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Brandon Gaudin Is A Familiar Voice In a New Place

“Everybody on the outside that looks at this job… always says, ‘Man, that must be so cool. You’re getting to live out your dream.”

Derek Futterman

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The Atlanta Braves are a storied organization and an epitome of sustained success, consistently fielding a championship team and creating a stellar sports and entertainment experience for fans. For the last 46 years, Braves fans watched games on television and heard a member of the Caray family broadcasting games – Skip from 1976 until his death in 2008; and Chip from 2005 until 2022. On March 30, Braves fans will notice a new commentary voice in Brandon Gaudin, living out his childhood dream amid the team’s quest for a championship.

Throughout one’s professional career, there are unforgettable moments where a person can vividly recall where they were and the details of what happened. Some people experience more of these moments than others which are firmly etched into the subconscious, the connotation thereof notwithstanding. For Gaudin, his latest moment came approximately two weeks ago when he received the job offer to serve as the television play-by-play voice of the Atlanta Braves.

Gaudin’s journey to reach this point took him across the United States, finding opportunities and adequately performing his role while always possessing a growth mindset. It all began with a trip to Atlanta, Ga. to visit his aunt and uncle to attend Game 5 of the 1991 World Series at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Tom Glavine started the game for Atlanta and a triple by second baseman Mark Lemke ultimately put the contest out of reach – Braves 14, Twins 5.

“When I left the park that night with my foam tomahawk in my hand, I was head over heels,” Gaudin said. “That night, I didn’t know I was going to be a broadcaster for my career, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of Braves baseball.”

Cognizant that games were televised, Gaudin began fervently watching the team in the evenings on TBS featuring the broadcast crew of Chip Caray, Don Sutton, Joe Simpson and Pete Van Wieren. He learned an interminable amount of information about the franchise, including, of course, the 1995 squad that captured a World Series championship. In fact, Gaudin can still recite every starting lineup for the Atlanta Braves from 1991 to 1999.

At the age of 13, Gaudin penned a letter to Caray asking him for advice on how to become a broadcaster and to adequately stay composed during a big moment. He explained his fandom, divulged some of the games he had attended and mentioned how everyone in his family thought he should try working in sports media. A few months later, Gaudin received a reply from Caray where he recommended publications to read and subjects to study. Additionally, he implored him to learn how to manage his voice and expand his lexicon through reading.

“He was really the most influential person, even though I was so young, in my broadcasting career,” Gaudin said of Caray. “When I was calling baseball games to start out [at] college, everything that I knew I had learned from him really from just watching countless Braves games on TBS.”

With a vast portfolio, Gaudin attended the MLB Winter Meetings resolute in his quest to land a broadcasting job. For $500 a month, he became the new play-by-play announcer and media relations director for the Orem Owlz, a former Pioneer League-affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. Even though the team played an abbreviated, 76-game season over an 80-day span, Gaudin and other broadcasters knew it would be a grind. By the end of the season, which consisted of bus rides through the intermountain west surrounding Orem, Utah and fast-food meals galore, Gaudin remained hungry to do more.

“I think that minor league season and getting a start there was fitting because baseball was my love and my passion,” Gaudin said. “….It opened my eyes that I was on the right track.”

Gaudin continued broadcasting baseball at the University of Evansville, along with serving as the voice of its basketball team and general manager of its student-run radio station WUEV-FM. Before that though, he remained home to help care for his father who had suffered a serious heart attack days after the conclusion of the Orem Owlz baseball season. “Thankfully, he’s still here; he didn’t pass, but it was very serious and there was about a five or six-month recovery,” Gaudin said.

In August 2010, Gaudin returned to his alma mater to become the new play-by-play voice of the Butler University Bulldogs men’s basketball team. Broadcasting a sport with a rapid tempo, Gaudin made sure to be concise and comprehensive in his storytelling. Moreover, he sought to pace himself and refrain from expounding on all of his ideas, leaving time for his analyst to chime in. Simultaneously, this shift provided him a chance to effectively call significant plays with proper verve and subsequent extolment.

“I think when you listen to the greats and the ones who really have had a lot of success in the industry, that’s a big key of just making it a comfortable listen and not over-talking for the viewers at home,” Gaudin said. “….Let the crowd and the game dictate the level of excitement in your voice, and I think that’s a key to success for any broadcaster.”

