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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

Sports TV News

Warriors Fans Throw Objects At Charles Barkley On Inside the NBA Set

“Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.”

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TNT/Larry Brown Sports

Charles Barkley is no stranger to being the object of fans’ ire. The cities of San Antonio and Cleveland have a history of being the butt of the Round Mound of Rebound’s jokes. Thursday night in San Francisco, fans of the Warriors took things to a different level, throwing objects at Barkley on the Inside the NBA set.

The TNT studio show was broadcasting live from outside the Chase Center. The crowd chanted “Chuck, you suck!” at Barkley before the game. After Golden State clinched a birth in the NBA Finals, things got physical.

Fans threw things at the set, including a rolled-up t-shirt, which hit Charles Barkley in the back of the head. That resulted in Barkley leaving his seat and bowing up to the audience.

“Come on Chuck!” Ernie Johnson pleaded as Kenny Smith repeatedly said “Sit down Chuck.”

Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.

Now that the Western Conference Finals are over, TNT’s NBA schedule has concluded. That doesn’t mean Charles Barkley won’t return to San Francisco for the NBA Finals, but it is highly unlikely given the reception he has received there.

Barkley spent most of the postseason telling Golden State fans they were annoying and need to shut up and saying the city of San Francisco has “dirty ass streets”.

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Jon Miller To Call MLB Sunday Leadoff Game On Peacock

“According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict.”

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Rich Eisen Show

Legendary play-by-play man Jon Miller will be returning to the national broadcast booth on Sunday. He will call the San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds game for Peacock. He’ll be joined in the booth by Barry Larkin and Shawn Estes.

According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict. Benetti, the regular play-by-play voice of Peacock’s MLB Sunday Leadoff, is also the television voice of the Chicago White Sox. NBC Sports Chicago has prioritized this weekend’s series between the White Sox and Cubs, making Benetti unavailable to the national broadcast.

Miller has been calling Giants games since 1997 and previously shared the Sunday Night Baseball booth on ESPN with hall of famer Joe Morgan.

The broadcast, called MLB Sunday Leadoff, will begin at 11 a.m. with pregame coverage hosted by Ahmed Fareed. The game broadcast begins at 11:30 a.m.

The game will take place in an exclusive two-hour broadcast window prior to the start of the rest of the league’s day of games.

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Sports TV News

Amazon Eyeing Pat McAfee For Thursday Night Football Megacast

“No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.’

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First it was the Mannings. Now it’s McAfee. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that Pat McAfee could be at the center of an alternate broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Amazon in the 2022 season.

No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.

Rumors of Amazon’s interest in McAfee began to bubble up last month. While he never directly addressed them, he did make mention on his show that he was “up to something” and insinuated that Amazon wasn’t the only company he was talking to.

McAfee has said on his show in the past that he wants to be part of an NFL broadcast. However, he is firm in that it would not be in the broadcast booth.

“I can’t call games. Not yet,” McAfee said on a show in February. “Have to be done with this show to call games. Because that’s like a 3-day, 4-day thing.” 

In addition to his daily show, McAfee is also committed to the WWE. He is on the road for Smackdown every Friday.

There is no word on exactly what a Pat McAfee-centered broadcast would look like. When reports first came out regarding discussions with McAfee, Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported that moving The Pat McAfee Show to Amazon was on the table. If that happens, it would make sense to use his entire crew on the Thursday Night Football presentation.

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