Inside Noontime: The First Year

By Matt Noonan 

Welcome to the second installment of ‘Inside Noontime,’ a weekly series that tells our site’s story about how I (and others) built Noontime Sports, along with the lessons we have learned over the past decade.

This blog has provided me, along with others, an amazing opportunity to pursue our love for storytelling, as well as video and podcast production, too. And that is exactly where we pick-up with our weekly series! 

Months after our site launched in May 2009, I had returned to campus – Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, to be exact – for the start of my senior year.

I was excited for my final two semesters of college but eager for graduation day to arrive quickly so I could begin my content creation journey that has featured many twists and turns. 

Over the past few months, I blogged occasionally for the site – maybe three to four times per week? – but not as much as others I knew (or would eventually meet down the road) that produced five or six blogs per day. I was a college student – well, more a college senior, to be exact – and I wanted to have some semblance of a social life before I departed campus with a piece of paper that said I met the necessary requirements to graduate Wheaton, including a foreign language class that I barely passed after scoring a six on a midterm exam.  

As the fall progressed, I continued to stay connected with a few friends that were helpful with generating content during the first few years of the site’s existence, including Andy Lindberg, who I considered my right-hand man. Andy to me was more than just a friend, but a colleague – he was passionate about sports writing and would often produce blogs that were so well written that I often wondered to myself, “why the heck does this dude want to write for my little unknown site?”  

Like Mike Riley and Hayden Bird, who I mentioned in my initial post of the ‘Inside Noontime’ series, Andy challenged me to be a better writer and thinker. I credit Andy for his tutelage during the first few years as the site’s owner and editor. Andy was instrumental in helping me launch the site’s podcast – you know it today as Noontime Sports the Podcast, which can be heard on various outlets, including Apple Podcast and Spotify. We would record the show via Skype and then post the recording as a blog post. 

Did anyone actually listen

As the first year progressed, I became more and more obsessed with content creation – I really wanted to do what I was doing for Noontime Sports for a local or national outlet. So when I received an email in April 2010 that I was being considered for an entry-level role with NESN, I immediately wrote back that “I would love to interview for this particular job.” 

Unfortunately, I did not get the job. But the interview experience – and yes, the process, too! – provided me a better understanding of what I needed to do the next time I was in the running for a similar position. And I realize now how lucky I was to sit across the table from three amazing individuals, including a gentleman by the name of Mike Hall, who did some truly amazing things for the site, but also the outlet’s digital brand. 

As I drove home from the interview, I kept telling myself that pursuing a career in this field would still be possible. Think positively, Matt – you can do it!

The search for that so-called “initial job out of college” continued for the next few weeks, and eventually, I was able to accept two positions: one with the Pittsfield Colonials, who were an independent baseball team, and another with WEEI.com. Both positions were so helpful in shaping future content for the site you are currently reading – honestly, if it had not been for these two positions, then maybe Noontime Sports would not have lasted more than a year. Who knows? 

With the Colonials, I was able to produce some content on the players, as well as the manager, Brian Daubach, too, which I am still unsure if anyone read other than say, my family? While I was an employee of the team, I felt as though I was their in-house journalist with my blog – I am not sure they knew I was producing daily blogs about the team, but it certainly helped me learn a thing or two about being a beat writer. 

But one of my fondest memories of telling stories about the Colonials was hosting a weekly podcast with Kevin Tuve, who was the team’s scout. Tuve knows the sport of baseball inside and out – trust me, this guy would be a valued member of any professional scouting department if he was given the chance and was extremely instrumental in helping Pittsfield go from the bottom of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball (Can-Am) standings to first place.

With Tuve’s assistance, the team not only won a playoff series but also secured a spot in the championship round. Unfortunately, they would lose to the Québec Capitales but discussing both the series and season with Tuve was something I cherish to this day. The podcasts were usually 30 minutes and also posted into a blog post shortly after the conversation concluded. To me, it felt like talking about a major sports franchise with millions of people listening – did millions listen?

As the summer became the fall, I found myself in a similar position as I was a few months earlier: I needed a job as soon as possible! But while I constantly searched for similar jobs, along with positions a 22-year-old straight out of college was not qualified for, I decided to use the time to produce a post titled the ‘Daily Noontime,’ which has taken on so many different versions since I started it. 

The ‘Daily Noontime’ was somewhat similar to a post I did when I was on the clock with WEEI.com as an intern. It was basically the equivalent of a modern-day email blast that linked back to various news stories and videos. And I think people read the post if I recall! 

But one thing I do recall doing at the end of 2010 was making a slew of videos – something I had not done until I purchased a camera and tripod after college – while welcoming a variety of guests onto my unknown (and no-name) podcast, including Bill Hancock, who is the executive director of the College Football Playoff and was certainly the site’s biggest guest. Bill was a wonderful guest – I am so glad we connected! – and I still cannot believe he made time for me, someone he did not know. But that experience of interacting with Bill, both on the podcast and after the show was recording, remains with me to this exact day.  

Eventually, I found a job – in fact, I found a few, to be exact (and honest!) – and as my first two gigs out of college, they also began to shape the site’s identity, including a freelance opportunity with ESPNBoston.com. 

Next week, we’ll dive into how the site decided to switch gears from covering national stories to college and high school sports in Massachusetts, as well as other parts of New England.

Inside Noontime: The Beginning

By Matt Noonan 

For the past few weeks, I have been wrestling with a slew of new ideas for Noontime Sports – I wanted to start a weekly series that you, my fans and friends, could read once a week. 

Yet, I did not know exactly what this series was going to be about until I recently finished a podcast this afternoon that inspired me to not just share stories of networking and career advice, but instead to tell my story – the Noontime Sportsstory, to be exact! – with hopes of inspiring others to pursue their passion while finding something they love to do on a daily basis. 

So, with not much going on locally with college or high school sports coverage, I have decided to hit the rewind button and tell you the story of Noontime Sports – well, more this 11-year journey that has allowed me to cover so many amazing events and contests to meeting some tremendous folks, both locally and outside the New England region, that work in sports. 

The story of Noontime Sports is interesting – in fact, I never thought nor imagined I would start up a small hyperlocal media site here in Massachusetts because my main focus growing up was to pursue a life-long dream of becoming a play-by-play announcer. Writing was not my strength, but talking – yes, talking – was something I knew I could do quite well. Or at least I thought, right? 

As an eight-year-old, I was always fascinated by the various broadcasters I watched and listened to, especially on FOX Sports where I was easily amused by the soothing tones of Pat Summerall. I thought his job as a play-by-play announcer was something I would like to do when I was older – hey, getting paid to announce the big game to millions of people, both locally and around the country (and yes, the globe, too) sounded like an ideal job to someone that absolutely loved sports

My love for broadcasting would grow even stronger seven years later when I became an intern with The Needham Channel in Needham, Massachusetts, especially when I met Mike Riley, who has and continues to be an amazing friend and colleague. 

Riley to me as a 15-year-old high school student was a rock star. Deep down, I knew he was destined to do some amazing things. And so far, he has, especially here in Massachusetts where sports fans can hear him share his thoughts on the local teams on 98.5 The Sports Hub, while PA announcing goals and touchdowns through various stadium speakers, including recently with the New England Revolution

Learning from Riley was an incredible opportunity. He taught me so much about how to not just host a sports talk show, which aired once a week on The Needham Channel, but how to convey a big-time play like a touchdown or three-point conversion as a play-by-play broadcaster for the network. I was convinced I would one day work with Riley at ESPN where we would announce baseball or football or even lacrosse, but eventually, I was bit by the writing bug, which is something I credit not just my various high school English teachers, but also my college’s student newspaper editors, including the sports editor Hayden Bird, who you can currently read on Boston.com

Bird, like Riley, was tremendous at his craft. He was a great writer, but also a very good editor, too. He challenged me to become a better storyteller, especially when tasked with writing about the numerous Wheaton College (Mass.) varsity or club programs for The Wheaton Wire

Being able to learn from Bird about what makes a good story was something that would eventually lead me to leave the newspaper and launch my own weekly sports magazine as a junior – truthfully, I wanted to challenge my school’s student newspaper by telling more in-depth stories like the ones I read in ESPN The Magazine or Sports Illustrated

I decided to name the sports magazine Get In The Game, which was the same name of my radio show, which no one on campus could listen to in their car or on the radio. If you wanted anyone to listen to the nonsense you were spewing about the Boston Red Sox or Tom Brady or hear the awful music you were spinning, you had to send out a link to your family and friends. 

Producing a weekly magazine was a lot of fun, but it did take me away from my studies, as well as group projects, too. I was less interested in my history assignments because my focus during these few weeks that the magazine was being published was on the various stories I hoped to tel so I could beat my former colleagues at the student newspaper.

Get In The Game – the magazine, to be exact – was a project that filled me with great joy along with some amazing – and yes, hysterical memories like getting yelled at by the school’s librarian for printing new issues – well, a lot of issues, to be exact! – to rehashing the entire 2008 Wheaton women’s basketball championship season. 

Weeks after I stopped producing the magazine, I returned to the student newspaper with hopes of coming up with another idea. But this time, I was not looking to rival the paper. Nope, I wanted to start something that would allow both friends and recent graduates a platform where they could write and talk about sports – anyone ever heard of a podcast?

I was days away from returning to WEEI, a sports radio station here in Boston, as a production intern, and noticed they had recently redone their website and launched various blogs on the state’s various professional sports teams. 

Similar to WEEI, other websites were also launching blogs, which is something we should all credit Bill Simmons (now with The Ringer) and Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports for leading this current revolution of sports media. 

Blogs were slowly becoming a big deal – in fact, it almost felt like blogs were not just an overnight sensation, but something myself and others would use as part of the ever-changing sports media landscape. And as someone that did not go to school for journalism – I majored in American Studies – I thought starting a blog would be a great way to build digital clips and produce content that I could show off to future employers.

But little did I realize Noontime Sports would become my future employer – that story will be discussed and observed in a future blog post – but after writing my initial post on May 14, 2009, about Duke University basketball, I became immediately obsessed with blogging. 

And thus began a journey that I hoped would be shortlived – seriously, I did not want this blog to last long as I had post-graduate visions of one day joining a digital team at ESPN or Bleacher Report, but currently, I am the digital team here at Noontime Sports – in fact, I still wear multiple hats in case you were wondering – that oversees a site that has and continues to be extremely important to me. 

Next week, I will tell you about that first year of blogging for Noontime Sports to covering my first-ever semiprofessional sports team to finagling a way to welcome Bill Hancock, who is currently the executive director of the College Football Playoff, onto my no-name podcast. 

Daily Noontime: Monday, June 26th

Daily Noontime

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Happy Monday, everyone! And yes, the Daily Noontime has officially returned, so expect a daily morning blog post going forward!

Let’s get back to business with news and stories from the past few days, as well as today, too:

What we’re watching tonight: 

  • Minnesota Twins at Boston Red Sox, 7:15 p.m. – Boston’s Chris Sale goes for his 10th win of the season this evening against a Twins squad that has currently won three-straight. 
  • New York Yankees at Chicago White Sox, 8:10 p.m. – Can the Bronx Bombers rebound from back-to-back losses? Plus, can they keep pace with the Red Sox for first place in the East? 
  • Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals, 7:05 p.m. – The Nationals have been decent at home, they have won 20 of 35 games, which is not bad. Can they win a few more contests in their home ballpark, beginning with tonight’s game against the Cubs? 

Video of the Day: 

Yes, we love sports, but we also like musicals and movies, too. So, if you’re a fan of Pitch Perfect, then you’ll enjoy today’s ‘video of the day!’ Hopefully this will make you want to sing in the office today!

Noontime Sports The Podcast: Episode 20 Hayden Bird (Boston.com)

noontime-sports-podcast

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Noontime Sports the Podcast returned after a few week hiatus with guest Hayden Bird of Boston.com.

Bird joined host Matt Noonan to discuss his experience covering the Super Bowl during ‘Media Week,’ while also attempting to answer the question: Is Tom Brady the best quarterback in the National Football League (N.F.L.)?

If you’re a New England Patriots fan or just a die-hard football fan, then this is a must-listen to podcast!

Follow Bird on Twitter at @HaydenHBird and make sure to read his various posts and stories on Boston.com, too.

Noontime Sports is now on SoundCloud, so make sure to become a fan of our page today!