When he was named as the new radio voice of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football, men’s basketball and baseball, Gaudin officially made the move to Atlanta where he resides today.

During that time, he not only honed his craft but took a further liking to the city itself. One year later, he joined Westwood One to call select NFL games and part of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, sharpening his play-by-play skills on the aural medium.

Presently, he estimates his duties only account for about 3 to 5% of his total work, but nonetheless looks to remain involved in radio because of the unique aspects of the medium.

“There’s just something so pure, and it throws you back to the old days, about calling a game on the radio where the listener’s completely vulnerable to your words,” Gaudin explained. “On television, they’ve got the pictures. I always say on TV [that] you’re helping put the game in high-definition, but they can see what’s going on. On radio, they’re completely vulnerable to what you’re saying because they don’t have the pictures.”

The Madden NFL franchise has redefined sports video gaming since its advent in 1988, providing fans with a way to participate in the game with genuine plays and NFL rosters. Over its 35-year history, a select few broadcasters have had the opportunity to provide play-by-play commentary in the game, including Pat Summerall, Al Michaels, Tom Hammond, Gus Johnson and Jim Nantz.

For Madden NFL 17, those involved in the game’s development looked to change direction and bring in an up-and-coming broadcaster to fill the role. Much to his surprise, Gaudin was contacted on LinkedIn by a producer at EA Sports who had heard him call a Georgia Tech play featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter, and proceeded to invite him for an audition. After he auditioned, Gaudin was optimistic and considered himself a “dark-horse candidate” to be the voice of a video game he had played with his friends while growing up. One month later, he received the phone call of a lifetime shortly before playing pickup basketball with friends at a gym.

“It was one of the coolest feelings you could ever experience,” he said. “They asked, ‘Are you interested still?,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I would love to do it.’ To continue to do that almost eight years later, it’s been a really, really neat journey.”

Joined by analyst Charles Davis, Gaudin records various lines each year that are programmed to be implemented in the video game. Oftentimes, courses of dialogue could span multiple years, requiring consistent intonation and prosody to achieve a smooth, consistent sound. Even though they do not call live NFL games together, Davis has become an important figure in Gaudin’s broadcasting career, guiding him and being there for advice.

“Over the last seven years, I’ve truly spent more time in-person and on the phone with Charles than anybody else outside of my family,” Gaudin said. “He’s become a close friend, and he’s just been such a good mentor and given me wisdom and advice on everything career-related [and] personal-related. He’s just been in my corner and a lifelong friend.”

Gaudin expects to continue his role with the Madden NFL franchise, along with balancing several other jobs. Since 2016, Gaudin has broadcast football, basketball and baseball on the Big Ten Network, demonstrating his adept versatility as a play-by-play announcer. Additionally, he broadcasts MLB, NFL and NCAA basketball and football games on FOX Sports, and is often asked by viewers whether or not he finds it difficult changing from one sport to the next.

“There are nuances to each that you have to be aware of that kind of change how you broadcast the game,” he explained, “but ultimately, the core of what you’re doing and how you’re conversing with your analyst and how you’re weaving in stories; that all stays the same. I didn’t realize that, I would say, as much 10 years ago than I do now that it is transferable sport-to-sport.”

Caray had served as a play-by-play voice of the Atlanta Braves for the last 20 seasons across various mediums, but he grew up around St. Louis and the Cardinals, making the opening in their television booth that much more appealing. Additionally, both his grandfather Harry and father Skip served as Cardinals broadcasters during their careers, giving him a chance to continue the family’s legacy with the franchise.

“Chip reminded me a lot of his dad who I grew up listening to for all those years,” Gaudin said. “He certainly inherited a lot of the same phrases and things his dad did. For me, it was always kind of nostalgic listening to Chip because I felt like I was kind of listening to Skip through him.”

In departing from the Braves, the play-by-play role Gaudin had coveted from the time he was young suddenly became open. Gaudin, though, had experienced a shift in his thinking over his career centered on remaining in the present rather than hypothesizing about the future. In spite of this, he understood it was a chance he could not pass up and visited Truist Park, the home of the Braves, to be interviewed.

