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Richmond Weaver’s Long Road to Sports Radio

Tyler McComas

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“(Deshaun) Watson takes the snap, rolls right, looks to the end zone…Hunter Renfrow caught it! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! With a second left, Watson hits Renfrow and Clemson grabs a 34-31 lead!” 

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That was the infamous call by Don Munson of the Clemson Radio Network as the Tigers clinched the 2016 National Championship over Alabama, it’s second in school history. At that moment, the lives of Dabo Swinney, Deshaun Watson and Hunter Renfrow changed forever. Until eternity, those three names will be synonymous with the greatest moment the Clemson program has ever seen. But what if I told you a father of three in Greenville, SC would also experience a life-altering moment from that play? A story that would change the fate of a medical device salesman into hosting both a podcast and a local sports radio show. 

A proud Clemson grad, Richmond Weaver was frustrated during most of the national championship game. During the tensest moments of the game, he was dealing with a nightmare television scenario at his home. While his daughter had friends over to watch the game in another room, Weaver’s TV was three seconds behind in the action. His daughter and her friends signified the play to come by their loud cheers before he even saw it. Not exactly ideal when your team is playing for a championship, but as Clemson approached the line of scrimmage down three points with six seconds left, Weaver said he only wanted to hear his daughter scream for joy. 

As Watson’s pass entered Renfrow’s arms, Weaver initially reacted the way you’d expect any sports fan that’s been waiting 35 years to see their team win a national title. There was joy, there was jubilation, but there was also one prevailing thought that struck and hit deep: He needed to start a podcast. In Weaver’s mind, the gut-wrenching game he had just watched proved that anything is possible. Though he was in his mid-40’s, it was time to chase the passion that had been on his mind for several months. 

Weaver admits that he gave up on his dream at the first sign of adversity. From his high school days, all the way through college and then into his 20’s, he had the burning desire to be a basketball coach. For a short time, that dream was realized as he spent three years as an assistant at the Division 1 level, one at Fairleigh Dickinson and two at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Through his large list of connections, Weaver thought he finally caught his big break in 1996 at the age of 25 after being promised a job at Auburn as an assistant. 

Turns out, the coach he was replacing decided not to leave the school. As fast as it had come together, Weaver was now out of a coaching job. Sure, other positions were available at the D2 and JUCO ranks, but none of them were the D1 coaching position he thought he deserved. 

His pride and ego got to him. Instead of coaching that season, he accepted an opportunity as a pharmaceutical salesman. He took it and never again realized his dream of coaching. Weaver wondered how he could preach to his kids about following their dreams and passions when he left his behind way too soon. 20 years after walking away, he knew he wanted to get back into sports, somehow, someway. 

A little over a month after the podcast idea hit Weaver hard during Clemson’s national championship win, he realized he never cashed in on something he had won at an auction. The prize, was a visit to the ESPN Upstate studio to see how a functioning sports radio station worked. The description to bidders promised the chance of even sitting in as a co-host for a segment. After being the only bidder, Weaver toured the studio and eventually co-hosted numerous segments with Mark Sturgis. He was instantly hooked and knew it was for him.

Sports podcasting or radio had never been a dream of his, but this was his way of getting back into sports and chasing a passion he left behind. Now, more than ever, the burning desire of starting a podcast was on his mind. Turns out, Sturgis was impressed with his co-host for the day, especially since he’d never done it before. As Weaver walked out the door that day, Sturgis made a remark in passing, “have you ever tried doing a podcast before?” 

Weaver knew it was God speaking to him.

Today, Rich Take on Sports is a podcast centered on how much sports has impacted, built and inspired coaches, players, media personalities and others in today’s world. Now through 68 episodes, the extensive guest list ranges from Mark Schlereth to Dwight Gooden, Digger Phelps and many more, all with different messages on how sports helped shape their life and successes. 

Through out his journey of trying to build a successful podcast, Weaver continually kept in contact with Sturgis. That led to opportunities as an occasional co-host with the two paired on the same show at ESPN Upstate. Sturgis continued to like the duo so much, that he invited Weaver to regularly co-host the show with him for three days a week. The father of three that was just trying to spark a passion was now hosting both a podcast and a sports radio show. 

