Interview With Ben Maller from BenMaller.com and Fox Sports Radio
Ben Maller is the founder of the stellar sports gossip site Benmaller.com which can be found on Foxsports.com. In addition to creating and compiling content for the website, Ben is an accomplished radio host who is nationally syndicated by the Fox Sports Radio Network. Ben took a few minutes to answer some questions about the development of his career, and his thoughts on the business.
1. Can you tell me about your radio career, from where and how you started out, to the point of becoming nationally syndicated?
I started out getting coffee for Lee Hacksaw Hamilton at XTRA 690 in San Diego. I would commute from Orange County to San Diego (168 miles roundtrip) several times a week to learn about the radio biz. XTRA gave me a shot at a very young age allowing me to cover high school football games and run the board for San Diego State basketball. I ended up as their LA reporter.
When Clear Channel won the Dodgers radio contract I was transferred to the LA version of XTRA (KXTA 1150). PD Beau Bennett gave me my first break as a weekday talk host. He believed I had the ability to be a big star. I ended up working at KXTA till 2001 when they had a Florida Marlins like firesale.
Fox Sports Radio was just beginning in 2000 when I started working there on weekends. After I was whacked by KXTA, PD Tom Lee gave me a bigger roll at FSR.
2. What about the website, how did that whole thing start?
Being let go from my gig in LA, I had a lot of free time on my hands. My family (mom and brother) encouraged me to play around with the site to help pass time until I found another radio job. The site grew into a sports rumor/gossip link site after a short period of time, but I never imagined it would turn into a full-time job and have millions of readers.
3. You put a ton of time and effort into the site for years without getting anything back in return. What kept you motivated to do it for so long and did you ever expect it to become profitable?
Positive feedback from my colleagues in the media kept pushing me forward. I’ve heard from all the big names at my rivals at ESPN and Sporting News Radio. Well-known sports columnists, national TV personalities, and even some Hollywood types have reached out to me. It’s amazing what word of mouth advertising can do on the web. That’s one of the many great thing about the Internet.
I never expected to make any real money with this and only in the past couple of years have I made a few bucks.
4. When I talk to people they often cannot believe that benmaller.com is a one-man-operation. How are you able to cover so much ground all by yourself?
I take great pride in this. There are some great sports blogs out there like SportsByBrooks and Deadspin that I think do a really good job. Those sites have multiple people helping to add content from around the web. As far as I know I’m the only major sports site that is a one-man-operation.
At least once a week I hear from a publicist who asks to speak with someone on my staff. I get a kick out of that.
Over the years I’ve developed a super secret system to put the site together but it still takes 7 to 8 hours a day. Someday I’ll have to hire someone to help, but nothing is planned.
5. When you first started out doing the site did you envision becoming the “Drudge of the sports world” as people now call you?
I loved the internet but never planned to make this a full-time job. That’s just how things worked out. I’ve got a great deal of respect for Matt Drudge. If I have 1% of the success Drudge has had I’d be thrilled!
6. Do you ever find it that people know you for either your reputation as a radio host, or as an internet mogul, but not both?
Internet hands down. The readership of the site has exploded the last couple of years. I’ve been able to turn some of my readers into fans of the program. I take great pride in the radio show. I feel like we put a great product out 99% of the time. 1% of the time the show sucks, but hopefully that’s only when nobody is listening.
7. What about your radio talk show style, how would you characterize yourself as a radio host?
I don’t take myself or the athletes I talk about too seriously. I’ve been called a cynical, sarcastic jackass. I love my teams and enjoy watching sports, but I like to kid around and have a good time. Some hosts seem to think they are changing the world with a sports opinion. Everyone has a different style but mine would tend to fall on the sarcastic side with lots of hot sports opinions.
8. Who are some of your favorite teams and players, and why?
I’ve been a Dodgers and Clippers fan since I was a kid. I also follow the USC Trojans and Oklahoma Sooners football programs. As for players, I enjoy watching Tom Brady, Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Ricky Williams, Adam Dunn, Juan Pierre and a few others.
9. It’s interesting that you named T.O. as one of your favorite players, even though many people hate him. Why is that?
Terrell Owens is good for the sports talk radio business. How boring would life be if everyone in the NFL were like Colts WR Marvin Harrison? I enjoy guys who spice things up. Now at the same time, that doesn’t mean these guys aren’t knuckleheads and don’t need to be torn apart on radio from time-to-time. But T.O. can play as long as he wants in my book.
10. Who are some of your favorite/biggest influences as talk show hosts, and why?
Los Angeles radio legend Jim Healy inspired me as a kid to get into the radio biz. He did a half hour show with soundbites and news each day at 5:30pm, and it was great radio everyday — a real genius. I’ve also learned from working alongside solid pros like Lee Hacksaw Hamilton, Tony Bruno and Joe McDonnell.
11. Your site is featured on Foxsports.com, and you’re nationally syndicated on Fox Sports Radio’s network. Would you say you’ve achieved your goals or do you feel you have more to conquer?
It’s a nice start, and certainly more than I expected at this point in my career. I have many more things I’d like to accomplish. I’ll never be able to say I’ve achieved all my goals. What fun would that be? I always want a new challenge.