July 22, 2021

TV reporter Josh Rultenberg on covering Trump, going home & the Israel trip that changed his life.


Six years ago, I interned for JR at an Albany TV station. Today, I tell him the valuable lesson he taught me and then we discuss his beloved Philadelphia, what it was like covering Donald Trump's presidency (41:22), advice for single guys in new cities (26:52), his recent birthright trip to Israel (12:20), his first on-air gig in rural Alabama and so much more.

To watch our conversation, head on over to my YouTube channel.

You can follow Josh on Instagram @joshrultenberg and me @troy_farkas. 

My new blog, "4 adult things I don't want (but probably will at some point.)" is also available on my web site, where you can review the show.

Memorable quotes:

"This one place, this one war-torn country in the Middle East, this one democracy is the Jewish state where you are the majority and there's no feeling like it. Imagine being different for whatever reason you're different and then going to a place where everybody's like you. It's liberating." (15:04). -- on JR's Israel trip

"I said to myself, this is truly a decision in front of me where I am going to choose either my career or my personal life. And it is a terrible decision to make. It's almost like asking a parent, which one of your kids do you like more?" (33:03) -- on a tough career decision

"Get outside your comfort zone as much as you can, because eventually that comfort zone is gonna grow. And you'd be surprised by just what exactly ultimately ends up in it." (35:15) -- advice for young people

peace and love.

Transcript

Good morning, everyone. Welcome into another episode of The Troy Farkas Show, a podcast that is not about me, it's about all of us. The twenties are a crucial time in our lives. And on this show, we navigate the highs and lows of early adulthood together. Thank you again so much for joining me. I hope all of you are having a great week that you're getting after it, that you are being nice, that you were being humble.

That is a nod to the episode I posted earlier this week on Monday. If you haven't listened to it, I do suggest you go check it out. And I do suggest that you keep listening to this episode because today I'm talking to someone who. Um, has been very influential in my life. As you will hear shortly, Josh Rultenberg.

He is a reporter. He covers the state of Ohio in Columbus. Ohio has been there for about a year, but he's bounced around. He's from Philadelphia. We'll talk about that. He went to temple, then he went to Dothan, Alabama, small town, Alabama. Then he went to Albany New York, which is where I met him. You will find out how we met.

In a matter of moments after all Nate went to Westchester for a couple months, then he went back home to his home land, a Pennsylvania, Allentown, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. Then he went to Columbus where he is now he's 32 years old. So Josh, you are going to hate to hear this, but you are officially the oldest member of Detroit Farkis show guest squad here, but that is because you have been an influential person in my life.

And I do think that you've got a lot of wisdom to share from your experiences, from your travels and from doing what you do, talking to people everyday covering people, covering the news. Politics was originally in sports. Now is in politics doing the real work, the necessary work, the very serious work that has been so hard to do well over the past few years, Josh and I are going to talk about that about the changing media landscape.

What it was like working as a member of the media during the Trump presidency, which you know, which brought about all sorts of trials and tribulations. So we'll talk about that. We'll also discuss and dive into some of the decisions that he's made. What has driven the decisions that he's made. Uh, he decided to leave home after thinking that home was where he belonged.

Uh, that is something that I personally am very curious about. We're going to talk about his trips to Israel. We're gonna talk about Philadelphia, uh, all of these things. So I do hope that you, uh, enjoy the conversation between Josh Rultenberg and I available wherever you get your podcasts. Get a bunch of info for it on the tree farm to show.com on the homepage.

Newest episodes appear there for each and every episode. We've also got snippets from this show and the full thing. If you want to watch it over on the tray for cause YouTube channel. So enjoy kickback, listen to me and Jr. While you're on your run, your walk in the car, on the train, in the garden, cleaning, whatever it is.

I do hope you enjoy now talk to you on the backend.

So if you've been listening to this podcast for a minute now, you've heard me talk over and over again about the importance of mentorship, of realizing that you don't know everything, especially when you're young for everyone listening out here, we're all young out here getting it, trying to get better every day.

But we do think that we know everything that we don't need help, that we don't need assistance to reach out to people that we got it all figured out. Me on the other hand, I am very cognizant of the fact that I'm dumb, that I don't know a lot of things. And so I find it very important to find mentors.

And that's why I'm so honored to welcome onto the show today. One of my very first mentors, a guy who I spent the summer of 20 15, 6 years ago today, actually in this very moment, Josh, six years ago, you and I are probably parading around the 5, 1 8 and Glens falls, New York talking to Jimmer Fredette riding around in the van and then going back to news 10 and Albany and putting together something that's going to air, uh, at 11 o'clock that night.

So you were one of the first mentors I had and probably the most important thing that you've taught me. And this goes beyond just the news business and all of the little tools of the trade. It is that. Wherever you go introduce yourself to people, shake a hands, look them in the eye, have a firm handshake, let them know who you are, so that they never forget you.

So that's the first thing that you taught me. It is something that I've carried with me forward personally and professionally. So thank you for that. And thank you for joining me today. Good to see you again. 

Wow, Troy, that was a, that was a heck of an intro. I don't know if I deserve all that, but, um, yeah, I can remember all those years ago, uh, you know, I had a number of interns at channel 10 and you know, I always used to tell people that followed you.

I would say, look, I had this one kid. He was dedicated so much so that I almost had him producing my show. You know, if I wouldn't have shown up on a given day, I think that he easily would have been able to be the sports caster that could have filled in. Um, you were a lot of fun to hang to hang with and, uh, Anything, I put it's all.

Yeah. I'm glad it was something you could 

take with you. That, that was a, I believe I was the first intern. There was no internship that news 10 was offering. I just kind of cold emailed your coworker early on about a Vita and just said, Hey, I'm a nosy college kid going into my sophomore year. Kind of like this business.

Can I just follow you around for the summer? And then she didn't get back to me, but I just kept being pleasantly persistent every couple of weeks eventually made it happen. Then I got to work with you a bunch too. Yeah. 

Well, I mean, I think we, we knew you're, you're older. Right. We, we, we knew Brady and, uh, you know, Leanna talks.