Though the lucrative payment of 50 dollars a show wasn’t enough to draw Weaver away from his medical sales job, the climb in the sports radio business continued as ESPN Upstate wanted to expand his role by adding him to the 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. slot. He’s there every week day, as a co-host of The Huddle with G-Mack and Lonzo. 

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I’ll use a quote from the late Sean Adams: “The dream is free, the hustle is sold separately. Go to work.” There’s probably not a quote that more accurately fits Weaver’s journey from a college basketball coach, to medical salesman to podcast and radio host. 

TM: What if I told the kid that wanted so desperately to be a D1 basketball coach, that he would someday be a podcast and sports radio host? 

RV: That you’re a liar. No way, this would have never been on my radar at all. 

TM: I think when some people start a podcast, they get frustrated because it takes a while to gain momentum and get listeners. Did you experience any of that? 

RV: I still struggle with that, Tyler. Initially, I would get consumed with not having very many downloads and focusing more on numbers, rather than focusing on content. I’ve tried to have a complete mind shift that, just focus on content, have guests sharing their stories and it will build. I do remember getting specific emails at times from people that I didn’t know. They were describing how they enjoyed the podcast and that was just another affirmation to me that I needed to keep on going. That’s the mindset that I have. But I still struggle with wishing the podcast was bigger, but that’s just human nature. 

TM: How do you get so many big names on your podcast? 

RV: I wish I could tell you. Other than perseverance, I’ve been in sales for 20 years, since I got out of coaching. In all reality, I was even selling when I was coaching with recruiting. For whatever reason, I’ve just had this ability to connect with people. For me, it was just all about reaching out. Some of it is having connections, which helps. But I started seeking out opportunities that I could meet some people and establish new ones. I went to the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony and that’s where I met Levon Kirkland. When I approached guys like that, I just told my story. In terms of I had a passion for sports, I was in coaching, got out of coaching, I regret it and now want to share stories that have some type of connection with sports. That’s how I started going about it. I’ve met people on social media, there’s just a myriad of opportunities that have found me since I started the podcast. 

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TM: Now that you’re chasing a passion, how has that changed your everyday attitude? 

RV: It’s really allowed me to embrace the simple fact that it’s okay to fail but it’s not okay to not try. You have to try. Let God run you down different pathways and be able to understand that no matter what it is, life is not passive. You have to reject passivity. That’s what it’s showed me each and every day. If you continue to stay active and you continue to have faith and trust in God, then you can half the courage, confidence and conviction to walk into the unknown. One of the things that I love about the podcast and the radio, is the connections that I’m making. Regardless of where they lead, it’s just a connection that’s what energizes me. 

TM: What would you say to someone who was once in your position, in terms of wanting to do podcast, but just can’t get the motivation to try it? 

RV: Just press record and start. That’s the biggest for me, was rejecting the passivity. Life is about activity and being active. You just can’t worry about what the outcome is, instead, worry what the content is. You just have to start. I kept telling myself I wanted to start a podcast, but after I got enough clues, I finally started. Literally, after I pressed record and did the first episode I thought, well, we’re going. It hasn’t stopped since then. 

BSM Writers

Andrew Perloff Learned From The Master of Sports Radio on Television

“I think I’m really lucky because I went from a really fun and supportive place in the Dan Patrick Show and have now transitioned into what I would also call a very fun and supportive place at CBS Sports Radio/Audacy.”

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It’s a fact of life that not everybody loves their job. To have a job that you love and have fun at is pretty special. For Andrew Perloff, life is good.

“I’m just watching so much sports during the week,” said Perloff. “I don’t come up for air watching sports and I love that.  And the fact that we get paid to sit on the couch for 72 hours…oh my God…it really is the best job in the world.”

That job is being the co-host of Maggie & Perloff weekdays from 3pm to 6pm eastern time on CBS Sports Radio and simulcast on CBS Sports Network. Perloff was an on-air personality on The Dan Patrick Show beginning in 2009 before making the switch to CBS Sports Radio for the new show with Maggie Gray that launched this past January.

And so far, the move has worked out.

