Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Barstool’s Ultimate Bro Comes Clean

By Chester Baker

The double-life story is a well-known arc. Bruce Wayne goes from Gotham hotshot to Batman. Walter White goes from high school teacher to kingpin in Breaking Bad. But one you may not know involves Fordham and WFUV alum Kevin Clancy, 28, better known by his pseudonym KFC, who went from accountant to writer for Barstool Sports, the largest independently owned blog in the world.

“For at least a good two and a half years, almost three years, I was an accountant and a blogger at the same time,” Clancy said. “I was assigned my work at the beginning of the month and I would have about 10 or 15 tasks to hit. And as long as I did my work, nobody cared.”

After graduating from Fordham in 2007 and earning his MBA, Clancy was able to land a job at a major firm through some connections. Although happy to have a steady paycheck given the tough economic situation of the times, he felt no real connection with the job.

“It was just churning out stuff on Excel all day, every day. I met a lot of great people and it paid well, but as far as getting any satisfaction, there was zero of that.”

Looking for a way to make his days as a “cubicle monkey” more entertaining Clancy created his first blog, “For Sure Not,” in the winter of 2008.

“I was reading every blog I could get my hand on. That was really the first time I even knew of comedy blogs and entertainment blogs,” Clancy said. “I just got so sick of the accounting that I needed some sort of outlet or creative task to keep me busy.”

While writing his blog and becoming acquainted with the websites at the time, Clancy stumbled upon Barstool Sports, which influenced his writing style. For the most part, “For Sure Not” focused on the best of the 1990’s, as Clancy recalled some of his favorite childhood past times such as Nickelodeon’s Guts, Saved By the Bell, and the sort. After running the blog with his friends for a little while, Clancy discovered that Barstool Sports was looking a for a New York City writer to expand its reach. It was then that Clancy reached out Dave Portnoy, the creator of the site, about the possibility of leading the New York City venture.

After a long selection process, Portnoy decided to offer the job to Clancy and another blogger, kmarko. Sharing the responsibilities initially allowed Clancy to keep his accounting job, while transferring his newfound penchant for blogging over to Barstool.

Over the next few years Clancy led his double life as accountant and blogger, while only one person at his firm discovered his secret identity. Eventually, however, the toll of commuting to work every day and focusing on something for which he had no passion took its toll on Clancy. Fortunately for him, at the time he was ready to make the jump to full time blogger Barstool was reaching the height of its popularity.

“Once I was sure that it was going to be a stable career move I pulled the trigger. I was going nowhere at my firm. 75 percent of my attention was going to the blog and I was doing the bare minimum towards the end. I’m sure they were happy to see me go.”

Despite being blocked from Barstool Sports and being forced to write his blogs in emails and sending them to kmarko to post during his time as an accountant, KFC has kept at it, becoming one of the more recognizable names in the sports blogging field.  Started by Portnoy, known as El Presidente, Barstool has expanded from a small Boston newsletter into a national website, with pages devoted to Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City, which is run by KFC as the Director of Content for Barstool.

The network of sites covers anything from a viral video, to local sports, to nationwide stories, weird events as each writer gives their own unique spin on the topic. For someone who has never seen the site, Clancy has a simple explanation for what to expect.

“I always tell people that it’s right in the name. It’s anything that you would talk about with your buddy while sitting on a barstool watching the game. It’s a localized version for each city of ESPN, Maxim, and TMZ all mixed together.”

This unique blend of sports, women, gossip, and everything in between has allowed the site to gain a fan base known as the “Stoolies”.

Although leaving a stable accounting job during an economic crisis may seem like the type of action that would set off someone’s parents, Clancy was fortunate enough to have a supportive and understanding family.

“As long as I can support myself and I’m happy they’re cool with it,” Clancy said. It comes as a surprise that his wallet did not take a hit after making the jump, as he saw no decrease in salary.

