Paul Finebaum has come a long way in his career.
By now, the 61-year-old is a staple on SEC Network and ESPN. He has evolved from a popular regional radio host based in Birmingham, Ala., to a true national figure. He’s entertaining, enlightening and a must-watch figure whenever he opines about the SEC.
But five years ago, Finebaum was in a much different place.
In an interesting piece by Sports Business Daily correspondent Erik Spanberg, it’s revealed that Finebaum took a trip to New York City in summer 2012 to seek advice from a talent agent on how he could become a more national brand.
As reported by Spanberg, the agent agreed to meet with Finebaum as a favor for then-SEC commissioner Mike Slive. But the talk lasted just 15 minutes. Even though SiriusXM Radio had picked up Finebaum’s call-in radio show, the agent didn’t think the act had much appeal beyond Alabama and the southeastern United States.
Here’s more from the story:
Finebaum, dejected, walked to Central Park and contemplated the likelihood that he couldn’t go beyond his core Alabama audience. He called his wife while standing, shell-shocked, in New York.
“I’ve had a good career,” Finebaum told his wife, “but there’s nowhere left to go.”
That’s compelling stuff, and it’s a great behind-the-scenes look at a major moment in Finebaum’s professional life. He went on to receive recognition from a profile piece in the New Yorker, which gained the interest of ESPN executive John Skipper. Soon after, Finebaum joined the network. The rest, they say, is history.
Turns out, there were plenty of places left for Finebaum to go.