“I’m really happy,” said Perloff. “I think I’m really lucky because I went from a really fun and supportive place in the Dan Patrick Show and have now transitioned into what I would also call a very fun and supportive place at CBS Sports Radio/Audacy. I miss the DP Show but I love my new co-workers. (Vice President of Programming) Spike Eskin and (New York Market President) Chris Oliviero have been great. We get a lot of support and a lot of help from those guys and they’ve made the transition so much easier.”

When a new radio program begins, chemistry between the hosts is vital to the success of the growth and success of the show. In the case of Maggie & Perloff, they had an existing friendship from their time working together at Sports Illustrated. 

And that relationship is certainly evident to the listeners.

“I’m having a great time with Maggie,” said Perloff who was an editor and contributing writer at Sports Illustrated and SI.com. “We knew each other pretty well at Sports Illustrated. We’ve been friends for a while now. I have gotten to know her a lot better through the show. It took a couple of months to really find our rhythm and get the show to where we wanted to get it.”

There has been a fun and evolving dynamic to the on and off-air chemistry between the hosts.  Perloff is from Philadelphia and a die-hard Eagles fan while Gray is a fan of the Buffalo Bills.  The Eagles have the best record in the NFC at 11-1 while the Bills are among the best teams in the AFC at 9-3.

Perloff has come to understand just how much Gray loves the Bills and there is a chance that their two teams could meet come February 12th in Arizona for Super Bowl LVII.

“She’s a very passionate Buffalo Bills fan,” said Perloff.  “I always knew that, but to actually sit there on a daily basis and see her sweat out every detail about the Buffalo Bills has been a lot of fun.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’re on a collision course for the Super Bowl and we’re already trying to figure out a Super Bowl bet.”

The easy wager to set up would involve food.

If the Bills win, Perloff would have to give Gray some Philly cheesesteaks.

If the Eagles win, Gray would have to furnish Perloff with some Buffalo Wings.

But it appears as if management wants there to be more at stake for the potential bet.

“Our boss wants us to do something more severe,” said Perloff. “The truth is I’m an Eagles fan so I’ve already won my Super Bowl. Maggie, on the other hand, has no idea what that feels like. I almost feel sorry for her because it’s tough being a Bills fan.

“We have a pretty big rivalry with our team because she’s a Mets fan and I’m a Phillies fan. We get along great expect for those areas.”

The Maggie & Perloff chemistry extends throughout the show and that includes producer Michael Samtur who has his own rooting interests.

Samtur is a fan of the New York Jets who are having a better-than-expected season.

“When the Jets win, I don’t want to see Mike on Monday mornings because he’s smiling so much,” said Perloff. “He’s an unbelievably cynical Jets fan…it’s hysterically funny.

“Mike is doing a great job. It’s really an all-hands-on deck show. I think we all sort of kind of wear each other’s hats at certain times.”

An added element to the show is that it is also simulcast on CBS Sports Network. If there’s one thing that Perloff learned from working with Dan Patrick — who also has a simulcast on television — is that the program is a radio show that just happens to have cameras in the studio. At the end of the day, it’s a radio show on television and not a television show on the radio.

“That’s also my philosophy,” said Perloff. “From a logistical standpoint, to do a good radio show you can’t really focus on the TV side of it. For us, the foundation of the base is to really focus on the radio show and the TV and video comes naturally after that.”

Perloff’s resume also includes writing and co-writing an assortment of magazine stories, books, and television shows while also hosting his own weekend show on NBC Sports Radio from 2016 to 2019. But it was working on The Dan Patrick Show where he learned an important aspect of being a talk show host that he continues to live by at CBS Sports Radio.

What he learned was that you just have to be yourself.

“Dan always wanted us to be authentic in the sense that don’t try to be someone you’re not,” said Perloff. “Don’t try to come up with hot takes just for the sake of hot takes. When you listen to Dan Patrick on the radio, you’re really hearing Dan. He’s not a radically different person off air.”

This is a huge time of the year for sports radio. 

The NFL’s regular season is winding down and college football is heading towards bowl season and the College Football Playoff. Throw in the NBA, college basketball, NHL, and the World Cup and there’s so much going on in the sports world to talk about. 

Perloff can’t get enough of it.

“I love it so much,” said Perloff. “College football is just huge right now. When we bring up a college football story, the phone lines just light up which I think is a reflection of the growing interest in that sport. This is the best time of the year. It’s incredible.”

