Adam Jones opens up about his jump to WEEI
The dark knight of sports talk has infiltrated WEEI.
Adam Jones made his long-awaited daytime debut Monday, hitting the airwaves alongside Meghan Ottolini and Christian Arcand to begin a new era in afternoon drive. It didn’t take very long for Jones to make his mark: he immediately started ripping Bill Belichick for holding the Patriots back with his outdated and austere ways.
On this week’s edition of “The Sports Media Mayhem” podcast, I chatted with Jones about his long journey to the daytime hours, and overall approach to radio. Yes, the topic of whether he’s overly negative may have come up.
Our conversation is below. Some answers have been edited for brevity:
Alex Reimer: Let me start with this: Now that Brady has retired, what the hell are we gonna do now? How are we going to fill time, if he's not going to be around every day?
Adam Jones: You know what? It's a good question, because I was looking at it the opposite of you. I'm like, ‘Great. We have a good story for today. Check it out. Watch for today.’ But right, you're thinking longer term, you're playing a longer game. That's not a strength of us radio people.
I mean, look, I'm shocked he's retiring. I'm a little disappointed in him, honestly. I said this when he retired last year -- you know, 'fake retired' last year -- if you're going to wait until you suck to retire, he doesn't suck. The Bucs sucked last year. I would get why we would want to leave Tampa. But he doesn't suck. I'm a little disappointed he would go out and leave another year or two where he could contend for a Super Bowl and play at a high level. I'm stunned. Maybe he was tied to Sean Payton. Maybe Payton going to Denver was an indication that Brady wasn't going to come back. But I really thought he'd be playing this year. I think he should be playing this year. Yeah, I'm a little let down.
AR: I think this year was really embarrassing for him in a number of ways, and I think maybe he felt that. I'm like you, I'm shocked he's retiring, but I don't know. Maybe if I look at how embarrassing this year was for him, maybe he figured, 'This is ruining my reputation.’
AJ: Do you mean personally, or on the field?
AR: I think personally and professionally. It was embarrassing for him all-around. The divorce stuff, how he played. He became a laughingstock at times.
AJ: That playoff game was awful. In terms of on the field stuff, I still think he's fine. I still think with a better team around him, and he might need to lean on a team more than he used to, but with a better team around him, he's still more than capable of winning a Super Bowl -- I think. But that playoff game was a hard watch. That's true.
AR: The one thing I will say about Brady is, I think in retirement, he'll be much weirder than he even has been the last couple of years.
AJ: That’s hard to do. But maybe, yeah.
AR: You had a long and successful run at 98.5. What prompted you to come over here?
AJ: A couple of things: I do like the opportunity of who I'm working with. I didn't know Mego very well before I started working with her, but I've always liked what I've heard. I like what I saw from her on 'Quick Slants.' I'm excited to work with her. I know Christian very well. I actually know a lot of people from 98.5 at WEEI. I know Gresh, I know Billy Lanni, I know Rich Keefe, I know Wiggy. There's a lot of people I know there who I've worked with in the past. And honestly, beyond all of that, and all of that stuff is true, I had done 10 years at night. My kid is going to be going to school next year. It's a good life-work balance, which I know a lot of people probably overuse, but it will be a good life-work balance to be home at night for the first time in 10 years, and be able to do dinners at home. And it's a new challenge. I would like to be in a more prominent day part, and try to carve out a niche there, and try to be successful there. I think we did a good thing at night for 10 years, but nights are nights, and I honestly was ready for something different.
I hold no animosity towards 98.5. I think people wonder that and ask that. I get why you're not gonna get rid of Fred or Rich or Wallach or Beetle or Zo or Hardy or Felger and Mazz and Big Jim. I get there are limited opportunities. I just felt when the time was right, it was worth taking the shot. I feel pretty good about the shot.
AR: This business is a labor of love, but you really have to love it to do nights. That's not the easiest shift. You really have to love it.
AJ: There were things I did like about it. I had all day to get ready. I could pour a lot into work. As minimal shape as I could get myself into, I could go for a run. I was playing basketball twice per week. There was stuff I liked about it. But it is challenging in its own way, as you said, in your personal life. But that's a side piece to all of it.
I just do think, professionally, I was ready to do something different.
AR: On that note, you're working with two people now, Meghan and Arcand. That's different than nights. But beyond that, is there anything else about your approach that you think you want to change, or will change?
AJ: I think some of that stuff is organic. I think who you work with, sometimes certain topics present themselves. I think we're still, me and Meghan, are still working on what's a good topic for us. I know what I wanted to hammer away at at night, but if there's a certain style of topics, whether it's hardcore sports, or fun with sports, or stuff outside of sports, where do we kind of find a groove? Not that you want to manufacture any debate. You know how it works, Alex. I don't want to manufacture anything. But I do want to focus on topics where we don't necessarily just agree and repeat each other. You want to find stuff where there's friction or there's disagreement or there's debate. That's the kind of stuff we're trying to find. If you're asking stylistically, there's not much I plan on changing. I've been criticized for being overly negative, or overly 'sky is falling,' which is probably a fair criticism. But that's the approach that I take. I don't see that changing until there's a need to change it.
AR: I was going to get to the negativity point, so good on you for leading me there. Do you think you're looking for more negativity than the average fan or media person, and is that necessarily a bad thing?