We certainly weren't gonna hold that against you. Um, but no, not Brad. He's a good guy. Um, no, we, we, we kind of were a short-handed sports department to begin with, uh, going against the, the big bats of the, of the rest of the market. And, um, we were, I think we were more than happy to bring somebody else on, not just to teach, but also to help because it was a lot going on as, as you.

So what was it like having me? Cause again, like I'm such a profoundly different person than I was six years ago at this point. I'm just a college kid. I'm dumb. I asked a lot of dumb questions. Like people have come on this podcast and criticized me many times deservedly. So, so like praise me or criticize me, like, what was it like having me there?

Like, was I annoying? What do you think? 

No, I mean, look, I've, I can tell you I've had bed insurance, um, interns that literally show up because they want course credit and they want to do the bare minimum and they want to just be like, alright, I got here. Four. And I'm leaving here at 10. Like, can you sign my sheet?

Give me a good recommendation. And like, I've been an intern in my life. I interned at two different places in Philadelphia before I ever got my first job. And what I was always taught was there's no such thing as a stupid question. And if you have them ask a million. So, I mean, cause eventually this is what I wanted to do.

No, man, when it came to you, uh, again, I, I was, I was pleasantly surprised that there was just somebody, your age that wanted to learn as much as you did. Um, you picked on it, you picked up on it very easily. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that you were from the capital region and you kind of knew everything that was going on.

Um, not man, you were fun to be around. Um, You know, for as much as I taught you that you're taking with you, that's positive. I'm sure there's a couple of things that we probably can't share here that probably taught you as well. Um, I wasn't sure what you were going to say, but no, it was a lot of fun, man.

Honestly. I mean, you were an intern in college when I was five years in the business, five years before that I was in. So it was wild for me to have an intern in the first place. And one, that was one that was cool and willing to learn. It kind of reminded me a little bit of myself. So I was more than happy to, to kind of show you the ropes a 

little bit.

Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I don't know if in any scenario I would ever win an award someday. Uh, I don't know what I would do that would warrant that, but if I'm ever on a stage and have to thank people, you and Liana will certainly be on the, uh, one of the first main mentioned for sure. Oh man, 

don't get don't bring me to tears, 

bro.

All right. I want to talk about something that you will be very interested to learn about. So I've been kind of bouncing around all year. I've been working remotely, like I left where I was living and working, been bouncing around all year, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, mass, New Hampshire. I'm moving to New Hampshire next month, but I've also got a bunch of places on my bucket list that I want to get out of the way.

One of those places, is it place that I have long been wanting to go to as a history buff? It is a crime that I've never been to. The great city of Philadelphia, a city that you know quite well last night, it's official booked an Airbnb in Philadelphia three weeks from now. I've got 48 hours in Philadelphia.

What do I need to do that? Like, I cannot leave Philadelphia without doing wow. Only 48 hours. Yeah. Woo. 

All right. Well, I mean cliche, but first and foremost, obviously you need to get a cheese steak, right? Yep. 

Pat's and Gino's, those are like the cliche places I've been told. Stay away from those. Those are the touristy spots go somewhere real.

I don't know who told you that, but they gave you good advice. Um, don't do that. Um, no, you want something authentic. You want almost like a mom and pop type feel. So depending on where you go, we'll talk afterwards. As far as where the good spots are, but my favorite place is a place called gyms. It's on south street.

Very easy to remember. Uh, it's one of the best places I think, but got to do that. Um, you know, look, you're a history book, right? So I mean, the birthplace of our country is in Philadelphia, so you easily could go. And I believe probably the COVID restrictions have lifted a little bit, but I'm sure you can check out independence all I'm sure you can check out the constitution center.

Um, you're both right there in, in what we call old city, uh, in Philadelphia. So those are places you can go to if there was a game. Um, I mean more power to you. If you could check out, uh, check out a Phillies game. Um, even if you don't go into the stadium, the really cool thing about Philadelphia in south Philadelphia is where all stuff.

Uh, literally on one corner, you have the Wells Fargo center where the Sixers and fliers play citizens bank park, where the Phillies play on another corner. You have Lincoln financial field where the Eagles play. And then on the fourth corner is a really cool thing that I think you should check out. It's where the old veteran stadium used to be, where the, where the Phillies and the Eagles played together, but they tore it down and they built this place called the  live center.

And what it is is basically like 20 bars in one. And it's a sports type field that you can go in. A lot of people pre-game a lot of people go during the game post game. Um, but it's a lot of fun. So it's a really cool entertainment center. Xfinity live is what it's called. I would check that out. Um, besides that, I mean, I would check out the art museum because that's where the Rocky steps are.

You know, another cliche thing, the Rocky statue was right there, you know, go up there and yo Adrian, you gotta do it. Um, I think that's pretty cool. Uh, and you got a lot of good places for good food. So, um, nightlife as well. I mean, it's, it's, it's my favorite city in the world. I'm very biased and I can admit that upfront, but there's just so much to offer and our city gets such a bad rap, right?

A Philly sports fans y'all are the worst. No, we're passionate. And we're going to let you know it. So 48 hours in Philly, I would suggest booking a second trip back if you could. But those are just a couple of things to do if 

you haven't. Okay. I love all of that. I will definitely incorrect me if I'm wrong.

The Liberty bell is like in constitution hall or right by it. Right. 

A so you have the constitution center, you have independence all and right in the middle, the Liberty ball and Liberty, 

Liberty bell. Okay, cool. Uh, very much looking forward to it. I mean, I feel like in terms of history, Washington DC has all the history, American history and the world, new England in general, Boston, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York it's everywhere.

But then Philadelphia is essentially where the birthplace of this country comes from. The declaration of independence is signed there. That's where Benjamin Franklin was doing his thing. So super excited for it. I want to talk about your travel. So you just got back from a trip to Israel and it was your birthright trip.

And from what I understand, every conversation I've ever had with a Jewish person who has gone to Israel has come back, feeling changed different. They saw things, felt things over there that literally changed the physiology within them. They speak about these things. That happened maybe years ago at this point with such reverence and they recall every moment of it.

I understand that you just went on this trip and kind of had that experience. So what was it like for you going there? 

Actually, I didn't know what to expect. Um, you know, you're told about this trip just to put it in perspective for those that are listening, that might not understand what birthright is.