As Maggie & Perloff head towards their first anniversary on the air, there are goals and expectations heading into 2023. The show has grown tremendously over the course of the first year and while that may have occurred faster than expected, the hope is that the trend continues.

“I’ve been a little surprised by how fast the audience has grown and our connection with the audience,” said Perloff. “One of the great things about The Dan Patrick Show was the community feel with the show and all of the listeners. That’s definitely growing with us and I’d like to see that really take off next year. It makes it so much more fun when you’re doing the show and everybody is along for the ride.”

It’s been a great ride so far and it should be interesting to see what happens if that ride includes an Andrew Perloff vs Maggie Gray Super Bowl matchup in February. It’s not even because the breakdown of Eagles vs Bills would be fascinating but the audience wants more.

That Super Bowl bet would certainly be intriguing.   

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BSM Writers

ESPN Is Telling Redemption Stories For Guys Who Didn’t Earn Them

“Redemption narratives are easy. They are for storytellers what naming a local restaurant on stage is to Mick Jagger – a short path to a cheap pop.”

Demetri Ravanos

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In the grand canon of American storytelling, no road is more well-worn than the redemption tale. Our culture loves a good story of someone who has fallen reclaiming their previously held glory in some way.

We see it in literature with Charles Dickins’s A Christmas Carol and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. It’s on Broadway in Les Miserables, in film with Star Wars and Groundhog Day, and in the stories of countless characters across hundreds of television shows.

Redemption narratives are easy. They are for storytellers what naming a local restaurant on stage is to Mick Jagger – a short path to a cheap pop.

Over the weekend, ESPN found itself participating in the telling of two redemption stories. In neither case, did the subject seem to earn the soft focus restoration project.

Less than twelve hours after College GameDay devoted nearly seven minutes to letting newly hired Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze avoid answering any hard questions or facing any real criticism for his past behavior, Adam Schefter posted a story about the progress Deshaun Watson has made in an effort to stop masturbating in front of people.

Redemption stories that are real are worth celebrating. The network was one of many media outlets that milked Josh Hamilton’s story for every ounce of content. A former number one overall draft pick that fell into drug and alcohol abuse, Hamilton completed rehab and made his MLB debut at age 26 in Cincinnati. The next year, he was traded to the Texas Rangers and began an unbelievable run that included five All Star game appearances, three Silver Slugger awards, and being named AL and ALCS MVP in 2010.

Hamilton had done the work. He had admitted his past mistakes and sought help for them. On top of that, he was willing to talk about the most embarrassing parts of his life with anyone who would ask in the hopes that it could help someone.

Now, the guy’s story doesn’t have an “and they all lived happily ever after” ending. Search Hamilton’s name online and you will see that he fell back into some serious trouble as recently as two years ago. That is irrelevant to the point I am making though.

Josh Hamilton, unlike Hugh Freeze and Deshaun Watson, didn’t get the Bristol-produced redemption arc until he proved he was worthy of at it. Freeze and Watson each got theirs this weekend simply because it is easy content to produce.

College Gameday originated from outside AT&T Stadium on Saturday ahead of the Big 12 Championship Game. Freeze appeared on set in the show’s second hour. To host Rece Davis’s credit, the first question he asked Auburn’s new hire was about how his past mistakes will “inform and impact the way you plan to run the program at Auburn?” 

“If you handle them the right way with owning it and making the necessary changes, and then playing the next play,” Freeze answered. “I think over the last seven years, that’s what it’s lead to for me is just being a guy that really wants to lead a passionate and disciplined life.”

No one even challenged Freeze. No one said, “Hang on. Did you own your biggest mistakes?” No one pointed out that Freeze’s most vocal critics, of which I will admit I am one, don’t care that he got caught using a cell phone owned by the University of Mississippi, where he coached before, to contact escorts. That is objectively hilarious. None of us care Ole Miss was paying players long before NIL was a thing. Most of us believe that was happening everywhere.

We object to the fact that this guy routinely does name searches of himself on Twitter and gets in the DMs of people that talk shit about him. He uses his phony, church-y bullshit to try and bully them into either praising him or backing off. We object to the fact that he did this to a sexual assault victim suing his former employer Liberty University. We object to the fact that when he was under NCAA investigation at Ole Miss, he and his bosses falsely accused predecessor Houston Nutt of setting up the payment system before he got to Oxford. I’ve never once seen a public apology for any of that.

