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A Conversation With Red Sox Voice Dave OBrien

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Dave O’Brien has a voice that should be familiar to Capital Region sports fans.

A Syracuse graduate who is among the busiest play-by-play announcers in the industry, O’Brien calls Major League Baseball, usually on Monday nights, for ESPN. For the past nine years he has been a radio voice of the Boston Red Sox, whose games are carried in this market on WOFX (980 AM). He also worked the NCAA Women’s Basketball regional, with Doris Burke, from Times Union Center.

O’Brien, 52, will get more face time with area viewers Friday night, when he and Burke broadcast Siena’s college basketball opener against reigning NCAA Tournament champion Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium (7 p.m., ESPNU).

He will be heard often this winter with various analysts on ESPN’s coverage of college basketball. O’Brien, a Boston-area native who lives in New Hampshire, is changing his role with the Red Sox, taking over as TV play-by-play announcer for the New England Sports Network, a job that will cut into his ESPN baseball work.

Before heading to Durham, O’Brien chatted about the Friday night assignment and other aspects of his career.

Q: You’re working Friday night with Doris Burke, and I know that you and Doris worked together here in Albany last March for the NCAA Women’s regional. How is it to work with Doris?

A: Doris is sensational. She’s one of the best analysts not just in college basketball, but in all of sports, because she can do so many things. She can do men’s basketball, women’s basketball, the NBA. She can analyze both. She’s done sidelines for years. She probably could do play-by-play if she wanted to. I’m not going to advise her to do that any time soon.

She’s just flat out one of the best in the business because it’s never about Doris. It’s about the teams; it’s about the players; it’s about the game we’re calling. It’s not about her. She’s one of the smartest analysts and best-prepared you’re going to find anywhere. She’s phenomenal.

The athletes, the players, just adore her. She walks into a gym for practice, and they migrate toward her. They watch her on the NBA Finals, and they see her college basketball season, doing big men’s and women’s games. They know she’s legit. She also has her resume as a player behind her. She was a heck of a player at Providence. She doesn’t really talk about it much, but she certainly has street cred.

Q: You’ve spent a lot of time at Fenway Park, and now you’re getting a chance to do TV for the Red Sox. Will the priority be NESN? Will you be doing much with ESPN baseball-wise?

A: My baseball schedule on ESPN will be reduced. It won’t go away entirely, but I’ll do about 10 games, 10 Mondays. My NESN commitment means I’ll do every game on television that the Red Sox play for NESN. It won’t reduce my basketball schedule at all. I’ll still have a very heavy hoops schedule. That was part of the arrangement to make this happen.

My Saturday games are the ACC with Dickie V (Dick Vitale). Occasionally I’ll work with Doris and Jay Bilas and a few other folks. Doris and I will do a lot of the major women’s games, and the (Women’s) Final Four and the national championship together. I’ll get to see her a lot, but she’s going to be on Big Monday this year.

Q: Are you excited about the NESN gig? It probably was handled awkwardly by the network (the revelation came out in the middle of a game incumbent Don Orsillo was calling), but are you excited to be working with Jerry Remy?

A: I’m very excited to be working with Jerry Remy. Jerry’s a Hall of Fame analyst who’s doing his 28th season with the Red Sox. It’s pretty amazing. I’m excited about being able to do television. It’s the best job in baseball, doing the Red Sox. I’m not impartial on that, as a Quincy boy who was raised in New England, but I think it’s the best place in the world to call baseball. It was an opportunity I didn’t feel I could turn down.

A lot of the lure to me was that Jerry Remy’s going to be my partner. Jerry’s a legend in New England. It’s very exciting, and the club, under Dave Dombrowski, is going to improve dramatically. David’s not afraid to deal, he’s not afraid to spend. The owners want to get better, to get back to being a competitive team, and by that I mean postseason competitive, immediately after two consecutive losing seasons. They’re tired of them. That part of it is exciting, too. I don’t think we’re going to be watching a subpar product.

Q: Is it a little easier for you not to have to make the in-season transition from doing radio to doing TV?

A: It can be. I’m going to miss radio a great deal because those are different muscles, a different discipline. I came up doing radio. My first baseball job in Atlanta was on the radio. My next baseball job with the Marlins was on the radio. In the last nine years of calling the Red Sox on radio, I felt like I had almost gotten it right finally.

Television is a challenge, as well, and I’m up for that, doing the same team every night. I’ve done it before, but it has been a while. The funny thing is, in New England and the Boston market, I’m not sure everybody realizes that I’ve been on the radio for nine years, that I’ve been right next door calling games every night. In one way or another, I’ve called the last three Red Sox championships.

