After the official announcement, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic addressed the split on their show. Greenberg and Golic have been together on ESPN radio since 1998. USA TODAY Sports
Jason Fitz doesn’t change jobs; he changes careers. Dramatic, go-for-broke, mortgage-on-the-line career changes.
In his 19 years in Nashville, Fitz has been a promising country music artist signed to a major label record deal as part of a boy band vocal group. He’s been a licensed financial broker who rose up to a six-figure salary from an hourly job in the mail room. He’s been an acclaimed musician and band leader supporting headlining artists playing late-night talk shows and stadiums.
And in his latest reinvention, Fitz is a sports talk show host who has burst into Nashville’s sports media spotlight with the bravado of one of his famous fiddle solos. Fitz, 38, is the co-host of “Braden and Fitz,” the new weekday morning drive time show on 102.5 The Game. He also hosts a weekly college football television show for ESPNU.
Not bad for a guy who walked away from a steady job opportunity with the Band Perry — the kind of gig musicians in Music City work entire careers to get — to start his own sports podcast.
If Clay Travis is the devil on one shoulder of the Nashville sports fan, then Fitz is the angel on the other shoulder. He’s brash, articulate and opinionated like Travis, but Fitz is friendlier, softer and less prone to controversial hot takes.
So how did a professional fiddle player and band leader become a rising star in the sports media world? Fitz said that through his classical violin training at Julliard School in New York, and then with some of the best instructors in the country, his approach to music became very emotionless. Fitz would take stage to play Letterman with the Band Perry and instead of going out to have a good time, he would approach the gig merely not wanting to screw up.
That sort of methodical approach took the joy out of music for him. He came home to his wife after a particularly busy year on the road with the Band Perry — he was away from home 300 days that year — and knew it was time for a change.
“I sat down with my wife and said, ‘I realized something,’ ” Fitz said. “ ‘I go out every night and I execute a show. I trigger the show, I call the show, I call the counts, play five instruments. I do my job efficiently. But I don’t get any rush.’ ”
Just like she had done when he walked away from a lucrative job at a financial firm to become a touring musician, Fitz’s wife, Sunny Fitz, challenged him to do what makes him happy. Sunny asked him about what made him passionate, and Fitz said sports.
So Fitz started a podcast and posted his initial 30-minute episode to his Facebook page, which got about 100 listeners. This is where his background as a classically trained musician served Fitz well.
Fitz honed his craft. Like a road musician hunting for the next gig, Fitz networked. He befriended sports media personalities and journalists and boldly set up meetings with perfect strangers like longtime Houston pro football writer John McClain. The podcast picked up steam and grew into an opportunity with SiriusXM, which grew into an opportunity to host a college football show for ESPNU each week.
“The good thing about it is I’m a tireless worker. So 20-hour days are a part of my life,” Fitz said.
Earlier this year, Cromwell Media Group called to offer Fitz the opportunity to co-host a show with local broadcaster Braden Gall.
Gall earned his way up the broadcasting ranks having worked as well at SiriusXM and for Athlon Sports. A tireless worker like Fitz, Gall also has been identified as a rising sports media star, particularly in the area of college football. Fitz calls Gall the most researched and knowledgeable college football analyst he’s ever worked with.
The two have appeared on each other’s podcasts in the past; Gall would visit Fitz’s show to talk college football and Fitz, a rabid Oakland Raiders fan, would visit Gall’s to discuss the NFL.
Gall said Fitz’s background as a performing musician serves him well because sports talk radio, like music, is really about entertainment.
“We’d always say, ‘We need to do something together.’ I think he does great work,” Gall said. “You can see that on his podcast. There’s a lot it takes to be good at broadcasting, not just opinions. It’s work ethic, passion, energy. He’s got that in spades.”
The “Braden and Fitz” show launched shortly after Labor Day. Fitz acknowledges they’re the underdog going up against the local sports talk radio ratings champion 104.5 The Zone.
But with a smart, breezy give-and-take and cerebral approach, Fitz said he believes their show will appeal to the many millennials moving to Nashville.
“I think there’s plenty of room in the Nashville media landscape for more than one station to do well,” he said. “And competition is good, it helps everybody.”
Reach Nate Rau at 615-259-8094 and on Twitter @tnnaterau.
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