Sunday, April 25, 2010

THE FDH LOUNGE hits 100 episodes

By Rick Morris

It’s pretty much a cliché to describe something as a long, winding path whenever a milestone gets hit, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not so. As THE FDH LOUNGE (Wednesdays, 7-10 PM EDT on reaches its 100th episode this week, it’s worth reflecting on how the show where “nothing is off-topic” came into existence.

In 2006, had just peeled, amiably, off of We were focused on the aspects of fantasy sports that we wanted to cover that were different from what our friend Pat Luft at Drafthelp was doing, but our overall efforts were admittedly somewhat unfocused in retrospect. We were producing programming for the Sports Talk Network in many different areas, not just fantasy sports, but we hadn’t really begun to define ourselves as anything more than a fantasy sports company.

Later in that year, my Senior Editor Jason Jones and I began talking about applying our love of breaking down fantasy sports to all areas of life – meaning that we would actually go well beyond sports altogether on regular occasions. A fateful car ride to watch our Ohio University Bobcats football team that October led my old friend Chris Galloway and I to talk about the concept further – and when THE FDH LOUNGE was put into development in short order, Chris was one of the first on board.

In trying to assemble the perfect ensemble, we looked at our friends who had the interest level and speaking ability on a wide array of subjects. Jason and I convened the now-legendary “Red Robin lunch meeting” that December, weeks before we first hit the air – and the detailed schematic that he passed around the table wowed those who were there. They began to see the possibilities about how we could apply this broad ambition on a show-by-show basis and tie it together through ambitious production. Our initial crew of “FDH Lounge Dignitaries” included some really gifted people, including Chris (a very inventive political consultant), FDH Entertainment Editor Samantha Jones, longtime FDH baseball contributor Tim Foust and longtime FDH fantasy sports contributor Nathan Noy. Initially, many of these smart and interesting people only knew each other through me, so it was interesting to watch the chemistry form during those early shows right before my eyes.

Jason, by far the most gifted pro I have ever known in terms of creating imaging and audio production, created many interesting commercials that ran on The Sports Talk Network that were collages of sound bites from famous people from all walks of life. They answered no questions as to what we were about, preferring instead to raise them about this new show that was going to debut on January 14, 2007.

We hit the ground running, establishing the Lounge as a second division of our company along with the fantasy side. For “The Great American Radio Show on Internet TV,” the challenge of living up to our vow to talk sports, politics, TV, music, movies, geopolitics, pop culture, fun web stuff, sports entertainment and all areas in between was as fun to live up to as it was audacious to put out there in the first place.

Inevitably, the brand grew to encompass many projects that served as a multi-platform complement to reinforce the core identity, including a home web page, a Multimedia Magazine, an eBook looking back at the first decade of the new century and looking ahead to the second, an FDH Lounge Ultimate Links page (now closing in on 2,000 links in 52 well-organized categories) and beachheads on Facebook and Twitter. But as always, the show is the sun around which these planets revolve.

The show has evolved through many issues, such as its move from a Sunday night every-other-week program to its present every-Wednesday timeslot at the end of 2008, the move of Jason and Samantha to Denver in late 2007 that created adjustments for how we were best able to incorporate them and the addition of many new Dignitaries. By far, the biggest positive development came in that first year when we brought on board Creative Consultant and Senior Producer Steve Cirvello.

A well-rounded media professional based out of the Big Apple, our new “FDH New York Bureau” actually sought us out and soon thrust himself into the role of guest booker and segment creator with amazing gusto. This “black-belt networker” is boundless in his faith in the Lounge and absolutely fearless in how he goes about approaching potential guests – from the less famous to the wildly-famous – on our behalf. Here’s just a few of the noteworthy names he has corralled for us since ’07 (many of whom have been on more than once): Kenny Albert, Bob Barker, Brutus Beefcake, Chip Caray, The San Diego Chicken, Liz Claman, Jim Cornette, JJ Dillon, Bret "Hitman" Hart, Missy Hyatt, Don Jamieson, Al Jaffee, Dhani Jones, Tommy Lasorda, Will Leitch, Ben Lyons, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, John Oates, The Phillie Phanatic, Jeremy Schaap, Jayson Stark, George "The Animal" Steele, Luscious Johnny Valiant and Ziggy cartoonist Tom Wilson. Steve’s networking also created the basis for The 21st Century Media Alliance, a hothouse for collaboration among many other ambitious and growing New Media outlets. Key among those entities are Sportsology and Card Corner Club; Russ Cohen, who is very instrumental in both of them, has become a very good friend of ours, collaborating on podcasts with us and attaining the status as the first outsider to come into the fold as a full-fledged Dignitary.

Along the way, we have been fortunate to draw the attention of some brilliant and successful professionals who have spread the word about all aspects of The FDH Lounge. As such, it is now overwhelmingly likely that some or all of our platforms will experience substantial growth in distribution in the time between our 100th and 200th’s episodes. When that happens, at least I will have this column and my wrapup in particular as a template to properly express my appreciation for everyone involved.

As the Managing Partner of FDH Enterprises, LLC, I cannot ever properly thank everyone involved in the growth process of The FDH Lounge. So many talented people, not least of which my partners, have put their faith and trust in me to lead us to great places because they believe so strongly in the Lounge, which I take very personally because it has really almost become an extension of myself. Their inevitable moment of vindication will be one of the greatest moments of my life. Additionally, the nurturing that my abilities received along the way from my parents and my brother has already been vindicated, because this Lounge project has become the kind of creative outlet that I was subconsciously searching for during a great part of my life. I appreciate everything that everyone has done directly and indirectly for The FDH Lounge and for me along the way and along with all of these people, I can’t wait to see how everything unfolds past this point.

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