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.