WHEN WORD OF THE DEMISE OF THE Dallas Times Herald arrived on a Sunday last December, sportswriter Skip Bayless suddenly found himself without his regular gig—a sports column that had been running almost daily for nearly ten years and that had mustered a spirited following. The next day a devoted fan phoned in to Bayless’ weekday six o’clock radio talk show on KLIF-AM and suggested that even though Bayless no longer had a forum for his snappy viewpoint, he could keep on writing the column and just fax it to loyal readers. By the end of the month Bayless—who confesses he is a newspaperman at heart—made a quantum leap into the computer age and started faxing Inside Bayless to subscribers.
For $99 a year, the quirky, quip-filled column is guaranteed to arrive on your desk by six in the morning Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The one-pager is a manageable format for Bayless to ruminate on one topic and three newsy items. Unlike newspapers, the legal-sized pages tend to stack up on desks—which may not be good for Bayless’ reputation, if anyone is keeping track of his predictions. After all, he did forecast that Dallas would dominate Detroit and that the Bills would win the Super Bowl. “Oh, well,” concedes Bayless. “I know that some readers bet against what I say.”
Bayless and his publicist and editor, Mike Fernandez, are committed to the project for at least a year. Their biggest concern is timing: “Either we are right on time or way ahead of the times.” Even though they already have out-of-state subscribers and a number of law firms in Dallas have signed on, the pair think it’s too early to predict success. But the two entrepreneurs are banking on a favorable response from commuter cities such as Dallas. Says Bayless: “Most of our subscribers read the sports columns when they get to work—they never have time at home.”