Today we’d like to introduce you to Blake Bush.
Hi Blake, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
This journey started days before I had shipped off to Iraq back in 2008. We had been released on a four-day leave to see family before we flew off to Camp Bucca Iraq. I was with my mother, grandmother, and aunt at Opry Mills Mall walking around in my uniform. Like any deployment, there is never certainty in coming home and I wanted those moments to be with my family. As we walked around Bass Pro Shop at Opry Mills a gentleman kept following and staring at us. It was the biggest reason I hated walking around in uniform, too much undue attention. He approached us and introduced himself as Dan Patrick and thanked me for my service. He asked a few questions which led to us talking about me deploying in a few days. After he walked away my Aunt Debbie lost her mind. She screamed, “do you know who that was?” I was oblivious to who Dan Patrick was at that time and she informed me that he had a simulcast on tv and radio. He had also played in the movie Super Troopers.
While I was deployed you filled your downtime with lifting weights and browsing the internet aimlessly. I started keeping up with The Dan Patrick Show so I could stay up to date on what was going on in sports back in the states. It turned into a place where I could escape the realities of war.
After I had come home from Iraq, I had found him on a local radio station in Nashville and I was hooked to sports radio. They had local shows and I fell in love with what sports radio was. A group of people hung out and talked about what was going on with local and national media. At that time, I was working security at the Governor’s Mansion, the Cordell Hull State Office Building, War Memorial Building, and Tennessee Lottery Headquarters buildings in Nashville.
As the years progressed, I had a job after job finding it impossible to fill the void the Army had left in my life. Depression and PTSD were really starting to take a toll. I felt that my life was supposed to be more than just a 9-5. Every day I looked forward to the drive-in listening to The Wake-Up Zone, taking lunch with The Midday 180, and riding home with 3HL. I would call in and talk about what was going on locally and give my reaction to what they were talking about. It was my escape from the war that was always in my head. I hated the life I was existing in more and more every day and dreamed of a life surrounded by sports and people that love sports as passionately as them.
I continued to hit one dead end after another. I couldn’t make sense of this new civilian life I was forced to live. I was an unlucky casualty of the military downsizing. When I went to reenlist, I was informed that my medical file had been flagged, and was unable to reenlist. At that point, I was trying to go on active duty after ten years as an Army Reservist. I didn’t have a plan B… Job after job I was struggling to navigate life as a civilian. The camaraderie that I cherished so much in the Army didn’t exist anywhere. But when I turned on the radio, I would hear my favorite sportscasters cracking up, and hanging out and it would bring so much enjoyment.
I got bold and reached out to David Reed from the Midday 180 just to figure out the path he took to get to where he was at in radio. I asked “what degrees, what experience were radio stations looking for?” and he actually responded. He mentioned the path he took through college. All I could think about at that time was Billy Madison and how I wouldn’t survive going to college at my age. Throughout the conversation, he mentioned that a lot of people get in the door doing sales for radio stations.
I wind up moving to Florida with my wife and son. On St Patrick’s Day 2017 I was t-boned going home. I was turning on my road when a kid blew through a red light hitting me on the passenger side of my vehicle spinning me three times through the intersection. In that wreck I tore my ACL, my meniscus was detached from the bone, and I had broken my L5 vertebrae resulting in 2 herniated discs. With a stroke of luck, I was able to get my legs back under me and was able to manage the back pain enough to make a living. That was short-lived… On the way to lunch, I was rear-ended at a red light resulting in me breaking my C4 vertebrae, an injured Anterior Longitudinal Ligament, and added bulged discs at my L2 and L3 to accompany the herniated discs from the previous wreck. Also, x-rays revealed that Osteoarthritis had set in on my L2, L3, L4, L5, and S1 vertebras.
During this time, I have a pregnant wife, and a son, and had just bought a house. I couldn’t afford to take time off to heal. As so0n as I could stand and endure the pain, I went back to work. My son was watching, I couldn’t give up. My wife was on bed rest with the current pregnancy, but I couldn’t give up. Our future was on the line, I couldn’t give up.
The employer I had at that time made every accommodation he could for me. Took me out from under the hood to work the back counter. He saw me crippled, driving 3 hours a day round trip. I believe out of mercy to me he asked if there was anything closer to home, I could be doing. My days felt numbered… Just when I felt I had finally got things figured out in life I was about to lose it all.
For the following days and weeks, I stayed on Indeed trying to find something that I could physically do at this point. My days as a mechanic were over. I spent a lot of sleepless nights scanning job postings. Then COVID happened. I should’ve been named Murphy, right? It was about 4:30 in the morning and I was on my phone scrolling through Facebook and I ran across a job posting for a sales position for a radio station in Wauchula. Thinking back to my conversations with David Reed I called right then! I wasn’t going to give anyone an opportunity to call first.
