Often, the most elusive aspect of a new talk show is convincing the audience of an authentic connection between the hosts.
It’s not necessary that they have a genuine friendship — Mike Francesa and Chris Russo proved that during all of their successful, bickering years at WFAN in New York — and relationships of convenience have worked in Boston, too. But true friendship makes for an easy rapport, one that is essential to a new show and draws in the audience right away.
Such genuine friendship is the advantage that Michael Holley and Michael Smith — the best of pals practically since the moment they met while working at the Globe 21 years ago — have in their new program on Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, which debuted Monday afternoon.
“A lot people want to create chemistry in a lab and say, ‘Oh, this person is popular and has a following, and this person is popular and has a following, here’s a Black guy, here’s a white guy, here’s a woman, go be great on TV together,” said Smith, who covered the Patriots for the Globe before going on to versatile 15-year run at ESPN. “Every successful project I’ve ever done, I’ve been blessed to do it with several friends. If you look at the great talk shows, there is often a relationship that transcends and predates an on-air partnership.”
Said Holley, a former Globe columnist who is currently a host at NBC Sports Boston, as well as an associate professor of journalism at Boston University, “I’m my best self when working with him. I’m really confident about what we’re going to do, because it’s just an extension of what we’ve done for 21 years. We’ve talked about doing this show together for years. I’m glad we’re doing it now.
“If we had done it 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have the resources we have right now, we would not have, quite frankly, the power that we have right now.”
Holley and Smith are not only the hosts of the show, titled “Brother From Another,” but also co-executive producers. The program runs weekdays on Peacock’s sports channel from 3-5 p.m., it’s only original program following a lineup that includes “The Rich Eisen Show,” “The Dan Patrick Show,” and “PFT Live with Mike Florio” each weekday.
‘“I get why it’s branded as a sports show. But it’s trite to talk about the intersection of sports and politics. Politics and sports have always intertwined. It’s intellectually dishonest to suggest otherwise. If you’re trying to stick to sports now, you’re missing the boat. I’m glad we can have these kind of conversations that move seamlessly from genre to genre."’
Michael Smith on his new show with Michael Holley
Just because the show is running on the streaming service’s sports channel does not mean they plan to stick entirely to sports. There will be free-flowing discussions of music, entertainment, culture, and, yes, of course, politics.
“I get why it’s branded as a sports show,” said Smith, who co-founded the content studio Inflection Point Entertainment after leaving ESPN. “But it’s trite to talk about the intersection of sports and politics. Politics and sports have always intertwined. It’s intellectually dishonest to suggest otherwise. If you’re trying to stick to sports now, you’re missing the boat. I’m glad we can have these kind of conversations that move seamlessly from genre to genre.
“If there’s one good thing about 2020, which has been an [expletive] year for the most part, it’s that this is a great time for Michael and I to be who we have always been, which is more than just sports reporters. We’re bringing our whole selves to our work.”
Said Holley: “The great thing about this show is that it’s not a show. We’ve don’t have to try to make it something. It is pretty much about our relationship and the way we generally communicate. I’ll talk about sports with Michael, the sports conversation will move to a music conversation the music conversation will move into a conversation about culture, we’re both fathers, we’re both husbands. We’re not afraid to talk about anything.”
Boston radio listeners got a sample of Holley and Smith’s enjoyable chemistry and effortless banter on occasion through the years, most notably when they were guests or fill-in hosts on the now-defunct 1510 the Zone back in the early 2000s. But they’ve never hosted a regular show together until now.
“It’s still kind of surreal. And we’ve tried our best at various points to step back and smell the roses for a second,” said Smith. “Look, I’ve launched a few shows — probably too many shows — and at every point I made the mistake of getting so caught up in trying to perfect it or making sure we got off to a strong start that I never stopped and just appreciated how far we’ve come.
“For Michael and I, this is a 20-year-journey, and we’ve definitely had to remind each other at different points like, ‘Oh, can you believe we’re finally doing this?’ ”
Holley interrupts: "I just want to make a correction: 21-year journey. I’m older, but he doesn’t remember anything.”
Smith laughs. “That’s a teaser for the show right there,” he said. “Me saying something, Holley correcting me.”