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Like many sports fans, Shaun Wyman spends his days keeping up with news about teams, players and trades. But Wyman gets paid to be a sports fanatic.
As a talent producer for the ESPN Radio Network, Wyman produces a national three-hour radio show and a weekly original podcast. He spends his days fielding emails, phone calls, and texts with sports agents, team PR people and athletes to coordinate interviews for guest appearances for the entire ESPN Radio Network. It's a fast-paced job that requires not only a love of sports, but also doing the non-stop work it takes to produce a national radio show.
"Growing up I liked two things more than anything else: sports and talking," Wyman said. "My mother always told me I'd be in sports broadcasting and she was right. I'm not a news or politics guy. The things that matter to me are my family, friends and sports. I get to live all of them."
Slow Rise to the Top
A career as a talent producer for a major sports network like ESPN takes a lot of work and dedication. It's not a career for the faint of heart or those looking for instant success and a large salary right out the gate. Wyman started working to get to where he is today while still in his early years of college.
"I think you really have to start young," Wyman says. "You have to be willing to work your butt off for not much pay. If you love it, then it's worth it. If you work at it you can really separate yourself (in the industry). When I was in college I started reaching out to every local radio station for internships and that's where I started developing the relationships that led me to ESPN. By my sophomore year I already had quite a resume including writing for the newspaper and hosting a radio show."
Wyman's lucky break came right out of college with his first job at ESPN Radio, where he's worked ever since. His first job at ESPN was editing audio highlights. Soon he was trusted to run the board for shows, until finally he was charged with production duties. Three years ago he was promoted to talent producer because of his ability to book guests and maintain relationships---a must for anyone in this business.
"ESPN is a very competitive landscape with a lot of hard-working, young and energetic people," Wyman said. "It's hard to get noticed and move up quickly and a lot of people struggle with that at the entry level positions." Where many might give up when they realize that a love of sports isn't enough to sustain your career, Wyman kept pushing. "I had to keep working hard and hope that my hard work would get noticed."
Wyman also had to work hard at promoting himself to his managers to get noticed and move up the ranks.
"I learned that in order to get noticed by your managers, you have to tell them what you are doing that is great. You have to make sure they are noticing. Otherwise, opportunities will pass you by," he said.
It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know
"It's really all about relationships," Wyman said about his job. "The biggest names that I've booked have been through developing relationships and booking smaller names through the same people and eventually working my way up to where I'm able to book bigger guests. The only way to book guests effectively is managing your relationships with the people who have access to those guests."
Those important people include team agents and publicists. Wyman is constantly cultivating his relationships by ensuring he's helping them as much as they're helping him. But there are still challenges in booking the biggest names in sports.
"The biggest challenge is that the guests that you want are almost always unavailable," Wyman says. "For instance, take when Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles signed a new long-term $100 million contract. Guest number one is Michael Vick. I could spend hours trying to book Michael Vick, but chances are the answer is going to be no. So you can waste your whole day and it's never going to happen and never was going to happen. But maybe you could have spent some time on a secondary level guest who would be easier to get. The bigger the name the more time you'll spend and you'll get maybe one out of 50 that you try for."
Making Sports History
Despite the challenges and hard work, Wyman has experienced some pretty sweet moments in his career. "I was in the locker room after the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. It was my job to get them on the radio for interviews and I was amazed at how cool and calm the celebration was. It seemed like the Packers expected to win and it was just another game."
Is there one dream guest that Wyman would love to book? "I'd say Tom Brady just because he's pretty much unavailable to anybody except for paid deals. He's just so ungettable that to get him on the air would be such a feat."
Wyman says he's found his professional niche with this exact role. He loves being in a position that impacts content across the nation, all while using his relationship skills to produce his own shows and the entire ESPN network.
"People on the outside would tell me that the best thing about my job is I get to meet athletes and travel to sporting events," he said. "But I would say that it's getting to wake up every day happy to go to work and being excited about it. There aren't many people I know in that position."
And since very few people work just one job anymore, Wyman recently pursued a separate interest outside of ESPN when he and a friend created a mobile application called Flic. It's a movie-related app that allows users to plug in a movie title and then be alerted when it comes out on Netflix, DirecTV, iTunes, DVD and more. Proving once again Wyman is a jack of all trades who is always hungry for the next challenge.
To learn more about Shaun Wyman, follow him on Twitter at @shaunwyman or check out ESPN Radio. Click here to view and download Flicapp.
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