Marist College has recently become a proud affiliate with ESPN Radio in their radio collaboration known as “The Classroom”. This collaboration marks the nation’s first ever radio show featuring a partnership between an ESPN Radio associate and an academic center. “The Classroom” debuted on Saturday, September 21st, at 10 a.m. before a live studio audience, as well as over the airwaves of 1220 ESPN Radio (97.3FM Poughkeepsie).
The process of forming this collaboration began earlier this year when ESPN’s New York City affiliate switched from an AM to an FM station, allowing open air space for a local ESPN radio station intended for Hudson Valley listeners. Fox Broadcasting and their market manager, Bob DeFelice jumped at this opportunity and launched ESPN programming on 1220AM/97.3FM radio channel in April. Months later, Bob DeFelice ran into Marist College’s own Geoff Brault at a community event where the two had a conversation about the possibilities of local programming over the Hudson Valley station. Geoff Brault, professor and voice of many of Marist’s sports as the play by play broadcaster, mentioned to Defelice Marist’s growingly accredited Sport’s Communications Program and Center.
“He [Geoff] mentioned his connection with Marist Play-by-Play and Marist College’s Sports Communications Center/Program and I said how cool would it be if we could get the students involved in creating something, whether it was a talk show or sports reports. Geoff set up a coffee with Dr. Strudler [Director of Marist College Center for Sports Communication] and the rest as they say, was history!”
The partnership was officially announced between Marist College Center for Sports Communication and the Sunrise Broadcasting of NY, Inc., a branch of ESPN Radio which airs throughout the Hudson Valley. The broadcast, titled “The Classroom” has aired twice so far, on Saturday, September 21st, as well as Saturday, September 28th. The show is hosted by Dr. Keith Strudler as well as Geoff Brault. The Classroom’s content focuses around the discussion of big topics and pressing issues in both national and international sports, whether professional or amateur, from an academic viewpoint.
“We’re trying to do a smart, almost academic look at sports, which is something new, something that hasn’t really ever been done before,” said Brault.
The show is to feature guest appearances and interviews with sports personalities, as well as incorporate audience interaction for a greater discussion of all the show’s topics.
“I thought the topics were engaging and relevant and Dr. Strudler and Geoff Brault put together a great list of guests for the first show who offered great insight into the topics that were being discussed,” said Andy Alongi, Marist College Assistant Athletic Director and avid listener of “The Classroom”.
The Classroom featured an impressive guest list for its debut show, including sports writer and author for ESPN Ian O’Connor, Dr. Richard Southall from the College Sports Research Institute, and Marist College’s very own President Dr. Dennis Murray. The show’s first two broadcasts went extremely well, satisfying the listening audience as well as those involved with its production.
“Our first few broadcasts have gone, in my opinion, very well,” said the show’s host Geoff Brault. “Overall the reaction to the first few shows have been excellent but, there’s still a long way to go and we can get much better. Finding the balance between information and entertainment, as well as dealing with managing our time on air and doing all the behind-the-scenes work are all things we’re improving on every day.”
“I thought the show was very entertaining and insightful,” said Garrin Marchetti, who attended the show’s early broadcasts. “The topics were very interesting, the segments were really creative. Overall, it was really cool to listen to.”
“The witty banter between Strudler and Brault was very entertaining. It was great to listen to academically geared debate about popular current sports news,” said Milena Carrese, Assistant Sports Information Director at Marist College who also tuned into The Classroom.
“From the show production, next the topics to the research elements to the coordination and scheduling of the “phone-in” and in-person guests, I am very impressed!” proclaimed Bob DeFelice. DeFelice continued, calling the broadcast quality, “first rate” and attributed the show’s early success to the “commitment to excellence from all parties, starting at the top with Keith and Geoff, also Lee Walis on the technical end and extending to the dedication of the students involved”.
Student involvement is a huge factor so far in the production and success of The Classroom. Presently about nine Marist Sports Comm interns are involved in making the show happen, as Geoff Brault has even referred to them as the “lifeblood” to the show’s production.
“Working with them has been the best part. They’ve all really embraced and seem to care about what we’re doing, they recognize it as a great opportunity, and have put so much effort in. If any other student was interested in being involved and could bring something positive to the show and make it better, we’d love to listen to their ideas,” said Brault.
The involved students play a large role in all aspects of the radio broadcast’s production, beginning with the research and show planning, as well as on-air contributions. As the interns’ efforts are combined with the show’s hosts, guests, and all affiliates, there is a great level of excitement and optimism surrounding The Classroom and its future broadcasts.
“This is only our second week so I envision greater things to come! This is a ‘real-life’ experience for students and every element involved in the show is a learning experience in how a real world sports show would be produced and sold.” Bob DeFelice.
“About five months later, here we are. I am surprised how quickly and easily everything came together, but Bob is fantastic to work with, really bought into our vision and he and Strudler worked hard together to make it happen,” said Brault. “I think it’s a tool that will open up a lot of doors when it comes to not only attracting students, but also giving current students real world experience. As an alum, it’s exciting to be a part of something like this. I really think the sky is the limit for this show.”
Overall, the broadcast is a great thing to happen to Marist College. As Andy Alongi said, “I’ve been able to see Dr. Strudler’s efforts grow into the Center for Sports Communication and expand as to one of the more popular concentrations on campus. The developments of the sports communication program and the campus as a whole speaks volumes to how well Marist is doing and how far the institution has come in the last five years.” The early success of the show, but more so the possibilities it holds as well as the opportunities it presents, are a true testament to the hard work and vision of those involved. For now, tune in and show your support of Marist College and ESPN’s Radio collaboration known as The Classroom. As for the future, we will see just how far this first of its kind radio show can go.
The Classroom is broadcast live each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon on 1220AM or 97.3 FM ESPN radio. The show is also streamed live online at foxradio.net. For any additional information on The Classroom the production has a Facebook page (ESPN 1220 The Classroom) as well as a Twitter account. Follow @ ESPN_Classroom for continued news and updates.