So it used to be maximum 26 years old. Now it's 32, but for any Jewish person in the world, that's under 32 years old due to some very, um, grateful sponsors. Um, they give kids and I'm not a kid, but they give, uh, Jewish people under 32 years old, basically a free trip to Israel. Some trips are seven days.

Some trips are 10 days and you go all over the country. Um, I would say before this trip, you know, I was bar mitzvahed at 13 years. But I'm 32. I'm gonna be 33 next month, really? In between that time, um, I kind of lost track of my culture, my heritage, my religion, uh, and I really took it for granted for sure.

Um, you know, a lot of it was just like, I was glad that the, the bar mitzvah journey was over. Cause it's a lot. And then afterwards, you know, you, you're in high school, you go to college and then you're moving around the country and you just kind of, I don't know, I just kinda lost sight of it. Um, and I used to joke with people that I was ju ish, you know, like I didn't take it all that seriously, but, um, what ends up happening at least for my trip is there was 20 random people from the United States that get together.

We all meet in New York. Take a plane ride, go to Israel and spend the next seven days together. Um, people that honestly would have never crossed paths before. And we all said that out loud. I mean, you have single people, you have married people, you have married people with kids. You have straight people, you have gay people, you have transgender.

I mean, just all different walks of life that literally you're like, Hey, if I would've passed you on the street, I probably would have kept it moving. But now after seven days and visiting the places that we visited, um, I look at these people like I'd do anything for them. And that's just the people aspect.

Then you talk about going to a country where in the United States, Jewish people are a minority, you know, and we're a minority around the world as well. But this one place, this one war torn country in the middle east, this one democracy is the Jewish state where you are the majority and there's no feeling.

You know, it just imagined being different for whatever reason, you're different. And then going to a place where everybody's like you, it is, is liberating. It's exciting. Um, and then the, the people we met were amazing. Um, you know, we went to different places such as the dead sea, you know, and you, you go in there and it's just a different type of feeling.

We went to a Holocaust museum. We had the privilege of hearing from a Holocaust survivor, which was overwhelming to hear the least, I mean, they are dying off at old age now. I mean, it's probably going to be another five, 10 years before. There's no more Holocaust survivors. The one we heard from, he was five years old at the time.

And what he told us was at a five years old, you don't really know what's going on in the world. You just think everything that's happening around you is normal. And he grew up in what was not. In just the most evil period perhaps ever committed against the Jewish people, 6 million people were killed. Um, so it was really inspiring to hear from him.

We went to the Western wall, you know, the holiest place on earth. You, you get a chance to go to Jerusalem and you just feel like it's an out of body experience. You feel like there's something taking over you and you go to the wall and I left a message for God. Again, I'm not that religious, but, um, it was, it was overwhelming as well, uh, in a really positive way.

And then by the end of the trip, we were all looking at each other and we were like, wow, seven days has come and gone. And you know, it stinks that we all have to go back to our own corners of the U S now. And, um, and we have to leave each other, but we've been talking every day since we have this group.

Um, in fact, I'm gonna reach out to. One of the members of my trip, who said that she was having a hard time with something today. And I was like, Hey, I'll give you as much time as you need, um, to talk to you just cause I feel like we all have this responsibility now to not only take back what we learned from Israel and bring it to the United States and kind of share about our heritage.

Cause there's a lot of misconceptions going on right now, especially with the conflict, but also take care of each other because we went through this amazing experience. So yeah, it changed me. It changed me for the better. Um, and I really think that if there's been something missing in my life that I want to accomplish, perhaps getting to know my roots again, can help me get there.

I love that story. Thank you so much for sharing that I know from just my own travels at any time I set out, you know, I've been abroad several times or even when I go to different states when I was in Colorado for couple. Anytime I set out on travels, I want to learn something about myself and about the world and then apply it to whatever next phase of my life ends up being and keep it with me.

So, as you are now away from Israel and back into your normal everyday grind in Columbus, Ohio, what have you taken from there that you will now apply to your life going forward? 

Well, I think first and foremost, again, I want to learn more about my culture and my religion, because they really are two different things.

Um, and I want to take what I've learned from Israel and try and without shoving it in people's faces. I'm not trying to pour anything down people's throats, but, um, just kind of get them to have a little bit more understanding, um, about just our heritage, uh, and also just what's going on right now over there.

Uh, as Americans, we do not get the full details of what's going on. We get. Some news reports here and there, but it's very watered down. Um, and as a journalist, I can respect knowing that we need to learn more. Um, so I think when I'm here, um, I'm definitely gonna try and join some local Jewish groups just to try and connect with more people.

Um, but also I want to, I want to inform people about what's going on over there because, um, you know, a lot of people have some misconceptions about what's going on in Israel and who's doing what and, uh, you know, without getting into the nitty gritty of it. Um, I think one thing I take a lot of pride in, obviously for what I do for a living, uh, is try to inform people the best that I can.

And so if I can lay it out, they can play 

it out. So let's talk about your job. So a lot of young people listen to this show. And so when you first get out of college and kind of figure out what it is you want to do, where do you want to go? You're out on your own for the first time, it's scary. And I'm not sure if it could have been a much scarier than what you did going out of college, uh, from temple, graduated from temple, and then you went down to Dothan, Alabama population, probably like 500.

I don't know. I'm just making that up, but a small town in rural Alabama. Uh, what was that experience like for you for the time that you spent down there? Yeah, 

so, I mean, for those that don't really know about the transition from college to get into my industry, um, it is difficult. It's very difficult. Um, you know, they only let so many people do what we do.

Um, and so when I was in college, I applied for, I think 180 jobs. Wow. That's not even a, you know, it's not even a sarcastic, I think it's a real number. And I always just kind of told myself that, uh, whoever decided first that I was good enough to put me on television to talk about sports. Cause that's what I first got into.

I was going to do it. I didn't care where it was. Um, I actually had some interest before I graduated from college. There was an interest in temple, Texas that was very interested in me and I almost entertain the job. I almost took it. I was talking with my mentors and on the one side, somebody was like, look, these jobs don't come around every now and then you might have to take it finished college later.

