Angela Tuell 0:05
Welcome to Media in Minutes. This is your host Angela Tuell. This podcast features in- depth interviews with those who report on the world around us. They share everything from their favorite stories to what happened behind the lens and give us a glimpse into their world. From our studio here at Communications Redefined, this is Media in Minutes.
Today we are talking to CJ Holley, he is an Emmy award winning news editor at ESPN. In addition to editing some of the biggest news stories over the past 15 years, he has covered the NBA Draft X Games and the men's NCAA Tournament. Hi, CJ, thank you so much for joining us today.
CJ Holley 0:47
Oh, thanks for having me. Good to talk to you.
Angela Tuell 0:49
Yes. How are things at home with a two month old and a toddler?
CJ Holley 0:53
It's a little crazy. But luckily, the toddler loves the two month old so they get along really well. After that, just dealing with toddler mood swings and tantrums. And I'm sure you are very familiar with that.
Angela Tuell 1:06
Yes, they are super adorable by the way. I love seeing the photos.
CJ Holley 1:10
Oh, thank you so much. Like I told you before, I can't imagine you raising twins. Let alone having three total. So you're a saint, you and your husband are a saint for pulling that off because I can't imagine.
Angela Tuell 1:19
You know, it was our first so we didn't know any different, or like, we just knew having two, you know. So then when we had the third - that was a surprise - we were, this is pretty easy. You know?
CJ Holley 1:31
It's like once you deal with the most difficult situation possible everything after that's like, Oh, this isn't so bad, actually.
Angela Tuell 1:36
Exactly. Look on the bright side. So let's jump right in. I'm super excited. I first wanted to know, did you always know you wanted to be a sports journalist?
CJ Holley 1:47
Kinda Yes. So when I was a kid, I remember like, I didn't really know what went to journalism went to sports journalism or anything like that. But they would always ask like kids like, Okay, what do you want to be when you grow up? And I never had an answer. So like, you was a, you just have a stock answer, like, oh, I want to be a firefighter and astronaut or lawyer something random. And then I remember the first job that I ever saw, like someone doing and thinking like, Oh, I could do that was really watching sports and was an elementary school. I said, Well, I could do that can be on TV, talking sports, and no idea what went into that job. I had no idea what that company was with what I just looked at, like, how difficult could that be. And as it turned out, I was good at writing. And every time there was like a book report, and you could like build a diorama or build a mobile or write a newspaper story, I would always write the newspaper story. And then by the time I got to high school, I realized, Oh, I started working for the high school newspaper. And so I did that. And I, you know, went to college, went to Maryland, I got into the journalism program and kind of went from there. So really, the only thing I've ever wanted to do was be a sports journalist, even though I didn't know what that job was the first time I said it.
Angela Tuell 2:50
That's great. And you started at the Washington Post right after college and spent five years there, right? What was that experience like, it's such an iconic media outlet as a young professional.
CJ Holley 3:00
So it's kind of crazy, actually. So I started there my last semester of college and so you have the duality of like, wrapping up college and kind of like a victory lap for your four years, you know, university and but also like I'm working nights and weekends in the sports department of at the time, Washington Post.com and so all my friends are enjoying like the, you know, the last gasp of college last Friday, Saturday and Sunday night in Arlington, Virginia working for wash boats, like it was great for my for my professional development. And honestly, the money, I couldn't have asked for more being, you know, a 21 year old kid. So that was great. And then but also, like, I got to see like the media world really how it was coming together, because at the time, we're thinking 2005, so they're just pumping money into the internet. And no one really knows how to actually like, put money in a smart place. They're just like, the internet's a thing here - just shuffled money to it. And so it was like all this money coming to Washington Post com. Meanwhile, the paper is slowly dying a bit, because that's just the way things were going. And so I was there during this nexus of those two things going on the journalism world. And then I was there when they start to merge departments and staffs. So they merged the website with the newspaper. And the sports section was the first one to actually merge. And so we went over to we went across the river, we went to DC. And so we taught the copywriters how to be web producers. And the web producers were taught how to be copywriter. So by the end of it, everyone could do the job. And but there's some growing pains with that we get like the seasoned editors who've been copywriters for 25 years, and they just think of the internet is, you know, something that's a nuisance they have to now deal with at work. And they're looking at us, like, Oh, these people from the website are going to take our jobs, and we're looking at them, like they're going to learn our skills, and then they're going to cut us free. And in the end, none of that happened. We all learn to work together. And we actually like the bright beacon within the Washington Post at the time because we were the first department to merge and we actually all got along doing sports. So it's really interesting to like work in this iconic place and like look across and see like, oh, that's that's Michael Wilbon over there. That's really what he looks like. Wow, that's crazy. And then like be editing their stories and all of that. And like, I remember that the Post has this great reporter Dave Sheinin, who covers pretty much he does like long form features now. He's been a B reporter, and everyone, everyone raves about him, especially at the baseball winter meetings, because he's a classically trained operatic singer. And he plays piano and so like you get him in the bar late at night, but it's great. But he's also a tremendous writer. And I remember editing a story of his that was, I remember, it was a long form feature, and I count the inches on it. And it was a seven foot story on a six foot 10 inch basketball player. And it was insanely long story, just like going over with him. And so it was kind of really cool for me. Because in college, I majored in broadcast journalism. So I was doing radio editing, and TV editing, and then I got an internship in college doing web stuff. And then I got a job doing web stuff. And now I find myself at the Washington Post as a, as a copy editor for a newspaper. So I get to all these different things. And so it was really cool to kind of like interact with all that overtime.
