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Meet Denny Lennon

Hi Denny, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born and raised in Venice, CA in a big family, which includes the singing stars “The Lennon Sisters”, the famed ring announcer Jimmy Lennon and the band “Venice”. I played, then coached, announced, promoted and administrated sports before turning to video podcasting as a way to tell my story through interviewing interesting sports figures. The aim is to provide unique and uplifting stories through video and audio podcasts, YouTube Live shows and segments as well as documentaries. The Long: As a kid in the 70’s, I was able to watch and meet my boyhood heroes, like the Lakers, Rams and Dodgers. I was most influenced by the legendary teacher and UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, whose work I deeply admired, most of all as a mentor and teacher. I played football, basketball and volleyball in high school, then basketball in college before an injury prompted me to take up coaching, teaching and directing at the school I attended, St. Mark in Venice. In the mid 80’s along with my friends and cousins, I founded what would become a legendary volleyball tournament played in the backyards of Venice, the “VBC” (Venice Backyard Championships).

From my own backyard, I was identified to take over as MC/Announcer of Women’s Pro Beach Volleyball (WPVA) in the late 80’s and into the 90’s, then serve as one of the primary founders of the nation-wide Amateur Athletic Union Beach (AAU) Volleyball program for juniors. From then until 2019, the AAU Beach program grew considerably, I was appointed to the Sullivan Award committee (given to the nations top amateur athlete since 1930) and served as the host for the ceremony this past April. In addition, I was the athletic director and coach for different schools and teams, including the Archer School for Girls for ten years, turning around an underachieving program to become CIF champions. This past year since launching “Sports Stories with Denny Lennon” (SSDL) I have collected all my contacts and resources in order to interview several high profile sports stars and I remain most interested in the “unique and uplifting” stories that only sports can provide. SSDL content is at YouTube.com/SSDL as well as on audio platforms. SSDL “live shows” are syndicated on LA36 and available on Roku, FireTV and Apple TV by downloading the THSN.app (THSN dot app).

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Hmmm…smooth would not be the word I would use, nor would I say it has been a rocky or bumpy road. I look at the SSDL project like a coach, and I have a team that gets better every day and celebrates in victories and learns from defeats. Technology always presents challenges, so we look at those that are at the highest level in our “division” and see what they do and how. Then we get better. Marketing is a good example, we have had some high profile guests and/or relevant stories and didn’t get the “numbers” we expected, so we try and figure out why and improve. One of my guests, Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, a Chief Medical Officer for the Olympics and World Cup, said in our interview that “adversity is the engine of unimagined possibilities” our team likes and thrives off that quote.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As a video and/or audio podcaster, many say you should find a “niche” and build an audience from there. I feel a little different, I think what will build our audience is what me and my team find of interest, and then make a good presentation of that. A typical week might include: Tuesday – We cover, with social and historical perspective, one of the hundreds of sports murals that street artist Jonas Never (@never1959) has created around Los Angeles. Wednesday – Live show (virtual) “Preps to Olympians” where we might have prep columnist Eric Sondheimer from the LA Times give an update on CIF HS sports followed by an interview with 13 years old Track phenom Aliyah Johnson from Texas. Thursday – We drop our signature “video podcast”, which I liken more to a “60 minutes” type long-form interview with post-produced backstory. Deep dive, many times in three or four parts, of people like Norm Bass, Sam Lagana, Jerry West or Karch Kiraly. Friday – Live show (virtual) “Happy Hour” that is fashioned in a “Tonight Show” style, where we once had Laker broadcaster Chris McGee announce HOF ring announcer Jimmy Lennon to the show who in turn announced world boxing champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. That kind of variety, without losing quality, and finding the fun and/or unique story is what sets us apart.

I have interviewed (3) people of significance. NBA Hall of Fame legend and ’the logo” of the NBA, Jerry West, a boyhood hero of mine that I used to pretend to be shooting baskets in my backyard. I also interviewed another boyhood hero, Bob Klein, that played tight end for the ’67 USC national championship team, LA Rams and SD Chargers. Finally, a young athlete that very well may transcend the sport of Womens basketball in the future, Juju Watkins. Juju was named the “Sports Illustrated Kid of the Year” for 2020. We featured Juju on my show last Spring and will be sitting down with her again this Saturday to discuss the “SI” honor and her plans to use her platform to shed light on Women’s basketball.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
First, do the work and read. Reading is an important part of finding and mentoring yourself through the works of others. As a young coach, I looked to the books of UCLA basketball coach John Wooden for his wisdom on how to win. I quickly found that he accomplished so much more as a teacher and mentor. I would not know had I not read his books. I can as easily recite his championship credentials as I can recite his quotes or list the young people he has helped. It is John Wooden as a teacher, in particular with the “Pyramid of Success”, that I have been most influenced by. Second, reach out to others in your field without fear of rejection. When, and if, you are rejected when reaching out to those you might see as a mentor or important part of your network, realize that is more their problem than yours. In fact, you just may have learned that they are not someone you would want to hang with anyway. However, when you do get the “yes”, you just might find what you are looking for.

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Image Credits

Ciena Lennon

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