and because my mother, grandmothers, and so many others have done the same for me, I choose to embrace the responsibility of role model.





Play-by-Play Madness

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2015 by amylawrencepxp

I can’t remember the last time I was THAT nervous to tip a basketball game. I’ve done play-by-play for countless college games on both TV and radio, perched courtside for conference championships and NCAA tournament battles, called the action inside some of the most celebrated venues in the country. But as the start of the 2015 Big East Women’s Championship drew closer, it felt like the first time. There was absolutely nothing I could do about the knots in my stomach no matter how many texts I got from loved ones or how many pep talks I gave myself. It didn’t matter that I was as prepared as I could possibly be. The nerves weren’t going away until I was sure I could handle the stage: my first ever play-by-play assignment for the Westwood One Radio Network. An opportunity more than 15 years in the making. In the last decade, the only other time I was comparably nervous was the night we found out Navy SEALS had finally hunted down Osama Bin Laden. I was literally shaking in my ESPN Radio studio every time I turned on the microphone to tell the audience the mastermind behind 9/11 was confirmed dead. That was history, a significant event that affected our entire nation, and I was honored to convey the news to so many. The magnitude of that occasion could not be understated, and I wanted to offer as many details as I could with the perfect amount of respect. When people ask me about the biggest moments of my career, I always go back to that Sunday night. On the surface, it’s almost laughable I would feel similar emotions over a college basketball game, but there was no downplaying the importance of that opening tip in Chicago.

My first play-by-play memories are from my bedroom in the Concord, New Hampshire, house where I grew up. I would listen to my beloved Boston Celtics on the radio while doing my homework because we didn’t have cable TV out in the woods. I would also sneak a little radio under the covers to listen to the Denver Broncos when they played on Monday Night Football. I was supposed to be sleeping, but I couldn’t turn off the action until I knew if John Elway led my favorite football team to another win. Not only did I grow into a huge sports fan, but I also fell in love with radio play-by-play. I was fascinated with the idea that I could describe the action on the court or field in such a way that listeners didn’t feel like they were missing anything, even though they couldn’t see it with their own eyes. I began telling family and friends (as a teenager) that I wanted to be the first female Johnny Most, the first woman to serve as the radio voice of the Celtics, and I’ve been churning toward that goal ever since.

As a grad student at Syracuse, I sat in the stands at women’s games and did play-by-play into a handheld recorder until the manager at the campus radio station finally let me do a game for real. What a thrill! A few years later, I shared play-by-play duties for the Lebanon High School boys’ basketball team in upstate New Hampshire. The team battled into the state championship game, and the Boston Globe sent a reporter to Lundholm Gymnasium at UNH to do a story on the only female in the state doing play-by-play. When the spread came out, my family bought a dozen copies, and Mom laminated the article and photos for me. I still have it packed away somewhere. I used to send a copy of the story along with my resume and tape when I applied for jobs. The next stop in my journey was a town near the Oklahoma panhandle with more cows than people. Woodward was culture shock for me, but I served as News & Sports Director for a radio station with a 100,000 watt signal. I called games year-round: high school football and basketball and American Legion baseball. Then it was onto Oklahoma City where I dabbled in softball play-by-play for the University of Oklahoma at the Women’s College World Series. My first college action, and I had very little idea what I was doing, ha! I’m grateful for the experience and the chance to stretch myself; but at that point, I decided basketball was my niche. The next few years carried me back to New England where I did games on TV and radio for the University of Rhode Island as well as the Big East. I’ll never forget being courtside in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse, the same arena where I screamed and yelled for the Orangemen as a student and the same campus where I sat in the stands with my handheld recorder. Full circle.

My big break came in 2008 when the University of Hartford hired me to travel with the women’s basketball team as the voice of the Hawks. Head coach Jennifer Rizzotti put that program on the fast track, and I was privileged to be along for the ride. An upset of #5 Duke in Chicago; trips to UConn, Ohio State, Louisville, and Notre Dame; holiday events in Cancun and Florida; buzzer-beaters and battles for conference supremacy; America East title tilts; 20 straight wins; and a trio of NCAA tournament games. My 6 seasons with Hartford catapulted me into the fire and prepared me to navigate every possible play-by-play challenge. And yet there I was, moments away from the opening tip at the Big East Women’s Championship on Westwood One, as nervous as a rookie. It was the culmination of a lengthy journey, my first network radio play-by-play, my first chance to prove that I belong courtside with the best. It took about five minutes of game action before I settled down. It’s a good thing I had the players’ names memorized because I couldn’t see a thing on the charts in front of me. Once I got into the flow of the game, I was in my element as always. But the magnitude of that moment was not lost on me. I’m so grateful for all the family and friends who listened across the country and bombarded me with texts of support and encouragement. They knew how much it mattered to me, too.