And others were like, you're a couple months away. You just finished your degree. But one random day in June of 2011, I got a phone call from a guy in Dothan. Alabama didn't even realize I had applied there. And after about a 15 minute conversation, he was like, I want you to be my sports director. How fast can you get down here?

And I'll never forget it. I, it was a Monday and I was like, I can be there by next Friday, uh, like two weeks and sure enough, that's exactly what I. I went home, told my parents like, Hey, I'm moving to Alabama. They thought I was insane. Um, you know, you've got this Northern Jewish kid moving to the Bible, thumping south, um, and a different kind of Bible.

Um, and so my dad and I, we drove from Philly to Alabama and I can remember we were about 50 miles out from  and in between this one little city in dove and there was nothing, I mean, just nothing. And my dad was looking at me like, are you sure you want me to drop you off here? And I was scared out of my mind.

I was like, no, I maybe I was like, just stay with me for a couple of days before he'll leave. I hadn't signed a contract at that point. So I was like, let's just check it out. Um, but you know, sure enough, I, I ended up signing and I, and I'm there and it was really cool just to kind of be like, Hey, I'm a professional sports caster.

And I was there for two and a half years. I covered the greatest college football in the world, uh, covered Alabama covered Auburn covered the sec. Uh, when I was there, it was the summer, right after cam Newton and Auburn had won the national championship. Then for two football seasons, Alabama beat LSU, Alabama beat Notre Dame.

Uh, I was in Miami for that Notre Dame game. And then the season that I was leaving Auburn was in the national championship against Jamis Winston and Florida state. And we also covered Florida state. So it was, it was incredible. Um, but the biggest thing I can take away from my experience in Dothan, and I tell this to everybody is I was a kid 22 years old that went down there with nothing.

And I felt like I left everything behind. Uh, I've been back three times since. That I left the market. I have lifelong friends that were there that were in broadcasting that have since left, but also just people in the community that took me in. And when I was first there, I thought I was better than that place.

I'm smarter than these people. These people don't know anything about anything they're waving. Hi to me on the street. I don't know why. And all you come to realize is because they're nice people and the Southern charm, the Southern comfort thing is real, the ha the hospitality. Um, and so it was really great.

It, honestly, of all the jobs that I've had, it was my favorite job. And I didn't know it until I, I 

don't know what you got until it's gone. Exactly. What was the light talking to Nick Saban? 

It was never boring, never boring. In fact, I can remember sometimes going into a press conference and being like, you know what, I'm just going to piss him off today, just going to piss him off today.

Um, because he, he he's first off. He's extremely intelligent. Um, but he's very personable too. Um, I mean, I'm sure you've probably seen like college game day interviews where, when he knows you, he's going to be a little bit more real with you. He's going to show his personality, but in practice, I mean, the guy's brutal, but clearly whatever's in his recipe is working cause he's arguably the greatest college football coach of all time, one of the best coaches period in any sport of all time.

Uh, but he was really fun to cover. Um, you know, the Auburn, Alabama rivalry was amazing. Uh, people would mention duke North Carolina, they're only eight miles apart. So that that's a little bit comparable. Uh, I'm up here in Columbus and people talk about Ohio state, Michigan. Uh, Yankees red Sox, but I used to tell people, imagine if red Sox fans and Yankee spans, lived in the same place and they never separated.

In fact, they wouldn't marry one another because you're a fan of the other team. You weren't friends. Um, it was brutal. It was real. And I could talk about college football three, literally 365 days a year, even when there was no season. And there was an appetite for it. It was incredible. I absolutely loved every bit of.

It is truly a religion down there. I've spoken to people who grew up in Oklahoma, in Georgia, and they are flabbergasted by the fact that I don't care about college football because it is literally life or death for them. It's it's church and football and there's no room for anything else. It's wild. 

And it's crazy.

So here's the other thing. They love the players once they're there at college. Right? But as soon as they go to the NFL, they could care less. It's the weirdest thing I got. I got there the summer that Cam Newton won the national championship. Then he was drafted number one, overall, to go play for the Panthers.

And I was like, Hey, how many of you guys are going to be Panthers fans? Nobody. The guy just won a Heisman, went under and won the national championship. And you don't care anymore? No, who's Auburn's next quarterback. 

Okay. 

Yeah. No, it's it was wild, but I loved every bit of it. It was really cool. 

Yeah. So, Dothan, what's your favorite spot?

You've since bounced around in the eight years. Ish, since then, you've been to all the New York where we were Westchester for a little bit, Allentown, Pennsylvania, very nearby, where you grew up now in Columbus, Ohio. So you have been kind of doing all of this on your own single bounce from place to place as a young single guy, myself, who's about to move to a new place.

I'm wondering like, how do you get yourself acclimated? How do you make friends meet people, be one with the town, you know? 

Yeah. So I will tell you the previous four experiences that I had before this it's a different answer than this job right now. Um, you know, the first thing that you do at least for the first four jobs that I had was it's natural to bond with your coworkers.

You go to a station, you're hanging out with people, mostly your age, some older, some younger, um, but you go and you hang out with them because you know, they can relate you're with them all the time. You're with them more than if you did it. Right. We're all on 

weird schedules. No one else is off when you guys are.

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, there were days in my career where I was off Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday when, I mean, whatever. Um, but you bond with those people first, you know, also just with your job, with the industry that we have, we're fortunate to meet people almost every day from different walks of life and quickly, you know, if you shake their hand, if you introduce yourself to who they are into who you are, um, you can bond with these people.

And if you do right by them, if you do them justice, uh, you can, you can, Bonnie, you can create connections. And I would say that's really how, um, I've been fortunate to meet different people. Now, like I said, those were the first four jobs and really the last job that I had, I was only an hour away from home.

So it was the first time in my career that having a life outside of work in the area that I lived in was almost a luxury instead of a necessity, because I could bond with the people I grew up with here, though. I moved here June, 2020, which you know, I don't have to tell you, uh, and I don't have to tell the rest of the world.

I picked a heck of a time to move. And, uh, I knew it going in. Um, I had left my last job in Allentown. I'd made the decision to leave in February, 2020. I didn't ultimately leave until April 1st, 2020. So it was right at the beginning of the pandemic. And I was like, oh my gosh, I'm going to be unemployed.