AJ: I would say I am. Look, I said this on the first show, I do view myself as an equal opportunity ripper. Am I overly negative? Sure. Do I lean into it more than most people? Probably. But I do think, the more you listen, the more you're going to go, 'Oh. He's not taking this out personally on my team or my favorite player. This is his approach.' If you listen, I will rip the opponent. I will rip the coach. I will rip the referee. I will rip your favorite team. I will rip your favorite player. I just think, you know, as long as that's consistent, the more people hear that, the more they'll realize that that's just the approach. The more you hear that, the more you appreciate it, or at least be in on the joke. Honestly, a lot of it is, it's not me being negative just for the sake of being negative. A lot of time, it's to prove a point, and there's humor in it.
AR: And I'm sorry, in general, people who are ripping others, are just more interesting to listen to. Would you rather talk to someone who goes, 'Oh, I had a FABULOUS day,' or someone who goes, 'Ugh, my day sucked.' What's generally a more entertaining conversation?
AJ: I guess there's a journalistic aspect to this job. I'm not a journalist, I've never pretended to be a journalist. I didn't go to school for journalism. It's not my job. My job is to be entertaining. People might disagree, and that's fine. But right, that tends to be more entertaining than, 'Hey, the Patriots are going to be OK, and there's nothing wrong, and they were almost a playoff team last year and everything is fine.' That, to me, maybe that's a little more of a rational or sane way of walking around the planet, but rational and sane isn't always entertaining. The job is to entertain.
AR: Rational and sane in radio don't really mix, as you know. But I do think it's interesting, in today's world, there's so much of an echo chamber now. This goes well beyond sports. If you listen to any popular podcast, you rarely have two hosts who disagree. It's really just a lot of nice, genial conversation. A lot of agreement. I still think radio goes the other way, because it's such a different medium. You've heard the stat, the average person listens, what? Ten, 12 minutes? Something like that? My approach always was, 'I want to catch them. They're in the car, I want to rile them up about something.' I think it's just different.
AJ: I still think there's something about radio -- and I'm biased. I'm sure newspaper writers say this about newspapers, there's a different quality to it. There is something about radio being live and local and immediate. This Tom Brady story is a great example. You're in your car, you hear the breaking news: 'Tom Brady is retiring.' You get the video clip right then and there. That's a little different than already knowing the news and seeking out a podcast. It's immediate reaction. You know how people feel in the moment, you know how you feel in the moment. Maybe it's not an impossible thing to replicate, but it's a hard thing to replicate. I still think that's the biggest difference between [radio and podcasts].
AR: I want to close with this question: if you're to look back at yourself when you started doing nights full-time, what do you think are some of the biggest ways you've changed as a host?
AJ: A couple of things: I wouldn't say I'm somebody who's openly sharing a lot about their personal life, and that's a lot about their style. I do think I'm much more comfortable doing that now, talking about things that happened to me, or in my life. Maybe some of that is being married and having a kid. Maybe some of that is just being comfortable on the air. But I do think that's something that's changed a lot. I used to be really guarded with that stuff. I don't know why that was. Maybe it was a need to stick to the topics of the day, or I felt like there was an obligation to just stick with sports and talk about sports. I think that's changed quite a bit over the years. I do think striving into more obvious areas of humor is another thing I've done, too. I'm much more comfortable trying bits and songs, where again, I would try to make a witty joke or something like that on the air, but pre-produced, or thinking about stuff that maybe goes to a little more obvious humor area and adding a little more fun to the show, that's more stuff I've tried to do.
I think the opinions have, for the most part, always been there. I think the edge for the most part has been there. But I think some of those elements have added to the show. I could still get out of sports more. I acknowledge that. But those are probably a few areas where it's grown, or at least changed over the years.
AJ: Well, we'll be listening. Adam, thanks for the time.
when will Brady's broadcasting career actually start?
Brady the broadcaster: With Tom Brady now retired (“for good,” he says), the focus turns to his broadcasting future. Last May, Brady inked a 10-year, $375 million deal with Fox, and would supposedly start whenever his playing career ends.
Well, it’s over now, but don’t expect Brady to be part of Fox’ Super Bowl booth. The network is sticking with Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen, who have been excellent this season.
Still, it would be surprising if Brady wasn’t part of Fox’ Super Bowl coverage in some fashion. Fox signed Brady for his star power, and has 5.5 hours of airtime to fill leading into the big game. Next Sunday would seem to be a prime opportunity for Brady to make his first appearance since retiring.
If Brady doesn’t do that, then what is Fox paying him for?
The Brady hole: While Brady will undoubtedly stay in the news as a retired player — especially given his expected role with Fox — the end of his playing career marks a new chapter for those in Boston sports media. For the last 23 years, Brady has always been the topic that rules the day.
Now, suddenly, there’s a lot more time to kill.
Romo’s new lows: Tony Romo kept hitting new lows this postseason, with his nadir coming during Sunday’s AFC Championship. Romo’s last broadcast of the season exposed all of his flaws: constantly shouting, inane analysis, struggling to make sense.
CBS, which signed Romo to a 10-year, $180 million contract in 2020, has a big problem on its hands. It’s apparent that Romo doesn’t study, and at this point, is relying on his increasingly tired schtick.
Next season will be big for Romo. We’ll see if he dedicates himself to actually earning his money.