Sports

CHAD FINN | SPORTS MEDIA

CSN unveils ‘Boston Sports Tonight’ lineup

8-13-2012 Burlington, Mass. 100 guests atttended a Comcast Sportsnet Uno's Sports to Celebrate Milestone 5,000th Episode on Monday 13th in their Burlington Studios. cuting the cake are Comcast hosts Michael Felger and Gary Tanguay. Globe photo by Bill Brett

Globe file

Michael Felger, left, and Gary Tanguay will be two of the hosts of CSNNE’s expanded Early Edition program.

Comcast SportsNet New England’s blueprint for altering its approach to daily programming began revealing itself in December when the regional cable network laid off respected mainstays Sean McAdam and Bob Neumeier. That decision, as reported in this space at the time, signaled a pending shift to more talking-head-based content at some expense to news and highlights.

Thursday, CSN revealed what its new blueprint will yield.

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That new talking-head-based program is positioned before its April 3 debut to become the most prominent in CSN’s lineup. Titled Boston Sports Tonight, it will be hosted by Tom Curran and Tom Giles, along with Michael Holley and Kayce Smith, who will join CSN next month. (Holley will remain in his day job as an afternoon drive host on WEEI.) The program will air at 9 p.m. to midnight every weeknight, and is touted by the network as “a cross-section of opinion, information, and fun.”

The show, per CSN, is designed to capture real-time reactions to what is happening on the Boston sports scene on a given night, which will include social-media interaction and contributions from guests. The four hosts will check in from various locations around the CSN offices, getting input from other CSN staffers and guests.

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It wouldn’t be fair to judge it without watching the actual program for a few weeks as it finds its tone and rhythm, but as far as talking-head programming goes, it seems promising. The unconventional approach may take some ironing out, but Curran is probably CSN’s most appealing on-air personality, not to mention a voice of reason in the usual sea of hot takes, and Holley and Giles both do good work. Smith, an SB Nation Radio host who has also worked at ESPN and its SEC Network, arrives with positive reviews.

With the launch of Boston Sports Tonight, CSN will also expand its current Early Edition program to two hours (6-8 p.m.) on weeknights. Gary Tanguay, Trenni Kusnierek, and Michael Felger will host, with Felger joining the show in studio each night following the end of his afternoon drive program on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

CSN said in a press release that SportsNet Central, its flagship news and highlights program since 2009, will remain as its “news brand and will live throughout the day across all CSN programming.” But that essentially means that updates will be provided in its other programs, but it will no longer be a stand-alone program. It’s hard to view it as anything but a casualty of the network’s change in approach.

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In a related note, CSN has hired Herald Red Sox reporter Evan Drellich for a multi-dimensional role covering the team, though it hasn’t announced the transaction yet. Drellich is a plugged-in reporter and a likeable television presence. But it is curious that the network hired someone for such a role less than three months after letting the widely respected McAdam go and indicating it would not cover the Red Sox in a traditional manner. Drellich comes from a similar reporting background to McAdam, who also moved over from the Herald back in 2009.

Ryan begins podcast

My desk in the Globe office is adjacent to Bob Ryan’s, so I’m fortunate to get in essence a personal podcast from him on the occasions that we’re in the building at the same time. But for those who don’t get to hear his various radio interviews or “Around The Horn” conference calls from a desk away — let alone the opportunity to pester him with old-school NBA questions, a favorite pastime of mine — you’re about to get the next-best thing, audio-wise.

He is launching a podcast, titled Bob Ryan’s Boston Podcast, which debuts this week. The core content of the podcast, which will run in the range of 45 minutes, is a conversation with a legendary Boston sports personality. (He recently recorded a test podcast with Bob Cousy.) It will be recorded most every Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Stars on Hingham Harbor and be available on all popular podcast directories, including iTunes, on Fridays at noon. The public is invited to attend the recordings.

Funayama in Revo mix

Naoko Funayama, well-liked in her role as a Bruins rinkside reporter and host for NESN from 2008-13, will be part of the New England Revolution broadcast team on CSN this year, the eighth straight season the network will carry the MLS team’s games. She will join play-by-play voice Brad Feldman and analyst Paul Mariner on the broadcasts. “I’m thrilled,’’ said Funayama in an e-mail. “Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner are such respected experts in the sport and in Major League Soccer, and I feel so lucky be able to work with them, and the entire crew. The team has an incredibly loyal and enthusiastic fan base, and I really look forward to getting to know them.” . . . Sam Kennedy said during a recent interview on Herald Radio that broadcasting may be in David Ortiz’s future, perhaps with NESN, but the Red Sox president told me that nothing is imminent and may not even happen this season. The Red Sox have had casual discussions with him, but it sounds like Ortiz isn’t quite sure what he wants to do in broadcasting. Fox Sports, for whom Ortiz contributed as a guest analyst during the 2014 World Series, has also expressed interest in him.

Chad Finn can be reached at finn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.
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