And like the worst time in the history. And then I was recruited to come here and I got here and it was June, 2020, and I knew going into it. I was like, wow, there's no end in sight to this pandemic. I'm not going to be working with anyone. I'm going to move six and a half hours away from home. And I'm just going to have to suck it up because I know that this type of job that I've been offered, it's going to hopefully open doors for me that otherwise would not have been opened.

So short-term pain for long-term gain. And I can tell you, I sat in my apartment like the rest of us for months in a city. I didn't know. Didn't understand. And it was hard. I mean, it was hard for everybody, right? I mean, I haven't been at work full time since I got here. So I've never really done the job that I was actually hired to do.

I've been doing it in a modified role. Fortunately, the world's opened up a little bit and I've started to meet some colleagues from work. I've met colleagues that work for other stations and newspaper writers, and, um, gotten to bond with a couple of staff members of different politicians that I cover.

Um, but it's been brutal, man. This, this was a terrible year for us all. We're not out of the woods yet. Uh, even though it looks a little bit better than it did a year ago. Um, but yeah, this was, this was the hardest year to meet people. So I would just say to you in normal times, go out, don't be afraid to just introduce yourself to anybody.

The worst that can happen is they tell you to go away. Yeah. 

That's the secret. Yeah. I took that approach to all things personally, professionally like, Hey, slide into a girl's DMS say, would say whatever she says, no. All right, whatever on the next one, I'm the king of shoot your shot. Business-wise like the great thing about working at ESPN was it's such a big company.

Like there's so many great people there and had to shoot them an email. Hey, let's go get Starbucks in the cafeteria. They can say, no, we're ignoring you. Like whatever, it's fine onto the next one. But going back to what you said before that the short-term pain for long-term gain, that decision that you made is one that I would think that most people would not make people like to be comfortable, especially in that time.

The world is seemingly ending when community and family means more than anything else in the world for you to still realize, Hey, like this is going to be tough, but I need to do this. I commend you for making that decision because that takes, uh, lots and lots of sitting in your apartment and wondering, what do I really want out of life?

And you made a decision that it's really difficult. So props to you for that. Look, I can got it. 

I can tell you that. I, I did not make that decision on my own. Um, when I made that decision, I was considering a career getting out of the business, considering a career in media relations or PR, and I was offered this job and I talked to different family members and friends just to kind of gauge because I knew I was also, I mean, I'm in my young thirties.

And, um, you know, that gets to be a point where you, you start to prioritize different things in your life, not just your career. And it's like, where do I want to be? What I want to do. And I wanted to see what my family and friends thought. And I was honestly shocked by the response that I got each and every one of them told me to go.

And I was, I was stunned because I said to myself, this is truly a decision in front of me where I am going to choose either my career or my personal life. And it is, it is a terrible decision to make. It's almost like asking a parent, which one of your kids do you learn? Um, because it was like, well, yeah, jobs come and go, but family's always there.

But then my family and friends would be like, if you stay here, you're going to be miserable because you're not doing what you love and you're not missing anything. Um, but I wouldn't have made that decision without their support. Uh, and I needed their support once I got here as well, because again, I didn't need a whole lot of new people, so don't give me too much credit for making the decision.

A lot of it was the people that kind of guided me in the background, but, but yeah, I, I ultimately made the decision and, uh, I've learned a lot in a year. And so that's, that's at least a 

positive thing. Yeah. In my decision to I'm moving to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, next month I can work remotely. I can live anywhere I want.

So it's kind of a blessing and a curse blessing. You can work anywhere. You want. That's sweet curse. It's like, how do you figure out where to live? There are so many factors and you can live in so many different places when every option is available to you. So it's been a tough decision and pardon me was just weighing, you know, what if I just moved to Saratoga, Saratoga is an awesome place.

It's 25 minutes from where I grew up. I know it. I feel comfortable there. I feel safe there and it's just like a sick place, you know, you've been there. It's a great town. The track is great. It's all great. But a part of me feels like that would just be a step back in my development that I wouldn't be using this.

Important part of my life, where I'm supposed to be getting out of my comfort zone and taking chances, especially when I'm on attached to any big responsibilities of a wife or children, I would feel like that would be taking a step back, would be doing the easy thing. So I'm wondering was being an Allentown for a year, being close to home, not, you know, kind of banking on your childhood and not going out and meeting new people.

Did that weigh in your decision at all, where you were just like, you know what I need to get out of here? Not because I don't love the people, but because I need to branch 

out. So here's what I'll say first, before I answer that question. There's something that you said that resonated with me. And it's something that we took from our Israel trip.

Uh, you never really know who you are until you get outside your comfort zone. You can't grow unless you get outside your comfort zone. Um, and that's something I'm definitely taking with me right now. And I offer that to you or anybody else, listening to the podcast, um, get outside your comfort zone as much as you can, because eventually that comfort zone is gonna.

And you'd be surprised by just what exactly ultimately ends up in when I was in Allentown, it was, it was amazing. It felt like almost part of my dream coming true. The dream was always to come back home originally. It was for sports, I've gone a different way. Um, but it was always to come back home and to report in front of the people that I grew up with and to have them see me.

And for me to also report on the things that matter to me, cause then all these other different places, I'm not saying it doesn't matter, but it just resonates a little bit more when it's home. Um, I signed a two year contract there, part of the deal that I signed, I signed a one-year non-compete agreement.

So once I left, whether it was after two years or 20 years, there was going to have to be one year where I basically was not allowed to work in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, which Allentown is considered to be. Um, and so when it got to be the end of my contract, uh, I was looking at a couple of different things.

I knew I always wanted to be in Philadelphia. And so I kind of knew that if I did ultimately want to do that, I was going to have to leave. Um, didn't realize again that it was going to be at the start of a pandemic, but I knew that was the case. Being home was great. After six years or seven years on the road being an being 45 minutes to an hour away from home was a blessing.

Um, I didn't have to take vacation time anymore to go home. I could just go home. It didn't matter what day of the week it was. I could just do it. You know, whether it's hanging out with your immediate family or friends or whatever, I didn't take it for granted. And then after getting that for two years, it was that much harder to leave.