However, writing for a website such as Barstool does have some risk, as many of Clancy’s blogs divulge personal information and content which is not entirely family appropriate. The topic of attractive women comes up frequently on the site, as it is catered towards the “common man”. Barstool’s run in with feminist groups is no secret for anyone who follows the site, and can be read about with a quick Google search. One group of feminists went so far as to form their own organization which called KO Barstool, which is devoted simply to getting the site taken down. Still, Clancy believes that their sarcasm is obvious.

“I think anyone that has a sense of humor can understand what we are doing. If you’re reading our stuff and you think that we mean everything we say, you’re crazy. It’s just like any stand-up comedian that’s pushing the envelope with racist jokes, sexist jokes, prejudice jokes,” Clancy said. “It’s meant as a punny and fake manner. It’s meant to make people laugh. I think anyone else who takes us that seriously, A, can’t understand how the world of humor and joking around works. Or, B, they’ve got an axe to grind and they want to start their own controversy. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a nice dude and not some womanizer.”

Despite some of the controversies surrounding the site, Clancy seems content with his decision to become a blogger, as he is able to indulge in some of his lazier tendencies.

“This past winter, there was a stretch when it was really cold and really nasty and I probably went Monday through Friday [without leaving my apartment],” Clancy said.

Although having the type of job where you can stay inside for an entire week seems easy, the stereotypical perception of the blogger is askew according to Clancy.

“I do more work for Barstool than I ever did as an accountant,” he said. “I don’t have much time to do much else. I wake up and from then on I’m either writing or looking for stories. It’s constantly writing and putting out content 24/7. If something happens at night during a game I have to be near a computer.”

In addition to the work ethic of the bloggers, Clancy also believes the website’s success can be attributed to the amount of content generated as well as to the personalities of the writers, who do not conform to the stereotype of the blogger.

“We’re all motivated dudes. We’re all capable, we’re all smart, we’re all social,” Clancy said. “The reason why I am good at what I do is because I am just your average guy. So in that sense it’s not necessarily a skill to be a Barstool blogger, but you need to be the right type of guy.”

Starting at WFUV his sophomore year at Rose Hill when he was looking to get something more out of his           college experience, Clancy quickly climbed the ranks. While with the station he produced the feature “Life in the Minors,” showcasing the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees, as he attended 76 games in 79 days. In addition to hosting “One-on-One” a few times, he was also called upon to announce some women’s basketball and baseball games. His biggest assignment came in the spring of his junior year, when Clancy went to Florida to cover the Mets spring training, especially cool since he is a lifelong Mets fan.

While covering spring training for your favorite team seems like a dream job for any college student, Clancy soon realized the media world was not everything he had hoped it would be. After a run-in with Mike Piazza, he realized that covering a team meant he could no longer be as big a fan. The combination of writing about sports, making people laugh and still being able to be a fan has been an ideal combination for him.

“As soon as the allure of talking to professional athletes wore off I quickly realized that being a traditional, mainstream media guy was not my scene,” Clancy said. “I can do a little bit of sports talk but also be cracking jokes. That’s why Barstool is perfect for me.”

Clancy has since rekindled his initial interest in radio, starting KFC Radio on Barstool this past summer. Using Google Hangouts, he has been able to create a weekly, live internet show for fans to leave voicemails, discuss hypotheticals with other members of the sites and talk about sports. Normally joined by Boston writer “Feitelberg” and Chicago writer “Big Cat,” the trio has also hosted some guests on the show, including Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears and Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks.

“Whether I even realize it or not I think I learned how to speak a little better on the radio and cover sports a little better,” Clancy said. “Knowing the alumni that came through WFUV motivated me. I see all the names that came there and they are all so established. Just the fact that all those guys came from there and I was doing the same stuff as them gave me more confidence to hopefully maybe be mentioned in the same breath as them. ”

While the motivation has led Clancy down a much different path than some of the other WFUV products, he is carving out a name for himself in his own unique way. As the site continues to grow with hopes of eventually being bought out for a “big-time payday,” being independently owned has allowed the site to produce videos, and launch a string of parties, with the potential to do even more. Due to all these factors, Clancy fully believes in the future of the site.

“I’m Barstool until I die.”


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