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Multi-tool player Olney preps for ESPN Radio analyst debut tonight

ESPN MLB reporter Buster Olney will make his ESPN Radio analyst debut tonight alongside play-by-play voice Adam Amin when the Boston Red Sox visit the Tampa Bay Rays at 7 p.m. ET.

Olney has contributed to ESPN’s baseball coverage across a variety of platforms since 2003. He has been the sideline reporter for ESPN’s flagship Sunday Night Baseball since 2011. He also voices the popular Baseball Tonight Podcast and is an MLB senior writer for ESPN.com, but tonight’s radio assignment will be a “first.”

Olney discusses the ESPN Radio analyst role and how he prepared for it with Front Row.

Editor’s Note: Tonight’s game will also be available on ESPN with Jon Sciambi, Rick Sutcliffe and Eduardo Pérez in the booth. The telecast will be subject to blackout restrictions in the Boston and Tampa Bay markets.

Is there a radio commentator you grew up listening to or tried to emulate?
My family didn’t have a television when I was growing up, so my formative baseball experiences were built around listening to games on the radio — Ned Martin doing Red Sox games, Bob Prince on KDKA in Pittsburgh, etc. I would flip Wiffle balls and rocks to myself, playing imaginary games, and I probably imitated Prince more than anyone.

Has anyone given you advice before your ESPN Radio analyst debut?
I am planning on picking the brains of Adam Amin and [Jon] Boog Sciambi to get their input, but I think my role as sideline reporter on Sunday Night Baseball is actually good training. Waiting for the appropriate spots to drop in info and thoughts, remaining cognizant of not overlapping the pitcher’s work and not feeling compelled to saturate with info will all apply to tonight’s analysis as well.

Will you approach the game differently as an analyst, as opposed to a reporter?
I am just going to go more layers deep on my preparation. On Sunday Night Baseball, I try to think of ways to complement analysts Jess [Mendoza] and Boonie [Aaron Boone]. In this case, I’ll need to provide the core analysis. I will be writing out a whole lot more notes, for sure.

ESPN Radio producer Dave Shore on preparing Buster Olney for his analyst debut
Buster Olney
(Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

ESPN Radio producer Dave Shore is looking forward to working with Buster Olney on this assignment.

Shore said: “I was so very impressed when Buster was given this assignment as it shows the true scope of the talent of our on-air staff. Few are as connected and respected as Buster is among players, coaching staffs, front offices, and fellow broadcasters. His analysis can be technical when needed but can weave together the landscape of each of the teams, personnel, and the topics important to today’s fan base. I simply have told Buster to be himself. My role as producer is to let (play-by-play commentator) Adam Amin and Buster breathe, have a rolling conversation with each other, and identify when to maybe expand a little more on a great topic or game moment as the broadcast goes on. Entertaining a diverse national audience for an entire nine innings is a challenge and Buster, like all of our analysts, brings a unique perspective, insight, and humor to the booth.” — Tara Chozet

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