Um, just because I felt like I worked so hard to get there, but I also knew that. If I wanted to ultimately achieve the dreams that I wanted to, that I had to leave again. And that's why it was really hard, uh, because I got that taste. And so I made this decision. I've stuck with it. I've learned a lot. Um, but it's given me a greater appreciation for home.

So look, I think you're doing great that you're outside your comfort zone. Nobody in the world would blame you. If you wanted to go back to Saratoga, not at all. You've proven that what you went to college for worked out, you clearly are doing the right thing. Um, but if you want to go home and do the same thing or do something different, who is anybody else to judge you?

So I'd say that the, the ball's in your court do what you want to do. If you want to go home, go home. If not, continue to travel, just know that home will always be there. Yep. So I that's 

what I would say. Thank you for that. Um, you mentioned your dream. One half of your dream is to be in Philadelphia, Philadelphia.

What is the second half of that dream? Well, so it's 

interesting. When I first got in the business, I was a sports guy. Right, right. And at any person that throws on a suit and tie and talks about sports wants to be at ESPN. So if you have any contacts, please let me know now. But, um, no. So I started my career that way and, uh, you know, that was my job.

Full-time in Alabama. When I got to Albany New York at first, I was doing news before I met you. I was there for a year and a half doing just straight news before I was offered the weekend sports anchor gig for another two years. And I did that after I left Albany. I did six months of morning news in Westchester, New York covered a little bit in New York city as well.

Um, and then for an Allentown for two years, I did news and I did politics. I did some sports feature stories, but never went to a game, shot a game anymore, anything like that. So now I'm involved in politics and it is a different type of sport altogether. There's winners, there's losers, there's a scoreboard and people are paying close attention.

There's a lot of fans, uh, to put it mildly. Um, one of the reasons I took this job was because I said to myself, okay, first off, it's a statewide news channel. So unlike a market that I've worked in, in a city that I've worked in, the whole state can watch me report, which is something that most reporters don't get the opportunity to do.

So I said to myself, if I can report on politics, cover a governor, cover the state legislature statewide. Why could I not do this same exact thing nation. Why could I not cover a president or Congress, the white house on a nationwide level. And this almost to me, felt like this could be a minor-league step to that.

So while I'm very much invested in the job that I have now, and I'm only one year into a two to three-year contract, the third year is kind of on me. Um, you know, maybe Washington, if I, if I can't get back home, um, I've been in New York, maybe go back to New York. Um, Or maybe just somewhere warm, man. It's cold.

It's really cold up here. So look, it's only me. I'm single guy. I don't have any kids just like you. I'm a little bit older, so, you know, the hourglass has already turned over, but, um, yeah, I think part of the other dream right now, would I be interested in Washington just to see about it? Um, but if not, then, uh, there's no place like home.

I do want to talk a little bit about news and politics here. So you, so you've obviously been in, uh, in the business longer than I have. So I don't know if my perception of it is just, you know, I came of age and started becoming aware of the world when all the craziness happens was politics and news, always this crazy, or did what happened in 2016?

Just make it more crazy. Like in 2013 was as crazy as it is in 2020. 

Well, so here's what I would say. Social media changed our lives. Yeah. Right. Some for the good, some for the worse, uh, it's a necessary evil. Like I like to look at it right now, but it used to be where there was this thing called appointment television, where you would have to go home and you would have to watch the six o'clock news and the 10 o'clock news.

Our parents had to do that. Um, they had to wait for the newspaper the next day. You wait for the newspaper the next day now. And whatever you're reading is old news. Right. I mean, by the time these guys are sitting down at their computers, writing this article, it's already almost old news because the event just happened.

So I would say that I don't know that it got crazier. I will say it got Grazer, but I'll get to that in a second. Um, it's more instantaneous. So we have, we have news at our, at our fingertips. So that's that's first and foremost, the other thing is social media really has divided us. Uh, I believe, um, you know, that you just watched documentaries about social media and they will tell you that our news intake is geared towards what we want, not what we need to hear, but what we want.

And you know, if, if they're tracking our data, which we know that they are, then they're only giving us one side of the pie. They're not giving us the whole pie, but that's for everyone. So you could be on this side of the pie. I can be on this side of the pie, and we're only getting this and we never hear about the other.

And that's only going to continue to do this, right. The middle is going to go. It just, is it already hats? There's not many independent voters anymore. People know where they stand. People don't even mess. Some people don't even have friends or they cut off family members because of the other side. So yeah, I would say that the news got crazy.

I would say that definitely there was a line drawn in the sand six years ago. Um, basically, and I think that once the one escalator ride happened, um, some of us were going in one direction and some of us we're going in another and it's been that way ever since. And we will see how long the current trend continues.

Uh, But I only see it getting more divided. And I do think it's, it's at a crazy level 

right now that division, you know, I come from a family of journalists and, you know, I mean, in 2007, I know people had strong feelings against president Bush. Like I didn't have opinions either way. I'm a kid. I didn't really realize how divided people were, but more so to the media side of it in 2016 for the next four years, crazy presence.

So you, one of the craziest times in our lives that we'll ever experience, but I'm wondering as someone in the media who was working during that time, carving that time, what was it just like being a member of the media in a time where the media, it felt like was being attacked more so than it had ever been?

Well, I mean, 

it's not that it felt like we, we were, um, and, and first and foremost, let me just say, I, I hate the term. Uh, because it, it makes it sound like we all work for the same person and we all have the same agenda and we don't, um, national news and local news, couldn't be more different. A lot of people can't differentiate that nowadays, but it's true.

Um, look, I covered, I covered the former president. I went to his rallies and, um, it was scary. It was very scary. Uh, I can tell you about a time when I was working in Allentown, we went to Scranton, Pennsylvania, and it was a hockey arena, the minor league hockey arena that he was speaking at, and it was 10,000 of his supporters.

Just put it in perspective. You know, you've got the lower section, you've got the upper section private event around the top, around the bottom. All of his supporters where the ice normally is, there was no ice. You had to stay. In the middle, you had like VIP people that were allowed to stand on the ground.

