By Amanda Belo
John Phillips is somewhat of a mastermind in creating and hosting a successful radio show that brings together an unusual pair. Courts and Sports combines Phillips’ two biggest passions – sports and law – and this licensed attorney and professional sports agent plans to continue the show’s success on the airwaves at its new radio home.
Courts and Sports began airing on WOKV-AM and its simulcast, WOKV-FM, in Jacksonville, Fla. on Jan. 3. With an enthusiasm for sports radio and helping people, the radio show gives Phillips a platform to express those interests.
“It’s fun being able to help someone with their problems anonymously and bring some personalization back to the legal world,” Phillips said.
Phillips regards listener call-ins a vital segment of the show. It illustrates his goal to connect with Courts and Sports listeners, and educate them in a way they identify with.
“We try to answer listener questions in regards to any legal issues, but we’re not your regular legal call-in show since we often add in analogies with the sports world,” said Phillips. “When they understand what battery is because we have described it in a sports context, then people seem to apply it better.”
The show was formerly known as Sports and Courts and previously aired on WJXL-AMuntil December 2011. The name change is a result of the two stations’ differing formats.
“[WJXL-AM] was an ESPN affiliate, and now we are on more of a mainstream talk radio station,” Phillips stated. “Also, I know more about courts than sports.”
Phillips is happy with the way things have been going over at WOKV-AM. “The stations are like night and day,” he chimed. “We have the ability to get better guests and have better [show] production.”
WOKV-AM is also a part of Cox Radio, Inc. and has additional backing on behalf of the show, he said. “You have more support on a national level with the station being owned by a media conglomerate.”
To make the show more accessible and comprehensive, Courts and Sports features commentary and advice from a variety of field experts. Anyone from former federal agents, like Robert Mazur and Jack Trimarco, to sports medicine practitioners and legal professionals are featured. Professional athletes are also a staple on the show, including co-host Rashad Jennings of National Football League (NFL) team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jennings is essentially the sports half of Courts and Sports and provides professional sports insight to the show. Phillips said the show also helps train athletes – indirectly – for a career outside of sports while they are still active, so that transition is easier.
Phillips strives to make the sports topics more widely applicable, and said that athletic coverage can be multi-layered. “People want to be able to relate with what they are hearing on the radio.” He used Peyton Manning, NFL Indianapolis Colts quarterback, and his injury story this past season as an example.
“[Sports fans] want to understand not just what his stats were, but what’s going on with him, why he isn’t playing, what a cervical fusion is and how it’s affecting him,” he said. Jennings spoke to listeners about Manning’s type of injury with a discussion that delved deeper into more than just surface conversation.
This leads into Courts and Sports’ concept of creating a more humanized aspect to the show. Besides the interaction the show provides through the listener call-in segment on legal help, the program looks at athletes less as idols, and more as regular people.
“There are lessons to be learned from people that many consider role models, and that’s where we have to break down the bridge between professional athletes and Regular Joe,” Phillips said.
Internet radio is prevalent, which is why Phillips has made sure the show is available on and off the dial. He praises what digital media can do for traditional communication in terms of coverage.
“It expands what was generally on an AM/FM bandwidth locally, to the world. It is something that has never been accessible,” he said.
On the other hand, digital media has brought challenges. Particularly, the effect technology has had on the ability to focus on one thing for an extended amount of time. “The attention span is getting shorter and shorter… nobody does just one thing anymore. That’s the bad side of digital media.”
Phillips finds podcasting to be one solution that listeners can utilize to tune into the show on their own terms. “When people are paying attention, they can hear all 20 shows if they want to. If they want to tune in and listen five minutes on their way to wherever, they have that option too.”
Phillips is open to pitches, story ideas and guests for future shows. He says to keep in mind that ideas should be relevant to the show covering sports, sports health and medicine, legal topics, or all.
Courts and Sports broadcasts live, Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. EST. on WOKV-AM and WOKV-FM.