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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy Of An Analyst: Brian Griese

Griese is a pro in the booth. He can break down what a quarterback sees or what an offensive coordinator is trying to accomplish on any given play, or in certain situations.

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Brian Griese is the answer to a pretty cool NFL trivia question. Griese and his father, Bob Griese, are the only father/son quarterback combination in NFL history to both win Super Bowl titles. The elder Griese, a Hall of Fame quarterback, won back-to-back titles with Miami in Super Bowls VII and VIII and later served as a top college football analyst for ABC Sports from 1987-2005.

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The younger Griese followed in his dad’s footsteps one more time, in becoming a college football, and eventually NFL, color commentator. Brian was named to the ESPN Monday Night Football booth in 2020, in a three-man booth featuring Steve Levy on play-by-play and Louis Riddick as the other analyst. The crew was basically given last season as an audition. They passed and were brought back for the 2021 Monday night schedule. 

FOOTBALL CAREER

Griese played collegiately at Michigan from 1993-1997. He was a walk-on for the Wolverines after turning down scholarships at Purdue, where his dad played, and Kentucky.

He managed to piece together a pretty nice career for a non-scholarship player. In his career he went 17-5 as a starter.  Oh yeah, the Wolverines won all three games against Ohio State in which he was the QB. Griese was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in December of 2012. 

Griese led the Wolverines to the 1997 National Championship (as recognized by the Associated Press). After being selected in the third round by the Denver Broncos in the 1998 NFL Draft, he earned his Super Bowl ring with the Broncos in his rookie season, as John Elway led the Broncos to a victory in Super Bowl XXIII over the Falcons. Elway retired after the Super Bowl and Griese became the starting quarterback for the Broncos during the 1999 season. Griese made the Pro Bowl in 2000. After leaving the Broncos, Griese started games for the Dolphins, Bears and Buccaneers.

After his release in July of 2009, he decided to retire from the NFL. 

ROAD TO ESPN MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Griese joined ESPN soon after his playing days were over in 2009. His rise to the MNF Booth was 11 years in the making. He was a leading analyst on college football for the network, calling big games on ABC and ESPN since his hiring. Griese teamed with Levy, field analyst Todd McShay and reporter Molly McGrath to call prominent games which included broadcasting New Year’s Day Bowls on television and the College Football Playoff games on ESPN Radio. 

Griese previously called ESPN’s MNF doubleheader game in 2019 – with his current MNF booth mates Levy and Riddick, and 2018 with Beth Mowins. He also called Denver Broncos’ preseason games on TV (2018-19 with Levy) and regular season games on the radio (2010-12). 

AS AN ANALYST

When Griese, Levy and Riddick took over the MNF booth, ESPN was looking to shake things up. Levy was a known commodity, handling many different roles at the network, including hockey. Riddick was more of a question mark from the start. He had the chops as a former player and front office guy, but he had never really served as a game analyst. Griese on the other hand, as I’ve denoted earlier, had plenty of game experience and the ability to break down a game. The risk though, was a three-man booth. These are never easy situations in any sport. 

Courtesy ESPN Images

“Obviously having three people in a booth versus two people in a booth is different,” Griese told The Athletic last year before the groups’ first season together. “It’s different structurally. The amount of time that you have to talk and how you organize that is something that you have to work through. It’s going to be a work in progress, but I think as time goes on, we’ll develop our rhythm.” he said.  

The roles have been carved out nicely. Griese is a pro in the booth. He can break down what a quarterback sees or what an offensive coordinator is trying to accomplish on any given play, or in certain situations. Having been not only a starter in the NFL, but a backup too, really helps him in my opinion. Sometimes as a starter you get very comfortable with what you’re calling, because of the involvement play to play. As a backup, he had the ability to understand by listening to the offensive coordinator in ‘game situations’ and soaked up that knowledge. In turn now he’s able to present that information from both sides if you will. Yet, both Griese and Riddick can explain things to the casual fan. He knows his audience is far less familiar with the nuts and bolts of a game plan than he is. 

I really feel like Riddick’s development into a top-flight analyst, comes from Griese’s understanding of the role. What do I mean by that? Last year, I felt like Riddick deferred a lot to Griese. In kind, I think the former QB nurtured Riddick, and allowed him to grow, because of how Griese handles his job. I’ve said it many times, there is a unique skill that only a few former athletes have mastered. That is simplifying the game of football down to its basic form and allowing everyone watching to understand the intricacies involved. All Griese had to do, was be himself and Riddick is doing the same. It really works, especially with an experienced ‘traffic cop’ in the booth. 

