The Press Box Q&A: Matt McKay & Judd Spicer
Surf & Turf Golf: Matt McKay & Judd Spicer Q&A
The Press Box on ESPN 103.9-FM Palm Springs – Co-hosts Matt McKay and Judd Spicer
Since the spring of 2018, Surf & Turf Golf and The Press Box radio show on ESPN 103.9-FM Palm Springs have shared a simpatico, on-air tee time from 4-5 p.m. weekdays.
Echoing a vision akin that the game should be a one of inclusion, relationship-building and positive outdoor fun, S&T front man Taylor Artman and Press Box co-host's Matt McKay and Judd Spicer swing onward with a partnership that advances the brand and introduces listeners to S&T partners and ambassadors.
Along with Taylor, S&T stablemates Mikel Martinson, Savannah Vilaubi, Alex "Philly Fresh" Phillips and Gary DeSerrano have all been on-air guests.
As for Matt and Judd: Together, The Press Box boys are both longtime, award-winning golf writers; each is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America; and, collectively, Matt and Judd have published over 5,000 articles.
Putting down the respective microphones and pens, The Press Box fellas are this month's newsletter Q&A subjects.
When you started broadcasting weekdays, what did you hope to achieve?
Judd Spicer: Well, to backtrack just a bit, when I moved to the desert in 2011, Matty had a Sunday morning radio show in Palm Springs called "The Elevated Tee." I started contributing on occasion as "Correspondent at Large," before that grew into regular appearances. In years following, we started The Press Box on an alternate station, mixing sport and society topics with a golf-centric tenor. We've now been working weekdays for almost three years together, and it's my hope that we've carved out a SoCal niche; while golf remains very much at the core of our program, I think we take on a lot of sport-driven subject matters – race, politics, music – that belies most radio shows.
Matt McKay: Together with my partner Judd Spicer, I hoped to create a haven for people who want to get caught up on their sports day without being irritated, worn out, yelled at, or having their intelligence challenged by overbearing or irreverent personalities. I wanted to create a space where folks could tune in to a sports talk program and hear opinions they haven't yet heard, or perspectives they hadn't yet considered. In other words, a sports program for cool people, by cool people.
Have you achieved that yet?
J.S.: We're getting there. The desert is still a smaller-to-mid-sized market, but one that's getting bigger every year. As the Palm Springs' area expands with more people and more events, I'd like to think, brick-by-brick, that our listenership has grown in-kind.
M.M: Yes. It happens every afternoon at 4 p.m. Pacific on 103.9 ESPN in Palm Springs, CA.
Best Press Box guest (to-date)?
M.M: Rick Reilly was good, and didn't hold back in his criticism of the current president. Super Dave Osborne was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoy talking soccer with Max Bretos of LAFC. I really dig Alanna Rizzo, not only for her Dodgers' knowledge, but because of her charity, Guidry's Guardians. But I'd have to say my favorite is Brittany Lincicome. She's been on a couple of times, and I've visited with her previously, and each time it's like talking with an old classmate, or a girl from the neighborhood I grew up in.
J.S.: Tough call, as 2019 into early 2020 has had a real hit list. A recent guest that I certainly remember is Karen Crouse of the New York Times; we generally limit guest appearances to about 10-minutes, but she went on a serious, impassioned rant about women's golf and we let her run, like, almost 24 minutes.
Care to share the worst guest?
M.M: Since Judd and I book and approve the guests, if the guest isn't stellar, there's only two people to blame. And if the guest doesn't perform, or is uncomfortable, that's our fault, too. So, I suppose the short answer is - no, I don't have one to share.
J.S.: I'll just say this – it drives me nuts when scheduled guests miss their time window with some excuse or another. With a one-hour show, that turns our production schedule in a real domino. To that effect, we both really dig Lizette Salas . . . but, some months' back, she stood us up two days in a row.
How much time does it take to prepare a one-hour show?
M.M: Prep never ends. You're never off the clock. When the red light comes on in the studio, it's our responsibility to account for, and unpack, the top sports stories that have broken since the last time we visited with our listeners. So the flow of information, observation of sports events, consideration of potential guests, even ideas for bumper music...it never really stops.
J.S.: Between prep, research, social media, driving to the station and pre-show work, it's a good three hours of getting everything in its place.
You've played golf all over the world. Where does Palm Springs chart for you as a golf destination?
M.M: It's one of the best in the world, let's not kid ourselves. If we live here, or are born and raised here, we can become blind to that. But if you stood at the airport baggage carousel one day in January and watched the thousands of golf bags come sliding off, you'd be reminded that this is a dream destination for golfers from around the world. If we play golf anywhere else, and mention we're from Palm Springs, folks from Arizona to Zanzibar know what that means. In a former life, when I was invited here to play, I knew it was always a special treat not to be missed. Lastly, if you could play any course in this valley any time you wanted, would you ever play anywhere else?
J.S.: I'm biased, of course, but its way, way up there. We've both had the privilege and pleasure of playing golf globally, so, for me, it's tough to beat either an awesome experience I had a few years' back in South Carolina, or (more bias) the Northwood's golf of my native Minnesota. And my trip to Ireland in the recent past still probably tops them all. So, put me down for the desert as No. 4.
Greatest golf course you've ever played is:
J.S.: Interlachen Country Club in Minneapolis; classic Donald Ross design.
M.M: Pebble Beach Golf Links (Pebble Beach, CA), Cypress Point Golf Club (Pebble Beach, CA), and Sand Hills Golf Club (Mullen, NE) - flip a three-sided coin...
Do you have a favorite memory or moment relating to Surf & Turf Golf?
M.M: I won't forget how genuinely thrilled I was when I returned to Oklahoma City in the summer of 2019 for my 40-year Class Reunion (Go fighting Patriots win for Putnam West), and almost jumped up and down with happiness when I saw a substantial S&T display at venerable old Lincoln Park Golf Course. I knew, based on the company's roots, it was probably more exotic to see S&T goods in California than the Oklahoma-Texas area. But to see with my own eyes S&T was occupying significant shelf space nationwide was very exciting. And those Oklahomans can use all the style S&T can produce for them (insert laughing emoji here)!
J.S.: Honestly, since we've worked with S&T, I've had, like, probably 200 people ask me about the lid I'm wearing on a given day. But, most notably, I vividly recall working the debut 3M Open back in the Twin Cities in the summer of 2019, and seeing, in this mass of golf and people, what tuned out to be one of S&T's founders wearing the 'board and pin logo; we instantly got to chatting as I walked up to him and just pointed at my own hat.
What, in your mind, would qualify as a moment when S&T hits the big time?
M.M: When an S&T hat is approaching the 11th tee at Augusta National on Sunday at The Masters. Warn the administrators - on that day, the website will crash under the weight of orders and interest.
J.S.: We've talked about this on the show with Taylor several times, and I think we're kinda' in concert that seeing a PGA Tour winner with a Surf & Turf lid on his dome would be huge.