In a one-hour meeting, Gaudin conversed with Bally Sports South/Southeast Executive Producer James Shapiro and Senior Vice President and General Manager Jeff Genthner to discuss his interest in the role and career path. He then proceeded to meet with Atlanta Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller and General Manager and President of Baseball Operations Alex Anthopoulos where he learned more about the direction and vision of the organization. Implicitly, their presence communicated a sentiment about the franchise seldom substantiated across professional sports.

“The fact that the president and general manager of this club want to talk to the candidates for an announcing position says a lot about where the franchise is and how they view their television crew because that wouldn’t happen everywhere,” Gaudin said. “I’ve been in some of those meetings and that’s pretty rare to get two of the top people in the organization that want to sit down and chat with you.”

As a local broadcaster, Gaudin knows it is incumbent on him to render the broadcast towards Braves fans. Over the last few years, the team has signed young players to long-term contracts including catcher Sean Murphy; infielders Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley; outfielder Michael Harris; and starting pitcher Spencer Strider. These core players will suit up for the Braves for many years to come, giving fans the chance to learn about them over the next decade.

The differentiating factor will be in informing viewers about the opponent, an aspect of the broadcast Gaudin is used to from doing national games. He thoroughly enjoys researching and reporting on players, personnel and organizations, conveying that information to the fans – albeit at more of a “30,000-foot view.”

“Certainly the first year as I’m getting into this, even though I’ve done MLB [for] the last couple of years, you’ve got to get that groove of kind of learning who is where and the stories behind each player,” Gaudin said. “The prep will be more in year one than in subsequent years, and I know that and every broadcaster that has reached out to me has told me that.”

An ostensible advantage Gaudin may have in entering the position at this time will be adjusting to rule change, instituted with the intent to expedite pace of play and increase offense. A pitch clock, for example, will be implemented into games this season – 15 seconds with the bases empty; 20 seconds with runners on base – necessitating brevity in commentary. Additionally, the league has limited defensive shifts, requiring two infielders to play on either side of second base, along with introducing bigger bases to prevent injuries and encourage more steals.

“With the pitch clock being quicker and these pitchers having to deliver maybe 3-4 seconds faster in-between pitches than normal, you’re going to have to be more aware of your storytelling and pacing than before,” Gaudin said. “Three-to-four seconds may not sound like a lot, but if you’re trying to finish up a point before the next pitch… you’re going to have to tidy things up a little bit.”

From the moment he received the call with the life-altering news on Feb. 7, Gaudin has been working diligently to prepare for the upcoming season. Whether it is watching previous games, reading articles or compiling information on the team, he hopes to be as prepared as possible by his first broadcast on March 23 in North Port, Fla. in a spring training matchup against the rival New York Mets. In addition to his preparation, he will be broadcasting college basketball in both the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament, along with the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, making him quite busy in the next few months.

What should make the upcoming season more facile for Gaudin is that the Braves are expected to compete for a World Series championship. In his meeting with Schiller and Anthopolous though, he stated that he would aim to bring passion and enthusiasm for the team regardless of their on-field play. The team has won the National League East division title for five consecutive seasons including a World Series championship in 2021, giving him flashbacks to his childhood.

“Certainly it is an exciting time to be taking over this job because of the success that the Braves have had,” Gaudin said. “It truly reminds me of a lot of what they had going in the ‘90s when I became a fan of the team when they were just rattling off title after title after title, and they had just this bevy of talent that was in the hopper and was going to be in the hopper for a long time.”

Gaudin recognizes that a combination of hard work, talent and luck has placed him in the positions he garners as a play-by-play announcer locally, nationally and digitally. With each broadcast, he tries to perform his job to the best of his ability and carries the intent of steadily improving. He is appreciative of every chance to step behind the microphone and deliver the action to fans by intuitively watching the game and collaborating with his analyst – an amalgamation of information and entertainment.

“It’s what I call a candy-store job,” Gaudin said. “Everybody on the outside that looks at this job… always says, ‘Man, that must be so cool. You’re getting to live out your dream. I would love to be able to do that.’ When you hear those comments, it just reminds you [that] yeah, you’re pretty fortunate to do this for a living.”

Most broadcasters have an avidity for the sports they call and keep a consistent pulse on its ceaseless news cycle. The motivating factor of being in sports media, however, differs between professionals; some want to ascend to national positions of eminence and prestige, while others are content with where they are.

