Brandon Tierney, host of Discovery’s ‘Man vs. Bear,’ breaks down his unpredictable journey from unpaid intern to national broadcaster.
5 min read
As the host of CBS Sports Radio’s nationally-syndicated show Tiki and Tierney, broadcaster Brandon Tierney is no stranger to witnessing raw power and unbridled ferociousness on the playing fields and courts of professional sports. He’s been at it for 20 years, delivering his signature blend of humor and expert analysis as he dissects football, basketball and everything in-between.
After two decades in the business, you would think he’s seen and called it all, but that is far from the case. To wit, his new show, Man Vs. Bear, which features human beings competing against bears (the animals, not the football team) in feats of strength, agility and, yes, eating piles of raw salmon.
Tierney stopped by the Entrepreneur office for an upcoming episode of our new podcast Get a Real Job, to discuss the show (which can be seen Saturdays at 8 p.m. on Discovery) and his career in sports broadcasting. Here are some of the highlights from the conversation, which delved into the passion and sacrifices necessary to achieve your goals — and the survival skills you need when your co-stars weigh 1,400 pounds.
(These quotes have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.)
Be open to possibilities (no matter how crazy they seem)
“Being a broadcaster is a tough road. There’s no blueprint, no map. I was in an Uber going to the NFL draft. I was getting ready to go and do my show out there with Tiki. And, you know, I’m just plowing through e-mails, and I see something from my agency and it’s about a show called Man vs. Bear. And I read the one-sheet premise. I’m like, wow, this is absolutely wild. And then I read the logistics and see it required almost a five-week commitment on site in Utah. And in my mind, I’m like, damn, there’s just no way I can do this. I have a radio show, it’s impossible. But I ignored that. You can’t lose the mindset that you’ll do what you have to do to make it happen. So I went into the audition process thinking, ‘Hey, you know what? If I get this job, I’ll deal with the other stuff after.’ And I got it, and CBS was amazing about working out a schedule that allowed me to do both. It would have been very easy to say, ‘Nah, this is too complicated’ and just drop it.”
Sacrifice and sacrifice some more
“After I graduated from Marist College, I was desperately trying to break into the sports broadcasting business. This was the ’90s. I wrote to every sports radio station from A to Z, in every state from Arizona to Wyoming. And basically nobody responded. Actually, I got excited with rejection letters — just seeing the letterhead from the station was like, ‘Wow, this is cool!’ I finally was able to get a post-graduate internship at WFAN in New York — in the promotions department. And so I’d recruit guys that I worked with to hang out after work and use the equipment to record fake radio shows. And I used those fake show tapes to get on the air — unpaid — on a small college station on Long Island. I eventually got kicked off the station because I wasn’t actually a student there, and I lost money on gas driving out there, but I needed to do it. Nothing was going to stop me.”
Follow what drives you
“Quite frankly, and I knew this about myself, if I didn’t do everything I could to succeed in my career, I wouldn’t have been a good partner at home. I would’ve tried my best, but I would have been conflicted with trying to make it. If you want to go for something like this? Everything else is going to have to be secondary (besides your health and your family.) It’s got to be tunnel vision. I was possessed to get there.”
Do it for the right reasons
“I remember being in my twenties saying, ‘Man, if I could just make $40,000 a year and talk sports for a living, I’ll be the happiest guy in the world.’ And I really would be! That was always my mindset. I was never chasing money. I was chasing what I needed to be.”
Human athletes and giant bears are very, very different
“Our big bear is Bart. He weighs 1,400 pounds. Imagine being in the broadcast booth while Bart is out there. You realize very quickly that you are human prey. Bart might be locked in on a challenge, but he is a bear. He might suddenly smell salmon in the stream 18 miles away and decide to head in that direction. And yes, they can smell fear. So you have to be able to pick up on their cues on what they’re about to do and follow safety protocols. I mean, if one of the bears decides to charge me? That’s it, I’m dead!”