Becoming a sports talk radio host isn’t easy. It’s one of the most competitive fields out there. It takes time, dedication, and at times, an empty wallet. After college, most have to come to the decision of whether they want to move to an Idaho, Montana, Iowa, or some other small market and a completely different lifestyle.
After graduating from Syracuse, that was something heavily on the mind of Damon Amendolara, host of The D.A. Show on CBS Sports Radio. While Syracuse is a premiere communications school, that would not automatically equal a major market job right after graduating. In fact, it rarely does.
“My first day at Syracuse, they said if you think you’re walking into NBC in New York to get a job, you’re sorely mistaken,” D.A. told me on The Jake Brown Show on Play.it. “Get out of the business right now and get ready to make money in a place that you have never heard of. So I was ready for that.”
He would send out demo tapes for both TV and radio to program directors around the nation. Whether it was Cedar Bluffs, Lincoln, El Paso, he was turned down. He graduated in May 2001, but nearly a year later, he finally got his chance.
“I got shot down everywhere and I was pretty down on myself,” said Amendolara. “I didn’t get the job in Fort Myers, Florida until March of 2002. It was almost a year of living at home, my parents driving me crazy, me driving them crazy. I went down to Fort Myers on a whim.”
The opportunity wasn’t much, but enough to have him pack his bags for Florida. He was only guaranteed 10 hours a week by his colleague in Rochester, who moved down there to do the morning show, and he would be the pre and post game host for the Arena Football League’s Florida Firecats….the minor league team. The long drive down to Florida began and the beginning of the sports radio journey took off…and it would begin living on his colleague’s couch.
“I got to Florida and I said ‘Ok, I’m staying on your couch now.'”
It was an ESPN Radio affiliate in Fort Myers. He would eventually become the assistant program director at 22 years old, making $18,500 in 2002.
“I was technically qualified for food stamps.”
Many in the industry fear a move to a smaller market. D.A. didn’t.
“I think going to a small market is scarier in idea or concept than it is in reality,” said D.A. “My idea was I’ll get 10 hours at the radio station and work 30-40 hours at the mall. Luckily, I didn’t have to do that. I was able to get a lot of part-time work early with the radio station and they turned it into a full-time job. I was also single and 22 years old and living in Florida. Single and $20K in Florida, you can make work.”
From there the rest is history. D.A. would go from Fort Myers to Kansas City. Once he established himself there, he found his way to WQAM in Miami and then the new 98.5 Sports Hub in Boston. When a national spot opened up at the new CBS Sports Radio, D.A. could not turn it down. Actually, when he got the call from CBS Sports Radio’s program director, he had an ear infection and was at the ear, nose, and throat specialist.
“Before you flush my ear, I need to take this phone call. They kicked the idea around of the overnight show…the story of my life…I don’t care what it is, I’m in. I really wanted to get back to my family.”
Listen to the rest of the interview above or by searching The Jake Brown Show on iTunes and Spotify to hear the rest of the interview and the show, including a chat with The D.A. Show producer Shaun Morash and update anchor Andrew Bogusch.
(D.A. interview begins at the 7 minute mark of the show)
Jake Brown is the Digital Program Manager at CBS Sports Radio and a columnist for CBS Sports Radio, CBS Local Sports, and CBS Local. You can catch him daily on The Jake Brown Show on CBS Radio’s Play.it, iTunes, and Spotify. It’s a weekly sports show mixed in with a bit of entertainment and multiple interviews as well every week. Jake lives in Queens and being a Mets fan is finally paying off.