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Episode 009 – Chip Brown from HornsDigest.com

Posted on Oct 3, 2016 by in Podcast Episode | 0 comments



 

Chip stops by to talk crisis leadership and the role of the media, from SMU’s football scandal in the 80s to the Big 12 conference near collapse in 2010.

Bio:

Chip Brown is the go to man when you talk about Big 12 athletics. He rose from the SMU school newspaper to the Associated Press, the Dallas Morning News, Orangebloods.com, and now is a writer for Scout at HornsDigest.com.

Chip broke through in a big way during the Big 12 realignment story of 2010, and has remained a source of incredible information for all things Big 12, and in particular, the University of Texas.

You can hear him Monday through Friday mornings on The Bottom Line AM 1300 THE ZONE in Austin as well as on the iHeartRadio app.

He is a leader in many ways himself, and he also has a front row seat to observe and comment on some of the most prominent leaders in sports on a day to day basis.

Interview:

  1. Breaking News! Shaka Smart contract extension at the University of Texas (SI Story 8/26 – My interview with Chip occurred 8/25)
  2. Chip take a moment if you would and give us a bit more of your journey, particularly for the listeners outside our area who are listening.
    1. Walkon tennis player at SMU
    2. Started to write about the team; tennis coach was coaching Chris Everett
    3. Then SMU football story broke
    4. AP clerk job led to probationary reporter, then correspondent in West Texas
      1. 10 years as news reporter
      2. Covered legislature and UT sports
    5. DMN hired him in 1998. 10 years with them; covered UT, Cowboys, pro tennis and golf
    6. Crossed over to the online world in 2008 – Orangebloods on Rivals
    7. 2013 – HornsDigest on Scout network
  3. What did you take from the hard news experience?
    1. Learned how to be a good phone reporter
      1. If something happened on your watch, you had to call everyone involved to put the story together
      2. Make people feel comfortable on the phone and collect information, even when people don’t want to talk
      3. 9/11 he was assigned to Flight 93 (Let’s Roll).
        1. Contacted families
        2. Loved ones were happy to tell story so their family could be remembered
      4. Covered the Branch Dividian story; lived in his car for 40+ days; was there for the fire and then also covered the trial
  4. One of the first major stories you covered was as a college student at SMU when they were given the death penalty in football. What sticks out to you from that episode as lessons to be learned?
    1. Obvious as a student; in classes with football seniors who would leave class in a red Nissan 300 ZX with personalized plates
    2. When David Stanley started talking with WFAA channel 8 / Dale Hansen, Chip started going to professors and team members
    3. School paper was independent, and was able to do some good reporting
      1. Discovered condos, cars, money that were set up for players
      2. Started to see stories on the school newspaper about how far should they go to turn in your own school
      3. SMU admin resented the paper
        1. Used to make it easy to buy publications and it was taken away
        2. Student life had to pay its own advertising after that
  5. What was the reaction like from your colleagues in the hard news/mainstream media when you first ventured out into the blogosphere/messageboard world?
    1. Colleagues thought he was crazy
    2. But he knew the model was feast/famine, and you could control that by being narrow and deep on the subject matter
    3. Jeff Ketchum (started Orangebloods) saw value of Chip as a newsbreaker to bring people into the inside
    4. Realignment
      1. Grew 1800 subscribers in 14 days
      2. Chip’s Twitter went from 1,200 to 12,000 in two weeks
      3. Was digging around about a TV deal between conferences, but then started hearing more on other things / realignment
        1. Traded information about Larry Scott being in Austin
        2. Was able to triangulate
        3. Clear Pac 10 was going after six schools
      4. Things were changing all the time, so when people would accuse him of getting something wrong, the reality was it was correct at the time, and then something changed
      5. Told his wife as the story unfolded to just pretend that he was at Wimbledon, because he couldn’t leave his phone. It had to stay charged and he had to keep talking to his sources, which began with two and grew to 13 over the course of the two weeks.
        1. As soon as you finish calling the 13, you had to start over and call them again
        2. He lost 12 pounds because he couldn’t do anything else like eat!
        3. Important decision was made to make all the realignment stories free
        4. Picked up memberships from all the schools’ fans
  6. Sticking with realignment, what are your observations about the leadership that was displayed in 2010, 2013 and now here in 2016?
    1. Gutsy decisions made.
      1. Number one was decision by Baylor to threaten to sue the SEC. Board of Regents insisted, though Judge Starr wasn’t really wanting to. Baylor benefited tremendously and bought them time. Allowed Big 12 to get its bearings.
      2. Texas A&M along with Rick Perry and Mike McKinney. They were not going to the Pac 10 even though most thought it was done. Learned fans were interested in SEC and getting away from Texas. Bold move.
    2. Texas’ DeLoss Dodds has a mild-mannered leadership style though the president at the time, Bill Powers, was different. Others felt he was talking down to them and trying to tell them how things were going to be.
      1. Also interesting how Dodds talked Powers out of the Pac 10 when he really wanted to go
      2. And how Dodds worked the Pac 10 for incentives to leave (even though they ultimately did not)
  7. How have you seen coaches change their leadership style over the years in order to connect with this generation of athletes?
    1. Dabo Sweeny at Clemson – dances with players; puts his arm around them; defends them. Connects with players and they have a shot at the title this year.
    2. Nick Saban hasn’t really changed. But players adapt to his ways because of his success.
      1. Told his AD early on to tell the boosters they can’t come to practice, but they will like what they see on Saturdays
      2. Has convinced Alabama to fund an NFL level front office / coaching staff
      3. He had hired a strength/conditioning coach for each position before the NCAA put a cap on it, and then he hired Quality Control questions instead.
    3. Jim Harbaugh
      1. Pushing the bounds by spending the night at recruits’ houses, climbing trees with them; recruiting parties with Tom Brady and Derek Jeter
  8. As the writer or on-air personality, how to you approach leading those who are behind the scenes (producers, board operators, cameramen, etc.) so they buy in and give you their best effort?
    1. How can I help you do better at your job? How can I help you be successful? Because if I do that, it’s going to come back and help me.
    2. Make it about each other, and we both go up.
    3. If it’s work, it may not be a career, it may just be a job
    4. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing and you love what you’re doing, then it is a career
  9. What habits have been key to your success?
    1. As a reporter, he tries to make a new source every day
      1. Causes you to be a great listener and ask the extra question
      2. To be able to communicate and build relationships, you have to be a good listener; if you are fake or annoying, people aren’t going to take your call
      3. You have to have an interest in it
      4. Some people collect coins, stamps or wine, I collect phone numbers
  10. Where can people go to read your work and find out more about you?
    1. Weekday mornings; AM 1300 The Zone in Austin; iHeart Radio App
    2. Hornsdigest.com for blogs and messageboards
    3. @Chipbrownhd on Twitter

Thank Yous/Acknowledgements:

  1. Antioch Live/Clear Day Media Groupmusic
    1. More here.
  2. Jonathan Davis – production
  3. Clint Musslewhite voice over

 

 

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