An Interview with Fox Sports Arizona's Todd Walsh - Part II

Yesterday, in Part I of the interview, Todd spoke about his early experiences with the sport of hockey and covering the sport as a journalist.  Today, in Part II (after the jump), Todd speaks about future Snapshots episodes on Fox Sports Arizona and on the Coyotes experience playing in Europe at the beginning of the season.  

Todd has been covering sports in the Valley since 1988.  He has been affiliated with Coyotes broadcasts from their arrival in town back in 1996.  In addition, he has at one time or another worked on the broadcasts of all four major pro sports teams in town.  Last month Todd received an Emmy award for Best Sports Anchor from the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.  You can follow Todd on Twitter and check out his FileSocial site where he uploads MP3 audio clips of interviews.

Carl: I wanted to make sure to ask you about the Snapshots or any feature stuff coming up that might be interesting to people that read Five For Howling.

Todd: The Snapshot concept is new for us. I think it's really cool because it's sort of streamlined our In My Own Words platform, but I approach it almost the same in terms of interviewing. This is sort of a mini-version of This Is Your Life.  Normally for In My Own Words I'd sit there and talk for an hour, hour and a half with someone. Today, some were 15 minutes, some were 30 minutes, some were an hour. I just love it because it gives us more visibility, and it gives the Coyotes a different platform leading up to our shows and not only our pregame shows we're adding to it.  I think it's got legs because we can expand on it to include more than just players: maybe moments along the way, coaches, etc. I would think, and this is none of my business to say it, but I would think this is something that can really grow for a network in a variety of forms. I think it's got something unique to it.  I love long form. That's why I love the Tenth Inning show that we do because we can spend a half an hour. If you invite people to the party and train them and say this is going to be a little longer than your 17-second sound bite on the 5 o'clock news, if they know it's coming, and it's well done,  they'll stick around and want more.  I think people inherently like that, and if they're a fan that's a perfect vehicle for them. I'm really excited about these and it's a pain in the butt to spend 2 hours a night looking at Ray Whitney. But the payoff is like today seeing him expand on what you want him to talk about. I think you'll see a lot more of this, and I think we'll be better for it.

Carl:  Well, I'm a big fan of the long form type of stuff because I'm not the quick easy answer type of guy.

Todd: No.  I remember when I went from radio to TV and I wondered why'd you cut that answer down to 18 seconds when it was 56 seconds?  They'd say we can't have 56 second sound bites, and I'd say why it was good?  So it was a bit of a battle for me. That was one of the hardest things I had to learn was brevity, but I think I've conned them well enough now to know that sometimes it's good to let Joe Garagiola talk for 2 minutes straight because he's really got something to say.

Carl:  Well the other thing is you never know when the gem that might even be in there is gonna happen.

Todd: I know! So, that's television in a nutshell.

Carl: That makes sense. Now, who's going to be in this next set of Snapshots?

Todd: I'm almost afraid to tell you because you never know with personnel what might happen. The one thing I am really excited about is that we did Tyson Nash and that was kind of an off-the-wall one that we did. Ray Whitney I talked to today and Vern Fiddler was also today which was interesting. So those three are probably the ones to promote. 

Carl: It's interesting too, with those three guys you're talking about a lot of hockey experience. Those guys have been around a while.

Todd: It's interesting to see Ray talk about, and I'm not Mike Wallace by any stretch, but to see his eyes light up when he talks about game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Stanly finals. That's worth it. That's cool.  I still get a high off of that and I don't think I'll every stop. I hope I don't.  I'll probably have to do something else.

Carl: This has been kind of a debate that's gone on, and I think this happens in every sport as most of them have gone global trying to expand their audience and the business, that there is kind of this backlash about playing games in other countries. What was your take or experience on the trip to Prague?  In general, do you think the experience of going to Europe is ultimately worth the sacrifice of a home game here or there and the experience for the players in terms of what it takes out of them to go?

Todd: I do think it's worth it.  I do think it needs to be tweaked though, and this is just my humble opinion. I think you walk a really fine line with really nothing with the teams on the bounce back. I think the Coyotes got a break in that they gave them pretty much the next week off. But then all of a sudden, five or six games in, Dave Tippett was talking about how his team was still sort of dealing with it because other teams were up and flying on all cylinders, and the Coyotes were still sort of  jump starting their season.  That's one thing.

Another thing is I think if they could do it differently, they should have had a little more time in Prague or not had that trip to Latvia in the middle of it because literally they didn't have time to blink until Friday afternoon. It was a speed race, a drag race. I think if they could do it again if they could find a way to have a day off or something like that.  Another thing, and this is just my opinion, I believe if you are going to do that whoever the powers that be who is in charge of the broadcast portion of that, you have to make it affordable for the local station to carry those games. We should have been over there broadcasting those games. I love what we did putting a show together there and we did all the things we possibly could have done, but the fact that those shows aren't on in most of the markets in America, someone's got to figure out a way that doesn't happen because you have to give the local markets a taste of what's happening. 

The other thing I'd like to see is instead of playing the Bruins twice, make that second game Finland versus the Wild or whatever. I wouldn't have both teams play against each other twice. I think if you're over there and, it's pretty easy to travel once you're there, maybe find a way for Prague to have seen more than just the Bruins and the Coyotes. That's just my opinion.

Carl: That's interesting to me because I know the second game had lower attendance than the first game in Prague.

Todd: I know they had problems in other cities, but you're over there so figure out a way.  From what I saw, the Coyotes were a well oiled machine. Dave Tippett's first press conference there was we're going to make this as normal as possible and the onus of making it as normal as possible went right to the hardest working guys in show business, to the trainers and equipment staff and they did. I literally at time would wake up and feel like I'm just in another city covering a road game. I'm not in Europe right now. That's a tribute to the way that these teams operate now. It's a fine line. I understand you don't want to blow up the regular season, but it is a great experience and a great tool. It was great just to see Martin Hanzal and (Radim) Vrbata and Petr Prucha being home.  I can't imagine what that was like. I know it was draining for them, but what an experience.  How cool is that?

Carl:  That was my thought. Because in anything like this from a physical standpoint you're going to be drained, but is the experience worth it.

Todd:  Everyone in the league knows that the league needs help and this isn't major league baseball or the NFL where you can turn on a game and score some people.  I think that things like this that they do, there is a bigger purpose here and most markets and coaching staffs understand this. I think it's workable, but I just think like anything it needs to be tinkered a bit. As long as I keep going and they keep inviting me.

Carl: I've heard great things about Prague as a city from anyone I know who's ever gone there.

Todd: It lived up to anything anyone's every said. It's special.

Carl: This has been great and we went into an area or two I wasn't expecting so this has been great.

Todd: Thank you for listening.


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