I got the chance to sit down with WSCR 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 two of two in which Laurence and I delve into his career, going national, and how Chicago is more than just home to him. You can read part one here.
Jeff Hicks: What’s been keeping you around Chicago? You’ve been busy with The Score, you recently joined NBC Chicago and now 120 Sports. What about you wants to do all of this and be this busy?
Laurence Holmes: When I was younger, I would always have it in my mind that I was gonna be a SportsCenter anchor by the time I was 27, like that was the goal when I finally figured out that this was what I wanted to do. And then when I started working at The Score, I realized that I wanted to cover the teams that I grew up loving and this was an opportunity to do that. Not having to leave a city that I love made it a much easier decision for me to pursue what would happen. The format of doing a talk show is a very intimate relationship between you and the listener and the older that I got and the more often that I was on the air…I didn’t necessarily want to leave that. Then, probably when I got into my 30’s, I’m 39 now, I wanted to challenge myself. I in no way think that I have perfected radio, but I wanted to see if there were other things that I could do. The great thing about the way that media has changed over the last decade is now I don’t have to leave to do it.
I joke with people all the time that “I’m not going to leave radio,” which is a quote from Jim Rome. I was in Phoenix listening to his show and he talked about even how with CBS and Showtime that he was never ever leaving radio. It was like a light clicked on in my head. I feel exactly the same way. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the radio show.
JH: To piggyback off that…is there anything that would get you to leave the Chicago market? Is there still that position, like the SportsCenter anchor type of thing that could get you to actually consider another venture?
LH: I don’t think so. I bought a house last year. (Laughs) Like, that was a big deal for me. I always knew that I wanted to stay in Chicago, but to buy an actual house, to put down roots, it made everything so clear. And even if at the end of this if all I am is a guy with a radio show, I’m totally okay with that, too. The relationship between me and the crew that works on the show is so wonderful that why would you leave it? The Score is a weird place because it’s…everyone that works there never wants to leave it. There’s a strong sense of purpose.
Even though we’re owned by CBS, there’s still that kind of chip-on-the-shoulder little-engine-that-could type of thing that goes on there and I like being apart of it. I like seeing how I’ve changed from the time that I was 22 til now and how the people that came after me, how much better they are now and seeing that growth. Seeing guys like Joe Ostrowski and Herb Lawrence turn into hosts. Seeing Jason Goff kill it, be this unbelievable host in Chicago. Everyone knew when we heard Jason talk about basketball that he had national potential. To hear him now doing his Sirius (radio) show and looking so in his element. It’s awesome to see some of our young guys like Nick Shepkowski or Jay Zawaski go from being squarely behind the scenes to being at the forefront of our weekend programming, it’s very cool. I don’t know if there’s another place where you can see that happen. It’s like a family; it’s hard to leave it. It would be weird if I wasn’t at The Score.
At one point in our conversation, the relationship between The Score’s Mitch Rosen and Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf came up. Reinsdorf is also an equity partner in 120 Sports and helped create Silver Chalice Ventures.
LH: Those two guys have a relationship. They’ve been partners whether at AM 1000 or now at The Score for a really long time. There’s something to be learned from that type of managerial style where there’s a loyalty that’s built in. You have someone that believes in you and your talent and is willing to allow you to grow. This isn’t the only place where I’ve had the chance to grow. I’m not even talking about Channel 5, I’m talking about being able to take risks on the radio with him believing in some of the things I want to do with the radio show that it’s moving in the right direction. He’s pretty good at finding what every hosts needs.
Laurence delved deeper into Bernstein, a polarizing figure at The Score and co-host of the highly-rated ‘Boers and Bernstein Show.’
LH: He’s super low maintenance. He’s not in there banging on the table saying this is what he has to have, even though he’d be well within his rights as our afternoon drive host. He’s really not that dude. That guy is probably the most misunderstood guy outside the house of the radio station that I have ever seen. He and Terry (Boers) are the guys I’m asked about the most when I’m out in public. “Aw, y’know, well that guy Bernstein, he’s a blah blah blah.” Those two guys are the sweetest guys. They will probably hate that that is even out there, but they are like the sweetest guys in the world. And Terry, if you took a poll of the young guys at The Score they would tell you that Terry is their favorite by a mile. We love him. He’s genuinely funny and he cares, he really cares about the radio station. For a guy who has been there since day one, it’s impressive that he still has that love for not just their show, but for the radio station itself.
JH: Is it safe to say that Laurence Holmes being Terry’s ‘two favorite words in show bitness’ has a lot to do with your guys’ relationship?
Yes, absolutely. I think that working with Terry and doing crosstalk with Terry has allowed me to loosen up. I’m very stat-driven and I like to delve into what the big story is and you can’t, when you’re around Terry, it’s hard to not have fun. I think he’s loosened it up and he’s given me a couple of nicknames so far, which have stuck. Those types of things, they have to be organic like that, and it’s worked out. I know when I go in there at a quarter to six to talk to those guys that I’m gonna have a good time, and it’s gonna allow me to set up the show. That segment allows me to springboard to what I do in the first hour of my show. That first hour of the show has been really successful. We’ve been number one from 6-7 p.m. in our target demographic of men 25-54 pretty consistently, and that has a lot to do with the lead-in of Dan and Terry’s show.
The Laurence Holmes Show airs weeknights on WSCR 670 AM The Score from 6-10pm. ‘The Morning Run’ airs weekday mornings from 8-10 am ET at 120Sports.com or on the 120 Sports app for iPhone and iPad. Android users will be able to download the app July 14.