Behind The ScenesHighly QuestionableStudio Shows

Long-distance collaboration and “kitchen” chemistry produce successful recipe for Highly Questionable

Si or No? (Andy Hall/ESPN)
The stars of Highly Questionable (l-r): Bomani Jones, Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard and Dan Le Batard.
(Andy Hall/ESPN)

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part feature that takes Front Row readers behind the scenes of the daily ESPN2 program Highly Questionable. Part One was published Wednesday.

When taping begins for an episode of ESPN2’s Highly Questionable, the chances are good that a lot of laughter will emanate from the studio in Miami and the control room in Washington, D.C.

“There’s no show which I’ve ever worked where we laugh more,” said Erik Rydholm, executive producer. “And I don’t know that it always translates because some of it is we’re laughing at mistakes and laughing at people getting things wrong and so eventually that stuff doesn’t even make air.”

ESPN Radio host Dan Le Batard, his father, Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard and sports commentator Bomani Jones sit behind a 1960s-era kitchen table on the set in Miami with two camera operators in the room with them. Rydholm and fellow producer Matthew Kelliher are in the control room in Washington. Those in Miami can see those in Washington, and vice versa, via monitors.

“As we tape, there are some stops and some starts, sometimes for flubbed words or false starts, or things the guys could say better,” Rydholm said. “It’s a really collaborative exercise. We feed them information and lines, and we give them feedback on what they’ve said, just trying to coax the best possible insight and entertainment out of each topic.”

After each segment is shot, the segment producer and an editor begin preparing that segment for air, adding video and graphics.

“The show is done sort of backwards,” Rydholm said. “Usually, you prep the whole time in order to put a live show on the air. Here, we sort of perform at doing the show, and then we spend all the time in post-production mashing all the elements together.”

Rydholm also credits Jones with making the show even more fun to produce.

“When Bomani joined [earlier this year], it took a lot of the pressure to deliver compelling content every day off of Dan’s shoulders,” he said. “Because Bomani knows so much, he and Dan can play off of one another. And I think of this show, rather than being a show that’s based around debate, it’s two guys who collaborate. They build off of each other’s points most of the time.”

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