The intro music played and the red light came on. It was show time. The all too familiar feeling for so many in the business, meant big nerves for Jake Asman. For the first time in his life, he was behind a live mic. There was no turning back now.
Just about every show host can recall their first ever time on the air. For some, it came in college at the school’s radio station. For others, it came during an internship with a station. But for Asman, it came all the way back in the ninth grade at his high school in Long Island at WXWZ 88.5 FM. Most freshman in high school don’t have a clue as to what they want to do after they graduate. It’s a distant decision that will take care of itself in 3-4 years. But Asman wasn’t like most high school freshman. He knew exactly what he wanted to do.
Granted, he can’t exactly remember what he talked about during his first day on the air, but he bets it was about his beloved New York Jets in the playoffs, seeing as his sports radio debut came in December of 2009. He always knew what he wanted to do, but this was more just confirmation. Asman wanted to be a sports radio host.
On Monday, Asman sat in the SB Nation studios at the ripe age of 23 to host the inaugural hour of The Power Hour with Jake Asman. He was hosting his own show with his own name attached to the title while in his early 20’s. Sure, there were probably a little bit of nerves, but nothing about it was overwhelming, seeing as he’d been in the seat many times before. Age didn’t matter as much as the number of reps he had received since his early days of high school. He was prepared for the moment and he delivered.
With PD Craig Larson and CEO David Gow deciding to grow and add talent at SB Nation, Asman was offered a weekday show from 7-8 p.m. It was a no-brainer decision for the guy that had graduated from Ithaca College just a short time before in 2017. But how did Asman move so quickly from a graduation gown, cap and tassel to a national radio show host?
The journey included working part time at WFAN/CBS Sports Radio as a board op and producer, as well as a short stop in Los Angeles to intern at Fox Sports Radio in the spring of 2016. While that time around the best in the business was extremely helpful, sometimes you have to just get behind the mic and figure out who you are and who you want to be.
After searching and searching for any kind of paid opening, Asman finally got an opportunity with an internet community start up called SportsOnTheGo1 Radio in Suffolk County, Long Island. At the same time he was with WFAN/CBS Sports Radio, SportsOnTheGo1 Radio gave him a daily show and even helped with sales to earn some extra cash. No, the listener base wasn’t huge, but he was getting the opportunity to learn the process and feel of doing a daily show. Plus, he was even able to take the show to the Super Bowl while he was there.
Asman is hosting his own show nationally syndicated show at 23 because of every little thing he did leading up to now. It goes all the way back to hosting a show in the 9th grade and getting ahead of everyone else his age. Back to spending nearly a year with SportsOnTheGo1 Radio to improve as a show host, despite the lack of listeners. Back to internships in New York and Los Angeles that gave him a front row seat as to how a successful radio show is done. Back to working at ESPN 97.5 in Houston and SB Nation Radio where his fill-in worked proved he was capable of hosting a daily show. His hard work, determination and willingness to explore the business at an early age, paved the way for a successful start to his promising career.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Asman is on a rocket ship up to the top of the business. His career trajectory is trending more favorably with each passing year. But his success isn’t by accident. Asman was once the young intern that read and listened to everything on Barrett Sports Media. But he was also the kid that found a way to get reps. If you’re someone who’s interested in the sports radio business but has no experience – find a way to get reps. It will only pay huge dividends in the long-term of your career.
TM: How is it doing a one-hour show? Is it challenging to fit everything you think is relevant and worthy of being discussed?
JA: Yeah, it’s a great question. So far, in the last couple of months, I’ve had a couple of opportunities to fill in for an hour here and there. So I’ve had experience doing it and I really think it just depends on the time of the year and what’s going on. Monday was a cake walk, because it was just a preview of the national championship game. You hit that and a segment on Wild Card weekend and you’re good.
There’s definitely going to be some days, after football season ends, where you really have to think and decide what the lead stories are, or an interesting angle to those stories. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to because you have an opportunity to really be creative when it’s just an hour, knowing that the whole premise of the show is to look back at what happened for that day, as well as the big games to come that night. A good challenge will be to come up with something funny and creative that the listener didn’t hear if they were previously listening to sports radio all day.
TM: Were you told by management, or maybe it’s just an unspoken rule, to really try to promote pieces from SB Nation on the air?
JA: So it’s interesting, with SB Nation Radio we promote a lot of our writers by having them on as guests. If you ever listen to the network on a random day, you’ll be hearing different writers and columnists on various shows throughout the day. The great thing about SB Nation Radio, is that anytime I had the opportunity to do extended fill-in work, a lot of times the guests would be writers from the website to cross-promote each other.
We also run a lot of spots on the network for SB Nation podcasts that are really starting to take off on the iTunes charts. But depending on the day and what the hot topic is, you’ll hear our writers on the air as guests.
TM: SB Nation seems to be growing and adding talent. What’s the goal for the network?
JA: We added over 25 new affiliates with the biggest ones in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Tulsa. It’s really exciting. A lot of that, of course, has to do with NBC Sports Radio not being 24/7 with their coverage anymore, so I give a lot of credit to our program director and CEO, that’s Craig Larson, for being really aggressive and bringing affiliates.
The hope, is that with bringing in more affiliates and expanding the reach of SB Nation Radio, it can only mean good things for everyone that works in the sales side of the network. I think we’re in a great place, it’s just the fact that we’re something different with our talent skewing as much younger than most. That offers fresh perspective on various topics throughout the day. Ultimately, 2019 is setting up to be a really awesome year, if you consider where SB Nation has been in year’s past and how it’s continuing to grow.
TM: It’s unique that you’re able to contribute to both SB Nation Radio and ESPN 97.5. Are both of those studios in the same building?
JA: Yeah, both are in the same exact building and about 10 feet from each other. It’s pretty cool. Take someone like Patrick Creighton who now does our 9-noon show every day. He hosts a show on the network and then he has a show that airs at night from 7-9 on ESPN 97.5. Both companies intertwine.
TM: If you’re young and trying to improve your hosting skills, can anything replace constant reps? Be it at a small station, podcast, whatever?
JA: I know this is Barrett Sports Media, I’ve been reading this site since the beginning. I remember when I was an intern at Fox Sports Radio in Los Angeles and I discovered it. I think a site like this, I think it’s awesome. If you’re into broadcasting and a radio junkie like I am, Barrett Sports Media is great to inform you and keep you up to date with what’s going on in the business.
I try to read everything and listen to as much sports talk radio as possible, but you said it best, there’s nothing that can replace reps. I think what’s great about where we are right now in 2019, is that anyone can find a mic and record a podcast. I spoke to a kid a few weeks ago that’s a ninth-grade student at the high school I went to, who wanted advice on how to get reps. I told him to find creative ways as possible to get experience. I always tell people to listen to sports talk radio, but do so with a critical ear. How are they formatting their show? What are they talking about? How are they developing the personalities? If you grew up listening to Mike Francesa on WFAN, that doesn’t mean try and be just like him. But you can ask yourself what makes him successful so you can find the format on how to do a really good show.
If sports radio is what you want to do, listen to as much of it as possible. If you want to do play-by-play, listen to as much of it as possible. Try and study as much as the business as you can. But yes, again, there’s nothing you can do to replace reps. If that means podcast, blogging, or even talking into your own phone, anything you can do will help you.