Because of the scarcity of national broadcasting jobs, very few aspiring play-by-play announcers reach that point in their careers, let alone remain at it for an extended period of time. Gaudin is open to the idea of one day having a chance to call a Super Bowl or a World Series, but is not fixated on those goals and instead tries to live in the moment. For now, he looks forward to the first pitch of the Braves season and immerse himself in, as he put it, “the realization of a childhood dream.”

“If you get into it because you see the big dollars at the end possibly or being known and having your face on television, that will ultimately, likely, lead to you being upset because there’s so few that get to that spot,” Gaudin expressed. “The majority of us are just calling games because we really like the art of broadcasting and storytelling…. Just make sure that your heart is in it because if not, you might find out that you don’t like as much as you thought you did.”

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Jen Lada Has Built a Multiplatform Presence at ESPN

“I always say my job is to make the viewer care about somebody and root for somebody that they might ordinarily not root for or care about.”

Derek Futterman

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Jen Lada
Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

When Jen Lada appeared on Around the Horn earlier in the month, she became the 58th panelist to be part of the program since its launch in 2002. Facing off against three other panelists from around the country, she garnered a victory in her on-air debut and elicited plaudits from her colleagues. Throughout the program, Lada demonstrated her deft sports knowledge and nuanced opinions that have crafted her into a venerated, skilled reporter at the network.

Although she had appeared on many ESPN programs previously, Around the Horn represented a show to which she wanted to contribute for many years. In fact, she has memories of watching the show just out of Marquette University and remarking about its brilliance and ingenuity.

Utilizing reporters with comprehensive knowledge of various sports who have chronicled several events, the show provides them an opportunity to give their opinions on issues and engage in debate with their contemporaries. Lada earned a spot on the show by being persistent, continuing to express her proficiency in commentary and sports discussion. The journey to arrive at this stage of her career, through which she has realized high-level assignments and a presence both at the local and national level, required adaptability and fortitude, and she continues to never take opportunities for granted.

“It’s great that I won, but it just sets the bar really high for the next time I go out there, which is not something I’m afraid of,” Lada said. “I love a challenge, and I love proving to myself that I can keep trying new things and doing new things well, and I hope that if people see me as some sort of example in the industry, that that’s what they walk away with.”

The approach adopted by Lada within her multifarious career ventures is to develop and maintain versatility, always innovating within her approach to content. As she looks to build off her initial victory on Around the Horn, she aims to be more compendious in her discourse and applying a more succinct approach. Making the adjustment in order to deliver compelling, distinctive points quickly differs from her other work, but it is all ultimately centered on sports.

While studying at Marquette University, she observed her classmates having a conversation about the men’s basketball team and what had happened in a recent game. Lada, who at the time was dating a player on the team and cheerleading at games, began to give her thoughts and was subsequently asked if she had ever considered sportscasting.

“I didn’t know that women could be sportscasters,” Lada said. “It wasn’t on my radar as a real career that women held because there were so few of them at the time doing it, and so once I realized that that was something I could do, then I kind of turned all my attention to, ‘Well, how do I make this happen?’”

As Lada began to complete internships and navigate through the media industry, she learned to develop a thick skin and refined her conduct. Out of school, she had completed a year of a non-paid sports internship and was waitressing on the side to pay the bills. The first interview she took for a job at a television station in a top-10 market ended with her being sexually harassed. It was a jarring experience that disappointed Lada because of her propensity to give people the benefit of the doubt, and it also forced her to evaluate her own disposition.

“I think it’s only natural that you wonder how you contributed to the circumstance or what you could have done differently to maybe not put yourself in that space,” Lada said, “but I was very lucky that when I told my family about what had occurred, they very quickly knocked any notion of that out of my head.”

In navigating the industry with good intentions, Lada recognized that it is not her fault if other people fail at treating others professionally and create a misogynistic work environment. Receiving the lesson early in her career has made her more aware of the people to avoid, and she remains wary of advice given to women in the industry that they should just be nice. Lada was recently on a panel where someone advised a broadcast class that being nice would result in things working out for them in the future.