But GameDay didn’t go there. Instead we got platitudes about what it will take to get Auburn back to the top of the SEC and Pat McAfee yucking it up at the idea that Twitter was going to miss his antics following a rumor that Auburn had made giving up a social media presence part of Freeze’s new deal.

It isn’t even really fair to call this a redemption arc. It was a softening. The network used time on one of its signature shows to make someone so objectionable more palatable.

Adam Schefter’s story was far less egregious, but it does bare mentioning because the end result is the same. The headline reads “Deshaun Watson showing ‘progress’ in treatment program, sources say”. That’s an interesting assertion, given that Watson “stands on his innocence” and denies that he has done anything wrong at all.

The story quotes a source connected to Watson’s treatment program as saying that “It’s just sort of ongoing as needed, and it’ll be ongoing until it’s not needed anymore.” While this person does admit that the therapy could be needed “for a while,” he or she does not comment on if Deshaun Watson has changed his opinion of how he ended up in this situation or if he can even acknowledge the pain he is accused of causing these women.

All we get is a seal of approval from what Schefter describes as “NFL and NFLPA experts”. It’s a story that the league certainly wanted told with the QB getting ready to make his debut the next day.

I am not advocating for anyone writing off ESPN as a network. The network regularly does wonderful work. In fact, College GameDay and Adam Schefter both regularly do wonderful work for ESPN.Hell, FOX did the same thing this weekend. The only difference was that the entity they were shilling for wasn’t an objectionable human being. It was Alexi Lalas going on TV and with a straight face trying to tell us that the United States really was the better team in its 3-1 loss to the Netherlands at the World Cup.

Sports journalism exists in on television in what can be a very confusing a treacherous eco-system. Talent and writers are expected to tell stories, but sometimes they are put in a position where the unspoken goal is less about being transparent and more about giving league partners a helping hand.

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T-Bob Hebert Likens Himself to a Town Crier For 104.5 ESPN

“I’ve done nothing more in my adult life than take information, filter it through my brain, and try to spew it back out in an entertaining way.”

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Many sports radio shows are centered around a radio host and a former athlete. On 104.5 ESPN in Baton Rouge, however, Off The Bench features a pair of former LSU Tigers in the morning, with former offensive lineman T-Bob Hebert joining former running back Jacob Hester. And while Hebert was adamant he now loves his job, the medium wasn’t something he necessarily wanted to do after his playing career.

After being cut by the Rams on the final day of training camp in 2012, Hebert needed to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“All of the sudden I’m like ‘Oh my god, dude. I’m engaged. I have a life to live and I gotta figure out what I wanna do’,” Hebert said. “I kind of looked up and was like ‘I don’t know anything but football’. Which is kinda comes with the territory with the demands that are places on modern major power five athletes. Not for everybody, but for me, I committed to football. I got a general studies degree from LSU. I did not take advantage of the academic opportunity. So I’m just sitting there thinking ‘this is all I know. I’ve been pretty good at doing interviews and they send me to SEC Media Days. Maybe I should do that’.

“I didn’t think I wanted to. My dad did radio, and when I was on the playing side of it I’d get annoyed by the media. So I never wanted to do it. And like so many other athletes, I came to that point where that single activity you’ve engaged in your entire life is gone and you have to find a different way to engage with it.”

Hebert’s father, Bobby, was a Pro Bowl quarterback before eventually embarking on a media career of his own. And now the younger Hebert realizes that his father working in the medium played a role in his own radio career.

“It was integral to me getting into radio. Because I remember going with him — and nobody knows this — but before he was doing Saints radio for 870 (WWL-AM) in New Orleans, he was doing radio for the Falcons pregame and postgames in Atlanta when he got done playing there. I remember going to the shows or going into the studio and thinking they were fun. Then he goes to the Saints and I remember going up in the WWL studios. It was a lot of that.”

Bobby Hebert being a media member wasn’t the only reason T-Bob was drawn to radio. He pointed out Atlanta radio hosts like Steve McCoy, Fred Toucher, Jimmy Baron, Leslie Fram, and Doug and Ryan Stewart as influences on why he wanted to embark on a radio career. But being able to still work his creative muscles while also talking about sports is one of the biggest draws for Hebert.

