Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 Media Interview Follow Up -- On Frame

The (relatively) new On Frame show has been required listening for RSL fans and others since it started. I wanted to follow up on my recent Media Interview and who better than Brian Dunseth (@BP_TOW), or at Bumpy Pitch, and Spencer Warne (@espn700guv) to lend a different perspective. Read on, then let me know what you think. If you've got any follow up questions, post them below and I'll see if Dunny and Spence will take a crack at them.

Pat: I love the work you're doing with "On Frame". It's a great show and, I think, a positive sign for soccer's growing media footprint in Utah. How did the show come to pass?

Spence: The show had been "whispered" about, the last couple of years. Myself and Dunny have talked about it in the past and we'd done a couple of shows together trying to get it done, scheduling was an issue. And I've always wanted to work with him (Dunny).

I was always in the ear of John Kimball (Senior VP at Real Salt Lake and ESPN 700) about a need for a soccer specific show, thankfully he and Trey Fitz-Gerald (VP of Broadcasting and Communications) made it happen this year.

Dunny: We had tried three or four shows on ESPN700 over the past couple of years, but because of a couple different issues with scheduling and my own personal television commitments, we couldn't make it happen on a permanent basis.

This past offseason we decided we were going to make it happen and Monday night would be the easiest night for everyone involved to pull off.

Pat: There have been signs of growth in other media outlets as well. What do you think it's going to take to see more coverage of RSL, MLS, and soccer generally here in Utah? Where do you think the next breakthrough will happen

Dunny: I've always used the analogy that soccer is like Punk Music... We're always going to have our own lane in the sports world and we're not going to compete with the bigger sports leagues in the United States for awhile. That being said, there are certain markets like Salt Lake where you can have a much different 'in market' effect. A lot of that has to do with the accessibility of the players themselves to fans and the community as well as the fans and their own individual digital push.

And it also takes time. Utah is an interesting market because before Real Salt Lake (and with all due respect to the lower level professional teams that were here before), there hasn't been a lot of 'high level' soccer games played here. There's no Division 1 soccer and the youth development to the professional ranks has been spotty at best. Only Todd Miller, Adam Acosta, Joey Worthen and Justin Braun have made it to Major League Soccer, with only Braun really making an impact.

At the end of the day, winning makes the biggest impact on any market in the United States and I know that Real Salt Lake recognizes that as priority number one.

Spence: My personal view, is that the growth of RSL in the media will continue to happen regardless, they play an attractive style and continue to compete for trophies. But I think it will take off more when they bring through an academy product. And probably more so if that product is from the SLC area.

From the view of a Liverpool fan, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are seen as idols in the Red half of Liverpool, they connect with the locals and the media will always be drawn to the local product (The local boy done good). Sadly huge pressure will be put on that lads shoulders, I suppose it's a blessing in disguise that these young players are so far away and out of the public eye down in Arizona.

Pat: The second half of Spence's answer makes me think about team development. What do you think it will take to get the reserve league and the development leagues out of the shadows an onto a bigger stage?

Spence: Well first of all, I really like watching reserve team football! It's for the proper football fans, hoping to catch a glimpse of a young player that might make it into the game day squad.

I'm not a huge fan of the squad travelling mid-week though, in fact I'd go so far to say that it's mindboggling. Travelling, scheduling and $$$$. As for a bigger stage? Well you market your 1st team product, there is plenty of room within the MLS to get stronger before worrying about the developmental leagues.

Dunny: I'm not sure it necessary to push the 'Reserve League' to the forefront. The main importance of it from my perspective is giving young players important 90 minute matches that can't be replicated through practices and an opportunity for players rehabbing or coming back from injury to work their way back to full fitness and sharpness.

I do think MLS missed the boat in terms of scheduling as doing individual Reserve games during the midweek definitely takes away from teams preparation and training schedules when over half the team is missing.

Pat: In a similar vein, it seems like there are some young/new players moving up into more recognizable roles with RSL. What do you think it will take for them to really succeed in Salt Lake? What are you looking to see from them?

Dunny: The one 'young' player that has set the bar in terms of consistency and level of play is Luis Gil. But he's also had almost two years of experience with the team, the tactics and the philosophy set forth by Jason. The rest of the younger/new players just need to continue to make the most of their opportunities while learning what is expected of them every single time they step on the field.

Because this is one of the deepest teams in MLS and the veteran experience on the field, I don't envision Jason leaning on the younger / new players during MLS league play, but more than likely the Reserve League, US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League to 'test' players.

Spence: As for the young players, we'll see them come through and get minutes. I really love the way Jason K. treats the young guys. Not scared to use them, but in the same vein, would probably prefer not to use them. I think the coaches are top notch, been there and done it (been a rookie before). And then you have players like Beckerman, Ned, Morales who are such an example to those young midfielders, same could be said for Borchers, Olave and Wingert. Then you throw in Nick Rimando and Saborio.....Not only is it quality on the training field to learn from, but they have experience to pass on.

Pat: I've been impressed with the guests you've brought in so far and the topics you've been able to cover. What are some of the things you hope to cover in the upcoming months (besides looking ahead to the upcoming RSL games)?

What are some of the things you'd like to do on the show but realize that you probably couldn't pull off? (Maybe guests who wouldn't care about an SLC based show or topics that wouldn't move the needle enough to bring up.)

Spence: In short, I want it to be a longer show! We don't have enough time.

I want it to be a World soccer show because a lot of the listeners enjoy the football in England, Spain.....The list goes on. An American show (so many good Americans playing abroad)....But obviously a huge MLS/RSL twist. I want it to be even more fan interactive. Dunny is the one who has a major influence on guests. Trey obviously helps with the RSL lads (also helps that the RSL players are great to chat to). I'm excited to talk to anyone regarding soccer.

We're striving to make it longer than 2 hours, make it sponsorship worthy at the end of the day, so it can continue to grow. Travel to these exhibition games, and speak to the players from the biggest teams.

It also helps if you like the guys you work with!

I think that kinda answers both. Thanks for asking.

Dunny: One of the positives of having played around MLS for so long and now moving into the TV side of things (as well as Bumpy Pitch / The Original Winger) are the relationships I've built with the players on different teams. I've always thought that the success of any MLS based show is the strength of the players and their own personal opinions.

And the fact that this isn't league driven, but more 'team' driven with incredibly loose reigns is an absolute positive.

Recapping the previous RSL game, then looking ahead to the upcoming opponent through an opposing players perspective / their own personal story and how they plan on approaching RSL, then finally hearing from an RSL player on how they plan on approaching the upcoming opponent was always vital in putting this show together.

I agree with Spencer, two hours isn't long enough.... But it comes down to the listeners, the downloads and the overall online / digital support for the story telling we're trying to achieve. And obviously it comes down to money and the sponsorship side of things.

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