North Texas Daily

Dedication, early experience pays off for UNT alumnus

Dedication, early experience pays off for UNT alumnus

March 19
22:25 2013

William A. Darnell / Staff Writer

Nights often end after midnight and days are filled with interviews, online posts and frequent radio appearances on ESPN 103.3 FM for UNT alumnus and ESPN Dallas sportswriter Tim MacMahon.

Even his “quasi day-offs” are filled with blog posts, phone calls and emails. On an actual workday, the 2003 UNT graduate’s schedule is determined by the Dallas sports teams he covers – the Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers.

MacMahon, 36, began his journalism career at UNT where he majored in broadcast journalism. He spent one and a half semesters writing for the North Texas Daily sports section before embarking on an opportunity that led to his four-year senior year, which he described as his “senior era.”

“Richard Durrett was the sports editor for the Denton-Record Chronicle and he had seen some of my stuff,” MacMahon said. “I’d gotten to know him a little bit and one day he offered me the ‘can’t turn down’ offer of $7 per hour.”

Durrett, who is now a writer and radio host for ESPN Dallas, said that he hired MacMahon for his work ethic.

“We couldn’t pay a lot, but we needed somebody that would work hard and wanted a chance at a bigger newspaper,” Durrett said. “I had read his work in the NT Daily and he did a great job for us. He’s followed me around ever since.”

Originally the offer was for 12 hours per week part time, but that soon evolved into full time covering North Texas sports, MacMahon said. His new responsibility meant finishing his degree a few classes at a time during summers.

Steven Bartolotta, assistant sports information director at UNT, described MacMahon as relentless in pursuing his degree while maintaining full-time status at the Denton-Record Chronicle.

Bartolotta and MacMahon were supposed to be a radio broadcast partners for high school football when MacMahon shared surprising news.

“We went to Pancho’s near campus, and right when we were getting to the register to pay he said, ‘Whoa wait, listen, I’m paying for it,’” Bartolotta said. “He had gotten the job offer at the Chronicle and wouldn’t be able to do the radio show with me.”

After three years at the DRC, MacMahon spent the next six years at the Dallas Morning News covering a wide variety of sports including high school, college and professional teams.

MacMahon left the Dallas Morning News with his sports editor and a few colleagues at the inception of ESPN Dallas – a job he said he enjoys because it gives him the platform to try different things, like radio.

Covering the 2011 NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat was the highlight of his career, he said, due in part to the Mavericks’ championship being so unexpected. He was one of many who predicted that the Mavericks would lose in the first round of the playoffs.

“It was such a wild ride because that team had so many interesting personalities,” MacMahon said. “You don’t root for teams that you cover, but it was certainly a joy to watch.”

UNT Associate Athletic Director Eric Capper said MacMahon developed this professionalism quickly, starting when he covered UNT athletics for the Denton-Record Chronicle.

“He really established trust and confidence with people in the athletic department,” Capper said. “Nobody was ever fearful that things they told Tim in confidence were going show up in the paper.”

MacMahon fondly remembers seeing the clippings of acclaimed sports writing UNT alumni like Phil Rogers, a baseball writer with the Chicago Tribune, and David Moore, who covers the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News, on the corkboards in the NT Daily offices. After seeing those clippings, he said he aspired to succeed like them.

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