“I love it. I love the creativity of reading and writing and basically offering commentary on things and just a kind of town crier aspect of it. Talking to people every morning through the radio or on YouTube or whatever. I really like it.”

His father currently hosts the afternoon show on WWL, and that influence led to T-Bob getting his first break in the industry.

“I’m a big beneficiary of nepotism,” Hebert admitted. “The first real job that I ever got in radio was hosting a show that I really didn’t deserve at all in New Orleans. And really the only reason I got the opportunity was because my dad had been on the radio at WWL forever and it was like one of their sister stations that was trying something new. So I tried to make the most of that opportunity, and I got a chance that I did not deserve that many people don’t get.”

If you’ve ever listened to Off The Bench — or watched on the station’s YouTube stream — you’ll immediately see Hebert is comfortable with who he is. He pointed to his football playing career as one of the biggest reasons for his comfort.

“This is gonna sound really dumb – I’ve always had very nerdy interests. Things that I’m just naturally attracted to and enjoy very much fall into the silo of nerdy. Lord of the Rings, anything fantasy/sci-fi, I love it. Oddly enough, the simple fact that I was just bigger than a lot of people, I never got picked on growing up about any of this stuff. I never got picked on in general, so I think it just kind of allowed me in a lot of ways to be myself and not have to worry about any of the repercussions of having to be myself.”

While admitting that he still sometimes deals with “Imposter Syndrome” and self-doubt, Hebert knows he’s working on mastering the craft.

“I think the reason why most the time I do feel confident and I do feel good is I’ve kinda been doing this for a long time. I’ve hosted a daily, three-hour radio show for just about 10 years now. Again, a lot of that is a direct result of me getting a job at an early age that I did not deserve. But it comes into the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours, right? You do something for 10,000 hours and you’re gonna get really good at it. I’ve done nothing more in my adult life than take information, filter it through my brain, and try to spew it back out in an entertaining way.”

In addition to his role at 104.5 ESPN in Baton Rouge, Hebert launched SNAPS, a college football podcast for The Volume, co-hosting alongside former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, which he says the only difference between his radio show and podcast is the amount of commercials.

“It’s got more of a relaxed vibe. I actually enjoy not having to go to commercials,” Hebert said with a chuckle. “That is something I always feel for my radio listeners. Our station is good with it. I’ve been at stations in the past where it’s like 28 minutes of content and 32 minutes of commercials and stuff per hour. It can be brutal as a listener and I feel for them, but that’s how the content gets out there for free. Then you go to a podcast and it’s just an hour straight and that’s a nice difference. It’s all just taking and talking, though. It’s all the same, really.”

Earlier this fall, SNAPS recorded a live episode at the popular Walk-Ons restaurant and bar in Baton Rouge. While noting the SEC Championship Game — which featured Murray and Hebert’s alma mater’s pitted against one another — would have been a great opportunity to do another live event, there was a good reason it didn’t come together. Bobby Joseph Hebert IV was born Friday, December 2nd.

“When this football season started, my wife was like ‘This baby is due the day before the SEC Championship Game’, and I was like ‘Babe, do not worry. If there is ever a year not to worry. There is no freaking way LSU is making the SEC Championship. We’re completely fine.’ And now, me and Aaron, both of our teams facing off. Year one of SNAPS. A little bit of irony there.”

As a 33-year-old, Hebert could be viewed as still a “young broadcaster” with aspirations for making it to “the big time”. However, he dismissed any notion that he’s driven by being anything other than a good dad.

“I don’t know that I have an ultimate goal beyond like – I enjoy this job. I have had one day in my professional career where I truly did not want to be there. One day where I just hated everything. Not that I don’t have bad days or things I don’t enjoy, but just one day where you’re looking at yourself and you’re like ‘What am I doing?’

“So if I’ve only had one of those days, then I really love my job. My ultimate goal is to be able to do a job that I can enjoy with enough return that I can provide for my kids and retire. That sounds crazy but that’s it. Whatever avenue that takes, national shows, local shows, podcasts, it doesn’t matter. I would do any of it if I could just hit those very basic goals.”

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