Reported and Photographed by Elizabeth Rechter
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Reported by Louisa Rechter
Photographed by Elizabeth Rechter
If you asked rising television sports personality, Graham Bensinger, how he became successful, he would answer “persistence, ambition and hard work.”
As a St. Louis native, his love for the Cardinals was the catalyst for his thriving career. As a youngster, Graham would rush down to Busch Stadium before games, wait for the team and ask for autographs. It wasn’t the autographs that moved Graham, it was speaking to the players and hearing their stories.
After numerous emails, phone calls and letters, Graham scored interviews with several of the most significant figures in sports and posted them onto a website he developed in middle school. Unlike most kids in their teens, Ernie Banks, Will Clark and Bob Feller were calling the Bensinger residence and sharing their stories while Graham used a handheld recorder against the phone.
Graham’s passion at such a young age caught the attention of local sporting news radio affiliates and ESPN affiliates who were quick to adopt him into their world of sports journalism.
Graham’s career still continues to flourish. Along with conducting interviews with the likes of Muhammad Ali and O.J. Simpson, Graham has also made guest appearances on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and, not to mention, the Playboy Mansion.
During one of his frequent business trips to New York, Y&P met with Graham in Central Park to learn more about his past, present and future in sports television.
Y&P: How did you get to where you are today?
GB: Persistence, ambition, hard-work.
Most of the big name people you get access to, don’t initially say yes, so it’s kind of figuring out unique ways to reach out to them after they say no. If the publicist or agent says no initially, figure out a family member, write a letter and try to get an interview. People like a certain level of persistence but you walk a fine line between being persistent and being obnoxious. I’m getting better at navigating that ::laughs::.
Y&P: How did you get an interview with O.J. Simpson?
GB: I literally called twice a day for a year and a half before he agreed to finally do it. He called me while he was in St. Louis. I was a sophomore [in high school] so I told the school I had a doctor’s appointment and changed in a bathroom by the airport to interview him.
Y&P: What are some of the most fun interviews you’ve ever conducted?
GB: I spent the day at a shoot with Kendra at the Playboy Mansion when she was one of Hef’s girlfriends. It was pretty much everything you would expect it to be. At the end of the day she invited me and two of my best friends from high school to the [Playboy] Mansion for New Year’s Eve. They weren’t at the shoot, but they came anyway.
Another fun interview was with Jim Brown who is arguably one of the best football players that ever lived and also helped pave the way for African Americas actors. FBI spies were tracking him down because they viewed him as a political threat. He hung out with guys like Hugh Hefner, Muhammad Ali, MLK Jr. and Malcolm X.
Y&P: Plans for the future?
GB: I’m hosting a sports television interview series right now where in addition to hosting it, I created the business that independently produces, distributes and handles ad sales for it. Check it out at grahambensinger.com and on various stations across the U.S. It’s in 40 million homes right now and we’re aiming for more!
For more information, visit http://grahambensinger.com/
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Stay tuned, we have more TOP 12 OF 2012 coming up!