When ESPN2’s daily sports talk program Highly Questionable returns to the air today (4 p.m. ET), viewers will notice an immediate difference in the program’s look and feel.
Show hosts Dan Le Batard, his father, Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard, and Bomani Jones will no longer offer their humorous – and sometimes controversial – take on the hot sports topics of the day from a 1950s Miami kitchen. Instead, they will be on a colorful new set, with a window behind the panelists offering a South Beach view of palm trees, sand and surf.
As part of an agreement between ESPN and Miami Beach’s Clevelander Hotel, new television and radio studios have been built inside the facility for Highly Questionable and for ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show, with both getting their first use today.
“Highly Questionable was launched three years ago and was always designed to reach out not only to Dan Le Batard’s Hispanic background but also to his affinity for Miami,” said Mike Foss, ESPN supervising director, studio directing, one of several ESPN departments involved in the project. “We were looking for a location that really spoke to the true intentions of the show and to highlight and better integrate the show into the Miami culture.”
The Clevelander Hotel, located in the center of South Beach and part of the Miami sports and entertainment scene for more than 75 years, provided exactly what was needed.
The hotel will display an ESPN Studios logo outside the building and there will be ESPN-themed signage in the hotel’s “Game On” sports bar. ESPN premium items will be available for purchase in the hotel and the two shows will also include references to the hotel in each airing.
“The Clevelander itself as a venue presents us with a number of great opportunities to shoot outside, to interact with fans, and to be able to touch the public,” Foss said. “In a TV studio, you don’t always get that opportunity.
“We can support multi-camera opportunities from a variety of locations in and around the Clevelander and having that flexibility should prove valuable to many different shows and situations.”