Stephen A. Smith shows off new podcast studio Photo credit: The Stephen A. Smith Show

Stephen A. Smith bet on himself, knowing the success of his podcast and production company is the best path to the money and relevancy he seeks.

Smith was profiled by Ben Strauss in The Washington Post this week. Inside the feature, ESPN’s foremost personality discussed his desire to be even more relevant than he already is, and earn even more money than he already does. To advance those aspirations, Smith launched his podcast Know Mercy in 2022, rebranding it as The Stephen A. Smith Show and moving it into a new state of the art television studio last year, that he built.

According to the WAPO feature, Smith “spent more than $1.5 million of his own money here, renting the space and buying equipment” to build a studio for his podcast and YouTube show. Launching the show though his production company, Mr. SAS Productions, Smith’s podcast requires a staff of 15 employees who work to produce three episodes a week from his New Jersey studio.

Earlier this year, Smith spoke about the investment he made in his podcast during an appearance on The Howard Stern Show. Stern noted Smith previously called him to discuss the new TV studio he was building with his own money.

“That takes some balls. How much money does it cost?” Stern asked. “That looks like a state of the art television studio and you put up your own money.”

“Close to $2 million,” Smith answered, prompting Stern to ask whether people advised him to find someone else who was willing to put up the money instead of making that massive investment himself.

“Yeah,” Smith told Stern during the January interview. “For me personally, it was just very, very important to me to establish a level of independence… And for me to have my own studio, to be able to build and make the kind of investment in myself, it was a statement per se, just in my mind, that I’m moving on up and I have future aspirations that extend far beyond the corridors of ESPN… and I wanted to send that message and I wanted the world to know that.”

The profile by Strauss furthered those aspirations, writing Smith’s goal is “More audience, more clout, more money,” citing his frequent appearances on cable news networks as examples of growing his brand. A brand that Smith hopes will remain on ESPN when his contract expires next year, but only if they’re willing to make him the network’s highest-paid talent.

“You look at my contemporaries and their ratings compared to my ratings,” Smith said in response to Strauss asking about his desire to be ESPN’s highest-paid personality. “Why ask me when everything — metrically, analytically — says that I should be?”

[The Washington Post]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to