“Ultimately, I don’t view our role as showing up every week and trying to show people how much football we know. That’s not the point.” Griese told the Athletic. “They will learn something new watching the show, and at the very minimum, they will know why the game was won or lost, whether that’s a decision by a player or a coach. They will be engaged emotionally because that’s always what the most interesting thing to me is when we watch a football game.”

There have been occasions where Griese has been questioned for some of the comments he makes. Most recently in the Bears/Steelers Monday Night game on November 8th. Late in the game the Bears tied the score at 26.  With 1:46 on the clock, going for one point seemed like it would be the obvious thing to do. The Steelers were called for encroachment and Griese asked whether Matt Nagy would go for two. 

“If this is offsides on the defense, now you have options,” Griese said. “Do you want to go for two here and potentially… (quick pause), well you’re going to kick this field goal either way. It’s a higher percentage to win the game.”

There was that pause. He was likely hearing from his producer reminding him of the situation and that it only made sense to kick the extra-point. 

Everyone makes a mistake from time to time, even people that played the game at the highest level. I don’t hold that against Griese, considering, as a Bears’ fan, that game had no flow thanks to all the penalties that were called in that game. Tony Corrente and his crew made far more mistakes that night than the broadcast team did. 

I’m sure, if Griese is like many, as soon as that commercial break hit, he probably took off his headsets and looked at his partners and said something like, “What did I just say?”. He also probably thanked the producer or whoever got in his ear for having his back. 

This situation certainly doesn’t define Griese as a broadcaster or an analyst. I look at it as a blip on the radar and one that doesn’t happen very often. 

Brian Griese - ESPN Press Room U.S.
Courtesy: ESPN Images

CONCLUSION

As a whole, I enjoy Griese’s work on ESPN and ABC. He’s become a household voice in football and now is a mainstay on MNF. His less is more approach works, I think it helps the casual fan understand the game better. It’s always nicer when the analyst doesn’t talk down to you, he/she talks to you and helps the fan to see what they are talking about. The Griese name surely carries some cache, with name recognition as well. 

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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of an Insider: Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports and The Athletic

“Even though I was on television, I always thought [that] what should distinguish me is my work.”

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For over 30 years, Ken Rosenthal has had the attention of Major League Baseball fans, front offices and even the commissioner. He’s been breaking stories and covering some of the most important stories in baseball since his start in 1987. Rosenthal is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Growing up in New York, his early goals were pretty simple. “I never wanted to be more than a beat guy on a major sport at a major paper. My dad, figuring I would never make enough money, would tell me early in my career, ‘Maybe one day you’ll be on TV.’ He told Pressbox Online back in 2017.

“I would laugh at him and say, ‘No chance.’” How wrong that would turn out to be.

Baseball fans should also be extremely happy that Rosenthal did not follow some early advice.

One day during the winter break in his senior year of college, he went to the Newsday offices to meet up with sports editor Dick Sandler. Rosenthal needed guidance on how to pursue a journalism career. The advice he got was a bit of a wakeup call.

“He did advise me to go to law school,” Rosenthal recalled to Barrett Sports Media last year. “It did light a fire under me, and my dad was an attorney. I remember he was pretty pissed off when I told him that. I just don’t think you should tell a young person something like that.”

The fire was lit and the rest is history.

ROAD TO FOX/THE ATHLETIC

Rosenthal graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984 and embarked on his career, starting at the York Daily Record in 1984. He quickly moved on to the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for two years. Then Rosenthal landed a full-time job with The Baltimore Sun, where he was named Maryland Sportswriter of the Year five times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association during his tenure from 1987 to 2000. 

At the same time Rosenthal was also contributing to Sports Illustrated from 1990 to 2000, providing weekly notes during baseball season. He then spent five years at The Sporting News until 2005. That association led him to Fox. The Sporting News had a partnership with FOX Sports and TSN writers would appear on various Fox RSN’s to talk about the local baseball team.  

Since he was the senior baseball writer, he would hold a ‘press junket’ of sorts, sitting in a studio for hours appearing on different city’s shows talking baseball.

Rosenthal started to expand his career. His television ‘hits’ were accompanied by feature stories, breaking news and a weekly column. Television made sense, especially since others in his position were starting to make a name for themselves in the medium. People like Tim Kurkjian, who was always reporting on stories via ESPN.

