Greg and I connected via social media around the time of the 2018 NHL All-Star Game happening in Tampa. It was perfect timing, as I was able to see all the great content he was putting out that weekend. You see, Greg is the In-Arena Host of the Tampa Bay Lightning and has been since 2006. Greg hosted the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, various NCAA Basketball and Hockey Championships and was an on-air radio host for a decade before he started with the Lightning, a perfect guy to talk to if you’re interested in hosting or working in broadcasting. Here’s his story and advice for those looking for success in the media industry.
Taylor Shold: Tell us a little about yourself, who you are and what you do?
Greg Wolf: I am a graduate of The University of South Florida (Mass Communications), having been involved in the Tampa music scene since 1995. Always had a love for hip-hop music. Felt that it was very influential in my early years. I was able to lock a spot as a music writer in college for a local hip-hop magazine, simply doing music reviews. Loved being able to represent my city, even if it was just something as small as a contributing writer. That soon lead to an internship on a local morning radio show (Hooters on the Radio, yes THAT Hooters brand), which lead me to an opportunity to host my own weekend radio show. It was on the AM dial (760 WBDN-AM), but, it didn’t matter to me. I had earned an opportunity and I ran with it. The show was focused solely on the City of Tampa, the music scene, clubs, pop culture, DJ’s, etc. It was a short stint, but it was the springboard to what would be a thriving radio career. It was not long after that I was able to secure a gig at Tampa Bay’s Party Station, WiLD 98.7 FM (now WiLD 94.1). Starting out as a street teamer (promotions), I worked my way up through the promotions ranks, becoming Assistant Promotions Director within two years. From there, I leaped into a full-time on-air gig and quickly became the #1 Arbitron (now Nielson) rated night show in Tampa Bay for seven years straight. Hard work and dedication truly pays off.
In 2006, I made the jump into bigger arenas and served as Marketing Director & In-Arena Host for the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), until 2009. In 09’, I was snatched up by Clear Channel Radio (now iHeartRadio/iHeartMedia) to take over the role as Promotions Director for 95.7 The Beat, Tampa Bay’s Hip-Hop and R&B station, as well as Tampa Bay’s Sports Radio 620 WDAE & News Radio 970 WFLA. During my time at iHeartRadio, I returned to serve as the In-Arena Host for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and also for the Arena Football League’s, Tampa Bay Storm (AFL). I also took on that same role for the University of South Florida’s Football, Basketball & Hockey Programs (NCAA) and continue all of those duties to this day. I left my role at iHeart in February 2016 as I decided to step aside from the radio marketing world to focus 100% on my dream, my own company: Street Laced Marketing & Promotions. There is nothing better or more rewarding than owning your own company and building your own brand, because there is NO limit to the success you can have.
Taylor: SMG is all about networking, how has it helped your career?
Greg: Networking is primarily the reason why I was able to leave a corporate job and go out on my own. It is INVALUABLE. Being able to connect with like-minded individuals, former clients or colleagues, those in your industry or even those outside your industry, are all potential resources that could help you further your goals. A simple conversation with an industry professional could help answer tons of questions you have, which can give you a better vision or understanding on what you’re trying to achieve. I have never burned any bridges in my career because you never know when you may need to cross that bridge again. I’ve even been able to secure work from former employers or companies that I have worked for because my company offers resources they may not have. They know the value, work ethic and the results that my company attains, so they feel confident going with us. It’s because of the relationships, the networking and staying in contact with those individuals which can lead to your next opportunity. Always get someone’s business card when you meet them. You may not need it now, but when you do come across an opportunity and suddenly remember a conversation you had with that certain someone about that very same topic, that card will be a valuable resource. It’s always GREAT to follow up with someone too after you have met them. They could be of assistance someday. A quick thank you email always does the trick. Connect with them too on social media, as it’s another great was to stay in contact and keep up to date on the latest.
Taylor: A lot of our readers would love to become In-Game Hosts what’s the best way to stand out when applying for a job like yours?