Angela Tuell 5:55
Yeah, it was amazing. And in the beginning, how it was completely separate. I mean, a whole different building website. Yeah, the newspaper. And that's crazy that it started that way. And that's, that's amazing that you were there as they came together.
CJ Holley 6:09
Yeah, it was, it was a it was a crazy time. But also, it's like when you're in the middle of it, you don't know how it's supposed to go. So in so in so many ways, we're kind of just like, going about it as best we could, because there was no plan that how do you properly merge this department with that department, when they both kind of do the same thing, but for two completely different media. And we got through it. And honestly, like, what really helped was the people and I'm sure you know, all the jobs you've ever had, what makes a difference is if you get along well with the people you work with, if you get along well, you can get through any job in any task, because you're like, you're really helping them try and help the person next to you. And so that really helped out like, once we all were like, Wait, we're all just trying to put the best product for sports for The Washington Post? Oh, yeah. Then we're good. Let's Let's go from here.
Angela Tuell 6:48
Right. So how did you make the jump to ESPN?
CJ Holley 6:52
So after five years at the Post who I was kind of looking around thinking, okay, there might be kind of tough for me to continue to move up within my career, because, you know, I was 26 I think when I came to ESPN, yeah, 26. And so I was looking around, like, I will probably spend like another 10 years at this exact job, which I like the job I like to people. I'm from Maryland originally. So I'm working for The Washington Post, which is, you know, the biggest paper like the Washington Post of the paper that my house had delivered to it when I was growing up at home.
Angela Tuell 7:19
You were probably in shock that you were...
CJ Holley 7:21
Exactly. Like it was it was it was crazy. And like my name would appear occasionally in the newspaper. So my mom could actually look into hold and see, yes, my son actually works for The Washington Post. And so I just got to a point was like, okay, professionally, though, if I want to keep moving up and keep developing, I might be stuck here in this one job for the next 10 years or so which if that's the case, then so be like, I have a great job. I like what I'm doing. But if I want to move up, like the only place I would leave for The Washington Post for will be ESPN because if I'm going to leave, I'm going to leave for something better, not just something that's kind of good, or just different, but I leave for better. So I interviewed for a position and it was quite the whirlwind. And I came up to, they flew me up to Bristol. And I interview with like seven different people in one day. And it was crazy. And I figured like okay, well, we'll see how that goes. And then like, the next day I went back to work. And how things worked at ESPN, especially with hiring seems to be like, you'll be held off for a long time. You won't hear anything for a while. And then once they say hired you like okay, you have they tell you like you have two weeks to get here now. So I found out like, maybe March like the NCAA Tournament was going on. So I found in March. And then literally two weeks later I was or three weeks later, I was in Bristol in April. So my I got hired in March by ESPN, like come aboard. And I was living in Connecticut in April.
Angela Tuell 8:37
Wow. And were you married at that time?
CJ Holley 8:39
Nope, I was not. So I also like that worked out. I didn't have I rented the place with three other people. I didn't have any pets. I didn't have a girlfriend. My family, my friends are still in Maryland. So like that was the one thing that's like, if ever there was a time for me to strike out on my own, so to speak. This is it. I don't have a lot tethering me here, like responsibility wise. And so like timing wise, it worked out and I haven't looked back since it was it was great.
Angela Tuell 9:04
That is awesome. What were you surprised to learn about ESPN after starting there?
CJ Holley 9:09
The craziest thing I think about ESPN is it like it oftentimes gets a bad rap nationally, because it's seen almost as if like it's the evil empire like this. It's because it's the biggest name in sports. And when you're the biggest in anything, people always try to find your flaws. And there are flaws with ESPN as there are with any company. But we actually are working there's like it's all individual people they've dreamed of working at ESPN. So no one here is trying to, is trying to subvert the company, or trying to like how can we take over the source of like, no, everyone's just trying to do their job to the best of their abilities. And so once you see it's like, it's just people that work here, that's all it is. It's you realize it's just a job that just has you know, the the company has a higher profile. And that's all it is just keep doing the job you were doing before you just have more people that are looking at it, let's say.
Angela Tuell 9:51
Yes. You know in my PR role I try to explain to those who I media train about journalists and it's the same exact way of they're just like everyone else trying to do their job the best they can and go home at the end of the day.
CJ Holley 10:04
Exactly. Like because no one wants to end up on, you know, some sort of media site, calling out the poor job you did, or the typo you had, or the wrong turn of phrase you use. Like, no one's trying to go home and be a headline. There's one quote They say about Twitter, like everyday someone is the main character on Twitter. Don't be the main character. Don't be the reason why, why your your company is in the news, whether it's ESPN, or whether it's like a, you know, a six person shop in a small town somewhere. You don't want to be the reason why your company's name is in the news.
Angela Tuell 10:35
Yes. So how has ESPN changed over the 10 years that you've been there?
CJ Holley 10:41
Well, what's kind of funny, so I came, I got hired at ESPN. And the job was to be strictly espn.com work on the web. So we're working in a building. It's all it's all news, news and recaps. So whenever, let's say if Adam Schefter, your major NFL news breaker, if he's saying that - you're in Indianapolis, right? Right. So let's say when Andrew Luck, decides I'm done, I'm retiring. When Adam Schefter says Andrew Luck plans to retire we're the ones that like turn that sentence into a full story. And so it gets to the bottom line, it gets to Sports Center, gets to all the places it can be. And it gets to your phone, all that. And we used to do that just for the website. So just like Adam Schefter tweets this out, or I'm chapter sends us this information. And then we put together the story that appears on espn.com. And after that, it goes where it goes. And so that's what my job was when it started. And then, much like at the Washington Post, they decide why do we have a TV side of things? And why do we have a website of things? Why do we have a mobile side of things, that's all doing news from all with the same company. Let's merge this together. So again, they merged, they merged the news digital team, which is what I was working on with the TV digital team. And so we all now work together. And that's been going well for the past four years now, maybe. And so that's one change I saw. So it wasn't as drastic as the Washington Post where it's like I've never seen these people I now work with, I don't know who they are, we're all working in the same building already. We're all working on the same floor ready. It's just we had different silos of, of actually hierarchy, who you report to, and how we handle things. And now we're all one big, amorphous blob of news coverage for ESPN.
Angela Tuell 12:12
That's great. And as, so I know, there's no typical day. But what does sort of an average day look like for you?
