Reviewing Philly Sports Talk, Which is Basically Daily News Live with a Very Blue Set

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 4.41.10 PMOn Monday, CSN’s Daily News Live officially morphed into Philly Sports Talk thanks to Comcast and NBC’s mega conglomerate union. The show’s new name (and set– more on that in a second) is just the latest in a series of NBC-izing initiatives undertaken by CSN outlets around the country. Those stupid #[Team]Talk hashtags, the talk sections on the website and mic flags are among other, mostly cosmetic, changes.

DNL was next, apparently.

CSN has pushed the new show on us for a few weeks now (it reached a fever pitch yesterday with a homepage takeover) using corporate language like: “Philly Sports Talk will match the energy and passion of Philadelphia sports fans with entertaining and informative debates on the hot topics of the day,” said Comcast SportsNet President Brian Monihan. “We have a great relationship with the Philadelphia Daily News and are thrilled that they will continue to contribute to this new program.”

In practice: “PST is basically DNL with better graphics, a very blue set, and Game of Thrones music. But, we have to use buzz words in this release, so: Hot. Passion. Energy. Debate. Must include “debate,” because that’s worked for ESPN.”

Thankfully, the show stays mostly true to its roots – a decent mix of discussion and production – and doesn’t try too much to become First Take, which would be positively awful. I’ve always thought DNL was the best thing CSN did on a regular basis. Conversations were structured, but free-flowing and casual. A great deal of that was owed to Barkann’s talent as an informed host and facilitator. He’s really good at that, and it’s clearly his strength.

So, not much has changed: Barkann is still the host. Dan Roche is still the producer. Daily News and CSN personalities, it would seem, will remain the lion’s share of the guests (the show is still powered by the Daily News… until it’s not around anymore). There’s still a Quick Six. And news alerts are still six hours too late.

But there are some tweaks.

The new version of the show (I’m not calling it a new show, because I don’t think it is) starts off with a What’s Trending segment, a very corporatized thing (big companies love to tell you what’s trending... and by the time they do, it’s usually not trending anymore) that is basically the day’s headlines, which, come to think of it, would be a better name.

Barkann gives the show’s rundown – standing – and informs readers of the new Wild Card segment, an end-of-show block in which viewers choose between a few mostly undesirable topics. It’s gimmicky, but fine.

It sounds like Merrill Reese is doing the voiceover for the show’s opening credits. That’s cool. Though I’m not sure it fits into the whole NBC-izing thing.

Once all the whiz-bang is over, the show begins to feel familiar. Cameras zoom in on the main set, which is a modernized version of what we’re used to. Oh, and it’s blue. Very blue. Crazy blue. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING DID THEY LOOK AT THIS ON A MONITOR? blue. Eiffel 65 isn’t this blue. Really, this amount of blue would have killed Blue long before the jelly wrestling scene in Old School.

It’s too blue.

Once my receptors discovered cool hues again, I could make out the familiar setup– Barkann on the left, panelists on the right. John Gonzalez and Rich Hoffman were the choices for the first show. They are probably two of the better regulars (good move leaving David Murphy and Marcus Hayes at home for this one). The first show also featured lengthy interviews with Ryan Howard and Peter Laviolette, and there was another with Jason Kelce in the second show. Barkann’s jeans made an appearance for all three. But I wouldn’t get too used to sit-downs with heavy hitters like that on a daily basis… it seems like the favors were called in for the first show and perhaps for the first week.

Discussions feel the same. They’re accompanied by better looking and more modern, but not over the top, graphics. There seems to be a bit more producing going on, whereas DNL, at times, was very free-flowing. That can be both a good and bad thing: More structure will prevent the show from slowing to a halt (the way DNL would sometimes do), but it could also prevent some of the more entertaining unscripted moments that kept the show on the air for 15 years.

From the sound of it, we can probably expect more viewer interaction (Twitter, polls, etc.), interviews (NBC Sports personalities, Michelle Beadle??) and, yeah, blatant NBC promos (yesterday, PST used clips from both SNL and The Office… the latter made sure to feature the cross-promotional goodness of Howard’s Subway plugs). That stuff could get annoying if it’s overdone – Joe Posnanski’s appearance on the second show felt forced, and it added nothing – but I have a feeling the rest of the show will remain largely the same. And again, that’s not a bad thing. But they need to do something about the set.


17 Responses

  1. Today ricky bo’s face was so dark and shadowed you could barely see him. I also hate the set.

  2. Kyle, please disable the hover effect on the images throughout the website. Its annoying. Also, stop being gay. That, too, is annoying.

  3. The show was great when it was a 90 minute program. Then they went to 60 minutes and the show lost a bit of it’s flavor in my opinion but was still entertaining. This new show is slow and uncomfortable. Everyone on the set has the look of not wanting to say the wrong thing. I was not pleased but will continue to give this new format a chance. I wish they would have remembered the old saying “If it aint broke don’t fix it!

  4. They must have changed the name to distance themselves from that fat molester Bill Conlin

  5. I think You, Kyle, should be on the panel. Gonzos annoying and Hoffman sucks. I was lulled into a deep sleep when I anxiously rushed to the TV for the first installment. Then I looked at my finger and remembered I won a
    Super Bowl with Baltimore, so…. IM RICH BITCH

  6. Didn`t like the segment with Joe Posnanski, I miss Mike Kern and “TAGER” I don`t miss douchebags Marcus Hayes and David Murphy. John Smallwood is EXCELLENT, and Ricky Bo looked like he was sitting in the dark. Are we suppose to take Barkann seriously now because he`s wearing glasses? I don`t like the Kelce interview, bring him IN the new studio, and why have a poll question when u don`t answer it, of course everyone wants to hear about Phillies vs Mutts, If i lived in Michigan or Louisville i`d be all about the Final 4 game, I have NO IDEA why they changed DNL, Why change something that works so well except for Hayes and Murphy…ASSCLOWNS

  7. Please take Marcus Hayes and send him to…
    Anywhere else
    The beach
    A retirement home
    A deserted island
    An unemployment line
    An Obama ralley
    To a lawyers office to discuss who he has naked pics of
    A special Ed classroom
    The west coast
    The middle of any ocean
    West Philly
    North Philly
    My ex wife’s house

  8. Wait I’ve got more places to send the race baiting Marcus Hayes …

    Sensitivity training
    The moon
    A dark alley with Michael barkan who would smack the snot out of his smug face.
    Any opposing citytalkshow where he could rag on Philly.
    What have I forgotten?
    Anyone have any better places to ship this guy ?

  9. The weird thing about Marcus Hayes is if you meet him he believes he is a good athlete, every bit as good as the real athletes he covers. I think his arrogance springs from that– being a little better than Don Tollefson in the media softball game goes to his head.

  10. Kyle’s right on this one. After all their hype, it’s basically the exact same show with a blue set, which is fine. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it (except for maybe less Marcus Hayes).

  11. Hey uncle Leo

    Go back to New York and root for the Yankees.

    Uncle Leo must be Marcus Hayes

  12. The new show sucks. I don’t need Barkann interviews. I don’t care what gum Peter Laviolette chews or what he does with it during a timeout. Less Barkann and more DNL writers. Since they are restricted on how many DNL writers they can use per week it looks like a writer will be paired with a CSN employee. With a totally revamped Philadelphia Eagles and coaching staff I want more DN writers this Summer and Fall. The public will not be able to attend most practices so we have to depend on writers on how the practices and players look. There was nothing wrong with the old format.

  13. Also may I add. I don’t need comedy bits from SNL. I don’t need Twitter comments from people who just want to get their Twitter handle on the air. Frankly, I don’t care what the fans think. They are on two sports talk stations in this town 24/7. Fans aren’t beat writers.
    They aren’t at the stadium covering the game. Somehow CSN thinks if they engage the fans they will get more viewers. I guess we will continue to get this NBC crap since Comcast bought the network.

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