Barstool Sports star Kayce Smith signed an extension with the sports and entertainment media hub, announcing the news alongside Dave Portnoy early this year. The announcement of Smith’s future with the online powerhouse has been met with excitement (of all ways, shapes, and forms) from Barstool’s fanbase and crew, alike.
Smith was an immediate favorite with fans and the innovative content creators, producers, directors and fellow hosts/analysts that she works with. The Stoolie team have become some of the best follows on social media and most relatable personalities in the industry as they follow the blueprint laid out by Dave Portnoy. That is transparency.
She’s also been one of the most dynamic and wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of working with since her TexAgs days. The star that you hear daily on Clancy and Carribis with Kayce Smith shines just as brightly off the air which is a depreciating asset.
I spoke with the Texas native and Barstool Babe for a Q&A about her experience in sports media, finding the perfect fit with her career and what she thinks about her Barstool colleagues.
Chrissy Paradis: With a résumé including ESPN/SEC Network, SB Nation, Gridiron Now, NBC Sports, now Barstool—Your journey has involved a lot of hard work in stakes environments in various capacities- what advice have you learned in your career that has been most helpful?
Kayce Smith: I think the best advice I can give is that when you’re pursuing a job, the worst thing you can hear is “no.” And more importantly, that doesn’t mean you will always hear “no.” This industry can be brutal to crack into and a lot of people give up if an opportunity doesn’t come immediately or if it’s not exactly what they envisioned doing.
If this is your dream, it’s worth the grind. You may have to take a different job to get your foot in the door, but you never know where that door will lead you. And always be yourself. That’s how you stand out. Nobody wants a clone of something that already exists.
CP: You also hosted a podcast with Johnny Manziel—what was it like working with a Heisman Trophy Winner from your alma mater?
KS: It was a total full circle moment for me. My first job out of college was covering A&M for TexAgs and it happened to be Johnny’s Heisman year, which as you can imagine was WILD. Actually, my only ESPN audition was a live TV hit talking about covering him on the local level. He won the trophy, I got the job and then we did a podcast together and became friends. Very cool career storyline.
CP: Dave Portnoy said “Barstool is the best place in media at building stars and building personalities. If you are funny, interesting and opinionated we let you flourish. Kayce is all of the above.” Which I couldn’t agree more with, and in terms of highlighting talented men and women, Barstool truly offers a variety of shows/columns/podcasts including Chicks In The Office, and your shows, Clancy & Carrabis with Kayce Smith & Unnecessary Roughness. What do you want people to know about Barstool?
KS: If you can’t find content that entertains you on our platforms, I’m convinced that you just can’t be entertained. Between the blogs, the podcasts, video and radio shows…. there is something for EVERYBODY. A lot of times when people say they hate Barstool, I can guarantee they’ve never actually consumed what we do. Oh and also, as a woman in this company, I feel very safe and have never been treated better. So that whole “Barstool treats their women employees poorly” narrative is just flat out incorrect.
CP: What are some highlights from your time working with the team at Barstool Sports?
KS: By far my favorite moment is my first live College Football Show in 2018. We were on the road at Michigan for the Wisconsin game and when I walked up on stage and saw the gigantic crowd cheering for us, I realized I was exactly where I wanted to be.
Our fans are INSANE and honestly, those live shows give us life. Getting to sit next to Dave, Dan and Brandon every week – and be the one who gets to host the entire thing – is a dream come true. It mixes my TV background with the Barstool flavor covering my favorite sport… and maybe a beer or two thrown on us.
CP:I know that you‘re great friends with ESPN’s Laura Rutledge outside of work—There is a stereotype about women not necessarily being supportive of other women, given the competition in the sports broadcasting industry. How has Laura been as an ally/resource in your career?
KS: Laura and I became FAST friends. Sure we were both trying to climb the same ladder at the time, but it’s not like there’s only ONE job for women in sports. There are plenty of jobs!! I’ve never understood why people play into that stereotype.
The way I see it is why wouldn’t I want to become close to someone who loves the same things that I do and is in the same industry and understands what I go through on a day-to-day basis?? Fun fact that not many people know: when I left ESPN, Laura was my biggest cheerleader and it was actually her idea to start my own radio show which ended up landing me a job with NBC Sports in Boston. I’m forever thankful for her and she’s absolutely KILLING it at ESPN. I’m so proud of her and vice versa.
CP: Who else has had a significant influence on your career, as a whole?
KS: Gabe Bock at TexAgs has been one of the most important people to me – not only for my career but in my personal life as well. He gave me my first shot on radio when I graduated college and has helped me create a brand that I never would’ve known I wanted. I always thought being a sideline reporter was my end goal, but Gabe helped me fall in love with radio and I’ve clearly never looked back. The show I did in Boston was three hours long, five days a week. Without my radio background, there’s zero chance that I could’ve succeeded the way that I did. Radio is something I think everybody in sports should do at some point in your career. If you can talk for hours on air about sports and be interesting/entertaining, I think you can make it anywhere.
CP: With a beginning in college sports, was it difficult to make the choice to transition into covering all sports, especially in the middle of Patriots Nation?
KS: It actually wasn’t because I took on the challenge head on and treated it like I was going back to school and studied like CRAZY. I fell in love with Boston immediately. I spent my days listening to local radio, reading every book I could and leaning on my coworkers. It’s the best sports city in the world and it’s not close. I just wish they liked college football a little more!
CP: Working in a predominantly male industry, in a predominately male demographic at Barstool, what’s the biggest misconception(s) that you’ve seen/heard about Barstool that you would like to set straight?
KS: I mentioned it earlier, but anyone who thinks that Barstool treats women who work here poorly is just flat out wrong. I know we can’t change everybody’s minds – nor do we try to – but I promise being a woman at this company is not what the headlines tell you it is. I’ve never had more freedom to create content AND been treated with more respect than I have here.
Sure there are certain things that have been said in the past that I definitely don’t agree with, but as far as how I’m treated, I have no complaints. I love these guys and I’ll defend them until kingdom come, both as coworkers and friends. Erika Nardini has been an unbelievable piece of that as well. She’s amazing to work for and is just flat out a boss at everything she does.
CP: What would people be most surprised to know about you?
KS: I grew up playing the harp! I started taking lessons in kindergarten and have played dozens of weddings and parties. Weird hidden talent of mine.
CP: Co-worker word association: one to four words, whatever comes to your mind first, about the following Barstool teammates…
KS: Best In The Game
CP: Dave Portnoy?
KS: Unapologetically authentic
CP: KFC / Kevin Clancy?
KS: A MISERABLE sports fan (but incredibly talented)
CP: Jared Carrabis?
KS: One of a kind
CP: Brandon Walker?
KS: A hilarious walking encyclopedia
KS:My idiot best friend (but really… a weird, super creative brain)
CP: What’s your favorite thing about Barstool listeners/fans?
KS: How ridiculously diehard they are! We get recognized everywhere we go. It still seems weird when I’m walking on the streets of Manhattan and someone stops me. I’ve always said that Dave is a cult leader because of the following we have. We are basically a reality TV show at this point and that’s not something we take for granted.
CP: What’s your favorite thing about being a part of the Barstool team?
KS: The freedom to do and say whatever I want. Dave and Erika don’t put rules on us as personalities. They also don’t care if we publicly disagree with them, which is incredibly rare. Where else can you argue with the CEO or President of the company you work for without being worried about losing your job?? We are a gigantic, f***ed up family and I love being a part of it.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.