“I felt myself cringing internally because I don’t think that that is a luxury women are afforded,” Lada said. “I don’t think – maybe now is different, but when I was coming up, and I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, there were people who preyed on niceness. And so the way that I would tweak that is to be professional; to carry yourself in a professional manner and recognize that sometimes being ‘traditionally nice’ puts a target on your back to be mistreated, and the best thing you can do is alert those people who would see you as a target that you’re not going to fall victim to that or you refuse to be victim to that.”

Lada joined ESPN in 2015 where she was hired to contribute to Colin Cowherd’s radio program. When Cowherd left the network and joined FOX Sports on a full-time basis, she started co-hosting a new, national program alongside Jorge Sedano. The show, however, had an evanescent run and left her feeling as if she had failed.

It took her a full year to recognize that she had been involved in a series of circumstances and decided to enact the necessary change, asking producers for advice and attending seminars. One of these was an interviewing course hosted by journalist John Sawatsky where he synthesized the art of the craft. Akin to when she was in college, she overheard in passing that the network needed more women in the features space.

“I was fortunate enough to have done a lot of features during my time in Milwaukee because we had a 9 p.m. newscast that required a local sports feature every night of the week, so between our three-person department, we had to fill that timeslot,” Lada said. “I had done a lot of lengthy sports features in Milwaukee [and] had a good foundation of what that job required.”

The meeting led to Lada doing features on an interim basis at the network and later granted her a spot on College GameDay, where she works as its features reporter. Lada presents stories every week to the audience that go beyond the gameplay and divulge a bigger picture.

“I always say my job is to make the viewer care about somebody and root for somebody that they might ordinarily not root for or care about,” Lada said. “One of the things that has occurred to me over the last few years is just what a skill is required to do that job well because not only are you preparing questions to ensure that you have all of the details and information, you’re also gathering perspective on what they’ve been through – the adversity and the situation that has led them to where they are now.”

Lada recently found herself in a high school classroom at 8 a.m. sitting with other students taking the ACT standardized test. She had to complete the exam as punishment for finishing last in fantasy football at ESPN Milwaukee this past season. After four hours, Lada emerged from the school and revealed her score this past week on the Jen, Gabe, and Chewy morning show. Hosting the local program alongside Gabe Neitzel and Mark Chmura, she has established chemistry over almost four years in the three-person format discussing hyperlocal topics.

“I try to be conversational,” Lada said. “We don’t lean on stats – obviously, we want to be accurate, and we want to be, again, fair to the subjects we’re talking about, but we try to also just be friends who are talking about what’s going on on any given day on the Milwaukee [and] Wisconsin sports scene.”

In balancing a variety of different roles, Lada has tried to master everything that she is doing, refraining from being content with her abilities. Although working in local radio regularly has been a newer role for her, she has grown into the job and has co-hosts who understand the subject matter and allow her to utilize her strengths.

“I just want to keep learning,” Lada said. “I’m not satisfied with what I’ve done, [and] I’m not complacent about the skills I have. I’m always interested in adding more jobs to the résumé, and I think that in this industry, you’re rewarded for versatility.”

Once College GameDay commences, Lada adds the responsibility of feature reporting on that program to her schedule and continues making appearances across additional ESPN programming. Lada hosted the Friday edition of College Football Live last season and has also filled in as a host on shows such as First Take and SportsCenter. Moreover, she continues to complete projects for SC Featured and is working on a documentary for E:60 scheduled to premiere later in the summer. 

Lada aims to keep showcasing her indefatigable work ethic and passion for the craft without slowing down. Whether it is hosting a podcast, taking part in more panels or writing essays, she is open to exploring new forms of disseminating stories.

“I have a lot of knowledge and experience rattling around my brain, [and] I think the next iteration is figuring out a way to continue passing those experiences on to the next generation.” Lada said. “I don’t ever want to gatekeep the secrets of success – I think that’s selfish – so as I continue to do the media work, I think the next phase for me is figuring out how to pass a lot of these lessons on to future broadcasting generations.”

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Local Radio Advertisers Can Become Experts with Hosted Shows and Interviews

Overall, local radio interviews and talk shows can be a strategic and effective way for a local expert to enhance their business, build their reputation, and connect with the community.

