Goodbye to AM 560 the Team

As many in the Columbia Radio market have heard by now, as of this morning AM 560 the Team has decided to go to national syndication from 6 am-3 pm each day instead of having the local programming like Talking Sports,  The Locker Room, and The Barber Shop.  While this news is highly depressing to myself and many listeners, I did think all of you deserve to hear the truth behind the situation.

First, this is not a local decision.  The management team at 560 the Team pulled me in their office at 9:45 this morning to inform me that this is a national decision.   The management team at 560 has been nothing but helpful, friendly, and supportive in my time on the radio.   I feel certain that this is not a decision they wanted to make as all are big fans of local sports programming.   I've seen some on twitter and on message boards today ripping the management at 560 and this is not something that needs to be done.  I was the first to know about this news this morning and I felt like the station's management team were very sympathetic.  Having been in management before, I know that letting employees go is one of the hardest part of the jobs.  

I would like to thank all the management at 560 for their help.  From day one they were all very supportive and let me do my job with little to no interruption.   When there was any criticism, they gave it the proper way and were fantastic in helping me advance my career.  They didn't have to take a chance by putting me on their radio station, but they did and I will forever be grateful for that.  

Unfortunately, corporate America can kill the little guy.  I found this out last year on November 2, 2013.  Prior to getting into radio I was working in finance for one of America's largest insurance companies, Aetna.   I spent 10 years with Aetna and always was on time for work, never called in sick, and did everything asked of me.  I started the job not long after graduating from Newberry College in 2002.  I was the model employee, but when it came time for layoffs, by job like so many others at that company was cut out because someone in corporate in Connecticut decided the company needed to cut numbers.   

I know many of you have lost jobs for similar reasons and there is no worse feeling than going home to your loved ones and telling them you are no longer employed somewhere.  If you are lucky enough to never know this feeling, please trust me it isn't a fun process to go through.

Despite being hurt by losing my job at Aetna I took it as a positive to chase my dream job, hosting a sports radio show.   The very first person I emailed was Teddy Heffner, who sent my email to the management team at 560.  I believe the next person I contacted was someone with WNKT 107.5 who also forwarded my email.   I would like to thank Teddy and 107.5 both for thinking of me for this job. 

Sports radio wasn't something I had never done before.  Prior to actually having a full time radio show I had served as a guest with many different stations in the southeast.   It was a hobby of mine and something that was easy to do with having a job at Aetna with very flexible hours.  Since 2004 I had been on some station, somewhere in the Southeast.  I also have been doing high school football, basketball, and baseball play by play since 2005 as a fun part time job

107.5 the Game, the flagship station for the South Carolina Gamecocks, was the first local station to have me on as a guest.  I started this website in 2008 and it started to get lots of attention in the Southeast.  Benji Norton was the first in this area to notice the website and had me in studio.   From 2008-2013 I was on that station many times and had lots of fun as a guest with guys like Benji, Bob Shields, Tommy Moody, Tim Dailey, Will King, and Brent Johnson.  They helped put my name out their locally and forever I'll be thankfull for that.   

Also, locally Jonathan Reynolds had me on as a weekly high school football correspondent each Monday and Friday in 2013.  Jonathan helped get me on the airwaves on 560 months before I had a fulltime voice.  For this I want Jonathan to know I'm grateful. 

It wasn't until April though that I got my chance to host my own show "The Barber Shop".  It was a true dream to have my own show and while it wasn't perfect, I do think the show was informative and provided good sports talk radio.   The show also provided me to work closely with my friend Justin Cannon as a co-host.

Justin Cannon and I have been friends since my 9th grade year of JV Football.  Justin and I often have kidded that our 1-3 show was basically our daily conversations that we have had for 20 years.    While Justin and I worked at a couple grocery stores together while in high school and college, we had never had the opportunity to do something like this.   Neither one of us could believe that two lower middle class kids that didn't grow up with much had the chance to talk to a large audience everyday.

Neither Justin nor myself grew up in some sort of insanely priced home like many in Chapin, South Carolina have.  The small, lake community town is known for its kids with jet skis that drive $70,000 cars, but that wasn't us.  I was raised in a single family home with a mom working two jobs to help me become the first college graduate in my family's history.   

Working on the "Barber Shop" with Justin has been a real thrill as has it been a thrill to call 10 years worth of high school football games with him from such places as Clemson's Memorial Stadium and South Carolina's Williams Brice Stadium.   Just two guys doing what so many of you do with your friends, watching and talking about sports.

Around the time of the World Cup I could tell our "teammate" Eric Guimares was wanting to watch an American(or maybe it was Brazilian) World Cup game.  Unfortunately, for Eric the game happened while his show was on.  I volunteered to fill in for him an hour prior to my show with Carey Rich.  Carey and I seemed to hit it off naturally from the start.   At this time I had no idea Eric would be leaving 560 to pursue law school, but my time with Carey led to another door opening.

Carey approached me with the chance to co-host the Locker Room a couple days before Eric's last.  What an honor this was.  Here I am, a regular guy from small White Rock, South Carolina working on a show with a former Gamecock Captain in Carey Rich.   Oh, and Carey just happens to be probably the most well connected man in the world of college basketball in this state.  
Many radio guys asked me "Matt how can you do 5 hours of radio", I told them it was easy because when you have a co-host as good as Carey Rich, the day flies by fast.   Carey is such a natural sports radio personality.  No matter what kind of morning I was having, I knew it would be fun and exciting due to Carey's energy he brought to the show.   Carey Rich is a true talent on the airwaves and really was a true star on 560.   Carey was very welcoming from the start and always gave good advice to help along a young guy as myself.

I like many of you have always been a fan of sports radio.  As a kid I first called in Phil Kornblut's show in 1988 to ask Phil a recruiting question about Percy Mayers of Chapin.   Growing up it was guys like Phil, Mick Mixon, and Jim Powell on my radio.  I was unique among most kids because I listened to those guys instead of music stations in town.  

One of the guys I grew up listening to was Teddy Heffner.   Teddy has been someone I've listened to ever since I moved from Newberry back to the Columbia area in 2003.   I, like many of you will no longer know what to do in the mornings without hearing Teddy & Rick joke around in the mornings.  I wish Teddy the best of luck and hope he finds his way on the air quickly because I'll be certain to tune in.  

Most of all I want to thank you the listener.  I hate I didn't get to tell you all goodbye on the air today, but I understand that doing that in radio isn't always a possibility.  Guys like Ronnie in North Augusta, Hollywood, Tiger James, Cocket, Andy, Howard's Rock, Cleveland Man, and so many others made my day.   I appreciate all of you listening and it would be near impossible to name you all.  

Sports Radio is a huge part of my life.   I grew up in what at the time was rural White Rock, South Carolina on a small farm.   I didn't have cable TV until college, so it was either listen to sports or watch Network TV.  I chose listening to sports.   Guys like  Jim Phillips, Bob Fulton, Skip Carey, and even Jim Hawthorne were my entertainment.   As I grew up I still didn't miss a chance to listen to sports on the radio.  I'd carry a radio into my office, subscribe to XM in my truck, and carry around a phone with Iheart stations on nationwide.   It will continue to be a big part of my life.  

Thanks to all of you.  I hope to be on the radio again one day and continue my dream of working in sports media.  If that doesn't happen though, I certainly appreciate all of you who gave me the chance to be at one time the most on air sports radio talk show host in South Carolina.   Feel free to tweet or email me anytime.  My contact is listed below.  

Matt Barber

@dixiefriedsport on twitter