NBC Sports Talk is Low-Key but Enjoyable
December 30, 2011 3 Comments
Michael Hiestand has a piece on the new NBC Sports Network today. It’s worth reading, despite his clear lack of knowledge about the Summit Series (I know, Hiestand dumb on hockey? Stunner) there’s some good information. The network will be getting an NFL pre-game show at 10 a.m. on Sundays at some point. Among the various notes included is that NBC Sports Talk, the network’s nightly 6 p.m. ET show, will be expanding with an 11 p.m. ET version sometime next year.
Who knows if there’ll be differences, but if the 11 p.m. show is anything like the 6 p.m. show, I’ll be fine tuning into it after hockey every night. I haven’t really said anything about the show, because it takes time for them to develop, but after three months or so on the air (the show premiered on NFL opening night), I feel safe in commenting on the groove the show’s gotten into. NBC Sports Talk may not break any new ground, but it provides an interesting, refreshingly low-key take on sports chat.
What, in my opinion, separates the show from others is it’s lack of ego. Russ Thaler, a Comcast Sportsnet ex-pat, is a rare treat in sports broadcasting: a completely ego-free, but still high energy host. He manages to churn something good out of the varied guests (from former NFL players Trevor Pryce and Amani Toomer to the network’s bevy of NHL analysts) without letting it go off the rails or let the analysts take over. It feels like an actual conversation about sports is taking place.
The show isn’t big on highlights, so it’ll be worth seeing what an 11 p.m. show would include in terms of that. But they do pack the show with guests and coverage of big events. The network’s team from the MLB GM meetings, featuring Craig Calcaterra and Rob Neyer, was surprisingly good (it’d be nice if they’d done something similar from the NHL owners and GM meetings, since they have the rights and all). The cast of regular guests, including Calcaterra, Spencer Hall, Mike Halford and Jason Brough, and Adrian Wojnarowski, consistently bring something to the table, but it’s Thaler’s ability to converse in the lingo of pretty much any sport (there was a legitimate discussion of soccer around MLS Cup time even!) that ties it all together.
The show’s focus on the NFL can be a little overbearing at times, even on the non-designated football days Monday and Friday. But overall, Sports Talk takes a balanced look at sports every night, and jam packs the thing with guests. I know I occasionally post the ratings for the show sometimes, and they’re not blowing anything out of the water, but give it a shot. Help out the NBC folks and help out hockey. Turn on NBCSN at 6 p.m. and don’t leave until Roenick’s breathed his last breath on Overtime, and see if it changes your sports routine at all. I’m glad the show is hear to stay, it appears.