We taped Friday’s Yak two weeks ago due to everyone’s travel schedules, so it seemed like a safe place to break news. In a pitch that dated back nearly a year, I asked to move into full-time content. My title for my entire tenure at Barstool was Senior Director of Advertising Operations. It’s a job I loved, but it’s time for a change.
I signed my offer letter for Barstool in August 2016. I was so excited to go from a big giant corporation to a scrappy little startup that was completely unfiltered and genuine. I admired the way everyone worked and lived. I loved seeing The Dave Portnoy Show, Pardon My Take, KFC Radio and other programs come together and grow. My job was originally to integrate programmatic advertising into barstoolsports.com. But we soon tried to start selling our half-dozen podcasts on our own, because an affiliate was handling 100% of the sales at the time and that was under my purview. I fondly remember in December 2016, I kept a notepad where I hand-wrote all the deals our sales team made for our pods and crossed those with the affiliate. It quickly turned into an excel sheet where we sold 100% of our own inventory, which turned into a full CRM that now has people working just on it.
I was a lone wolf for the first few years, making sure all ads were read correctly and in the right places. I sat at my desk every day and listened to Barstool Radio with Dave, Kevin, Liz and Frankie with Coley or Caleb mixed in on occasion. I’ve always admired Frankie Borrelli for his producing skills on this show. He was younger than me and we actually started at Barstool the same day, but for him to produce such a high quality show without any previous experience was amazing to me. One day Dave announced that we would have our own channel on Sirius and my mind raced with possibilities. What would the shows be? Who would produce them? What would they look like? Growing up we mostly listened to sports radio in the car and I was a big fan of Mike & Mike in the Morning. Radio seemed like the top to me at the time, so I bugged the head of content at the time to see if I could get a picture similar to Frankie’s and produce a show, any show . I would do it in my free time, without paying extra. I would just be happy to learn and be part of a show. After teasing him enough times, we got permission, but there was a catch. The catch was from 6 to 7 p.m. every night. But the positive side was with Big Cat.
I had known Big Cat at the office, but we didn’t know each other personally. I had to meet him to get him to approve it and he seemed enthusiastic about my eagerness and said sure. We had about a week to put on a show, so we decided on a name, got a logo, secured the social handles, and got ready for the show. I have scheduled a daily 30 minute meeting with the hosts of The Evening Yak, Big Cat, Rone and
Jared Carrabis NAME DELETED. I found out years later that Big Cat hated them and in turn didn’t like me for a few months to begin with.
But my big break came a few months before radio started when Frankie noticed I was doing All-22 cuts on Twitter. This caught Dave’s attention and I still remember him laughing when he came up to me asking if he could blog about it. He said he knew I wasn’t happy, but it was so weird he had to talk about it. Right after publishing, Steven Cheah, as you know him, was born into the Barstool universe.
Producing The Evening Yak and being on Dave’s radar turned out to be a good thing. When Pat McAfee left Barstool, he left the only other football podcast we had, which we had sold advertising dollars against. I had been assured that we would have a show to fill it, but things were coming to the 25th hour, so they asked Dave to do the show with Willie Colon and Tommy Smokes. They would just need a producer who knows the ball. That’s where I slipped in and with Dave thinking I was a total crackpot, it was an easy yes from him. I got a ton of exposure on him that season and got my first “Welcome to Barstool” moment when I forgot to press record five minutes into a rant from Dave. Other than that, the show went well and now I had a satisfied foot squarely in the door.
A few months later, I noticed a gap in our coverage. No one was covering the NFL Draft. I was the most qualified, but I had never posted a blog before. I contacted KMarko to see if it would be cool if I posted a blog and a day later I had posted my first dummy draft. I also made my podcast debut by hopping on MicksTape to talk about the NFL Draft. It has become an annual tradition that has always been a delight. It’s crazy to think that all the draft talk would evolve into the show En Eff El Draft which I co-host with Rone and Brandon Walker and one of the most fun projects I’ll ever work on.
The following season, Laces Out became
The Surf and Turf Podcast Going Deep with myself and Willie Colon. It was a show based on interviews with former players designed to be raw and unfiltered. We had a great time and it was such a different goal than I was used to seeing NFL players.
Last year I made my pitch for a full-time content that was supposed be very low. It was a long process, but in the middle of it Big Cat suggested I take over Fantasy Football Factory with Ben Mintz. Hank, Rone, and Nick all had other priorities that wouldn’t allow them the time to be on the show, so it made perfect sense. Although I don’t always agree with him, Mintzy is a great guy and I think we make a really good team. The show was a lot of fun last year and I really loved diving into the prop betting market, which I really found a niche in. @TrustTheData on twitter for all my game picks.
I also got involved in The Dozen over Quarantine. Jeff D. Lowe had started a game show remotely and he and I are buddies, so I was really flattered when he asked me to play. My first match was on a team with Large and Zah and we narrowly lost. I had some big answers in the match and Jeff decided to move me to play with Big Cat and Rone since we were all original members of The Yak. It’s been a huge blessing to play on a traveling tour with two of our company’s biggest stars.
One day in March 2021, Jeff was on the Yak hosting a bracket style tournament around fast food chains while a group of our guys were traveling for March Madness. The episode got great reviews and Jeff told me he wanted to do a project like this every week with the same crew. It became The Bracket which is one of my favorite activities. It’s a weekly show that we tape on Tuesday nights to discuss the best or worst of a particular topic. But it’s really just a veil for tearing things up and telling jokes with friends and after each recording my face usually hurts from laughing and smiling. It’s such a joy to do.
While doing all of this, my constant has always been The Yak. I’m so proud of this show both for what it is and what it will become. It’s crazy how we’ve grown as a series and all grown closer as friends. It really makes this hour incredibly enjoyable, because it’s all about laughing and joking around with your friends. With this move, I’m excited to be able to contribute more to this show.
Essentially juggling two jobs was extremely difficult. I work almost exclusively. I have very few other hobbies or interests. During quarantine, I was regularly getting up so late to create my own brand/content and catch up on my Ops work that I learned to navigate my house in total darkness. Over the past few months, not much has changed in regards to my schedules, so first I’d like to thank my wife for just putting up with what has been my crazy gig for the past few years. It has escalated a lot and has certainly been stressful and there is no way I can do this without his constant support.
But there are actually so many people, including a few I’ve mentioned here, who have really helped me get here. Big Cat has been my biggest advocate internally and always pushed me, which I can’t thank him enough for. My boss on the business side, Jenn Popack, has been around since day one and really helped get her across the finish line with our new Human Resources Manager, Kim Rayner. Michael West aka Westy was extremely helpful with advice on how to become a prized possession in the eyes of Penn from a gaming standpoint. Obviously a big thank you to Dave and Erika who have both supported me over the years playing two roles and now moving to one. Also a big thank you to all the content people who have supported me in this pursuit and more importantly thank you to all the Stoolies especially everyone in the Cheah Hive for following, reading, listening, watching and consuming my content. It’s a W for all of us. I am excited to begin.