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South Florida's Best and Brightest
Originally published: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 (12:00:01 a.m. ET)

Dan LeBatard
Sports talk radio personality and part-time columnist/features writer Dan LeBatard. (Photo courtesy of Katie Winter/ABM).
Dan LeBatard
His critically acclaimed, four-hour daily talk show ostensibly is about sports, but sports merely serve as a backdrop for the topics of discussion. Never any examination, analysis, or dissection of the Xs and Os. Nary a question about strategy, matchups, or God-forbid, power ratings. For he, better than any singular member of his audience, knows, just as well as he knows his own name, that those things are components of woeful and insufferably bad programming, and would put him in the very company of every other dullard who does sports talk radio. Dan LeBatard co-hosts, along with Jon "Stugotz" Weiner, the nation's funniest sports talk radio program, because, above all else, of his acute and sadly unique awareness that sports are, well, just sports. LeBatard, a 1990 graduate of the University of Miami, also is a regular "Pardon The Interruption" fill-in on ESPN and writes occasionally for the Miami Herald. He can be heard weekdays on 790 AM (The Ticket) from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Q: What advice would you give youngsters who want to embark on a career in your industry?
A: Be curious. Question. Read. And listen. There's a lot of different advice, depending on what it is that you want to go into. I'm a newspaper guy, first, so what I'd say to do is ask a lot of questions in order to inform yourself, attack conventional wisdoms, and be different. Take what you do seriously, but don't take yourself seriously.

Q: Of what professional accomplishment are you most proud?
A: That I've arrived in a place where I have professional freedom. Being able to make a living doing what I love, enjoying myself, and being able to take care of my family. Those things aren't awards and they're not plaques. What I do is so ridiculous and so silly, that I try not to have very much ego about it. That's the thing that makes me feel warmest.

Q: What's the most challenging part about your work?
A: At this point, I don't view what I do as terribly challenging. I've got such a professional freedom to pick and choose what it is that I want to do. What ends up being a challenge is just writing. The famous quote about writing is, 'It's easy as cutting your wrists.' People usually don't enjoy writing; they enjoy having written. Radio and television feed the vanities. It's sugar and it's superficialities. Writing is always the hardest. It's the hardest thing for me.

Q: What did you envision doing for a living when you were growing up?
A: I always enjoyed words and I always enjoyed communicating. I always enjoyed writing. The earliest photos are of me sitting at a typewriter, playing around with a typewriter. This is what I've wanted to do from a very young age. My mother tells the stories of me poring over ridiculous things like the Bill James Baseball Abstract when I was seven or eight years old. It was the biggest connection between my grandparents and me because they loved baseball. And sports was the biggest connection between my father and me. I remember my dad always coming home from work, complaining about his boss or the day he had, and he would ask me at the dinner table, 'Well, what do you want to do for a living?' I said that I wanted to make a lot of money doing something I enjoy, and his response was, 'Yeah, well good luck with that.' He didn't think it was possible.

Q: In ten years' time, I will be _________________.
A: I'll be really happy, that's for sure. Laughing, if you want one word.

Q: Who are/were your professional role models and why?
A: Gosh, I admired so many writers growing up, both inside and outside of sports. But I cannot go beyond my mother and father. My mother used to ask my father when she was pregnant, 'What do you want, a boy or a girl?' His response was that he didn't care, he just wanted me to have my mother's intelligence and his willpower. Everything I do comes from an immigrant perspective. I could name 100 writers for you, but they didn't shape me a fraction of the way my parents did.

Q: If you could do anything else in the world for a living, what would it be?
A: I would probably be a therapist. I am fascinated by human behavior and by the human condition.

Q: What's the best part about your job?
A: It's not work. What is an escape and a hobby for other people is what I get up and do. It's been 20 years since I've had that 'Sunday night' feeling that people have when they have to get up on Monday mornings.

Q: What's the worst part about your job?
A: Once upon a time, I would have said flights, the travel, but I don't have to do that any more. I don't even consider what I do for a living to be work.

Q: What's the one most important thing that experience has taught you?
A: Make mistakes and learn from them. There is no such thing as experience without failure. The only way to be different, and to find your voice, and to learn, is to fail.

Q: What's the best career advice anyone has imparted on you?
A: [Pardon The Interruption co-host] Tony Kornheiser told me a long time ago to do radio. He said it will link me to my community in a different way. That it will be more intimate, more fun. It's not as lonely as writing. Writing is just you and a computer, and that it's not communal in any way. Radio is much more intimate. He thought I would have a knack for it.

Q: What one thing would you do different/better if you could start it all over again?
A: I feel like I might be hackneyed in saying this, but I don't see the purpose in regret. The two things that I think hamper people the most are: living in the past with regret or living in the future with fear. There's no point in regretting anything that's happened to me in the past that I've learned from.

Q: What's your favorite South Florida charity?
A: It feels somewhat less-charitable to announce that you are charitable. But you aren't printing this or anything, right? What do you mean that's not a charity? Betting on the Cavs +12 all year doesn't go to sick kids?
Archive: 20 Good Questions
Best & Brightest: June 2011