With the heavy turnover in Austin television news, it is easy to forget that the sports directors have been here for many years. FOX 7’s Dave Cody has 27 years, KVUE’s Mike Barnes, 23, KXAN’s Roger Wallace, 17, YNN’s Ricky Doyle, six, and KEYE’s Bob Ballou, five.
In the fourth of a five part series, Ricky Doyle explains what it’s like to “feed the beast.”
YNN Sports Director Ricky Doyle asks a rhetorical question: “What sports director hasn’t complained about not having enough air time?”
That’s not a problem for Doyle, 33, who has all the time in the world as he tries to feed the always-hungry beast that is Time Warner’s 24/7 Austin cable operation. Not only do Doyle and his three sports video journalists contribute six minutes of sports to YNN’s main news channel every hour, they have their own 24-hour sports channel to fill. Is it ever difficult to occupy the time?
“It can be tough in the summer, but this year we went big on the Olympics,” Doyle said. “You have to be creative. I went to the swimming trials. I do a running segment and reporter Julia Morales does a fitness segment. We can do things other stations can’t.”
Busy Evenings at YNN Sports
Doyle records his first sports segments for the news channel at 6:45 p.m. to air at 7:12 p.m. and 7:42 p.m. These are replayed throughout the evening at 12 minutes and 42 minutes past each hour with Doyle inserting updates, like game highlights, into each sportscast without having to re-tape the entire segment. He tries to have a finalized sportscast ready to go for the 11 p.m. hour, barring a late significant event which will keep him on duty as long as necessary. The final sportscast replays overnight and into the next morning, but Doyle will come to work in the morning if a major sports story breaks overnight.
The core six minutes of sports from the main news channel then becomes the main section of each hour on the 24-hour sports channel. In addition, Doyle and his sports crew record weekly segments, like extended versions of University of Texas Coach Mack Brown’s Monday news conference, another with the Texas State Bobcats and still another with the Baylor Bears.
The YNN sports crew also launched a 10:30 p.m. Thursday night show, “Your Sports Now,” last March. From September-November it is exclusively a live high school football show, with previews of the game of the week, in-studio interviews with a coach, feature stories on top high school players/teams and a recruiting segment. During the non-football season, the Thursday show can cover any significant sports topic.
“The goal is to eventually expand the 'Your Sports Now' brand to a nightly 30-minute show,” Doyle said.
Friday Night Lights a “Blitz” at YNN
Friday night high school football is big at YNN, as it is at most of the competing network affiliate stations. YNN’s show, “Blitz,” runs at 10:30 p.m., then moves on tape to the sports channel for multiple plays. The program won the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters award for Best Sportscast in 2011.
YNN also produces a 90-minute “Longhorn Gameday” pregame show before every Texas home game, plus the Red River Rivalry game against Oklahoma University in Dallas. The show is live from the UT Alumni Center on both YNN Austin and YNN Sports.
In addition, YNN Sports carries live Southland Conference games on Saturdays and taped Westlake High School games on Sunday produced by the school students with YNN traffic reporter Joe Taylor’s radio play-by-play added.
Doyle supervises a staff of four, including weekend sports anchor Mike Berman, reporter/fill-in anchors Julia Morales and Joaquin Sanchez and sports producer Dennis Kelly. All are video journalists who shoot and edit fresh video packages, and Berman, Morales and Sanchez all get to anchor regularly thanks to Doyle’s busy travel schedule to out-of-town sports events.
“I enjoy working for News Director Michael Pearson,” Doyle said. “He’s there when you need him but hands-off when you don’t.”
YNN Sports Director Learned Craft at ESPN
Doyle learned the art of footage selection and good editing as a production assistant at ESPN following his undergraduate years at Boston College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications while traveling across the country as the play-by-play announcer for the student radio station.
Following his ESPN stint, he returned to school for more on-air training at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where he earned a Master of Science in Journalism degree.
Doyle started at YNN (then News 8) more than six years ago, moving from KKCO, the NBC affiliate in Grand Junction, Colorado where he was sports director for two years. He joined YNN when the 24-hour sports channel was launched, beginning as a sports reporter/producer. In the spring of 2007, he moved up to weekend sports anchor when John Hygh moved across town to FOX 7, and three years later he was promoted to sports director.
Doyle grew up in Seattle as a fan of the University of Washington Huskies.
“I was hooked on college football then, so I can't think of a better place to work than Austin, watching the 2006 National Champion Longhorns,” Doyle said. “I thought I was coming here for a few years, but the job has worked out well and I love the city,” Doyle said.
Echoing his colleagues at the other stations, Doyle marvels at how well the competing sports directors get along.
“At first, I was little intimidated considering how long the other guys had been here,” Doyle said.
Doyle also found a bride here. He and his wife, Courtney, wed just last year.