10 Questions with ... Artrell Hawkins
May 15, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
After attending University of Cincinnati from 1994-1998, I was drafted in the second round (#43) of the NFL Draft right out of college. I played in the league for 10 years as Defensive Back for the Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots. Upon retirement from the NFL, I called the Clear Channel sports station in Cincinnati, and asked if they had any availability for a semi-articulate, slightly delusional, hardworking ex-football player. The call was successful, and I started working at ESPN Cincinnati doing different shows for two football seasons, including local high school and college coverage for FOX Sports Ohio. I was then hired by the Bengals on their radio network, which I parlayed into my co-host position on FOX Sports Daybreak.
1. What got you into radio at the end of your playing career? Was it always in the plan that you'd slide into broadcasting once you finished your NFL career?
No, it wasn't always the plan. I was a business major in college because I thought with that degree, I could do anything. The first time I thought about getting into broadcasting was in 2007. People have always told me how deep my voice is and that I should do radio, but I never took it seriously. I never saw myself as a guy who could sit behind the mic and talk for hours on end, and actually make sense.
2. You're playing to a national audience on Fox Sports Radio while having been a Cincinnatian for a large part of your playing career, in college and then with the Bengals (and with the Bengals radio network, and your brother on the team). How hard has it been to transition to a national audience? Is it difficult to change your perspective from focusing on local Cincinnati stuff to a more general, national outlook?
Ironically, it's much easier working with a national audience. When you're working locally, you have to find a local spin; you have to create the same stories over and over again, and it's very limiting creatively. With a national audience, you can talk about everything when it comes to content, and it's very fulfilling.
3. I'm asking Andy what the best and worst things are about working with you, so let's turn the tables: What are the best and worst things about working alongside Andy?
The best thing about working with Andy is that he is a pro's pro. He prepares like no one else, and that is very comforting. He spends a good portion of his day reading newspapers, and is brilliant at finding a spin on an article that most people would otherwise miss.
4. There are some former pro athletes hosting sports radio shows, but most of the major hosts are not former players. How would you describe what you bring to the show as a former NFL player -- what does that experience translate to for listeners?
I bring brute credibility to the show. I'm only four years removed from playing, so I still have solid relationships with executives, coaches and players. For listeners, that's important because when they listen to me, they can count on what I say being true. My experience allows me to pull the curtain aside so listeners get a better look into the game.
5. Who are your mentors, influences, and heroes?
The greatest influence in my life, my greatest mentor and my hero is my mom. She is a hard worker, well-adjusted, educated and reliable, and has always demanded the best from me. Because of the accountability she placed on me and my brothers and sisters, we live a better life today. Her method of raising kids is top notch.
6. What's your process -- how do you prepare for each show? What resources do you use?
Venti Black Eye Starbucks is the consistent part of my process. Otherwise, I don't have a set process. Ultimately, I think truth and passion make for great radio. Some days I don't have to do much preparation because I'm very informed on the subject and already have strong opinions. Other times, I get up at 1:30-2:00 a.m. and am in-studio by 2:30 a.m. for the 6:00 a.m. show because I want to do research and improve portions of our show. It's just like being a player - the process is fluid.
7. You're a football guy, but sports radio isn't all football -- what's your favorite of the other sports, and why?
Hands down, my favorite sport outside of football is boxing. I'm a huge Mayweather fan. In addition to MMA sports, I like basketball. Baseball is growing more and more on me as well, but there is nothing like the excitement of a good prize fight. It's almost like a mini Super Bowl. I can really throw myself into the fighters' minds, dodging punches and throwing hooks while watching on the couch at home.
8. Of what are you most proud?
I'm most proud of the fact that I transitioned out of football without any setbacks and I found the professional equivalent of football, sports broadcasting. I'm as excited about radio as I was about football. I work long hours, and I look forward to doing my job, just like when I was a player. I want to win!
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _______________.
...a bath. It's like a staycation - there's something about water. Ironically, I hate to swim; I'm more of a hot tub person. You can get a nice little sweat going and loosen up the joints. It's invigorating!
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten? The worst?
The best advice I've ever received is to know who you are before you get there - that way there's no question.
The worst is: It ain't trick if you got it.