We sat down with Mike Guardabascio and JJ Fiddler at Naples Rib Company after the Press-Telegram layoffs and they broke the news of the emergence of 562 Sports (11:39-48:04) . "Shoot Your Shot" continues to be the official podcast of the countdown to the 2028 Olympics in LA (3:15-6:31) and we took 908 into the future in Iron Sharpens Iron to talk about high school basketball (6:33-10:44). In our favorite segment Good JuJu/Bad JuJu we debate whether Long Beach's own JuJu Smith-Schuster was in the right during his latest action in the news (50:18-54:38). As always we ended the show with the 908 Athlete of the Week. This week is former Poly Jackrabbit and current Santa Clara basketball player KJ Feagin (54:39-59:19).
Mike Guardabascio and JJ Fiddler Q&A
We sat down with Mike Guardabascio and JJ Fiddler at Naples Rib Company and they explain what happened to local prep sports coverage.
Q: What’s more iconic the beard or the fedora?
A: The beard is original. The beard doesn’t come off. It’s in on there and I get to switch mine up every day.
One time I grew a beard since my freshman year in college and I have one time since then just shaved my face off and my own family members did not know who I was.
Q: Everyone wants to know the news that went down with PT, can we give a quick breakdown of what happened?
A: I think first and foremost it was not just us and we weren’t singled out. The Southern California News Group is the company that owns 11 newspapers in Southern California. The Southern California News Group is owned by a hedge fund called Alden Global Capital. The other thing I would emphasize aside from the fact us not being singled out it’s also not the decision of anyone who we worked with who wanted to do this. All eleven of those papers lost sports writers and of the ten of those papers they were prep sports writers. It’s a full scale cut down of local sports coverage. The Monday of the week we got laid off all but two photographers were laid off from The Breeze and the Press Telegram.
Q: How much notice did you have?
A: We had a little bit of a head start very early in January that there were going to be some cuts. The conference call company-wide across all the different papers to say we’re going to be laying off a lot of people and it’s going to be a third of staff at all the different papers they own. That call was at 2 p.m. on a Friday and JJ got married at 5 p.m. on Saturday. So we did the conference call. He wasn’t on the call thank God. He was getting ready to get married, I was on the call and texted him and I was like “yep.” Then the next morning me and Tyler and a lot of the guys we worked with over the years were all on the road up there and we had a great two days of not thinking about it and I drove back down and was like, “well I guess we got to deal with it.” That Wednesday at 5 p.m. we hadn’t heard anything so we called the sports editor of the SoCal News Group and were like, “what’s going on?” We figured one of us were going to go but we thought it was just going to be one of us and he was like, “I’m really sorry to say it but you’re both going to be gone.”
Q: Can you guys explain how the PT laid you off and how that works with the Grunion Gazette?
A: When we first started this thing it was hey let’s do a sports website in Long Beach no one is doing that and the Press Telegram at the time was a fledgling local sports page. It didn’t really have much and every time we had a story we were like why aren’t they doing this. We were doing a podcast as well and then we went to the Long Beach Post and worked with them for a while and then we went to the Gazette. Now the Gazette and the Press-Telegram are both owned by that Southern California News Group. Hopefully that answers the question to people because they are owned by the same company. To answer your question though they are owned by the same company and we filled both sections with original content.
Q: Do you guys have a number of the people who unsubscribed to the Press Telegram?
A: No we don’t but we heard it was a lot of people.
Q: What does the future look like now?
A: The 562, we are going to be look directly at the 562. We going back as kind of an old school thing and going back to the way it was after kind of travelling the whole circle. We started covering the Moore League, St. Anthony, Long Beach State and LBCC we then moved to the Press-Telegram where that mapped grew three times and now we’re going back to the Moore League, St. Anthony, LBCC and Long Beach State. The plan is an independent sports website called the562.org.
Q: Are you setting this up originally like a non-profit?
A: We are not really sure how we are going to put it together. The issue with doing a non-profit is it takes a lot of time and we’re trying to act on the energy we are feeling right now and not trying to bring that back in a couple of months. There is a bunch of different status’ for cooperation’s that we are looking into, you can set up as a benefit corporation which is a private business. So somewhere between a non-profit and a private business.
Q: The PT covered the Poly v Lakewood game last night, who’s doing that?
A: We’re not going to call anybody out because it obviously is not their fault. They didn’t have anything to do with this situation but it’s a freelancer. I would say the most unfair thing about this aside from the way we feel personally is anyone that is reachable it is not their fault. It’s not our old boss’s fault, it’s not the fault of the people who being sent in there as freelancers to cover the occasional high school game. It’s just the hedge fund corporate ownership model coming top down and coming through and taking 33 percent of the staff out.
Q: What kind of hedge fund is investing in local newspapers?
A: The ownership of the Press-Telegram and the Gazette and all these other papers in the SoCal News Group a conglomerate is Alden Global Capital and if you go read on thenation.com, if you go read their story about the main guy at Alden Global Capital it’s a real estate mogul who cut these newspapers nationwide because he is trying to buy a whole street in Florida.
Q: Is Long Beach State basketball going to win the Big West this season?
A: Absolutely. Now hold on, are they going to win the Big West conference? No, but they have a really good shot at winning the tournament. The schedule is tough they have to go to Fullerton, go to Santa Barbara, they got to play Irvine on Wednesday their big games, their tough games, are in front of them and they got all of it to play for. That is tough to do that with the thin squad that they have.
Q: Why is Moore League basketball so wild?
A: No big men to stabilize anything.