After what he describes as a “much-needed” break that lasted three years, Jay Mariotti is jumping back in.
This morning, the former Chicago Sun-Times columnist and member of ESPN’s Around The Horn launched Mariottishow.com. In an email, Mariotti writes:
“We’re launching a national multimedia site that we think is innovative because it wraps my three-hour national daily radio show around a site of my 24/7 content — columns, short opinion hits, videos, audience interaction via Twitter and email, a travelogue of sports and restaurants and who knows what.”
Mariotti writes that he is teaming with Genesis Communications, a Florida company that is “paying me for the content and the show.” The Genesis site has six channels with programming, featuring numerous shows.
Day 1 for Mariotti’s new site has columns on Alex Rodriguez (“tragic”), Johnny Manziel (“crashing”), and the upcoming battle between ESPN and Fox Sports 1 (“LOL”). It also has a video comparing Michael Jordan and LeBron James (“please”). As usual, Mariotti has plenty to say.
The M-F radio show will begin Monday, running from noon-3 p.m. ET.
With a few exceptions, Mariotti has been mainly on the sidelines since a domestic violence incident with a woman in 2010. He lost gigs on Around The Horn and as lead columnist for AOL.
Mariotti writes that he has had discussions with several outlets, including ESPN and Fox Sports. Instead, he says he wants to be “fiercely independent,” building a personally-branded site that he hopes will include hiring other writers.
“I should note I’ve had meetings with ESPN and Fox about joining their operations, and candidly, I think they’re too corporate, while they have their own opinions of me. Point being, I can’t be The Man if I’m working for The Man and The Man has a close business arrangement with the subjects of my commentaries.”
The above quote is part of an open letter to readers. It is 2,726 words, which will be 2,726 words more than many of his detractors will want to read from him.
Mariotti touches on his legal issues; what he has been doing with himself; his view of sports in 2013; and why his site is needed in the new media landscape.
Here are some of the highlights:
Making the scene: I’m kind of bored in paradise. I’ve seen my sunsets in Santa Monica, eaten at every restaurant from Silver Lake to Malibu, spent nights on Abbot Kinney and Ocean Avenue, done the scenes and parties and museums, cruised my bike from Pacific Palisades to Palos Verdes, been to the Dodgers/Angels/Lakers/Clippers/Kings/USC/UCLA/Beckham. I’ve done the Hollywood Bowl. They got me to the Greek. I’ve chatted with Owen Wilson, talked sports with Pittsburgh homeboy Michael Keaton, viewed paintings by the Incubus singer at a gallery and watched the paparazzi harass poor Lohan in Venice. I’ve been to a holiday party in Orange County where President Obama’s face was a dartboard target. I stop everything when I see the Grilled Cheese Truck. I’ve been to Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Napa, Yountville, Santa Barbara, San Diego, La Jolla, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Carmel, Sausalito, Big Sur, Pebble Beach and the original In-N-Out Burger in Baldwin Park. I’ve done my California. Sharknado wasn’t real.
Time to work. With a portable studio — how I love 2013 — we’ll be doing the radio show from L.A., Florida, the Super Bowl, a Mexican bullfighting ring, anywhere and everywhere. I can’t wait to renew my fascination with the bigger planet.
His legal issues: While the Internet paves new avenues of media creativity, it also enables the irresponsibility of hacks. I know this too well, having come off a legal case filled with countless lies and accompanied by lazy, reckless, inaccurate, incomplete news coverage. As the father of two wonderful, successful daughters, I abhor domestic abuse and never have or would strike a woman. The hard lesson I’ve learned is not to let another person’s problems become mine and to be careful about my associations, particularly as a figure in the public eye.
The landscape: Fox ended up downsizing its digital effort into a silly-season site, featuring such nonsense as a National Enquirer report that Lindsey Vonn is worried Tiger Woods will sleep with his ex-wife. It’s a bizarre approach as Fox Sports 1 launches in an attempt to compete with the ESPN empire. Wouldn’t you want a strong news site to support your fledgling network? Consider it another example of why independent sites can thrive today. Other than ESPN.com, which is pumped with enough resources and care to remain the gold standard, and the New York Times, which has monetized an elaborate site and features a deep roster of skilled writers, the digital sports landscape is teetering.
Consider the estimable Yahoo Sports, filled with meaningful content but always dependent on the whims of whoever is running the company today. Or USA Today, which has committed to a revamped sports division but also is facing a clock in which profits must be turned. A lot of companies and entrepreneurs are investing in sports media, but too many sites are hiring inexperienced writers cheaply or aggregating news from other sites — what happened to competing instead of giving each other credit for shared story links? It’s still difficult to monetize news and commentary digitally, but by 2015, it’s estimated that 85 percent of media revenue will be digital-based. The sites positioned for advertising’s eventual full-blown shift to digital will succeed in the end.
And finally: Evolution is what’s fun about this business. The Mariotti Show is a site firmly planted in 2013 yet detached from the government-like climates of corporate media. I can tell the truth about any subject I want, anytime I want, and no one can summarily spike content because your boss is friendly with a commissioner or owner, your company is in business with a league or team, your newspaper has a comped suite at the ballpark or your network has a rights deal through 2082 with a major college conference.
Hope you enjoy our venture. I’m enjoying it already.
So will you enjoy it?
This is a man who once performed on the biggest platforms in sports media. Now he is looking to make a comeback, starting from if not the ground floor, a much, much lower floor.
Mariotti may be back, but he still has a long way to go.
More to come.