Many Boca teens his age are in the process of deciding which college to attend. Joey Brander is deciding which athlete to feature on his weekly sports radio show.
“I never wanted to be a doctor or a fireman,” says Brander, 17. “I always wanted to be a sportscaster.”
Since Boca Raton magazine first featured him in its November 2009 issue, Brander, now a junior at Saint Andrew’s School, has done everything possible to realize that dream. He’s been the lead anchor for the Global Broadcast Sports Network, a website that delivers sports news from a kid’s perspective. Between 2009 and 2011, he hosted a segment called “Beyond the Game” for the local CBS affiliate. And, now, he has his own weekly radio slot—“The Joey Brander Show”—Sundays at 8 a.m. on ESPN 760.
Brander, who hopes to syndicate his show, says that there’s a reason he’s reaching listeners from ages 16 to 48 with his format. “Sports fans are smart,” he notes. “If you go on the radio and you don’t know what you’re talking about, they’ll know.”
A lifelong sports fanatic, Brander’s first interview was with basketball player Wilt Chamberlain. He was 4 at the time. “I learned how to read from the back of baseball and basketball cards,” Brander says.
Since then, he’s interviewed the likes of Dwyane Wade and Emmitt Smith while covering such events as the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles and the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement. “I’m very happy with my career at this point,” Brander says, “I think I’m pretty versatile since I’ve had experience in many different types of sportscasting.”
Beyond sports journalism, Joey uses his platform to help the community. His nonprofit, “The Joey Brander Foundation: Literacy through Sports,” helps kids in hard socio-economic situations learn the importance of education at a young age. “It shows them that it doesn’t just matter what your performance is on the field,” he says. “It’s how you do in the classroom that comes first.” Brander, who counts his foundation as his greatest achievement yet, knows the importance of helping others. “It doesn’t matter how much you achieve as one person. What you can use that for to help other people is what matters most.”
His goal is to one day work for ESPN at a national level, like his broadcast idol, Stuart Scott. Even though he’s achieved so much at a young age, Brander understands that, to reach that goal, there can be no resting on his laurels. “There’s always something new happening [in sports],” he says. “I’m not waking up in the morning and talking about the same old thing.”
Asked what advice he would give to kids pursuing their passion, Brander says, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re too young to do something or to get started working,” he says. “With the number of years I’ve put in and the sports knowledge I have, I can hang with anyone.”
“The Joey Brander” show airs Sundays at 8 a.m. on ESPN 760 and you can follow his twitter: @JoeyBrander.