TESSITORE'S ROAD SHOW HAS CREATED MANY MEMORIES

PETE DOUGHERTY TV/RADIO
Section: Sports,  Page: B2

Date: Friday, May 18, 2012

At 41, Joe Tessitore has a lot of broadcast days ahead, though it's hard to believe he is 17 years removed from his role as weekend anchor at WRGB (CBS-6).


Tessitore, a Schenectady native and CBA graduate, is in his 11th year of working for ESPN. His most consistent role has been as host of "Friday Night Fights," which makes a trip this week to Times Union Center (9 p.m., ESPN2) for a light-welterweight bout between unbeatens Karim Mayfield and Raymond Serrano.


(Some trivia: Tessitore's replacement at WRGB was Doug Sherman, who has been at the station since and is now sports director.)


Tessitore also was the network's lead voice for horse racing until that sport saddled up with the NBC Sports Group. His busiest time now is in college football season, when he broadcasts one to two games weekly and will work a lot this summer as the sport's studio host.


In conjunction with his return to the Capital Region, Tessitore was asked to outline his five most-memorable broadcasts, in no particular order.


Boxing


"The stuff that always stands out to me are some of these four-round fights that I've broadcast on ESPN in the middle of nowhere, where two guys who weren't expecting to be on TV will just go toe-to-toe or blood-and-guts. You sit there and you're in awe of how much they're sacrificing and how much they're giving.


"You are conscious, as much as you do this for a living, it's never just another broadcast. People risk their lives and dedicate themselves, very much so, and it's not about money. Boxing's very refreshing in that way."


College football


"There was that one weekend (Nov. 18-19) when Oklahoma State's BCS hopes blew up at Iowa State. They were 28-point favorites and ended up losing that thriller in overtime. Then the next day, I did the Saturday ABC (primetime game) with Matt Millen when RG3 (Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III) beat Oklahoma on that last-second pass and basically launched himself to the top of the Heisman list."


College football II


"Being on a Heisman broadcast really stands out. You're in this venerable setting where everybody's on the edge of their seats, almost afraid to clap. You almost feel like you're doing Shakespeare.


"You're so conscious that you're in this theatre in New York among 50 of the greatest players to ever live, family and friends, five guys who are as nervous as can be. You're not at a sports atmosphere where it's loud and you can project your voice and you can be enthusiastic."


Horse racing


"Both Zenyatta Breeders' Cup broadcasts, the one she won out in Santa Anita (2009), but probably even moreso was the Breeders' Cup she lost (2010) when she came flying in the end against Blame down at Churchill. That stands out."


Horse racing II


"The (2008) Belmont where we all thought we were going to have a Triple Crown with Big Brown, and Big Brown pulls up at the turn. He pulls up right next to Jerry Bailey, Randy Moss and me, and he eases him there.


"And Jim McKay died that day. So here I am broadcasting the Belmont, possibly going to have a Triple Crown, and the greatest horse-racing host that our country has ever seen, who worked for the same network, passes away on that day in a sport that he was so passionate about in his life. That day I can almost replay in slow motion in my head."


Pete Dougherty is the Times Union's sports TV/radio columnist - pdougherty@timesunion.com - 518-454-5416 - @Pete_Dougherty





Sound bytes


1 ESPN president John Skipper confirmed to USA Today that Michelle Beadle, co-host of "SB Nation," is leaving the network at the end of the month, likely headed to NBC for a role on "Access Hollywood." Erin Andrews' contract also is expiring. ESPN seems to be proactive in hiring women for prominent roles, but keeping the good ones seems to be another issue.


2 Major League Baseball is alienating its fan base by moving two Division Series games from TBS (100 million homes) to MLB Network (69 million) for each of the next two seasons. The move was part of a deal that allows TBS to show the two new wild-card playoff games in 2012 and 2013. Baseball needs to gets its product on the broadest platforms possible, and MLB Network isn't the answer.


3 Erik Kuselias, who left ESPN 17 months ago to join the Golf Channel's start-up of "The Morning Drive," is taking a new career direction but within the same company. Kuselias has become host of "NBC Sports Talk" (6-11 p.m. weekdays) on the NBC Sports Network. Both the Golf Channel and NBCSN are under the NBC Sports Group umbrella.





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