Behind The Scenes

Mike & Mike In the Morning researcher, interrogator Kristen Balboni — a k a ‘Balbiz’ — answers ‘next questions’

Kristen Balboni on the set of Mike & Mike In The Morning. (Hannah Worster/ESPN)
Kristen Balboni on the set of “Mike & Mike In The Morning.” (Hannah Worster/ESPN)

Pinehurst, N.C.-native Kristen “Balbiz” Balboni has been a valuable member of the Mike & Mike in the Morning team since August 2011.

The University of North Carolina alum (Class of 2011) and journalism major is a researcher for the show most of the time. Since last September, she’s been a weekly staple of the ESPN Radio show (simulcast on ESPN2). Balboni, who turns 24 on Friday, peppers co-hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic with questions fans submit via the Internet for a segment called “Next Question.”

Front Row turns the tables on one-time intern Balboni — sorry, she’s no relation to former Yankees slugger Steve “Bye Bye” Balboni — for some questions.

Who is Kristen Balboni? Who is “Balbiz”?
Kristen Balboni is a sports fan from Pinehurst, N.C. whose favorite teams are the Red Sox, Panthers and Tar Heels. Other than sports, she enjoys cooking, reading, hanging out with friends and shopping.

“Balbiz” is the Mike & Mike researcher, who handles the show’s research and makes appearances on “Next Question.” The nickname was given to me by our producer Liam Chapman. Greeny told me on my first day on the show that everyone had a nickname and he couldn’t call me Kristen, so “Balbiz” eventually stuck.

What was the show group’s reaction when Liam proposed you do an on-air “Question” segment?
It’s funny because Liam never really came to me and asked, it just kind of happened. It started because Curt Kaplan [aka “Joaquin”], was really busy putting together our “Stone Cold Lead Pipe Locks” segments, so I started filling in when they needed someone.

On your first “Question” segment, were you nervous?
I was so nervous! I remember it was pretty spur-of-the-moment. Curt was busy, so Liam asked me if I wanted to read the questions five minutes before the segment. I remember marking out abbreviations like “QB” and “SB” and writing out “quarterback” and “Super Bowl” because I was worried I’d read the (shorthand) on air and sound ridiculous. Greeny and Golic put me at ease on set and it’s so much fun.

What’s it like working with Greenberg and Golic?
They are awesome. Everyone on our staff is — Liam, Joaquin, our other producer Mike Urrunaga, our board op Brendan “Bubba” Peregrin. We laugh nonstop every day, and sometimes I leave work and think, “there’s no way I’m actually getting paid to have this much fun.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILbVOfcLp48&w=615&h=390]
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