Couple of quick programming notes. Chat is set for 2:30 p.m. Also, I have three stories in today's Globe -- a look at conspiracy theories regarding why the Patriots were flexed to 4:25, a short piece on The Sports Hub's thumping of WEEI in the fall ratings, and a lonnngg feature on the challenges and strengths of CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network as they build toward taking a piece of ESPN's sports cable television pie.
One of the people I spoke to for the latter story was Jim Rome, who made the jump from ESPN to CBS in January, where he has become a centerpiece of the fledgling CBS Sports Network's multi-platform approach. I think I used just one quote from Rome in the story, and I wish there was room for more, because he was relatively candid about his decision to leave ESPN beyond any monetary reasons. So here, then, are five more questions with Rome:
1. Was there any sense that you felt like you needed a change of scenery after eight years at ESPN? A new challenge?
Rome: “I needed to take a shot at something else because I had done the same thing for so long. I didn’t feel like I was in a rut, but I did feel like it was a crossroads, and if I kept doing the same thing, not taking a shot would be a bigger risk than the shot itself. I’ve had a great time with it. It’s been a great opportunity to join CBS. I don’t look at it in a vacuum, because they gave me that show, which is great, but there are so many other opportunities to do so many things, it was a no-brainer.”
2. How aggressive was CBS in pitching you the opportunity to be a featured voice and personality across various mediums -- television, the Showtime program, the radio show, and so on?
Rome: “When CBS comes to you, you don’t say no. But they were very upfront about saying, ‘We know you’re in a good place, we know you’re doing pretty well over there, and you might not just make a move to come to CBS Sports Network, but we’ve got some other things that might make it interesting. You can contribute to the CBS network, you can do the show on Showtime, and the thing is, I’m 20 years in, and I’m getting some of the best opportunities of my entire career. The radio thing was not on the table at that time, that came after the fact, but yeah, the opportunity to do all of these things across the CBS platform made it an easy decision for me."
3. But it's also easy to get lost in the shuffle at ESPN, just based on the enormity of what they do and their involvement in just about every sport. CBS is more focused or condensed, with the NFL and the NCAA Tournament, as well as fewer personalities to promote. Do you feel like more of a priority at CBS?
Rome: “I think there’s something to it. ESPN treated me extremely well. I never had any issues there. But frankly, I’m getting opportunities now that I wouldn’t have gotten there. As soon as I signed with CBS, they had me do a sit-down interview at the Final Four with Rick Pitino and John Calipari. They had me on the NFL on CBS pregame show [on again last weekend] and I got the show on Showtime. And they just promoted the thing and pushed it out and I got a lot of promotion that I never got in my entire career. I feel like I’m a piece that matters to them, and I’m getting a lot of promotion than I would have gotten anywhere else."
4. For now, CBS Sports Network doesn't register in the regular Nielsen ratings because it does not subscribe. That suggests a limited concern about the numbers for now, but that has to be something you keep an eye on, no?
Rome: “You always worry about ratings. They keep score. If they didn’t have ‘em, it wouldn’t matter. But they do. You always worry about them and you’re always being measured. I want to know what they are and how we’re stacking up and what the research says, but in the end, if I don’t take shortcuts and I pay attention to the brand, the rest will take care of itself.”
5. You give the impression on the radio or on TV that you're not someone who ever needs to be recharged, that you're always into it. But is there an extra jolt, additional motivation, from facing this challenge?
Rome: “Hell, yes. I’m not a guy who lacks for motivation. Look, I live in fear that someone is going to knock on my door one day and say, ‘Look, you had a pretty good run, pal, but we don’t really give a damn what you had to say anymore.’ And I know that day is coming at some point, so I wake up every morning and try to find a way to keep that knock on the door from coming. At the same time, I’m like anybody else. I recognize there’s pressure on me to perform and achieve and justify why they rolled me out. When I’ve seen pictures of me and the promotion that they did, I know people are watching it, and the expectations are high. I’m rejuvenated, I’m motivated, and I do not want to fall on my face."
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.