Philly Sports Radio host Joe DeCamara emphasized the importance of competitiveness and balance during his discussion at this week’s “Pizza With the Pros.”
Co-host of the midday show on Sports Radio 94.1 WIP, DeCamara spoke with students on the mentality and process that allowed him to reach the heights of success he has in sports media. Being a lifetime Philadelphia sports fan, DeCamara forged his path to a 94.1 WIP career at an early age.
“It gave me a focus. It gave me a North Star,” DeCamara said about his declassified letter sent to WIP Program Director, Tom Bigby, in 2002.
The letter was projected for students in attendance and used as an example for DeCamara’s competitive balance. Although he worked his way into WBCB Levittown, a radio station owned by Eagles legend Merril Reese, he was aware of the unreasonable confidence displayed in the letter. With a notoriously intense figure like Bigby, that could be a dangerous game.
“I wanted to get this guy’s attention,” DeCamara said, recognizing the holes in his résumé, he pointed to a line stating, “I am cognizant of the fact I have a lot to learn.”
In order to garner Bigby’s attention, DeCamara headed the letter with his name printed three times in bold, then emphasized the importance of Bigby knowing that name. Although a brash request for a Program Director, DeCamara believed it was the identification of his lack of experience that achieved a “competitive balance” in the letter. While not asking for a position at WIP at the time, eliciting a positive response from Bigby would solidify DeCamara’s professional drive at the onset of his sports media career.
Bigby’s eventual response to the letter proved that if he was destined for a sports radio career, “[DeCamara] would not have to find him, he would find [DeCamara].”
Having the ability to understand one’s weaknesses was emphasized to students looking to make a similar impression on sports media executives. DeCamara discussed the importance of going out of your way to open new opportunities. Without sending the letter to Bigby in 2002, it is unknown whether or not the door for a WIP position would open for DeCamara. After receiving the short yet insightful response from Bigby, he knew the steps needed to be taken in order to fulfill his career aspirations.
“It was up to me on how I could figure out where I fit in,” DeCamara said.
The seasoned radio show host highlighted to students the vital skill of learning how to take “no” as inspiration, instead of a deterrent. This mindset helped DeCamara grab positions at both ESPN, and 97.5 the Fanatic before landing at WIP in 2016.
He cited his time as a weekend show host for ESPN, and how even being a part-time employee of the sports media mega-company gave him the confidence to believe “I think I can hang with this group.” His boost ultimately sprung DeCamara from one Philly sports radio station to 94.1 WIP.
Intelligence and competitiveness are the two skills DeCamara cited as most essential for upcoming broadcasters. Noting that intelligence is relative to the topic at hand, not referring to overall knowledge, a radio host should always know their information, and if not, know where to get it in the most effective manner. DeCamara pointed to his time as a producer at WBCB as the most helpful when it comes to being prepared for broadcasts.
“You have to learn by osmosis,” DeCamara said. As a producer, he was able to soak in different lessons and minutiae that proved beneficial during his time on the radio.
Not only did it prove fruitful on air, the interpersonal connections DeCamara made as a producer aided him in finding new opportunities down the road. He emphasized to students that understanding the off-air processes is just as important as the on-air experience.
Throughout his tenure at WIP, DeCamara and midday show co-host John Ritchie have had to work quickly to get more creative segments on the show. That was until they discovered untapped potential. “Beat The Hammer” is a trivia segment where callers can try and answer a difficult question before DeCamara and his superhero-esque memory.
“I generally win,” DeCamara said, quoting his 87% win percentage and the modest fact that he can recall his location during the past 37 Super Bowls.
While having a depth of knowledge ranging from sports to history, he prides himself on the balance he has found recently during his time at WIP. He shared with students that maintaining an equilibrium between fandom, objectivity and honesty made him a better on-air presence. Understanding the ebbs and flows of one’s bias, and beliefs are crucial to hosting radio. Without this balance, DeCamara believed he would not have retained his credibility in an intense sports market such as Philadelphia.
Pizza With the Pros returns next week for an NFL Films night with three Rowan graduates.
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