A Summer at "The Hall"

L to R: Kyle Belanger, Michael "Buster" McMahon, Tony Lapponese and Maya Hart
L to R: Kyle Belanger, Michael "Buster" McMahon, Tony Lapponese and Maya Hart

By Maya Hart '16

Over the summer I had the opportunity of interning at The Hall, a local ESPN radio station located at The Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. I worked with "The Average Joe Show." Three men – Kyle Belanger, Tony Lapponese, and Michael "Buster" McMahon, host the show, which runs from 5PM – 7PM every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The Average Joe Show follows New England sports, focusing on the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and the Bruins. I had the pleasure of working with another intern, Eddie Santiago, a football player at the University of West Virginia.

The three extremely different personalities of the hosts were originally what drew me in. Although they all have varying backgrounds, it was clear that sports play a significant role in each of their lives. Each day I looked forward to walking into the radio station to overhear some ridiculous conversation about the last movie that made them cry, or their favorite childhood singer that they somehow expected me to be familiar with. The conversation would continue until Kyle, Tony and Buster realized the show started in forty-five seconds.

A range of tasks was assigned to Ed and me each day before the show started. On some days we updated the Facebook page and Twitter account, letting followers know who was going to be on the show that day, and ways listeners can contribute on air. On other days, I printed out notes on the Red Sox, for example, covering the last week of action because the hosts were unable to watch a few of the games. I particularly enjoyed being assigned to do research on the guests because I got to learn about people that were monumental in professional athletics before I was even alive.

An injury limited Hart
just 19 matches
first year

At 5PM the show began. Ed and I sat in a side room, which was connected to the live studio. We learned how to "run the board", which controls the connection between the studio and live radio. Once the show began, my job was to answer the phone. Listeners would call in to answer the daily questions posed by the hosts, and also to give their opinions on the topics discussed on the show that day.

On days where there were not many callers, Ed and I would practice recording different segments from the show, and then editing them to turn the segments into podcasts. Using Adobe Audition, we manipulated audio clips. An introduction and a final sound clip can be added so that the finished product can then easily be shared online or via e-mail.

Not only did I learn about social media and editing audio, but I also had the privilege of meeting the show's guests. Two particular Hall of Famers stand out to me as I look back at my experience. Calvin Murphy played in the NBA for the Houston Rockets between 1970 and 1983. His presence was memorable in the way that he recounted his experience in Houston, and also in the way that he remains involved with the team. After his retirement, he was an analyst for the Rockets games. His passion for sports was evident. Not to mention, he is the shortest player to be inducted in to The Basketball Hall of Fame.

I also had the chance to meet Richie Guerin. He also played in the NBA for the New York Knicks from 1956 to 1963. It turns out that he left the Marine Corps in order to start his professional basketball career. I remember Guerin as being extremely personable. He encouraged me to stay involved in athletics, even when my tennis career comes to an end.

The highlight of my experience at The Hall was easily when I had the opportunity to talk on the air. The hosts brought me on the show the week before the Wimbledon final to give my insight on the tournament and what to expect from each of the two finals. I had no idea that two months behind the scenes at a sports radio show would turn in to me having the chance to talk on the air about the sport that has been a huge part of my life since I was eight years old. I ended up speaking live for about six minutes. I answered the host's questions about who I thought would win Wimbledon. I got Andy Murray right on the men's side, but missed on Sabine Lisicki on the women's side. We also talked about what players may be retiring in the near future. I even managed to slip in a few comments about my personal favorite, Rafael Nadal. I cannot even begin to explain the amount of fun I had in those six short minutes. I am eager to get back on the air as soon as possible.

Spending a summer at The Hall with a variety of people who are all seriously invested in athletics has made it even more clear to me that my passion for sports does not end when I leave the tennis court. In fact, I did not discover my true passion for athletics until I broke my ankle this past spring and was unable to play. Getting involved in radio showed me that sports could still be a significant part of my life without physically being on the court.

Looking ahead, I would love to have the chance to return to The Hall and "The Average Joe Show," but I am also hoping to intern with ESPN at their headquarters in Bristol, CT, next summer. This experience has opened my eyes to some of the other ways people can participate in athletics, even if they are not physically playing a sport. I am extremely thankful to have had this opportunity, and I look forward to sharing my love for sports in front of, and behind the scenes.


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