Investing in your Career: How a Leap of Faith Led to a Big Break and an Opportunity at ESPN

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This interview is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration

By: Chase McCaskill, @itsmechase

Jorge Sedano, Radio and TV Talent, ESPN

Often times, a career is shaped by a “big break.” You’ll hear professionals say, “Oh, that was my big break” or “If I can just get that one break.” For Jorge Sedano, his career has been defined by two specific “breaks”: One, very early on in his career and the other involving four titanic letters in today’s sports media.

Sedano’s first big break came while working for small Miami radio network, Clear Channel Broadcasting (now iHeart Media). At the time, there was one event that legitimized radio personalities everywhere — The Super Bowl. Before the overwhelming commercialization of the big game, the Super Bowl’s “Radio Row” was hallowed ground for broadcasters.

Put simply, “You weren’t legit until you were at Radio Row for the Super Bowl.”

Sedano knew the importance of broadcasting from Radio Row, not only for the network, but also his career, and he was willing to do anything to take part. After being told “no” by his network, Sedano took initiative. On his own dime, he booked his flight, hotel, packed his bags and headed to Houston, TX. While broadcasting in Houston from Radio Row, he was noticed by an individual at Fox Sports. Within a matter of days, Sedano’s investment paid dividends as he was offered his first big network opportunity as a weekend host on Fox Sports Radio.

Sedano’s big break at Fox Sports Radio parlayed into other prominent opportunities within the Miami-area market, until one day, his path crossed with an employee from one of the world’s biggest sports networks. Laurie Orlando ran the talent office at ESPN, and in 2009, Sedano’s agent put them in touch. In 2013, after numerous appearances on ESPN programming for Miami-area stories, Sedano received his second big break, an offer to host a radio show for industry giant; Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.

Currently the host of ESPN weekday radio show “Jorge & Izzy,” while also frequenting SportsCenter, Sedano credits much of his success to his initial investment in his career. Sedano was willing to lay his own finances on the line to purse his broadcasting dream.

“Had I not taken the initiative and bullied my way into going to Houston for the Super Bowl, who knows where my career would have gone. I was willing to take on all the expenses because I thought this was an investment in my career. It turned out to be the best investment ever.”

With that being said, Sedano was one of the last waves of broadcasters coming to ESPN through the traditional route; local broadcasting. Since his arrival, the landscape of writers and personalities has developed through more non-traditional pathways.

“There is no real path anymore, everyone has to blaze their own trail.”

The key to successfully entering the industry is finding a niche. With the advancement of the Digital Age, making your voice heard is as easy as ever. The question is — Do you have a voice worth hearing?

“Whatever your niche is, find it and attack it, particularly if it is a niche that hasn’t been covered. Understand that being different isn’t a bad thing. [However], being different is tricky. You can’t be unique just for the sake of being unique, you have to be unique and authentic. ”

With the ease of self-broadcasting growing through platforms such as podcasts, Periscope and Facebook Live, conversely, so has the difficulty of actually having a voice.

“There is more opportunity to get noticed, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily easier because there are so many voices.”

So we asked Sedano, “What qualities are apparent in his most successful colleagues?” His first response: Be relatable.

“Even the guys that people hate, someone relates to them, they are polarizing for a reason. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re talking about your personal life, but the best radio hosts will bring you into their happiness and their angst.”

Next, be fearlessly entertaining.

“You must have a base of knowledge and present it in an entertaining way. Sometimes, you’re still gathering information as you’re on the air and you have to juggle all three of those things. The guys who can do it seamlessly are the best. They are fearless, no moment is too big for them.”

And last is the ability to handle unexpected circumstances on the fly.

“Things can happen while you’re on the air and you’re not always going to be prepared for it. When news breaks, you can really tell who’s good at their job because it wasn’t planned.”

While being able to relate, fearless entertainment and seamless adaptability is crucial, preparation plays an integral role in a broadcasting career. But what does this preparation actually entail? What do broadcasters study? How can you prepare for airwave success? Sometimes, the answer is as simple (or as hard, for those spicy chicken lovers) as Twitter and Chic-fil-a!

“I am always prepping for the radio show. If you go on my Twitter, there’s probably like 6,000 favorites. Does that mean I actually like everything I favorite? No, they are just bookmarks for me to go and look back at later. For example, because I read an article about it today on Twitter, I’ll probably talk about how Chic-fil-a is dropping their Spicy Chicken Biscuit from the menu!”

*Writer calls attention back to article and away from Spicy Chicken depression* Twitter and chicken biscuits aside, broadcasting is a highly competitive arena with ample barriers to entry. Preparation, relate-ability and entertainment are all required to even have a shot in the industry. It was Sedano’s audacious investment in his own career that kick-started his broadcasting adventure. Although no path is identical nor any story the same, one thing holds true:

“Content is still king, if you’re producing content that people are clamoring for, even on a small scale, eventually that scale will grow because people are looking for quality. Even if you’re not brilliant, but you have intelligence and determination, you can work in this industry. There are a lot of guys that are at the top of the business because they out-worked people.”

Be different, be authentic, work hard, and find your niche. What’s holding you back?

Front Office Sports would like to thank Jorge for taking the time to speak with us. You can follow him on Twitter here or connect with him on LinkedIn here.

This interview was presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration