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Fox Sports NFL Director Rich Russo On the Keys to a Successful Broadcast

“I do go through certain situations on gameday with all the camera operators whether it’s stories, specific shots we are looking for.”

Ricky Keeler

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Fox Sports

During NFL Sundays, fans are on the edge of their seats waiting to hear what Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have to say during a game broadcast. In addition to the fans, the people in the Fox production truck are also listening so they can get to things as quickly as possible.

This past week, the lead NFL director at Fox Sports, Rich Russo, was on The WormCast: How Sports Media Happens podcast with host Jason Wormser. Russo, who has directed four Super Bowls on Fox and six Super Bowls for NFL International, discussed how listening in the truck for him and Richie Zyontz (lead producer) is key to a successful broadcast.

“For us in the truck, it’s really about listening,” Russo explained. “Just having conversations with Troy and talking to Troy about what he’s looking for during the game could maybe help me anticipate where he may be going. They are very good at playing off the monitor. The ability to listen is very important.”

One of the things that Russo gives Buck credit for is the way he is able to build a drama during any game and he knows what direction to take the broadcast at any given time:

“That verbiage has to be pretty quick, pretty succinct as to what they want, what they are looking for,” said Russo. “Even if I wasn’t working with the crew, if you turn on a game that Joe and Troy are doing, it’s a huge game. I think they do such an amazing job… Joe is so good at building the drama. He is so understanding of when to lay out, when the crowd is going crazy, or when to hear the cadence of the quarterback. That’s not easy to do. He really knows.”

That preparation for a game broadcast involves looking into certain things that may happen during the game following the prep work done by the broadcast and production crew. Russo will hear from Aikman what his key points of emphasis might be, and the director might make it a point to get to it quicker than when Aikman might have otherwise.

“I do go through certain situations on gameday with all the camera operators whether it’s stories, specific shots we are looking for,” Russo said.

“Maybe Troy, for example, wants to see the safeties earlier where maybe the safeties disguise some of their coverages, so I may say I’m going to get to the play-by-play camera a little earlier so we can, in fact, see those. Troy likes to telestrate prior to the snap, so I just want to warn our camera guys about that and to look out for that. There’s a lot of different variables that go into these discussions prior to the game.”

In terms of how game broadcasts could potentially be improved in the future, Russo said that while he loves audio, the networks are not allowed to use it all:

“I always love audio when we go back and you watch NFL Films when you hear these guys mic’d,” he said. “It’s all after-the-fact. It’s all in post. There have been times where we have mic’d players in Super Bowls. You can only use a certain amount of audio. I sometimes wish with that audio, we can do a little more in real time and I’m not so sure we can get to that. Some of that audio, I sometimes wish, we can incorporate into our games at times.”

During this podcast, Russo also goes into the details of what the prep for the Super Bowl is like when Fox has the broadcast, so it is another way to prepare for the big game coming up on Sunday. 

Sports Radio News

Andrew Fillipponi: Peter Burns Made ‘Innocuous Joke’ To Ben Watson

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

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The on-air spat between SEC Network host Peter Burns and analyst Ben Watson continues to be bandied about in sports media circles, with 93.7 The Fan hosts Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller discussing the topic Tuesday.

“I’m on Team Burns,” Fillipponi said.

“Forget who’s team you’re on,” Chris Mueller said. “I think you’ve do have to keep the wives and children out of this.”

“What are you talking about, keep the wives and out of it?!,” Fillipponi asked.

“Do we believe this is work or shoot here?,” Mueller wondered.

“Oh, I think this is real,” Fillpponi added, which Mueller agreed.

“Do you think a close fist from Ben Watson hit Peter Burns?,” Mueller asked.

“No, I think he picked him up by the lapels,” Fillipponi said.

When the subject of Watson’s religion was brought up, Fillipponi then pointed out the absurdity of the situation.

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

“I think he might have a shorter fuse and not taking in humor that Peter Burns was giving out,” Mueller said.

“It was an innocuous joke!,” Fillipponi stated. “It wasn’t a joke! Why is it in bad taste?”

Mueller then added the idea of Watson’s wife texting Burns insinuates there’s an inappropriate relationship.

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Sports Radio News

Craig Carton: Booger McFarland’s Zach Wilson Analysis ‘An Embarrasment’

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Craig Carton

ESPN NFL analyst Booger McFarland raised eyebrows on Monday Night Countdown this week by saying New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has never been held accountable for his actions because he was a “young man who grew up with a lot of money”. WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton called out McFarland’s comments Tuesday as outlandish.

“It was an embarrasment,” Carton said. “Someone should ask Booger McFarland if his kids — who grew up with amazing wealth — have accountability in their lives or if having a little bit of money in your pocket immediately discounts the possibility to have accountability. He’s an idiot and we learned that last night.”

“It’s funny that Steve Young was on the other side of it,” Evan Roberts noted. “Because a long time ago, Steve Young criticized Chris Simms because he’s the son of a famous quarterback.”

“You don’t have to invent reasons for why Zach Wilson isn’t playing well,” added Carton. “Just watch his tape. He’s not playing well. Maybe he’s just not good!”

Carton later said NFL reporters “will try to make a name for themselves by putting out a story” about quarterbacks who take responsibility for their teams failures, while Wilson wouldn’t accept the blame.

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Sports Radio News

Greg Hill: Ben Watson, Peter Burns Drama Was A Bit

“Be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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Peter Burns and Ben Watson shared an awkward exchange during the halftime show of an SEC Network football game over the weekend, and many are still debating whether Watson walking off the set was serious or not. Count part of the cast of The Greg Hill Show on WEEI as doubters.

“That was a a bit,” Courtney Cox said. “That was absolutely a bit.”

“Yeah, unlike the Chris Rock/Will Smith thing, I assume that was a bit,” Hill said. “I can’t believe that Ben Watson is really angry about that.”

“I dunno, man. There’s been a lot of speculation that it isn’t,” Jermaine Wiggins added. “There are people who are very sensitive about you clowning on them or joking with them. Especially with joking about their wife. Some people can’t handle jokes like that.”

After a back-and-forth with Cox about the legitimacy of the joke, Wiggins concluded by saying for some folks family is off limits.

“I’ve learned something in my 47 years on this Earth: be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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