And then in the back you had the media all grouped together in the national media. I was standing next to CNN, NBC, CBS, all of them. And then you had your, you had your, a white house press Corps, basically that was traveling as well. And then you had local media, local media from Scranton, Allentown, Philadelphia, whatever, but we're all together.

And you have someone who's on the stage. The most powerful person in the world, part of his shtick was turn around, take a look at these people. These are some terrible people. They're, they're horrible people. They make things up about me. You know, if you want to blame anybody for what's going on right now, here's your scapegoats.

And I'm not going to make the same analogy and comparison that I normally make. Uh, Because I do know that there's been leaders throughout history that have pointed to one group of people to try to say, they're your problem. Let's discard of them. Um, but it was very scary and knowing what happened just earlier this year in January, um, it's not a shock.

I just say that I could have saw that coming. I don't think any of us could have said that, but knowing how I felt in the moment and, and how scared I felt, and then knowing what did transpire you almost say you're going to play with fire. You're going to get burned. And, uh, it, it was, it was brutal. So, and I've covered different presidents.

I've covered the current president. I covered Obama, uh, and I covered Trump and, uh, completely different experiences for me. 

Did those wild years and the nights that you came home, wondering why am I doing this? Did any of that play a part in your almost decision to leave this part of the business and go into the PR side?

Sure, sure. I mean, stress was a huge part. When I started my career, I had a full head of hair, you know, that's gone now, let me know where it went so I can try and find it. Um, yeah, look there, there are some nights, look, I would equate it to this. The people that have never worked in the media before a little bit of it is like being a doctor or a nurse or being a first responder, not from the sense of that we're heroic or anything, but just because you deal with so much heavy stuff that after a while, it's sad to say, but another event just becomes another event, even if, even if it's heavy.

Yeah. Now with that said that's probably about 99%. But there is some nights, there are some nights where you take your work home with you, so to speak. Um, some of the worst moments that I've had in my career were when you deal with tragedy, when it comes to children, um, those things that you just hard to escape, uh, you know, I report on a lot of terrible things that happen with kids.

Uh, those are, those are really hard. Um, military bets, that's hard to, um, you know, and then yeah, some nights where you get personally attacked, it's hard. Um, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and you realize at the end of every bad night, the sun comes up again and it's a new day. You can put it behind you easier said than done, but you can.

And, uh, you just never forget it. So. So I, I would say, yeah, I, uh, there were parts of me that wanted to leave at times. I question it all the time, but I still got this insane bug to do what I do. And, uh, until that fire goes out, I'll be the guy with the microphone. 

I want to ask you about some, some more stories from your reporting career.

Now, as both of us know, but the public who does not work in this industry probably doesn't know because we do such a good job of masking it up. Me and you make mistakes and errors. All of the time things go wrong behind the scenes. Like a microphone gets plugged in two seconds. Before you go on air, like something happens, you almost run out of battery, like weird things happen all the time.

What are some of the weirdest things, craziest things has happened to you as you're on air or just about to go on it? 

Um, well, I mean, it just being on shoots, I can remember like going to do an interview and never hitting record. 

Oh, that's still, that is the worst. And as a producer, and you know, when you're out in the field, you're kind of like the host and producer.

So there's even more responsibility. But as the producer not hitting record is the worst 

feeling in the world. It's even worse when you don't have your audio plugged in correctly and you don't have headphones in and you don't realize it. So you get back to the station. Um, sometimes the teleprompter goes out.

If you're an anchor in studio and if you don't know your stuff, wait, let me tell you. You can not hide from a camera no matter where you are, your, your camera is all around you, so you better play it. Cool. And you better know what you're doing. Um, that's happened before Mike's have cut out. Um, the rule number one though, is you always have to remember you're wearing a hot mic.

So just because the camera might not be pointed at you, uh, You always have to assume that it's, that it's working. Because if God forbid you say something that you regret, it's going to get picked up and it's going to follow you forever. I once did that in college. And my college professor told me, he said, boy, you're lucky this happened in college.

And he reamed me out. One of my mentors to this day, he reamed me out for like three minutes. I, I might've said one word in three minutes, but he came down on me so hard. And thank goodness he did because you see these horror stories that are out there of people saying things that. And, um, yeah, look, things happen.

That's part of production. I mean, TV every day, something's gonna go wrong. And it's really how you roll with the punches 

that determines how good you are. Not isn't based on how well you can just deliver a pre-packaged thing that you wrote on a teleprompter. It's how do you respond to breaking news? How do you respond to things going wrong on the fly?

Sure, sure. A hundred percent. Um, I guess I've been fortunate that to this point, uh, I've been able to, to make hay of it, but yeah, I mean, shoot, I can tell you a horror story. I was in Alabama. We used to do a Friday night football show and just like every other sports department in the country. And um, we went out and shot a bunch of games and it was the first weekend that we were dealing with this new video system, this input system, where we would put our video and I went to publish all of these videos to air for our show, the wrong way.

And I didn't know it till we were on air. And what ended up happening is we would go to roll a highlight, and literally only one second of the video would play before it just kept skipping. And this is on live television to the point where we had a 30 minute sponsored show and the general manager of our station decided after eight minutes kill it, I would rather air a syndicated show of whatever.

Then, you know, let people back home deal with this. And these things happen, man. It just, it's just part of it. Um, I envy the people that don't don't have the pressure that we have, but at the same time, pressure is a privilege. So I never forget 

that. Yeah. It's those moments like that. Are such great teaching moments for you later on like that sticks with you because that embarrassment that you felt in that moment, that shame, uh, you carried that with you forever toward everything you do.

And going back to the, the hot mic rule. I mean, you know, you, I think you're kind of referencing something that's going around right now is this whole ESPN, Rachel Nichols, Maria Taylor thing that's been going on for those of you who don't know, long story short, Rachel Nichols star been around the business for, for a long time, was caught, uh, privately recorded conversation in her hotel room last year.

Or she said some things about her coworker, Maria Taylor, that, you know, wasn't in great taste. And so now all the things that happens don't know what Rachel's, future's going to hold in store like despite how good she is. And that just had me thinking, you know, as a producer, I, it is my job to listen to off channel conversations.

