Local sports business reporter Kevin Kleps announced last week that after almost nine years at Crain's Cleveland Business
, he'll be departing to take a digital marketing role at Hyland Software.
Kleps, whose final story
discussed the financing and logistics of the Union Home Mortgage Cleveland Marathon in October, said both the timing and opportunity of his new role "felt right."
Kleps was hired at Crain's
in January, 2013, as a reporter-editor who was tasked with copyediting and designing the print paper in addition to covering sports. "It was A LOT," Kleps told Scene, "and sports business was the area that suffered."
But Kleps said his bosses recognized the local appetite for his reporting niche and soon hired a creative director at the paper, which allowed him to invest more fully in his coverage. In short order, he became a must-read voice in Cleveland, especially for fans interested in the galaxy of professional sports news beyond the box score.
is primarily aimed at a business audience, and Kleps was unafraid to delve into the weeds of sponsorship deals, contracts, ticketing, TV ratings and so forth, but his coverage of the three local pro teams had mass appeal, especially as the finances of those teams have been so closely (and often perilously
) linked to the finances of the region.
Kleps said he built close working relationships with the Browns, Cavs and Indians and tried to give fans a deeper look at the clubs' operations. And he said he tried not to let those relationships preclude critical coverage when necessary.
"As long as you're fair, I think most people will understand," he said. "They may not like it, but they get it."
To the ever diminishing local press corps, Kleps had some parting words of wisdom: "Cultivate relationships. Do your homework. Have fun. Being first is cool, but being right is better. And if you work in sports, read up on the business side of things. I think that's really important, and readers are really interested in it. Also, you don't need to write about what everyone else is. It's more fun to write about what others aren't."
As for his new role at Hyland, Kleps said he was feeling a mixture of excitement and terror.
"Leaving journalism is going to be strange at first," he said, "and I'm sure it will be a heck of an adjustment. But it feels like the right move at the right time."
Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.