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Imagined – And Realized
By Tony McClean, Editor-In-Chief, Emeritus
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
– John Lennon
NEW HAVEN (BASN) — That classic line from the late Beatles’ song “Imagine” has been uttered and repeated for many years. However, its message and impact has never touched me more than it has the past few days.
The sudden passing of my friend and colleague Roland Rogers, the CEO of the Black Athlete Sports Network, has left many of us who either worked with or had him touch our lives feeling very sad. I’ve been very blessed to work with many talented folks over the years while in the sports media business.
Roland was no exception. In many ways, he set himself apart from anyone who I called my boss.
I first joined BASN way back in 2002 just after one of my many journeys while surfing the net. However, I never thought that over a decade later, the impact and interactions that had with so many during my time at “The Soul of Sports” would still be felt to this very day.
I wasn’t one of the original folks that started BASN back in the day. However, I definitely believed in the site’s basic mantra. Roland wanted BASN to be “the definitive place on the Internet to find coverage of Black athletes and Black involvement in sports at all levels”.
He had me at that statement. When he would later give me with the title of Editor In Chief of the site, I was humbled and honored. The fact that he entrusted me with his vision and the direction of the site was one of the greatest gifts bestowed upon me.
Now it was always cookies and cream. Yes, we had our differences. Yes, we would bark at each other at times. But it was never out of lack of love or respect for each other. We all had the same basic vision, but we had different ways of reaching it.
Roland was a man who wore many hats. Many of you may or may not know that he had several ventures into politics while serving at BASN. He would many several runs as Mayor of New York City because of his displeasure with Mayor Bloomberg and his policies.
The mayoral runs spoke to Roland’s passion about issues within the black community. When Roland had a cause he believed in, he went after it full blast. Nothing ever seemed impossible to him. It goes back to the Lennon line I spoke of previously.
Roland always dreamed of doing things big. I feel it was his strength and his weakness at times.
Many colleagues reading this will long remember the seemingly endless meetings within and outside the staff. The times when Roland was “working on some stuff” that never seemed to come to fruition. The projects that had good intentions, but were either forgotten or not pursued.
One such project that did get started, but of a small level was “BASN Radio”. Roland was looking for this to be a 24-hour sports network — similar to the 24-hour radio stations in New York (WFAN), Chicago (WMVP), and Los Angeles (KSPN).
It was ambitious. But with a staff of barely 20 folks, it was just impossible to cover the shifts.
It did however spawn three shows that still exist to this very day. “The Batchelor Pad” (hosted by myself and L.A. Batchelor), “Soul Tree Radio: In The Raw” (hosted by Michael-Louis Ingram) originally called “The Sports M.C.’s” was another, and “The Gray Leopard Cove” (hosted by Gary Norris Gray).
All three of these shows still follow Roland’s basic mantra in being “the definitive place on the Internet to find coverage of Black athletes and Black involvement in sports at all levels”. In many ways because of these shows, Roland’s dream still lives.
When I left BASN, I left on a good note. There was no bitterness. In fact, the last time I talked to Roland, I was razzing him about his beloved Bills. We also talked (or should I say whined) about the present situation with our Mets.
All in all, the thing I’ll always remember about Roland was his passion and his desire to venture into so many things. Again, I go back to the Lennon line which in retrospect really speaks to the kind of person that Roland was.
As I’ve told many of my BASN colleagues, I will do anything and everything in my power to Roland’s dream alive. Because he believed so much in me, I feel that I owe this to him, his family, and his lasting legacy.
Rest in Peace, my friend. You have and will be missed by us all.