“I’ve always had a passion for sports–playing or watching,” says Jessamy Tang ‘89. Now she has parlayed that passion into a sports industry career as the creator and general manager of ESPN Radio Boston. She’s also co-owner and CEO of its parent company, J Sports Boston.
While an MIT undergraduate studying management, she played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. “The athletics at MIT were really beneficial for the whole student body,” she says. “MIT gives everyone the opportunity to play at the collegiate level.” After MIT, she earned an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and then looked for a way to break into the sports industry.
Her chance came through a job offer from ABC Radio Networks, which was then linked to ESPN through the Walt Disney Company. Tang first worked in marketing and then learned about the radio business, analyzing the operations and finances of ABC stations.
By the time Tang decided she was ready to strike out on her own, she had years of experience in sports radio. She had overseen the strategy and creation of the combined ESPN Radio station and television network business, a joint venture with ABC Radio that offered sports programs in two media. And she had run the Pittsburgh ESPN Radio station.
A Boston native, Tang believed that her home city was a major market for sports radio. She left her job in Pittsburgh to start her own ESPN-affiliated station. It wasn’t easy, but she raised between $10 million and $15 million to purchase and operate two ESPN Radio stations, 89 AM ESPN Boston and 1400 AM ESPN Lowell. She also had to combat the belief that Boston was a parochial sports town with little interest in national sports programming–a belief she is proving wrong.
“I think what makes this unique is not necessarily what I’m doing, but that there are not a lot of women who can raise money in the sports industry,” she says. Indeed, Tang is the first woman to amass private equity to buy a sports radio station.
The only drawback? She says she doesn’t have enough time now to play on the field herself.