First Look: Behind the scenes at TBD in the A.M. radio
See what it's like on morning radio with Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson.
The sun hasn’t even peeked over the Big Apple’s horizon, but CBS Sports Radio’s TBD in the A.M. crew is already hitting the day’s heavy headlines with full force as they prepare for their weekday show broadcast from 6–9 a.m. ET. Tiki Barber brings the professional athlete expertise needed to the show while Dana Jacobson brings her journalistic voice and smooth delivery to the headlines. Then Brandon Tierney brings it all home by calling plays and directing traffic from the center mic.
Although this talkative threesome has only been together for three weeks, the chemistry is there, and it’s only going to grow.
Dana likes to say, referring to the song from comedy classic The Hangover, “We’re the three best friends that anyone could have.”
Here’s a look at what an average day in the studio is like for CBS Sports Radio’s newest show.
After four hours of sleep and circling the block in the dark for 20 minutes looking for an open parking garage, I arrive at the CBS Sports Radio offices looking like the walk of shame.
But not Dana Jacobson.
She’s a pro at this. Her hair is bouncy, and her face glows with a light dusting of makeup. She’s super casual with jeans, a magenta T-shirt and Uggs as she researches headlines for today’s show.
“This Starbucks mug I use is equivalent to a Venti size. I also like to add three Splenda’s,” Dana said.
She also likes to use her alma mater mug from Michigan, but its small size doesn’t suit her coffee usage.
Her body is still acclimating to the early morning radio schedule. On Sunday nights, she usually falls asleep at midnight, which throws her body clock off for the Monday show. Also, when you have to stay up and watch late games, it can sometimes be a three-hour night.
“When baseball playoffs are on, you have to stay up. But at a certain level, you have to sleep and then get up and read,” Dana said.
Host Brandon Tierney arrives in the building like a hurricane, full of energy and gusto that touches everyone in the office.
Brandon’s feet are on the desk, and his PowerBar breakfast is devoured in about 2 1/2 breaths. He looks calm, in contrast to Dana across the room searching the web for content. That’s not because Brandon is a slacker. It’s because all his prep work was done the night before -- right after he called a Big East basketball game. Whether he ever sleeps is up for question.
“The goal is to try to find a unique angle on the same headlines everyone else is covering, and that’s sometimes a challenge. You need to deliver the facts to your audience while distinguishing yourself from all the other shows.”
Producers Pete Bellotti and Ray Martel arrive fresh from their commute from a distant land called Long Island. While the suburban community is just 40 miles away from Manhattan, most New Yorkers will never see it.
5 a.m .
Tiki Barber arrives in the office like a light, fashionable breeze. His mock neck shirt, hard bottom soles and pleated pants instantly class up the joint. His quiet demeanor makes me question if this is the All-Pro running back who blazed down the field with ferocity in his prime with the New York Giants.
He’s been jokingly called the diva of the group, but his friendly disposition is the opposite of that. Also, his morning routine is nowhere near that of a diva and is probably less than Dana’s and Brandon’s.
“I don’t get up that early. I have a pretty extensive wardrobe, and I just select things the night before. I wake up at 4:10 and shower for three to five minutes. It’s pretty easy since I don’t have hair. I’m dressed and out the door in about 30 minutes.”
It’s 25 minutes until show time, but you wouldn’t guess it by looking at folks' faces. No one is running around frantically. No one is nervous. It’s just business as usual this morning.
“Do we have CC today?” someone yells across the room.
There can only be one CC that they are talking about, and that’s CC Sabathia. The Yankees pitcher is coming on the show today to talk a little MLB Hall of Fame voting and to pub his campaign to be on the cover of MLB 13 The Show video game.
Twenty-two minutes until show time, and printers are whirling as show rundowns and notes are printing out. The most frantic person in the office is producer Ray Martel. However, I think he would be frantic while vacationing on a Caribbean island. It’s in his nature.
Thirteen minutes until show time, and it’s like someone put a quarter in the CBS Sports Radio video game and everyone starts buzzing around the office. The floor is lined with hash marks like a football field and people scatter about it like a life-sized version of Tecmo Bowl.
That is, everyone except Dana, who’s still creeping around the office, walking ever so slowly trying not to spill her coffee.
Eleven minutes until show time, and Brandon Tierney enters the studio while the host of the overnight program is still on air.
“I like to walk in and get the vibe of the previous show before I go on air.”
Dana and Tiki come into the studio adjusting their work stations. Tiki doesn’t bother with the company-issued computer on the desk. He sets up his iPad and pops in his Beats By Dr. Dre headphones like he’s done this a hundred times before.
Two minutes until show time. Brandon’s hands are in his pocket. His hoodie is on. He’s already started with his nervous on-air twitch of grabbing the bill of his baseball cap. He looks like he’s telling someone to steal third while hosting a radio show. The lights are dimmed. Everyone’s headphones are in and on.
The TBD in the A.M. morning show crew gets a fist pump from the producer behind the glass as he says, “Ready to roll.”
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