CJ Holley 12:20
Um, so even though we've been we've actually been remote since April of 2020, for the pandemic, so even though we're remote using Slack every day, our day is really the same as it was before. So you log on before you come in the office need to log on to Slack. And there's also a hierarchy with who's in charge for that given shift. So we have someone that's job is to, they're the title of lead in our department. And so they are kind of like the point person dealing with TV dealing with the web. And figuring out like when big, big, big stories are coming in, when you have to talk to a reporter who's working on like a, you know, a big pie in the sky type of story. So they kind of handle that sort of stuff, they'll check scripts, that new scripts that a Sports Center is going to run, they have people coming in for they do that kind of stuff. And then you have someone that's a content managers, that is the title we call, so pretty much, it's their job to keep the trains moving. And then there's everyone else who just we pick up stories or stories come in. So we're monitoring the AP wires for stories. So something as simple as say, you know, guy decides to sign a contract extension, which is a fairly, you know, simple story for us. We do that, we do game recaps, keep with Indiana, say the Pacers win we make sure that we'll look through there, see if there's a news aside from just you know, the final score. See if everyone you know, did someone get hurt, someone coming back from injury? Did someone say something really wild and off the cuff? We'll look for that. And then see if there's anything to that. And we'll if necessary, we'll we'll pull the story out of an EP recap and go from there. But for the most part during the day, it's we have 32 writers, one for each NFL team, we have writers to cover six to eight, we have six to eight NBA news writers, we have about four or five MLB news writers. And so they they're chiming in throughout the entire day with things they're hearing, things they're covering, and then we'll reach out to them if we hear about stuff as well. And so it's a lot of monitoring news, and then waiting for it to come in. So sometimes you're just there, kind of looking around, making sure there's nothing crazy going on. And sometimes you have like seven stories come in at once there's three people it's like, well, we only got two hands. We'll get done when we get done when we get it done. And so the stories get assigned out and then we each do it, we take it from start to finish, we put out on enps platform for TV to see so they can make sure that gets on SportsCenter. So the bottom line can see it so it gets down the crawl at the bottom of the screen. So mobile can go down so they can push out, you know, an alert if you have ESPN app, and then we're doing it for the website. So that you know if you click on the story on the app, it sends you to the story on the web. So we do all of these things and get out there and then we're editing the words and putting headlines on stories, putting photos into stories. And so if it's news, it goes to my department if it's big news, like someone has, you know, has the coaches been fired if it's big news like that? With small news like a transaction, and everything in between all goes through our department.
Angela Tuell 15:04
That is really cool. So do you have PR people reaching out directly to you?
CJ Holley 15:09
Occasionally we do. So we get PR just like blasts from various PR firms telling us something that an athlete is doing if we want to cover it. And more often than not like that's the kind of thing like if it's something that seems really important, we'll branch it out to one of our writers to see is like, Hey, can you monitor the Zoom call? Do you think this is no worry like, and stuff like that. ESPN PR sometimes will reach out to us to give us a heads up about something that's out there. But very infrequently do we like get something in advance from ESPN PR to be prepared for the thing to come. So it's crazy. So what am I like Welcome to ESPN moments, like how this whole thing works was my first year was LeBron's decision. So he was a free agent, and he could resign with his hometown, Cleveland Cavaliers, or you could be a free agent sign anywhere else that he wanted to in the NBA. And he had, he decided to go on national TV on ESPN to announce what team he was going to be signing with. We heard that this was a thing that was happening. He was gonna have a TV show to announce his decision. And it was gonna air on ESPN. So we asked our NBA reporter Hey, can you confirm this? He's like, he's like, I can confirm sources. Tommy says like, we need sources you work for the company that's area like, can we just say like, Hey, are we airing this? are we not airing this. And it's that's why I was like, these are two completely separate things that are going on. And so we did not get a heads up on like LeBron is going to have a TV show announcing where he's gonna sign. You have to figure that out for our own like, so our report had to reach out to his sources from LeBron or from whoever to figure out this thing was actually happening. Everyone says it's gonna happen. And then spoiler it happened it was on. And so that was like, wow, I would think these two things, these two hands would like, you know, reading the handshake, but they are not at all.
Angela Tuell 16:43
That's what happens sometimes with big companies, right?
CJ Holley 16:46
Yeah. So I mean, everyone's looking out for their own best interest, but like, it's still also all ESPN. So it's kind of an interesting duality, where it's like, Yes, we all work together. But sometimes we don't until we have to.
Angela Tuell 16:56
Yeah, yeah. And it's hard sometimes that they you probably think what, who else there would need to know? No, we need to share this with because you're so focused on on the one job, you know, that they're doing?
CJ Holley 17:07
Yeah. And then the crazy thing will have happened sometimes is that because you're ESPN in general, you have our our talent is very forward facing everyone knows the names of our anchors, and all this. If something happens with one of them good, bad, indifferent, someone gets into legal trouble. If someone's in a car accident, something is something noteworthy happens. And everyone else is talking about like, so how do we handle this exactly? Like are we as - is PR going to put out a statement that we can now use as a story like we only know so much about what's going on, whereas other sites can just report on ESPN as it's a separate entity from them, whereas it's hard to report on yourself.