Often and what Rachel said, pales in comparison to things that I have heard off air and just had me thinking and just like, I have the power to like ruin a career if I so want it to be a wicked person one day, of course, I'm never going to do that, but it's just crazy. It's just a point to like your hot mic rule that we all kind of abide by.

Always remember, watch what you say. You don't know who has an agenda. You don't know what is on and what is not, you can't, you really can't trust anyone as much as you think. It's like Spiderman 

said with great power comes. Great responsibility. 

Yeah. 

Amen. I think that was actually spider man's grandpa, 

but I don't know.

All that stuff is completely beyond me. I don't watch much TV. I'm trying to get into more, but, uh, no, I don't. I really don't. It's um, Because I work in the media and consume things for a living when I'm not working. I don't like to be looking at screens. My first day at first week at ESPN was just like me in a control room with 30 screens around me.

I went into the mountains for the next like three days and was get me out of here. I never want to see another screen again. And so that has kind of stuck with me where I don't watch Sunday football anymore. I have no appetite for it. I don't want to watch football. Everyone's gung ho about it at a place like ESPN.

It's all I hear about. It's all everyone cares about and talks about. I'm like, get me away from that. Get me away from 

TVs. 

Well, let me tell you this. One of the reasons people ask me all the time, do you miss being in sports? And I would say, look, compared to what I'm doing right now. Sports is very light compared to what I do right now.

And even regular news, the worst thing that can happen in sports, somebody loses a game. Worst thing that can happen in life. Somebody loses their life, right? Now for the average person, that's a doctor or a nurse or a, a firefighter or a police officer or a contractor or a teacher. Those people have their nine to fives.

They go home. What do they want to do? If they want to crack open a cold one, they want to watch a ball game, but I can completely empathize with you as somebody who worked in sports for a very long time. But after going to a ball game for work, the last thing I wanted to do was go home and watch sports center, right?

It was like, no, I just did this. I have to unplug. So the reason I bring this up in the first place is because yes, while I'm on television and I have to pay attention to a whole lot of news, I watch my fair share of trash television. I need it. I need, I need Jersey shore, family vacation. I watch it for, I've been watching it from the beginning when it was just regular Jersey shore.

I need that in my life. I know it's stupid, but it's part of my soul. I just finished watching too hot to handle on Netflix. I don't know if you've seen it. It is like a bad car accident. You just can't turn away. But it's like, oh my gosh, get me the popcorn and soda. I need to watch this train wreck. So I need to decompress, you know, after you're dealing with the brutal sport that is politics.

I'm like, give me the stupidest thing in the world. I don't care what it is. Just let me see it. And that's what I need. So I do kind of gravitate towards TV when I'm not. Exercising, playing tennis, doing all these different things, but I need my fair share of trash television for 

sure. Well, I've taken way too much of your time.

I will go let you watch that trash television Jr. Thank you so much for joining me. This has been so great catching up with you and learning about all of your, your travels and life lessons that you've obtained over the years. I appreciate it. And I cannot wait to tell you about this Philly cheese steak that I'm going to have here a couple of weeks 

gyms.

Remember Jim, and thanks for having me on Troy. I really appreciate it.

Really good there to catch up with Jr. A guy who I look up to who is one of these people that I've had on the show. So, um, who fits into that same category of someone that I haven't talked to in awhile, but is not someone that I need to talk to. Um, all the time to know that I care about them, that they care about me.

I think Jr will kind of always have a bond from that summer that we spent together. And then even beyond that summer, I was working for all many student media. And so I would see Jr at UAlbany football games, basketball games, I would see him at valley casks games and at the Saratoga race track. And so, uh, he means a lot to me.

He's been extremely influential in my career. And it's so fun seeing now that, you know, we're both professionals at this and it's fun to talk about what we're both doing and how we're doing and about just various life stuff. He's a guy. Uh, whose opinion I really value and I trust in our respect. And it just goes back to that thing.

I talk about all the time about mentorship is important. Talk to people who have been through it more so than you who have more experience than you who know more than you, because that's just so important. He talks to his own mentors as well, and he talks to people around him about decisions he should make.

No one should live in a vacuum. We should always be bouncing things off the people around us and above us. And next to us, that is important. So I do hope that you are able to take away something from that part of the conversation. I personally, um, found great satisfaction in learning about Israel and why it's such a transformative experience.

I have a lot of friends who have gone there. Who speak of that experience so highly, and now I know why after talking to Jr. It's a really good thought experiment thinking about, you know, there's some points where I feel like I'm different and I know like, okay, Troy, you're a white man. You're not different at all.

You're actually as plain Jane as it can be, but there are times where no, I do feel like I'm different. I do feel like I am not like everyone else around me. And so I do feel a. And ostracized because of that sometimes. So I can only imagine when you feel that way for religious reasons and you get made fun of as a kid because kids are cruel and obviously there's the terrible history, um, that predates all of this.

So, uh, I can only imagine what it is like to go your entire life, being bullied and teas and reminded of your heritage, that a lot of people make fun of you for them, that you are proud of. And then to take that to a place where everyone is like you, where everyone is as proud of your heritage as you are, I can imagine how that would be a powerful experience.

So Jr. I'm so glad that you got to do that and got to that for free. I had no idea that the birthright trip was free. So congrats to you Jr. Congrats on all your success. I do hope you are able to get both halves of your dreams. Uh, together so that you can have a full dream. Like the rest of us are trying to piece together.

I do hope you enjoy that episode. If you did enjoy it, please leave the Troy park show a review on apple podcast. Hit me up on the tray Fargo show.com. Slide into my DMS at truly underscored Farkas on Instagram, or as always just send me a pigeon. Like, I don't know where I live, but just send a pigeon, tell it to find me.

And it will find me, I believe in things like that. So I hope you all have a great weekend that you get outside, that you have good, meaningful conversations with friends, perhaps over coffee, over to craft beer. I am an IPA guy. Do something you love. Be with yourself in reflection, be around people you love do shit.

You love. Life is short. Live it up while you can. I'm out for the weekend. I'll talk to you next week. More episodes, more blog posts over on the website. Thank you for being on the journey with me. I'm here with you, right? Alongside getting after it. Talk to you soon.