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Mike Janela

603. NY Mets sportscaster Mike Janela always prepares

Before Mike Janela was born, he already was a fan of the New York Mets baseball team. 

“My dad used to read me box scores when I was in my mom’s belly,” he jokes. It’s a natural-born fandom that has served Janela well, paving the way for a career as a multimedia host, producer, writer and interviewer for the Mets. 

Like plenty of kids, Janela dreamed of one day playing professional baseball; like plenty of kids, that dream became unreachable at a young age. “Pretty early on, around 7- or 8-years old, I realized that was not going to happen. I was too slow, I was too short, too uncoordinated, too unathletic. It wasn’t happening. I still loved sports so much.” 

Janela recalls watching a baseball game and hearing a broadcaster talk about how lucky he felt, being paid to watch every game, a comment that stayed with him.

After studying journalism and broadcasting, Janela graduated from Syracuse University, landing  a job in 2016 with the San Diego Padres for Fox Sports San Diego called the Padres Social Hour.

“Every show was live. We were taking tweets throughout the show. We had our hashtag. People would be able to give their opinions. Some of the most popular segments were the ones where we’d say, ‘Hey, send us your thoughts.’ That would get more pop-up than us breaking down last night’s game, the xs and os, or talking about strategy. That was the first time I saw, OK, this is what we’re going to have to do.” 

Gone are the days — mostly — where fans are passive participants, only listening to sportscasters giving their opinion and analysis about their team. “Now fans want to be involved,” Janela says. “They think their opinions are just as valid. It’s their right to be able to speak that way, especially nowadays when anyone can start a podcast or a livestream. What has ended up shifting, even in the 20 years I’ve been doing this, is you have to involve the fan for the best engagement.” 

What sets Janela apart from the average fan is the access afforded him through his job and credentials. “I can take the fan to a part of the stadium that the public doesn’t have access to, or I can get an exclusive sit-down interview with a member of the team’s front office, or a celebrity that is not doing interviews with everybody. That still has the benefit of ‘I’m tuning in to Mike because Mike’s giving me access to something I can’t get on my own.’ Having the opportunity to comment on a Facebook livestream or join in live on a Twitter Spaces or on Instagram live, I think to really connect with people, you have to have that element to it so now it’s a two-way street.” 

Janela also works with up-and-coming reporters and broadcasters, helping them understand the best way to sound casual and have fun in these conversations is to over-prepare for them. 

“It’s contradictory and a weird thing: You don’t want to sound over-prepared or robotic in this but you need to be over-prepared,” he says. “It’s a needle you have to thread. The reason I prepare so much is so I don’t have to be so rigid and robotic and I can be freer. It’s almost a freedom by discipline. … If you do prepare, then you can have a conversation where you can just talk with somebody or just talk about something and it doesn’t feel like you’re ticking boxes or going through a checklist. My dream is to prepare 100 percent knowledge to only use 10 percent of it. I don’t want to have to use everything, but I want the opportunity to take something wherever I need to take it.” 

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