It caught me a bit by surprise that a lot television viewers watch TV, and a lot of radio listeners listen to the radio, and there’s not that much crossover. That caught me a little bit off guard when we made the announcement. I’ve been there for almost a decade.

One thing that will be easier is that I don’t have to be introduced to the market. I’m not coming from Kansas City or Chicago. I’m a New England kid, this is where I was raised, the Red Sox are my team. I’ve been right next door nearly a decade.

Q: In this market you’re probably known because of your radio because the games are carried here, and we can’t get NESN unless we have the “Extra Innings” package.

A: That’s exactly right. Radio audiences tend to be very loyal to the radio call, and probably that’s true of television, as well. There’s not as much swinging back and forth between the two as you might expect in this day and age. Radio audiences tend to be very devoted, and the TV audience on NESN is incredibly devoted to watching the Red Sox. A lot of it is attributed to the product that they put on the air. They do a great job.

To read the entire interview visit the Times Union where it was originally published

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Lauren Shehadi: Ernie Johnson Is The Model For Studio Hosts

“To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness.”

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In addition to her job at MLB Network being a host on MLB Central, Lauren Shehadi is hosting TBS’s Tuesday night baseball coverage each week with Jimmy Rollins, Curtis Granderson, and Pedro Martinez. The Tuesday night games are new for Turner Sports this year after doing only Sunday games during the regular season in addition to the network’s postseason coverage. 

Shehadi was a guest on The Kyle Koster Show this week and she was asked what the goal was for her with the MLB on TBS Tuesday broadcasts. She takes a lot of inspiration from what she sees on Inside The NBA on TNT.

“I always think about Ernie Johnson in the same building. To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness. He gets the most out of Shaq and Kenny [Smith] and Charles [Barkley]. If there’s no ego involved, it’s all about how the show can be so great.

“You look at him and you think how can I be like that? You want to be authentic and be yourself, but in the sense of getting the best out of your guys and girls that you talk to every day. That was my goal going in, Be authentic.”

Shehadi said she gets to spend a lot of time with Johnson and the rest of the Turner Sports crew. Tuesday nights tend to be something of a corporate family reunion. 

“On Tuesday nights, we all sit in a room and we all watch NBA, MLB, and NHL when it’s on. We get Shaq’s reaction to Sandy Alcantara’s slider in real-time. What we see from Inside The NBA is when they do demos. When they get up and walk and they are casual and they do little bits, that’s what we try to take to our show, but we want it to feel authentic.” 

When Shehadi isn’t hosting Turner Sports’ baseball coverage, she is a part of MLB Central every weekday on MLB Network with Robert Flores and Mark DeRosa. On that show, the goal for her is how to make baseball relatable to everyone: 

“That’s the sweet spot of MLB Central. No question is silly. Nobody is smarter than the other. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. It is just a fun 4 hours, grab your coffee, let’s talk the game, let’s laugh because life is short and baseball is fun.” 

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AT&T Sportsnet’s Kelsey Wingert Shows Off Stitches After Being Drilled Line Drive

“The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.”

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Baseball reporters at the regional level have some of the toughest jobs in all of sports. Not only do they cover each for all 162 games, but there’s always the potential for getting drilled by a foul ball.

While all MLB ball clubs have expanded their netting this season to protect fans sitting close to the field, Rockies sideline reporter Kelsey Wingert suffered a nasty injury via a foul ball earlier this week.

A scary incident took place on Monday’s outing against the Rockies and San Francisco Giants at Coors Field in Denver. In the ninth inning, Giants outfielder Austin Slater hit a foul ball off Daniel Bard, with the ball heading straight to the dugout, right where Wingert was standing while reporting for AT&T Sportsnet.

After getting attended to by the Rockies medical staff and walking it off, giving fans a “thumbs up,” Wingert ended up having to go to the hospital where she received multiple stitches to her forehead.

The 29-year-old reporter took to Twitter on Wednesday to express her gratitude towards the Rockies organization and AT&T Sportsnet general manager David Woodman, who along with his wife Paula, stayed by her side at the hospital.

“I had a CT scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding or fractures and all came back clear. Thank God,” Wingert said on Twitter Wednesday. “The stitches will have to come out in a week. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse. It was just really scary and bummed me out given the circumstances.”

You would think this was the first time Wingert got hit by a ball but back in 2018 while working for Fox Sports and the Atlanta Braves she was struck by a foul ball while standing near a camera past the Braves dugout, resulting in a fractured eye socket. 

Wingert retweeted a photo taken of her black eye after returning home where she made light of what could’ve been an awful occurrence.

While recovering from her wound, Wingert will be taking a few games off. The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.

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Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII

“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”

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The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.

Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.

Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.

Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.

Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.

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