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James Rapien is Headed to Cleveland

Tyler McComas

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It was supposed to be just another ordinary day at the station for James Rapien, show prepping and scheduling guests. He refused to let his mind wander from anything else outside the walls of ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati. But suddenly, his concentration was broken when his cell phone started to ring. It was a number that he instantly recognized.  

Applying and interviewing for other jobs is the nature of the business in sports radio. Like anything else, there’s a right and wrong way to handle such things, but bettering yourself and exploring new opportunities is common amongst hosts, producers and reporters. 

When Rapien picked up his phone to answer the incoming call that could change his career, he made sure he was respectful, by stepping aside his current duties to take the call. On the other end of the line was Andy Roth, program director at 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland. After going through several phone interviews, sending numerous sound clips and even making a trip to Cleveland to visit Roth, the hosts, producers and everyone else at the station, the phone call he’d been anxiously awaiting had arrived. 

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When you’re in the middle of the job interview process, it’s extremely tough not to let your mind wander and think about the possibility of landing the job. It’s even harder, when you’ve made it onto the final list of candidates. Though Rapien admitted it wasn’t easy to shut down those thoughts, he said, “even when you’re interviewing, work at your current employer doesn’t stop.” 

That’s a great piece of advice to anyone going through the interview process. Though it’s an exciting time, what good are you to your current position if you constantly get distracted by the thoughts of working for another station?  I give a lot of credit to the way Rapien handled himself as a professional throughout this process. Even though he was going through a potential career-changing moment, he worked just has hard as he did before. 

Rapien wasn’t just looking for any reason or excuse to get away from ESPN 1530 or the city of Cincinnati. He loves working there. He loves his co-workers. The city is where he and his fiancé have made a home. So when it came down to Roth calling Rapien the first time, the interview process was going both ways. 

“When interviewing with a station, you’re also interviewing them to make sure it’s a good fit for you.” That was another fantastic bit of advice that came from Rapien. When he initially saw the opening at 92.3 The Fan on social media and Barrett Sports Media, he was interested, but he wasn’t sure if the logistics, such as moving with his fiancé to Cleveland, would work out. He wasn’t about to just jump at the first opportunity that came about, he really wanted to make sure this was the right move for both personal and professional reasons. 

Soon after, Rapien came to the conclusion this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. So when Roth finally called after a long interview process to offer the reporter position, Rapien was sure this was the right fit for him. 

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TM: Was there a question during the interview process that surprised you?

JR: Sure, I think there’s always questions like that during the interview process. I’m not sure if one sticks out specifically, I would say, and I think this is the key to any interview, I’ve always treated them as it’s not about really going out of your way to impress the employer, it’s seeing if it’s a good fit for you.

I go into them interviewing the company, too. Am I interested in them? When someone asks me a question that throws me off, it truly doesn’t throw me off too much, because I’m going to answer honestly and the best way that I can.

If it’s a good fit, it ends up being a good fit. I think a lot of people, in any industry, put a lot of pressure on themselves during the interview process and do a lot of prep. I didn’t really do any practice questions, or anything like that. I wanted to be genuine. If they were interested in me, great. Obviously, it worked out well.

TM: How did you find out about the opening?

JR: I saw it on Twitter, I saw that the reporter was leaving. But also, I love barrettsportsmedia.com and I also saw it there.

TM: What did you do to reach out? 

JR: I sent a resume and that’s it. You would love to have contacts and things like that, I knew one of the producers there and I just eventually applied there. Apparently, they must have liked me at least a little bit.  

TM: In terms of clips that you initially sent over, did you send a couple of segments? A full hour? How did you approach it?

JR: I sent clips of different things, me with someone else, me interviewing a couple of different people, intro to hours, but this is a reporter position, so writing came into it, as well. Things I’ve done on blogs, websites, and stuff like that I sent over. They’ve heard me, but they also needed to read me. But I also recorded some updates so they could hear my abilities in that area. 

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TM: Was there a moment throughout the interview process where you realized to yourself that you had a legit shot at getting the job?

JR: Yeah, I think after you get a call and then you eventually get a couple more, you let your minde wander a little bit. But to be honest, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I knew it would be a big move from Cincinnati. It’s my hometown and I think I’ve established a pretty decent role here with the station.

It was just kind of a feeling out process that we continued to have. It was exciting, sure, just the thought you could potentially be wanted for another position, but I don’t think there was ever a moment where I let myself get super excited. Of course I thought about, naturally you’re going to do that, but I didn’t want to get too excited, because you do so many interviews in this industry the last thing you want to do is get ahead of yourself and think you’ve locked up the position. I tried to stay as even-keel as I could. 

TM: Is it easier going through the interview process when you already have a job, versus being out of one and just praying you find work again?

JR: I think so. I wasn’t desperate or coming from a desperate place. I was coming from a place where I really like where I’m at, what I’m doing and the people I’m working with. But, naturally in this industry, you have to be open to listening and feeling things out. You have to be open to looking for other opportunities and exploring them when they present a great opportunity.

This felt like that. But absolutely, it’s much different and harder if I was coming from a more desperate place. I’ve been in that situation and it’s tough. The hard part is maintaining and not looking that way. It’s still realizing, oh, I’m not going to take this just because it’s offered, I’m going to take it because I think it’s a good opportunity for me. You just have to keep in mind that you’re gathering information on you, just like you’re gathering information on them. 

TM: It’s the nature of the business, guys leave and find new opportunities. But what’s the conversation like when you approach your current employer and tell them you’re accepting a position at another station? 

JR: My current employer, iHeart Media in Cincinnati, was just awesome throughout the process. From everyone I talked to about it, they totally understood and were excited for me. It wasn’t a, “Oh my goodness I can’t believe you’re leaving and taking that!” it was, “Wow. That’s awesome and a really good opportunity for you.”

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I’m grateful for that. I feel like that’s probably rare in this type of industry. This is where I was groomed and grew up in sports radio. They’ve seen me grow and were excited for me. I wasn’t nervous about telling them and I think that speaks to their character and how they view me and how I view them. 

TM: Did you list any references on your resume that worked at your employer?

JR: I didn’t include a natural reference area. Clearly, they saw I do a show with Mo Egger and that helped, but during the interview process I made it clear I do have them. My resume is a lot of little thing I’ve done, from play-by-play to writing for different websites, things like that. I’ve chosen, over time, to pick up little jobs like that to turn into resume builders. Naturally, everything is online these days and that’s how you apply. But no, references from the station weren’t on my initial list. 

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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