As the phone rings, I realize it’s early and no one is at the station to answer the call. As I go to hang up, I hear the phone answer. It’s fumbled around for a second and a sleepy voice comes on and says “hello”. At this point, I think I had dialed the wrong number and started apologizing stating I was calling about the job posting. All I hear is “Are you expletive kidding me! He put my number on that?!” This couldn’t be going any worse. He was nice enough to explain the application process and explained the position. We had a small conversation and I had made him laugh a few times as this progressed. By nine he had called me back and asked if I wanted to come in to interview for the position.
When I arrived, I literally almost drove off before I even stepped out of the car. I told myself then, that no one is ever going to give me my opportunity. It had to be my opportunity. I had always been the opportunity I had been waiting for. So, I went in terrified.
We talked about the specifics of the position and while talking I laid it on thick and kept him laughing. There was another gentleman in the studio doing his show. While the music played, he would poke his head in and listen. At this point, I was able to make them both laugh and the question was asked if I would ever consider coming on the radio. I told him that was exactly why I’m sitting here. I’ll gladly come in the door and do sales while I learn how all of this works.
At this point, I reach back out to David Reed and thanked him for the advice and how all of this had come together, and like the true gentleman he is, he continued to give me advice. I would’ve never known where to get started without him.
I was given an opportunity to do a live show for a local fair. It was my first opportunity to be on the radio. My nerves were shot walking in but it was so much fun. Glenn The Outlaw was there and we had a lot of fun interviewing guests and vendors. We had great banter back and forth and it went so smooth. Shortly afterward I was asked if I wanted to do another show. Wanting to build on this momentum I jumped all over it. Unfortunately, that was a disaster! No one wanted to talk on the radio, and I was absolutely terrible on the mic that day.
As summer rolled around, I continued to bug John about coming on the morning show with him. He finally gave me a shot to come on and JJ and Blake in the Mornings became a thing. We would talk pop culture and poke jabs at things going on in politics and the news. We found a lot of things to laugh about in sports so it became a topic I’d bring up during the shows. I’m a comedian at heart. I love to laugh and it’s normally at someone/something’s expense.
At this point, I decided to shoot my shot. I asked about creating a sports show and if they would let me put it on air. After figuring out the day and time slot I got to work on the name of the show. I am a huge football fan, and I wanted to center the show around football. With most games being played on Sundays, a show on Monday would be a recap of that weekend’s events. From there, The Weekend Recap was born.
As mentioned, the show is centered around football. Ratings agree that football is king in sports radio. At least our market reflects that. I cover what the national media calls small markets. Markets like Miami, and Tampa Bay. As the show went on, we noticed we had a good following in Tennessee, where I’m originally from, so we started to include the teams local to those listeners. From there people started streaming our show from Miami to Memphis. During the NFL Playoffs, we had people tuning in in Cincinnati, Kansas City, and even LA.
We cover all the leagues at this point. NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR, NCAA Football/Basketball, and USFL. Our station carries all of the Florida Gators Football/Basketball games as well as all of the NASCAR Cup Series races. I am currently working with Athletic Directors in Polk, Highlands, and Hardee Counties to put together a show on Fridays for the high school student-athletes in our market. We are going to have recorders in the booth with the play-by-play announcers to capture the sounds of the games. The crowd, the hits, the buzzer-beaters, the squeak of the shoes on the gym floors, the crack of the bats, and the “oh my God” reactions from the game. We also will have a player of the week voted on every week and they will be presented a WWE style belt that says player of the week to allow them to walk around all week to show off.
This summer the goal is to get our correspondents reporting on the teams in Miami, Tampa, and Nashville. We should be able to get media passes with the lifted COVID regulations and actually bring you content and interviews during training camp and throughout the season. This show got bigger than I can manage by myself at this point. I am actively adding Sales Personnel, Cohosts, and Correspondents to help cover the teams and create content.
The show is just getting started and it’s moving fast. We will be your number 1 source for sports here in the southeast.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not at all! All of this began right as COVID kicked off. Outside Sales in a pandemic is no Bueno. I broke a lot of bones and had a lot of sleepless nights up to this point. Fear of failing always looms over your head. Being the opportunity, you’ve been waiting for takes a lot of convincing yourself.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am the Creator, Host, and Director of Marketing and Sales for The Weekend Recap on Real County 102.1 The Outlaw and WAUC 1310AM Wauchula. I am a comedian at heart and take a comedic approach to sports news. I’m not ESPN, FOX Sports, or any of the other three-letter networks. I do things my way, I’m not your suit and tie sports analyst. If there is a line to not cross, I am guaranteed to trip over it and hit the floor like a suction cup. The difference between me and them is that I will say what everyone else is thinking. And it’s going to be funny and you’re going to laugh and say, “he isn’t lying”
Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
I have a quick wit. I have always loved to entertain. When the world is laughing around you and everyone is having a good time, the bad times don’t have a voice. I’ve loved sports my whole life. I’ve always wanted to be the best at everything I’ve ever done.
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