Bobby Guarente of I-95 Sports Networks
Bobby thanks for joining us today. You seem to have a lot under your company Blackjack Media. 1-95 Sports Network seems to keep you pretty busy. Tell us a little about yourself for starters, and how the network got started.
Thanks for having me Sanford! I've been a DJ since I was like 16 but since I went to a smaller high school, I never knew of other career opportunities like Communications or Broadcasting. I started doing a live weekly sports show called "Talking Football LIVE” with my cousin Anthony and we loved what we were doing but I could never seem to get the sound right. I began to teach myself audio broadcasting and learning what type of equipment to get. We wanted to expand the show but I began to realize that buying airtime in the biggest media market in the world was extremely expensive. So I then decided to build my own network online, which became the 1-95 Sports Network. Since I went to that small high school, I wanted to give back by showing students there that other career paths exist. Next thing you know we're broadcasting their football games live!
So it is safe to say sports and media has been something you have always been involved with? With sports streaming growing, you have seemed to have carved out a nice niche for yourself. What do you think makes your network unique? What makes 1-95 Sports Network unique is that I've always tried to stay ahead of the curve. While similar online sports networks like mine continued to be focused on writing, I saw the greater potential in broadcasting. I've spent hundreds if not thousands of hours perfecting audio streamed broadcasts then moved on to live video streaming which is where the present and future of sports broadcasting lies. Just as the major sports publications and websites like Bleacher Report and Fan-Sided began to be bought out for their content and readers, I feel a similar buying spree will happen again for us live stream broadcasters.
You have some diverse programming on the network. Talk about some of the programs you air? As far as sports shows we air programs that generally discuss all sports which is common in sports talk radio but I always felt the real way to create a niche is to also mix in sports-specific programming. Two of my longest running shows involve pro wrestling and sports betting respectively. On the live sports side of the business, we are the official broadcast partner for the new Women's American Basketball Association (WABA) as well as a new professional soccer league that will be announced soon. We also broadcast professional soccer matches for the PDL-level Long Island Rough Riders and FA Euro and professional men's basketball for the ABA.
Are there any new programs that you are developing that we can expect to see or hear in the near future? The cool thing about owning your own sports network is that I get a chance to be creative as well. We are aiming to be the broadcast home for a sport called Net Ball, which is very popular amongst the English Commonwealth countries. I've been offered to live stream Hand Ball and I'm speaking with a Professional Arm Wrestling league as well. I'm also looking to do some things with some other popular recreational sports to bring them an audience.
Bobby, no doubt you have experienced many victories in business, but you probably had to overcome some obstacles. How have you approached them and handled them? I've found that trying to be a trailblazer in sports media, you have to be able to not only handle rejection but also to be willing to put your reputation out there to prove your worth. I've done more than my share of "freebies” to establish our market and thankfully that has led to us being sought after by the WABA, the new pro soccer league and more. I remember when I first started to cover the New York Giants for Talking Football LIVE, the beat writers and established media members looked at me like I had three heads. They didn't understand new media or what we were about but forward thinking by some of the professional sports teams realizing that they need to connect with their fan-bases in new ways opened the doors to us.
If there was one piece of advice you would give a startup (especially a sports startup), what would that be? I'd advise to try to focus on one/two sports or sports teams and become an influencer in that market. With technology being so instant and mobile, one can literally do everything with their smart phones. I'd also advise them to "Always Be Marketing". Never stop reaching out and making new connections as they often lead to new opportunities and doors being opened.
I know that you run a classic dance radio station. So you are driving to your next meeting. What classic dance track is playing in your ride? Great question, I'd start with "Play At Your Own Risk" by Planet Patrol then I'd slow it down a bit to get into that groove with "Ain't Nobody" by Chaka Khan.
I am a classic dance man also. Bobby, thanks for the time to chat. What is the best way for someone to contact you? I can be reached anytime at 201-289-7087 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm also on Instagram at bobby.blackjack