A True Champion of New Media
They say, if you want it bad enough, you can get it—you just need to put in the work. Well, Evan Brunell is one of those special people.
A native of Sturbridge, Mass., Brunell has paved his own road to success against pretty steep odds. He founded MVN.com (Most Valuable Network), which was an online sports website, when he was in high school. Unfortunately, in December of 2009, the site had to close down.
“I got into sports at a really early age…My parents put me in sports camps and sports leagues,” Brunell said. Until the age of 10, he attended a private school an hour west of Sturbridge, which gave him a lot of down time. “To pass the time on the bus rides, I read–so I became a sports fan and a reading fan,” he said. For Brunell, reading was the easiest way to gather information because he is profoundly deaf. That means that without his implant, he cannot hear a thing.
Brunell’s younger brother, Cal Brunell said, “when you think about Evan, you think about sports and the Sox.”
Along with MVN, Brunell has a Red Sox blog Firebrand of the American League and a Twitter account. His blog has received praise from several media outlets including ESPNBoston.com and from several well-credentialed writers. “It’s amazing how many club officials read … Fire Brand of the American League,” said Peter Gammons, the former Boston Globe Red Sox beat writer, ESPN baseball expert analyst and three-time National Sports Writer of the year winner.
Brunell said he wasn’t trying to do anything drastic with his websites. “I wanted a voice out there,” he said.
Kyle Banks, a 2009 Northeastern University graduate knew Brunell from way back in junior high through their time as undergraduates. Banks remembers how Brunell’s passion for sports and isn’t at all surprised at how far he’s come. “He always had a love for sports, particularly baseball,” Banks said.
Banks is no stranger to the new wave of Internet media himself. As an undergrad he had a radio show on the school radio station, WRBB, whose call sign is 104.9 FM. The show “Right In My Mouth Radio,” was accompanied with it’s own blog to try and reach a greater audience. Since the show, he and some friends began a new blog project, Corporatethuggin.com, which is a blog that publicly shows what kind of stuff a group of 20 something year old guys e-mail and talk about daily and then their take on the news.
Though the genres of their blogs are completely different, the desire to grow an audience remains the same. Banks said:
“The way the internet has evolved, people go to big named places to get their news.”
Banks said. For news, people go to CNN.com and for sports they’ll log on to ESPN.com.
The concept of small market blogging became popular in the last five to ten years. Banks points out that Brunell started at the right time and found success because he could grow and adapt as technology became a bigger part of news gathering and its dissemination.
It is these new mediums of technology that has made Brunell who is today. “New media opens the playing field so much” said Cal with respect to his older brother. Most of the people following Brunell’s blog didn’t know Brunell was deaf until the local paper published an article pointing out all he has done despite his disability, Cal said. He said he saw that article as a tribute to his brother’s work ethic.
Brunell never uses being deaf as a crutch. To get in touch with the Sox’s newest draft picks for example, Brunell logs on to facebook and quickly becomes their friend. This way, as they make their way through the farm system and become bigger names, he has already established a basis of communication. Brunell said, You’re getting in touch with them when they’re 17 or 18 and they haven’t been jaded yet by the media. This allows him to get in on the ground floor and later on he’s not someone completely new to them, and he think that helps.
Though his first trip to Fenway Park was in 1995 when Mo Vaughn and Jose Canseco were the most popular Red Sox, he truly became a fan the following year, 1996. Brunel said that his passion for the team changed to rabid fan when they traded for Pedro Martinez in 1998.
It’s still tough for Brunell to do what he loves. He can’t just go into the locker room with a tape recorder so he’s a bit of a throw back reporter with a pad of paper and a pen writing down everything.
His disability certainly did not affect his knowledge of sports or his ability to write. “I became a sports writer because growing up liking sports and liking to read and then write, when I was thinking about a career in college I was like, I like sports, I like writing, I may as well write about sports,” he said.
So far, as Brunell puts it:
“My talent has out shown my limitations. Maybe the day will come…but I’ve been able to push through it so far.”
His disability has made Brunell the kind of person who continually looks for new ways of success. Rather than being afraid of new technology like some journalists, Brunell embraces it and takes advantage of every opportunity as soon as they present themselves.
From the moment he got his college e-mail he created a facebook account and he was on Twitter before most people.
Currently Brunell works for NESN. He continues to do what he has always done: read and write. His passion is evident from the moment you meet him. “I define myself as a driven individual who uses all means available to him to do the best job possible,” he said.