Jeff Caves

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Photo of people talking on the radio

When looking for that extra edge for local radio advertisers, packaging radio commercials with an “expert” client-hosted talk show or interviews on your local shows or newscasts can be a game-changer. This strategy can build long-term business relationships with suitable clients, such as lawyers, business accountants, agents, psychologists, or sports handicappers. These professionals can provide valuable editorial contributions to sports and news stations. Of course, the expert must have good communication skills, be comfortable speaking their mind, and be ready to be the face of the business.

The radio commercials can tout the expertise the person has and give a call to action for listeners to move on. You can often find these experts on social media writing blogs or doing a series of vignettes about their business. For these types of clients, engaging in local radio news interviews or hosting a 1-2 hour talk show can enjoy several advantages:

Visibility and Brand Recognition

Visibility and Brand Recognition: Regular appearances on local radio help the expert become a well-known figure in the community. This visibility can lead to increased recognition and brand awareness and is a much faster track than just blogging on social media. Attorney Bill Handel and his ” Handel on the Law” show have created a directory business for Handel.

Public Trust and Credibility

By sharing their expertise and providing timely insights, the expert can build trust and establish credibility with the audience. Being perceived as an expert can enhance any client’s reputation and create top-of-mind awareness needed to lead business categories.

Client Acquisition

Listeners impressed by the expert’s knowledge and demeanor may seek their services. This exposure can lead to new clients who might not have been reached through other forms of advertising and give credibility to the expert who uses social media.

Community Engagement

Engaging with the local community through radio shows helps experts connect with potential clients more personally. This can foster a sense of community and loyalty. Question and answer segments can lead to deeper connections.

Educational Outreach

The expert can educate the audience on various issues, which can empower the audience. An informed audience is more likely to recognize when they need the expert’s assistance and whom to contact.

Stand Out in a Crowd

Stand out in a crowd: Being active on local radio can set the expert apart from competitors who may not use local radio. Often, the local shows or interview segments are exclusive to the expert.

Immediate Audience Feedback

Interacting with the audience through call-ins or live questions provides immediate feedback and allows the expert to address common concerns directly in real-time. The expert can be of service NOW.

Professional Development

Regularly discussing current topics can keep the expert sharp on trends and issues, contributing to their ongoing professional development.

Networking

Local radio stations often have a vast network of listeners and other professionals. This can open doors to new professional relationships and opportunities for collaboration. The station also provides a loyal audience who typically don’t follow the expert on social media. But they may start to after hearing the expert.

Overall, local radio interviews and talk shows can be a strategic and effective way for a local expert to enhance their business, build their reputation, and connect with the community.

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‘We Need To Talk’ is Insightful, Intelligent Conversation on CBS Sports Network

The show is not going to be a ratings giant like ESPN’s First Take or offer the decibel level of commentary on FS1’s First Things First, but it is a necessary and unique slice of sports television.

John Molori

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A photo of the women who host We Need to Talk on CBS Sports Network
Photo Courtesy: CBS Sports Network

CBS Sports Network’s ‘We Need To Talk‘ features a rotating roundtable of female sportscasters offering their views on a variety of topics in sports. The premise is important. Female voices in sports need to be heard. They bring perspective, weighty conversation, and thoughtfulness to each discussion.

Over the past few years, women have made major strides in being heard and seen in sports media whether it is hosting, commentary, reporting or play-by-play. This is a good trend, but We Need To Talk is about more than just female talking heads. It’s about insight, depth, and needed attention to athletes and sports that do not bask in the mainstream limelight.

This particular episode featured host AJ Ross joined by Summer Sanders, Katrina Adams, and Renee Montgomery. It was an eclectic and accomplished group with Ross, an experienced and versatile reporter, Sanders, the erstwhile U.S. Swimming star and a broadcast veteran, Montgomery, the former WNBA star, activist, and co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, and Adams, former tennis player, CEO of the United States Tennis Association, and chair of the US Open.

Montgomery got the conversation going looking back on the Celtics winning the NBA Championship. She also made a telling comparison between the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, renewed in the 1980s with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and compared it to the current WNBA rivalry between the Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky with Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese. It’s a valid comparison, and Montgomery brought it to life effectively.

The WNBA was up next with Montgomery talking about Cameron Brink, the LA Sparks’ rookie who is making a splash not only on the court, but on the social media and fashion scenes as well.