With the encouragement of his wife, Rosenthal started looking at television more seriously and actually got some offers, from both ESPN and Fox. He chose the higher profile position at FOX Sports. He was told that he would be reporting during the Game of the Week with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. It would represent a big break and a change in lifestyle, being away from home and focusing his attention completely on the national perspective of the sport.

Later Rosenthal would add duties at MLB Network, before a controversy caused him to lose that job. As I wrote a couple of years ago, Commissioner Rob Manfred did not like a column written by Rosenthal in June of 2020. It in a nutshell it was critical of Manfred’s handling of the start of the pandemic plagued season.  Rosenthal wrote “As if the perception that Manfred is beholden to owners and out of touch with players was not bad enough, he was trending on Twitter (now X) on Monday after performing a massive flip-flop.” That among other things led to the network not bringing Rosenthal back.

Most recently, as of 2017, he became the senior writer for The Athletic and broke one of the biggest stories of the last decade for the publication.

Rosenthal now appears regularly on a very popular podcast Foul Territory which streams live on YouTube 5 days a week. Former MLB Players A.J. Pierzynski, Erik Kratz, Todd Frazier and Adam Jones are the featured performers. Recently he signed on to co-host Fair Territory with Alanna Rizzo on the Foul Territory Network twice a week. That show is live on YouTube.

SCOOPS/ WHY IS HE A “GO TO” INSIDER?

Rosenthal has been behind countless scoops and ‘reported first’ over the course of his career, but one recent scoop stands out. In 2019, Rosenthal and his colleague Evan Drellich at The Athletic broke the story of the Astros sign stealing controversy. The Astros cheated in 2017 by stealing opponents’ signs with the aid of cameras and of course, banging of garbage cans to indicate what type of pitch was coming. It was a story that was well researched and featured former Astros players telling the story to Ken and Evan. The sources for this story were hard to argue with, because these players had first-hand knowledge of how it started, how it played out and what resulted from it. One of the sources, pitcher Mike Fiers, admitted to the setup and then told Rosenthal that he warned his subsequent teams of the deal with the Astros.  It was a well-crafted scoop that was ‘bullet proof’ thanks to Rosenthal and Drellich’s excellent reporting.

That’s the reason to me why Rosenthal is considered one of, if not the most trusted insiders around. He oozes credibility and has a style that’s pretty direct and not too flashy. That certainly helps his reputation as being fair and respectful when it comes to his sources and the stories he breaks.

He is well respected in the industry and isn’t all about just breaking stories. While there is some satisfaction in doing so, I’m sure, the fact is, once you break the story, everyone else jumps in to confirm with their own source. So, the party becomes very crowded and quickly. Rosenthal is a storyteller at heart and you can tell the pride in which he writes a column or feature. Even though many recognize him only from his television appearances, he is a writer doing television, not a television reporter that also writes.

Through it all he is staying true to his roots and continuously knocking things out of the park. Digging deep into a subject, much deeper than any sports fan could imagine. In the end, Rosenthal educates fans with his knowledge and the knowledge of the players he interviews. Longform writing is not easy, trust me, but Rosenthal handles it with ease.

Rosenthal is also very good on television, delivering pregame storylines and also in-game reporting for MLB on Fox games and into the postseason. He’s smooth and polished and as always, his reports are filled with terrific information.

BOWTIES

Rosenthal has become known on television for wearing a bowtie for every broadcast. It is not something he decided to wear, he was actually ordered to wear one. After joining MLB on Fox Game of the Week, his boss, David Hill, insisted he wear the bowtie to distinguish Rosenthal from other reporters.

“Even though I was on television, I always thought [that] what should distinguish me is my work,” Rosenthal told BSM. “A look – I didn’t want any part of that. But he was the boss, and he was a very strong boss and a powerful boss.”

Rosenthal wanted to ditch the practice after the Giants won the World Series that season (2010), but a phone call from a former NFL player changed the tune. Dhani Jones, a former linebacker, founded The Bow Tie Cause to represent different non-profit charities. Jones asked Rosenthal if he’d be willing to support the cause by continuing to wear the tie.

“I never imagined that it would become, I guess, kind of part of my identity, but it is,” Rosenthal said. “When I don’t wear it now – and even if I’m at the ballpark on a Friday preparing for a Saturday broadcast in my regular clothes – some fan or somebody will say, ‘Hey, where’s the bowtie?’ and so it is definitely part of it.”

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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of an Insider: Jeff Passan

The life of an insider takes no breaks, probably causes internal consternation and means you’re on your phone constantly, all in the name of being first to report on a story.

