In an interview with Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, sports radio host Spence Checketts detailed his efforts to rebuild his life and career following a DUI last February.
His alcohol addiction began shortly after a cancer scare at the age of 25. Six weeks after being released from the hospital, Checketts and his wife divorced, he fell into depression and turned to alcohol. Checketts was arrested three times between 2003 – 2008 before remaining sober until 2016 when his radio career began to take off.
Spence, who is the son of business mogul and former president of the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks Dave Checketts, hosted the afternoon show on Utah’s 1280 The Zone. Checketts resigned from the show soon after he was arrested for going 120mph in a 70mph zone with an open alcohol container in the car. The radio host was sentenced to 180 days in jail, but the judge suspended 145 days and allowed 30 days of credit for the time Checketts spent in rehab, leaving Spencer with almost one week of jail time.
“I’m not mad about it. I totally get it.” Checketts told Genessy about the criticism he’s received from the general public regarding his struggles with addiction. “When you’re in sports-talk radio, you make a living with opinions, and sometimes scathing opinions about the actions of other people. That’s the job,” he said. “You have to have informed, educated opinions, and if somebody else messes up you have to be ready to take them to task. I’ve done it for 15 years so when the shoe’s on the other foot, you can’t throw a fit and say, ‘Leave me alone.’”
After Checketts lost his “dream job,” his radio show with 1280 The Zone along with his game-day analyst role on Jazz broadcasts, the host decided to launch a podcast. Checketts wanted to go beyond just sports and use his voice to raise awareness for people dealing with depression and addiction.
“Let’s talk about lifestyle. Let’s talk about recovery and, really, ultimately, let’s help,” he told Genessy. “Professionally, that’s what is taking all my time right now. I’m really enjoying this, and I’ve got a great business partner. I’ve got a great team. There’s a real chance that this could be very, very successful in a lot of different ways.”
Reality Check with Spence Checketts debuted on Halloween, releasing weekly episodes featuring guests including his father Dave Checketts, former NBA head coach and current ESPN analyst, Jeff Van Gundy and former Jazz coach Frank Layden.
Checketts told Genessy he’s learning from his past and focusing on the present to make good decisions.
“You can’t get too far down the road in the future and you can’t get lost in the minutiae of the past or else the overwhelming dynamic of what you’ve done and what could happen down the road is this mountain of pressure.
“That could motivate you to pick up a drink to numb your feelings. I try hard to not go down that path. Here’s the ultimate thing: It’s a pragmatic approach to life now. This is how I approach every day: If it’s working for me, I’ll continue. What I say to myself is, ‘Do the next right thing.’ Simply just do the next right thing.”