It should be noted that this episode of We Need To Talk was taped before Brink suffered a season ending torn ACL, but Montgomery’s point was clear. It is not only important to be a great player. Today’s athletes also need to use multimedia platforms to raise their profiles.

Adams segued into a discussion on Wimbledon and No. 2 ranked Coco Gauff. It was good to hear some tennis talk on the airwaves, but this is a hallmark of We Need To Talk. The show makes it a point to move beyond the front-page stories and hit angles and areas that do not get much coverage.

These ladies are not afraid to get in each other’s grills as well. Sanders actually interrupted Adams to start a discussion about the upcoming Paris Olympics, but Adams would not relent and moved forward to an analysis of 2023 Wimbledon men’s singles winner Carlos Alcaraz.

The variety of sports continued with Ross starting a discussion about US track star Sha’Carri Richardson. I’ve been a fan of Ross for a long time. She does an expert job of mixing in her own commentary, while making sure all of the panelists on We Need To Talk get their due time. She’s also multitalented, seamlessly moving from reporter to host to debater.

We Need To Talk takes its roots in diversity with an all-female cast, but there is a deeper variety within the makeup of the cast. Sanders is a longtime veteran of sports, sports broadcasting, and entertainment. Ross is in the prime of her journalistic career. Adams brings perspective as an athlete, administrator, and leader, and Montgomery offers a fresh and contemporary style with her commentary.

Block 2 of the show featured Montgomery and Ross interviewing Naomi Girma of the San Diego Wave women’s professional soccer team. Girma was named 2023 US Soccer Women’s Player of the Year, the first defender to ever win that award. This is what We Need To Talk offers those who watch the show. It is almost like a smaller scale, studio version of the classic Wide World of Sports on ABC, “spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport.”

The interview was managed well with Ross asking meaningful questions and Montgomery enthusiastically following up with her thoughts and input. This edition of the program also featured a wonderfully produced feature story on USC basketball player Aaliyah Gayles.

The talented Trojan hoopster was on the fast track to basketball stardom when, in April 2022, she was shot at a house party in Las Vegas. Gayles required two emergency surgeries to save her life.

The pace, video, and sound bites in the package were equal parts frightening, sobering, and uplifting. Gayles literally had to learn how to walk again as the feature focused on her rehabilitation and eventual return to the USC lineup.

Coming back from a break, the panel engaged in a great discussion on the talent link between collegiate and US Olympic athletes. A graphic showed that 75% of Team USA athletes and 82% of United States medalists played an NCAA sport.

As the discussion expanded, Montgomery talked about the fact that in order to enter the WNBA, players have to complete four years of college or be of the age of someone who has completed four years of college. I actually did not know that. We Need To Talk passes my personal litmus test for important sports television, namely, it tells me something I don’t already know.

Bringing still another sport and recognizable female athlete into the fold, Dara Torres joined the show next for an interview. The 12-time Olympic swimming medalist talked about her new role as head coach of the Boston College men’s and women’s swim and dive teams. Sanders asked a solid question about how, as a world-class athlete, Torres will manage her expectations of the BC athletes.

 As sports continues to meld with social issues, so too does the subject matter on We Need To Talk. Ross introduced a segment on the National Gay Flag Football League. Again, kudos go to the show’s production team for a slick and enlightening feature story. Praise should also go to the program itself for expanding the boundaries of sports and opening up a whole new world of knowledge for viewers.

Following the feature story, Montgomery and Adams made a point that sports unite people and bring diverse groups and personalities together as one. Montgomery is a fast-developing on-air talent. Her wit, energy, and knowledge go far beyond the basketball court making her a rising star in sports media.

The program continued to bring sports and life together by connecting the June celebrations of Pride Month and Father’s Day with an emotional poem written by renowned DJ Zeke Thomas, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas. This was part of the We Need to Listen segment of the program.

Let’s keep it real. We Need To Talk is not going to be a ratings giant like ESPN’s First Take or offer the decibel level of commentary on FS1’s First Things First, but it is a necessary and unique slice of sports television.

The show consistently provides uncommon subject matter with an inimitable approach and tenor. Check it out when you get a chance and bring an open mind and a joy of sports. They need to talk, and we all need to hear them talk.

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