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Report: Jeff Passan is a tremendous ‘insider’ when it comes to baseball. Ok, this is actually a fact, but you get the picture. Usually that first word “report” is followed by Jeff Passan says according to his sources, and there’s usually some big news after that. Correct news, more often than not. The life of an insider takes no breaks, probably causes internal consternation and means you’re on your phone constantly, all in the name of being first to report on a story.

Passan grew up near Cleveland, Ohio and that’s where Passan’s love for baseball began. In his bio at ESPN, he says, “Getting to watch the 1990s Indians, with Albert Belle and Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez and Omar Vizquel and Carlos Baerga and Eddie Murray, made a baseball fan of me forever.” Passan said he always had a passion for writing and sports and now has a career in both.

“The ability to marry the two seemed too convenient to work a real job.” Passan said on ESPN.

“Somehow, for upward of 20 years now, I’ve managed to make it happen. And for all the late nights, the days away from the family, the clacking away on the keyboard: Yeah, it really is the best job in the world.”

ROAD TO ESPN

Passan attended Syracuse and wrote for The Daily Orange while at school. He began covering baseball in 2004 while at The Kansas City Star before he moved on to Yahoo! a couple of years later. Passan worked at the internet site for 13 years.

Passan announced that he was joining ESPN’s Baseball team in January 2019. While working at ESPN, he makes guest appearances on SportsCenterGet UpThe Rich Eisen ShowBaseball Tonight, The Pat McAfee Show and other ESPN studio shows.

He is also a frequent guest on such ESPN podcasts as ESPN Daily and Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney. He has also contributed as an on-field reporter, including for Monday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball.

DESIRE, PASSION AND PITFALLS

“Insider” work knows no offseason. News is constantly breaking in baseball. Whether it be during the season, at the trade deadline or after the season, he’s on the scene. This kind of work can be extremely demanding and requires a passion and dedication to be among the best.

In 2022 Passan spoke to the New York Post and was asked where his passion came from. He credited his wife for sparking his career growth. As he recalled, he told his wife he wasn’t looking forward to attending baseball’s Winter Meetings in 2012. After his wife asked him what was wrong, he basically told her that this was the time (Winter Meetings) where he felt terrible at his job. The conversation continued.

“Why’s that?” she asked.

Passan said, “Because I don’t really break news.”

“Why is that?” she said.

“I didn’t have a great answer. I think the thing I said was, “It’s really hard.”

Her response was, “Well, then stop being a p***y and go do it.”

Blunt.

“That sort of emasculation hits hard!” Passan admitted to The Post. “I listened to her. I focused on it. I prioritized it. I’m really glad I did, not just because it helped me land at ESPN, but I truly believe that being in the daily news grind the way you are required to be if you are in this job, opens up so many stories you wouldn’t have gotten by just not talking to the people it forces you to talk with.”

There are drawbacks to being the best at your particular livelihood. The job requires being tethered to his phone. He expanded upon the notion when he joined Andrew Marchand and John Ourand on their sports media podcast back in 2022.

“I’m a slave to it. That’s the reality,” Passan said. “I look at my screen time numbers every week, and seriously I will ask myself, ‘What are you doing? Is this worth it? What are you doing with your life?’”

“My kids are gonna be out of the house in three and seven years and I’m not present too often,” Passan continued. “I will hear them ask a question and I can’t tell you the number of times where I’ve answered, ‘hold on a second, let me finish this text.’ That may be the most oft said thing in my house. Is that how I want my kids remembering me?”

His kids are probably very proud of the excellent work their dad does in the industry. I can see though, how tough this has to be on a father. Being away from the house and always having to work.

USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Passan was one of the first in the field to start using platforms other than Twitter, now named X.  A Tweet in 2022 explained:

“I have no idea if Twitter is going to be around today, tomorrow, next week, next year. I love everyone here and want them to know that there’s a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency plan.”

Social media is an important part of an “Insider’s” job. It’s a great way to share information to a large audience at lightning speed. Many accused Passan of grandstanding, and “virtue signaling” for “boycotting” a platform now owned by Elon Musk. Now with other platforms available, like Threads and Blue Sky many of those ‘breaking news’ are doing so on multiple social sites.

It’s also dangerous sometimes.

Passan attempted to note in a post on X that Ron Washington was getting another shot as an MLB manager after nearly a decade. But, Passan accidentally wrote that Washington was getting another “s**t” instead of “shot”. No matter that he quickly edited the original post, because screenshots were taken of the post and now live in the dark corners of the internet.

