Media for different sports are at a premium now. It doesn’t matter if it is a professional team or a low division college team, the one thing that can make a sports team great is the media coverage behind it. Rich Behan is a senior at Seton Hall University, but he is more than just that. Behan is a part of multiple media outlets on and outside of campus, learning about the sports media industry while also seeing the growth of media coverage at Seton Hall, specifically with the basketball team. I talked to Behan about his career at Seton Hall.
Wilnir Louis: To start things off, can you list the experiences do you have working in sports media, at Seton Hall as well as outside of campus
Rich Behan: At Seton Hall University, I’ve the opportunity to work at the Pirate Sports Network and WSOU 89.5 FM for four years. Outside of SHU, I interned for one semester at SportsNet New York (SNY). Interning at SNY gave me the ability to network and go out in the field and cover events as part of the staff. The best event they sent me to was a Brooklyn Nets game vs. the Charlotte Hornets, where I got to interview Kenny Atkinson pre and post-game, along with DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen.
WL: With working at different places, what have been a couple of the best things that you have covered?
RB: One of the best things I covered was the aforementioned Nets game. But other than that, the 2019 Big East semifinal game between Seton Hall and Marquette is something I’ll never forget. The tension not only on the court but in Madison Square Garden as a whole was quite the experience.
WL: Let’s start to focus in on a specific outlet. Out of all the places you have worked at, which one did you find to be the most fun and why?
RB: The Pirate Sports Network was the most fulfilling part of my time at Seton Hall. When I first joined the PSN, I had no idea what I was even doing and why I was there. They gave me the opportunity to call a game at the end of my freshman year, and I was hooked ever since. There’s no better rush than the one of live production, and calling games and doing shows such as Morning Madness in front of live audiences is a rush that can’t be imitated.
WL: What are some of the differences that you found working at a university and working at a professional company
RB: Even though the PSN is a student-run organization, we still have bosses at the Sports Information Department that look over us and make sure everything runs smoothly, just like at SNY. However, at WSOU, it is completely student-run, which gives us the ability to let our personalities shine just a little bit more.
WL: What advantages did you get from working directly with the athletic department at Seton Hall?
RB: The biggest advantage is access. Access is everything in this business, and working with athletics gives us a streamlined process to the athletes that are hard to get anywhere else. Another advantage is getting to know everyone involved in the athletic department, from anyone in the Sports Information office to [AD] Bryan Felt. Networking inside of Seton Hall is just as important as networking outside of it.
WL: Have you ever had a personal conflict between yourself and a student-athlete that you had to cover?
RB: I pride myself on establishing relationships with student-athletes on and off the field. I’ve found that if you establish a relationship with a student-athlete, they voluntarily tell you more information than you asked for and they’re more comfortable with you on camera. This leads to them giving more in-depth answers when interviewing them about their performance, team practices, etc.
WL: With the Coronavirus outbreak, sports have found themselves in a period that they have never been in before. I mean, Seton Hall was on the verge of completing one of their best seasons in program history before the college basketball essentially shut down. Coming from someone who works in sports media, what was your initial reaction when all of the news broke?
RB: The stretch of 72 hours from Wednesday to Friday was easily the weirdest and most surreal of my life. Sitting in Madison Square Garden covering the first night of the 2020 Big East Tournament, the NBA decided to suspend the 2019-2020 season after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. When that first domino dropped, everyone knew that college basketball would be next. Even though some college basketball tournaments had taken other measures and the Big East hadn’t, until that point we thought everything would be status quo. Everything moved so rapidly in those 72 hours that it’s still taking time to process that the college basketball season has ended, and all of college athletics for that matter.
WL: How do you think leagues and media companies will bounce back from this?
RB: It will take time for the action to get back underway on the field, but sports news never truly stops. Whether it’s talking about the new CBA in the NFL, covering the UFC and WWE while the rest of sports halts, or speculating when Spring Training will get back underway, sports will always be there, even if there is no action on the field.
WL: Just to focus back on you for a little bit, what are you looking to do after graduation?
RB: After graduation, I’d be lucky to continue doing some work with the Big East Digital Network. I’ve freelanced with them for the past two years, including working the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament, women’s basketball games at Walsh Gymnasium, and sideline reporting for women’s soccer. Other than that, my lifelong dream ever since I was a kid was to have a spot on WFAN’s lineup. I used to fall asleep when I was younger listening to the likes of Steve Somers and Howie Rose calling Mets games, and my passion for sports comes from sports talk radio. That would be my dream.
WL: What advice do you have for students in sports media?
RB: My advice for students in sports media is to get involved in as many things as you can without running yourself into the ground. There were points where I found that I was doing too much, and it affected the work I put out there. Be careful not to burn yourself out, but make sure you have enough material to make a reel or portfolio in the process.
WL: Any last thoughts that you want to add?
RB: If you have the chance to work major events such as conference tournaments or media days, take the opportunity. The amount of people you meet at those things are insane, and growing your network is always the goal.