Greg: I was fortunate enough to kind of fall into the role, I never really had to apply to the In-Game Host for the Lightning. One night back in 2007, when I was in Marketing for the team, I overheard the VP of Marketing talking to the Director of Game Presentation about a dilemma he had that night. Back then, the Lightning had two hosts, Todd and Jenny. They would alternate nights, or sometimes would work together. It just happened to be on that night, Todd was out of town and Jenny had a family emergency. They had no host, just three hours before game time. With my background in radio, having no issues in front of large crowds, understanding the importance of client messaging and integration, and knowing how to fire people up, I mentioned to the gentleman that I was ready to help and would do whatever they needed to make things go smoothly. They didn’t have much choice I guess, so they put me in. And I rocked it! It wasn’t soon after that the team put me in the role full time. Taking that chance and running with it is what lead me to the role I am still in today. I know typically, it doesn’t always happen this way.
My only advice for those trying to stand out is really just BE YOU.
People want originality. It’s OK to be different, but people can pick up on fake or if you’re trying too hard.
Do your research. Know the team you’re interested in backwards and forwards. Pronounce names properly. Know their nicknames. Be creative and fun. If you’re having a good time and genuinely want to be there, it resonates with fans. They feel the same way you do.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. A few years back, I tried out for the hosting gig for the Tampa Bay Rays. Not because I thought I was going to get the gig, but because I wanted to test myself in that particular situation.
And I am super glad I did. It was a great experience.
The VP of Game Operations put me on the spot during the audition and said “I’d like for you to come up with your own in-game contest or promotion and execute it right now with my interns, as if it was a game night”.
I was prepared. I knew things about the players. I knew exactly what an in-game contest was.
I managed to come up with the Evan Longoria Air Drums Dual (As Rays fans know that Longo is an avid player of the drums).
To throw another wrench into the fold, the Rays at that time were having their entire scoreboard replaced so there was no way to play music or watch video. So, again, thinking on my toes, I was able to pull up YouTube on my phone, find Twisted Sister “Were Not Gonna Take It” and use the microphone held up to the phone speaker to rock the music. The two interns were off and drumming and I interjected with comments as it unfolded.
The Game Op’s crew laughed, chose their favorite contestant (crowd applause) and absolutely loved it. It was awesome.
At the end of the day, I didn’t get the gig and I was OK with that because I was really there for the experience.
And, I ended up landing the USF job the same year. You should always take any opportunity that comes your way, regardless if you think you may land it or not.
The more experience you have, the better you will get. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations sometimes. Get outside your comfort zone, otherwise, how will you ever know what you are truly capable of?
Taylor: What makes a really great In-Game Host, how can people get better at it?
Greg: I think the best in-game hosts are the ones who really are fans, FIRST. I tell people all the time that I can’t believe I get paid to do what I do, because it’s not work to me. I love the Lightning. Have been a fan since their conception. I love my alma mater too. I can absolutely relate to the fans. I feel the same emotions they do during a game. I am fully invested in the game as much as they are. And it comes across as such on camera. The only way you’re ever going to feel comfortable on camera is to forget the camera is even there. It’s not about the camera; it’s about you being in the moment and focusing your attention on that. Coming from radio, I’ve had years and years of experience with regards to interviews, being on camera and being in front of massive crowds. It just comes naturally to me because of the experiences I have had. The best way to get comfortable is to PRACTICE. That goes with anything in life.
Taylor: What is your best advice for those who want a career on-camera or in front of an audience?
Greg: You truly need to have a passion for what you do. Otherwise, why are you doing it? For the paycheck? That will get old fast. You need to love what you do. If being in front of the camera is your dream, then take any and every opportunity you can that puts you in front of crowd. Charity events. Community events. Fundraisers. Volunteer. Even if you need to do the announcing for a youth soccer game, do whatever you can to get the extra work.
I rarely turn down any opportunity that comes my way. Whether it’s paid or not. You never know when one opportunity is going to lead to another. I host charity events all the time and networking at those events has led to paid work for my company, in other facets. Hosting games for USF hockey has led to me taking on the same role for Team USA Women’s National Hockey Team this year during their training for the 2018 Olympics. All because I made myself visible and never turned down the opportunities leading up to that.
You can find Greg on Twitter @3rdLegGreg
MUST READ: So You Want To Be On TV?
For more great articles, features and job postings, follow us on Twitter @SholdMediaGroup
Join Shold Media Group
Joining the Shold Media Group and getting connected with other young media professionals is simple. All you need to do is ‘LIKE’ SMG on Facebook and ‘Follow’ SMG on Twitter. Once you do that, you’ll have all the great articles, videos, event invites and much more delivered right to you. Click the links below to Join.