WHY IS HE A ‘GO TO’ INSIDER?

It’s evident that Passan does a ton of work and is very careful about ‘breaking’ things before he has the confirmation he needs. There are those out there that just for the sake of being first, will throw something up against the wall to see if it sticks. That doesn’t seem to be Passan’s style. The guys he competes with may beat him from time to time, but that’s part of the gig. It’s comforting to know that if Passan is on social media with a ‘scoop,’ you can go with it.

In an interview with The Big Lead in 2020, he was asked about the feeling of getting the ‘scoop.’

“It is simultaneously exhilarating and nauseating. It’s a privilege to know that people are coming to me for information.” Passan said.  “I am extremely judicious about it because the one thing I can’t ever do is get something wrong. That is where the nerves and exhilaration come into play. I may know something, but do I know it? I may believe with 99.9 percent certainty that I know something is going to happen but that’s not enough. I need that extra .001 percent and that’s where the extra phone call always makes the difference.”

He admitted to losing scoops because he wasn’t completely certain about a piece to the story. That is the kind of thing that separates the greats from the internet detectives that think they have it right.

Getting the story isn’t just a matter of talking to sources the day of, say the trade deadline in baseball. Passan does the work and cultivates relationships weeks and months before that event even takes place. You can tell that Passan is plugged in and has a style that is easy to respect.

Fans hang on his words. Many feel that if the post isn’t from Passan, they don’t believe it. Creating that trust with the fans and fellow media members is vital. Passan has that trust and continues to earn it every day.

DID YOU KNOW?

Passan has a great sense of humor. A Cubs’ fan named Lisa, took to X on February 22, 2024 announcing:

I heard that they (Cubs) signed (Cody) Bellinger just now from a good friend who’s in AZ right now, but can’t find anything online about it. Have you heard anything?

Several days later, Passan reported on the Cubs signing of Bellinger. He had the details of the contract and all the pertinent information. Then in a post that followed, he simply stated:

Lisa was right

Very cool to acknowledge her and the statement of “Lisa was right” took on a life of its own in Chicago.

Prior to ESPN, Passan was the author of New York Times bestseller The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, and co-authored Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series.

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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of a Broadcaster: Kevin Kugler

“I wouldn’t trade the journey for anyone else’s path, but I wasn’t exactly a child prodigy!”

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Kevin Kugler, Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Everywhere a sports fan turns these days, you’re bound to see or hear Kevin Kugler on the call. The versatile broadcaster is knee deep into the college basketball season, which will culminate with him calling the National Championship Game on Westwood One. He’s come a long way from his days as a co-host on 1620 “The Zone” in Nebraska.

Kugler holds a number of high-profile jobs these days, not just with Westwood One. Kugler calls basketball and football on the Big Ten Network and is a regular voice of the NFL on Fox. It’s a demanding schedule at times, but Kugler manages to handle it just fine.

“This time of year, isn’t really as crazy as the crossover season when I’ve got both football and basketball on my schedule.” Kugler told me.  “There’s a lot of hoops games to call, but when I’m not juggling football and basketball, it’s certainly a little more manageable.”

Kugler has certainly made a name for himself and become one of the best in the business.

Road to Today

Kugler’s career began at 1620, “The Zone” in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I was there for nearly 12 years.  We started the afternoon drive show “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” in September of 2000 and I left the station in July of 2012.” Kugler says.

From that job, he got to do some play-by-play at the College Baseball World Series, which is based in Omaha. It led to him being “discovered” if you will, on the national stage.

“So, the Westwood One opportunity came from the CWS.  Our station, 1620 The Zone, acquired the rights to produce the preliminary games.” Kugler explained. “As part of the deal, Westwood One agreed to use a 1620 The Zone person on the sidelines.  Thanks to my terrific boss, Neil Nelkin, that person was me.”  

That particular assignment helped beyond Kugler’s wildest expectations.

“As it turned out, Howard Deneroff (now the EVP, Executive Producer at WWO) was the producer of those games.” he told me. “So, I met him (Deneroff) through that.  Every year, he asked me to send him my tape.  I was doing Division II football and basketball for the University of Nebraska-Omaha at the time.  Sent him tapes each year after the CWS.” Kugler remembered. 

