Interview with Beau Estes of TBS/TNT Sports

Last October as the MLB League Division Series was underway, I was watching TBS Hot Corner online and was in the midst of writing a post and saw Beau Estes for the first time. I proceeded to rip him and studio co-host Matt D’Agostino. In a surprise, Beau sent a nice e-mail to me saying he was thankful that someone was watching.

Since then, we’ve exchanged e-mails and Beau kindly agreed to do an interview with Fang’s Bites to discuss the return of TBS Hot Corner and his role as a host/reporter at Turner Sports over the years. The interview is below:

Fang’s Bites: First, thanks for doing this interview after I ripped you last October. I’m glad that you have a sense of humor about it.
Beau Estes:
No problem. I’ve found it’s always wise to have a sense of humor especially when one of the parties involved has the words “bites” and “fang’s” in his monicker. In truth, I was thrilled that people were watching.

FB: Touche. How did you get involved in TBS Hot Corner?
I am an anchor and reporter for Turner Sports Interactive so jumping in with Hot Corner was a natural fit. My regular roles have me covering a few of golf’s major championships; namely The Open Championship and the PGA Championship, as well as most of the NASCAR season.

In the past I’ve also hosted the Braves studio show on TBS (just prior to Erin Andrews who turned out more than ok I think) so there was a background in baseball that I could draw from. I think the people at Turner Sports knew that I was itching to get back out to the ballpark and I was thankful to them for giving me the opportunity to do that.

I know that TBS and worked together on Hot Corner. As far as you know, will the two be partners again this season?
BE: I know that TBS is working to build off of the momentum we developed last year during the playoffs on Hot Corner. The playoffs are obviously the thrust of these efforts, but I know that they are hoping to develop unique content during the regular season as well. What that content will be is currently being hashed out, but I can say that one of their main goals is to give our users the best access possible. From my perspective, I think the idea is to provide a window for our users to see those – behind the scenes – “wow” moments that so many of us as reporters are able to witness.

FB: What were some of the memorable moments for you covering last year’s playoffs?
BE: Well, since I wasn’t able to meet Alyssa Milano, I’ll have to go with something that happened during a rain shower prior to Game 3 of the Divisional Series at Wrigley Field. It was one of those “wow” moments that I’m hoping we can continue to deliver to our users in the future.

As the raindrops started getting heavy just after batting practice I sat by myself in the Cubs dugout preparing to file my first report for Hot Corner. Just moments after I sat down Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks walked out and sat right next to me. It was just the two of us alone in the dugout at Wrigley field with nobody around. I had interviewed him the year before during the PGA Championship at Medinah and so we started talking about his golf game, then Cubs baseball and his seemingly limitless energy. It was a moment I’ll never forget. The guy truly is a living legend.

What will your role be for Hot Corner this season?
We haven’t discussed a formal “role” at this point. The conversations have revolved more around ideas for taking what was a great start with TBS Hot Corner and improving upon that. Since the majority of my work is as a studio anchor though, I always welcome the opportunity to get out in the field and witness events first hand. No matter what though, I trust that Turner Sports is quite confident in my abilities and will place me where I am most useful to them.

FB: Was the fact that so many people were watching Hot Corner during the playoffs last season a deciding factor for TBS bringing it back in the regular season?
BE: I know that Turner Sports was very happy with the number of viewers and perhaps we owe you a debt of gratitude in that regard. Whenever people respond to what we do I know that it inspires everyone involved in the project. Frankly and simply, it makes us want to do a better job for the people who might be stuck in their office or cubicle around the world, but still want to connect with and follow the game. For those people, we are often the only broadcast they can get.

FB: Turner has been quite proactive in establishing its online presence for its big events like the NBA, NASCAR, the PGA Championship and Hot Corner. Do you see other networks following Turner’s step in this direction?
I suppose it is already happening a bit, but yes, Turner pioneered this type of broadcasting to a large extent. If other networks aren’t working frantically to catch up with what Turner has done I would be surprised. What I like about Turner is that they are constantly pushing that envelope in the broadband broadcasting world. They are always asking the questions “what is next?” and “how do we make this better for our users?” For my money, that is the recipe for continued success.

FB: Have you enjoyed your tenure at Turner?
BE: Turner has been great for me and I hope I’ve been pretty good for them as well. Getting to work in the same studio with the same group of people that do Inside the NBA has made me much better than I ever imagined I could be.

FB: Where else have you worked?
Prior to Turner I hosted a High School show on the local CBS affiliate in Atlanta and for about two years I was an anchor and reporter with FSN South in Atlanta.

FB: When did you join TBS/TNT?
BE: Actually I began working on Turner’s NBA coverage in November of 1994 while I was still in college. To get back to Turner in an on-ca
mera role I did a “high school to the pro’s” move.

While hosting a prep sports show in Atlanta I auditioned for the Braves studio role. My test was good enough for them to give me the role of studio host going into the 2001 season and like most “high school to the pro’s” stories there was quite a few learning experiences and perhaps one or two growing pains. Following my Braves gig I hosted the Atlanta Thrasher’s studio show and was a sideline reporter for the Atlanta Hawks on the now defunct Turner South network. I took off from there for FSN South for a couple of years, but am now thrilled to be back with Turner.

FB: What has been your most exciting assignment thus far?
BE: That question is about as tough for me to answer as “what is the meaning of life?” On the High School show I covered Jeff Francouer when he was a prep star and watched him win back to back football and baseball titles. For pure fun, that would be hard to match. Believe me when I tell you he would have made the NFL without much difficulty.

The Braves studio show on TBS was a sort of validation for a kid’s dream of becoming a sportscaster so that was a thrill.

Being the worldwide online play by play voice for Tiger’s last two PGA Championships is something that I am very proud of and haven’t quite got my mind around. I think the significance of that is something that will grow as time goes on.

Reporting from Carnoustie at last year’s Open was maybe as excited as I’ve been – and on a personal level it was an absolute thrill to cover the 2005 UNC National Championship hoops team.

Still, what I always go back to though was getting to meet and work with James Worthy. Growing up in Charlotte, he was the basketball icon.

FB: So you didn’t get to meet Alyssa Milano. What can you tell us about Heather Catlin and Kelly Cross? And do you think the producers will allow you near Alyssa in the future?
Heather and Kelly, along with Matt and Chris, are terrific. I know what it’s like to be responsible for hosting eight hours at a time of live coverage and I really thought they did a great job. Both Heather and Kelly are a lot of fun – but they also know how to get the job done on the air and I think you could see that from our product last year.

As far as the producers letting me near Alyssa all I can say is my fingers are crossed. From all that I’ve heard she was very knowledgeable and maybe as impressive – quite down to earth and easy to work with.

On some level though, I suppose it’s best if I work on the other side of the country from Ms. Milano. I’m afraid my reports if in her presence would have a sort of Brick Tamland “I love lamp” quality if she were nearby.

FB: Thanks once again for doing this, Beau. The fact you’re willing to be interviewed after I ripped you shows you’re a better man than me.
BE: I don’t care if I end up singlehandedly saving the human race from disaster – I’ll always hope you link to me as “the guy I ripped last October.”

If that unlikely scenario plays itself out, and only then will I begin to consider myself “the better man.” It’s been fun – thanks.

Once again, I’d like to thank Beau for doing the interview over the last two days. And I’ll have an interview with Rodney Vaughn, the producer of TBS Hot Corner coming up soon.

Ken Fang

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.