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Joe Buck on Moving to ESPN: ‘This Bus Was Coming Along One Time’

Buck revealed that he will start at ESPN on May 1 which, as he put it, means he’s technically unemployed for the next seven weeks.

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The past week in sports media has essentially been Joe Buck Week and, really, what a seven days it has been.

Going into last weekend, news of Buck leaving Fox for ESPN and Monday Night Football dropped. On Wednesday, ESPN officially announced Buck and Troy Aikman as its new MNF broadcast team. Hours later, Buck was eliminated and revealed on The Masked Singer, which turned out to be a bizarre farewell to his tenure at Fox.

In another example of timing so perfect that it almost seems orchestrated, Buck’s weekly podcast with Oliver Hudson, Daddy Issues, posted its regular Thursday episode and the broadcaster was ready to talk about the whirlwind events of the past week and the absurdity of how events played out.

Buck revealed that he will start at ESPN on May 1 which, as he put it, means he’s technically unemployed for the next seven weeks.

“After 27 years at Fox, my goodbye on-air, on the network, is me singing dressed as a ram,” said Buck. “As the Masked Singer, as a larger-than-life Roman soldier guy.

“It only proves how fast the deal with ESPN happened… that was shot the week after the NFC championship game, which happened to be in L.A. I mean, it couldn’t have worked out any better. And I had no idea that was going to be my last moments at Fox. But those are my last moments at Fox.”

According to Buck, his wife, ESPN reporter Michelle Beisner, “got into a wee bit of trouble” by revealing the move to ESPN on Instagram before any official announcement had been made and some people who probably needed to be notified had received word. (Although the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand may have broken the news first.)

Buck then recounted the machinations involved in getting out of the final year of his Fox contract to sign with ESPN. Much of this has already been reported, but it’s still intriguing to hear Buck’s perspective on this and his gratitude for network executives letting him out of his deal for a “quality of life” move that would be really beneficial to his family.

“I think what Fox realized… they didn’t want me to go, they have a Super Bowl this year, they have a Super Bowl in two more years, so they have two of the next three Super Bowls,” said Buck. “I’ve done it, so they have experience with me and I was signed through this year knowing that the Super Bowl was there.

“So Fox had to be really… for lack of a better word, kind and let me out of the deal because this bus was coming along one time. And if I didn’t get on it, I may never get on it.”

Buck went on to explain that the original plan was for Aikman to at least do half a season with him at Fox, while he also called Thursday Night Football on Amazon, followed by the postseason and Super Bowl. But those negotiations broke down, giving ESPN the opportunity to swoop in and sign him.

Then ESPN asked Aikman if he thought Buck might be willing to come with him, and that started the sequence of events leading to one of the biggest moves sports media has seen in recent memory, changing NFL broadcast coverage for two networks. Buck met with Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks and president of production Brad Zager and worked the situation out to everyone’s satisfaction.

The entire podcast is worth listening to, which includes Buck hinting that he knows what Fox will do to replace him. And he indicates pretty strongly that the network will make the internal moves of moving Kevin Burkhardt up to the No. 1 NFL play-by-play position and Joe Davis to lead voice of MLB and World Series broadcasts.

Daddy Issues is available on the show’s website, iHeartRadio, and your podcast app of choice including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Sports TV News

Tim Brando Believes Executives Look For Familiarity, Not Great Voices For Announcers

“Executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio. As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

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Tim Brando has seen the broadcasting industry has evolved in a lot of ways through the years, but one thing that’s remained constant is how infrequently some of the announcing gigs with major networks open up to younger voices.

That’s mainly because you have veteran talent already occupying those positions with no plans for the immediate future to step aside.

On a recent edition of The Sports Talkers Podcast, FOX Sports broadcaster and host Tim Brando spoke to Stephen Strom about the reality that many broadcasters face.

“Yeah there are a lot more jobs, but there are fewer great jobs,” Brando said. “A lot of guys are getting jobs, but it’s like a dead end.”

But in terms of hiring younger talent for network jobs, he thinks it’s become more about adding faces to broadcast booths rather than voices.

“There’s a tendency I think now in our business to hire more visible and perhaps more popular talent because they’ve been in the studio,” he said. “But they’re not ready to be in the booth. Not everybody can do both well.”

Tim added that there’s a nuance to calling play-by-play versus working studio coverage. Brando said that perhaps it has a lot more to do with young broadcasters bypassing getting their start in radio and going right into TV.

“It seems to me that in some circles anyway in our business, executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio,” he said. “As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

Brando did mention some of the younger voices at FOX who have risen to the bigger opportunities in the booth, and how they ultimately worked their way up. He said he’s had the chance to offer advice to a few of them and act as a mentor in a way, because that’s how it was for him breaking into the industry.

“I believe in pouring into the young broadcasters out there, I really do,” he said. “Because Curt Gowdy poured into me. I think there’s a responsibility and a level of accountability for the generation before to help those that are coming up that you really respect.”

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Sports TV News

MLB Network Airing 38 Hours of Winter Meetings Coverage

Coverage will begin on Sunday at 7 p.m. with MLB Tonight leading into the announcement of the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee’s election results for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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The annual winter meetings for MLB are set to take place in-person for the first time since 2019 next week, and MLB Network is ready to bring viewers all the coverage possible from San Diego.

The network is devoting 38 hours of live programming on-site, with shows like MLB Tonight, Hot Stove, High Heat, MLB Now and Intentional Talk emanating from the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Coverage will begin on Sunday at 7 p.m. with MLB Tonight leading into the announcement of the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee’s election results for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Fans tuning in to MLB Network can expect to see Greg Amsinger, Fran Charles, Brian Kenny, Stephen Nelson, Alanna Rizzo, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Lauren Shehadi and Matt Vasgersian hosting their respective shows throughout the week. Sean Casey, Mark DeRosa, Al Leiter, Cameron Maybin, Kevin Millar, Dan O’Dowd, Steve Phillips and Harold Reynolds will contribute coverage as analysts.

MLB Network will also carry coverage of the inaugural draft lottery from the winter meetings on Tuesday, December 6 at 8:30 p.m.

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Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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