Behind The Scenes

Here’s your 14 seconds: Mike & Mike ‘Chatter Line’ ringing off the hook

“You have 14 seconds to voice your opinion” might sound like an ominous, threatening directive, but put in the hands of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning crew, it’s a fun new way for quick-talking opiners to get their voices heard.

“Chatter” is Mike & Mike’s 14-second verbal version of Twitter and its 140 written-character limit.

“Our ‘Chatter’ is like Twitter — but 140 seconds was too long and 14 is about right,” says co-host Mike Greenberg, who proposed the idea. “Fourteen seconds forces you to get to the point, just like Twitter does in 140 characters.”

Producer Liam Chapman & Co. implemented a multimedia plan both entertaining and promotional.

“We come up with a topic we think will have a lot of reaction [i.e. ‘Who’s the NBA’s best Big 3’ on Tuesday, ‘Is Tiger back?’ on Monday], Mike and Mike explain it on air and give out the number, and the calls start flying in,” Chapman says.

“We also put it on the ESPN2 simulcast graphically, Tweet it and Greeny re-Tweets it.”

Knowing their audience is another reason the staff overwhelmingly embraced Greeny’s idea.

“Whenever we ask for interaction, our listeners are really great at bringing their opinions — whether it’s calls, emails, texts or Tweets,” says producer Rob “Stats” Guerrera.

“We’re fortunate we have a lot of people who want to get in touch with us, to hear their opinions on the air, and to hear themselves on the air,” Greenberg says.

And how well do they know their audience? When the “Chatter Line” debuted May 30, more than 1,500 fans dialed into 740-535-MIKE (6453).

“In terms of the number of calls, it is a tall task, but between Joaquin [aka associate producer Curt Kaplan] and the rest of the staff, we make it work.”

That a Twitter-themed idea creating the extra work came from Greenberg surprised even him.

“I’m very much into Twitter now, but I resisted it for a very long time because I was afraid it would become what it has become — an obsession,” he says.

“But there is such an enormous amount of ideas out there, I thought we could to more than just read them.”

While “Chatter” has been a success, sometimes the call-handling producers have to do more than ensure just 14 seconds of pontification.

“We’ve gotten some calls that we can’t play on the air, including several from one particularly ornery hockey fan,” Stats says with a chuckle, “but it’s a great way to get listeners involved and get other opinions into the show.”

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