In a few days, I get to experience another “first.” I’m thrilled to be part of Westwood One’s coverage of the women’s NCAA regional final in Oklahoma City Sunday night. The winner heads to the Final Four. Without a doubt, the single biggest moment of my play-by-play journey. More than 20 years after I did my homework next to the radio while Larry Bird buried jump shots, this broadcast is another dream realized. And instead of feeling the nerves, I absolutely can’t wait! Bring on the Madness.

Entertaining the Masses

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2015 by amylawrencepxp

Hard to believe it’s been a full 7 weeks since we launched the newly expanded version of After Hours with Amy Lawrence. The nights are absolutely flying by, and it’s not just because we’re having a blast. I’m definitely enjoying myself–and I’m so thankful to be part of an enthusiastic, creative team. Time is also flying because we’re using every single show to improve the product, appeal to new listeners, and expand the brand. We want to package the right mix of humor, information, opinion, production, fun, phone calls, personality, and social media. Keep it moving and keep it fresh; make it entertaining. Those are the goals; that is our stated mission. But HOW? How do you take a plain old sports radio talk show and turn it into appointment listening? The million-dollar question!

Earlier this month, I was honored to represent CBS Sports Radio at a talk radio conference in Atlanta. The only female on a panel of 6 hosts from around the country, I was asked to share insight on the entertainment aspect of what we do. To get organized, I used the flight to Georgia to put my thoughts down on paper and came up with far more than I expected. All these years of experience definitely aren’t going to waste, ha. As I scribbled my notes, one idea prevailed over all the others. The key to captivating a network audience is being unique and different, delivering a product listeners simply can’t find anywhere else. For me, that starts with passion and a contagious energy. It’s not an accident that I’m always ravenous after wrapping a 4-hour show. I pour everything I have into my work every night, burning calories the whole time! It’s also important to be genuine, authentic, relatable, inviting, inclusive, and conversational. Each of these qualities helps to court a national audience, no matter what the topic.

To finish our panel discussion in Atlanta, the moderator asked us how we set our shows apart from the other available options. He reached me last and qualified the question. “Apart from the obvious, what makes you different, Amy?” Yes, my gender alone makes me noteworthy. Being a woman instantly attracts attention. It also invites extra criticism. A double standard will always exist. I have to be more knowledgeable, more prepared, more polished with fewer mistakes where my male counterparts are naturally given the benefit of the doubt. When I was relatively new in the business, I had more than one boss suggest that I downplay what made me different, that I try to blend into a world dominated by men. One manager told me to stop smiling so much while I was on the air; another said laughing would take away from my credibility as a female. It took awhile for me to realize I don’t need to hide or cover up or de-emphasize my distinct perspective and approach to sports radio. In fact, that’s what makes my shows entertaining. There isn’t anyone else out there quite like me. Equal parts sarcastic, salty, emotional, and irreverent, I refuse to take sports too seriously. While there are sobering topics like domestic violence or major injuries, sports generally provide an escape for fans. The majority of the time, the subject is not life or death, so why treat it that way? I want to make listeners laugh, and I want them to know I will laugh at myself. I’m not perfect (it’s impossible to be perfect while hosting 4 hours of live radio per night), so I make fun of the fact that I always mix up my cliches or have trouble remembering dates.

By expanding to 5 shows a week, we have time to experiment with creative ideas. One of our most popular is the After Hours “Hall of Flame,” born from a mistake I made on the air. Typical! “Hall of Fame” came out the wrong way, and now we have a brand new Hall for the most outrageous and laugh-out-loud-funny sports rants, tirades, errors, and filibusters. We’ve also introduced “Hump Show” (middle show of the week) and “Bite Me” (most compelling audio over 24 hours). Listener favorites include “Ask Amy Anything” (sort of) and “Nerd Alert!” (impressive stats to make geeky the new cool). We threw a Super Bowl pregame party complete with chili cook-off and vintage football jerseys. Our “Question of the Night” frequently travels outside the lines. Who doesn’t want to join in the “Great Bacon Debate” or the “Worst Sports Apologies of All Time”?? I never stray too far from the games and events, though. In the first few weeks, we’ve touched everything from NFL to college hoops to NBA to golf to the college football playoff to NASCAR to hockey. February’s always a fun month to show off my versatility.

In the end, the creative use of features, music, production, guests, phone calls, social media, and outside topics falls flat if I can’t convince people of my knowledge and credibility. Entertaining the masses eventually boils down to who I am, how I deliver my opinions, and how I relate to a diverse audience. To date, the response is overwhelming. Even when the feedback is negative, people are investing enough time to develop a strong reaction. The show is grabbing attention across the country because I finally learned the most critical ingredient for entertainment: never fit in when you were born to stand out. The treasured poster I hung on my wall as a kid spotlighted a small white flowering tree in the midst of a forest sea of green leaves. The caption? “To be different is often a wonderful thing.” I had no idea the power of those words over the course of my life and my career.

Just as the title of this blog indicates, my form of radio is unconventional, unique, and always passionate. Me in a nutshell.