Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bring Back The Hot List! or Something Like It.

Something hit me a few hours ago.

I miss The Hot List.

For those who have jumped onto ESPNews in the last year or so, you certainly missed out one of the better shows from the Worldwide Leader.

It was odd that of all of the shows on the multiple ESPN channels, few shows actually featured regular interviews from the athletes that give the network its purpose. I’m not talking about the heavily-promoted exclusive interviews and Sunday Conversations, sideline reports or even live look-ins during press conferences.

The Hot List gave you that in a slightly less ‘serious’ manner than their mothership counterparts such as Outside the Lines, Cold Pizza (now First Take) and the omnipresent SportsCenter.

After devoting segments to breaking news and injury updates that came from media personalities across the country, there would be a pretty solid interview with an athlete (any sport, essentially) where questions ranged from game-day preparation to “day in the life” curiosities that intrigue their fans. Think of talk radio interviews except a bit looser.

The latter was the essence of not just the show, but what ESPNews used to be. While I appreciate that the channel remains all about immediacy – score updates, brief highlights, live cut-ins to games and press conferences,, etc. – it used to be the spot where there wasn’t as much of a scripted, polished vibe (though those people work their butts off to make things go). Instead, it was sort of like when ESPN2 launched; slightly more free-spirit despite the same clips for hours, more jovial and less adversarial like the talk shows that were featured in the main channel over time.

Of course, there was at least one, maybe more, unfortunate mistakes of looser nature at ESPNews, but it’s hard to believe that viewership didn’t increase because of it.

Now, in relation to the show, some athletes aren’t naturals in front of a camera and it would show. Yet, David Lloyd was the best at working with the interviewee in those instances. Though there were several hosts in the five years of the show, they all kept a relatively consistent format of balancing necessary gravity on some subjects and with the show’s general levity.

It just surprises me now that amidst all of the changes to ESPN programming, there’s such a void of these kinds of interviews. Not that The Hot List was a ratings juggernaut; it was on from 3-6 PM eastern from the end of the workday until the middle of the evening rush hour. However, with the deluge of OMG and WTH news that rains down on us, the show served as an ever-so-slight break in the clouds.

This was a bigger deal because unless ESPNews was unavailable through your cable provider, the only other time may get something light-hearted from the sports world was on either a regional cable show in biography form or through well-connected blogs. Maybe there’s something out there, but short of bringing the show back, it would be nice to see something on a national scale again that gave fans an insight of who these people really are.

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