Angela Tuell 17:39
Right, right. You mentioned LeBron, what are some other, you know, most memorable stories or events you've worked on?
CJ Holley 17:45
Biggest stories I worked on maybe, I remember we had the long saga with former NBA team owner, Donald, Donald Sterling, and he had all these racist comments. And as it came out, it was a kind of an open secret within the NBA that like he was a pretty terrible human being. But he had the money to still own a basketball team. And so he's still on this team. And then this audio recording of him saying all these these racist comments comes out. And so it's an ongoing, sort of like they're investigating, the NBA is investigating one of its owners, are they going to have this owner have to sell his team. And so that was a huge ongoing process that lasted a long time. He ended up selling his team in the end, but reporting that out, it's just you, you a lot of times when the biggest stories happen for us, nothing's going on. And then everything's going on if you're having a calm Tuesday, and then just one thing happens like, oh boy, clear the decks because this is how everything of you know all that we're focused on. And for some like that, in terms of my workflow, one person usually handles as like, you're the point person that has a story goes XY and Z. So more recently, Antonio Brown, wide receiver in the NFL, he, he was with the then Oakland Raiders at the time. And in the span of one day, he went from being on the team to getting into a verbal altercation with the GM to getting a phone call from the coach, to being suspended by the team, to being released by the team all in one day. And so I had that story just like updates like so what are we doing how so? Like the Antonio Browns really having a heck of a day right here. Like it's hard to go from employee to unemployed and like six hours, but he did it. credit to him. It's hard to do that. But he did it. So that story and then like I mentioned you Andrew Luck I mentioned. Colin Kaepernick was a huge story for us as well, like pretty much every big all these big stories, like everyone gets a hand in at some point in time, and you're there on the ground floor. And then like I said, like it's more it's, I remember the stories that like I had nothing to do like I was home, like, oh, that seems really tough for people. Not me today.
Angela Tuell 19:39
Like I'm really happy about sometimes, right?
CJ Holley 19:41
Exactly. Like I have a saying like everyone gets everyone takes their turn. So sometimes it's your turn to catch this really hard story that's gonna be really long involved. And sometimes it's not your turn. And you just have to accept it one way that sometimes you gotta have a day where you're just gonna be under it and you're gonna be under duress. It's gonna be a long, long day. And some days you look over at someone else and it's their day to hack it. It's your job to keep everything, clear them so they can they can go through that.
Angela Tuell 20:04
Yeah, I'm sure it's this way at ESPN, too. It's not like the day ends at a certain time if you're on that story. Exactly. You are continuing to follow that.
CJ Holley 20:13
Yeah. No, it never ends, like so perfect. And what the biggest thing I can recently remember where it's like, I was almost there for this story. But it turns out it wasn't was Kobe Bryant/s death. I was working with Sports Center that morning. And so Sports Center, it was a belief was a Sunday morning. And the show that I was working with one off the air at noon, and reports are coming out about this helicopter crash that may have involved Kobe Bryant, like one o'clock in the afternoon. So literally, like I got home. I was done work. I had been up since 230. In the morning to get to work for the early sports. I was like, I was just winding down. And then I start to see so there's like, like, it was actually my mom that the text is like did Kobe Bryant die? I was like Kobe Bryant died? I was just at work. What do you mean? It's like, let me check my work emails like, Oh, apparently he has. Okay. And so I missed that entire story because I my shift happened to be over. Just because, we hate say like, it's just one of those things where the news never stops, even if your shifts sometimes does. So it's a very hard thing to just kind of come to terms with like, this is a huge story that I am just gonna sit on the sidelines for because this isn't, this isn't my turn right now someone else has got this. And we're all good department, it's gonna be just fine.
Angela Tuell 21:19
Yeah. Because you know, as you know, journalism is in your blood. So you want to continue doing that. It's something you do all the time, even when it's not your shift. You know.
CJ Holley 21:28
I always talk about like, on on my own personal social media, I put I call it journalism in the wild. So it's like you're looking at a menu, you see a typo. Like, it's just the thing that you can't turn off when you're trained to like, notice mistakes and all that. And I'm sure like with your TV background, when you see like, you know, a Chiron Chiron fails like that's not that you didn't mean to put that up there, or there's a typo that you see it and like you acknowledge it and that no one else in your world cares about it whatsoever, because they're not trained to look at it this way. But you can't turn it off. I was like, I'm off the clock by still notice that mistake?
