Behind The Scenes

Versatility the calling card of ESPN’s Hubbarth

Top: Cassidy Hubbarth with Pedro Gomez (r) and Rick Sutcliffe on the set of Baseball Tonight.; Bottom: Cassidy Hubbarth on the set of NFL Insiders.
Top: Cassidy Hubbarth with Pedro Gomez (r) and Rick Sutcliffe on the set of Baseball Tonight.; Bottom: Cassidy Hubbarth on the set of NFL Insiders.

ESPN commentator Cassidy Hubbarth is making an impact.

The established NBA Tonight host is showing off her versatility this summer by expanding her role and hosting Baseball Tonight, NFL Insiders and NFL Live. She’ll also add college football to her resume this fall.

Hubbarth, who is esteemed by her colleagues, including analysts, producers and show staffers, has made the transition appear seamless, even amidst deadline coverage, breaking news and working with several new analysts, reporters and producers.

She discussed with Front Row the ways she is embracing her new opportunities, her favorite on-air moments this summer and more. (Note: Check out Cassidy’s must-follow Twitter account).

In what ways have you embraced these new opportunities?
After having focused solely on the NBA for eight months I knew I just had to dive in head-first to get caught up with baseball mid-season. I found the best way to get up to speed quickly was to be around the show crew as much as possible. Shadowing and watching games with the analysts, producers and researchers and hearing their takes on certain teams, players and situations was the best research I could do. Just like on NBA Tonight, a big part of Baseball Tonight is developing relationships with the analysts and understanding each person’s strengths so you can get the best out of them on air.

Producers Praise for Cassidy
Bruce Bernstein, ESPN NBA Coordinating Producer:
“Cassidy brings a warm, inclusive personality, which allows her to develop genuine chemistry with analysts and other staffers,” said Bernstein. “She’s positive, opinionated and she sets very high standards for herself. Her presence is almost like having a second producer on the show.”

Gregg Colli, Baseball Tonight Producer:
“It’s been refreshing to see Cassidy come on board and be a sponge,” said Colli. “She’s very attentive and she’s quickly become comfortable with the content and the flow of the shows. Cassidy has used her personality to fit right in, like she has been here from the beginning of the season.”

On NFL Live and NFL Insiders, the show crew is also a big reason why the transition has been smooth. Our morning meetings are so informative and really help set the tone for the show. In fact, our meeting really should be its own show.

In what ways is this expanded role allowing you to evolve as a host?
Any time I work on a new show, I have nerves and butterflies. I actually think if you’re not nervous when you start something new you’re not taking it seriously. Finding ways to feel more and more comfortable on air no matter the content is, to me, a true sign of growth as a host. Working on several different shows at one time, with a number of different producers and analysts forces me to really have to focus on how I communicate my needs as a host.

I also have to make sure I am communicating with the analysts and producers about what they need from me. Working on a highlight show like Baseball Tonight, in addition to discussion-based shows like NFL Insiders and NFL Live, I am challenged with all aspects of the hosting role. This experience has forced me to focus on improving the fundamentals of being a point guard on the desk.

What have been the most memorable on-air moments for you so far this summer?
My first Baseball Tonight just so happened to be the same night Deandre Jordan broke Twitter with his decision to stay with the Clippers. Normally, I would have been on basketball Twitter all day live-tweeting the story but all of my focus was on baseball that night. It was just ironic that for one of the biggest nights of the NBA off-season, I was focused solely on baseball. Now granted, after the show was over, I stayed up way too late reading all the reports but it was certainly indicative of how my role has changed this offseason.

The most memorable moment for me so far on NFL Insiders was deadline day for franchise tagged players to sign long term deals. I had been hosting the show the three days leading up to deadline day so I felt comfortable handling any news that popped up and that’s exactly what happened. From the moment we started the show, the story rundown went out of the window. Our insiders were getting live reports while sitting on the desk throughout the show and I was jumping in and out of phoners and talkbacks with the likes of Mort [Chris Mortensen], [Adam] Schefter and Cowboys reporter Todd Archer. It was a high-energy, exciting show and the unpredictability of it all made it a really fun show to host.

Editor’s note: This week, Cassidy will appear on today’s Baseball Tonight (ESPN2, midnight ET), NFL Live (ESPN, Thursday, 3:30 p.m.) and NFL Insiders (ESPN, Friday, 2:30 p.m.).

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