Jay Reynolds on his journey to ESPN | One New Person podcast | Highlight

Jay Reynolds on his journey to ESPN | One New Person podcast | Highlight


– Had the interview, felt
great, I’m on cloud nine, I get back to Upstate New York, I get called the next day, “You have to come back, “there’s something wrong
with the drug test.” (rhythmic music) – How do you get from being
a kid who’s into sports, and maybe, let’s even back up a little bit further than that, I mean, I assume you were an athlete? – I grew up playing youth
sports, as anybody else, in-season sports. Now, in this day and age,
kids specialize a lot earlier than they did when you
and I were growing up, but I played soccer in the fall, baseball in the spring, played a little bit of CYO basketball, never an outstanding
athlete, but I loved it. And as a kid, I would always say, there’s really two types of sports fans when you’re a kid. There’s the one who reads the
back of the baseball cards and memorizes the statistics, and the one who watches
somebody on TV and says, “Oh, I wanna go out in the back yard “and try and replicate
that play, or that dive, “or that swing,” and I was the latter, I wanted to go out and just play. You knew the big stats, but I didn’t memorize what was
his batting average in 1983 that just wasn’t me. So growing up, yes, always a sports fan. Times growing up I would
have my little tape recorder and a microphone, I would sit in my room and
pretend that I was on the radio, usually more like a music DJ, but my little radio station was WJAY, and I would sit in my room, and that was my radio experience, never thinking that that
was going to be my career. Looking back on it now, as
an adult looking back, say, “Wow, I’ve always been
interested in that,” but that was never front of mind. – When did that shift happen to you? – The shift actually happened
because of my procrastination, and I’ll get to that in a second, but the. (laughs) (laughs) – Perfect. That was unintentionally very funny, okay. – Pun intended. My parents kept a lot of
the stuff I did in school, and at some point, I think
it was early in high school, you do one of those
career evaluation things, you fill out the form and
you color in the bubbles, and it tells you what
you’re supposed to be, I found it years later, and what I wound up doing, as an adult professionally, really was what it told me in high school that I was gonna be doing. I said, “Wow, maybe there’s
some merit to these things.” I went to college for
communication journalism, and expected to be a print writer, newspapers, magazines, my junior year was coming to an end, I said, “Oh, well, this is the summer “where I need an internship,” and, of course, the school year ends in
beginning of May or something, and I’m probably there mid-April
looking for an internship. (laughs) And I go to the internship office and, without laughing at me, they
kind of laughed at me and said, “What are you coming in here now for?” The internship director
was more than kind, and knew somebody in Connecticut who was working at a radio station, who was from the same school, I went to Marist College
in Upstate New York, in Poughkeepsie, and he was a graduate of Marist, called him up, said, “Listen, I’ve got this guy
who’s gonna be in Connecticut “for the summer, you wanna
take him on as an intern?” He said, “Sure.” So I went, and I worked
in radio for that summer, between my junior and senior year, because it was a small, FM pop music station, the news guy was the
morning show sidekick, that was the extent of the news
department for this station. That radio station was
the official radio station for the local outdoor concert venue in Connecticut that summer, so my job as the intern, because he couldn’t stay up late at night, so my job was to go to all these concerts, interview all the acts that came through, and so I was backstage the entire summer, interviewing all these rock acts, Metallica, Debbie Gibson,
New Kids on the Block, – That’s awesome. – Mickey Dolenz, Chicago, the Beach Boys, the full gamut, not just one genre, and I came out of that summer saying, “Okay, this is cool, “radio, I think, is what I wanna do.” And that really just kinda kicked it in. – The more I talk to successful people, no matter how they define success, I find over, and over, and over again, that chance encounters, which, to me, is a form of luck, what do you think the role
of luck in success is? – I would not be at ESPN without luck. When I graduated college, I started working at
a small radio station, and then, after working
there for a couple of years, I was being laid off
as part of budget cuts. The day that I had that
conversation with the boss, I went home thinking,
“What am I gonna do?” My phone rings with a friend of mine from a radio station across the street, I, to this day, have no idea if he knew I was getting laid off, or if it was just dumb luck, saying, “Why don’t you come work with us?” Two weeks later I’m working over there, never had a gap in work. Got a two-week notice at one job, started two weeks later at
the station across the town, and that station was bigger and better, it was a launching pad for people, we had, somebody I worked
with went to Bloomberg, somebody else went to Showtime, CNN Radio, CNBC, and then me, ESPN, and there was one other who
went to WFAN in New York and now is at ABC, and ESPN. So it really turned out
to be a launching pad. When I was working at that second station, to set the scene, ESPN, at
its inception, ESPN Radio, was broadcasting only
Saturday and Sunday nights, the network would only broadcast
Saturday and Sunday nights, so everybody that was working
at ESPN Radio came in, they worked somewhere else
Monday through Friday, they would come in to Connecticut
for Saturday and Sunday, work the two nights, and then back off to their “regular” jobs, and one of those people I worked with in the Hudson Valley of New York, and his name was Jeff. Jeff would work Monday through
Friday at our radio station, he would go over to ESPN on the weekends, he got married, they were
gonna start a family, no longer could he work seven days a week. ESPN asked him, “Jeff, you know anybody
who could do your job?” “Well there’s Jay.” So ESPN called me. It’s a long, drawn-out story,
but you talk about luck, that was right place, right time, they called me, I drove to
Connecticut to interview at ESPN, as an aside, they had, at the time, I don’t think it’s part
of the practice anymore, but you had to have a drug
test coming in to work, that was one of the first things
I did before the interview, had the interview, felt
great, I’m on cloud nine, I get back to Upstate New York, I get called the next day, “You have to come back, “there’s something wrong
with the drug test.” – Oh my God. – My mind is racing, this was a time where, “Did I eat a lemon poppy seed muffin? “Did that cause a negative test result?” All of these things are
rushing through my head. “How did I blow my opportunity at ESPN?” They couldn’t tell me what
was wrong with the drug test, it wound up being a
chain of command thing, so they never even tested anything, but I didn’t know that, and I’m sweating, and I’m like, “Oh, I’ve blown my chance at ESPN.” Came back, everything was fine, and here we are now, but I remember those couple of hours just being absolutely panicked at what could have possibly
gone wrong (laughs). So, yes, two major lucky moments over the course of my adult life, have put me there. (bright music)

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