Angela Tuell 21:56
Exactly. I have to ask about the Emmy you received. What is the story behind it?
CJ Holley 22:02
So the craziest thing. So like, as you obviously worked in broadcast for a while. You know, a lot of people that win Emmy's over time, because a lot of Emmy's are given out a year, not just you know, the ones that you see on TV, but there's local, regional for all sorts of different things. And so I know a whole bunch of people who have Emmys. I know people that work at NBC Sports. Whenever there's an Olympics, NBC Sports win some awards for their Olympic coverage, no matter what every year. So I know a whole bunch of people that have Emmys. But this is my Emmy. So I get to say, it's pretty cool that I have an Emmy. I got, I got it for working on Sports Center. So my department we work alongside Sports Centers, we're embedded with them for certain shows, because they have news aspects to them. So a lot of the show, 95% of show is written by the two anchors, or the one anchor however many there are. They write their scripts, they deliver their scripts, this is their voice. But we are there as news areas to make sure that like, Hey, this is the wording we're going through. This is how we're saying it. This is the precise way that we have it. Sources told our person that X, Y and Z is true, or we can't say that because that's speculative. But we can't say XY and Z. So like the basic game recap type stuff they don't need our help for but when they're doing like an actual like news news story, they'll lean us for that. And then they've come to value us in general. So they'll have us like help out with other things. Sports Center itself. One, it's me first me and like something like 17 years from first for best daily sports show. As a result of that. Everyone that has worked on sports during the year wins an Emmy. So because I've worked on sports over the course a year, I'm an Emmy Award winner along with a lot of other people, too, who do just as much as I do, or in most cases, significantly more than I do with Sports Center. But still, I get to say I'm an Emmy award winning journalist.
Angela Tuell 23:39
Yes, you do.
CJ Holley 23:41
Yep. So put that on the resume. And if you asked like, so what was your particular was like, Don't worry about that. Don't worry about that. I still have an Emmy.
Angela Tuell 23:48
I love it. And what is one thing you wish the general public knew about sports journalism, or journalists that maybe they don't?
CJ Holley 23:56
Um, I think a lot of times well, jokingly, most people when you tell them that you work for ESPN, or prior to this work in Washington Post in the sports bar. They say, Oh, man, can you give me tickets? It's like, No, I can't get you tickets because I'm at work during the games. Like I don't, I don't have that kind of power. There are some people that do like, you know, your local sports report that's been covering the one team for 20 years. Yeah, they might have a little sway the organization. Me now man, I can't I cannot get you tickets. I can't get myself tickets. It's not how this works. So that's one thing but no jokingly, but within the realm of the actual field is a lot of times people tend to think that all we are there for is just to cover the jocularity of it because they always joke within you know, newsrooms that are not just sports, that sports itself is you know, is kind of like the candy shop. And it can be. Like it's what we cover is not is nowhere near as important as what's going on with your local politics, with crime and how you live your day to day life. But still, it's important because it's a diversion for people. Sports is something that people can turn off and turn on and can make them feel better or if your team Not very good can make you feel a little bit worse. But it's, you know, small stakes in the end. And so while it is the toy department in some respects, the people that work there take this seriously, like we went to school for this. We try real hard to get it right every single time. And none of us and none of us hate your favorite team we don't, we may have our own personal interests where it's like, yeah, I don't like this team because I like my team. But we're not going to let that affect our job. So what you see, when you see if you know someone you see someone out like don't assume like, oh, man, you hate my team. Like, actually, I don't hate your team anymore that hate these other following teams, because I have my one team that I care about.
Angela Tuell 25:31
Right, right. You're human, right?
CJ Holley 25:33
Exactly. We're journalists, we're humans just like you. We're not trying to screw people over. We're not trying to make people upset. We're just trying to do our job if you're upset with how we're reporting about how a player has done something off the field, and you say, Oh, you're really being unfair to us. Like, perhaps that player should have done the thing that got me in trouble in the first place. If we if that person not gotten arrested, we wouldn't be talking about them getting arrested.
Angela Tuell 25:55
Yes. So before we go, I have to ask because you are constantly living in the sports world, you know, who are some of the celebrity sports figures that are your favorites?