“Then, prior to the CWS in 2006, he asked to hear stuff again.  Then asked for more stuff.  By this point, I’m digging into some of the clunkiest cassette tapes that I had, but that didn’t seem to faze him.  He called in the summer of 2006, after the CWS, and offered me the chance to do college football and basketball for the network starting that fall.  It was one of the best phone calls I’ve ever received!”

That is an understatement.

National Work, Big Ten, Westwood One, Fox

The Westwood One gig started to open doors for Kugler. But, one that previously opened to allow his success, closed.

“I only do the Championship series (of the CWS) these days for Westwood One.  My good friend John Bishop handles the preliminary games and does a tremendous job.” Kugler told me. “I had the opportunity a few years back to expand my role with Fox and do some MLB and spring football coverage, so I had to give those games up.” 

Kugler is happy to still be a part of the festivities, because that tournament means a lot to him. “The CWS is Omaha’s calling card!” Kugler proudly proclaimed.  “And as someone who still calls Omaha home, it’s always an amazing thrill to walk into the booth at the CWS.  I hope I get the chance to remain involved in that in some way for years to come.”

He now has three national jobs. At WWO, he’s been the voice of the Final Four and Championship Game since 2008. For a time Kugler was the voice of Sunday Night Football on the radio, but had to give that up for a bigger role too. More on that in a second.

In 2011, Kugler added the Big Ten Network to his portfolio, calling college football and basketball, among other sports. Since BTN was owned by Fox, Kugler also called some national games in both sports as well.

Kugler is also a play-by-play announcer for FOX Sports’ NFL broadcasts. He assumed that role in 2020. In addition to the NFL, he calls select college basketball and MLB telecasts.

What Makes Him Good?

Full disclosure, Kugler is one of my favorite people in the industry. I worked with him for a brief time at BTN doing baseball and softball broadcasts.

That being said, in all objectivity, he’s one of the best around right now for a number of reasons.

First off, he’s developed into one of the more versatile broadcasters in the industry. In a given week, he could be calling the NFL, College Football and College Basketball. That’s not as easy as it might sound. I mean how do you prep for a week like that?

“I’ve always been kind of a prep junkie.  I enjoy telling stories, and getting lost down those ridiculous little rabbit holes where you start following a thread and a half hour later, you realize you finally found what you were looking for.” Kugler says.  “To balance that with limited time takes a certain amount of discipline…I can’t chase those as much as I’d like sometimes, but I make sure I work ahead as much as I can, and I’m always grateful for a repeat team here and there!”

Yeah, I’ll bet.

But the amount of prep he does comes shining through in his broadcasts. There’s an ease about him that is a very comfortable listen. By that I don’t mean generic or vanilla. Kugler easily raises his energy to match the action and dials it down when needed as well. He creates anticipation in his voice in the way he builds up to the moment. I find this especially true when he’s calling basketball on the radio. The ability to use his voice to generate that hope for a listener is only something the best of the best can do. 

The more he’s able to call games on the biggest stage, the more Kugler is able to earn that “you know it’s a big game when you hear him” badge. Young broadcasters tend to get too hyped for a championship type game, but Kugler has mastered his pacing, bringing the moment to his viewers and listeners in a manner that is just right.

There is a humbleness about Kugler as well. When I asked him, “what was the ‘ride’ like early in your career to get to this point?” 

“My journey is probably no different than how it starts for so many of us in the business.  I went to a small market, called high school sports, made a ton of mistakes, and tried to find my voice.  I’ve been fortunate to have some terrific advice and opportunities along the way to where I am today.” Kugler said.  “I’ve struggled to make it as a freelance broadcaster.  I wrestled with the idea that it wasn’t going to happen for me, and what in the world would I do for a living if it didn’t?  (I have no real discernable skills beyond talking).”

As for his successes? “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a path to doing play-by-play now at the highest level, whether it be the NFL for FOX Sports and Westwood One, college basketball for Fox, BTN and Westwood, the Final Four, etc.  I wouldn’t trade the journey for anyone else’s path, but I wasn’t exactly a child prodigy!” He said. “Ian Eagle told me one time that the more people that can take credit for your career, the better your career has gone.  I feel like a lot of people have played a role in this and I hope that they are happy that they were able to push me forward each step along the road.”

Did You Know?

Kugler hosted the Masters golf tournament for Westwood One in 2009 and 2010. He filed radio reports for the network from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Kugler has been accused, as have most broadcasters that do national games, of hating YOUR team. He’s steering into the skid, so to speak, by putting that in his “X” bio. It’s legendary enough that there has been a parody account created, @KuglerH8sUrTeam.

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