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.
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
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts
“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”
FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.
“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”
ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.
“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”
Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC
“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”
Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.
“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”
Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.
Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game
“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”
FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.
USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.
The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.
“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.
Garrett Searight is the Editor of Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media. He previously was the Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH. He is also a play-by-play announcer for TV and Radio broadcasts in Western Ohio.