CJ Holley 26:05
Um, so we're gonna just feel like the anchors themselves have become so are sort of celebrities within the world. So I can honestly say working at ESPN, I've never had a bad experience with an anchor or on air personality being rude or being outright inappropriate, or it's like, wow, that person is really different than I thought they were. So I've never had a personal run in like that. What is cool about ESPN is if you've seen the commercial deal, this is ESPN commercials. They've run for like 20 some odd years, it makes it seem like Bristol, Connecticut, and Central. This tiny town in Central Connecticut is the center of sports, you'd be walking down a hallway work and see a random, famous person. And that's true. That's 100% accurate. It's very jarring. So my first week on the job. Like I said, I started in April, I started April 2010. So it was gearing up for the NFL Draft. And that year, they were bringing in the guys who were going to be like clear top five picks in the NFL Draft. Each one of them was coming in on a different day and doing what they call the carwash where they appear on 17 different shows. And he talked to everyone it's a whirlwind day for them. And I remember I was I was coming out of the bathroom, and I go to take a left and I took a left and I almost run right into Donovan Suh who is a massive human being that looks more like a basketball player than a football player. You can imagine the body types like and you're just like, oh excuses, like no, excuse me. It's like, I'm five, eight. He's like, six foot 14. He's massive. And so I was like, oh, excuse me, it's like excuses. Like, like, like I was gonna do something to you. Like, I appreciate you being a courteous human being but I would just bounce right off of you and fall to the ground. And so that was kind of my welcome ESPN like this is this is different in that way. Then like over time you have love cool experiences. So I'm I like I said I'm from Maryland. I'm an Orioles fan. The team is not very good, but they're still my team. And I remember several years ago they were going to be hiring a new manager and I knew at the time it was being reported that Buck Showalter, veteran baseball manager was up to the job and interested. At the time Buck Showalter was also working at ESPN working for baseball at night. So I'm at work sitting at my desk and I have like my Orioles hat sitting on like this post next to my desk because that's wore in to the to the office that day, and Buck Showalter walks by and sees it he's like, You're an Orioles fan? I'm like, Yes, I am. What do you think of the team's like, knowing full well, they're like he was up for this job. And but he, he saw someone that actually knows this organization cares about enough to wear an Orioles hat in the middle of Yankees and Red Sox country. And he and so he asked me about like, and then he walked away. I was like, Well, that's pretty cool. The guy that's gonna be the manager of my my favorite team has asked me what I thought about the team.
Angela Tuell 28:26
That is amazing. Wow, you can't make that stuff up. Right?
CJ Holley 28:29
It's very cool. I had it running with Jerome Bettis one day, he was waiting to go into a TV studio that was next to work my pod where I was sitting. And so you're seeing an empty desk, right next. And so I'm again from Maryland. I'm a Ravens fan. And so Jerome Bettis plays for the Steelers for forever. So I watched Jerome Bettis, like kill my dreams as a fan several times over the years. And so he just they're like, just biding his time being a nice guy not doing anything. I'm sitting there. I'm just thinking like, do I say something this guy? Do I say something to him? Like, you know what? I'm gonna say like, Hey, just let you know you. You really, really ruined my team a few times. He was like, oh, who is your team? The Ravens. Like, oh, yeah, yeah, I definitely did that to Baltimore. Like. Yes. Thank you, Jerome. I appreciate that.
Angela Tuell 29:06
That's amazing. And I bet you do not like the Colts at all.
CJ Holley 29:11
You know what I I don't have the same disdain that a lot of other Baltimore still have for the cold. I was born in 1983. So I was never a Colts fan. They were gone before I was sent about all of it. I understand what the animosity comes from. I'm more like, it doesn't bother me like the Colts. I don't dislike them any more than I just like other teams. There are other people in Baltimore who were still very, very upset about everything about the entire state family. Really sad about that still.
Angela Tuell 29:37
Well, thank you so much, CJ. It was wonderful talking with you - so much fun.
CJ Holley 29:41
Yes, it was great to catch up with you. And thanks for having me on. It's been a pleasure.
Angela Tuell 29:46
You can find CJ on Twitter at CJHolley8. That's all for this episode of Media in Minutes, a podcast by Communications Redefined. Please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe to our show. We'd love to hear what you think. You can find more at CommunicationsRedefined.com/podcast I'm your host Angela Tuell. Talk to you next time.
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