Back home where it all started, 10,000 miles ago: Rolling with the Tide at Southern Fried Sports on Tide 102.9
Tuesday, Dec. 19
11:45 a.m., Tide 102.9, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
After a year of traveling for my #followmylede project to chronicle journalism in America in 2017, it is fitting that I end at home, in Tuscaloosa, after almost 10,000 miles of newsrooms across the country.
On a cold December day, I visit Tide 102.9, located in a building that houses multiple stations owned by Townsquare Media, including 95.3 The Bear, 92.9 WTUG, Star 101.7, Catfish 100.1, Praise 99.3 and Nick 95.7.
In the lobby sits an old teletype machine from the Associated Press, a fun, throwback unexpected item.
Tide 102.9 Brand Manager Marquis Munson tells me about covering sports 24/7:
“It’s cool if you grew up loving sports like I have. The only challenge is keeping up with everything. For example, of course we are the home of Alabama sports and I watch ‘Bama football and basketball, but I also want to know everything about sports outside of Tuscaloosa. It’s hard to keep up with those sports teams and actually try to keep up with regular life. But I’m trying to have more insight than the next guy or girl, so I watch everything I can so my judgment of other teams is based on their performance, instead of me just looking at their record and saying ‘they suck.’”
I am at Tide 102.9 to meet Travis Reier and get a feel for what it’s like to live, eat, sleep and breathe sports journalism every day, all day, as well as why niche journalism is important.
When I visit the station, Alabama is gearing up to play in the College Football Playoff semifinals. To many towns, football is just a sport, but in Tuscaloosa it is much more than that.
If you think I’m kidding just Google “Alabama Crimson Tide” sometime. In Tuscaloosa we use “Roll Tide” as every part of speech imaginable. ESPN even made a commercial about it.
If The Tuscaloosa News puts a picture or any news item about Alabama Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban or the football team on the top of the fold of the newspaper, single copy sales go up. People in Tuscaloosa hang on every shred of football news, discussion and rumor, so Reier’s job is significantly hyped up compared to covering college athletics in some cities.
Reier, a senior analyst for BamaOnLine, hosts Southern Fried Sports weekdays from 11-noon. BamaOnLine, a website that covers the University of Alabama athletics, is affiliated with the 247sports.com and cbssports.com networks. After joining the site in 2003 he helped it move to the top spot in premium subscription sign ups in the Rivals.com network.
Here, Reier tells me why he loves sports reporting and how he found his niche, as well as misconceptions about the job that he thinks the public might have. It was a fun interview to end my time in American newsrooms. Roll Tide, y’all.
Next up, in 2018: The last post in the #followmylede series, lessons learned on my trip to chronicle American journalism in 2017.