ArenaFan Interview: ESPN Producer Bryan Ryder
Q. What does ESPN have planned for the AFL as far as getting the word out?
A. Mike and Mike as you know will be our lead announcing crew. They have their morning show on ESPN and they have been talking about it every day since we made the announcement of them being involved. The publicity we are getting from that is immeasurable. They keep talking about it, the word is out and when we come on the air March 4th on ABC we are really excited to be part of it.
We need to personalize these guys. We know Arena Football has been around for 20 years. NBC is coming off their contract but ESPN has a history of taking products and getting them mainstreamed and getting behind them, so we are looking forward to doing that.
Q. What are the plans on getting the AFL exposed on ESPN.com? Right now there is very little exposure for the AFL on the site now.
A. Our website people will have a regular tab you will click on, just like you see NFL, NHL, NBA etc. It will be Arena Football it will be on the front page and you click and go to that site. They're just about getting up and running now, so it will be full between ESPN.com and our 360 and ESPNEWS and SportsCenter and the radio, so its going be out on the things that we have.
Q. So is ESPN and ESPNEWS going show highlights of games, maybe do some feature stories on players in the AFL?
A. Absolutely, in an editorial standpoint when SportsCenter does weekly features if there is a story that warrants it. Of course highlights will be on ESPNNEWS, ESPN2 on Sports Center if it is our top 10 plays on the night. It’s going be in the mainstream, we are going treat it like anything else. We own a 10% stake in this so, that’s one factor, and we are also broadcasting 18 regular season games, the playoffs and the ArenaBowl.
Q. Last year ESPN did a very good AFL podcast. Is that going be continued this season?
A. I’m not sure if they decided that or not. They have talked about doing the show again as of last week. We will be on Monday nights on ESPN2 pretty much every week from now till the end of July.
Q. During halftime of AFL games will they simply go to ESPN SportsCenter or will there be some halftime features?
A. There could be some features but what we will do is go back to the studio. It will be a regular SportsCenter like you see during college football or some of our NBA coverage, that type of situation.
Q. What is the possibility of being ESPNEWS post game extra after AFL games? Like what has been done with college football and college basketball.
A. They will be there; we will do that every time. Of our seventeen regular season games we will do our ESPNEWS extra after game, get the guys up recap the game.
Q. In future seasons will ESPN try to get more AFL teams on because right now the Philadelphia Soul have seven games on.
A. The programming department is going work towards that. As you know the deal was done extremely late, it was done end of December early January. It was a situation in terms of arena access in buildings. It was a lot of factors that went into why certain teams are on and not on. We got a five-year deal, as we move forward we can look forward to seeing all of them on the air.
Q. Its been mentioned by some media that Philadelphia Soul President Ron Jaworksi doing AFL games is a conflict of interest. Do you feel that way?
A. No, because he is not going be doing Philadelphia games. Ron is a professional, we all know Jaws, and I don’t see it as an issue at all.
Q. Have Mike and Mike been doing any test games?
A. Yes, we have done two rehearsal games. We finished one yesterday morning after their radio show. They were playing a lot of the funny bits this morning throughout the radio show.
Q. Is it a plus that Mike Golic has prior AFL broadcasting experience?
A. Absolutely, anytime you know that you have knowledge and insight that is going help you. They have a great chemistry and that’s what we have really capitalized on our announcing crews with Jaws and Merril Hoge, Trey Wingo and Mark Schlereth and Mike and Mike being the other crew. These guys have built in chemistry; they have worked together all year long. So it’s going be a tremendous asset to us as the broadcasts move forward.
Fran Stuchbury has been the host of ArenaZone since 2003. In 2002 he was the co-host of ArenaFan Radio with Tim Capper. While in school, Fran was the host of the original ArenaZone radio show on his college radio station, where he interviewed many league names such as Kurt Warner, league founder Jim Foster, and Commissioner David Baker. Fran lives in Southampton, Pennsylvania and works for the website SportsNetwork. Fran will be attending all the Philadelphia Soul home games this season and will be covering arena football for ArenaFan Radio and OurSportsCentral. He has followed the AFL since its first game back in 1987 and has been part of the media since 1998.