Wednesday, April 09, 2008
An interview with Fox Sports' Ben Maller
Ben Maller does your dirty work. As a blogger desperate for a good story, his Fox Sports site is the one we constantly turn to. He compiles some of the juiciest rumors and best under-the-radar items beneath one roof, making it easy to find blog-worthy material. While not putting together the site, he's a radio host. You can hear him on "The Third Shift on Fox" here. And he's on MySpace, too! Go say hi.
1. The rundown:
Name: Ben Maller
Age: Early 30's
Location: Los Angeles
Occupation: Radio Talk Jock and Web Sports Gossip God
Favorite team: Dodgers
2. First off, we're awfully curious how you parlayed BenMaller.com (unpaid) in to a job with FOX Sports (paid)? You approach them? They come to you? Meet in the middle over some drinks and overpriced appetizers?
I had been blogging away on my own for years (unpaid) when I was contacted by an executive at FoxSports.com. He said they where big fans of my work and wanted to pay me lots of Rupert Murdock's money to have it under the FOX brand. I had actually drawn interest from other
major sports websites, but felt more comfortable with FOX because of my radio work.
3. Your résumé must be loaded to have the radio gig as well as the .com job with FOX Sports. Take us through your career path, starting with your schooling, internships, first jobs, etc.
I could say go to school kids and study hard. That would be a big fat lie. I had a big plan to do the university thing and learn my craft. Things didn't work out that way. Had an internship at a major West Coast sports talker in San Diego (XTRA 690am - 77,000 watt border blaster via Mexico). Around the time it was ending they offered me a coffee boy job. I worked my way up from running the board on San Diego State basketball, to covering high school football games. Instead of acquiring thousands of dollars in student loans, I was a jock sniffer who made no money but had the time of my life. As they say in Toledo: the rest is history.
4. Take us through a typical day of work for you, if such a thing exists. And give us some insight to how Ben Maller's rumors are put together. Do you get emailed tips? Scour the depths of the Internet looking for the best content? How does putting together the rumors factor in with your time on the air?
Wake up mid afternoon. Surf a few of the major sports sites to see what big stories happened while I was hibernating. Exploring possible topics for my radio show. This all takes about an hour. Then head out to grab a combo lunch/dinner. Get back into my office 5ish. Start
writing radio show notes. Meet with my producer Greg Bergman about that night's show, write my monologue. Then begin work on the next day's rumor page for FoxSports.com. At 10pm its off to the Auto Zone studios of Fox Sports Radio for that night's show (11pm pacific time). Meet again with my producer after the show about how terrible things went. (Sometimes it's good!) Then drive 95 MPH back to my office near Dodger Stadium (no LA traffic at 3am) to continue building the rumor page. Work till 8am putting it all together. Spend about an hour winding down and head to bed.
I've been contacted by scouts and executives from a handful of teams. Many of the "Insiders" for broadcast companies have become great sources of info. I interviewed Dodgers GM Ned Colletti last year on my old radio show, he commented (unrequested) on the air about how he
reads the rumor page. I scan give or take 180 newspapers a night and probably another 20 to 30 sites for NASCAR and sports gossip news. Get an average of 10 items a day from tips via e mail.
5. Dream job? Go.
I'm living my dream.
6. Read any blogs? Which ones?
Well of course this one, since you are interviewing me. I really don't have much time to check them out. Some of the old blogs I would read have become major sites. Heck many newspapers these days have a bunch of guys pretending to be bloggers. Guess I don't know what a regular independent blog is these days.
7. Where you are at FOX Sports with the radio show and Web portion, at your age and with your experience, what's the next logical career step?
You never wanna stand still, but I'd like to keep building my name brand by doing these gigs for a long time. I love late night radio, the callers are better, the vibe is more fun. Most radio during the day is too stiff for my tastes.
8. We've dabbled with the idea of getting in to sports radio because, frankly, we can't think of a job that's more fun: you get to talk about sports all day (or night). Is it as dreamy as we think or are there the pet peeves and downsides that come with any job?
It's the best. I always have an excuse. Sorry can't do something, (i.e. shopping with girlfriend, house work) have to watch that NFL game for WORK.
As for hosting the show, its not just about doing sports; anyone can do that. It's about doing a good radio show. That's what separates the bad hosts from the guys who make it big in this business.
9. Has being a FOX Sports employee led to access to any noteworthy sporting events, parties with Playmates or run-ins with celebs?
I hung out with Jay Mohr (he's a fan of the website) at a Clippers game and have spent many nights at Dodger Stadium talking baseball with David Lander (aka Squiggy from Laverne & Shirley) does that count as celebrity run ins? Kind of pathetic if you ask me. What happened
to the Playmates and models?
10. You're having dinner with a dead president, professional athlete and female celebrity. Who are they and why?
William Howard Taft, Babe Ruth and Marilyn Monroe. Taft is the last fat president, I'm guessing he knows a good meal and loved baseball. Babe can eat and he has to tell me how many of those stories are true. I need to see Marilyn to know if she was as beautiful as the legend goes and also hear some of those crazy stories.