Are you aware of the fact that there are professional sports in Springfield? If not, don’t worry, as you are not alone.
However, rather than letting ignorance run wild, a few Springfield College students saw this unawareness as an opportunity. Now, every Wednesday evening from 5-7 p.m. on ESPN 1450 The Hall, Ryan Matlack, Corey Hanlon and Sam Dostaler hit the airwaves.
During the trio’s airtime, they inform listeners of what’s going on with the Springfield Armor, part of the NBA Developmental league (D-League), and the Springfield Falcons, members of the American Hockey League (AHL).
The premise for the show, entitled The Average Joe Show: Back to the Minors, started with Matlack while he was interning for the Armor. During his time with the team, Matlack noticed the lack of attention the Armor and the Falcons were getting. He took this information and teamed up with Hanlon and Dostaler, who all have interned down at ESPN 1450 The Hall, and the three pitched the idea for a show.
The Hall eventually approved the idea after collaborating with Springfield College professor Kyle Belanger. Belanger, a co-host of The Average Joe Show, broadcasts his show Monday-Friday from 5-7 p.m. Since he and his other co-hosts had virtually stopped broadcasting on Wednesdays, he backed the trio’s idea and helped them get the time slot. To help even further, Belanger and his co-hosts allowed the three’s show to adopt the name, The Average Joe Show: Back to the Minors.
Although only four shows in, the “Back to the Minors” crew has made their mark. Each week, they have hit the air informing listeners of D-league and AHL news. Yet, with each broadcast, the three realize they face an uphill battle: making people care. Since the New England area is pro-sports crazy (i.e. Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox, etc.), how can the trio make listeners care about these lower-level pro teams?
One way they face this issue is by opening up people’s eyes to something major they are overlooking: the fact that there is some great talent in the two leagues.
The Falcons are currently tied for eighth in their conference and in contention for a playoff spot. In addition to the team’s overall success, many players within the team have found their way to the NHL. In fact, the Falcons have had 21 players throughout its history play at least 100 AHL and NHL games, most recently, Manny Legace. The veteran goaltender has rejoined the Birds this season.
In their short existence, the Armor has made a splash within the NBA. Actually, within the last year, the Armor has sent three players up to the NBA: Jeff Foote, Jerry Smith and Dennis Horner.
Yet, spewing facts is not the only way the trio makes listeners want to tune in. Another tactic utilized by the three is getting accredited people on the show with them. These people help them to gain more insight or provide a different perspective.
Since hitting the air, Back to the Minors has already hosted the Worcester Sharks PR representative, the same man who was responsible for Rob Gronkowski’s “puck spike.” In addition, Bob Crawford, aka the voice of the Connecticut Whales, has made it on the show as well. Not bad for only four shows.
However, it’s not all about grabbing new listeners, but making the loyal one’s happy. Currently, Matlack, Hanlon and Dostaler are hosting a “Biggest Armor fan” competition on their show.
“The idea comes from the fact that the Armor has such a strong following and so many loyal fans,” said Matlack.
The competition entails asking Armor fans an array of questions. These queries range from basic questions, such as, what year were the Armor established? (Hint: 2009). There are also more intricate questions, such as, who led the team in scoring during their Dec. 2 loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants? (Jameson Curry, 28 points). Although the prize for the winner has yet to be determined, the three firmly agree it will be worth it for the winner.
So, if you call yourself a sports fan, by the time 5 p.m. on Wednesday rolls around, you should already be listening to The Average Joe Show: Back to the Minors.
Who knows, you might even learn a thing or two.