Jul. 3—HENDERSON — The newest generation of bright minds in American sports journalism has representation from Vance County.
Henderson native Tate Frazier is making a name for himself in an evolving journalism landscape with a career that has seen him host and produce several podcasts, along with the creation of his own digital content studio, Figures Network.
Frazier said that it was impossible to avoid the storied college basketball culture in North Carolina growing up. It was his desire to learn more about the history and people behind the game that made him pursue a career in journalism.
"North Carolina is a sports-centric place," Frazier said. "I got pretty enthralled with Tobacco Road, specifically with North Carolina basketball and just about everything Michael Jordan. Growing up, I wanted to be an anchor on SportsCenter like some of my heroes in Stuart Scott and Dan Partick, but I've gotten pretty comfortable as a college basketball podcaster.
One of Frazier's earliest memories of watching basketball was Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, in which Jordan put up the game-winning jumper with Bryon Russell guarding him in the closing seconds to give the Chicago Bulls their sixth NBA championship in Jordan's final game with the team.
Frazier's obsession with basketball only grew from that point onward as he watched players like Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison and Shammond Williams develop their careers at UNC Chapel Hill under head coaches Dean Smith and Bill Gutheridge.
The subsequent retirements of Smith and Gutheridge prompted Frazier to start following other college basketball programs like the University of Maryland, which gradually evolved into the passion that he possesses today.
Frazier knew that he would have to work very hard throughout his childhood to become a successful sports journalist and began his journey at UNC Chapel Hill after graduating from Northern Vance High School in 2011 as the valedictorian.
"My older brother was the valedictorian at Northern Vance, so I had to at least keep up with the family," Frazier said. "I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a sportscaster but once I got [to UNC Chapel Hill], I dove right into making contacts and trying to reach out to anyone I knew who went to UNC Chapel Hill that was in the media sphere."
Frazier's time in college saw him work for Sports Xtra and Carolina Week at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, which helped him land an internship with Fox Sports in Los Angeles before the start of his senior year.
The internship also allowed Frazier to carefully study everything that went into launching Fox Sports' new network, Fox Sports 1. He enjoyed his time working with Fox Sports and wanted to return to Los Angeles once he was done with classes at UNC.
After graduating in 2015, Frazier packed up his belongings, made the long drive out to Los Angeles and accepted a position as a production and editorial intern for Grantland, a sports and pop culture blog run by veteran ESPN journalist Bill Simmons.
When ESPN fired Simmons in 2015, Frazier ended up following him as Simmons launched his own company, The Ringer. Frazier was put in charge of producing many of The Ringer's podcasts for four years until he decided to depart the company in 2019.
Through Figures Network, which he founded the same year, Frazier has embarked on several different business ventures that include co-hosting the college basketball-centered Titus & Tate podcast alongside Mark Titus, which is licensed and distributed by Fox Sports and Westwood One.
Another podcast that Frazier hosts is Pushin' Thru, where he discusses several different basketball topics alongside his agent and former Chicago Bulls point guard B.J. Armstrong, who played for the team during its first three-peat in the early 1990s.
As Frazier has gained notoriety in his field, he regularly discusses his childhood years growing up in Henderson and hopes his success story can be a reminder to students currently residing in the city that none of their dreams are impossible to reach.
"There's not that many people out there who have heard of Henderson, North Carolina," Frazier said. "I'm very proud to be from Henderson and I think there is a lot of good there. I want to give back by inspiring kids in Henderson to believe in themselves. I like to shout out my city as much as I can and remind people that I'm from Henderson and not Hendersonville."
Frazier has also been keeping a close eye on Henderson's evolving basketball culture during the last few years, which has seen Henderson Collegiate bring home a state championship and the launch of unified Vance County men's and women's basketball programs after the consolidation of his alma mater Northern Vance with Southern Vance.
He believes that all of the recent developments with high school basketball in his hometown are helping bring more attention to the untapped talent in Henderson and hopes to see that trend continue throughout the 2020s.
While Frazier admitted that he was sad to see the end of Northern Vance, he understands that change is simply a part of life, as he is more interested in bolstering the impact of his podcasts as opposed to fulfilling his own childhood dream of becoming a SportsCenter anchor.
Even with the sports journalism industry relying more heavily on digital media, Frazier stressed that patience is still an important part of the job and that making the right moves from business and personal standpoints are crucial to enjoying long-term success.
"The best advice I can give is to form relationships," Frazier said. "This business can be a bit of a rat race with people trying to get past each other, but you need to treat people like people. Everything comes back around, but you have to believe in yourself and just go for it. Success doesn't happen overnight and the more you know, the more opportunities you will have."