Fox Sports 1’s Katie Nolan has out drank Major League Baseball players, driven a zamboni, and now can say she’s danced on the streets of South by Southwest.
CNNMoney spoke with the 29-year-old host of FS1’s “Garbage Time” at the Texas conference in Austin. We touched on subjects like her bartending sports education, Bill Simmons and why she doesn’t have to be objective (especially when it comes to her Patriots).
Here is the edited version of that conversation.
We’re overlooking the bar district here in Austin. You were once a bartender. How did you go from bar tending to broadcasting your own show?
My mom was a bartender when I was growing up. She would always listen to sports talk radio in the morning because she said it made her a better bartender to be able to engage with people. That’s what got me really into sports. When I was bar tending and talking to people about sports, I was like, “I kind of want to talk to more people at a time,” so I started writing a blog. The blog turned into a video series. Video series turned into a video series that was then on TV, and here we are.
Being objective in sports media is difficult because you are a fan of what you cover. For example, let’s say, you were a fan of an NFL team that may or may not have cheated by, oh I don’t know, deflating footballs…
The number one thing is I’m not afraid to say the truth. I’m a Patriots fan, you’re talking about “Deflategate.” You got to have some balls if you want to do this, man!
Everyone is going to call you a fan if you take the side that the Patriots didn’t do anything wrong, but I stand by that. The Patriots didn’t do anything wrong. Tom Brady forever! I know you’re supposed to be objective when you’re a journalist, which is why I say I’m not a journalist out of respect for the people who are objective and do it properly.
You’re from Massachusetts. You got your start online. You’re outspoken. This has led some to call you the female Bill Simmons. How do you feel about that?
Bill just bought like a, what, $7 million beach house, so I’d love to be the female Bill Simmons. Right now, I am not that. But Bill’s great. I think people compare us because of Boston, because of bartending, because of the internet, so it makes sense. Sure, let’s do it. When I’m the actual female Bill Simmons, I’ll buy you a house.
He tried to hire you but it didn’t work out. What happen there?
I would tell you if I knew, but I had to stay out of it for contract stuff, so I’m not allowed to know. But from what I heard, there was a trade negotiation. Didn’t work out.
Not enough draft picks?
I think so. I think they were trying to get a player to be named later, and it was just too much and they had to bail. I guess that’s good because I was supposed to work for Grantland.
You’re at Fox Sports 1. What are the benefits and the negatives of being at the new Fox Sports 1 compared to the worldwide leader in sports, ESPN?
Wow, you’re just like a ringing endorsement. Are they paying you? “The worldwide leader in sports, ESPN.”
The negatives, I’ll get those out of the way. Obviously, when you’re new, less money, less established audience. We’ve got less, as of right now, rights to sports, so people aren’t turning it on to watch games. They’re not sticking around for studio programming.
The benefits are that I can kind of do what I want and that people in charge at FS1 are really encouraging to be creative and be different and they sort of give me a pretty long leash to go off and do whatever I want to. You hear stories about ESPN and how talent can’t criticize other talent. They can’t say things that are bad about the network. Fox is like, “I mean, if you really feel strongly, say whatever you feel.” I think that’s amazing and it’s going to lead to, in the future as we’re building the network, a better environment for talent.
Where do you see “Garbage Time” evolving into?
Hopefully, the goal is to be on four to five nights a week and be the late night show in sports. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but I haven’t really gotten anywhere in life by not just kind of believing it’s going to happen and going for it anyway.