Bomani Jones on Highly Questionable: "It's Improvisational"
Jones records both his ESPN radio show, The Right Time With Bomani Jones, and the TV hit he cohosts with Dan Le Batard, Highly Questionable, right inside the Clevelander, the iconic oceanside South Beach hotel.
In other words, Jones spends his workday chilling on Ocean Drive and watching sports.
"Miami is different," he says, laughing. "That's the only way to put it. I live on the Beach and work on the Beach, so I'm perpetually in fantasyland."
That doesn't mean Jones isn't working like a madman, though. His day begins early with conference calls with producers from both programs. After a few hours sketching the shows, the 35-year-old sports journalist spends about an hour shooting Highly Questionable, a show that often seems less about sports and more like a half-hour comedy sketch, before a three-hour shift broadcasting his radio show.
After that, "I pretend like I'm off work, but now they put sports on every damn night, so you're never really off," Jones says.
Not that Jones is complaining. He freely admits he has struck work gold. "Working at the Clevelander," he says, "is a counterintuitive notion." Sure, it can be a distraction: "You're trying to work, and thump, thump, thump," he says, imitating the familiar sound of bass booming from the cars cruising Ocean Drive. "But we're at the Clevelander — that's just how it goes."
Jones was born in Atlanta and raised in Houston. He spent ten years in Durham, North Carolina, working on a PhD in economics at the University of North Carolina before deciding the doctoral work wasn't a great fit. He had already been freelancing for a while, and it "kind of morphed into doing sports journalism, which is an odd turn of events, but that's how it turned out."
In 2013, he moved to Miami full-time and became cohost of Highly Questionable. Anyone who's watched the show — a free-for-all that swings from joking with Le Batard and his dad, Gonzalo, to serious interviews about a range of issues affecting the industry — can see Jones is thriving in the Magic City.
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"When [Dan and I] get there and sit down, neither of us has an idea of what the other is going to say," he says. "To a degree, you could argue it's improvisational."
Working on the show, he says, "isn't really a grind" — it's just three guys "having a good time." If there's any downside to the work, it's the winking acknowledgment that the real star of Highly Questionable is Gonzalo, better known as "Papi."
"For all the work Dan and I have done in this industry, we are absolutely playing second fiddle to a 72-year-old man, and we're good with that," Jones laughs.
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