A sit-down with Laurence Holmes (Part One)

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Laurence Holmes

I got the chance to sit down with WSCR 670 AM The Score and 120 Sports ‘Morning Run’ host Laurence Holmes prior to the launch of the new morning show from 120 Sports. This is part one of two in which Laurence and I delve into his career, going national, and how Chicago is more than just home to him.

Jeff Hicks: What interested you in talking about and now joining 120 Sports?

Laurence Holmes: I wanted to challenge myself, honestly. I also like the fact that I can do some national stuff, and I can challenge myself and still stay in Chicago and do it. That was kind of the allure for me to try this out. The people at 120 have been real nice about letting me explore it a little bit and see if I can balance both doing radio and doing this. So far, so good.

I’m still not sure if the physical demands of it are going to be something that I can handle. Like right now, it’s baseball season. I have 30 minute shows, I have two-and-a-half hour shows. That’s easier. During football season, I’ll have four hour shows. The day that I have those shows, I don’t think it’s going to be that hard. The day after I have those shows might be a little difficult. That first day that I was at 120 I honestly thought that I’m not going back. That was an interesting experiment, and now I’m used to getting up at 4 a.m., and it’s not that bad and I’ve kind of figured out my day. The next challenge is seeing if I have enough gas in the tank to then do a four hour show. I suspect that I will, but it’s a matter of how long I can do it and if I can balance both effectively. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can do that.

JH: To verify, was it just Score head Mitch Rosen that you had to get the okay from or was it from even higher up?

LH: Yeah, this had to go all the way up to New York. I am under contract with The Score and they don’t want anything to interfere with that. That’s supposed to come first and I understand that. They were gracious, very gracious to even entertain the idea. They could have immediately said no, but I give Mitch a lot of credit. He’s been on the forefront of not just letting me, but letting our guys explore and see what they’re good at, and that’s good. That allows people to be happy. That makes for a good working environment when you know that someone has your best interests at heart along with the interests of the radio station.

JH: What type of challenge does 120 offer that maybe radio or conventional television doesn’t for you?

LH: Well, the difference between doing (NBC) Channel 5, for example and 120 is there’s a lot of prep for a little air time, and it’s very specific. So, if I’m anchoring at Channel 5 on Saturday I’m in at 3 o’clock, we put together the 5 o’clock, and I’m on the air for four minutes. After the 5 o’clock is over, I spend another five hours prepping the 10 o’clock for another four-and-a-half minutes. You only get one time to do it. You try to put as much of yourself into it, but it’s difficult to do that because you’re not really dealing with opinion.

With 120 Sports, the prep is the biggest challenge. I’m going from knowing the stuff that is going on nationally, but honing in on what’s going on locally and making that the focus of my day. Now it’s a matter of trying to know everything that’s going on. It’s making sure that I’m watching every show nationally that I can to get nuggets that I can pass along or different ideas that are going to spark from that. It’s a bigger canvas that I get to paint on now, but you have to be prepared to paint on that canvas and be ready everyday.

JH: Have people asked you what 120 Sports is? What are some of the questions and feedback that you’re getting?

LH: “Is it a radio show?” is the first thing that I get, a lot, which I understand because I had to get permission from The Score and CBS Radio to do it. That’s one of the first things they ask.

JH: What’s one thing, nationally or local that you’re looking forward to covering that you’ll be able to blend your radio job and 120 Sports?

LH: The NFL. The shield is king, man. I mean, I have a fantasy team, you probably have a fantasy team, too, but now I’ll have a chance to really get a greater sense of what’s happening around the league before I break it down into what’s going on with the (Chicago) Bears and how the Bears relate to what the national narrative is in the league. I saw the biggest jump in Instagram followers for me last year at training camp. I saw a 1,000 person jump from the first day of training camp in that first week on Instagram. I’ve never seen a jump like that since. I was putting out video of Brandon Marshall, Charles Tillman, and people crave that. They can’t get enough of it.

Laurence went on to talk about how social media has changed his job.

Twitter has been a game-changer for me. Now on game day I’m tweeting out stuff that hopefully people can’t see, or that they might not know because the cameras are always taking you to the ball. The feedback from listeners has been great. It gives me a chance to almost do a show on Twitter while the Bears game is on. It’s like we’re all watching the game together, and that’s a very cool way to watch the game. There’s stuff that people tweet back at me that I don’t know, and to have that kind of back-and-forth, that interaction makes going to the game so much more fun than just me going to the game with  my recorder just waiting for the game to end to ask questions. Twitter holds you accountable. Your followers hold you accountable.

Jeff is a production assistant @120Sports and contributor to hockey, football, and baseball for The Sports Bank. Follow him on Twitter @skcih_ffej.

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